Saturday, August 05, 2006

Tim Redmond: "It was a San Francisco moment"

Despite years of defining itself as a fringe political tendency (e.g., endorsing graffiti/tagging, endorsing Critical Mass, resisting regulation of the pot clubs, denigrating Care Not Cash, resisting and denigrating the gift of a new garage in Golden Gate Park), the city’s progressives are unbowed. Their elevated political self-esteem seems invulnerable to intrusions from the real world. In spite of all evidence to the contrary, city progressives still see themselves as the Good People, the Cool People, the Green People with a genuine vision of the future of San Francisco.

The July 26 edition of the SF Bay Guardian is a perfect example of this moral, intellectual, and political smugness.

Tim Redmond’s Editor’s Notes---pushed inside by the Best of the Bay cover from its usual front-page location---is an excellent intro to the astonishing complacency exhibited in the special issue:

I started down Valencia Street around 8:30 last Thursday morning…I caught up with two other bicyclists at a red light around 23rd Street. None of us said anything, but we rode more or less together for a couple more blocks, then picked up a few more riders here and a few more there, and by the time we hit Market Street, there were probably 15 of us, riding along in some sort of impromptu Critical Mass-style convoy. We (carefully) ran red lights together…I was on Market Street during rush hour, and I actually felt almost safe. It was a San Francisco moment, one of those instances of accidental community that make you remember why this is the world’s best city…That’s what this Best of the Bay issue is dedicated to: a celebration of all that is wonderful in San Francisco and the Bay Area---and a vision of what it could be…

A uniquely “San Francisco moment”? People don’t ride bikes in other cities? But it’s the Guardian’s “vision” of the future that is striking in its lameness and overall implausibility. The next page has an editorial cartoon that provides readers with a vision of their transportation future---“The Five Stages of Oil Loss,” with “acceptance” showing a cyclist, as if there will someday soon be no oil at all---and no cars. Even New Age ninny/progressive SF Chronicle columnist Mark Morford recognizes that the electric car technology is already practicable
 
Why does the Guardian think that people in the city or the US will have to turn to bicycles? This is never explained---intellectual analysis is not the Guardian’s strong suit---but it’s the assumption running through other "visions" in the issue.

Before we get to the Guardian’s goofy “vision” of the future, its interpretation of the current war in Lebanon is in an opinion column by Tim Kingston, with his plan for ending the war, which of course is all Israel’s fault:

Write, don’t email, don’t call---write a personal letter to your congressperson, your senator, your elected officials, demanding that the United States cut its military aid to Israel by half. That at least would get the Israelis’ attention off the bombs they’re dropping on the Lebanese and might even force Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to start negotiating for real. It would level the playing field just a bit.

Negotiate with Hezbollah, which started the war and is dedicated to the destruction of Israel? Negotiate what? The continued presence of Hezbollah’s rocket launchers on the border of Israel? Kingston doesn’t say.

Okay, the Guardian’s foreign policy is a little sketchy. But what about its “vision of the future" in SF?:

The future may be in peril, but the Bay’s still thrumming with vibrance[sic]---freewheeling artists, quirky shops, stunning cuisines, fantasmic[sic] history. People loving people, people making plans, people rising above. At the epicenter of American radicalism, we’ve never let fear paralyze us---that’s why we’re called progressives (Marke B.).

So that’s where the term “progressive” comes from! People writing vacuous prose, using words that aren’t words at all...

Fearless Marke ends the piece with a big smooch on his readers’ collective ass: "But most of all we thank you, dear reader, for pouring your unique pluck and zing into this great community, for keeping the doors of hope open, and for never giving up on the green dream. Peace."

Whiz! Bang! Zing! Open that Door of Hope, dear reader, and keep that “green dream” alive! Be sure and bring your shovel, because inside Mark’s door, behind the tangle of mixed metaphors, is a big pile of crapola.

And there’s Emily Landes on Hayes Valley:

Before the 1989 quake, the neighborhood was best known as that seedy spot under the Central Freeway, which had entrances on Franklin and Gough Streets. But in the years since the freeway’s destruction, Hayes Valley has transformed from an area with a lot of asphalt and very little foot traffic into an independent-minded mecca for foodies, art lovers, and design buffs.

