EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 Roll | Baghdad By The Bay

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Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Going On

Downtown NapaYes, I woke up a 3:20am this morning to feel my house shaking quite a bit. To all the newcomers to San Francisco, welcome. You’ve just felt your first big earthquake.

Centered in American Canyon near Napa that is where the most damage was. So far I’ve read that there were about 70 people injured mostly near the epicenter of the quake. That wasn’t too bad. During the 1989 Loma Prieta quake that registered 6.9 [or some people still argue it was 7.1] 63 people died, but over 3700 people were injured. The 1906 was estimated at being around 7.8. The recent American Canyon quake people are saying was between 5.7-6.1.

I don’t remember the last time I felt an earthquake in SF other than the Loma Prieta, but we used to get them more frequently than we do now. They used to be so frequent that people tended to ignore them most of the time [see the video at the end. That’s the way most San Franciscan’s handled an earthquake even though it’s a clip from the movie L.A. Story].

Earthquake preparedness wasn’t a big thing before the Loma Prieta. The earthquakes just weren’t that big before then and there were never any after effects. I woke up this morning to feel my house shaking in an East West direction. The first thing I realized is that this was a longer than normal quake because I actually had the time to think about what direction the shaking was happening in. I heard the doors that were closed rattling and after I realized we were having an earthquake I made sure my wife was awake. We learned a few years ago during our NERT training that running for a doorway isn’t the best thing to do. Get up against a wall because if the building falls down being next to a wall is the best place to be because if the roof falls it will most likely break at an angle giving you the most room and air to breath next to a wall.

I of course made sure my wife was against the wall and then did the dumb thing — I started to run to get near our daughter. Her room is upstairs and being seven and autistic this might not go over well with her. Luckily by the time I got to the stairs the quake was over and my daughter had slept through it.

I did a quick check and saw that LED’s on some of our electrical gear was still on so I knew we hadn’t lost power. I grabbed my phone  as soon as the quake started and realized that my iPhone with the built in flashlight was probably a good thing to have next to the bed for just such an occurrence. I hadn’t heard anything fall over so I started to calm down and checked twitter and Facebook to see what my friends felt. San Francisco is fine, Napa looks like it’s pretty trashed right now.

OK, it was near American Canyon so we were away from the epicenter which was good. All of my friends in SF were fine so now it was time to calm down and go back to bed. The biggest problem after an earthquake is the rush you get that when you’re lying down trying to fall back asleep that makes everything feel like its still moving. While the quake lasted maybe 30 seconds or so [The NSGS never tells you how long a quake lasts only how big it was.] I still felt like the house was mildly shaking for about five minutes afterwards. I managed to get back to sleep and woke up this morning to see what everyone else was saying. There’s a kind of dark humor that pops up after a disaster, especially if you’re on the edge of it. I actually had to add to it with the following tweet that’s starting to go viral:

Dark Humor

Other’s are showing how tough they are by bragging that they were in the 1989 quake and this was nothing. While that’s true, I think the people in Napa might disagree with you. Earthquakes are pretty scary to say the least. We generally have a lot less damage than a hurricane or tornado though and the big ones only have once every 20 or so years. We’re pretty lucky overall. Now let’s see if people start leaving San Francisco since I did predict about a year ago that the only thing that would get people to move out would be an earthquake…

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Outsidelands Travel Tips

OutsideLandsSince I’ve got a broken ankle I can’t do too much so I was checking out the prices last night after OutsideLands finished for taking a ride with the various TNC’s as an alternative to cab rides or muni. It was pretty shocking.

I drive for Sidecar and was able to drive last year and it was pretty busy. Most of the rides were short because people would park a few blocks away and walk to the concert. Most of my trips were for around $8-$10. This year it was different. A lot different.

I started checking prices around 9:30pm on Uber and Sidecar [Lyft doesn’t give estimates, but I had heard they were charging 25% Prime Time Tips on top of their ride fee]. Here’s what I found. I live a little over a mile from OutsideLands and was curious what a ride would cost me to get home from there:

Uber: $40 [estimate]

Sidecar: $6 [real price]

WTF?!?!?!

Yes, Uber has what is known as surge pricing. If Uber thinks there is going to be a high demand they will charge more to get more drivers out there. It’s actually the opposite of the supply and demand idea. When a lot of people want a product the price goes down to move more product. Uber is a service though, so when demand goes up so does the price. The biggest problem is that Uber isn’t the only game in town as much as they’d like to think.

Sidecar has a policy where driver’s can set their own prices, but new drivers are set up so that their first 25 rides will be forced to the minimum of $5 and base multiplier of 1.0. This doesn’t mean all rides will be $5, but they will be cheaper. This pricing makes regular Sidecar drivers stay competitive with the new drivers and not seriously overcharging for the service. It’s kind of an odd way of doing business, but it seems to work out better so far for the riders.

