The fully armed Russian warship Varyag left San Francisco earlier this morning. The warship was the first Russian surface warship to visit San Francisco in 147 years and was sent here in the “spirit of friendship,” according to Russian Rear Admiral Vladimir Kastonov.

The warship’s visit coincided with Russian President Dmitry Medvedv’s visit this past week to Silicon Valley where he met with a number of technology companies and executives.

Ships like the Varyag are known as “the killer of aircraft carriers” as they can launch very large explosives or tactical nuclear warheads up to 300 miles away. The ship has sixteen distinctive missiles in four pairs on both sides of the ship.

Victoria Kolakowski, The Unethical Choice for Alameda County Superior Court Judge, Tries to Argue That California Campaigns Can Hire Out of State Telemarketers to Do Illegal Robodialing

Vote No for Victoria Kolakowski(b) No person shall operate an automatic dialing-announcing device except in accordance with this article. The use of such a device by any person, either individually or acting as an officer, agent, or employee of a person or corporation operating automatic dialing-announcing devices, is subject to this article.

(a) Whenever telephone calls are placed through the use of an automatic dialing-announcing device, the device may be operated only after an unrecorded, natural voice announcement has been made to the person called by the person calling. The announcement shall do all of the following:

(1) State the nature of the call and the name, address, and telephone number of the business or organization being represented, if any.

(2) Inquire as to whether the person called consents to hear the prerecorded message of the person calling.


For the past few weeks I’ve been reporting on Alameda Superior Court Candidate Victoria Kolakowski’s illegal robodialing she is currently using as part of her unethical campaign for Alameda Superior Court Judge.

Kolakowski interrupted my son’s baseball game a few Sunday’s back when she illegally robodialed my cell phone with this recorded message by Oakland City Attorney John Russo.

Currently the California PUC (where Kolakowski is a sitting law judge sworn to uphold the law) regulates robodialing in the state of California. As you can see from the California code above, robodialing people in the State of California is explicitly illegal unless first introduced by an unrecored “natural voice announcement” asking if you will allow it. The fact that Kolakowski is a sitting law judge at the very agency that regulates illegal robodials (while using them herself) is troubling to me. Does Kolakowski think that she is above the law? And is this the sort of person we’d want as a Superior Court Judge?

Last week KCBS reported on Kolakowski’s illegal robodialing here.

Apparently the Kolakowski campaign has gotten back to KCBS claiming that “one interpretation of the law” is that her robodials are not “technically” illegal because she hired someone to make the calls from outside of the State of California. From KCBS’s update:

“Kolakowski says her calls, that feature the Oakland city attorney promoting her local candidacy, are being placed from outside California and thus outside CPUC jurisdiction. Under one interpretation of the law, that would make them legal.”

So let me see if I get this straight. Even though robocalls are *explicitly* illegal in the State of California, a law judge at the California PUC (the very agency that is charged with enforcing this law) thinks that it’s ok to hire some political hack to make illegal calls from outside of the state into the state?

So then under this logic all *any* company has to do to illegal robodial people in California is simply have the calls originate from out of state? So any California insurance company or bank or telemarketing scam selling auto warranties or carpet cleaning company or mattresses company or whatever, can just hire some company to start blasting millions of robodials into California homes and this is hunky dory? How fast do you think the California PUC would shut down an auto warranty scam from Arkansas targeting California seniors with illegal robodials?

The California Code to me is clear that not only can California businesses or corporations or campaigns not make illegal robodials, that agents on their behalf also cannot.

If *anyone* can simply pay to have their calls done from another state, this means that the California law does absolutely *nothing* to protect our privacy from these unwanted intrusions into our lives and homes. Under Kolakowski’s interpretation, our law has no teeth.

California businesses (including campaigns) should be subject to California law.

The fact that a current law judge at the PUC would try to twist the law this way is enormously offensive to me. But I suppose that’s just politics as usual. Politicians get to cheat and get away with it.

Even if one could argue this case on a technicality, the spirit of the California law is clear. It was enacted to protect Californians from these unwanted calls. I’m disappointed that Kolakowski would stoop to this low level and hope that you will join me in voting against her in the upcoming race for Alameda Superior Court judge. Our public servants should obey both the letter and the spirit of the law.

