Whimsical Bullshit

Call It A Comeback

Occasionally Read Blog Relaunches

That’s right, your neighborhood naysayer is back on the beat — bringing you the kind of low-quality content you’ve so sorely missed. We’re talking hard-hitting reporting on startup founders, business closings, liquor-store cocktails, and the moment-by-moment movements of Dolores Park rangers. You know, the important stuff.

We’ll still cover all the same golden oldies you’re used to, as well as tackle the larger issues facing our great city. Because we live in San Francisco too, and you deserve better than Nextdoor.

Tips can be sent to holler@uptownalmanac.com.

[Photo: Jano Avanessian]

Bonfire of the Insecurities

OMG You Guys, New York is Totes Jellies!

Not since we partied like it was 1999 or enjoyed 1967’s Summer of Love has the international media horde descended on San Francisco to try to explain to the rest of the world about how exciting it can be here! New York Magazine, maybe questioning their faith in the widespead belief among New Yorkers that they live at the center of the universe, has turned the volume up to 11 articles about San Francisco in their latest issue. The lead photo for the series is of nudists Gypsy Taub and Jaymz Smith, identified by the Chronicle’s Ellen Huet, followed by the above illustration which shows a good deal of artistic license taken with local geography. (Seriously, it’s like there was no attempt whatsoever to actually connect the legend with the map, but then New Yorkers have always struggled with perspective.)

Honestly, after reading Kevin Roose’s lead story, “Is San Francisco New York,” we didn’t have any fucks left to give about the rest of the articles, so we’ll leave it up to SFist’s Jay Barmann to explain why, to New York Magazine’s apparent dismay, our new money douchebros are slightly less overtly awful than their new money douchebros:

But it’s true, we are less inclined to embrace asshole behavior, unapologetic displays, and the giddy capitalist fervor that has made Manhattan a bohemia-free retail Disneyland where no one ever thought twice about bulldozing a building to build something newer and bigger.

What do you think, are you proud of all the attention and feel it validates your decision to stay or do you wish everyone would just go away and let us fight over real estate development amongst ourselves in peace?

[h/t Melissa Gira]

A Reason to Visit the Wharf

Filmmaker Offers Fresh Perspective on Local Landmark

When just a teenager visiting San Francisco for the first time, a highlight of the family trip was the Musée Mechanique. This was back when video arcades were still a thing, but the clunk and whir of the old-timey automatons hadn’t lost their charm and even felt fresh next to the CRT-and-joystick sameness of that era’s Atari, Midway and Nintendo cabinet games. It’s since been moved from the old location out by Ocean Beach to its current home at Fisherman’s Wharf, but like Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No.1, little of the magic has been lost to time or more modern distractions. If you haven’t been, or haven’t been in a while, hopefully this meditative short will remind you what it’s like to look through childish eyes in wonder again for just a moment.


[h/t Broke Ass Stuart]

Big Pretzel

ConAgra, Trader Joe's Allegedly Conspire to Corner Peanut-Butter Filled Pretzel Market

As if keeping a steady supply of peanut-butter filled pretzels in your office kitchen wasn’t difficult enough already, ConAgra may have seized control of the preservative-free, marginally nutritious delight and with it the fundamental health of California’s economy. Because if the people powering our great state’s engines of innovation don’t have something to modulate their serotonin and blood sugar at the office they’ll no longer be able to work the ten hour days and six day weeks that have become commonplace and productivity will suffer across the board.

Aliso Viejo’s Maxim Foods originally invented the recipe for the savory-and-slightly-sweet snack and began selling the product to retailers including Trader Joe’s, headquartered in Monrovia. To produce the marvels of food science, the company contracted with Anderson Bakery in Pennsylvania, which was then blended into National Pretzel in 1999, which in 2011 was stuffed into Nebraska’s ConAgra before being liberally salted.

Coincidentally! Now that ConAgra owned the means of peanut butter filled pretzel production almost exclusively, it started fulfilling Trader Joe’s orders directly last year—leaving nothing but crumbs in the bottom of the big, business-sized jar, alleges Maxim. The lawsuit accuses ConAgra of violating confidentiality provisions in contracts with the original production contractor, delivering a product to Trader Joe’s in the same packaging, which the latter then sold to customers as the same price (currently $3.79 for a one pound bag, up from $2.39 when Ruth Reichl at the LA Times gave it a stellar review in 1990). Including treble damages under state anti-trust laws, Maxim is seeking $60 million.

People are already looking for alternatives if evidence of comparison shopping between the H.K. Anderson brand available form Costco (definitely ConAgra) and the Herr’s brand (pretty sure also ConAgra) is any indication. Snyder’s of Hanover, a subsidiary of North Carolina’s Lance, Inc. offers a peanut butter filled mini-pretzel sandwich, which looks messy and therefore work-inappropriate.  Good Health Natural Products, another North Carolina company, sells a whole wheat version that’s available at local Safeway stores, but good luck convincing your office manager to spend nearly twice as much when they’re already gone before the next delivery every week.

Whoop Whoop

Movies, How Do They Work? The Roxie Gives a Sneak Peek of a Savage Juggalo Documentary

Last night San Francisco’s Juggathological community and the merely Juggalo-curious were treated to an advanced screening of Whoop Dreams at the Roxie. The film, still in production, documents five friends’ foray into the annual Gathering of the Juggalos, which today was announced to be moving to Missouri in 2014.

