Monday, May 09, 2016
Burger King Classic Aggression
Walking home from the Civic Center Farmers' Market a couple of Sundays ago, I heard a Mozart string quintet being blasted from what sounded like a boombox, a surrealistic musical choice for the location. This was at the corner of 8th & Market and Grove & Larkin where a Burger King presides over a BART/Muni escalator and set of stairs that is usually surrounded by an open-air drug market, mentally ill street people acting out, and vendors selling stolen goods from the sidewalk.
The sound turned out to be coming from small speakers mounted on the Burger King building in a deliberate effort to drive away the usual crowd by playing loud classical chamber music.
As you can see, the tactic worked. The corner was completely empty on Sunday morning of its usual denizens and continues to be so two weeks later.
Using classical music as a tool for gentrification leaves me ambivalent. On the one hand, I love hearing the music itself while coming up the escalator from the BART/Muni station, and it's pleasant being able to walk up Grove Street without gingerly avoiding crazy people. On the other hand, using classical music as a weapon feels all wrong. It will be interesting to watch and listen how this plays out.