Volume 46 Number 18

February 1-7, 2012

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The parking war


EDITORIAL When you talk about changing parking rules in San Francisco, you’re setting off the political equivalent of shooting war. Nobody wants more parking tickets, nobody wants more expensive parking meters, nobody wants to pay for parking that’s been free for years — and the Municipal Transportation Agency has, by most accounts, done a pretty poor job of selling its new parking management program.

That’s too bad, because the MTA proposals aren’t all bad. In fact, the agency is doing exactly the right thing by looking at a long-term citywide plan for altering the way people pay for and use on-street parking. If the bureaucrats at a city department that isn’t used to San Francisco’s often slow community-oriented planning process can shift their outreach efforts into a different gear, there’s no reason they can’t come up with a plan that most neighborhood residents and small businesses will support.

The MTA’s SFPark program uses high-tech meters that accept credit cards and change prices at different points of the day to maximize turnover on the streets. That’s actually good for local businesses — the less time people spend circling the block looking for a parking space, the more likely they are to stop and shop. Limiting the number of cars cruising for a space improves traffic flow. And parking for an hour or two at a meter is still much cheaper than parking in a garage.

But when the MTA announced that it was expanding SFPark into the Northeast Mission, Dogpatch, Potrero Hill and Mission Bay, the neighborhoods rebelled. Some of that was just anger over the prospect of meters being installed on streets that don’t have them. Some of it comes from the changing land use in areas that are increasingly both residential and commercial. Some of it comes from the intense development pressure in those areas.

But a lot of it was a legitimate response to a perception that the MTA was trying to ram the changes through without making a serious effort to work with the community. It’s not surprising — the MTA has been somewhat isolated from the politics of land use and planning in the city. So the staff isn’t used to the fact that San Francisco is a process-oriented place where a wide range of constituent groups want input before anything happens where they live or work.

The neighborhoods need to understand reality, too: The era of free parking in San Francisco is coming to an end. That’s a good thing — the city as a matter of policy should discourage the use of cars, and charging drivers for parking (and using that money to improve Muni) is an obvious solution. And the proposals aren’t that onerous: Paying 25 cents an hour for all-day parking where you work is hardly a terrible financing burden. (And let’s face it — the neighborhood parking stickers are way, way too cheap.)

But much of the southeast is badly served by transit and there are vehicle-intensive production, distribution and repair uses, and MTA needs to understand that. The agency has wisely delayed the program — and after its shown it can work with the neighborhoods, this sort of bold initiative will be possible.

Seventeen Evergreen


Seventeen Evergreen (www.seventeenevergreen.com) occasionally sounds like evil video game music to me. The San Francisco band consists of Caleb Pate and Nephi Evans, both writers-producers who sing and play drums, synths, and Asiatic stringed instruments among other contraptions. Though it has roots in garage, the duo mostly sticks to experimental psych-pop, and sometimes incorporates aggressive dance beats that lend to gaming — you can almost picture shattered gold rings falling through the sky in a winning ding-ding-ding during moments in the forthcoming Steady On, Scientist! LP (March 27, Lucky Number). The next show is Feb. 25 with Atlas Sound at Bimbo’s as part of Noise Pop (8 p.m., $20. 1025 Columbus, SF. www.bimbos365club.com).

The album standout is “Polarity Song,” with its catchy, repetitive hook and provocative lyrics. The song also was featured on the Psyentist EP, released last December and subsequently, there was a music video. While the EP and video by Terri Timely, which played up a rainbow of yarn spun thrift store monsters, were released last year to local acclaim, the full-length will be out in 2012, making it the perfect year for the band to reach its deserved position beside fellow danceable indie giants. After watching Seventeen Evergreen live last year, the phrase “embrace the polarity of life” was bumping about my brain for weeks. Undoubtedly, this will happen to you too.

Description of sound: Somewhere between zenith snowflake pop and psychedelic cave techno.

