Sunday May 2, 1976
OH, YOU NOTICED. The new drawing of the S.F. skyline at the top of the column, I mean. It’s the dandiwork of Steve Mad, of Mad Studios in North Beach, no relation to Strange de Jim or Whoop de Doo. Like a lot of other people, Steve simply got tired of the old sketch and ran up something more contemporary — and ran it up damn well, too. For reasons I may want to discuss with My Brother-in-law The Psychoanalyst, I am quite taken with the flaccid Transamerica pyramid, bending on the ponderous and awful weight of a four-letter word; imagine having two four-letter words for a name — no wonder I’m in the shape I’m in, considering. I also applaud Steve’s sense of scale, He shows beloved Coit Tower for what it is today - a once dominant symbol on the skyline reduced to little more than a pimple by the upthrusting monsters below.
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IF YOU FORGET the old skyline in my logo, makes no difference. It was created in 1958, crest of the Eisenhower years, and didn’t amount to much. In fact it was little more than a string of stylized highrises. Could have been New York, Oshkosh, Oklahoma, Oakland or even Sacramento. That’s what annoyed Steve and sent him to his drawing board. You must remember that back in ’58, a skyline of any kind was considered hotstuff. No city aspiring to metropolis could afford to be without one. The awkward word “Manhattanization,” shortly to be followed by “Vietnamization,” hadn’t even been born, laboriously. In our dear old post-Freudian daze, up was better than down, big better than small, and money better than anything. "Progress" hadn’t even become a dirty word yet.
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SEVERAL WORRIED READERS, which may be a triple redundancy, wonder if my close typographical connection with the New San Francisco means I am abandoning all pretence to “environmentalism,” a word as misbegotten as “Manhattanization.” Heaven forfend and hell’s bells no. However, there is little doubt that the present skyline is here to sway, especially in high Richter’s, and the developers seem to be spent at the moment, at least financially. The same several worried readers used to wonder why I had a skyline at all in my logo “since you are against high-rise building.” Not at all. It’s a matter of where and/or when. The Old San Francisco that so many hanker for had a skyline, too, but it was arranged a little less greedily. Peaks and valleys and view corridors and all that, quite by accident and quite fetching.
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THE BEST thing about SF ’58 and earlier may not have been it’s physical beauty or even the supposed (vanished) elegance or it’s dandies, debutantes and courtesans. What a camaraderie, a “we are all San Franciscans" spirit. Would I ever use a phrase like “symbiotic relationship” in broad daylight? Not even now, as I struggle to figure out what I’m trying to say. We were proud to be “a good union town,” proud of paying and getting the highest wages anywhere, proud of pitching in for a good cause or against a bad war, or bitching out against a proliferation of freeways.