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[COMMUNITY] Unfolding Asian Identity of San Francisco / James Phelan

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  • madchinaman
    Beyond Gump s: The Unfolding Asian Identity of San Francisco by Kevin Starr http://www.pacificrim.usfca.edu/research/pacrimreport/pacrimreport39. html - how do
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 11, 2006
      Beyond Gump's: The Unfolding Asian Identity of San Francisco
      by Kevin Starr


      how do we explain the virulent anti-Japanese attitudes of upper-
      class professionals in the Progressive era, including the virulence
      of James Duval Phelan, who in so many other respects was such an
      admirable figure? A certain kind of San Franciscan, in short,
      starting perhaps in 1900 when the United States formally declared
      Hawaii a territory and hence incorporated en bloc its large resident
      Japanese population, saw the Japanese—now approaching the 100,000
      mark between Hawaii and California—as a threat to the American way
      of life. In 1905 San Francisco ordered its Japanese students into
      segregated public schools, precipitating a diplomatic crisis between
      the United States and Japan. The Alien Land Act of 1913 prohibited
      non-citizen issei residents from owning property in the state.

      The complexities of racial animosity are difficult to disentangle
      and analyze; and one approaches this topic only reluctantly in such
      a figure as James Duval Phelan—a graduate of this university, a
      mayor of this city, one of the founders of its Hetch Hetchy system,
      a United States senator, a patron of art and culture.


      This issue of Pacific Rim Report records the Kiriyama Distinguished
      Lecture in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the University of
      San Francisco delivered by Kevin Starr on October 24, 2005 on USF's
      Lone Mountain campus.

      Kevin Starr was born in San Francisco in 1962, He served two years
      as lieutenant in a tank battalion in Germany. Upon release from the
      service, Starr entered Harvard University where he took his M.A.
      degree in 1965 and his Ph.D. in 1969 in American Literature. He also
      holds a Master of Library Science degree from UC Berkeley and has
      done post-doctoral work at the Graduate Theological Union in
      Berkeley. Starr has served as Allston Burr Senior Tutor in Eliot
      House at Harvard, executive assistant to the Mayor of San Francisco,
      the City Librarian of San Francisco, a daily columnist for the San
      Francisco Examiner, and a contributing editor to the Opinion section
      of the Los Angeles Times.

      The author of numerous newspaper and magazine articles, Starr has
      written and/or edited fourteen books, six of which are part of his
      America and the California Dream series. His writing has won him a
      Guggenheim Fellowship, membership in the Society of American
      Historians, and the Gold Medal of the Commonwealth Club of
      California. His most recent book is Coast of Dreams: California on
      the Edge, 1990-2003 published by Alfred A. Knopf.

      Starr is the California State Librarian Emeritus.

      We gratefully acknowledge The Kiriyama Chair for Pacific Rim Studies
      at the USF Center for the Pacific Rim for underwriting the
      publication of this issue of Pacific Rim Report.

      I would like to speak this evening about San Francisco and Asia. By
      San Francisco, I mean both the city and its extended metropolitan
      region, the Bay Area. By Asia, I mean to suggest the entire Asia
      Pacific region.

      If only indirectly, this city was founded by Spain within an Asia
      Pacific Basin context. One cannot understand the history of Spain in
      the New World—specifically the vice-royalty of New Spain
      headquartered in Mexico City—without reference to the Asia Pacific

      Indeed, it can be claimed that the fundamental dynamic of New Spain
      was its drive towards, then across, the Pacific Ocean: the evocation
      of California as an island in a far-flung ocean in Ordóñez de
      Montalvo's 1510 prose romance Las Sergas de Esplandián; the
      discovery of the Pacific Ocean itself by Vasco Núñez de Balboa in
      1513; the crossing of the Pacific by Magellan in 1520-1521; the push
      westward to the Baja Peninsula in 1532; the reconnaissance up the
      California coast by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo in 1542; and then,
      astonishingly, the crossing of the Pacific to the Philippines by
      Miguel López de Legazpi in 1564, followed by the first Manila
      galleon across the Pacific from the Philippines to Mexico in 1565.

