Monday, August 31, 2009

I think I'm at the stage in my life where nothing is worth waiting around an hour for.

- I usually try to avoid Boogaloos for brunch because of the punishing wait times. Now, I know that Boogaloos has its fair share of detractors who claim the food isn't any good, but that's just sour grapes. It's perfectly good hangoover brunch food. So when The Wife wanted to go yesterday, I agreed, since I hadn't been in a while. It went like this:

11:30: Arrive @ restaurant, put name on list. Looks bad, but hey! I'll keep a positive outlook.

11:50: We're getting there! This isn't so bad. We'll be seated soon, I'm sure.

12:00: This is kind of taking a long time. I'm feeling a little hangry. But hey, chin up. We'll get there soon.

12:15: WTF? Those people were after us, I'm sure. What the fucking fuck is going on with the list?

12:20: I want to kill someone. Come here, you with the white sunglasses, so I can stab you in the fucking face. DON'T LOOK AT ME, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE.

12:30: (Stangled noises). Don't talk to me.

12:35: Seated. Just bring me a pile of whatever. Why is the waitress smiling? What is she, retarded?

12:45: Finished. Let's get out of here.

The food was actually pretty good.

- I know this has been said before, but being a Giants fan is like being in an abusive relationship. They get drunk on Monday night and knock you around pretty good, and you go ahead and pack a bag and you're resolved to leave them, and they come back all crying and promising they can be different, and then they go and bring you flowers by sweeping the Rockies at home and you actually start to believe things will be different and hey, your black eye is hardly visible any more and you say to your friends, "No, they've changed, really, I believe it this time" and your friends just shake their heads and look sad but fuck those bitches because you're in love.

- I love the 6 hot days in SF we get a year. Love love love them. And this time around, 96 was nice enough to show up on a Friday, when you could enjoy it, instead of a Monday.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Pitchfork Top 20: 14-10

20-15, here.

14. Jay-Z, "99 Problems"

The only straight-up rap song on the list. Includes a description of DWB (driving while black) and sneaks in some street advice (i.e., cops can't search your locked glove compartment without probable cause or a warrant, so don't say "yes" when they ask). What any of this has to do with a bitch is unclear, but I fully believe that Jay-Z has few or no problems with bitches.

13. LCD Soundsystem, "Losing My Edge"

Maybe especially poignant for someone whose blog is entitled "40 going on 28." I think this also might be James Murphy's funniest song, with its relentless name-dropping in a transparent effort to out-hipster you.

12. Outkast, "Hey Ya!"

Boy, what's not to like about this song, other than the fact that you probably heard it about a million times in 2003? I don't want to crib too much from Pitchfork's description, but they're right on about one thing - this song might be the perfect cross-genre mashup, and that's probably why everyone liked it.

11. Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy"

I'm sorry to even bring it up, because it'll be stuck in your head for the rest of the day now. A few years ago, there was a fascinating article in the New Yorker about a company that claims it can analyze a song and determine, with 80% accuracy, whether it's likely to become a hit. This song's "hit grade" was 755, where anything about 700 is "exceptional." Sounds about right.

10. Arcade Fire, "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)"

You knew there was going to be an Arcade Fire song on here. I can't recall another band blowing up as quickly and convincingly as these guys. The first time they were in SF, they played at Bottom of the Hill (capacity 350). A year or so later, they were at the Warfield (capacity 2400), and then after that Shoreline (capacity 22,000). Sure, part of it was hype, but the bigger part of it was that the songs are so fucking good, and just so unlike anything else that was going on at the time. Think about how many bands have some of Arcade Fire in their sound now.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Guest blogging: Giants Yearbook 2009, by The Wife

By The Wife

I wasted 8 years in CA before becoming a Giants fan. Sure, I'd been to the occasional game. I'd drink some beers, chat with my friends, ogle some players and cut out somewhere around the 4th inning when the sun went down and it got too cold to sit in the park on a June night. TK is a big baseball fan, and eventually, through accompanying him to his 10-game a season habit and an abundance of free tickets through work, I finally learned to appreciate baseball for more than the Coca Cola slide and Cha-Cha-Bowls.

I learned it was called "Triples Alley", instead of "Cripples Alley" as I had believed. I learned what a ground-rule double was. I learned that Club level serves beer past the 7th inning and I can NEVER go back to bleacher living. TK taught me how to keep score and my knowledge and appreciation of the game grew. He taught me how to do this so he could go outside and take smoke breaks without missing any of the action. I went along with it because I was slowly starting to understand the game and it kept me focused, plus I figured if we ever broke up this was a tres datable skill I'd acquired.

Four seasons after we first started going to the games I'm now a bonafide, WE'RE IN THIS!! Giants fan. I was there for Barry Bonds hitting 700. I was there for Barry Bonds leaving. I was there for the shitty 2008 "rebuilding" season where we went to about 11 games and saw 1 win. I secretly reveled in it as I saw the team struggle and suck it up. This all helped my status as a true fan! Look! I'm here sitting through all this and still loving it. When they come back and win the World Series X years from now, that victory will be all the sweeter for having been here since the beginning of this new, scrappy team.

