When San Francisco Was the City Your Mother Warned You About

Before I moved to San Francisco my friends and relatives were concerned that I was relocating to a land of drugged-out crazies.  Even my dope-smoking college friends weren’t completely sure that San Franciscans were to be trusted.

There was some cause for their wariness. Something must be in the water to cause the cluster of craziness. In a relatively short period, a relative lot of off-beat violence happened either here in the city or in a city colony:

  • Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were murdered… in City Hall… by another supervisor.
  • President Ford was shot at on a city street.  The would-be assassin wasn’t the Mason follower. She was an FBI informant at the time of her assassination attempt.
  • Rev. Jim Jones and his followers committed mass murder and suicide in Guyana. The cult started, grew, and was part of the civic infrastructure in San Francisco.
  • Patty Hearst, the SLA, the Black Panthers… each were San Francisco-nurtured explosive characters.

And, these are just the most violent off-center representatives of the citizenry.  When I was moving into Noe Valley in 1982, there were other dangerous wackos walking the streets. For example, S.I. Hayakawa was in the U.S. Senate because of his “heroic” stand against students while he was president of San Francisco State. 

The city had an apparently deserved reputation and pride in being positively unstable.

Since I moved here, San Francisco has lost its reputation.  Instead of making headlines for fighting, we’re making headlines for loving, or at least the attempt for all people to be able to love in legal marriage.

Unhinged violence has seemed to have moved on [he said, knocking on wood].

Instead there’s Omaha.


It’s as dispiriting as experiencing violent outbursts in such heartland places as Oklahoma City or Waco.

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3 Responses to When San Francisco Was the City Your Mother Warned You About

  1. billeyler says:

    Or any non-coastal, seemingly benign Heart-of-Americana town/city. There just hasn’t been enough body count in one episode to make the national news.

  2. bigjohnsf says:

    assignation attempt

    Hey, isn’t that what happens at the beer busts at the LoneStar?

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