Thursday, October 10, 2019

Sponsor Letter, October 8th 2019

Hi Lovely Sponsors

As you can see from this note, I managed to survive the last few weeks.  It was quite a thing though.  Catch me at the next social or at the Haight St. Open house on the 20th and I'll be happy to tell you a few stories.  But, all is good in Alan-land (and Border-land).  I also had time to write a little thing this month.  You'll find it right after this and before the upcoming events list.  Let me know what you think?

All Best,

A Coda

I read something last week that tied in quite nicely to what I wrote about last month.  Without any further introduction, here it is;

"San Francisco has been for most of its 150-year existence both a refuge and an anomaly.  Soon it will be neither.  Gentrification is transforming the city by driving out the poor and working class, including those who have chosen to give their lives to unlucrative pursuits such as art, activism, social experimentation, social service.  But gentrification is just the fin above the water.  Below is the rest of the shark: a new American economy in which most of us will be poorer, and few will be far richer, and everything will be faster, more homogenous and more controlled or controllable.  The technology boom and the accompanying housing crisis have fast-forwarded San Francisco into the newest version of the American future, a version that also is being realized in Boston, Seattle, and other cities from New York and Atlanta to Denver and Portland."

"A decade ago Los Angeles looked like the future -- urban decay, open warfare, segregation, despair, injustice and corruption -- but the new future looks like San Francisco: a frenzy of financial speculation, covert coercions, overt erasures, a barrage of novelty-item restaurants, websites, technologies and trends, the despair of unemployment replaced by the numbness of incessant work hours and the anxiety of destabilized jobs, homes and neighborhoods.  Thirty-five percent of the venture capital in this country is in the Bay Area, along with 30 percent of the multimedia/Internet businesses, and the boom that started in Silicon Valley has produced a ripple effect throughout the region from south of San Jose to Napa and Sonoma in the north."

"San Francisco has had the most expensive housing of any major American city in the nation for two decades, but in the past few years housing prices -- both sale and rents -- have been skyrocketing, along with commercial rents.  New businesses are coming in at a hectic pace, and they in turn generate new boutiques, restaurants and bars that displace earlier businesses, particularly nonprofits, and the new industry's workers have been outbidding for rentals and buying houses out from under tenants at a breakneck pace.  Regionally, home sales and rental prices have gone up by 30 percent over the past three years, but the rates of increase is far more dramatic in San Francisco."

If you read carefully you noticed that, despite being an accurate description of right-here and right-now, there were a few things that seemed a little bit . . . off.  Phrases like, "the multimedia/Internet businesses" with its oddly capitalized "I", or perhaps the inaccurate, "rental prices have gone up by 30 percent over the past three years".

That's because it was written at the end of the last century.  It's from the opening chapter of Hollow City, by Rebecca Solnit and Susan Schwartzinberg (Verso, 2000).

Although I lived in San Francisco through the period that they're writing about, I had forgotten just how exactly the state of San Francisco then matched our current one.  At least I had forgotten until I read that passage.  History does indeed repeat itself.

After reading that, I had two thoughts.  My first was that, at the time, my sense of disruption was much less than what I've been feeling these last few years.  That might be because I was younger and also less engaged with the overall fabric of the city.  Running a bookstore for 20 years does tend to hook you into your community.  But, it also could be because what's happening this time around is, in fact, more profound.  In 1998-1999 the real center of the action was on the mid-peninsula, whereas this time, it's right in the middle of the city.

My other thought was, "How could the people who are (notionally) in charge of the city not see the risk in where we were headed?" Mayor Ed Lee, who not only presided over the beginning of the current boom but arguably was one of its architects, was working in city government in 1999.  In fact, he was the Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission -- which is tasked with working to, "increase equality, eradicate discrimination, and to protect human rights for all people".  Wouldn't you think he would have remembered 1999 and taken some of those lessons into account before offering tax breaks that were _meant_ to create a tech boom all over again?

Or, what about our current Mayor (and former President of the Board of Supervisors from 2015-2017), London Breed?  In 1999 she was an intern at the Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services.  I'm betting she had some first-hand experience with the effects of the dot-com boom on housing and displacement.  But, does it seem like she remembered those lessons?  I'd say; Nope.

If I wanted to keep digging, I'm sure that the list would go on and on.  In short, a bunch of people involved in running the city experienced _exactly_ what is happening right now but were either too dumb, too greedy, or too careless to take it into consideration this time around. And so here we are . . . .  I gotta say, it sorta pisses me off because it probably was avoidable.

