Fell Street, Hayes Street’s Quiet Cousin – Hoodline.com

Here’s a look at one block in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley’s Fell Street between 1906-1915

hoodline.com,content writing, san francisco

Photo: The Bancroft Library University of California, Berkeley

Here is a deeply researched article about one block of Fell Street in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley written for Hoodline.com

The church in the image above was burned to the ground in the ham and egg fire started in a kitchen after the 1906 earthquake.  Located at 240 Fell Street in Hayes Valley here in San Francisco where it remains today. Read the entire article here: Fell Street, Hayes Valley

Here’s the 1912 San Francisco Call account of saloon owner John Webbe his buddy, and a dog named Steam.


Active Listening An Empathetic Challenge

listening empathetically


Not too long ago a friend and I encountered an impressive person in the park asking for donations for a community cause.  The young woman was any sales manager’s dream, she was charming and tenacious, she had fingertip facts, and she was focused on getting you to contribute to her cause. A born salesperson, but she lacked one essential quality; she was not an empathetic listener.


Most of us take listening for granted, but not all listening is created equally. Most listening theorists agree that active or empathetic listening is a multidimensional process consisting of three components, sensing, processing, and responding. If you are not using these three, it might be costing you in all aspects of your life.


According to Dr. Lyman Steil’s book, “Effective Listening” example, if 144 million workers in the USA makes a simple $10 listening error the cost to business would be well over a billion dollars per year. Poor listening habits are the cause of losses in revenue, profits, productivity, and relationships inside and outside of work.


On one of my first copywriting assignments, I met with the client and discussed the brief, asked questions, took notes, asked more questions. Then I went away and wrote two drafts that the client didn’t seem happy with. In total bewilderment, I scheduled a face to face meeting to figure out what I was doing wrong.


After our meeting, I realized that I had heard the needs of the client, but I had not been an empathetic listener. This discovery at the beginning of my career informed every other assignment and made me a better writer.  Though I was sensing, processing, and responding I did not contextualize the information. Listening for the facts and not the substance is not empathetic listening.

Have you ever gone into a shop or called customer service only to find yourself talking right past the person who’s there to help you. I call it the, “would you like fries with that?” syndrome. No matter what you ask, the pre-programmed response is, would you like fries with that? It’s common to blame the clerk or the call center when the fault really lies in their training and the lack of value placed on active listening.


In her groundbreaking work on empathy in nursing, Theresa Wiseman says empathy has three main components.

  • Perspective taking (standing back, seeing the world from someone else’s view.)
  • Comprehending without judgment (turning off your brain’s effort to calculate how wrong the speaker is and how you’re going to fix it.)
  • Recognizing commonality and reflecting it back (looking for the shared perspective in what you’re hearing and letting the other person know you get it, you understand.)


There are few quantitative studies looking at active listening in business offline, but online we have practices and data to bolster how vital active listening can be to any successful enterprise.


The entire field of UX, user experience is grounded in listening carefully to the nuances of the user’s involvement and quantifying the results for better outcomes for both sides.

No copywriting and content creation effort can be successful without understanding who the audiences and what they want and need. A/B testing stripped to its essence is really just listening to what a given audience prefers and then analyzing the results.


The good news is that being an empathetic listener is a learned behavior. 


Here are five ways to become a better active listener:

1. Talk less – Listen more. The need to dominate the conversation by imposing ideas on the other person most often creates a communication shutdown. Encourage the speaker to fully express their thoughts. Showing genuine interest in what is being said establishes trust.

2. Make eye contact with the speaker. Not in a creepy way, just avoid looking around the room. That means turning off your phone.

3. Repeat back the information as you receive it. “So, what you’re saying is…” “If I hear you correctly…”

4. Don’t interrupt.

5. Don’t try to solve the problem with your reply.


Empathetic listening can change the way you work, think, and live.


Take the Only Human listening quiz:  Only Human

Manners Plez!

Leaving the building this morning I encountered a young woman suffering from that terrible disorder, phone melded into the right hand, as the other hand was fishing in her purse for her key, I asked, “Are you coming in?” Walking through the gate she barely makes eye contact and made no audible acknowledgement at all.  As she silently passes me I say to her, “You’re welcome.”


Discussions about manners have become unfashionable along with knowing which one is the salad fork or saying you’re welcome in response to thank you and I can live with these, but a casual mindless lack of manners is toxic. 

And yes, I do realise that my honking at her, “You’re welcome!” wasn’t exactly polite either, but at least it was a choice.  



“Casual, passive rudeness is like a deadly, silent fart. “


Jung And The Arroz Con Coco

A Patient’s Report:


I had a dream last night, maybe you can help.

I am at a fairly toney restaurant with an amazingly attractive practitioner of the head sciences.  We’re having a riveting conversation about transference and the invention of the wooden clothing hanger.  Between courses of bandeja paisa and the arroz con coco, I reached for the napkin, which is on my lap, but instead I found myself caressing a unsheathed, hairy, muscular thigh.  As our eyes met I excused myself and fled for to the restroom in the hopes of recovering what was left of my composure.

