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Posts posted by fauxtog

  1. What can you tell me about the USC owned graduate housing north of campus? Specifically, are any of the apartments better than others?

    i don't recommend it. it's not any cheaper, in fact i think it's pretty over priced, considering the location and the amenities.

    first of all, all the grad housing is embedded in what is referred to as "frat row." so you will be living next to frat houses. and if you know anything about USC greek life you will know that you don't want to live there.

    i've only been inside one grad housing complex and it was kind of depressing. plus it's not like you will be living alone, you will get matched with 1 to 2 roommates, not of your choosing.

    for the same amount of money you can get a decent one bedroom apartment in koreatown or a really nice house share in echo park or silverlake.

    like i said, come early this summer, sublet for 1-2 months and feel it out.

  2. Anyone else attending or attended? What areas are best for public transportation? What neighborhoods are the "up and coming" type? Any advice?

    i'm currently a grad student at USC so I thought i'd offer my two cents.

    i've lived in LA for about 9 months now and I've already moved once. if you can swing it, i highly recommend moving to LA over the summer, subletting a place for like 1-3 months so that you can get a feel for the city, transportation, day to day life, neighborhoods. LA is huge and it can be a bit of a challenge to find your niche (at least in my experience).

    most grad students i know (myself included) live in either koreatown, westlake/macarthur park, echo park/silverlake, or directly north and west of campus in the west adams area. i live on the cusp of koreatown and macarthur park. it's not the worst neighborhood to be in, but it definitely has some downsides. pros: easy commute to campus (i take the bus and it's 30 min or less depending on timing), grocery stores within walking distance, easy to get downtown, adjacent to silverlake, los feliz and echo park. cons: not much "life' around here. if you're looking for a neighborhood with cafes, bookstores, pedestrian friendly, this is not it (but silverlake and echo park and los feliz are close enough to bike or 10 min bus ride).

    westlake/macarthur park is kind of a rough area. i wouldn't say that i feel unsafe, but you certainly have to be aware of your surroundings when walking at night (true for any big city, but especially so for macarthur park area).

    i also know some people who live south of exposition and they really like it. but that has even less going on than koreatown/macarthur park, so you def need a car to go do anything.

    if you're looking to live alone and have reasonable rent, koreatown is your best bet. you can find some reasonable studios in echo park/silverlake, but they're definitely pricier. i live comfortably in a one bedroom. i also don't have a car so i don't have the extra expenses and i chose this area b/c of the short commute.

    what else....a know a few folks who commute from culver city/santa monica. but that sounds like a total drag b/c the 10 (freeway) is a nightmare. in fact, all LA freeways are a nightmare. makes me so glad i don't have a car. honestly, public transit is pretty good around here, and i say this as someone who was born and raised in boston and lived in san francisco for most of my adult life.

    all tolled, if you're on a wicked tight budget your best bet is to live with roommates. you get more bang for your buck (nicer house, nicer neighborhood, cheaper rent), but then you also have to deal with roommates. i prefer to just do my own thing and i can afford to live alone, so i do. but i do sometimes wish i lived in echo park.

    hope this helps. good luck out there.

  3. It is obvious that a few on this forum have strongly negative feelings about SFAI. But it is difficult to know why this is the case given the high level of generality of the criticism. SFAI is only in the top ten for one program – photo, in the top 15 for another – painting, but still this is pretty good out of a total of 220 schools rated by US News and hardly justifies the extreme negativity. A Google search for SFAI MFAs reveals many recent grads who seem to be doing and showing very well. Ryan Hackett, for example, a 2007 MFA has been showing around the country and internationally and was a finalist last year for the Sondheim prize in the mid Atlantic area. FYI, I am not an admissions counselor or otherwise affiliated with SFAI, but I am likely to apply next year. Let's try to be more reasonable. thanks

    hold up. my criticism of sfai is based on my personal experience being an MFA student in the photo department (which is their strongest department next to new media).

    here's a recap of what i am critical of, which i feel are valid complaints:

    1) grad studios are very far from the undergrad building, and you do need to be at both campuses for classes, library use, etc.

    2) the grad studios were sub par in that there were major issues regarding the structure itself: overflowing toilets were the norm, as were frigid temperatures (average 55 degrees indoors). my friends in the painting department couldn't paint because their hands were so cold and wearing large gloves made it impossible to work. as for me, i couldn't stand being in the darkroom in that building because it was just too damn cold to have my hands in and out of cold water and chemistry. so i did the majority of my work in the undergrad darkroom, which was actually much nicer because there were private rooms. but that meant i had to split my time between chestnut and 3rd street every single day.

