My ignoble or certainly undistinguished naval career began in San Francisco in December of 1974 after temporary assignments to the English Department at Annapolis and for 8 weeks of ‘I can neither confirm nor deny’ weapons training in San Diego. I started-off this service on the wrong foot and, true to form, continued marching in that direction for over four more years. Even when things went right, such as meeting Angela Nardo of the USO for coordination of a ship visit over Halloween ’75 by a couple of frigates of the Royal Canadian Navy, they usually pivoted as when I transferred suddenly to Hawaii having known Angela for only a few months. In the meanwhile, my sister moved to the Bay Area from high school graduation and was left by her brother with a full two weeks of notice, but, hey, I’d just met Angela!
Despite my too brief tour, I’ve felt a kindred spirit with the City and even the East Bay (my turf was Oakland) in ways that I could never relate to the Valley of computer fame even though I’ve returned there numerous times in nearly every job that I’ve held. San Francisco became a special place the minute that I crossed the Bay Bridge upon arrival and remains so every single time that I return. It retains its aura no matter how many Google-ites drift north or how many start-ups root south of Market Street.
Halloween was not the outrageous adult night out in the 1970s that it is today. Really! Sure there were costumes and Trick or Treat parties and M-80s for blasting pumpkins (so I’ve heard) and nothing like the Mardi Gras in October we experience today. Maybe it was because of the malaise that President Carter described. However, Halloween in San Francisco has always been a sort of national holiday except that many visitors cannot distinguish who is in costume and who is not on the other days and months of the year. If I say ‘Castro’ and you know what I mean then you know what I mean. Of course, the other hills, valleys, wharfs, squares and towns of the City have their casts and characters too. If I say ‘Orient Express’ and you know what I mean… same deal.
This is not a homage to the city nor a jaunt down memory lane – well, it is in a way. I think of the Giants and how they won the pennant having been down 0-2 to Cincinnati and 1-3 to the Cardinals. They won three straight versus the Reds (best of 5) and three in a row versus St. Louis before sweeping Detroit in four. Quite the feat for a weak hitting team whose best player was suspended for drug use (steroids) and whose two better pitchers had poor seasons (Lincecum and Zito). I thought that the Joe Montana and Bill Walsh 49ers epitomized the City with their atypical and clever brand of football. Theirs was a system of interchangeable parts making the utmost of the prevailing talent. It must be the air or the water or the Anchor Steam because the Giants play the same way. The pieces fit well together even though the roster of this year’s champions is a reformation from the 2010 Championship team.. the brainy and brawny Buster Posey excepted.
In the end, pitching is what matters and the Giants have plenty to spare. Come on, Lincecum in relief of Zito! Hit that in 36 degrees in Detroit. I’m happy for them and the City and all of their fans who miss its vibe because once you’ve felt it, there is no other place like it. And no matter what your station in life, SF fans are egalitarians. Just ask my buds at the Harris Teeter vegetable section and the Kiehls’s counter at Saks; neither one minds that I’m software sort.
What does this all mean in the bigger picture of modern life? I foresee Obama winning over Detroit Mitt. Not that Chicago is the Bay Area; more that the electorate is out of the mood for smash-mouth politics and related, extravagant spending. I sense that they’d like to see the Obama team pull it together, come from behind to win the election and force the other team to play a more cooperative, more imaginative style of ball the next four seasons.