playing for keeps

the blog of g.a. matiasz

Check out my pages

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 22, 2014

Therebookpages-moby_dick are two pages in the navigation bar at the top of this website in addition to HOME and ABOUT. IRAQ FALLS APART IN MAPS AND CHARTS started when I did a recent post (Oh, for fuck’s sake) decrying the collapse of Iraq thanks to US military intervention, and the meddling of American neoconservatives. The idea for that page is to tell the story of Iraq’s disintegration through published maps, charts, graphs and other graphic devices, as well as the occasional video and other items. TOMATO DIARIES chronicles my efforts to grow tomatoes in containers in my back yard, using my own photos to record these efforts. Because a secondary WordPress page is not a real page, my entries on that page are not actually separate posts, so the page layout is somewhat jerry rigged and might not work with all browsers (in particular Mozilla).

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Gabba Gabba Hey!

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 19, 2014

Rest in peace Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny and Tommy.

Though I’m not sure heaven is the right place for the Ramones.
the-ramones

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Income inequality aka class warfare

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 19, 2014

Here are two takes on income inequality in this country, both of which are underscored by the reality of class warfare. First, John Oliver’s piece on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight“:

And then there is this cartoon “A Formula for Inequality, Told in Four Generations,” a “Tom the Dancing Bug” comic strip by Ruben Bolling:
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Ah, for the good old Class War Federation and their words to live by: “No war but the class war!”

Posted in capitalism, class war, economics, life, US economy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

We call it soccer, they call it life

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 24, 2014

I’ve never been a fan of any kind of organized sports, least of all those heavily invested with corporate money and promotion. Baseball and football in the USA are just excuses for alcohol abuse and bad behavior, decent competitive passions notwithstanding. The same can be said for soccer in the rest of the world, or as people outside America call it, futbol. John Oliver did a grueling, and brilliant, takedown of the umbrella organization running world soccer known as FIFA while at the same time reaffirming his love for the game on his TV program Last Week Tonight.

The ugliness and corruption rampant in FIFA tarnishes the game, and lessens the positive enjoyment of soccer which so many around the world take so much pleasure from watching. Gone also are the days of European soccer hooliganism which threatened to break the game for entirely different reasons. Now, its just a game as your high school gym coach liked to say. Entirely forgotten were the days when soccer was a matter of life and death. In 1941, when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, and by extension Ukraine, the occupying Germans made players from the Ukrainian teams Dynamo Kyiv and Lokomotyv Kyiv an offer they didn’t dare refuse. Much historical exegesis, controversy and revisionism has surrounded what has come to be called The Death Match of 1942. Here’s an ESPN video of FC Start, the Ukrainian futbol team that played against the German Flakelf team and won, as well as the price they and Ukraine ultimately paid.

Posted in life, sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Vic Chesnutt, Cowboy Junkies, and the cure for depression

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 23, 2014

Cowboy Junkies. Photo by Chris Lay

Cowboy Junkies. Photo by Chris Lay


Cowboy Junkies performed two sets on Saturday, June 21 at Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse. The second set was devoted to playing the entire Trinity Session album in full, with the first set featuring songs from CJ’s Nomad series of four albums. Two songs–”Wrong Piano” and “Square Room”–were Vic Chesnutt covers from their “Demons” album.

Vic Chesnutt at the Bowery Ballroom in New York in 1999. Photo by Rahav Segev

Vic Chesnutt at the Bowery Ballroom in New York in 1999. Photo by Rahav Segev


I went into a depression when I stopped drinking. One of the things that helped me combat my depression was listening to Vic Chesnutt. Terry Gross did an interview with Chesnutt on December 1, 2009 in which Vic talked about his various suicide attempts in his life and how he felt about his just released song “Flirted With You All My Life:” “This song is a joyous song, though. I mean, it’s a heavy song, but it is a joyous song. This is a breakup song with death, you know what I mean?” Here’s a version of that song recorded December 14, 2009:

Vic was left a partial quadriplegic after a drunken automobile accident at 18 in 1983. Vic was in frequent pain, struggling with alcohol abuse, and depressed for much of the rest of his life. Despite feeling better at the time of the above “Fresh Air” interview, Vic Chesnutt committed suicide on December 25, 2009 from a conscious overdose of muscle relaxant pills. He had racked up some $50,000 in debt due to medical bills by then. “And, I mean, I could die only because I cannot afford to go in there again.” Vic said to Terry Gross of his choices. “I don’t want to die, especially just because of I don’t have enough money to go in the hospital.”

Singer/song writer Vic Chesnutt

Singer/song writer Vic Chesnutt

At first blush, it seems counterintuitive to listen to dark, morose music in order to alleviate one’s depression. There’s a whole subculture, called Goth, centered around depressed adolescents listening to depressing music. The Cowboy Junkies have been described not just as alt country, but as “Gothic country,” and Vic Chesnutt’s musical style has been called “Southern Gothic.” However, in The Way of the Samurai, Yukio Mishima commented that: “Hagakure insists that to ponder death daily is to concentrate daily on life. When we do our work thinking that we may die today, we cannot help feeling that our job suddenly becomes radiant with life and meaning.”

Rest In Peace, Vic Chesnutt.

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San Francisco and hipsters

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 21, 2014

Here’s a humorous Lonely Planet inspired video of “tourists” finding out about hipster San Francisco:

And here are two “man-in-the-street” interviews of folks in San Francisco speculating about what exactly constitutes a hipster:

Finally, all you really need to know about hipsters in San Francisco:
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Posted in hippie, hippies, hipsters, life, Lonely Planet, Millions of Dead Hipsters!, San Francisco, The Mission | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Amazing STEPS to ART

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 17, 2014

There are times when following a fellow blogger is so worth it. As in the case of fernOnline blog speaks, and in particular, this marvelous post Amazing STEPS to ART. Here it is, copied as best I can, without the fancy fonts and stuff. But please, check out fernOnline, a truly extraordinary blog.

Posted on June 7, 2014
Amazing STEPS to ART
©ourtesy of totallytasmia | mentalalchemy | marquitaharris

amazing-steps

….view lots more, CLICK below
totallytasmia Source:
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Check out my Tomato Diaries

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 16, 2014

Check out my Tomato Diaries, here.
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(Page best viewed in Safari, Explorer, Chrome, or Opera. Mozilla doesn’t seem to work.)

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A techie walks into a bar…

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 15, 2014

…And the whole thing is a joke!

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On February 22, 2014, tech worker Sarah Slocum walked into Molotov’s, a punk dive bar in the Lower Haight, wearing a pair of Google Glasses. Trouble immediately followed as bar patrons didn’t take kindly to possibly being recorded by someone wearing Google Glasses. Verbal abuse was exchanged and supposedly an assault on Slocum followed. Accounts differ as to the exact details, with this version in the SF Bay Guardian and this other one in the SF Chronicle. According to the SF Chronicle article: “When a woman at the bar told Slocum, ‘You’re killing the city,’ a reference to a larger backlash against tech workers in San Francisco, Slocum announced that she wanted to ‘get this white trash on tape.’ A man then ripped the device from her face.” Rather than quote hearsay, let’s just review the available YouTube video, conveniently recorded by Slocum herself. (Here’s Inside Edition reporting on the same incident.)

This incident was the basis for a delightfully hilarious takedown of Google Glass “Explorers” by Jason Jones of The Daily Show entitled “Glass Half Empty (6-12-14).” Take note that Slocum calls the incident at Molotov’s a “hate crime.”

Forgetting JamesOKeefe_mugshot_OnlyCriminalfor the moment that Sarah Slocum has a troubled history, this Daily Show segment reveals the narcissism, vulgar voyeurism, sense of entitlement, and inability to grasp reality that seems to ooze from the very pores of these techies. Combine this with a penchant for cutting, pasting and deceptive editing of what is digitally recorded in order to manipulate the truth to produce propaganda and you get a questionable character like rightwing “sting” con artist James O’Keefe. Frequently painted as a narcissistic, self-absorbed, quasi-paranoid fringe nut job, is it any wonder that O’Keefe is subject to charges of racism and “death threats” that he describes as “hate crimes?” From Mike Spies’ “hit piece” on O’Keefe: “In his [O'Keefe's] world, everyone outside of his orbit is a potential threat. It’s a difficult place to live. He’s fighting the masses in a quixotic battle, chiding them for not recognizing his great virtue while begging them to recognize his great talent. There’s no place for fun, and human connections are distorted. By the time the video ends, it’s hard not feel sorry for the guy.”

Boo fucking hoo for intentional assholes like O’Keefe and frivolous idiots like Slocum.

(Here’s a more sympathetic take on “Glassholes” from Gary Shteyngart, “O.K., Glass,” in The New Yorker.)

Posted in life, San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle, tech, tech industry, techies, The Haight | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Walking in the nabe

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 14, 2014

After breakfast and the morning paper, it was time for a walk down to one of our local neighborhoods. Noe Valley had the Summer Fest in action, with a bouncy castle and a petting zoo for the kids.
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The Real Foods Daily storefront, owned now by Nutraceutical but kept abandoned despite every effort by San Franciscans and Noe Valleyans to put something of use and value to the community in its place, hosts regular performances by area musicians. These folks have played here often on the weekends. (Here’s a link in the Noe Valley Voice providing background to the abandoned storefront.) My suggestion is to make this patch of sidewalk a regular venue for local musicians on the weekends.
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Then it was back home via the bus. Not quite as snazzy a form of transportation as this, but it did the job.
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Posted in life, neighborhoods, Noe Valley, Noe Valley Voice, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Give me liberty!

