Race Wars

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Normally I don’t delve into this stuff because I’m spoiled by who I surround myself with, unless some rookie happens to get under my skin.

       For worse or for worse, Facebook has amplified a new range of voices. Shit, everyone’s a philosopher nowadays (why even go to school). I mean, it’s great that technology has encouraged a wave of intellectual awakenings, but watching people try to reinvent the wheel can be frustrating. Everyday now (or really every time I check the damn thing) people are sharing links and liking posts, positioning themselves alongside random internet gospel in an attempt to manufacture confidence in the beliefs they’ve duct-taped together. In discussions, all it comes out to be is a half-assed blurting of other people’s half-assed stuff to try and score ego points here and there in never-ending asinine back and forths (the equation for ignorance is half-ass^p, after all).

       The current trend is to invade discussions about solutions to racism. The banter usually boils down to talking about how we are not actually a post-race society; and how certain efforts are or are not successful at transforming us into that post-race society. On my view those efforts fall into a few different models: bruteforce solutions (over-compensatory), passive solutions (equilibratory) and role-modeling solutions (singular).

       On the brute force model, people attempt to manufacture equality by countering racism with anti-racism. Here, the plan is to force demands for equality down societies gullet through methods like protests and boycotts, thereby squeezing racism out of humanities butt-hole and hopefully reaping the benefits. One recent example is the Bay Bridge blockade. The other day my Uber passengers were unaware of why the Bay Bridge was being blocked off. I explained to them what the cause was, but they didn’t seem sure it worked. Of course, some will say nothing was accomplished (SF/Oakland is still seeing robberies in broad daylight, Flint isn’t now getting clean water and killer cops aren’t getting re-tried), while some say it served its purpose (by virtue of getting an aloof Uber-riding couple to talk about something other than getting drunk).

       Another example, Jada Pinkett-Smith was on record as saying she wants to boycott the Oscars. She wants to force the awareness of the blinding absence of minority representation within these kinds of events. Of course, some will argue avoiding the already all-white celebration is the right move (in order to avoid playing the token black woman and risk humiliation), while others will want to argue that merely being there helps to scrub away some of the white washing (Jada could be the one carrying the torch and she’d surely be a good fit to do it). I mean, can she (or the protestors) ever really win in people’s eyes? Jada, the people on the Bay Bridge, and others like them will always end up damned if they do (people will argue that nothing really changed) and damned if they don’t (people will argue that they did not help to bring awareness to issues at all).

       On the passive model, people try to create an idyllic piece of reality under the hope it will be embraced and dispersed by society itself. In other words, by behaving as if all things are equal and showing what equality can look like, the rest of society will follow suit and just make it happen. A popular example is Star Wars’ Black lead actor, John Boyega. On the one hand, he plays a Jedi (thumbs up…and spoiler?), while on the other he’s a servant and a galactic janitor (thumbs down). Some people say that Finn represents a billion(s) dollar invitation to Hollywood to put more minorities in lead roles, which will encourage the rest of the studios to catch on and do the same (emulating and propagating equality). Others argue that Finn is just status quo for Hollywood and that other studios will continue to mock minorities one way or another (sabotaging attempts at equality).

       A similar case is  Black Entertainment Television (BET), which is a channel (just like PBS, CNN and NBC) that produces its own content (just like Two Broke Girls, Big Bang Theory, and How I Met Your Mother). Yet, the channel is at once supported by a part of the community and also disdained by another. Some think it is necessary to keep the channel alive to maintain minority representation (else there wouldn’t be any to speak of; just having it up might inspire other bigwigs to put out more channels and content for minorities in a mostly white washed space). Some argue that merely having that channel running doesn’t do enough to provoke racial equality (citing endless reruns of syndicated shows and no unique, thought-provoking content; what good has really come of endless Lil Wayne music videos). Again, damned if you do (people say passive efforts carry some embedded racism anyway) and damned if you don’t (what examples of equality would there be if no one even attempts to show what it could look like).

