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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Local Governments Hotlink Critical Mass

An Eastbay cyclist writes:

Are the extremist anti-car Critical Mass organizing bicycle coalitions recieving special government promoting services? Go to most Bay Area gov. websites such as the cities of SF, Oakland, Berkeley, or gov.agencies such as the MTC & CalTrans, and you'll discover that the ambitious & insidious anti-car Critical Mass bicycle activists have cleverly managed to get their numerous bicycle coalition organization websites hotlinked from official city and regional government websites! Search "bicycle coalition" on the city websites to find the hotlinks. They're usually listed as resources, outside links, bicycle organizations, etc. under the DPT or city public works bicycle program pages. An obvious conflict of interest? Berkeley now has 3 appointed city transportation commissioners who are longtime Bicycle Friendly Berkeley Coalition activists, with transportation commissioner Dave Campbell being the president of BFBC. The City of Berkeley's public works bicycle program "bicycle resources" webpage hotlinks the public to Campbell's BFBC homepage! This is unethical and possibly a serious conflict of interest. Defiantly, Berkeley City Attorney Christi Van Herrick refuses to stop allowing city bicycle program staff, who are bicycle coalition members, from promoting via hotlinks the BFBC and other questionable bicycle coalitions, and their lobbies, on the city website. Berkeley's hotlink referral list also includes the CA Bicycle Coalition (CBC), a CA Sec. of State registered Sacramento lobby (the Sec. of State Political Reform Div. CBC Client # is C27624) The CBC lobby is also hotlinked by the official websites of the cities of SF, Oakland, and the MTC & Caltrans, among others.

The City of San Francisco DPT Bicycle Program is hotlinking the public to SF Municipal Transportation Agency board director Leah Shahum's SF Bicycle Coalition website, of which she's the chair! ( When contacted about what appears to be a obvious conflict of interest and misuse of the city website to benefit & promote Commissioner Shahum's SFBC, Mayor Newsom aid Lisa Shell agreed that it appeared to be a wrong use of public services, but later she defended such a special relationship of preferential hot-linking on the City's website to the bicycle coalition's home pages as a political gray area in city policy that in fact legally permits the practice and that the Mayor's office thinks it's appropriate that the SFBC is being promoted (at taxpayer expense!) on the City website!

This practice of government hotlinking the public to the dubious bicycle coalition websites implies that governments are endorsing and approving the extremist bicycle coalition's politics and agenda. The bicycle extremists are being blessed or recognized by the cities as the official representatives of bicyclists, which is exactly what the dubious bicycle coalitions have been working to achieve! It's official government promotion. In fact it's an official government-provided recruiting service that benefits and legitimizes the bicycle Marxists' anti-car agenda. Keep in mind that the bicycle coalition greenies want to aggressively punish Bay Area motorists for driving by promoting endless car restrictions, expensive tickets, the installation of bicycle-hazardous traffic calming control devices everywhere, such as speed bumps and circles, the permanent closure of GG Park to cars, and astronomical vehicle taxes, fees, and fuel taxes.

These elitist, anti-car, far-left bicycle coalition activists certainly don't represent the interests of most cyclists. Unfortunately, to the detriment of working to attain reasonable and safe bicycle improvments, the bicycle coalition's doctrinaire anti-car extremism is monopolizing and controling bicycle advocacy, with some undeserved help from local government! Call or email your elected officials and your public works managers and demand that they stop permitting city websites to be used by the insidious bicycle coalitions as a self promoting and recruiting service to build their anti-car Critical Mass bicycle coalitions.

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