In the late 70s, John Roberts was a visual arts major at San Francisco's Institute of Art who spent his free time documenting the Bay Area's blossoming punk scene. His photos—a mix of street photography, portraiture, and concert shots—uniquely captured the last moments of the city's pre-AIDS and post-hippie era. Roberts's best shots were from a tiny punk venue called the Deaf Club on Valencia Street. The Deaf Club was a deaf community center that hosted hardcore shows from 1978 to 1980—the resulting scene was grungy, sweaty, and truly bizarre, and Roberts's photos captured it perfectly.
How Parks and Recreation Took Aim at Silicon Valley (Laura Hudson at Wired):
"Over the course of the season, Leslie remarks on how the character of the town has morphed since the arrival of Gryzzl, with juice bars, yoga studios, and pet hotels popping up across Pawnee. “Everything has changed. This town is going to be unrecognizable in 10 years,” she says wistfully. One episode revolves entirely around trying to save their perennial waffle hangout J.J.’s Diner; thanks to the surging housing market, the property has been bought out by a perfume magnate who plans to flip it for profit.[more inside]
"If that sounds reminiscent of the housing crisis that’s currently plaguing San Francisco—and displacing large numbers of long-time residents—it should. Rental prices in the tech hub city are currently in the highest the nation, with the median price of a one-bedroom apartment hovering at more than $3,400 a month. Meanwhile, local establishments like the Lexington Club (the J.J.’s Diner of lesbian bars) are getting sold to new owners."
A San Francisco deputy public defender was handcuffed and arrested at the Hall of Justice after she objected to city police officers questioning her client outside a courtroom, an incident that her office called outrageous and police officials defended as appropriate. [more inside]
A lovely meditation / photo essay about California's Yerba Buena Island.
Dérive is a smartphone app inspired by the Situationists that encourages you to wander your city. You can use the general deck, use one for Abu Dhabi, Biella, Ithaca, Johannesburg, Kampala, New York City, Paris or San Francisco, or make your own
A nineteenth century gold rusher built a fortune, lost it all, then declared himself Emperor of the United States — and got all of San Francisco to play along.
"The Dead Outnumber The Living is a mix between a “choose your own adventure” book and a classic text-based video game, going beyond the typical choose-your-own-adventure theme by providing a vast amount of pathways, dynamic content, story clues, and a few puzzles to solve." [more inside]
Queens vs. the Machine - a look at nearly two centuries of drag culture in San Francisco and how it survives in today's tech economy.
South African artist and activist Gabrielle Le Roux is in San Francisco for the first time to show the "Proudly African & Transgender" portrait and story series she co-created with trans* activists from Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya in 2008, together with a selection of portraits from the "Proudly Trans* in Turkey" collaboration with eighteen trans* activists from across Turkey. The portraits and stories will show at the SF LGBT Center at the invitation of the Queer Cultural Center and SFSU Sociology Dept. Galería de La Raza will be showing the 18 part video installation of the Proudly Trans* in Turkey exhibition, through which trans* activists from across Turkey explore the issues they want to discuss on film. [more inside]
A Property Rights Dispute at a Playground in San Francisco “It’s 6:55 and the homies are playing. They [the permit guys] are waiting for the field at 7. It’s about to go down.” An interesting standoff between neighborhood kids with an ad hoc system for everyone to use the playground, and a team of folks in Dropbox jerseys who have obtained a permit for exclusive use of the space.
S.F. inventor hopes to dress for success with 1-piece suit
Local developer Jesse Herzog has solved a problem most of us didn’t know we had. It’s kind of a trend with him. Simply put, Herzog has created an alternative to the tired old hoodie-and-jeans look that permeates the lofts and startups of San Francisco techie culture. It is — wait for it — the "suitsy." The suitsy is a pair of dress pants, a nice white shirt and jacket ... all sewn together. You step into it like a pair of mechanic’s coveralls, zip up the hidden zipper, and voila — you’re dressed for success.
You know how people say it’s a fine line between genius and crazy?
Bargeloads of art and exhibit materials have been going out to the former prison island of Alcatraz recently, all for an imprisonment- and human rights- and freedom of expression-themed exhibit by Chinese activist dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who designed and directed the installation while remaining under detention in Beijing. The barged materials include over a million Lego blocks, assembled in San Francisco.
Has your neighborhood become 'upscale'? Take a San Francisco gentrification quiz from 1985 and find out. In 1985, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a tongue-in-cheek quiz allowing readers to see if their neighborhood had turned upscale. It's interesting to see how many of these types of business no longer exist (travel agencies!) and to think about what some of the others have morphed into almost three decades later.
