Chicken John's Threats of Violence Stops Blue Bottle From Moving Into Dolores

I know half the blogs in San Francisco have already covered this, but I feel it would be inappropriate to not say something about Chicken John's role in all of this.  The Bay Citizen recently broke the news that Blue Bottle is out, with Blue Bottle owner Jason Freeman saying, “I don't need this controversy.”  While this should be something to celebrate—afterall, we get to keep out parks limited green space out of the hands of private entities—it's actually quite depressing:

And now, after blog comments about spitting and vague word of tire-slashing, Blue Bottle owner James Freeman said that he has decided not to drive his trailer into the park at all.

What James is referring to is comments left by none other than Chicken John, spokesfowl for the ZOMG SPOT “CORPORATE” AMERICA IN SF crowd.  As Chicken commented in a recent 7x7 post (edited for brevity):

Do we need to be protected? Do we need legislation that would prevent RPD from steamrolling a community park into selling off spots to stores?

I'm sure that this would make excellent dialog. You can guess how I would think. But as for BB, it seems as if they wish to be the company that 'breaks' Dolores Park. Which is going to be messy. And uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. People are spitting mad. If it is true that they didn't see this comming, which I find impossible, then if I were them I'd run. There are going to be a thousand people there spitting on them on their opening day. Fucking riot cops. [emphasis added]

While Chicken didn't come right out and say he would be spitting on Blue Bottle's workers, he sure did imply that he and his army of Laughing Squid pendejos would be out there assaulting them.  I'm not saying Chicken was on the wrong side of the debate, hell, I was on his side, but threatening people and property is not how normal adults get their way.  That's how racists kept “niggers” out of their schools and neighborhood for generations.  That's how fellow demagogues scared people away for polls for years (and still do in many nations).  More recently, this is the type of behavior exhibited by Tea Party racists.  Chicken: just because you're fighting “the good fight” doesn't mean you get a free pass.

This wasn't the way to win.

Comments (40)

Wow. I got you to sound like Michael Savage. Go me!

Of course, I never said nor did I imply that I nor anyone I know would slash a tire or pour gasoline over a kitten to protest this action. You are being hysterical.

This was a sneaky caper. No sneaky capers allowed. Lets fix the process, and re-visit this in a few weeks and then have a proper hearing and do this correctly. With paper. Write things down. I’m still argueing with people who claim they want a “Blue Bottle Pushcart”. When you tell them it’s the size of a Taco Truck, they ALL say: “Oh. Lets not do that.” All of them.

I’m sorry that you think I threatened anyone. I did no such thing. However, I will forever be able to tell people that all you have to do is a Google search for Uptown Almanac and n****r to see the quality of writing you are doing here. Unseemly epithets, hysterical accusations, quotes out of context and comparing me to bullies keeping the poor and uneducated from voting. Did I fuck your girlfriend?

kisses, chicken

Either you don’t understand the concept of suggestion or you’re attempting to cover your ass. Neither is becoming.

Your 7x7 comment was a clever way of inserting threats into the debate without coming out directly and saying you were going to be participating in said actions yourself. Who were those 1000 people? Your friends and followers? Were they made up? Either way, you were suggesting violence would be heading their way, a threat they, sadly, took seriously.

So no, you didn’t fuck my girlfriend, I just don’t like demagogy (“eww they’re a big business!”) and thinly veiled threats.

I’m with you, Kevin. I used to respect Chicken for the anarchistic energy he brought to the local scene. Now I see he’s a dangerous demagogue who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, truth and safety be damned. Pathetic.

> This was a sneaky caper. No sneaky capers allowed. Lets fix the process, and re-visit this in a few weeks and then have a proper hearing and do this correctly.

We *were* doing it correctly already. You blew it.

A month ago, this was a nice, orderly community process. We were having a nice friendly conversation – with occasional healthy namecalling – until Chicken entered the fight with a slippery slope argument and fact-free petitions.

There had been several meetings which Chicken did not attend, where points were raised and discussed and addressed. Despite their initial cluelessness, RPD was responsive to community concerns: they moved the proposed locations, they reduced the lease from 5 years to 2, they emphasized that we can revoke these permits with 30 days’ notice… And then in comes the Chicken parade, with hyperbole and threats and misinformation, and now one of our great local businessmen is feeling so personally attacked that he fears for the physical safety of his employees.

