On Wednesday I attended the Launch party for Fashion Bliss at San Francisco’s MATRIXFILLMORE. Mika Takeuchi, the company’s founder and president, is a dear friend and former roommate of mine. Hers is the American success story. Mika’s an only child and while we were living together her father passed away and just two years ago her mother died of Breast Cancer. She promised her mother she would work to help find a cure for the disease and then turned around and created an online retailer that offered fashion forward designer clothing at dramatically discounted prices. A portion of each sale goes toward funding the fight against breast cancer. It was a huge financial risk but one that has paid off ten fold. In a very short time the site has become enormously successful and the party was evidence of that. A friend once pointed out that it is easy to be a good person when things are going well. It’s what you do when things start going wrong that is a testament to your true strength of character. Mika is a perfect example of how true that is.
So I hung out with the beautiful people (which is always fun) and then I started looking around and noting what the “beautiful people” of San Francisco actually look like. I’ve been interviewed by a few websites and publications in anticipation of Sex, Murder And A Double Latte’s release and two of the questions that keep popping up are:
1) Why did I choose to set the series in San Francisco?
2) What inspired me to create such an ethnically diverse cast of characters?
The answer to the first question is obvious. San Francisco is a city I know and love. The answer to the second question was represented at that party. Since I have always lived in and around the city I have a tendency to take its ethnic diversity for granted but when I push myself to see it through the eyes of a tourist I come to appreciate the fact that SF is about as close to a melting pot as you’re ever going to get. I’m not just talking about Black and White. At the party East Indians, Middle Easterners, Chinese, Japanese, South East Asians, Europeans and Latinos were equally represented. Plus there was a nice mix of socialites, straights, gays, club-goers and political and social activists. It’s the kind of mix that elevates a function from being a party to being a note worthy event. Not because these groups so rarely convene but because in San Francisco they convene all the time without a second thought and thus the party was a perfect representation of the city that contained it.
When I travel I’m always surprised when people treat mixed race relationships as a novelty. Here it’s practically a given. I remember being at a college party years ago in the company of several friends and being informed that one of the guys there was interested in an acquaintance of ours.
“But those two can’t get together!” protested one of my companions. “They’re both Iranian Jews. Wouldn’t that be incest or something?”
And the funny thing is it did seem odd to me that two people with such similar ethnic backgrounds would come together in a romantic sense. From my perspective it’s our differences that make us interesting and everyone that lives in my little bubble seems to agree with me. Some of my friends who live in Silicon Valley or the East Bay tell me that this is more of a San Francisco/Berkeley/Santa Cruz mentality than one that can be applied to every town in the greater Bay Area and that if I bothered to drive around some of the surrounding cities I would find that there is still a lot of self-imposed segregation going on. But I like my bubble. I’m comfortable here and thanks to my friend Mika I can now buy Prada purses for less than half the normal price without ever stepping out of it so why on earth would any self-respecting Black/Jewish shopping fiend ever want to burst it?
Sex, Murder And A Double Latte--May 2005