Six days into the shelter in place order and things are hard to comprehend beyond the WFH situation. I am in good spirits, but a strange spectacle happened outside my window today. The DPT stopped traffic on our block while several workers sprayed the parked cars with a kind of backpack pump. None of the workers were keeping a safe distance from one another, and I didn’t want to open my door to ask them what they were doing. Later in the day, my partner went on NextDoor to see if anyone knew what they were doing. There were only questions (and still no answers over a week later).
The economic fallout is starting to feel closer to my own situation. I have friends that have been laid off, artists I know who have lost all their work, and a niece who was sent home from medical school. My other niece has lost all her contract photography work and my sister’s new business has been shut down in South Carolina. Other friends are already stressing about the upcoming rent and mortgage payments, while one friend is surely freaking out in his jail cell in New Jersey. My elderly uncle is now stuck in his room in a care home and two of my cousins have developed COVID-19 symptoms in the UK. Their daughter is currently stuck in the US since she cannot fly home to London.
I’ve been obsessively looking at the news up until now, marveling at the dramatic historical swings of the stock market and not surprised at all with the federal government’s slow and sad response regarding testing, bailing out the people, and all the other balls they’ve dropped. Democracy Now has been giving cold, hard facts about the growing curve in the US and in New York, while those in the front lines are starting to feel the wave as it pushes into every state. Twitter feeds cover the rising rent strikes and worker walk outs that are starting to happen across the country.
In normal times, there is too much information to follow. Now I’m overwhelmed. I promise myself that I’ll back off on the news streams while I settle in to the shelter in place routines and now wait until the afternoon to click the news feeds.
I’m in the process of saying farewell to StencilNation.org. The book is officially out of print (Manic D Press has corrected me, stating that the fourth printing is still in print) and the website was designed (by Antonio Gomez) in the heady days when Adobe Flash was du jour. With the rise of mobile phones and HTML5 (and the whole responsive site mania), it is time to retire the Stencil Nation site and redirect to Stencil Archive (the mothership).
While backing up Stencil Nation one last time, I saw a random mp3 file on the top level of the site’s backend. I clicked listen and it was a Cross Currents interview I did while on the book tour. It was a great experience and it actually riled up a listener who felt that all public art was vandalism. Fun!
I guess I was worried about taking up too much memory back then. Good thing the cloud revolution caught up and now memory is practically infinite. The interview mp3 is on this site’s cloud, and WordPress even allows super easy linking via its “Add Media” button.
Here’s my original post about the interview:
Had a great bike ride over to the KALW studio near McClearen Park this morning and interviewed with Penny Nelson for Cross Currents. The engineer, a bike commuter, told me another route that sent me through the park and then down Mission St. in the Excelsior District. Found some stencils along that ride home! They posted the show early so here’s the goods. Fast forward in about 3 and a half minutes to hear my segment. About 10 minutes long total.
I’m going to miss bike commuting the first few blocks of Sansome St. in San Francisco’s Financial District. That’s right – the nonprofit that I work for is going to move to downtown Oakland in the next three months. We are fleeing the booming high-rent space ($52/square foot in our current building) in order to grow and have the extra funds to support the growth. I may write more about my first ever desk job in Oakland, but for now – the poetic chaos of Sansome Street.
I frequently discuss traffic with a friend who happens to drive for Lyft (and Uber) and write freelance. During one of these discussions, I shared a story about how an Uber limo driver decided to drive around a Muni bus and the three cars stuck behind it. You may see a driver make this maneuver in other parts of San Francisco. On Sansome St., the Uber driver drove into the oncoming lane, into a gridlocked intersection, and only had an option of turning right (Muni buses can turn left and then zag right onto Market St. while all other traffic must turn right onto Sutter St.). Continue reading “Intersection Watching: Amazed at the Chaos”
When I moved to SF in August of 1997, I didn’t know anybody or anything. Looking back, I see myself back then as a soft-skinned rube (which I was) who had landed into an alien land of an edgy, left-leaning city full of kooks, freaks, radicals, burners, and all manner of people from all corners of the globe and economic scale. Boom times were happening back then, and not just for the dot coms and investment banks. Burning Man had just had a wild week in the desert and gained national attention exactly a year before my arrival. Back East, it was a blip on the CNN feeds. (here’s a little video taste of the Cacophony Society’s Burning Man 1996). And only a month prior to my landing in SF, an entity called Critical Mass had been harassed and roughed up by Mayor Willie Brown and the SFPD. (see a video of this event here).
I only knew about Critical Mass from picking up the latest copy of the SF Bay Guardian my first ever Wednesday in the City. They had an intense photo of cyclists getting arrest, their bikes impounded, for no real reason than being in a huge bike ride that defied any type of control. Being a cyclist in the Southeast, which meant that I rarely rode on paved roads for fear of being killed by car drivers who felt that they owned ALL of the pavement, I was instantly inspired by Critical Mass.
So, on the last Friday of August 1997, I hopped a MUNI bus down to Justin Herman Plaza to see what the hell this monthly activity was all about. I didn’t have my bike. I didn’t know anyone who would loan me one, and I couldn’t afford to rent one. So I showed up to find thousands of cyclists, piles of riot cops, media and cop helicopters, and a general sense of fun an celebration. I walked through the mass of riders, waiting to wander off into the city to cause mayhem with the Friday car commute home, with amazement. I’d never seen so many bikers in my life. Continue reading “Critical Mass:20 … Welcome to San Francisco!”
Yoo hoo…. I’ve been working hard this past month, doing sound tech (5 mics and about 25 sound cues) for the Big Tadoo’s “Walk and Roll to School” puppet show for TRANSFORM in Alameda County elementary schools. Just finished week two of the Fall Tour, leaving the kids with the urge to either bike and walk to school (or maybe put on a puppet and sing a great song).
Come visit me and a few events I’ll be participating in for your fall carny/puppet goodness:
The Sustainable Living Roadshow will have two games at Treasure Island Music Fest this weekend. If you stop by during Flaming Lips, you won’t see me there!!!
Big Tadoo will have a public performance of the show on Halloween with for the 3rd Annual Scraper Bike Day in Oakland. Never heard of scraper bikes? Check out this site for more info on a cool, inner-city urban bike movement.
CANCELLED due to permit problems (fingers crossed that we’ll perform for them soon!)
Fremont Highschool parking lot
4610 Foothill Blvd. tween 46th and 45th
Oakland, CA 94601