46TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL Of the many things I adore about San Francisco, one of them is that the word "Palestine" is not treated like Voldermort's name, the one that dare not be uttered. You can say you are Palestinian here and no one will freak out. San Franciscans, most of them at least, will not tell you — as Newt Gringrich did — that your culture is invented, or that your identity (or your struggle) is not a valued part of the tapestry of this city.Read more »
46TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL When I was about 21, living with my parents outside Boston, I started making zines. I sent my first one, Bitch Queen, to Maximum Rock 'n' Roll, and it wound up getting reviewed in MRR's Queer Zine Explosion issue. I hadn't even known there was a queer zine explosion happening, but my little P.O. box was soon stuffed with zines from zinesters wanting to trade issues, and with enough dollar bills that I could cross the street to the mall and get lunch. Read more »
46TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL Right now, at UC Berkeley, somebody is inventing a new organism. Across the Bay, at the San Francisco hacker space Noisebridge, somebody is programming a giant array of LEDs they bought from a cheerfully piratical Chinese website that sells the lights on long ribbons rolled tightly into bundles. On Mount Tam, long after the park closes on Saturday night, a group of amateur astronomers has set up telescopes and is surveying Messier objects. Read more »
46TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL Everyone sees the neon signs on street posts over the weekend, but only a few types of people actually stop at estate sales. Early on Friday come the re-sellers—professionals intent on securing cheap, high quality goods that can be resold at pricey consignment shops and on eBay. On Saturdays come the casual shoppers, drawn by the novelty of IKEA prices on antique store treasures. And on Sundays, the hard-core hagglers and bargain hunters arrive, ready to seize upon whatever's left for a few small bills.Read more »
46TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL Today it's mostly about the rents. People come to my tiny apartment, a shoebox I share with three cats and a genius, and they wonder two things at the same time—what the mad Romantic poet Holderlin called the condition of "pallaksch," an occurrence that presses your yes and no buttons simultaneously. I can see my visitors wondering, you're only an avant-garde writer at the bottom of the heap, how can you afford to live in San Francisco? And another part of them is answering their own questions by guessing, it must be rent control.Read more »
People marvel that I manage to live in San Francisco on what I make as a freelance writer. They wonder if I have a trust fund, secretly write speeches for CEOs, or run a phone-sex business on the side. They figure I must somehow make over six figures to live in a three-bedroom flat in the Haight with high ceilings, hardwood floors, a big kitchen, and a garden as big as a park.
No: I'm able to be a writer in San Francisco because of rent control.Read more »
46TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL Living in San Francisco means accepting the constant love/hate battle between beauty and the beast, privilege and poverty, art/music/literature and, "Ew, what the hell did I just step in?" It's balancing the sweeping bayside views against the looming threat that at any minute we could crumble into the sea. Living here means accepting a certain level of hypocrisy, from ourselves, our government, and each other. It's understanding that you can't please everyone all of the time so you'd better figure out how to please yourself.Read more »
Puro San Fran: These words have inspired me to somewhere beyond my city and to someone beyond myself. Puro San Fran, I have howled into our smashed streets, into the lush jungles of Okinawa, death deserts of Saudi Arabia, the overly intellectual classrooms at U.C. Berkeley — into barrios worldwide.
Puro San Fran can be literally translated into Pure San Francisco, but what exactly is so pure about this Golden Gated city is the subject for this musing.Read more »