Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

San Francisco Signage

With the big runoff election for mayor tomorrow, San Francisco has been turned into the Land of Signs. I’ve lived in San Francisco since 1995, and I’ve never seen so many signs, and so many personal statements.

Here at Carl and Cole, in the heart of Cole Valley, the signs are everywhere. Granted, this is District 5, so we’re in Gonzalez country. He’s been our supervisor for three years now, so you’d think that the neighborhood would be solidly yellow signs. But there’s a pretty good showing of Newsom’s blue and red, too.

My favorite so far is the flat above Crepes on Cole, where it seems like every housemate put up a sign. Above the row of Gonzalez signs sits one lonely Newsom sign. That’s bravery.

There’s also the collection of bikes at the top of Carl Street. They’ve been sitting there, chained to a street sign, dripping playa dust since Burning Man. Now they all hold Golzalez signs, laced through their spokes. I’m wondering what the message is: Broken bikes for Matt!

And they’re not alone – cars, windows, even some random passers by, all are covered with signs. I quietly fear that the gaggle of patchouli-scented hippies on the corner with the Gonzalez signs in one hand and peace signs in the other may do more harm to the candidate than good.

One of the most striking sign stories is the local head shop, Distractions on Haight Street, which covered its facade with Newsom posters. Apparently they took so much heat for it, the owner put up a sign explaining their position.

In this city, where head shops are for Newsom and Burning Man bikes are for Gonzalez, a lot is uncertain. But we know a few things about our next mayor right now: He’s not Willie Brown, he’s got a wild ride ahead of him, and at least half of the city had the other guy’s sign in their window.

← Back to Home

Hi, I’m Derek. I used to make websites. Now I grow flowers and know things. I’m mostly harmless. More.