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 14, 2014

And give me hot dogs!

Renie Riemann closes her trunk as she packs up Top Dog where she has worked for more than 24 years in Oakland, Calif. on Friday, June 13, 2014. The CVS, which was previously a Payless, was a place where you could buy a hot dog, repair your shoes and buy household items in one stop. Photo: James Tensuan, The Chronicle

Renie Riemann closes her trunk as she packs up Top Dog where she has worked for more than 24 years in Oakland, Calif. on Friday, June 13, 2014. The CVS, which was previously a Payless, was a place where you could buy a hot dog, repair your shoes and buy household items in one stop.
Photo: James Tensuan, The Chronicle

My wife pointed out this article in the daily SF Chronicle about the closing of the CVS drug store in the Safeway shopping center at 51st Street/Pleasant Valley and Broadway in Oakland. When I was living in Oakland, the location was a Longs Drugs, and it went through several transformations before ending up a CVS. But at every stage this pharmacy/variety store was always a commercial hub for this part of Oakland, with a mom-and-pop feel to its ownership and a super friendly staff to help customers find what they were looking for.

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One aspect to the CVS that was enjoyable for me was the Top Dog hot dog stand inside the entryway to the store. Top Dog is a locally owned mini-chain of four hot dog stands in Berkeley and Oakland. Three, now that this Top Dog location has closed. Established in 1966, and open daily, Top Dog tried to make incursions into San Francisco over the past several years, only to have various retail attempts in the City ultimately fail. The menu continues to offer a delicious variety of sausages grilled to order and served up with a variety of side dishes and condiments.

reflectdogOne notable feature of Top Dog is the extreme libertarian propaganda freely displayed around each Top Dog stand. When the flagship eatery was established just off Telegraph Avenue a few blocks from UC Berkeley, it was the heyday of Berkeley radicalism, so I’m sure that the shop and its philosophy were often a center for lively political discussion and debate. After all, the RCP’s Revolution Books was just down the street. grillI’ve made my utter disdain for libertarianism known on my other blog. But the bockwurst, well, that was something to be taken seriously. I suppose the famous quote (attributed either to Otto von Bismarck or John Godfrey Saxe) that “[l]aws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made” can be taken a number of ways. Personally, I don’t have a lot of regard for most laws. The sausages grilled up by Top Dog, however, are both top quality and worthy of my respect. Below is an image of the mural that hangs in the flagship Top Dog stand in Berkeley. Apparently, it includes a depiction of the owner’s daughter as she appeared when the first mural was painted in 1987.

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Posted in Berkeley, libertarians, life, Oakland, Oaktown, San Francisco Chronicle | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Oh, for fuck’s sake

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 13, 2014

For the moment, ignore that we went to war in Iraq in 2003 on the excuse that Saddam Hussein had WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) fully expecting that US troops would be greeted as liberators, to be showered with flowers and candy. For the moment, forget that the Iraq we had invaded almost disintegrated into a Sunni/Shi’ite civil war, with the northern Kurds standing on the sidelines, until the US military surge in 2007 temporarily shored up the situation on the ground, leaving all the old ethnic/religious tensions firmly in place. For the moment, pretend that neo-conservative predictions that the US/Iraq war would produce liberty and democracy not just in that country but throughout the region weren’t entirely idiotic.

Let’s consider just one set of factors of this fucked-up mess that the US left when America officially ended military operations in Iraq in 2011 and withdrew US troops.

Here are several maps charting the ethnic/religious divisions in Iraq:
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When the US declared “mission accomplished” for a second time in 2011, the majority Shi’ite government held power in Baghdad with the minority Sunni population bridling under this arrangement, and the Kurds enjoying relative autonomy in the north. Enter ISIS, the radical Sunni movement for an Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. This al-Qaeda affiliate is more popular, more determined, more uncompromising and more violent than al-Qaeda itself, intent upon establishing a sharia-governed Islamic Caliphate from Lebanon through Iraq. Here are maps charting the activity of ISIS through 2014:
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Here are maps indicating the general territory currently controlled by the ISIS as of June 2014:
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And here is a map representing the Islamic Caliphate that is the ultimate goal of ISIS:
ISIS-Wilayats-thumb-560x408-2998ISIS Caliphate

Let me restate matters. In 2011, when the US declared victory in Iraq, ceased military operations and withdrew its troops, the nation of Iraq was nominally a democracy under Shi’ite control and heavily influenced by Iran, with al-Qaeda decimated, on the run, and its leader Osama bin-Ladin dead. Now, in 2014, ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, is fully resurgent and militarily on the move while Iraq totters on the brink of complete collapse. Hell, the whole region remains profoundly unstable, teetering on the brink of total social chaos and bloody violence. Forget Left or Right. Anybody up for some serious war crimes trials?
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Here’s the BBC’s ongoing coverage of the STRUGGLE FOR IRAQ.

[A WORD ON THE MAPS: Treat each series of multiple maps as a slide show, and try to build up a multi-layered, close to 3D image of the situation they separately are two-dimensionally attempting to portray. Merge the information the maps have in common, and accumulate the unique information each map provides.]

Posted in American Empire, American intervention, Baghdad, Democrats & Republicans, Federal Government, Iraq, Iraq War, Islamic extremists, Islamic militants, Islamic terrorism, life, maps, military intervention, neocon, neoconservative, neoliberalism, politics, US military | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The land that the 60s forgot

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 12, 2014

My wife and I have been taking day trips to enjoy the Bay Area we live in, starting with a brief jaunt through western Marin County on March 16. Playing tourist was enhanced by the definite 60s vibe of the tiny towns we visited.

POINT REYES STATION

We ate lunch at Osteria Stellina, a modest Italian restaurant with decent although not outstanding food. Then we walked about the town, and I took the following photos.

Flower Power Home and Garden
This was from the garden patio in back.
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Totemic Art
These totems of abalone shells topped with various bird decoys caught our eye.
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Nearby Shrine
This looked like a shrine to the Virgin Mary involving ships. Perhaps a Catholic shrine to sailors?
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OLEMA

Sight of a famous 60s commune comprised of Diggers fleeing San Francisco, or more properly going back to the land, we didn’t stop very long here, except to snap this photo of a cabin decaying into the underbrush. Note the abalone shells.
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FAIRFAX

The hippie influence seemed strongest here, with the business loop to Sir Francis Drake Boulevard lined with lots of little shops, stores and eateries. Overall fun, although by the time we got here it was overwhelmingly hot and we had decided to head on back to the big city (San Francisco). Here are photos of a:

Sidewalk Mosaic Bench/Wall
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I’ve been remiss here. During these day trips, I’ve been preoccupied with taking photos of my surroundings (mostly the sights) without paying attention to the people. I will rectify that with the next day trip, the one after the one we took to Santa Cruz in April.

Posted in California, life, Marin, San Francisco Bay Area, The Diggers | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Resisting loss

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 11, 2014

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Archie McPhee is a well known novelty/toy/curio company now located in Seattle, Washington. When I first became acquainted with AMcP, in the mid-1980s, they were more the traditional whoopie cushion/dribble glass/rubber chicken/x-ray specs kind of outlet, with a strong penchant for the idiosyncratic and exotic. They’ve continued to stock up with zany, wacky products from pugilistic nuns and bacon bandaids to Bigfoot action figures and two groom/bride cake toppers. But the passing years have taken a toll on what AMcP is allowed to sell.
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During the 90s, I’d purchase their super awesome surprise boxes/bags chock full of goofy toys and trinkets, whereupon I would sort through my treasure, divide the loot into smaller piles for reshipment to friends in NYC, and further cull favorite items for my personal use. AMcP at one time offered a line of anatomically correct miniature skeletal parts–hip bone, clavicle, femur, or what have you–all made of hard white plastic in exquisite detail with a metal ring inset to make the toys into keychains. One of those items in question was a replica human skull, pictured below.

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As I was heavy into punk rock at the time, I collected the skulls from the treasure boxes/bags and slowly doled them out as favors to special friends. But then, AMcP stopped stocking the anatomically correct tiny plastic toys, and I couldn’t order them from their catalog anymore. When I called to ask about getting more, the AMcP rep informed me that they had been discontinued because the toys were hard, plastic, and little enough to be potential swallowing hazards for small kids. Such were the consequences of protecting the children from the harm of these trinkets. I kept one skull as a personal keychain (note the grit and grime from decades of handling) and reserved one in case I lost the original. Now I worry about losing my one-of-a-kind AMcP skull keychain, having already lost my source for replacement plastic keychain skulls. Everything changes, and eventually we lose everything, including our lives. But I still resist these inevitable losses.

That's one teensy step for a thumbnail-sized panda bear.

That’s one teensy step for a thumbnail-sized panda bear.


A NYC friend, Pickles of the North, talks about “The Rapture of the Tiny” on her website. I certainly enjoy the extraordinary detail to these no-longer-available plastic keychain skulls. But my anxiety over losing these ultimately inconsequential objects in my life is not yet capable of overcoming any rapture of the tiny inspired by them.

Posted in life, punk, punk rock | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A guide to hat wear, part one

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 8, 2014

“A trilby, a hat that somehow combines the douchiest parts of both a fedora and a porkpie.”

