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Archive for the ‘Bay Area’ Category

Fuck the Super Bowl!

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on February 5, 2016

Huffpost Impact article:

Protestors Want San Francisco To ‘Tackle Homelessness’ Before Super Bowl
“You can spend $5 million on a big half time party. You can spend $5 million on a big show. But you can’t feed homeless people?”

Krithika Varagur
Associate Editor, What’s Working, The Huffington Post

A woman holds up a pair of signs as police look on during a protest to demand city officials do more to help homeless people outside Super Bowl City, a pro-football's weeklong theme park near the famed Ferry Building in San Francisco on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. Dozens protested what they say is San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee's plan to push homeless people out of the scenic bay-front Embarcadero, where Super Bowl festivities are being held. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

A woman holds up a pair of signs as police look on during a protest to demand city officials do more to help homeless people outside Super Bowl City, a pro-football’s weeklong theme park near the famed Ferry Building in San Francisco on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. Dozens protested what they say is San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s plan to push homeless people out of the scenic bay-front Embarcadero, where Super Bowl festivities are being held. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

As the host of this weekend’s Super Bowl, San Francisco has spared no expense, erecting a huge “Super Bowl City” compound for the event.

This perceived excess angered homeless advocates in the Bay Area, a few hundred of whom protested at the compound on Wednesday afternoon, according to KTVU. They asked the city to spend more money on its thousands of homeless residents.

“You can spend $5 million on a big half time party. You can spend $5 million on a big show. But you can’t feed homeless people?” asked a protestor named Joshua Shrader, according to Time.

The protesters set up a “tent city” outside the Super Bowl City compound and were fairly orderly. The organizers, led by the Coalition on Homelessness, met with police to set its parameters beforehand, according to SF Gate. They called for San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to invest $5 million, the approximate cost of the Super Bowl, in housing and social services for homeless people.

Lee has become unpopular among homeless advocates for saying, with regards to homeless people during the Super Bowl, “They are going to have to leave.”

The city has been accused of moving homeless people out of sight to keep up appearances before the Super Bowl. In response, city officials say they are only trying to help the homeless during severe El Niño rains.

“Our only goal is to help people in out of the rain, and it has nothing to do with the Super Bowl,” Trent Rhorer, head of the city’s Human Services Agency, told SF Gate.

But Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, told Time that homeless people are being illegally searched, cleared from encampments, and ticketed for arbitrary offenses like “sitting or lying.”

By the protest’s end, many homeless people left to find places to sleep for the night, according to SF Gate. One 61-year-old homeless woman, Cynthia Lee, told the news outlet, “I think if San Francisco has money to throw at the Super Bowl — even if it brings in tax money — they should give us places to live.”

INDEPTH SUPER BOWL ARTICLE
from 48Hills by Tim Redmond

Posted in Bay Area, homeless, life, poverty, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, SFGate | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Aroma Tea Shop, San Francisco

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on February 3, 2016

Aroma Tea 6th Ave

I can’t imagine how I missed this place until now.

Aroma Tea Shop inside

Aroma Tea is a quirky—inside and out—tea shop on 6th Avenue in the Inner Richmond. The owners are eccentric yet extremely knowledgeable, traveling often to China to select and buy the teas they sell.

Colorful Teas Multiple Varieties

It’s “all tea all the time” here, with the varieties of tea in wildly packaged tins. The selection is outstanding; black/red, oolong, jasmine, green, white, pu-erh, even herbal. They have daily tea tasting during business hours where you can sample the teas you wish to buy, which also means looking over and smelling the leaves.

Aroma Tea owner

They have two locations:

302 6th Ave @ Clement St.
San Francisco, CA 94118
415.668.3788
Everyday 11am—7pm

845 Washington St.
San Francisco, CA 94108
415.362.6588
Everyday 10:30am—6pm

Tea Tasting

The first time I visited yesterday I purchased 2 ounces of premium white tea. I’ll be back for more.

Posted in Bay Area, life, Paris of the West, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

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

This is a fucking excellent comic. Enough said.
Susie Gagle 1
Susie Cagle 2
Susie Cagle 3
Susie Cagle 4
Susie Cagle 5
Susie Cagle 6
This comic, “San Francisco’s Class War, By the Numbers,” by Susie Cagle, can be found in its entirety here. Fucking brilliant!

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

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

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

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

DEFEND THE BAY AREA!

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

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

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

Free screening.
Some food and drink will be provided.

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

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

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

Free screening.Some food and drink will be provided.

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

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

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

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

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

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

San Francisco, Paris of the West, part 4

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on October 23, 2013

Consider this an extension to part 3 of this series.

