SONGS OF THE CITY
By Marke B.
Visitors flock to the Bay Area for its enchanting sights, of course. But if you’ve lived here for a while, you know the actual sounds of San Francisco and its neighbors weave the true spell that binds us. Cable car clang and fog horn blast, “ding-ding” of bike bells and cries of wild parrots. The wave organ and the Audium, the BART station busker and the underground dance floor, the protest and the crackdown, the echoes of the Beats and the roar of the stadium crowd.
Jazz and hip-hop floating through the Fillmore. Paleta carts and acoustic guitars ringing in Dolores Park. Pretty French tourists asking directions downtown. (Or maybe they’re Croatian?) “Woo!” girls partying in the Marina. Robyn pumping from Castro cars.
Free bluegrass, fine reggae, geeky ringtones, player pianos, new operas, earnest indie, sick bass. “I Left My Heart…,” “San Francisco, Open Your…,” “If You’re Going To….” Paul McCartney leading 50,000 people in a “Hey, Jude” singalong at Outside Lands. Everybody make some noise!
(Outside your window, just before dawn, a couple argues halfheartedly, and a nearby walk sign chirps.)
Even that golden moment every late sunny afternoon when, no matter what’s going on, a lovely hush falls across the city, as if in preparation for the soon-incoming fog.
This is the local wall of sound we honor in this edition of Best of the Bay, our 39th annual celebration of the people, places, and things that make living here such a great experience.
More than 15,000 of our readers voted in our Best of the Bay Readers Poll this year for their local, independent favorites in more than 200 categories like Best Burrito, Best Band, Best Strip Club, Best Shoe Store, Best Place to Watch the Sunset, Best Drag Queen, and beyond. You’ll find the results inside — as well as 150 Best of the Bay Editors Picks highlighting some Guardian favorites, old and new, that we think deserve some special recognition for brightening our lives this year. Rest assured, there’s a whole lot to love in the Bay.
In 1974, Esquire magazine asked us for ideas for its Best of the USA issue, which led us to publish the original Best of the Bay. Thirty-nine years later — and 47 years after we opened our doors — we’re still going strong, powered by our readers and the idea that the strength of our community can make the world a better place.
Editing this year’s issue was a hoot. I shower grateful smooches on all my fabulous collaborators, especially creative ace Brooke Ginnard; the awesome Guardian editorial, sales, and production staff; and the ever-supportive Hunky Beau, my own personal Best of the Bay.
But most of all we thank you, dear reader, for your generous participation, for making the Bay Area such an astounding place to live, and for turning us on to great new things this year. Enjoy the celebration on the pages that follow. But first close your eyes for a minute, and listen to this audaciously beautiful place we call home.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born and raised in the Bay Area, Robert Trujillo is a visual artist and father who employs the use of illustration, storytelling, and public art to tell tales. These tales manifest in a variety of forms and they reflect the artist’s cultural background, dreams, and political and personal beliefs. “My motivation to do what I do is to be a positive and nurturing influence on my son,” he says. “It is to honor my ancestors and my family by passing on our visual art traditions, to give, to learn, to challenge the educational system both public and private, and to make sure more artwork that fuses ethnic studies, political commentary, personal history, and dynamic visual styles using a variety of media is prominent, loud, unapologetic — and just what some of us need.”
BEST OF THE BAY STAFF
REBECCA BOWE, CAITLIN DONOHUE, CHERYL EDDY, NICOLE GLUCKSTERN, STEVE JONES, JOE FITZGERALD RODRIGUEZ,, EMILY SAVAGE, AMBER SCHADEWALD, DAVID SCHNUR
MOSHEN CHAN, SHAWN CONNOLLY, MOLLY DECOUDREAUX, MARIA DEL RIO, TYLER DRISCOLL, NICOLE GLUCKSTERN, TIM GRIFFITHS, BETH LABERGE, AMANDA RHOADES, WES ROWE, TABLEHOPPER