Fundamentally I think that the obligation of a city's government is to look out for the best interests of the people who live there.  In that, I think that the government of San Francisco has failed us over the past eight years.  The whole story is a long one and it started around 2011, in the aftermath of the great recession, but the short version is that the Mayor and the rest of the city government made a concerted (and expensive) effort to encourage tech companies to locate in San Francisco, rather than down the peninsula in "Silicon Valley".  (If you'd like to read more about that whole story, this article is quite good -  In doing so, they forgot or ignored the lessons of 1999.  As a result, San Francisco became a place that was very attractive to people who didn't already live here. And it worked -- far too well for the good of the people and businesses who were already here.

If the lessons of 1999 had been kept in mind, steps could have been taken to ameliorate the negative effects of drawing huge numbers of affluent professionals to SF.  But, so far as I have been able to find, there was not only no effort made, there was no thought given to it.  I don't think that it was malicious.  I think it was simply stupid and short-sighted. But, it was also essentially predictable.  In a large part because, despite its current stature, the government of San Francisco doesn't (and never has) understood how to operate like a real big city.  It still operates in the half-assed, vaguely-but-incompetently-corrupt, gee-we're-doing-the-best-we-can style of a mid-sized, Mid-Western city like Tulsa, Oklahoma, or Birmingham, Alabama.

Speaking from experience, when SF actually _was_ just a mid-sized city with nothing much major going on, not only did that system work fine -- it was kind of charming.  But, thanks to Mayor Lee and the Board of Supervisors, we are far, far past those days.  Sadly, San Francisco may have grown up and become a "big city" with real problems.  But, more sadly, it seems that the city government is stuck somewhere around high-school and isn't showing any signs of graduating soon.

The diminutive version:

(1) Wednesday, October 16th at 7:00 pm (PUBLIC) -- THE LADY FROM THE BLACK LAGOON by Mallory O'Meara (part of Litquake's lineup at Alamo Drafthouse).

(2) Saturday, October 19th at 6:30 pm (PUBLIC) Litquake LitCrawl Phase 2: Women Imagine Different Worlds and 8:00 pm (PUBLIC) Litquake LitCrawl Phase 3: Adventures in Crime and Time

(3) Sunday, October 20th from noon - 4:00 pm -- Borderlands Haight Street open house

(4) Thursday, October 24th at 6:00 pm (PUBLIC) -- Reading and signing for THE BURNING WHITE by Brent Weeks

(5) Saturday, October 26th at 3:00 pm (PUBLIC) -- Reading and signing for THE SECRET OF LIFE by Rudy Rucker

(6) Saturday, November 9th from 7:00 to 11:00 pm -- Fall Sponsor Social.

(7) Saturday, November 16th at 6:00 pm (PUBLIC) -- An Evening with Seanan McGuire

(8) Sunday, November 24th at 3:00 pm (PUBLIC) -- Reading and signing for NINJA DAUGHTER by Tori Eldridge

(9) Dickens Christmas Fair -- details to follow

The multitudinous version:

(1) Wednesday, October 16th at 7:00 pm (PUBLIC) -- Screening of "Creature From the Black Lagoon" and conversation and signing with Mallory O'Meera, author of THE LADY FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (part of Litquake's lineup at Alamo Drafthouse, 2550 Mission Mission Street, San Francisco).  The horror film "Creature from the Black Lagoon" released to theaters in 1954, and quickly became iconic.  But thanks to a jealous male colleague, the monster's designer Milicent Patrick received zero credit for her contribution.  Her career ended soon thereafter, and she disappeared.  Screenwriter and film producer Mallory O'Meara uncovers a fascinating story of the woman who created one of Hollywood's classic movie monsters.  THE LADY FROM THE BLACK LAGOON establishes Milicent Patrick in her rightful place in film history, while calling out a Hollywood culture where little has changed since.  Book signing at 6:00 pm, followed by 7:00 pm onstage conversation and screening of the film (in 3-D).  We especially wanted to call your attention to this super-cool event and screening!  Jude will be on hand to sell books, and if you feel like hanging out, we can grab a drink at the Bull and Bear afterwards.  Tickets $25,

(2) Saturday, October 19th at 6:30 pm (PUBLIC) Litquake LitCrawl Phase 2: Women Imagine Different Worlds with authors Lisa Goldstein, M. Luke McDonell, Pat Murphy, Madeleine Robins, and Maggie Tokuda-Hall - For over a decade SF in SF has offered readings, films, and special events in the Bay Area for readers of science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction. This event features women authors from the event series.
8:00 pm (PUBLIC) Litquake LitCrawl Phase 3: Adventures in Crime and Time with authors Mark Coggins, Paul Drexler, Richard Kadrey, and Annalee Newitz.  We're happy to host four fantastic authors whose work will range from noir science fiction to true & fictional crime to time-travel escapades!

