The Super Bowl is over and the citadel that was Super Bowl City — with its fences, metal detectors, snipers and sizable army — is being packed up as I write this. I think it’s safe to say, “Good riddance! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”
We can finally go back to having slightly less horrific traffic, overcrowded mass transit that has somewhat predictable failures and a class war that only makes the news every week — instead of every day. Ah, home, sweet home!
Despite all the crap we had to endure so a multibillion dollar “nonprofit” could have a hyper-consumerist orgy in our streets for a week-and-a-half, there is one incredible silver lining that stands out to me: The way we handled it all was hella Bay Area. In fact, the ways in which we responded to all that Super Bowl fuckery was pretty much the most Bay Area thing ever.
Looking back, somebody should have at least sent a memo to the NFL and City Hall, saying, “You do realize you’re setting up a shrine to corporate greed in the heart of the region that birthed the Free Speech Movement, the Black Panthers and the Billboard Liberation Front … right?”
I mean, you want to talk about disruption? We basically invented that shit. We can organize protests in our sleep, and thinking up artful and creative ways to vocalize dissent is in our DNA. Honestly, Bay Area, the actions you made happen as a response to Super Bowl City were utterly brilliant.
Those huge “Super Bowl 50” statues were doomed from the moment they arrived. I can just imagine Mayor Ed Lee complaining to Steve Kawa in a nasally whine, “But Steeeeve! Why would someone alter the statue so that it says ‘Lee Robs’ and what the hell is a ‘Superb Owl’ anyway?”
And then there were the protests. There was practically a protest every day of the week. From the thousands who turned out to protest Mayor Lee’s anti-homeless doctrine, to SEIU demonstrating against unfair hiring practices at Levi’s Stadium, to the fact the Justice for Mario Woods Coalition seemed to be just about everywhere, it was almost like the garlic fries in Super Bowl City were served with a side of dissent. And to top it off, freaking Beyoncé, the biggest pop star in the world, had her own Black Power moment during the halftime show, followed by her Black Panther-esque afro and beret bedecked backup dancers throwing up a “Justice 4 Mario Woods” sign!
I don’t know if I’ve ever been so proud of my Bay Area brethren and sistren in my life.
A hundred years ago, San Francisco was given the nickname “The City That Knows How” because of the way it bounced back from the 1906 earthquake and fire. Maybe in 2016, we should change that to “The City That Knows How to Fight Back” because that’s exactly what we did last week, and it was a beautiful thing.
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.