Tag Archives: San Francisco

Dante’s Infirmity

23 May

For me the greatest irony of living in a large, multi-kulti city is that, while familiarity with a diverse cross-section of humanity has expanded my consciousness, cultural horizons, and overall tolerance, it has also made me fantastically more judgmental.  But as a wise man once said – I’m not prejudiced; I dislike everyone equally.

annoying and ridiculous

annoying and ridiculous

Naked gay guys? Annoying and ridiculous. Old Chinese people?  Rude, pushy and cheap.  XXXL, Suburban-driving 49ers fans?  Neanderthals.  Panhandling Haight Street crusties?  A scourge on humanity.  White collar, high-maintenance Uber-Moms?  Self-righteous be-yotches with fucked-up priorities.  Skinny-jeaned, fixie-ridin’ hipsters?  Poseurs.

See what I mean?  All are disliked equally.

So obviously, no one cares what I think; that’s not my point.  My point is that I am so uncomfortable with the paradox.  I am tortured by my co-existing but irreconcilable traits, Love-of-Diversity and Disdain-For-Virtually-Everyone.

Eons ago I ran a homeless feeding program in Hollywood.  While I took on the job primarily for the employment, not for the sake of being some Amazing Fucking Altruist, I felt good about helping my community.  Homelessness in Los Angeles, is after all, you know, a problem, and I might as well be a part of the solution, right?  Fast forward six months, however, and my capacity for empathy had shrunk like wool socks in a dryer; I began to see the clients as perpetually whining infants incapable of doing anything for themselves.  Without a background in social work or psychology or drug counseling or mental health treatment (HOW did I get this job?), I had no tools to understand or grapple with their vast gaps in logic or lack of basic life skills.  I just wanted to slap and shake some of them and shout “has it ever occurred to you that maybe there’s a REASON why you are homeless??!!”

It's agreed - she's in

It’s agreed – she’s in

That is just SO wrong.  Is there anything lower than hating homeless people?  As I couldn’t reconcile my newfound Ninth-Circle-of-Hell evilness with my generally liberal social beliefs, I quit that job before Satan or Jesse Helms or whoever’s in charge down there recruited me to be his right-hand gal.  I do really and truly, deep down, want to embrace the beauty of imperfect humanity, love my fellow man, and live and let live.  Really and truly.

Which I guess is pretty much what I DO do.  Secretly.  And with judgments, lots and lots of judgments.  Mostly as a survival mechanism when the great crush of multitudes gets to be too much, or – fuck it, let’s face it, it’s fun to make snarky comments to yourself about people you don’t know.  Whenever I get a little too nasty though, and wonder if maybe it’s time to blow this leftier-than-thou, ridiculously expensive popsicle stand, I realize the alternatives would only magnify my misanthropy.  A few hours in my native Orange County and BOY do I remember how I love the City folks!

Stinkeye of the Beholder

17 Nov

So last week we received a notice from the SF Dept of Public Works, rather shoddily masking-taped to our front stairs, chastising us for the presence of graffiti on our property.  We have 30 days to either “remove” the graffiti or request a “graffiti hardship hearing,” or those mean old DPW folks will be really, really mad.

Exhibit A: The Virtually Unnoticeable Tag

Now, I’m as displeased by excessive graffiti as the next gal, while simultaneously acknowledging the validity of the debate over whatconstitutes Crappy Eyesore Graffiti versus Graffiti of Artistic and/or Cultural Merit (a subject I will leave happily untouched at the moment), but this notice really pissed me the fuck off.  Said graffiti at issue, a roughly 2″ by 5″ tag in thin black marker writtenon the forest green trim around our gas meter, is hardly even visible from the street; my boyfriend had to literally walk over and point at it before I even noticed it. Actually, this miniscule, tidy little tag struck me as rather conservative and almost considerate, especially given that we have a corner house with giant, white wall running along a sidewalk that virtually screams “scrawl your graffiti HERE!”

Exhibit B: the Scourge of 18th & Mission

OK, so back to being totally pissed off.  There are two possibilities here, both of which irk the shit out of me: 1) one of the many local passers-by who regularly stroll past our house reported it, even though the tag is, as I said, miniscule, and hadn’t even been there a week; or 2) the broke-ass City of San Francisco somehow manages to pay people to inspect every building in town in minutiae and cite all graffiti-hosting offenders, no matter how incredibly minor the visual offense.  As if there weren’t any bigger fish to fry around here. And by fish I of course mean crime, and if we’re just talking about the graffiti, I’d say the abandoned 99 Cent Storeat 18th & Mission has been by far the biggest of those particular fish for a couple of years now.

Still determined to avoid diverging into the gory but popular debate about what really constitutes “graffiti,” I will note here that I was further incensed, in scanning the details of the shoddily-taped notice, to discover that crucial to the City’s definition of graffiti is that the “inscription, word, figure, marking or design” was “affixed, marked, etched, scratched, drawn or painted” without the property owner’s consent.  So how in the hell do they know that I didn’t put it there myself?  Or ask a friend to etch it on there for me?  As I said, the tiny tag was almost sort of cute, a petite little “design,” if you will.

Having my father’s impulsive, anti-authority genes, my first thought was of course to call DPW and speak snidely and condescendingly to whomever was unfortunate enough to be working the phones that day.  But then I remembered my more conservative, considerably less impulsive co-owner of the domicile in question, and figured I should probably cool my jets, at least for a few days. We wereplanning to paint over it, after all (we just don’t happen to have the exact color of paint at the moment); probably he was going to suggest that that’s what we still should do. Surprisingly however, after brief discussion of the matter, I was given full reign to handle the matter as I saw fit (insert devilish smiley-face emoticon here).

Exhibit C: The Fix

So, voila, my resolution to the matter.

As one can readily see, my talents in the visual arts are limited; I imagined it looking much cooler than this.  Actually the main reason it didn’t come out that great is because I was really nervous while I was drawing it, thinking someone was going to try and stop me or something, though probably very few of my neighbors’ English skills are good enough to communicate that concern.  I did manage to follow most of the lines of the original tag, which was my main intent – just to pretty-fy it and turn it into a decoration of sorts.  It will probably still garner the stinkeye from pedestrians regardless … as for what the DPW has to say, well, stay tuned!