The beat generation was raised at a bookstore, just a stone’s throw from Wingtip, on a jagged block of Columbus Avenue, nestled between San Francisco’s North Beach and Chinatown districts. City Lights Bookstore was opened in 1953, the brainchild of Peter D. Martin, but it was co-founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti who turned it into a place where poets could read and publish works that weren’t necessarily “fit to print,” in the established sense.
Ferlinghetti’s name became synonymous with free speech in 1956 when he published a diminutive book of poems with a four-letter word emblazoned on the cover in stately Albertus type: “Howl.”
The contents of Allen Ginsberg’s monumental poem raised the ire of morality police and both Ferlinghetti and store manager Shigeyoshi Murao were arrested for disseminating “obscene” material. The case was taken to the California State Superior Court and tried under Judge Clayton Horn, where, thankfully, reason prevailed. Judge Horn’s decision reads,
in part, “There are a number of words used in “Howl” that are presently considered coarse and vulgar in some circles of the community; in other circles such words are in everyday use. [...] Would there be any freedom of press or speech if one must reduce his vocabulary to vapid innocuous euphemism?”
City Lights was granted landmark status in 2001. The adjacent Adler Alley, once a seedy shortcut, (and the only thing that stood between the poets and their favorite haunt, Vesuvio Cafe), is now a paved-over pedestrian walkway called Jack Kerouac Alley, with colorful walls and bronze placards of poetry set into the ground. City Lights continues to publish new works and serve as a Mecca for San Francisco literary adherents and tourists alike.
Special Thanks to Scott and Andy at City Lights Bookstore for their kind assistance in helping us shoot this series of photos.
We recently visited City Lights Bookstore and Jack Kerouac Alley to test out our EyeBobs reading glasses. [TOP: Wingtip Master Barber Joe Roberts wears Board Stiff reading glasses in green spotted tortoise; ABOVE-LEFT: Mr. Roberts wears Peckerhead reading glasses. All reading glasses pictured are $79.]
Wingtip Bespoke Assistant Timothy Niven wears Dot-Com reading glasses in tortoise / blue
Mr. Roberts wears Peckerhead reading glasses
Mr. Niven wears Total Wit reading glasses in clear
Mr. Roberts wears Board Stiff reading glasses in green spotted tortoise
Whether you need to pick up some libations for the festivities, or if you find yourself in a swarm of green and need a quiet nip, or if you’re feeling the affects of said festivities and need a warm meal, we have what cures your ailments this Saint Paddy’s Day:
1. We are putting Murphy’s Irish Stout on tap this year! It was the tried-and-true Guinness last year, but in an attempt to always make the Wingtip Experience unique I choose to tap the other black stout from the Irish Isles, and boy is it tasty. Dark Toffee and coffee notes waft out of the glass, and of course the color of this fine brew is darker than a black hole; no light escapes once it enters. The first taste of Murphy’s is close to perfection. Low notes of bitter chocolate and a malty back bone guarantee a perfect sipping experience from start to finish. Come get this pint while you can, because once the month is over we will be moving on to another dark beer.
2. Chef Matt will be making corned beef and cabbage for the week, as a one-time special. We will have reubens for lunch and corned beef entrees at night. I personally love corned beef. My family always served it the week of Saint Paddy’s, and always with Irish stout. The spicyness and juiciness of the beef always puts a smile on my face, and Chef Matt is making this year’s corned beef extra special with the debut of his new sous vide machine. Corned beef a great start to a party, and a great aid to your recovery the next day.
3. We offer a quiet reprieve from the Saint Paddy’s revelry that takes place through out San Francisco’s FiDi. While most places are throwing their alley parties, and have bathroom lines around the block, our members can come and have a quiet pint and a wee nip in between bar-hopping.
4. We have a ton of Irish Whiskey.
5. We have a ton of Irish Whiskey. We have so many different types of Irish Whisky it warrants mentioning twice. We have whiskies from Jameson, Connemera, single grain Irish whiskies like Greenore, single malt Irish whiskies like the Redbreast, Kilbegan, and…
6. We have a ton of Irish Whiskey, plus one: Mosswood is a brand new, locally-imported, barrel-aged Irish Whiskey “crafted from a four-year-old Irish whiskey distilled at Cooley.”
Jake Chevedden of Mosswood Distillers, elaborates, “The finishing for this batch was a blend of two barrels, one of which spent 7 months in Amontillado and the other which spent 13 months in Amontillado. The sherry we used to treat the barrels was Valedespino’s Contrabandista. The barrel finish lends a dry, nutty characteristic in the whiskey, with notes of marzipan, cinnamon and cardamom, and a rich, creamy texture. A complex Irish whiskey with a long finish. This whiskey is brought to proof and bottled by hand.
