Spots Unknown

Can You Tell Me What’s Going on Here?

Art Car Hatred? San Francisco

I Hate Art Cars, San Francisco

I've seen a lot of art cars in my time, but someone please explain this to me.

BBoys at Market & Powell

Market & Powell from About Her Films on Vimeo.

Original Video: Pre-Summer Sunday in Dolores Park

Pre-Summer Sunday in Dolores Park from Spots Unknown on Vimeo.

Unknown? Admittedly, hard to make that case.

I mean, I could weave a clumsy tapestry of ugly logic suggesting that, even in spots that are "familiar," elements of those spots can still reveal themselves - how much is truly "known" of any spot? And when you're at Dolores Park, do you have any clue what's happening a few hundred feet away?

Furthermore, time changes everything. Maybe we're documenting DP for future times, after The Big One, when the park will have long become a memorial to those brave hipsters who tumbled into a fiery chasm while texting or shotgunning beers. "In Your wisdom, Lord, You took them... So say we All..."

But, to be honest, this is red meat and we know it.

Shot last Sunday, May 2nd, this video is the first collaboration between myself and hotshot local video dude, Daniel Jarvis. Daniel was featured around the blogs a while back for his stunning footage of Dia de los Muertos. Give him some love:

Document Document
Welcome to the Stage

We're going to be producing a series of video pieces providing off-angle views onto the spots we cover, so stay tuned here, or follow our Twitter and Vimeo feeds.

The music in this video is "You Hid" by Toro y Moi.

Warholian Video on Banksy Chinatown Bomb – Also, Police are NOT Investigating

BANKSY by Troy Holden

Troy Holden took a photo of a sign tacked up next to the Chinatown Banksy piece. A friend has translated it as:

Please don't file a police complaint, the cops are investigating and it will be taken down soon.

Banksy Chinatown, Do Not Remove sign, San Francisco

A quick call to the police indicates no report and no investigation. According to Sgt. Vinnie Catanzaro:

I'm not aware of any issue that has come up.

So, who posted this, and why?

ALSO, here's a cool new video from the site that broke this story yesterday:

Here's their very detailed Flickr set.

ALSO, Banksy #3 and #4.

New Banksy Art in Chinatown?

New Banksy in Chinatown? San Francisco
Photo by Kat Cuffe is claiming it is:

Our English mate is in town fresh for the premier of Exit Through the Gift Shop his new documentary and obviously was up early this morning bombing our lovely city.

Can anyone confirm this for us? If you can spot the exact street, we can confirm in Google Streetview.

UPDATE 1: Above photo has been spotted in the photostream of this Flickr user. Still no clues on exact location, though. (Via)

UPDATE 2: Apparently, there's another one in The Mission. (Via)

UPDATE 3: Confirmed! Another Flickr user has seen the art in Chinatown and uploaded a pic:

New Banksy in San Francisco' Chinatown, confirmed!

UPDATE 4: Commenter Chartno3, who seems to be the owner of the original second Flickr image, gives the location, Grant and Commercial Streets, and here we confirm that it is where claimed (who says I don't do investigative journalism?):

Banksy Spot Confirmed, San Francisco

UPDATE 5: I should be clear. The only thing we've "confirmed" is that two pieces have gone up that look like signature Banksy pieces - one in Chinatown and one in the Mission. They could be copycats. One internet commenter suggests Banksy usually signs his pieces. (True or not, it would be just as easy to fake that, so I'm not sure where this leads us.)

While we're at it, one other question that deserves asking is, were these pieces done (and with or without permission) by some marketing firm as publicity for the film?

(Spotted @)

The Urban Adventurers

Tourists vs. Artists vs. Infiltrators, San Francisco

A friend recently sent me an email with a link to this single-serving site for something called "The Flâneur Society" - based in San Francisco - where I was greeted by messages like these:


The Society provides a PDF book title, Guide to Getting Lost. Fun stuff.

