There 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).
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 22, 2014
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 20, 2014
I’m a bit leery of this article’s conclusion, which claims that there are four different types of gentrification, but here’s the story in full.
There Are Actually 4 Types of Gentrification That Could Change Your City
The Huffington Post | By Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson
Posted: 08/20/2014 12:53 pm EDT
In 1985, gentrification was as easy to spot as a bottle of New Coke. According to a quiz published by the San Francisco Chronicle (and recently found by UCLA Ph.D. candidate Devin McCutchen), markers of a neighborhood on the cusp of yuppiedom included the introduction of gourmet bakeries, needlepoint boutiques and, puzzlingly, pet stores specializing in exotic Central American birds.
And while a neighborhood’s rapidly changing demographic is often as easily identifiable today (just look at how New York City has changed before our eyes), the reasons a certain area may appeal to more “upscale” interests is trickier than you’d think.
“Gentrification is a nuanced phenomenon … but most people engaged in any gentrification fail to acknowledge the nuances.”– Pete Saunders
On his blog, The Corner Side Yard, urban planning expert Pete Saunders set out to establish some ground rules for understanding the trend. In short, this isn’t just about mom-and-pop shops being overtaken by the latest farm-to-table restaurant, or high-rise condos looming ominously over one remaining row of single-family homes. Rather, it’s about what makes a neighborhood ripe for gentrification to begin with.
Saunders’ basic premise is that the amount of pre-World War II, walkable areas in a given city (what he refers to as “old form”) combined with the number of African-Americans who live there can forecast gentrification activity.
“Once areas of a city obtain a majority of minorities, particularly a majority of African Americans, it somehow drops from the mental landscape of whites when thinking of the city at large,” Saunders wrote in an email to HuffPost Home. “Because some cities have had historically lower black populations, less of the city has become invisible to current residents. This means that more of the city became ‘available’ for potential future gentrification.”
And, as Saunders writes on his blog, gentrification can look different depending where it is. Most of what comes to mind when we think of gentrification is the experience of those in cities such as New York, San Francisco and Boston. There, the debate is fueled by concerns over affordability, displacement and growing inequality. “But the gentrification debate is quite different in cities like Philadelphia and Atlanta, where seeking ways to more equitably spread the positive benefits of revitalization might lead such discussions,” he says.
According to Saunders, there isn’t one single way to define gentrification, but four: Expansive Gentrification, Concentrated Gentrification, Limited Gentrification and Nascent Gentrification. Here’s where each type is likely to occur.
Here’s how he breaks it all down:
Best examples: New York, Boston, San Francisco and Seattle
Each city has a strong older core — a pre-World War II, traditional grid street system that you can easily walk, shop and live in without using a car much. Each has also had smaller historical black populations (when compared with Southern cities and Rust Belt cities that had extensive migration for manufacturing jobs). This gave them a leg up when the back-to-the-city movement gathered steam. Gentrification often sprouted from a number of places within a city and those often connected with each other to create even larger and stronger gentrified areas.
Best examples: Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
Here, the cities share the same type of older layout as the cities above, but have had larger (relative) black populations. This is where you see that larger parts of such cities have been “written off” by many residents. In each case, gentrification sprouted usually from one area that was a last bastion of white affluent residents (Chicago’s North Side, Northwest D.C. or the area around the University of Pennsylvania in Philly) and spread outward from there. Although most large cities have vast inequality, it’s most evident in these cities because they tend to be racially, economically and socially divided.
Best examples: Phoenix, San Diego and Las Vegas
These are largely Western cities that developed after World War II and have had historically small black populations. Gentrification is more limited in these cities because of their largely suburban structure. Some black neighborhoods have grown and thrived here, but they’ve usually been small when compared to the city overall. Many residents see the value of creating walkable and dense areas that they’ve been lacking, and they are leading the charge in developing them. They are also investing in transit in ways that cities in other parts of the country are not.
Best examples: Houston, Charlotte and Memphis
This a largely Southern phenomenon. These are cities with a newer layout, but higher black populations that are still wedded to the conventional suburban development model. This is not to say that there isn’t any development of walkable/dense areas, but it likely occurs less often than in any of the other three categories.
Posted in City Living, economics, gentrification, life, Manhattanization, Manhattanization of San Francisco, New York City, Oakland, San Francisco | Tagged: black population, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, City Living, Concentrated Gentrification, economics, Expansive Gentrification, gentrification, Houston, Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson, Las Vegas, Limited Gentrification, Memphis, Nascent Gentrification, negro removal, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, urban renewal, Washington DC | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 13, 2014
There’s a punk band called MDC, one version of their name being Millions of Dead Cops. You get the idea.
