Spots Unknown

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...

Zoom Around a Leveled San Francisco

Leveled San Francisco, 1906

I just spent way too much time immersed in this post-earthquake-and-fire aerial photo of SF. You will too.

Photographed by George R. Lawrence with a kite a few weeks after the disaster:

It is a 160-degree panorama from a kite taken 2000 feet (600 m) in the air above the San Francisco Bay that showed the entire city on a single 17-by-48-inch contact print made from a single piece of film. Each print sold for $125 and Lawrence made at least $15,000 in sales from this one photograph. The camera used in this photograph weighed 49 pounds (22 kg) and used a celluloid-film plate.

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.

Horatio’s Legacy

Horatio Jackson invented the Great American Road Trip in San Francisco in 1903.

1903 was a big year. The Wright Brothers invented the first powered airplane. The first transatlantic telegraph cable was laid. The first wireless radio signals were transmitted across the Atlantic.

These were all advances that allowed humans to defeat distance. But as if these weren't sufficient, 1903 was also the year that a man in San Francisco took a bet, and invented the Great American Road Trip.

The "horseless carriage" had yet to convince anyone that it was anything more than a passing fad. And the $50 wager that Horatio Jackson couldn't drive one from SF to New York was sound, since there were no gas stations, no 7-Elevens, and no paved roads.

But he made it. Ken Burns did a documentary about it in 2003.

I discovered HJ's awesome ride while researching a new project that I plan to begin this summer. Stay tuned for more details.

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.

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.

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.

The Road to Mongolia

Here are a few shots I've kept from the trip so far.

We have a Spot GPS strictly for tracking our progress and gathering data about our trip, but we navigating the old fashioned way - with bad maps and lots of u-turns.

You can follow us at the blog, or on Facebook.

For access to all of my photos and videos, friend me. (I'm posting primarily to FB for now to save on redundant uploading.)

Things will only get weirder from here.

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."

‘The Best Thing Ever Written About San Francisco’


Image from City by the Blog

Is it the best ever, as claimed by Oscar Lewis in the Forward? Debatable. This essay repeatedly commits the sin of calling it "Frisco." At least it does so self-consciously:

Before the crash and flame, Frisco was beginning to protest at being called anything but San Francisco. Yet Frisco clung, it held some winking, sly hint of frisky. Even the great black headlines over the evil news used the diminutive abbreviation like a touch of light in the cloud, a sort of fresh, smiling rose on the pall, speaking of resurrection.

Additionally, it was apparently penned by someone who'd never been to SF. It's still an amazing piece of writing. So there. Read it all after the jump...

Happy Quake Day – Shaken and Stirred

Exactly 105 years ago, the earth shook. Yeah, kind of like that. (Well, not really like that.)

But thanks, San Andreas Fault, for pitching in to help us all celebrate the Big One! We feel you really care.

Happy Quake Day: The Mint

Is that guy in the bowler hat checking his iPhone?

Image courtesy US Library of Congress.

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.

Free Event: When San Francisco was a Port City

California Historical Society is hosting a panel discussion of pure history porn. (Just look at that not-so-subliminal cover image.) The topic: "how the San Francisco port shaped the city and how the city shaped the port."

Michael Corbett, Tim Kelley, Chris VerPlanck and Jim Delgado (author of “Gold Rush Port” and Chief Marine Archaeologist for NOAA) ... will discuss the port’s role in shaping urban form as well as influencing its social and labor history. Through landfill, wharfs, seawalls and pier buildings, the port changed San Francisco’s physical form while serving as a conduit for the movement of goods and people into and out of the city since the 1850’s. Businesses located their offices near the port to house management while workers labored at the wharf loading and unloading goods from ships, driving the city’s economy and underpinning its civic life.

I'll be there. Come out and say hi, and bring all the Freudian references you can gather.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Port City Book Launch, Panel Discussion and Reception
California Historical Society
FREE

Space is limited. Please RSVP to 415.357.1848, ext. 233 or rtorrey@calhist.org

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.

Walking Tour of North Beach – Including Pizza

Gianni Mola has been hard at work extending his outreach beyond the online cooking show I've helped him produce. He's done some live demos, and now, he's doing walking tours of North Beach.

For 90 minutes, he guides folks around the heart of North Beach, telling the culinary story of his "village." He points out his favorite restaurants, and those with historical influence. He caps it off with a pizza tasting. I might be biased, but trust me, he's a fantastic guide.

He's offering a 25% discount off the normal $12.95 rate, so for under 10 bucks you get a tour and food. The next one is this Saturday, but there are only 15 walkers at a time.

If you're looking for something fun to do this weekend in the nice weather, consider this.

Ongoing tour calendar is here.

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

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.