       On the singular model, though, an individual places the burden on herself to encourage change with both passive and bruteforce methods. In other words, this is the “do work” solution. See, I was watching ESPN and Marlon Wayans was actually asked if he would boycott the Oscars (his friend Jada already said she would). Besides saying he wasn’t invited (in a joking way), he said that his primary concern is putting his head down and producing, writing and creating content. In this case, Marlon believes he carries the responsibility as an individual minority actor/filmmaker to represent other potential minority filmmakers (proving it is possible to succeed) and also help others to become creators (making others succeed). He is a classically trained actor (some would call him whitewashed) who produces pretty dumb movies (some would call him an Uncle Tom). No matter what, people are going argue about whether he is doing good or bad for equality. But no one can say he he hasn’t put in the work to demonstrate and encourage success (look at the commercial for his new movie and it is minority actors in the spotlight). Marlon wants to earn his right to get invited to the Oscars and decline if he so chooses, and is helping get others to the point where they can get invited to shows (and decline). Quite frankly, he doesn’t care what people think about his efforts, because he’s actually seeing a payoff (financial, familial and sociological success). There is no damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t in this case, because he has become who he wants to become and is helping others become who they want to be. Who can argue against that? 

       If you’re reading between the lines, the only “model” that matters is the singular individual effort a person makes towards ultimately becoming who they want to become and also helping others do the same. Talking about other people’s efforts (whether bruteforce or passive) does society no actual good (talk is cheap, after all). Each of those people on the Bay Bridge, Jada, John, and Marlon all have shifted society forward in some real way (look into Boyega’s eyes here and tell him he’s an Uncle Tom hurting our chances at equality). If you ask any of them, they’ll tell you they have seen change come about through their efforts and have seen success occur. I’m sure the dude said something like, “be the change that you wish to see in the world” not, “argue how SOMEONE ELSE is right or wrong without ever doing shit yourself.” I mean, maybe I haven’t changed the world by wanting to become some Mexican-Salvadorean,  Latino Honor Roll every year, ADHD researching, salutatorian (Kelly!), news article writing, Cal graduating double majoring, fitness coaching, businessman, tutoring, blogging kid from the Mission, but at least I’ve proven that anyone from the hood can do cool shit, too. There’s just no way I’m gonna let a sideline Facebook troll tell me I haven’t tried to put up my end of the bargain in this thing. 



Can’t Play With Em


Everything goes from 0 to 100 clicks real quick. Case in point:

So just yesterday news broke on everyone’s feed about dudes going all C. Columbus on some playground. Like, some dudes showing up on their cloud-based ego-mobiles demanding everyone read their declaration of this-is-our-play-ground-for-an-hour-because-we-paid-27-bucks. Really though it was a couple dudes who were showing off some crumpled piece of paper hoping that would be sufficient for shoo-ing everyone away for a private soccer-sesh. Of course (of course!) it didn’t go over well with the regulars.

First thing is first: let’s do the devil’s advocate thing (got to; wouldn’t be a big picture without it). Imagine it’s your birthday party and you want to have a function with your peoples. You want a party without strangers eating up all your food and hitting on your sisters and cousins and what not. That’s totally relatable to anyone. Like weddings. No one likes fifty people crashing their weddings and pillaging shit. Of course, we would get angry if someone just started trying to be the center of attention at our wedding. Shit won’t fly. Hell, there’s all those Dodgeball/Softball leagues that rent out park space too and no one seems to get rally-crazy with those. So maybe everyone’s just being irrational and getting riled up for no reason, since it has always been fair-game to rent out space after all.

But in this case we’re talking about a small, tucked away soccer field and a soccer game. Usually, people want others to crash the game and challenge the field. If you go to any basketball court hoping to play, you’re gonna have to challenge winners. I mean, I can’t even fathom showing up to Rucker Park with a damn piece of paper asking for an hour of private games. Think about that shit…But seriously, if you show up asking to play a game at a public park, you should expect to play the public. Everyone plays together. Like back in Kindgarten. Sharing is caring.

