This is my cellphone rant

The other day, I received a notification in the mail about some new cellphone antennas being proposed for installation at 1010 Bush Street by AT&T. If your ass is properly trained for a long sit and you want to see a good show, head to the First Congregational Church at 1300 Polk on November 2 at 7PM. Every nut (with no offense to our beloved “nutjob” commenter) will crawl out from from every conceivable rock to speak up against this and delay the installation, which I might add will most likely happen anyways because people want a mobile network that actually works.

And so, after dusting up on NIMBY classifications, my rant begins. What gives, SF? Cellphone reception, and specifically data reception here is probably the shittiest I’ve ever encountered. Driving through Central Oregon where my phone would say Edge, I would still get speeds that rivaled the “3G” I have here. And don’t even get me started on Portland, New Orleans, and NYC which I’ve been to in the last year to realize what 3G actually is and let me tell you, it’s awesome. Oh, and for the record I’ve been a subscriber to AT&T, T-Mobile, and briefly used Verizon. They all suck here. Dropped calls are standard and data speeds are like trying to download porn in 1996.

Yeah, yeah I know, “Cellphone signals give you cancer!” I’ve seen arguments back and forth on this and honestly, at this point, cellphones are the least of my worries in shortening my life because I have news for you: we will all indeed die eventually. We should be a great deal more worried about the jet fuel exhaust being slathered through the immediate atmosphere by air traffic from SFO and OAK. Or, how about all the car exhaust from idling commuters because we fought having proper elevated expressways across San Francisco and made Van Ness a “highway”?

Nah, it’s obvious that it’s the cellphone signals we need to loose sleep over. People believe it to be imperative to stop San Francisco, this supposedly amazing hub of 21st century technology, from having decent connectivity. Just another sign that while convinced otherwise, we’re a First World city insisting on approaching life in a Third World way. I call this living in the Fourth World. I’ll wrap this up before I get hurled over my handlebars by a pothole and a PG&E transformer explodes.

It’s about to get all evacuation-y

In case you’re about to ask, “Holy shit on a cracker, what’s happening down at Civic Center today?” The word has been spread as part of Civic Response 2011, as reported by SF Citizen:

This will be a coordinated multi-organization joint evacuation drill involving the facilities management and security agencies, as well as the involved building tenants from within the San Francisco Civic Center area. This multi-agency drill will involve civilian and uniformed responders from the local and state government levels and is aimed at helping ensure public safety in the event of an actual emergency.

There will be approximately 1,500-1,800 building tenants evacuated and dozens of responders involved in this exercise. The participating agencies will activate their fire alarm plans and evacuate their tenants to pre-designated locations at Civic Center Plaza, UN Plaza, and the War Memorial area.

Participating Buildings – City Hall, Dept Public Health at 101 Grove Street, UC Hastings College of the Law, Veteran’s Building at 401 Van Ness.

Having been forced encouraged to participate in these at various workplaces, I find them to be more of an exercise in how things should be rather than how things are. In an actual emergency, a third of us are fighting with each other to direct the emergency, a third are running around like headless, flightless chickens, and another third are claiming that there is no emergency while adjusting our tinfoil hats.

When the tides meet

For anyone who has been to Cape Town, South Africa, you will most likely have hiked out to Cape Point. There, in a vast expanse of blues and greens you see the meeting of two oceans: the Indian and Atlantic. They froth and crash in to each other in a turgid dance of currents that you’re thankful to not be navigating, but gazing at from the outside safety of the shores.

To paint this in to more of a local sense, anyone who has met me knows that I often refer to living between the Academy of Art in the Upper Tenderloin and the Tenderloin Housing Clinic/Neighborhood Development Corporation in the Lower Tenderloin as being in the middle of a shit sandwich. And, don’t for any second think that we’re the bread in this arrangement.

All of this is a long way to get to a recent article on Beyond Chron (if they want links, then open up comments) about the AoA now renting the defunct former digs of the Culinary Academy for their “fashion school” at the corner of Turk & Polk. Let’s remember that the AoA garners $400 million+ a year just in tuition, not to mention their “triple room occupancy” dorms. They are a blatant (I would even say predatory) for-profit school and these are no end of evil. For all the hype of their fashion school being “invited” (I wouldn’t be surprised if they paid something) to NYC’s Fashion Week, it’s amazing how they don’t have anyone notable either as staff or former students despite having 17,000 students a year.