Mosswood is available now at Wingtip’s Bank Of Wine And Spirits for 15% Off its regular price of $60 (or $51) when you mention the code ERIN GO BRAGH. Offer good now through Saint Paddy’s Day, in store only.
We don’t offer many art reviews at Wingtip’s Modern Gentleman’s Blog, but the occasion of the “Skating Minister” visiting the De Young Museum for the next few months is cause for a trip to Golden Gate Park. This 1790s painting, allegedly by Sir Henry Raeburn, is fully dubbed “The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch.” It normally resides at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh, so it is a rare treat to lay eyes on this dapper gent.
Why do we like this painting? Well, if it’s not already evident by the top hat and tailored wool overcoat, we like the juxtaposition of a guy who’s dressed for the gala while playing on the loch. A modern-day equivalent would be something like Justice Ginsburg skateboarding in her robe and jabot. We also like how the reverend is trying his hardest to look like he’s slogging through manual labor, while the faint glimmer of an inner child is screaming to jump out of his hat.
“Masterpieces From the National Galleries of Scotland” opens this Saturday, March 7th, at the De Young, and runs through May 31. The show boasts of pieces by Botticelli, Vermeer, and Cezanne, but we’ll be there for the vintage-1790s menswear.
Advance tickets are available at deyoung.famsf.org.
Over the past week-and-a-half, auteurs, wannabes, and looky-loos crowded into Park City, Utah, for the annual Sundance film festival. One of the largest “independent” film festivals in the nation, this yearly affair brings us the newest works and projects by Hollywood’s top talents as well as regional unknowns. We’re always excited to see which films have been bought for distribution, as well as which sartorial choices have been brought to the blistering temps, so we decided this year, Why not look at both?
James Franco: Rocking the ugly Fair Isle Christmas sweater like a baller, James Franco proves yet again that everything he touches turns to gold. Opting for the more casual and dressed down look this year, the director/actor/writer/style-icon/philanthropist/humanitarian (Are we missing anything?) shows that a crewneck sweater paired with some jeans can go a long way.
Jemaine Clement: Perfect for the conditions in Park City, where temperatures can swing from chilly to frigid, the down jacket has always been a staple in menswear, and especially snow wear. Whether you’re facing nippy wind or a couple feet of white powder, the down jacket’s got your back. Clement also does a good job of pairing it with a button down and tie, which we can always get down with.
Common and Erykah Badu: We gotta give respect to a man that wears a suit in the snow. Nice job on the proportional lapels and tie, but lackin’ a little flavor without the pocket square. Erykah Badu, on the other hand, takes the cake with that hat. Not really sure if she’s imitating Pharrell’s headwear style or if she’s just a really big Harry Potter fan. Either way it’s awesome.
Harvey Weinstein: The producer behind such hits as “Every Quentin Tarantino Flick Ever” also has a hit on his hands with that cream colored cable-knit shawl collar sweater. Keeping with the surroundings of the festival, Mr.Weinstein brings it with his fashionable and highly functional choice. He’s keeping cool, while not keeping cool, and we like that.
“Fresh Dressed” (dir. Sacha Jenkins): While we have much fondness for the classics like Sinatra and Dino, we here at Wingtip also have much love for hip-hop. “Fresh Dressed” chronicles the roots of urban style as it exploded through hip-hop culture. From Adidas tracksuits to stereo sets, this flick will take you back to a time when Charlie Sheen was working it on “Wall Street” instead of drinking tiger blood.
“Best of Enemies” (dir. Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon): In 1968, a televised debate between righty William F. Buckley and lefty Gore Vidal rocked the world during the Democratic and Republican national convention. Their policies were so polar that every topic was heated and every political stance was fierce. Because of this, ABC, whose ratings were at the bottom at the time, shot through the roof. We’re not taking sides on anyone’s political ideas, we’re just excited to see the suits these guys rock during the debates.
“Knock Knock” (dir. by Eli Roth): Keanu Reeves stars in this psychological thriller by the man who’s brought us such cinematic horrors as “Hostel” and “Cabin Fever.” Living a perfect life, Evan Webber’s (Reeves) life is turned upside down when he lets two mysterious women enter his home for one night. While this film is typically more horrific than what we would recommend, we can’t argue with the robe game.
SF Gate and the SF mayor’s office teamed up to make this Wednesday the official #LoveLocalSF day. Businesses and organizations all across the city are participating, and we’re pleased to get in on the fun by offering a 20% Discount off full-priced merchandise all Wednesday (in-store only; does not apply to alcohol). So wear the official color, red, and stop by for a deep pre-, pre-holiday discount.
