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Sunday, August 7, 2022

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News + PoliticsThe Super Bowl's bread and circuses did not bring...

The Super Bowl’s bread and circuses did not bring SF together

It takes more than free music and fireworks to build civic unity

Even by BeyondChron’s standard level of frequent apologia for select members of the City’s elite, the post, “Super Bowl City promoted unity, not division or gentrification,” reaches new heights of rose-colored spin.

48hillssupcitylogoYou see, the week-long corporate extravaganza “Super Bowl City Presented by Verizon” at the foot of Market Street that featured exhibits/venues sponsored by Levi’s, Bud Light, CBS Sports, Chevron, CNN, Dignity Health, Hyundai, Intel, Kaiser Permanente, Macy’s, the NFL, SAP, San Francisco Travel, VISA, and the travel associations of Sonoma County and San Jose must have been “incredibly popular” because “the majority of San Franciscans … are not deeply offended by corporate America,” according to BeyondChron.

Perhaps … or perhaps not. There is no data source offered for that sweeping conclusion. I suspect San Franciscans’ perspectives about corporate America are a lot more complicated depending on the specific issue at hand.

For example, San Franciscans might feel more sympathetic toward the several dozen street artists/vendors normally located at Ferry Plaza who were booted out without any replacement venue, thereby losing over a week’s income. Or regret the total prohibition on any local mom-and-pop food trucks parking anywhere near Super Bowl City to share in the business created by its several hundred thousand visitors. But at least one food truck and four mom-and-props were allowed to join four high-end eateries inside the restricted zone so maybe that’s enough for BeyondChron.

Or San Franciscans might be more concerned about the widespread drop in sales last week reported by many businesses of all sizes in the northeast quadrant of the city due to local and Bay Area residents avoiding this area due to impossible traffic and the media hype about massive hoards of national visitors, which actually did not materialize until the Friday before the game. But at least all the hotels, big and small (and short-term renters?), made a ton of money by exorbitantly jacking up their rates sky-high. Hey, why not, that’s capitalism!

And then about dividing out the homeless … who were nowhere to be seen anywhere in the vicinity of Super Bowl City, in any capacity, or at any of the other Super Bowl events in Union Square (more Bud Light) and Yerba Buena Gardens (the NFL Experience by Hyundai) — well, that must not matter to San Franciscans at all.

But Music! Fireworks! And “… working and middle-class residents eager to see top recording artists whose regular concerts they might not be able to afford.” So BART had its busiest day ever on Saturday as hundreds of thousands flooded into the city from the East Bay (now functionally city neighborhoods too, thanks to gentrification) to see their shows.

Okay, I’m all for that (thought I might note those tickets cost so much due the demographics of gentrification and the corporate dominance of the nation’s entertainment industry – oops, there I go again!). So let’s have more city-sponsored free music and fireworks along the waterfront, but I don’t think it takes a Super Bowl corporate blowout to do that. We have a Park and Recreation Department, I think we could do that ourselves.

Ultimately, we are being anti-unity snobs, BeyondChron concludes, by dissing and looking down our collective noses at all of the above. We are “… those who enjoy San Francisco’s Sightglass coffee, microbreweries, and independent cafes serving avocado toast,” and who, “are eager to cast judgment on those who do not share their cultural values [and] fail to understand the broader vision of acceptance upon which San Francisco was built.”

Well, I will confess to much preferring local brews over Bud Light. But no, the ongoing corporate-driven homogenization and commercialization of America is NOT San Francisco’s “broader vision of acceptance.” Since America’s cultural revolution started here in the 1950s, it has always been about rejecting that corporate bullshit – now more sophisticated and pervasive than ever – and building a society that values people over corporate profits. We aren’t that blind to the ugly truths behind the Super Bowl party.

Throughout history the elite of empires, have used free bread and circuses to pacify their exploited populations. It’s so easy to fall for isn’t it? And we aren’t even getting the bread.


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