np.study.volansky.tndc by auweia

VIEWS: 445 PAGES: 1

									                        TL landmark McDonald’s Bookstore evicted by TNDC
                        BY TOM CARTER                                      pensive. For several years he was unable to                                                                                                                                 piled into a large truck. Half      times. No, I forgot his name.”
                                                                           function as a business.”                                                                                                                                                    of the stuff was stored at              Falk hadn’t heard about this complaint


                        L      EGENDARY McDonald’s Bookstore, king of          TNDC’s mission is to provide low-cost                                                                                                                                   Volansky’s 116-118 Turk St.         either. “It’s likely it did leak,” Falk said. “We
                               the overstuffed, moldering used book        housing for the neighborhood, and that                                                                                                                                      building and the rest else-         have 80,000 square feet and those things hap-
                               emporiums, was evicted from 48 Turk St.     includes storefront retail and nonprofit busi-                                                                                                                              where.                              pen. Our operations people would handle it.”
                        in December by TNDC for not paying rent,           nesses to enhance the community. Falk said                                                                                                                                       “When we renovated,
                        thus ending its 80-year run.                       because McDonald’s occupies a commercial                                                                                                                                    we offered to upgrade (his          CHAOS INSIDE, VIOLENCE OUTSIDE
                             Owner Itzhak Volansky, 58, says he may        space, housing isn’t a consideration and TNDC                                                                                                                               store space),” Falk said. “But           Clearly, McDonald’s was fading away
                        reopen a block away. But if his track record is    has no plans for it and hasn’t tried to market it.                                                                                                                          his choice was to keep it           before the sheriff’s eviction notice arrived.
                        an indication, it won’t be soon. Organizing the        “Ideally, we’d find a community-serving                                                                                                                                 grungy. And (afterward) it          Volansky says sometimes he was too
                        store’s jumbled sea of publications, some of it    retail use for the space,” Falk said. “But I don’t                                                                                                                          became hazardous.”                  depressed for days or weeks to come to work.
                        predating the 1920s, would be monumental.          know if we can find anyone willing to operate                                                                                                                                    The retrofit took three             One customer, a baseball fan who discov-
                        And Volansky would face similar dismal busi-       a business there, given the street activity. I                                                                                                                              years. During that time,            ered the store in the 1970s and often bought
                        ness conditions that led to his downfall.          think a nonprofit office use is a possibility.”                                                                                                                             TNDC paid Volansky and he           old copies of Sports Illustrated, in a review on
                             A notice posted on the door in late               Volansky said he owed $12,000 in back                                                                                                                                   whiled away the days with           the store’s Website said that it was “even more
                        November from the Sheriff’s Department said        rent.                                                                                                                                                                       his wife in their Sunset            impossible” since the retrofit to find things,
                        he and his material had to be out by Dec. 3,           “It’s maybe double that,” said Bailey                                                                                                                                   District home.                      even “hazardous with all the boxes and stacks
                        6:01 a.m. But TNDC generously gave him more        Williams of Ventura Properties, who handles                                                                                                                                      “It was the best time of       in the aisles.”
                        time.                                              TNDC’s rentals. “I’ve been trying to work with                                                                                                                              my life,” Volansky said.                 Sloppy, foul-mouthed drunks outside
                             In late January, Volansky was still remov-    him for five years. To have a business, you                                                                                                                                 “They paid me not to work.          offended another reviewer. But he said that
                        ing the bulk of more than a million books and      have to stay open and pay rent. He couldn’t do                                                                                                                              I wrote songs.”                     with help from the congenial owner, who gave
                        magazines, by his estimate. There was no end       either. He’s closed for days, weeks on end. It’s                                                                                                                                 TNDC extensively reno-         him a student price break, he reveled in find-
                        in sight. He was sending the collection by U-      been a downward spiral for a long time.”                                                                                                                                    vated the Dalt and its 178          ing Life magazines from the 1930s for an art
                        Haul to a two-story building at 116-118 Turk St.       Two years ago, Williams said, he met with                                                                                                                               units. McDonald’s was retro-        project.
