Kevin Warnock

Entrepreneurship, ideas and more

Archive for the ‘USA’ tag

Lusty Lady Theater closes its doors at 3am September 2, 2013 after 40 years in business in San Francisco, California USA

without comments

Bill Maffei, Damon Votour, Courtney Crimson, Sadie Massoch, Andi Baker and Tybalt on September 2, 2013 in front of the now closed Lusty Lady Theater at 1033 Kearny Street in San Francisco, California USA

Bill Maffei, Damon Votour, Courtney Crimson, Sadie Massoch, Andi Baker and Tybalt on September 2, 2013 in front of the now closed Lusty Lady Theater at 1033 Kearny Street in San Francisco, California USA

I photograph people.

My favorite subjects are young women.

When I was a young photography student as a teenager at Brooks Institute of Photography, there was no Craigslist or Model Mayhem. I photographed my classmates and friends outside of school, but I frankly didn’t know many beautiful women that would allow me to photograph them.

I was painfully shy back then, so I would not ask strangers.

I never thought to advertise in the newspaper classified ads, and I probably couldn’t have afforded their rates had I thought of it. What did occur to me was to drop off a mini portfolio of my work at the front desk of The Lusty Lady Theater at 1033 Kearny Street in San Francisco, California USA.

Lusty Lady Theater the day after it shut down after about 40 years in business. September 2, 2013. 1033 Kearny Street, San Francisco, California USA

Lusty Lady Theater the day after it shut down after about 40 years in business. September 2, 2013. 1033 Kearny Street, San Francisco, California USA

This theater was less than a block away from the music venues I went to back then, when I was an enthusiastic fan of punk rock music. The famed Mabuhay Gardens and the club named ‘On Broadway’ on the second floor over Mabuhay Gardens were on the street named Broadway, which intersects with Kearny. I suspect it was the punk rock that brought me to this North Beach neighborhood and put The Lusty Lady on my radar.

I lived in Santa Barbara, California USA at the time since that’s where Brooks was located. But my parents lived in San Francisco, and I returned home periodically. I loved to shoot outdoors in the industrial sections of the City. I couldn’t photograph my Santa Barbara friends, because they weren’t in San Francisco, which is a six hour drive from Santa Barbara.

The nude dancing stage at the now closed Lusty Lady Theater. Note the stripper pole and the square peep show windows that would open for USD $1. Millions of dollars were earned in this approximately ten by twenty foot room, for it was open to the public every day of the year for 4 decades. Photo taken September 2, 2013 - the day after the theater closed.

The nude dancing stage at the now closed Lusty Lady Theater. Note the stripper pole and the square peep show windows that would open for USD $1. Millions of dollars were earned in this approximately ten by twenty foot room, for it was open to the public every day of the year for 4 decades. Photo taken September 2, 2013 - the day after the atheater closed.

Amazingly, the nude dancers who worked at The Lusty Lady Theater seemed to like my portfolio because they telephoned me and volunteered to be photographed by me. I never paid any of the women I photographed — remember, I was a student and supplies were very costly. My large format view camera used sheet film that came to USD $.40 a shot for black and white and $3.00 a shot for color.

Two of the dancers I photographed were in their own bands, so I got to photograph these bands. Some of the images I created back then hold up well, and as soon as I get a scanner than can accommodate 4×5″ large format negatives, I’ll scan some of them and post them to this blog.

You may see my photographs of females models on my photography blog and on my Model Mayhem portfolio.

Entrance lobby to the Lusty Lady Theater, 1033 Kearny Street, San Francisco, California USA, September 2, 2013, the day after the theater closed for business. The counter is filled with the aftermath from an epic party and parade the evening of September 1, 2013.

Entrance lobby to the Lusty Lady Theater, 1033 Kearny Street, San Francisco, California USA, September 2, 2013, the day after the theater closed for business. The counter is filled with the aftermath from an epic party and parade the evening of September 1, 2013.

I used to get invited to parties the theater put together.

These parties were not at the theater.

One party I vividly recall was at a large private home about an hour outside of San Francisco. I took my then college roommate Tom Lounsbury there. There were topless women all over the place — dozens of them. It was like nothing I had seen before. Lounsbury, who has since changed his first name to Ishmeil, pushed me into the swimming pool with all my clothes on. I hadn’t brought swim trunks, and I certainly was not going to go skinny dipping like some of the women were doing. I remember being upset at Lounsbury because my wallet got soaked. But it was all in good fun, and it made the day even more memorable. Of course, there were no mobile phones back then, so I didn’t ruin a phone.

Another memorable party was at a nightclub at the Northwest corner of 11th Street and Folsom Streets in San Francisco. I could not find the current name of the property on Google Maps. At the time, there was a swimming pool in the club — a full size pool like you would find in a hotel. The pool would have a plastic translucent floor placed over it for dancing. But for special events, the flooring was put in storage and the pool was open for swimming. It was at such a private special event that I met Teanna Keller, a dancer at The Lusty Lady. Her stage name was Barbarella. I believe the year was 1986, the year I graduated college and moved back to San Francisco.