Emily doesn’t mention it, but that area now has even more asphalt than it had in the shadows of that wicked old Central Freeway, with six lanes of freeway traffic on Octavia Blvd. carrying the 80,000 vehicles that used to take the Central Freeway right through the heart of that “independent-minded”---whatever that means---neighborhood.

Lynn Rapoport sees a lot of bikes in the city’s future:

Maybe the classics of the future will be more like that. Like what happens when Critical Mass’s current crew of riders pass down the proud traditions of bike lifts and howling in the Stockton tunnel---and also a green network of raised cycling paths that snake through the city, making the cars feel lonely and useless.

Maybe baby, but very unlikely. Believe it or not, bike lifts are actually mentioned in the Bicycle Plan. Cyclists in SF like to make the death-defying run down city hills to the downtown area, but find it tedious to ride back up the hills, which is why they like to use the bike carriers on Muni buses. Hence, bike lifts will help them get their tired little green butts back home after a hard day of howling in the Stockton tunnel and flipping off motorists.

Masha Gutkin flatters her readers for being pretty cool about coffee and food, too:

And now for some strutting: Some of the best coffee in the United States started out in the Bay Area; as usual, we were in the forefront of something tasty. The same goes for what these days is often called “the foodie revolution”; now thought of more in terms of gourmet restaurants and products for the moneyed classes, it started with food co-ops, farmers markets, organics, and activism around disrupting the corporate domination of food distribution.

Julie Ross takes us on a groovy shopping trip around the city:

There’s the Cake Gallery on Folsom and Ninth Street, where you can spice up a birthday party by ordering a sheet cake airbrushed with xxx-plicit designs (the “bouquet of cocks” is a favorite) or in the shape of a body part (try the woman’s torso with a cherry where the cherry should be). While Wal-Mart may be quickly filling its shelves with more organic products and Home Depot slowly responding to cries to stock more environmentally friendly products, you’re never going to see a bouquet of cocks in a big box.

I guess I’m just a square, Julie, but I’ll take Wal-Mart. A question progressives never seem to ask: Does sexual liberation require such vulgarity?

Annalee Newitz takes on Sex and Romance:

If sex has any future at all in the United States, it will surely be in San Francisco. Certainly there is no hope for sex to survive the decade in Arkansas, where sex toys are illegal; nor is there much cause for erotic anticipation in New York, where Christopher Hitchens writes that blow jobs are great largely because they plug up women’s mouths. At least in our city we know that strap-on dildos can go between anybody’s lips---even those of neocon journalists.

No sex toys in Arkansas? How do those folks reproduce? Christopher Hitchens, by the way, wrote no such thing, at least not in his article on the history of the blowjob in Vanity Fair, which is what Newitz seems to be referring to.

Yes folks, our city of the future will have it all---bikes, coffee, food, sex and, more importantly, sex toys. Because we are the coolest, most progressive people in the world. Even if we can’t think and our prose is mush, our coffee is great, and we know how to strap on a dildo!

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7 Comments:

At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nope we are just a bunch of fatass americans sitting in our cars driving amazing amounts of miles listening to idiots on the radio so there in lies why I rather ride a bike

 
At 4:42 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Your comment, with its cliched image of other Americans, just shows how much contempt you and so many other elitist cycists have for them. Not surprising that you and your like-minded pals think Critical Mass is cool, even though it jams traffic making it difficult for other Americans to get home after work.

 
At 7:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on the mark, Rob. As usual. Now, for the really important things in life -- go Niners!

Jim

 
At 11:31 AM, Blogger The Angry Young Man said...

Rob, you're out of control...

 
At 11:41 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Out of control"? What does that mean? I'm lacking in self-control or that someone/something should "control" me? You need to elablorate. While you're at it, tell us why you're angry. And why the anonymity by you and so many of your comrades who comment on my blog? What are you afraid of? Remember, Young Man, I'm here to help you with your fears and your political/intellectual hangups.

 
At 7:49 AM, Blogger The Angry Young Man said...

Rob, I admire your gumption, even though I completely disagree with everything you have to say.

As far as me being angry, I live in America circa 2006, you need any further explanation than that?

 
At 10:40 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, I do. You think things are bad now? You should have lived here in, say, 1961, before the Civil Rights movement, the women's movement, and the gay rights movement. Anger isn't a particularly helpful political emotion, since it tends to fuel one's self-righteousness and hinder clear thinking about social/political issues.

 

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