Tonight: Bernal Dads Star as Crash Test Dummies on BBC’s “Mud, Sweat and Gears”

Masonbst

RF MS&Ge

If you’re a fan of the astonishingly popular BBC car show Top Gear, you probably know that Jeremy Clarkson, one of the presenters of the show, was suspended last week for getting into a scuffle with one of the Top Gear producers. And while Jeremy Clarkson is suspended, Top Gear is off the air.

This has created a unique celebrity opportunity for two Bernal Heights residents affiliated with the Bernal Dads Racing team. Many months ago, BBC America came looking for two crash-test dummies volunteers to participate in the filming of a pilot episode for a new TV show. The Bernal Dads – Neighbor Mason Kirby from Mullen and Neighbor Robert Freedman of Elsie – foolishly offered to participate.

Even more foolishly, the BBC signed them up to be in the show, which is called (… wait for it…) Mud, Sweat, and Gears.

Here’s how Variety describes it:

BBC America has given the green light to the new vehicle transformation series “Mud, Sweat and Gears,” hosted by UK car journos Tom ‘Wookie’ Ford and Jonny Smith. The hour-long spot will be produced by BBC Worldwide Productions for BBC America and BBC Worldwide’s new Brit channel.

In each of the eight unscripted episodes, daredevils Ford and Smith both captain a team of two fellow car enthusiasts and are given 24 hours to mutate, supersize or reconstruct ordinary vehicles to compete in stunt challenges.

Anyway, for the last few weeks,  Mud, Sweat, and Gears has aired immediately after Top Gear on BBC America. And tonight, the episode that stars Neighbor Mason and Neighbor Rob is finally set to air.

But with Jeremy Clarkson still in the dock and Top Gear on hiatus, this might be just the opportunity these two dashing Bernal Dads need to fill the void that now exists in our Top Gear-starved planet:

masonrobertbbc

The show airs tonight, March 16 on BBC America at 10 pm.

Here’s a preview. Neighbor Mason and Neighbor Rob ended up driving a mutant gold Pontiac Aztec, and apparently, they’re not very good at opening the doors:

 

Bernal Heights Journalists R00Led the New York Times Magazine. Again.

weil.mooallem

It isn‘t the first time this has happened, but if you happened to peruse last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, you might have noticed that the feature well was once again dominated by a pair of Bernal Heights writers. This edition featured two of Bernal’s most glamorous literary-journalism superstars: Neighbor Liz Weil and Neighbor Jon Mooallem, both of Ellsworth.

Neighbor Liz’s article is a profile of teenage running prodigy Mary Cain:

The 800 [meter] is a crushing race. Runners go out hard, then try to hang on to the pace in a showcase of will. Through the first six and a half laps of that eight-lap relay, the announcer called the event gamely, like a horse race — “Bishop Guertin! Bronxville! Achilles!” — playing up the tension, implying that anybody could win. But shortly after Cain took the baton, the race became disorienting. Everybody was running one speed and Cain — eyes down, body tilted forward — was running at another. Like watching a turntable with one record spinning at 33⅓ r.p.m. and another at 45 r.p.m., it scrambled the brain. Cain completed her first lap in 58 seconds, only half a second slower than Roger Bannister ran his first lap at Oxford on May 6, 1954, when he became the first man to break the four-minute mile. The announcer, flabbergasted, began shouting: “Bronxville! Mary Cain! Bronxville! Mary Cain!” at irregular intervals. She ran her 800 meters in 2:03.74.

Immediately following that… as part of his excellent, ongoing investigation into oddball ways that humans relate to wild animals, Neighbor Jon tells the sordid tale of Arlan Galbraith,  a man who turned pigeon breeding into a multimillion dollar Ponzi scheme:

Pigeon King International sold breeding pairs of pigeons to farmers with a guarantee to buy back their offspring at fixed prices for 10 years. Initially, Galbraith told farmers that the birds were high-end racing pigeons and that he planned to sell the offspring to the lucrative markets that support the sport overseas. Later, Galbraith changed his story, telling farmers that the birds were part of his trailblazing plan to elevate pigeon meat, known as squab, from a fringe delicacy in North America into the next ubiquitous chicken. But in the end, “they were neither,” the prosecutor said; Galbraith never sold a single pigeon for sport or meat. He seemed to have merely taken the young birds he bought from Pigeon King International farmers and resold them, as breeding pairs, to other Pigeon King International farmers, shuttling pigeons from one barn to another. And this meant continually recruiting new investors so he would have the cash to buy the pigeons his existing investors produced every month. When Galbraith’s scheme finally fell apart, Pigeon King International had almost a thousand breeders under contract in five Canadian provinces and 20 U.S. states. He’d taken nearly $42 million from farmers and walked away from obligations to buy back $356 million worth of their baby birds, ruining many of those investors.

PHOTO: New York Times magazine table of contents, March 8, 2015 by Telstar Logistics

Bernal Literary Celeb Jandy Nelson Wins Fabulous 2015 Printz Medal

JandyWin

Bernal Heights is thick with literary celebrities. You pretty much can’t throw a rock on our little rock without hitting someone who’s written a few brilliant books, or gotten some rave reviews, or won a closet full of writerly prizes. Because that’s the kind of glamorous we are.

