In an obvious attempt to gin up their alt cred, the New York Times recently swung through the Mission during an otherwise "old news" San Francisco bar crawl. (Unless you haven't heard of Vesuvio and Tosca, in which case it is most definitely new news.) The result? Rite Spot, a beloved but thankfully sparsely trafficked bar, made their favorites list. And their enthusiasm jumped off the page:
Rite Spot Cafe looks like a white tablecloth Italian restaurant about to breathe its last.
Normally I'd criticize them for this sorry observation, but if anyone knows anything about having one foot in the grave, it's The Times.
Does this mean fancy, borderline-discerning Times readers will start flocking to an our favorite Italian restaurant that serves $4 whiskey shots? Is Rite Spot over? (Also, did I really just link to a clip from Portlandia? Can someone start a Change.org petition to have me banned from life?) We can only hope not.
Previously on Uptown Almanac
6th and Market has been long known as the place to (hopefully) recover your stolen bike. But from the looks of it, our city's transient population of afflicted gutter punks has wised up and moved their operation to the more tony neighborhood of Folsom and Division. SF Citizen uncovered the operation:
They keep their inventory in the four giant tents you can see on this particular block of Division
And their vans, always with the vans.
In fact, these guys are just like the A-Team. You’ve got Mad Dog Murdock on the left there, building away, and there’s B. A. Baracus there on the right with his reverse Mohawk. And Hannibal and Faceman are out cruising in the van looking for more bikes.
Sadly, given SFPD's and the DA's notoriously unfortunate attitude towards arresting and prosecuting bike thieves, we can only imagine this scheme will be met with the very same brand of mob justice that eventually took down Bobby the Bike Thief.
Previously on Uptown Almanac
Odds are, if you pay even the slightest attention to San Francisco's comedy scene, you already know who W. Kamau Bell is. You know, the wickedly funny comedian who called the Bay Area his home for 15+ years. But like so many other of SF's brightest stars, New York City, with its promises of a late-night show on FX produced by Chris Rock and other such worldly temptations, lured him away.
Fortunately for us, he's coming back to town before filming the third season of Totally Biased, taking over Stage Werx on 16th and Valencia this Saturday and Sunday for two appropriately late-night stand-up sets
The show is cheap ($15, or $25 if you want to pay for some sort of "VIP" treatment), miraculously not yet sold out, and it's in the Mission (which appeals to our cat-like tendencies). Not bad for a guy critics (read: other bloggers) are likening to Dave Chappelle.
Anyway, if you haven't seen the show yet, there's a bunch of other clips on YouTube you can dig through, including this gem on racist advertising, interviewing stop & frisk victims, and his take on the Harlem Shake, which I won't link to because aaarrrrggghhhh. Or just watch this bit below:
Cats! They're fussy and lazy and snobby eaters and arbitrarily hate people and often killed by aloof motorists. That's to say, they're just like us (but four-legged and more or less annoying, depending on the cat). And further strengthening this point is Wendy MacNaughton's brilliant new map, San Francisco As Seen By A Cat, As Imagined By A Cat Owner.
Yes, it's a map of how cats interact with our city. But really, take any Joe Schmoe Mission District human inhabitant, force them to get around on Muni, and this is basically their life. Food on Valencia, homeless camps in the southeast corner of the neighborhood, loud kids and small dogs in Bernal, and a host of risk and terror anywhere outside the neighborhood. Plus, Dolores Park is pretty much where everyone goes to reunite their wayward and feral friends.
UPDATE: Wendy just dropped us a note, altering us that this map is apart of her and her partner Caroline's new book, Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation and GPS Technology. The short of it is their fine cat took a 5 week long vacation in the streets of San Francisco, and through GPS technology, they were able to "stalk" it until their eventual rejoining (or, as Wendy more concisely puts it, "It's all about technology, cats and SF. Yes, seriously.")
It comes out April 9th, complete with a launch at The Booksmith that night!
If you haven't been down Erie Alley (across the street from Rainbow Grocery) lately, there's a whole bunch of rad new graffiti and smells to take in.
Dolores Park picnickers without a pot to piss in will soon have a pod to piss in. Or something. Anyway, it's called the "pPod" (or, as we prefer to call it, "The Masturbation Station") and city officials hope to include it in next year's renovation of Dolores Park.
The thinking is the European-style pissoir will help curb all the public urination that happens on warm days in the park, when everyone balloons up on warm Tecate and elects to wash down the Muni tracks instead of wait in the 20+ minute bathroom lines.
According to SocketSite, which seems to fancy itself as the number one source for piss press, "The pissoir would have a front and back semi-circle screen consisting of specialized wire fencing covered with vines a three-foot diameter concrete base and a sanitary drain with a fine mesh grate. A user would enter the pissoir from the existing north-south internal pathway and face the interior of the Park." There will also be a one-way drain to prevent it from smelling, poles to prevent the inevitable drunken popping of squatting, and no sink for the hands you weren't going to wash anyway.
Of course, while we're sure most reasonable people think this is a fine development for the park, it seems "plugged in" park neighbors are already voicing their criticisms in SocketSite's comments. As one proclaims, "I live right across the street from this proposed 'pPod' and fear that this will cause a lot more problems down the road with odor, nudity, and the list can go on (none of it is positive). How do we avoid this from getting installed? I want to prevent my neighborhood from becoming like the Tenderloin." Or, as another puts it, "The very idea of a pissoir seems sexist."
