“If you want to be a singer-songwriter, all you have to do is get into a relationship where you like the person a lot more than they like you,” said comedienne Margaret Cho from Amnesia’s stage on Monday night.

By Cho’s logic, American Apparel should become a singer-songwriter, and the lyrics to the company’s song would lament the lack of love coming from the Mission District.

More than 100 Mission residents and Mission admirers crammed into the bar to rally against the company’s bid to open shop on Valencia Street. Organizer Stephen Elliott pulled the event together to urge people to show support for the cause at Thursday’s planning commission hearing.

“There’s no way the planning commission is going to approve American Apparel if this many people come out to the hearing,” Elliott said to the crowd between performers. But not all in the crowd towed the line.

Before Oakland writer Daniel Alarcon read a story from the stage, he commended the company’s stance on immigration.

“They stand up for Latinos,” he said. “Nobody stands up for Latinos.”

Still, Alarcon said he was against chains.

Earlier in the day, some merchants and others on Valencia expressed support for American Apparel, or confusion over why everyone was so upset. “There’s a lot of yuppie stores so I don’t know why people are upset about another one,” said Haris Mesic, 21, who works for the 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu gym across from Valencia Gardens. “They should have been upset a couple of years ago when all these local people were getting closed up.”

Jarlath Thomas O’Connor, who has owned Harrington’s for decades, added: “I’m not a block and tackle man. I came in here with a few pieces of furniture in 1971 and no one blocked me. If they don’t do it right, they’ll end up like Mervyns and Sears.”

Jen Burke Anderson, 40, typed a letter in opposition to the opening of American Apparel on Valencia Street.

But the comediennes, poets, musicians and other writers at Amnesia focused on their campaign and performed for about two hours before a crowd that heard about the event through business email lists, posters and friendships. People typed letters to city planners and supervisors on one of Mission resident Hiya Swanhuyser’s four typewriters (a small selection from her home collection).

“This is a real community hub,” said Amnesia owner Shawn Magee as he mixed a cherry-flavored martini. “That’s what I’ve always wanted it to be and that’s exactly what American Apparel won’t be.”

Lydia Chávez contributed to this story.

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Founder/Executive Editor. I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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  1. There is a lot more than 100 people in the Mission that would want more business and foot traffic in the area. Cherry-flavored martinis and typewriters? This feels more like the protest du jour for those looking for something to do in the area. It’s amazing how the displacers are using a store that hasn’t even opened to throw parties and make some money and political capital especially after getting rid of all of the local businesses that came before. If only the MAC meetings were as cool as these drunken typewriter festivals, maybe Margaret Cho would have shown up to one of them.

  2. I love Alarcon! As a writer, not an activist. He, like so many others, point out to the good things AA does before saying he opposes it on random principle. What about the fact that AA seems to provide a model for other American companies, showing a way that you don’t have to be evil, you don’t have to put your factories across the border, you can be American and pro-immigrant, etc?

    1. Thank you. Word press Gaztette Edition, but our multimedia maven has done a lot of tweaking, lc

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