We closed escrow today! It was somewhat anticlimactic: I only had to sign my name four times. I mentioned to Greg, my realtor, that this was a lot less paperwork than I had to sign for my home, and he reminded me that I'd signed most of the paperwork when we opened escrow back in April, eleven months ago.
Next on the agenda is getting the phones and utilities transferred into our name.
We got our very own liquor license in the mail today!
Today Susan and I started cleaning out the club's office. The place is a sty! By "clean" I mean we threw away the obvious crap, and moved all of the paperwork and other things worth keeping into the dj booth temporarily. Once we've done this, we can replace the carpet and paint the walls, and make the office be suitable for human habitation on a daily basis.
We didn't find any real treasures in here, except for an autographed Garbage album, and a pile of snapshots featuring the previous owners posing with, uh, strippers and/or prostitutes.
The carpet is dark gray. My guess is that it was not originally dark gray, but was light beige when it was installed. I think the gray is from 25 years of cockroach shit being trampled into it.
There is a PBX (phone switch) in here, but I'm not sure if it's hooked up. I picked up the phone and took off the little plastic legs, to see what kind of jacks it had, and a bunch of live roaches fell on me.
I dropped the phone into the trash.
I'm told that roaches like living inside of electronic equipment: apparently the radiation has become a part of their reproductive cycle or something. I threw the fax machine away too, without looking at it too hard.
Call me a nut, call me a crazy dreamer, but before we open, I want to have this place clean enough that I can come in at noon, put an unwrapped sandwich down on the bar, come back two hours later, and take a bite without having a shuddering case of the willies.
I keep scrubbing and scrubbing, and still I can't get the bacteria off.
I heard some trivia about the name "DNA Lounge" today. Susan talked to someone who was an adult in the early 80s, and he says that the DNA was originally some kind of spinoff of the Stud (the owners parted ways or something) and that, at the time, all the clubs were doing a lot of performance art, rather than music. The DNA's owner was sick of that, and wanted to open a real dance club, so DNA allegedly stands for "Dance Not Art." I wonder if that's really true...
Barry's friend Cory painted the offices ("let me know if you need anything painted: I love painting!"), and we sealed and bug-bombed the rooms. Barry was so excited about the prospect of bug-bombing those rooms that he told me "oh, and I bought bug bombs!" three times over the course of an hour.
I spent most of the day hauling garbage out of the back room. The amount of crap they chose to save is just amazing. "Hey, keep this half of a broken pool cue! We might need it some day!" When did the DNA last have a pool table? It must have been at least seven years. Broken lamps, a corroded coffee machine, boxes of rusty nails, random lengths of bent copper pipe, sweaters that have (shall we say) seen better days...
The decorating scheme in this place seems to have predominantly been, "hey, I found this in the back." Sometimes followed by, "hey, I know, let's ball up a string of christmas lights inside it."
At some point, they moved the upstairs back bar, leaving some shallow trenches in the floor where the walls of the bar used to connect. They hid these holes by putting a carpet over them, in case you were wondering why you seemed to be sinking through the carpet up there.
The best piece of floor work I saw, though, was the place in the coat-check room where they filled in a hole in the wood under the rug with a crumpled piece of corrugated cardboard. That was very classy. Thankfully, the floors do seem to be structurally sound, if grimy.
At around 8, Jeremy and Heather stopped by, and we went up the street to Wa-Ha-Ka for dinner. It was packed, and they lost my order. Though it was only 8, there was some drunk-ass idiot sitting next to me who tipped over towards the left every time he stood up. So he fell into me, and I glared at him and looked away, and then, like drunk-ass idiots often do, he felt the need to talk to me. He kept prattling on something about having done something for the Jerry Garcia Band, as if this would somehow excuse him for having lost control of his motor functions by 8pm. He wouldn't take the hint as I kept ignoring him, and was leaning on my table, so finally I said, "look, I don't know you, and I don't want to know you, so why don't you get off my table?" God, he was infuriating.
I went back to the club and continued cleaning. Then at around midnight, some guy rang the bell at the club, looking for Don (the former manager.) "Don's not here." This guy kept asking questions, asking me to open the door, and basically not doing what I wanted him most to do at the time, which was go away. It turns out that he was a promoter and wanted to know when we were re-opening, and I probably brushed him off more than I should have, but I was coated in filth and really not in the mood to talk to anyone, let alone schmooze.
Barry and I came down at around two, and Cory showed up a bit later to finish painting. Later Da5id, Danfuzz, Ian, and Kahren came by, and we managed to haul down almost all of the garbage! Now every room in the place is devoid of trash. We moved all the garbage to the left side of the dance floor, and it took up about a third of the room.
We left it on the first floor because we haven't yet rented a dumpster. Why not wait for the dumpster and then do this? Well, here's the interesting thing we've learned about dumpsters:
You need a permit to park one on the street.
But if you only keep it overnight, the City really doesn't care, so nobody bothers getting a permit if they only intend to have it for less than a day.
However, it turns out that it's not practical to keep them longer than overnight anyway, because apparently the city is full of marauding bands of carpet installers who drive around looking for dumpsters to dump their old carpets in. So if you have a dumpster for more than a day, it will fill up with carpet.
