Posts Tagged ‘covid-19’

Signs of the COVID-19 times part 3

June 30th, 2020

Since last month’s entry in this ongoing series, a number of local, national, and world events have occurred. It’s been a strange, though hopeful time for the most part. Here’ some more changes I’ve seen around San Francisco.

 

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In the most literal sense of the title of this post, the city’s Department of Public Health has been busy printing and distributing signs with the ever-changing set of rules we’re all supposed to be following.

Many of these signs are related to the reopening plans. As it turns out our entire economy is built on people eating at restaurants and shopping for clothes. It took a pandemic to make anyone realize this was a horrible idea, but here we are.

 

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The official signs apparently are not enough as some people have been making their own signs. In this case it seems someone was frustrated by people not wearing masks near Valencia and 18th Street.

While it’s true not everyone is wearing masks on the sidewalk, as far as I know nobody around here has thrown a tantrum over mask requirements in stores… yet.

 

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I’m not entirely certain what the intended message is here, but someone’s been placing stickers of infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci around the neighborhood.

 

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Indoor dining is strictly not allowed (you can’t eat and wear a mask, obviously) but some restaurants are opting for the outdoor and sidewalk seating approach.

To position tables less than six feet apart, some restaurants — like the 16th Street outpost of Pakwan pictured above — are placing barriers between tables. Does this actually work? Should we be dining out at all? I’m guessing probably not on both counts.

I’m not sure people are really interested in sitting outside in 60/65 F weather anyway. Maybe that will change when San Francisco’s summer begins in mid to late August.

 

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Although many stores and restaurants have reopened in some limited capacity, many dragged (or are continuing to drag) their feet on removing the boards on their storefronts. And of course many will not reopen, so there’s plenty of space for street art.

 

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At the beginning of the month there was a large Black Lives Matter protest that began at Mission High School at 18th and Dolores. This led to many store owners running essential businesses to board up their windows. Turns out that was an overreaction as there wasn’t really much in the way of property damage anyway.

But it also sparked a change in the art appearing on boarded up storefronts. Rather than being largely decorative a new theme emerged: Black Lives Matter. Many of these took the “Say Their Names” approach, listing names of Black people who were murdered by police.

And on that note…

 

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My favorite MST3k episodes featuring incoherent movies

June 22nd, 2020

Now that life is inching back towards some sense of normalcy with the first restrictions lifted in many places, it’s time to revisit my earlier blog post about MST3k episodes with coherent movies. This time we’re going for maximum insanity: episodes with movies that are incoherent.

After spending over two months indoors we’re all losing our minds anyway. As we shift into phase two of the reopening, we’d might as well jump into the depth of absolute madness.

The movies in these episodes go from having an outlandish plot to barely having one at all. Either way, trying to follow the story beats will leave you feeling like someone’s rubbing sandpaper on your brain.

Obviously with the types of movies MST3k tended to feature this could be a super long list so I’m focusing on the worst of the worst — but I’m not ruling out a part 2 to this list. And of course I’m limiting it to episodes you can stream online as of today. To be nice, I’m also going to try to come up with redeeming qualities for these films… just don’t expect much in that department.

Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) 

Available on Amazon Video

Okay: this one can’t be a surprise to anyone familiar with MST3k.

Manos means “hands” in Spanish so even the title is kind of… off. The story begins with a family on a road trip — with plenty of footage of driving around — while looking for a place to stay. They wind up stuck in a mysterious lodge despite the warnings of a man with huge knees named Torgo. At night the master of the lodge conducts some sort of ritual with a group of (enslaved?) wives to determine what to do with these newcomers. 

This infamous film was, according to legend, the product of a fertilizer salesman in El Paso who made a bet that he could make a “horror” film. Seems about right.

The movie is such an obscure dud that it’s become almost synonymous with MST3k as few had ever seen it before. Thanks to MST3k a collector found a better print of Manos: The Hands of Fate and managed to restore it and re-release it on Blu-Ray.

Even though there’s some great riffs in this one, there’s too much time to fill due to its severe pacing issues. Best riff: “Every frame of this movie looks like someone’s last known photograph.”

Redeeming qualities: MST3k made Torgo a recurring character on the show (as played by Mike.)

This episode features the 1940 short Hired: Part II which deals with training the sales staff at a Chevrolet dealer.

