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Don't get caught in a bad hotel
May 12, 2010 2:11 PM   Subscribe

Bad Hotel - a FlashMob direct action for San Francisco hotel workers' right to health care by Pride At Work, Sleep With The Right People, and the Brass Liberation Orchestra.

For those interested, here's why they're doing this. The arrangement is by The Rude Mechanical Orchestra of NY, BLO's sister group.

[This does happen to include a song by a certain ubiquitous pop star, though it's not really about her, so if you'd rather keep avoiding her, please don't click the link. I thought this was worthwhile in its own right as a neat use of a brass band and a flashmob for pro-union action. This is via jardinier's first draft of this post, and thanks go to Mefite and Pride At Work member gingerbeer and Rude Mechanical Orchestra member Jon_Evil for some good info about it.]
posted by koeselitz (47 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Paul Hogarth asks is this the future of protest?
posted by jardinier at 2:19 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well done post. Flashmobs that actually are out for some kind of progressive action are ten million times better than those that are just trying to disrupt mall shoppers with WTF discontinuities.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:19 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not actually a member, just a fan and supporter, but thanks for re-posting.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:23 PM on May 12, 2010


Best of luck.
posted by unixrat at 2:32 PM on May 12, 2010


Pretty sure this was posted (and deleted) this morning...
posted by schmod at 2:35 PM on May 12, 2010


BLO at Whole Foods last year
posted by koeselitz at 2:36 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


schmod: read post
posted by koeselitz at 2:36 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


koeselitz: cool, nice to know that these are the same folks from the Whole Foods protest, I thought the tactic rang a (brass) bell.
posted by idiopath at 2:48 PM on May 12, 2010


When I think about my experience in protests like this it's interesting to watch them as they start to act - you can see in their faces what a challenge it is to overcome the social norms that say 'don't yell in a hotel lobby.' But you can also see the confidence that comes from group action, the solidarity building into energy. It's a little awkward, I'm not a L*dy G*g* fan, but there's something beautiful about this video.

Besides,"I want San Francisco and I want your gay ass, but not in a bad hotel!" is the best line ever.
posted by jardinier at 3:08 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


“it’s more fun to protest with the gays, cause we’ve got the attitude and we know how to dance.”

Word.
posted by fontophilic at 3:13 PM on May 12, 2010


You know, I've been watching the news over here in the UK all day (spoiler: it hurts), and this is actually the first news story I've seen in ages that's made me feel slightly better about the world. Thanks so much for posting it.
posted by somergames at 4:21 PM on May 12, 2010


Paul Hogarth asks is this the future of protest?

More like protest from the future. Here's my now-edited-to-respect-the-sensitivities-of-those-weary-of-Certain-Ubiquitous-Popstar-related-posts comment from the deleted threadearlier today

Let me amend my Certain Ubiquitous Popstar theory: She's a socially conscious time travelling alien hermaphrodite. We are all going to look AMAZING in the interdimensional socialist worker's utopia of the year 2510. (Don't click the links if Certain Ubiquitous Popstar offends your sensibilities and/or quaint four dimensional perceptions)

Meanwhile, back at the topic . . . I really question whether this kind of protest works-- while its entertaining, it's also hard to take seriously. While wit and humor are effective weapons in the protest arsenal, there is a point at which the wit and humor can overshadow the message. I felt like the "Hey, gang! Let's put on a show!" vibe going on was dampening the "This employer treats its employees poorly and needs to be boycotted until they change their policies" vibe.
posted by KingEdRa at 4:29 PM on May 12, 2010


If I had a nickel for every spoiled trust fund kid that moved to San Francisco to Become Interesting - I might be able to afford to live here.

I saw this story on the nightly news last night. The real story is that being Queer is not weird enough anymore to get you on the news. So you get stuff like this.

Please world - I beg you - stop giving these people the attention that moves them. San Francisco needs your help! The message must be heard! Being gay is not interesting. Being loud is not interesting. Stealing your way into a proletariat cause to draw attention to yourself is a slap to your nanny's face. Your parents paid her good minimum wage!

