More Small Plates Thou

Cafe Du Nord Abandons History As Concert Venue

When we learned this past December that Dylan MacNiven of West of Pecos had purchased Cafe Du Nord and the Swedish American Music Hall, and would be closing both for extensive renovations, we were definitely concerned. The potential for not one, but two music venues to be displaced by some reclaimed wood fetishist’s idea of a hip small plates/cocktail bar was just too much to bear. And with one promoter throwing a goodbye party for Cafe Du Nord, it seemed like a real possibility that the deed was as good as done.

But then we got an unexpected bit of good news. SF Weekly followed up with MacNiven:

We are currently soliciting feedback from the community and have noted the overwhelming support for the Cafe Du Nord name and musical program. We also heard the desire for more controls of noise and crowds and can only surmise it will grow with the three adjacent residential developments. I can give you a small hint that I am a huge live music fan and that’s why you see my name on the license.

MacNiven went on to say, “I am intending for live music to stay.”

So when SF Eater reported last Friday that Cafe Du Nord is on track to open in the fall, we were quite excited. I’ve seen a lot of amazing performances in the space, and was genuinely stoked to hear what MacNiven had planned.

Things start out great:

Night owls will be pleased to learn that the new Du Nord plans to serve food and cocktails until 2 am every single night of the week.

Awesome. I’m relatively young and rarely go to bed before midnight, so I guess I’m a night owl (and as such, am pleased). What else?

[The] menu, cocktails, and redesign […] will come from Ne Timeas Restaurant Group (Flour + Water, Central Kitchen, Salumeria) and the Bon Vivants (Trick Dog).

While twee landmark themed menus aren’t my personal jam, many people really love what Ne Timeas and the Bon Vivants do. And they certainly bring a level of seriousness to the game, implying that the new Swedish American and Cafe Du Nord are here to stay.

OK. We’ve got the operating hours, food, and drinks covered. Now, what about the music?

[While] Du Nord will still have live music, it’s really going to be more of a restaurant and bar than a concert venue. […]

But don’t expect to come to Du Nord for rock shows anymore: the new musical focus will be “impromptu intimate entertainment acts” like acoustic sessions from local artists and “unannounced sets by well-known musicians.”

Describing the musical offerings as “impromptu intimate entertainment acts” makes the place sound less like a bar/venue and more like a massage parlor in the Sunset. But hey, maybe that’s just what this city needs: another spot for the well-heeled to sip artisan cocktails while those catering to their every need provide happy endings with a splash of manzanilla sherry and a lemon twist.

After all, it’s a business model that worked for The Battery, right?

[SF Eater | Photo: Emily Hoyer]

Authenticity In A Glass

A Sneak Peak Inside the New Pop's

We’ve already said a lot about the new Pop’s, which has been closed for renovations for the better part of a year. Well, as the new owners put the finishing touches on the place, they decided to give The Bold Italic a sneak peak inside to show off the fruits of all their labor.

With a carefully curated selection of “iconic images of pop culture and local legends” adorning its walls, the new-and-improved watering hole aims to pay homage to its long history. But, with “a new wooden bar [that] imagines what the original 1930s bar would have looked like” and a baseball bat labeled “AtTiTUDE ADJUSTER” next to the register, one wonders if the new owners are just attempting to cash in on the rampart commodification of the Mission aesthetic with what appears to be a “Pop’s” themed bar.

The success of the new Pop’s is something Uptown Almanac is very much rooting for. We’ve spent too many drunken nights shooting pool (and later, playing air hockey and pinball) in that place for it not to have a spot in our hearts. I just hope that the patrons who made Pop’s what it was don’t end up feeling like historical reenactors in a place paying tribute to the days when you could score a cheap beer/shot combo within its walls.

You can check the bar out for yourself at their opening on September 18th.

[Photos: The Bold Italic]

Dirty Business

Leaving Your Mark On The Mission

In today’s edition of how not to endear yourself to your neighbors, we received the following grievances and photo from a Capp Street tipster:

These yuppies put basically an entire house full of trash out on the street [Wednesday] evening. Neighbors were complaining but their reply was that they were waiting for sunset scavengers to pick it up, which more or less got people off their back. But when I woke up this morning all their shot was still outside. I called the non emergency line but all they would do is call the waste removal. These people need to be fined, since they clearly have no regard for the city or the people in it. Just sipping their cocktails, making bank on tech and just shit all over the city we call home.

Yuppies sipping cocktails, making bank on tech, and shitting all over San Francisco is quite the vivid image. And while this may or may not be the latest example of the obliviousness that often comes with tech wealth, it is most certainly an example of someone being an asshole.

