Spots Unknown

Someone You Know is a Sex Worker

Adweek is amused that this campaign got over its rejection by CBS (their explanation: "sex worker" is "not a family-friendly term"), and will now be running on MUNI buses instead.

I expect the real amusement will come in the form of cleverly-framed pics with non-industry bystanders.

The End of Paper Fast Pass

Muni Diaries reports on a kind of continuity as we mark the end of an era:

Ken Schmier is the man who came up with the concept of the Fast Pass. He’s also the mind behind NextBus. Strange, right? But also, not. This happened around 35 years ago, to the best of our knowledge. The first passes went on sale sometime in 1976.

Image by Cranky Old Mission Guy.

“The City is My Sweetheart”

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

From the Spots Unknown Flickr pool.

The Answer to Betty White Fatigue

The Answer to Betty White Fatigue - Phyllis Diller as Fast Pass Spokesperson! - San Francisco

While we were at a pawn shop on Mission Street, Steve spotted this. (What's with the two jumping fishes?)

MUNI should totally bring back Phyllis Diller for the Fast Pass! At 93, she's got 5 years on Betty White. I even did their graphic design work for them:

Phyllis Diller on the Clipper Card, San Francisco

Your Anti-Pigeon Wires are Wonderful…

Anti-Pigeon at BART, San Francisco

...for me to poop on!

(Spotted@ 16th/Mission BART.)

Mayhem on the Streets of San Francisco

PC Games - E3 2011 - Driver San Francisco

I know squonk about video games, but apparently there are expectations that the new San Francisco edition of this languishing franchise will revive its cred:

Driver: San Francisco takes the long-running yet languishing Driver series back to its purest, most French Connection-y roots, and introduces several new game mechanics, hundreds of licensed vehicles and plenty of graphical improvements to bring the game up to speed with other next-gen racing titles.

It sure looks beautiful. I dig the Seventiesploitation soundtrack and, naturally, the locations (don't you miss the old Muni shelters?):

PS3 Games - E3 2011 - Driver San Francisco

Walking the Wiggle

Joel Pomerantz, ThinkWalks.org

On the recommendation of Haighteration blog, I took the ThinkWalks walking tour of the Wiggle on Thursday evening.

Guide Joel Pomerantz was bursting with knowledge about the history of the bike route, going all the way back to pre-colonial times (no, the Ohlones didn't have bikes, but they supposedly followed the same route when walking), and also is an expert on San Francisco generally. Notably, he charmed a random anarchist on a BMX who tried to sieze control of the crowd at one point - the kid ended up sitting and listening for a bit, before bumping fists with Joel, screaming, "Anarchy in the USA!" and riding off.

I enjoyed Joel's thoughts on SF's hidden waterways (an ongoing obsession of this blog), and especially his warnings that when the 100-year storm hits, the MUNI tunnel, tubes, and grates in the Duboce/Church/Market St corridor will quickly submerge, forming an underground river that will rush across the Bay and produce a geyser on the other end in Oakland! Great stuff.

There was an impressively low median age on the free tour, and it was almost all locals. (Hey, passers-by who snickered, "tourists" under your breath - suck it, joke's on you.)

The Wiggle Mural, San Francisco

We met up at the Wiggle mural on the backside of Safeway, and there I became fixated with the fantastic diversity of traffic that converges at the Church/Duboce intersection. I've lived in this neighborhood and walked through this spot millions of times, but you get a totally different feel for it when you linger in this spot for a bit, especially at rush hour.

Bonus time lapse video below:

BART Ad Oozing

BART Ad Oozing, San Francisco

Mmmm...

Hey BART, is This Really Your New Signage?

BART Signs, San Francisco

A few weeks back they painted the Powell/Montgomery/Embarcadero BART stations. Great, right? Well, in the process, they changed the signs. Not that they were so great to begin with, but the ones they replaced them with had me convinced that these were temporary ones until they were able to hang some fantastic new signs that would match the new paint scheme.

I can be naive.

So now it's a couple months later and we still have these signs, and let me say: First off, is that sign laser-printed onto a sheet of copier paper? I think it is. Secondly - and I don't expect BART to have a designated typography designer on staff or anything - but exactly who printed this thing off and thought, yeah, people will be able to read that from across the platform; no, wait, maybe I better squish it a little more and re-print them. Finally - and I've seen this happen multiple times now - since these signs are posted at a height that is below the height of a BART train, when there's a train in the platform, the signs are completely obscured; so what happens is there will be either some tourists on board the arriving train with me, or someone who was sleeping and just woke up, and the person will jump up when the doors open, in a panic, and look to see what station they're at - no luck.

Stuff like this makes me sad. It makes me sad because sometimes I like to entertain the notion that San Francisco is a special place where the people who live here and the people in charge of stuff actually give a damn, that they're proud. This blog is based on that innocent premise. But other times, I'm reminded that, to a large degree, it's just not the case, that we are one big earthquake away from Louisiana status. Not that useful signs in the BART platforms would change anything, mind you, make us any safer in a disaster. But, c'mon, can't SOMEONE who works at BART pretend that they care about the little stuff (although, tell the tourists who end up crossing under the Bay only to have to find their way right back that this is a little thing)?

