Literary city: San Francisco, books, and baseball

Literary city: San Francisco, books, and baseball

I’m going to the World Series game today!

I’m also a lover of books.

I wanted to tie those two together…and since I’m going as a San Francisco fan (we live in the area, but not actually in the City), I thought I’d do a post pointing out some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s literary highlights…and other little cultural nuggets.

First, though, let me say a bit about baseball. I certainly can’t claim to be the Giants’ biggest fan. I don’t watch every game throughout the year, but I do keep casual track of it and tune in when we get to the post-season. Now, some people would say that’s not unlike the Giants themselves, but that wouldn’t be fair. 😉

I’ll be wearing a cap from the 2000 season, celebrating Pac Bell Park (now AT&T). Somewhere around the house, I have a “Croix de Candlestick”, the “medal” we got for surviving a game in that  park. 🙂 We did go to see Matt Cain pitch in one of our recent World Series (yes, that’s right…we have multiple recent World Series. Somewhat like Star Trek movies, even years/numbers have been good for us). 😉

We didn’t buy the tickets to the games, though ($500 apiece is about what you would expect when they first go on sale). My parents generously buy tickets for the family to go…there will probably be twelve of us there today (including them).

My Significant Other’s father was offered a pitching contract with the Seals (who were in San Francisco before the Giants). It was at the same time he became a plumber, though, and the money was the same (this was some time ago). The family blames my SO’s older sibling, who was in the womb at the time…and that was the deciding factor. 🙂

So, yes, I’m a Giants fan…but if you think that they are a bigger part of your life than they are of mine, you are probably right.

As to San Francisco and books…I should say why I’m including the whole Bay Area (and even here, we debate about what “the Bay Area” includes). Out here, we are inclusive. San Francisco spills down the peninsula like an overflowing soy latte, but the community pride also goes South  to San Jose (and beyond), East to Oakland (and beyond), and North to Marin (and beyond). Some people (especially those outside the Bay Area) hated the baseball caps which are split down the middle…half for the Giants, and half for the Oakland A’s. They yell at us: “Pick a side! You can’t have two teams!”

In the Bay Area, you can…we don’t judge your lifestyle. 😉

Now, of course, if you are from L.A. and are a Dodgers fan, that’s different. 😉 Even with that, we might say we hate the Dodgers…but for the most part, S.F. fans will welcome Dodgers fans to the game. In a meeting at work yesterday, there was a lot of Giants  paraphernalia…but when one of our team members shouted, “Go, Royals!” it wasn’t a dicey moment. We laughed…and knew that person came here from that area.

A native San Franciscan is a rare thing (my SO is one), and that’s a virtuous circle: we both welcome outsiders and are influenced by them.

Here, then, are some literary San Francisco facts (and I use the  term “facts” loosely) as well as some other cultural factoids to help you enjoy the games:

  • We usually call it San Francisco, but it is also commonly called just “The City”, even though San Jose (about 45 minutes South) has a bigger population. Some people are adamant that it not be called “Frisco”, but others defend the name. The late columnist Herb Caen even wrote a book called Don’t Call it Frisco (not available for Kindle)
  • Bay Area authors (they don’t have to have been born here…but they may have, or may have moved here, or just written about here) include: Scott Adams (Dilbert); Isabelle Allende; Peter Beagle; Michael Chabon; Dave Eggers; Allen Ginsberg; Dashiell Hammett; Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket); Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner); Shirley Jackson (The Lottery); Jack Kerouac; Maxine Hong Kingston; Fritz Leiber; Jack London; Armistead Maupin; Charles M. Schulz (Peanuts); Amy Tan; Walter Tevis; Mark Twain; Alice Walker; and Laurence Yep
  • One way we can tell if a TV series, movie, or book which is set in San Francisco actually has its origins in Los Angeles (or somewhere else) is that we don’t say the word “the” before the numbers of our freeways (although again, we aren’t completely dogmatic about it). For example, we wouldn’t say, “I took the 4, then headed South on the 680”. We would just say, “I took 4, then headed South on 680”. I’m not entirely sure why…that “the” doesn’t seem unreasonable. I wonder if all of the Russian influence we have around here has something to do with it…they stereotypically find using English articles a challenge
  • One big literary convention in the area is LitQuake…we consider earthquakes part of our heritage, and don’t hide the fact that they happen. The vast majority of earthquakes don’t cause any (or much) damage…those can be kind of fun. The biggest ones can be tragic disasters, but those are rare. A lot more people are killed and a lot more damage is done on the East Coast each year by the cold than earthquakes do out here
  • Speaking of which, we like to say that we do have four seasons here…we just have them all in one day 😉
  • There used to be a three-story tall used bookstore in the City, called Albatross Books. That was a destination for me…even though it was in the Tenderloin, a dangerous part of town. The Bay Area has many famous bookstores…and not just in San Francisco proper (although “San Francisco proper” seems like an oxymoron). 😉 Berkeley has several (Moe’s, Dark Carnival, Pegasus), but I couldn’t mention bookstores in the area without mentioning Kepler’s in Menlo Park. I used to go there quite often. We respect bookstores here: we even have a plaque honoring the opening of the first one in San Francisco (in 1849). In fact, we are good at honoring books and authors generally…after all, one of the big tourist attractions in Oakland (right across the bay) is Jack London Square
  • I’m pretty sure that AT&T Park must have been one of the few places in the world where you could get both edamame (soybeans…a popular snack in Japanese ballparks) and Krispy Kreme donuts 😉
  • There are so many books set in San Francisco, that a search for “books set in San Francisco” on Google results in more than 100 million hits. I like the Buzzfeed list, but there are also lists from Goodreads (now owned by Amazon) and Wikipedia
  • We call our (partly) underground train system BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). Again, we don’t say “the BART”…just BART. “I took BART to the game”, not “I took the BART”. Strangely, though, we don’t say, “I took bus to the game”, but “I took the bus to the game.” Isn’t English fun? 😉