Keller mesmerized me by taking off all her clothes in the middle of the afternoon and diving into the swimming pool, while everyone else remained clothed. I had never seen someone do that, before or since. There were over 100 people at this private party.

We met for the first time later that afternoon, when she was again fully clothed. She and one of her girlfriends invited me to head across the street to The Holy Cow, a popular dance club that’s still there today. Eventually her friend just disappeared without saying goodbye, and I was alone with Keller. We dated for perhaps a month, maybe two… I can’t remember.

I ended the relationship, and I remember Keller being upset and crying. She had only recently given me the most impressive bouquet of flowers that any woman has ever given me. It was huge — around three feet high. I was shocked, since we weren’t ever that serious. She gave me these flowers during my lunch break from Newell Color Laboratory, where I worked for less than a year right after graduation from photography school. My work friends were impressed with those flowers. Yes, I got a bit of teasing.

Live nude dancing peep show booths at the now closed Lusty Lady Theater. Photo taken September 2, 2013, the day after the theater closed after forty years in business.

Live nude dancing peep show booths at the now closed Lusty Lady Theater. Photo taken September 2, 2013, the day after the theater closed after forty years in business.

I suspect Keller felt such a bond so quickly with me because I insisted we visit a clinic for the morning after pill. Condoms were new to me in 1986, and Keller was the first person that I had used a condom with. The condom broke because we were not using it correctly, out of mutual ignorance. I was panicked because my friend Lounsbury had just had an unexpected baby with his girlfriend, and at the time that seemed like a bad thing. I didn’t want this supposed bad thing to happen to me, so even though I had discovered the breakage within moments of it happening, I still wanted to play it safe. I took the morning off from Newell and took Keller to a clinic that specialized in female reproductive health. She was prescribed birth control pills with special instruction on how to take some of the pills more quickly than normal. If you use the pills this way, those pills mimic the functionality of today’s ‘morning after pill’ sequence. I don’t think one could buy a morning after pill advertised for that purpose at the time. Of course, Keller didn’t get pregnant, and probably wouldn’t have even without the pills. But she was super appreciative of my being so careful. She told her girlfriend — the one that had invited me to the party where I met Keller, and that friend of mine said how impressed Keller was with me for taking care of her as I did.

In retrospect, I sometimes wish Keller had gotten pregnant and that we had stayed together, because I would have a family now. I soon lost touch with Keller, and haven’t seen her for a quarter century.

I never photographed Teanna Keller, and I don’t even have a picture of her. She was thin with short blond hair, and stood about five feet five inches. I was certainly attracted to her, but I broke up with her because her work was too much for me to handle.

I never went to watch Teanna Keller perform at The Lusty Lady, so I was never her customer. I was poor, but I would have considered it to be poor form to show up at her work to see her without clothes when I could see her in my own home.

I once walked Keller to work from my work and said ‘have a nice day at work.’ She immediately asked me never to say that again when she was heading to her job.

She told me emphatically that she didn’t like the work.

Lap dancing booths at the now closed Lusty Lady Theater. Photo taken September 2, 2013.

Lap dancing booths at the now closed Lusty Lady Theater. Photo taken September 2, 2013.

Keller had a nice apartment in Fremont, California. The last time I saw her was at her apartment. We had already split up by then, but she had asked me for help fixing her record player. The phono cartridge was wobbling on the tone arm, and she wanted me to tighten the screws. Sadly, the plastic threads in the tone arm stripped and the cartridge fell off entirely. When I got there she could play records, though not optimally. When I left, her record player was fully broken and useless. I felt awful. Nonetheless, she gave me such a sweet big hug… I think she still wanted me to be her boyfriend. Sadly, I never saw her or heard from her again.

Keller was 19 years old and I was 24 years old.

When I read in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper that The Lusty Lady Theater would be closing September 2nd, I decided to visit as a blogger. It turns out I was a day late.

The venue closed to customers at 3am this morning, September 2, 2013, with what sounded like an epic party. I probably would not have attended this party even had I known about it, since I don’t like strip clubs or peep shows, and I don’t know anybody at The Lusty Lady. But I am really glad I went this afternoon around 3:30pm as a blogger.

Refuse cans used to use to clean up after monumental closing night bash the night before this picture was taken on September 2, 2013 at the now closed Lusty Lady Theater in San Francisco, California USA

Refuse cans used to use to clean up after monumental closing night bash the night before this picture was taken on September 2, 2013 at the now closed Lusty Lady Theater in San Francisco, California USA

The doors were still open. They can’t be locked because there is no lock that I could see. The place has been open continuously 24 hours a day since 1973, so there was no reason to lock the doors. I suspect the theater stayed open even on September 11, 2001 when most San Francisco businesses closed down after four airplanes crashed on the other side of the United States.

