A Hater's Guide to Loving Life in the Bay Area

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If you’re like me, you moved out to the Bay Area a little while ago, and have become, in the past year, a little disillusioned.

You visited a couple years ago, and maybe it was perfectly sunny and breezy out the whole time, and perhaps you went to a really great house show. Driving across the Bay Bridge one night you had a realization: everything you’ve done on this trip has been fantastic, and this is the most beautiful place in the world, and the only way you can get out of your mid-20’s slump is by moving here.

So you did, and soon realized it’s unpleasantly cold almost year-round. All of those bands you saw play at a dude’s house in Oakland have now sold their songs for use on an episode of Girls or something and moved to LA. Suddenly you find yourself in an allegedly hip bar in the Mission, surrounded by slouched, belching men whose actual jobs—you can only assume—involve making pop-up ads or violent video games for tweens, and you’re miserable.

Admit it: you have a problem. You’re a hater.

Step 1: Get Used to Self-Identifying as a Hater


“Hater” is a word which here means: someone whose taste is so specific that he or she may occasionally cross the line into contrarianism. If your emotional state is worse than that, maybe you should see a therapist. If it’s better, then cheers, I’m just so happy for you!

But if it’s the same, don’t worry! You’re probably just like me: intelligent, discerning…probably super-handsome…Let’s move on.

Step 2: Find Some New Fun Things to Do

All of your friends want to drink wine in the park and do yoga, and you’ve had enough of that nonsense. Meanwhile, they don’t want to watch No Country for Old Men for the thirtieth time with you. They say that’s “troubling.” Whatever. Why don’t you check out some of these events?

Write Club SF. It's rare that something can be contentious as it is fun, but San Francisco's chapter of this reading series, held in the Mission's Makeout Room, is just that. It pits up-and-coming writers against each other with opposing themes, such as “Sound v. Fury,” “Jesus v. Santa,” and “Gemini v. Gemini” (get it?)

Peaches Christ. This darling of the drag scene plays host to some of the most darkly campy events around. February 8th at the Castro is the Peaches Christ presentation of Todd Solondz's horrifyingly funny "Welcome to the Dollhouse," featuring musical numbers! Past events have included Silence of the Trans, with a serial killer costume contest. Keep an eye out for whatever Peaches Christ is up to.

Go! Go! Fest. Last year Oakland record label and store 1-2-3-4 Go! held the Go! Go! Fest, a series showcasing rockers like Nobunny, Shannon and the Clams, King Tuff, and Hunx and his Punx, which I hope will become a tradition. If you like super-catchy songs with names like, "Do the F--- Yourself" and "Toxic Revenge," and can stand a moshpit in your general vicinity, I highly recommend checking out this event when it (I hope) rolls around next year, and in the meantime catching shows by any of these artists (even if you have to go to LA to see them now.)

Step 3: Focus on the Trivial and Sing Your Little Heart Out

Sure, you can enjoy those events, but if you wanted to do just one fun thing a year you would have moved to Austin. How do you blow off steam on a week-to-week level? Here are some suggestions:

Trivia at Sycamore. Sycamore is a small bar in the Mission that boasts delicious food, mulled wine, a superlative beer selection, and on Monday nights at 7:30, a chance to show off what a smarty-pants you are. Quiz Master Keith storms around shouting questions and answers in a cantankerous tone—trivia is serious business.

Pub Quiz at Napper Tandy. Same deal, basically: fun trivia questions, excellent food and beer, also in the Mission-- but with an Irish aesthetic. Wednesday nights at 8:30.

Karaoke. Sure, you turn your nose up at karaoke. I get it. It’s for weird dads, right? Fine, we don’t have to do karaoke tonight. Let me just state my case, though, okay, dude? Jeez!

Sincerely enjoying a night of karaoke marks one’s transition from Snarky Hipster Larva to Adult Who Enjoys Fun. Half of that fun is people-watching, but the other half is that you get to get drunk and sing your favorite songs in front of appreciative people like some rock star.

Photo by Dorothy Tunnell

The Mint karaoke bar in the Castro offers an expansive songbook and a wild crowd. Gems in the East Bay include Jaguar in Oakland—which features private rooms and endearingly odd music videos to go along with the songs—and Nick’s Lounge in Berkeley. Just remember not to pick “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie. It’s easy to forget that half of that song is just erratic scatting that’s almost impossible to keep up with.

Look, life in the Bay Area can be miserable because life can be miserable. You just have to find your own fun. The hater in me honors the hater in you. You’re going to be fine.