Olive farms and hippie mountain towns await

Photo: Richard Lee/Unsplash

There are plenty of best-of lists of favorite roadside stops on the L.A.-to-S.F. drive. But in recent years, many NorCal residents are decamping not to SoCal, but to the Pacific Northwest.

The Portland Tribune reports that 40,000 Californians move to Oregon every year, while 20,000 Oregonians move to California. That’s an average of 164 people per day moving their lives between the two states. Many do so by driving the quickest, most convenient route—namely, Interstate 5, or I-5.

I saw this borne out in real life when I moved from San Francisco to Portland last August. The freeway was lousy…


If you’ve never eaten at a restaurant with a gift shop, are you even a San Franciscan?

Hard Rock Cafe at Pier 39. Photos: Keith Spencer

In terms of number of filled seats, I suspect that Applebee’s, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., IHOP, and the Hard Rock Cafe are some of the most popular restaurants in San Francisco. And yet as I polled my friends, I struggled to find a local who had ever eaten at any of these places for as long as they had been residents.

That’s kind of weird if you think about it. It means that tourists are experiencing a completely different culinary San Francisco than we are.

But more than that: in patronizing these fine-dining establishments, I got a taste of how…


The owner of Moxie Parlour works mostly with women with hair loss

Photo: BJ Gopinath

Getting a haircut is an intimate experience for anyone: you’re sitting there being touched by another person whose head is inches from your face for long spans of uninterrupted time, often while you watch them in the mirror, for a transaction in which you entrust them with your outward appearance. I see my stylist, Cheryl, more often than I see many of most of my friends who live in the East Bay.

Small wonder, then, that many of us develop deeply intimate personal relationships with our hair stylists, sharing with them our inner secrets and our family dramas, and sometimes…


Yes, it’s possible

Photo: Getty Images

Back when I was editor in chief of The Bold Italic, Broke-Ass Stuart published an article about the best lunch in San Francisco you could get for under $5. “Can we go lower to — dare I say — four dollars?” I thought.

Our writer Shikha Kaiwar was up to the challenge, and I was surprised by how many under-$4 lunches she was able to find in hypergentrified San Francisco.

Still, as an inveterate cheapskate, I lay awake at night with visions of an even cheaper lunch in the City by the Bay. Was lunch possible at a $3.50 price…


Local servant bots will whip you up a drink or a snack. Are they worth the money or merely novelty?

Photo courtesy of CafeX

Remember that time Silicon Valley invented “co-housing”? And then it turned out that that was really just roommates rebranded to sound more enticing?

Or what about the time when Silicon Valley invented “ridesharing”? The concept sounded way cool: sharing a ride with just a normal driver and paying way less money than for a taxi? Sign me up. Then it turned out that that just meant a taxi without labor laws or worker protections.

Now the next thing Silicon Valley is inventing is robot restaurants. It sounds super-sweet. …


You haven’t really worked till you’ve worked from the DMV

Photo by kelvin balingit on Unsplash

Anyone who works remotely knows how boring it gets being in your house all day, every day. Some telecommuters eventually graduate from their living room to their neighborhood coffee joints, which is why there are so many of these shops in San Francisco full of bored-looking freelancers on MacBooks bouncing between Slack and Excel.

But if you spend too much time in any space, it starts to suck. I experienced this as a telecommuter—reaching that inevitable point where the coffee shop, the library and one’s home all get dull. So then what?

If you’re somewhat of a thrill seeker, you…


By Saruman the White

Sauron in his office. (courtesy Warner Bros.)

The Sauron regime made a deep descent in December. The inability of Sauron’s forces to locate the halflings bearing the One Ring, the appointment of senior Nazgul of lesser experience, and the abandonment of Mordor allies who fight beside us all defined his rule down.

It is well known that Sauron was not my choice for Mordor’s leader. After he assumed a non-corporeal form and regained his strength at Dol Guldur, I hoped he would rise to the occasion and defeat Gondor’s armies, and — to paraphrase his inscription on the One Ring — bring Middle-Earth together in the darkness…


Burning Man became a festival that rich libertarians love because it never had a radical critique at its core.

Photo by John Horsley/Photoshot/Getty Images

BY KEITH A. SPENCER

The weeklong Burning Man festival takes place once a year over Labor Day weekend in a remote alkali flat in northwestern Nevada. Two hours north of Reno, the inhospitable Black Rock Desert seems a poor place to create a temporary sixty-thousand-person city — and yet that’s entirely the point. On the desert playa, an alien world is created and then dismantled within the span of a month. The festival culminates with the deliberate burning of a symbolic effigy, the titular “man,” a wooden sculpture around a hundred feet tall.

Burning Man grew from unpretentious origins: a…


Hello, sweet search engine referral cash!

I did a Google image search for “Stranger Things,” and this was one of the top results, so probably this is a still from the show, which the DMCA says is cool to use if we include the phrase “Image courtesy of Netflix.” (Image courtesy of Netflix.)

Everybody loves “Stranger Things,” the renowned Netflix series from the Duffer Brothers that stars some very fine child actors.

Did that first sentence sound convincing? I haven’t actually seen the show, but my boss told me that I had to write an article with a headline about season 3, which apparently hasn’t come out yet, but which a lot of people are going to be googling. In fact, I just googled it myself in order to figure out that the people who made “Stranger Things” are called the “Duffer Brothers.”

Cool! They must have a pretty good sibling relationship if…


The annual Halloween conundrum: you really want to go to all these Halloween parties, because costuming is a cathartic means of temporarily escaping the feeling of being a cog in a capitalist machine week after week, year after year — yet because you are said cog, you don’t have free time after work to plan the elaborate costume you wanted.

Enough bleakness! These are some pretty simple costume ideas you can probably make just from stuff lying around your house and in closets. While brainstorming, we specifically picked costumes that were mostly more “edgy” in order to help you feel…

Keith A. Spencer

Senior Editor, Salon.com. Previously Editor-in-Chief of The Bold Italic. “A People’s History of Silicon Valley” is out now: https://bit.ly/2vIe6fG

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