Not That There's Ever Any Bullshit in Comedy

I'll Leave You With This: A New Comedy Show Without the Bullshit

The Cynic Cave continues growing their esteemed set of comedic programming this weekend, unveiling a show on Sunday that just leaves audiences with the hits:

On May 11th, 9 comics will cut out most of their bullshit act and leave you with the joke/jokes they keep closest to their hearts: their closers. Jam packed with their own personal favorites, old faithfuls and maybe even some new tricks, I’ll Leave You With This will teach these comics their ABCs- ALWAYS. BE. CLOSING.

Advanced tickets are available now. Only $10!

Protests

Local's Empire Picketed, Vandalized Following Renewed Claims of Discrimination

After negotiations between SF Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) and Yaron Milgrom of the Local’s empire broke down, the group held a “Flyering Against Discrimination” protest last night to shed light on allegations of racial discrimination and sexual harassment against the business.

ACCE wrote of the protest:

To the naked eye, Local’s Corner looks like any other overpriced restaurant that’s popped up in the Mission in recent years. But it’s even worse. It has denied service—at least twice—to groups of Mission residents of color who tried to order food. Its owner, Yaron Milgrom, owns three other businesses in the neighborhood: Local’s Eatery, Local’s Market and Local’s Cellar. A server at Local’s Eatery has filed suit for sexual harassment. Join us as we tell Milgrom to respect civil rights, issue a public apology, and give back to the community through local hire, affirmative action and community benefits agreements.

Join us as we pass out and post hundreds of flyers in the neighborhood calling on Mission residents to boycott Local’s businesses.

Also stay tuned for Sunday May 25. We will be picketing one or more “Local’s” establishments during Carnaval, the busiest day of the year in the Mission.

However, as a tipster noted, the awareness campaign spread into vandalism late last night, with at least Local Mission Market having “die” and “get lost!!!” spray painted across the building.

The original claim of discrimination against Sandra Cuadra and her family resulted in Milgrom writing a public apology and promising to review the situation with staff.  The sexual harassment suit was settled out of court shortly after our story on the suit was published.

Photos from outside Local Mission Eatery last night, and Milgrom’s written statement to protesters, after the jump.

Fluid Sharing Economy

San Francisco is Alive and Well in the Back of the Hook-Up Truck

The Hook-Up Truck, which bills itself as a “mobile ‘meeting room’ available for short term rentals accommodating intimate relations,” has been gobbling up headlines ever since it was unveiled.  How could it not?  Combining the seediness of per-hour hotels and food trucks, the fuck truck parks outside of Bay Area bars and charges inflamed genitals and their human hosts $75 for 30 minutes of truck-rockin’ passion.  It’s oh so perfectly Bay Area.

Recently, the unassuming truck, painted white and packed full of boxes, made its grand debut at Art Murmur and in the Mission.  Writing “the Hook-Up Truck is here to remind you that yes, this is still San Francisco,” Ian Eck of SF Magazine followed the truck around during its climatic kickoff:

With that, it was wham, bam, thank you ma’am, and off went the truck to San Francisco. Hot on its heels, I BARTed across the Bay (originally I was promised a seat in the back of the truck, but the full set of benches had yet to be installed), but I still made it in time to catch the marching band Mission Amnesia greet the Hook-Up Truck. Standing in front of Jim’s Restaurant at 20th and Mission, illuminated by the lights of news cameras, they blasted out lively swing music into the Friday night air: “You gotta hook uuup with someone.”

The crooning chorus made the onlooking crowd giggle. A few of the more buzzed participants broke into dance. One homeless man on the outskirts bobbed his head approvingly, PBR tallboy in hand. When I asked onlookers whether they’d hook up in a truck, the reactions were mixed. “No. I have a nice condo down the street,” said one woman. “Absolutely I would do it,” said her friend. A man disagreed: “Brothers don’t wanna get caught,” he said, eyeing up the hovering media camera nearby.

Yes, it was quite the scene:

[SF Mag]

Progress!

16th Street Contiues to Go Dark as Idol Vintage is Pushed Off By Soaring Rents

As landlords surrounding Valencia Street ogle their neighbor’s success—and commensurate high rents—they continue raising rents and displacing businesses in hopes of remaking their streets and properties in Valencia’s image.

No where is this quite as obvious as 16th Street, where once vibrant storefronts sit boarded up, passively awaiting monied tenants and even trendier businesses to move in.  The latest victim in this pursuit is Idol Vintage, the used clothing haven that’s sat at 16th and Albion for 13 years.

None of this is too surprising, of course.  When we originally reported last spring that Liz Claiborne was pushing for Adobe Books’ eviction from their then-16th Street location, we mentioned “that representatives from Jack Spade allegedly went into neighboring retailer Idol Vintage ‘without warning’ and ‘literally measured the store with a tape measurer’ with future expansions in mind.”

While the proposed Jack Spade store went down in flames following extensive community backlash, it was clear that the landlord that jacked Adobe’s rent by 87.5% would hit Idol Vintage with similar increases.  And when Idol’s lease expired last year, that’s exactly what happened.