    3) the faculty are quite disgruntled. and by disgruntled i mean uninterested in their students becuase they are so busy worrying about whether or not they will get paid and/or have a job at the end of the semester.

    to provide further criticism, the administration didn't seem to know its ass from its elbow. there just seemed to be a breakdown in communication from student to admin to faculty.

    i can't compare to CCA b/c i've never seen their studios or encountered their faculty, but i do go to Thee Parkside quite often where many CCA grad students hang out and I never hear them complaining (whereas any time i went out with my cohort, the conversation was almost entirely a long drawn out group rant about how bad the program was).

    just my two cents.

  4. How long does it take to respond to a wait list status update email? It's been three days. I'm starting to freak out a little bit. I think there are a couple possibilities as to what's going on, but I don't think most of them are good:

    1. email was lost

    2. program administrator forwarded the email to someone without giving notification of receipt

    3. ignoring me

    Blah! :huh:

    or they're just super busy (most likely the case).

    if you don't hear back after a total of 7 days ping them again (maybe call this time?)

  5. Hey folks, I'm resurrecting this topic.

    Can someone offer additional information on the following:

    Historic West Adams neighborhood: expensive? reasonable? close to USC?

    Commuting from Culver City/Santa Monica = a total drag?

    The Expo Line (light rail under construction), I've heard various reports about when it's slated to begin service from Downtown (through USC) to Culver City, some say mid 2010, other say 2011. Does anyone know anything about this?

    If you wanted to commute by bike, what would be the best/closest neighborhood to live in that is relatively safe and quiet?

    And lastly, I'll be transplanting from San Francisco, land of cheap farmer's markets. I've heard the Santa Monica farmer's market is pretty expensive. Can someone recommend other farmers markets that are reasonable and easy to get to?


  6. Fauxtog,

    Is it a bad idea to contact schools to inquire about position on the waitlist? Did you inquire of USC or did you wait to hear from them? I didn't apply to USC but just wondering how you were informed.

    Hi Rat, these are important questions.

    I was in touch with the faculty I was interested in working with well before application season began (late Spring 2009). So I have been on there radar for a while now.

    As soon as I found out that I was wait listed I knew it was important to remind them how interested I am in their programs. I wrote brief, concise and honest messages to all of the adcomm faculty who had notified me, and was sure to thank them for the notification, as well as my other POIs. two adcomm faculty at the 3 schools I was/am wait listed at offered phone dates, which I gladly took them up on (oddly enough, USC was the only school I did not talk on the phone with after I expressed my interest in staying on the wait list, but I did exchange very nice emails with the DGS and another POI on the adcomm).

    I made a note of a) expressing my interest in the program and was sure to be scpecific about why i wanted to attend the program (faculty, resources, etc) B) alerting them to my wait list status at the other schools (too make it seem like i'm desirable) and c) updating them on new revelations (that i had been invited to participate on a panel at an upcoming ethnic studies conference).

    I did all of this without 1) sounding desperate or 2) being pushy. These emails were crafted, but not over thought. And during my phone conversations I stayed calm yet enthusiastic, and also gave them a better sense of who I am as a person (humor, outlook, spoken communication, etc). in many ways i feel as though these phone calls were just as much about them getting a read on me as i was in gleaning info on them. ya dig?

    so, all that said, if you have not been in touch to reiterate your interest, you should do so ASAP.

    as for asking where you stand on the wait list: i wasn't ashamed to ask this, because it's very important for you to know this, especially if you're weighing other offers. be sure to ask politely (i recommend phrasing it more as how the wait list functions, rather than "what are my chances, doc??!?!"). FYI, all three programs said the same thing: the wait list is not ranked, there are three people on the wait list, we have x number of spots and we admitted y. a little math and presto! you know what your chances are.

    good luck to you! i know it sucks being wait listed, i was wait listed across the board (with one rejection). but just stay positive and do your homework and something should work out. if not, then definitely re-apply next year b/c your chances will be much, much better.

    there, i've harangued you long enough. GOOD LUCK!

  7. YES! Congratulations! I am soo happy for you!! I can't wait to hear about all the great things you do there!

    Ok...now can the good energy keep flowing and get me off my waitlist? :D


    i'm sending those good vibes your way, nenanubes! and to everyone who is on a wait list somewhere: stay positive! anything is possible :) there are three long weeks left for decision makers to make their decisions. sit tight!!!

  8. i just learned i've been accepted with funding to my second choice program :)

    i was very good about being in touch with faculty, both on and off the adcomm, and expressed my interest without sounding desperate or pushy. and it paid off :)

    keep the hope up you guys! anything is possible between now and may!

