Between the San Francisco Entertainment Relief Fund that has no money in it and the Federal $15 billion "Save Our Stages" fund of which $0 has been spent, we're really doing great! As long as we can keep paying our employees and creditors with "thoughts and prayers".
Congress Approved $15 Billion to Save Entertainment Venues -- Why Has Not a Penny Been Spent So Far?
Lobbyists for the entertainment industry cheered a $15 billion bailout for music venues and other independent entertainment outlets closed by the pandemic, which Congress passed in late December and President Trump signed into law in January. But relief has turned to frustration, as not a single penny from the Save Our Stages Act has been sent out yet.
"We honestly don't know how much longer we're going to have to wait," said Audrey Schaefer of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), a group created during the pandemic to lobby for federal aid. "Thousands of live venues need the money fast, and for many others it's now too late."
The Small Business Association (SBA), which was charged with disbursing funds to independent cinemas, performing arts groups, music venues, museums and theatrical producers, has not even opened the application process for receiving grants.
We are just one week away from having been closed for a full year. A year!
Our neighbors at The Oasis are doing a telethon this weekend, check it out:
Oasis could close for good. To stop that, S.F. drag club is putting on old-school telethon
"It's easy with all the stuff we're doing to make it look like we're winning this," Drollinger says. "In a lot of ways we are, with what we're doing for the community, but it's not realistic to run a venue of this size and be closed. I thought rather than let things totally fall apart, I would ask for help."
For the well-known South of Market club and alternative performance venue to survive the next few months, Drollinger is trying to raise $100,000 via a telethon to be aired on the club's streaming service, Oasis TV, and the crowdfunding site GiveButter.com on March 6.
"The harsh reality is our rent is $20,000 a month, and there's another $8,000 to $10,000 in other costs we have to meet, so we're looking at about $30,000 a month just to exist," Drollinger says.
And here's a sad article about the recent closure of Virgil's Sea Room:
With Virgil's closure, SF loses another great queer space
Meanwhile, Thirkield was running through her savings hoping the pandemic would pass, and found she was approaching an amount that no GoFundMe could fix. "I had a cut-off number. If we hit that, I would have to call it quits. We managed to negotiate something with the landlord, but we would still have to pay them back at the end. We cut back everything.
"I saw other bars taking out these really big loans. I absolutely love what we did with Virgil's, it was a very special place. I love the community we built together. But I don't want to spend the next five or more years of my life digging out from under this huge debt. That kind of stress and risk, when who knows even now when we can open again -- it's not worth it."
May I remind you that DNA Lounge has a Patreon? It is a big part of the reason that we're not dead yet. Especially given the nearly complete lack of support from of our City, State and Federal Governments. Please order some pizza and gets yourself some lovely DNA Lounge face masks and old-skool slip mats. Every little bit helps...
It had been a while since we had to re-order these, and -- this may shock you -- in the intervening time, the printing company we had used went out of business. So we had to start over from scratch. But we finally got the new ones in, and they look great!
The minimum bulk order on these was kind of large, so don't make me regret re-stocking these, ok? I know all of you hipster bedroom DJs are still spinning vinyl, and we've got what you need for it.
Turntable not included.
It's a start! We're very grateful to Supervisor Haney for his work to make this happen. Now the fund just needs to have some money in it. And nobody seems to know where that might come from.
SF Will Prioritize Struggling and Legacy Venues for Entertainment Relief Fund -- But the Fund Needs Private Donations
The SF Board of Supervisors voted this week to establish the San Francisco Music and Entertainment Venue Recovery Fund, as a way to funnel money to struggling music venues and arts institutions that have been shuttered by the pandemic. But right now it seems like a "fund" in name only, and it will need private funding to provide the kind of help that local venues really need to recover. [...]
The mayor subsequently allocated $1.5 million toward the San Francisco Relief Grant program for these venues, but this is just a tiny sum compared to a need that is most certainly in the tens of millions.
Last year, the San Francisco Venue Coalition drafted a proposal for a $48 million fund to get the city's venues back on their feet, estimating each venue's overhead expenses at $18,000 to $35,000 per month.
Haney's legislative aide said of the fund that private donations from the Bay Area wealthy who want to see SF thrive after the pandemic are likely the best hope for the fund.
