Archive for October, 2009

The future of journalism: ‘Oh shit!!’

There’s a scene in The Wire where Omar, a psychopath with a shotgun whose trade is robbing drug dealers, gets into a drug stash house he intends to rob by disguising himself as an old lady in a wheelchair. Once he pulls off his wig and pulls his weapon from under the lap blanket, one of the guards realizes what’s happening and blurts out, “Oh shit!” And Omar gleefully echoes him: “‘Oh shit!!’ Yeah!”

Somehow that’s what came to mind when I saw this announcement of a program at City Arts and Lectures on the future of journalism. Why, just today in the NYT’s media blog came the news that the Newark Star-Ledger is planning on more newsroom employee buyouts-slash-layoffs. I have the feeling the disemployed reporters felt somewhat the same way as the drug dealers felt when they realized they had been tricked by Omar Little. They had the feeling it was coming, they did everything they could to prevent it, and when it came, all they can do is blurt, “Oh shit!”

Right. Anyway, at City Arts and Lectures, “two seasoned journalists and editors will discuss the current state of print journalism, the impact and implications of the shift toward a more digital world, and the future of print media.” Good luck with that!

‘Find some founders’ in SF this week

This post on BlogHer about dating in L.A. contrasts northern and southern California men:

“You know what you need?” she asked. “You need a founder. A smart guy in tech, a real guy who cares about that stuff in your head. You need a founder. I’m going to get you one. Girls like us, we know too much for Hollywood to get us. We’ll go find some founders…”

Welp, Oracle’s in town again, and the city’s crawling with tech geeks. Now’s your chance.

Muni Fight

This weekend, sitting under the oaks near Casa de Fruta, in ye olde garb, one of my friends mentioned the YouTube Muni Fight, and how the Cantonese back-of-the-bus cat calls had just been translated: “Hit her, hit her where it hurts.”

If you have no idea what I’m talking about:
From Muni Diaries, the translation: Muni Fisticuffs
Original YouTube video
Interview with the cell phone filmer

Factual point: despite MUNI saying it’s the 20, the filmer says it’s before the Stockton Tunnel, and the 20 doesn’t go through the tunnel. So I’m just confused. The young woman who stood in between them is my new hero.

Loma Prieta 20th anniversary: an introduction


The Bay Area is about to get a major dose of 20th anniversary coverage of the Loma Prieta earthquake of Oct. 17, 1989, which killed 63 people and injured over 3000.

If you weren’t here, the SFGate website is revving up coverage, and this 10-minute video is a good place to start. In the meantime, here’s a short glossary of terms you’ll hear thrown around for the next week:

Loma Prieta
A 3786-foot peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains (Google map) between Morgan Hill and Santa Cruz which gave its name to the earthquake, the epicenter of which was nearby.
1989 World Series (“Battle of the Bay”)
The baseball championship series between the American League-winning Oakland A’s and the National League-winning San Francisco Giants, Game 3 of which was about to get underway when the earthquake hit. The World Series ensured that the Goodyear blimp and other national TV infrastructure was on scene to cover the earthquake.
Cypress Structure
An elevated double-deck freeway structure, built in the late 1950s, which collapsed during the quake (picture above); part of Interstate 880 through West Oakland. Site of the most deaths from the earthquake.
Marina District
A San Francisco neighborhood built on bay fill soil which liquified during the quake, leading to building collapses, a gas leak, and the worst fire caused by the quake.

San Francisco: dirty, credulous, overcrowded?

This post by a resident has the good and bad of San Francisco, from his perspective. He’s so upset about the downside of the city that he warns readers:

If you enjoy living in San Francisco, stop reading right now.

Why? Is he going to tell me something that I haven’t learned in my thirty years here? Something that will make me boogie off to Atlanta or Denver?

No, that’s not the reason.

If you don’t stop reading, you’ll probably come across something you disagree with, then you’ll want to leave a nasty comment, then you’ll realize I don’t accept comments, then you’ll email me, and then I’ll have to ignore your email because I warned you not to read this.

Aw! He doesn’t want to deal with someone disagreeing with him! It’s almost cute.

OK, to save time, here is his worst criticism: San Francisco is dirty and overcrowded, and this implies that the citizens value their delusions about the city and themselves more than they do its residents, especially the residents who are poorer and less privileged.

Don’t be afraid, Alex Payne. I don’t disagree. I think it’s a good argument, and also a true picture of the city. (In fact, you should have stuck to that. The other criticism, that you run into too many other tech industry people and feel you always have to be on, to properly represent your latest business idea or image — oh, come on.)

Comments on Payne’s piece welcome here, even if he doesn’t want to deal with them there.

Coffee Tour of Mission and SoMa


Earlier this week I had a free morning and decided to take a walk and have some coffee. Of course it’s never just that easy so rather than hitting up just one coffee shop, I thought I’d go on a mini tour of a few of my go to shops along a few mile stretch just to see how they all stacked up against each other. I started off in the Mission and knew I had to hit up Ritual. For years this was the place I’d travel across the city to visit but for some reason it seems to have dropped off a bit recently. Or maybe the other offerings have just gotten much better. Maybe it’s just that the people there don’t seem to care as much as they used to. That said, the were the only place I visited that had vegan donuts available so that more than justified the trip there. Don’t get me wrong, stacked up against most other coffee shops in the city Ritual is still very high up on the list, it just happens they weren’t the very top of the places I visited. (more…)

SF Chronicle dumps own bestseller list

Thanks to a tweet from former Metblogger Michelle Richmond, I saw a nice writeup by another local author, Frances Dinkelspiel, on the San Francisco Chronicle changing its ways when it comes to publishing a list of locally best-selling books. Due to staff cutbacks, the Chronicle’s own bestseller list is no more. Instead they’re publishing the list compiled by the Northern California Independent Booksellers’ Association.

“A San Francisco Chronicle bestseller” has a nicer ring to it than “A Northern California bestseller,” but Dinkelspiel makes the point that the NCIBA’s list is more comprehensive and draws from a wider and more diverse list of independent bookstores.

Hardly Strictly Bike Parking

It was great to see the SFBC‘s valet service packed to capacity sat and sun at HSB. Even greater to see so many people riding in to the event. Check out the ad hoc parking at the entrance off JFK. It’ll be a great day when this many people ride their bikes to work!

Bow Bow – Edelweiss in Tagalog

It’s come to my attention that we don’t give enough attention to our local great bars.


That’s from my birthday party last year at BOW BOW, a karaoke bar on Grant at Broadway. One of my favorite moments was when Candy kicked out 10 privileged twenty-somethings (I’m sure they Yelped about it immediately). Why? Because one of the guys was ordering a gin and tonic about 10 different times and refusing it each time, loudly. Why you would get a mixed drink here, is beyond my knowledge. It would take you about 5 minutes to realize your best bet is sake, Chinese whiskey, or bottled beer. Friends I made that night- another set of local regulars, two guys who considered Candy their adoptive mom, and 3 very professional old guys singing standards.

The song book has listings in Cantonese, Tagalog and English, and you will be rated, not only by the score on the big screen, but by the three guys sitting in the back waiting for their turn. One of the bartenders is opera-quality – she’s the one singing Edelweiss in Cantonese.

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