It would seem that steps are being taken to make it be legal for SF bars and clubs to move their last call time from 2AM to 3:30AM. I've been hearing about this for a while now, and my initial assumption was that there was no way in hell it could happen -- it involves changing a state law, after all -- but it seems that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is likely to vote to push for this change from the state legislature. How about that.

That still sounds like a rather involved process, but apparently there's a lot of support for this from the tourist industry (conference centers, hotels, and so on.)

It would also be great news for us, of course. We make almost all of our money selling alcohol, and we sell almost all of our alcohol between 11:30 and 1:30 on fridays and saturdays. That's only four hours a week! Adding even a little bit to that would help a lot.

There's a hearing about this on Feb 5 (Thursday.) The text of the proposed resolution is on the Board's site as a PDF of a fax, but it's pretty unreadable, so I've converted it to HTML here. The statistics about last-call times in other cities and states are pretty interesting:

    3AM:   Indianapolis, Memphis, Nashville, West Virginia.
    4AM:   Miami, Jacksonville, New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Dallas, Honolulu.
    24/7:   New Orleans, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, London.
This is what SFLNC had to say about it in email (I would just link to this info on the SFLNC site, but such info is never actually on their site until it is at least six months out of date... You'd think they'd have heard of teh intarweb by now.)

Supervisor Aaron Peskin has introduced a resolution encouraging State Assemblymember Mark Leno to develop legislation that could extend the last call for alcohol in bars, restaurants and nightclubs in California's largest cities. This will give San Franciscans and visitors to our City similar rights to those enjoyed in New York, Chicago, Miami, New Orleans and other large cities that allow alcohol sales after 2am. This will also provide a much needed boost to our local entertainment scene and economy.

In your email to our elected officials, it is crucial to include in the subject line the words "Support Later Last Call Hours". Supervisors do not always read every email but they do count those for and against an issue. If you wish to contact your District Supervisor by phone or fax, contact info is available on the Board of Supervisors web site.

Here are some important points about this proposal:

  • Later last call hours will help to keep San Francisco a world class city;

  • Later last call hours will create additional revenue for the city and the state of California;

  • San Franciscans should have the same rights as those in other major cities;

  • National Traffic Safety Association data indicates that later last call hours do not increase and may actually decrease the number of alcohol related traffic fatalities;

  • This proposal applies only to on-site alcohol sales at restaurants, bars, or nightclubs;

  • This proposal does not allow alcohol sales after 2am in supermarkets or liquor stores;

  • This proposal applies only to restaurants, bars or nightclubs in districts zoned for late night businesses;

  • This proposal does not override any local zoning controls.

My understanding of this is that you'd still need to have an "extended hours" permit to take advantage of this: that is, bars and restaurants whose permits only allow them to operate until 2AM will still have to close at 2AM. But places that are allowed to stay open later would also be allowed to continue serving. That's what it sounds like to me, anyway.

Hey, what do you know, SFLNC did put this on their site after all. This intarweb thing, it just might catch on.

Hey, check it out, we got some DNA-branded slip-mats for our turntables! Now we're no longer advertising the sound company we fired, or parties that no longer happen here. How long do you think it'll be until some DJ steals them? I give it a week.

There aren't too many places that will put custom images on slipmats in small quantities (meaning ten or so.) We paid something like $26/pair for these. That's not so bad if you're only buying them once, but if they're gonna get ripped off regularly, that's a lot. Anyone know of a place with better prices?

Friday night I was meeting some folks for dinner, and we met at the club before opening. "Why don't I give you the 'lights on' tour of the club", I said, thus jinxing everything: for at around 9:30pm, the power went out on the whole block. The end of the tour was the 'lights out' tour. My friend Brad, who runs his own business, asked why I wasn't freaking out. I said, "because there are other people here to freak out for me, if freaking is warranted. They'll handle it." It's tough learning how to delegate, and he's trying to figure out how to do that better. So a little while later, Alexis had the yellow pages out and was looking for generator rentals... "See?" I said.

Fortunately the power came back on shortly after 10pm, because it seems that we didn't have a prayer of actually getting this place up and running on a generator, and being closed on a friday would have cost us a ton of money... Alexis got a hold of the electrician who installed our new system to ask him what we should order and how to hook it up, and his answer was something along the lines of, "hmmm, well, that's pretty complicated..." Apparently the fact that (as described in the July 2000 "Ask Dr. Science" interlude) we have "delta" three-phase power instead of "star" three-phase power, and that we actually use the mostly-useless 208v line (most people just ignore that one, and only use the two 120v lines) makes it tricky to hook a generator in...

