So, admittedly we came out of the gate with our hair on fire and screaming from the rooftops about Occupy San Francisco. Agreed, there was no setup, there was no explanation, no rationale for why on that particular Friday I suddenly appeared on the doorsteps of the Huffington Post and began my tirades. I couldn't help myself, because one of the great truths about writing a column is, hey, ya gotta work with the material in front of you.
But now that I have been coaxed off the ledge and I have for the moment put my alter ego, "angry columnist," back into his box, perhaps it would help this whole endeavor if we backed up the bus for one moment and reintroduced all of us.
I am Christopher. Yes, that is obvious, but it seems like the correct place to start. Once upon a time, there was a place far away that I dubbed "the 49-acre wood." It was a magical place, filled with characters and frauds, champions and cads, happy endings and tragic denouements. It was steeped in legend, surround by history, comforted by tradition. Most people also call it "San Francisco," and that is what I wrote about.
I was a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner, and I had the bizarre and slightly deranged mission of writing about... well... whatever I wanted. But really, my editors knew there was only thing I wanted to write about: San Francisco, our little town on the edge of the world. Being one of the those "born and raised" people you hear about, it felt easy to me. Except for one problem.
The San Francisco I saw in front of me that first day was not the San Francisco I fell in love with. Sure, new buildings had appeared, but that was not it. Restaurants and clubs had closed, but that was not the problem either. Something about the rhythm was off. Had something died, or was there a new undercurrent that was slowly rotting everything around it? There was something about San Francisco that seemed to be missing. Civility... style... grace... I could not put my finger on it.
So that pursuit became my mission. Find the missing pieces of the puzzle and put them back together. Find that mystical sauce of magic, witchcraft, voodoo, that made San Francisco what it was. A friend of mine once said that New Orleans, Savannah and San Francisco shared one thing in common: they were the only American cities left where there was still magic.
The column was my vehicle for this, or so I thought. It turned out I was completely wrong. The key was not the column, it was my readers. Oh yes, against all odds I actually acquired an audience (and no I have no idea how... pipe down there in back). Given the location of the Examiner at the corner of Mission Street and First, I dubbed this group "The First Street Irregulars."
There really is not other way to put this: The Irregulars saved my hide. Many times, as that infernal deadline would close in for the kill, their emails would start dropping in. Quips, items, funny stories and scoops from deep inside City Hall. Suddenly the column would start taking shape, sometimes in ways I never saw coming. And something even more incredible happened as I got to know all these crazy people. I was not the only one who wanted more from our city. Turns out that my role was not to sit there pounding away on the keys and spouting off about myself... although, I tend to be very good at that.
No, my role was to reflect my readers, their desires, their wishes, their dreams for what our city could be, for what we are all collectively capable of. For the rest of you reading this, you will yawn and go find out what the Kardashians are doing this week. Off you go, and don't let the door hit you on the way out. We are a little different here on our little point of land. Maybe it happens when you are surrounded by water on three sides. Maybe it happens when most of the country mocks us for being different. Guess what, we are okay with that.
What we are not okay with is irrelevance. With not leading the issues. With not standing for what is right before that lightbulb finally goes off over everyone else's head. This is what sparked my first column. A desire to see San Francisco lead again. To have us once again show everyone else how to do it a little better, a little bit more compassionately, and hell yes, with a little bit more style.
So now we stand here, five years later, and things seem worse than before. We are more irrelevant to the world around us. We seem to spend more time annoying each other than everyone else. Our city is beset with budget problems, the homeless, a broken school system, and the complete and utter surrender of families. If there was any time to rally the Irregulars, it's now. If there was ever a moment to put this circus back together, it's now. Will this be a fight? Of course it will be; all great causes are. Will we win? President Taft called San Francisco "The City That Knows How." Of course we will. So it's time to reintroduce us all. I am Christopher. And they are the Irregulars... come join us.
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