Good News

It’s been very difficult to post anything here lately. There are several reasons: busy with the book, busy with Judy’s movie, busy with Judy’s Kickstarter campaign, have a lousy cold. Mostly though it’s because I’ve been quite pessimistic lately and haven’t wanted to unload that yet again on this blog. I wanted some good news first.

Well, there is some. First of all, Judy’s Kickstarter campaign succeeded. She made her goal of $50,000, so the project will be funded. Thank you to everyone who gave. And there is other good news: Yesterday, San Francisco voters passed Proposition B by a margin of 59 to 40 percent. Prop B requires that any building project on city-owned waterfront property that would exceed height limits already in place will require a vote of the people to proceed. There have been a lot of complaints that Prop B becomes city planning by the ballot box, that it’s inefficient, slow, open to corruption by politics and scares away developers (I hope). The reason the proposition became necessary is that the San Francisco city government is currently in the hands of developers. The city rubber stamps every development proposal no matter how massive, ugly and inappropriate. They want San Francisco to be a playground for the rich—the global rich. Local development organizations such as SPUR peddle the idea of the “New Urbanism,” which is really just the old urbanism with delusions of grandeur attached. SPUR seems to be made up of liberals who have lost their ideals but like to think that that they’re still forward-thinking. They push the idea that density makes a city vibrant. But it’s still just rats packed tight in a cage. I used to ask a friend who closely follows city politics what the ideology of organizations like SPUR was. He always looked at me with irritation—irritation at how slow and dull I was. “Money,” he would tell me. And I’ve come to see that he’s absolutely right. There is no ideology. Just the desire to get rich.

Proposition B is probably just a holding action. San Francisco has severely deteriorated in the past few years. It has become everything I came here to get away from. The cost of living here continues to drive out the people who see life as being about something more than making money. The developers and their allies are going to keep pushing. They are ruthless and see San Francisco as a goldmine that they are determined to exploit. I used to know a guy who believed that San Francisco was the New Jerusalem. It’s not. It’s just a plain old, garden-variety Babylon.


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11 Responses to “Good News”

  1. Derek Dubolski Says:

    Sadly this applies to some extent to Vancouver, BC, where the glass high rises continue to mushroom out of control, and incidentally often remain half empty for months if not years while the homeless litter the streets.Heritage homes/neighbourhoods are still being demolished so the rich can make even more money replacing them, often with hideous inferior structures.

    • markbittner Says:

      Vancouver is often pointed to here by the development types as what San Francisco ought to aim to be. I don’t know Vancouver, so I don’t know exactly what they mean, but I can guess. They are constantly saying that San Francisco needs to become a “world class” city, a term that makes me nauseous. San Francisco was world class. Not it’s become same old same old.

  2. Tim Mueller Says:

    “Greed is good”. Three little words can destroy a civilization.

    • markbittner Says:

      Yeah. I think that line is always attributed to a movie. But, as I recall, it originally comes from a real life speech by some Reagan-era moneyman. A commencement speech or something. That guy ended up in jail.

    • Sarah Says:

      Ivan Boesky is credited with inspiring the “greed is good” line, paraphrased from a May 18, 1986 commencement address he gave at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Business Administration. Boesky said then: “Greed is all right, by the way. I want you to know that. I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.” Boesky was later one of those convicted of insider-trading.

      Source: > Film & Hollywood > Wall Street’s Gekko

      The line is often attributed to Gordon Gekko, who portrayed (an ostensibly fictional yet undoubtedly composite character) Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone’s 1987 film Wall Street. According to Wikipedia, Gekko’s character is partially based upon Boesky.

      * * *

      I very much doubt prison did anything to change Boesky or others like him; rather, the experience probably just taught him and others how not to get caught when committing crimes in the future. Personality is almost always immutable. Perhaps not surprisingly, personality disorders (e.g., psychopathy) cannot be treated because they are not a form of mental illness. Psychopaths are aware; they just don’t care.

    • Sarah Says:

      The line is often attributed to Gordon Gekko, who portrayed (an ostensibly fictional yet undoubtedly composite character) Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone’s 1987 film Wall Street. According to Wikipedia, Gekko’s character is partially based upon Boesky.

      * * *

      Oops! I meant to write: The line is often attributed to Gordon Gekko (the ostensibly fictional yet undoubtedly composite character) in Oliver Stone’s 1987 film Wall Street.

    • markbittner Says:

      Yes, it was Boesky that I was remembering.

  3. Tim Mueller Says:

    The good news is that the tide is starting to turn, but a phoenix can only arise from ashes. Will we survive the conflagration? I don’t really care. I take comfort knowing that those who survive will create a more humane world. Until the whole starts over again…

  4. Tim Mueller Says:

    Until the whole thing starts over again. There, that’s better. I think.

  5. DWK Says:

    As a former resident of San Francisco, I can honestly say that when I visited the city a few years ago, after having been gone for 15 years, it in no way resembled the city I once knew. And yes, you are right: the ideology is simply “to be rich” and live in an increasingly sterile and Disneyfied environment. Unfortunately, this can be seen all across the US.

    • markbittner Says:

      When I was in my old hometown recently (Vancouver, Washington) I was sitting in a cafe noticing how similar the place was to San Francisco. Same characters, dressed the same way, doing the same things. I don’t think my old home town has become more like San Francisco so much as San Francisco has become more like my old hometown. There are a lot of people here in SF who get hostile if you point this kind of thing out. “Things change, buster. Get used to it.” That’s their attitude.

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