  9. C’mon guys – let’s try to be more balanced in our statements about SFAI and CCA.

    SFAI did not experience a “financial collapse.” It is operating in the black. It awarded some $8.6 M in scholarships in 2008, according to its most recent IRS Form 990. SFAI owns publicly traded securities of nearly $10M. If SFAI had experienced a financial collapse five years ago it would not now be rated #7 for photo or #14 for painting, or even #30 overall. The difficulties caused by the financial meltdown in the Fall of 2008 affected most schools including for example, MICA, which at one point announced a freeze on salaries and RISD, which laid off staff. However, markets have recovered and schools are doing better now.

    It is not the case that most or even many faculty ever transferred to CCA. There has always been some movement in both directions. However, adjunct faculty frequently teach at several schools. SFAI has fantastic, famous grad faculty including George Kuchar, the filmmaker, Renee Green, artist and author, Hou Hanru, who has curated many international biennials , and many others. SFAI would not he so highly rated if most faculty had left.

    The SFAI graduate center is not all that distant from the undergraduate Chestnut St. campus. In addition to public transportation, it is about a 45 minute walk, or a very doable bike ride around the hills --- when you would need to go to Chestnut St. All the graduate tutorials and seminars are at the grad center. This criticism makes no sense as a comparison to CCA, if that was the point, since the CCA undergraduate campus is in Oakland. The Chestnut St. building is awesome with the rooftop café with an unbelievable view of SF Bay, among other features. The Russian Hill neighborhood is great, though most grads will be spending most of their time at the grad center.

    The claim that the SFAI grad center is unsafe late at night, even if true, is not saying much. The grad center area is no more unsafe late at night than most areas of any major city. The grad building is relatively new, and the studios are fine. The neighborhood is clean. What struck me when I visited was only that there was an absence of street life and café’s etc. that you might find in other trendy parts of San Francisco.

    SFAI is a leading art school, very highly rated among 220 schools. It has an impressive visiting artist program. CCA is also fine.

    unless you're speed balling, walking from 3rd st to the main campus would NOT take 45 minutes. it would take at least twice that long. it's 4-5 solid miles from point a to point b.

    also, i hate to break it to you but you're seriously wrong about the safety of the dogpatch neighborhood. there have been numerous shootings, knifings and muggings on and around 3rd street, including in potrero hill (where cca is). the point is that you really have to be aware of your surroundings. my old roommate was mugged at gunpoint in potrero hill and a second roommate was caught in the cross fire of a shooting when he was just out walking his dog one evening (this was where potrero hill and dogpatch meet).

    i didn't comment on the caliber of the school (faculty, classes). but i i do have serious criticisms about the facilities and the administration. as for renee green, i'll just say she wasn't very popular while i was attending.

    in my opinion SFAI is riding a wave of it's past glory days.

  10. Depends on what you're looking for in a display and how much you'd like to spend. At the moment, I'm waiting for HP to release the zr24w which will retail around $375 - $425. It's supposed to be out at the end of this month or early next. That monitor is 24" and it's little brother is about 22" at $289.

    Also, if you're pretty anal about colors on a laptop, then I would steer clear of the 13" mbp and go straight for the 15". It's been a while, but I read that the 13" displays less color than the 15". I'd look into it more since I don't really remember the specifics.

    hmmm good to know about the 13inch vs 15inch. i was a master printer at a high end film and digital portrait studio so i'm pretty good about color managing even under less then ideal conditions (my powerbook screen has a lovely magenta cast and the bottom left corner is sometimes 75% darker than the rest of the screen). i don't trust monitors much regardless of who makes them because they're all pretty deceptive due to backlighting. i work in print on demand publishing now and i have to argue with people constantly about how their monitors are lying to them.

    thanks for the tip about the new HP display. i'll look into it.

  11. Of course you could also just get an external monitor/mouse/keyboard only and keep using your laptop. THat would the cheapest solution to improve work at home while allowing on-the-go computing.

    i've been contemplating this option.

    i have a 15inch powerbook g4 from 2005 that has been showing its age lately. i just re-installed the OS and that helped out a lot. but still, i live in constant fear that one day she will just go ape shit. i've get everything important backed up on multiple drives, but still, i'm extremely cautious of the durability of any drive. it is, after all, just a bunch of 1s and 0s.

    i think this may be a bit more anxiety inducing for me because i'm a photographer. when i re-installed i lost my bootlegged photoshop and i just don't have the cash to buy it at the moment. and trying to hunt down a free bootleg is just not worth the effort at this point.

    in any event, i will need a new system in the next year. i like the 13inch MBP but it's just way too small: the ergonomics are nightmarish. but it's so portable!