Meet craft brewers, home brewing enthusiasts, bartenders in "Craft Beer – A Hopumentary", which focuses on California. [YT] [more inside]
Wave instruments: San Francisco's gurgly Wave Organ; Blackpool's moaning High Tide Organ; Zadar's hypnotic Sea Organ. [more inside]
Mr. Phelan's Building. Medium's Sarah Agudo and Marcin Wichary investigate the building they work in: "Ancient and modern at the same time; multiple slices of time meeting under one penthouse-sporting roof." [more inside]
Narrowly saved from the scrapyard just a few years earlier by then-mayor Dianne Feinstein, San Francisco's historic fireboat Phoenix has been credited with saving the Marina District from a blaze in the wake of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Following this heroic feat, two anonymous residents donated $300,000 towards the purchase of a second fireboat, Guardian, and a $50,000 gift from a Buddhist temple in the Marina funded her refurbishment. While Guardian's 1,200-mile journey from Vancouver did not go entirely smoothly, the crew arrived safely to a hero's welcome in San Francisco, including a water display from Phoenix. Now, with a recent vote, city supervisors have approved funding to build the city's first new fireboat in 60 years. [more inside]
“San Francisco's Fire Department is one of the few left in the United States that still uses wooden ladders. Each is made by hand at a dedicated workshop. Some have been in rotation for nearly a century.” [more inside]
There are approximately 530 single resident (or room) occupancy (SRO) hotels in San Francisco. San Francisco has hundreds of SRO hotels that are home to more than 30,000 tenants or approximately 5% of the city, the majority of whom live in low-income neighborhoods such as the Tenderloin and Chinatown. As San Francisco’s cost of living continues to leap upwards and SROs get demolished or converted to condos, many housing activists worry about what will become of the vulnerable SRO population. Life has always been precarious for these residents and far from idyllic in even the best-managed buildings. Here are the stories of six people trying to survive in a city that’s increasingly out of reach. [more inside]
When you go out to a bar or restaurant, have you ever wondered why your beer costs what it does? Here's your chance to find out. [more inside]
"Less a race than a celebration of motorsports heritage," the Mille Miglia classic car rally takes place every May. Its thousand-mile course wends from Brescia through Verona and Padua to Rome and then back north to Brescia by way of Bologna. (PDF) First staged in 1927 with 77 entrants, the now-annual event draws driving enthusiasts from around the world. [more inside]
A cinemascope film of San Francisco in 1955. "Highlights everything from the Cliff House (and the adjacent but long-defunct Sky Tram) to Fisherman’s Wharf — along with Telegraph Hill, City Hall, the Cable Car turnaround, a very squeaky ride down Lombard Street, the SF zoo, Golden Gate Park… and everything in between the (once record-breaking) spans of the Golden Gate and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridges." (The tour of the city picks up again at 15:40.)
San Francisco must change. "...the current state of permitting regulations for building and the glacial pace of infrastructure projects in San Francisco benefit very few people and risk turning it into a caricature of its former self for tourists and residents rich enough to live in a fantasy, not a living city. If there was ever a time when San Francisco needed to embrace a dynamic, expansive policy for building housing, offices and transportation, it is now." (Previously: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)
“In a city that has chronic housing shortages, the number of Airbnb homes that appear to not be available on the rental market is significant"
On being a barista in San Francisco: But I had set up a trap for myself. By smiling this hard all the time, by acting so very whimsical, I could not easily reveal any part of my true and at that time rather angry self.
The SFMTA has published excerpts of their photo archives from donated collections, spanning the post-1906 earthquake period all the way up to modern times. [more inside]
Troubled Welds on the Bay Bridge: How mismanagement and an inexperienced contractor built a bridge whose stability in an earthquake is in question [more inside]
In Many Cities, Rent Is Rising Out of Reach of Middle Class. Here's What $800 in Rent Gets You in 11 Major Cities [more inside]
Wired's Gideon Lewis-Kraus reports from the trenches of the Silicon Valley "ecosystem". [more inside]
The gutters in San Francisco's Buena Vista Park are made out of old headstones. Placed by the WPA program back in the late 1930s, the stones are said to be broken headstones and markers from unclaimed graves.
Chinatown Sartorialist. "We saw them at Portsmouth Square and frantically made a beeline for them, both in a brown, earthy palette with matching cheetah sweaters and furry hats."
