I grew up in San Jose, but I’ve always reserved a special love for The City. Although after living in its bowels for a year, that love has turned into a matured, wrinkly, mutated, reluctantly accepted love that’s borne out of becoming intimate with its blemishes and scars. The kind of love that’s exhibited when an older sibling beats on a younger sibling, only to fiercely defend them when an outsider attempts to do the same.
Still, after talking with a few friends and coming to the conclusion that a healthy handful of The City’s residents are full of shit, I have no problem calling San Francisco “Frisco.”
There, I fucking said it. I don’t care when someone calls it “Frisco.” I don’t have the energy anymore to get faux indignant whenever some clueless tourist or out-of-towner isn’t savvy enough to call it “The City.”
I acknowledge that the hate for “Frisco” does have a lot of historical weight. Emperor Norton, a famous local lunatic if you haven’t heard of him, decreed this popular edict in 18seventysomething:
Whoever after due and proper warning shall be heard to utter the abominable word “Frisco,” which has no linguistic or other warrant, shall be deemed guilty of a High Misdemeanor, and shall pay into the Imperial Treasury as penalty the sum of twenty-five dollars.
Respectable. But in the laws of vernacular, terms can carry different weights as they fossilize and become excavated. Local hip-hop legends Equipto and San Quinn have uttered “Frisco” in red blooded full sleeved love for their hometown. I’ve talked to natives who are ambivalent towards the word. SFUSD graduates whom I’ve met use “Frisco” all the time.
In Norton’s day, the “Anti-Frisco” decree was an amusing one that deserved to be woven into San Francisco’s narrative. But it’s the 21st Century, an era of hashtags and abbreviations and wholesale butchering of words like totes and fab and cray. Like it or not, it shouldn’t be a punishable offense to smush the syllables together for efficiency.
If you’re a native, someone born within the 415 area code and remembers the ’89 quake and Willie Brown, I can’t really hate on your sensitivity to what others call SF. It’s a tradition. I still think it really doesn’t matter what you nickname a city, provided it’s not something explicitly derogatory, but whatever. You grew up in the 415, you have that right and I’ll always respect your reservation of your right.
If anything, I think real natives are so deadened by its constant utterance that they won’t throw their drink in your face if you start pursing your lips in a FFFFRRR. But – and this is my hypothesis – transplants are trying so desperately to cling to nativity that they add extra gasoline to their indignity. “EUCH. IT’S THE CITY. NOBODY CALLS IT THAT HERE. GOD.” And whatever chance you had at a semblance of being taken seriously rolls back like their eyes as they immediately turn away from the dunce you just became.
My beef is really with my fellow transplants. To them, I say IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU THINK. If you were born and raised in Bumfuck, Michigan and made your way to the Mission and rechristened yourself a native by baptizing yourself in Anchor Steam, you’re still a fucking out-of-towner. You don’t get to be indignant when I call SF whatever the fuck I want to call it.
San Francisco is a lot of things. A lot of beautiful things. Its luster won’t tarnish when somebody calls it “Frisco.” It doesn’t become a cheap rhinestone-laden trinket when you mangle its name. The mainstream won’t taint its mercury-laden waters if you hear the F before the S. If you’re trying to solidify your own synthetic roots to this fair city by defending it from all those verbal interlopers who don’t appreciate whatever the fuck 7×7 deems tasteworthy, focus your energies on something more positive. Like frisbee golf. Or dancing in the moonlight. Or fixing up Hunters Point. Or teaching the Giants how to hit baseballs again.