Bernal Neighbor Brilliantly Trolls Tech Industry, Tech-Haters, Media, Chickens, and Us


For the last few days, Neighbor Andi Plantenberg on fashionable Samoset Street has generated a lot of buzz and a few headlines by creating a pitch-perfect website for Qoopy, a luxury day care service for chickens.

Operating in Brooklyn, Portland, and (of course) Bernal Heights, Qoopy promises that “when you travel, we give your chickens the royal treatment.” But only if you can get to the top of the waitlist.

Naturally, this has been was greeted with howls of shock and zeitgeist-encapsulating derision. For example:

Some saw it as a clear sign of late-stage urban bourgeois affluenza:

Bernalwood heard about Qoopy earlier in the week, and with Bernal featured so prominently, we decided to reach out for more information.  Neighbor Andi sent this reply:

One of the most common questions we get is “Is Qoopy real — or is this some kind of affectionate satire of the world we live in?”

I’m not a shaman. I’m not qualified to answer questions like that.

I do see that today’s urbanites long for a return to the simplicity and immediacy of raising their own food. This new generation has its own answers to questions like “What should I do with my chicken once her egg-laying days are done?” And even, “When I go to work, will my chicken miss me?”

On the other hand, the tech industry is racing to provide services that cater to urbanites’ every whim. I can have my dirty skivvies picked up with a tap of my smartphone.

Qoopy’s biggest innovation has not been our hand-crafted chicken curriculum, but our willingness to ask the question “Is the innovation economy solving the right problems?”

Truth be told, even after receiving this response, Bernalwood remained unsure if Qoopy was real, or satire, or both.

After all, experience has taught us that proper chicken care is a legitimate need in Bernal Heights, and besides; the idea of creating a satirical thing that nevertheless operates as a real thing is … errrrrrrrrr … uummmmm … well, suffice to say, we don’t find this hard to imagine either, because Bernalwood has been doing exactly that for almost five years.

We were candid about our ongoing confusion in the conversation with Neighbor Andi, and she was gracious enough to provide a less ambiguous reply:

Last Thursday evening, my husband Alan Peters and I were joking around like we normally do, and the notion of a Chicken Daycare for Urban Hipsters came up. We laughed and I said “I’m just going to launch it tomorrow’. I made a landing page, came up with a company name and a domain. And posted to facebook. The goal was to entertain myself.

That was Friday. Qoopy had a handful of up-votes on Product Hunt by Monday afternoon. By Tuesday mid-day I had thousands of hits, a few serious inquiries (all from Brooklyn) and a playful VC inquiry.

I think the reason it went viral was that it seemed like a joke, but could conceivably be true (Wait– maybe this *is* real”). The innovation economy is making services like this left and right, hence my earlier blurb.

So it began as a fun couple hours on friday, but has tapped on something larger. Qoopy has started some healthy and entertaining dialog.

Yeah yeah, sure sure. Seriously though… how do we get to the top of the waiting list?


Ace Drone Pilot Captures Breathtaking Fog Footage High Above Bernal Hill

Bernalwood has friends in high places, including Jedi drone pilot and videographer Eddie Codel, who recently shot this time-lapse drone footage of Karl the Fog from atop Bernal Hill.

The footage is so perfect you’ll hardly think it’s a time-lapse — until you notice all the cars zipping along at impossible speeds in La Lengua. Adjust video settings to HD, go full screen, and this is what it would look like if you had a penthouse suite in a Bernal Hill skyscraper.

Bravo, Eddie, and thanks for sharing.

VIDEO: Eddie Codel

Drone on Bernal Hill Feels Strangely Classic and Timeless


Ah, the simple pleasures….

Last weekend I went for a lovely walk in the warm sun on Bernal Hill, surrounded by gentle breezes, rustling grass, barking dogs, laughing children, and the whirring hum of a video drone capturing footage of the whole scene.

Not complaining, because the drone’s operator was being very careful considerate, and the fancy new tech somehow felt familiar and ancient — sort of like a mechanical hummingbird. Timeless and cutting edge, all at the same time.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

Play Pac-Man In Your Favorite Bernal Heights Microhood


Today is April Fools Day, which means you should definitely be on guard for things that sound too good to be true. Yet one such too-good-thing that turns out to actually be quite true is the special treat your friends and neighbors from the Google Maps team created to celebrate the day: A special, playable PacMan layer for Google Maps that can be applied to areas with lots of criss-crossing roads. Areas, like, say, Bernal Heights.

Let’s let The Verge geeksplain:

Your neighborhood just got a lot more interesting. Google has released a new feature for Maps that lets you turn any location into a game of Pac-Man — all you have to do is click the new Pac-Man button that resides in the lower left corner of the screen. When you do, whatever section of the world you’re looking at will transform into the pixelated arcade classic, complete with four colorful ghosts and the iconic music. While developers have created similar hacks before, this version of Google Maps Pac-Mancomes directly from Google, and even supports mobile devices.

You can’t play all of Bernal Heights in one screen. But you can play one of our Bernal microhoods (including popular footpaths). Bernal Hill is shown up above. Here’s Holly Park:


This is central Cortlandia:


This is Precitaville and Precita Park:


And this is St. Mary’s Park:


Caution: You may find that there aren’t enough ghost-munching Power Pellets in some areas of Bernal Heights Pac-Man. This is completely unacceptable. We recommend filing lots and lots and lots of requests for additional Bernal Heights Pac-Man Power Pellets with and D9 Supervisor David Campos’s office. They’ll be totally glad to assist you.

