For two decades, social flaneur, tireless Bay Area booster, wizard of hilarious self-promotion, and essential guardian of all that is cheap and good here (plus very delightful chap who truly cares about the city) Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, has been a solid presence on the scene. I can’t even recall all his shenanigans—running for mayor, publishing Cheap Guides, TV shows, videos, kooky events. He’s packed several lifetimes into the past 20 years, and shined plenty of light on all that is “young, broke, and beautiful” with his expansive website and boundless enthusiasm.
So it’s no wonder he’s throwing a massive celebration (Thu/13, 6:30pm-late, Public Works, SF) with an incredible local lineup, including drag goddess Juanita More, brilliant burlesquer Redbone, Leonard Cohen choir Conspiracy of Beards, theatrical rockers Kate Robichaud and Brendan Getzell, East Bay comics Stroy Moyd and Chris Riggins, legendary DJs Galen and Solar of Sunset Soundsystem, and so many more. Partial proceeds go to Planned Parenthood, and while you’re there, you can pick up a copy of Stuart’s latest zine, which is a collection of 20 years of his writing. Get those tickets here.
I caught upon with the busy little broke bee for a minute to talk about his longevity, his favorite cheap things of the moment, and his HUGE celebration.
48 HILLS 20 Years! Your writing career is old enough to have a child! You could be a literary grandfather! What have you most loved to write about in this wacky city of ours? What’s a favorite piece of yours that you love?
BROKE-ASS STUART Right? My writing career is almost old enough to go to my anniversary party! 😀
Some of my favorite things have been writing about strange and whimsical nature of San Francisco. You know, the things that only happen here and that make this place special. “Living in San Francisco Means…,” and the “Living in San Francisco Means…Redux” really nail this pretty well.
But I’ve also loved writing about things that are really helpful to people too. You know, info they can actually use. One of those was “What to do When Someone is Having a Mental Health Crisis on the Street” which went crazy viral because this happens a lot in this town, and people don’t want to call the cops unless absolutely necessary.
48 HILLS Considering that your SF writing career spans much of the tech transformation of San Francisco, what has been your least favorite thing to write about?
BAS I’m not gonna lie, there is definitely a lot of my writing in the mid 2010s that is mired in the heartbreak of watching the place I love get irrevocably changed. There was—and still is—a lot of anger and sadness surrounding the rapid transformation of SF from a weirdo wonderland where working class people could live and survive, to a tech-fueled dystopia of evictions and greed. To be sure, that is a gross oversimplification of it all, but a lot of my writing dealt with that for a number of years.
So I guess that’s a long way of saying my least favorite thing to write about has been evictions, homelessness, and the closing of local businesses. Sadly, these are also the things that get the most clicks.
48 HILLS Since you are the king of local knowledge (it’s OK, I can be queen) give us some recommendations, especially since everything is in disarray right now and everyone is confused.
A favorite cocktail spot
A favorite cheap restaurant
A favorite place to hear music
A favorite free thing to do
A favorite thing that screams “SAN FRANCISCO”
BAS Oof! This is tough!
Bars: There are so many great drinks and places to quaff them. I spend a lot of time going out in North Beach to classic places like Specs’, Vesuvio, Columbus Cafe, and Tony Nik’s. There’s still the vibes of bohemia floating in the air.
Restaurant: Yamo still might be the best cheap meal in the City.
Music: The Greek Theatre. Does it get more majestic than that?
Thing to do: I go on long walks every day, at least an hour long. It’s my exercise, relaxation, and exploration all rolled into one. And what better city to do that in?
Thing that screams SF: I LOVE It’s-Its! I might be obsessed.
48 HILLS I adore that your party has such a breadth of talent, from Oakland comic Stroy Moyd to the beloved Conspiracy of Beards choir. Tell me what inspired you to bring all these different performers together.
BAS We have such an amazing array of talent in the Bay Area and I wanted this to be a variety show that shows that off. I’m working with the incredible Jenn Stokes of Stokes Live Entertainment (she puts on the Pride main stage each year, among other things,) and she’s helping bring the Broke-Ass Stuart website to life for one night only!
Many of the acts are friends and collaborators of mine over the years. And the ones that I didn’t already know are just incredibly talented people sharing their gifts with the world. How could we not ask them to come join us?
48 HILLS What are one or two hopes for what the next 20 years will bring, for both San Francisco and Broke-Ass Stuart?
BAS I hope that SF builds a shit ton more affordable housing. And I hope that BAS can continue to figure out ways to survive in this very difficult city. Have I mentioned my Patreon? 🙂
BROKE-ASS STUART’S 20TH ANNIVERSARY PARTY Thu/13, 6:30pm-late, Public Works, SF. More info here.