It’s Where I’m At, Where I Live(d)

The Castro hasn’t been Mr. WholeHog and I’s ideal place in the City. It has almost no decent restaurants (Anchor Oyster Bar is the sole exception). We aren’t into its popular bar scene and our neighbors… well, let’s just say they left much to be desired.

But now that we’re leaving the Castro, nostalgia has set in and I’m starting to feel lucky to have lived in the Castro for these last 3 1/2 years.

We lived here in this beautiful neighborhood, nestled between Noe and Eureka Valleys, full of stately homes and stellar views.  Just circling the block looking for parking, we can see the Castro Theater’s neon sign or the delicate lights of Bay Bridge.

Even though our apartment hasn’t been the quiet refuge we’d hoped, the Castro has so many places to escape to.  Kite Hill offers a breath-taking view of the entire City. Dolores Park is in walking distance and provides a welcome excuse to walk along lovely Liberty Street and take one of the many stairways over Liberty Hill.

We could head out in almost any direction and find one of SF”s charming stairways on Liberty or Cumberland, on 20th St at Noe or 20th St at Douglass. My favorite steps in the area are across Market Street connecting Ord and Saturn Streets.

sf-nye07The View from the Liberty Street Steps

Castro Street is in many ways the heart of the City. If something momentous happens, people congregate here to celebrate or protest. I knew Obama had won the election from the sound of the cheers out on the street, not from the TV this year. The street was flooded with people celebrating (and anxiously awaiting Prop 8 results).

We were here to see Castro Street transformed back to its 1970s style for the filming of Milk just this last year and even participated as extras. We got to see movie stars on Castro Street for the movie’s premiere. (Much to Mr. WholeHog’s chagrin, I waited with the masses of people on the sidewalk across from the theater for a glimpse of Sean Penn.)

Milk Premiere

We were here when Noir City (finally!) came back to the Castro Theater. The festival won’t be as convenient for us this year, but we’ll still go to see those campy movies in what I have to believe is one of the best theaters in the whole world. This year, we’ll just have a longer trip home.

I don’t consider myself a prude, but living in the Castro was eye-opening. I saw things that I never imagined in my time here. With Walgreens, Pottery Barn and Starbucks, the Castro is becoming more like a mall, but the sex shops keep it solidly out of the mainstream, with t-shirts that say “Anal Sex is for Assholes” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It Suck My Dick”.

The holidays are different in Castro. For Christmas one year, a store decorated a tree with a string of disturbingly-large anal beads (more like anal golf balls, if you ask me). The picture below is a Valentine’s Day display, and the particularly massive dildo (upper left) sports a sticker the says, “Suck it Jesus”.


We were here amid all of this: the sex toys and the stairway walks, the celebrations and the protests, the movies that were shown in the theater and those that were filmed on the streets.

Whether it was the right place for us or not doesn’t really matter at this point, it was our place from May 2005 through this week.


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