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]

Putting Football Behind Us

Update: Giants Home Opener is Only 41 Days Away

It’s late February and the city of San Francisco is still doing its best to forget about Richard Sherman, so let’s turn our attention to brighter matters: Spring training kicks off in three whole hours, and then it’s just 41 days until Giants home opener.  And back at AT&T Park, the grounds crew is busy turning the field into monster truck course prepping the field for action.

Sure, 2013 was a bit of a disappointment, but we’re looking forward to a long season of fog-induced hypothermia and radioactive nachos in the park.

[Photo: T. Shane Gilman]

ML Joins UA in the No Money Club

UC Berkeley Cuts Off Support for Mission Local

Since Mission Local launched five years ago, it’s been chiefly funded by UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and served as platform for students to hone their reporting chops.  But that’s no more.

In a memo sent out by Edward Wasserman, Dean of the Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, (and published on Mission Local), he announced that the department would be pulling funding, faculty support and student participation from the site.  Excerpted below:

The Mission Local hyperlocal site has been a vibrant and valuable part of the School of Journalism since it was created five years ago. It has developed well beyond its initial scope as an incubator for J200 students, and under [Prof. and Mission Local Editor Lydia Chavez]’s imaginative, impeccably professional and tireless leadership has become the premier place for the community it serves to learn about itself and talk about its future.

It’s now time for Mission Local to take the next step and re-launch itself as an independent, stand-alone media operation. That means ending its role in the J-School’s curriculum. While Prof Chavez would have liked to see the school keep the site, she is ready to assume responsibility for the site, and we expect that it will continue under her ownership.

To paraphrase: “She wanted us to keep the site, and we were like, nah.”  Ouch.

My reasons for spinning off ML are several.

First, it’s an expensive undertaking, which obliges us to operate a remote site on a year-round basis, even when the curricular value to our students is limited or even, at times, non-existent (as when we pay non-students to keep the site from going dark.)

This alone will provide a challenge for the site.  While it’s unknown how much UC Berkeley was spending on the site, Mission Local has disclosed in fundraising pitches that site extras, including “money for rent, a translator [for the Spanish edition], extra reporters over the summer and holiday breaks, and the print edition,” cost the site between $50,000 and $75,000 annually.  Removing the steady stream of low-wage student contributions while school is in session will prove costly (unless Mission Local decides to go down the shady unpaid intern route), and likely means the site will have to cut back features and coverage.

Third, the natural evolution of the site itself is toward being an integrated media operation, and that requires sustained attention to marketing, audience-building, ad sales, miscellaneous revenue-generation, community outreach, special events, partnerships, and 1,001 other publishing activities that are essential to any site’s commercial success.

That’s not really what we do. Those are specialized areas, and the J-School doesn’t have the instructional capacity to teach them to a Berkeley standard of excellence. What’s more, our students wouldn’t have the curricular bandwidth to learn them—not unless we pared back other areas, and redefined our core mission as something other than journalism education.

It’s worth noting that UC Berkeley is continuing their support of Oakland North and Richmond Confidential, the school’s other two ‘news lab’ websites.  All this suggests that Mission Local has grown too big for its own good, with stunts like a misguided Tech Shuttle bedazzling contest and paying to win a Webby Award throughout the years.  It departed from its original mission of providing a platform for meandering, over-reported stories on neighborhood minutae, and now its parents are kicking them out of the house.

Jazz Hands #throughglass

Video Emerges of Google Glass "Assault," Proving Google Glass is Completely Useless

Yesterday’s big “anti-tech hate crime” hullabaloo is quickly coming to a close, as eyewitness accounts of the alleged “assault” at Molotov’s cast serious doubt on “I Love Social Media, Inc.” founder Sarah Slocum’s story.  Now she’s released video of the incident, which she insinuates is proof of the attack.

Her description of the video:

This is the first video that I got on Google Glass at Molotov bar on Haight Street after being verbally accosted and flicked off by the Asian looking girl, I turned on the video, and after I told them I was doing so they got pissed off and came after me. Unfortunately, I had not extended the video so it cuts out after 10 seconds. Here you can see them - two people, a male and a female - trying to block the camera. The guy waving his hands in my face here later rips the Google Glasses off my face and ran out of the bar. #throughglass

Of course, the video is only 9 seconds long—and proves absolutely nothing.  But alas, there it is.

UA tipster Jeff Cleary put it best: “As this video clearly shows, Google Glass is completely useless.”  Amen.

Muni Rage

Your Disgust With Muni: The T-Shirt

Muni! No matter how polarized San Francisco has become, we can all agree on one thing: fuckin’ Muni.  It’s the dismissive remark we all mutter in times of NextBus purgatory—and now, thanks to The Tens, it’s soon to be your rush hour shirt of choice.

They’re not printed yet, but The Tens confirms they are happening, The shirts were just printed (locally), so shoot him an email to  get your hands on one.

Displacement & Taxes

Clarion Alley Creates "Wall Of Shame" to Greet Valencia Passersby

Fresh off Clarion Alley Mural Project’s protest of Mission Local and Genentech’s tech shuttle contest that featured the alley without permission, CAMP muralists put up a loaded new piece right at the gateway to the alley.  It’s another criticism of San Francisco’s gentrification, for sure, but at least no one can criticize them for not proposing solutions.