| The heady, free-wheeling dot com dollars
that decimated San Francisco are explored and abhored in this documentary
that is a metaphor for these Enron days. When the bubble started to grow,
college grads could finally look forward a job that would land them squarely
into the middle class with ironically, less spending power than their
The new economy brought these immigrants in search of the dot com dream
funded by shaky finance and giddy speculation. But San Francisco is
a small city without much room to grow. Enterprsing landlords realized
the worth of their property and used a variety of ways to evict old
tenants, build new dwellings called "live-work" spaces and
transform the city of San Francisco into a glittery new playground for
I was glad to see the Internet Boom because it meant that freaky old
me could find a place in a new kind of corporate structure and actually
make a living. All of a sudden, having a blue haired employee was a
status symbol rather than a liability. But I went to college, studied
economics enough to know that I better just have fun while it lasts
because it was an impossible economic model. And I'm sure everyone realized
the same thing but they all steamed ahead to "get theirs".
Which isn't a bad thing except it was like everyone was on the kind
of middle class welfare we call "a job" and as new businesses
came in to scoop up their share of the worker's earnings, the prices
went up everywhere, everyone was loaded with cash and San Francisco,
full of diversity and creativity, was getting flattened out and long
time residents were getting squeezed out.
This was felt everywhere but most noticeably in the Mission District,
which is the focus of Boom - The Sound of Eviction . For several
decades, the Mission has been the center of the Hispanic community,
providing low rents for families with small incomes. It was also home
to many artists, was the second home of haight street punks and freaks
attracted by, well, the grit.
The end was near when new four star restaurants started opening up next
to taquerias and providing Valet Parking. Valet Parking in the Mission
has been an endless source of amusement to my long time friends who
have been hanging out in the Mission since "Back in the Day".
Except that the old Mission has been erased and all the people that
once lived there and hung out there have moved on, into Oakland, Los
Angeles, Portland, Austin.
Boom skillfully weaves together footage of protests, first person
narratives and lavish dot com parties to tell the story of the steamroller
of progress while bringing up difficult issues like displacement, gentrification
and the way our economic system works, or doesn't work.
Now that the boom has gone bust and kids who were formally rolling in
it are now back at their parents house trying to get a job at Denny's
(not to mention all the people who had lots more at stake, like their
children, their homes, their 2 SUV's), the documentary is a bleak reminder
of not only what did happen, but what can happen.
If the Dot Com Days were the party, Boom is the next day. When
the film was made, nobody knew it would all end so suddenly and without
forgiveness. So what would have been a call to arms is now a study in
"the logic of late capitalism". Required viewing for sociologists,
economists, housing rights activists, anarchists, and anyone curious
about what the hype was really all about.
The doc, so far without a distribution deal, has been picking up steam.
Kevin Thomas of the LA Times and the LA Weekly ran a piece
in conjunction with the upcoming screening on March 15 at the Egyptian
Theatre in Los Angeles as part of the American Cinematheques Alternative
This is the kind of documentary that'll get heavy rotation in schools
and libararies the world over. France, India and Mexico are going to
love this one.
I saw this movie at The Lost Film Festival at Sundance and having
lived through the subject of the film, I can say that Whispered Media
covered the issue with depth and breadth and clarity and tell a tight
story. Their sympathies obviously lie with the displaced but they avoid
political jingoism and the kind of "us or them" mentality
shared by George Bush and the Free Mumia cult and present the facts
along with compelling footage.