November 2008. Seems like a lifetime ago.
Spoiler alert: they’re parting ways. We assume Shawn is moving on to bigger and better things, and by way of announcing the news, he shared on Facebook the inspiring story of his history with the bar. (And he explains that there’s nothing to worry about — Amnesia will be in good hands.) It’s a great read:
Dear Lovelies, I am writing with some news: I am leaving Amnesia. Obviously, this has not been an easy decision for me to make, and has been lingering in my mind for the past few years. It feels like breaking up with someone I’m still in love with. It’s not you, it’s me, honest. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love this community, and it pains me to mess with something that is so loved, especially when things are changing so drastically all around us. But don’t fret! AMNESIA IS NOT GOING ANYWHERE. It is being passed into capable hands, people who I believe will try their best to keep the integrity of this place and enhance it in ways that I never could. They are real people who work hard and care about what they do. They may not run around the stage in a diaper as much as I do, but, honestly, that’s no way to run a fucking business, now is it? The bar will be passed to Beth and Craig Wathen, who currently own the great SOMA hang, City Beer Store. They are solid, community-oriented people who I have had the pleasure to work with over the past 4 years. They are coming in with two partners, good friends who were some of their original customers at City Beer. Let me be very clear: I hand-picked Craig and his crew to take over because he knows Amnesia and values its place in the community. Everyone should congratulate them. It is a big deal for them and they deserve absolute kindness and respect. Truthfully, I never thought I’d do any one thing for 15 years, but Amnesia has been an unexpected and amazing surprise. Some of you who are reading this may have never met me, and others don’t know how this place came to be. So, here is a short tale about that: I came to San Francisco 15 years ago on a plane from Connecticut. I had come on a 3-day vacation to visit some friends from high school who were living in the Mission. I was 23 years old, stranded and broke, and living with my parents. I was depressed and directionless. I didn’t like San Francisco. It was too dirty, with too many homeless people, and a cold, hard rain poured from the sky every day of my trip. Despite all that, it was better than where I had come from, and I never took that return flight back to the east coast. Instead, I hung up a hammock in the kitchen of my friend’s 1-bedroom apartment at 21st and San Carlos, and got a job at Dolores Park Café, where I was worked to the bone for $10/hr. (It is very clean at Dolores Park Café). Another high school friend was bartending at a new beer and wine bar on Valencia St. called Amnesia. She told me she could give me a Sunday shift over there and I showed up that next Sunday and just started working, having never met my actual boss. The owner was a laid-back Belgian guy named Jean-Paul. He was a restaurateur, had two little girls, and a lovely, intense wife. He was pretty hands-off at the bar and let his employees run the place. I had never bartended before, hardly drank at all, and couldn’t pour a beer. But, I learned to do all those things. And, surprisingly to me, I loved coming to work for the first time in my life. I loved my regular customers (who are all still friends today). I loved making connections in my new community, helping people find work, or roommates, or just putting interesting people together. So, when the friend who hired me decided to get a day job, I quit Dolores Park Café, worked the bar every night I could, and couldn’t get enough. About 6-months or so into working at Amnesia, Jean-Paul announced that he was going to sell and move his family off to Europe. As soon as he told me, wheels started turning in my head. I made a phone call to my dad, and then my aunt, and a few other family friends. I basically pleaded with them to take a chance on me. Some did, some didn’t, but with a good amount of persuading, I got some promises. Jean-Paul wasn’t about to cut me any deals, though. He got the best offer he could and said that if I could match it, the place was mine, and he gave me 10 days to do it. Now, asking people for money and getting them to put it into your bank account are two different things. So, I had longer phone conversations with all my would-be investors. I sent them photos and sales predictions, development plans, and a whole bunch of other stuff I didn’t know anything about. After all that, I lost a couple investors, but managed to convince 5 brave and trusting people to put their money into my bank account. Personally, I invested all I had: $300. I had to have a lawyer write up loan documents for everyone, signed my financial life away, and told Jean Paul I was in. In the