If in hearing about the latest attempts to clear out evacuation routes at BART stations, you smelled a rat, you may be closer to the truth then you realize. BART police have been gearing up for months to clear homeless people who are doing nothing wrong or illegal out of BART stations, and some cynical pencil pusher came up with a perhaps not-so-perfect cover story.
When BART police officials first announced their intentions of clearing out travelers trying to catch a wink under the guise of clearing evacuation routes, my first thought was: “In an emergency, wouldn’t the well-healed alongside the down and out be evacuated together?”
Add to that a close look at the areas they are clearing people out of — open plazas and 20-foot-wide hallways, and the yarn falls apart.
The BART Police Department has been embattled almost since its inception, with bad publicity flowing directly from poor decisions and horrific incidents. In 1992, BART Officer Fred Crabtree, who was white, shot and killed 19-year-old Jerrold Hall, who was black, near the Hayward station after receiving reports that a BART passenger had been robbed. Hall was unarmed and shot in the back, and the department initially reported he was shot in the chest, and tried to hide the truth. Hall’s father asked for civilian oversite for BART police, but they didn’t bother putting that together for more then a decade later after Oscar Grant III was killed on New Year’s Day 2009.
BART police made precedent in the U.S. by being the first government agency to shut down cellphone service when activists gathered to protest the fatal police shooting of Charles Hill, a homeless man in psychiatric crisis. Then there was the well-known shooting of Grant, which was caught on numerous cellphones, and which BART police attempted to suppress. More recently, BART police were caught on film literally torturing a nonviolent black passenger by repeatedly tasering him as he cried and begged them to stop. Let’s not forget an earlier shooting that occurred of Bruce Edward Seward, a naked mentally ill man who had gotten a hold of the officer’s billy club at the Hayward station. See a pattern? Each of these victims were poor, and either black or mentally ill.
Let’s recap. Fatal shootings of black and mentally ill people, suppressing evidence, trampling free speech, no oversight, torture and, as if they just can’t stop this downward spin into the dark sinkhole of immorality, they are now citing and arresting often black or mentally ill destitute people seeking shelter from the elements.
We are facing an unprecedented housing crisis in San Francisco. Mothers with their children are being forced to sleep at the Civic Center station while waiting six months for proper shelter. People are so desperate for a place to sleep, free of harassment, they are sneaking into elevator shafts and down train tunnels, literally risking their lives to get some rest. Last year, homeless father David Thomas was crushed to death by the elevator, and another poor man was killed by a Powell Street train when trying to get his belongings from below the platform.
We have one shelter bed for every five homeless people in San Francisco. People working three jobs cannot afford housing. We have passed laws making it illegal to sit or lie on sidewalks, closed down our parks at night, power-hosed down public areas under freeways that offer shelter, and just generally kicked and shoved people to the point where they have nowhere to simply exist. Instead of recognizing the crisis and coming up with effective solutions, BART has chosen the tried and failed route of rousting, citing and arresting. These latest efforts by BART to displace poor people from the stations will only drive them deeper into the tunnels, and even more deaths will occur.
BART police’s latest move is unconscionable and follows right along that same old path of fear and intolerance of our poor communities. It is long past time for that train to stop.
Jennifer Friedenbach is executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness.
August 11, 2014 San Francisco Examiner opinion
Posted in life, militarizing police, police, police brutality, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco Examiner | Tagged: BART police, BART stations, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Coalition on Homelessness, homeless, Jennifer Friedenbach, MDC, militarizing police, Millions of Dead Cops, Oscar Grant, police, police brutality, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco Examiner | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 6, 2014
Deconstruct that, Fluffy!
Full article here.
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 5, 2014
This sentiment is simple, clear, direct. Not in my name. According to the very controversial book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt:
Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing the amounts provided to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct U.S. economic and military assistance since 1976 and the largest total recipient since World War ll. Total direct U.S. aid to Israel amounts to well over $140 billion in 2003 dollars. Israel receives about $3 billion in direct foreign assistance each year, which is roughly one-fifth of America’s entire foreign aid budget. In per capita terms, the United States gives each Israeli a direct subsidy worth about $500 per year. This largesse is especially striking when one realizes that Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to South Korea or Spain.
These subsidies to Israel come out of the money I and other Americans pay in taxes. Not in my name. Not in our name. Enough.
