Local radio show spreads optimism / Willie Mays turns 90

It's Thursday, May 6th.

Hey there, San Francisco. 

This morning, I chatted with Luke Spray and Chris Bunting, co-hosts of a weekly, San Francisco-centric internet radio show called Roll Over Easy. Are you a listener? 

If not, Roll Over Easy airs live every Thursday morning from 7:30 am to 9:30 am, and it’s worth checking out. Spray and Bunting are characters and a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the history and culture of San Francisco. Above all, they keep things positive. 

“The idea and the ethos of the show is just an optimistic look at San Francisco each week,” Bunting said. “Even in the last year, there's been so many wonderful stories to share… and people just waking up every day and asking themselves, ‘How do I make a positive difference in my environment?’ And we love showcasing that.” 

In the nearly eight years since starting the show, Spray and Bunting said a couple of standout guests include Lena Miller of Urban Alchemy (an organization that provides access to restrooms for people in the city) and John Law, an SF-based neon artist and Burning Man co-founder. 

Their outlook on San Francisco’s future, as you might have guessed, is looking up. 

“San Francisco has a long history of using disaster and crisis to reimagine what the city can be,” Spray said, referencing the 1989 earthquake that led to the Embarcadero Freeway coming down. “You see a lot of folks out there taking advantage of their Slow Streets and making it their own. People that are bringing their families to JFK [Drive] and saying, ‘This is a part of the fabric of the city that we must keep.’” 

Of course, debates are brewing about whether we should keep the parklets and Slow Streets that have sprung up during the pandemic. But as Bunting said, “I don't see us getting rid of these things. They're just too good.” 

You can listen to our full conversation here. Fast-forward to minute 25 to hear Spray and Bunting’s take on their favorite burgers in the city right now. 

And with that… let’s dive into some news… 

The number of tents housing people on San Francisco’s streets is down 65% compared to last year, CBS reported on Wednesday. That statistic appears to be accurate, according to a dashboard the Mayor’s Office shared with us today, which showed 897 tents counted on the streets in April 2020 compared to 289 tents in April 2021. 

However, the Mayor’s spokesperson confirmed that these counts do not include the tents within the city’s sanctioned Safe Sleep sites, which offer services like showers, restrooms, and 24/7 security. As of April, there were 273 “tent spaces occupied” across the city’s six Safe Sleep sites. So while the number of tents housing people on sidewalks may be down 65%, the overall decrease in tents housing people in San Francisco doesn’t appear to be as drastic. 

Also, interestingly, the number of vehicles housing people over the past year increased from 715 vehicles in April 2020 to 877 in April 2021. 

On Thursday, SF Weekly’s Benjamin Schneider wrote a comprehensive piece on the city’s fentanyl crisis that’s worth a read in full. 

One part that stood out was comparing deaths tied to fentanyl versus Covid. Here’s Schneider: 

In 2020, the city recorded 258 COVID-19 deaths and 713 drug overdose deaths. About two thirds of those overdose deaths involved fentanyl. This year is on track to be even more deadly. In the first three months of 2021, the city saw 203 overdose deaths. For context, during that same time period, nine homicides were reported in the city. 

His comparison to alcohol drove home the point regarding the potency of fentanyl: 

Its thousands of forms range from 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, placing it at the top of the opioid food chain. To use an imprecise metaphor: If raw opium is beer, codeine and morphine are wine, and heroin is whiskey, then fentanyl is 195-proof white lightning.

I also liked this thought: 

The city’s largely successful fight against COVID-19 could prove to be a valuable template. If San Francisco is to turn the tide on its overdose epidemic, it will likely take a similarly comprehensive, all-hands-on-deck approach that is commensurate with the growing death toll.

Quick bits: 

  • ✌️ An art piece created by the late Jerry Garcia is being auctioned as an NFT for 309 ETH, or more than $1 million. (Datebook

  • 🎂 Giants’ legend Willie Mays turned 90-years-old on Thursday, and to celebrate the occasion, the Chronicle compiled quotes from Barack Obama to Vin Scully. (Chronicle

And finally… 

Here/Say Media released a good video on Thursday highlighting David Miles Jr., San Francisco’s “Godfather of Skate,” who started the Church of 8 Wheels and has led skating events across the city for over 40 years. 

“Every time something’s going on with skating, I’m doing it,” Miles said. 

I also liked what he said when asked about his roller skating/life philosophy: “Get out there and live life. It might not be skating for you, maybe it’s something else. But it’s that special energy that you need to survive, that makes your life feel worthwhile. You’ve got to find it.” 

That’s all for today! Thanks so much for reading y’all and we’ll see you back here tomorrow. - Nick B. 

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