      As myth-makers, then, as explorers and settlers, as imperial
      entrepreneurs, the Spanish can even be said to have been obsessed by
      the Pacific: a Pacific, we must always remember, linked from
      earliest times to the California coast because the voyages of the
      Manila galleons were so long (more than 200 days) and so dangerous
      (scurvy, dysentery, beriberi, vermin, shipboard accidents, even
      lightening), Spaniards were ever on the lookout for a port on the
      Alta California coast, especially after 1584 when a galleon
      commanded by Francisco de Gali discovered that the best way to get
      from the Philippines to New Spain was to follow the Japanese current
      westward, head directly toward the coast of Alta California off Cape
      Mendocino, then sail down the coast of California (Alta and Baja)
      and round Cape San Lucas to Acapulco.

      From the mid-1580s onward, Pedro de Moya y Contreras, Viceroy of New
      Spain and Archbishop of Mexico, had as his goal the discovery of a
      port on the coast of Alta California where the Manila galleons could
      land before continuing south. In November 1595, the Portuguese
      merchant adventurer Sebastian Ródriquez Cermeño, sailing on behalf
      of the viceroy, almost found such a port when, following the usual
      horrible voyage across the Pacific, he anchored his San Agustín in
      the same bay where the Golden Hinde of Francis Drake had found safe
      harbor in 1579. Cermeño named the harbor the Bay of San Francisco.
      Today, we call it Drake's Bay. Cermeño missed the great bay itself,
      and to add insult to injury, a sudden storm drove the San Agustín
      aground at Point Reyes, scattering its treasure on the shore.

      For the next 180 years, Spain would continue to sail past the fog-
      shrouded Golden Gate, as it later came to be called. Sebastian
      Vizcaíno sailed past it in early 1603. Not until August 1775 did the
      Spaniards at long last sail into San Francisco Bay, under the
      command of Juan de Ayala; and even then the civilian settlement that
      eventually formed on the San Francisco peninsula was not given civic
      status by Mexico until the mid-1830s.

      Here, then, is a paradox. Spain embraced the Pacific, crossed the
      Pacific, explored the Pacific, but for various reasons could never
      fully establish a civil settlement on the Pacific in Alta California
      to anchor its Pacific aspirations on the north coast of its New
      World empire. From the beginning, San Francisco was delayed,
      delayed, delayed in its Asia Pacific identity.

      At the deepest point of its identity, this was a city that had been
      first envisioned—even before its exact site was discovered—as a
      Pacific Basin capital, the exit and entry port for the Manila trade,
      but this goal could somehow never be achieved by either Spain or
      Mexico. This failure, however, does not mean that the Pacific Basin
      was not energizing the Bay Area from the very beginning of the
      Spanish and English presence in the Pacific, however delayed the
      actual founding of the City of San Francisco might be. Pacific Basin
      energies can even be said to have been stored in this region
      awaiting the patterning and release of urbanism that came during the
      American era.

      And it came swiftly! The Bay of San Francisco—if not yet the city—
      was very much on the minds of the French, the Russians, and the
      English as they began to stake their claims in the South Pacific and
      look to the North Pacific, starting in the late 18th century. In
      1541 Comte Eugène Duflot De Mofras, exploring the possibilities of
      establishing a new French colony, a Louisiana on the Pacific, stood
      on the shores of San Francisco Bay and, extending his arms with
      Gallic panache, rhapsodized as to the great city that would one day
      arise on the shores of this harbor, in which all the navies of the
      world might find anchor.

      One might very well write the entire history of the American
      acquisition of California in terms of the Asia Pacific impulse of
      the United States, whether in reference to the New England trade
      with China, the New England-based whaling industry, the hide and
      tallow trade with California by such New England-based companies as
      Bryant & Sturgis, one of whose employees, Richard Henry Dana, Jr.,
      would upon his return to Massachusetts in 1840 write a best-seller,
      Two Years Before the Mast, calling for the Americanization of the
      California coast. No wonder that, a few short years later, the
      Reverend Timothy Dwight Hunt of the First Congregational Church in
      the newly established city of San Francisco would be telling his
      parishioners that it was their destiny to transform their state into
      the Massachusetts of the Pacific, with San Francisco serving as a
      second Boston.