Then there are the various homeless social service providers who have become something of a de facto mafia in the Tenderloin. Don’t believe me? Try and get funding for any art project in the neighborhood and you’ll be directed by the city agencies to “work with” the homeless non-profits. Have a crime problem on your block? Go talk to Randy Shaw to get the police to do something about it. Some call this neighborhood activism, but I just call it self-preservation.

…Elisa Stephens has a fondness for historic buildings, which the central city has in large supply.

Naturally, as they’re vacant due to the destruction of the neighborhood through the Tenderloin Housing Clinic (THC) and Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC). All of this article really smacks like a cheering piece for the AoA as they may have donated some large amount of money to the THC to be “good neighbors”. We’ll never know, though, as the THC doesn’t release detailed donation records publicly. That’s what happens when you shift social services over to private contractors –you lose all accountability.

Suffice to say, the AoA and the homeless industry have been moving steadily towards each other over the years, probably attracted by their mutual love of profiteering, and it was bound to happen that their interests would meet some day. Elisa Stephens’ love of buying up buildings in downtown is not to revitalize the neighborhood. Her students don’t really even see the neighborhood as they’re shuttled about in their special, private, gridlock-inducing buses.

The former Culinary Academy site is only one block from the new SF PUC building that opens in 2012. The combination of these two new facilities should help revive the distressed Golden Gate corridor between Polk and Van Ness.

This is what will actually happen: both the PUC and the AoA will clear out at the end of the day. The same problems that currently exist will continue to exist as these aren’t neighborhood institutions or even neighbors at all. They’re just tenants who have no real stake in the neighborhood. Randy damn well knows this as he heads home to his mansion in the Berkeley Hills when the sun goes down. Elisa damn well knows this as she heads home to her mansion in Nob Hill when the sun goes down.

The only way any of this will change is if AoA students start getting shot/mugged/stared at weirdly and the AoA puts pressure on SFPD to protect their cash cows (ie students). This would be wonderfully ironic given the constant police intervention required to deal with their dorms in the upper Tenderloin and the out-of-control students treating the entire area like it’s their living room given that there is no curfew or control in the dorms. There have already been several medical emergency calls (due to substance abuse) to the dorms so far this year, but no one wants to talk about those.

Also, students do not revive an area. I went to UC Berkeley and the entire south side of campus is a complete wasteland of shitty student-related bars and restaurants. The same thing is happening here and if anything opens up near this new building, it will only be for the students, not the rest of the neighborhood.

Love that lack of “special interest contributions”

I’ve been out of town for the last few days, checking out San Francisco Jr. (also known as Portland) which in many ways is currently bitchslapping San Francisco (better roads, better streetcars, better bike lanes, functional 3G, a food cart scene that actually is a scene and not just five carts circulating the city). Upon coming back, I found this which talks about the city getting rid of the public financing for the mayoral race. I’m really very much in favor of this action because this funding system is A) bullshit and B) refer to A.

As is typically the case, there is a gem of a comment:

Supervisor Jane Kim said she doesn’t support the amendment.

“It’s important for candidates to be able to stand against special interest contributions,” Kim said. She said that “there is some question as to whether litigation would be successful.”

For those who were unaware, Kim was bandied about the Tenderloin during the District 6 election by Randy Shaw, director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic. This was even directly alluded to in this housing debate where I believe it was Jim Meko who said, while pointing at her, “And we all know that Randy Shaw has a candidate in this election”. And Kim has voted pretty much exactly as Randy has liked since getting elected. So, obviously we can all understand how the “independent” Kim would be very concerned about special interests due to her firsthand experience in the matter.

Shitter my timbers and all things feces-related

Shit. There, I said it. Shit, shit, shit. I said it again and if our byproduct of eating delicious meals bothers you, then that would explain why we have such a problem dealing with shit (excuse me, “feces”, no, wait, “shit”). Thankfully, as SFist noted from the full Bay Citizen article, attention is being paid to the fact that seeing some dude taking a dump between two cars is about as common these days as some mustachioed gentleman riding by on a fixie and going, “Ewwww…”

So the city, inspired by the success of parklets, are studying a plan that would put eco-friendly, translucent public toilets in parking spaces that are being dubbed: pooplets. Apparently the name shitlets was already taken and/or potentially offensive to delicate, new residents’ ears that don’t want to realize that what goes in, must come out and if you’re feeding 10,000 people, then that’s potentially 10,000 asses without a place to crap.

