Last night, at the circus:
"A patron could t find his wife. Called 911.
Then found her at the balcony bar.
The patron called 911 back and cancelled the car."
Some recent photo galleries:
(Update: OMG, they uploaded even more -- now it's a total of 1,565 photos for this one small event. That's 3.5 photos per person. WTF.)
Hey, we'd like to do another Cyberdelia (our Hackers party) again this year, but we need a new corporate sponsor. This party has a lot of expensive overhead, so last year we were able to cover costs by making it be someone's official RSA / B-Sides after party. It went great.
But this year, sadly, that company has dropped out. Their lawyers said they can't sponsor anything that involves alcohol, so their after party has to be held somewhere that you can't get a drink at all. (Yeah, I don't get it either.)
So if your company would be interested, or if you have any suggestions of someone who might, please let me know! We've asked around but have had no bites so far. Target dates would probably be Apr 15 or 17.
Slim's and Great American Music Hall recently announced that they will be "partnering" with Golden Voice. That's a euphemism for "turning over most or all control of what events go on the calendar". Basically they are outsourcing booking to another company. I'm sure they have their reasons, but this makes me really sad.
I have no intention of picking on the Slim's team, whom I have the utmost respect and sympathy for, but...
I'm here to tell you that monopolies are bad. They are bad for consumer choice, they are bad for ticket pricing, they are bad for artists getting paid, they are bad for your local music scene, and they are bad for our culture as a whole.
To explain why, first let me start with some numbers. Here is who owns what when it comes to live music in San Francisco:
- Live Nation Entertainment ($9 billion)
- Owns TicketMaster (who sell 80% of all tickets in the US).
- Formerly a division of Clear Channel (who own essentially all US radio stations).
- Owns 117 venues, 75 in the US.
- Exclusively books 33 additional venues.
- Owns House of Blues (14 locations).
- Owns their own record label, Live Nation Artists.
- Books SF Masonic Auditorium (3,500 capacity).
- Owns The Fillmore (1,200 capacity).
AEG: Anschutz Entertainment Group ($8 billion)
- Largest owner of sports teams and events in the world.
- Second largest music promoter after Live Nation.
- Own many arenas worldwide.
- Owns AXS, a concert ticket vendor.
- Owns Coachella (600,000 attendance).
- Owns part of Bottle Rock (120,000 attendance).
- Runs around ten other large music festivals.
- Owned by a Fundamentalist, homophobic, climate change denier.
Golden Voice, a division of AEG
- Books Coachella (600,000 attendance).
- Books The Warfield (2,300 capacity).
- Books The Regency Center (1,400 capacity).
- Books Social Hall SF (600 capacity).
- Owns 12 other venues in LA.
- Books Slim's (500 capacity).
- Books Great American Music Hall (600 capacity).
- Runs Outside Lands (200,000 attendance).
- Runs (ran?) Treasure Island Music Festival (30,000 attendance).
- Books The Greek Theatre (8,500 capacity).
- Books Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (8,500 capacity).
- Books Fox Theatre (2,900 capacity).
- Books The Independent [sic] (500 capacity, 21+).
- Is also an artist management business.
So that leaves us with the remaining independent live music venues in San Francisco:
- DNA Lounge (800 capacity) & Above DNA (300 capacity)
- Mezzanine (800 capacity, 21+)
- Bimbo's (680 capacity)
- Elbo Room (600 capacity, 21+)
- Neck of the Woods (500 capacity, 21+)
- Public Works (500 capacity, 21+)
- The Chapel (400 capacity)
- Rickshaw Stop (350 capacity)
- Cafe du Nord / Swedish American Hall (300 capacity)
- Bottom of the Hill (250 capacity)
- Brick and Mortar (250 capacity)
- Bender's (200 capacity, 21+)
- Eagle Tavern (150 capacity, 21+)
- El Rio (150 capacity, 21+)
- Thee Parkside (100 capacity)
- Milk Bar (100 capacity, 21+)
- Hotel Utah (90 capacity, 21+)
- Hemlock (80 capacity, 21+)
(I'm sure I have accidentally omitted some venues, but I think I got most of the SF venues that regularly host live music by touring acts. I've omitted venues that exclusively host DJ dance parties, because that's a bit of a different business.)
Even omitting all of the massive music festivals, three $17+ billion dollar corporations control somewhere around 80% of all available "seats" for live shows in SF and Oakland.
