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Archive for the ‘anti-suburbanization’ Category

Saving Halloween in the Castro

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on September 20, 2007

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A community group, Citizens for Halloween, is attempting to save the Castro Halloween party both from Mayor Gavin Newsom and from a potential riot. For further info, check the above website, or come to the C4H meeting this Saturday, September 22, at 1 pm, in the Eureka Valley Recreation Center, 100 Collingwood St.

Posted in anti-suburbanization, Bay Area, Bevan Dufty, Castro Street, Citizens for Halloween, Eureka Valley, Gavin Newsom, gay, Halloween in the Castro, Halloween party, LGBT, life, news, NIMBY, NIMBYism, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, The Castro | Leave a Comment »

Recipe for disaster or party organizing opportunity

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 9, 2007

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This report in the SF Chronicle details the ongoing trainwreck of city government efforts to deal with the infamous Halloween party in the Castro. After last year’s shootings and stabbing, Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Bevan Dufty promised to convene a task force to look into how to make the Castro party safer this year. But the task force never met because the consensus in city government was to cancel the event altogether. Then, an effort was made to set up a diversionary event on the waterfront to draw people away from the Castro and give them a party to go to on Halloween. The promoter for that event cancelled however, and now the city insists that there will be no Halloween party in the Castro, and no alternative party anywhere else.

The problem with this, of course, is that people are going to show up in the Castro on Halloween anyway. Many of those who attend might even be a little pissed off at Newsom’s and Dufty’s bad faith in all of this. The police won’t block off the streets or provide porta-potties for the Halloween party, but that won’t stop thousands of people from showing up and taking over the streets. The perfect scenario for a riot.

I propose that people consider this the perfect opportunity to organize Halloween in the Castro against the wishes of San Francisco’s city government instead. Here’s how it could be done:

1) Get together all the pro-party/pro-entertainment forces in the city, from folks like SF Party Party to promoters of other SF events shut down or hassled by the city (How Weird Street Fair, Haight-Ashbury Street Fair, etc.) to like-minded individuals and organizations in the LGBT community. Put together a statement openly defying Newsom and Dufty that calls for people to come to the Castro on Halloween to celebrate. Publicize this statement, and the ongoing debate about Halloween in the Castro, in sympathetic local media like the SF Bay Guardian. Maybe get a few of the mayoral candidates (Josh Wolf, Chicken John, Chris Daly) to endorse the statement.

2) Organize outreach to businesses in the Castro asking them to defy Newsom and Dufty, and to stay open late on Halloween. Reward them with increased patronage before, during, and after Halloween.

3) Use sympathetic local media, email, websites, word-of-mouth, etc. to publicize that there will indeed be a party on Halloween in the Castro, and give those who wish to attend suggestions on how to deal with problems, to include gang and police violence.

4) Ask for volunteers to help with security on Halloween, then have a number of training sessions to organize and prepare these volunteers. Give them something distinctive to wear, and make sure they can cope, not just with crowd problems, but with a potentially hostile police force.

5) Organize alternative entertainment for Halloween in the Castro. This might require highly mobile, guerrilla events that stay one step ahead of the police. It also might involve enlisting willing local merchants to provide venues for acts and events. From portable streetcorner stages to roving DJs, all of this entertainment will be strictly DIY.

The only way people are going to be able to save Halloween in the Castro is to take it away from SF city officials and the SFPD and run it themselves.

———

PS — Here‘s SF Party Party’s take on Newsom cancelling Halloween in the Castro. A touch rabid, but a voice worth listening to nevertheless.

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Posted in anti-suburbanization, Bay Area, Bevan Dufty, Carnaval, Castro Street, Chicken John, Chris Daly, City Living, Eureka Valley, Fillmore Jazz Festival, Gavin Newsom, gay, gentrification, Giulianism, Haight Street Fair, Haight-Ashbury, Halloween in the Castro, How Weird Street Fair, Josh Wolf, LGBT, Matt Gonzalez, NIMBY, NIMBYism, police, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco mayor, San Francisco Party Party, SFPD, The Castro, Tom Ammiano, yuppie | 1 Comment »

City living

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 8, 2007

I couldn’t have said this better myself. You can find the original commentary here in the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

———

CITY LIVING

By Steven Jones

City living isn’t for everyone. It gets messy, crowded, stinky, loud, scary, and downright weird. Sometimes people block your car even when you have a green light and pound their fists on your hood if you honk. They wear outrageous costumes, play silly games, and follow ridiculous trends. They yell and laugh too loud right outside your window when you’re trying to sleep. Occasionally they pee in your doorway, graffiti your wall, grab your ass, or barf on your shoes.

