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This Blog has moved!

This blog is no longer hosted on WordPress.  Instead, it can now only be accessed by going to http://www.sanfranciscomike.com.   If you have been accessing it through http://www.sanfranciscomike.wordpress.com, please check out the new site and adjust your readers.

See you there.

www.sanfranciscomike.com

Cheers!

Mike

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Mayor of All the People: James Rolph, Jr.

James Rolph, Jr., or “Sunny Jim,” as he was known, served more mayoral terms in San Francisco than anyone else.  He was elected four times to office.  These elections were not close, instead they were landslides in Rolph’s favor.

Young Rolph had many jobs growing up including newsboy, clerk, and messenger.  Eventually, he started a shipping company with friends that allowed him to open his own bank.  In addition to his career, his public persona was also greatly enhanced by all the work he did leading a 1906 Earthquake Relief Committee.  All of this was just the foundation that eventually led him to run for public office and serve as mayor of San Francisco from 1912 – 1934 when he resigned the position to run and be elected as governor of San Francisco.

During his reign as mayor, he helped this great phoenix of a city rise from the ashes of the earthquake and grow strong.  The civic center area was rebuilt, the International Exposition was held, and several infrastructure projects were accomplished.

His nickname, “Sunny Jim,” comes from that fat that he was a very jovial and personable character.  He was known all over San Francisco as being generous and of good humor.  He was a man who could talk to anyone about anything and make them feel comfortable and at ease.  He was truly the “Mayor of All the People.”  There is even a story of him inviting Communist demonstrators into his office in city hall for a visit, instead of ordering violence to be carried out against them like what was happening in other cities throughout the nation.  You can’t get anymore San Francisco than that.

Never underestimate a person who is described as having “a great personality.”

Cheers!

Mike

Source:  Historic San Francisco:  A Concise History Guide, by Rand Richards.  (I can’t recommend this book enough.  It is awesome.)

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San Francisco History: Executive Order 9066

The Amanche Japanese Internment Camp

If you read Cory Doctorow’s book, “Little Brother,” you will find a hostile and dangerous San Francisco.  In the book, a terrorist event causes the United States Department of Homeland Security to descend on the city and strip away the human rights of its citizens.  It is a phenomenal book which will leave you asking yourself if this really could happen in the United States.  Is it possible that the Constitution could be ignored and good people would then be treated as criminals?

The answer is YES.  In fact, it has already happened.  There are several examples, but none that parallel the book so much as how the Japanese Americans were treated during World War II.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which gave the military power to remove all persons they felt were a risk to national security.  Given the anti-Japanese sentiment at the time, it was obvious what population was being targeted by this legislation.  The military immediately set out to isolate anyone with 1/16 or more of Japanese blood, saying that they were a risk to national security.  Many of those who fit into this category were given only a couple of weeks to close their stores and businesses, board up their homes, and report to an area where the military would then take them to internment camps.  Many of these detainees were born and raised in America and even fought for the U.S. in World War I.  Now they were placed in rows of small wooden shacks, behind high fences, with armed guards securing the parameter to prevent escape.

During this time, the San Francisco Chronicle published the following:  “Last night, Japanese town was empty.  Its stores were vacant, its windows plastered with “To Lease” signs.  There were no guests in its hotels, no diners nibbling on sukiyaki or tempura.  And last night, too, there were no Japanese with their ever-present cameras and sketch books, no Japanese with their newly acquired furtive, frightened looks.”  San Francisco had let the United States government basically imprison a significant portion of its citizens just because they had 1/16 or more of Japanese blood.

The order was rescinded in 1944 allowing the occupants to return to their West Coast residences as of January 1945.  Many found that when they returned, they had to start all over again.  Some felt betrayed by their country and renounced their citizenship and settled in another part of the world.

