To tide all three of you over, here are Anthony Bourdain's thoughts on my current home. For the most part, I think he does an excellent job of describing it. Tune into the Travel Channel tonight to see the SF No Reservations.
I'm Not Angry
By Anthony Bourdain on August 9, 2009 11:57 AM Permalink
Let me come right out and say it. I love San Francisco. I am helpless and unwavering in my affection--in spite of every effort over the years to find fault, to dismiss, to sneer. And there's surely lots to sneer at, San Francisco and the Bay being pretty much the epicenter of so many of my most cherished aversions: political correctness, veganism, rich hippies, sanctimoniousness about food, food fetishism, animal rights terrorists, gastro-dogma, and loud locavores who actually get their produce flown in from Chino Farms in San Diego.
But at this point, I bore even myself railing against the above. Hell, I'm not even bitter about San Francisco taking the lead in banning smoking anymore. They won that battle long ago. Game over.
I guess it's like any love that's true--sooner or later you learn to accept the good, bad and silly all together. It's all part of the package when you know, without any question, that you want the package. It doesn't even matter if one's love is returned.
Okay ... it does still drive me berserko watching a blissed out St. Alice, burning up a few cords of firewood (in Berkeley no less!) to cook two eggs for an unusually credulous Lesley Stahl.
But in general, I got it all wrong, didn't I?
It may be the town of Alice Waters but it's also home to Dirty Harry. The Grateful Dead? Yes. But also the Dead Kennedys. The excrutiating and treacherous lite FM sounds of the Jefferson Starship? True enough. But also Blue Cheer, the Count Five, Big Brother, Sly and Family Stone and the greatest band that never was: the Brian Jonestown Massacre. None of these entities could have come from--or taken root--anywhere else.
I don't think you could have one San Francisco without the other. If the San Francisco area weren't the perceived headquarters of anti-foie gras forces, I doubt very much there'd be an opposing force doing something as crazy as developing a foie gras vodka. I don't know that a less crunchy community would require a stuck-joyously-in-time museum of beef like House of Prime Rib. It's like a yin and yang thing ... a balance, man, one thing creates a need for another.
San Francisco, underneath a gossamer thin veneer of granola is in fact, a two-fisted drinking town, a place of oversized martinis, silver zeppelins overloaded with bleeding slabs of meat, restaurants you could call "institutions" that defiantly refuse to suck, and in an ever tidier, cleaner, Disneyfied world--where even New York's Times Square looks like a theme park, still, a delightfully nasty, dirty, beautiful, carnivorous, vice-filled town.
And you can, apparently, recklessly careen around town at high speed in a rented Mustang (from whom we received, by the way, absolutely no money, consideration or thing of value), shooting guerilla-style, possibly without appropriate permits or safety precautions--and the local constabulary can be remarkably understanding. I doubt they would have been as tolerant of the impromptu filming of a car chase where I'm from.
Oh ... and I'd like to mention that though Swan Oyster Depot does not appear in the show (because we shot a segment there for the previous series), I ate there almost every day while shooting in town. Mopping fat and roe out of those Dungeness crab backs with sourdough bread and washing it down with a cold beer? Perfect happiness.