What do you like most about the Bay Area music scene: The Asian influence on the avant garde, the room for innovation, and the many different scenes which may or may not always celebrate the out-and-out sonic weirdness that this city has produced over the years.

What piece of music means the most to you and why: No one piece could ever answer this one so far, but last year Cass McCombs’ “County Line” was a favorite. “Golden Lady” by Stevie Wonder and nearly anything by Moondog come to mind as perennials.

Favorite local eatery and dish: So many options here but let’s nominate the Chilaquiles at the farmer’s market in the Ferry Building or a number of places in the Mission for the same.

Who would you most like to tour with: ELO.

Editor’s notes



I used to go to Grateful Dead shows at the Oakland Auditorium, which is now called the Kaiser Convention Center. One night I saw Bill Graham, the late concert promoter, ride a zip line from up near the ceiling to the stage in a giant paper mache joint called the “S.S. Columbian,” which looked like it was going to fall apart at any minute as he swung back and forth 50 feet over the crowd, trying to smile and wave in a bizarre promotional stunt that confused even the deadheads. I bet he shit his pants.

The place was a pretty good venue for a big concert, but it never worked out as a convention center, and the city shut it down in 2005. It needs seismic work and about $5 million in maintenance. It sits near Lake Merritt, on the edge of downtown Oakland, a giant empty building just waiting for something to happen to it.

It’s a perfect spot for an Occupy Oakland headquarters. I’m surprised it took the Occupy folks this long to figure it out.

Look: Oakland’s a working-class city, and it’s having severe financial problems, and sending hundreds of cops to arrest Occupy protesters is sucking up money that’s desperately needed for other things. Mayor Jean Quan complains that police were unable to respond to emergency calls in other parts of the city because they were all downtown dealing with the demonstration.

Understood — and it’s clear that the Oakland Police, whether the Occupy folks like it or not, are going to arrive in mass numbers to make sure that there’s no damage to local businesses or City Hall (where, oddly, there were no arrests, because the cops were elsewhere).

But the empty Kaiser Center, which isn’t even in the downtown center? Why bother?

Seriously: Why not just give it to Occupy Oakland? Tell the group that the city will strictly enforce fire and health codes, that the Occupy people will have to clean the place up and keep it clean, that they can’t damage the place … and hand over the keys?

It’s public property. Nobody using it now. Occupy might actually bring some excitement to the scene. If it became a center for political meetings and organizing, for education and performances, it could be a be a very positive thing.

Declare at truce in the Occupy wars. Let the cops go after murderers; give Occupy the vacant convention center. Nothing else is working. It’s worth a try.

Main Attrakionz


Why is Oakland’s Main Attrakionz (www.mainattrakionz.com) on the rise? It’s because everybody’s talking about it, and with good reason. Last year’s massive 808s & Dark Grapes II mixtape wowed the underground hip-hop world, and with every passing month the act — rapper-producer Squadda B and rapper Mondre M.A.N. — catches the attention of yet another publication, and yet another rising producer — there have been collaborations with A$AP Rocky, Clams Casino, Kool A.D. of Das Racist and Danny Brown, among others.

The cloud-rap duo got a write-up on the Guardian’s Noise blog in December in which writer Frances Capell effused, “Main Attrakionz is carving out its own place in hip-hop by pioneering a new sub-genre” and later, “a refreshing realness runs throughout Main Attrakionz’s lyrics.” In 2012 there will be solo mixtapes from both rappers, along with the collaborative effort Bossalini’s & Fooliyones. With all this skill and regard it’s easy to forget how young the crew really is, it got its start in high school — way back in 2007.

Description of sound: Really can’t describe it. All of our music sounds different.

What do you like most about the Bay Area music scene: The fact that only we know what they talking about.

What piece of music means the most to you and why: The beat to “Da Art of Storytellin” by Outkast featuring Slick Rick, produced by Mr. DJ. It just reminds me of my childhood staying up to watch Rap City countdown and the song was usually number one. Whenever I hear the beat, I think of the puppets in the video.

