Friday, August 16, 2013

Neonopolis Rising

The much maligned and massive Neonopolis retail space in the middle of The Fremont Street Experience has been a nightmarish Bermuda Triangle of failed restaurant and retail concepts since it was first built over eleven years ago. An 11 screen multiplex, a Jillian's Bar & Arcade, and The Las Vegas Rocks Cafe are just a few examples of the shuttered businesses that couldn't hack it in the three story Downtown mall. Sadder still was the fact that a lot of the storefronts were never filled in the first place.

Big hype and hoopla surrounded Neonopolis when it first opened up, promising to anchor the kind of Downtown renaissance that Tony Hseih and his merry band of gentrifying hipster techies are successfully bringing to the neighborhood these days, but the mall failed to attract tourists away from The Strip or bring any locals around. Poor planning (installing an air conditioning inside a movie theater located in the middle of the desert seems like a no brainer, but apparently the owners of the multiplex had less than no brains) and high rents killed the place before dreams of a thriving Downtown Vegas mall could ever come true, and Neonopolis became a haunted and empty ghost-town in the middle of Fremont Street, a brightly colored embarrassment and missed opportunity that was a frequent punchline for Vegas press and bloggers alike.

But this is Las Vegas, the most American of American cities, and this country is known for its comebacks and second-acts. After over a decade as the tumbleweed infected, Las Vegas version of the early days of Euro-Disney, Neonopolis has turned a corner. The owners of the popular Krave gay club on The Strip built Drink and Drag, a fun bowling alley staffed by drag queens that's become a hit, and they're about to open Krave Massive (which promises to be the biggest gay club on the planet) in the space once occupied by the movie theater.

Attracting a slightly different demographic isThe Heart Attack Grill, a defiantly unhealthy burger and shake joint that boasts about its high calorie, blood pressure heightening offerings (fries cooked in pure lard and cigarettes are among the few menu items), is staffed by waitresses dressed as sexy nurses, offers free food to patrons who weigh over 350 pounds, and has made national news multiple times due to guests experiencing actual heart attacks at or in front of the restaurant... which has only added to the place's mystique and made it an extremely popular attraction for tourists from all over the country. One of the largest Denny's on the planet, complete with its own wedding chapel, has thrived in the mall as well.

Inspired by the innovative and unique businesses (and the Denny's) thriving in the mall, entrepreneurs are rolling the dice and opening their own new places and breathing new life into a retail behemoth that was once written off as DOA. The large Supernova Comics fills in a gap for an under-served demographic of geeks in the area, which is a genuinely smart move considering the number of tech-heads moving into the neighborhood. Plus the awesome starship command center design of the checkout desk makes the place standout from standard comic book stores, which will bring in the curious out of towner geeks. Just a few doors down is Evapor8, which is taking advantage of the exploding E-Cigarette trend and already bringing in plenty of customers.

Most exciting is the upcoming opening of Banger Brewing, the brainchild of local beer geeks and home brewers, who plan to open up shop in October. The brewers have already concocted a few innovative suds that will be available on the day the place opens, including their much hyped Jalapeno Hefeweizen, Watermelon Wheat, and Chocolate Mint Stout, as well as their own spins on classics like their IPA, Pale Ale, and Blonde. The brewery will be able to seat 80 and could become a staple for tourists thirsty for a locally brewed craft pint and locals looking for a growler fill. I'm certainly looking forward to toasting over a cold one when I visit Las Vegas in the fall.

Neonopolis was once a punchline, but Las Vegas, with its history of old performers making big comebacks on its stages and folks hitting jackpots in their casinos, is no stranger to miraculous comebacks and out of nowhere turnarounds. Just like Euro-Disney, which shook off the the bad-press and low attendance of its early days by adding in alcohol and re-christening itself as Disneyland Paris to become the most popular tourist attraction in Europe, Neonopolis has found new life with smart and innovative local businesses occupying its once empty spaces.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Velveteen Rabbit Open For Business, As Awesome As Everyone Hoped...

I've already professed my excitement for The Velveteen Rabbit bar in Downtown Las Vegas, in a post in which I detailed the struggles of locally raised sisters Pam and Christina Dylag to get the place on its feet. I'm happy to report that, after many delays, the crushable sister duo have opened the doors to their dream business... and it's as awesome (and already successful) as everyone hoped it would be.

