Barbie Liberation Organization, '90s Culture-Jamming Artists & Activists

One of my favorite art instructors at IU was part of Barbie Liberation Organization (BLO), a culture-jamming group of artists and activists in the early '90s. The group swapped the voice boxes of about 300–500 talking Barbies and G.I. Joes across the country (after purchasing them first) and put them back on the shelves, prompting unsuspecting kids to think deeper about gender stereotypes. The altered Teen Talk Barbie dolls reportedly said phrases such as "Vengeance is mine", and Talking Duke G.I. Joe proclaimed, "The beach is the place for summer."

San Francisco’s ‘TL Bomber:’ Lone Wolf Detonating Bombs in City Streets or Urban Legend?

Local lore has been circulating across social media for over a decade detailing the exploits of San Francisco’s mythical ‘TL Bomber,’ an alleged lone wolf explosives enthusiast who’s been gleefully dropping shockingly loud and powerful explosives in the streets of the Tenderloin/Lower Nob Hill neighborhoods for the past 20-odd years. I compiled a map of reports of neighborhood explosions from 2010–2020 and discovered that the bomber does likely exist, along with a few other groups known for sett

Memoirs: San Francisco Light

This week's SFist Memoirs features Lt. Dwayne Newton of the San Francisco Fire Department, who's also an S.F. native and veteran photojournalist. Dwayne says he owes his passion for photojournalism to growing up in San Francisco in the '60s, from attending anti-war protests and "staring at hippies" to watching Shaft in the theater with his dad and brother at age 12 and consuming every magazine and newspaper he could get his hands on. Take it away, Dwayne!

I'm going to approach this from the per

Memoirs: Pat Montandon, San Francisco's Golden Girl

SFist Memoirs is beyond honored to be featuring the magnanimous Pat Montandon this week and next. Fans of San Francisco high society and local history in general are likely already very familiar with Pat and her unlimited arsenal of Bay Area stories, many of which were documented in her memoir, Oh The Hell of It All. The book was a response to her son's memoir, Oh The Glory of It All, which shined quite a bit of undesirable light on his life growing up with Pat and his father, the late Al Wilsey

"Battery Bridge" Adds "Slice of Nature" to Downtown San Francisco

I love encountering the work of San Francisco's Downtown SF Partnership, which was founded in 2020 in response to the mass closures that took place in the city’s Financial District. In partnership with SITELAB urban studio, Fehr & Peers, and John Bela, the Downtown SF Partnership created the Public Realm Action Plan, which aims to transform the district into a more people-centered and walkable area with the addition of plazas and green spaces that allow for relaxing and socializing.

SF & Illegal Fireworks: Lawlessness, Crackdowns, ’90s Gang Shootout & Shocking Explosion

Dating as far back as the late 1960s, Chinese street gangs have controlled San Francisco’s illegal firework trade, centered around Chinatown. The illegal market hit its peak in the mid-‘80s when illegal firecrackers and explosives could be scored from vendors up and down Grant Avenue or from teenage gang members in Portsmouth Square. In the early ’90s, major crackdowns by police culminated in a gang shootout in the middle of Chinatown on a busy Friday night, followed by a former gang member blow