Mother of Ghost Ship fire victim pens moving opinion piece

Two years ago Sunday, a fire broke out at the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland, California. By the time it was extinguished, 36 people -- friends of friends from the Bay Area art and music community I know and love -- had died. I saw the fire that night, as I was driving to my home just a mile away, but didn't know until the next morning what tragedy had taken place.

Now, a mother has written a brave, though haunting, piece that describes not only what it was like to find out that her child had died in the fire, but also what it's been like to live with that unfathomable loss. A warning: As a mom myself, I found it to be an extremely difficult read and it may be for you as well.

Colleen Dolan lost her daughter Chelsea Faith Dolan (aka Cherushii) on December 2, 2016:

I burned my thumb this afternoon. The oven mitt I used to remove a cookie sheet from the oven must have grown thin in one spot, and the heat immediately seared my flesh. The pain was so severe that I dropped the pan on the oven door and rushed to the faucet to run cold water over my blistering thumb. In a flash, I saw 36 young people trapped on the second floor of a burning warehouse in Oakland, screaming in desperation, “Help us!”

My hope is that those beautiful young people passed out from the smoke before experiencing the scorching flames.

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A drone's eye view of the thick wildfire smoke in San Francisco

My pal Shalaco (previously) shot this bleak video of the smoke in San Francisco using his drone.

He writes:

...A look at SF’s skyline. San Francisco’s Air Quality seems to be getting worse, current AQI is 239, purple, very unhealthy. The city skyline is obscured by smoke and Northern California’s air is rated worst in the world as a result of smoke from the Camp fire.

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Currently in SF... A look at SF’s skyline. San Francisco’s Air Quality seems to be getting worse, current AQI is 239, purple, very unhealthy. The city skyline is obscured by smoke and Northern California’s air is rated worst in the world as a result of smoke from the Camp fire. #california #californiafires #campfire🔥 #campfire

A post shared by shalaco (@shalaco) on Nov 16, 2018 at 6:17pm PST

If you live in an affected area, wear an N-95 mask, no joke. Read the rest

Bay Area organization offers free birthday parties to homeless kids, cake and all

Habitot Children's Museum in Berkeley, California is making an unusually generous offer to the families of homeless kids. They are providing them with the opportunity to celebrate their child's birthday at their facility for free. Their free birthday party offer includes all the standards: decor, pizza, juice, cake, and even goodie bags for the guests. Plus, they gift the birthday child something special.

Now, I'm not sure the age limit for the eligible children but, according to their site, the museum serves infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

Want to learn more? Email the museum's Family Programs Manager at familyprograms@habitot.org. Also, if you have the means, please consider donating to Habitot so they can keep the magic going.

photo by Yoshika Mcalister Read the rest

Beloved 94-year-old teacher visits her (now-adult) students in her old classroom

A couple of years ago, PBS NewsHour interviewed Flossie Lewis, a delightful and sharp 91-year-old teacher/writer who, in her words, still thinks she's 15 (Don't we all?). In the video, she spoke frankly about growing old. Over 7 million people saw her video, including many of her former students. All of them, including Lemony Snicket writer Daniel Handler, had words of praise for her.

Flossie is now 94 and documentarian Steve Goldbloom decided to visit with her again. This time, he took her to her old classroom in San Francisco and asked a few of her former students to come along. Watch.

World Teachers' Day is Friday. This one goes out to Flossie! Now, can someone PLEASE get this woman a ride on Ocean Ave.? Read the rest

Treasure Island Music Festival on the San Francisco Bay, October 13-14

It's almost time again for Boing Boing's favorite annual music event, the Treasure Island Music Festival (TIMF), taking place October 13 and 14 on the San Francisco Bay! This year, the festival takes over the Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in Oakland, California! As always, the stellar lineup is wonderfully eclectic, featuring Tame Impala, A$AP Rocky, Lord Huron, Santigold, Sharon Van Etten, and a dozen other artists. Orchestrated by our pals at Noise Pop and Another Planet Entertainment, the festival will offer plenty of artisanal food and drink to fuel you along with DIY activities, art installations, and indie vendors. Dig it.

Buy tickets: Treasure Island Music Festival

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Help save artist Kal Spelletich's robots and the future of tech-art

For 25 years, my friend Kal Spelletich of Seemen and Survival Research Labs has lived and worked in a San Francisco warehouse studio where he's built myriad robots, fire machines, and sculptures, hosted music, art, and political action events, and provided support for more than 100 other artists, activists, and fringe characters. Guess what. Kal's been evicted. This is yet another gut punch for the Bay Area's creative community that inspired so many technologists but is now being eviscerated by today's big money tech bubble. Kal has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help him push through: Save Kal's Robots

Rented way back in 1995, my space is was one of the last remaining raw warehouse art spaces and I made it into a home for experimental, non commercial art. I hosted jaw-dropping, fire spewing, ear shattering robot performances, music, noise and art events with the likes of Chris Johanson, Johanna Jackson, Marie Lornez and her epic boat, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Matt Heckert.

I did all this without grants or outside support.

No trust funds, patrons or high paying side jobs here. I passed along the cheap rent.

