'mnstrm media'

It's Time For the Media to Stop Telling People to Hate Bay to Breakers

This year's Bay to Breakers is over, and while it was a hella good time like years past, the campaign against the event noticably took its toll:

Photo by Ben Thornton

Perhaps it was the weather forecast, perhaps it was AEG (the race promoter) telling us there would be “zero tolerance” for party-positive San Franciscans to enjoy the event, perhaps it was SFPD promising to bust heads, but the number of spectators was visibly down.  While some neighbors are certainly celebrating this as an achievement, it was just a predictable outcome based on years of negative press that is eroding away the character of the race.

It's funny, most of the San Francisco natives and Bay to Breakers haters I talk to admit to having never attended the race in any fashion.  Never ran it.  Never got drunk and walked it.  Never watched it from afar.  So why do they hate it?  How can they hate it?  Do they hate the idea of a footrace in which the majority of participants are in costume?  No. Do they hate drinking?  Certainly not.  From what I gather, people hate this event because they are told to hate it.  The media claims alcohol over-consumption is on the rise, but only offer up subjective analysis from 40-year-old NIMBY neighbors, never facts.  The promoters (and neighbors) cry about the 30 tons of trash left behind the 2010 edition of the race, yet the promoters don't line the streets with trashcans—a practice found at almost every other large event in the City.  We're told urination is a problem, bloggers find a few pics to illustrate the story, but once again, we're only given the perspective of a few neighbors, never facts (nevermind the fact the the media doesn't routinely feature pictures of the crackheads that pee of these very streets on a daily basis).

The press buys the lines given to them by AEG and a few neighbors without applying any sort of critical thinking to the issues.  Just yesterday, The Bay Citizen ran a hit piece about the event:

Along the upward incline of Hayes, multiple street parties ruled. DJs presided from stoops and second-floor windows while alcohol flowed freely, without much police enforcement.

There was also a sense, expressed even among some of the most party-hearty residents, that this was a San Francisco event that — like so many of the city's other street fairs — may have grown too popular for its own good, losing its local credibility in the process.

Matt [last name redacted], 17, and Sophia [last name redacted], 17, were among 12 seniors from Redwood High School in Larkspur who came into the city straight from their prom after-party Saturday night. They stopped to dance in front of a house party serving Jello shots on the 800 block of Hayes.

“This year is the best,” Matt said while he danced next to Sophia to Get Low, the 2003 hit by Lil Jon.

Were they concerned about police enforcing the alcohol ban?

“This year is the best because they have all these laws but everyone's been breaking the laws,” Matt said, before asking a reporter for Jello shots. (He had none.)

Nearby, Kayta George, a 51-year old native of the Fillmore district, stood on a stoop to sneer at the mass of sweaty, scantily-clad, barely post-adolescent bodies writhing below.

“This is the bridge-and-tunnel, under-18 crowd,” said George. “These are just teens in costumes. Where did all the San Franciscans go?”

Really?  Excusing the fact The Bay Citizen printed the full name of minors who are obviously breaking the law, they're using a single pair of idiots to paint the entire event as an out-of-control drunkfest fit for children.  Where did all the San Franciscans go?  The answer is obvious, they stayed home because of bullshit reporting making the event sound like unadulterated mayhem.  Not once did they quote people living along the route who look forward to the event every year (PROTIP: ask someone under the age of 35 in the newsroom for the name of a B2B neighbor who loves the event, odds are if they have more than 5 friends, they probably know one), never do they bother to get the perspective of older neighbors who love the event, never once do they bother to put the NIMBY bullshit in check.

We learned from the campaign for Sit-Lie that the unchecked rhetoric published by the press ended up harming Haight Street businesses.  Similarly, if the press keeps publishing bullshit about how a few minors and Marin residents crash the party and puke everywhere without explaining that they are in the very small minority of participants, why would people expect real racers and anyone but frat boys to show up?  The media is cooking up a controversy where there is none and giving a microphone to the poor souls who own property across from Alamo Square about the inconvenience of having to hose off their stoop once a year—a small price to pay for, arguably, living in one of the greatest cities in the world.  The upside is that reactionary columnists have something to fight for, the downside is that San Francisco is being stripped of one of its finest mornings.

The truth of the matter is that Bay to Breakers is one of the events that define San Francisco as the fun and creative city that it is.  Take away Bay to Breakers, BYO Big Wheel, Hunky Jesus, SantaCon, the street faires, and all other events of the like and this city instantly becomes a whole lot more boring.  Where did all the San Franciscans go?  We were up at 6:30am taking the 22 to Hayes St., drank a 12 pack of the cheapest generic beer on the shelf, waited in line for the portapotties with all the other San Franciscans, made a point of finding one of the six trashcans along the route to dispose of our trash, walked back to our house from Golden Gate Park, ate a few tacos, and fell asleep on our couch while watching Netflix.  C.W. Nevius calls it chaos and mayhem, I call it just another day in San Francisco.

