Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I, CARPETBAGGER

Chris Daly's announced departure from San Francisco has his critics shouting "Carpetbagger!"

Merriam Webster mentions private gain as the motive of carpetbaggers.  I'd expand that to include "pursuit of political agenda."

2: outsider ; especially : a nonresident or new resident who seeks private gain from an area often by meddling in its business or politics

There's also the aspect of exploiting unstable political conditions, as per the Reconstruction South.

gen strike

It can be annoying to permanent residents when newcomers with little understanding of local history attempt to effect permanent changes, and then move on.

I laugh when I hear someone who's lived here a few years talk about the San Francisco Spirit, or, cluelessly state that San Francisco is a "progressive" city.

I think it's a good thing to have newcomers bring new ideas and new energy, like flowing versus stagnant water. Of course, many of the new ideas aren't any good, most aren't even new.  It's a process.

strikers shot

If a newcomer, a temporary resident, effects a change that is beneficial, and can be sustained by the permanent community, then, hooray!

I did it, sort of.

In 1970 I went to Lincoln, Nebraska to be with my first love, David McIntosh, who had just moved to Lincoln, himself, to attend the University.

We, more he than I but me too, founded UNGAG and LINGAG, University of Nebraska Gay Action Group, and Lincoln Gay Action Group. These were the first Gay groups in the history of Nebraska.

The main "program" of these groups became weekly "coffeehouses" in the basement of one of the campus ministries.

These "coffeehouses" were intended as free-form gatherings for gay people, but quickly took on the look of a gay, non-alcoholic, dance bar.

The ministry basement on Saturday nights was the first and only public gathering place for gay people in that town.

The town/gown aspect was especially charming.

The nearest gay bars, themselves oppressively closeted, were eighty or so miles away in Omaha.

NebMap

I was especially proud, and amused, when I stopped in Lincoln a few years later and attended a "coffeehouse," crowded and happening (as happening as you can get in the basement of a campus ministry).

When the dancing was interrupted for an announcement/presentation ceremony, a local guy was introduced as the founder of LINGAG. Certainly no mention of David or myself.

You know you've done something good when other people take credit for it.

My point is that a "carpetbagger's" tenure should be judged not by its length, but by its lasting effects.

Unfortunately, the beneficial effects of Chris Daly's stay in San Francisco appear to be negligible.

[Photos above are from the San Francisco's General Strike of 1934. In the first photo its easy to tell which guy is a striker and which is SFPD. For the second photo here's a hint: SFPD are vertical, strikers are horizontal.]

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1 comment:

sfmike said...

Welcome back to the intertubes, old friend.