When you first fall in love with someone, during that first dizzying, marvelous honeymoon phase, however long it lasts, you and your new love feel like you're always on the same page. You have sex at random times of day. You want to tell them everything, show them everything, explore every inch of them and memorize all their habits. But eventually that excitement fades a bit. Circumstances shift. Maybe you get a new job and decide to move, or maybe they just stop feeling the same way about you after you get this new job and make a few new friends. You might be able to grow with each other and work out each shift in your personal landscape, or you might not. And if you don't, you'll break up. Those of us who have been through a few breakups know that as miserable and unique as each one may feel, this is a universal experience, and you are not unique. You can write a song about it, or a poem, but you should not expect too many people will want to listen unless it rises to the level of great art, because this is pretty well worn territory, artistically speaking. You also might not want to exhaust your closest friends for too long with tales of your lonely woe, or why your particular breakup is the worst there ever was.
This is how I've come to feel about peoples' various laments about the changing face of San Francisco, its tech wealth, high rents, unfair income distribution, craft cocktail temples, corporate shuttles, and rapidly increasing density and development. I hear you, buddy. Change can suck, and she isn't exactly the city I married either.
But just like I wouldn't expect my significant other to be exactly the same person two decades in, or expect him to take up tennis with me just because it's my new obsession even if he has a bad knee or expect him to be completely unfazed and cheerful if we had a new baby who didn't let us sleep, or expect him to support me if I decided to take up a debilitating drug habit I do not expect San Francisco to remain exactly the same place I first set foot in in 1997, when I immediately went to Clothes Contact because I didn't bring a jacket in July.
And just like you shouldn't embarrass yourself by sending 300 texts to your ex in 24 hours or stalking her outside her building a month after she's broken up with you, you should perhaps refrain from lengthy diatribes about why San Francisco will never be cool again because of any of the following: four-dollar toast, Google buses, valet on Valencia (Slanted Door started that in the '90s), twelve-dollar cocktails, high rents.
That's how I feel about this LCD Soundsystem ripoff that's making the rounds (see below) by the duo of Kelly Niland and Chris von Sneidern. It's like, guys, we get it. The Mission isn't as "scrappy" as it was in 1998. But at some point stuff like this just makes you sound old, and stuck, and bitter. Just like James Murphy funneled his sadness about the changing and ever-gentrifying face of New York, you are free to do the same for your beloved Mission but maybe writing an original song that didn't have a forced reference to the proximity of 280 in it could have done more to sell your point.
San Francisco is objectively getting more crowded. Many parts of the city are a lot bougier than they were 15 years ago. But we're a long way from completely losing our edge, or "becoming Manhattan" as everyone since 1975 has feared also, bring on the tall buildings, please! As has been said a hundred thousand times, cities change, and if they don't change, they die. Expecting you can preserve every last relic of retail, or believing that rents should never rise is neither economically realistic nor wise. And New York sure ain't what it was 30 years ago, or even 10 years ago, but I think even James Murphy has moved on, and the ladies of Broad City seem to be making a go of it just fine.
I am not arguing that gentrification is always good, or that the wealthy deserve to kick out poor families, or that unjust evictions shouldn't be protested and fought. But when it comes to the laments, and Facebook groups like Vanishing SF that exist solely to spread the news that everything is terrible and tech wealth has ruined the city, don't you just kind of want to shrug and be like, "Sorry, friend. She had a change of heart. What are you gonna do? Maybe it's time to move on."
If I am ever pushed out of San Francisco by circumstance, or the inhumane forces of the market, I will be incredibly sad. I'll want to write a song about it too, maybe. Or a lengthy, angry essay. But there's a time to protest, and to wail about what's been taken away from you, and there's a time to buck up, be strong, and work with what you've got. We still get to share this beautiful place, and I wouldn't go without a fight. But I'd like to think I'll keep my dignity either way, and accept that the world will keep spinning whether Clothes Contact stays open or not.
Previously: San Francisco's Population Boom and How It Impacts You
'New York Magazine' Officially Bitter It's Not In San Francisco