From the 2014 Photo Issue: “Corporate Art Is Gross”
For this year’s photography issue, Jamie Lee Curtis Taete installed some bland-looking pictures of gross stuff in corporate settings where they might pass as pleasant abstractions.
Above: Used Tampon, Bellagio, Las Vegas


Glass of Piss, Hampton Inn, Lake Havasu City, AZ

Used Condoms, Best Western, Wickenburg, AZ


Semen on Blue Paper, Peppermill Resort Spa Casino, Reno, NV

See the rest

From the 2014 Photo Issue: “Corporate Art Is Gross”

For this year’s photography issue, Jamie Lee Curtis Taete installed some bland-looking pictures of gross stuff in corporate settings where they might pass as pleasant abstractions.

Above: Used Tampon, Bellagio, Las Vegas

Glass of Piss, Hampton Inn, Lake Havasu City, AZ

Used Condoms, Best Western, Wickenburg, AZ

Semen on Blue Paper, Peppermill Resort Spa Casino, Reno, NV

See the rest

Only Blog Can Judge Me: The Tupac Musical 'Holler if Ya Hear Me' Is a Buzzfeed Listicle on Broadway
I grew up in basements. Eating pepperoni Hot Pockets and playing SEGA Dreamcast. Staring at buddy lists and Kazaa progress bars. Waiting for nine-minute scenes of Jenna Jameson, blonde and smooth and ferocious, a carnivore and an angel simultaneously, crawling toward a hard dick, mouth half-open, sweaty hairs stuck to her temples, giving orders and begging for more, wiping cum off of her eyelids.
My friend’s dad worked late at a factory that manufactured tampons. Sometimes we took lacquer from the garage and poured it into his dad’s empty beer bottles. We took off our socks and shoved them into the bottles and lit the socks on fire. Sometimes the bottles were the Smirnoff Ice his stepmom drank. My friend said only pussies and girls drank Smirnoff Ice. I wondered if there was an identity one could have in high school besides pussy or girl or god or janitor. I wondered if I would like Smirnoff Ice. Then we threw the bottles against the stone wall behind the house and watched them explode.
I went home and fell asleep on the couch. The next day I told people I’d been reading something by a dead guy who was Danish or Russian or had a mustache. Usually I was still eating Hot Pockets. Here was high school: shameless deception; processed carbohydrates; surrendering to beautiful women; destroying things simply to be reminded that I was not the only thing that could be destroyed.
And I listened to Tupac at high volumes. 
Continue

Only Blog Can Judge Me: The Tupac Musical 'Holler if Ya Hear Me' Is a Buzzfeed Listicle on Broadway

I grew up in basements. Eating pepperoni Hot Pockets and playing SEGA Dreamcast. Staring at buddy lists and Kazaa progress bars. Waiting for nine-minute scenes of Jenna Jameson, blonde and smooth and ferocious, a carnivore and an angel simultaneously, crawling toward a hard dick, mouth half-open, sweaty hairs stuck to her temples, giving orders and begging for more, wiping cum off of her eyelids.

My friend’s dad worked late at a factory that manufactured tampons. Sometimes we took lacquer from the garage and poured it into his dad’s empty beer bottles. We took off our socks and shoved them into the bottles and lit the socks on fire. Sometimes the bottles were the Smirnoff Ice his stepmom drank. My friend said only pussies and girls drank Smirnoff Ice. I wondered if there was an identity one could have in high school besides pussy or girl or god or janitor. I wondered if I would like Smirnoff Ice. Then we threw the bottles against the stone wall behind the house and watched them explode.

I went home and fell asleep on the couch. The next day I told people I’d been reading something by a dead guy who was Danish or Russian or had a mustache. Usually I was still eating Hot Pockets. Here was high school: shameless deception; processed carbohydrates; surrendering to beautiful women; destroying things simply to be reminded that I was not the only thing that could be destroyed.

And I listened to Tupac at high volumes. 

