Being Cool

Four Barrel Gets Edgy For the Holidays

“Fuck it!”—it's basically our parent's YOLO.  And just in time for the last minute gift-giving season, Four Barrel has rolled out a new coffee mug barring the old-timey exclamation of pseudo-subversive whimsy.  Only $10!


[Photo by WBTC]

The Modern San Franciscan

The “Most San Francisco Photo Ever Taken” that was passed around a few weeks ago was certainly good—featuring a glasshole with Silicon Valley hubris eating his face like a vampire squid and two human unicorn/discoballs trotting past in the background.  However, this specimen documented by Olu Johnson might be one better: not only is this photo not questionably staged for explicit internet consumption, the subject appears prepared to ask Siri the very question that is on his shirt (if only he were able).

Was it warm enough for this modern San Franciscan to shed his hoodie? Only Siri knows.

It's Tops Coffee Shop: Before It Wasn't Cool

Eater recently interviewed the owners of the delightful rust bucket of a diner It's Tops Coffee Shop, covering its million-year-old history, pink uniforms, stuffed waffles, and, of course, coffee.  In fact, their coffee is of such passable quality that it has endeared them to the notoriously snobbish anti-snob Quentin Tarantino:

Have you had any notable people dine here?

[Owner Sheila Chapman]: Let's see, we've had Sharon Stone, Metallica…

[Bruce Chapman]: Who was the big producer guy that did the diner thing, Pulp Fiction? Tarantino? He loves our coffee.

SC: Because he said it's not too strong. It's diner coffee.

(But, seriously, has he tried Four Barrel?)

Anyway, back in simpler days of the Nixon presidency, It's Tops used to serve up 50 different kind of coffee beans “before Safeway and all these stores were doing it.”

We had these shelves filled with different kinds, and each morning, we had a sign listing which country the beans would come from. And my dad would make me blind-taste them, and would say, “Which country is this from?” But we stopped doing that once all the stores got tons of beans.

I'll let you write your own hipster jokes.

[SF Eater | Photo by Beth Lennon]

Tech Billionaire Looks to Reinvent Old Vegas in the Image of the Mission

Downtown Las Vegas, if you have never been, is about a 20 minute cab ride from the Strip, and is a cheaper version of the glitz, glam, and tourist packed casino mecca. The slots are looser, the people not as scandalously dressed, and you can actually get an okay meal for under $10 per person. While some might find this place as an oasis from the over-the-top and in-your-face shit show that is the strip, one man has a vision. That man is Zappos founder Tony Hsieh, and his vision is that of Dolores Park:

Mr. Hsieh, a soft-spoken 39-year-old Internet billionaire who runs Zappos, the online clothing store, plans to do something as transformative. It’s a classic American dream: a Western-scale roll of the dice in a city that suddenly conjured up Belle Époque Paris and ancient Rome out of the desert. The idea this time is to build a version of the Mission district in San Francisco or the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn in downtown Vegas.


Mr. Hsieh has been buying up property all around the downtown strip to house what he feels are the best parts of the Mission: Mom & Pop restaurants and bars, boutique stores, offices that house tech incubators and can host TED talks, and a bike share program. And something about Teslas. While this sounds like a unique thing to do in Las Vegas (as none of those places have anything to do with boobies or yard sticks full of sugar booze), it also sounds absolutely nothing like the Mission. In fact, it sounds a lot like Austin, which is already in a desert in a state that no one particularly wants to go to. It seems like Mr. Hsieh is trying to to bring new life to a floundering section of Las Vegas, which is a good thing, especially for new start-ups that find rental prices in the Mission a wee bit pricey, and need a place to develop and grow. Plus who doesn't love doggy day care? You can't gamble AND watch your dog on vacation, right?

Let's say, for a minute, Mr. Hsieh actually wanted to bring the Mission to Las Vegas. Besides building a two-story version of Four Barrel and a park that's largely unregulated by the DEA or the Nevada Gaming Commission, what else would be necessary for the complete Missionification of downtown Vegas? Would Dr. Teeth move to Vegas and stay exactly the same? Would Cold Beer Cold Water be allowed to sell PBR again without fear? Instead of waking up to a USA Today outside your hotel room, would you wake up to poop and a used needle? What would you want to see in Vegas Mission, if you ever actually did want to see a Vegas version of the Mission to begin with?

Detestable New Apartment Complex Now Open For Community Criticism

Ever since the artisanally-located 299 Valencia sold out, I've been in the market for a new development to scowl at.

