from my bookshelf: cool gray city of love by gary kamiya


gary kimya describes san francisco’s past, present, and future in vivid detail, peppered with personal anecdotes. i love the way he hones in on different particular neighborhoods and individuals which make up san francisco. it gives a tourist like me hope that someday i can learn the city better and absorb even just a piece of the culture, light, water, air, and ideas that it exudes.


“…anyone who loves a city inevitably comes to think of it as a true companion, a faithful friend who grows old with us. But a beloved city is more than that. It is a mirror; it is a universe; it is a home.”

“Some historical events are so strange, so incongruous, so haunting, that they feel like dreams.”

“Every great city is like a memorable cassoulet, containing secret ingredients that give it a unique flavor.”

“Two hundred and thirty-four years after Cabrillo sailed past the Golden Gate, the world had finally found San Francisco.”

“These are the kinds of things that happen when you live on a jagged peninsula at the end of the continent, under a torn-open sky, in a city that is only borrowed from the sea.”

“For cities are museums of time, and to live in them is to be haunted by the places they once were.”

“The mission will always carry a bitter legacy. These words cannot change that fact. But they can, perhaps, help us make peace with it. They can allow us to see that white church on Dolores Street without sentimentality but without rancor, as another ripple in the river, a blood-red pane in the vast stained-glass window of San Francisco.”

“Many of my happiest moments have been spent in the weirdest, most obscure, often ugliest parts of San Francisco.”

“I will never know very much about those exposures. But they will never again be just rocks to me. They will be fragments of stars. And as I walk among them, I will think about the man who loved them, and who was made of similar stuff.”

“This has always been a city of thoughtful rogues, greedy do-gooders, irreverent theologians, socialist entrepreneurs, hedonistic environmentalists, sensitive newspapermen, philosophical rockers, and high-minded sensualists. And through the years, these mavericks have carried, like an unruly band of Olympic torchbearers, the rebellious, restless, life-affirming fire that was lit in 1849.”