Volume 40 Number 41

July 12 – July 18, 2006

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FEAST: the Guardian Guide to spring food and drink


Click here to check out out FEAST picks!

Taking it in

It’s no secret that we are what we eat. But it’s as true on a collective level as it is on a personal one. I’ve been struck by this fact as I’ve toured my new hometown with an eye for Bloody Marys and bloody steaks, learning about the life, vibrancy, art, and activism of San Francisco through its tamales and tajines. Having come most recently from Los Angeles, with the strip-mall predictability of its restaurants, I find myself falling more in love with this bayside city with every PBR I polish off. Not that there aren’t good places to eat in LA — there are. But a city’s culinary landscape is indicative of its culture, values, and politics — and while LA’s sweet spots are few and far between, hidden, often elitist, usually too expensive, and always hard to get to (hello, traffic), San Francisco’s are plentiful, varied, egalitarian, ecofriendly, and accessible. They have personality and heart. They provide nourishment and pleasure. Most of all, they serve damned good food. This is a guide to this city’s characteristic places for dining and drinking, the places that express our great diversity and our activist nature, the places that cater to our exciting nightlife and to the many ways we recover from it. From green restaurants to places to get cocktails, from high-end to lowbrow, from ethnic treasures to all-American classics, these are some of our favorites. This list is by no means comprehensive, as we are blessed to live in a city with so much to offer that a full list of places worth visiting would read like a phone book. For even more, check out our weekly restaurant reviews, in the paper and online at www.sfbg.com, and keep an eye out for our Best of the Bay issue in July. And in the meantime, raise your glass — or your fork — to the fact that we live in one of the most exciting, eclectic, good-eatin’ cities in the world. I for one am happy to drink to that.

Molly Freedenberg

Feast 2007 editor






Peter Olney

Discuss with Peter Olney, director of organizing for the ILWU, Jack Ramus of the National Writers Union-UAW Local 1981, and Blob Blanchet of Young Workers United how to organize a labor group. (Deborah Giattina)

ILWU Local 6 Hall
255 Ninth St., SF
www.laborfest.net SFBG


Viking Moses, Whysp, and Chinatown Bakeries

Impressionist folk from Tunas, Mo., picks up a show with sprawling Bay Area out-folk collective Whysp, and SF eccentrics Chinatown Bakeries. (Kimberly Chun)

Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF
9:30 p.m.
(415) 923-0923





Cannibal Ox

Holy graveyards, Batman! Long dormant hip-hop duo Cannibal Ox are back, which is damn good news for laypeople and heads alike. While it’s hard to make out what the mist-shrouded future holds, the new Return of the Ox: Live at CMJ (Definitive Jux) disc shows that they’re serious about hard-hitting shows and putting new material out there – attendance is advised. (Michael Harkin)

With 4th Pyramid
9 p.m.
628 Divisadero, SF
(415) 771-1421



Longtime Bay Area impressario and DJ Neil Martinsen unveils his favorite live performers and uber-danceable indie and pop selections. On his birthday, yet. Hardplace, Silver Sunshine, and Master Moth join the festivities. (Kimberly Chun)

Knockout, 3223 Mission, SF
10 p.m.
(415) 550-6994





“Film Market”

Ever wonder what your favorite nightclub would be like if it were a movie theater? Your idle speculation is no longer necessary! Local art films and live music converge at the Bottom of the Hill’s “Film Market,” where seven short films will be shown before you’re reminded of the building’s usual (but hardly ignoble) purpose with sets by two killer bands. The musical lineup features Loop!station, whose minimal, hook-filled brand of bebop grounds itself in cello loops and a smoky female pop vocal, as well as cheery local indie-poppers Schande, fronted by Jen Chochinov of Boyskout. (Michael Harkin)

6 p.m.
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th St., SF
(415) 621-4455


On the Edge: The Femicide in Ciudad Juárez

In 2001, when Lourdes Portillo completed Señorita Extraviada, over 400 women had disappeared from the maquiladora border town of Ciudad Juárez – Portillo’s scathing film about those kidnappings, rapes, and murders noted that during the year and a half it took her to make the movie, 50 more women had died. Five years later, Steev Hise’s documentary On the Edge: The Femicide in Ciudad Juárez faces a situation that remains ignored and unresolved. (Johnny Ray Huston)

8 p.m.
Artists’ Television Access
992 Valencia, SF
(415) 824-3890





“Cosmic Wonder”

Green baked goods, acid flashbacks, good times, bad trips – one expects all that and more packed into the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ latest extravaganza, “Cosmic Wonder,” guest curated by onetime Bay Area promoter, writer, and all-around nightlife scenester Betty Nguyen. The opening-night party will likely make you want to dunk your head in the Kool-Aid: Dreamy, drifting NY freak-folked collective Feathers headline with music culled from their recent self-titled disc on Gnomonsong. (Kimberly Chun)

July 15-Nov. 5.
Opening night party Fri/14, 8-11 p.m.
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts,
701 Mission, SF.
Opening party admission $12-$15.
Regular admission $3-$6.
(415) 978-ARTS


Erika Shuch Performance Project

Dancer- choreographer Erika Shuch is a Bay Area wild child. She is running, always. Where to? She probably doesn’t know. But she usually ends up in some unusual places. Orbit examines that search for connection between us and whatever – if anything – is “out there.” (Rita Felciano)

Through Aug. 5.
Thurs-Sat, 8 p.m.
Intersection for the Arts
446 Valencia, SF.
$9-$20, sliding scale.
(415) 626-3311





Kid Beyond

If there was an Olympic gold medal awarded for beatboxing, Kid Beyond would win it. It’s not just his vocal flexibility that impresses, but the way he weaves these sounds into accomplished arrangements of complex tunes. (Nicole Gluckstern)

With Shotgun Wedding Quintet,
Zoe Keating, and Rondo Brothers
9 p.m.
333 11th St., SF
(415) 255-0333



That bullet-domed voleur Jean Genet, always scheming. Whether it was inspired by French history or sprang forth in full filth and glory from the author’s mind, The Balcony counts as one of his best-known theatrical pieces about class and sex and power. Troijka is an adaptation of the play from No Nude Men Productions, which isn’t into pandering of the Falcon-video- star-as- stage-actor variety. (Johnny Ray Huston)

Through Sat/16
8 p.m.
Climate Theatre
285 Ninth St., SF
(415) 621-1203

Mexico splits in half


MEXICO CITY (July 11th) — A full week after the most viciously contested presidential election in its modern history, a Florida-sized fraud looms over the Mexican landscape and the nation has been divided almost exactly in half along political, economic, geographical and racial lines.

Mexico has always been two lands — “Illusionary Mexico” and “Profound Mexico” is how sociologist Guillermo Bonfils described the great divide between rich and poor. But now, should it be allowed to stand, right-winger Felipe Calderon’s severely questioned 243,000 vote victory over left-wing populist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) will split the country exactly in half between the industrial north and the impoverished, highly indigenous south with each winning 16 states — although the southern states won by Lopez Obrador, who also won Mexico City by a million votes, constitute 54% of the population.

Moreover, the disputed election pits an indignant Indian and mestizo underclass that believes AMLO was swindled out of the presidency by electoral fraud against a wealthy white conservative minority that controls the nation’s media, its banks, and apparently, the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), Mexico’s maximum electoral authorities. Lopez Obrador charges the IFE and its president Luis Carlos Ugalde with orchestrating Calderon’s uncertain triumph.

At a raucous July 8th rally that put a half million supporters in Mexico City’s vast Zocalo plaza, the political heart of the nation, Lopez Obrador called upon his people to demand a complete vote by vote recount of the results. Speaking from a flatbed truck set up in front of the National Palace, the official seat of the Mexican government, the fiery, former Mexico City mayor characterized President Vicente Fox as “a traitor to democracy” and for the first time at a public meeting uttered the word “fraud,” accusing the IFE of rigging the election to favor his opponent.

Indeed, fraud was the central motif of the mammoth meeting. Large photos of IFE president Luis Carlos Ugalde slugged “Wanted for Electoral Fraud” were slapped up on central city walls and tens of thousands of protestors waved home-made signs dissing the IFE official with such colorful epithets as “No To Your Fucking Fraud!” Throughout the rally, (which was billed as a “first informative assembly”), the huge throng repeatedly drowned out Lopez Obrador’s pronouncements with thunderous chants of “Fraude Electoral!” At times, AMLO seemed on the verge of tears at the outpouring of support from the sea of brown faces that pressed in around the speakers’ platform.

The gathering in the Zocalo signaled the kick-off to what is sometimes called “the second election in the street,” a mass effort to pressure electoral officials into a ballot-by-ballot recount that Lopez Obrador is convinced will show that he was the winner July 2nd. The IFE has resolutely resisted such a recount.

AMLO, a gifted leader of street protest, is always at the top of his game when he is seen as an underdog battling the rich and powerful, and the next days will be heady ones here. This Wednesday (June 12th), the left leader is calling upon supporters in all 300 electoral districts across Mexico to initiate a national “exodus” for democracy that will converge upon the capital on Sunday, July 16th for a mega-march that may well turn out to be the largest political demonstration in the nation’s history. Indeed, AMLO already set that mark in April 2005 when 1.2 million citizens surged through Mexico City to protest Fox’s efforts to bar the leftist from the ballot; the president dropped his vendetta three days after the march.

