No Proscenium

Your Guide To Immersive Events & Adventures

The Guide To Immersive Entertainment

It’s the experience, stupid.

I had one of those conversations yesterday that started in one place and then careened all over creation. The kind of conversation I pretty much live for. During the course of it I was asked about why some writers on film were asking about whether or not VOD was going to be the death of the film festival.

My stab at an answer was this: those writers are focused on film as a product, while the value of a festival lies in the event as an experience.

The former is an easy position to hold, given how consumer-centric the film industry, and indeed our whole culture is. Yet the monetary value of any cultural product is completely dependent on the subjective experience of the audience.

Festivals, when viewed through a reptilian lens, are ineffcient and stupid. Why only so many screenings? Why make all these people travel somewhere in a day and age when they can just screen something at home?

Because a film festival is more than just a container for watching movies. The same way that a music festival is more than just a flesh & blood iTunes interface. Even a half-way decent festival is an additive, social experience that reorients the participant out of their day to day life and opens them up to new voices.

The difference between the mood of a festival, where you’re open to possibilities and hopefully a little more forgiving of rough edges, is a hell of a lot different from summoning up a shopping list of entertainment.

Weird Synchronicities

Synchronicity is a term Carl Jung championed to describe those uncanny moments that—while they could be dismissed as rather unlikely coincidences—create the perception that there is a hidden order to the Universe.

The rationalist part of my brain tells me that synchronicities are just a poetic illusion: a useful fiction that gives meaning to a chaotic world. It’s perfectly fine to lean into synchronicities even if they aren’t “real” so long as you know that you’re doing exactly that.

The mystic part of my brain, which is buried down under the rational thought tells the rational part that it is an arrogant idiot and it needs to shut the fuck up.

They fight crime.

Anyway, this is a story about how I’ve been riding a synchronicity wave this week, when I became aware of it, and when it turned dark.

I’ve been feeling good this week. Not riding a high good, but an in the flow good. Fear hasn’t been ruling me, and I’ve been spending my emotional capital wisely while avoiding crash-and-burn binge eating somehow. On Wednesday night I became conscious of a synchronicity web while sitting in my car at Vons after this month’s edition of the storytelling show Public School.

The Cranberries’ Zombie came on the radio, with it’s chorus of “in your heeeeeeaaaaaaaddddd” and I flashed on how Stephen Falk, creator of You’re The Worst (it’s a fun show) and one of the Public School producers, told me that he was trying to keep thirteen stories in his head. Then I flashed on how I had put an article about computer modeling of zombie outbreaks that some virologists had done, in order to make a wonkier bit of their field more fun, on my phone right before the show.

“In my head” to “in your head” to “zombies.”

A little, fun, synchronicity wave. I noted it, and took it as a sign that I was in a flow state of one kind or another. The main thing you never want to do is interrogate flow states that are working, that’s a surefire ticket to trouble town.

Flash forward to yesterday.

I’m on a call with my co-workers while I’m at the apartment. As I sometimes do during a call I get up and walk around the house and find stuff to do with my hands. It’s easier for me to stay focused on what disembodied voices are saying if my hands have something to keep them occupied.

I find myself over at the bookshelf where I have the Transformers/Star Wars mash-up of the Millennium Falcon half-way between ship and robot forms. I pop off the arm of the Chewbacca bot get it situated and pop it back on. Then I start twisting the Han Solo half into shape. Yes, for those of you who don’t know, the Millennium Falcon Transformer is technically a Combiner.

The toy is old, and the design was never that great to begin with, so there’s a lot of popping off of parts and twisting them back on in order to get the Han robot standing. One of his legs is wonky, so I have to pitch it at an angle.

The last time I played with the Han-bot I had wedged the Han mini-figure into the chest cavity, Matrix of Leadership style. Since I had just put the Chewie mini-fig on the shoulder of the Chewie robot, in the manner of a heroic Mecha pilot, I wanted to to the same with Han.

I flipped open the chest cockpit and started to pull the little Harrison Ford doll—it’s about half the length of an adult pinky finger—out of there. It got stuck. I applied a little force, and the flipping head came off.

I got it out of there and tried to reattach the head, but this wasn’t a pop-off situation. This was a break. Ugh. The toy is out of print, so they’ll be no replacing the smuggler this time.

Instead of getting upset—I am on the call still—I artfully arrange the figure, snap off a few photos, and post to Instagram with the caption “Inform Princess Leia there’s been an accident.”

