Issue 20 : Spring 2011









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Dr. Yes and the Mystery of the Mission (The Final Chapter)

by David Cox

15 Feb 2011


he film projector whirred away as the 16mm footage projected onto the wall at 992 Masonic.

Dr Yes watched as his father spoke on the screen, the scratches and lines of forty year old Kodachrome popped and hissed the exciter lamp. The young faced hippy held up objects one after the other, all laid out on an ornate rug in front of him. Naked women walked casually in and out of frame in the background. The film he was watching had been taken in November 1970.

"This is a glass sphere, symbol to me of the fragile earth and our need to keep its operations clear and transparent"

Yes watched.

"Transparent. Would that the ways of people and systems of government were as clear and easy to fathom as this simple, beautiful object" Dr Yes looked down at his cane. The sphere atop it. His father on the screen took the ball and placed it atop a cane. The same one Yes now held in his hand.

"This sphere will let you see the future. Write with the pen concealed here inside the cane and what you write will appear as a scene with the ball"

The figure of on the screen of his father wrote "let me see my son 40 years from now". At that moment Dr Yes appeared in the ball, on the screen as he now appeared in real life.

Then he saw himself as a seven year old boy appear within the frame. The boy looked at the ball on the cane.

"Who's that Daddy?" said the boy.

"Its you my dear. In forty years from now".


Dr Yes walked to the Golden Gate bridge and remembered the moment when Quetzalcoatl had laid waste to King Yupporah, and in theory at least, rendered the city finally free from the incursions of the private sector, once again delivering it into the hands of its rightful inheritors. The free of spirit. The open minded, libertarian whose legacy was enshrined in the values of the Diggers, the Yippies and the Black Power movement.

All the bohemians and all the creative people who he had known here. So many of them having left no trace of what had once been a vibrant and tangible presence. For some the prospect of making furtive inquiries into that creative life in retrospect had been simply temporary. A lifestyle choice, like what type of clothes to wear or what type of food to eat. They had come and gone and miraculously, appeared then not to care about the significance of what their passage through time might hold. No sense of time-passing. No sense of the gravity of events. Just casually living the moment as if no other thing mattered but the moment.

What was the injunction that the death of King Yupporah had made palpable? What was that that had been defeated? What had been Quetzalcoatl's point in sealing the moment the way he had done, there above 24th & Mission streets?


Quetzalcoatl, the winged serpent had come to remind the city of its obligations. To hold the entire population to its initial promise, born way before any declarations of independence. The shared unified compact that had unified native and colonialist alike. To live in a way consistent with the promises made back when societies were forming. To live up to the prophesies communities told themselves. To not exclude. To not privatize. To hold certain truths as self-evident.

To guarantee all who came to the city a meaningful role to play. To ensure they had all they needed in terms of basic creative and human requirements. Shelter, food, company. Romantic destiny and purpose. Venues for creative expression and an opportunity to contribute to the local community. To not blow off people who came to San Francisco in search of that which they rightfully laid a claim to as theirs. The act of arrival in the city was the guarantee by this constant wave of artists that they would transform the city in their image and in doing so agree to be changed by it accordingly.

This was the Mystery of the Mission. This was the true purpose of the ancient message of the winged serpent. All who come here shall transform and be transformed. All who come here will drink from the ancient cup of community and issue forth golden coins of virtue and creative contribution. Those who arrive will give and will not take. Those who take more than they give will pay the price of community irrelevance. They shall be canceled out.


King Yupporah was the yuppie force of indifferent privatization. It was the aloof conceit of a million carpetbagging history-less, clueless speculators, concerned with returns on investment more than the welfare of their fellow San Franciscans. Yupporah was the embodiment of that which the heroes like Kevin Keating had once identified as The Problem. Had not "Vandalize yuppie cars!" been the 1990s injunction to snipe the beast between the eyes lest it corrupt the body politic and rob it of its meaning and its legacy? Was not today the saintly Australian Melbourne figure of Julian Assange another triumph of the inherent moral pinnacle of Truth? Had not Wikileaks shown that transparency and an open model of peer to peer file exchange and complete openness in government and in communications, the only workable model for any meaningful democracy? One in which people actually contributed and participated in the running of their affairs? Were not the revolutions in Tunisia and in Egypt the logical answer to decades of uninterrupted corrupt tyranny underwritten and buttressed by western authority? The world was killing its Yupporah beasts with regularity. A million Quetzals came to rescue the oppressed from the shackles of boredom and corporate indifference. The Mission battle had been the beginning.

