“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.”
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.