Monday, October 14, 2019

Lincoln A. Mitchell's "San Francisco Year Zero"

Lincoln Mitchell is a political analyst, pundit and writer based in New York City and San Francisco.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, San Francisco Year Zero: Political Upheaval, Punk Rock and a Third-Place Baseball Team, and reported the following:
Page 99 of San Francisco Year Zero is the second half of a description of June 25th, 1978, a day when 1978 looked like it was going to be a pretty good year in San Francisco. The page begins with the words “a very different neighborhood” because the previous page describes a doubleheader that the first place San Francisco Giants split with the Atlanta Braves. Page 99 is not about baseball; it is a description of the Gay Freedom Day Parade that was held in San Francisco that day.

The page describes how “(d)rag queens, muscle-bound gay men and women in all manner of costumes, scantily clad men and women enjoying the warm day, and people on motorcycles and roller skates were all part of the festivities.” On this page, I also write about how the upbeat atmosphere was marred by the specter of rising homophobia that would be reflected in Proposition Six, an anti-gay initiative that appeared on the November ballot in California. Defeating Proposition Six was the last big, and successful, political fight of Harvey Milk’s life.

Somebody who just read page 99 of my new book would get a bit of a sense of my book because they would get some insight into what some of San Francisco, in this case LGBT (a phrase that was not used back then) San Francisco was like, and they would also get a sense of some of the political turmoil in the city then. These two themes are central to the book. However, this one page does not capture the full vibe of the book, because there is nothing on page 99 about punk rock or baseball, two subjects that are central to the story I tell about San Francisco.

San Francisco Year Zero is about San Francisco in 1978, a year that was not only tumultuous, exciting and tragic, but that also created the political foundations for the San Francisco of today. Through writing about the nascent punk rock movement and the Giants successful season, I place those political events, including legislative battles, assassinations and the mass murder in Jonestown in the larger cultural and historical context of San Francisco, thus providing the reader an understanding of San Francisco in 1978 and of why the events that year were so central to the making of today’s San Francisco.
Visit Lincoln Mitchell's website.

--Marshal Zeringue