[Hpn] more from SanFran's media wars -- Like Disneyland, but smellier
Wed, 05 Sep 2001 11:42:19 -0700
Like Disneyland, but smellier
Wednesday, September 5, 2001
©2001 San Francisco Chronicle
What do Disneyland and San Francisco have in common, besides the fact that
they're both tourist-ridden theme parks?
That's right. Both are intended to be perfect worlds.
Of course, each place defines utopia in its own way, and unlike Disneyland,
San Francisco's Mickey Mouse politicians and Goofy moralists don't keep
their mouths shut.
Disneyland has disarmed the skippers on the Jungle Cruise ride. They can no
longer take those dramatic shots with blanks at the mechanical hippo. "It's
clearly a form of animal cruelty," said a spokeswoman for People for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals in applauding Disney's disarmament, which
extends even to the removal of toy flintlocks from Frontierland.
In San Francisco, by contrast, an underground civic group called the San
Francisco Print Collective has distributed posters calling for arming the
homeless. The poster shows a gun and a shopping cart, and says, "How many
people do you need to start a revolution? There are 15,000 homeless in San
Francisco. Is that enough?"
In the interest of solidarity between fantasy lands north and south, maybe
Disneyland can donate its old Jungle Cruise guns to our homeless.
Everybody is shooting blanks when it comes to the homeless, anyway. It's the
armed crack dealers most of us worry about.
UNDERGROUND PRINTMAKERS ARE PROBABLY JUST TWEAKING THE NOSES OF THE
BOURGEOISIE IN SUGGESTING THE POSSIBILITY OF AN ARMED REVOLUTION BY THE
SHOPPING CART BRIGADE. Their anonymous spokespersons say their posters are
meant to provoke thought, and they sure got me to thinking.
Revolution and small-arms handling require discipline and sobriety, and all
I could think of was a lot of street crazies accidentally blowing holes in
their bare feet, and a lot of addicts trading their AK-47s for a quick fix.
I also thought that the idea of even suggesting a revolution by the homeless
is indicative of how far the left has fallen.
Marx and Lenin foresaw industrial workers, the proletariat, throwing off
their chains and rising against their bosses. They had no use for the
uprooted and ill-disciplined lumpenproletariat (lumpen is German for
By contrast, San Francisco's young leftists, the kind of college-educated
bohemians who move into working-class neighborhoods and then claim to fight
gentrification, suggest in their posters that the lumpenproletariat could be
a revolutionary elite.
Nonworkers of the world, arise. You have nothing to lose but your spare
INFANTILE LEFTISTS (TO USE ANOTHER ANCIENT MARXIST TERM) ARE CAPABLE OF
USING THE BUZZWORDS OF POLITICAL ANALYSIS, though. One said they believe
that "the root causes of homelessness are systemic."
You bet. The root causes of obviousness are obvious. Our mental health
system hardly exists. The law enforcement system is failing to maintain
order on many downtown streets. A system of greed in downtown development
has demolished numerous low-income hotels.
And the mayor's system of spending $174 million a year doesn't seem to work
any better than if we just gave each homeless person 10 grand to spend on
shelter, booze for self-medication or guns for the revolution.
When it comes to the homeless in San Francisco, the only thing that works
systematically is guilt.
The very word "homeless" is used as an instrument of guilt against anyone
who suggests that, in a civilized city, people of any residential status
shouldn't be urinating or shooting drugs in public.
TO BE GOOD. That's the question San Franciscans torture themselves with
every day, and it's the question raised by Nick Hornby's new novel, "How To
Be Good," about a cranky London columnist who sees the light when he gets a
guru and decides to seek the good.
(As opposed to a liberal San Francisco columnist who sees one too many crazy
drunks defecating in a city square and decides to get cranky.)
The former columnist and his guru hatch plans to house the homeless in spare
rooms up and down the street, give away income above the national average
and make children be friends with kids they hate.
"Don't you see?" says the guru to the columnist's skeptical but guilt-
ridden wife when she says these things would work only in an ideal world.
"That's what we're doing! Building an ideal world in our own home!"
That's what we're doing in San Francisco, so many of us, whether by
revolution, saintliness or resolution of the Board of Supervisors. We want
to build an ideal world in our 49 square miles.
Naturally, it works about as well as moving a homeless guy into your spare
room -- if you have one, and you probably don't, given the price of housing.
Our politicians will not lie, or they'll be prosecuted. The obese shall not
suffer insult from the thin. The homeless shall be housed, even though the
middle classes can't find a place to live. The revolution continues.
I'm going to Disneyland.
Rob Morse's column appears Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. His
e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2001 San Francisco Chronicle Page A - 2
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