Update: On Slashdot here.

Mid-Century By The Bay, by Heather M. David

Mid-Century By the Bay, by Heather M David

Heather M. David’s remarkable new book, Mid-Century By The Bay, is a wonderful journey through the cultural and physical landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area circa 1950-1970. David’s first book, the 151 page effort is chock full of unique Bay Area architecture, attractions, and culture. She does a wonderful job of capturing a period of post war optimism when anything seemed possible and San Francisco and the surrounding area was set to full throttle, full speed ahead.

Mid-Century by the Bay spends many of its pages especially focusing on and celebrating the beautiful Googie architecture that was so prevalent in the 50s and 60s — homes by Branden, Bohannon, Eichler, Kaiser and Mackay, Bay Area schools and churches, shopping centers, new modern offices, distribution centers and banks. David, a Bay Area native, has compiled some wonderful photography from our past showcasing so many of these great structures that so vividly expressed the decades. Some of these structures persist today, even while so many have disappeared and are no longer with us.

More than just architecture though, David’s book is an impressive collection of ephemera that really digs into the culture of the time. Brightly colored matchbooks from bowling alleys that once were so common, postcards, maps, souvenirs, her book is full of these momentos that so strongly invoke nostalgia for a different day.

The book covers so many interesting and unique locations: the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Santa’s Village, Tahoe, wine country, the wonderful neon signs of the Bay Area, Frontier Village, Storyland, Playland by the Beach — one after another the book provides both photos and write ups on so many wonderful bygone places.

In addition to this book, David also maintains a flickr account with many remarkable mid-century images here. You can also find her site SV Modern (celebrating Silicon Valley’s Mid-Century Past) here.

David’s book is $40 and can be purchased here. If you’d like to see a sampler of some of the pages inside the book, she has one up on her Flickrstream here. Her book is a labor of love independently produced and represents the best of what is possible with self-publishing these days. If you are a fan of the Bay Area’s history, or a student of the 50s and 60s more generally speaking, you won’t want to miss this wonderful record. Buying a copy of this great publication for you or as a gift for an interested friend is a great way to help support this sort of independent research and publication.

Victoria Kolakowski, Candidate for Alameda Superior Court Judge, Censors Comments Questioning Her Illegal Activity

Vote No for Victoria KolakowskiA little over a week ago I blogged a post about Victoria Kolakowski, a candidate for Alameda County Superior Court Judge here where I live. I was annoyed after having received an unwanted robodial from her campaign on a Sunday afternoon on my cell phone in the middle of my son’s baseball game. I hate robocalls in general and thought I’d use my free speech rights on my blog, Twitter account, Facebook account, etc. to express my dissatisfaction at having received this impersonal and unwanted solicitation from her.

Nobody likes getting robocalls. It’s annoying to pick up your phone to be blasted by some recording trying to get you to buy something or vote for someone, or whatever impersonal thing they are trying to get you to do. I’m not sure why politicians use them. They turn people off, make them angry and provide no value.

While researching robodialing in general I learned that in California at least that robodialing is actually illegal. So I posted another blog post about the illegality of Kolakowski’s calls and posted my concern about this illegality on her Facebook campaign page.

So how does Kolakowski respond? Rather than addressing the illegality of her campaign’s actions she blocks me on her facebook campaign page and censors my comments asking her to explain her illegal actions. What’s more, she not only blocked and censored me, she also killed other comments by other people as well who were also questioning her ethics and illegal campaigning.

So rather than address why she as a sitting law judge, sworn to uphold the law, knowingly breaks the law — and interestingly enough, she is presently a law judge at the California PUC, the *exact* same agency that issued this bulletin about robodials being illegal in California — she instead chooses to try to simply censor the allegations to make them go away. This is not right. Kolakowski should provide an explanation as to why she feels her robodials are not illegal if this is in fact how she feels, or she should apologize for using illegal robodials and pledge not to use them in the future. But trying to censor those who are trying to hold her accountable for her shady campaign tactics will only backfire.

I also contacted Oakland City Attorney John Russo’s office. Russo was the person whose voice and name were used on the robodial asking for a response from him. In Russo’s case, I at least received a reply back from his communications director telling me that they were looking into the matter and would get back to me. That’s certainly better than the censorship and no response that I got back from Kolakowski.

