The Bold Italic Criticizes SF's Homogenization, Doesn't Criticize Itself

It's already Wednesday and we're only now reading our first anti-gentrification rant of the week.  Real evidence the local media is slipping, honestly.  And while we're still not seeing much of a fresh take on things, today's soapbox is a startling one: The Bold Italic.  The Bold Italic.

I cry:

Take a walk down Valencia Street today and you’ll find yourself waiting in line at a Disneyland of pop-culture opulence. Oblivious of the stark irony, graphic designers and marketing managers frequent $50/seat old-time barbershops and shop at retail boutiques obsessed with the rugged appeal of working-class fashion. Simultaneously, the actual businesses and experiences the proprietors are emulating are unable to compete in the increased rental market. What we’re left with are stage props and costumes in an increasingly detached culture of disingenuous, blue-collar nostalgia. […]

Sadly, the very diversity that attracts people to this city is now being threatened by the people it attracts. What we are now witnessing is the rubber band of white flight snapping, bringing with it the strip-mall formula of familiarity that most people who now call this home fled from. It doesn’t matter if it's Whole Foods, Blue Bottle, or a flock of mobile food trucks, gentrification in 2013 seems to be characterized by a stark cultural homogeneity that is leaving one neighborhood indistinguishable from the next.

Oblivious of the stark irony, The Bold Italic published this without taking even the slightest bit of look inward.  No mention of their puff pieces on $50/seat old-time barbershops (published two days ago) or overpriced shaving kits.  No hint at self-awareness of their blind promotion of non-union union-chic boutiques obsessed with the rugged appeal of working-class fashion. Not even a self-deprecating quip about their faux-folksy reclaimed wood headquarters paid for by their deep-pocketed parent's (Gannett, owner of USA Today) generously provided trust-fund (yearly tax write-off).

Yes, The Bold Italic, homogeneity is absolutely ruining San Francisco.

(Also, can someone point me in the direction of our neighborhood Hot Topic? I need some new shirts.)

Comments (60)

I wrote the piece being mentioned. And while I agree 100% with your critique of the BI’s main focus and target demo, (My condemnation in their comments section was likely one of the reasons they gave me a podium in the first place) I do give them credit for opening the door to more substantive dialogue and am seeing an increase in articles of this nature. As for calling them out by name for promoting this brand of homogeneity in the very article I was hoping they’d published would not have aided my cause much.

Effing ess up from the inside. Nice.

the author is a “sales director at a local network hardware reseller” complaining about the tech wave. hilarious.

Cool story but I still hate you and that bullshit website.

1999 called. You are a bit late on the gentrification awareness.

Well played! However, I wasn’t trying to break any news or add unique insights to the conversation, just voice my feelings about what I see as unfettered growth in a city that has historically never been prepared for these waves of settlement.

I suppose San Franciscans weren’t prepared for Junipero Serra’s crew, they weren’t prepared for the gold rush, etc. And now we weren’t prepared for this influx of cookie-cutter formula hipness.

But what can you do to prepare? For that matter, can these types of events even be predicted in the first place?

“unfettered growth in a city that has historically never been prepared for these waves of settlement.”

Um ………. I have never seen a person demolish their own credibility so quickly and thoroughly. Do you, like, know anything about San Francisco and its, like, history?

That said, I liked your piece. And also fuck you Bold Italic. Along those same lines, I hate everything Four Barrel represents but damn that’s some nice coffee. Actually, comparing The Bold Italic to Four Barrel is like comparing coloring books to Anna Karenina, so never mind.

Did I mention fuck you Bold Italic yet? Okay good.

Just had to say the coloring book/Anna Karenina comment made me crack up on public transport. I salute you.

The Bold Italic is just jumping on the gentrification-scare bandwagon. This same story is being told over and over again and is guaranteed to generate page hits (or whatever the metric is now).

When I moved here 20 years ago, everyone walking down Mission Street was Latino. That was also true this morning. So if the “cultural homogeneity” of Valencia gives you the sads, just head one block east.

