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Saturday, September 25, 2004

queer eye for the straight guy 

The show made it in France. It is called "Queer: 5 garcons dans le vent", which translates as "5 hip guys" and plays on the Beatles who were 4 garcons dans le vent a little while back.



an interview with Bill O'Reilly 

Well, we are not Fafblog, so we did not actually interview Bill O'Reilly. I just took a plane, and read his interview in the American Way magazine, American Airlines in-flight magazine. I like American Way, they have this MENSA questionaire, where I always do well, until I realize I have to turn the page for the second half.

Anyhow, Bill makes the cover (usually is is actors and entertainers, it must be election season. Will Al Franken be on the cover next month?) So Bill claims he is an independent, and the questions in the interview don't involve politics much. So let's guess where he stands in the political spectrum by his answers.

Question: "what do you look for in a hotel?" Answer: "Discipline".

Question: "what is your favorite airport" Answer: "No contest, Reagan National.[...]It's clean, and it's orderly".

Question: "tell me four sights that every American ought to see". Answer: Gettysburg, Lexington and Concord, Mount Rushmore, Pearl Harbor.

Other selected quote (category: I am no elite French speaking volvo driving chardonnay drinking liberal): "I don't like a maitre d' handing me a wine cork to smell".

So the guy likes order, discipline, and has a morbid fascination for war. Sounds like a fascist to me.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

chicken... 

We have followed with some attention the peregrinations of one SF Weekly reviewer (Meredith Brody is her name; we did read the new 'humor' columnist, the Infiltrator or something like that, and thankfully we were warned it was a humor column, as we couldn't have guessed otherwise). And we realized one thing: yes, she writes like some drummers do their solos during a jazz tune, until some guys start clapping to tell them to be done with it; but, more disturbingly, she is not representative of the city she's supposed to describe to us.

What I mean by this (beyond the fact that her demographics don't match the weekly's readership) is that she lives in the east bay, she drives a car, and she favors the expensive restaurants, especially those in North Beach and in the Marina.

You don't believe me? Well, this year, she went to the following neighborhood for lunch (I exclude the suburbs):

-Mission (mi lindo yucatan, twice)
-Hayes valley (moishe's pippic)
-Bayview-ish (old clam house, just for you)
-tenderloin-ish (dottie's)
-union sq. (sears)
-lower haight (rosamunde)

She went to the following neighborhood for dinner:
-North Beach (6: Mangarosa, raigon, bix, restaurante ideale, 500 jackson, estia)
-Marina/Union st (4:emporio rulli, cafe maritime, a16, tablespoon)
-along the embarcadero (7:slanted door, ferry building, tono rosso, shangai 1930, kokkari estiatoro, harbor chinese, town hall)
-union sq/financial district (4:aqua, farralon, iluna basque, cortez)
-castro (4:home, thailand restaurant, tita's, world sausage)
-lower pac heights (quince)
-potrero (circolo)
-mission (wilde oscar's)
-market st (espetus)
-noe valley-ish/mission-ish (essence of india)
-richmond (fountain court)
-nob hill (1550 hyde)

One can see the bias without me actually putting dots on a maps, right? She loves the blond, preppy, caucasian side of the city, rubbing shoulders with people comme il faut. Oh, having lobster in the marina, or caviar at the ferry building, is that really what this city is about? She won't go to some neighborhoods after dark (the lunch list is quite different, isn't it?), being a big chicken that she is.

The sad thing is, the liveliest areas for food are not the touristy north beach, or the pricy marina, it is the mission, the inner sunset, the richmond, the avenues. Her duty is to explore the whole city, not the 'safe' neighborhoods with a big parking structure.

for one letter... 

This week, Meredith Brody gives us some advice: When you wake in the morning, poop, and I generally go a step further than Poop, which thus would make it a number 3.