The 49ers beat the Packers and it’s time to find something else to watch. The BBC is showing an MGM documentary called Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 to commemorate 50 years of James Bond. A little over halfway through the show, they flash a still photograph of Sean Connery and Albert “Cubby” Broccoli talking to each other. While the still is only on-screen for a couple seconds, the backdrop is something I’ve looked at almost every day for the last two years, since first stepping foot in the original Bank of Italy (later, Bank of America) building at 550 Montgomery.
And here is the exact same wall covering in one of our rooms at 550 Montgomery as photographed during my recently-blogged-about wedding reception at the Club:
Now, it is obvious that the wall covering is the same. Originally, I thought this enough would be definitive proof that the photo was taken in our space as someone had told me that the wall coverings were hand painted. With the help of Google Image search, I now knowthat that is not the case as I turned up a movie poster from 1961 for the Italian film, La Notte.
The movie poster, in turn, led me to 1stdibs.com, a high-end home decor site where a dealer is selling the same wallpaper, and gives us more information about it: it’s a Series of Three Grisaille Panels of Zuber Wallpaper of Neoclassical Horse Racing, Figures, and Architecture. Designed in France by Joseph Dufour et Cie around 1900, it’s hand silkscreened on paper and then mounted to a linen mesh. Buying the panels today will run you $10,500.
So the wall covering, in and of itself, is not enough to prove that Connery & Broccoli were in our space. However, there are a few other details that strongly suggest the photo was taken in our space when it was still the Bank of America building. Here, I lay out the photographic and circumstantial evidence that lead me to believe that perhaps the two men most responsible for the success of the James Bond franchise were photographed in the space Wingtip now occupies.
To begin, I put on a tux shirt, cufflinks, studs, a bow tie, and my best pensive gaze to try to recreate the photo in the same space.
First, you can see in the Connery & Broccoli photo that there is a molding a few feet off the ground that frames the bottom of the wall covering. Even if the wall covering were a mass produced wallpaper, it seems highly unlikely that two different spaces would install it at the same height with the same molding (we have since finished it in a dark espresso stain). How can we know if it’s the same molding? We can’t be certain, but if we establish scale, we can make a very educated guess.
To help with this, I bought the digital file from Capital Pictures (which owns the right to the still photo), and took it to a FedEx Kinko’s to make a glossy 30″ x 40″ print (the size of the file). We can use this physical print plus our actual version on the wall to establish scale. To start, we measured from the top of the white fence to the top of the roof on the main building on the photographic print.
As you can see, from the top of the fence to the beginning of the roof is 5 1/16″. Then, we measured the same distance on our wall (photo taken today).
The height of that same distance on our actual wall is approximately 15″, so we are dealing with a scale of 3:1 (reality: print). We can use this scale to determine if the molding on our wall is the same as the molding in the photo.
Above is a clean view of the molding behind Sean Connery in the original photo. Because of the shadows, we thought it best to measure from the top of the molding to the top of the bottom of the molding (in other words, ignoring any of the shadowed space underneath since it’s impossible to tell if it’s millwork or shadow). On the full-size print of the original photo (above), the molding measures approximately 1 1/8″. Below is a photo taken today of our molding in the same spot on the wall behind Connery (we can tell because it’s under the windy road on the wall).
As you can see, our molding is approximately 3 3/8″, or extremely close to the 3:1 scale we discovered earlier. Now, it’s possible that someone else had this wall covering, and installed it a couple feet off the ground, and framed the bottom of it with a 3.5″ molding, and had a reason for Sean Connery and Cubby Broccoli to be in their room for a photo which is why we then have to look for unique anomalies in the wall.
So let’s assume that this was a mass produced wallpaper you could buy in the 1940s-1960s. The paper is made of panels which were applied to the walls which means there are seams, and the seams provide the greatest clues leading me to think the photo had to be taken in our space. The easiest detail to spot in the Connery & Broccoli photo and our space has to do with a horse with a 90° angle in his underbelly. Below, we have zoomed in on the digital file of the photo to pick out the second horse from the right which straddles a seam in the wall covering. If you look closely, you will see that the horse has a right angle in the middle of his belly where the wall covering was installed 1/4″ off.
That same horse in our space has the same right angle in his belly as you can see from the photo we took of our wall today.
This would mean that the paper would have had to be installed slightly off in the room where the photo was taken and in our room with the same imprecision for that to be a coincidence.
Let’s assume you’re with me on the photographic evidence; was there any reason for Sean Connery to be in San Francisco in the 1960s? Or for that matter, doing anything with Bank of America? Actually, yes! Here are the facts we know:
- A.P. Giannini starts the Bank of Italy in 1904, builds its first post-quake headquarters at 550 Montgomery (where Wingtip is now).