But that’s city living, and I love it.

If you want clean and orderly, there are plenty of small towns and suburbs to choose from. You can probably even get front and back yards and a roomy house big enough for 2.5 children and assorted pets for what you’re paying for your apartment here. Tempting? Then you should do it. Really. We’ll all be very supportive of your decision to leave if it comes to that, no hard feelings. I might even help you pack and find a new occupant for your place.

But if you want to shut down our party or expect us to dance around your delicate sensibilities, we’re gonna have to fight. And guess what? We’ll win. There are more of us in this crazy town than there are of you … and we aren’t afraid. We dodge SUVs on bicycles, brush past ranting lunatics, stand tall against cops in riot gear, pierce painful parts, bring strange people home to do unspeakable things, cavort with revolutionaries, and take way too many drugs. So there’s no way we’re caving in to the NIMBYs, the conservatives, or the complainers who want to banish our beloved chaos.

The Guardian
has long embraced true city living, from the Summer of Love and its hordes of hippies to the summer of 2007, when our glorious urban messiness is being threatened by the forces of gentrification, corporatization, homogenization, normalization, and stagnation. Once-radical neighborhoods like the Castro and the Haight are increasingly filled with aging homeowners, some of whom have grown frustrated with aspects of city living they once embraced.

Increasingly, however, these tragic naysayers are being confronted by groups such as the San Francisco Party Party, which was created to oppose the forces that are suburbanizing our great city. Last Halloween I donned a beard and stovepipe hat and joined the Party Party’s Abe Lincoln brigades as they cruised the Castro. Why Abe? Why not? Two dozen Abes strolled past the phalanxes of cops on overtime whose presence the nervous Nellies had urged (and who couldn’t stop violence from breaking out anyway), whooping it up until the party was shut down at the ridiculously early hour of 10:30 p.m. and city water trucks chased the partyers away, a sight that almost made us weep – and provoked the crowd into a state of restless frustration.

City living is about keeping the party going, not ending it. It’s a massive pillow fight in Justin Herman Plaza. It’s placing your body and bike in front of the angry guy in the Hummer who wants to cut through Critical Mass. It’s the drunken decision to get another tattoo or the hungry impulse to try an unfamiliar taquería. It’s wearing a chicken suit to confront a cowardly mayor. It’s watching Willy Wonka or the World Cup on massive screens in Dolores Park that somebody set up just because they thought it would be cool. It’s a bonfire on Ocean Beach, a blog argument over the latest city hall scandal, a giant purple head suddenly appearing in Golden Gate Park, street dancing at the late, lamented How Weird Street Faire, a bunch of wasted Santas bar crawling through North Beach, a sunny afternoon at Zeitgeist, a shopping trip to the Haight for a good pair of Burning Man goggles.

Or maybe for you it’s something else, something I’ve never thought or heard of, just some eccentric thing you and your freaky friends like to do. San Francisco has thousands of dynamic social pockets, big and small, each with its own passions, routines, and language. And not all civically spirited events are exotic, either. I’ve felt the abstract joy of the Bay descend during the most pedestrian of tasks, like when this great old guy in the Mission fixed the loose soles on my combat boots (bought used on Haight for $20 a few months ago and walked down many wild paths since) and made me a new key for my dog walker, a woman whose control over a large and combustible crew of canines borders on the miraculous.

Whatever our ideas of city living may be, there’s a reason we’re all living in the city, making San Francisco what it is. Some of the corporate-owned publications in town seem to enjoy mocking the free-living, forward-thinking sensibilities we embrace, dismissively deploying their “only in San Francisco” eye roll or casting progressives as somehow floating outside the country’s political spectrum.