How fucked up is that?
Jeremy says: "Gee, the last time I installed carpet, I dumped the leftovers into a dumpster on the Stanford campus. I guess I was behaving more professionally than I thought at the time."
So we got rid of all the couches, and in fact just about everything porous. Man, those couches were skanky. Aside from the thought of the decades of beer and vomit that they must have absorbed, you're not supposed to have anything made of non-fireproof cloth in a club, and there's no way these thrift-shop rejects were made of anything special...
The whole process was completely disgusting (especially sweeping out the various hidden storage alcoves... shudder). But throwing the couches off the balcony was intensely satisfying. Words cannot describe.
We had new carpet installed in the offices today, yay! Now there is one clean place in this building. We have established a beach head from which to launch the invasion.
Sadly, this carpet is thicker than the last carpet, and now the doors are really hard to move. I guess we need to borrow a planer from someone...
We met with our architect again to go over some possible floor plans; we're still waiting to get some answers back from the fire department about what they're going to require us to do when we remodel. I've been working on a bunch of different floor plans, but once we get some answers, I'll be able to throw half of them out and actually nail down the path we're going to take.
Note to self: pour out one glass of Coke just after turning on the CO2 tank that drives the drink gun. That first cup is flat, nasty stuff that was in the tube, or something.
I disassembled and scrubbed down the two desks we're going to keep, and moved them back into the office. I was only slightly surprised to find that the only cleaning products in this place were the bottles of hand soap that I bought on friday. So that's what I used.
The dumpster arrived today. Let me tell you something else we've learned about dumpsters: when they tell you they're delivering a "20 yard dumpster" they mean cubic yards. a 20 yard dumpster is not 60 feet long, it's 15 feet long and 5 feet high.
So Peewee the Dumpster arrived, and we pitched as much of the crap as we could into it. It held a lot more than we expected: basically everything except the couches and chairs, and about half of the rotting lumber. CJ found someone with a big truck who we paid to haul the toxic furniture of it off to the dump, so that worked out.
While we were loading up, a girl came out from the pizza shop next door and worriedly asked, "you're not turning this place into lofts too, are you?"
I finally went over to the Dark Side: I got a cell phone. Just shoot me now.
For some reason, they haven't picked up the dumpster yet. It looks like we gained some and lost some! There is some new garbage in the dumpster that we didn't put there, and there are some things missing (amazingly, the fake plastic trees.)
Tonight was the "meet the new Captain" meeting, co-hosted by the San Francisco Late Night Coalition and the SOMA Residents Association. In case you haven't heard, Dennis Martel, who had been captain of Southern Station (the SOMA police district) for quite a long time, has been transferred to the airport, and we have a new captain, Sylvia Harper.
It was a good meeting. It's always a good thing when we can get the folks who belong to the residents' association in the same room with the club folks (most of whom are also SOMA residents.) And it was great that the captain came out to meet everybody. I think the biggest problem this neighborhood has had has been lack of communication, so having all three groups in the same room was good news.
The funniest moment was when one of the residents asked if it wouldn't be possible to relocate the Folsom Street Fair to Golden Gate Park.
The most irritating moment was when the vice president of the residents' association stood up and said something to the effect of, "all club owners make big promises and then ignore them; why, just a week after the new owners of the DNA Lounge got their permits, they were blasting rap music late into the night." Which is of course total crap, since we only took over ownership four days ago! Whatever incident he's talking about didn't happen on my watch, and he knew that. Barry called him on it after the meeting, and he said "oh no, I didn't say the DNA Lounge, I was talking about Club VSF."
Later that night, we met with some folks to talk about lighting. The stage and dance floor lighting in the DNA today is pretty lame, so we need to figure out what can be improved by just repositioning things, where we should buy new lights, and what we should just throw away. The first step is going to be to take everything down and clean it, which will also help us make sense of the maze of conduit that's up there.
It's kind of like an archaeological dig: there have been dozens of people making "temporary" changes to everything in this building for the last couple of decades, and I doubt anyone has understood the big picture for a long time.
Our network connection is being installed soon, so this weekend I need to figure out where the phone lines go. There are, of course, lots of phone jacks in the office, and only half of them seem to be connected.
I called PG&E to finish transferring the service into my name. The woman who answered asked me, "is the service on right now?" When I answered yes, she said, "oh good, because it was scheduled to be disconnected some time today." Whaaat? So we caught that just in time... It sounds like they're probably going to make me put down a couple months deposit on the service, since I haven't had a business account before, and having paid your residential service on time for a decade apparently counts for nothing.
Likewise, the bank is giving us attitude about getting a credit card! "We require five years of credit history, and your company is only a year old." The fact that I've got a stainless credit history, and that I've been using that bank forever also counts for nothing. This sucks, because if they refuse us a credit card, I'm going to be forced to close my personal accounts there too, as a matter of moral imperative. Which will be oh-so-convenient.
The bank let up on the attitude, they'll give us a card.
