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.
"I was disappointed that the owners of the building didn't give me an opportunity to renegotiate a new lease. I was further disappointed that my request for a three-month extension, so that we could close out 2019 was rejected." Owner Deborah Jackman said in a statement, "What I find most disturbing is that Mezzanine, like so many other cultural institutions, has fallen victim to corporate greed and commercial development."
The building owners are working with Colton Commercial & Partners Inc who are looking to replace the venue with commercial office space in hopes to maximize rent at a 600% increase. Their decision marks an all too familiar story for venues in the Bay Area that have been forced to close in recent years due to commercial development.
So that is some tragic, predatory bullshit.
It can only be out of pure spite that their landlord won't even let them stick around for two more months to have a final New Years party. That's one of the most profitable nights of the year for any venue, and to not even throw them that bone is just intentionally cruel. That's some Ebenezer Scrooge shit right there.
So that's one more independent venue down, further cementing the stranglehold that Live Nation, AEG and APE have on SF live music, as our city continues its descent into being nothing more than a bedroom community for Mountain View.
Apparently there are people who look at San Francisco and its myriad problems and think, "You know what this place needs? More high-end office space."
And tomorrow is our birthday! Go us! DNA Lounge opened for business thirty-three years ago, on November 22, 1985! Check out some photos from opening night.
We have also been served an eviction notice... from our ISP. (Heyyyo!) I had to move our web server, mail host and whatnot to a new provider. It was terrible, but it seems to be mostly working now. Let me know if you notice any weirdness.
In particular, since it's a new mail server, you might not be getting our emails. Check your spam folder.
Also, we're considering hiring someone to improve our marketing and social media game. Is that you? Here's the ad.
I hope you'll be joining us tonight at Dark Sparkle to get your pre-turkey goth on. November and December are traditionally under-attended months for us, so please try to drag your butts off the couch: we could really use the business, and you don't want us to turn into office space too, I'm guessing.
Some recent photo galleries, including Halloween epic-ness.
As is traditional, Halloween is a week-long affair for us here at DNA Lounge. We've got you covered:
- A Halloween-candy candy rave,
- a spooky Russian rockabilly / surf-rock band who love Ed Wood,
- the world's biggest mashup party in all four rooms and with a costume contest,
- the nation's longest-running goth club, plus goth burlesque,
- and finally our epic actual-Halloween blowout, in now its seventeenth year!
If none of that floats your boat, I think you should seek help.
Did you know that there's only one Spirit store in SF this year? I mean, it was never very good, and we have better costume shops in town, but one? There used to be one every six blocks! This used to be a Halloween Town. What is this world coming to.
A friend is DJing a Halloween-themed event tonight and I asked, "Do people dress up for that?" He said, "No, it's a college crowd, so if they dress up at all it's just in a fuckin' onesie."
You can do better, San Francisco. Show us what you got.
A few weeks ago I happened to be reading the server logs at shortly after door-time for one of our dance parties, and that night, dozens of people were trying to buy online tickets after doors had opened. They were unable to because tickets were already off-sale. Tickets had gone off sale half an hour before doors, because that's when we printed out our will-call and guest list on paper and walked it to the front door, so that the names could then be checked off with a pen.
Those were dozens of people who said to us, "Hello, please take my money," and we said to them, "No, we would rather not take your money." Now that's just rude. When someone tries to give you money, you say, "Yes, thank you."
So, I wrote a bunch of software to throw at the problem.
Phase one is that we're now using iPads and/or Android tablets at the front door instead of a clipboard and a stack of paper. Clicking a checkbox on the tablet synchronizes that checkbox with the server and with every other tablet (since we often have more than one person working the list at the same time). When a new ticket is sold, or when someone is added to the guest list, those new names automatically show up on the tablets. (I'm using WebSockets for the inter-client communication, so all of this happens pretty close to real-time, assuming the wifi network is working properly.)
Phase two, and the ultimate goal of this exercise, is that now tickets don't go off-sale until the event is almost over. They go off sale an hour before the scheduled end of the event, or 3AM, whichever is earlier.
Now obviously we'd prefer for you to buy your tickets weeks in advance. We like it when you commit, because then you tell your friends that you have committed, and maybe they commit too. Also it gives us a much better idea of how many people we can expect, which helps us staff appropriately.
But, if you can't get your shit together until ten minutes before the headliner goes on, and you want to buy a ticket online -- we're gonna let you!
If it hasn't sold out, you can always pay cash at the door with no service fee, but if it's busy, the pre-sale line is always shorter and faster, so that's your trade-off.
Governor Brown just vetoed the 4AM bill, SB 905, as one of his last acts before he term-limits out. This despite it having passed the Senate with 28-8. Reading between the lines, his veto is probably because of lobbying from SFPD and MADD.
So San Francisco is not allowed to have the Demon Liquor between 2am and 4am, but meanwhile in Michigan, Axe Bars are a thing:
Ax-throwing bar deemed unsafe, has liquor license suspended for 1 day:
Drinking alcohol while throwing axes, ax-throwers wearing open-toed shoes, a lack of monitoring by bar management and axes ricocheting off targets in the direction of participants were among the concerns listed by Michigan Liquor Control Commission investigators who visited the bar. [...]
