Friday, July 24, 2015

Million Dickhead Listing SF: That neighborhood you thought was so cool? It's shit. Your neighborhood is a literal pile of shit.

I'm talking about Bernal Heights, of course, or at least the "OTHER SIDE OF THE HILL" Bernal Heights where a goddam honest hardworking developer can't hollow out a hillside and create an Open Floor Plan without potential occupants being forced to look at such Slums of Calcutta-type features as a neighbor with sheets for blinds or an oddly placed dryer vent.  THESE ANIMALS DON'T EVEN APPRECIATE THE $1.6 MILLION GIFT I'M BRINGING TO THIS SHITHOLE YOU CALL A NEIGHBORHOOD.

Maybe it'll bring the prices down!  Nah.  Somehow our friend Andrew must convince some rube to drop that kind of money for yet another featureless box, this one inconveniently located not in the Mission.  He is utterly stymied by the impossibility of this task until it dawns on him there might be a TECH SHUTTLE nearby, a phrase he repeats with the intensity and determination that a pilgrim on the way to Lourdes might deploy the Ave Maria.  Later, when Andrew for some reason is meeting Justin for drinks outside the Balboa Cafe (I think), a tech shuttle goes by and Andrew LEAPS FROM HIS CHAIR, chasing it, moaning "tech shuuuuuuutle tech shuuuuuuuuutle" as if his implorations might cause GBUS TO MTV to jump from its assigned stops and pick up bright-eyed young tech monsters on the Very Wrong Side of the Hill.  But alas, it recedes into the night, along with Andrew's dreams.

This is a good place to add that Balboa Cafe is a terrible, terrible place.

What of Justin?  When he's not begging Andrew for his eponymous domain name back, what else is he doing?  He's selling the house on San Carlos, and to do this he has invited both brokers and prospective (tech) buyers, who all arrive at the same time looking like immaculately-clad parents and their potentially bright but ugly and ill-dressed children.  Shockingly, Developer Beard did not remove every interior wall to transform a perfectly fine house into Massive Cattle Enclosure Floor Plan, but thoughtfully provided a "Tesla charger" for the garage.  Justin shakes down some dork for $3.5 million BUT WAIT this surely loathsome person doesn't have a Tesla.  He or she has a Range Rover and it won't fit in the garage BZZZZZZZZZT that'll be a two-to-three month delay.  Not a problem!  I'll be in Gstaad.  Ring me when the Rovie fits.

Relentlessly cheerful Roh, meanwhile, has been lobbed the penthouse at 8 Octavia, that building that looks like a huge window air conditioner right when you get off the freeway.  Inside, of course, it looks like EVERY OTHER PLACE ON THIS SHOW.  Design is certainly not my forte, but has it always been this uniform?  Or is just a recent development that every high-end interior is COMPLETELY INDISTINGUISHABLE from the next?  If you dropped the Senior VP of Product Ninja or whatever from Google into any one of these places, s/he would not have the slightest chance in hell of telling you whether or not s/he was in his/her OWN FUCKING HOUSE or someone else's.

I don't have a picture this week, so look at this baby chihuahua instead.

Roh has a plan.  He will secure the attendance of architect Stanley Saitowitz at his open house party.  Apparently Stanley Saitowitz has the panty-dropping prowess of an architectural Channing Tatum and his mere presence alone will empty wallets and hearts.  After a series of unsuccessful phone calls, Roh finally sits outside Stanley's office in his car which may not be the best idea for a Muslim dude stalking a famous Jewish guy, but Roh isn't rendered or anything and Stanley shows up to his party, gets in some selfies, and hopefully gets motherfucking PAID.

It's just another day in Our Garbage City.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Olds at the Pitchfork Music Festival

Hey guess what I'm back at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, just like 5 years ago! I can't imagine I'll be back 5 years from now. I mean, I'm no stranger to bring the oldest person at a show but 5 years from now the kids will be asking "Whose grandfather is that?" instead of "Whose young-looking attractive uncle is that?"

All day yesterday it looked like it might rain. It finally started around 3:30. At first we were watching Ex Hex (good, better than I thought) in the rain and then they suddenly left the stage and HOLY MOTHER OF GOD an epochal, end of days feeling downpour started and a man with a British accent came on the PA and said the festival was closed. At this point it was raining so hard it was like breathing water. To someone who lives in California like me the whole thing was confusing and frightening. What is this? Why is this happening to me? Does this usually last for 20 minutes or 6 hours? Is there a FEMA Evacuation Center I should go to?

