Well, that's it, we're closed until the end of the month.

Here's a depressing photo:

That is what a bar looks like when it is not a bar. I haven't actually seen that mirror in nine and a half years, because there are always hundreds of bottles in front of it.

During our downtime, we'll be doing a lot of repairs. Most of it probably won't be anything you'll notice. There will be a lot of general maintenance of the sort that we do continuously, but we'll be catching up and doing a bunch of it at once. There are a few areas where the downtime will be marginally helpful (for example, we'll be able to give the floor a thorough painting and give it plenty of time to dry) but mostly it will be work that we could have done any time. But we're doing it this month because that at least gives a few of our employees the opportunity to clock in and book some hours so that they don't all have to go file for unemployment right after the holidays.

Let's not forget that the ABC prohibitionists are not just screwing over us small business owners, and generally trying to destroy San Francisco's entertainment economy, they're also directly screwing over everyone who works here. Your tax dollars, hard at work.

I will end up needing to write a personal check to cover all of those salaries and repair materials, because that's what happens when you find yourself doing a bunch of repairs during a month when you have no income at all, but still have insurance, taxes, and rent to pay. Good times. Good times indeed.

Anyway. Some photos are up of Bootie's "Capricornukkah" party last week.

I haven't done one of these long construction-update posts in almost nine years... and you know, I didn't expect to be doing one again at all, because I never expected us to be closed for enough consecutive days for it to happen. (Awesome.)

Well, repairs are in full swing this month. There is a great deal of cutting of wood going on here, and a constant haze of plywood dust. It's just like old times.

And patching. So much patching. Look at the edges of that worn spot in the photo below. That's really a lot of layers of paint. Too many to sand off, so instead we're spackling, spackling, and then spackling some more, before re-painting the floors again. Normally we have to re-paint the main dance floor about every six weeks. Hopefully after this, it will last a bit longer.

It turns out that a more "real" repair job, e.g., tearing up the top layer of plywood and replacing it, would been so much more expensive that it's cheaper to just re-paint constantly.

I'm not entirely clear on what this dingus to the right is, but it's kind of cool. I suspect it's a left-over piece from the unused fourth station at the main bar, which we have just replaced with a cabinet.

Originally, way back when, we had planned on being able to have four bartenders at the main bar, but then after the bar had been built, we realized that for soundproofing reasons, we had to build a sound-dampening wall in front of the south door, which means that the main stairs had to turn instead of going straight down toward the door. That made the rightmost bar station basically unusable: anyone trying to stand there for service would be blocking the exit.

(Looking back, I see that I haven't really told the full story of the world of shit we nearly found ourselves in when we had to turn those stairs. Oh, man. We very nearly had to tear part of the balcony down and start over. It was a disaster, that was nearly an apocalyptically epic disaster. But it's a long story. Some other time.)

So anyway, that sink has been full of haphazardly-stored plastic cups ever since. Finally we've re-claimed that space with real shelves.

Check it out, it's a CØDE flyer! This is underneath one of the benches in the corner of the balcony. We're having some of the benches re-upholstered, which means that we've looked underneath them for the first time since... some time before 2002, I guess.

Did you know that 75% of household dust is human skin, and most of the rest is human hair and dust-mite poop?

Pretty sweet, huh? You're welcome.

Long ago, someone had punched a big hole into this wall in the lounge, and we hid that with the time-honored technique of hanging posters over the hole. Finally it is fixed. It hasn't been painted yet, but I think the minions did a great job of matching the texture!

Since we first opened, my standing instruction has been, "When you patch a hole in drywall, do so by replacing it with plywood." The next time someone punches this wall, they will remember it.

The green room (the smaller room to the right of the lounge) is looking pretty respectable right now. It's all patched, painted and basically done, making it the only place in the club that isn't currently coated in construction detritus. Devon says that this is his "happy place."

That's him being happy.

To the right is pictured the spot at the bottom of the backstage stairs where normally the ladders and dumpster live. Or, more accurately, lurk.

Just beyond these windows, you can see that same brick wall that is visible through the windows in the lounge. That wall is part of the Department of Human Services building around the corner. We think that our back windows were bricked over in 1953.

I suspect that these particular windows have been broken since 1985.

The hidden nooks and crannies of this place are just spilling over with character, let me tell you. Character in great, heaping fistfuls.