Continue

Some Genius Is Kickstarting a ‘Breaking Bad’ Sequel Starring Val Kilmer and Slash
Did you recently waste money on an ironic Kickstarter campaign to make potato salad? Well, first, Paypal used the money you apparently can’t wait to get rid of. Secondly, fuck irony. There are people out there with actual, worthwhile goals that need help funding. 
For instance, a Van Nuys–based producer’s bold project to make a Breaking Bad sequel series starring Val Kilmer and Slash as the cops who recovered Walter White’s body. No, he doesn’t have the rights to Breaking Bad, nor has he received a commitment from Kilmer or Slash. But when Lawrence Shepherd saw the series finale, in which two cops drag Walter White’s body away, he knew that he was the guy to tell those cops’ story. All the other pieces will fall into place.
It’s a pipe dream, sure. (Not least because only $143 of the $500,000 goal has been raised.) But, still! What’s the value of life without dreams? Who gives a shit about the second season of True Detective when there’s the (remote) possibility of Val Kilmer and Slash tracking down a not-dead Walter White?
We called up first-time producer Lawrence Shepherd to learn more about his Breaking Badspinoff, which he’s calling Anastasia. 
VICE: The show has an intriguing premise, to say the least. Where’d the idea come from?Lawrence Shepherd: For the last six years or so, I was getting very critical of the writing on shows. Then I saw one of the last episodes of Breaking Bad—remember when Jesse came into Walter White’s house with the gasoline can and he was going to burn it down?
Yeah.There was a sequence when Jesse looks down the hallway, and the two doors were closed. I thought, Junior’s in there. Junior’s in there with the baby, he’s going to come out, wrestle with Jesse, and something’s going to happen. Junior’s the only one who hasn’t broke bad in the whole show. It didn’t happen, and I was a little disappointed.
I like the way Breaking Bad ended, but I think they could have done better. That’s when I just started writing.
Seems like you’d have to worry about copyright issues…Of course. You have to watch the uniqueness. Remember the last episode, the machine gun rotating back and forth in the Cadillac? Very unique. I can’t use it. The dead guy in the recliner chair going up and down? Very unique, couldn’t use it.
But other than that, nothing there is copyright or trademark available. A guy dead on the floor? My God, that’s been done a bazillion times. Police responding to an issue? It’s been done a bazillion times.
We’re not going to be confrontative with Sony and Vince Gilligan if they say no. We are filming the pilot independent of Breaking Bad, so if they do say no, we’re ready to go with our own show.
Continue

Some Genius Is Kickstarting a ‘Breaking Bad’ Sequel Starring Val Kilmer and Slash

Did you recently waste money on an ironic Kickstarter campaign to make potato salad? Well, first, Paypal used the money you apparently can’t wait to get rid of. Secondly, fuck irony. There are people out there with actual, worthwhile goals that need help funding. 

For instance, a Van Nuys–based producer’s bold project to make a Breaking Bad sequel series starring Val Kilmer and Slash as the cops who recovered Walter White’s body. No, he doesn’t have the rights to Breaking Bad, nor has he received a commitment from Kilmer or Slash. But when Lawrence Shepherd saw the series finale, in which two cops drag Walter White’s body away, he knew that he was the guy to tell those cops’ story. All the other pieces will fall into place.

It’s a pipe dream, sure. (Not least because only $143 of the $500,000 goal has been raised.) But, still! What’s the value of life without dreams? Who gives a shit about the second season of True Detective when there’s the (remote) possibility of Val Kilmer and Slash tracking down a not-dead Walter White?

We called up first-time producer Lawrence Shepherd to learn more about his Breaking Badspinoff, which he’s calling Anastasia. 

VICE: The show has an intriguing premise, to say the least. Where’d the idea come from?
Lawrence Shepherd: For the last six years or so, I was getting very critical of the writing on shows. Then I saw one of the last episodes of Breaking Bad—remember when Jesse came into Walter White’s house with the gasoline can and he was going to burn it down?