Cheer me up in the comments.

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Overturned Car on Market Street Between 3rd & New Montgomery

Overturned Car on Market Street, San Francisco, photo by Spots Unknown

Overturned Car, Market Street, San Francisco, photo by Spots Unknown

Overturned Car, San Francisco, photo by Spots Unknown

Photos by Spots Unknown

I would avoid this area. Looks like the car collided with a Muni bus the median and possibly bounced off the 6, but that's unconfirmed.

News updates at SF Appeal.

Overturned Car on Market, San Francisco, photo by Spots Unknown

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Name That Spot

Name That Spot, San Francisco

Pretty easy, I suspect. Guess in the comments.

UPDATE: Johanna nailed it - at 6:42 a.m.!

Brand New Commentary on Famous 1906 Film of Trip Down Market Street

The Market Street Railway blog dug up further details about the context for this amazing footage. It's now believed that it was only days before the big earthquake, and the film was only saved from being incinerated by being shipped off to New York, perhaps as close as one day before the epic fire that destroyed most everything seen in the clip.

Using information generously contributed by David [Kiehn of the Essenay Silent Film Museum], and our own archival material, we created a commentary for the footage (our version of which starts near Eighth Street, not Fourth Street as in the You Tube version) that puts everything you see in the film in context. It explains why the automobiles you see are weaving wildly around the street. It identifies the streetcars that cross the cable car lines running along Market (no, those aren’t “streetcars” as the streetcar caption says, but the cable car lines of United Railroads). It identifies landmarks, provides social history, and sketches the politics that influenced the state of Market Street back then.

I only wish Rick Prelinger's restored version was the one showcased, although the original footage with all its flaws has its own charm.

You can view the full 10-minutes of footage of which the above clip is only a sample at the museum itself, located at the San Francisco Railway Museum.

(Spotted @)

Lonely Planet Writer Talks San Francisco vs. New York

One Mr. Robert Reid has posted a brief article and video on the Lonely Planet website comparing "USA’s great two cities."

I've never lived in NYC, so I can't weigh in on this definitively (I'll leave it to broke-ass stuart), although I've done my share of visiting and have always had a great time there. (Also, I'm afraid to say anything bad because NYC will probably overhear me, jump out of an alleyway, and punch me in the face.)

But that won't stop me from making snarky comments about Reid's San Francisco analysis. He makes it a little too easy with this summary of his video:

I identified four key ways that the scale of goodness tips to the West Bay, including better coffee, airport transfers and subway maps — plus a far healthier connection to preserving the past.

In the video, he mentions BART's "cute map." Man, really? I hope he's being sarcastic here, but I fear he's serious. BART can afford to have a cute map because it's such a sorry excuse for a subway that it hardly even requires one. This empty praise serves only to make BART feel better about itself than it should, prolonging any kind of meaningful improvement. So, thanks LP.

He says "Mission burritos" are "much better" because they have "more foil." I'm not sure what he's comparing these to, because, do people eat burritos in NYC? I'm sure they do, but I've never heard a New Yorker try to claim theirs are better.

In the end, Reid does what a writer for a travel site predictably must do when comparing two major destination cities: hedges. While spending all his time talking about "positive" SF stuff, his final words are, "but is San Francisco BETTER than New York City? No."

Maybe I'm not the only one intimidated by NYC's tough-guy status.

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San Francisco Streetcars Rusting in Missouri

San Francisco Streetcars Rusting in Missouri
Photo by Scott Tiek

This is a twisted tale of sequential tragedies ending in this snow-bound cemetery for historic San Francisco light rail cars. Well, the cars supposedly originated in St. Louis back in 1946 before coming to SF in 1950s, so they've sort of come home to die (though the shot above was taken in St. Charles, MO).

Along the way, the streetcars did a stint in South Lake Tahoe.

I'll let the reader navigate the ins and outs of this story, but it involves lots of snow, streetcars as sushi bars, pre-recession business deals, and oxidized metals.

The one upside: the photography.

(Spotted @)

“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!"

Tipped & Smashed Streetcar, circa 1920

Tipped & Smashed Streetcar, San Francisco, 1920

From the collection of the father of Flickr user fastfreddy. Does anyone have any details about this image?

Dear MUNI, Maybe Switch Back to the Roman Alphabet Now?

Hey MUNI, Maybe You Can Go Back to the Roman Alphabet?

I appreciate the attempt to prepare us for The Big One when the cell towers go down and the only thing left will be Morse Code. But I failed out of Cub Scouts and I can promise you I will never learn this.

(Spotted @ Mission/18th St.)

Free Ride!

From the Flickr stream of Jeremy Brooks

Wow, I guess this really happened. Gotta say, I've never seen this particular breed of Awesome in the 14 years I've lived here. (From the Flickr stream of Jeremy Brooks.)

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Ideal BART Passenger

Ideal BART Passenger

From a pure entertainment perspective, at least.

Native San Francisco Shrub – Not Dead Yet!

Franciscan Manzanita, San Francisco Native Shrub

The Franciscan Manzanita, a shrub thought to have been made extinct when its habitat in the SF cemeteries of old was eradicated, has been discovered growing wild near the Golden Gate Bridge. More after the jump...