Volume 40 Number 35

May 31 – June 6, 2006

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A simple, fair tenant bill




A simple, fair tenant bill




Legislation that would ban landlords from arbitrarily eliminating services or restricting access to common space in residential units is likely to get seven votes at the Board of Supervisors June 6th. It’s also likely to get a mayoral veto. So tenant advocates ought to be putting the pressure on Sup. Bevan Dufty, who is one of the mayor’s allies – but is also in a district where a majority of the voters are renters.


The bill, by Sup. Ross Mirkarimi, would end what some tenants say is a growing practice: Landlords suddenly take away parking spaces, access to laundry facilities, or the use of storage space, in the hope that it will drive out tenants who are protected by rent control. The current law forbids evictions without “just cause” – but that provision apparently doesn’t apply to anything other than the actual place where a tenant lives.


There are all sorts of opportunities for abuse here: A landlord could evict a tenant from his or her parking or storage space, then offer to rent it back at a high price. Or those sorts of amenities could be doled out to tenants who never complain about living conditions, and withheld from tenants who try to exercise their rights. Or – most likely – a landlord desperate to get rid of a tenants who is paying below-market rent could take away every possible amenity until that tenant gives up and moves away, allowing the landlord to raise the rent for the next tenant.


The fix is simple, and won’t cost landlords any extra money. Mirarimi’s bill is just basic fairness: If you offer a garage as part of the original rental deal, you can’t suddenly take it back without a valid reason. If you include on-site laundry facilities as part of the lease, you can’t arbitrarily lock the door to the laundry room and give only certain favored tenants a key.


Dufty is up for re-election this fall, and is almost certain to face some serious opposition from the left. With three of the mayor’s four allies – Sean Ellsernd, Michela Alioto-Pier and Finoa Ma – pretty much immovable, Dufty’s been in a position to make or break legislation by being the eighth vote to make a bill veto-proof. And since Newsom has vetoed every significant piece of tenant legislation to come before him, Dufty needs to feel the heat: Is he on the side of tenants – when it matters?


This one is a great test case: The legislation is so simple and fair, it’s hard to imagine how a reasonable landlord could oppose it. Let’s see if Dufty’s willing to stand with the tenants on one that ought to be a no-brainer. Give him a call, at 554-6968.


Dastardly dailies


Why oh why does San Francisco have such terrible daily newspapers? In one of the most progressive cities in the country, why must we be subjected to Carla Marinucci’s regular hit pieces on the most liberal candidate in any race on the Chronicle’s front pages, or Examiner columnist Ken Garcia’s sanctimonious, truth-challenged screeds against progressives? Why do these papers so consistently sabotage human progress?
If you’re looking for evidence of the Chron’s political agenda, just read Marinucci’s two front-page stories in the last two days, both of which made the exact same accusation against gubernatorial hopeful Phil Angelides: The stories said rich developer Angelo Tsakopoulos was trying to buy the election, and a future governor’s allegiance, with about $9 million worth of independent expenditures favoring Angelides.
Such editorial overkill is clearly designed to hurt Angelides and help his Chronicle-endorsed challenger, Steve Westly. Why else would both articles bury or ignore key facts in the story?
Tsakopoulos isn’t the political neophyte Marinucci pretends he is. He’s actually been one the top regular contributors to Democrats for almost a generation (Bill Clinton used to stay with Tsakopoulos during California visits throughout his presidency); he’s also a close friend and mentor to Angelides, not simply someone trying to buy his way into a position of influence. Tsakopoulos already had Angelides’ ear; he didn’t need to spend a dime to get it.
I’m certainly not arguing that sizable independent expenditures aren’t notable, worrisome, or newsworthy. In fact, the Guardian this week reported that Sup. Fiona Ma has benefited from more than $750,000 in IEs on her behalf, most of that from the same sorts of corporate power brokers that the Chronicle regularly supports.
So why didn’t this story make the Chronicle’s front page even once, let alone on two consecutive days the week before the election? After all, the money spent on Ma’s behalf was a far higher percentage of the campaign spending in that race – and will likely have a bigger impact – than what Tsakopoulos spent on the governor’s race.
And it came from sources who really do have an interest in influencing Ma – the tobacco and liquor lobbies, gaming interests, developers, and her old boss, John Burton, who wants to retain his power broker status.
Maybe one reason is the fact that the Chronicle endorsed Ma and has been running the very attack ads that these IEs paid for (which, not so coincidentally, run right next to the web versions of Marinucci’s stories).
Another reason could be Marinucci’s barely concealed schoolgirl crush on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who her articles have described in terms that are flattering and deceptive (see “Couple in the news," www.sfbg.com/40/17/news_shorts.html). It happens again and again. Just pop over to sfgate.com, do a search using “Marinucci and Schwarzenegger” and you’ll see what I mean.
I sent an e-mail to Marinucci and five Chronicle editors raising these points, and here was Marinucci’s response: “As a longtime reader of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, I’m going to refer you to a wonderful motto which I know your publisher, Bruce Brugmann, and many of the people on your staff understand. It’s on your paper’s masthead: "It is a newspaper’s duty to print the news and raise hell.”
    “It’s absolutely your right not to like our stories. Sometimes, the candidates — Republicans and Democrats — don’t like them either.  There’s no hidden agenda or anything else in play, another than another old newspaper motto that Brugmann also understands well: that we do the job "without fear or favor, regardless of party, sect, or interest involved."
I responded that her quotes didn’t seem to answer my questions, particularly because the second one seems to directly contradict her approach to political coverage, in which she seems to reserve her attacks for the most liberal candidate in any race. But she didn’t respond to my follow-up questions. 
We at the Guardian have our own bias – a progressive bias – and we spend more column-inches helping our friends and hurting our enemies than the other way around. It’s something we’ve always been honest about, unlike the Chronicle, which pretends to the high standard of “objectivity.” We strive for fairness to all sides and don’t apologize for advocating the broad public interest.
But we have no self-interest in our approach. We don’t like Ma’s opponent, Janet Reilly, because she’s going to defend our corporate interests in Sacramento. We like her simply because she’s far smarter and more progressive than Ma. And we don’t like the IEs attacks on her because they attempt to fool voters into believing just the opposite – deceptively misrepresenting where these two candidates fall on the political spectrum — something all newspapers should actively oppose.
Yet neither Ma, Marinucci, Garcia, nor any of the wealthy interests they represent seem to have much regard for the truth, at least around election time. I suppose that’s their prerogative, and perhaps just the nature of the beast. But San Franciscans deserve better, and they should be offended that they aren’t getting it from their daily newspapers.    

Ma’s moneybags


› amanda@sfbg.com

As many predicted, late independent expenditures on behalf of District 12 California Assembly candidate Fiona Ma are flooding into the race, aimed at tarnishing her opponent, Janet Reilly, with Web ads, TV spots, and mailers. To date, more than $750,000 has been spent by nine IE committees supporting Fiona Ma. In addition to the million dollars flowing through her campaign’s piggy bank, that bumps her into the bucks-deluxe category of the 2006 primaries.

More than $500,000 comes from the Sacramento-based Leaders for an Effective Government, which got its initial funding from Ma’s former boss and current political benefactor, powerful former senator John Burton. The other eight IEs are Californians United, Professional Engineers of California Government, Cause Law Enforcement Independent Expenditure Committee, San Francisco Association of Realtors, Peace Officers Research Association, Committee for a Better California, Teachers United with Firefighters and Correctional Officers, and Asian American Small Business PAC. All are based in Sacramento or Los Angeles and have an incestuous web of contributing organizations, in some cases with the same contact information (none of which returned Guardian phone calls).

The Reilly campaign made a big stink back in April when Leaders for an Effective Government spent $33,000 on pro-Ma mailers. The campaign filed complaints on April 27 with state attorney general Bill Lockyer, San Francisco district attorney Kamala Harris, and the Fair Political Practices Commission, claiming an illegal connection between the IE, Burton, and the Ma campaign. It still stands by those concerns, citing a state law that bans coordination between an IE and the campaign its spending benefits.

"Bullshit," Burton told the Guardian when asked about the complaints filed by the rival campaign. As far as his relationship to Ma’s campaign goes, he said, "I don’t have a fucking story. I’m helping her campaign." He claimed no connection to the half million spent on her behalf, but did admit to being a big early benefactor of Leaders for an Effective Government.

Ma is benefiting from the lion’s share of that IE’s spending, although it also spent $33,900 on the Johan Klehs campaign for California Senate. While Districts 18, 45, and 69 are seeing a lot of financial activity, no other Assembly race comes close to touching Ma’s IE total, with the second highest clocking in around $300,000.

"It could be the most expensive primary race ever," Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, told us.

While an IE’s intervention probably isn’t illegal, "it has made campaigns dirtier," said Theis Finlev, a policy advocate for Common Cause. IEs have found new life breathing the polluted air of Proposition 34, passed in 2000 with the good intention of capping amounts of campaign contributions to control the financial investments of special interests. Unlike with campaigns, there’s no limit on how much an individual can contribute to an IE.

"The point of limits is to look like you’re not beholden to anyone, but this is a huge economy with many interests concerned about what happens in Sacramento," said Finlev. In addition to having no spending limits, IE committees disclose contributors at different intervals from campaigns and typically don’t start spending money until weeks before the election.

"It’s like a shell game," Finlev said. "Wealthy contributors can hide until after the election is over."

When asked about the money IEs are spending for Ma, campaign spokesperson Tom Hsieh aligned it with Reilly’s use of personal finances. "Janet and Clint Reilly have spent over $300,000 to date. They’ll probably spend another $400,000 to $500,000 by the end of the election," he conjectured.

Reilly spokesperson Eric Jaye said it was unlikely they’d spend much more: "She’s near the limit. If she has to search the couches, she will."

"We’ve been outspent in the last four weeks at least two to one," Reilly told us. She hopes to keep up financially, but she was critical of the contributing sources of the IEs. "It’s the tobacco lobby, the liquor lobby, large developers, gaming industries, spending unprecedented amounts of money getting Fiona Ma elected."

"I believe the campaigns are equalized by those contributors," Hsieh said, but claimed no control over any of them. "Fiona does not support any of those industries." He said there wasn’t much they could do about the fortuity of hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent to support Ma.

"People in this district should be making the decision," Reilly concluded. "Not the Sacramento insiders." SFBG

Cloud 8


› le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS I had pretty much settled on spending a quiet night at home with a big bowl of popcorn and my new dehumidifier, but then I accidentally called Earl Butter and he said, in effect, "Do you know what time it is? What are you doing home? Get the hell in your pickup truck and get here."

"OK, yes," I said. "Bye."

It was Friday night. Almost all our friends in the world were playing at the Make-Out Room, for the Mission Creek Festival. Everyone was going to be there. I don’t know what I had been thinking, but I stopped thinking it, grabbed my toothbrush, patted Weirdo the Cat on the head, turned the dehumidifier all the way up, kissed the chickens on their beaks, and drove to the city with a big bowl of popcorn in my lap.

It’s an hour-and-a-half ride. I tried to think of it as a movie, an expensive and dark movie. About traffic. That may sound dull, but if you think of it in comparison to a date with a dehumidifier … well, it’s still pretty dull.

Anyway, I’m not a movie reviewer. I made it to the Mission in time to catch the back half of the show and to hug everybody and smile a lot and talk too much until my face hurt and I was losing my voice again.

And then when the live music ended (early), we all went to Little Him’s house and called it a party, and there were more songs, and tacos for me, from 24th Street, because I was all done drinking. When I can’t drink anymore, I start eating tacos. And in this way the party in my mind never stops.

It got late, Jolly Boy carted me and Earl back to 611, and I made me a cozy little nest in the closet and slept like a little baby bird, my dreams all a-flit with flowers and trees, butterflies, and other enchanted forestry. I’m going to tell you something: Love was in the air. At the Make-Out Room, at the after party, in the darkness in this closet. It had nothing to do with me, but it did have to do with my dearest friend in the whole wide world and my new favorite old friend, and the whole evening, in the songs, in the beer, in the blah blah blah even in the tacos there had been this sort of sizzle.

Compare that to dehumidification.

I was on Cloud 8. Still am, and I would like to tip my bandanna to Bikkets and the Neverneverboy, bless their big big goofy grins, tired eyes, and infecting electricity.

But I’m not a gossip columnist, so I woke up with an oniony tacover, extricated myself from the closet, and mumbled to Earl Butter, who was in the big room watching cartoons, "Coffee."

He turned off the TV.