I've spent the last four days playing cable monkey. There are miles of unused wiring in the rafters of the club, and it's all coming down, because I'll never have a chance to do this again once I start putting up my own wiring, and I don't want this old crap up there confusing matters. It was quite a mess: one bar had four separate phone lines going to it, three cut at one end, the other cut elsewhere. So I instituted a scorched-earth policy on wiring: if it's not an active phone line, it comes down. (Oops, now the doorbell doesn't work. Ok, I'll put that one back.)
I've discovered spaces that have never been dusted, ever. The area on top of coat check, for example: when I ripped cables out of there, they popped up out of a troth of dust that must have been four inches deep. The gray cloud hung in the air for an hour.
Hey kids, what's the one thing you don't want to see when snipping through decade-old wire? That's right: sparks! Apparently at some point there were three or four separate buzzer networks in this place: press a button one place, a buzzer goes off elsewhere. None of the buttons or bells are connected, and from the layers of paint, I'd guess this has been the case for a long time. But of course, all the lines were still hot. Yay.
Well, after a lot of confusion, we finally got the right telco people to show up and do their magic, so now we have a network in the club; our mail server is on site now, instead of sitting on my home network.
They finally started knocking down Eleven, the restaurant across the street that burned down some time last year (it's going to be... wait for it... lofts.) Eleven had these really cool statues on the front of the building, and I'd been meaning to try and figure out who to talk to to get them to give them to me. So when I noticed that the front wall, and thus the statues, was no longer there, I went over and asked the foreman what happened to them.
"Uh, you're like the fourth person who asked about those. I think they broke when we pulled the wall down."
I'm aghast. Bunch of savages in this town.
Well, in the last week we've hauled out another dumpster-and-a-half worth of garbage. The place is looking substantially less filthy now. We're in the process of getting quotes from cleaning crews to come in here and clean the living shit out of this place once, and then later, do more normal cleanings a couple times a week. So far they've seen it as a pretty daunting task.
We've also started talking to various people about lights, both people who have lights to sell, and people who just know their stuff. The lights in this place are obviously inadequate, but it's not clear how much of that is the lights themselves, and how much of that is just how badly they were being used. We do have six functioning Trackspots in here, but you'd never know it. So far, pretty much everyone has been trying to convince us to ditch the Trackspots and get more modern lights, like Studio Spots or Technobeams, but as far as I can tell, these newer lights are just not substantially better: they have a few new tricks, like the Studio Spots have irises that let you control the beam width, and the Technobeams have rotating gobos in them so you can project patterns, but these seem really minor compared to the kinds of improvements you can see just by programming a more basic light well.
However, someone told me about these really cool lights that they have in England, but that haven't made it over here yet for some kind of patent extortion / trade embargo reason, that are like all these other lights except that they project full-motion video! That would blow away anything you can do with a gobo or stencil...
I think we probably need more intelligent lights, and don't need nearly as many par cans, but so far I don't see any reason to replace the Trackspots I already own with something else.
(A few words on lighting terminology: Trackspots, Intellibeams, Technobeams, and Studio Spots are all what are called "intelligent lighting": these are the lights with the rotating mirrors that can whip tight beams of light around the room really quickly, under control of the programs in a centralized lighting control board. Studio Spots are different in that the whole light moves instead of just the mirror, giving it more degrees of freedom, but presumably slowing it down. They look cool, though. Par cans are basic stage lighting: little barrels that flash and dim, but don't move, and that you change the color of by climbing up and replacing gels. Gobos are little sometimes-rotating glass discs: basically glorified slide projectors.)
We also talked to a few more people about our sound systems, leaving me more baffled than before. Apparently if you talk to three audio engineers you get three contradictory opinions. Everybody wants me to spend more money, which is easy for them, 'cause it's not their money...
It turns out that, while the side and back walls of the club are solid concrete, the front wall is primarily plywood and sheet-rock. Apparently at some point in its past, it had a garage door and a number of giant windows, so it seems like the only cement in that wall are the four big pillars holding up the roof. No wonder our noise abatement inspection went so poorly: the reason the soundproofing on the front wall is inadequate is that there isn't any! So it sounds like my next step is going to be to wall up the windows, and cover the whole front wall with a couple layers of sound board (which, as I understand it, is just a kind of particle board: that porous wood-and-paste stuff that they make cheap bookcases out of) followed by a couple of layers of sheet rock (plaster between two layers of cardboard: that's probably what the walls in your office are made of.)
We got our fire extinguishers charged the other day. I learned (second-hand) about a scam that extinguisher-filling companies tend to pull: it's a good scam! You need to have your extinguishers charged once a year. So after nine months, someone from the extinguisher company will stop by and say "I'm here to service the extinguishers." Doubtless whoever answers the door will just say, "uh, ok." Then they bill you for it, and mark the extinguishers as being good for another twelve months. But this means they're charging you for four years worth of service every three years! Granted this isn't a lot of money, but still.
Anyway, after having blown us off for close to six weeks, our soon-to-be-former electrician finally finished the remaining electrical work we needed (basically, hanging exit signs and emergency lights and associated conduit.) This should mean that we'll pass our fire inspection, which is in a few days, and electrical inspection, hopefully next week. We passed our building inspection today, which is a good sign, because it appears that all three inspectors mainly look for the same things.