When I arrived and introduced myself this afternoon, there were still half a dozen now ex-employees hanging out drinking mimosas. Andi Baker, second from the right in the group picture above, graciously allowed me to photograph the interior of the peep show, including the famous nude dancing stage, a mirror lined room about ten by twenty feet in size.

The Lusty Lady was a peep show. I understand from interviewing the staff today that this theater was the last live peep show in the United States. The theater charged no admission fee to step inside. Instead they made money by offering phone booth sized private rooms that had a motorized panel at eye level. When paper money was inserted into the bill receptor on the wall, the panel would slide out of the way, revealing a glitzy room mirrored on all surfaces other than the floor. Even the back sides of the panels were mirrored. These bill receptors used to be quarter dollar coin receptors a quarter century ago, and the theater used to distribute their own coinage, like many game arcades used to do, to thwart thieves that wanted to profit from breaking into the coin boxes in the private booths.

I forgot to ask how long the window is open for a dollar.

There were two other money making parts to the theater.

The first was a private pair of rooms called ‘Private Pleasures.’ In this set of rooms, a nude woman would sit in one room, and a customer would sit in the other. There was a glass divider between the rooms.

The second was a lap dancing area, something new from twenty five years ago. I suspect the theater was trying to compete with the many nearby traditional strip clubs that feature lap dances. One such club, the Hustler Club, is in the basement of the building The Lusty Lady is housed in, and the entrance door is adjacent to the entrance door to the Lusty Lady, as can be seen in the exterior picture of both clubs that accompanies this post. I was told that Hustler Club will be moving into Lusty Lady’s former space. The landlord for Hustler Club also owns the space The Lusty Lady rented, I was told.

The Lusty Lady was forced to close because the rent of approximately USD $16,000 was too much for the employee owners to afford. Yes, this club was employee owned and unionized. A feature length movie — Live Nude Girls Unite — was made about the long path the dancers took to achieve this apparently unique in the world ownership structure for a strip club. The movie is available in the US over the streaming service of the movie website Netflix.

Private Pleasures booth at the now closed Lusty Lady Theater, 1033 Kearny Street, San Francisco, September 2, 2013. I was told this is a pair of rooms separated by glass. A nude woman sits in one room, and the paying customer sits in the other room.

Private Pleasures booth at the now closed Lusty Lady Theater, 1033 Kearny Street, San Francisco, September 2, 2013. I was told this is a pair of rooms separated by glass. A nude woman sits in one room, and the paying customer sits in the other room.

The six staff I spoke with were shaken over the closing. They were heartbroken from what I gathered.

Courtney Crimson — I’m not sure if this is her real name or her ‘stage’ name — said she was the Theater Madame, which I presume meant she was the general manager. She used to be a dancer at the club, and started work there seven years ago. Her boyfriend Andi Baker also works at the club. They were a couple before they moved to San Francisco, and they both took jobs at the club, though not at the same time. I am impressed a romantic couple could work together at an adult entertainment club for years. Baker and Crimson were very welcoming to me today, and I sensed they were really pleased that I had come there to seriously and respectfully cover the demise of ‘their club’ on my blog.

I don’t know what the current dancers think of their work as dancers. I suspect most of them liked the work and that some, like my girlfriend Keller, disliked it.

My view is that most sex work should be legal.

I think the United States military should set up brothels near or inside its facilities the world over, perhaps even subsidizing the sex workers to encourage their participation. I suspect that sexual assaults that are apparently out of control in the military would drastically drop if there were affordable prostitutes conveniently available all the time. The Japanese reportedly forced women to service its solders during World War II. How much better it would have been for women to be allowed to set up business nearby or even inside military installations. Sex work is legal in advanced countries like Switzerland and Germany. The US should change its laws at the Federal level to override any state law.

I also believe all drugs should be legal, including cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and Oxycontin.

But even though I think sex work and drugs should be legal, I don’t want anyone I am close to be a sex worker or a drug user. I don’t use drugs, strippers or prostitutes. With the exception of the reporting for this blog post and my years ago visits, I do not go to any adult entertainment establishments, and I never plan to in the future. I think sex work is bad for the workers, and I have seen it destroy and harm lives to shocking degrees. But in spite of this, I think such work should be legal. I also think the social stigma should be lifted, since the stigma itself contributes in my mind to the harm caused by the work.

I don’t drink alcohol or smoke, even though both are legal. Even if sex work were legal and without stigma, I would still not be a customer.

The folding sign that had been outside on the sidewalk presumably for decades now sits folded up against a mirror in the lobby of the now closed Lusty Lady Theater. Photo taken September 2, 2013, the day after the theater closed business.

The folding sign that had been outside on the sidewalk presumably for decades now sits folded up against a mirror in the lobby of the now closed Lusty Lady Theater. Photo taken September 2, 2013, the day after the theater closed business.

