The following is an NPJ interview with a long-time resident, artist Uriél Danā, speaking to the issues of today as depicted in the media and the right-wing slant on San Francisco and the reality of the challenges faced.
NPJ: I’ve been hearing people bemoan that California is too liberal. Social media is abuzz with blaming lame Democratic politics and the loss of foot traffic for the closing of the flagship San Francisco Nordstrom Department store. Your thoughts?
Uriél Danā: The next time someone says California is too liberal, ask them when they last visited. Chances are they’ve never been here.
Nordstrom’s closing had nothing to do with Democrats. I can tell you why I stopped shopping there. Most of the clothing was for old ladies…like something our grandmother or grandfather would wear. The store was completely out of touch with its market. Anyone can tell you that tech people are terrible dressers; never wear a suit. All they wear is T-shirts, hoodies, and flannel. They would not be caught dead buying clothes in a place like Nordstrom.The store was once known for its excellent shoe wear, unfortunately, they started to put their name on poorly made shoes from Vietnam and China. It’s a shame because it built a reputation on standing behind the quality of their shoes and you could always return them. This ended when the quality of their shoes ended.
Another issue with the store being out of touch with the market has to do with the Nordstrom brand being put on fast fashion garments. Young girls buy a lot of clothes but look for bargains. Nordstrom started selling “fast fashion” but at high retail prices. Younger women are now aware of the exploitation of underpaid workers in this industry. Anyone who believes being concerned with the plastic fibers, toxic dyes, and wastewater polluting the oceans is a Democratic issue, has a wake-up call coming. Forever chemicals and plastic microbeads are now affecting fish and animals, working their way up the food chain into human diets. Buying cheap clothes from these outlets is bad for the planet. It’s better for the young to buy vintage than support slave labor that is killing our planet.
NPJ: Your thoughts on the tech industry?
Uriél Dana: This is a touchy subject for me as I’m married to an engineer in the tech industry. In my opinion, the tech industry has single-handedly destroyed the Bay Area. The capital investment for those companies was here, but most of the actual “tech” workers are from somewhere else. Mainly white males with no social skills, followed by 25% Asians, Latin men, black males, and women are kept at a minimum by the racism and misogyny of the field. There are issues with emotional illiteracy and culturally deficient males with more money than taste. This does not make for a liberal culture. The fact that Elon Musk is a South African raised during apartheid pretty much says it all.
San Francisco used to have masses of bookstores, antique stores, boutiques, record and music venues, atmospheric coffee shops, and galleries. Creativity was ubiquitous. Tech workers drove up the prices of rentals and real estate, outbidding locals. They gutted the Victorians and turned them into hyper-modern rubbish unrelated to the city or the architecture. They do not buy clothes, books, or antiques, rarely attend music venues, and do not collect art. Tech workers are easy to spot by locals. Many cannot make eye contact, are not friendly, and rarely socialize outside their work environment. There is a general entitlement attitude and disconnect from humanity. Locals saw it during the first dot com boom and took a deep sigh of relief when it failed. Sadly, it was much worse the second time around.
Attempts to “disrupt” or “break” business models only broke neighborhoods and took away job respect and the ability to sustain a job. Ask any community what happened to apartments with Air B&B coming to town? My one-bedroom apartment, once $1500 a month now rents for $12,000 a month. Yes. $12,000 a month, without a washer or dryer or parking. Ask any woman if she had an Uber driver act inappropriately and you could fill a book with frightening stories. Ask any neighborhood how they feel about electric scooters blocking sidewalks. (Later thrown into local lakes by locals). Tech claim to care about the planet but destroys it with endless plastic-wrapped food, packaging, and fuel use with Amazon deliveries. I’ve seen Grub Hub deliver one cup of coffee to someone via a car for 3 times its price.
Tech is leaving the state NOT because of high taxes, but because they are being asked to PAY taxes. Their free pass is up and they don’t want to pay their share. The platforms are developed and 2/3 of the workforce is no longer needed. The money wave is gone. Let them go live in Texas or Arizona and see what real racism and lack of empathy look like. California does not need them, want them, or care.
Yes, California is expensive and taxes high, but it seems any place worth living is. We are the size of 6 small countries and produce over half the fruits, nuts, and vegetables in the United States ($48 Billion), 60% of everything imported for the US comes through CA ports. We have the film and television industry, tourism, and travel, and we are a leader in healthcare development. California’s GDP is over 3 Trillion a year. People should be glad California is using our economic clout to fight industries to stop polluting the air, our food, our drinking water, oceans, etc. instead of making it legal to marry a 13-year-old.