We knocked on Jolly Boy’s door on our way out and he joined us at Java Supreme (Coffee: still a buck. Still!) Well, you can only leaf through a newspaper for so long on a Saturday morning in the Mission before you start thinking of Chava’s.

Jolly Boy broached the subject: "Whatever happened to Chava’s?"

Burnt down. Reopened between 24th and 25th on Mission, Earl and I answered in little bits and pieces. Disastrous atmosphere, basically a taquer??a, still great food. Almost in unison, we all stood up and started walking in that direction, with the understanding that it was a long way to walk and we would keep our eyes open for any better ideas along the way.

A better idea: La Quinta, my new favorite Mexican restaurant, on Mission between 20th and 21th. It has the feel of what Chava’s used to feel like. Family, old-school, everybody’s smiling, huge plates of food, cool, colorful, fruity paintings on the wall, a counter … A counter!

We sat at a table and fell in love with the place. I got birria ($7.50), and the goats were tender and less gristly than usual not that I have anything against gristle. But I know you do. Jolly Boy got huevos rancheros ($6.50), and Earl ordered some kind of thing with softened tortilla chips all scrambled up with eggs and stuff. I got to taste everything and everything was great. The tabletop chips were fresh and the salsa was delicious.

You know what, I think it’s cheaper than most places this day and age too. Check this out: Weekdays, between 7 and 11 a.m., you can get huevos rancheros, or other egg dishes, for $4.75. That’s with rice, beans, and homemade tortillas, and that’s just freakin’ beautiful.<\!s><z5><h110>SFBG<h$><z$>

La Quinta

Daily, 7 a.m.–<\d>7 p.m.

2425 Mission, SF

(415) 647-9000

Takeout available




Wheelchair accessible

San Francisco Black Film Festival


REVIEW Other local fests may grab more attention, but the ever-growing San Francisco Black Film Festival, now in its eighth year, is well worth seeking out for its consistently strong and diverse programming. The opening night film, Son of Man, sets the story of Jesus Christ in modern South Africa; other narratives (features and shorts) in the fest explore family ties, romance, and social issues. However, SFBFF’s most fascinating entries come in the form of its many documentaries, which take on everything from the origins of AIDS to maverick filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles whose cinematic portrait bears the fest’s wittiest title, How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (And Enjoy It). Micah Schaffer’s moving, insightful Death of Two Sons explores the eerily parallel lives of Amadou Diallo the unarmed Guinean immigrant gunned down in 1999 by trigger-happy NYPD officers while innocently reaching for his wallet and a white American Peace Corps volunteer stationed in Diallo’s home village. The aftermaths of both men’s deaths (Diallo’s killers were acquitted; the African cabdriver who caused the fatal crash served jail time) speak troubling volumes about race-relations-as-international-relations. Another well-made doc that spins an often infuriating tale is The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till, which mixes vintage footage with contemporary interviews in its detailed look at the 1955 murder that’s credited with launching the modern civil rights movement. (Cheryl Eddy)


See Film Listings (below) for additional information

Ficks’s picks (and one no-pick) at Cannes


1. John Cameron Mitchell’s midnight premiere of his sensitively X-rated Shortbus not only roused the Palais’s audience to a 15-minute standing ovation (a legendary feat); it brought out some of the deepest tears I have shed in my short life. Warning: The MPAA (which we now finally understand, due to Kirby Dick’s revolutionary exposé This Film Is Not Yet Rated) won’t know where to start with this sucker. It’s much more than the graphic sex; it’s the graphic honesty.

2. William Friedkin’s schizo-thriller Bug built to such a creepy and intense climax that dozens of viewers were screaming at the top of their lungs, freaking me out almost as much as Lynne Collins and Ashley Judd’s performances. Friedkin graciously accepted the comparison that someone made to the last 30 minutes of his 1971 classic The Exorcist. Yep, it’s that fucked up.

3. Fans of the transcendental cinema movement from South America (La Ciénaga, La Niña Santa, Los Muertos) have another reason to live with Paz Encina’s heavenly Hamaca Paraguaya. The film watches a couple as they softly pass the days, waiting for their son to come home from a war. Dozens walked out; the rest of us enjoyed quite the quiet masterpiece.

4. Nobody even those of you who skipped his subversively brilliant remake of The Bad News Bears should miss Richard Linklater’s brave adaptation of Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation. It tackles the current circle of corporate consumption, from hiring illegal immigrants to unsafe working conditions to the processing of feces in your most favorite hamburgers (which ultimately get served to you by the apathetic future of America). This movie is required viewing for every single teenager as well as all y’all who think you know how bad things really are.

5. Donnie Darko writer-director Richard Kelly’s second film, Southland Tales, was the biggest disappointment of the festival (if not the decade!). This 2 hour and 40 minute disaster does almost everything wrong: Its pathetic politics are high schoolcoffee shop theories; its convoluted story lines are utterly irrelevant; and lastly (and most surprisingly), the characters come off as hollow, one-note ideas that either get one interesting sequence (Justin Timberlake singing a Killers cover) or many useless scenes (featuring Janeane Garofalo, Miranda Richardson, and Wallace Shawn, to name a few). Ironically including many exSaturday Night Live stars, this extravaganza comes off as an out-of-breath bad TV show. Ouch. (Jesse Hawthorne Ficks)

Shooting the shit


(Electronic Arts; PS2, Xbox)

GAMER Black is a first-person shooter game in which you play a soldier killing for some kind of shadowy government "special ops" group. Games like this are a little strange politically. They always seem to have some kind of subtext geared for Ruby Ridge types. Creepy. The makers of Black, however, were good enough to make the enemies white, at least. Apparently Russia is still some kind of threat to America. Whatever.

After getting past the weird ideas behind such a game, Black has a lot going for it. It’s easy enough to play, so that within minutes you are wasting the bad guys and surviving long enough to make it to the next mission with a minimum of learning and relearning. It’s all pretty intuitive. More important, basically anything you shoot anything either gets damaged or explodes. It’s awesome. I’m always disappointed with these games when I shoot a building and nothing happens. Here the shit falls down. Walls cave in, oil tanks explode, huge plumes of flame shoot up into the sky. Also, when you kill a guy, his body stays where it is it doesn’t magically disappear, like it usually does in other games.

I like first-person shooter games a lot. A good one has to have

1. Carnage factor. This includes spurting blood, killing, the way characters fall down when hit, environmental destruction (as mentioned, Black has an unprecedented amount of this), killing, the occasional disorientation or overwhelming of the player, and killing. The first level of Medal of Honor: European Assault, where there are fucking planes crashing and you die like a hundred times before getting five feet (it’s D-Day) set the bar for carnage factor.

2. Guns, guns, guns. The key ones are the shotgun and the sniper rifle. The shotgun is almost always the best weapon in any game in which the point is frequent and gruesome killing. For some reason, Black has two types of shotguns and both are virtually the same. I am pretty sure this is just a gun fetishist marketing ploy. There are, like, two dozen guns, including all kinds of machine and submachine guns. Good sniper rifle action is important, for the satisfaction of head shots. Black has it. But Black also has this Magnum revolver that’s a cross between the shotgun and the sniper rifle it’s superaccurate, has a long range, and kills guys with one shot. It’s awesome, awesome, awesome.

3. Mission failure. When you die, how far back do you have to go? This game sucks here. Let me say that again: This game sucks here. There are a ton of missions I had to repeat 50 times, going back farther than I should have had to each time, doing all this easy stuff over and over again, but dying again right away at the hard part, which is, like, 15 minutes down the road. You end up screaming at the game a lot.

A pretty cool feature is an autosave function that I’ve never seen before, and it actually may be the reason the missions restart so far back. The game saves your progress for you without any "Would you like to save your game?" crap. This is good in that it means you can play until your eyes are bleeding and not even notice it. But maybe it screws up the mission length. I don’t know. I said "yes" to the option, and now I can’t turn it off.

All in all, Black is a really good game, if maddeningly repetitive at times. I played it for so many hours straight that my back fell asleep. I didn’t even know that was possible. And that’s all I want from a game, really. I want days, even weeks, to pass before me while I engage in the least possible amount of reality. That and the killing. I do love the killing. (Mike McGuirk)

Passion plays



Campo Santo is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary, a significant milestone for any small theater company. But this one really does have something to celebrate. The past decade has been an intense, vibrant, unconventionally structured experiment in multicultural communal theater that’s not your typical "community theater," but an ambitious undertaking that takes seriously both its own immediate community and the various communities making up society at large. Along the way, it’s consistently produced by far some of the most exciting and risk-taking productions around. And with more than 30 world premieres to its credit as the resident company at Intersection for the Arts (San Francisco’s premier multidisciplinary alternative arts organization), it’s fair to say Campo Santo’s output has been nothing short of awesome.

But Campo Santo + Intersection is more than the sum of its production history, as anyone who goes to a performance knows. Not just situated in the Mission District but very much a part of it it’s a place, a space, an environment, a neighborhood, and to many, precisely the hallowed ground the company’s name implies. With a loose and flexible network of individuals and groups capable of supporting and elaborating on each other’s artistic and social work as well as an atypically astute and diverse audience Campo Santo and Intersection’s personnel, setting, and semipublic work process all contribute to making it a conspicuously unique site on the theatrical landscape.

There’s probably no more ready proof of that, or the success of its formula, than the willingness of so many nationally prominent playwrights to repeatedly collaborate with Campo Santo on new work a list that includes Naomi Iizuka, John Steppling, Greg Sarris, Jessica Hagedorn, Erin Cressida Wilson, Philip Kan Gotanda, and Octavio Sol??s. It’s even famously coaxed the first stage works out of well-established writers and poets like Jimmy Santiago Baca, Dave Eggers, and Denis Johnson.

The series of events marking Campo Santo’s 10th anniversary from workshops, open discussions, and staged rereadings of past productions with the playwrights to a major blowout planned for June 3 comes as a rare opportunity for company and audience to reflect on a decade of feverish, often brilliant work that has always looked restlessly ahead, as if to the next fix.

The retrospective has been something of a revelation to the company’s members and associates, judging by the rapt discussion that followed a rehearsal last week for the Denis Johnson program.

Words like simple, basic, naked these recur repeatedly in any discussion of the theater with company member and Intersection program director Sean San Jose, who founded Campo Santo in 1996 with fellow actors Margo Hall, Luis Saguar, and Michael Torres. The occasion was a production of Octavio Sol??s’s Santos y Santos, a major dramatic success when Thick Description premiered it at Theater Artaud in 1993. San Jose, with Saguar and Torres (who had both been in the original production), staged a new version. Sol??s, who has since worked repeatedly with the company most recently on 2005’s world premiere of The Ballad of Pancho and Lucy, a modern folkloric joyride set in the bars of the Mission District remembers that first production as a portent of things to come.

"I found the production totally different but equally exciting to the one Tony Kelly had directed at Theater Artaud," he told me. "It was such a pressure cooker situation I didn’t think it would ever work in a small space like New Langton Arts. But it was stirring. I knew this company had a future. I saw it as very hungry and focused intense, brooding, and always on. Never a second wasted."

The decision to stage Santos at New Langton came out of another experience with bare bones performance. "These guys read the play in a youth correctional facility," explains Deborah Cullinan, who at the time had just been hired as Intersection’s new executive director financial straits having temporarily shuttered the arts organization and was tasked with reviving it. (The rise of Campo Santo and the resurgence of Intersection are intimately tied together, as it turns out.) "They were just reading it for these youth and the water pipe broke in the auditorium, so they got stuck in one of the living quarters, this tiny space. But Luis, Sean, and Michael will all tell you that’s when they understood that the words could drive something forward, because the boys were riveted."

The full production impressed Cullinan, and after their next one an equally successful staging of a very different play, Erin Cressida Wilson’s Hurricane she was convinced this was the sort of broad-ranging company Intersection wanted on board. In turn, Intersection gave Campo Santo crucial support, not least the Valencia Street space, to continue doing the kind of theater it had been groping toward.

The key to the company, Sol??s explains, is that "each actor is a dramaturge. They know what the play needs. They start to intuit it. It’s just part of their aesthetic now."

"It’s very much a playwright’s theater," notes Philip Kan Gotanda, whose A Fist of Roses was a thorough surprise last year, an exploration of male domestic violence whose highly original and unusually collaborative nature did as much credit to the veteran playwright as to the small company. "You just don’t find it that often especially if you’re interested, as I’m interested, in writing pieces that are a little off the beaten path, both in form and content."

