Thursday, April 1, 2010

Who is this Harmon Leon fellow and why does he irritate me so?

Harmon Leon. He writes blog entries for SFGate's "City Brights" series, which, as far as I can tell, is attempting to take "voices of The City" off their own blogs in a blatant attempt to generate hits, comments, and advertising and revenue dollars for Hearst Media. Hey Hearst, I know you're bleeding billions, you should take some advice from this Broke Ass! He can save you moneys!

HENNYways... Harmon Leon is one of these "voices" of The City, and from what I can tell, is a white dude with dreads who's into marijuana, body art, and Burning Man. ZOMG he's also appeared on Last Call with Carson Daly, The Howard Stern Show, and has written enticing pieces for intellectual properties like Maxim, Hustler, and Penthouse. He is living The American Dream, which oh look, he wrote! He also authored Republican Like Me, which I haven't read but in which Publisher's Weekly tears him a new one in their review, calling it "abominable", "cliched", "unfunny-spastic", and "asinine". Apparently, after "infiltrating" red America, Mr. Leon then tends to paint broad brush strokes caricaturing those heathens who *gasp* shop and WalMart and *gasp* kill themselves slowly eating at Applebee's because they are awful people who disagree with him.

This is all well and fine, except I have no clue who managed to switch out the soy milk for soy sauce in his latte this morning, since he's fervently spilling some haterade all over SFGate as of recent. In addition to his post hating bicyclists, (but not all bicyclists, you see, just bicyclists who are hipsters!), he has also managed to find the meanest bartenders in San Francisco who are clearly mean because they're tripped-out meth head losers, and just recently made fun of struggling independent businesses on Mid-Market catering to the lower blue-collar class.

Listen, I know it's super easy to find something ANYTHING that annoys you and write a column about it (look! I'm doing it now!) but like I mentioned and/or alluded to in my Muni Diaries post (WHAT? You want me to go back and reread what I actually WROTE?! GO MUNCH ON A ROCK, I HATE EFFORT!), it's hella easy to point a finger at anyone who's different from you and laugh at them than it is to you know, ACTUALLY ADDRESS AN ISSUE, but that really doesn't help anyone in the end other than serving your own ego.

So since I follow my own suggestions, I'm going to offer a solution rather than just whining about the problem. I think what Harmon Leon is doing is writing a blog not to enlighten his readers or to give them something to entertain, but to essentially serve his own ego and to get a quick buck. And I know we all like to serve our own egos and make tons and tons of money in our lives, but let's try not to do it by embarrassing, insulting, or castigating large swaths of people who happen to not occupy the same demographic slice of Harmon Leons in the world - i.e. who are not white, college-educated, tech-friendly, snark-based, cynical, faux-intellectual white dudes with dreadlocks.

You might be a decent dude with a sparkling personality, Mr. Leon, but this whole self-entitlement thing is totally unattractive. And so are dreadlocks on white dudes. Just sayin.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In Which I Rant about Muni Diaries

Muni Diaries is a blog I love to hate on, and for the most part, it doesn't let me down. There are very measured and thoughtful posts on there (I'm a fan of Eugenia's posts, for instance) but so much of it reeks of elitism, casual racism, and an utter disregard and contempt for others.

Today's atrocity is this post, which is a seemingly innocuous story of how a midget got on a bus drinking sake out of a paper bag and proceeded to barf on himself. First, ew. I'm not arguing that isn't disgusting, because it is. But second, the narrative offers helpful clues as to the writer's intentions, which details "shady" parts of town like the Western Addition and Mid-Market, and also offers completely unnecessary details like the fact that the drunk midget got on the bus at the Western Addition.

I see no difference in judging the drunk midget who puked on the bus on the 5 Fulton as I do the drunk bimbo who puked outside of Bar None in the Marina. And I'm not saying that "Alison" is racist, because she's clearly not. I just don't see the need, which Muni Diaries is essentially founded on, to constantly point out the "otherness" of population of Muni riders. When we do so, we inherently put a distance between "them" and "us". That attitude, while we might think we are more highly evolved and can see things with a critical eye, doesn't help to make Muni any better, doesn't help to add anything to spirit of San Francisco, and only gives those who already believe otherwise another reason to attack.

To put it mildly, I think Muni Diaries' attempt at just "telling stories" is akin to Sarah Palin not denying that Barack Obama is a Muslim or a terrorist or not an American citizen, or whatever. She doesn't actually say it, but by not denying it, it allows others who want to believe otherwise vindication for believing so. Muni Diaries may think it's a fun blog joking about some of the always-bizarre things that happen on our daily commutes, but it's essentially a verification of many people's worst thoughts about public transportation.

