Fun Fun Fun In The Google Sun Sun Sun

The Pleasurable Externalities of Tech Shuttles

While many have previously noted a correlation between tech shuttle routes and both increased rent and no-fault evictions, it seems the stops have resulted in something a tad more curious as well.

Maybe it’s all part of the tech industry’s plan to more publicly give back to the community. 

Back From the Dead

Sunflower Returns With a Solid New Vegan Restaurant on Valencia

Just over two years ago, a tipster told us that Sunflower Vietnamese was slated to open a Burmese restaurant next-door “in a month or two.” Of course, that “month or two” quickly became a year or two, with no visible progress being made at the former Mariachi’s Taqueria. But the recent shutter of Sunflower apparently spurred the owners into action. Now Indochine, a vegan restaurant serving a wide range of Asian dishes, has finally opened on Valencia Street.

Curiously, Indochine’s grand opening was at noon on Thanksgiving day (and when this blogger walked past at 11am that morning, the waitstaff was still scrambling to arrange the tables and chairs.) Days later, much of the joint still felt very thrown together—menus were just cheap computer print-outs stapled together and silverware was served with cheap Costco napkins. But don’t let that fool you: the menu was honed and the restaurant has serious promise.

Fortunately, Indochine isn’t another exhausting foodie outpost catering to the city’s army of immaculate artisan assholes. Rather, it keeps in line with the recipe that made Sunflower the popular place it was: cheap, delicious food served in a space that doesn’t force itself to be an “experience.”

The space is certainly newer and nicer than the old Sunflower location next door. Most of the furniture is new and there’s a giant Jet Martinez mural lining one of their walls. But some of the worn fixtures have been cannibalized from Sunflower, including that musty soda refrigerator, which sits humming at the back of the restaurant floor.

The food is mostly in the $10 dollar range (you can peep the menu here). We won’t go too much into picking apart the menu—at the end of the day, if you were a fan of Sunflower, you’ll probably dig this place. After a group of us took down three dishes this past Saturday night (including the above pictured “Sizzling Teriyaki Vegan ‘Chicken’ ”), everyone agreed Indochine was a worthy successor of Sunflower.

Big Fish on a Small Wall

Fishy Advertising

TV on the Radio has been blanketing the Mission with posters for their new album—an advertising practice that’s as annoying as it is uninspired. But some artist turned one wall of ads into a street-side fish tank. Let’s hope we see more of this.

Floundering Foodie Business

Death Watch: Grub

When Grub first opened in 2010 after years of construction, I gave it a shot. The mac-n-cheese was pretty good! But I got the bill and soon realized my money was better spent elsewhere.

Seems everyone else came to the same conclusion. Grub was popular for a year (maybe) after they opened. But even the puffy jacket nightmare that has descended upon Valencia in recent years hasn’t been enough to keep their seats filled.

Now Grub’s owners seem to be going for a Hail Mary to save the struggling restaurant. A liquor license notice on the door says that the business has been sold (but they’re keeping the quasi-hipster ironic name), and they’ve covered the windows for some remodeling (but no construction permits are on file, according to the city Assessor’s permit database). Grub has even deleted their OpenTable listing.

These aren’t good signs. If you’re one of the few fans of the place, looks like you should get some meals in fast when (if?) they ever reopen.

Sign Meet Face, Face Meet Sidewalk

Watching a Cop Eat the Sidewalk After Getting Hit With a Barricade Almost Makes Me Feel Bad for SFPD

Last night’s Ferguson protests in San Francisco got somewhat out of hand, with protesters smashing business windows and hurling bricks and bottles at cops. According to Beth Spotswood, cops donned riot gear “[not] to intimidate,” but rather protect themselves from hurled debris.

As the above video shows, they may have had a reason to be fearful. After a protester chucked a traffic barricade at a pile of cops arresting a person, one officer ran at the black bloc shot-putter, only to trip over the arrestee’s foot and fall on flat their face. Then again, SFPD officers can shoot someone in a park 14 times without serious repercussions.

Anyway, all the scene was missing was a slide whistle soundtrack.

UPDATE: A tipster sends us an extended video of the confrontation, including the moments leading up to the barricade throwing. In it, you can see a protester confronting an officer for unclear reasons, loudly shooting “fuck you” in his face. Then, after the officer bumps into the protester while walking past, another officer chokes the protester to the ground.

You can watch it yourself, starting around 2:15:


Ferguson Protests in the Mission Result in Minor Vandalism, Mass Arrests

Last night, a few hundred protesters marched through San Francisco, demanding that police officers accused of murder are held accountable. The march, which Mission Local reports was organized in part by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, was largely in response to a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict the shooter of Michael Brown. Protesters also drew attention to Alex Nieto, a 28-year-old security guard shot dead by SFPD officers on Bernal Heights.

The march, going from downtown, through Potrero, and into the Mission, followed shortly on the heels of a Blackout Black Friday protest that took place earlier in the day, which shut down the West Oakland BART station in the process.

With police “appear[ing] to outnumber protesters 10 to one,” it is perhaps no surprise that a protest about police overreaction got a bit heated. And just as we’ve come to expect from a march in the Mission (or Giants victory), a few windows were smashed, including those of popular brunch/fancy-pizza spot Beretta and the Mission Street Bank of America.

A CBS news van was also targeted by a splinter group of protesters. According to the Chronicle’s Vivian Ho, the group also threw bottles at officers:

SFPD officers in riot gear eventually corralled upwards of 75 people at Valencia and Liberty street, shutting down Valencia to traffic and reportedly arresting all the protesters.

And while some may debate the legitimacy of property damage and looting as a form of protest, let us all just agree that the looting of the RadioShack at 23rd and Mission was at least in true Black Friday spirit.

