We Built This City.

Dear Starship,

It has come to my attention that in addition to having written, recorded, produced and foisted off on an unwary public a song so appalling as to be voted the worst ever, according to Blender magazine, you are also grossly negligent in terms of historical fact.

This travesty of a song is actually about San Francisco, a city which was, patently, not built on Rock and Roll. In fact, there was a Native settlement there first of all. But the Yelamu were really not known for city building. Nor, actually, for Rock and Roll.

The first Europeans to settle there were Spanish, so perhaps the city could have been built on Flamenco. Notice how the city is named after Saint Francis, and not Jimmy Page. This is an important clue telling us that San Francisco was not, I repeat, not built on Rock and Roll.

The California Gold Rush in 1848 also caused a huge building boom, so perhaps it was built on hurdy-gurdy piano music, or maybe a lonely banjo. Incidentally, the city’s infrastructure could not hold up to the swelling population in the 1850’s, causing sanitation-related problems, such as a cholera epidemic. Apparently, a ship from China came into port there with plague-carrying rats, so perhaps the city was built on highly infections diseases. But not Rock and Roll.

But the great fire in 1906 razed the city, and so any building before this time is, essentially, moot.

After the Great Fire, San Fran was rebuilt quickly. Not on Rock and Roll, but on the San Andreas Fault. Not that it wasn’t there earlier, but, um, an earthquake just reduced your city to rubble, shouldn’t you move?

Of course, there was the Sixties counterculture thing, with Haight-Ashbury and this is when Rock and Roll comes into play. Jefferson Airplane (you remember being them, don’t you?) and the Grateful Dead were among the big musical acts around there. But that was just one faction of Rock and Roll at that time. You built the city on a sub-genre. But were you building the city on a sub-genre of Rock and Roll, or were you building it on tie-dye, brown rice, squalid, crowded apartments and hash brownies? Hmm?

Were you even building, or were you going to love-ins where Lawrence Ferlinghetti was talking about opening a cool bookstore where people could play chess if they wanted? Were you building, or were you paving the way for the strong gay presence? Were you even building at all?

I think not. You did not Build This City on Rock and Roll.

2 Comments to “We Built This City.”

  1. By cheesefairy, November 10, 2005 @ 7:40 am

    did you ever hear the doctored version of that song back when it was on the radio? I think it was LG73 in Vancouver who changed the radio-announcer bit in the middle to be Vancouver-specific…quite cringe-worthy.

  2. By Liz, November 10, 2005 @ 1:28 pm

    I don’t seem to remember it. I’m pretty sure I heard it, because those were my prime LG73-listening days. I suppose I can be thankful, huh?

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