Yeah.
There was a sequence when Jesse looks down the hallway, and the two doors were closed. I thought, Junior’s in there. Junior’s in there with the baby, he’s going to come out, wrestle with Jesse, and something’s going to happen. Junior’s the only one who hasn’t broke bad in the whole show. It didn’t happen, and I was a little disappointed.

I like the way Breaking Bad ended, but I think they could have done better. That’s when I just started writing.

Seems like you’d have to worry about copyright issues…
Of course. You have to watch the uniqueness. Remember the last episode, the machine gun rotating back and forth in the Cadillac? Very unique. I can’t use it. The dead guy in the recliner chair going up and down? Very unique, couldn’t use it.

But other than that, nothing there is copyright or trademark available. A guy dead on the floor? My God, that’s been done a bazillion times. Police responding to an issue? It’s been done a bazillion times.

We’re not going to be confrontative with Sony and Vince Gilligan if they say no. We are filming the pilot independent of Breaking Bad, so if they do say no, we’re ready to go with our own show.

Continue

Why and How to Leave Facebook
Nick Briz is a Chicago-based new media artist, educator, and organizer. Briz teaches at the Marwen Foundation and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has shown his work internationally, and is the co-founder of the GLI.TC/H conference. While all of that is undeniably impressive, I must say I knew Briz was a genius when I first saw, “Apple Computers,” a powerful affront against Apple and a manifesto for the prosumer of our age. So, when Briz made “How To / Why Leave Facebook,” a piece about leaving Facebook, I knew I should pay attention. 
 
I recently left Facebook as well, but I was uninterested in any self-congratulatory artwork or dramatic fuck-you to the social platform. I hadn’t enjoyed my time on Facebook for a while, but Facebook had been such a large part of my life for 9 years. I don’t buy most complaints about it “not being real life,” or some useless addiction. As the largest social network in the world, Facebook is very much a part of real life, I just hadn’t felt like I was benefitting from that part of my life.   
 
My vague discontentedness with Facebook finally reached a boiling point in light of theiremotional contagion study. The highly controversial academic study was recently published, and it claims that Facebook had secretly manipulated the emotional state of nearly 700,000 of its users. I understood that Facebook’s main purpose is to make advertising dollars from it’s users, but this felt excessively creepy. And as VICE News has already reported, one of the study’s researches received funding from the Minerva initiative—helping the Pentagon study and quell social unrest—that made it all the more creepy. Yet I knew Briz would offer some insight beyond the most recent headlines. 
Continue

Why and How to Leave Facebook

Nick Briz is a Chicago-based new media artist, educator, and organizer. Briz teaches at the Marwen Foundation and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has shown his work internationally, and is the co-founder of the GLI.TC/H conference. While all of that is undeniably impressive, I must say I knew Briz was a genius when I first saw, “Apple Computers,” a powerful affront against Apple and a manifesto for the prosumer of our age. So, when Briz made “How To / Why Leave Facebook,” a piece about leaving Facebook, I knew I should pay attention. 
 
I recently left Facebook as well, but I was uninterested in any self-congratulatory artwork or dramatic fuck-you to the social platform. I hadn’t enjoyed my time on Facebook for a while, but Facebook had been such a large part of my life for 9 years. I don’t buy most complaints about it “not being real life,” or some useless addiction. As the largest social network in the world, Facebook is very much a part of real life, I just hadn’t felt like I was benefitting from that part of my life.   
 
My vague discontentedness with Facebook finally reached a boiling point in light of theiremotional contagion study. The highly controversial academic study was recently published, and it claims that Facebook had secretly manipulated the emotional state of nearly 700,000 of its users. I understood that Facebook’s main purpose is to make advertising dollars from it’s users, but this felt excessively creepy. And as VICE News has already reported, one of the study’s researches received funding from the Minerva initiative—helping the Pentagon study and quell social unrest—that made it all the more creepy. Yet I knew Briz would offer some insight beyond the most recent headlines. 

Continue

We Interviewed Paris Hilton, the Most Underrated Pop Star of All Time
Read our conversation about her music career, Hillary Clinton, business, Cash Money Records, unicorns, Farrah Abraham, and personal brand maintenance.

