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film, music, text, city, spectacle, pleasure

Coffee and Books in San Francisco’s Mission District – the perfect job?


Borderlands Cafe, the (somewhat) newly minted accompaniment to San Francisco’s best science fiction and fantasy bookstore, Borderlands Books, is hiring:

We have an unusual job opening at Borderlands Cafe.  It’s not glamorous, but it would be great for a local high schooler or a nearby person with a flexible schedule.  The hours would be 7 pm – 9 pm, Monday – Friday, and the job would include cleaning, busing tables, and doing the closedown work at the Cafe.  Considering how short the hours are, the person really should live quite close to the cafe.  Pay is SF minimum wage, but you get to work with a great group of people and you get a discount at the bookstore!  Email for more information before sending a resume.

I’ve spent a lot of time there, and I can personally attest to the greatness of the people.  This job is a lot like the first job I had—at a game store—but with the addition of COFFEE!  So, totally awesome and vastly superior—possibly the perfect first job for a high schooler who lives in the area.

You can see that I am not alone in loving the cafe by checking out their Yelp page. (I love it just slightly less since they removed the couches up front, and have never been 100% reconciled to their no -WiFi policy, but I understand and support the reasoning behind both decisions.)


Filed under: Coffee, San Francisco, , ,

Furniture made from Golden Gate Bridge steel

If you are not a native San Franciscan, perhaps this won’t seem that special to you, but for me I find myself lusting after furniture in a way I haven’t done since I discovered the work of the Eames Brothers.

You remember that passage in Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon when one of the characters is writing about Gomer Bolstrood furniture and his wife’s erotic fixation on heirloom furniture? Like that.

Golden Gate Bridge Furniture Co.

Filed under: Feel Good, San Francisco, , , ,

Dynamo Donut Envy



You’ll  just have to trek across town to the source of all-things round and cakey:

Filed under: San Francisco, , ,

We love – always love – coffee

Photos: Coffee Common x NYC at A Startup Store: Coffee Common brings together world-class baristas and roasters with shared values, to create unique experiences that introduce people to the nuanced joys of exceptional coffee. We believe that great coffee is, at its best, a collaboration of an empowered coffee farmer, an artisan coffee roaster, a dedicated barista, and an enlightened consumer. (via LaughingSquid)

And we love LaughingSquid, but wonder why when they are nominally based in San Francisco, so many of their cool posts, and all their cool coffee posts, seem NYcentric…

Filed under: Coffee, NYC

San Francisco Street Food


Filed under: San Francisco,

The Red Vic Movie House is Closing

Red Vic Movie House in San Francisco to close.
The already endangered repertory movie scene in San Francisco is taking yet another hit.

Later this month, 31 years to the day after it became an instant landmark in the Haight-Ashbury, the Red Vic Movie House will close. (via

On July 25, the Red Vic will show its last movie, bringing to an end a wonderful 30 year run as one of the funnest and funkiest rep movie houses in the land.

All of our friends love to watch movies. So in 1980, a group of us decided to collectively run our own cinema. Hence, the Red Vic Movie House. For almost 10 years, Red Vic’s first home was at the corner of Haight and Belvedere Streets. Here, we introduced our now legendary couches to offer our patrons a funky, yet comfy, place to watch their favorite films.

It’s the end of an era in more ways than one. The Red Vic is one of the last independent neighborhood cinemas in San Francisco. And it is one of the last rep cinemas in the Bay Area – one of the last real movie theaters showing old movies. When it closes, in less than two weeks, there will only be a couple of places left to see classic films as they were meant to be seen – on the big(ish) screen, rather than on DVD and flat screen. And there will be one less place to see films other than big chain multiplexes in malls.