So proclaims Jon Stewart on his 6-5-14 Daily Show. Okay, for those of you who are confused, here’s a classic fedora, associated with the movie portrayals of hardboiled detectives Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe:
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Here’s a pork pie, with the association to 1940s bebop jazz musicians:
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And here’s a British trilby:
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A tad goofy, no? The above hat, popularized by Frank Sinatra and often done in garish colors or patterns, is indeed a sad hybrid of the worst of the fedora and the porkpie. It was often considered a “rich man’s hat,” worn to the races. Trilbies are worn by hipsters, and people with more sense should NOT wear them.

I was able to purchase a finer, much more styling hat that combines the better aspects of fedora and porkpie while my wife and I vacationed in Paris last year. Céline Robert created this fashionable chapeaux. The French word feutre refers to a felt hat that translates to trilby in British English, and fedora in American English respectively.
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In the long run, how one wears the hat is more important than the minor differences between the hats one wears; fedora, pork pie, or trilby. However, I do have to draw the line at mountain hats…
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Posted in Céline Robert, life, Paris | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Stop the WOSP! (June 11)

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 8, 2014

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In the 1960s, efforts to gentrify certain parts of San Francisco were called “urban renewal.” Critics renamed this “negro removal” as city policy and planning systematically bleached out neighborhoods like the Western Addition and the Fillmore, decimating the already beleaguered black community of the day. This all but destroyed the once vibrant jazz and blues nightlife that these areas were known for.

Something similar is being proposed for the impoverished, largely black neighborhoods of West Oakland under the West Oakland Specific Plan (or WOSP). This proposed plan to gentrify West Oakland also means displacing its residents in what might be called “negro removal 2.0.” Here is some info for folks who wish to encourage Community Opposition to WOSP.
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How is this even possible

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 7, 2014

San Francisco, Paris, New York; three cities I can never get enough of. That’s why I’ve periodically visited them (or lived in them) over the past thirty years, always marveling at the sights and sounds of these world-class, world famous cities. Photographer Duane Michals has an exhibit currently making the rounds (at DC Moore Gallery through May 31, 2014) titled “Empty New York.” It features black and white pictures of subway cars, barber shops, bodegas, laundromats, even Coney Island, without a single person present, something quite unimaginable to New York City residents. Shooting photographs since the late 1950′s, Michals is inspired by Eugene Atget, who did his own series of photos using the streets of Paris as subject. Here’s the museum page, and below, some of the pictures. Haunting, and gorgeous.
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Empty New York, c. 1964

FROM THE MUSEUM PRESS RELEASE:
Comprised of thirty rare gelatin silver prints dating from the 1960s, the exhibition focuses exclusively on Michals’ early exploration of transitional early morning moments in New York City shops, parks, subway cars, and train stations. This is the first time these photographs have been exhibited as a group.

The images in this exhibition, taken over a half a century ago, include New York landmarks such as Penn Station, the Metropolitan Opera House, and Washington Square Hotel as well as ordinary locales, such as a laundromat, a shoeshine station, or an empty booth in a neighborhood diner. The series reflects Duane Michals’ admiration for the work of French photographer Eugene Atget who memorably photographed the streets of Paris. As Michals has said,

“It was a fortuitous event for me [to discover the work of Eugene Atget in a book]. I became so enchanted by the intimacy of the rooms and streets and people he photographed that I found myself looking at twentieth –century New York in the early morning through his nineteenth-century eyes. Everywhere seemed a stage set. I would awaken early on Sunday mornings and wander through New York with my camera, peering into shop windows and down cul-de-sacs with a bemused Atget looking over my shoulder.”

Of this intellectual revelation and point of departure, Michals recollects that how for him suddenly, “Everything was theatre; even the most ordinary event was an act in the drama of my little life.” The universality of narrative, space, and their limitless capacities would set the stage for Michals proliferous and imaginative career.

Since 1958 Duane Michals has been making photographs which investigate themes of memory, mortality, love, and loss. Constantly interpreting and re-interpreting the world around him, Michals never stagnates and always finds new ways to understand the human experience through his idiosyncratic combination of philosophy, humor, history, and stark emotion.

Michal’s first solo museum exhibition was at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1970, and he will be honored with a career retrospective opening October, 2014 at The Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. Duane Michals lives and works in New York City.

Posted in life, New York, New York City, photography, photography opening | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Speaking of denial…

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 6, 2014

…What goes around rightwing and comes around leftwing. We’re all familiar with rightwing climate/science denial, depicted humorously by Ruben Bolling in this Tom the Dancing Bug cartoon:
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Here’s some leftwing anti-vaccination/science denial, as explored by comedian Samantha Bee in the segment “An Outbreak of Liberal Idiocy” on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show:

At the end of this video clip, the suggestion is made that those on the Left who deny science by refusing to get their children vaccinated against mumps, measles, whooping cough, polio, etc., are mainly the ones who will suffer as their children get horribly sick, become permanently crippled, and perhaps die in a worst case scenario. Their idiocy will be visited upon their children, and while that may be unfortunate, the rest of us can smugly let these dumbfucks suffer. Not so with those on the Right who deny science by denying the human causes of climate change, thereby blocking action to reverse global warming and thus threatening the survival of the entire human race.

Big difference in the consequences of rightwing vs leftwing science denial.

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The end of an era

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 4, 2014

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The Defenestration Building is no more. According to the website, this “[s]ite-specific installation on the corner of 6th and Howard St. in San Francisco” is a multi-disciplinary sculptural mural created in 1997 that “involves seemingly animated furniture; tables, chairs, lamps, grandfather clocks, a refrigerator, and couches, their bodies bent like centipedes, fastened to the walls and window-sills, their insect-like legs seeming to grasp the surfaces. Against society’s expectations, these everyday objects flood out of windows like escapees, out onto available ledges, up and down the walls, onto the fire escapes and off the roof. ‘DEFENESTRATION’ was created by Brian Goggin with the help of over 100 volunteers.”
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When I used to work in the East Bay I would drive home via the Bay Bridge, exit on Fifth Street and, traffic permitting, I would make the jog up to Howard just to pass by the Defenestration Building on my way home. This wacky landmark was a wonderful gateway icon to view upon entering the City.
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Here’s more from the Defenestration website: “The concept of ‘DEFENESTRATION’, a word literally meaning ‘to throw out of a window,’ is embodied by both the site and staging of this installation. Located at the corner of Sixth and Howard Streets in San Francisco in an abandoned four-story tenement building, the site is part of a neighborhood that historically has faced economic challenges and has often endured the stigma of skid row status. Reflecting the harsh experience of many members of the community, the furniture is of the streets, cast-off and unappreciated. The simple, unpretentious beauty and humanity of these downtrodden objects is reawakened through the action of the piece. The act of ‘throwing out’ becomes an uplifting gesture of release, inviting reflection on the spirit of the people we live with, the objects we encounter, and the places in which we live. The ground level has served as a rotating gallery for the vibrant artwork of street muralists.”
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After unsuccessful attempts were made to restore the building to its artistic glory, the Defenestration Building sat, unused and awaiting demolition, for over a decade. Well, yesterday, its deconstruction as it were was begun. Here’s the SF Chronicle article about the demolition. Included is a slideshow of some 17 photos by James Tensuan. And here’s a video featuring Brian Goggin, the artist behind the art.
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This one post cannot substitute for an entire website like Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, a beautiful, intelligent, and highly awarded site mentioned by me in this post. The city of San Francisco is vanishing before my eyes, our eyes, and it is all so very sad.

Posted in life, San Francisco, South of Market | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Maybe it’s…

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 3, 2014

This is a brilliant video by Cheryl Wheeler, called “If It Were Up To Me.” To go along with the video, here’s a reprint from CounterPunch called “Left Gun Nuts.” As is sometimes the case, what goes around as rightwing comes around as leftwing…

MAY 29, 2014
Opposition to Gun Control Comes from Many on the Left Also. Here’s Why They’re Wrong
LEFT GUN NUTS
by ANDREW CULP and DARWIN BOND-GRAHAM

In the aftermath of the Isla Vista massacre, we can expect the far Right to vehemently oppose any renewed call for gun control. They will tout the supposedly Constitutional right of Americans to keep and bear arms. The Right will summon up the specter of a tyrannical government waiting to oppress us but for our wood stocks and blued steel. We will be told yet again that gun control leaves citizens to the mercy of criminals who simply ignore the law. And we’ll hear about how guns are as American as apple pie, John Wayne, and sports. The gun lobby, its main financial backers being the firearms manufacturing industry, and its most vociferous lobbyists, the 5 million members of the NRA (only about two percent of the U.S. population), are going to mobilize in the media, the halls of Congress, and California’s state capital Sacramento to kill any bill that might restrict the ability of people like Elliot Rodger from getting their hands on a gun.

But there is another quarter from which we are already hearing rote objections to gun control: the Left. All sorts of Lefties—anarchists, socialists, Black and Latino nationalists, and even quite a few Democratic Party-voting liberals—cling to guns just as tightly as the far Right. They use surprisingly similar language to justify their objections to gun control proposals. They either sit on the sidelines after each new massacre and wring their hands about the daily slaughter, or worse still, they actively oppose gun control. Here are a few reasons why some on the Left oppose gun control and reasons why they are wrong.

The people need to defend themselves against the government.

The more radical variant of this argument is that “the people” need guns to wage an eventual revolution and liberate themselves from the shackles of the state and corporate America.