"We should not overlook the fact that we have more billionaires in our city than almost any other city in the world," Mahogany said. "If San Francisco is the place they want to live, they should have an interest in keeping it a place where people want to visit and stay. If they don't want to see that disappear, perhaps they can spare a few million to see the city survive."
"And then a miracle occurs."
Relying on the generosity and civic-mindedness of billionaires always works out so well. Hey, look at how great that went for Paris a couple of years ago:
The lesson from the ruins of Notre Dame: don't rely on billionaires.
You remember the story, of course you do. One of the most ancient and holy buildings on Earth, Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, goes up in flames. Barely has the fire been put out before some of the richest people in France rush to help rebuild it. Within just three days, France's billionaire class has coughed up nearly €600m. Or so their press releases state. [...]
Weeks go by, then months, and Notre Dame sees nothing from the billionaires. The promises of mid-April seem to have been forgotten by mid-June. "The big donors haven't paid. Not a cent." [...]
Meanwhile, the salaries of 150 workers on site have to be paid. The 300 or so tonnes of lead in the church roof pose a toxic threat that must be cleaned up before the rebuilding can happen. And pregnant women and children living nearby are undergoing blood tests for possible poisoning. But funding such dirty, unglamorous, essential work is not for the luxury-goods billionaires. As the Notre Dame official said last month, they don't want their money "just to pay employees' salaries".
My own personal experience with trying to solicit donations from the very small number of "high net-worth individuals" that I know personally was an exercise in learning how very impoverished most of the extremely wealthy feel. You can't even imagine.
DNA Lounge Alert!
The 3rd stage in this game features a mini boss battle on a Turbo Drive level, with a little 8-bit Devon Dossett (DNA's General Manager and Turbo Drive founder) DJing in the background. You can see this at 9:30 in the gameplay video and again at 12:40 where the final boss fight features Devon throwing boxes to help the boss, Big Jerry.
They also made a retro-style strategy guide for kickstarter backers, pictured above, which talks about Turbo Drive!
It's been a little while since we were featured in a video game. You may recall that DNA Lounge is the game intro sequence for 2007's SingStar Amped.
Check out Turbo Drive for real (sort of...) on our webcast this Friday!
Scott Wiener is taking another shot at ABC. This bill would be great for everybody, and I wish him luck.
California liquor bill aims to make restaurant parklets permanent, plus zones for open containers
"As we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel with this vaccine, we need to help these small businesses recover," Wiener said in an interview. "Now's the time to make common-sense changes to our alcohol rules that tangibly support small businesses." [...]
The bill would make permanent some of the changes that have been temporarily allowed since the pandemic began, such as allowing restaurants to serve alcohol in outdoor spaces like parking lots and sidewalks. [...] Also, music venues would no longer need to have full kitchens to get liquor licenses. [...]
Some other emergency alcohol measures enacted during the pandemic, such as legalizing takeout and delivery cocktails from restaurants, are not addressed in this bill.
Like the previous attempts at changing our liquor laws (by Wiener and others before him) this rule change would be a change to state law that would allow municipalities to enact these changes if and only if they wanted.
As such, and as before, we can doubtless expect the fundamentalist, prohibitionists nutjobs to sing their usual chorus of: "I don't want this in my suburb, therefore you shouldn't be allowed to have it in your city, either."
I guess this is the day of the year where I'm supposed to make a blog post tooting our horn about all that we've accomplished in 2020.
Well. We're not dead yet.
I guess I'll count that as a win.
My first blog post of 2020 was the story about how, having noted that nightclubs are hotbeds of disease, I tried to figure out how to give away flu shots at the club, and failed utterly at this project.
That story was unpleasantly prescient.
In January, we had started a new live music showcase, Star Crash. We got to do our second one in February, and then, The Rona. We've kept Star Crash going as a monthly webcast while in lockdown, and I'm really happy with how those have turned out. You can find most of them on our YouTube channel -- the ones that didn't get blocked by robots, because YouTube and the Content Mafia are just The Worst.
We also got to do one last in-person Cyberdelia back in February! That was great.
And after that, the shitshow began in earnest.
During those first few months of lockdown we kept paying our employees for quite a while, and eventually some Payroll Protection Program money allowed us extend that, but now all that money is gone and we're stripped back to a skeleton crew running in low-power mode.
They say that a second round of aid will be coming, but until we've seen the backside of both Cheeto Mussolini and Kentucky Palpatine, I'm not holding my breath.
