EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 Hipster | Baghdad By The Bay - Part 2

Posts Tagged 'hipster'

Living The Techy Life

Mug for the camera. Microsoft wants to see where their money went...I went to a mixer last night which is sort of like an all you can eat buffet for techies and in talking with a few people I started to understand how people with a tech background survive in the City.

First off you have to get invited to lots of mixers or meet ups. They’re free, offer food and lots of free booze. They run from 4pm to around midnight depending upon the day of the week. The food and booze is sponsored by large tech companies or at least partially underwritten to make it less expensive to the attendees. So let’s see what I got last night.

I walked in and was handed two free drink tickets. These were pretty much good for anything from a coke to a long island ice tea. I’ve just saved potentially $20. After walking in the door and before I could get a drink the food servers got me. I was offered [not in order of appearance] crab cakes, mushroom duxelles on toast, smoked salmon on toast, kobe beef styled sliders with grilled onions, grilled polenta dusted with parmesan, sweet potato fries with a habanero aioli to name what I can remember. I stayed a little over an hour and I have to say I left overly stuffed. When I got home I could barely keep my eyes open from the food coma I was in and had one of the best nights sleep I’ve had in a long time. Getting seconds and thirds of the food wasn’t uncalled for, but expected that evening and I probably got an extra 2000 calories to add to my diet that day. Total cost for the evening? $2 muni fare round trip because I was able to transfer back home in under the hour and a half time frame.

As I was walking down Montgomery street to the location I noticed something about downtown that I hadn’t in awhile because I don’t go there very often. Most of the people were in a severely dressed down state. I could count the number of button down shirts on one had and most of those were worn by the doormen at the various clubs along the way. Most of the people looked like they bought their clothes at a Goodwill and aimed for the lower end stuff. Passing by 111 Minna there were an large number of hipsters all with bike messenger bags yet there wasn’t a single bike to be found. 111 Minna has a low entry fee and cheap beer so if you’ve got a few extra bucks it’s a good place to end an evening or start one if you’re not hungry.

Now let’s relate this to the techy life. San Francisco we all know is an expensive town to live in. If you work here it’s almost as if no matter how much they pay you, it’s never enough. The ways you make ends meet is by attending the meet ups and mixers. They have them for breakfast, lunch and dinner so if you swing it right you never need to have food in your house. You can supplement those with the perks your business offers you such as chips and cookies before you run home to your your apartment that other people would call a closet. While I’m not as into the tech field as many other people I could still eat out on someone else’s dime for about three nights a week.

To get the techy look you have to buy used clothing or just have not bought clothes since Web 1.0. You very rarely need a button down shirt so you only need to own one that you can keep in your closet and pull it out once a year when you have to dress up or attend a funeral. The bike messenger bag is for carrying all your laptop/tablet and to stuff swag that you get at the meet ups, or stuff food into for a late night snack.

I never had to live this lifestyle since before I got my house the rent was way cheaper and I wasn’t spending upwards of $40k/year just on rent. While I can’t fully relate to it, I do have to say that I admire the way they get by. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go pull the kobe beef sliders and smoked salmon out of my jacket from last night.

The Mission Is The Hot New District? Seriously?

Mission DistrictI don’t like to put down areas of the city and in this case it’s kind of a half hearted commentary, but I just read that the Mission District is the new hot place to buy in San Francisco. I’m not so sure it’s hot to buy or hot to sell. The reality is whether or not you’ll drop a million dollars on a fixer upper.

Yes, you read that right, there is a home that the owners are asking $1,000,000 and it’s a fixer upper expected to sell for more money. This house was one of the original houses and my guess from looking at the outside is that not too much has been done on the inside. I can see asking a price like that on some of the more updated homes, but a lot of the original homes were built in the 20’s and 30’s and there are possible problems that will cost you even more in the long run.

Granted, it was 20 years ago, but I lived in a 2 bedroom house in the Mission. It was my first time I had moved out of my parents house and had sort of a house of my own. This house was built in 1924. It had a living room, dining room and kitchen on one floor and a large bedroom, small bedroom and sunroom on the top floor along with the bathrooms. It was a good sturdy house, but there were also parts downstairs that no one ever walked into. There was a door next to the garage door that you couldn’t see for all the spider webs. The door out to our backyard that was overgrown with weeds and blackberry brambles was sealed shut with spiderwebs. To get into the garage you had to have a tiny car because the street was so narrow you couldn’t really get enough angle to get into the garage with a regular sized car.

