“The Death of Fun”


“It has been nicknamed “the death of fun” — the idea that a once-playful (San Francisco) populace has in recent years turned into a phalanx of Gladys Kravitz-style meddling, whining neighbors.”

It’s with a lot of trepidation that I even mention the “death of fun,” as nothing can get a San Francisco resident more riled up than an argument over the future of our city. But now The Bay Citizen, and hence the New York Times, has profiled the problem.

To be honest, I’m not sure this argument is really about fun, but something’s happening. Whether its whatever the hell’s happening this week with the trials and tribulations of Dolores Park, or the problems with Ike’s Place, or this terrible Sit/Lie thing, or the end of Halloween in the Castro, or the gentrification of pretty much everything, it can’t help but be noticed that some are using their political clout to try to get the pure wildness of this city under control.

I once decided to try having a mustache for a day. Perhaps deservedly so, I got shoved to the ground at 8AM by a guy who threatened my life and accused me of being an anti-American cop. I ran into the nearest BART station and the woman working there smiled at me and said, “Oh, honey. You look really shaken up.” Then she gave me the best motherly hug I’ve ever had. (And my mom gives good hugs.)

This wasn’t fun, I was shaken up, and the city should help get that man the resources he needs to heal. But I wouldn’t give up this story for the world. Because it shows that while San Francisco is bad at hiding a certain ugliness in its people (including an unwillingness to help its sickest residents), it sucks even worse at hiding our kindness. And these “neighbors” seem to be so afraid of the ugliness that they’re willing to give up the kindness.

Like lots of us, I’ll fight these “neighbors” every step of the way, but seeing as wildness may soon be outlawed and dead, let’s hear your stories. What’s the craziest thing you ever saw in San Francisco? Or, knowing The Rumpus’s target audience, what’s the wildest thing you ever did?

Seth Fischer’s writing has twice been listed as notable in The Best American Essays and has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize by several publications, including Guernica. He was the founding Sunday editor at The Rumpus and is the current nonfiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown. He is a Dornsife PhD Fellow at USC and been awarded fellowships and residencies by Ucross, Lambda Literary, Jentel, Ragdale, and elsewhere, and he teaches at the UCLA-Extension Writer’s Program and Antioch University, where he received his MFA. More from this author →