Local News Catches On To "La Lengua"

Ever since Google Maps added “La Lengua” to their map, the old folk's media has been giving the 'new microhood' a lot of press.  The coverage reached a fever pitch yesterday when CBS 5 sent a fashionable reporter to the corner of Mission and Valencia to tell Latino's that they were in “La Lengua,” make a bunch of tongue puns, and to eat a tongue burrito at the popular “Taqueria Can-Can.”  Give it a watch.

Ike's Filming Discovery Channel Reality TV Show Pilot

I know the idea of a reality show about Ike's seem ludicrous, but it appears to be true.  Posted yesterday to Facebook:

The Ike's Place reality show could be a reality! Tomorrow morning(4/11) at 10am, representatives from Indigo Films via the Discovery Channel will be filming the first 'episode'. Shooting should go until 1pm. Come stop by and say Hi—You could be the next reality TV star!

I'm sorry, but if ordering a sandwich makes you a reality TV star, you're doing it wrong.  It takes a very special kind of princess to order a “Mobile Momma” and then immediately start freaking the fuck out because it's going to be another 20 minutes before the sandwich is ready.  In fact, I'm pretty sure this will publicity stunt backfire and hurt business.  Yeah, there will be some tourists who want to eat from “that sandwich place that was on after Sarah Palin's Alaska,” but most normal people who actually live in the city won't be interested in having a camera pointed in their face every time they want to order a $10 sandwich before getting high in the park.

[hat tip The Bay Citizen]

The Night Tom Moosbrugger Killed the Hipsters

Alex, can I get terrible haircuts for $200?

Yesterday, a moment of cultural significance occurred with very little notice or attention: Tom Moosbrugger, a librarian from Columbus, Ohio, was the first hipster contestant on Jeopardy.  I know what you're thinking: this guy and his hoodless hoodie are not hipsters.  But consider this: he proved that getting a library science degree from a Midwestern state school isn't completely useless. You can just chill out, grow some rad facial hair, and win an average American income by answering questions about water fountains in an episode of Jeopardy.  He not only gets to perform minimal amount of work to receive some cash and a free trip to LA, but he also gets to solidify his intellectual superiority over Middle America.  The American hipster dream.

On the flip, Jeopardy is a show that's primarily watched in retirement homes and at the Old Country Buffet.  That's not to suggest grandpa is about to trade in his fanny pack for a neon green fanny pack and throw on a wolf shirt; rather, Tom is the flash point for the decline of the “hipster” subculture and its widespread acceptance into the mainstream.

Consider Demand Media and the recent proliferation of hipster-related “evergreen” content.  For the unfamiliar, Demand Media owns eHow and similar sites that make it their business to monetize popular search trends by producing “content” that is highly catered to sought-after Google search terms. In other words, unlike news, these pages will always generate revenue (“evergreen”), as people will continuously find the information useful and relevant.

Over the past few months, there has been an explosion of eHow articles describing how to act like, dress like, and be a hipster.  Most of these guides are so hilariously stereotypical, it's a struggle to imagine what types of newcomer hipsters find this information useful:

 

In addition to telling readers they'll only need “Pabst Blue Ribbon” and tight jeans to become a hipster, they instruct them to “quit your lame 9-to-5 job,” “move out of the suburbs,” “start collecting vinyl,” and, best of all, “Drink Pabst Blue Ribbon.”

“[PBR] is the preferred choice of beers among hipsters. It's cheap, which is convenient: once you become a hipster, you won't have much money.” - random eHow bro

While the eHow hipster clown car reads less like a how-to article and more like a help guide found in The Onion, Demand Media's writing of articles is an extremely calculated move.  The company employs scores of “SEO specialists” that spend their days analyzing search traffic to identify growing trends and market potential.  As the general rule of thumb in the “evergreen” industry is that the first search result will be clicked on 30% of the time, with the second result receiving a 5% clickthru rate, Demand Media's team of bean counters can predict how many people will read an article, click the embedded Google Ads on the article, and how much is necessary to pay a freelancer to ensure the company profits on the piece.  By definition, Demand Media is the trend-jumping poser of the internet, writing about a topic only after it reaches a commercial critical mass.

Demand Media and similar companies no one respects primarily mine Google Trends for keyword and topic analysis, suggesting that search volume is a barometer for the societal acceptance of a subculture.  For example, look at the stats for the query “How to dress like a hipster”:

And “hipster music”:

You can even see the transition from OG Hipsters drinking PBR (blue) and new wave kids drinking Tecate (red):

A classic battle between American, union-made products slowly losing ground to cheap Mexican goods.

