San Francisco’s Misfit Mystique


San Francisco has always been an oddball in the country, the outcast, the misfit, the wild Baghdad by the Bay.  Now our beloved SF Giants are playing in the World Series again and we watch with total amazement at our bearded pitchers, long-hair hippie pitchers, and giant Panda slugger hit three homeruns in a single game, and pinch ourselves wondering how it all happened.

It’s no mistake. San Francisco is the petri dish for Northern California. It attracts the dropouts, hippies, gays and lesbians, artists and fashionistas, tech heads, empty-nesters and immigrants seeking to reinvent themselves and start all over.  The Bay Area attracts and produces so much talent because it’s a free, open society where we welcome cultural, environmental and technological innovators.  We’re willing to take chances, discard old habits, and try to create new things from scratch.  Free lifestyles, world-class performances and results, not old-fashioned credentials, family pedigree and corporate track records, are what really matter.

Granted, we have our conservatives, but many Bay Area folks live Steve Jobs’ advice:  ”Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”  And foolish we have remained.  Instead of asking why, we ask why not, like children who don’t recognize limits. Why not grow organic food, ride bikes, accept transgenders, go to Burning Man?  It sure beats growing up dull, bored and frustrated.

Having grown up in the Bay Area, it never dawned on me that this joie de vivre and personal freedom was unique in the world until I traveled elsewhere.  My college buddy’s friend from Philadelphia distilled the Bay Area vibe best during the last World Series season:

“You guys are weird. San Francisco is different, really different from other American cities.  The Giants are a bunch of misfits, dropouts, and castoffs, but they intrigued me because they’re like grown-up kids having fun playing sandlot baseball, totally unlike Philly and other teams which always look so serious, like they’re wearing corporate suits.  We used to laugh at you, but the Giants taught us one thing:  You can have fun, look weird, and still be great.”

Maybe that should be our logo:  Be weird!  Be great!