From guest blogger Alex Nishikawa.
Though I am far from being a native in this city, I still notice the gradual decay of culture. I've bore witness to it as I've been a "hella" nor cal-er since day one. And I wonder, why does such a thing irk me so? Is it the "back in the day" nostalgia that's starting to creep in? The cliched fuzzy haze of old age memory...I don't know. I wonder, like Del Shannon, as I wander about the Richmond and my ever so hallowed Clement Street, echoes and shadows of what it once was are becoming more the norm rather than the rarity. All that's left are vestiges...I wonder, as I wander about the Sunset, and notice that the sounds of Cantonese being uttered are slowly being drowned out by valley girl english desperately trying to veil itself as hip. Trying hard, but trying to look like they're not trying too hard.
"Absorbing attention is a must. You don't want to be overlooked. Yeah, but you don't want to be looked over too much."
I've long since given up hope for the salvation of the Mission. Though the prospect of urban renewal from within is appealing, I doubt it will ever happen. I won't even begin to discuss what the 3rd Street light rail extension is already doing to the China Basin/Dogpatch/HP area. This city is on the way to becoming an oversized gated community.
On a Saturday evening, early spring, I take a stroll on Irving and I notice the sad homogeneity of the bulk of the populace. I try to write it off and place the blame on the fact my MUNI stop is precariously close to one of the culture killers; Starbucks. That's probably the case. But from time to time I see folks who actually look like they belong here; folks who look like they're from here. This city. Not the ubiquitous plastic UCSF students who seem to uncontrollably ooze out of every orifice this side of the city has to offer up. I suppose Irving west of 19th Ave is still legit. It still serves as a refuge since the fragrance alone seems to repel a lot of the would be gentrifiers. A melange of decaying matter both plant and animal that oddly comforts me. Yet is so alien and foreign, so exotic, that outsiders never allow themselves to become insiders.
Still I sit upon my stoop with a coke and a bag of chips to watch the great Coronet Theatre fall for the sake of another parking lot or a multi-plex. Long gone is the Alexandria. And the Four Star is in peril.
What saddens me is that so many people seem to be utterly content with what is happening. Either they ignore it, or welcome it. I suppose there's not too much of a difference. The sources of the rich cultural fabric that make this city so strong, so vibrant, and so appealing, turn a blind eye to every mom and pop that falls. Whenever a lease is lost, and quickly gobbled up by a conglomerate which can afford to dump product onto the market. In their rush to continue their upward mobility, the sources of diversity don't care to see what's happening...
What's got me gurpin so? Perhaps I'm part of the very problem I loathe so much. Maybe that's what is really irking me.
"From the inside up, and the upside down, who qualifies to try to judge me now?"