Spots Unknown

This Mind Blowing Video Does NOT Use Green Screen

Some great San Francisco locations as well.

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This is #cappstreet on Instagram

Capp Street, San Francisco, on Instagram

Coming to Instagram as late as I have, I was shocked to find that there was zero Capp Street coverage. No longer!

There are reasons for healthy fear of Capp, but there is also beauty if you bother to look. So come on, have a look. And post pics. I'll repost nice ones @SpotsUnknown.

Urban Tree to Bicycle

Bill Holloway and Mauro Hernandez, of Masterworks Woodworking, salvage condemned city trees, then build beautiful bicycles out of them. The story of these bikes goes from the felling of a family's guardian tree, through the woodworking process, and finally, the completion of art you can ride.

They're self-taught, and the custom bikes are an offshoot of their larger woodworking and detailing business. Bill is a native San Franciscan, and his family has deep roots here. The dynamic between him and Mauro is a compelling, friendly rivalry.

I fist encountered Bill while shooting him at Bay Area Maker Faire. This time around, it was great getting to know him and his work better, and setting him and Mauro loose to ride their creations in some stunning San Francisco locations. (Watch for the daredevil downhill stuff - these bikes are decidedly NOT made for that kind of terrain!)

Thanks to David Molina for the gripping original soundtrack, and to Chris Marino for his dope cinematography skills.

Time Lapse of Undulating Flowers

The recent TEDx event at the Palace of Fine Arts featured Louie Schwartzberg, who claims he's "the only cinematographer in the world who has literally been shooting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week continuously for more than 30 years."

Whether that's true or not, there is some amazing footage sprinkled throughout this video. I especially like the flowers at the beginning.

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Time Lapse of Colossus Assembly at Maker Faire Bay Area


Photo by Matt Richardson

I'm proud to have been on one of three teams shooting over 100 of the best projects at this year's Maker Faire. The centerpiece was Colossus. This assembly time lapse gives a good feel for its size and presence, but it's not the same as seeing it on-site. Although, standing next to it means you don't get time lapse!


Shot by Nat Wilson-Heckathorn

Happy Quake Day: The Mint

Is that guy in the bowler hat checking his iPhone?

Image courtesy US Library of Congress.

Happy ’06 Earthquake Day: Stanford

This statue on the Stanford University campus just couldn't take it any more.

Image courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library.

Tenderloin Getting a Documentary

This teaser for an announced forthcoming documentary tags the TL one of the "sketchiest" in the world city, which kind of irks me the way calling it "colorful" or "crackhead-y" does. Yes, there is a lot of down-and-out going on there, and it's not the "safest" place in San Francisco.

As the teaser also shows, though, there are bold characters living there. Characters doing shit. Crazy shit? Yes, most of the time. But it's action-packed, as the folks stuck there try to squeeze some amount of pleasure from their daily circumstances.

The documentary follows the creation of an epic mural by renowned local artist Mona Caron celebrating the neighborhood that map makers like to omit and most SFers try to avoid.

UPDATE: Film is screening March 8, 2011, 7 p.m. - Bay Area Women in Film & Media (BAWIFM) Annual Shorts Showcase in celebration of International Women’s Day. Hobart Building, 582 Market St., San Francisco, CA. Get tickets.

True Teaser: NSFW History of San Francisco Smut

History of Smut in San Francisco

I recognize John Waters, talking about the heyday of the Tenderloin, but that's about it. Without lower thirds it's hard to know who the others are (do you know them?). But there is some great vintage porn/hustling footage in this NSFW teaser vid.

UPDATE: Laughing Squid picked up on this post and significantly expanded it.

Food, Sex, War

Food & Sex, San Francisco

Gianni of Gianni's North Beach reports that local food radio icon, Gene Burns, is pushing the idea of a food war with NYC to settle the issue of culinary superiority once and for all:

He even claimed he once tried to organize a battle, but that NYC declined because they knew they’d lose, for the following reasons:

  • We have great local produce, fish, meats, cheeses, artisan food products and wines.
  • Culinary talent, ethnic diversity, and fabulous food opportunities abound.
  • We’re passionate and serious foodies.

Well, duh.