I provided housing and studios for countless artists, freaks, traveling activists and radical journalists like Trevor Paglen, AC Thompson, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, worked on Survival Research Laboratories shows, and countless others.

My life and warehouse were the inspiration for Rudy Rucker’s sci-fi novel Realware. Another book that wouldn't have happened without my warehouse is Streetopia.

I ran my studio as an experimental art/live space that housed and supported over 100 other artists and activists.

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Just the Tip: Documenting San Francisco's (undeniably phallic) Salesforce Tower

If you've been to San Francisco lately, no doubt that you've seen the 1,070-foot architectural monstrosity known as the Salesforce Tower. The new skyscraper is hard to miss as it's now the tallest building in the city's skyline and because it looks like a big, shiny phallus.

You can't escape it. It can be spotted from nearly everywhere you go in the city. I can even see it from various points in Alameda.

Married couple Nikki and Stone Melet noticed it too. They were so amused by it that they started the site "Just the Tip SF" as a humorous way to document what I have dubbed, the "TechBro Dick."

Nikki told ABC7News, "I was dropping my daughter off at school and I saw the tower. I was driving down the street and I saw the tower. I'm like, this is crazy, you can see the tip from everywhere."

People are encouraged to send in their own photos of "just the tip" from wherever they may see it.

photo by Rusty Blazenhoff, taken from Pier 39 pedestrian bridge Read the rest

SF Bay Area on Thursday: Meet Frank Drake, the father of SETI, at Institute for the Future's "Voyager Record" celebration!

A reminder that this Thursday (3/22), Institute for the Future, the nonprofit thinktank where I'm a researcher, is hosting an event celebrating the Voyager Golden Record at our Palo Alto, California offices/gallery! Joining me in conversation will be legendary astronomer Frank Drake, the father of the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence and technical director of the original Voyager Record in 1977. Tickets are $10 and RSVP is required: "The Voyager Golden Record: Celebrating a Journey Through Space and Time" I hope to see you there!

Image above: Frank and I scrying with the Voyager Record cover.

Here's the full announcement...

IFTF's The Future Presents... "The Voyager Golden Record: Celebrating a Journey Through Space and Time" Thursday, March 22, 2018, 5:30 to 7:30pm 201 Hamilton Ave. Palo Alto, CA RSVP is required.

Please join Institute for the Future for a reception celebrating the Voyager Golden Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials, launched into space by NASA in 1977 and released on vinyl for the first time in the 2017 Grammy-winning boxed set, “Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition,” created by IFTF researcher David Pescovitz, Timothy Daly, and Lawrence Azerrad. At this special event, Pescovitz, also a co-editor of Boing Boing, will be host a conversation with legendary astronomer Frank Drake, the father of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and technical director of the original Voyager Record.

Forty years ago, NASA launched two Voyager spacecraft on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space.

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John Waters talks about Oakland punk-fest Burger Boogaloo

In case you haven't heard, there's a big punk music festival happening in Oakland, California this upcoming holiday weekend. It's called Burger Boogaloo and our highest-ranking "filth elder," Mr. John Waters himself, is emceeing it for the third year in a row. Burger Boogaloo is a popular event 'round these parts and this year will be no exception, as Iggy Pop headlines, along with the Buzzcocks and X.

In a recent interview with Jeremy Tarr of Fodor's Travel, Mr. Waters shared his thoughts about the event. Here's what he said about seeing punks in the audience:

"It's punks of all ages. It's from nouveau punks to punk nostalgia, which is pretty great to watch... Some of them I see are older. You never thought punks could be oldies but badies – not oldies but goodies. It's just exciting to see a grandmother pogo dancing as much as it is to see a 14-year-old kid being a punk for the first time. "

And his familiarity with the musicians in the 2017 lineup:

"Some of them I've never heard of and I don't know. That's what I like so much … But, I know John Doe and X. I've known Iggy for years. Iggy was in my movies. I've become friends with Shannon [Shaw, lead singer of Shannon and the Clams] and that gang. I am a fan really... Though, I think probably being the oldest person there – I don't know – how old is Iggy? I don't know who's older.

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CA state Corrections worker hit and threw hot coffee on volleyball-playing Muslim guy in park

A woman who works for California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (they handle prisons and parole and stuff) is under investigation after she was filmed mocking a Muslim man who was praying in a Bay Area park. Read the rest

Billionaire tech VC Vinod Khosla owns the very tides, sea, sands (or so he claims)

Silicon Valley billionaire venture capitalist and Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla wants everyone to stay off Martins Beach, a lovely stretch of oceanfront south of Half Moon Bay. To that end, he is invoking The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War in 1848 and transformed California from being a chunk of Mexico to becoming part of the USA. Okay, Vinod. Whatever. Read the rest

Bay Area drone-fliers' meetup

Jeffrey writes, "Bay area flyers, come talk and fly drones over pizza and beer in our massive 17 foot tall ceiling warehouse!

Amateur and professionals are welcome to come and talk drones and show off their airframes in action. We'll have plenty of charging stations, onsite repair workbench, tasty local beer, and food/snacks for flyers.

Compete for fun prizes, fame, and whimsical trophies in our drone flying contests.

Starts at noon on April 5, contests start at 2 PM.

Plenty of parking and free for all." Read the rest