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List-o-Mania ’09: Top SF Topics

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Yup, it’s list time, and I’m not immune from it. We’ll be doing lists this week, starting with the things most San Franciscans were talking about or living through.

It hasn’t been an easy year, that’s for sure. But as you’ll read below, I think we’ve seen worse. In any event, for those of us who love our city, we’ll be around to see better times. The rest of you can move to Phoenix. Have fun.

1. The Economy.

Duh. For me personally, that is to say, as a person, I was laid off the week of the presidential inauguration, and apart from a couple of odd jobs, have spent the entire year unemployed. Boo hoo. Membership to that club isn’t exactly exclusive, to say the least.

And yet, despite my own predicament and the unavoidable news of national catastrophes on Wall Street AND Main Street … I don’t know. If you were here in this city in 2001, you’ve seen worse.

Subjectively, it FEELS different this time. A couple of my friends/peers have been laid off, but most of them are still working, and full-time at that. Objectively, the data reflects that San Francisco’s unemployment rate, while no barrel of monkeys, has hardly been clobbered to the extent that other municipalities have, or the state at large.

2. Gay Marriage.

It’s a strange time to be a supporter of gay marriage in this city, watching other places in the nation run the torch that WE lit to the finish line while we’re forced to watch from the sidelines.

But now what? The issue goes round and round in the courts. Proactive activists on the pro-marriage front, not content with sideline status, differ on whether or not to give the voter initiative process another spin.

As a straight man (not in the Bud Abbot sense), I still have some skin in the game (okay, no more sports analogies!). I TOTALLY thought of this before anyone else did, but you have to DO something with an idea, so while I’m a bit chuffed, I’m glad someone’s doing something about it. Hit these pious rubes where it hurts, I say.

3. Transit.

No matter how you choose to get around in the city (bike, BART, bus, boots, Benz), this wasn’t an easy year.

Bikes – San Francisco’s streets have been rated among the worst in the nation. You could spend the entire stimulus just fixing potholes.

BART, bus – Does anyone manage to add insult to injury quite like our local transit system? This involves our beloved MUNI, BART is only guilty by association, as MUNI is responsible for the unholy alliance of service cuts WITH fare increases. So sad that when I moved here from SoCal, I actually admired local public transit.

Boots – It has become increasingly difficult for pedestrians to get along with our non-motorized friends on wheels. By “get along” I mean not grab one of them as they blatantly disregard you and punch said commuter in the throat. And by “non-motorized friends” I mean a bunch of assholes with a douchebag sense of entitlement because they’re socking it to the man. Keep it up bikers, and you’ll find you won’t like your new status any more than drivers like Critical Ass.

Benz – Because of said potholes, drivers in San Francisco spend a lot more on car maintenance than almost anywhere in the country. And before this year, who the hell knew what an eye-bar was?

4. Food in the Hour of Chaos.

Like I said before, this recession feels different than the dot bomb earlier in the decade. One way this has manifested itself is in the culture of food.

Whereas in 2001, the food scene was defined simply by the closure of scores of restaurants that had thrived during the bubble, this year was just as well defined by what has popped up, not only because of the economic situation, but in spite of it.

We may be undergoing a complete food revolution in this country, but there’s no question it’s already happening in San Francisco, and not even the threat of a second Great Depression could stop it.  Since top chefs didn’t have the option of moving to Vegas this time around, they got creative, and local denizens came along for the ride.

It was hard, being broke, but I managed to take advantage of some of the pulsing trends in food in ’09 – the street food craze, the Mission Street Food craze, even the unbelievable and totally unsustainable SF Pizza Bubble of ought-nine!

5. Blog, blog, blog.

Did you start a blog this year? Everyone else did, me included. And not just this one! I also have been fortunate enough to be featured in my friend Jeff Diehl’s supercool blog, Spots Unkown.

And it’s only the beginning. When I started my humble Sunnyside neighborhood blog earlier this year, I was all alone out here. Since then, at least three covering this area have popped up.

On the larger scale, though, local blogs are supplanting local media outlets like SF Gate. Sure, SF Gate still has its place – you’ll note many links to the site in this piece. But really, while they work well to link to for feature pieces, more and more locals are depending on blogs for local news.

What’s going on with La Rondalla? What’s up with the plans to renovate the Safeway down the street?

Turns out the interest in local and sustainable goes beyond food.


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