The author at Café Hegeraad in Amsterdam. (Courtesy photo)

Broke-Ass Stuart: Another year of challenging, entertaining — and sometimes –provoking readers

http://sfexaminer.com/category/the-city/sf-news-columns/broke-ass-city/

I’ve been writing this column for almost five years now, which means I’ve contributed over 200 articles to the Examiner. That’s a lot of scribbling! Now that we’re a couple days into a new year and a new decade, I want this to officially be the last “looking back at 2019” article you read. But this one will be a little different because I’ll be using the things I wrote about to guide us through all the year’s action.

I started out the year coming out in support of Manny’s in the Mission. There was controversy at the time surrounding a post Manny had made that some people interpreted as anti-Palestinian. They also viewed him as a horrible gentrifier. After looking into it deeply and interviewing Manny, I found that his detractors were mistaken and that Manny’s would be a wonderful addition to the Mission. I think it’s fair to say I was proven right about this.

After that I detailed SF’s terrible track history of poor planning (hello Embarcadero Freeway and 10 yearlong, still unfinished, Chinatown Muni tunnel) but praised the new Lyft/Uber set up at SFO. For once it seemed, someone got it right. I then wrote about people using the internet for its original purpose, connecting people, and followed it with a shout out to a tamale sale that was funding Western Service Workers Association (WSWA), an organization of low-income service workers who’ve banded together to help each other survive, while also fighting to make better conditions for all workers.

Subsequent articles were about Trump’s tax scam, supporting unions, and enjoying the weirdness that is still here in San Francisco.

A San Francisco Police officer walks in front of striking workers sitting in the street out in front of the SF Marriott Marquis Hotel on Oct. 12, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

In March I went into a deeper dive with Trump’s tax scam and detailed how the “Opportunity Zones” that it created could help gentrify our neighborhoods at lightning speed. This was followed by an article imploring the people who were about to become rich from a bunch of big tech companies going public, not to become the people they’ve railed against. It seems very few of them became as wealthy as everyone thought they would.

I then explained my genius idea that we should invent a tool that administers an electric shock every time someone comments on an article without reading it. This was followed by my dismay at the fact that Hoodline was trying to train robots to take the jobs of journalists, and then an elucidation on how to behave in a bar without being a jerk.

Should robots attempt to do journalism? (Courtesy photo)

As April progressed I detailed the Bay Area’s wonderful rites of Spring (think 420 and Big Wheel races) and followed it with a piece that wondered what you do when the city you love, doesn’t love you back.

In May I broke down the hypocrisy of the people who opposed the Embarcadero Navigation Center, told people how they could honor their own mothers by helping bail out Black Mamas from jail for Mother’s Day, and explored the absurd reasons why we have so many vacant storefronts in San Francisco. I rounded out the month looking into the fascinating Anchor-Out community who live on boats out in the Bay.

Audience members hold signs as Jeff Kositsky, Director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, speaks at a meeting of the San Francisco Port Commission on the Embarcadero Navigation Center which the commission approved on April 23, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

June began with me positing that, those of us who struggle to make the world a more equal and equitable place, need to be more forgiving of each other. Not everyone gets woke to the same issues at the same time and we should work to help others get there instead of drag each other on the internet. This was trailed by a piece on how San Franciscans fall apart when it gets hot, and a revelation that the Bay Area is still a wonderful place to frolic sometimes.

I came out swinging in June with an article titled “If you support the detention camps, you’re a bad person”. This obviously pissed plenty of people off. I still stand by this statement. Tagging along behind that one was a story about a 4th of July adventure, and one about what history can teach us about defeating fascism. I particularly like that one.

Following that were articles about how wonderful it must’ve been when one could survive off just being a writer, how we need to enact better gun laws immediately, and how I can’t understand why any of my fellow Jews would be Republicans. That one pissed some people off as well. I still stand by it.

As August turned into September, I gave one last middle finger to the new Chase Center, showered love on Hiero Day, lit up a Florida mayor who talked trash about SF, and warned that we should be frightened by any plan the Trump Administration has for our homeless population.

October found me: questioning why residents of the Tenderloin were getting fined for things that were out of their control, getting an outsider’s view of what makes this place special, and exploring Amsterdam (and getting engaged!).

As the year came to a close, I broke down the need to support progressive candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, volunteered ideas on how to fix SF’s poop problem, and finally asked the important question: is the internet worth the price we pay for having it?

Demonstrators rally outside Boeddeker Park in the Tenderloin on Nov. 25 in support of Supervisor Matt Haney, who called for an increase in 24-hour public bathrooms across The City. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Thanks for tagging along with me in 2019. I can guarantee 2020 will be just as exciting.

Stuart Schuffman is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com and join his mailing list at http://bit.ly/BrokeAssList. His column appears every other Thursday. He is a guest columnist and his point of view is not necessarily that of The Examiner.

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