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Why Didn’t San Francisco’s Billionaires Save The Bay Bridge Lights?

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When I first heard the news that the ‘Bay Lights’ were in danger of going dark, and that an $11 million dollar donation was needed in order to keep them on, I thought to myself “some billionaire will foot the bill, probably Marc Benioff,” but that didn’t happen

Instead, Illuminate, the non-profit behind the “Bay Lights” art installation, ended up short of their $11 million dollar goal to keep the lights on. Which is strange considering San Francisco is the Billionaire capital of the world and that Salesforce literally pays $10 million a year to Matthew McConaughey as a brand consultant and “creative advisor” which is a fancy way of saying Marc Benioff is friends with Matthew McConaughey. 

But hey… What’s the point of being rich if you can’t pay your friends real money for fake work? 

McConaughey aside, the fact that some rich guy didn’t step in to save the day begs the question: have billionaires given up on San Francisco? 

I don’t think billionaires should exist, but if we are forced to endure them, they should at least donate to public art because they don’t do much else. 

And if that’s the case, can they also get the fuck out of the city?

A lot of billionaires still call San Francisco home, but other than writing shitty think pieces about how uncomfortable homeless people make them for every stuffy east coast legacy publication on the planet, what else do they do? 

Seriously. What the fuck else do they do? 

I don’t think billionaires should exist, but if we are forced to endure them, they should at least donate to public art because they don’t do much else. 

Well, to be fair, they do seem to indirectly corrupt the fuck out of local politicians. Despite a progressive veneer, SF’s billionaires have spent significant sums of money to push San Francisco’s policies further to the right. And the City has a track record of extreme corruption that a SF Chronicle article described as staggering. Even London Breed is married to a billionaire. No one really mentions this, but it’s true. There’s also the fact that she was fined for a myriad of ethics violations, and she was in The Matrix. I will admit being in The Matrix isn’t necessarily corruption, it’s just kind of corny. 

The “Bay Lights” are largely irrelevant to your life. They’re neat, but irrelevant. However, San Francisco needs novel shit like the “Bay Lights” to justify the insanity of existing in San Francisco. In a city with as many problems as SF, people need distractions. They need little fishies to swim up and down the suspension cables of the Bay Bridge because it can take their mind off the 60,000 empty housing units that exist beside record breaking numbers of homelessness. 

I remember when I lived on South Van Ness and a man was screaming the ‘N word’ in the middle of the street and I thought to myself “this is unpleasant, but there’s a red tiger walking in circles on top of the Salesforce tower and that’s kind of cool.” 

There was another time when I walked past a dead body covered by a tarp near 16th and Mission BART. It almost ruined my day. Then I saw a cool mural, and let me tell you, I was still deeply uncomfortable, but the mural looked nice. 

We need to do better, but if we’re not going to do better, which we probably won’t, let the bridge have the lights.

We need distractions, because without them, we may start critically thinking, and if we start doing that, the billionaire class may be in some real trouble. 

So, ‘ya know, pay for the lights. 





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Abraham Woodliff - Bay Area Memelord

Abraham Woodliff - Bay Area Memelord

Abraham Woodliff is an Oakland-based writer, editor and digital content creator known for Bay Area Memes, a local meme page that has amassed nearly 200k followers. His work has appeared in SFGATE, The Bold Italic and of course, His book of short stories, personal essays and poetry entitled Don't Drown on Dry Ground is available now!