iPhone theft and staying vigilant

I considered writing about this the other day. Then I decided not to. What’s the big deal, right? It happens all the time, and the outcome is much worse for many people. Then I thought more about it again. The truth is, what happened a few days ago keeps running through my head, and perhaps it’s best to just let it out.

I was robbed the other day, publicly and in broad daylight. As I do every work day, I left my apartment around 7:30 am and walked to the corner of Potrero and 24th to cross the street and head towards BART. I had my headphones in and was listening to music on my iPhone, holding the phone at my side as I walked. As I walked by the bus stop on the corner, I noticed that there was an above-average number of people waiting for either the 9, 9L, 33 or 48 to come by.

I started to cross the street. Then I felt a sharp tug on my right arm and on the string of my headphones, and I immediately turned around. A young guy (perhaps 18? 20? Or younger? I’m terrible at guessing ages) was crouched behind me and had managed to force me to drop my phone so he could grab it.

He fumbled it a little. I grabbed onto his arms to stop him from taking it. He yelled at me to let go and shoved me off. I yelled at him to give me back my phone. My own voice sounded foreign. Maybe I managed to grab him again, and he shoved me off again? The exact details are fuzzy now.

We’d moved into the street at this point, in front of the bus stop with all the people waiting. Many cars were waiting at the stoplight. He started to run across the street, through traffic. Someone honked at him. A guy waiting at the bus stop made a half-hearted attempt to run and yell at the guy, then stopped.

I chased him across the street. He was too far ahead of me at this point, and sprinted down Potrero, past 23rd. It’s done. I’m defeated, humiliated, shocked and shaking.

A car pulled over and the driver stepped out to ask me what happened. Another guy met me at the corner and asked if I needed to use his phone to call someone. I didn’t really need anyone’s help at this point, however, since I live across the street. I returned home, cancelled my AT&T service, changed some passwords, and cried on my boyfriend’s shoulder.

Why was I so upset? It’s not about the phone. It was certainly a nice phone (an iPhone 4), and a good portion of my daily life revolved around using it (listening to music, utilizing the GPS, surfing the internet, etc.). But material items are easily┬áreplaceable, and this phone is easily replaceable. I’m in the fortunate position where I can afford to buy a new phone (although I’ll end up buying the cheaper model, which is also fine – I only had the new model due to some random happenstance anyway). I spent two days without a phone after it was stolen, and aside from not getting my music fix while riding BART to get to work, I didn’t especially miss it.

It’s the act of being robbed, I think, that’s sticking with me. I can still feel the guy tugging hard and fast on my arm, the feel of his sweatshirt as I grabbed at him to try to stop him, the feel of 50+ people idly watching as this all went down.

And it’s also a feeling of disbelief. I thought of myself as someone who maintains a good sense of vigilance, especially when I’m on public transit and when it’s later at night, and fewer people are around. Since I first upgraded to an iPhone, I’ve always kept in mind the huge numbers of Muni thefts, reported mugging attempts and successes, etc. I try not to get so lost in my little device that I forget my surroundings.

I guess I never, ever imagined that something like this would happen in such a public, open space, with so many people around, under a bright shining sun with nowhere to hide. So I walked across the street holding my phone at my side, when it should have been tucked away in my bag instead. This was my daily routine, and I thought it was a safe one. Lesson learned.

The silver lining? Apparently while this was all going down, someone did call the police (as I found out later that same day). The police arrived a few minutes after I’d returned to my home, and at least one or two people gave witness reports. The police drove around looking for both me and the thief (witnesses apparently saw him jump into a car and drive off). So, I can’t claim that no one tried to help – although I can’t help but wonder how this story would have been different if someone, anyone, had stepped in to help while this was happening, had tried to pull the guy away like I did. Maybe he wouldn’t have gotten away with this, and the volume of these types of robberies would decrease. Additionally, what if I’d tried to kick him or push him away with more force? Am I not tough enough?

But I can’t know what could have happened, because it’s a done deal. Plus, it could have been worse – what if he’d had a weapon, for example? And, like I said, it’s just a phone. It’s not a rare bicycle, nor was anyone kidnapped or injured. So, it’s fine. I’m fine. From now on, it’s all about keeping my valuables hidden safely away, not ever letting my guard down and keeping a sharp eye out for both myself and my fellow city dwellers. Let’s all be safe, strong and vigilant.


Roommate dinner night, January 2011 + Mom’s sangria

I live with three fabulous roommates on the edge of the Mission, near Potrero Hill. We decided that we don’t see enough of each other (we all have boyfriends and hobbies and other things that keep us out of the house), so it was time to schedule an all-hands-on-deck roomie dinner night. This month: Mexican themed.