The Day Time Ended (1979)

Available on Netflix

A family meets at LAX and drives to the middle of nowhere, where they move into a weirdly shaped new home powered by solar panels. Unfortunately for them a cosmic event has caused time and space to do… something?

Nearly as soon as they arrive there’s a sense that something’s amiss. A mirror repairs itself. A glowing pyramid steals a pony, then shrinks to the size of an inch. Some tiny aliens appear. A menacing floating camcorder shows up. Late at night a bunch of different types of aliens start fighting outside. Does that sound like a story? No?

The family seems remarkably unphased by everything that’s going on, most likely due to the actors not having the slightest clue to what would be inserted in post production. Clearly more care went into how the alien monsters look than anything else.

While the riffs in this one are on point, what makes this episode memorable is a host segment where Tom Servo chastises Jonah and Crow for attempting to write a coherent sci-fi script. Tom quickly breaks into song (a Music Man parody) about cramming your script with concepts in place of an actual plot. 

Redeeming qualities: The stop motion effects, which honestly belong in a much better movie.

The Creeping Terror (1964)

Available on Amazon Video

Films have narrators for one of two reasons: a stylistic choice, or because there would otherwise be no other way to tell what was going on. This monster movie is distinctly in the latter category. Making matters worse the narrator — who sounds like one of those disembodied voices from a 1950’s educational film — doesn’t seem to know what this movie is about either.

Unfortunately the “monster” in this movie is a walking carpet. The terror comes from the carpet eating people, or more accurately screaming as they slowly crawl under it. There’s a lot of scenes and different characters, though little resembling a story arch.

The non-existent plot, production values, and lengthy narration provide ample material for Mike & the bots to riff on in this one — especially when they add their own narration. Best riff: “Something sort of happened… kind of.”

Redeeming qualities: It’s only 74 minutes long.

The Beast Of Yucca Flats (1961)

Available on Amazon Video

Film nerds love to debate which movie is the worst ever made, but there’s little question who’s the worst director of all time: Coleman Francis, a man so terrible at directing he makes Ed Wood look like Stanley Kubrick.  Although all three of his films appeared on MST3k I decided I had to pick just one for this list and it’s a doozy.

The Beast of Yucca Flats is ostensibly some sort of thriller or horror movie involving an atomic bomb explosion that turns a man into a monster… I think? Almost the entire film could be generously described as filler.

Of the numerous aspects of this movie that can only be described as entirely incompetent, the one that stands out the most is the lack of dialog. We see characters speak but never hear them. People get strangled but don’t shout or scream. All the dialog is from characters we can’t actually see, or are too far away to see their mouths move. The narrator only adds to the confusion with non sequiturs such as “Flag on the moon… how’d it get there?” or  “Touch a button… things happen.”

Mike and the bots focus their riffs on the strange narration, the ugliness of the cinematography, and trying to figure out what the hell is going on. 

Redeeming qualities: More effective than Ambien at treating insomnia.

This episode also includes two shorts, both infinitely more coherent than the main film: Money Talks! in which the ghost of Ben Franklin offers financial advice to an annoying teenage boy; and Progress Island, U.S.A., an advertisement for doing business in Puerto Rico. The riffs are particularly sharp in the latter.

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1964)

Available on Amazon Video

A monster musical comedy that’s not scary, not funny, and filled with boring dance numbers that have no connection to the plot. The plot? To the extent there is one, it’s about a fortune teller at an amusement park who hypnotizes people into becoming murderers and deforming their faces with some chemical. These “zombies” eventually escape and kill people in the park.

But you know what the worst part is? According to Wikipedia, this film was originally shown with The Beast Of Yucca Flats as a double feature. Yikes.

The riffs focus on the poor audio, the beehive hairstyles, and the main character’s resemblance to Nicholas Cage. Best riff: (on the quality of the cinematography) “Outtakes from the Manson Family Christmas.”

Redeeming qualities: Well… there’s some perfectly good establishing shots of LA in the 60’s.

The Pumaman (1980)

Available on Amazon Video

When researchers wearing flashy black leather outfits discover a gold Aztec mask with alien mind control technology, their leader Dr. Kobras uses it against an assistant to prevent her from revealing their findings to the world — before declaring they must kill “the Pumaman.”

That’s the first scene in the movie, and it doesn’t get much less odd from there. The aforementioned Pumaman turns out to be a random white guy who can fly when wearing a special belt given to him by an Aztec man. 

