More Of The Same

The Woods Curiosity Shop to Close, Saying It's "Too Late" to Keep SF Weird

The Woods Curiosity Shop announced late last week that they will be closing their doors for good at the end of March. The store, located on 16th Street between Dolores and Guerrero, billed itself as “a cabinet of curiosities—that miniature world of marvels that recalls a time when strange, simple things still had the power inspire awe and wonder.”

The owners, sisters Lisa and Sandy Wood, announced their intention to close in a Facebook post:

The Woods has some sad news: we will be closing our sweet little shop the end of this month (March 29th will be our last day open to the public) and in April by appointment only while we move things out. We put our heart and soul into this tiny space and it will be sad to see it go. Come by and say “goodbye”!

And while the announcement points blame at no one thing in particular, the sign in the shop’s window (pictured above) suggests that there just isn’t enough weird left in The New Mission to sustain a funky shop like theirs. And in what reads like a depressing bit of clairvoyance, on their homepage under the banner of “A New Kind of Curiosity Shop” one finds the following:

The world is growing tamer and “samer” day by day. Come away to a strange and special place. A place that will enchant you, surprise you, and maybe even change you a bit. Come away to The Woods.
Tamer and samer indeed.
 

[Photo: Josh Ellingson]

One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Gentrification Thinkpiece

Community Nostalgic For the Types of Trash Left in Dolores Park Before the Tech Boom

It’s no secret that Dolores Park has long been a dumping ground for party and picnic refuse. Shortly after the park surged in popularity nine years ago, the garbage began piling up. By 2009, every spring brought a fresh round of media, political, and community outrage about hipsters trashing the park. But this year is different: not only are many publications covering the situation as if it’s a new one, some locals are going so far as to reminiscence about the low-class garbage strewn about in years of yore.

In a borderline hysterical piece of foggy nostalgia published in The Bold Italic—Gannett’s dumping ground for ham-fisted gentrification rants—park neighbor Daniela Blei boldly declares “Dolores Park is becoming a landfill for the privileged.” Her proof? Years ago, hipsters used to just litter lowly beer cans, but now the privileged are dumping champagne bottles and oyster shells. Emphasis added:

Every morning by 7, the first responders from SF Rec & Park arrive on the scene to do the heroic work of cleaning up entitlement. (Someone else will take care of it!) Last weekend, I spoke to the Saturday crew. They described some of the changes they’ve witnessed in recent years. “It used to be all beer cans. Now, it’s wine and Champagne bottles,” they explained. For city workers, that’s a problem because Recology SF pays to pick up beer bottles, but Rec & Park has to haul away other types of glass, like the empty magnum of Veuve Clicquot that caught my eye that morning. Add to the glut of bottles a sheer explosion in trash – everything from plastic plates to oyster shells scattered across the dirt – and Dolores Park begins to look like a wasteland of privilege.

Are we really kvetching about the changing types of garbage littering our parks? (And never mind that the statement is factually inaccurate—as the above photo from 2012’s shameful Earth Day trashing demonstrates [or from 2009, or 2008], there has always been plenty of wine and champagne bottles left around the park.)

One might think, “who the fuck cares how expensive the garbage that’s left behind is? No one should be littering the park, period.” However, the neighborhood’s newfound obsession with the types of trash piling up extends beyond The Bold Italic.

“Dolores Park Trash Tsunami,” 2010. Video: Rob Lord/Flickr

The Chronicle’s pound of geriatric newshounds also caught scent of the Dolores Park perennial trash pile recently and they’ve been mercilessly humping the story ever since. In one column, C.W. Nevius quoted a neighbor saying the trash was not from “homeless people.”

“These are people with enough money to buy good beer. You don’t see any Budweiser cans there. This is all IPA’s and pizza boxes from Delfina.”

This is the nut of our current outrage frenzy, isn’t it? The situation has always been terrible and worthy of addressing, but the trash piled up years ago and it is certainly not getting worse. The only “new” issue here is neighbors objecting to who is littering (namely, wealthy techies).

Blei in The Bold Italic specifically outlines how she remembers the good ol’ days of Dolores:

I remember my first spring in San Francisco, watching the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence take the stage. Surrounded by families young and old, sitting in a sea of smiling faces, I thought to myself: “This is a magical place.”

But these are the same Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence who kicked off our park trashing outrage cycle after their Hunky Jesus show left Dolores Park covered in trash in 2009. Blei’s model park-goers are part of the very “wasteland of privilege” problem she claims to detest. We are all part of the problem. Why the double standard?

