Guardian Intelligence: September 3 – 9, 2014

CASTRO CURTAIN CALL

If your favorite thing about seeing movies at the historic Castro Theatre is hearing the score for that Charlie Chaplin short played on the instrument that would’ve been used when the film actually came out — well, get thee to the movies, and fast. The Castro Theatre’s famous Wurlitzer organ is being sold by its current owner, and will be replaced early next year with an elaborate, one-of-a-kind digital console, with seven keyboards and more than 800 stops, designed by acclaimed organ creator Allen Harrah — pro bono. One trade-off: We’re guessing this will be better for scoring alien movies than its analog counterpart?

THEFT TIMES TWO

It’s a drag to have your car stolen. But if the vehicle is recovered, the high fees you may fork over to get it back only add insult to injury. In San Francisco, police give the owner of a recovered stolen vehicle 20 minutes to retrieve it before sending the car to impound. That’s where the costs add up. Worst-case scenario? The fees rise above the value of the car, and it gets auctioned off. Sup. Scott Wiener has called for a hearing to review the city’s towing policies with respect to stolen cars. The company that operates the city’s impound lot, AutoReturn, is due for contract renewal next year.

TAG, YOU’RE IT!

The neighborhood some call “upper Safeway” has gotten some negative attention lately, but the Friends of Duboce Park Tag Sale — back for its 17th year — is perfectly timed to recharge the area’s community spirit. Last year’s event was hit with an unexpected deluge, so hope for sunny skies Sat/6 and head to the ‘hood’s collective backyard from 9am-2pm for shopping (bargains galore on household items, clothes, sports equipment, books, and more!) and hob-nobbing, with all proceeds going toward improvements to Duboce Park, including its playground. www.friendsofdubocepark.org

SWEET TRIBUTE

Former SF clubkid (now renowned LA artist) Jason Mecier is famed for his celebrity portraits done with junk food and trash — and his tribute to Robin Williams is gaining attention. “It’s Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire, with a Patch Adams nose and a Flubber green background,” Mecier says. “This portrait took over 30 hours to make and is comprised of thousands of candy pieces including Red Vines, Black Licorice, gum balls, Jelly Bellies, Jelly Beans, Tic-Tacs,Gum Drops, Gummy Bears, Sixlets, Mike and Ike’s, Hot Tamales and others. I’ve always wanted to do a portrait of him combining all of his most popular roles. Unfortunately, now was the time to do it.” www.jasonmecier.com

CYCLE UP

San Francisco-style cycletracks — bike lanes physically separated from automobile traffic — could proliferate in cities throughout California under a bill approved today [Fri/29] by the Legislature, provided Gov. Jerry Brown decides to sign it. Assembly Bill 1193, the Protected Bikeways Act, by San Francisco Democrat Phil Ting, was approved today by the Assembly on a 53-15 vote after clearing the Senate on Monday, 29-5. The bill incorporates cycletrack design standards into state transportation regulations, which had previously stated that such designs weren’t allowed. In other bike news, the SF Bicycle Coalition announced that a plan was approved to bring a raised bikeway to Valencia between Cesar Chaves and Duncan Streets next year, creating a buffer between drivers and cyclists.

VOTERS IN THE DARK

Proposed legislation to shed light on who’s bankrolling political campaign ads has been stalled for now. The DISCLOSE Act — which stands for “Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections” — needed a two-thirds vote to pass both houses of the California Legislature, but lacked support. It would have required funders of TV, print, and radio ads, and robocalls, to be clearly identified by closing a loophole that allows them to be disguised by ambiguous committee names. Sen. Mark Leno and other cosponsors vowed to continue the fight next year.

ZOOBORN

On Aug. 26, the SF Zoo welcomed rare newborn twin male giraffes — unfortunately one was too weak to survive, but the other little fellow is doing fine at 100 pounds and 5’6″ tall. The calf’s mother is 11-year-old Bititi, who was born at the Oakland Zoo and made the journey across the bay to live at the San Francisco Zoo in 2005. The father is 12-year-old Floyd, who was born in Albuquerque at the Rio Grande Zoo. We’re looking forward to the naming contest. www.sfzoo.org

PARK ARIAS

One of our favorite picnic singalongs (and “try-to-singalongs”) is coming, as SF Opera’s Opera in the Park hits Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park, Sun/7 at 1:30pm. On the menu? Mozart’s Don Giovanni Overture, Puccini’s “Nessun dorma” from Turandot, and Leoncavallo “Vesti la giubba” from Pagliacci. (You may not know the titles but you’ll recognize the tunes.) Pack a flask of wine and pray for sunshine. www.sfopera.org.

GORGE YOURSELF

The Asian Arts Museum’s “Gorgeous” show (through Sept. 14) is a sugar rush of centuries’ worth of crowd-pleasing art hits, including everything from Jeff Koons’ infamous porcelain portrait of Michael Jackson and pet monkey Bubbles to breathtaking ancient Chinese paintings. The show, produced in partnership with SFMOMA, provides a great introduction to art history for our ADD age; more experienced types will appreciate the chance to linger before Mark Rothko’s “No. 14, 1960” alongside works from artisans of other eras. www.asianart.org