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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

$5M of Weaponized Tackiness: Super Bowl City Is a Depressing Bore

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 4:30 PM

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

I went to Super Bowl City, and it's absolutely terrible. It's a boring, badly planned surveillance state by and for people with shitty taste that manages to be as crassly commercial as a mall with lackluster foot traffic without any kind of glitz or spectacle. It is a tableau of weaponized tackiness, a failure of urbanism, and an irruption of banality into a public space with enormous potential. For $5 million — or whatever the true cost of San Francisco's sporting-event-by-proxy turns out to be — we should have gotten a lot more than this half-assed carnival of the jejune.

If entering from the Market Street end, you pass through metal detectors and stroll down towards the Embarcadero, passing lots of interesting things on your way to some mostly empty stages, like a pop-up Kaiser Permanente and the Visit San Jose booth. You could also just skip this whole thing and go to the Ferry Building, which is much quieter than usual (and where Gott's Roadside will host the Animal Planet Puppy Bowl over the next few days). 

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

Behind the shipping container that houses the Visit San Jose information kiosk is part of the "Art Walk," which is also called "Artspan." I'm sensing a little bit of aggression in this Francis Bacon rendition of a panther versus a bronco, aren't you? I didn't catch the name of the artist, but I'm pretty sure the rear windshield of his Lumina has a decal of Calvin taking a whiz.

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

That's not all the art, no, no! There is also this wall of cans of official sponsor Bud Light that was clearly put together by some sophomores.

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane


Don't even think of touching the cans of Bud Light that make up this salute to rape culture, though, or they'll release the hounds Clydesdales. Someone went to great pains to drink all that for the sake of elegance and refinement.

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

Elsewhere, artisans who work exclusively within the medium of beer can created this monstrous, stubby-fingered hand reaching up from the earth to catch a pass. 

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

Except for the fact that it's a Hyundai, this the kind of car a Russian oligarch gives his teenage son two years before he can legally drive. If you saw this thing parked on the street, could you resist the urge to key it? Me neither.

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

Unsurprisingly, there are lots of militarized cops patrolling around as if this were Fallujah. I counted Homeland Security, the Coast Guard (which has a K-9 unit, apparently), and dozens of SFPD playing RoboCop dress-up. I can't even be bothered to research the number and placement of security cameras or the possible existence of those NSA-type devices that trick your phone into thinking it's connecting to wifi only for them to hoover up all your metadatas, because it's too depressing. If you're a straight bro who wants to cruise Craigslist for some surreptitious totally-not-gay Super Bowl action while you're in town, do it elsewhere.

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

Remember when Occupy was here? And people were really upset about the loss of the bocce courts to a social justice movement? Well, now CBS Sports has taken it over, and borderline cyborgs are patrolling it — probably for trademark infringements more than anything. It's not hard to draw connections between football as the sport of choice for a belligerent superpower in decline and the titillating thrill that citizens of a highly militarized society get from watching the empire flex its muscles on behalf of giant corporations.

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

Somehow, I expected the ATM fees to be much higher than $4.

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

Not everything was ghastly, though. This little girl and her parents traveled from Denver to be here. Look how shy she is in her li'l Broncos tutu! #adorbs

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

To circumvent the "The food was awful, and there was hardly any of it!" trap of armchair food criticism, I will say that the $12 fried chicken sandwich I ate wasn't half-bad, and much cheaper than the $20 lobster roll from Woodhouse that's quickly turning into the $4 toast of Super Bowl 50. But if the Host Committee thinks four or five spots to queue up for fried food is going to feed the anticipated crowds as we get closer to Sunday and the stages ramp up, they're out of their minds. Eat before you go!

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

The only souvenir I walked out with was this New World Order tract, which reads like the comment section on Alex Jones' InfoWars tinged with rabid anti-Catholicism, or like a Jack Chick tract with only a few cartoons. Tell me: Does Super Bowl City attract these people because they see it as the province of the godless, or is it because hate-filled evangelicals love football?


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About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Bio:
Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.

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