ISSUE 04 WINTER 2018
Philanthropy: Perspectives on the Battery Powered Theme Healthy Democracy Art: Photo Essay: The First 100 Days of This Presidency by Naomi Harris; Case Study of Burning Man’s Radical Transition to a Nonprofit Music: Vera Sola’s Deeply Personal Narratives; The Vinyl Collection of Josh Rosenthal, the “Record Man’s Record Man” Culture: Psychedelic History, Science, and Potential Legalization; The Riotous History of the Haight Tech: Tim O’Reilly and Jen Pahlka on the Tech Industry’s Role in Building a Better World for Everyone
Table of Contents Staff & Contributors — 2 Club Notes / Battery Bites — 4
Battery Art: Josh Reames, Erica Deeman, and Cortis & Sonderegger — 62
Oakland Mural by Cover Artists Chad Hasegawa and Guillaume Ollivier — 6
Battery Member Collector Profile: Doug Mandell on Building a Meaningful Photography Collection — 70
Battery Powered — 8 Past Grantee: People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights, or PODER — 12 Battery Sparks: Adama Iwu and the Power of Conversation; Steve Phillips and the New American Majority — 16
Arts & Culture — 18 Battery Member Healthy Democracy Spotlights: Renee DiResta, Ken Wun, Mira Veda, Alex Gladstein, Holly Baxter, Martha Conte, and June Williams — 18 The Haight: Ground Zero of Hippiedom and Its Long-Term Impact — 24 5 Myths about Psychedelics — 32 Battery Gift Guide: Newly Legal Cannabis Edition — 36 Battery Member Legalization Spotlight: Jade Netanya Ullmann of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies — 40 The Ultimate Act of Gifting: Burning Man’s Radical Transition to a Nonprofit — 43
About This Issue’s Theme What does it look like when all people are empowered to participate in our democracy? In this issue of The Battery Candy, we include art and articles related to the current Battery Powered philanthropic theme: Healthy Democracy. We asked local artists Chad Hasegawa and Guillaume Ollivier — two artists with totally different styles who collaborate on public murals around San Francisco and Oakland — to create both interior and exterior cover art that expresses the theme. Their designs are extracted from a mural they painted in Oakland, which takes up an entire city block, so the logistics of photographing it in its entirety are complicated. Please see pages 6 & 7 to view a portion of the wall and their collaborative public artwork.
A Note from Cover Artist Chad Hasegawa “The front cover design is extracted from my design of a mural Guillaume and I created together for a wall in Oakland Chinatown. It is literally the only wall in the area that is beautifully colored for everybody. The front and back cover interiors represent Guillaume’s half of the wall. That is where we are at. We are political in a way of the anti. We are bringing it back from the take. We are about giving again. It’s about giving now. The art is more than just for your friends or yourself. It is about everyone around you.” —Chad Hasegawa
Why We Need to Review Faith in Government, by O’Reilly Media’s Tim O’Reilly and Code for America’s Jen Pahlka — 49 Photo Essay: The First 100 Days of This Presidency by Naomi Harris — 52
GREEN ESTD. 2018
Musician Interview: The Personal Narratives of Vera Sola, “The Only Truth” — 74 Battery Member Vinyl Collection: Josh Rosenthal, “The Record Man’s Record Man” — 76 The Battery Book List: Enrique Landa on Duchamp: A Biography; Kevin Hartz on Emma; Nicole Ward-Parr on Written on the Body — 78 Battery Member Surprise Fiction: Rob Reid’s Playful Science Fiction Set in Silicon Valley — 81 Battery Member Millennial Spotlights: Stroy Moyd, Anarghya Vardhana, Whitney Hudak, Diana Epstein, and Adam Elmaghraby — 90 Battery Travel: Magical Burgundy — 92
Battery Behind The Scenes — 100 Battery Staff Spotlight: Megan Stromberg, General Manager of The Battery — 100 Battery Tea Service: CommuniTea — 102 Battery Vintage: California’s Creativity Applied to French Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre Wines — 104 Battery Archaeology: The Raucous, Entrepreneurial History of the Barbary Coast and What It Left Behind — 105 If These Walls Could Talk: Battery Stories as Told by Interior Designer Ken Fulk — 108 The Suggestion Box — 110 The Back Page: The Great Glass Battery Elevator — 112
Commitment to Sustainability
As part of our quest to make The Battery Candy sustainable, the paper used for this magazine is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC). FSC runs a global forest certification system with two key components: Forest Management and Chain of Custody. The certification process is carried out by independent organizations called certification bodies, which assess forest managers and forest product companies against FSC standards. FSC certification allows companies to label their FSC products, which then enables consumers to choose products that support responsible forest management. To learn more about the FSC, visit fsc.org. This paper is also 100% carbon neutral. Greenhouse gas emissions from the paper lifecycle, the transport, and the printing of this magazine have been offset through investments in energy efficiency and non-fossil fuel energy technologies. For more information, visit hemlock.com/zero.
Staff & Contributors Jules Shell
Publisher and Editor in Chief
Jessica Carew Kraft
Photographer, “Battery Vintage” and all around the club
Author, “Excavating the Spirit of the Battery” and around-the-club pieces
Marla Aufmuth is a corporate lifestyle, portrait, and events photographer. She has rubbed elbows (literally) with Jimmy Carter, sat on Jane Fonda’s feet (oops), and photographed all three female ex-Secretaries of State (wow).
Jessica Carew Kraft is a Battery member and independent journalist covering culture, health, and education, with bylines in the New York Times, TheAtlantic.com, Forbes.com, San Francisco Magazine, and other publications.
Author, “Collector Interview: Doug Mandell” and the Art section
Matt Bernstein is the Director of Art at The Battery. He produces ongoing visual arts programming for members in and outside the Club and manages the acquisitions and curation of The Battery’s Art Collection.
Tim Lahan is an artist and illustrator currently living in San Francisco. His work has been collected and featured internationally and can be found in places like Printed Matter, the MoMA Library, and the New York Public Library.
Author, “If These Walls Could Talk”
Author, “Member Spotlights”
Mikhail Birch is a Digital Media and Content Producer at The Battery. She originally hails from New Zealand with a background in media, anthropology, and sociology, and she sings under the name Saski.
Lydia Laurenson is a Battery member and Managing Editor of The Battery Candy. She has spent her career in media, technology, and social good. Her writing about culture, art, identity, tech, and business has appeared in The Atlantic, Vice, Harvard Business Review, and other publications.
Laura Marie Braun
Illustrator, “5 Myths about Psychedelics”
Author, “Newly Legal Cannabis Gift Guide” and music pieces
Laura Braun is a music-obsessed writer in San Francisco, by way of Chicago. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, She Shreds, and Venus Zine, among other publications. She can typically be found digging through the bins at Amoeba Music.
Elizabeth McConaughy-Oliver is an Illustration major at California College of the Arts and new to the Bay Area.
Casandra Cortes Captions, “Photo Essay: PODER” Casandra Cortes is a writer and digital marketer from Los Angeles with a passion for growing nonprofits, who currently works primarily with Floating Doctors and Remote Care Education.
Katie Morton Illustrator Katie Morton, born in Palo Alto, California, received their BFA in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art, then lived in Beijing for four years. Morton is currently exploring queerness and vulnerability in their work, and will be pursuing an MFA at Hunter College in New York City.
Welcome to Issue 4 of The Battery Candy. Along with our coverage of arts, culture, and philanthropy of the Bay Area, we’re including lots of stuff on the theme of Healthy Democracy. We feature both Battery members who are doing democracy-related work and the democracyminded philanthropy of our collective giving circle, Battery Powered. We zero in on the turbulent activist history of the Haight and investigate its rich, counterculture legacy — from the recent legalization of cannabis, to the impact of psychedelics, to the increasingly global nonprofit behind Burning Man. And of course, we talk about all the interesting things happening around here — from the new Battery Travel Collection and our summer trip to Burgundy to CommuniTea, a new tea offering at the Club. We even dug up some lost stories on the archaeology beneath The Battery. As always, we’d love your ideas for future issues, so be in touch at candy@ thebatterysf.com. We hope you enjoy this issue as much as we enjoyed working on it, and hope to be seeing you around the Club this fall... Love, Candy Adam Smiley Poswolsky
Author, “Millennials At The Battery”
Photographer, “Burning Man’s Radical Transition to a Nonprofit”
Adam Smiley Poswolsky is a Creative in Residence at The Battery, millennial workplace expert, and author of The Quarter-Life Breakthrough.
Natalie Ruxton Author, “The Seven Deadly Sins” and “The Glass Elevator” Natalie Ruxton is a journalism major at the University of Southern California and a San Francisco native. She is pursuing a career in investigative video journalism using social media and technology.
Author, “Battery Travel: Magical Burgundy” and “Staff Spotlight: Megan Stromberg”
Photographer, “The First 100 Days”
Guillaume Ollivier was born in a little town outside of Paris and moved to Los Angeles at the age of 10, where he found a creative outlet in graffiti. Street culture has always allowed him to adapt to new environments and communicate visually to the public.
Jules Shell is the Brand Director of The Battery and Editorin-Chief of The Battery Candy. With a mission to tell untold stories, Jules co-founded Foundation Rwanda, a nonprofit that sponsors education for over 830 second generation survivors of the Rwandan genocide, and she is co-author of two books, Bar Mitzvah Disco and Camp Camp.
Co-author, “Why We Need To Renew Faith in Government”
Tim O’Reilly is the Founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, which has provided the picks and shovels of learning to Silicon Valley for the past 35 years, and the author of WTF? What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us. He has been married to coauthor Jen Pahlka since 2015.
Chad Hasegawa got his BFA in advertising at the Academy of Art University and worked for agencies such as Venables Bell & Partners and Goodby Silverstein & Partners before leaving advertising to concentrate on painting street murals and gallery canvases.
Jennifer Joseph Author, “The History of Haight-Ashbury” Jennifer Joseph is the editor and publisher of Manic D Pressbooks. She also wrote for the Bay Guardian newsweekly and other publications for more than ten years and edited several editions of a guidebook titled The Underground Guide to San Francisco.
Jen Pahlka Co-author, “Why We Need To Renew Faith in Government” Jen Pahlka is the Founder and Executive Director of Code for America, which recently received $250K from Battery Powered. While serving as the Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. in the Obama administration, she conceived and co-founded the United States Digital Service.
Illustrator ,“Excavating the Spirit of The Battery”
Inside cover artist
Lindsay Stripling Lindsay Stripling studied black-and-white photography at UC Santa Cruz and painting at San Francisco Art Institute. She lives in the Sunset District of San Francisco where she is a freelance illustrator and painter.
Naomi Harris Naomi Harris has lived and photographed at a Miami Beach senior citizens hotel and attended 38 swingers’ parties for her book America Swings; she also visited more American-themed amusement parks in Europe and European-themed towns in America than any other person for her project EUSA.
Tom Stahl is an award-winning San Francisco travel and landscape photographer. A set of his Burning Man images won runner up in the Travel Photographer of the Year 2017 “Destinations” competition.
Author, “5 Myths about Psychedelics” R.U. Sirius Is a writer, editor, and musician best known for creating the countercultural technology magazine Mondo 2000, popular during the 1990s. He is currently editing the Mondo2000.com website, and his music is available on Bandcamp.
Kevin Smokler Author, “The Battery Book List” Kevin Smokler is a Creative in Residence at The Battery and the author of three books, most recently Brat Pack America: A Love Letter to ’80s Teen Movies.
Photographer, “Photo Essay: PODER” Misha Vladimirskiy is a Creative in Residence at The Battery. He has started two media companies, has provided content for clients such as Banana Republic, Levi’s, and Airbnb, and has been featured in Rolling Stone, Billboard, and the New York Times.
Dr. Jennifer M. Walske Author, “Burning Man’s Radical Transition to a Nonprofit” Dr. Jennifer M. Walske is a Battery member, a professor at UCLA, and a Social Impact Fellow at Berkeley-Haas Business School. Her research centers on the funding and scaling of startups, and she’s a member of Skinny Kitty camp at Burning Man.
Eileen Wu Photos and Captions, “Battery Travel: Magical Burgundy” Eileen Wu is a Battery member who has reported and produced for national, regional, and online news organizations, including CNBC and CNN. She has covered everything from emerging technologies to the 2008 financial crisis and the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.
Not To Be Missed — Highlighted Events at The Battery
In Case You Missed It
Superhero DJ A-Trak. Photo Courtesy of A-Trak.
September 24 San Francisco-based American synth pop/indie rock band Geographer Lead singer Mike Deni has described his sound as being “soulful music from outer space,” using analog, electronic, and acoustic elements to craft dense layers and unique sound textures. October 14 Moon Hollow Vine Society Launch Party Join us for an afternoon at Moon Hollow Ranch, Michael and Xochi Birch’s private ranch in the secluded hills of Sonoma. Enjoy samples of new wines from the ranch vineyard, a moveable feast, and a guided walk led by Battery Wine Director Christophe Tassan. Afterwards, we’ll enjoy an informal dinner by the lake with seasonal staples, garden-fresh vegetables, and tastefully selected salads. All events are subject to change. For details and to RSVP, go to thebatterysf.com/events.
October 27 Battery Horror Story: 5th Anniversary Halloween Party Let your imagination run wild as we bring you an unsettling (and maybe even fun?!) night exploring supernatural horrors and everyday fears. Don’t miss our best party of the year! December 7 The No Office Holiday Party and Market We’ll deck the halls with holiday cheer at our fifth annual No Office Holiday Party and Market. It’s like a boring office party, but not boring, and not at your office! Merrymaking will include an artisan market featuring over 30 vendors selling gorgeous gifts for everyone on your list, as well as live music, DIY gifts, mistletoe, holiday treats and drinks, and more! December 31 Electric Sheep: New Year’s Eve Superhero DJ A-Trak (considered one of the top scratch DJs in the world) joins us to ring in 2019 at a New Year’s party you won’t soon forget...
A Suite at The Battery Hotel. Photo Courtesy of Melissa Kaseman.
In The News
Around T he Club
The Battery Hotel recently received 9/10 stars, a stellar review in the Telegraph UK. They seem to like us on the other side of the pond! “Service is among the best we’ve encountered.... everyone is casual and good-humoured, while remaining impressively precise and thoughtful. ... Simply put, San Francisco’s best hotel.”
On TripAdvisor, we’re currently in the Top 5 for hotels in San Francisco, thanks to everyone who reviewed The Battery Hotel. We love you for doing that and are always happy to read more reviews.
Tell your friends: Anyone can stay at The Battery Hotel. All hotel guests are considered resident members and have access to the club’s facilities during their stay, including all events.
For all bookings, and to receive the discount, please call the Front Desk at 415.230.8000 or email sleep@ thebatterysf.com.
Reminder: after 12 p.m., Battery members can book same-day hotel rooms for themselves at 50% off the best available rate.This discounted rate is bookable for the same night, and for one night only, excluding The Penthouse.
The Battery will be closed on Thanksgiving, November 23rd, as well as December 24th and 25th.
Public art and street art have a long history of political expression, and we believe in their power to help people connect meaningfully to their surroundings. Muralists Chad Hasegawa and Guillaume Ollivier have collaborated on countless public art murals around Oakland and San Francisco. Their artistic styles are very different from one another, and yet they always find meaningful ways to work together. Their art serves to reaffirm neglected places in the city by seeking out space in the community and working with local residents to understand the colors, design, and feeling community members want the finished wall to bring to their neighborhood. The very act of their collaborative work is an inspired example of art as a form of democracy to empower community.
What does it look like when ALL people are empowered to participate in our democracy?
Be Counted. Be Educated. Be Heard.
Join us as we explore issues around the theme Healthy Democracy. Organization Night - Meet the leaders of the finalist organizations working on initiatives in Healthy Democracy // October 18, 7 - 8:45 p.m. Allocation Night - This evening is your opportunity to engage with fellow Battery Powered members to move great ideas forward // November 14, 7 - 10 p.m. Painting of Flag Courtesy of Guillaume Ollivier
Please reach out to Battery Powered for event availability at firstname.lastname@example.org
Battery Powered is The Battery’s collective giving program. Created in 2014 by Michael and Xochi Birch (who co-founded The Battery in 2012), Battery Powered was envisioned as a way for members of The Battery community to activate their generosity. Battery Powered members are finding and funding people and projects with a serious chance of making our society stronger. It is a platform for people who want to connect with one another, to learn, and to direct their charitable giving in an effective and collective way. The issue areas and themes of Battery Powered also influence conversation around The Battery, including what’s published in The Battery Candy, the magazine you’re reading now.
How Battery Powered Works All members of The Battery are invited to join Battery Powered. New and continuing Battery Powered members choose their level of action:
· Battery Powered ($4K+), · Battery Couple ($20K+), or · High Voltage ($100K+).
With their up-front donation, Battery Powered members join or remain a part of the community for that entire year. Throughout the course of a year, Battery Powered explores three themes that are selected by the membership and represent some of the most important issues of our time. Battery Powered members learn in depth about each theme’s key challenges through
Current Battery Powered Theme By Colleen Gregerson
in-person events with experts and organizations, online resources, member roundtables, and field trips. Then they vote on how to allocate the funds. Battery Powered grants more than $1 million to five or six organizations related to each theme. Since its founding in 2014, the Battery Powered community has given over $14 million! You can find past grantees, and past themes, on the Battery Powered website at thebatterysf.com/ batterypowered.
During the Battery Powered research phase for the theme “Healthy Democracy,” we concluded that our most productive focus could be framed with this core question:
How To Learn More
From some perspectives, we are experiencing a civic boom. From the Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party movements to the women’s march and high school walkouts, Americans are participating in our democracy in numbers not seen since the civil rights, women’s rights, and antiwar movements of the 1960s. A recent poll by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that “one in five Americans have protested in the streets or participated in a political rally since the start of 2016.” And more than 2,100 people are running for Congress this year, the highest number ever recorded. But, as Thomas Jefferson said, “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” If voter turnout is one key indicator of participation in our democracy, then we are still struggling. Turnout in the 2014 midterm elections was a measly 36%, the lowest in 70 years. Even at the height of Obama-mania in 2008, turnout was only 61% of eligible voters. Compare that to the world leader, Belgium, with turnout of 87%. Or South Korea at 78%, or Israel at 76% in their most recent elections. Low voter turnout isn’t the only signal that our democracy is in distress. In 2016, the Economist demoted the U.S. from a “full” to a “flawed” democracy. In 2017, a poll by the University of Maryland and the Washington Post found that 36% of Americans are “not proud” of how our democracy functions. And we have all witnessed increased polarization in our country.
As we finish our in-depth look at the theme of healthy democracy, the next Battery Powered theme will look at homelessness and solutions for the Bay Area. Want to join the Battery Powered community of collective impact? · If you are a Battery member, you can join Battery Powered directly at: thebatterysf.com/giving/join · Attend a Battery Powered Expert Night or Organization Night. These events are open to all Battery members. · Have coffee and chat with a current Battery Powered member, or with Nicole, Battery Powered Membership Director. To speak with Nicole, be in touch at email@example.com Battery Powered is a program of The Battery Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All gifts are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
What does it look like when all people are empowered to participate in our democracy?
Thus, we believe it is key to inspire people to participate. Many feel their voices are overwhelmed by the vast amount of money in politics or districts so gerrymandered as to discount their vote. And even when people overcome those hurdles and decide to participate, they may face burdensome requirements to register to vote or cast a ballot.
Our Focus The Battery Powered theme this fall will thus focus on three areas to empower people to participate in our democracy, maintaining a nonpartisan approach to the work we support: BE COUNTED. The U.S. Census is a foundational yet often overlooked part of our democracy. From government funding to reapportionment and redistricting, it is critical that every person be counted, especially in California. BE EDUCATED. Our goal is an empowered population; where better to start than with youth? By supporting youth to be engaged citizens we can raise a new generation of informed voters and active members of communities. BE HEARD. People-centered reforms can empower marginalized communities, inspire engagement by the people, and lift up trust in government. Pro-voter reforms around campaign finance, voter registration, and the voting process can significantly move the needle on participation. Battery Powered will be allocating over $1 million to organizations on the frontlines of advancing our democracy. Want to be part of it?You can still join by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Illustration by Elizabeth McConaughy-Oliver
Past Grantee: PODER
People-Powered Solutions for San Francisco’s Latino Immigrants Photos by Misha Vladimirskiy, Captions by Casandra Cortes, with Introductory Text by Cianna Allen
As a Spanish noun, it means “power.” As a Spanish verb, it means “be able to” or “can.” And as an acronym for a San Francisco-based immigration rights group, it means “People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights.”
In 2015, as part of its San Francisco’s Future theme, Battery Powered awarded $165,000 to PODER.Today, we are highlighting the group’s work because it’s relevant to our current theme of Healthy Democracy. PODER uses what it calls people-powered solutions to cultivate a society in which justice is central. The photos that follow were taken during a day’s work with PODER’s promotoras, women from the community whom PODER trains as educators, organizers, and mobilizers. For example, the promotoras tell immigrant families about PODER’s Emergency Planning Workshops, which educate families at risk of deportation. In the tragic event that parents and children are separated, the women of PODER will work with families to ensure that proper guardianship of the children has been prepared beforehand, and they will also help with any important documents.
Opposite: Promotora Amparo Alarcón speaking to a man about PODER at a bus stop.The group works with low-income people of color who often have little to no access to the internet, and one of the few ways to reach the people in these communities is when they are moving among home, work, and school. Many do not have cars, so they rely heavily on public transportation. Left: Amparo Alarcón is an immigrant from Guatemala who has been living in the United States for 19 years. She says,“I came here because I wanted a better future for my children, due to the bad circumstances in my country. I was threatened with death and I knew that I needed to leave in order to protect me and my children.” Often, an immigrant’s undocumented status creates an alienating environment of fear and distrust, which is why the promotoras’ work is so powerful. By reaching out to members of the community in person, promotoras such as Alarcón can build trust. Below: Promotora Evelyn Rodriguez speaking to a woman about PODER and the resources the group provides to immigrant families. Many members of San Francisco’s Latino community are undocumented and vulnerable, speaking and reading little to no English. With limited access to technology, it can be difficult to connect with the members of this community, which is why street outreach is important.
part conference, part retreat. expect the unexpected. Four promotoras (left to right): Andrea Paz, Amparo Alarcón, Maria Del Rubi Merino, and Evelyn Rodriguez. They’re ready to hit the streets in front of one of the PODER office locations in San Francisco’s Excelsior District.They will be informing people they meet about PODER programs such as the Emergency Planning Workshops, which educate families at risk of deportation. Another program is called Bicis del Pueblo. In this program, PODER will give a bike to any community member who volunteers at least 16 hours and will teach them how to fix and maintain the bike on their own.The overall goal of Bicis del Pueblo is to encourage lowincome families, youth, and communities of color to use bicycles as a means of transportation in order to reduce pollution and improve public health. One little-known fact about PODER is that it started as an environmental justice organization in San Francisco back in 1991. With the growing needs of the community, PODER eventually started to advocate for housing rights, community gardens, affordable housing, civic education, and immigrants’ rights. While the Emergency Planning Workshops and the Bicis del
Pueblo programs are quite focused, PODER also has broader programs such as Common Roots, which aims to unite the young Latino and Chinese immigrants of San Francisco to develop their political awareness. Common Roots prepares these youths to help organize campaigns that create institutional change and implement policies that support working-class communities of color.
“By taking care of one another and constructing a healthy community, PODER believes that ‘people power’ is cultivated, and that power can in turn take on past injustices and create political power.”
January 26, 2019 The Battery 717 Battery Street San Francisco, CA
Adama Iwu and Steve Phillips Battery Sparks By Lydia Laurenson
Part of what makes Battery Powered so special is that it’s completely member-driven and member-led. So: who is Battery Powered? In each issue of The Battery Candy, we highlight two Battery Powered members and share what inspires them.
Image courtesy of Adama Iwu.
Although Battery Powered member Adama Iwu grew up in San Diego, her family is from Nigeria and she spent five years of her childhood there. This background gives her a special love for the United States’ democratic process. Some of her formative memories come from her college years, after she took a class called Parties and Elections. “After the class, I heard Todd Spitzer speak — a Republican legislator from Orange County,” says Iwu. “He was so passionate about civil service, about being a public servant. I am registered as No Party Preference, and I remember that Spitzer’s speech was very apolitical. There was nothing partisan about it. And when I heard it, that’s when I knew that this is what I wanted to do.” “That same year,” Iwu continues, “we went to the presidential inauguration, the last inauguration of George W. Bush. And let’s be honest, inaugurations are horrendous. They’re freezing cold, and unless you’re VIP, you’re not sitting down. So it didn’t feel good exactly, but it struck a deep chord in me — the fact that we do this every four years, and it’s a peaceful transition of power, not some military junta. People from other countries, like Nigerians — they understand this. I’ve seen Nigerians cry at elections, cry at inaugurations, because it’s a beautiful thing.” Iwu now works as Vice President for State Government & Community Relations at Visa. “I think people have a fundamental misunderstanding of what lobbying is,” she says. “By and large, lobbying is about education. I talk to elected officials about how we can improve the customer experience, while keeping guardrails around the systems so they can be safe as they get faster.”
Image courtesy of Steve Phillips.
As a side project, Iwu has done a ton of work on sexual harassment issues in politics; she was named a Time Person of the Year for her activism in 2017. “Originally, I and 147 women who work in politics in California wrote a letter that was published by the LA Times, talking about pervasive sexual harassment, discrimination, and abuse in politics,” Iwu recounts. “Immediately, we started seeing politicians resigning, losing elections, being removed from office. Then we started a nonprofit called We Said Enough, and now we are working on an app to record and track sexual harassment in real time. Having worked in public policy for so long, I know that politicians, nonprofits, and law enforcement need data. They have to understand what the problem is, and you can’t do that until you have data, so our app will get that.” In terms of what makes a healthy democracy, Iwu says she’s very committed to the power of conversation and the multiparty system: “It’s not impossible to have productive conversations with people who completely disagree with you, or who are on the other side of the political spectrum. Recently, I learned that the registered ‘No Party’ preference has just beat, in numbers, the Republican Party in California for the first time. I personally don’t think that’s good for democracy — we need more than one party. So I’m worried about the loss of conversation in the current moment, and I think we should encourage that.”
