Greg Gopman and Peter Shih: The Diet Koch Brothers Who Have Their Heads up Their Apps
Another example of yet another tech boy executive who doesn’t know his app from a hole in the ground: Greg Gopman. A tech boy that can be diagnosed with having "backside verbosity" (IE: a tendency to talk out of one's ass). Another uninvited pest from out of town—apparently from the “Ain’t No Sunshine/Stand your ground” state of Florida—spewing a rant-filled tirade about the city of my birth; the city that is home to the I-Hotel and the city that is home to a deep and long labor history that was not without violence and sacrifice and people working together to better the lives of every day people. The city I refer to is San Francisco, of which I am a fourth generation resident. It is a city that is fighting for its soul from the onslaught of the soul less who see nothing more than apps, applications, dollar signs and their own visions of themselves. Many of these folks who are blighting our city happen to be tech washed. But in the overall picture, it extends beyond the boundaries of tech and its multifarious churches.
In August it was Peter Shih who first put his digital footprint in his mouth by ranting about how ugly and inconvenient San Francisco is. He decried “those homeless” (an easy target for those with privilege who are oblivious that they even have it), the city's nightlife, certain elements of the community--in short, he portrayed the city as barely short of a cesspool. Shih later apologized for his remarks and has seemingly dropped into the digital rabbit hole/abyss. I wrote him an open letter challenging him to be a part of the city’s Asian American community, which he is, by default, a part of. I challenged him to be cognizant of the eviction of elders such as the Lee family and to do something with his money and privilege to serve someone other than that guy he sees in the mirror each morning (or whatever it is he happens to see). 114 days have elapsed since I wrote that letter to Shih. His response, nothing—not a tweet, post, email—nothing. Well, Shih happens, and so does the occasional miracle. I might hear from him, but I won't be losing sleep over it. (To read "An Open Letter to Peter Shih", open the link: http://poormagazine.org/node/4892)
Enter Greg Gopman. Gopman is apparently the founder of something called Angel Hack. He apparently thinks that the homeless should be put in labor camps and that the poor and those who survive through underground economic strategies should be relegated to places out of the way—sight unseen. I read these statements and thought about Peter Shih, and how these two clowns must be joined at the lip; another digital footprint in the mouth. When I first heard the name Greg Gopman, I asked myself, Greg who? Then I asked a few other questions such as, who gave him a speaking part? Who invited him to my city? What qualifies him to say anything about my city at all? Oh, I get it—having money entitles him a big corn dog sized microphone.
I looked at this tech boy’s face and wondered if he ever really worked in his life. He has pampered written all over his face. He says he been all over the world, to third world countries even (clap clap clap). I hope he wasn't as big an assh**e overseas as he is here in the bay area. At any rate, he’s a well -traveled fool who has showed that he knows how to talk out of his ass--if not his app.
If Mr. Gopman is so concerned with the cleanliness of San Francisco, I have an idea—have him and a few of his buddies grab a broom and start sweeping. Sweeping is good for the arms and mind—both of which, in Mr. Gopman’s case, have gone lax.
I'll tell you about real work. Real work was the I-Hotel--the symbol of the struggle for affordable housing in San Francisco. When the I-Hotel was slated for demolition in the late 60's, community mobilized to fight the eviction of its mostly senior residents. The demolition would cap off the slow demolition of the San Francisco's Manilatown neighborhood, a Filipino neighborhood with a long labor history. As the financial district expanded, it saw no use to have "those" people close by. So their expansion meant the destruction of a neighborhood.
The International hotel was the site for massive direct action on behalf of the tenants, that brought together students, labor, artists, the church, community organizations and even local politicians. When the hotel was torn down after an eviction that saw more than 3000 people surround the building in defense of its tenants, the community did not give up the fight. My uncle, the poet Al Robles was one of those that fought. It took 30 years of meetings and coalition building and not giving up to finally rebuild the I-Hotel, which stands at the corner of Jackson and Kearny Street--103 Units of affordable senior housing. That was real work--done without apps, email and/or laptops.
The Gopman’s and Shih’s of the world aren’t concerned with humanity, or improving anybody’s lives except for those in their immediate circle. They want a nice clean place alright, one in which nobody disturbs or inconveniences them with any kind of real concerns or problems--except for those that can be solved at a distance with an app. Absent from their list of complaints are the multimillion dollar tax breaks that their industry receives in San Francisco, or how their business fuels evictions of seniors and families at unprecedented numbers.
Greg and Peter, you sound like the Koch brothers but, since you aren’t quite as wealthy, I’ll refer to you as the diet Koch Brothers. We are in San Francisco—people of color, the poor, the elders--here before you digital Barnum and Bailies ever saw the light of day. Perhaps if you pulled your heads out of your apps, you might have known that. Which begs another question, Who invited you here anyway?