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Lawrence Ferlinghetti Gold Dust Poem: Famed Writer Pens Ode To Save The Gold Dust Lounge

By Posted: 03/28/2012 8:38 pm Updated: 03/29/2012 2:31 pm

Lawrence Ferlinghetti Gold Dust

Ever since the Gold Dust Lounge received an unexpected eviction notice in January to make way for a new Express store, the people of San Francisco have fought tooth and nail to keep the swinging doors open.

In the past few months, efforts have included pubcrawls, documentaries, a column by the former Mayor Willie Brown and now, a poem by former San Francisco Poet Laureate Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

On Tuesday, the famed Beat poet and activist penned an ode to the embattled bar, calling out capitalism and the "electronic revolution" for bringing down the gems of San Francisco.

Western culture,
high and low,
the gold dust of the ages,
disappearing down
the drain
of the electronic revolution.
Save the Gold Dust!

In 2001, Ferlinghetti experienced a struggle similar to the Gold Dust's when his bookstore, City Lights, faced an unexpected eviction. Ferlinghetti saved the shop by gaining the coveted landmark status from the Historic Preservation Commission, making it nearly impossible to evict City Lights. The Gold Dust Lounge is attempting to do the same. The Commission is currently in a 3-3 deadlock on the issue and will meet again on April 4.

During the battle for City Lights, Ferlinghetti wrote a press release before the Commission hearing:

When I was named the first Poet Laureate of this left coast City in 1998, I expressed my astonishment and outrage at how San Francisco was fast becoming a playground for the rich and the witless — a Disneyfied mall for SUV drivers and “sell” phone addicts.
A developer from Michigan, Scott Seligman, who runs Sterling Bank and Seligman Western Enterprises, wants to gentrify the Mid-Market zone. Not to make the City a better place but to make his bank account a little fatter. He wants a better class of tenant. No more photographers or poets or translators or editors or painters. NO more small businesses serving the City. No more small nonprofits, like Streetside Stories, which publishes work by 650 middle school kids every year to foster a love of reading and writing.
It’s long past time for San Francisco — the people who live here and care about the place, the politicians, the small businesses, the kids who will inherit either a theme park or an exciting, urbane City — to stand up and stop the development juggernaut. Only developers who build for the City — and not against its people and values — should ever get a permit to do as much as change a screen door.

Considering City Lights was a cornerstone of the San Francisco counterculture and ground zero for the national Beat movement, comparing its struggle to that of the Gold Dust Lounge might be a bit of a stretch.

But here at HuffPost SF, we will always toast to saving iconic San Francisco businesses from death by chain store. So cheers to the Gold Dust Lounge!


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Filed by Robin Wilkey  |