Categories for your consideration:
- Best Takeout: DNA Pizza
- Best Pizza: DNA Pizza
- Best Overall Bar: DNA Lounge
- Best Dance Company: Hubba Hubba Revue
- Best Theatre Company: Hubba Hubba Revue
- Best Performance Venue: DNA Lounge
- Best Live Music Venue: DNA Lounge
- Best Nightclub: DNA Lounge
- Best Dance Party: So Stoked, Harder Better Faster Stronger, Turbo Drive, Wasted, Death Guild...
- Best Burlesque: Hubba Hubba Revue
Well, that took two weeks, but we have toilets again. It took a while to find a plumber who was both willing and able to do the work, since this involved quite a lot of excavation. To speed things up we even did a bunch of work in parallel, starting the process of getting permits and approvals on our own before having the contractor. When you need to get those "call before you dig" summoning glyphs drawn onto you sidewalk there are like six different city departments who have to come out and cast the runes. Then the contractor says, "Oh, you're excavating a sidewalk and that sidewalk is a bus stop? Ohhhhhh.... Hmmmmmm... Dealing with MUNI is a whole other thing..."
Pictured here are the wards and summoning grids, or at least the first batch of them. I think more may have been added after this photo was taken. If anyone can translate those, I'd be curious to know what they say.
Since everything in our neighborhood is built on top of sand and the burned lumber of earlier civilizations, excavating anything is a challenge; you need to shore up the sides or the sand just spills right out.
"Well there's your problem right there..." this is the "lateral" that was supposed to be connected to the sewer. And once they dug that out, they discovered that the pipe further upstream was also full of leaks, meaning much of it was squirting out into the sand rather than going into the sewer, which aside from being gross, means the pressure is reduced, making clogs more likely.
So that meant they had to extend the hole (tunnel, really) all the way to the front wall of the building. So now something like 6'x6'x10' (360 cubic feet) of sand and dirt had to come out, and then go back in. "Son, what's your dirt doing in Boss's hole? Well git it out!"
This vertical pipe is the new sidewalk-accessible clean-out port that connects near where our 6" lateral meets the 36" sewer. This is where you insert the power snake when the floor drains start poopin'. It's closer to the curb than the old one, which was right in the middle of the sidewalk. It was there because that had been the curb line back before our sidewalk was widened from 6' to 12' back in 2016.
Aside from the fact that the lateral was leaking into the sand and turning to dust, the contractors also described that old pipe as "a Mikey Mouse crazy-straw". Apparently the various and sundry history of work on this line had resulted in it having a bunch of unnecessary 45° and 90° turns in it, with the obvious impact on clogs and snake-ability. So they straighted that out while they were at it, to make it more of a poop slip-n-slide and less of a poop obstacle course.
Anyway, this latest surprise disaster cost us somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000. And it's not like we had the option of saying, "Nah, that's too much, let's just not have toilets." Won't you consider a donation to the DNA Lounge Adopt-a-Sewer program? We thank you for your support and Poseidon thanks you for your tribute.
It's time for this blog to get back to its core competency: complaining about plumbing disasters!
Last weekend we had a minor sewer backup, but we snaked it out via the clean-out port on the sidewalk and things seemed to be going ok. But on Friday afternoon, things were going very much not ok. Nearly complete blockage, which means almost no drainage from anything on the "Main Room" side of the building: no bathrooms! No amount of snaking made a difference. Panic and horror.
Our theory was that the connection between our main drain and the sewer had finally failed, as our various plumbers have been giving that the side-eye for several years now. It was looking very much like "time to jackhammer the sidewalk". We called the City, who wouldn't commit to a date more firm than "maybe Monday".
So... we rented four porta-potties and a handwash station. Inside Lands! All of the grossness of attending a festival without having to be around trees!
The city folks did show up on Friday evening, though, and told us that the part of the pipe that had turned to dust was on our side of the junction, not theirs, and so -- congratulations -- it was our problem, have a nice night.
