San Francisco: the anti-conformist
Revolution is permanent in San Francisco, a pacifist revolution, in this case, that for 50 years has been inventing ideas and transforming the world.
Can you imagine the end of the world? Not in San Francisco. Instead, we see ceaseless beginnings. The origins of the world can be heard in the rustle of the waves, in the song of the gulls, or seen in the undulations of its hills. This town anchored on the Pacific coast is ‘subliminally' seismic, in perpetual motion. The earthquake that partly destroyed the city in 1906 has been reproduced multiple times, figuratively, with the city making waves that radiate across the planet. Many movements that have put Western societies in tumult were born in its bay. San Francisco started the hippie movement, introduced the New Age, and is giving birth to new technologies as we speak. The city is opening new doors in its commitment to sustainable development and ecology. Brains in Silicon Valley are busy imagining a better world, a fully green world.
All this would have seduced Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, whose heirs have made vegetarianism a lifestyle as modern and urban as digital start-ups. In Oshkosh overalls and plaid shirts, you will recognize the new-world adventurers in the hip parts of town. No area in the US has as many small organic farms. San Francisco inspires new culinary trends; its restaurants become models even for major chefs. Nowadays one guru, food journalist and Berkeley grad Michael Pollan, summarises the current ‘forward-looking' food trend as a return to the past: ‘Do not eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognise as food', he has said.
Dirty Harry, Vertigo, Bullitt—San Francisco has been the scene of many a movie set. Its iconic tramways and disparate neighbourhoods are themselves the ‘stars' of films so well known you will have the impression you too are walking across the screen.
The highways that lead you out of the city take you towards landscapes so beautiful, so wild, they make all dreams seem possible on this pristine preserved coastline so rock solid no storm can overwhelm it. Indeed, here is a place that lends itself to the discovery of the work of the first environmentalist poet Henry David Thoreau and of his follower, John Muir, who helped protect the Sierra Nevada mountains just inland. When you're perfectly comfortable in a small cove with a view of sea lions and seals languidly lazing about, pick up your copy of Walden. The ocean here regenerates you, relieving you of your bad vibes. No body of water bears its name so well. Looking out over the Pacific, you will feel invaded by peace.