San Francisco and the left coast

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Seductions of Place, 2005, 1, pp. 148 - 169
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In a review of television specials set in San Francisco, cultural critic and college professor Stephen McCauley (1998) writes about the city as a place of myth and legend. His students claim having spent past lives there, a mode of orientation he finds otherwise reserved for places like "ancient Egypt, Machu Picchu, Petra; rose-red city half as old as time." He observes, "San Francisco has achieved mythic status among the disillusioned and disenfranchised from all over. Surrounded by water and frequently shrouded in fog, it has become, in our collective imaginations, a kind of real-world Oz"-a fantastical place where people actually live. Continuing the metaphors, he evaluates the public television documentary "The Castro" as a neighborhood history of a marginalized group whose community has become so successful that many of its businesses cater to tourists; the whole neighborhood "has taken on something like a theme-park atmosphere: Gayworld." Perhaps what disorients McCauley is the sight of people at leisure on these streets-just as likely they're not tourists.
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