Well Duh

1915 Woman's Journal Takes On the Mission: "It Is the Only Place"

A piece published in the Young Woman’s Journal just ahead of the 1915 world’s fair sure does paint a fine portrait of The City.  Clearly aimed at selling the influx of tourists for the fair on the merits of San Francisco—and to warn them about our delightfully cruel summers—the old school advertorial takes us on the ferry across the “glistening bay,” through the bustle down, and around the Chinatown, Portola, Fillmore, and “Valley” neighborhoods.  But the part that stood out to us covered our neighborhood du jour, The Mission.

“Pepper trees droop tenderly over the walks and date palms sigh in the wind,” the essay boasts. “Why not live in the ‘Mission?’  Those who do swear it is the only place.”

How little has changed.  Neighborhood pride rightfully runs high here, and leaving the Mission for any reason causes a borderline panic attack.

But here’s the flip:

And now I shall tell you a secret.  Many years ago the “Mission” was inhabited by the rich and society folk.  Now they have moved to San Mateo, to Burlinggame and to Knob Hill.  In their decaying mansions and near by them live a great mass of the working class, “poor people” as the Charities call them.  By these poor people enjoy life.  They work during the day, whistling and singing.  In the evening they wash their faces, slick down their hair, and tighten their collars in preparation for their recreation.

Singing and dancing, theaters upon theaters, chorus girls’ contests, and some of the cheapest goods in the city.  These poor people enjoy life.

Beyond the Mission, the piece concludes perfectly:

Ah. yes, San Francisco, you are wonderful.  Your chilly climate, your wind, your fog and your dirt but prove that you have not yet acquired immortality.  Your sea, your hills, your sky and your flowers touch upon the divine. Dazzling San Francisco, you are a rare, resplendent gem.  You are the city of enchantment—the city that beckons the world.

Below, the sections dealing with the Mission (but you can nerd out and read the entire essay on Google Books):

[via Matt Graves]

At Least Lust Wasn't Dragged Into It

Greed Takes On Sloth

I was walking down Valencia the other morning, wondering why no one has called for a ban on Planned Parenthood and ACLU and Greenpeace from shaking down people for money on the street, when I happened to notice this sad (and slightly dated) sign pinned up to the doorway of McSweeney’s Slothshop.  Allegedly a thief pried open the door and raided the pop-up of sloth shirts and children’s books.  Is there even a market for those?  Guess so…

Fowl, For Jack Bessy

Editor's note: This poem was submitted to Uptown Almanac by Sergio Villanueva, a former rock journalist, who wrote this in response to his friend getting displaced to Oakland.  You can listen to a reading of this on SoundCloud.

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by greed, overstuffed; controlled; clothed,

dragging themselves through the soma streets looking for their private bus,

angel funded techsters yearning for the proper yahoo connections to the buyout dynamo,

who over look poverty and tatters of those who they displace as they sit up high doing molly

who bared their brains to Heaven under the Andreessen and Horwitz and anyone else who would listen

who passed through universities with ease praise and hallucination of their masters

who left academies for crazy & obscene business plans to take to incubators

who cowered in unshaven computer rooms, burning others money in wastebaskets and calculating soft landings

who got busted being - sexists - bigots - classists - homophobes - through posts on the internet

who sank all night from the attacks back of and through their fugazzis in return a simple apology to make things better

a lost battalion of platonic conservatives jumping down on what this city was made from

who vanished into nowhere Midwest leaving a trail of plaid shirts and brightly colored wayfarers

who thought they were only mad when there wasn't more work to be done

who lounged hungry and lonesome because okcupid had failed to seek sex or jazz or soup

who burned cigarette holes in tax law protesting democracy in a haze of championing capitalism

who distributed flyers in union square weeping and begging for you to try their app

who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight for committing no crime as they see other than a little disruption

who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly funders as they screamed with joy,

who offended the snatches of a million girls trembling in the sunset from harassment; to the body ideals of a video game generation

who ate lamb stew, and digested the finest crab mission chinese had to offer.

who wept at the romance that is bad hot dogs, and even worst dub

who sat in open workspaces under bright lights as all co-workers watched each other

who coded all night rocking and rolling over the millions that are sure to come

who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccessfully, gave up and were forced to actually go through and do a lay off

who barreled down the highway in their newly leased bmws knowing that it can’t last forever

who demanded sanity trials accusing anyone who doesn’t think progress is good

ah, Jack, while you are safe I am not safe.

the madman who beats the angel unknown,

yet putting down here what might be the death to my life with the absolute heart of which I have butchered this poem.

How Not to Leave San Francisco (Or Thee Oh Sees' Gentrification Temper Tantrum)

Certainly you've heard Thee Oh Sees' frontman and Castle Face Records' co-owner John Dwyer has moved to Los Angeles.  How could you not?  On December 18th, on stage at the Great American Music Hall, he announced the band was going on hiatus “for a long while,” and he hasn't let up since.

“He's been living in the Mission on 17th and Valencia, and watching that neighborhood as well as the city transform has been enough for him,” Oh Sees' booking agent Annie Southworth told SF Weekly after the Great American show. “He's over it.”

Over it. Yes, lots of people are “over it,” but they don't necessarily pack up all their toys and run away either, especially not by announcing it through their 'representation team'.

Dwyer himself must have realized he let his fuming furor get the better of himself, and quickly dialed back the “long while” hiatus as a “well deserved transitional period” for the band.  And the “over it” was a stray remark by a representative, so we let that slide, too.