Yupporah was pure blow-off energy concentrated. Quetzalcoatl was the mythical and ancient Indian anti Blow-off philosophy.


Yes remembered his own life's great blow-offs. Those moments when a lover or friend had on what had at the time appeared no more than a whim to have revoked affection. Those awkward silences in which affection, swiftly withdrawn had been replaced with the cool indifference of the friend with second thoughts. When fair weather had given to a wintry distance in the eyes of those he had just the night before looked into and seen an ocean of promise, warmth and honesty.

So called former friends who had taken up with new lovers, who armed with some private shared emotional template, carved up the social horizon to now exclude once trusted, yearned-for and needed companions. The weighty feel of a good friend, exposed now as a phantasmal hologram, as vaporous and nebulous as mirage on the horizon of the desert of the real. How the crash of the economy was echoed in these illusions that had once had solidity, whose weight had creaked the floorboards and whose pelvises had joined his own in unions of rhythmic happy orgasm.

The great blow-offs of life had taught him about the ultimate provisional quality of love. The tentative and ultimately unsound nature of the human heart. The fickleness of passion, that which felt owned and paid for, revealed as a mere leased holding. Or worse, a mere hired occasion. Deregulation had put paid to any long-term obligation on the part of whole communities to ensure their members any emotional and material security. Yupporah had been the embodiment of this non-person-hood. The sub prime crisis of the former friend had robbed so many of their sense of security.


Yupporah, milky and sinuous in its promises of promotion and more money and more consumer electronics and luxury goods had finally revealed itself as the monstrous effigy of the regulated subject - selfish ambition and pointless economic aspiration as walking, aggregated tumescent conceit. It was all things mercurial, professional, slick and privatized in the western world. It was the elegant wafting smoothness of the elites of the arts. It was the effortless and Teflon arrogance of the powerful class-in-control. It was the neoliberal with an overpriced coffee who felt better now that a percentage of the price of that coffee now 'helped pay for education of this child in the third world'. It was the hypocracy of of the 'tolerant' educated ones whose thinly veiled contempt for the population lay half-veiled behind a veneer of 'wanting to hear your story'. It was the conservative face of a population that no longer wanted a proletariat and would have happily agreed to a sit/lie provision excluding all but themselves. All sidewalks were private. All but the wealthy were to be made to feel unwelcome. When Yupporah came down, so did this obsolete ideology. New things were possible, new ways of thinking, of getting up in the morning. And the liberal reformists had no place in this re-imagined, reclaimed utopia of the possible. The situationists had written the script. The diggers had acted out the play. Now real life was claiming liberty as its own to inhabit. And Dr Yes had been there to see it come to pass through the filter of his cane-top predictor.

A single bullet had brought Yupporah down. A bullet of genuine community need. A Mexican man who had no papers, no official status in the country that had once been his own, who had seen his family burned in the fires of the real-estate man's deliberately lit insure-and-burn. No papers. But a Draganov high powered sniper rifle. The same sort that the racists of Arizona were encouraging their members to stock up on.

The sniper's shell finding its mark at that point where on where Yupporah was most vulnerable: its self-confidence as the only model on offer in life, culture and society. The only model on offer in the papers. On TV. On the mediated web. On 'social' media. The only model on offer everywhere you looked.


Balkanized into individuated camps of privatized isolation, almost everyone in the western hemisphere,by the end of the 1990s, had been made to view themselves as the mainstream had categorized them. Reduced to demographic sub-categories, as Zizek had pointed out, we had all been forced to "behave as if we were free";behave as if our lives indeed had meaning. As if the choices we made at the store had any bearing at all on the imbalance of power. As if the charity and giving and donations could, somehow. as part of the price built into the commodity, absolve us from the guilt-by-association in a grossly unjust system of global economics.