Of course, we have here an example of a group of people trying to do the opposite of playing nice with others. It’s like that movie Johnny Tsunami with the Urchins not wanting to share the fresh powder with the Skis (watch the movie if you have no fucking clue what I’m talking about; Shan Tsung is in that too). Anyway, it just seems messed up that one group of soccer fans wouldn’t want to just play with another group of soccer fans. Especially when one particular dude is claiming to be part of the community (of the mission or of soccer fans; whichever), but then is so willing to pay 27 bucks to segregate himself and his buddies from the community (of the Mission and of soccer fans; both).

At the very least, it’s just a few dudes being selfish and all Angelica Pickles with shit. I wouldn’t go so far as to start hella rallies and break windows at Dropbox. I just think some people have it in them to not play nice with others. Maybe this little incident is all it will take to help those dudes grow a pair of balls and be competitive with other soccer fans. Maybe they’ll be more open to playing pick up games with people outside of their circle. Just have to help bully-types turn a new leaf. It’s like when that bully Torvald from Hey Arnold was all feared and shit. He only knew how to be one way (distant and anti-social). But eventually got along with everyone because Arnold was willing to get him on his football team. Sports can bring people together, but it just takes that awkward confrontation to get the ball rolling.

But maybe those assholes never watched Hey Arnold.

And maybe I’m not being harsh enough. After all, this is an on-a-silver-platter case-study for gentrification. You know, person with money (or homie with the 27 dollar piece of toilet paper) tries to force others out (who either don’t have 27 bucks or do but don’t feel the need to have to pay 27 more bucks than they should). I’ve already said my piece on this, so I’ll appeal to my previous opinion. Stepping back from the issue, it’s not necessarily dude-in-cap’s fault, or even Dropboxe’s fault (already seeing those boycott jpegs…). The fault lies on the person or group that OK’d the transaction (the park rental). That is, it’s either Park and Rec’s fault or whatever silly app that promoted this thing that should get blame.

You know what though, fuck it. It’s Saturday. Rally at Ed Lee’s.

Top 5 Reasons (insert blog name here) Should Shut The Hell Up

Top 5 Reasons (insert blog name here) Should Shut The Fuck Up
Shots bout to be fired. You know what’s good. It’s a hot summer. BOWBOW.
1. Brunch
Ok, all these weak ass “bottomless” brunch lists all sound the same. Boring as hell. Wannabe fancy shit. Boring. Come fuck with my Safeway, 10-bucks-for-a-fat-ass-bottle-of-Cooks BRUNCH. Unlimited for real. No 3pm time-limit weak shit, either. All day mimosa, son! On deck! No reservation needed (hell you really don’t even need clothes, to be honest). Just head to the fucking park and pass out if needed. No need to buy filling ass artisanal gluten-free French toast either (interferes with the drinking part). Just hit up that there Safeway and you’re golden, every day of the week. So suck on that.
2. Burritos
If I here y’all say Tacqueria Cancun one more time I’m gonna walk on over and snatch your MacBook, pussies. We ain’t no Burrito capitol. We out here eating hella different shit. The fuck is a burrito, anyway? Bunch a bullshit you could just get in a taco, like with a normal tortilla, but somehow the flour tortilla just elevates the experience into a bloggable phenomenon. Like you guys really spend all day wondering what famous person just ate a burrito where and shit. Lame square bears. Be productive. Like, eat some oatmeal. Y’all ever eat oatmeal? That right there is something to blog about. How about a top 5 favorite oatmeals? Why’s that not a thing yet? Because it really should be.
3. Art
Nope, those fake ass 3-D pictures are not poppin. Wack. Those silly maps y’all be makin of the city? Wack. Leaving little bullshit stickers and drawings and whatever other bullshit on the ground and taking a picture of that shit and pretending Van Gough blessed our city and that obscure little area and posting it on your blog it’s a worthwhile thing? Wack. Throw some doodles on that bitch. Preferably my doodles. Can’t even compete with my Goku doodles. Wanna take your little three-d pics of my Gokus and Vegetas? Nah you can’t. Suck my dick.
4. Honestly Just Fuck You
5. Innovation
Weak as fuck. Talk about cool shit for once. Talk about how over at Samy’s on 24th and Bryant they got a mother fucking office space in that bitch. In a liquor store! That’s some innovation shit right there. Something positive in the Mission. A god damn start up right smack dab next to the beer and chips. We gon make it for real. But no instead you gotta talk about some new ugly ass bar with whatever dumb sounding food and boring ass craft beer. Really don’t care about your favorite stupid NY burger-bagel-pizza-taco-toast-horseshit fusion shit. Eat some oatmeal.
Go ahead. Say something about there not being any Latin American Club margarita mentions here. Duds.

