San Francisco: Now so bad, it'll make you cry
Twentieth-century San Francisco, Herb Caen's beloved Baghdad by the Bay, has ceased to exist. It has been replaced by a city where the sidewalks around Market Street are, in places, caked in feces, urine, and vomit. The stink as you emerge from the BART batters you like frozen sleet, shocking and overwhelming. The hordes of homeless, sprawled in doorways and sleeping on the sidewalks, are a bitterly eclectic mixture of the mentally deranged; burnt out druggies; dead-eyed hippies; con artists; pickpockets; and hundreds of simply lost, forgotten souls.
I had occasion to visit downtown San Francisco this afternoon, the first time in over seven years, though I reside only thirty miles away in the East Bay suburbs. During my working life, I have commuted to San Francisco as a bushy-tailed junior executive in the '70s, as a small business-owner in the early '80s, and as a corporate executive in the '90s. Thankfully, "Old" San Francisco really was a wonderful place to work, eat, and play.
As I walked the three blocks back to the BART, I was panhandled four times, plus two clumsy pickpocket attempts. I didn't see a single cop in a car or on foot. What could they do?
What finally broke my heart were the kids and women, also lying in the streets, drugged, shell-shocked, begging for food. I found an ATM, took out some cash, and bought twenty five-dollar "Arch Cards" from McDonald's and passed them out. The salty tears flowed gently down my face and onto my lips. My soul, my humanity was abused, sickened, and disgusted.
Today I observed a city that carefully and deliberately schemed to become an open sewer. This is far beyond simple incompetence. The magnitude and pervasiveness of this horror remains indescribable. No rational, thinking person, or board, or mayor could allow this societal abomination to continue unabated in a first-world country.
Yet it does.
San Francisco willingly hosts a malignant cancer that has metastasized and destroyed all aspects of a civilized, compassionate society.
While skyscrapers still fill the skyline, and tankers and giant container ships still prowl the bay, the City-by-the-Bay soul has begun its death rattle.