2019 Apr 9, 7:37am
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Magnificent in the distance, San Francisco is now shockingly ugly up close. In the decade I have lived here, the city has achieved the seemingly impossible: It has combined the expensive and the bland and the appalling into a new form of decadence. To the untrained eye, it looks magical: a city of the future, a city of gasps. Then, slowly, it reveals itself to be a city of lies, one that dismisses the idea of city living.The distant future Silicon Valley sells with the zeal of a crusader — all the lip service it pays to making the world a better place — shimmers like fool’s gold, monopolistic surveillance capitalism cloaked in the language of the common good. Billboards off the highway announce the coming of artificial intelligence as new nonprofits pop up to defend us against HAL and Skynet, but in reality “AI” is machine learning — pattern-recognition software parsing out subtle statistical connections to win board games and show you better ads.With a devilish consistency, this city sets you up for disappointment.Running a venture-capital fund that invests as early as possible in startups, I now see fewer and fewer companies choosing to come launch here. When we opened our doors in 2015, maybe 80 percent of our investments were in Bay Area companies. Last year, half of them were, and we expect to see that number decrease even more in the years ahead. Andreessen-Horowitz, the famed Silicon Valley VC firm, has announced that it’s becoming more or less a hedge fund, presumably to focus on later-stage opportunities. Peter Thiel, who had lived here since the mid 90s, has now decamped to Los Angeles, and says there is a less than 50 percent chance the next great tech company will arise in an increasingly expensive, conformist Silicon Valley.“Silicon Valley is now more fashion than opportunity,” Thiel told the Swiss newspaper Zeitung. “The heads are the same.”Lack of independent thought aside, the Economist has identified the source of the problem: You can’t build a successful startup from a garage if a garage costs a million bucks. The flow of new creations is being choked off first and foremost because there are fewer cheap places for new things to start. ...The legendary urbanist Jane Jacobs once remarked that new ideas come from old buildings, the types of places you can alter without permission because no one cares about them. This is one reason why so many garage startups and garage bands and artists spilling paint in discarded warehouse lofts have left their mark on the world. The true creative class can’t afford to rent expensive new studios.But in San Francisco, the true creative class can’t afford to rent any space anymore. ...Up and down the city’s disorienting hills, you notice homeless men and women — junkies, winos, the dispossessed — passed out in the vestibules of empty storefronts on otherwise busy streets. Encampments of tents sprout in every shadowy corner: under highway overpasses, down alleys. Streets are peppered with used syringes. Strolling the sidewalks, you smell the faint malodorous traces of human excrement and soiled clothing. Crowded thoroughfares such as Market Street, even in the light of midday, stage a carnival of indecipherable outbursts and drug-induced thrashings about which the police seem to do nothing. ...“Cities that become dominated by a single industry, cities that reward generation of wealth and financial success over a sense of shared humanity and community have a hard time preserving social capital,” Sam Altman, the president of YCombinator, told the economist Tyler Cowen in a recent interview. “Where I grew up, no one would walk past a person collapsed on the side of the street on their way to work and not do something about it. I hope I never get used to the fact that that happens in San Francisco.” True revolution would involve curbing the authority of the San Francisco Planning Commission. If Democrats in the city or in Sacramento actually cared about the poor or the environment (density is green), they would enact a land-value tax and establish a redistributive policy to align the interests of the city, current residents, and future citizens.
Greed is more destructive than envy.
The legendary urbanist Jane Jacobs once remarked that new ideas come from old buildings, the types of places you can alter without permission because no one cares about them. This is one reason why so many garage startups and garage bands and artists spilling paint in discarded warehouse lofts have left their mark on the world. The true creative class can’t afford to rent expensive new studios.
San Francisco smells, in general, like an unclean urinal at a gas station.
Goran_K saysSan Francisco smells, in general, like an unclean urinal at a gas station.Maybe your new Mayor will back spreading white urinal mints about.
Just learned about this bit of San Fran Freako History:Spooky shit!