Parallel Universes

Ai  Weiwei's legos
Ai Weiwei’s legos

I’ve learned why the Judge is taking so long to rule on my Motion to Quash. I read the transcript for my neighbor’s hearing which was held two weeks after mine and during the proceedings the Judge mentioned my case. Three of the six issues raised in my Motion had already been denied by him in other cases. But they are all being appealed so he is waiting for the Appellate Court to rule before he makes a decision in mine. It could be a few more weeks. So life goes on.

Yesterday life took me down to the Civic Center where I marveled at two double-decker tour buses making their way up Larkin. They had a combined total of three tourists riding on them. It’s a common sight these days in this very green city. Then there was the bride bounding up the steps of City Hall in the bright mid-day sun, doing her bit to preserve the sanctity of the photo-op.

Nothing against photo-ops but it is mainly the tourists I’ve been thinking about this week. It started Sunday evening on my way home from dinner in Berkeley. When I exited the Powell Bart Station the street was swarming with people at 9:00. Locals are never downtown this time of night, the crowd was all from the neighborhood hotels.

They come to Union Square to shop in the same chain stores that are in every other major city. Somehow it’s more special to buy that tube top here in San Francisco. You can always exchange it at the mall when you get home to Tampa.

On Tuesday I went with Kathy to see the Ai Weiwei Installation on Alcatraz. I still haven’t made up my mind about it. Although elements of it were beautiful I didn’t quite get the feeling the artist was going for. The images of political prisoners juxtaposed against the antiquated prison facility were supposed to leave me with something. But they didn’t. I blame the tourists.

Alcatraz was inundated with them, the ferries that left every half hour were packed with hundreds per crossing. I couldn’t believe so many people would want to be out and about on such a dreary, rainy April day. But the tour probably came with their package and they weren’t about to be cheated.

This crowd was a little more interesting than the Union Square one because there was a lot of German, French, and Italian being spoken. Still, a herd is a herd and the constant jostling mixed with the barrage of stupid questions gets on your nerves.

When you live in San Francisco you quickly learn to block out the touristy parts of town. Millions visit here every year but there’s an art to knowing which places or areas to avoid. If done properly you can go weeks without making contact.

I probably go to Union Square the most, once or twice a month, and Chinatown a few times per year. But I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to Fisherman’s Wharf and Alcatraz over the last four decades. There really is no reason to go there other than a travel agent suckering you into it.

Along with the Financial District people who commute in from the suburbs for their 9-5 lives and the absentee investors in China who are buying luxury condos for their annual visit, we have this constant tourist population. The City is becoming a shell for people who don’t live here but who provide a great revenue stream for City Hall.

Doing the Sister Luke at one of San Francisco's many fine tourist attractions, New St. Mary's
Doing the Sister Luke at one of San Francisco’s many fine tourist attractions, New St. Mary’s

Next: When You’re Sitting Back in Your Rose Pink Cadillac
Previous: Thus Spake My Readership
The complete saga, From the Beginning


Thus Spake My Readership

fans2The comments I’ve gotten from readers over the last several months have usually been along the lines of “take that picture of me down or I’ll sue.” But there have been others.

One was from a journalism student in Denver who wanted to interview me about the current rental crisis in the City. Unfortunately, I was out-of-town the week he was here. And recently there was the reader who said he and his family were interested in buying this building until he happened upon my blog.

Daniel Brett, who works in the social investing field, wrote, “I communicated to the broker that we don’t support people using the Ellis Act to flip properties. Hopefully the message was shared with the owner so they think twice before doing this again. Had I not come across your blog and learned about the owner, we might have bought the place. So kudos to you for speaking truth to power.”

In writing about my situation I tend to treat the real estate industry as a monolith of greed because it’s so much easier to deal in stereotypes than to think things through. Mr. Brett’s email made me realize that they’re not all the same and that there are still players in the game who have a sense of responsibility. Their practices should put the Andrew Zachs, Denise Leadbetters, and Vince Youngs of the world on notice that you can make money in real estate without ruining people’s lives.

Next: Parallel Universes
Previous: The Folks at Home
The complete saga, From the Beginning




The Folks at Home

Still no decision from the court after two weeks and my neighbor’s hearing has been postponed a couple of times. All because of the huge backlog in Ellis Act cases.

So while I wait I’ve turned my attention to the Hoosier State where I grew up and where a lot of my family still lives. I visit them often. And when I do the number one topic of conversation is always that they don’t have enough freedom to practice their religion and how the government has failed to step in to tackle this oppression.

I notice it especially when we’re at one of our favorite Amish restaurants for lunch. The piped-in Muzak is this heavy on the tremolo organ playing hymns like “The Old Rugged Cross.” There is no better aid to the digestion than the feeling of being at a Dust Bowl funeral.

But seriously, I thought my work was done back there when we liberated the state in the early 70’s. Apparently it’s time for a second offensive.


The Eviction Story