11 Christmas gifts for a San Franciscan

December 10, 2014

Holiday shopping is stressful enough without troubling yourself with figuring out what to buy for people. I mean, does your grandmother want a red scarf, or a green hat? Does your kid want a toy dump truck, or a Lego set? I’m getting a headache just thinking about it.

Fortunately for you, I’ve pre-assembled a listicle of eleven excellent Christmas gifts for the San Franciscan(s) in your life. Read on.

 
1. Lunchbox shaped like an Uber vehicle

If you want to get ahead in life, you have to break some rules — the more, the better. Teach your kids how staying several steps ahead of local regulations can net them billions in venture capital with this cute lunchbox.

 
2. Cisgender Barbie

Cisgender Barbie loves makeup and expensive shoes, but that’s because of who she is on the inside, not because of society’s expectations for someone assigned her gender at birth. Does that make her “normal”? No; let’s be honest, Barbie is a freak for entirely different reasons. And don’t get me started on Ken.
 

3. Officially-licensed Ed Lee mustache trimmer

Mayor Ed Lee had this mustache trimmer designed just for his own ‘stache. Only with this officially-licensed trimmer will you be able to achieve Lee’s timeless, manly look. Order today and we’ll throw in an autographed copy of Lee’s best selling men’s grooming book, “Mustache 2.0.”
 

4. “ZUCK”, aka Mark Zuckerberg cologne

The man… the legend… the scent. New from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg: ZUCK cologne. It’s a scent like no other: a dash of figs, a pinch of sweat, a splash of Mountain Dew. Hack together a PHP script and accidentally fall into a pile of money? It could be you; you smell like ZUCK.
 

5. Four dollar toast-shaped earrings

Commemorate San Francisco’s boldest move yet into overpriced foodie hedonism with a pair of earrings patterned after The Mill’s infamous toast. Don’t settle for a cronut necklace, I hear those are already at Ross.
 

6. My first bicycle chop shop

What? These bikes I’m taking apart right here on the sidewalk? They’re mine, man! Of course I don’t have a receipt, don’t be ridiculous. I just take apart my own bikes on the sidewalk all the time, there’s no law against it. Have a nice day, officer.
 

7. Gingerbread luxury condo

Sure, it’s a fifth floor studio with no elevator, and your only view is a candy cane freeway overpass. But it has gumdrop countertops, and exposed M&M walls! Is it worth two million chocolate coins? Don’t bother asking, another kid just showed up with two and a half million chocolate coins, and now you don’t get to eat it. That’s life, kid.
 

8. Incoherent Gibberish or Possibly References You’re Not Hip Enough to Get by Dave Eggers

“I open the door and she’s standing in her nightgown facing me. She scowls. I’m reminded of my aunt. Those cold summer nights, gargling mouthwash. She turns on the radio but nothing happens. I get on the slide. We enter the drugstore. Seven.”
 

9. Gift basket from Dolores Park’s Weed Truffle Guy

Dude, did you leave the PBR at home again? Ah, fuck dude. But don’t worry, I got us covered bro — the Truffle Guy made me this sweet gift basket, it’s got like mad edibles dude. Hey man is that the Cold Beer Cold Water guy over there? Let’s grab some beer too bro. Get all our bases covered.
 

10. Talking Leland Yee plush toy

The Talking Leland Yee plush toy will say anything you want! Want him to endorse an assault rifle ban? Just stick $20 in his mouth! Want him to help purchase a grenade launcher from a shady Russian mobster? That’ll be another $20! But make sure you’re out of earshot of the authorities, or Talking Leland Yee may wind up in time out.
 

11. Christmas tree made entirely of kale

Real or artificial; how about neither? This Christmas tree is handmade from locally sourced, organic kale. While you can’t hang ornaments on it and it wilts after a couple of days, it contains far more micronutrients and antioxidants than a traditional tree.

Terrifying feat accomplished with suction cups

December 5, 2014

Suction cups
 
While walking by the construction for LinkedIn’s new offices at 222 Second Street, I happened to notice some windows were being lifted up on a crane. How do you get a pane of glass from the street to 12 floors up?

Look closely: the only thing holding that windows is eight suction cups. That’s right, the technology behind your favorite childhood bath toys is now being used to hoist enormous panes of glass over a busy street. Let’s hope the workers remembered to lick them first for a better grip.

Fuck SFPD squirrel

December 3, 2014

Fuck SFPD squirrel
(Spotted at 3rd and Folsom)
 
While SFPD has gotten flack recently for an almost Oakland-like response to protests, I previously wasn’t aware that SFPD had a squirrel or the public hatred of said squirrel.