So, in conclusion, don’t dump your garbage on the street, people. Come on. Capp Street Crap has enough material to work with without your help.  

City Budgets and Discrimination

Thinly-Veiled Racism Surrounds Future of Pink Saturday

If you attended the Pink Saturday community meeting last night, and never participated in the relatively unregulated street party that happens every year on Castro Street the night before the SF Pride Parade, you might believe that there is no LGBT presence at one of the biggest LGBT parties of the year.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence asked for community input on the future of Pink Saturday after an assault on one of their own happened at 18th and Castro Street during primetime of the party this year. Word on the street is that the Sisters either want to distance themselves from the event or cancel it altogether (if that is within their power), although that wasn’t an explicitly stated goal last night.

The meeting was well attended—standing room only at times—in the Eureka Valley Rec Center. Two hours were established for public comment on the event. While the time limit was strictly adhered to, there wasn’t an agenda or any stated goal to the meeting.

There were a few opening remarks from Sisters directly involved in planning the event. Scott Wiener shared insight as the representative of the district on the SF Board of Supervisors (after thumping his chest about the new trees shoved into the ground as part of the never-ending neighborhood beautification project). Representatives from the SF Police Department and a few neighborhood patrol groups were present. Members of the public were asked to focus on offering suggestions and to avoid complaining. Consequently, thinly-veiled racism was couched inside resentment against the aging process.

In other words, the room was full of white gay guys over the age of 50 that are annoyed that LGBT culture is changing and leaving them behind.

Perhaps that sounds harsh, but the recurring theme of the community meeting was about “outsiders” sneaking in to queer space when they have no right or (legitimate) interest in being there. One fellow, a self-identified DJ, told the crowd that he heard rap and/or hip hop music at times: “Songs about dicks going into pussies has nothing to do with gay pride.” Another claimed that the crowd at Pink Saturday is worse than the attendees at Mardi Gras—and he has been to both!!

Of course, the increase in violence is not the fault of the SF Police Department. While giving Supervisor Wiener a hand job in front of the room (he is the ONLY politician that understands them), Officer Tony Orlando (formerly performing with Dawn) told the room that the force is understaffed! He heard that aggressive music too! He saw known gang members from BAYVIEW lurking at the fringes of the party! A local hip-hop radio station promotes Pink Saturday and encourages “them” to show up, then “they” go on Instagram to tell others!

Honest to gawd.

As the meeting passed the one-hour mark, voices of reason began to emerge. Rather polite and thoughtful comments were made suggesting that not all young people in attendance were drunk or on drugs or straight or murderers and it’s entirely possible that some of those hip-hop aficionados might be—gasp—gay too.

Some concrete suggestions were aired, but this is clearly a complex dilemma for the neighborhood. Unlike Halloween (another unregulated street event that struggled with incidents of violence and was ultimately killed with the help of then-supervisor Bevan Dufty, who was not in attendance last night), Pink Saturday is a penultimate event that takes place while hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world are in San Francisco to celebrate.

Not even booking Kenny G to perform on a stage at Market and Castro Street is going to discourage rowdy behavior.

Current President of the Board of SF Pride, Gary Virginia, offered real insight into the struggles that the Pride Board faces and how those difficulties are very similar to what the Sisters are dealing with on Pink Saturday. The problem is money. Mr. Virgina explained that the City of San Francisco has been the recipient of millions of dollars of tax revenue over multiple decades that can be directly traced to tourism during the month of June.

Pride month in San Francisco is packed with parties, cultural events, a film festival, and three huge political marches that fill hotels, restaurants and nightclubs. What does the City provide to the organizers of these lucrative revenue generating events in return for the windfall? Not very much.

In fact, SF Pride receives $80,000 from the City. The Sisters get nothing from the City for the work they do to organize Pink Saturday. Neither organization is looking to profit but they both could use resources from the city that has reaped uncounted millions of dollars from the LGBT community to better manage these events.

By the time Mr. Virginia made his factual and reasoned point to the room, Supervisor Wiener had already left to attend another event.

At 8pm, the meeting abruptly ended without a mention of next steps or further planning meetings. Hopefully someone will find a way to close down the Church and Castro Street Muni stations so that people who don’t belong in the neighborhood are prevented from getting in.

Unfortunately, that was the message delivered from the community last night.

Legal Laughs

From Underground to Above Board: Viracocha Gets Its Venue License

In July, we covered Viracocha’s triumphant re-opening after they closed their doors for months of city-mandated construction. Owner Jonathan Segel and Viracocha volunteers worked around the clock rewiring, repiping and soundproofing the venue in hopes of going completely legit and getting a permit from San Francisco’s Entertainment Commission. This week, their work paid off in a big way.