To be honest, she wrote Pooh, but the turn of the phrase is so unfortunate that I could not help picturing the advice of an earnest Dr. Phil: don't delay, first thing to do before breakfast, alleviate the pressure, or you might hurt yourself. I have to say it is the only way to enjoy the review, cause otherwise it is quite dull, and like a Pooh story, will put you to sleep right away. Unlike a Pooh story, it is not its intended purpose.

There was another item I missed a couple weeks back. She whines because PBS won't carry a documentary about Julia Childs the week she passed away. The money quote was: " Our Viewer Services staff representative was singularly uninterested in our questions." We sure cannot blame him or her, Meredith has a way of being uninteresting. After all, she was claiming that Julia Child "made PBS" and that San Francisco is the "center of the food universe". I understand the representative, I tend to tune out my brother-in-law myself when he says his car is "the fastest on the freeway" and he "always park right in front of the door".




Thursday, September 16, 2004

teasers 

I was driving down 101 and I saw this:


I wondered for a second what it was, and just thought: heck, what kind of stupid advertising is this teaser for.

The answer is here. (this is where the picture is coming from.)

It is a ploy to hire number theorists; the answers are all over the internet (once it has made it on /., it is over), but you have to salute a company who is trying to hire scientist. Especially scientists able to solve the problems quoted: they are not very practical, nor short-term revenue generating.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

on the other side of the town 

While Meredith favors north beach (safe, easy access from the bay bridge, easy parking in that parking structure and all these smiling people with cameras, what's not to like!), Paul Reidinger visits the urban forage.

I have had the chance to visit all three locations: I live by the lower haight one, where I get wheatgrass juice every so often, the castro one was designed by a drummer I used to jam with (it is so small I am not sure an architect was needed, if you ask me) and we had to check the valencia venue, just so as to be exhaustive.

I am no vegetarian, but I was pleased every time. And if you ask me, I think urban forage is much closer to the pulse of this city than a brazilian-fusion place that serves $17 foie gras a la French and pork chop Milanese.

leaked memo 

Sometimes, one needs to state the obvious. Luckily, Meredith Brody, she of the 'verdant green' and the 'fish were fished out of the water' fame, is here for us:
-there were also a soup and three salads, under Sopa e Salada
-appetizing appetizers

Meredith goes again to north beach, orders foie gras again (what, no lobster?). She has the weirdest qualms about it: [someone] suggested the foie gras [...], which I had, uncharacteristically, balked at because of its price [...] I relented immediately, in part because [it comes with mango and] in part because no dish on a menu should be off-limits. Mrs. Lobster is afraid of running up the expense report? Then she goes I was being atypically stingy.

Mmmmm, strange. It's not her money, and she never mentions it; au contraire, she favors the pricey stuff. My guess is someone got an earful about that $46 plate of caviar last week. Our investigative reporter actually got a copy of the memo from Mecklin to Meredith: it says "the readers don't like you, so at least be cheap."

Monday, September 13, 2004

new writer at the weekly... 

A few weeks back I was wondering (hoping, praying) if the 'writer wanted' ads where to replace Meredith Brody. It unfortunately turned out to replace Silke Tudor with a new face, Katy St Clair.

Katy St Clair's job seems to compensate for Meredith's un-hipness by mentioning drugs, ambient music, goat fucking, nuggets of teenage philosophy (I paraphrase: 'people want to fuck because we are hardwired to reproduce') and generally having a porn star pseudonym (I'm typing this from work: I have to admit I'm afraid to google her, God knows what the results could be).

Still, let's wish her a warm welcome: she faces a tough task since Silke's shoes are hard to fill.


how did I miss that? 

I feel really bad, here's a blog that covers all things SF and diss Meredith Brody regularly. Here's a sample:
Meredith Brody shows off the Bay Area foodie scene to some chefs from the southland. Berkeley Bowl has cheaper and better organic produce than the wholesale joints in LA County, suckas! Still, EssEffist has trouble believing that Meredith and her friends really hit all those restaurants in one day, and are wondering if someone's poetic license needs to be revoked.