One reason I can take this resolute position is that I have lost my shyness nearly completely. Thus, it is now relatively easy for me to meet women, both to socialize with them and to photograph them. I photograph far more young women now than I did 25 years ago, and I still photograph volunteers most of the time. I may hire perhaps one model a year, but that’s not to photograph them but to hear their stories about traveling the world as a model. Such models that really do travel the world while supporting themselves exclusively by modeling don’t volunteer, so to hear their stories and interview them, I have to hire them. I met glamor model Jessi June this way.

I met and photographed many self described Lusties decades ago. Maybe one day I will post their pictures. Right now those pictures are locked away on film negatives, and I don’t have a film scanner.

Many dancers will likely find this post in the coming days. It would be a lot of fun to do a large group picture of as many former Lusty Lady dancers as can be gathered at one time. If a dancer or other theater employee would like to help me organize such a shoot, please contact me via Facebook here. We could do the shoot outside, perhaps in North Beach, South of Market or even in front of the theater before its recognizable facade is replaced. I also have a studio we could use. I can’t pay anyone, but I can promise hundreds of quality photographs, and I will give everyone that models the pictures on DVD before they leave. This is a project that should get done, by me or by someone, before the dancers scatter across the land and can’t be gathered together easily, like they can right now. The male employees should be in the photographs as well, because the theater employed many men. They are part of the family I am certain.

The other dancers I photographed were just friends of mine. I stayed in touch with one for years. I can still find references to her music online. She settled down on a farm, got married and had children. Her name was much more unique than Keller’s name, so out of respect for her privacy, I will not name her on this blog.

http://lustyladysf.com website screen capture, September 2, 2013

http://lustyladysf.com website screen capture, September 2, 2013

The too easy accessibility of pornography will probably see to it that no business like The Lusty Lady will ever start again. In 1973 when this theater opened, people didn’t even have video cassette players, and adult movies were shown only at public movie houses like the California Pussycat chain, where I saw my first adult movie while I was going to UCLA, before Brooks.

The dancers I met were always very nice to me. I liked them. The two dancers I met today were nice to me. Saddie Massoch introduced herself to me before I had a chance to introduce myself. None of these half dozen people I met had any idea what my blog is about, yet they all treated me as if I were writing for The New York Times. Their enthusiasm for The Lusty Lady was genuine, and I suspect their hearts will be heavy for months to come, if not forever.

I hesitated a bit before writing this post. Admitting I once briefly dated a stripper is not something I thought I would do — ever. But Teanna Keller was sweet and we didn’t meet at her work. Everyone likes sex, and the story of The Lusty Lady, with its employee ownership and union representation, is one of the most interesting stories I have encountered. That I have a personal connection to this theater through my hobby of photography makes the story worthy of a blog post. And, look, even The Atlantic Magazine wrote about The Lusty Lady Theater closing!

Here’s a screen shot from The Atlantic website. Be warned, there’s a bit of nudity in the accompanying photograph. Again, this story is in The Atlantic.

Screenshot from TheAtlantic.com showing article 'What it was like to work at the Lusty Lady, a unionized strip club.' Article written August 31, 2013. Screen capture September 2, 2013.

Screenshot from TheAtlantic.com showing article 'What it was like to work at the Lusty Lady, a unionized strip club.' Article written August 31, 2013. Screen capture September 2, 2013.

I took the photographs that accompany this post, except for the shots inside the screen captures. I uploaded my pictures at full camera resolution of 21 megapixels. To see the full size versions, which are much larger, click on the pictures. I used a Canon 5D Mark II DSLR camera with a Canon 16-35mm L zoom lens. Most of the interior photographs are long time exposures. I may have the subject names in incorrect order in the caption for the team shot at the top. I had the subjects write their names down for me, but I forgot to have them put them in left to right order for the caption.

If the large group photograph I propose can’t be organized, I am willing to photograph smaller groups or individual dancers. Just message me via Facebook.

In other news, the replacement span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge opened to public vehicle traffic today for the first time.

Video January 2, 2013 of the final minutes of The Exploratorium science museum at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California USA

without comments

The Palace of Fine Arts shortly after sunset on January 2, 2013, the final day the Exploratorium was open to the public.

The Palace of Fine Arts shortly after sunset on January 2, 2013, the final day the Exploratorium was open to the public.

Two days ago, on Wednesday, January 2, 2013, I captured high definition video of the official public closing of The Exploratorium science museum at 3601 Lyon Street at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California USA. Today I present that video, without editing other than concatenating the files together in the order I shot them.

This blog post complements the post I wrote yesterday, The final day at The Exploratorium science museum at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California – January 2, 2013, where I presented 24 of the still photographs I took at the closing, including the image above of the Palace of Fine Arts after magic hour but before dark. It takes time to compress and upload video, and the video I present today was not done yesterday, thus this second post.