We Interviewed Paris Hilton, the Most Underrated Pop Star of All Time

Read our conversation about her music career, Hillary Clinton, business, Cash Money Records, unicorns, Farrah Abraham, and personal brand maintenance.

Matthew Lesko’s Life Lessons

VICE meets Matthew Lesko, the self-proclaimed federal grant researcher and infomercial personality who made it big in his “question mark” suit. He has written more than 20 books telling people how to get money from the US government.
Watch

Matthew Lesko’s Life Lessons

VICE meets Matthew Lesko, the self-proclaimed federal grant researcher and infomercial personality who made it big in his “question mark” suit. He has written more than 20 books telling people how to get money from the US government.

Watch

In a recent article, VICE News speculated that the Department of Justice’s initiative Operation Choke Point may be putting pressure on banks like Chase to terminate the accounts of several high-profile porn performers, including Teagan Presley, Stoya, and Chanel Preston. On Twitter many other porn performers claimed that their accounts were being closed, and that they had been offered little explanation beyond being labeled “high risk.” An insider at Wells Fargo responded, “We encourage these industry workers to come to us,” according to TMZ. By the time Mother Jones was pushing back with a “Chase representative” claiming that Choke Point was notsingling out people in the porn industry, I was exasperated.

By and large, these articles failed to mention the fact that sex workers like myself are shut out of institutions every single day. Whorephobia, the fear and hatred of sex workers, is one of the very first things every single sex worker learns how to navigate.

Whether the work we do is criminalized or legal, all sex workers are subject to judgment. This judgment usually stems from sexist double standards, transmisogyny, and a general moral panic about sexuality. Ironically, we are often punished as we attempt to assimilate into “legitimate” society.

After clients pay us in cash, many of us declare the payment, filing taxes as freelance entertainers. Some strip clubs give us W-9 forms, and some porn companies send us 1099s. If we are shut out of banks, we must go to check cashing middlemen who charge exorbitant fees. We can’t book plane tickets or sign leases, putting that money back into the economy.

Continue

Why Do So Many Soft Drinks Taste Like Teletubby Blood?
I don’t drink soda very often. It’s not that I don’t like it; it’s just that after age 12 I never felt like having more than a shot of it every now and then. Soft drinks are designed for children with tiny, discerning pallets, unimpressed with the flavors provided by actual food. That said, some of the tastes in these beverages exist only inside of their cans and cannot be found anywhere else in the whole world. It’s like a Willy Wonka land of weird water, and who would be such a fool as to not sometimes dunk their tongue in the chemical concoctions and see what’s good?
I decided to veer away from the recognizable labels and see what life is like on the wild side of the soda pop biz.
Kill Cliff
15 calories per 12 fl oz/12 g sugar
Kill Cliff calls itself a “Recovery Drink,” or, rather, “THE Recovery Drink,” being conceptually healthy in that it is “naturally sweetened” and only 15 calories a can. I found it over with the Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, like maybe it’s strategically placed next to the high-end shit to make you think it’s good, a can of cola all on its own. The text on the side of the can claims that the drink was “developed by a former US Navy Seal” to “improve endurance and speed recovery.” It’s unclear who the Seal was, and why he thought “Kill Cliff” would be a good name for a revitalization beverage. They also employ the tagline “Test Positive for Awesome,” which is maybe closer to an AIDS joke than should be on a can of soda.
The first sip reminds me of if Sweet Tarts were a liquid and strained through a pair of men’s briefs after a short doubles’ tennis match in a domed arena. It’s all puckery and buzzing around the edges, and when it hits the back of the throat it immediately provides the feeling of having recently barfed. This post-barf expression kind of kneads its way back and forth across the tongue and palate like electricity. I take a second sip to cover up the first, and the buzzing strain appears again, redoubled. I kind of already have a headache.
As I get deeper into the can, my brain becomes warm. It feels like my head is flooding with acid, and I can only tolerate the sensation by drinking so fast I can’t taste anything. When I stop my head is spinning, and I feel full of gasoline.
I might recommend Kill Cliff to remove paint or to dissolve the bars on a prison cell, but as far as liquid designed to go inside my body is concerned, no. 