                        that he inherited 30 years ago from his father.    Volansky and his wife and drew up an agree-                                                                                                                                 fitted and got a new façade,               The Turk Street scene is intolerable for
                        It houses Youth Hostel Central and has vast        ment.                                                                                                                                                                       as did the cleaners. They           any business, Volansky said. Dope dealers and
                        storage space.                                         “He was to pay rent on the first of the                                                                                                                                 reopened March 8, 2005.             sprawling drunks cluster in front of the string
                             “We could open there,” said Volansky,         month,” Williams said. “But he hasn’t paid any-                                                                                                                                  Volansky admits he had         of hotels on the north side. The Dalt, Aranda
                        whose comments vacillate between fact and          thing since last February. And his lease expired                                                                                                                            only casually supervised the        Residence, the Dahlia Hotel and Hotel Winston
                        stabs at humor. “And maybe I should thank          six months ago. He had all sorts of excuses.”                                                                                                                               book removal and return.            Arms fail to control their sidewalks, he said,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                PHOTO BY TOM CARTER
                        TNDC. I can concentrate on music now, not                                                                                                                                                                                      Movers put the unmarked             and debris bins are parked outside for many
                        dusty books. It could be a blessing in dis-        HOLLYWOOD PUT ON HOLD                                In defunct McDonald’s, owner Itzhak Volansky holds an item once popular before life changed.                           boxes back haphazardly on           days at a time.
                        guise.”                                                Volansky had won a song-writing contest                                                                                                                                 the shelves. Downstairs,                 The block is among the most violent in the
                             Book and magazine competition on the          in 1979 and was on his way to collect his prize                                                                                                                             thousands of publications           city. Murders have been committed outside the
                        Internet, the chaos of his own business for the    in Hollywood and start a career when his                 Chris Isaak came for surfer magazines,            Until six years ago, McDonald’s stayed remained packed in boxes. Worse, Volansky                     21 Club at the Turk-Taylor corner. Stabbings
                        last three years and the milieu on possibly the    father died and left him and his sister              Larry McMurtry for adventure, George Lucas profitable. Old porn, he said, was the top sell- said, the inventory stored in the next block                   and fistfights are common in front of the
                        Tenderloin’s roughest block killed his busi-       McDonald’s Bookstore. “And I don’t really like       and Francis Ford Coppola staffers looked for er. A hot item was the magazine called Chicks wasn’t returned.                                                Aranda. And the Dalt still carries the stigma of
                        ness, he says.                                     books,” he says.                                     book and magazine movie props, and Michael with Dicks. He was selling on eBay and doing                “This is the first I’ve heard of it,” Falk said.    June 28, 2003, when John Bravard, described
                             “A first edition Stephen King novel used to       His father had bought the store in 1954          Jackson — after being driven up in a limousine okay.                                               “And where would he put them, anyway?”                  by residents as “a ticking time bomb,” fatally
                        go for $250,” he said. “Now it’s $1.”              from Jock McDonald, who had opened it in             and asking Volansky to close for him —                                                                 When McDonald’s reopened, buttressed                shot three men in the lobby, then killed him-
                             Hired neighborhood regulars ankle-deep        1926. Both men had added voluminously to             bought $250 worth of kids’ books.                 BEGINNING OF THE END                             with giant diagonal steel girders, it was a poor        self in his fourth-floor room.
                        in trash packed books into cardboard boxes         the material, from 1913 National Geographics             “I only do it for the people — they love it,”     But TNDC wanted to seismically retrofit shadow of its former hodgepodge.                                  “The police bring their cleaning to Edwards
                        one day in December as Volansky spoke. They        to high school yearbooks to 1950s porn to            Volansky said.                                    and renovate the then-97-year-old building Compounding Volansky’s woes was a leaky                       but do nothing about the crowd,” Volansky
                        call him “Isaac” and know him as a kind man        scholarly books in Hebrew and Yiddish and                But he and his sister fought continuously. that also houses the Dalt Hotel and Edwards ceiling under the Dalt. In December, two pud-                   said. “They walk right by it. The potential good
                        who’s good for a handout. His hand-written A-      much more.                                           To avoid each other, they alternated days at Tailor Shop & Cleaners. The nonprofit, which dles on the floor in back and curled covers in                   foot traffic from Market Street takes one look at
                        frame board, usually outside, stood forlornly          McDonald’s attracted thousands of young          the store.                                        owns or manages 24 properties, hired Delancy one of his National Geographic sections were                the street and doesn’t want to come here.”
                        nearby. Its now-deflated parody reads, “A          and old, rich and poor, famous and homeless.              “The customers appreciated it,” he said.     Street Movers to remove the entire McDonald’s mute evidence.                                                   In the end, nothing was left to redeem the
                        dirty, poorly-lit place for books.”                Breathing in the aromatic mustiness, they                 They went to court. He bought her out.       inventory and put it in storage. For two weeks,      “They promised a waterproof ceiling with            city’s prized junkyard bookstore. Volansky’s
                             “It’s sad,” said TNDC Executive Director      meandered upstairs and downstairs through                The store nearly closed in the 1990s, but he 11 movers, who Volansky refers to as “Curly, the retrofit,” Volansky said, “and I was happy               sign on the door says “moved to 120 Turk.”
