Season of the Witch by David Talbot (Free Press, 2012)
Somebody, possibly on LJ, gave a tempered recommendation of this book, and I put it down for reserve at the library. That was long enough ago that I'd completely forgotten what I'd ordered when it came in. It's a history of San Francisco from the mid-60s to the mid-80s, a period I largely remember, told in mostly separable chapters on various topics. These jump around a lot: you get DiFi trying to put the city back together after the Moscone-Milk assassinations; then you get the 49ers' first championship season; then you get AIDS. What the hey? It doesn't feel like a mixed bag, which is what life was actually like; it feels like a bunch of separate bags.
Talbot is a very fluid writer, but not always evocative, and the chapters on the 60s rock scene at the beginning are the least so. I read this book sort of backwards, which was probably a good idea. Talbot tends to oversimplify and to push theses though he allows evidence that it ain't that simple. He believes that DiFi was a good mayor by progressive standards, though he admits she did some horrid things. He seems absolutely convinced that Patty Hearst was lying through her teeth at the SLA when she claimed to convert, to persuade them not to kill her, and that she stuck with the Harrises after the massacre only because it had convinced her the cops would gun her down on sight. But Talbot has to admit this doesn't explain her revolutionary solidarity behavior during the trial.
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
This movie is being removed from Netflix at the end of the month (I wish they wouldn't do that; are they out of space?), so I decided to watch it now, though I didn't finish it; it was just too embarrassing. Embarrassing for the characters, I mean; I don't enjoy watching people being discomfited like that. And embarrassing to watch now, because of societal changes. It is well-made and well-acted, not a given with movies that old, no matter how renowned they are. And it takes place in San Francisco, with some great period shots over the opening credits.
What feels quaint, or at least I hope it does, is how stunned everyone else is at the prospect of an inter-racial marriage. And when Spencer Tracy, as the bride's father, asks Sidney Poitier, as his prospective son-in-law, whether the couple have considered the problems their children will have, I was already thinking of our mixed-race president before Poitier replies that his fiancee is convinced they'll all grow up to be Presidents of the United States. If only they knew!
Actually, if I were Tracy's character, I'd be at least as concerned that my unworldly (by the looks of it) 23-year-old daughter was insisting on marrying right away a widower 15 years her senior whom she only met ten days ago, as by the color of his skin. But Tracy can't say that, because it'd look as if he was only using the other concerns as a mask for a racial one.