“Once our lease was up, our landlord raised our rent to $7,500 a month [from $5,000],” Idol’s owner, Dolores, told us when reached by phone.

$7,500 is already high for most businesses, but especially so for one that specializes in selling vintage clothes.  However, it was made even harder to stomach by the rent increases, displacement, closures, and property sales has left Idol’s block of 16th between Valencia and Guerrero with five empty storefronts in the last year—and foot traffic severely reduced.

Andalu closed in January to make way for a forthcoming Chinese restaurant from Tacolicious, Tokyo GoGo shuttered in favor of a new upscale cocktail bar currently under construction, Adobe Books was pushed onto 24th Street by Jack Spade, an auto garage closed and sold for $8.7 (presumably) for condos, and Val 16 Market closed after their landlord allegedly raised their rent over $10k.  The result of this was that January and February were some of Idol’s slowest months in their history, despite the higher rents.

“If we were on Valencia, we wouldn’t have to move,” Dolores stressed.  “But with all the closed businesses on 16th, there’s just not enough foot traffic.”

Like many retailers before her, she’s relocating south to 25th and Mission (2967 Mission, to be exact), where rents are “half as much.”  And they’re scrambling to open before the Bay to Breakers rush, with a grand re-opening celebration scheduled for next Saturday.

As for their old location? Dolores tells us representatives from a hamburger chain was sizing up the property before Idol could finish packing.

NIMBY ALERT!

The Chapel Already Getting Grief From Neighbors

We’ve given Valencia a lot of shit over the last couple years.  Most recently, we’ve referred to it as “San Francisco’s premier boulevard of bullshit” amidst a “turbocharged tailspin into terrible.”  Perhaps this isn’t totally fair.  Take The Chapel: it’s nothing short of a neighborhood treasure—they consistently book solid acts across a range of genres, the prices aren’t ridiculous for a club, and the venue itself is solid.

However, Curbed reports that neighbors aren’t as stoked with the venue as we are:

Since the beginning of business operations, staff has received emails from neighbors with concerns about excessive noise and deliveries coming late at night. If the Planning Commission decides that they’re not in compliance, they can request that this project be scheduled for a public hearing again to modify the conditions or to revoke the approvals.

A Planning Commission memo states there are a “spectrum of issues” and that “noise complaints from neighbors indicate that there is excessive noise originating from a variety of sources including patron noise, amplified music, idling vehicle noise, and noise from employees on breaks.”

For a venue that’s been open for less than a year and a half, this certainly isn’t a good start.  And with a preliminary hearing scheduled for tomorrow, let’s hope they can figure this out before it goes any further.

[Curbed]

Death Watch

Grim Reaper Lurks Outside Amber Dhara

This scene parked outside Amber India’s Valencia outpost surprised me for two reasons: unions have been protesting outside corporate retailers downtown daily since there have been unions.  This is nothing new.  But I cannot remember a time they bothered with the lil’ old Mission District.  It seems now that Valencia is among the heaviest trafficked streets in the city, unions have learned what Greenpeace has known for years and are bringing their shame campaigns to the corridor.  What fun!

But Amber Dhara?  Really?  The death chef standing next to Death himself tells us they’re protesting the restaurant because they refused to hire union carpenters, which is fine.  But customers have been protesting their boring food and 70s coke den decor since they opened—they hardly need any help scaring away business.

Regardless, you have to hand it to the union: they couldn’t have picked a more appropriate symbol to stick outside the ever desolate restaurant.

For Whom the Wrecking Ball Tolls

Flax Art & Design on the Chopping Block (For Condos, Of Course)

This again?  Yup, this again.  We here at Uptown Almanac have written so many of these stories on doomed neighborhood institutions lately, we cannot dredge up the energy to be creative about it.  But here we are: FLAX Art & Design at the corner of Valencia and Market is shaping up to be next target of condo frenzy.

The Preliminary Project Assessment filed with the Planning Department on March 28th sums the plans up nicely:

Demolish existing 60 year old 1 & 2 story industrial/commercial building and surface parking lots. Construct new 9-story residential (160 units) and commercial (4,500 sf) building with 123 below-grade parking spaces. Proposed project was designed to be respectful to neighboring buildings by providing setbacks; access is from side streets; building and main courtyard are oriented to take advantage of sun exposure and light; ground floor retail activates Market Street.

Hoodline, who broke the news of the plans, notes:

Flax Art & Design is a family-owned business that opened its first shop in San Francisco in 1938. This specific location began as a warehouse and discount retail store in 1977, and became the flagship store in 1981.

We spoke to a Flax manager on duty to ask if the company was aware of the plans, and she confirmed that they are aware of what’s going on. She said that nothing is set in stone, and if anything did happen, it wouldn’t begin for another two years.

This sounds a lot like the reaction of the owners of Elbo Room, who insisted the venue was safe despite the building owner pushing demolition plans forward.  But who knows—we’ll just have to sit back and see how this all plays out.