So here’s a hot celebrity tip: The newest, most glamorous Bernal Heights literary superstar is Bernal neighbor Jandy Nelson.

Neighbor Jandy’s acclaimed young-adult novel, “I’ll Give You the Sun,” just won the Michael L. Printz Award, which “honors the best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit.”

Publisher’s Weekly (!!) describes the awesome tale of how she learned about the accolade:

Jandy Nelson had to keep a very big secret – for two whole days. Last Saturday she found out she’d won the Michael L. Printz Award for her second novel, I’ll Give You the Sun, but the announcements were not being made until Monday. “I was so taken by surprise when they called,” Nelson said, reached by phone at her home in San Francisco. “They must have thought they were giving the award to a raving lunatic. I remember hearing it was the Printz Committee, and then I started screaming. I remember they were all clapping, and that made me burst into tears. They said a lot of nice things about my book, and I screamed some more. It was one of the happiest, most exciting moments of my life.”

I’ll Give You the Sun is told through the alternating perspectives of twins Noah and Jude, which thread their way to the event that drove the once-close siblings apart. The author says the book took her three and a half years to complete. “It was very much like writing three novels in total,” she said. “I wrote Noah’s story start to finish, and I locked the file [that contained] Jude’s story. Then I wrote Jude’s story start to finish. I didn’t want their voices to blend. And I wanted each story to have its own propulsion so it would work when I combined them. Then the last year I spent interweaving their stories, and working on the book as a whole.”

Citizens of Bernalwood, you know the drill: If you see Neighbor Jandy in the ‘hood, please give her some robust congrats and make sure she gets a big high-five.

Watch What Bernal Rockstar Matt Nathanson Did During His Recent Trip to Peru

matt.peru.grab

Bernal Heights neighbor and rockstar next door Matt Nathanson has had a very busy year. A new album, a big tour, lots of travel… you know, rockstar stuff.  Somehow, however, he managed to squeeze in some pro bono work with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, an organization that provides assistance to hearing-impaired people around the world.

So when Neighbor Matt went to Peru recently, it was all about lending a hand with the Starkey Foundation. On his own website, Matt writes:

i joined a trip to huancayo, peru with some folks from starkey hearing foundation. our job was to fit people with hearing aids if they needed them. the company provided the devices and their service for free. they do this all around the world. i was one of the many volunteers.

i’ve been trying to write a short piece about my experience for weeks now. it’s been really hard. words kinda fail it.

if i didn’t have my hearing, i wouldn’t have music. and if i didn’t have music, i definitely wouldn’t have survived my childhood. listening to albums and seeing bands and being connected to songs was EVERYTHING to me. it still is. it makes me feel not alone. it helps me transcend my broken brain. in fact, the only reason i play music is because i love it so much. i couldn’t stay on the sidelines, i HAVE to be a part of it.

going to peru was super heavy. the people were incredible. to be in service to them, to assist in connecting them to their kids laughter, to their parents voices, to MUSIC!… it was completely humbling. and overwhelming. i felt love and gratitude towards other human beings on a level i’ve never experienced.

see? it’s really hard to put into words… so i’m glad we shot footage and made a video while we were there. it does a WAY better job explaining than i ever could.

Matt’s newest song and video are all about his time in Peru. And when you see it, it’s easy to understand why the experience was so powerful, and so difficult to put into words. Because here’s what Neighbor Matt did during his recent visit to Peru:

Matt adds:

100% of artist and label proceeds from this video are being donated to Starkey Hearing Foundation. For more information on how you can help, go to headphones.starkeyhearingfoundation.org

Bernal Celebrity Blogger Interviews Bernal Celebrity Music Impresario

pesco.kurland.bernal.2

Here’s some hot hot hot Bernal celebrity-on-celebrity action action action!

You did know that David Pescovitz, celebrity blogger with the intergalactically famous BoingBoing blog, lives in Bernal Heights, right? Well, it’s true. He does.

And you already know that local music meta-star Jordan Kurland lives in Bernal Heights, too? It’s true. He does. Neighbor Jordan is the creative force behind many of San Francisco’s much-beloved music events, including NoisePop and this weekend’s gigantic  Treasure Island Music Festival. His Zeitgeist Artist Management also manages bands like Best Coast, Bob Mould, The New Pornographers, Rogue Wave, She & Him, and Thao & The Get Down Stay Down.

Because they are neighbors, Neighbor David and Neighbor Jordan have become friends. This week, David interviewed Jordan to get an insider’s perspective on the state of the music biz. A local-flavored excerpt:

[Neighbor David]: As a manager, it seems like you’d be living in Los Angeles or New York City. But yet you came to SF and never left. Why?

