I like my men, dogs, and cities with a certain scruffy charm.
San Francisco’s charming – but scruffy? Not so much anymore.
Don’t let the hoodies fool you: there’s expensive hair cuts and skin creams behind there, and the yoga pants are pricey too. Even the head shops are well-kept, and the vaporizers sleek and high-tech.

I met two men on Corona Heights, and our small dogs met, and matched. We stood around the bench admiring the view: the sharp diagonal of Market Street, the rainbow flag at 17th, the buildings punching up into sky, the bay shimmering and Mount Diablo beyond. One of them said “I can’t wait till the Salesforce building gets built!”

I had to ask him to say it again – sure I must have heard him wrong.
I snarled, “I’d like to tear ’em all down!” Then I told them about the drones I had seen being flown off Corona Heights: “Drones, can you believe it?” And he said “Drones, wow, cool!”

I was indignant, but even more, I felt the forces of this place rearranging themselves in a way that did not include me. I was not in favor of buzzing, whining machines in a place of wind and hawks.

But perhaps I’m irrelevant. Perhaps this place changes and moves on. Do you fight the tide, or allow the change, perhaps even move to a different tidal zone? Do I want to preserve what’s great about San Francisco, or am I just that old lady yelling at the kids to get off her proverbial lawn?

The morning had promised heat, but the fog was moving in, licking around my elbows and down my forearms, minty and cool. The air in San Francisco is more bracing than relaxing, and nothing stays still in this town.

With a Perspective, I’m Joy Maulitz.

Joy Maulitz is a San Francisco lawyer, poet and radio host.

SF: Scruffy to Sleek 31 August,2016Amanda Font

  • america___first

    I’m sorry that you seem to have lost a love for our beautiful city. Many of the rest of us haven’t yet become cold and jaded. I, for one, see a bright future despite the massive problems left by the last generation. With a strong community effort we can overcome nimby homeowners who came before us and “got theirs” already to build more housing for those seeking an affordable city to call home. We can continue to build beautiful buildings that will eventually become jewels of the San Francisco skyline. If you will recall, people like yourself hated the pyramid fervently. It is now iconic. Would you have protested construction of the Golden Gate Bridge as well, with all the buzzing machinery involved in its construction? Those drone owners are probably making breathtaking panoramic videos, drinking in the picturesque landscape they once viewed on postcards but now are privileged to see when they wake. Yes Joy, your perspective is that of a bitter person snarling at newcomers to get off their lawn. They’re just wide eyed and hopeful that perhaps one day they can have a lawn of their own. Cheer up and get yourself a hoodie. It’s been a chilly August.

    • suji724

      A parent doesn’t “lose” his/her love for a wayward child, they simply feel sad. Joy’s perspective is anything but “cold and jaded”. It is a sincere and heartfelt response to the fact that every square foot of a tiny 47 square mile area is having its life blood squeezed out of it, all for the sake of greed. As far as the “jewels” of San Francisco’s skyline, are you referring to the ultra-luxury debacle called Millennium Tower? One has to wonder what other pop-up “jewels” will be sinking (at an alarming rate) in the near future, all for the sake of greed. Perhaps the Peeping Tom dronies were using their “props” to satisfy their voyeurism – a legitimate concern today as seen in new legislation being considered, as well as implemented, throughout the country regarding their use. Interesting, all I read is Joy’s amazing love for a city internationally known, like Paris, for its unique character and charm. But, unlike Paris, it is now slowly and deliberately being suffocated under the ugly and repulsive motivations/desires of investors and developers, all for the sake of greed. So, before you get too snug in your smug, perhaps you are not aware of the fact that San Francisco’s historical ebbing and flowing is as real as its 1906 earthquake. So, keep your hoodie handy because with current indicators leaning toward an ebbing on the horizon, not only has August been a chilly month, but wait until the winter comes, all for the sake of greed.

      • america___first

        All for the sake of greed? Is it greedy for people to want to live in the city? Are newcomers just not welcome here? I have many friends who worked their entire lives to build a career that would allow them to escape bad situations back home in the south and pursue a dream of living in San Francisco, a city that they hoped would welcome them, living up to its reputation of openness and acceptance. Many of them have been greeted with signs saying “die techie scum” and the like. One could quite easily make the case that it is greed and selfishness that drives the prior generation of homeowners to block new housing for these people, driving up their own property values and ability to rent at obscene rates. I assure you, it’s not the newcomers who are the entrenched interests here.

        Your assumption that anyone with a drone is a Peeping Tom speaks volumes about your views of others. Do you assume anyone with a telescope or camera is a voyeur as well? Try giving people the benefit of a doubt that they’re genuine and good. You may actually make friends with some of your new neighbors. Unfortunately, it may make it harder for you to broadly stereotype them and attribute malicious intent.

        If outlooks like these are not cold and jaded, I’m not sure what is.

  • Tyler Jones

    Your perspective brought a tear to my eye for this beautiful but sick city. The new young urban professionals are changing this city, but I can’t help but think how many ways it had changed since before I was coming here as a little kid. I am an active musician in the city, skateboarder, pinball and beer enthusiast, and mad chiller. I am here to stay. I am here to push and help shape the city once again, with my dollar and my voice as my vote! We <3 you San Francisco, please get better soon!!!

    Keep it up Joy, spirits strong, and I hope to see you in this big small city!

  • Michael Hack

    Your outlook is so well-expressed, Joy. I grew up in the Bay Area and worked in downtown SF for 42 years so have witnessed what you describe. Until I read your “blog” I didn’t realize I was feeling the same thing. I have observed the change, of course, but you so articulately and poetically worded your thoughts and senses that it occurred to me that they were my words too. Thanks for this beautifully-written piece.

  • Long

    The native Indian would have the same loss-feeling during the gold rush years.

    The sense of beauty is inside your mind. You will learn how to change your perspective to love your surrounding, just like your mother has to learn to like your hair style.

    Each generation brings something new and causes something lost.

    • suji724

      Your mean comment speaks volumes of who you are and I bet you fit right into the devolution side of San Francisco these days.

  • SooperMarket

    By her own account, Joy does not sound like a very kind or generous person.

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