As Uptown Almanac’s Senior Juggalo Reporter, I could not be more fascinated by this subculture—built around a rap group made up of men in clown makeup flummoxed by magnetism. Judging by the speed at which the Kickstarter to make Whoop Dreams was funded, and the packed house at the sneak peek, I’m not alone. The Roxie made the event all the more festive by stocking the concession stand with Faygo:

What we got to see last night was more-or-less the final cut of the film, with a stand-in soundtrack to set the mood in place of an original score, which will be added before the film’s official release.

Whoop Dreams promises “sex, drugs, clowns, boobies, dildos, and people hurting themselves for the sake of their Juggalo family,” and for the most part, the film delivered. With what the trailer teased, I was fully expecting a feature-length shitshow, but what we got was surprisingly tame (even with the extreme nipple torture).

Whoop Dreams may just be the most polite movie about Juggalos you’ll ever see.

How did this happen? Well, as five relatively clean-cut bros in a sea of tatted ninjas and ninjettes, their strength in numbers may have kept them from assimilating into The Family. Coupled with the great care they all took not to mock Juggalo culture, there’s a noticable distance to the film. It’s this neutral stance that is Whoop Dreams’ only weakness. Metaphorically speaking, the guys merely dipped their toes in Hepatitis Lake. During the Q & A, it was also revealed that the guys captured less footage then they’d hoped—only 8 hours in 3 days (they got their fill of family and bounced a day early). And they were only able to allude to a lot of the sex and drugs they witnessed due to their own diligence in getting signed release forms from their subjects.

Despite its lack of teeth, I still really enjoyed Whoop Dreams. Honestly, I love Juggalo culture so much that I was bound to be satisfied by any glimpse into the Gathering. No doubt the rest of the audience last night felt the same. There were plenty of big laughs during the screening and we basically had to be kicked out of the Roxie because the Q&A ran over its allotted time but nobody wanted to budge. And with the guys collecting feedback forms in earnest, there will likely be a few tweaks made before the final version of Whoop Dreams is unleashed on the masses.

My feedback? I think the movie could be improved by including postmortem interviews with each of the guys describing their experiences documenting the crazy shit they saw. These could then be incorporated as voice over to boost some scenes that need additional explanation. (For example: a slow-motion montage of ladies oil wrestling makes a lot more sense when you know that the wrestlers were not the ladies originally hired for the event, but willing Juggalettes who stepped in when the professionals went on strike.) I know they’re planning on creating bonus commentary for the DVD—so why not put the best soundbites in the feature as well?

If they had it to do over again (which the guys emphatically stated they have no interest in), they’d also be better off sending only Matt Lieb and Laremy Legel, who seemed the most down with the clown…or at least into the adventure of it all.

How Whoop Dreams stacks up in the cannon of Juggathological film remains to be seen, but for right now I give it two enthusiastic Whoops. Until I see the final cut, I’m leaving my titties in my shirt.

Bay Area's "Highest Elevated Spiritual Leaders" to Bless Doggie Diner Heads, Other Mutts, on Sunday

If you've lived in the Bay Area for longer than fifteen seconds, you've undoubtedly seen this trio of colossal pups being trucked around the city.  But after years of weather, travels, and playa dust, their caretaker needs to restore these 300 pound icons to their former glory.  So in support of the traveling cerberus's $48,000 restoration Kickstarter, they'll be making an appearance in Dolores Park Sunday for a “blessing.”  It all sounds very weird and certainly worthy of your attention:

Join in with three of the Bay Areas highest elevated spiritual leaders as they bless your favorite Chihuahua, Labrador Retriever, Pug, Terrier, Spaniel, French Bulldog, in your life. Of course, this includes the Bay Area's own Dachshunds, the Doggie Diner Dogheads as well! This event is a very special spiritual blessing of the Dogs in support of the Kickstart Campaign to restore the Heads, replace their trailer with a customized “dog trailer” and perform mandatory and expensive repairs to the heavy duty hauling vehicle.

And who's on deck for the ceremony?

  • Sister Dana Van Iquity representing The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
  • Bishop Joey (Ed Holmes), 1st Church of the Last Laugh
  • Philo Drummond, Co-Founder of the Church of the Subgenius
  • And introduced by Deacon Sebastian Melmoth (John Law), Holy Trinity of the Dogminican Order

The event reminds us that this is all goofy bullshit, noting, “The Sisters, Subgenius and St. Stupid are all long-time Bay Area “spiritual” organizations that, regardless of what you might believe about their relative seriousness, have spread good cheer, whimsical confusion and a lot of fun around SF and beyond for decades.”

It all begins Sunday at 4pm and goes until 5:30.  Bring your own dog, or borrow a wandering mongrel to get in the action yourself.

[Photo by Marc]

One Way Swing Carousel

There's been a flurry of 'mystery mobiles' left dangling across the city, from bedazzled disco balls in the Haight to a decapitated doll head whirligig in Clarion Alley.  Now we find a swing carousel perched atop Oakwood's one way sign, around the corner from Bi-Rite.  A lovely piece, for sure (although further adorning it with the limbs of massacred dolls would certainly level up its carny cred).

[Thanks for the photo, Gray!]

Weekly Property Damage Rundown: Tech Backlash, Labeling Nature

It's been a while since we took a look at the graffiti situation in the neighborhood.  Let's.

Helpful labeling for the aspiring botanist.

I never seen San Francisco's soul, since it apparently went missing before I got to town, but I called the hotline anyway and was told I won a free vacation to the Bahamas.

This is one of the most objectively awful pieces of graffiti we've seen in some time—clearly someone was in a huff to express their contempt for “Betas”.  But “FUCK BINARY”?  We're in awe.

A newly proposed micohood on 19th Street for the taint between Lexington Club and Beauty Bar.

Quite the complicated name—imagine screaming that out in bed?