Among its many contributions to film culture in the Bay Area, the Red Vic gave us couches instead of individual seats, long before the lounge-style seating in deluxe theaters. In the original Red Vic, these were literally couches – mostly cast-offs and second hand items scrounged as cheap seating. And there was the popcorn – with real butter, of course, and nutritional yeast as an added topping. If you’ve never tried nutritional yeast on your popcorn, do it now – it’s brilliant.  With a glass of unfiltered apple cider, it made a really tasty and healthy movie treat.  They also had great coffee and brownies. All in all, the best snack food I’ve had at a movie theater.

And to remind you to bus your own damn dishes, they had one of the funniest cinema shorts since the UC’s “no smoking” message with John Waters, featuring one of the Red Vic staffers getting dragged under one of those couches by the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The last three movies showing at the Red Vic are Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil, showing Sunday and Monday; one of the greatest rock concert films ever, The Last Waltz, on Tuesday and Wednesday; and lastly Harold and Maude, playing Friday through Monday.

Harold and Maude is an interesting choice for final film. It’s been a cult favorite at rep cinemas in the Bay Area for pretty much as long as I’ve been going to movies. I remember seeing it for the first time at Berkeley’s UC Theater in the late 70s and it was already a cult thing then, only a few year after its release. But I guess if I’d been scheduling things, I’d have been to tempted to go with another cult film, Marat/Sade. This used to sell out pretty regularly at Red Vic, and people would even come in costume – it was one of those “only in San Francisco” experiences. Well, actually everything about the Red Vic was a bit that way.

I’ll see you there tomorrow, and Tuesday and again for Harold and Maude. I’ll be the sad one with the big, big bowl of popcorn with nutritional yeast.

Filed under: Movies, San Francisco, , , , ,

Beautiful, affordable housing in SF’s Hunters Point

LEED Gold Community Springs up in Hunters Point: “David Baker’s colorful design ethics get scaled up to an affordable community development of 124 townhouses and 116 senior homes, aka the LEED Gold Armstrong Place and Armstrong Senior Housing in Hunters Point… (via Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World.)

Filed under: Architecture, San Francisco,

The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck began rolling the streets of New York City in June 2009. Described by The Village Voice as “a cross between Mister Softee and Mario Batali” their menu combines traditional soft-serve ice cream with imaginative toppings such as wasabi pea dust, Nilla Wafers, Dulce de Leche, olive oil and sea salt, and other rotating offerings. These are dispensed the way ice cream should be — with humor and good cheer. read more

Filed under: Food, NYC

The Semiotic Richness of City Life


One of the things I treasure about City life, especially here in the San Francisco Bay Area, is its semiotic richness – like wandering through an incredibly dense forest of signs and signifiers, and occasionally signs and wonders.

Part of what makes that density so appealing is the way it throws up all sorts of startling juxtapositions.

This morning on the BART train I stood next to two people, seated side by side but clearly not in any way connected to each other, both reading from their Amazon Kindle eBook devices.

The fellow on the outside was reading a book on the global financial crisis – discussing the stupidity and short-sightedness of the Wall Street firms and the whole subprime mortgage mess.  The woman next to him was reading a book on how to get rich in the real estate market…

Serendipity, ironic juxtapositions, semiotic surprise – public transit has so much more to offer than just reducing our climate footprint.

Filed under: San Francisco

Song of the Day: San Francisco

This following program is dedicated to the City and People of San Francisco, who may not know it, but they are beautiful – and so is their city…

Eric Burdon & The Animals, “San Franciscan Nights” – from Winds of Change (1967)

What else could I pick for “Song of the Day” on the day of my return to San Francisco, the cool gray city of love, baghdad by the bay? I may be coming back with my tail between my legs, bruised and broke, and it may be true that for me right now “there’s no place left to go,” but as Oscar Wilde put it, “It is an odd thing, but every one who disappears is said to be seen at San Francisco. It must be a delightful city, and possess all the attractions of the next world.” So I disappeared only to emerge, shaken and soul-lagged, somewhere a bit like heaven – home, San Francisco.

