City of the Future Present

Saint Ann's Valley

“Saint Ann’s Valley” (2012)

The future we have created is far more horrid than any nightmare scenario we dreamed in the last century. In recent years, life in San Francisco has become radicalized in the most unpleasant ways. For all the City’s braggadocio, it no longer supports or even cares about the people who for many years made it such a special place. San Francisco has embraced corporatism and rejected culture, becoming in the process a city of the living dead.

I can no longer sell prints to save my soul. All my gear is collateral for a loan, thus changes to the central city have gone undocumented for months. One by one, my sponsors have discontinued their monthly subscriptions without explanation. Chief among them was a software company on Market Street. The amount of their subscription was pocket change to anyone who works there. For me, it meant sustenance for a week. Once rent is paid, I am forced to choose between necessities and generally elect to pay monthly bills for phone and internet services, utilities and medication instead of buying food, all the while sinking ever deeper into a financial hole.

Market and Golden Gate

“Market and Golden Gate” (2014) “Let There Be” marks the Eastern Outfitting Company building, restored 2013-2014 by Zendesk, Inc.

Struggling for miserable survival in the midst of plenty is not a life. It is constant torment and a harrowing, drawn-out demise. Intermittent lip service to the plight of artists is background noise, an irritant, nothing more. Else-wise, the silence has been deafening. Played out, worn down by age and failing health, limited resources depleted, it seems as though all my work has been for nothing. Those who may have wondered about my posts becoming so sporadic now know the reason.

Razing Saint Francis

“Razing Saint Francis” (2013)

If it so happens that you are enjoying the spectacle of my crack-up, please be sure to let me know. Even morbid appreciation is gratifying. Conversely, I will thank you to keep empty, bleeding-heart reassurances to yourselves. Hollow words serve only to annoy.


Filed under Messages, Mid-Market, Sixth Street, Tenderloin

20 responses to “City of the Future Present

  1. Charles bolton

    Mark, I am worried about you. San Francisco is the new Disney land. To be consumed in all its plastic splendor by tourists and tech heads alike.
    It is clear there is no Zen in Zen Desk.
    My Nikon D70 is still available to you, if you want it.
    When the last artist is pushed out of the city’ who will turn on the lights?

  2. Lauren Maddock

    Dear Mark,
    While it saddens me deeply to hear your situation, it still gave me hope that there is yet a spark of defiance against the machine of corporatization cascading over the City. Your works still shine on at the Arlington Hotel; Ironically it has become a stop on the tourist trail called Detour.
    My sister-in-law at the Annenberg Foundation at Sunnylands and I still believe in the importance of your work and incredible talent you hold.

    • Thank you, Lauren. I recorded much of the Detour voice-over track for Julia Scott last year and am very curious to know how it all turned out. When I’m feeling up to it, I plan on taking the tour to find out. I look forward to seeing some familiar faces at the Arlington when I do.

  3. This blog deserves sponsorship galore.
    “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”
    ― Dorothea Lange

  4. “Guard your honor. Let your reputation fall where it will. And outlive the bastards.” – Lois McMaster Bulold

    • Love that! I’ve been guided by Socrates (?) The best revenge is a life well lived. I like outliving them as the last triumph.

    • Easier said than done, since most of them are 30-40 years younger than I.

      • Hmm…am I fortunate that it was older people who did me in in my youth? Perhaps. I’ve outlived the worst and ignore the others, who do not seem to be having much fun in their own later years. As Seth says, “You make your own reality. Period.” This is NOT the same thing as those who blame people for getting cancer, having disasters, &c. It is making lemonade when given lemons. (Advertiser…oh dear, forget his name, said that.) I think you have made a lot of fine lemonade in your time. I hope you’ll make more…you are now.

      • Thank you, Helen. Making lemonade is what we do, it seems.

  5. Tommy Wilkens

    Please continue your wonderful work and your postings here.I must say I enjoy them and look forward to them.Why might I ask is it so damn expensive to live in the Tenderloin district ?Even in a one room place seems to be outrageous ..

  6. I cannot check Like because I do not like the turn of society that has brought you to this point. I do not ‘like’ hearing how things are for you – and also know that ‘Liking’ has nothing to do with hearing the truth that is. If there were an ‘Appreciate’ button I’d hit it because I believe this information needs to get out, especially to those who do not worry about what they’ll eat or whether they can stay in their home; who do not understand that saying something costs “only as much as a latte a day” is totally meaningless to those of us who cannot afford a plain coffee a day…or any other non-essential a day. If I were not in a similar boat, albeit bigger and higher floating, I would send you that “latte a day”, but this is no comfort. I do not mean this as a bleeding-heart reassurance; there is nothing reassuring going on in the US that I know of right now. I am still glad you are there and post things so I know that you are.

    • My dear Helen, your words are never empty. I only wish we were not separated by so many miles so that we might sometimes share afternoon tea and converse face to face.

      • You & me both, Mark. There needs to be an earth-warp device,which warps the earth to bring far-flung people closer together for a certain period of time every year or two. It needs to do many permutations of warps, so the period of repeat might be fairly long.

        This may continue to be only a dream, but I am still working on a way to get to the west coast, possibly able to stay with another friend, a ‘young woman ‘ (young = under 65, or under 75, even) who also lives in SF. I am thinking 2017-18 winter. So you must last that long! A demand from me. (Virtual Hug to you now.)

      • I think I’ll still be around. 😉

      • GOOD-O! I’ll hold you to it! Maybe some paraphrase of Groucho Marx is in order. He said, “I am going to live forever or die trying.”

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