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Before I get to the subject matter proper, let me note something right off the bat about my comparisons between San Francisco and Paris. San Francisco is exactly 231.89 square miles and approximately 825,863 in population as of 2012. Paris is 40.7 square miles, with approximately 2,234,000 people as of 2013. The density of Paris is 54,899/square mile, as compared to 17,620/square mile for San Francisco. Both urban experiences are very different from one to another. Ambling about San Francisco neighborhoods with one, two, at most three story houses which, if Victorian and no matter how quaint, are rarely older than the beginning of the 20th century or mid-19th century earliest, is quite different from strolling comparable Parisian neighborhoods of consistently four, five or six story tall apartment blocks, ranging from the 1600s to the 1800s in age. It’s often said that both San Francisco and Paris are walking cities. Yet the sense to walking each is quite distinct.

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Now, The Castro. There’s no precise geographic definition of “The Castro” as such, given that the concentration of gay people around Castro Street from 19th Street to Market is the focus of a much larger gay community that extends up to Eureka Street, over to at 22nd Street, and down Market Street past Dolores to straddle Church Street. Some contend that the community goes past Guerrero Street into parts of the Mission, over to Noe Valley and Corona Heights, up to Twin Peaks, and across to the Haight-Ashbury, with incursions into the Duboce Triangle and Dolores Heights. With the rather nebulous geography to this designation, I’ll roughly spiral out from its iconic center, The Castro Theatre at 429 Castro Street. The Theatre has been in the neighborhood for over a century, with a Spanish Colonial Baroque façade and massive neon sign, and a luxurious and ornate single screen interior with subtly convex and concave art deco walls and ceiling, plus the dark, capacious balcony. The “Mighty Wurlitzer” pipe organ rises from the orchestra pit and is played before films and events, as well as nightly just for fun. The Castro Theatre is host to various special events; singalongs, film festivals (most notably, Frameline and the Jewish Film Festival), actor and author speaking engagements and the like. In contrast to Paris, San Francisco is gradually losing its cinema culture. The Castro Theatre is helping to hold the line against this loss.

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Cliff’s Variety Store is right down the street, and has been there for 75 years. This is more than a hardware store. If you can’t find it at Cliff’s, good chance it doesn’t exist. In the Boy Scouts, Tenderfoots were sent out to other campfires to find “left-handed smoke turners,” as a prank. Good chance Cliff’s has those, too. There is nothing like Cliff’s, not even in Paris. This matrix along Castro Street from Market Street to 19th Street, and from Diamond Street to Noe Street, contains at least a dozen full-on bars, making these eight plus blocks one of the most intense party scenes in San Francisco. Which makes the existence of the Hartford Street Zen Center (57 Hartford St) all that more remarkable. Sister center to the San Francisco Zen Center, imagine attending the Friday night Hartford Street Zen Meditation & Recovery Meeting, based on Buddhist and AA principles, in the heart of the Castro, among throngs of alcohol-crazed revelers. A truly extraordinary experience. I mean, drinking is everywhere in Paris. People drink mostly wine and mostly with meals, and less often other types of alcohol at bars. Zen centers and AA groups can also be found in Paris, of course. But there is a frenzy to American alcohol use, and abuse, that is hard to find anywhere in French culture.

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Food is a big part of French culture, and its large on Castro Street as well. I’ll briefly mention my favorite places, the ones I frequent often. Frapez Spa (4092 18th St) is a fruit and vegetable smoothie bar that I hit three times a week, right after gym, for a healthy and filling 20 oz drink. The Anchor Oyster Bar (579 Castro St) has been in the neighborhood for 35+ years, offering fresh oysters, fish, crabs, shrimp, etc. The New England clam chowder and the chappino are particularly good. Buffalo Whole Food & Grain Co (598 Castro St) is a great little organic foods grocery with fresh vegetables inside, fresh fruit outside, and also a wall of supplements. Finally, there’s Spike’s Coffee and Teas (4117 19th St) where I regularly get my green tea. I can set up my laptop and work away (no wifi!) or read the NYT or just people watch. Plus, I have a card where I can pay in advance.

2013-03-01 16.49.50BooksBookshelves1-300x225
What’s great about living in a neighborhood in San Francisco or Paris is that you’re in a village where you can meet most of your needs within easy walking distance. Case in point, Pioneer Renewer (4501 18th St), an old school shoe repair shop where I’ve had a half dozen of my shoes stretched to fit. The place is great, from the goofy decorations to the gruff old cobbler who takes care of my shoes. Then there’s Books & Bookshelves (99 Sanchez St) where you can find unfinished wood furniture and shelves of poetry books, perhaps the widest collection of poetry up to and including City Lights in North Beach!

