Alien-girl graffiti in San Francisco.

I saw this graffiti in San Francisco a couple of months ago. The woman got a little alien implanted in her forehead — Google Glass of the future? Or perhaps body mod as witch’s familiar. I’m not sure why her mouth is dripping blood. Maybe it’s… dystopian pudding. Yes, pudding. Not blood at all! Not even slightly sinister!

I grew up in the Bay Area. It seems normal to me. Even though I’d read that San Francisco’s levels of inequality were comparable to Third World countries, the reality didn’t hit home until I was on a date in the city with my boyfriend. We were walking through the financial district and he said, “San Francisco is so cyberpunk.”

“What do you mean?”

He pointed out the animated software ads wrapped around bus shelters and glowing on the sides of buildings. He reminded me that the streets smelled of urine and we were passing homeless people wrapped in rags. Sleeping on the damp sidewalk. Meanwhile, money churned in and out of Silicon Valley’s sister city.

Extreme elements, juxtaposed. A wealth of desperation next to desperation for wealth. Welcome to twenty-first-century capitalism!

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