Friday, February 27, 2009

Upcoming Event: Pulse at Paradise Lounge, Friday February 27

We had a great time at this last month, sorry for the late notice but it's well worth checking out!

Dory (Listed / Pacifictime / Dialogue, LA)
Forest Green ( / Cute Fang Recordings)
Mozaic (Nexus / Raindance)
Eric Sharp (Rock It Science / Flavor Group)
+ Pulse Resident's Dhamma (Pulse) and Alixr (Pulse / FnF / rEvolution)

M.O.D. (Evil Breaks | Strategik)
Dulce Vita (Opulent Temple | TheFreakShow)
and Melyss (Opel | Sister SF)

All proceeds benefit Kids for the Bay

Paradise Lounge, 1501 Folsom Street (11th x Folsom)
9PM - 4AM
$10 before 11, $15 after

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Big News from the Jaded Gay DJ

It's been pretty quiet here at the scene since I got laid off - that happened on a Wednesday, I spent a couple days "in my cups," as they say, and then, the next Monday, just as I was getting ready for a Tahoe trip, I got the metaphorical life-saving phone call from the Governor - I was offered, and accepted, a tenure-track position as an Assistant Professor of English and New Media Studies with a university in Baltimore, Maryland. I left for a couple days, got a horrible cold, came back, and have been trying to regain my mental balance ever since. Hence, the silence that has descended over the blog; it's taken until today for me to figure out what to write about, since so much has been going on.

If the teaching job seems completely random, it's actually something I've been pursuing since October. Most folks who know me personally also know that I have a PhD, in comparative literature, and that I've taught at a big-name public university (as a Visiting Assistant Professor) and have published a few academic articles as well (mostly on Thomas Pynchon, and, in the theory realm, on systems theory and online communities). Since a friend of mine from grad school was on the search committee, and I had a good on-campus interview visit, I felt pretty confident of getting the job, it was just a matter of waiting for the committee to make the offer.

Given the layoff on Wednesday, Monday's news was good, though it raised a big question: what to do for the next five months before the boyfriend and I move? I had been banking (literally) on coasting through my old job until it was time to hit the road. Now my only option for making money was through contract or temporary work, and given the current state of the economy, and the paucity of jobs being posted on Dice and Monster, the situation was looking dire enough to require one of those dreaded phone calls to Mom. However, yesterday I got a call from a staffing agency about a three-month contract job, and now things are definitely looking better. If I had sat down to write this post yesterday, as I briefly considered doing, it would have been distinctly bleaker in tone.

And what about the blog? I plan on keeping it going until I leave, though it's probably going to get less of my attention between now and then. I'll continue to post about upcoming stuff that I think is interesting, and to write reviews, but mostly I'll be using it as a channel to reflect upon my San Francisco experience - I've now lived here longer than anywhere else in my adult life, and I think it's fair to say that San Francisco has shaped who I am to a large degree. I should be quick to add, however, that one of the reasons I sought out this job in Baltimore is that I, and the boyfriend, have been ready for a change in our lives for a while, and if I have learned anything living here, it's how hard this city can be despite the happy face it shows the world.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Upcoming Event: All Vinyl All Night Techno Party, Friday February 13

Greg Bird's Official Birthday Celebration

Sammy Dee
Marc Schneider
Nikola Baytala
Clint Stewart

Underground Location
$20 RSVP ONLY at

Upcoming Event: Juan Atkins at Paradise Lounge, Saturday February 14

Continuing with their stellar programming, Paradise Lounge and Donuts presents techno legend Juan Atkins for your Valentine's Day date! With DJ Support from Pickpocket, BT Magnum and Kelley B, and live performances from Dam Funk and Hot Tub.

10PM - 4AM
Paradise Lounge, 1501 Folsom

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Layoff Blues, Part II

Well, it's happened again, and this time within 10 months of the last time - I got laid off. I hope to have some mitigating news in a week or so, but, in the meantime, if you all know anyone who needs a (technical) writer for a project, pass the word.

Soundworks Closes

Walking down Valencia Street a week or so ago I noticed that yet another of my old record shop haunts, Soundworks, has closed. Owned by Sam LaBelle, Soundworks was known for its record pool, and when I went in there on Sunday afternoons I could always count on seeing some of the better-known gay DJs in there, trading gossip with Sam and picking up their pool records. Much of what was in their bins was older stuff, but it was a great place to pick up old acid tracks, or crazy late 90s trance. Their techno selection was okay, but it always seemed to veer a bit too much into the harder Belgian/Dutch stuff for me.