So, 2008 sucked and we (See?! I'm now that person I hated who referred to every game as "WE really have to win" even though I wouldn't know which end to hold the bat with) never had a shot at the post-season. More of the same was expected for this season, and yet, you know what? Here we are, about to enter September and the Giants are 3 games back in the Wild-Card race. Three!! We can do that! Maybe! And you know, what? If not, I'll still be there front-and-center next year as we continue growing and getting better. As we come up on what could be a possible post-season race for us, let's take a second to wind down and look at the Giants yearbook for 2009:

Giant Most Likely to get all deep and talk about the Circle-Of-Life when he's had too many drinks, because he's been through some shit, man!: Barry Zito.

Poor little rich boy, right? He became a free agent and was signed for $126 million and then had THE WORST season ever. Now, here's the thing: when you or I have a shitty day, we don't have the added pressure of 45,000 people booing us and writing irate editorials about it. Barry came back this season to look really good as a pitcher again, and yet he's still got to prove himself every single time he steps on the mound. It can't be easy to go from dating Alyssa Milano to being sent to the Bullpen, and yet he's picked himself up and says "it's all come full circle" and now he's "back to what he loved about the game" and blah, blah, blah. KIT Barry! You're still dreamy.

Giant most likely to pull you aside and give you Dad-like advice while boosting your self-esteem: Aaron Rowand.

I loved Aaron Rowand from the second he was signed. He just seems like somebody who's so THERE for the team and so positive, and he does all this while scaling walls like a spider-monkey and making seemingly impossible catches in centerfield. Save your no-hitter for you? Done!!! Break my nose while running into a fence to make a catch? With pleasure! I imagine he'd be the one to pump you full of the "Just be yourself. If they can't see what I see......." speeches that would make you tear up and then give it your all to make him proud. Total Dad crush.

Giant least likely to be at Lime after a game, yet apparently he's there all the time: Matt Cain.

I know, right? He told the Chronicle he loves going to Lime (as Zagat says "like eating inside an iPod") after the games with his fiancee. I can't picture him picking up those tiny little grilled cheeses with his big pitcher's hand, but I'm so glad this country boy has taken to SF, even buying a house in Noe Valley. Matt Cain pitched really, really well last year but couldn't get any run support, so it's nice to see him getting backup this year and becoming more confident. He has a quote on the wall inside club level that says the place he'd most like to visit is Australia. That seems like such a humble, small thing for a baseball player to request (Barry Zito, by contrast, would like to tame a puma and keep it as a pet one day) and maybe now he's getting a little more backup he'll dream a little bigger next season.

Cy Young award winner you most want to take home and make a sandwich for: Tim Lincecum.

He looks about 16 and yet has earned the names "The Franchise" and "The Freak" by coming from obscurity to winning the Cy Young. The kid can pitch. Timmy's actually older than Matt Cain which floors me when he shows up at the ballpark with his beanie, flip-flops and French bulldog (named "Cy" of course). I want to sternly tell him to just CUT YOUR HAIR ALREADY YOUNG MAN every time he steps out there this season, because Timmy, I am rocking the fine, flyaway hair myself and we just can't do length. Aw, bless!

Giant most likely to come from the Bullpen and be all, "Lost my starting spot, huh, bitches? Well how about a no-hitter?": Jonathan Sanchez.

I'm not immune to El Guapo's Josh-Hartnett-like good looks, but his pitching has left something to be desired, which saw him sent to the Bullpen this year. To see him pitch a no-no was definitely the feel-good moment of the year, and still makes me tear up a little every time I see the replay of him hugging Bengie Molina, hugging his Dad, or thanking Aaron Rowand for making that amazing catch in the 8th inning.

Giant most likely to leave it all on the field and be the best little-league coach EVER after retirement: Bengie Molina.

It's pretty well know that Bengie Molina takes every loss personally and is genuinely bummed when the Giants don't win. This guy gives it his all in every game, despite being able to run at less-than-breakneck speed. That's why he learned to only hit homers.*

(*not 100% accurate, but you know. He's good)

Giant most likely to be hit on for bearing a resemblance to Mark Ruffalo: Ryan Garko.

He took a while to warm up, but he's making some solid contributions to the team now. Not least of which is being a more than passable eye-candy replacement now that Kevin Frandsen and John Bowker have been sent back down. CALL ME, Ryan!

Honorable mentions are as follows:

Giant most likely to be on reverse steroids because he's so tiny, yet can swing a bat: Eugenio Velez.

Third base coach with most Bull-Durham vibe and ability to windmill his arms out-of-control: Tim Flannery.

Although it's not over yet, THANX FOR SITTING NEXT TO ME IN HOMEROOM. I WILL NEVER 4GET U GIANTS 2009. BFF x 1,000,000!!!! xoxoxoxo

The Pitchfork Top 20: 20-15

Last week popular whipping boy/actual good source for music info Pitchfork released their list of the Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s. Sucks to be you if you're releasing an album between now and December! Anyway, I compiled a playlist of the Top 20, some of which I was familiar with, some not, and present now to you, a breathless public, my Extremely Interesting Take on their Top 20.

(P.S. Some of the links are to iMeem, and they work for me, but if they don't work for you, let me know or look it up on Youtube or something.)

