Trouble On The Coast

I used to love San Francisco at Christmas time. It was a magic place, from the lavish City of Paris to Funland and the Cliff House. There was always something happening in every nook and cranny of what Herb Caen called the “Baghdad by the Bay”. I had many friends who lived there, crazy bohemians, porn stars, cartoonists, musicians and technicians, so there was always room at the inn.

These days most of those friends have migrated from the bay, so I have to pay for lodging. It can be an arduous task, depending on where you want to be. Rates are still relatively cheap at The Bed Bug Motorlodge, if you’re brave, or you can spend upward of $800 to get a suite uptown. It can be a very expensive place to sleep, as the locals are finding out.

Those few souls who still reside there send me bulletins from time to time, usually involving long time residents who were being evicted and invaded and otherwise abused by what I call the NUBE’s (New Urban Billionaire Elite). The problem has escalated to the point of where the billionaires are forcing out the millionaires. The poor are just collateral damage.

To protest, the downtrodden surrounded a Google bus full of techies, who immediately snapped photos on their I-phones and posted them online.  If they had been in Cairo, the mob might have set the bus on fire, or at least roughed up a few people, but this is the city of peace and love. The techies waved to the crowd and went back to staring into their tiny screen world.

Still, a recent poll found that the happiest people in California are coastal Democrats, mostly because they have all the power and money. Inland is a different story, from struggling cities with soaring crime rates to rural jurisdictions with little influence in Sacramento. Our own Board of Supes voiced their disgust with the bear flag bureaucracy that wants us to preserve our wide open spaces for their recreation and forgo collecting property taxes. We keep sending them the bill they promised to pay, and they ignore it while treating us like begging children. “Please sir, could I have some more?”

We haven’t quite descended into a Dickens scenario yet, and we can probably expect another influx of refugee retirees in coming years. They’ll bring some much-needed capital into our neck of the woods. Odds are that many of them will be Democrats who still believe they can grab a piece of the California Dream. The Republicans who flee the coast are more likely to keep going, having given up all hope of rekindling the Reagan revolution in the golden state.

It will be a rough transition for the urbans here. They’ll have to do without Trader Joe’s. But there is a Starbuck’s, and judging from the line of cars I see there every day, business is booming.

I see it as an indicator of things to come. We’ll get some new blood, new politics, and increased property values as the newcomers organize to shut the door behind them. There will be new battles over what politically correct development will be allowed across the Bear River bridge, and the coming of legal marijuana will be a main topic of rural zoning laws. New residents will want the kind of services they were used to in the city.

So send us your poor displaced persons, yearning to be free of Scrooge McGoogle and his cronies. Just don’t try to turn us into the world you left behind.

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52 Responses to Trouble On The Coast

  1. But the first tranche is already here, in residence, and exacting its ‘stack and pack’ toll. What will be different when more of the same thinking comes with the escapees from Scrooge McGoogle? Stand by for ram.

  2. Ryan Mount says:

    > They’ll have to do without Trader Joe’s.

    Ya had to bring this up, didn’t you? 😉 But I have to hand it to you, nothing represents the neo-bourgeoisie more than a Trader Joe’s shopper. Or worse, shooper who laments not having one in his/her community. Nothing brings out the activist like the lack of Trader Joe’s.

  3. Judith Lowry says:

    (Sound of buzzer)
    It started with the Gold Rush, continued on until now, and this is where it ends.
    This is murder, why not let good old Joe do the cooking once in awhile?

  4. Greg Goodknight says:

    Trader Joe’s started its downhill run when they started their own brands and stopped mostly carrying remnants, like when some big specialty foods company changed packaging and had a truckload of the old stuff. The real trader, Joe Colombe (sp?) himself did the radio commercials, and the further you were from South Pasadena, the less the chance there would be of finding one.

    A Romanian coworker, an Engineer and refugee, asked me 20 years ago where one could buy good cheese because there wasn’t any in Grass Valley, and I turned him on to TJ’s, at the time the closest was on Sunrise, almost down to the 50. Ran into him last year and he asked me where to get good cheese now because TJ’s cheese selection sucked: Costco.