The panel discussion Burns appeared in was part of the opening of a new food exhibit at the public library.

In the Skylight Room is a collection of ephemera devoted to food and sex. What's more sexy AND appetizing than a mermaid riding a lobster?

Mermaid Riding Lobster, San Francisco

Do Androids Dream of Wall Mounted Art?

Do Androids Dream of Wall Mounted Art? San Francisco

Having questions about whether becoming "transhuman" will feel great or kind of, like, weird? Whether the promise of living forever and morphing into a god is something new when it's presented by science as opposed to superstition?

If so, this new art show probably won't be of any help to you. It assumes that ushering in a post-human intelligence (The Singularity) will absolutely be super awesome for everyone.

Singularity Schwag - Transform & Transcend; San Francisco

You can understand how an immortality cult of rich, powerful nerds has a need to equate science and art in order to make the idea of evolving into a machine feel less apocalyptic. But I fear they're gonna have to do better than this.

For example, I give Google credit for their Droid commercials, especially the one of the miners who discover a floating chunk of ore that converts humans into machines - it's bold and dark and, aside from the presumption that we'll be given a choice about the conversion, doesn't sugar coat the horror that would no doubt accompany the process. You've probably seen it:

I recommend repeated viewings. Pay attention to the storyline here: Open on what looks like earth, at a futuristic strip mine. A group of folks who cannot breathe the atmosphere enter a sci-fi gate, plunge deep into the earth, pass an empty helmet (it isn't like theirs - it looks like that of a current-day military pilot), and finally enter the chamber where the levitating mystery ore somehow leads one brave guy to take off his space suit's sleeve and insert his bare arm into the thing. His arm immediately turns into a machine (with a Verizon-powered Droid phone on the end, naturally).

The best thing about the spot is that it's fucking cool. The tangible sense of menace in the story raises more questions than it answers.

An earlier spot is simpler, and doesn't include choice - in the reflection of a closeup of an eyeball, we see someone is simply browsing online and in the process is converted into a machine:

In contrast, here is the propaganda of the Singularitarian cult in its rawest form:

There are no questions here, just answers. It reeks of desperation and fear - fear that no one else on the planet believes their immortalist vision and, therefore, their own day of Transformation will never come.

Relax, guys. Assuming the Machine Intelligence will take cognizance of us at all when it emerges, I'm sure it can resurrect us from the dead along with all of our relatives who have ever passed on. Take a lesson from your religious cousins - have a little faith. If nothing else, it's more becoming.

Ironically, Google's approach will probably sweeten people up to the notion of surrendering to the Singularity more than the pure propaganda approach will. It seems that the Google hive mind understands irony better than the wanna-be transhumans. Which is truly, epically, cosmically fucking ironic.

Video: Warping Minds at Musée Mécanique

Musee Mecanique, San Francisco

Nestled amongst the schlock and obesity of Fisherman's Wharf is Musée Mécanique, a working collection of vintage carnival psychedelia. A true San Francisco treasure.

Here is your video:

Music performed & recorded by David Molina.

In this video, local musician and sound artist David Molina captured native audio from the museum and created surreal soundscapes. They were used in an art installation, Homage to Musée Mécanique.

Day of the Dead from Last Year

Our boy, Daniel Jarvis, is covering Halloween this year, but this piece he did a year ago should tickle you nonetheless. Stay tuned for his latest...

“The City is My Sweetheart”

The city is my Sweetheart Tattoo, San Francisco
Image by Jonathan Moore

From the Spots Unknown Flickr pool.

Sally Rand in 1933: Unfair to Nudism! (NSFW)

Last week I posted some photos by Seymour Snaer from 1939, a couple of which were of Sally Rand's Nude Ranch from the Golden Gate International Exposition that took place on Treasure Island. Rand is worth a closer look, if you know what I mean. Take a peep after the jump...

Photos of San Francisco in 1939

San Francisco 1939 by Seymour Snaer, cover image

1939 was a big year for San Francisco, during which it attempted to convince the world that it had fully recovered from the catastrophes of 1906 and was once again a city to be reckoned with. Completion of the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge was punctuated with the International Exhibition on Treasure Island.

For one photographer/photojournalist, that year left a lasting impression.