So what's the problem?
Let's start with a hypothetical.
Let's say you're an agent trying to book a tour for your band. You decide how many days they want to be on the road, how many cities they want to try and hit, and then you start sending out emails to find out what dates are available so you can figure out the routing. Let's say your first call is to some venue in New York, and the talent buyer there says, "As it happens, I also book venues in 15 other cities, so I can put your whole tour on the calendar right now, how's that?" What a relief! So much less work! But then an independent operator in, oh, let's say San Francisco gets in touch with you and says, "I hear your band is going out on tour soon! We love those guys and would like to bid on the show." But then what happens? The corporate talent buyer says to you, "Look, I was giving you a great deal on these 15 dates, but if you want to take your business to my competition instead of taking the full package that I offered you, the price is going to go up. And also, maybe some of those dates are no longer available for you."
So you write back to the small fry, who may have even offered you more money for that particular date, and you say, "Sorry, maybe next time."
Or, let's say you're an agent and you represent a band with a huge draw, as well as a bunch of smaller bands. You're trying to get your bigger band booked on the summer festival circuit, so you're trying to pitch them as big up-and-comers to the agencies booking the festivals. Maybe these guys have been playing 2,000 capacity rooms and you're trying to get them their big break: a late afternoon set in front of a captive audience of 10,000. So while that conversation is ongoing, you are also trying to book a tour for a different, smaller band. You're thinking of putting them in an independent venue who are offering you a good deal, but the festival buyer also books dozens of smaller venues, and you sure don't want to piss them off, because that could mean your job. So instead, you go with the corporate-controlled smaller room as well, regardless of its merits.
"Well that's just business, that's just playing hard-ball." Sure. It's also bad for art, and bad for local businesses. It consolidates control and profit in whatever company controls the routing, even if they don't live in your town. It homogenizes everything.
This is how you end up with venues in dozens of different cities who all have the same calendar. This venue in Portland has the same lineup as that venue in Seattle, just shifted by two days, and so on. Obviously a venue's character is defined by more than just what's on the calendar... but the calendar is a pretty big part.
And those are only examples of how corporate consolidation is bad for the booking side of things. Multi-venue booking agencies also tend to own or have exclusivity deals with ticketing companies as well. Live Nation owns TicketMaster. AEG owns AXS Ticketing and partners with eBay's StubHub. You wanted to use a different ticketing service that you think has better features, or fees, or marketing reach? Sorry, not part of the package. So a monopoly or near monopoly in one industry, booking, squashes competition in another industry, ticketing. That's the very definition of antitrust.
And then there's Live Nation's cozy relationship with their former owner, Clear Channel -- who control the playlists of basically every radio station, and also own most of the billboards.
Plus, much of the time these conglomerates also manage the bands themselves: so in the examples above where the band's agent was talking to a venue's talent buyer? Now they're the same person! And often that company also has a financial stake in a record label. So the same company:
- Signs the band;
- Manages the band;
- Decides how much radio play the band gets;
- Promotes the band's tour;
- Owns the billboards in every city on the tour route;
- Owns all of the venues on the tour route;
- Sells all of the tickets, merchandise, and alcohol.
Good luck trying to compete against that kind of vertical integration.
Back in 2009, when Representative Bill Pascrell tried (and failed) to block Live Nation from merging with TicketMaster, he said:
Under the proposed merger, the combined company would have control over nearly every aspect of the live music business: artist management, record sales, promotion, licensing, venue control, parking, ticket sales and resales, all the way down to the hot dogs and beer. According to James Hurwitz of the American Antitrust Institute:
"If the combination is permitted, [the merged company] will have a powerful or dominant position in virtually all of the industry's markets. Viewed in combination, the merger will give Live Nation Entertainment unarguable control of most competition within the industry."
The companies, if merged, would be over five times more powerful than their next eight rivals combined.
The proposed merger would create a vertically integrated entity whose power would extend across five of the industry's six main markets. An entrant or competitor in any of these markets would face the merged firm not only as a market rival, but also as a power in other critically related markets. A new promoter, for example, needs artists willing to perform and venues appropriate for staging the event. A new venue needs artists and promoters willing to book the facility. The vertically integrated firm can withhold these critical inputs, and its rival will suffer.
To avoid such problems, an entrant would need to enter the industry on several levels at once, a burden that makes entry far more daunting and costly. The combined entity could therefore use its five-market vertical integration to restrain trade both by chilling entry and disciplining rivals.
