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Archive for the ‘hipsters’ Category

San Francisco and hipsters

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

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

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

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

Sage advice from an asshole laureate

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on November 24, 2013

I never thought I’d be quoting advice from Willie Brown, former Speaker of the California State Assembly and ex-SF mayor, who once praised Peoples Temple cult leader Jim Jones and then feared that he might be assassinated when Jones went rogue, and whose response to having the Bay Bridge named after him is “aw shucks.” The man has an ego that can’t be contained by his city of residence, yet this cautionary bit from his regular SF Chronicle column (11-23-13) is worth repeating. Under the title “Techies must nip growing scorn in bud:”

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There’s a war brewing in the streets of San Francisco, and a lot of people could get caught up in it if the tech world doesn’t start changing its self-centered culture.

Every day in every way, from rising rents to rising prices at restaurants to its private buses, the tech world is becoming an object of scorn. It’s only a matter of time before the techies’ youthful lustre fades, and they’re seen as just another extension of Wall Street.

And when that happens, tenant advocates, community activists, labor unions and Occupy types are going to start asking why we’re giving away the city to all these white-male-dominated businesses that don’t even hire locals.

At which point, the politicians will do what they always do – count votes. And by my last count, for all of their hype and money, tech types were still a decidedly small part of the vote. If they even vote at all.

What the tech world needs to do is nip this thorny plant in the bud. They need to come off their high cloud efforts to save Africa or wherever they take adventure vacations and start making things better for folks right here.

They need to start helping in Hunters Point and in Chinatown.

Most of all, they need to start hiring locals.

Otherwise, the next time it comes to a tax measure or a vote at the Planning Commission, they could find themselves getting skinned.

The tech industry’s utter lack of empathy for the city that has become its “home away from home,” indeed, its willingness to befoul its own nest so to speak, not only is unsound in an ecological sense, it speaks to the monumental hubris of what SF Chronicle business writer Andrew S. Ross calls “new money.” In his article “Old money winning face-off over Presidio museum,” (11-23-13) Ross opines: “Here’s what Lucas’ supporters need to get, not to mention Lucas himself. It’s what one critic called “an aroma of hubris” surrounding the project. Or what others have more generally described as Silicon Valley “arrogance,” which Conway’s letter smacked of.”

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Whether specifically in the battle between George Lucas versus old San Francisco money over what will become of San Francisco’s Presidio, or more generally in the battle between tech interests versus the rest of San Francisco over the reshaping of this city, the arrogance and hubris of “new money” or the tech industry or what have you is stunning. You can see it in the techies and hipsters who wander about the Mission, oblivious to their surroundings as their influx raises rents and gentrifies the neighborhood. Its time for the rebels to strike back.

Posted in gentrification, hipsters, life, San Francisco, San Francisco Chronicle, tech industry, techies, The Presidio | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

…praying for the next dot com bust…

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on November 13, 2013

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A rising tide lifts all boats

So goes the old adage. The problem with a wise old saying such as the above, aside from amounting to a cliché, is that its also only half true. David Korten wrote in Agenda for a New Economy that “The idea that economic growth will bring up the bottom and finance environmental restoration has no substance. The so-called rising tide lifts only the yachts and swamps the desperate, naked swimmers struggling for survival, and no amount of money can heal the environment in the face of unrestrained growth in material consumption.” (2d. ed., p.42) William Pfaff, in an article entitled “Restoring balance to a globalized world,” (NYT, 6-4-7) makes a similar argument that, contrary to neoclassical economic theory, the most celebrated economic policies over the last 20 to 30 years are also the most counterproductive. Such policies do nothing to raise the living standards of the world’s poorest, but instead have guaranteed that the wealth of the richest members of all the world’s countries have reached astronomical proportions. This process has resulted in “the most profoundly destabilizing force the world has experienced since World War II,” responsible for “the social upheavals and progress of radicalization occurring in the world’s poor countries.”

The new adage should read: A rising tide drowns those with no yachts or A rising tide drowns those without boats.

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During the height of the last dot com bubble, around the end of 1999, I was looking for work as an IT professional in the tech industry. Some of my job search took me for interviews into West Oakland, at the time ground zero for the dot com bubble in the East Bay. Tech companies and start ups were moving into West Oakland, renting property, sometimes taking over whole blocks, displacing the poor black residents, and creating often well-fortified enclaves for their young white techie work forces. I remember interviewing at one startup housed in a renovated brick warehouse/residency that had more front door security than your average bank, with security cameras and pass cards. The side lot was surrounded by hurricane fencing topped with razor wire. The brand spanking new interior was all flashy colors, with places for the techies to store their bikes, play a variety of games like ping pong, cook and eat their meals, and even sleep between all night bouts of coding. Youngsters half my age zipped around from station to station on kick scooters. I was applying for the position of a server administrator, and part of my orientation for the potential job was being shown my own little cubby where I could sleep. It was made clear that I was expected to spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on the job, if necessary, as required by the young white techie workforce who, similarly, came in at any time day or night and spent 10, 15, 20 plus hours straight working on their respective projects. These tech geeks didn’t have a life, and I wasn’t expected to have a life either. The whole place had a fortress feel to it, plopped down in the middle of West Oakland’s crime and drug ridden ghetto, an affluent sanctuary, an all white high tech island surrounded by black poverty and misery. I got the call back for a second interview, but I never returned.