Written by Kevin Warnock

January 3rd, 2013 at 10:00 pm

The final day at The Exploratorium science museum at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California – January 2, 2013

without comments

Palace of Fine Arts about an hour before sunset on January 2, 2013, the final day of operation of The Exploratorium science museum at that location.

Palace of Fine Arts about an hour before sunset on January 2, 2013, the final day of operation of The Exploratorium science museum at that location.

Earlier today I took an emotional trip down memory lane by photographing the world famous Exploratorium science museum during its final hour at its building at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California USA. On Friday, April 12, 2013, the Exploratorium opens at its new location at Pier 15, on the historic waterfront north of Market Street and near the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Pier 15 is served by historic restored street cars that stop in front, so I predict that many more people will visit, since the original location is rather difficult to access, and parking in particular is a nightmare.

Bell ringers smile as they celebrate the start of a new chapter for the Exploratorium, January 2, 2013

Bell ringers smile as they celebrate the start of a new chapter for the Exploratorium, January 2, 2013

If invited by the Exploratorium staff, for example after they discover this post, I will cover the opening event on this blog, and I will photograph it with the same quality technique I used for the photographs that accompany this post. If not invited, I will wait for a free admission day to visit.

I used my Canon 5D Mark II camera for these pictures. I uploaded the pictures at full camera resolution of 21 megapixels. Click on them to see them at full size. I used a tripod for many of the shots, and since it’s so dark inside the Exploratorium, many of the pictures were made with time exposures of up to 8 seconds. That accounts for the blurred people in some of the shots. I like that the blurring suggests lots of busy activity at the museum, which is definitely true. The tripod shots were taken at ISO 100, so the image quality is outstanding. The handheld shots were taken at ISO settings as high as 6,400, and the quality suffers. I should have brought a flash so that I could have taken more photographs of visitors experiencing the exhibits.

I love and admire The Exploratorium museum above all others. The Exploratorium teaches visitors about the world we all live in, and it does it in such an engaging and fun way that visitors keep coming back, over decades. The exterior wall of the large gift shop was covered with sweet notes from visitors, and these note cards were grouped by decade. Even the 1970s section had over 100 cards on it.

The Exploratorium opened in 1969.

The Exploratorium has exhibits that seed the imagination, so this museum helps human kind progress. I think The Exploratorium is more effective at seeding the imagination than even the traditional great museums of the world such as The Louvre.

I almost missed this special day, and had it not been for the website Funcheap San Francisco which lists free or inexpensive ways to have fun in my favorite city. I subscribe to the site’s Facebook page, and a status update to that page alerted me to the final day I am covering here.

Here below is a sequence of photographs that give you a tour of this large museum space, starting and the front, then moving to the upper deck level, and finally showing the back of the museum from the deck.

View from shortly past the front entrance to the Palace of Fine Arts Exploratorium, January 2, 2013, minutes before closing time.

View from shortly past the front entrance to the Palace of Fine Arts Exploratorium, January 2, 2013, minutes before closing time.

The workshop where the exhibits are built, January 2, 2013. Note that it appears to me that many of the big shop tools have already been removed.

The workshop where the exhibits are built, January 2, 2013. Note that it appears to me that many of the big shop tools have already been removed.

The Exploratorium at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on its final day - picture 9, January 2, 2013. Photograph by Kevin Warnock.

The upper deck that overlooks the workshop area at the Palace of Fine Arts Exploratorium, January 2, 2013.

Looking toward the front entrance to the Exploratorium during the final hour of operation at The Palace of Fine Arts, January 2, 2013. Look at the echo chamber pipe in the upper right of the frame.

Looking toward the front entrance to the Exploratorium during the final hour of operation at The Palace of Fine Arts, January 2, 2013. Look at the echo chamber pipe in the upper right of the frame.

A 6 second long exposure of the upper deck at The Exploratorium on its final day at The Palace of Fine Arts, January 2, 2013

A 6 second long exposure of the upper deck at The Exploratorium on its final day at The Palace of Fine Arts, January 2, 2013

A view from the upper deck of gift shop at The Exploratorium, January 2, 2013

A view from the upper deck of gift shop at The Exploratorium, January 2, 2013

A side view from the upper deck looking toward the back of The Exploratorium on January 2, 2013

A side view from the upper deck looking toward the back of The Exploratorium on January 2, 2013

From the upper deck looking toward the back of The Exploratorium at The Palace of Fine Arts, January 2, 2013. Notice how most of the illumination is from the enormous skylights. It's always been dark inside, even when I was in high school. It's a good thing I brought my tripod to allow long time exposures.

From the upper deck looking toward the back of The Exploratorium at The Palace of Fine Arts, January 2, 2013. Notice how most of the illumination is from the enormous skylights. It's always been dark inside, even when I was in high school. It's a good thing I brought my tripod to allow long time exposures.

Now I will show you some of the exhibits. Note that no admission was charged today, so there were more visitors than normal. I only had one hour to take still pictures and video, so I was rushed.

