Bricks and Invective Hurled at Vanguard Properties, Windows Broken

This morning, contractors were busy repairing two windows broken some time after close of business last week at the Mission Street headquarters of realtor and property manager Vanguard Properties.  A person in Vanguard’s office told us two halves of a brick were found inside, but no other information was left to suggest who threw the brick or why.

A message signed “Venceremos” was posted to Indybay the following morning taking credit, citing the new condos 3133 24th Street put up for sale last year and the trade of foreclosed homes in Oakland (like a home at 2678 75th Street that’s listed on the realtor’s website) as reasons for targeting Vanguard:

Last night, on February 28th, the windows of Vanguard Properties in the Mission District were smashed out. Vanguard thought it was pretty funny to build some luxury condos on 24th, but we thought it was more funny for their property to get smashed. Vanguard thought it was pretty funny to buy foreclosed houses in Oakland and flip them at a profit. We think its more funny to bring the fight to the developers themselves. Greetings to everyone fighting the good fight. 

LA LUCHA SIGUE / Brigada Anti-Gentrification

As you can see from photos of the scene, security cameras may have captured footage of the incident. We’ve left voicemail for Vanguard founder James Nunemacher and a comment for the Indybay thread seeking further information, but have yet to hear back.

Update: Reached by phone, a terse Nunemacher directed further inquiries about details of the incident to the SFPD, saying that “we gave them everything they need to investigate.” He continued, “It’s a shame that people resort to vandalism…I mean, it’s kinda random. You throw bricks through someone’s windows because they build condos? Honestly, I feel sorry for these people.”

The Wrecking Ball Tolls for Thee

Plans to Demolish Elbo Room Proceed Apace

It looks like plans to replace Elbo Room with condos are moving along after all, if slowly, according to SocketSite:

While it has yet to be assigned within the Planning Department, the application for Environmental Evaluation has been submitted for the development, a geotechnical report has been completed for the site, and a Historic Resource Evaluation form has been signed with planning for a full Historic Resource Evaluation Report underway.

We’ve reached out to the Elbo Room via Facebook, where a response to earlier reports assured patrons that the live music venue will be around for a while.  It’s true that it could take years before any bulldozers decend on the site even if it sails through planning.

And it just might, as the proposed development looks a lot like the plans for 1050 Valencia—five stories with ground-floor retail—which is going to move forward at the originally proposed height after an effort to downsize it by neighbors afraid of losing their taxpayer-subsidized street parking was overturned by the San Francisco Board of Appeals.

So you might start looking for public comment opportunities available during the permitting and approval process so you can voice your vocal opposition (or support, if that’s your thing).

[Photo: total13]

End of an Era

Pop's Will Close Tonight For Major Renovations

We’ve known this was going to happen for a while now, so there are no surprises here.  Still?  Damn.  Tonight is the last night before Pop’s is taken over by MadroneVia bartender Dara Santhai:

Tonight is definitely the last night at Pops as we have known it! This time for reals!!! I would really like all my friends to try and come out, it would really mean a lot to me. To all my patrons and coworkers that I’ve become friends with from all my years working there I will miss you all so much! I’m feeling pretty sentimental right now. I wish I could keep on serving you guys drinks somehow, and this is definitely the end of an era for me. Now I won’t know what the hell to do with myself for a while. Well…please come out tonight I would like it to be a good one!!!

Pop’s manager Tuffy tells us over email that the bar “will close for about 3 months for renovations and upgrades. At least half of the staff (including me) are staying on for the new bar.”

Also? “Bring the PMA. This is a celebration and not an invitation to steal shit or trash the place.”

[Photo: Jeremy Brooks]


Pansy Division's Jon Ginoli Talks Queercore, Going on the Dookie Tour, & 25 Years in the Mission

Pansy Division is the first all-out gay rock band that had success in the pop world. Formed in 1991 by Jon Ginoli, they’re known for their melodic rock & roll sound, similar to what you would hear in recent bands such as Shannon and the Clams, Tijuana Panthers, and Mrs. Magician.

