SF Weekly‘s Top Five Stories of 2017

From Burning Man to Kate Steinle, this were the stories that changed the course of human history.

It’s 2018 in Australia and everything that happens now is basically next year’s news, so before we hook two Champagne bottles up to a baseball cap and down their contents through dual plastic tubes, let’s pause to remember the top five stories we brought you in 2017.

5. S.F. Officials Battle Alt-Right Rally (Aug. 15)

Whew, good thing this one didn’t happen. Nazis were planning to come to Crissy Field on Aug. 26, and for a minute, it looked like San Francisco could be the Fort Sumter of the Second American Civil War.

Reports of an alt-right rally descending on San Francisco were confirmed Tuesday, as city officials rushed to halt a permit issued by the National Park Service. Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group that hosts rallies attended by white supremacists and neo-Nazis, applied for a permit to hold an event on Aug. 26, at Crissy Field. As the land is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, it is under federal jurisdiction, and out of the city’s hands. But as the news spread, Mayor Ed Lee and Board of Supervisors President London Breed held a last-minute joint press conference condemning the decision to grant the permit, and made it clear that alt-right groups are not welcome in San Francisco.

Alt-right rallies don’t always have a great turn out. In April, media flocked to People’s Park in Berkeley when more than 200 alt-right protesters gathered in a “freedom of speech” rally. The attendees — many of whom had flown in from out of state — were geared up to fight, with milk for rinsing tear gas from their eyes, bags of first aid supplies, and protective gear like helmets and football shoulder pads. But the antifascists failed to show up, and instead of the expected brawl, the rally was peaceful and anticlimactic. All told, there were almost more media than alt-right defenders in attendance.

4. Thousands of Abandoned Burning Man Bikes Saved From Dump  (Sept. 13)

Ida Mojadad’s post about the excessive waste on the playa struck a chord with readers, probably because it undermines so much of Burning Man’s self-congratulatory ethos. 

This year, between 3,000-4,000 wobbly-looking bikes were left at the playa, Burning Man spokesperson Jim Graham says. The organization often finds 1,000-2,000 bicycles each year, despite telling participants that it’s their responsibility, but this year set a new record. …

Despite the action to salvage leftover bikes, locals and those on social media pointed out that not all Burners likely know that items they leave will definitely find a place outside of a landfill, and that they still leave the work to others after the party they enjoyed is over.

3. ORFN: A Life Under Shadows (July 19)

Stephen Jackson’s cover story from the summer looked at the impact a Bay Area-born graffiti artist had. Born Aaron Curry, ORFN was a prodigious figure before metastatic melanoma took his life in December 2016 at the age of 42.

ORFN “worked 24-seven, consistently, for 25 years — I mean on the street, and in his room,” [fellow artist Alicia McCarthy] says. “There was no separation of person and creativity. It was really all the same. He had his own vocabulary of looking in the world and being in the world.” …

He was one of the most prolific graffiti writers in Bay Area history, and for decades, you couldn’t walk a few blocks without seeing one of ORFN’s innocent, baby-faced characters sporting a smile next to one of his meticulously dated tags.

2. San Francisco Is Fucking Amazing and We Don’t Care What Bloodthirsty Racists Think (Dec. 1)

This one’s a little meta, we admit. When Nuala Sawyer reported on the not-guilty verdict in the Kate Steinle trial, an extraordinary number of people came to our Facebook page to vent. Except they weren’t regular readers, and they weren’t blowing off steam; they were legions of out-of-state right-wingers shrieking about “illegals” and how everyone in San Francisco and California deserved to die.  We are a progressive newspaper and, more importantly, we don’t believe the purpose of journalism is to publish stories then capitulate as the comments section fills up with racist trolls spewing garbage. So we wrote this rousing exhortation to why those jerks can go fuck themselves.

Let’s be clear about what these people are really pissed about, a combination of the true and the false, oxidized by their own righteous certitude. They’re mad that an undocumented, brown-skinned, homeless man (true) got away (false) with the murder (false) of a white woman (true) in a sanctuary city (true) because the justice system is skewed toward letting people of color commit crimes with impunity (false) something that also proves that white people can’t get a fair trial in America today (false) and if we had a border wall it would never have happened (false) and this whole thing is all directly traceable to the fact the Democrats want to destroy the country (false) by fighting against everything Trump supporters want (true) and even more so to the fact that Califuckya sux (false).

1. Everyone Who Works at Equifax Should Be Put to Death Tomorrow at Sunrise (Sept. 11)

As peons in a crushing oligarchy in which the richest people on Earth added trillions to their wealth this year along, we’re feeling the sting. When it was revealed that credit-bureau Equifax had known for weeks that hackers gained access to the personal financial data of 143 million Americans, it struck a particular nerve — and we wrote this semi-tongue-in-cheek essay about the grotesque imbalances between how America treats ordinary lawbreakers and lets so-called “white-collar criminals” largely off the hook. Clearly, many SF Weekly readers thought so, too, because it was our most widely read story of 2017. 

How is this not an absolutely intolerable state of affairs? This is a fuck-up of such magnitude that it has the potential to ruin millions of peoples’ lives for years, if not forever. So, because Equifax embodies the predatory model of late capitalism, and because it should have been focused with laser-like intensity on securing the vast hoards of personal financial information it profits from, and because it sat on knowledge of the hack for about seven weeks, and because it then attempted to herd the victims along an extortionate, self-absolving path, there really is only one answer. 

We must put every single person who works for Equifax to death. Preferably in public, tomorrow, at sunrise. 

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