Friday, May 27, 2016

Music Friday: The Birth of Music Friday

Hey everyone, welcome to Music Friday, a new feature here where you can take advantage of integrated social network posting to reach job seekers on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.  Oh wait, no, that's not right. That's someone else.  Actually this is a new feature where I will talk about music every Friday.  You know what they say, it mix the bourgeoisie and the rebel.  So let's go.

Recently Spotify Discover Weekly (more about which below) served me up something surprising and cool.  Now, if I said to you "how about a reggae cover of a Radiohead song" you'd probably say something like "they don't make weed big enough" or "can you reload for me I accidentally fired that one off the side of my head" but BELIEVE IT OR NOT this cover of "Let Down" by Toots & the Maytalls (under the Easy Star All Stars aegis) is actually pretty great.

It's not just me! According to reliable sources like their marketing agency, "Thom Yorke, 'in a rare moment of onstage chatter' according to USA Today, praised Toots and the Maytals' version of 'Let Down,' while Yorke's bandmate, guitarist Jonny Greenwood, calls it 'truly astounding.'"  Listen for yourself; I think it's pretty great, and I'm the kind of person who would normally break out in hives at the phrase "reggae cover."

(Why did SDW serve up this odd choice to me?  Probably because I listened to some Radiohead. Did I listen to some reggae at some point?  I don't think so, but BLACKOUTS HAPPEN!!!!)

Turning to matters more conventional, as you know, I love Sturgill Simpson a lot, which is to say more than other modern country music and less than beer.  I didn't love his latest album, "A Sailor's Guide to Earth" as much as his prior 2 albums, but it's still better than a lot of things.  Anyway, Sturgill did a WTF podcast with Marc Maron and it's illuminating and fascinating, not just because I'm a fan of the artist but also because he's just had an interesting life, going from rural Kentucky to the Navy to working for the railroad in Utah and other country-music-type-stuff.  Worth a listen.

(That being said, I might be heretical here but I don't really care for Marc Maron's interviewing style, which often seems to be Marc Maron talking about Marc Maron while the guest patiently listens.  He's like a rougher, recovering alcoholic Terry Gross.)

Listening to that led me to the catalog of Jason Isbell, an artist I have tried out once or twice but never really followed up on but then hearing Sturgill talk about him like he was God I went back and checked some stuff out again.  HOLY SHIT, I should have paid more attention the first time.  This blew me away:

Trigger warning, don't listen to this if anyone you know has ever died, or if you're a person on the Earth.  It is fucking DEVASTATING.

I promise I don't exclusively listen to reggae covers and morose alt-country!  While recently listening to someone's show on BFF.FM, the Only Station That Matters, I happened to hear Warm Soda's "Tell Me in a Whisper."  What a fun song!

Cool, huh? Wait, was there something else? Oh yeah, Spotify Discover Weekly, the service where Spotify serves you a playlist specifically tailored to what you might like.  Or should like.  Unlike every other one of these type things, Spotify Discover Weekly actually prodcues results.  It's magical!  Here's a great article about how they do it.

Finally, I really want to go to the Saturday set at FYF Fest in LA.  Seriously, check out this lineup:

Unfortunately, it's sold out.  Maybe I'll be the tenth caller or something, who knows.

If you go see Brian Jonestown Massacre this weekend, CONGRATULATIONS! You're probably older than me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

This Dolores Park fee thing smells like some bullshit, even if it's somehow not

What are we outraged about today?  Why, the Rec and Parks Department renting chunks of Dolores Park, the beloved humanity hive in Mission Park.  Patient Zero for Today's Rage appears to be SFist:

This should end well. A two-month pilot program from the Recreation and Parks Department now allows people to reserve sections of Dolores Park for periods of at least seven hours. And no, not the picnic table areas (which you've always been able to reserve), but just straight up sections of grass near Hipster Hill/Fixie Flats. What's more, on weekends Rec and Parks plans on having staff on site to enforce the reservations — so you better not sit in someone's spot.
Yes, it costs money. And yes, the primary way to book the spots is online. The new practice of course calls to mind the infamous Soccer Field War of 2014 in which longtime, Mission-born players ran up against a new reservation system being used by recent transplants and tech employees, ultimately causing neighborhood kids to get kicked off what they saw as their own fields.
According to the Rec and Parks website, in order to reserve your own little piece of Dolores heaven, now all you have to do is apply and pay the fee of $33 to $260 (depending on group size, and not including the $200 security deposit). "All requests for Mission Dolores must complete an online Picnic Application," the site explains.