That's all it took: a short while later, I fell into a rabbit hole of mental confusion and frantic Googling. It quickly became clear how the 19th Century concept of a flâneur went beyond the simple definition offered by the site above - "one who wanders without destination" - and in fact intersected with tourism, street photography, infiltration, and graffiti art - which in turn became points along a spectrum from passive awareness to deviant appropriation and expression. More after the jump...

“I Come From San Francisco”

"I Come From San Francisco"

In the name of lusting after music videos shot on San Francisco mass transit vehicles, I hereby make my contribution, with one of the best no-name hip-hop songs of all time.

"Yo, air-play, who tha fuck needs that? I just pump mad tracks on my por-ta-ble DAT!"

Janet Jackson Video Shot in Cartoon MUNI Station?

Janet Jackson Video on MUNI in San Francisco?

Jane at Uptown Almanac tries hard to make a San Francisco connection to this undeniably funky, adorable video. Alas, I cannot concur.

The stop they get off at is "Venice," and there are palm trees and a Hollywood sign...

The Best Thing About ‘Up in the Air’ Was San Francisco in the Title Sequence

The Best Thing About 'Up in the Air' was San Francisco in the Title Sequenc

An effective title sequence can give a film a lot of good will in the mind of the viewer while the filmmaker tries to establish what's necessary to draw folks in. If there was an Oscar category for Best Title Sequence (it has been suggested, and was rejected in 1999), "Up in the Air" would have gotten a vote from me, were I a voting member.

And not just because it features San Francisco very prominently. (You may recall that there are a total of 3 shots of San Francisco from the air in this sequence - watch it here.) More after the jump...

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Possibly the Best Use of San Francisco in a Film, Ever

Possibly the Best Use of San Francisco in a Film, Ever

Sure, we've got Bullitt, Dirty Harry, Streets of San Francisco, and Trauma. But hot damn, if this isn't the awesomest use of a San Francisco setting for a film sequence I've seen yet...

It's from the 1958 noir, The Lineup, and I challenge you to watch to the end of this 9-minute collection of clips. I promise you, if you haven't seen it before, the reward is tremendous.

Not only do you get to see the outside and inside of the Sutro Baths just 8 years before they burned down during demolition, but what's happening in these shots is downright fascinating. I won't spoil it except to say it involves one terribly sketchy Eli Wallach, a mysterious dude in a wheelchair, a cop, a blimp, and nuns.

Oh, and a climactic act of violence that has to be seen to be believed.

Part of me now wants to see the whole movie, but part of me just wants to hold in my memory the jarring assembly of clips below as a unified and complete work in itself. Check it out:

Sutro Baths Fire, 1966, San Francisco
Sutro Baths fire, 1966. Photo Copyright Brad Schram

(Video Spotted @)

“Playland at the Beach” Documentary Premier

Playland at the Beach

This now-extinct amusement park at Ocean Beach was established in the 1880s and dismantled in 1972. It has a rich, weird history. Rick Prelinger unveiled some great amateur footage in his latest Lost Landscapes screening in December.

On March 16th, the Balboa Theater will premier a full-length documentary about the park by Tom Wyrsch.

Gone now for more than 3 decades, it remains one of the city’s lost treasures. Go back in time to see Laffing Sal, the Fun House, the Carousel, the Big Dipper, the Diving Bell, Dark Mystery, Limbo, Fun-tier Town, and much, much more, all through the eyes of the people that were there. The first and only documentary ever made about Playland.

Playland Documentary, San Francisco

(Spotted @SF_Explorers)

When She Had a Face

When She Had a Face, from Flickr account of Orin Zebest

I really dig this close-up shot of the purple elven diva we linked to here. And I love seeing how she used to look (2007) before HATERS uglified her.

(Spotted @)

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Heshy Fried is Sadly Not Gay

Heshy Fried is Sadly Not Gay

The Manhattan-based comic ventured into the Castro District (he even got off of his bicycle!) and, in the midst of his many observations about the diversity and wonder of queer taxonomy, worried that he wasn't good enough to be gay:

I felt like I was in Mea Shearim in Israel, where I would walk and just stare at all the people as if it were the first time I was seeing their type. In Castro, I did the same thing because everyone seemed to become super exotic and interesting...

