Marfa is a small town in the high desert in West Texas. Population around 1800. It’s an arts destination. Marfa’s in Presidio County, one of the poorest counties in the United States.
Marfa has one traffic signal that blinks. At least that’s all I remember seeing. If you go you must visit Marfa Burritos. Fantastic. It’s Ramona’s joint. As you leave, Ramona will say farewell with a cheerful “Adios Guapos!” I went there for breakfast and lunch, and would have gone for dinner if it was still open. Anthony Bourdain was there while we were visiting. We talked about Puerto Rico a bit. He said: I got lots of love for Puerto Rico. Bourdain ordered the asado. I went for the egg & chorizo. You can’t go wrong either way.
Some of my closest friends here in SF don’t want any more development. Or they wonder if the city’s built-out. Yet they’re both involved in facilities development projects for permanently affordable arts space. Arts people. They’re brilliant, inspiring to me. They save lives, including mine. The whole thing with money and architects and engineers and developers and construction – i.e. development – is hard, but it’s what we have to do if we want affordable living or work space. Unless we lived in Marfa. My friends grew up in the city or have been in the city for decades. One of my friends hates this guy Ron Conway; she blames him for the affordable housing crisis. Another wonders: Is there a point where the city is full? The specter of Manhattan looms.
My California cycling legend buddy Tony Tom grew up at Jones and Broadway. He remembers doing wheelies in the middle of the street. He said he could do that because no cars would pass by, back in the day.
I suppose I always thought of cities as ever-evolving cauldrons of people, economies, cultures, civilizations. I never considered the prospect of a static city until I moved to San Francisco and learned of its deeply conservative, anti-city ethos.
I look at much of San Francisco, with its landscape of one and two-story buildings within minutes walk of major public transit stations, and I don’t get the references to Manhattan. Not even Queens or Brooklyn for that matter. My friends are probably talking about the giant, blunt force redevelopment projects like the Embarcadero Center and Yerba Buena. I can see how those projects left a long, traumatic, residual stream of anti-development sentiments in their wake.
I don’t know Ron Conway; maybe he’s an asshole. I saw he is a major contributor to anti-gun violence efforts; that impresses me as a very good thing. Either way, it’s arguably better to build affordable space than to endlessly fixate on one asshole or one benefactor. So I’m happy for my arts friends’ real estate development projects.
On the other hand, what if Jeff Bezos chooses Marfa for HQ2? If I were a Marfa resident, I’d be all over opposing that.