We had lunch this week with a Silicon Valley insider who had an interesting take on the tech boom in SF. The way we heard it, the established Valley crowd isn’t all that happy with the upstarts up the Peninsula: All this social media stuff (and all the money that’s gone with it) has eclipsed the role of the companies that actually make something. The silicon chip that little sliver of material that makes all of the rest of this possible isn’t sexy any more. When it comes to VC money, it’s all about the next Twitter, not the next Intel. Those uppity kids; no respect for their elders.
RON LANZA MEMORIAL
Friends and admirers of the late impresario Ron Lanza and there are plenty will gather Saturday/15 at El Rio to celebrate his life and legacy. Lanza was one of the giants of the early LGBT movement in the Bay Area and the founder of Valencia Rose and Josie’s Cabaret and Juice Joint. He helped launch the careers of Whoopie Goldberg, Marga Gomez, and Margaret Cho, kept queer arts alive and lively through the worst of the AIDS pandemic, and created the Tenderloin AIDS Resource Center. The memorial is from 11am 1pm, and features an open mic, where it’s safe to say you’ll hear some amazing, funny, and poignant stories.
Wow, Sean Parker! We haven’t heard so much about a wedding since Kate Middleton and Prince William! The Napster founder and Facebook billionaire has now embarrassed a growing list of state politicians and industry leaders who showed up at a nice ceremony in the redwoods to discover that the place had been bulldozed, built up with concrete, and turned into something of a Lord of the Rings set that violated state coastal protection laws. Lite Guv Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Kamala Harris were reportedly there, and are ducking comment. Newark Mayor Cory Booker was also there, and the guest list, according to the British tabs, included Sting and his wife Trudie, Allison Williams, Emma Watson, Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, Perry and Etty Farrell and Lucian Grainge.
A year from now, most of the celebs will deny ever showing up.
THE DEVELOPER AND THE IRS
Simon Snellgrove, the developer who wants to build ultra-luxury condos at 8 Washington, appears to be getting desperate. He’s facing a November referendum that would overturn the Board of Supervisors vote approving an exemption from the waterfront height limits, and polls show that most voters don’t like highrise buildings on the water. So he’s spent $850,000 collecting signatures for a competing ballot measure that would approve the project, state records show. And he’s resorted to a highly unusual tactic: He’s trying to sic the Internal Revenue Service on project opponents. Kevin Heneghan, attorney for Snellgrove’s group, has asked the feds (who are already in a bit of trouble for investigating political groups) to look into whether Friends of Golden Gateway illegally used tax-deductible contributions to lobby against the project. (The evidence for that is pretty darn thin.)
It’s pretty common in this town to file complaints against your opponents with the Ethics Commission and the Fair Political Practices Commission (oh, and by the way, the FPPC has already nailed Snellgrove for a prior campaign violation). But bringing in the IRS? That’s a pretty new one. "How politically tone deaf can you be?" asked project foe Jon Golinger. "Once they’re done with the Tea Party in Ohio, the IRS can come out here and start investigating a bunch of senior citizens who want to save their swimming pool."
We have a favorite team in the America’s Cup: New Zealand.
The Kiwis are the only group in the race that lacks a billionaire sponsor. They’re using public money and sponsorships to try to take on Larry Ellison, who is spending a fortune on his boat, acting like a total asshole, and refusing to cover the costs (as much as $20 million) the city could wind up paying. Imagine if, after all the hype, the underfunded Kiwis took the trophy? (Amanda Witherell, Our Correspondent in Wellington, notes that sailing in NZ is "definitely not the pink pants and loafer set much more a typical sport with low barriers to entry." Besides, she tells us, "it’s sort of uncool to be rich here. Or, if you’re rich you’re not really supposed to flash it. No fancy cars. No champagne fountains, unless you’re a member of Parliament.")
Go New Zealand.
IN THE BAR BIZ
Fans of friendly watering holes rejoice: Lexington Club owner Lila Thirkield opened the doors to Virgil’s Sea Room (3152 Mission, SF. www.virgilssf.com) last week, filling the space that used to house neighborhood dive Nap’s with happy tipplers. Don’t worry: The small spot next to El Rio will still have karaoke. Plus a dedicated clientele, given the ardent followings of Thirkield and her co-owners, sunshine-y Nickies bartender Gillian Fitzgerald and Tom "DJ Carnita" Temprano of queer soul party Hard French and Harvey Milk Club presidency fame.
TO QUEER THE SCHOOLS
A bubbly and diverse group of LGBTQQ high schoolers assembled on the steps of City Hall last Friday, waving signs saying "Celebrate Difference" and "Queer Our Schools." The kids were part of LYRIC the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information center in the Castro and they were there, along SF’s two queer supervisors, Scott Weiner and David Campos, to announce LYRIC’s "School-Based Initiatives" which works within schools to educate students and faculty about LGBTQQ youth issues, and to celebrate a $75,000 allotment in the just-released mayor’s budget. Student assembly speeches and Pride events, one-on-one meetings, training sessions for teachers, and family engagement are all part of the plan to help schools deal with anti-gay bias and bullying. LYRIC reports that an astonishing 1,000 of the 3,000 LGBTQQ-identified San Francisco Unified School District students attempts suicide annually (the ratio jumps to 1 out of two for transgender students), so the timing couldn’t be better. www.lyric.org
The annual SF Opera summer season is always a treat the programmers get a little wild, and the risks, like last year’s extraordinary Nixon in China, always pay off in adventurous spirit. (Ticket prices, starting at $22, aren’t bad, either). This year’s season opened June 5, runs through July 7, and includes Mozart’s cheeky Cosi fan tutte and Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman. The buzzy highlight is new work The Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Mark Adamo. Mary is based on an alternative gospel found by archeologists in 1896, and sprang from six years of Adamo’s own research. It gives a different spin on the Jesus tale, and it bound to raise a few eyebrows. It opens Weds/19 and stars Sasha Cooke and Nathan Gunn. www.sfopera.org