April 16, 2004

And yet, and yet...

I wanted to post part of this piece by Bill Quick, partly because it's really fine stuff about life in San Francisco, and partly because some leftish-bloggers I've encountered excoriate him as the very type of the ranting right-wing evil blogger. That bugs me, since I once met Bill, so it's fun to present a little of the real person...

...I heard the series of shots that killed the policeman in the story above. I heard eight shots, in rapid succession (though not the distinctive chatter of full-auto fire) , sharp pops that sounded to me like pistol or light caliber rifle fire. This is my neighborhood. This is the neighborhood I live in. [Bayview] Most San Franciscans, when they learn where I live, recoil in horror. "You live there?" they gasp. "How can you stand it?"

I smile inwardly. These are the same "good" San Franciscans who marched for civil rights back in the sixties, who would never, ever use the "N" word, who vote for every nanny-state do-gooder program that funnels taxes to black people collectively, who worship at the altar of affirmative action, and who, on occasion, even try their hand at a bit of ebonics, to show how "down with it" they are.

They are appalled at even the thought of living where I do.

And yet, and yet... My neighborhood is about sixty percent black, twenty percent Hispanic, ten percent Asian, and ten white. Some of the worst, most dangerous public housing projects are within five or six blocks of my house. But my neighbors are good people. We are like most other neighbors. We wave at each other, stop and chat, exchange tips on how to encourage the grass on our tiny lawns, bitch about the condo association, worry about our spouses and our kids and our car payments, gripe about the politicians, and in general are indistinguishable from any other group of suburban town-house owning, mortgage carrying, weed-whacker-wielding, backyard-barbecuing denizens you could find anywhere in the U.S.

The "bad part of town," for us, at least, is "over the top of the hill." We don't go there, not if we can help it, none of us black or white, yellow or brown. It's dangerous up there. That's the land of welfare, subsidized housing, entitlement, ghettoization -- and drug wars and gangs and murder at the drop of a hat. Yet even there, the hard core of the hard core - those who do the actual slanging and banging - number less than a hundred. The rest are hangers-on and wannabes, but they aren't killers. Not yet. And everybody else pays the price for the reluctance of the government - for racist reasons or whatever - to pull those hundred off the street, lock them up, and throw away the key...

...We've got some of the best weather in San Francisco, some of the best views, the sort of quiet you usually only find in suburbs, the sound of wind in the trees, the smell of the Bay, and the occasional red-tailed hawk soaring high overhead. My roses are about to burst into bloom, and I've been harvesting my own kumquats and oranges for weeks now...

I used to live on Mission Street near Holly Park. Also an iffy neighborhood, with whites a minority. But I never met an unpleasant neighbor. And the black church downstairs, a tiny storefront affair, had singing that was out of this world.

What fascinates me is how in the city things can change drastically from one block to another. When I lived there I never walked east. Things got dangerous in that direction, and I doubt I ever went half a block. But I would take long walks at night, in the other direction, with one block to the west taking me into Diamond Heights, another world entirely.

Charlene saw the funeral procession for the policeman today. She said it was at least three miles long, with hundreds of motorcycle cops.

Posted by John Weidner at April 16, 2004 8:08 PM
Weblog by John Weidner