Last weekend was gorgeous. The sun was out, the weather was warm and people were showing all kinds of skin that probably hadn’t seen the outside of an apartment in months. After a long winter of rain, it was time to frolic …
Predictably, Dolores Park was packed to the gills with revelers who were drinking, smoking, picnicking and boogying. Unfortunately, just as predictably, these sun-worshipers also turned the park into a goddamn garbage dump. According to the Chronicle, there was enough litter left behind over the weekend to fill 460 trash bags.
Look, I was there with a party that, to be honest, went wonderfully and hedonistically completely off the rails. (Check my Instagram if you don’t believe me.) But before we piled onto a magical bus to take us to a new destination, we made sure to do a sweep of our area and clean up anything that might have escaped our trash bags. I was with a collection of Burners and ravers, so they already had a pack-in/pack-out mentality. Beyond that, though, they also accepted the part of the social contract that says, “Act like a fucking grown-up and handle your shit.” I’m pretty sure that’s a direct quote from Rousseau.
The Oxford Dictionary defines a “bro” as “a young man, especially one who socializes primarily with his male peers and enjoys lively, unintellectual pursuits.” This same dictionary, considered the authority on the English language, illustrates the usage of the word in the following phrase: “shirtless bros with plaid shorts throwing frisbees.” If you were at Dolores Park over the weekend, you would’ve seen A LOT of bros.
Like so many things that have been ruined, we can attribute a lot of the trash problem to “bro culture.” (Just writing that made me feel icky.). In fact, it’s really a larger parable for what’s happened to San Francisco. The air of entitlement that says, “Look, bro, I’m only here for a little bit, so it’s not my responsibility” is exactly what’s wrong with The City. When you have a sizable population that doesn’t look at this place as their home, but only as somewhere to work for a few years and hopefully get rich, they don’t feel the need to take pride in it.
Plus, it’s directly informed by the No. 1 tenant of straight white male privilege, the one that says, “Everything I see is mine to do what I want with, bro.”
Yes, bros are the ruiners of many things: trucker hats, tribal tattoos, plaid, surfing, alcohol-related games, Fort Mason, most major sporting events. Hell, they even ruined the word “bro.” Considering that “bro” is short for “brother,” it’s a shame how freely the word is used. Wouldn’t you want to reserve that term of endearment for people you really care about instead of giving it to every male stranger you meet? I’ve always been a big fan of the phrase: “Don’t bro me if you don’t know me.”
There might actually be an easy way to get bros to be less bro-ish and take care of the park. Obviously, being respectful and asking them to do so hasn’t worked, so let’s try shaming them. Next time you see someone leaving their garbage, take a photo of them and put it on the internet. This is San Francisco; chances are, someone will recognize them. When they do, we should all go to their home with our trash and use it to spell, “Sorry, not sorry, bro” in garbage on their driveway. Maybe then they’ll get the point.
In fact, now that I think about it, we should do the same for people who don’t clean up after their dogs as well.
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com. Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in the San Francisco Examiner.