Been thinking a lot about entitlement and capitalist greed due to recent run-ins with the neighborhood association that formed a couple of years ago for the three little alleys that make up my micro-neighborhood. We didn't have a neighborhood association until condos started taking over the neighborhood. The first thing to go was my view of Potrero Hill, but that was just the beginning. Eventually a condo was built on my block, directly across the street—it's barely a street, too narrow for cars to park on both sides. Thus only a few feet from my bedroom, people hang out on a balcony talking, people walk around half naked with the curtains to their 2-story front window open. No place to rest my eyes except on these lives I'm not really interested in. I can still see fireworks from my kitchen window, but I know some day that too will end.
The new owners of the condo across the street have put up some kind of screen in front of the bed, but when the curtains were open the second floor loft bed used to be visible. The original owner of the condo was this really vile woman whose creepy boyfriend would lean on the balcony railing and stare openly into my bedroom. One night we looked out and saw them having sex. She was on the bottom and her legs stuck straight up in the air, and Kevin and I went on the outdoor landing of our building to get a better look at her V-splayed legs bobbing up and down. That same autumn she turned her stereo full blast late one evening—programmed to alternate between two then current pop hits, "Hung Up" by Madonna, and that song by Kelly Rowland "My Boo." Then she passed out. She had a really good sound system, it was like having a disco across the street, the walls were rattling, she woke up everybody. We called the cops, and she wouldn't answer the buzzer, and when they got in the building and banged on her door, she couldn't answer the door, so the cops called the fire department and the firemen put up a ladder to the side of the condo and crawled up to her balcony and through an open window and surrounded her bed. We invited people from the street up to our landing so they could get a better view, and we took pictures of the firemen on the ladder. It was 4 in the morning, almost worth being up just to see the expression on her face when she awoke and men in uniform were surrounding her.
The neighborhood association is obsessed with property values and thus are waging war on taggers. One of them caught a tagger in the act, and grabbed a can of spraypaint and sprayed the tagger. He was seen as a sort of hero on the neighborhood listserve. Another called the cops on two 17-year-old taggers and four patrol cars came out and arrested them, and there followed many "way to go!" messages on the listserve, and I unsubscribed.
Another thing they complain about on the listserve is the eyesore apartment building being constructed on Mission and 10th. The other day when I was on the Mission bus going downtown, I noticed a sign in front of the eyesore and it said Mercy Housing. I looked up Mercy Housing and here's what I found:
Mercy Housing California is developing a former parking lot into two affordable rental housing developments that together will form an intergenerational community in the mid Market neighborhood of San Francisco. Both developments are high rise buildings with significant amount of secure open space, a 5,400 square foot youth and family center, a 400 square foot primary health clinic, and ground floor neighborhood serving retail space. Residents are within the heart of the Civic Center community, close to services and employment centers, 23 MUNI lines and BART.
10th and Mission Family Housing: 136 apartments for lower income families in a new 12-story building. Units will be affordable to households ranging from 15% AMI to 50% AMI. Forty-four of the units will be targeted for occupancy by chronically homeless families referred by the City.
I looked up AMI = Area Median Income. 2009 Median Income for San Francisco is $67, 750 for a single person and $96,800 for a family of four. No one ever mentioned on the list that it was low-income housing that they were complaining about. The complaints were about how the scale of the building was inappropriate to the neighborhood. I'm saddened my funky, arty neighborhood has been invaded by such right-wing attitudes.
Does gentrification always feel heartless? Last Sunday I went to Cafe Flore with Bruce Boone. Bruce is rather frail these days due to the recent death of Jaime, his partner of 18 years. Bruce brought along Sadie, his teeny Yorkie, as we've taken her to the Flore before. She was a companion dog for Jaime, but in all the chaos surrounding his death, her tags have been lost. The Flore, which in the 80s was ultra-hip, punk, outrageous, is now really popular again, but with a more conservative crowd. Bruce and Sadie sat at a table beside this guy in his 30s with a shaved head, while I went to order our food. I saw the guy talking to Bruce, figuring they were chitchatting. After a while Bruce came up to me in line and said we had to move, as the guy was asking for Sadie's tags and papers, and said he wasn't sitting next to any dog. So we moved our stuff to another table across the room, and I got at the end of the line again, and a few minutes later, Bruce came up and said we had to leave, that the manager came up to him and told him no dogs. The asshole guy had complained. This really disturbed me, it was so unkind, for no reason. Who could be so rude to a frail man in his 70s? I wish I'd taken a picture of the guy, but I didn't. Here's a 2007 picture of Bruce I stole from X Poetics:
I visited Jaime a few weeks before he died. It was before the pain of his cancer became unbearable, just before. Jaime was half lying, half sitting up in bed, eating oatmeal and cinnamon toast. He said that he was calling up all the people who meant a lot to him and telling them how much they meant, telling him that he loved them. He said he was lucky to be able to do this, that knowing he was dying was a blessing in a way.
So, I'd like to end this post with some sweetness, some Barf photos I've had for ages but forgot to post. Here's two majorly cute pix from Erica Kaufman of her dog Isabel (that looks like Stacy Szymaszek's forehead behind the book in the top pic):
And here's two of sweet, generous, gorgeous Colter Jacobsen, who did the lettering and cover design of Barf Manifesto. (These photos are by Andrew McKinley.)
Colter helped me apply a clear privacy film to my bedroom window in order to block my view of the condo, but still allow light to enter. To burnish the film he used a copy of Deepak Chopra's Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.