I’m pretty conflicted on this one.
Urban Putt, which promises a “steampunk-style” mini-golf course and cocktail bar stuffed into an old funeral home, is now seeking $50,000 in donations on Kickstarter. What for? They’ve always spent $750,000 on construction and they need the cash to finish it all up.
Of course, handing over free money to for-profit businesses over Kickstarter already grates me—especially given how many local non-profits really need the money right now. And considering Urban Putt is being designed by the folks responsible for Mission Bowling Club and the bar is managed by the mixology thought leaders from Trick Dog, it seems particularly undeserving (seriously, any person who donates to Trick Dog needs to be sent back to their manufacturer under warranty).
But if you look past all that and their assuredly ridiculous clientele, it probably won’t be that bad. Take the above photo: it’s skeeball and mini golf. Skeeball and mini golf!
The whole place looks like a competent burner’s putt-putt paradise:
It certainly doesn’t look like another twee speakeasy with dreamy assholes in suspenders serving up cocktails in mason jars.
So if this is your sort of thing, you can donate over on Kickstarter. Or don’t. Whatever.
UPDATE: Urban Putt’s “Chief Greenskeeper” Steve Fox responds to some our (and commenter’s) criticisms in the comments.
“Everything you need at your doorstep… progressive charter schools, great restaurants, hip shopping! Google bus will pick you up right across the street!”
That's the realtor's listing for this (obviously satirical) $2,800/month micro-apartment from Outside The Box Realty. They go on about your new Dolores Street dream pad:
We call this our Peter Shih Suite. Bright and airy—location is everything here. If you want Naughty, the Mission is to your left. Want Nice? Head right to Noe Valley. Progressive charter schools, hip shops and the finest restaurants. Dolores Park is your front yard, Bernal Hill your back.
Of course, their trick photography makes the space look more luxurious than it really is, as The Worst Room's pic reveals:
PianoFight and EndGames Improv, two relatively new groups in San Francisco's reignited comedy and performance arts scene, recently announced a partnership in opening a new venue at Taylor and Eddy Streets. Everything about it sounds absolutely awesome.
“The 5,000 square foot Tenderloin complex will include rehearsal and office spaces, 54-seat and 96-seat theaters in the back of house, and in the front of house a 60-seat restaurant and bar with a full liquor license and a cabaret stage,” PianoFight writes on their website. “The complex will be a collaborative hub for artists and a creative destination for audiences. It will meet all the production and performance needs of up-and-coming independent companies and take risks to entice non-traditional audiences hungry for inventive live performance.”
What's more? Both theaters have a three-camera setup capable of editing video in real time, so any performance can be live-streamed. And PianoFight sees themselves as becoming “the ultimate hangout spot,” with performers joining the audience at the bar after the show, and a grip of original programming keeping the crowds entertained:
There will be multiple shows a night, by local performers and touring acts, including dinner theater performances on our cabaret stage. We're interested in producing shows that make you laugh, make you think, and generally challenge the status quo of how theater is presented. Audience-judged playwriting competitions, fully-scripted choose-your-own-adventure plays, ballet horror comedies, Throw Rotten Veggies at the Actors Nights — this is the kind of content we want to see, so it’s the kind of content we produce.
PianoFight is already 90% done with construction, and just started promoting a $120,000 Kickstarter campaign for equipment and finishing touches. But, as a for-profit company, PianoFight's Artistic Director Rob Ready tells us the group will avoid the pitfalls of having to fundraise constantly, making the space sustainable for years to come.
PianoFight also has the backing of District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim and Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development. Through the city's SF Shines grant program, which awards grants to businesses seeking to make facade improvements, Ready says the complex will become an anchor in the city's new theater hub:
[The SF Shines] grant is available in a bunch of neighborhoods in the city and available to a bunch of different kinds of businesses. That said, Mid-Market gets a good chunk of that funding due to the Cultural Arts District that City Hall is trying to set up. What's amazing is that it's starting to finally take shape. In those two square blocks, between Market and Eddy and Mason and Taylor, by 2015 there will be about 10 performing arts venues, with about 20 different stages.
