The Lowrider Scene Outside the Precita Center Toy Drive

Toy Drive

Toy Drive

Toy Drive

They held a charity toy drive at the Precita Valley Community Center last weekend, and a bunch of the fellas from a few of the local car and motorcycle clubs showed up to be charitable. Everyone was in good spirits — according to one attendee, “we all got to know each other while working on the movie” — and a colorful time was had by all.

Lots more photos, here.

Photos: Testar Logistics

Internet Is Killing Your Video Store: A Sobering SOS from Four Star Video on Cortland Street

Four Star Video
If there’s one thing we all learn while living on the slopes of a big hill, it is this: In the end, we cannot evade the forces of gravity.

Along the same lines, even though Bernalwood recently celebrated the fact that Cortland Street is still home to a wonderful video rental store, it’s now clear that Four Star is fighting a desperate battle against the forces of gravity (and intertia) which threaten to render it extinct.

This week, Ken posted a candid note on the Four Star Video blog, to the effect that times are tough — despite the fact that the store is much-loved by the neighborhood.

People of the planet, it is winter. Our constructs are disintegrating. Our financial systems are degrading. It is becoming more and more obvious that we are insects clamoring on top of each other for food. It is possible that the jig is up. Like the fate of the honeybees, our hives are corrupt and the buzz of activity is falling silent. Yet we rise to the occasion with positivity again and again! I admire that about us so much! Yet, alas, I am a bit pessimistic about Four Star Video, as I know so many of you are.

I read that even though Blockbuster has the same 28 day wait for Warner Brothers titles that Netflix has, they are still closing 182 stores in 2011 with a full bankruptcy and emergence from bankruptcy plan. Strangely, I don’t feel elation or anything about this. Just a somewhat distant numbness. What will happen with this industry?

Who likes a video store? Raise your hands. I know Four Star Video rules. I know we get crazy cool movies from all over the planet that you probably wouldn’t know about unless you saw them on our shelves. I know we have the only no-late-fee service in San Francisco. I know we spend more on movies than we probably should b/c we want to have as many copies as possible for new release Tuesday every week. I know we have the biggest Blu-ray section in SF with probably 6 or 700 titles. I know we are the only video/plant store on planet earth. Yet…I don’t sense we are what people want. […]

I put out that survey a few months ago, and I got 300ish results. They were fascinating! And almost exclusively positive. Yet, we are down 12% this year, after going down 8% the year before. So I think that though you love yourselves a video store, you also love free movies (bit torrent, the library), easy access movies, money be damned movies(on demand, cable), internet services (streaming) and the gentle tushy-growing ease of sitting on the couch.

By all means, read the whole thing. It’s bracing stuff. And if you find yourself with some downtime over the holidays, stop by Four Star to, you know, rent a movie and brighten their day. Please.

But at the same time, know that the clear-eyed candor of Four Star’s blog post has been echoed by other high-quality video stores around town. They are all struggling against similar forces of high-tech gravity and consumer inertia.

Not long ago, for example, I wrote about a similar cri de coeur from Lost Weekend video on Valencia. Lost Weekend’s tragicomic response to their bad situation was to revisit the lyrics to “Video Killed the Radio Star” and rewrite the song as “Internet Killed the Video Store.”

Internet Killed the Video Store?

By all means, please do what you can to keep Four Star in business. It is a precious — and increasingly rare — resource. And wish them good luck, because they will need it.

Photos: Telstar Logistics

Bernal Heights Milk Punch: Our Official Complicated Cocktail for Winter 2010

Erik Ellestad runs a sweet blog called Underhill Lounge that’s about “Cocktails, Food, and Gardening South of the Hill in Bernal Heights.” The cocktail part comes first because Erik is serious about his mixology — so serious, in fact, that he created a special cocktail for the 2010 holiday season called (wait for it…) Bernal  Heights Milk Punch.

Erik says, “It is a tasty punch, though a rather odd procedure.”

He’s not kidding about that. Near as I can tell, if you start right now, you might enjoy your first sip of Bernal Heights Milk Punch by 2011. But the name is swell, and it sure looks cocktailicious. Thanks Erik!

Bernal Heights Milk Punch, Holidays 2010

1 Bottle Osocalis Brandy
1/2 Bottle Batavia Arrack
1/3 Bottle Coruba Jamaican Rum
2/3 Bottle Barbancourt White Rum
Peel 4 Grapefruit
Peel 8 Lemon
Peel 1 Orange
2 teaspoon Cardamom Pods, crushed
2 teaspoon Coriander Seed, crushed
2 Cassia Cinnamon Sticks
20 oz Water
16 oz Sugar
4 tsp. Hubei Silver Tip Green Tea

1 Quart Straus Farms Whole Milk

Zest citrus and add zest to Brandy, Rums, and Arrack. Juice Oranges, Grapefruit and 6 Lemons, strain, and add to aforementioned liquid. Add Spices. Allow to infuse for at least 48 hours.

Heat water and add tea. Steep 6 minutes and stir in sugar. Strain tea leaves out of syrup and chill.

Strain Peels and Spices out of Liquid. Juice other two lemons and add to Flavored Booze Mixture. Heat milk to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Add to Flavored Booze Mixture. Allow to stand undisturbed for 30 minutes and filter through cheesecloth, removing milk solids. Add Tea Syrup to filtered booze mixture and pour into clean containers. Allow to stand for a couple days*. Rack clear liquid off of any accumulated sediment into clean bottles and store. Chill well before serving. Serve on ice and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. Makes about 3 quarts.

*If you have space in your refrigerator, storing the punch chilled will greatly accelerate the separation of the remaining milk solids from the other liquids.

What Kevin from Bernal Heights Wants Our Next Mayor to Do has compiled a collection of interviews that capture opinions on what San Franciscans want their next mayor to do.

Kevin was invited to represent Bernal Heights, and he represents with gusto:

I don’t like Chris Daly, and I don’t want Tom Ammiano. I get really tired of those progressives who only have one issue: the poor, the poor, the poor. Well, I’m a middle class guy who spent 19 years saving money to buy a house in San Francisco, and they don’t care about me. No one really cares about the middle class in San Francisco. You’re either really poor, or you’re really rich. The rest of us in San Francisco — no one really cares about us.

Nine Reasons Why Bernal Hill Is More Fun Than The Empire State Building

High Above the City



I was in New York last week for business.

I stayed at a hotel in midtown, so I decided to do something I’d never done before (despite having been born in Manhattan and raised in New Jersey): I went to visit the Empire State Building.

It was nice. But when you’re used to spending a lot of time at atop Bernal Hill, a trip to the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building can seem a little… well… meh.

It’s no secret that Bernal Hill and the Empire State Building have a lot in common: Both soar high above the urban fabric below. Both are topped with stylish radio antenna arrays. And both are glamorous icons that symbolize their respective cities.

Yet in the end, even though the Empire State Building is taller, I have to say I prefer Bernal Hill. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. You don’t have to stand in any lines to ascend Bernal Hill.
  2. No $20 tickets are required to go to the top of Bernal Hill.
  3. There is no airport-style security screening at Bernal Hill.
  4. Kite-flying is discouraged at the Empire State Building.
  5. California sunlight is typically brighter, sharper, and less hazy.
  6. No dogs are allowed in the Empire State Building (on- or off-leash).
  7. Bernal Hill does not attract giant, marauding gorillas.
  8. You don’t have to pass through a gift shop to depart Bernal Hill.
  9. You cannot descend from the Empire State Building in a soapbox derby car

I suspect there are a few more good reasons, so you can add them in the comments.

Photos: Telstar Logistics