But yeah, things changing is always terrible, because of our apparent proprietary interest in the-thing-as-we-found-it.

BS, when I moved here 16 years ago and lived at 22nd and Capp, we drank at Dots Clock, Brunos and The Elysium on Mission street and everyone in there was just as white as I am.

I note that “in there” =/= “everyone walking down Mission Street.”

Docks Clocks? Pay attention white guy.

Doc’s Clocks? Pay attention white guy.

Singular, dude, singular.

I was moved here in 1972 when the Irish were still a big percentage of “the hood”.

Actually, if you’re going to correct, it’s Doc’s Clock.

Clearly I didn’t think before I posted, that was for dude about you Scum.

I am not anti-change, just like to apply thought, pragmatism, and process to it ;)

The thing is, we do more here than any place in the country. SF has rent control. Do you know how rare that is, nationwide? Very. California has Prop 13, which freezes property taxes for homeowners *and* (insanely) commercial real estate owners. These are serious anti-change forces. Moreover, we have a pretty activist (anti-change) Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission. So there has been a lot of thought and process that has gone into it.

It turns out, however, that market forces inevitably come into play, and some change happens. I’m not necessarily *pro*-change (I preferred Casanova as an empty bar with a few Vietnam vets sitting there), but jeez, it’s not a capitalist anything-goes out there. Just as an example, none of the stores in the picture are here, and none would be allowed to be - American Apparel tried to move in on Valencia but was forbidden by an anti-chain law.

“We’re San Francisco, the most progressive forward-thinking city in the nation! And to make sure it stays that way, nothing is allowed to change ever!”

It’s the fundamental paradox of this city. I still love it to death, but it’s a head scratcher.

It’s not change that’s the issue. I used to go to the movie, but now every theater has closed because I, like many stopped doing the whole “big Friday night out” at the cinema (well that and movies these days suck balls). It’s sad and I do lament those places and experiences but they can no longer support themselves with waning interest in their offering. I understand that. But we cannot let free-market capitalism dictate the economic, social and cultural make-up of this city. That’s MY main point and I don’t see it as a paradox.

That doesn’t even make sense.

Lucky for you, we don’t have free market capitalism here; we have heavily a regulated marketplace.

That’s fine, perhaps, but it doesn’t moot the law of supply and demand. So if you don’t like the free market, I hope you don’t like the high rents and skyrocketing real estate prices the current arrangement generates – because you can’t have it both ways.

Last year 7500 new residents moved to San Francisco, but the city created only around 200 new housing units. So, take your pick: Change, higher density housing, and (eventually) lower prices – or stasis, rising rents, and gentrification. None of those choices are easy, but nostalgic whinging is most definitely part of the problem and not part of the solution.

I’d be interested to see stats on how many of the 7500 new residents are under 25, single male or female, degree of college education, etc. vs how many of them get married and move to the suburbs to raise up little Keegan and Mandy. I remember an article in the last year about how SF has the lowest population of people under 10 in the country (or something. details fuzzy) because all these kids have kids and then leave town for kindergarten.

I’m sticking it out, whether or not we’re headed for a bust, mid boom, or under a pile of rubble.

And when it busts, I’m buying property.


I’m a white guy with (at least) a college degree and I bet most of you are just like me. One or two of you may be Asian or Indian, but you still have the degree and are likely at least second generation American. I’m both against large scale gentrification and I’m a part of it. The point I’d like to make is I believe gentrification and the reaction against are largely a white, middle-class+, educated issue. Those of us that fit the bill experience a heaping helping of white guilt, and are searching for meaning in our lives. And, I suspect more than a few of us have escaped a life growing up in the suburbs to find ourselves trying to eek out genuine, authentic lives in San Francisco, while still being comfortable. (“Rubber-band white flight” that the author mentions only takes a generation, and that’s e aptly what has happened.)

I hate the term “first world problem” because I believe it diminishes real issues that matter. Real communities are important. I just wanted to point out that I suspect few working or working poor blacks and Latinos are either interested in gentrification either way or have a voice in the debate.

