Like Disneyland, but smellier
Published on: Sep 5, 2001 |
Source: SF 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 "rags").
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 change.
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.