Sadly, this should have been posted on July 5th, 2013 but I missed it by a few days because I was out and about for the holiday weekend. 75 years ago Herb Caen started his legacy that formed the way a lot of us saw and remembered San Francisco through the eyes of a boy from Sacramento.
Before coming to San Francisco Herb was writing the sports column for the Sacramento Union, nowhere near as prestigious or as fun as his San Francisco columns which pulled no punches when he took on the humor of San Francisco politics, yet he never went too far in calling out the people who ran the City for the rich and stupid.
I wish Herb was alive today. I’d sit down with him at the Buena Vista over a couple of Irish Coffee’s [hold the coffee] to get his thoughts on San Francisco today. I had a dream over the weekend of what this might be like and it goes a little something like this.
Everyone in San Francisco is from somewhere else, but the problem is that nobody stays here any more. We’ve become an amusement park for the new monied elite who don’t mind sitting in front of an overpriced cafe run by a surly student drinking a $7 cup of coffee after being told that it’s so expensive because the growers were paid a fair wage oh and the beans were roasted on the thighs of a virgin in the free trade sunlight of the distant unheard of island of Tubanya.
The typical San Franciscan now hasn’t lived here for more than a year so they don’t know the weather patterns or were you can park a car or buy a beer for under $10 at a bar. San Francisco has become a long stay amusement park where people come for under a year until they’ve spent all their money on rent and food because why cook when you can buy organic? None of them will change San Francisco or add to it, but those who have time and money invested here will change it for them.
Whoever said the best things in life are free never lived in San Francisco today. Then again, they probably never said that 100 years ago here either. People have always complained about the high rents and how expensive it is in San Francisco. They just never made the wages that they do today. The wages today are good for you and me because we have the time invested here so it’s easier for us than it is for someone who came here yesterday. Can you imagine if we made the wages of today back when we talk about a 25¢ cup of coffee? I wouldn’t have to invite myself to the Getty’s dinner parties for the free food.
Wow Herb, I don’t remember you being so grumpy…oh right, it’s my dream.
Regardless of what I think he might say today, what he said 75 years ago started something that turned San Francisco into what it has become. He weaved the history in and out of a story that he sometimes took a little bit of liberties with, but in the end he was a remarkable storyteller that brought his words to life. If you can’t find his archives through your searches at least pick up a copy of Baghdad by the Bay. It’s the book that gave these pages their name.
What the hell did he just say? Wertsgeflauben. It’s a word I just made up and there’s a good reason for it. It’s a word you use when you want to tell people something that you don’t want them to understand. Weird things like this pop into my head at times, not like visions of Kathy Bates riding naked on a donkey singing Sondheim tunes [oh wait, where the hell did that come from?] While it sounds German, I’m sure it doesn’t mean anything in German. It’s just some stupid nonsensical word like “unbundled” which is what Apple is using instead of “discount”. I started my new job today with a tech company that writes apps for the iPhone. I figured I should probably get one so I started to look into it. I’m looking at the new iPhone 4 and running through choices and decide to select 16Gb black iPhone 4 [oooo all you mac groupies dontcha just wish you were hot like me!] I start through the process and it says $199 with a little 2 superscript next to it which I should have realized meant scroll to the bottom and read the fine print. Here’s the fine print:
Requires new two-year AT&T wireless service contract, sold separately to qualified customers; credit check required; must be 18 or older. Existing AT&T customers who want to upgrade from another phone or replace an iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS should check with AT&T or use www.apple.com/iphone/buy. For those who are not eligible for an early upgrade or who wish to buy iPhone as a gift, the prices are $499 (8GB), $599 (16GB), or $699 (32GB). In CA, MA, and RI, sales tax is collected on the unbundled price of iPhone. Service may not be available in all areas or at the signal strength, rates, speeds, or bandwidth as demonstrated. Wi-Fi Internet access required for some features; broadband recommended; fees may apply. Some applications, features, and services are not available in all areas. Visit www.wireless.att.com to check AT&T network coverage in your area. iPhone is configured to work only with wireless service provided by AT&T. Warranty information available at www.apple.com/legal/warranty/iphone. When available, transferring your mobile number to a different service provider will terminate your service with your existing provider; termination fees and other charges may apply. Some features may require added fees. Contact your service provider for more details. Use constitutes acceptance of Apple’s software license agreement and third-party terms located in the iPhone box. Unauthorized modification of your iPhone software violates the software license agreement. Inability to use an iPhone due to unauthorized modifications is not covered under your warranty.