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A couple additions to my “village” are the Immune Enhancement Project (3450 16th St) and Ike’s Place (3489 16th St). The former offers therapeutic massage and acupuncture (both of which I’ve extensively used) and the latter has a monster menu of over 50 sandwiches (many of which I’ve sampled), plus 4 additional locations. The therapies at IEP are common fare in Europe, whereas Ike’s cuisine is quite unique, as attested to by the lines around the block at lunch.

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Church Street is another main commercial drag in the Castro area. Aardvark Books (227 Church St) reminds me of the San Francisco Book Company in the 6th Arrondissement, a store crammed floor to ceiling with used books from cheap paperbacks to collectors editions. There’s also graphic novels, comics, magazines and new books. Like a lot of used bookstores in SF, this place is hanging on by a thread.

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We’re back on the food tip now, with references to Paris. Chow (215 Church St) is a decent enough local restaurant, unremarkable by San Francisco standards, let alone Parisian. It’s part of a San Francisco micro-chain. Thorough Bread and Pastry (248 Church St) rivals a good Paris patisserie/boulangerie, with its selection of sweet and savory baked goods, artisan breads and sandwiches. This place has tables but somewhat limited hours. Further up the street, there’s the completely unique Chile Pies (314 Church St), a sweet and savory pie shop that offers sit down and take out meals based on, what else, pie. There’s ice cream as well. It’s an offshoot of Green Chile Kitchen, so look for the big neon “PIE” sign. Further along still, there’s Samovar Tea Lounge (498 Sanchez Street). Lots of folks on the Eurasian continent love their tea, and as a consequence, make a ceremony out of drinking tea. The Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Russians, British, and lastly, the French, are all keen for tea and ritual tea drinking. I found Parisian thé shops and cafes, while certainly more interesting than their British counterparts, just as limited, with a preference for perfumed teas. Samovar is no great shakes regarding the food it serves, which is small portioned and expensive. What is marvelous here are the teas. A half dozen each of green teas, white teas, black teas, oolongs, pu-ehr teas on a changing menu. Excellent.

374160531_4bd6d77171dolores-park-playgrounddolores-parksan-francisco-mime-troupe-july-4th-opening-flickr-photo-sharing
Our final destination is Mission Dolores Park. Unlike the managed and controlled French and British gardens/parks, in which man’s mastery over nature is evident, American gardens and parks are studies in “nature,” with a pretense to “wildness.” Grass is omnipresent, and meant to be walked on, sat on, picnicked on, etc. There are official tennis courts, a basketball court, a soccer area, and an extensive modern playground for the kiddies. There’s also an old clubhouse with restrooms. The unofficial areas of the park include gay beach (for sun bathing), hipster hill (millions of dead hipsters, please!), dog hill (watch out for dog shit), etc. The park’s microclimate is usually sunny and warm, perfect for the regular SF Mime Troupe performances by day, the Symphony performances, and the big screen Opera rebroadcasts in the evening. This is a magnificent resource for not just the neighborhood, but the entire city of San Francisco.

Posted in Aardvark Books, Anchor Oyster Bar, Bay Area, Books & Bookshelves, Buffalo Whole Food & Grain, Castro Street, Castro Theatre, Chile Pies, Chow Restaurant, City of Light, Cliff's Variety Store, Eureka Valley, Frameline, France, Frapez Spa, gay, Hartford Street Zen Center, Ike's Place, Immune Enhancement Project, independent bookstores, Jewish Film Festival, LGBT, life, Mission Dolores Park, Paris, Paris of the West, Parisian cafes, Pioneer Renewer, Samovar Tea Lounge, San Francisco, San Francisco Book Company, San Francisco Mime Troupe, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Zen Center, series, Spike's Coffee and Teas, The Castro, Thorough Bread and Pastry | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

San Francisco, Paris of the West, part 2

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on October 14, 2013

The-Dinosaur-One
In an alternate evolutionary scenario, the asteroid that slammed into the Earth some 66 million years ago to create the Chicxulub crater, enshroud the planet in a decades long “nuclear winter,” cause the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs, and bring about the rise of the mammals never happened. The large dinosaurs grew bigger, more competitive and fewer, leading to the virtual extinction of all their smaller cousins and competing mammals. Then, in a further evolutionary twist, a handful of ultra-dinosaurs developed and all but wiped out the large dinosaurs, leaving only a scattering of small dinosaurs and mammals to survive across a gutted planet.

The somewhat flawed analogy here is to bookstores.