Two Crimes & One Punishment


It seems to me that a breach of human goodness is a greater offense than a breach of privacy.

Recently, we had a situation where a certain kind of law was exposed to be broken, albeit only with the help of having to break another certain kind of law. By now, everyone has drawn an opinion about Donald Sterling (the L.A. Clippers owner) and his “alleged” voice recording. He has essentially been caught (hook line and sinker) practicing his best Leonardo DiCaprio cum Django and talking all kinds of racist gibberish. Now, some are obviously mad about the fact that this guy (an owner of a basketball team with mostly African-American players; it’s exactly as bad as it sounds) has been allowed to continue to prosper under his racist mindset. Some, though, actually want to make the argument that there is a second (potentially worse) offense; that the act of the voice recording is also punishable and maybe even more offensive than the actual racist content of the recording itself. I, though, want to say that of the two acts (the recording and the racism), racism is the higher-order offense, and also that the racism itself is the only act of the two deserving of punishment.

Firstly, there are some people who truly think the first offense in the Sterling debacle is the recording of the conversation (and not the conversation itself). Understanding that people care about privacy, I can see how a private recording of a conversation might be a crime all on its own. After all, no one wants to be recorded talking to their lover during the act, or simply telling their children a bed time story. It would be strange and seems obviously wrong (even potentially malicious). After all, everyone has a right to wipe their own ass in privacy without showing the world how the process works. It doesn’t make sense to want to show the world the things that do not concern or affect them without my permission. So, sure, intrusion of privacy, and subsequent exposure of private matters, is totally offensive.

But in this case, intrusion of privacy was used to expose a punishable offense of a higher order: racism. The fact of the matter is, by hook or crook, we have found a still-thriving racist. I mean, can you believe it, in this day and age, a still-fermenting germ of racism exists and has grown to reach pretty far up the social ladder. This guy is a billionaire and owns a basketball team and real estate. It isn’t hard to see how he could resemble a slave owner and his team resemble (through his perspective) his slaves. It, of course, is not the first time he has been exposed for having the mindset he does. He once led women to the locker rooms, allowing them to marvel at his belongings (or players, in non-racist speak). The commissioner of the NBA thankfully exterminated that germ in the best ways he could (exile from the NBA and multi-million dollar fines). In this case, we unfortunately got to see someone wipe their own ass (in private) with humanity itself.

See, the distinction is quite simple: one wrong doing was/is more wrong than the other. In other words, racism is a higher-level issue than privacy. If you’re racist, you’re at risk to affect the lives of everyone that comes in contact to you and even those at a distance (internet, phone calls, etc.). As we’ve seen, slavery became a hugely prevalent crime when that racism germ was allowed to grow and spread. Racism is an incredibly damaging offense that is still being tended to today (and will be forever tended to, it seems). There is still pent-up tension about what took place all those years ago, not to mention the different versions of racism that are thriving elsewhere (Palestine/Israel, South Africa, Mexico, etc.).