There’s so much to make fun of in this movie the riffs barely scratch the surface, though not for a lack of trying. Best riff: (regarding the way Pumaman flies) “He flies like a moron.”

Redeeming qualities: The hilariously poor special effects.

The Starfighters (1964)

Two decades before Top Gun came out, The Starfighters brought an Air Force movie to the screen. But instead of interesting characters and exciting drama, The Starfighters eschews all of that and more. This movie features very little in terms of story, conflict, or characters; but plenty of scenes of Air Force personnel talking about military stuff, people talking on phones, etc. Around half of the running time appears to be Air Force stock footage — especially footage of midair refueling. Overall it’s about as interesting as watching paint dry.

The riffs center around the movie’s musical incongruities, wasteful military spending, and most of all the vaguely sexual nature of the way the aircraft are treated. There’s also some memorable host segments featuring Crow trying to set up a home PC and get on “the information superhighway.” Best riff: “The cutting room floor was remarkably clean.”

Redeeming qualities: Confirms my theory that many filmmakers in the 1950’s and 60’s had somehow foreseen MST3k and were intentionally making movies for it.

The Wild World of Batwoman (1966)

I should start by pointing out this movie has nothing to do with the DC Comics character, who wouldn’t exist until a couple decades later. Instead it’s about an all young female group of secret agents who communicate via wrist radios with their boss, the mysterious masked Batwoman. One of them gets kidnapped by an evil masked man named Rat Fink who’s after her wrist radio, which is somehow related to an “atomic hearing aid.” Also there’s a mad scientist who mostly seems to specialize in drugs that induce dancing.

That’s about as close as I can get to understanding, let alone explaining this movie. I don’t get the feeling the actors knew what this one was supposed to be about either. There’s never any sense of stakes or danger. At one point some cave monsters are brought up and we see footage of them (from another film, no less) and then they’re almost immediately forgotten about.

At a certain point the riffs stop being riffs, becoming pleas for the sweet release of death. During the overly long ending scene Tom Servo desperately screams “END! END!” at the screen.

Redeeming qualities: Nope.

The episode features a short film called Cheating about a kid in high school who was kicked out of the student council for — you guess it — cheating. This provides ample fodder for the host segments with Crow remaining on the pro-cheating side.

 

This post is already going long — I have a few other completely incoherent MST3k movies I could add in here but I think I’ll leave them for another time.

Signs of the COVID-19 times part 2

May 22nd, 2020

Since last month’s entry the pandemic-related changes around the Mission and Castro area have only accelerated. As retail slowly reopens some of these changes may be short lived, so let’s take a look at where things stand now.

 

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The city’s Department of Public Health has plastered almost every block with signs about social distancing, wearing masks, getting tested, etc. Many of the signs are in multiple languages. Anecdotally it seems most are following the spirit of these new guidelines, though the part about wearing masks hasn’t quite gotten to everyone yet.

At the same time, the signs that went up a month or so ago about sheltering in place have disappeared. Presumably this coincides with phase two of the reopening plans.

 

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The flat grassy section of Dolores Park that’s often used for soccer and volleyball now has circles painted on the grass to encourage staying apart while picnicking.

Other sections of the park with more hilly terrain didn’t get the circle paint treatment. I’d assume this is simply due to it being more challenging to measure or paint.

 

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After numerous storefronts were covered in plywood, they’ve slowly been transformed by street artists. Many of the murals were commissioned by Paint the Void, which is raising money to fund this type of art during the pandemic.

At least for me even with the murals it’s a little more jarring to see fashion retailers boarded up than a neighborhood bar. For example before they were boarded up, Everlane looked like an Apple Store that accidentally started selling clothes.

 

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Not all the plywood-covered storefronts are decorated with murals… some have whimsical wheatpastes instead.

All of these photos of wheatpastes were taken on Market between Church and Castro. That stretch has had a lot of retail vacancies recently so I’m not sure these are all necessarily related to COVID-19 or just the collapse of retail there in general.

 

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Some of the street art is very topical, such as this wheatpaste depicting a coyote walking down a deserted sidewalk.

The graphic is patterned after a real photo which I believe originated in this tweet.

 

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Finally, fnnch’s honey bears now have an N95 mask version. Here we have a honey bear with pizza, a David Bowie honey bear, and a honey bear with an ice cream cone. Of course, eating and singing aren’t really activities that lend themselves to wearing a protective mask.