Is Victoria Kolakowski, Candidate for Alameda County Superior Court Judge, Violating California State Law?

Vote No for Victoria KolakowskiLast Sunday (as previously blogged) I was disappointed after having my son’s baseball game interrupted by an annoying impersonal robocall from Victoria Kolakowski’s Superior Court Judge campaign. I’ve sort of been going at it with Vicky on my blog and on her Facebook page over the past week on what I feel is unethical campaigning on her part.

Earlier today I was made aware that the robo calls that she has been making are very likely in fact illegal according to California State law (thanks to EndTheRoboCalls for the information on this illegality). Certainly someone who is currently a judge and running for another more serious judge position ought to obey California State law. Our judges are elected to know, enforce and most certainly abide by state law themselves.

To make matter worse, Kolakowski’s current position as a law judge is actually with the California PUC, the very agency that documents the illegality of the robo dials she is making.

I just fired off the following email to the three candidates currently running for Superior Court Judge in Alameda County.

Gentlemen and Vicky:

I was recently made aware that robocalls are illegal in the state of California per the California code.

Here is the relevant section of the code.

Here is a document by the California PUC documenting that robocalls by political candidates are in fact illegal according to California State law:

Here is also an article from the San Jose Mercury News discussing the illegality of these calls:

In fact, just last week, the Santa Clara District Attorney settled for $900,000 with one such company who was illegally using robocalls.

Last Sunday I received one of these illegal calls from Victoria Kolakowski’s campaign, on a Sunday during the middle of my son’s baseball game on my cell phone at that. I have saved a recording of the call if any of you would like a copy. Vicky has acknowledged that such a call was made both on my blog as well as on her Facebook page.

Question. Why would someone running for judge violate California State law? Shouldn’t a judge, who is given tremendous legal responsibility in our society, know, abide and uphold the law?

Update: I sent off an email earlier this morning to Oakland City Attorney John Russo. City Attorney Russo was the person whose voice was used for the illegal robodial by Kolakowski’s campaign. Certainly someone who is City Attorney of Oakland and sworn to uphold the law should not be participating in this illegal activity by Kolakowski. If you’d like to hear his message you can hear it here: Illegal Robodial By Victoria Kolakowski’s Campaign

I will update this post with Russo’s position when I hear back from him.

Victoria Kolakowski, The Unethical Choice for Alameda Superior Court Judge, Vote No on Kolakowski

Vote No for Victoria KolakowskiJust had my son’s baseball game interrupted due to plea for help by Victoria Kolakowski, apparently she’s running for Judge in Alameda County and she just lost my vote for sure.

1. I expect that when I put my phone number on the do not call list that politicians respect that. (Yes, I know that those crafty bastard politicians are legally exempt from the do not call list, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t abide by it voluntarily).

2. To show so little respect for me, my time, my wishes tells me that a candidate has no interest in the things that are important to me. They have no interest in representing me.

3. It’s even worse when they don’t even have the decency to have a real person call you, instead using a robo dialer and recorded message.

4. On my cell phone.

5. On a Sunday during my son’s baseball game (while he was batting actually).

Join me and thousands of other Alameda County residents in voting “No” on Victoria Kolakowski. Together we can take back our right to not have intrusive unwanted phone spam.

Update: Vicky Kowlakowski responds on Facebook:

“I am sorry that you were inconvenienced. I was told that the phone numbers were obtained from the voter files from the county. Those are public records with information provided by the voters on their voter registration forms. As you know (you mention it on your blog link), the Do Not Call list does not apply to political calls, and it appears that you listed your cell phone as your contact number with the county, which is why you were called at that number. I apologize for the interruption of your time with your family – that was never my intention, and the timing was contrary to my instructions.”

Blek le Rat & Above, White Walls Gallery

So Close I Can Almost Touch You BabyFamily ManSo Close I Can Almost Touch You Baby, Plate 2

Blek le Rat & Above
May 1 – June 5, 2010

White Walls Gallery
839 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA
Open Tues – Sat 12PM – 7PM

“Every time I think I’ve painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek Le Rat has done it as well, only twenty years earlier.”

