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Archive for the ‘San Francisco Bay Guardian’ Category

A techie walks into a bar…

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

…And the whole thing is a joke!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anti-Techie backlash: bus blockade tactic

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

So I’m walking around Market Street, doing a bit of extra exercise between my workout sessions, when I encounter this sticker on a newspaper kiosk near the corner of Church Street.
GAM_scum1GAM_scum2
Its an old slogan (“Die Yuppie Scum!”) updated for present realities in San Francisco. The techies flooding into the City have become a lightning rod for local frustration, discontent, protest, and worse. In particular, those Apple, Google, and Genentech buses seen cruising the city’s streets have become prime targets. On December 20, four separate incidents involving blockades and/or attacks on tech buses occurred in Oakland and San Francisco, according to the SF Chronicle. People peacefully surrounded and briefly detained buses at MacArthur BART Station in Oakland and the 24th Street and Mission BART Station in San Francisco. At 7th and Adeline streets near the West Oakland BART Station, violence greeted another bus, rocks and bottles were thrown, and window was shattered and tires were slashed.
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Video can be found here. These protests, nonviolent and violent, follow a bus blockade on December 9 in the Mission, covered here. The folks staging this protest called themselves the San Francisco Displacement and Neighborhood Impact Agency, and sighted the following reasons for their protest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From $4 toast to $1 billion plus Warriors arena

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on November 9, 2013

The price of living in San Francisco has always been high. But lately, the cost has been escalating rapidly, and guess who’s getting stuck with the bill?
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Jolie O’Dell wrote a humorous op-ed piece for Venture Beat based on having a $6 coffee and toast breakfast at The Mill in San Francisco. The toast alone was $4! She argues that the tech industry is ruining San Francisco, and offers the following cycle for how the tech community is fucking up the City:

Here’s the cycle:

1) Someone creates a business for consumers with too much money and pretensions of superior taste. It might be a physical good, like toast; it might be a service, like black-car, chauffeured rides.
2) Tech folks, being one of the largest demographics in the city with ample disposable income, patronize, promote, and even invest in said business. (See: Blue Bottle coffee.)
3) Aforementioned business prospers and grows its profile.
4) People both within and outside the tech community are inspired to create more bourgie businesses that cater to the bored and overprivileged, peppering their descriptions with buzzwords like “organic” and “fair trade” and “artisanal,” the most meaningless of them all. Rarely are these goods and services truly accessible and affordable.
5) San Francisco becomes saturated with overpriced crap that is comparable in quality to less overpriced crap.
6) Middle class and working class families and individuals in the community find themselves priced out of goods and services. Small businesses in those sectors languish.

Jolie makes an excellent point, one that Eddie Kurtz of Courage Campaign translated into a housing petition to demand that Mayor Ed Lee stop catering to the 1% at the expense of the rest of San Francisco: “Sign on and tell Mayor Lee: San Francisco became one of the greatest cities in the world because it valued the working class. Unless you change course, our vibrant, diverse city will become a memory. Mayor Lee please stop catering to the 1% and start fighting for an affordable San Francisco.
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Not that the petition will do much good. Mayor Ed Lee has made securing and building the Warriors arena for San Francisco the primary task of his administration. But the proposal for the Warriors arena is not only evolving, it’s costs are piling up. The cost for rehabilitating the aging piers upon which the arena will sit is estimated to be $170 million. And the cost for building the actual arena will likely top $1 billion. Sports stadiums always require subsidies from the taxpayers in order to be built and operated. They rarely make money. They are not a good deal, all the way around, for the city in question or the taxpayers of that city. C.W. Nevius, who was a stooge for the 8 Washington developer, is now toadie and apologist for the promoters of the Warriors arena proposal. While the Warriors are playing hardball, opposition is beginning to mount against the arena. You can check out an opposition Facebook page here, and a change.org petition against the arena can be found here. The arguments accompanying the anti-arena petition are as follows:

Uniqueness

The Warriors Project should not be built on Pier 30-32 because Pier 30-32 is a very unique piece of property. Pier 30-32 belongs to the state land trust. Pier 30-32 should therefore serve all Californians as public access to the SF Bay. The proposed Project will strip this part of waterfront of its uniqueness.

Traffic

The Embarcadero cannot support any more traffic. The Embarcadero is already congested due to Giants games, The Ferry Building Farmers’ Market, the cruise ship terminal, the Exploratorium and Pier 38 (once open for business). The Embarcadero is the only access to all of those waterfront locations, and it has reached its capacity for traffic.

Views

The Warriors Project will greatly obstruct both San Francisco Bay and Bay Bridge views. The Warriors Project does not need water access. Other acceptable sites to build this project are available.

Pollution

Noise is also a form of unacceptable pollution, and we are already enduring noise coming from loud fans, fireworks, ground and air traffic during Giants games, concerts and other events. Another arena in such close proximity would most likely double the already unacceptable noise pollution.