The photographer's name is Seymour Snaer, and the images were published in 1980 in a book titled, San Francisco 1939: An Intimate Photographic Portrait. Snaer had over 100 rolls of film from that one year, so publisher Bill Owens reprinted select shots from negatives, rescuing them from the bad cropping done by newspapers like the Examiner, who Snaer had worked for.

I've Googled around and not found much mention of the man, nor have I seen any of his images. The (used) book is listed on some sites, but none even have the cover image (above).

I'm including just some of the photos (in low-res format taken with my camera), and the captions that go with them. Additionally, I've excerpted some text from the body of the book. The writing has a raw feel to it; you can tell it was written by someone who doesn't write, but really has something to say.

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Some of the highlights: Real fishermen using nets in the Bay; Belt and Southern Pacific trains; view from Twin Peaks; Sally Rand's Nude Ranch (NSFW); ski jumping on Treasure Island; auto polo.

Tip of the hat to Jonathan at Viracocha for gifting the book to me (that was a very kind way to get me to stop bugging you about your fantastic shop).

The above image is from the cover, portraying still and movie photographers capturing President Franklin Roosevelt's motorcade who came to see the Expo before it opened, in '38. Snaer writes:

Two of the guys in the bunch were very famous newsreel cameramen in the '30s, Joe Rucker and Frank Vail. They used hand-crank cameras ... I had big bulbs and all of a sudden - a bulb exploded! Secret Servicemen ran all over the place. It really embarrassed me. [p. 24]

The following images and text are all directly from the book. (Keep in mind that when he says "today," Snaer means 1980.)

Note: I'm pretty sure the copyright, originally reserved by Snaer himself, isn't being actively enforced, but in case it is, I'm only posting low-res images, and will gladly remove them if a rights-holder contacts me. Check out the photos/text after the jump...

Emperor Norton vs. George Washington the Second

Frederick Coombs/George Washington the Second, San Francisco
George Washington the Second beside a bust of his namesake. (I think he looks more like Ben Franklin.) Image courtesy San Francisco Public Library.

His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Norton I, in addition to being the prototype of Frank Chu, is credited with visions of a suspension bridge across the Golden Gate (some suspect this to have been made up by others later) and a tunnel toward Oakland before those ideas were considered sane.

There were other eccentrics who paraded San Francisco's streets in the 1850s and 60s, but for some reason the only one we still celebrate is Norton. It is a monopoly that he, above all, would have cherished; but just like his attempt to corner the rice market in 1852 which eventually sent him over the rainbow, this monopoly may not last.

Submitted for your approval: Frederick Coombs, a.k.a., "George Washington the Second." Learn all about him after the jump...

Need Lettuce for Your Anti-Aircraft Guns?

A. Acaccia & Sons, San Francisco

A. Acaccia & Sons has got all your leafy-wartime needs covered.

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Huge Ships, Tiny Ships, Polar Bears

San Francisco Maritime National Park

On Thursday, I attended the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association's 60th birthday bash. I'm a new member, and so I'm just beginning to learn about this little gem, and the maritime history of SF.

The park includes that bad-ass ship you see at Hyde Street Pier (in the photo at the bottom of this post), a submarine you can go into, and a museum in the art deco building at Aquatic Park with jaw-dropping ship models and other miniaturizations.

San Francisco Maritime National Park
The inside and outside of the Aquatic Park Bathhouse Building are covered with awesome WPA-era murals and mosaics.

Learn all about the association and the park here.

San Francisco Maritime National Park
Beware: Polar Bears often swim in adjacent Aquatic Park, so if you're sensitive to seeing half-naked old guys who like to maximize "shrinkage," look away - ooh, what a pretty ship!

“I Got It At Ross”

You will be singing the ridiculous chorus for hours, I promise.

I'm unsold on whether Abraham Linkin is "an unpredictable, unapologetic and extremely creative Alternative Comedy Hip Hop duo," but I will say this: Daniel Jarvis cut one helluva video for their ode to bargain shopping.

You can't go wrong with such great San Francisco locations, funny interaction with the streets, a catchy hook, and solid editing skills.

"Pots for mah kitchen!"

UPDATE: Just realized Uptown Almanac blogged a low-res version of this yesterday.