I'm sure the Slim's and Great American Music Hall team had compelling reasons for making the deal that they did. I assume it was a matter of survival. Much like DNA Lounge, Slim's has never been a self-sustainable business. They don't talk about it much, but it's not exactly a secret. They only way that Slim's has been able to remain in business for three decades is because of regular, large infusions of cash from their patrons, Boz Scaggs and Warren Hellman. Since Slim's bought GAMH in 2000, the same has been true of GAMH as well.
Warren Hellman was a great and generous supporter of the arts in many ways, but since he passed away in 2011, I assume the money tap has begun to dry up. Or their expenses have increased and become untenable. I don't know, I'm guessing.
But you only sink decades of your life into a money-losing business if it is a labor of love. I assure you, these folks haven't just been sitting around looking for their big chance to cash out.
Some people, Libertarians and other Free Market absolutists, will look at this and say, "Well this means that independent live music venues are not sustainable businesses in San Francisco, therefore it is right and proper that they should go out of business or be sold off for parts." That's like saying, "Well I guess you just don't deserve to live in San Francisco unless you earn over $150,000 per year: have you tried just not being poor?"
Diverse and extensive entertainment options are a huge part of what makes San Francisco what it is. Or was. Without that, we're just another bedroom community for Mountain View.
I understand that the Slim's crew are soon moving out of their offices in the Slim's building on Eleventh Street, and consolidating into the offices inside GAMH. I assume that they need less space -- and fewer employees -- now that they are no longer booking their own calendar.
If you'd like to prevent DNA Lounge from having to make a similar Faustian bargain some day -- and believe me, we've discussed it -- there's a way you can help: contribute to our Patreon. Show up. And get your friends to show up.
Hooray! We are 100% in support of this, of course. I wrote about this last year, but the bill has finally been introduced. You can help by contacting your senators and assembly members to express support.
Today Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) announced the introduction of Senate Bill 905, which will allow -- but not require -- cities to extend sales of alcohol at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants (but not liquor stores) to as late as 4 a.m. The new 5-year pilot program version of the LOCAL Act, which stands for Let Our Communities Adjust Late-Night, preserves complete local control in terms of decision-making and applies only to the six cities whose Mayors have expressed interest in pursuing later hours: San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood, and Long Beach.
Last year, a different version of this bill authored by Senator Wiener (allowing local control throughout California), passed the Senate with a 2/3 bipartisan vote and garnered significant support in the Assembly. Unfortunately, the bill was "held" by the chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee and not submitted for a vote by that committee. At the time, Senator Wiener vowed to bring back this effort to support nightlife. [...]
SB 905 does not automatically extend alcohol sale hours in these six cities -- it simply creates the option for the cities to choose to extend hours. As with the previous bill, cities will have significant flexibility and can, for example, limit extended hours only to certain neighborhoods, only to certain nights of the week, or only to a few nights a year. Local governments still will have to create and approve a plan, which ABC will also have to approve, to allow for later service hours with full community input. The bill also has a five-year sunset, which means the effects of allowing later service hours can be evaluated and then renewed or discontinued after five years. The full text of the bill can be found here. [...]
Ben Bleiman, California Music and Culture Association and the San Francisco Bar Owners Alliance: "This will would - finally! - allow these California cities who chose to do so to extend their operating hours to match other world-class nightlife cities in the U.S.A and abroad. Currently, we are at a huge disadvantage when competing with cities like Chicago, Washington D.C., New York City, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Miami Beach, and New Orleans, all of whom have late-night service hours beyond 2 a.m."
Joe D'Alessandro, President and CEO of San Francisco Travel Association: "Tourism is San Francisco's number one industry providing significant economic benefits to the people and workforce of our City and our important small business network. Permitting bars to extend their hours allows San Francisco to stay competitive in the night life scene with cities such as New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C. who are all vying for a share of the business, leisure and convention market."
Jim Lazarus, senior vice president of public policy for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce: "We should determine at a city level how to best attract and support local nightlife businesses. We can't take a one size fits all approach when it comes to nightlife in San Francisco neighborhoods. What's best for one neighborhood might not be best for another, and this legislation allows us to capitalize on nightlife as an economic driver, increase jobs and local tax revenue, when deemed appropriate in a specific area of the City."