And as for sneaky capers, if anyone on the anti-vendor side can show how I did not totally demolish all of the arguments Stephen made at http://stopthetrailer.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/stop-the-blue-bottle-coff… then I would love to hear it. Instead… crickets. (Very loud, angry crickets, yelling something about McDonalds and “stores in our green space”.)

I was kind of on the fence on this for a while, but not anymore.

I find it weird to say this, Kevin, but Chicken John is definitely coming across as more reasonable than you here.

Personally, I’m fine with the Blue Bottle cart as a 2-year experiment, and think Chicken and the many other people in an uproar are objecting to a process that seemed pretty reasonable to me.

However, it’s pretty obvious to me that Chicken was engaging in hyperbole here. Spitting mad is normal English idiom, and the rest looks like Chicken’s typically dramatic style, basically saying that people are really upset. Which, although inexplicable to me, is apparently true. I see no threat of violence to person or property there.

Also, Laughing Squid pendejos? Seriously? Why the hate? Scott Beale is one of the nicest people in the world, and he’s coming up on 15 years of effective and generous service to San Francisco artists and the Burning Man community. I understand Chicken John has, as is his way, riled you up, but there’s absolutely no reason to be an asshole because of it.

He was hyperbolic in this entire affair. And crossed the line from “hyperbole” to “lie” many times. Did you read his initial rant? Or his first petition? Totally beyond. He brought a tactical nuke to a noodle fight.

Also, “why the hate?” Kevin hates everyone, and we love him for it.

“lie” – this word is probably unfair. To lie means to say something untrue that you know is untrue. Maybe he honestly believes that one coffee cart is tantamount to a mall. The Slippery Slope Fallacy is a powerful thing.

I’ve never met Scott Beale, so it was not a comment on him directly (I’m sure he’s a nice guy; I’ve never heard a bad thing about the man). However his blog/wordpress tumblr, with his tens of thousands of followers, seems to endlessly support Chicken and give him an audience. Announcing his campaign for mayor. Repeatedly promoting his campaign/”covering” his campaign. Giving him space to write about American Apparel. I’m almost surprised Scott didn’t give Chicken a column on his blog this time around to start shouting off about how Blue Bottle is an evil big business. He gives the man an endorsement of support, his fan follow suit by supporting the cause and emboldening a demogague. So yes, his army of Laughing Squid jackasses.

Love him or hate him, Chicken is an institution of cultural San Francisco. The guy gives tirelessly to events and opportunities for people to get their freak on in the name of keeping this town original. Yes, he benefits personally from the actions he engineers, it’s all part of brand Chicken. He’s a showman first, an artist second and an activist third. Knowing that, I’m willing to give the guy a bit of slack when he tries expressing his activist side. If you sat down and had a beer with the guy, you’d find you have a lot more in common than not.

Laughing Squid’s been doing its thing for 15 years, also a San Francisco cultural institution. The blog is not just Scott, it’s made up of guest bloggers which includes Chicken. LS or Scott do not generally take sides on issues, so even if Chicken posted something to the blog, that’s not a LS endorsement. See John Law vs Burning Man to get a sense of that.

The only culture of SF that Chicken John stands for is the NIMBY crowd, which seems to center around the Mission District and has a problem with EVERYTHING.

Ok, so you’re going to bag on Laughing Squid because Scott should have psychically known that Chicken would one day do something you find objectionable? Or is it because in your imagination he might support Chicken’s current effort? Either way, it’s absurd, and makes you look like a jerk.

If you want to yell at Chicken, fine, yell at Chicken. If you want to yell at Chicken’s followers, fine, yell at them. But stop being an asshole toward people who have absolutely nothing to do with the current issue. Getting on somebody for possibly being an irrational, point-missing demagogue is fine; doing so by irrational point-missing demagoguery is hypocritical, and it makes you look like you’ve lost your shit.

I’m so sick of “Chicken John”. Wish this loser would move back to whereever he came from.

