Monday, September 24, 2018

The Summer of Love Died Long Ago.

by Ed Attanasio (writer), San Frickin' Frisco, Baby!, January 11, 2010

Credit: Bill Ellkington Jr. III
There's a whole lotta hate in the Haight right now!

Whatever happened to San Francisco's Haight Ashbury and How Can We Get It Back?

San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district used to be a great place to visit, with all of the funky cafes, the head shops, the amazing music stores and a great laid-back vibe, but now it’s turned into a battleground where homeless drunks, stoners, small-time pot dealers and an entire armada of world’s lost children have taken over the area by acting like aggressive bullies and fighting the cops, who are losing the war and don’t really seem to care.

One of our friends was recently assaulted by a gang of homeless stoners in the Haight. He was walking down the street, avoiding eye contact with anyone, when three thugs decided to block him from passing on the sidewalk.

“Hey, there’s a toll here,” one of the slimier miscreants actually spoke.

“Yeah, it’s five bucks each,” another chimed in.

“Yeah, you can afford it,” the Curly of the trio added his two cents.

Like most of us, my friend changed his route and walked out into oncoming traffic to avoid more thuggery.

“We’ll kill you next time we see you around here, asshole,” they said in unison, which makes me think they rehearse regularly.

Luckily, my buddy got out of there in one piece, but he did promise himself to never return to the Haight. (Note: Tourism must be booming!)

This was not the only Haighter story I had heard, so I decided to witness the carnage myself. As a writer, I feel as though I should see things with my own eyes whenever I can. So, I went to the Haight and drove around for awhile, making sure to stay in my vehicle to observe in safety, like going to one of those Wild Animal Parks.

And the animals I observed were no less intimidating, ugly and menacing, as described. The thugs are perfectly named--they block off all of the sidewalks they can by sitting and allowing no one to walk past. People are forced to walk through traffic and risk getting hit by cars if they hope to pass. And heaven forbid if you try to walk through the mob.

During the half hour that I witnessed this phenomena, not one person confronted the sidewalk sitters. People as a rule don’t want hassles, and the average Joe or Jo on the street will take his or her chance getting hit by a car as compared to confronting angry-looking, physically intimidating people who have outnumbered them. This unruly mob doesn’t have guns, but their arsenal, consisting of yelled epitaphs, pit bulls, flying spit and even throwing fists if necessary, is apparently effective.

The Haight has turned into Bartertown, the apocalyptic village featured in the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. I kept expecting to see a fight breaking out between Max (Mel Gibson) and Aunty Entity (Tina Turner) at any time from amongst the dusty minions lining the streets of the Haight.

So, now everyone knows the problem exists. The local media’s all over it. But, those same thugs are sitting there right now, doing the same thing to every passerby they can. Will someone have to die before something gets done? Will it then become a national story so that the city and the cops will suddenly have to spin it their way and pass the blame to anyone and everyone else?

Probably. And that’s the saddest part of this entire tale. Most of the time things don’t get done until they have to get done. People only learn things the hard way and this will be another example of that. Count on it.

About the Writer

Ed Attanasio is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
Want to write articles too? Sign up & become a writer!

7 comments on The Summer of Love Died Long Ago.

Log In To Vote   Score: 5
By William Del Valle on January 11, 2010 at 10:42 am

Very good article Ed. I have heard that the area is getting worse and hopefully your article will bring it the attention it needs.

 Report abuse

Log In To Vote   Score: 4
By Glenn T on January 11, 2010 at 11:57 am

Great piece, Ed. I've never been a big fan of SF - and feel like it lost its cultural relevance about the same time the Haight actually used to be safe. But though it may not be my cup of tea - I think it deserves to not be allowed to devolve into anarchy, and the current leadership seems disinterested. "ive and let live" is only a servicable maxim to a certain extent, and it looks like we've gotten there.

 Report abuse

Log In To Vote   Score: 4
By s.r.Ously on January 11, 2010 at 01:36 pm

WWHD? (what would HARRY do?).

 Report abuse

Log In To Vote   Score: 3
By Lady D on January 11, 2010 at 03:49 pm

This reminds me of a Richard Pryor joke. "Drugs weren't a problem till tjey moved to the white suburbs"

It seems to be another offshoot of our present fear hate thought pattern.

So are we going to "fix" this with more thuggary? I think not. This is just a symptom of our general society.

You did bring some light to the underbelly of neglect.

 Report abuse

Log In To Vote   Score: 3
By Ryan Glenn on January 13, 2010 at 03:56 pm

Sad and true. Made me think of another nostalgia story here, Hell Has A Place Reserved In It, also about how much the San Francisco area has changed. I would liked to have seen it in the 1960's. Today's San Francisco and area? I'll pass.

 Report abuse

Log In To Vote   Score: 1
By AmyO on January 14, 2010 at 11:24 am

You are very right about that... You hear about the bad areas like the Mission and the Tenderloin, but the Haight has been taken over by young drug addicts and is just as bad, in my opinion. You wouldn't want to be walking around there after dark, and during the day is still not much better. We took a relative that came to visit from Ireland there last year and I was embarrassed at how it looked. I hope that the city takes the necessary steps to stop this from becoming another off-limits area in SF. Especially since there is so much culture and history there.

 Report abuse

Log In To Vote   Score: 1
By Greene on January 21, 2010 at 07:30 pm

“San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time — and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights — or very early mornings — when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder's jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. . . .

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .”

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

 Report abuse

Add A Comment!

Click here to signup or login.

Rate This Article

Your vote matters to us