I'm probably just over reacting to the irony of the liberal arts major's life. It's an age old parade. That 'band' has been around since the mid 90's even if their institutional memory only goes back to 2002. Probably before that too - it's just I remember seeing them at Raves back then. It's like SF churns through Fine Arts/English majors who come here - think they've invented being loud and wearing tight pants - and only last as long as mom/pop will fund their not getting a real job. They scream. They yell. They make a scene. And then get jobs as hotel managers. So I guess I'm asking the world to stop the merciless irony. Why not protest that?
posted by astrobiophysican at 4:29 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love this theory KingEdRa. And I'll repeat my response:
The question is, in 2510 will you live in Bregna or Monica?

Interesting question about the protest, (I'm ignoring the following 'get off my lawn' rant) - I think if this or a similar video can go viral, LGBT people will think seriously about which hotel they book. And it's easy to protect the eyes of the fatigued, just write L*dy G*G*
posted by jardinier at 4:35 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ok, I'm not ignoring the rant. Being queer, or mistaken for it, is still "interesting enough" to get you beaten to death, even in Brooklyn. Hate crimes against LGBT people still happen, all the time.

I'm glad these queer youth in SF chose to express solidarity with these workers - it's one big fight against injustice and we're all on the same side, or should be. And they are bucking the trend of the wealthy, gay, white men who are happy to steer clear of politics as long as the taxes aren't too high on their double income households and there is a Whole Foods nearby... In New York, for example, the gays who voted for Bloomberg.
posted by jardinier at 4:44 PM on May 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


This action is one small tactic in a national bargaining strategy designed to pressure international corporations into bargaining fair wages and compensation in properties throughout North America. Other pieces include coordinated bargaining, boycotts, community alliances, strikes, informational pickets,political pressure and more. It would be a mistake to dismiss the participants as dilettantes without understanding the role they are playing in a larger fight. Solidarity can be more than a word. The workers this is in support of have been fighting these companies for months, the immediate effect of this flash mob is more attention than any strike would have had , without any of the financial sacrifice. Kudos on the re-post. If San Francisco needs help, working men and women everywhere need help and recognizing the common struggle is the only way we will ever be successful.
posted by Unioncat at 5:22 PM on May 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


I felt like the "Hey, gang! Let's put on a show!" vibe going on was dampening the "This employer treats its employees poorly and needs to be boycotted until they change their policies" vibe.

I do find myself wondering... was this just a one-off stunt to film a YouTube video, or are they actually staging this in the offending hotel(s) regularly during the boycott? It seems that a quality boycott actually involves regular reminders and confronting those unaware with the issues at hand with the fact of the boycott.

they are bucking the trend of the wealthy, gay, white men who are happy to steer clear of politics as long as the taxes aren't too high on their double income households and there is a Whole Foods nearby...

I'm trying to find the right response to this... Surely you're aware that gay activism has been ongoing steadily pretty much non-stop for the past 40 years? Constantly refreshed by the young who come of age, inspired by those who are older and who have fought the fights before them... I don't think you'll really find there are huge numbers of gay men or lesbians who aren't at least nominally politically aware and who don't vote with some small inkling of the issues, regardless of income or race. When it comes to states like CA, which not too long ago actually use the popular vote to strip GLBT people of rights, the trend is likely TOWARD political involvement, not away from it.
posted by hippybear at 5:35 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


jardinier - please explain how people hating you makes you interesting? Does it make me interesting if you hate me? Why stop at LGBT? Why not add ACDEFGHIJKMNO...

People who hate and commit violence are violent people who will target whatever letter they feel they can get away with hating. History is full of them and the trend thankfully seems to be a reduction in the net other/interesting-ness that permits bashing other people for their position in the alphabet.

