Yeah, I know: The San Francisco Bay Area is awesome. It’s a restaurant mecca. But this is not a “Best of San Francisco” episode. Over the years, I’ve done many hours of television on the Bay Area and hope to do many more. This episode is more about what San Francisco is in danger of losing, what some people are doing about it, what’s hanging on, what’s disappearing, and what might be next. Right now, there’s a struggle for the soul of the city going on as battalions of techies engorged with tech bucks invade, driving rents up and infusing perfectly good coffee with pumpkin flavor. It’s a pattern we see nearly every place where the food is good, the views uniquely beautiful: people from elsewhere replacing the people who made the place desirable and awesome in the first place. Whether that is a natural, inevitable, and irresistible process, or something to be fought tooth and nail, remains to be seen. Personally, I’m pessimistic. Time and change are like the ocean—they wash over you, eventually washing you away entirely.
I want to stipulate up front, however, that this episode, in particular, is a selfish enterprise. It’s all about me, me, me — and I’m running out of time.
As I say at the top of this episode, as I tape my fingers (in the forlorn hope that it might mitigate the osteoarthritis and Heberden’s nodes associated with grip fighting), I will never be a black belt. I will never successfully compete against similarly ranked opponents half my age, I will never be great at Brazilian jiu jitsu. There is an urgency to my training because I’m sure as shit not getting any younger, or more flexible. I’m certainly not getting any faster. And as I head down the highway on my jiu jitsu journey, the likelihood of the wheels coming off the car grows stronger every day.
But I am determined to suck less at this jiu jitsu thing every day if I can.
It was to this end that I chose to do a San Francisco show. I wanted to train at San Francisco’s Ralph Gracie Academy with their legendary black belt, Kurt Osiander — and I built this whole damn episode around that ambition.