Just for the record, American Apparel was forced out by public pressure, not a law. The only areas that legally forbid “formula retail” (as it’s called in the law) are North Beach, Chinatown, and Hayes Valley.

Good to know, thank you.

American Apparel was denied a Conditional Use permit on Valencia Street because the citywide rule requires that formula retail applications go through a conditional use process - which requires public notice, public hearing and review by the Planning Commission - and American Apparel failed to make the case that it should be granted a permit.

Ah, I see. They explain that process on the page I linked to too. I didn’t realize that’s what went down. Thanks!

The Inner Richmond also has a ban on chain restaurants, which is why Starbucks opened inside a car dealership.

GM, I agree we do a LOT here to support progressive causes, but as you stated the grotesque amount of money pouring in has handicapped those efforts at least at present. Without a doubt the tech jobs will disseminate throughout the US as public companies look to cut cost/show returns for shareholders, and SF will return to a some-what artist friendly, refuge from “real America.”

TIL that the Bold Italic is owned by Gannett. That explains a lot, thank you.

Interesting read.

“The revenue plan was mysterious because there was no revenue. Not for the first 24 months anyway.

The Bold Italic had a burn rate that rivals some of the most infamous fizz outs. They blew through $2 million a year for the first 2 years, before snagging a whopping $41k in revenue based on their skimming from entertainment ticket / event sales. “

Given that Gannett has merrily slashed away at its other operations the folk at the BI would be advised to start thinking quite hard about making some revenue.

The Bold Italic vs. UA in a no-holds barred/winner takes all/sudden death overtime/free-for all jello wrestling match to be sponsored by Sfist. Get your tickets at the offices of Haighteration……….but get ‘em fast, because they’re selling like Rice-a-Roni! FYI- the only thing homogenization is good for is milk. Oh wait. Now I get it……milk is generally white, milk is homogenized; ergo, San Francisco is turning into some white milky homogenized shit, that only those who aren’t lactose intolerant(not white, not rich) will be able to afford/live. Progressive, indeed. Godbless the USA

I wanna see a fight between Kevmo and NW Smith.

Nah… We all know Sierra is the real muscle here. I’d take 4-to-1 on which ever corner she’s in.

If you don’t like the bold italic or don’t think you are their demographic or don’t want to pay for overpriced barbering or shaving kits, then don’t visit the website, go to that barber, or pay for the overpriced shaving kit. You can choose to not do all of those things, just like you can choose to not support businesses that move into your neighborhood. And how is reclaimed wood art produced by a local business owner faux-folksy? Are people who live in the country the only ones allowed to use wood in their art? Is it not silly that you are complaining about a site and story that you can avoid entirely by choice. Does every cultural magazine have to only focus on the working class? Do you write letters to vogue complaining that the dress they feature is ridiculously overpriced? You probably don’t because you just don’t read Vogue, by choice. Whatever you think of gentrification, who cares what BI considers its demographic or which local business it profiles. It’s not called the Bold Proletariat, or the Bold Bootstrap. They aren’t misrepresenting themselves as anything other than a cultural magazine for San Francisco.

I’m not going to get into the difference between Vogue the TBI and how that makes your point completely moronic (tl;dr = one is the national fashion magazine, another is an SF culture magazine that claims to represent not just our neighborhood, but the interests of many SF residents) and instead focus on your remarks regarding reclaimed wood and their office’s designer, Kelly Malone.

Look, I have no beef with Kelly. She’s a wonderful person and works hard and by all accounts does great shit for both her clients and the larger Bay Area DIY community. My beef is that TBI publishes an editorial shitting on the faux-working man ethos that they endlessly promote without taking a second to look at themselves–their words, their choices, their very office’s decor. By all means talk about how gentrification and homogeneity is ruining the city if that’s what you want to do, but it’s totally and completely fucking ludicrous to do that when you push the very culture you hold responsible. Also, who the hell paid for all that interior decorating? Their hard work, or Gannett’s deep-pockets that allow them to live their faux-journalism dream life?