Here’s a quick history lesson of recent events from Le Monde:
Posted in Israel/Palestine, life, politics, United States of America | Tagged: American foreign aid, American foreign policy, Israel, Not in my name, Palestine, politics, taxpayer subsidies to Israel, taxpayers, United States of America | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 3, 2014
I feel lucky to live in the Bay Area. We have a wealth of riches with regard to independent bookstores in the region, and I do my bit to shop at them every chance I get. I witnessed the proliferation of Barnes & Noble in New York City during the 80s and 90s and how that decimated the indie bookstores there. While I lived in Southern California, I studiously avoided having anything to do with Los Angeles, so I didn’t see firsthand the obliteration of small local bookstores there, other than the demise of the lefty Midnight Special bookstore in Santa Monica. So here’s The Last Bookstore, located at 453 S. Spring St, Ground Floor, in downtown LA:
The Last Bookstore, currently in our third incarnation, began in 2005 in a downtown Los Angeles loft. That was when owner Josh Spencer decided to take his decade of experience selling everything from cars to clothes on eBay and focus entirely on his first love: books. Our online business grew quickly along with the revival of downtown LA. When a small location in the Old Bank District at 4th and Main became available Christmas 2009, we jumped in and opened our doors to the public. The support from the community was overwhelming. Thanks, everybody!
People seemed to especially enjoy selling their used books to us, as one of the last places in LA still buying books. Our inventory quickly overflowed the shelves, and at the end of our lease June 2011 the Last Bookstore moved to the 10,000 sq. ft location at 5th & Spring St. A record shop and coffee bar filled out the ground floor September, 2011. Most recently, we expanded another 6,100 sq. ft. by opening up the Labyrinth Above the Last Bookstore on our mezzanine level, with over 100,000 books all priced at one dollar each! Now we’ve become the largest independent bookstore in California buying and selling used & new books and records.
The name was chosen with irony, but it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy as physical bookstores are dying out like dinosaurs from the meteoric impact of Amazon and e-books. With our constant turnover of stock, regular musical and literary events, vinyl LP and graphic novel shops, and the Spring Arts Collective sharing our space, we book-lovers at the Last Bookstore hope to last as long as we can in downtown LA’s vibrant new community. Join the cause! Buy, sell, trade, and above all read real books…before they’re gone.
Here’s a great KCRW feature that says what we’re all about even better!: KCRW
Posted in independent bookstores, life, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco Bay Area | Tagged: independent bookstores, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco Bay Area, The Last Bookstore | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 26, 2014
Bill Maher got this right. A clip from his Real Time HBO show:
And yet Republicans love big business and hate big government.
Posted in capitalism, capitalist monopolies, Federal Government, Republican Party | Tagged: big business, big government, capitalism, capitalist monopolies, Federal Government, Real Time with Bill Maher, Republican Party | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 19, 2014
Rest in peace Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny and Tommy.
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:
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: capitalism, class war, economics, income inequality, John Oliver, Last Week Tonight, No War But the Class War!, Ruben Bolling, Tom the Dancing Bug, US economy, US income inequality | Leave a Comment »
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: Dynamo Kyiv, FC Start, FIFA, Flakelf, futbol, John Oliver, Last Week Tonight, Lokomotyv Kyiv, Nazi Germany, organized sports, soccer, The Death Match, Ukraine | 1 Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 23, 2014
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.
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.”
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.
Posted in art, Berkeley, life, music | Tagged: art, Berkeley, Cowboy Junkies, depression, Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, Fresh Air, Goth, Gothic country, music, Southern Gothic, suicide, Terry Gross, Vic Chesnutt | Leave a Comment »
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:
Posted in hippie, hippies, hipsters, life, Lonely Planet, Millions of Dead Hipsters!, San Francisco, The Mission | Tagged: hippie, hippies, hippies dead/hipsters next, hipster infestation of San Francisco, hipsters, Lonely Planet, Millions of Dead Hipsters!, San Francisco, The Mission, tourism | Leave a Comment »
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.
….view lots more, CLICK below
Posted in art, blog, blogger, blogging, life | Tagged: Amazing STEPS to ART, art, blog, blogger, blogging, fernOnline blog speaks, fernOnline: Expression of self while looking listening learning & laughing, marquitaharris, mentalalchemy, totallytasmia | 3 Comments »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 16, 2014
Check out my Tomato Diaries, here.
(Page best viewed in Safari, Explorer, Chrome, or Opera. Mozilla doesn’t seem to work.)
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 15, 2014
…And the whole thing is a joke!