TechCrunch's Kim-Mai Cutler delivers a 12,000-word deep-dive on San Francisco's Housing Crisis. Touching on: rent control, the Ellis Act, Dianne Feinstein, the mission, the Fillmore, Angelo Sangiacomo, Howard Jarvis, the failure of the Greater San Francisco movement, the perfidy if the Mountain View city council, and the Byzantine machinations behind the Twitter tax. If some of those names are unfamiliar to you, strap in: the story of San Francisco's property law may have found its Gibbon.
If you have been one of the thousands of tourists drawn in every day to San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, you may have been walking down past Tarantino's restaurant, taking in the tourist-trap sights, when one of the bushes on the sidewalk -- come to think of it, the only bush on the sidewalk -- suddenly jumps at you while growling. Congratulations; you are the most recent wharf-goer to fall victim to The World Famous Bushman. [more inside]
...taking a critical look at the dark side of the "Innovation Economy" There is no Google bus controversy in the Bay State. But the similarities between Boston and San Francisco now include a growing debate over the shadow side of the Innovation Economy: [more inside]
What's the last photo on your phone - and would you share it with a stranger? San Francisco-based interactive artist Ivan Cash asks a number of people in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco to share their last photo and the story behind it. (via feature shoot)
Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tom Perkins took to the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal to compare progressive angst over income inequality to the sentiment that led to the Nazi Kristallnacht. Citing the recent kerfuffle over Google buses in San Francisco (previously) and accusations of snobbery by San Francisco resident, bestselling author, and Perkins' own ex-wife Danielle Steel (who he describes as "our number-one celebrity"), Perkins asks "Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent 'progressive' radicalism unthinkable now?" [more inside]
The Ten Terrible Songs about San Francisco. . .along with Ten Good Ones. SFGate built these lists.
A new Report on the State of Health + Urbanism (pdf) from MIT looks at the relationship between urban planning and public health, with some surprising findings. The cities covered are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. [more inside]
Protesters blocked a private Google shuttle in the Mission District of San Francisco today. "In the video, a Google employee who hopped off the bus shouts down Erin McElroy, a protester who also heads the eviction mapping project. 'How long have you lived in this city?' McElroy asked him. He shouted back 'Why don't you go to a city that can afford it? This is a city for the right people who can afford it. You can't afford it? You can leave. I'm sorry, get a better job.'" Concern over increases in cost of living in San Francisco are becoming more of a focal point for discussion, as seen in a recent NYT blog post, Dystopia by the Bay.
"While DC continues to race through San Francisco power lines at nearly the speed of light, it does so anonymously. You’ll find no reference to DC power distribution in PG&E’s annual reports or on its websites. Even some utility engineers are unaware of its existence, which raises a curious question: Why is the inheritor of this legacy, the mighty and sophisticated PG&E, still bothering with DC distribution 133 years later?" [more inside]
Following the long-awaited replacement, which opened in September, the original east span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is due to be demolished. However, before that happens, the California Highway patrol, along with MADD is inviting family and friends of those who have lost their lives in traffic crashes to visit the decommissioned original span and pay their respects at the site where their loved ones died. CHP will accompany family and friends out to the now-empty bridge span on Saturday morning so that perhaps a little closure can be gained. [more inside]
Cheb i Sabbah's family has announced his passing at the age of 66. His unique world music creations have been cherished by dancers, trancers, and thinkers alike for decades. [more inside]
You live in Haight Ashbury. You'd love to install a garage in your historic home but there are architectural restrictions against doing so. Well, with the right group of guys, there are ways around it.
San Francisco's Bay Barge Mystery "Something big and mysterious is rising from a floating barge at the end of Treasure Island, a former Navy base in the middle of San Francisco Bay." And now one has showed up in a Maine harbor. Update from C|Net News.
San Francisco Magazine visits the Tenderloin: "Barring a seismic shift in city politics, the TL is not going to gentrify the way that similar neighborhoods have in other cities. Not next year. Not in five years. Maybe never. For better or worse, it will likely remain a sanctuary for the poor, the vulnerable, and the damaged—and the violence and disorder that inevitably comes with them. The thousands of working people, seniors, and families, including many Southeast Asians, who make up a silent two-thirds majority of the Tenderloin’s 30,000 residents will remain there. And so will the thousands of not-so-silent mentally ill people, addicts, drunks, and ex-cons who share the streets with them—as well as the predators who come in from the outside to exploit them. The Tenderloin will remain the great anomaly of neighborhoods: a source of stubborn pride for San Francisco, or an acute embarrassment—or both."