I've written about many, many watering holes in Downtown that will appeal to the artsy/ hipster crowd, but the Velveteen Rabbit has them all beat. This is the place you'll want to take that cute art school girl if you finally want to make out with her. You'll be hit by the whimsical design of the place the moment you enter, which includes details like plush mismatched furniture, purposely broken mirrors, funky and colorful murals, local art, cute little sculptures located all over the place, and a wall that was burned in a fire that took place in the space years ago and left up as a design element created by nature. Many of the seats are arranged in private nooks so that patrons can have more intimate conversations (or canoodle with cute art school girls) and the well chosen music is played at levels you won't have to shout over.

The whimsically named cocktails are adventurous and creative, and made with the freshest fruits and herbs as well as top-shelf liquors. The craft beer selection, listed on a chalk board, is excellent and constantly rotating. Like everything else in the place, even the beer taps have a fun element as the bar tenders pull down sculpted hands to pour your suds. I enjoyed a reasonably priced Ballast Point Sculpin that you can only get cheaper at the brewery in San Diego, but they also had a wide variety of options for people who don't like bitter IPAs as much as I do. The Dylag sisters can often be found behind the bar mixing the drinks themselves (and adding rabbit shapes into the foam), so take the opportunity to congratulate them on a job well done (and try your hand at getting their phone numbers, though good luck with that!).

I could say more about the place, but I've already written that long post about the vision, hopes, and dreams of getting the place opened, but like a fairy tale come to life (or the versions we're used to now because the original Hans Christen Anderson and Brothers Grimm fairy tales were actually quite dark and upsetting), The Velveteen Rabbit has found its happy ending.

Now all that's left to say is... just get in there and get drinkin'!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Las Vegas Gets Brooklynier With Planned Public Park at New York New York

Last month, MGM resorts announced ambitious plans to build a new 20,000 seat arena that would become the largest entertainment venue in the city (in collaboration with monolithic live event superpower AEG) which will open behind New York New York and the Monte Carlo next year. Part of the $100 million plan also includes a public green space inspired by Manhattan's Madison Square Park featuring an outdoor shopping promenade, shade trees, and benches, connecting the two resorts... which is the part that interests and vexes me the most about this announcement.

In one sense, it's nice to see that Las Vegas moguls embracing the green space movement and encouraging their visitors to step outside of their casinos, after years of designing resorts with florescent lighting and no clocks on the walls, meant to keep patrons lose all sense of time and continue gambling away their hard-earned paychecks. But that old philosophy has changed over time, with casinos like The Aria at CityCenter boasting large windows that let natural light spill in from the outside. And now the bigwigs at MGM Resorts are actually inviting guests to step fully out into the sun with their new attraction.

The new park area will create big changes to the facades of both New York New York and Monte Carlo, with green areas set up for people to hang out. But this being Las Vegas, the area will also feature plenty of stores and restaurants where visitors can spend their hard-earned paychecks.

Many of these spaces are pretty conventional... a two story Hershey's Chocolate World  store and attraction will compete with the M and M's World store that's basically right across the street. The Double Barrell Roadhouse is presented by nightlife impresarios SBE, but it will be a decidedly less upscale venue than their swanky Hyde nightclub, with plans to serve American comfort food and glasses of beer.

But a few of the businesses are actually pretty intriguing. 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria, which serves pizzas prepared in a minute in super hot ovens and has become a bit of a sensation in LA, will open its doors in front of Monte Carlo. A new brewpub complete with an outdoor beer garden is planned for the site. And most promisingly, the park will also boast the first Shake Shack location in the country outside of New York city (which is a big deal. Shake Shack is delicious and a huge success. But people who try and act as if Shake Shack is better than or even equal to In N Out should get their heads examined). The park will also provide space for local food trucks to pull up and cook up their goods for visitors.

I'm all for creating more outdoor public spaces in Las Vegas (even though stepping out into daylight in Vegas means roasting in the summer sun), and I think the whole thing is a pretty smart play... while $100 million isn't chicken scratch by any means, it's a smart way to bring in new foot traffic without building a brand new multi-billion dollar resort. And the park is a smart way to counter-program  against The Linq, the new outdoor shopping center featuring a massive ferris wheel being built by the Caesars people just a little bit further North on The Strip.

But the whole thing is also a big bemusing to me. It kind of feels like Las Vegas is trying to do some sort of Brookylny experience on The Strip, with the outdoor park and brewery and Shake Shack elements. Of course, the entire point of New York New York is to create an experience akin to the biggest city in America to The Strip, but transporting the neon commercial hustle and bustle of Times Square into Las Vegas makes sense. Building a communal outdoor experience is less of a natural fit.