Dolores Park Trash, 2008. Photo: aGreatNotion/Flickr

Reading these rants and news stories, you get the sinking feeling that some neighbors are inflating the situation in an effort to get the park fun shut down. In years past, complaints about the trash were appropriately co-directed at the city (for not providing adequate facilities) and the public (for being lazy, slobby shitheads). In 2012, this blog joined the neighborhood’s chorus in calling for the city to install more trash cans in the park and increase their emptying so trash wouldn’t pile up outside the bins. But a funny thing has happened since then: the city has removed over a dozen garbage cans. All the clusters of cans that once lined Dolores Street—the main entry and exit point of the park—are gone. Now it’s harder than it’s ever been to properly dispose of your trash.

And yet? No one is calling out the city for their role in the problem. Instead, all we get are demands for increased policing. The techie scapegoat works well in this case, because everyone hates techies, amirite? Plus, the narrative of “entitled newcomers” destroying a park plays well, even when it is exposed as fiction.

Of course, Our Civic Watchdogs at The Chronicle are quick to dismiss these fears. Nevius snidely brushes off concerns that neighbors are trying create a groundswell of support for a police crackdown, writing:

As for the conspiracy theory about a police crackdown, I think your tinfoil hat may be on a little too tight. The cops don’t want to spend the day checking to see if you have an open beer can. This is the Mission, where there are gangs, shootings and real-life crimes.

However, in reality, this is exactly what neighbors are doing. Blei admits, “Neighbors are now demanding a stronger police presence.” Dolores Park Works, a non-profit that ostensibly represents all park users, has repeatedly called for the city to “shut the joint down.” And Supervisor Scott Wiener, who has been calling for a “culture shift” in the park since 2013, has been grandstanding over the past two months, calling litterers “sociopaths” and demanding an “expansion” of police enforcement so we can see “tangible results.”

But catching a litterbug is tough business for a few park rangers in a park filled up with 10,000 picnickers a day—especially considering that it’s difficult to determine what is or isn’t litter as the trash lays beside sitting groups.

Instead, we read reports of people being ticketed for drinking beer and playing music, irrelevant to them littering or not. And then there was this scene from a few weekends ago, in which five officers came to the park to fine a Latino man for selling ice cream outside the children’s playground:

The trash situation in Dolores Park is unacceptable, and it has long been unacceptable. People should pack out their trash. And the city should recognize that the crowds need a place to dispose of that garbage and reinstall our trash cans.

But is hassling the local paleta guy really going to fix Dolores Park’s trash problem? Is fining people for smoking or drinking a beer going to curb the litter? Of course not. Unfortunately, when the community pretends the trash a class problem, we get the kind of delusional solutions that only the delusional could possibly think up.

[Lead Photo: DPW]

Tragedy On Folsom Street

SFPD Once Again Blames Victim In Deadly Bicycle Crash Without Citing Evidence

In what is turning out to be a tragic replaying of history, SFPD is once again blaming the victim of a deadly bicycle crash. The March 2nd incident left 66-year-old Charles Vinson dead in the 14th Street intersection. According to the Examiner, “Oakland resident Noe Orozco said he witnessed the vehicle blow through a red light and strike the bicyclist as the bicyclist waited for the light to turn green.” Yet with even this clear witness statement, SFPD has publicly declared that Vinson was at fault, all the while providing zero evidence to support their claim. 

Streetsblog reports:

Contrary to initial reports, the SFPD says Charles Vinson, 66, ran a red light on his bike when he was hit and killed by a driver at 14th and Folsom Streets on March 2. […]

Streetsblog asked how the SFPD arrived at that conclusion. “There are many different factors involved, such as examining skid marks, measurements, placement of evidence from the collision, etc,” said Gatpandan. “As the case is still open and active, we do not discuss open and active investigation matters.”

So, while police are comfortable releasing their determination that the victim was at fault in this crash, they say it’s too soon to disclose any supporting evidence.

Is there video of the crash? Is there witness testimony? If so, does it come from bystanders, the driver who struck Vinson, or both? We don’t know, and SFPD isn’t saying.

This incident may remind some of the 2013 death of Amelie Le Moullac, who was killed when a truck made an illegal right-hand turn at Folsom and 6th and struck Le Moullac in the process. In that case, SFPD was quick to blame Le Moullac for her own death, going so far as to verbally harass a group of cyclists rallying for safer streets in the wake of Le Moullac’s death.

