Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

Oh look, suddenly Pride is interesting

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So. Pride did a thing. After years of being no more politically risky than an bowl of strawberry Jell-O, the Pride committee -- or some kind of mole within the Pride committee, according to SF Pride board president Lisa L. Williams' utterly weird statement about the whole thing -- announced that Bradley Manning (a.k.a. Breanna Manning), jailed and pallid hero of the Wikileaks generation, soon to face court-martialling, was to be a Pride Grand Marshall.

An honor usually reserved for washed up TV actresses who once said the word "gay" on CBS prime time in the '80s and craven politicos with dead eyes and hard hair, the Grand Marshallship has before this stirred up about as much controversy outside the community as the color beige. And yet, on Friday afternoon, the world's head exploded. (The canny queen who leaked the decision sure knew her press cycles -- Wikileaks lives!) When your dad in Detroit calls you almost immediately after the news breaks to ask how you're covering it, you know its grabbing virtual headlines.

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Boom life: Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore talks about 'The End of San Francisco'

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A picture of Brian Goggin's iconic site-specific sculpture "Defenestration" (that 16-year-old "furniture leaping out of an abandoned building" piece in SoMa that may be demolished soon) is pictured on the cover of Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's latest book, The End of San Francisco -- which I reviewed in this week's Guardian.

It's an almost too-perfect image to represent the book's contents -- "Defenestration" cheekily channeled the out-the-window frustration of the dawning of the first Internet boom, with its hordes of tech gold-rushers pushing out old San Francisco culture. (And now, in the middle of another tech boom, the artwork itself will be pushed aside to make way for affordable housing -- the term for anything under $2500 per month rent pretty much at this point.) The End of San Francisco takes us on an atmospheric, highly personal through the turbulent period of the '90s and early 2000s, while asking some hard questions about the queer activism, participatory gentrification, and "alternative culture" of the period. Along the way, Mattilda intimately delves into issues like her recovered memories of sexual abuse as a child at the hands of her father; the rampant drug use, mental illness, and hostile attitudes of Mission queer culture; the gynophobia and transphobia of many "underground" scenes, and much, much more. 

I asked Mattilda a few questions over email in advance of her appearances here at City Lights (April 30) and the GLBT Historical Society (May 9) to help set her book in the context of what was happening then, and what's still happening now. As always, she pulled no punches. 

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Laid bare

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's new memoir The End of San Francisco captures tumultuous times

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marke@sfbg.com

LIT "I met Johanna at a party in New York in 1998 — actually I was talking to her boyfriend first, barrettes in his dyed black hair and painted nails, I was trying to figure out if he was a fag or from Olympia."Read more »