Today is DNA Pizza's 8th anniversary! Hooray!
We still haven't found a restaurant manager! Boo!
Everything old is new again: it will be the 20th anniversary of the release of The Matrix in a couple of weeks -- yes, there is no way that this news does not make you feel old -- and we're doing a screening of the movie here, followed by a Matrix-themed rave! Next Friday, March 22. It should be pretty great, in a Cyberdelia sort of way. No skate ramps this time, though. Oh, speaking of, if you go hit "like" on the Cyberdelia facebook page, you may find yourself a discount code.
And since we're partying like it's 1999, here's a bleak, dystopian future from noted science fiction magazine The New York Times:
Thousands of New Millionaires Are About to Eat San Francisco Alive:
Big wealth doesn't come in monthly paychecks. It comes when a start-up goes public, transforming hypothetical money into extremely real money. This year -- with Uber, Lyft, Slack, Postmates, Pinterest and Airbnb all hoping to enter the public markets -- there's going to be a lot of it in the Bay Area. [...] Welcomed finally into the elite caste who can afford to live comfortably in the Bay Area, the fleet of new millionaires are already itching to claim what has been promised all these years. [...]
"Are we going to see a one-bedroom condo that's worth less than $1 million in five years?" he asked the crowd. "Are we going to see single family homes selling for one to three million?" [...]
When Google in Mountain View and Facebook in Menlo Park went public, their workers were spread across the Bay Area, and so the impact on housing was diffuse. Now, many of the biggest start-ups are based in San Francisco, in part thanks to the city's tax breaks. Brokers say San Francisco is where the workers want to stay. [...]
"We see multiple parties per I.P.O. for the company that is I.P.O.ing, as well as firms that are associated to them," Mr. Siegan said. Budgets for start-up parties, he said, can easily go above $10 million. "They're wanting to bring in A-list celebrities to perform at the dinner tables for the executives. They want ballet performers."
A popular new feature he's noticing is clients hoping to curate their own theme concerts featuring fleets of bands. Mr. Siegan says he put on one for a 1980s loving tech executive, featuring the B-52s, Devo, The Bangles, Tears for Fears and Flock of Seagulls.
In a warehouse in Concord, Calif., the I.P.O. ice sculptor is getting ready to staff up for what he says will be a long year.
If any of you reading this work for a company planning to throw one of these massive IPO shindigs, let me emphasize that we are ready and willing to (gunshot, gunshot, click, cash register) take your money. Operators are standing by.
It's the least you could do. Like, it is literally, literally the least. No least-er.
As always, The Onion was there first:
Report: Nation's Gentrified Neighborhoods Threatened By Aristocratization:
WASHINGTON -- According to a report released Tuesday by the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, the recent influx of exceedingly affluent powder-wigged aristocrats into the nation's gentrified urban areas is pushing out young white professionals, some of whom have lived in these neighborhoods for as many as seven years.
Maureen Kennedy, a housing policy expert and lead author of the report, said that the enormous treasure-based wealth of the aristocracy makes it impossible for those living on modest trust funds to hold onto their co-ops and converted factory loft spaces. [...]
"These accusations are pure, slanderous rubbish," said Lord Nathan Dunkirk III, the owner of a prodigious manor house that, along with its steeplechase course and topiary garden, sits on what was once the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. "If anything, the layabouts and wastrels have been afforded a veritable glut of new and felicitous opportunities as bootblacks and scullery maids."
Well, our restaurant manager rage-quit again. This one only lasted two weeks. The last one lasted five!
Both of these guys had extensive experience actually running restaurants, and sounded like they knew what they were doing. And then both of them basically said: "The restaurant has this list of problems (that you explicitly told me about before you hired me). You should probably fix those, bye!"
I mean, no joke, in the interviews we would say, repeatedly, "We're not looking to hire someone who's going to say to us, 'You should have more checklists!' We're looking to hire someone who, as the manager, is going to make those checklists, and make sure they are followed." Both of them said, "Absolutely, I'm your guy!" Then a couple weeks later, "You should get some checklists, good luck with that!"
