Thursday, January 5, 2023

San Francisco in Three Articles of Clothing

Today I found myself thinking of San Francisco for no reason at all. Might be leftover nostalgia from reading Isaac Fitzgerald's memoir last month, might be Thom Yorke's Radiohead side-project The Smile putting Thom Yorke's other side project, Atoms for Peace (who I saw at Treasure Island Music Festival in 2013), or, it was that I saw a picture of myself on facebook, meaning to change my seasonal profile picture and stumbling upon a picture from 2017 of me in my all-time-favorite beanie. Here:

San Franpsycho Anchor Beanie

I bought that beanie at San Franpsycho, a brand I became familiar with in 2012, right after moving to SF. They'd had a table set up outside the Outside Lands Music Festival grounds in Golden Gate Park and had a sign above their merch that read: JACK WHITE IS MY SPIRIT ANIMAL. White, touring his newly released Blunderbuss was still an unattainable concert goal for me (though a few months later I'd see him headline his own show in Columbus). 

As a Jack White devotee, while I may have been devastated that I couldn't get into the festival grounds to see the show, I could at least check out what a brand called "San Franpsycho" who said JACK WHITE WAS THEIR SPIRIT ANIMAL looked like. Turns out they hit the made for Tony DeGenaro Venn Diagram pretty thoroughly. It was (1) a rad beanie, (2) was a local brand with local iconography, and (3) at the time, Rachel was into anchors and this had a big honkin' anchor on it. Sold. 

Sadly, that hat died in the washing machine a few years ago. I almost bought this as a replacement tonight, but, I can probably find more reasonable uses of $30.

Amos Goldbaum SF MUNI Zip-Up Hoodie

Anybody who tells you San Francisco is cold is 100% not bullshitting you. That Mark Twain quote, "the coldest winter of my life was the summer I spent in San Francisco" is not just a funny turn of phrase. I remember eagerly waiting for the clothes I had mailed myself - hoodies, sweaters, jeans - to arrive at the dorm while I froze to death in my shorts and t-shirts. Tell an Ohioan they are moving to California they will expect Los Angeles weather no matter what.

The astonishingly cold weather is amplified the closer to the water you get, so while when the sun is up Treasure Island - the manmade land mass connecting the two spans of the Bay Bridge between SF and Oakland is an idyllic locale for a music festival. Once the sun goes down and the breeze picks up: forget it. Real Estate playing as the sunsets: sublime. The xx playing as fog cuts the darkness like a knife dipped in liquid nitrogen: also sublime, but also very cold.

I think the night I bought the SF MUNI zip up was the night Beck was headlining, which was the same day Danny Brown played an afternoon set. Correctly, I wore a tank top (and a Detroit Tigers hat which Danny Brown noticed and shouted out from the stage). Also correctly, my buddies Calvin and Mick left the festival after Sleigh Bells pumped the last of the warmth into the crowds' bodies for the day. Suddenly, alone and chilly, the tank top seemed like a stupid choice. 

Enter Amos Goldbaum, or more accurately, enter me wandering through the row of band merch and other vendors, waiting for Beck to start. In his own words, Goldbaum is "a line-drawer, street peddler, and muralist" who you can find, and his "wares at many San Francisco festivals." True on all counts. Goldbaum's done a bunch of sweet work, all in the style of the MUNI hoodie, all iconic locations or things from the Bay Area, but none are as idiosyncratic as the MUNI railcar. A real local image, I think.

I was very into zipper hoodies in my Bay Area days, partially out of the extremely casual life I was living as a barista slash graduate student, partially out of the difficult-to-dress-for-weather, but I wore the shit out of this zip-up. The heather grey was perfect: not too dark but you couldn't sweat through it. The yellow details of the line drawing popped but could match anything under the zipper. Just a comfy ass hoodie.

That was a sad day when it shrunk just too small for me to wear. I currently do not own a single zipper hoodie, but if I'm ever back in the Bay Area, I might just seek out Goldbaum's store on Valencia and see about a replacement. 

I might even ride the MUNI to get there.

Misc. Park Life Shirts but especially the bison one

I just the other day was talking to a colleague who had been to SF recently about Golden Gate Park and casually mentioned the bison paddock. Lemme pause here: did you know there's a bison paddock in Golden Gate Park? There is a bison paddock in the middle of Golden Gate Park. He didn't know that. A lot of people, somehow, do not know there is a bison paddock in the middle of Golden Gate Park. I emphasize this because (1) it is fucking awesome, (2) it is fucking awesome, and (3) you can freely wander the miles of Golden Gate Park, the polo fields, hike Mount Tamalpais, visit the tea gardens, see Jack White headline Outside Lands Music Festival in 2012 (unless you're me), gaze upon the majesty of the dutch queen windmill and (in season) tulips, stare meaningfully into the Pacific Ocean, stare condescendingly over the rolling hills of the Outer Richmond, or, go see the bison paddock in the middle of Golden Gate Park.

That was far and away one of my favorite things to do. Walk to see the bison. Bike past the bison. Go running around the bison. What an odd thing!

Anyway, Park Life, a cute but pretentious little art store that had books, apparel, art, and any item you might expect to find in a men's subscription box advertised to you on social media, was right near one of my cafe coworker's apartment. He had this shirt and wore it all the time. The Inner Richmond is where the cafe was, cool little area in the city.

Love the geography of SF's punctuated grid: a cool precursor for another goofed up grid city I would live in after leaving the Bay Area. My favorite Park Life design, other than the bison shirt which I wore to death several years ago, is a shirt that I accidentally misunderstood. In hindsight, it is obvious the oblong mass hovering over "San Fran" is meant to be fog. But, doesn't it also look like a burrito wrapped in foil? And, if you correctly know that Northern California has better burritos (Southern California has the taco game on lock) doesn't it make sense that that oblong mass could be a burrito wrapped in foil, sitting above the name of the city where you can get the best burritos in the United States of America? I thought so. Not enough to buy a $30 t-shirt about it though.

Fighting the urge to rebuy some of this stuff. Here's the sickest song from the Atoms of Peace set I was at (a Radiohead b-side from the Hail to the Thief era), wearing my Amos Goldbaum hoodie, freezing my ass off, trying to imagine what kind of clothes I'd be wearing ten years later.

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