- In 1923, Giannini creates a motion-picture loan division and helps Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith start United Artists (UA).
- In 1928, Giannini creates Transamerica Corporation as a holding company for various interests, mostly insurance. It becomes a giant conglomerate with interests in banking, consumer loans, insurance, airlines, rental cars, manufacturing, and…later…a movie studio.
- In 1930, Giannini merges his Bank of Italy with the smaller Bank of America of Los Angeles. Giannini changes the name “Bank of Italy” to “Bank of America”.
- In 1961, Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, who had already secured the exclusive screen rights to all but one of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books, partner with United Artists to help produce and distribute the first Bond film, Dr. No.
- In 1962, the partnership takes a loan from the Bank of America to finance Dr. No. From the book The James Bond Archive:
Cubby Broccoli The film opened in England to almost unanimous praise. The London Times, recognizing its intrinsic tongue-in-cheek approach, praised the care and expertise that had gone into the production. Superlatives like “magnificent” and “superb” burst out of most of the tabloids. Connery achieved his own personal triumph…Audiences, specifically the women, reacted strongly to his raw, rugged manliness and his sardonic double entendres. Within a few months, the picture practically recouped its production costs in London alone.
Stanley Sopel We repaid the Bank of America bank loan in about three months, much to the chagrin of the Bank of America, who had lost 15 months’ interest on the picture, having penciled in 18 months’ interest on this loan.
- In 1963, Connery visits San Francisco as part of a U.S. press tour. According to the book United Artists, Volume 2, 1951-1978: The Company that Changed the Film Industry,
The main goal was to build up Sean Connery as a star, and, to do this, they scheduled him for a cross-country tour in March 1963. Accompanied by Terence Young, the director, Connery visited New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Kansas City. Connery hosted at each city, a special preview of Dr. No and a gala postscreening gourmet party, “sumptuously prepared and served on a Lucullan scale.” The following day at each stop he gave himself to newspaper, radio, and TV interviews.
- In 1967, Transamerica Corporation, the holding company started by A.P. Giannini, and with headquarters just a stone’s throw from the original Bank of America headquarters (now home to Wingtip), buys United Artists for $185 million.
I can think of at least two possible –and highly probable– explanations.
- The most likely scenario is that the photo was taken during the 1963 U.S. press tour which included a stop in San Francisco. Given that Bank of America had helped finance the first movie, perhaps the bank offered for the following day’s press interviews to be conducted on their private dining floor. That would explain the lighting on Connery and the shadow of the boom mic protruding from the top of the photo. While I’d like to think the lavish post-screening party was held in our space, I have no evidence of that…yet.
- Alternatively, Connery & Broccoli were in San Francisco around 1967 as the deal between United Artists and Transamerica Corporation was taking shape, or to celebrate its completion.
Sadly, this has obsessed me for the past few days, so I now have several books about A.P. Giannini, United Artists, Cubby Broccoli, and the story behind 007 en route to me so I can try to find more corroborating evidence. And make no mistake: this is not over. But at this point, I am confident in claiming that James Bond was in our club before it was our club.
P.S. Sean Connery could likely confirm my hypothesis, so if you know how to get in touch with him, I’d love an introduction.
Film: Save The Waves Film Festival
Tonight at the Victoria Theater
“Save The Waves Film Festival is a nonprofit tour and fundraiser in 3 cities on 3 consecutive Fridays in November – a benefit for Save The Waves’ environmental campaigns & World Surfing Reserves.” Tonight’s show opens with a live set from Arann Harris.
Tickets and more info
Music: Deltron 3030
Saturday Night at the Fillmore Auditorium
It’s been over 13 years since Deltron 3030 released their landmark self-titled record. The long-awaited Event 2 dropped last month, and now the original members Dan “The Automator” Nakamura, Kid Koala, and Del the Funky Homosapien bring the fabled project back to life. Backing the trio will be a full orchestra. For more on the project, see our interview with Dan The Automator. Tickets available at Live Nation.