      When Commodore Matthew Perry sailed his four ships into Tokyo Bay in
      July 1853, he brought a letter with him from President Millard
      Fillmore suggesting to the Emperor and Shogun that now that
      California was a state, the United States had entered the community
      of Asia Pacific nations and was hence anxious to open dialogue with

      A delegation of Japanese envoys arrived in San Francisco in the
      early 1860s, en route to Washington to open formal negotiations with
      the American government. Within the decade, steam-sail ships were
      crossing the Pacific between San Francisco and Yokahama twice
      monthly. Mark Twain took one of them and wrote about it in Innocents
      Abroad (1869), and so did the Army captain played by Tom Cruise in
      the film The Last Samurai (2003), whose depiction of Nob Hill by
      night in the year 1876, with a recently invented cable car climbing
      up California Street, briefly but brilliantly suggest the rapidly
      achieved urbanism of San Francisco: a city long delayed in its
      foundation but, once founded, pushing forward, as the contemporary
      historian Hubert Howe Bancroft phrased it, into a rapid, monstrous
      maturity: a maturity already inextricably bound up with Asia Pacific
      peoples, commerce, and cultural concerns.

      Chinese workers, among other things, had entered California through
      San Francisco by the thousands, brought to California by Charles
      Crocker, construction manager of the Big Four, to achieve an epic of
      construction engineering, the Trans-Sierran Railroad, comparable to
      the Great Wall of China itself. By the mid-1870s two San Franciscans—
      Anson C. Burlingame and Benjamin Parke Avery—had served as United
      States minister to the Chinese Empire.

      Avery, a journalist and essayist—editor of the San Francisco
      Bulletin and the Overland Monthly magazine—had written numerous
      articles suggesting the importance of San Francisco's Asia Pacific
      connection. The San Francisco-based poet Charles Warren Stoddard,
      meanwhile, was exploring the South Pacific, and writing about it in
      his South Sea Idylls, published in 1873. Stoddard would later
      introduce the temporary San Franciscan Robert Louis Stevenson to the
      South Pacific as a place to live and write.

      Like the rest of the nation, San Francisco found itself attracted to
      the aesthetics of China and Japan, starting with the success of the
      Japanese Pavilion at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in
      1876 and the introduction of Japanese colors, techniques, and motifs
      into American painting by James MacNeil Whistler, William Merritt
      Chase, and other artists of the era. San Francisco painter Theodore
      Wores spent practically the entire decade of the 1890s in Japan,
      paintings its places and people, and was decorated by the Japanese
      government for his efforts.

      The president of the newly established Stanford University,
      meanwhile, David Starr Jordan, an ardent Japanophile, traveled from
      Palo Alto to Japan in 1900 and 1911, making a special effort to
      recruit Japanese students. Thanks to Jordan's efforts, Stanford
      ranked second only to Harvard as the university of choice for Meiji-
      era students eager to sharpen their professional and technical
      skills. Ever since the American acquisition of the Philippines,
      Jordan had been outspoken in his evocation of the United States as
      an Asia Pacific power with the San Francisco Bay Area, including
      Palo Alto, as its Asia Pacific capital. In October 1905, Jordan
      joined San Mateo attorney Henry Pike Bowie to form the Japan Society
      of Northern California, which launched a busy schedule of lectures,
      exhibitions, study-travels, and other cultural activities.

      As of now, I know what you are thinking. What about the exclusion of
      Chinese immigrants from the courts, you are asking, or the anti-
      Chinese rallies of Dennis Kearny during the 1870s, or the two
      Oriental Exclusion Acts of the 1880s, cutting off Asian immigration?
      How do such attitudes square with the esthetic and commercial
      appreciation of the Asia Pacific Basin by San Franciscans also so
      evident in this period?

      The talented geologist Clarence King, a graduate of the Sheffield
      Scientific School at Yale, saw such contradictions in terms of
      class. The upper classes of San Francisco, indeed of all California,
      King was arguing in The Atlantic Monthly by the early 1870s, were
      not those persecuting the Chinese; indeed, the upper classes, King
      argued, tended to create symbiotic relationships with the Chinese
      retainers whom they brought into their family circle as household
      help. The anti-Chinese agitation of California, King argued, came
      from the embattled working classes, who saw the Chinese as economic
      competitors: a condition that was only intensified after the
      publication of King's essays in book form in 1873 as Mountaineering
      in the Sierra Nevada.

      Yet if that were the case, how do we explain the virulent anti-
      Japanese attitudes of upper-class professionals in the Progressive
      era, including the virulence of James Duval Phelan, who in so many
      other respects was such an admirable figure? A certain kind of San
      Franciscan, in short, starting perhaps in 1900 when the United
      States formally declared Hawaii a territory and hence incorporated
      en bloc its large resident Japanese population, saw the Japanese—now
      approaching the 100,000 mark between Hawaii and California—as a
      threat to the American way of life. In 1905 San Francisco ordered
      its Japanese students into segregated public schools, precipitating
      a diplomatic crisis between the United States and Japan. The Alien
      Land Act of 1913 prohibited non-citizen issei residents from owning
      property in the state.