Steve Phillips is a Battery Powered member who has been working for a healthy democracy his whole life — and who has benefited from one. “I am quite literally a child of the civil rights movement. We were the first black family on our block in Cleveland Heights in Ohio,” says Phillips. “My brother was the first black student at the local elementary school.” On election day in 2012, Phillips’s dad told him the story of how they got that childhood home. “I had already known that my parents had to go get a white civil rights lawyer to buy the house and then deed it over to them, this guy Byron Krantz,” recalls Phillips. “But until I talked to my dad in 2012, I didn’t know that a neighbor across the street called a meeting with the other neighbors to talk about this black family moving in. And apparently during the meeting, the neighbors seriously discussed the idea of ‘stringing up’ Byron Krantz, the lawyer.Then, after we moved in, my mom used to sleep in her clothes because she was afraid the house was going to be firebombed. But when I was a child, my parents did a very good job of shielding us from these things.” The story has a beautiful ending: “The neighbor who called that meeting — my two brothers and I became best friends with his children,” says Phillips. “I think now, in retrospect, that’s because his wife was very intentional about welcoming us. Forty-plus years later, I gave a talk at the Cleveland City Club on my book Brown Is the New White, and the wife, the mother from across the street — she came to that talk.” His family influenced how he learned political organizing, too: Phillips’s grandfather was a minister.
“The black church was the other influencing force in my life. It taught me a lot about how to act on your values and principles, inject that into the electoral arena, and to then expand democracy in terms of increasing the number of people who are actually participating.” Phillips’s career has been profoundly influenced by minority organizing — and the concept that when minorities come together, they can become a new majority. “I got my start in the Rainbow Coalition in the 1980s, and I’ve been trying to organize the small ‘R’ rainbow ever since,” he says. “The glimmers I saw in the Rainbow Coalition later made me be able to identify the incipient Obama campaign as able to manifest that potential.” During the 1980s, Phillips also attended Stanford University, working at a public interest law firm after college; after that, his career history reads like an inspirational storybook. In 1992, at the age of 28, he became the youngest person ever elected to public office in San Francisco and went on to serve as president of the Board of Education. In 1997, after attending Hastings College of the Law, he opened his own law offices, specializing in civil rights and employment discrimination law. In 2003, he co-founded PowerPAC+, a social justice organization dedicated to building a multiracial political coalition. Nowadays, Phillips spends most of his time speaking and writing in the wake of his book, the New York Times bestseller Brown Is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority. “In the dedication of my book, I say: ‘To all those trying to make your organizations and institutions more reflective of and responsive to the new American majority, this book is for you.’ I want my book to be a tool for people who know in their gut that the priorities are wrong, the strategies are off, but who didn’t previously have the ammunition.” Of course, I had to ask whether he has specific advice for Battery members in terms of creating a healthy democracy, and Phillips didn’t hold back: “What are Battery members doing to lift other voices up? A lot of the opportunity and challenge is about this: who has the buzz, who has the cachet, who is seen as cuttingedge and brilliant, who gets to speak at The Battery’s events? There are lots and lots of talented voices who don’t get validated, so let’s validate them.”
Battery Members Working Toward a Healthy Democracy Member Spotlights By Lydia Laurenson
Many Battery members support important causes philanthropically; others use their work, business, and other skills to contribute. In every issue of this magazine, we highlight two Battery Powered members. But there are so many amazing people at The Battery working on Healthy Democracy that, for this issue, we wanted to highlight more! So here are seven more Battery members working or volunteering to advance democracy. Some are Battery Powered members, some are not, but all are passionate and have high hopes about creating change.
"We believe that plainspoken and neutral explanations of the tech will help us achieve the best possible outcomes for people and society as well as business." — Renee DiResta
What got you interested in disinformation research?
Renee DiResta of Data for Democracy Renee DiResta (@noUpside) first noticed online disinformation, which some people call “fake news,” when she saw anti-vaccination stories spreading like wildfire among the other mothers of her son’s preschool. Since then, DiResta has become an internationally respected expert on disinformation — she has advised policymakers all the way up to the United States Congress and has been quoted in publications ranging from the New York Times to Wired. Could you summarize your work at Data for Democracy? Data for Democracy is a community of data scientists who are passionate about participating in social-good efforts, and I’m the Head of Policy. There are dozens of efforts happening at any given time, looking at everything from traffic and legislative district data to investigating Russian activity on Facebook. I personally work on disinformation research — in other words, I research the spread of false narratives
How would you describe your political leanings? I would say I’m a moderate centrist (although I’ve read that most people think that they’re moderate) — slightly left of center. I vote mostly for Democratic candidates at a national level, but in state and local races in both New York City and San Francisco I’ve supported independent and Republican candidates. I do get involved with traditional politics — fundraising, campaigning, starting advocacy orgs, being generally loud on social media. I care a lot about local politics, particularly the school board, because I’m a parent and I think the left wing of San Francisco has lost its way with its recent move to eliminate eighth-grade algebra and gifted programs. I joined the United Democratic Club here and follow the SFYIMBY pro-housing group. Tell us about your history with The Battery.
and malicious trolling on social media — but one of my responsibilities is communicating our findings back to policy experts. As the conversation about regulating tech heats up, it’s important that legislators at the state and federal level are as informed as possible about how automation, social networking, ad tech, and other important tech frontiers work. We believe that plainspoken and neutral explanations of the tech will help us achieve the best possible outcomes for people and society as well as business.
Image courtesy of Renee DiResta.
else is secondary to that, and it’s why understanding and mitigating online narrative manipulation and disinformation is critical.
I got pulled into disinformation research 3.5 years ago, when my son was a year old and I was looking for preschools. I was really disappointed to see extremely low local vaccination rates, and I wondered about the impact of social media on the autism-vaccine conspiracy theory. We introduced a bill to fix the problem, and while the bill was polling in CA legislative districts at ~85 percent positive, the social media conversation was almost entirely negative. So I started looking at the impact that niche conspiratorial communities online were having on policy conversations offline, observing the gradual evolution in tactics from simple grassroots activism to mass blanketing of social platforms using bots, paid ads, fake accounts, coordinated groups, etc. Narrative manipulation is a serious problem, and right now no one is in charge of dealing with it at a systems level. Since no one is coming, it’s up to us to fix it. What makes a healthy democracy? I think the foundational component of a healthy democracy is a well-informed citizenry. Everything
I joined just prior to when The Battery opened, in 2013. At the time I was a VC, and a fellow woman VC nominated me and told me I had to join to balance out the men.The thing I love the most is that it’s so family-friendly, that the staff and community are genuinely welcoming to my children — it’s hard to find places in San Francisco that feel family-friendly and yet aren’t designed specifically for kids. I was pregnant with my first when I joined, and I came nearly every day while on maternity leave both times. I would wear the baby in a carrier, sometimes even nursing, and everyone was wonderful about it.
Could you summarize the work you do at Lipstick & Politics? At Lipstick & Politics, the media company that I founded and run, we strive to create space online and offline where there is public dialogue and a free exchange of ideas. In a healthy democracy, media can disseminate knowledge and information and allow for critical scrutiny. We also mobilize our community to discuss difficult topics. For example, we recently addressed the concept of “invisible victims.” We identified children of domestic violence, single mothers, and members of the transgender community as invisible victims, and then we covered them in many forms — through web content and various social media touchpoints. What motivates you to work on this? My deepest desire is for us all to be treated with love, kindness, and respect. Treating women differently because of conscious or unconscious bias shows up in so many ways, even by women ourselves, and that bothers me. If we could change behavior, we could change inequity. The fact that women have such a hard time raising capital with some pretty incredible ideas is a clear example of bias at work. I think men are the key to this change. I believe that 97 percent of men are pretty awesome and want to be useful and helpful, they just don’t know how to be included in the conversation. I co-founded a nonprofit just recently to explore this: it’s called Zero Gap, because this is not a zero-sum game. Zero Gap is an alliance of men and women determined to create gender parity in workplace culture. What makes a healthy democracy?
Image courtesy of Mira Veda.
Mira Veda of Lipstick & Politics Mira Veda is passionate about gender equality, and she’s created multiple organizations that reflect that passion. Her media company Lipstick & Politics (@LipstiknPolitks) has the tagline “Intelligence is sexy” and is intended to amplify women’s voices on contemporary issues. (They sometimes host events at The Battery — keep an eye on the events calendar!) Veda also recently co-founded a new nonprofit, Zero Gap, to explore gender roles in workplace culture.
That’s such a loaded question. A healthy democracy is power of the people, and if the government is based on the consent of the governed, then we should all have an equal say. Unfortunately, there are so many who don’t get a say. Women aren’t equally represented in the halls of power, and laws get made that directly impact our lives. So, in a healthy democracy, power would flow in a real way from the people to their elected leaders and back again in a cyclical loop. I’m not sure that happens. Luckily, we have somewhat fair and free elections and we can vote people out of power if they aren’t doing their job. Also, I think a healthy democracy requires its citizens to be involved. We have all seen what happens when people don’t get out and vote — we end up with a government we never imagined. How would you describe your political leanings? I strongly believe that political leanings are less important than character. I may not agree with beliefs of a certain person, but if I feel that they have something positive to offer the community, I will support them.
Politics are so divisive in this country. It’s gotten away from simple political difference with the same goals in mind, to parties having entirely different goals. Still, I’m very liberal in my views. I have helped fundraise for candidates who align with my values.
instability, as new administrations reverse course back and forth and the judiciary is forced into overstepping the bounds of their interpretive role to address inconsistencies created by a changing society.
particular, need to step up their financial support of women candidates.They haven’t historically been as comfortable as men with using their investment as a source of power, and that’s kept women on the sidelines of politics for too long.
What motivates you to work on this? Tell us about your history withThe Battery. I joined The Battery before it opened. I was sold on the idea from the beginning and I believe Michael and Xochi Birch have achieved their vision of a robust and inclusive community.
We believe that supporting women candidates leads to more collaboration across the aisles and a practical approach to legislative leadership. While the Democratic Party has reached a tipping point, with over 30 percent of their congressional caucus being women (and likely increasing in the 2018 elections), the Republican Party has struggled, with women in the congressional caucus actually declining to now around 10 percent. We believe that diversity leads to better decision making and better outcomes. When one party shows such a significant shortfall in representation, this makes it harder to be problem-solving-oriented, as we see each party’s extreme elements taking hold of the agenda. What makes a healthy democracy?
Image courtesy of Peter T. Michaelis.
Martha Conte of WomenRUN Martha Conte is Co-Founder at WomenRUN, a centerright organization that supports female candidates. She first got involved with the College Republicans at Princeton University in the 1980s, worked in marketing in the ‘90s, then raised a family and ultimately returned to politics in 2010 by volunteering with the Romney campaign before starting WomenRUN. Could you summarize your work at WomenRUN? Jennifer Fonstad and I co-founded WomenRUN to find and support center-right Republican women to run for federal office. We are building a network of like-minded citizens to identify and financially support these candidates across the country. While it may seem counterintuitive to support Congressional candidates in Tennessee or North Carolina, in an environment where members of Congress are voting 97 percent along party lines, our nation rises or falls by choices these individual members are making. And, with changes in campaign finance and gerrymandering, many of these members of Congress, in both parties, have become increasingly extreme. These legislators play to a small but very passionate collection of supporters who penalize them for collaboration, cooperation, and bipartisanship, shutting down any hope for meaningful legislative action. As a result, presidents of both parties have had to rely on executive orders and judicial appointments to enact any political agenda or advance even marginal solutions. This is dangerous to our democracy because it creates
A healthy democracy requires broad voter engagement and the possibility that each vote makes a difference in the outcome. With such low voter turnout in primary elections we’ve seen a small but passionate segment of each party use primaries to prevent more centrist candidates from reaching the general election. If we want courageous political representatives who are committed to working across the aisle, we need to be involved in their campaigns earlier and drive broader support at least as early as the primary in order to see better outcomes in the general elections. It is the silent majority in the center of each party that needs to engage in supporting problem solvers. It is a network of the no-longer-silent majority that we are building to elect the next generation of problem solvers, who happen to be women. Tell us about your history withThe Battery. I joined The Battery in 2014 and my favorite things are the wild diversity of programs, the highly engaged community, and the many ways to celebrate virtually everything at the club. However, I wish there was more space for across-the-aisle discussions of political topics. There seems to be a decided bent to the left and I think it would better serve both sides to understand the variety of concerns and the breadth of ways our common concerns can be addressed. Anything else you'd like to add? People on both sides of the aisle, and those in between, need to engage in compromise to find solutions. Individuals who care about the quality of our government need to put their money behind the change they want to see — at least as long as Citizens United remains the law of the land. And women, in
Images courtesy of Alex Gladstein and Holly Baxter.
Alex Gladstein and Holly Baxter of the Human Rights Foundation The Battery has several members who are closely involved with the nonprofit Human Rights Foundation (@HRF), which is best known for its recurring event, the Oslo Freedom Forum. Two Battery members who work for HRF are interviewed here: Alex Gladstein, the Chief Strategy Officer, who oversees most of HRF’s communications; and Holly Baxter, a longtime art curator who directs HRF’s Art in Protest program. Could you summarize the work of HRF and what it means to both of you? Alex: The Human Rights Foundation is a nonprofit organization that works to promote human rights in closed societies across the world. “Closed societies” means: places that don’t have a local Amnesty or ACLUtype organization, or a free press.Tragically, about 93 countries in today’s world (and about 4 billion people) from Burma to Ethiopia to Kazakhstan are ruled by an authoritarian government that does not permit dissent or innovation. Authoritarianism hampers all aspects of humanity. Our goal is to help promote rights and freedoms in these places. Holly: More specifically, HRF often promotes and defends free expression and human rights for artists, dissidents, journalists, and other civil society leaders living under repressive regimes. What motivates you to work on human rights issues? Alex: I joined HRF in 2007 and first started working with the Cuban underground library movement. My first job was to help design a program to get books and DVDs into the hands of Cuban activists so that they could run their own private movie clubs.They’d take our films (for
example: a Spanish-language dubbed V for Vendetta), watch them at home with three or four people, and hold conversation sessions. In a country where books need to be approved by the government and information is tightly policed, this was really fun and rewarding work. Holly: I was introduced to HRF by another Battery member and HRF board member, Alex Lloyd. I have been working in the art world for seventeen years, and at HRF, I expand this work to support dissident artists. Art is a deeply personal and forceful tool to inspire change, capturing elements of the human experience that elude other forms of advocacy. This is why authoritarians are so intent on stifling creative expression; they recognize the immense power of art to transform societies. HRF’s Art in Protest program exhibits artists’ work at international exhibitions, provides them with financial resources and publicity, and draws them into a network of like-minded creatives.The Art in Protest program is unique; no other human rights organization is providing these types of services. And I would like to emphasize that these are not just activists using art as a one-time form of protest.The artists we support have made this their career, so by investing in their development, we are giving them a foundation for a lifetime of creative dissent. What makes a healthy democracy? Alex: To me, a healthy democracy requires four things: separation of powers, civil society, free expression, and then, free and fair elections. Elections are only an indicator of democracy if the first three conditions are all established. Otherwise, elections can be manipulated or rigged. Even Kim Jong-un holds elections — he’s the only option on the ballot. In my view, the separation of powers is the most critical thing to a healthy democracy. Judges, legislators, media, executives, business leaders, lobbyists all need to balance each other out.You don’t want the consolidation of power in one person or one small group of people like in many countries around the world. Holly: A healthy democracy means more than just a ballot box. It means a society where artists and other freethinkers can express themselves and criticize their governments in creative, peaceful ways without fear. How would you describe your political leanings? Alex: I would describe myself personally as a progressive in the context of the United States. But one of the great things about HRF is it allows me to work together with people from all different political backgrounds on the narrow goals of promoting human rights and freedoms for people who don’t have them. Billions of humans live in societies where they don’t even have the ability to argue or vote on, for example, what kind of healthcare system is best. The rulers just decide. I think the best way to support
“traditional” politics here at home is to support a free and independent media.
organization that was founded in 2005 and named for President HarryTruman.
Tell us about your history with The Battery.
Could you summarize your volunteer work at the Truman National Security Project?
Holly: I am a founding member of The Battery. I joined to exchange ideas, to learn, and to have fun! Alex: I joined The Battery last summer, because I appreciate the community of people doing such a diverse set of things and being passionate about those things. Anything else you’d like to add? Alex: I think for democracy to survive, the business and technology community will have to get more involved in defending it. Right now, a lot of people try to make the world a better place through impact investing — which is wonderful. But at the moment, while we have impact investing to support the environment, healthcare, education, and better food, for example, we don’t have an impact investing focus on democracy and human rights. This relates to how the UN Sustainable Development Goals — which power a lot of impact investing and development — don’t mention the words democracy or free expression. And they only mention the words human rights once, in a sea of more than 10,000 words. It’s simply not their focus. But now we have a growing industry of decentralized platforms and networks that enable censorshipresistant communications and also give individuals real ownership over their data and increased privacy. This area presents an interesting new opportunity to invest in: democracy tech, or “Demtech.”
I serve as Co-Director of the Truman National Security Project’s San Francisco chapter. The Truman Project advances strong, progressive national security solutions through a national membership network of over 1,700 policy experts, military veterans, and political professionals, with more than 130 in the Bay Area. As an example of our work: a group of foreign policy experts and political operatives recently met to discuss how to make national security a voting priority in the upcoming midterm elections. What motivates you to work on the project? One thing I love about the Truman Project is its broad definition of national security. In addition to the more traditional foreign and defense policy areas, the organization also advocates for economic security and science-based climate change policy. It allows for someone like me, who by profession is a real estate private equity fund manager, to contribute to its mission. The best part about the Truman National Security Project is also the best part about The Battery — the people. The Truman membership is selected through a competitive process that includes essays and interviews to identify strong applicants who aspire to leadership in national security and global affairs. Many Truman members served in the Obama administration, the military, or political campaigns. What makes a healthy democracy? Ideas matter in a healthy democracy. It is about citizens debating merits of ideas to solve our common problems, rather than about the personalities. Lately, perhaps the public discourse has been more about the various personalities rather than the policy ideas that would prepare America for a competitive, technologically driven global economy. This bothers me, but instead of cursing the darkness, I wanted to light a candle. So I have started to write opinion pieces to advocate for economic policies that would prepare America for the 21st century through the Truman National Security Project and think tanks such as the Pacific Council on International Policy.
Image courtesy of Ken Wun.
Ken Wun of the Truman National Security Project Although Ken Wun currently works in real estate development, he has a background in political campaign work, and he’s still passionate about it. Wun stays in touch with that world by volunteering with the San Francisco chapter of theTruman National Security Project (@TrumanProject), a nationwide membership
Do you ever get involved with “traditional” politics (elections, fundraising, getting out the vote, etc.)? Prior to my current work in real estate private equity, I worked at the California Democratic Party during the chairmanship of Senator John Burton. One of the most memorable lessons of my time in politics was not even about politics — it was about combining passion with civility. I have seen Senator Burton fight fervently for
what he believed in. When the fight was over, he would just move on and not harbor hard feelings. When I asked him about fights of the past, he would simply tell me that the past is the past. A healthy democracy can use a little bit more of John’s grace. I am more optimistic about politics and democracy now that I am out of politics than when I first worked in politics. I feel that way because I had a chance to witness firsthand good, persistent people in politics defying the odds and making a difference. Tell us about your history withThe Battery. I joined in the summer of 2017. For me, The Battery used to be mostly a lovely place to meet friends (and it still is!), but now it is more about the community of smart, passionate people that I get to meet, especially through The Battery’s member-led philanthropy circle, Battery Powered.
Image courtesy of June Williams.
June Williams of the Office of U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris June Williams grew up in Oakland, and in her teens she hoped to become a lawyer.To inspire her, Williams’s mother gave her an article about then-District Attorney Kamala Harris, another black woman who had become a successful attorney. When Harris eventually began her campaign for Senate, Williams was even more inspired — she left her East Coast law job and came home to support her role model. Tell us about your work with Senator Kamala Harris. In my current role as District Director in U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris’s San Francisco office, I engage and collaborate with elected officials, community members, and federal agencies. As an Oakland native and former top prosecutor in San Francisco, Senator Harris has an important connection to the Bay Area, and I take great pride in representing and managing outreach efforts in her hometown. Any democracy, especially a healthy one, requires that everybody has an equal opportunity to thrive in society. Senator Harris is a champion for so many issues
"I have always been inspired by women — especially women of color — who dare to design a better world for the future generations to inherit." — June Williams — including immigration reform and our Dreamers, bail reform, and a fair and accurate count in the 2020 Census to ensure everyone is represented. To this end, Senator Harris has sponsored the DONE Act to cut the detention population by 50 percent; several acts to support the Dreamers, such as the Dream Act and the Bridge Act; and others. What got you interested in working for Senator Harris? I have always been inspired by women — especially women of color — who dare to design a better world for the future generations to inherit. When I was in grade school, I wrote reports about my heroes, U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun and U.S. Representative Barbara Jordan. Since they both had law degrees, I decided to become a lawyer so that I too could help people like they did. Between my high school and college years, my mother encouraged me to learn about someone in the present day who was making great strides as a lawyer. That someone was then-District Attorney Kamala Harris. As an adult, when my role model announced her candidacy for U.S. Senate, I felt compelled to leave my law job on the East Coast and move back to Oakland to support her campaign. What makes a healthy democracy? A healthy democracy balances power among people with a diverse range of experiences and perspectives. In order to make the best decisions for everybody in our society, we need a range of voices in the room at each level of our policy process. Although voting is vital to a healthy democracy, it is only the first step, in which citizens loan their power to an elected official. After elections, citizens can, and should, freely reclaim their political power by engaging their elected officials and communicating their own views.To be represented, we must be seen. On a fundamental level, visibility begins with the Census, which counts residents and apportions political representation accordingly. Tell us about your history withThe Battery. After attending a few gatherings in the fall of 2016, I became interested in helping to build up the Battery Recharge group, which aims to build community among African American professionals in the Bay Area. So I joined in January 2017.
The Haight’s History and Heyday
How the “Ground Zero of Hippiedom” Happened, and Where It’s At Today By Jennifer Joseph, Illustrated by Katie Morton
New ones comin’ as the old ones go Everything’s movin’ here but much too slowly Little bit quicker and we might have time to say “How do you do?” before we’re left behind — “Cosmic Charlie” (1968), words by Robert Hunter, music by Jerry Garcia, performed by the Grateful Dead
In The Beginning... Fog and sand dunes once stretched from the mighty Pacific to where Buena Vista Park is now located, with not a lot of anything else. For 100 years, from the first Spanish explorers in 1769 to the Gold Rush-era population, the Haight-Ashbury District was considered inhospitable. And then San Francisco swelled.The population skyrocketed from 1,000 in 1848 to almost 150,000 by 1870, and the citizens were eager for their worldclass city to get some recognition. After the first portion of New York City’s Central Park opened in 1858, it served as an American model of possibility for urban improvement — and San Francisco decided to keep up by opening Golden Gate Park in 1873. Among the edifices still in use today are the everfabulous Conservatory of Flowers (1879), the Sharon Building, now the Sharon Art Studio (1888), and Recreation and Park Department headquarters at McLaren Lodge (1896). By the late 1880s, a cable car line from downtown ran on Haight Street and terminated at Stanyan Street, the entrance to Golden Gate Park. With this accessibility, the park quickly became a popular destination. Moneyed families
soon built large homes in the area, including the Victorians that would house the hippies in the next century. But then came the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire; soon after, the wealthy denizens acquired automobiles and fled the Haight, away from the hoi polloi and earthquake refugee rabble. The Haight continued to be built out, but with working-class row houses instead of large Victorians. Eventually, it became known for its cheap rent … and then students and bohemians moved in. In the early 1960s, a six-bedroom Victorian located at 1090 Page Street rented rooms for $15 per month. According to Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, “You’d get four or five people and you could rent a huge, wonderful Victorian house and fix it up any way you want and it was great … a great way to live.”