Another odd thing was that if you tried to get an Uber car at 9:30 on the Richmond side of Golden Gate Park it was surging at 5.0x, but if you walked a little bit to the Sunset side to get an Uber car it was at 2.0x. That’s over half the price. Here’s where it gets a little weird. Richmond side Uber to Russian Hill [a friend of mine asked me this question] $75. Sunset side Uber to Russian Hill $50. Yes, you could save $25 and take a longer ride just by walking the equivalent of a couple of blocks.

My advice to people looking for an alternative to the overburdened Muni to get too and from OutsideLands is that if you’re going to take Uber go to the Sunset [south] side of Golden Gate Park to request a ride, or just look for Sidecar which will save you the most money. It won’t guarantee you a $6, but it will definitely be a lot cheaper than Uber or Lyft.

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That Other San Francisco Bread

Dutch Crunch RollWhen you mention bread and San Francisco everyone says sourdough. It’s become so associated with San Francisco that no one thinks you can make it anywhere else. You can actually. Sourdough can be made anywhere in the world, but unless it’s made in San Francisco it doesn’t have the correct culture in it that gives it that taste.

A funny thing happened to me today. Wife asked me about a certain type of bread that our daughter now loves. She asked me, what makes the crunch on a Dutch Crunch roll? I never had them before I came here. Well that sparked me to search for the history of the Dutch Crunch Roll after looking up what made the crunch [note: it’s a very loose rice flour yeast dough].

As it turns out the bread was originally made in the Netherlands where it is called Tijgerbrood or Tiger Bread. Apparently someone at the Galli Sanitary Bakery made and sold some back in 1909 and called it Dutch Crunch Bread and that was the end of it until around the 60’s or 70’s when the now defunct Parisian Bakery started to make Dutch Crunch Rolls. For some strange reason then never ventured outside of the Bay Area and barely left San Francisco, but having to take the back seat to sourdough bread left a lot of people not having any idea that you could only find it in the Bay Area.

I remember starting to get it  around the 80’s so it even took time for the locals to know what it was. I had gone to get a sandwich somewhere and they asked if I wanted it on sourdough or Dutch Crunch. Me being the purist type that I am and thinking that sourdough with anything other than butter is a bit of heresy said, Dutch Crunch. There really isn’t that much special about a Dutch Crunch Roll at first. It’s like white bread in a roll with a crunchy topping and that is really the ultimate simplicity of it that makes it so wonderful for sandwiches.

When you make a sandwich on sliced white bread your fingers compress it into something makes the whole sandwich feel like deli meat wrapped in dough. It’s not a very good sandwich feeling. To this day I can only eat peanut butter and jelly or Bologna and American Cheese on white bread [the more overly processed the better]. If you’re using a sourdough or French roll for a sandwich there are all those big nooks and crannies that everyone likes that really suck if you like mustard or mayo on a sandwich. Enter the Dutch Crunch Roll — it’s white bread — in a roll. It doesn’t turn back to dough when you squeeze it because of the crunchy topping and doesn’t give you pockets to fill with mustard and/or mayo to explode into your mouth or squirt out on your shirt. It is the perfect vehicle for meat and cheese and anything else you put on your sandwich.

I’m sure I could find an architect who could give a dissertation on the construction of the roll extolling the virtues of the hard, crunchy exoskeleton of the roll properly supports the soft, spongy interior that both cradles and grips onto the sandwich ingredients to keep them from fighting their way out of the bread as you eat your sandwich, but I think I’ve done good enough in my last few sentences. While you can make a Dutch Crunch Roll anywhere in the world, for some reason no one’s ever thought of it outside of San Francisco and the Netherlands [though I hear the U.K. is giving it a go now.]

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Baghdad By The Bay Meetup in the works

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile and I finally broached the topic on Twitter yesterday and was surprised by the response. I’m getting a large amount of people in San Francisco and beyond who read this website and I’ve finally decided to get out of the house and meet up with some of my “foreign corespondents” in San Francisco. That is the other bloggers, citizens, fans, readers and even the haters of this website.

Since I’m a Sunset redneck, it only made sense that I have the meet up in a suitable Sunset establishment. Also since I want to give some of the people from out of town a chance to prepare I’m going to not try a flash mob type of thing with a meet up tonight @ Uncle Fucker’s Chuckle Hut! but actually give you a few months warning. I like to plan ahead and I want to find a place that can handle the people who will come. Judging from last night’s twitter replies of over thirty people I suspect I will get a good amount of people to show up so I’ll actually have to approach a place and tell them what I’m doing. First stop will be the Blackthorn Tavern @ 9th and Irving because not only do they serve Boddington’s beer, Magner’s Cider, and have a DJ, but on Sunday’s they also have a BBQ going.

I’m thinking sometime during the San Francisco summer which falls right after the rest of the world’s summer meaning September. We should have good weather then and that’s the month of my birthday so what better excuse to stage a party. So I’ll be visiting the venerable Blackthorn Tavern in the next few days to discuss with them having a meet up there and see what they say. I want to see all the local blogger’s, politicians, scoutmobbers, miscreants and hipsters from all over the city to come to this event so make sure to mark your calendars for sometime in September for this get together.

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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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