      The complexities of racial animosity are difficult to disentangle
      and analyze; and one approaches this topic only reluctantly in such
      a figure as James Duval Phelan—a graduate of this university, a
      mayor of this city, one of the founders of its Hetch Hetchy system,
      a United States senator, a patron of art and culture. We are
      likewise baffled by similar attitudes in San Franciscan Hiram
      Johnson, the first Progressive governor of California in this
      period, or the San Francisco novelist Peter B. Kyne.

      Should we merely chalk such attitudes up to Original Sin, or to
      various psychological and/or social pathologies, or to mere
      questions of economic competition; or was there something else
      involved as well: a fear, that is, of the Asia Pacific nature of San
      Francisco on the part of Progressives such as Phelan who perhaps
      understood the inevitable—namely, that San Francisco had within its
      DNA code a compelling Asia Pacific destiny—but were unwilling to
      accept that fact because of a cultural bias? For Phelan, the
      paradigm for San Francisco was the Mediterranean civilizations of

      At Montalvo, his ex-urban retreat in Saratoga, Phelan created a
      theme park of Mediterranean architecture and landscaping, which he
      considered suggestive of the best possibilities for California. Did
      Phelan perhaps understand at some subliminal level the competitive
      coherence and strength of Japanese culture in particular and Asian
      culture in general? And did he also understand—and fear—in the same
      subliminal way San Francisco's foundational relationship to these
      cultures and other Asia Pacific cultures as well? And did he
      consider what he understood to be a threat, even an affront, of his
      daydream of California as a neo-Mediterranean littoral, a reprise of
      southern Catholic Europe? Or am I pushing it, stretching it too far,
      trying to find some level of cultural significance in Phelan's
      disdain and the disdain of so many of his fellow Progressives for
      the peoples and cultures of Japan?

      Paradoxes abound from this period, 1890 forward, the era in which
      San Francisco began to take itself seriously, self-consciously, as
      an Asia Pacific city, meaning, of course, an Anglo-American imperial
      capital on the Asia Pacific Basin, if we are to judge from the
      speeches of the period, from the historical scholarship of Henry
      Morse Stephens of UC Berkeley, the pro-Japanese program of David
      Starr Jordan, the integration of the San Francisco economy with the
      economies of Australia, Hawaii, China, Japan, and the Philippines.
      And how are we to integrate the anti-Orientalism of Phelan and
      others in the Progressive period with the simultaneous strength of
      Asian aesthetics in, among other things, the architecture of Bernard
      Maybeck and the other architects of the Bay Region style, together
      with the popularity of Asian art, especially the art and furniture
      of China and Japan?

      Which brings us to Gump's. Founded in the mid-1860s by Solomon Gump,
      a German-Jewish immigrant, the son of a cultured Heidelberg linen
      merchant, Gump's—first in a small shop on Clay and Leidesdorf, later
      on Sansome, still later on Post Street—had played a major role
      across the decades in informing the taste of the high provincial
      city and evolving its signature style. Solomon Gump brought art to a
      city emerging from its first frontier phase into provincial self-

      Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the store began to
      specialize in Asian furniture, jewelry, and object d'art. By the
      1920s a distinctive style of blended European and Asian furniture
      and art characterized upscale interior design in San Francisco.
      Gump's longtime owner and chief executive, Abraham Livingston Gump,
      was a learned connoisseur with a specialty in jade. Even Edmund
      Wilson, who in general refused to be taken in by San Francisco
      during his 1947 visit, found in Gump's store a wonderland of
      exquisite objects.

      The mere mention of Gump's launches us into the 1940s, for this
      signature style, this preference for an interface of Asian and
      European aesthetics, so suggestive of deeper San Francisco
      realities, persisted through the 1920s and 1930s. San Francisco
      strengthened and expanded its Asia Pacific connections through such
      enterprises as the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company (its
      president Roger Lapham would eventually become the mayor of the
      city), the trans-Pacific freight and passenger traffic of the Dollar
      and Matson lines, the trans-Pacific flights of the Pan-Am Clippers,
      the Asian spice import trade of Schilling and company, the Asia
      Pacific import-export business of Wilbur-Ellis, the overseas banking
      operations of the Bank of America. The Second World War only
      increased the awareness of San Franciscans that their city was an
      Asia Pacific depot as more than a million servicemen and women
      departed from and—not all of them, however—returned to this city as
      part of their Pacific service.