The 1960s: The Human Be-In, the Summer of Love, and The Haight’s Hippie History In the postwar 1950s, North Beach (right next to The Battery) was the happening scene for jazz, poetry, and folk music. Local young folkies included guitarist Jerry Garcia and singer Janis Joplin, who was accompanied by guitarist Jorma Kaukonen; Kaukonen studied at the University of Santa Clara and would eventually perform with HotTuna and Jefferson Airplane. After a very short stint in the Army, Garcia moved to Palo Alto at age 18, where he met guitarist and Atherton resident Bob Weir in 1963; together they would form the Grateful Dead. In 1960, writer Ken Kesey was at Stanford on a creative writing fellowship when he signed up as a subject for government-sponsored LSD experiments being conducted at the Menlo Park Veterans Hospital. Since Kesey worked part time on the psych ward’s night shift — a job that would
How LSD Moved Beyond Laboratories into the General Population 1960, Menlo Park, CA: The government conducts experiments on volunteer test subjects, including Ken Kesey, using powerful psychoactive drugs such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). LSD was discovered by accident in 1938 as Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann searched for migraine headache treatments — so in 1960, LSD is legal and only manufactured by Sandoz, the Swiss pharmaceutical company that employed Hofmann. Kesey, who is employed at the Menlo Park Veterans Hospital where the experiments take place, helps himself to some extra LSD and shares it with his friends. 1960, Cambridge, MA: Harvard psychology professors Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (later known as Ram Dass) conduct research experiments with LSD. They also take the drug themselves. 1963, Cambridge, MA: Leary is fired from Harvard and moves to Millbrook, NY, where he starts the League for Spiritual Discovery. He becomes a famous advocate for a controlled environment when taking LSD. 1963, New York, NY: A theatrical adaptation of Kesey’s best seller One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest opens on Broadway, starring Kirk Douglas. Kesey uses the royalties from the book to buy a house and then a school bus. Beat legend Neal Cassady (the mythical hero Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road), having appeared on the Palo Alto scene in 1962, drives the bus across the country with Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. 1963, Berkeley, CA: Genius misfit Augustus Owsley Stanley III smokes pot and tries LSD for the first time. After hours researching organic chemistry topics in UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library to figure out how to synthesize LSD, he creates a home chemistry lab and perfects his own brand of LSD. Owsley is busted by the Feds for making methedrine, but no meth is found, so all charges are dropped. Then he sues the government to get his seized lab equipment back — and succeeds. Throughout the 1960s: Owsley is reportedly known for saying “It’s impossible to make a small quantity of LSD,” and he wasn’t kidding. LSD is measured in micrograms, so 1 gram of LSD is 7,500 hits of acid (at the standard dose of about 150 micrograms/dose). The first batch of Owsley’s acid is three times stronger than the standard dose and 99.9% pure, so his reputation is immediately made. But what to do with 7,500 doses of LSD? Build a distribution network and “perform a public service,” as Owsley himself once described his work. There are claims that Owsley manufactures and distributes more than five million doses of LSD during the 1960s. 1966: California becomes the first state to declare LSD illegal. 1967, Orinda, CA: Owsley quits manufacturing after a raid on his Orinda lab. By this point, others around the country have taken up LSD production and distribution, including groups such as the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. Both a legally incorporated religious charity and a tightly knit group of drug dealers, the Brotherhood is rumored to have distributed over 100 million hits before most of the members are sent to jail. 1968: The federal government declares LSD illegal.
inform his best-selling novel — he helped himself to some LSD to share with his friends. After the publication and overnight success of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Kesey bought a place in the La Honda redwoods (7940 La Honda Road), in the hills above Palo Alto. It was 1963, and there he turned his friends on to LSD, which was too new to be illegal. He called it acid. In 1964, Kesey bought an old 1930s school bus, painted it in outrageous colors, and named it Further. He traveled across America to New York City with his friends, known as the Merry Pranksters, tripping on acid all the while.Tom Wolfe’s bestsellerThe Electric Kool-Aid AcidTest described the scene. Back from the bus trip, in late 1964, Kesey started throwing free-form multimedia dance parties and calling them Acid Tests, with movie projections, light shows, live music, and a large lined trashcan filled with LSD-laced Kool-Aid. Everyone paid $1 at the door, and you weren’t supposed to leave until dawn so as not to attract attention. Word spread quickly. “The Acid Tests were 100% fun,” Jerry Garcia once remarked. “Everyone who went to an Acid Test came out a different person … and loved it.” Mad genius and outlaw chemist Owsley Stanley attended an early Acid Test, immediately loved the Grateful Dead’s music, and signed on as their sound person, manager, and benefactor — he was flush with cash after making and distributing more than 10,000 tabs of LSD from his East Bay laboratory in 1965 and 1966. Another key part of the Haight scene was the San Francisco Mime Troupe, which was founded in 1959 and has nothing to do with mime.The Mime Troupe continues today to perform political theater free in Bay Area parks each summer and played a role in how the 1960s scene coalesced: in 1965, Bill Graham was the MimeTroupe’s business manager. (Yes, this is the same Bill Graham who has a Civic Center music venue named after him.) With help from Haight-Ashbury concert promoter Chet Helms, Graham held a benefit for the MimeTroupe by renting the Fillmore Auditorium (1805 Geary) and having bands such as Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead perform at this event — his very first foray into the concert biz. By February 1966, he had left the MimeTroupe to form his own company, Bill Graham Presents. Graham and Helms each produced dances every weekend that featured popular local bands, copying the light shows and multimedia effects from Kesey’s AcidTests. Many of those bands played, often for free, in Golden Gate Park’s Panhandle. Across the United States, 1966 was a restless year: the draft was at its height, with 382,010 young men conscripted to fight in Vietnam. The Civil Rights movement took a radical turn with the formation of the Black Panthers in Oakland, and the National Organization for Women was founded in Washington, DC. That year Hunter S.Thompson published his first book, Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga, which he wrote while living in the Haight at 318 Parnassus Avenue. The Hells Angels’ house was located at 719 Ashbury, across the street from the Grateful Dead’s place at 710 Ashbury. (Editor’s Note: For the grammar aficionados in the audience, it is interesting to note that while the book is titled Hell’s Angels, the group is Hells Angels.)
After a cop shot a black teenager in the back in San Francisco’s Bayview District on September 27, 1966, riots ensued in the predominantly black Bayview and Fillmore neighborhoods.The National Guard was called in, and local cops arrested dozens of hippies in the Haight as part of the spillover. A few days later, on October 6, 1966, California became the first state to declare LSD illegal, and that same day, thousands of young people attended the Love Pageant Rally in the Panhandle. According to Allen Cohen, publisher of the underground newspaper San Francisco Oracle, “We were not guilty of using illegal substances. We were celebrating transcendental consciousness.The beauty of the universe.The beauty of being.” The Gathering of theTribes, better known as the Human Be-In, happened in Golden Gate Park’s Polo Fields in January 1967. Well organized and promoted, it attracted a crowd of more than 20,000 who showed up for poets Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder, East Coast LSD advocatesTimothy Leary and Ram Dass, spiritual philosopher Alan Watts, and bands that included the Grateful Dead. Thus, the Haight established itself as ground zero of hippiedom. Stores and cafes catering to hippies opened on Haight Street. Newspapers across the country were writing feature stories about the new scene. Jefferson Airplane released “Somebody to Love” in April 1967 followed by “White Rabbit” in June 1967. The siren song of LSD was broadcast on radio stations from coast to coast — although the original LSD scenester Ken Kesey got busted on a pot charge in 1965 and went to jail in 1967 after coming back to the United States from being on the lam in Mexico. When the Summer of Love hit in 1967, more than 75,000 young people descended on the Haight, and it was impossible for the neighborhood to cope with the massive influx. A group of socially conscious hippies in an offshoot of the MimeTroupe formed the Diggers, which had a free store and served free food in the park at 4 p.m. daily. The Haight Ashbury Free Clinic, which still exists at 558 Clayton, was started in 1967 to help with overdoses and injuries.The now-defunct Haight-Ashbury Switchboard helped thousands of new arrivals find housing. Mixed in with the flower children were unsavory types, including Charles Manson, who lived at 636 Cole Street after being released from an early stint in prison. Manson would later become a cult leader; along with three of his followers, he was convicted in 1971 of seven murders that were committed in Southern California in 1969. All the media interest also attracted celebrities, as noted in a famous pot bust of world-renowned ballet dancers Rudolf Nureyev and Dame Margot Fonteyn at 42 Belvedere Street in July 1967. The Summer of Love’s fallout continued with the “Death of the Hippie” march up Haight Street in October 1967 — a mock funeral for hippiedom, complete with an open coffin containing beads, locks of long hair, wilted flowers, and copies of the Oracle and Berkeley Barb, among other symbolic items.The original hippies who had first settled in the Haight picked up and moved north to Marin, east to Berkeley, south to Santa Cruz, and beyond. Other strays who had come for the Summer of Love went back to wherever they had come from, yet many stayed. In 1968, LSD was declared illegal by the federal government. By 1969, speed and heroin had replaced acid and pot as the dominant drugs in the Haight, and crime was rampant.
Where Are They Now? Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead) opened a homey restaurant and music club in San Rafael, Terrapin Crossroads, and performs there often. Bob Weir (Grateful Dead) also lives in Marin and is part-owner of Sweetwater, a cozy restaurant and music club in Mill Valley. Both Sweetwater and Terrapin Crossroads are intimate venues, perfect antidotes to stadium concerts and outdoor festivals. John Perry Barlow (Grateful Dead lyricist, d. 2018) was a co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which defends digital privacy, free speech, and technological innovation. Ken Kesey (Merry Prankster, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, d. 2001) passed on after years of living on his family farm in Oregon, but his brother Chuck's Springfield Creamery continues to make delicious Nancy's Yogurt, sold in grocery stores everywhere. Peter Cohon (one of the Diggers, the socially conscious offshoot of the San Francisco Mime Troupe) became award-winning actor Peter Coyote, who has appeared in numerous movies and TV shows, including E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and has narrated many PBS documentaries. Paul Hawken (macrobiotic member of hippie-era Haight-Ashbury Calliope Company commune) became a successful entrepreneur; he founded the organic food company Erewhon, and then the upscale gardening company Smith & Hawken. Wavy Gravy / Hugh Romney (Merry Prankster / founder of the Hog Farm commune) cofounded the Seva Foundation, which works around the world to prevent blindness, and started Camp Winnarainbow, a kids’ summer camp in Mendocino, which continues to this day. Stewart Brand (Merry Prankster / organizer of the 1966 Trips Festival) published counterculture classics the Whole Earth Catalog and the Co-Existence Quarterly; started an early, precedent-setting online community called The WELL (Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link); and now heads the Long Now Foundation, based at Fort Mason, which presents thought-provoking lectures on new ways of understanding the present and the future.
From the Sad, Grim 1970s to Today Most businesses catering to the hippies on Haight Street closed up shop by the end of 1969, and the 1970s cast a long shadow over the neighborhood, beginning with the unsolved bombing of the Upper Haight police station on Waller Street in February 1970 that killed one officer and injured eight more. With the exception of the growing gay and lesbian communities in the Castro, San Francisco seemed to be in a state of turmoil in the seventies. The bastion of “free love” became the capital of porn, with local impresarios the Mitchell brothers releasing Behind the Green Door (one of the first nationally released hardcore porn films) in 1972. The Zodiac Killer (a serial killer) and the Zebra murders (a series of racially motivated crimes) created paranoia. These killings were followed in 1978 by the Jonestown massacre. An Indiana preacher who had relocated to San Francisco, Jim Jones led the People’s Temple, a “new church” that attracted thousands of followers. When allegations of abuse surfaced in the media, in 1977 Jones moved the temple to Jonestown in Guyana. After a visit from a California congressman who was shot and killed as he was departing, Jones directed his followers to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. A large percentage of the more than 900 victims were from the Bay Area’s African American community. Current San Francisco Congresswoman Jackie Speier was in her early twenties and working for the California congressman on the visit to Jonestown. She was shot five times and survived. Nine days later — on November 27, 1978 — the murders of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California, rocked the City. Things were grim. By the late 1970s, the Haight was ripe for gentrification. Members of the Castro’s gay community started buying and renovating the Haight’s dilapidated Victorians. They opened stores on Haight Street and helped breathe new life into the area, with the support of residents and businesses that hadn’t fled the neighborhood. As the scourge of AIDS spread in the early 1980s, the Haight’s gay community suffered, and many passed in the following decade. The bars, nightclubs, and businesses they started were sold to new owners who catered to a younger, more hetero demographic. In the 1980s, the skinheads and gutter punks showed up and partook of the free services offered by the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic and free meals served by the Haight Ashbury Food Program at Hamilton United Methodist Church (now the Waller Center, 1525 Waller), while continuing the local pastime of hanging out on the street and asking for spare change. Through the 1980s and ’90s, the rave scene took off. Haight Street nightclubs and the college radio station KUSF, broadcasting across the City from the University of San Francisco on Fulton, became a beacon and a unifying factor for local bands, new music, and alternative culture.
A Grounded Legacy For The Hippie Movement By Lydia Laurenson Like a lot of San Franciscans, I can relate to the hippie movement. As Managing Editor of this magazine, I commissioned this article by Jen Joseph (who has a long history in San Francisco’s counterculture) because I’m both fascinated by, and anxious about, the legacy of the 1960s. There’s a lot to celebrate and admire about that era, and there’s also a lot to treat with extreme caution. In 2018, U.S. culture is experiencing a new explosion of open-mindedness about how we use our bodies, and that’s both awesome and important — but the explosion of freedom in the sixties was not without negative consequences. I’m all for sexual revolution, yet it’s notable that both a wave of exploitative porn and the HIV crisis followed the sexual destigmatization of the 1960s era. Even during the 1960s, the people experimenting with free love had no safe and legal abortion, and unmarried women couldn’t get birth control, which had disastrous consequences for many women. This shows how free love must be grounded in respect for our bodies, in a healthy regard for women’s empowerment. Similarly, I support decriminalization of many substances, but it’s obvious that they are not to be messed with. Ken Kesey’s acid test parties sound wild, yet during the same time period, Charles Manson was using psychedelics to recruit people into a “church” that literally committed murder. Alongside the beautiful memories, there are harrowing portraits of Haight-Ashbury’s heyday, like Joan Didion’s “SlouchingTowards Bethlehem,” a 1967 essay that refers to situations such as a woman who was gang-raped after being given 3,000 micrograms of LSD (about 30 times what’s now considered a normal dose), and ends by chronicling Didion’s eerie meeting with a five-year-old whose hippie mother has given her LSD. And moving forward to the 1970s, the predatory cults and the out-of-control drug and porn scenes that followed the hippies surely were not coincidental.
How do we promote freedom in a healthier way for our modern era? In the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, published in 1971, Hunter S.Thompson famously reflects on his time living in San Francisco in the sixties: History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time — and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened. ....There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda...You could strike sparks anywhere.There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right... ... So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back. I’m excited to be part of a new wave. I also know that if we are to liberate our minds and bodies, we must do so in a way that’s ethically, emotionally, intellectually, ecologically, and spiritually grounded. I believe this is not only possible, but that many now-established San Francisco institutions can help us find our way.That’s why this article is appearing in an issue of the magazine that includes a case study about how the Burning Man project is planning its long-term structural future and global impact (page 43); a profile of a Battery member who’s working toward the legalization of medicinal psychedelics (page 40); a fact-checked piece on the myths and realities of psychedelics (page 32); and a Gift Guide for the potentially life-changing products being created now that cannabis is legal (page 36). And it’s no coincidence that all these pieces are brought together in the same publication that’s profiling Battery members who are working toward a healthy, just, and inclusive democracy. There can be no true liberation without solid information about our choices; a strong social fabric supporting everyone’s safety; and justice for all.
Where to Go Today in the Haight Nowadays, the Haight continues its legacy of free and fun gatherings. The Haight Ashbury Street Fair, now in its fourth decade, is always held the second Sunday in June and features vendors, food, and live music; past sets have included Metallica and a reunited Jefferson Airplane. Thousands of stoners show up for the annual 4/20 Day cannabis party on April 20th that takes place near Golden Gate Park’s Hippie Hill, a spectacular time warp celebrating marijuana and its legalization. The free three-day Hardly Strictly Bluegrass concerts held in October harken back to the 1960s free concerts and often feature musicians from that era, including Hot Tuna and Peter Rowan. There are still many unique spots along Haight Street that make it a worthwhile destination for an afternoon stroll. For the lover of cultural artifacts – music, film, books, etc. – the Haight is a browser’s epic wonderland. Start at Amoeba Music (1855 Haight), situated inside a former bowling alley. At this funky site for more than 20 years, the store’s knowledgeable staff and seemingly endless supply of new and used movies and music create a paradise for those searching for that obscure find. Frequent in-store free live music performances enhance the vibe. Music-oriented books as well as T-shirts and posters are also available. Nearby, Rasputin Music (1672 Haight) offers similar fare in the music and movies department, but in a smaller store, and no live in-store music. Down the street, the venerable Booksmith (1644 Haight) offers a fabulous selection for readers of all ages, with a robust events calendar featuring readings and book signings. Recently opened by Booksmith is a beautiful new space, The Bindery (1727 Haight), which has curated books arranged by the date the books were written, and a sitting room where libations are served on weekend evenings. For a modern reading experience that evokes the radical politics of the sixties, don’t miss Bound Together (1369 Haight), a volunteerrun anarchist collective bookstore that features all varieties of reading material plus posters, T-shirts, and postcards for free-thinkers and their loved ones. For the DIY crowd, check out the zine collection at Silver Sprocket (1685 Haight), which began as a record label, expanded to publish graphic novels, and now has a storefront selling their own creations and those of others. Three longtime retail stalwarts are family-owned crafts and fabric store Mendel’s (1556 Haight), founded in the early 1960s and at its current location since 1968; the Haight Ashbury Music Center (1540 Haight), opened in 1972, offering music lessons, instrument repair, and a convenient location to pick up some extra guitar strings or saxophone reeds; and head shop Pipe Dreams (1376 Haight), in business since 1968, which is a good place to pick up WhipIts, if you’re feeling in the mood to kill a few brain cells. [Editor’s note: Whip-Its
are legal to purchase, but it is illegal in California to use nitrous oxide as a recreational substance.] Two only-on-Haight-Street entities are Loved to Death (1681 Haight), a delightful shop offering one-of-a-kind decorative oddities and rare Goth treasures, including real animal skulls and more, and Dolls Kill (1475 Haight), with Day-Glo platform boots and fabulous clothes, perfect for Burning Man or the next EDM / trance / rave festival. Of several local tattoo and piercing parlors, Cold Steel America (1783 Haight) is acknowledged as one of the best in the City, not just the neighborhood. While Haight Street has a plethora of stores like Land of the Sun (1715 Haight) that feature clothing, jewelry, patchouli, Nag Champa incense, and other hippie-lifestyle accoutrements from Nepal and beyond, it also has a conglomeration of vintage clothing stores, including Buffalo Exchange (1555 Haight), Crossroads Trading Co. (1519 Haight), Held Over (1543 Haight), and Wasteland (1660 Haight). If you worked up an appetite on your stroll or need a late-night bite, pop into the original Escape from New York Pizza location (1737 Haight) for a generous slice of their pesto pizza. If it’s breakfast or weekend brunch, the Pork Store Cafe (1451 Haight) has been slinging blueberry pancakes, hash browns, and good coffee for nearly 40 years. Cha Cha Cha (1801 Haight), with its pitchers of sangria and small plates for sharing, is an excellent spot for the whole gang when there’s reason to celebrate. And the Magnolia Pub & Brewery (1398 Haight) looks much the same as it did in the sixties, when it was home to the infamous Drogstore Café, which had a brief cameo in the 1968 cult classic Psych-Out starring Jack Nicholson. (The Drogstore Café was originally called the Drugstore Café but changed its name when the California Pharmacy Board objected.) For those who like to exercise and/or impress their friends with flying trapeze skills, there’s AcroSports (639 Frederick Street) and the Circus Center (755 Frederick Street). They’re housed in 1920s gymnasiums with Art Deco details, once part of a now-closed high school. The Circus Center was founded by members of the Pickle Family Circus, who met through the San Francisco Mime Troupe back in the 1960s. The oldest extant businesses on Haight Street are the bars, namely the Zam Zam (1633 Haight), in business since 1941 and specializing in gin martinis; Murio’s Trophy Room (1811 Haight), opened in 1959; and the Gold Cane (1569 Haight), which opened in 1926 and moved a few blocks to its current location in 1990.
Famous HaightAshbury Addresses 710 Ashbury — Grateful Dead 719 Ashbury — Hells Angels 635 Ashbury, 122 Lyon — Janis Joplin 638 Ashbury — Country Joe McDonald and the Fish 1090 Page — Big Brother and the Holding Company 639 Gough — Chet Helms / Family Dog headquarters 1550 Page — “Hippie Temptation” house (site of CBS documentary) 1828 Page — Ron Donovan (poster artist) 1524 Haight — Jimi Hendrix 879 Haight — Flipper (punk band) 636 Cole — Charles Manson 731 Buena Vista West — Graham Nash and Bobby McFerrin 737 Buena Vista West — Jack London penned White Fang here (1906) 264 Downey — Michael McClure (beat playwright, poet) 1235 Masonic — Patty Hearst (Symbionese Liberation Army safe house) 32 Delmar — Sid Vicious 2400 Fulton — Jefferson Airplane 200 Downey — George Hunter / the Charlatans 318 Parnassus — Hunter S. Thompson (where he fired his shotgun at the Hells Angels) 42 Belvedere — Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev 1967 pot party bust
5 Myths about Psychedelics By R.U. Sirius, Illustrated by Tim Lahan
After California legalized cannabis in January of this year, there was plenty of talk around The Battery about new local business and lifestyle opportunities. The Battery also has members working on upcoming legal frontiers, such as Jade Netanya Ullmann, who is Director of Development for the Oakland-based Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies. (Read an interview with Ullmann on page 40.) Given the Bay Area’s rich history with all things mind-altering, we asked local writer, speaker, and “cyberculture celebrity” R.U. Sirius to write up his favorite myths about psychedelics. Sirius is quite qualified for the task: he’s best known for co-founding the magazine Mondo 2000, which influenced Wired and included celebrity contributors such as Timothy Leary. Before Sirius created Mondo 2000, he founded and edited the magazines High Frontiers and Reality Hackers, part of the Bay Area’s storied counterculture in the 1980s. If this article makes you curious to learn more, two recent books can help: David Jay Brown’s The New Science of Psychedelics: At the Nexus of Culture, Consciousness, and Spirituality (2013) and Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence (2018).
Since drug experimentation was driven underground in the 1960s, many substances have been the subject of myths and false or incomplete information. The myths and assumptions haven’t just come from the streets. Some of them have come from the educated and scientific among us. Here are a few.
You Will Probably Not See Machine Elves on DMT The late, great psychedelic visionary wordsmith and raconteur Terence McKenna — who was sometimes called the Timothy Leary of the nineties — used to virtually guarantee that if you smoked DMT, you would see hyperspatial machine elves that would likely communicate with you. (Dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, is a hallucinogenic drug naturally found in many plants and animals.) From personal experience and from conversing with innumerable people who have used DMT over the course of about 30 years, I can report that very few people see the elves … and the ones who do tend to be highly suggestible. Rick Strassman, noted for his licensed experiments on the effects of DMT on humans that took place at the Clinical Research Center of the University of New Mexico Hospital, told Tripzine back in the mid-1990s that the visions reported by his subjects were diverse: “There was being devoured by spiders … and having sex with alligators … angels, machines … laughing Buddhas, great winged creatures, computer circuits, and cactus beings.”
DMT in particular can lead to strong visions. But although many people call psychedelic substances “hallucinogens,” it’s not clear that this is a good name for the entire category of substances. I asked Ralph Metzner, the consciousness researcher who was part of the Harvard Research Project with Timothy Leary and Richard (Ram Dass) Alpert, and he sent me this statement from his book Ecology of Consciousness: The consciousness-expanding psychedelic drugs, such as psilocybin, mescaline, or LSD, are most often referred to in the psychiatric research literature as hallucinogenic. However, as anyone who has experienced these states can confirm, one does not see hallucinated, illusory objects. Rather, one sees in the ordinary sense objects that are always there, but in addition, one may see or sense subtle energy fields around objects or people, and associative patterns that one was not aware of before… psychedelic drugs do not in fact induce hallucinations in the sense of “illusory perceptions.” If you’re interested in further personal reports of psychedelic experiences, check Erowid.org, the website of a nonprofit founded by two Bay Area residents in the 1990s that contains the largest publicly available database of information about mind-bending substances. One of Erowid’s most famous features is its “trip reports” — personal accounts of individual experiences under various influences. It’s been useful to generations of psychonauts, and in 2015, the site was profiled in a NewYorker article called “TheTrip Planners.”
Your LSD Has Not Been Cut with Strychnine The idea that acid is often “cut with strychnine” — a highly toxic pesticide — was widely accepted out in the streets during the late 1960s and still claims a small mindshare today. However, according to sources such as PharmChem and the late Dr. Alexander Shulgin that have received lots of LSD samples for chemical analysis, strychnine has never been found in LSD. Some trippers have attributed to this poison physical discomforts sometimes experienced on LSD, but those difficult physical feelings are likely psychosomatic, or basic side effects of the drug, or your body telling your newly receptive brain that something isn’t altogether wonderful. With that said, a person concerned about the purity of a given substance might want to look into the nonprofit DanceSafe, whose mission is to promote health and safety in the electronic dance community by providing drug-testing kits. Testing kits are available for sale on the DanceSafe website, including one for LSD. DanceSafe is unconcerned about strychnine — instead, their website offers Ehrlich’s Reagent, “a solution of hydrochloric acid, ethanol, and p–dimethylaminobenzaldehyde. It can be used to positively identify LSD, helping rule out 25i-NBOMe, a highly toxic and extremely dangerous drug that is often misrepresented as LSD.”
LSD Doesn’t “Fry” Your Brain
Psychedelics Don’t Increase Signals to Your Brain (at least not in the conventional sense) During my lifetime, a common belief among psychedelic cognoscenti has been that psychedelic drugs created their sometimes-cacophonic results by accelerating the signals to the brain. This was presumed to explain the common feelings of confusion and of being overwhelmed. It was also presumed to explain the visionary delight that can occur if you relax and enjoy the brilliant, extravagant effects of the overload. I used to tell people that DMT was “having all the information in the universe mainlined into your brain and nervous system.” Well, this may be the case, but the mode of operation does not involve an increase in neuronal signals in the conventional sense. Recently, a few scholars have been scanning brains under the influence using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow. Blood flow is indicative of increased brain activity — yet when neuropsychopharmacologist Robin Carhart-Harris looked at an fMRI of the brain activity of a subject who had been given psilocybin, he found a decrease in blood flow. (The research was publicized in 2012 as part of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.) The aspect of the brain that is being quieted by psilocybin and other psychedelics is something brain scientists call the Default Mode Network (DMN, discovered in 2001). The DMN is the part of the brain that is most active during relaxed states — when the mind is “wandering” or “daydreaming.” On the other hand, Carhart-Harris found that parts of the brain that usually don’t show very much — if any — activity lit up under the fRMI during a psilocybin trip. So we may not be getting the saturation we assumed, but we may be hearing some whispered messages from some “far out” regions of our brains that usually maintain a strategic silence, lest the cosmic import distract us from our daily grind. (In his recent book How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan uses a quote from CarhartHarris that generalizes the psilocybin study to all psychedelics, but I do not know if all psychedelics have been tested.)
