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The Change in San Francisco is Good, So Just Accept It and other fables

I usually take my sweet time to write, but today I’m writing a fairly hasty response to an article I just read online by Gary Kamiya for San Francisco Magazine/Modern Luxury: San Francisco is Dead. Long Live San Francisco. Gary is a longtime resident of the city and while he’s both a former tenant and landlord, and feels strongly about the current plight faced by the fading middle class, the poor, the disabled, artists, activists, mentors and anyone else who can’t afford $3,000/month studio apartment. He doesn’t see the argument as black and white and writes intelligently about the many issues at play here now, and feels very strongly about the city’s ethnic diversity and maverick progressive tradition. He even wrote a book about it (Cool Gray City of Love.)

As do I, Gary does not approach the argument monolithically, which isn’t realistic and hardly useful in the end, I agree. Yes things have heated up to an extreme; it’s easy these days for politicians, activists and corporations to all engage in street theatre designed to attract ultimate media attention. And with a few proud exceptions, it’s hard to rely on the media to provide you with a sensible examination of all the issues. Kamiya’s article is thought provoking, well written, and attempts to suggest that the current “cultural, political and class war that has erupted in San Francisco – call it The Change – strikes me as wrongheaded to the point of surreality.” He argues that more of that surreality comes from the left, that there is no enemy and that there is confusion in making the argument about hi-tech companies and employees, new construction and city policies when the reality is about capitalism, pure and simple.

For the record I was part of the dot-com boom, an employee of high tech companies that collapsed when the first tech bubble collapsed in 2001 and was laid off twice. I became unemployed, then disabled, then broke. The circumstances then were not nearly this extreme, but still, many residents didn’t appreciate the new tech workers and their high salaries. That lack of appreciation was palpable and I didn’t like it. Today I rely on Social Security and am semi-retired, a transformed struggling artist and writer trying to survive and feeling very blessed to still be living in the city in my tiny and too expensive rent-controlled studio apartment. So like, Gary, I can see and relate to both sides too. Certain aspects of “The Change,” are about undeniable economic forces that are at play and may not be able to be stopped. And I agree it’s wrong to blankly blame or attack anyone, in this case tech workers, for being the sole cause of the problem. But I think that’s where I stop agreeing with him.

I don’t agree that that city elected officials can’t do anything to navigate and regulate this issue. To say only that “City Hall is in the business of stoking new business, welcoming new people and attracting new capital.” While Kamiya is also right to have us remember what an economic slump the city was in just a few years ago, and that we should appreciate the influx of new business and investment, I think that City Hall is in, or should be in, the business of a lot more than that. City Hall also enacts laws to protect its residents, to control development and to preserve culture here. While most cities do take the “Chamber of Commerce” approach to welcoming any business or investment at almost any cost, this is San Francisco, and the writer says he knows that.

I don’t think anyone knows at this point how all of this will play out. The city has enacted an affordable housing plan to build 30,000 new homes in a few years – we need more like 100,000 and that seems unlikely. As it has always been, city activism has it’s place, as do “we” artists, writers, activists, mentors, middle-class or low-income residents. As do many residents who grew up here and have been here longer than I, I agree that not only is city preservation important, and so is sound planning and development, sufficient affordable housing.  San Francisco should continue to be a supporter and voice for diversity, the disenfranchised,  low and middle income residents. I don’t want to see more artists forced out of the city. Including me. Now I’m going to continue to think about it all, and write about it some more.

Mark Gould

 

 

Mark Gould is an artist, writer and editor following trends in art, culture, technology and digital media.

Meditation Transformation #264, mixed media, 2014, Mark Gould

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San Francisco Eviction March – April 13, 2014

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It could be said that housing activists, political street artists and big corporate technology companies are all fluent in the use of different tools to raise media and public attention. No cynicism intended; I’ve been wondering when the seemingly dormant political and social action establishment in San Francisco would emerge to leave its imprint on the ongoing developments concerning the lack of affordable housing in the city, the fallout on some tenants being forced out of  their quarters by the current frenzied demand ongoing during the grab for almost any rental property, at almost any price.

via Mission Local
Mission Local reports that an estimated group of 200 people walked to and protested against the conversion of a seven-unit rental apartment building on Guerrero St. that was bought and converted to a private residence, owned by a Google lawyer, Jack Halprin, two years ago. Several signs in the crowd read “Google, don’t be evil. Make Jack Halprin stop evicting teachers,”

 

Teachers Ask Google Why a Google Lawyer Is Evicting Tenants

 

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I don’t have an idea when or if the protests will continue, grow in numbers or get more media attention. I do know there are many forces for change in San Francisco who have had an important role to play in building the city’s future and have long made a difference in what happens during critical times in the city.

 

 

 

 

Acrobats and a GMuni Director Block Google Bus

Mission Local video April 1, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Tech Mini-Review: Artificially Intelligent Voices and Waking Up with Capsule.fm

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A lot of people have trouble getting their news from a smartphone screen, especially if they’re in a crowd and in a hurry. Others, like me, are not early risers and don’t want to be woken up by caffeine saturated news readers interrupted by loud commercials.