So, that was a bullet dodged. I guess we're going to have our electrician come back out one of these days and like, put in some terminals that say "pull switch and attach generator here" or something.

    "Push to test."
    "Release to detonate."

We also learned that our five UPS boxes can only keep the eleven PCs in the back office running without wall power for something like twenty minutes. That's like, not so good. So we missed the beginning of the webcast, since the power only came back on after 10pm, and the machines didn't run the 10pm "start the webcast" cron job until I did it by hand...

So later that night, I was showing Brad one of the screen savers that runs on the kiosks that scrolls text around in an arty way; the source of that text is set up to be the most-recent posts to LiveJournal, the blogging web site that Brad created. I started this screen saver and the first thing it printed was "open your wrists and the pain ends forever"! It continued on in that 10th-grade-goth-poetry way for a while, and he accused me of setting that up ahead of time. I hadn't, it was real-time. "Oh my god my users are so dumb!" he exclaimed.

Just then, some guy came up to us and said, "yo, yo, you gotta go to pimps and hoes dot com! Check it out!"

"You think your users are bad?" I asked.

According to my calculations, tonight's event, Meat, will be our 500th event since we re-opened on July 13, 2001. So how about that.

While I'm at it, allow me to direct your attention to event number 503, the Nina Hagen show this sunday. This will be her third visit here (and fourth show, since she played two nights last year) and she always puts on quite a show. The opening act this time is Storm and The Balls. Storm's previous band, "Storm Inc.", played here in October 2001 -- one of our first live shows, in fact. Great show; I listen to their CDs a lot.

Last week, the SF Board of Supervisors voted in favor of the later last-call that I mentioned earlier, so now State Assemblyman Leno is going to propose legislation some time in the next few weeks. Based on public response, they've scaled back their proposal from "let large cities in California decide whether to have a later last-call" to "let San Francisco decide." (Apparently folks in other cities would rather not have that choice at all...)

So in the face of this good news, let's take a peek at what's happening on the opposite coast, shall we? Apparently there's a move afoot in New York City to pull back last call from 4AM to 1AM for many bars and restaurants! Not globally, but they'd make people jump through more permit hoops to be allowed to be open later than 1AM. Nice, huh? The New York Nightlife Association site has news about this. Of course, the NYNA is also trying to repeal the smoking ban in NYC, so it's not like they're sane or anything. That's just reason number two to never set foot outside of San Francisco.

Apparently they claim that the smoking ban has caused lots and lots of bars and clubs to go out of business in New York, causing "widespread industry layoffs", because apparently New Yorkers are such party animals that they'll say to themselves, "you know what, I'd like to go clubbing, but I can't smoke there, so I'll just stay home instead."

The California smoking ban improved my nightlife experience immeasurably. It only takes one trip out of the state to remind me of the horrors of coming home and having to leave my clothing outside because I can't stand to be in the room with their post-club stench. Hell, I can't wait until they ban smoking on sidewalks. And after cigarettes, I hope they go after patchoulli. I don't want to smell any of you fuckers! Get away from me!

Photos of Nina Hagen / Storm and The Balls are up now. Man, what a fantastic show! Storm and The Balls totally blew me away. Most of what they played was these fantastic loungey, bluesy mash-up cover songs: like the lyrics from "Bring The Noise" with the music of "Sweet Home Alabama", and "Take a Chance On Me" to the tune of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida". It sounds gimicky, but they did it so well! (And this wasn't some beat-matching remix trick like that Grey Album that's getting so much press at the moment: this was the real thing.) I'm listening to the show again right now, and so should you!

This show almost didn't happen, because Nina Hagen had a lot of trouble getting her visa to enter the country. It would seem that in These Uncertain Times, our government must do its best to keep potential terrorist-slash-recording-artists out of the homeland. In the last couple of years, it's apparently become a lot harder for foreign bands to get in the country; the work visas are nearly impossible to come by, and I'm told that the old tricks that small bands used to use, like just pretending that they're going on vacation and renting instruments when they get here, no longer work.

One of the more egregious examples of this recently was when Cuban guitarist Ibrahim Ferrer was unable to pick up his Grammy award at the ceremony because he couldn't get into the country: "Mr. Ferrer can't be with us tonight".

Nina's agent actually called us to cancel this show, thinking the tour was dead, but Alexis call the Goethe Institute (who put on the Maximilian Hecker / Barbara Morgenstern show a couple weeks ago) and apparently they have some pull in situations like this... She ended up having to cancel her show in New York, though.

What a messed up world.