Theater: Red Virgin
Final Weekend. At the Berkeley City Club
“A new play about the tumultuous events of the great socialist uprising known as the Paris Commune of 1871. Written by company co-director, Gary Graves (who authored last season’s “Richard The First” trilogy), Red Virgin tells the story of Louise Michel, one of the most incendiary revolutionaries in the history of France–with live music from the period!” More info and tix at www.centralworks.org
Film/Theater: John Waters, “This Filthy World
Saturday at Yoshi’s
This event may be a little less genteel than the others on the list, but, if nothing else, you should pay a “Movember” tribute to John Waters’ signature pencil mustache. Per Yoshis: “John Waters’ one-man spoken-word show is a ‘vaudeville’ act that celebrates the film career and obsessional tastes of the man William Burroughs once called ‘The Pope of Trash.’ Focusing in on Waters’ early negative artistic influences and his fascination with true crime, exploitation films, fashion lunacy, and the extremes of the contemporary art world, this joyously devious monologue elevates all that is trashy in life into a call to arms to ‘filth followers’ everywhere.” Tickets and more info at Yoshi’s
Culture: Unbuilt San Franciso
At the California Historical Society
This exhibit runs through 12/29, but this short week will be a good opportunity to see it before the holidays heat up. Per the CHS: “The twentieth century saw both a series of ambitious efforts to reimagine the city of San Francisco and the explosive growth of the Bay Area as a metropolitan region. In Unbuilt San Francisco: The View from Futures Past, the California Historical Society and SPUR present some of the most revealing episodes in these distinct but related streams of civic discourse through projects that were proposed but never realized. Concern with a particular site, problem, or opportunity often spans a period of decades and presents a window into a city’s changing attitudes, politics, and values. Every bit as much as the cities we build, the cities we imagine and reject reveal the collective creativity of the urban project and the imperfect civics of place-making.” More info at California Historical Society
The musical output of Dan “The Automator” Nakamura is a prodigious stack of layered hip-hop records that includes the beautiful and horrific Dr. Octagon, the first Gorillaz record, a pair of future-funk records by Deltron 3030 (who take the stage at the Fillmore this weekend), and Handsome Boy Modeling School, a group that sent up the high life, even while enjoying it. With Handsome Boy Modeling School’s penchant for fine fabrics and spirits in mind, we met with Dan to talk cloth (see his fall fabric picks interspersed below) and music as we showed him around the Bespoke Vault, and–later–Wingtip’s cigar lounge.
WINGTIP: Handsome Boy Modeling School is a parody on a certain lifestyle but you also have a genuine interest in it.
DAN THE AUTOMATOR: See, that’s the only way it can be interesting. If you’re only making fun of something it’s not really funny. Theres an absurdity to that lifestyle but the absurdity is what I’m into in a way.
WINGTIP: Were you into clothes as a kid?
AUTOMATOR: I liked clothes, but in adulthood I became more specifically interested in [them]. Everyone has hobbies. My hobby is actually food, but beyond food it’s men’s furnishings. Knives, all that stuff. I have great Laguiole sets. I always have good liquors at home. I don’t have good flatware or plates but I do always have good cufflinks, good suits, good shoes.
WINGTIP: You like the details.
AUTOMATOR: The details exactly. My lifestyle doesn’t allow me to wear it all the time, but when I do wear it I have the right stuff.
WINGTIP: Do you remember your first suit?
AUTOMATOR: Probably like one of those 8th grade graduation suits. I started getting more–not well educated about suits–but more when we did that first Handsome Boy Modeling School record, we were wearing suits. And we managed to con the record label into buying us a few pretty decent ones–nothing crazy, but we got some stuff from Germany, a Hugo Boss thing and some Armani things.
But the second Handsome Boy record, Zegna sponsored us. I got seven or eight suits, including a raw silk tuxedo. All the stuff I got from them I still wear.
WINGTIP: How did you hook up with that?
AUTOMATOR: There was a marketing company in England, and you go into this place with different floors of different stuff, like Adidas. So when we walked in there they gave us a bunch of really good pairs of sunglasses and more athletic wear. But I said, You know, we wear suits for this stuff. Zegna came back, like, “Come to our store in Beverly Hills when you’re back in the U.S.” So we went over there and they were just like, “Take it.” It was literally like some Pretty Woman shit. That was years ago but I still have a lot of that stuff. I even took their grey businessman suits–like pinstripe charcoal. They’re gorgeous, kinda straight up.
WINGTIP: Where did the Handsome Boy Modeling School idea come from?
AUTOMATOR: It’s kind of a joke. I mean of course it’s a joke–I haven’t seen anything like this [checking out a Loro Piana nailhead fabric]–There’s a TV show called Get A Life, a Chris Elliott show, and there was an episode about the Handsome Boy Modeling School, one of those back-of-the-matchbook kind of things. [Collaborator Prince Paul and I] were just talking about it on the phone, and I was sitting in Tommy Boy, and the A&R guy walked by and heard me talking about it, and said, “What is that?” I said that’s me and Paul’s new group. He said, “For real? Can I hear it?” No. “I Wanna hear it.” I said, “No I was just making stuff up. We were just having fun. It’s maybe like the Hip Hop Chemical Brothers.” He said, “Sounds good. I want to hear something. Do you have anything?” No! And then Monica Lynch the President of Tommy Boy walked in and she was like, “We’ll sign it.”