Double-you tee fuck.
This is so frustrating, because we know there are problems -- money-losing problems -- with our restaurant, and the solution to literally every one of those problems begins with, "Step 1: Hire a competent manager". Right now restaurant management is being spread between three or four people who all have other full time jobs here, jobs which are also critical.
Anyway, here's here's our Craigslist ad. Help, help.
A few weeks ago I was chatting with someone who works security at Slim's. He said something to the effect of, "Goldenvoice is terrible, but our contract with them is only for another year or two, so maybe after that things will go back to normal." I didn't have the heart to say to him, "How's that going to happen when you no longer have a booking or promotions department? They fired everybody!"
Slim's, Great American Music Hall Workers Axed as Goldenvoice Expands:
A year after Slim's and the Great American Music Hall inked a booking agreement with corporate promoter Goldenvoice, [publicist Tanya] Pinkerton, [...] manager Dana Smith and promoter Tracey Buck were also laid off. Goldenvoice, Pinkerton was told by email, already had concert listings covered. [...]
The layoffs came one year after Slim's and GAMH, for years considered two of the city's flagship independent venues, outsourced booking to Goldenvoice, the Coachella promoter that, like competitor Live Nation, has dramatically expanded in the Bay Area. [...] With Slim's and GAMH, Goldenvoice now runs concert promotions at every level -- from a small club to a large festival -- in the Bay Area. [...]
AEG, Goldenvoice's parent company, is owned by Philip Anschutz, a multibillionaire conservative philanthropist with an anti-LGBTQ record. Corporate saturation of the local concert market is also detrimental, critics say, to a healthy local scene of independent venues and promoters, as well as local bands and fans.
Jamie Zawinski, the owner of Slim's neighbor DNA Lounge, is among the local music industry figures sounding the alarm about Goldenvoice and Live Nation. In response to the Slim's and GAMH partnership, he wrote a widely shared blog post arguing that the companies' expansive concert and ticketing holdings are monopolistic and "bad for our culture as a whole." [...]
Since Goldenvoice took over the calendars, venue management left its SoMa office. Anthony Bedard, the junior talent buyer and longtime Hemlock Tavern booker, was let go early last year. The most recent layoffs, according to Pinkerton, reflect Goldenvoice's regional workers taking on more promotions and marketing duties for the venues.
I feel it's worth re-emphasizing this quote from early last year:
[Danny Bell, a Goldenvoice talent-buyer] declined to comment on the details. But he said little to assuage concerns that the company won't continue Bedard's curatorial vision, or that it'll neglect local music. "SF is a great music town. With any strong local music scene, there's a lot of great local acts," Bell said. "Is it a priority? It's tough to say. I think it just naturally happens. I know that we came on up here with one goal -- to do cool shit."
That last paragraph is particularly telling. Here's how I read it: The question put to the Goldenvoice rep is, "Now that you control the music industry in this town, what are you going to do to preserve the music culture that was here before you bought your way in?" And their answer is, "Hey, that's your problem, not ours."
It's the Gordon Gecko model of concert promotion: if at any moment, a thing is worth more money by cutting it up and selling it off for parts, do that. Then move on to raze the next thing.
Please contribute to the DNA Lounge Patreon so that we don't end up being the next venue tossed into the mass grave where SF's music scene used to be.
Hey look, the Wall Street Journal, of all things, has discovered Synthwave. That probably means its over now, right? "Synthwave, the Sound of an '80s Childhood, Goes Mainstream."
There's a particular type of article that gets churned out every couple of years that always begins, "Biff! Bang! Pow! Comics aren't just for kids any more!" This article is basically that but for music: it repeats the claim that "They're not just 80s cover bands!" so many times that you can tell that the author really does think they're all just 80s cover bands. (Incidentally, Stranger Things sucked, and while it was panderingly nostalgic, it did not invent nostalgia, or pandering. Note to lazy writers: other analogies exist.)
