By Chris Roberts
By Joe Eskenazi
By Albert Samaha
By Mike Billings
By Rachel Swan
By Erin Sherbert
By Joe Eskenazi
By Albert Samaha
Welcome to Newark, Calif.
Finally, someone's had the courage to call S.F. economics on its own inconsistency; the insight to equate leftism of the stripe practiced here with conservatism; and the perceptiveness to understand how the dreaded dot-coms offer the average worker rewarding and interesting work rather than condemning him/her to the drudgery of old industry's bottom tier as authoritarian socialists/Marxists would have it ("Make Room for Dot-Coms," Feb. 16).
I was reminded of some of the history of Newark, N.J.'s decline through the '50s and '60s and fearful for the same occurring here as I read of the back-room maneuvers of the local demagogues.
(For the record, I do consider myself a conscientious liberal, but have no patience for the implausible, dystopian, impersonal, market force-ignorant social engineering schemes that the organized left has degenerated into.)
Apparently, Ali, We Didn't Hit You Hard Enough
I was shocked by Matt Smith's unabashed pro-dot-com slant in "Make Room for Dot-Coms." From start to finish, developers and their supporters were hard workers, advocates were untrustworthy types.
Witness the juxtaposed photos of developer Brian Bock, shot from below in a crisp modern exterior to make him appear tall and imposing, in comparison to that of Proposition M author Sue Hestor, whose close-up shows the unglamorous sweat of a public meeting bead off her while she is caught mouth agape. While Bock's photo cutline innocuously states that his building will change use, Hestor's cutline calls her a "foe ... who has turned her sights on curbing multimedia offices." You think you could hit your readers a little harder with that hammer?
Business newbies to S.F. are the willing prey of those eager to make the biggest buck in a booming real estate market. Increasing office spaces will speed up the trend towards jacked-up prices that arts, culture, and social service organizations are already suffering from. And where there's ignorance, there's also arrogance. Many new office owners want those prices to skyrocket, so that "complementary" businesses (read: ones as bland and shortsighted as they) will move in around them.
Another story-crafting blunder for Mr. Smith is his tying the proliferation of dot-com office space outside the city to public transit becoming "increasingly unfeasible." Are these businesses that want to locate in S.F. stepping up to contribute to an improved public transportation system? Are they even building carshares? We wouldn't know from this piece.
Shouldn't dot-coms be expected to give back what they take from the city? Whether they build anew and jack up the price structure of a neighborhood, or buy existing buildings to gut and then evict community services en masse such as nonprofits, classroom space, advocacy groups, community event space, and day care programs, shouldn't they be expected to at least restore the balance by paying fees that would go towards affordable housing for the city? Or perhaps leaving S.F.'s cultural life dead save only the most superficial and pricey remnants is the kind of change Mr. Smith looks forward to.
Excellent and thoughtful article about the current changes in SOMA ("Make Room for Dot-Coms"). Much more balanced and well-reasoned than I am used to seeing in SF Weekly. I live in SOMA, am not employed in technology or multimedia, and have a household income less than the average for San Francisco.
With that said: Arguments based on the assumed moral superiority of groups of people simply because they have less money than others have long since grown tired. No one pretends that any given social system is completely adequate for caring for all of its members. By the same token, simply taking on the role of victim does not obligate the rest of society to provide for all one's wishes and hopes. Attempting to curtail business development politically, based on the groundless notion that this will somehow create more housing for people who cannot afford to live here, is nothing short of bizarre.
Invasion of the Dot-Com Parasites
Kudos to Matt Smith for writing an informative and anti-knee-jerk piece about the dot-commers ("Make Room for Dot-Coms"). Smith goes out of his way to show that sycophants come in more varieties than simply realtors and landlords (Sue Hestor ... my interpretation). Smith also demonstrates that San Francisco's latest fiasco can be interpreted through a mind-set and policies that have existed in the past.
As a New Yorker who has lived in this area for quite a while, I can't help feeling that Frisco is getting some just desserts. San Francisco, somewhat pretentiously, always wanted consideration as a major metropolis. Well kiddies guess what? You want the glory? Deal with the problems: major housing problems, a new population jacking up the price of everything, and urban congestion. Want to know the future of San Francisco? Just look at what the '80s stock brokers did to housing, transportation, and the surrounding areas of New York City. Look at what the '80s recession did to the housing situation in New York City.
