(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco

“There was something very attractive in all the hidden places, the hidden histories”*…

In the late 1970s, Asian restaurants in California’s cities started booking some unlikely dinner entertainment: punk bands…

Bill Hong was a Cantonese immigrant dad in his late 40s, running a restaurant in Los Angeles’ Chinatown neighborhood with his sister Anna Hong and her husband Arthur, when two young promoters approached him with a business proposition: What did Hong think about renting out the restaurant’s upstairs banquet hall on the evenings when it wasn’t being used?

It was 1979, and LA was struggling. The entire country had plunged into a deep recession just a few years prior, and now Chinatown and the city’s downtown areas were falling into disrepair. More recent Chinese immigrants had started moving to suburban enclaves like the San Gabriel Valley, bypassing Chinatown and its businesses completely; the non-Chinese customers who used to flock to the neighborhood for exotic chow mein dinners were now avoiding downtown altogether.

When Bill Hong said yes to the promoters, he was trying to be practical. He knew the restaurant needed more customers; maybe letting a few young bands play could help bring them in. He never could’ve foreseen that his family’s establishment, the Hong Kong Low—located on a small street called Gin Ling Way—would become a focal point for a seminal music scene: West Coast punk.

Nor did he know how many times the restaurant’s toilet would get smashed in the process.

Hong’s restaurant—known as the Hong Kong Café to showgoers—was far from the only Asian restaurant to incubate the California punk scene. In the late 1970s and early ‘80s, from Sacramento to San Francisco, some of the state’s most important punk venues were actually Chinese and Filipino restaurants. At eateries like Sacramento’s China Wagon and Kin’s Coloma, or San Francisco’s Mabuhay Gardens, now-iconic bands such as X, the Germs, and Black Flag played some of their most memorable early gigs. The Hong Kong wasn’t even the first place in LA’s Chinatown to host gigs: the restaurant across the courtyard, Madame Wong’s, had already been doing the same for at least a year…

Su Tissue of the Suburban Lawns performing at the Hong Kong Café, 1979. Photograph by John Brian King.
Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys, performing at San Francisco’s Mabuhay Gardens—otherwise known as the “Fab Mab”—in 1979 (the same year he ran for mayor of SF). Photograph by Mike Murphy.
Withdrawl, known as Sacramento’s best local punk band at the time, playing at Kin’s Coloma, 1981

Tour the venues: “How Chinese Food Fueled the Rise of California Punk,” from Madeline Leung Coleman (@madelesque)

* “Punk rock, when I was a part of it, was called ‘the underground.’ There was something very attractive in all the hidden places, the hidden histories.” – Mary Harron

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As we muse on the mosh, we might recall that this date in 1979 was “Fleetwood Mac Day” in Los Angeles, as the group was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (about 6 miles northwest of the Hong Kong Café).

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“Here, are the stiffening hills”*…

 

Mason Street

 

The San Francisco street grid dates to the 1839 plan of Swiss ship captain and surveyor Jean-Jacques Vioget, who laid out the city on a north–south, east–west grid without regard to its topography. Subsequent plans extended the grid, except for its inflection south of Market Street…. and continued the practice of honoring geometry over topography, resulting in some of the steeper streets in the world.

porta-potty

Photographer Dan Ng explored…

What would San Francisco be without its steep hills?

Well for one, if would be much easier to walk around and without much effort. It would be easier to park a car and not have to curb the wheels. We would not have runaway vehicles and tennis balls.

On the other hand, we would not have cable cars, beautiful views and quaint neighborhoods. We would not have the many movies and postcard images to view. In fact, San Francisco would not be San Francisco.

By tilting the camera, I attempted to “level” the hills. These images whimsically portray the streets of San Francisco…flat. But thank goodness it isn’t!

See his more of “leveling” photos: “The Streets of San Francisco… but Flat?

And on the subject of city streets: using OpenStreetMap, Andrei Kashcha’s City Roads project lets you enter any town or city in the world and generates a map of all the streets within its city limits.

* Mervyn Peake, “Rhondda Valley,Collected Poems

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As we seek balance, we might spare a thought for Paul Lorin Kantner; he died on this date in 2016.  A musician, he’s best known as co-founder, rhythm guitarist, and occasional vocalist of Jefferson Airplane, a seminal San Francisco psychedelic rock band of the counterculture era.  He continued these roles as a member of Jefferson Starship, Jefferson Airplane’s successor band.

Coincidentally, one of his his Airplane co-founders, Signe Toly Anderson, died on the same day.

200px-Paul_Kantner_Jefferson_Starship_1975 source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 28, 2020 at 1:01 am

“I think no question containing ‘either/or’ deserves a serious answer, and that includes the question of gender”*…

 

In the US, as in much of the world, trans people are often unable to access the healthcare they need. For many people transitioning, finding a doctor willing or able to help, let alone a clinic that offers hormonal treatment, can be costly and difficult.

Ryan Hammond, an artist and tactical biologist based in Baltimore, wants to make the process easier using genetically modified plants. He plans to engineer transgenic tobacco plants to produce gender hormones like estrogen and testosterone, allowing anyone to grow their own supplements at home.