Meanwhile, in that other genre from the Lost Decade of 19A0, Revolution at 3.5″: Inside Vaporwave's Mini-Boom of Floppy Disk Releases:
"Floppies are cheaper than cassettes, they don't have to be tediously dubbed, they look appealing, they're available in a lot of colors and have cool designs that people like," says Matthew Isom, 40, of San Diego plunderphonic vaporwave label Power Lunch, who notes that floppies also cost substantially less to ship overseas than cassettes.
There are less convenient aspects to the format, of course, but floppy aficionados have found ways to work within its limits. "I discovered, after playing around, that you can actually release about 11 minutes and 38 seconds of 8-bit audio MP3 on a floppy disk," says Campbell, who has released six floppies so far via Strudelsoft. "The first one that I did was this vaporwave artist called Cat System Corp and I had a run of like 20 floppy disks. And it fuckin' sold out in 8 seconds."
Campbell sourced his first batch of disks on eBay. When that proved too expensive, he sent a call to the employees at the contract manufacturer where he works in IT. He followed that up with a post on Canadian classified site Kajiji, where he offered to pick up floppies from peoples' homes. He wagers he currently has about 400 or 500 floppy disks in his basement.
Wow, you have 500 floppy disks? You are like a little baby! I've been burning promo floppy disks that nobody can figure out how to read for years...
All of this is just a long-winded intro to my real point here, which is as follows:
Sell out early, sell out often!
Also, please enjoy jwz mixtape 202.
I'm gonna make two guesses here: first, that 80% of the people reading this post work for tech companies, and second, that 100% of you would like DNA Lounge to continue to exist.
Great! Here's how you can help that happen: help us get corporate parties. Does your company participate in any way at any San Francisco-based conference or trade show? Do you host an after party, a product launch, a side-session, a PR event, an employees-only event?
Find out who in your company organized the last one, or is organizing the next one. Go talk to them. Tell them that DNA Lounge is awesome and they should have the event there. firstname.lastname@example.org. And the Rentals tab up top contains salient details.
Maybe that co-worker of yours who is in charge of these things accomplishes it by just hiring a party-planner company. Great! If your person were to say to the planner, "Hey, how about looking in to DNA Lounge?" that could be all that it takes to make it happen.
Putting us directly in touch with the party planning company couldn't hurt, either.
Some examples of what's coming up:
- RSA Security is the first week of March. It will fill all three Moscone buildings, plus close Howard St. We have nothing.
- The Game Developers Conference is the third week of March. It's just as large. We have two great parties (and thank you very much, Gordon and Morgan!) but they are both indie, non-company-sponsored events. We've got room for more.
- Google Next: Early April. We have nothing.
- VM World: Late August. Nothing.
- Oracle World: Late September. Nothing.
- TechCrunch Disrupt: Early October. Nothing.
- DreamForce: Late November. Nothing.
And those are just the 3-building tech conferences I spotted from a quick scan of the Moscone site. There seem to be an equal number of huge medical conventions in there, too.
We have, historically, been bad at getting events like that, try as we might. We don't have the right contacts. So maybe you can help with that.
The reason these kinds of events are especially good for us is that the companies behind them are paying for it out of their advertising and PR budget. Events like this don't have the same dynamic as a regular live show that has to "pay for itself". Success is measured by "was it a good party." Compared to a normal live show, they have money to spend.
The one Dreamforce party we had last year single-handedly saved the month. That one event made September be slightly in the black instead of deeply in the red.
So if, just by being a little irritating to some of you co-workers, you can get us just one event, maybe you too can save just one month.
Help us kick the can just one more month down the road.
Now, if you're like literally every person I know to whom I've given this speech in person, you're thinking: Wow, I'd love to help, but my company is different and inapplicable because we're: so small; so large; so broke; so dysfunctional; so frugal; so profligate; have a cafeteria; don't really "do parties" (except when we do); that's handled by another department; my team doesn't get invited; etc., etc.
I hate to break it to you, but your company is not unique. How about giving it a shot anyway? Everyone has a great reason to not do something, even something as effortless as prodding one other person with a suggestion.
But that tiny bit of effort could make you a hero.
And with that, some recent photo galleries.
First up: we mailed out the first batch of Membership Cards last week, so many of you should have yours by now! If you wanna get a sexy low-numbered card, go sign up on our Patreon!