The Exploratorium at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on its final day - picture 10, January 2, 2013

The weight at the end of the pole is balanced on a computer controlled screw drive

The Exploratorium at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on its final day - picture 11, January 2, 2013

A spinning exhibit with mirrors and toy action figures. When spun, a viewer looking into the mirrors sees an animation of all the figures.

The round disk in the table surface is rotating. Visitors try to place metal wheels onto the surface of the quickly rotating disk. If successful, the wheels roll mostly in place relative to the visitor. I remember this exhibit from my childhood.

The round disk in the table surface is rotating. Visitors try to place metal wheels onto the surface of the quickly rotating disk. If successful, the wheels roll mostly in place relative to the visitor. I remember this exhibit from my childhood.

Large parabolic shaped mirror demonstrates that light and heat can be focussed to a point. Note electric space heater pictured in the center of the mirror.

Large parabolic shaped mirror demonstrates that light and heat can be focused to a point. Note electric space heater pictured in the center of the mirror.

Colorful exhibit at The Exploratorium, January 2, 2013. Sadly, I was so rushed that I didn't learn what is being taught here.

Colorful exhibit at The Exploratorium, January 2, 2013. Sadly, I was so rushed that I didn't learn what is being taught here.

I remember this exhibit from when I was in high school. From a specific vantage point to the right, this looks like a solid triangle of wood. From this angle, it's quite a different shape. Memorable.

I remember this exhibit from when I was in high school. From a specific vantage point to the right, this looks like a solid triangle of wood. From this angle, it's quite a different shape. Memorable.

I remember this water vortex exhibit from when I was in high school. This plastic cylinder is about a meter across and 2 meters tall... impressive.

I remember this water vortex exhibit from when I was in high school. This plastic cylinder is about a meter across and 2 meters tall... impressive.

Large mechanical clock powered by energy stored in lifted concrete weights. This shot was taken at 4:35pm, 25 minutes before the Palace of Fine Arts Exploratorium closed forever on January 2, 2013.

Large mechanical clock powered by energy stored in lifted concrete weights. This shot was taken at 4:35pm, 25 minutes before the Palace of Fine Arts Exploratorium closed forever on January 2, 2013.

A child clapping into a long echo chamber tube, and listening to hear the sound of his clapping race to the end of the tube and back

A child clapping into a long echo chamber tube, and listening to hear the sound of his clapping race to the end of the tube and back

A model of an animal cell at The Exploratorium science museum at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California USA, January 2, 2013

A model of an animal cell at The Exploratorium science museum at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California USA, January 2, 2013

As I was leaving, I picked up a free poster advertising the new location for the museum, which will be Pier 15 on the San Francisco waterfront, downtown, near the Ferry Building.

Staff members handing out free promotional posters for the new Exploratorium that will open later this year near the Ferry Building in downtown San Francisco. Picture taken January 2, 2013.

Staff members handing out free promotional posters for the new Exploratorium that will open later this year near the Ferry Building in downtown San Francisco. Picture taken January 2, 2013.

After the gates were closed, there was a private party, with speakers thanking those assembled.

The Exploratorium at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on its final day - picture 21, January 2, 2013. Photograph by Kevin Warnock.

Guests at private party after the closing of The Exploratorium on January 2, 2013 listen to remarks from various speakers over the public address system.

I set up my tripod outside the front door and posed for a self portrait to memorialize this memorable day.

Kevin Warnock, right, stands in front of The Exploratorium at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on its final day, January 2, 2013. Photograph taken via self timer.

Kevin Warnock, right, stands in front of The Exploratorium at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on its final day, January 2, 2013. Photograph taken via self timer.

On my way back to my car, which I parked many blocks away, I set up my tripod one last time to take this ‘magic hour’ photograph of The Palace of Fine Arts.

The Palace of Fine Arts shortly after sunset on January 2, 2013, the final day the Exploratorium was open to the public.

The Palace of Fine Arts shortly after sunset on January 2, 2013, the final day the Exploratorium was open to the public.

Note that the Exploratorium posted a sign at the entrance warning visitors that pictures and video would be captured by many people today, and that some of the material would be published.

I will miss this original location. It’s industrial and gritty and feels authentic. Outside by the adjoining Palace of Fine Arts, the location is truly beautiful. I fear that the new location will be too new, sparkly and flashy, and that the glitz will remove the charm that permeates the original.

Written by Kevin Warnock

January 2nd, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Grandma’s House Restaurant in Yreka California threatened to call the police because my waitress wrote down my order incorrectly

without comments

Interior of Grandma's House Restaurant 123 East Center Street Yreka California 96097 USA. Photograph by Kevin Warnock. Taken December 13, 2012 with an Apple iPhone 5.

Interior of Grandma's House Restaurant 123 East Center Street Yreka California 96097 USA. Photograph by Kevin Warnock. Taken December 13, 2012 with an Apple iPhone 5.

