Anti-Mexican Graffiti at UC San Diego: Towards a Structural Analysis and Solution

On the morning of Saturday April 9, 2016, members of the University of California San Diego (UCSD) community woke up to the following message drafted by a fellow student: Last night at approximately 10.00pm, five hooded White male adults were seen writing pro-Trump propaganda as well as violently racist and xenophobic quotes such as “build the wall”, “deport them all”, “fuck Mexicans”, “Mexico will pay”, and “make America great again”. The placing of these chalk quotes and timing means that these five men knew exactly what they were doing: targeting the Chicanx and Latinx community by placing them outside the Raza Resource Centro – partaking in a larger system of violence where Chicanx and … [Read more...]

Freeway Takeovers: The Reemergence of the Collective through Urban Disruption

[Editor's Note: Last night citizens in Chicago shut down Lake Shore Drive in protest over the Staten Island grand jury's refusal to indict the police officer responsible for the choking death of Eric Garner. Yet in SoCal, protesters have been using the freeways as a vehicle for protest and political awareness for decades. UCSD PhD candidates Troy Araiza Kokinis and Jael Vizcarra explain the goals, meaning and context of these protests and others like them.] Driving along the Interstate 5 in Southern California makes commuters privy to the militarization of port cities like San Diego. It is not unusual to encounter a tank headed to Camp Pendleton or a truck filled with “1.4 Explosives.” … [Read more...]

Building Nostalgia: Disney, Legoland, and Southern California

[Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the Intersections column for the KCET Departures website on Nov. 29, 2012] In his review of Disney's  hit movie Wreck it Ralph (2012), New York Times critic A.O. Scott notes that its creators smartly appealed to the power of nostalgia. Based on the 8-bit 1980s video games of now aging Generation X -- Q-Bert, Donkey Kong, and others -- the movie appealed to "the affection parents feel for games that evoke their childhoods." The success of Ralph serves as a reminder of Disney's centrality in American post WWII life, while Disneyland itself has cast a long twentieth century shadow, repeatedly influencing suburban and urban planners as well … [Read more...]

Pedaling Your Politics: The Variable Meanings of Critical Mass

Over the past two decades, the prevalence of biking in our nation’s cities has increased rapidly. Never mind unique creations like Portland, Oregon, today, places as diverse as New York, Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, and Austin have vibrant cycling cultures. In San Diego, a Saturday night without a fixie would be like Sunday morning without Mass (for those of us influenced by popery). The same could be said for Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Silver Lake, CA and elsewhere. This increase in bike culture stems from several forces. Environmental concerns, energy issues, aesthetics, and the appropriation of subcultures (after all it would be impossible to say that aspects of hipster aesthetics weren’t … [Read more...]

MLK Ain’t No Al Capone: Even Sunny CA Has a Dark Side

Often when people think of racism and segregation they look South. Ask anyone of southern extraction attending a northern university how often they are subject to comments about racial discrimination and the like, they are likely to roll their eyes and ask how much time you have. One friend of mine, a South Carolina native and Macalester grad, often recounts the numerous remarks he endured while attending the St. Paul, Minnesota university. As he often noted, it's kind of easy to claim openminded nondiscriminatory beliefs when your state remains predominantly white and yes, Nordic. T of M fave Lisa McGirr has mapped the rise of the new right in Southern California while gadfly Mike Davis has … [Read more...]

SoCal Classic: Early Conservative Opposition to Public Housing

One of the “magical” things about California is the sheer diversity of people and opinions that abound throughout the state. Even its most conservative bastions, like San Diego, have pockets of liberalism. Despite a throbbing right-wing heart beat, San Diego has a vibrant and prominent gay community. With that said, Southern California’s brand of conservatism puts others to shame. Equal parts John Birch Society fever dream and Barry Goldwater eroticism, mid twentieth century Orange County conservatism staunchly opposed liberal corruption and creeping socialist influence, instead promoting free market policies and New Right rhetoric that embraced technological innovation but privileged … [Read more...]

Pocketing Diversity: San Diego’s 21st Century Tribalism

And my old friends, we were so different then Before your war against the suburbs began Before it began And now the music divides Us into tribes You grew your hair so I grew mine They said the past won't rest Until we jump the fence and leave it behind. -- Arcade Fire, “Suburban War” Springsteen-like "indie rock" ingenues the Arcade Fire released The Suburbs last year to great fanfare. Win Butler and crew looked past easy generalizations, suggesting that the suburban experience is more complicated than it has been given credit. As Pitchfork noted approvingly The Suburbs proved "a generously paced collection of meditations on familial responsibility, private disappointments, and … [Read more...]

When the Reactionary Is Visionary: The Illusion of Low-Income Housing in Sunbelt San Diego

In the Spring of 2007, New York City witnessed the revision of a city planning legend long steeped in controversy. Three separate exhibits – “Remaking the Metropolis” at the Museum of New York, "The Road to Recreation” at the Queens Museum of Art, and “Slum Clearance and the Superblock Solution,” hosted at Columbia University’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery – attempted to reimagine Robert Moses and the built environment he constructed in New York City. Without question, Robert Caro’s magnificent The Power Broker: The Rise and Fall of New York remains the seminal work on Moses's career. While notable problems with Caro’s sourcing and interview methodology persist, much of The Power … [Read more...]