Given the mounting opposition, we're sure it'll be another 18-36 months of lengthy community meetings before this titular homage to Steve Jobs is installed.
Previously on Uptown Almanac
While San Francisco's State Senator Mark Leno is busy trying to extend California's last call until 4 a.m., city Supervisor David Campos is taking
a much more puritanical stance on alcohol sales. [Campos misspoke, see update below]
"I'm for limiting the sale of small alcohol bottles," the Mission District's supervisor, who hopes to join Leno in Sacramento in 2014, told a crowd of 35 during last Thursday's meeting of the Lower 24th Merchant's & Neighbors Association. He also stated that they "create a number of problems," but did not elaborate further before changing the subject.
The statement came amidst a discussion about preserving 24th Street's vibrancy, with local merchants hoping that easing the Mission's liquor license moratorium on small, predominately Latino grocers will abate 24th's recent upscale restaurant boom by opening the markets to new sources of revenue. The current prohibitions on liquor licenses favor large, corporate businesses at the expense of small neighborhood markets, such as Casa Lucas on 24th and Alabama.
Currently, a market must be over 5,000 sq ft to apply for a license--smaller neighborhood markets are prohibited from obtaining one--and obey a strict set of limitations as to what they can and cannot sell.
Campos indicated that he supports allowing all markets, regardless of size, to obtain liquor licenses, but supports controlling what they can and cannot sell for an unspecified public good.
We are left to speculate that banning tall boys is Campos's strategy for fighting alcoholism and vagrancy, which strikes us as a very ineffective and Bloombergian solution to a noticeably declining problem.
We reached out to Campos's staff for clarification on his position, but are yet to hear back. In the meantime, we're ever-so glad Dolores Park falls outside his jurisdiction.
Updated @ 5:40pm: Campos's aide Nate Albee got back to us and clarified his position. Campos had meant to say that he supports the ABC regulations as they stand now, which ban "airplane bottles" (usually sized between 1 or 2 ounces) of hard booze and individual beer bottles less than 24oz from being sold in grocery stores, and he merely wants to expand the pool of businesses that can apply for licenses to sell liquor. Needless to say, his remarks didn't come out clearly.
Campos hopes to file legislation in the coming weeks to allow small grocery stores to sell beer and wine.
Previously on Uptown Almanac
As cyclists in this city know, getting doored happens more often that you think it does. Just last weekend our very own fearless blogger KevMo was doored by taxi on Sanchez St, which resulted in a swollen knee and a higher than usual bar tab later that night. I was doored by SFPD on my birthday 2 years ago. Commuters and messengers get doored on Market street on a weekly basis. But not everyone walks away with only minor injuries and a dented front wheel when they get doored. Recently, San Francisco resident Melissa Moore had a harrowing experience on Polk Street which left her in immense pain. As she told Streetsblog:
Just before 9am, I was going east on McAllister about to turn left onto Polk Street. I waited for a car to take a right onto Polk before I made my turn. About halfway up the block, the car pulled into the bike lane in front of me and then parked (despite the fact that there was an available driveway less than 10 feet in front of him). I maneuvered out into the street to circumvent the car. When I reached the driver side, he swung open his door into my bike. (I later learned that the door caught my right pedal.) I crashed into the street, pretzeled with my bike. There was a white flash and a feeling of something snapping, then darkness. I heard muffled voices asking if I was okay. Unable to speak or move for a couple minutes, I searched for my breath and assessed if the snapping was my spine breaking. It hurt immensely and I expressed that to the anonymous voices. The driver asked if I wanted him to call the police and I said “yes.” Then I felt hands on me, pulling me up off the ground.
Melissa goes on to recount when the police came, her going to the hospital, etc., but the worst is what happened when she filed a claim with the drivers insurance company, Geico. They claimed that she was 20% at fault in this accident because, as Geico puts it, she "failed to control [her] speed in order to avoid an accident and lost control of [her] bicycle."
Let that sink in for a minute. A cyclist, going uphill on Polk street, failed to control her speed, and crashed into a door.
I don't personally know Melissa, so I don't know how fast she is on a bike or how strong a of climber she is, but I'm betting that she did not accelerate into the door while sprinting uphill on her mountain bike. And I know that I am not wrong because there is a video of the entire accident. Watch for yourself:
As you can see, she suddenly accelerates to Lance Armstrong on EPO speeds and completely rips off the drivers side door due to the force of the impact, all while screaming HULK SMASH. Or at least that's what Geico sees this as. Unbelievable.
I'd also like to point out that California Vehicle Code 22517, as mentioned in the Streetsblog article, is very ambiguous. While the code states that you cannot open your car door into traffic unless it's safe to do so, it offers no protection for cyclists who have to weave in and out of traffic because of drivers that do stop in the bike lane, taxi or private car. It does, however, does apply when a cyclist is riding to the right of the car in a non-designated bike lane, like on Market St. This law was made to protect cyclists, but it cannot protect cyclists in all situations, so what could be changed to better protect cyclists like Melissa and everyone else who rides bikes?