This is beyond the scope of what your average plumber is prepared for, and also, this is a "call before you dig" situation, since the street is riddled with gas lines, so even once we find a plumber-slash-demolitions-expert who can do the work, they can't do anything until a different city crew shows up and spraypaints things with "cut here, not there".
Fortunately the DNA Pizza building is on a different drain system, due to them originally being separate properties, so the restaurant and Above DNA restrooms still work. But that's only 4 toilets for the whole building, so that's not ideal. But unsurprisingly, many people were happier waiting in line there than using the porta-potties.
I'd recommend you switch from beer to shots, you'll have to pee less. And never drink water. Fish fuck in it.
I think this photo from 2000 shows the inside portion of the "lateral" that connects us to the sewer. It's the deeper one.
You will be excited to learn that there is an interactive map of the San Francisco Sewer Collection System which looks exactly like the sort of thing you'd see on a heist show, where the hacker in the van pulls this up and dramatically intones, "I'M IN". What they never say, though, is, "Give me a minute, the site is kind of slow, SFPUC doesn't have much of an IT budget." But from this map we can see that the DNA Lounge drain is "Lateral Service Connection L-157660, 6" diameter" (Pizza being L-157390), and the destination is "Eleventh Street Main Sewer P-98524, 36" diameter". It feeds south to "Harrison Street Main Sewer P-76719, 7' diameter", installed 1911.
The map says that the DNA lateral was installed in 1998 and the sewer in 1997, but that cannot be true. I'm reasonably certain that they were not digging up the sidewalk here in 1998. We didn't do our plumbing excavation until 2000, and that all stayed inside the building: we did not open the sidewalk. So that's a bit of a mystery.
The Eleventh Street Main Sewer feeds into the Mission & Fourth Street Tunnel P-98155, 8', installed in 1972, and thence to the "Transport / Storage Boxes" under The Embarcadero. These are vast, 35' tall, miles long cisterns (photos here!) that serve as buffers in case of high flow from rainfall, and in storms will let the sewers vent directly into the Bay (after "slight decantment") instead of backing up into your kitchen. This is necessary because San Francisco has a single system instead of separate sewers and storm drains, as in most other cities. As far as I can tell, the reason for that is "it seemed like a good idea during the Barbary Coast days, and it would cost billions to change now, so yolo."
The arrows on the interactive map aren't very clear on this next part, but my understanding from the SFPUC site is that the next step of the journey depends on whether it's raining. Normally everything flows from the Transport / Storage Boxes to the Southeast Treatment Plant which vents into the Bay ("Outfall") via Islais Creek, but sometimes it is also allowed to flow to the North Point Wet Weather Treatment Facility, which vents along Piers 33 and 35.
(Points West instead use the Oceanside Facility near Lake Merced. SF has two "sewersheds" that divide the city roughly in half vertically, which is why there are only two graphs on the COVID-19 Wastewater Surveillance Network.)
I'm not sure when the (extremely scenic) Mission Creek Channel Pump Station comes into play.
Anyway, let this be a lesson to you: the movies have lied to you. Only the Harrison Street sewer widens enough for a dirtbike, and even then only barely. Most of these sewers could not fit an alligator of any distinction. It's the Transport / Storage Boxes where the real action is.
For a detailed description of the SF sewer system, including its history going back to 1899, check out the San Francisco Sewer System Master Plan, 2010. I also enjoyed skimming SFPUC's Sewer System Emergency Response Plan. It's full of flowcharts and checklists, worksheets for computing overflow volume, and pictures of their awesomely-named drill bits: "Select appropriate nozzle for breaking a stoppage. This would be either a Pipe Wolf (6"-15"), Tadpole/Polywog with penetrator (18"-24"), Warthog or Bulldog with penetrator." (And if you're into that kind of thing, you may also enjoy the FDNY Forcible Entry Reference Guide, or "Care and Feeding of your Halligan Tool".)
I love this stuff because we are extremely focused on checklists to keep this place running, and it's fun to see how other organizations do it. The title of the DNA Lounge employee handbook is literally "Checklists Get Shit Done". 72 point type, right on the cover.