As SF Weekly reports, on Tuesday of this week Segel received a venue permit from the Entertainment Commission and Viracocha is now recognized as an official San Francisco music venue.

This is huge news for Segel, the Viracocha community, and the Bay Area music scene. Bands who played at Viracocha in the “underground days” couldn’t publicly promote shows online or in the press out of fear that the city would find out and shut it down.  Now that Viracocha is above board, local and touring bands can bring much deserved attention to the venue everyone once kept secret.

[Photo: WedgeRadio]

Hmm

La Taqueria Named Best Burrito in the Country

In a surprise turn of events, “Burrito Expert” Anna Maria Barry-Jester has named La Taqueria’s burrito the best burrito in the country. How was this super important decision made, you ask? Is Barry-Jester some sort of more fully evolved human, capable of eating any and all burritos in her path?

Well, not really. It turns out FiveThirtyEight, the organization behind this foodie March Madness, basically did what they do best and ran a bunch of regressions on publically available data aggregated by Yelp. Having done this, they then created some random metric called a VORB (Value Over Replacement Buritto) and narrowed the national field down to 64 contenders. Barry-Jester (and later, to a smaller extent, Nate Silver) sampled the burritos, giving each one an up or down vote. 

And that’s basically it.

Obviously, this is just a comment on the personal tastes of Barry-Jester, and is not the final word on which of the nation’s many burritos will rock your personal world. I have to admit to being a little confused about the result, myself.

Local blogger/dude Ariel Dovas seemed to put it best:

[Photo: Jeremy Brooks]

Homelessness In The Mission

SFPD Forces Mission Homeless to Relocate After Department Decries the Very Practice

Yesterday evening, Mission Local published a piece on the numerous homeless encampments on the streets of the Mission and the city’s inability to formulate an effective strategy to address the ongoing crisis. Entitled “Homeless Encampments Here to Stay,” the story focuses on a few specific blocks that have consistently been a refuge for the homeless population over the past few years. Accompanying the article is the above photo of Harrison Street, between 18th and 19th, across from Mission Cliffs. 

I commute down Harrison every day, so this photo was very much on my mind as I cruised by this morning. Well, apparently the photo and article were also on the mind of the San Francisco Police Department, as I saw three officers walking the block, asking people to relocate. A few hours later, I went back to the site of the above photo and took a very different picture.

As you can see, the spot had been completely cleared out. This surprised me for a few reasons, one of which being that Mission Station Captain Daniel Perea acknowledges the futility of issuing citations:

At the August community meeting at the Mission Station, Captain Daniel Perea said that enforcement is ineffective because it only temporarily displaces the encampments. Further enforcement, he added, “is not going to correct this,” since officers (unable to physically relocate people) are left with the ineffective option of handing out fines.

“I could go to all these places everyday and give tickets to everybody,” he said. “But if I give someone who’s homeless a citation, they’re not gonna stop. And nine out of 10 times they say no to shelters. We just have no answer to this.”

Captain Perea’s comment about temporary displacement is of course correct, as is evidenced by the fact that a majority of homeless campers simply moved a few blocks over to Florida Street:

Over the past few years, at the behest of noisy constituents, the city has attempted to hose the homeless away from Mid-Market and push them out of 16th and Mission. “Out of sight and out of mind” might be enough for high-paid Mid-Market workers, but the people have to go somewhere. The police will never hassle the problem away.

Of course, it is not yet a crime to be homeless (and nor should it be). As Captain Perea put it:

Perea called homelessness the “single most frustrating thing” about his job because “homelessness is not a crime, and the police cannot and will not eliminate it.” Instead, he said, efforts should be made to “have some compassion.”

Mission Local’s piece mentions that a large contributing factor to the number of homeless in San Francisco is the lack of affordable housing and safe shelter beds. Those are obvious areas were the city could focus its energy, instead of forcing people to pack up and move their home every time someone (or some publication) calls attention to it.

Update: Now, on Wednesday morning, the police are out on Florida Street ticketing the homeless they yesterday asked to move off Harrison.

Get Drunk And Blow Out Your Eardrums

New Pop's Bar Will Have Live Bands

In a rare bit of good news for the Mission bar scene, the Planning Commission has granted the new owners of Pop’s a full entertainment license. For those of you not hip to the minutiae of San Francisco’s weird permitting rules, this means that when Pop’s reopens, it will legally be allowed to rock both DJ’s and live bands. 