But Lopez Obrador and his Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) will not just do battle in the streets. Evidence of wide-spread ballot box manipulation in a third of the 130,000 polling places (including ballot-stuffing and duplicate numbers in thousands of them), malfeasance in the reporting of district totals to the IFE, inexplicable cybernetic confabulations in both the preliminary count or PREP (3,000,000 mostly AMLO votes were removed) and the final tabulation in the districts, are being presented to the nation’s top electoral tribunal (code-named the TRIFE) by Lopez Obrador’s battery of attorneys in an effort to persuade the seven justices that a hand recount is the only way to determine who will be the next president of Mexico. Such recounts have recently been conducted in close elections in Germany, Italy, and Costa Rica (as well as in Florida 2000 until ordered shut down by the U.S. Supreme Court).

Felipe Calderon and the PAN and Ugalde’s IFE consider AMLO’s demands to open the ballot boxes an “insult” to the “hundreds of thousands of citizens” who were responsible for carrying out the election. “The votes have already been counted – on Election Day” Ugalde upbraids Lopez Obrador.

The TRIFE is an autonomous judicial body with powers to annul the presidential election. It has annulled gubernatorial elections in Tabasco (AMLO’s home state) and Colima and invalidated results in entire districts because of electoral flimflam in recent years. Lopez Obrador and the PRD have also petitioned Mexico’s Supreme Court to invalidate the election because of Vicente Fox’s apparently unconstitutional meddling on behalf of Calderon, and this reporter has learned that AMLO is considering calling upon all PRD elected officials not to take office December 1st if the ballots are not recounted, a strategy that could trigger a constitutional crisis.

Despite the uncertainty about who won the July 2nd election, the White House and Ambassador Tony Garza, a Bush crony, have been quick to congratulate Felipe Calderon for whom they exhibited an undisguised predilection during the campaigns. President Bush actually called the right-winger from Air Force One, and Garza has been lavish in his praise of the much-questioned performance of the IFE as proof of “a maturing Mexican democracy.”

The U.S. embassy has a track record of intervening in Mexico’s presidential selection. Ronald Reagan recognized Carlos Salinas as the winner of the stolen 1988 election within 96 hours of the larceny. In 1911, U.S. Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson signed off on the assassination of Mexico’s first democratically elected president Francisco Madero, to whom Lopez Obrador has often compared himself.

Most of the U.S. Big Press has followed in lockstep with the White House. The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Washington Post all expressed editorial satisfaction at Calderon’s coronation based on the results of the admittedly manipulated preliminary count. The New York Times, however, which 18 years ago, after free-marketeer Carlos Salinas stole the presidency from leftist Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, called that tormented proceedings “the cleanest election in Mexican history,” this time around was more cautious, urging a ballot-by-ballot recount.

As tens of thousands of AMLO’s supporters — “the people the color of the earth” Subcomandante Marcos names them — march across the Mexican landscape on their way up to the capital to demand electoral justice, invoking scenes of the great movement of “los de abajo” (those from down below) during Mexico’s monumental 1910-1919 revolution, the country holds it breath.

In Mexico, the past has equal value with the present and the memory of what came before can sometimes be what comes next. T
hese are history-making moments south of the Rio Bravo. North Americans need to pay attention.

A shortened version of this piece appeared on the Nation.com. John Ross’s “Making Another World Possible: Zapatista Chronicles 2000-2006” will be published this October by Nation Books.





“Flappers, Femmes Fatales, and Vitriol”
Does history get any better than this? From Eskimo women smoking cigarettes to Japanese women lopping off their hair, the Flapper movement of the 1920s had some serious legs. Learn all about Flapper culture and Weimar Berlin’s own “Priestess of Decadence,” Anita Berber. Berber was the quintessence of the femme fatale, and her behavior was scandalous even by today’s standards. UC Berkeley professor Mel Gordon has re-created two of Berber’s dances, Morphine and Shipwrecked, both banned in most European cities. This Bastille Day celebration intends to soak you in smut, so stick around for the Thrillpeddlers adaptation of Rene Breton’s 1930s opium thriller, The Drug. It takes place in Saigon, and a truly horrific Grand Guignol climax has been promised. (K. Tighe)

7 p.m.
San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum
401 Van Ness, fourth floor, SF
(415) 255-4800


The Legendary
and Fabulous Passion Play

Combining drag and messiah figures is an almost foolproof formula for success, so el Gato del Diablo Theatre Company are onto something with their latest production. The follow-up (but not sequel) to last year’s The Rise and Fall of the Monkey King, also by Shawn Ferreyra, The Legendary and Fabulous Passion Play is inspired by the ongoing battles over same-sex marriage in our oozing-with-talent United States. Throw Bertolt Brecht, Butoh dance, and Bard-style baddies into the mix, and the result promises to be bizarre. (Johnny Ray Huston)

8 p.m. (Fri.-Sat., through Aug. 19)
EXIT Stage Left
156 Eddy, SF
Previews, pay what you can;
$20 after Fri/15

Workers nights


With the AFL-CIO split last year, and millions of undocumented workers fighting for their jobs, the climate is ripe for the Bay Area to celebrate its labor solidarity. San Francisco has long been a wealthy city, but it also has the most organized labor movement in the nation.
For 13 years, LaborFest has celebrated that movement here and around the world. This year’s festival celebrates labor history landmarks: the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, the 1934 General Strike, the 1946 Oakland General Strike, and the 120th Anniversary of May Day and the turning point at Haymarket Square, where workers striking for an eight-hour workday led to the creation of International Worker’s Day across the globe.
“San Francisco has always been an international city,” Steve Zeltzer, one of the founders of LaborFest and a member of the Operating Engineers Local 39 Union, told the Guardian. “Its working class has always been an international working class. Workers have the same experience all over the world, and it’s important to have an international labor media and art network.”
In only three years, workers rebuilt San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. A photo exhibit at City Hall of historic photographs and contemporary images by Joseph A. Blum is one of the ongoing exhibits with this year’s LaborFest. A new mural by Mike Connor at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts depicts the city from rubble to bridge spans, under the banner “One Hundred Years of Working People’s Progress,” and includes scenes from the 1934 strike and an International Longshore and Warehouse Union Strike. Connor, a union electrician based in New York, has been showing labor paintings and murals with LaborFest since 2002.
“San Francisco is definitely a pro-union city, but today there’s a lot of people who don’t know the history of unions,” he told us. Connor’s paintings offer a visual tour of labor’s history. “If you keep people educated about unions and labor,” Connor said, “they don’t have to repeat history.”
So how did the city rebuild so quickly?
“Unlike New Orleans after (Hurricane) Katrina,” offered Seltzer, “San Francisco had organized labor for the ‘06 earthquake. After the ‘01 strike, where transit workers were brutally beaten by police, workers formed the Union Labor Party.”
The party ran candidates and swept offices, and by 1906 all city supervisors were Labor, including the mayor, Eugene Schmitz. Schmitz and the supervisors were eventually ousted or resigned in the face of graft and bribery charges, but the Labor Party remained strong. “San Francisco has had two labor mayors,” says Seltzer, “but today you wouldn’t even know it.”
The festival is global in its reach, with Japan, Turkey, Bolivia and Argentina among the countries in the LaborFest network holding their own art and video events. San Francisco workers have long celebrated solidarity with international laborers. The film Solidarity Has No Borders tells the story of San Francisco dock workers who, in 1997, refused to handle cargo in a ship sailing from Liverpool, where dockworkers were fighting for their rights demonstrate. According to Seltzer, Bay Area dock workers in the past have boycotted working with cargo from apartheid South Africa and El Salvador.
LaborFest does not limit its focus to unionized labor. Daisy Anarchy’s one-woman show Which Side Are You On? celebrates sex industry workers around the world. Sex-workers, either unionized like the Lusty Lady or not, are workers fighting against exploitation.
“The Labor Council supports them being organized,” said Zeltzer. “San Francisco is open to sex workers organizing more than anywhere else. They are workers like anyone else.”
This year’s May Day demonstrations were a historic development for the labor movement because undocumented workers are neither unionized nor organized. The massive marches in Chicago and Los Angeles alone represented millions of undocumented workers joined by organized labor and trade unionists. The film The Penthouse of Heaven- May Day Chicago 2006 features footage from the Chicago demonstration, the city whose Haymarket riots 120 years ago are some of the most prominent in labor history. A one-day strike for an eight-hour workday was held on May 1st, 1886. On the 4th, following a shooting and riot the previous day at a plant, a bomb exploded in Haymarket Square, killing eight police officers. Though the bomb thrower was never identified, seven men received death sentences.
Worldwide appeals for clemency led to the establishment of May 1 as International Worker’s Day across the world. The United States, however, has not adopted the holiday, but the mass demonstrations on May 1 of this year celebrated the country’s own international workers in solidarity.
The festival continues through July 31st, with historical walks commemorating the Oakland General Strike, labor films at the Roxie Theater, readings at Modern Times Bookstore, a Maritime History Boat Tour, and dozens of other events in San Francisco and Oakland. Go to www.laborfest.net for a complete schedule.