'9/11' and the great crash had bookended the last decade, and had all but hammered in the final nail in the coffin of the great universal global commons. The economy in ruins, the world ablaze with uprisings, tyranny now the norm, capitalism and authoritarianism one and the same. A global China of undisputed hierarchical unquestioned domination. Cloning and bio-weapons on the rise. The militarization of space in fast forward. The world a giant security checkpoint, manned by vicious menacing authorities, bristling with sensors, all data uploaded to the cloud. The Dark Web concealing all transgressions.


The very reason why people had converged on San Francisco since world war two in Yes' mind had itself been privatized and turned into a themed, packaged hideous parody of itself. As if Disney and Lucas and Google and all the rest had taken the great myth of Liberty, that great promise of a life of creative purpose, sucked the essence of truth from it, and replaced this with an ersatz gas of commodified anti-truth. A vacuum of meaning. The streets had looked the same, the buildings intact, but the Neutron bomb of globalization had robbed society of its actual self-driving purpose. In its place drones had walked the streets. Facebooked away from friends, Googled away from learning. Public relations and advertising now completely dominated cultural life. Education a sick parody of its former self, a streaming mechanism into predetermined gated communities of privilege for the over-one-hundred-thousand-a-year elites. Nothing was created that was not sponsored. Nothing offered that was from a human soul something that could not ultimately meet the needs of shareholders first, everyone else last.

Against these empty hollow men, were the ones Yes had truly loved. They had come to him back then in his mind as they had appeared to him back in the early 1990s. Young women filled with anxiety and uncertainty about who they were, needing reassurance as to their validity and sense of self-worth. He had been keen to assure them and had been keen to play the role of the Advisor from Elsewhere. They had been close to him. He could remember the smell of their hair. The touch of their hands upon his. The fingers clasping his. The way the smooth skin of thighs gave way from the cold of the top of the leg to the hot warmth of the softer inner thigh, and the hairy super-soft moisture of the space between the legs. This uncanny falling away of the soul into the greatness of universe expressed thus as casual, happy encounters. These were the unassailable friends of a more truthful time. A genuine moment of happy possibility. A time when technology and art and playfulness fused with a city defined by possibility. A rakish, furtive city, with more questions than answers. The divine masses from the world and from the red states converging to create an oasis of creative intensity and erotic open wet promise.


There was the half-remembered feeling of tears against his neck as a crying head shook and spoke muffled words of regret. Of anxiety. Of fear. Of happiness and of anger. The shadows then had lengthened in the November winter of a thousand Valencia street cafes. A hundred small galleries in people's living rooms. At small galleries where windows showed installations and video monitors played loops of found footage. Where cheap wine and sixteen millimeter and super VHS tapes played all night as lovers loved, friends joined to watch the dancing patterns on the wall. Puppet shows. Small gatherings, sudden laughter. Collage and cut and paste nights. Optical printers had clicked away frame by frame. Animation stands had sported puppets and sets and lights. Bolexes had been wound. Video footage had captured moments of furtive youthful embarrassment. Streaks of light had moved across the viewfinder as the lens caught a light source. Pixelvisions had caught the moment of confession. Found footage had joined super 8 in screenings of rooms filled with smoke and identity politics. These were times in which no Internet yet permeated human interaction. These were days of salsa and beer. These were the ancient forgotten ruins of a Mission district that had gone and could never be recovered. Until now.

He had held his lovers close as the late night television flickered, the only source of light in the many rented share houses. As mariachi music played outside and gangster rap thudded in passing low rider cars. He had joined his lovers in a coalition of doubt. That special kind of doubt that a global deregulated economy, a rapidly expanding computer revolution and a good supply of soft drugs had made palpable. These were the long dreams of youth, these were the doubts of a generation who had grown used to nothing but doubt. These were fumblings of his generation who knew not where they were going. Who knew not what job security was. Who knew not what was expected of them or anyone else. That there was only the Mission. There was only media. There was only one big burrito to eat.

