Why are I even trying to blog Brock Keeling’s excellent remarks regarding (bad?) information given to proudly cerebral musician David Byrne about San Francisco? Because I’m just going to look stupid in comparison. Oh, well.

Guest writing for that notoriously pinko rag, the Wall Street Journal, Byrne notes that SF locals tell him “You don’t want to live here. It looks like a city, but it’s really a small village. Everyone knows what you’re doing.”

Keeling brilliantly responds:

“What we think is going on here is this: the denizens of San Francisco suffer from a healthy amount of arrested development. (The 18-to-35 year-old sect, that is.) So, we tend to form small, elite cliques (ones based off of playlists, political leanings, income) similar to the groups we saw at the high schools that shunned us so many years ago. Said cliques tend to go to the same clubs, bars, Muni lines, movies, food trucks, parks and readings so that they never have to venture outside their safety zone.”

Comments on Appeal columnist Ramona Emerson‘s Things San Franciscans Like satirical feature tend to hew to Keeling’s assessment, occasionally saying things like “that’s not *my* San Francisco!” As though, like the Highlander, there can be only one San Francisco.

And though I get annoyed when I read those comments, and think things like “it’s a joke, dummy!” it’s nice to be reminded that Ramona’s San Francisco is not mine, and mine is not Brock’s, and so on and so on. And that David Byrne’s friends, well meaning as they might be, don’t have the last word on San Francisco any more than the rest of us do. We’re all just trying to communicate the San Francisco we live in, which I think it a pretty worthy pursuit.

So, David Byrne, not that you’re reading this, if you’re really thinking about living here, you might try to do a little better than the “locals” you say you spoke with. Because the truth is a lot more multifaceted and interesting than you might think.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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