I am a person who is entirely dependent on public transit in San Francisco, and who believes sincerely that Muni is the one service all San Franciscans, users or not, benefit from, and thinks that running a dependable and reliable transit system should be the single most prioritized service that a city should provide.

I generally find Muni Diaries *could* be a nice collaborative blog on the more entertaining and unique experience of riding transit in San Francisco, but is instead a circle jerk love fest of spectacularly like-minded entitled suburban drama queens.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Which I Opine On San Francisco

I've been living in the greater San Francisco Bay Area for the past 10 years of my life, and essentially, my entire adult life. Of course, like most people here, I love it, although I haven't exactly thought about if it is because I have a chip on my shoulder regarding my previous metropolitan of residence (San Diego). I can note, however, that when I do visit elsewhere, I often pine for San Francisco. I miss certain aspects that I know if I ever move elsewhere, I'll forget. And in this city of wild contradictions, of hypocritical wealth, of liberal elitism and a wealth of confused people searching for true authenticity, I find solace in the simple things.

I miss the Mission, my current neighborhood of residence, where within 2 blocks of my home, I find two cafes, two taco trucks, 3 high-end restaurants serving California interpretations of Japanese, Italian, and French cuisine, 4 corner stores, one of which employs an elderly Hispanic woman who calmly churns out hundreds of handmade tamales, pupusas, and the patented bacon wrapped hot dog, all for around $2 each, an independent radio station + cafe, a vegan raw food place wrun by cult-like owners where every dish is titled "I am Forgiving and Eternally Selfless" or some other kooky life-phrase, and a window inside of a building where you can purchase $1 tacos filled with every choice under the sun, including tongue and liver. And I live in an area most locals would describe as "off the main drag" in the Mission.

I miss the people, for whom I can always count on to be almost comically liberally biased, who give preference to issues like national healthcare over their own personal health, who realize that what they believe in would offend the majority of Americans, yet who are unapologetic in their strident beliefs, and who don't realize that we're essentially all of the same mind, value, and thought.

I miss the fact that I'm rarely the token Asian person wherever I go. That it's not something different to be Asian, that it's just another person with a set of narrow eyes. That I belong here just as much as anyone else, and that my presence here is not and will never be questioned. Like most Asian-Americans, I've gone through the central identity crisis inherent in perceived model minorities, and I'm comfortable in my own skin and wish for my environment to be as comfortable as I am.

I miss the lingo - the fact that I can allude to a PM on Twitter, or a Yelp Talk Thread, or how I don't understand Tumblr, and everyone knows what I'm talking about. I miss the pervasiveness of iPhones, the world-weary sighs of AT&T, the Googlers showing off their Nexus Ones.

I miss the myopia of idealism. I miss that while the people here may be world-weary, they haven't given up. I miss that other cities can't or don't incubate ideas which turn into Google, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Yelp, Burning Man, Craigslist, Pandora. I miss that in San Francisco, there is a fundamental passion for a new method of communication, a new way to speak the same language we've always known. I miss the idealism of idealism.

I miss Muni. I miss being forced to interact with cross-sections of people from wildly different socioeconomic strata in such an intimate and personal way. I miss the woman with the crying child who is always at the 8:25 bus stop with me, and I miss the way I half smile at her through tired eyes every morning. I miss the old men and women who sit on buses for 45 minutes to get to Chinatown every morning, so that they can then belong with their community. I miss the shared frustration we all feel when there's a train backup in the tunnel, when our 30 minute commute turns into an epic 90 minute sludge.

I miss youth. In many forms in San Francisco, it turns up as Peter Pan-ism, where perfectly grown men refuse to act maturely. But I miss that men my age aren't expected to act a certain way, aren't expected to yet be married, aren't expected to have children, and aren't expected to adopt a certain role that most others have adopted by this time. I am not against maturing and I am not against growing up, but I do like that there's no set timeline for it. I will grow up and mature on my own terms, which I think involves a lot more self-examination and self-perception.

I'm going to move from San Francisco one day. I know it. There's really no economically possible way to afford to buy a living space here, and despite what my deeply held desires tell me, I know I'm not willing to sacrifice that for all the positives San Francisco brings.

But I'll try. And if and when life brings me elsewhere, then life brings me elsewhere. But let this entry at least show that in February 2010, I love where I live, and I wouldn't trade it for anywhere else.