I moved to San Francisco about ten years ago, round about when I was 40. I had a one bedroom sublet for $850 a month in Loisaida. Many a New Yorker would have killed me on the spot just for saying that. So why did I move? Basically, I just wanted a change having lived in NY all my life; I wanted to "reinvent" myself, like Madonna- without the cheek implants. I wanted out while I still had enough change in my pocket to make the move before I too turned into some sad, old New York caricature of my former self.
So I moved to San Francisco, something I had considered upon seeing the utterly dreamlike street scenes featured in Vertigo- not to mention the haunting panorama in On The Beach. Why not LA? Cause I'm a city boy, and for those outside the States, LA is not a city. It's a vastly over extended suburb, not unlike most US cities, an over extended extension of countless, identical strip malls. A sad excuse for a city where you have to jump in a car to do the most simple, everyday things- like getting toilet paper to wipe your own ass. And unlike that sad situation, the city famed for having a heart left within it is one of a small handful in the US which is a real life, functioning city that one can actually live and walk in.
The first thing I noticed about San Francisco were the pigeons. They look exactly like NY pigeons, except that so many more of them were literally squashed flat on the streets. Like the hippies this town is still famous for, they're so laid back they don't get out of the way of oncoming cars and therefore suffer the most obvious results. Which is particularly telling when you consider that cars actually wait for you to cross the street here. That's right! People behind the wheel see you on the corner and they actually (as in literally) wait for you to cross the street before proceeding. In New York, drivers dare you to cross the street (I still haven't let go the sneaking suspicion that I'm just being lulled into complacency here).
Another weird thing is that people sometimes walk around... smiling. You heard right- I've actually had women smile at me as they walk past here. There are only two kinds of people who walk around smiling in NYC, those who just got laid for the very first time in their life, and those who are psycho- in all their innumerable, insufferable variants.
Personally, much as I appreciate and return said smiles whenever I travel, I find it strangely reassuring that in NY, if someone doesn't know ya, they're not likely gonna smile at ya. It's an earned response, like everything else there. But in my endless quest to expand my horizons, I've learned to adapt to my new environs- the inexcusably lousy pizza and bagels however, are quite another story....