There's was some Q&A on his Twitter before the lunatic fringe showed up:
@Scott_Wiener Each city will decide for itself whether or not to go later. @aclimbingnerd Why is San Diego being left out? @Scott_Wiener B/c there was significant opposition from San Diego & little support. It was clear San Diego was never going to adopt later hours. The opposition from cities that would never adopt it anyway was jeopardizing the whole bill. So we limited it to cities whose mayors say they want it @aclimbingnerd Thanks for the response, as a resident of San Diego I'm always amazed by the resistance to (in my opinion) common sense ideas in San Diego. @x thank you! How do we support this? Will help us service industry ppl & make roads safer! @Scott_Wiener Thanks! People you know around the state should contact their senators and assembly members to express support. @x thx! Think it helps if you explain this isn't just about drinking but business (more opportunities), safety (no rush of driving at 2am - stretches out times ppl can head home), and options (things to do/eat for service industry & Late hour workers like me). @jonwiley Any provision to enable future cities to opt-in without having to pass another bill? @Scott_Wiener No. We included the entire state in our effort last year & a lot of cities that would never even consider doing this still opposed the bill. It made no sense to me, but that's how it went. So this is a 5 year pilot in 6 cities. When the pilot ends the program can be expanded. @prince_erin I understand the economical standpoint but what research has been done in regards to public safety? Longer booze time means people can drink more. How will this impact dui's? @Scott_Wiener There's no evidence that increased service hours increases drunk driving. Comparing last call time to rates of DUI collisions in all 50 states shows zero correlation. If people are going to leave a bar drunk, they're going to do it whether they leave at 8 pm, midnight, 2, or 4. @dukoid Bars closing at 2am was really the strangest thing for me when visiting the land @CaliSeaShepherd Does this mean that only voters in these cities will have a say at the ballot box, or does all CA vote on it?
Or, "That time I dressed as the Dazzle Booth in the Dazzle Booth."
It's by the Main Room front door, but I went with a Dazzle Room interior because lighter backdrops work better than the usual DNA Lounge green-on-black hotness.
This is going to get messy, I'm sure. Please proceed with the self-mortification. It is Mortified tonight, after all.
I sunk a whole bunch of time in to trying to build my own photo booth a couple of times over the last decade, and each time I ended up giving up because solving the basic vending machine problem of "take cash or card, dispense candy" was just too much of a pain in the ass, so we finally just went with an outside vendor, Photo-Matica. We only get a portion of the money, but they maintain the printer, so, fair trade. (Pro tip: printers are a gigantic pain in the butt.)
I'm told that this cabinet started off its life as a chemical film-based photo booth, some time in the previous century, and they refurbished it with the usual digital features.
(This is where 2018 says "Hold my beer".)
So, if you're not doing anything this afternoon, and/or you don't like wearing pants, we are again the official before- and after-party of the 17th Annual No Pants Subway Ride! Help maintain our town's level of WTFfery.
Recent highlights: the Skating Polly show was fantastic. You should check them out.
Hotline was great fun as always, though it unfortunately suffered the attendance curse of being on the Friday of New Year's weekend. They brought in a snow machine! It looked amazing, but I'm afraid to ask what the "snow" was made of.
Every year, Bootie's NYE flyer contains references to a selection of the year's trending topics, and this year they included The Monopoly Man, the "cause-player" famous for photo-bombing the Equifax hearings, among other recent kleptocratic antics. When I noticed that, I messaged them on Twitter saying, "Hey look, you're on our flyer!" They responded, "Awesome, are you flying me out?" And A+D decided that the answer was yes! So that's awesome.
As I mentioned last time, December and January are typically really slow months for us: we're open less, and far fewer people show up. So now would be a fantastic time for you to contribute to our Patreon. I know a lot of people have it rough at the end of the year, but it's always worrying when I see a bunch of our patrons editing their pledges downward, without new members joining in. Our monthly Patreon pledges have actually dropped several hundred bucks a month since October, and we've had only a couple of new sign-ups in months.
Back in April I lamented how I don't really know how to promote the Patreon, and wouldn't it be awesome if someone with some graphic design and/or marketing skill could help out with that, but that person has not yet materialized, so as with so many things, I guess if I don't do it, it won't get done... so I half-assed it. Which is better than no-assing it. I just picked some amusing photos from our gallery and slapped "SUPPORT DNA LOUNGE" and the Patreon URL on them, and started posting those once a day.