All this—mind you—while I’m holding a conversation about podcast strategy and giving fairly detailed explanations of a proposed production process.

The call ends, I check the social media accounts I’m responsible for, and life is back to normal. I’m checking one of those accounts when I see the news that Harrison Ford had crashed his plane on a golf course. At that moment I completely forget about the figure and the photos and go into “must learn what the fuck is going on mode”.

It’s only a half-hour later that I remember what happened at the cave…uh, I mean at the bookshelf. The photo is up and I’m thinking “Crap, I don’t want people to think I was being a jackass.” This is Harrison, and given that we just lost Leonard Nimoy I’m already emotional about that generation of actors this week.

I check the timestamp on the Instagram and the timestamp on the Variety and TMZ articles. TMZ, naturally, was the earlier one—even though Variety was the one I saw first.

The photo hit Instagram one minute before the TMZ article broke.

Which means that my little Han Solo was getting decapitated some time in the gap between Harrison’s plane going down and the outside world having any idea what happened. For all I know it went down while I was yanking the Falcon apart.

I recalled then the previous night’s awareness of a synchronicity wave.

Too weird.

Look: there are times when I’ve been a True Believer and times I’ve been convinced that the universe is nothing but cold deterministic machinery that we have no impact on whatsoever. I’m not sure which model is right. I know that I pulled off a few good slight-of-mind tricks back in the day that made me a better, or at least a more interesting, person. I also know that walking away from that slight-of-mind made the effects go away too.

Now it’s easy to dismiss this as raw coincidence, and if you are inclined to do so I believe that you should. Just walk away. You gain nothing by arguing the point. Stay true to your heart as you will. (You also won’t be doing me any favors by arguing rationality at me, as I pointed out above, I’m already of two minds about the subject. I also react to negatively framed arguments the way a 14-year old who is on a industrial-punk music tear reacts to their parents telling them what not to do or think: i.e. not well.)

Jung, however, was obsessed with these kinds of moments and I wonder what he would make of this disturbance in the Force.

The Dress, or You're Probably Missing The Point of Yesterday

I’m disappointed in a lot of you.

No, not the ones of you who spent yesterday chasing llamas and arguing about whether the dress was white and gold or blue and black.

I’m disappointed in those of you—especially the storytellers and designers amongst you—who declared that they thought the dress thing was stupid.

The dress debate was amazing. It was—and is, for those parts of Facebook that are just discovering it now—an incredible illustration of the limits of human perception. Who would have thought that a badly white-balanced photo could cause such consternation?

The science behind why some of us saw white/gold and some saw blue/black is fascinating. The reason why some of us—like myself—started off white/gold and changed is maybe even moreso.

Because what we saw with debates around The Dress was a microcosm of how our society works. This perceptual problem is reflected in every political debate we have: from Patricia Arquette’s Oscar comments to the climate change debate on the floor of the Senate.

Our brains are always working overtime trying to make sense of the information out there in the world. When ambiguous information comes in our dutiful guardian takes its best shot at assessing the true state of the facts based on context and past experience.

What was really amazing to see was how worked up everyone got when someone corrected their perception. I know I felt that tug too. For a while I thought all Blue/Black people were crazy, and that we should round them up. Luckily I fought that impulse and pushed through. Not so that I could see Blue/Black, but because I wanted to know what was really going on.

Seeing the other photo of the dress certainly helped clear up what was going on.

That other photo is a perfect metaphor: I had to seek another perspective—literally—in order to make sense of what was happening.

If it can take that much effort to perceive the fundamental reality underneath a simple (accidental) optical illusion why does anyone think that something as complex as racism, gender equality, or climate change can be easily understood?

There were so many of people shouting online yesterday—and admittedly a lot of that could have been joking, I hope it was—at the people who saw things the other way. As if shouting one’s position was enough to get people to see the world differently.

That’s the real joke that’s on us.

And it’s why I’m disappointed in my storyteller’s and designers who are dismissing this or just seeing it from a technical standpoint. The lesson of The Dress isn’t just about how we see things, or fail to see things, it’s about how perceptions shape our actions which then spill out and create the world we live in.

We have a tool to illustrate that now, and that gives me a kind of hope for the world I haven’t felt in a long, long time.

The Designated Asker

After Tweeting a version of this earlier today I saw a friend get into a Twitter battle with a fully armed and operational Twitter pundit. It wasn't pretty. It made me think about Jon Ronson's upcoming book about shame, that's how not pretty it was. The Left does a great job of eating itself while Rome burns. That's dumb.

