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Posts Tagged 'live'

Carol Doda Has Left The Building

Carol DodaIt was a bit of a sad day when I read that Carol Doda had died. She was one of those people who left her mark on San Francisco in a big way on June 19th, 1964 when she was the first topless go-go dancer in San Francisco. She was 26 years old and probably had no idea how much she would become a fixture in San Francisco for many years to come.

I have to say I’m pretty glad that San Francisco is remembering her at her best. Shen she stopped dancing in the 80’s she opened a lingerie shop in a little back alleyway on Union Street. My girlfriend and I happened to be over there and saw the sign and decided to drop in for the hell of it. There she was, Carol Doda, fully clothed sitting right inside the front door. Geez, the stories she probably could have told then.

She was looking a little rough though. I had only seen some of the pin up photos of her when I was a kid and that’s what I always thought she looked liked, but I could see the lines on her face that told a story all by themselves and I could still see that young girl who was in all the pin ups I had seen. My Dad had one tucked away in his dresser that I’d sneak a look at before I was even ten [BOOBIES!]. I wasn’t even two when she first went on stage topless.

It really sucks when we get old. My Mom always used to read the obituaries and complain that people who died used pictures in their obituaries from when they were young. I don’t know why she didn’t understand it’s a drag getting old for lots of people. In Carol Doda’s case, I’m glad they’re focusing on the young Carol in the photo memories of her. That’s the way she should be remembered and I’m sure the way she would have wanted to be remembered.

Carol wasn’t born in San Francisco, but she made it her home and left a mark on the City. I’m glad San Francisco did it right.

The Lusty Lady Goes Down…

The Lusty LadyWell shoot. Yet another San Francisco institution is coming to an end. A few days before my birthday on September 2nd San Francisco’s first unionized strip club The Lusty Lady will close its doors for good. Being the first worker owned unionized strip club in the United States wasn’t good enough to keep it open. It’s rent has been jacked up to an unaffordable rate now so it’s time to close.

The saddest part when I read about it were some of the comments people had made such as, I went there three times or so, spent two or three quarters each time, and am really glad I did. OK well I’m no accountant, but I think it takes more than three quarters three times to keep the doors of an establishment open. I have to admit that it’s been over 20 years since I last visited The Lusty Lady [which I’m sure my wife has no problem with]. This is probably a good part of where the problem is that caused The Lusty Lady to have to close it’s doors — people weren’t coming and spending money there.

This is a problem with many San Francisco small businesses in that it’s difficult for them to compete. Everyone will probably say how much of a shame it is that The Lusty Lady is closing or any other San Francisco business that closes, but when was the last time they visited the place and actually spent money there. I’ve heard several times people say about small businesses in town that, it’s a nice place, but I don’t think I’d buy anything there. This is a part of the reason why these places end up closing and going away.

Well in the case of The Lusty Lady it was a little more than that. They’re rent way back in the dark ages of 2001 was $5,500 a month. Through a number of rent increases it had been raised to almost $17,000 a month. That’s a serious increase and when you’ve got that much money going to rent a building you don’t own it’s pretty hard to come up with money to make the building you don’t own look better — especially when the landlord doesn’t want to help you out.

It turns out the owner is Roger Forbes who owns most of the strip clubs in San Francisco and he wants to expand the Hustler club to fill the space The Lusty Lady now occupies for a couple more weeks. Oh great. Pull in more frat boys. The Lusty Lady was always a different sort of place. The girls weren’t all airbrushed perfect and blonde like you’d see in Playboy magazine, but built more like regular girls you’d see. OK, maybe regular girls with pink or purple hair, tattoos and piercings, but not all of them were like that. If nothing else The Lusty Lady reminded us that it wasn’t just centerfold models who were naked under those clothes but every woman.

The place was not in the best shape, but I’ve yet to see a strip club that was, especially if you turn the lights up [which would probably make you never go in one again]. It still holds a place in my heart of a part of San Francisco that you would have to do at least once. Too bad once wasn’t enough to keep the doors opened. As one of the girls stated, Why would someone get in their car and drive from Palo Alto or wherever, find parking, to see a naked girl when they can do it from home? Well I’ll tell you why because The Lusty Lady has LIVE nude girls, like right in front of your face. I guess that’s not enough though.

It’s going to close, but if you want to be a part of it one last time, go in, throw in a dollar, say ‘Hi’ to the ladies and give them a good send-off. Maybe Wife will let me make one last visit.

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Live Poultry Banned in San Francisco

Not a big shocker here, but the United Nations Plaza farmer’s market has finally banned the sale of something that has already been against the law to sell in San Francisco—live chickens. What I find odd is that the city has let this go one for some time without having a problem with blatant out in the open violators of the law collecting money.

The chickens being sold are said to be spent hens and roosters that serve no further purpose to the poultry farm they came from and are sold stuffed into a sealed paper or plastic bag and given to the buyer to take home and kill as they please. This is kind of a rock or a hard place argument because there are lots of people against factory farming. I’ll have to say though if I was going to be a domestically raised chicken who had to die to feed other people I’d rather I be killed by trained professional with machines meant to do that than someone trying to wring my neck or slit my throat with a knife that probably isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.