Next up: Young's Market, who, along with Southern Wine and Spirits, comprise the complete and total monopoly on liquor distribution in San Francisco, tried to weasel out of their responsibilities on Prop C:
Liquor distributor cites Prop. C as it raises prices:
Young's Market Co. said in a letter to its San Francisco accounts that it would be changing its wholesale tax from 0.16 percent to 0.335 percent, effective Jan. 1. The company cited the cost of Prop. C as the reason.
The announcement sent shock waves throughout the local bar community.
"The tone and demeanor of that letter was like, 'F— off, San Francisco, you guys voted for this and now you're going to pay for it,'" said Michael Krouse, who owns Madrone Art Bar, Pop's Bar and Bar Fluxus.
Prop. C, which passed in November with 61 percent of the vote, promises to generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year for homeless services by increasing the gross receipts tax for businesses in the city with more than $50 million in revenue and the payroll tax for businesses with more than $1 billion. [...]
What bothered many bar owners about the Young's announcement was not the numbers as much as the principle: Prop. C was supposed to draw from the pockets of the biggest businesses, not the small guys. "The general public assumed that when this was sold as a tax that would be borne by large corporations -- that that's where the economic hit would be, and they would take it," said H. Joseph Ehrmann, owner of the bar Elixir. "But they're not. All of these suppliers, anybody that sells anything wholesale, is going to pass that down to us."
Krouse added, "Now we're supposed to pay the entire thing for these corporations, and they're not going to pay any of it?"
Young's Market, by the way, has $2.9 billion annual revenue across six states.
Broke-Ass Stuart elaborates:
The brilliance of Prop C is that it took into account the income inequality plaguing the Bay Area. It only taxes the very richest in our city to tackle an issue that they themselves have greatly exacerbated. And yet Young's Market is trying to shirk their responsibility by passing the tax down to the bar owners, instead of paying it themselves. They're doing this by more than doubling the wholesale tax that bars pay for liquor distribution.
To which I say: Shame on you Young's Market. Shame on you.
For those unfamiliar with the way the liquor industry works in California, regulations called "tied-house laws" were set up after the end of Prohibition, mandating that distributors act as the middlemen between alcohol manufacturers and bars/liquor stores. The goal of this was to avoid alcohol companies creating monopolies by owning the manufacturing, distribution, and retail of their booze. Unfortunately, it made these middlemen distributors incredibly powerful, and at this point there are two companies who have near monopolies on wine and liquor distribution in San Francisco. One of them is Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits (which is facing class action law suits in other states for their shady practices) and Young's Market Co. There's a similarly broken system for beer distribution, but that's for another time.
This provoked a massive push-back from their customers over the last few weeks -- and by "customers" I mean "the bars who are legally required to be their customers" -- and Young's backed down. For now. But I'll bet it comes back in some other, more hidden form.
This is exactly the same kind of behavior as the "healthcare surcharge" you see on the receipts at shadier restaurants.
When you're running a business, sometimes your expenses increase. Your rent goes up. Minimum wage goes up. The price of limes skyrockets for some weird reason. And sometimes, when your operating costs or cost of goods go up, you need to raise prices. That's life.
But when San Francisco passed the "Healthy SF" ordinance, requiring businesses above a certain size to provide healthcare for their employees, the response of some restaurants was to passive-aggressively break that out on the bill as its own line item (and then many of them just pocketed the money anyway). Instead of just raising the prices of their products in a normal way, they tried to pretend this was some completely other thing, hoping that would make you mad at "the libs" instead of them.
To their credit, though, these places also all itemized out "transportation costs" when gas hit $4.50/gallon, and reduced their prices when gas got cheaper again.
Oh wait, no, that last part never actually happened.
Up next: Yoshi's!
Man, the Yoshi's grift is strong. I still don't fully understand the scope of this con; it feels like most of this iceberg is still lurking below, but a few more chunks have calved off recently. First some background. In 2009, I wrote:
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.
Come on. Where's my fucking bailout?
