Lawrence Ferlinghetti has added his voice to the fight to keep one of our city’s most loved bars open. Yesterday he released the following prose statement into the ether;
Western culture, high and low, the gold dust of the ages, is
disappearing down the drain of the electronic revolution. Save the
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, March 27th 2012
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet, activist, essayist, painter, wants to save the Gold Dust
On April 4th we will once again be back at City Hall for a closed hearing. The Historic Preservation Commission will vote on whether they will grant the Gold Dust Lounge landmark status. A week ago a planning report was sent to the Historic Preservation Commission for review.
It contained the documentation from both the Gold Dust Lounge volunteers and Handlery’s highly paid lawyers. The report was seen as a rebuttal to our claim that the Dust is a landmark and many argued that landmark status wasn’t the right course of action for a “landlord/ tenant dispute.”
Yet, today we hear from Lawrence Ferlinghetti, San Francisco Poet Laureate, who fought a very similar battle to save another of our city’s treasures, City Lights Bookstore. Back in the days of the dot com boom, the City Lights bookstore was being threatened with eviction. In a press release in 2001, months before they won the landmark status for City Lights for their business because of it’s cultural value (not just the property) Lawrence wrote;
When I was named the first Poet Laureate of this left coast City in 1998, I expressed my astonishment and outrage at how San Francisco was fast becoming a playground for the rich and the witless — a Disneyfied mall for SUV drivers and “sell” phone addicts…
A developer from Michigan, Scott Seligman, who runs Sterling Bank and Seligman Western Enterprises, wants to gentrify the Mid-Market zone. Not to make the City a better place but to make his bank account a little fatter. He wants a better class of tenant. No more photographers or poets or translators or editors or painters. NO more small businesses serving the City. No more small nonprofits, like Streetside Stories, which publishes work by 650 middle school kids every year to foster a love of reading and writing…
It’s long past time for San Francisco — the people who live here and care about the place, the politicians, the small businesses, the kids who will inherit either a theme park or an exciting, urbane City — to stand up and stop the development juggernaut. Only developers who build for the City — and not against its people and values — should ever get a permit to do as much as change a screen door.
Does this plea not sound familiar? 10 years later and the fight is still being fought. The Handlery Hotels and Express want to ruin our City by gutting it of it’s character to replace it with bland, commerical retail. San Francisco historian, Christopher Verplanck, is a volunteer for the Save the Gold Dust campaign. In response to Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s prose statement has said;
Lawrence Ferlinghetti knows of what he speaks, having gone through a potential eviction during the first Dotcom occupation over a decade ago. To think that we almost lost City Lights until the City’s Landmarks Board stepped in and designated it a local landmark. Similar to City Lights, the Gold Dust Lounge is a cultural landmark in San Francisco and we fail to see why it is no less deserving of city landmark status.
So, listen up San Francisco. Read these words and understand their meaning. There will forever be the battles between good and evil, between right and wrong, the rich and the poor, and right now we are in danger of losing a valuable piece of our city. Email the Historic Preservation commissioners, tell them how you feel. The meeting on April the 4th is a non-public, closed-door affair and they need to make the right decision for the city.