20. The Walkmen, "The Rat"

Starting off with a bang. I remember this song appearing with a noisy racket and generally putting the Walkmen on the map, even though they had done some cool stuff before. If you like this, hang on to it, because it's one of the few more-or-less pure "rock" songs on this list. Not my favorite Walkmen song (that would be either "We've Been Had" or "Louisiana"), but a great song nonetheless.

19. R. Kelly, "Ignition (Remix)"

I've never been a huge R. Kelly fan, but this is undeniably catchy. Naturally, it's about sex. The chorus reminds me a little of Bone Thugs N Harmony, for some reason. Anyway, I'm in no position to evaluate the positioning of this song, given how unfamiliar I am with R. Kelly's oeuvre or, indeed, R&B in general.

18. Hercules and Love Affair, "Blind"

Also something I would never normally listen to. One of the things I like about this exercise is being forced out of my usual box and listening to stuff I'd never usually hear. Anyway, yeah, nouveau disco. It's fine as far as it goes, I guess. Vocals by Antony Hegarty of indie darlings Antony & the Johnsons.

17. Annie, "Heartbeat"

Pretty much everything on the list that I wasn't familiar with or wouldn't normally listen to I could at least appreciate (like "Blind," above), but I'm not getting this one. To me, it's a middling, nothing-really-special dance-pop song. I don't get it. She's kinda cute, though.

16. The Rapture, "House of Jealous Lovers"

When a rock critic says something is "angular" (and they all do, a lot), this is what they're talking about. Jittery, pulsing guitars, yelping vocals, prototypical dance-punk. A lot of bands tried to sound like this after it came out.

15. The Knife, "Heartbeats"

Like a lot of other people, I gather, I heard the Jose Gonzalez acoustic cover of this song before the original. In fact, I think I came across it first in this Sony commercial (which is pretty amazing in its own right). ANYWAY, I maintained originally that I didn't like The Knife original very much, but it's grown on me. I think it started when I heard it in an underground (literally, below ground) nightclub in Limerick, Ireland, at like 3 in the morning. It just seemed right. It's good.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Today's Top 5: Guilty Pleasures

1. White Castle frozen cheeseburgers

I live far, far away from the nearest Krystal, which is basically White Castle with a Southern accent, and sometimes I get a powerful craving for those little square burgers. Sometimes I address this craving with a 4 6-pack of White Castle frozen cheeseburgers, which is kind of like addressing a craving for cigarettes by watching "Mad Men." It's frustrating and makes you want the real thing. Nevertheless, sometimes they're satisfying in an Oh-My-God-I-know-this-is-terrible-but-what-the-fuck-I'm-hungover kind of way.

2. To Catch a Predator

Here's some advice for all you middle-aged men out there: The 13-year-old chick you're chatting with on AOL is not a 13-year-old chick. It's some dude who works for Chris Hansen and pretty soon instead of having a Mike's Hard Lemonade in some little girl's hot tub while her parents are "out of town," Chris Hansen is going to be asking you why don't you just have a seat right over there and you're going to be explaining why you brought condoms with you when all you wanted to do was talk to her about how dangerous the Internet is.

3. Santigold

Yeah, it's not as bad as liking, say, the Jonas Brothers or Jack Johnson, but Santigold just seems like something a teenaged girl would like and then there's the pesky issue of those Bud Light Lime commercials. But no matter. Still fun, catchy pop songs, just like nature intended. My gloomy indie rock isn't going anywhere.

4. Big Brother

I know, I know, believe me, I know. Even by the extraordinarily low standards of reality shows, Big Brother is a bottom-feeder. Alternatively boring and horrifying, I have no explanation for why I watch this.

5. TMZ (the TV show)

Look! There's Christian Slater waiting for the valet! Look, it's Jerry O'Connell coming out of The Standard! Why am I watching this? Because they're famous!!! Utterly and proudly devoid of any actual content or meaning, this dopey, lovable show features a faux-command-center full of empty-headed celebrity chasers detailing their latest finds to Chief Culture Destroyer Harvey Levin, followed by video. Hypnotic.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Morning Staff Meeting

OK. OK everyone. OK, can you please find a seat? OK. Let's get started.

What did we do Friday? Oh, that's right, The Wife and I went to dinner at Velvet Cantina and then saw an early show at the Makeout Room. A couple things about this:

1. The worst part about eating at the Velvet Cantina is having to say "Velvet Cantina." Seriously, what a terrible name for a restaurant. Or anything, really. Food was pretty good, though, and we went early enough that we avoided the crowds of SHRIEKING girls that seem to populate the place later in the evening.

2. I love early shows. Because I'm old. I wish more places did them. Anyway, Jeffrey Luck Lucas was really good, but his quiet, introspective songs might not have been the best match for Friday night at 8. The Music Lovers were great. I'd write more but I don't have time to do a whole review thing right now.

Saturday I did some recording and then drank beers at Bar with Olu.

Sunday is, of course, Mad Men day. In addition to just generally being great guests, I have to thank Stephen and Jessica for turning us on to G.I. Joe PSAs. HOLY SHIT THIS CRAP IS FUNNY.