[Top Photo: Daniel Mondragón | Bottom Photo from Anonymous Tipster]

Holiday Fun

Homo for the Holidays at El Rio

Continuing in its longstanding tradition of excellence, El Rio is set to do this holiday season up right. Homo for the Holidays is being billed as “a big queer craft fair on the patio of El Rio” that features “live music, tasty treats, and the return of the Krampus photo booth.”

The craft fair/likely raging party is scheduled for this Sunday, and doubles as a fundraiser. There’s a $5 cover, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

The organizers explain:

Kick off your holiday shopping by supporting your local LGBTQ crafters and artists - with a little something for everyone: from subversive cross-stitch, nerdy homewares, and herbal tinctures for your super hip cousin; elegant handmade jewelry and hair fascinators for your best femme friend; award-winning photo & art prints and ceramics for Aunt Ethyl. […]

Proceeds will go to the presently incarcerated members of SF Black & Pink, providing them with books, stamps, and art supplies. Black & Pink will be on hand hosting a holiday card-making table so you can do a little something to help brighten the holidays of our community members who are incarcerated.

Oh, and you’ll be able to buy rad holiday goodies like this cross-stitch:

[Photo: Miles Lyons]

It's All Nice On Ice Alright

San Francisco's Cocktail Affectations Are Killing the Planet

Anyone who has visited one of San Francisco’s ubiquitous artisanal cocktail bars has surely noticed a single unifying theme: fancy ice cubes. These cubes, often large, crystal clear, hand-hewn, and geometrically assured of their edginess, have in many ways become a short hand for an affected hipness so often prevalant in bars riding the latest fenugreek trend.    

Delivered in huge blocks, and frequently broken down by chainsaw on the sidewalk, these over-sized cubes seem on the surface to suggest that a drinking establishment takes its shit seriously. Like, hey dawg, don’t worry, we got your fancy-ass ice needs covered. But here’s the problem—it turns out that this trend is awful for the environment. 

Last month Mother Jones looked into how these large, clear blocks of ice are actually made, and what they found is not encouraging [emphasis added]:

According to Pete Palm, vice president of sales at Western Pacific Distributors—one of California’s major food service equipment wholesalers—a Clinebell [the special machine used to make large ice blocks] has to run for more than three days to make the amount of ice a regular restaurant ice machine could produce in one day. “If I do some quick calculations on the lbs of ice and the [horsepower] rating I come to the conclusion that it does not meet what would be considered an energy star unit,” Palm wrote in an email to Mother Jones. (Energy Star is an EPA standard for energy-efficient consumer products; most commercial ice makers are Energy Star-certified.)

Artisanal ice makers also have to deliver their product to their customers, which means packing it in dry ice and carting it around in a van. And their high standards for the shape of their blocks can exacerbate the inefficiency. If [artisanal ice maker Charles Hartz] finds a block with a chip or a crack, he says, he won’t use it. “I’m kind of particular,” he admits.

And so in catering to the tastes of those who feel an “enormous hand-hewn ice cube” is what makes or breaks a cocktail, the latest batch of painfully hip watering holes is displaying an active disregard for the environment.

At least it’s disregard served with a smile.

Sad 'Stache

Uber Drivers Protest Low-Fares with Low-Grade Art

On the corner of 17th and Vermont, beside the freeway and just up the hill from both the Uber and Lyft driver recruitment/services offices, sits this sign. Its DIY vibe in not-so-subtle contrast to the massive Uber and Lyft billboard trucks constantly cruising the neighborhood, the sign serves as a reminder of the questionable employment practices (widespread across the tech industry) that both companies use to drive down operating costs.

And while this lone poster seems a sad testament to how little recourse drivers have when they feel they’ve been taken advantage of by either company, it does feature a sweet drawing of an upside-down Uber logo driving a mustachioed car. So I guess all is not lost.

Local Music

Gardens & Villa and Astronauts Etc Stand Out in a Saturated Genre

It seems like just about anyone can record an EP. Grab a MIDI keyboard and a laptop, record a few hooks, sample 12 tracks of harmonies and a plagiarized Lorde beat - blam! You’re the next Banks. But, just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should. In a crowded sonic space, where everyone’s hook sound like everyone else’s, two bands stand out among the pack.

Gardens & Villa headline The Independent Saturday, November 22nd with main support from local Oakland-outfit, Astronauts Etc. Grab your tickets here.

Anthony Ferraro of Astronauts Etc (and Toro Y Moi) shows off his professionalism and songwriting savvy in a genre that’s chock-full of Randy Marsh quality Lorde’s, and poorman’s Beach House’s. Ferraro hit a stride with the release of his debut EP Sadie, getting the single “Up For Grabs” featured on NPR Music.

Ferraro crafts densely layered hooks that he cuts through with an unmistakable falsetto. As wispy as Ferraro’s voice sounds on record, it is still confident. You can tell Ferraro is right at home on stage after years of touring with Toro Y Moi, and countless Bay Area shows fronting Astronauts Etc. This Saturday, do yourself the favor of catching Astronauts Etc in action, and pay close attention to the interplay between Ferraro’s vocal melody and guitarist Derek Barber’s tasteful countermelodies. My guess is they can communicate to each other telepathically.

Gardens & Villa are making the trek up from their hometown of Santa Barbara for a quick run of shows to promote their latest release, Televisor, a collection of B-sides and rarities the band amassed over the years. What Gardens & Villa lack in finesse they make up for in pop-friendly power. Throbbing, repetitive synth patterns are a staple of their work on their latest release Dunes. However, expect a new look from the band on Saturday as they’re highlighting their heavier side on Televisor, trading in a few hand-claps for a thicker guitar sound.