Monday, September 10, 2012

it's just the same old thing

A few years ago Alternative Tentacles reissued a demo tape onto 10” vinyl that the Melvins had sent into them in the early ’80s that Jello had rediscovered in his archive. To commemorate the occasion they performed the record, in the style of so many bands nowadays, “performing” records from years ago like they are theatre. It was at the Great American Music Hall in SF, with Jello as support, I got to go for free as my boyfriend works for the distribution company that AT go through; I think I even wrote about it in this space, about how the sound was too “pro gear pro attitude” and didn’t match up with the scrappiness of the essentially HC demo at all. And about Jello pantomiming to a song called something like “Coffee Plantation” about all the laptop droids that are taking over coffee shops in cities, and their barista/server overlords. Well, as you may or may not know San Francisco is in the middle of another dot com boom; Twitter and Facebook and a million other start ups and app creators are infesting our beautiful formally bohemian city and Valencia Street, once center of the anti-yuppie anti-dot com movement is now totally filled with young people wearing made in America denim with Lil House on the Prairie mustaches and sitcom blank eyes consuming all they can... I haven’t lived in the Mission for five years, and even when I lived there it was clear things were changing, Valencia has been gentrifying for over twenty years at this point in time, but it’s apparent the onslaught of the dot com deluge is final and complete. Walking past Adobe Books and seeing the closing sign in the window felt like someone had finally taken the air out of the tires of what this city was. Abobe is a local cultural institution, a second hand bookstore that lets day laborers and itinerant types sleep on the many chairs, that hosts art openings and readings by punks and others who don’t fit into San Francisco’s Literary Brunch scene. It truly was a magical place, somewhere to disappear for a few hours, and it’s so gross that it’s probably gonna be some gnarly reclaimed wood steam punk douche hang out that serves artisan pickles in a few months. The city is on its knees begging for corporations to take huge tax breaks and turn this place into an extension of the suburbs in which they should be existing. People that are unfortunate enough to have to work in Silicon Valley still get to live here, and get driven out on company busses sometimes further north than Sacramento to their places of employment. It’s not longer “cool” to live in the safety of the suburbs, so the tactic is to transform San Francisco into such a place...
It’s clear they have taken the city bar a few
undesirable neighborhoods, but give them time! Give them time; the entire city shall be theirs. Maybe even the foggy desolate ocean-side neighborhood I live in. Right now they are invaders, but maybe they’ll wanna make it home soon? Hopefully not! It’s a good seven mile cycle to the Mission, eight miles to North Beach, so maybe a bit far from the authentic Victorian barber shop recreations, pour over coffee and selvedge denim emporiums. All you need to do to change the world is change the channel. The old beer vats that punks once squatted are now condos, and reading about old existences in the city fills me with nostalgia and melancholy... Radical labor movements from the early part of the last century have ceded to this?!
Today I was walking around hitting up all the thrift stores, which is what I like to do on my day off, and it reminded me of living in lower Manhattan in the late ’90s/early ’00s, when it started to feel like I was living in a mall rather than a city. SF is much smaller than NYC and the neighborhoods are separated by huge hills, so it’s easy to stay in one neighborhood and never venture out of it, sorta like the uptown/downtown dichotomy of NYC I guess? But the globalness of cool, the insidiousness and ultimately meaninglessness of hipsterisms, where everything is a commodity, especially ideas, culture, clothing, anything that someone can attach meaning to and use to sell a product to kids who want more more more of something new new new. This hyper real hyper endless culture: blurred amoral bathtub drugged out times, Jane Birkin-ed out girls, every boy just stepped of a yacht in a Carly Simon song, it feels like that “hot tub yuppies in Marin on coke” era of post-’60s radicalism: the seventies of Steely Dan blandness, mellow “authenticity” with no sharp questions about race or class. Just for the feeeeling, don’t step on anyone’s toes. Everyone loves post-glam-beachpunk-surf-garage fuzz and is fucking boring and an oblivious yuppie consuming lifestyle like it’s coke in a golden bowl. Tumblr blog desolation. Got the outfit, got the cash, let’s blow it all on shitty music and a bland time! As Esmeralda of Noh Mercy stated in these pages a few months back, Valencia Street (and all the other similar streets of shame) are full of  yuppies, not “hipsters.”
Anyway, teenage tantrums, nostalgia, DIY, off the pigs and up the punks. //

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