dear sf 2/4

08.12.22

drafted by ducking into soleil cafe for a rooibos steamer missing the writing circle by a hill and five minute delay from a morning coffee chat.


dear san francisco,

i moved here to increase the global maximum 🍕🍕🍕 of shared moments with my twin, from a few shared memories during holiday visits to a few each and every week.

it’s been fun reviewing all that’s fit into this last year. with a larger density of enjoyable moments per week paired with the pandemic’s spaceless time dilation, it has felt like a few years packed into one. for that richness, i’m both enamored by what’s next and grateful for what’s been.

let’s review the many moments worth celebrating this last year.

1. peak moments include

valencia street block parties. being able to call the slow streets in the mission our front yard has been an experimental canvas to design different gatherings and ways to meet our neighbors. making the first one a super extra fancy brunch paired with a pop up gallery (h/t to cole for the collab) was a highlight. playing with the monthly themes included global cuisines, local music, and large group chalk murals. this is definitely a scale up from a farmer style table in boston pop ups.

alemany's farmer market pizza. as a shared ritual with my twin, the copper oven fired market special kickstarts every saturday in an epic way. the walk around the market accompanying the single sought after dish is like a museum curating everything in season.

4am indigenous people gathering on alcatraz. it was a special way to start the day and beautiful moment in fire, dance, music, and spoken word to celebrate the protest of 1969. (h/t sheel for the recc)

2. food highlights include

greens paired with long now foundation bar. the fort mason area is perfect for sunset and meandering. greens was the first meal i fully appreciated the californian take on vegetarian, which felt similar to moosewood in ithaca.

arizmendi focaccia pizza paired with tepache. im delighted that there is a place that does a single thing so well: daily pizza specials. it’s also cool to see co-operatives share cookbooks and operation playbooks as this is the third generation of cheese board.

yamos paired with drafthouse movie. the stand up room only burmese spot is where a great dinner feels more affordable than the average dinner out. it pairs well with the full movie experience at drafthouse. seeing everything, everywhere, all at once with bottomless parmesan herb popcorn was quite the introduction to a dine in movie experience.  

3. ungrammable moments

ie. the ones in between that can’t be captured via phone camera, and yet are equally cherished.

holiday orphan gatherings. it feels like an exhale to be able to gather with other holiday misfits, roam between homes, and find belonging in the chaos of transplants. while much of the city is on exodus during the holidays, the peaceful stillness that’s in the streets and the hospitality from the families here made holidays more enjoyable than in recent years passed.

meditations in muir woods. exploring martial art meditations with land spaces has been an intriguing practice, especially the ones in muir woods. the redwood forest is deeply nourishing and enchanting to walk through. h/t steve for the coaching support.

the grocery stores. yes, i'm a food nerd, and in the mission, my first set of favorite walkable places were the grocery stores. each and everyone has it’s own personality. 24th’s fresh produce is fresh and friendly and always pairs well with fresh sourdough from arizmendis. duc loi’s dense array of southeast asian ingredients is complemented by the indian grocer on 22nd.

samiramis has a broad array of spices and great fresh mezze ingredients, including lebnah and muhammara, complementing the wholesale spice and herbs from scarlet sage. bi-rite’s specialty offerings are vibrantly special, and rainbow grocery soothes the soul with their bulk, specialty food items. the tortillaria on 24th pairs well with the scattered array of fresh vegetables and specialty sour creams in the Mexican grocers.

weekly orchestra of people in dolores park. the rhythm of the people who flow through dolores park feels exactly what a public green space should be in a city. morning dog walkers are up at sunrise surrounded by the peaceful quiet of the city not quite awakened by its first cup of coffee. the brighter the sun gets, the sooner parents with strollers begin walking. the later the morning, the more energy little kids bring running and yelling.

by early afternoon, high school kids start to hang out joined by people taking their lunch outside. the later afternoon starts to get a work from home crowd taking their first break outside while still tethered to email as well as a second call for the daily dog walk. the evening sets lively picnics, evening strolls, and characters that make this city. on the weekend, the whole park opens as a rock concert with legal to have open container and the view as the main stage for all who enjoy the sun.

some things that surprise me

and i'm unsure i'll ever get as an east coast transplant

the california goodbye

“let’s hang out soon.” whether it’s a few seconds met or few hours in, everyone ends with an intention less open ended, non-committal good bye. on the east coast, when someone said something like that they meant it and followed up sooner rather than later. this openness still confuses me.

playing social chess as an introduction

checking in with “do you know x?” “how do you know y?” while often seemingly harmless, on repeat it feels hollow and impersonal to the person present as who you are and where you are going are determined by a social vector of who you know. i am beginning to understand it as a mental hack for familiarizing oneself with relations of a deeper social fabric, and i’m curious if there’s another way to make it happen outside of a greeting. 

the pay to play model of the parklet

the potential freedom in the streets is realized by slow streets and all different parklet setups, and yet, the pay to play model is the only one that’s sanctioned. on the first walk down valencia st, you had me at the beautiful sidewalk landscape at ritual coffee. then, with each block explored, the more each space only extended an internal business model versus enabling people to gather in the street. thank you yellow moto pizza for integrating your parklet in a way that feels very European as it’s performative to walk by and fun to feel the dining vibes.

the "i know exactly where that is" over there point👉

everyone knows where things are from their internal compass pointing there or there. my favorite takeout spot is over there 👉, or i have a friend who lives three blocks that way 👈. one year in, i've started to adopt this too.

slowness to find a new openness post pandemic

there is a level of extreme caution in the air for what kind of public interactions are okay because of each covid variant continuing to come along, especially when other cities were more free flowing. i wonder what will help open up people and the spaces in a way where everyone feels welcomed.

and as this list rounds off, some of the highlights cannot be fully captured by photo nor feel like they make a greatest hits list, like walking home from grocery stores with friends and sitting outside on roofs.

because you hold ambition so well, i'm surprised you can equally support the moments that feel worth celebrating in daily and weekly life. in boston, it was an intellectual ambition disconnected to other dimensions of life, like weekly themed dinners. thank you for the complimentary pairing.

as the honeymoon phase begins to close, the harder parts of this relationship are becoming more clear. there are certain things that i'm curious to talk more about in the next piece that don't make sense to me.

until next time,

michael

ps. this piece was inspired by perell’s “what’s up with austin?"


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made with 🖤 in sf.