Thursday, September 26, 2013

Art Returns to San Francisco

Okay, I admit, capital-A art never left San Francisco. The deYoung is still there and the Legion of Honor welcomes guests. It's just that the last few decades have been hard on the lower-case art scene in San Francisco. Many struggling musicians, artists, and writers can't afford to live in the city.  And nobody likes to fight their way in during commute hours. I know ten writers in the East Bay for every writer who lives in my 7 square miles of paradise.

The view from my writer's garret
I fell in love with San Francisco in 1977, a young woman in search of something to live for after an unexpected tragedy, and have been in love ever since.  San Francisco, you were the first beautiful thing I found in that difficult time. More days than not, you take my breath away.

I almost had to leave this city when rents skyrocketed. Luckily, with the patient help of agent Michelle Bouchet, I fell in love with San Francisco in 1977, a young woman in search of something to live for after an unexpected tragedy, and have been in love ever since.  San Francisco, you were the first beautiful thing I found in that difficult time. More days than not, you take my breath away.

Our little redwood box of a house was built in 1945, and served as the destination of choice for many African-American families who earned a middle-class living in the shipyards during the war. It stayed at least 50% African American until the new millenium, when the pressure for housing hit made this neighborhood the most culturally diverse in San Francisco, welcoming Asian, Latino, and Caucasians alike. Without much effort aside from day-to-day respect and courtesy, we all get along. The neighborhood had a few tough years, so everyone here is interested in keeping it safe for the kids, safe for the elderly, safe for everyone.

Best of all, there's a surprising amount of artistic work going on here. My next-door neighbor just dropped a record (Mo' Cubic Inches, which he says is a car motor reference). My husband writes, pencils, inks, and publishes his own graphic novel, Tales of the Moonlight Cutter. Three Million William, down the street, has a lot of projects in development, all run from his barbershop kingdom. And I'm working on my first and second crime novels. Who knows what the kids in the rented house across the way are up to?

See all the Hopperesque warm light?
So far, my favorite thing about the neighborhood is the M-car, especially at night. The rails shake the ground with a deep vibration before an M-train drives by our house, and for a long moment after. The light inside each car is warm: every fifteen minutes from nightfall until I fall asleep, a little Hopper tableau drives by. It's magical.

Note: After composing this post, I learned there was a murder just a few blocks up the street. Just a guy getting off the M-car, shot by another guy from the same train. I think we'll rally, not retreat from each other. At least, I hope so!


10 comments:

Lisa Hughey said...

Mysti--welcome to the Pens!! So glad you could join us. :) What a lovely and fascinating glimpse into your neighborhood. So much more interesting than the suburbs....

Mysti said...

I hear you! About every six months, I start going stircrazy for someplace quiet and calm :)

Gigi Pandian said...

While I love San Francisco, I've always been more of an Easy Bay kind of gal, since falling in love with Berkeley at 18. So close to SF, a culture of its own, and not the same suburbia that I grew up in.

So glad to have you on board, Mysti!

Sophie Littlefield said...

aww mysti, what a nice love letter to SF. i'm so glad you have your neighborhood - and that it has you. :)

Mysti said...

Gigi--can I call it the Easy Bay from now on? I do miss easy saturdays near Grand Lake, just waking up, getting dressed, and walking outside. No preplanning!

Thanks Sophie!!!!

Juliet Blackwell said...

This is lovely, Mysti!!! Sorry I'm late to jump in...I'm out of the habit :-) SO great to have you here on the Pens! I love your neighborhood too...but I wish you were HERE

Anonymous said...

Me too! So many gorgeous Craftsman houses over in the Easy Bay!

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