end, I was $15,000 short, and Jean Paul took pity on me and loaned me the money himself, with a clause that if I missed a payment by more than 10 days, the bar would be returned to him. I did not tell this to any of my other investors. The first couple of years were stressful, terrifying and glorious. I had to fire some people, which is still the worst thing I ever have to do. I worked too much. I even passed out from exhaustion during a shift at the bar, had to kick everyone out and close early. I didn’t sleep. Chicken John stopped me on the street and told me I was going to fail because I wasn’t an asshole, and I was worried he was right. I lived off tips and managed things from my hammock in the kitchen. I sent my checks in dutifully every week and kept my fingers crossed. I managed to get an entertainment permit and legitimately start booking bands. I met the wonderful human being, Sol Crawford, and was smart enough to give him full reign whenever he asked. Sol could take an ordinary night of music and with a well-placed shout, the pop of a cork, and a nice tie, make it extraordinary. There was a lot of bar-top dancing in those days. Mostly, I just made it my job to make sure everyone always had the best time possible when they came through Amnesia’s door. I’ve always felt proud of everything that has happened over here, and am still proud. I tell this story not to self-aggrandize, because in the end, it’s just a little bar and I am a speck on a speck of sand in this universe. I just wanted to remember a little bit and, speck or not, this bar has been the best thing that ever happened to me. I feel more at home at Amnesia than where I sleep. I know every loose board and leaky pipe. I have scrubbed piss and vomit from the floors and came up smiling. It was my clubhouse, and everyone with a good heart and open mind was invited. And it doesn’t have to end. Amnesia is really about you: The people who love and support it. It is about musicians, poets, comedians, actors and imbeciles, and the fans that support them all. I was only ever a small part in what this place has become. During the last few months of my reign as king toilet-scrubber, I plan to put on some special shows. I will post about these shows under the heading: “NOTHING’S HAPPENING.” Some performers are veterans of the Amnesia stage who have grown too big to play on a regular basis, and some are personal favorites. So, if you see me post something about a secret guest, or a special show, you better do yourself a favor and get your ass down to the bar. I’d like to go out with a bang, and you could help me in that goal by supporting this music, respecting the performers, screaming appropriately, and dancing your pants off.
Happy trails, Shawn!
[via Capp Street Crap] [Photo by Google Maps]
The screening is of a movie called Free, and it is free, and it’s this Thursday, and there will be food trucks and stuff. Here’s a blurb about the movie:
Academy Award-nominated filmmaker David Collier and co-director Suzanne LaFetra have crafted a stirring, up-close documentary that follows a group of Oakland teens who find personal liberation and mutual support through dance. These dynamic young people face the very real challenges of poverty, alienation, HIV, sexual abuse, and gang violence but are dedicated to telling the truth— even if it hurts. Because the truth will, to some degree, set them free. FREE captures their struggles as they turn the courage, determination, and stamina required in their daily lives into a contagious joy.
McCoppin Plaza, as you know, is that plaza on the north end of Valencia Street next to the U-Haul place.
More info (on this event and on the rest of DocFest).
(I’m talking to myself, but probably also to you.)
When a real estate broker told Tenderloin landlord Paul Boschetti that a nonprofit was interested in leasing his 172 Golden Gate Avenue property, he told the San Francisco Chronicle Thursday, Boschetti said, “No way. I’ve had it up to here with nonprofits.” But the landlord had a change of heart when he visited the original 826 Valencia. “When I saw what they were doing for the young people of the neighborhood, how much fun the kids were having, I immediately changed my mind,” Boschetti told the Chron. “If I was a kid I would like this kind of stuff myself.”
Aww. Read on for more of the story.
It’ll come as no surprise that Lost Weekend Video has long been in danger of having to close up shop. Netflix, HBO Go, Popcorn Time, etc. But they’ve been on Valencia Street since the late ’90s, they’re a living relic of the Mission’s storied past, AND they’re continually taking cool steps toward remaining relevant and exciting.
Firstly, they started up the basement Cinecave performance space where they’ve been doing all kinds of cutting-edge comedy the last couple years. More recently, they’ve welcomed 1-2-3-4 Go! Records in to share the space, and hopefully that’s revving up business a little.