Back in the 1980s I published a “neopsychedelic” magazine called High Frontiers in the San Francisco Bay Area. While visiting LA, where the denizens of the neopsychedelic movement were mostly younger, I was surprised that they described taking LSD as “frying.” The city’s biggest acid dealer argued with me that acid definitely “fries your brain.” Apparently, in LA, this was considered a bonus! This folklore has been given a new life via misrepresentations of a recent study conducted at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill that generated headlines saying that LSD gets “stuck inside your brain.” But the study in question, which was published in the journal Cell in 2017, is just about why LSD trips last so long, not about permanent alterations that “fry” your brain. As researcher David Nichols told Vice, “It doesn’t stay there forever. It stays for six or seven hours.” In some people, LSD can prompt a psychotic episode; this phenomenon is not well understood but has been documented by writers such as Peter Welch, who wrote a book about his own psychotic break, And Then I Thought I Was a Fish. But this, again, is not the same as brain damage.
The “Peace Drug Theory” Perhaps the greatest myth around psychedelic drugs is that they make you peaceful. Robin Carhart-Harris is quoted in Michael Pollan’s new book How to Change Your Mind as saying: “Was it that hippies gravitated to psychedelics, or do psychedelics create hippies? Nixon thought it was the latter. He might have been right!” In the same chapter, Pollan writes that CarhartHarris “speculated that a class of drugs with the power to overturn hierarchies in the mind and sponsor unconventional thinking has the potential to reshape users’ attitudes toward authority of all kinds.” While, in a bell curve sorta way, one hopes that the “peace drug theory” may average out to being true, it is certainly not consistently true. I recall reading in Whole Earth Review about a man who used to explore wargaming scenarios for the Pentagon on 500 micrograms of LSD. As part of the CIA’s notorious experimentation with LSD as a tool for war and interrogation, which has also been documented in Pollan’s book and many other places, agents dosed one another with great frequency. There’s no evidence that any agents became peace freaks and left their jobs. The most notorious case of psychedelic-related violence is the brief terror campaign of the Manson Family in Los Angeles. In 1971, Charles Manson and three of his followers were found guilty of murdering seven people after a well-publicized trial that included revelations about their LSD use. (The nonfiction book Helter Skelter was written by Manson’s chief prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi; when Bugliosi died in 2015, the New York Times noted that this title is still the best-selling true crime book ever published.) But perhaps the weirdest, scariest example of people not being groovy with LSD is Japan’s acid-headed Aum Shinrikyo cult, which carried out a deadly sarin gas attack on fiveTokyo subway trains in 1995. So while the use of these substances may produce advantageous results, including medical benefits and (sometimes) fun, suddenly turning people into peaceniks probably ain’t one of them.
Newly Legal Cannabis Edition Battery Gift Guide By Laura Marie Braun
On January 1, 2018, many Californians rolled out of bed with that alltoo-familiar champagne headache... and many other Californians rolled up a little relief. The legalization of recreational marijuana is a gamechanger not only for longtime cannabis supporters and medical marijuana users but also for a huge array of local industries. For the first time in our history, people are coming out of the shadows in droves to publicly embrace what can be a life-changing drug — and companies are responding with innovative new products. Still unconvinced, or turned off after a bad experience? Knowing your product in relation to your needs is key. Sara Payan, Public Education Officer at The Apothecarium, credits much of the local dispensary’s success to their caring and knowledgeable staff. “Seventy-five percent of consults come in looking for relief. ...We always say that we want people coming in to feel important and empowered.” Ready to dive in, but unsure where to start? Payan suggests starting “slow and low” — in other words, give yourself time to get used to lower dosages and find what works for you. Pot isn’t just about melting into your couch with a bag of chips, and it isn’t restricted to just smoking. So leave your preconceived notions about this incredibly versatile plant behind, and check out a few of our favorite scenarios for infusing it into your busy life. Note: We talk a lot about THC and CBD in this article. If you aren’t sure what those are, check out the blue sidebar on page 39.
For the first time in our history, people are coming out of the shadows in droves to publicly embrace what can be a life-changing drug — and companies are responding with innovative new products. 4/
1 / For combating the “Sunday scaries”: Bliss Blossoms from Garden Society If you haven’t experienced the wonders of CBD yet, let these luscious chocolates from Garden Society make you a believer. Lovingly crafted with organic, fair-trade, and locally sourced ingredients in Sonoma County, these chocolates are 1:1 CBD:THC and infused with calming Indica hybrid and passionflower. That means you’ll enjoy an easy anxietybanishing high that can lull you to sleep when those Sunday night scaries start creeping in. (Note:The founder of Bliss Blossoms, Erin Gore, is a former member of The Battery.) 2 / For indulging in “me time”: Om Epsom Salt Mineral Soak from Om Edibles Light the candles and dig out that old Pure Moods CD, because bathtime just got real. Created by San Francisco-based Om Edibles,
an award-winning, all-female collective, Om Epsom Salt Mineral Soak is one of the best ways you can medicate without the high. Packed with 25 mg of THC, this soak delivers immediate relief to sore muscles while putting bathers in a state of deep relaxation. Better yet, it’s available with a variety of essential oil infusions such as lavender, rose geranium, and lemon eucalyptus ginger. 3 / For skincare self-care: Little Green Bee Facial Serum Created by a botanist and chemist, Little Green Bee utilizes herbal medicine to create unique selfcare products.This facial serum harnesses the power of CBD to even skin tone, brighten the skin, and reduce fine lines. A few drops daily go a long way, thanks to organic and natural ingredients like jojoba, apricot, and hazelnut. Best of all, at just $34, it’s an absolute steal compared to many other facial serums on the market.
4 / For engaging in live music: Bliss by Dosist Concerts and marijuana have been a power couple for decades, but go one toke over the line and suddenly the relationship has gone sour. That’s where Dosist comes in. The California company’s popular disposable vape pens come preloaded with 50 or 200 doses and are specially designed to keep you in the perfect state without going overboard. How accurate is it? Time magazine named the device one of 2016’s top 25 inventions. “Dosist’s Bliss vape pens are low-profile and uplifting,” says Payan. “Great for concerts.” Formulated for a variety of uses such as sleep, passion, and calming, Dosist’s Bliss pen is perfect for keeping the mood light and the music mind-blowing at live shows and music festivals.
All photos appear courtesy of the manufacturers.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CBD AND THC
5 / For a little mood boost: Positivi-Tea by Kikoko If smoking isn’t your cup of tea, then perhaps Kikoko is — quite literally. Started by two women in Emeryville, Kikoko is a cannabis tea company that has caught the eye of everyone from HighTimes to Forbes to, yes, Oprah herself. Loaded with peppermint, green tea, lemongrass, and, of course,THC and CBD, the Positivi-Tea flavor is Kikoko’s highest tea and promises a joyful buzz with plenty of laughs. While it’s not recommended for beginners, Positivi-Tea can easily be brewed and split into batches.
that can be taken under the tongue. It can be applied as a topical or added to food to help combat uneasy feelings. “It’s a nice base level without the euphoria. It’s like someone finally opened a valve and let the steam out,” says Payan.
6 / For dealing with midday stressers: 20:1 CBD Tincture by Cosmic View As we all know, stress often comes at times when we can’t just walk away and take a medicated bath. Luckily, non-psychoactive tinctures are perfect for those situations. For workday stress, Payan suggests a 20:1 ratio CBD tincture, which is a liquid form of cannabis extraction
7 / For Sunday Funday: Somatik Cold Brew Nobody takes weekends as seriously as the Bay Area. Be it camping out at Dolores Park or an art gallery crawl through Oakland, there is always a new way to stay social. Make the wait for brunch a little more bearable with Somatik Medical Cannabis Infused Cold Brew. Made in partnership with local favorite Ritual Coffee, Somatik gives you just the right amount of caffeine buzz to match the 15 mg of infused THC. Follow the handy dosage guidelines on the side of the bottle to find your happy place, and then get out there and start exploring!
THC is the main thing that gets you high (and causes a number of psychoactive side effects, like memory loss). In contrast, CBD won’t get you high, but it can get you other wonderful benefits, like pain and anxiety relief. “It gives you a sense of well-being, rather than that high euphoria,” says Sara Payan, Public Education Officer at Bay Area dispensary The Apothecarium.
12 / 8 / For recovering from the night before: CBD 2:1 Kind Caps Indulge a little too much last night? Marijuana is here to clean up that mess, too. “CBD is great for recovery from inflammation and discomfort,” says Payan, who recommends CBD 2:1 Kind Caps, organic coconut oil cannabis conveniently measured out in easyto-take capsules. “CBD also helps speed up your recovery time.” 9 / For getting in the mood: Quim Rock Intimate Oil If you think marijuana leads to lethargy, Quim Rock is here to prove you very wrong.Their aphrodisiac Intimate Oil is a special blend of coconut oil, essential oils, and cannabis that absorbs quickly into a woman’s — ahem — sensitive regions and promises extra excitement, heightened sensation, and explosive endings. Just remember that oil can compromise the integrity of latex, so be sure to use latex alternatives alongside this product! (Note:This product is functional for many men, but usually not as effective.)
10 / For getting the creative juices flowing: Cloud Buster by Kin Slips When creative blocks start fogging your head, look no further than Cloud Buster from Kin Slips. Stylishly packaged, these discreet little squares dissolve under your tongue for a quick release of uplifting cannabinoids to inspire creativity and release mental blockages.They also come in three different doses, starting with a microdose with 5 mg of THC and going up to extra strength with a hefty 20 mg. 11 / For making everything taste like a five-star meal: Terra Bites Espresso Beans by KIVA While knowing your strains can reduce the munchies, sometimes the munchies come in handy! If you’re looking to enhance the flavors of a big meal, Payan suggests popping a few KIVATerra Bites espresso beans at least half an hour before eating. “They’re a low dosage hybrid and they’re tasty, so they really get things going,” says Payan. With just 5 mg of THC per espresso bean, diners can find their perfect dosage easily and indulge responsibly.
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is one of marijuana’s many chemical compounds (or cannabinoids). But CBD is non-psychoactive, unlike the more widely known tetrahydrocannabinol, a.k.a.THC.
12 / For relief from aches and pains: CBD Therapy Balm by The Farmaceuticals Company Dealing with habitual aches and pains used to involve a lot of aspirin and ice packs, but legalization has made nature’s remedies more accessible than ever. Free of harsh chemicals and solvents, CBD Therapy Balm is a topical that can help ease back pain, arthritis, various skin conditions, and more. Female-owned and operated out of Big Sur,The Farmaceuticals Company prides itself on its organic products, so you can rest assured that they’ll treat you and your body right.The company also has an internal initiative they call their Earth Stewardship Program: they use only heat and pressure to make their products (never chemicals or solvents); their products are crafted with 90% solar and 10% nonrenewable energy; and their flowers are grown using 60-80% solar, 10-20% wind, 10% hydro, and 10% nonrenewable energy on their grower’s certified clean green threegeneration farm.
FUN FACT: In some areas, even the laws governingTHC and CBD are different. For example, THC (along with marijuana itself) is currently listed in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act and therefore prohibited under federal law, although it’s legal here in California. But CBD is federally legal as long as it’s derived from something that’s not marijuana — e.g., CBD from hemp is federally legal. Confused? We are too, but at least it’s basically legal around here!
Member Spotlight: Legalization
Jade Netanya Ullmann on the Legalization of Psychedelics By Lydia Laurenson
“The FDA has officially signed off on allowing us to do clinical trials for healing PTSD using MDMA (which often goes by the street name ecstasy).”
Image courtesy of Jade Netanya Ullman.
Back in the early 1900s, during Prohibition, alcohol began to receive medical exemptions before it was re-legalized in 1933. Cannabis has recently followed that example, and now psychedelics are poised to do the same. The colorful Jade Netanya Ullmann is Major Gifts Officer and Connector at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which focuses on getting medical exemptions for psychedelics. Ullmann became a Battery member in 2017. After the recent legalization of cannabis in California, we sat down with Ullmann to learn about the next legal frontier, and about what inspires her to work so hard on fundraising to support psychedelic studies.
How did you first encounter MAPS? When I was 30 years old and living in New York, I was assaulted by two men I did not know — what the police refer to as “a crime of opportunity.” As a result of the trauma of this attack, I became quite destabilized and was unable to quickly return to my previous fast-paced lifestyle. I sought medical help and was diagnosed. Part of my treatment included taking prescription medication and participating in an outpatient program to regain my sense of stability and power. While I derived some benefit from traditional Western medicine, I was dissatisfied with the speed and efficacy of the treatment. I remembered that when I attended Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, I learned about ayahuasca and its healing power. I decided to leave New York and visit the West Coast,
where I spent a month being held and supported by trusted guides, one in particular who was both a therapist and also trained in the practices of Santo Daime, a shamanistic indigenous religion from Brazil. Utilizing this plant medicine tradition, I was able to transition off my pharmaceutical medication regime and process not only the recent trauma from my assault in NYC, but earlier trauma as well. A few years later, I met Rick Doblin, the founder of MAPS, at Burning Man. MAPS was founded in 1986 as an organization to help promote the responsible use of psychedelics for therapy and transformation. Both Rick and MAPS’s work made a big impression on me. While at Burning Man, I also experienced MAPS’ Zendo Project, the psychedelic peer support service that MAPS provides at festivals and events worldwide. Like many people at Burning Man, I had an overwhelming and transformational psychedelic experience, and during the most challenging part of that experience, I thankfully managed to find the Zendo Project tent.There, I felt immediately grounded and found respite. Burning Man can be quite disorienting in all the dust of the desert, and within the calm structure of the Zendo tent, I was given an opportunity to process the most recent trauma again. As a result of that experience, including the support I received from the “sitters” at the Zendo Project, I returned to NYC, where I embarked on restorative justice work with my offenders. While that work did not lead to an in-person meeting with them, the process did support another level of healing, which I directly attribute to MAPS and our work. What is MAPS working on now, and how did you begin working there yourself? MAPS is a nonprofit that has been supported by well over 15,000 donors, whose gifts have ranged from $1 to $5.5 million. In 2014, MAPS formed the MAPS Public Benefit Corporation (MPBC), a wholly owned subsidiary of MAPS with the special purpose of balancing income from the legal sales of MDMA with the social benefits of MAPS’s nonprofit mission.This is important because
MDMA — which often goes by the street name ecstasy — is frequently sold in impure forms, which is not suitable for research. MAPS can serve a valuable role by providing MDMA made under Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), as required by the FDA for the purposes of clinical research.This GMP MDMA will be the same formulation that will be available for use if MDMA is granted approval by the FDA. In 2017, the FDA gave us a “Breakthrough Therapy Designation” for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is the highest-level program the FDA offers for promising new drugs. In other words, the FDA has officially signed off on allowing us to do clinical trials for healing PTSD using MDMA. MAPS and MPBC are now launching Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD this year, and if those studies confirm the promising Phase 2 findings, the treatment could be approved as soon as 2021. Years ago, as I became interested in MAPS’s work, I met Ashawna Hailey. Hailey had served on MAPS’s Board of Directors from 2006 until she passed away in 2011. Upon her death, she left a $5.5 million bequest to further realize MAPS’s Phase 2 trial of MDMA-assisted therapy for social anxiety in autistic adults with Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and Stanford University. In addition, Ashawna was instrumental in supporting the launch of our Phase 3 research of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD. Ashawna and other visionary MAPS board members and major donors inspired me to join them. Development and philanthropy have always been deep passions of mine. When I was imagining where to ultimately bring my gifts, I heard a resounding call to MAPS and its mission. It’s amazing to think that all this has happened in just three years.Today, as the adventure continues, I am now the Major Gifts Officer and Connector at MAPS. Is MAPS involved at all in cannabis? Yes, MAPS has been a leading advocate for developing and sponsoring cannabis research. We received the largest research grant of $2.15 million from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) after they legalized cannabis in 2012 for our study evaluating smoked cannabis as treatment for veterans suffering from PTSD, led by psychiatrist Dr. Suzanne “Sue” Sisley in Phoenix, Arizona.
But frustratingly, as MAPS’s Policy & Advocacy Director Natalie Lyla Ginsberg, MSW, explains, “The disparity between state and federal cannabis laws is especially harmful for research.Though MAPS is based in California with some of the world’s best medical cannabis, our study must use the only source of federally legal cannabis, grown under contract to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Attorney General Jeff Sessions is actively blocking cannabis research by refusing to grant other grow licenses. In addition to the harms of using a limited variety of strains of cannabis for research, we can’t legally use government-grown cannabis for Phase 3 clinical trials, which would be required for FDA approval.Thus, Sessions is, as of May 2018, preventing the government from recognizing cannabis’s medical value.” What are your donors like? Do you find that donors may have had a positive personal experience in their own lives that motivates them to be interested in furthering the research?
Tell us about your history withThe Battery. I joined The Battery in 2017 when I moved to San Francisco to be closer to the MAPS office, as we were producing Psychedelic Science 2017, our five-day, over 3,000-attendee conference featuring the future of psychedelic medicine. I wanted to meet people in the Bay Area and be part of an innovative community. I think my favorite part of The Battery is the synchronistic meetings that happen in the bar, jacuzzi, and even photo booth room!
The Ultimate Act of Gifting
Burning Man’s Radical Transition to a Nonprofit, and How Other Radical Organizations Can Learn From It By Jennifer M. Walske, Photos by Tom Stahl
On a personal level, I love your style!Your clothing is so distinctive and artsy!Tell me about that. May I be cliché and say: it’s psychedelics and art! I think I have always been a person who likes to push the boundaries, especially in the California Burning Man culture, which inspires me to the core — I feel called to give it my all!
Our donors are amazingly diverse. We have supporters across the socioeconomic and political spectrums. Some people support MAPS because they are deeply committed to our work on PTSD, including working with veterans and other populations where trauma is prevalent. Other donors are motivated by the transformative experiences they’ve had themselves or witnessed in family members and other people they know. Still other donors are drawn to MAPS because of our focus on mental health and alternative therapies. So you can see that anyone interested in healing from trauma of any kind, veterans’ issues, and/or alternative medicine and therapeutic modalities will find much in our work to align with and support. What is MAPS’s relationship to Big Pharma? MAPS uses the same exact standards in our clinical research that Big Pharma uses, but MAPS does not have a direct relationship with Big Pharma. We are much smaller than most drug companies. What scale is MAPS operating on in terms of your clinical trials? MAPS is positioned to make MDMA into a prescription medicine by the year 2021. Our Phase 3 research will take place at 16 sites in the U.S., Canada, and Israel, and even one here in the Castro and at UCSF! Along with Phase 3, MAPS will be launching what is called Expanded Access, what used to be known as Compassionate Use, which will give more people with PTSD the chance to receive MDMA-assisted psychotherapy who can’t get into our Phase 3 trials.Then MAPS will be forging the efforts to make MDMA-assisted psychotherapy legal in Europe though the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
People climbing the art car built by the Robot Heart collective at Distrikt, a Burning Man camp, in 2013. Robot Heart’s website gives this description: “Robot Heart is a collective of doers and dreamers, artists and entrepreneurs. Our home is in the desert dust of Burning Man, and the streets of New York City, Detroit, San Francisco, and Hong Kong. Home is wherever the Heart is. Robot Heart is a community and a family, and our events at Burning Man, in New York and around the world, are an extension and celebration of that community.”
“After 25 years of tending our garden in the desert, we now have the means to cultivate its culture worldwide.” — Larry Harvey, Founder, Burning Man On April 28th, 2018, Burning Man Founder Larry Harvey passed away. He was 70 years old. By the time of his passing, Burning Man had largely transitioned from a body of several organizations, both nonprofit and forprofit, to a more unified nonprofit structure known as the Burning Man Project (BMP). The original 1986 event, where Harvey built and burned a wooden man on San Francisco’s Baker Beach, drew only a small gathering. Now, Burning Man draws tens of thousands of participants from around the world. Together they build a temporary city, Black Rock City, which becomes the sixth-largest city in Nevada once a year, complete with its own airport and post office. The city is built in a desert (called “the playa”), so
participants must bring their own shelter, food, water, power, and everything they need to survive in the sometimes extreme conditions — only to have the city be completely dismantled afterwards, fulfilling Burning Man’s commitment to “Leave NoTrace” until the following year’s event. The challenges of scaling this radical, alternative, grassroots community have been prodigious, particularly as Burner culture now has global reach, with many affiliated but separate regional events that happen throughout the year in places as far away as the Netherlands, South Africa, China, Argentina, and Ukraine. Affiliated organizations also now exist on a global scale, such as Burners Without Borders, which was created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to address areas where volunteers are needed after natural disasters.
letting their incentives get away from them while setting the prices on that coffee and ice. To make the transition to a nonprofit, Burning Man’s co-founders collectively donated $7.114 million of the trademark’s market value back to BMP — representing most of its independently appraised fair-market value. For their 30 years of largely unpaid service to Burning Man, each of the six original LLC partners received a modest $46,000 in compensation — serving as the ultimate act of “gifting.” Founders are employed by the BMP and compensated accordingly, but their employment is not guaranteed. However, the founders were granted lifetime seats on BMP’s Board of Directors, with the caveat that the new nonprofit required eleven or more disinterested directors to complement the six founders, intentionally diluting the founders’ voting power. On an annual basis, revenue for the nonprofit will predominantly be derived from event ticket sales, which earned roughly $37.7 million in 2016. After it became a nonprofit, BMP hired a Director of Philanthropic Engagement to lead the organization’s fundraising efforts. In 2016, donors gave generously to fund the purchase of a permanent presence in northern Nevada, a private parcel of land and hot springs known as Fly Ranch.This was done to provide a year-round location near Black Rock City where the organization could experiment with and apply the Ten Principles 365 days a year.The donations to support Fly Ranch did boost contributed revenue for that one-time transaction, to 17.5 percent of total revenue for 2016. But in most years, contributed revenue has been much less, as most revenue is derived from earned revenue in the form of ticket sales.
Earlier this year, I published a Berkeley-Haas business school case study about Burning Man’s transition to its current nonprofit form, based on hours of interviews generously given by Burning Man’s founders — including Larry Harvey, Michael Mikel (also known as Danger Ranger on the playa), Crimson Rose, Will Roger, Harley K. Dubois, and Marian Goodell. This time was given in the hope that learning about their journey would help other “radical” thinkers and leaders as they contemplate their organization’s mission, impact, and raison d’être. As Danger Ranger so aptly stated: “If Burning Man is going to continue as an organization, as a thing into the future, there needs to be a succession plan for its leaders … to transition to something that would go beyond our lifetime.” For an organization that prides itself on innovation and consensus wherever possible, inventing a new structure was both exhilarating and weighty. Burning Man’s reason for being was to disrupt the status quo and find new ways of thinking, so how could this ethos be reflected in the organization’s future structure? The prior for-profit structure of Black Rock City, LLC, was problematic, as its ownership could be passed down, through inheritance, to designees who might not share the founders’ values. The founders hired nonprofit
Opposite: Burners on bikes approach the Catacomb of Veils, created by Dan Sullivan for Burning Man 2016. Sullivan raised $68,012 on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to help cover the project’s costs. Below: Abandoned bicycles left on the playa after Burning Man 2012. The website for the Burning Man Project says: “As a violation of Leave No Trace [one of the Ten Principles of Burning Man], abandoning a bicycle on the playa is just as offensive as leaving a pile of trash.” Next: This photo was taken during a memorial service at the Burning Man Temple in 2013. The Temple is one of few recurring structures at the Burning Man event and has hosted everything from weddings to funerals. In 2013, a group of law enforcement officers conducted a funeral for a fallen officer at the Temple, and many nearby Burners joined the funeral as well. After that event, a Burner named Jon Mitchell wrote on the Burning Man blog that he was initially upset to see law enforcement enter the Temple… until he realized they were there for a funeral. As he realized why law enforcement had come to the Temple, Mitchell wrote, “My mind buzzed with contradictions. I realized that this was some kind of memorial, which made perfect, beautiful sense. But I couldn’t quiet an angry voice in my mind, raving about Romans and Christians. Why are the forces of the state entering our Temple? I was trying so hard to parse it that I couldn’t concentrate on what was actually happening… until I heard the eulogy for Michael Dwayne Bolinger read out over the radio, and I saw the emotion well up in the faces of the federal agents surrounding me. Kind words were said, tears were shed…. We Burners were full of both fear and love. The BLM, the feds, the human beings in the gray trucks and the khaki uniforms, they were, too. We all stood like holy warriors on the same ground. As I worked hard in my heart to unify these opposing forces, I felt… no, I saw the Presence that underlies them both, presiding over our Temple rituals. I swear to God I did.”
specialist attorney Brooke Oliver to guide discussions on the best possible organizational form for Burning Man’s next evolution. This point is emphasized by founder Harley K. Dubois: “We are the people who could think about it a hundred years out because we have been through so much and we started off all together.” In 2011, after years of consideration, the six partners of Black Rock City, LLC, approved the registration of a nonprofit, the BMP, to serve as the future primary home for Burning Man’s activities. The full transfer of the various assets of Burning Man to BMP concludes this year. The bylaws for the new nonprofit were written with great care, to reinforce Burning Man’sTen Principles: “radical inclusion,” “radical self-expression,” “radical selfreliance,” and all the ideas of gifting, decommodification, participation, environmentalism, and civic responsibility that underpin the annual gathering. For example, the bylaws state that sales during the event are barred from “excess benefit transactions” to prevent any future form of profiteering or commercialization at the yearly event. This is important because only two things are sold for “real-world money” during Burning Man — coffee and ice — and only the organizing body sells those things, so this bylaw protects the organization from eventually
Now, as BMP’s leadership sets its long-term strategy, a question remains: what percentage of total revenue should donations represent going forward? And are the people who are already so generous in giving their time also willing to give with their wallets? Yet these funds are much needed if BMP is to support its artists more fully and to grow globally. As Theresa Duncan notes: “There’s a whole constellation of giving that takes place surrounding Black Rock City, which, if you participate in all the different ways that are available, could take years to do. Such as participating in the regional network, or being a part of a camp, or creating a mutant vehicle, or building an art project, such that by the time you’ve gone through that constellation, you’ve already gifted so much … that giving a cash donation to the organization is not top of mind.” But even though cash isn’t top of mind, and the Burning Man event is a gift economy, these monetary considerations are critical. As Burning Man continues to grow, both inside and outside of Black Rock City, the organization faces a complex landscape of challenges and opportunities as well as a scarcity of resources. For instance, is the partial art grant system sufficient for artists, or are there new ways to raise money for artists so that their art is fully funded? The art displayed at Burning Man can take a year for artists to create and can cost tens of thousands of dollars that they fully expect they will never get back (often, the art itself is constructed from expensive materials). As board member Jennifer Raiser affirms: “The thing that distinguishes Burning Man art is its sheer lack of parameters.The size of the art is as big as you can possibly manage to make, which requires collaboration because a single artist can’t build something that’s 80 feet tall. And that requires resources and time to create wonder and, ultimately, a sense of community.” Due to permit restrictions and concerns around transportation, Black Rock City’s population is currently capped by the Bureau of Land Management at 70,000 participants, with an additional 10,000 staff and volunteers. Given the physical limitations of one two-lane highway from Reno to Black Rock City, much of the future growth of Burning Man must take place beyond the playa. While the founders are invited to speak at gatherings and conferences around the world, it is difficult to know how much influence these speaking engagements might have. As Co-Founder Crimson Rose states: “The biggest challenge is going to be cultural … we need to instill in everyone on the planet the will to live and survive and enjoy life, to have experiences … that’s what people do at Burning Man: have real experiences.”This leads the founders to ask if there is a more direct way to become forces for good and to influence business and society — and that may involve having access to resources and financial support, to grow the organization to reach and support many of the global events happening now year-round.