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 for 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: Daily Show, Glass Half Empty, Google Glass "Explorers", Google Glasses, James O'Keefe, Jason Jones, Lower Haight, Molotov's, rightwing con artists, Sarah Slocum, SF Bay Guardian, SF Chronicle, tech, tech industry, techies | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 14, 2014
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.
Posted in life, neighborhoods, Noe Valley, Noe Valley Voice, San Francisco | Tagged: bouncy castle, neighborhoods, Noe Valley, Noe Valley Voice, Nutraceutical, petting zoo, Real Foods Daily, San Francisco, Summer Fest, walking in the nabe | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 14, 2014
And give me hot dogs!
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.
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.
One 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. I’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.
Posted in Berkeley, libertarians, life, Oakland, Oaktown, San Francisco Chronicle | Tagged: Berkeley, bockwurst, CVS store in Oakland, hot dogs, libertarianism, Oakland, Oaktown, Safeway shopping center, San Francisco Chronicle, Top Dog hotdog stands, yum | 1 Comment »
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.
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:
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?
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: American Empire, American intervention, Baghdad, Barack Obama, Democrats & Republicans, Federal Government, George W. Bush, Iraq, Iraq War, Iraqi civil war, ISIS, Islamic Caliphate, Islamic extremists, Islamic militants, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Islamic terrorism, Kurds, Lebanon, maps, military intervention, neocon, neoconservative, neoliberalism, Shi'ite, Shi'ite Islam, Sunni, Sunni Islam, US military, war crimes, war crimes trials, war criminals, Weapons of Mass Destruction, WMDs | Leave a Comment »
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.
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.
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.
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:
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: being a tourist, California, Catholic shrine?, Fairfax, Marin County, mosaic wall/bench, North Bay, Olema, Olema commune, Point Reyes Station, San Francisco Bay Area, The Diggers, totemic art, tourism, west Marin | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 11, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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: "The Rapture of the Tiny", Archie McPhee, novelty/toy/curio company, NYC, Pickles of the North, punk, punk rock, resisting loss, toy skull keychain | Leave a Comment »
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:
Here’s a pork pie, with the association to 1940s bebop jazz musicians:
And here’s a British trilby:
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.
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…
Posted in Céline Robert, life, Paris | Tagged: buffalo hat, Céline Robert, chapeaux, fedora, feutre, hats, hipster hats, hipsters, Jon Stewart, Millions of Dead Hipsters!, Paris, pork pie hat, The Daily Show, trilby | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 8, 2014
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.
Posted in gentrification, life, Oakland | Tagged: gentrification, negro removal, No to WOSP, Oakland, residence displacement, Stop the WOSP, urban renewal, West Oakland, West Oakland Specific Plan | Leave a Comment »
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.
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: black and white photography, Coney Island, DC Moore Gallery, Duane Michals, Empty New York, Eugene Atget, New York, New York City, photography, photography opening | 1 Comment »
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:
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.
Posted in life, science, science denial | Tagged: anti-vaccination, climate change, Jon Stewart, leftwing science denial, rightwing science denial, Ruben Bolling, Samantha Bee, science, science denial, science deniers, The Daily Show, Tom the Dancing Bug | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 4, 2014
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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: art installation, artist, Brian Goggin, Defenestration Building, Defenestration Building demolition, San Francisco, South of Market, Vanishing San Francisco | 1 Comment »
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: "If It Were Up To Me", Andrew Culp, Cheryl Wheeler, Constitutional rights, CounterPunch, Darwin Bond-Graham, gun control, gun control debate, gun massacres, gun violence, Isla Vista, Left Gun Nuts, leftwing, Second Amendment | Leave a Comment »
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.”
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.
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.
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: backyard, backyard office, BELKIN E9K6000 Wireless N600 Dual Band N+ Router, blog, blogger, blogging, body armor blanket, cell phone, computers, electronic devices, laptop, microwave radiation, microwaves, tech, writing | 1 Comment »
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.
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: beware changing conditions, beware diving into the beach, beware inshore holes, beware longshore currents, beware powerful waves, beware rip currents, fun in the sun, needle free zone, no baseball, no boat launching, no camping, no dogs or pets, no glass containers, no littering, no open fires, no smoking, no vendors, pack your trash, play it safe, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz beach, The Boardwalk | 1 Comment »
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)
Cartoons and graphics like this are available at The Nib.
Posted in capitalism, capitalist monopolies, corporations, economics, life, tech industry | Tagged: Adobe Corporation, Adobe Creative Suite, Adobe Photoshop, capitalism, capitalist monopolies, cartoons, cloud storage, corporations, economics, Jen Sorensen, renting instead of owning software, tech industry, the cloud, The Nib | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 22, 2014
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 22, 2014
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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: Brooklyn parrots, Eureka Valley, New York City, parrots, parrots of Brooklyn, parrots of San Francisco, San Francisco parrots, Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill | 1 Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 18, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
So fucking sad!
