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This Mind Blowing Video Does NOT Use Green Screen

Some great San Francisco locations as well.

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Aerial Outtakes of Ken Block Tearing Up San Francisco

Ken Block fucking up in San Francisco

By now, everyone has seen the original where Ken Block drives like Satan through San Francisco for some DC Shoes commercial.

For an interesting and fresh viewpoint, check out this unused aerial footage taken from an RC copter rigged with a camera. It's unpolished, but still rad, especially because it shows Block fucking up and hitting barricades.

Here's the original...

Drive Across Mongolia in 4 Minutes (video)

Brokedown Mongolia

It took two of us 11 days in a 1.2L Fiat Panda to get from the Russian border to the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, but you can do it in 4 minutes thanks to the dashboard cam that recorded it all. Experience the roadlessness, the bandits, the breakdowns, the yaks, and the camels, without ever having to figure out how to steer and shift a right-driving mini-car through some of the remotest land on the planet. And see it out the windshield just like we did.

The trip started last July with us flying from San Francisco to London and buying a car to run in the Mongol Rally. The next video will take you from England to the border of Mongolia - 40 days of driving in 5 minutes - under the British Channel, over the Caspian Sea, through Eastern Europe, Turkey, most of the 'Stans (Kazakhstan!), and Russia.

During that long haul, my teammate and I talked about doing something in America. And so, this summer I'm organizing a car rally here in the States, a road trip where each team goes on its own route of discovery armed with cameras and mobile technology, and they all meet up for a party at the geographic center of the country (it's in Kansas). Follow it online, or join in!

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.

Quick Time Lapse from Turkey

The town is called Giresun. This time lapse video is from the second night of Ramazan. The call to prayer is being sent out from the minaret glowing green on the left.

Here are my photos, and here is the site for my team's Mongolia trip, where you can track us in real time.

San Francisco to Mongolia – a Road Trip

So, this is happening, folks. I leave on Monday.

As if the site wasn't quiet enough recently, I'm leaving Monday for a road trip from London across Central Asia without GPS navigation.

You can follow our progress (or lack thereof) as we bring irony to such countries as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and yes, Mongolia, here:

Rally Team America

Also, the Facebook page.

This is a 10,000-mile trip for charity, so if you'd like to donate to the cause, you'll find prominent links in both places, especially the blog.

Believe it or not, there are about 5 other teams from the Bay Area participating in the Mongol Rally this year, so we hope to meet up with them along the way.

If anyone out there has ever been to this part of the world and would like to drop some knowledge on someone who's never been to Asia, please do so. And watch for media of the adventure shortly after my return in early to mid-September.

Here's a silly little video we put together to psych ourselves up:

This Woman Dares You to Give Her an Orgasm

The woman who runs a live-in sexual meditation commune, One Taste Urban Retreat Center, here in San Francisco, gave a talk at TEDxSF. The best part of the video are the reaction shots of the women in the audience is where she tells the origin story of her program. She meets a dude at a party, he invites her to take her pants off, she does, then he shines a light between her legs and describes her vagina's various textures and colors. This causes her to cry and changes her forever. In itself, not shocking by SF standards. You get the impression that the weird parts of the story are left tucked between the lines.

The New York Times did a long profile a while back, part of which tells of her father, who shortly before her "awakening," had died of cancer while serving a prison sentence for molesting a couple of young girls.

Yelp reviews for One Taste are mostly glowing, but the bad ones really stick out:

Having spoken in depth about their business plan with their CEO (which gives me an insight few others have), I can tell you for certain the aim is to encourage lonely horny men to part with considerable sums of money, whilst cloaking it all in a New Age aura of raising self-awareness through intimate (read: sexual) contact.

The final sentence in her TEDx talk is meant to paraphrase the Dalai Lama: "It will be turned-on women and those who dare to stroke us who will change the world."

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

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.

Playing With Time and Video

Rainy Time Lapse, San Francisco

Time lapse is all over the place, and it's refreshing to see even small variations on the form. I like the acceptance of the change in light levels in this video, and the play of water on the window. Rough and pretty. A film by KACHO--Little Cinema:

Trance-Inducing Video of a San Francisco Flyover

San Francisco Flyover Video

Coldplay has been known to liquefy my brain, but this video by filmmaker Nigel Ellis had me mesmerized for other reasons. Like its generous heaping of awesome.

