This post was written upon the launch of an unsuccessful attempt at bring Planet SOMA back to life:
I’ve always been nostalgic about San Francisco.
I don’t mean that I’m nostalgic about it now that I no longer live there, nor that I “miss” it, per se. Actually, I was even nostalgic about San Francisco when I was still a resident. I was nostalgic for a San Francisco I never got to see, one whose existence — assuming it ever existed at all — concluded long before I arrived on the scene. I’m talking about the 1950s San Francisco of Herb Caen, martinis, Trader Vic’s, and little neighborhood Safeway stores in the middle of the block with no parking lots. And maybe even the San Francisco of the 1970s, with the relaxed attitude toward sex and cute shaggy-headed boys running around everywhere.
I moved to San Francisco in October of 1992. The city and the state weren’t in top form; there was a recession, and a string of well-publicized disasters starting with the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and ending with the 1992 LA riots had scared much of the country out of ever wanting to live in California. But not me. After 28 years in North Carolina, I was ready for something a bit more urban. And 1992 was an amazing time for a sodomite with somewhat non-mainstream tastes to move to San Francisco.
It’s that long gone San Francisco of the early 1990s that I sometimes miss these days. I have pretty much no use for the current incarnation of the place, and I’m happy as can be that I no longer live there. That may have as much to do with my own growth and perspective as it does with the actual changes the city itself has experienced. I’m no longer in my twenties, I no longer drink and carry on until all hours of the night, and I’m concerned about than sex, booze, and rock, and roll. In short, I may be missing my own youth more than I’m missing some idealized version of San Francisco in 1992. I grew out of both.
That said, it was a great place to be at that point in my life, and it’s the San Francisco of the 1990s that this new incarnation of Planet SOMA will be all about. I’ll be posting about whatever I’m thinking about on any given day: stories from my own past, music videos, photos, random news stories from the era, memories of sex clubs and bars and places that no longer exist, and even the birth of the internet. You never know what you might find here.
In a sense, it will be like some of the earlier versions of Planet SOMA, dating back to its birth in January of 1996. In case you’re new to the site, here’s a crash course in Planet SOMA History:
Version 1 lasted for roughly two and a half years, from January 1996 to August 1998, and featured commentary on South of Market nightspots, sex clubs, and history, and also included road trip journals and occasional rants on miscellaneous subjects…not to mention the occasional dirty picture. The focus was on my neighborhood, the area south of Market Street in San Francisco, an area dubbed “SOMA” by any number of hipsters and real estate speculators.
Version 2 was launched in August 1998, and added a semi-regular web journal to the mix, which by this time didn’t feature sex clubs or porn anymore. The rants became more prominent and more varied. By late 2000, I’d split most of the personal material (the journal, and all my assorted “bio” pages) into a separate site, Otherstream.com, which eventually resulted in Planet SOMA Version 3, a site which mostly contained rants about my growing impatience with the city by the bay.
Version 4 was finally launched in early 2004, once pretty much all the old content had either been retired or moved to Otherstream. I’d almost given up on the old site, as I was increasingly frustrated with San Francisco (and soon to escape for good) and didn’t quite know what to do with it. I thought this new incarnation as a photo site would inspire me to do regular updates. I did exactly four updates before moving back to North Carolina in 2005 and putting Planet SOMA into a stasis chamber.
Welcome to Version 5. We’ll see where it goes.