I just added a User Account system to the DNA Lounge store. So now when you buy tickets, you can enter a new password too, and it will create an account for you. The next time you log in, it will remember your card and your billing address, so next time, you just log in and hit Buy.
I've wanted this for years, but I kept putting off implementing it because it just sounded like a pain in the ass. There are a lot of moving parts: verifying email addresses, "forgotten password" emails, login throttling, etc. I would periodically search around for some PHP library I could just drop in, but no such luck. The relevant libraries out there all have a list of dependencies as long as your arm, and also mostly seem like someone's "learning experience".
I previously tried to get most of the way there by just having the store save your billing address (but not card) in the browser's localStorage, so at least you wouldn't have to re-enter that. But that wasn't terribly helpful. From what I'm seeing in the logs, it appears that iOS devices tend to erase localStorage pretty frequently: I was seeing months-old session cookies, yet purged storage.
Anyway, I finally just said "fuck it" and knocked out 2000 lines of code in a couple of days. I think it works pretty well. Shit, I think people get VC funding for less. Anyway, let me know if you find any bugs.
Wherein a winnar is us:
BEST BAR THAT CONSTANTLY INVENTS NEW CURRENT-EVENT INSPIRED COCKTAILS -- DNA Lounge
You'll only find cocktails named R. Kelly's Tears or the Papa Smurf Cocksucker at DNA Lounge, whose seven -- count 'em! -- seven bars invent original cocktails with names taken straight from the headlines or the material being performed that night on stage. The home of Bootie SF, Hubba Hubba Revue, and Mortified started naming cocktails after internet memes during the "Shut up Woman! Get on My Horse!" craze of 2009, and they've since started mixing political-themed cocktails like the Self Vaxxer or Sing This Collusion To Me. The Valar Starbuckus was recently added after a famous prop accident on a popular zombies-and-dragons TV program.
Both Tempest and Star Wars are dead. I dunno, it's almost as if 40 year old hardware that was designed for a 3 year lifespan has reliability problems! Tempest's monitor died and I thought I had fixed it but I was wrong and now It think something else is wrong too. Star Wars is having a power supply problem, I think, maybe. Investigations are ongoing.
Oh, but I did put better coin mechs in all four games, so they should jam up less often. Also I put an NVRAM kit in Pac-Man so that it remembers its high score -- and someone racked up 134,000 last week, which is a pretty respectable score. We're making over a HUNDRED BUCKS A MONTH on these things!! The rains have come and the crops are saved!!
You may have noticed that we're closed tonight, and last night: both rooms dark on a Friday, and a Thursday. That's just fucking tragic. It's because we literally could not find a single event that would have been able to draw 100 people. So yeah, maybe collecting quarters is what we've been reduced to.
Incidentally, we only had three new sign-ups for our Patreon last month, so now would be a great time for you to up your contribution.
You know how we used to sell dog tags? Well if you have one, hang onto it, because they're unobtainium now. We can't find any manufacturer who can reproduce them these days. The old ones had the logo etched into the metal: it wasn't deep, but you could tell, there was some physicality to it. But what all of the dog tag manufactures these days call "etching" is more like "we painted it with enamel, and then lightly scraped off some of the paint". They're awful, so we've discontinued them rather than being awful.
Actually I use the word "sell" loosely here, because over the last two decades we've sold about a hundred of them online, but many thousands of them have left the building...
Keeping it Real:
The other day I was chatting with a guy who said something very flattering about us. He said, "I work at a club in San Jose and we sometimes do events like this but... down there it always feels like 'an EDM party in a club." But at DNA, it's a rave!"
So kudos to our staff for that! It's a very fine line to walk when allowing a party to feel "underground" while also keeping people safe, and they've been doing a great job of it.
The ongoing dismantling of San Francisco's local music scene:
Hey, you want to see something depressing? Hemlock has finally been literally demolished:
Here's a great article about those blatantly criminal enterprises that we euphemistically call "Delivery" "Services". They're just the worst. No, wait, Twitter is the worst. No, wait, I mean Facebook is the worst. Oh there's just no bottom, is there.
Custard's Last Stand: Mission Pie vs. the gig economy
Heisler's workforce is all employees. They have health insurance. She hands over payroll taxes and, additionally, with more than 20 employees, she and her co-owner Krystin Rubin are subject to any number of "employer mandates" this city has chosen to impose on its resident businesses.