Marley’s Mellow Mood (Berry Flavor)
165 calories per 12 fl oz/29 g sugar
Sniffing the edge of the can’s mouth before I take a swig, I get the full bouquet of chemical fruit fun, suggesting what I’m about to drink is again going to come from the “Sick Fake Candy” food group. So I’m shocked when the liquid hits my lips and the first thing I think is actually, Hey, this IS smooth! Maybe it’s the dead rock icon on the can with the marijuana colors that brainwashed me into this feeling, though more likely it’s how, compared to Kill Cliff, this shit is like white sturgeon caviar. More watered-down Hawaiian Punch than actual soda, there is also a delicate flavor similar to the air in a bong shop lurking just behind the first curve of berry. The mixture is confusing, hairy, seemingly as unsure of itself as I am of it, but at least I don’t want to do an immediate spit-take.
Continue

Why Do So Many Soft Drinks Taste Like Teletubby Blood?

I don’t drink soda very often. It’s not that I don’t like it; it’s just that after age 12 I never felt like having more than a shot of it every now and then. Soft drinks are designed for children with tiny, discerning pallets, unimpressed with the flavors provided by actual food. That said, some of the tastes in these beverages exist only inside of their cans and cannot be found anywhere else in the whole world. It’s like a Willy Wonka land of weird water, and who would be such a fool as to not sometimes dunk their tongue in the chemical concoctions and see what’s good?

I decided to veer away from the recognizable labels and see what life is like on the wild side of the soda pop biz.

Kill Cliff

15 calories per 12 fl oz/12 g sugar

Kill Cliff calls itself a “Recovery Drink,” or, rather, “THE Recovery Drink,” being conceptually healthy in that it is “naturally sweetened” and only 15 calories a can. I found it over with the Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, like maybe it’s strategically placed next to the high-end shit to make you think it’s good, a can of cola all on its own. The text on the side of the can claims that the drink was “developed by a former US Navy Seal” to “improve endurance and speed recovery.” It’s unclear who the Seal was, and why he thought “Kill Cliff” would be a good name for a revitalization beverage. They also employ the tagline “Test Positive for Awesome,” which is maybe closer to an AIDS joke than should be on a can of soda.

The first sip reminds me of if Sweet Tarts were a liquid and strained through a pair of men’s briefs after a short doubles’ tennis match in a domed arena. It’s all puckery and buzzing around the edges, and when it hits the back of the throat it immediately provides the feeling of having recently barfed. This post-barf expression kind of kneads its way back and forth across the tongue and palate like electricity. I take a second sip to cover up the first, and the buzzing strain appears again, redoubled. I kind of already have a headache.

As I get deeper into the can, my brain becomes warm. It feels like my head is flooding with acid, and I can only tolerate the sensation by drinking so fast I can’t taste anything. When I stop my head is spinning, and I feel full of gasoline.

I might recommend Kill Cliff to remove paint or to dissolve the bars on a prison cell, but as far as liquid designed to go inside my body is concerned, no. 

Marley’s Mellow Mood (Berry Flavor)

165 calories per 12 fl oz/29 g sugar

Sniffing the edge of the can’s mouth before I take a swig, I get the full bouquet of chemical fruit fun, suggesting what I’m about to drink is again going to come from the “Sick Fake Candy” food group. So I’m shocked when the liquid hits my lips and the first thing I think is actually, Hey, this IS smooth! Maybe it’s the dead rock icon on the can with the marijuana colors that brainwashed me into this feeling, though more likely it’s how, compared to Kill Cliff, this shit is like white sturgeon caviar. More watered-down Hawaiian Punch than actual soda, there is also a delicate flavor similar to the air in a bong shop lurking just behind the first curve of berry. The mixture is confusing, hairy, seemingly as unsure of itself as I am of it, but at least I don’t want to do an immediate spit-take.