› superego@sfbg.com
SUPER EGO Oh, the endless string of characters! Clubland just keeps ’em comin’ in glorious, sequin-spangled kablooeys. Go on, children, do it while you still got freedoms. And tits to you for saving Pride. Pink Saturday was a nightmare, the Dyke March was a walkathon, and despite the amazing turnout — that whole outpatient rehab thing must really be catching on — Pride Sunday found me huddled at the foot of the Tylenol PM booth, cursing the sunlight and desperately searching for something, anything, worth following home. If it wasn’t for the Trans March, the underground parties, and the occasional streak of club freaks, the weekend woulda been boot. Best overheard quote: “Let’s make a suicide pact. I’ll kill you and you die.” Gay love!
So OK, it was a slightly flabby hottie in lime green denim daisy dukes and a handlebar mustache. I followed his flashing go! go! bootie up to the Castro until I stumbled over a sandwich board outside Nutri-Sport advertising “New! Ejaculoid!” I erupted with inquisitiveness. A “natural male explosion” product that promises increased virility by thickening my semen? At last! Thank you, Goliath Labs! (Other products: Groloid, Stimuloid, Thermoloid, Tribuloid, Sleep Cycle. Add in Grumpoid and Viruloid and shazam! A list of my seven exes.)
What the hell? It was Pride. I was bored. My body’s an amusement park. Let’s do it.
I downed the stuff with a back-pocket Cuervo shot, pushed my “Thank you for shopping with us!” skirt down, pulled up a George W. Bush Jell-O mold, and . . . where was I? Oh, yes, personalities. Clublebrities. As I felt my resolve slowly stiffen, my self-appointed-arbiter-of-club-cool mind drifted to two of my latest, completely unrelated, faves: MC Cookie Dough and Dee Jay Pee Play. Now, in a segue only a mother could love, I briefly exclaim their greatness to you.
“Cookie Dough is a smile from ear to ear, a kind word said to all,” quoth la Dough. (If there’s one thing I adore, it’s a drag queen who refers to herself in the third person — because the first two are reserved for schizophrenia.) “But Cookie Dough is also a talented, unstoppable force who’ll chip away at every queen in the city, take control of the top, and gloriously welcome the day the name Cookie Dough rolls off everyone’s tongue and melts in their mouth. I do believe it’s happening now.” Look out, ladies, she’s gonna Pills-bury ya.
Cookie’s a bloody-pantied Trannyshack alum who’s brought some greezy downtown flavor to the Castro as hostess of the biweekly trash drag rock ’n’ roll bonanza Cookie Dough Monster Show at Harvey’s. Sublebrity guest performers, send-ups of old-school howlers, cutie audience galore — you know the drill. A local movie starlet and “theatrical personage,” Miss Dough-nuts also gets keyed up, pianowise, with Cookie . . . After Dark, her occasional Martuni’s croonfest, featuring, if you can believe it, live singing. Me love Cookie.
“I don’t know about Ejaculoid, but I worship Sphincterine,” says Pee Play. “I make all my tricks use it.” (Sphincterine? Check out www.mintyass.com now.) A skater, a hater, and the DJ most likely to throw on Hi-NRG remixes of the Boys Choir of Harlem at a party, Pee Play’s the latest, greatest apocalypse of taste.
Along with his right-hand bag lady Marina Bitch, he revived underground vogue balls, until the cops made him stop (www.myspace.com/vogueordiesf), and is allied with half-assed gay bike gang–party mafia GBG OMFAG. Plus, how can I resist a kid who shows up at circuit parties as “Al Gayeda” with a giant fake beard and “Do Not Rape Me” magic-markered on his chest? His next party is — gasp! ugh! — a masquerade party called M. “Make sure you’re there at midnight when the Masque of Red Death descends!” he says. “Well, actually, it’s just a bunch of people running around giving everyone AIDS.” Cannot wait.
And Ejaculoid? A total wash. If you wanna know the deets, you can find me gulping bubbly in the ejacuzzi. SFBG
For more on Ejaculoid, go to www.goliathlabs.com/ejaculoid.html.
July 22 and every other Saturday
10 p.m.–2 a.m.
500 Castro, SF
(415) 431-4278
10 p.m.–2 a.m.
500 Castro, SF
(415) 431-4278

Imagine there’s no heaven


› a&eletters@sfbg.com
A constitutional amendment mandating a national day of prayer? If such a proposal remains fictitious (for the moment), it hardly stretches the imagination. For these are the times that try a civic teacher’s soul and, not incidentally, call forth from the venerable San Francisco Mime Troupe one of its best efforts in years.
The world premiere of SFMT’s teeth-baring musical comedy, GodFellas — this year’s free agitprop in the park — tells the story of Angela Franklin (Velina Brown), a mild-mannered public school civics teacher with a thing for Tom Paine, who becomes the leader of a mass movement to save secular democracy from God-wielding gangsters grown fat on the church-state-mingling scam that is the Bush junta’s faith-based initiative, now pushing a theocratic Prayer Day Amendment.
Fronted by a suave evangelist named the Reverend C.B. De Love (Michael Gene Sullivan), the “Syndicate” is in the process of soaking up federal dollars, trampling the separation clause, and shoring up its political power while expanding the totalitarian reach of its Beltway allies. Our first glimpse of this outfit comes in the opening scene’s staged concert, the Ministry of Rock. Christian headbangers preaching with power chords (and amusingly outfitted by costume designer and actor Keiko Shimosato) soon introduce the headline act. “For everything I got, I wanna thank J.C.,” croons De Love to a jaunty rock-blues beat. “But I’m not working for Jesus. Got Jesus workin’ for me.”
Of course, where the art of rhetorical persuasion and the channels of popular culture fail, the Syndicate is ready to call in its muscle — a burly nun with a Bronx accent and five o’clock shadow, Sister Jesus Mary Joseph (Victor Toman). It’s in this holy spirit that the Syndicate comes knocking down the door of Angela’s Center for Extended Studies, a place, she says, for teaching all subjects that have been cut from the curriculum. Angela founded the Center with her liberal-minded colleague Todd (Christian Cagigal), a good-natured if sexually repressed Catholic-school art teacher and her shy love interest (his wild side is suggested, in a typical instance, by the donning of his “adventure cardigan”). Together they’ve been keeping the flame of critical thinking alive, in addition to fanning a smoldering flirtation (you know, involving lewd inflections of lines from the Federalist Papers and the like).
As the Syndicate muscles in on their operation, they retreat to separate camps, Todd capituutf8g to the new bosses in order to continue teaching and Angela heading for the Golden Gate Bridge. There, an epiphany of a decidedly secular nature convinces her to fight back, winning her first recruits from among passersby. As Angela takes on the forces of theocracy, the seduction of politics and mass media threatens to make her secular movement as dogmatic as the Syndicate. All of which brings home the message that democratic societies function under a popular regime of critical thinking and die under regimes of blind faith.
If the play itself sounds a little like a civics lesson, it is. But it’s one that goes down like a sweet, melodious riot of sharp comedy and contagious song — a combination that is ultimately a highly effective framework for the play’s ample citations of Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, clarion lines that give the lie to the insatiable authoritarianism, religious and otherwise, that cloaks itself in the flag. Despite its essentially familiar formula, all elements of the production — from Bruce Barthol’s skillful and imaginative score to the great performances under the astute direction of SFMT veteran Ed Holmes, to the finely honed script by Sullivan and collaborators Jon Brooks, Eugenie Chan, and Christian Cagigal (Tom Paine should probably get a writing credit too) — smoothly come together to make GodFellas an inspired and genuinely stirring piece of political theater, not to mention an invigorating dose of common sense. SFBG
Through Oct. 1 around the Bay Area
Sat/15, 2 p.m.
Peacock Meadow
JFK Drive between McLaren Lodge
and Conservatory, Golden Gate Park, SF
Sun/16, 2 p.m.
Lakeside Park
Lakeside Drive at Lake Merritt, Oakl.
(415) 285-1717

Sweet 16mm


› a&eletters@sfbg.com
In 1967, the Bay Area’s Brotherhood of Light transformed the average rock show into a full-blown psychedelic spectacle. Using 16mm film and Technicolor dyes and oils, the collective began projecting swirling visuals on larger-than-life backdrops at venues like the Fillmore. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and, of course, the Dead all got the Brotherhood treatment. The projectionists definitely livened up those 20-minute drum solos — Iron Butterfly, I’m looking at you — but ultimately, their improvisations couldn’t continuously jell with the music.
“Traditionally it’s been, put up the trippy image, and sometimes it’ll hit and look cool, but not always,” says Small Sails multi-instrumentalist Ethan Rose. “Not that there aren’t more people doing syncing today, [but] that became kind of our whole MO — let’s do something more with this and make it part of the performance.”
Sonically speaking, Small Sails is a trio. Three Portland, Ore., musicians trade off on keyboards, guitar, vibraphones, and drums to concoct an electro-organic, mostly instrumental panorama reminiscent of a less melancholy Album Leaf. But in keeping with their visual focus, the band formerly called Adelaide is actually composed of four members. Ryan Jeffery, who’s collaborated with Rose since their days at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, handles the projectionist duties.
The use of 16mm projectors isn’t unique by today’s standards: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the Rachel’s, and Broadcast have used them. But Small Sails — which played its first Bay Area show in March and has since opened for Fog and the Helio Sequence — is one of the few acts to tout its projectionist as a full-fledged member.
It’s easy to understand why. Jeffery, who cites New York artist Bruce McClure as an inspiration, doesn’t simply press a few buttons and drink Amstels during the show. He literally plays two dueling Kodak Analyst IIs, projectors Rose discovered by chance at an old camera shop in San Diego five years ago. (Incidentally, the model was a favorite among football coaches in the late 1970s because its variable-speed control allows footage to be viewed at a mesmerizing eight frames per second; real time is three times that rate.)
Looping 10 minutes of footage into a 45-minute set, Jeffery will tinker with speed, pull things in and out of focus, and use his hands to create subtle strobing effects timed perfectly to a shift in the melody. Though there are no LSD-inspired Rorschach swirls, the way he mashes up a rural landscape from one projector with a random figure’s silhouette via the other highlights the abstract vibe of a project that’s trippy in its own right but never long-winded.
While Adelaide stretched its post-rock meanders to seven minutes, Small Sails injects a lighter pop sensibility that keeps the music trim and utterly buoyant. After a few radio blips and digital hiccups, “Aftershocks and Afterthoughts,” an unreleased song that may appear on their debut, flows forth in a wave of catchy guitar noodles, crisp beats, and spacey ambient noise that layers and peaks in under a minute. Then as a punchy synth hook enters the mix (think: Duran Duran’s “The Chauffer” sped up and almost danceable), a bright “hi-oh, hi-oh” vocal refrain comes charging in. The words are sparse and nonsensical, but somehow such ambiguity is what helps make Small Sails so compelling, both on record and in person.
“The aim is to gently guide a narrative idea, but at the same time it’s not telling some specific personal narrative. It’s sort of everybody’s narrative,” Rose says. “With the imagery and the colors and the sounds, it creates this space that opens up emotionally to a whole bunch of different places for different people. It’s a platform for an open experience.”
The Brotherhood would be proud. SFBG
With Lazarus and Only
Thurs/13, 9 p.m.
Hotel Utah
500 Fourth St., SF
(415) 546-6300