    i'd like to invest in the high end 15inch MBP; the double whammy processor is dyn-o-mite for image/multimedia work. but again, craptastic ergonomics, plus it's heavier and a bit more awkward to stuff into your messenger bag along with the rest of your life.

    i know other photographers who use the 13 inch with a monitor and external keyboard set up and it seems to work wonderfully for them. so that is most likely the route i will be taking. soonish. eventually. whenever.

    now, let's talk price. the 13 inch is stupidly affordable. but the mere $200 increase for the 15 inch is deceptively alluring. can anyone speak to the this? i read up somewhere (mac rumors? can't remember) on all the speed and performance breakdowns for all the current MBP models and it seems the average speed increases only by about 8% between each of the different processor speeds. so that begs the question, is it really worth 2 inches of screen and/or 8% of speed?

    either way, any of the new MBPs will be like a mustang in comparison to my current set up.

    also, i would love to hear some suggestions for a good display set up? alternatives to the apple display? it's just way too pricey.

  12. i'm wait listed at 3 out of 4 schools and rejected from 1 (ironically the rejection is for my last choice program). it's a real drag. lately i've just sort of given up hope and resigned myself to sticking it out at the brain dead corporate job for another year. but at least once a day i indulge in the fantasy of acceptance, which is just a set up for disappointment.

    i feel like since i'm on 3 wait lists there's a good chance i will get in to at least one. all three programs are well renowned with excellent faculty, so it mainly comes down to location and funding. i just hope it's my 1st or 2nd choice, and not my 3rd. if it's just my 3rd choice i feel like i'd be doing myself a bit of a disservice if i didn't try again for my top 2.

    alas, alack. i'll just have to wait and see.

  13. Damn Thanks a lot! Yeah I have a few friends in the area, One friend suggested Petrero Hill as a good place to look. I got in at CCA some I would be looking for stuff reasonably close to there. Good to know about the BART, I didnt know it was slow and a freak show. I would be moving with my GF so prob not looking for roommates (ideally). I really want to move out there and the expense is the scariest part honestly. Thanks again, we are going to start looking for places online.


    bart and muni are totally separate things. bart can be a freak show too, but not as much as muni.

    potrero is nice and sunny, but is definitely pricier than the mission or lower haight. it's a relatively easy commute to cca from the mission or lower haight, and it's relatively flat so you can always bike it too.

    also, here's a tip: when apartment hunting, be sure to check for signs of mold. SF is notorious for moldy apartments and it's no fun to find dark black mold growing on your walls or your stuff. potrero hill is fairly dry and sunny, but it does happen. it's more likely in the mission. basically, the farther west you are, the more likely you will be to have mold (north/west=fog, wind, damp, south/east=sun, sun, sun).

    if you do end up in the mission/potrero area, here is my list of favorites

    thee parkside. my local dive, beer garden, bike and dog friendly, super chill, punk shows, lots of cca students hang there.

    chez maman. the most amazing burger of your life

    farley's coffee. one size fits all.

    just for you. mmmmm brunch.

    universal cafe. mmmmmmmmm brunch.

    st francis fountain or boogaloos. mmmmmmmmmmmm brunch.

    coffee bar. it's where you go to get your telecommute on. delicious sandwiches and americanos.

  14. spaced out:

    well, that all depends on a) how much you are prepared to spend and B) and how long you want to commute. SF is a very expensive town (i currently live there) and the housing market is just straight up bonkers.

    unless you get an apartment within walking distance to SFAI, you will be commuting either by MUNI (public transit) or by bike (if you dare. ps. SFAI is in Russian hill. and when I say hill I mean it). a standard MUNI commute can be anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours.

    just so you know, MUNI is in the slow and painful process of falling apart. services have been cut and fares have been hiked and now buses just don't seem to show up. i've been late for work more times than i can count because there are 40 and sometimes 60 minute gaps in service. and i'm lucky that i only have to take one bus to work! most people have to take two or three.





    in short: MUNI is a bona fide freak show. John Waters, who is a resident of SF, enjoys riding MUNI for its entertainment value. that should give you a pretty good idea of what i mean by "freak show." now i'm not talking drag queens, i'm talking about foaming at the mouth junkies who smell like pee and whip their dick out in front of you, or crazy dudes who are off their meds and try to smash their head, or your head, or whoevers head is closest, through the nearest window.

    moving on. if you want to live close to SFAI be prepared to shell out upwards of $2500 for a one bedroom in the surrounding neighborhoods. if you're like most normal folks, you can't afford that. in which case you'd want to find more reasonable housing in the following, neighborhoods:

    tenderloin (look it up, it's only for the brave of heart)

