There was no better place than the Castro Theatre to watch Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which kicked off the 70mm Series on Aug. 11. (Future delights in store: South Pacific and Tron!) The timing wasn’t bad either: among the film’s many viscerally unsettling images (see: bludgeoned animals; HAL’s omnipresent glowing red eye; an astronaut jerkily struggling for oxygen, then floating off into deep space), one in particular for me managed to mainline a vein of depression and fear concerning where world events — and US foreign policy — are taking us, ceasefire notwithstanding. That would be the moment (melodramatic, yes, but provoking dead silence in the theater) when ape-man moves beyond territorial posturing and realizes that he has the technology to bring home dinner and brutally slaughter his neighbors.
On a less dismal note, go check out our blogs — www.sfbg.com has spawned a whopping five of them in the wake of our Web site redesign, and we’re quite enjoying our adventures in 21st-century-style online media. We’re a little creeped out to find ourselves in the company of late bloomer Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who, we learned at press time, just posted his first entry on his own blog (a punishing 2,000-plus words in English). But we feel good about the fact that we got the jump on the Iranian president by at least a month or so.
Ahmadinejad’s first post is packed with autobiographical tidbits and railings against, yes, US foreign policy — much like our own content! But we’ve also got Kimberly Chun’s report and pics from the Bleeding Edge Festival on our music blog, Noise. In Pixel Vision you’ll find Cheryl Eddy’s musings on the fact that, per court order, Ted Kaczynski’s copy of The Elements of Style will soon be on the auction block — plus the extended mix of Eddy’s interview with Snakes on a Plane snake handler Jules Sylvester. And in the Bruce Blog, you’ll learn what happens when a national glossy business mag has the unmitigated temerity to refer to Guardian headquarters as “grungy” in the lead paragraph of its cover story. Read all about it in “Why People Get Mad at the Media,” parts one through six. SFBG
Volume 40 Number 46
August 16- August 22, 2006
OPINION Make no bones about it: the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) is a program of the US Department of Defense. Its purpose is clear: to recruit high school students into the military. Two years ago, 59 percent of San Franciscans demonstrated their disapproval of that sort of recruiting by supporting Proposition I. It’s time for the Board of Education to follow the wishes of those voters and phase out the JROTC in favor of a nonmilitary program.
On Aug. 22, it’s very likely that the San Francisco school board will do just that. Before the board is a proposal to not only ease out the JROTC but also form a blue-ribbon panel to find an alternative.
It’s not a new idea. In the mid-1990s, a similar board proposal failed by a 4–3 vote. This time the vote will probably be reversed. Phasing out the JROTC in San Francisco should be a breeze. Two years ago, a measure to put the city on record as wanting to bring the troops home from Iraq passed by 64 percent. Since Sept. 11, hundreds of thousands of San Franciscans have protested the wars in the Middle East. There’s no other city in this country with so much antiwar activity. So what’s the problem?
It’s the kids. The JROTC has successfully organized scores of young people (mostly white and Asian) to attend school board meetings to testify about the benefits of the program. A few LGBT kids have said that the local chapter of the JROTC does not discriminate, which JROTC officials confirm. What they don’t talk about is the fact that a queer kid can’t be out (or found out) in the armed forces. Since 1994, when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was first implemented, more than 11,182 queers have received the boot. There are also beatings and harassment to contend with in the military if you’re suspected of being queer. It’s not a pretty picture.
The JROTC doesn’t tell kids that a lot of what the recruiters promise is a lie — the kids might not get the educational benefits and job training promised in all the promotional materials. As Z Magazine reported (August 2005), 57 percent of military personnel receive absolutely no educational benefits. What’s more, only 12 percent of men and 6 percent of women who have served in the military ever use job skills obtained from their service. As Lucinda Marshall noted in an Aug. 24, 2005, article on ZNet, “According to the Veterans Administration, veterans earn less, make up 1/3 of homeless men and 20% of the nation’s prison population.” Be all that you can be?
Education was never the point of the military, of course. As former secretary of defense Dick Cheney once said, “The reason to have a military is to be prepared to fight and win wars…. It’s not a social welfare agency, it’s not a jobs program.”
Let’s not sell our youth short. Or make them fodder for oil wars. Or subject them to antiqueer discrimination and hate crimes. Let’s give them all the skills they need to make their lives the best they can be. We can do that without the military. SFBG
Tom Ammiano, Mark Sanchez, and Tommi Avicolli Mecca
Tom Ammiano is a queer former school board president and current supervisor of District 9. Mark Sanchez, the only queer member of the current San Francisco Board of Education, authored the current anti-JROTC resolution. Tommi Avicolli Mecca is a queer antiwar activist who was recently honored by the American Friends Service Committee.
“Another Best Friend Somehow”
As American icon or American spirit, Bob Dylan is constantly revived by the cultural defibrillator in large and very small ways. The group show “Another Best Friend Somehow” pairs the very-much-alive musical bard with a late poet whom critical elites and the makers of trends haven’t smiled upon as much of late: Dylan Thomas. Robert Allen Zimmerman’s namesake denials be damned – there are plentiful reasons to explore shared and distinct aspects of these two men’s lives and creations. Curators Jamie Atherton and Jeremy Lin have assembled an array of artists – including San Francisco-to-London’s Simon Evans, San Francisco’s Rebecca Miller, and New York’s Andre Razo – to do just that. (Johnny Ray Huston)
Through Oct. 7
Daily, noon-10 p.m.
Attic at Four Star Video, 1521 18th St., SF
If you’re wondering what happened to twee, you’re not the only one – really, though, where did it go? Apparently to Oakland, as the girls of Dreamdate have made clear on their self-titled seven-inch. It’s fun of the most fluffy, benevolent kind, inspired by the cavemanlike Beat Happening and more obviously by Thee Headcoatees, and a sound not tapped into as much as it should be. It’s like the leaner, vegetarian picnic alternative to the beer-pounding barbeque every other East Bay garage band is hanging out at. (Michael Harkin)
With the Skyflakes, the Concubines, and Matcli
Hotel Utah Saloon
500 Fourth St., SF