So, when you see those go by, please give them a Share or RT or whatnot. With the way the social mediators work these days, nobody's going to see them if other people don't muster up some "engagement".
I haven't done a photo gallery dump since mid-November, so here it is!
I hope you love it so much that you share it with all of your friends so many times over the next few weeks that they get so sick of seeing it that they go fiiiiiine I'll donate already, geeeez!"
Even though we're now a Legacy Business, we still need your financial help. Hopefully you've been enjoying those awesome sound upgrades that we just made, but they did not come cheap. As I mentioned on the occasion of our thirty-second anniversary (!!!) in addition to this traditionally being a very slow time of the year for our business, we also recently had some really expensive equipment failures and plumbing disasters to contend with. So we very much could use your help.
But of course one of the best things you can do is to just show up! And bring your friends. We've got a lot of cool stuff going on this month, check it out:
Anyway, blurbs. Santa wants you to write blurbs.
We do a number of DJ events, and it's always difficult getting blurbs written for them. Most of them just have a repeating blurb describing the party in general terms, without describing the artists at any particular event.
For some parties, that makes plenty of sense. Some parties are the sort of event where people show up on the reputation of the party itself, and the majority of them don't have a particular interest in who is DJing that night: they just know that the music they will hear is their kind of thing.
But there are other parties where the headliners are touring DJs, and people care deeply about them in particular. When I look at the comments on these parties' Facebook events and on Twitter I see a lot of people being extremely concerned about set times, because they're here for that one particular DJ that they really don't want to miss. It seems to me that parties like Control, Acid Rain, and So Stoked are very much the kind of events where the specific DJs tend to have enthusiastic fans of them personally.
But we rarely end up having blurbs for the headliners. If the promoters do write a blurb for the specific event instead of re-using the generic one, it's typically just, "Come party party party mind blown party" without any, you know, adjectives. (Hey, blurbs are hard to write. And the artists themselves rarely bother writing their own bios.)
Even though our traditional division of labor with outside promoters is that we run the venue and they, you know, promote, it's a group effort, and we try to help out in any way we can. So we do things like sending email to past ticket buyers saying, "Hey, you bought tickets for Control last time, with DJ So-and-So, the next one is coming up with DJ Other-Guy." But these emails go out and.... they don't tell you anything about DJ Other-Guy, because nobody wrote that blurb.
I gotta believe that if someone is obsessive about DJ So-and-So but have never heard of DJ Other-Guy, that there are words we could say to them that would improve the odds of them coming to the show.
Are you a musical obsessive who enjoys many of the modern forms of EDM that we've been hosting here of late?
Would you like to write short blurbs for us? Mail me!
Compensation will be proportionate with how good at it you are!
Omar has been writing them for our rock shows and doing a great job of it, but we could really use some help on the dance music side.
What's a Legacy Business, you ask? It's a San Francisco program to help historic small businesses stay open, in the face of the changes the city is going through. The Office of Small Business says:
Legacy Businesses Anchor San Francisco Neighborhoods
San Francisco is a world-class city known for its many distinctive neighborhoods. Contributing to the uniqueness of the city are the people, architecture, streetscape, geography, weather, transportation, history, culture -- and businesses. San Francisco wouldn't be San Francisco without its many independent, locally-owned businesses.
In her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs remarked on the importance of neighborhood businesses: "The trust of a city street is formed over time from many, many little public sidewalk contacts. It grows out of people stopping by at the bar for a beer, getting advice from the grocer and giving advice to the newsstand man, comparing opinions with other customers at the bakery and nodding hello to the two boys drinking pop on the stoop."
Our neighborhood businesses -- including retailers, service providers, manufacturers, nonprofit organizations, and more -- are the places that give the city its character. They're the bedrock of our communities and a draw for tourists from around the world.
Preserving our legacy businesses is critical to maintaining what it is that makes San Francisco a special place.
This is a great program, and I'm glad San Francisco does things like this! It's a breath of fresh air, given how difficult it is to run a business in this town for so many reasons.
Businesses that qualify and are approved become eligible for certain grants, including some that behave a bit like rent control. (You may not realize that rent control doesn't exist for commercial leases: it's a residential thing only. Commercial leases have no restrictions, by state law.)
So this is great news, and we're in the process of looking in to that whole grant situation.