The predictable Blinding Rage Kabuki followed: (1) Rage Trigger; (2) Angry Twitter; (3) Wait, this isn't a big deal; (4) My dumb opinion.

Number three took the form of tweets like this:

Well, sure. Everyone knows you can rent picnic areas (which is basically a picnic table or two and a grill that has been used so much it looks like it was dipped in molten iron and then hastily left to dry, or maybe Forged in the Fires of the Ur-Griller Carbo.  I was at such an event last Saturday in Golden Gate Park, even!  Some people even know you can rent the picnic areas in Dolores Park.

But this seems different.  We're not talking about a clearly delineated area like a picnic table.  No, this is just an imaginary square in the middle of the grass.

See that "NW-A"?  Unfortunately, it's not a set-aside area for performances by the legendary Compton ensemble.  It's picnic area A, and I guess if you rent it you have the right to control who shall enter and stay upon your private grasstangle.  You better get some velvet ropes and a big fucking bouncer, because based on how crowded Dolores Park gets on weekends, keeping the Undesirable and the Uninvited out of your Rented Piece of Paradise is going to be a Grade A Bitch.

So Rec & Parks' position is basically "Nothing new here, it's always been this way, we have always been at war with Eastasia," but I've been going to parks for a long time and I have never seen any square of grass that someone was claiming squatters rights on and telling me not to sit there because they had a fucking permit.

The problem OF COURSE like everything else in Our Garbage City is bigger than just this latest flap.  It's about the Public Good being sold off for Private Use and it's just another chapter in the Dropbox Soccer Bros tale of the newly arrived wealthy and entitled kicking the rest of us off of public facilities that we've been paying for a lot longer than they have.  RESENTMENT SELLS and gets clicks to boot.

So I don't know, maybe Rec and Parks really has been selling imaginary sections of the park off for daily use since Time Immemorial and we've just never noticed because we've never accidentally trod onto someone's private square of park, but the whole thing seems fishy as hell.

(All that being said, I still don't get why people shove themselves into every square inch of Dolores Park whil,e acres of other parks sit empty.  Convenience, I guess.  Still.)

UPDATE!!!!!!: It's over.  They're not doing it.  You can reserve the picnic tables, but the Grasstangles 2016 is dead.  RIP grasstangles.

(POSTSCRIPT: I know my assignment today was Day 2 of Computer Generated Week of Blogging, specifically "14 Common Misconceptions About Booze," so just repeat to yourself "alcohol is universally good or bad" 14 times.)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Computer-Generated Week of Blogging, Day 1: Take This Inane Quiz!

Thanks to this tweet by Twitterer Julie Polito:

I learned there is something called "Hubspot" and that it can generate Great Blogging Ideas presumably designed to Engage My Core Audience and Develop Quality Content that will Drive Marketing Success and Engagement.  I haven't been blogging as much lately what with the Kid and also being a regular person taking up so much of my time so WHAT THE HELL I figured, Hubspot, give me some Fresh and Dynamic Content ideas.

I typed in three nouns that interested me and Hubspot gave me a veritable cornucopia of potential content:

Just for me!  OK, Hubspot, your wish is my command.  Let's start today with #1!


Please answer "True" or "False" to the following 14 questions!!!

1. I spent junior year abroad in Spain so let me tell you how inauthentic these tapas are.

2. Things were better in another time that isn't now.

3. There is a stick that protrudes perpendicularly from the right side of my steering column. I have no idea why it's there or what it does.

