Bay Area

Bourdain’s Field Notes

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.

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The changes are not just happening in San Francisco. Across the bay in Oakland, gentrification is met with—one would think—a starker history of resistance. This, after all, is where the Black Panthers were born.

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