Lisa made a bread-pudding-like dessert (I can’t remember the name, sadly), with mango and guava paste on top:

Roommate dinner night - Lisa's dessert

Kristen made empanadas, all from scratch, with a mushroom/seitan filling:

Roommate dinner night - Kristen's empanadas

Katherine made a veggie paella with quinoa instead of rice . . . of which I forgot to take a photo (sorry Katherine!).

And I made sangria, using my mother’s tried and true recipe.

Roommate dinner night - Mom's sangria

It was a great night, and everything was delicious. And bonus: everything was vegan! Next month: PIES. Yep.

Mom’s Sangria
(Serves 4-6 people)

2 bottles red wine (I used pinot noir after finding some on sale at Whole Foods)
1 cup fruit juice (orange, apple, grape, grapefruit, whatever you’d like – I used fresh grapefruit juice)
2/3 cup triple sec
2 oranges, cut into 8 pieces
1 lemon, cut into 8 pieces
1 lime, cut into 8 pieces
1-2 extra limes for garnish (optional)
Sugar (optional)

Pour all the liquids together into a big pitcher or pot. Add the sliced fruit. If you’re going to add sugar, add some now and stir it all together (I added a little less than 1/5 of a cup).

[Disclaimer: my mother never adds sugar to her sangria – I added some because I knew at least one of my roommates prefers a sweeter sangria. It’s great, either way.]

Refrigerate for as long as possible – around 8 hours is apparently ideal, although I only refrigerated last night’s batch for about 2-3 hours before serving.

If you’re using sugar, take a test sip (or two) to measure sweetness before serving. If it’s not sweet enough for your liking, add a little more sugar and stir around and test again.

If using, slice up the remaining limes and add to glasses.

Serve and enjoy!

A daily song: Vetiver – “Everyday”

Vetiver at Pickathon 2009

Vetiver at Pickathon 2009, by my dear friend David Elkins.

I seem to have a different song and/or melody stuck in my head on a daily basis. I will try to post them here as often as possible.

Fittingly, the first song in this series is entitled “Everyday.”

Local stars Vetiver and their “Everyday,” from Tight Knit. Sunny and sweet, with a touch of somber folk elegance.

“I always seem to make
something out of nothing
But I can’t make you appear”

Vetiver – “Everyday”

I need a pickup and I don’t mean truck


I finally saw Brendan Benson – on September 10th at the Great American Music Hall. For kicks and to fuel some slow-burning curiosity (and since I’ve made peace with my lens residing permanently in the zoom-doesn’t-work camp), I rented a rather large lens and proceeded to take entirely too many photos. It was fun. I still have much to learn, but a rock show serving as your classroom is by no means an unpleasant concept.

Since referenced lens (that I originally bought used without knowing much about it) is not entirely usable, I’m researching new options. A natural choice appears to be the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, if only because it seems to be a solid starter choice – and, well, it’s cheap, especially when compared to most other options.

In the aftermath of the Brendan Benson concert, I can’t seem to stop listening to “A Whole Lot Better” whenever it comes on my iPod. Another “desert island” artist, in the vault.

My favorite Deli posts

I spent 13 months as Associate Editor of the Deli Magazine in San Francisco. The Deli SF is a city subsidiary of the flagship Deli site: the Deli NYC. This was not a paid/full-time position (although I made a little money on ad revenue once and awhile), but rather a heavy-handed and very fulfilling hobby.

I’ve since moved on to blogging over at Stranger Dance, simply because it felt time for a change, to tackle new ideas and work with some new people. But I still look back fondly at my time with the Deli. I learned a ridiculous amount in such a short time – about the local scene, about managing writers, about working with PR and other industry contacts, etc. (not to mention the improvement in my writing, editing, HTML and other technical skills). I also met and discovered a number of amazing bands as well as other local music bloggers, and a whole new world was opened up to me.

On that note, I decided to go through my past posts on the Deli SF and pick out my favorites. I published a ton of stuff while at the Deli, but many posts were quick write-ups of upcoming events/developments/etc. The ones below are more comprehensive examples.

San Francisco at SxSW 2009:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Noise Pop 2009:

Free Noise Pop Events + local bands
Built for the Sea/Crime in Choir/From Monument to Masses
Papercuts/the Mountain Goats (solo)
Local bands at Noise Pop 2009
City Light/Devon Williams/Dent May/A.C. Newman

Band/artist features:

60 Watt Kid
Rykarda Parasol
Geographer (CD review)
The Heavenly States
Grand Lake
Window Twins

“The Deli SF presents”:

The Toy Soldiers, the Attachments, Music for Animals, the Buttercream Gang
Blue Rabbit, Chelsea Wolfe, Tippy Canoe
The Definite Articles, Foxtail Somersault, Stripmall Architecture

Random and sundry:

Volunteer for Bay Area Girls Rock Camp 2008
Treasure Island Festival 2008
My Fav Oakland Bands
Future Perfect Radio
Wiretap Music Presents: Covers

Locals only: Jen Schande Teaches Me to Play Guitar

As originally published here over at Stranger Dance

Jen Chochinov

[Locals Only is a weekly feature where the Stranger Dance staff focus on the best and brightest of the San Francisco Bay Area music scene. Feel free to hit us up with any information on local bands, musicians, shows, and other music-related events and projects.]