Gun control need not dampen the spirit of those still hoping for a revolution, even if such a revolution is highly unlikely to happen in our lifetimes. What stands in the way of such leftist dreams are the vast majority of current gun owners. Over-represented among current gun owners are white reactionary men, the types who regularly expresses their desire to shoot on sight the “Muslim socialist” president of the United States, and who “muster” along the U.S.-Mexico boarder with their weaponry to defend the nation against “alien” immigrants. As it stands, toxic gun culture would coopt any new American revolution with a lethal cocktail of supercharged masculinity, racism, and provincialism fantasized about in post-apocalyptic scenes. If the United States ever comes to another civil war, the first thing to die under a barrage of lead will be our hope for a more just and democratic society; guns would empower warlords with petty political agendas, not egalitarian-minded freedom fighters.

The most likely cultural shift away from reactionary gun ownership will not happen in cooperation with the Right and their politics, but against it. Gun control is the best place to start. Disarming the Right will do more to advance goals toward a revolutionary democratic transformation of America than trying to beat the Right-wingers (and the U.S. government!) in an arms race.

Of course Left insurrectionists who advocate the right to bear arms are more focused on the U.S. Government as the singular impediment to their variant of utopia. This dream is sadly a classic example of radical posturing done in the name of some distant hypothetical moment, and it ignores the actual harm that guns cause each and every day. In the real world, guns kill upwards of 30,000 Americans every year, virtually all of these deaths serving absolutely no political purpose in the fight for a more democratic society. Most of these deaths are just tragic accidents or suicides, many of which would not end in death if guns were not in the mix. Left fantasies about armed struggle are the same half-baked ideas as those held by the secessionist Right. What varies for Leftists is the template of decolonial struggles; yet a leftist revolution in the United States would not kick out a small minority of foreign occupiers, as happened in India and Vietnam, but would be a fight amongst settler colonialists for political authority. This is why the worn “Zapatistas defense” touted by the radical left is a bad analogy for the United States context – the Zapatistas started a peasant rebellion that kicked outsiders off their landbase, a task for which wooden cutouts of guns turned out to be more effective than the real thing.

The cops should be disarmed, not the people.

Yes, the police should be disarmed. Police violence is intolerable and oppressive, particularly for communities of color. But here, quite a few Leftists extend their critique against police brutality to claim that “the people” can defend themselves against the police with guns. The Black Panthers’ armed patrols shadowing police in the 1960s is the most common example trotted out to demonstrate how armed communities defended themselves against unaccountable cops. Groups like the Deacons for Defense, or revolutionaries like Malcolm X and Robert Williams are also also mentioned as proof that guns help the democratic Left fight the power, and that without guns we will be increasingly victimized by the police.

But guns hardly keep away the police or help communities fight back against the cops. In fact, the proliferation of guns in America has provided an excuse for police to further intrude in our lives. The police use the ubiquity of guns in America to justify their brutality, seen especially clearly in the extrajudicial killings they commit. It is difficult to see how arming communities translates into a reduced police presence. Furthermore, carrying a weapon certainly would not have assisted victims of recent lethal police violence, and would have instead have worked in the favor of officers under official review.

American police militarizing themselves with tanks, drones, SWAT teams, and mass surveillance systems say that they have to do so because the American public has access to super deadly types of guns and ammunition. Aggressive new police policies treat nearly everyone as a gun owner (armed or not), leading to the pervasive use of SWAT raids, ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ no-knock warrant searches, invasive automobile searches, stop and frisk, excessive use of force, and the implementation of ever-more powerful surveillance systems. In sum, an armed citizenry only encourages the police to arm themselves more heavily.

It is true that radicals, especially African American revolutionaries, have used guns to symbolically protest power in America and call out the hypocrisy of white supremacy and lax gun laws that selectively apply to dominant social groups. Yet the power of armed protest is only enhanced by laws that restrict ownership of assault rifles, special ammunition, and even handguns, and should not be confused for revolutionary violence, of which there are scant encouraging examples of in recent United States history.

Finally, it is necessary to note that America’s most oppressed communities are already flooded with guns, especially pistols and assault weapons designed for close quarter combat. The ready availability of these weapons has in no way empowered these communities to fight back against the cops, at least not in any obvious way. The prevalence of firearms has instead magnified America’s radicalized inequality, poverty, and structural violence to produce an epidemic level of shootings among youth of color in places like Chicago, Oakland, Detroit, and Newark. Guns hurt working-class communities of color. The gun industry, weakly regulated as it is, has long prospered off the illegal market for firearms in inner cities.

Should we also ban knives and cars and bombs and bleach and acid?

Some pro-gun Lefties sideline the obvious merits of gun control and argue that supposedly “deeper” systemic issues should be our true focus.

With the Isla Vista massacre, we are already hearing that guns are not inherently linked to violent modes of masculinity, and that guns are only dangerous in the hands of someone as misogynist or “crazy” as Elliot Rodger. Pro-gun Lefties say Rodger would have killed and maimed anyway—indeed he did kill at least three people with a knife and wounded others by plowing into them with his car. We are asked then, sardonically, should the Left also ban knives and cars?

First off, no, of course we should not ban knives and cars. Knives and cars are really useful, and are unlike assault weapons and pistols, whose sole purpose is to kill other human beings. But regulating knives and cars is not a bad idea – that is why both are highly regulated. Just about everything is regulated, and usually to our benefit. Breakfast cereals, infant formula, dog and cat food, cleaning supplies, household appliances, furniture, cell phones, house paint, lipstick, toothpaste, and thousands of other consumer products are regulated and controlled because safety is a low priority for manufacturers, and experience shows that government intervention and oversight over capitalist enterprise saves lives. Experience also shows that regulation works, at least until regulatory agencies are captured by the industries they are supposed to watch over.

Successful examples of regulation abound though: we tackled the tobacco companies and saved millions of lives by purposefully reducing their ability to market and sell cigarettes. We regulate drugs, cosmetics, and foods, which prevents countless deaths. Far from representing “state power” over our lives, federal regulations often represent democratic rejection of the capitalist profit motive for the public good. Regulations of consumer products, especially health and safety and environmental regulations were born out of social movements fighting back against exploitation.

Cars are a great example of how regulation reduces harm while creating a more equal society. Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, catalytic converters, unleaded gasoline, seat belts, airbags, and other “car control” measures benefit public health and the environment. The automobile industry is highly regulated, thank goodness. The gun industry, in contrast, has some of the weakest regulations in America, and not by accident. The corporations that manufacture most of the guns and the gun dealers who profit from the American arms trade have successfully fought against meaningful regulation. We should regulate guns at least as much as we regulate cars.

As for the crux the matter: guns are an embodiment of patriarchal values. Perhaps antique gun collectors treat them as relics and farmers use them as tools. The majority of guns are however owned to aggressively threaten, control, and hurt people; and more often than not, women bear the brunt of that aggression. This is a country where men still exert power over women in virtually every context, causing street harassment, acquaintance rape, family and partner abuse, employment discrimination, and assaults on women’s health. The NRA says that all women would be safer if they carried a pistol in their purse, but we know that guns cannot be the solution to the very problem that they create: a climate of fear, anxiety, and violence essential to society’s devaluation of women.

Looking at the realities behind the fictions of vigilante justice shared by the Left and Right, guns are the common denominator. Over two thirds of all homicides in the United States in 2010 were caused by a firearm; and of them, only about five percent were ruled to be justified. Stepping back from the Isla Vista massacre and looking more broadly at gun violence we might note that many victims of firearm homicides are poor and marginalized urban and rural Americans. African American men are particularly susceptible to dying by gun. So what is the deeper problem here? Inequality? Structural racism and poverty?

Of course gun control will not eliminate America’s patriarchal power structure, or pacify the culture of violence, or undo racism. But gun control can do one thing very effectively: reduce the lethality of violent acts that stem from patriarchy, racism, and inequality. Instead of dying in a hail of bullets, victims will be survivors and can more effectively fight back. Indeed, in our present political context, gun control is fighting back against patriarchy and other forms of oppression.

The government should not have a legitimate monopoly on the use of force.

Some Lefties oppose gun control on the grounds that the state’s violence is illegitimate, and they argue that it is a question of power – that “the people” should never cede power to the state.

Of course government violence is never legitimate, even if it is popular and sanctioned by many of its citizens. Wars, executions, and structural violence such as starving children or denying million basic healthcare are but a sliver of the illegitimate violence for which the American government is responsible. But is opposing gun control an effective way to challenge the violence of the American state? Does anyone honestly think that the abstract notion of gun rights is what keeps alive dreams of an armed struggle toward democratic emancipation, or imparts those who own guns with some mystical quality of “autonomy” or “power”? In what world does gun ownership delegitimize or even reduce the state’s use of violence? And how would such a place be less authoritarian and violent? The relationship between guns and American government at the present moment is clear: our lax gun laws buttress state violence.

The political economy of guns shows how weapons manufacturing is an important part of American corporate and political power. This is because the military industrial complex serves as an engine for the national economy. The firearms industry employs few workers, but it is part of a larger arms manufacturing sector responsible for over 1 million jobs. As “defense” manufacturers, the gun industry’s political interests lie in arming the police at home and fighting imperialist wars abroad. The same gun companies that benefit from the American government’s hunger for small arms and ammo, which it sprays both here and in foreign lands, benefit doubly from the lack of laws restricting gun ownership. On the other side of the equation, the American military has reciprocally benefitted from popular gun ownership. The NRA, after all, was considered a boon to the U.S. military in its early history, as it provided the Army with enlistees already familiar with firearms. Just prior to World War I, the NRA even partnered with the federal government to give guns to the population and to sponsor shooting contests.