What are you are seeing in this photo is one of our new wifi routers. We used to have just one wifi access point, but I picked up a set of used Cisco Aironet 1230B access points on eBay for like $15 each, so now we have five of them spread around the club. We put them pretty much where the old kiosk stations had been, which seems strangely appropriate.

It turns out that a single access point (of any vintage) can only really handle 20 to 25 connections; it's a frequency/bandwidth thing, not a CPU thing. More connections than that, and you get too many IP packet collisions, and nobody gets anywhere. So really what you want is a bunch of access points with small range, rather than one access point with long range. So these all have their power cranked down enough that their cells just slightly overlap with each other. They all have the same SSID and bridge to the kiosk network, so your phone or laptop should be able to lock on to the closest one as you move around the building. That's the theory, anyway.

And finally --

Yeah. It's kind of like that.



15-Jan-2010 (Fri)
Wherein we watch paint dry.

I hope you've all been watching the webcast tonight! It's not often that you get to actually watch paint dry.

So much paint.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to assure you that what you are about to see is not true. It is an optical illusion. A mass hallucination. Swamp gas from a weather balloon was trapped in a thermal pocket and refracted the light from Venus.

I wrote about the nine-plus year Curse of the Sign almost exactly a year ago, and shortly after that, I was contacted by one Matthew Borgatti who apparently fears the wrath of no gypsy. The Curse took its toll on him by causing his plasma cutter to break as soon as he agreed to take on the project, but six months later, to the shock and disbelief of all involved, we had a sign! All that remained was to get the permits and actually hang in on the building.

Right.

In the fullness of time, we got the permits, but what remained was finding a contractor willing to bolt the thing to the building. It was somewhat important to have an actual contractor do this, rather than just some guy with a drill, so that if the sign falls down it's a matter for the contractor's insurance and not ours.

Well. We went through three different contractors who all said some variant of, "I didn't make that sign, so I'm not going to guarantee that it won't fall apart. But I'll tell you what I will do, I'll throw your sign away and make you a brand new sign at only 10× the price you've already paid, how does that sound?"

But! Finally, we found a contractor who said, "Nah, that's sign is fine" and put it up, insured and everything. There was some more comedy involved in getting Sign Guy #3 to stop holding our sign hostage and actually allow Sign Guy #4 to walk off with it, but Holy Fucking Shit, Houston. DNA Lounge Has Sign On Building, Over. And Matthew deserves much of the credit, not only for actually constructing the sign, but for tracking down all the people who were willing to even entertain the possiblity of bolting it to the wall.

I'm stunned, frankly.

Fear not, though, that other sign will be going back up for the remainder of this month during which our orifices are being forcibly distended.

How was your New Year's Eve? Let me tell you about ours.

As you know, the various nightclubs around town have been getting quite a bit of unwanted attention these days. Beyond the ABC issues DNA has been fighting for the past two-plus years (wow, it really has been going on that long!) many other local clubs have been being harassed by ABC and SFPD recently. It was obvious that those on the wrong side of the War on Fun would be engaging in something of a crackdown on New Year's Eve.

To prepare for this, we went out of our way to try and keep people away on NYE. We sold pre-sale tickets only, and we sold them for a higher price than usual. We figured that the price would scare people off, and the "pre-sale only" would mean that we wouldn't have a huge line of people out front hoping to get in. Our thinking was that it was probably better to have fewer people than to have the cops find some trumped-up reason to make us shut down early, or turn people away. I'm not sure that was the right trade-off to make, but it's what we did.

At around 12:45 AM, Officers Bertrand and Ott pulled up in front of the club. You remember Officer Bertrand, back in November I posted some excerpts from the SF Bay Guardian and SF Weekly articles about SFPD seizing laptops when shutting down private house parties.

(The fact that I posted quotes from the newspaper articles about him resulted in Bertrand introducing himself to the DNA Lounge front door staff by saying, "I'm the one your boss keeps writing about. You'll be seeing a lot more of me." I wonder if he dropped by the Guardian and Weekly offices to make the same introduction. I'm guessing not.)

Anyway, Bertrand is SFPD and Ott is ABC. They say that they are the "nightclub detail" for Captain McDonough of Southern Station. These folks are a part of the hardline anti-nightlife contingent led by Commander Dudley. I've written about Dudley a couple of times before. Dudley is, you will recall, the guy who made the outrageous claim that any possible economic benefit brought to San Francisco by having nightclubs at all is outweighed by the cost of policing them.

So, Bertrand and Ott showed up at DNA a bit after midnight, stood around for a while glaring at people, and after some time, approached our staff and began barking at them to keep the street and sidewalk clear.