OK, that shouldn’t have been a big deal because I noted that I was upgrading [after my two year contract ran out] so this shouldn’t matter. So this phony surcharge shouldn’t apply. When I put in my zip code they tell me that my tax is $56.12!!!! That works out to about 28% sales tax and I quickly clicked on the speak with a representative button and all that Coreen could tell me was that it was because it was “unbundled” and they had to charge the full price. She never told me what the full price was or how I could bundle it with something else so that I could pay only $17 [state tax] or $18 [San Francisco tax]. She just kept telling me that it was because of Uncle Sam that I had to pay that much. Which I suppose Uncle Sam is going senile and forgot that California sales tax is 8.5% and in SF it’s 9.5%. I finally told her thank you for being so unhelpful and closed the window and picked up the phone and called Apple. This time I got Ryan who sounded a bit more American than the person I had been typing with since his grammar was much better and he finally told me that “unbundled” meant “discount” after I told him that nowhere on the page does it say that $199 is the discounted price. This came after 5 minutes of him trying to get around me asking him what I could “bundle” it with to reduce the tax. I finally said, “Ah so you’re saying ‘unbundled’ when you really mean ‘discounted’. Ryan politely said yes, very softly because I think he realized what a scam it sounded like.
The worst part of all of this is that I’ve been an evangelist for the Apple line for over 20 years. I even gave Steve Jobs a selling point when I said in my previous blog From where I sit, “Apple Macintosh, it just works” long before they used it for their ads. I even said he could use it if he’d give me the choice of Apple products each year. He never returned my email by the way. I’ve gotten quite a few PC people to convert over to the Mac and they love it and they’ve thanked me for making their life easier.
So now let us all embrace the word that means nothing and everything, “Wertsgeflauben.” It will save you money and get you out of a bind. Didn’t get the work done that your boss asked you to? It was because of the wertsgeflauben. Can’t pay your bills? It’s because of the wertsgeflauben. What was that sound? The WERTSGEFLAUBEN! Geez, I think I’ll start writing Dr. Seuss style books now. I have created a monster.
Supervisor Chris Daly has made a new year’s resolution to include the word f*ck in every meeting of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Such a noble venture for the most hated of all the Supervisors. He is antinomian to core. His job is just to anger people in this city by saying no to everything we say yes to and say yes to everything we say no to.
Chris serves the government less and himself more. Therefore it is at this time that announce, nay, I proclaim that I should replace Chris Daly as Supervisor of District 6! I have lived my life in San Francisco. In the Sunset District, The Mission District and Midtown Terrace. Chris Daly lives, just like Ed Jew, outside of San Francisco. He is the governing Supervisor over the Tenderloin and Treasure Island. My college thesis was on the construction of Treasure Island and I have visited it many times, probably more times than Chris f*cking Daly.
Being one of the few who was born and raised in San Francisco, I know San Francisco and you Chris Daly, are not San Francisco. I will serve this city as Supervisor as a true citizen of San Francisco, by helping to clean up the Tenderloin and create a new green community on Treasure Island by implementing the best plans that have been suggested as well as building concrete walls around the perimeter to keep the rising water from flooding our Treasured Island build in 1939 for the epic San Francisco world’s fair celebrating our city and the construction of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
I call upon our esteemed Mayor Newsom to hear my call and replace Chris f*cking Daly for a dereliction of duties as a Supervisor of San Francisco and for his misrepresenting our fine city to the world. He has no right to besmirch our image as the great city that we are with his foul mouthed antics and disregard for performing his job as a supervisor of this great city. I shall offer to meet Chris f*cking Daly in public debate and will offer my services to the community he presides over as well as offering to replace him for under 6 figures a year since no one in the district he presides over makes that much a year. I will also attend every Board of Supervisors meeting unlike most of the board and I will walk the streets of my district proudly meeting with those who live there other than during re-election time.
If this does not happen I will do as Emperor Norton once did and proclaim myself the royal sovereign of the Tenderloin and Treasure Island and make myself the Commander-in-Chief of the area to protect it from the pompous ways of its public enemy #1 Chris f*cking Daly!