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The ‘Birds Aren’t Real Protest’ Was a Perfect Taste of San Francisco’s Weirdness

Updated: Nov 28, 2021 17:06
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By Michal Habdank-Kolaczkowski

The years of COVID have created so much lasting change in our city and had so many immutable effects on everyone: workers on the front-line; folks waiting in the soup-line; even comedians had to learn how to “work the room” online. We watched the disappearance and still mourn some of our most precious establishments, venues, and eateries like: San Francisco’s Cat Museum, Slim’s, Tyger’s, and all but two dedicated comedy clubs…But that is the nature of change, and our city has reinvented itself so many times over that we must accept our new reality and embrace, well, this.

On Wednesday, Nov 10, about 100 protestors – some feathered, some furious, all real – gathered in Fox Plaza across from Twitter’s HQ to demand that the social media giant “change their disgusting ‘bird’ logo”, per their manifesto that “every bird is a government surveillance drone and every use of ‘bird’ imagery in intentional pro-bird social programming.”

Rallied by a Market Street Van Vigilante in a cowboy hat, intoxicated by a sense of return to weird-normalcy and White Claw in hand, San Francisco experienced a magical moment that will stick in my mind forever. For hours, picketers were joined by everyday San Franciscans who, bereft of opportunities to take part in “whatever the hell is going on over there” for nearly two years now, were only too glad to join.

Somethings about this city won’t be coming back: Lucky 13, It’s Tops Coffee Shop, 1-2-3-4 Go Records. But that is change, and we are a city defined by it. Yesterday’s thrilling display of tongue-in-cheek revelry is something we’ve been missing since the days of The Jejune Institute’s Divine Nonchalance. You can still catch Frank Chu protesting 12 Galaxies around town, the Space Lady has played a few intimate performances recently, and you can still grab Anthony Bourdain’s favorite Cubano sandwich from That’s It Market in the Mission. You can even still catch Ant Man at Zeitgeist selling his hand made merch. Bottom line: San Francisco weird is edging its way back into our pants, you just need to unzip.


Michal has had the great privilege of helping architect and launch the tenderloin’s Moth Belly Gallery, produce TEDxFiDiWomen, TEDxAlcatraz, & TEDxAlcatrazChange, reopen The Grand Theater as new home for Gray Area, host the city’s first Urban Prototyping Festival, architect the San Francisco’s Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation’s Startup-in-Residence Program, and reactivate Pier 17 as new home for SwissNex, hoping to help his community every day.

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