Well, some of those businesses: The app-based food delivery outfits do not tend to categorize their workers as employees. They do not tend to offer workers healthcare. They do not tend to pay the requisite employment taxes. They do not deem themselves subject to employer mandates. And yet they claim their pound of flesh from brick-and-mortar establishments that pay all these taxes and do all these things.
"If this was a fair competition, I would be willing to accept it if the consumers didn't want what I had to offer," Heisler says. "But I am not willing to accept being outcompeted by virtue of another sector being given a pass when it comes to compliance with the law."
"We will not participate. We will not be extorted from."
[...] As such, Newsom's message in the wake of the Dynamex ruling hasn't been "enforce the law." It's been about collaboration and conciliation and creating a blue-ribbon panel to "expand worker opportunity."
That's fun. One could argue that the state Supreme Court's ruling already did just that.
Somehow I missed this, but a few months ago Kenny Hoff posted his video of last July's Cocktail Robotics Grand Challenge!
Here's the timeline of the interviews and demos, in case you wanna skip around to your favorites:
- 0:02:20 The Dude Imbibes
- 0:04:05 Shock Bot
- 0:05:28 Kamikaze Blaster (Second Place Winner!)
- 0:07:45 PenguinGuyCool92 (First Place Winner!)
- 0:08:46 TikiTron (Third Place Winner!)
- 0:10:50 N. E. BREE-8
- 0:14:12 Tikitron again
- 0:14:44 Booze Vaporator
- 0:15:55 The Tea Engine
- 0:18:02 Whiskeyball
- 0:21:20 Steve the Bartending Robot
- 0:23:17 Our judges: Hep Svadja, Tomas Puig, Jillian Ogle, Doug Dalton
The sixth annual Cocktail Robotics Grand Challenge is coming up on Sunday, July 21, so please get your robots ready and sign up! (I know it's early, but we've only had one robot officially sign up so far. Don't leave me hanging...)
The date for the sixth annual Cocktail Robotics Grand Challenge has been announced: Sunday, July 21!
Do you like ROBOTS? And DRINKING? Experience incredible robot bartenders serving you drinks, lovingly crafted with MAD SCIENCE by the finest competitors in the art of robotics and bartending.
If you're thinking about building a robot, that's closer than you think! As always, please reduce my anxiety by signing up with your robot early instead of the week before. Please?
Oh yeah, also I got Tempest working, and there was much rejoicing.
It's been a little while since I did a photo dump, so here are a few recent photo galleries.
Let me particularly draw your attention to our Fyre Festival party, which was hilarious. I hope you visited the FEMA tent, and managed to snap up one of the sandwiches before they were gone! So many influencers. So many influencers.
Also, the Little Big show from last week deserves some mention for being awesome. For not having a lot of, uh, "instrumentation", they really knew how to work a room. And the room was here for it. They even got most of the crowd doing that ridiculous dance.
You may notice that there haven't been many photos lately. That's because it's damned near impossible for us to find photographers who will actually show up. It's even a paid gig! Finding consistent photographers has never been easy, but I feel like it used to be easier. Perhaps "I blew $4k on a DSLR" is no longer the status signifier that it once was?
They got a respectable 27 points, but they lost out to a couple of kids doing a terrible Trump and Pence impression. (I'm sure their parents will look back fondly on that when those kids are in the camps.)
They did not get gonged! That's quality content, my friends.
The SF Weekly Best of SF poll is up again, so vote for us, won't you?
Relevant categories include: Best Dance Club, Best Live Music Venue, Best Late Nite Bite, Best Pizza, and Best Live Theatre (which I guess is the only category this year that fit Hubba Hubba Revue or Mortified?)
It means nothing, but we like the validation. If you're the "thoughts and prayers" type, voting for us there is the least you could do. Literally the least. Oh hey, this month we had four new people sign for our Patreon -- count 'em, four -- so please nag your friends, ok?
As the DNA Lounge apocalypse rolls ever nearer, one of the ways that I fiddle while Rome burns is by repairing obsolete electronics.
To that end, welcome to the DNA Lounge Arcade. I fixed up and nightclub-hardened some old arcade games. These had been sitting in my apartment for years, adding excellent ambience but mostly being powered off. But what good are they doing anyone if they aren't being played? That is their mission. So now they're at the club. So I re-built a few boards, put in beefier fans, moved the power switches, got the coin-mechs working, and generally made them more tolerant of the gentle embrace of customers. Please don't tag them.