"They’re a writer’s theater in that they do exclusively new work, and find the playwrights that appeal to them," Sol??s agrees. At the same time, however, he believes Campo Santo is a strong actor’s theater. "There’s a reason why they’re drawn to Erin Cressida Wilson or Naomi Iizuka. There’s a real reason why they’re drawn to Denis [Johnson]. And Denis now, as I do and I’m sure the other writers are doing we’re writing to suit the company. They have a great core of talent. They really know how to stretch and take chances. They do very dangerous acting."

Remarkably, 10 years along, Campo Santo continues to convey that sense of immediacy, a sense of raw intensity, risk, and daring, while always matching it with exceptional skill and a youthful, street-smart confidence.

Sol??s puts the formula succinctly: "They like passion. They like works about passion. And passion also in that religious sense." SFBG

Campo Santo 10th anniversary

Gala, Sat/3, 7 p.m.

Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St, SF. $25

Real Women, Rock ’n’ Roll, and Karaoke:

The Work of Campo Santo and Jessica Hagedorn, June 9, 7:30 p.m.

Finale: Finding the Future, June 10, 7:30 p.m.

Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia, SF. $9–$20

(415) 626-3311


Life’s a Giant Drag


› a&e@sfbg.com

Has anyone ever chosen a more appropriate band name than Annie Hardy?

Speaking with the 24-year-old singer and guitarist of Los Angeles’s Giant Drag, I find it impossible to imagine a moniker that better captures the depressing nature of both her band’s narcotic grunge-pop songs and her own almost comically defeated outlook on life. She expresses so much bemused disappointment in conversation, in fact, that the name almost seems like an understatement.

"Sometimes real life ruins all your fun," says Hardy with a chuckle, calling from a tour stop in Minneapolis. She’s not kidding, though at least not entirely. Throughout our chat, the Orange County native airs a laundry list of grievances about the record industry, from frustrating decisions made by her label to the constant comparisons of her band which also includes 27-year-old drummer and synth player Micah Calabrese to the Breeders and PJ Harvey.

Her biggest gripe, however, seems to be that music journalists tend to make a big deal about her rather, uh, creative song titles: among them, "My Dick Sux," "Kevin Is Gay," and "You Fuck like My Dad."

"I just couldn’t think of titles for most of the songs, so I thought I’d use funny stuff," Hardy insists. "But I did that without thinking about releasing it and having it be reviewed and having certain people, like the British press, just focus on that. They make it seem that titles like ‘You Fuck like My Dad’ are more important than the music. It’s stupid.”

“So I don’t know if I’ll keep doing that [with the titles] in the future," she continues. "That’s a pain, though, because it’s just who we are. It was us just having fun."

Of course, most people probably wouldn’t describe Giant Drag as fun. On its full-length debut, last fall’s excellent Hearts and Unicorns (Kickball/Interscope), the band split the difference between Mazzy Star and Nirvana, unleashing a din of droning, heavily distorted alt-rock that’s perfect for Hardy’s angst-ridden outbursts: "No number of pills will fix my life today," she sings at one point; at others, "I haven’t felt so well for so long now" and "From here on out it’s only pain." But whereas, say, Kurt Cobain was quite vocal in interviews about his pain, Hardy remains tight-lipped.

"A lot of those songs are about experiencing something down or sad and angry," she explains. "But I really don’t like to discuss what they’re about."

Not that she hasn’t spilled plenty of her guts, at least in her music, since 2004. That’s when Hardy, who’d been casually recording cover songs and writing her own material, decided to take a friend up on his offer to have her open for his band. Rather than make Giant Drag a solo project, however, she asked Calabrese if he’d like to join.

"I was like, ‘Look, Micah, either you can play with me or I can go it alone.’ Micah was like, ‘Nah, I won’t let you go out like that,’” she says. "We thought about getting a bass player, but one day Micah started playing drums and the synthesizer at the same time. We were like, ‘Oh shit, that’s funny but it also works.’”

After a rocky start Hardy claims the first shows "sucked" Giant Drag began to garner local radio support and landed popular monthlong residencies at the Silverlake Lounge and Spaceland. Then early last year, the band became a sensation in England with the release of its Lemona EP (Wichita). "Over there we started to sell out shows, and it was gnarly," she says. "Then we’d go to Omaha, and everyone would be like, ‘Who the fuck are you?!’ except for one 80-year-old guy standing in the front row who drove four hours from Kansas to see us."

Of course, Giant Drag’s American fan base has grown considerably since then. Hearts and Unicorns continues to receive plenty of blog buzz, national press has been largely positive, and the duo played a well-received set at Coachella this spring. In fact, the main thing holding the duo back from a mainstream breakthrough seems to be that it’s no longer 1993, when similar acts such as Mazzy Star and, yep, the Breeders ruled MTV’s buzz bin.

Giant Drag’s label hasn’t given up hope, though. This spring Kickball Records rereleased Hearts and Unicorns, tacking on the band’s woozy cover of Chris Isaak’s "Wicked Game" in an attempt to gain airplay. Not surprisingly, the decision rubbed Hardy the wrong way.

"Micah and I both think [the reissue] doesn’t make much sense. I guess the label wants to give it a big push and have some sort of Alien Ant Farm thing go on," she snorts, referring to the one-hit wonders who became famous for their cover of Michael Jackson’s "Smooth Criminal."

"But that hasn’t happened yet," Hardy adds, hinting that life may not always be a giant drag after all. "So I’m not upset well, not really."  SFBG

Giant Drag with Pretty Girls Make Graves and Whale Bones

Sun/4, 8 p.m.

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF


(415) 885-0750


Beast of the Bay


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Woe to you, Oh Earth and Sea, for the Devil sends the Beast with wrath, because he knows the time is short…. Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty six.

Revelation 13:18

This week marks an unusual holiday or unholy day that only comes along once every 100 years: the Day of the Beast, 6/6/06. For some it is a day to fear, when the Antichrist of Christian mythology will finally be revealed. For others it is a time of hope and celebration for precisely the same reason. For me, it is a time to rock. The Number of the Beast, Iron Maiden’s third studio album, was released in 1982. Vocalist Bruce Dickinson had just joined the band, and Maiden was at the height of its powers. My best friend Mike and I listened to the entire record every day after school for months. We would sit on the edge of my bed and stare at the record cover, trying to decipher its hidden meanings and getting off on the comic book/metal imagery. As true fans and converts, we felt compelled to spread the word, or at least show how cool we thought we were.

So one morning before school, we took a black Magic Marker to a couple of white T-shirts, writing three big 6s on the fronts and "The Number of the Beast" on the backs. We were so proud of ourselves walking to school, but our bubble was burst as soon as we got there: The teacher sent us straight back home to change, telling us, "Some of the other children might find it offensive." Mike and I both played it off like we were innocent little rock fans, with no intentions of offending or converting anyone to Satanism. We were just celebrating our favorite band and song.

The title song in question is, to my mind, one of the most rocking ever recorded. Maiden bassist Steve Harris wrote it, and it is a true metal classic: heavy riffs, strong, catchy hooks, and vaguely sinister metal lyrics. The words put the listener straight into the narrator’s mind, witnessing the dawn of Hell on Earth: "Torches blazed and sacred chants were praised/ As they start to cry, hands held to the sky/ In the night, the fires burning bright/ The ritual has begun, Satan’s work is done."

Dickinson invokes dark, paranoid imagery as if channeling Poe or Lovecraft, and when he spits out the chorus of "6-6-6/ The Number of the Beast," he conjures up all that is implied in the evil numerology: the tension between the narrator’s juvenile fascination with evil much like our own and the higher impulse to overcome and reject it.

"But I feel drawn to the chanting hordes / They seem to mesmerize, can’t avoid their eyes."

In the end, the narrator appears to be swayed, or possessed, by the dark forces, and joins them. But don’t worry, for we are shown the way to salvation by the album’s cover art: Amid a field of flames and an ominous night sky, a small man, representing humanity, dances on puppet strings held by a horned, red devil, who is himself attached to strings wielded by Eddie, Maiden’s ubiquitous undead mascot. The message is clear: While humankind may be weak and easily led astray by the Hoofed One, it is the power of rock or more specifically, metal, as represented by Eddie that can save us and help us to conquer our fears. The words of the song tell one story, but the sheer visceral power of the music itself transforms and redeems the lyrical narrative. Evil may exist in ourselves, on Earth, and in the universe but by the empowering grace of metal, we can exorcise our demons and tame the beast within. Metal becomes the negation of the negation.

Theologically, of course, before the devil became the grotesque and irredeemable character of novels and horror movies, he was the Adversary, the Fallen Angel, the Forsaken One of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions. Remember his friendly wager with God over Job’s soul, or his cordial philosophical debates with the Nazarene, long before Faust’s wager or Linda Blair’s projectile vomiting. It was he who questioned and encouraged others to do the same, the one who opposed and dared to think for himself. He was the rebel, the gadfly, the thorn in the side. The subsequent notion that questioning authority and tradition is the devil’s work, though intended to scare us straight, gives rise to a certain curiosity and yes, sympathy toward Lucifer, in some who cherish freedom of thought and expression. No doubt some of the titillation we feel watching Rosemary’s Baby or listening to the "The Number of the Beast" comes from such an impulse to defy a hallowed authority, from the safety of our imaginations.

Twenty-four years after it was released, the Iron Maiden album retains its power and vitality. It continues to be a benchmark for good, honest heavy metal now obscured by retro-fixated irony, emo-inspired whininess, embarrassing misappropriations of hip-hop, and false metal generally. The fact that Maiden has stuck to its guns through the waxing and waning of true metal’s popularity and has continued to record and tour on its own terms to this day somehow adds to the record’s staying power. The music is not tainted by revisionist questions about the band’s motives or integrity. In this, as well as the music, Maiden continues to be an inspiration to generations of musicians and fans.

I like to think of "The Number of the Beast" as a kind of "White Christmas" for the day of the beast. (Too bad it’s a holiday that only happens once a century it could mean a gold mine in royalties for Harris and co.) Never mind that the nice chaps in Maiden are not actually Satanists at all Irving Berlin was Jewish, and we all know you don’t have to be a Christian to have a tree. It’s the spirit of the day that counts. So on 6/6/06, do yourself a favor and crank up some Maiden. If you listen carefully, you might almost hear the children’s voices caroling:

"666 The number of the beast/ 666 The one for you and me." SFBG

Devin Hoff lives in Oakland and plays the bass with Redressers, Good for Cows, Nels Cline Singers, and others.

Howlin’ at the sun


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Something wicked this way came, right in the middle of last week’s spate of strangely beautiful, beastly hot days, as I sipped a pint on El Rio’s back patio with Comets on Fire vocalist-guitarist Ethan Miller. You can bet with 6/6/06 plastered all over town, prophesizing an ominously large marketing onslaught for The Omen that wickedness probably involved horror movies. And you’ll be right. Because Miller is happy to talk about the fruits of Howlin’ Rain, a solo project aided and abetted by Sunburned Hand of the Man’s John Moloney and childhood Humboldt County pal Ian Gradek. But Miller gets really "fanned out" when the subject of mind-gouging, low-budg cinematic howlers like his all-time faves Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Beyond, Maniac, Suspiria come up. I can dig it, but do all rockers really bond over the joy of having their eyeballs violated?

"My wife doesn’t want to watch it with me," he says jovially. "I’m, like, ‘Babe, I just got my copy of Cannibal Holocaust in the mail! And she’s just, like, ‘No! Fuck that! No! No! You have to watch that after I go to bed.’

"I had this one friend, I thought he and I had the same taste, and he just wasn’t really speaking up, and I kept giving him films to watch, and he was, like, ‘Dude, I told you. I hate that. That was fucking traumatizing.’”

For all his movie-collector madness, Miller can be reasoned with and likewise is perfectly reasonable. The Comets’ de facto leader and cofounder tells me their fourth full-length, Avatar (Sub Pop), is ready to go after what sounds like a grueling but fully democratic process recording with Tim Green at Prairie Sun in Cotati. "It’s hard to know if you’re in control of the macro-organism or if it’s in control of you," Miller muses. "Like a minidemocracy, you can’t steer it more than your one-fifth influence. These are real social people wed to each other through their art and music and now through a band."

The Howlin’ Rain project, meanwhile, was quick and dirty, spat out in about eight days, and driven solely by Miller, relying on two trustworthy friends from far-flung parts of the country, with Moloney in Massachusetts and Gradek in Kauai.