On a structural level, the federal budget is often decided through “guns versus butter” tradeoffs whereby every dollar of military spending is taken from the mouths of the needy. The Reagan administration, for instance, slashed child food programs, Medicaid, family welfare, food stamps, and low-income energy assistance to feed the military industrial complex. Confronting the gun industry on the national stage could be part of a larger strategy of opposing the war industry as a whole, which produces nothing of consumable value and whose political interests directly oppose the Left. Only then can the Left shift the terrain of struggle away from apocalyptic fantasies of armed insurrection to areas where it has historically drawn strength, such as cultural politics.

Andrew Culp is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Rhetoric Studies at Whitman College. He specializes in cultural-communicative theories of power, the politics of emerging media, and gendered responses to urbanization. In his current project, Escape, he explores the apathy, distraction, and cultural exhaustion born from the 24/7 demands of an ‘always-on’ media-driven society. http://www.andrewculp.org

Darwin Bond-Graham is a sociologist and investigative journalist. He is a contributing editor to Counterpunch. His writing appears in the East Bay Express, Village Voice, LA Weekly and other newspapers. He blogs about the political economy of California at http://darwinbondgraham.wordpress.com/.

Posted in gun control debate, gun violence, life, society | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Backyard office

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 31, 2014

So, the story goes, Percy Spencer was mucking about in a laboratory at Raytheon when he accidentally spilled a cup full of dried corn kernels he intended to heat up into popcorn on the stove. All of a sudden, the kernels all over the lab floor started to inexplicably pop into popcorn. Spencer had discovered commercially usable microwaves, which led to the invention of the microwave oven. But this wasn’t so much an “aha moment” as it was a “yikes! moment.”
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Pictured above is my outdoor backyard office setup. Here’s my 13-inch, Mid 2011 MacBook Air encased in its Kensington locking case. The laptop is plugged into an outdoor socket behind the bench. And on the arm of the bench next to it is my “belly blanket,” a blanket intended to be placed on the computer user’s lap beneath the user’s laptop in order shield the user’s body from harmful microwave radiation. Part of the Body Armor line of products that help reduce or eliminate microwave radiation from nearby sources, I’m pictured below with belly blanket and laptop in action.
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Clearly, we are all being zapped by microwaves and other types of electromagnetic radiation everywhere all the time. Radiation from nearby sources (cell phones, laptops, utility smart meters, etc) are the most problematic, but the microwave radiation that we call “wifi” is also an issue. An increasing number of people claim that they are suffering adverse health effects from exposure to wifi signals, and there is increasing research into the carcinogenic dangers involved in all microwave radiation. That said, this outdoor office setup of mine would not be possible without an extremely powerful Belkin 6000 Router. I can access the internet 300 feet from the router, through walls and floors, as I surf and type away in my backyard, enjoying a mild spring day.
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These little guys kept me company as I worked. They’re hardly worried about exposure to electromagnetic radiation. I, in contrast, do worry about the potential for cancer and other health issues from the use of my cell phone, laptop and other electronic devices. We all die, sooner or later. Not only would I prefer it to be later, but I’d also like it to be quietly, painlessly, in my sleep. The thought of cooking my insides with the wifi microwaves from my cell phone or laptop, and dying a slow, painful, lingering death from radiation induced cancer is not at all pleasant.

Posted in blog, blogger, blogging, life, tech, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Fun in the sun

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 23, 2014

Back when I was a kid going to the ocean, learning to surf, swimming, and hanging out at the beach, there were very few rules to follow. The beach in question was in Ventura, California, and at most we had to obey any and all lifeguards on duty. Well, a couple of weeks ago, my wife and I took a day trip to Santa Cruz, just to act like tourists. I’d spent two years attending UCSC, and then two years living in the community waiting for my girlfriend at the time to graduate so that I could accompany her to the graduate school we’d both been accepted to in the mid-1970s. Needless to say, the sleepy little seaside town of Santa Cruz has sure changed in the intervening years. What has also changed, probably even more so, is the experience of going to the beach. Check out this photo of a typical sign on the beach at Santa Cruz, right off the Boardwalk, telling folks what they can and most especially what they can’t do.
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I’m no anti-big government conservative chomping at the bit protesting the burden of rules and regulations over our lives. But this sign sure puts a damper on any summer full of fun in the sun. Oh, and by the way, HAVE A NICE DAY!

Posted in life, Santa Cruz | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Cloud Control to Major Dumb

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 23, 2014

This is an outstanding cartoon by Jen Sorensen, a political cartoonist based in Austin. Her cartoons are seen in The Progressive, The Nation, Ms., Daily Kos, AlterNet, Politico, NPR, etc. (@JenSorensen)
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Cartoons and graphics like this are available at The Nib.

Posted in capitalism, capitalist monopolies, corporations, economics, life, tech industry | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Henri

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 22, 2014

Henri, the existential black cat, actually is the ultimate cat anti-meme.
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Posted in cat, cats, life | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Under construction…

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 22, 2014

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I’m spending way too much time customizing this website. Part of the problem is that this site’s theme, Andreas09, is no longer supported by WordPress, so some of the changes I’ve made can’t be reversed. Such is life! Now, all I need is a humorous cat meme.

UPDATE:
I finally designed a crisp background header for this whole enterprise by lifting one from this website. I’m not exactly sure who to credit as I can’t discern an owner on SmugMug. One of the things I lost in customizing (read: fucking with) the original Andreas09 template was giving hyperlinks either a different color or an underline. Now they’re just bolder. I guess I could buy CSS for a year and do some tweaks, but then again, see the top of this post.

Posted in blog, blogging, cat, life | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Parrots coming home to roost

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 20, 2014

The parrots of San Francisco have gained world fame. I covered them in an earlier blog posting here. The picture posted there was garnered from the internet whereas the ones posted here I took with my Canon PowerShot.
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Colonies of “wild” parrots have come into being in cities wherever tame birds were released by accident or design by their former owners and given the chance to breed. LA and Brooklyn also have “wild” parrots, and I use the term “wild” advisedly because they cannot yet exist outside their respective urban environments. Parrots are native to tropical countries and climates where they fly far and wide. Here, in the US and more temperate climes, they seem confined to their particular cities where they are much more reliant on their dense human populations for their survival.
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A friend in NYC once told me a story about the Brooklyn parrots. As tropical animals, the Brooklyn parrots were not at all accustomed to NYC winters, and had developed a type of colony nest with scores of parrots taking roost in structures of twigs, leaves, branches, urban detritus, etc, all built around the tops of telephone poles. Only problem was that the nesting parrots also had the habit of gnawing on the wires and the transformer boxes, inevitably frying a parrot or two, causing the colony nest to catch fire, and burning down a telephone pole with drastic results for the neighborhood and the power grid.
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These parrots flew up as I was exiting my car with my carrying bag. Their distinctive squawks immediately alerted me to their presence in the trees of a corner house, so I pulled the PowerShot from my bag and grabbed these pictures. The parrots obliged by staying put for the photo session.

Posted in life, New York City, parrots, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Going, going…

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 18, 2014

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The famous Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris is a well known tourist destination. Actually, it was a bookstore begun by Sylvia Beach in 1919 which closed during the German occupation in 1940 and then a second bookstore founded by George Whitman in 1951, a tribute to Beach’s original which is still around.
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Shakespeare and Company is also a small chain of locally owned bookshops in New York City unaffiliated with its Paris namesake. With three locations all in Manhattan, Shakespeare and Co started in 1981. In May of this year, it was announced that the Broadway location will close due to an astronomical rent increase.
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I often visited Shakespeare and Co when I made regular pilgrimages to New York City in the 1980s and 1990s. The scourge that was (and remains) Barnes and Noble, which spread like cancer across the City and systematically killed off most of New York’s independent bookstores, is still around if financially ailing due to competition with Amazon. This mainstream New York Times obituary hopefully does not portend the overall Shakespeare chain’s demise.
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I’m constantly lamenting the death of all the joys that make living in San Francisco and New York so wonderful. The steady destruction of independent bookstores, record shops, cinemas, etc. due to urban gentrification and stratification doesn’t make me nostalgic, but rather sad and angry. A marvelous blog, Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, had this to say about Shakespeare and Co. Jeremiah’s is where I first heard that Little Rickie, a famous novelty store in Manhattan, also recently closed. Little Rickie is where I bought a smokin’ fez monkey.
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So fucking sad!

Posted in gentrification, independent bookstores, life, New York City, Paris, San Francisco, Shakespeare & Co | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Spoiler alert!

