As a fifth generation San Franciscan, I am disgusted to read that there is talk of corporate sponsorship for the Golden Gate bridge.
I have a hard time imagining people who truly appreciate the bridge's rust-colored elegance, would want to taint it with the mearest link to corporate branding.
While scanning Google for quotes, I found a perfect one by Kevin Starr, my first cousin once removed (my mother's cousin): "Great works of art encode within themselves messages that are at once transcendent and enigmatic, mysterious. What does the Parthenon mean? What does Beethoven's Ninth mean? What does Hamlet mean? The Golden Gate Bridge means many things. It means the victory of San Francisco over its environment. It means San Francisco remains competitive. It means that people can cross the channel more easily. But it also means something else. It celebrates in a mysterious way man's creativity and the joy and wonder of being on this planet."
You see, to some of us that bridge has meaning. For the more philosophical and optimistic it can be a testament to "man's creativity"; for the less philosophical-type who lack creativity, the bridge looks like a money making billboard.
Yeah, I've now lived in LA half my life. I'm one of those seemingly rare people who likes both cities for different reasons. But I spent the first have of my life being raised on San Francisco's fog, limb numbing beaches, the zoo's pink popcorn, sourdough bread, Joe's Ice Cream's dipped cones, Original Joe's hamburgers and
downstairs Chinese restaurants. I grew up trying to avoid the creepy
strip show barkers calling, "Step right this way for a good
time!" as my family walked on Broadway to our favorite Basque
restaurant, down an alley somewhere near Columbus. My dad taught me to
drive a stick shift on hills so steep the blood would rush to the back
of my head as I neared the top. The city was our backyard. We didn't
visit Alcatraz, ride the Cable cars or stroll along Golden Gate Bridge
just for fun. Those parts of the city were just there, like my elbows. But it
didn't mean we took the bridge for granted.
I'll always want to defend the city in which I grew. It's like another family member; my family, in their own ways, helped to raise it. My Great-Grandfather was an heroic firefighter (That's redundant, I know) during the 1906 earthquake and died on duty in 1925. My Grandmother, as a young woman, once worked for Elmer Robinson, who later became SF mayor; my Grandpa was the head of automotive maintenance for SF Muni. Other family members are policemen and my stepfather, also a fireman, was in charge of the SF fire Department Museum. I'm also proud to say, Kevin even mentions our family, the Collins and Joyces, on pages 132 & 133 in one of his books, "The Dream Endures."
The Golden Gate Bridge was always there - spanning the ocean mouth - through fog, fog, more fog and drizzle and on the most brilliant sun drenched days. The bridge was my escape to the pristine beaches of Marin, the dense Muir Woods, Mount Tamalpais, Point Reyes and even my favorite salon.
The Bridge can be a lot of things - A way out, a place to contemplate life, a symbol of whatever you want - But it was never a way to rake in more money. I think anyone who can even consider corporate sponsorship has to have no history with the city. So here's my suggestion for those types:
Rather than sucking any more soul out of the city I grew up in, why don't you seer, tattoo or etch the corporate logo onto your own already uncreative, soulless foreheads.
It's a much better idea than Nike Bridge, for instance. I can see it now - Drive across it... "Just Do It."