In conclusion: I have no idea how expensive this shit is going to be, so please contribute to our Patreon, AKA the DNA Lounge Adopt-a-Sewer program.
We're down to the last couple dozen DNA Lounge die-cut foil laptop stickers, and there is no longer anyone on the planet capable of manufacturing these, so get them before they are gone...
You may recall that I spent years trying to source these. These stickers are designed to go over the glowing Apple logo on your laptop: the DNA logo lights up with no "Ghost Apple" as with other stickers.
But, that source has now dried up. And also, Apple stopped making their laptop logos light up in 2017, so maybe it doesn't matter any more.
Anyway, let's clear out some product, ok?
Update: Wow, that didn't take long! They're all gone now, thank you very much. And because we've cleared those out, I've put out new foil stickers on sale. These are solid (no cut-out) and come in both brushed metal and rainbow holographic:
Also I've added a couple of merch packs in case you're feeling too much Freedom of Choice.
And please join us for this weekend's events:
State Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblymember Matt Haney introduced Senate Bill 930 at a briefing on Friday. The measure would allow seven pilot cities across the state to extend alcohol sales at bars, nightclubs and restaurants from 2 a.m. to as late as 4 a.m. [...]
"We've lost so many historic venues and bars, it is going to take years to rebuild," Haney said. "Extending hours to 4am even a few days a week will save historic businesses, create thousands of jobs, and support arts, culture and community." [...]
If approved by the legislature and governor, the pilot program would begin in 2025 and the measure would sunset after five years.
This time for sure!
But, to be clear, this bill would not "make last call be 4AM" or even "make last call be 4AM in San Francisco". No, doing that would make San Francisco behave like world-class cities that value tourism. This bill isn't that.
This bill would allow SF the option of issuing additional permits -- expensive permits -- to a handful of venues, allowing those venues and only those venues to serve alcohol between the hours of 2AM and 4AM, as part of a 5-year-limited trial program, to begin on Jan 1, 2025.
So it will be good for those businesses who get to be a part of that program -- and, assuming we haven't gone out of business by then, we're going to do our damnedest to be a part of that program -- but it's not really going to change the character of SF nightlife in any significant way. Almost all bars will still close at 2, and you still won't be able to get anywhere by public transit after midnight.
Despite its limitations, I am strongly in support of this bill, and any like it, and you should be too.
Here's a brief recap of this ongoing shitshow. I can't believe how long I've been blogging about this:
- Apr 2003: Senator Leno introduced SB 635; it was defeated by not getting 6 votes in the Senate.
- Feb 2004: The SF Board of Supervisors, via Peskin, passed a resolution "urging" the legislators to allow SF, LA and SD to set their own last call times.
- Apr 2004: The bill was strangled by not being allowed to move out of committee.
- Mar 2004: Leno tried again, AB 2433. Defeated by not getting 6 votes.
- May 2009: An interlude where I tell you about the Neo-prohibitionists organizations trying to stop this bill.
- Mar 2012: Weiner got an Economic Impact Study done proving that yes, nightlife is an important industry.
- Mar 2013: Leno re-introduced his bill as SB 635.
- Apr 2013: Defeated again by not getting 6 votes.
- Feb 2017: Weiner introduced his version of the bill, even more narrow in scope.
- Mar 2017: It passed the Public Safety Committee, and then was allowed to die silently.
- Jan 2018: Weiner re-introduced it as SB 905.
- Sep 2018: It passed the State Senate 28-8.
- Sep 2018: As one of his last acts in office, Governor Brown vetoed it.
- Dec 2018: Weiner re-introduced it as SB 58.
- May 2019: It passed Senate 29-6.
- Jun 2019: Weiner torpedoed his own bill and replaced it with an unrelated bill that he cared about more.
- Jun 2022: Weiner re-introduced it as SB 930.