When I was growing up, and aside from paperback book racks in every drugstore and mom-and-pop bookshops, small, medium and large bookstores abounded. Then came the book chains—the Pickwicks, Crown, B Daltons, Borders, and Barnes & Nobles. Following Marx’s inescapable logic of capitalist competition, the bookstore chains grew and competed and killed each other off, until only two monopolies remained; Borders and Barnes & Nobles. In the process, virtually all the smaller bookstores disappeared or were done in. When I last visited NYC, Barnes & Noble was on every other block, and bookstores like Forbidden Planet had been unceremoniously killed off. Then, Amazon, the mega-monopoly, arose. Borders bit the dust, and sickly Barnes & Nobles is holding on by a thread. In the cracks left by this “free market” debacle, there are still small bookstores left, but they are non-existent in some places, and few and far between in other locations.

SanFrancisco
So now we’re in the present, both here in San Francisco and in Paris. Paris first. As I posted below, there are three well-known English-language bookstores in Paris, and the San Francisco Book Company has kindly provided this link to a list of some 240 plus bookstores in the 6th Arrondissemont alone. In Paris, France, where the bourgeoisie rose to power and ushered in modern capitalism, chain bookstores are held at bay and independent bookshops of all sizes and shapes are alive and well.

Not so in San Francisco. Borders is gone, and Barnes & Noble has been reduced to four stores scattered in Bay Area cities immediately surrounding San Francisco. In the process of the demise of these two monopolies, a number of other local independent bookstores went belly up; Stacy’s, Clean Well Lighted, Cody’s… Amidst the carnage however, small indie bookstores have survived and some still thrive in the Bay Area. In my three neighborhoods, three bookstores of note pursue differing strategies for survival.

booksmith
In the Haight, and aside from the very limited, anarchist specific Bound Together Books, there’s Booksmith. Booksmith is a full-service, full-hour, full-inventory destination bookshop that is a wonder to browse. It’s a stand alone bookstore with book events, author signings, literature readings, etc.

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Phoenix Books in Noe Valley is part of a small, local, one-owner chain of used bookstores that also sells new books. This indie chain includes Alley Cat Books, Badger Books, and Dog-Eared Books. Phoenix survived the death of Cover-to-Cover and the Mystery Bookstore in Noe Valley and was recently sold to a local buyer to keep the rest of the chain solvent. Unfortunately, Zoltar, the gypsy fortune teller, will not be staying.

market
Finally, there’s Books, Inc in the Castro/Eureka Valley neighborhood; gay-oriented, but still very much a full-service bookstore that weathered the death of A Different Light bookstore. Books Inc is an example of a mini-chain that is bigger than just San Francisco. Bay Area wide, Books Inc is a regional success story, with stores at SFO, the Ferry Building and surrounding cities, that hasn’t gotten too big for its britches. It also has book events, author readings and signings, and the like.

Books Inc is part of IndieBound, a consortium of independent bookstores which uses Kobo, the ebook reader as an alternative to Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook. I own a Kobo, and I’m proud to support local, independent bookstores.

Posted in Barnes & Noble, Bay Area, Books Inc, Booksmith, Borders Books, Bound Together Books, Chicxulub and dinosaur extinction, City of Light, Eureka Valley, Haight-Ashbury, independent bookstores, IndieBound, Kobo, life, Noe Valley, Paris, Paris of the West, Phoenix Books, San Francisco, San Francisco Book Company, series | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Still no plan

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on October 10, 2007

There’s still no plan for how the city hopes to deal with Halloween in the Castro. It’s like watching a train wreck, in slow motion. You know it’s going to be mayhem, yet you can’t help but watch the disaster unfold.

Posted in Bay Area, Castro Street, Citizens for Halloween, Gavin Newsom, Halloween in the Castro, Halloween party, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco mayor, SFPD, The Castro | 1 Comment »

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 »

Coyote ugly

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 26, 2007

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Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Personal issues got the better of my time, but now I’m back with a followup to the shooting of two coyotes in Golden Gate Park. All the stories come from the San Francisco Chronicle.

First, there’s this about the fact that city dwellers often must share their urban space with a lot of wildlife, not just coyotes but raccoons, skunks, squirrels, bats, opossums, foxes, etc. Frequently, there are clashes between this vestigial wildlife that’s just trying to survive, and the humans who presume to have dominion over everything. Needless to say, the wildlife loses out most of the time.

Then, there’s this story that coyotes get underfoot in many urban settings, from southern California to Chicago, and not just San Francisco. An interesting side story is that the supposedly wild geese around Oakland’s Lake Merritt have become such a nuisance, or to be exact, their shit has become such a health hazard, that city officials are looking for ways to control the birds, to include importing coyotes as predators.