The Internet needs a Dedicated Asker whose job it is to ask the people the Internet is upset with what they meant by what they just said.

Like that would be the whole job.

CAN YOU BELIEVE WHAT SO AND SO JUST SAID!?!?

If what they said wasn’t what they really meant the proper response on their part would be to say “I’m sorry. I let my mouth run. That was dumb.”

And then the Asker would say: “We understand, that happens to us too, doesn’t it Internet?”

And then The Internet kicks a rock and kinda twists in place and mutters “Yeah.”

And then the Asker asks: “WHO WANTS ICE CREAM?”

And we all get ice cream. Even vegan and lactose free ice cream for those who need it.

Look: we either find a way to live together as a family or our species is going to be extinct in a few generations.

Did Patricia Arquette stick her foot in her mouth while she was calling for solidarity or does she think that people of color and the LBGTQ community owes something to women as a political block? Has anyone asked her yet? Has anyone thought to ask her?

All I know is that in this country women aren't paid an equal amount for the same work that men do, and as an added bonus they get to live in fear of being raped. That LBGTQ folks are targets for all kinds of abuse, from broad hate campaigns to bullying that leads to suicide. That Black men are incarcerated at disgusting rate while Black women get even fewer opportunities than White women. That Latinos staff some of the shittiest jobs in this country, do damn good work we all benefit from, and get demonized by political opportunists. And no, that doesn't cover everybody. This is a paragraph, not the phone book.

Oh, and that Sean Penn is a dick who tries to make up for it by doing charity work, but come on now, dude. We're all over you.

If we-- the Left-- are ever going to get out from under the boot heel of the likes of the Koch brothers we're going to have to learn to forgive each other our stupidity and strive to understand before standing up to scold. Otherwise we might as well pack it in and build some coal power plants because Humanity is done for.

This isn't written with the intent to make the scolders feel bad. Two scolds don't make it right. This is a fucking plea for change, because a house divided cannot stand.

Everyone Talks, No One Listens

If I had to describe The Internet I’d say it was a place where everyone talks, no one listens.

This is unfair, of course, there’s plenty of people who listen on here. Hell, there are plenty of people who don’t talk at all. They just seethe in silence. Or Retweet. Or Fave. Or Like. Or some other Bastardized Capitalized Verb. Mega Dittos Rush.

The thing is that, as a reflection of the dumb way in which humanity is wired, The Internet doesn’t reward true listening all that much. It rewards wordplay, bon mots, and other verbal delicacies that fit nicely into the filter set of whatever clique has sway at the moment.

It loves terminology. Especially the kind that acts as a shibboleth between different cultural groups, be they separated by age, gender, ethnic identity or in a lesser form fandom. It is, after all, a hell of a lot easier to get on with surfing the net when you don’t have to stop down and consider the meaning of words being used in an unfamiliar context.

Even as someone who is wired to find that pleasurable I can readily admit that it isn’t always enjoyable. When I fall into a funk—and this world makes sure that happens a lot—it’s tough to care enough to take the effort to understand.

I wonder sometimes if that’s how we’re all being kept in check. That the powers that be know enough about human psychology to set up the system just so, and thus stay in power by keeping us all squabbling around on the lower decks. Then I laugh: that’s giving people too much credit. Life is irreducibly complex, and every model we’ve ever made of reality has fallen apart or will before the end of days.

Y'all Need To Lay Off Yeezy

I don't need y'all to love Kanye West, but damn if the vitriol towards his performance on SNL 40 and the reaction to his totally overblown reaction to the Grammys have not themselves been totally overblown.

Take the SNL 40 bit: so many people called it pretentious and too arty. I watched it: it was no weirder than what would have happened if the musical guest was Bjork. Besides: it was an SNL special. It needed at least one musical guest to do something avant guarde as much as it needed overlong sketches that ran out of gas after two minutes.

Tradition, yo.

I get that a lot of you don't get Kanye. That's okay. Can't have everyone liking everything all the time. But when I hear that dude go off I hear a soul that feels pain the way I feel pain, and who doesn't stay quiet about it the way I stay quiet about it.

So I have this weird protectiveness about Yeezy. I know his heart’s always in the right place even when his head is where it shouldn’t be.

Because remember that dude straight up said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” while he was standing next to Mike Myers on the Katrina telethon… and years later he let himself be a punchline in a Wayne’s World sketch.

Keep feeling the big feels Mr. West. We got you.

So Long Morning Matter, Hello Brain Warmer

I’ve been doing this “Morning Matter” blogging more or less every day (I mean that in the 51% sense of more or less) for the better part of a year now.