Dust demons of fuzz and growling guitar tone still crop up, but here Miller has conjured his own ’06 version of early-’70s "mellow gold" rock ’n’ roll, pulling from the Allman Brothers, Cream, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Neil Young without resorting to outright … cannibalism.

"I tried to pack it full of the psych you could have from this vantage point right now," he says. "Not make a record that’s, like, ‘Fuck, that sounds just like Sabbath. I mean, just like Sabbath.’”

Keep your bloody Sabbath instead a laid-back, sun-swept blues-rock vibe, edged with moments of darkness, comes in as clear as a rushing river. You can hear Miller’s relatively effects-free voice, for once not screaming over the maelstrom as if flesh were being ripped from his bones, cushioned by the occasional harmony, which he describes as "Simon and Garfunkel on a bad trip or something."

Nonetheless, Miller isn’t ready to forsake the power jams of yore. He sees Howlin’ Rain and Comets as populist entertainments, much like those beloved horror films. "The best ones succeed in an absolute emotional manipulation that’s kind of a ride, like listening to Queen or Mahavishnu Orchestra, music that’s made for an absolute thrill ride. It’s just so dense and thrilling, and they don’t make you sit around waiting for something to happen. Though maybe Mahavishnu wouldn’t appreciate that because their shit is supposed to be more spiritual …"

Stinky no more What’s it like growing up rock? Ask XBXRX, or Gaviotas’s Simon Timony, who had his share of alterna-cool attention at a very young age: The 22-year-old San Franciscan led the Stinkypuffs which included his onetime stepfather Jad Fair of Half Japanese, his mother Sheenah Fair, Gumball’s Don Fleming, and Lee Ranaldo’s son Cody Linn Ranaldo. Fronting and writing for the most notable child-centered supergroup of the early-’90s alt-rock scene, Timony learned guitar from family friend Snakefinger, was home-schooled by his parents, who ran Ralph Records (his father Tom was in the Residents), and eventually befriended Nirvana when Half Japanese opened for them during the In Utero tour. "I was actually trusted to go wake up Kurt before a show," Timony says wonderingly today.

After notably performing with Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl, together for the first time after Cobain’s suicide, at the 1994 Yo Yo a Go Go fest in Olympia, Wash., Timony grew disillusioned with music at around age 13. But he picked up his moldy guitar again after discovering Korn and now he’s making Gaviotas his full-time job. He performs at a suicide-prevention benefit May 31. "My dad and my mom were, like, ‘If this is what you want to do …,’” Timony explains. “‘As long as you don’t suck!’ My dad is a very honest person too honest sometimes." SFBG

Howlin’ Rain

Thurs/1, 6 p.m.

Amoeba Music

1855 Haight, SF

(415) 831-1200

Also with Citay and Sic Alps

Sat/3, 9:30 p.m.

Hemlock Tavern

1131 Polk, SF


(415) 923-0923


Gaviotas with Crowing and Habitforming

Wed/31, 9 p.m.

Annie’s Social Club

917 Folsom, SF


(415) 974-1585



Play nice with Chloe and Asya, those übertalented but otherwise normal preteens in Seattle’s Smoosh. Their new album, Free to Stay, is here to stay June 6. Eels headline. Wed/31, 8 p.m., Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. $25. (415) 346-6000.


Frontperson John lays down his Foucault — and likely won’t set himself on fire — for a few choice shows celebrating the release of Scrape the Walls (Alternative Tentacles). Fri/2, 10 p.m., Annie’s Social Club, 917 Folsom, SF. $7. (415) 974-1585; June 9, 8 p.m., 924 Gilman, Berk. $5. (510) 525-9926, www.924gilman.org.

Pride of Frankenstein


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

There were macabre and fantastical American films in the silent era, many starring "Man of a Thousand Faces" Lon Chaney. But horror as a Hollywood genre arguably didn’t exist before 1931, when Universal released what may be the two biggest monster franchise titles in cinematic history.

One was Tod Browning’s Dracula, starring Hungarian émigré Bela Lugosi as Bram Stoker’s suave bloodsucker. The other was James Whale’s Frankenstein, which starred, uh, "???? as The Monster." That was the actual on-screen billing, though word soon leaked out that portraying Mary Shelley’s "Modern Prometheus" under grotesque makeup was a certain English actor named Boris Karloff. Well, renamed: Onetime farmhand William Henry Pratt had changed his moniker long before, the better to snatch those multiethnic roles his imposing features could encompass.

Karloff, whose huge film legacy is commemorated in a Balboa Theater retrospective starting this Friday, had labored without much recognition in nearly 80 bit and supporting parts since 1919. Public clamor to identify Frankenstein‘s hulking yet plaintive monster ended that once and for all making Karloff as notorious as the already Broadway-famed Lugosi overnight. Forever after they’d be linked as Hollywood’s twin ghouls. Both were typecast by genre fame, relegated to endless B-, then Z-grade productions. (Unlike Lugosi, Karloff managed to avoid working with legendarily inept Ed "Plan 9 from Outer Space" Wood — but he did end his career laboring on four back-to-back Mexican horror films of almost equally hilarious artistic bankruptcy. Check out the demented Torture Chamber, released well after his 1969 death and most definitely absent from the Balboa slate.)

Heavy on Golden Era classics, very light on the schlockier work that dominated Karloff’s later years, the retrospective is full of rarities and 35 mm restorations. All the Universal Frankenstein films are represented, plus 1932’s The Mummy another primary horror figure Karloff made his own. The series’ surprise is its several gangster flicks a genre that hit the fan just before horror did, affording glower-faced Karloff plenty of employment opportunities. He’s eighty-sixed in a bowling alley in the 1932 Scarface and plays a killer convict in another Howard Hawks film, 1931’s The Criminal Code. You can also see him as a crazed Islamic fundamentalist(!) in 1934’s The Lost Patrol, one rare occasion in which he worked with a "prestige" director like John Ford.

But the bulk of the Balboa’s 26 titles are horror, made by studio talents who never got near an Academy Award though god knows James Whale’s witty The Old Dark House (1932) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) have aged better than whatever won Oscars those years. Ditto The Body Snatcher a decade later, innovative producer Val Lewton’s take on real-life grave robbers Burke and Hare. Body costarred Lugosi, who’d earlier joined Karloff in expat Hungarian director Edgar G. Ulmer’s tardy riot of German expressionism, The Black Cat (1934). Another gem is 1932’s The Mask of Fu Manchu, a rare horror effort for sniffy MGM that compensated via high art-deco gloss, sexual sadism, and racial stereotypes pushed to the point of absurdist camp. Under such conditions, Karloff often seems as amused as he is sinister, shading his material not with condescension but with delicate irony. He was never undignified, though the films often were. He gladly participated in ridiculing his own image, however — notably in the stage smash Arsenic and Old Lace, in which his thug character confesses, "I killed him because he said I looked like Boris Karloff."

The gentlemanly offscreen Karloff loved children, and had mixed feelings about his professional prowess at scaring the bejesus out of them. His daughter Sara Karloff kicks off the Balboa series with an evening of home movies and live chat. You can safely bet her reminiscences will land at a safe distance from Mommie Dearest territory. SFBG

"As Sure as My Name is Boris Karloff"

June 2–8, June 16–22

Balboa Theater

3630 Balboa, SF


(415) 221-8184

For showtimes, see Rep Clock


New Wests


› jksfbg@aol.com

California is a tragic country like Palestine, like every Promised Land.

Christopher Isherwood

FREQUENCIES Last Monday, President Bush ordered 6,000 National Guard troops to join the 12,000 federal Border Patrol agents already stationed along the US-Mexico border. Then, moments later, in a deft now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t Oval Office magic trick, he acted as if it hadn’t happened. "[The United States] is not going to militarize the southern border," he told the press about the military troops he had just assigned to the southern border. "Mexico is our neighbor and our friend."

Forget that the Border Patrol is already the nation’s largest federal law enforcement agency. Forget that the border has been militarized since at least 1992, when the Navy was brought to Southern California to replace chain-link fences with corrugated steel sheeting recycled from the Vietnam War. Forget that the 1994 fence that ran out into the sea from Imperial Beach was made of old landing strips from the first Persian Gulf War. Forget that 1994’s Operation Gatekeeper turned the canyons and gulches at the southern edge of California into a battle zone of klieg lighting, infrared scopes, underground sensors, and digital fingerprinting systems. Forget that since 1995, the Border Research and Technology Center in San Diego has been developing "correctional security" devices in tandem with the US prison system.

This was all just flimsy history next to the real denial that came two days later when it was announced that the nonmilitarization plan was accepting bids from leading military contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman, all of whom have been active in Iraq and Afghanistan. So while the National Guard may not be armed (but may be, as SNL recently joked, sipping Coronas in celebration of being anywhere but Iraq), chances are good there will be radar balloons and surveillance planes. Throw in a few crackpot Minutemen brigades and we’ll be looking at the biggest domestic battalion ever assembled against a nonexistent international enemy.

After all, Mexicans come north not out of aggression or zealotry or the need for oil, but out of hope, the same hope that once fueled earlier westward migrations of Oakies and Anglos to the same plots of land. In the era of free trade, the North is the new West, or as Dave Alvin suggests in the title of his new album of California cover songs, West of the West (Yep Roc), a still emergent republic of dreams that hasn’t found a stable map.

Alvin was born in Downey, outside of Los Angeles, and he’s always been a firmly Californian songwriter. For all his working-class allegiance to the "California Dreaming" school the factories, manual labor, toxic suburbs, and cement rivers of his songs never crush his epic sense of western romance Alvin has always seemed to understand Mexican California. He’s written about Mexican farmworkers and barmaids, and most presciently, he wrote "California Snow" with El PasoJu?

Cloud 8


› le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS I had pretty much settled on spending a quiet night at home with a big bowl of popcorn and my new dehumidifier, but then I accidentally called Earl Butter and he said, in effect, "Do you know what time it is? What are you doing home? Get the hell in your pickup truck and get here."

"OK, yes," I said. "Bye."

It was Friday night. Almost all our friends in the world were playing at the Make-Out Room, for the Mission Creek Festival. Everyone was going to be there. I don’t know what I had been thinking, but I stopped thinking it, grabbed my toothbrush, patted Weirdo the Cat on the head, turned the dehumidifier all the way up, kissed the chickens on their beaks, and drove to the city with a big bowl of popcorn in my lap.

It’s an hour-and-a-half ride. I tried to think of it as a movie, an expensive and dark movie. About traffic. That may sound dull, but if you think of it in comparison to a date with a dehumidifier … well, it’s still pretty dull.

Anyway, I’m not a movie reviewer. I made it to the Mission in time to catch the back half of the show and to hug everybody and smile a lot and talk too much until my face hurt and I was losing my voice again.

And then when the live music ended (early), we all went to Little Him’s house and called it a party, and there were more songs, and tacos for me, from 24th Street, because I was all done drinking. When I can’t drink anymore, I start eating tacos. And in this way the party in my mind never stops.

It got late, Jolly Boy carted me and Earl back to 611, and I made me a cozy little nest in the closet and slept like a little baby bird, my dreams all a-flit with flowers and trees, butterflies, and other enchanted forestry. I’m going to tell you something: Love was in the air. At the Make-Out Room, at the after party, in the darkness in this closet. It had nothing to do with me, but it did have to do with my dearest friend in the whole wide world and my new favorite old friend, and the whole evening, in the songs, in the beer, in the blah blah blah even in the tacos there had been this sort of sizzle.

Compare that to dehumidification.

I was on Cloud 8. Still am, and I would like to tip my bandanna to Bikkets and the Neverneverboy, bless their big big goofy grins, tired eyes, and infecting electricity.

But I’m not a gossip columnist, so I woke up with an oniony tacover, extricated myself from the closet, and mumbled to Earl Butter, who was in the big room watching cartoons, "Coffee."

He turned off the TV.

We knocked on Jolly Boy’s door on our way out and he joined us at Java Supreme (Coffee: still a buck. Still!) Well, you can only leaf through a newspaper for so long on a Saturday morning in the Mission before you start thinking of Chava’s.

Jolly Boy broached the subject: "Whatever happened to Chava’s?"

Burnt down. Reopened between 24th and 25th on Mission, Earl and I answered in little bits and pieces. Disastrous atmosphere, basically a taquer??a, still great food. Almost in unison, we all stood up and started walking in that direction, with the understanding that it was a long way to walk and we would keep our eyes open for any better ideas along the way.

A better idea: La Quinta, my new favorite Mexican restaurant, on Mission between 20th and 21th. It has the feel of what Chava’s used to feel like. Family, old-school, everybody’s smiling, huge plates of food, cool, colorful, fruity paintings on the wall, a counter … A counter!

