16-Jan-2009 (Fri)
Wherein some jealous venting occurs.

Legal counsel advises that the best strategy for dealing with a bully is to curl up, cry, and beg him to stop kicking you. Oh, and don't tell mom.

I find this strategy... questionable.

However, I do pay him quite a lot of money to Know Things, so for now, instead of writing about the things that I actually care about and that actually matter (for example, the hell I've been going through for the last couple of months), instead I'll just share with you some inconsequential cattiness and jealousy.

Ok?

So you may have heard of this jazz club called Yoshi's. They've had a place on Fillmore for a year and a half or so. Well gosh, it turns out that they had kind of a hard time last year! Their business was a bit down from their expectations, you see, what with the recession and all. So the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency just gave them a $1.5 million "emergency" loan!

That's on top of the $6 million in loans they had already given them.

Back up. They were open for a year and a half. In that time they managed to burn through six million dollars. Then they came back to the City and said "Hey Buddy, can you spare another million and a half?"

I'm struggling for my life here, and my city government just gave another nightclub seven and a half million dollars.

Clearly I'm doing something wrong.

I don't really like to talk about how much money I've lost on this place, because frankly it's embarassing, but let's just say that in the ten years I've been sinking money into this hole, I have not even come close to what they accomplished in a year and a half.

On the one hand, maybe that means I'm better at this than I thought.

On the other hand, I spent my own money on it. And they also spent my money on it! And yours, dear taxpayer.

I did some rough math, and I think that for $7M, we could have been exactly where we are today except we could have had free admission for every event we've ever done over the last eight years.

So yeah, I'm just a little bitter and jealous. Just a little.

I try to avoid talking smack about other clubs, because nobody in this business has it easy, and we all need to work together. I've never been to Yoshi's, I don't know the owners, and I have nothing against them personally.

But come on. Where's my fucking bailout?

39 Responses:

  1. dr_memory says:

    That's actually fucking infuriating. I understand you not wanting to talk smack about a fellow club-owner, but what the fuck? This city has a murder arrest/solve rate that's barely into the double-digits, potholes that can eat entire cars, and the worst mass transit of any major american city bar L.A., and they can somehow afford to shovel $8M in "loans" that will never be repaid at a jazz club? Who the hell did they bribe, and how do we get in on that action?

    • kimberley66 says:

      I'm with you on this. . . . .Plowing through that much money in such short of time is unfathomable to me. . .I'd say poor management of funds, but what do I actually know. . .

      I'd rather have seen that money go to a local care or health center or even MUNI (which I use daily).

      shesh. . . .

    • romulusnr says:

      Hey, SF's transit is better than Seattle's, I'm sure.

      Oh, right. Seattle is only a major city in its fevered, shut-in imagination.

      • evan says:

        Acccording to the googs, Seattle has 2/3rds the population of SF.
        Having lived in each for multiple years, I can assure you Seattle has a far superior transit system.

        • sircyan says:

          While I don't usually like relying on Wikipedia as a sole source, this is an interesting little chart:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NorthAmericanPublicTransport.png

          According to that, transit is used in the SF bay area by over 10% of its residents. Seattle is well under that mark. The only American cities that beat out San Francisco are Washington DC and New York.

          Case in point: San Francisco at least has BART, inclusive of service out to the airport. Seattle just opened their LRT service a few years ago.

          • badc0ffee says:

            Seattle's LRT isn't open yet* (they do have commuter rail, like ACE). But they do have a fantastic bus system that could rival SF's... frequent service, sane routes, and quick service through downtown because of the tunnel.

            * Summer 2009: http://www.soundtransit.org/x1171.xml

            • sircyan says:

              Hm, I thought it was open already. I stand corrected.

              Seattle's bus service is pretty good, although nothing beats taking the BART to the airport. On the other hand, I never had the chance to take any MUNI buses when I was out in that area, so I only experienced the BART.

          • evan says:

            The BART is great but doesn't serve much of the city, mostly surrounding areas. That's a cool chart, thanks for the link.

    • gryazi says:

      Wow, Jesus, my sympathies, too.