      The highpoint of this awareness was the effort of San Francisco to
      become the permanent home of the United Nations, founded in this
      city toward the conclusion of the war. During the proceedings that
      led to the formation of the United Nations, elite San Francisco
      experienced the thrill of socially supporting people and events of
      world importance. The public buildings and private places of San
      Francisco and its environs in these heady weeks of UN formation
      buzzed with the excitement of momentous event.

      In the aftermath of this euphoria, the San Francisco establishment
      made every effort to win the UN to San Francisco as its permanent
      headquarters. Longtime Harper's editor Lewis Lapham, the grandson of
      Mayor Roger Lapham who led this effort, once told me that he
      personally believes that the failure to win the UN away from New
      York City, where the Rockefellers had donated a dramatic site,
      represented a turning point—more, a crisis—in the unfolding identity
      of this city. And the crisis was more than what could be written
      about in the society pages.

      The crisis was a crisis of leveraging San Francisco as a fulfillment
      of its best idea of itself, which is to say, a city of global
      significance. The San Francisco establishment, Lapham argued, never
      fully recovered from this blow to its self-esteem, especially given
      the fact that it had always been so internationally oriented as was
      evident in its flourishing World Affairs Council, the proceedings of
      its Commonwealth Club, and the multiplicities of overseas Asia
      business being orchestrated from its downtown.

      In the 1980s, this dream, this metaphor, of San Francisco resurfaced
      when developer Walter Shorenstein and others began to call for the
      development of the Presidio, relinquished by the Army, into an
      international center for Asia-oriented research and conferences,
      stimulated, in part, by the San Francisco-based Asia Foundation, the
      universities of the region, foundations and corporations, all of
      them cooperating to transform San Francisco into the Geneva of the
      Pacific, which is to say, the crossroads of the Asia Pacific Basin.

      For the time being at least, that Geneva of the Pacific has failed
      to materialize, despite the fact that the City and County of San
      Francisco expanded its international airport terminals to world-
      class capacity. The dominant enterprise of the Presidio is today the
      enterprises swirling around George Lucas and digital entertainment,
      not the comings and goings of Asian diplomats and business men and
      women or the flourishing of an Asian Pacific-oriented think tank,
      with the conspicuous exception—not in the Presidio!—of the
      University of San Francisco's Center for the Pacific Rim and its
      Ricci Institute, which, together with The Asia Foundation,
      constitutes the cutting edge of such inquiry in the city these days.

      Not that Anglo San Francisco lost its interest in Asian aesthetics.
      Far from it. Which brings us back to Gump's. In 1947, Abraham
      Livingston Gump—who along with actor-retailer Ching Wah Lee of
      Chinatown was the most learned Asian connoisseur of his generation
      in San Francisco—passed on, and the store came under the ownership
      and management of his son Richard Gump, forty-two, who soon revealed
      himself as an enthusiastic citizen of Baghdad by the Bay sprung from
      the loins of high provincial San Francisco.

      An accomplished Orientalist like his father, Richard Gump's
      monograph Jade – Stone of Heaven, earned him the respect of experts
      in his field. Like his father, Richard Gump kept his store as a
      museum of Asian art and a destination-clearinghouse for people
      throughout the world interested in the field as either collectors or
      academics. Whereas Abraham Livingston Gump was cautious and
      conservative, however, and oriented toward the sale of individual
      objects at impressive prices, Richard Gump was convinced—and this
      made him a leading citizen of Baghdad—as he wrote in Good Taste
      Costs No More (1951), that an entire generation of postwar Americans
      was eager to improve its taste and lifestyle and that Gump's could
      play a role in this evolution through catalog sales as well as San
      Francisco-based retail.