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 7, 2014

Tell me if you heard this one before.
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Back to the “office”

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 6, 2014

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My novel rewrite is progressing in leaps and bounds, so to speak. From February, 2013 through April, 2014, I’ve been taking Cary Tennis‘s Finishing School, a workshop designed to get literary projects done. Last month, I read the whole novel out loud from hard copy, and noted corrections on my printout. Not exactly something I can do in public. With the “reading out loud” done, I’m back to my “office” away from my home office to make the changes in my digital copy in Scrivener. Today, I’m working at an excellent local coffee shop/dining establishment in the Castro called Réveille Coffee (4076 18th St), enjoying a pot of white tea. Here are pictures of my nomadic office. PS–the food here is excellent, if limited!
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Posted in Castro Street, life, San Francisco, The Castro, The Novel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Oakland cityscapes

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on April 19, 2014

My wife and I BARTed over to Oakland on Thursday, April 17, and caught the opening of “Oakland and Beyond: Sense of Place,” a photographic exhibition of 5 photographers at Photo Fine Art Gallery (473 25th St., Box 6, Oakland, CA 94612). Lee Nelson’s series on the Hollywood sign caught from different vantage points in Los Angeles is interesting, but the highlight for me were the Oakland cityscapes shot by Diallo Mwathi Jeffery.
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Oakland Uptown Dusk
Bay Sky One

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Temple View

Temple View
Oakland Uptown Day

Oakland Uptown Day
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Oakland Panorama

I lived in Oakland when I first moved to the Bay Area in 1991, and I’ve been a big fan of the city ever since. Diallo’s photos are beautiful, if a bit Chamber of Commerce-y. I met the young artist at the opening, and he is indeed quite young. Hope he has a wonderful future in photography.

Posted in life, Oakland, Oaktown, photography, photography opening | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“MAN” by Steve Cutts

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on March 27, 2014

Enough said.

Posted in environment, life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

“See something, Leak something” from Ryan Shapiro

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on March 26, 2014

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The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was intended to provide clear democratic access and oversight of federal intelligence and security agencies—the CIA, NSA, FBI and DIA specifically—by giving individual citizens a mechanism to request and receive classified documents being held by those agencies. But when MIT PhD candidate Ryan Shapiro made FOIA requests of three of the above agencies for documents regarding allegations that a CIA tip led to the arrest of Nelson Mandela by South Africa’s apartheid government in 1962, and Mandela’s subsequent internment in prison for 27 years, all three stonewalled Shapiro and denied his FOIA requests on grounds of national security, national defense, and executive privilege.

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The Catch 22 Squared around this needs to be emphasized. The CIA, NSA, FBI and DIA are tasked with protecting national security, and thus see threats to national security at every turn and under every rock. The anti-war, anti-apartheid, and radical green movements, everything from the Left to Occupy Wall Street, have all been considered threats to national security and potential sources of domestic terrorism. Nelson Mandela himself was denounced as a Marxist terrorist, and remained on the US terror watch list until 2008. US security and intelligence agencies have been, and continue to be instrumental in the surveillance and subversion of all these progressive movements. For these agencies, the FOIA itself is a threat to national security, and those who request classified material through the FOIA are also considered threats to national security. In the case of the NSA, that agency completely refused to acknowledge the very existence of the documents requested by Shapiro in denying his FOIA application.

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Shapiro, who has made 400 odd FOIA requests over other issues in the past, decided to draw the line when the CIA, FBI, NSA and DIA used their official position to thwart his FOIA requests regarding Mandela by issuing repeated national security exemptions. In January 2014, Shapiro filed a lawsuit against the CIA, DOD, DOJ and NSA for their non-compliance.

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“The failure of the NSA, FBI, DIA, and CIA to comply with my FOIA requests for records on Mandela highlights that FOIA is broken and that this sad reality is just one component among many of the ongoing crisis of secrecy we now face,” Shapiro says. The issue for him is that the public needs to keep the government accountable. “It’s not surprising those in power wish to keep their actions secret. What’s surprising is how readily we tolerate it. We are all familiar with the security-oriented signage instructing us to ‘See something, Say something.’ In the interest of promoting a fuller conception of national security, I add, ‘See something, Leak something.’ The viability of our democracy may depend upon it.”

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It’s simple. See something, Leak something.

Posted in CIA, FBI, Federal Government, life, NSA, terrorists | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Direct Action Resources

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on March 23, 2014

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So, I’ve mentioned direct action, in connection with combatting the tech takeover of San Francisco. Here are some step-by-step guides.

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WORKERS DIRECT ACTION

The Industrial Workers of the World published a variety of working class direct action guides over the years. Here’s a recent archived one, HOW TO FIRE YOUR BOSS.

Here’s a version by DAM/IWA called DIRECT ACTION IN INDUSTRY.

And yet another discussion on LibCom, called HOW TO SACK YOUR BOSS.
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MORE WIDE RANGING DIRECT ACTION GUIDES

From nonviolence to citizens’ action to anarchist direct action, here’s a selection of guides from the Bay Area Public School:

CITIZEN’S GUIDE TO DIRECT ACTION

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE TRAINING

ANARCHISM IN ACTION: METHODS, TACTICS, SKILLS AND IDEAS

DIRECT ACTION HANDBOOK

NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION

RUCKUS ACTION PLANNING TRAINING MANUAL

RUCKUS MEDIA TRAINING MANUAL
direct-action

Posted in direct action, DIY, Do It Yourself, life, tech industry, techies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“San Francisco’s Class War, By the Numbers,” by Susie Cagle

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on March 21, 2014

This is a fucking excellent comic. Enough said.
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This comic, “San Francisco’s Class War, By the Numbers,” by Susie Cagle, can be found in its entirety here. Fucking brilliant!

Posted in Bay Area, class war, gentrification, life, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, tech industry, techies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Defend the Bay Area: March 28-April 5: Direct Action Gets Satisfaction

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on March 20, 2014

Anti-Gentrification
Here’s a week long series of events targeted toward defending the Bay Area and fighting back against the big tech takeover. I suspect this is being organized by the usual leftist suspects, but I think it behooves everyone in the Bay Area to start taking action against the tech incursions and gentrification of our communities. Below is the 4-1-1:

DEFEND THE BAY AREA!

Evict the Evictors
March 21 @ 11:45 am – 12:45 pm
After 20 years of successfully evicting Bay area tenants, BORNSTEIN & BORNSTEIN are now in need of support as they face their own eviction. Join Project Lawyer Connect, a new network for lawyers in need. Help us help them access the life saving social services they have become accustomed to, including sealskin manicures, diplomatic immunity, cocaine fondue, and Michelin rated dinners at Sheriff Mirkarimi’s palatial compound. With community support they can get back on their feet and continue holding their “eviction bootcamps” for the countless landlords who are held captive by renters throughout San Francisco.

Anti-Tech Movie Night: Das Net
March 27 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Das Net: The Unabomber, LSD and the Internet

A marvelously subversive approach to the history of the internet, this insightful documentary combines speculative travelogue and investigative journalism to trace contrasting counter-cultural to the cybernetic revolution.

Free screening.
Some food and drink will be provided.

Kick-off week of action
March 28 – April 5
Kick-off week of action
Week of loosely coordinated actions against gentrification, real estate speculation, surveillance, invasive technology and displacement. Link to call here.

Faces of the Mission, Faces of Bernal Heights
March 29 @ 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Faces of the Mission, Faces of Bernal Heights
PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBIT AND TOWN HALL MEETING
Come hear from long-time Mission and Bernal residents about the issues they are facing in their daily lives and in their communities. From the displacement of our neighbors to new businesses that don’t cater to the surrounding communities, our neighborhoods are changing around us. Come see some of the “faces” of our neighborhoods in person and in photograph, and discuss how we can band together for the changes we need.

Anti-Tech Movie Night: startup.com
April 3 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Friends since high school, 20-somethings Kaleil Isaza Tuzman and Tom Herman have an idea: a Web site for people to conduct business with municipal governments. This documentary tracks the rise and fall of govworks.com from May of 1999 to December of 2000, and the trials the business brings to the relationship of these best friends. Will the business or the friendship crash first?

Free screening.Some food and drink will be provided.

Assembly of Bay Area Residents
April 5 @ 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Assembly of Bay Area Residents
An assembly of residents from across the Bay Area, coming together to discuss resistance to the current wave of financial speculation and tech development.

come to find others taking action
meet other tenants fighting displacement
resist the proliferation of surveillance
combat racist “redevelopment”
plan actions with others

Development Without Displacement
April 7 @ 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Causa Justa :: Just Cause (CJJC) is excited to announce the release of Development without Displacement: Resistance against Gentrification in the Bay Area. This report is a culmination of a year of work with the Alameda County Public Health Department. The report digs in to the root causes of gentrification and displacement and calls for urgent policy changes and using a different paradigm of human development. As tenants in both San Francisco and Oakland reel under the highest rents in the nation, new development and investment is causing tremendous market pressures destabilizing everything from housing to health to political power. On April 7th, CJJC will release our nearly 100-page report on Displacement and Gentrification and we want to celebrate it with you.

Click on the above links for more details re: dates, times, venues, organizers, and relevant websites.

It’s about time to take direct action to defend our communities…
Anti-Capital

Posted in Bay Area, Bernal Heights, gentrification, neighborhoods, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, tech industry, techies, The Mission | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Free trade on steroids

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on February 20, 2014

That’s what the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is. Here’s a graphic that summarizes the issues and problems with the TPP.
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I love information in graphic form. This particular chart is provided by 350.org. The negotiations for the TPP by the Obama Administration are so secret that Congress has not been privy to them, and if select members are, they have been sworn to secrecy, as these articles make clear. The Obama Administration hopes to fast track the vote on the TPP, to avoid embarrassing questions and opposition from both Congress and the American people.

Stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership!