WINGTIP: So you were just at the office…
AUTOMATOR: I love this [Dormeuil] Ice stuff. This is my book. This is definitely my book.
WINGTIP: Do you have any specific style inspirations?
AUTOMATOR: I’m a big fan of Serge Gainsbourg. Not so much the clothes, but the vibe of the whole thing, the lifestyle…’60s, ’70s, French, drunk, women around.
WINGTIP: On the current Deltron 3030 tour, you’re conducting.
AUTOMATOR: Yes, on the rock shows I play keyboards and drum machines, but the orchestra shows I’m conducting.
WINGTIP: And it’s real conducting?
AUTOMATOR: Here’s the thing, any kind of show, any kind of Hollywood movie, there has to be a conductor. Now, in a traditional orchestra, the conductor also dictates the tempo, but that’s only one facet of the whole thing. I’m not dictating the tempo ’cause there are [backing tracks]–well, sometimes I am because [the song] breaks down to nothing, but I am dictating the other stuff, the swing, the movement.
WINGTIP: For Deltron’s appearance on “Late Night with David Letterman” [pictured above], you were wearing a tuxedo, with tailcoats, but you kept your shirt unbuttoned, and your cuffs were undone.
AUTOMATOR: I’m a no-tie kind of guy, usually. I don’t have a particular hatred of ties, I actually like ‘em. I just always, even going out in a suit or whatever, I’m not usually wearing ties. So I just keep it that way. It’s the rebel…
WINGTIP: Where’d you get the tailcoat made?
AUTOMATOR: It’s just a cheap…you know, tour stuff. I started the tour with this incredibly gorgeous shirt and I ripped it. It was this really pretty, might have been a Zegna, tuxedo shirt. It had this stripe. One of the last shows, I think Rock The Bells L.A., I ripped it. I was really mad.
WINGTIP: Have you heard about Movember?
WINGTIP: It’s a month-long event where guys grow out their mustaches in order to raise men’s health awareness. But it made me think of Handsome Boy’s fake mustaches…
AUTOMATOR: That whole thing is like a nod to the fact that it’s stupid. I kinda stopped doing that after a while–although I do still do it once in a while [laughs].
WINGTIP: You’ll be on tour in London next month. Have you had any stuff made on Saville Row before?
AUTOMATOR: No, I have not actually. I have gone through there a little bit. It’s amazing. The only thing I haven’t done yet that I really–well, I would want to get something made there, but I also really want to get a pair of shoes made. I just can’t really justify doing it. I want to do it for the production, but it’s just so expensive. I don’t mind spending good money on shoes, but I don’t know if I can go to that next level of spending money on shoes. … I used to buy watches, but it’s a bad habit so I’m trying to stop that.
WINGTIP: I was going to ask–Even when you DJ, you’ve always got a watch on.
AUTOMATOR: Yeah, I love watches.
WINGTIP: What’s your favorite?
AUTOMATOR: To be honest, it’s boring, but the Rolexes are the best ones ’cause they just don’t break. They last through everything. This [the watch he's wearing] is more of an artisinal company. FP Journe is much nicer than a Rolex, but I wouldn’t wear it out every [day]. I wouldn’t bring it out on the road. It’s a French guy from Switzerland that makes some of the best watches in the world. You got to buy them at auctions. You can buy them new, but you have to be on his list. This one is #5 of 150, you know what I mean? It has the zodiac on the outside.
WINGTIP: Are you spinning a lot in SF these days?
AUTOMATOR: I like to spin, but I never spin. My whole thing about San Francisco is I like to live here and just be around it. I don’t want to be working all the time, [though] we’re playing a show at the Fillmore on the 23rd. I used to do 30-50 shows a year, and I cut it down to maybe 10. And I should do more–’cause records don’t sell and you have to be out more.
WINGTIP: Seems like you’re pretty comfortable on the road.
AUTOMATOR: I make the best of it. I enjoy what I do on the road. All things being equal, I’d rather do records, but all things aren’t equal right now.
WINGTIP: What do you think of the state of Hip Hop right now?
AUTOMATOR: The state of Hip Hop is not as relevant as the state of music. The state of music is bad but good: No one knows how to sell a record, no one knows how to make any money, no one even knows what the good records are. But there are good records, and because everyone who has a laptop [and] the inspiration can make a record, [no one] is being stopped. That also means there are a million shitty records [but] it’s more democratic in that sense. Right now I feel it’s the Wild West out there. Would I rather get paid more? Yeah, but money is money. The fact that you can create is more important to me.
WINGTIP: What was it like picking up on Deltron after 10 years?
