Tag Archives: gentrification

Oscar from downtown

This morning I ran into Oscar. He looked about 65. Asked me how far I’d gone on my bike and I said only about 13 miles, just down to a plant spot and back. He said he once rode his bike to Reno, a two and a quarter day ride, and arrived in time to turn 21. He said he got super drunk in Reno.
I asked him if he could ride on 80 back then and his response wasn’t clear as he was changing the subject but I think he said yes. He said he’d been in the army as a youth, stationed in Germany, as a mechanic. He put seven years in at Sunsweet Prunes running the pitter machines, and they didn’t want to see him go when he left because he knew how everything ran. He was unclear whether this was before or after the army.
He said he’d gone to catechism right here downtown. Then he said that he’d been caring for his parents here downtown until they died, one at 83 and the other at 85.
When they died about a year ago (2019), he said that the city took the house and he didn’t know why. But they lived right on 87 and the city had taken all the rest down so they wanted his parents’. He didn’t get it because they owned the home outright. I speculate there could be a few reasons for this that Oscar didn’t know. He said that now he sleeps in the park.
He asked me for some help because he’d been drinking nothing but water all day. I told him good, he should drink water, and then gave him 3 bucks plus half the nectarines I’d just plundered down the street. Our neighborhood produces apricots, peaches, plums, pomegranates and avocados that put everything you ever bought in the store or from a CSA box to shame, in the purely super-organic nature of neglect and good weather.
Oscar said he’d pay me back and I said just tell me more stories next time. He had presumably everything he has on a walker, and walked slowly with a hunch to his neck. His clothes and stuff were in order and only the top of his hair was thinning, handsome, probably Italian, beard and mustache getting long.

UPDATE 9.11.20

Ran into Oscar again tonight at the park, about 50 degrees F and getting down to 38 tonight. Didn’t recognize him at first all bundled up, and I guess I forgot his voice already.

He was a little less coherent than I remember from last time, more repetition, but that could just be the pace of his day. He was on the bench and started the conversation asking me to pick up a trashed Modelo so it wouldn’t get smashed and hurt kids in the playset, because he could barely bend down with his walker and all. Said the VA set him up to the walker.

Before I realized who he was, Oscar told me that he was staying the park, didn’t want to go to the VA to sleep because he didn’t want to get in fights, and there were prejudiced people there. Didn’t want to walk down to the fairgrounds for the quarantine housing, doesn’t like the bus because you have to fight for a place to sit. So he was bundled up to stay on the bench.

He repeatedly kept the talk going by saying that he was drafted in ’72, was born here on Prevost, went to Gardner, went to Woodrow (Wilson), then to Lincoln High, graduated in 1969 and drafted in ’72. He said he was in the army in Berlin until 1979 and divorced his wife meanwhile for cheating on him, so he has two daughters right down off Lincoln whom he has little seen, and said he lost the address since I’d begun by asking if he couldn’t go stay with one of them to warm up. He said one is thirty and one is twenty-six. The whole timeline is fuzzy due to his use of the present tense a lots of junctions in the story, so I’m not going to argue.

Just before I found out that we’d already met, I asked about his loss of his dad’s house after he died, thinking that he was someone else and trying to test if there were some pattern in San José for people losing their parents’ houses at death. This time Oscar said that his dad had sold the place to the city for the land before he died. Oscar had used his army money to help his dad buy the place whenever that was, and had the house landscaped, et cetera.

Then came the theme of bad legs. Oscar has tendonitis, “and you know that travels,” and says they’ve wanted to cut his legs since he was in his twenties. He said before that that his dad had been a carpenter and had injured his legs to the point where doctors had wanted to amputate his legs for gangrene. Oscar said that his dad had survived the gangrene, or else was out of sequence with my question, and at 85 he had “had enough” and Oscar took took him to the doctor essentially to have him put down. Again, I’m just writing what he said.

I told him how I’d been involved with German beer and he asked if I still drink. I know he was trying to be polite to ask for a hand with some beer. I gave my usual lament that my system can’t handle anything anymore from total stress and lack of exercise, so it has to be “expensive” (ie., Sierra or German) or else I don’t enjoy the trip that much. He said he was drinking (lately? earlier?) 8.1, I have no idea what that is but it doesn’t sound goo. Later on he asked for beer money, but I didn’t have my wallet so I didn’t give him any. He had a few cans in a bag to recycle, and a dead lotto ticket. I’m glad he has VA benefits but sure wish he’d use them.