Now, at this point, there were maybe 30 people outside, either standing around smoking, or trying to hail taxis. This is not what you would call a big crowd on any random weeknight, let alone New Year's Eve. In fact, your reaction to this probably would have been, "You're joking, right?" Nevertheless, our staff started corralling the people, asking them to stand against the wall while smoking and to stand on the curb while hailing cabs.

Barry was the manager that night, and a few minutes later Bertrand asked for his ID so that he could write him a ticket! Barry asked what it was for, and Bertrand said he was "being cited under section 1060.1 MPC, violating the Good Neighbor Policy". Barry asked for clarification and Bertrand stared at the ground, sighed, and then said, "You need to keep the sidewalk clear." You may notice that that's not technically an answer to the question, so we still don't really know what this citation is for, but Barry has a date in court on Feb 2 to find out.

It was pretty clear to everyone who was there that they had decided to cite us for something even before they got out of the car, so I guess this was the best they could come up with. This is relatively minor compared to the kind of abuse that Bertrand and Ott have been heaping on to other venues in town recently, so I guess we were "lucky"? At least they didn't physically assault anyone.

So, in summary: we intentionally shot ourself in the foot financially on New Year's Eve solely to stay off the cops' radar that night; and we got a court date out of it anyway.

Good times.

The repairs are pretty much finished at this point. Lots of sanding, painting, patching, more painting, and more patching. Now, we pretty much sit on our hands for a week before we let you miscreants back in to mess it all up again.

Most of the benches are re-upholstered, and all of the carpet has been replaced in the corner booths and entry halls:

We have a curtain behind the stage now. It's a subtle change, but I think it really reads much more as a "stage" than it did with just a flat black wall. Eventually we're also going to put some sound foam behind the curtain to help with audio reflections, which should make the room a little easier to mix.

The concrete at the back door is repaired, and it has a sexy new steel nose, to hopefully keep it intact for longer in the future as road cases and various other heavy things bang it (for example, your mom):

And something good has come of our recent miserable weather: the last week of nearly-continuous rain has already given our new sign exactly the kind of character that I had been hoping for!

There have been a few minor disagreements we still need to resolve, unfortuantely. For example, our plumber didn't quite understand what the minimum acceptable percentage of attempts to flush a toilet should result in an actual flush (my opinion being "100%") and our bar staff didn't quite understand what percentage of the surfaces behind the bars should be clean (again, I'm gonna go with "100%"). But the beatings will continue until hygiene improves.

Ladies and Gentlemen, direct from abc.ca.gov:

ABC Receives Award as "Law Enforcement Agency of the Year"
Neighborhood Market Association also Honors the ABC Director

The California ABC has been named "Law Enforcement Agency of the Year" by the Neighborhood Market Association, a coalition of over 2000 small businesses located in California, Nevada and Arizona. The Association also recognized ABC Director Steve Hardy as the "Law Enforcement Agent of the Year."

The Neighborhood Market Association (NMA) presented the awards to Director Hardy on Friday, January 22, 2010 because of efforts by the ABC staff and Hardy's individual efforts to assist small businesses in California. [...]

The award was given at the NMA banquet at the Town and Country Hotel in Mission Valley (San Diego). A video that included an interview with Director Hardy was shown. This year's banquet theme was "We Are the World: Serving the Communities We Do Business In."

I must say, as a small business owner, I feel "fortunate" and "assisted" by this agency and this director. "Assisted" good and hard.

I guess I'll have to stop referring to them as prohibitionist homophobes and start referring to them as award-winning prohibitionist homophobes.

Their "assistance" has given us the "opportunity" to do some repairs and remodeling during the last 25 days, and we will be re-opening tomorrow night. Perhaps you have heard? Our re-opening will feature the dulcet tones of Saint Vitus, a musical group performing compositions in the genre of "doom metal".

I don't know about you, but I plan on having a tasty beverage or two.

We've still got boxes of these fucking "Save DNA" t-shirts. Buy them so we don't have to throw them away, ok? These things have a shelf-life are soon to be collectors' items!

Photos of our first event after the end of our suspension, which was also our first live show of 2010, are up now: the sold out Saint Vitus + Saviours + Laudanum + Dusted Angel show.

A packed house with bands on stage was a great way to start the year!

Saint Vitus was also, I think, the 900th band to perform on our stage since my tenure here began in 2001.

Today: Battle of the Bands. Tomorrow: Death Guild.