When my Jesuit accountant father ripped our family from the belly of San Francisco’s Marina District and transplanted us to Larkspur in 1955, things were different around here, in pretty much every way I can think of.
This came to mind briefly a few days ago, when not one but two very fit and much younger women dressed in exercise attire cut in front of me in the check-out line at Whole Foods in San Rafael. While it was not an unusual occurrence in grocery stores in Marin, it struck me that, in my eighth decade as a Bay Area kind of guy, I am becoming more mindful of the dramatic plunge of polite society into darkness, despair and devolution.
While I’d like to blame any number of elected officials, criminal candidates, celebrity morons, talk show hosts, pundits, airhead CEOs, idiotic fellow motorists on 101 and fit, well-dressed, much younger women, I am having a hard time identifying the root cause of the problem. It might even be self-inflicted, but this degradation feels rapid and permanent.
Because of our affluence, privilege and entitlement to live perfect lives in the face of crushing global economic disparity, Marin is a very good laboratory to study social change. The laboratory opened, in my opinion, around 1975, when a combination of factors, such as the end of the Vietnam War and the Summer of Love, the ripening of the Baby Boom, and the onsets of the diet, health and exercise movements combined to make our little Marin a magnet for rock musicians and other pleasure seekers from all around the world.
A sleepy burb in the Bay Area became a cultural symbol overnight. The brilliant parodist, Cyra McFadden of Montana, chronicled the early days of the descent in the pages of the Pacific Sun. Her piercing insights into the nature of postmodern Marin were read across Bridgeway Avenue into San Francisco. They even spawned a trashy documentary by the formerly erudite NBC News correspondent Edwin Newman.
I yearn for the halcyon days before traffic, expensive private schools, gluten-free hybrid autos, Patagonia vests, vegan leather, people driving 60 miles an hour in the 25 mph zone in front of my house, drama, grievances of the well-to-do, letting go and parcel taxes. If it feels wrong, don’t do it.
Craig Corsini lives in Marin.