The link you put up is 'news' from 2008. I'm sure it's happened since then but really... isn't it time we all agree that LGBT is just another way to spell you and me ? If you tell me you prefer to poop in your sink - that is interesting. Being LGBT is not.
posted by astrobiophysican at 5:40 PM on May 12, 2010


hippybear: Yeah, I didn't mean to dismiss the efforts of those who've come before, by any means. An example of what I'm talking about is the efforts by property owners in the West Village in NYC to stop queer youth from socializing on the streets of the village. Now that they own the townhouses and have a lot of power in the city and the neighborhood, they're quick to try and stop the young people of color from using the neighborhood as the same kind of safe haven they once found there. These are some of the same people who were there during stonewall and they're now calling the cops on queer youth of color because they don't like having them in 'their' neighborhood.

I think the trend is toward political involvement up to the point that certain members (the rich white ones) of the community feel they've reached a safe spot, and then they start oppressing 'down' the line, something we see a lot - the oppressed becoming the oppressor. I don't buy the idea that just because someone is queer they're going to be politically aware, or that the marriage debate really qualifies as politically aware about the range of issues that these young people are involved in. I would bet you can find plenty of queer people who don't support the rights of the hotel workers, so I applaud those who are clever enough to see that GLBT issues and labor issues are part of the same struggle.
posted by jardinier at 5:59 PM on May 12, 2010


astrobiophysican: are you saying that because queer people aren't "interesting" to you they shouldn't have a voice or show solidarity with other minorities?

I don't understand the point you're trying to make.
posted by jardinier at 6:05 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


What a muddled mess. First a link from a 2002 article (hardly current news), and then the phrase "stop the young people of color from using the neighborhood" being used to link an article which actually is about young queers of ALL races seeking to rebuild a pier.

I can grok what you're trying to say, but I think you're saying it very clumsily. You've twice made statements about rich white queers treading upon the poor colored queers, but haven't really provided any quality evidence of this happening in any widespread way.

As for the connection between labor and LGBT issues, I can see the overlap, but unless your worldview is that "anytime someone is oppressed, everyone is included in the struggle", I think it's understandable that people compartmentalize a bit. There is a real danger for messages to become TOO mixed, watering down the point trying to be made. Effective demonstrations are those which have a clear focus -- witness the continuing confusion about the Tea Party message, which may be about race, or immigration, or taxes, or any number of things. The brilliance of ACT-UP in the 80s was that it eschewed most all other gay rights issues and spoke with a united voice about one thing. It was impossible to ignore, impossible to dismiss and quite effective, at least up until they started their infighting and confusing their issues (as most such organizations do as they age).

This particular action against SF hotels is well focussed and nicely targeted. Getting the out-of-towner Pride attendees to look at local labor issues and hopefully affect the bottom line of the properties to the point where they change their bad policies... That's fabulous. I think it's going to take more than a YouTube video to make that happen, and I wish them luck as they seek to increase awareness.
posted by hippybear at 6:20 PM on May 12, 2010


I ride the bus past this hotel every day on my way home from work. Every time there's a protest the traffic gets jammed up. When the traffic gets jammed up I miss my ferry so I have to wait for the next one, which adds another hour onto my 11-hour day. Consequently I'm less sympathetic to the protestors than I might have been when I got on the bus.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:27 PM on May 12, 2010


hippybear, you can learn more about the ongoing struggles of FIERCE by reading about the Save Our Space organizing platform and the rest of that site.

You can read more about the effects of gentrification in the west village on queer youth of color here, here, here, here, and here.

Sorry, I'm suffering from new yorker syndrome on this one where I assume that everyone knows about the issues that are well known here. My bad, I'll try to remember to take those goggles off next time.
posted by jardinier at 6:32 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


jardinier - my point was that the people dancing and shaming the hotel management will all be working as the oppressor hotel management in short order. My point is the irony inherent in the video. But since you ask - i'm glad to provide these adjacent points:

1) yes - it is a fact - being queer does not ipso facto make one interesting

2) anyone who claims to be the 'voice' of gays is trying to sell you snake oil. Everyone should have a voice - including people who are tired of hearing other people 'speaking' for them. That video - makes Queer people look like idiots - these fools do no one a favor in their Quest to Be Interesting.