Comparing the annual Halloween searches for “hipster costume” (blue) and “guido costume” (red) additionally suggests that the 'normies' of America have identified hipsters as a trending and relevant subculture to parody:

The data suggests that as the years have gone by, cultural outliers have increasingly wanted to be associated with the “hipster” subculture while lacking the knowledge of how to embody the lifestyle directly.  People increasingly are looking to be told how to dress, what to listen to, and how to act, rather than finding their own way.  Like the hippie lifestyle of the 70s, the hipster mores of individualism have been lost to crowds of people yearning for acceptance.

Looking back to Tom Moosbrugger, you see a man who publicly depicts himself on Facebook as your everyday, wild-haired bro who wears American Apparel hoodies, flannel shirts, and whose interests include the A-Team, Knight Rider, The Big Lebowski, MacGyver, “Indie Stuff”, collecting mold spores, and Ernest Hemingway.  But rather than being himself on national television, he fashions himself with a trendy “I'm gunna rape you” haircut, proving once and for all that the hipster subculture has been co-opted by the followers and style-conscious, begging for the attention of the masses.

Jeanmarie Guenot Also Went After Amoeba Music?

Amoeba Music's Amoeblog, the source that broke news of Jeanmarie Guenot's NIMBY bullshit against Slim's, appears to have deleted all their posts about situation.  While Amoeba and “Billyjam” don't have any thoughts on the matter, it looks like Jeanmarie and her proxy NIMBY thug “Lisa” (who may or may not be Lisa Bass, who may or may not be a glorified software saleswoman, who may or may not be the leader of the Golden Gate University's Toastmasters chapter) are pressing on with their campaign of threatening iconic businesses and working to shut down everything that makes San Francisco the bastion of fun, freedom, and dance we all love.

Perhaps even more troubling than the fight Slim's has been enduring is the complacency of the press and our Board of Supervisors on the matter.  The Chronicle has so far failed to find anything newsworthy about a rouge neighbor getting a club's liquor license suspended.  The Guardian, which has largely staked their modern reputation on being the crusaders against the war on fun, hasn't made a peep about the situation (don't worry though, cats and dogs are the cover story).  And there hasn't been a single local politician willing to stick up for a local business.

Yet people wonder how Bay to Breakers could possibly be in danger…

Sign of the Apocalypse #87: Deranged Warlock Assassin Spotted Canoodling with Exotic Cat at Ocean Beach

Much like spotting an image of the Virgin Mary in your moldy toast, THIS MEANS SOMETHING.  (via Ocean Beach Bulletin)

Sometime over the last few weeks, an image of the-oh-so-deluded-and-egotistical-one riding a tiger that he may or may not milk for blood, appeared at Ocean Beach.  This sign presumably signals his impending arrival in late April, during which he will attempt to rob you of your money in exchange for listening to him ramble about nothing and chain smoke for 2 hours; and all during an event named after something overwhelmingly phallic and abbrasive.  

That is if he even shows up, which I'm hoping he doesn't; I left LA almost as fast as I got there for a reason.

Nerding Out on Tacos

Serious Eats recently went on a walking tour of the 24th taquerias in a search to find the best tacos in the Mission.  While I'm sure we can all agree how pointless this exercise has become, they did come across an interesting pattern:

What I find most interesting here is that beside from the two best taquerias, which are clear outliers, the rest of the taco joints follow a very strong quality trend: the further east you go, the better they get. This makes a lot of sense, seeing as west of Mission Avenue [sic] is much more heavily gentrified (read: gringified) than East, which still has a large and vital Mexican population. It's just neat to see it in an actual graph.

I think blaming gentrification for this pattern is a stretch, but I do have to agree with the overall point.  Plus, props to Serious Eats for bucking the myth that Mission St. alone is the ultimate destination for Mexican fast food.

[Serious Eats]

7x7's SanFranlandia can SanFranBlowMe

OMG WHAT? 7x7 has a post up calling for submissions for SanFranlandia, which is their way of ripping off Portlandia and making me want to murder them all at once! 

This comment from some delightful person named “fat wanda” who needs to be my bff is right on:

Really, 7x7? How about a parody of the Marina? Or the FiDi? Or culture that you're actually part of? Because that MIGHT be funny? Maybe?

You're not vegan, you're not bike culture, you don't know these people, and so you're attempts are just lame and embarrassing.