While I dig the idea of an outdoor experience coming to The Strip, the new park and plaza ultimately won't end up comparing to the kind of neighborhood-building going on in Downtown, with its local businesses and unique restaurants and bars. Instead, the concept art looks like it's going to take the idea of a public space, commercialize it, and turn it into just another mall. None of this is surprising when you consider the fact that most of the Las Vegas Strip is basically a giant shopping mall (with liberal open-container laws), but the creators of the park have a chance to maybe do something a little different. A two level Hershey's store doesn't inspire confidence that they will do anything new or bold, but it will be interesting to see if the brain-trust behind the project can truly create an experience we haven't see on The Strip yet.

At least there will be a new spot to get a nice craft brew outdoors.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Escape from Douchebaggery, Part 35: Park on Fremont

I return to my blog to find it dusty and cobwebbed, but I'm back, for now, to turn you on to some brand new hotness in Las Vegas. And where else would the the coolest new bar in Sin City open but in the increasingly awesome Fremont East District, where Insert Coins, Commonwealth, Backstage Bar and Billiards, The Griffin, The Downtown Cocktail Room, The Beat Coffeehouse, .. you get the idea. It's an awesome neighborhood.

The newest spot to eat quirky food and get drunk on crafty cocktails and beers, Park on Fremont, stands out from the other hipster bars, unique restaurants, and coffee shops in the area through pure whimsy and color. Approach the front of the place and dig the rustic wooden vibe on the front patio, then step inside and admire the patterned wall papers, wildlife paintings, iron door knockers, Victorian Chandeliers, (fake, I think) stuffed animal heads and birds, quirky neon signs, exposed brick walls, and comfy booths. But where this gastropub truly steps up into the world of awesome is on its back patio.

Oh, Park on Fremont's back patio, how I love you. The place takes it name from the fact that back patio is basically a whimsical park, complete with colorfully lush plants, trees covered in Christmas lights, mosaic tile art, an archangel statue, a carriage perched above the roof, a fireplace, board-games, Victorian-ish chairs around picnic tables, and even an iron seesaw. All of these childlike elements are made even more fun by the fact that there are no actual children at the bar (at least at night), and the mini-Central Park meets Alice in Wonderland vibe is helped along considerably by quality tunes.

The food is awesome, if you like delicious yet terrible-for-you fare like stuffed Burgers or the hugely indulgent and incredibly worth it Chicken and Waffle Sandwich. They have a great selection of beers on tap or sold by the bottle (including the increasingly popular Wells' Banana Bread Beer) and refreshing cocktails with names like The Unicorn that fit into the aesthetic and Bloody Mary's made with hard-boiled eggs and bacon served in Mason Jars.

Is this place perfect? Not quite yet, as all brand new places have kinks to work out, obviously, and I've heard a few complaints from locals who have Parked it on Fremont a few times. If you get a table on the patio during a hot Vegas afternoon, try to avoid getting seated near the back corner... the patio leads out into an alleyway where other bars dump their garbage and the smell can be a bit strong in the blazing sun (according to other people who had this experience). And the place does get super busy, which means getting the attention of your server can be a bit a tricky... but do try to cut your harried and frazzled waiter or waitress a little slack as they're still trying to figure things out at a popular and hyped new restaurant and bar in an up and coming neighborhood.

Park on Fremont is a colorful, lush, quirky, whimsical and fun new gastropub that manages to stand out and make some noise with its unique voice in a neighborhood that's becoming increasingly packed with cool local businesses that cater to the smart and connected locals beginning to occupy the area as much as to the tourists that make Las Vegas tick. It might still be going through some growing pains, but even in its earliest inception, the Victorian/ fairy-tale garden vibes of this place really create a magical atmosphere that have convinced me this one place that's sure to live happily ever after.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Rat Pack Would Not Have You, Mr. Macfarlane

A lot of people have been scratching their heads and trying to figure out exactly what Seth Macfarlane was doing onstage at The Oscars (now the official name of the awards show, as Academy Awards is considered too old-timey or something) as the creator of Family Guy and Ted bombed joke after joke. Macfarlane bizarrely tried to mix off-color humor with old-school song and dance-man routines, throwing out sexist jokes then participating in numbers that would have felt contemporary before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. "What is going on here?", millions of people seemed to be thinking (and hundreds of people in my Twitter feed) asking all at once.