    Costco is better than TJ’s ever was, pay their workers better and keep them longer. While the best coffee I ever had remains a Yemeni Peaberry TJ’s carried for about 2 months circa ’82, those days are long gone.

    REI was better in the 70’s, too, but that’s another rant. Once a mountaineering discount shop, they went yuppie clothing a long time ago.

  5. Chris Peterson says:

    Back in the 70’s, when Nevada City was transitioning into a step back in time, a theme which worked very well and may have saved the town from ruin, Grass Valley had the the Marysville/Yuba City attitude of “we’ll take any business offered and you can put it anywhere you want. Now, as of my last visit a few months ago, it seems as though GV has latched onto the “I’ve got history too” gambit, even as I viewed NC as looking somewhat worse for wear. Empty buildings and a feeling of isolation, hiding the ever present force of a community hidden just outside the city limits in the trees.

    Your fear of an explosion of Joe’s is unfounded. Every burg from Chula Vista to Yreka discovered the hidden value of historical tourists years ago. The scenario has run it’s course, and there is no longer the brash distinction between NC and any other small town in CA; the formula for survival having been served to all.

    Eventually, like cell phone repeaters disguised as trees, someone will put in your Trader Joe’s, but it will be called Tommyknocker Willie’s, or some such modern stealth-mode enterprise.

    We must deviate from the norm to progress, -Frank Zappa

    (Oh, and if Jerry closed Cirino’s in NC for reasons of the ACA; I’m Napolean. What a bunch of whooey.)

    • Judith Lowry says:

      Very well put, Chris.

    • Ryan Mount says:

      I can only speak for myself, but I’m not afraid of an explosion of Trader Joe’s or Applebees or whatever. As for the Disney-fi-cation of the community? Whatever. As long as there’s a stiff drink downtown, I’m good.

      I just hate bad taste, people who sell shrink wrapped produce in an alcoholic wine dispensaries with a side of god-awful sushi. (And don’t eat swordfish. I warned you) And lastly, it’s annoying how people carry on about how they want a Trader Joe’s here they way my parent’s carried on about a McDonalds coming to town. Maybe it’s just the admission of how mediocre everything is/can be. How the kids nowadays prefer a McNugget thing in a box to a COOP Smart Chicken.

      Quoting Allen Ginsberg when he became upset with his boring meal: “Waiter, there’s a turd in my soup!”

      • Chris Peterson says:

        Patron: Waiter, taste the soup.
        Waiter: I’m sorry is there a problem with your soup, sir?
        Patron: Taste the soup.
        Waiter: Is it too cold?
        Patron: Taste the soup.
        Waiter: Is there something in it, sir?
        Patron: Taste the soup.
        Waiter: OK. Where’s your spoon?
        Patron: AHA!!

  6. Russ Steele says:

    I was in Auburn the other day on business and was having lunch at Mel’s Dinner. Across from the Dinner is some new construction and parking lot going in. We asked the lady at the Cash Register what was all the activity about. She said the new construction was going to be a new Best Buy location and that Trader Joe’s might be coming to the shopping center. The rumors that Trader Joe’s was coming to Auburn has been going around for over a year now. If they do come, it will not be in that Center with Mel’s Dinner as it is expanding, new tenants and more parking. Trader Joe’s targets failed strip malls and closed auto dealerships. There seems to be a lot of anticipation in Auburn for the WalMart and Costco construction to get underway. Real soon now we can all get our In and Out Burger fix before we head off to WalMart or Costco for the weeks supplies in Auburn.

  7. I’ve been hearing Trader Joe’s rumors since we moved up here in 2000, the most recent one being a variation on Russ Steele’s story. According to MY source, Trader Joe’s will take over the current Best Buy building on Bell Road when Best Buy moves down by Mel’s.

    There are a couple of problems with the story: That building is much bigger than any Trader Joe’s I’ve ever been in, and my source said she heard the story from somebody who…blah, blah, blah. I’ll believe the Trader’s coming when they announce it.