Filmed with a GoPro HD camera.

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Flight of the Huey

Flight of the Huey

The video below is a teaser from a video project I'm working on for a group called HueyVets.com.

The featured aircraft - the Bell UH-1H Iriquois - is the main reason Vietnam is often referred to as the "helicopter war." And this rag-tag group of Bay Area guys is trying to preserve the unique experience of flying one in combat in America's most lesson-worthy military entanglement. How do they do that?

Founder Geoff Carr has sunk a small fortune into acquiring and restoring to combat specs this aircraft, and it serves as a living, flying museum. From its homebase at Bud Field Aviation in Hayward, CA, they buzz veterans events and wow anyone within earshot on the ground. (The Huey makes a distinctive whop-whop-whop that almost anyone can recognize.)

What makes this group truly special, though, are the guys themselves. Some served in Vietnam, some are sons of those who served, and some never served at all. But they're all in love with this Huey and what it represents. (Frankly, after spending a day in the sky with it, so am I.)

This is a war machine, however. The guys who caretake it struggle with the conflict between their love for the aircraft and their nuanced views of war itself, which are very, well, Bay Area. As I learn more about them for a longer-form web doc, I can appreciate the vets' desire to honor their wartime experiences while refusing to deny their complicated feelings about the politics that forced them into adventures both righteous and heinous.

Carr experienced intense PTSD when he returned after combat, and the Huey Vets project is partly a way for him to create positive meaning around a trauma that will never in itself make any sense.

Wayne Terry, the San Franciscan who does PR and fundraising for the group, dealt with the unthinkable experiences of his Vietnam combat days as a Huey mechanic by placing it in a drawer that would not be opened again for over 30 years. Some of his closest friends had no idea he'd been in the military until he got involved with Huey Vets in 2004.

Further complicating this group is the nature of the Experimental Military Unit (EMU) they served in - it was the only fully-integrated unit in the war, with a mixture of US Army and Australian Royal Navy, and they provided a lot of support to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). This meant that Vietnamese infantry flew side-by-side with US flight crew aboard EMU Hueys.

It's a fascinating bit of history. If you know of someone who'd like to contribute funds to keeping this beautiful aircraft and its legacy alive in the sky, send them over to HueyVets.com. Or just go there to get some education for yourself.

A Jarvis Halloween

San Franciscans love little more than dressing up and acting out. And Daniel Jarvis is there to capture it all on his magic Canon.

Jarvis Halloween, San Francisco

Anchor Steam, Michael Jackson, and Weed

Anchor Steam, Michael Jackson, and Weed

I finally took the Anchor Brewery tour. Pretty sweet.

We were told that due to our small group, we were being given special access. True? I've no idea. But they did allow us to get right up to the big tanks where they make the yeast. Here's some video of the inside...

And here is some random suds coming out of random steampunk valves on the wall...

As for the Michael Jackson thing, the cagey little tour guide assured us it was not THAT Michael Jackson.

But then, she also said it was against Anchor policy to admit that hops are related to weed. I didn't ask because I wanted to smoke some, or even graft hops and cannabis together; I was just curious after hearing it mentioned on Food Network.

In any case, it looks like the recent sale of the brewery isn't affecting its size or business model, and so it remains an impressive feat that they crank out all of their product from that single location.

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.

North Beach Gets its Own Cooking Show

Gianni's Pizza Margherita

A while back I did a video piece about Gianni Mola, a colorful North Beach resident who showed us around the neighborhood, claimed (while standing at the edge of Chinatown) that "fresh Italian blood" was coursing back into the restaurant industry, and then took us up to his kitchen while he made gnocchi from scratch.

Afterwards, he asked me to help him create a web cooking show, and I obliged.

Check it out at Gianni.tv. The concept is to show Gianni's "village" lifestyle in North Beach: how he uses his favorite local food purveyors to source the meal he cooks that night for friends; the importance of "time and place" (seasonality and regional diet); and simple kitchen techniques that can allow anyone to make authentic Italian dishes and meals.

Episodes already released include recipes for Pizza Margherita, Porchetta, and San Marzano tomato sauce.

Subscribe - via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or RSS - to be notified when the next episode drops (about how to create an authentic southern-Italian Sunday Gravy).

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...