Yoshi's closed in 2014, having paid back none of those "loans". But Yoshi's Oakland still exists, so how did they manage that? Well as far as I can tell, they "sold" the club to a newly-formed corporation 3 months before they closed, and then that corporation went bankrupt and defaulted on the loans that it had just purchased. That shell-game seems far too transparent to actually get away with, but apparently it's not.
Fillmore District politics is very weird, because almost all of it either stems from, or is a reaction to, the racist "redevelopment" programs of the 1950s and equally-racist "urban renewal" programs of the 1970s.
(You may have heard that Justin Herman Plaza is being renamed, because people are finally tired of it being named after a guy who gleefully displaced over 4,000 people while saying, "This land is too valuable to permit poor people to park on it.")
Well, wherever there is government money intended for reparations, there are con men looking for their taste.
So the vacant Yoshi's space is now called the "Fillmore Heritage Center" and the grift rolls on:
Lawsuit alleges cronyism in city Fillmore Heritage Center deal:
A Fillmore District businessman who made four attempts to purchase the long-vacant Fillmore Heritage Center has sued city officials including Mayor London Breed for alleged fraud and cronyism in the bidding process that led to its recent takeover by a group of community advocates. [...]
Agonafer Shiferaw filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging "acts of mismanagement and malfeasance by San Francisco government officials charged with the administration and disposition" of the center. Mayor London Breed, Fillmore Supervisor Vallie Brown, Third Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Amos Brown and a number of city department heads.
Shiferaw alleges The City granted control of the center to "entities whose chief qualification is that they are friends and supporters" of Breed. [...]
Shiferaw's is one of several lawsuits surrounding the center, one of the last projects built under The City's redevelopment program. Once hailed as an anchor space and an opportunity for economic growth, in recent years it has earned a reputation as the neighborhood's "million dollar blight."
City Attorney Dennis Herrera last August sued the center's developer, former Yoshi's owner Michael Johnson, to recover a $5.5 million loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development which, along with city funding, was used to build the $80.5 million project in 2007.
A month later, Johnson countersued, claiming that city interference undermined the project. [...]
Among the claims laid bare in the lawsuit, which the community blog New Fillmore first reported, is that the defendants "defrauded San Francisco City taxpayers by simply erasing a $4.8 million loan to the former proprietor of Yoshi's SF (anchor tenant of the Fillmore Heritage Center), hidden from public scrutiny, in order to re-secure control of the property in preparation for re-offering it as a prize to political supporters."
To be clear, Yoshi's was never a "jazz club", despite what their grant applications presumably claimed. It was just a plain old general-purpose concert venue, with maybe a slightly higher percentage of jazz than all of the other places in town.
Part of the way to make this grift work -- besides the weird politics of the Fillmore District -- is that by claiming to be a "jazz club" you get to be listed under the heading of "culture" rather than under mere "nightlife". And if you're trying to bilk the taxpayers and the charities, you definitely want to be rubbing shoulders with the people who get their deductions by throwing money at the opera and the museums, rather than those of us down here in the trenches with the little people.
Remember: "Amateurs study heists. Professionals study money laundering."
We're trying something new, as a thank you to our awesome Patreon sponsors: we're now offering membership cards! If you kick in $15 or more per month, you get in free. Here are the options:
- Free admission for 2 to any event before 10pm.
- Skip to the front of the line (all night).
THE BLUE CARD -- $30 or more per month.
- Free admission for 2 to any event, all night.
- Skip to the front of the line.
THE GOLD CARD -- $60 or more month.
- Free admission for 2 to any event, all night.
- Includes 2 drink tickets.
- Skip to the front of the line.
THE BLACK CARD -- $200 or more month.
- Free admission for 4 to any event, all night.
- Includes 4 drink tickets.
- $50 off purchase of any VIP table.
- Skip to the front of the line.
The fine print, for all cards:
- Cards are non-transferrable: you must be present.
- Standing room only (general admission, not reserved seating).
- Charity events and private parties are excluded.
So head on over to our Patreon and sign up!
The cards are valid for as long as you continue to be a monthly contributor at that level.