    As for the Mel’s in Auburn: I used to patronize the original in San Francisco, and the franchise is a poor imitation.

  8. Steven Frisch says:

    Man this is a far cry from my time living in an illegally converted warehouse in the SOMA in the early 1980’s. 800 square feet of wood floored wall to ceiling windowed open space, with only a small carve out for the water closet, on the 4th floor, accessible only by a very scary metal staircase or a freight elevator, with a shared central kitchen facility, for $250 per month. Illegal as hell but it was more fun than a frog in a glass of milk.

    • rl crabb says:

      Yeah, Steve, I visited many a loft in The City that fit that description. The entire Haight-Ashbury scene was possible due to the abundance of cheap housing in the sixties. What burgs will become the new incubators of art in this century? Stockton? Detroit?
      Or is the concept of the starving artist colony another casualty of the technology age? When you can communicate instantaneously from point “a” to point “b” does physical human contact become irrelevant?

      • Steven Frisch says:

        I have a little pied-à-terre in Fresno of all places and I am seeing an interesting trend of artsy people moving in to the city center region in lofts and repurposed industrial buildings, which they have a lot of, and even doing start up businesses. I think the age old tendency for urban expatriates to find cheap space and create is always going to be with us. It would not surprise me in the least to see cities like Stockton and Detroit do the same.

        I also don’t think the need to gather together physically will ever go away.

        I have been following this really cool thing called “Detroit Soup” which funds creative start-ups. I would love to see us doing something similar, which we kind of are with Innovate North State but it never seems to focus on the really rural.

  9. Jeff Pelline says:

    No Greg, it’s Joe Coulombe. They are family friends going back to the days of founding Trader Joe’s. We were regulars at the Pronto Market, the model for TJ’s. And I went to grade school with his daughter. We were best friends. Joe was a Stanford MBA.

    Instead of buying your cheese at Costco, try the Back Porch Market or BriarPatch.

    • Greg Goodknight says:

      And here I thought you were a NorCal kid, Jeff. Pasadena? Since I indicated my spelling was off, you didn’t find an error, sorry to burst your bubble.

      Yes, I’m sure you’d be a regular patron at a handy TJ’s; I’d occasionally find myself at one of the original Pronto’s but the original TJ’s on Arroyo Seco was the more likely target.

      Try Costco, Jeff. You don’t even have to tell anyone, but considering the number of Nevada County people I’ve seen shopping in their Roseville store, including Briar Patch types, you might not be able to stay incognito. Vertical stripes might help.

  10. And now, the rest of the story.

    Jeffie didn’t bother to mention that his old family friend lost his mojo when he left TJ’s, becoming the head man at a floundering Petrini’s supermarket chain in the Bay Area and managing it out of business.

    Why pay inflated prices for cheese at Back Porch Market and BriarPatch when Grocery Outlet has excellent prices for Velveeta, a cheese-like edible? (Cheese snobs aren’t as annoying as wine snobs, but they are close.)

    As for the original topic of this post: People have been ringing their hands over the fate of working- and middle-class families in San Francisco for at least 30 years, but they always manage to bounce back.

    The next bounce back will come when the city tears down Candlestick Park and redevelops the site, triggering a gentrification of Hunters Point that will force out the poor blacks (are you ready, Oakland?). This process will take 20 to 30 years, but it will happen.

    • rl crabb says:

      Cheap wine and cheese is a must for art shows. The local gallery scene would see attendance drop dramatically without munchies for the starving artist crowd that usually shows up to critique the hors d’oeuvres rather than the canvasses.

      • Greg Goodknight says:

        Personally, I love the cheap wine at the Burger Basin “Gross Me Outlet Barfin’ Market” but only buy their cheese when I don’t have a big chunk from Costco in the fridge waiting to be eaten, which is almost never. The only problem going there is running into nee’r do well cartoonists.