Back in 2019, I joked:
I mean, at this rate we might have a Central Subway or a Transit Center before you can legally have a drink at 3AM.
That joke ages like fine milk.
Anyway, we've got a big weekend, come see some shows!
We deeply regret to inform you that we are no longer requiring proof of vaccination to enter DNA Lounge.
Let's start with some facts:
- San Francisco is only 59% fully vaccinated.
- Omicron BA.2 is absolutely ripping through the population.
- Case numbers are probably seven times higher than reported.
- You have no immunity to Omicron without a booster.
- Long COVID is a real threat. We don't remember polio any more, we only remember long-polio.
- CDC recolored their maps: rather than showing your risk of illness, they now say that you're ok as long as there is still freezer truck morgue capacity available in your area.
We held out until the bitter end. DNA Lounge was among the first nightclubs to require proof of vaccination, long before it was legally required. We were the only nightclub to actually verify that proof by scanning QR codes rather than accepting any old easily-photoshopped picture.
But within the last few weeks, nearly every other nightclub has stopped requiring vaccinations. We surveyed 40+ venues, and it's basically universal at this point. Most of them haven't made any announcement of this, they just quietly stopped. A few have updated their web sites with the new policy, but many have just scrubbed the word "COVID" from their web sites entirely.
So why are we following suit? Because we can't afford not to.
Being the only nightclub checking vaccination status doesn't really do anybody any good. It costs us business without actually making anyone safer, since all of our customers are going to be comingling with the unvaccinated at every other club and restaurant in town. (It's like you're at an orgy with a hundred people and there's one dude wearing a condom.)
And because it has been making booking be more difficult. We've lost some shows because the artists' agents believe, rightly or wrongly, that our vaccination policies will mean lower attendance.
And because our COVID grant money is about to run out. We can't afford to continue excluding such a huge proportion of our potential customers when none of our competition are doing the same.
Venues that are no longer requiring proof of vaccination include:
We didn't check in on every corner bar, but that's most of the larger places, and it's certainly a statistically damning sample. Also, a couple of venues on that list are accepting a negative test result in lieu of vaccination, which counts as not checking at all. You can be infectious and asymptomatic for a week or more before a test shows positive.
There are lots of things that we could be doing to bring this pandemic to an end, but we as a society are simply not doing most of them.
We can all look forward to years of people telling us, "It's just a cold, everybody gets it twice a year, whatever." And your personal experience may support that in the short term, because with vaccinations, probably very few people you know will be hospitalized. But Long COVID is a god damned hurricane of multiple sclerosis, diabetes, chronic fatigue, weird clots, loss of lung capacity, brain damage, and inexplicable neurological conditions, and it's coming right at us.
And in this hurricane, instead of building levees and storm drains, the government is telling us, "everybody should take personal responsibility for deciding what level of moistness they are comfortable with".
And in this hurricane, as it uproots trees and batters your storm windows, your friend rolls their eyes and asks, "Are you just going to stay home forever?"
To the many of you who have thanked us for our policies, who have told us that DNA Lounge was the only venue in which you felt
A while back someone on Twitter said something like, "I'll be wearing a mask at all shows until DNA Lounge says you don't need them at theirs." That was a very nice thing to hear, a vote of confidence in our science-based policies.
To be clear, that is not what we are saying.
What we are saying is, you should absolutely still wear a mask, and you should only congregate with others who are all masked and boosted. But DNA Lounge can no longer mandate that, because Capitalism Says No.
We are welcoming back with open arms the unvaccinated, the unboosted, the unmasked. We intend to pack them in, shoulder to sweaty shoulder, spittle flying everywhere. We are doing this because we can't afford not to. Much like our mayor, and the CDC, we are not following the science, we are following the money.
If that sounds horrible to you, that's because it is.
Pitchfork, Nina Corcoran:
"Yes SXSW was a superspreader event, and yes my entire band got COVID, as did many others," tweeted Canadian singer-songwriter Charlotte Cornfield. "We obviously knew there was a risk going in, but really feeling for everyone whose tours/lives have been derailed by this thing." Several other bands and radio DJs, music promoters, and record label employees have tweeted similar sentiments after testing positive. [...]