[Photo: Patric Butler]

Courting the Leather Vote

Kink for Campos Serves Vanilla

“Mainstreaming” is the process of making something accessible to a wider audience, which inevitably makes it less transgressive.

As anyone in the Mission will tell you, the transformative power of mainstreaming comes with costs, both real and imagined. Kink.com has played a role, both naughty and nice, in the larger transformation of the neighborhood surrounding it, and has been born of and shaped by many of the same power dynamics itself.  Nowhere was that more clear that an otherwise unremarkable campaign fundraiser put on by Kink owner Peter Acworth for State Assembly candidate David Campos at the Armory Club on Monday night.

This was no Jack Davis party: besides some shirtless bros, the fetish art and a speaker’s bare feet, there wasn’t much skin, so it was all very respectable and therefore pretty boring.  The media can be excused for some sensational coverage—local publications depend on a certain “point and laugh at San Francisco” demographic of prudes around the country for page views—but at this point, there’s not much controversy around courting the leather vote, at least not locally. Statewide or national ambitions might be another matter.

“I tend to want politicians to leave me alone,” Acworth joked to the crowded bar after the stumping was underway. “And I leave them alone.”  But Acworth could use some friends here and in Sacramento, as Assembly Bill 1576 requiring condoms in adult film production could make it more difficult or expensive to continue doing business in California.  Acworth later acknowledged personally that moving his operation to Las Vegas was a real possibility, meaning he’d want to go ahead with plans to convert the Armory building into office space.

Campos is by no means the first politician Acworth supported, just the most generously supported. By being the first to engage with Acworth “pro-actively,” the Campos for Assembly campaign has received donations from the entrepreneur in February and March totaling $1,200.  In the past, Acworth has contributed $125 to Mark Leno for State Senate in 2008; at least $500 to Rebecca Prozan for Supervisor 2010 and Bevan Dufty for Mayor 2011; while John Rizzo Supervisor got $500 from Acworth and Christina Olague got $500 from Cybernet Enterainment, Acworth’s company, when both were running for the District 5 Supervisor seat in 2012.

Leno has long been an enthusiastic supporter of the leather community, and at least among other LGBT politicians, stumping at Folsom to whip up the vote is de rigeur.  Interestingly, until 2010 Acworth listed himself as a “Self Employed” “Movie Producer and Distributor” on local election financing forms. But starting in 2011, he’s listed as the President, Web Entrepreneur or Owner of Kink.com—because there’s being out, and then there’s being out on campaign finance disclosure forms!  

Of course, none of these candidates have run for statewide office yet, so it’s too early to judge if such transparency might hurt them at the polls.  As 50 Shades of Grey crossed over, both the business of Kink.com and its physical plant were on the frontier between existing organizations catering to the community in SOMA and the influx of monied libertines, many if not most of them heterosexual, looking to have some risqué fun in the Mission.  

In his formal remarks Campos praised the city’s nightlife and entertainment industry, which he said was why he, “like so many in the LGBTQ community came to San Francisco,” and expressed his “fear that we’re going to lose the role that nightlife and entrainment play.” He then thanked Acworth and Kink for being “a very responsible partner in this community,” citing their safety efforts, fundraising drives and event hosting. “For that I want to thank you, Peter.”

But when asked afterward about the statewide condom requirement law backed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Campos assured that his position hasn’t changed, he is pro-condom.  When asked about what kind of jobs he wanted to see created by companies like Kink (or the startups that replace it when the Armory is converted to office space), he responded with his own question: “How are we sure these jobs are available to the neighborhood,” including “women and people of color?”

Kink certainly employs a lot of women as independent contractors, on commission.  But when SF Weekly columnist Matt Smith revealed to officials that full-time employees of the company were enrolled in a state-funded job training program at the Bay Area Video Coaltion, the funding was cut off.  Campos wasn’t familiar with the incident, nor was Acworth, particularly.  Even though it’s the very kind of technical training that could help San Franciscans keep up with the demands of the labor market and land those precious startup jobs.

Which suggests that while politicians might be interested in kinky votes and kinky money, it’s not clear that they’re actually willing to stand up for kink, per se. At least, not once they leave the city.

Fundraisers and Fucking

Tonight: A Booze and Profanity-Laced Dating Game at Z Space

Z Space has put on a few editions of the Z Dating Game in their basement, and now they’re moving the self-described “groundbreaking and genre-defying show that forever changed the face of comedy-matchmaking” to their giant upstairs theater.  It’s a reworked version of the 1960’s tv dating show, spiced up with neighborhood personalities, booze and profanity, and promises to get “insanely rowdy.”  Best of all, proceeds benefit the non-profit Z Space.

Here’s what they have lined up for tonight:

For the 5th installment of the show, the guys putting it together have brought in a ton of local comedy heavy hitters, including:

This is also the first time that there will be LGBT rounds on the show (a gay round and a lesbian round), the first time there will be a full house band, and the first time the show graces the Z Space main stage.

Tickets are on sale now for $10, or you can get them at the door for $15.  Starts at 8pm!