On the other hand, the biggest consequence of privacy intrusion is the complete exposure of one’s own individual total-sum of information. For instance, one’s credit card information, one’s private photos, and one’s home and belongings could all be taken through a breach of privacy. But in those cases, it does not seem impossible to recover from all the possible damages. One can call the bank and cancel their card, or become famous through the exposure of private photos (Kardashians, etc) or just use insurance money to re-buy belongings. In short, it seems much more easy to fix or at least recover from privacy intrusion than from racism.

To clarify, I think racism is a more damaging offense than privacy intrusion. It is clear that privacy intrusion on its own can be a crime, but if the intrusion merely served as a means to prove the existence of a more dangerous offense, then the intrusion itself cannot be interpreted as the actual offense. Sure, this might sound like Patriot Act jargon, but in this case, where there are actual people arguing that the recording itself is a comparable offense to racism, I have to disagree. Whether privacy still exists at all or not is a different matter. I simply think that, while it might be true that there seems to be a breach in privacy here, there is also a breach in human goodness. I think human goodness should be preserved more so than privacy, and if it means exposing a few racists in order to help exterminate racism and keep it from growing, I’m ok with it. I mean, I have to believe that most people would prefer to have a racist-free America than a tinted-window car. If you get a tinted window car, you might get profiled, stopped and all that jazz (even with those privacy-screen windows). Of course, if you ask for a racist-free America, you might not get stopped simply for the sake of getting stopped. That’s how I see it.

Fair Jordan


Michael Jordan was an asshole then and he’s an asshole now.

I was in and out of the shoe game within a few years. Always a kid who liked what Nike offered, but never a full on sneakerhead until when I had a little cash to play with. While in college, I took up the challenge to find all my grails (or my favorite pairs) and I did it. Within a couple years, I hustled tough to get my OG Bordeaux, OG Maroons, OG Raptors, OG Concords, ’99 Cement IVs, ’99 Fire Red Vs, and a bunch others (you get the picture). I retired after I found my favorite grail (those Maroons) and haven’t lost sleep over any quickstrike, or sample, or collection pack, or new trend since then (who the fuck made Roshes a thing?). I went after the designs that I thought were most creative and eyecatching (Tinker was on top of his artistic game during that ’85-’96 run). None of that hypebeast stuff for me.

But every year, like clockwork, the same shoe comes out for Christmas and everyone wants it. I mean, a bunch of the same shoe come out every year and people go ham for em. But end-of-year releases are different. Everyone is still in Black Friday mode, getting hyphy for 2 dollar discounts and what not. People are really out here getting buck over a fake ass lookin pair of XIs though. I used to surf ebay a ton back then, and I’d always stumble upon fake colorways. The XI is probably the most faked shoe out there. Funky colors and everything. I could’ve sworn I’ve seen the Gamma Blue colorway back then. No one was fighting for that shit then, but now people are pulling out the burners for these  shoes. Might as well go on ebay and buy em there, seeing as how the quality is equal, if not better, on the fakes (Nike has been cheap on the production quality for a long time now).

But the quality and lack of creativity in the shoes is only part of the problem. With new Jordan releases come the  fights. It’s not even a question; someone is getting two-pieced on the way out of the store for those shoes. Worse, people are getting shot for shoes that have been on ebay for years. Funny thing is that it’s been this way for decades. The shoe game really hasn’t changed all that much, it seems. Stick up kids still find ways to ruin it for everyone. Michael Jordan himself couldn’t care less, though. He’s the guy who punched his teammate in front of the rest of the team. Now, he gets to watch people punch each other in front of the world (thanks, Worldstar). I would think that by now, with all this money invested into Air Zoom, Lunar tech, Dri Fit, and all that other shit, Nike would’ve figured out how to organize a shoe release. I mean shit. People are really dying out here for this stuff. Too much chaos at the stores.

Part of the problem is that the shops themselves aren’t trying hard enough to find solutions to the violence. The current systems suck. Raffles only make people feel cheated. There are people who are sincerely devoted to this stuff and have Jumpman and 23 neck tattoos. They want their shoes fair and square. Raffles aren’t really fair. Midnight releases can be tricky, because that’s when the madness starts. It’s pretty easy to get jacked under the cover of darkness. Even killed. Which would suck cause how are you gonna post your “gone mine” instagram pics and you wear shoes to the function now? The shops are trying to make a quick buck based on the hype and would rather not piss people off by getting too involved, I guess. But until someone gets shot buying that water-resistant spray shit then it’s gonna be too late.


