This year's Bay to Breakers is over, and while it was a hella good time like years past, the campaign against the event noticably took its toll:
Perhaps it was the weather forecast, perhaps it was AEG (the race promoter) telling us there would be “zero tolerance” for party-positive San Franciscans to enjoy the event, perhaps it was SFPD promising to bust heads, but the number of spectators was visibly down. While some neighbors are certainly celebrating this as an achievement, it was just a predictable outcome based on years of negative press that is eroding away the character of the race.
It's funny, most of the San Francisco natives and Bay to Breakers haters I talk to admit to having never attended the race in any fashion. Never ran it. Never got drunk and walked it. Never watched it from afar. So why do they hate it? How can they hate it? Do they hate the idea of a footrace in which the majority of participants are in costume? No. Do they hate drinking? Certainly not. From what I gather, people hate this event because they are told to hate it. The media claims alcohol over-consumption is on the rise, but only offer up subjective analysis from 40-year-old NIMBY neighbors, never facts. The promoters (and neighbors) cry about the 30 tons of trash left behind the 2010 edition of the race, yet the promoters don't line the streets with trashcans—a practice found at almost every other large event in the City. We're told urination is a problem, bloggers find a few pics to illustrate the story, but once again, we're only given the perspective of a few neighbors, never facts (nevermind the fact the the media doesn't routinely feature pictures of the crackheads that pee of these very streets on a daily basis).
The press buys the lines given to them by AEG and a few neighbors without applying any sort of critical thinking to the issues. Just yesterday, The Bay Citizen ran a hit piece about the event:
Along the upward incline of Hayes, multiple street parties ruled. DJs presided from stoops and second-floor windows while alcohol flowed freely, without much police enforcement.
There was also a sense, expressed even among some of the most party-hearty residents, that this was a San Francisco event that — like so many of the city's other street fairs — may have grown too popular for its own good, losing its local credibility in the process.Matt [last name redacted], 17, and Sophia [last name redacted], 17, were among 12 seniors from Redwood High School in Larkspur who came into the city straight from their prom after-party Saturday night. They stopped to dance in front of a house party serving Jello shots on the 800 block of Hayes.
“This year is the best,” Matt said while he danced next to Sophia to Get Low, the 2003 hit by Lil Jon.Were they concerned about police enforcing the alcohol ban?
“This year is the best because they have all these laws but everyone's been breaking the laws,” Matt said, before asking a reporter for Jello shots. (He had none.)Nearby, Kayta George, a 51-year old native of the Fillmore district, stood on a stoop to sneer at the mass of sweaty, scantily-clad, barely post-adolescent bodies writhing below.
“This is the bridge-and-tunnel, under-18 crowd,” said George. “These are just teens in costumes. Where did all the San Franciscans go?”
Really? Excusing the fact The Bay Citizen printed the full name of minors who are obviously breaking the law, they're using a single pair of idiots to paint the entire event as an out-of-control drunkfest fit for children. Where did all the San Franciscans go? The answer is obvious, they stayed home because of bullshit reporting making the event sound like unadulterated mayhem. Not once did they quote people living along the route who look forward to the event every year (PROTIP: ask someone under the age of 35 in the newsroom for the name of a B2B neighbor who loves the event, odds are if they have more than 5 friends, they probably know one), never do they bother to get the perspective of older neighbors who love the event, never once do they bother to put the NIMBY bullshit in check.
We learned from the campaign for Sit-Lie that the unchecked rhetoric published by the press ended up harming Haight Street businesses. Similarly, if the press keeps publishing bullshit about how a few minors and Marin residents crash the party and puke everywhere without explaining that they are in the very small minority of participants, why would people expect real racers and anyone but frat boys to show up? The media is cooking up a controversy where there is none and giving a microphone to the poor souls who own property across from Alamo Square about the inconvenience of having to hose off their stoop once a year—a small price to pay for, arguably, living in one of the greatest cities in the world. The upside is that reactionary columnists have something to fight for, the downside is that San Francisco is being stripped of one of its finest mornings.
The truth of the matter is that Bay to Breakers is one of the events that define San Francisco as the fun and creative city that it is. Take away Bay to Breakers, BYO Big Wheel, Hunky Jesus, SantaCon, the street faires, and all other events of the like and this city instantly becomes a whole lot more boring. Where did all the San Franciscans go? We were up at 6:30am taking the 22 to Hayes St., drank a 12 pack of the cheapest generic beer on the shelf, waited in line for the portapotties with all the other San Franciscans, made a point of finding one of the six trashcans along the route to dispose of our trash, walked back to our house from Golden Gate Park, ate a few tacos, and fell asleep on our couch while watching Netflix. C.W. Nevius calls it chaos and mayhem, I call it just another day in San Francisco.