Given the amounts of unacceptable levels of plastic and garbage that end up in the SF Bay after every Giants game, it is clear that the adverse environmental impact on our Bay would only increase.

Posted in 1%, C.W. Nevius, life, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay, San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle, tech industry, Warriors arena | 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…
myep1myep4

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 »

San Francisco or Manhattan? The future of San Francisco.

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on November 7, 2013

“The developers always win in the end.”

Taneyhill’s Rule

The voters of San Francisco soundly defeated Propositions B and C on November 5, 2013, thereby preventing the construction of the 8 Washington condominium development on the waterfront. At least temporarily. I give this caveat because of the above famous rule, propounded by an equally famous pundit. The proposed 8 Washington development called for the construction of 134 luxury condos, selling for up to 5 million a condo, surrounded by parkland with nominal public access. I use the term nominal because, depending on who one referenced, the parkland around 8 Washington was to be “as good as” public space, or a fiefdom owned, controlled and policed by the condo development. The 8 Washington site can be found here, but the link probably won’t be up for long given the ignominious defeat of this project. This is what 8 Washington would have looked like, according to models, plans and artist renditions:
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8 Washinton 2013
8 Washinton 2012-thumbsiteplan_popin
The plan to develop 8 Washington immediately provoked local opposition by various individuals, groups and segments of the population. The whole proposal was quickly dubbed “The Wall,” and resistance quickly consolidated into an organized movement (No Wall on the Waterfront). I will not pretend to objectivity regarding 8 Washington, which I also called The Wall. I was against it. There’s plenty of information out there on the web to be had backing up my side. Here’s a list of links you can explore:

THE ALT-MEDIA OPPOSITION

The San Francisco Bay Guardian was one of the leading opposition voices against 8 Washington. This link details the blow-by-blow efforts by the developer to push 8 Washington through the SF Planning Commission, and then through the SF Board of Supervisors, as well as the fight against it, through scores of Bay Guardian articles and editorials. And this link hints at the dirty tricks the developer used to try and stop the efforts to put Proposition C on the ballot.

There were other opposition voices as well. The Bay Guardian’s sister publication, the San Francisco Examiner editorialized against 8 Washington here. And an archive of SF Examiner articles and editorials on 8 Washington can be found here.

THE BLOG MEDIA OPPOSITION

BeyondChron‘s archives on 8 Washington can be found here. Fog City Journal‘s archives are available by typing “8 Washington” into their search engine. The SFist had a few articles here, here and here. And Tim Redmond’s San Francisco blog had these archives.

CORPORATE MEDIA SUPPORTERS

The San Francisco Chronicle (via SFGate) offered this article and this editorial about the defeat of 8 Washington, after its incessant, year-long boosterism for the project. And the Los Angeles Times covered the defeat of 8 Washington with this article and this news story.

SOUR GRAPES

Finally, we come to C.W. Nevius, the SF Chronicle’s own “conservative suburban twit” …er… columnist. Here‘s where Nevius vents his outrage over the scare tactics used by the opponents of 8 Washington, and here‘s where Nevius pretends no longer to care that his beloved 8 Washington project failed so miserably on election day.

MANHATTANIZATION

The real issue, after the crash-and-burn of the 8 Washington project and its supporters, is the ongoing efforts to Manhattanize the city of San Francisco. Here are some:

Classic San Francisco Skylines
San Francisco Skyline from the Bridgeskyline
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Now, here are some models and artist renditions of proposed San Francisco developments, from a website called SkyScraperCity, a site full of developer porn with a thread devoted to San Francisco. These skyscraper porn fantasies aren’t even everything that developers have planned for San Francisco. Much the same information (from a different angle, in greater depth, with neighborhood and human implications) can be found in the November 2013 issue of San Francisco magazine (digital edition)

Projects Under Construction

Transbay Center & Tower

Transbay Center & Tower

Crescent Heights Apartment Tower (10th & Market Sts.)

Crescent Heights Apartment Tower (10th & Market Sts.)

SFPUC Headquarters - 525 Golden Gate Ave.

SFPUC Headquarters – 525 Golden Gate Ave.

One Rincon Hill (Tower Two)

One Rincon Hill (Tower Two)

Trinity Place, Phase 2 (Corner Mission & 8th St)

Trinity Place, Phase 2 (Corner Mission & 8th St)

55 Ninth St.

55 Ninth St.

333 Harrison St.

333 Harrison St.

The Madrone (Condominium) - Mission Bay

The Madrone (Condominium) – Mission Bay


Approved Projects
535 Mission St.

535 Mission St.

350 Mission St.

350 Mission St.

350 Bush St./500 Pine St.

350 Bush St./500 Pine St.

45 Lansing St.

45 Lansing St.

375 - 399 Fremont St. (aka "The Californian")

375 – 399 Fremont St. (aka “The Californian”)

1036 Mission St.

1036 Mission St.


Projects Proposed and Pending Approval
181 Fremont St.