"A licensed establishment that allows alcohol-consuming patrons to throw potentially injurious and even deadly weapons posed significant concern," said the state office of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs [...] "While the Commission does not regulate ax throwing or any other sport - and it is not contrary to the law for sporting activities to take place in liquor licensed establishments - once the investigation [...etc etc...]"
The following are additional concerns noted by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission:
- Patrons throwing axes at bottles of spirits, consuming shots from the bottle that was not struck.
- A person flipping the axe in mid-air and catching it with the other hand before throwing the axe at the target.
- Three people identified in the video as coaches throwing axes at one target at the same time.
- A person attempting to balance feet on a strap, walking barefoot (tightrope style), carrying and tossing an axe at the target.
- A person juggling two axes before tossing them at the target.
Nobody has approached us about doing axe-themed events, in case you were wondering. But coincidentally, last week at the Lincoln Durham show, he was using an actual axe that had been strung up as a guitar. I had not seen precisely that before.
A couple of recent local tragedies:
Modesto Figuerido, AKA Cuba, was killed by a hit-and-run drunk driver last week. Cuba had lived on 11th Street for at least 20 years, and it's hard to imagine him no longer being a fixture here. Butter held a memorial service for him, and there's a small shrine near 11th and Folsom.
"He had the constitution of a cockroach," said Butter bar owner Vlad Cood, who would call hospitals in search of Fegurdo when he went missing from 11th Street. "I didn't think anything could kill him."
"The District Attorney's Office has not yet decided whether to press charges against Quiton [the hit-and-run drunk driver]." So that's just great, too. In case you hadn't noticed, it's straight-up legal to murder people as long as you do it with a car. It's like our own version of The Purge.
I'm heart-broken Virginia Ramos - the Tamale Lady - has passed. Virginia was an institution in bars in the Mission, Castro & SOMA. We changed the law to legalize her business - selling tamales in bars - as part of our effort to allow home cooks to earn a living. RIP, Virginia.
In DNA news -- hey, do you wanna work here?
It is so hard finding staff these days! Getting hired at the restaurant is pretty straightforward:
- Answer the ad;
- Arrange a date to come in for an interview;
- Actually show up for the interview.
I swear, if you can do all of those things -- pretty much we're gonna hire you to sling pizza. But out of about every thirty people who make it past step 2, only one makes it to step three. And 100% of the time, the people who don't just no-show, with no explanation or apology. Even for the management positions! Now maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I think that if you've said, "Ok, see you then" to someone and then decide not to go, you owe them an email. In pretty much any context! But especially if you'd like there to be a chance of that person ever hiring you at any time in the future.
So rude. So rude.
We also had a secret / private show with Weezer on Tuesday. I know there were several photographers there but we haven't gotten our hands on any of the photos yet. (Yes, they played Africa, no, Weird Al wasn't there.)
CBC just did a great undercover investigation of Ticketmaster:
'A public relations nightmare': Ticketmaster recruits pros for secret scalper program.
Box-office giant Ticketmaster is recruiting professional scalpers who cheat its own system to expand its resale business and squeeze more money out of fans, a CBC News/Toronto Star investigation reveals.
The article is long and kind of buries the lead, but Boing Boing has a good summary:
Ticketmaster's shows are notorious for selling out in seconds to bot-running scalpers who then mark up the tickets and sell them for many multiples of their face-value. Ticketmaster has always maintained that these scalpers were unfortunate and undesirable parasites that preyed on Ticketmaster, the performers and the audience alike. [...]
But a CBC/Toronto Star undercover investigation has revealed that Ticketmaster runs a secret, parallel system called "Tradedesk" that encourages the most prolific scalpers to create multiple accounts to circumvent the company's limits on ticket sales, and then allows them to re-list those tickets for sale in its "brokerage" market, which nominally exists to allow fants who find themselves with a spare ticket or two to sell it other fans. According to Ticketmaster reps who were unaware they were being secretly recorded, the most successful scalpers use this system to make as much as $5 million/year. [...]
Ticketmaster issued a non-denial-denial to the Star and CBC, and implied that this was a case of rogue employees doing naughty things. But the misdeeds that the journalists caught on video came from a wide variety of Ticketmaster staffers, acting on behalf of the company at a major trade-show, with no hedging or any sense that they were offering access to something untoward. What's more, the CBC/Star report is backed up by a leaked copy of Ticketmaster's handbook for professional "resellers."
In a separate investigation, the CBC/Star team showed how Ticketmaster manipulates ticket prices in realtime using deceptive tactics (withholding blocks of tickets until mid-sale, then releasing them at above-face-value prices) to bilk fans out of more money. Hilariously, Ticketmaster blamed this on the "promoter" of the concert, which was Livenation -- the company that owns Ticketmaster.
Why would a venue choose to sell tickets through Ticketmaster? Well, if a venue is selling tickets through Ticketmaster, it's usually because that venue is Ticketmaster.
You may recall from my earlier round-up on the corporate consolidation of live music that TicketMaster sells 80% of all tickets in the US, and their parent company, Live Nation, own 117 venues and exclusively books 33 others, including The Fillmore, The Masonic, Cobb's, Punch Line, and most recently, August Hall (formerly Ruby Skye).
AEG (through their Golden Voice division) and Another Planet have a somewhat larger corporate footprint in the Bay Area than Live Nation, but Live Nation is the largest internationally.
So, you know. Pucker up, buttercup.