Archive for October, 2009

Gentrification Transformation

October 27, 2009

Bar = wine bar

Corner store = whole foods

Autobody shop = bike shop

Martial arts storefront = yoga storefront

Pawnshop = pre owned baby clothes shop

Broken pontiac = new audi

Butcher = artisan cheese shop

Dollar store = art gallery

County Social Services = Dog therapy

Methadone clinic = individual brew coffee

Emergency room = aromatherapy shop

Cabinet shop = clothing boutique

Tattoo parlor = Tattoo parlor

Evangelical church =  Buddhist temple

Rent party = benefit

Hoops = slack rope

Raiders jersey = Man U jersey

Track suit = hemp clothing

Boarded up windows = double insulated, high e windows

Satellite dish = solar panels

Nail Salon = tanning salon

Pit = Golden retriever

Corner preacher = author’s  book reading

Chips and pepsi = oatmeal and hot cocoa

Getting by = self actualization

Alive = Lifestyle

Good Enough Diploma = Graduate degree

Year in Juvi = year abroad

Got your back = letter of recommendation

Sideshow= burning man

5 people in 2 room apartment = 2 people in 5 room house

Check cashing store = 401 K


More Fun With Immigration

October 23, 2009

Or as some people prefer, “Illegal immigration”.

Ok, i get that some people think it’s unfair that they should have to play by the rules, and others dont.

Still, i wonder if the people who are angry would feel the same if the immigrants were from, say, Denmark.

Anyhow, there was  a bunch of activity recently with police harassing latino immigrants in my city.

After doing some research, i found it was all coming from the major, who is running for governor.

He was told he looked  soft on immigrants, so the people the major works for hired the guy from the Balco deal, kevin ryan,  to run a hassle and deport the immigrants program.

Mr. Ryan was available because he had recently been fired by the feds.

He was not only the main guy behind the balco thing, he was the ONLY guy.

And all because Barry Bonds apparently snubbed him when he wanted an autograph.

Anyhow, i work a lot with immigrants and they have a ton of stories.

Here’s  a common one;  getting pulled over for a broken headlight.

When the driver says there is nothing wrong with the light, the officer insists there is and tries to write a ticket.

When the driver keeps insisting, and a crowd gathers, the officer relents, the driver gets out, and it’s obvious the lights are fine.

The officer gives up.

Or asking for papers from passengers which is not allowed on a routine stop.

But my favorite is ringing the doorbell at 3 in the morning, addressing the person by name and asking for papers.

A couple of guys told me of being put in a bus with 30 other guys and taken to jail.

There are also unmarked cars hanging around the elementary schools when parents drop off the kids.

Look, regardless of how you feel about immigrants,  it;s a pretty crappy thing to break up families because you want to be governor.

And, it happens to be in violation of the letter and spirit of the official sanctuary policy of the city.

Just read a great book;  Wherever there’s a fight, ( Stan Yogi, Elaine Elinson, Heyday books).

It;s about the history of California and miscegenation, ethnic cleansing. scapegoating and civil rights.

Its amazing how little things change.

UPDATE: One of the supervisors, himself a former “illegal alien” ( how cool is that?) managed to get a policy in place to allow imigrants 20 minutes to have somebody else come and get their car when they are pullled over.

This saves the car from getting impounded.

Of course, if you call me, it might take me 20 minutes to put my pants on much less get over to where you are.

UPDATE: Mayor Gavin Newsom has announced he is dropping out of the govenor’s race.

He did not mention mrpoopypants in his news conference, but instead made other excuses.

Exciting News!

October 23, 2009


Write Your Own Caption

October 9, 2009

The crowd in front of the Star stage at the Hardly Strict... Lea Suzuki / The Chronicle

I was going to write a smarmy comment, but for once i’ll restrain myself.

Actually, i love the lighting in this photo.

This is  from an article in sfgate about the  hardly strictly bluegrass festival.

l got permission from the author as long as i include a link  #mce_temp_url#

Aside from the fact that it draws pretty much one type of ethnicity to the event,

the music is performed by living humans, and it’s free, which is, or course, great.

Parking Tickets

October 6, 2009

Yeah, i know.

Major rant bait.

It’s just that every municipality is broke so they are on a rampage to increase ticket revenue by extending hours, increase the fees, and step up enforcement.

So what’s wrong with that?

Just two things:

It’s regressive and it’s cowardly.

It’s regressive because a $100 ticket means one thing to a $400 dollar an hour lawyer, and another to the Guatemalan lady who is getting paid $60 to drive over and spend the day cleaning his house.

And cowardly because politicians don’t have the backbone to get up in public and say we need to raise taxes or cut services.

The adjoining community just extended the meters to 9pm and  stepped up “chicken poop” tickets like not having your wheels curbed exactly right, etc.

There was a huge revolt, with voters threatening a recall of the supes.

I’m sure the politicians noticed and will go back to the boiling the frog technique of  slowly raising the fees every 6 months.


My city announced plans today to extend the meters till midnight and also sundays.

UPDATE: The online version of the paper reported today that officers were instructed to not write parking tickets in wealthy areas. Sadly, i’m not joking.


In Defense Of Dirt

October 3, 2009

I don’t mean gourmet gardener’s soil, or smut.

I mean the idea of  decay as it relates to community.

The minute you finish building a house it starts to fall apart.

Actually even as you build it.

And the minute a car comes off the assembly line, the clock starts ticking.

And our  own bio structures  start to decay all too soon.

But in my city, the civic planners seem to want to create a sterile, socially engineered  place.

They like to plan these huge developments that are whole neighborhoods.

And remove the existing “blight” because there is ” nothing there”.

And to cut off the past because for planners there is only the present.

You know, people don’t come to my city because it’s clean and safe.

They left places like that because they are boring.

Innovation doesn’t come from homogeneity.

Switzerland is hyper clean and  is  highly controlled.

When was the last time the world’s necks were craned in their direction?

Just as a healthy planet needs biodiversity, a city or bioregion needs to have a mix.

And it needs dirt.

It needs some funky run down areas to act as incubators.

To give room to breath and allow people to try new things.

To allow failure because we learn from failure.

And to not be planned, but to just happen and evolve organically.

Our planners are in love with planning.

They have a god complex.

But by the time the plan has been implemented it is obsolete.

If anything, local government should stay out of the way and  limit itself to small nudges here and there.

All the new job and idea  creation is in micro sized businesses.

You know we used to see tidal wetlands as  wasted , useless areas.

Now we are starting to understand the important functions they perform.

Just to be clear i’m not romanticizing poverty.

But these huge “office parks” and  contrived  ” tech zones” have a way of turning into ghost towns.

They don’t have the agility to adapt.

When i walk down most streets in my town, i see buildings on every block from different decades going back over 100 years.

All different colors and styles.

And they just happened this way over a period of time, the way a tree grows.

I love this.

I see this as a metaphor for diversity.

When you live in a development where every apartment looks the same,

what is that a metaphor for?

The big developments are like economic, cultural, and architectural strip mining.

Let’s leave a little room for dirt, and rust, and the unexpected.