FYI, role is spelled role.

Thanks for bringing up such an important point! The debate would’ve been incomplete without it.

So my two cents.

I know Chicken John. To say that he wouldn’t hurt a fly isn’t even a stretch. He seriously would not hurt a fly. He’s, like, Buddhist or something.

Writing hyperbolic misspelled prose is like breathing to him however. Everyone who actually reads his stuff knows it well. And these people who follow his writings? Mostly artists, nerds and families with little kids. Not exactly the violent types.

Should he have toned it down a bit for a more general audience? Perhaps. But to think that he was actually whipping any of his “followers” up into a violent frenzy is laughable to me.

Is he a demagogue?

S: (n) demagogue, demagog, rabble-rouser (a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular passions and prejudices)

Well, maybe. Technically. But in a way what speaker for a passionate political movement doesn’t qualify for that? I think it’s a bit of an exaggeration to label him as such, but hey exaggeration is exciting.

Hi, Dav! I completely agree with your characterization of Chicken. I too love his persona and hijinks (and I know you’re his friend and you love him like a brother). He’s done great things to keep San Francisco weird. Would he be insulted if I called him the ideological heir of the Merry Pranksters? I think actually that gives too much credit to the Pranksters; they just got better national press than Chicken.

To your point, though, there is a stark difference between an activist and a demagogue. It comes down to knowing where the line is between healthy debate and unhealthy, um, demagoguery. If you rouse the rabble, and the rabble becomes a mob, and the mob commits violence – or even threatens violence – then that crosses the line, and I personally have no problem assigning moral responsibility back to the demagogue. It’s like the legal theory where even if you were only the getaway driver, if your gang kills a bank security guard, you’re responsible for his death, so you can be charged with capital murder. (Note to trolls: that was an *analogy*. I did *not* just call Chicken a murderer.)

To a lesser degree, I’m personally a big fan of objective reality, so I tend to get sensitive when hyperbole becomes untruth. And untruths (as well as exaggerations, non sequitirs, and many other fallacious rhetorical tricks) are all over Chicken’s and Stephen’s various screeds and petitions. See my point-by-point refutation at http://stopthetrailer.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/stop-the-blue-bottle-coff… (which is still unanswered by Stephen or Chicken, so I guess they agree with me).

Also, to other lurkers, please come to my Facebook Page as well as Chicken’s where we’re having a healthy discussion.

mine: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Keep-The-Commercialization-of-Dolores-Park…
Chicken’s: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Citizens-against-the-commercialization-of-…

When I was a ceramics major in college, we all winced at what we called “art jocks.” Basically these were guys who posed as artists, made unusually bad but always big, heavy and luddite art, and spent the rest of their time vying for attention in other ways, like hitting on girls (“I am an artist, wanna suck me off?) and trying to dress like a cross between James Dean and Keith Richards.

Sad to say, San Francisco is filling rapidly with these same personality types, but instead of Art Jocks, I would call them “activist Jocks,”
but everything else is pretty much the same. They are overly aggressive, they pose, and their idea of contributing to things is usually to toss in a heaping dose of inappropriate behavior.

It is they who ruin the DP for everyone else, ruin Burning Man for everyone else, ruin bike culture for everyone else, etc.

But their rich parents are always glad to have them out of their hair.

CJ has become sort of the Jim Jones figure head of this group, replacing Chris Daly who got “termed” out in every sense of the word.

Why are you celebrating??? you haven’t done ANYTHING. Last I heard, El Huarache Loco is still planning on pulling their truck in, generators and all.
Better stop patting yourselves on the back and get back to work intimidating and scaring off La Cocina as well. We don’t want a double standard on our hands now do we??? Why would it be OK to allow one truck to open up in your precious little “national treasure” and not the other?
 idiots.