AUTOMATOR: I’ve been working with [collaborator Kid] Koala all the way through. We were a little frustrated that [emcee] Del [the Funky Homosapien] wasn’t ready to do it at times, but he had a good reason. The first record was a sci-fi futuristic romp, but we realized what people gravitated towards were the messages. That’s what kept it going. So you really have to be more cognizant of what you’re saying [and] that falls more on [Del]. He took that as a duty and an obligation. It was harder for him ’cause he had to sink his teeth into it, it was a bigger undertaking than he originally thought. We’re having a great time doing it, having a great time out on the road.
WINGTIP: [re: Lepanto brandy and Butera cigar pairing]. This is nice.
AUTOMATOR: I usually do, like, the Islay Scotches, smokey and smoke, which is maybe not as interesting as this contrast.
WINGTIP: Could there be another Handsome Boy record in the future? Or is it pretty much done?
AUTOMATOR: That’s an interesting question. I don’t know. We were originally signed to Tommy Boy then we ended up on Elektra, actually, which folded. Then we ended up on Atlantic. So when the second album came out, there were a lot of problems, and things we had to address ourselves. I can take a hit, like the bad hit, and accept it. Paul had been through the business more at that point, [and was] kinda tired of the industry side of stuff. We saw things little differently when it came to how much to participate. Technically, it’s still on Atlantic. We never got dropped. But now that Atlantic has changed a lot, there are more people I know there I’d be comfortable with being at the helm of the business side of it. So I wouldn’t say “Never,” but I have no idea.
Beyond this weekend’s visit to the Fillmore and an ongoing international Deltron 3030 tour, Dan’s next album is Got A Girl, a sultry outing that pairs actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Jane Birkin stylings with Dan’s Gainsbourg appeal.
Wingtip would like to thank Dan “the Automator” Nakamura for stopping by Wingtip to talk with us. We’ve been fans of his since he was releasing flexi-discs with Bomb Magazine, and have always been intrigued by his music and fashion choices. If one of Dan’s fabric picks caught your eye, make an appointment with Bespoke and we’ll suit you up in Automator fashion.
Culture: Sunken Ships, Shanties & Shucks:
Sordid Stories of Seaward San Francisco & The Barbary Coast
Tonight at the Old Mint
Come to the Old Mint and discover the seedy underbelly of boomtown San Francisco. Shuck an oyster, sip a Pisco Punch, and hear historical tales of how our waterfront came to be (Did you know that we are walking on sunken ships?). Evening will include a live Sea Shanty Band and exclusive Barbary Coast exhibits as you tour the Old Mint. It was gold, ambition, and opportunity that created our great city! All proceeds from this non-profit event, hosted by FlipSide, benefit the San Francisco Museum at the Mint project and the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society.sfhistory.org
Special Events: “Bat Kid” Miles Fights Crime on the Barbary Coast
San Francisco Plays Gotham, including stop at Wingtip’s “Bank of Italy” vaults
November 15th, the Greater Bay Area chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation will be turning much of San Francisco into Gotham for Miles, a 5 year old battling leukemia, whose wish is to be Batman.
After already having rescued a damsel in distress on a Nob Hill cable car line, Miles and his adult Batman companion, will take the Batmobile down to Wingtip at 550 Montgomery. While we normally use our 100+ year-old safe deposit vault for custom clothing, on this day, the Riddler will be down there robbing us of diamonds and cash. Batman will catch him red-handed, perp walk him up to the police waiting outside (we’re hoping there’s a paddywagon!), and then head off on more crime-fighting adventures, at least one of which involves the Giants’ mascot being kidnapped. More at wingtip.com
In Conversation: Graham Nash
at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco
One quarter of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Graham Nash is hitting the road to stump for his book, “Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life.” We’re excited about this event after hearing a fascinating interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air” last month (archived here).