Sexy transmissions


› a&eletters@sfbg.com
Low-flying Seattle ethnomusic label Sublime Frequencies has been in business for less than three years, but in that time established itself as easily the most happening label around in terms of hard-to-find music from overseas. In fact, it’s created a niche that didn’t even really exist before, steadily churning out kaleidoscopic and often in-your-face CDs and DVDs from places as far flung as Iraq, Java, North Korea, and Nepal, releases that are equally at home in the world music and experimental sections at a record store.
I don’t love everything they’ve put out, but I have listened to every note of the more than 20 CDs released so far — I’ve missed a few DVDs, I admit — and a handful of them have become personal favorites. Another half dozen have landed in heavy rotation on the home stereo at various points. I’ve especially enjoyed the label’s presentation of music from Southeast Asia, including two discs compiled by Bay Area musician Mark Gergis of Porest and Neung Phak — Molam: Thai Country Groove From Isan and Cambodian Cassette Archives: Khmer Folk and Pop Music Vol. 1 — and several more assembled by label head Alan Bishop of the Sun City Girls, including the frantic Radio Phnom Penh and last fall’s unstoppable Guitars of the Golden Triangle: Folk and Pop Music of Myanmar Vol. 2. The massive amount of material the pair cull from radio, vinyl, cassettes, and field recordings is beyond the reach of most file sharers because the majority would have no idea where to start downloading, and Gergis and Bishop put out their findings without much information or regard for sound quality or marketability. What I like about the music on these discs is the blend of familiarity and strangeness, of traditional and modern influences.
The latest batch from Sublime Frequencies unleashes music from Algeria and Northeast Cambodia, as well as a couple of new ones from Thailand: a two-CD set titled Radio Thailand: Transmissions from the Tropical Kingdom and a DVD, Phi Ta Khan: Ghosts of Isan. Radio Thailand was compiled by Gergis and Bishop, who each produced a disc, and like all the label’s Radio titles, it is a fast-paced collage of music, advertisements, and news snippets spliced together from hours of radio broadcast recordings. Segues are abrupt at times, and the fidelity varies wildly. While the experience as a whole is like watching TV while someone else is wielding the remote, at least the content is more interesting than flipping between, say, VH1, Court TV, and lame reality shows.
Listening to Radio Thailand’s second disc, I’m struck by the futility of trying to describe this music in any sort of useful detail. I don’t know the artists’ names, the song titles, or the years any of the music was released. I can’t understand the lyrics and don’t know the names of most of the genres or subgenres represented. Now and then a familiar snippet pops up, like the tune from Ennio Morricone’s theme to For a Few Dollars More — only it’s dressed up in low-budget ’80s synth tones and slapped on top of a disco beat with a guy singing a completely unrelated melody during the verses. There are syrupy ballads, droning a cappella chants, and lots of bouncy ’80s synth pop that sounds absolutely nothing like New Order. Now and then, a voice in English emerges from the wilderness, but it’s inevitably a non sequitur: an announcement for a giant catfish fry, a report on the quality of Thai rubber, a woman announcing, “I have 20 minutes left with you guys, at least. Like, 22 minutes. No, 21 minutes and something.” Unless you’ve been to Thailand and spent hours flipping through the radio dial — and I certainly haven’t — then you probably haven’t heard anything like this.
In contrast to the information onslaught of Radio Thailand, the recent DVD Phi Ta Khan: Ghosts of Isan is far more deliberate in its pacing. Produced by Rob Millis of the Seattle group Climax Golden Twins, the video documents a three-day festival in the northern Thai region of Isan, near the border with Laos. This region is the home of the hypnotic, droning molam style featured on the aforementioned Thai Country Groove CD, and there’s plenty of that music to be heard here. There’s zero narration and Millis doesn’t employ any fancy production tricks, but none of that is needed, as the costumes, dancing, and music are colorful enough on their own. In addition to the religious-occult focus of the festival, there’s also apparently a fertility ritual at work, judging by the vast assortment of phallic symbols on hand: handheld penises, wooden penis puppets with movable parts, you name it. One particularly bizarre scene involves two men trying to repair the damaged member belonging to one of the giant costumed mascots.
The incredible music here ranges from giant percussion ensembles composed of ordinary villagers to full-on electrified combos rolling down the street on the back of flatbed trucks equipped with generators and huge stacks of speakers. At one point, a nasty fuzz-tone keyboard sound surfaces amid the din, but before you can ask, “Where did that come from?” it turns out to be nothing but a Casio being run through a couple of battered PA cones on the back of a moving pickup truck. This scene, like the entire DVD, embodies the sort of low-budget mayhem at the heart of the label’s seat-of-the-pants aesthetic. You won’t find this stuff at Starbucks. SFBG
Fri/14, 8 p.m.
Artists’ Television Access
992 Valencia, SF
(415) 824-3890
Sat/15, 9:30 p.m.
Hemlock Tavern
1131 Polk, SF
(415) 923-0923

Nude awakening


Anicca — at the Theater Artaud complex this week — is not exactly your everyday site-specific dance theater event. With the audience in tow, the piece makes its way from the Noh Space through internal hallways into Theater Artaud proper. Its 20 dancers (half professionals, half amateurs) all perform in the nude. Onstage. Outside. Foggy or not.
Eric Kupers, codirector of Dandelion Dancetheater, knows the risks of this kind of endeavor. Anicca, which means “the impermanence of all phenomena,” is but the latest work of his Undressed Project, which challenges us to look closely at what usually goes unacknowledged. Though we may no longer be shocked by naked bodies in public, for the most part this is still an uncomfortable experience for both viewer and dancer, particularly when the performers come in all sizes and shapes. Two of them have each lost a leg in a car accident.
“We have to accept the discomfort that comes with nudity,” says Kupers, who practices Buddhist mediation. “If we make room and embrace it, we can harness the energy that comes from relaxing with it.” At the very least, a project such as Anicca raises questions about vulnerability and voyeurism.
By exposing themselves the way they do, the dancers have to let go not only of the way they see themselves but also of the way they customarily present themselves to an audience. They put themselves into extreme, emotionally fragile positions. In doing so, they challenge perceptions of how identity is tied to the image we have of ourselves and of others. Still, Kupers was amused to see that while some dancers had no problem with being seen naked by hundreds of people, “they said they wouldn’t dance barefoot on cement.”
As for voyeurism, Kupers remembers that in the early days of the Undressed Project he would get audiences who were ready to ogle buffed and muscled bodies. That’s not what they got. Looking at the diverse bodies of his dancers — old, young, skinny, wrinkled, and big, as well as toned — raises questions. What does our gaze mean to us, to the dancers? Is there shame, embarrassment, titillation, curiosity, acceptance?
Anicca features a taped score and at least one live (naked) violinist. As they view the piece, audience members will be guided by members of Kupers’s Undressed Project workshop. “I think I’ll call them ‘naked rangers,’” Kupers concludes. (Rita Felciano)
Wed/12 and Fri/14, 7pm (also Fri/14, 10 p.m.);
Thurs/13 and Sat/15–Sun/16, 6 p.m. (also Sat/15, 10 p.m.)
Begins at Noh Space
2840 Mariposa, SF
(415) 863-9834

