Monday, February 9, 2009

Now My Pants Are Chafing Me

One of the articles of faith of the typical SF progressive is a hostility against "chain stores" (shudder). I won't bore you with the details. If you've ever heard someone knock Wal-Mart, you'll know the basic story. The funny thing is, despite all the self-righteous drama, San Francisco is still filled with Starbucks and McDonalds (but no Home Depot. Take THAT, Great Combine!), so it's mostly an ineffectual exercise. 

Stil, every once in a while a "chain" will try to enter a neighborhood and, for whatever reason, the neighborhood will go crazy with petitions and angry town hall meetings. The latest is American Apparel's attempt to open a store on Valencia Street. A/A would seem to be a perfect fit for San Francisco. It has a retro sweaty-funky vibe, and its clothes look cute on some of SF's more waif-like residents. But, the folks on Valencia Street (an unremarkable thoroughfare with the usual mix of bead shops, taverns, taquerias, and used bookstores) decided that this would not do. And, so the drama began. You can read a snarky story about the controversy here.

Now, normally I like to make fun of this sort of thing. But, this time the progressive NIMBY'S got one right, even if inadvertently. A/A is simply not an admirable company. CEO Dov Charney is, to put it nicely, a sleazeball. But, he is a smart sleazeball who knows that the proper mix of hipster cool, sex, and ostentatious progressivism will cover a multitude of sins. And he needs the cover. A/A has been slapped with numerous sexual harassment suits, most aimed at the CEO himself. The company has also engaged in a series of accounting "irregularities" that led to the resignation of the CFO. The place has a distinct ZZZZ Best-ian odor to it. 

Mostly, though, Charney is a type who is easily found in the progressive community; an alpha dog who mouths progressive platitudes to get laid and get rich. SF has enough of these guys already. Valencia Street doesn't need to do him any other favors. 

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