Sadly, Tempest did not survive all the jostling in the truck and up the stairs. I have not had a chance to figure out which component died this time. Star Wars and Millipede are working great, though! Oh yeah, I also fixed Vectrex: the screen was all squished at the top, and I made the reset button go back to the menu, rather than just restarting the current game, which is something I often saw people being confused by. (Like Vectrex, Star Wars and Tempest use vector CRTs instead of raster CRTs, which makes them just inherently better. No emulation or LCD has ever done these games justice. Elegant games for a more civilized age.)
Oh, hey! We hired a new pizza manager! This guy beat the record for shortest duration ever: this one quit 4 hours before his first shift! He accepted the job, set a start date, and then said "I changed my mind" that very day.
Let me leave you with one final thought. The other night I was considering going to see a band that I was barely familiar with (not at my club). But I was grumpy and almost talked myself into staying home. But I didn't, I went to see this random band, and by the time they began their second song, I remembered -- no matter how depressed I am, I have never, not once, ever said, "I should have just sat on my couch instead of going to see that show." Even if the band sucked. (They didn't.)
Support your local live entertainment. Or it won't be there.
Which brings us to the fairly eclectic mix we have coming up in the next couple of weeks. If one of these doesn't float your boat, please consider the possibility that you have already died.
- Fri: Mortified: people read from their teenage diaries
- Fri: Hubba Hubba Revue: Undersea Burlesque
- Tue: Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School: a figure-drawing class
- Wed: Debut: SFIEC's hair and makeup show
- Wed: Dorkbot: Talks about artifical organs, flying car racing, public art
- Fri 19: So Stoked: an all-night rave
- Sun 21: Kalmah & Vreid: metal bands
- Fri 26: Mercury Soul: Jazz Mafia hard to describe, but awesome
- Sat 27: Hante & Box and the Twins: Parisian indie/gothic bands
- Tue 30: Cattle Decapitation: more metal!
Today is DNA Pizza's 8th anniversary! Hooray!
We still haven't found a restaurant manager! Boo!
Everything old is new again: it will be the 20th anniversary of the release of The Matrix in a couple of weeks -- yes, there is no way that this news does not make you feel old -- and we're doing a screening of the movie here, followed by a Matrix-themed rave! Next Friday, March 22. It should be pretty great, in a Cyberdelia sort of way. No skate ramps this time, though. Oh, speaking of, if you go hit "like" on the Cyberdelia facebook page, you may find yourself a discount code.
And since we're partying like it's 1999, here's a bleak, dystopian future from noted science fiction magazine The New York Times:
Thousands of New Millionaires Are About to Eat San Francisco Alive:
Big wealth doesn't come in monthly paychecks. It comes when a start-up goes public, transforming hypothetical money into extremely real money. This year -- with Uber, Lyft, Slack, Postmates, Pinterest and Airbnb all hoping to enter the public markets -- there's going to be a lot of it in the Bay Area. [...] Welcomed finally into the elite caste who can afford to live comfortably in the Bay Area, the fleet of new millionaires are already itching to claim what has been promised all these years. [...]
"Are we going to see a one-bedroom condo that's worth less than $1 million in five years?" he asked the crowd. "Are we going to see single family homes selling for one to three million?" [...]
When Google in Mountain View and Facebook in Menlo Park went public, their workers were spread across the Bay Area, and so the impact on housing was diffuse. Now, many of the biggest start-ups are based in San Francisco, in part thanks to the city's tax breaks. Brokers say San Francisco is where the workers want to stay. [...]
"We see multiple parties per I.P.O. for the company that is I.P.O.ing, as well as firms that are associated to them," Mr. Siegan said. Budgets for start-up parties, he said, can easily go above $10 million. "They're wanting to bring in A-list celebrities to perform at the dinner tables for the executives. They want ballet performers."
A popular new feature he's noticing is clients hoping to curate their own theme concerts featuring fleets of bands. Mr. Siegan says he put on one for a 1980s loving tech executive, featuring the B-52s, Devo, The Bangles, Tears for Fears and Flock of Seagulls.
In a warehouse in Concord, Calif., the I.P.O. ice sculptor is getting ready to staff up for what he says will be a long year.
If any of you reading this work for a company planning to throw one of these massive IPO shindigs, let me emphasize that we are ready and willing to (gunshot, gunshot, click, cash register) take your money. Operators are standing by.