My entry in Quarantine Dreams issue 7

May 15th, 2020

The highly esteemed [citation needed] online publication Quarantine Dreams chronicles unusual dreams submitted by those of us under shelter in place orders.

One of my submissions is included in their recently published their seventh issue. They aptly titled it “Sore Loser.”

The text reads:

I was participating in some sort of foot race at a park. The challenge? The racers were being shot by archers with live arrows. As I raced toward the archers I was mostly concerned about being shot in the face and eyes. In the end I was shot in the chest near my heart, but the arrow “only” went through my lung. After pulling the arrow out of my back I also had to pull the front of the arrow out of my chest, as the arrow had broken. I felt a pain in my chest and when I started to yell in agony a Russian woman (who’d also been shot) told me to stop complaining as there were only enough EMTs to hospitalize the people who “need it.”

Now I’m not one to read too much into dreams, but like many of the dreams published in Quarantine Dreams there’s a recognizable anxiety mixed with crazy dream logic.

Do you want to remember your dreams? Try keeping a dream journal. Just write them down somewhere when you remember them, whether it be a physical notepad, your phone, laptop, etc.. The more you go through the exercise of writing them down, the more you tend to recall them later.

If you’re interested in submitting your own Quarantine Dream to this publication, follow the instructions on their Twitter profile.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch delivery

May 13th, 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic restaurants everywhere have pivoted to take out and delivery. While I personally prefer dining out, delivery’s fine with me in a pinch. Unfortunately those delivery fees start to add up after a while.

So I was a little surprised when the salad wizards at Sweetgreen announced they’d be doing free deliveries. With all this sitting around at home I could really go for something healthy — especially if I don’t have to pay for delivery.

So I went ahead and placed an order.

There you go, free delivery! But wait — what’s this “service fee” included in the price? That sounds an awful lot like a delivery fee, doesn’t it?

Fortunately you can tap on the service fee for an explanation:

As the image says above “This is a fee that allows us to provide our delivery service.” So the service fee is a delivery fee… they just don’t call it that.

In other news I AM GIVING AWAY FREE $100 BILLS! (However, you will owe me a $200 service fee for each $100 bill.)

My favorite MST3k episodes featuring coherent movies

May 2nd, 2020

As we’re all sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one activity I’ve found well suited for the times is watching episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (or MST3k.) Each episode is about an hour and a half, featuring a human host and his robot pals watching a janky movie and cracking jokes at its expense.

While all the movies shown on MST3k over the years are bad, some of them are absolutely incoherent: movies like Manos: The Hands of Fate, or The Day Time Ended, or even The Castle of Fu Manchu. Those are a challenging watch even with the MST3k treatment and I can’t imagine trying to subject myself to such madness while being locked inside for weeks on end.

So here we go: in no particular order, my favorite MST3k episodes with coherent movies — specifically episodes you can stream online at home.

Laserblast (1978)

Available on Amazon Video

Like many B-movies in the late 70’s, Laserblast is a sci-fi movie that can’t quite decide if it’s ripping off Close Encounters of the Third Kind or Star Wars. This becomes quite apparent due to the main character’s resemblance of Mark Hamill and later when he blows up a Star Wars billboard. 

The story revolves around a young guy who finds an alien weapon which can only be used when he’s wearing a special necklace. The more he uses it, the more he turns into a monster. It’s a perfectly good premise and actually has decent special effects. Unfortunately, nothing else really works from the script to the casting to the cinematography.

The riffs focus on how the movie’s bargain bin Mark Hamill seems incapable of wearing a shirt (or at least one that fits) as well as a police officer who may or may not be “ready for some football.” They also suggest Pepsi may have secretly paid for the Coca-Cola product placement. But the real focus is why film critic Leonard Maltin gave this trashy film two and a half stars.

This episode marks the last time Trace Beaulieu appeared on the show. His Dr. Clayton Forrester character is sent off with a parody of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Gorgo (1961)

Available on Amazon Video

Easily one of the most watchable of the monster movies on MST3k over the years, though to be honest the back half gets pretty dull. This one takes place in the UK instead of Japan, yet somehow it has the overall kaiju style anyway.

In this host segment Leonard Maltin appears as himself (though Pearl keeps calling him Roger Ebert) to recommend Gorgo — and plug his then new 1998 movie review guide.

The riffs refer to a number of other monster movies and make fun of the English and Irish. Crow declares Gorgo has the “best teeth in England.” They also get a lot of mileage about a circus in London named “Dorkin’s.”