P.S. I don't want to talk about the Giants. If you bring them up, I'll leave the room. Really.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Further signs that the apocalypse is approaching, or maybe the world really will end in 2012

1. Vanderbilt got 3 votes in the preseason AP Top 25 football poll.

That means 3 voters wrote down "Vanderbilt" in one of the 25 slots on their ballot.

Maybe they were drunk, or joking, or something, but if that's not the damndest thing, I don't know what is.


2. A Third Eye Blind album is the #1 album on iTunes right now. Third Eye Blind. Jesus.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hipsters killed Kennedy

Oh my God I am so so so fucking sick of people talking about HIPSTERS and who is and isn't a HIPSTER and what HIPSTERS do and what they drink and how much they suck and blah blah blah CHRIST ALMIGHTY PEOPLE THIS SHIT WAS TIRED IN 2002 so you can imagine how played it is now.

We. Get. It.

So hipsters are douchey conformists who think they're oh-so-cool but are actually brain-dead pack-followers who have ruined music and bicycling and everything. Whatever.

You'd think that would be the end of it there. But no. No, it's much worse, we come to learn.

"[T]he hipster represents the end of Western civilization."

This little dollop of overheated trope comes courtesy of an over-the-top article in Adbusters called Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization that I can't figure out if it's satirical or not. It's like "Reefer Madness" for Hipsters. Behold:

Lovers of apathy and irony, hipsters are connected through a global network of blogs and shops that push forth a global vision of fashion-informed aesthetics. Loosely associated with some form of creative output, they attend art parties, take lo-fi pictures with analog cameras, ride their bikes to night clubs and sweat it up at nouveau disco-coke parties. The hipster tends to religiously blog about their daily exploits, usually while leafing through generation-defining magazines like Vice, Another Magazine and Wallpaper. This cursory and stylized lifestyle has made the hipster almost universally loathed.

Not only that! They also cook and eat babies!!!! RUN IN TERROR FROM THE HIPSTER!!!

Look, if it's anything, "hipster" is a convenient catch-all term to describe people who either (1) dress differently than you, or (2) you don't like. Saying that hipsters are the death of Western Civilization is like saying that irony is the death of the English language. I don't know what's going on over there at Adbusters, but people need to fucking chill out and get some perspective.

Sigh. Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you have some big plans for the weekend. Me? I'm just going to my usual nouveau disco-coke party.

[DISCLAIMER: If, in fact, this article was meant to be satirical, my deep apologies and boy do I look stupid.]

[DISCLAIMER TWO: This article was originally published in July 2008. But same diff.]

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The first 6 results Google suggests when you type in the word "did"

Did you know
Did the groundhog see his shadow
Did rihanna give chris brown herpes
Did you wrong lyrics
Did you know video
Did rihanna give chris brown aids

Not sure what this says about our society, but it's sort of worrisome.

Brief thoughts on the first episode of Top Chef Vegas

- So, so glad the girl with the stretched-out earlobes is gone. I was praying for her to get kicked off. There's just no way I could look at that shit all season.

Incidentally, what happens when you decide you don't want stretched-out earlobes any more? Do you take the things out and then just have long earlobes that dangle down to your shoulders and have huge holes in them? Or do you automatically have to go to a plastic surgeon and have that shit cleaned up?

- Jen is kinda cute, used to be the sous chef at Le Bernardin, and likes to drink. CALL ME.

- So the sexist guy is going to be the asshole of this season, right?

- Where's Wolfgang Puck been all this time? He was a great guest judge.

- Kevin, who won the elimination challenge, looks like he should be in My Morning Jacket.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lyric Deconstruction: ".... Baby One More Time"

Britney Spears, 1998

Oh baby, baby
Oh baby, baby
Oh baby, baby

Oh baby, baby indeed. Britney Spears was 16 years old when this song was released, which makes the coquette-in-high-school video both alluring and creepy. Although, I guess it should be pointed out, the age of consent in a whole lot of states is 16.

The song was written by Max Martin, who also wrote a bunch of songs for the Backstreet Boys and wrote “Since U Been Gone,” which is, regardless of how you feel about Kelly Clarkson, a pure pop gem. Max Martin is kind of a pop genius.

How was I supposed to know
That something wasn't right here
Oh baby baby
I shouldn't have let you go
And now you're out of sight, yeah

Wait a minute. If Britney didn’t know that something wasn’t right, why did she let him (at least, I’m assuming it’s a “him;” if it’s a “her,” the mind reels) go? You typically don’t let anyone go unless you know full well that something’s wrong.

Show me, how you want it to be
Tell me baby
'Cause I need to know now what we've got

It’s impossible to sing “show me how you want it to be” without it sounding sort of like “show me how you want to do me.” I know because we used to cover this song in my old band and people fucking loved it. I bet the “want it to be”/”want to do me” thing isn’t accidental.

My loneliness is killing me
I must confess, I still believe
When I'm not with you I lose my mind
Give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time

Here we come to the most troubling part of the song. WTF, exactly, does “Hit me baby one more time” mean? I see three possible meanings:

1. Literal: Actually, physically hit me. If this is the correct meaning, this song is very fucking disturbing.

2. Semi-slang: Like, “hit me up,” get in touch with me. A colloquialism I kinda hate but at least makes some kind of sense in the song. But was “hit me up” in common use in 1998, and especially in Sweden, where Max Martin was writing these charmingly ESL lyrics?