Smith's analysis, from a strictly urban planning view, is right on, with the following caveats: First, though Smith could not have considered this given the scope of his article, dot-commers are neither particularly well educated, nor a philanthropically well-endowed group. Many dot-commers are not even college educated; many more, while indoctrinated into a technical field in college, hardly have the humanistic resources to handle real wealth responsibly. San Francisco is being invaded by a group of people who have virtually (pardon the pun) nothing, other than money, to contribute to our cultural mecca and couldn't give a shit about the homeless. Again, look at New York City: Bohemian neighborhoods were raped and pillaged by an economically advantaged, undereducated, transient population. Now, if you're lucky, you can convince yourself that living in Queens is quaint (yeah right!) and you might find a hot dog vendor for a cheap lunch.
While the computer industry provides jobs, until there is a real sense of stability and real wealth associated with Internet services, these jobs are a precarious investment. Hence, giving precious space to dot-commers is an investment that could cause a major recession. What would Smith tell the people he cites as career changers, if the industry becomes competitive, downsizes, or stabilizes to the point that a good waitress can make more money on a Tuesday night? Talk about a housing crisis ... can you imagine what would happen in San Francisco if middle-class people lose their homes because of speculative career choices?
Finally, real international cities do not give everything to the latest economic flavor of the month. New York, Toronto, etc. have been forced to create housing for people associated with all industries. San Francisco cannot afford to give away too much housing stock because there is a very finite degree of urban development that can take place here without threatening natural resources. Ultimately San Francisco should learn from the successes and failures of European and American cities which have gone through similar problems. A balance must prevail where space is meted out sparingly to dot-commers ... a group of cultural parasites who might not be economically empowered in the distant future. A young group who will move out of the city upon nesting and leave inflation for the rest of us to deal with.
They Aren't All Millionaires
Thank you, thank you, for publishing Matt Smith's smart and extremely well-written take on the state of multimedia business development in S.F. ("Make Room for Dot-Coms"). I do not work for a dot-com, but many of my friends my age -- I'm 25 -- do, and I've seen firsthand how the new industry has created a raft of midrange-paying jobs which cater to a diverse group of young people looking for unconventional careers. Dot-com companies are not solely defined by newly made twentysomething millionaires; the entry-level positions which pay decent (though not exorbitant) wages do seem to be doing a service to this city by allowing a diverse group of young people -- who may not have found work in the older, more conservative, financial service-based job market -- to live here.
Smith's point that a significant percentage of Web developers do not have a college education (much less a graduate business degree) is rarely made. Smith also has the temerity and common sense to question some of the anti-growth activism which may not have kept pace with the realities of San Francisco's economy or its social mix. His conclusion that anti-growth legislation on multimedia companies could actually hurt the city's ability to offer midrange jobs for less highly trained workers is one worth repeating to some of this city's older, proscriptively liberal ex-hippie population who insist that San Francisco's only prayer for surviving prosperity is by rejecting it.
So, You Think We Should Start Paying Silke?
This city native thoroughly enjoys Silke Tudor's writing (Night Crawler, The House of Tudor). Her sharp eye, concision, and fluidity suggest the makings of a columnist which the town sorely needs.
Perhaps they still make 'em as they used to: writers capable of a thousand words daily, six times a week, weaving the color, fabric, and souls of a metropolitan community.
One wouldn't wish her loss to the Weekly. But among the city's five rags, Tudor stands out with rhythm, a fresh wrap on everything she notes, and a well-humored muscularity. I hope the editors of the uncertain dailies are noticing. Once a week ain't enough of a writer, a columnist, who can leg and limn San Francisco for its hungry readers.
Cursing Those Who Curse the Morgan Curse
Rather jarring coda to your otherwise interesting Camper Van Beethoven feature ("Happier Campers," Music, Feb. 9) -- "And if that girl Morgan shows up," adds Segel, "I'm gonna kick her ass." I'm sure it was taken out of context and meant as a joke, but it's a rather ugly and unfunny one.