We sat at a table and fell in love with the place. I got birria ($7.50), and the goats were tender and less gristly than usual not that I have anything against gristle. But I know you do. Jolly Boy got huevos rancheros ($6.50), and Earl ordered some kind of thing with softened tortilla chips all scrambled up with eggs and stuff. I got to taste everything and everything was great. The tabletop chips were fresh and the salsa was delicious.

You know what, I think it’s cheaper than most places this day and age too. Check this out: Weekdays, between 7 and 11 a.m., you can get huevos rancheros, or other egg dishes, for $4.75. That’s with rice, beans, and homemade tortillas, and that’s just freakin’ beautiful. SFBG

La Quinta

Daily, 7 a.m.–7 p.m.

2425 Mission, SF

(415) 647-9000

Takeout available




Wheelchair accessible

Forget me not



The server who performs from memory is either a virtuoso or a show-off and more likely the latter, experience suggests, with muffs and miscues an almost certain result. On Saturday last, we shepherded some out-of-town guests to the Napa Valley, where, between stops at the Hess Collection and the Mumm champagne works, a latish lunch was had at Bistro Don Giovanni, a 13-year-old Italian restaurant on the north side of the town of Napa, in a roadside building that, from 1991 to 1993, housed Jonathan Waxman’s heralded but troubled Table 29.

Our server knew that much, at least. Years ago we had eaten at Table 29 but couldn’t summon the name from memory; he pulled it from the top of his carefully coiffed head. On the other hand, he couldn’t remember what we had ordered; he nodded attentively as we spoke in turn, but petitions for soup (a puree of roasted tomatoes and red peppers, as I recall) and a mojito vanished into the ether, which was pleasantly scented by the wood-burning oven and did have a mollifying effect, it must be said. An iced coffee was produced only because we were given an opportunity to ask for it a second time, when he prodded us to order coffee or liqueurs with dessert. To his credit, he picked up on the iced-coffee flub and did not put it on the bill, but he seemed quite unaware of his other two misses, and we let them go, in part from fear that we would seem to have been keeping score. But then, we were keeping score, for that is what people do when they order this or that in a restaurant and the service staff forgets to bring it.

Writing orders down doesn’t automatically eliminate this problem. The server returning to the table to clarify an order due to illegible handwriting or having written down the wrong thing, or nothing is not an unfamiliar experience. It is embarrassing and sometimes a little irritating, but at least the server in question has a script to work from. The would-be memorizer who returns for a refresher ought to be handed a notepad, but at least there is the return. Setting plates of food before the wrong people is an easily corrected faux pas. The would-be memorizer who forgets having forgotten, on the other hand, is a blithe idiot, a discredit to servers everywhere.

Umlaut with that?


› paulr@sfbg.com

A friend from LA said, upon stepping into Lettüs Café Organic, "I feel like I’m back in LA. On Rodeo Drive somewhere." Ah, Rodeo Drive, home of the Polo Store, haunt of Nancy Reagan. Lettüs isn’t quite the kind of place where you’d expect to see Mrs. R. she seems more like the Spago Beverly Hills type but the Rodeo vibe was palpable and even I caught it, though Lettüs’s Marina environs, its urban density of souls, have always seemed more Chicago than LA to me, more Lincoln Park. Of course, I once lived in Chicago; I have never lived in LA but have been to Rodeo Drive.

"Everything is good for you, and expensive," my LA friend continued, apropos the LA-ish menu at Lettüs. Ah, I thought, we could be talking about the Newsroom Café, that West Hollywood haunt (on Robertson, near Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, nowhere near Rodeo Drive but just across the street from the Ivy) of alfalfa sprouts, fat-free yogurt smoothies, and youthful pretenders to movie stardom, everybody wearing their fancy sunglasses inside which of course is not necessary at Lettüs.

The good-for-you part I could accept, for Lettüs, as its full name suggests, deals almost exclusively in organic food and relies as much as possible on local produce. The pricey part, on the other hand, I balked at; Lettüs isn’t exactly cheap, but it isn’t expensive, either, for what you get, with only a handful of items costing more than $10. Plus, you are afforded an opportunity to ponder the umlaut, a flourish that puts one in mind of, perhaps, a Swedish delicacy like pancakes with lingonberry sauce, though the menu is devoid of Scandinavian influence (except for smoked salmon); most of the culinary cues are either Medi-Cal or East Asian, which leaves one with a general impression that an outpost of Chow has collided with one of the ZAO noodle bars.

The most Scandinavian element of Lettüs (other than the umlaut) is probably the interior design, walls and ceiling of slatted, pale wood, with interstitial bars of fluorescent lighting and sleek, spare furniture. There is a certain saunalike feel to the look, or perhaps it is vaguely Japanese. Either way, it manages to be both rustic and urban, cool and warm, an appealing casual-sophisticated setting for the casually sophisticated food of executive chef Sascha Weiss. (His partners in the endeavor are Matthew Guelke and Mark Lewis; the restaurant opened near the end of last year.)

If Weiss’s food has a theme, it might be "when worlds collide": chipotle-scented black bean soup ($4) with avocado salsa on the one hand and, on the other, mango chicken or tofu lettuce cups ($8) shredded napa cabbage, a Thai-ish blend of ginger, cilantro, basil, and sweet-hot chili-tamarind sauce, and either baked tofu or grilled chicken bundled in swaddlings of Bibb lettuce for easy finger feeding. And if you have a third hand, how about some bruschetta ($5), points of grilled levain topped with white butter beans, roast garlic, cherry tomatoes, and basil?

Bigger dishes are available, of course, from various sorts of panini and open-faced sandwiches including an entrant of grilled chicken breast ($9.50) with marinated peppers and pesto quite as potent as anything you’d get at Chow to noodlier choices. Here we have a pasta ($8), fusilli sauced with arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli, and chickpeas, with a layer of olive slivers and gratings of parmesan cheese on top, a concoction surprisingly hearty despite the absence of animal flesh. There is also a plate of brightly acidic soba noodles ($7) warm or cold, your call tossed with julienne zucchini, carrot, and red bell pepper and a lime-sesame vinaigrette dotted with sesame seeds.

But in the main, the happiest course is probably to nosh. Most of the food lends itself to splitting and sharing, in particular the spring rolls ($6), rice-paper wraps stuffed with rice noodles, carrots, and lettuce, sliced into bite-size cylinders, and presented with dipping sauces of spicy peanut and sweet chili. Only slightly more cumbersome to divvy up is a salad of avocado and grapefruit ($7.50) nested in a carpet of peppery-nutty arugula and dressed with a grapefruit-juice vinaigrette; this is about as simple as it gets, and about as good, with butteriness, fruit, bite, and nose brought into a powerful harmony.

Given the confident eclecticism of the savory dishes, the desserts are surprisingly flat-footed. A pair of hazelnut shortbreads ($1) dipped in dark chocolate were not dipped in dark chocolate but presented to us naked. They were fine, crisp yet tender of crumb, but I felt obliged to ask after the missing chocolate. "We don’t have those today," our hapless server reported. Coffee cake ($4), meanwhile, was on the dry side despite an interspersion of blackberries and a streusel topping. Only the chocolate mousse cake ($5), served on a plate piped with raspberry sauce, was "dense" and "rich" as promised by the menu card moist, too, they could honorably have added.

A word on the table service, which is of the semi variety: You order at the counter, are issued a placard with a number, seat yourself (displaying numbered placard), and wait for the food to start arriving. The system is fairly efficient, though cafeteria-esque, and the placards aren’t the usual cheap plastic numbers but cast steel, with numbers handsomely embossed in gold. Nancy Reagan might not buy them if she saw them in a window on Rodeo Drive, but she would at least look. SFBG

Lettüs Café Organic

Mon.–Fri., 7:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m.; Sat.–Sun., 8 a.m.–10:30 p.m.

3352 Steiner, SF

(415) 931-2777


Beer and wine



Wheelchair accessible

{Empty title}


May 31-June 6


March 21-April 19

Hmmm, what’s this opportunity we’re detecting in your sphere this week, Aries? Is it a new phase of development you’re entering, or is it just a breath of fresh air some to revive your sagging spirits? Whichever it may be, the potential to create something of real meaning is real, just as long as you keep your ego in check.


April 20-May 20

Taurus, we are soooo happy that the shit has finally stopped hitting the fan. You needed a break. Now that life has calmed down some, we’d like you to think about how you maintain balance and interdependence outside of conflict. We think you might need to make some adjustments to the way you deal with life when it’s peaceful.


May 21-June 21

Gemini, can you find some sort of flow this week? Some way to get right with the various vibes and energies swishing around you? Not to be a hippy, but if you don’t it looks like you run the risk of feeling some anxiety. And if you do, we think you’ll find yourself optimistic about the future without attachment to any specific outcome.


June 22-July 22

Cancer, what is wrong with you? It looks like you’ve found something or someone that makes you so wicked happy, and now all the happiness has begun to make you wicked sad! Well, indulge your melancholy is you must; unlike the happiness, it’s not going to last much longer.


July 23-Aug. 22

Leo, while you’re in the midst of totally overhauling and restructuring your entire life, we urge you to make room for freedom. Don’t hop out of one set of binding circumstances to then fling yourself into something equally constricting. That would be dumb. Put some Wild Cards into the fabulous deck of your life.


Aug. 23-Sept. 22

Virgo, we meant to write ‘don’t let the bumps on your path distract you from the excellentness you’re capable of’, but instead we wrote ‘sexcellentness’! And that’s it, Virgo — you’re burning with potential and creativity this week, and sex and art are two great ways to be present with yourself in the midst of so much sexcellent energy.


Sept. 23-Oct. 22

Libra, can you go swimming and keep your hair dry? can you say no to someone without ejecting them? These are the sorts of questions you people are grappling with this week. And the answer is yes, but we can see that you haven’t figured that out yet. So you’re going to worry and worry and worry. Oh, well.


Oct. 23-Nov. 21

Scorpio, this week it’s okay for you to fake it ‘til you make it. In fact, we encourage such fakery. We think it will be the secret to your success. If life requires you to have a glowing tan, but you’re too scared of melanoma to bake yourself by all means, spray it on. No one will know but you. We promise.


Nov. 22-Dec. 21

Sag, you’re not going to feel very clear this week. But you can still be out and about in the world without creating tons of damage. Go and participate in your life, stay open and active, just don’t make any commitments. Offer yourself in an authentic way, but without giving everything away.


Dec. 22-Jan. 19

No jumping around from idea to idea this week, Capricorn. You’ve got to focus. Get very clear about your intentions, and then sit back and let it all play out. You don’t have much control, but if you can muster up some faith in things panning out okay, you’ll manage not to stress.


Jan. 20-Feb. 18

Aquarius, there are too many cooks in the proverbial kitchen and you are confused about who’s ass gets the boot first. There are creative ways to handle the strains and stresses of firing a fleet of chefs, but you better be present with your needs if you want to pull it off well. It all looks really overwhelming.


Feb. 19-March 20

Your feelings aren’t going to go away, Pisces. They’re your feelings, you’re going to have to deal with them. We do hope that you find a way to indulge your emotions without looking to everyone watching (and yes, everyone is watching) that you’re a heartless drama queen. Figure out why, just when you were having such a good time, you freaked out.

Award-winning writer MichelleTea and intuitive counselor JessicaLlanyadoo have been fraternizing with fate for the past lucky seven years. Call Lanyadoo for an astrology or tarot reading at (415) 336-8354. Write to Double Team at lovedoubleteam@hotmail.com.



Crisis on infinite Earths


› omegamutant@techsploitation.com

TECHSPLOITATION This is really embarrassing. Last week I started crying while I was reading a comic book on the StairMaster at the gym. I got into this unenviable, geektastic situation because I’ve been reading everything I can find by Grant Morrison the British comic book writer who reinvented the X-Men in the late 1990s with his fantastic New X-Men series and it just so happened that I wasn’t prepared for the plot of Morrison’s "We3," a short series about three cybernetic animals. Frank Quitely’s anime-influenced art on the cover had me lulled into thinking "We3" would be a tale of animal heroism about a cute talking bunny, kitty, and doggy who escape the evil government that made them into cyber-weapons and find their way home.