It was only when the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition obtained a video of the accident, which clearly showed the driver at fault, that SFPD retracted their hasty and false conclusion.

[Photo: Bryan Goebel]

Dolores Park

Churchgoers Pissed That Dolores Park Partiers Are Illegally Taking Their Illegal Parking Spots

Parking in San Francisco is notoriously difficult, as the 900-or-so miles of publicly available on-street parking often just don’t cut it for those in search of convenient places to leave an automobile. This dearth of free storage is particularly noticeable on Sunday mornings, when those San Franciscans who don’t worship a pagan goat god in the privacy of their own homes drive to one of the city’s many houses of worship to attend a service. As most of the churches in the city don’t have adequate parking, the congregants have landed on the neat “solution” of illegally double parking wherever they please. But now, it seems, another group has gotten wise to the double-parking game: parkgoers.

This pattern of illegal double parking is particularly bad in the Mission, and has been driving neighbors crazy for years. This is perhaps best exemplified on Dolores Street, where every Sunday morning parked cars line both sides of the street creating a narrow chute for cyclists and drivers to share. And while the neighbors complain about this illegal practice constantly, the city looks the other way to the benefit of the churchgoers.

Things have recently begun to take a turn for the interesting, as what few illegal spots there are appear to be getting snatched up by people heading to Dolores Park. And the church crowd is not having it.

As reported by CBS Bay Area:

[The dubious legality of double parking] been an ongoing argument with some who think it violates church and state separation, turning a blind eye to hundreds of $110 violations each week in deference to the religious community.

And, it gets more complicated with some churchgoers saying they can’t find a place to park along those medians because of all the sunbathers at Dolores Park who have realized they can get away with double parking too.

It seems that the godless parkgoers have gotten hip to the ways of the god-fearing churchgoers, just perhaps not in the way anyone expected. Maybe a shared communion of park truffles is in order.

[Photo: SF Citizen]

Alex Nieto

Valencia Street Shut Down As Protestors Mark Anniversary of Police Shooting

Valencia Street was shut down this morning as protestors marking the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of Alex Nieto blocked traffic in both directions. The police shooting of Nieto, a 28-year-old security guard shot dead by SFPD officers on Bernal Hill, took place on March 21st of last year.

The District Attorney announced in February that it would not press charges against the SFPD officers who, between the four of them, fired a total of 59 shots at Nieto. The Chronicle reported at the time that the failure to press charges resulted from, according to the DA’s office, “Nieto [pointing] a Taser shock weapon that the officers reasonably mistook for a pistol.”

In addition to stopping traffic, several individuals wearing “No Justice No Peace” shirts chained themselves to the SFPD Mission Station gate. According to Mission Local, the “activists said they intended to stay for 4 hours and 15 minutes, in reference to the city’s area code and the police code 415, which they said indicates a disturbance.”

Racism In The Mission Police

Disgraced Mission Police Supervisor Exchanged Racist, Homophobic Text Messages With Other Cops

A former supervisor in the Mission Station’s plainclothes unit has been accused of exchanging racist and homophobic text messages with four other police officers. The officer, Ian Furminger, was convicted last December of conspiracy and wire fraud and is currently appealing his conviction. Federal prosecutors, in responding to this appeal, included the text messages in a court filing made public this past Friday.

According to KQED News:

The texts show Furminger and other San Francisco police officers repeatedly swapping slurs about black people and gay people, including other police officers. In one exchange on Nov. 9, 2011, Furminger writes about his son’s school:

“We got two blacks at my boys school and they are brother and sister! There cause dad works for the school district and I am watching them like hawks.”

The response, from an unnamed civilian: “Do you celebrate qaunza [sic] at your school?”

Furminger: “Yeah we burn the cross on the field! Then celebrate Whitemas … Its worth every penny to live here [Walnut Creek] away from the savages.”

Through an attorney, Furminger attempted to distance himself from his own messages:

“Ian Furminger is not a racist or homophobe,” Goldrosen wrote in an email. “His closest friends, both at work and in his social life, include many people of different races and sexual orientations.”

The four officers Furminger exchanged messages with are Michael Robison, Michael Celis, Rain Daugherty, and Noel Schwab. Despite the messages’ offensive nature—and the apparent racist hatred these officers showed for many in the community they swore to protect—none of the officers have been removed from active duty. They have been reassigned, pending the results of an internal investigation.