The closing of Soundworks means that, in the six years since I've moved back to San Francisco, every record shop that I used to frequent, with the exception of Tweakin' Records, has gone out of business. That roll call includes:
  • Housewares
  • Zen City Records
  • Soundworks
  • F-8 (and Reverb Records)
  • BPM Records
  • Open Mind
Say so long to the independent DJ vinyl store, it was really nice knowing you. Here's what an afternoon of record shopping was like back two years ago when I started this blog.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Event Review: Pulse at Paradise Lounge

"It's like we're at a rave," the boyfriend said to me as we sat with our friend Toka in the smoking area at Paradise Lounge last Friday during Pulse. It was easy to see what gave him that impression: a large, very diverse crowd of friendly people; two rooms of music, breakbeat up and techno down; visuals that were oh-so-early 2Ks; and an overall vibe of "yeah, let's party till dawn!"

There aren't many events that I can recommend without qualifications, but this one is definitely among them. I found myself thinking back to the Thump Radio parties that used to happen at 550 Barneveld, which were a big part of my intro to San Francisco rave culture, mainly because, like those parties, there was a diversity of music and people and physical space that always provided fresh stimulation. When Alland Byallo's set at Pulse got a little abstract and inaccessible for me (one track sounded like listening to a drunk horn section on K), we just went upstairs and danced away to some breakbeat. When we got tired of that, we could go into the bar lounge area and just chat, or into the smoking area and strike up a conversation with someone (in fact, one woman we met in the smoking area became very, um, attached to us on the dancefloor later).

The other thing that impressed me about this event was its spirit. First, the proceeds from the event all went to a non-profit, and each month it looks like a different organization will benefit from our good time. Second, no one "owns" this event, but, rather, the organizers' intent seems to be to present, every month, a new selection of local DJs within the major genres. This month it was Alland Byallo, Christian Martin, Solar, and Galen, among others, certainly a stellar line-up. Next month it will be Forest Green, Mozaic, and Eric Sharp, among others. There are resident Pulse DJs, but overall this feels more like the kind of thing Lord Kook and I tried to pull off with FSLD, where we wanted the event to be about the community of DJs we knew and thought should have more exposure.

Finally, I really liked all the music I heard, from the neo-psytrance sounds of Kirrill to the tech-infused house of Solar and Galen to the breakbeat I heard upstairs - in fact, we danced more at Pulse than I have since the Sunset party on New Year's Day. Perhaps it's just because I'm not that connected to these people, but this felt much less like a "scene" to me than a group of people coming together because they like to play music, dance, and party. After all, that's all raves were in the first place, and I for one would love to see that very basic spirit re-awaken through events like Pulse.

Bar Review: The Bar on Church

Those of you who've been reading this blog for a while probably already know what my opinion of The Transfer was, but for those don't, I regarded it as very possibly one of the worst places to hear DJ music in the entire city. It was laid out poorly, with half the patrons huddled over a bar on one side, and the other half trying to find some flow between the pool table, bench seating, and standing tables on the other. The sound was horrible, and way too loud to boot, and there was no place to just hang out and have a drink and a conversation. I stopped going to events there because, if they were good and crowded, you spent the whole night with a drink in your hand, constantly moving around to find a resting place, and if the night didn't go off, it felt like the shitty little dive that it was.

The Bar on Church, Greg Bronstein's replacement for The Bar on Castro, is a one hundred percent improvement over The Transfer, with great red lighting (very reminiscent of BOC), comfy padded banquette seating (ditto), and a layout of the bar along the long back wall instead of off to one side. The space feels balanced, comfortable and chic.

However, in continuing with the traditions of the Bar on Castro, the music is wholely mediocre. The boyfriend and I stopped in last Friday around nine as we were headed down to Pulse at Paradise Lounge, and after hearing the TingTings' "Great DJ (Calvin Harris Mix)" we thought, oh yeah, this could be good, only to bear witness to the playing of two Prince tracks within the span of 10 minutes, an electro mix of a Coldplay track, and a remix of "Circus" by Brittney Spears.

For a typical Castro bar, this is the kind of thing I'd expect, and at least there was a little innovation in the tracks we heard, but adhering to the usual formulas of lowest-common denominator dance music, a la 92.7, is not going to work for a bar that's off the beaten path. In the Bar on Castro you could get away with this sort of thing (and worse) because people weren't coming there for the music, they were coming there because of the location. With The Bar on Church, though, it's a destination, a place you have to go to on purpose, and you need something to draw people in there that's not just a replication of what they can more conveniently obtain at (shudder) Qbar, Badlands, The Cafe, or even Jet. The Transfer, though it was a dumpy hole, at least held out the promise of presenting innovative club nights, from Frisco Disco to Bender, where you could hear good music and dance. If the Bar on Church is going to be anything more than an out-of-the-way version of a Castro experience, it needs to return to the kind of innovative programming that The Transfer was developing a reputation for.