Why We Need to Renew Faith in Government
The Tech Industry’s Role in Building a Better World for Everyone By Jennifer Pahlka and Tim O’Reilly
This photo, titled Holding the Sun, shows a sculpture named Truth Is Beauty by Marco Cochrane, which debuted at Burning Man 2013. Truth Is Beauty is part of The Bliss Project, a series of three sculptures modeled on the same woman, Deja Solis. On his website, Cochrane writes: “[These sculptures] are intended to challenge the viewer to see past the sexual charge that has developed around the female body, which has been used for power and control, to the human being. They are intended to de-objectify women and inspire men and women to take action to end violence against women, thus allowing both women and men to live fully and thrive. For Truth is Beauty, Marco captures Deja, who has always been self-conscious of her height, standing on her tip-toes, arms outstretched and head thrown back in a moment of radical self-acceptance and love.”
Image courtesy of Jennifer Pahlka and Tim O’Reilly.
This year, for the first time, Burning Man will go on without Larry Harvey. Based on my time with him, I sense that he would want us to ask ourselves: how can this flame spark a sea change toward a more principled way of life, resulting in a better society and world for generations to come? We’ll also take a moment to reflect on the many great ways Burning Man’s Chief Philosophic Officer, Larry Harvey, influenced us all. This article is adapted from the Berkeley-Haas business school case study, “Burning Man: Moving from a For-Profit to a Nonprofit; the Ultimate Act of Gifting.” Copyright ©2018, by The Regents of the University of California. Reprinted/Adapted from the Berkeley Haas Case Series by permission of The Regents.To read the full case, visit http://cases.haas.berkeley
Jen Pahlka is the Founder and Executive Director of Code for America, a nonprofit founded in 2009 that provides technical volunteers to local governments across the United States. Code for America recently received $250,000 from Battery Powered as part of the Childhood Nutrition theme to help fund its work providing better access to food stamps. Pahlka’s husband,Tim O’Reilly, is the Founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, which has been publishing technical and computer materials for 35 years; he also wrote the book WTF? What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us.The two of them co-authored this piece.
What we believe shapes how we act and who we become. This is true of individuals, and it is true of societies. In the 20th century, Americans believed that government could be a force for good, and we used that shared belief to do good: providing universal access to education, electricity, and telephony; instituting a social safety net during the depths of the Great Depression; redirecting the energy of the American people and our economy to fight global fascism and end genocide in World War II; lifting up the shattered countries of Europe and Asia after the war; taking the first steps toward healthcare for all with Medicare and toward ending racial inequality with the Civil Rights Act.
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard,” President John F. Kennedy famously said in 1962. It was a bold time, and the best and brightest went to work in government because it was seen as the place to tackle hard problems that affect all of us, problems so big that “the market” couldn’t solve them. Yet today, while the brightest, most idealistic minds of recent generations have come to Silicon Valley to work on hard problems that affect us all, for too many, private gain replaced public service as a goal. As former Facebook data scientist Jeff Hammerbacher once said, “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to get people to click ads. That sucks.” We’re now at an inflection point where we need to renew belief in the importance of government to our collective future. Silicon Valley as an industry has long viewed itself as at best separate from and at worst “disruptive,” or oppositional to, government. But government is not something apart from us. It is the clearest expression of what we, the people, agree to do together. Government is not only the platform for our economic prosperity — setting the rules that enable our markets to function by ensuring fair play and deterring bad actors, and making investments in science and technology that can then be commercialized by the private sector (the internet, GPS, and the Human Genome Project are only the tip of the iceberg). It is also the realm in which we establish shared dreams and work toward a better future for all. For the two of us, Jen and Tim, reinventing government for the 21st century has been the journey of our work together. In 2009, one of us (Tim) was pushing the techno-wonky idea of “government as a platform,” that government could learn to harness the power of its “users” to co-create its offerings — and meanwhile, the other (Jen) was realizing that the real key was to make public service cool again. She started Code for America in 2009 as a fellowship program to bring tech talent to local government, something like the Peace Corps, except with technical volunteers serving city governments around America. Then she took a year’s leave in 2013 to become Deputy CTO of the U.S., where she set up the United States Digital Service, bringing talented tech people to work in the federal government. What we learned is that, yes, government needs to bring its technology into the 21st century — just as Tim had described with the “government as a platform” idea. That does mean, as Tim argued, that government should take a leaf from the Apple app store, Amazon, Google, and other internet platform companies and build its digital services in a way that allows third parties to extend them. That does mean
adopting cloud computing, open-source software, and the latest development technologies and methodologies. And it does mean that government needs to adopt the consumer internet’s relentless focus on real-time measurement of how well its services work for their users, constantly improving them using data. The government needs to create user-facing services that are simple, effective, and easy to use. But what we hadn’t fully understood before we began this journey is that before we can build great government services, we need to deeply understand the problems of the people we’re trying to help. This isn’t tech per se. It’s deep user research, and it’s product management to build services that really meet the needs of those users, not just the needs of the government agencies tasked with helping them. User-centered, data-driven design needs to begin at the policy level, and the insights created during agile development need to continuously inform and improve policy so that it achieves its intended outcomes. So often, government programs begin with idealistic aims, but because they were designed without sufficient thought as to how they might be implemented, they fail to live up to their full potential to do good. We realized that while all charitable spending on the social safety net in the U.S. totals $42 billion a year, government spends half a trillion dollars each year trying to address those same issues. Applying what we’ve learned in the technology industry to make government even 10 percent more effective would more than double the impact of all other charitable spending. And who thinks that 10 percent is as much improvement as we could get? As a result of these insights, the work that Code for America is doing has pivoted from small-scale pilots in the Fellowship to demonstrate what is possible, to working closely with government to bring some of our most effective projects to scale. For example, we began in California with simplifying access to food aid (the Supplemental Nutrition Aid Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) and are now working on integrated benefits (SNAP, Aid for Women and Children, and Medicaid) in five other states. Code for America is also working on more equitable systems for criminal justice reform, keeping people out of jail pre-trial, and keeping them from going back to jail when they’ve been released. We don’t just have to bring the lessons of Silicon Valley to government, though. We also have to bring the values of government to Silicon Valley. It’s time to get past the notion that government gets everything wrong, and Silicon Valley gets it right, and to bring government and Silicon Valley together in a new synthesis that reminds us that people matter. The platforms we build — in Washington, DC, in
our cities, and on the internet — need to be guided by the right values. Our government was built on a foundation of inclusiveness — the goal of a better life for all, not just for the few — and the value of public service, working for the benefit of others, not for private gain. We, and the rest of Silicon Valley, have learned powerful lessons on the lack of those public-spirited values at companies we originally held up as the paragons for government to emulate. Social media companies have failed to act as fake news, hate speech, and divisive politics spread across their platforms. They were using user-centered, datadriven, and iterative development practices, but in pursuit of profit rather than the users’ interests. That has reminded everyone that values matter. Platforms that we thought would promote democracy have too often turned out to do the opposite. Platforms that promised to provide economic opportunity look increasingly like extractive monopolies. While many people in tech are idealistic at heart and want to do great things that serve the world, the relentless drive for growth leading to “world domination” can lead even the most idealistic companies in the wrong direction. Technology platforms and governments fail, it turns out, for the same reasons. They no longer do a good job of serving the people who rely on them. We don’t have to accept this failure as inevitable. When we bring the best of technology together with the best of government, we can build a brighter future. Failure is not inevitable. Success is up to us.
Silicon Valley as an industry has long viewed itself as at best separate from and at worst “disruptive,” or oppositional to, government. But government is not something apart from us. It is the clearest expression of what we, the people, agree to do together.
In 2018, Code for America received $250,000 from Battery Powered. The organization believes that government programs can · be easy to access, · cost less to administer, and · provide real-time data about outcomes. Code for America builds easy-to-use digital services that improve the delivery of government programs.
GetCalFresh GetCalFresh, a Code for America program supported by Battery Powered, is an app that helps California families access food stamps. GetCalFresh distills the complex food assistance application to only the questions necessary to attain benefits while providing multilingual text support for clients through each step of the enrollment process. Code for America also connects individual tech employees with opportunities to work or volunteer with the U.S. government. You can get involved at codeforamerica.org.
The First 100 Days of This Presidency Photo Essay
Photos and Text by Naomi Harris
On January 20th, 2017, Donald J.Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America. On that same day, I set out on a road trip around the U.S. to coincide with Trump’s first 100 days. My idea was to figure it out: when the polls and the media all said Hillary Clinton was going to win, how did we end up with Trump at the helm instead? With no set itinerary, I began in Washington, DC, and drove around the country, letting the news and weather dictate my journey. I went to Palm Beach, Florida, before it was dubbed “White House South.” I traveled along the border inTexas, New Mexico, and Arizona to see where Trump proposed to build the wall. I got as far as Northern California and turned around, going through the Bibleand Rust Belts. In total, I drove through 25 states, talking with and photographing a variety of people affiliated with both the Democratic and the Republican parties. I also found people who didn’t, or couldn’t, vote due to voter disenfranchisement. I ended the journey on April 29th, day 100, in Niagara Falls, NewYork — crossing over the peaceful border into my homeland of Canada.
Richard Toll Ward, photographed between cities, Arizona “I voted for Hilarity. I call her that because I felt so sorry for her. When you can’t laugh you cry, so that’s the hilarity. I didn’t mean she was hilarious, but a couple of times in her speeches when she got her little rooster feather up, she was hilarious like a rooster.”
Above: Frank Kim, McAllen, Texas Store owner Frank Kim moved to Texas three years ago from LA. “This may sound drastic, but my entire profits have been cut by more than half from last year,” Kim says. “All the border cities — they’re all hurting from the wall issue and the whole boycott against U.S. goods. It’s like a domino effect here.” Left: Lesley Laider, Pahokee, Florida Laider is a felon who was charged with carrying a gun. If he could vote, he says that “I probably would have voted for Hillary. I wouldn’t have voted for Trump, I know that. I don’t think he is fit to be president.”
Above: Toni Holt Kramer, Founder of the Trumpettes, Palm Beach, Florida Right: Three Trumpettes, Palm Beach, Florida ABC News once called the Trumpettes “Donald Trump’s loyal high society female supporters,” and Town & Country magazine has described this group of wealthy women as “Donald Trump’s most adoring fans.” The Trumpettes’ website states, “We are sure that with Donald J. Trump we will get the best of the best to run our country because he is intelligent, has incredible business acumen, and he cannot be bought or bullied. . . . Your job as a Trumpette is to help get the real Donald J. Trump elected, not the one the press wants you to believe in. No one networks better than women, so introduce the real man to your family, your friends, the people you work with, and anyone you come in contact with.”
Above: Aaron Jackson, Topeka, Kansas Jackson stands outside the Equality House. In 2013, this house was painted the colors of the gay pride flag by Jackson’s nonprofit, Planting Peace, in order to make a political statement — it sits directly in front of the Westboro Baptist Church, which is known for their God Hates Fags protests around the world. “I may not identify as LGBT, but I am an activist for the community,” he says. “I don’t think this new presidency is going to reverse anything.” Left: Katelyn Brommel, Austin, Texas Brommel is one of the 6.1 million Americans unable to vote because of felony disenfranchisement. When asked who she would have voted for, she said, “I felt like they both had dirt. They both weren’t clean candidates, they were not doing it for the right reasons, they weren’t doing it for the well-being of our country. They were doing it for their own fame and fortune.”
Above: James Watson and Jeremiah Perry, Ferguson, Missouri Watson (left) and Perry, both lifelong Republicans, sit in Perry’s new car outside the liquor store where Michael Brown was last seen. They both agreed that had a woman been running on the Republican ticket, they wouldn’t have voted for her. (They wouldn’t, in fact, vote for a woman at all.) They voted for Trump, saying, “Donald Trump is going to do what Donald Trump needs to do for the United States of America. Obama being president — the racism got worse and worse, and out of control. We, as black men, just feel like we are on the bottom pile of the junk.” Right: Lydia Faithfull, Amargosa, Nevada Faithfull is a sex worker who says she led the Hookers for Hillary Campaign. She describes her reaction to Trump’s announced presidency: “I really couldn’t believe it. I was shocked. I didn’t want to believe it. The next day I was like, I’m going to get an IUD because they’re going to close Planned Parenthood.”
In this section, we continue our deep dive into the backstories behind some of the works that make up The Battery’s art collection.
“Visualizations of the American dream are elastic and emotional; their meanings can be easily manipulated by those in power.” — Josh Reames
Josh Reames’s timely paintings take an explicitly critical stance on the current political climate we’re living in. Drawing on his printmaking background, Reames harnesses his technical painting prowess to remind us of the vulnerability of justice, one of the primary pillars of a healthy democracy. Erica Deeman utilizes photographic portraiture to celebrate the beauty and complex identities of women from the African diaspora, and in the process she further examines her own dual British and Jamaican heritage. Her striking photos challenge assumptions about how much a portrait can tell us about a person and work to redress the problematic way portraits have been used throughout history to reinforce structures of race and class. Cortis & Sonderegger use simple craft materials to recreate iconic historical photographs. Through an elaborate construction process, they produce images that are humorous and convincing and that deliberately show the work that went into their creation. The resulting photographs are at once familiar and strange, generating an uneasy tension between our memory of the historical reference and our present moment. — Matt Bernstein, Director of Art at The Battery
Josh Reames “My recent paintings depict emotion-saturated metaphors and codified visual signs perforated by trompe l’oeil singes and torch-burned holes. This metaphoric destruction effectively dismantles symbols associated with American economic and political power. I wanted to channel my training as a printmaker and my knowledge of the history of printed matter, highlighting the notion of the free press as a vehicle for the mass dissemination of revolutionary ideas. I think that the graphic language of political satire and visualizations of the American dream are elastic and emotional; their meanings can be easily manipulated by those in power. In Twin Justitia (2017), I have appropriatedthe image of Lady Justice, the allegorical symbol of moral force in the justice system, inverted and conjoined at the sword. I think of it as an extension of the symbol.There’s strength in unity — something that’s important in the current sociopolitical climate.” — Josh Reames
Josh Reames (b. 1985) received an MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA from the University of NorthTexas. He has presented his work at Andrea Rosen Gallery and Jacob Lewis Gallery, among others, and internationally at Brand New Gallery, Milan; Galeria Annarumma, Naples; and Dittrich & Schlechtriem, Berlin. Reames’s work has been featured in Artillery, Artcritical, Hyperallergic, ARTnews, and New American Paintings. Reames currently lives and works in New York City and is represented by Luis De Jesus in Los Angeles.
Josh Reames Twin Justitia, 2017 Acrylic on canvas 60” × 50” Courtesy of the artist and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
Erica Deeman “This series, Silhouettes, focuses on the elevation of women from the African diaspora. I wanted to create a presence and tenderness for all of my sitters that was undeniably beautiful, powerful, and nuanced against history’s failure to represent us in this way. The body of work, composed of 30 portraits in its entirety, became a metaphor for this desire; within each image there is an intimacy and a delicacy to explore. Many of my sitters were strangers that I met on the streets of San Francisco, through acquaintances, or via Craigslist. I was relatively new to the city when making the project, and I was also a student. Looking back, I realize that not only did I build a project, but I also built a community. I have always been interested in the portrait and its ability to guide us to form decisions about a person’s identity and being. I continue to delve deeper into these notions with all of my work, in order to understand how historical and contemporary visual information influences our perceptions of each other. In future portraits, I want to explore the multiplicity of identity and how the photograph can communicate to the individual within the image and to the external audience.” — Erica Deeman
Erica Deeman Untitled 15, 2014 Digital chromogenic print 45” x 45” Edition 4 of 5 Courtesy of the artist and Anthony Meier Fine Arts
Erica Deeman (b. 1977) lives and works in San Francisco. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in public relations in 2000 from Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK; and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography in 2014 from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. Deeman was a finalist for the 2016 Tosa Studio Award and won the Pro Arts 2 x 2 Solos 2015 Emerging Artists Award as well as the 2015 Working Artists Grant for November. Deeman has had solo exhibitions at Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco (2017); Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (2017); Laurence Miller Gallery, New York City (2017); and the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego (2018).
Cortis and Sonderegger “We started the Icons project in 2012. Until we began this series, we worked for the most part as commercial photographers, but coming out of our studies in art school we were always thinking about concepts and doing other less commercial and more personal projects. In the summer of 2012, when there were no jobs and no money coming in, we had a humorous idea to reconstruct the world’s most expensive photograph. The whole series began as a joke between us. After we made the reconstruction of Andreas Gursky’s Rhein II, we expanded our idea to recreating the most iconic images from history, because merely copying the most expensive photographs wasn’t enough for us. The series Icons questions images that people have in their collective memories, as well as photography itself. We title all our works Making of … and have been asked several times when we are going to present the final images. We always think that is quite a funny question, because we chose that title on purpose. We deliberately include the surrounding debris from the construction of each scene because we want to show the viewer how our photographs were made and reveal them as remakes. For us, it was never interesting to just copy the original photograph. The “final image” that these people ask us about is really the original image everyone has in their mind. What we create speaks about more than just remaking the past; by fully exposing the staging process, we raise questions about the temporal nature of experience and memory. Now that we’ve finished working on our book Double Take, we have time to work on some images that we’ve always wanted to create but didn’t have the courage to make because they were too difficult to construct or would take too long. At the moment we are working on the image Napalm Girl by Nick Ut. In the original image, the figure isn’t in focus, so it was always too challenging to reconstruct this work. The reconstruction of figures always has to be done quite well and should never be ridiculous, especially for such a serious photograph as Napalm Girl.” — Cortis and Sonderegger
Jojakim Cortis (b. 1978) and Adrian Sonderegger (b. 1980) began working collaboratively while studying at Zurich University of the Arts in 2005. Jojakim Cortis is originally from Aachen, Germany, and Adrian Sonderegger was born in Bülach, Switzerland.The duo collectively conceives and manufactures surreal worlds.They are based in Zurich. Cortis & Sonderegger are represented by East Wing Gallery / Doha.Their work is in the collections of the Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Making of “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” (by Joe Rosenthal, 1945), 2015 Digital chromogenic print 41” x 27.5” Edition 1 of 6 Courtesy of the artists and East Wing Gallery
Interview with an Art Collector Featuring Battery Member Doug Mandell By Matt Bernstein, Photos by Misha Vladimirskiy
Artworks by Mona Kuhn, Kira Kim, Johnna Arnold.
Photo of Doug Mandell at The Battery, Courtesy of Wendy Yalom.
Doug Mandell is an art collector whose focus is contemporary photography. He is a founding member of The Battery, and a member of Battery Powered. Recognized by Inc. magazine as one of the top lawyers in Silicon Valley, he is the founder of Mandell Law Group, a boutique law firm that represents founders and senior executives personally and provides outside general counsel services to startups. Mandell recently returned to his firm after serving as the General Counsel of Nauto, a big data / AI company in the autonomous vehicle space with a mission to make driving safer. Doug was also the first general counsel at LinkedIn, a company he represented since it was founded. Mandell is involved with several museums in San Francisco, including SFMOMA (where he has served on the Photo Accessions Board); the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; and the Contemporary Jewish Museum, where he is on the Board of Trustees.
When did you get interested in art? I had an amazing art history professor when I was a sophomore in college. He was so passionate about the art that he literally jumped up and down in front of the slides. He really opened my eyes to being able to appreciate art — in the same way that I was able to appreciate wine in a much different way after I took a wine-tasting class. When did you start collecting, and what was the first piece you bought? There used to be a wonderful small photography museum in SoMA called the Ansel Adams Center, which was affiliated with the Friends of Photography (a nonprofit that Adams started in 1967); it closed in 2001. I was wandering through the bookstore one day in my twenties and came across a book about photographs of Paris by Magnum photographers. (Editor’s note: Magnum Photos is a photographer collective owned by its members and described by Co-Founder Henri CartierBresson as “a community of thought, a shared human quality, a curiosity about what is going on in the world, a respect for what is going on and a desire to transcribe it visually.”)
Artworks by Mona Kuhn, Todd Hido, Alejandro Guljarro.
How do you find out about new acquisitions? Do you have a research process? One of my favorite things about collecting is the process of finding art that speaks to me. I love not only discovering new art but also developing relationships with the artists in my collection (a wonderful advantage to collecting contemporary art). I don’t use art consultants, and probably the worst thing a gallery can do is select a piece for me and tell me I will love it; I would much rather wander through the back room of a gallery. I try to see as much work as I possibly can at galleries and museums in San Francisco, New York, and LA. I also try to go to Art Basel in Miami (which is actually composed of multiple art fairs throughout Miami and Miami Beach); AIPAD in New York; and Paris Photo (the best place to see photography, not only at the show but throughout Paris). In San Francisco, my two favorite art fairs are the FOG fair and Photofairs San Francisco. Has your taste and have your interests changed significantly since you started collecting? I have become much more confident in my collecting. There are a number of collectors I know who have beautiful collections, but most of what they buy is based on recommendations from art consultants and gallery owners. While these collections can be impressive, they often lack a personal connection to the owner.That said, some of these art consultants who built these collections would probably look at my collection and not like it. I am very comfortable with that.
Dennis Stock Café de Flore, 1958 Silver gelatin print 14” x 22” © Dennis Stock/Magnum Photos
I fell in love with one photo by Dennis Stock, entitled Café de Flore. Dennis Stock’s most famous image was the iconic photo of James Dean in his overcoat, and a movie was recently made about his friendship with James Dean. The following year, The Commonwealth Club organized an event bringing together famous people from the 1960s — everyone from writers to Black Panthers to musicians … and one photographer, Dennis Stock. I showed up at the event with my book and was the only Dennis Stock groupie. I introduced myself, asked him to sign my book, and peppered him with questions about Café de Flore throughout the evening. About a week later, Dennis called and told me how impressed he was with my love of his work and offered to sell me one of his prints of Café de Flore for $1,000 (a price that was a bargain at the time). I told him I couldn’t afford it as I was planning to use that money to buy a bed.The next day, I called him back, bought the photo, and told him I would sleep on the floor. I know you exclusively collect photography. What led you to this specialization? My love of photography began when I was a boy. One of my father’s passions was photography, especially
What does collecting add to your life? Collecting adds a richness to my life that goes far beyond acquiring art. Through collecting, I have built relationships with people that I would otherwise not have gotten to know. This includes artists, other collectors, gallery owners, people who work for art museums and art organizations (such as art magazines and nonprofits). Some of my favorite people in my life have come from my love of photography. Two years ago, I started hosting Photography Salons at my apartment where I feature a photographer from my collection who speaks about his or her work. This has been a wonderful way to bring good friends together over food and wine and introduce them to photography. Is there a dream piece you would own if money were no object? Hard to limit this to just one piece (like most collectors, I have a list). The top three things that just came to mind: a Hiroshi Sugimoto Seascape photograph; a vintage Berenice Abbott New York at Night; and the complete House Hunting series by Todd Hido (which I saw at AIPAD in New York in April).
photographing flowers. When I was 10 years old, my dad bought me my first 35-mm camera (a Minolta XG7) and started taking me to flower shows to teach me photography. Now that my father has passed away, this is one of the ways I honor his memory, and his passion inspires me as a collector. Do you have any specific goals with your collection? I don’t have any clearly defined goals other than to build a meaningful collection. For me, meaningful is based on work that speaks to me and I feel I cannot live without. That is a very high bar, but I believe that is necessary — the amount of money and space is limited, but the amount of art can seem infinite. The more my collection grows, the more I see patterns and discover the deep psychology behind what drives my collection (which I believe is present for any collector). For example, I recently realized that I have a large number of female photographers in my collection, and four photographs in my living room are by female photographers who have photographed themselves in their work. I am not sure what this means, but it makes me love the work even more. Artworks by Johnna Arnold,Trevor Paglen, Cig Harvey, Heidi Lender.