3) If you want to show solidarity simply do it as what you are - A person. What does your being queer have to do with hotel wage negotiations? Absolutely nothing. Don't hide/pretend you represent some 'group' that you are speaking for. If I put up a website called black-woman.com does that mean I speak for black woman? No. Why does the LGBT tolerate such totalitarian tendencies?

4) Gays are not a minority in San Francisco. Judging from the number of people who tune into the superbowl every year I suspect if you count the ones in the closet they are not a minority at all.

5) While I am on my merry little rant - if you are not a Chinese Male - you are a minority. So pretty much everyone is a minority since - compared to everyone else - Chinese males are a minority!

The 'minority flag' is another boring flag. You can slice life anyway you want - it doesn't make you more special, oppressed or 'chosen' as the next guy/gal in line in life.

If you identify yourself as latino, or black, or white, or gay or straight - fine - facts are facts. Again - so what? My point here is wearing it like some sort of 'I'm special' badge means the person lacks imagination and probably isn't that interesting.

People who make YouTube videos trying to shame hotel managers end up working as hotel managers - it's the karmic justice of life.
posted by astrobiophysican at 6:40 PM on May 12, 2010


Wow, so many straw men I'm not sure which to burn first, so I choose.... none.
posted by jardinier at 6:48 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyone interested in booking a hotel that respects workers rights to organize and bargain collectively - check out the Hotel Worker's Rising Union Hotel Guide.
posted by jardinier at 6:50 PM on May 12, 2010


If you want to show solidarity simply do it as what you are - A person. What does your being queer have to do with hotel wage negotiations? Absolutely nothing. Don't hide/pretend you represent some 'group' that you are speaking for. If I put up a website called black-woman.com does that mean I speak for black woman? No. Why does the LGBT tolerate such totalitarian tendencies?

I'm not sure you understand the meaning of the world "solidarity" if you think it's something one can achieve solo. Similarly, your use of the world "totalitarian" is off-kilter, given that no Queer Edict was issued to make this protest compulsory.

Did you read the links? The aptly-named "here is why they are doing this" link included this nice, succinct explanation of what being gay has to do with hotel wage negotiations:
Queer activists put the song & dance together as a creative way to tell the hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ people from all over the country coming to San Francisco in June for Pride to honor the worker-called boycott.
Gays are not a minority in San Francisco.

Sure they are. A visible, vocal, frequently activist minority, but a minority nonetheless. 15.4% isn't even close to a majority.
posted by desuetude at 7:10 PM on May 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


According to this page (admittedly gathered from the 2000 census, so it's quite out of date), the ONLY group which isn't a minority in San Francisco are those of male gender. Every other group, including "white" come in under 50%.
posted by hippybear at 7:25 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


“The 'minority flag' is another boring flag. You can slice life anyway you want - it doesn't make you more special, oppressed or 'chosen' as the next guy/gal in line in life. ¶ If you identify yourself as latino, or black, or white, or gay or straight - fine - facts are facts. Again - so what? My point here is wearing it like some sort of 'I'm special' badge means the person lacks imagination and probably isn't that interesting. ”

(1) Nobody is wearing a "minority flag" in this video. Nobody's advertising the fact that they're part of the LGBTQ community during this protest. How is it you take from the video that this is a queer protest? Is it just the Lady Gaga? Because I have about three dozen straight friends who will punch you in the fact if you tell them they can't listen to her. And if someone's sexual orientation is so obvious to you when you look at their face that it seems like they're broadcasting it, well, let me assure you, the rest of us don't have this sort of gifted vision.