But no. Instead, it was one of the most horrifying portraits of war I’ve ever seen. Fluffy creatures are mangled. Soldiers are sliced into bits. A senator pats himself on the back for getting animals to do his dirty human work. The animals, who’ve been given the power of speech and turned into highly efficient assassins via cybernetic implants, couldn’t be more tragic as they try to understand what’s happened to them. When the bunny got shot after innocently asking a human to help him fix his broken tail, I just couldn’t take it anymore. Hence, the tears.

The older I get, the more I’m obsessed with comic books. Ironically, this is partly a result of what many call the end of the comic book. These days publishing houses like Marvel and DC are making most of their money on quality paperbackstyle bound collections, rather than on classic, individual issues. This shift is perfect for someone like me, who started reading comics as books rather than as monthly-installment magazines. Plus, collections are really the only way for a late bloomer like myself to get caught up with the soap operas behind four-decade-old titles like The Hulk and X-Men.

Like video games today, comic books were once the objects of intense moral outrage. During the 1950s anticomic book crusader Frederic Wertham condemned the adventures of Batman, Green Lantern, and pals for promoting juvenile delinquency and homosexuality. Now, of course, his accusations sound positively quaint. How could any type of book promote anything among young people? These days it’s "common sense" that games like Grand Theft Auto and World of Warcraft are to blame for angry kids.

Maybe comic books are the bugaboos of yesteryear, but they still share with video games one subversive characteristic that makes them dangerous to anyone politician, moralist, or other who clings to the status quo. Comic books lend themselves well to fantasies about multiple, parallel universes. Because these are narratives that last over decades and spawn multiple spin-offs by hundreds of different authors and artists, comic books inevitably train readers to imagine how one scenario might lead to several different outcomes. And comics also invite readers to explore how one little change in the present can lead to whole new interpretations of history. There’s even a word retcon, for retroactive continuity that comic book geeks use to describe what happens when a new comic book author changes a character’s history to explain a new present. Like video games, where different characters and players take the game play in new directions, comic books remind us that there is no one perfect path to follow, and that the future can always be changed.

When the retconning and multiple story lines get too complicated, though, sometimes a crisis occurs. Thus the subject of my current obsession: the "crisis on infinite Earths" story lines from DC comics of the 1980s. This was a period when DC decided its authors had created too many parallel worlds containing multiple versions of each character. To solve the problem, DC wiped out all but one Earth and all but one version of every hero, in a plot tangle that spanned several dozen titles. In fact, I don’t claim to understand it all I haven’t read enough from that era. Honestly, it’s probably better in concept than execution.

But I love the concept: the idea that there are many Earths existing in parallel and all of them are having a crisis at the same time. It’s a perfect reminder that our lives are a tangle of possible futures, struggling to extricate themselves from a morass of multiple pasts. Choosing between them, and choosing justly, is what makes heroes out of ordinary people. SFBG

Annalee Newitz is a surly media nerd whose favorite comic book store is still Comix Experience because Brian Hibbs is a hero.

Newsom loses control


› steve@sfbg.com

In the early days, the mayor tried to sound like a practical, hands-on executive who was ready to run San Francisco.

Mayor Gavin Newsom used his inaugural address on Jan. 8, 2004, to emphasize that he was a uniter, not a divider and that he wanted to get things done.

"I say it’s time to start working together to find common purpose and common ground," he proclaimed. "Because I want to make this administration about solutions."

It’s a mantra he’s returned to again and again in his rhetoric on a wide range of issues, claiming a "commonsense" approach while casting "ideology" as an evil to be overcome and as the main motive driving the left-leaning majority of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

"Because it’s easy to be against something," Newsom said on that sunny winter day. "It’s easy to blame. It’s easy to stop…. What’s hard is to hear that maybe to come together, we need to leave behind old ideas and long-held grudges. But that’s exactly what we need to do."

But if that’s the standard, Newsom has spent the past 17 months taking the easy way.

It’s been a marked change from his first-year lovefest, when he tried to legalize same-sex marriage, reach out to BayviewHunters Point residents, and force big hotels to end their lockout of workers.

A Guardian review of the most significant City Hall initiatives during 2005 and 2006 as well as interviews with more than a dozen policy experts and public interest advocates shows that Newsom has been an obstructionist who has proposed few "solutions" to the city’s problems, and followed through on even fewer.

The Board of Supervisors, in sharp contrast, has been taking the policy lead. The majority on the district-elected board in the past year has moved a generally progressive agenda designed to preserve rental units, prevent evictions, strengthen development standards, promote car-free spaces, increase affordable housing, maintain social services, and protect city workers.

Yet many of those efforts have been blocked or significantly weakened by Newsom and his closest allies on the board: Fiona Ma, Sean Elsbernd, Michela Alioto-Pier, and Bevan Dufty. And on efforts to get tough with big business or prevent Muni service cuts and fare hikes, Newsom was able to peel off enough moderate supervisors to stop the progressives led by Chris Daly, Tom Ammiano, and Ross Mirkarimi at the board level.

But one thing that Newsom has proved himself unable to do in the past year is prevent progressive leaders particularly Daly, against whom Newsom has a "long-held grudge" that has on a few recent occasions led to unsavory political tactics and alliances from setting the public agenda for the city.

Balance of power

The Mayor’s Office and the Board of Supervisors are the two poles of power at City Hall and generally the system gives a strong advantage to the mayor, who has far more resources at his disposal, a higher media profile, and the ability to act swiftly and decisively.

Yet over the past year, the three most progressive supervisors along with their liberal-to-moderate colleagues Gerardo Sandoval, Jake McGoldrick, Aaron Peskin, and Sophie Maxwell have initiated the most significant new city policies, dealing with housing, poverty, health care, alternative transportation, violence prevention, and campaign finance reform.

Most political observers and City Hall insiders mark the moment when the board majority took control of the city agenda as last summer, a point when Newsom’s honeymoon ended, progressives filled the leadership void on growth issues, problems like tenants evictions and the murder rate peaked, and Newsom was increasingly giving signs that he wasn’t focused on running the city.

"Gay marriage gave the mayor his edge and gave him cover for a long time," said Tommi Avicolli Mecca, a queer and tenants rights activist. "About a year ago that started to wear off, and his armor started to be shed."

Daly was the one supervisor who had been aggressively criticizing Newsom during that honeymoon period. To some, Daly seemed isolated and easy to dismiss at least until August 2005, when Daly negotiated a high-profile deal with the developers of the Rincon Hill towers that extracted more low-income housing and community-benefits money than the city had ever seen from a commercial project.

The Newsom administration watched the negotiations from the sidelines. The mayor signed off on the deal, but within a couple months turned into a critic and said he regretted supporting it. Even downtown stalwarts like the public policy think tank San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association noted the shift in power.

"I think we saw a different cut on the issue than we’ve seen before," SPUR executive director Gabriel Metcalf told us. "Chris Daly is not a NIMBY. I see Chris Daly as one of the supervisors most able to deal with physical change, and he’s not afraid of urbanism…. And he’s been granted by the rest of the board a lot of leadership in the area of land use."

SPUR and Metcalf were critical of aspects of the Daly deal, such as where the money would go. But after the deal, Newsom and his minions, like press secretary Peter Ragone, had a harder time demonizing Daly and the board (although they never stopped trying).

Around that same time, hundreds of evictions were galvanizing the community of renters which makes up around two-thirds of city residents. Newsom tried to find some compromise on the issue, joining Peskin to convene a task force composed of tenants activists, developers, and real estate professionals, hoping that the group could find a way to prevent evictions while expanding home ownership opportunities.

"The mayor views the striking of balance between competing interests as an important approach to governing," Ragone told the Guardian after we explained the array of policy disputes this story would cover.

The task force predictably fell apart after six meetings. "The mayor was trying to find a comfortable way to get out of the issue," said Mecca, a member of the task force. But with some issues, there simply is no comfortable solution; someone’s going to be unhappy with the outcome. "When that failed," Mecca said, "there was nowhere for him to go anymore."

The San Francisco Tenants Union and its allies decided it was time to push legislation that would protect tenants, organizing an effective campaign that finally forced Newsom into a reactionary mode. The mayor wound up siding overtly with downtown interests for the first time in his mayoral tenure and in the process, he solidified the progressive board majority.

Housing quickly became the issue that defines differences between Newsom and the board.

Free-market policy

"The Newsom agenda has been one of gentrification," said San Francisco Tenants Union director Ted Gullicksen. The mayor and his board allies have actively opposed placing limitations on the high number of evictions (at least until the most recent condo conversion measure, which Dufty and Newsom supported, a victory tenants activists attribute to their organizing efforts), while at the same time encouraging development patterns that "bring in more high-end condominiums and saturate the market with that," Gullicksen explained.

He pointed out that those two approaches coalesce into a doubly damaging policy on the issue of converting apartments into condominiums, which usually displace low-income San Franciscans, turn an affordable rental unit into an expensive condominium, and fill the spot with a higher-income owner.

"So you really get a two-on-one transformation of the city," Gullicksen said.

Newsom’s allies don’t agree, noting that in a city where renters outnumber homeowners two to one, some loss of rental housing is acceptable. "Rather than achieve their stated goals of protecting tenants, the real result is a barrier to home ownership," Elsbernd told us, explaining his vote against all four recent tenant-protection measures.

On the development front, Gullicksen said Newsom has actively pushed policies to develop housing that’s unaffordable to most San Franciscans as he did with his failed Workforce Housing Initiative and some of his area plans while maintaining an overabundance of faith in free-market forces.

"He’s very much let the market have what the market wants, which is high-end luxury housing," Gullicksen said.

As a result, Mecca said, "I think we in the tenant movement have been effective at making TICs a class issue."

Affordable housing activists say there is a marked difference between Newsom and the board majority on housing.

"The Board of Supervisors is engaged in an active pursuit of land-use policy that attempts to preserve as much affordable housing, as much rental housing, as much neighborhood-serving businesses as possible," longtime housing activist Calvin Welch told us. "And the mayor is totally and completely lining up with downtown business interests."

Welch said Newsom has shown where he stands in the appointments he makes such as that of Republican planning commissioner Michael Antonini, and his nomination of Ted Dienstfrey to run Treasure Island, which the Rules Committee recently rejected and by the policies he supports.

Welch called Daly’s Rincon deal "precedent setting and significant." It was so significant that downtown noticed and started pushing back.


Board power really coalesced last fall. In addition to the housing and tenant issues, Ammiano brought forward a plan that would force businesses to pay for health insurance plans for their employees. That galvanized downtown and forced Newsom to finally make good on his promise to offer his own plan to deal with the uninsured but the mayor offered only broad policy goals, and the plan itself is still being developed.

It was in this climate that many of Newsom’s big-business supporters, including Don Fisher the Republican founder of the Gap who regularly bankrolls conservative political causes in San Francisco demanded and received a meeting with Newsom. The December sit-down was attended by a who’s who of downtown developers and power brokers.

"That was a result of them losing their ass on Rincon Hill," Welch said of the meeting.

The upshot according to public records and Guardian interviews with attendees was that Newsom agreed to oppose an ordinance designed to limit how much parking could be built along with the 10,000 housing units slated for downtown. The mayor instead would support a developer-written alternative carried by Alioto-Pier.

The measure downtown opposed was originally sponsored by Daly before being taken over by Peskin. It had the strong support of Newsom’s own planning director, Dean Macris, and was approved by the Planning Commission on a 61 vote (only Newsom’s Republican appointee, Antonini, was opposed).

The process that led to the board’s 74 approval of the measure was politically crass and embarrassing for the Mayor’s Office (see “Joining the Battle,” 2/8/06), but he kept his promise and vetoed the measure. The votes of his four allies were enough to sustain the veto.

Newsom tried to save face in the ugly saga by pledging to support a nearly identical version of the measure, but with just a couple more giveaways to developers: allowing them to build more parking garages and permitting more driveways with their projects.

Political observers say the incident weakened Newsom instead of strengthening him.

"They can’t orchestrate a move. They are only acting by vetoes, and you can’t run the city by vetoes," Welch said. "He never puts anything on the line, and that’s why the board has become so emboldened."

Rippling out

The Newsom administration doesn’t seem to grasp how housing issues or symbolic issues like creating car-free spaces or being wary of land schemes like the BayviewHunters Point redevelopment plan shape perceptions of other issues. As Welch said, "All politics in San Francisco center around land use."

N’Tanya Lee, executive director of Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, said the Newsom administration has done a very good job of maintaining budgetary support for programs dealing with children, youth, and their families. But advocates have relied on the leadership of progressive supervisors like Daly to push affordable housing initiatives like the $20 million budget supplemental the board initiated and approved in April.

