I’ve never kept a daily journal. I’ve tried during my various travels to keep one, but it never lasts very long. I’ve just never had the discipline for it.
Having a column is almost like having a weekly journal, though. I can go back and see what I wrote about each week, and it gives me insight into where my head was at the time. Considering that 2016 is mercifully almost over, I figured it would be a perfect opportunity to look back at my nearly 52 articles for the San Francisco Examiner this year and see what it adds up to …
This year started as a battle against Mayor Ed Lee and all he stands for. Between being embarrassed at his own inauguration and the fact that he pushed downtown’s homeless population around just so the NFL could throw a $5 million party, much of what I wrote in the first few months took aim directly at him. There’s even an article titled “Ed Lee is turning San Francisco into a Dickens novel.” I have a feeling he doesn’t like me very much.
San Francisco’s homelessness epidemic was inextricably tied to much of my critique of the mayor. In February, I teamed up with the Coalition on Homelessness, and we organized a huge protest against the way The City was treating our unhoused neighbors. The Tackle Homelessness protest happened at Super Bowl City, and thousands of people turned out to support us. Many of the pieces I wrote at the beginning of the year acted to galvanize people to get involved and then, afterwards, assess how it all played out. Suffice to say, we didn’t solve the homelessness crises, but I was able to inform people ways in which we could.
In the spring, while I still took the mayor to task occasionally, I shifted more into telling stories about daily life in San Francisco. There’s a piece about The City not being startup summer camp, a mediation on what it means to have roommates and be in our 30s, an ode to Lefty O’Doul’s and a prayer that Oakland sees what has happened to San Francisco and learns from our mistakes.
As the year wore on, tragedy, heroism and heartbreak played out in our streets locally and on our screens nationally. And Broke-Ass City is where I processed much of it.
I wrote about heroes like the “Frisco 5” and Sen. Bernie Sanders, all of whom gave us hope that change was possible. Newly single, I ruminated on the weirdness that is dating in San Francisco in 2016. And I wrote about the beauty and strength our community showed in the face of the horrific mass shooting in Orlando.
Many of the articles I wrote in the summer had to do with weird adventures and the peculiarities of living in San Francisco. There were pieces about visiting the Marijuana Mansion in Malibu, the amazingness of Pride and strange day-drinking escapades all over The City. But there were also heartfelt think pieces on where San Francisco is going and what that might look like.
“A tale of three cities” talked about class distinctions in modern S.F. “San Francisco is just not that into you” is about why, despite all the hardships, we continue to live here. And “Can’t spell San Francisco without a few exes” … well, that’s pretty self-explanatory.
Predictably, fall saw lots of articles about politics, protest and pain. I railed against Supervisor Mark Farrell’s disgusting attack on homeless people by his pushing of Proposition Q. I wrote about campaigning with the wonderful and inspiring Matt Haney and Lateefah Simon. And processed the heartache and horror that came in the aftermath of Trump’s victory and the Ghost Ship fire.
I cried a lot this year and, considering where we are now, it’s easy to feel like 2016 was filled with nothing but loss. But it’s nice to review all of the things I wrote and to remember that there was joy and lightheartedness and fun, too. I hope that 2017 is a better year for us all. I hope you look after yourself and take care of others. And I hope you don’t get VD.
Happy New Year, my lovelies.
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.