It's the least you could do. Like, it is literally, literally the least. No least-er.
As always, The Onion was there first:
Report: Nation's Gentrified Neighborhoods Threatened By Aristocratization:
WASHINGTON -- According to a report released Tuesday by the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, the recent influx of exceedingly affluent powder-wigged aristocrats into the nation's gentrified urban areas is pushing out young white professionals, some of whom have lived in these neighborhoods for as many as seven years.
Maureen Kennedy, a housing policy expert and lead author of the report, said that the enormous treasure-based wealth of the aristocracy makes it impossible for those living on modest trust funds to hold onto their co-ops and converted factory loft spaces. [...]
"These accusations are pure, slanderous rubbish," said Lord Nathan Dunkirk III, the owner of a prodigious manor house that, along with its steeplechase course and topiary garden, sits on what was once the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. "If anything, the layabouts and wastrels have been afforded a veritable glut of new and felicitous opportunities as bootblacks and scullery maids."
Well, our restaurant manager rage-quit again. This one only lasted two weeks. The last one lasted five!
Both of these guys had extensive experience actually running restaurants, and sounded like they knew what they were doing. And then both of them basically said: "The restaurant has this list of problems (that you explicitly told me about before you hired me). You should probably fix those, bye!"
I mean, no joke, in the interviews we would say, repeatedly, "We're not looking to hire someone who's going to say to us, 'You should have more checklists!' We're looking to hire someone who, as the manager, is going to make those checklists, and make sure they are followed." Both of them said, "Absolutely, I'm your guy!" Then a couple weeks later, "You should get some checklists, good luck with that!"
Double-you tee fuck.
This is so frustrating, because we know there are problems -- money-losing problems -- with our restaurant, and the solution to literally every one of those problems begins with, "Step 1: Hire a competent manager". Right now restaurant management is being spread between three or four people who all have other full time jobs here, jobs which are also critical.
Anyway, here's here's our Craigslist ad. Help, help.
A few weeks ago I was chatting with someone who works security at Slim's. He said something to the effect of, "Goldenvoice is terrible, but our contract with them is only for another year or two, so maybe after that things will go back to normal." I didn't have the heart to say to him, "How's that going to happen when you no longer have a booking or promotions department? They fired everybody!"
Slim's, Great American Music Hall Workers Axed as Goldenvoice Expands:
A year after Slim's and the Great American Music Hall inked a booking agreement with corporate promoter Goldenvoice, [publicist Tanya] Pinkerton, [...] manager Dana Smith and promoter Tracey Buck were also laid off. Goldenvoice, Pinkerton was told by email, already had concert listings covered. [...]
The layoffs came one year after Slim's and GAMH, for years considered two of the city's flagship independent venues, outsourced booking to Goldenvoice, the Coachella promoter that, like competitor Live Nation, has dramatically expanded in the Bay Area. [...] With Slim's and GAMH, Goldenvoice now runs concert promotions at every level -- from a small club to a large festival -- in the Bay Area. [...]
AEG, Goldenvoice's parent company, is owned by Philip Anschutz, a multibillionaire conservative philanthropist with an anti-LGBTQ record. Corporate saturation of the local concert market is also detrimental, critics say, to a healthy local scene of independent venues and promoters, as well as local bands and fans.
Jamie Zawinski, the owner of Slim's neighbor DNA Lounge, is among the local music industry figures sounding the alarm about Goldenvoice and Live Nation. In response to the Slim's and GAMH partnership, he wrote a widely shared blog post arguing that the companies' expansive concert and ticketing holdings are monopolistic and "bad for our culture as a whole." [...]
Since Goldenvoice took over the calendars, venue management left its SoMa office. Anthony Bedard, the junior talent buyer and longtime Hemlock Tavern booker, was let go early last year. The most recent layoffs, according to Pinkerton, reflect Goldenvoice's regional workers taking on more promotions and marketing duties for the venues.
I feel it's worth re-emphasizing this quote from early last year:
[Danny Bell, a Goldenvoice talent-buyer] declined to comment on the details. But he said little to assuage concerns that the company won't continue Bedard's curatorial vision, or that it'll neglect local music. "SF is a great music town. With any strong local music scene, there's a lot of great local acts," Bell said. "Is it a priority? It's tough to say. I think it just naturally happens. I know that we came on up here with one goal -- to do cool shit."