        TJ’s does have a great *cheap* tequila, Zapopan 100% agave, about $11 a liter. Same maker as the Costco brand, Fabrica de Tequilas Finos, Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico. A Midori venture that embarked on making superpremium tequila just in time for the great recession to hit when their aged flagship Anejo was ready to sip.

        Gotta go, the streaming of the Harvard’s Christmas Carol Service is starting and my kid is in the Harvard University Choir, making it a parental imperative to listen to it. Yo-yo Ma was sitting not 20′ away from him during yesterday’s concert, so it isn’t the usual yahoos one gets in Grass Valley or Nevada City

        Established 1834, the UChoir is the oldest collegiate choir in the USA.

        • It’s Yo-Yo Ma (both Ys capped) and despite what you might have read in Sierra FoodWineArt, he’s a cellist, not a violinist.

          • Chris Peterson says:

            So, no relation to the Smothers Brothers?

          • Greg Goodknight says:

            Does anyone *read* the FUE’s glossy advertiser?

            Yes, I know he’s a cellist, GB. My first professional orchestral gig was playing principal trumpet for Werner (son of Otto) Klemperer’s debut as a conductor many years ago. Hope you’re listening to the concert and non-denomenational service; I’ve it streaming to an older Android tablet and connected to my home theatre system.

    • rl crabb says:

      It looks like SF is becoming a “golden-gated” community. When will the government confiscate this unholy wealth and give some of it to me?

  11. PeteK says:

    HA! When the government finally makes MJ legal. The big tobacco farms will pull up a large portion of tobacco crops and plant MJ. It will be sold so cheap that the local growers will be out of business…unlessun they move into the Meth business, which is highly likely. And for those of you who think Trader Joes is coming to a location near you…lay off the pot for a few minutes….It ain’t gonna happen.

    • Chris Peterson says:

      Wow; sounds like somebody’s Mom got run over by a pot farmer.

      Newsflash: it’ll be legal in 10 years, and it won’t be a commodity that RJReynolds can make a profit on because it grows anywhere. It’ll be more like beer or wine, where you can make so many gallons yourself every year.

      I guess I just don’t get your post, Pete. Why would a pot farmer want to get into the meth business?

      • PeteK says:

        You bring up a good example. Homebrewing. The answer is because it will be more convenient and ultimately cheaper to go down to the five and dime and buy a pack of MJ joints. Being a person who has homebrewed myself. you realize that after all the ingredients bought and time, It is not significantly cheaper to do it yourself, its more of a hobby. Same goes for MJ.
        Large scale growers will be put out of business. AND like beer, unless you have a license from the government to sell, you are restricted to how much you can legally brew/grow. so sure people can grow for personal use but that is like having a garden(yeah you might grow a little but mostly still buy at the store)
        The answer to your second question is MONEY. Growers wont get squat for what they grow. Large scale operations will happen so the government can get their taxes on it.(one big reason government types are more receptive to the idea) Government will decide who get to grow and those others will be shut out/shut down. Meth will never be legal so that is where the money is at.
        And lastly it was my grandmother that got run over, but it was by a reindeer.

  12. Greg:

    I’ll bet Werner Klemperer is better known to most readers of this blog as Col. Klink in “Hogan’s Heroes.” Was that gig with the Buffalo Orchestra? (We all have to start somewhere.)

    The only time I actually tried to read our local compilation of puffery came while I was getting a flat tire repaired at Reno Vulcanizing (highly recommended if you have car problems in the Biggest Little City). I had to choose between that and a tattoo magazine, so I decided to read local. I was flipping through it when I came across the revelation about Ma.

    I assumed you know Ma is a cellist. It’s obvious you know everything.

  13. Greg Goodknight says:

    GB, no, the gig was with a small SoCal group called the West End Symphony Orchestra, similar to the current Auburn and Camelia Symphonies except it did pay, in gallons of gas equivalence, about 125 gallons worth. After that start, Klemperer had quite a musical career conducting symphonies large and small in fund raisers, which slowed the yearly decimation of large and small symphonies for a time.

