This is the year of ... what? No one event is adequate to explain it. When you study all the events of 2013 with a deep enough focus, the image becomes noise. You're staring at pixels. How to pull meaning out of this goddamn absurdity? We've been doing it at this paper for a year, but really, aren't we just constructing a narrative, like the way images begin to take shape and move among the static on an unsignaled TV? (Remember when TVs had static?) Seems like the things that make the most sense are the most absurd. For that reason, we shall add to the menagerie of the Chinese zodiac one more animal: This shall be the Year of the Drunken Marmot, after the animal that hitched a ride from the Sierras to Bernal Heights to quench a terrible thirst for antifreeze. It seems as appropriate as anything else; this is, after all, a city making way for strange outsiders.
2013 could also be the Year of the Defiant Perineum, or the Year of the Overpromised Boat Race, or the Year of the Cab Which Is Not a Cab. The Year of BuzzFood and Overpowering Musical Nostalgia and Abandoned Chess Boards. On and on. Maybe it's good there isn't a single through-line for the year. Who'd want to live in that simple of a narrative? This, our Year in Review, pulls the knotted-up power cords of 2013 from behind the desk and tries to unravel them. The Year of Knots? Well, that's not quite it, but it's a start. Brandon R. Reynolds
Clothing is Not an Option
In 2012, the known world had a good laugh at a man named Wiener introducing legislation banning most forms of public nudity. In San Francisco, we had a different name for this occasion: Tuesday.
The city's "urban nudists" didn't just take unkindly to Supervisor Scott Wiener's legislation barring them from exposing their "genitals, perineum, or anal region" across the city. They made a federal case of it. On Jan. 17, 2013, in front of an audience of clothed nudists, Judge Edward Chen took in the arguments of the city and the nudists' attorney. For anyone who harbored a lifelong ambition to witness a federal judge quoting Justice David Souter's opinion regarding naked dancing — this was the place to be.
In the end, Chen roundly rejected the plaintiffs' arguments, handing the city an unambiguous victory in its battle against free-swinging genitalia. The nudists aren't taking this dressing down without a fight, but they will have to find a new lawyer; lead plaintiff Gypsy Taub told SF Weekly that attorney Christina DiEduardo dropped the case after the nudists failed to pay her.
But while she lost her case, Taub did find love. She and husband Jaymz Smith were married on the City Hall steps on Dec. 19. And, yes, they were naked.
Mazel tov! Joe Eskenazi
The Squaring of Market Street
When the owners of Kaplan's Surplus & Sport Goods announced plans to retire their business and sell the 90-foot-long building they own on Market Street, nostalgists saw the end of not just an era, but an epoch. The yellowing posters, vintage Brazilian cleats, and satin Knicks jackets in Kaplan's inventory would all go to dust; in their place, new owner G and M Hospitality would build a 100-room hotel for San Francisco's well-heeled tourists and newly minted business class.
It was just one more domino to fall in the grand restoration of mid-Market, which had transformed, over the last century, from a bustling theater district to a den of blight and squalor, until Mayor Ed Lee juked the city's tax code to lure in Twitter. With the "Twitter tax break" enhanced by a voter-approved payroll tax that favors tech over other industries, a slew of new companies joined the fray. Yammer, One Kings Lane, and ZenDesk all accompanied Twitter to a rehabbed furniture store at 1355 Market — now rechristened Market Square — while the ride-share start-up Uber and mobile payments company Square Inc. moved in down the street. A massive land-grab ensued, with Michelin star restaurants displacing the old greasy-spoon diners, and luxury housing erected to satisfy the wealthy pied-a-terre types. Highbrow institutions like the SFMOMA and American Conservatory Theater launched vast remodeling campaigns, while their smaller peers struggled to stay afloat.
This year, the narrative about mid-Market shifted. It had long been a battleground for development, but now it's become a perfect gentrification allegory — a kind of visual tableau of tech money displacing San Francisco's boot-strapped nonprofits and art houses. Supervisors David Chiu and Jane Kim have struggled to save the vestiges of a previous era, but they may face an uphill battle as commercial real estate balloons to $80 a square foot. When McDonald's made a bid for a spot occupied by and Indian-vegetarian diner at the intersection of Hayes and Ninth streets, even Lee's biggest pro-development cheerleaders balked.
Former Mayor Gavin Newsom had dreamed that mid-Market would become the Champs-Élysées of San Francisco, but detractors say it more closely resembles Wall Street. And as such, it's become a major battle line in the gentrification wars — a place where labor organizers picket the new tech tenants, while cash-strapped nonprofits beg the mayor to siphon off affordable real estate. When the city banned street chess, Occupy protesters geared up for war.
Development shows no sign of slowing in San Francisco's most-contested retail corridor, and the class wars are starting to heat up. They'll persist until every last nonprofit is priced out, and every arts organization crumbles, and even the city's homeless have to migrate to Oakland. Rachel Swan
Crash Landing: Asiana and Its Aftermath
It would be wholly accurate — albeit a slight understatement — to describe the July 6 crash of Asiana Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport as "a concatenation of horribles." New documents released by the National Transportation Safety Board this month reveal that 16-year-old passenger Ye Meng Yuan was run over by not one, but two San Francisco fire rigs as they rushed to rescue the victims. And the first vehicle to hit her was properly equipped with both a heat sensor and "spotter," contrary to previous reports.