I got used to parking 2-4 blocks away from the house because the house was on a private street that dead ended and you had to back up to get down the street because there wasn’t enough room to turn around. You couldn’t park on the street on my side and on the other side people would park halfway on the curb. Because I was parking 2-4 blocks away my tires were always in good shape usually because I had to replace them every 6 months because someone would slash them. I got to fall asleep to the lulling sounds of gun fire that was going on between the local gangs. I never really walked the streets unless I was going to work because there wasn’t anything to walk to really other than my car. I would have to drive to get to most places because walking wasn’t really that safe.

Let’s fast forward to today and see how it is. When you look at the paper you still see stories of people getting shot or car chases ending in crashes. There are a lot of new restaurants catering to hipsters that have had cars crash into them or people shot during dinner service. Fires caused by substandard old wiring. This is not a positive reason to live in a place. The Mission attracted hipsters because it was a cheap place to live at first. Hell, our rent on the house I was in was $800/month split between 2 [sometimes 3] of us. When we moved out the house had sold for $209k. Now the prices can be 5x that.

It’s not cheap to live there anymore, but there is still a mix of the old Mission and the new Mission which is having problems. You’ve got six figure income people living next door to welfare recipients. The crime level is still much higher than in other parts of the city. A lot of the hipsters living there are at the lower end of the income spectrum because they’re new to San Francisco and don’t understand that it takes a lot of money or luck to live here comfortably. They are the ones that will come and go that will make the Mission’s old beat up properties slide by the way side quickly.

I’m not too sure because I don’t have many homeowners to talk to, but the idea of buying a house and flipping it for a profit in a couple of years seems to yield a lesser return than it did 10-15 years ago. Owning a home is a long term thing and takes commitment. You’re tied to it for 30 years if you’re serious and a lot changes in 30 years. Oddly enough there are better places [and by better I mean less expensive, lower crime rate, better schools, etc] outside the Mission that change more slowly that are better for a long term commitment. These are parts of the city a lot of the new comers call boring. Excitement for me in owning a house isn’t asking myself when I step out the door, am I going to get shot at or just have my car broken into. In the long term, these areas have more value as they keep moving up in value just slowly. Note that the house I used to live in in the Mission could be sold today for $735k and rent for $3300 a month.  While that’s quite an increase since I was there my old next door neighbor has seen the house value rise and fall radically over the years.

Overall, I don’t mind my couple of times a year visit to the Mission, but the idea of living there now would be a step down for me.

Shhhh…A Shopping Secret

La Playa SafewayI was tempted not to share this one because I do like to shop here even though it’s a drive from my house [3 miles isn’t much of a drive for most people outside SF], but I figured that young hipsters who don’t usually have cars and live in the Mission or Haight won’t bother going all the way out to this place. What place am I talking about? The Safeway at the beach. I honestly hate shopping on weekends and the closest Safeway to me is on Noriega and 30th which I hate because it’s always crowded even during the week and in the evening it’s not crowded, but understaffed. The Safeway at the beach isn’t anything like that.

It’s kind of a hidden mystery for many because it’s a large Safeway, one of the largest in the city and they put it out at ocean on top of what used to be Playland at the Beach. Because of the exposure to all the salt air and fog from the ocean the outside looks a little dumpy, but when you go inside it’s a different story. The typical crowd is a bit on the rough side. I don’t mean fights will break out, just that to most people tossing on a t-shirt over your pajamas and grabbing your flip-flops is considered well dressed to shop here. I suppose a small part of this is due to the few homeless people who hang out in front and the large number that live in Golden Gate Park who go there to buy their food and cheap booze. They’re pretty harmless, but to the uninformed they can look a little scary.

The best part is the aisles are large, very large and it tends to be a very well stocked Safeway, but like many others the staff is a little short in the evenings. There is a Wells Fargo branch at this location where you can get all your banking done even on Sundays [side note, if you’re a real San Franciscan you bank at Wells Fargo]. The deli and bakery are sufficient and a little better stocked than many others around town, but for the general groceries you can find stuff here that is hard to find in other places just because they have lots of room and need to fill it. The butchers are one of the few at Safeway’s that you can pull over and have them cut some meat up for you.

When you finish your shopping and go to check out the wait can be stupidly fast on weekends and it’s not unusual to find a few checkers just standing there talking to another checker waiting for someone to show up. When I used to live a bit closer we used to go here all the time, but now on weekends it’s just kind of refreshing to get some morning air and walk around a store where there aren’t thousands of people pushing you all over the place. It’s even better when it’s a sunny morning which contrary to popular belief we do get more frequently than people think.