In the meantime, I thought I'd share with you our application to the program. I had to write a long essay explaining the first thirty-two years of our history. You've probably read some of this before -- there was some cutting and pasting, and it's a little repetitive because of their submission format -- but it's a more concise version of our long history than what has appeared in other places:
DNA Lounge: Legacy Business
h. How would the community be diminished if the business were to be sold, relocated, shut down, etc.?
Because we take chances on such a wide variety of events, losing DNA Lounge would mean that those events would have a difficult time finding new homes. Some of them would probably end up in underground, unlicensed and unsafe spaces. Some might not happen at all.
Many different subcultures have made their home here over the years, and would find it tragic to have to scatter to multiple less-welcoming places.
Due to the concentration of entertainment businesses on Eleventh Street, all of the businesses benefit from each others' presence. For example, DNA Lounge's restaurant always gets more business when Slim's has a show, and Butter gets a lot of business from folks who begin their evening there before heading across the street to DNA Lounge. If DNA Lounge were not here, it would significantly reduce the number of people patronizing our part of SOMA. The fact that our block is bright and loud and active is part of what makes it safe.
a. Describe the business and the essential features that define its character.
DNA Lounge is an all-ages nightclub, concert venue, and 24 hour restaurant and cafe. We have four different performance spaces, including two stages.
The thing that most defines the character of DNA Lounge is the diversity of entertainment we host here. Whereas most venues specialize on either live concerts or dance parties, we have always regularly done a mixture of both, as well as other kinds of stage performances, lecture series, circuses, robotic exhibitions, dance performances, hair shows. We always strive to provide a home for a whole lot of truly amazing art.
We've had many years of the most diverse, weird, interesting calendar of any venue anywhere.
Hooray! Go us!
Here's what Devon has to say about the work he did over the last few weeks:
The Main room has a new Midas M32 live mixing console, and a new BSS Soundweb London BLU-100 main system processor. The Midas board, with it's legendary pre-amps, brings a big upgrade in live sound quality for live shows. Plus it's compatible with the X32, a board that a lot of bands are touring with these days, so they can just load their show file from a USB stick instead of having to haul in their entire board.
We reconfigured and re-tuned the entire system from scratch over the course of several days. The highs and mids have an astonishing clarity and presence unlike anything we've had in that room. Subtle textures and details in the music pop out like we've never had before in this room. Everything is really clean, and not harsh at all at high volumes. The subwoofers got a 20% increase in power by switching from one 4,000 watt amp to two 2,400 watt amps left over from Codeword. This also changed the impedance from 2 ohms to 4 ohms, which should make for tighter bass, too.
We were able to put some really narrow cuts at the frequencies that made the ventilation ducts rattle, which makes the room sound a little cleaner. The bass is much deeper and punchier, able to hit you in the chest pretty hard. Even at low volumes, the room feels a lot bigger and more present. You can still feel the bass even when the levels are low enough for quiet conversation on the dancefloor.
We replaced the Lounge's subwoofer amp, giving it a noticeable bump in power. The room was also re-tuned a little bit, making it sound better and more even overall.
We replaced the two older EAW subs under the Above DNA stage with three of the JBL subs salvaged from Codeword. It's a change from two horn-loaded 12" subs to three front-loaded 15" subs. The room was re-tuned from scratch and is a lot cleaner, with way more bass than before. The low end used to taper off a bit about halfway to the bar, but now it carries all the way to the back of the room. Overall, the room sounds a lot bigger.
The Dazzle Room got the fourth subwoofer from Codeword, which helps fill in some much-needed low end. We did a bit of re-EQing on the mains for better clarity.
So, you should come by and check it out...
Happy DNA Lounge Day! This club opened on November 22, 1985.
In honor of this joyous occasion, I'll tell you some sad stories about finances.
Codeword closed at the end of July, which means that August was the first month in which we didn't have to pay rent over there or otherwise subsidize that operation. Our bookkeepers finalized the August books last week, and guess what, we managed to lose $60,000 that month anyway!
How are we still so fucked? I have no idea.
Well, the answer is "not enough people are showing up", but I don't know what to do about it.
And now that Halloween weekend is over, we enter the Dark Times. Our business always drops precipitously between Halloween and New Year's Eve. Basically we can only count on those two "good" weekends from November through January. People just don't go out.
Some venues manage to make up the end-of-year slump by getting a bunch of corporate holiday parties. We've never managed to do that effectively. We typically only book a couple of them. Hey, want do you your company party here? That would be awesome...