Exactly! You can't make fun of veganism, buying local, composting, backyard bee keeping, brewing kombucha in a bathtub, and plaid shirted bro's who look they're about to go prospect for gold because that's not who YOU are. There are plenty of websites and blogs that can and already do it better than you ever could. So, knock it off. 

You're the pretty girl. You're like Natalie Portman complaining that women aren't allowed to be beautiful and funny*. No, lady, it's just that you are not funny. Know who you are! Shit, funny women aren't cast all the time because they're not pretty, why not help get them roles**? Kristen Schaall should be in everything, and there are a million more like her. Anyway, tangent. Point is: embrace who you are, 7x7, and run more stories about sample sales and recipes for trampatini's. Or, if you want to parody something, why not all the boots on Chesnut street? That's something you know a lot about.

Annnnd: One more time, in case you forget, THIS IS YOU:

    

*And you know her idea of funny is like, a beautiful woman farting on a date. HILARIOUS. 

**Shit, bring them some rolls too, they probably hungry! Not working and shit because they're not pretty. I mean, JESUS.

At Least It's Not Snowing

SFgate's parenting blog (yes, they actually have a parenting blog. No, I don't read it.  Yes, apparently my friend reads it.), has dug up a bunch of the Chronicle's photos of past SF snow storms.  And as someone who was raised in a state that actually has seasons, most of the snaps are terrifying: some women wearing giant black dresses standing in 2 inches on Shotwell.  A little kid joyously screaming.  A playground snowball fight.  A bunch of people sledding down a hill.  And this shot of a student skiing down the hill behind the UC Medical Center.  Just looking at these gives me flashbacks to digging cars out of snowbanks, having a heating bill, and not being able to stop my bike on all the ice while riding across down.

Not that I'm saying that it wouldn't be fun to run home right now, dig the skis out of the garage, hike up the top of Dolores Park and ski all the way down while some grey-haired neighbor chases me through the park for tearing up the grass and having fun—because it would—but we all moved to this coast for a reason.

'Mommy PI' Boss arrested with Contra Costa's Top Narc for (shocker) ... selling drugs. Lots and lots of drugs.

Note: At the request of a company associated with the show, this post was temporarily removed and edited. 

Butler, alleged drug kingpin and your mom's boss, on ABC 7 with his 'PI Mommies'

Earlier today, CBS 5 broke the story that Norman Wielsch, the “high-profile commander for the Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team,”  was arrested today for “distributing for sales methamphetamine, marijuana and steroids.” Ok. Whatever. Yet another re-hash of the crooked narc cop selling dope on the side, big deal. Totes ironic. But then there was this gem…

Wielsch was arrested without incident along with 49-year-old Christopher Butler of Concord, Gregory said. Like Wielsch, Butler is also facing several felony counts related to the selling of methamphetamines, marijuana and steroids.

If that second name rings a bell to you, it should. Christopher Butler is the owner and lead investigator of Butler & Associates Private Investigations, a Concord based PI firm [As 2/15/11 their website has been taken down] that has received a lot of attention over the last year.  Dubbed the 'Mommy PI Agency' by the media, Butler gained noteriety in local and national press for his 'Charlie's Angels' team of middle aged, soccer mom-looking decoys and PIs.

Over the last year the PR machine has been churning almost non-stop for Butler and his 'Angels'. From local TV appearances on ABC 7's View From the Bay, to national coverage on NBC's Today Show; three of the PIs even did a glamour spread in People Magazine in March, 2010. The attention seemed to work.  

In approximently March of 2010, a TV production company began production on a reality series. Whether PI Moms of San Francisco (no really, that's the title) was greenlit for either a pilot or a full series order remains unclear, as the network has yet to begin their own PR cycle. That's usually a pretty bad sign for a show that was rumored to begin airing in March, 2011. Butler's own arrest probably isn't going to help much either…  

Butler, an ex-cop himself, is spending the night in jail with Norman Wielsch. Ironically, Butler & Associates operates online under the URL Uncover-Truth.com. Now that the truth behind this media crazy ex-cop and local Private Eye is coming out, I don't find myself asking 'did he do it?'; I honestly don't give a shit.  All I really want to know is if the 'Mommy PIs' were involved in any of the alleged drug dealings.  CROOKED DRUG DEALING PI Moms of San Francisco, now that's a show I would watch…

UPDATE: The Chronicle just put two and two together and chimmed in.  Butler and Wielsch had served as police officers in Antioch together. In addition to their alleged conspiracy to distribute, the Chronicle is reporting the following charges being levied:

The two men were booked on suspicion of conspiracy, embezzlement, burglary, and possession and transportation of controlled substances. Wielsch is being held in lieu of $660,000 bail. Butler's bail was set at $840,000.

Butler featured with his 'PI Moms' in People Magazine

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