San Francisco–live if you want it

I’ve been carrying on like most normal folks around here: if you’re at one event, you’re missing 5 others. No matter what, there’s always too much going on. Today I went to the rally on City Hall steps to stop the Redevelopment Commission from gobbling up another huge chunk of Bayview-Hunter’s Point neighborhood. Everyone seemed to realize that they were going to lose today’s ‘vote’ by the Redev. Commission, but it was a spirited gathering, reminding me of our days in the exact same spot 5 years ago when we were fighting the Seligman family over the Grant Building.

This is much bigger though, because as speaker after speaker noted, this is the last stand for San Francisco’s black population, already down from its 1970 peak of almost 100,000 to under 60,000. The machinery of displacement is being lined up and tuned up, and if it can be stopped, it will take a concerted movement of solidarity from people all over the city.

Here’s SF Bayview publisher Willie Ratcliff speaking (and do check out the paper and website, one of the best outlets of local journalism, covering New Orleans and Haiti like no other too):

And 84-year-old Edith Smith, not intending to speak as she arrived, decided to take the mic and make a passionate speech for her community:

It was a Tuesday at 3 p.m. so most people could not make a rally at City Hall at that time; consequently it was not a big crowd. There is also some real concern with this whole effort to resist redevelopment that a lot of people are so defeated already that there won’t be a sufficient mobilization. Another reason for an insufficient engagement is part of what I’ve vaguely been writing about lately: a general demise of familiar forms of doing politics. Some ANSWERistas came out to support the rally, but of course their typical signs and barking-style of rhetoric added nothing but their characteristic lustre of self-delusion and the despair that results from being berated by people of questionable mental health.

On April 12 at 8 p.m., we are hosting at CounterPULSE a Spring Talk on “Black Exodus/Black Eviction” with Willie Ratcliff, Alicia Schwartz of POWER, and filmmaker Kevin Epps.

But wait! There’s more!

The curious facility down the street from me called La Cocina held an open house yesterday. I went over, mostly as a neighbor, but also because I’m completely interested in any effort related to local food self-sufficiency. Here’s their cute ad:

I got to taste some awesome food, in particular a fantastic huarache and equally great sope from El Huaracho Loco who you can find at the Alemany Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. It was just like being in Mexico City, and I can tell you, that’s a world of difference from what passes as “Mexican” food around here!

Mystipies billed itself as “authentic South African cuisine” and served up some very delicate handmade meat and vegetable pies. It seemed quite British actually, but with a lightness and flavor that I wouldn’t normally associate with anything from an English kitchen, the chef was a descendent of the Indian colonists (like Gandhi) who inhabit South Africa to this day.

And several chocolatiers offered great samples too. Mirabai won my taste test.

We’re starting our own long-term engagement with local food production and enjoyment at CounterPULSE with a “Slow Food Feast of Fools and Friends” on Sunday, April 9 at 7 p.m. We are preparing an amazing 5-course, locally grown and produced dinner, along with brief talks, funny and charming performances, and some video clips. Please make your reservations now (415.626.2060).

After all that, I thought it might be fun to revisit a short post I made a while back about a building inspector stopping a huge construction project downtown. Here’s a picture of the 1818 whaling ship Candace, a ship they found as they began excavation:

The ship is visible in the middle of this photo just below the white and blue crane:

Now this same lot has been dug down “to bedrock” some workers assured us as we walked by ten days ago. And you can see how deep it is compared to where they found the Candace, which had simply sunk into the muck beneath Yerba Buena Cove. Seeing all the cement and rebar they’ve put down into this awesome hole, I’d like to think it could withstand a severe earthquake… but I don’t know. I actually doubt it, and apparently so did that building inspector who stopped the project for a time to ascertain its seismic safety. The workers on-site knew nothing about a halt in construction.

Wandering around San Francisco, going to public events, rallies, open houses… big rains and wind lately. Lots of socializing, reading, thinking, but nothing super deep or profound to report… Taking off for a week to northern California and Oregon, so maybe I’ll post some thoughts from the road…

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