We were invited to be guests of Glide for their yearly Holiday Jam at the Warfield. My girlfriend has a website called Kinda Kind with Ashley Lauren, which is all about making kindness badass, and a little while ago she threw a “Sock Hop” party at which people donated socks to the San Francisco institution.
So when Glide graciously offered us tickets to their huge annual concert benefit, we put on our fancy-people clothes and went downtown, not really knowing what to expect.
It was incredible. Walking into the Warfield that night, seeing the thousands of people who had shown up to support Glide, I was floored by a complex combination of emotions. Suddenly, for the first time in a few years, I felt like I was in the San Francisco that I fell in love with. From Radical Faeries in glitter and hot pants to old black men in suits to lesbians in flannel, this was the most diverse crowd I’d seen in forever. And while the crowd was incredibly diverse (ethnically, economically, ideologically), they all had one thing in common: They really fucking cared about San Francisco and San Franciscans.
Lately, it seems like there is only bad news: Mass shootings, evictions, the war on Planned Parenthood, the shuttering of legendary local businesses, the murder of citizens by the police who’ve sworn to protect them. And yet there we were, surrounded by people trying to make good news. It was inspiring and heart-warming, but ultimately made me sad.
Why sad? Because it felt like everyone there was part of a San Francisco that was disappearing before my eyes. I kept thinking about the young, well-paid people flooding into San Francisco. The ones who’ve just moved here for a few years to make it rich and then leave, unintentionally causing a swath of heartache and sorrow by simply needing a place to live. I thought about the people whose concept of San Francisco values equated to the value of their San Francisco-based company. And then I thought about all these new San Franciscans and how, for the most part, they don’t give a shit about things like Glide, or the impact they are having on The City, because, hell, they’re moving in a couple years … and the market will fix all the problems anyways.
At the start of the night I saw this young, terribly handsome white guy across the room. You know the kind with the perfect hair and the thousand-watt smile and the pretty date. My read on him was that he grew up in Pacific Heights and went to boarding school and his daddy bought him everything.
Later in the evening, Ashley complimented his date’s dress and the four of us got to talking. My read on him was wrong. Ends up, Ross moved to San Francisco recently to work for Twitter.
“Really?” I said. “I’m surprised. This doesn’t really seem like something most people in the tech community would care about.”
“Agreed, but there are some of us that do care and wanna make the world a better place no matter where we are,” he responded.
Ashley said the Glide party was the first time it felt like she was in the San Francisco she’d idealized from afar, and the four of us talked about the impact of the tech boom on The City and how the people who moved here don’t seem to care.
“Well, how do we change that?” I asked. “How do we get them to care?”
Ross thought about it for a second and said, “I’ve been trying to figure that out myself.”
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.