Continue

This 16-Year-Old Made an App That Exposes Sellout Politicians
With US politics swimming in so much corporate money that it’s pretty much an oligarchy, it can be hard to keep track of which particular set of lobbyists is trying to milk more cash out of healthcare, fossil fuels and other very important issues from one week to the next.
But thanks to 16-year-old Nick Rubin, keeping track of just how much politicians have sold out has become a lot easier. He created Greenhouse, a new browser plugin which operates under the motto, “Some are red. Some are blue. All are green.” The plugin aims “to shine light on a social and industrial disease of today: the undue influence of money in our Congress.” It sounds like a bit of a lofty aim for an app, but it’s actually pretty simple and effective—it provides a break down of a politician’s campaign contributions when that politician’s name comes up in an article. It is currently available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari and is completely free. As you can imagine, reading about how your Member of Congress voted in a recent health bill becomes all the more enlightening if you know how much money the health industry showered him in at the last election.
I spoke to Nick Rubin about the plugin, politics and what he calls the “money stories” behind what you read in the news.

VICE: Hi Nick. So how did you come up with the idea for Greenhouse?Nick Rubin: Back in seventh grade, I gave a presentation on corporate personhood and ever since then I’ve been really interested in that issue. I think the one problem is that the sources of income for members of congress haven’t been simple and easily accessible when people have needed it. More recently, I’ve been teaching myself how to code and I thought that something like Greenhouse that puts the data at people’s fingertips would be a perfect solution. It really is the intersection of these two passions of mine—coding and politics. I made it after school and on weekends on my computer.
Why the name?Well, green is the color of money in the US, and house refers to the two houses of Congress [the Senate and House of Representatives]. The name also implies transparency; greenhouses are see through and they are built to help things thrive.
Where did you get the information on the politician’s donations?It uses the data from the last full election cycle which was 2012. This is simply because it’s just the most complete set of data that we have. But, the browser does provide access to the most up to date 2014 information by just clicking the name of the politician on the top of the window or theOpenSecrets.org link in the popup. So the 2014 data is just one click away.
I’m intending to update the data as a whole later in the election cycle as the 2014 contributions are more complete. These are updates I’m currently working on, as well as thinking of other ways I can expand the tool.
Continue

This 16-Year-Old Made an App That Exposes Sellout Politicians

With US politics swimming in so much corporate money that it’s pretty much an oligarchy, it can be hard to keep track of which particular set of lobbyists is trying to milk more cash out of healthcare, fossil fuels and other very important issues from one week to the next.

But thanks to 16-year-old Nick Rubin, keeping track of just how much politicians have sold out has become a lot easier. He created Greenhouse, a new browser plugin which operates under the motto, “Some are red. Some are blue. All are green.” The plugin aims “to shine light on a social and industrial disease of today: the undue influence of money in our Congress.” It sounds like a bit of a lofty aim for an app, but it’s actually pretty simple and effective—it provides a break down of a politician’s campaign contributions when that politician’s name comes up in an article. It is currently available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari and is completely free. As you can imagine, reading about how your Member of Congress voted in a recent health bill becomes all the more enlightening if you know how much money the health industry showered him in at the last election.

I spoke to Nick Rubin about the plugin, politics and what he calls the “money stories” behind what you read in the news.

VICE: Hi Nick. So how did you come up with the idea for Greenhouse?
Nick Rubin: Back in seventh grade, I gave a presentation on corporate personhood and ever since then I’ve been really interested in that issue. I think the one problem is that the sources of income for members of congress haven’t been simple and easily accessible when people have needed it. More recently, I’ve been teaching myself how to code and I thought that something like Greenhouse that puts the data at people’s fingertips would be a perfect solution. It really is the intersection of these two passions of mine—coding and politics. I made it after school and on weekends on my computer.

Why the name?
Well, green is the color of money in the US, and house refers to the two houses of Congress [the Senate and House of Representatives]. The name also implies transparency; greenhouses are see through and they are built to help things thrive.