Ready says we can expect to see the space open in March, and we don't need to worry about two-drink minimums or any of the other big league comedy club bullshit.
Below, their Kickstarter campaign video:
What started as an IRL missed connection on Mission Street in early November…
…seems to have turned into a gluten-free romance:
“Genentech Joins Mission Local to Turn Buses Into Art!,” read Mission Local's giddy headline yesterday morning. While protesters were blocking a Google bus for illegally using a Muni stop and the rest of the city was dumping napalm on the burning debate over technology's impact on San Francisco, UC Berkeley's neighborhood “news lab” was shilling for silicon shuttles.
“Mission Local is still giving a $500 reward for the best entry into our unofficial contest to turn the tech buses into art, [but] what’s better is that it is no longer completely unofficial. Apart from our prize money, Genentech wants to bedazzle its buses and will select one winner whose art will adorn the side of one of its buses in 2014!”
Okay, fine. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with dressing-up a bland bus, even if it seems like a completely off-mission initiative for a non-profit “quality journalism” outlet. However, it's Mission Local's tactical legitimization of the controversial shuttles that grows our suspicions:
Genentech’s interests are similar to ours: community mindfulness. And sustainability themes might also play well.
Doesn't partnering with tech companies create a conflict of interest for the site, especially given those companies' increasing impact on the neighborhood? We put the question to Lydia Chavez, Mission Local's co-editor and site founder, who emailed back a one-line non sequitur:
I would welcome all of the tech companies to join the contest and hire artists.
Okay, well, does this contest align with the non-profit's original mission of “covering a neighborhood fairly and thoroughly”?
Probably not. But I see the buses every day and I could not stop thinking about how they could be filled.
We're still scratching our heads. Chavez's comment to SFist seems to be her most articulate statement on the matter:
I returned from a year away from the Mission and was surprised to see how many buses were going through the neighborhood, but going through in an oddly anonymous way. But of course they are not anonymous at all. I see the benefits — fewer people in cars and the buses are often getting workers to places where public transportation fails to reach. But they’re so void of beauty and they’re such great canvases.
This is lame. Mission Local is now giving cover to the very companies they should be holding responsible. The reason seems unclear—beauty? The contest was, obviously, poorly thought out; and Chavez herself acknowledges it “probably” doesn't align with the site's mission.
The whole thing stinks of a cynical play to squeeze out some donation dollars from companies worth
47.3 billion dollars 99.9 billion dollars, all on the backs on local artists fighting over a pathetic $500 prize.
Community mindfulness, indeed.
UPDATE: In a completely self-defeating move, this “Google employee” was apparently a staged union organizer.
Here we go again: protesters have setup at 24th and Valencia this morning, blocking Google buses from leaving the city. Much like May's protest that saw a Google Bus piñata smashed to bits, organizers are protesting the evictions happening in the city:
Today we are the San Francisco Displacement and Neighborhood Impact Agency, and we're stopping the injustice in the city's two-tier system where the public pays and the private corporations gain.
Rents and evictions are on the rise. Tech-fueled real estate speculation is the culprit. We say: Enough is Enough! The local government, especially Mayor Lee, has given tech the keys to shape the city to their fancy without the public having any say in it. We say, lets take them back!
Tech Industry private shuttles use over 200 SF MUNI stops approximately 7,100 times in total each day (M-F) without permission or contributing funds to support this public infrastructure. No vehicles other than MUNI are allowed to use these stops. If the tech industry was fined for each illegal use for the past 2 years, they would owe an estimated $1 billion to the city. […]
With $1 billion and counting we can fund: Affordable Housing Initiatives, Eviction Defense, Public transit service improvements, Legislation initiatives to prevent speculators from using the Ellis Act & Costa Hawkins to evict residents … and so much more! […]
The city needs to declare a state of emergency, stop all no-fault evictions, and prevent tech companies from running buses in residential neighborhoods, which is driving up rents (up to 20% along their route).
UPDATE: A view from inside one of the buses “under siege”:
UPDATE 12:00pm: Now there's video of a
Google employee union organizer pretending to be a Google employee chewing out protesters, telling one to move somewhere where they can afford rent.