I haven’t lived in the (a) city since I was 17. But I guess the roots are still there, as my pulse quickens and brain revs up when I’m out and around in San Francisco (or Manhattan, or Rome, for that matter). I’ve been in SF for 4 days now, and loving the variety of things to do, places to eat, intensity of contacts. We had a fantastic day yesterday at The Green Festival. Our brand-new book, The Barefoot Architect, is a huge hit. We sold over 50 copies yesterday. People love it. It’s got the good vibes of its author, Dutch architect Johan van Lengen, who runs the TIBA school of building in the Brazilian jungle. It sold 200,000 copies in Spanish, is also in Portuguese, and this is the first English edition. It’s now a sunny Sunday morning and I’ve ridden my Micro-Tek 3-wheeled push-scooter about 2 miles over to Ritual Roasters, my utter favorite coffee shop in SF with skillful baristas, great lattes, and fast wi-fi connection, getting my caffeine fix, an almond croissant, and checking the news.
I grew up here and thought the whole world was like San Francisco. Little did I know. There were 26 kids on my block, and we owned the city, traversing it on bikes, rollers skates (with metal wheels), and electric streetcars. In the ’40s, the streetcars had cow catchers front and rear. The cow catchers were hinged and let down on the front end of the streetcar, and strapped up on the rear end. Our technique was to crouch down so the conducter wouldn’t see us, run up and hop on the rear cowcatcher. We rode all over the city, including through the 2-mile tunnel from West Portal to Castro Street, sparks flying from the rollers on the electric wires overhead. A thrill! I still love San Francisco. No, it ain’t what it used to be, but what is? It’s no longer a working port (of any significance), it’s expensive, the skyline is marred by the jerk-off ugly Transamerica Pyramid building, etc. But it’s still got soul, and culture up the kazoo, and retains its spirit of freedom and tolerance.