An Open Letter To A Letter Opener - The Gossamer 2/24/16

Dear Letter Openers: Why are you still around? In this age of email and instant communication, what purpose do you serve? Do you exist only to help those with butterfingers open bills and rare thank-you cards from long-lost family members? Do you realize that you are nothing more than dull knives? Consider, Letter Openers, and wonder if there’s more to life than this. Sincerely, A Dear Friend.

With that, it’s the kind of day that makes a man want to dunk his whole head in the coffee maker. It’s nice and warm in there, at least. Here’s The Gossamer for Wednesday, February 24, 2016.

San Francisco. Silicon Valley. The Bay Area. The home of Haight-Ashbury, the hyphy movement, and medicinal herb. It’s also the home of rampant homelessness due to rising rents thanks to the influx of tech bros working at startups that turned large swaths of scenic Northern California into a future dumping ground for toxic precious metals. So, you know, there’s that.

If you’re a fan of getting angry about things you read on the Internet, you — like me — read Talia Jane’s open letter to her ex-boss Jeremy “Stop, Collaborate, and Listen” Stoppelman. Jane worked at Yelp as an underpaid tech support guru before her letter re: Yelp’s failure to provide employees with a living wage got her axed from the company. On Twitter, Mr. Stoppelman tried to topple any sort of pitchfork judgement against him, saying:

Stoppelman also acknowledged Jane’s comments about the cost of living, agreeing that it is “far too high” in San Francisco, and that he has spoken out “frequently” about lowering the cost of living. Nothing in there about paying support employees more than $8.15 an hour, though. (I mean, no matter where you live, $8.15 an hour doesn’t cut it. Maybe if you’re single, live in a small apartment in a suburb outside of a small city, and don’t order in much, a wage slightly above minimum might be enough. But that’s if you live in, like, Syracuse, New York. Or Yuma, Arizona. Or Crystal City, Texas. And so on.)

(Before I go on, note that Ms. Jane has written another letter re: the aftermath of her termination; she’s promised to match all GoFundMe donations that she receives and give all of the money to charity within six months. Cool!)

But here’s where I’m going with this. Talia’s story is not the worst story to come out of the Bay Area. Hell, if you’re a Panthers fan, the worst story to come out of the area is the Super Bowl. Talia’s story shows again that whatever soul the Bay Area used to have is slowly slipping away. Natives can’t afford to live in their hometown, as fresh-faced private university graduates with deep pockets squeeze them out onto the streets. Tech bros with brains the size of the Golden Gate Bridge and souls as empty as a smelly BART train attack the homeless in selfish blog posts. And according to Curbed, only 11 percent of San Francisco households can actually afford to buy homes in the city.

What’s worse is that the Bay Area isn’t the only city feeling this crunch. But if you’ve looked outside lately, you know this. New York feels it. Chicago feels it. L.A. feels it. As these big cities continue to clean themselves up thanks to the two-faced beasts of gentrification, venture capitalists, and impressionable city mayors, the vice grip that rampant capitalism has on these cities will continue to tighten. At some point, it will be too late to let go.

But hey: You’re living the dream. Right?

More news:

  • Donald Dunce “wins” the record-breaking Nevada GOP caucus, with Marco Rubik’s Cube coming in second place over Teddy Bear Cruz by one vote. Ben Carsalesman and John Casiotone got relatively bupkis, leading some to believe that one of them might drop out of the race soon. But what happens in Nevada stays in Nevada, so anything could happen from here on out. Plus, how often does your wedding day get hijacked by a major political event?
  • On Tuesday, an Iraqi news network interviewed 16-year-old Marlin Stivani Nivarlain, a Swedish young woman rescued from ISIS after living with them for almost two years. Nivarlain explained to Kurdistan 24 that her boyfriend had asked her to move to Iraq so that he could join the caliphate; she agreed, knowing nothing about the group beforehand. It’s a lesson for all young people everywhere: Just because you think you love someone doesn’t mean that you have to join a fundamentalist religious movement for them.
  • And if playing Mozart for your baby doesn’t seem like enough help for their development, what about the fine art of vaginal seeding? The process involves swabbing babies born via C-section with vaginal bacteria; the reason why is because “studies” have “shown” that babies born naturally and babies born via C-section have different bacterial colonies living in and on their bodies. Because some bacteria “is reported to be” beneficial for infant growth and development, some parents with a newborn delivered via C-section want to ensure that their babies are getting all the bacteria they can, just in case. The Washington Post describes the process better than I can, but it’s not like I want to, anyway. I mean, the phrase vaginal seeding makes me think of — I don’t know — futuristic cyber-dystopian human breeding farms run by creaking metallic quadrupeds. And how do we know those aren’t just around the corner, huh? You can enslave the human race all you want, you technobeasts, but you’ll never vaginally seed my child! You hear me?

That’s it for The Gossamer today. Remember: If you’re writing an open letter to someone, make sure that you seal it with a kiss. “Even if it’s on the Internet, Will?” Yes. Kiss your monitor. “But what if it’s a bad letter?” No sweat. Just make sure you eat a lot of garlic beforehand.

You’ve been reading The Gossamer. Have a safe ride home. [S]

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