There was an interesting postscript to the Eich saga in the bizarre protest held against Internet entreprenuer Kevin Rose. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that protesters stood with signs and flyers outside of the Google Ventures partner and entrepreneur’s home in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood Sunday, calling him a 'parasite' and a 'leech.' Techcrunch has a copy of the flyer:
'As a partner venture capitalist at Google Ventures, Kevin directs the flow of capital from Google into the tech startup bubble that is destroying San Francisco. The start-ups that he funds bring the swarms of young entrepreneurs that have ravaged the landscapes of San Francisco and Oakland.'
The flyer claims to speak for the service workers who “serve them coffee, deliver them food, suck their c***s [?], watch their kids, and mop their floors” and goes on to complain that most techies are “just like Kevin Rose,” though again, it’s short on specific criticisms, aside from pointing out that techies make a lot of money.
A supposed manifesto from an organization called "The Counterforce" makes demands believed to be related to the protest.
To this end, we now make our first clear demand of Google. We demand that Google give three billion dollars to an anarchist organization of our choosing. This money will then be used to create autonomous, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist communities throughout the Bay Area and Northern California. In these communities, whether in San Francisco or in the woods, no one will ever have to pay rent and housing will be free. With this three billion from Google, we will solve the housing crisis in the Bay Area and prove to the world that an anarchist world is not only possible but in fact irrepressible. If given the chance, most humans will pursue a course towards increased freedom and greater liberty. As it stands, only people like Kevin Rose are given the opportunity to reshape their world, and look at what they do with those opportunities.
There is no direct relationship between the Eich and Rose incidents, besides the sheer outré character of the events, but one can't help get the feeling that they emanate from the same strange universe, whatever universe that might be. But it's all shadows with nothing besides fantastic flashbacks of "Scorpio" from Dirty Harry and the People's Temple crowds bellowing for an airlift to Russia to lend it shape.
Business Insider suggests the protests were something more prosaic. It's social unrest. It's poor people fighting for their share of the hipster pie outraged at the high rents in the Bay Area and the outrageous pricing of goodies beyond their reach. It's the rebellion of "social equals" who find they are financial inferiors. It's the outcry of people who thought they were part of a great movement who discover they are, after all, only menials. That makes it all the more pathetic. Business Insider says:
Google and Yahoo have been the targets of two days of unrest from activists in the San Francisco and Oakland areas protesting the gentrification of the neighborhoods by wealthy tech workers.
Both Google and Yahoo offer private shuttle buses to get their staff from the San Francisco area to Silicon Valley, where their corporate campuses are. Yesterday, one protester vomited on a Yahoo bus.
Today, Twitter accounts using the names Occupy Oakland and Defend The Bay Area claim they stopped a Google bus in the street and attached a sticker to it, with the words “Die Techie Scum” on it. The protesters tell Business Insider that the sign didn’t stay attached, and the bus was later allowed on its way.
It makes sense that the protest sign didn't stay attached, almost as if to emphasize the incompetence of the protesters, who if they had the skills to stick stuff on right would be working for the post office instead of being lousy activists for Occupy Oakland and Defend the Bay Area.
One can't help but feel sorry for the crowd that “serve them coffee, deliver them food, suck their c***s [?], watch their kids, and mop their floors”. Sorry for the awakening; sorry because they were sold a a sack of s***, and like a person who borrows 200 grand to acquire a degree in feminist studies find that it isn't worth a damn.
But maybe it's a good thing too. The first step back from that hazy world. And about time. Too many people have been spending the last decades of their lives doing basically nothing thinking it was something. And maybe they just figured it out.
Right before the Eich story broke a minor brouhaha crossed the pages involving an activist called Suey Park and The Colbert Report. Suey Park is, would you believe, someone who The Guardian has ordained one of the "the top 30 young people in digital media", featuring her as number twelve on the list. And she did something recently, though it's hard to say exactly what. Salon devoted a considerable amount of space to the vague events without ever once succeeding in pinning it down. Here's what they wrote:
On Thursday night, a writer, comedian and activist named Suey Park saw an opportunity when “The Colbert Report” tweeted: “I am willing to show the Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong, Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” It was a joke pulled out of context from a segment mocking Dan Snyder’s Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. The 23-year-old jumped on it immediately, calling to #CancelColbert over the racial slur. Then, Twitter’s “peculiar distortion effect,” as Jay Caspian Kang described it in the New Yorker, took hold. Those outraged by Park’s call to cancel a show over an out-of-context joke amplified the hashtag and made it go viral.
But Park told Kang that she never wanted the show canceled, and that, in fact, she is a fan. “Instead,” writes Kang, “she saw the hashtag as a way to critique white liberals who use forms of racial humor to mock more blatant forms of racism.”
Shorn of the breathless hype it turns out this was about someone tweeting about a show; and what some thought was a criticism was really only a way to "critique white liberals who use forms of racial humor to mock more blatant forms of racism". In other words it turns out to be nothing consequential at all; just an exchange of pixels between a media personality and an activist, whatever that occupation is, though it's apparently right up there with the career that made Barack Obama when he was rising to the top.
Oddly enough people reach the pinnacle of society these days being activists, polemicists, digital figures, gurus, tech evangelists, civil rights leaders, First Ladies and talk show hosts. So you have to sympathize with the Occupy People who think that, having tried to do all that, they ought to be somebodies.
Welcome to the world of forced perspective; where Eich can get pilloried for voting the wrong way on Proposition 8 and Kevin Rose can get picketed for being able to buy stuff from the people who are picketing him. It lifts the lid on a strange world. A place where Vladimir Putin, al-Qaeda, and or asteroids from space don't exist except as things that George Bush should have taken care of; it gives a glimpse into a universe where gas drilling is just a bad word and the armed forces a job where crazy people earn a living whenever they're not driving pickup trucks; it provides a peek into a tableau where people actually think food comes from the store and gas comes from the gas pump and money to house everyone in the woods will come from Google's $3 billion in spare change.
Brother can you spare a tera-dime?
And yet for some reason the glimpse is not reassuring. One could just turn the page and dismiss these as scenes from a freak show, except in the characters in this exhibition are on the stage of an industry with the power of life or death over our privacy; except for the vague fear that this is how America wandered into the Obama era in the first place.
One is reminded of Edgar Allan Poe's story of the Hop-Frog where the court jester persuades the King and his court to play a monstrous joke on the crowd and caper among them costumed as orang-utans. And then the jester sets fire to their flammable costumes in revenge for all his pent-up slights. There were tears behind the make-up; ignorance beneath the cool; and not a little madness under the tight-lipped smile.
The relationship between the pied pipers and their following is an interesting one. The players may promise to whisk the crowd on an adventure; but in the end all they can count on is to go along for the ride.
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