The People's Guide is Curbed SF's tour o' the nabes, lead by our most loyal readers, favorite bloggers, and other luminaries of our choosing. Have a piece to say? We'll be happy to hand over the megaphone. Notice a new voice on Curbed SF over the past few weeks? Join us in welcoming our latest Curbed operative, blogger Andy J. Wang.
[There's also this hidden "gem" of a house... ]
Nabe: Way Outer Sunset
Q: Tell us something we don't know about Outer Sunset:
A: Contrary to common perception, the Outer Sunset isn't shrouded perpetually in a timeless fog. The sun does come out occasionally — that's how I got fooled into moving out here in the first place.
Q: Local customs of note:
A: Living out the faux suburban dream: People wash their cars on weekends. Like, with hoses and stuff. Teenagers loiter in front of the 7-Eleven. There's also: living and dying by the N-Judah, cursing at the N-Judah, quietly resigning yourself to your fate and handing it over to the whims of the N-Judah, and, last but not least, hating the N-Judah.
Q: Hidden gems in the Outer Sunset:
A: Everything in the Outer Sunset, gem or not, is hidden by virtue of its being here. Two (perhaps unhidden) gems: Java Beach Cafe, which is always packed the way a beachside cafe should be, and Thanh Long, which is always full of people wrapped in bibs and blissfully gorging themselves on crab — it's also way out of my price range, but I call it a gem because people actually seem to think it's worth the road trip to the Outer Sunset. There's also this hidden "gem" of a house, which I stumbled on one day somewhere in the inscrutable center of Outer Sunset: Creepy morbid Chinese poetry, plus "World Awake!!! 666." Classic WTF? material.
Q: Are your neighbors "Rotten Neighbor" worthy? If so, dish. If not . . . well, why not?
A: I first met my downstairs neighbor, a baby boomer type who lives alone, one day when I got on the train with her. She called herself the "mayor" of our four-unit building and stressed to me in a sugary voice: "If there's one word that comes to mind about our building, it's family." (I learned later that there's only one family living with us.) Right... Seriously though, the people are pretty quiet out here. There aren't any rotten neighbors to speak of. I suspect they're all living in much cooler places.
Q: Inflate the bubble, or burst it: What's not-so-swell about your "perfect" neighborhood? If your nabe is an underdog, what's being overlooked?
A: I live right on Judah Street, and the door-to-door commute is sweet, but the trade-off is the never-ending rumble of the N-Judah — it's run over the dialog of many good movies. It can also get desperately boring out here. I imagine it's like a light form of exile. When I'm on the ride home late at night, the avenues all blend together and I lose all sense of time and space. Kind of hellish if you think about it too much, but I guess that's what iPods are for.
Credit where credit's due, though: I'm a two-minute walk from the beach, and that's priceless. Sometimes, on a whim after work, I get out of the train and trudge down to the beach, and there's barely anyone there. It's the least work I've ever had to do in my life to see incredible sunsets, and I can see them whenever I want (provided it's a nice day).
Q: The final word on the Outer Sunset:
A: This nabe has no pretensions to hipness or even to up-and-coming-ness. The Outer Sunset's a great place to live if you appreciate its one distinguishing feature — its distance from everywhere else. Not to hate — it's the kind of place a guy could really grow to love. Kind of.