Monday, October 20, 2014

A few words about the return of 90 Day Fiance, TV's greatest achievement

90 Day Fiance is a reality show about people who get engaged to foreigners and then the foreigners come here on a special visa and they have 90 days to either get married or GTFO.  Sounds mildly interesting, but the producers are GENIUSES at casting and finding the right couples to follow.  Beth Spotswood did an excellent job breaking down season 1 here.  Now season 2 is upon us and it looks just as good or maybe even better like that's even possible.

Just like a drug addict who sees a Ziploc baggie, I get triggered around some reality shows and start to feel that feeling like I want to recap them.  As you know, I quit doing the Bachelor/ette but I'm thinking about starting up again for this shit.  It is a target-rich environment, let me tell you.

We've got Justin, who lives in Silicon Valley and looks like a techbro but is actually an elementary school teacher and obviously has something wrong with him because he had to find a potential wife in Colombia while he was there for some sports thing and then he brings her to America and we find out it's mostly so she can clean his apartment.  So now Justin has green card AND I.R.S. problems probably.

The first season was all dudes importing foreign chicks, so it was refreshing to see Chelsea, an American girl who went to Nicaragua and hooked up with NICARAGUA'S MOST FAMOUS POP STAR, a tiny person called "Yamir" with occasionally frosted tips and a carefully considered slouch.  I hate to be a cynical bastard but Yamir is using her to get to this country and become American pop star, I promise you.

Nicaragua's biggest pop star (L) and a too-trusting American woman (R)
And then there's Brett, a pasty mid-30's who somehow knocked up a woman and has a daughter and lives with an older lesbian couple and whose best friend looks like Paula Deen.  Brett is all kinds of weird.  He went online shopping for a mate and found Daya in the Phillippines or Philippinnes or however you spell it and this is going to be supes awkward.

I haven't decided yet if I'm going to go full retard and recap every episode, Bachelor-style; it mostly depends on how much I've had to drink by Sunday night at 8, but we'll see.

(There was also a Where Are They Now show about last season and while it was a hoot to see that Mormon missionary/general schlub Alan and Brazilian knockout Kirlyam are still together and appear to be blissfully happy, their segment mostly consisted of a trip to Alan's family reunion which looked more painful than kidney stones because (1) it appeared to by dry, since they're Mormon, duh, and the only thing worse than a family reunion is a DRY family reunion, and (2) no I'm wrong, it gets worse, because it was a THEMED family reunion and the theme was REDNECK.  A redneck themed family reunion in Utah.  With Confederate flag sightings.  If that didn't send Kirlyam screaming to the TAM ticket counter, she can survive anything America can throw at her.  BONUS FACT: once she gets her green card, she can start modeling. Oh no Alan.)

Friday, October 17, 2014

This is the kind of project SF needs. Too bad people are going to lose their fucking minds over it.

You may not know this, but there is at the present time an 86-unit apartment complex at 5th and Kirkham with the wonderfully unimaginative name "Kirkham Heights."  Yelpers give KH mixed reviews; Chris B. of Long Beach says it's "very quiet" and is great for a cat, if you're into that sort of thing, but doesn't have enough electrical outlets, so if you have a lot of appliances like Chris probably does maybe you might need some power strips.  Bonnie G. from L.A., on the other hand, thinks the Heights is a "NIGHTMARE" because they told her her place would be 783 sq ft and she measured it and it's 630.  That's a 150 square foot lie!  Bonnie couldn't even fit her furniture!  I picture Bonnie angrily U-Hauling her enormous futon back to Reseda or whatever, never to return.

Anyway, owner Westlake Realty has some BIG PLANS for the Heights.  Very big.

A longtime Inner Sunset property owner is proposing to build the largest residential development the Inner Sunset has ever seen, a 460-unit project nestled into the hillside on 6.3 acres below Mount Sutro.
San Mateo builder Westlake Urban has filed an application to tear down the Kirkham Heights apartment complex, an 86-unit row of structures built in 1950 at Fifth Avenue and Kirkham Street that has been popular with UCSF staff and students from the nearby Parnassus campus. A mix of condos and rental units would replace them.
Gaye Quinn, Westlake Urban’s managing partner, said the new project would include 86 rent-controlled apartments to match what is currently on the site. Another 12 percent of the apartments would be below market rate. Westlake Urban has owned the property for 40 years.

What is it we're always saying?  San Francisco needs more housing?  And not just $5 mil luxury condos, but housing for regular people?  HERE YOU GO! It's a net gain of 374 units.  Not bad looking either!

