New York Times Gets SF Wrong Yet Again

Jul 01 at 9am

In the latest installment of the The New York Times tradition of getting it wrong about the Bay Area, a couple of their tech writers published a blog post about San Francisco that SFist correctly termed atrocious.

The paper’s underlying thesis: living in Baghdad by the Bay is a predictable affair and it’s all about tech. “Each day you awake to layers of fog,” the Times writes, “The temperature is always the same, and as you travel the city, you bump into one tech-related thing after another.”

And then, through a let’s have a Fireside Chat but in print – reminding me of the epic dick joke in Silicon Valley – the Times writers proceed to catalogue their tech-related memories (because nothing else matters), and what they’ll miss about San Francisco – namely, the fog.

It reads like a bit of a soulless litany of the reasons the tech industry has demonstrable public relations problem – these two journalists, writing for the country’s paper of record, can’t come up with a more interesting or unique thing to miss about San Francisco than the fucking fog? And, yeah, as SFist pointed out, the article was for the tech section, but still, I think the local blog is on it:

“… When two writers who lived here for ten and three years, respectively, discuss their memories wholly in terms of Moscone Center tech events, Twitter, and venture capitalists chilling at Sightglass, it paints a depressing picture of a city I love in which there are, in fact, hundreds of thousands of people who do not work in, or even care that deeply about the tech sector.”

The part about the Times story that frustrates me, aside from the fact that the temperature is not always the same (what’s up, paper of record), is the implication that tech was the only thing that rocked the boat in our otherwise predictable city.

Well fuck that. I’m a journalist too – yeah, I write about tech – and have been reporting on San Francisco for about five years. I can tell you that there is nothing predictable about living in The City.

To wit, in recent history I’ve reported on the Sen. Leland Yee corruption trial – including an extremely suspicious break-in to the facility that stores all of the evidence under government gag order (the only early morning burglary at that location in three years); I’ve driven around the East Bay following a private investigator looking for some of the 17 metric tons of khat that poured into San Francisco during 2013.

I can assure you there was nothing every-fucking-day about going for a ride along with both the Tenderloin and Bayview cops – both for a tech story – or the people I encountered with them.

You never know who you’re going to run into in this city, and it’s not just tech CEOs like Bilton and Isaac make it seem. Out for an evening stroll on Valencia St. with my now-fiancée (whom I met in San Francisco), we bumped into Peter Acworth, Kink’s CEO. Woody Allen filmed some of Blue Jasmine across the street from my apartment in the Richmond District, and I got to see the old guy in action. It’s the kind of town where that can just happen: Very Important People wander the streets.

Because of this city I had the fortune of hanging out with Tobias Wolff at his office at Stanford. And on another occasion my dear friend and gifted novelist Anne Marino – may she rest in peace – was discovered by Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, while giving a reading at the Edinburgh Castle.

Going back a couple years ago, I responded to a Craigslist ad looking for a director, and ended up volunteering to bring to life Jim Martin’s play Gay Man’s Disaster Survival Kit. I was blushing with pride, able to support our city’s vibrant gay community.

Yeah, Craigslist is a tech company but I think that’s the point. Tech is definitely part of this city’s cultural and social fabric, like it or not, and has made an impact on our lives – though to suggest or imply that it’s the only thing we’ve got going is ridiculous. Especially for the Times.

Look, I’m not trying to brag about all the cool stuff I’ve been able to do in The City. Well maybe a little bit. But I am saying this: San Francisco is crazy, we do after all have a rich history, and damn, this city is anything but predictable. 

If I were forced to wave goodbye to one of the most motley bunch of humans I’ve ever lived with (I love you guys), I wouldn’t do it like that.

[H/t: SFist; image via: Thinkstock]


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