Having dried my hands, I turned to leave the restroom the incredibly attractive shrink was blocking the restroom’s exit.  As I reached for the doorknob, the shrink advanced upon my person.  Just then I woke up.  Any clarity would be appreciated.

P.S. Jung please not Freud

Doctor’s Reply:

As a Jungian-oriented dream decipher, I need to have a parallel dream in order to efficiently connect to the unconscious/conscious self-axis.  However, due to the enormity of my demands, I can no longer dream. So, I will view the dream from an ego perspective, peppering it with Jungian terminology.  I tried to identify the strong potential feeling that the dream could elucidate in order to have an angle. My hunch of one strong feeling could be related to your caressing a hairy, unsheathed muscular thigh.  This image has to be further amplified to discover the hidden meaning.


Let’s see, a thigh…..we could explore the meaning of a thigh- chicken thigh is what comes to me immediately, can’t stop thinking of the bandeja paisa and arroz con coco.  This entire line of inquiry puts me in mind of a patient, male, who was having commitment phobias.  In one of our last sessions I gave him three Chinese radishes to carry with him for one week; at the end of that week he was to prepare a mooli for his wife and himself.  The treatment cured him of his commitment issues but as a consequence he became obsessed with mooli soup serving it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner driving his wife from the house and the marriage.







Our time is up, we will continue during our next session.




A Burberry Vest, Handcuffs, A Blindfold, And A Wheelchair

san francisco

Yesterday walking down Mission Street, I see a man in a wheelchair waiting at the bus-stop, he is wearing a blindfold and a pair of handcuffs attached to his chair.  I was a bit concerned until I realized he was outside Kink Studios and it was their free tour day.

Later, walking up Valencia Street on the way home a guy with beautifully pomade hair steps out of a doorway right into my path and stops. He consults his phone, doesn’t apologize to me, surveys the street ahead then begins his promenade.

Mr. Pomade was wearing cream-colored pants rolled up to the ankles, shower shoes, and a quilted Burberry vest that he couldn’t seem to subdue as it flapped in the breeze. I increased my pace and lost him only to meet him again at the crosswalk.  

He crossed the street and as I watched him fold himself into the mini cooper I thought, sure he’s got a tiny car and a swell haircut, but that guy in the blindfold, wheelchair, and handcuffs has him beat when it comes to style and a much better story for damn sure. 


Paul Harnden Shoemakers


Paul Harnden Shoemakers Inspiration. I wanted to create a tribute to my inspiration by juxtaposing the modern and a past not so easily located. 

I choose this image of a young man, Oda Shinfuku born to Tosa samurai father in Kochi Prefecture Sukumo Japan. This picture is believed to have been taken in Tokyo during the Meiji restoration in the late 1880s, while he was studying dentistry.

In the photo, Shinfuku is posing as the 16th-century daimyo Oda Nobuyoshi. His strikingly modern good looks and steely gaze strike me as a perfect compliment to the Paul Harnden Shoemaker brand. Quietly insistent beauty.


paul harnden shoemaker inspiration



Inspiration comes in all forms. The designer Paul Harnden Shoemakers crafts beautiful, quietly meticulously clothes and shoes for men and women. One of the striking things about this company is the minimal amount of noise that they produce. The advertising is lean and when they do create a campaign the images are like someone speaking insistently but quietly causing you to lean in to hear.


Subtle as the clothes are they are often brimming with sartorial references and impeccable craftsmanship. Jacket lapels that can be pulled up and buttoned, shirts printed with images drawn from 18th-century botanical illustrations. None of it fussy or pretentious. For me, the clothes and the company’s aesthetics are brimming with inspiration. 














Shinfuku Oda and Paul Harnden Shoemaker. Inspiration and beauty. 


By the way, the Oda Dental Office in Kochi that Shinfuku founded is still in operation more than one hundred years later.


Cotton shirt with botanical illustrations

inspiration 01

Harnden Jacket with hidden button deployed


Editorial for the Harnden women’s line

Joni Mitchell and the Giant Box

san francisco living

Last Thursday, on the way home I noticed a couple of things. San Francisco Jazz had erected a comely hedgerow and Kris Kristofferson was meandering up my block. Kristofferson and the red carpet dress up were part of a celebration and tribute for Joni Mitchell. 


Having made it through a phalanx of chauffeured SUVs and the film crew set up in front of my building, and just as I was retrieving the mail, a production assistant asked if they could film me opening the giant box in the middle of the sidewalk. She was very nice, but I demurred.


I wanted to ask why they hadn’t recruited the shop owner they were chatting with, or if the giant box was set as a trap. The first person to trip over it has to open it on camera. I was too desperate for my afternoon cuppa joe to ask either question besides, the P.A. had already dismissed me after I said no.


Climbing the stairs I silently wished them well as they wrapped up filming the opening credits for “The Hipster Gets a Haircut.”


I had finally made it home and I vowed not to leave until the tributes and filming had all blown over.  Phew!


I will miss that hedgerow though.