I will always admire San Francisco for its uncanny ability to remain seated in the golden years of American alcoholism. Pound for bourbon-soaked pound, the city has the best bars in the country, heralded by the greatest storefront signs.
Last weekend brought be back to San Francisco again. With two trips in a single year, it is becoming what Epcot Center has become to my parents - a second home. My trip was centered around a friend's wedding, where everyone was more famous than me. I learned how much money Gary Busey makes at each tent revival he attends (and what kind of cut he gets at the door); I found out that Subway's spokesperson, Jared Fogle, has regained enough weight that he must be filmed in a seated position. (soon they'll only film him in tight close-ups around his eyes, or from a satellite camera. i blame the southwest sauce, or the heroin.); and I got in touch with an old friend - me. (he owed me money.)
One of the nicest and most unexpected parts of the trip, however, was visiting the grand opening of a friend's bakery in the newly renovated Ferry Building. The bakery itself was a fever-dream of preciousness, nuanced right down to the pink dress, kittykat Doc Martens, and perfectly manicured bangs of one of its employees. To me, a good bakery is the kind of place that confuses you into believing you can eat parts of the space that aren't meant for consumption, and when I was chastised for licking the paint off some cabinetry molding I knew this place was going to be a success.
The Ferry Building Marketplace is one of those rare destinations that makes me feel at once blissful and utterly ashamed. In this respect it is not unlike feeling evoked by slowly and firmly pressing my face against a woman's unclothed ass, or from plunging my hands into a tub of vanilla pudding. The Marketplace is crowded with all sorts of edible, desirable goods from organic creameries, merciful butchers, cherubic herb merchants, and all sorts of other fresh-scrubbed do-gooders thrusting free Lady Apple samples in your face or attempting to outfit your children with (organic? biodegradable?) balloon animal helmets.
Every eye twinkled, and I was treated to loose dialogue like, "Palmiers are my weakness!" and "do you have anything cuter?" More than once I had to react politely to strangers squeezing my upper arm, pulling me toward them, and whispering into my ear, "they made this paradise for us." I think if there were a special heaven for liberal-minded Caucasians, it would look like the Ferry Building Marketplace, or some variation thereof. It would be a heaven where brioche is a household word, inquiring about parking for your Segway wouldn't get you punched out, and a question like, "what kind of toast do you have?" is inevitably followed up with responses like, "have you seen our toast menu?" In short, a beautiful place I might like to sample occasionally but could never really remain with my sanity intact - sort of like San Francisco.