April 28th, 2002


Meaningless Changes in the Urban Landscape

My housemate was in a bar last night when the Victorian next door to it caught on fire. It made me think of the little things in SF that aren’t here anymore. Not necessarily good or bad, just things and places that were a part of my landscape for awhile and then disappeared with no notice. Don’t worry, this isn’t a played out anti-gentrification rant (I’ll save that for another day). Most of these places I had no contact with except for passing them by every day.

The Victorian that caught on fire was an RCP* house for awhile. Don’t get me wrong. I hate the RCP and almost everything they stand for, but it was lovely to walk by and see a half-burned, upside down American flag and their latest propaganda. Years later, I will now admit that I think the slogan "Mao More than Ever" was funny and clever, especially for sectarians.

And I miss the Libertarian bookstore. Again, I have no love for their politics but I do have a weakness for cranks. I loved the hand-made posters they’d hang on the outside of their unpainted, crumbling Victorian when another "liberty" was endangered in their one-track minds. It was on the ground floor of what is the new Gay/Lesbian Community Center.

I miss Super Taco on Valencia, decorated by the painting of a taco with a head, arms, legs, and a Superman cape that looked like it was drawn by someone’s young, and not very talented, child. I miss the stained glass leather flag in the corner apartment at Valencia and Duboce. I miss the huge bay window full of plants on Dolores near 18th that must have blocked all the sun from going inside. I miss the little shack on Guerrero near 19th that was almost impossible to see from the street because of the trees and plants.

Does anyone else remember the tiny triangular bar that was on the corner of the MUNI yard at 17th and Folsom? Sometimes I wonder if I just imagined it, it’s been gone so long. I guess the city thought a bar that was so easily accessible to MUNI drivers on breaks wasn’t such a good thing.

Change certainly isn’t all bad either. I don’t miss my neighbor on Mission and 20th with a hand-lettered "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign over his doorway. I don’t miss the horrible mural of the rainbow and waterfall on Real Good Karma that I saw every day out my apartment window for two years. I certainly don’t miss Real Good Karma, the worst vegetarian restaurant in history. Though when someone changed the sign to read Real Goo Karma it made everything better.

*Revolutionary Communist Party. Virulently homophobic as well as authoritarian Maoist followers of a guy named Bob Avakian who lives in "exile" in France. Echoing English and Nazi German laws of gender distinction, male homosexuals would be jailed after their revolution while female homosexuals would be simply re-educated for their mistaken ideology. Even some of the true believers know this is kind of a dumb stance to take, especially at demos in SF. Once, approached to buy a copy of "Revolutionary Worker’ I said, "No way. I don’t want that crap." The paper-seller replied, "It’s the homosexual thing, isn’t it?"

  • Current Music
    Grand Master Flash's Old School Rap Vol. 3
  • Tags