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The dot com bubble of 1997-2000 ended with a profound collapse as tech companies went bankrupt and startups failed. Dot com enterprises and workers fled West Oakland, disappearing almost overnight, leaving the community with rising levels of crime, drugs and poverty. Although West Oakland is statistically undifferentiated from the rest of Oakland, the rate of homicide reached its highest in more than a decade by 2006. The tech industry as a whole, particular dot com companies, and their IT workers were interlopers in West Oakland. They took over property and displaced people, but they didn’t give back to the community, either with time, energy, resources or wealth. When the dot com economy crashed and burned in 2000, West Oakland had not been improved. Indeed, it can be argued that it was left worse off than before its presence because the tech industry did nothing to better the community, abandoning it to rot in the intervening bubble period.

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There is a new dot com bubble brewing. Now that I live in San Francisco, I see signs of it everywhere. The cost of office space is skyrocketing, and the median price for a home has topped $1 million and “is directly tied to the strength of the Bay Area’s largely tech-fueled job market.” Evictions and gentrification are a concern not only in San Francisco’s Mission District, but in the City as a whole. Then, there is the introduction of several rather unsavory elements into San Francisco’s population at large.

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Hipsters are proliferating throughout the City, taking over whole neighborhoods. Christian Lorentzen has argued that: “[u]nder the guise of ‘irony,’ hipsterism fetishizes the authentic and regurgitates it with a winking inauthenticity. Those 18-to-34-year-olds called hipsters have defanged, skinned and consumed the fringe movements of the postwar era—Beat, hippie, punk, even grunge. Hungry for more, and sick with the anxiety of influence, they feed as well from the trough of the uncool, turning white trash chic, and gouging the husks of long-expired subcultures—vaudeville, burlesque, cowboys and pirates.” Congregating with their own in high priced coffee shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, their sullenness, cliquishness, self-centered narcissism, and incapacity to give to the greater community are legendary. Then there are the techies proper. Even wealthier and less diverse than hipsters, these tech workers are often targeted for the same hatred as their hipster cousins. Insulated from the rest of their fellow humans, their neighborhoods, their communities, and the rest of the world by their iPads, iPods, iPhones, computer notebooks, etc., techies travel to and from their jobs (where they work long, long hours) riding in private buses with air conditioning, tinted windows, and uninterrupted wifi. Google, Yahoo and Genentech buses cruise the streets of San Francisco, full of self-absorbed tech zombies. “What’s happening to San Francisco [as a result of this tech invasion] goes beyond the accelerating gentrification in multicultural districts like the Mission or Mayor Ed Lee minimizing affordable housing woes. The city that’s been a magnet for free spirits and immigrants and working-class people for decades seems to be losing its famous heart. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that its heart is being replaced by a software update.” So writes Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet. “Meanwhile, hundreds more longtime residents have been put on notice for possible eviction. The Tenants Union says that the Mission, Haight-Ashbury, North Beach and Inner Richmond neighborhoods are the hardest hit, with upward of 100 households a month losing their longterm housing through a mix of evictions and paid buyouts, most of which aren’t recorded in city hall statistics.”

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The tech industry as a whole, tech companies from the established to the startup, and their tech workers give nothing back to their neighborhoods or to the city of San Francisco. Instead, they gut their environment of its unique character, its soul, replacing it with an ersatz, gentrified, high tech, sterilized imitation. Much the same can be said of their hipster cousins and their so-called “culture.” Is it any wonder that I sometimes pray for the next dot com bust?

Posted in dot com, gentrification, hipsters, life, Millions of Dead Hipsters!, Oakland, San Francisco, techies, The Mission, West Oakland | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Millions of Dead Hipsters!

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on November 8, 2013

Millions of Dead Hipsters!

Millions of Dead Hipsters!


Its official. According to Forbes, the Mission in San Francisco is the second best hipster neighborhood in the country. Huffington Post concurs.
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But there’s trouble in the burgeoning hipster paradise of the Mission. San Francisco columnist Carl Nolte writes with a touch of sadness that tensions are mounting between the Latino population already in the neighborhood and the invading hipsters, who bring with them artisanal coffee shops, pricy restaurants, and higher rents. There has already been vandalism and outright protest against the influx of hipsters. Oh my, can’t we all just get along?
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Gabriela Sierra Alonso writes, in an article in El Tecolote, that tensions in the Mission are high and about to reach the boiling point over “pent up frustrations about gentrification—for longtime Mission residents and newcomers alike.” The changing demographics of the Mission have claimed another victim, the city’s dwindling black population. Driven out of the Fillmore by urban renewal (called “negro removal” by the black community) in the 1950s and 60s, Jimmy Falls has started an occasional series in New American Media called “San Francisco’s Black Community — Where Did We Go?” where he writes “During that time, I would sometimes come back to my neighborhood to hang out with old friends, and I began to notice the same thing happening to my new neighborhood in the Mission — there seemed to be less and less black people.”
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There is something folks can do. Fight Back! Gentrification by more than just hipsters is now on the agenda for the Mission, according to the SF Chronicle and the SF Bay Guardian. In response, there are growing protests to the Mission’s corporate gentrification, as exemplified by the eviction of local families and small businesses. But, more can be done.
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BuzzFeed FWD recently posted “When San Francisco Rebelled Against The Techies” offering a brief history of the “city’s anti-tech backlash.” Inspirational posters from previous uprisings against yuppie/hipster invasions can be viewed there, as well as here. Take heart, a solution to the hipster infestation and corporate gentrification of the Mission may be just a cocktail away. A Molotov cocktail…
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Posted in El Tecolote, gentrification, hipsters, life, Millions of Dead Hipsters!, New American Media, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle, The Mission | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »