“Not My City Anymore” is a song and music video created in response to San Francisco’s cultural and economic crisis. San Francisco is for everyone! Please help spread this video far and wide!
Historically I always get depressed in the Fall due to the loss of light. But Fall 2013 was different. I hadn’t felt this way in, perhaps, a decade and I just couldn’t shake it. I also couldn’t put my finger on it. I found myself working a lot in the Castro and increasingly affected by the roughly six or seven high rises that shot up in the neighborhood … high rises I could never afford to live in. I felt the same way walking on Valencia Street in the Mission, an area I inhabited for eight years. The apartments, stores and restaurants … definitely not catering to me. More and more friends fled while more and more of my favorite haunts and organizations were forced to shut. For months and months it was the instant topic of conversation at every party or event. “Did you hear about so and so getting evicted?” It hit me all the more with the announcement of a high rise to be built next to the beloved Marsh Theater in the Mission. For the past five years I have been incredibly nourished by the Marsh Theater, developing solo work amidst a phenomenal group of artists. For months we protested the developer’s conditions at City Hall and while we made a dent, the high rise will continue to rise.
I’ve always felt so proud to live in San Francisco. From such a young age I was keenly aware of how truly special it was … a place of radicalism, inclusion and acceptance where anyone could show up and just be their self. So I can only compare it to the loss of a loved one. We anxiously stand by this loved one as their soul leaves them (gets sucked out?) and all we have left is our grief. My grief is all the more potent because it’s coupled with a sense of helplessness. As this cultural and economic cleanse sweeps San Francisco it echoes the rise of income inequality all across the globe and the corporate take over of every aspect of our lives. Somehow I thought San Francisco was different and that we wouldn’t let this happen because of who we are and what we’ve always stood for. So … back to the Castro. Another evening walk past another high rise, and I actually said out loud to myself, “There isn’t a place for me here anymore” and then out of nowhere I started humming the chorus, “No she’s not my city anymore.”
The song kind of wrote itself and I immediately started playing it around town at variety shows and at my monthly cabaret show at Martuni’s. It went over big, resulting in great enthusiasm, discussion and anger. But invariably it was the song that everyone wanted to talk about after the show. I kept thinking “I gotta get this out there” and toyed with the idea of a video. I mentioned this to an audience member and he suggested shooting at the new Gold Dust Lounge, a brilliant idea considering the Gold Dust’s own eviction in 2011 from their original 1933 location on Union Square. Plus, the Gold Dust perfectly conjures up San Francisco’s Wild West, Gold Rush, Boom or Bust roots, something I was deliberately playing up in the song. So I went and met Mark Casey, the general manager, bracing myself for rejection or assuming I would be charged an arm and a leg to shoot. Instead, Mark Casey and the Gold Dust Lounge bent over backwards to see this project through. The eviction story is theirs as well and Mark, in particular, is fiercely outspoken about the changing face of San Francisco. So the overwhelming green light from the Gold Dust Lounge was the sign I needed to get rolling. And frankly, I’m still in awe of the Gold Dust’s incredible generosity and good will. I keep saying, “How did that happen?” The Gold Dust Lounge is truly the unsung hero behind this whole darn thing.
I had the amazing fortune to collaborate with indie filmmaker Danny Plotnick, who runs the University of San Francisco Film and Video Department. The recording itself came together in tandem with the production, recorded and mixed by the fabulous Ryan Clark. I was also thrilled to work with Damian Lucas, our director of photography, who runs Little Giant Lighting and Grip here in San Francisco.LeeWei Chao of Alonzo King Lines Ballet provided the amazing choreography, my friend Jonathan Parra wore a million hats as our editing and after effects guru, and Cody Caronna (aka Kim Burly) saved my life designing wardrobe, hair and makeup.The phenomenal cast was comprised of friends and fellow performers and the rest of the crew was filled in with old film and video friends and Danny Plotnick’s stellar USF students.
Last but not least, thank you again to our 96 Kickstarter donors. We never could have done it without you! We raised $5,072, well exceeding our $3500 goal and ironically some of the biggest donations came from my friends in tech. To be clear, I’m not against technology. We used so much freakin’ technology to make this video and share it online. Some of the cast and crew work in tech and some of my biggest Kickstarter donors also come from tech. But I’m opposed to City Hall bowing down to tech at the expense of others being shut out, economically and culturally, from the city they love.
Not My City Anymore
I fell in love with a girl who was sort of a saint
And her name was Fran, Fran Cisco, San Fran Cisco
She had long wild hair and a loud belly laugh
She said “Come as you are, you can fly whatever flag”
It was love, it was love
But they rode into town with their dollars and bling
They were promised the sky, this was more than just a fling
They beat Fran down and smashed her face into dirt
They slowly bent her over, ripping off her skirt
Now she’s not my city anymore
No she’s not my city anymore
They tied my hands, forced me to watch, while she became what she’s not
No she’s not my city anymore
Hey City Hall ……
Fran lost the light in her eyes, I never thought her a quitter
But she’s been pimped til she’s dry to the highest bidder
So another high rise and another whole foods
You’re a 24 year old gazillionaire with nothing to lose
You wake up in your loft, with your view of the bay
You skip down to Valencia for your artisanal shave
Drinking $6 coffee while creating your app
Then you tweet your friends that you just took an artisanal crap
Hey, can you save one for me? I’m kinda hungry
I cook your food, wait your tables, serve you cocktails, where’s my tip?
I teach your kids, wipe their asses, walk your dogs, I suck your dicks
Write your songs, paint your murals, haul your garbage, wax your beave
Funny who you decide to reward, while the rest of make beans
Up go the rents, in come the chains, oh, out with the little guy
It’s an economic cleanse, the great divide, now a mile high
The top tier always looks the same, no matter the city you name
So Fran’s not Fran anymore, you kicked your whore to the door.
Didn’t this all happen before?
Now she’s not my city anymore
No she’s not my city anymore
They tied my hands, forced me to watch while she became what she’s not
No she’s not my city anymore, no she’s not my city anymore
San Francisco, they forced open your gates too wide
Shot all their fear and greed inside of you
Hey City Hall must it always be boom or bust
Isn’t there room for us … all?
Erin McElroy (founder of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project) and I have compiled a list of ways to get involved including helpful links, etc.
1) Share the video “Not My City Anymore”. In sharing the video you can help keep the dialogue alive and in the consciousness of those that affect policy-making here in San Francisco.
2) Talk to your neighbors and get to know them. Only when we know and care about our community do we fight to protect it.
3) Join a credit union. Joining a credit union was brought up repeatedly during the Occupy movement and really this is the same fight as Occupy. It’s about economic inequality on the rise all across the globe, tied to corporations. Well for San Francisco right now, tech is the face of corporations. And I’m really trying to remember to say tech corporations, instead of tech companies to remind myself of the significance. Corporations are not held accountable the way you and I are forced to be and then, on top of that, we’re subsidizing them here in SF just like we subsidized, or bailed out, all those big financial institutions, a few years back, with devastating consequences for everyday folks. So join a credit union!
4) Find a sense of entitlement. What tech corporations and real estate speculators, for that matter, have in common … is a sense of entitlement. They are simply taking the city and city hall is complicit. Now, more than ever, artists and activists and service workers, working class folks and people of color need to grow a sense of entitlement, insisting that we belong here just as much as anyone. Just because we don’t make the right amount of money doesn’t mean we don’t have a voice!
5) Show up at protests if you are able. Even if you have rad tech or research skills, you also have a body! Let’s fight back with all that we’ve got!
6) Pledge to not move into a unit with an eviction history. Look up an address and take the pledge here: http://www.antievictionmappingproject.net/pledge/ The first boycott ever was imposed upon an Irish landlord, Sir Charles Boycott, in the late 1800s. Let’s bring back boycotting to its original meaning!
7) Join Eviction Free SF or another direct action group to help fight fight people’s evictions through mutual aid. Eviction Free SF meets the first and third Wednesday of every month at 6pm at 417 South Van Ness. https://evictionfreesf.org/
8) If you want to get involved in the research and data visualization wing of the movement, join us at an Anti-Eviction Mapping Project meeting. We generally meet every Tuesday at 6pm at 558 Capp Street. www.antievictionmappingproject.net
9) Consider beginning to divest from some of the large tech corporations not only responsible for increased rents and evictions, but also for extreme lobbying of our politicians, and extreme surveillance. It’s hard, but consider making some transitions. There are lots of great open source alternatives. Let’s try! To start out try: DuckDuckGo as a search engine. It won’t store your data, as Google does. Use Tor as a browser if privacy is important to you. Or at least Firefox. If you’re attached to Chrome, try Chromium instead. Let’s keep as much open source as we can. Let’s try to get off gmail and yahoo etc. Riseup.net is great. And then you can use Thunderbird to encrypt too. Hushmail also offers a great service and utilizes an easy to use version of PGP.
10) Support the Anti-Displacement Coalition’s Anti-Speculation Tax. It will be going on the ballot this coming Fall 2014, and will need all the voter support it can get. The idea is to impose a graduated tax on speculators who flip buildings within five years of ownership. http://antidisplacementcoalitionsf.com/