From Stab issue 58: Stab reveals the metropolises where a man can lock down a satisfying occupation, be entertained in the most degenerate manner, where he won’t be vilified for his free expression and where a hunk of fiberglass can be put to exceptionally good use…
Number four is: San Francisco, US
Hills, chills and Grecian thrills! Leave that towel at the door and apply oil to the trembling hindquarters of wretches with names like Buddy, Pal, Sport, Top, Buck and Ace! Welcome to the Rainbow City!
Run that eraser over the Frisco clichés, howevs, and you’ll find a city that hums with innovation (Silicon Valley!), fizzes with cultural commentary from intellectuals (home of the beatnik!) and musicians (the Oh Sees, Ty Seagall) and… … the reason y’here is for waves, ain’t it? If your limbs aren’t the sort that seize in cold water and your heart isn’t the kind that arrests at big waves, this is your town…
Why you’ll want to live here: First, you have the 10 km expanse of Ocean Beach – that’s 10 clicks of great beachbreaks with everything from huge Noreiga Street for the big-wave surfer, wedge’s at Kelly’s Cove for fly-boys and the south beaches of Sloat that offer inside sandbar tubes. Novelty waves include the fabulously dull left under the Golden Gate Bridge (Fort Worth). And, light up the highway to Mavericks (one hour south) if you really feel like a thrill.
Where to stay: Stab prefers a room in the ghetto at the Phoenix. It’s 99 bucks a night (with free overnight parking!) and located in the down-at-heel neighborhood called the “TL” or better known as the Tenderloin. If adventure in rough parts of town ain’t your kink then try other hotels up and around Union Square.
Getting out: You want indy? Dive into the Cafe Du Norde, The Great American Music Hall, Bottom of The Hill and The Fillmore. If your tastes drift electronic, there are tons of tiny little techno clubs like 222 Hyde and Public Works. If it’s a bar you seek, you’ll want to inflate a speakeasy – high-end bars where passwords are needed to gain access. Stab’s favourite is Bourbon and Branch. Gain access to their library bar with the password “Book”.
Grinds:The food is out of this world. Flour and Water is rated of the top two restaurants in America. The Mission District is food heaven. Del Fina is incredible Italian and for a good lunch sandwich light up Ray’s Sandwiches. Their Vietnamese sandwiches are to die for.
Violence: You like gang violence? Here it’s kinda mid-level for California. Joe’s Boys and Wa Ching shuffle throughout the city and you probs don’t want to be walking through the Fillmore late at night by yourself and the lower part of the TL can get bad, too. Stab recommends you walk with purpose. The Lower Mission has some Mexican gang violence which you may find entertaining. Stab has seen muggings in the Lower Tenderloin and last year bounced into town just after a drive-by. It ain’t dull!
Surfers: Most really good small-wave shredders come from Santa Cruz, 100 clicks to the south. But San Francisco has a crew of big-wave paddle-in surfers that are some of the ballsiest in the world including Ben Andrews, Grant Washburn, Ryan Seelbach and wee Alex Martins.
Cultural hits: Artist like San Francisco. And, Ocean Beach itself is starting to become a thriving art community. Everyone from landscape photographer Ansel Adams to the father of hipster surfing Thomas Campbell have called San Francisco home at one point. It’s also where’ll you find the HQs of Facebook, Google, Twitter and Apple, if those names mean anything to you.
Politics: It’s a very liberal city, and for Australian readers, that ain’t liberal as in the distorted version we have here, but as in free expression. Anything goes! The gay bars, cheap and fun, welcome you even if that ain’t a slope you wish to descend. San Francisco is a city where you can drink beers and smoke blunts down main city streets with almost reckless abandon. Very much unlike Los Angeles.
What kinda job am I doing here? Everything in the city revolves around bartending, waitressing or a computer science degree. A computer science job will start you off at 80K but rent for a two-bedroom studio in a slightly crappy part of town will run you $3500 a month. And, for a place in a good neighborhood like Noe Valley your rent might keep strolling north to $6500 – and those places are auctioned to the highest bidder! Parking garages are 400 a month. The Mission District and the gay Castro are some of the warmest neighborhoods and the sunniest, vibe-wise.
How about the water? No trunks, ever. Spring can get super brutal with water temps hitting eight degrees. But mostly, the brine’s around 12 and that means 4/3mm of rubbski and booties required year round. Sharks, too, of the significant Great White variety.
The Good and the Not-So-Good
+ Cultural and sexual adventures lay behind every door. What boundaries will you cross tonight! No name necessary! Leave your towel at the door! Santa Cruz is just down the road a ways, too. A ton o swell hits the joint. Tech jobs and venture capitalists are open to your biz ideas (if y’gots some).
- A weirdo climate that hardly shifts from 20 degrees year round. Water’s too cold for humans.