This played out “but some of my closest friends are black” from Furminger dove-tails nicely with the equally tired “he didn’t mean any of those awful racist things he said” line we hear from Alison Wilkinson, an attorney representing Rain Daugherty. Again, KQED News:

“Officer Daugherty is appropriately ashamed by his impulsive and insensitive banter,” Wilkinson wrote, “and accepts full responsibility for the content of those text messages that he sent, which are by no means a reflection of his true character or his style of policing.”

The text messages, obtained by KQED News, can be read in their entirety below beginning on page 10.

[Photo: Margie Shafer]

Tales and Tunes

Digging Through The Record Crate: Phonographic Memory Unlocks Musical Memories

There are certain songs you hear that teleport you so deep into a blast from the past, you can practically feel your high school emo bangs brush across your forehead again. Phonographic Memory celebrates your musical nostalgia, and encourages you to reach back in your record crate, dig up those records and share those old stories in an intimate setting.

Each Phonographic Memory participant picks a record near and dear to their heart, and shares a personal story that the record reminds them of. When someone’s sharing a musical memory at a Phonographic Memory event, there are no phones out, no Spotify playlists to stream, and no Instagramming—it’s all analog. The digital crack pipe burning a hole through your pocket, stays in your pocket. All the focus is on the record, and the story being shared.

Corey Bloom, co-organizer of the event, relishes the possibility of looking at a old favorite record in a new way through someone else’s experience, or just hearing new music. “I personally walk away learning a new song, or getting familiar with a new record,” Bloom told Uptown Almanac. “It’s one of these rare moments where people just listen. Their phones are down. No one is recording it. No one is texting. Everybody is listening. You’ll look around and someone’s nodding their head, and someone had their eyes closed.”

Being in the moment as opposed to documenting the moment for later social consumption is all too rare now. Bloom hopes Phonographic Memory can bring back a sense of presence to the attendees in a fun, engaging way.

“The main focus is, in this digital age where there are all these other distractions, there’s something about a record. You can see, feel and smell it. It’s personal.”

Delete your Spotify playlists, shoot down the iCloud, and head on over to Phonograpic Memory. It takes place on March 25th at 7pm at Bernal Heights Library. Register by emailing Register@PhonographicMemory.org

[Photo Courtesy of Corey Bloom]

Mission Fires

Fire at Treat & 24th Seriously Injures Family of Five

At approximately 4:30am this morning a fire broke out above the corner store located at 24th and Treat Avenue. According to various sources, a family of five was seriously injured in the blaze—two of them critically.

In addition to the family rescued above the store, it is being reported that two men who had been sleeping inside the store had to be freed by the firefighters. Apparently a gate, padlocked from the outside, prevented their escape until firefighters cut it open. 

The cause of the fire is unknown at this point.

[Photo: Lindsay Hoshaw]

Ban Chips

Two Arrested in Dolores Park Kettle Chip Fistfight

Yesterday was another beautiful day in San Francisco, and like many other residents of the Bay, the two gentlemen pictured above went to Dolores Park to relax and take in the sun. But things took a turn for the krinkle-cut when the Kettle Chips people arrived.

As employees of the snack company strolled through the park passing out samples, these two dudes demonstrated an excess of enthusiasm for the fine product. According to an eyewitness, one guy ran over, and under the influence of extreme hunger, excitedly grabbed a free sample from a larger bundle of chips held by an employee. As he quickly pulled away his prize and made moves to hold it on high for all to see, he accidentally hit another gentlemen in the face.

The second gentlemen, who was in the process of diving for chips himself, did not take kindly to being struck and demanded an apology. When the apology was less than forthcoming, hunger turned to rage and a shoving match/chase/fight ensued to the delight and cheers of the more relaxed park goers.

Thankfully, the terror of hungry bros was dealt with quickly, and the park was once again as it should be—chill.

If First You Don't Succeed...

Grub Reinventing Itself as "Your Local Diner"

As we predicted back in November, Grub, the forgettable mac-n-cheese and whatever restaurant, is officially out of business and its Valencia Street space is undergoing a complete renovation. Details are light, but signage assures the doubtful public that there will be new owners—the folks behind the city’s trio of Toast Eateries—managing the restaurant. Strangely, those new owners declined to change its questionable name.

Keeping in line with Toast’s business, The New Grub promises to become “your local diner”—a tall claim for an upstart in a neighborhood brimming with choice local diners. No word on the diner’s menu and how greasy it will be, but Toast has already gutted much of the formerly mod-ish space, and work permits filed with the city say they’re readying to install hardwood floors and new lighting.