Capsule.fm Early EditionEnter Berlin-based Capsule.fm and their great artificial voice that will not only read you from a choice of selected news sources, but also tells you the battery charge on your iPhone, flatter you, and tell you bad puns. Well, some of them are actually pretty funny. All of this is mixed in with quiet ambient-like music and I have found, is an amusing and great way to get your first dose of the news. This doesn’t have the capabilities of Apple’s Siri; it won’t open web pages and apps or find a location on a map. But its not presently designed to do that – it reads you your morning news, and at that does a great job. Right now it’s just an iOS app, but Capsule.fm says an Android version is on the way.

Capsule.fm says Early Edition uses natural language generation with aggregation and filtering systems and advanced text-to-speech technology. I’ve found the British female voice to be be better than some of the “voice assistant” apps, while those apps recognize your voice and will complete a number of tasks, like Siri. So, when it comes to artificial voices it’s currently quite a mixed bag and you should research before you buy. Max HeadroomThe Early Edition voice has a way to go with pronunciation and phonetics; you have trouble understanding some words, and sometimes there’s a noticeable latency that seems to result in a stutter, unless they’ve built that in as another amusement factor. “Mark, you look fa-fa-fabulous,” just like Max Headroom. Here we are.

What Early Edition has going for it is personalization, that you can choose your news sources from a pre-selected list, and instead of squinting to read from a smartphone screen, the artificial voice will read to you, while you’re on the go. I think it’s worth a try, and seeing where this now rapidly evolving technology goes next.

-Mark Gould

 

Images of May Day, Delores Park, San Francisco, 2007

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It’s taken so many years, but now I have the time to review thousands of shots taken over the years, do a lot of editing and post-processing, and put what I think are some of my better images online in various places. One great shoot was this one, a Labor Day and immigration protest march starting in Delores Park and then weaving through The Mission on May 1, 2007. Speeches, signs and people with an important purpose; what a great place for a photographer to find himself that day!

May Day, Delores Park, The Mission, San Francisco, 2007
May Day, Delores Park, The Mission, San Francisco, 2007
May Day, Delores Park, The Mission, San Francisco, 2007
May Day, Delores Park, The Mission, San Francisco, 2007

Yes, No, Maybe: Artists Working at Crown Point Press (podcast)

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Yes, No, Maybe: Artists Working at Crown Point Press is celebrated by an array of public programs at the National Gallery of Art, including lectures, a concert, gallery talks, and a variety of offerings in the Gallery Shops. All programs are free of charge in the East Building Auditorium unless otherwise noted. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Featuring 125 working proofs and edition prints produced between 1972 and 2010 at Crown Point Press in San Francisco, one of the most influential printmaking studios of the last half century, Yes, No, Maybe goes beyond celebrating the flash of inspiration and the role of the imagination to examine the artistic process as a sequence of decisions. The stages of intaglio printmaking reveal this process in very particular ways. Working proofs record occurrences both deliberate and serendipitous. They are used to monitor and steer a print’s evolution, prompting evaluation and approval, revision, or rejection. Each proof compels a decision: yes, no, maybe. Among the 25 artists represented are those with long ties to Crown Point Press—Richard Diebenkorn, John Cage, Chuck Close, and Sol LeWitt—as well as those whose association is more recent, such as Mamma Andersson, Julie Mehretu, Jockum Nordström, Laura Owens, and Amy Sillman.

The exhibition is on display at the National Gallery through January 5th, 2014.

Judith Brodie, curator and head, department of modern prints and drawings, National Gallery of Art, and Adam Greenhalgh, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow, National Gallery of Art
On view at the National Gallery of Art from September 1, 2013, through January 5, 2014, Yes, No, Maybe: Artists Working at Crown Point Press features 125 working proofs and edition prints produced at this printmaking studio—one of the most influential of the last half century—by 25 artists between 1972 and 2010. The exhibition goes beyond celebrating the flash of inspiration and the role of the imagination to examine the artistic process as a sequence of decisions. In this lecture recorded on September 8, exhibition curators Judith Brodie and Adam Greenhalgh explain how the stages of intaglio printmaking reveal this process in very particular ways.

 

 

 

Collages by Eugenia Loli

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Here are a few samples of the wonderful collage work of Eugenia Loli, whose work I came across on her Tumblr and then on her Flickr page. Loli spent time working in the technology sector, (yes I can relate to that) before leaving it to pursue her her art career and we’re all grateful that she did. Loli says  her art “with the help of the title, often includes a teasing, visual narrative, as if they’re a still frame of a surreal movie. The viewers are invited to make up the movie’s plot in their mind.” Good news: a lot of her work is for sale online!

 

artwork by Eugenia Loli

collages by Eugenia Loli

 

 

 

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collages by Eugenia Loli

 

 

Die in Despair /  Live in Ecstasy

collages by Eugenia Loli

 

collages by Eugenia Loli

collages by Eugenia Loli

 

 

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