Favorite local eatery and dish: Buffet Fortuna in Downtown Oakland; chow fun noodles

Who would you most like to tour with: Lil Wayne; as far as performances go, he’s gotta be the top rapper who been performing 10+ years. I wanna learn how he stays ready and energetic for all these years.

Metal Mother


Like some sort of neon, acid-drenched wood nymph, Metal Mother’s (metalmother.bandcamp.com) Tara Tati wanders through the leafy, NSFW video for the haunting art-pop “Shake” off last year’s Bonfire Diaries and into the mind’s eye. In 2012, there will be a first trip to SXSW, more videos (yay!), a few remixes, and, fingers crossed, another full length out toward the end of this year. And as the shimmering Tati says, she’ll “Continue dismantling the mundane and mediocre thought systems that are ruling the planet.”

Tati and her band, which came together shortly after the release of Bonfire proved most theatrical of the Guardian photoshoot, with glittering headpieces and flexible posing. In setting up the right headspace for a photo Tati at one point explained, “I imagine we’re on a wind-torn beach in Scotland.” Appropriate given the band’s atmospheric sound. Before embarking on tour, Metal Mother will play Disco Volante on March 3 (347 14 St., Oakl. www.discovolanteoakland.com)

Description of sound: Post-apocalyptic-art-wave.

What do you like most about the Bay Area music scene: Oakland (where I live) has the feeling of being a fairly insulated city, and I think because it feels like we’re off the mainstream radar a bit, in combination with the massive artist population, there’s more support here for being ‘experimental’ and trying new things, than there is for being traditional. There’s this intense camaraderie, like it’s all for one and one for all, yet at the same time, there’s a crazy bullshit filter that really keeps us all in our most authentically creative place.

What piece of music means the most to you and why: The piece that’s recently gotten the most consistent play on my iPod is Sufjan Stevens’ latest album, Age of Adz. I’ve realized that most music that has lasting power for me usually has some symphonic, classical element to it, and he really nailed it with this album. Its masterfully produced; the arrangements are shockingly complex yet have this unyielding elegance that still gets me all emotional. To me, it’s a perfect blend of sweetness, humility, passion, and absurdity; there’s never a dull moment!

Favorite local eatery and dish: Tacubaya in Berkeley, all the vegetarian dishes are amazing. My favorite is probably the ‘seasonal vegetable’ tamales.

Who would you most like to tour with: It’s a tie between Sufjan Stevens and Bjork.

Dirty Ghosts


After her other bands naturally fizzled, Allyson Baker was done. “I was burnt,” says the hard-rocking guitarist, clad in her signature black leather jacket, with a rocker’s fringe of black bangs framing her face. Luckily for us, she got the rock’n’roll bug again around 2006, and picked up the pieces for a new project — Dirty Ghosts (www.dirtyghosts.com). Since then the act has gone through a dozen formations, with even more drummers, but one thing remains consistent: Baker herself, a Joan Jett-esque force on stage and off.

Over the past few years the singer-guitarist has recorded and rerecorded a core set of 10 songs, some with the digital help of her husband rapper Aesop Rock, others with session musicians and creative pals. She’ll finally release the full length LP Metal Moon (Last Gang Records) Feb. 21. A few days later (Feb. 23) she’ll play an unofficial album release show as part of Noise Pop’s 20th anniversary (9 p.m., $10–$20. Brick and Mortar, 1710 Mission, SF. www.brickandmortarmusic.com). The year is Baker’s for the taking.


Description of sound: 1960s funk, ’70s rock, ’80s new wave, ’00s R&B, good times/bad times.

What do you like most about the Bay Area music scene: I think this city has a musical history that’s one of the best and most unique, so even to able to exist in the place where that happened I think is pretty special.

What piece of music means the most to you and why: New Age by Chrome. It’s so simple and it’s got all of the elements. It’s perfect.

Favorite local eatery and dish: I don’t wanna be boring and say the super burrito at Cancún which is my real answer, so the margarita pizza at Una Pizza Napoletana

Who would you most like tour with: Swiftumz.