Not pictured: Annoying neighbors w/ their indoor cats.
The SF Business Times is throwing their hat in the ring for Understatement of the Century:  "The Westlake proposal is likely to get strong reactions from the neighborhood." YA THINK?  People are gonna lose their damn minds, more like.  WHAT ABOUT THE TRAFFIC! THEY'RE GONNA CLEAN OUT THE GOLDEN BEAR MARKET AT 6TH AND JUDAH! ALL THOSE CATS ARE GOING TO MAKE A TERRIBLE RACKET!

True. But I don't think anyone would disagree that we need more housing and this is more housing.  Plus it's not one of those stupid all-concrete and glass dbag cages that are going up all over goddam SOMA.  This looks like housing for normal people who use "disrupt" to mean when someone calls during dinner.  Let's do it.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Sorry, "sportsball" people, but my team is back in the World Series so this blog will be transitioning to pretty much an all-baseball format for the next couple of weeks or so.  In case anyone forgot, I tend to do a post for every single World Series game the G's are in and I probably will again.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Debra J. Saunders uses assisted suicide on reason and sense

I was just thinking the other day that I haven't read anything stupid and nonsensical from Debra J. Saunders in a while.  Luckily she's here to fix that.  Today Debra J. Saunders is tackling assisted suicide, which is a complicated, nuanced topic that Debra J. Saunders cannot understand or discuss intelligently.

SPOILER ALERT: Debra J. Saunders is against assisted suicide.

Here's my favorite disclaimer in a while, at the VERY END of the column, so you have to read her childish attempts to rail against it before you find out:

Full disclosure: My husband, Wesley J. Smith, is a paid consultant with the anti-assisted suicide Patients Rights Council.

Haha.  I hope he has some better arguments than you do, because yours are terrible.  Debra is here to discuss the case of Brittany Maynard, who has terminal cancer with less than six months to live and is moving to Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, because she wants to be in control of the end of her life.  Personally, I have no problem with that, but we're not here to discuss why I'm right, but rather why Debra J. Saunders is so very wrong.  Here's the key section:

I love the spirit, but there is a huge flaw in Maynard’s reasoning. She says she wants her story to help change California law so that no one else has to “move to another state to not die horribly.” Close to 40,000 Americans kill themselves every year; they make the same choice Maynard is making, although most won’t have the media attention that is being lavished on the vibrant and telegenic UC Berkeley graduate. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in this country.
Perhaps Maynard sees this choice as a way of beating back at death, to not allow the beast to own every turn of an end approaching far too soon. I respect that. But she is wrong to call it, as advocates do, “death with dignity.” The very phrase suggests that people who do not choose suicide lack dignity.

I've read this over and over and I can't see what she thinks is the "huge flaw in Maynard's reasoning."  Is it that "advocates" call it "death with dignity" and that somehow impugns non-suicide death?  Because that argument is so breathtakingly stupid I'm amazed that Debra J. Saunders could turn on or operate a computer to compose those sentences.  In no way does calling suicide "death with dignity" imply anything other kinds of death, any more than calling Debra J. Saunders an idiot imply that she has occupied the idiot field and there are no other idiots.  Sadly, this is not true.

Also, nowhere in the article does Saunders attribute the phrase "death with dignity" to Maynard, so it's not even her goddam argument.  Debra J. Saunders is assisted suiciding a strawman.

She - or husband Wesley, I don't know - also comes up with one more anti-assisted suicide argument.  Well, she doesn't, but she manages to write down what someone else said. 

Marilyn Golden of the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund in Berkeley is concerned that Maynard’s story obscures the larger picture. “For every individual with a happy family who’s not at risk for abuse, there are many other individuals who may be subtly steered toward assisted suicide by their insurance company or pressured by their family.”
Sure, families subtly steer other family members into all kinds of bad decisions, but we don't ban options that people want because some people may get steered towards them.  Just because a kid in a military family feels pressured to join the Army, we're not going to ban the Army. 

In the end, just like with gay marriage, it's impossible to construct a logical argument against assisted suicide, because it doesn't fucking affect you at all. Debra J. Saunders is just too dumb to realize this.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Types of annoying people RANKED

OK.

