Photos are up of the Hubba Hubba Revue St. Patricks Day show.
The RealVideo and "slideshow" webcasts are down (though the Flash-based webcast is still up). The drive died on the RealVideo encoder machine, and I really can't motivate myself to screw around with it, so it might be down for a while. Presumably everybody is watching the Flash version these days anyway. It may be time to just give up on Real. Then there would be one less computer in here that I'd have to think about. That would be nice.
We're on the front page of the SF Chronicle today! It's a great article about how ABC is attacking all of the other all-ages clubs in San Francisco for other non-alcohol-related reasons, like food sales and hours of operation.
State goes after legendary all-ages music clubs
A teenager's first concert is a rite of passage of sorts, and in San Francisco, that rite often is undertaken at one of the city's inexpensive, small, all-ages music clubs - a type of business that owners warn might not survive much longer because of new enforcement efforts by state alcohol officials. [...]
Those venues could be forced to close, owners say, if the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, better known as ABC, continues to impose rules that club attorneys argue are legally questionable and often unrelated to booze or safety issues.
Some of the clubs say they only recently learned about the new rules, which are not written into state law and haven't been enforced in the past.
For example, ABC has decreed that at least half of the clubs' revenue must come from food sales. The agency also is taking issue with minor operating changes, such as one club's decision to open an hour later.
In almost every case, the San Francisco clubs who have been battling ABC have the support of neighbors and local leaders.
The article doesn't mention DNA Lounge specifically, but this is absolutely the same fight that we're in. Though they're going after us with a ridiculous "lewdness" charge, they're going after all of the other clubs for whatever technicality they can find. There is a clear pattern of abuse of power here.
Also, we just filed our official appeal of our permit revocation to the ABC appeals board:
The grounds for this appeal are that (a) the department has proceeded without, or in excess of, its jurisdiction; (b) the department has not proceeded in the manner required by law; (c) the decision is not supported by the findings; (d) the findings are not supported by substantial evidence in the light of the whole record; (e) there is relevant evidence, which, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, could not have been produced or which was improperly excluded at the hearing before the department, and (f) ABC Rules 143.2 and 143.3 are unconstitutional.
Photos are up of Thursday's last-minute Green Day show. Yeah, Green Day! How did that happen, you're probably wondering? Long story: They called us the night before and asked. Ok, it's not such a long story.
We had to cancel an event that we had scheduled for that night, and it's always a drag to have to do that, but the event we had was probably going to only get a hundred people, and Green Day sold out in 15 minutes on the day of the show. What are you gonna do?
It was a fantastic show. They played for almost three hours, including the entirety of their not-yet-released new album.
The sound quality was amazing. I don't think I've ever heard it sound so good in here.
My favorite part was when an 8-year-old kid climbed from his parent's shoulders onto the stage and Billie Joe said to him, "Go crowd surf, little man!" and he did. People were able to hold him up with one hand because he was so tiny.
My second favorite part was when Billie Joe forgot the lyrics to a song ("We've got a lot of songs!" he said) and pulled a girl up out of the audience to sing it for him. She wasn't a great singer, but she did know all the words!
Like I mentioned last week, the RealVideo webcast has been (mostly) down for the last week or so, because the machine that runs it lost a drive and I haven't been able to talk myself in to the level of Linux-based self-abuse that would be required to get it working again. I did try moving RealVideo on to another machine (making the kiosk server do double duty as the video encoder) but that machine just isn't fast enough to do both. And audio isn't working on it. And you remember how I love diagnosing Linux audio problems.
So, I see two options here, really:
- One of you friendly people donate to me a modern, fast, Linux-capable PC to run this junk on; or
- I just call it quits on RealVideo and assume that Justin.tv is good enough.
I don't have access to any logs that would tell me the relative popularity of either the Justin.tv or RealVideo streams, so I can't really tell whether anyone is watching either of them. If there is anyone out there who can think of a reason to keep the RealVideo stream going at all, please speak up now.
Some recent press on the War on Fun:
SF Weekly: ABC Vendetta Against All-Ages Venues?
Coming on the heels of the state agency's recent vendetta against the DNA Lounge, it seems fair to question what ABC's real agenda is; regulating nightclubs with ticky-tack infractions to the point where they are forced to go out of business doesn't seem to be in the best interests of anyone. And ABC's Gestapo tactics seem a bit heavy-handed. According to [GAMH / Slim's publicist Leah] Matanky, "ABC has gone after all clubs with an All Ages license, DNA included. Their goal seems to be to put each said venue out of business, in whatever way possible."
SF Examiner: Squeezing the fun out festivals
Some are predicting that many of The City's street fairs -- which range from outré gatherings such as the Folsom Street Fair to more traditional events like the North Beach Jazz Festival -- might vanish by next year.