      Dumb thought, but when you are freed up from Whatever The Hell is Going On, can you increase DNA's political-cultural standing by staging some sort of free-attendance NEA-grade event monthly and making sure the politicians get invites? Nothing fancy, find some hungry kids who want to put on some 'experimental theater' or something, donate profits from the bar *above overhead* to some [acceptable cultural charity], etc.

      Those events usually open with some speechifying, so it'd give you a soapbox to explain that you're not just some industrial dive blight on the city, that you actually had to put the rust on the staircases yourself, how damn hard it is to bring live music to SF these days -- yes, it might not be jazz, but it's still live music, check out these particularly good, not-too-rowdy, must-see acts coming next month -- and make your case to the people who might not understand what the kids are up to these days.

      [Completely unrelated: Wow, the LJ CAPTCHA system is f*d up right now, maybe because they're just integrating RECAPTCHA. It's showing me the auth key and there's another text form that doesn't do anything.]

      • gryazi says:

        [P.S.: To successfully post during this little under-construction hiatus, you have to paste the auth key revealed by solving the RECAPTCHA into the other mystery box. Classy!]

  2. unwoman says:

    Ah, but jazz music is culture.

    • jwz says:

      From the article: "We're still going to be doing jazz at Yoshi's San Francisco, but it won't be the main focus," said Kubeczko.

    • bifrosty2k says:

      I think the actual impetus to the loan is more likely racism than culture. Yoshi's has another club in Oakland anyways, so not like we'd be losing anything.

  3. moonwick says:

    Clearly the only rational solution is to pull a John Galt and get out of California.

  4. bifrosty2k says:

    Sue the City, thats my official position.
    The city obviously has too much money, you need some of your tax money back.

  5. mc_kingfish says:

    I am often greatly amused (read: annoyed) by the general public's understanding of money in the nightclub/show universe.

    I love everyone in the whole wide world (I really, really do) and this has nothing to do with people with legitimate guest-list requests, but when I get swamped by "bro hookup" emails asking for guest-list spots every month in the last 48 hours before a show --usually from people with no affiliation to Hubba Hubba, or the performer world, or the nightclubs, (other than maybe having gotten drunk at the same bar I was at 2 years ago) it's like, yes, thank you, I am a wealthy lunatic who throws these events just because I want to dispose of my fortune in the fastest way possible (aside from, you know, fire.)

    Note: in reality I am the opposite of wealthy (see: show business.)

    Really, can I walk into my mostly anonymous "bro's" job and just take anything I want? Or demand his services free of charge? Particularly if my "bro" is working day and night, 24-7, doing that job, and eating canned peas for dinner 'cuz he's so darn broke?

    Bro... C'mon... Hook me up, Bro!

    Grrrr...

    --Grumpfish

    • sparklydevil says:

      THANK YOU.

      WHAT GRUMPYFISH SAID.

      jesus christ what IS up with kids these days?

      --grumpydevil

      • mc_kingfish says:

        I think part of the problem is that people *assume* two things:

        1) EVERYONE else is paying to be there (I call this the "It's Just Me" Theory of the Universe... )

        2) The venue itself is rolling in millions of dollars of spare money and that they hand big giants bags of it to the showfolk.

        There's also a world of difference between having a dance night with 2 DJ's and virtually nobody else on the "payroll," and throwing an event with live bands, stage-crew, 30-40 performers, tech guys and gawd knows what else, all getting compensated out of the same bag of nickels collected at the door.

        Grrrr...

    • volkris says:

      It's not just showbiz, just about all small businesses face the same issue.

      The general public doesn't realize that it's hard to separate customers from their money. For some reason people in this world have the impression that every business is just rolling in money, handing a little of it to employees but generally existing only to charge customers out of spite.

      • dmose says:

        In particular, most organizations operate with amounts of money that are notably larger than most individuals deal with on a day-to-day basis. My suspicion is that people don't spending too much time thinking about the fact that organizations are typically trying to accomplish something that is quite different, and they focus more on the scale difference, and, in particular, that the value of a single ticket/product is a much smaller percentage of the organization's overall assets than it is of an individual's overall assets.