Maybe Cory Doctorow’s book is meant as a warning lest history once again repeat itself, but this time in a much more high-tech fashion which would make it close to impossible to escape the scrutiny of the United States Department of Homeland Security.  Maybe its a call to action for all of us to look for and be aware of instances where the government is treating people like second class citizens or denying them basic rights.  You won’t have to look far for examples, just google Proposition 8,  or DOMA, or closely read the U.S. Patriot Act that supposedly protects us by taking our freedoms away.

Mike

Sources:

San Francisco:  A Cultural History, by Mick Sinclair

Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow

 

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Americana

This photo was taken outside of a small, midwestern town in Kansas.  It stands at the end of an open field where you can see the beginnings of winter wheat pop up out of the ground.  Gone are the days that people flocked to this field to watch the stars grace the screen.  No longer will kids jump into the back of the truck piled high with pillows and blankets and snuggle in to watch an adventure film while the night air surrounds them and lulls them to sleep.  There are no more sweethearts steaming up the car windows because they are more interested in the attractions inside of the car than the movie itself.

This photo denotes a time gone by, a piece of Americana life that is slowly deteriorating and rusting away in most parts of the United States.  There are still a few around that will make you feel like you are an extra in “The Outsider’s” movie when all the teenagers converged on the Admiral Twin in Tulsa, Oklahoma because it was the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night.  Unfortunately, this iconic theater on Route 66 burned down a couple of years ago.  The good news is that it is being replaced.  Save the Admiral Twin.

Luckily, if you live in the bay area and you want to experience a drive-in again, or even for the first time, you can always go to the West Wind Theaters in San Jose or Concord.  In fact, there are several of these iconic theatres still operating throughout California.  This state often leads the way in the preservation of true iconic Americana from the Hollywood sign , to the sidewalk in front  of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the remaining drive-in theatres.  The past is still alive here and ready to be experienced.

Cheers!

Mike

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Friedrich Nietzsche

“So long as you are praised

think only that you are not yet on your own path

but on that of another.”

– Assorted Opinions and Maxims, 1879

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The Tenderloin

Nestled between the Civic Center to the south, the prestigious Nob Hill to the north, and sitting west of Market Street, you will find the very well-located and derelict community called the Tenderloin.  After the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, this area was rebuilt with tourist hotels, theaters, churches, and apartments.  Since World War II, the area has declined and is now notorious for drug deals, crime, and prostitution.  In recent years, it has begun the “gentrification” process and slowly the neighborhood is being rehabilitated.  The area called the Tender Nob is a perfect example of this.  As the buildings get redone and more and more respectable businesses begin to populate the area, the city loses one of its very few areas where someone of moderate to low-income can find affordable rent.

There are two reasons why it is called the Tenderloin.  First, it is referred to as the underbelly of the city.  Second, in previous times cops were paid quite a bit more money to walk the streets of this area, and they were then able to buy the best cuts, or most tender cuts, of meat.  Some say that the cops were also given deals on these cuts of meat by the merchants in the area because they wanted police protection.

According to Wikipedia, the Tenderloin is also famous for the following:

*  Rae Bourbon,  female impersonator, was arrested in 1933.  At the time, he was broadcasting live from Tait’s Cafe at 44 Ellis Street his show entitled, “Boys will be Girls.”

* In August 1966 at Compton’s Cafeteria (Turk & Taylor Streets), one of the first gay riots occurred.  Police were in the process of arresting a drag queen, and it erupted into civil disobedience.  This riot pre-dated the famous Stonewall Riot in New York City.

*  The movie and book, The Maltese Falcon, are based on San Francisco’s Tenderloin.

Most guide books will not tell you about this area of the city, even though it is almost a stones throw from so many tourist places in the city.  They do this area an injustice.  Some of the safer areas of this region have fantastic restaurants, coffee shops, and theaters.  Cafe Royale, Brenda’s French & Soul Food,
Exit Theatre, Golden Gate Theatre, Dottie’s Cafe, and Hooker’s Sweet Treats are just a few of the locally owned, successful businesses that make the trek into this area well worth it.

For more information on the Tenderloin, check out the blog called “The Tender,” at http://thetender.us/

Sincerely,

Mike

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San Francisco Iconic Pics

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