Volume 40 Number 50

September 13 – September 19, 2006

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Sept. 19


Bad Brains, Live at CBGB 1982

There’s nothing fancy about the new Bad Brains DVD, Live at CBGB 1982 (Music Video Distributors), but then again, there doesn’t need to be. The recently issued concert film captures the band onstage at the peak of their early hardcore era – performing classics such as “Redbone in the City,” “How Low Can a Punk Get,” and “Attitude” – with no annoying camera tricks or other distractions. (Will York)

9 p.m.
12 Galaxies
2565 Mission, SF
(415) 970-9777

Visual Art

“Mexico As Muse: Tina Modotti and Edward Weston”

Intended as an archive for the monumental partnership between two major artistic figures, Tina Modotti and Edward Weston, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s “Mexico as Muse” serves more as a teaser to Modotti’s life and work. While Weston’s images of earthen pots, ancient pyramids, and Mexican skies build a foundation for later works, his portraits of his artistic partner are by far his most interesting contributions to “Mexico as Muse.” Modotti chose her subjects carefully, opting for the limitless possibilities of telephone lines stretching over the rural Mexican landscape and flimsy, partially ajar doors instead of the immobile and established nature of Weston’s content. (K. Tighe)

Through Jan. 2
Fri.-Tues., 11 a.m.-5:45 p.m.; Thurs., 11 a.m.-8:45 p.m.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 Third St., SF
$12.50, $8 seniors, $7 students, free under 13 and members (free first Tuesday; half price Thurs., 6-8:45 p.m.)
(415) 357-4000



Sept. 18


“True Lust Confidential”

Let’s be honest, spoken word and open mic nights are not typically linked to eroticism and sexual candor. This is not the case at the Porchlight’s “True Lust Confidential,” a steamy literary event dedicated to all things sexy that promises to be anything but typical. The night’s lineup boasts an idiosyncratic mix, including comedian Michael Capozzola, hat-obsessed movie critic Jan Wahl, burlesque dancer and erotic poet Lady Monster, and self-proclaimed “smutsmith” Allison Landa. (Hayley Elisabeth Kaufman)

8 p.m.
Cafe du Nord
2170 Market, SF
(415) 861-5016


Labor and war

Join trade unionists and workers at a discussion on wars in the Middle East with union leaders Monadel Herzallah, Alan Fisher, Professor Mary Ann Ring, and Jack Heyman and members of Transport Workers Solidarity Committee Chair. The event is sponsored by Break the Siege Coalition, Labor Video Project, Labor for Palestine, and Labor Action Coalition. (Deborah Giattina)

7 p.m.
522 Valencia, third floor, SF
$3 donation requested
(415) 282-1908



Sept. 17


The Queers

Thirteen-year-olds from all over will be flocking to this all-ages show to see the legendary lineup of pop punk sensations. But somewhat older, die-hard fans of the notorious old-school punk band the Queers now have an excuse to party all weekend. The original Joe Queer will be present, shamelessly trying to promote the band’s latest CD, the live slab Weekend at Bernie’s (Doheny). (Kellie Ell)

With Hard Ons and Groovie Ghoulies
8 p.m.
Cafe du Nord
2170 Market, SF
(415) 861-5016


Jaguares X Anniversary

After Saúl Hernández left the seminal Mexican rock band Caifanes in 1995, he had a dream that he was playing guitar inside the mouth of a jaguar. This image is the source of the band’s moniker and is an apt description of its sound. Los Jaguares, even in their quieter moments, play with an urgency and intensity that make it seem like every note could be their last before being devoured whole. (Aaron Sankin)

8 p.m.
1805 Geary, SF
(415) 346-6000



Sept. 16


Starlite Desperation

Where some psychedelic rockers come off passive and fey, the feral psych-garage trio the Starlite Desperation incite an intense and raw reaction with their signature blend of dirty blues and urgent guitar dissonance, all punctuated by singer Dante Adrian’s spooky yet alluring vocals. With their major-label debut, Take It Personally (Capitol), the band reach into a sonically darker realm with “I’m Ready Again,” whose modernized Cramps-like slither and frenetic bass line induce involuntary hip shaking. San Francisco’s own Bella Vista (featuring former members of Vue) bring a primal stomp and swagger to the opening slot. (Hayley Elisabeth Kaufman)

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


Rainer Trüby

It’s been four years since producer-remixer-DJ Rainer Trüby last graced San Francisco – chances are he’s picked up at least one or two decent records in the meantime. One-third of the Trüby Trio (with Roland Appel and Christian Prommer of Fauna Flash), compiler of the essential Glücklich albums for Compost Records, and a friendly obsessive-compulsive who collected matchboxes as a child before switching to the slightly cooler records, Trüby is cited by none other than Gilles Peterson as one of the world’s best DJs. House, Brazilian, jazz, electro, hip-hop – Trüby drops it all into a mix that still manages to be more about dancing than name-checking. (Peter Nicholson)

