If San Francisco were to lose “Chicken” John Rinaldi, it would be the day San Francisco lost the heart of its Metrogeist, in my view. The past fifteen or so years have been seeing both the “culture” and the “counterculture” being disenfranchised–or just disenchanted–leading to this favourite city of mine suffering the loss of its best and brightest to that ominous Tri-Northern Exodus. Every month, year, decade we are constantly seeing our friends leave, and seeing our luminaries follow them, and verse-vicea.
It started as a trickle but kicked into fast rivers very quickly, and now we constantly lose people it seems…a cluster here, a few solos there, a whole scene of folks, sometimes.They are all packing up and scooting off to the Great Northwest, their destination usually being one of three locations: Portland, Sea/Tac and Vancouver. Everyone, it seems, is saying “All the people who I went to SF to be with have left it.”
I know the feeling. I’ve been here since 1987, and I’m not very likely to leave it, at least, not unless things get a lot worse, but I’m kind of weirdly obsessive about Frisco. I do recognise, sadly, though, that it will turn into a ghost town, almost, but instead of empty buildings, the buildings might be tenanted–but with empty people. There IS a diffence in atmosphere, and it’s lame.
I remember when the Mayor and the homeowner first started their process of changing the City into a Disneyland and bed-and-breakfast, model-home row for the rich place that’s filled with rental apartments that used to be the sort of rooms artists, music people and flitters who made up the entourages of same, and they’re ALL without exception FOUR DIGIT RENTALS.
Yeah, great, let’s get a $1400 a month studio on O’Farrell and Leavenworth! You think I am kidding, right, not even close, that is a real rental. Who can afford these? And how do they afford anything else, once they move in?
So this is how it happens. A copy-cat Gap takes over a whole city block, then more and more, and the building’s employees are answering to a company with its offices 700 miles away somewhere, a bunch of college freshmen of the sort that never have any time or money to go do stuff that’s daring, interesting or “insane in a good way”, they work all day, make about $10 an hour, go home, and sleep in the apartment with the other students. They go to school the next day and spend way too much time cramming. Graduating, they’ve got nowhere to set up a life, really, and the chain store won’t ever need these kids for anything beyond middle management at best.
So they realize that it’s not going to be happy life, here. There used to be a free theatre group, maybe, that these kids would have put together, but they can’t afford to take an afternoon off to perform, and with no time to rehearse, the group folds up and dies, or packs up and joins the Exodus, or leaves the country, or and in the process, they started to chase out the poor, which did, thankfully, slow down lately–but they now seem to just wait for them to become too bored with the “normal” place that it’s becoming, here, and move away on their own. Great. (That’s REALLY sarcastic; it is decidedly not so.)
I keep wondering, when I look around San Francisco and keep seeing hollowness and
I keep wondering, when I look around San Francisco and keep seeing hollowness and closed storefronts how the cotton-picking hell this starts. It’s lousy. I’ll definitely write some letters, maybe even go to the planning council.
I really do hope Chicken doesn’t leave; if he Exodused somewhere, though, I cannot say I’d blame him. I keep getting a PDX itch, myself, when I continue to receive lots of indications that Portland has become a counterculture, music and arts magnet, and it IS a nice little place. My staidfast insistence on remaining here even though it’s starting to become a Parkmerceditis ward is really not rational, any more. I can’t ever find anyone who’s out of their minds, any more. One day it will finally sink in…
I came to Frisco because I wanted to hang out with the “hippie leftovers and their next generation” and pursue my pastime of hallucinating and delving into the holes in walls where fellow hallucinators, and other “casualties” but they’re all shucking it, becoming “formalities”. The boredom’s almost palpable. It’s not too bad since the Internet means I am only half-here any more anyway. But it’s going to catch up to me, eventually if this continues to happen.
Sad that American Apparel, a store which used to have a fairly good cachet as a non-sweatshop-based alternative to logo-brands with bad labour practices, had to just keep getting bigger and bigger and quit being a good-guy in the process. Once upon a time, they were a small business, too. Small business sometimes stays small business despite doing well because it LIKES to be small business. Others have to swell up and virus-spread everywhere.
I do add this good footnote: I am happy to see San Fran still is a NO WAL-MART zone. I know no other metropolitan zone that managed that.
Hope you stay, Chicken. This City really needs you. And others who can learn from you what it is to be an entertainer and a personality. That’s Metrogeist the way I remember it. Wish new clothing stores didn’t have to be all over, I never go in them anyway. Free box stuff is ALL I have worn in about 9 years. Really!
Would this be the same chicken John who has refused to comply with a subpoena for his campaign finance records?
The same Chicken john who called his entire mayoral campaign a “performance art piece” ?
Last I heard he wasnt even living in SF.