Once we entered the long nightmare of "paying rent and insurance on an empty building", we upgraded our network and video infrastructure, went HD with our webcasts, and basically transformed the empty club into a TV studio. We've managed to bring you several DJ performances each week, including Death Guild every Monday, Turbo Drive every first Friday, and a couple of live burlesque and variety performances each month, between Hubba Hubba Revue (every third Saturday, next one on Jan 16) and and Apothecary Raree (every first Friday, next one tomorrow). We've even had a handful of live bands! We've had:
- Centric81 at the May Turbo Drive;
- Crashfaster and E.N. Cowell at the August 8bitSF;
- Flesh Industry in September;
- Starpause, Bleeds and Triss at the September 8bitSF;
- Great Highway, filmed live at DNA for the September Star Crash; and
- Le Fomo filmed live at DNA for the October Star Crash.
All of these streaming shows are supported only by donations, since pay-per-view models for this sort of thing just aren't viable. So please kick in if you can.
We also got some nice press about our webcast series:
- SF Examiner: Keeping DNA Lounge on life support The legendary San Francisco nightclub was already struggling financially. Then COVID-19 happened.
- Broke-Ass Stuart: How DNA Lounge Is Keeping SF Weird During The Pandemic.
- SF Weekly: Trials & Innovations: Live Music During COVID-19. Socially distanced shows, live streams, and new tech won't be enough.
- And, we won "Best Nightclub" again in the 2020 Best of the Bay!
We had just re-vamped our parklet to make it be more comfortable for outdoor dining when Lockdown Two began.
And this year was our 35th Anniversary.
We had plans for that.
Also we have a side business in selling some damned fine face masks.
Now would be a great time for you to join our Patreon, or up your contribution. It's one of the few things helping us keep our head above water. I haven't checked the December numbers yet, but for November I only had to print three new membership cards, which... is low.
Please tune in tonight for Kat Robichaud's Misfit Cabaret! It's an early show, 8pm to 9:30pm, and it should be awesome.
We don't have anything NYE-ish going on at Midnight, really, but after the show we will have our normal program of music videos, and I have set up a countdown overlay! So you can go "Woooo" at home. "Woooooo."
It looks like musicians in the UK have finally noticed that the ongoing Brexit foot-gun disaster has turned "Europe" into a distant, foreign land that requires work visas. In other words, it will now be as difficult for a British band to play Paris or Berlin as it is for them to play San Francisco.
Welcome to The Colonies, you guys! We've been dealing with this shit forever. You have our sympathy.
Brexit will be "catastrophic" for British touring artists, music industry warns:
On fears that the state of play could become similar to that with the US, which recently increased visa costs by 50% with another potential 24% rise looming, Pritchard added: "The American touring model is interesting because it shows us just how costly touring can be for just wanting to play in one country.
"If you want to play a 10-date tour in five different countries across the continent and the costs are anything like what they are in the States, then you're looking at costs of £7,500 per person before you've even left the country. For a minimum touring party of four of you in the band and three in the crew, you're looking at about £45,000. You aren't going to cover that in fees and t-shirt sales." [...]
"If you take t-shirts to sell, then you'd be importing them into the EU and have to report what sold and what hasn't. There were tales from the pre-EU days where you'd take out four pairs of drumsticks, bring back three and they'd charge you for the pair that you'd broken at your gig in Belgium."
But they have a petition, so uh, good luck with that.
For those of you who don't realize what a nightmare it is for small, non-US bands to tour here, here's how it works... Or used to work. In the Before Times, when tours were a thing that still existed.
- Show up on a tourist visa, without instruments. Tell customs you are "visiting friends". Don't even think about bringing a box of t-shirts to sell. Borrow gear, rent a van.
- Hope that every venue and/or promoter is willing to commit tax fraud by paying you in cash and not asking for your IRS form W9 or O-1B Visa.
- Hope that no one at Customs googles your name, because if they do, you get deported and can't enter the US again for any reason for (I think) a minimum of 5 years.
- Apply for a work visa. But that's easy! All you need is to show that you have "extraordinary abilities", and that "have received or been nominated for a significant national award in the field, or prove [you] meet three out of six criteria, including national or international recognition as shown by critical reviews in major newspapers or magazines, evidence of substantial remuneration as shown by contracts, and testimonials from recognized experts in the field in which [you] are engaged."
It costs several hundred dollars, and you have to schedule an in-person interview at your nearest US Embassy.