Mac and Me (1988)

Available on Netflix

This movie answers the question “What if E.T. was a commercial for Coke and McDonald’s?” It’s arguably the best known movie they’ve ever shown. The story has some big plot holes and the cinematography is roughly on par with an average sitcom. The aliens are supposed to be cute but come across as both cartoonish and repulsive at the same time.

While the first season of the rebooted MST3k on Netflix was a mixed bag, by the second (and so far, last) season it was firing on all cylinders. In this episode the riffs are funny, well paced, and overall I’d rate it as “pretty nice!” 

The riff that sticks with me the most comes pretty early on when they point out the score seems to have been composed for a much more exciting movie.

Mitchell (1975)

Free on YouTube

This Joe Don Baker vehicle certainly features a lot of, well… vehicles. I’d estimate about half the movie is just shots of people in cars, either parked or driving very slowly. Oh and there’s a car chase, albeit a very slow one that mostly seems to exist to pad the movie’s runtime. The most baffling thing about this is it got a theatrical release despite looking like a made for TV movie in every respect.

Before I get to the riffing, I should mention the host segments: this was Joel’s last outing as the host of the show, so most of the host segments are set up to introduce his replacement, Mike, and Joel’s escape from the Satellite of Love.

Most of the riffs focus on how out of shape Baker is here, and his character’s appetite for alcohol and snacks. Supposedly when Baker got wind of this he wasn’t happy and (jokingly?) threatened to beat up the cast of MST3k.

Space Mutiny (1988)

Available on Amazon Video

This Canadian sci-fi action film features a story that kind of makes sense but is marred in every conceivable way. Despite being set on a spaceship the sets don’t look like spaceship interiors at all, the acting is embarrassingly poor, and the editing almost seems intentionally bad — one character dies, only to appear alive in the very next scene. 

The riffing gets a lot of laughs out of just pointing out the numerous mistakes and poor acting choices in the film, as well as coming up with nicknames for various characters. The muscular leading man gets a whole string of nicknames including Flint Ironstag, Slab Bulkhead, and Big McLargeHuge. 

The Final Sacrifice (1990)

Available on Amazon Video

Also from Canada, this student film is about a kind of annoying teenage boy who’s forced to avenge the death of his father — who died at the hands of a mysterious death cult — with the help of a drunk redneck named “Zap Rowsdower.” 

For some reason it was released on home video. The whole thing has a very outsider art feel to it, like a community theater group trying to make a film.

The riffs in this one are some of the funniest MST3k has ever done, from “the bacon-y stench of Canada” to mocking a character’s Yosemite Sam-like voice… and making fun of the name Rowsdower, of course. But the true lesson we learn from the riffs is never to invest in lemon mines.

If you happen to come across this one on DVD it includes an interview with the actor who played Rowsdower. This is likely the closest thing to a “making of” type documentary for this film we’ll ever see.

Alien From LA (1988)

Free on YouTube

Kathy Ireland’s first attempt at transitioning from a model to a movie star resulted in this dud. To be fair it’s not entirely her fault, though speaking in an irritating squeaky little girl voice for the entire film didn’t help. The story thrashes between genres before eventually deciding to become a sci-fi chase through Atlantis.

Mike and the bots often imitate Ireland’s aforementioned squeaky voice, as well as another character they describe as “Australian.” When they start referring to unnamed characters as cereal box mascots, you know the movie’s in trouble.

Watching this episode again I’m surprised I’d forgotten the host segments. From Mike milking a refrigerator to a “sexy” Tom Servo, this is MST3k at its silliest and best.

I Accuse My Parents (1944)

Available on Amazon Video

Before the movie, this episode kicks off with a short — and extremely dated — educational film called “The Truck Farmer.” It’s ostensibly about modern farming practices, but Joel and the bots poke fun at how they’re spraying everything with pesticides, exploiting labor, and bulldozing forests — all so we can eat carrots. 

Getting on to the movie, it’s a cautionary tale about a young man who joins the mob by accident due to his alcoholic and uncaring parents. The movie opens with his trial before jumping back in time to see how he got there — which has less to do with his terrible parents than the set up would suggest.

The riffs focus on the character’s numerous lies, the advanced age of the actors playing teenagers, as well as references to the time period (for example one unnamed character is referred to as Eleanor Roosevelt.) The host segments in this episode are quite memorable as well.