There’s nothing wrong with being rich or spending money if you’re not obnoxious about it. There’s nothing wrong with reclaimed wood or old-timey shaving kits if it’s your thing. But when people bite the hand that feeds in search of digital street cred, that’s when I take issue.

I’m not comparing the content of Vogue and TBI, which is obvious. I’m comparing usage, in that you can choose what you read, consume, purchase, etc. And to call the point moronic, is neatly superficial. I used Vogue because you mentioned overpriced shaving kits. I suppose had you written about food, I would have used a food magazine instead.

My point is that what media you consume is your choice. Where do you find this editorial that “shits” (I didn’t know editorials had rectums) on faux-working man ethos? Are you talking about today’s piece? If you are, isn’t that another one of the many varied voices that you defend the Bold Italic of claiming to represent? Yes it is. They have published pieces on differing views on many things from different perspectives. Would you now also be outraged if they published a piece on neighborhood barbers because they have already “pushed” fancy barbershops? That would be “fucking ludicrous” because it would violate the many interests and many voices ethos. They are allowed by that measure to write about tacolicious and tacqueria cancun. And where do they ever claim to be journalists on their site? They don’t. They aren’t doing journalism, and they don’t claim that. And how dreamy is their life? Do you have any perspective on what it’s like to work there? I’m actually asking because I know it’s not dreamy. Also, TBI isn’t claiming the perspective of the writer - the writer is claiming that perspective. WTF is digital street cred? Do they have hand signs to learn? Why are you so concerned with how they get funding? Does everything have to spring out of nothing? So they’re part of Gannett’s seed program, and they’ll succeed or expire.

Worst of all is that all these people commenting would probably all get along fine.

This whole argument is analogous to the “if you don’t like it here, why don’t you move?” argument. The Bold Italic is a prime example of the homogeneity that the writer is pointing out, and yet fails to bring up that fact in the article., ignoring the big, corporate elephant in the room.

It’s actually not analogous to that argument because choosing not to read a publication has no economic effect on your livelihood whereas where you live potentially does. But nice try.

Yeah who are they to think they can do journalism! Kevin you should let them know that REAL journalism is making fun of a photography exhibit you don’t like.

*** Myself and those who submit op-ed pieces for TBI do NOT work for the company. Perhaps I/we should have included the following verbiage in the beginning:

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of the Bold Italic, or Gannett, LLC. Conversely, the author does not endorse, support or work for the Bold Italic.

…Now that that’s clear. I do respect that they offered me a venue to voice my opinion to an audience that likely has no cultural reference point when evaluating San Francisco and it’s history. If UA has a podium for my xenophobic, isolationist, rants about the loss of SF culture…I’d gladly lend my hyperbolic voice ;)

Apparently the “if you don’t like it, just ignore it” principle doesn’t apply to you and your blog commenting.


I can’t believe they’re lumping See’s Candy in with H&M and Rite Aid. Don’t they know that See’s has a lot of San Francisco history? In the Mission even? They moved up her in the mid-30s (from LA).

Not to mention Gap, which was founded here. May as well include Levis and Ghiradelli.

Somewhere, Warren Buffet is snickering at you.

Funfact: Mr. See himself owns homes here in the city, and a bunch of multi-unit buildings in the Castro, and personally collects rent and fixes stoves and stuck doors when things go wrong. He also gives out candy for Christmas.

comments closed!

Word, The Brin. Sees candy is a gentrifier- WTF? I used to get Sees candy on Polk street in the 70’s. They’re as San Fran as cracked crab. It’s not a crime not to know local history, but it should be to shoot your mouth off without doing a little research.

“They’re as San Fran as cracked crab,” but for being owned by a Nebraska conglomerate for the past 40 years.

stop for a minute and just love one another, love our city, it’s neighborhoods, how it stays the same and how it changes. stop attacking one another. just be.