Two days ago, on Thursday, December 13, 2012, I visited Yreka, California, USA.

I like Yreka.

I avoid chain restaurants much of the time, and that’s one reason I like to stop in Yreka (population in 2010 of 7,765) when I happen to be driving on United States Interstate 5, which passes through the town.

I drove around a bit after taking one of the three exits for Yreka. I wanted to dine in the most charming place I could find. I thought I had found a gem when I discovered a restaurant named Grandma’s House. I thought this was particularly fitting, since I had left my actual grandmother’s house earlier in the day and was on my way to my home in San Francisco, California. According to the Facebook page of Grandma’s House, the restaurant opened on July 22, 1977.

I arrived around 7:10pm, and there was only one other diner on this Thursday evening. The weather was clear, and the temperature was about 40 degrees Fahrenheit — a nice night.

I looked over the menu and selected the spaghetti with the full meal add on. The spaghetti alone was USD $9.75, but for $2.00 more the menu said I would get soup, salad bar and desert — the full meal.

The only employee I saw took my order. Her name is Kathy, according to the receipt, which does not specify her last name.

I told Kathy “I would like the spaghetti with the full meal.”

Part way through the meal, which featured an ample and tasty salad,  substantially overcooked pasta, soggy garlic toast and a wilted slice of lettuce as decoration, Kathy reminded me to leave room for desert, which didn’t sound like a presumptuous sales pitch since I had already ordered desert with my full meal.

When I was done eating the spaghetti and salad, Kathy asked which desert I wanted, since the menu didn’t specify the desert included. I asked what my options were, and she named four flavors of pie. I selected Boysenberry pie. Kathy asked if I’d like ice cream with that, and I said yes, figuring ‘why not?’ since she didn’t say there was an extra charge, and I never dreamed she would try to charge me extra without disclosing that fact.

When the bill arrived, I was dismayed to see that my order was not correctly printed on the computer printed check. Instead of the spaghetti and meal, I was charged separately for the spaghetti ($9.75), the slice of pie ($2.75), and the ice cream ($1.85). Instead of $11.75 ($9.75 + $2.00), the bill was for $14.35, or $2.60 more.

All prices are noted without sales tax.

I was and remain 100% certain I asked for the spaghetti plus the meal, because I had just calculated what a good deal it was compared to the individual prices. I have an eye for this kind of detail, and I like to save money.

When I mentioned my concern about the total, I expected Kathy to apologize for her error and quickly take the bill away to be reprinted.

Instead, Kathy became irate and told me I had not read the menu correctly. She went and got the menu, and I pointed at exactly what I ordered, and told her in a kind voice that I was 100% certain I had specified the full meal.

Kathy then pointed out that below the text for the full meal offer there was language that said the dishes without the full meal came with soup or salad, and that I should have picked up on that and confronted her when she carried me a prepared salad and didn’t bring me soup. I knew I was entitled to more than one salad and to more elaborate salads, but I didn’t care, as I was trying to not eat too much since I planned to drive for hours directly after dinner. I was irritated Kathy argued with me in such a way. Shortly before I departed, I gently informed Kathy that I was very sweet to not insist on the salad bar when she brought me a salad. She ignored me.

I didn’t memorize the menu parts I was not interested in, and I should not be expected to. I should further not be expected to continue reading the menu after I have selected my dinner. To be clear, the full menu description was first on the menu, and what Kathy repeatedly called the à la carte description was second, lower on the menu.

Kathy told me point blank that I had ordered à la carte and that on that basis she was compelled to charge me as she did. Kathy told me that the restaurant’s à la carte selection of spaghetti included soup or salad.

I respectfully suggest that Kathy and the restaurant managers consult with WikiPediA to learn their definition of à la carte. I copied the definition and present it here:

À la carte (play /ælæˈkɑrt/)[1] is a French language loan phrase meaning “according to the menu“, and used in

    • A reference to a menu of items priced and ordered separately, i.e. the usual operation of restaurants (In contrast to a table d’hôte, at which a menu with limited or no choice is served at a fixed price.)
    • To order an item from the menu on its own, e.g. a steak without the potatoes and vegetables is steak a la carte

The phrase was adopted into English in 1826, predating by a decade the common use of the French language loanwordmenu“.[2][3]

What the menu really offers is a small meal and a large meal. The menu designer did a poor job, as the small meal should be offered first, to help avoid this kind of confusion.

I am nearly certain Kathy has gotten into numerous arguments similar to the one I had with her — she had her arguments so lined up that they appeared well practiced. Kathy seemed to relish arguing with me, and the arguing started in mere seconds once I sweetly alerted her to the problem I perceived with the check.

Kathy at this point was clearly upset and not thinking rationally, since the food she delivered to me probably cost less than what I could have eaten had I availed myself of the unlimited salad bar and consumed a serving of soup as well.

She should have quickly and graciously adjusted the bill at this point.