Vera Sola, “The Only Truth” Music Interview By Laura Marie Braun
“This is what I’ve got for you. This is my truth. I was afraid of it for a long time, and it’s as honest as I can be.”
Images courtesy of Vera Sola.
At just 28, musician Danielle Aykroyd has an air of sophistication and speaks with the eloquence of someone with two lifetimes of experience. She is unmistakably both an old soul and a young artist who has finally found her own voice on her own terms. That voice goes by the moniker Vera Sola, Latin for “the only truth,” and a cheeky jab at her own initial disdain for artist pseudonyms. “I didn’t want to release music under my own name for a variety of reasons, but I always had trouble with my own name. Mostly feeling like it wasn’t my own name, but my father’s,” says Aykroyd, who played at The Battery in August. “It also translates to ‘the only truth.’ That’s ultimately what came out.This is what I’ve got for you.This is my truth. I was afraid of it for a long time, and it’s as honest as I can be.” The daughter of actors Donna Dixon (Bosom Buddies, Spies Like Us) and Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters,
Blues Brothers), she scored her first film credit at age 2 with a bit part in her father’s film Nothing But Trouble. Despite this early start, Aykroyd says that film wasn’t her calling. Instead, she has spent her adult years taking detours through writing and radio until she reached what she wanted to do all along: make music and her own name. “My story is a funny one,” says Aykroyd. “I started playing music when I was very young, but I was pretty obstinate and wouldn’t learn my scales or anything. … Throughout my life, I was drawn to playing music. I’d pick up guitars and banjos and piano again, but never really dedicated myself to it, even though I knew it was what I wanted to be doing.” The Harvard alum may have slacked on her earliest music lessons, but her first full-length album, Shades (due out this November), shows little indication of that. Instead, listeners are enraptured with hauntingly rich
soundscapes and immensely personal narratives in the tradition of Tom Waits or Nancy & Lee. Between the sheer range of instruments presented (including a quijada, or donkey jaw — an African instrument that’s often used in Latin American music) and the surprising distinctiveness of Aykroyd’s voice, Shades offers breadcrumbs leading to major influences like Phil Spector’s music production formula, the “Wall of Sound,” and 1960s Ghanaian music. Entirely written, arranged, performed, and produced by Aykroyd, Shades is a poetic first album — and it almost never happened. “I was very afraid to show anybody my music. It’s always been very personal. I’d just play guitar in my bathroom and sing softly these poems that I’d set to melody. It wasn’t until people heard me through the bathroom wall and forced me out to sing for them that I’d ever really shared it,” says Aykroyd. “It was my dear friend and former partner Elvis Perkins, whom I would jam and play instruments with, who invited me to go on tour with him. I wasn’t a musician, but he convinced me to go on tour. I traveled around with him for many years and played more instruments than I ever could’ve imagined. Even then, that was playing someone else’s music, and I was very shy about my own.”
The experience finally pushed Aykroyd out from the backing band and into open-mic nights and small clubs, until she felt comfortable performing solo. But she says it wasn’t until a major life shift in early 2017 that she knew she needed to finally make her own record.That change, she says, left her with over 40 completed songs to choose from for the album. “I had a crash-down of everything I knew — brushes with mortality and illnesses in my family, and with radical life changes,” says Aykroyd. “I was confronted with a lot of fear and in making this music, I experienced this kind of dissolution of that fear and a knocking down of the walls that had prevented me from doing what I had wanted to do.” “As soon as I let go of that fear and embraced this musicality and these songs, everything changed. My voice completely changed. I gained octaves that I never had before. ... It’s amazing how much fear can hold you back.”
Josh Rosenthal, the “Record Man’s Record Man” By Laura Marie Braun “I’ve got around 2,000 records,” says Tompkins Square Records founder and Battery member Josh Rosenthal. “I had thousands more but pared down nicely. I’m due for a new pare-down. I like to keep things nice and tight, just essential things I really love.” After spending fifteen years working at Sony Music; founding a record label that specializes in ultra-rare gospel, country, and jazz album pressings; and penning The Record Store of the Mind — a shameless look into his life as an obsessive music fan and audiophile approved by Robert Plant himself — it would seem Rosenthal knows a thing or two about record collecting. That said, one can only imagine the process and heartache involved in trying to trim down a beloved collection that is thousands of albums deep, let alone
Permanent Record examines the impressive vinyl collections of Battery members. (The Battery also hosts occasional Vinyl Mondays, where members can share their collections in person!)
choosing just five favorites for us here at Candy. After all, prolific musician and producer (the man behind the music of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Crazy Heart, and much more)T. Bone Burnett doesn’t call just anybody “a record man’s record man,” but that’s exactly how he described the music aficionado. When he isn’t cranking out album releases and reading materials for music fanatics or attempting to restrain his habit at On the Corner Music in Campbell, Rosenthal says he most enjoys his robust record collection over tea while situated between the speakers on his couch. So kick back in your favorite seat, pour yourself a hot cup, and crank up the stereo.
If you or a member you know has a record collection that deserves some love, be in touch at email@example.com.
These are Josh Rosenthal’s top most-prized albums: Image courtesy of Josh Rosenthal.
Journey in Satchidananda
The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend
I picked this because I just got it Sunday at the flea market for $1. There was a bomb site of empty jackets and beat-up records with no jacket to match. I picked up the Alice jacket with no record inside, and my heart sank. Without much hope, I looked through about a hundred orphan discs until … I found a match! Perfect cover, slightly beat-up LP, but hey, this is rare and expensive in any other setting. It’s her most ethereal album and was partially recorded near my hometown on Long Island.
There’s a similar story to the Alice Coltrane album with this one. I found the jacket only, at the flea market. Luckily, someone was selling the vinyl disc only for $15 on Discogs, so I matched them up. This influential LP was just reissued for Record Store Day as a double LP set. Original copies go for $150 to $300. Often credited as a godfather of hip-hop, Curtis Mayfield signed Baby Huey to his Curtom label. Huey then descended into heroin addiction
and died at age 26, leaving behind this posthumous solo album produced by Curtis, which has been sampled by A Tribe Called Quest, Ice Cube, and many others.
Bill Evans Waltz for Debby This classic trio date with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian is top shelf. I found this LP — of all places — next to a garbage can on Mercer Street in New York City some years back. It’s a mint mono first pressing and crazy rare and expensive in any condition. That said, it’s one of my favorite finds. Yay, me!
Bert Jansch Bert Jansch I got turned on to Scottish guitarist and songwriter Bert Jansch as a teenager, hearing “Black Mountain Side” on Led Zeppelin I. Jimmy Page is a huge fan and so is Neil Young. In fact, Neil took him on tour toward the end of his life. I met Bert when he made a rare appearance in Brooklyn, New York, about ten years ago. Sadly, he passed in 2011, but he was a giant! Bert combined ancient Scottish and British folk inflections with a modern sensibility, making even maudlin songs like “Needle of Death” sound appealingly hip somehow.
Luckily, he left behind a wondrous discography of many solo albums, collaborations, and of course, his classic Pentagle recordings with John Renbourn. It is rare to get the complete package — the haunted voice and the latticed, intricate guitar work all at once. Of all my favorite singers, Bert’s is the voice I most hear as my own. I don’t know what that says about me – quite worrying, actually!
Jordan De La Sierra Gymnosphere: Song of the Rose This double LP of minimalist piano music was recorded live at Grace Cathedral here in San Francisco back in 1977. In the same school as
Terry Riley and La Monte Young, De La Sierra casts a hypnotic spell with playful runs thrown in to keep you engaged. The record is an odd piece of San Francisco New Age music history and there’s a 20-page booklet inside this super-rare gatefold volume that includes lavish illustrations and instructions for listening. This is highly recommended if you’re seeking some peace and/ or deep contemplation. Like Brian Eno, this is music for airports, music for film, but mostly music for daydreaming. Honorable Mention
Daniel Schmidt & The Berkeley Gamelan In My Arms, Many Flowers
Cover for Journey in Satchidananda originally published by Jowcol Music in 1990. Cover for The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend originally published by Curtom Records, Inc. in 1971. Cover for Waltz for Debby originally published by Riverside Records in 1985. Cover for Bert Jansch originally published by Transatlantic Records in 1965. Cover for Gymnosphere: Song of the Rose originally published by Unity Records in 1978.
Books “Are the Destination, and the Journey. They Are Home.” The Battery Book List By Kevin Smokler
Every Battery member is invited to nominate two books for The Battery Library. If you have nominated books for The Library and would like one of your books featured in the Battery Book List column, be in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was Pulitzer Prize winner Anna Quindlen who spoke of books as “the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” Books can be just about anything to those who love them (Emily Dickinson called books “frigates,” Cicero likened them to a soul filling a body) but rarely all at once: The meeting of reader and book can feel like serene silence, polite chat, or an illicit affair. Great books usually end up being all three eventually — but usually not piled atop one another. Open the door of The Battery Library and it feels like a quiet place, the “home” kind of reading experience. Look again at the member working at one of the tables, books stacked next to laptop, and they are on “the train,” reading toward an idea prompting the departure of mind and spirit.The member in a big chair after a challenging day is mid-journey, arriving somewhere else if only for a time, if only inside. Each Battery Book List column is designed to salute a different kind of reading, as varied as the club’s members and their reasons for the books they have selected for The Battery Library — books that were at one time trains, roads, or homes for them that may end up being flying balloons, cloudless skies, or landing pads to the other members who find them. We hope their stories lead you somewhere unexpected.
only 30 years old at the time of the piece’s unveiling. He would continue in painting, sculpture, and film for another half century. “Many of Duchamp’s best works were readymades, ordinary objects somehow transformed or repositioned by the artist and objectified into art,” says Landa, a partner at the San Francisco-based real estate development company Associate Capitol. In his work at the real estate firm, he says, “we do our best to take what we find and incorporate into what we build. We’re currently redeveloping the old Potrero Power Station in Dogpatch and we are turning a 300-foot former smokestack into an entry to a hotel, a bar, and an opportunity for an art piece.That is all Duchamp. Smokestack becomes icon.” Landa reports he’s currently reading Walter Isaacson’s 2017 biography of Leonardo Da Vinci: “I find my best inspiration from biographies of creatives, regardless of the space in which they worked.” His choice of Duchamp: A Biography places it among the great armory of ideas and stories in the permanent collection of The Battery Library.
Duchamp: A Biography by Calvin Tompkins, recommended by Enrique Landa “It was like reading in 3D.” Member Enrique Landa was a college student in Philadelphia in the mid-1990s. During a visit to the city’s art museum, which holds a large collection of the works of French painter and sculptor Marcel Duchamp, he had a chance encounter with New Yorker staff writer Calvin Tompkins, who was in the middle of a presentation about the Duchamp sculpture The Large Glass. “Suddenly it all made sense,” Landa told me. “When Tompkins’s book Duchamp: A Biography was published a month later, I read it cover to cover over a weekend, often in the gallery among the work being described. It was like reading in 3D.” Duchamp’s work is best known — and perhaps unfairly reduced by history — for the 1917 Armory show in New York, where he submitted a urinal called Fountain as his art piece. Fountain raised the eternal question of whether the idea of art is contained within the work itself, or whether art is just as much about how the work is positioned and contextualized. And though it’s rightfully considered a landmark, Duchamp was
Emma by Jane Austen, recommended by Kevin Hartz Sleepless Nights of Reading “I am surrounded by women,” member Kevin Hartz, CoFounder and Chairman of Eventbrite, told me. “Julia, my wife, and my two daughters, Emma and Maeve. So I’m inspired by Jane Austen publishing such an important work given the time (1815), and I wish for my gals to be inspired by such great women.” For the birth of their first child, Hartz’s family received a few copies of Jane Austen’s fourth novel, Emma. Emma was the last of Austen’s books to be published during her life, all of which came out under the pseudonym “A Lady.” Her fame and standing as one of the English language’s greatest novelists would come from scholars and fans many decades after her passing. “I studied the period of George III (1760 – 1820) in graduate school, and this is a reflection of that era. ...I
didn’t read Emma until many years later,” says Hartz. “My older daughter is named Emma, so how could I not choose her namesake for The Battery Library? For our home book collection, I was lucky enough to find a first edition copy of Emma at Blackwell’s bookstore (an English/Scottish chain of about a half-dozen shops) to give her when she is old enough to appreciate it.” Whereas Austen’s first three novels were each about the marriage market in village England, Austen famously reimagined her heroine Emma Woodhouse as a headstrong young woman “no one but myself will much like,” drawn to matchmaking others instead of herself. Emma is often considered Austen’s most readable book, and hence a good starting point for newcomers to her work. Alicia Silverstone starred in a 1995 film adaptation, Clueless, a teen classic that writer/director Amy Heckerling built from the novel’s raw elements. (Editor’s Note: Another film, Emma, was released in 1996. It was a more direct adaptation of Austen’s book, starring Gwyneth Paltrow. However, Clueless was far more financially successful and is probably more famous.) Hartz reported an interest in Emma’s strong fatherdaughter relationship, an echo of the book’s presence alongside the growth of his family and the time he now spends reading with his own kids. “[My younger daughter Maeve and I] recently finished Charlotte’s Web, and we are starting The Little Prince.” Although he hasn’t returned to Austen’s work since completing Emma (his last read was the 2017 technological true crime yarn American Kingpin), its inclusion in The Battery Library reminds Hartz both of seeing who his daughter is becoming, and the earliest days of her arrival, when everything changed. “It makes a great read during those early sleepless nights as a parent.”
The meeting of reader and book can feel like serene silence, polite chat, or an illicit affair.
After On and the Science Fictional Battery Bestselling Science Fiction Author and Silicon Valley Insider Rob Reid By Lydia Laurenson
Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson, recommended by Nicole Ward-Parr “Why is the measure of love loss?” “The book begins with a line that has haunted me for my whole life,” Battery member Nicole Ward-Parr told me. “Why is the measure of love loss? Why do we only appreciate something — love, passion, etc. — once it’s gone?” She’s speaking of the 1992 novel Written on the Body by English author Jeanette Winterson. Winterson was already famous and a half-dozen books into her career by 1992; Body is one of the rare books featured in The Battery Book List that its corresponding member read around the time of publication. “I was a freshman in college when I read it,” says Ward-Parr. “I went to UCSB and studied cultural anthropology and interdisciplinary studies. One of my gender studies professors, Beth Schneider, recommended the work of Jeanette Winterson. ... Her books Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985) and Sexing the Cherry (1989) were amazing and revolutionary in how she approached gender in her writing. Her writing style itself is highly imaginative and defies categorization — which is Winterson’s intent.” Written on the Body dwells on the past affairs of its narrator, unidentified by either name or gender, and a relationship with a married woman named Louise. It’s a tale of heartache and regret that bypasses the standard waystations of love stories, an approach its admirers are quick to cite.
“I have continued to read her work throughout the years and find her take on sexuality, love, and relationships to be inspiring because they are unique and uncategorizable. Not stereotyped,” Ward-Parr says. “I thought how compelling it was to read an amazing, sensual love story without having to categorize by sex. It left so much room for imagination and mystery.” “I think that my own journey as a feminist started in college when I was exposed to writers like Winterson, Adrienne Rich, Foucault, and Simone de Beauvoir,” continues Ward-Parr, who is now Western Regional Director for BDO USA, LLP, and a professional voice-over actor. “I’ve worked in a male-dominated industry the majority of my career and I think that my studies early on set a good foundation for me to use my voice, push for a seat at the table, and be a support to other women coming up in their careers.” Ward-Parr describes her own reading habits as that of “a literary tramp. From self-help to essentialism to Solar Punk to nutrition/DNA stuff.” Nonetheless, she has returned to Winterson’s books over and over since their first chance meeting, a continuing relationship with the author’s work that began many years ago and has both endured and shaped what followed. It’s among the many reasons Written on the Body now resides in The Battery Library collection, thanks to its story and the member whose story it informed. “I wanted one that I had come back to over the years, and Written on the Body was one of those,” Ward-Parr says. “I was so impressionable in college and [Winterson’s] work had such a profound effect on my writing and my own evolution with relationships as a human on this planet.”
Cover edition for Duchamp: A Biography published by First Owl Books in 1998. Cover edition for Emma published by Penguin Books in 2015. Cover edition for Written on the Body published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. in 1993.
Image courtesy of Rob Reid.
I have been unable to shut up about Rob Reid’s 2017 science fiction novel After On: A Novel of Silicon Valley. As a lifelong science fiction reader who spent years in the bowels of startupland, I consider this book basically perfect. I love After On so much that I not only convinced my partner (who also reads science fiction and has worked in tech) to read it — I even asked my partner to read the book aloud to me during a long car trip, so we could share moments of horrified laughter and extended technical discussions of Reid’s sharp, tooreal observations. Although After On is fiction, it’s brilliant partly because it’s solidly researched and neatly embedded in what we like to call the “real world.” Reid writes from real experience: he originally moved to Silicon Valley in 1994 and worked for a company called Silicon Graphics. Then he went on to found Listen.com (best known for its music product Rhapsody) and spent years as a VC before turning to science fiction. Thus, Reid joins a small but well-respected cadre of science fiction authors with strong tech industry backgrounds. For example, Ramez Naam spent 13 years
at Microsoft working on products like Internet Explorer, and his website notes that he “holds 19 patents related to search engines, information retrieval, web browsing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.” He also wrote Nexus (2012), Crux (2013), and Apex (2015), novels centered around a group of idealistic young psychedelic drug-using scientists who develop a nanotech drug that makes its users telepathic, thereby running afoul of government and corporate interests. Similarly, Annalee Newitz, who recently published Autonomous (2017), has worked extensively as both a tech journalist and a policy analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a Bay Area-based nonprofit that works to protect digital free speech and innovation. The main character in Autonomous is a biotech pirate who travels the world donating life-giving drugs to the needy and is forced to go on the run from the pharmaceutical industry. All three of these authors have a strong interest in artificial intelligence (AI), and their books challenge readers to think deeply about what life might be like from an AI’s perspective and how AI development will
“I credit the tech industry for being truly self-aware and self-critical. I think our industry makes ongoing and genuine efforts to be a better version of itself, and we know we aren’t perfect.”
Cover edition for After On published by Del Rey in 2017.
affect humanity. Newitz focuses on uncomfortable questions around consent and slavery. In the future world of Autonomous, intelligent robots are “born” into indentured servitude, and humans can also be indentured, so the book explores similarities and differences in the experiences of enslaved robots and humans. Naam’s Nexus trilogy uses the idea of a nanotech drug to consider consciousness, spirituality, and trauma in humans, while an AI character developed by a giant organization is traumatized and reshaped by torture meted out by a human overseer. And in Reid’s book, an AI accidentally born of startups tries to figure out if she can trust humans not to kill her. Each author draws from their respective tech backgrounds as they imagine AI futures. In After On, plenty of good science informs the speculation, as one might expect from an intelligent technologist. What’s unusual and delightful about Reid’s novel, however, is the way he pulls no punches and fills the book with precise observations about the modernday tech industry — from boardroom discussions about funding rounds to the horrors of hostile product design. Indeed, Reid even includes actual San Francisco places in After On, like The Battery! Yes, that’s right — Reid is an original Battery member and has been with us since the club opened in
2012. In fact, I picked up this book because Reid did an author event at The Battery, during which he read the book’s section that talks about The Battery. The fictional narrator of After On is snarky about The Battery, but Reid himself has a lot of love for the club and for the tech industry, too. In this interview, he tells us about that love — and about his fears as well. Lydia: It’s always interesting to read science fiction by authors with deep personal histories in the tech industry. What are the challenges of writing something like that? Rob Reid: One challenge is that you don’t want to make it so insider that it repels outsiders. What I tried to do was make it resonate as 100 percent authentic for someone who is of this world, to give them some chuckles with my playful insider references. Meanwhile, I also tried to create something where outsiders could learn a great deal, from an authentic source rather than a sensationalizing source. Your book goes further than similar books, in the sense that it’s got specific references to real stuff in the Valley — for example, you make comments aboutYahoo’s acquisition practices, and the Friendster codebase, and the publication Business 2.0, and, of course,The Battery.
Simultaneously, it’s a super snarky book, and to me that feels different from the optimistic tone of San Francisco — do you agree? When you depict the real world in any creative work, from a TV show to a book, and you insert things that are jarringly nonexistent, you are basically clubbing the audience over the head with the sense of: “by the way this isn’t true, it’s just a story.” Why would you do that? Regarding the tone of the book, I’d characterize it as “playful” rather than “snarky.” I think of snarkiness as having elements of deliberate nastiness. I’d say that on its best days, the Valley is quite earnest, and on its worst days, it’s bombastic and self-important. I love and revere my industry, yet it sometimes makes me cringe. And I have fun with all of that in the book — in ways that I think are almost always fun, sometimes critical, but never sneering or vindictive. I credit our industry for being truly self-aware and self-critical. I think our industry makes ongoing and genuine efforts to be a better version of itself, and we know we aren’t perfect. You and your wife are founding members of The Battery, so it’s interesting that you had a sarcastic vision of The Battery in the book. To be honest, if I read my own description of The Battery without knowing a thing about the place, the next day I would have done whatever it took to get a membership! I adore The Battery, I did a ton of my writing in The Library and House Bar, and the club has become a significant piece of the landscape of high tech today, so it made sense to include it in After On. Being such a big part of this particular landscape, it inevitably includes a couple elements that may merit a chuckle. But I also think that, like the better parts of the tech industry, The Battery is self-aware, and is always trying to become its best self. And I adore that. I like to poke fun at things I adore.
entering a time when our technologies could eradicate us.The first time was 1945. In fact, we’re on the cusp of a wave of a handful of those technologies, so we need to think very carefully about how we’ll navigate this upcoming era. Back in 1945, you needed the resources, wealth, and organization of the nation-state to marshal the destructive force of the atomic bomb. But now we’re entering an era in which thousands of people are in a position to create immense destruction. Synthetic biology and artificial intelligence are each a black box, and we don’t know where those technologies are going. I’ve heard people say that no lone individual would eradicate humanity, but those people need to read the news. Look at how many mass murders we have — do you think the guy who shot up all those people in Las Vegas would have hesitated to murder five million people? He had no moral center, and he would have killed everyone in the world if he could. But the only technology he had access to was guns, so he was only able to kill people with a gun. We are about to enter a world where random individuals can easily kill millions of people.That is the warning of After On. I saw that since the novel’s publication, you’ve been continuing these themes with a podcast called “After On.” As I was writing the novel, I found so many deep technical and sociological themes. I ended up sitting down with a bunch of great experts in order to learn more, and then I had to leave out so much of what they said. So I decided to do a podcast series, almost like DVD extras — eight episodes going into augmented reality, quantum computing, neuroscience, government, privacy, and other themes from the book.Then I got halfway through those episodes and decided I couldn’t stop, so now we’re up to 23 episodes!
Is there a moral or a vision that you’re pointing to with the book? I wouldn’t exactly call this a moral, but I do believe that for the second time in humanity’s history, we are
Turn the page to read an excerpt from After On.
Rob Reid is an acclaimed science fiction author, a former startup entrepreneur, and an original member of The Battery. In the previous pages, we interviewed him about his 2017 novel After On. The following scene, excerpted from the book, introduces a morally bankrupt yet smart startup entrepreneur, Tony Jepson, and shows how Jepson manipulates his investors, with commentary about the worst elements of startupland along the way.
AN EXCERPT FROM
AFTER ON By ROB REID
It was January of 2002, and nothing stank of startup excess and doom quite like a small herd of Aeron chairs huddled around a conference table in an opulent CEO suite. Especially if the entire wall behind them was an immense whiteboard, expensively rigged to print its contents onto poster-sized sheets at the touch of a button. Or if the adjoining wall was a vast, triple-glazed plate overlooking San Francisco’s South Park — a one-time industrial slum which by then housed more failed startups than entire zip codes down in Silicon Valley. Adjoining that was a floor-to-ceiling glass sheet surveying a poshly converted warehouse full of hip youngsters perched on ergonomic roosts. Only a fourth wall of blank red brick hadn’t been resurfaced with untold thousands of investor dollars when this once healthy metal-bending shop decayed into doomed corporate digs. Tony Jepson swished into his cavernous domain twenty minutes late, his board of directors having long since assembled. Startup founder though he was, no one thought of this guy as a visionary. Not then. Not yet. Yes, he did have a big idea, that one time. But it was god-awful! At least according to certain stodgy old-school standards (like profitability, logistical sanity, and even originality, as no fewer than six startups were founded upon the same daft notion within months of each other). It involved peddling pet food
over the Internet — a concept so flawed it became a punch line for a half generation of future entrepreneurs. As for investors, they flocked to Jepson’s company and its five doppelgangers like flies to a shit-wagon. It was 1999, and the bar for that sort of validation was very, very low. Three years on, the unhappy proxies of those investors were convening yet again. Each of their recent board meetings had been more rancorous than the last. But today’s was sure to make history. That is, if anyone ever bothered to tell the story of yet another dot.bomb Internet flop and its also-ran CEO, which even Jepson strenuously doubted at that point. Which is to say: how little he knew! The Zegna-to-riches arc he’d been tracing since b-school was indeed a quotidian yawner. But the riches-to-rags plunge that would later follow would be Page Six material. His subsequent rags-back-to-riches jaunt, an Oprah-worthy redemption! And then? To cap it all off by getting his ass murdered? And so brutally? Over that? Seriously, none of us will ever forget the guy! But before any of this could be set in motion, ePetStore.com had to survive this summit. Jepson kicked it off by leaning over a bulbous triangular shell on the conference table. “Are you in there, Nathan?” he asked, rapping on the glorified speakerphone. Every board meeting started with this ritual. Three years before, the most celebrated partner at the Venture Law Group won the company’s business by promising to personally attend each of these powwows without charge. He had since shown up twice and dialed in once. “Uh... sorry, but no,” came the dweeby, nasal reply. “Nathan can’t make it today. It’s just... uh, Tyler.” Uh, Tyler. Nathan’s timid understudy couldn’t even announce himself without stammering. That, or his parents had the wit and foresight to name him Uh. “Oh, Uh. I see, Uh. So, let the record show that Nathan had another extremely pressing and entirely unexpected last-second engagement.” This was part two of the opening ritual. But testy as he sounded, Jepson didn’t resent the snub for once. Today, he just needed a mute noncombatant taking legally salient notes. And for this, Uh Tyler was just perfect. Jepson turned from the speakerphone to the attendees. “Mornin’, J-dog,” he said, nodding at a guy the rest of the world called Jason Potter. With a resume consisting solely of an MBA and some years of management consulting, J-dog had little to offer this, or any board of directors. He was here because shortly after incorporating, Jepson learned that the law required him to have at least one board member other than himself. So he put the word out to some old fraternity brothers, and J-dog stepped in as a temporary measure. Soon after, it occurred to Jepson that the closest thing an entrepreneur has to a boss is his board — where J-dog’s vote would be as reliable as a Cuban ¡Si! on an old Soviet UN resolution. So J-dog stayed put and became everything that Jepson could ever hope for in a board member and not a smidgen more.