The band came to the national stage while opening up for Green Day when touring in support of the Dookie album. The tour started with playing clubs and, by the end of the tour, the bands were playing to audiences of 20,000. Jon talked with us about moving to San Francisco, the significance of being an out rock band in the ‘90s, what its now like living in San Francisco as a musician, and reflecting on 25 years in the Mission.

You can catch Jon Ginoli performing with Bob Mould tonight at Great American Hall as part of Noise Pop.

UA: What brought you to San Francisco?
Jon Ginoli: I had lived in Central Illinois in a college town and I was looking to live in a gayer place. I wasn’t sure if I was going to go to California, but the last year in Illinois, we had a really cold winter and I said to hell with it, not everybody has to go through this.

When I got here in ‘89, I felt I had got to the right place. My rent was $325 a month; I had 3 roommates. And that wasn’t even the lowest. This is in the Mission. For a Mission flat in 1989, the entire 4 bedroom place rented for 1300 dollars. And that’s how musicians have survived in San Francisco.

UA: How did it feel when you first got here… what was the city’s energy like?
JG: It was exciting on one hand, and had a lot of activity. But I remember thinking a lot at that time about how empty San Francisco seemed. The north east Mission near where I lived just seemed to be abandoned. I remember riding my bike around the area and seeing all these empty buildings, thinking, “I know a lot of people who would love to live in these buildings. Why are these buildings sitting empty?” None of my friends got to live in them because they all became condos.

UA: What caused you to form Pansy Division?
JG: As someone that grew up loving rock & roll and being gay, there seemed to chasm. It seemed like the only musicians allowed to be out was people doing disco, which was played in gay clubs.

One of my long-standing gripes is that there is this thing being called dance music. And that’s what you are allowed to dance to in dance club. Whereas what people actually dance to over the years is a varied thing, but you put it into this dance club setting it becomes a product that is very uniform.

This was also a time when nobody was out in rock & roll yet. No one. Everyone you think was out… was not. I remember in ‘89 that there was the rap group N.W.A., and I thought, “wow, in hip hop you can be all these things, and in rock ‘n roll you can be all these things, but the one thing you can’t be is gay.” And I remember thinking, “alright if no one is going to do it, if no one is going to speak up, I want to sing about gay topics and do rock ‘n roll.”  It was an opportunity to sing about the things I wanted to sing about.

You have to remember this is the time of the AIDS crisis, so there was a lot of homophobia, but also a sympathy and realization that, yah, gay people aren’t going away and we have to deal with this. Also the alternative rock thing was really taking off, so if I had a band that was poppy and melodic with gay subject matter, some people would like it.

I had this idea back in Illinois, but couldn’t imagine an audience until I got here. I also didn’t think I would be the one to do it. I thought somebody that is gay is going to come out, and this whole thing is going to start. But then I realized no one was going to do it, so I did. Other people had the same idea that I did, and at the same time. One of the forgotten chapters is the band Tribe 8, which was a dyke band that started at the same time as us, and are an interesting parallel to us.

UA: I just listened to the ‘90s Howard Stern segment where he went to the Green Day Dookie show and spent a lot of time talking about Pansy Division. It reminded me that this was the time where the country was finally starting to talk about sexuality in the media and not hiding it so much.
JG: One of the things that is important is mainstream visibility, and [for the gay rock movement] Nirvana was a really important band.  At that time, Guns ‘n Roses and Nirvana were the two big bands. And what a stark contrast you have: Kurt Cobain, somebody who was pro-gay, and Axel Rose, who just spews homophobia in his lyrics and comments. That was a really interesting divide. In ‘92 there was a ballot measure in Oregon to restrict gay rights. There was a benefit concert against it and Nirvana headlined. And this was the early height of their career. That makes a tremendous difference on how these things are filtered down to kids. So when we got to do the tour with Green Day, it was really interesting to get out there and face kids.