That last paragraph is particularly telling. Here's how I read it: The question put to the Goldenvoice rep is, "Now that you control the music industry in this town, what are you going to do to preserve the music culture that was here before you bought your way in?" And their answer is, "Hey, that's your problem, not ours."
It's the Gordon Gecko model of concert promotion: if at any moment, a thing is worth more money by cutting it up and selling it off for parts, do that. Then move on to raze the next thing.
Please contribute to the DNA Lounge Patreon so that we don't end up being the next venue tossed into the mass grave where SF's music scene used to be.
Hey look, the Wall Street Journal, of all things, has discovered Synthwave. That probably means its over now, right? "Synthwave, the Sound of an '80s Childhood, Goes Mainstream."
There's a particular type of article that gets churned out every couple of years that always begins, "Biff! Bang! Pow! Comics aren't just for kids any more!" This article is basically that but for music: it repeats the claim that "They're not just 80s cover bands!" so many times that you can tell that the author really does think they're all just 80s cover bands. (Incidentally, Stranger Things sucked, and while it was panderingly nostalgic, it did not invent nostalgia, or pandering. Note to lazy writers: other analogies exist.)
Meanwhile, in that other genre from the Lost Decade of 19A0, Revolution at 3.5″: Inside Vaporwave's Mini-Boom of Floppy Disk Releases:
"Floppies are cheaper than cassettes, they don't have to be tediously dubbed, they look appealing, they're available in a lot of colors and have cool designs that people like," says Matthew Isom, 40, of San Diego plunderphonic vaporwave label Power Lunch, who notes that floppies also cost substantially less to ship overseas than cassettes.
There are less convenient aspects to the format, of course, but floppy aficionados have found ways to work within its limits. "I discovered, after playing around, that you can actually release about 11 minutes and 38 seconds of 8-bit audio MP3 on a floppy disk," says Campbell, who has released six floppies so far via Strudelsoft. "The first one that I did was this vaporwave artist called Cat System Corp and I had a run of like 20 floppy disks. And it fuckin' sold out in 8 seconds."
Campbell sourced his first batch of disks on eBay. When that proved too expensive, he sent a call to the employees at the contract manufacturer where he works in IT. He followed that up with a post on Canadian classified site Kajiji, where he offered to pick up floppies from peoples' homes. He wagers he currently has about 400 or 500 floppy disks in his basement.
Wow, you have 500 floppy disks? You are like a little baby! I've been burning promo floppy disks that nobody can figure out how to read for years...
All of this is just a long-winded intro to my real point here, which is as follows:
Sell out early, sell out often!
Also, please enjoy jwz mixtape 202.
I'm gonna make two guesses here: first, that 80% of the people reading this post work for tech companies, and second, that 100% of you would like DNA Lounge to continue to exist.
Great! Here's how you can help that happen: help us get corporate parties. Does your company participate in any way at any San Francisco-based conference or trade show? Do you host an after party, a product launch, a side-session, a PR event, an employees-only event?
Find out who in your company organized the last one, or is organizing the next one. Go talk to them. Tell them that DNA Lounge is awesome and they should have the event there. email@example.com. And the Rentals tab up top contains salient details.
Maybe that co-worker of yours who is in charge of these things accomplishes it by just hiring a party-planner company. Great! If your person were to say to the planner, "Hey, how about looking in to DNA Lounge?" that could be all that it takes to make it happen.
Putting us directly in touch with the party planning company couldn't hurt, either.
Some examples of what's coming up:
- RSA Security is the first week of March. It will fill all three Moscone buildings, plus close Howard St. We have nothing.
- The Game Developers Conference is the third week of March. It's just as large. We have two great parties (and thank you very much, Gordon and Morgan!) but they are both indie, non-company-sponsored events. We've got room for more.
- Google Next: Early April. We have nothing.
- VM World: Late August. Nothing.
- Oracle World: Late September. Nothing.
- TechCrunch Disrupt: Early October. Nothing.
- DreamForce: Late November. Nothing.
And those are just the 3-building tech conferences I spotted from a quick scan of the Moscone site. There seem to be an equal number of huge medical conventions in there, too.
We have, historically, been bad at getting events like that, try as we might. We don't have the right contacts. So maybe you can help with that.
The reason these kinds of events are especially good for us is that the companies behind them are paying for it out of their advertising and PR budget. Events like this don't have the same dynamic as a regular live show that has to "pay for itself". Success is measured by "was it a good party." Compared to a normal live show, they have money to spend.