(3) Sunday, October 20th from noon - 4:00 pm -- Borderlands Haight Street Construction Project Open House at our location-to-be, 1377 Haight St. at Masonic St. -- See the legendary Beam of Eye!  Enjoy the crazy stories of the stuff we found when we took over the place!  Anticipate just how beautiful it's going to be!  Marvel at the sheer amount of dust!  We do hope you'll drop by to check out the bookstore's future Forever Home and see the work in progress.  Alan will be on hand to show you around and answer questions.

(4) Thursday, October 24th at 6:00 pm (PUBLIC) -- Reading and signing for THE BURNING WHITE by Brent Weeks. We're are always excited to welcome the delightful Brent Weeks back to Borderlands, and particularly this time -- for the long-awaited fifth and final volume of the Lightbringer sequence, THE BURNING WHITE! We hope you'll join us to meet Brent and celebrate the last installment of this epic series!

(5) Saturday, October 26th at 3:00 pm (PUBLIC) -- It's always a treat to welcome the quirky and irrepressible genius Rudy Rucker to the store!  Rudy is an author, artist, mathematician and one of the godfathers of Cyberpunk.  Join us to check out the release of his new novels THE SECRET OF LIFE and MILLION MILE ROAD TRIP, and celebrate the reprints of a few other titles! Here's the summary of SECRET from the author's website, and we urge you to check it out! "A 60s college student learns he's a saucer alien.  As if he hadn't suspected it all along.  As Conrad Bunger faces his true nature, he takes on a series of awesome powers. He can change his face, shrink to the size of a thumb, fly around the Eiffel tower -- and hand out joints to everyone at his college's annual student assembly.  And this is important because government snipers are out to kill him.  Why did youth rebel in the 60s? This transreal book will help you understand how it happened, and what the underlying feelings were."

(6) Saturday, November 9th 7:00 to 11:00 pm -- Fall Sponsor Social.  Join us for food, drink, and merriment as we talk about books, buy books, and maybe even win some oddities in the raffle! Lots of great food and great conversation with great people.  Doesn't that sound great? C'mon down for the last Sponsor Social of 2019; bring your favorite treat or drink to share, be super-social, or simply find a book and a quiet corner to commune -- we're just delighted to have you.

(7) Saturday, November 16th at 6:00 pm (PUBLIC) -- An Evening with Seanan McGuire.  We're always thrilled to welcome formerly-local author Seanan McGuire to Borderlands! The astonishingly prolific Seanan has FOUR recent books out -- IN THE SHADOW OF SPINDRIFT HOUSE (as Mira Grant); THE UNKINDEST TIDE (the newest October Daye book); the fancy tenth anniversary (!) hardcover edition of ROSEMARY AND RUE; and the incredible new short story collection LAUGHTER AT THE ACADEMY.  Join us to meet Seanan, have books signed, and be regaled with tales funny, strange, and distressing.  Feel free to bring baked goods to share if you like!

(8) Sunday, November 24th at 3:00 pm (PUBLIC) -- Reading and signing for NINJA DAUGHTER by Tori Eldridge. We're happy to welcome author Tori Eldridge to Borderlands for her debut novel!  "THE NINJA DAUGHTER is an action-packed thriller about a Chinese-Norwegian modern-day ninja with Joy Luck Club family issues who fights the Los Angeles Ukrainian mob, sex traffickers, and her own family to save two desperate women and an innocent child."  Tori's own history is fascinating. . . from her bio, she is "a Honolulu-born thriller writer who challenges perspective and empowers the spirit. She holds a fifth-degree black belt in To-Shin Do Ninjutsu and has traveled the USA teaching seminars on the ninja arts, weapons, and women’s self-protection."  We hope you'll join us to meet Tori and check out this new thriller!

(9) Dickens Christmas Fair -- details to follow

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