But also, with the help of some crowdfunding, they’d like to do all of this:
We will enhance & expand our video & retail services to better serve the needs of the 21st Century film enthusiast, including:
On their crowdfunding page, for different donation levels you get all sorts of perks, like free video rentals and cool shirts and stuff. 32 hours left to donate! Check it out.
The show takes an intimate look at the domestic lives of roommates Henry Rollins (from Black Flag) and Glenn Danzig (from The Misfits) with over 60 paintings, drawings and original pages from the “Henry and Glen Forever and Ever” comic book series curated by by indie-heavyweight Tom Neely (Image Comics) and featuring San Francisco notables Ed Liuce (Wuvable Oaf / Fantagraphic Comics), Beth Dean, Fred Noland, Gabrielle Gamboa, Geoff Vasille and Justin Hall, along with indie comic heroes Alex Chiu, Banjamin Marra, Bruno Guerreiro, Chuck BB, Grant Reynolds, J.T. Dockery, Jeremy Baum, Jeremy Owen, Josh Bayer, Mark Rudolph, Megan Hutchison and Scot Nobles.
The opening reception will be on Thursday April 30th from 7pm to 10pm at Mission Comics & Art at 3520 20th St, suite B (between Mission and Valencia St), San Francisco, CA 94110, and will run through Saturday May 30th.
You know that moment when Valencia is quiet? Early before all the shops open? I show up to work and there’s a woman out front knitting quietly on a little folding stool. A real live yarn bomber.
I wasn’t expecting her to be so open or charming. I thought yarn bombing was done anonymously in the shadows. I started asking questions and here’s what I learned.
Emily Stauffer (fogknits.com) has been doing this since 2010. As sweet as she is, she started out of snark. “All my friends kept sending me this yarn bombing story that had gone viral. It got kind of old saying ‘Yeah, I saw it. Thanks.’ So I decided to yarn bomb something so that I could say yeah, ‘I’ve done it. Thanks.’”
“5 years later, this is probably my 200th bike rack.”
Emily has bombed pansies in a garden, statues, fences, mail boxes and pink flamingos in a neighbors yard (the only time she’s yarn bombed on private property). But her favorite thing to bomb is bike racks.
“I’m so opposed to yarn bombing trees. Trees are beautiful. They don’t need improving. Let’s add some color to something that needs some help. An ugly fence. A steel bike rack.”
“It took me by surprise that the bike community appreciated it,” Emily said. “I used to just cover the very top of bike racks – the most visible part. But I kept noticing that people would slide the yarn down to one side. Eventually I figured out that bikers were doing that to protect their paint from getting scratched by the rack. Since realizing that knitting racks was actually functional, about 95% of my yarn bombing has been on racks.
Emily’s work tends to stay up anywhere from 24 hours (in the Castro) to a year.
When strips get boring, Emily throws in an Easter egg like this Charlie Brown stripe.
Do you recognize this pattern? Take your best guess in the comments below.
So how long does it take to yarn bomb 5 circular bike racks? Emily does most of the work in what she calls “found time.”
“10 minutes while waiting for the bus. Another 10 minutes because the bus was full and it just passed me by. 20 minutes on the bus. I don’t really sit at home and work on a project like this.” When pressed, Emily confesses, “I probably spent 60-70 hours on this one.”
I thanked her for her contribution and with a smile she corrected me, “my egregious act of vandalism.”
Here’s the official word, via Facebook:
There is finally news.
Dennis and Susan Ring had a meeting with the powers that be and they seem quite confident that their condo project will be able to move forward.
As a result, they have decided not to renew our lease which expires Nov. 1st, 2015.
Yes, we are in shock.
We will be looking for a new space to continue what we are doing. With hopefully as little lapse as possible.
We own the liquor license, the business and all contents inside (except for pinball/pacman).
Hopefully we can find something soon.
If you have any leads on a space for us, or wish to help… please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank You for your ongoing support
Matt Shapiro/ Erik Cantu
and the staff of Elbo Room
Sooo, better check out the Elbo Room calendar of events, or just pop in for happy hour.