Posted in free trade, life, politics, Trans-Pacific Partnership | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Frank Espada, 1930-2014, Que En Paz Descanse

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on February 18, 2014

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I had the privilege of knowing Frank Espada through my wife. Frank founded the organization, Bay Area Photographers Collective, of which my wife is a member. Being an opinionated, cantankerous old/New Leftie, he eventually quit BAPC due to political and artistic differences, but he continued to mentor and inspire local photographers with his skill and talent. I own his book The Puerto Rican Diaspora: Themes in the Survival of a People, a brilliant portrait of his community whose black-and-white photographs are visceral and tactile. I’m proud to say that my wife and I own a number of Frank Espada original, old school darkroom prints, which hold an honored place on our walls and shelves.
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Just one Frank Espada story. I remember attending one of his exhibitions, where the above iconic photograph was prominently displayed. I was admiring it when Frank walked up alongside me. Noticing that the Malcolm X photo was actually quite reasonably priced, I asked him if there were copies of the print available for sale. He said no, that this was the one print available at that time, and that he didn’t do large runs of particular photographs. Then he asked me whether he thought the price and quantity of his photography should be commercially determined. When I said yes, unthinking, with an eye toward owning my own copy, he immediately came back with the comment that the value of art, all art, should never be determined by the market. From there our discussion turned to criticizing “art for art’s sake,” the social responsibility of the artist, the need for art to be accessible, etc. Frank was a socialist with an abiding critique of capitalism, one of the things I liked and admired about him.

Frank’s papers and photos were recently acquired by Duke University, and his website can be found here.

Que En Paz Descanse.

Así son las cosas de la vida.
One obituary
Another obituary
Yet another obituary
A final one

Posted in capitalism, Frank Espada, life, socialism | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Oh No!

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on February 9, 2014

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For being such a radical commie pinko would-be revolutionist, I really don’t handle change all that well. Case in point: Cafe Ponte is, or was, a neighborhood coffee shop/eatery within walking distance of my home, at 24th and Diamond Streets. I spent many an afternoon comfortably nestled among its worn cafe furnishings and odd artwork with my laptop, availing myself of their free wifi, and happily working on my writing while people watching. I enjoyed their chai lattes, green teas and fruit smoothies, as well as their spinach salads, pastrami sandwiches, and chicken pot pies. They baked their own cookies and pastries, but I deliberately avoided indulging my sweet tooth on these items.

Imagine my consternation when I recently passed by the location and discovered Cafe Ponte’s windows covered with newspaper, with no notice of what might become of one my favorite writing spots. If I’m not mistaken, the owner once owned an Italian deli specializing in hefty sandwiches just a block down on Elizabeth and Diamond that closed some ten or so years ago. And now Cafe Ponte is closing. According to the folks at Pasta Gina next door, the owner sold the cafe to people who plan to reopen as the Diamond Cafe (a name used by a previous incarnation of this location) with a different menu.

True, all things change, although I wish they wouldn’t.

Posted in life, Noe Valley, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Refining and refiguring

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on January 14, 2014

The biggest addition to this blog has been uploading my own photos, shot using a Canon PowerShot ELPH 130 IS. I just realized that I’ve been uploading massive sized jpegs in the process, when all I needed were small photo files. That means going from 2-6 megs to a few hundred k each. I’m not sure whether I’m retroactively downsizing the images to date, but from now on, the image sizes on this blog should be more manageable.
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This will be a photographic tour spanning the past few weeks, starting with the above images from nearby Kite Hill. Kite Hill is a bit of open space/parkland in the heart of Eureka Valley near where I live, and is a favorite spot for people walking their dogs.
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The equestrian rooftop sculpture and the autumn foliage are two scenes to be had when walking from my immediate neighborhood down to the Castro. On this day, my wife and I were on our way downtown to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
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We’ve been enjoying photographic excursions in which we each take our cameras and snap pictures along the way. The Mondrian is actually a YBCA building. I’ve been hoping to encourage my wife, an excellent photographer, to revitalize her interest in photography by engaging in these jaunts around the city.
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These two pictures are from another excursion through Hayes Valley, between lunch at Bar Jules and a late afternoon concert at the San Francisco Jazz Center. I believe the image “FEEL” is of the interior of a shop called Cisco Home.
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Finally, we come to my “my office away from the office,” these last four photos of my novel rewrite setup at the Glenn Park Library. This seems to be a more than usual “child friendly” library, although all SF public libraries have plenty of resources for kids. Glenn Park Library has second story windows providing views overlooking the neighborhood’s busy commercial street. This day’s novel rewrite wraps up about twenty-five pages in anticipation of meeting with the folks in Cary Tennis’s Finishing School.

Posted in Eureka Valley, Glenn Park Library, Hayes Valley, Kite Hill, life, public libraries, The Castro, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Park Library “office”

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on January 6, 2014

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I’m in the Park Library at 1833 Page Street, near Golden Gate Park, where I’ve set up my office. Pictured is the outside mural. Inside, the architecture is quite open, light-filled, and airy. The inset ceiling paintings are particularly pleasant.
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My portable office setup is the usual; 13-inch 2011 MacBook Air plugged into the library power supply with a wifi connection, Kensington computer stand with Kensington lock secured to the library table, cheap cell phone also plugged in but without a connection at this location, cable for my portable Canon powershot camera, couple of Rhodia notebooks and a medium black Stabilo pen, and the carrying case for the above.
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I’m working on a few organizing tasks; making “to do” lists for the next month, working out my January Finishing School writing schedule for the novel, and if I have time, actually doing some writing. Such an enjoyable time on an overcast morning becoming afternoon in the Haight-Ashbury.

Posted in Golden Gate Park, Haight-Ashbury, life, public libraries | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Darkness visible

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on January 5, 2014

I’m a city person, but I’ve sometimes missed the splendor of a rural night sky. And I’ve wondered what my favorite urban environment might be like if I could see a full night of stars. Photographer Thierry Cohen provides these composite shots of my three favorite cities sans urban lighting and moonlight. Maybe like the blackout of 2003 in New York City or the 1989 Loma-Prieta earthquake in San Francisco, with no urban unrest but no electricity either. Thierry Cohen identifies each photo with the precise time, angle, and longitude and latitude of the exposure.
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New York 40° 44’ 39’’ N 2010-10-13 lst 0:04
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New York 40° 42’ 16’’ N 2010-10-09 lst 3:40
Paris 48° 51’ 03’’ N 2012-07-19 lst 19:46

Paris 48° 51’ 03’’ N 2012-07-19 lst 19:46
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San Francisco 37° 48’ 30’’ N 2010-10-09 lst 20:58
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Paris 48° 50’ 55’’ N 2012-08-13 lst 22:15
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Paris 48° 51’ 52’’ N 2021-07-14 utc 22:18

Posted in life, New York City, Paris, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A touch or two of Paris

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on January 4, 2014

Here are a couple of reminders of Paris, for those who are in love with the City of Light. First, a blog called Paris Daily Photo by Eric Tenin.
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Born and raised in Paris, Tenin offers typical and unusual, must see, restaurant, graffiti, food, exhibition, monument, and night photos. Oh yes, and shots of the Eiffel Tower.
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Then there’s David Lebovitz’s food blog Living the Sweet Life in Paris. Lebovitz is a chef who’s cooked at Chez Panisse, and you can taste French cuisine from viewing these photos.
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I haven’t read any of Lebovitz’s books, but given the quality of this blog, they would be well worth purchasing. He even provides interesting illustrated recipes.
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Bookmark these two websites.

Posted in City of Light, life, Paris | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

DIY

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on January 3, 2014

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….

Maximum Rocknroll, the magazine I write for, used to publish “Book Your Own Fuckin’ Life” as a kind of Whole Earth Punk Rock Booking Catalog. Then it went online, then it died, and now its back. I can’t vouch for its quality, but here it is.
BYOB
Also, a local Bay Area booking resource is now in play, called “Burn Down The Bay.” Again, I can’t vouch for its quality, but it is available online. Enjoy.
bdthebay

Posted in Book Your Own Fuckin' Life, Burn Down The Bay, DIY, Do It Yourself, life, Maximum Rocknroll, punk, punk rock | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Procrastination and motivation

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on January 2, 2014

If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would ever get done.

I am fond of procrastination, not because I never get anything done, but because I use the last minute to motivate myself to get things done. I have a keen sense of how long and how much effort a task requires to accomplish, so that I can fuck off until the last minute, enjoying my free time, but always knowing exactly when to get down to work. I rarely, if ever, fail to get things done within the allotted time, even at the last minute.
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Today, I did something simple. I cleaned up the dead tomato plant and removed the anti-raccoon caging from around the barrel planters in our backyard. A quick and easy and long overdue task.
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I do like keeping up our backyard, not nearly as much as I enjoy harvesting heirloom tomatoes or outwitting the neighborhood raccoons, but because its a serene, secluded, meditative spot in which to hang out. Below is a circle of iron birds we array on the lower deck, a bit of lawn art that has fooled local birds into descending for a gander.
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My habitual procrastination has transformed into unalloyed motivation over the past year or so, in part thanks to the influence of health problems that have given me a taste of my own mortality. I’ve started rewriting my 15+ year old novel, I’ve restarted my two blogs, and I’m churning out my Maximum Rocknroll columns as quickly as I can manage. Procrastination is an excellent motivation, but I’m really appreciating motivation for its own sake. As Isaac Asimov once said when asked what he would do if he only had six months to live: “Type faster.”
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Posted in blog, blogging, life, Maximum Rocknroll | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Anti-Techie backlash: bus blockade tactic

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on December 31, 2013

So I’m walking around Market Street, doing a bit of extra exercise between my workout sessions, when I encounter this sticker on a newspaper kiosk near the corner of Church Street.
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Its an old slogan (“Die Yuppie Scum!”) updated for present realities in San Francisco. The techies flooding into the City have become a lightning rod for local frustration, discontent, protest, and worse. In particular, those Apple, Google, and Genentech buses seen cruising the city’s streets have become prime targets. On December 20, four separate incidents involving blockades and/or attacks on tech buses occurred in Oakland and San Francisco, according to the SF Chronicle. People peacefully surrounded and briefly detained buses at MacArthur BART Station in Oakland and the 24th Street and Mission BART Station in San Francisco. At 7th and Adeline streets near the West Oakland BART Station, violence greeted another bus, rocks and bottles were thrown, and window was shattered and tires were slashed.
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Video can be found here. These protests, nonviolent and violent, follow a bus blockade on December 9 in the Mission, covered here. The folks staging this protest called themselves the San Francisco Displacement and Neighborhood Impact Agency, and sighted the following reasons for their protest:

[W]e’re stopping the injustice in the city’s two-tier system where the public pays and the private corporations gain.