There are times when I definitely just write something for the sake of saying that I’ve done it and then move on to whatever non-writing tasks I have to do for the day. The more often this is the case, the more that feels like I’m missing the point.

Look: I’m not just a writer. Which is not me trying to diminish the profession, it’s just that writing isn’t the only duty I have. There are times when I wish it was that simple. So I feel like sitting down first thing to hack out some words and get the writer-sap flowing, only to walk away, just really defeats the purpose of doing this at all.

It’s like sitting down to try and meditate for a set period of time only to have the quality of the sit be shit. The point is to be present not to say you did something, the value of regularity and discipline notwithstanding.

Recently I refocused my meditation on the feelings involved. To push myself past the verbal parts of my brain and just get into simple, gentle awareness. Sometimes it even works.

The writing practice is the exact opposite of that practice: the sword to meditation’s shield. I don’t see a point in sitting down to write this if I’m not going to then chain forward and work on the bigger writing problems right then and there.

But I know I need a practice, and thus the Brain Warmer is born. The same kind of rambling, only it will take place when I’m finally sitting down and tuning out the rest of the world.

I wonder why I didn’t think of this sooner.

Anyway: carry on.

Calendar Magick

A part of me feels silly for what I just did: I bought a pass to the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim in the middle of April.

I feel silly because even though I've always wanted to go to one of these things--they've usually been in far off places like Florida--I also don't really like conventions. I almost loathe them.

But the thing is, I have to have things on my calendar that I'm looking forward to. All the time. Or at least every month. Not just project stuff: that's needed to keep my very active brain focused... no, I need to know when there's at least even odds on some joy out there in the future.

Without that, I just become a Funkosaurus Rex... and not the good kind of funk.

I Do This Thing...

When I'm out in the world and talking with people--and it can be good friends or total strangers--I'll often do this thing where I'll pause on a word, and then find myself looking up and to the right as I try and draw down the language that I think they'll understand.

It drives me a little nuts to not have just a ceaseless verbal flow, and this is a tick that I've developed in the past decade. I used to just spit verbiage at maximum speed. If you get me drunk enough I still will.

Yet the world has hammered that habit out of me because I've become very aware that while I'm ultra-mega-comfortable slipping from context to context and code-switching my way through cultural shibboleths and technical jargon alike regular folk aren’t so down with that.

We don’t have a singular social dynamic anymore. It’s one of the reasons why people “don’t get the joke” on Twitter and firestorms emerge. Understanding-—whether it be of humor, wisdom or just technical details—requires some common ground.

I’m hoping to get rid of this tick somehow. Maybe through rigorous meditation so that I achieve something closer to non-dual awareness. Maybe by just running out of fucks to give and letting people play catch-up. That latter option is real appealing at this very moment.

The thing is, however, that there is a very real need to do all the code-switching. I just wish there was some way to instal a better transmission in my head, so that I didn’t feel like I was always getting stuck in neutral.

When The Whole World Is The Stage...

One of my favorite writers, Jon Ronson, has a new book coming out this year. It’s about the culture of shame that has arisen on the Internet. An excerpt was published this week at The New York Times and a couple of months back Ronson read a chapter at Pop Up Magazine’s first foray into Los Angeles.

I’ve been thinking about the book since that night, over and over. In the excerpt he read he talked to the people involved in the infamous “dongle” incident at a tech conference a few of years ago. You might remember it, if you don’t Google “dongle incident” and click on the first link. That should job the memory (or read the NYT excerpt, which skims over the details).

The take-away is that someone said something dumb and juvenile and someone else took offense because they saw it as indicative of a culture of oppression. Both interpretations are perfectly sound depending on where you are reasoning from, and the underlying problem is that there isn’t a fundamental reference point that everyone involved truly agrees on.

Which pretty much sounds like the goddamn Internet every damn day… which is itself a reflection of the billions of people who are connecting on this thing all the damn time.

Every time I turn around I see people getting into arguments because either an author is piss poor at code switching or a reader pops in without the requisite frame of reference and starts talking trash.

At one point I was going to write a version of this that put the onus on writers to “know your audience” and kowtow to the fact that anywhere on the Internet is an open air market. You can’t really control who is going to see what you make, and you certainly can’t control what paradigm they are bringing along for the ride.