But close-Macfarlane watchers will know exactly what he was doing... he was making his latest appeal to join The Rat Pack. While Macfarlane playing around with his self-indulgent fantasies that he'd fit in next to Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. is fine on his own time, but forcing nearly a billion people globally (note... this number is, like the egos of many Hollywood stars, spectacularly inflated... considering the fact that the largest audience for the Oscars is the United States and 40 million people watched the decently-rated show last night, where do the rest of the 900 million plus people come in? I've read that the number is much closer to 300 million, which is admittedly a whole lot of people, but barely a quarter of the way to the big B word) is another story entirely.

In 2011, Macfarlane put out Music is Better Than Words, an album where he covered a bunch of old swing-era standards. Reviews were decidedly mixed as Macfarlane indulged in his Rat Pack era fantasies, but if you didn't want to hear him try to pretend he belonged in a Vegas showroom in the 60's, you could pretty easily avoid listening to the music, which didn't exactly set the world on fire. Look, bro, it's cool that you used your resources to make your ego-trip But letting MacFarlane loose onstage at The friggin' Oscars is another story entirely.

Look, I understand the motivation behind hiring the guy. I'm not a big fan of his work, but there are plenty of people who are, as the fact that Family Guy has been on since the 90's and Ted's half-billion global gross can attest to... the guy has a huge fan-base, and they're young. Ratings were up 19% over last year's Billy Crystal-hosted snooze-fest, so the producers got the boost they wanted, especially among young viewers. But reviews for MacFarlane have been blindingly harsh, as his (ultra-lame) meta opening bit featuring William Shatner as Captain Kirk traveling from the future to warn him that he would be described as the worst Oscar host in history proved to be prescient (and did not work to stave off such criticisms simply by BEING meta).

MacFarlane is an uber-successful TV show creator and now film writer/ director. While he voices many characters on Family Guy, American Dad!, and The Cleveland Show, and he played the title talking teddy bear (who sounded suspiciously like the main character in Family Guy) in Ted, MacFarlane has little experience performing as himself. While he did a decent job on Saturday Night Live a few months back, that doesn't suddenly make him Chris Rock, Billy Crystal, Bob Hope, or Johny Carson. MacFarlane seemed nervous throughout the night, shifting his weight back and forth and making the camera-men work overtime to follow him in medium closeup as joke after joke bombed, and while he looked like he enjoyed singing and dancing along with Channing Tatum, Charlize Theron, Joseph Gordon Levitt, and Daniel Radcliffe, Fred Astaire he is not.

Look, I don't want to pick on the guy too much. I'm not a fan, but he's got an audience who loves what he does. My main point is that MacFarlane was trying to pull of a Rat Pack swagger where he could be comically irreverent in one moment and earnestly worshipful to old showbiz style in the next. That mixture makes sense on paper, and a more modern Rat Pack style entertainer would be a great fit for the Oscars. But Macfarlane's jokes came off as mean-spirited, his dancing and singing was nothing to write home about, and he projected a smarmy attitude when he didn't seem outright nervous. This is not what we deserve from an Oscar host viewed by (maybe a quarter of a) billion people worldwide. Just because MacFarlane fantasizes about being part of The Rat Pack riffing onstage at The Sands or Riviera showrooms in the 60's doesn't mean Sinatra and co. would let him into their club.

That kind of swagger where you can be take jabs but remain likable, where you can make fun of people while also implying that you still like them, where you can project a frat-boy ease without coming off as a bro-ed out jerk is not easy to pull off, and choosing a guy with next to no hosting experience under his belt to try and bring that Vegas in the 60s persona back to life was not the right way to go, despite the ratings boost. The thing that's totally shocking to me is that ABC already has the perfect solution on their network and aired his show right after The Oscars ended... Jimmy Kimmel displays ALL of the qualities that the producers were looking for when they tapped MacFarlane... he's got that fratty, proto-Rat Pack swagger where he can take digs at mega-stars (and they can digs right back at him) while remaining totally likeable and confident. His Oscar-tied in and Hollywood-skewing video he aired during his special post-Oscars episode, "Movie: The Movie 2" is already a hit, after the original "Movie: The Movie" fake trailer racked up an impressive 30 million or so views since it came out a year ago.

Kimmel, who ABC is aggressively pushing into the limelight as he steps in to compete with Dave and Jay in his new 11:30 PM slot, will probably end up hosting The Oscars in the near future, perhaps as soon as next year. My question is why they didn't tap him this year instead of tapping a guy with no hosting experience? Seth MacFarlane wants to be a member of The Rat Pack in  the 60's in the worst way. But watch Sinatra and pals take the stage in any video on YouTube from that era and you'll see why they would never have invited the guy into their club even if he could be beamed back in time, Captain Kirk style.