Rents and evictions are on the rise. Tech-fueled real estate speculation is the culprit. We say: Enough is Enough! The local government, especially Mayor Lee, has given tech the keys to shape the city to their fancy without the public having any say in it. We say, lets take them back!

Tech Industry private shuttles use over 200 SF MUNI stops approximately 7,100 times in total each day (M-F) without permission or contributing funds to support this public infrastructure. No vehicles other than MUNI are allowed to use these stops. If the tech industry was fined for each illegal use for the past 2 years, they would owe an estimated $1 billion to the city.

We demand they PAY UP or GET OUT!
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Those tech workers temporarily trapped on the buses in question were furious about being “held hostage” by the protestors blockading the means of transportation to their jobs. These techies have demonstrated a profound myopia over their own part in gentrifying San Francisco and in engendering the hostility among the locals to their intrusion. All the while tech workers are safely ensconced in their buses with tinted windows, air conditioning and wifi without thought one about giving back to the neighborhoods and the city they’re blithely destroying.

Business leaders narrowly argue that the backlash against the tech buses makes no sense, because the buses take solo drivers in individual cars off the roads. These business interests deliberately ignore the wider damage done to San Francisco by the tech industries relentless encroachments. And they conveniently look the other way as Mayor Ed Lee and other corporate complicit local politicians provide $14.2 million annually in tax breaks to stimulate growth in tech, biotech, and cleantech, most prominently to keep Twitter in San Francisco and to stimulate economic growth around its mid-Market Street headquarters.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian has provided a much needed critical counterbalance to the Chronicle’s pro-business cheerleading that simultaneously bemoans all the fuss being made over tech workers and the tech industry. Along with the YouTube of the December 20 bus protests below, SFBG continues to cover the bus blockages and other anti-techie protests.

Posted in capitalism, evictions, gentrification, Google buses, life, Oakland, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle, tech industry, techies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Closing the gap

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on December 31, 2013

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I have another blog, “What’s Left?”, for my “Lefty” Hooligan columns printed in Maximum Rocknroll. I’ve been slowly closing the gap between when I stopped posting columns to that blog sometime in mid-2008, and when I restarted blogging again in August of 2013. In the process of filling in from then to now, I now realize how sporadic my column writing became as I dealt with the personal crisis over my alcoholism and the depression I experienced when I stopped drinking. It’s New Year’s eve, and I’m overjoyed with another sober year.

Posted in "What's Left?" by "Lefty" Hooligan, alcoholism, life, Maximum Rocknroll | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

My office away from the office

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on December 5, 2013

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I’ve always been a fan of public libraries, as I’ve noted in a previous post. There’s a story that Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 at the UCLA Powell Library, where he pumped dimes into the rental typewriter until he finished the novel. One dime for a half hour of time, costing him nine dollars and change to complete the book. “Libraries raised me,” he [Bradbury] said in a 2009 interview while trying to raise money for a library in Ventura County. “I don’t believe in colleges and universities.… When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.” An appreciation of Bradbury’s love for the LA Public Library system can be found here. And above is the entrance to the Eureka Valley Public Library, which I consider one of my offices away from my home office.

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The Eureka Valley library is light, airy, and well-maintained. There are plenty of free public access computers, as well as the usual sections for magazines and newspapers, video rentals, childrens area, and even the occasional old-fashioned book. There are also public rest rooms, photography related to the branch’s LGBT focus on the wall, and rotating information/art installations of note.

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I use one of the many tables with available outlets to set up my office “on the run” as it were. Here’s my 2011 13-inch MacBook Air, outfitted with a custom Kensington locking stand and cable lock. With my Scrivener software (open to the first “page” of my current novel-in-rewrite entitled “1% Free”) I’m all set. Everything goes back into the bag slung over the chair when I’m done. You’ll notice the copy of San Francisco library locations and hours, as well as a free book I got from the branch, research for my regular monthly MRR columns. Public libraries are truly a gift to the people, not to mention aspiring writers. I can’t repeat enough how much I love them.

Posted in Eureka Valley, LGBT, life, public libraries, San Francisco, The Castro | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Artful vandalism

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on December 1, 2013

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So, we’re walking down the street, me and my wife, when we encounter this street art. At first, I call them street saints in my blog, but then I do a bit of sleuthing. Turns out they’re jazz saints, done by Montreal graffiti artist who tags herself Miss Me. Originally from Geneva, Switzerland, Miss Me is a street artist, jazz singer, and feminist whose work has been described by a fan as follows. “her wheatpastes can be found around the city, ranging in size but always consistent in their incredible, intricate detail, stark stylization and often overtly sexual imagery featuring the personas of female characters like jasmine, betty boop, the statue of liberty, or jazz icons nina simone, billie holiday, miles davis or sarah vaughn. [...] her street art is at once provocative and thought-provoking – one of those astutely femme productions that stick in your mind just for the sheer badass-ness that resonates so powerfully.”

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Here are some links where you can find info on Miss Me. And there are some examples of her street art sprinkled throughout this post.

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Posted in life, Miss Me, Montreal, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Parisophile

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on November 30, 2013

There’s a word for loving everything French: Francophile. My wife and I are Parisophiles, if I can be permitted to coin the term. Here’s a Life Magazine series called “Paris Unadorned: Black and White Portraits of the City of Light, 1946.” The nostalgia of the time, the sumptuousness of the black and white photography, the breathtaking beauty of the scenery make these pictures gorgeous and stunning. Enjoy!

Ed Clark—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
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1) View along Quai du Louvre (today Quai François Mitterrand) down the Seine toward Ponte Des Arts with the Eiffel Tower in the distance, 1946.
2) View of the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, 1946.

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3) A barge churns up the Seine past Notre Dame on a gloomy winter day in 1946.
4) A man exits a Paris Metro station, 1946.

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5) The Arc de Triomphe, 1946.
6) A young artist paints Sacré-Coeur from the ancient Rue Norvins in Montmartre, Paris, 1946.

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7) Moulin de la Galette, Paris, 1946.
8) Paris’ famed stalls along the Seine, 1946.

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9) View across the Pont Alexandre III bridge toward the Grand Palace, Paris, 1946.
10) View across the Pont Alexandre III bridge toward the Grand Palace, Paris, 1946.

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11) Paris street scene, 1946.
12) Near the Pont Neuf steps, Paris, 1946.

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13) Scene on the Seine, 1946.
14) Parisian flower vendor on the banks of the Seine, 1946.

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15) Pont Alexandre III bridge, Paris, 1946.
16) Conciergerie, Paris, 1946.

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17) Rowboats on the banks of the Seine, Paris, 1946.
18) View of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Coeur, 1946.

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19) Montmartre cemetery, Paris, winter 1946.
20) Passerelle Debilly bridge on a foggy winter day with the Eiffel Tower in the background, 1946.

This is a post-war Paris where, according to Ed Clark, the Parisians were “cold, hungry, confused and tired — above all, tired — too busy keeping themselves alive to bother much about entertaining. . . . [The typical American GI in Paris at the time] felt cheated. Where was the Paris he had heard about? Where were the naked women?” According to Life Magazine: “The Paris [of Clark's photos] is the Paris of the Parisians — and of anyone else who will take her. She is unadorned, somber and beautiful. Most of the pictures were taken in mist or rain, when the sharp, clean lines of the city’s spires and the bridges pierce through a curtain of gray. This is the Paris that neither Germans nor GIs could change. Even in the age of the atom bomb, she is as indestructible as the river.”

Posted in 1946, black and white photography, City of Light, Francophile, life, Life Magazine, Paris, Parisophile | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Street saints

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on November 30, 2013

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It was an evangelical church. Or maybe a Baptist church. This whitewashed building has been vacant for years on Market Street, just up from the corner of Church Street. If memory serves me, when it was a still functioning church, it displayed messages simultaneously offering to pray for those “lost souls” who were gay and welcoming all to attend without regard to the state of their souls’ salvation.

Today, the building is looking for a buyer. And someone has added a bit of street iconography to the outside that may or may not be up for long. Saint Billie Holiday and Saint Sarah Vaughan. All they need are flowers, incense and candles. San Francisco already has a Saint John Coltrane African Orthodox Church. The hagiography is in the streets.
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Posted in bebop, jazz, life, Paris of the West, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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