Where did you get the information on the politician’s donations?
It uses the data from the last full election cycle which was 2012. This is simply because it’s just the most complete set of data that we have. But, the browser does provide access to the most up to date 2014 information by just clicking the name of the politician on the top of the window or theOpenSecrets.org link in the popup. So the 2014 data is just one click away.

I’m intending to update the data as a whole later in the election cycle as the 2014 contributions are more complete. These are updates I’m currently working on, as well as thinking of other ways I can expand the tool.

Continue

How to Be a Landlord in San Francisco
A fact about Frisco living is that we deal with a predictable litany of questions when we encounter someone from outside our urban womb: “You’re from San Francisco? How are the gays?” Or: “You’re from San Francisco? How are the earthquakes?” 
But nowadays, instead, I get: “You’re from San Francisco? How are the evictions?” Evictions are the new earthquakes.
These days, San Francisco’s gonzo housing market is international knowledge. And yet, an unspoken truth about San Francisco housing is that the easiest job in the world is to be a landlord here. On the list of easy jobs, it edges out press secretary for the Secret Service, where the only words you ever get to say are, “That’s classified.”  
I would know what an easy job it is because I am a San Francisco landlord. That’s why I started Small Property Owners for Reasonable Control as a PAC of insignificant landlords. We are small landlords (we own four or fewer rental units), and we support tenant protections, rent control, and limits on evictions because, as landlords, we know we’ve got it way too good.
Ten years ago, I bought a house in North Bernal with an in-law unit using a down payment I inherited and a mortgage I shouldn’t have been allowed to get. You know the kind of mortgage that caused the housing bubble and wrecked the world economy? I had one. Then, through no acumen of my own, my neighborhood became the Hottest Real Estate Neighborhood in America™. I got out of my sketchy mortgage and into a low-rate 30-year fixed because my home value rode a wave of appreciation fueled by the relentless power of startup pixie dust and tech VC hot air.
Now, because it is so groovy and desirable and close to the Google (and Apple and Yahoo and Genentech and Facebook) buses, no one I know can afford to live in my neighborhood. So instead of having friends nearby, I get to charge obscenely high rent. I don’t want to charge obscenely high rent. I’d rather have friends.
Continue

How to Be a Landlord in San Francisco

A fact about Frisco living is that we deal with a predictable litany of questions when we encounter someone from outside our urban womb: “You’re from San Francisco? How are the gays?” Or: “You’re from San Francisco? How are the earthquakes?” 

But nowadays, instead, I get: “You’re from San Francisco? How are the evictions?” Evictions are the new earthquakes.

These days, San Francisco’s gonzo housing market is international knowledge. And yet, an unspoken truth about San Francisco housing is that the easiest job in the world is to be a landlord here. On the list of easy jobs, it edges out press secretary for the Secret Service, where the only words you ever get to say are, “That’s classified.”  

I would know what an easy job it is because I am a San Francisco landlord. That’s why I started Small Property Owners for Reasonable Control as a PAC of insignificant landlords. We are small landlords (we own four or fewer rental units), and we support tenant protections, rent control, and limits on evictions because, as landlords, we know we’ve got it way too good.

Ten years ago, I bought a house in North Bernal with an in-law unit using a down payment I inherited and a mortgage I shouldn’t have been allowed to get. You know the kind of mortgage that caused the housing bubble and wrecked the world economy? I had one. Then, through no acumen of my own, my neighborhood became the Hottest Real Estate Neighborhood in America™. I got out of my sketchy mortgage and into a low-rate 30-year fixed because my home value rode a wave of appreciation fueled by the relentless power of startup pixie dust and tech VC hot air.

Now, because it is so groovy and desirable and close to the Google (and Apple and Yahoo and Genentech and Facebook) buses, no one I know can afford to live in my neighborhood. So instead of having friends nearby, I get to charge obscenely high rent. I don’t want to charge obscenely high rent. I’d rather have friends.

Continue

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