Mission Local reports:

The historic bar’s new owner, Michael Krouse, who also owns Madrone on Divisadero, applied for a permit to have a full entertainment license, meaning the bar could legally offer its patrons live bands and DJs. With some conditions, the commission unanimously approved the change of use. […]

The bar’s live music program will operate until 10 p.m. and DJs until 2 a.m., its existing operating hours. [Erick Arguello of Calle 24] said that Calle 24 is mostly supportive of granting the bar its full entertainment license, but hopes that they can find some sort of compromise about hours. The group of merchants hopes the bar will cease operations at midnight, to which Krouse noted that the bar can already operate until 2 a.m. with its existing liquor license.

This welcome development allows for the outside possibility that the new Pop’s may retain some of its pre-renovation, shit-hole charm. Before the city cracked down, neighborhood kids spinning sets was always one of the bar’s highlights (that and the cheap beers/bacon bloody marys/analog photo booth whose constantly wafting photo processing chemicals were a big contributor to the bar’s nickname of “Poop’s”).

Of course, there’s no word yet on what sort of music Krouse will book. But at this point, simply being able to legally have live music at all seems like a small win.

[Photo: Jeremy Brooks]

Prodigal Son

W. Kamau Bell Returns With a Month-Long Residency at Cynic Cave

The latest Bay Area comic to make it big is back for a month-long residency at everyone’s favorite little comedy basement. Every Saturday in September, W. Kamau Bell will be anchoring the Cynic Cave’s weekly showcase.

Thanks to Bell’s notority, advance tickets sold out within two weeks. His show “Totally Biased” ran for two seasons on FX and FXX to somewhat mixed reviews. But it regularly pushed a lot of boundaries—see the Jim Norton misogyny debate, for starters—while championing diversity. However, the show failed to pull in ratings, and was cancelled in November of 2013.

The silver lining? That might mean seeing more of Bell back in the Bay. Despite advance tickets selling out for this round (though you might be able to snag some at the door), Cynic Cave producer George Chen hinted that Bell might be back for a similar run in the winter.

Bell’s stint is the latest example of the logic-defying pull of the most unlikely of comedy stages in the Bay Area. Lost Weekend Video’s financial troubles are well documented, but the 30-something seat room in its basement continues to produce great local talent and attract awesome, alternative national acts. On almost any night of the week, you can catch great stuff, and their Saturday showcase is possibly my favorite on-going show in the Bay Area.

“I like to think the reputation has been built partly through booking, we have headliners that are on the cusp of bigger gigs and they all talk to each other and love San Francisco audiences,” says George Chen. “Certainly the physical features of the room make it unique. Many people attribute the low ceilings to the intimacy and the acoustics [of the room]. The laughs just fill out and become contagious.”

No one is is sure about the future of the venue at this point, and it would be pretty terrible to lose it while it’s got inertia. Chen says he wants Lost Weekend “to be like the UCB Theater in LA, where no matter what night you go, you’ll be sure to have a high-quality affordable show to attend.” In many ways, they’re already there.

Stay up to date with the shows on their Fcebook page, including any announcement of a future Bell residency.

[Photo: Matthias Clamer/FX]

Fire

Burned-Out Mission Street Shops to Be Torn Down

If you’ve been by the site of yesterday’s five-alarm fire at 22nd and Mission, this news likely comes at no surprise: the building is slated for an emergency demolition, possibly taking place later today. Via ABC 7:

San Francisco firefighters continue to monitor flare-ups in the rubble. Because this space was used for storage, they expect more flare-ups once they are allowed to move through the debris inside. Engineers say it still is not safe to enter. San Francisco fire officials describe the building as, “dangerous and heavily compromised in both structure and integrity.”

“I would say 95 percent of the roof either burned off or fell through into the building. We also have what appears to be a second floor or mezzanine collapse down to the first floor. And we have a problem with two barring walls on the exterior, also the front wall is cracked and we’re worried about that possibly falling off into mission street,” explained Assistant Chief David Franklin.

While the size of the pile of debris pulled out of the building isn’t completely visible from the first picture, it is sizable. And burned remains of cheap, imported goods is visibly stacked to the ceiling:

Exhausted-looking firemen were still battling the blaze late into the night, with two hoses spraying down the building as of 11pm last night—some ten hours after the fire broke out.

According to ABC 7, the building had been previously cited for its poor conditions:

The fire chief said the business where the fire started has been cited twice in 2009 and 2013 for overcrowded conditions and narrow exit routes, but could not say at this point if clutter contributed to the fire.

That fact is fueling the rumors that this was an act of arson, although it is both premature and impossible to know what happened.  It was previously reported that an arson team would investigate the building, but because of the imminent risk of collapse, they couldn’t enter the structure. Now, it seems, a complete investigation is unlikely, as the remains will be little more than rubble by the end of the weekend.