There are various ways to be directly involved with your local music scene. You can write and perform music, with a band or by yourself; you can put together and promote shows and events; you can volunteer for and support local music organizations; you can write and publish local music blogs and mags (ahem).

So what does Jen Chochinov choose to do? Essentially, all of the above. She serves as frontwoman for the band Schande, she DJs as Jen Schande thrice a month at local venues (first and third Monday nights at El Rio, every second Thursday at the Uptown), she volunteers for the Bay Area Girls Rock Camp, and she contributes to Wiretap Music. And she has an honest-to-goodness day job. Good god woman, when do you sleep?

Continue reading

Eating green = eating local

This post on BlogHer made me think about my own eating patterns, and just how local they may or not be.

On the one hand, since moving to San Francisco, I’ve found that the majority of my grocery shopping is done via walking or using public transit. This is because a) it’s more convenient to stop somewhere off of BART on my way home from work in Berkeley (say, to the Trader Joe’s in Rockridge or the Whole Foods in SOMA, although that place kinda sucks), and b) it’s a pain in the butt to get my car in and out of my apartment garage and to drive anywhere in the City.

However, my purchasing habits are not necessarily influenced by locality, particularly for produce (I tend to go for what’s cheap and convenient). So while I’m offsetting my carbon output by not driving, I may be reversing the effects by not keeping a closer eye on where my food is coming from.

It was almost the opposite from when I lived in Oakland. I got a lot of produce and other miscellaneous items at local farmer’s markets, but otherwise, I almost always drove to various grocery stores. Then again, I’ve been cooking much more since moving to SF, making the most from the food I buy and stretching out leftovers for as long as they’ll last; when I lived alone while in the East Bay, I definitely let a lot more food go to waste.

So what’s to be done? I may go back to a project I started last year, when I created a Google Map of Bay Area farmer’s markets in hopes of checking more out when possible:

[View Bay Area Farmer’s Markets in a larger map]

I’ll likely revise it to cater it more towards my new City dwellings, and to remove any markets that are just too far from work or home to justify the cost/distance. Also, this article on Cooking Light spotlights in-season produce and provides recipes, which is quite helpful.

Another Girls Rock Camp discovery

There was that whole discovery regarding Ash Reiter that I posted about back in July. And now, I’d like to add another musical addition to the Bay Area Girls Rock Camp vault.

Miss Oona Garthwaite gave keyboard lessons to a whole bunch of young rocker girls during BAGRC back in July, and as it turns out, she sings and plays music like a madwoman. And by madwoman, I mean wailing at top of her lungs, going apeshit on her keys, and generally making whirlywind electro-pop music with plenty of heart and soul. To boot, she’s a super sweet person and worked wonders with the girls at Rock Camp. She’ll be playing at Cafe du Nord on September 18th and the Red Devil Lounge on October 23rd.

I’m realizing more and more how I was surrounded by really amazing, creative, hard-working ladies during my time at BAGRC. It’s simultaneously humbling and deeply inspiring.

Ash Reiter – it’s quite the small world

I noticed during one of the trainings for BAGRC that one of my fellow volunteers looked awfully familiar. And I was right – as it turns out, we’re both from Sebastopol and both attended the local high school (Analy High School, actually pronounced “ann-a-lee.” Yeah it looks like anal-y, blah blah blah – ooh look, it’s on Wikipedia!). We also both went to UC Santa Cruz, although we never ran into each other, and now we both live in Oakland. Small world. She did instrument instruction for the week and I worked as a band manager, and the whole week was amazing, etc. etc.

Then I return to the real world this week, do work stuff, peruse the internets, whathaveyou. And I’m searching for new bands for the Deli SF’s new Artist of the Month poll, and I see Ash Reiter in our band listings . . . wait, what? The same Ash Reiter with whom I went to high school, with whom I was just spent a week chasing around guitar-slinging 8-year-olds? Wait, she was featured last month on Daytrotter.com?? And wait, woah, her music is really really GOOD!

Her folksy tunes are absolutely beautiful, sweet, and wise. Her voice has a Feist-meets-Mirah-meets-Cat Power vibe: lightly angelic & warm, with enough whiskey-soaked edges to create a sense of depth and mystery. I can’t wait to hear more. In the meantime, I’ll be listening to her Daytrotter and MySpace tracks – maybe you ought to do the same.