“My stencils are a present, introducing people to the world of art, loaded with a political message. This movement is the democratisation of art: if the people cannot come to the gallery, we bring the gallery to the people!”
Blek le Rat

Back before there was Banksy, there was Blek le Rat. One of the earliest urban street artists, Blek le Rat is considered the godfather of stencil graffiti. The first artist to produce life sized stencils, Blek has been decorating the streets of Paris and the rest of the world for over two decades.

Fortunately for us here in San Francisco, Blek is currently showing his work at the White Walls Gallery on Larkin Street. I stopped by White Walls to check out his work and was impressed with a gallery full of interesting and politically provocative images.

Sharing a show with Blek is Above, a younger version of Blek, doing his own stencils in his own unique new way. Above started traditional graffiti of tagging freight trains in California in 1995 and then moved to Paris at the age of 19 where he started painting his trademark arrow (pointing above) all around the city. Since then Above has been consistently traveling around the world doing many large self-financed “tours” with each tour exploring a new medium or style of artworks.

Are You Still Coming Over LaterPlay That Funky Music Blek Boy

Dan Plasma

Dan Plasma

I spent some time Tuesday afternoon hanging out with Dan Plasma. I first ran into Dan a few years back when he was painting a piece on a wall on Valencia Street in the Mission.

Dan’s been painting around SF for a while and yesterday did this killer Francis Baconish piece on the side of this great box UHaul truck.

While Dan was painting, a brown UPS truck drove by and the driver kind of gave us the eye. I think it was an interesting contrast. Every day I see so many Fedex and UPS trucks running up and down the streets of San Francisco. Shouting their corporate message at us every chance they get.

And then we have artists like Dan and others out there painting their own message back on the side of construction trucks, delivery trucks, trucks full of recycled cardboard that live in Chinatown or Oakland or run around delivering vegetables in the Mission District. And these trucks, I believe, are sent to us to counteract those Fed Ex and UPS trucks. To provide an authentic and artistic voice to balance out the increasing encroachment on our public space by big corporations.

I remember a few years back when I was speeding down 101 and all of a sudden I noticed this great truck in front of me painted by ORFN. It made me happy to see that truck out on the road. To see public art shared with the world. It made me happy watching Dan work yesterday and being there to document his new work and knowing that thousands of people will see it as it rolls around the streets of San Francisco in the months ahead.

5733, by Eddie

fiftyseven-thirtythree store Grand opening from Fiftyseven-thirtythree on Vimeo.

4125 Piedmont Ave, 2nd Floor
Oakland, CA

We make all our gear in East Oakland using water based, solvent free inks. No art directors, consultants, or teleconferencing were used in the production process. We hope it makes you look good, feel good, get laid…whatever makes you happy. Cheers. – 5733 Facebook page.

On Saturday May 1, I had the opportunity to attend the Grand Opening party of 5733 on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland, CA (that’s me in the moving pictures video above shooting SF sex blogger Violet Blue and Pal Ben Metcalfe).

5733, with the tagline “made in Oakland,” is the latest venture by local graffiti artist Eddie and features a number of his new stencil pieces on display as well as a store where some of his art and t-shirts can be purchased. The evening featured music by TBBS and Lankston and was a great event to support one on of the top local artists currently doing work in the Bay Area.

If You Want to Achieve Greatness Stop Asking for PermissionHow Did I Lose You

I first started noticing Eddie’s work on the street back during the campaign for the presidential election in 2008. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but the interesting Obamas in starter caps were actually his. Since then Eddie continues to put up fresh new innovative pieces around town combining political themes with his own artistic sensibility. Eddie told me that he’s also got a few up and coming new commissions going up around town as well, which is great.

If you missed the opening, it’s not too late to stop by 5733 and check out some of Eddie’s great new works (tip: definitely visit the dressing room, some of my favorites are in there) as well as pick up some up some great new threads supporting one of the Bay Area’s great local artists. 5733 is open Tuesday – Saturday noon-6pm.

Eddie Makes the World a More Beautiful Place to Live InThey Say I Lost My Way5733 Opening, 2010In Over My Head, Plate 2The Officer in Command

5733 Blog here.
5733 on Facebook here.
Eddie on Flickr
My Eddie set on Flickr here.