Posted in gentrification, independent bookstores, life, New York City, Paris, San Francisco, Shakespeare & Co | Tagged: gentrification, independent bookstores, Jeremiah's Vanishing New York, Little Rickie, Manhattan, New York City, New York Times, Paris, San Francisco, Shakespeare & Co, smoking fez monkey | 1 Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 7, 2014
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 6, 2014
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!
Posted in Castro Street, life, San Francisco, The Castro, The Novel | Tagged: a writer's life, Cary Tennis, Castro Street, Finishing School, my office away from the office, Réveille Coffee, San Francisco, Scrivener, The Castro, the literary life, the novel, working on my novel | Leave a Comment »
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.
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: “Oakland and Beyond: Sense of Place", Diallo Mwathi Jeffery, Lee Nelson, Oakland, Oakland cityscapes, Oaktown, Photo Fine Art Gallery, Photo Gallery Oakland, photography, photography opening | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on March 27, 2014
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on March 26, 2014
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
Posted in CIA, FBI, Federal Government, life, NSA, terrorists | Tagged: Bradley Manning, CIA, DIA, Edward Snowden, executive privilege, FBI, Federal Governmebt, FOIA, Freedom of Information Act, national defense, national security, national security exemption, Nelson Mandela, NSA, Ryan Shapiro, See Something Leak Something, terrorists, US security and intelligence agencies, whistleblowers | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on March 23, 2014
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.
From nonviolence to citizens’ action to anarchist direct action, here’s a selection of guides from the Bay Area Public School:
Posted in direct action, DIY, Do It Yourself, life, tech industry, techies | Tagged: Anarchism In Action, Bay Area Public School, Citizen's Guide To Direct Action, civil disobedience, Civil Disobedience Training, Direct Action, Direct Action Gets Satisfaction, direct action gets the goods, Direct Action In Industry, DIY, Do It Yourself, How To Fire Your Boss, How To Sack Your Boss, Nonviolent Direct Action, Ruckus Action Planning Training Manual, Ruckus Media Training Manual, sabotabby, tech industry, techies, the big tech takeover, Workers Direct Action | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on March 21, 2014
Posted in Bay Area, class war, gentrification, life, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, tech industry, techies | Tagged: "San Francisco's Class War: By the Numbers", air pollution, average service salary, average tech salaries, average techie, Bay Area, cars versus buses, class war, eight private tech shuttles blocked, evictions, experimental Google yacht, gentrification, Google buses, increased bridge traffic, Mayor Ed Lee, median home price in San Francisco, median household income, median rent in Sa Francisco, Oakland, public transportation vs cars, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose, Supervisor David Chiu, Susie Cagle, tech industry, tech jobs, techies, unemployment, vacancy rate, Willie Brown | 1 Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on March 20, 2014
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:
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.
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.
Posted in Bay Area, Bernal Heights, gentrification, neighborhoods, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, tech industry, techies, The Mission | Tagged: Anti-Tech Movie Night: Das Net, Anti-Tech Movie Night: startup.com, Assembly of Bay Area Residents, Bay Area, Bernal Heights, Defend the Bay Area, Development Without Displacement, Direct Action, Direct Action Gets Satisfaction, Evict the Evictors, Faces of the Mission & Faces of Bernal Heights, gentrification, Kick-off week of action, neighborhoods, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, startups, tech industry, techies, The Mission | 1 Comment »
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.
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.
Posted in free trade, life, politics, Trans-Pacific Partnership | Tagged: 350.org, Congressional opposition, Fast Track, free trade, free trade on steroids, politics, popular opposition, secret negotiations, TPP, Trans-Pacific Partnership | 1 Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on February 9, 2014
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: Bar Jules, Canon PowerShot ELPH 130 IS, Cisco Home, downsizing jpegs, Eureka Valley, Glenn Park Library, Hayes Valley, Kite Hill, Mondrian, photographic excursions, San Francisco Jazz Center, San Francisco Public Libraries, The Castro, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on January 6, 2014
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.
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.
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 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.
Paris 48° 51’ 52’’ N 2021-07-14 utc 22:18
Posted in life, New York City, Paris, San Francisco | Tagged: composite photographs, New York City, panoramic urban photography, Paris, San Francisco, Thierry Cohen, urban sky without light pollution | Leave a Comment »
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bookmark these two websites.