Per the CC, it won’t be all sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll: “Join us for an exclusive peek into the wild tales and issues facing today’s environmental movement with one of the greats of rock and roll, art and social activism.” Get tix while you still can. Friday, 11/15. commonwealthclub.org
Returning to Oakland Sunday night for a command showing of this highly-demanded event
“Cataclysmic destruction. Surprising survival. In this new live stage performance, Radiolab turns its gaze to the topic of endings, both blazingly fast and agonizingly slow. With their signature blend of storytelling, science, and music, hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich romp through hundreds of millions of years of history to arrive at the end, again and again. We’ve got a raucous bunch of comedians joining the party, with a different one for each show, including: Reggie Watts, Patton Oswalt, Simon Amstell, Ophira Eisenberg and Kurt Braunohler. With a cinematic live score created before your eyes by On Fillmore and Noveller, the evening will be a thought- provoking and laughter-inducing dance on the grave of our inevitable demise.” More info and tix at www.radiolab.org
One Night Pop-Up at Alchemist
Wingtip bar maestro Brian MacGregor will be one of the super-slingers on hand for this thirst-quenching good cause. Bring two cans of food for the SF Food Bank or dress up as a superhero for your free super-cocktail, like the Kryptonite Punch, a gin punch poured over a Midori ice cube and topped with a sparkling wine floater. Monday, 11/18, 8-11pm. alchemistsf.com
Music: Jorge Ben Jor
Two nights, Four shows at Yoshi’s San Francisco
Jorge Ben Jor is one of a handful of innovative musicians who oversaw Brazilian music’s late 60s transition from samba and bossa nova to rock and Tropicalia. As one of the fathers of MPB (Musica Populaire Brasil), Ben’s biggest hit is “Mas Que Nada,” a tune that was written by Ben, covered by Sergio Mendes (twice!) and remains the highest-charting Portuguese song ever released in America. Don’t miss this chance to see his immense back-catalog performed live. Tuesday, 11/19, 8pm and 10pm; and Wednesday, 11/20, 8pm and 10pm. Advance tix at yoshis.com
Film/Music: “The Lodger”: silent film with organ
Tonight at Davies Symphony Hall
San Francisco Symphony presents this Halloween night screening of “The Lodger,” an Alfred Hitchcock work from 1927. Based on a book that explored London’s infamous Jack The Ripper killings, the story centers around Mrs. Bunting, a landlady who may have just rented a room to a serial killer called The Avenger. Organist Todd Wilson will provide live musical accompaniment, and will precede the program with a rendition of Bach’s moribund “Toccata and Fugue in D minor.” Tipplers take note: The main lobby bar is serving a Hitchcock-inspired drink called “The Voyeur,” “a spine-tingling sparkling cocktail accented with VSOP cognac and a hint of Grand Marnier.” Available both before the show and during intermission. Tickets available at sfsymphony.org
Film: “Let the Fire Burn”
One week only starting 11/1 at Landmark Cinemas: Opera Plaza Cinema
Philadelphia native Jason Osder examines the events leading up to the day in May 1985 when Philadelphia police, locked in a stand-off with black activist group MOVE, bombed the group’s bunker, setting off a neighborhood inferno that claimed 11 lives and 60 homes. Philly has ever since held the dubious mantle, “The City That Bombed Itself.” Editor and Bay Area native Nels Bangerter will be on hand for the 11/3 screenings at $4:50 and 7:00pm. Advance tix at landmarktheatres.com
Art: The International Vintage Poster Fair
11/1 to 11/3 at the Fort Mason Center
“The International Vintage Poster Fair is one of the largest sales and expositions of original vintage posters. Thousands of posters dated from the 1890s-1980s are on display and available for purchase throughout the weekend. [...] Poster styles include the popular Art Deco and Modernism posters, as well as classic Art Nouveau, Victorian images, and more. [...] This year’s feature exhibit, “Dressed to Sell,” highlights fashion in advertising. A curated collection of posters showcases fashion through the decades, demonstrating how one’s wardrobe mirrored its moment in time. From the conservative clothing of the 1890s to the glitz and glamour of the Roaring Twenties and the mod looks of the Mad Men era, these original vintage posters capture the cultural climate of the past century through fashion.” More info at fortmason.org
Dance: 13th Floor Dance Theater presents “Being Raymond Chandler”
Final weekend 11/2-11/3 at the ODC Dance Commons
Call it hard-boiled ballet. This new dance work by Jenny McAllister takes on pulp fiction author Raymond Chandler (who wrote the novel “The Big Sleep” and the noir screenplay “Double Indemnity,” among many others) as he struggles through a late-night bout of writer’s block. When scotch and nicotine won’t get the job done, his mind conjures spirits of stories past, who spill onto the stage; they “cavort, slink and machinate with hilarious, heartrending and ultimately triumphant results.” See the stark, shadowy promo here. Advance tix at app.arts-people.com
Film: Mortified Nation
SF Premiere 11/3 at the Brava Theater
Mortified Live, the literary tell-all sensation in which adults dig up their most embarrassing “awkward stage” diary entries gets the big screen treatment. “The film blends performance footage with an examination of the rise of Mortified stage shows, and chronicles how the simple act of exposing one’s private past can inspire an entire nation to “share the shame.” Transporting viewers back to a time of awkward firsts– first love, first rejection, first total freak out– the film captures the adolescent experience in a way few of us truly remember and most of us tried to forget.” More info at mortifiednation.com Advance tix available here