One fair solution that could work is to offer pre orders and ship those out to the houses that ordered em. The stores would have a midnight pre-order release date, everyone has the same chance to snag a pre-order purchase and then the shoes just ship out when they’re supposed to release. No harm, no foul. Most shoe stores allow people to buy shoes the day of release (Eastbay usually works), but for more limited releases, this could help spread out the traffic and avoid the site-crash problems that tend to ruin it for everyone. Or maybe let people pay for a premium membership at whatever store. That gets you VIP treatment and release info. Priority service, or whatever. Some way for the really devoted to separate themselves from the chance of murder. I mean damn, I can only imagine what it was like in Chicago back then. I don’t even wanna imagine what it’s like now.

Next year my grails (dem Maroons) get a retro release. If they do end up coming out next year, I’ll be getting those through the internet. I don’t need another hospital visit. I don’t need the hype. I don’t want the instagram pics. I don’t want the daps. I just want the shoe that retired me from the game, in minty fresh condition. But give it a few weeks and everyone and they’re mom (literally) will be wearing the Maroons. I’m gonna have to make a few calls to some Niketown homies and work against the hypebeast waves of destruction. Man, if I can’t get my shoes because all of a sudden everyone decides my shoes are the next hipcool shoe worth dying for, I will be angry. So, uh,  the Maroons are ugly. I don’t even want them anymore. They’re not even popular. Who would want those? Jordan said he hates those the most. Stay away from them. Forever.

Replies (Ride Share)

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(1) “Woah woah, Mr. Escobar, you support the start-ups in the war on cabs (blue-collar workers)?


(2) “Hey Eric, why would you prefer a private business over homegrown MUNI?”



So, yeah I tend to think stuff like Lyft and Uber is revolutionary. It’s empowering for us people who have been screwed out of other jobs, to be able to contribute in some kind of way. I got a job at Postmates a while back (bad idea, considering my knee), because I wanted to try and make a little extra dough. Did it for only one day because my knee got way too sore after riding around town pretty fast. Nonetheless, that’s a great opportunity for people trying to get on their feet.

It might seem like blue-collar workers, like cab drivers who have been driving for decades, are getting the short end of the stick. But what’s wrong with competition? Remember wrestling? WWF versus WCW? Both companies were competing for your Monday night time. Back then, they were putting a great product on television. Ratings we’re reaching 7 million viewers a night. Meaning, there was a huge market for wrestling (at the time) and the two companies had to out-do each other for people’s business, putting in more work and keeping honest in their efforts. Now, wrestling draws 2-3 million viewers. The product, quite frankly, sucks. It’s not creative, performers are phoning it in, and the bosses don’t care to improve the working conditions of its workers (which, in turn, affects the quality of work). The reason the bosses don’t’ seem motivated to do better is because there’s just no competition. They can get away with weak efforts because no one is competing and keeping them on their toes.


I’m not saying the cabby job market is in the same quagmire as the WWE (really, it sucks; watch it sometime), but I am willing to believe that competition can help, in the long term. Lyft gets great reviews all the time. Hell, look at this video (http://youtu.be/VNM7Z7hir_I). Doesn’t that make you wanna think Lyft rides are cooler than cab rides? Until cabbies earn that business back, I can’t be mad at others trying to generate inclusive business models. One day, cabs might turn out to cleanly win the war. Or one day, services like Lyft will win out. In which case, cab drivers could just become Lyft drivers (it is, after all not just inclusive for patrons, but also for potential drivers; rides for all and jobs for all). I don’t see a loss here.