We went to a bar instead. It was only a few blocks from the festival but oddly empty. They reopened the festival about 30 minutes later. 

Here's who we saw. Bully (sorta pictured above) were keeping the riot grrrl torch lit lo these many years later and were great. 

Protomartyr is some kind of post rock art punk thing I don't understand so it was kinda lost on me. 

Parquet Courts were great. True story, last night we saw the guitar player outside our hotel and my friend Tom said "Hey great set man!" and he looked taken aback because he probably doesn't get recognized a ton but the girl he was with said "That's so cool!" so I'm glad someone is enjoying low grade celebrity. 

It started to get really, really crowded around 6 which is bad for me because I hate crowds of people and also crowds and people. It was crowded while we watched the New Pornographers, who were good and also AC Newman said he wished Pitchfork gave out more "zero point five ratings" which seemed unnecessarily snarky but that's ok. 

[CORRECTION: Apparently what he said was "Sometimes I have a quarrel with Pitchfork. Sometimes I wish they gave us 0.5 more."  Ok then.]

We just hung around where we were while Future Islands played on another stage. They are really not very good and also I'm not even sure why they were here because as I understand it Pitchfork is more oriented towards alternative music whatever that means these days and not stuff that might be playing in a Dodge dealership in Racine. 

Then was Sleater-Kinney. You can tell they were starting when girls with pink hair and lots of tattoos started pushing by you. I've always thought they were dramatically overrated but maybe it's just that they're very good at what they do and I just don't like their songs at all. Anyway we left. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Million Dickhead Listing SF: Worse Than I Thought

You guys, I actually didn't loathe everyone on this show after the first episode and I thought I was getting soft or whatever but NOT TO WORRY because this episode cleared all that up.  Let us turn our attention to some place on San Carlos that some "developer" with a beard has evicted a bunch of cool people from and gutted and is now turning into another grey flatscreen media room open concept nightmare.

"Techies love when a property looks Victorian on the outside but they want modern inside," says JUSTIN, who I suspect secretly hates himself but can't let on.  Isn't this just the best one-line metaphor for Today's San Francisco?  "We want everything to appear cool, but we actually want it to be as dangerous as playing Call of Duty in our former dorm room at Cornell."  Justin promises Beard $3.25 mil for the San Carlos place.

Justin has an assistant named PIERRE who arrives for a meeting clutching a dead raccoon to his chest in another metaphor for the Changing City.

Pierre says he is "fitting in well here, like a glove," and he wants everyone at the all hands meeting to put the lotion in the basket.

Since the gut-job on San Carlos is icky and horrible before we put in Surround Sound and a Viking range, Justin markets it to the vapid apperie by conducting some kind of Occupying Army Walking Tour of the Mission and says "I'm kind of like the Pied Piper of the Mission District" without any apparent irony or awareness that the OG Pied P led rats out of the City whereas BOMP BOMP BOMP I'm not going to hit you over the head with this any more.

Justin takes them to a "new place" which I have identified as Cease and Desist with my superior research skills which means I entered the address into Google and also to Hog & Rocks which is a great neighborhood hang if you like $30 burgers & fries.

Let's move on.  Ruh-Roh is still trying to unload that hotel in St. Francis Wood and changes up strategies by going away from bootie parties and instead trying to push it on the Olds by which I mean people my age.  The seller's agent, a Cruella de Ville type with angry lipstick and the haughty manner of an antebellum plantation owner wife, basically spits in his face for a $6.2 million all cash offer but is cool with 6.3.  To translate for normal people like us, that's like saying absolutely no way will I pay more than $8.99 for a twelver of PBR but oh OK fuck it you got me I'll pay $9.50.  FINE. YOU DRIVE A HARD BARGAIN SIR.

There's a lot of shit with Andrew and that place in Alamo but who really gives a fuck.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Things that used to be cool or at least tolerable and are now almost certain dbag markers



Superpremium vodka


Private planes



Working in the technology industry

Burning Man

Being a DJ


Friday, July 10, 2015

Million Dickhead Listing: SF

Million Dollar Listing is a docudrama about annoying people helping loathsome people buy ostentatious apartments in New York.  It took a few years, but now San Francisco apparently has enough loathsome people to form the critical mass necessary for an outpost of the show here, so LET IT BE SO.