A present from the past


› johnny@sfbg.com
One of us is wearing green short-sleeved Lacoste, the other blue short-sleeved Sergio Tacchini. We’ve looked around his apartment, where he’s leaving behind one shoebox-size tranquil bedroom — he’s now restlessly moving his belongings between two larger sun-drenched spaces. He jokingly calls one a massage room and the other a museum and talks about the patterns of shadows through his windows — how there’s a shadow that looks like a dancing lady, and how the window that faces a church is both peaceful and a passage to a fantasy about priests. Then we walk down the 37-step staircase onto 23rd Street, and Colter Jacobsen and I start talking about his art.
One of Jacobsen’s first shows took place in the exact spot we’ve just left behind. “Woods in the Watchers,” featuring pencil renderings of nudes and seminude photos Jacobsen found at the shop known as the Magazine (on Larkin), was presented in and around his bedroom. “The funny thing is what instigated the whole project was Friendster,” he says as we begin an uphill trek. “I was obsessed with it for two weeks and just started seeing everybody as a personal page — as if when they were looking at you, they were clicking on you. It was kind of fucked up. My response was that I wanted something more tactile. The idea eventually came to be one-hour timed drawings of guys wearing watches.”
We pass a couple on a stairway taking pictures of each other — the man is shooting video, the woman taking digital snapshots. Jacobsen remarks that one irony of the “Watchers” drawings, which uncover a bygone snail mail universe of intimate connections, is that they’re back on the Internet, via the Web site of local press Suspect Thoughts. I say they remind me a bit of the late artist and writer Joe Brainard’s casually hot drawings for the book gAy BCs. “[Brainard’s] stuff is amazing, it’s intimidating to me,” says Jacobsen. “It’s gestural and quick. I use a mechanical pencil and just thinking about approaching a piece of paper without a pencil scares me a little.”
If so, he has little reason for apprehension. In “Watchers” and especially in a recent group exhibition at White Columns in New York (where New York Times critic Roberta Smith singled him out for praise), and now in “Your Future,” a show at Four Star Video’s attic space, Jacobsen displays a talent for drawing images in a low-key way that can still saturate the banal with potent emotion — a truly rare ability these days.
A Mormon upbringing and contemplative community college time in San Diego, where he took a single class on color, light, and theory three times, are a few extreme shorthand examples of what led Jacobsen to San Francisco and his current work. He counts fellow artist Donal Mosher and the writers Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian as friendly influences; in fact, he’s created a gridlike piece charting Bellamy’s and Killian’s use of color in their fiction. “From reading their writing and not knowing what’s fiction and what’s real, I’ve gone on all these mind trips,” Jacobsen admits, as we cross paths with a woman using her cell phone like a loudspeaker. “One time on the Fourth of July I totally thought they were going to kill me.”
Jacobsen’s favorite course at the SF Art Institute was a creative writing class taught by Bellamy. There, he wrote a story — O Rings, about a blind girl obsessed with the 1986 space shuttle Challenger explosion — that has somewhat eerily prefigured his current art and life. He’s worked at Lighthouse for the Blind and currently is a caregiver and driver for the blind and disabled.
The walk up 24th Street has led us to Grand View Avenue, where the view is indeed grand. As we climb the coiled freeway overpass, Jacobsen talks about the “memory drawings” featured in both the show at White Columns and in the current Four Star Video show in San Francisco. “When I try to find a photo to draw from — which takes a long time — it’s like me trying to predict what I’ll be meditating on for the next couple of weeks,” he says. “I don’t take it lightly, and it’s often related to something personal.”
The element of prediction might be what Jacobsen is referring to when he says that these drawings stemming from old photos “are about the future.” In Four Star Video’s attic, Jacobsen has painted the titular words of the show over a newspaper obit page and fixed it to the corner of a wall so it can also read “Our Future.” This melancholy verging on morbidity spills from some drawings, especially a truly great one of a waterfront snapshot that uses a film-frame crosscutting technique to convey romantic heartbreak.
The show’s staircase climb to a heavenly Four Star “Future” is typical of Jacobsen’s casual yet concise use of place, and there are many elements at play, some so understated that a viewer who isn’t attentive might not even notice. Two papier-mâché teardrops hide in a corner, near the store’s rare DVDs of Salo and Lilya 4-Ever. (Images are often presented in twos and fours and eights: “Eight is my favorite number,” says Jacobsen. “It’s like two circles or two eyes.”) A pair of found-object mock columns stand next to the store’s shelving units. In a practice that updates pop art chestnuts to the current moment, Jacobsen — who first used the technique while reeling from being “totally blind” about a guy he was in love with — uses Wite-Out to cover up most of Peanuts and other strips (including his least favorite, Family Circus) in a way that reveals the wartime aggression and tension seething beneath.
Though he uses newspaper “funnies,” Jacobsen refers to these works as his “Saddies.” “I just wanted to show what I was seeing,” he says as we travel back down 24th Street past some children. Another irony: This newspaper is a space to discuss the deathly element within Jacobsen’s use of newspapers as found material. “My friend Tariq [Alvi] sees paper as death, because he once saw a mummy and the quality of its skin was like paper,” Jacobsen says when I mention the current bicoastal interest in works — especially drawings — on found or old documents.
As we near the end of our stroll, I ask Jacobsen about another walk, one in which he led a group of people — half of them blindfolded and the other half accompanying those wearing blindfolds — during a Sunday evening this June. The walk spanned from one Mission laundromat to another and included Jacobsen’s discussion of the visual theories of physicist Joseph Plateau, who went blind from staring at the sun. The choice of the event’s landmarks stemmed partly from the laundry lectures of Portland-based artist Sam Gould of Red76 and partly from Plateau’s interest in bubbles. “Does that all relate somehow?” Jacobsen asks as he explains it. “I have trouble figuring out how one thing connects to the next.”
“Usually, where I start [with a project] is where I’m stupid or ignorant — which can be anywhere, really,” he admits with a laugh, after saying that he even counted the number of steps — 313 and 168 — between the two laundromats and the walk’s starting point. Right around then, we reach those 37 steps that lead back up to his apartment, the same staircase that Jacobsen’s friend and musical collaborator Tomo (of Hey Willpower and Tussle) climbs, carrying a column, in a drawing within the Four Star Video show. When I say that the staircase’s red steps are just two short of matching a certain famous 39 Steps, Jacobsen says Alfred Hitchcock is one of his favorite filmmakers. It’s funny how one thing connects to the next — and often beautiful when Jacobsen renders the connections. SFBG
Through July 31
Daily, noon to 10 p.m.
Attic, Four Star Video
1521 18th St., SF
(415) 826-2900

Mortality play


Meryl (Justine Clarke) is basically the human incarnation of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, except without the “survival” part. As she rides the train home after her father’s funeral, animated thoughts of fiery collisions and strangle-happy strangers zip into her head as abruptly as they cut into Look Both Ways’ otherwise live-action proceedings. That Meryl’s nightmares are adorably hand drawn doesn’t make them any less dreadful or persistent; later she imagines being eaten by a shark (while in a swimming pool) and the ickiest possible consequences after she sleeps with photographer Nick (William McInnes) soon after they meet.
The fact that they first cross paths at the site of a tragic train accident — and that Nick (who also struggles with visions of doom) has just found out he has cancer — is a typically morbid spoke in Look Both Ways’ death-obsessed machinery. Fickle fate pulls the strings of the Meryl-Nick pairing, and of those around them, including Nick’s exceedingly angry coworker Andy (Anthony Hayes) and his reluctantly pregnant ex-girlfriend Anna (Lisa Flanagan). A pair of nearly wordless performances anchor Look Both Ways’ emotional core, as a train driver who’s run over a pedestrian and the pedestrian’s widow struggle with their grief — and eventually connect over a sympathy card featuring a seascape painted by Meryl, appropriately enough.
A festival sensation by Australian writer-director and animator Sarah Watt, Look Both Ways isn’t actually the feel-bad movie of the year. It’s probably the sunniest movie about death you’ll ever see, and one that captures the awkwardness of life with unusual accuracy. Its unglamorous characters react to disasters like real people would, tempering their shock with distractions such as kids’ birthday parties or impulsive physical intimacy. Watt’s visually inventive style keeps Look Both Ways from being too sentimental, to a point. As the film winds down, it seems overly eager for closure, resulting in pop song–montage overload and a mawkish group cry that just happens to transpire during the film’s single rainstorm. Like the double meaning of the film’s title — look before you leap, but remember it’s OK to leap! — it feels a bit shallow and glossy after all that inspired gloom. (Cheryl Eddy)
Opens Fri/14
Roxie Film Center
3117 16th St., SF
(415) 863-1087
Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center
1118 Fourth St., San Rafael
(415) 454-1222
See Rep Clock for showtimes

Polly wanna rob ya!


