Guardian Intelligence: May 14 - 22, 2014




What exactly does a "sound sculpture" look like? We're not quite sure either, but judging from what we've heard about Sonic Dreamscape, the new installation by sound artist Bill Fontana that's set to debut this weekend as part of the opening of the North Beach Branch Library, you'll want to tune in. Fontana, a North Beach resident, has been recording the sounds of his neighborhood or the past 15 years, including the bustle of restaurants and cafes, a reading by Lawrence Ferlighetti, Telegraph Hill parrots squawking up a storm, and more; the mix, which will be broadcast from weatherproof speakers on one side of the library's building, will shift constantly so that no two moments are the same. Sounds pretty sweet. (photo by Christoph Rembser)



It's often rumored that housing conditions in certain San Francisco single-room occupancy hotels, or SROs, are atrocious. And now, a May 12 lawsuit filed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera alleges that when it comes to hotels under the ownership of one family in particular, the housing conditions are also illegal. Herrera's suit names the Thakor family, owners of more than a dozen SROs, charging that the city contractors are renting uninhabitable rooms to vulnerable occupants and making false claims for payment from the city. "San Francisco's response to our affordable housing crisis must include aggressively protecting our most vulnerable residents," Herrera said.



By now readers have probably seen their news feeds light up with outrage over the fact that high-end apartment complex NEMA went out there and published a map of San Francisco that did not include the Castro or Chinatown. It's the same mid-Market complex that spurred the earlier creation of a satirical Twitter account. Top tweet on the "ENEMA Lux Apartments" feed? "Amenities not enemies! Tech not blech! White not blight!"



Now you can be Guardian listeners as well as Guardian readers. The Guardian's new radio show, Alternative Ink, is now airing biweekly on, San Francisco's best Internet radio station. Alternating every other week with the SF Weekly, we deliver a blend of music, talk, and random musings. Visit or to hear our latest show, recorded live in the studio on Sun/11.



The 13th annual San Francisco Documentary Film Festival, always a top pick amid the Bay Area's overpopulated film-fest scene, announced its programming last week. The fest, which runs at the Roxie and Brava Theaters in SF, and the Oakland School of the Arts, kicks off June 5 with Actress, the latest from Robert Greene, who is also the recipient of DocFest's Non-Fiction Vanguard Award. (Memo to any fans of The Wire: the subject of Actress is Brandy Burre, who played political troublemaker and McNulty foil Theresa D'Agostino.) The centerpiece film is The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, about the late programmer and activist; closing night brings Sundance-acclaimed doc Rich Hill, about kids growing up in rural Missouri. Check out the whole program (Zombies! Punks! Cults! Christmas music fanatics!) at




You (yes, you!) are cordially invited to join us for a happy hour where we'll toast our Small Business Awards winners and all members of the small business community. Enjoy a celebratory drink (or three); we'll be serving delicious cocktails poured with Distillery 209 Gin by the talented bar staff at Virgil's. It's happening Wed/14, 6:30-8:30pm, at Virgil's Sea Room, 3152 Mission, SF.



Activists are targeting Google this week as its shareholders meet, by calling on the tech giant to disclose how much it spends on lobbying and contributions toward groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "While it sells our information and invests in technologies that could fundamentally shift society, such as robotics, artificial intelligence and drones," said Sam Jewler, communications officer for Public Citizen's U.S. Chamber Watch, "Google has strayed from its 'Don't Be Evil' mantra and is spending unaccountable dark money on lobbying and on funding groups that stifle action on climate change, Internet rights, voting rights, good jobs and more."



We're happy to see the Sup. Mark Farrell, who represents the wealthiest part of the city, take an active interest in reducing homelessness. But a proposal he introduced as we were going to press strikes us as a little out-of-touch with how most San Franciscans are struggling to get by these days. His Homeless Tenant Preference Legislation would give the homeless and those formerly homeless individuals in supportive housing priority for all affordable housing programs and units managed by the city. So rather than taxing wealthy industries to build more affordable housing, we're going to pit the homeless against the poor while promoting a housing boom for the rich? So slipping into homelessness would be a prerequisite for housing subsidies? Try again, supervisor.



Board of Supervisors President and Assembly candidate David Chiu went onto Reddit on May 12 for an "ask me anything." One voter threw this curveball: "I'm a bigger fan of you than Campos, should I just vote for him to send him off to Sacramento to keep you here?" Chiu's response might serve as advice for anyone trying to decide whether they should vote for him or David Campos for Assembly. "I hope you don't mind if I suggest a flaw in the logic to your question," he wrote. "Whoever you send to represent you in Sacramento could be your representative for the next 12 years. Whoever loses this election will very likely only be in office for another two years. What would you rather have — 12 years of someone you support or two years of someone you don't?" Then he added a smiley face. :)