Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Howlin' For You: Meet Jesse Mullan

Jesse Mullan with his favorite beverage at his favorite hangout. 
Much has been written about the Dogpatch neighborhood being a bit like the old Wild West -- not lawless exactly, but certainly a neighborhood in transition.

And if this were still the old West Jesse Mullan would be the publisher of the small town newspaper.

But instead of ink stains on his hands, Mullan, creator of The Dogpatch Howler neighborhood blog, uses his computer to chronicle the events happening in Dogpatch as well as the happening people of Dogpatch.

A better word might be an examiner of the doings in Dogpatch. A reader of his blog will find the art openings and restaurant features typical of many city blogs but Mullan's blog stands out because of his fascination with the history of Dogpatch.

He uses his computer skills to wring as many details about Dogpatch as he can find including all the resources to be found on the Internet such as combing through the records from the Library of Congress to reading police crime reports of the past.

Mullan also detects the old-fashioned way using shoe leather to track down neighborhood landmarks and history books dedicated to this small patch of San Francisco in his quest for that one neighborhood fact that might have escaped notice for all these years.

Our conversation with Mullan took place appropriately enough in a modern day Dogpatch saloon -- Hogan's Goat Tavern.

Why do you do what you do?

I love to write and I love the process of discovery. I truly feel that the history of Dogpatch has not yet been fully explored.

I moved to Mountain View, California from my hometown of Minneapolis about four years ago. It was a bit of a culture shock for me to move from such a large city to such a sleepy one.

Luckily my girlfriend got a job in San Francisco so we made the move to SF in October 2011. I also now work in San Francisco as a software engineer for a start up company.

I read a lot of neighborhood blogs and I thought there should be one about Dogpatch since it is a neighborhood where so much is happening now.

I really enjoy researching the history of this neighborhood. For example, it is hard to discover exactly why the neighborhood is called Dogpatch. The first mention I can find is from 1973. I want to know why this place is here at all and what the people were like who used to live here.

Dogpatch is one of the oldest neighborhoods in San Francisco but not much is known about this area. There is so much mystery here that has not yet been fully explored.

I also have a real interest in genealogy so I guess I love research that involves dead people!
Tattoo of the Loteria Card on Jesse's arm.

Why Dogpatch?

We were lucky enough to find this neighborhood when my girlfriend landed a job with the artist Jim Campbell who has a studio in Dogpatch. We liked the neighborhood so we started looking for an apartment here. We quickly felt comfortable here.

Who is another fascinating person in Dogpatch?

Christopher Webster, the owner of this bar (Hogan's Goat Tavern), is really a pillar of this community. He was a bartender at the Dogpatch Saloon before he took ownership of this place. He has made this not only a great place to meet people for a drink, but also a place where you feel comfortable staying awhile. The vibe is low key and neighborly.

What's an interesting story that has happened to you in Dogpatch?

This story also involves Hogan's Goat Tavern. I met a guy here one night and we got to talking about the neighborhood and he mentioned that he lived nearby and he was in the process of remodeling his house. He actually took me to his house for a tour.

I think that experience sums up how Dogpatch can feel like a small town in a big city.

What would you be doing if you weren't trawling the neighborhood for stories?

Well, I do have my day job but I'm also interested in indie comics as well as genealogy as I already mentioned. I'm also going through the 1940s census that was just released -- I find the history fascinating. Another project I'm working on is helping Pastmapper map every address in San Francisco since 1853.

But I guess if I had to pick one thing only it would be to write open source software code as a public service so I could serve humanity in some way.

Article Written by Patricia Kline, Photos by Scott R. Kline

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