Hobgoblins (1988)

Available on Amazon Video

This shameless straight-to-video Gremlins knockoff is about a tribe of small alien “hobgoblins” with mind control powers who escape an (unlocked) vault in a movie studio to terrorize a group of young men and women. 

Oh, and it’s the kind of movie where every female character is either a “nag” or a “slut” — an extremely misogynistic one in other words.

The riffs really zero in on the amateurish production values and make a lot of jokes referencing the 80’s. In one scene early on Mike asks “does he have Pringles in his shoes?” due to poor foley.  In a dance scene, Mike makes up lyrics to the music: “It’s the 80’s, do a lot of coke and vote for Ronald Regan.”

My favorite riff in the whole movie: “Someone’s rubbing puppets on us!”

 

Honorable mentions

Not all the films I wanted to include on this list are currently available for streaming, though there are low-quality copies on YouTube. Three stand out in particular.

Soultaker (1990)

In this cheesy movie, a group of “teens” die in a drunken car crash and wind up as ghosts. The angel of death dispatches his minion to steal their souls. It’s one of (at least) two movies they’ve covered starring Joe Estevez.

Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)

Unfortunately MST3k lost the rights to this one, and it was only very briefly available on DVD. The movie barely has anything to do with Godzilla; instead it’s mostly about a robot named Jet Jaguar fighting a giant bug thing named Megalon. 

12 To The Moon (1960)

This odd film about an early moon landing seems more on the drama between the astronauts than the strange events that start happening once they get there. It’s preceded by a ridiculous short film called Design For Dreaming about all the new products from GM and Frigidaire coming in a very 1950’s version of the future.

 

Depending how long the shelter in place order continues I may end up doing another round of these — feel free to send in suggestions. After life goes back to normal I may do a similar entry for incoherent movies on MST3k, of which there are many to choose from.

Signs of the COVID-19 times

April 24th, 2020

With the COVID-19 coronavirus spreading so quickly, everyone’s had to adapt at a rapid pace. Some of the changes are clearly sad and less than ideal, yet safety has to be prioritized or more people will wind up dead. It’s worrisome that some don’t seem to mind the latter part of that equation.

Like most of us I’ve been doing my part to shelter in place as much as possible, though sometimes one does need to get out whether it’s buying groceries or just stretching one’s legs a little.

On the occasions I’ve ventured around the neighborhood, here’s some of the changes I’ve noticed.

 

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The notoriously cramped Bi-Rite Market on 18th Street rapidly rolled out changes including limiting the number of shoppers inside the store. To that end they painted icons on the sidewalk outside showing people where to stand six feet apart. It would help more if the sidewalk weren’t so narrow but it’s a start.

The “stand here” icon seems to be somewhat universal as it’s quite similar to the one used in those TSA scanners at the airport. At least you don’t have to take your shoes off in this case.

 

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The Valencia corridor is eerily quiet, with many retail and restaurant businesses closed — and many boarded up. Ostensibly this is to prevent vandals from breaking the windows and/or looting the place.

It’s especially jarring to see upscale retail stores boarded up, though with the way the retail economy has been going these past few years I suspect boarded up storefronts are here to stay for some time.

 

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Elixir bills itself as the second oldest bar in San Francisco, dating back to at least 1858. (The oldest bar is the Old Ship Saloon, which once operated out of — you probably guessed this — an old ship.)

Like many bars and restaurants Elixir is focusing on delivery and has also put up a GoFundMe to help support their staff. This is all advertised in spray paint on the side of the building.

 

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Signs all over Dolores Park tell people to stay six feet apart, and in four languages no less. Park goers largely seem to be following the rules at least in spirit. The park isn’t really designed for social distancing with benches right next to narrow sidewalks.

While there I noticed a couple unexpected things. One is the tennis courts were locked. Of all sports tennis seems like one that’s almost ideal for social distancing. The other is that even though Muni Metro is not operating they were performing some kind of testing on a new train on the tracks in the park.

 

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Unsurprisingly tattoo and piercing shops are not an essential business. But I was surprised Body Manipulations on 16th Street felt it necessary to tell people in a “driver does not carry cash” fashion that they have no toilet paper on the premises.

Are they serious about this? They’re one of the most respected places in the Bay Area to get unusual piercings (think nipple rings, etc.) so who knows! All I can say for certain is it’s definitely a sign of the times.