Wouldn’t you agree that, hypothetically, a competition between, say, Google and MUNI would eventually lead to something better for all? As of right now, everyone hates MUNI (but conveniently use those bustops as a vector to carry anti-techie agendas; fickle). Everyone wants something faster than 8mph (sometimes even slower  than that). No one likes the yearly nickel-and-diming on the fares (I’ve paid my fair-share of 35 cents, 50 cents, 100 cents, 150, cents, 200 cents, 45 dollars, 72, dollars; you get the picture). Somehow, though, I see new buses rolling out yet again. What was wrong with the old ones? These new ones are still slugging along at 8mph according to my eyes. Maybe they’re a tad bit greener, but I’m not sure the trade off was/is worth the investment. Whatever money Mr. Lee is funneling into the buses isn’t dissolving anyone’s complaints. What probably would help are better routes (try catching the 27 around 5pm during rush hour), or automated fare checks (imagine a metal-detector style system at all doors that detects high-tech Clippers and reconciles check ins with the weight of the people getting on the bus; if the weight-to-check in ratio is off, the bus just shuts off on its own until the fare is collected or the people scan in; a high-tech honor system). Something, man. I could do so much with 10 billion fucking dollars.

Fact is, everyone is stuck on that MUNI going nowhere fast, getting left behind in the nation-wide war for public-trans supremacy. If a company like Google wants to take the challenge, I would welcome it. There is no reason to believe Google’s own workers (needed for other stuff) will be the one’s driving those public buses, therefore killing opportunity for blue collar drivers who would, hypothetically (at worst case) lose their jobs. I don’t see why that should be the case. In my possible reality, Google Buses becomes a thing, is a public service (or is cooperative effort with the SFMTA to redo MUNI; imagine the tech upgrade!) and hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs open up. Those blue-collar drivers get first dibs (either as part of a transfer program or because the SFMTA and Google would be in cahoots anyway). It’s a win-win in my eyes. Everyone gets a better product and those blue-collar drivers get cooler-looking jobs.

I believe in the upside.

Ride Share


A Transportation Cold War is taking place in our city.

Google, Inc. (private) vs SFMTA (public).

A little while ago, Seattle guy (boooo) and New York Times (double boooooo) columnist Tom Egan called all bay area transit companies to the carpet (check it out: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/06/opinion/dystopia-by-the-bay.html?ref=opinion). He basically observes that the City’s modes of transport have ascended to a new level of futility even higher than FUCK-THIS-STUPID-SLOW-ASS-BUSS-ness. He even points out that MUNI buses slug along at 8Mph, the slowest pace in all the land. Good point, Seattle Guy. He very astutely explained that our buses have been left in the dust and are now inferior to other, private modes, such as Google’s own service. But that’s only a field goal in what should’ve been a touchdown on his part.

There’s a popular polemic relating to Google that’s been going around for a good while now: Google’s invasion of our streets for the sake of catering to its make-believe San Francisco residents (or Goobers) has infringed on our privacy. Not only do you have the Neo San Francisco issue (out-of-towners scooting locals off the block), but you also have the Transportation Cold War problem (hulking top of the line buses occupying our own MUNI bus stops). In other words, how dare these people not only try to show us what a real San Franciscan should live like (insufferable and aristocratic), but also try to show our city officials how to run a transportation program? Talk about arrogance, man.

To be fair, San Franciscans have a fickle dependency on MUNI. We need it, and deserve it, but sometimes we would prefer something else. Now, personally I love MUNI. It’s therapy for me. Yeah, sometimes you see things you don’t wanna see, but for the most part I get to where I need to get to in a reasonable amount of time (accounting for malfunctions, detours, wheelchairs, overdoses, dumpers, wheelchairs, fights, thefts, stabbing, wheelchairs, etc.). Plus, I can catch up on music. I mean, sometimes there’s a caravan of buses coming at once (all late) and sometimes sitting next to your resident drug addict isn’t that fun, so I can understand the displeasure some might feel toward MUNI. I mean hey, I get what I pair for, right? Until a new solution props up, MUNI is all we got.