Potrero Hill

As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted anything in awhile and that’s because I’ve taken a real job that I have to do a 9am to close to 5pm almost everyday in the office. I know that sounds vague, but for someone who has had a bit of hipster life without the bad clothes for the last three years it’s a big change. Most of the companies I’ve worked for have been work from home or work is like home so it’s a bit different for me now and to add to that I work in a part of town that I never went to before 9pm.

I work in the Potrero Hill district of SF and after a week and a half I’m starting to get a better feel for the area. It’s a mix of industrial, commercial and residential which is a lot different than the Sunset District, oh and the sun shines there on a daily basis. When I can drive into work I get free parking and can get there in 20 minutes. When I take the bus it takes me 45 minutes to an hour to get there.

Getting used to heat during the day is something new to me. My nordic blood of the Sunset makes me sweat when the temperature passes 60°. I worked in SOMA for a short period where the heat got up into the 80’s every day and all of us were sweaty messes, but that was a print shop this place is a little more upscale and you have to sort of look like you’re working at a business so it’s a different area.

Not just in that aspect, but also in the fact that in the area around 16th and DeHaro where I work you won’t find a corner store anywhere so you pretty much need to bring in everything you need to work with you. Great when I drive in, but kind of a hassle on the bus.

When I used to come out here was about 20 years ago when the music scene had declined to the point that the Bottom of the Hill was the only place left for bands to play. Now there’s Thee Parkside for bands, but I’ve never been there. Other than that there’s very little else to draw me to this part of town. The only grocery store is Whole Foods that is ridiculously expensive, but there’s tons of really nice upscale condos all over the place, so the Potrero has a ying and yang aspect to it.

There are lots of restaurants and you’ll see lots of hipsters sitting out in front in the sun eating their lunch, but you also have a few, but small number of crazy types walking down the block yelling at the top of their lungs. Most of the businesses are also a bit on the upscale side as well even though they’re in old building from the early part of the 20th century.

This is a new experience for me, so it’s going to take me a while to being out here. It’s definitely a part of San Francisco I haven’t really experienced before and I have to say when I get on 280 South at Mariposa my car literally bounces up and down and I’m still trying to figure out why.

The General Store

I like living in the Westside. We’re starting to change the Sunset district and Richmond over to the Westside because we both have Ocean Beach in common. Once you pass Sunset Boulevard the vibe changes and you just get a laid-back beach vibe from the things you encounter. You see it most down on Judah street with Noriega and Taraval starting to get into the game and Judah street was where I ended up yesterday.

There’s a little parklet across from the 7-11 that made me stop and take a look and I noticed a new store that I hadn’t seen before. It’s called the General Store, yes I agree it could have a better name, but it’s a well, general store. It carries thing you would need like clothes and flashlights and books, etc. They tend to be a bit more on the upscale side of things, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They’ve been in business for a year and a half which is good by business standards in the Westside because businesses don’t usually last too long as you get near the beach. At least in the past.

The beach area used to be a no man’s land that the only thing that lasted more than a year was the corner liquor store. Restaurants out there were pretty beat up looking and you would want to choose them unless you had to. I’m glad it’s changing. Judah street from 44th Avenue down to Great Highway is becoming a vibrant place to visit. The General Store just adds to this.

When I walked in I was surprised at the artistic quality of many of the items for sale. There was a calendar that  had each month printed in a spiral showing the phase of the moon each day and was printed using an old method called letterpress wherein metallic versions of the letters are actually pressed into the paper after being coated with ink. It gives a debossed look even though the printers tried to avoid this when they first started doing it.

There were wooden handmade implements that upon further inspection turned out to to be flashlights. They were pretty impressively made and if you had one sitting on a table you wouldn’t even know what it was. There were also a collection of handmade soaps and jewelry for those so inclined. The books and notecards available while few had a distinct Westside vibe.

All in all it was a nice place to visit and with the parklet outside the two blended in together quite nicely. It’s a warm and inviting place that makes you feel welcome when you step inside. You should stop by and take a look. It’s a nice place to visit.

Trying to Wrap My Head Around Mission Hipsters

So I’ve been spending the better part of the week in the Mission District as many of you can probably figure out by by talking about my trips on the 48 Quintara. I actually did live there for about six years 16 years ago and I have to say that not too much has changed except that you see more white people now, but it’s still the best place to find a good selection of Hispanic foods.