3. The Full Vegas: She’s got a hard 15, and the dealer’s showing an 8. “Hit me.” Unlikely. But now that I look at it, you could analyze the whole song as a paean to blackjack. “I shouldn’t have let you go” – shouldn’t have stuck on that pair of 8’s. I should have split. STUPID STUPID STUPID. Again, though, this interpretation seems unlikely.

CONCLUSION: Who the fuck knows? All of the possibilities are weird, in one way or another.

[I do note that, according to Wiki, "The song was originally titled 'Hit Me Baby One More Time,' but it was revised to '...Baby One More Time' since Jive Records executives were concerned that the song would condone domestic violence."]

Oh baby, baby
The reason I breathe is you
Boy you got me blinded
Oh baby, baby
There's nothing that I wouldn't do
That's not the way I planned it

Well, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, if it’s not the way you planned it, you shouldn’t have let him go. Just saying.

Show me, how you want it to be
Tell me baby
'Cause I need to know now what we've got

[Repeat CHORUS]

Oh baby, baby
Oh baby, baby
Ah, yeah, yeah
Oh baby, baby
How was I supposed to know
Oh pretty baby
I shouldn't have let you go
I must confess, that my loneliness
Is killing me now
Don't you know I still believe
That you will be here
And give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time

I guess now these lyrics seem especially poignant in the wake of Britney’s very public crackup, what with the head shaving and the Jason Alexander - no not that Jason Alexander - marrying and all that. I don’t know if it’s her loneliness that’s killing her, but something is. I don’t think being followed around 24/7 by a pack of photographers can be any good for anyone.

[Repeat CHORUS]

I must confess that my loneliness
Is killing me now
Don't you know I still believe
That you will be here
And give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time

Monday, August 17, 2009

Some things are just as bad as you were told. Like professional wrestling, or the Bubble Lounge

Difficult as this must be to believe, I actually found myself in the famous-for-its-douchebag-quotient Bubble Lounge on Saturday night, for a friend's girlfriend's birthday thing. It's maybe not as bad as I thought it would be, crowdwise, but I wasn't there that long.

2 or 3 significant problems, though:

1. It's fucking expensive. The Sister wanted a glass of champagne and I asked the very affable bartender about it and he made a suggestion and then gave me a sample! Nice, right? So I asked him how much it is per glass and he said "$18" and I said "Show me something more in the $10 range" and he said "We have an entry-level prosecco for $11" and I said The Sister would like entry level just fine.

2. There was nowhere to sit. All the seats at the bar were taken and you can't sit at any of the tables unless you guarantee $30 a head for everyone in your party. Oh, fuck you.

3. I don't know what they have going on downstairs but it looked like a prom. Obvs it wasn't a prom, but it was a bunch of very young-looking overdressed chicks. Wait, that sounds pretty good. I'm not describing it right or something.

So we vacated that place and walked down the street to The Kells, another place I would normally never go (Yelp sample: This is a great place if you want to drink Budlights out of insulated aluminum bottles, meet some 19 year olds from Sacramento and dance to Montell Jordan) but we saw a few open tables in the front and more than anything we just wanted to sit down. Boy oh boy is that place full of assholes (General rule: If you're wearing a visor backwards and upside down, you're probably an asshole. Fuck, if you're wearing a visor, period, you're probably an asshole) but we had a place to sit and it was fine becuse we pretty much stayed out of the fray, as it were.

I don't know what's going on down on the lower end of Columbus these days, but it looked like prom at The Kells too. Where are all these 19-year-old girls coming from? And how did they all get fake ID's?

Now I know why I never went to either of those places even when I lived in North Beach. The End.

Oh, P.S. Signs You're Getting Old: Our plans for this Friday night include renting a Rug Doctor. SLOW YOUR ROLL, COMMANDER PARTY!!!! WHOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Improbable things you might find on a rooftop in the Tenderloin

1. Michael Douglas

2. An Airstream trailer

When I saw this post over at Curbed, my heart went all a-flutter.

WTF Moment of the Day
Friday, August 14, 2009, by Sally Kuchar

Does anyone know what's going on here? A plugged-in commenter writes: If you thought a single family home in tenderloin was weird, there's also a streamliner chilling on a roof down there:


Crazy, right? We learned from the comments that this bizarre spectacle is to be found in the 100 block of Turk in the Tenderloin. Well, as it happens, I work in the TL, so I tried to calm my breathing and then walked right on over there. Guess what? It's real, and it's spectacular.

BTW, people tend to stare at you if you're a reasonably well-dressed white guy taking pictures in the 100 block of Turk. Also, there are a lot of people drinking airplane bottles of liquor in the 100 block of Turk.

How did Airstream get up there? It obviously took a lot of effort. WTF is going on here?

The BART strike is stupid and is going to suck. Also, where do I sign up to be BART management?

So! We're going to have a BART strike! Oh yay.

