By Alexia Tsotsis
Photograph by Eartha Goodwin
Within minutes of coming to San Francisco, tech writer Paul Carr knew he wanted to live here. “Never have I arrived in a city and felt so quickly at home. Of course, there's the technology stuff, but then there's the fact that you can travel around and go to different weathers,” he says, referring to S.F.'s microclimates. “I'm a Brit, so we're obsessed with the weather.”
Before joining notable technology blog TechCrunch, Carr wrote a weekly column for London's Guardian, the provocative nature of which quickly gained him a loyal and vocal following. His occasionally profane pieces are currently the edgiest (and least Silicon Valley–focused) things on TechCrunch. His refusal to pander to geek culture often results in readers demanding that he be fired. He recently riled iPad fans by writing, “That's reading in the way that rubbing against women on the subway is sex.” Far from getting him fired, Carr's antics recently earned him a promotion: He's been tapped to run TechCrunch TV, the Web site's new broadcasting venture.
Carr has lived in San Francisco for a year now (he got his visa on March 1), but has yet to choose an apartment. Instead, he lives in hotels. “My parents are hotel managers, and because the pound was strong against the dollar, I realized I could stay in hotels in any city in the U.S. for less than my apartment in London,” he says. “It's like being a gypsy, but a five-star gypsy — if stuff breaks in your room, you just get another room.”
He's a huge fan of Hotel Vertigo on Sutter, which was the actual backdrop for Alfred Hitchcock's film of the same name. Aside from loving the film, Carr is inspired by the hotel's design and gaudy decor, which includes sculpted porcelain horseheads. It's “like a weird IKEA [and] Godfather movie — like a gay Godfather, there's nothing too gauche.”
Despite his unusual taste in living accommodations, Carr is easy to please when it comes to local landmarks. He's thrilled about the Golden Gate Bridge: “Every time I see it, I get happy.” He's also fond of the Tamale Lady (“who shows up in bars and sells you tamales, even though I can't imagine that's hygienic”) and, even though it is uncool, the Cheesecake Factory at the top of Macy's in Union Square (“I like to go there and pretend I'm a tourist”).
His all-time favorite thing about San Francisco? The weekly pub quiz at Elephant and Castle, a Financial District bar named after an area of South London, whose menu includes bangers and mash. The quiz, run by a Brit, reminds him of home: “I get a two-hour respite from calling people 'dude.' I call them 'chap,' or whatever British people say.”
Is there anything Carr doesn't like about his new American hometown? “The cab drivers. They don't know where the fuck they are. … That, and the fact that the bars close at 2 a.m.”