    Otto was one of the great conductors of the 20th century, and Werner was, to this grunt in the brass section, the best I’ve ever played for. He might have been merely *playing* the part of a conductor but then, all conductors do, to a point, and it was obvious he knew every nuance of the piece (Shubert’s Unfinished Symphony) he was there to conduct. If the orchestra had been polled, they’d have voted to assassinate the regular conductor along with his concertmaster, Igor, have them buried together in an unmarked shallow grave or donated to Hannibal Lecter’s larder, and begged Werner to take the job. He was so overjoyed at being able to shake the stick and get music out of it, it was a delight to help him out.

    At the time, I was passing my trumpeting prime; I was thinking of turning pro for a career when I was in the 11th grade but after getting my SAT scores and doing real well in 12th grade physics and math, I decided to take an easier way out and study physics instead. Music is a tough way to make a living.

    Sorry about your misconception that I know everything; if you can manage to learn some more you might get over it.

    • Chris Peterson says:

      Suddenly, I no longer take as much pride in having played trumpet for 11 years. (Can’t wait to hear how much better Greg was than I.)

      • Greg Goodknight says:

        You tell me, Chris; your hate runs deep. Wie schade!

        If you still have a trumpet (or any other instrument) gathering dust in your closet there’s sure to be a community band near you that would let you play it again. A nameless trumpeting former president of the Nevada County Community Band was still referring to a fingering chart 30 years after he started playing, so there is a wide range of talents in such groups. I took about three months of practicing after a 20 year layoff before showing up to the NCCB to play in the mid ’90’s. Give it a try.

        • Chris Peterson says:

          Actually, the lip is still in shape. I’ve got a trombone, french horn, trumpet, cornet, guitar and banjo. Love ’em all, master of none. When I’m thinking, (albeit not that often), I have a habit of fingering my palm in lieu of valves.

          And I don’t hate; it simply is what it is.

          • Greg Goodknight says:

            A couple of “How many trumpeters does it take to screw in a lightbulb?” jokes that play to the stereotype that’s apparently motivating Chris:

            “One; they hold up the lightbulb and the world revolves around them.”

            “Ten; one to screw in the lightbulb and nine to stand around and say how much better they can do it.”

            I’ve met so many who were better players I got over it long ago, starting with the kid who was better than me in junior high, and saved me from always following the lead dog by moving away; after high school he went on the road with the King Family and he’s a lead player in demand in LA to this day.

            It’s obviously hate, CP. Either embrace it for what it is or stop it.

          • Chris Peterson says:

            Well, I gave up the dream when my Mom took my younger brother to a yard sale, where he bought an old guitar, and within a couple of weeks he could play anything by ear that it had taken me years of straight A’s in school to achieve.

            Some folks just got it natural.

            And if I really hated ya’, I wouldn’t give you the time of day, much less spend any time conversing with you on a blog. Matter of fact; I smile every time I answer one of your posts.

            I’m smiling right now!

        • Chris Peterson says:

          Stadt ohne Mitleid:

          Always thought this would make a good blues trumpet solo.

          • Greg Goodknight says:

            Then there’s this gem from your long gone youth,
            Time Won’t Let Me
            by the one hit wonders, The Outsiders


            The trumpeter, later a friend, was a kid from my high school (a few years older) named Johnny Madrid, playing a scab recording gig in LA at age 18, when I was barely in Jr. High. Passed away at a very young age, very sad.

            Auld lang syne.

          • Chris Peterson says:

            I remember your friend’s high pitch refrains at the end of the stanzas very well. Wouldn’t be recognizable without it.

            Here in Portland, we have Chris Botti although, this time of year, he’s way too busy to even catch a glimpse of him in the clubs. Another natural.

          • Chris Peterson says:

            By the way, to connect our two posts; the Outsiders toured as part of Gene Pitney’s concert tour, back in the day.

          • Greg Goodknight says:

            Botti is of course a well known pro of great renoun.

            I think the only mortal Portland OR trumpeter I know, a fellow participant in the Humboldt Brass Chamber Music Workshop, is one Michael H, who has drunk the Monette koolaid to some good effect. I also know Joan Paddock, was/is the professor of trumpet at a college in McMinnville, iirc.

  14. I thought I detected a sliver of humility in Goodknight’s 12:56 p.m. post, but apparently he took a nap and got over it.

    • Greg Goodknight says:

      George, if you and Chris would stop throwing punches your perceptions would change.

      • Chris Peterson says:

        Whoa now, Greg. I’ll admit that I’m sometimes proactive on the epithets, but it’s usually because I know what’s coming.

        You can’t keep walking away from every fight with your hands in the air and expect everyone to believe it’s never your doing.

        Fess up; you’re not only are good at throwing zingers…you like it. If we stopped throwing punches, we’d all be listening to you from our backs.

        • Greg Goodknight says:

          The first zinger in this thread was by GB here:

          My retort was measured.

          Your unprovoked zinger in response was here:

          There was nothing coming your way, nothing to be proactive about. Just a gratuitous slam to join in what you seem to view as fun.

          I make no apologies for hitting back, but I much prefer not getting hit in the first place.

          • rl crabb says:

            I’m surprised this conversation hasn’t drifted into whether blowing hot air through a trumpet contributes to global warming, if such a thing exists. The problem seems to be that no one wants to play the last note, so the music ends up being pointless, endless, blaring.
            A little sarcasm should be expected when virtuosos collide. At some point, just agree to disagree on how the piece should be interpreted and let it go.
            Otherwise, meet at some neutral ground and settle it with dueling trumpets.

          • Greg Goodknight says:

            RL, by the time the air escapes from the trumpet or any other brass instrument is it at the ambient temperature of the surroundings; however, it does contain ~40,000ppm CO2 so the EPA should probably regulate it.

  15. Anthony Kropotkin says:

    Hey Greg, when one acts like they know everything, every day, and every other person they come into contact with is an illiterate, innumerate idiot, who has no basis for their ideas, and every attempt to discuss ideas devolves into one-upmanship, name calling, personal attacks, and threats of litigation, you have to expect people to be guarded in dealing with you and expect you to act as history shows you will.

    You reap what you sow my ‘friend’ and you sow bitter seeds.

    • Greg Goodknight says:

      Was than fun? An anonymous sock puppet with an attitude and string of baseless ad hominems; how special.

      I’ll revise my best guess as to identity… MA, not AK.

      If you have a basis for whatever ideas you had that I countered in the past, try sticking with them and arguing them, and not devolve into baseless defamations or tossing insults into the fan, like you’ve done here.

      As a courtesy to RLC, I’ve not used sock puppets here; I’d prefer that to continue, and if “Kropotkin” acts like an adult in the future, perhaps they’ll do the same.

    • Michael Anderson says:

      Sorry GG, I don’t use socks. Plus, commenting on the blogs has lost my interest as I have much more important things to do these days. I still read for occasional amusement–watching monkeys fling feces is kinda funny, though I’m trying to find other avocations there as well. I think you should just enjoy yet another new-found friend in AK; you sure know how to attract ’em!

      • Greg Goodknight says:

        The chance that “AK” is someone new is vanishingly small. *If* not you, one of a small circle, a roundup of the usual suspects.

      • Michael Anderson says:

        That’s right Greg, there’s a cadre of us with nothing better to do than create socks to haunt and harass you on obscure Nevada County weblogs.

        Let’s honor that thought for a moment:

        • Greg Goodknight says:

          Not a cadre which implies a core surrounded by a larger group, just a handful that Jerry Garcia could have counted on the fingers of either hand, all of whom I picked up over global warming debates, though you may have grown past that one.

          The “my friend” could point to one SF, the CEO of a local wretchedly misnamed environmental 501c3, as he has been known to include that little phrase when aiming at people he isn’t actually friendly with. Plus, SF is the only one in my little “fan club” who has IMO stepped over the line between insult and libel within the last year.

  16. Anthony Kropotkin says:

    But I would love to hear the dueling trumpets!

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