Many of you are already eligible for a card if you've been contributing $15 or more per month, but you may need to also go and select the proper "tier" to get the card. Patreon doesn't automatically subscribe you to newly-added benefits.
It was very difficult to decide on the pricing for these; too high and nobody will be interested in them, but too low and we might end up losing money on the deal. But since the nature of Patreon makes them be essentially a monthly subscription, we can change the pricing or benefits down the road if necessary. ("Winging it" being a time-honored DNA tradition.)
I just ordered a credit card printer, so hopefully we'll be mailing out the first batch of cards before the new year!
By the way, if have any experience with a card embosser that has Mac drivers, let me know. I'd love to figure out a way for the names on the cards to have raised letters, but right now that doesn't seem practical.
Also, I tried to think of more clever names for the four card levels, but I didn't come up with anything good. Any suggestions? (Adenine and the other nucleobases have already been considered and rejected.)
Once more with feeling:
State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, has reintroduced the Let Our Communities Adjust Late-Night Act, which would allow later alcohol sales.
The bill, filed late Monday as SB58, encompasses San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood, Long Beach, Coachella (Riverside County), Cathedral City (Riverside County) and Palm Springs, where local officials have expressed interest in participating in a five-year pilot program.
Cities would create their own rules, including where sales extending to 4 a.m. are allowed and how often.
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 "no earlier than Jan 1, 2022".
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.
I mean, at this rate we might have a Central Subway or a Transit Center before you can legally have a drink at 3AM.
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 is trying again with SB 58.
Sam Lefebvre wrote article for KQED's Year In Review: In 2018, Corporate Monotony Seized San Francisco Music Venues. It's a followup to his previous article on this topic, which he told me was inspired by my blog post about it.
Less than a year later, three of those 18 independent clubs have shuttered or announced impending closure. The closures of the Hemlock Tavern, Elbo Room and Mezzanine all involve plans for redevelopment -- the latter venue's landlord plainly told KQED that Mezzanine doesn't earn him as much as offices.
To Zawinski, Slim's and GAMH ceding to Goldenvoice is practically the loss of two civic treasures. Other industry figures agree, lamenting the takeover as if the venues had shut down outright. [...]
Goldenvoice and Live Nation's diversified businesses -- the latter made $2.1 billion in ticketing fees last year alone, according to its shareholder report -- are so anticompetitive, they've prompted criticism from legislators on antitrust grounds. [...]
[Bedard's] corporate successors at Great American Music Hall, by contrast, aren't even pretending to support grassroots music scenes in San Francisco. Earlier this year I asked Danny Bell, a Goldenvoice talent buyer in San Francisco, if Great American patrons should expect the sort of local programming that Bedard brought to the venue. "Is it a priority? It's tough to say," Bell said. "I think it just naturally happens." [...]
"Even if a venue is thriving, there's the looming question of how much more the landlord can make by redeveloping the property," Bedard said. "It's bigger than the music industry."
Not precisely music-related, but here's another closure driven by real estate speculation that also makes me very sad: After 91 years on Mission Street, Siegel's Clothing Superstore to shutter. "The building was purchased in mid-November by one William Chin of Venice Beach Townhome LLC."
I mean -- NINETY ONE YEARS. Also it is a fantastic store!
Back to Live Nation, their subsidiary Ticketmaster claims that their clickwrap agreement makes them immune to class-action lawsuits, because that's reasonable, just, and not at all shady:
Allen Lee is among ticket buyers now suing Ticketmaster and its parent, Live Nation, after undercover reporters from Canada's CBC and the Toronto Star detailed how Ticketmaster facilitates scalpers in order to gain a second cut on sales. The lawsuit claims violations of the Cartwright Act, California Penal Code and unfair and fraudulent business practices. [...]
The defendants maintain that "the applicable Terms contained a provision by which Plaintiffs expressly agreed to submit their claims to binding arbitration, and waive any right to a jury trial or to participate in a class action."