But I don’t want to let readers, the audience, whoever, off the hook here. Because I know that I feel a responsibility whenever I read—or watch, or otherwise take in—a piece of work to try and understand what the creator of that work is trying to say. It’s actually one of the reasons I can’t expose myself to Ann Coulter or Fox News for too long, because that way of thinking starts camping out in my head and then my whole body wants to puke itself out…but I digress.

Understanding is a two way street.

Authors: know who your target audience is but also know that out here there is no controlling when people are going to drop in out of the sky and have no fucking clue what’s going on—and yet still feel entitled to raise up a mob to destroy you.

Readers: don’t be lazy. Try and honestly grok what’s being said to you. Try and figure out where someone is coming from. It might be ugly, and you might find out that the person you’ve just bothered to understand is some kind of monster/14-year-old boy with too much free time.

My mom always taught me when dealing with other people to “consider the source.” It was her way of reminding me that everyone has an opinion, but not everyone’s opinion is worth heeding, but there’s something even more subtle true underneath the statement. What’s true for that “source” might not be true for you, but it let’s you know how your truth is perceived in their world. And if you know how someone perceives you, you then have power over that perception.

Or something like that. I’ve only had one cup of coffee so far today and my right index finger is already giving me little shooting pains. Ta!

V.I.L.E.

There are times when it's just too much to engage with the news.

We've been getting that a lot this year already.

What happened near UNC Chapel Hill makes me sick.

There's also some "irrationality of rationalization" impatience that happend on Twitter last night about mainstream news coverage. What matters now is that this story stays in the news.

Also: it's entirely possible that the parking dispute and racist anti-theist beliefs contributed to the murders. Sick bastards who murder people because they are different use all kinds of petty excuses see: all of human history.

The worst part: these kids seemed like they were more than decent people, they appear to have been saints on earth.

We liberals sometimes pooh-pooh the idea of seeing the world in anything but shades of grey... but when you look at something like this it's not just easy to see in terms of good and evil, it's helpful. The kinds of people who set up humanitarian efforts half a world away while they are in college? Good. The kind of person that would kill someone because of a belief system/parking spot? Evil.

E.V.I.L.

Extremely Vile Individual Loser.

Exceptionally Vicious Indefensible Locust.

'Last Week Tonight': How Fake Is The Fake News?

I really dug last year's crop of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver episodes. The idea of tweaking The Daily Show format into something that would tackle one big issue a week appealed to both my political sensibilities and my dramatically short Gen X attention span.

During the "off season," however, some serious doubt about the fake news crept in.

Every couple of weeks John Oliver would pop up on YouTube with a segment that responded to the news of the week: accompanied by the sounds of laughter from the studio audience.

But why would there be a studio audience for a two minute Youtube video…oh. It wasn’t a studio audience. It was a laugh track. It had to be a laugh track, and as I listened closely and watched those segments for a second time I would be shocked to learn that it wasn’t: because the cadence of the laughter sounds canned. That disappointed me. I understand why laugh tracks get used, but for this brand of comedy a laugh track just feels—well disingenuous is too generous: it feels like a fucking lie.

That’s right Mr. Oliver, it feels like you’re shitting on the hand that feeds you. Or some other hyperbolic statement I should shout at the image box in the upper left hand side of the screen. Repeatedly. #Donteatfromthathand.

So I watched last night’s episode with my ears dialed in to the laughter and my eyes peeled for a glimpse of the studio audience. I’ll admit that I can’t tell from the laughter if it was canned or not… but the distinct lack of a camera angle on a studio audience left me with a cold feeling. So too did the video footage dredged up from 2010 which was being used to make a case about the current state of the pharmaceutical industry.

Look: this wouldn’t matter if Oliver’s show wasn’t a hit and it wasn’t treated as the political marching orders for the blogging set. I think it’s great that satire is being used so surgically in a time when we clearly need to take a long, jaundiced look at how our society functions.

It’s just weird to think that Last Week Tonight is a total illusion, and now that I’ve gotten a glimpse behind the curtain I can’t settle into the arguments that Oliver makes each week.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there is a studio audience. Maybe I missed something last night? I hope I’m wrong. I’d like to go back to enjoying the show.

Sometimes The Circuits Are Just Broken

This happens all the time: I'll get to the end of a week--or the middle--and my motavation will just go kaput. It doesn't even matter which things I'm workign on...well that's not entirely true. There are plenty of things that carry enthusiasm within them, but there are others that have enough of an emotional cost while in process that they aren't exactly renewable resources.

This process colors the whole damn world.

