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Monday, June 25, 2012

Did We Do That? Scenes from the SF Weekly Fake Pro-Yuppie Rally in 1999

Posted By on Mon, Jun 25, 2012 at 9:32 AM

Remember yuppies? Man oh man, did we hate yuppies once. I guess we still do, but we call them the 1 percent now. Darn you, the 1 percent! Circa Y2K, it was dot-commers moving into the Mission and other relatively inexpensive neighborhoods, thus turning them into relatively expensive neighborhoods and driving out the previous residents. I'm simplifying the issue, but that's what we do in San Francisco.

The bottom line is, there was conflict, and the SF Weekly of yore decided to have some fun with it.

So there was this thing called The Mission Yuppie Eradication Project, which, according to this frozen-in-amber web page, was "a grassroots movement working to raise awareness about gentrification issues," one which "advocated controversial methods," and which felt that the "yuppie dot-com lifestyle must be fought and eliminated, because if it is left unchecked, it will eventually ruin our neighborhoods, our cities, and our planet." Thank goodness the bubble burst, huh?

This other time capsule of a web page -- man, remember when there were tildes in URLs? ~ 4 eva! -- gives a good sense of the evolution of San Francisco up to that point, including a jarring picture of the old Embarcadero Freeway (which is not directly relevant to this story but fascinating nonetheless). Sadly, this page does not include a certain advertisement that ran on page nine of the June 2, 1999 issue of SF Weekly. Titled "Stop the Hate," the ad called for a rally in Dolores Park that coming Sunday to protest the protests against yuppies and gentrification.

Oh, and it was conceived by the Weekly's then editor-in-chief John Mecklin, and written by the Weekly's also-then managing editor Laurel Wellman. It was a prank! In modern parlance, they were doin' it for the lulz.

For the record, I do not know either Mecklin or Wellman, nor had I even heard of them before now. This all happened long before I became a freelance contributor to the Exhibitionist last year.

Anyway, I recommend reading Mecklin's soup-to-nuts story of the hoax, in which he takes pride in his total pwnage (to again use modern parlance) of the Examiner, and he declares that pranks are part of the Weekly's shtick, and so long as people in San Francisco keep acting preposterously, the Weekly will keeping pranking them, by god! Wellman's reportage from the rally itself is also great stuff, and both have a lot of grist for your own "man, remember when _______?" mill. (Oh, you have one. Don't even pretend you don't.)

Also interesting reading is the Examiner's pre-rally "Fed-up yups take on Mission hostility" and the post-rally "No yups, just nopes at rally in Mission." Apparently, the 1999 Examiner shared a headliner writer with the 1935 Variety.

Anyway, let's look at the event itself. This neighborhood resident is understandably less than thrilled about the increased police presence.

It's a pity this took place well before the current improv comedy boom, because, really, this faux-protestor is not very convincing. Or maybe that's the point?

A sign of how much things have changed in the years since is that the word "hipster" was never spoken once, at least not in front of this camera -- and, of course, these days we hate the hipsters almost as much as we hate the 1 percent. (Darn you, hipsters!) I bring this up because of how oddly archaic the jauntily attired Anonymous Bosch's usage of the word "bohemian" feels.

Speaking of how much things have changed, have you noticed that on this bright warm Sunday, there isn't a line of people around the corner of 18th and Dolores, because Bi-Rite Creamery didn't exist yet? So. Weird.

This performance artist gets the joke, she understands what it means to do opposites, but is driven to crankiness by the fact that the media is present and people do not get it, and thus they do not hear the serious shit they need to hear.

This Latino gentleman distances himself and his community from the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project's support of vandalism, since, historically, the heat from the police for that kind of thing does not come down on white people.

Finally, a young hoodied woman tells it like it is. And is.

You can watch all seven minutes of this video on the great sftimecap YouTube channel, and if anyone has the original ad form the Weekly, we'd love to see it.


Sherilyn Connelly is a San Francisco-based writer. She also curates and hosts Bad Movie Night at The Dark Room, every Sunday at 8pm.

Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF (follow Sherilyn Connelly on Twitter at @sherilyn) and like us on Facebook.

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