What could we call these fragmentary memories of obsolete intimacy? What was he to do with these half-remembered moments of sex and drink and laughter and sadness? What now to do with a belle epoch, whose promise now long dashed by 9/11 and another ten years of tyranny and oppression on a scale few could have imagined?


The sniper had made his point. The wealthy had no right to be here. They had long since given up their claims to legitimacy. No trust fund could ever ensure a meaningful daily creative life. No supply of inherited money could stand in for a genuinely authentic creative reason to walk these streets. Every cash advance rang hollow. Every phone call to Mom and Dad back East for another thousand dollars undermined the life it was supposed to subsidize.

The wealthy could no longer lay a simple claim to the city by virtue of their largess alone. A higher price had to be paid. The only people who could legitimately lay a claim to the city of San Francisco were those with a direct emotional stake in its cultural, political and and creative future. The winged serpent had proven that, by so summarily disposing of the milky white King Yupporah monster that had tried to colonize San Francisco by making it an annexe of Silicon Valley and of private control and domination. No Googleplex Frisco. No Disney Frisco. No Facebook Frisco. No 'we accept Visa' Frisco. These ghosts of the past still danced around him. His 1990s lovers. His 1960s father, whose image persisted on the screen long after the take up reel spun around and around, the projector gate clear of film.


The warmth of his true, honest-to-god friends. The weight of their journals in his hands as he had turned the pages. Dense sketches, painful confessions, honest truths in moleskin books penned with ink and with pencil and with clippings and flattened object like leaves and candy wrappers and MUNI tickets and photographs taken in photo-me booths. The pretensions, stupid declarations of impotent incompetent self-indulgence. The trust-fund whiners, he loved them despite it all. He loved their clumsy gestures of doubt. He saw himself when he looked into their eyes. When he tasted their tongues, he felt the slippery endless continuity of his own story in that ultimate fusion of mouths that was a unified expression of shared alienation and hopefulness.

Now coffee smells and pot melded with the alcohol breath of the sad lover as her sweater arm wrapped itself around his neck before the 'we'll soon fuck' first kiss of passion and tongue secured the ancient message. The sperm and warmth of a wetter than wet hole fusing in a sense of future and past combined. The springs had been pressed into service. The juices had flowed. The relaxations of a thousand cold mornings opening as wide as the Bay windows onto busy Mission streets where pedestrians and mopeds buzzed through on their way to new parties and new encounters. It had been an endless summer, this beautiful Mission. And he had felt himself at the core of its internal Utopian engine.


Dr Yes was now awash in a non-time, a non space where all of his memories and all of his passions were playing themselves out. The geometric visions had subsided now. The triangles, and pentagons, the polyhedral primitive shapes of light now clearing to reveal the complex clouds and beyond them countless stars and dense swirling galaxies. Out there was Halley's Comet, one day soon to return as it done recently. 1988 a time of great celebration. The doubloon from Mission Delores had tried to scare the natives into believing their guardian would turn against them. But the cosmic culture-jam had turned the argument around, so that the colonizing force, in its aim to purge the undesirable local population had instead invoked forces that would lead to its own destruction!

He thought of Sharon's film collection, now stored in the basement at 992 Masonic. Each can a frozen sample of a decade past. Each one a concentrated dense nugget of a corporate argument, and educational agenda. She had woven these individual fabrics into a new argument, one that had exposed the forcefulness of the original argument into a new one, more provisional in its mode of inquiry. Her skill at doing this had earned her the right to lay a claim to a new identity as Worthy Film Maker. She had joined that group ordained to speak on behalf of the broader population. She had become a creative subject.

The city seen from the bridge. Halfway across now. He stood. Both hands on the cane. His cape billowed in the wind. For a moment all was calm.

He looked up, he closed his eyes. And let the sun's warmth consume him.

It was over.

Dr Yes was written in 10 chapters by David Cox.

CC 2011