"Our primary concern is that low- and moderate-income families are being pushed out of San Francisco," Lee told us. "We’re redefining what it means to be pro-kid and pro-family in San Francisco."

Indeed, that’s a very different approach from the so-called pro-family agenda being pushed by SFSOS and some of Newsom’s other conservative allies, who argue that keeping taxes low while keeping the streets and parks safe and clean is what families really want. But Lee worries more about ensuring that families have reasonably priced shelter.

So she and other affordable housing advocates will be watching closely this summer as the board and Newsom deal with Daly’s proposal to substantially increase the percentage of affordable housing developers must build under the city’s inclusionary-housing policy. Newsom’s downtown allies are expected to strongly oppose the plan.

Even on Newsom’s signature issue, the board has made inroads.

"In general, on the homeless issue, the supervisor who has shown the most strong and consistent leadership has been Chris Daly," said Coalition on Homelessness director Juan Prada.

Prada credits the mayor with focusing attention on the homeless issue, although he is critical of the ongoing harassment of the homeless by the Police Department and the so-called Homeward Bound program that gives homeless people one-way bus tickets out of town.

"This administration has a genuine interest in homeless issues, which the previous one didn’t have, but they’re banking too much on the Care Not Cash approach," Prada said.

Other Newsom initiatives to satisfy his downtown base of support have also fallen flat.

Robert Haaland of the city employee labor union SEIU Local 790 said Newsom has tried to reform the civil service system and privatize some city services, but has been stopped by labor and the board.

"They were trying to push a privatization agenda, and we pushed back," Haaland said, noting that Supervisor Ma’s alliance with Newsom on that issue was the reason SEIU 790 endorsed Janet Reilly over Ma in the District 12 Assembly race.

The turning point on the issue came last year, when the Newsom administration sought to privatize the security guards at the Asian Art Museum as a cost-saving measure. The effort was soundly defeated in the board’s Budget Committee.

"That was a key vote, and they lost, so I don’t think they’ll be coming back with that again," Haaland said, noting that labor has managed to win over Dufty, giving the board a veto-proof majority on privatization issues.

Who’s in charge?

Even many Newsom allies will privately grumble that Newsom isn’t engaged enough with the day-to-day politics of the city. Again and again, Newsom has seemed content to watch from the sidelines, as he did with Supervisor Mirkarimi’s proposal to create a public financing program for mayoral candidates.

"The board was out front on that, while the mayor stayed out of it until the very end," said Steven Hill, of the Center for Voting and Democracy, who was involved with the measure. And when the administration finally did weigh in, after the board had approved the plan on a veto-proof 92 vote, Newsom said the measure didn’t go far enough. He called for public financing for all citywide offices but never followed up with an actual proposal.

The same has been true on police reform and violence prevention measures. Newsom promised to create a task force to look into police misconduct, to hold a blue-ribbon summit on violence prevention, and to implement a community policing system with grassroots input and none of that has come to pass.

Then, when Daly took the lead in creating a community-based task force to develop violence prevention programs with an allocation of $10 million a year for three years Measure A on the June ballot Newsom and his board allies opposed the effort, arguing the money would be better spent on more cops (see “Ballot-Box Alliance,” page 19).

"He’s had bad counsel on this issue of violence all the way through," said Sharen Hewitt, who runs the Community Leadership Academy Emergency Response project. "He has not done damn near enough from his position, and neither has the board."

Hewitt worries that current city policies, particularly on housing, are leading to class polarization that could make the problems of violence worse. And while Newsom’s political allies tend to widen the class divide, she can’t bring herself to condemn the mayor: "I think he’s a nice guy and a lot smarter than people have given him credit for."

Tom Radulovich, who sits on the BART board and serves as executive director of Transportation for a Livable City (which is in the process of changing its name to Livable City), said Newsom generally hasn’t put much action behind his rhetorical support for the environment and transit-first policies.

"Everyone says they’re pro-environment," he said.

In particular, Radulovich was frustrated by Newsom’s vetoes of the downtown parking and Healthy Saturdays measures and two renter-protection measures. The four measures indicated very different agendas pursued by Newsom and the board majority.

In general, Radulovich often finds his smart-growth priorities opposed by Newsom’s allies. "The moneyed interests usually line up against livable city, good planning policies," he said. On the board, Radulovich said it’s no surprise that the three supervisors from the wealthiest parts of town Ma, Elsbernd, and Alioto-Pier generally vote against initiatives he supports.

"Dufty is the oddity because he represents a pretty progressive, urbane district," Radulovich said, "but he tends to vote like he’s from a more conservative district."

What’s next?

The recent lawsuit by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the Committee of Jobs urging more aggressive use of a voter-approved requirement that board legislation undergo a detailed economic analysis shows that downtown is spoiling for a fight (see “Downtown’s ‘Hail Mary’ Lawsuit,” page 9). So politics in City Hall is likely to heat up.

"There is a real absence of vision and leadership in the city right now, particularly on the question of who will be able to afford to live in San Francisco 20 years from now," Mirkarimi said. "There is a disparity between Newsom hitting the right notes in what the press and public want to hear and between the policy considerations that will put those positions into effect."

But Newsom’s allies say they plan to stand firm against the ongoing effort by progressives to set the agenda.

"I think I am voting my constituency," Elsbernd said. "I’m voting District Seven and voicing a perspective of a large part of the city that the progressive majority doesn’t represent."

Newsom flack Ragone doesn’t accept most of the narratives that are laid out by activists, from last year’s flip in the balance of power to the influence of downtown and Newsom’s wealthy benefactors on his decision to veto four measures this year.

"Governing a city like San Francisco is complex. There are many areas of nuance in governing this city," Ragone said. "Everyone knows Gavin Newsom defies traditional labels. That’s not part of a broad political strategy, but just how he governs."

Yet the majority of the board seems unafraid to declare where they stand on the most divisive issues facing the city.

"The board has really, since the 2000 election has been pushing a progressive set of policies as it related to housing, just-taxation policies, and an array of social service provisions," Peskin said. "All come with some level of controversy, because none are free." SFBG

Love bites


As any George Romero fan knows, it’s utterly impossible to contain a zombie invasion. No San Francisco–set discussion of reanimated corpses should go without mentioning Bad Date, a work-in-progress by locals Sadie Shaw and Alison Childs.

A photographer who also plays guitar with the Husbands (yep, that’s a zombie on the cover of their latest Swami Records release, There’s Nothing I’d Like More Than to See You Dead), Shaw is also known for Charm, the 2003 feature she made with fellow Husband Sarah Reed. Visually, she’s inspired by Cindy Sherman and Weegee; filmically, she’s a fan of campy horror — and gore.

Psychological thriller Charm was shot on Super 8 film, with all of the dialogue and music added in postproduction. The popular soundtrack features songs tailored to specific scenes by artists like the Aislers Set and Deerhoof. For Bad Date, which runs modern romance through a meat grinder, Shaw and Childs turned to digital video to realize their zombie dreams.

“I just really love that the technology is available to people without money,” says Shaw. “I don’t think that people should have to go to film school to make movies.”

Graphic designer Childs also plays the lead in Bad Date, which she sums up thusly: “A couple goes on a date, and it goes really poorly.” (The tagline of the film is “When you think it’s gotten bad, it can only get worse.”) Turns out the couple are surrounded by partyers sipping on tainted beer; zombies ensue. Though Shaw describes Bad Date (shot in Port Costa, a small town on the Contra Costa inlet with such ideal locations as a decaying former brothel) as “lighthearted,” the special effects are serious business. The film features work by Ross Sewage and Pie Ironside, both of whom earn high praise from the directors.

Despite busy lives aside from filmmaking, both women view Bad Date (projected total cost: $7,000) as an essential creative outlet. After its completion next year, they plan to tour the country with it, rock ’n’ roll style. The bond the two directors have forged over the project in the past year is echoed by their collaborators, some of whom have embraced the concept that romance is, in fact, undead: “We’ve actually made some good dates happen out of Bad Date,” Shaw says with a laugh. (Cheryl Eddy)

Charm is available at www.microcinema.com

Blood brothers


› cheryl@sfbg.com

It’s Easter weekend in the Mission District, and despite the rabbit snuffling around Rick Popko’s backyard, Cadbury eggs are the last thing on anyone’s mind. "I think we’ve killed everyone we know," Popko explains grimly, grabbing his cell phone to try and recruit one more zombie for the final day of filming on the horror comedy RetarDEAD. Moments later, Popko and RetarDEAD codirector Dan West survey the scene in Popko’s basement. To put it mildly, it’s a bloodbath: The ceiling, walls, and carpet are dripping with cherry red splatters. A smoke machine sits primed for action near a table loaded with gore-flecked prop firearms.

Waste not

Several weeks later (plus several coats of paint, though a faint pinkness lingers), what had been a gruesome morgue has now reverted to its natural domestic state, save an editing station assembled at one end. A framed poster commemorating Popko and West’s first feature, 2003’s Monsturd, hangs on a nearby wall.

Monsturd is a true B-movie. Thanks to some seriously weird science, a serial killer morphs into a giant hunk of raging poop. Drawn into this sordid small-town tale are an evil doctor, a down-and-out sheriff, and an intense FBI agent, plus Popko and West as a pair of screwball deputies. Toilet jokes abound. After a three-day premiere at San Francisco’s Victoria Theatre, Monsturd found some success on video, most triumphantly surfacing in Blockbuster after the chain purchased 4,000 DVD copies.

Popko and West hope Monsturd‘s cult notoriety will aid RetarDEAD, which happens to be its direct sequel. It starts exactly where Monsturd ended. "Dr. Stern [the mad scientist played by Popko-West pal Dan Burr] rises from the sewer," West explains. "He gets a job at an institute for special education and starts a test group on these special ed students. They become remarkably intelligent, and then the side effect is they become zombies."

"In a nutshell, we kind of liken it to Flowers for Algernon meets Night of the Living Dead," Popko interjects.

"It’s a background gag to get the whole premise of the joke title. People go, ‘Well, why is it RetarDEAD?’ It’s because we needed a gimmick," says West, adding that the title came before the film (and was settled upon after an early choice, Special Dead, was snatched up by another production).

Best friends since bonding over a shared love of Tom Savini, circa 1984, at Napa’s St. Helena High School, Popko and West are so well matched creatively that Burr describes them as "like the left hand and the right hand" on the same body. Both are keen on beguiling titles. Monsturd‘s original moniker (Number Two, Part One) was dropped after being deemed too esoteric; Monsturd, they figured, would solicit more interest in video stores.

"We knew it’s such a stupid title that you would have to rent it just to see if it was as dumb as you thought it was," West explains. And for self-financed filmmakers like West and Popko (who both have full-time jobs and estimate they spent $3,000 on Monsturd and $12,000 to $14,000 so far on RetarDEAD), clever marketing strategies are essential.

"We have to think, when we’re making these movies, what can we sell, what can we get out there, what can we make a name for ourselves with?" Popko says.

"On this level, you go to the exploitation rule, which is give ’em what Hollywood cannot or will not make," West adds. "And they’re not gonna make Monsturd."

Dirty deeds . . .

Monsturd took years to complete and taught the duo scores about the capriciousness of the DVD distribution biz. Though one review dubbed it "the greatest movie that Troma never made," Popko and West actually turned down a deal with the famed schlock house, unwilling to sign over the rights to their film for 25 years. After hooking up with another distributor, they didn’t see any money from their Blockbuster coup. Still, they remain proud of Monsturd and its success.

"We tried to make it the best movie we possibly could, but we had nothing," West explains. "We didn’t piss it out in a weekend. It took a year to shoot it, then it took a year to put the thing together."

"We didn’t just shit out a crappy movie, pardon the pun," Popko says.

Neither filmmaker seems concerned that their trash-tastic subject matter might prevent them from being taken seriously as artists. And it doesn’t bother them that Monsturd‘s joke tends to overshadow the film itself not just for viewers, but for critics, who were by and large polarized by the killer shit-man tale.

Popko also recalls unsuccessfully submitting Monsturd to a half dozen film festivals intended to showcase DV and underground flicks. Quickly pointing out that the film got picked up anyway, he blames image-conscious programmers: "It’s like, how can you have a respectable film festival when you’ve got a shit monster movie playing in it?"

Though Popko and West live in San Francisco and filmed both Monsturd and RetarDEAD in Northern California, they say they don’t feel like part of the San Francisco filmmaking scene. Again, they suspect the whiff of poo might have something to do with it.