Chicken for President! Nothing wrong with standing up for what you believe in. Everyone is slinging dirty comments directed to many on both sides. Everyone has offered bad behavior across the board, including our cherished Blue Bottleites. I can say in all seriousness that the reason Blue Bottle pulled out is not because of a few bad eggs and name calling. Let’s get real. This is about City Hall and a process that was done without accountability. The only people to blame are San Francisco’s Recs and Parks Department who screwed everything up. Once again the are getting a free pass while we create the pandomonium. You can like businesses in the park or not but ultimately this whole thing started as having a few push carts in the park, that somehow become kiosks and then grew into power generated trailers that would take up park space 7 days a week. Get real people. It’s not Golden Gate Park or Herman Miller Park where Blue Bottle will be setting up shop soon from what reads in the news. To Alex C. If you actually read the rfp or whatever they are called you will see that “lies” were made all over the place.

> To Alex C. If you actually read the rfp or whatever they are called you will see that “lies” were made all over the place.

Great idea! I’ve just requested the text of the RFP and contracts from Rec and Park. Let’s do some actual research instead of just ranting at each other :-)

BTW I don’t think they’re getting a free pass. If you were at either of the meetings I went to, you’d have been drenched in embarrassed flop sweat from RPD employees who had to sit through people calling them idiots and listing in excruciating detail how they screwed up.

Alex while you are at it can you get the name of the 1000 businesses they said they invited into the parks. It still seems to be a big mystery. Also, was their outreach is supposed to be posted in public places which is law rather than on the internet which many people do not read. At least that’s the case in every other city that I’ve lived in. Let me know. I’ll be here! You can go to the Rec and Park website where rfp should be posted except the parts they took out! Everyone has been dragged through the mud on this one and when you walk into a community where people care about their neighborhood this is bound to happen. You are an obvious supporter of Blue Bottle in the park which is totally cool but in any other city the process would have been scratched and done over when rules were broken and not followed. San Francisco should not get a free pass because Rec and Park says Im sorry. There was no outreach. Period. Of course the neighbors are going to be mad, stand up to be heard. You are obviously doing the exact same thing you are accusing others of doing over the internet. Eh? It’s public opinion and we don’t have to agree. Chicken John has strong beliefs and I agree with his hyperbole. I applaud him for standing up. I have yet to see the supposed threats he made. Can you point me in that direction.

Crystal of Dolores Park Works found links to the permits here:

http://www.doloresparkworks.org/2010/10/the-actual-permits-in-question/
http://www.scribd.com/doc/38840948/Blue-Bottle-s-Permit

Here’s the bit about cleanup (seems pretty forceful to me):

(A) In connection with its use hereunder, Permittee shall at all times, at its sole cost, maintain the Permit Area in a good, clean, safe, secure, sanitary and sightly condition, so far as the Permit Area may be affected by Permittee’s activities hereunder. Permittee agrees to remove all waste, trash, rubbish, papers, cartons and refuse from said Permit Area and within a radius of 100 feet of the areas that the permittee operates.

(B) If Permittee fails after notice from the Department to maintain and keep the Permit Area clean and orderly, the Department may at the expense of the Permittee cure the deficiency at any time. If such problem occurs a second time, the Department reserves the right to revoke Permittee’s permit, and retain all deposits and permit fees already paid in advance.

she also did research on how quiet a Honda 3000i generator is (answer: pretty quiet):

http://www.doloresparkworks.org/2010/10/how-much-sound-does-a-generator-…

Maybe I’m missing something here, but… how is it RPD’s fault that you didn’t know to look at their website to see what public hearings are happening? Seems like a nice enough website to me. It didn’t take me long to find the page where announcements like that are made.

When the Health Department rules say that a food truck has to have a workable bathroom within 150-200 feet and the Park is going to freakin’ close and rennovate the bathrooms that are already there….

How does that work?

The idea of eating stuff prepped by hands that visit whatever local Park porta-pottie is available makes me think…eww. Come to think of it, the Park and Rec folks could have folded this food cart thing into renovations, and done things like, oh, prepped a crappy, underused part of the park for carts. Or arranged to provide an electrical outlet for the carts so they wouldn’t need generators. But Noooo. They treated the locals like crap, snuck this in behind the scenes, sold the park for far less than it was worth, and now, well, guess what…they’re getting served.

Park and Rec screwed this one. Chicken John (does he even live near Dolores Park?) is just self-promoting in a space Park and Rec incompetence gave him. If there is anybody to blame, this failure is entirely and totally park and Rec.