I’m not terribly keen on the fact that this study seems to have solely focused on the Tenderloin as shit is a problem all over San Francisco, but it is true that people don’t like talking about it in general, as noted in this article on the poo taboo or even better by the Gates Foundation:

I mean, we need to face the fact that while we don’t have Flying toilets (you should really check out that link) here we do have a massive shit problem and ignoring it has so far really not worked out so well.

Do dog walkers avoid the Tenderloin?

It’s not the first time that we hear a Tenderloin resident complain about the discriminating attitude of some dog walkers in the city who refuse to come to the neighborhood, like @heyitsjamhands (aka ukulele girl) was doing tonight.

On the other hand, we’ve seen a lovely dog walker lady a few times who picks up Gus of Hooker’s Sweet Treats with her car full of other happy doggies. She didn’t seem to have any issue with offering her services in this neighborhood, although we can’t be sure if she’s the only exception and she probably goes and walks them elsewhere–hopefully painting the Marina brown. Unfortunately, we don’t have a dog (that’s why we need to stalk all of yours) and thus we don’t know what problems there may be.

So you tell us, dear Tender readers, have you experienced problems finding a dog walker who’s not scared of the TL?

Dusting murals for dollars

Making the rounds lately is the announcement of a couple of old, partially painted-over advertising murals getting renewed. Naturally, given that EINE won’t even charge the $300 in paint needed to do a wall, the $35,000 grant is questionable as hell, but beyond that, there’s the bigger question of, “Why?”

I’m all for beautification of the Loin and programs like Art in Storefronts are okay, but I have to say I’m a much bigger fan of a program I call, “Stores in Storefronts” (or maybe even “Turdless Streets”). But where empty storefronts are just blight/speculation, I actually like these murals and I like them how they are, in their aged form.

In fact, given the current design tastes, I amazed that they thought this was needed. Just check out the logo for our alleged local coffee “mega-chain”, Blue Bottle Coffee, or look at the website selections on #9 of this poll (vote Tender BTW). Old timey and worn is in! Let our murals peel and save the money for… I don’t know… some other misappropriation of public funds such as: Co-Working for Workless Peoples.

Project Open Hand’s Giant Race

Project Open Hand, an organization providing nutritional needs to those living with HIV/AIDS, the homebound and elderly, is hosting their 2nd annual Giant Race to raise money & awareness. Open Hand has one of their locations in the TL at Polk between Ellis & Eddy, but provides for all of San Francisco county.

The race is on Aug. 27. Sign up to race or support someone you know who’s running.

Juicy, dirty poverty tourism in the Tenderloin

At the beginning of this month, a woman from the staff of a startup called Vayable wrote to us to see if I wanted to create “a tour of sorts of the best places in the Tenderloin” for their site. After all, she had created the Go Homeless for a Day one and was very proud of it (as their site is, acording to their about page, “for explorers who crave authentic trips”). Initially, I wanted to write back stating that if she did actually put that up, I would make fun of her for doing it as I find this type of thing to be that tricky point at which dumb and shit come together to form criminally lame.

Well, in the end I didn’t bother writing back and yet, I didn’t have to make fun of her as Jay Barmann took care of that very well in an SFist article:

Vayable CEO Jamie Wong says, “Large numbers of tourists spend vacation time and money to tour the slums in Bombay or to volunteer in impoverished parts world. This experience is no different.” Well, sure Jamie. I guess it just seems like a first when it comes to exploiting the poor in our country and treating them like animals in a zoo.

While this initially just seems like “poverty tourism”, this is also an offshoot of “voluntourism”. We see a rise in this type of thing in the Tenderloin during the summer (hello summer vacation missionaries), and it simply does not work. People think that popping in and either seeing the impoverished in the world firsthand or doing some uninformed short term work there is actually of some benefit when it’s really for themselves. On the ground, it fails the communities which are in theory to be helped.