Don’t let them put a ding in your wa, as my DJ friend Syd Gris likes to say. We know that it’s the rest of the country that’s the problem, not us. Luckily, there are a million things to do in this beautiful and bountiful city while we wait for the rest of the world to catch up

Posted in anti-suburbanization, Bay Area, City Living, gentrification, Giulianism, Haight Street Fair, Halloween in the Castro, hippie, hippies, How Weird Street Fair, life, NIMBY, NIMBYism, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Francisco Party Party, Steven Jones, Summer of Love | 3 Comments »

The madness…

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 21, 2007

San Francisco’s LGBT Pride Celebration is this weekend, and we’re bracing for the madness. The Trans March Friday night, Pink Saturday celebrations in the Civic Center, the Dyke March Saturday night, the main Pride Parade on Sunday, and a gazillion parties, concerts, and other events in between. Not to mention that every bar in the Castro, and there are a hell of a lot of bars, will be spilling celebrants out into the streets. (check here for a calendar)

It’s been almost a year since my wife and I moved from SOMA to upper Eureka Valley. We’re not in the center of the maelstrom, but comfortably perched above it. That said, there’s city “no parking” signs up all along Castro and 18th, and there’s not likely to be any parking for blocks and blocks around. More important to me as a user of public transportation, the buses are fucked up, or nonexistent, for two days. That means anything we do in the neighborhood will have to be done on foot.

You know what though? That’s city living. I chose to live in San Francisco in part because I would be in proximity to lots of exciting events and activities.

I’m particularly disturbed by the NIMBYism that has swept the city in recent years, and which is personified by the Newsom administration. Folks who purchased very expensive homes are complaining about the noise and nuisance of traditional events held in their neighborhoods, getting them shut down. The San Francisco Party Party website summarizes the casualties in warning about a threat to the Mission’s Carnaval celebrations.

More bad news: hot off the press. One of our editors just had a flyer placed under her door from a NIMBY group that is organizing to kill Carnaval next year. Apparently Mission NIMBY (not.in.my.back.yard) neighbors are inspired by NIMBYs in other parts of town that have killed Haight Street Fair, How Weird Street Fair, Halloween, and many other popular events.

We will have more information as this story develops. But for now please send an email to Tom Ammiano, Gavin Newsom, and the Board of Supervisors demanding that the city protect public events from NIMBY suburbanites (June 17th, 2007)

If I’d wanted to live in Walnut Creek, I’d have moved there.

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Posted in anti-suburbanization, Bay Area, Carnaval, Castro Street, culture, Dyke March, Eureka Valley, Gavin Newsom, gay, Haight Street Fair, Halloween in the Castro, How Weird Street Fair, LGBT, neighborhoods, NIMBY, NIMBYism, Pink Saturday, Pride Parade, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, SOMA, South of Market, The Castro, Tom Ammiano, Trans March, Walnut Creek, yuppie | Leave a Comment »

Here we go again!

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 2, 2007

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According to a story on yesterday’s SF Chronicle website, Mayor Gavin Newsom is once again intent on banning the infamous Castro Halloween party. (here) Now, personally, I’m not a big partyer. I wasn’t one when I was young, and I’m even less of one now that I’m over 50. And frankly, my claustrophobia kicks in when I think of the wall-to-wall crowd that takes over the Castro every Halloween.

Yet Newsom’s ongoing efforts to “Giulianize” San Francisco really piss me off. The Mayor’s focus on “quality of life” issues is an attempt to suburbanize the city, as the folks at San Francisco Party Party point out. He needs to be opposed. What follows is a brief list of organizations trying to make the city into a fun and livable place. Each website has further links and resources.

San Francisco Party Party (HELP!!! SF Mayor Gavin Newsom is suburbanizing our great City… he must be stopped!)

Livable City (Livable City works to create a San Francisco of great streets and complete neighborhoods, where walking, bicycling, and transit are the best choices for most trips, where public spaces are beautiful, well-designed, and well-maintained, and where housing is more plentiful and more affordable.)

Boom! (the sound of eviction)

Fun/Cheap San Francisco (cool and affordable things to do in the san francisco bay area)

Friends of the Urban Forest (creating a greener San Francisco tree by tree)

SF Gro (San Francisco garden resource organization)

I’ll have more to say on this subject in the future.

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Posted in anti-suburbanization, Castro Street, Gavin Newsom, gentrification, Halloween in the Castro, Halloween party, life, quality of life, San Francisco, SFPD, The Castro | 2 Comments »