The visionaries who saved Times Square have decided to lend their beneficence to our fair city, and show us once and for all how only “the will to enforce common norms of public behavior” can clean up areas like the Haight-Ashbury, ridding it of the gutter-punks and pit bulls.
But in the process, our Doms have to deliver some tough love, especially to those employed by “Homelessness, Inc.” here in the city. Yes, Daddy, we’ve been very bad. Hurt us! Give us what we deserve! We don’t want to hear that the solution to every civic problem is incarceration, but my, we do NEED to hear it.
One of the more precious quotes in the article suggests our reward if we obey:
Police officials and local entrepreneurs speak wistfully of the transformation of New York’s Times Square, and they still hope that it could happen here [in the Tenderloin].
They do prescribe one non-police action to achieve this shopper’s utopia:
Perhaps, too, such public passivity in the face of crime owes to the city’s lack of a tabloid newspaper; in New York, such grisly events, which were common in the early 1990s, sparked widespread outrage in no small part because papers like the New York Post made them front-page news.
Guide Joel Pomerantz was bursting with knowledge about the history of the bike route, going all the way back to pre-colonial times (no, the Ohlones didn’t have bikes, but they supposedly followed the same route when walking), and also is an expert on San Francisco generally. Notably, he charmed a random anarchist on a BMX who tried to sieze control of the crowd at one point – the kid ended up sitting and listening for a bit, before bumping fists with Joel, screaming, “Anarchy in the USA!” and riding off.
I enjoyed Joel’s thoughts on SF’s hidden waterways (an ongoing obsession of this blog), and especially his warnings that when the 100-year storm hits, the MUNI tunnel, tubes, and grates in the Duboce/Church/Market St corridor will quickly submerge, forming an underground river that will rush across the Bay and produce a geyser on the other end in Oakland! Great stuff.
There was an impressively low median age on the free tour, and it was almost all locals. (Hey, passers-by who snickered, “tourists” under your breath – suck it, joke’s on you.)
We met up at the Wiggle mural on the backside of Safeway, and there I became fixated with the fantastic diversity of traffic that converges at the Church/Duboce intersection. I’ve lived in this neighborhood and walked through this spot millions of times, but you get a totally different feel for it when you linger in this spot for a bit, especially at rush hour.