Filming “Manzanar” at Tule Lake in 1975

Three years ago, Laurie Shigekuni and I began a series of interviews with participants in the 1975 filming of the “Farewell to Manzanar” TV movie. Today the first installment of our article based on the interviews appears online in Discover Nikkei. It’s illustrated with photos taken on the set by the late Barbara Parker Narita. Links to the second and third parts of the article will go live on May 20 and May 21.

Last time around

I wrote this article for the Baffler in mid-2001 about San Francisco on the downward edge of a boom cycle. No boom is ever fully like the last one, but maybe it bears rereading in light of current talk about frothiness in the tech sector.

The article ends by saying J. & I had talked about moving. Funnily enough, we stayed put in our place South of Market.

Meanwhile the former Petopia building at 8th and Folsom, which is mentioned in my 2001 article, went through a whole lot of tenants. It was an a architect’s office some of the time. Sometimes it was hard to tell what exactly was in there.

For a while Lutheran Social Services ran its rep/payee office out of the north end of the ex-Petopia building. I’m nearly sure it was the subject of this 2013 Vice article, the one that said so many mean things about social service clients in “the Tenderloin”. (Brian Brophy and Kevin Montgomery answered that article very well here.)

Now the Petopia building is a tech office again.

Stay tuned.

Commodified marginality on Cannery Row

People in the tourist part of Monterey look at the expensive bronze statuary of the Cannery Row Monument without laughing. Apparently all the time, every day.

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The same mentality that took Steinbeck’s jolliest depiction of marginality and further sentimentalized it as a draw for tourists also sponsored this pole full of prohibition signs a very few blocks away:

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People are like oysters. We don’t deal with the abrasive bits — we cushion them in soft glowy stuff.

A little farther along, people on the pier were cooing and joking and barking back at a raft of sea lions. A few of the smaller sea lions were emaciated. Those pictures are too sad to show here.

One world replaces another on 7th Street

SF Mini Storage is about to close down on 7th Street at Hooper. That’s near California College of the Arts, across 7th from the Caltrain tracks and the 280 freeway. The sign in theIMG_5298detail photo on the right says tenants have to get their stuff out by April 30, 2015.

I’m not necessarily complaining.

The replacement plan isn’t for another condo development. It’s for a contribution to the practical bones of the city. JK Dineen reported in January that parts of the site are designed by a nonprofit, SFMade, to become San Francisco’s “first new manufacturing building in more than two decades.” The developer is Urban Green DevCo. CurbedSF has more links. There’s already a HundredHooper.com page with renderings and some nice historical maps.

If you want details, look up any of three addresses at the Assessor’s Office to get info for the same lot: the SF Mini Storage address of 1000 – 7th, and also 100 Hooper St. and 150 Hooper St. On the two Hooper addressesIMG_5302detail, permit applications are shown for “a four story office and retail commercial building” and a “Mercantile/Retail/PDR building“.

This is a new neighborhood going in. It makes sense. The flats along 7th west of the freeway and tracks, north of Potrero Hill, have been some of the most underused space in San Francisco for a long time.

A big residential complex is already half built nearby on the corner of 7th and 16th. With the new Mission Bay complex now well rooted to the east, the “Hundred Hooper” site is now surrounded by dense center-city kinds of uses. So, yeah, the publicity site is stretching things a little to say “local services, eateries and recreation abound” — the listed businesses are mainly at distances of a block or two or more — but the general idea being conveyed is fair. There will be “local services, eateries and recreation” pretty close, pretty soon.

And, OK, SF Mini Storage is not a huge aesthetic loss. The lockers are in boring rows of converted storage containers.

But on the storage company’s site there’s a hint that a small world is closing down: a note saying client Erich Von Neff, renter for “30+ years,” has moved out — it’s not clear if recently or not.

As that clue indicates, this exciting new thing isn’t replacing a void. It’s replacing something, even if that something may not be the “higest and best use”. All the people who bought a little extra sense of being anchored by keeping a few important things safe in a storage locker — they’ll have to put their anchors somewhere else. Also, the few remaining campers who still park their RVs along that part of 7th are going to get harassed with code-enforcement tickets and tows until they give up or give out.

I’m not arguing against building. Building there makes sense. Just remember it’s not replacing nothing.

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