        • volkris says:

          I don't think the perception can be blamed on any one thing other than a simple (and perhaps unavoidable) lack of people out there who have actually tried to run a business and seen firsthand how hard it is.

          But that lack of disproof doesn't say why people adopt the mindset by default.

          I think the idea is supported by many things ranging from the constant shoddy reporting about businesses to political stump speeches from officials who stand to gain from the mindset.

          As you said, scale is also a huge problem. How many times have you heard news reports about a business having a billion dollars in revenue without context showing that expenses are also basically a billion dollars? So people tend to take that and assume all businesses, even the mom and pop store, are also awash in money.

          It really comes down to poor and misseducation of the population, unfortunately.

          • gryazi says:

            [Man, another weekend here in New England where I have nothing better to do than post on jwzlj.]

            All of the above is true; now consider that it reaches critical mass among the consumer hordes when the vast majority of participants in healthy businesses making healthy profits still see receive little practical feedback on their employer's profitability (or lack thereof) in their day-to-day workdays. The executive class will always be out buying solid-gold waterbeds, while most businesses that survive grow mechanisms to insulate employees from the balance sheet until it's bonus or layoff time.

            [Or, as I was trying to say here, a whole lot of participants in the American economy assume there's always a $1,000:$1 split between 'executive' and 'employee' compensation, and thus cash on hand to 'do the impossible,' if only it were reallocated.]

            The minority of people with even half a clue will still assume that any business operating out of a storefront is charging 50% margin; it's only an even smaller minority who will realize (or give a shit about) how much of that margin has to be sunk on staff and continuing operations.

            Fun fact: People who work in manufacturing (those blue-collar union yokels!) tend to have a better grip on this than desk jockeys. But decades of passive-aggressive stupidity in that sector proves that having a clue doesn't really count for anything, anyway, particularly if all that clue tells you is that the business shouldn't have survived long enough to be paying anyone a living wage in the first place.

  6. I bet your attorney in this matter would advise you to drink with your psychologist all weekend.

    • elusis says:

      See, I knew you didn't recommend increasing drinking AND isolation. Just the drinking.

      • I don't ever recommend drinking AND isolation. First of all, there's NO ONE to LAUGH at you when you fall down the stairs, and how fucking tragic is THAT?

        (What is the sound of one drunktard falling?)

  7. revglenn says:

    apply for one. your club has contributed more to the culture of the city than all the other 2 year long failures combined.
    i wouldn't mind my taxes going to that. if i lived in sf anyway. i don't think you'd actually get my taxes. just my booze money.

  8. mysterc says:

    Fuck Yoshi's.

    That shit they were playing there wasn't Jazz anyway. I hope Fillmore Slim walks into that place and pimp slap's the whole lot of em.

    You can't build a Jazz club in an old Fish market, it stinks up the joint.

  9. phreddiva says:

    It is with no small amount of bitterness that I have realized that people who have any modicum of personal responsibility get regularly fucked in the ass in this country.

  10. kyronfive says:

    I am sickened.

  11. Sadly, it's all about greasing the wheels isn't it?

    Makes me wonder what kind of grease they use.

  12. romulusnr says:

    Have you gone to the SFRA yourself and begged for money?

    (Or played golf with a councilman, or whatever the fuck it takes to get bureaucrats to care about you?)

    • gryazi says:

      Per my giant suggestion-post above:

      Look at it this way, when PBS here on the right coast (WNET 13, Manhattan) wants to beg for money, they put on reruns of Pink Floyd concerts. Or these days, Pink Floyd impersonators. (Well, that's during the summers and falls; this month they've been going through some actually-entirely-stunning reunions of doo-wop acts.)

      I know California (and SF in particular) has a reputation for being Even Weirder than New York, but at this point in history people have got to be prepared to accept avant-garde stuff as "art." So I imagine they just want to see that you consider what you're doing "art" and have some sort of higher motive than just getting people drunk and counting money. Or even for people who are money-grubbing assholes, they [the 'cultural establishment'] just need to see that they're their kind of money-grubbing assholes.

  13. ammonoid says:

    I think clearly they are shoving at least part of that money up their nose in the form of white powder.