28. Obviously fake name at Starbucks

27. Three abreast walkers

26. Bad tippers

25. Burning Man people who are super into being Burning Man people

24. People who don't give up their seats to the elderly or the pregnant or the disabled or someone holding a small child on public transit

23. No turn signal

22. Clerks who turn bills so they all face the same way before completing a transaction

21. Boston Red Sox fans

20. People who order five sandwiches in the deli line

19. People who constantly quote movie lines instead of having their own sense of humor

18. Weekend sports anchors

17. Relatives on Facebook who only post crazy right-wing crackpot stuff

16.  Bicyclists on the sidewalk

15. Loud bros

14. Takes way too long at the ATM

13. "I don't own a TV"

12. Has very specific diet; wants to make sure you know all about the diet and what they can and can't eat

11. Kid Rock

10. SFGate commenters

9. People who stand on the left side of the escalator

8. Teens

7. Sidewalk clipboard fundraisers

6. People who date your ex

5. Dudes who obviously ogle women and catcall and shit like that

4. Responds to lengthy text asking a question with "K"

3. People who leave voicemails

2. Loud cell phone talkers

1. Everybody else in general

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Bars that Time Forgot, an occasional series, vol IV: The Jack's empire

Today's TBTTF is a little different because we're not talking about just one bar, but a whole chain of bars that used to dot the city.  When I first got here in 1990 there were at least 6 of them and there may have been more before then.  I'm assuming that there was a real "Jack" who opened the ur-Jack's at some point and then his empire grew and grew but I don't know for sure.

Here's an ad from a 1994 SF Weekly:



As you can see, six bars are listed there.  I did some research and by research I mean Googling for 10 minutes and here's what we've learned:

Jack's Bar - Maybe the flagship?  Who knows.  It was at 1601 Fillmore and is now the Boom Boom Room.  I can remember going there when it was still Jack's.  According to "Historic Walks in San Francisco: 18 Trails Through the City's Past," Jack's originally opened in 1933 on Sutter and was the first bar in the area to cater to African-Americans.  Pretty cool.  When I went there it seemed like it catered mostly to drunk white boys like myself.  I remember a lot of taps?  Was that their thing?  Maybe.

Jack's Cable Car - at 1548 California, now the horribly-named "Soda Popinski's."  In the interim it was apparently at some point called "California Dream'n," as referenced in this SF Weekly piece that notes that the Jack's Cable Car sign is still out front.

via SF Weekly, natch
Jack's Red Bear - 1176 Sutter, where R Bar is now.  I have no memory of this ever being Jack's Red Bear!  Prior to R Bar, the space was An Sibin, a DJ bar back when there were "DJ bars."  Again, SF Weekly proves helpful by informing us that before it was An Sibin it was Mulligan's so who knows when the Red Bear bit the dust.

Jack's Elixir - is now, unsurprisingly, Elixir, at the corner of 16th and Guerrero.  According to Elixir's own website, it was a Jack's only from 1990 to 1998.  I can definitely remember coming here when it was a Jack's.

Jack's Taps - This is the one that blew me away.  At 1300 Church (at 25th), it's now a "Purely Physical Fitness," which I guess is the opposite of a bar.  Walking by there, there is no indication that it used to be a bar.  I had no idea.

Jack's Presidio - Well, I guess this one surprised me too.  3490 California, now a UCSF Primary Care center, which I guess is just as opposite of a bar as a gym.  I have no memory of ever hearing anything about Jack's Presidio, but apparently it was a bar as late as 1994.  Street view for 3490 California gives no hint:


Based on that picture (which looks like it could be in Anytown, CA, BTW), I would say the building housing Jack's Presidio has long since been demolished.

So that's about it.  I have this feeling there has to be a much better history of the Jack's chain of bars somewhere so if you know where that is, please point me to it.  It's kind of amazing that this whole chain just disappeared without a trace.

(Postscript: I have no idea if Jack's Cannery Bar is a holdout or is in any way related to the original Jack's chain. I kind of doubt it but I could be wrong.)

UPDATE!!!!!  Reader Stephen has reminded us that the current home of Emperor Norton's Boozeland (which is a fine bar in its own right and worth a visit for the $3 Anchor California Lager on tap alone [but that might just be for happy hour]) used to be Jack's Deco and then just Deco.  In fact, if you had the magical ability to see to the left and right of the ad pictured at top, you'd see the next door neighbor ad on the left is for the uni-named "Deco," indicating that Jack had already left the building,  Thanks, Stephen!

FURTHER UPDATE!!!!  Another helpful reader writes in with memories about the mysterious Jack's Presidio:

Re Jack's Presidio location:  I have lived in LH since 1986.  The picture you have on your web site shows a mixed-use building with apartments, Charles Schwab, a high-end sandwich place, etc.  Before that building, however, there was a big diner called the Sugar Plum, which was a much larger version of the Zim's and Miz Browne's Feed Bag diners across the street in Laurel Village.  It had a small cocktail lounge built inside it.

Yes, at one time there were three diners in the hood, and now there are none.  But we do have an eatery with the ridiculously precious name Beautifull!, which sells yuppie catnip at stoopid prices.

