2016 tricked me into thinking it was going to be a good, productive year. I mainly expected two things: I was going to find permanent housing; our country would have a free and fair election. Welp.

Last year I was so optimistic; for my 2015 Year in Review, I wrote about finding my voice, since I had, after all, started writing for the public for the first time in over a decade.

I started 2016 with a bang, taking one of those “deep dives” I never thought I could endeavor to immerse myself in, this one into the landscape surrounding…


For California state ballot measures, see this page.
For greater detail on these propositions, see the guides from the
League of Pissed off Voters, Sasha Magee’s CA/SF Slate, and the SF Bay Guardian.

A — Yes — School Bonds — funds safety, classrooms, two new schools in the SE, move SOTA to Civic Center — raises property taxes, $16 per $100K value — put on by School Board, needs 55% to pass. Will invest in part in moving those temporary trailers indoors. Project Labor Agreement expires next year. Transparency has been historically good on previously raised funds.

B — Yes…


For local San Francisco ballot measures, see this page. For greater detail on these propositions, see the guides from the League of Pissed off Voters, Sasha Magee’s CA/SF Slate, and the SF Bay Guardian.

Prop 51 — Nope — There are no provisions to fund low-income schools and this mostly benefits developers by having the state fund construction projects put forward by (mostly richer) school districts.

Prop 52 — No — Enshrines current, just okay policy in the CA constitution, which would make it difficult to change later on.

Prop 53 — NO — Revenue bonds pay for themselves. This…


Sports teams name themselves for fearsome beings, animals that charge and leap and buck, humans that dominate landscapes with the violence of war or of commerce. The NBA harbors its share of animal assassins, as well as Magic, Wizards, Heat and Jazz. This latter squad, born in New Orleans as the music was, was poached by the Mormon Empire in 1979, and replaced in 2002 by the New Orleans Pelicans.

What kind of killer is a pelican, the uninitiated might ask. It’s just a funny-looking shorebird that carries fish in its beak like a stork. Carrying the ball forward is…


On discovering that Labor Day is a celebration of uniformed servicepeople

Traditional US Military dress. By Hunter Gray — CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Labor Day (First Monday in September)
It took me a minute, but the Governor is right: Labor Day is about our men and women in uniform, the maids and fry cooks, the mechanics and nurses, the clowns and mimes who band together to institute workplace safety and tolerable limits to hours spent on the job. At your backyard barbecue, take a moment of silence to honor the Wobblies, the Teamsters, the SEIU, Actors’ Equity, and your local teachers and nurses unions. (Not the FOP, though. Those guys publish racist newsletters.)


A buyout is a type of eviction. You’re losing your home; don’t settle for less than you can afford.

In this essay, I first explain why hiring a startup to negotiate a buyout is a terrible idea. After that, you’ll find a comprehensive guide to everything I’ve learned about buyouts and how they pertain to tenants’ rights in San Francisco.

Newsweek posted an article Friday about a San Francisco startup called Rent Masters, which purports to streamline the process by which landlords can buy tenants out of their leases. I looked at the actual web site today, and it’s worse than I feared: They are not just adding a middle-man step between you and your landlord, or you and…


My best work is short

I don’t know why Medium suggested a keyword of “Surrender,” but I’m keeping it.

I wrote a whole series of tweets about the Mission when I was losing my apartment at the same time as there was a call for auditions for a show called “94110.” These included a treatment for an entire season of the series.

https://storify.com/tarintowers/94110-an-elegy-and-a-satire


Not everything has to do with writing or not writing, but most things do.

This is my Jenny Holzer Dallas Cowboys t-shirt.

Fuck Up Some Commas: New Year’s Resolutions

It’s true, January 1 is an arbitrary date to take stock, but it’s as fine a marker as any. The odometer rolls over on the last year, and it’s a good time to tinker under your hood or even take yourself into the shop. In the past, I’ve made hyperspecific resolutions about doing a thing every day or accomplishing a particular project that I had no idea how to start. I’ve got a pretty long manifesto here but several of these items are maintenance, and none are ambitious beyond what I can achieve.


The year I lost my home and found my voice

2015 was notable for me in two ways: My knock-down, drag-out fight with my landlord ended, finally, in me losing my apartment after more than a year of fighting to save it. And, in many ways because of this, I started writing again.

Good things happened this year, although moving every week or two is time-consuming, and it’s starting to wear me down. I have to remind myself on low days that I wrote more this year, while homeless, than I have in the last ten. That’s something. That’s a lot.

But being homeless for 7 months is a lot…


How San Francisco Witches Celebrate Yule

Winter Solstice 2012 photo is an altered version of a much better photo in the SF Chronicle. We ask that people do not take photos, and these made the next couple Solstices crowded with media, looky-loos, and cops. (I think I altered this photo enough to use it with credit to Michael Short; I’m shooting for fair use—especially in exchange for us not yelling too much about being photographed when we requested otherwise—and of course I’m not making any money off this.)

The first time I plunged naked into the ocean on Winter Solstice, I was one of about a hundred people shedding their clothes for that part of the biggest outdoor ritual of the year. If you go in the ocean, you need to take a buddy, because people have died being abducted by rip tides off San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. (Luckily, we’ve never lost anyone during a Solstice ritual, which we conduct on the Summer Solstice and on Solstice Eve in December.)

My friend Alison was my buddy. She had plunged before.

“It helps if you just charge in. It…

Tarin Towers

I write from a different desk every week

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