of Tides

April 16, 2016

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There are three industries that immediately come to mind when I consider how technology has radically changed the face of doing business. They are not premier examples but simply ones that I’ve had the chance to be witness to. All three relate to transportation or logistics.

IMG_2852The first is the taxi industry, in the wake of Uber.
In SF, the licenses that allow an individual to own and operate a single taxi were called medallions. Until recently, a driver could put their name on a list and, after an average of twenty years, their name would come up and the City would hand them a medallion that they could choose to either operate independently or, more commonly, lease to one of the major cab companies.

This system was pretty cool because it amounted to essentially a decent pension for a driver who had worked their ass off in an otherwise unforgiving, dangerous, and thankless job for twenty years.

At some point, that changed.
If I understand correctly, the City got greedy and decided to start auctioning off the medallions and that allowed the large cab companies to eliminate any average Joe who could never hope to compete in a bidding war.

In an example of almost perfect cosmic timing, Uber was conceived around the same time and fundamentally changed the game. Suddenly, those large cab companies were scrambling to compete themselves in a market they were wholly unprepared for.
The Uber model addressed every aspect of what the public detested about hailing a taxi and the taxi industry had absolutely no response to the coup.
…And Devil take the hindmost.

Another example, and perhaps sadly, are the Mom and Pop travel agencies.
A good Friend of mine’s parents, in the 90’s, had scrimped and saved their whole 9-to-5 careers to open a small travel agency to operate in their golden years, only to see it fail almost immediately with the advent of Priceline, Expedia, and booking directly online with the airlines.
Poor fuckers.

Lastly, is the eradication of plague and scourge upon the City that was bicycle and motorcycle messaging.
Bye, Felicia.
Not completely, of course. You can still spot an occasional throwback adeptly navigating bike lanes downtown, Architectural blueprint tubes sprouting from tattered and threadbare sling bags, sorrowfully harking back to a time when their brethren ruled the streets with iron fisted, and fingered, tyranny.

In their heyday, I lived above Zeitgeist, the undisputed bastion and sanctuary for any newly arrived patchouli reeking dope fiend,  Northwest gutter punk, or Mid-West rebelling college dropouts to drink cheap beer, score dope, and commiserate loudly and ad nauseam  about the deplorable condition of the motoring public, with other like minded over-achievers.


Duboce and Valencia. Den of iniquity

This is the very demographic that represented gentrification during and after the Dot.com bust and why I yawn and roll my eyes when it’s own remnants are heard these days bloviating about how todays tech workers are ruining the mission and City in general with their healthy lifestyles, perfect hygiene, large incomes and relative tax liabilities. How Google and Apple shuttles have made their daily excursions to the methadone clinic pure tedium, with the masses of chambray clad, white earbud adorned, sidewalk cast, scooter wielders.

Admittedly, I am biased and have an axe to grind.
I hate the bicycling class.
I hate their disregard for the axiom that one must at least acknowledge what is bigger, the careening tons of metal that dominate our roads. That they seem to think themselves entitled to some reverence or particular consideration for their pursuit of carbon hippie-toes.
My own willingness extends to not throwing it into reverse, reveling in the satisfying  “thump thump”, as I imagine the spandex form beneath me exploding from its seams, the losing contender in the battle for blacktop hierarchy.

IMG_0336This visceral angst was left unsatisfied and festering with bike messengers going all but extinct…until this new breed of motorcyclist, the roaming gangs of sport bike acrobats and petulant enthusiasts began to make themselves known, and despised…

But that’ll do for tomorrow.



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