Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Displacing Humanity in the City of Love

The displacement of low-income tenants and the attack on City College of San Francisco are connected. As the city with the most expensive rents in the US, San Francisco real estate is a valuable commodity; conversion of public benefit properties like rent-controlled apartments and college campuses to speculation sites is a logical market-oriented solution. This logic, unfortunately, means that San Francisco's cultural creativity and diversity will soon be gone.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Fillmore

David Johnson, Fillmore District photographer, captured on film.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Cannabis Fair

Legalizing cannabis in Washington and Colorado was a great idea, as far as it goes. It's quite an improvement over medical dispensaries, that require a physicians approval.

Still, licensed retail cannabis stores have a long way to go in providing affordable and accessible marijuana to those who need or want it. Consumers that live in small towns or rural areas might have to travel a couple hundred miles round trip to keep themselves supplied.

Colorado converted medical dispensaries to full-service retail outlets, thereby bypassing the onerous regulatory red tape imposed in Washington, where prices in non-metro areas are double the prices in Seattle, and four times that of the black market. While supporting public services with cannabis taxes is fine, it won't work if the legal price is so out of whack.

Someday, when cannabis fairs and festivals are the norm, and cannabis lounges dot the urban landscape like cocktail lounges do today, we'll wonder why it took so long. The answer, of course, is to be found in Puritanism and government corruption.

But who wants to talk about that, when there's so much fun to be had?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Milk Stamp

The Harvey Milk stamp was issued today by the U.S. Postal Service.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Connecting with Their Dreams

In the Fall of 2004, I volunteered at 826 Valencia, a non-profit in the Mission District that teaches writing skills to K-12 kids in San Francisco. One of the 826 in-school programs is tutoring high school seniors on their college application essays. For first generation English-speaking teenagers, learning to express themselves in a compelling way -- despite their grammatical limitations -- is perhaps their greatest challenge.

Working with students at Galileo Academy, I found that one way of connecting with their dreams was to read their stories about themselves, their families and peers. It's where they reveal their aspirations, anxieties and aptitudes.

As I wrote afterward in Galileo Glory, discovering the meaning of life at sixteen is a burden that needs to be shared.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Cultural Creatives

Often overlooked in the celebrated cultural icons emanating from The City by the Bay is Jay Ward, creator and producer of animated TV cartoon shows, including the revolutionary Rocky and Bullwinkle. Ward, along with Al Feldstein, editor of MAD magazine, instilled in my generation a healthy distrust of politicians, as well as disbelief in conventional wisdom. It is perhaps not a stretch to say these two cultural creatives of the 1950s laid the essential groundwork for the hippie counterculture of the 1960s.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Rock and roll in the 1960s Bay Area was replete with superstars, but the homegrown bands alone were remarkable. My three favorites were Creedence Clearwater Revival, It's a Beautiful Day, and the Grateful Dead.

Who can forget rocking to Suzie Q, White Bird, or Truckin'?