MDL:SF focuses on three real estate agents, two white males and a token Afghani Muslim male.  "Justin" is a native San Franciscan.  How do we know that?  Because native San Franciscans are like vegans or people who don't own a TV and make sure you know that in the first 13 seconds of meeting you.  "Andrew" shares a loft in South Beach with his fiance Paul and I'm guessing one to three dogs.  He grew up in Florida and had to steal toilet paper to survive.  Roh escaped from Afghanistan on a donkey and suddenly Andrew's toilet paperless past doesn't seem so shitty WHOOPS SORRY ABOUT THAT.

I grudgingly have to admit that Roh is actually kind of likable what with his indomitable spirit and pretty wife and cute baby and whatever.

IN THIS EPISODE each agent is tasked with selling a different MILLION DOLLAR LISTING.  As you know, a MILLION DOLLAR LISTING in San Francisco is just a VACANT FUCKING LOT, so this show is actually Multi Million Dollar Listing.

This is a $1,000,000 vacant lot at 501 Noriega. Bring a tent! 
Justin is trying to sell an ugly house in Noe Valley with one of those complete interior gut jobs where everything is now grey and flat.  The "business manager" for the people who currently own it is a severe little man who wants $4 million for the place.  Even Justin seems taken aback at this unblinking rapaciousness.

Justin seems to live with a married couple and their child in the Marina, but oddly does not appear to be a manny or in a polyamorous triad with them.  Maybe Justin made less than $200K last year and thus can't afford his own place.

Andrew is tasked with selling a concrete box in Alamo, which is not in San Francisco or actually anywhere near San Francisco and actually doesn't really exist at all except in the sense that it's a zip code containing houses out there in the far fucking East Bay somewhere.  Somehow Andrew is more annoying than anyone else on this show, and I'm including the entrepeneur with "Adventurer" in his Twitter bio.  Anyway, if you want to live in a magazine spread in Alamo that's your problem.

Roh is trying to unload a monstrous pile in St. Francis Wood for like $6,000,000.  PROBLEM: Everyone knows that St. Francis Wood is for olds who know better than to spend $6,000,000 on a house.  How to get the young, hip, and horrible into SFW?  SOLUTION: Market the place as a soundproofed after-hours party palace!  That should go over well with the CEO of Wells Fargo next door.   Roh's business partner Joel is a game show host crossed with a Pomeranian and I hope we will see more of Joel let me tell you.

The producers bring our three agents together at a clearly staged party at the end, where Andrew announces that he's bought the domain names of the other two guys' actual people names.  What kind of weird fucked up stalker shit is that. That is one step away from showing them telephoto pictures of themselves in the shower.  Why are you such a fucking creep Andrew.

FINAL SCORE: Justin sells the Noe Valley imported Italian countertop for $3.8 mil.  Andrew is mad because some guy with an accent invited the owners to the party where he was going to sell the house and now they want to keep it, destroying everyone's life in the process.  As far as I could tell, Roh has not yet unloaded Geritol Studio 54 and still has an enormous and frankly frightening beard.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

OK, maybe Uber isn't all bad

The Wife and I went to a wedding in Saratoga, CA on Sunday.  Saratoga, if you're not familiar, is a cutesy little town with shops and restaurants and white people in shorts.  The wedding venue was one of those fancy gardens-type places that mostly exist just to be a place to have weddings.  I was under the initial impression that we could walk there from our hotel, since it appeared to be about a half-mile away on Google maps.  What Google maps did not reveal was that the road there was a tiny 2-lane thing with no sidewalks and cars whizzing by, and the gardens were at the top of a large hill with no sidewalks leading up to it, so ergo, no walking.

Obviously the open bar is the killer app of weddings and there was no way either of us were driving, so I called the local cab company and told the guy who answered we needed a cab at the hotel.  He asked me where we were going and when I said "Mystical Wedding Gardens," he suddenly said "Sorry we don't have any drivers in the area," which is of course total bullshit because he didn't say that until I told him we were only going about a half a mile and he clearly wasn't interested in a fare that low.  Ok, fuck you then.