Jepson adjusted the collar on his crisply pressed shirt. It came from the looms of a storied designer who had clad generations of buttoned-down professionals, and was now hawking an exorbitant “sport” line to suit-shunning moderns like him. He left it breezily untucked over black jeans that cost more than most of his employees paid in rent. Hand-stitched loafers fit for a squire unwinding over drams of ancient Laphroaig completed the highbred casual look that pre-Zuckerberg tech execs hewed to like cadets following a dress code. The look suited him. At thirty-one (which still passed for young among tech entrepreneurs in 2002), Jepson had hints of gray amidst his wavy thickets of dark hair. He could almost pass for six feet (if holding a teeteringly erect posture) and pegged himself at a 7.5 on the ten-point scale of hotness. Which was just perfect! Because although the cult of the geek was still in its infancy, entrepreneurs were already expected to embody it at least somewhat. This was bad news for founders who looked like they’d spent their youths getting laid. So Jepson figured he was right on the brink of being maladaptively gorgeous. Sauntering around the conference table, he manfully locked eyes with each member of his small and shrinking board. “Like all of our gatherings, this one is top secret, and so...” He came to a stop and lifted his right hand over his head like a flamenco grandee — then paused and snapped his raised fingers. The window overseeing the outer-office proletariat instantly became an opaque, milky-white pane. Jepson activated this effect by clicking a small remote concealed in his other hand. There was no need for the theatrics. Everyone knew about his billboard-sized magic window, which cost more than a year of Stanford tuition. But today’s gathering was less a meeting than a performance. And its star had honed his every word and gesture to outrage one very special audience member. Ideally, to the point of provoking an actual physical assault (unlikely, yes; but like most entrepreneurs, Jepson was an optimist). Jepson turned to his chairman. “Conrad,” he said. His chairman nodded. Steven Conrad (just Conrad to everyone) was patrician by tech standards. Fiftysomething and stout, he’d been the chief financial officer of a second-tier workstation maker during the client/server boom of the nineties. Old-school venture capitalists then tapped him to run an ad-serving outfit, back when the earliest Internet startups viewed aging CEOs as useful accouterments (a brief and forgotten fad). He ran it for less than a year before gulling Yahoo into buying the company for a downright moronic sum (even for Yahoo — which is saying so much). He sold the Yahoo shares that he personally gained from the sale as fast as he legally could (very wise), then plowed most of his winnings into a fledgling venture capital firm that bore his name. Conrad was known for spouting wizened homilies reaped from the backwoods of his youth, in a self-consciously magnified Alabama twang. But beneath the homespun façade, Jepson could tell the guy was as sly and corrupt as a Vegas cabbie. Conrad controlled a second seat on the board as well. His junior associate was
down with the flu, but should a tie-breaking vote become necessary, he’d dial in and follow Conrad’s instructions precisely. “And last but certainly not least, Mishhhh-ter Kielholz!” Jepson enunciated this like a madcap German scientist in a Warner Brothers cartoon. This was a bit low, even for him. But Damien Kielholz was a cold fish, and it would take a lot of goading to get him to blow his stack as thoroughly as Jepson intended before the meeting was over. Kielholz replied with a witheringly neutral nod. “Jet lag not so bad this time?” Jepson snipped. Kielholz had drifted off briefly during their last board meeting, which started an hour after his nonstop arrived from Frankfurt. You preening dolt, Kielholz thought, and deflected the jab by glancing detachedly around Jepson’s throne room. He had come to fully loathe this place. There was a time when its brash fittings made him feel like a renegade gambler on the wild digital frontier — a nice change after years of helping his family invest its wealth in cautious instruments like German debt and telecom bonds. Persuading his father to kick in $14 million of the $15 million raised in ePetStore’s second financing two and a half years back took hours of filial charm and cajoling. He prevailed by pointing to the jackpots their Austrian cousins had struck by backing the shameless European knockoffs of several American Internet successes. Though relentlessly polite to one another, the German and Austrian Kielholzs got on like Hatfields and McCoys. One-upping the Viennese branch with an audacious bet on “an actual Silicone Valley Web-Site innovator” (Damien’s precise words, spelling, and punctuation in a family memorandum, as he now cringed to recall) was too tempting a prospect for his father to pass up. So Papa wrote the check, while sternly warning the youngest Kielholz that his inheritance would hinge on the outcome of all this. Scarcely a year later, some true dullards invested $60 million in ePetStore at a far higher price. There was Hanwa, a Korean telco blowing a full decade of cash flows on late-bubble Internet fads. And there was XrossHatch, an LBO group with a history of railroad takeovers and smokestack consolidations repositioning itself as a “Crossover Digital Mezzanine” fund. Kielholz’s idol, Warren Buffett, famously said that if you don’t know who the patsy is at the poker table, it’s probably you — and these dim newcomers long conveyed the soothing impression that ePetStore’s patsies hailed from Seoul and Wall Street. But today, both were abandoning the table. And it seemed that the game was still on. Speaking of which, Jepson foppishly snapped his fingers again, and a PowerPoint titled Proposed Buyout Terms lit up the whiteboard. “As you all know,” he began solemnly, “Hanwa and XrossHatch have been grappling with certain anxieties related to the ongoing market correction, as well as the... recent tragic events.” Plainly stated, they were flipping out in the wake of the
9/11 attacks, which had exacerbated the recession and the market meltdown over the past four months. “Being respectful of their circumstances, I resolved to provide them with partial liquidity.” In other words, Jepson established that they were desperate enough to accept pennies for each dollar that they’d poured into ePetStore in exchange for renouncing all future claims on the company. Which wasn’t news to anyone, as this deal had been brewing for weeks. The surprise came in the next slide. It featured a simple table summarizing the terms Jepson had extracted. Details he had coyly withheld from those present until now. The company would pay $15 million to buy back the stock the investors had purchased for $60 million. Yup! Just a quarter on the dollar. “While we regret that XrossHatch and Hanwha won’t participate in our future success,” Jepson managed with a completely straight face, “we sincerely thank them for everything they did for ePetStore.” Which, to be clear, amounted to gifting the company with $45 million — which certainly merited a bit of thanks, even in Jepson’s book. Conrad emitted a low, appreciative whistle. “I’d peg that as being better’n just fair to middlin’,” he said, his down-home affectations dialed way up. Jepson took a bow — outwardly for Conrad and inwardly for himself. He’d not merely been scrupulously vague about the deal’s actual terms until now. He’d also strongly implied that the buyout would be far more costly. This meant the company had much more money left over than anyone had expected. Which meant everyone else in this room was recalibrating in real time. Jepson knew exactly where this would take them — and that he had very little time to derail their inevitable train of thought. “Why do you think he sold so cheaply?” Kielholz asked. Unlike Conrad, he seemed completely unmoved by the development. No surprise, as he normally had the emotional range of a paperweight. “The only explanation...” Jepson paused, as if stumped by an imponderable. “Would be a pathological misunderstanding of the Internet’s potential to disrupt and extend the multibillion-dollar market for quality pet provisions.” Jepson quietly congratulated himself as a hoped-for glimmer of contempt crossed Kielholz’s face. The guy’s Spock-steady veneer held up remarkably well throughout the first year of the market meltdown. It then frayed steadily throughout ’01. Then finally, during November’s board meeting, he flipped his cool Teutonic wig most spectacularly while denouncing the company’s track record. Which, to be fair, was perfectly disgraceful. Even within its execrable market, ePetStore had always underperformed. Forever dead last in market share, its trivial point of differentiation was a service that delivered kitty litter at regular intervals, so that customers need never run out. Considering what kitty litter’s made of, this was tantamount to selling subscriptions to gravel, which they fulfilled at gigantic losses via overnight mail.
So now what? If you were a money guy, getting the hell out was the obvious move. Public market investors did just this (with all the order and dignity of a meth-addled mob fleeing a burning theater) back when the tech bubble burst in early 2000. But what about investors in private disasters like ePetStore. com? Sure, they’d gladly dump their shares, too. But who would buy them? Well, Jepson’s recent exhilarating realization was that he could buy them. Or, more accurately, the company itself could. Because — through the sheerest and dumbest of luck — ePetStore’s last giant financing concluded just nine minutes before the NASDAQ reached its mathematical peak on March 10, 2000. Landing $60 million was no small thing on any point of the globe, on that, or any other day. But for a Silicon Valley startup, the timing was sublime! Dollars remained worth a dollar apiece (more or less). But engineers, advertising, legal services — practically everything the company shelled out for on a month-to-month basis had since cheapened with every passing month. This left the company’s coffers weirdly full in an increasingly bankrupt industry — which could enable it to vacuum up its own stock from its desperate, disheartened investors with no other buyers bidding up the price. As this would burn precious cash the company had no way of replacing, it might seem an odd move to an outside observer. But Jepson was no outsider. And when he first thought this process through to its logical conclusion, he was almost physically aroused. “So it seems that everyone’s pleased with the price I negotiated,” he pronounced. “Shall we have a vote?” Of course, it was unanimous. Then, after ensuring Uh Tyler had recorded the results, Jepson summoned his head of finance and instructed him to wire the funds out to the departing investors pronto. That last step was a minor surprise, as these things usually unfold over several days. But Jepson wanted that $15 million irretrievably gone before the meeting got more interesting.
If you’d like to see how this scene ends, Rob Reid’s After On: A Novel of Silicon Valley is available at many friendly neighborhood bookstores, having been published last year by Random House.
Millennials at The Battery Yes, We’re Old Enough to Be Members #wherestheavocadotoast By Adam Smiley Poswolsky My favorite thing about being a member of The Battery is the spontaneous conversations I’ve had and the interesting people I’ve met while hanging out at The House Bar. I thought it would be cool if there was a way for younger members of The Battery to meet and collaborate with each other. So I approached Stacy Horne,The Battery’s VP of Cultural Programs and Development, about starting a meetup for millennial members, and she connected me to another Creative in Residence, Stroy Moyd, a comedian who hosts Hella Funny at The Battery. More than 200 people RSVP’d for our first Millennials Club happy hour in January, and we’re looking forward to several events in 2018: potentially a weekend brunch, and an intergenerational conversations speaker series. Recently, I asked a few millennial community members what it’s like to be one of the younger members of the club and how their generation is shaping the future. Smiley:What do you do for a living? Anarghya Vardhana: I grew up in Portland, came to the Bay to go to Stanford, and worked at Google and a couple startups before making my way to venture. I’m a VC at a consumer firm called Maveron. I live and work in San Francisco and on an airplane. Stroy Moyd: I’m a professional (that sounds weird) stand-up comedian from Oakland. I started doing comedy after seeing comedians on TV who were not funny at all, because I believed I was funnier than they were. So, I decided to try. And to my surprise, it was a lot harder than it looked! Whitney Hudak: I’m in-house counsel at Lyft. I oversee all legal work for our New York and East Coast offices. I also manage the company’s global trademark portfolio and handle all brand, marketing, and entertainmentrelated deals, and I negotiate company-wide commercial transactions. Diana Epstein: Most recently, I moved over to mParticle, the leading customer data platform, as a Sales Director. I work with companies to help them collect their data in one place to unify their customer view. When I’m not working, I’m active in mBolden (formerly Women in Wireless), a 6,000+-person nonprofit whose mission is to connect, inspire, and embolden women in digital.
“We cannot take things for granted. The meaning of institutions and life milestones has forever changed. We are really doing a phenomenal job of unpacking life and its assumptions about what can be normal.” — Adam E. I also serve on the board of New Eyes, a nonprofit that helps people in the U.S. purchase glasses who cannot afford them and sends glasses to Third World countries. Adam Elmaghraby: I moved back to the United States after the revolution in Egypt in 2011. It kick-started my obsession with looking at business as a fulcrum for social transformation and change. I bounced around until I landed my current position, VP of Co-Creation Strategy at Launch Forth, where we are looking at what I like to call mobility placemaking — how the unbundling of cars and transport is going to redefine cities and the meaning of place. Smiley:What was your reaction when you heard there was a Millennials Club at The Battery? Anarghya:There’s a Millennials Club at The Battery?! Smiley: What do you think distinguishes millennials from previous generations? How do you think our generation is shaping the future? Anarghya: We are determined to align personal and professional missions. [There is] a blurry line between work and play. Because of these attitudes, I think we will spend more time on making the world a better place now, rather than waiting to do it upon retirement. But we’re also more determined to maximize fun. Diana: We are looking to jump out of bed and be excited about what we are doing. We work for a few years in a job and then maybe feel like we’re no longer learning or being challenged. Our parents had two or three or four jobs for their entire career
and we bounce around looking for what is best for us in that moment, geography, time of our lives. This desire to be inspired by our work drives older millennials to change jobs, even careers, more often than our parents did.
Meet The Millennials... We challenged each to describe themselves using only three emojis.
Adam E.: We cannot take things for granted. The meaning of institutions and life milestones has forever changed. We are really doing a phenomenal job of unpacking life and its assumptions about what can be normal. I’m hoping this opens the door for more elderhood and mentorship from the boomers.
Adam Smiley Poswolsky Writer
Smiley: People often call millennials lazy or entitled or the “me, me, me, generation.” Do you think this is an accurate stereotype? Anarghya: I think Western millennial culture (which is increasingly influencing Eastern millennial culture) is very self-centered, so I agree with the “me, me, me” critique. But I don’t think we are lazy or entitled. I think the “lazy” factor probably comes from the idea that we’re often quick to move onto something else if we try something and don’t like it, whereas previous generations might “stick to it.”
Anarghya Vardhana Venture Capitalist
Adam E.: No, it’s bullshit. It’s a deflection of all the social incompleteness that exists. Millennials are not reinventing society out of anything other than the mere need to evolve and have optionality with the catastrophe that we are inheriting: polarization and politicization; deep social issues that require a radically new paradigm. Smiley: What’s the single worst thing about millennials? If you could change one thing about your generation, what would it be? Adam E.: FOMO, a.k.a., we need more patience. Diana: I think a lot of millennials get caught up in making themselves look a certain way in social media. Whether it’s Bragbook (Facebook) or Instagram, it’s a life and world they want to portray to the outside world. I wish we weren’t so addicted to social media and crafting an image of ourselves that drives jealousy, comparisons, depression, and negative feelings about our own life.
Stroy Moyd Comedian
Diana Epstein Sales Director
Adam Elmaghraby VP of Co-Creation
Smiley: What do you love most about being a member of The Battery? Whitney: I really enjoy just being able to sit and work on my computer for an hour or so in the morning and not feeling rushed — having time to focus on my work in a relaxing environment while also having coffee and avocado toast with poached egg. Diana: The Battery is like my “Cheers.” I have to plug the event that I help co-host with a few other members — Boozy Battery Brunch! Come join us for a good time!
Whitney Hudak In-House Counsel
Battery Travel Magical Burgundy
By Jules Shell, Captions by Eileen Wu
This past June, fifteen Battery members and their guests embarked on Battery Travel: Burgundy, an intimate tour of the Burgundy wine region with our very own French wine expert, Battery Wine Director Christophe Tassan. Tassan is one of nineteen Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (MOF) sommeliers in the world (he excelled in a prestigious French wine craft competition held every four years). Burgundy is a legendary wine region, producing some of the finest and most soughtafter pinot noir and chardonnay wines. 92
Over the course of five days, the Battery group discovered the Côte d’Or and traveled through Meursault, Beaune, Volnay, Puligny, and VosneRomanée, to name a few regions, where the beautiful rolling hillsides are home to some of the world’s finest grand crus.They also dined in some of the region’s best restaurants, with each course paired with an excellent local wine.This trip marked the launch of Battery Travel, a collection of expertly curated, immersive experiences in the world’s most extraordinary locales, designed to inspire moments that matter and lasting connections within our community and beyond. Battery member Alain Mutricy and his wife, Laurence, joined the Burgundy trip to explore the Côte d’Or (“golden hillsides”) and its complex wines. Mutricy is a Frenchman living in California, a winemaker, and a passionate lover of Burgundian wines. Disillusioned by his quest to find an earthy, balanced, gentle wine of the terroir made in California that tasted like those from the Burgundy region, he decided to research and create his own Burgundian-style wine from chardonnay and pinot noir grapes of the Russian River Valley in Sonoma. His wines can now be found at The Battery and the French Laundry, among other spots. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Alain and his wife at Le Bénaton in Beaune, a Michelin one-star restaurant that serves modern, creative French cuisine. The dinner conversation went immediately beyond small talk to cover life, love, family, cheese, and the pursuit of passions like winemaking. From Alain I learned the word climats, which refers to a portion of a vineyard with homogeneous soil, vine, and exposition (usually named terroir in other regions). I also learned the word couchant, often used to refer to California: literally, the word means “the country where the sun sets,” since California is about as far west from France as you can get. Alain aptly calls his vineyard in California Climats du Couchant. “My ambition is to make great California wines, with Burgundy spirit and inspiration, and to help people to enjoy the pleasure of great food and wines,” says Mutricy. He generously answered some questions about wine, winemaking, and his history.
A Q&A with Battery Member and Winemaker Alain Mutricy What is it about Burgundian wines that makes them so special? Burgundian wines are single varietal (chardonnay or pinot noir, mostly) and premium wines are single vineyards, delivering the fruit true to your glass.The art of winemaking has been cultivated here for a thousand years, and constantly refined; some current producers are fifth-generation winemakers. Burgundy’s soil is
very particular, with multiple different layers showing up between the cliffs and the valley, enabling diversity and singular particularity of the various climats across the region.The combination of uniquely rich soil and minerality, beautiful fruit, and hundreds of years of craft make wines that are elegant, complex, and subtle. What wine history inspires you as a winemaker? I have always been fascinated by the “Judgment of Paris”— a 1976 wine competition in Paris that was won by two Californian wines, causing consternation among some French judges. One of my favorite chardonnays is from the Clos des Mouches winery; when I discovered that it was beaten by the Chateau Montelena 1973 and Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru Ramonet during the blind tasting, judged by some of the best sommeliers of France, that blew my mind. How did you convince the wine world that a wannabe winemaker with a tech background was worthy of being sold highly coveted pinot noir and chardonnay grapes from Sonoma? I met a great friend and mentor, Jean-Noel Fourmeaux du Sartel, in Napa. He’s from a family of winemakers from Bordeaux and has built the famous VGS Chateau Potelle, Illegitimate, and Fourmeaux brands in Napa. He helped me very generously, and I used his contacts to build my winery — including one of his winemakers, who is now my friend Sal Galvan, which gave me some credit. Still, even with that support, it was not easy to convince the Bacigalupi family to support this crazy project, and I needed their help.They had been supplying grapes to Chateau Montelena in 1973 (the millésime of the Paris contest). After resisting for several weeks, Pam Bacigalupi decided to sell me some grapes. I have purchased from them every year since then. How is it possible to make a Burgundian-style wine in California? What have you found are the key elements? We use natural fermentation and age the wine in French oak barrels — 10 to 12 months for the chardonnay and 18 to 20 months for the pinot noir. Then we age the wine for 6 to 12 months in a bottle. This gives more time for the wine to integrate all components. We seek acidity (key for aging and food pairings) and are very careful with the pick-up date. When I work on the blend of our different barrels (new, old, from different suppliers) I pay attention to the nose and the finish.They must tease me … and call me back! That said, we are missing the minerality and the soil structure that can be felt in Burgundy wines, and we have to deal with higher degrees of alcohol and sugar given our much warmer climate.
What is your greatest joy in producing your own wines at Climats du Couchant?
What’s one thing the novice wine consumer should know?
I love tasting the wine while it ages, noting how it evolves naturally and differently in each barrel. I love making the final blend, working hours at refining balance between flavors, texture, nose, color, finish, thinking of what should integrate in time versus what won’t, and making the tough final decision between my two blends (Climats du Couchant and Le Petit Climat).
Wine is not snobby, and one should not ever be intimidated. One should only be curious. Let your taste and emotions guide the way. Emotions are essential in wine tasting ... wine is like art. One should not feel pressured to like this and not that.
What is your greatest challenge in producing your own wines?
Just had Vosne-Romanée Joseph Drouhin 2010 to celebrate my birthday with the family. Some of my favorite California wines are Failla pinot noir, Fourmeaux (Bordeaux style) – which by the way just broke the value record at Napa auction – and some Joseph Phelps and Kistler chardonnays. Also, VGS Chateau Potelle zinfandel and syrah.
You need to find the fruit every year and pick it up on the right day. And when you have made the wine and bottled it, you still need to sell it! The economics of winemaking leave no room for mistakes along the way, and the selling process takes time, effort, and patience for several years. What brought you on the Battery Travel: Burgundy trip? When Christophe mentioned this project, Laurence and I immediately cheered. We had not been back to Burgundy in a while and were looking for a fun trip for our 31st anniversary. We love Burgundy wines; Christophe is a great friend and incredibly skilled sommelier, with a great network in France. We also love the spirit of Battery members ... so we knew the result could only be amazing … and it was! What were the highlights of the trip for you? We had a very friendly and cohesive group, and Christophe led us into a complete, superb, high-end tour of Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits, sharing his passion with us warmly. While each tasting was different and great, we went with Gilles Remoriquet in his own vineyards, going from parcel to parcel and tasting the wines in their vineyards in Nuits-Saint-Georges, close to Vosne-Romanée vines, with Gilles’s own stories and color. How would you describe the difference in the way Americans and the French enjoy wine? The French enjoy wine for anything — any reason to drink wine is a good one. We also choose the wine and the food to pair with each other. In many American restaurants, I am asked to choose the wine before we even look at the food menu. The most pricey wines are not necessarily the best, but Americans often are attracted to expensive wines. And finally, we in France like to drink very old wines, to take our time to open them and let them breathe before we drink them.
What are you drinking right now?
What are your favorite wines from Burgundy, and why? Beyond grand crus, I particularly love ChassagneMontrachet Premier Cru Morgeot Marquis de Laguiche and Clos des Mouches white and red by Joseph Drouhin, and Chambolle Musigny by Jacques-Frederic Mugnier. Frederic Magnien (Morey-Saint-Denis), Vincent Girardin (Meursault), Anne Gros (Vosnes-Romanée), and Henri Gouges are also my most frequent picks — I love their winemaking style, and their vineyard parcels, across the best climats of Burgundy, are truly unique. If you could serve your wines at any restaurants in the world, where would you choose and what would you pair them with? I would choose to stay in California — true to the essence of our wines, warmer in character. I would work with close chef friends like Roland Passot (La Folie, my favorite French restaurant in town) on a chicken leg or Guinea fowl, with morels or black truffle and crème fraiche to pair with our pinot noir 2013. And I’d work with Jiro Aung Lin (Hamano Sushi, formerly at Saison) to work on a pairing of an elaborate preparation of salmon or uni with our chardonnay 2015. Finish this sentence. “Wine should be …. “ ... enjoyed and shared with lovers or friends, in all circumstances, and even better if it can be adequately paired with food.
Turn the page for highlights of Battery Travel: Magical Burgundy by trip goer and Battery member Eileen Wu, with imagery crowdsourced from the group.
Burgundy is synonymous with divine wines and has been called a ground blessed by the gods.
Above: Justin Grover shares a taste of 2015 Vosne Romanée Premier Cru (Au-Dessus des Malconsorts) from Domaine Henri et Gilles Remoriquet with Laurence Mutricy. Right: Vineyards of the Côte de Nuits. Below: Anne-Laure Chartron represents the fifth generation at Domaine Jean Chartron, family owned since 1917. Chartron says some plants are more than 100 years old, and some walls date back to the 14th century.
Left: Alain and Laurence Mutricy overlooking the Romanée-Saint-Vivant vineyard with the grand cru vineyards of La Grand Rue and LaTache in the background. Below: “The Grand Cru.”The group visits the vineyards of Domaine de la RomanéeConti or DRC — the most revered name in Burgundian wine.
The top wines tasted on Battery Travel: Magical Burgudy per the palate of Alain Mutricy: Richebourg François Gros 1972 Clos Vougeot Domaine Gros 1947 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru Louis Jadot 2016 Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru “Clos des Chevaliers” Jean Chartron 2009 3-way tie: Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru Domaine Camus 2012;
WELCOME TO BATTERY TRAVEL
Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Les Vaucrains Henri Gouges 2015; and Beaune-Grèves Premier Cru de Chateau de Meursault 2015
Left: “This is a Richebourg François Gros 1972, something I never thought we would have the opportunity to taste.The winemaker generously pulled this special bottle from her personal cellar to share with us. It carried all of the mushroomy, moldy, earthy notes of Burgundy with a hint of forbidden fruit.” — ChristopheTassan,The Battery Wine Director Below:The private cellar and collection of the Camus family.The wine bottles are covered in mold, which is typical in underground Burgundy, as the water table is high to the ground.
Exper tly curated experiences built to change how you see the world.