[For those of you not from around here, BART is a shiny silver people mover that goes all around the Yay Area and even to places I've heard about but never visited, like something called "El Cerrito del Norte." I use it to get to work every day and sometimes to go to Stephen and Jessica's house in Berkeley. Lots of people need it to get from their houses in the East Bay to their jobs in SF.]

From what I can tell, public sentiment is pretty strongly against the union; check out the comments here. And why not? The contract the employees turned down would "freeze wages for four years but provide bonuses in three of those years, change work rules to give bosses more say in employees' job duties, reduce the need for overtime, and require employees to pay more for premium health care."

You can imagine how the employees turning this down goes over with someone who, like me, just took a pay cut, or someone who lost their job entirely. BRIGHT SIDE: If you're unemployed, you won't have to figure out another way to get to work!

So yes, I think it's a mistake and obviously a public relations disaster for the union and is only going to lower people's already-low opinion of unions these days.

But just to be a contrarian, remember this story from a few weeks ago?

As BART careens towards a possible strike, a KTVU Channel 2 News investigation has found the transit district’s management has spent millions of dollars on trips around the world and the nation and lavish meals at extravagant restaurants.

One expert told KTVU that the system's tracking of those expenses is the equivalent of throwing receipts in a cigar box.

I want to be BART management! Check out what they get:

- A $2,700 tab at Gallagher’s Steak House on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, one of the most expensive steakhouses in the nation. The meal was for 10 BART managers – at $270 a meal – and had no itemized receipt, a violation of BART’s official policy.

- A $751.40 bill for some BART employees, directors – and director’s wives – at a Georgetown restaurant dubbed the “power spot of the year.” The CafĂ© Milano bill included wine and even cognac, again against BART’s official policy.

- A $699.51 bill at the University Club, also on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The men’s only organization is akin to San Francisco’s Pacific Union Club, except it is exclusively for invited graduates of Yale University. The meal was said to be a “thank you” to employees of the New York City subway, who gave BART managers a “tour.” Again, no itemized receipt was provided, although as with all the other expenses, BART reimbursed the tab with taxpayer and fare gate money.

So, yeah, I completely agree that the union should have accepted the contract and that most BART employees get a sweet deal and are fools to look a gift horse in the mouth. Just saying that management doesn't look to be exactly blame-free for the BART deficit either.

Moral of the story: everyone sucks. But we knew that.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Here's some pointless babble for you right here

Oh God, once again the MSM examines Twitter and finds it lacking:

Study: 40 percent of Twitter is "pointless

Twitter critics complain the microblogging network is filled with time-wasting chatter. Twitter evangelists, however, say it's an indispensable tool for social conversation and news.

A new study by Pear Analytics of San Antonio, Texas, gives both camps something to chew on, although the largest portion of tweets was, sure enough, "pointless babble."

The marketing and business intelligence firm recently sampled the Twitter stream every 30 minutes from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for 10 days. From the resulting sample of 2,000 tweets, Pear Analytics found:

- 40.55 percent were "pointless babble," which Pear defined as the "I am eating a sandwich now" tweets."

-37.55 percent were "conversational," or "tweets that go back and forth between folks, almost in an instant message fashion, as well as tweets that try to engage followers in conversation, such as questions or polls."

-8.7 percent had "pass along value," the tweets that are re-tweets passed along from member to member.

- 5.85 percent were "self promotion," messages about companies, products or services.

- 3.75 percent were spam, the "See how I got 3,000 followers in one day" tweets.

- 3.60 percent were news from mainstream national media outlets such as
CNN or Fox.

The report recommends the use of Twitter filtering tools such as Philtro to weed out the babble. It also concludes that "as Twitter continues to evolve, not only as a brand, but from a user's perspective, it is likely that the usage patterns will change."

So wait a minute. That means that, by definition, every Twitter update that isn't conversational, a retweet, self-promotion, spam, or a link to national news is "pointless babble"? Well, fuck you very much, "Pear Analytics." My fucking bon mots are little nuggets of joy and wisdom. Maybe Pear Analytics' stupid updates are pointless babble, but I've got something to say.

In all seriousness, I resisted Twitter for a long time because, like pretty much everyone who doesn't use it, I didn't see the point. (Check out the SFGate Comments, BTW, if you want to see what the mouth-breathing point-missing crowd really thinks.) But now I like it a lot. It's a snapshot of what people are doing and thinking. Some of the updates are really funny. Some of them provide valuable information. So I guess calling everything that doesn't fit into one of your little categories "pointless babble," Pear Analytics, just rubbed me the wrong way.

If I ever need something analyzed, you're the last people I'm gonna call.

It's a living, right?

There's a woman near my office who I see every morning on the way in and every evening on the way out, standing on the sidewalk, selling Street Sheets and doing her best to look pitiful, I guess, which is kind of tough because she is always clean, wearing nice clothes, and generally looks to me like she could have just stepped out of a minivan.

[Ed. note - in case you're not familiar, Street Sheet is a newspaper thing that anyone can go pick up for free and then sell on the street. It's designed, I think, to minimize the weirdness on both sides that can happen when you hand someone money, because if you're buying a Street Sheet it's a business transaction instead of simply giving money to someone.]