… April Fools!

There Is a “Bernal Heights” Font, and It Looks Like This


The Citizens of Bernalwood live a life of hearty flavors and creative abundance, but did you know that we even have our own typeface? Well, we do.

It’s a TrueType font called Bernal Heights, and it was created a few years ago by an itinerant typographer named Max Infeld. Here’s how our Bernal Heights font looks when you map it all out:


Bernalwood reached out to Max Infeld to confirm his authorship of the font and learn about his inspiration. He tells Bernalwood:

Yes I made the font. I hiked up to Bernal Heights one day, when I was visiting a friend on Shotwell and 24th. For a while, I just traveled and made fonts.

I’d love to live in that area but it’s too darn expensive!

I definitely feel inspired being in Bernal. It’s much quieter than the surrounding areas. It was peace of mind for me after I’d seen some really crazy stuff. I’d really love to work and live there someday. Maybe I’ll retire there after I make my millions!

Bernal Heights is free to download as donationware. That means if you like it, and/or if you want to say thank you to Max for a font named just for us, you are encouraged to give him some of your hard-earned Bernal dollars… so he too might live among us here someday.

Easter Egg: When you go to install the font, you’ll get a fun little message like this:


PHOTO: Telstar Logistics with Bernal Heights font by Max Infeld

Bernal Neighbor Creates Magic Fairy That Plays Mini-Golf


Neighbor Dan

When we last saw Bernal neighbor Dan Rosenfeld, he left a rather memorable impression on Cortland Avenue when he hit the town looking like this:


Now Neighbor Dan has combined technology, art, stagecraft, and pixie dust to create an innovative experience at Urban Putt, the nouveau miniature golf place on South Van Ness at 22nd.

Neighbor Dan tells Bernalwood:

Thought this might be of interest to Bernal folks. (I’m on the famous 200 block of Elsie).

I finally got around to documenting an interactive installation piece I did for Urban Putt. If folks haven’t been, Urban Putt is a super fun indoor minigolf course, bar, and restaurant, created by local artists and designers, built in a former mortuary in the Mission.

My piece, Sleepwalkers, is an interactive installation about beings that live inside the walls of that old building. It uses host of techniques to make it seem that a three inch tall luminous being is interacting with the physical world—including the hands of participants—while illuminating its environment.

This video conveys a sense of Neighbor Dan’s newest magic:

How did he do it?  Click here to peek inside Neighbor Dan’s bag of fairy golf tricks.

Attention, People of Elsie!  Please give Neighbor Dan lots of big high-fives.

PHOTOS: Screen grabs. Below, Big Head Dan, via Bernal alum Adrian Mendoza

Apple Makes Life Unpleasant for a Bernal Heights App Developer

Apple's Death Star Looms over Bernal Heights

Neighbors Jon and Liz aren’t the only Bernalese who have been making a splash on Ellsworth Street. Neighbor Greg Gardner is a software developer who also lives on Ellsworth, just a block north of Jon and Liz. He writes to tell us about his recent high-profile tangle with Apple:

In addition to my two neighbors here on Ellsworth St who were published in the New York Times Magazine, I also had an interesting weekend, although not as positive as theirs.

Last year I quit my job as a software developer to work for myself making iPhone and iPad apps. My first app went out earlier this year and didn’t do so well. So I started working on my second app, called Launcher, and released it a week and half ago, on the day that iOS 8 came out.

This second app was doing really well and I was planning on sending you a little note to let you know that one of your Bernal neighbors had built something that was being enjoyed by people all over the world.

Then Apple decided on Friday to take my app off of the App Store with little explanation. I think they did it on Friday evening in order to try to avoid it getting press coverage, but luckily it is getting picked up. Here’s what TechCrunch says about it:

Launcher’s creator, Greg Gardner, tells us that his new app had ranked highly on the list of the top 20 highest grossing productivity apps in the U.S. shortly after its App Store debut, and it made it into the top 10 highest grossing productivity apps in 43 different countries.

Nearly 300,000 users over the course of nine days downloaded Launcher, he says – good numbers for a brand-new app of any kind which hasn’t yet begun to do serious marketing or paid user acquisition.

Gardner explains in more detail via a post on his website, that Apple said that launcher apps like his were a “misuse of widgets,” and made the decision to pull the app down even though there are no written rules that state launcher apps cannot exist. He also says he attempted submitting a fix which would redirect users who tap on the Launcher widget first to the Launcher app itself, then to the target app. Apple rejected the fix within an hour on Friday, and then pulled Launcher from the App Store.

9 to 5 Mac covered the situation, and Business Insider headlined their article A Developer Created A Brilliantly Innovative New Way To Use The iPhone’s Widgets, But Apple Killed It.

I published my official take on the situation here, and an online petition has been set up. The petition is gaining traction as well.

So now, instead of quietly making a living for myself and my family building apps, I find myself thrust into a struggle against the company with the largest market capitalization in the world — all from my little house on Ellsworth. Obviously, my struggle pales in comparison to the ones many of our neighbors have had to fight to keep their houses and whatnot — but still, it’s an issue that affects my future livelihood.

Yuck. This isn’t the first time Apple has made life unpleasant for a Bernal resident, and it should come as a surprise to no one that Apple can be, uh, rather controlling. Still, it sucks when Apple acts arbitrarily and autocratically, and it sucks even more when that behavior impacts the livelihood of a Bernal neighbor.