You also have a sanitation issue. San Francisco while not the densest of cities still has a lot of people coming and going and bird feces aren’t something you want introduced into large populations. That’s part of the reason most farms are outside of towns so that you can have a town in the first place.

I’ve talked about Jackson, CA before and I’ll bring it up again because I was a city boy who spent his summers in a country town. It was easy to get to the farms outside of town. It was mostly for produce because the factory meat farms where bringing the meat in cheaper. If we wanted the odd treat every once in awhile Joe Valvo down the street from my Aunt might come by with some goose eggs from the flock of Canadian Geese that occupied his front yard. Joe mostly raised them for their eggs and only ended their lives when they were started to have difficulties and then he’d have goose meat for a few weeks. The problem was that his front yard looked like crap—literally. It also smelled pretty bad on a hot day and when Joe would hose out the front you could see it all running down the street. Now this was from only eight geese that he had. When you compare this having over 1000 factory farmed chickens twice a week in a space that probably the entire population of Jackson travels through in a day and you start to have health problems.

Some people have taken the stance that these are better to eat because fresher is better. These birds are probably worse off than the chicken you buy at the store because as I said earlier, they are spent hens and roosters, not healthy birds. They can’t reproduce or lay eggs so their food supply is cut back so that the more productive birds get what they need to make more money. These are starving and undernourished animals that are probably barely up to the legal standards for McNuggets.

People need to understand that livestock butchering put into the hands of people is not a good thing. Buying live doesn’t mean it’s better quality, in most cases it’s a worse quality bird than the Foster Farms you buy at the store. These birds don’t go through any inspections or testing before being passed on to the public. Luckily there’s only the Raymond Young Poultry company that’s doing this and now he has been relegated to Richmond, CA to sell at their Farmer’s Market twice a month. Below is a piece of footage from the Civic Center Farmer’s Market that shows the pre-bagged chickens being tossed to people. Don’t watch it if you have a weak stomach.

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Where has all the music gone?

San Francisco used to be THE place for live music. We had clubs all over the city that had bands playing their own music, not just house “cover bands” but music that would end up leading them somewhere. We used to have big clubs like Wolfgang’s and the Stone that were the center’s of the metal scene to some smaller clubs like Mabuhay Gardens that was the center for the punk scene. You had bluesy bands like Tommy Castro and Johnny Nitro playing down at some of the bigger bars on Fisherman’s Wharf with the occasional shot at one of the dive bars in North Beach.

Today? What happened? My friend Jimmy Arceneaux shared a video on facebook a few days ago that had me thinking about this. Jimmy was one of the guys who did the booking for the bands that played at the Stone, Keystone Berkeley, One Step Beyond in Oakland and for the life of me I can’t remember the name of the place in San Jose as well. All these places are gone today.

Broadway Street in San Francisco had 5-6 clubs mixed in with all the strip clubs that were running full strength through the 80’s – 90’s and now there’s nothing. There would be other clubs that would pop up for a few weeks or months and then fade away. Why was that?

Well, I can only blame two things. Industrial music and hip hop. Industrial music was kind of like heavy metal with sounds of machinery added in. It was very heavy and raw and at first the bands played live. Then as they go more technologically proficient it became pretty close to impossible to perform live what they did in the studio because the electronic equipment didn’t put on as much of a show as four guys in jeans or spandex and leather depending on which decade you’re looking at. Hip hop was a bit different in that they would record their CD and then do another mix down without the vocals so it was more like karaoke for an established band. The first time I had to do sound for a hip hop band called Aztlan Nation they handed me a cassette tape and told me, “play it”.

I didn’t know what to do so after the first song ended I stopped the tape and one of the guys runs over to me yelling, “just let it play!” OK, that’s an easy job for an engineer to do. Drop in the tape, press play, kick back and drink your beer. I didn’t really have any work to do anymore. The clubs didn’t have to worry about having the right or enough mics for the band. You just hit play and sat back. I think I finally walked off the side of the stage at some point because they didn’t need me anymore.

Eventually, this led to the “dance club” phase where bands had become kind of irrelevant. If you had enough space to pack in people and didn’t need to have a stage or a band to argue with over payment [which was rare] you could just give a DJ $50 to spin some records [remember those black 12″ things and no, I’m not referring to a porn film] and people would still come. It was somewhere in the 90’s that the live music clubs started to close or turn into “dance clubs” where you just had a DJ. Bands now had a tough time to make it.

You could fill out lots of paperwork and throw out some of your hard earned cash to get city permits to play a free gig in the park, but that started to get old quick when bands had to pay money to get people to hear their music. None of the DJ at the clubs played much if any of the unsigned acts at the clubs. Bands that used to play at the bigger clubs like the Stone or Wolfgang’s now were left with playing at very small bars like the Nightbreak on Haight St. and they were lucky to get a free beer for playing.

Live music will never die though. There are starting to be a few places popping back up for the bands to play again. Slim’s has come back from the dead and there’s the Avalon and Thee Parkside, but we still need places for live bands to play that have a capacity of more than 100 people. If you find some places other than little dive bars let me know because a lot of the old bands are coming back and there are new bands popping up that need a place to play.

So now I want all of you to step away from your computers on Friday and Saturday nights and go out and find some good live music and post comments about it here. Any upcoming shows you think people should know about, let me know and I’ll let everyone who reads this know about them.

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