SF Animal Control officials speculate that the Golden Gate Park coyotes that supposedly attacked two leashed dogs were being regularly fed raw meat by humans, in violation of park regulations. The regular feedings made them more aggressive, it is claimed. Finally, a female coyote pup was found dead, apparently run over by a car, near where the two other coyotes were shot and killed. This seems to support the claim by pro-coyote folks that the two coyotes that were shot were simply protecting their young.

Posted in Bay Area, coyotes, coyotes in San Francisco, Golden Gate Park, life, Nature in the City, Oakland, racoons, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco Chronicle, urban wildlife, wildlife | 1 Comment »

Chicken John for Mayor

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

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Here’s the SF Chronicle‘s story on Chicken John’s bid for the mayor of San Francisco. It also mentions other “fringe” candidate like Josh Wolf. I didn’t knew that, because of Jello Biafra’s run for mayor in 1979, Chicken John will have to use his real name, John Rivaldi, on the ballot.

Posted in Bay Area, Chicken John, Gavin Newsom, Jello Biafra, John Rivaldi, Josh Wolf, Mayoral election, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area | 1 Comment »

New Deal in the East Bay

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

I’m often stunned by the turn to the right that politics in this country has taken in the last twenty-five years. And I lived through Nixon’s presidency. It’s been said that Richard Nixon was our last great liberal president, in that he still had a fundamental commitment to the policies and principles of the New Deal. The turn to the right I’m talking about is the one that began with Ronald Reagan, a turn away from the New Deal and all it represented in government planning and intervention, towards the fool’s paradise of free markets. The social infrastructure of the country has been deliberately underfunded and allowed to crumble, providing the justification for increased privatization of social services and government functions. So successful has this conservative counterrevolution been, there are proposals to replace Franklin Roosevelt’s portrait on the dime with that of Ronald Reagan.

Which brings me to this story in the Berkeley Daily Planet, about the not-so-hidden New Deal legacy to be found in the East Bay.

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A recent wedding party at the Berkeley Rose Garden, one of the many local New Deal projects. Photograph by Gray Brechin.

Posted in Bay Area, Berkeley, Berkeley Daily Planet, East Bay, Franklin D. Roosevelt, life, New Deal, Oakland, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, San Francisco Bay Area | Leave a Comment »

Oaktown revisited

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 22, 2007

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People talk shit about Oakland: poverty-stricken, crime-ridden, gang-plagued, drug-infested, with a brutal police department and a corrupt city government. I moved to Oakland when I came up to the Bay Area in 1991, and I thoroughly enjoyed the eleven years I lived in the city. I spent many a “dark night of the soul” walking about downtown or around Lake Merritt, grieving after my parents died. Not once was I mugged or robbed or even harassed. I liked Oaktown’s racial diversity and pleasant weather and radical history and the fact that I was only a BART ride away from Berkeley or San Francisco.

I didn’t like Mayor Jerry Brown much. I considered him a faux progressive and a crass opportunist. I have a soft spot for Ron Dellums ever since the Vietnam War years, but he seems to be struggling to find his stride as the new mayor. He is criticized for being an absentee mayor, a charge that he denies. His website features a report of his accomplishments in his first six months in office. Maybe I’m a sucker, but I’m willing to give Mayor Dellums a little more time to prove himself.

Posted in Bay Area, Jerry Brown, life, Oakland, Oaktown, politics, Ron Dellums, San Francisco Bay Area | 1 Comment »

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 »

The problem with progressives #1

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 19, 2007

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Why is it that progressives think that the best person to rally the troops and lead them to victory is the guy who lost the last time around?

Beyondchron.com in the Bay Area is a mind-numbing example of this problem, with hopeful stories about momentum building for Al Gore to enter the presidential race and the potential for Matt Gonzalez to reunify the SF Left by running for mayor against Gavin Newsom.

Excuse me, but isn’t winning the point? And didn’t these guys demonstrate an inability to do so? In Europe, when the leader of a political party presides over the defeat of his party, frequently the leader steps down and lets someone else have a go at it. Something to consider.

Posted in Al Gore, Bay Area, Chris Daly, Gavin Newsom, life, Matt Gonzalez, Mayoral election, politics, presidential election, progressives, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, the Left | 1 Comment »

What was, what will be

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 14, 2007

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The above map is of the San Francisco peninsula in the 19th century, showing the creeks and original shoreline, before all the development and landfill.

Below are a couple of maps of the San Francisco Bay Area’s future, if sea levels continue to rise as predicted.

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(Sources: 19th Century Map, Sea-level maps)

Posted in 19th century coastline, Bay Area, life, maps, rising sea levels, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay, sea level | 2 Comments »