› johnny@sfbg.com
Hear ye! Hear ye! Step right up to the Castro Theatre. Behold a bizarre trio of crooks. One an expert ventriloquist in old lady drag. Another a Goliath whose fickle heart is bigger than his brain. The third a pint-size schemer, who thinks nothing of pretending to be a baby in a stroller in order to case a high-class joint for jewels. Witness these three sell counterfeit parrots — you heard right, counterfeit parrots! — to unsuspecting mugs in order to visit their homes and rob them blind. Watch 1925’s The Unholy Three, just one of director Tod Browning’s circus-influenced nightmares.
The treats at this year’s San Francisco Silent Film Festival include Frank Borzage’s Seventh Heaven and Madonna muse Dita Parlo in Au Bonheur des Dames with live music by the Hot Club. But all of this city’s imps of the perverse will be gathering for The Unholy Three (screening Sun/16 at 5 p.m.), if only to pay homage to Browning, “Man of a Thousand Faces” Lon Chaney, and mein liebchen, the one and only Harry Earles (real name: Kurt Schneider), who later approached Browning with the idea of turning the Tod Robbins story “Spurs” into what became 1932’s nightmarish and unforgettable Freaks. Also based on a Robbins story, The Unholy Three might contain Earles’ best performance, especially since, as Danny Peary notes in an entry within his book Cult Movie Stars, Earles’ high-pitched voice was often “unintelligible” when transmitted through the primitive sound technology of early talkies.
He may be a dead ringer for tear sprayer extraordinaire Ricky Schroder in The Champ, but don’t cross him: Peary incisively observes that Earles’ face “was doll-like and seemed harmless until you looked closely and saw it was hard and quite eerie.” The Unholy Three mines this effectively. Earles’ character, Tweedledee, is introduced performing on a sideshow stage. When the audience within the film mocks him, it doesn’t take long for him to lose his temper and kick a laughing little boy in the face. Soon afterward he’s in infant disguise, whether locked in a stroller and acting as if ruby necklaces are mere baby beads or half in and half out of masquerade, smoking a cigarette while wearing a jumper. According to Browning biographer David Skal’s Dark Carnival, this type of outrageousness reached its apex in a child-killing Christmas Eve scene by a tree that doubtless would have given Dawn Davenport at the start of Female Trouble a run for her murderous money — if it wasn’t censored.
Though Browning’s astute biographer verges on going too far in comparing it to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’s shadow play, The Unholy Three humorously and kinetically uses comic strip speech bubbles in a way that prefigures pop art and Batman on TV. Also, as writers such as Skal, David Thomson, and Carlos Clarens have observed, it exemplifies early-20th-century horror’s interest in reconfiguring common romantic and sexual aggravation into fantastic stories of vengeance. Himself forced to perform as an infant and a circus runaway who made an early living as “The Living Hypnotic Corpse,” Browning no doubt related to Earles and to Chaney (whose pantomime abilities stemmed partly from childhood communication with his deaf parents).
The Unholy Three’s titular characters form a perverse trinity of sorts, with Earles’ Tweedledee a modern child of mythical Leprechaun figures and a less lusty uncle of Cousin Lymon from Carson McCullers’ Sad Café. You don’t have to be Leslie Fiedler to recognize that both Earles and Chaney present an interested viewer with a mythic image of his or her secret self. SFBG
Castro Theatre
429 Castro, SF
(925) 866-9530

One Lives to live


By Kimberly Chun
› kimberly@sfbg.com
SONIC REDUCER I fell in love with the recent Ray Davies solo album, Other People’s Lives (V2). Face it, I fall in love all the time — with records, of course — but I think I truly did love about three-fourths of the Kinks leader’s solo debut for the first four listens. Then I stopped listening and just coasted on the afterglow.
But you fall out of love. The fifth or sixth listen comes around and little things start to break down for you. The way those coveted hot pants always give you gnarly cameltoe.
In the case of Other People’s Lives, it was the song’s overblown arrangements — for which Davies completely takes the blame — complete with unintentionally cornball sax and a production sensibility that sounds like modern music really did stop with the last humongoid Kinks album, 1983’s State of Confusion (Velvel). When even the quirks annoy, like the half “yar,” half yawn that ushers in the record’s otherwise fine opener, “Things Are Gonna Change (The Morning After),” and the throwaway Ricky Martin–style Latin pop treatment given to the media-lashing title track, you know love’s a goner.
An American album, conceived mainly during Davies’ stay in New Orleans, Other People’s Lives resembles Morrissey’s You Are the Quarry (Attack), another disappointingly produced and arranged album of even better songs by a great wordsmith and sometime US transplant. Perhaps you’re so happy to hear those familiar voices again, at your doorstep, that you overlook the details — the tacky suit, wilting flowers, wrongheaded arrangements — the first five times around.
Still you have to hand it to Davies — whose recent travails, like being shot in January 2004 after chasing the thief who snatched his girlfriend’s purse, have been well documented — when he decides to make a bold gesture. That’s what inspired some to call the Kinks the first indie band. “I prefer that to being called the originators of heavy metal,” says a sincere and thoughtful Davies from London. “Yes, I like that. We have a very independent spirit…. We took chances, and we failed a lot. Really, other acts’ careers would’ve been ended by some of the bold and stupid things we did on record. I’ve got a 9-year-old daughter now, and she wants to hear my music when she visits me. I find it really hard to explain some of the weird diversions I’ve taken in my music over the years.”
Bold and stupid?
“The Bold and the Stupid. It sounds like…”
A soap opera?
“Yes, stuff like Preservation, Soap Opera,” he free-associates. “You know, at the time, when Rod Stewart and Elton John were doing conventional tours and, you know, big stage-entry things… and there we are. We go indoors with a musical farce onstage. You know, it was a rock Punch and Judy show. It was a totally wrong career move, but it worked brilliantly. I mean, sometimes those things pay off really well.”
Davies obviously still can write a song — that was why Other People initially seduced me. And he knows he’s really got me — and everyone else. “I think I’ve got a fairly good fix. I can hone in on detail with people all right. You know, it’s like little things people do, habits that people have, the way they walk. I have that sort of observation with my writing, which leads it to be sometimes a bit quirky. I think I know how far to take something when I’m writing a song, and I think that’s probably one of the sort of skills I’ve developed, although I wouldn’t say you ever learn how to write songs. I think that’s one of my skills — knowing that it’s always a new inner palette, a new landscape, every time I write a song, and I think experience has taught me to be aware of that fact, that I can’t just phone them in.”
Sounds like the archly self-aware narrator of “The Tourist,” which appears to center on New Orleans slumming, is a lot like the songwriter within Davies — and that songwriting and stepping into other people’s lives is a kind of imaginative tourism.
“It is,” replies Davies. “I’m somewhat of a tourist. I also write on different levels. Obviously with ‘The Tourist’ it’s not just somebody going for a holiday somewhere. It’s someone who’s in a sense a tourist, an emotional tourist… and is probably not such a good person because of it.”
“It’s a different kind of writing when you write a pop single,” he confesses. “Writing on this record — there’s a long span to it and it’s a slow burn…. So it’s going to have a certain amount of depth to it to hold my interest because maybe as a writer I need to be fired up by the subject matter…. Maybe I write for listeners who probably want to dig and delve into it and realize there’s a bigger picture there, bigger story there.”
And perhaps, being a creature of little faith, as the Other People song goes, I should keep listening for the bigger story and fall back in love.
NO TEARS Speaking of Nawlins’s musical dwellers, Quintron and Miss Pussycat have been firing on all pistons and Drum Buddies since Katrina flooded their Spellcaster Lodge. Phoning from Los Angeles, Quintron says the rebuilding is almost complete on the lodge but they’re going to wait for the hurricane season before finishing work because the city’s infrastructure isn’t quite together yet. “I don’t wanna do this shit twice,” he offers.
Since the pair lacked insurance, the rebuilding was funded by benefits around the country organized by other musicians. “All our fucking friends are rebuilding our house. It just blew my mind,” says Quintron. Their first show at the Lodge is scheduled for Sept. 15 with a promise from bounce king DJ Jubilee to perform — and don’t expect Quintron to get bogged down in blustery sentimentality. “I’ve already written a song called ‘Hurricane,’” he says. “At this point I can’t do a maudlin blues record, like ‘O Katrina.’ It would be so cliché and stupid. . . . That’s not what’s coming out — I’m making more and more happy songs now, musically.” SFBG
Thurs/13, 8 p.m.
Warfield Theatre
928 Market, SF
(415) 775-7722
Fri/14, 9 p.m.
12 Galaxies
2565 Mission, SF
(415) 970-9777

Standin’ pretty


› le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com
CHEAP EATS Another weekend away, playing unlikely gigs in unheard of places, like Oregon and Idaho. This time: a punch-and-cookie country dance party down at the elementary school, a train depot, and a barbecue joint.
My new favorite rural Idaho restaurant: Sagebrush BBQ in New Meadows. It’s two days later and I’m still picking still-tasty morsels of pork from between my teeth. They must have fed us a hundred dollars worth of meat, on top of everything else. And we must have earned it, because I believe I saw three or four grandpas in our audience, in a fit of inspiration over our rowdy old-time cowboy music, order a beer.
The band was my brother Chris and me, as usual, but this time with our brother Jean-Gene the Frenchman on bass. Which was a novel and nice thing for us, but also kind of squirmy. It was clear that Chris — normally the smoothest of front men — wanted so badly to let everyone know that we were family, and his contorted efforts to do so without actually using the word “brother,” in reference to me, were … well, excruciating.
Conceptual considerations aside, there’s an unwritten rule in show business that you can’t just toss off multisyllabic words like “transgender” while wearing a cowboy hat. And “sibling” would have sounded fatally self-conscious. I sympathized with his dilemma, big time, but my hair and makeup weren’t helping matters by doing all the right things for a change; in one of those goofy twists of fate, in Bumfuck, Idaho, I think I might have looked about as pretty as I’ve ever looked.
Enormously complex problems such as this almost always have a ridiculously simple solution. On the third night, outside on the patio at the Sagebrush, long before any kind of semiformal introductions could have crossed the mind of even the most conscientious of band leaders, I stepped up to the microphone myself and said, tilting my head toward our usual spokesmanperson (whose hair, by the way, is even longer and probably prettier than mine, although legitimized by a scraggly Fu Manchu mustache), “This is my brother Chris.”
Clap clap clap. He tipped his cowboy hat to the crowd.
Then I gestured toward the clean-cut Frenchman to my right and said, “This is my brother Gene.”
Clap clap, tip of the cowboy hat, clap.
Problem solved! By way of gravy it occurred to me to keep talking. And this is one of my proudest moments ever in the area of public address. “Two of us come from San Francisco, and the other lives in Pennsylvania,” I said, pausing just long enough to make a little eye contact, let them take us in, live and in context, before adding, “Can you guess which are which?”
Instantaneously, you could see the fear and confusion melt from the brows of the elderly Idahoans, ranchers, and bikers. Or maybe it was me who relaxed, while they laughed and loved us, some of them even dancing on hot gravel wearing open-toed sandals, until three sets later we were all fast friends.
In fact, this might have been the first time in my extensive, illustrious career as a touring rock ’n’ roll superstar that I could have maybe actually gotten laid, almost — and not by an octogenarian, either. Some of our most enthusiastic fans were under sixty!
Two, in particular, were right around my age. Early forties. And everyone agreed that they were hot for me. This felt good. I wasn’t so sure, but they did make a point of advertising the fact, from the middle of the dance floor, or gravel pit, that they were going to be samba dancing in the Independence Day Parade down in Council, we should come …
Well, it’s Independence Day, right now, and I’m a long way from Council, Idaho. I’m in San Rafael. I just dropped the Frenchman off at a job site around the corner, where him, Chris, and Earl Butter are putting in an honest day’s work, mudding and drywalling and stuff.
Only one of my chickens died while I was gone, and I feel a little like a failure of a chicken farmer for not having ax-murdered her myself, before I left. Because I knew she was sick enough.
Anyway, this — this muddy, dry wall of words — is my very own, personal idea of an honest day’s work, and it was constructed by me over a cup of strong coffee and a pleasantly surprisingly good bowl of gumbo with more chickens and sausage in it than rice ($4.75). Where? SFBG
Daily, 7 a.m.–11 p.m.
1122 Fourth St., San Rafael
(415) 459-4340
Takeout available
Beer and wine
Credit cards not accepted
Wheelchair accessible

