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If You’re Going To San Francisco…

 

If you’re going to San Francisco, cure be sure to wear some flowers in your hair… Or anything else that takes your fancy. The streets of San Francisco are a veritable prism of people, cialis showcasing as many eclectic, electric styles and expressions as one could hope for. From the homeless to the highflying, the people of San Francisco take stylistic idiosyncrasy to another level. While at home in Ireland, the face tattoo is a tactic utilized mainly by those among us who like to keep track of how many times we’ve been to jail, this form of expression is common in San Francisco, a city where it seems to be unusual not to have some kind of body art. If you are looking for somewhere you can emblazon your cheeks with pagan symbolism and wear padlocks in your ears without fear of judgement, look no further. The famous Haight Street, home to the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and along with Golden Gate Park, the site of 1967’s Summer of Love, still shimmers under a layer of nostalgia, kept alive by the style, not only of the veterans of that era, so easily recognizable with their tie-dye, beards, ponytails and herbal aroma, but by the subsequent generations still partying on the Haight, maintaining the chilled out atmosphere and unmistakable look that originated there. I was lucky enough to be there for the annual Haight Street Fair, an ariel view of which would look like a multicoloured confetti bomb, an unmissable, unforgettable burst of colour and passion. I’ve never been somewhere where I’ve been so entirely enraptured with the way the majority of people choose to look. I worked in a boutique on Haight, Fan Clothing, where much of the stock was designed by the store owner, including, but not limited to, a delightful selection of hats, of which I became very fond. Working there was undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life, not only because of the location and the hats, but also because of the friendliness, this casual reverence that the people of San Francisco have for each other. More often than I care to admit, I felt a little sad when a customer left, so pleasant and cheerful had they been. ‘No friend, don’t leave,’ I’d think, watching them disappear out the door, ‘we really had something.’

 

Even if I hadn’t unashamedly commenced this article with an obvious (some would say lazy) nod to the Mamas and the Papas, I would still be obliged to gush about the music in San Francisco, in both historical and contemporary terms. The building in which I worked was once run by Janis Joplin’s girlfriend, Peggy Caserta and was next door to the Red House of Jimi Hendrix’s hit song. The Grateful Dead house was just around the corner. In short, the Haight is nothing less than saturated in musical history. It is also home to Amoeba Music, a real life Empire Records, whose frequent in-store gigs by the likes of Shabazz Palaces and Real Estate were nothing short of a delight. While in San Francisco, we also caught a free gig by Bastille, who were playing in Yerba Buena Gardens for Apple employees, but whom we could clearly see and hear from our perch, and popped along to some brilliant sets by John Hopkins, Rustie, Jamie xx and Disclosure. Though none of us made it into Outside Lands festival in Golden Gate Park, we could hear the dulcet tones of Kanye and the Arctic Monkeys from afar. Golden Gate Park is looms at the end of Haight Street, a sprawling, glorious home to a thousand different opportunities to enjoy one’s self. From the Californian Academy of Sciences, which holds a drinks night every Thursday at which you can get in for a third of the usual price, and enjoy the exhibits while listening to strange dance music in low lighting, to the Japanese Tea Gardens, to the Botanical Garden, to the Conservatory of Flowers, to lying in the sun to wandering all the way through to North Beach, the possibilities for a near perfect day out are seemingly endless. It is no surprise that San Francisco, with its clamouring colours and vivid lights  has been the inspiration not only behind a wealth of music but literature as well. The Beat Museum, which pays tribute to Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and the artists who led the Beat movement, is a sight to behold. Home to such unmissables as Kerouac’s jacket, the car used in the 2011 adaptation of ‘On The Road’, still caked in mud and orginial art by Lawrence Furlinghetti, the museum is located next to Kerouac Alley and City Lights Bookstore, where Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ was first sold. I was also particularly fond of an Anarchist run bookshop on Haight Street, which played a lot of death metal, in stark contrast with the sheer amount of D.H. Lawrence they had in stock.

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I don’t think a day will ever come where I’ll think ‘yes, I’ve definitely said everything I need to about San Francisco and that’s enough.’ I could go on and on, the bridges, the hills, the houses, the dogs, the idiosyncrasies that make you fall in love with it the same way you fall in love with the little freckles and flaws and habits of other people, but I have to stop somewhere.

 

I tried and failed not to leave my heart in San Francisco, but no doubt someone there has picked it up, pinned it to their velvet sleeve and is wearing it better than I ever could.

 

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