Oh well, better luck next year Oscar producers. I think we can at least all agree to love the awesomely gaffe-prone and genuine Jennifer Lawrence. Now there's a chick Frank Sinatra and the boys would want to hang out with.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Veleveteen Rabbit Set To Finally Become Real In March

The classic children's story The Velveteen Rabbit is about a stuffed bunny struggling against the odds to become real, empowered by the love of his owner. The story of The Velveteen Rabbit Bar in Downtown Las Vegas follows similar beats as the beloved children's tale, with two sisters who have struggled against the odds to take a magical dream and make it real through the sheer force of love... and it looks like a happy ending is finally around the corner.

I've already mentioned the bar in a previous post, but I also figured that the place would be open by now, but the place has been delayed a few times. While Pam and Christina Dylag had a tough road to sow in getting their dream business off the ground, The Facebook Page page for ambitious (and off Fremont) DTV entertainment district Downtown 3rd reports that the whimsical bar will start pouring real cocktails sometime in March.

This is a happy ending to a story that seemed like it might not have one. Just a few weeks ago, The Las Vegas Review Journal reported on the latest (but seemingly last) hurdles that the Dylag sisters faced in getting their bar set up for business. The place has been two years in the making, as the sisters chose to renovate an abandoned and fire damaged old furniture store in Downtown, knowing it would inject some character and history into their business. But renovations were more difficult than expected, as simple things like hooking up the building to sewer lines (which is a pretty big necessity, obviously) proved more difficult and expensive than originally anticipated. Thus far, the sisters have spent two years renovating their space and already sunk nearly $250,000 into a bar that is still not operational.

Another difficulty they faced setting up gaming in the bar. This is Vegas we're talking about, after all, and the sisters originally planned to install five slot machines at The Velveteen Rabbit. But in 2011 a new ordinance was passed mandating that a business must offer a certain amount of square footage for food service in order to install five or more slot machines, a law that makes absolutely no sense and is blatantly designed to favor large casinos over small bars.

But the sisters finally caught a break recently, as the city council unanimously approved them for a "quick-start" grant, in which they were awarded nearly $35,000 to offset the crazy costs of making sure the renovated building is in compliance with the city's constantly shifting codes.

So with that victory, it looks like the dream is actually, finally, becoming a reality. Located a few blocks away from the quickly growing Fremont East District on Main Street, right in the middle of The First Fridays Art Walk route, the sisters are hoping to contribute to the expansion of Downtown as it evolves into a truly walkable area for locals. You can take a look at the sister's official blog to catch a glimpse of the whimsical and imaginative vision that that these two crushable, bad-ass, Vegas-born, and Bohemian sisters with eclectic taste will bring to life at the bar.

They haven't given anyone a full glimpse into what the finished interior will look like yet, but we can expect a whimsical place complete with furniture and antiques purchased from local thrift stores, mismatched glassware, creative signature cocktails created with fresh ingredients and love, a smartly curated menu of craft brews, local art on the walls, performances by local bands and DJs , fire damage incorporated into the aesthetic, a colorful Victorian design, chandeliers made from recycled and re-purposed glass bottles, and four (but not five) slot machines. And next month, you'll finally be able to visit the place for real as it goes from much loved concept to actual working watering hole, from hotly anticipated bar to actual hangout for local creative types and "curious class" Vegas tourists alike.

Opening The Velveteen Rabbit has been a labor of love for the Dylag sisters that has taken years (and lots of money) to come to fruition, but that's only appropriate, considering the bar's namesake. To paraphrase the original story by Margery Williams, when someone "loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real. It doesn't happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time."

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Inevitble Downtown Backlash Has Begun

If there is one absolute truth on the internet, it's this: haters gonna hate. Thus, it's no surprise that the low rumble of backlash has already begun to surface in response to Tony Hsieh's ambitious plans for the future of Downtown Las Vegas.