NeMa looked promising, with all their egregious and dated hipster appropriation, but their Mid-Market address was far too downtown for my decidedly tony Mission palette.  And there was whateverthefuckthey'rebuilding on the corner of 19th and Valencia, which will assuredly charge 650,000+ dollars (also payable in not-Zygna stock options) for a doghouse-sized studio, but, alas, it's hard to roll my eyes out of their sockets over a building still in the plywood phase.

However, I think I found my dream pariah: Vara, the soon-to-be-launched Mactastic crash pad at 15th and Mission, with studio apartments going for The Totally Not Dogshit rate of $2675/month.  Curbed SF has all the alluring details:

The wave of gentrification continues in the Mission. Vara, a 202-unit apartment complex with 40 below market rate units, readies to hit the market. The location at the corner of 15th and Mission streets is close to BART and several Muni lines, as well as the very popular Valencia Street. The studio, 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom units will feature gourmet kitchens, in-unit washer/dryers, free Wi-Fi and walk-in closets. Building amenities include on-site carsharing, fitness center, and a clubhouse. Cats and dogs are also welcome, although breed restrictions apply. The units will start at $2675 for a studio, and up to $4830 for a 3 bedroom.

Curbed rhetorically asks, “Will this new rental building in the Mission face scrutiny?”  With reclaimed wood, the aforementioned Totally Not Dogshit rents, and wall art celebrating the basement's “Internet Ready Worker's Union” (which, ugh), we in turn answer, “Sure?”


Procrastinating Potheads Get Swept Up Into SF's Line-Standing Craze

San Francisco has long been famous for its masochistic lines for brunch and men's haircuts, which see throngs of well-to-doers thumb tirelessly at their iPhones to pass the time, beta testing the very apps they are paid to develop.  However, ahead of Saturday's activist Hallmark holiday, a line for the more populist activity of buying danke herb could be found outside of Apothecarium on Market and Church. (We have no doubt that the city was cured of its collective back pain this weekend.)

Sadly, without iPhones and weed itself to make the dulling process of standing in line more tolerable, these folks were forced to slouch about with arm-crossing sobriety.  Truly, this elevates these patient partiers to the very top of the line-waiting meritocracy.

Betabrand Opening Massive Retail Shop on Valencia

Proving that Valencia Street is the new LA, a tipster tells us the techie-adored and whimsically-branded online fashion pusher Betabrand has just signed a lease at 19th and Valencia.  Betabrand's founder Chris Lindland confirms: “Yes. We're moving [into 780 Valencia]. Now awaiting city approval for a heliport & livestock permit.”

Finally, we won't have to fumble with our computers to get our gross hands on a $225 smoking jacket or socks so expensive that they come with insurance.

I kid. (Well, a little bit, at least.)

Betabrand is, perhaps, one of the least obnoxious upscale garbmongers to come to the Mission.  They are headquartered in the neighborhood, and their clothes are manufactured in a San Francisco sweatshop, as opposed to an Asian sweatshop.  Also, I couldn't find the word “artisan” anywhere on their website.

These, my friends, are the kind of corporate values you could bring home to your mother.

But, yes, their clothes are dorky as shit—dare I say, Marinaish.  And I'm certain anyone with a modest income will ever be able to afford to shop there.  But if the neighborhood demands seersucker, give the neighborhood seersucker.

In Defense of Liz Claiborne's Pursuit of Adobe Books

Look guys. It's known Adobe Books has been threatened by a number of factors lately, including dramatically increased rent and landlords flat out ignoring large scale citizen activist protests to keep a local institution in place. I know that you think that preserving centrally-located community-based bookstores is somehow important to the continuation of our culture, and that getting rid of bookstores for mass-market retail outlets will erode our neighborhood into a blackness of bumbling, shop-a-holic moronicism.

But I'm just saying, think about it… we could have a Liz Claiborne store here!

When you really think about it, it makes sense. Bookstores are just a novelty of looming obsolescence; a facet of our parent's foregone generation, like newspapers and jazz and Social Security. Our dads went to bookstores, but we stimulate our intellects with ebrochures and tumblogs, and the new Jack Spade shoppe will sell excellent designer handbags to hold all of our Kindles, Kindle Fire, and HD Nook tablets just fine.

I know it seemed that our chance of happiness was ruined, years ago, when some unruly citizens took to the streets and drove American Apparel out of the space next to ATA. And then when that Levi's pop-up store disappeared, I know a lot of us just thought about packing it up and moving to Russian Hill, towards some real cultural landmarks like the Google Bus Stop and the house where they shot The Real World: San Francisco. But this is our opportunity to usher in a new generation to the Mission. We can make a world where our kids can go to school with artisan leather handbags instead of, you know, “books.”

