june 12, 2000
cogitation. Thereís a splendid new view from Macyís
fourth floor these days: Union Square. The park glows with
greenery, and happy people converse or simply soak up the
sun. How different is Civic Center Plaza, which Civic
Prideís Jim Haas calls a "big dead space." A
recent report calls for the city to spend $80 million to
spiff up the area with chess tables, shady trees, and a
sidewalk cafť. For starters, how about installing a few
benches? And raised curbs suitable for sitting? Will
"they" ever learn that open space doesnít
require planned activities? Many apartment dwellers in the
Tenderloin and Hayes Valley would settle for a comfortable
place to sit and quietly read the newspaper. <>
Anyone who has climbed aboard one of MUNIís billboard
buses must wonder who is being served by the advertising.
Peering through tiny holes in screens that cover the
windows gives an odd pointillist tone to the passing
landscape. Sitting inside encourages claustrophobic
tendencies; standing outside renders meaningless the song
"The People on the Bus." For some passengers,
the ride must invoke fond memories of embarking on a
forced vacation in Santa Rita. <> Last week
PacBellís internet system was once again down, this time
for more than 24 hours. One message sent Monday evening
finally made its way across town late Wednesday night.
According to Saturdayís Chronicle, the digital
revolution has failed to bring about comparable
transformations of PG&Eís power grids, so the summer
may be freckled with brownouts and threats of rate
increases. These utilities time-outs affect thousands of
customers, often deep inside their pocketbooks. Why has
the PUC never suggested rebates for services unprovided?
Clear eyes, smart mouths. Last Mondayís meeting
at Providence Baptist in Bayview ended inconclusively.
How, the mainly adult congregants wondered, could they
chart a course for the future without listening to the
people who would be most affected? They agreed to hold the
first of several "youth sits" at Joseph Lee
Recreation Center in the middle of the month. What do
young people want? A bunch of WritersCorps
kids could tell them. A public reading in the library last
Wednesday to introduce their sixth anthology ó
appropriately titled Smart Mouth ó was eloquent
and enthusiastic. Hereís a sample, excerpted from
"Invasion," by Nez Carrasco, 18, YWCA Mission
|You all need to stop invading
|and stop parading.
|This is our hood, our homes.
|Canít you get that through your
|We only have one district
|and this is it.
|Canít you see that you donít
|What? You enjoy watching us go
|cuz rent is too rich and we too
|Yaíll got money, go elsewhere.
|This is what we can afford.
|Ainít that fair?Ö
Itís a cheerfully in-your-face book. In the
introduction, "Mouthing Off to Save Your Life,"
writer and teacher Justin Chin notes that these young
poets "are fearless enough to articulate this simple
but indomitable fact: This is my life and it matters
because I matter."
(The artwork on the cover is by Joe Sorren.)