But then yesterday, safely distanced from San Francisco's woes in LA, Dwyer puked up a blathering screed about the city's cultural decay. It took the form of a Castle Face press release for POW!'s forthcoming album (edited down for length):

San Francisco has long been filling up with noobs…but now we face the most dangerous, the most egregious and blandest of them all… people with lots of money.
NOBODY can square-up a joint like rich people.

POW! have written a punk eulogy to our fair city.

Pop up shops!
Specialty shops!
What the fuck is happening???

There goes the taqueria that used to kick ass, replaced by a deli with a line of assholes a mile long. “I wonder what the sandwiches are like and do they make their own salsa?”
It's enough to be the catalyst for a bad day or a great fucking song. […]

Heed the warning bell about the streets of our home being clogged with the cholesterol of normals…next they could be knocking on your door…

The whole media campaign is starting to look like a desperate attempt for his move to be seen as a watershed moment in gentrification.

However, John Dwyer made a choice.  He wasn't evicted.  He wasn't priced out.  He's in a famous band; no one was making him go anywhere.  One day he said “fuck this noise,” loaded up a U-Haul, and drove to Los Angeles—which is fine, because people do similar things all the time.  But then, from hundreds of miles away, he waved his middle finger at the city he just gave up on and lashed out at it.

Instead of admitting he had a great run in SF but he felt was time to move on, he voluntarily left kicking and screaming.  His resulting tirade was worse than pointless and petulant, it was snot-filled loogie spit in the face of community that nurtured his storied career.  And what for?  Did any of this help?

Say what you will about the Mission's current state of affairs (we certainly have), but it's not irreparably fucked.  The neighborhood has grown to have three flourishing independent radio stations, venues like The Chapel (where Thee Oh Sees recently had a residency) are opening, not closing, and worthy bands are still springing up.  Never mind all the people sticking around, fighting to reverse the vile trends Dwyer called out.

This isn't to say that I don't love Thee Oh Sees—I've trashed my ear drums to Help more times than I can count, and blared their other albums almost as much.  And their live show was always among my favorites around.

But if you decide you can't take it anymore, at least push off with some dignity. Because there's nothing punk rock about being smug.

[Photo via SF Weekly]

Valencia Antiquary Home to One of America's Most Shittable Bathrooms

When it comes to being potty positive, Valencia Street has been long known as the Mission's premiere place to plop out a pound or two.  But Viracocha’s spacious den of a bathroom really stands out. It's host to a plush armchair, ample lighting, the occasional sleeping cat, a sink so big a small person could bathe in it, and a vintage bathtub for people who need to take their restroom experience to the next level. It's quite lovely, really. (In fact, there have been many times your gasbag editor has stumbled into Viracocha to “check out their typewriters,” only to beeline it straight for the office.)

So it's no wonder that Viracocha's fantastic flush has been named one of “America's Best Restrooms” in this year's annual “America's Best Restroom® Contest.”  And the contest holders think quite highly of the bathroom!:

From the outside it’s an inviting, rustic looking boutique. Once inside, Viracocha’s quaint and cozy charm come to life beneath the high-beamed ceilings that house vintage clothing, antique furniture and other unique collectibles. Nestled in San Francisco’s oldest neighborhood, Viracocha is a haven for local artists, writers and musicians. This eclectic vintage store has become one of the Mission District’s most popular destinations – predominantly for its posh potty – which patrons say resembles a “Zen retreat” so magical you will wish you could live in it. Featuring Tiffany table lamps, a Victorian bath tub full of stones, and a cozy white arm chair, it comes as little surprise to locals that Viracocha’s ornate, spacious bathroom has been called “one of the top 10 places in the city to take a date” by several San Francisco bloggers and named as a finalist in this year’s America’s Best Restroom contest. “We regularly have to tell visitors to hurry up the tour, ” joked store owner, Jonathan Siegel.

That's right, Viracocha's shitter is on of the best places in the city to take a date (especially one you just met on OkCupid).  And, remember, you heard that from several San Francisco bloggers.

Should you want to vote for Viracocha in the contest (or ogle at Ground Kontrol's Pac-Man mosaic on the floor of their bathroom), the ballot box is open until October 31st.

[Photo by CateyCate] [via SFist]

Sign of the Times

Renting an apartment in San Francisco is hard work.  First, you need to blow an entire lunch hour hiring a Task Rabbit to scour Craigslist for suitable apartments that match your lifestyle and bottomless budget.  But the first set of potential domiciles (“deliverables”) might not be to your liking, so could be forced to hire another lowest bidder to get the job done right.  Then you need to enlist some humanities majors to go to relevant open houses, inspecting the grout and networking with prospective landlords in your place.  Finally, after all the arduous legwork has been taken care of and you've Squared all your bunnies for a job well done, you'll have to negotiate with the chosen landlord on just how much over ask you'll have to pay to lock down the housing contract.

But there's a way to disrupt the whole inefficient housing search process.  Just glance over Craigslist, find the ideal grainy picture in either the Mission, Lower Haight, or SoMa (you guess) and submit a preemptive offer.  No need to go to an open house, no need to scrutinize the place you'll spend your between Mountain View hours.

Besides, if your new apartment turns out to be a lemon, you can just forfeit your security deposit and Roll The Dice Again.

[Photo by Generic]

Google Glass and Breastfeeding, Together At Last

Look, we get it: trashing Google Glass is played out.  Ever since a glass-eyed Joe Shuttlebus strolled into Shotwell's, San Francisco came together and decided that emaciated nerds who motion like Cyclops to read text messages are the epitome of Valley hubris.  We had our laughs, scoffed at the price point, quickly conceded we'd like to try them on someday, and started to move on.

Then someone had to do this:

Yeeeee-ikes.  Someone would eat at West of Pecos and still feel responsible breastfeeding their baby while that sludge is passing through their body?