Now, I'm not saying that you have to be dirty and scabbed over to be a legit panhandler, but it does make one go "Huh" when you see the same person every day in the same spot, but wearing different clothes every day and generally looking not all that different from the person behind you in line at Out the Door.

So I wonder, what's up here? How did this become her best option? She's not there in the middle of the day, only during commute times, so I wonder what she does all day. Some kind of addict, maybe? She never appears to be intoxicated. She doesn't look mentally ill, either, and appears to be having pleasant and normal conversation with the people who stop and give her money. Hey, maybe it's just the job she's picked.

There are around 6400 homeless in San Francisco (according to a 2007 count, the most recent I could find after 35 seconds of Googling) and we spend, as a city, 190 million fucking dollars on the homeless every year, or almost 30 grand per homeless person. Something is seriously fucked up here, because it sure doesn't seem like we're getting our money's worth. I bet it costs a lot less than $30 K to put someone up in an SRO for a year. I know that a lot of the homeless are mentally ill, and a lot are addicts of one kind or another, but it seems like we could be doing something to address those problems instead of just throwing money at them.

Look, if I knew how to fix the homeless problem, I'd be elected mayor or maybe even Emperor Norton II. And what the woman on my way to work is doing is perfectly legal. I just can't figure out why people keep giving her money.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Let's get stalky with the San Francisco Giants

The Wife's birthday was last Wednesday, and as part of her ongoing birthday celebration, she asked for really good seats at a Giants game. I found some front-rowers, right behind the Giants' dugout, on StubHub. Paid about 20% over face, which doesn't seem ridiculous.

To give you an idea, this is what the end of every inning looked like for us (every inning Zito pitched, anyway):

Yeah, freaky, huh? We were like right on top of them.

Not sure who Freddy Sanchez was talking to here, but let's hope it involved either fish or how far out of the strike zone that pitch was.

The Wife has a little thing for Ryan Garko, I think because he sort of looks like Mark Ruffalo. Sorry for the sideways picture; she couldn't get him to turn around and look at her. I guess lifting your shirt doesn't have the same effect it used to. KIDDING.

Anyway, great game, beautiful day, Giants won 4-2. How fucking lucky am I to have a wife that asks for front row tickets to a baseball game for her birthday?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Lyric Deconstruction: Take the Money and Run

Steve Miller Band, 1976

This here's a story about Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue
Two young lovers with nothin' better to do
Than sit around the house, get high, and watch the tube
And here is what happened when they decided to cut loose

Oh, good, a story song! I like story songs. Now, the names "Billy Joe" and "Bobbie Sue" indicate to me that this story probably takes place in the South. You never hear a grownup with two names anywhere else. What if your orthopedic surgeon was named "Jimmy Ray"? Would that freak you out?

Also, who hasn't had that period in your life when all you did was sit around the house, get high, and watch TV? For me, it was called "college." KIDDING. Sort of.

They headed down to, ooh, old El Paso
That's where they ran into a great big hassle
Billy Joe shot a man while robbing his castle
Bobbie Sue took the money and run

Yeah, I knew it was going to be in the South somewhere. Although Texas isn't really the South. Texas is kind of its own thing. When I think "South," I think Alabama, not Texas.

Anyway, back to our story. WHOA, didn't see that coming! They're a crime team. "Hassle" is putting it mildly, isn't it?

Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run

Right, the chorus. Not much going on here lyrically.

Billy Mack is a detective down in Texas
You know he knows just exactly what the facts is
He ain't gonna let those two escape justice
He makes his livin' off of the people's taxes

A new character, Billy Mack! He knows "what the facts is"? Steve Miller, please. There's no real rhyme scheme at all in any verse in this song, so would it have killed you to say "what the facts are"?

I love the last line in this verse for a couple of reasons: (1) Steve obviously was trying to think of words that rhymed with "Texas," and you can just see that he went "Oh, taxes, yeah!" and then had to think of some way to make the word "taxes" work in the song, so (2) It's so wonderfully irrelevant. It's like Dirty Harry stopping in the middle of the movie and looking at the camera and saying "You know, it's your tax dollars that pay for necessary police services like the type I provide"; and (3) You have to think that if Steve wrote this in 1996 instead of 1976 it would be something like "He gets his secretary to send his faxes".

Bobbie Sue, whoa, whoa, she slipped away
Billy Joe caught up to her the very next day
They got the money, hey You know they got away
They headed down south and they're still running today

Slipped away from what? Steve left the best part of the story out of the song!! I guess we're supposed to imagine that Billy Mack caught up with them and there was some sort of confrontation, but that's the money shot! C'mon, Steve! That's like not ever seeing the shark in "Jaws," but just having a lot of people talk about how someone got eaten. Not the same effect.

Singin' go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run

I don't want to step on your songwriting or anything, Steve, but it's a little repetitive at this point.

UPDATE: In response to Burrito Justice's request, I have managed to locate the missing verse! Here it is:

Bobbie Sue put the money in derivatives
Sold exotic securities like chopped-up mortgages
Billy Mack lost the house where he used to live
Bobbie Sue took a bailout and run

Huh. So that's how they eluded Billy Mack. Weird.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Are you shitting me, Outside Lands festival?