Oh, also this requires you to know the dates and details of every stop on your tour, a year ahead of time. "But," you say, "nobody books tours that far out." You are correct. Also, dates can't be modified after submitting.
- You won't get a response from the State Department until long after it's time to buy your plane tickets.
- Still no response. Panic. There's nothing you can do, so go ahead and keep panicking.
- Oh, they might deny you because they don't like your t-shirt art. Your tour is cancelled.
- You might not get a response at all before your flight leaves. Oops, now you're not getting on that plane. Your tour is cancelled.
- This is probably where you start getting hate-emails from your fans assuming that you're idiots who fucked up their simple, simple visa paperwork. You probably just sat around getting high instead of filling out a form, you jerks.
Sing it with me, ♬♬ "Everyyyyyyything is terrrrrrible!!"♬♬
Please tune in on on Christmas for the first annual DNA Lounge Yule Log, running for twenty-four hours, midnight to midnight on December 25th! There will also be music along with it -- your requests, via the DNA Pizza Interweb Jukebox -- as well as some hilarious surprises throughout the day.
The original televised Yule Log, airing on NYC's WPIX in 1966, was a 17 second loop of 16mm film. They later remastered it to a whopping six minutes and three seconds. Ours is a bit longer than that.
I spent a ridiculous amount of time editing this together, so I hope you enjoy it.
Keep the fires buring with your donations!
By the way, DNA Pizza is closed today through Friday. We'll be back on Saturday.
ABC is trying to eliminate due process, and make it so that they can unilaterally shut down bars, nightclubs and restaurants on the tiniest pretense, without trial or any realistic hope of appeal or recourse. They are using COVID as cover for this, but it's simply an unrelated, brazen power-grab.
In what beverage attorneys are calling a potential repeal of due process, the ABC is trying to implement a new emergency regulation that would allow any outlet to be shut down without a right to a trial before hand.
John Hinman, a San Francisco-based partner in the law firm of Hinman & Carmichael LLC, says the new regulation is[being pushed forward with Covid being used as an excuse for its implementation. He and several other attorneys don't think that communities need any more "protection," from on- and off-premise establishments than prior to the pandemic. [...]
The Proposed Rule sweeps much more broadly, establishing a general-purpose guillotine the department may wield against any licensee who violates any provision of law during a declared state of emergency," shares Ralph Saltsman, a partner at the Playa Del Rey, California-based Solomon, Saltsman and Jamieson legal firm.
Hinman compares this regulation's presence on the books to punishment before due process. With the new regulation, businesses could be shut down without a right to a trial. They are also likely to stay closed for the period leading up to one, which could push many smaller operations beyond their financial comfort zones.
From Hinman's blog, where he has been writing about this and other ABC shenanigans for quite some time:
Hearings for all violations subject to "emergency orders" would occur only if the ABC agrees to hold a hearing, the licensee could appear "if practicable" and discipline (license suspensions and revocations) would be imposed immediately. The new rules do not go away if the COVID 19 "emergency" goes away. From now on an "emergency" is anything the ABC says is an "emergency." [...]
The ABC is using the COVID 19 crisis as an excuse to implement a system of permanent "emergency" orders that would abrogate licensee rights to defend themselves and their licenses in administrative proceedings.
I know that this month has been quite a year, but it was only last month that there was the report about ABC running a sting operation where they shut down random restaurants because of mistakes made by Grubhub and not the restaurant.
Like I said last time,
ABOLISH THE ABC.
They are monsters. They are an abusive gang of thugs, propped up by prohibitionist, fundamentalist nutjobs like The Marin Institute and MADD, and are actively hostile to everyone in the industry that they supposedly regulate.
It's as if the Egg Council had a nakedly anti-egg agenda.
All that being said, please order our cocktails!
Pictured above: the Sazerac, Black Manhattan and Betelgeuse! They are delicious, and available for pick-up and delivery from DNA Pizza, every day from 4pm to 10pm.
No ABC agents, please.
Anyway, this game tells us that in the dystopian future, pineapple on pizza is illegal.
That's how you know it's a dystopia, folks.
I guess that's one way that their dystopian cyberpunk "future" differs from our dystopian cyberpunk present.
So order some DNA Pizza today. Open for pickup or delivery every day from 4pm to 10pm. The Fancy Hawaiian is great. And very fancy.