      Commissioning agents to fan throughout Asia in search of art and
      furniture, Gump projected through his books, store, and catalogs an
      image of Baghdad San Francisco as a city of taste, catering to a
      worldwide clientele. Throughout the 1950s, the State Department put
      Gump's on its must-see list for visiting dignitaries. Asian art
      collector Avery Brundage, president of the International Olympic
      Games Committee, who would eventually present his collection to San
      Francisco for an Asian Art Museum, was a frequent visitor. The
      splendid Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is a direct result, then,
      of an aesthetic and imaginative legacy characteristic of this city
      that goes back to the 19th century and was intricately interwoven
      with numerous business and personal connections across the past

      As important as art and interior design are, however, as signs of an
      Asian orientation in this city, they cannot in and of themselves
      bear the full burden of civic destiny. From this perspective, San
      Francisco is in a situation of moving beyond Gump's: of moving
      beyond, that is, an aesthetic and intellectual appreciation of Asian
      civilization by various elites, as important as such appreciation is
      for the cultural life of the city, to a more humanly-based,
      demographically based, re-creation of San Francisco as an Asian-
      American capital in terms of its people and economy.

      By implication during the Spanish and Mexican eras, when it hardly
      existed, and overtly since the American era, San Francisco has been
      destined to be an Asian Pacific city of one sort or another. The
      argument can be made that the Asian Pacific connection of San
      Francisco was in its first 100 years imperial, economic, and
      aesthetic, with the peoples of Asia playing a secondary, even
      tertiary and frequently suppressed role. No one would argue that
      this is the condition of San Francisco today. The reform of American
      immigration law in the mid-1960s has populated San Francisco not
      only with the art and restaurants of Asia, or its ghettoized
      populations, but with the full spectrum of Asian peoples,
      investment, and talent.

      San Francisco has become the most Asian-American city in the nation,
      where, as Vietnamese-American writer Andrew Lam was pointing out by
      August 2001, one in three residents of the city had an Asian face.
      By 2017, or even earlier, San Francisco would become the first major
      city in the nation to have an Asian majority. "The Far East has come
      very near San Francisco," Lam wrote, "and is beginning to subvert
      the age-old black-white dialogue about identity and race, in fusing
      it with an even more complex model, one informed by a transpacific
      sensibility." Non-Asian architects and interior designers in San
      Francisco, Lam noted, "were careful to master feng shui, the Chinese
      art of spatial arrangement. HMOs accepted acupuncture as legitimate
      therapy, and, Vietnamese fish sauce was being stocked on Aisle Three
      at Safeway."

      Already, the Chinese-American community, which accounted for 60
      percent of all Asians living in San Francisco, was exercising
      decisive political clout. No one was riding the wave of this
      influence more successfully than the Fang family. Arriving in San
      Francisco from Taiwan in 1960, John Ta Chuan and Florence Fang
      initially supported themselves as publishers of a newspaper
      supported by Taiwan's then-ruling party, the Kuomintang. Expanding
      into job printing and the restaurant business, the Fangs created a
      business and publishing empire that included, among other
      properties, AsianWeek magazine and a chain of free community-
      oriented independent newspapers.

      Then Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr., and other political connections
      helped the Fangs obtain from the Hearst Corporation a sweetheart
      deal when the Corporation, purchasing the San Francisco Chronicle
      for some $660 million, literally gave the Examiner to the Fangs,
      together with a three-year $66 million subsidy. Hearst considered it
      worth its while to make such a donation, since the Justice
      Department saw such a move as the only fair way it could extract
      itself from a joint operating agreement entered into in 1965 that
      had allowed the Chronicle and the Examiner to combine facilities,
      even their Sunday edition, exempt from anti-trust laws so long as
      the editorial pages maintained their distinctive identities.

      Political consultant Clint Reilly tried to prevent the acquisition
      of the Examiner by the Fangs but lost his case in federal court,
      despite the skeptical attitude of federal judge Vaughn Walker, who
      heard the case without a jury. Even if the Examiner failed to make
      it as a newspaper, the Fangs stood to make, at minimum, $10 million
      in exit subsidies.

      All this added to the glamour and colorfulness of San Francisco as
      an Asian-American city. The Fangs, it had to be remembered, had
      bested the Hearst Corporation, whose founder, William Randolph
      Hearst, had been tireless in his campaign against the so-
      called "Yellow Peril" abroad and the growing presence of Asians on
      the home front. Matriarch Florence Fang (her husband had passed away
      in 1992) explicitly described the acquisition of the Examiner from
      Hearst as an ironic payback for decades of anti-Asian prejudice.