The one Dreamforce party we had last year single-handedly saved the month. That one event made September be slightly in the black instead of deeply in the red.
So if, just by being a little irritating to some of you co-workers, you can get us just one event, maybe you too can save just one month.
Help us kick the can just one more month down the road.
Now, if you're like literally every person I know to whom I've given this speech in person, you're thinking: Wow, I'd love to help, but my company is different and inapplicable because we're: so small; so large; so broke; so dysfunctional; so frugal; so profligate; have a cafeteria; don't really "do parties" (except when we do); that's handled by another department; my team doesn't get invited; etc., etc.
I hate to break it to you, but your company is not unique. How about giving it a shot anyway? Everyone has a great reason to not do something, even something as effortless as prodding one other person with a suggestion.
But that tiny bit of effort could make you a hero.
And with that, some recent photo galleries.
First up: we mailed out the first batch of Membership Cards last week, so many of you should have yours by now! If you wanna get a sexy low-numbered card, go sign up on our Patreon!
Next up: Young's Market, who, along with Southern Wine and Spirits, comprise the complete and total monopoly on liquor distribution in San Francisco, tried to weasel out of their responsibilities on Prop C:
Liquor distributor cites Prop. C as it raises prices:
Young's Market Co. said in a letter to its San Francisco accounts that it would be changing its wholesale tax from 0.16 percent to 0.335 percent, effective Jan. 1. The company cited the cost of Prop. C as the reason.
The announcement sent shock waves throughout the local bar community.
"The tone and demeanor of that letter was like, 'F— off, San Francisco, you guys voted for this and now you're going to pay for it,'" said Michael Krouse, who owns Madrone Art Bar, Pop's Bar and Bar Fluxus.
Prop. C, which passed in November with 61 percent of the vote, promises to generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year for homeless services by increasing the gross receipts tax for businesses in the city with more than $50 million in revenue and the payroll tax for businesses with more than $1 billion. [...]
What bothered many bar owners about the Young's announcement was not the numbers as much as the principle: Prop. C was supposed to draw from the pockets of the biggest businesses, not the small guys. "The general public assumed that when this was sold as a tax that would be borne by large corporations -- that that's where the economic hit would be, and they would take it," said H. Joseph Ehrmann, owner of the bar Elixir. "But they're not. All of these suppliers, anybody that sells anything wholesale, is going to pass that down to us."
Krouse added, "Now we're supposed to pay the entire thing for these corporations, and they're not going to pay any of it?"
Young's Market, by the way, has $2.9 billion annual revenue across six states.
Broke-Ass Stuart elaborates:
The brilliance of Prop C is that it took into account the income inequality plaguing the Bay Area. It only taxes the very richest in our city to tackle an issue that they themselves have greatly exacerbated. And yet Young's Market is trying to shirk their responsibility by passing the tax down to the bar owners, instead of paying it themselves. They're doing this by more than doubling the wholesale tax that bars pay for liquor distribution.
To which I say: Shame on you Young's Market. Shame on you.
For those unfamiliar with the way the liquor industry works in California, regulations called "tied-house laws" were set up after the end of Prohibition, mandating that distributors act as the middlemen between alcohol manufacturers and bars/liquor stores. The goal of this was to avoid alcohol companies creating monopolies by owning the manufacturing, distribution, and retail of their booze. Unfortunately, it made these middlemen distributors incredibly powerful, and at this point there are two companies who have near monopolies on wine and liquor distribution in San Francisco. One of them is Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits (which is facing class action law suits in other states for their shady practices) and Young's Market Co. There's a similarly broken system for beer distribution, but that's for another time.
This provoked a massive push-back from their customers over the last few weeks -- and by "customers" I mean "the bars who are legally required to be their customers" -- and Young's backed down. For now. But I'll bet it comes back in some other, more hidden form.
This is exactly the same kind of behavior as the "healthcare surcharge" you see on the receipts at shadier restaurants.
When you're running a business, sometimes your expenses increase. Your rent goes up. Minimum wage goes up. The price of limes skyrockets for some weird reason. And sometimes, when your operating costs or cost of goods go up, you need to raise prices. That's life.