Presumably, this crime fighting squirrel operates in a similar manner to Disney’s 1989 series Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, wearing a little outfit and solving crimes within 24 minutes. Come to think of it, this sounds adorable and I’m not sure why anyone would object.

The person behind the red crayon has some explaining to do: why do you hate SFPD’s squirrel? Is there a specific beef you have with this squirrel? We deserve answers.

Demonic parking meter wants your quarters, soul

November 2, 2014

Demonic parking meter Demonic parking meter close up

What would you pay for the perfect parking spot?

  • 25 cents?
  • 50 cents?
  • Your eternal soul?

If you answered the latter, I’ve found the perfect parking spot for you! Over Halloween, a new demonic parking meter appeared at the corner of 18th and Oakwood.

It’s a great place to park your vehicle if you made the unfortunate mistake of driving to Dolores Park, and don’t mind committing your very own soul to endless torment while you buy wine and cheese from Bi-Rite for your sunny afternoon picnic.

Assassin’s Creed Halloween costume

October 31, 2014

Nothing is true,
Everything is permitted.

     – The Creed

 
Assassins. Seems like they’re everywhere these days, murdering it up. So for Halloween this year I made my own modern-style Assassin’s Creed costume.

The white hoodie is pretty much standard as far as assassins go these days. The felt patch on the hood is a tribute to Connor Kenway’s patch in AC III. It’s clipped on with safety pins.

And for good measure I’ve got dual hidden blades.

Costume

My hidden blades use a pair of telescoping drawer sliders from a local hardware store. The “blade” is made from a freebie paint stir stick painted gray. It’s held to the slider with fishing wire.

For the wrist straps I bought some old belts at Goodwill, cut them down to size, and bolted them to the opposite side of the slider. I glued a couple excess pieces of belt to this side for extra grip.

The blades pop out with a flick of the wrist and can be held in place with a finger.

Hidden blade Hidden blades

 

And of course we have an Apple of Eden. You can’t really call yourself an assassin if you don’t go around collecting artifacts from the First Civilization, so I made this one by dremeling out the lines in a styrofoam ball and painting it.

The apples vary from one game to the next, this one’s more or less like the one Ezio found in the second game.

Apple of Eden

 

And that’s all there is to it! If you spot anyone dressed as a Templar, please let me know.

Surge resurges in 2014

October 20, 2014

Surge 2014 edition
 

Before Red Bull reached American shores in 1997, there were no “energy drinks” on our store shelves. Not knowing what we were missing, we went about our daily lives content with plain old coffee, tea, and soda. Hard to imagine that only 17 years ago, your local liquor store didn’t have an entire shelf dedicated to Red Bull, Rockstar, Monster, and 300 other beverages, each more foul tasting than the last.

But it wasn’t a sudden transition. A year before we had Red Bull, Coca-Cola introduced Surge. In both look and taste it was like an alien version of Mountain Dew. Similar amount of caffeine, similarly artificial flavor, but dyed slime green instead of neon piss yellow.

Around the same time Pepsi countered with the incomprehensibly marked Storm, another lemon-lime flavored soda that was also caffeinated — sometimes. This confusion caused more than its share of caffeine withdrawal headaches and it was dropped in 2000.

Sadly, three years later Surge met its demise as well. In spite of protests from enthusiastic fans and nerdcore rap songs about the beverage, Coca-Cola ignored cries for this fan favorite. Until now.

 

Coca-Cola is selling Surge again in limited quantities through Amazon in twelve packs of 16oz cans. I was able to get my hands on one of these rare shipments of Surge just before they sold out. Technically you can still find this neo-Surge online, but it’s from hoarders trying to resell the stuff at 20x the price. (Never underestimate the power of nostalgia.)

So, how does it taste? Pretty gross, actually — and exactly like I remember. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish this retro soda so I can stay up all night playing Nintendo 64 while listening to the Stone Temple Pilots.

Differences

October 8, 2014

The other evening while waiting for a train, I decided to write an intentionally terrible rap song about a relationship gone sour due to irreconcilable differences. Here it is in all its glory:

You ride Muni and I ride BART
That’s why we’ll always be apart
I like the Giants, you don’t like baseball
There’s no chance we’ll get along at all
You smoke pot, and I, crack
The differences between us are a fact

 
[chorus]
I say “SF” but you say “Frisco”
The only word that rhymes here is “disco”
At first I liked you, you made me feel at ease
Until I found out you still like Thee Oh Sees
Our differences are tall as Sutro Tower
I give you zero stars like Michael Bauer

 
I live in the Mission but you’re in West Portal
My love for you will never be immortal
Your startup is funded, I’m at the loan shark
We’re as unnatural as Golden Gate Park
Sorry baby but we have to disband
I’m flat broke, I’m moving to Oakland

 

I’m looking forward to my Grammy nomination.