In a recent column in Vegas Seven Magazine, writer Heidi Kyser criticized Hsieh's efforts to revamp the entire Downtown area using only private money. Kyser was responding to reports of a proposed dog park in Downtown that would be exclusively available to fee paying members. Now, I'm not going to argue the idea of a private dog park designed by a person whose job it is to design dog parks from San Francisco in which you must pay membership dues isn't a little silly, or even a lot silly to the point of absurd satire, but I also wouldn't be so quick to single it out as the reason why Hsieh's plans are doomed to only benefit the super elite rich cool yuppie hipster class. While the fees seem a bit silly, the fact is there is no dog park in Downtown yet even though residents of the neighborhood are hungry for one, and the fees will help pay for the building and maintenance of said park. If the place proves to be popular enough, I don't think that will detract city government from building a public dog park, I think it will only encourage it. Hsieh's vision is to turn a formerly uninhabitable swath of abandoned lots and crumbling buildings into a truly vibrant and livable neighborhood with a young and creative community. Perhaps a private dog park with a membership fee is not ideal, but it's better than no dog park.

Beyond Kyser's mild and not entirely unjustified criticism, I've noticed a bit more hatorade being poured on the Downtown Project in comment threads than I used to. Certainly, comment boards are the most vile corner of the interwebs, where the cockroaches skitter under the floorboards and make racist, sexist, and homophobic comments anonymously and without repercussion. But it's still disheartening to see people write things like the below comment, posted in response to Kyser's piece:

All hail King Tony and his downtown hipster land.   Stay tuned for the Fixies only bike shop, the super tight jeans store,  the pub that only serves PBR, the eye glass shop with the super thick black frames, a store that sells retro stereo equipment like Boom boxes and cassette players.  Stay tuned for the enormous cloud of irony and cynasism that will form as this new Downtown hipster land takes shape.  If you don't think your cool enough to be a part of it you probably aren't.   Cop an attitude and find it all a bit passe and you'll fit right in.  While we are at it lets import some trustafarians.

I don't even know where to start in responding to this post, between the fact that they haven't updated their list of hipster cliches since Bush left office (a "supertight jeans store," really?) or the fact that he doesn't know the difference between "your" and "you're" (and thus would never get a date on OKCupid), but it's still an attitude that depresses me. A dude is investing a large chunk of his personal fortune into turning a dead area into a cool neighborhood with a personality different from the tourist mecca of The Strip just down the street and this guy is accusing the imagined future citizens of Downtown of cynicism?

Or how about this gem from the comment section under The Las Vegas Review Journal story announcing plans for the dog park, in which the very idea that the designer came from San Francisco is proof positive that it's a bad idea:

A transplant fron San Francisco. Need I say more? She and those like her ruined California and now are planning to destroy Nevada. This why Obama and Reid are elected. A dog park, with security? Can't your dogs run in the yard? You don't have a yard, take the stupid thing to the park. I don't want to pay for it with my tax money. She is after all from San Francisco and they are very good at spending other people's money.

The funniest part of this comment is that it's a fundamental opposite of the Vegas Seven article criticizing the fact that the Dog Park is publicly funded... this person is angry that a liberal Obama and Pelosi lovin' San Franciscan tax and spend welfare baby vegan type will spend all their hard-earned tax money on a park for dogs, while failing to take in the part that the project is privately funded, but he can still enjoy his anger at the idea that he'd have to pay for it with his tax money (while a privately funded dog park would probably end up costing him a few dollars at most in taxes, but that's neither her nor there)... why be informed on the internet when you can be OUTAGED?

I'll say that there is one common complaint I've seen amongst the comment boarders discussing Downtown that I totally agree with... the lack of a grocery store currently in the vicinity. If they really want people to move there, open up a Trader Joe's in the middle of the action, stat. That way there is high quality food available in walking distance from where people live, which means less driving and pollution and more reasons for San Francisco-hating commentators to become angry for no good reason.

Listen, I know I'm cherry picking a few choice comments and one editorial here, but this is the first time I've started to see any volume of criticism for the Downtown Project's epically ambitious neighborhood revitalization and rejuvenation plans. While criticism is good and will keep Hsieh and his merry band of Downtown dreamers honest and on the right path to truth and freedom, some of these complaints are pretty ludicrous to me. I agree that the idea of member-driven dog park with security guards and background checks for the pets sounds a bit like a Portlandia sketch, but it's at least a well-intentioned service being brought to a part of town devoid of said service up until now. And that's the point... for all of the hatin' them haters be hatin' on the Downtown Project, thus far everything they are getting steamed about has all been well intentioned, if not completely perfect in execution. The Downtown Project people are trying something experimental and ambitious and exciting, and they're sure to stumble more than a few times along the way. Who would ever get outraged at people like that?

Oh right, comment board lurkers posting under the cover of anonymity. They call 'em Trolls for a reason.