In Which We Appreciate the Neighborhood


There’s a long held tradition in San Francisco that every 4th of July the fog rolls in just in time to obscure all the fireworks. What we’re left with are vague bursts of color up in the fog and random booms. This year was no exception.

One of the charms about San Francisco is its stubborn streak of anti authoritarianism. It shows up this time of year by all the “illegal” fireworks around town, especially in the neighborhood called the Mission. I think those fireworks are much more charming than the official ones; they don’t go up as high so they’re not lost in the fog and because they’re shot off in people’s backyards, they spread out all over the landscape, popping up and glittering and then another one blocks away will shoot up.

My building is in a charming elbow of town that is sort of the transition between the Castro neighborhood and the Mission neighborhood, on a rise slightly higher than the Mission. That means that our our roof deck has the best view possible of those illegal fireworks.

I know this is a mediocre picture of the wild west show of fireworks I was talking about (because really, who ever gets good shots of rockets red glare?) but the fireworks aren’t actually the point of this picture. I was struck last night looking down at it by how much I just love my little neighborhood.

This block that you see is an example of my favorite kind of San Francisco streetscape; most of the buildings are late 19th century or very early 20th century with a few newer ones scattered in just to rescue it from being too precious. Of course, being San Francisco, even the tiniest and shabbiest of them is worth some multi-million dollar obscenity, but still, very sweet to me.

The New York Times just had a story about the impending death of gay neighborhoods in America, including the Castro. It’s true and it’s no surprise to me, I see it coming every time I step out the door. The decline started in the 80s with AIDS and the death of so many of the men who had turned a frumpy but well located neighborhood into a destination. Straight people flocked in, “Thanks for making the hood so attractive and appealing; please use the back door on your way out.” Besides AIDS, reasons included everything from babies for gays to Grindr, but really the die is cast. I’m just glad I got to squeak in here at the very end.

Guys I’d like to squeak in with

A big smile and a big dick. It doesn’t get any better.

Love ’em when they are in the last vestige of softness so you can still play with them before getting down to business.

I sort of think I have featured this guy and his massive meat recently, but who’s complaining?

Summertime always seems the best time for blondes.

About mrpeenee

A former bon vivant and terror of a number of New Orleans bars in the mad, gay 1980s, I'm now quietly retired and widowed in San Francisco. I have a crooked nose due to an unfortunate Frisbee accident.

17 responses »

  1. I must simply have that blonde with the dog tag on. I could waste the better part of a month with that.

    I agree with your post. So much has contributed to the death of the gayborhood. I’m so glad I got to experience it all when I did. Almost glad we weren’t as accepted so we had our own places. Surprisingly…. Philly still has a very sizable and lively gayborhood with a good vibe, I still see, outside of Greenwich Village in the city. I can’t lie, I at times, like being with just our tribe. And hooking up in a gay bars, and not on apps.


    • I’m not saying the Castro is some post-apocalyptic dead zone, it’s still plenty lively, but the sense that it was a special place as you said for the tribe is definitely diluted.


  2. I lived in Philadelphia’s gayborhood at its height in the 70’s into the 80’s. We stayed until 1998 and moved out to a semi suburban part of Philadelphia. After 24 years of being here it now reminds me of the gayborhood 50 years ago. So odd to see young gay couples walking around.


      • Plus to convenience. Just a short hop, skip and a jump.

        My immediate neighbors on either side of us were delighted when we arrived 24 years ago. They both hated the previous owners of this house.


  3. That is a lovely shot of San Francisco, indeed.

    Speaking of “lovely shots” – #2, #3 and #4 please! Although I may have to enter into a hair-pulling, bitch-slapping match with Mads for the last one… Jx


  4. Model #4 looks like a male version of those cool blondes Hitchcock liked to put in his movies. The lad should be very careful around showers and birds. Sadly, he might be getting priced out of showers in the urban gayborhoods. You need an income in the middle 6-figure range to even think of living in one of Chicago’s gayborhoods, and you’ll need an additional 5-figures just to rent a place to park your Prius. What’s a baby gay or dyke to do?


  5. I read that NYT piece too. Reminded me of what John Waters once said- something about all the gays needing to go back home, back to the country, back to suburbia. Seems we did and now so many of us are latter day June Cleavers.

    As for the pyrotechnics, we’re lucky now. The two corgis couldn’t give a flying fuck what’s going on outside. Hardly the case with the prior four. There was no consoling them. Poor Bella, little tubby that she was got stuck under a night table all day because of thunder (we weren’t home). Did your sweet Saki mind? My pal’s Stuart is like my priors, inconsolable.


    • When we lived in a canyon and the racket was kind of echoey, Saki would get sort of nervous, but once we move down here where all the explosions are right outside, he was very chill


  6. I must come next year to see the fireworks from the roof! I’ll leave the cats to their own devices (they were both oblivious this year). And I too love your neighborhood . . . but if I move into your building I’ll be part of the scourge of straight people mucking up the Castro. Decisions, decisions . . . .


  7. I have fond memories of SF Sept 97 I was just a young slip of a thing back then and totally unprepared was I to face a bar full of lusty men at the Eagle, right now my sphincter is twitching like a dog’s back leg at the memories, who was the big hairy man sat next to the urinals who encouraged people to piss in his mouth?


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