You are currently browsing the daily archive for September 4, 2007.
A few weeks back I visited San Francisco with my kids. We were meeting some friends of the family who live in the upper Castro (they’ve lived there since before I was born and seen the neighborhood go through a lot of dramatic changes). We took the train from downtown to the Castro Street station and walked Castro and 18th Street to get to the home up the hill on Eureka Street. The buildings looked the same, but it’s not the neighborhood I lived in (actually, I lived in a flat near Mission High School, sort of on the border of the Castro and Mission Districts) during the early 1990s.
A few years back I’d visited the neighborhood on a weekend, with my son who was three at the time. He had a scooter which he zig zagged between the various people in colorful garb, too young to interpret anything. We were visiting a friend who lived on Church Street and while my wife continued to visit I took my son up to Marcello’s at Castro and Market for a pizza slice (one of the best in the city!). Mostly people tended their own business. A few smiled at us, my son’s enthusiasm and cuteness able to melt through layers of urban borne alienation. But a few gave us some nasty glares, which I interpreted as knee-jerk reaction to a “breeder” encroachment onto their turf. However, my last trip and this Bay Guardian article about gentrification in the city’s sister gay community have me thinking that the resentment was a little deeper.
Yes, there are Starbucks and more chain stores popping in. But even the locally owned “gay stores” are more like theme shops, the neighborhood becoming to gay culture what Fisherman’s Wharf is to the fishing industry or Chinatown post-sweat shop. You see some of the usual suspects in their leather attire and racy regalia. And you see the common assortment of tourist gawkers.
But you also see what is infesting the rest of the city, which may become the world’s first to become economically cleansed. You see very well-dressed, young, professional “breeders” – who don’t breed. They don’t fill up the neighborhoods with their kids, but they make demands. They don’t like noise so they demand that night clubs be shut down. They don’t frequent the old family restaurants, favoring instead the trendy “California cuisine” establishments with lots of dishes with kiwi butter and mango salsa. The Chinese-Californian restaurants which used to serve passe dishes like chop suey and egg foo yung are gone in favor of more “authentic” Chinese fare (perhaps consumed by the one percent of the Chinese population, the elite) – examples being the Hong Kong Kitchen and the South China Cafe, mainstays since the 1950s now gone for their uncompromising traditional menus and tacky Formica tables. Cala-foods on 18th Street is gone – replaced by a Whole Foods wannabe where the manager looked at me like I was crazy when I asked if he sold popsicles individually so I could treat my kids. Even Cliff’s Variety, open for decades before the “gay culture,” is more of a boutique shop now than a hardware store.
The Bay Area is becoming mildly alien to me now. Many of my bohemian friends have left in search of worthier pastures – or more affordable ones anyway. Bedrock institutions are dying. It’s even spread to the outlying areas.
It may not have affected politics dramatically. The city’s as liberal as it ever was, and in retrospect I see Frank Jordan’s defeat of Art Agnos in 1991 as the last gasp of “Old San Francisco,” and perhaps the last effort to maintain a working class presence in San Francisco. He wanted to maintain the waterfront as an industrial center, and what we have now from the tearing down of the Embarcadero Freeway is what socialists used to call the “predominance of quality of life issues” favoring aesthetics over all other considerations.
I may have been on the wrong side.
Photo comes from dkimages.
Heraldo has the details. Director Deepa Mehta is apparently waiting for a particular time of the year in Philadelphia to get “a particular look.”
Boy, I’ll be watching for the Philadelphia scenes if they’re worth waiting an extra year for!
Looks like it was a lot of fun.
More great photos where that one came from.
Although he’s been fighting cancer for some time, he’s leaving for “financial not health reasons.” According to the NY Times, Snow was only making 170 grand a year at the White House. He simply couldn’t afford to keep working at that wage.
Despite writing two landmark novels which depicted communism in bleak and terrifying fashion (although the larger points about ideology and power have often been lost on left and right alike), British intelligence actually suspected he was playing an elaborate charade. Orwell was in Spain for the civil war, and he lived and died a democratic socialist. But he was also very much against Stalin, and actually worked the propaganda front for the allies during the war. But he dressed like a “bohemian” and expressed “unorthodox views” so he was suspect.
A Sergeant Ewing of Special Branch, monitoring Orwell’s attempt to recruit Indians to work for the BBC’s India service in January 1942, noted: “This man has advanced communist views … He dresses in a bohemian fashion both at his office and in his leisure hours.”
It’s like the old joke where the police are arresting some demonstrators who try to plea with them, “but officers, we’re anti-communists!” The police respond,”we don’t care what kind of communists you are.”
He also kept bad company it appears.
It continues in the 30s as he helped out at a leftwing bookshop, Booklovers’ Corner in Hampstead, where he was a friend of the owner, Francis Westrope: “[He] and Blair are on friendly terms and the latter is known to spend a good deal of time at the shop. He has on occasion conducted the business. Westrope is known to hold socialist views and considers himself an ‘intellectual’.