      How all this boded for the civic spirit of San Francisco only time
      could tell. Could it be expected, it might legitimately be asked,
      for the overwhelmingly immigrant Asian-American community of San
      Francisco to blossom forth, suddenly and gloriously, into a coherent
      and civic-minded force concerned for the welfare and identity of a
      city that had so recently kept them in their place?

      Critics who claimed that the Asian-American community lacked
      philanthropic spirit, however, had to deal with the fact that Seoul-
      born Korean-American businessman Chong Moon Lee, founder and
      chairman of Diamond Multimedia, a leading manufacturer of graphics
      and accelerator cards for personal computer systems, had donated the
      $15 million it was taking to move the Asian Art Museum from Golden
      Gate Park to a reconverted San Francisco Public Library building on
      the Civic Center. Thanks to the generosity of this university
      professor turned entrepreneur, San Francisco would now, at long
      last, enjoy a proper site for its Avery Brundage Collection, the
      single finest comprehensive collection of Asian art in the nation.

      By this time, San Francisco had become the leading Asian-American
      city in America. Thanks to its sponsor, Southwest Airlines, the
      colorful Chinese New Year's parade organized each year by the
      Chinese Chamber of Commerce was being enjoyed by millions on
      television. Chinese-Americans had long since been serving on the
      board of supervisors.

      Fred Lau, followed by St. Rose and USF graduate Heather Fong, was
      Chief of Police. Schoolyards were teeming with Asian-American
      children. Public high schools, including the rigorously academic
      Lowell High School, and the private high schools of the city as
      well, were sending generations of Asian-American students on to
      colleges and universities. When state regulation of insurance
      collapsed in California, due to the shenanigans of the elected
      insurance commissioner, who soon resigned, Governor Gray Davis
      turned to a prominent Chinese-American from San Francisco, retired
      Court of Appeal Judge Harry Low, to straighten out the mess.

      It is this human matrix, in short, that is taking us beyond Gump's,
      Asian and non-Asian alike. My friend Richard Rodríguez, a San
      Franciscan, tells us that we are becoming more like each other.
      Asians are becoming Americanized and Euro-Americans are becoming
      more Asianized, and Asian-Americans and Euro-Americans are becoming
      more Hispanicized, and Hispanic Americans are becoming more
      Anglicized and Asianized. Some kind of fusion culture awaits us,
      although we cannot understand fully the process. No matter: as
      Marshall McLuhan tells us, once you are aware of your environment,
      it is no longer your environment. For the sake of this talk only, I
      have not underscored the difficulties involved in creating such a
      future: the conflicts, competitions, misunderstandings, even, God
      forbid, the hostilities and racism characteristic of our fallen
      human condition.

      But I prefer, just for the sake of this talk, to keep in mind the
      more hopeful possibilities that await us beyond Gump's. For a
      hundred years, we have been employing each other, doing business
      with each other, absorbing each other's art and architecture, eating
      each other's food. (What would our beloved Jewish community of San
      Francisco do, one can legitimately ask, if the Chinese restaurants
      of San Francisco were unavailable on Sunday evening?) And yes, we
      have also been exploiting, each other suppressing each other,
      misunderstanding each other as well. But if the Spanish had a dream
      of a great Asia Pacific port on the California coast, and Anglo-
      Americans dreamt of San Francisco as an entrepot of Asia Pacific
      trade, and civic leaders of a later era envisioned the city as the
      Geneva of the Pacific, none of these dreams could become real, or
      morally valid, unless they were truly anchored in all the peoples of
      the city, in their physical, social, and cultural selves.

      No Euro-American nor any Hispanic American or African-American need
      fear the Asian demographics of this city, provided that we continue,
      in Richard Rodríguez's phrase, to become more like each other: to
      achieve connections of sympathetic tolerance, that is, and not only
      tolerance but knowledge and respect of each other's cultures. White
      America has long since learned to internalize – in speech, music,
      humor, and something called soul – its African-American heritage.

      All of California is today experiencing a transformative interface
      of peoples and civilizations—Hispanic, Asian, African-American,
      Pacific Islander, you name it –- that is so powerful and profound,
      so all-encompassing, that – to refer to Marshall McLuhan's adage—we
      are almost incapable of being aware of it. This encounter has
      differing orientations and shadings across the state. In Los
      Angeles, for example, the encounter with Mexico predominates. In San
      Francisco, I believe, it is the Asian connection that is dominating
      and will continue to dominate the interaction, as San Francisco
      moves beyond Gump's.
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