(2) Presuming this were an actually LGBTQ march... what is the problem with people celebrating what they are? How is it boring that I find the act of sticking my penis into another man's butt fascinating? How is it boring that I identify with other people in that community? Why do you care so much about it? Is it really insulting to you that people take an important part of who they are and make it public, sharing it with others?

(3) Are you aware that what you're saying is offensive to a lot of people who have spent decades fighting for the right to say "I'm queer" without losing their jobs and losing their children and having everything taken away from them? Would you tell someone in the NAACP that all that protesting is boring, that being black is just a boring fact of life, nothing special at all, and they should stop making a big deal about it? Seriously, I think you're just trying to be provocative here.
posted by koeselitz at 7:52 PM on May 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


and believe me, getting punched in the fact really, really hurts
posted by koeselitz at 8:24 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I appreciate this discussion.

desuetude - thank you for your thoughts - I know what solidarity is. And solidarity is never more than a collection of individuals committed to a cause. You can't 'make it' up by simply making a club and proclaim that you speak for everyone who wears a star on their belly. Otherwise, I would make a club called 'everyone in the world' and then we'd all support workers rights because I said so!

Proof will come Pride week. Spank my bottom wrong if these hotels aren't booked for it. We'll see how enlightened the loose community of narcissist that descend on SF for Pride week really are.

Finally, in a town where people are literally dying to be interesting, 15% of anything is a huge majority!

Koeselitz - the people who did this define their organizations by their sexuality - look at their sites.

1) Sooo, besides the fact that the protest was 'gay' in the teen-80s-pejorative sense of the word, it was also gay in the boring-2010-identity sense too.

2) No problem with people celebrating what they are. I am left handed. No one makes a parade for that. Thank god. You know why? Because it would be boring. So celebrate away!

How is it boring that I find the act of sticking my penis into another man's butt fascinating?

Koeselitz - you've said it all here. If you've ever told someone that you are LGBGTP or whatever - repeat that question like a mantra to yourself. Try and understand how someone might not be interested in where you put your peeper.

It may help to replace the mental image - there is surely a community of people out there that like to lick stamps. I'd like to hear from them for a change. Your penis is just not that interesting to me. You need to learn to be o.k. with me being bored with where you put your penis.

I care a lot about this because a day doesn't go by when I read some post or overhear some conversation on a passing cell phone where someone is desperately trying to persuade the world that this fact makes them interesting.

It's boring like baseball stats from the 1963 world series boring.

3) A lot of people have fought for decades to achieve exactly what I am presenting to you. You don't want to loose your job, your kids, or get punched in the face by the world when you say 'I'm Queer"? Then what you want is the world to yawn when you say it. I am offended by your offense to my boredom. The goal has always been to make it normal. And normal is... well, not interesting!

So there you go. I don' t think I'm the first to declare the beginning of the end days of the gay movement as having anywhere left to go. When the Parade ends it won't be with a bang - it will be with a yawn. And everyone will be free.

Seeing the migration of 'activist' from gay to labor issues seems further evidence that the war is basically over. Sure, there are still racist. Sure there are bigots. But guess what? You can now pool them all together as simply idiots and move on with your life.

Which brings me back to the sole reason I posted on this - to point out that this particular group of protesters will end up being 'the Man' once their parents stop footing their bills.
posted by astrobiophysican at 11:05 PM on May 12, 2010


Which brings me back to the sole reason I posted on this - to point out that this particular group of protesters will end up being 'the Man' once their parents stop footing their bills.

How useful that you are able to see into the future!
posted by wholebroad at 11:24 PM on May 12, 2010


I don' t think I'm the first to declare the beginning of the end days of the gay movement as having anywhere left to go.

You have to be fucking kidding me. You are offensively obtuse.
posted by kmz at 12:24 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


We're taking our honeymoon in California and my partner and I are researching union-supported hotels for our trip, thanks to this video.

In the 90s protests would only get press if the Black Bloc smashed windows. Now a protest can be fun and creative, not destroy anything, and have it's message received by hundreds of thousands.