Crème de les crémants


› paulr@sfbg.com
Among the many sobering statistics available to today’s Americans, none are more jolting — at least to this American — than the numbers on consumption of sparkling wine vis-à-vis the French. They enjoy bubbly about 47 times a year, on average, or nearly once a week, while we manage just three or four times: Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, somebody’s birthday. We tend to pop the cork only on special occasions, in other words; the French make a habit of it. Of course, they also make a good deal of the world’s stock of sparkling wines, so this must help boost their tally. Still.
In my own small way, I have been trying to right this imbalance. I buy, for $2.99 each — a pittance — those splits of Spanish cava (from Segura Viudas) that add a bit of effervescence to an everyday dinner for two. I also serve sparkling wine at every conceivable gathering, regardless of the time of day, though the sad truth is that the enfeeblement of the dollar has made authentic French champagnes uncomfortably expensive.
Fortunately, there are alternatives, from American sparkling wines of various characters to European bottlings, such as cava, that are made in the méthode champenoise (with the second fermentation occurring in the bottle) but whose labeling cannot mention that fact, per the rules of the European Union. There are even French sparkling wines, made in the traditional way and quite competitive in quality and appeal with champagne, that fall under this bureaucratic ban. These are called crémant wines and, costing a half to a third of what their pedigreed cousins do, are among the wine world’s great bargains.
Some of the better-known of these little-known wines come from the Loire Valley — St. Hilaire is a fairly big name in this country — but one of the most convincing comes from Burgundy, a northerly viticultural region not far from Champagne itself. The wine is Louis Bouillot’s crémant de Bourgogne Grande Reserve Brut, costs in the $15 to $17 range, and in its bright, lemony crispness is comparable to a good blanc de blancs from Champagne. Very similar in sunshiny character is the Aimery Sieur d’Arques “1531” crémant de Limoux, produced near Carcassonne in the south of France, from chardonnay, chenin blanc, and Mauzac grapes. Did I say “sunshiny”? Mais oui!

West with the sun


› paulr@sfbg.com
Middle East–ward the course of empire takes its way these days — a sorrowful and futile operation that does at least confer onto some of us the benefit of being able to look the other way without feeling quite the same pangs of dread. At the edge of the city, the rays of the westering sun glint on the churning waters of the Pacific, most eminent of gray eminences, and if the Pacific has now become mare nostrum, as strongly implied by the president’s recent creation of a “national monument” along a sprinkling of lonely islands halfway to Japan, it also seems quite … pacific, at least as considered through the soaring windows of the refurbished and expanded Cliff House by people who have decided to enjoy the view and their dinner and forget about the wacky North Koreans and their missiles for a while.
The Cliff House has stood since the Civil War at what is, more or less, the city’s westernmost point, a rocky promontory wearing slippers of sea foam. The building has been rebuilt and tinkered with several times over the years, but the most recent redo (completed in 2004) is perhaps the most aesthetically radical; its major feature is the Sutro Wing, an addition to the north side of the original building and the home of Sutro’s, grandest of the Cliff House’s restaurants. The most striking physical aspect of Sutro’s is its vertical spaciousness, the multistory vault of air that opens over the dining room floor. There are also shiplike railings and other maritime details, while the room’s western and northern walls consist largely of glass, lightly clad with louvered blinds that can be adjusted to manage the sunlight. For there are those magical moments, yes, when the fog remains offshore, a line at the horizon like a threatening but for the moment thwarted army, and the summer sun actually shines at the coast, long into evening.
Opinion divided at our table (in the dining room’s northwest corner and commanding vistas in two directions) as to whether the basic look was more Miami or Malibu. I thought the latter, but my sense might have been affected by glancing at chef Patrick Clark’s menu, which is a California-cuisine document (“California coastal” seems to be the house term) in both its around-the-world-in-80-days mélange of influences and its emphasis on local, seasonal, organic, and sustainable ingredients, the now-familiar mantra that until recently wasn’t much chanted at the Cliff House.
The latter makes the place worthy of serious consideration by locals, while the former is a kind of culinary broadband for tourists, the offering of a little something for every taste. How about Southern? Clark sets out a fine gumbo ($10.75), a thick, smoky-brown broth studded with bits of full-throated andouille sausage and lapping a lone Dungeness crab fritter that resembles a giant gold nugget. For those not in a bayou mood, there is a decent papaya-shrimp salad ($11.75) or perhaps a plate of falafel ($18.75) with warm pita triangles, tahini sauce, and tzatziki (with cucumber chunks instead of the more usual gratings). I love falafel, but it can get pretty ordinary, indifferent preparation resulting in hardened projectiles suitable for loading into muskets. Clark’s falafel, on the other hand, is a world removed from musketry, consisting of a set of delicately crusted spheres that seem light enough to float into the ether overhead.
Back on planet Earth, a kurobuta pork shank ($26.75) struck me as caveman food: a fist-size club of bone and glazed meat — magnificently tender, it must be said, if enough to satisfy two consequential appetites — served with shreds of braised cabbage, applesauce, and a lovely squash risotto. A soup of asparagus and corn ($8.50), elegantly puréed and drizzled with chili oil, was like the passing of the seasonal torch from spring to summer and clearly a pitch to local sensibility, which possibly was stunned by the giant porcine shank. And one of Clark’s most successful cross-cultural innovations must be his Thai-style bouillabaisse ($26.95), a collection of clams, scallops, large prawns, and large pieces of Dungeness crab still in the shell — all this looks like a seafood junkyard — swimming in a coconut–red curry broth that replaces, rather spectacularly, the traditional fumet (an herb- and saffron-infused seafood stock) and provides a blast of chili heat one does not typically associate with tourist spots.
Given the scale of the portions — of course I am thinking of the lethal-weapon shank, but nothing else is small either, just as at Starbucks the smallest size is “medium” — dessert is for the hardy few. I did enjoy my stolen samples of banana cheesecake ($9), though the roasted banana was tough. Aficionados of postprandial liqueurs, on the other hand, won’t be disappointed; the wealth of possibilities here includes the usual cognacs and ports but also several Armagnacs, beginning with an entry-level pour at an affordable $9. The cordial was of a caramel color deeper than the typical cognac’s and of a surprising, rustic fieriness reminiscent of, but distinct from, that of Calvados.
I do have a few complaints. The sun, if any, can be nearly blinding at certain times of the day. The noise level is at the high end of acceptable, in part because of a live jazz quartet that sometimes plays in the lounge on the mezzanine. And the service, while friendly and knowledgeable, can be a little sluggish if the restaurant is full, as it often seems to be. Tourists or locals? Both, no doubt. SFBG
Lunch: Mon.–Sat., 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Dinner: nightly, 5–9:30 p.m.
Cliff House
1090 Point Lobos, SF
(415) 386-3330
Full bar
Wheelchair accessible