As Egan pointed out, Google’s private bus fleet can be interpreted as a solution to their problem. For example, let’s pretend I am Google and I need my workers here on time. My employees can’t seem to rely on Caltrain with all the breakdowns, though. I mean, it’s not my fault they want to live over in hipcool SF. So I gotta do what I gotta do to make ends meet and it seems I have the resources to make it happen. I might not have quantum teleportation systems (yet) and I don’t have invisible cars (also, yet), but I do have all these black buses (at least they’re invisible in the dark. ). So boom, I solved my own late-employee-due-to-undependable-transportation problem. As a sensible person, I can appreciate that approach. After all, Google isn’t in the business of politics or public service. They’re a company with employees to take care of. Like with health insurance and other employee benefits, it’s at Google’s desecration how much they want to bend over backwards for their employees.


Problem is, though, that this particular form of private transportation is a benefit for a very specific group of people (Goobers). The city has more or less been forced to play host to this private service (inaccessible to us) to satisfy the demands of the people playing house in San Francisco. In a growing list of  Have Nots for real world San Franciscans, these buses are rubbing people the wrong way. It’s like new neighbors moving into the projects, parking their 5 new Lambos and taking up your parking spot to make room for all their cars. It’s disrespectful and insensitive, all things considered.

Maybe the SFMTA should just do better, then. Take those parking spots back with Lambos of your own. Well, what if the SFMTA can’t? Maybe they need a little help from the outside. Like we’re finding out with cabs and their issues, there are solutions propping up from the outside, like Lyft and Uber. Cabs and cab drivers have their downsides, like being hard to hail, unnecessarily aggressive on the roads and sometimes rude. These new cab-like options (all hailed via our iPhones) are proving superior and more reliable than actual cabs. Best thing is that they are open to the public. So good job, code monkeys. You guys figured out how to “do better” in a manner that is inclusive, rather than aristocratic and private. I can support this kind of evolution (and no, I’m not implying good riddance cab drivers, because I’m rather sure those same cab drivers are thinking about switching over, if they haven’t already).

Google, of course, is a search engine company that, over time, has gotten into everything from email to phones. No lack of ambition on Google’s part. My suggestion is this: if Google really is super innovative and has the capacity and resources to make moves into different markets, why not dabble in transportation? I say this because ,not only does most of SF now know that Google has some kind of transportation system (viral marketing on a whole new level), but they’ve already tested it to apparent success. Google Buses Beta, if you will.

As Egan pointed out, what makes New York cool is that their buses serve the poor and rich. Fortune 500 company dudes can sit next to a butcher and a house wife without too much pretense. They are all just trying to get to where they need to get to.  Google Buses (let’s run with it) have the potential to make life easier for al kinds of people, and not just Goobers. Basically, those buses could turn into a new business venture for Google. Think about it. Routes could be mapped on Google Maps and Street View could help those who need assurance. Bus times could be posted on there, too.


Now I’m not saying Google ought to take up the SFMTA’s transportation problem. I’m just saying, if Google is anywhere near as shrewd as I am, I flip this drama shit on its head. Remember, Google is/was trying to give all of SF free Wi-Fi. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that Google would want to continue strengthening its relationship with San Francisco. By allowing the public to make use of its buses (at a fee), Google could bring in a whole new kind of revenue. Plus, this move would kill a lot of the heat on its employees.

Hell, UCSF does a similar thing, with shuttles open to employees, professors and guests to the different campuses. It’s a small sample, with only a handful of shuttles roaming the city, but there is never anything on the news about fights, dumping or malfunctions. They are free, since UCSF isn’t looking to profit from them (more of a service, like the current version of Google buses) and they are open to the public. It just  kind of works. Drama free, even. Of course, Google’s version could give the public access at a fee.

This has the makings of a coup, in my opinion. Google Buses (Beta). There you go. Touchdown. Google Buses (doesn’t that sound cool, Google?) is the peace treaty that Goobers and SF Natives didn’t even know existed. You’re welcome. I want a ride on this money train, Google…