Sunday, July 01, 2007

SF Magazine: "Urbanities" and kissing ass


Photo by Tim Griffith

San Francisco magazine composes a hymn to Thom Mayne's new Federal Building on Seventh St. in its introduction to its July, Best of the Bay Area edition:

The stunningly visual new 18-story Federal Building is causing heads to swivel. Forget the Civic Center's Beaux Arts marble facades. This building is in dialogue with the future, using the language of math and science. Trapezoidal rooftops, stainless steel sheathing that cascades down the building, perforated metal scrim that buckles and thrusts upward before landing near the curb, exposed concrete trusses, metallic overhangs shaped like chevrons and triangles, opaque glass fins glowing with the setting sun---it's utterly unlike the rest of San Francisco's skyline.

The last part of the final sentence is the only sensible statement in the paragraph. The rest is pretentious, artsy-fartsy crap, much like the Maynes building itself. I'll take the old Federal court building across the street. In fact, I'll take the old Greyhound Depot that used to be on the very spot where the Maynes building now squats like a beached aircraft carrier. "Dialogue with the future"? This may also be true, alas, as the Planning Dept. seems intent on destroying this part of the city.

The cover of the magazine shows us the view of the beautiful City Hall building from the Maynes building, calling it "the best new vantage point: Now dominating the Civic Center area is the breathtaking, breakthrough federal building..." No one with any sense of aesthetics would want to "dominate" our wonderful Civic Center, but the Planning Dept. is determined to do so, with 40-story highrises in the Market/Van Ness area as per the Market/Octavia Plan.

We can look forward to future editions of San Francisco magazine with thrilling views from these new monstrosities that will literally cast shadows on the civic heart of San Francisco (the hideous Fox Plaza building is a mere 29 stories, and the 100 Van Ness building is 26 stories).

What this "best-of" crap really sets out to do is flatter everyone, especially its readers, for being cool enough to read the magazine:

Only this time around, we just couldn't decide between the tried-and-true and the cool-and-new. So our 2007 edition pays special homage to the classics---the people, the places and perks that just get better with age. But it also scans the horizon for the brave newbies---the future classics---that, if we're lucky, we'll be taking for granted in years to come.

As the magazine scans the horizon for asses to kiss, it throws a bouquet to, of all things, the new and guaranteed-to-be-awful Rincon Hill, where thousands of luxury highrise condos are being built, thanks in large part to Supervisors Chris Daly and Aaron Peskin (Mirkarimi of course voted for them, too):

Thankfully, everybody's a new urbanist these days. You can't throw a rock without hitting a planner or a politician pitching 'sustainable' solutions to city problems, and every flashy new development from Rincon Hill to Mission Bay touts its community-building, transit-friendly bona fides.

50-story highrises are "community-building"? Can anyone really think that members of the international community of millionaires who buy those condos are going to take Muni? ("Honey, I'm going to take Muni down to Union Square to pick up a few trinkets at Tiffany's. Where did you put my Fast Pass?")

Naturally San Francisco magazine places a big smooch on Mayor Newsom's skinny ass, while scoring points with progressives and their gay yuppie readers:

Gavin Newsom should always be remembered for his efforts in the struggle to legalize same-sex marriage. When he defied discriminatory state laws by urging the county clerk to marry same-sex couples in February 2004, he made history...Despite the fact that he was only 33 days into his term---or perhaps because of it---Newsom had the guts to make same-sex marriage happen here.

On the other hand, why didn't Newsom wait until after the November, 2004 election, which George W. Bush "won" by a whisker? Democrat Newsom's gay marriage initiative probably gave Bush the election. He "made history," alright! Besides, Newsom deserves more praise for the "guts" behind his initiatives on homelessness than on the gay marriage thing, since the latter wasn't at all controversial here in Progressive Land. City progressives are still bitter about how Newsom ate their lunch on the homeless issue in 2003.

San Francisco throws another misguided bouquet at a boxy modernist apartment building that's going to be built at the already-disastrous intersection of Market and Octavia: "The exterior of the apartment building...has a series of colored, etched glass brises-soleil that poetically suggest a row of Victorians. Modern elegance and refinement keep it contemporary."

"Brises-soleil"? La-de-fucking-da! When they start using French phrases, you know it's bullshit.

Good old Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz, is praised for being a "Classic Prisoner" and "raising nearly 300 canaries in prison, which...he sold to support his aging mother." Unmentioned is the fact that Stroud killed two men, including a prison guard.

And Josh Wolf is anointed a "Future Classic Prisoner" for his recent stint in prison for refusing to give the Grand Jury his video of an anarchist demonstration. Unmentioned: City cop Peter Shields suffered a fractured skull during that demonstration, but San Francisco magazine has no French phrases or awards for Shields, who evidently isn't "new-and-cool" enough to make the cut.

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