This city is weird and in some odd, constant cycle of moneyed rebirth. There have been quite some rumblings about it over the last little while, and many of its inhabitants are constantly and consistently measuring themselves up against its tides.
Rebecca Solnit's recent Google Invades London Review of Books diary entry is an essay that both bemoans and historicizes the current tidal influx of well paid, mobile twenty-somethings to her beloved city. I mentioned that article to my friend Ben over a martini at the Lone Palm recently, as we were playing that age-old game that Dungeons & Dragons players play in the real world, assigning D&D ability scores to themselves and their friends - just in an effort to try to categorize ourselves and our fellow San Franciscans.
When you create a character to play in a D&D adventure, the conventional ability scores are:
- STR: Strength
- INT: Intelligence
- WIS: Wisdom
- DEX: Dexterity
- CON: Constitution, and
- CHR: Charisma
Basically, characters in the game can have between 3 and 18 points in each category. 3 is terrible, 18 is fabulous.
First, Ben and I started working out our own stats, or at least the top stat for us. Then, we moved through a few of the other players in our D&D cabal, etc. We quickly realized (dreamed?) that our top stat is probably intelligence - although I like to dream that mine is dexterity or maybe wisdom. Then, we decided that most of the upwardly mobile inhabitants of San Francisco are likely mostly brainiacs too. Ben went to the loo, and on his way challenged me to come up with the likely ability scores for this town, which I shall transcribe now from the napkin upon which they were written.
- TEC: Technical Chops
Sure, this seems obvious for San Francisco in 2013. But, not everyone has them, and it depends on which technique you're measuring. So, let's not just give computer scientists all the merit automatically. Running a restaurant requires technical prowess. Well, running any organization effectively requires it.
- MAK: Making
Particularly in about the last 2-3 years, San Francisco has worked out that it can make things. Chocolates, Maker Faire, robots, two-way mirrors, Product Clubs, macaroons, knife shops...
- POP: Popular Knowledge
Being popular is important in San Francisco. No doubt. But, so is knowing where to be. Said friend Ben believes that London is years ahead of every curve, but, the coolest person I know, Mai, may even be ahead of London, particularly via her blog, fashioni.st.
- SOC: Sociability
You can have all the TEC, MAK or POP in the world, but if you have no SOC, it's not worth nothing. There is also a particularly odd facet of San Francisco which apparently repels its inhabitants from exerting their SOC by refusing to RSVP for events until the last possible moment, and even then perhaps lying about the probable outcome.
- STR: Strength
This encompasses the classic D&D strength, but also general fitness, dexterity and constitution. There are a shitload of yoga classes and tennis lessons and gyms in San Francisco, so many people of average or above average stats here.
- EDU: Education
Similarly to the environment discussed in Solnit's article, though not to quite the same level of expansion, "Between January 1848 and December 1849, the population of San Francisco increased from 1,000 to 25,000." describes a previous Golden Age of San Francisco. I should be able to refer you directly to contemporary, qualified research that aptly demonstrates the changing nature of San Franciscan society, particularly in relation to education levels, but, since I don't have a degree, I don't know what my legitimate sources are online, nor how I need to quote them. So, I'm about a 9 on EDU.
All in all, I'm probably about a 12, 10, 10, 12, 11, 9.