181 Fremont St.

181 Fremont St.

181 Fremont St.

201 Folsom St.

201 Folsom St.

222 2nd St.

222 2nd St.

Mission Rock Project (Seawall Lot 337/Pier 48)

Mission Rock Project (Seawall Lot 337/Pier 48)

Treasure Island Redevelopment/Towers

Treasure Island Redevelopment/Towers

OOOPS!

In a case of premature ejaculation, the SkyScraperCity site listed the 8 Washington project as approved. Perhaps its time to use the defeat of 8 Washington to build a broader resistance to the further gentrification and Manhattanization of San Francisco. Otherwise, San Francisco’s skyline might look like this, in the near future.

FUTURE SAN FRANCISCO SKYLINE

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TwinPeaksDoloresPark
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skyline3

Posted in 8 Washington, BeyondChron, C.W. Nevius, Fog City Journal, life, Los Angeles Times, Manhattanization, Manhattanization of San Francisco, No Wall on the Waterfront, Proposition B, Proposition C, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco magazine, San Francisco skyline, SFist, The Wall, Tim Redmond, Tim's San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The monopoly within a monopoly

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

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Actually, the title should read “the monopoly within a monopoly within a larger monopoly.” The larger monopoly in question is the State of California, which is politically and culturally liberal, for the most part. The state’s demographic trends, if anything, will increase California’s leftist tilt for the near future. Then there’s the City of San Francisco, a more progressive enclave within the liberal State of California. Even with a moderate Board of Supervisors lead by moderate mayor Ed Lee (who succeeded the moderate Gavin Newsom, who instituted gay marriage), there is a substantial, occasionally obstreperous progressive faction within the Board of Supervisors (Allan Peskin, former Supes Chris Daley and Ross Mirkarimi). Finally, within this progressive enclave of the City of San Francisco is the still more progressive alternative media monopoly of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the San Francisco Examiner, and the Bay Area Reporter.

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Put together by Todd Vogt, owner of the San Francisco Newspaper Company, which is part of the much larger 75-title newspaper, Canadian-based Horizon Publications, of which Vogt is the CEO, this local media monopoly is unabashedly progressive. Monopolies frequently are problematic however, even when they are seemingly benign and public serving. Public utility monopolies (like the long ago broken up Bell Telephone System/AT&T, or the current northern Californian PG&E monopolies) are the most egregious examples of entities that are good in concept, not so good in practice. And let’s not get started on private capitalist monopolies. In the current socio-political environment, I prefer government regulation to break up monopolies in order to limit excessive profit taking and foster much needed competition or, barring that, to keep the monopolies honest.*

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The Bay Area is no stranger to progressive bickering and in-fighting, if not sectarian conflict and internecine warfare. Witness the never-ending battle surrounding Pacifica’s Berkeley based radio station KPFA. Vogt’s three alt-newspaper monopoly is already showing signs of intra-progressive turmoil. Long time Bay Guardian editor Tim Redmond was ousted, fired, or allowed to resign, depending on who is telling the story. The reasons can be found here, here, here, here and here. Disputes over editorial policy and political endorsements, Redmond’s refusal to cut half of the Guardian’s news staff, and failure to agree on how to increase advertising revenues were some of the key issues. The Guardian attempted to practice a half-hearted transparency by reporting Tim Redmond’s departure in its own pages. Tim provided an extremely brief response on his blog, denying that had resigned, and leaving the reporting to other media. The Bay Guardian had its issues and problems, to be sure, but subsuming this alternative newspaper into Vogt’s alt-monopoly is not the solution. It’s not good news for progressive journalism in the Bay Area.

Beatles

*In his “Introduction to the American Edition” of The Star Fraction (2001), Ken MacLeod wrote:  “Unfortunately, there’s no reason why the Economic Calculation Argument [of von Mises] and the [Marxist] Materialist Conception of History couldn’t both be true. What if capitalism is unstable, and socialism is impossible?” Well, I tend to side with Marx’s argument that capitalism inevitably develops toward crisis driven monopoly, and that the libertarian theory of self-regulating laissez-faire market capitalism is utter bullshit. If the State disappeared today, leaving an unregulated capitalism to fend for itself, capitalism would promptly buy and install its own State tomorrow to protect capitalism’s interests and keep the “free market” reasonably well functioning. Oh, that’s right, that’s what American capitalism has already done. As for State Socialism, the old-style Communism of the Soviet bloc and Red China, that was pretty much a bloody disaster. That leaves decentralized, community owned, worker run libertarian socialism of one or another stripe as the only real, viable alternative…

Posted in California, capitalist monopolies, libertarian socialism, life, Marx, media monopolies, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Guardian, state socialism, Tim Redmond | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 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 »