Join us on these exciting adventures in 2 0 1 9 : F E B R UA R Y 7- 1 0 Pioneertown & Joshua Tree: Chef Series with Joshua McFadden
MARCH 24-30 Costa Rica: Ultimate Family Adventure
APRIL 14-20 Argentina: Wine Tasting with Maître Sommelier Christophe Tassan
99 Check out modernadventure.com/batterytravel to learn more!
Megan Gray Stromberg, General Manager Staff Spotlight By Jules Shell
My grandparents, who owned a restaurant, told their children not to go into the business. Did your parents feel the same way? Yes, initially — but now that I’m in it, we’ve had many fun occasions together in different hotels and restaurants and establishments around the world. What would your ideal dinner table look like? I love setting tables, and I think I inherited that love of china, glass, and silver from my grandmother Margie. She was always hosting these fabulous parties, and the table would always be fully set — napkins, tablecloths, candelabra, champagne glasses, everything. Sometimes people would try to sit at the table and say, “I can’t work at this table!” But the dining room table isn’t meant to do work, it’s meant to enjoy and have fun and celebrate life. Relatedly, I sometimes think about the difference between service and hospitality. Service is: Here’s your fork. Whereas hospitality is: I’m going to leave you with a lasting impression or a fond memory. What’s the best hotel you ever stayed at? The Peninsula, in Beijing, was amazing. It’s quite a James Bond, high-tech experience — but beyond that, the hospitality that we were shown was exquisite, from the Chinese breakfast to the pork buns. We felt such gratitude when we left. Photo courtesy of Marla Aufmuth.
The Battery’s brand-new General Manager, Megan Gray Stromberg, grew up in the Colorado ski town Breckenridge, where her family owned nine restaurants. She has a long and decorated history in the hospitality industry and we are thrilled to welcome her to San Francisco and The Battery! You can usually find her near the front desk or coffee bar, where she is eager to say hello.
What was it like growing up around nine familyowned restaurants? I would liken it to growing up in a snow globe — magical in some ways! Of course, there were also snow-related challenges — employees calling in sick with the powder flu, or wanting to ski and snowboard rather than come to work. Each of our restaurants was different. One is one of the oldest bars west of the Mississippi, one was a farm-to-table concept, another was at the base lodge of the mountain, so they all were unique.
Who inspires you most in the hospitality industry? The entrepreneurs who aren’t afraid to take risks and put their ideas and concepts out there. And also, the staff, the people who deliver service every day — they are the true champions of the hospitality industry. Do you have any female role models in the hospitality industry? Joy Sterling owns Iron Horse Vineyards, and she creates wines for celebrations as well as causes. She has a philanthropic heart — she’ll create wine for Pride, or for presidential elections. She’s not afraid to take risks and be controversial. She leaves a wake! But at the same
“I sometimes think about the difference between service and hospitality. Service is: Here’s your fork. Whereas hospitality is: I’m going to leave you with a lasting impression or a fond memory.” time, if you visit her property in Sonoma, she is so warm and hospitable! Her wines are delicate, but there’s this bounty of bubbles.They’re complex but delicious. I asked you about women because I want to touch on the note that hotel leadership positions are traditionally male. How does it feel to be the first female General Manager of The Battery? I am honored and filled with excitement and optimism! Managing in adversity allows you to explore uncharted territory within yourself.There aren’t secrets, there are recipes to success — and recipes only evolve and get better when you add your own ingredients to them. What’s your favorite dish on The Battery menu? The octopus — it’s really creative and well-composed. And then for breakfast, surprise... the avocado toast. What was your first impression of The Battery? It’s so inspired and artistic. When I first walked in, I felt almost like I was looking at a library and every person was a book. I was so curious. Everyone here has their own story, and as soon as I got here, I couldn’t wait to open the books up! What’s your advice for your 20-year-old self? Always take the trip — it will be worth it. Also, it’s okay to travel or sit at a bar by yourself — but always strike up a conversation!
CommuniTea at The Battery How about a Little Buzz with Your Brioche? By Jessica Carew Kraft
Photo courtesy of Marla Aufmuth.
Camellia sinensis, that well-loved and unassuming tea plant, has pepped up dull afternoons for at least 5,000 years. Global cultures have devised an astounding variety of tea preparations, and the social rituals that surround it are no less diverse. Tea has continued to shape-shift into the 21st century, becoming a favorite drink of millennials. At The Battery, which one could loosely call “British-inspired,” what could be more fitting than a reinvention of the high tea? In June,The Battery began offering tea service from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. In addition to a selection of teas from around the world, the menu includes tea treats in the style of California cuisine, sparkling wines, tea-infused cocktails, custom-made pastries, and — fittingly for a social club — curated topics of conversation. “The culture of the club is to bring individuals together for conversations,” says Megan Gray Stromberg,The Battery’s General Manager. “Through offering this Saturday tea service, CommuniTea, we
want to surprise and inspire our community to talk about unique topics. We’re putting our own spin on the tradition of tea.” The first event saw sixteen members discussing the topic of fashion and politics, many of them wearing striking pieces with overt messages. Victor Vargas, The Battery’s Food and Beverage Manager (whose remarkable wardrobe we profiled in Issue 1 of this magazine), says that the open invitation to Battery members to sit down and chat over tea is a powerful way to build connections. “The tea allows individuals who are curious about a certain topic to have a substantial conversation,” he notes, adding that the tea is also available for any kind of group gathering or celebration. “We are excited to have like-minded individuals get another opportunity to meet each other, and happy to have a daytime event that’s family friendly.” Future events include an afternoon discussion about photography, hosted by a Battery member
“We’re putting our own spin on the tradition of tea.” — Megan Gray Stromberg and photography curator at SFMOMA. Plans for a women’s empowerment tea, a cryptocurrency tea, and a “sustainabili-tea” about environmental living are also in the works. Stromberg says that the CommuniTea provides an opportunity for The Battery to build connections with local arts organizations, and she is inviting the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Ballet to participate. The teas are all from local teahouse Samovar, owned by Battery member Jesse Jacobs. Members will be able to get the black teas, white teas, and other herbal and pu-erh offerings that are usually available at the club, but there will also be new varieties to try. “Since tea is often a family outing, we have a Schizandra berry tea that is popular with kids and people who don’t want caffeine, a pineapple coconut tea, and a tart peach tea,” says Stromberg. A special variety of green tea called sweet Houjicha has a flavor of toasted walnuts, milk chocolate, and cookie dough. This high tea service includes a sampling of sweet bites, including bonbons, macarons, tarts, and cakes, but there is also a wide variety of savory snacks, catering to the membership’s preference for healthy dining and local foods. “The tea menu will evolve and reflect the seasonality that informs our other dining experiences,” according to Stromberg. The Battery’s finger sandwiches are anything but ordinary — examples include mango foie verrine and smoked salmon on Danish rye. And desserts by Pastry Chef Michael Tabatabai will make you think twice about skipping your sweets — you’ll experience caramel dark chocolate bonbons, matcha financiers, and grapefruit paté de fruit. For a little buzz with your brioche, we feature tea-focused cocktails and a selection of champagnes curated by Master Sommelier Christophe Tassan. Vargas, who has spearheaded the tea service, says they’re taking a lot of care with the menu and trying to incorporate the best of high tea tradition, “but we also want to have a playful vibe.” For instance, the tea service china is from Seletti, and it has been carefully selected to appeal to whimsy and to match some architectural motifs of The Battery.The tea towers resemble the structural beams used throughout the building, and the plates and cups are a combination of two different mismatched chinoiserie themes. “We think of them as uniquely unconventional, sort of like The Battery,” says Stromberg.
No Man’s Land Cocktail Pineapple coconut oolong tea adds a tropical and fruity touch, and its grassiness goes well with the agave. Strega, a saffron liqueur, gives the cocktail a nice roundness with a herbaceous hint. Servings: One Garnish: Orange peel Glass: Rocks
1.25 oz. Tequila Blanco 0.5 oz. Prickly Pear Liqueur 1 oz. Pineapple Coconut Oolong Tea Syrup 0.25 oz. Strega 4 dashes Angostura Bitters 0.5 oz. Lemon Juice
DIREC TIO NS
To make the pineapple coconut oolong tea syrup: Steep 150 g of Samovar’s Pineapple Coconut tea in 1 L of hot water for 20 minutes. Strain and add 250 mL of agave syrup to the tea. To make the cocktail: Add all the ingredients into a shaker. Shake and double strain into a rocks glass. Add ice and garnish with an orange peel. Cheers!
The Battery CommuniTea is available 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Please email email@example.com to book your reservation.
Excavating the Spirit of The Battery
California’s Creativity Applied to French Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre Wines
“We Shape Our Buildings, Thereafter They Shape Us” By Jessica Carew Kraft, Illustrated by Lindsay Stripling
By Jessica Carew Kraft, Photos by Marla Aufmuth
Everyone goes crazy for a cabernet or a pinot, says The Battery Wine Director Christophe Tassan.Yet if you’re just looking for an enjoyable but accessible wine, he suggests expanding your palate to include other varietals, which can often be half the price. “If you love cabernet sauvignon, a syrah is basically a similar structural format, pattern, and character. It’s a big juicy texture — velvety and rich,” he says. Those who prefer the delicate elegance of the pinot noir would likely also fancy a grenache. Often, these two grapes are mixed together with a third varietal, mourvèdre, which is traditionally used as a blending grape that adds tannins and a dark purple tinge. The wine world calls this combo GSM (grenache - syrah - mourvèdre), and though it originated in the Rhône Valley of France, it is becoming more and more common in California. GSM wines, which have been readily adopted in the New World, are rich, leathery, fullbodied, and characterized by dark fruit and spice flavors. The California GSM trend started out in Paso Robles with a group of producers along California’s Central Coast who called themselves “the Rhône Rangers.” They promoted GSM in the 1980s, making wines in the spirit of the southern Rhône Valley. “If you’re in Santa Barbara, these wines are very familiar,” according toTassan. “They’re made by very passionate people who grow these grapes for the purpose of making great wines that people can buy without breaking the bank.” Increasingly, these wines are produced in Sonoma, and in particular
in the Moon Mountain District, where The Battery’s vineyard is located. Tassan says the climate of Northern California is a comparable environment for these varietals: “The Santa Barbara area is more southern with lots of sunny exposure. But Moon Mountain District fruit has the benefit of cooler nights, which consolidates harmony and balance in the final wine. It is a little more vibrant and refreshing.” Phil Coturri is the Vineyard Manager for The Battery and a legendary grower who has been known for organic and biodynamic grape growing in Napa and Sonoma since the late 1960s. He was a key advocate for establishing the Moon Mountain District in 2013 and is now cultivating a large percentage of the vines in this unique terrain that features high elevation and shallow soils. Praising the conditions in the Moon Mountain District comes easily to him. “The elevation, the wind, air flow, and the exposure allow for natural frost protection. Lots of these vineyards can bask in the morning sun while the summer fog gently rolls in. It’s the perfect weather to get ripe syrah flavors,” Coturri says. And the district attracts small-scale operators, many of whom run family businesses. “You have authenticity and core value with these producers,” saysTassan. “You get the best you can without penny speculation — they just do it because they want to succeed in making tasty, affordable wine on that location.”
Tassan recommends the following grenache and syrah wines on the menu at The Battery:
Grenache Hamel Family Wines
Grenache Battery Crush
Syrah Kamen Estate Wines
Syrah Dos Limones Vineyard Sixteen 600 Winery
Most San Franciscans are familiar with the bawdy history of the neighborhood surrounding The Battery, which was once known as the Barbary Coast. Named by sailors who met murderers and thieves on the original African Barbary Coast, the district’s epicenter was a slum located along Broadway, adjacent to the current Battery site. Here, low-level criminals, convicts, and prostitutes boozed it up in dive bars, making scenes described by one contemporary as “constant lewdness, drunkenness, and strife” in which occupants were “ready to kill a man or fire a town.” Largely intimidated, the police rarely intervened to stop the law-breaking, which led to the formation of citizen vigilance committees that pursued and viciously punished criminals throughout the 1850s. The only women in the area were either saloon waitresses or prostitutes, and they were outnumbered by men 70 to 1, most of whom were in town because of the Gold Rush. Due to the Coast’s reputation, San Francisco was known as “the wickedest town in America” until the 1920s. But in the last 100 years, much has happened to change the public’s perception of our town, while much has been forgotten. The history of The Battery’s site might be most notably attached to the Barbary Coast era (and its decor is similarly inspired, from the antique figureheads on the wall in The House Bar to the diving helmet and sailing ship sign in The Library). But lurking below the foundation at 717 Battery is a rich cache of archaeological artifacts that stretches back millennia. Before the most recent renovation of the building in 2010, a full-scale excavation was performed by the Oakland-based archaeology consulting firm Archeo-Tec. Their discoveries tell the story of the San Francisco waterfront’s development way before and after the Gold Rush years, painting a picture of a place that for generations hosted lively diversity, abundant food and drink, and the fruits of creative enterprise. In ancient Rome, many homes and businesses were believed to have an ineffable spirit called a genius loci, a personification of the place. Sometimes people built shrines to those spirits and asked them for favors. What shrine might be built to the spirit of The Battery? What might the spirit look like, given the generations of humans who have lived and loved there? The famous Winston Churchill
quote, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us,” is presented beside The Battery’s front doors. What history shapes that building — and is shaping us today?
Wayback on Battery Street Two hundred years ago, the site at the intersection of Battery Street and Pacific Avenue was a shallow natural cove where Russian and European ships occasionally docked for resupply. It was the original settlement of Yerba Buena, the secular suburb of Mission Dolores, dating to the end of the 17th century. Thousands of years ago, the nomadic Ohlone people fished and gathered there, leaving oyster shell mounds to honor their ancestors. The natural history of the site is also abundant. When water covered the area, it teemed with codfish and crab that attracted a rotating cast of diners, including grizzlies, wolves, bald eagles, wild turkeys, herons, and great-horned owls. Barnacles dotted the rocky shore, as did mussels and oysters. The first business on the site was founded by Alpheus Basil Thompson, a hide trader from New England who arrived in 1825 after spending time trading in China. His butchery and hide house served sailors who came ashore to stock up on salted meat and hides at Thompson’s Cove. Archaeologists found a cattle brand resembling a T, which Thompson may have used on cattle intended for his operations. And they dug up the stairs that once led down to Thompson’s Wharf underneath The Battery’s gym — apparently those stairs were the first piece of European architecture in San Francisco! Yerba Buena slowly grew throughout the 1830s and ‘40s, with Mexicans, Europeans, and Pacific Islanders populating the flat areas abutting Telegraph Hill. General Vallejo and his troops came to shore at this spot during the 1846 American seizure of California from Mexico, and two years later, the Gold Rush introduced a massive influx of new settlers, transforming the village into an instant city of 25,000 by 1849. New buildings shot up as demand for commercial activities increased. Sturdy redwood docks were built and lined with merchants hawking all kinds of goods. As crews abandoned their ships in pursuit of gold, their vessels were seized and
Syrah Chez Villa Casa
converted into warehouses, stores, restaurants, and hotels in the cove. The need for housing was so great that squatters camped on a small corner of dry land near Thompson’s Hide House — making them the first true guests at 717 Battery! The frenzy of waterfront activity and the quick disembarkation of gold diggers meant that sometimes merchandise was discarded en masse into the Bay. Amid decaying redwood pier piles and earthquake rubble, the archaeological team found a cache of nine unused cast iron frying pans and a barrel packed with bottles of beer, untouched. In 1850, a new wharf east of The Battery’s site was built and a great infilling project began. The city spread east over the water, laying a grid of urban development on top of piles of dune sand, refuse, and tons of rock blasted from Telegraph Hill. Many ships from that era are now buried under the sidewalks, some noted in sidewalk plaques that you can see while walking through the area today.
From Terrifying to Terrific Street Although the geologic record reveals an orderly restructuring of the site, the cultural record is far more chaotic and salacious. From the early Gold Rush era on, the neighborhood was characterized by the unsavory activities that result when single men arrive in a boomtown without any family attachments. Perhaps as punishment for the transgressions of the Barbary Coast era, the streets were decimated by a series of arson fires in the late 19th century that left layers of soot and debris, later uncovered by archaeologists. By the 1870s, more respectable businesses sprang up in the area, and by the early 20th century, many wealthy patrons had funded a renovation and conversion of the establishments into dance halls and jazz entertainment spots, rechristening the ’hood “Terrific Street.”
Due to the Coast’s reputation, San Francisco was known as “the wickedest town in America” until the 1920s.
Paying Homage to Early Entrepreneurs Sanborn maps are named for Daniel Alfred Sanborn, a civil engineer and surveyor who started making fire insurance maps in the 1800s; those detailed maps would ultimately become invaluable historical records. A Sanborn map from the time of “Terrific Street” shows an Italian macaroni factory, a Chinese laundry, a bocce ball court, and the Musto marble saw and factory at the 717 Battery location. Named for its founder Giuseppe Musto, an Italian-born stone cutter and tile setter, the Musto factory’s two-story building burned down during the famous 1906 earthquake and fire. In 1907, Musto had it rebuilt by the first city architect, William Mooser, Jr., who also designed the National Maritime Museum on Beach Street. Musto classed up the venue, removing the noisy, dangerous marble saw and the factory operations, and leased the bottom arcade to luxury goods shops. Over the 20th century, the building became a candy manufacturer and a crating business before desk-bound office workers took over in 1969. From shell deposits to tallow tanks to marble chunks and chocolate bonbons, the Battery building has been a depository of material culture shaped by the prevailing zeitgeist. During the excavation of the building site, Archeo-Tec spent months digging sample trenches in the basement and courtyard of the Musto Building, ultimately unearthing 65,000 artifacts, including fish bones, tortoise shells, glass shards, leather boots, lumber scraps, and mercury-laden sedimentation that was a byproduct of gold mining. This collection from Thompson’s Cove will be held in perpetuity at the David A. Fredrickson Archaeological Collections Facility at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park. But the genius loci — that ineffable spirit of the place — will remain at The Battery. So when you’re sitting in The Musto Bar, raise your glass to old Alpheus Basil Thompson and marble man Giuseppe, the site’s original entrepreneurs. Think of the nights of debauchery and skullduggery that left unfortunate men relieved of all their assets after a single night of flirtation. And think even farther back, to when half the site sat under water at high tide. Now you, too, are part of this rich history. Bottoms up!
If These Walls Could Talk
Questions about The Battery’s Design with Ken Fulk By Mikhail Birch, Photos by Marla Aufmuth
Ken Fulk, the designer and Creative Director of The Battery, is a master storyteller. And his stories take shape in every interior design element in the club. From the blue-black “Moby Dick” paint color on the walls of The Library, which he chose in honor of the Barbary Coast’s seafaring history, to the second-floor water closets, each decorated as one of the seven deadly sins, everything in The Battery has a story to tell. We highlighted The Secret Passage and The Library’s avian chandelier in Issue 1; in Issue 2, we told the stories behind the downstairs Men’s Powder Room and the figureheads in The House Bar; in Issue 3, we talked about The Penthouse, the hotel rooms, and the Mob-inspired “High Fashion Crime Scene” photos in The Living Room. Now it’s time for...
Tell us about how the glass elevator came together. The glass elevator was Michael Birch’s idea. We added the elevator to the original building, and we wanted it to feel modern and obviously different. It’s a kind of companion to the glass and steel staircase that slices through the building. You may not notice, but the elevator’s floor goes from opaque to clear when the elevator is descending. This was meant to be a cool, slightly scary effect, as if the floor had dropped out from beneath you — you can suddenly see the mechanisms and the elevator shaft below. Sadly, I think too many people are mesmerized by the view of the gardens and the Transamerica building to notice! Also, the glass elevator has the ability to be almost any color. Originally it was stuck on an awful green fluorescent shade that made everyone look ill. Thankfully, we fixed that. The main lesson we learned in building the elevator was: never build an elevator from scratch. It’s great to outfit one and make it feel custom made, but when you start from scratch, it takes forever to get it approved. It took four months for our elevator to be certified. If you are an early Battery member, you will recall using the freight elevator for nearly the entire first year. But it’s a unique piece. I doubt there are any others of its kind in San Francisco.
The History of the Seven Deadly Sins By Natalie Ruxton
(Editor’s Note: Check out the Back Page for more about The Battery’s glass elevator, and the history of glass elevators in general!)
What inspired you to decorate the second-floor bathrooms with the Seven Deadly Sins? Frankly, these were an accident. We found these wonderful etchings at the Paris Flea Market in Livermore, and it was sort of an aha moment. People love them! I often hear members pointing them out to guests. Without a doubt, the Lust bathroom seems to be the most popular. It’s always occupied when I’m there.
The Battery’s upstairs bathroom provides a set of provocative choices. On each of the seven stall doors hangs a unique print depicting one of the seven deadly sins. Battery interior designer Ken Fulk may have stumbled upon the signs randomly at a local flea market, but behind the artwork is a flaming history of drama and damnation. According to a fourth-century religious text known as the Eight Logismoi, written by the influential theologian Evagrius Ponticus, the idea of seven sins originated with the Desert Fathers, early Christian hermits and monks who lived in the Egyptian desert during the third century.The Desert Fathers are known for their major impact on the development of early Christianity and their intense isolation as they sought liberation from all corruption and temptation. It wasn’t until Saint John Cassian, a pupil of the monks, carried the idea of the sins over to the Western world that the seven sins gained major influence with the Roman Catholic church and Pope Gregory I in the early seventh century. This was when the word deadly came in: the
church warned those who were tempted by the evil sins that their future would be eternal punishment in hell. Though we no longer treat gluttonous indulgence and romantic lust as death sentences, we still see the seven sins’ influence in popular culture, literature, and artwork. They’ve appeared in works such as The Canterbury Tales and Dante’s Inferno, and more recently they inspired the Disney classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and theTV show Gilligan’s Island. Turning away from the devil, inferno, and popes and back to a reality of porcelain thrones, next time you have to choose between Gluttony or Lust, Sloth or Envy, remind yourself of the gothic message. Which is the lesser of all evils to you?
Curious about The Battery’s uniquely designed spaces? Ken Fulk, who designed the space, is always happy to answer burning design questions. Be in touch at candy@thebatterysf. com, and we'll see if there’s a good story to print in the next issue!
The Suggestion Box Yes, We’re Listening! By Jules Shell and Mikhail Birch
You might have seen The Battery’s Suggestion Box on the way to the Gym & Spa and first-floor restrooms. “The Suggestion Box” comes from the collaborative Illegal Art (co-founded by Michael McDevitt and our friend Otis Kriegel), which creates participatory public art to inspire self-reflection and human connection. Originally, the box was available in open spaces like public parks. So when people put suggestions in the box, they were suggestions like, "Love each other or perish," or "Take breath mints when offered!" In the last issue of this magazine, we asked for your suggestions for the club and its community, and we also invited your thoughts on life, love, and beyond. And you delivered! From “Love more” to “Street tacos,” we’re showcasing some of our favorite Battery suggestions here.
We’d love your continued suggestions – for The Battery or the world. Ask the Front Desk where to find our Suggestion Box.
Charlie and the Great Glass Battery Elevator By Natalie Ruxton
Photo courtesy of Marla Aufmuth.
Any clichéd motivational speaker could say there is no elevator to success, only stairs. Maybe not this time. The Battery’s glass elevator is groundbreaking in all aspects. Though it does not go sideways and slantways like Willy Wonka’s magical glass elevator, Charlie Bucket would approve of its cutting-edge architectural design and striking views. The Battery’s elevator was originally the brainchild of Michael Birch, one of The Battery’s CoFounders. The Battery’s Creative Director Ken Fulk loved the idea and wanted to run with it, but it was technically challenging to implement. They worked with Forge, an architectural and interior design practice owned by Battery member Eric Ibsen, to bring the elevator into reality. We spoke with Greg Sheppard of Forge to learn more about how one builds a glass elevator. Sheppard tells us that the glass elevator was such an ambitious project, one of the manufacturers they tried to work with said it would never happen. In fact, the team had to hire an actual elevator consultant. They ultimately built it at a facility in
Finland that specializes in custom elevators, and then it was shipped to the U.S., glass included. “We think it’s the first glass floor in the U.S.,” says Sheppard. “Apple has a glass elevator, but unlike ours, it has an opaque floor. In fact, a lot of The Battery’s elements are custom — not just the elevator, but also things like the glass staircase between the first and second floors, and the stainless steel columns in The Penthouse. The elevator is one of my favorite things I’ve gotten to work on. Usually, our work is about efficiency, but the glass elevator was less about efficiency and more about what would be interesting.” Aside from their spectacular views and graceful motion, glass elevators are structurally very unique. Unlike most elevators, which run on cables, motors, and gear, the majority of glass elevators rely on air pressure and pumps. Another appropriate addon: glass elevators are more eco-friendly, as they require less artificial lighting and are longer-lasting and quieter. Riders don’t have to rely on soft jazz to reduce the inescapable awkwardness of staring at a blank wall and avoiding eye contact; glass elevators turn the awkward energy outwards, as you and your fellow traveler can observe the pleasant scenery and make friendly conversation about the breathtaking design. British author Roald Dahl, known for books like James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, dedicated Factory’s entire sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, to this architectural wonder. It turns out that after Charlie wins the contest to get into Willy Wonka’s famed chocolate factory, Willy Wonka and the Bucket families’ first stop is not the factory, but outer space — which is reached via elevator. Dahl’s more mature and rather controversial sequel was published in 1972, right around the time of the Watergate scandal, the Cold War, and the development of the first U.S. space shuttle program. So it is not surprising that Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator took place in space and includes the Russians, the space race, and an interestingly depicted White House. Although the story was banned in a number of American public libraries, Roald Dahl did a fantastic job in capturing the adventurous, childish glee of traveling in a glass elevator. So next time you’re visiting The Battery, take this as a rare, once-in-a-lifetime suggestion to please, not take the stairs.