With Green Day, they had been on the same label as us before they moved to Warner Brothers, and they had wanted to make a statement by having us opening up, saying they aren’t your typical rock band product. I think that worked very well for both of us. People could see that Green Day was thoughtful, and that we had something to offer. It was a mind-blowing experience for both us, and for the audiences, which had a very mixed reaction to us.

Back in ‘94 and ‘95, we would get letters from teenagers from all over the country who had seen us open for Green Day. They would write us and tell us about what was going on in their high school, like a really homophobic teacher, or a really cool teacher, or a person standing up for the gay kid in class. It was quite the experience.

UA: Of course there plenty of bands with all GLBTQ members, but there does seem to be a lot less in rock ‘n roll… and way less queer rock coming out than during the queercore scene of the ‘90s… is that a fair comment?
JG: I just don’t think its as big of a deal now. Like I said earlier, if someone had come out earlier and said, “I’m an out [rock] musician,” then I wouldn’t haven’t done what I did, and I don’t know what my life would be like. Even though we weren’t a huge band, we kicked in the door, and a lot of people came in after us. They didn’t want to be first, and I understand that.

UA: Lately San Francisco has been going through a lot of growing pains. I know you’ve seen it go through booms and busts before. How do you feel about the current situation, and how does it compare to other boom/busts?
JG: During the last boom there weren’t tens of thousands people living in San Francisco and working 30, 40, 50 miles away in the South Bay. It’s the way that San Francisco has become a bedroom community, which has really distorted the housing market here. But I also think the changes this time are more permanent.

The appeal when I moved here was that it was expensive compared to the Midwest, but still pretty cheap. San Francisco in the early 90’s seemed to have a lot of possibilities that did not seemed foreclosed by the sake of needing a lot of money. It was easy to move here, and a lot of people would come and go. I mean someone would go move to Berlin for a year, and easily move back the next year.  That isn’t news to anyone who’s been living here, but there was a freedom of mobility, and the idea that you could come and go and live somewhere cheap in the neighborhood you want to live in. That’s all gone now.

So when people say San Francisco is over, they are partly right. But a lot of us still persist, so until we’re gone, the whole thing hasn’t changed completely. What is going to change things is that the people who want to move here, and continue in the legacy that city has, won’t be able to.

There are pockets of resistance, but I don’t see how anyone that isn’t rich can move here. I know people who I would encourage to move here, but now I say no. It’s hand-to-hand combat to get an apartment.

A lot of people are tempted to come here, but they won’t be able to stay. I think people in the rest of country are starting to understand how hard it can be. I live in the Mission with a couple of stable roommates. But downstairs? The turnover rate is amazing. People in their 20s who keep coming here but failing and having to leave. It’s interesting to watch, and kind of sad.

UA: I have some friends wanting to move here. And 3 years ago, I would have told them to come. But now? “You don’t want to move here.” Even in a year it might be easier if the bubble pops. But you never know.
JG: You never know.

One of the reasons why I moved to the city is because it’s a gay city, and it’s still a very gay city. The difference now is, say you find someone and you fall in love with them, and you want to live together… it’s pretty much impossible unless one of you is rich. So if you want to live with your partner: let’s say you manage to find a place, and move in. If you break up you’re exiled from the city; I’ve seen it happen before. And that isn’t good for the city. People moving here can’t decide to move in together because they can’t get an apartment, or getting one means an incredible rent rise. It just changes the whole tenor of what its like to be here, and find someone to be in love. Will you get to live together maybe… but not in the city you love.

Hearts and Minds

Google to Fund Free Muni Bus Program for SF Youth

Today, the proletariat faction of San Francisco’s Great Class War claimed another victory as Google announced a plan to fund San Francisco’s Free Muni for Youth program at a cost of $6.8 million.  Via the Chronicle:

The donation is enough to cover the projected cost of the program for two years. It comes as tech companies are facing a steady backlash from city residents upset about rising housing costs and gentrification, which are often blamed on the large numbers technology workers living in the city but commuting to Silicon Valley on corporate shuttles.