So…If anybody wants to spit somewhere, try spitting (in a metaphorical sense only–I’d suggest writing a strongly worded letter to the Park and Rec Commissioners) at the idiots who screwed this pooch in the first place.

why would use any analogy with the n-word in it. I mean there are so many other analogies (or the same analogy) you could use that would support the same point you were trying to make (better) without using such a vile word. i hope you get hit by a car.

Thanks for your deep thoughts, monkey. It was actually a direct reference to the language being thrown at Blue Bottle: “big-business,” “corporate,” “chain”–all slurs in San Francisco.

Maybe if I used “communists” and McCarthyism as a reference you wouldn’t have gotten your panties all in a bunch? It’s a sad day when we need to be PC even about our nation’s abhorrent past.

i really hope you get hit by a car driven by an African American and bleed to death….slowly.

Could Chicken have a little conflict of interest here? Didn’t he date the owner of Ritual for a while?

This whole thing is so unfortunate. Why should we excuse Chicken John’s hyperbole? Comparing Blue Bottle to McDonald’s was petty and disparaging. Parks and Rec posted a permit application notice in SF Chron, so far as I know, late last year or early this year. I knew about it in January and was excited even before I knew who would be going in.

It amazes me that people can invest so much energy in this when the bottom line is that Parks and Rec operate on a $12 million deficit and were trying to come up with a creative means of generating revenue. Where is the outrage over the violent homeless population that threatens park-goers daily? That’s when it becomes clear that the businesses speaking out against Blue Bottle do indeed have a conflict of interest. They don’t really care about the park; if they did, they’d have spearheaded an organization to preserve the park long ago.

Someone compared this whole fiasco to that old rearranging-the-deck-chairs-on-the-Titanic bit, and it’s spot on.

It’s funny how people called those opposed to vendors taking up space in Dolores Park ‘soft-headed’ and ‘thin skinned’ and were told to ‘get over it’.
Now that Blue Bottle wimps out in the 11th hour those same people are blaming random comments made by one person and are so overly concerned with certain words, hyperbole, and comparisons to McDonalds? Talk about ‘think skinned’?
If its that easy for a beloved local coffee roaster to back down, then how about this ” People who want vendors to carry licenses in the park smell.”
I heard the Parks and Rec department were going to sign the permits and make things official.
“Creative means’ of generating revenue. Give me a break.
Those who are concerned about the Parks and rec department’s fiscal problems should have formed a group a long time ago as well.
We all lose I guess.
But it will be nice to have the park be a park and not have sanctioned license wielding vendors dictate business in Dolores Park.

Riiiiight Dave, I spend my spare hours trolling the park and rec sites for rpds and announcements. When a business goes into a neighborhood or any significant changes take place in a neighborhood by our local government, any neighborhood, it is law to notify the neighborhood with adequate notice allowing for discussion. Usually it is done via postcards and public signage. It’s that simple. I don’t think the average Joe trolls the Park and Rec site consciously nor do many people I know spend time trolling The chronicle or any other local rag. It is up to the city to be responsible. Steps were not followed according to law and are the most basic 101 principles that any and most counties follow. It’s that simple. You like Blue Bottle so yo are fighting for them. I like Blue Bottle but I don’t want them in the park nor so I think it is a good idea to take over public spaces to privatize for profit. The long terms affects on an area are generally negative. There are tons of empty parking lots and cement spaces to create a Vendor Haven. Blue Bottle is destined to become enormous in the future. They are not a McDonalds there yet but a company that brings in over 10 million dollars yearly in only being in business for 5 years?. Not a Mom and Pop business which they are proclaiming. When you are backed by venture capitalists like Blue Bottle there is one goal in mind. Expansion and tons of it. Again, basic 101. The advantage that Blue Bottle has over the Dolores Park community is that they can afford publicists that are in good with every local internet magazine. It’s their job and they do it well. I wish James Freeman all the success in the world. There is a way to do business with a conscience and the other way, barreling through green spaces and neighborhoods that take issue. It does not matter if it is 5 people or 5,000. There are Blue Bottle vendors all over the Dolores Park area. There is space for everyone.