                        Don Falk. “But we gave him many, many              the dimly lit 4,000-square-foot acreage, trolling    said a story in the Chronicle helped him launch Moe, Larry and friends,” worked full days to hear it because books and water don’t mix.                    According to the assessor’s office, there is no
                        chances and his rent was unbelievably inex-        for buried treasures.                                a successful sale that revived his finances.      shoving everything into 800 boxes that were I went to see the Dalt manager about it many                 such address. ■




                        How Dizzy Balloon carries ‘My Parachute’ to 5 minutes of fame
                                                                                                                                                                                             PHOTOS BY HEIDI SWILLINGER
                        ➤ CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1                                It’s not very musical and not quite droll.       suddenly in a freefall past fluffy white clouds     shot. The group prides itself on writing most of        So, on Dec. 11, the intrepid bookstore         show’s publicity, the magic night and the
                                                                           But he entered it in a Hollywood song-writing        as he sings hollowly of his breakup and the         its songs, and it’s working for them. They had     owner appeared with his guitar on an Oracle         band. Dizzy Balloon’s Website showed that
                             His story actually began in 1979 when he      contest and it won. Volansky set off for LaLa        malfunctioning chute.                               15 gigs lined up from Chico to San Diego in        Arena side stage. He was in full voice and          “Raise A Glass” was the band’s No. 1 song,
Itzhak Volansky         wrote “My Parachute.” The lyrics are about a       Land to collect the prize and ignite his career.          In 2005, SF Weekly declared it Video of the    January.                                           wearing the parachute harness and a bright          with 30,600 requested plays, and its newly
is shown in the         busted love affair and the woes that arise from    But his father, who owned McDonald’s, died           Year. On Oct. 20, Volansky closed McDonald’s             But before the Cafe du Nord showdown,         orange jumpsuit — “I don’t like to be seen in       added “My Parachute” had jumped into fifth
aerial dive from his    a sloppy job of packing the parachute as the       right then and left him the store (see sidebar).     early, dressed up in his olive drab jumpsuit,       Axelsen wrote to A.P. Petros, a guitarist and      the same one all the time.” Before him was a        place with 3,800 hits. The video begins by
My Parachute DVD.       jilted man falls toward earth from a plane,            The career, and his pursuit of it, dissolved.    put on the parachute harness and chute pack         singer with Dizzy Balloon.                         sold-out youngish crowd of 14,000, primed for       showing Volansky strumming his guitar — a
                        counting, in feet, his diminishing space.          Time passed. Lots of it.                             he got in 1979 for $100, and walked over one             “He suggested we cover ‘My Parachute          a night of sweaty rock music.                       snippet from his video — then fades to show
                                                                                                 Volansky didn’t have the       block to the Warfield Theater to accept the         Won’t Open,’” Petros told The Extra. “I’d never         In offering up arguably the worst of their     the band performing on stage while the cover
                                                                                             chops of Tiny Tim or the gar-      award on stage.                                     heard of it (the song). But the station has done   contestants, the radio people were hanging          plays in the background.
                                                                                             rulous rhyming of Nervous               Six months ago he put the video on             us some favors and we owed them so I said,         Volansky out to dry. They expected some boo-             “A copyright infringement,” Volansky says.
                                                                                             Norvus (of “Transfusion” and       YouTube. For the first few months, it received      sure. And then I heard it and said, ‘Oh my god,    ing, maybe a lot.                                   “But I don’t care. I need all the covers I can
                                                                                             “Ape Call” fame). But in his       maybe 100 hits, Volansky guesses. Then              we have to cover that?’ I wouldn’t have                 But that’s not what happened. There was        get.”
                                                                                             spare time he still plunked        opportunity popped up.                              believed a year ago that we’d be covering a        something about the wistful tune and forlorn             In assessing “My Parachute’s” impact,
                                                                                             away on his guitar and                  In November, the CBS-owned FM station          YouTube song.”                                     singer that stunned the audience into silence.      Dizzy Balloon’s band members struck a profes-
                                                                                             dreamed of what might have         Live 105 announced a contest to find an open-            Petros and band member Jonny Flannes          Why, he could have been some dude’s dad             sional pose.
