Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Google Bus Song : Another Perspective On The Class war

The Google bus song was written right here in Oakland, California. Inspired by the news headlines that revealed the class war in San Francisco, early this year. If you don't know, The Google bus is a private shuttle for silicon valley employees, including Apple, Yahoo and the notorious Google company. The argument started when the public started noticing the Google bus picking up their employees at public bus stops in San Francisco. It immediately drew a line between "the haves" and " the have nots." And people started speaking out. It kinda reminds me of the Dr. Suess story, "The Star- Bellied - Sneetches." Remember that one?

The song writers, aka CACHEBOX wrapped the issue in hip hop satire and put out a youtube video on Baylando records. I know them both. Kuda from Harlem, New York and Kool Kyle from here in the bay area. The song is genius all by itself. Especially because it was released during the Google bus protests that were happening in the streets of San Francisco. What I like about the song is that it opens up a dialogue between the two sides. The "common public" and the "employees of Google." The poor versus the rich. The song lyrics really point out the difference between the two. 
Here is an excerpt from the SFgate blog:
“The Google Bus Song” includes lyrics like “Got on that Google bus, avoid the traffic rush/High-speed Wi-Fi, lots of legroom, and the seats are plush” and “Haters need to go home and practice code.”
The facts are real and the publicity this video has received includes the PBS NewsHour, NBC, ABC, SFWEEKLY and a few more.

And while all of this was going on...
My friend Kuda was trying to find a place to live. Not just him. His wife and two year old daughter, too. (Oh My GOD, his daughter is soooo cute!) It was a bizarre mix of feelings trying to be happy for the success of the video while at the same time trying to help keep him and his family from being homeless. We discovered how incredibly difficult it is trying to find affordable housing for a family in the bay area.  I was under the impression that it "takes a village." But what I found out was that nobody really gives a shit;  sans a hand full of people. Everyone else is dealing with the same struggle and class war. The landlord dice roll is vicious at the level of "affordable" housing. And within a month of the song's release and success, Kuda was priced out of the bay area. I watched him and his family leave a couple days ago. Meanwhile I am getting emails from friends telling me they saw the video on this news station, or that one. All excited that they know him. But unable to really help him out ya know. Strange. One friend A J Curtis, a DJ on U.C. Berkeley's radio station KALX, (former KUSF DJ before they were bought out) was interested in the story and brought us both onto his show. And we had a very interesting talk about the whole class war going on in the bay area. He may be looking for housing, too. So yeah, it's real. This gentrification process is being flamed by the success of silicon valley employees. They make good money, which jacks up the price of rent and then poor folks are forced out into the street. And it seems that the tech craze has got everyone preoccupied. You know, eyes glued to phone screen. Like ALL the time. We are losing our peripheral vision here.  And subsequently, we are going to lose more artists. Because artists have always lived at the "affordable" housing level. Unless they are super stars. There is no middle class anymore.

So keep in mind the attitude we are developing as people of the bay area.

It may be different than what you think it is...

your friendly cyberhood

Uncle Samurai

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Post Gentrification Turrets