Meanwhile, in Berlin, here's what it looks like when government cares about their city's music culture:
Berlin's Noise Protection Fund makes €1 million available for club soundproofing:
The goal of the Noise Protection Fund is to "preserve the Berlin club culture by promoting noise abatement measures and to ensure the long-term compatibility of living space and club operations in the immediate vicinity."
As of today, Berlin clubs can apply for a public grant that may supply each venue with €50,000 or €100,000 "for projects of extraordinary importance" that will go towards the installation of soundproofing refurbishments in and around their respective nightclubs.
These renovations include sound-absorbing installations in music venues and noise barriers in outdoor areas, as well as soundproofing windows for local residents. Once the application is submitted, a panel of experts will decide on the approval or rejection of the application.
All this talk of venues closing reminded me of this Nerd Night talk by Dan Strachota, long-time talent buyer at Rickshaw Stop: San Francisco's Deceased Music Venues. It's 20 minutes long, and both sad and really entertaining! Trigger warning for 90s nostalgia.
In summary: contribute to our Patreon so that we don't get added to one of these fucking lists!
I realize it's already December, which means that all of you are planning to stay home and watch Netflix until March, but you really ought to come see Skating Polly this Wednesday. We had them here last year, and they rocked. They just released a new video and here's a little interview:
Skating Polly Go Low-Budget in "They're Cheap (I'm Free)" Video
By the time they released their fifth album back in May, Skating Polly had already attracted the attention of such iconic figures as Calvin Johnson, Veruca Salt, and X's Exene Cervenka, all of whom collaborated with the Oklahoma City-based power pop trio. Needless to say, The Make It All Show delivered on the raw energy and punk attitude of their prior work, earning them touring spots alongside such like-minded groups as Charly Bliss and Potty Mouth this year.
Today they're sharing a video for the fiery, vengeful cut "They're Cheap (I'm Free)," which sees the band embrace their DIY roots with thrift store outfits and a background comprised of recycled objects. "All the art in the video is made out of trash, and our wardrobe was lent to us by this awesome thrift store in Echo Park called Sunday's Best," explains vocalist Kelli Mayo. "We had a crew of four amazing people and we only did things we could do for cheap or for free."
Ticket sales have been light, so get off your butts, ok? "Maybe next time" is not how we get to keep doing shows.
Meanwhile, over in the Central time zone, this is fantastic:
Pitchfork: Chicago Indie Clubs Band Together to Fight New Live Nation Venues:
A group of independent music venues in Chicago have come together to protest the building of Lincoln Yards, a $5 billion new development on the city's North side, which is set to include three to five new concert halls run by Live Nation.
In a press release, the newly-formed Chicago Independent Venue League (CIVL) said they are "concerned about current urban development trends favoring tax-payer supported developments that leave out, disregard, or even stifle smaller, independent, often historic performance venues and businesses." Members of CIVL include owners from the Empty Bottle, Metro, Schubas, Lincoln Hall, the Hideout, and more.
"I think all the other aldermen will agree this will crush small venues," said former 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti, who is running for mayor. [...]
It seems clear that if Live Nation, which runs Ticketmaster and manages leading musical artists, gains such a concentrated presence with a range of seating capacities, it would significantly impact the city's musical landscape. "This will put an equal number of venues out of business," Gomez said. [...]
Katie Tuten did not sound mollified. "We're standing up now to say, 'Not here. Not in Chicago. Not on my watch,' " she said. "Conglomerate corporate giants should look elsewhere."
It sure would be nice to see some kind of organized resistance in San Francisco to the ongoing take-over of our independent venues by multi-billion dollar vertically-integrated multinational corporations, but I guess most people here think, "This is fine."
I attended a show at a local venue that changed hands recently. When its purchase was announced, years ago, the new owners did some interviews where they said all the right words about how "We're doing this because we have a passion for live music", and so on. But now it's here and it's a Live Nation venue. This means that the role of the owners is that they pay rent, bartenders and security, but literally everything else about their business is outsourced.
It's like this: what if you loved food, and did a press push saying, "I just have a passion for cooking, that's why I'm opening this new restaurant", and then when it opened you said, "Here it is! Welcome to my Olive Garden franchise."
I just don't get it.