Filed under: Autobiography, San Francisco, Song of the Day,

Growing Up in the Dark: movies and memories in San Francisco

The 1970s seem, in retrospect, like a sort of Golden Age for San Francisco film buffs. There were second-run movie houses and rep theaters all over town showing an incredible and constantly changing array of foreign, art and classic movies – like the wonderful UC Theater in Berkeley and Castro Theatre in San Francisco, as well as smaller places like the Fine Arts, Roxie, Red Vic, Lumiere and Cento Cedar Cinema, or the theaters along Mission St. like the Grand and Cine Latino that showed Spanish-language, kung fu and blaxploitation films. And the two non-network TV stations, Channel 2 and Channel 44, showed old movies regularly, as an important part of their line-up, during the week and almost to the exclusion of anything else on the weekends.

So as a pre-teen and teenager I got to see The Harder They Come, Ealing Studio comedies and Murmur of the Heart at local theaters – the latter, as you might imagine, having a pretty seismic effect on my adolescent psyche. I saw an Errol Flynn double-bill of The Sea Hawk and The Adventures of Robin Hood at the Cento Cedar that was, I am sure, a major factor in my developing a lifelong passion for the movies – not to mention for that Robin Hood in particular. (I also went to the first screening of Star Wars, first show, first day, at the enormous Coronet – we cut school. But that’s another story.)

I had my first encounter with Laurel and Hardy and Our Gang at the Lumiere when it was still under construction. The screen was simply a large sheet of material attached to the brick wall at one end of the medium-sized commercial space they were renovating. The projector was on scaffolding at the other end. In between, on the rough floor, sat friends and neighborhood kids. I didn’t appreciate at the time how closely that movie-going experience resembled the earliest days of the cinema, the very first movie theaters – primitive affairs, like the Lumiere, in working-class neighborhoods, with basic screens and projectors and in between benches for the audience. A piano off in the corner to accompany the silent films. When I started reading about the early history of film in the United States, it was with a sense of recognition.

The weekends… All those weekends when I would stay at home glued to the TV for much of the day. It was a crappy black-and-white set, but that wasn’t too much of a problem since most of the movies I was watching were black-and-white. (And though I wasn’t aware of this at the time, they were also films shot in a format, with a screen ratio, fairly close to that of the TV set – so I wasn’t missing out on big chunks of the movies, the way you did on a normal TV set with movies shot later.)

Weekends begin on Friday night, of course, and in the Bay Area at the time, Friday nights had one of the great movie shows of all time: Creature Features, hosted by Bob Wilkins. The typical Creature Features program that I recall consisted of two movies and one or more shorts. For a while, the show featured episodes of the Japanese series Ultraman, which I loved – so much cooler than anything on US television at the time. The main attractions covered the full-range of science fiction, fantasy and horror films. It was Creature Features that introduced me to Godzilla and Gamera, Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee, The Cat People and Island of Dr. Moreau, and a whole host of monsters and nightmares: the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, giant mutant shrews, the Mummy, Them and the Thing.

Saturdays and Sundays I discovered many of the famous pairings of film: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Bogie and Bacall, Spenser Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, Nick and Nora Charles in the “Thin Man” films, Abbott and Costello. And lots and lots of Westerns. So many Westerns.

A bit later, when I was an older movie buff in my late teens and early twenties, going to the cinema with friends who were also into movies, I began to get a sense of how lucky I was to have been able to see all those Westerns, one of the key genres of American Film. Because while rep theaters like the UC might show old musicals and comedies on a regular basis, and famous pairings like Bogie and Bacall were a staple of their schedule along with the great movies of world cinema, Westerns got comparatively little screen time.

Science fiction, fantasy and horror films – my favorite genre as a kid – faired better. I can remember a sci fi festival at the Taravel Theater, long gone, where they showed nothing but old science fiction and monster movies, back to back, for an entire weekend. My best friend and I stuffed our backpacks with supplies, grabbed some extra cushions for the seats, and spent most of that Saturday and Sunday in the dark, in the Taravel, reveling in Frankenstein and the Wolfman, giant mutant bugs and lizards, robots and flying saucers.

