From SF Weekly
Notes from Utopia
By Moshe Kasher
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
In the wake of the Polar Vortex, another media-concocted buzzword for “weather that proves we are murdering the earth,” aren’t we smug Californians just a little more thrilled that we decided to live in this sunny utopia?
Perhaps the “sunny” part doesn’t work for us here in San Francisco, but certainly “utopia” does? Sure it’s foggy, but isn’t it the best place on Earth? I mean yes, Mark Twain did once say “the coldest winter I spent in blah blah blah” …. SHUT THE FUCK UP MARK TWAIN! The guy was also a willy-nilly user of the N word so who cares what he thought?
The Bay Area is special. We have something that no one else does: the highest rent in the universe. But also other stuff! I live in L.A. now (release the hounds!), so I know all too acutely the pain of living without El Farolito. I know the suffering that comes when, upon awakening, the stark reality of a cup of Philz being more than six hours away hits your brain with more disruptive force than a Google bus displacing your grandparents from their neighborhood.
This is the nightmare I live through. Having tasted the manna of the Bay, I now trudge through the stark reality of “life” in Los Angeles. I am barely able to get up most mornings and make it to my numerous television call times and constant high-powered Hollywood lunch meetings. What’s the point?
But I come back to my home — the place I grew up, the place I started doing comedy. The place I learned the difference between farm-to-table tomato foam and farm-to-table tomato water.
The truth is, I’m not even from San Francisco. I’m from Oakland, or, as it is colloquially known, “the place you said you’d never even visit until you were forced to move there by the skyrocketing rents.” But, growing up next door to the crown jewel of Northern California (not counting the medicine fields farther north), you know how lucky you are to be in a place of such great significance and beauty.
Now’s when I get sincere. This place is special. I’ve been all over and I’ve never seen anything like the morning in San Francisco when a bank of fog crawls over the hills like God is whispering a secret to the city. I’ve never been more content than sitting in my car on Grizzly Peak and watching the sun go down over the bridge. I’ve never felt more excited than a Sunday afternoon looking out onto the bay when a thousand little boats dot the water like someone sprinkled white-privilege sugar all over it. I’ve never eaten food like they have in the Bay Area. I’ve never drunk coffee like that. I’ve never met people like that. I’ve never heard hip-hop like that. I’ve never been to warehouse parties like that.
I’ve certainly never had a burrito like that.
I’ve never seen anything like the bay. That’s what Tony Bennet meant, man, gentrification warts and all. There is no place like where I’m from, and no matter how long I live in L.A., my heart is still in utopia.