So I Married an Axe Murderer: Unexpected Nostalgia Trip to San Francisco That Was

I wasn’t thinking about “San Francisco That Was” when I started watching So I Married an Axe Murderer, but I soon found myself on an unexpected nostalgia trip.

In the imagined future of Joss Whedon’s prematurely cancelled sci-fi western series Firefly, humans no longer live on Earth, and when they discuss our home planet, it’s referred to as “Earth That Was.”

Inspired by that phrase, I now talk about San Francisco as “San Francisco That Was.” As so many residents and former residents have documented, the city is now fundamentally different than it was for the preceding 150 years.

I wasn’t thinking about San Francisco That Was when I started watching So I Married an Axe Murderer, but I soon found myself on an unexpected nostalgia trip.

The looseness. The openness to possibility. The unpolished edges. Poets living in the city. Young people in relatively nice apartments. Vibrancy. Class diversity. People talking about interesting things.

We get the word nostalgia from Greek—nostos ‘return home’ + algos ‘pain’—perhaps you’d like to taste a sample? Behold…


↑ Relatively crappy cars parked in a youthful North Beach.


↑ In Jack Kerouac Alley, people congregate for spoken word night.


↑ Spoken word night at Vesuvio.


↑ Class diversity amongst people waiting at the butcher shop.


↑ Harriet’s apartment. She’s gainfully employed at a butcher shop.


↑ A city not yet completely gentrified.


↑ House where retired middle-class parents now live comfortably (and hilariously).

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