I'm just saying all we have to do is roll over and one of our obsolete, oversized spacial occupants, Adobe Books, can be replaced by a renowned, internationally-certified gender-neutral leather handbag haberdashery.

This is America. This is what we were promised. Gone will be the days when San Francisco residents have to go all the way to the airport and buy the cheapest ticket to anywhere just to get through security to shop for Liz Claiborne at Terminal 3, near the Tommy Bahama and the World News candy stand. If this deal goes through, none of us will have to tell another TSA agent that “I just decided not to go to Dallas/Ft. Worth today.”

So don't get outraged, don't don't write letters, don't protest, and don't petition. With the replacement of culture with large-chain retail, we can finally start what we've all been after this entire time: turning the Mission into a small, downtown Walnut Creek. We can finally replace Arinell Pizza with a California Pizza Kitchen and turn Dear Mom into an even better Dear Mom.

It's going to be great. I'll see you guys there.

Good Dog of the Week: D.I.Y. Pabst Purse Pup

Purse pups are all the rage these days, but, let's face it, you probably don't have enough money to go to TJ Maxx and buy an appropriately-sized handbag for your totally adorbs new teacup.  So why not upcycle that PBR box that's been sitting at the foot of your bed for the last few months and shove your dog into that?  Great way to save the planet and meet babes!

Noise Pop Is An Imaginary Music Festival

It's that time of year again—when we celebrate a week of local music in the Bay Area by boasting Noise Pop: the Bay Area's premiere indie music festival. Truly, it's an exciting time to be alive. Bands will influx. Tickets will sell out. The Bay Guardian will do a puff piece-turned-cover story on up-and-coming bands that are on the middle of the marquee list of Noise Pop artists. All those bands will share their newfound exposure on their facebooks, and the wheels of blogocracy will keep turning.

Except, here's the thing about Noise Pop: it's just a week of San Francisco shows. We live in a major metropolitan area with vast appeal and resources, any given week of shows is good, and Noise Pop makes a random week of the year out to be, somehow, a thing. To call this week of shows somehow spectacular (or even, particular), is a bombastic and perplexing tradition that serves little tangible meaning in the Bay Area music scene. It's a waste of energy that distracts—not highlights—from the terrific and unwavering musical draw and appreciation the Bay Area has.

Perhaps the greatest misdemeanor Noise Pop commits is that the so called 'Festival' suffers from a complete deficit of noteworthy headliners. For example, Noise Pop 2013 headliners include:

Toro Y Moi: Don't get me wrong, Toro Y Moi is a great and tremendously relevant band that does a terrific live show, but fall short of being considered the flagship headliner of a music festival, especially considering they've done three Bay Area shows in the last two years.

Body/Head: You run a real gamble paying money to see a Kim Gordon noise project in concert: you might witness one of the most profound and honest pieces of musical performance art in the modern era, or you might see a totally self-indulgent spectacle of humiliation and shame. There is a good chance, actually, that the concert will be both. As cool as it may or may not be, it is a guaranteed salting of our collective wounds that Sonic Youth will probably never get back together, and that children (us) are the real losers in divorce.

Rogue Wave: Playing the Noise Pop Festival in a rare Bay Area live appearance.

Amon Tobin: That's cool. Amon Tobin is cool, except, he's playing a DJ set. Not putting the 'DJ set' in parentheses next to your music festival's feature headliner is kind of like padding your bra in the giant middle school that is San Francisco.

!!! (chk chk chk): !!! was the most bloggable band of 2005, immediately before people began to realize the psychedelic jam rock they were listening to was the very same psychedelic jam rock they don't care for very much at all. Almost immediately after their plateau, the band would become largely marginalized by a new influx of electronic bands. A more accurate name for this band today would be '…', which will also be your reaction when you realized you payed $23 to see this band in concert.

Look, no offense to Portland or Los Angeles or New York, but fuck those cities. We live in the greatest city in America. We don't need to create imaginary music festivals to make ourselves cool. Go to—a website that outlines every show happening in the Bay Area on any given night, for weeks into the future—and you'll find that every week in San Francisco is a relentless deluge of awesome shows both with big and small bands.

Spend a few dollars to go see some shitty band's first show at Bottom of the Hill. Sell some jorts at Buffalo Exchange so you can get $12 to go support that new venue on Valencia. Don't do it under the guise of a festival, do it because it's a fucking Wednesday. We don't need to waste our time making a big deal about a Thao And The Get Down Stay Down show, pretending it's part of a some big art and culture festival. It isn't. So before you spend $150 on a Noise Pop lift pass that gets you into (some of) the Noise Pop shows, remember: Noise Pop is all in your head.