Feels Like Independence Day

I didn’t see any fireworks over the weekend. Boo hoo.

But after watching this latest video by Daniel Jarvis, I feel like I can miss fireworks for the next three years.

Filmed at Dolores Park, 24th and Harrison, The Uptown, The Phone booth, Bernal Heights, and all over the roads of San Francisco.

Song is “Being a Teenager is Free Palestine” by The Downer Party.

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:

Pulled From the Bay – An Angry Stingray

Clearly, the stingray is the star of this video, as it should be. The cruel, matter-of-fact way that the fisherman handles it doesn’t seem to lessen its sinister awesomeness.

Perhaps it’s a good symbol for this whole area of San Francisco.

This video covers Candlestick Point, Yosemite Slough, South Basin, and India Basin. Stay tuned as we explore the entirety of San Francisco’s coastal edges in an ongoing series of vids.

The Stingray, San Francisco

View Spots Unknown Map in a larger map

Tearing Down El Herradero for MSF’s Commonwealth

Saw this on the way to work this morning. It did occur to me to stop recording and hold the ladder for the guy doing the heavy work in this maneuver, but you know, I didn’t want to get in the way or anything.

Charitable restaurateur Anthony Myint and company have gone a couple grand beyond their Kickstarter goal, and are well into renovations, having closed up shop at Mission Street Food.

What I want to know is, are they gonna take down the awesome El Herradero sign? And if so, can I have it?

El Herradero, San Francisco; photo by Burrito Justice
Photo by Burrito Justice

“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.

A Surreal Encounter Above Dolores Park (video)

I’m sure weirder things have happened at Dolores Park. But the weirdness combined with being four stories up on a bright, sunny day, really pushes this encounter into the red.

I was at home being all Sundayzee and thought about ignoring Daniel Jarvis‘ call at first, but then answered…

Jarvis: Dude, crazy dancing chicks on a rooftop! Bring your camera!
Me: I was gonna take a nap.
Jarvis: I said crazy dancing chicks on a rooftop! You’re two blocks away! Let’s go up there! With the camera!
Me: How do you know they even want us up there?
Jarvis (calling up to rooftop): Hey! Hey, down here! Can we come up and film you? We have a camera! Can we? (to me) They said we can go up there!
Me: Okay, Okay…

I think it was worth it.

UPDATE: The song is “Go Do” by Jonsi. Video shot and edited by Jarvis.

Victory of the Mad Viking: Brooks Park

Brooks Park, San Francisco

Not long ago it was a post-apocalyptic den of drug abuse, blood sport, and murder. Now, it has been re-made as a virtual Valhalla by The Mad Viking himself, Peter Vaernet, and is a tribute to the past figures who battled to make something noble out of the parcel of land atop Merced Heights.

Today, Brooks Park is a model for creative land stewardship, urban gardening, and community pride.

Peter Vaernet is a cyclone of positive energy, and has swept folks like gardener John Herbert into the storm. Together they’ve completed the park’s dramatic adventure from its auspicious beginnings with the Brooks family in the 1930s, through its 1970s and 80s descent, to its glorious present rebound.

We took our camera into the fog to Brooks Park last weekend while they were building a temporary tomato greenhouse in the garden, and met Peter and John:

Victory of the Mad Viking, San Francisco from Spots Unknown on Vimeo.

More after the jump…
Continue reading Victory of the Mad Viking: Brooks Park

Skaters Do San Francisco New Jersey Style

We met these kids while exploring Fort Miley a couple weeks back, and although they are way too nice and friendly to behave like their Shore-lovin’ brethren from the Tellievision – figuratively, they kind of Snookie-punched our fair town in the face.

This video has all the key ingredients of a superb skate reel: ballsy stunts/wipeouts, great tricks, sweet camera work, SF, and a puppy!

Hat’s off to Joe Zevallos, Kenny DeVoe, Sean Cornetto, and Kevin Makwinski. Look us up next time you’re in town, guys, we’d love to follow you around for a while.

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.

New Dork State of Mind

I know this was covered by Scott back in March, but a couple of local blogs are linking to it again now, so that seems to give me enough of an excuse to mouth off.

I can’t say the formula isn’t valid, because this video has over 700,000 views. But that won’t keep me from objecting to the use of San Francisco in creepy missions to “make the world spread your word.” (Full disclosure: I’m a sucker for the original song – it’s pretty.)

I’ve reverse-engineered Grasshopper.com’s recipe for a “viral video”:

  • Big bushel of internet bizdev buzzwords
  • 4 Oz. Moderate SafeSearch Urban Dictionary terms
  • Healthy heaping of slick agency production
  • One hot, partially-nude girl with “dorky” glasses
  • Use established online parodists to mix and beat ingredients thoroughly in a bowl. Season heavily with San Francisco back-drops. Bake on high. Serve HOT.

(Spotted @ via)

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.

“Nuthin’ Eva Move But Da Money”

Street hustler “DaVinci” raps his lament about the degradation of his turf in Western Addition/Fillmore. Use headphones, there’s naughty language (the video is SFW).

Before you dismiss the lifestyle when you hear, “Used to sell ice, weed, coke all night there / now they got cameras and the po-po right there” – learn a little about the history of West Addy. It won’t kill you.

I moved from the Divis/Grove area of the neighborhood in 2005 and it was still one of the rare San Francisco spots where middle-class African-Americans owned homes alongside non-black yuppies. But even then, dopenomics and gang turf disputes generated gun deaths and regular high-speed police chases.

What’s it like these days? Current residents speak up in the comments.

(Spotted @)

So Long, Saucy Joe

Saucy Joe, Glen Park, San Francisco

I’m sorry I happened across Saucy Joe on Saturday in Glen Park. Not because he’s anything other than friendly and knowledgeable, but because the day I’m publishing this is the last day you could’ve hired his roadside blade-sharpening services here in San Francisco.

And that’s a shame.

Food carts are a dime-a-dozen, but a guy in the back of a truck who will give your cutting implements a professionally-sharpened edge, while you wait? That’s worth carrying a jangly box of stainless steel outside on a sunny day.

Well, don’t go yanking your cutlery drawer out of its grooves just yet, cuz Saucy Joe’s leaving town, headed North towards Grass Valley. His plans were serenely vague as he answered my questions (such as the origins of the name – his kitchen language from his days as a chef), but it seems he will stay in the knife-sharpening biz in some way or another. Maybe.

Keep up with Joe on his website or his Twitter feed.

Oh, and as a final parting gift, Joe leaves you with some free sharpening tips: