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The Land Deeds They Are A-Changin'

Wednesday, Mar 22 2000
The Land Deeds They Are A-Changin' On March 27, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music will make a public announcement that will likely lay out its plans to purchase the spacious International Center at 50 Oak St. Michael Ward, one of 50 Oak's co-owners -- as well as owner of popular high-end recording space Hyde Street Studios -- said the sale is indeed happening, though he was unable to provide further details due to the usual last-minute legal tangles. He did mention, however, that he plans to hold a going-away party for "a lot of the local people who've worked here" on the 26th, just before the changeover. Conservatory spokesperson Ken Porter, stingy about details as well, neither confirmed nor denied the purchase, saying only that the school has been "looking at various locations" and that 50 Oak is a "strong contender." A sale to the Conservatory would take the school out of the Sunset campus building it's occupied since 1956, and would also likely put the kibosh on Hyde Street Studios' long-standing hope to move out of its Tenderloin home and into 50 Oak. It may also threaten many of the offbeat musical events that have called the International Center home, including the Anon Salon, Burning Man and H.E.A.R. benefits, and the odd dance and hip hop show, not to mention aikido, yoga, and dancing classes. More details as we get them ....

Filthy Lies About Dot-Coms and Clubland The SOMA Residents' Association (SOMARA) and the San Francisco Late Night Coalition (SFLNC), two organizations whose agendas have often been in conflict -- the SOMARA wants (among other things) peace and quiet, and the SFLNC wants (among other things) rights for after-hours music -- had little trouble hosting a civil welcoming meeting for new Southern Station Capt. Sylvia Harper last Wednesday night at the Arc. SFLNC steering committee head Sunshine Jones admitted, though, that it wasn't easy getting the meeting to happen, and SOMARA's Jim Meko confessed his own anxieties in a recent e-mail. "We still fear being outnumbered by nightclub proponents. But guess what? They're going through the same anguish. ... It does not have to be 'us vs. them' anymore."

Capt. Harper, for her part, presented a polite and equivocating face on a department that's been accused of both wrongfully cracking down on nightlife and of failing to serve the needs of residents. The SFLNC has long supported moving permitting out of the SFPD's jurisdiction and into a separate department; while Harper was supportive of the idea, she noted that "that takes a long time. Absent it leaving, we'll have to work with it in place." Harper also pledged support to the "Good Neighbor Policy" that respects the privacy of residents -- all in all, positioning herself as a supportive entity who's working short-staffed in a complex environment.

Not that one could expect otherwise at a community meeting -- how Harper's presence will play out in terms of clubs' survival in SOMA is a question only time can answer. Meanwhile, we're still sorting through the messages sent in response to last week's column, which in part suggested that we have some sort of problem with cover bands -- of course we do -- and cautioned us against believing in anything the Wall Street Journal has to say about San Francisco music. True, the Journal's op-ed pages are most easily digested if they're approached as a collection of humor columns, but Page One stories are another matter, and while we don't believe the Journal told the story about the changing local music scene, it did tell a story, and a valid one.

One of the messages received came from Brad Kopp, aka Stark Raving Brad, who tells us he was one of the people interviewed for the Journal article. "The angle that she [reporter Suein Hwang] took was just weak," he writes. "All we got was another cyberyuppie focus piece, even if it did make them look lame. She still didn't tell the 'why' of the story anywhere near adequately, but then again could I really expect the Wall Street Urinal to write about how their beloved money helped ruined SF's music scene?"

Church Notes Last week's benefit for the St. John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church pulled in approximately $10,000, according to one of the show's co-producers, Michelle Barnett. (SF Weekly staff writer Jack Boulware also helped produce the event.) The cash will cover renovations for the church's new site at Third and Gilman streets in the Bayview. See the Events section of our Calendar listings on Page 29 for more Coltrane Church-related events.

Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to, or mail them to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.

About The Author

Mark Athitakis


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