Next Recession Will Destroy Millennials

It seems that these exceedingly annoying liberal mass-culture masturbation sessions are getting more numerous by the year. As if Burning Man and Pride weren’t enough time wasted on classist shenanigans, now we got these Climate Strikes and Science Marches.

Whose heart changes, what strategy improves, what ideologies bridged? None!
Who benefits? The drinks-to-go QSR lifestyle industry! It’s no wonder then that…

This comic is a response by way of extension to a very important story covered in a very sloppy piece of marketing –ah I mean article –published by a writer on the Atlantic who either stakes her reputation on clickbait or has an evil editor.

My Missed Connections Ad

9:27 AM Thursday, shitty new glass towers fronding,
I, bumping Malo and dodging heavy trucks,
You, in the silver-gray late 4-door Honda,
On 280 coming out of the East Side
Trying to change lanes while repacking a GLASS BONG,
Its piece lazy aerosolgreasing
Maybe above-grade like the road,
Maybe not.
But for real dude,
ANYTHING but the fucking vape pen
We’ll take it.


My new “gentri-fi” novel Byebye and Shlort is here! It’s got what you need: comedy, tragedy, language traps, language weapons, mayhem, friendship, frenemies, migration, deportation, drugs, yuppies, nonprofits, landlords, gentrification, displacement, homelessness, death from exposure, everyone’s excuse for how we can’t live any other way, and of course beer and weed!

It’s my love letter to San José, in hope that the people through education and cooperation can get the city we deserve, as the guy says. Hope I can go on living in San José for a few more years! Of course you can all make me rich by purchasing the book and send me off to Aptos…

Check “where to buy” to both buy a copy and use your library system! The list will be growing as Éxitos Gnosis and I build the circle of friends and co-conspirators.

I’m especially excited that the book will be at Bluestockings in Manhattan! You can call Hennepin County and Denver libraries and tell them to take that offer that they got this past week!

Anyone who reads the book can keep the world turning by rating it on Goodreads as well. ¡Viva la anarquía!





Fare Thee Well Caffe Pergolesi

Here’s what I’m bringing to Perg’s tonight, as it’s supposed to close this weekend.


Not that I ever really liked Santa Cruz that much. And I don’t know much about Caffe Pergolesi besides what’s available in the paper and the fact that it’s in a historic house owned by one Dr Miller. But of course I was in the scene for ever, a scene that didn’t so much as end as never really begin and then slowly fade with the comings and goings of those involved. And more importantly, I along with a lot of people are devastated that Logo’s and now Perg’s are closing at the same time. They’ve been stable while so many other promising spaces have come and gone.

The message from landlords, the Canfields, and the owner class in general is clear: come to Santa Cruz, consume, throw trash, give money to private property, and leave; this is no longer a place to start communities. A place to raise kids, but no place to be a kid, or have the values of free expression, inquiry and fun associated with kids.

The do-gooder rich can have their museums of culture: organic food, special-decial schools for their kids, et cetera. Ironically, it was the openness, free inquiry and will to be wacky that produced such as the organic movement, the Santa Cruz skate thing, and many other parts of Santa Cruz now condemned to be “artifacts” or worse “properties.” I knew about 2001 that it was going this way, but hoped never to see the logical conclusion.

Perg’s was the rarest thing in public-space-hating Santa Cruz: a private space that still believed more or less in free-for-alls, a place for kids to post up their art, a place to hear real music made by real people. I never tried their coffee once, since I was usually there at beer time. And only rarely had I the money to hang out there regularly, but I’ll never forget the shows, and the good times.

Is there a hopeful future? How do we get past the issue of merciless foreign rents and pig NIMBY ordinances? Someone can comment below to give this post some sunshine.

San Jose artists: Raúl Perález wants to hear about housing

Sounds like rumbles are afoot for building ghettos for artists and their gentrifier friends in San Jose. That way they can light one fire and wipe us all out, and either way the landlords and developers win.

Take this survey for Raúl, the only city council member who cares about the people! Make your context understood!


Ebook of my new novel is FREE until Thursday!

My Gentri-Fi novel Meat Ladder to Mars is free until Thursday! If you hate it, or if you love it, drop a review on Amazon if you please. Enjoy, jolines!


Blue Doughnuts for SJ Homeless

Liccardo avoids the epidemic of homelessness in San Jose while having the 87 overpass on Santa Clara street done up like a video game, design by Seattle artist Dan Corson. Now drunk Sharks fans crossing from the SAP center to downtown won’t trip over themselves, and homeless senior citizens on the Guadalupe path will be able to read at night.