    SOMA (same as above)

    lower nob hill (sometimes referred to as tender nob b/c it borders the loin, not a bad place, just gotta stay frosty)

    mission (if you're a hipster)

    lower haight (hipster, more reasonable rent than most places, but watch out for the projects and junkies)

    if you're desperate for cheaper rent, you'll most likely be looking in the western addition (with many of it's micro neighborhoods, again, can be dicey due to not so pleasant race relations mostly having to due with the encroachment of young white kids on the neighborhoods directly abutting some of the SF's worst projects. often referred to as gentrification)

    if you dont' mind a longer commute you can find much cheaper housing in the inner and outer richmond and/or sunset. but it's socially dead out there, foggy, and you'll be looking at an hour + commute to anywhere you'd want to be (school, hang out, etc)

    if you're looking to share with roommates you can expect to pay anywhere from $700 (for a small divey room) to $1300 (yes, for a room in a shared apartment). of course, there are reasonably priced, safe and pleasant places to live, but it will take a while to find them and often times you need an insider to get you in (friend of a friend type thing). my suggestion is start your housing search early (like 2-3 months ahead) and don't panic and take the first thing that comes your way. trust me: moving in this city is a real drag, so hold out until you find something right. and by right i also mean the roommates.

    what else. oh yeah, if you're going to CCA's campus in the city, potrero hill can have some great places, but it's also extremely pricey. if you know people in the area who will be renting it is possible to find a great place to live there. i currently live in potrero hill and i just adore it, but i got a hand me down apartment so i was very lucky on reasonable rent. dogpactch is on the other side of potrero hill (where the SFAI wasteland is) and you can find an odd mix of run down dives, reasonable cute victorians, and filthy stinking rich lofts, but very little ambiance. a great breakfast join (just for you! that's what it's clalled) a dive bar, a really bad BBQ place and that's about it. either way you can expect to pay about $900 to $1300+ for potrero/dogpatch.

    hmmm, i hope this isn't overwhelming you. i highly recommend checking out sfist.com to get a sense of the daily happenings in this city. i love SF to pieces, but sometimes it's just too expensive to live! and then the junkies depress me. but on the whole, it's a wonderful and unique place. with the BEST street food! which reminds me: ALWAYS buy a tamale from the TAMALE LADY. she circulates several bars and her tamele's are THE BEST. she always goes to Zeitgeist, so you should too :)

    good luck to all!

  15. As a former MFA candidate in photo at SFAI (whose roommate was in the painting program) I have to warn you:


    Also, I HIGHLY recommend visiting both schools before making a decision. I can't speak to CCA's grad studios, but SFAI's grad studios are horrible: it's an old industrial building very far (45 min bus ride if you get the timing right, an hour+ during rush hour) no natural light, no heat (and it's freeeeeeeeezing inside), toilets that overflow all the time, and not a safe place to be late at night. As for the grad "gallery" at the grad building, if you consider an unmarked, windowless room with sloppily re-painted white walls in an unmarked industrial building in the industrial wasteland that is 3rd-St-San-Francisco a gallery, then you'll love it.

    Sorry to be harsh, but I found SFAI to be a total scam. Also, when I attended I was no aware of the shady recent history of the school. The former president (about 7-10 years ago or so) had embezzled millions of dollars from the school, all of which was unrecoverable. When the school found out the president killed herself. By the time the administration realized they had been bleeding cash, it was way too late. They ended up selling the original grad studios (which used to reside down the street from the Chestnut undergrad campus, but is now owned by the Academy of Art), and stuck the grad students in the purgatory that is 3rd St. In addition to selling the grad studios to the (evil, parasite-like) Academy of Art, the school has just been cutting corners ever since. The faculty are disgruntled too, many of them weren't paid for last years Spring semester and several have been pink slipped.

    I know times are tough, but SFAI started to fall apart well before the financial crisis. I would not consider it a safe bet at this point.

    However I have heard rumors of a SFAI/CCA merger. So, who knows what kind of state CCA is in...

    Just my $0.02.

  16. i second that emotion on the Chrome bag. i have a mid sized one and i love it. it's the most comfortable messenger bag i've tried and i prefer it to a backpack. then again, i do commute by bike, so a messenger bag just makes more sense (backpacks make it hard to look over your shoulder while biking, at least for me).

    they tend to be bit pricey, but they are definitely unique and can hold an absurd amount of stuff. not to mention you could be stuck in a downpour for over an hour and everything would still be dry inside. they offer backpack style bags as well. and the uber padded strap is well worth the investment.

    on a side note: when i have a bit of extra cash i would like to invest in one of those nice leather bags that makes professors look so snazzy carrying around campus :D

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