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above: sleeping in the street (photo by Jay Kinney)

Correspondence

Artists, Punks, and Techies in the Golden City

If I recall correctly—always a  dangerous way to start a sentence—it was sometime in the early to mid-’70s that John D. Berry wrote in his fanzine Hitchhike about a line of thinking that placed value on having “a sense of place.” My memory hasn’t retained where he got this notion from—possibly from an issue of Whole Earth Catalog—but the gist of it was that there was great virtue in settling down in one location for a while, paying attention to what made it unique, and savoring a sense of rootedness.

Considering most of us in our twenties at that time had recently left college and were bouncing around from hither to yon, often changing locales every year, this sense of place idea was oddly exotic. It smacked of growing up, maturing, and being a real adult. But not just any old adult, mind you. In my case, I wanted to be a cool adult in a cool place. If I was going to put down roots, I wasn’t going to do it in the ’burbs from whence I had come. I was going to do it in a big city with lots going on. I was living in San Francisco by then, so I laid my claim there.

above: panel from a 1981 comic by Jay KinneyI had a few requirements I insisted upon, which the city easily accommodated....

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