But there was no reasoning with Kathy, so I asked that she ask the manager to come speak with me.

Kathy informed me the manager had just left for the evening.

I asked that she call him and allow me to speak with him by phone. Kathy refused.

Kathy then stated that she would call the police if I did not pay the bill she gave me.

This is the first time anyone has threatened to call the police on me, and I was and remain shocked.

I then asked Kathy to phone the manager and ask that he return to the store to meet with me, as I was quite interested in telling the manager about Kathy’s threat to call the police. She said the manager had gone to a basketball game. Kathy never called the manager while I was there.

I handed Kathy a twenty dollar bill, even though she specifically and exclusively asked me to pay by card. I didn’t want her to have access to my card.

I walked with her to the cash register and collected my change. I did not leave a gratuity, as it was unwarranted given the above. I asked for the manager’s card, and she said she would give it to me. She did give me a generic card, which I didn’t examine thoroughly until in my car. I had hoped to get the full name of the manager along with the email address of the restaurant. Sadly, Kathy only hand wrote the first name of a person on the front of the receipt. I think it says Kem, but I presume she meant to write Ken but put one too many humps in the last letter, which she wrote in cursive.

To Kathy’s credit, she apologized while I was paying her. But she never backed down from her position that she was correct and I was not. Her apology thus seemed insincere and designed to dissuade me from contacting her boss. I suspect Kathy is friends with her boss and the police, and counts on them believing her when such disputes arise.

That’s one of the reasons I am writing such a long and detailed blog post about this incident. I want this incident on the record so that if a future customer of Grandma’s House gets charged with a crime if they stand their ground, I want their attorney to be able to learn of my experience with Grandma’s House.

If I had any doubt in my mind, I would not write this post. But I am 100% certain I asked for the full meal. If this is so, then all of Kathy’s arguments fail. It makes no difference if I didn’t pick up on inconsistencies that happened after I ordered. I am not a lawyer litigating a case where finding and calling out inconsistencies is required. I was a customer — a customer ordering moderately priced food in a mom and pop restaurant.

I am writing this as a caution to everyone that deals with the public. You never know who might write about you, so be careful, responsible and thoughtful. Do not lose your cool, and do not threaten to call the police over trivial matters like this one.

Kathy appeared to be between 50 and 60 years old, so she should know better than to treat me as she did.

I have no idea what the police would do in a situation where I was disputing fewer than $3 including tax, and where my side of the story was so easy and reasonable to believe.

I was well dressed in a sports jacket and dress shoes. My shiny BMW 5 Series was the only car in the customer lot. I had plenty of cash with me. I think the police would have taken my side, but I have no experience with police in such a situation, and I hope never to acquire any. I did not and do not feel this is a situation worthy of police involvement. The person that needed to learn of my displeasure was her boss, not the police.

In my opinion, Kathy should never be permitted to interact with the public in a business setting. If I were her employer, I would probably fire her over this incident, if legally permissible in the jurisdiction where I employed her, and after careful consultation with my employment attorney.

Grandma’s House is not a chain, according to Kathy. I wanted to love this restaurant. It’s adorable, as you can see from the picture above, which I posted to my Facebook Wall before my food arrived. I don’t criticize businesses frequently, but Grandma’s House earned this negative review.

December 17, 2012: I telephoned Grandma’s House Restaurant this afternoon and asked to speak with the owner. The person that answered said his name is Tom and that he is the owner. I described my poor dining experience I had that I describe above. Tom apologized several times, and said that he would speak with Kathy. He said Kathy works a full time job during the day and works at his restaurant in the evening. Tom said the menu is being reprinted and that the new version will be more clear. Tom several times said that he was sorry but nothing could be done to remedy the situation at this point. I did not point out to him that he could send me a check for $2.60, as I was hoping that by the end of our 12 minute conversation that he would realize that was a good start to a remedy. Tom never offered to refund my overpayment. I didn’t ask because I don’t need the money, among other reasons.

If you’d like to see the original receipt and the business card from my visit, click the link below to bring up the PDF scan I made today.

Grandmas House Restaurant receipt December 12, 2012, Yreka, California

It’s so easy to send a check to someone thanks to the free check writing and mailing services from banks and credit unions. I used the service today to send a check to Taco Bell in Willows, California. I don’t normally eat at Taco Bell, but I was in a rush Friday morning to get to Berkeley, California to a PhD completion party for a friend that completed her advanced studies. I ordered a breakfast burrito and hash browned potatoes at the drive up window. By the time I found they had given me two burritos with my potatoes, I had driven away, and I didn’t have time to go wait in line to explain and return the extra and unpaid for burrito. So, I eventually ate the second burrito and paid for it by check today. The huge advantage to bill pay is they pay the $.45 postage and there is no way to overdraw your account by bouncing a check, because they take the money out before they send the check.

Written by Kevin Warnock

December 15th, 2012 at 12:38 am