But when it came to Westerns, out of that vast back catalog, only the “usual suspects” tended to be shown at the theater. Great films, of course – there are so many great Westerns – John Ford, John Wayne, Stagecoach, High Noon – but I think I loved them more because of the hours and hours of Oaters I watched on TV. I suppose many if not most of those Westerns are available now on DVD, but for a long time it seemed like I had been given a rare privilege that few others would have in seeing all those B-movie Westerns. (These days, I sometimes have a glimmer of the same feeling when the ABC shows old British B-movies, with actors I’ve never seen or heard of, in the midnight time slot.)

Despite the privilege of seeing all those Westerns, they were never my favorite genre. Acceptable and enjoyable – unlike the film noir which as a kid I was not into (a regrettable lapse of judgement but forgivable because of my youth and inexperience). What I loved and lived for, what I had posters of up on my wall and acted out in the parks and playgrounds, were all those fantasy, adventure and science fiction films. After seeing Errol Flynn in Captain Blood, I managed to stab myself in the leg with a kitchen knife while pretend sword-fighting. The irony of the blood was lost on me at the time.

My love of musicals – and of Fred Astaire in particular – was something I kept a bit more quiet. Science fiction was the staple of our diet as adolescent boys, and comedies were, well, fun, but my pleasure in musicals was not as widely or as deeply shared. But of all my friends, the ones who grew up with a strong passion for film – who went on like me to pursue that interest as adults – were the ones who enjoyed musicals. There is a deep and fundamental connection between the musical and film. You can read science fiction novels, or mysteries, or Zane Grey. You can listen to thrillers and comedies on the radio. But the musical… the musical only exists on stage and, in its purest and greatest form, on screen.

The passion I have for film I owe to growing up in such a privileged – for movie-watching, and of course in many other ways – time and place. I owe it to Creature Features and to the programmers at Channels 2 and 44, and to the Cento Cedar Cinema and UC Theater. Likewise my love for particular films – both the great and the guilty pleasures. Indelible impressions: seeing Errol Flynn as Robin Hood for the first time; Bogie and Bacall in The Big Sleep; Peter Sellars in The Mouse That Roared; the love theme from Doctor Zhivago; the heaven sequence in A Matter of Life and Death; a Bruce Lee double-bill on Mission St.; spinach tennis in Murmur of the Heart; Godzilla teaching Baby Godzilla to breathe flame; Danny Kaye’s double role in Wonder Man; Bing Crosby singing “Would You Like to Sing on a Star”; Fred Astaire dancing.

(For more info on some of San Francisco’s old movie theaters, see: San Francisco’s Legacy Movie Houses.)

Filed under: Autobiography, Bay Area, Movies, , , ,

From Hipster To Hippie, A Cautionary Tale

From Hipster To Hippie, A Cautionary Tale: “Hanah Snavely wrote about The Rise and Fall of Hippie Hill in San Francisco on The Bold Italic and included a wonderful graphic by Volume Inc. showing how a hipster might morph into a hippie.

(via Laughing Squid.)

Reminds me of a button I used to wear in high school: “Hippies with Haircuts.”

If you haven’t already, check out The Bold Italic from which this originated:

The Bold Italic is an experiment in local discovery.

Just when you thought you were a pretty savvy local, along came The Bold Italic. Our mission is to help people become better locals, equipping our members with rare local intel, backstory and potential adventures.

Our writers, the Bold Locals, find their way behind-the-scenes in San Francisco and come back with backstories of distinctive, offbeat local experiences.

(via About Us – The Bold Italic – San Francisco.)

Filed under: Humor, Interweb, San Francisco



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zerode by nick chapman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.


What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.



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