Morgan Fichter is a total sweetheart without an ounce of malice in her, and she doesn't deserve to be on the receiving end of Jonathan Segel's adolescent pissing contest. (I believe the so-called "Morgan Curse" actually has resulted from bands already on their last legs finding her easygoing personality and prodigious musical talents to be a shot in the arm that helps them get through their final days.) At any rate, I know Morgan to be a sensitive, sincere person with an intense desire to do the right thing, and this gratuitous little snipe has only succeeded in making Segel appear a little smaller. Just because he's chosen to make nice with David Lowery (the one who actually tossed him out of the band), this doesn't give him the right to blame someone who came after the fact and tried to make the best of a bad situation.
John Neo Marvin
This was a well-done piece that accurately represents the trials and tribulations of getting together a successful party ("Rave On?" Music, Jan. 26). Props to Susan Derby for doing her homework on the scene. Many journalists covering the more obscure components of American subculture all too often take shortcuts by filling information gaps with complete blanks.
Unfortunately, among partygoers, there is a pretentious attitude that persists to this day regarding "who found rave first" and "who is legit."
I am disappointed (yet not surprised) to read Diana Eckhardt's comments about how the rave scene has gone massive and "when raving got big, it sold out." This is really code for "I am cooler than the newer people -- I found it first." Excuse me, Miss Priss, but last I checked, you have been involved in the scene for four years, while the American rave scene has been chugging along for more than a decade. At which point the scene "sold out" is simply a matter of perspective. From my vantage point, YOU might be part of the collective result of raves getting bigger and eventually "selling out."
Not to thump my chest too loudly, but I count myself among those who helped start the rave continuum in the San Francisco/ Sacramento scenes back in '90 -- promoting and DJing for 5 1/2 years through the better part of 1994. I was a small part of the collectives that were A Rave Called Sharon, the Gathering, Where's Waldo, etc. One of the main things that eventually turned me off of the scene was people who sported the attitude "I found rave before you did." (Ironically, time and time again, those touting this line tended to be the newest faces in the scene!) These same people claimed that too many new faces will spell the end of Rave as We Know It.
Their take in '94 is identical to yours in '00, yet, alas -- the Beat Does Go On. Eckhardt and the like, I have news for you and anyone else who takes the "mine first" position of pretense. Rave is for everyone -- intended to be all-inclusive. No one person or group can claim to be the originators of rave (at least in America). Let's not forget that in the mid-'80s, rave originated in England in the form of acid house, and in Belgium and Germany it manifested in what was coined as new beat music. (Eck-clones, have you even heard of these genres? I didn't think so.)
Rave in America has replicated and transformed these unique European formats of music/venue from a decade and a half ago. So it is not I in '94, or you, for that matter, in '00, who can get on a high horse and proclaim that "raving has gotten too big." Maybe there are some pissed off Euros out there who really did find it first clamoring for their credit. The bottom line is this: Exactly what constitutes a newcomer or an individual who is a part of "massive culture" is all relative. A greenhorn raver may seem uncool to you, but trust me, you need them.
The scene depends upon new faces to keep it financially afloat. I agree that the overblown, overhyped, 10,000-person corporate gig is not ideal. But it is better to accept these new faces and their dollars than experience the possible demise of a good thing from a lack of support for the scene. All partygoers -- scenesters and newcomers -- must stick together and be all-inclusive. There are already enough bullets the scene must dodge -- municipal red tape, overregulation, or overzealous city officials posturing raves as a collective scapegoat for the proliferation of "dangerous drug use." All of these new faces don't mean Armageddon for the Underground! They are simply replacing those of us who have hung up our Cross Colours (GOD, I'm dating myself!) and had our time.
Chris A. Cook
In the Feb. 2 issue of SF Weekly an article was run on the TGSF Cotillion which was informative and appreciated ("At the Cotillion," Night Crawler). In the article, our good friend Dear Diva made the following observation: "The TransGender Cotillion is a straight-world phenomenon, not a gay-world phenomenon." In regards to the genesis of the event and the sustaining energy behind it, the statement is a fair assessment. Our only concern in this response is to clarify that TGSF not only welcomes our gay, lesbian, and bisexual friends as members of our organization and guests at our events, but also to recognize that we have received a tremendous amount of help from the gay community over the years with the production and the success of the Cotillion.
TGSF Executive Committee
In our Feb. 16 cover story "Make Room for Dot-Coms," we incorrectly identified the San Francisco Partnership as San Francisco Tomorrow. SF Weeklyregrets the error.