To do this, Hammond is attempting to crowdfund $22,000, which would cover the costs of his training, lab access, and living costs for a year at Pelling Lab in Ottawa, Canada. Hammond has a background in art and has been working in a community biohacking lab in Baltimore called BUGSS, where he been exploring Synthetic Biology and learning new techniques in the field…

More at “Queer Artist Launches DIY Gender Hormone Biohacking Project” and at Open Source Gendercodes.

[image above: source]

* Kate Bornstein, Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us

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As we think analog, not digital, we might spare a thought for Joshua Abraham Norton, better known as “Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico; he was buried on this date in 1880.  An immigrant from South Africa, Norton became disgruntled with what he considered the inadequacies of the legal and political structures of his adopted home.  On September 17, 1859, he took matters into his own hands and distributed letters to the various newspapers in the city, proclaiming himself “Emperor of these United States”:

At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of S. F., Cal., declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these U. S.; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of Feb. next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.

—NORTON I, Emperor of the United States

Norton issued a number of decrees, some of them visionary (e.g., the establishment of a League of Nations, the construction of a bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland).  Ignored by the local, state, and national governments, he spent his days inspecting San Francisco’s streets in an elaborate blue uniform with gold-plated epaulettes, given to him by officers of the United States Army post at the Presidio of San Francisco.

Norton died in poverty; but a group of San Francisco businessmen, members of the Pacific Club, established a funeral fund and arranged a suitably-dignified farewell.  The Emperor’s funeral cortege was two miles long; the procession and ceremony were attended by an estimated 10-30,000 people– at a time when San Francisco had only 230,000 residents.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 8, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Words are the children of reason and, therefore, can’t explain it”*…

 

Charlie Parker at Jimbo’s Bop City in the Fillmore, 1950s. Photo: Steve Jackson

 

Lewis Watts collaborated with the film maker and writer Pepin Silva to tell the story of the Fillmore music scene in the 1940s and 50s. During this era, one square mile of the Fillmore contained more than two dozen nightclubs and music venues, including well-known spots like Jimbo’s Bop City. Its significant place in African-American musical and cultural history led to the Fillmore district being compared to New York’s Harlem. Few people today know of its rich history, which was thoroughly erased during the district’s redevelopment in the 1960s.

Fundraising is in progress to reprint Lewis Watts and Elizabeth Pepin Silva’s 2006 jazz and blues history, Harlem Of The West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era, in an extended form that includes a multimedia website and a traveling museum.

Billie Holiday and Mel Tormé in the Fillmore, 1950s. Photo: Steve Jackson Jr

 

More images at “Harlem of the West“; more on the fundraising campaign here.

* Bill Evans, on jazz

 

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As we follow the lead sheet, we might send rhythmic birthday greetings to Charles Mingus; he was born on this date in 1922.  Raised in Watts, Mingus came to music in high school, where he picked up the cello, and then the double bass.  After a few years of intense study, he became known as a bass prodigy (touring as a very young man with the likes of Louis Armstrong and Lionel Hampton, then Charlie Parker); at the same time, he had begun composing.  In 1952 Mingus co-founded Debut Records with Max Roach so that he could control his own recording career.  Over the next decade he released thirty albums on his own label and on several others– a pace unmatched in the field (except perhaps by Ellington).  He slowed a bit in the 60s, but was by any objective measure remarkably productive.  But in the early 70s he was diagnosed with ALS; his once-formidable bass technique declined, until he could no longer play the instrument.  He continued composing, however, and supervised a number of recordings before his death.  At the time of his death, Mingus was working on an album named after him with Joni Mitchell, which included lyrics added by Mitchell to Mingus compositions, including “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.”  The album featured performances by Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and another influential bassist and composer, Jaco Pastorius.  Mingus died, at 56, in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where he had traveled for treatment; his ashes were scattered in the Ganges River.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

April 22, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere”*…

 

From Nathan Friend, hours of fun:  the Inspirograph.

* G.K. Chesterton

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As we try to remember which side of the brain on which to draw, we might spare a thought for Joshua Abraham Norton, better known as Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico; he was buried on this date in 1880.  An immigrant from South Africa, Norton became disgruntled with what he considered the inadequacies of the legal and political structures of his adopted home.  On September 17, 1859, he took matters into his own hands and distributed letters to the various newspapers in the city, proclaiming himself “Emperor of these United States”:

At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of S. F., Cal., declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these U. S.; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of Feb. next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.

—NORTON I, Emperor of the United States

Norton issued a number of decrees, some of them visionary (e.g., the establishment of a League of Nations, the construction of a bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland).  Ignored by the local, state, and national governments, he spent his days inspecting San Francisco’s streets in an elaborate blue uniform with gold-plated epaulettes, given to him by officers of the United States Army post at the Presidio of San Francisco.

Norton died in poverty; but a group of San Francisco businessmen, members of the Pacific Club, established a funeral fund and arranged a suitably-dignified farewell.  The Emperor’s funeral cortege was two miles long; the procession and ceremony were attended by an estimated 10-30,000 people– at a time when San Francisco had only 230,000 residents.

 source

Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 10, 2015 at 1:01 am

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