Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ah, Travels...

On December 19 my fiance and I strolled over to City Hall and got married. So apologies for the blogging hiatus. Christmas shopping, getting hitched and a holiday trip to his home state of Kentucky pre-empted any San Francisco TIC contemplations.

I did learn that in charming artsy Louisville, KY you can buy a glorious three story historic home in a lovely parkside neighborhood for about what it costs to lay your hands on a studio flat in this town.

Ah, travels. You wonder - could I, should I, would I trade in the Bay area with all its surrounding beauty for a more gracious, less crime ridden, less homeless-tolerant Southern city? Louisville is undergoing a revitilization that features the 21C Museum Hotel, the best boutique hotel in the country, bar none - including those I have seen in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Manhattan. The interior design is luscious and the contemporary art featured at the 21C draws from a top caliber collection assembled by Laura Lee Brown and her husband Steve Wilson. (Brown's family controls the Brown-Forman liquor corporation, purveyors of Jack Daniels whiskey and Makers Mark bourbon.)

There is an energy and enthusiasm for arts and culture in downtown Louisville that I found inspiring - more uplifting than the ramshackle arts scene and haphazard patronage we have here in San Francisco. It appears that this is the result of Louisville politicians, residents, developers, unions, colleges, restauranteurs, retailers, arts patrons and business titans all working together to effect a wonderful change in their city. Reading the SF Chronicle's Surreal Estate column about a woman who has been in permit hell for nearly two years trying to help turn a tenant into a homeowner and put up a green building on property she owns in Bernal Heights, I had to ask myself - why are attempts at that kind of cooperation so belabored and beleaguered in SF?

Three friends a decade older than I have left San Francisco in the past year, trading in their big city equity for a mortgage free home in a Southern state. One now lives in Asheville, North Carolina. Another has moved to the Chapel Hill area of that same state. And a pal from graduate school sent me a Christmas card announcing that she is on her way to Nellysford, Virginia. So far, none reports regretting the move. After ten days travelling through the bluegrass state I can see how these other more well-mannered, second city regions might hold far more allure than our foggy, contentious metropolis.


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