                                                                                             been. He let his skewed            ing band for its annual Not So Silent Night, six-   spent five hours crafting Dizzy Balloon’s rendi-   who took a wrong door into the place. There              “We talked about it,” said Petros. “I’m
                                                                                             humor work its wonders,            band concert at Oracle Arena on Dec. 11.            tion. They recorded it and sent it to Axelsen,     was no booing and, at the end, respectful           proud of it. It’s fun-sounding. And we’ve got to
                                                                                             spoofs being his delight. “I            Volansky had nothing to lose by throwing       not sure what he had in mind.                      applause.                                           give people what they want. For the time
                                                                                             Shot the Lawyer, but I Did         “My Parachute” out into the mix; perhaps his             Later, at the Cafe du Nord contest, Dizzy          “Afterward in the hallway, people were         being, we’ll do it. You know, it turned new
                                                                                             Not Shoot the Secretary” was       talent would be rediscovered and fate would         Balloon swayed the industry judges and won         shaking my hand and wanting photos taken            people on to our songs. It was definitely pret-
                                                                                             one. “Imagine There’s No           smile again.                                        the playoff. They played five songs, including     with me,” Volansky said. Then he added with         ty crazy, though.”
                                                                                             Yoko” was another.                      His demo was among 116 that Live 105           the energetic “Raise A Glass,” the group’s tour    a smile, “The women wanted to rip my clothes             Over the Christmas holidays the Live 105
                                                                                                 He puts them right down        received. The station selected 25 to put online.    de force and top vote-getter among the fans.       off. They didn’t care about the music. They just    station receptionist put the episode in perspec-
                                                                                             there with “Fifty Ways to          “My Parachute” wasn’t among them, although          They didn’t play “My Parachute” and the song       wanted to fuck the musician.”                       tive, but preferred anonymity.
                                                                                             Bomb Sadaam” and “The              its sheer quirkiness had raised the eyebrows of     wasn’t in their plans.                                  Reaction on YouTube varied. Some sam-               The “goof” song that was “so bad it was
                                                                                             Weight Watchers Theme              station music director Aaron Axelsen. He and             But the next day, “The Woody Show” —          ples: “Why is such a horrible song so awe-          okay” had already fallen out of playing rota-
                                                                                             Song (Every Bite You Take).”       other insiders considered it one of the five        Live 105’s popular 5:30 to 10 a.m. rock pro-       some?” “Pure genius.” “He’s like a comedi-          tion. “It was not something of quality,” he
                                                                                             One cute title after another.      worst entries. And for Axelsen, it was way too      gram — played Dizzy Balloon’s cover. A video       an/singer/librarian.” “This guy is retarded, this   said, “and it’s not like we don’t appreciate him
                                                                                                 But “My Parachute” had         bad to pass up.                                     on the program’s Website shows the staff           song is retarded.” “Suck it.” “I’m proud to say I   (Volansky) or admire him — it was worth-
                                                                                             legs. So he made a video of             Over one week, Live 105 fans voted for         whooping it up and keeping time with waving        saw him play this song last night at NSSN.”         while spending time on it. But it’s here today,
                                                                                             himself singing it, using as       their top five bands to compete Dec. 8 at Cafe      hands as Dizzy Balloon plays. So catchy and             And, “Hey, the dude has heart and balls.”      gone tomorrow. It happens to legitimate
                                                                                             background some aerial             du Nord and be judged by a panel. Among the         Beatles-like, it’s a silk purse.                   Statistically, Volansky’s creation was a success.   artists, too.”
                                                                                             footage from an East Bay           finalists was Dizzy Balloon. The lads had                The day after, Volansky was a guest on        His “My Parachute” version on YouTube that               So who knows, maybe yet another time
                                                                                             sky-diving company. The            cooked together at Piedmont High School and         “The Woody Show” and was invited to play           had limped along six months ago with very           “My Parachute Won’t Open” will get tossed out
                                                                                             result shows him singing and       now as college sophomores they were shuck-          the piece himself on stage at the Not So Silent    few hits, soared during a few weeks in              into the universe and Itzhak Volansky will fly
                                                                                             strumming his guitar, then         ing a year of school to give performing a full      Night show.                                        December to 22,000 hits, the result of the radio    again. ■



 4      C E N T R A L   C I T Y   E X T R A   /   F E B R U A R Y   2 0 0 9                                                                                                                                                                                                            F E B R U A R Y    2 0 0 9    /   C E N T R A L    C I T Y   E X T R A   5

								
To top