Mission Workshop coming to Valencia

October 1, 2014

Mission Workshop
 

Local backpack and messenger bag company Mission Workshop appears to be moving to the old Therapy Furniture spot on Valencia at 16th. But here’s the interesting thing: their old store on Rondel is right behind the Valencia location.

Here’s a map (original) that I’ve colored for you. Mission Workshop’s new location is in orange, the existing one’s in green:
 

Map of the two storefronts sharing a common wall
 

So the old and new locations share a common wall. If they wanted to — and I should stress that no building permits have been filed as of today — they could bust out some axes and make one huge store. It’d be like a hipster version of Jack Nicholson in The Shining:
 

Hipster Shining

“Here’s, uh… John Oliver?”
 

In the end, I can’t really bring myself to say anything too snarky about this particular change on Valencia. It feels like a step sideways; Therapy’s furniture was well made but pricey. Same caveat for Mission Workshop’s bags. At least we can emit a collective sigh of relief that it’s not another overhyped, overpriced eatery.

 
UPDATE: Mission Workshop sent me an email confirming that All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy the new Valencia storefront indeed is connected to the original Rondel location via a shared wall. Of course if you’ve been to the store (it opened recently) you already knew this.

Black rectangle to be removed from Moscone West

September 26, 2014

"Facsimile" at Moscone West

Since it opening day Moscone West at 4th and Howard has been adorned by a large black rectangle on the side of the building. Careful observers might notice that this rectangle is attached to a somewhat rusty track that goes around the entire building. Soon, this rectangle will be removed.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

When the building was first proposed in the early 2000s art firm Diller and Scofidio (now Diller Scofidio + Renfro) was hired to develop a public art element. And design they did. Their piece is called Facsimile. It was intended to show images of inside the conference center intermixed with playful videos of life in the surrounding hotels, while the screen moved back and forth across the track. While it’s certainly an interesting design, that design never quite translated to the real world.

Despite spending hours scouring the internet for evidence of the piece working as intended, I was only able to find conceptual renderings of what the piece was intended to look like. In practice, on the rare occasions it was switched on the screen didn’t move and only displayed occasional flashes of light.

SF Arts Commission voted to remove Facsimile on September 8th partly due to ongoing maintenance costs associated with preserving the non-functioning art. But if the Bay Area can’t get a piece of technology to work, it’s probably broken beyond repair.

You are being influenced with remote-based computer programmed conversational skits

September 19, 2014

Mind control

For the past year or so, schizo rants similar to the one above have occasionally graced utility polls in downtown San Francisco. Exactly who is putting these up is unknown — the person in question has access to office supplies and seems capable of formulating grammatically correct sentences, which rules out many of SF’s best known colorful eccentrics.

So while it’s an amusingly bizarre read, it’s also a bit sad that the person behind this appears to be in the early stages of losing their grip.

 
Here’s the full text of the unhinged rant:

You are being influenced with remote-based computer programmed conversational skits when (1) you talk to yourself excessively with imaginary persons, (2) the discussion is with supervisors, friends, or famous people (for better influencing impact), and (3) it seems like you can almost feel what the other person feels like.
 
How it is done: Each person’s natural & distinct electrical cerebral emissions are assigned human tracking numbers. Our emissions are then constantly attached to thru usage of tracking medium (such as radiowave) which also has an open channel for transferring speech into and from our heads (i.e., our emissions are thus used like a transistor inside a radio – chip implants are not needed). Computers, programmed by operators for conversational manipulation, are at the other end of the tracker medium where our tracking numbers, name, sex, family members, likes, dislikes, and, all of our thoughts and statements are recorded. Libraried conversational skits, are applied into our hearing reception centers. Web query: Mind control and US Patents (beware, many sites include speculation).
 
Those of our leaders who are still with us and the law, are too manipulated to have sufficiently met and conferred on how to stop this; otherwise they would have informed us of more facts on the topic. WE MUST PUT OUT THE WORD and make this crime more public to enable the leg work by leaders necessary for a solution that entails the cessation of our manipulation.