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Boom: The Sound of Eviction 2002 (By Whispered Media, 96 mins.)
The vast domed hall of the old Armory in San Franciscos Mission District which sat empty and rotting for the last several decades comes to life with martini- swilling dotcommers and real estate developers, dressed in army fatigues, partying. Caterers in camo serve canapés and booze from olive drab net-covered tents. The theme of the event suits the occasiona celebratory re-launch of the Armorys cavernous insides as swank offices for the booming tech sector. Perhaps unwittingly, the party resonates with the deeper meaning of the battle of gentrification that is driving working class residents out of the neighborhood. Suddenly, a young Latina student who snuck past security, seizes the microphone and disrupts the self satisfied proceedings with an urgent announcement about the destruction of the barrio. This scene and many others from the frontlines are captured in a new documentary Boom: The Sound of Eviction. Whispered Medias first feature length film traces the typography of the Mission skirmish line and the formidable resistance residents and activists mustered against the seemingly unstoppable conquest of their neighborhood by moneyed elites. Following the unfolding events with tenacity and lots of on the scene footage the filmmakers tell a clear and rich story.
By the summer of 2000, the carnage was piling up: it seemed like everyone was getting evicted, from working class seniors and families to non-profits and arts groups. Mayor Willie Browns tacit endorsement of it allIf you dont earn over $45,000 a year, move to a different citywas most clearly demonstrated by his support for the law-breaking triumvirate of the Planning Department, Planning Commission and maverick developer Joe ODonog- hues Residential Builders Association. City planners were not enforcing legal limits on the construction of new offices and the more that were built, the more rich dotcommers moved in, wildly jacking up rents and fueling both residential and commercial evictions. City government facilitated the gentrification wave by overlooking laws that require new developments to contribute to low-income housing, roads, and schools, losing over 20 million in tax revenues as a result. Meanwhile real estate profiteers were making out like gangbusters.
As the documentary illustrates, Latino and white lefties, along with regular folks of no particular political persuasion, were organizing on a number of fronts. The Marenco family, faced with an eviction notice, pulled together friends and neighbors to picket their landlord at his corner store, disrupting business and ultimately triumphing. A united front of local non-profits and activists known as The Mission Anti-Displacement Coalitionor more evocatively the MACtook city government and developers to task for their depredations, most notably at a meeting where 500 residents confronted Gerald Greene, head of the Planning Department in a bitter three-hour verbal assault. Meanwhile, artists staged numerous street performances protesting the wholesale eviction of several important neighborhood arts organizations.
Other representations of the recent struggle in San Francisco, notably on NPR and in the New York Times, portrayed artists as the primary victims. Boom does not repeat this mistake. While the documentary acknowledges the plight of artists, it tempers the sometimes self-pitying and self-serving theatrics of white middleclass dancers and would-be curators by focusing on the larger, often overtly racist and truly massive evisceration of the mostly Latino working class of the Mission.
As Boom points out, of the $20 billion in venture capital nationally, a staggering $7.5 of it went directly to San Francisco. The 1990s economic expansion was not just a time, but a place; this influx of cash has a spatial component. As the 2000 census data confirms, the main beneficiaries were unquestionably those at the top. While incomes rose in city centers, they declined in the peripheries. This directly echoes the geography of gentrification. People earning more dough were moving into working class neighborhoods displacing lower wage earners who were forced to move farther out (sometimes much farther) for cheaper rents. As the middle class dwindled during the 1990s the economy became more polarized and real wages lagged behind 1989 levels right up until 1998; only a year and a half before the crash did the boom translate into modestly rising blue collar paychecks. This means working folks had less money to out-bid options-crazed yuppies on over- priced flats, especially in the Mission where 80 percent of the inhabitants are renters. By the end of the decade only 11 percent of San Franciscans could afford market rate rent.
Whispered Medias film also traces the downside of the bubble days in other parts of the Bay Area as it follows a single mother evicted from her house in Oakland and thrown onto the rental market of boom-time 1999. Unable to find an affordable abode, she ends up sleeping on a friends living room floor with her five children and eventually leaving the area altogether. Boom is excellent in that it documents a tale that could otherwise disappear, after all, the evicted, forced to move away, take their story with them. Boom should be requisite viewing for students, activists, and communities facing gentrification.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.