I saw a butch lesbian with a green Mohawk wearing a leather vest. I saw a man with a handlebar mustache holding hands with a guy in a kilt. I saw a skinny little guy who walked like a girl and I wondered if he ever had trouble maintaining that act, or was it even an act? I noticed a guy that could have been a chabad Rabbi, had he not been wearing baggy jeans and a t-shirt. I saw a lot of men with facial hair. Though, wait, in retrospect, maybe they weren’t even males...

No one gave me a second glance and I began to think that I was not good looking enough for these men. Maybe they could tell I was straight — even though I was wearing a dirty yellow shirt and spandex pants.

What do you think, readers? Is Heshy completely out of the running, or does he still have a shot? Here's some video to help you decide:


"24th Street Intersection" by Wayne Thiebaud

The artist Wayne Thiebaud is known for his paintings of "cakes, pastries...and toilets," but this 1977 interpretation of a mythical intersection at 24th Street and Mariposa, submitted by friend o' the blog Jacki, is our favorite - for obvious reasons.

Thiebaud once said:

"I was playing around with the abstract notions of edge - I was fascinated, living in San Francisco, by the way different streets just came in and then just vanished. So I sat out on a street corner and began to paint them." It was the "sense of edges appearing, things swooping around their own edges that I loved," he recounted (Wayne Thiebaud: A Paintings Retrospective, exh. cat., Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 2000, p. 58).

(via Goldenfiddlr)

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Now Online: Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 4

Now Online: Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 4

In case you missed Rick Prelinger's excellent screening of mostly amateur-shot archival footage back in December, has put it online in its entirety. Watch it:

To navigate a list of chapters, go to the site.

The Often-Missed Beauty of Graffiti Tags

Even folks who think of themselves as open-minded urbanoids who can appreciate a good "mural" - unlike these wankers - will often mutter about tags as being mere marking of territory - simple, unimaginative, unskilled fuck-you-ism.

The above visualization of the motion of tagging, however, seems to challenge this notion. Anyone who's ever paid attention to the kids on Muni as they swipe their markers and fill the bus with dizzying fumes has had a chance to see this, on some level. And yet most cannot get past the criminality (or the smell).

Now they can. (There is, of course, an iPhone app.)

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Ed Hardy Went to the SF Art Institute?



The SF Examiner pinned him down recently and asked him about his art:

If it makes you think — takes you outside yourself and opens yourself to the mystery of life — that’s great.

And if it single-handedly empowers jagoffs all around the world to all-new heights of spike-haired scrotitude? That's great, too, I guess!

Maybe I should have gone easier on the SF Weekly's current cover story. Any city worth its salt would have been able to prevent such a gigantic train wreck of pop culture.

Views of the Rain

San Francisco painter Jeremy Mann

I'm usually not a fan of paintings that take their compositions from photographs in an obvious way, but these impressionistic rainy San Francisco scenes by local artist Jeremy Mann just feel right this weekend.

San Francisco artist Jeremy Mann

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Tree Angel

Tree Angel, San Francisco

Reader Anna Spektor found this by accident at a private residence at Shrader and Belgrave. She says:

the house name is "Ursa Minor Dacha", which is pretty cool in itself, but they also have this sculpture carved out of a dead tree.

Thanks, Anna!

Ticket Giveaway Winning Images

Tea Eggs in Chinatown, San Francisco, photo by Erik Wilson, known as Generik11 on Flickr
Erik Wilson, known as Generik11 on Flickr

Footbridge over Stevenson Street, San Francisco, photo by Igor Uriarte, known as 20R3Mun on Flickr
Igor Uriarte, known as 20R3Mun on Flickr

They each get a ticket to Rick Prelinger's Lost Landscapes of San Francisco.

Thanks to everyone who submitted images and helped to get our Flickr pool started with a bang.

If you haven't bought your ticket to the screening yet, hurry up, because they're going fast.