REMEMBERING HOW WE DID IT
Dutch is, at times, a marvelous tool to have in one's gereedschapskist.
It can be expressive and eloquent, as well as pleasantly unpleasant.
I am actually rather glad that it has limited circulation.
English is the common tongue of the world.
Often badly written.
Languages have different strengths. While English has flexibility and can be used with nuance and subtlety to great effect, French and Italian are better for songs, German is ponderous, and perfect for expressing existenzangst and nihilism, and Cantonese combines swear words and curses with greater eloquence than almost any other tongue.
Perhaps it says something about me that I have learned how to speak, albeit not fluently, in Cantonese, whereas my mastery of the other three lingua francas mentioned is at times rather fragmentary.
Though I can read German rather well.
"Auf nihilistische weise fluchen über existenzangst!"
A significant part of it was because of local environment. San Francisco had significantly more Cantonese speakers than Italians, Frenchmen, or even Germans. And I did not particularly seek out the presence of the local Dutch community for reasons that no one needs to know.
That was then. This is now.
North Beach, Chinatown, the Wharf, and the shopping and business districts have become the stomping grounds of well-heeled migrants from back East, who enjoy the colour and photogenism but largely avoid the natives. Poor people are, after all, far less interesting (or human) close up than the well-dressed consumers of imported luxuries, and while one values the contribution of dishwashers and retail clerks, one would far rather that they live elsewhere. South City, for instance, or even further afield. Real people do not cluster in crowded housing, depend upon public transport, or shop for fresh vegetables at any other place than Whole Foods.
Real people do yoga or pilates.
Oh by the way - Ferry Plaza is just darling!
Real bread, craft beer, and organic food!
It's very clean and almost European!
And everybody speaks English!
This quadrant of the city used to be more Cantonese than it is now. There were fewer bars, and less public misbehaviour. But our real estate moguls have profited enormously in the past few years, more condominiums are going up on corners where there were abandoned churches, copy shops, gas stations, and groceries. One sees more precious Chihuahuas and toy poodles than children on the streets, and what one hears late at night from the nearby intersection indicates a far greater interest in televised sports and big rambunctious boobies than ever before.
This is less of a family city than it was.
Also, there used to be more statuesque drag queens floating around. That, too, might be a sign that our standards have gone down and the city isn't what it used to be.
A city that lacks statuesque drag queens and immigrant families is, when you think about it, no better than the all the anonymous and depressing burgs in Flyoverstan.
I wonder what Cleveland and Detroit are like.
Probably dull, depressing, and Waspy.
Mayor Ed Lee would love that.
No more shrimp-paste!
More than ever before San Francisco is perfect for tourists, single urban professionals and consumerites, and snobs.
A garbage boutique.
We could also do with fewer bros.
But that's just a thought.
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