Remember last month when we had that $6,000 plumbing incident with the jackhammers? Well last week, our Soundweb died again. Soundweb is the digital audio processing system that runs the whole sound system back-end. The product has been out of production for years, so we've been living off of eBay'ed spare parts for quite some time. That trick isn't really working any more, so now we have to upgrade to the new thing in a hurry. That cost about $3,000. And then mere days later, our live sound board died. The replacement for that is about $4,000.
And look at that, suddenly that's $13,000 of "emergency" repairs in a single four week period.
We should spin this as "look at all these great sound system upgrades that we've done!" but really it's, "look at all this crap that broke that we absoutely cannot afford to replace right now, except that if we don't, we can't open the doors!"
Also we're still trying to sell our two broken espresso machines, in the hope of using that money to buy one working one -- meaning our cafe still has no espresso drinks. Nobody is biting on the sale so far, though. Here's the eBay listing; pass it on if you know someone in the market for one. Fun fact: espresso machines cost more than mixing consoles.
We did manage to find a buyer for the Codeword liquor license, hooray! But that's contingent on ABC paperwork, so it will probably be more than six months before we see that money.
"How are pizza deliveries going?" I will now pretend that you asked. Not great. Even though we've had online ordering and late-night delivery up and running again for a few months now, our delivery business is down 75% compared to this time last year. Now, our delivery business has always been a relatively small part of the restaurant's overall revenue, but we're still talking about thousands of dollars per month. It's hard to guess why that business hasn't returned.
Possibly it's because Eat24 has the lion's share of the market, and since we can't use them for ordering any more, none of their customers manage to find us? The sites we are using are GrubHub (they are the more popular service, but they only deliver until 11pm); Postmates (they deliver 24 hours!) and DoorDash. (they deliver until 5am).
As far as we can tell, the only other sites that actually do deliveries (rather than taking orders only) are caviar.com and waiter.com but both of them seem to be ignoring us.
Oh, I understand that the Codeword space is now going to be... a sports bar.
We have some fancy new furniture in the restaurant! They are "Taybles". I ordered them from a Kickstarter almost a year go, back when Codeword was still open, thinking they'd go well there. But they finally shipped this weekend, because that's how Kickstarters go...
They have some features that are nice for a coffee table in your home, but less nice when turning our customers loose on them. The cupholders are removable, so I glued those in and drilled drain holes in the bottom. And the "tape" side of it flips open and has a little storage area inside. At home, you might store your remote control there. In a restaurant, that's where drunks will chuck their leftover pizza to rot. So I had to seal all of those openings. Also I put taller, stronger legs on them.
The tape label is a dry-erase surface, but I'm sure it will be unrepairably tagged in no time, because people are terrible. So, I don't expect these to survive for very long here, but oh well, I already paid for them. Enjoy them while they last!
And if the tape comes out, please use a giant pencil to wind it back in.
Upcoming shows of note:
And then Saturday we have Koi Division, the world's greatest fish-pun-themed Joy Division tribute band! It's going to be kind of like that time Ian Curtis rode a roller coaster:
Here's something that hasn't happened in a while: Hubba Hubba Revue got a cease-and-desist nastygram from a lawyer for calling their recent animal-themed burlesque show "Wild Kingdom". (Did you know that show is still on the air? Neither did I!) Oh, trademark lawyers. They are so lovely, and not in any way parasitic blights:
Trademarks: the good, the bad and the ugly:
Genericide is rare, though. Microsoft doesn't advertise "google it on Bing!" and Miele doesn't sell a line of "hoovers." Genericide is mostly a spectre, and like all spectres, it serves a purpose.
That purpose? Full employment for trademark lawyers.
Trademark lawyers have convinced their clients that they must pay to send a threatening notice to everyone who uses a trademark without permission, even where there is no chance of confusion. They send letters by the lorryload to journalists, website operators, signmakers, schools, dictionary publishers -- anyone who might use their marks in a way that weakens the association in the public mind. But weakening an association is not illegal, despite the expansion of doctrines such as "dilution" and "naked licensing."
When called out on policing our language, trademark holders and their lawyers usually shrug their shoulders and say, "Nothing to do with us. The law requires us to threaten you, or we lose our association, and thus our mark." This is a very perverse way of understanding trademark.
So we have retconned that show to be called "Hubba Hubba Revue: Cease & Desist: Formerly The One With Animals".
Of which there are photos. But first, the last of the Halloween photos have come in: