Tuesday, October 24, 2006

But who will speak for the trees?

Tuesday's Wall Street Journal (sorry, no link - it is actually one of the only things I still read a hard copy of) ran a front page story about a controversy brewing in San Francisco over . . . trees:

"'Wanted' posters went up around the Tenderloin last year, featuring Ms. Abst's photo. Someone circulated pamphlets disparaging her. Residents yelled at her in the street. Ms. Abst's offense: trying to plant 400 trees in the area. 'I had no idea that cleanliness, beauty, and safety could get people so riled up,' the 58-year-old says.

In San Francisco's Tenderloin, residents aren't fighting the usual gentrification battle over displacing low-income families. Instead they are fighting for the neighborhood's gritty ambiance."
I've actually stayed in the Tenderloin a few times over the years. It is a pretty good neighborhood for finding (especially along the periphery) cheaper tourist hotels, and I've hit it when I've been on a particularly tight budget. It is also notoriously crime-ridden, and full of a number of other problems. Definitely not the place for everybody (before all of you run off to book your rooms). And, to be blunt, it could use some trees.

Carolynn Abst opened a business there in 1999, and moved into the neighborhood to live with her husband as well. I mention this to suggest that, having been there a number of years now both professionally and privately, she certainly has earned the right to participate in local politics and issues. Then again, I guess not everyone agrees:

"Ms. Anarchy says she frequently consults with Mr. Sycamore to figure out ways to stop beautification efforts. She attends neighborhood meetings held by the likes of Ms. Abst in order to disrupt the gatherings, loudly seeking to refocus the proceedings on her agenda of rights for sex workers. 'I'm giving voice to the voiceless,' Ms. Anarchy says."
The group that put out the wanted posters is called Gay Shame and refers to itself as "a Virus in the System." Visiting their website is the kind of thing that you do on a slow afternoon is order to get a chuckle. Today was just such a day.

They are actually against gay marriage. Of course, that is because they are against all forms of marriage:

"Don't forget-marriage is the central institution of that misogynist, racist system of domination and oppression known as heterosexuality. Don't get us wrong-we support everyone's right to fuck whomever they want-we're just not in favor of supporting the imperialist, bloodthirsty status quo."
They are also so against pretty much any form of economic prosperity and commerce that they even targeted the business that has been in the neighborhood for over 30 years and gives them free meeting space (despite not being able to make its own rent). Oops:

"Gay Shame frequently encounters hostility for challenging inconsistencies; we consider this risk-taking a measure of our own integrity. Nevertheless, we do have a reputation for making rash decisions, and the stencil outside Modern Times did not improve our (usually undeserved) image. Nor did it help to articulate our politics-- we ended up removing the stencil from the sidewalk with a toxic can of chemicals. Some within the group believed that we were backing down from our politics, but most of us were glad to find a remedy to an uncomfortable situation."
They may be against most businesses, but they certainly know what they are for - sex in public:
"While sex is not legal in bars, My Place has been renowned for decades as a backroom dive. Clearly, the bar is walking a delicate line in order to stay open, but talking about 'getting rid' of the clientele who have kept the bar open and hiring 'sex police' to do the ABC's job is unacceptable, and furthers a reactionary, silencing agenda. . . We will not accept a crackdown on public sex. . ."
They are definitely no fans of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, and are probably the only people in the country who think he is some kind of far right stooge They do have a mayoral platform of their own, though (which I will give them the benefit of the doubt about and assume is satire):
"All members of the SFPD and any other law enforcement agency will be used as nutritious compost to fertilize Golden Gate Park.

Mary supports terrorism in all its forms…as long as the right people get hurt!! . . .

Last year over 169 homeless people dies on the streets of San Francisco. This year 16,900 rich fascist politicians will take their places. . .

Unemployed activists will be given productive employment throwing rocks and boulders through the windows of all live-work loft-style condominiums until all loft owners are forced to take shelter in the bay."
At this point, I'm inclined to sponsor a tree myself, if for no other reason than to piss them off.

1 comment:

Van Helsing said...

So gay "marriage" supports "the imperialist, bloodthirsty status quo." I had no idea.