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Ed Driscoll

Willie Brown: San Francisco Must Be Destroyed

May 18th, 2014 - 12:07 pm

Frisco Delenda Est! shouts the city’s larger-than-life socialist former mayor, at least cinematically-speaking:

“This weekend moviegoing America will watch Godzilla stomp the daylights out of San Francisco,” Brown wrote. “I wish it would happen more often.”

Brown was not referring to the actual destruction of the city, as nearly happened in the devastating 1906 earthquake, but the virtual destruction of the city in Hollywood films and entertainment. He lamented the fact that few films are shot in California, let alone the Bay Area, owing to global competition in the film industry.

Particularly in the 1970s and ’80s, San Francisco used to be the second-most popular city for Hollywood to shoot in, as it was an easy hour long flight for the stars to travel from LAX to SFO, and the city maintained film crews for both out of town productions and its own once-burgeoning film industry, spearheaded by Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas. But as Joel Pollak notes at Breitbart California, while Brown attributed the move away from San Francisco to technology, the former mayor “did not explore other reasons for film’s departure, including high taxes and onerous union rules.”

But perhaps San Francisco should take a cue from New York during the Lindsay era of the late 1960s, relax its onerous regulations, and encourage more filmmaking in the city. As Miriam Greenberg wrote in her 2008 book Branding New York: How a City in Crisis Was Sold to the World, in order to combat the growing loss of film production to Hollywood, in 1966, then-Mayor John Lindsay overhauled the city’s film agency in 1966, and streamlined the permit process for major motion pictures to be shot in New York. This brought much-needed revenues into the city, but the arrival of all of those additional film shoots, thanks to the change in policy by the perilously liberal Mayor Lindsay, documented the effects of all of the other changes in policy the Lindsay era was ushering in. The inadvertent result was a series of films documenting the horrors of the last years of Lindsay’s administration and its successors, Abe Beame and Ed Koch: The Panic in Needle Park, the Taking of Pelham 1,2,3, Taxi Driver, and Death Wish among them.

Needless to say, these films were not exactly calling cards inviting the rest of America to visit a once-great city. But as with New York in the pre-Giuliani era, it certainly would be worth it for the rest of us if San Francisco created a series of inadvertent documentaries recording the impact of the city’s Jurassic leftism and incumbent issues such as soaring crime rates, graffiti, nudity and the city’s feral homeless population on its citizens.

Related: Only Alec Baldwin can save Hollywood now, or something.

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Top Rated Comments   
"Needless to say, these films were not exactly calling cards inviting the rest of America to visit a once-great city."

Heh. Makes me wonder how a remake of The Out of Towners set in SF might affect tourism.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hollywood unknowingly shone a light of the collapse of New York in the 1960s -- or, rather, they knew what they were doing, but thought city residents and others around the country would simply see it as a show of Fun City's vibrant edginess, which rich actors, directors and producers could watch from the comfort of their limos or their secure apartments along the edge of Central Park. They had been doing movies in the city for years showing its seedier side, but in those earlier films under the production code, that seediness was something to be reined in by the police before the final credits rolled.

The anarchy of New York 1966-93 was seen by filmmakers as something like riding the Cyclone at Coney Island -- scary, but never putting you in danger. The people not living on seven-figure incomes knew better, and voted against it twice -- Koch in 1977 (who did OK until he put his mayoralty on cruise control after losing the governor's race to Cuomo in '82) and Giuliani in '93, who finally fixed the problem much to the dismay of the pop culture left on both coasts.

(Hollywood's a little smarter now about knowing what's 'edgy' to them is life-threatening to others, and if Brown got his wish, probably wouldn't do to S.F. what they did to N.Y., because they're never really seen the city as all that edgy, but more as some sort of urban funland where crazed killers were more the exception than the rule -- and even then, could you picture Harry Callahan on the San Francisco police force in 2014?)
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (26)
All Comments   (26)
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Frisco Delanda Est! Golly... what an absolutely splendid idea! Could they do Los Angeles next?

Ben Hartley
(I write it, I sign it)
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
I remember when a lot of cop shows and cop movies used to shoot in San Fran, because you could get really cool car chases on some of their radical hills.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Isn't Godzilla stomping all over San Francisco sort of homophobic?
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Happiest moment of the weekend was when Godzilla and the MUTOs rampaged through Frisco. Other than DC or Los Angeles, I can't think of a more deserving city.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
We lived in San Francisco just before and during the Willie Brown years and used to love the Holiday season atmosphere and decorations in and around Union Street. When Willie and his democratic wrecking crew were installed, there was a sudden and palpable change. No more (or very minimal) public expenditures on holiday decorations for example. The city became disheveled and dingy looking around Union Square, City Hall and other public places and took on a 3rd world character with homeless, wind blown garbage and panhandlers seemingly everywhere. Also, City Hall became a place where you did not feel welcome at all - especially if you were a property owner and had to transact some business. My theory was that it is just a natural consequence of big government - and its voracious appetite for money combined with entitlement oriented stewards. Things that actually made the city work and a pleasure to live in or visit, become unimportant. Increasing the pay, perks and benefits of government leaders and workers while distributing favors to loyal constituencies and friends took over as primary objectives.

The Federal government has its own Willie Brown now although as far as I know, he and his closest 500 closest friends do not get their suits at Wilkes Bashford using taxpayer money.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Greetings:

Having grown up in the Bronx of the '50s and '60s and having watched it receive the Dresden-lite liberal policy treatment, i would add Fort Apache: The Bronx to your list of films.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
And Escape From New York, as a prediction of what NYC would have become if Giuliani had not temporily reversed the lelftist slide to oblivion. Of course now with deBlasio in charge, Escape From New York may yet become a reality.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
I used to work on Montgomery Street in San Francisco's Financial District during the late 70's when a lot of filming was going on.

The film people were a nuisance, blocking traffic on both the streets and the sidewalks.

There's a downside to locale shots to the locals.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just let state senator out. I'm sure he'd help. The people running SF don't want those Hollywood people. They've chased out the black population, the middle class. And there was a man named Lot...
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
San Fran - put a rubber on your Willie.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mister Wu was correct about San Francisco's denizens.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
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