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What It’s Like For A New Yorker To Be A Tourist In San Francisco

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WRITTEN BY SHAHBAAZ SINGH

I’m a critic at heart, but don’t take it too seriously, I’m from New York; Brooklyn, New York, to be exact. People from places I’ve never heard of think it’s the capital of Earth or some shit, and our egos are only limited by the loopholes in our city’s zoning laws (have you seen Billionaire’s row?). So nothing that comes out of my mouth has any good reason to be there, like that phallic monument you call the Salesforce Tower. See? I did it again, I can’t help it, I’m from New York.

I always thought of San Francisco as a New York for nerds.

I’m sure there was a good reason to call it BART. And I’m pretty sure my buddy Abe, who was picking me up from the San Bruno station, thought green was a good color for the headphones he had on his neck, but I digress, (EDITOR’S NOTE: Go fuck yourself.) I was here to see him, and the city he ended up making a meme page about.  I always thought of San Francisco as a New York for nerds. I mean, it’s a major tech center with a sexy grid layout, decent public transportation system, and rich cultural history. I was forced to leave Brooklyn for Michigan two years prior to visiting San Francisco and couldn’t call New York home for the time being. So I thought, if I’m going anywhere in the U.S, it’s gonna be “Nerd New York.” While on the BART train passing through Oakland, I saw it all. I saw that giant penis in the middle of the skyline, and a beautiful collection of bridges spanning across a bay that’s said to contain whales. I could see luscious green meld slowly with the city, as it rolled down the hills, and seamlessly turned into dense neighborhoods of Victorian style homes. I liked ”Nerdy Nature New York” so far.

Our drive from Oakland to Vallejo was simply a close up tour of all that I saw. We drove past hills, and large swathes of nature, untouched by the city. I’m sure the people who own land near it fought pretty hard to keep it that way, and I’m also sure that the reason I found such beauty in this city was the same reason people couldn’t afford homes.

After chatting with Abe’s roommates, I was informed we were headed to the city by ferry… which means I was actually living in the New Jersey of San Francisco. Of course, I wouldn’t utter such an insult to Abe in front of him, so I’m writing it here now. (EDITOR’S NOTE Vallejo’s shittier than New Jersey) Walking around San Francisco was wild. I saw the Trans America tower first and next thing I know I’m in fucking Chinatown 5 minutes later. The shops were selling “authentic” tourist items like an “authentic” California flag shirt. So I guess I really delved into the culture right off the bat. As I traveled throughout the city, alone or with Abe, I found a certain charm to the fact that everything was so close together. I thought NYC was compact, but this city’s got every tourist trap in 2 square miles!

I found a certain charm to the fact that everything was so close together. I thought NYC was compact, but this city’s got every tourist trap in 2 square miles!

The Piers had bomb sea food, and downtown reminded me of New York in the same way Chicago reminded me of New York… it was just finance people surrounding by buildings, and homeless people. More than I was used to, and as a New Yorker, I thought I had seen it all. At that point, I just wanted to see the rest of the Bay Area. I wanted to get out of the City and see Napa Valley, Oakland, and everything else. Abe took me to all the locations I wanted to see and even forced to me see more of Vallejo. He took me to the neighborhood Mac Dre was from and I was stared down by mean looking men in front of beat up tract homes. Which, you know, was fun?

While New York is home, I can admit the Bay Area has something to offer and it sure as hell beats Michigan…

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5 Comments

  1. Bob Abaya
    June 28, 2022 at 10:41 am — Reply

    Thanks for the fond look at our city, which I love. Except for minor breaks, it has been my home all my life. To put this into context, while I’ve never lived in NYC, because my daughter attended NYU (Tisch School of the Arts), just graduating last May, I feel NYC (East Village specifically) is my second home, and I somewhat got my SF spidey sense alerted around New York, traveling to Brooklyn, Harlem, Queens, Staten Island, etc. Thanks for this article. Bob Abaya

  2. June 29, 2022 at 12:44 pm — Reply

    So where in MI are you… that’s a pretty big state with lotsa coastline.

  3. Darin
    June 30, 2022 at 2:34 pm — Reply

    I like seeing places through the eyes of others, but this reads like a Twitter thread of loosely-connected musings someone forgot to finish.

  4. Luciano Mezzetta
    June 30, 2022 at 11:25 pm — Reply

    An inane article by the usual smug New Yorker. I am fed up by this crap.

  5. Moi
    July 2, 2022 at 3:35 am — Reply

    Mr. Writer, you got moxie. I like it.
    But you need to tighten up the script and bring it home. Herb Caen would have loved editing your stuff.

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