"I think this is going to be the make-or-break year for about a half-dozen festivals, including ours," said Brad Olsen, founder of the How Weird Street Faire that takes place every May in SoMa. "The City bankrupts these events with the fees they charge."
SF Bay Guardian: Can Fun police itself?
Yesterday's Bring Your Own Big Wheel event showed how a weird, community-based event that draws thousands of people and even has a real element of danger can be remarkably responsible, well-organized, and self-policing, without any help from police or other city officials, who mostly stayed at bay until the event was over. Nonetheless, city officials continue to insist on expensive permits and the hiring of too many police officers on overtime for most events, making it increasingly difficult to stage the fun that makes San Francisco what it is.
So here's a funny story. And by "funny" I mean, "so funny that I sometimes have a hard time getting out of bed."
This is an old story, and has nothing to do with our current battles with the government. Or with any other absurd lawsuits we might or might not currently be dealing with. I didn't tell this story back when it happened because there were lawyers involved, and they always advise you to never say anything to anyone. But it's long over now, so now it can be told. I guess.
Several years ago, there was some kind of scuffle and one of our customers who was dancing on the stage fell off and hurt her ankle. She sued us. I'm not sure what exactly her reasoning was, but she did, because this is America, and you can sue anybody for anything. She claimed she had spent $4,000 on medical bills (chiropractors!) and asked for $500,000 in pain and suffering.
We learned in the discovery phase that this woman had also been in three automobile accidents in the previous two years, for which she had been going to chiropractors already. How about that.
We submitted this claim to our insurance company, like you do, and their lawyers handled it. They ended up settling the case by paying her around $11,000. And here's where it gets fun:
Our deductible was $10,000. So the lawyer, who was working for the insurance company, did right by the insurance company. It only cost them $1,000! But he didn't try to negotiate anything lower, because that would have been a waste of his time, since he wasn't working for us, and that was the part we would have to pay. Oh, but it gets better.
It turns out that the fine print on our insurance said, in longwinded, 4-point, incomprehensible legalese, that the rates we had been paying for years were merely "estimates". So after our claim, the insurance company "audited" us, and retroactively raised our rates for the last four years by $20,000 per year. So the fact that we filed a claim at all caused the insurance company to demand an additional $80,000 from us.
At that point, we hired our own lawyer who negotiated that $80,000 down to $40,000, paid out over a year instead of being due immediately. Plus several thousand more for the new lawyer, obviously.
In summary... Customer with a fake injury sues us for half a million dollars. Ends up getting $11k, of which her lawyer probably takes half. We're out almost $60k. Insurance company turns a $40k profit.
What's the lesson here, kids?
I think it's, "people are scum" and/or "never start a business."
I would be remiss were I not to take this opportunity to mention our legal defense fund.
He was incredible. My friend Cyan messaged me the night before looking for a venue for him to play a free show, and we managed to put it together at the last minute. The tricky part was, we had to fit a piano through our front door, which I wouldn't have thought was possible, since there are two turns in that hallway. But, once they took the legs off, it went right in!
Check out this video of his performance at TED. Apparently he's playing at the White House in a few weeks.
We tried to bill this show as a fundraiser for the legal defense fund, but, uh, let's just say that didn't really work out so well.
Trying out something new: Facebook recently released Facebook Connect, which makes it relatively easy to add a "comments" box to any web page. The comments appear embedded in the page, but are actually stored on Facebook. So, I've added that to the blog, here. Click on the "Comments" link below to see them.
What do you think? Let me know how it works.
Also: I'd like the comments box to match the color scheme on this page, but I can't figure out how to do that. I'm passing the css= attribute to the fb:comments tag, but either it's not loading that CSS file at all, or I guessed wrong about what the class names are. Can anyone tell me what I'm doing wrong, or show me an example of a site that uses Facebook Connect and manages to change the color scheme of the embedded comment area?
Here's a nice article on the Eric Lewis show in the Guardian UK. Besides reviewing the show, the author also adds:
I'm not kidding, ABC actually used the phrases "lewd behavior" and "injurious to the public welfare and morals". In San Francisco. In 2009. Eat that, Lenny Bruce.
Yeah, I still boggle at that, too.
There are also some good video clips of the show on Youtube; I've added those to the photo gallery.
I've started collecting links to DNA Lounge in the press in a somewhat less haphazard manner than previously. Let me know if you come across any.
I also changed the front page of dnalounge.com a bit to hype the legal defense fund in a more "designy" way. Yeah, I put up an image with text in it because I wanted it to be in the proper font. What have I become.
I think this Facebook Connect commenting crap might be crap. I still can't make the colors be right, and I don't see any way to get it to notify me when people post new comments, which makes it pretty useless.