Sure, while nibbling on your boiled goose after a lively game of squash at the club, you’re able to tell all about the time you spent helping/seeing the poor in Blah dee Blah, Somewhere and you believe that your telling about it is actually worth something (hint, it’s not). But, the problems in the world these days are not from lack of money for projects, volunteers to work on the projects, or awareness campaigns. There is already too much of all of this being thrown around without much thought other than making the donors and those who re-tweet a funding campaign feel good about themselves. What’s needed is long term, structural work with concrete and well-defined, absolute goals that look down the road decades, not days.

And this is what is continually thrashing the Tenderloin. Church groups who pop in to feed and proselytize for a Sunday or a Thanksgiving, or people who volunteer for a couple of months at a homeless shelter are all guilty of the same thing as anyone who goes on Vayable’s “Go Homeless for a Day” activity, in that they’re all just tourists (“leave your bed, television and car behind”). For those who live here this does nothing and accomplishes nothing except to perpetuate a homeless industry in which we all lose. In the case of Vayable, it also works to disgust me, so I guess that it does something in the end.

Special Crime Edition

I’m farting pride out of every orifice to bring you this special All Crime Edition of The Tender because well, there are crimes happening every day in the Tenderloin and why the hell not point out the obvious?

We start off with a small dispute between Emelia and Les at Cafe Royale caused by the theft of some artwork from the cafe. We had gotten wind of this stinky mess last week from avid reader Eugene and then from seeing the flyers everywhere around the neighborhood, but we were too lazy to investigate further and, well, we’re having our next TenderNights at Cafe Royale with 200 Yards and didn’t want to take sides in the matter. But today Tender friend and Loin neighbor Leanne explained the drama for SFist readers, so go take a look at it. No idea how it’s going to resolve and as one commentor on SFist pointed out, how on earth is $400 almost rent? I’ll have wherever she’s living.

Protesting unpaid monies via badly drawn cartoons

From broken promises, we move on to broken records in that misfit turds are stealing them from Chambers. I mean, really? Those aren’t the newest Bon Iver vinyls in there gang. What’s up with that? The thieves probably only tip 10% too. We’ve heard the burgers are mighty fine, yet that doesn’t stop all the wannabe DJs from stealing their interior decoration apparently. I guess matching forks and spoons weren’t enough?

The temptation is too high for vinyl lovers at Chambers

Then we move on to the whirling shit tornado that is Turk Street as they recently “discovered” what we all pretty much known in that it’s the worst street in the Loin, or more specifically, that the first block of Turk (at Market) is the worst block. Apparently The Tenderloin Housing Clinic (THC) and the Central City SRO Collaborative analyzed public data compiled by the San Francisco Police Department between November 2010 and May 2011, and found that the first block of Turk Street has 35 times more violent crimes per 1,000 residents than the rest of the city. The report, Taking Back Turk, was presented to the press on Wednesday, which explains why all of a sudden all the newspapers are taking note of what has been out there for anyone to see for along time. As we all know, our dear mainstream media love Tenderloin stories that confirm how crime-infested this cesspool of a neighborhood is.

And of course, they’re trying to state that it’s all linked to a drop in police which is probably true to some degree. Fear not, though, as self-appointed neighborhood spokesman, Randy Shaw is there to defend the hood (I mean, look how concerned he looks). As usually, Shaw spits out one of his brilliant pearls of wisdom:

“When we started this study we knew it was bad, but it’s even worse than we thought,” said co-author Randy Shaw of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, located at 34 Turk St.

Funny Randy, you don’t happen to think that having a massive, uncontrolled conglomeration of people who are down on their luck mixed with those who have substance abuse problems mixed with those who are physically/mentally handicapped would have anything to do with it, would you?

Gee- a half dozen roomer hotels, a liquor store, 2 parking lots, an overpriced convenience store, 3 whooker/strip lounges and a longwall that is painted to look like graffiti…this just screams uptown schmalz that attracts all the city social mavens.
This is where loitering laws make sense.
I don’t understand how this article can indict a neighborhood like that.

-Commenter tototu on Sfgate

Nah, why put two and two together when you can try state that obviously it’s a police problem which means that in turn, it’s a funding problem (of course!) and THC needs more moola, obviously. Oh, but I’m sure that the Uptown Tenderloin Museum would solve all the problems were it to get its $3.8 million. Still waiting to see the day that he heads to the BoS with his big mooching bag for that one.

Randy, wake up. You and your group are part of the problem, not the solution, and your legacy you’ll be leaving here smells very urine-y.

A beautiful view of the 100 block of Turk Street, from Google Maps