(Per a suggestion from Burrito Justice. I promise I won't write all my future posts based on suggestions from Twitter.)
A Tale of Two Cities
New Statesman; 2014
In "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman," Laurence Sterne wrote, "Human nature is the same in all professions." That has nothing to do with this review but it sounds both academic and pretentious, so it's perfect.
Laurie Penny’s article “A tale of two cities: how San Francisco’s tech boom is widening the gap between rich and poor” is like a Transformers movie performed onstage by the Royal Shakespeare players: the material is well-traveled, but the approach only pretends to seem fresh.
Penny kicks off with a fresh take on an old classic, “Homeless People in Front of Twitter Headquarters on Market.” It’s a comforting welcome that beckons like an old easy chair, made even more reassuring by the follow-up, “Artisanal Coffee That Costs $20.” Why bother with fact-checking when the beat is this good? In fact, fuck it, let’s use “artisanal” twice on the same page!
Penny has a knack for knowing what her audience wants, and what we want is “A Visit to the Tech Incubator.” What could come across as derivative and tired in fact comes across as derivative and tired. By now, we’ve heard this song so many time that mentioning vegans with multicolored hair just lends an air of ennui to the proceedings. By the time we get to Google buses, the article is crawling through the emergency room with a disconnected IV and a crazed look of desperation.
We're offered no respite, thought, and as we arrive at “inventor and founder of the Noisebridge hackerspace in the Mission,” we’re as thirsty for a beat as the desiccated desert crawler in the classic New Yorker cartoons. Sadly, though, all Penny can offer is yet more multicolored hair and kids frantically typing on sticker-covered laptops. If you’re looking for a pot of gold at the end of the brown rainbow, you’ll find no succor here; rather, we’re informed, America itself is the problem. Physician, heal thyself.