So I turned to Uber.  Despite its relative proximity to Uber headquarters in SF, it appears that there is but one UberX driver serving the Saratoga area.  His name is Ali and he was just as nice as you can be.  Ali left his house and came and picked us up and took us to the wedding for $10.  $10 is a lot to go a half a mile but cheaper than lifelong paralysis after being hit by a car while walking on a 2-lane road or a DUI.

When the wedding was over around 10 pm, Ali left his house and came and picked us up and drove us back to our hotel, this time for only $7.  Bargain!  Ali seemed positively delighted to ferry two semi-drunk people around the corner to their hotel at 10 o'clock at night.  Thanks, Ali.

The moral of this mostly boring story is that I like to hate on Uber just as much as the next guy, but once again, the refusal of cab companies to provide the service for which they FUCKING EXIST proves that we need something like Uber or Lyft.  Now just start treating your employees like employees and not this contractor bullshit and we'll all be cool.

The end.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The solution this city needs: GTFO

You know the problems.  There's nowhere to live and the rents are ridiculous!  BART is too fucking crowded!  Even if you say fuck BART, I'm driving, that's a goddam nightmare too!

Here are some possible solutions: (1) build a fuck ton more housing, especially in San Francisco; (2) Build a second BART tube from, I don't know, Dogpatch to Alameda to Fruitvale; (3) Build underground tunnels for cars all over everywhere.

That all sounds very expensive!  The second BART tube alone, which everyone basically already agrees has to be built, is gonna cost 12 billion dollars.  12 billion dollars!  That's probably more than Larry Ellison spends on yachts every year.

ALLOW ME TO SUGGEST AN ALTERNATIVE.  What's the common link between every single one of these problems?  TOO MANY PEOPLE.  Look at this:

Graph courtesy of FRED, some kind of economic thing blah blah blah Federal Rsserve Bank blah blah blah
Back in 1990, there were 723,496 people in San Francisco, at least until I moved here on October 15, then there were 723,497.  A lot of people, but in 2014 it's 852,469, including the doofus I saw in the Mission yesterday wearing a Facebook t-shirt, like who even does that? Why the fuck would anyone wear a t-shirt that says "Facebook" on it?

BUT I DIGRESS.  That means in the past 24 years we've added about 130,000 new people and zero new BART tubes and like 3 new apartments. No wonder there's a 2-hour wait for fucking brunch.

What we really need is plain: FEWER PEOPLE.

So here's the plan: We will offer 100,000 people a check for $20,000 if they move out of the Bay Area.  That's it, no strings.  You pack up your shit and hit the road, you get twenty thousand American dollars.  Holy shit!  You're already almost halfway there to owning this $45,000 charmer on Cabernet Parkway in Reno.  With 20 grand, you could probably buy a whole town in North Dakota or whatever.

It will be called the General Transitional Funding Office, or GTFO.

TOTAL COST: 2 billion dollars.  That's it!  Less than 20% of what the new BART tube alone will cost.

We can even break it up across the Bay Area a little.  Let's clear out, say, 60,000 people from SF, because that's clearly where it's most crowded, and then maybe 20,000 from Alameda County and 10 each from San Mateo and Santa Clara.  Marin and Contra Costa, you're on your own.  There's plenty of room out there.

Imagine SF with 60,000 fewer people!  It'll be just like it was in 2006.  We weren't really bitching about rents and that kind of shit in 2006!  It was an earthly paradise.  Look at these apartment ads from August 2006:

A delightful one-bedroom on Russian Hill for $1500!  A large 2 bedroom flat in Laurel Heights for $2750!  Yeah, it's still expensive but considering that ZERO BEDROOM apartments are now going for $2700, it seems like a pretty good deal.

Of course there will be enforcement issues.  What if someone who's taken advantage of GTFO tries to sneak back in?  I don't know, we'll figure it out.  Maybe a master list of everyone who got the money and check anyone who tries to rent an apartment or get a mortgage for a place in SF against the list.  We can work out the details later.  What if a homeless person takes the money and comes right back?  Who gives a fuck, we already spend something like $30,000 per year per homeless, so it's a bargain.

Just imagine San Francisco with 60,000 fewer people. Room to stretch out and breathe!  One less jackass looking at their phone and blocking the door on Muni!  It's only 2 billion dollars. Let's make it happen.