4. I sometimes takes quizzes with titles like "Think You're Cut Out for Doing San Francisco? Take This Quiz"

5. I think it's a pretty good idea to open a ping pong bar that cost 5 million dollars.

6. I like dogs.


8. I'm special too.

9. I could pay $4,000 for a one-bedroom apartment but a $15 cab fare halfway across town is ridiculous.

10. I moved here from Different City. It's different here. Let me tell you about it, based on my barely informed perceptions after being here for 6 months and some commonly held if not necessarily true beliefs.

11. I wear hoodies all the time, unlike in other cities.

12. I believe that all these new people are destroying the city so I sold my house for $3,000,000 and moved to Denver.

13. I have seen people less fortunate than myself and was able to come to terms with the fact that they are human beings too.

14. There aren't enough bubble tea shops anywhere.

If you answered TRUE to even one of these questions, CONGRATULATIONS!!  You are cut out for doing San Francisco.

Monday, May 9, 2016

You should have brunch at La Urbana

When La Urbana, the sleek and expensive-looking fancy Mexican restaurant was going in on Divisadero, I have to confess I was predisposed not to like it.  A, I'm kind of an asshole and not above judging places without knowing anything about them and B, it seemed like the most conspicuous symbol of the Divis Corridor's transformation from a regular SF neighborhood with a 5-and-10 store, a pretty good Thai restaurant, an agreeable neighborhood bar, an auto repair shop, and so on, into Valencia II: Son of Fleece Vest, and that kinda bummed me out. But then it was Mother's Day and that's the hardest day of the year to score a brunch res for and they had availability and one thing led to another and we brunched at La Urbana yesterday.

I am so sorry I thought those mean things about you, La Urbana.  That brunch was fucking great.

FIRST OF ALL it was Mother's Day and they were handing out free champagne.  Maybe just to Moms?  I had a Mom with me - not mine, God forbid, but the mom of my child - and she didn't want hers and they seemed cool with just giving it to me instead.  I'm not 100% sure if they'll be giving out free champagne next weekend but I guess you can ask.

One of the things on the brunch menu is tortillas and avocado.  It's an appetizer I guess and it costs $4.  ORDER THIS.  These tortillas are dreamy and tasty and soft and melt in your mouth and why have I been eating those corn-flavored discs all these years.

L-R: Kid's plate, mid-avocado destruction, Strawberry Drink, aforementioned avocado, the Ur-tortillas, few strands of Wife's hair.

Also in this picture: a shot glass with some kind of strawberry liquid that you get as an amuse bouche.  My kid held it up to me and said "THIS IS STRAWBERRY DRINK!"  She then ate an entire half of an avocado.  (She pronounces it "abogado" which means "lawyer" in Spanish and will no doubt lead to a hilarious Three's Company-style misunderstanding if she's in Mexico in the next year or so and asks for an attorney.)

I got the Frijoles Puercos - pork & beans, essentially - with a big house-made chorizo link that was fantastic and some volcanically spicy refried beans and excellent scrambled eggs sprinkled with cotija,  Also some chipotle salsa that mostly avoided because I was burning up from the beans.  Delicious.  Wife got chilaquiles but she wasn't feeling 100% and so wasn't totally into them.  They looked great, though.

One of the problems brunch enthusiasts such as myself face is that most places have the same things.  There's a benedict, that's an omelet, here's a scramble.  That's wonderful and I love all that stuff but just finding something that feels DIFFERENT is nice.

I want to go back and get the carne asada hash next time.  Jesus that sounds good.

Total bill before tip was like $46 which is pretty good for 3 people for brunch in this town.  Of course, the booze was free and so if you're normal let's say $100.

One small complaint: I know you're a sleekly modern and grown-up City Restaurant, but you could throw together a kid's menu of some kind for brunch.  We ended up ordering kid an order of scrambled eggs and it was fine but there were a LOT of kids there and it's always nice to see 3 or 4 things that are kid-sized.  Just a thought.