I Left My Heart in a Donut Shop

Iggy Scam, famous among Mission District punks as a 'zine writer, musician, and activist, has grown older. He changed his name back to Erick Lyle, for example. He hasn't changed much else, though: His book, On the Lower Frequencies: A Secret History of the City, is pro-junkie, anti-cop, and maintains a number of other attitudes that would drive any self-appointed responsible adult into a frothing fury. Drawing material from Lyle's 'zine, Scam ("The Epicenter of Crime: The Hunt's Donuts Story" is reprinted in its elegiac entirety), as well as the infamous Tenderloin newspaper, the Turd-Filled Donut, the book chronicles life in San Francisco in the 1990s from the perspective of a welfare-getting, needle-exchanging, SRO-hotel inhabiting punk. It's not your typical dot-com story, to put it mildly. It's not your typical self-involved wasteoid memoir, either. Lyle's writing is brilliant, as sparkly as broken glass and besotted with a deeply egalitarian, big-hearted love for a San Francisco most people don't even like to look at. Special bitterness is reserved for Gavin Newsom's "Care Not Cash" billboard campaign, in which (in case you don't remember) bitchy-looking yuppies held cardboard signs bearing anti-homeless slogans. Lyle's the guy who spent a little time replacing the intended messages with this kind of thing: "I am a totally selfish asshole who doesn't care if homeless people die as long as it doesn't happen on my doorstep and no tourists accidentally see it."

The book's release party is huge, and features guest speakers Paul Boden of the S.F. Coalition on Homelessness, Antonio Roman-Alcala of Alemany Farm, and Mary Howe of S.F. Needle Exchange; art by Sara Thustra, Ivy Jeanne, and Heather Renee Russ; and music by Shotwell, the Judy Experience, and Black Rainbow.
Wed., May 14, 6 p.m., 2008

 
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