[Neighbor Jordan]:I moved to San Francisco in 1995 for a job. I was nearly a year out of college and knew that I wanted to try to be a manager. I was living in Los Angeles and answering phones for the performance rights organization, ASCAP. It was the typical entry level music industry job and not easy to land. I went on four interviews before I was hired. If I had stayed on that path I would have answered phones for a year or so, then become an assistant, and then, eventually, a membership director. All of which would have been cool, it’s just that I knew based on my experience interning for a few different companies during college, that I wanted to try to be an artist manager. There was an amazing opportunity up in San Francisco to work for a company called David Lefkowtiz/Figurehead management. The roster was Primus, the Melvins, Charlie Hunter and a few other acts. I spent four years there, learned a ton, and began managing the acts that became the first iteration of my management roster. It was also during my time there that I met Kevin Arnold and began working alongside him on Noise Pop. Kevin founded Noise Pop in 1993 and the first festival I worked on with him was 1998.

I started my management company, Zeitgeist, in 1999 which was the same year the music and technology were beginning to converge. It was the year that MP3.com, eMusic and Napster, to name a few, started to make waves. It wasn’t good news for the music industry but it did justify my existence up here. All of a sudden I had a competitive edge by living in the Bay Area.

The reason that I never left San Francisco once I arrived is simple: I adore this place.

You’re active in the city with the music festivals, investments in numerous restaurants, and donating your time to 826 Valencia, Stern Grove Festival, and other arts and culture organizations. As you know, SF is experiencing its own culture war right now. Where do you stand and what can be done in your opinion?

To be clear, I’m not one of those people that rails against the tech industry. To the contrary, I think it’s pretty incredible to live in the heart of where these innovations which are being dreamed up and born. It’s not a coincidence that a creative, intellectual and way left-of-center city like San Francisco attracted the entrepreneurs that built these companies. With all that said, the city needs to do more to protect its creative community. A lot more. The Bay Area is incredibly expensive which does not bode well for an upstart musician or artist. I know some folks in the private sector that are starting to help but the city, as far as I can tell, has only made cosmetic offerings at best. The musical cultural history is so, so rich here: Summer of Love, Bill Graham, the Grateful Dead, the jazz scene of the 50s and 60s, the Dead Kennedys, Journey, Metallica … it goes on and on. But San Francisco does not do much in the way of supporting musicians and visual artists and film makers. And because it’s prohibitively expensive to live here fledgling artists are moving to Los Angeles or Portland where it’s cheaper and there’s a stronger, more inspiring creative community. Which leads the established artists who can now afford to live in the Bay Area to leave because they don’t have a strong community around them. I don’t pretend to know of a simple solution but it is clear to me that the city should be attacking the issue with much more urgency.

Read the rest of the interview here, and if you’re headed to Treasure Island this weekend, give Neighbor Jordan the secret Bernal Heights hand signal.

TIMF-Single-Day-Lineups

Recovery Continues for Jackie Jones, Celebrity Music-Maker of the Alemany Farmer’s Market

getwellsoonjackie

Bernalwood has received several requests for an update on the health of Bernal neighbor Jackie Jones, the Alemany Farmer’s Market musical celebrity who took a bad fall last year.

Neighbor Hannah spearheaded the previous fundraising effort for Jackie, and she’s been checking in on Jackie regularly. Neighbor Hannah shares this candid report:

Dear Neighbors,

Thank you for your concern about Jackie Jones. She gave me permission to share this update:

“I had thought getting over my broken bones would be the end of my problem, but not so. My feet turned up with posterior tibial tendon disfunction. In other words, collapsing feet. The bones start to fall apart. I had to stay off my feet for so long, so I lost my balance. I will have to do exercises to regain this. I’m on my way. Next they will have new foot and ankle braces made for the right foot because the broken bones healed crooked. It’s been an awful thing to happen to me. But my spirits are up and I do want to figure ways to play music again.”

Jackie is happy to know that her “spot” is still open at the market and she still hopes to get back. When I asked her if she needed anything, she said “Bring me tales from the market!”

So if you’d like to send her your tales, email them to messages4jackie@gmail.com, I’ll pass your notes along to her.

With warmth and gratitude,
Hannah

PHOTO: Jackie Jones in 2006, by Telstar Logistics

Hear Tim and Erin Archuleta from Ichi Sushi on Burrito Justice Radio

sushiradio2

In case (like me) you missed hearing it live, you can now listen to a recording of yesterday’s action-packed episode of La Lengua rebel leader’s Burrito Justice Radio, featuring special celebrity guests Tim and Erin Archuleta from the intergalactically famous Ichi Sushi on Mission Street!

Listen to this terrific episode to learn:

  • When does Team Ichi plan to open their new oyster bar in the original Ichi space?
  • FACT: Celebrity sushi chef Tim Archuleta used to hate fish!
  • The scandalous tale of how Tim and Erin met! (Hint: It was the karaoke)
  • Tim’s goal: Build a ski lift-style “bunny tow” from Mission Street to Upper Cortland
  • How to eat four meals a day — with a friend — in Tokyo for just $100 a day!
  • What song did Tim and Erin dance to during their glamorous pre-celebrity wedding?
  • Why should you be eating local salmon and albacore RIGHT NOW?
  • Can “burrito railgun” technology trim the carbon footprint of imported Japanese fish?

All that, and so much more. Listen to the whole thing, on your interweb terminal, right now, right here!