But when San Francisco passed the "Healthy SF" ordinance, requiring businesses above a certain size to provide healthcare for their employees, the response of some restaurants was to passive-aggressively break that out on the bill as its own line item (and then many of them just pocketed the money anyway). Instead of just raising the prices of their products in a normal way, they tried to pretend this was some completely other thing, hoping that would make you mad at "the libs" instead of them.
To their credit, though, these places also all itemized out "transportation costs" when gas hit $4.50/gallon, and reduced their prices when gas got cheaper again.
Oh wait, no, that last part never actually happened.
Up next: Yoshi's!
Man, the Yoshi's grift is strong. I still don't fully understand the scope of this con; it feels like most of this iceberg is still lurking below, but a few more chunks have calved off recently. First some background. In 2009, I wrote:
You may have heard of this jazz club called Yoshi's. They've had a place on Fillmore for a year and a half or so. Well gosh, it turns out that they had kind of a hard time last year! Their business was a bit down from their expectations, you see, what with the recession and all. So the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency just gave them a $1.5 million "emergency" loan!
That's on top of the $6 million in loans they had already given them.
Back up. They were open for a year and a half. In that time they managed to burn through six million dollars. Then they came back to the City and said "Hey Buddy, can you spare another million and a half?"
I'm struggling for my life here, and my city government just gave another nightclub seven and a half million dollars.
Come on. Where's my fucking bailout?
Yoshi's closed in 2014, having paid back none of those "loans". But Yoshi's Oakland still exists, so how did they manage that? Well as far as I can tell, they "sold" the club to a newly-formed corporation 3 months before they closed, and then that corporation went bankrupt and defaulted on the loans that it had just purchased. That shell-game seems far too transparent to actually get away with, but apparently it's not.
Fillmore District politics is very weird, because almost all of it either stems from, or is a reaction to, the racist "redevelopment" programs of the 1950s and equally-racist "urban renewal" programs of the 1970s.
(You may have heard that Justin Herman Plaza is being renamed, because people are finally tired of it being named after a guy who gleefully displaced over 4,000 people while saying, "This land is too valuable to permit poor people to park on it.")
Well, wherever there is government money intended for reparations, there are con men looking for their taste.
So the vacant Yoshi's space is now called the "Fillmore Heritage Center" and the grift rolls on:
Lawsuit alleges cronyism in city Fillmore Heritage Center deal:
A Fillmore District businessman who made four attempts to purchase the long-vacant Fillmore Heritage Center has sued city officials including Mayor London Breed for alleged fraud and cronyism in the bidding process that led to its recent takeover by a group of community advocates. [...]
Agonafer Shiferaw filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging "acts of mismanagement and malfeasance by San Francisco government officials charged with the administration and disposition" of the center. Mayor London Breed, Fillmore Supervisor Vallie Brown, Third Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Amos Brown and a number of city department heads.
Shiferaw alleges The City granted control of the center to "entities whose chief qualification is that they are friends and supporters" of Breed. [...]
Shiferaw's is one of several lawsuits surrounding the center, one of the last projects built under The City's redevelopment program. Once hailed as an anchor space and an opportunity for economic growth, in recent years it has earned a reputation as the neighborhood's "million dollar blight."
City Attorney Dennis Herrera last August sued the center's developer, former Yoshi's owner Michael Johnson, to recover a $5.5 million loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development which, along with city funding, was used to build the $80.5 million project in 2007.
A month later, Johnson countersued, claiming that city interference undermined the project. [...]
Among the claims laid bare in the lawsuit, which the community blog New Fillmore first reported, is that the defendants "defrauded San Francisco City taxpayers by simply erasing a $4.8 million loan to the former proprietor of Yoshi's SF (anchor tenant of the Fillmore Heritage Center), hidden from public scrutiny, in order to re-secure control of the property in preparation for re-offering it as a prize to political supporters."
To be clear, Yoshi's was never a "jazz club", despite what their grant applications presumably claimed. It was just a plain old general-purpose concert venue, with maybe a slightly higher percentage of jazz than all of the other places in town.
Part of the way to make this grift work -- besides the weird politics of the Fillmore District -- is that by claiming to be a "jazz club" you get to be listed under the heading of "culture" rather than under mere "nightlife". And if you're trying to bilk the taxpayers and the charities, you definitely want to be rubbing shoulders with the people who get their deductions by throwing money at the opera and the museums, rather than those of us down here in the trenches with the little people.
Remember: "Amateurs study heists. Professionals study money laundering."