Again, why is it RPC’s fault for not using the permitting process that YOU personally feel they should use? Fact is, they are not the planning department. An existing paved spot in a city park is not the same as commercial storefront property. If you feel like RCP should use the same flawed permitting process used by the planning department, then you should bring it up at a city council meeting.

The dialog would have been better if RPD did not try to continue to push this through as a done deal.

Re: “Parks and Rec operate on a $12 million deficit”

Rec and Parks spends 1.2 million dollars a year on their useless Rec and Park Patrol rent-a-cops.
These boneheads bully way more innocent parkgoers than any homeless person, and are constantly working to increase their numbers, give themselves guns (and raises) and shakedown any person or group who wants to use the parks for the public (for instance free swing dancing lessons in Golden Gate Park).
San Francisco already has a police department that is charged to serve and protect, so what do we need these clowns for?

There.
I just saved Rec and Park 1.2 million dollars a year.
Do this 10 more times and we have a budget surplus.
And we no longer need to consider desperate ideas like renting out public parks as commercial spaces.

http://www.sfweekly.com/2010-06-23/news/reinventing-the-past/
http://www.sfweekly.com/2009-02-11/news/s-f-park-rangers-want-more-power…
http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/Lack-of-oversight-of-SF-park-patrol-rais…
http://www.lindyinthepark.com/2009/06/28/lindy-in-the-park-shut-down-by-…
http://sfist.com/2009/07/05/overzealous_park_rangers.php
http://missiondolorespark.com/2009/06/21/rangers-and-cops-confront-rogue…
http://missionmission.wordpress.com/2009/07/13/city-sanctioned-muggers-h…

So there has been lots of back and forth on this issue on blogs and it seems like there is something the media is totally getting wrong or omitting. Maybe that is because these are mainly foodie type blogs (that just for the record not every person living around Dolores Park reads) or it’s easier to pin the merchants against each other because it makes for a juicy story or angle. But I wanted to state again that from the beginning I (who found out 7 days before the permitting process was to happen- which is not the proper amount of notice) have been bothered by the process conducted by RPD and have nothing personal against Blue Bottle or La Cocina. I have attended all the meetings and public hearings about this since the conflict started way back at the end of August, and since people like Alex Chaffee are calling for documents and such, here is a link to the minutes from the September 19th RP Commission Meeting. http://sfrecpark.org/documents/FileTree/Commission/Minutes/2010/091610%2…
I am assuming this is public record and you can read from the beginning that several organizations who are involved heavily with the park were not notified, a statement from Rachel of DPC asking, myself, Sam Mogannam of Bi-Rite Market, and Crystal who used to be on the Board of DPW (note that she was asked by a public official not to address the Commission). I will let you read it and form your own opinion.
It is unfortunate that James Freeman took the blog posts so serious and felt threatened, I am sure his trailer will be successful wherever it finds a home. He has proven he runs a great business. I do however hope that he can now see how all the mud-slinging, name calling(NIMBY), threats of boycotting, and accusations of crying “sour grapes” from his devoted Blue Bottle fans has possibly effected some of us in the Dolores Park Community.
I look forward to continuing the conversation and working towards coming up with creative solutions to raise money for our beloved parks.
Sorry this is so long-
Best
Michael McConnell, co-owner Fayes Video and Espresso Bar.

Chicken John is a moron and a fraud. Unfortunately I agreed with keeping Blue Bottle out of DP. But really, this idiot doesn’t speak for me and I sometimes hate the fact that his voice is so loud in my neighborhood.

I liked the comments about art jocks. It is highly accurate. These kinds of people are only interested in promoting themselves. I guarantee you if ChickenHeadJohn lived in the USSR he would be the fucking president of the artists union and towing the party line all the way.

Chicken is a fraud. I wish you would shut the fuck up and go away.

Chicken John my balls.

Wow, Kevin. You preposterously try to spin Chicken’s slightly hyperbolic observation about how upset people are into a “threat of violence,” and equate his soapboxing with institutionalized racism, then act like he’s crossing some sacred boundary of good taste?

This post reflects a lot worse on you than it does on Chicken. Sounds like you woke up on a very wrong side of a very wrong bed.

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