{Empty title}


JULY 12-18
Alert: Mercury is retrograde
March 21-April 19
Aries, it’s time for you to be all about you. But when isn’t it — right, friend? However, this week you can be totally, completely selfish, and finesse it in such a way that nobody gets hurt. How’s that for golden? Just don’t take your ego for granted.
April 20-May 20
Like Aries, your upstairs neighbor, this is a good time to look out for number one, Taurus. When the cake comes out at the end of the dinner party, you have our permission to stick your grubby little mitts on the biggest, most heavily frosted slice with the pretty sugar roses — even if the person sitting next to you wanted it too.
May 21-June 21
No laziness, Gemini. Yes, a little suffering comes with taking that risk you know you need to take, but that is no reason to stave off said risk a moment longer! It is high time for you to kick your shit to the next level, and that won’t happen as long as you’re being a baby about the work involved.
June 22-July 22
Cancer, we know you want to feel good. Being the milky-titted earth mother of the zodiac (even you fraternity dude Cancers), nothing makes you feel more awesome than dishing out love. This week is perhaps the best to spread love around to your peeps, so get to it.
July 23-Aug. 22
Take out your psychic magnifying glass, Leo, and train it on the dramas we know are going down in your personal life. We want you to look for, and take note of, the family patterns you are reenacting in your social and romantic lives. It’s invaluable for helping you understand how you got here.
Aug. 23-Sept. 22
Virgo, you’re such a poser. You can’t help it. You’re stuck in this way of reutf8g to other people that really, really doesn’t reflect how much you, um, like them. You’re like the kids at the rock show who stand there bobbing their heads when they really want to twirl around. Figure out how to extend yourself to others in a way that reflects who you are.
Sept. 23-Oct. 22
Get your ass back down to earth, Libra, please. This is one of those weeks where everyone really knows you’re an air sign, ’cause you’ve got your head stuck in the clouds. Because you’re not centered, when you try to be clear with people all that’s coming out is misinformation — and that frustrates everyone.
Oct. 23-Nov. 21
Scorpio, why do bad things happen to good people? So that good people can get their shit together and better learn how to deal with bad things. At least, that’s why the shit is hitting the fan in your world this time. Will you repeat self-annihiutf8g patterns or learn to cope in a new way?
Nov. 22-Dec. 21
Everyone likes being the belle of the ball, Sag, but too many social interactions, too much sexin’, and an overload of good times will make you feel overstimulated this week. Come into an understanding of what your fun cut-off point is — this week gives you opportunities to find out.
Dec. 22-Jan. 19
We say, “Let go, Capricorn,” but it’s up to you to figure out what to quit clinging to. Will it be a particular social crutch, a coping mechanism, a certain person who weighs you down? Or will you finally let go of the control you’re trying to have over your own emotions? Whatever it is, you’re not going to like it.
Jan. 20-Feb. 18
What do you want first, the bad news or the bad news? OK. Well, the bad news is you’re going to have some panic attacks, but before that happens some of your brilliant ideas will be cavalierly discarded by those with the power to make your dreams come true. Stay open anyway.
Feb. 19-March 20
Pisces, how many movies must you see before you understand that sometimes a person needs to “take a stand”? You’re at the start of a particularly cinematic moment during which you will find yourself with no choice but to take a stand. This is going to feel wicked sucky, not triumphant like in the movies. SFBG

Verizon’s tubes


› tubes@techsploitation.com
TECHSPLOITATION If you think I’m done making fun of Sen. Ted Stevens from Alaska, then you are sorely mistaken. I have only just begun to mock.
In a rousing speech about why he would be trashing network neutrality provisions in the Senate’s version of the new telecommunications bill, Stevens sagely pointed out that the Internet “is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a truck.” Instead, he explained, “it’s a series of tubes.” And those tubes get all gummed up with icky stuff like big movies and things. For example, Stevens said, “An Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday, and I just got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet.”
Ultimately, after worrying at length about how “your own personal Internet” is imperiled by “all these things,” Stevens concluded that there is no violation of network neutrality that “hits you and me.” And that’s why he’s pushing to keep net neutrality from being written into law. This is the sort of politician who is deciding the future of Internet regulation — a guy who thinks that he received “an Internet” yesterday, and that it was made of “tubes.”
What’s even worse is that Stevens’s main beef with the Internet is that it moves slowly, and this is a problem that will only be worsened when big companies like Verizon and Comcast start creating prejudiced pipes that privilege certain kinds of network traffic over others. You think your own personal Internet is slow now? Wait until Verizon starts making Disney movies travel faster than e-mail over its, um, tubes.
While Stevens is basing decisions that will affect the future of communications technology for decades to come on trucks and tubes, Verizon is covertly preparing its newest customers for a world without network neutrality. A few weeks ago the telecommunications giant announced it would be installing fancy new routers with its high-speed fiber-optic cable service known as FiOS. Available in only a few places across the United States, FiOS has been drooled over by tech-savvy blog Engadget and CNN alike. That’s because it can deliver a wide range of media (from movies to phone calls) much faster than its competitors — supposedly at a speed of up to 20 megabits per second, far faster than typical DSL’s 1.5.
Sounds great, right? Not so much. The router that comes with new installs of FiOS, according to Verizon’s press release, “supports remote management that uses new industry standards known as TR-069, enabling Verizon to perform troubleshooting without having to dispatch a technician.” Whenever I see the phrase “remote management,” I get antsy. That means Verizon can talk to your router from its local offices, which the company claims is all for the good of the consumer.
However, if you actually read the TR-069 standard, you’ll see that Verizon can do a lot more than just troubleshoot. It can literally reflash all the memory in your router, essentially reprogramming your entire home entertainment system. As a result, Verizon can alter its service delivery options at any time. Even if you’ve signed up for a network-neutral FiOS that sends you to whatever Web sites you like and routes your peer-to-peer traffic the same way it routes your e-mail, Verizon can change that on a whim. With one “remote management” event, the company can change the settings in your router to deliver Fox News faster than NPR. It can block all traffic coming from France or prevent you from using Internet phones that aren’t controlled by Verizon.
Verizon’s new router is also great news for anyone who wants to wiretap your Internet traffic. All a bad guy has to do is masquerade as the Verizon “remote manager” and he or she can fool your nifty router into sending all your data through his or her spy computer. The more people allow companies like Verizon to take arbitrary control of their “personal Internets,” the less freedom they’ll have — and the more vulnerable they’ll be.
Surely even the good Sen. Stevens can understand why Verizon’s antineutral router isn’t desirable. You see, it turns the Internet into a truck. A truck that doesn’t go. SFBG
Annalee Newitz is a surly media nerd who is powered by trucks.

Swear an oaf


› andrea@altsexcolumn.com
Dear Andrea:
After several bad relationships I started seeing someone new. She’s into “playful” spanking. She started spanking me on the street one day and I told her it made me want to hit her. She seemed to like it, though, so I said OK, just not in public. Then I came over and she seemed really happy to see me and she was giggling about spanking me. And I was, like, “OK, this is kind of funny,” rolling with it.
Then later, lying in bed, she spanked me. I said, “Don’t do that,” in a very clear and stern way. She spanked me again. I hit her in the head. Then she hit me in the head. This pretty much killed things and I’m just about totally destroyed as far as being able to feel anything toward anyone.
I feel unhappy with myself for hitting her but also angry at her for spanking me again. I tried to work things out with her, but she seemed barely able to understand my side of things. She implied that I would hit our kids. She works as a dominatrix and seems very businesslike about her job. But aren’t there safety words or something like that? Doesn’t no mean no? Should I have begged her not to hit me?
Dear Spanky:
Gag, gross, no. Of course you should not have begged her. You should have grabbed her wrist and lowered her hitting hand back onto the bed while saying, very clearly, “I told you I didn’t want you to spank me. If you can’t respect that, I’m leaving.” Of course, in order for something like this to work, you would first have to not be a wishy-washy washrag who gives the spanking go-ahead and then changes his mind. She might be a bit of a bitch, but you do understand that from her perspective you were a total psycho, don’t you?
Whatever your internal process (which appears to have little to do with what you want and who you like and everything to do with wanting desperately — and rather unattractively — to be liked), your outward behavior was, “Oh please don’t throw me in the briar patch, Miz Dominatrix!” pretty much from the get-go. She couldn’t read your mind, and then you hit her in the head. Doesn’t no mean no, you ask? Indeed it does. For everyone involved.
Dear Andrea:
Things are going well with my boyfriend, except for one thing. He is too rough in bed. He penetrates too deep and too hard. He is also rough with his fingers and mouth. I have noticed a tear a few times on the edge of my vagina. I get really freaked out afterward when I see what it looks like down there. Does it make me more prone to infection? I have brought this up to him a few times, and he says he feels bad and doesn’t want to hurt me, but I’m not sure if he really understands. I am not always sore afterward, but at least half the time I am. I have a serious problem with confrontation (especially in the bedroom), which makes these things hard to talk about. Is this something I should end the relationship over?
Sore Loser
Dear Sore:
Poor guy. He’s not a brute; he’s just some sort of lummox, or perhaps an oaf. He doesn’t know his own strength; plus, he is not so smart. He means no harm, though, and if you like him I see no reason you should have to lose him over this. Nor, of course, do I see why you should have to poke around checking for damage and holding cold compresses to your nethers every time he’s done with you.
See, I’m imagining you emitting tiny squeaks of dismay every time he handles you roughly, and maybe passing him neatly folded little notes that say “ouch.” Speak up! He’s barely registering your complaints, if indeed you’re making any, and then later you say, “Too rough,” and he says, “Sorry,” and then you both let it happen all over again. You don’t want to be a wishy-washy dishrag like Spanky up there, do you? Lummox-boy is not going to shape up on his own. The good news is, you probably don’t have to hit him in the head.
Of course an open wound will make you more prone to infection, although if he isn’t carrying anything he can’t give it to you, no matter how clumsily he goes at it. I suggest putting him on notice that you intend to stop him the next time it hurts and show him some alternative moves. You don’t have to put on a show — just ask him to start with the gentlest, most lubed-up touch he can manage and move up from there till you say “when.” If he’s actually concerned about hurting you and wants to do better, he will be motivated to pay attention. If he isn’t … well, what are you doing there?