That being said, I can’t wrap my head around why the Mission Hipsters™ have wanted to call this place their home. The place isn’t the cleanest still, the building are old and while nice to look at when you get inside some of them can be a little disgusting. The crime has dropped significantly from when I was there [no I was not the cause of the high crime rate], but there are still gangs running around and a flying bullet doesn’t care if your a Norteño or Sureño.

I have noticed that the Mission has tried to gentrify itself a bit which is a nice way of saying people with money come in and buy up poor people’s places pushing them out to make room for more people with money. The look is kind of odd when you walk past Rosamunde that’s right in between two run down stores that look like they haven’t seen a fresh coat of paint in over 50 years.

With that being said, I know there’s still good in the Mission, because I wouldn’t have lived there for six years if there wasn’t. The people are friendly and by that I mean the pre-hipster people. It’s got great weather most of the time and even when it doesn’t it’s still not that bad. If you want to experience the real Mission you have to go to anywhere around 24th and Mission. That’s still the place where you hear the salsa music blasting all day and some of the best places to buy Mexican food. If you get a chance stop by the Mission Panaderia that’s there. They make the best Mexican pastries in my book.

I think, but I’m not sure that the Mission Hipsters™ are located more down around 18th and Mission because you’ll suddenly hear less Spanish and more English and the crowd turns decidedly more Caucasian and Asian. You still will find a few Mexican food places, but there aren’t the same. The Mission kind of loses it’s feel here due to it being more affected by the gentrification and is kind of, in my mind a Disney version of the Mission.

I can see the Mission Hipsters™ wanting to live and work cheap, but the gentrification takes time and most of the start ups come and go quickly that are around here. They’re kind of an unwashed version of the Marina crowd with less money. I know I’m sounding mean, but I can’t help it. While you do have BART serving the area, you still have to go downtown to get to BART or take a slow bus to get there. This is probably why people out in the avenues are kind of isolated from the Mission District and vice versa. There’s no way to get there from here and vice versa.

That’s part of the reason I don’t get the concept of the Mission Hipster™. They try to be alternative fashion conscious, but I don’t get when being hip and cool meant that you have to step over excrement and homeless people when you walked out the door of your antique apartment that probably needs some major maintenance work. Note: I lived in the outer Mission in a full five room house built in 1924 that was always well maintained, but that was back in the early 90’s which was pre-Mission Hipster™ period.

I guess I don’t get Mission Hipsters™ because I’m a Westside Hipster™. Now we can let the hipster gang wars begin. There’s probably an app for that.

[ad#AdBrite]

Work is Coming Back to San Francisco!

I have to say that the past couple of years have been rough. Jobs have been disappearing left and right and it’s hard for me to name a time when I can remember working a 40 hour week. Most of the jobs I’ve had in the last 4 years have been 40 hours a week when I started, but quickly moved down to 20-30 sometimes 15 hours a week.

The bosses at those jobs used to use the trick of telling me I sucked at what I was doing in order to fire me so they wouldn’t have to pay into unemployment, but I won out every time and those companies have all gone out of business.

In the last couple of years I would search for jobs daily and if I was lucky I would find three, maybe four jobs a week. Over the last month though I am beginning to find 30-40 jobs a week and I’m actually getting calls for interviews. I’ve got three interviews scheduled this week plus freelance work that’s come out of nowhere to add more change in my pocket.

I even had an interview today and they actually said that if I was hired they would include health benefits. Now how weird is that for a company in San Francisco? This wasn’t a health insurance plan that was a company of five doctors that you got to choose from, but an actually real big overpriced health insurance company that my prospective employers actually pays part of the premium like they’re supposed to, not tell the government they are, but charge it all to the employee like many have done to me in the past.

Now that fact that I’ve sent out my resume to 120-160 jobs in the last month and I’m still not employed may seem like something wrong with me, but there are lots of people who don’t have jobs and as my wife said to me today, Well, if you don’t get it, that at least means there will be less people in the pool for other jobs you find. I hadn’t thought about that, but I think she’s right.

There are lots of people who have been down and out in San Francisco over the lack of jobs, but now that our new Mayor Ed Lee is extending local tax breaks to businesses [which there are hardly any cities that charge a payroll tax on businesses] it looks like things are turning up for us. San Francisco is a damn expensive place to live in not just with housing, but also with the fact that a trip to the store revealed Oscar Mayer bacon is selling for $8.99 a pound. I don’t want to sound like an old curmudgeon, but I remember 15 years ago when that was $1.99 a pound. Of course back then I was eating rib eye steaks and filet mignon for around $4.99 and I didn’t have to go to Costco to get it.

Good times are ahead for us and don’t let them get you down.