And as an aside, I have had a number of friends randomly attacked on the streets of San Fran, LA, and San Bernadino, just for being "interesting enough", so fuck you very much for being so glib and dismissive.
posted by Theta States at 6:26 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Finally, in a town where people are literally dying to be interesting, 15% of anything is a huge majority!

Uh, no. Your snitty little example aside, 15% of anything is not a majority.

Seriously. You need a dictionary.
posted by desuetude at 6:36 AM on May 13, 2010


Seriously, this guy reeks of grumpy-aged-hipster.

"San Fransisco changed, Man! It used to be cool, back when I ruled the roost..."
posted by Theta States at 7:04 AM on May 13, 2010


> Seriously, I think you're just trying to be provocative here.

Gee, ya think?

DNFTT.
posted by languagehat at 7:55 AM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


astrobiophysican: “Which brings me back to the sole reason I posted on this - to point out that this particular group of protesters will end up being 'the Man' once their parents stop footing their bills.”

Well, you are the liberal arts major, right? I guess you would know.
posted by koeselitz at 8:00 AM on May 13, 2010


Seeing the migration of 'activist' from gay to labor issues seems further evidence that the war is basically over.

There have always been out gay activists in the labor movement. (And the women's movement and the anti-racist movement etc.) There are truckloads of out gay people - especially in a city like San Francisco - who are active in gay rights and labor and HIV and anti-homeless campaigns etc. yadda yadda. A lot of us work in many areas because a lot of us are members of many communities at once - we are gay, and we're also teachers, and we have HIV, and we are renters. Like that.

Which brings me back to the sole reason I posted on this - to point out that this particular group of protesters will end up being 'the Man' once their parents stop footing their bills.

This says way more about you than it does about them.

And the "gays are not a minority" in San Francisco? Perhaps you are partaking of some exquisite product from Humboldt county, but gays are absolutely, no way no how more than 50% or even 30% of SF's population. Nope. We perhaps make up 15% of the population.

Anyway. It's awful how bored you are with this. Makes me weep, it does.
posted by rtha at 10:19 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Flagging this entire thread because it's been so thoroughly derailed at this point it might as well not exist.
posted by spitefulcrow at 10:33 AM on May 13, 2010


. . . and all I wanted was to talk about time travel.
posted by KingEdRa at 10:42 AM on May 13, 2010


Aside from the trolling, there's some really interesting stuff being brought up here. There may be people who see this protest and assume that these are spoiled trust fund kids and should be ignored. But, that's not much of a problem, because I really don't think that's the audience they made the video for.

The video is targeted at GLBT consumers who are looking for hotels in SF for pride. I think it's going to be pretty successful at making those consumers think twice about which hotel they stay in - or at least look into the reasons why they might want to consider which hotel they stay in.

It's certainly threatening enough that the hotel lobby is posting comments on the YouTube video to try and argue the point.
posted by jardinier at 12:22 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Gays are not a minority in San Francisco.

Oh, honey.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:26 PM on May 13, 2010


i think when Jardinier says queer=interesting I think he means interesting to people who like to queer bash. like they did to that guy in america back in about 2002, and then phelps and westboro came along saying he deservered it, so was interesting to them too. that sort of interesting.
posted by marienbad at 12:41 PM on May 13, 2010


I still say being gay is boring - even if the Gaystopo threatens to hunt me down and punch me for saying so.
posted by astrobiophysican at 7:26 AM on May 18, 2010


No one gives a good goddam, astrobiophysican. Please give it a rest.
posted by cortex at 7:46 AM on May 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


What faction of people are going around proselytizing that "gay is not boring"? It's such an out-from-leftfield sort of accusation that it's truly puzzling.

Hell, starting in the early 90s gay people would go out of there way and actively try and convince people that they were often just as boring as everyone else: Looking after their kids, paying taxes, working long hours, etc etc etc.
posted by Theta States at 11:41 AM on May 18, 2010


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