Well, there you go! That’s just a small taste of both San Francisco and literary San Francisco! You never know what is going to happen a San Francisco game…and we are really looking forward to it.

Update: SPOILER ALERT (if, somehow, you are interested in the World Series and haven’t heard about or watched last night’s game yet, you might want to skip this until you have). It was a great game! Actually, the spoiler alert may be  unnecessary, because I won’t say too much about what actually happened. It was, though, typical Giants. 😉 I just wanted to say that the crowd bore out what I said. We were in the bleachers, and of course, the vast majority of people around us were Giants fans. There were, though, Royals fans, all dressed up to support their team. Sure, people sometimes turned around when they cheered…but never with animosity.

Update: Oh, I wanted to mention…I am loud out there in the stands. 😉 When they say “Make Noise”, I do. 🙂 One “call” I haven’t ever gotten to catch on, but I keep hoping it will. It’s when Posey is at bat. One person would call out, “Who ya gonna call?” and the crowd response is, “Go, Buster!” Feel free during the next three games…and hopefully, for some time after that.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


8 Responses to “Literary city: San Francisco, books, and baseball”

  1. Phink Says:

    I am not a baseball fan but am reading a baseball book at the moment titled ‘Ball Four’. I think I read somewhere it is the best selling baseball book of all time…..or maybe something like that. Or maybe I’m nuts and never read that. Anyway, it was a diary a pitcher for the one year only MLB Seattle Pilot’s wrote in 1969. Although I can’t sit through a baseball game (too slow for me), the book is excellent. I think you’d like it. Have fun at the game.

    Oh yeah, my favorite books that take place in your area are the Monk books. I tell people if you hated the show you’d hate the books, if you loved the show you’d love the books. It’s like a script for the TV show.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      Yes, I sold quite a few copies of Ball Four when I managed the bookstore. 🙂 Haven’t read it, though.

      We were big fans of the Monk TV series…although we could see sometimes that it wasn’t written by San Franciscans. 🙂 The reason why the novels you are reading read like the scripts, most likely, is that they were written by Lee Goldberg…who also wrote scripts for Monk. 🙂

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I’m old enough to remember turning on the TV to watch the 1989 World Series and ending up watching an earthquake instead!

    My favorite books set in the bay area are the Sharon McCone mystery series by Marcia Muller and the Nameless Detective series by her husband, Bill Pronzini. Unfortunately, her books are not being promoted by Amazon right now because her publisher is Hachette. Once they became available for Kindle, I went back and reread almost all of her books in order. It’s fun to read the early Sharon McCone books where she is thrilled with her new IBM Selectric typewriter and constantly needing to find a phone booth to check in with her office. Unfortunately, there are a couple of books in the middle of the series that were from a publisher who has not yet made them available for Kindle. Yes, Mysterious Press, I’m talking to you!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      My Significant Other’s sibling was at that game on October 17, 1989, and we were all pretty affected by it in different ways.

      Hm…when I read you referencing “Bill Pronzini”, by immediate thought was as an editor of fantasy anthologies. It is the same person, but I’m not sure I’ve read any Pronzini novels.

      I think Mysterious Press has had a couple of owners…not sure if that would affect the publication of the McCone books, though.

  3. rogerknights Says:

    Here’s a very refreshing 1921 book about SF that’s free on Kindle ($6 in paperbook).

  4. tellthetruth1 Says:

    What a lovely, interesting read, Bufo. Have an awesome time 🙂

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, tellthetruth1!

      Glad you enjoyed it! It was great! I may update the post a bit with some of the actual experience…go, Giant!

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