"We’ve kind of been ignored," West says. "We’re not bitter about it, but it would be nice to be acknowledged for what we’re doing we’re making exploitation films, and we don’t really have any guilt about what we’re doing. It’d be nice for somebody to develop a sense of humor and acknowledge it once in a while."

. . . done dirt cheap

As with Monsturd, RetarDEAD is a nearly all-volunteer effort, pieced together when the responsibilities of real life permit. Despite the obstacles say, a sudden insurance crisis involving a rented cop car unpredictability is clearly part of the thrill.

"When you undertake this shit, it’s an adventure: ‘What did you do this weekend?’ ‘Well, I was chased by 42 zombies, and the weekend before that, a bunch of burlesque dancers ripped our villain apart and ripped his face off,’” West explains. "It’s like, how else would you spend your free time?"

This sentiment extends to the film’s cast, several of whom have known Popko and West for years and reprise their Monsturd roles in its sequel. Coming aboard for RetarDEAD were members of San Francisco’s Blue Blanket Improv group, as well as the Living Dead Girlz, a zombie-flavored local dance troupe.

Beth West, who jokingly calls herself a "fake actor," stars in both films as the X-Files-ish FBI agent (Dan West’s former wife, she was roped into the first production after the original lead dropped out). Despite both films’ bare-bones shoots and other concerns, like trying (and failing) to keep continuity with her hairstyle over multiple years of filming she remains upbeat about the experience: "I loved being part of such a big creative effort."

Though his character is torn to shreds in RetarDEAD, Burr agrees. "This film is going to be 100 times better than the last one, as far as direction, camera shots everyone was more serious this time," he says. He hopes that RetarDEAD will help Popko and West expand their audience. "Someone’s gonna notice the talent there. Maybe not in the acting, but this is these guys’ lives. It’s never been my whole dream, but it’s always been their whole dream."

Splatter-day saints

For RetarDEAD, technical improvements over Monsturd, including the introduction of tracking shots, were important considerations. However, first things first: "We knew we wanted this to be gory as fuck," West says. An ardent fan of Herschell Gordon Lewis notorious for stomach turners like 1963’s Blood Feast West once hoped to lens a biopic of Lewis and his producing partner, David Friedman. Though it was never completed, he did get the Godfather of Gore’s permission to use a snippet of dialogue from the project in RetarDEAD.

"This whole thing begins with his intro it’s like that Charlton Heston thing for Armageddon, where it’s like the voice of God but it’s Herschell Gordon Lewis talking about gore," West says. "It was the one way I could go to my grave saying I finally figured out a way to work with Herschell Gordon Lewis."

Appropriately enough, RetarDEAD pays homage to Lewis’s signature style. "Monsturd had a couple of bloody scenes in it, but it was pretty tame," Popko says. "This here, we’re planning on passing out barf bags at the premiere because, I mean, it’s gross. We’ve got intestines and chain saws and blood all over the place."

Overseeing the splatter was director of special effects Ed Martinez, one of the few additional crew members (and one of few who were paid). A late addition to the production, he "made the movie what it is," according to West.

"A zombie film in this day and age, you can’t do amateur-quality makeup and get away with it it’ll be a flop," says Martinez, who teaches special effects makeup at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University and is a veteran of films like The Dead Pit. "And [Popko and West] know that."

Though Martinez is used to working on bigger projects, he stuck with RetarDEAD dreaming up such elaborate moments as a Day of the Deadinspired man-ripped-in-half sequence because, as he says, "In a way, I’m a coconspirator now." He also appreciates the directors’ sheer enthusiasm and appreciation. After a killer take, they were "literally high-fiving me. Most low-budget filmmakers are so egocentric they would rarely do anything like that. Good effects are important, but they’re not the only things that are important."

Dawn of RetarDEAD

Though a third movie in the Popko-West canon is already in the planning stages (Satanists!), it’s looking like several months before RetarDEAD still being edited from 30-plus hours of raw footage has its world premiere.

"We only get one to two nights a week to do this," Popko explains. Making movies for a living is the ultimate dream, but for now, both men view their films as being in the tradition of early John Waters: made outside the system and laden with as much bad taste as they please. Potential distributors have already advised the pair to adjust RetarDEAD‘s divisive title, a notion they considered "for about five minutes," according to West.

Popko and West’s films may be throwbacks to the drive-in era, but their outlook on the movie biz is actually quite forward-looking. Popko "the carnival barker" to West’s "guy behind the curtain pulling levers and switching things," according to Burr anticipates a day when tangling with queasy distributors won’t even be necessary, because many films will simply be released directly over the Internet. Both directors are also very interested in high-definition technology; they plan to upgrade from their old DV camera to a new HD model for their next effort, for reasons beyond a desire for better visual quality.

"What HD has done is bring grind house back," West says. "Now you can make stuff on a level that can compete, aesthetically, with what Hollywood’s doing almost. As far as your talent, you’ll be able to compete realistically with other movies. Now people can make good horror movies on their own terms."

"If you really want to make a movie, you can," Popko notes, stressing the importance of production values. Though the cutthroat nature of the indie film world is always on their minds, they welcome the new wave of B-movies that HD may herald.

"Now, there aren’t movies like Shriek of the Mutilated that were done in the 1970s, which could compete [with Hollywood]. These movies can now come back into the fold as long as they’re shot on HD and there will be a shit fest like none other," West predicts, adding that he’s looking forward to the deluge. "The world’s a better place with shitty movies in it." SFBG

The Guardian presents Monsturd

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› andrea@altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea:
When my husband and I first got together in our mid 40s 10 years ago, he was fairly adventurous in bed, and I’m sure you saw this coming, but now the sex is really boring. No spontaneity, nothing different than intercourse, no passion. It’s like brushing your teeth a necessary nuisance except it gets the sheets dirty.

I know I have half the blame, but when I’ve come on to him at other than the "usual" time and location, he’s tired or has something else important to do that I didn’t know about. He does work long hours. I’ve tried fancy underwear. Sex toys don’t really interest him. Bubble baths are history. He prefers to shower alone. I’m reluctant to arrange for an X-rated video because the ones I’ve seen can be really distasteful. And I don’t want to get sexually aroused by something that doesn’t excite him.

We love each other very much, and neither of us is getting any action on the side. Suggestions?


Midlife Stasis

Dear Stace:
See, this is why I hate sex advice columns. We’ve been out here for decades, dishing out the same old tired cure-alls (well, not me, of course!) without, frankly, really having the slightest idea if they work or not. There are efficacy studies on therapy but not, as far as I know, on fancy underwear or weekends away, and yet off everyone dutifully trudges to the bed-and-breakfasts and the Kama Sutra Dust and the surprise appearances naked except for (choose two) frivolous footwear, plastic wrap, leather collar, chocolate sauce. Is it any wonder that by now people with troubled sex lives just sort of automatically print out one of these mental checklists and grimly put themselves and their partners through the paces, exactly the same way they got themselves into trouble in the first place? Keeping a sex life lively takes thought, not just a menu of goofy variations, and bringing one back from the dead takes just as much thinking, if not more. Put down the list and let’s think about this.

First off, I ask you to differentiate between "seriously no more exciting than brushing your teeth" and "normal for 10 years into a midlife relationship." Not that I think the latter has to be tooth-brushingly dull, mind you, but let’s all give ourselves a break and remember that things do tend to get a little, well, let’s call it "familiar," once we have enough years together under our belts. There are worse things than familiarity.

Next, I wonder if you have any idea what, if anything, he might be interested in trying. And not to slag your personal tastes or anything, but showering together and bubble baths are not sex acts; they’re hygiene acts, and rather femmy ones at that. Nice enough as far as they go, but I’m not surprised he wasn’t overcome with passion at the mere idea of sharing a moisturizing lilac-hibiscus bath bomb with you. The only thing on your list I see as having any serious hotcha-hotcha potential is the porn, which you are shying away from. I have no doubt that you’ve seen something icky, but there’s so much choice out there that I hate to see you shrug off the entire category without even taking a peek at the reviews on sex toy sites like Blowfish and Good Vibrations. Hardworking lesbians were paid inadequate wages to watch and review all that stuff! They’re bound to have seen something that both you and your husband would find acceptable. I notice that you didn’t say he finds porn distasteful, just that you have, in the past. Your concern that you might be turned on while he isn’t well, if that isn’t a bridge to cross when you get there I don’t know what is.

I don’t, by the way, recommend just swapping out his Sopranos DVDs for Driving Miss Daisy Crazy II without warning. You are not trying to trick him into an accidental resurgence of passion. Here’s what I suggest: You didn’t specify “the ‘usual’ time and location," but you did say you have one. If it isn’t earlyish in the morning, in bed, try that. Few men, even busy, tired men, will turn down a roll in the hay if all it takes to get one is rolling over. If it works, you can talk later, emphasizing not the part about how unsatisfied and neglected you’ve been feeling, but how nice it was to rekindle things all accidental-like this morning what fun! And damned if it didn’t leave you feeling a bit frisky. Would he like, perhaps, a little blow job? Or how about you set aside Friday evening to watch some of these prevetted, guaranteed nondisgusting, and yet oddly stimuutf8g DVDs you rented? I don’t expect this to work in the absence of an afterglow or some reasonable facsimile thereof, so strike while the iron is, if not exactly hot, at least still plugged in.


Ballot-box alliance


› gwschulz@sfbg.com

Maggie Agnew knows more about gun violence than anyone should ever have to know. Three of her children have been murdered since 1986, all of them during altercations that involved guns.

The church she attends has done all it can to help her and other parents of homicide victims. But not everyone attends church, she says. More needs to be done.

That’s why she along with three other women affected by the city’s epidemic of violence has signed her name to Proposition A, a June ballot measure authored by Sup. Chris Daly.

Prop. A would allocate $10 million a year for homicide-prevention services from the city’s General Fund for each of the next three years.

It would also create a survivors’ fund in the District Attorney’s Office to assist with burial expenses and counseling.

Agnew says that it’s a good start.

"There are so many parents who are like me; they can barely have a funeral and bury their children," Agnew told the Guardian recently. "You’re left with big bills, heartache, and pain. If you don’t have support, you’re out in the cold."

The Prop. A campaign is about more than just the relatively modest $10 million. Progressives and communities of color have begun to build an alliance around the measure that hasn’t always existed in the past which is a polite way of referring to the left’s sometime failure to address problems afflicting minority communities.

The San Francisco Peoples’ Organization, PowerPAC, and two past presidents of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club have appeared as supporters in election literature, along with Agnew, Betty Cooper, Kechette Walls Powell, and Mattie Scott, four women who have lost relatives to homicide. The effort began earlier this year as the board debated making supplemental appropriations from surplus budget money for similar support services after the city’s homicide rate approached the triple digits.

Sharen Hewitt, director of the Community Leadership Academy Emergency Response project, said the alliance is a small step in the right direction.

"It ain’t been no lovefest," she said frankly. "I am a progressive, as you know. But my community has been dropping dead in the street, and we’ve been focused on bike lanes…. We came together with a struggle."

Hewitt said the proposition allows for a considerable amount of flexibility: Money will go to the neighborhoods most affected by homicide, not simply those presumed to be in the most need. Overall, she said, the city has relied too much on the police, and the symptoms of violence, such as poverty, still need to be addressed.

"We have to be candid with each other, so we can form a real progressive agenda and not leave anyone behind," Hewitt said.

Prop. A is not without its critics. Sups. Sean Elsbernd, Michela Alioto-Pier, and Jake McGoldrick and Mayor Gavin Newsom all oppose it.

San Francisco is already struggling to abide by a charter mandate that requires the city to maintain a force of at least 1,971 police officers at all times, critics complain. Newsom and his allies on the board believe hiring new cops is more important than what the ballot measure proposes.

Elsbernd told us he’s also opposed to Prop. A because it locks in yet more budget requirements, when supplemental appropriations could be used to keep control in the hands of board members.

"My concern is it’s a set-aside," he said. "It binds the hands of the executive and legislative branches…. This is ballot-box budgeting."

Money from Prop. A would target areas with high rates of violence by focusing services on job creation and workforce training, conflict resolution, substance abuse and mental health treatment, and probation and witness relocation services. The measure would also form an 11-member community planning council charged with drafting and revising an annual homicide-prevention plan.

PowerPAC president Steve Phillips agrees with the other Prop. A proponents that the police approach hasn’t been sufficient, and says progressives and minorities need to show more allied leadership to promote better answers.

"There’s been an epidemic of violence that the city’s been unable to address," he said. "We wanted to give money to those communities most impacted by violence." SFBG