Anyway, sometime circa the early 1990s, the Jack's Bars began to explode throughout the city, grabbing on to the early microbrew explosion in SF, which began in the mid-1980s.  From my memory, the Jack in the Mission was the first one, with all other ones branching off from that...but my memory only goes back to 1984, when I moved here.

So, the small cocktail lounge was replaced by a Jack's branch.  Absolutely nothing was done to the interior to modify or upgrade it.  It was still a hole-in-the-wall, just with a better beer selection.  It offered the nice opportunity to do a beer "runner" between that location and the Pig and Whistle, which opened up a Geary/Laurel circa the early 1990s.  Jack's Presidio only stayed open a few years, though, maybe 2-3.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

This Kickstarter looks pretty cool, actually

I get a lot of emails asking me to promote things on my blog because (1) people mistakenly think I have some huge reach and am totally influential when I'm really just an elaborate newsletter for drunk cranks; and (2) I forgot what 2 was.  Mostly 1.  Most of these emails I just ignore, but I'm making an exception because this one actually looks pretty cool.

Local publisher Last Gasp books is having a Kickstarter for their fall publishing season and I am all about supporting the arts, especially when the arts includes "Beyond the Dark Veil," a "compilation of extraordinary and haunting photographs documenting the practice of death and mourning photography in the Victorian Era and early 20th century" or the "Fetish Coloring Book," which looks extremely dirty.


And here's the thing: a lot of Kickstarters have bullshit rewards like "OUR EVERLASTING THANKS!!! :)" or "Your name on the Memory Wall on our website which No One will ever look at!!!!!" but you actually get shit when you donate to Last Gasp.  Even as low as $15, you get one of two books.  For $25, you can get the dead people book or a t-shirt or even a tote bag like they're KQED or something.  This all sounds like a pretty good deal.

For $500 you can get a "Night out in North Beach with Ron" but I'll need more information on "Ron" and what a "Night Out" might include before I'd take a flyer on that one.

Anyway, I have never before pimped someone's Kickstarter but this sounds legit to me.  At least go look at the prizes & shit.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Few things

Obviously, I was wrong about the Royals when I said they would get beat up by the Angels.  Naturally, they swept the Angels in three games so yay, that means either the Royals or the Orioles are going to be in the World Series.  You know what we want from a World Series?  Just a little fucking VARIETY, that's all.  In the last 10 years, the Cardinals have been in it 4 times, the Red Sox 3 times, and the Rangers and Tigers and Yankees and Phillies twice.  Shake it up a little.

Oh, and the Giants twice too, but we don't count that.

FRIDAY I went to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass after/towards the end of the Giants game.  It was SO FUCKING HOT.  We started out in a spot in the shade but we were behind a group of assholes that:

1. Laid out a huge tarp and chairs and then disappeared for long stretches;
2. Included a guy my age with a soul patch and one of those stupid ugly stylized sun tattoos on his upper arm;
3. Who kept offering a bottle of tequila to the others by screaming "HORNITOS" in a fake Spanish accent;
4. Talked continuously and loudly through each and every song.

After about 20 minutes, I had enough of DJ Fakey Spanish Accent and the Party Patrol and so we moved over to the extreme left edge of the stage where there was plenty of room and people were much quieter.  That's where we were for Ryan Adams' set.


He was good!  He played a lot of stuff from his new album, which isn't that great, and then made a curious decision to play "New York, New York," one of his more upbeat rockers, in a strangely mellow and muted way, but overall did a good job.  You always hear stories about how he's a total dick at concerts and berates the audience for not paying attention and demands complete silence but he was charming and witty and engaging on stage this time, complete with semi-funny banter and the whole nine.  So good going with that, Ryan.

Do you like podcasts?  I like podcasts.  And there is a great new podcast from the producers of the ur-podcast, This American Life, called "Serial" and let me tell you, if you are a Dateline/48 Hours junkie like we are, you will be into this.  It's a true crime story spun out one hour at a time and so far (2 episodes in) it is fascinating and gripping and everything else -ing.

That reminds me - I keep meaning to talk about how much we're into Dateline & 48 Hours true crime shows.  I'm hoping someday they will discuss these on TV on the Radio, the radio show about TV on BFF.FM every Sunday morning at 10.  It's a great show and entertaining and funny and you should all be listening to it.  In the interest of full disclosure, I'm probably married to one of the hosts.

Speaking of BFF.FM, I'm going to be on Burrito Justice Radio tomorrow from noon to 2.  We're going to talk about music and history and baseball and probably other things too.  Tune in.