Thoughts on San Francisco

Yesterday I visited the California Academy of Sciences in the heart of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.  As beautiful and therapeutic as the city’s green expanse is, folks from flyover country can’t easily forget just what an epicenter of liberalism it is either.  Less than a week after Mayor Ed Lee renamed prosaic-sounding Middle East Drive, I had the honor of seeing with my own eyes the newly-christened Nancy Pelosi Drive.

I can imagine the mayor telling the city council they would have to pass the renaming measure before they could find out what the street would be called.

Now there’s been a great ballyhoo about the U.S. Census release claiming that white babies are now a minority.  If you’re somehow concerned about this, don’t worry; all the unaccounted-for white kids can be found being pushed in strollers through the California Academy of Sciences museum.  There, they learn valuable truths, like the fact that toilet bowls do not harbor a safe supply of emergency drinking water.  Seriously though, I did enjoy exhibits like the rain forest and the planetarium show.

Like many other Americans, I drove a car to reach my Memorial Day weekend destination. Coming from the Sacramento Valley–which is worthy of the flyover country honorific in it’s own right–I decided to skip the parking lot that is called Berkeley, taking instead the scenic U.S. Highway 1/101 south.  As I passed Muir Woods, I was reminded of last year’s blockbuster remake Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  In the film’s climax, sentient apes escape a grossly distorted, Hollywood version of San Francisco, fighting authorities in a pitched battle on the Golden Gate Bridge before swinging to the freedom of Muir Woods.

What do I mean by a distorted, Hollywood version of San Francisco?  The protagonist’s neighborhood looks less like a crunched row of Victorian three-story homes than it does a line of oak-shaded tracts transplanted from the middle of Anytown, USA.  There are no hemp-adorned hippies, hat-and-beard hipsters, or any hint of Chinatown.  The film depicts no Asian-Americans save the heroine, India’s Frida Pinto.  That there would be a corporate science facility doing testing on primates in the environmentalist Mecca-by-the-bay strains viewers’ credulity.  And rather than flee before the apes, some San Franciscans would surely take to their side to hurl rocks against mounted police.

In one sense, I suppose I shouldn’t find these logical lapses strange or noteworthy.  After all, Hollywood, like much of the rest of the Golden State, is a land where make believe rules.

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