Saturday, March 31, 2012

Heck on Valencia Street

First time in years, ages, maybe decades, since we've been at a restaurant on Valencia Street in San Francisco's Mission District looking out at the sidewalk in the evening, and, cripe, has the place ever changed for the ritzier. We ate a whole dinner in seats by the front window of a lovely Indian restaurant (Dosa on Valencia, much recommended) and, looking out, saw not a single genuinely visibly poor person the whole time.

That is, we decided not to count as "poor" a too-cute young couple with too-cute backpacks who briefly poked through the trash can on the street corner and later smiled and waved at us cheekily through the window. Guessed they were doing some kind of hypercool scavenger-safari tourism, trying to see how long they could go without spending money that they actually did have, probably posting their adventures daily to a tumblr someplace. That could be unfair, don't know. But, well, I don't know how to say this except that their auras were a little too shiny to belong to people who were genuinely broke.

So it's fairer to say, we saw nobody who seemed to be in any kind of serious trouble walking past our window the whole time we were eating dinner. On the Valencia Street J&I both remember from twenty or even ten years ago, that would have been odd.

Valencia Street used to be second-hand furniture stores and intermittent cheap hotels and radical bookstores and tough guys and tradespeople and vestiges of the street's pre-AIDS lesbian era. Now, gawd, acres of expensively dressed-down dollars. Mainly young and heterosexual. Boutiques, tapas bars, the whole nine yards.

(BTW, it seems those weensy-brimmed fedora-type hats are still in for men but knee boots must be on their way out for women. Been seeing way more knee boots lately around less fashionable Civic Center than we saw from the window on Valencia during dinner. Which is really too bad. You ask me, the boots are a better idea than the hats.)

And at the same time, the poor old main building of defunct New College of California sits there dead. For Lease.

Three or four big shiny corporate commuter buses whooshed up the street northbound while we were in the restaurant. That's another change.

On our way home J. overheard a young guy saying into a cell phone: "It's a heck of a lot better than owning." We decided he had to be justifying a high rent, and since he said "heck", he must have been talking to his mother. And that seemed like a perfect sign of the times to sum up the evening.

I tell you, it's heck out there.

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