"Large swaths of the live music industry are overeager to pretend we're out of the pandemic. We're leaving behind many folks with disabilities and illnesses, which is not a new problem -- just a new way the ableism inherent in many venue spaces is being expressed since COVID," Speedy Ortiz singer-guitarist Sadie Dupuis tells Pitchfork. "When mask mandates first went away, the largest nurses' union in the country petitioned the CDC to reverse its decision and reinstate masking due to breakthrough cases. Because, vaccinated or not, masks are incredibly effective at preventing infection. With many of us having received boosters six-plus months ago, their efficacy is waning. A breakthrough case could wind up costing your favorite artist tens of thousands of dollars of expected income, the difference between a profitable tour and a tour in the red." [...]
Harpist Mary Lattimore says she still doesn't feel comfortable performing live, but knows it's an essential part of her job. "I link it to the lack of streaming revenue for artists," she explains. "Tour income is basically the only income. It was nonexistent for years so we have to get out there, but we're pretty vulnerable, going from place to place every night. One case of COVID and bands potentially lose thousands and thousands of dollars." [...]
For other touring artists, mask policies aren't necessarily up to them, but rather the headliners they're supporting. Wednesday are slated to open for Beach Bunny on a two-month-long tour, and their newfound discomfort around COVID-19 policy isn't reason enough to bail on such a big opportunity. "Because we're just openers on the tour, I don't feel like we have a ton of authority [to ask for that]," [...] The most I've felt comfortable asking people to wear masks so far is saying, 'Please wear your masks tonight; we have more dates we gotta play,' into the mic.
But "catching COVID might scuttle the tour" is only the start of it, as all of this completely ignores the specter of Long COVID. Wait until two years from now when you learn that your favorite band isn't a band any more, because the financial pressure to crowd into small rooms with antimaskers and antivaxxers means that now they have MS, or diabetes, or 20% lung function, and -- oh yeah -- no health insurance. (Are you kidding? They were in a band.)
Here's a nice write-up about our upcoming Just Add Heather show this Sunday:
SF's Only Show With Live Cabaret and Live BakingThis week was the return of the Game Developers Conference, which is historically significant as the cancellation of GDC 2020 and our week of related events was our first indication that the shit had, in fact, hit the fan. The whole city went into lockdown shortly after those GDC cancellations. (And that was back when our daily case rate was about a quarter of what it is today. You know, before everyone was just "over it".)
It started with a dessert -- remember how all of a sudden during lockdown, everyone was baking? "Nobody could go out and buy pastries," Thiel says. "I thought, why don't I just do my recipes and sing?" [...]
And once things did open up again for live performance, opportunity came knocking. Jim Sweeney, producer of The World-Famous Hubba Hubba Revue, approached her about potentially creating a live stage show for the DNA Lounge. With his encouragement, and with a new direction to go in with the show, Thiel found herself an old portable Wolf convection oven that could be brought onstage -- and the rest, as they say, is history. Just Add Heather Live premiered in the DNA's intimate upstairs lounge, and after an extremely successful first show, they've been upgraded to the main stage for this Sunday's blowout showcase. [...]
There aren't many backyard pandemic web series that can say they've found their way onto the DNA's Main Stage (trust me, I tried it myself), but of all the ones that can, Just Add Heather might just take the cake -- because at this show, you might actually get to EAT the cake!
Also last week, we finally had the Haru Nemuri show (and here's a nice review of it). This show was originally scheduled for March 29, 2020; then it was rescheduled to Sep 11, 2020; then to Mar 27, 2021; then to Nov 4, 2021; and finally to this one! I think that's the last of our 2020 reschedules.
Some POW photos, with our epic projections:
Also our GDC Meetup party the following night was so popular that a full 10% of GDC's total attendance came to DNA Lounge that night. That's pretty good!
We also have a bunch of other live shows coming up soon: