Shred of Dignity Skaters Union, ca. 1989

(Please note that this is my first HTML document, written in 1993. The images were input with a hand scanner, from color photographs. The layout has become rather bizarre. I added a real HTML < head > in 1997. Updated in 1999 and again in 2020. -- tomj)

Shred (as it was known) was the name of our general-purpose skaters' (as in skateboard) union. We first formed to fight a proposed ban of skateboards from San Francisco (seriously). Duke made up the name, as a triple-entendre/pun, originally to be a gay skateboarders group. No I won't explain it. We ended up expanding into decidedly non-skate things: barbeques, organized political rallies, zine publishing, Hit'N'Run shows, experimental housing. We also put on a bunch of HOMOCORE shows, and all of the FUGAZI shows in the SF area (though I doubt we'll do another one).

Here is the front of our house, 164 Shipley, which was in the back alley. We moved here in January 1986? Shipley was two blocks long; we lived in the respectable half. Old folks from the Salvation Army home across the street got mugged a lot, but the other block had street sex, drug deals and the annual dead body. There was essentially permanent construction on Shipley, part of the "Yerba Buena Redevelopment" project, a local boondoggle. Shipley was just a barrel of laughs. Here is my previous nice car, my 1970 AMC Hornet, covered in sperm(s). (It was a big rubber stamp made for the occasion.) Notice the open door. This usually isn't a good idea. More than once we had really unpleasant people walk in unannounced, one of whom stumbled in stinking and crazy, asking everyone "do you want to play?".

164 Shipley was a scroungy warehouse. Our portion was 22 feet wide, 19 high, and 60 feet long. This is what you saw when you went in the open door like some bum off the street, after passing through the front room, which really wasn't a room but the big open space where we made stuff. The place was designed like a rabbit warren (we actually used that phrase). We built it out ourselves (including the loft, stairs, kitchen, etc you see here). All except the floor right above the kitchen here was scrounged. I carried eight-four 20-foot lengths of 2x6 tongue-and-groove floorboard on a roofrack on my Hornet. The wood was stripped out of demolished buildings on the site of what is now the "South Bay" area of San Fransicko, about First and Brannan, which were punk squats towards the end.

Here's the kitchen, behind the eating counter in the previous picture. Note we have a theme here: dumpster. We carried in the most worthless shit off the street, even we had a hard time believing it. We were relentless dumpster divers. Note the lovely kitchen shark. it was painted with a roller. The whole place was painted with $2.00 a gallon paint. (Notice the prototype sperms stamped on the washing machine.)

It is hard to recall how many people lived here, from 86 through when we moved out in summer of 90. We were pretty a project-oriented household; we put on shows, skateboard events, Hit'N'Run music events, weekly semi-public dinners, zine publishing (HOMOCORE, plus peripherally PAVEMENT OF SURFACE, SHRED OF DIGNITY SKATERS' UNION RAGAZINE, WARNING, others), I lived off Fido Software during this time, we did organizing and sound and lights for lots of political events (and attended some notorious ones like the Gulf War, the incredibly stupid big skinhead rally in Napa. Hernan had his sound equipment, Duke had his contractor tools, me, computers of course. Valerie, Greta, Dave, Hernan, Sharon, Shawn, Bambi, Jane, Lisa Mud, Will... #ask val & gret for more names# We usually had 5 or 6 people officially living there at one time, plus we had dozens of houseguests, bands, etc. In this picture we're collating some damn thing on the kitchen counter.

The view of the big room, from the zine table/Fido Software. Hernan is sitting about 10 feet off to the left; about 10 feet to the right is the kitchen.) Greta slounging on the grimy couch dragged in off the street, Deke probably working on some damn zine and drinking the characteristic JOLT cola. You can't see it, but the "coffee table" Greta has her feet on is a 6 foot long, three inch chunk of Lexan. Our neighbors in this building were Shitty Plastics ("City Plastics is Plastic City" was their slogan, no shit), who moved out. So we burrowed in through the walls, and hung out, skated, and took huge amounts of plastic they had left behind (really). It also got squatted.

Dave and Valerie sitting around in the kitchen.

This was a cool thing put up high on the wall when we first moved in. Probably if we were into painting, we would have left it alone. It sits up high above where Greta is sitting in a previous picture.

OH NO EARTHQUAKE!!! Where were *you* during the SF quake? (I was in Olympia Washington visiting my boyfriend Michael, and missed it all! Boo hoo!) The scumsucking landlord, Mr. Chips (whatever his name was), thought he pulled a fast one, and had the building RED TAGGED (meaning: unsafe vacate immediately) 90 days after the deadline for such things. The building was fine. Boy did he make a big mistake! Mr. Chips always thought we were just a bunch of dirtbags. Fool! Duke is a structural engineer (and hilariously, pretty much single handedly designed and constructed the City's quake-damage database!), most of us have done construction-like things, we're all super media savvy, we all write, photograph, and essentially do communications as part of our lives... It took 11 months, the most grueling thing we ever did, and basically wrecked our household. We had a great lawyer though; Marilyn Kalman of Bayside Legal (tenants rights advocates who win a lot). We did daily press kits to TV, radio and the papers, and ultimately got 120 seconds at the top of the local news, with us talking calmly, the landlord refusing to talk to reporters. We pulled a few stunts which got us more publicity. Since we were basically a bunch of punk engineers, we did some rather elaborate props like the giant rooftop unfurling banner visible for blocks. It helps that the landlord was actually a total scumbag, third-generation rich scum, an actual yuppie, daddy got tired of him doing nothing but sailing (young Tom regaling us with his sailing stories... yawn) and gave him a building to manage. Mistake! When we were through, we left him some time bombs, in the form of registered housing in a city database that he'll probably run into when he goes to put up a highrise or something.

First, after Mr. Richy Rich got the first floor tenants out in front, and boarded it up (to make it look "dangerous") we used the opportunity to say a few words (The little picture above is kinda lousy, sorry, the big one is much clearer). HINT: Always do such things on a Friday afternoon, when it's too late to get a crew to repaint, so it sits over the weekend at least.

Greta and I made this thing out of some old sheets, and unfurled it off the roof, 40 feet over the street. This got on TV. Again, the weekend angle. Plus commuters saw it Friday afternoon on their way home, in time to see it on TV.

Oh that earthquake was a lot of fun! Here I am on 6th Street, aka Wine Country, about Howard Street. Some old wino hotel is getting wrecked behind me. And I missed it all!

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