On The Care and Feeding of Trolls

Last night my friend Natasha talked about her recent experience of getting swarmed by Reddit. She did that one stage as part of the monthly Public School storytelling show that we put on, but it wasn’t a planned story as much as it was one of the little asides that the hosts do between the other storytellers.

She spoke honestly about how much it sent her into a spin… and then how she realized it was pretty much just 14-year old boys who were doing this.

The problem with things like Reddit mobs and the GamerGate horde is that they give cover and encouragement to deeply mentally ill people who are capable of hurting others. It feels lately like were are very close to an another incident where “internet hate” turns into a bloodbath.

Yet I can’t help but feel that our responses to this behavior, on the whole, are all wrong. It might be better if we were treating this like a mental health issue and attempting to deploy resources to pull the perpetrators of online harassment out of whatever dark spirals they’re in.

I know that it is necessary to publicize the dire threats that are being made when law enforcement doesn’t take them seriously. I also know that the attention that comes from that publicity only feeds the fire: it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Scorn hasn’t seemed to do much to diffuse these guys, as scorn just fuels righteousness. Pity, however, is never sexy, and is a tactic worth exploring. Because face it: this shit is just sad.

Unavoidable Conversations

It’s tempting to say that the current “debate” over vaccines is ridiculous, because one side is repping Science and the other side has a paradigm based on what can charitably be called “animal fear,” but there’s far more going on than “dumb people versus the rest of us.”

There’s a larger conversation about the social contract and individual liberties, and how clinging to absolutest sensibilities is throughly dehumanizing.

Attendant to that conversation are some about how we interact with people who hold wildly different worldview from our own. How to hold conversations that are respectful and—hopefully—persuasive as opposed to just playing for the choir and scoring brownie points with your own team.

Because that’s the shit that has gotten us into this mess.

I blame Bill Mahler: remember that he’s the one who cursed us with Ann Coulter as part of his effort to entertain with political debate.

American Democracy: Why Not A Block Party?

There was a piece from Zocalo Public Square last week that talked about LA's problem with voter turnout. The take-away: LA pretty much concedes control of state politics to the Bay Area thanks to anemic voter turnout.

The LA County registrar is always on the lookout for ways to goose the turnout, and has a reputation for thinking outside the box, as they say. Anything that moves the needle. One of the ideas has been to move poling places out of traditional locations and find voters where they already are: stores and the like.

The article’s author suggests that we turn all of LA into an experiment in voter turnout, trying different tactics in different communities. The title of the piece is “Let’s Put Voting Machines in In-N-Out Burger,” so you get where he is coming from and going to.

I can roll with the general logic, and maker knows that there is so much that can be done. But I think there is an intermediary step that Joe Mathews overlooks in his piece: use the now iconic LA Food Trucks to draw voters to the polls. Hell, get some specials or even free food going if you show off your ballot receipt.

That thought led to another: why don’t we start treating our democracy like a giant block party? We, as Americans, get so damn tense about politics, and then we make voting this nasty chore. I’ve always been one of those people that think it should be a national holiday…but we should go all out with it.

Poling places should be where we get to gather and talk it out. Eat some free food. Drink some free beer. All you have to do to get the goodies is VOTE. No need for a lotto, as some suggest. Hell, no need to mingle: just take those Kogi tacos to go, man. Why should it be the political parties that have all the fun? Why should it be the Koch Bros. and other Richie Riches who get to throw election night bashes?

If we’re going to tear out hair out every two years over the stupid crap our neighbors make us put up with we should at least have the chance to break bread with them so that we can get some sense as to why they are torturing us so. Even if the answer is “that guy’s a crazy anti-vaxxer inside job dude.”

If nothing else, at least we’d have free tacos on a Tuesday.

San Francisco: How Lame Can It Get?

So I just saw word that Borderlands, the science ficiton bookstore that has been a fixture in the Mission since 1997, is going to close.

The reason for the closure is that the store knows it can't keep pace with The City's new minimum wage law. A law that I support, by the way, but one that prices business with margins squeezed tight by the likes of Amazon right out of San Francisco.

The last time I went to The Mission is was ridiculous: just about every residential building across from Dolores Park was undergoing a major retrofit. I could easily imagine that they were all being turned into the private mansions of on-paper millionaires...or AirBnB palaces. Or, you know, both.

The thought of The Mission without the bookstore part of Borderlands--the cafe will stick around to the end of the year but the bookstore will call it quits by the end of March--is just too much to bear.

How long until Modern Times folds? Till Dog Eared crumbles to dust? And don't give me none of the "cities change" crap. A city without bookstores is just a suburb with an inflated ego.