Man, I was walking around on Potrero Hill where they had all these big
lofts for sale that weren't selling at all. And I started thinking:
this area started out being warehouses and light factories and shit like
that. And then that totally collapsed, probably because of something I
did, and in came artists, thugs, losers, musicians, and the insane, to
live in the shell of the warehouses illegally and poop in the back alley.
And, then, like, these people got legitimized by some live-work
legislation in the 80s that let them keep living in these hovels and
still keep up their horrible stunted business interests like growing
quasi-legal hallucinogenic plants or hair-farmer guitar bands or
sculpting or organ harvesting or foot-fetish video production. And so
they could afford from these efforts to go buy toilets and running water
And for some reason I still don't quite get these places also became
the homes where people were starting home software companies -- probably
because making software was slightly less dangerous than making
methamphetamines. And so these grubby people with hand-me-down Macs that
fell off the back of a truck took some pir8ted copies of Photoshop shit
point oh and made crappo slow CD-ROM games and "cyberotica" and such
and then other better-dressed people came in and made these hopeless
little ventures into BUSINESS businesses, and took out the spermy loft
beds and black-light posters and broken-down Ford hillbilly trucks and
put in instead foosball tables and seismic reinforcements and water
And then there were like all these people who were working in places
they didn't live, and like coming through the Moebius strip of time it
was a business area again, and people were getting rich. And yet those
rich people wanted to live by their weird rugby-shirt companies and they
wanted to have that "urban" feel and that "skirting the zoning laws"
feel that comes from living in a live-work space and not actually
working there. Sensing this, a group of rich Irish developer bastardos
-- never ones to let a dishonest buck sneak by them -- paid the last of
the remaining hooligans who hadn't been shipped off to Vacaville to burn
down each others' decrepit and unpicturesque warehouse homes.
And in the place of those squat hovels they, the Irish bastardos, built
like these weird Disney-esque pretend warehouses, with shiny corrugated
metal sides and earth-tone-colored stucco walls and security gates and
covered parking. And like Ben Franklin said, break a deal, spin the
wheel: here were residents residenting in business areas, again, albeit
desperately faux. But still! Mapping onto the torus of time and urban
planning, it's quite weird. People living in pretend businesses
pretending to be people pretending not to have businesses in old
business buildings. The weird thing is that by statute they were
supposed to be doing business there, to qualify as live-work!
But the MOST weird part is that at this point the economy of San
Francisco is at full fever pitch, sweating and bug-eyed and tossing
around on the bed and spitting up blood. And these loft house executive
living spaces were taking up valuable real estate that could be used
instead for cramming some more H1-B refugees into tiny boxes and making
them code ASP horrors to sell premium nut butters over the Innurnet.
So, like, the businesses started buying up the Lidsville-style
fake-factory loft homes and using them as illegal office space, without
even putting in foosball tables.
So these buildings are half filled with businesses pretending to be
residents, and the other half filled with residents pretending to have
a business, in these weird Carnival-of-the-Damned structures meant to
recall the days when people who weren't supposed to be living in old
businesses were living there and having illegitimate businesses on the
side. Living space, legislation, liability and LIES -- this is what
makes San Francisco great!
And what was really knocking me out, though, was thinking that these
latest places made near or since The Crash are going to go to shit, and
the developers are going to go bankrupt, because there just aren't as
many rich out-of-state bastards flowing into town anymore who would have
the ignorant gall to live in these sardine-factory monstrosities, and
"start-up" is just the dirtiest word in this town since "Dan White," so
the whole things are going to go to shit, and they'll continue to be
empty and empty and then get sold around and down the river to
increasingly unsavory ghouls of the debt-ridden commercial real estate
market until eventually the buildings become half concrete-storage-rooms
for Mafia assassinations and the other half waypoint dormitories for
shipped-in Laotian illegal day laborers who have lip tattoos and are
locked to their bunk-beds each night by their coyotes.
And also... and THEN... there'll come thugs, artists, hooligans,
no-goods, accordionists, space cases and weirdos, living on sleeping
bags in the spaces between the bags of concrete or helping to lock down
the Laotians in exchange for a bunk bed and two daily bowls of rice...
And then one day the concrete will be gone and Willie Brown will be
missing, or there'll be a raid and the Laotians will be deported, and
the thugs and such will make a deal with the landlord to do some
security guarding and pull weeds and maybe kick back some of the cash
from whoring out that 15-year-old runaway, and then it'll all be back
to the same again, but different and more bad.