I Left my Heart in San Francisco

Eléctrica in the Desert

003Long ago, in the city of exile and joy: back row from left, Wei Phanh, Claire O’Brien, Jesse G. Front, Judith L. / C.O’Brien 2014

This is a story about three of the best friends I ever had. We met long ago in a job training program run by the Salvation Army  in San Francisco.  Wei Phanh was a Vietnamese immigrant, Jesse was a middle-aged Chicano man who’d fallen off the wagon after 15 years of sobriety, and Judith L. was recently sober, a Jewish artist  from Brooklyn, New York.  My own qualifications were simply Low Income Uneducated Youth.  I don’t know if those are still qualifications, but they were enough to get me in the door – long ago.

Long ago,  San Francisco was far away. It was not always a white, gentrified, compound with the highest real estate prices in the nation.

It was first a city of conquest and thus had a huge Latino neighborhood, the Mission…

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