And furthermore, Susan…

Music – Frank Zappa – I Don’t Wanna Get Drafted

Thanksgiving week is the second-best time of year to be in San Francisco.  Ours is a city of transplants and immigrants and exiles, the accumulated riffraff of an entire nation, but for four or so miraculous days, we “locals” are left in peace.  The Douchebag Exodus starts gradually on Monday, and by Wednesday morning the airports are packed with twenty-something Easterners flying back to whatever frozen, oil-slicked cesspool they call home.

I don’t know where they all come from, or why they choose San Francisco.  They accumulate here like filth on a drain grate.  Schools like Brown and Middlebury and Boston College must have some kind of Liberal Arts Graduate export program.  I imagine stern, whip-wielding men on horseback herding hundreds of goateed, messenger-bagged literature majors into box cars, issuing them leases for apartments on Valencia and pre-faded Red Stripe t-shirts before locking the heavy doors shut.  To New England and Cleveland and Chicago, San Francisco has become what Australia was to Britain, except instead of sending us criminals they send us white people with knitted beanies who really like Modest Mouse.

I can only hope the exchange isn’t one way.  I hope in return there’s some neighborhood in New York that’s overrun with Vallejo hoodrats in over-sized Warriors jerseys and Donald Duck parkas.  I hope there’s some suburb of Philadelphia that’s full of red-eyed Chico State dropouts selling overpriced bags of weed cut with astroturf.

It’d only be fair.

But on Thanksgiving, the Invasion retreats.  The streets are emptied, the traffic dissipates.  A clear, fresh wind blows, and there’s not a Red Sox hat in sight.  Mission coffeeshops look like ghost-towns, and the Phone Booth is lucky if it gets two customers a night.


The only exception is San Francisco’s startlingly large population of Steelers fans, who I assume don’t go back to Pittsburgh because:

A) they’re wanted for rape, assault, or B&E in Penn.
B) they’re too poor for a Greyhound ticket.
c) they don’t have families because, rather than being born, they simply coalesced out of Pittsburgh’s polluted, putrid air, their bodies a physical manifestation of cheap beer and pure fucking malevolence.

Thankfully they pretty much keep to themselves.


For the curious, Thanksgiving is indeed the second best time to be in San Francisco.  The first is the week of Burning Man, when legions of worthless artsy scenester fuckwits, regardless of origin, take their bikes and a backpack full of tight jeans out to the desert, leaving our city a briefly hipster-free heaven.

A Paradise. A San Francisco without dbags or photography enthusiasts or bloggers. It would be like Aspen if all the rich suddenly emigrated.  It would be like Hawaii before the invention of air travel.  It would be like Florida if all Floridians swam out into the ocean and drowned.

It would be pristine, unspoiled.

Alas, the letters I’ve written to the City Council suggesting that we dynamite the bridges while the assbags are away remain woefully unanswered.


On Friday, Jo returned briefly from LA, and with Claire and some others we discussed the Eastern Occupation at length while getting ripped on gin and tonics at a blissfully uncrowded Elbo Room.

“LA is just as bad, if not worse.  Up here you get a nation’s worth of scum.  In LA we get that shit from around the globe.  Everyone’s a screenwriter or a lawyer or a prostitute, and they all carry knives.”

“It’s so much less noticeable, though.” I pointed out.  “The sheer volume of shit may be higher, but people born in LA are so fucking unbearable that there’s no sharp contrast, no point of comparison.  They’re just vermin with different accents and strange clothes.”

She went on to tell me stories of all manner of awful things she’s witnessed first-hand at parties in the hills overlooking Los Angeles.  I consider myself reasonably worldly, reasonably hardened against the ugliness of life in our time, but fuck, there’s some bad shit going on down there.

“…this dude had a bowl of cocaine and was playing showtunes.”



“Wow. Showtunes?!”

“Fucking Thanksgiving parties.”

I forget that, though I’ve had occasion to run with some seriously reprehensible fucks in my time, people deeply lacking both ethics and good taste, there’s a whole other level of atrocious villainy accessible only to the super-rich.

I had never really considered it before.  I suppose in some deep unconscious part of my brain I suspected that there is a higher caste of well-dressed degenerate that I’d never had occasion to encounter, having been educated in public schools and raised in the middle class.  An entirely separate USC-attending trust-funded drug-addled amoral aristocracy.  But to hear direct accounts of them, of verifiable sitings in the wild, is something else.

I shudder at the thought.

This year, give thanks that you weren’t born in LA, and don’t have bowls of cocaine and showtunes at your holiday parties.


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