Erick Lyle’s Secret History Of The City


If you live in San Francisco long enough, you start to wonder: “Where the hell can I go at 3 a.m. which isn’t home or a laundromat or a massage parlor?”

This simple question might balloon into a larger, perhaps more existential one: “Why does it feel like I need money I’ll never earn, a job I hate, a house I can’t afford and friends who only want to get shitfaced in order to have fun in this town?”

The answer to the first question is: the 24-hour donut shop.  Which is the perfect place to see outsider artists in their native environment.

But if you want to know about the long-lost “25-hour donut shop”, a so-called epicenter of crime during the dot-com boom in San Francisco and you also want some significant light shed on the second question I posed, I direct you to On The Lower Frequencies by Erick Lyle.

“At once a manual, memoir and history of creative resistance. . .”, Lyle’s book explores what it was like to be a punk rock zinester before and after the dot-come explosion in San Francisco. Not only that but he unveils the history behind many quintessential San Francisco icons, landmarks, byways, controversies and secrets.

Here’s a description of the changes that occurred in our beloved Mission District during that tumultuous time:

“But the Mission was changing. Streets that had been called ‘down and out’ were now called ‘gritty,’ and the Mission’s turd-and-graffiti motif was now fashionable.  Termite-ridden, drafty old Victorians were bought at exorbitant prices, not to live in, but to immediately resell, like Internet stocks.  Everyone in San Francisco had a dream that somehow hinged on real estate.  The stock market was pumping so much easy cash into the neighborhood — the good times were so GOOD — that the dream even had a name: ‘Cleaning up the Mission.’ Developers and slumming hipsters congratulated themselves, believing that ordinary greed was actually a moral force, a rising tide to lift all boats.”

The book is published by the wonderful people at Soft Skull.

And because 2666 mania will never and should never abate, Erick Lyle wrote a fairly prescient piece about 2666 and Obama-mania in the Bay Area Guardian in March of this year.

Michael Berger is a barely-published writer and book-seller living in San Francisco. He is one of the founding Corsairs of the Iron Garters Bike Club and is currently pursuing a degree in applied pataphysics. He sometimes eats oatmeal for dinner. More from this author →