There was no way I was going to go to the Outside Lands festival anyway, after hearing the horror stories from last year about the crowds and hour-long waits for beers and not being able to see anything. It sounded like a nightmare clusterfuck and I wouldn't have any part in it.

Then they announced this year's lineup, and it was so laughably bad that I thought "There's no way they could fuck this up any worse." The headliners were Pearl Jam, the Dave Matthews Band, and the Beastie Boys. Like, what the fuck is this, 1995?

(DISCLAIMER - Admittedly, some of the other acts on the bill I wouldn't mind seeing, like TV on the Radio, Deerhunter, M.I.A., and Calexico, but I'd much rather see all of them in a club or small venue somewhere.)

Oh, and you know who else is on the bill on Saturday, the night that fucking DMB is headlining? The BLACK EYED PEAS. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA YOU SUCK AT MUSIC OUTSIDE LANDS.

Anyway, then Adam Yauch from the Beastie Boys caught the cancer and they had to back out and so Outside Lands had to go find another headliner. Here's a chance to really score a great band and make the festival worth seeing, right?

Wrong. They booked Tenacious D.

Say what you will about Tenacious D's joke-rock. It's fine for what it is. What it ISN'T is something that's going to make people go "Oh wow, I totally have to go to Outside Lands now! Tenacious D! That's a festival headliner, for sure!"

I realize that summer's almost over and most artists are already booked and it's a last-minute thing, but c'mon.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Breithla Shona Dhuit!

29 years ago today, The Wife was born in a small, one-room cottage in Ireland, lit by a smoldering peat fire.

Or maybe she was born in a hospital; I'm not clear on this part.

Anyway, she was born an orphan and eked out a hardscrabble existence on the dirty, dangerous streets of Limerick, accompanied only by her dog, Brigadoon.

She was determined to make a better life for herself, and just like Leo DeCaprio in Titanic, she resolved to go to America to become a professional gambler in Las Vegas, or something. I don't really remember the plot. As far as I know, she never posed naked in a used car on the way.

She quickly found work in a garment factory on the Lower East Side. Or something like that. And then blah blah blah all kinds of other stuff happened and she made her way to the Greater Bay Area and that's where I came across her.

I was instantly charmed by her plucky, can-do spirit and radiant good looks. So I dumped that other chick like a bad habit and hooked up with her pronto. The rest is the story of our love, which will be written in the stars, etc.

ANYWAY, join me in wishing The Wife a happy birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, THE WIFE!!!

P.S. Title of the post is "Happy Birthday" in Gaelic, at least according to a refrigerator magnet, which is where I usually turn for my translating needs.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Guess what? There's a baseball game happening down there.

I'm sorry in advance if you're not interested in baseball, but this is baseball season and baseball is a metaphor for life and blahhdeddy blah blah it's just what's on my mind today and so that's it.

I know that a baseball game is an outdoor sporting event and I don't expect hushed, reverential, churchlike silence from those in attendance (although that would be pretty awesome), but for the love of God, can you just SHUT THE FUCK UP for two fucking consecutive minutes?

Yesterday The Wife and I are at Ye Olde Ballyarde watching the Giants surprisingly get some hits and beat the Phills 7-3 and it was a great game and nice weather and everything but there are these 2 chicks and 1 guy behind us (along with another guy who might have been a mute because never said a fucking word, God bless him) and they spent the whole game in an endless, loud, criminally boring conversation about the weather in San Jose this time of year and some kind of patent litigation (which is, if you know anything about law, maybe the MOST BORING kind of litigation at all, like basically Paint Drying, Inc. v. Grass Growing Ltd.) and all the LATEST JUICY GOSSIP from their old company, which gossip was not juicy at all but more along the lines of who got who's parking space JESUS just shoot me now.

So this kept up the WHOLE game. With brief pauses to breathe and whenever something exciting happened, which was not nearly enough. Finally some seats opened up a few rows down and we mercifully got the fuck out of there.

Listen, I know that it's a public space and it's nice to catch up with your friends or coworkers or whatever, but seriously, if your voice is loud and grating enough to be heard by everyone in a 10 foot radius, how about shutting your fucking trap once in a while, just in case people around you are maybe more interested in the game they came to see than in your inane musings on what kind of wedding your friend had, including your discomfort at the fact that she had two maids of honor. Personally, two maids of honor sounds a little excessive to me too, but I don't go around forcing other people to hear about it. Shut up.

Also - lots of Phillies fans there yesterday, but no problems between them and Giants fans, as far as I could see. You certainly see a lot more shit at Giants-A's games, mostly because there are people from Oakland there.

Also - How cute! Jon Carroll gets into the recycling poacher debate and shows mad love for the poachers, who he christens with the cutesy-poo title "gleaners" and says "Hey big deal, they're just scrappy underdogs trying to make it in this world. Let's all hold hands with the gleaners and sing songs to the Recycle Goddess and dance off into the meadow." My guess is that around Jon Carroll's house in the Oakland hills, "gleaners" don't show up outside his window at 1 am and start smashing bottles and flattening cans and then leaving the lids open so paper blows up and down the street.

Also - Christ, I sound angry today. I'm fine. Shit just gets to me is all.