Polysyllabic "San Francisco" has been subject to every possible contraction and abbreviation. While "SF" might be more en vogue, "Frisco," fueled in part by too-clever Twitter ironists, has made a recent comeback.
Or maybe "recent" and "comeback" needn't apply. As the Chronicle recorded in 2003, dyed-in-the-wool San Franciscans were flocking to 1996-founded Frisco Tattoo to get themselves permanently emblazoned with the term they've always used, irony-free.
So maybe it's no surprise and not particularly noteworthy that an unknown party has just plastered the Mission with "Call it Frisco" fliers. As Capp Street Crap observes, the posters' motives are vague and only a date — the 29th — is listed.
Some Reddit theorists speculate that the fliers are the latest effort to divide us from the saboteur-types at GayShame, a queer, nihilist-leaning group of shitstarters who most recently targeted tech workers with their flier campaigns.
So, why would this be in any way controversial? Well hello and welcome to San Francisco. That would be in part thanks to Chronicle Columnist Herb Caen's famous interdiction, "Don't Call It Frisco" — also the name of his book — wherein he argues:
"Don't call it Frisco. It's SAN Francisco, because it was named after St. Francis of Assisi. And because 'Frisco' is a nickname that reminds the city uncomfortably of its early, brawling, boisterous days and the cribs and sailors who were shanghaied and because 'Frisco' shows disrespect for a city that is now big and proper and respectable, and because only tourists call it 'Frisco' anyway and you don't want to be taken for a tourist, do you?"
Though his words are usually interpreted seriously, Caen can also be read as ironic, critically voicing another person's opinions and not his own. He himself once added that "the toughest guys on the old S.F. waterfront, neither rubes nor tourists, called it Frisco, and no effete journalist would have tried to correct them." The Weekly also begins to unravel that class element in a piece called "Don't Call It 'Frisco' — If You're Old and White."
Later, Caen further amended his plea to "Caress each Spanish syllable, salute our Italian saint" observing something about the life-cycle of "Frisco" and the human life-cycle. "Adolescence," he wrote, "is believing that 'Frisco' is a racy nickname for a city; senility is automatically saying 'don't call it Frisco,' maturity is figuring it doesn't matter all that much..."
Perhaps the 29th, then, is a day that calls for maturity.