The program, pushed forward by Supervisor David Campos and the Free Muni for Youth Coalition, gives San Franciscans ages 5 to 17 from low and moderate income families free Muni passes.

Of course, this is gravy for Google’s PR team. As Muni has, ahem, struggled with its finances over the years, the program has been criticized for its cost.  Now Google can come in and celebrate funding a program that directly helps the city’s poor.  What’s more?  They’re children!

But let’s not be too cynical here.  Good on Google for listening to their critics and stepping up—this program is good for San Francisco, and the money will undeniably help SFMTA’s budgetary woes.  As the Chronicle summed up the collective reaction from the city’s leaders and activists, “they are happy to see the tech company getting involved but hope it’s just the first step in an ongoing dialogue with those most impacted by the city’s tech boom.”  Word.

Buzzword Bingo

PizzaHacker: A Restaurant Way Less Obnoxious Than Their Name Suggests

San Francisco’s buzz-based lexicon is at the grim point that anytime someone mentions “hacker” or “maker” or “maple bacon cupcake” with even a touch of sincerity, you have to push the vomit back down your throat and flee from the conversation while giving your ears a vulgarity-laced enema.

And it this very reason I feel bad for PizzaHacker. When Jeff Krupman dubbed his business “PizzaHacker” back in 2009, the word was yet to be corporatized into soothing meaninglessness, and his then street food setup was completely cobbled together (as anyone privy to his old operation can tell you, his “FrankenWeber“—a 22.5 inch Weber grill modded to be a 1000F degree wood-burning oven—was damn impressive).

So Krupman has some legitimate claim to the word, and we can appreciate why he kept the name when he moved into a permanent location at the foot of Bernal Heights two months back.

The new restaurant is certainly worth a visit.  With wooden picnic tables and strung-up Christmas lights, it’s hard to escape the feeling that you’re eating in a monied private school’s attempt at an inconspicuous high-school cafeteria—yet, somehow, it works.

PizzaHacker’s pizza itself is some of the best around.  The sauce is the right combination of sweet and tangy, there’s ample cheese, and the dough, created from a process pioneered by Tartine, gets the job done.  My only complaint is that PizzaHacker treats salt as a topping, and it’s so prevalent on the crust, it’s hard to taste anything else.

Alas, they charge $15 for what amounts to a personal pizza.  Normally this would cause me to clutch my heart and leave the restaurant, but having lived in the Mission long enough, I’ve become immune to this line of outrageousness.  San Francisco!  $15 pizza!  Life goes on.

PizzaHacker: 3299 Mission @ 29th.

[Interior photo by KQED]

The North Beachification Continues

Esta Noche Closing, Turning Into a "New York Style Lounge"

We reported last May that 16th Street’s prized Latino gay bar was struggling with financial issues.  But despite a series of fundraisers, the bar wasn’t able to stay afloat.  Now Eater reports that WISH Bar and Lounge is poised to take over “shortly”:

The Wish team is still developing a concept to replace Esta Noche’s well-worn ambiance, but say that a great cocktail program and comfortable environment are in the works. “There’s a lot of history in that space, and we definitely want to preserve that,” says Hutchins, who notes that some details, like the arch above the bar, will be carried over once the two-month interior renovation is complete. However, fans of the spot’s historically gay-friendly dive bar atmosphere will see a radical change to something more akin to Wish’s loungey vibe.

WISH markets themselves as a “New York style lounge featuring the best local House music DJ’s in a […] sexy den of wood, leather, red velvet, and glowing candles.” They also offer a “very competitive bottle service program.”

The new owners will continue to run the bar as Esta Noche for a “few months” to give regulars a chance to take their parting shots, then they’ll close it for the summer for renovations.

[Eater | Photo: Graham Russell]