I wish I'd said that.

It should be added on the left in the blogroll pretty soon.

drama in croatia... 

The Croatian Catholic church is irate since a new law imposed zero tolerance on driving. Croatian priests would have to choose between driving to work and drinking wine during Mass as required by their function.

A new TV show is starting this fall on NBC. Heather Locklear (who was on melrose place like 10 years ago, is there a botox story here?) and some dude are heading LAX and lots of drama ensues. One of the issues to solve is those 3 Croatian pilots who would like to take off even though they are, who'd thunk it, drunk. Maybe, instead of the winged pilot uniform, they should wear a black robe with a white collar.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

food reviews this week? 

I have to apologize for not reviewing the review from our dear Mrs. Brody.This week, when asked about a cheap nice ethnic place that serves veal, her answer is sushi! And asked to take foodies on a tour, she advises Tartine, the ferry building and Cesar in Berkeley: yep, those are very risky choices. Good things they called her, the zagat guide would have taken them exactly there anyway. But she gets to eat her Russian caviar at the Weekly's expense, and this is what matters.

Monday, September 06, 2004

the end of burning man 

This chron article talks about the end of burning man.

The end of burning man has been on the horizon for a little while, but every year it beats the record of participation. One of this Yogi Bera things: the more people, the less success.

The article quotes some people generally bitching about the lack of big art pieces and significant installations. The thing is: BM's rule is 'no spectator'. So whiners like John of Novato and Lisla from LA should either come up with something to display or shut the fuck up.

The article raises an interesing point: the organization of BM allocated $270,000 for art. The budget is 35,000 people times $200 per = $7,000,000. It is a tiny little drop for an art festival. It is slightly less than $8 per $200 ticket, or less than 4%. That is: without counting the coffee shop revenue.

BM organization is very opaque: it is privately owned by Larry Harvey, and, to my knowledge, does not publicize its financial statement. I attended BM two years in a row, in '98 and '99. The year after this, they jacked up the ticket price from around $80 to $150. Supposedly, they were repercuting the rise in the permit from the Bureau of Land Management (which owns the land on which BM happens). The cost per ticket of the increase of the permit from the BLM was less than $20. At the time, the event size was about 25,000 people, and the other costs were pretty steady. The event was making money before the price increase!

When people (the so called 'community', even though it has little power since BM belongs to Harvey) started to complain about a $20 increase from BLM turning into a $70 to $100 increase at the door, the BM organization came up with another excuse: it needed to buy some real estate to provide as a collateral for loans. The rationale was: BM needs to spend the money ahead of the festival. Revenue come in that Labor day week, so it has to borrow the money, and hope it can pay back the loans with the success of the event.

Of course, this is somewhat bullshit: under the pretense of allowing 'starving artist' to participate, they were selling 'cheaper' tickets ahead of time. Late winter/early spring tickets would be heavily discounted, and price would increase till the festival. As such, it ensures a steady flow of income (ie. no needs for these loans). The phonyness is to pretend to do a good dead (help these 'artists' in the community when it is just basic economics that if you are selling tickets in March for something in September, you need to provide an incentive). The 'piece of land' as collateral for borrowing means that: Larry Harvey owns the BM organization, and thus he ends up owning the land. I hope he at least got a nice loft in potrero.

The whole idea got me a little sick: here is a very opaque privately owned for profit organization who promotes the opposite ideal of selflessness and utopian society build on anti-mercantilism. In other words: a bunch of self-serving hypocrites.

The 'community' benefits from BM: it provides a forum for many artists, and the experience of attending the festival is priceless. To bad the people who run it got corrupted by it.

PS: the article quotes tickets at being between $185 and $250. They were actually $350 at the gate! The range quoted should be for advance ticket sales only! Oh, and if I recall well, they also had 'return tickets', so that if you wanted to leave the camp for a day and come back, you'd have to pay for that right.

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