10 p.m.
Poleng Lounge
1751 Fulton, SF
(415) 441-1751



Sept. 15

Visual Art

“Bringing the Feral Fight Home”

I’ll tell you one of the things I like most about Daniel Tierney’s art – namely, the fact that he often crumples up his large works on paper. Take Cowboy Town, an acrylic-on-paper two-part piece that is included in this solo show of paintings and drawings. Precrumpling, its larger image of a desolate, dusty street would be impressive, but the creases and wrinkles add dimension and bring across some frustration – or at least a sense that 2005 Goldie winner Tierney isn’t more sacred than thou about what he makes. (Johnny Ray Huston)

Through Oct. 14
6-9 p.m. reception
Ping Pong Gallery
1240 22nd St., SF
(415) 550-7483


African development

Environmental justice activist Frank Muramuzi leads a discussion on alternatives to developing dams in Africa – with Walter Turner, history and ethnic studies scholar and host of KPFA’s Africa Today; Terri Hathaway, Africa campaigner with International Rivers Network; and Rev. Phi Lawson.

7 p.m.
First Congregational Church in Oakland
2501 Harrison, Oakl.
(510) 848-1155



Sept. 14


“Indiecent Exposure”

One of many things “Indiecent Exposure” has going for it is an array of movies with good titles. In addition to live musical selections from Murdered by the Moore Brothers and food by the Tamale Lady, this evening showcases short works such as Shitty Cat (by Ray Potes of Hamburger Eyes) and another couple of man-gone-bad or man-gone-mad stories, Ryan Finnerty’s I Kill People for Money and Eric Noren’s Fish Tales. (Johnny Ray Huston)

7 p.m.
111 Minna Gallery
111 Minna, SF
(415) 974-1719



If imitation is the highest form of flattery, Tortoise had much reason to feel admired in the late ’90s. The Chicago group’s hybrid sound – shimmering timbres propelled by shape-shifting rhythms – won over many collegiate rockers (this writer being no exception), and for a few years anyhow, it seemed as if every band in the world simply had to work a xylophone into the mix. With the post-rock wave well past its crest, Tortoise’s canonized albums don’t sound as fresh as they once did, but the band’s omnivorous taste and unquestionable chops have aged well – plenty of proof can be found on A Lazarus Taxon (Thrill Jockey), a recently released box set of previously unreleased and out-of-print material. (Max Goldberg)

8 p.m.
Great American Music Hall
859 O’Farrell, SF
(415) 885-0750



Sept. 13


Oliver Mtukudzi

Ah, the power of the juxtaposition: a shaft of sunlight thrown against a patch of darkness; an instant of pure breathless beauty amid the grit and the grime of a humdrum day; a moment of clarity in the middle of swirling chaos. When touched by the thoughtful hands of a great artist, these juxtapositions leave us knocked out but wanting more every time. Zimbabwean singer-songwriter Oliver Mtukudzi is such an artist. With startling contrasts of raw, aching vocals against frequently breezy, lighthearted instrumentation, Mtukudzi’s songs address such heady topics as poverty, sexism, and the African AIDS crisis while lulling listeners with gently rollicking grooves, and the result is nothing short of mesmerizing. (Todd Lavoie)

8 and 10 p.m.
510 Embarcadero West, Oakland
(510) 238-9200


Free minds

Attend a UC Berkeley panel discussion on national security, intellectual freedom, and constitutional rights in the post-Sept. 11 era moderated by Tom Leonard of the Graduate School of Journalism. Panelists include Michael Nacht, dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy; Tom Campbell, dean of the Haas School of Business and former California state senator and US representative; and Professor Tom Goldstein, director of the Mass Communications Program. (Deborah Giattina)

6:30-8 p.m.
UC Berkeley
Free Speech Movement Café
Moffitt Undergraduate Library
Near University and Hearst, Berk.
(510) 642-8197

Gourmet GPS


› marke@sfbg.com
The first thing they should hand you when you land in the Bay Area is a fork. (Well, that and maybe a condom.) The Bay is brimming with deliciousness, and one of the best things about living in such a genteel environment is the copious amount of wanton gourmandizing to be had. International specialty stores, world-famous organic eateries, precious little bistros, tasty pastries, cuisines you’ve never heard of … it’s a taste bud amusement park, a roller coaster of mmm.
In fact, maybe along with that fork they should also give you a culinary compass, some kind of flavor navigator to guide you through the thicket of edible options. I’ve certainly always wanted one: sometimes I’m faced with so many choices I find myself holing up in my breakfast nook with Charlie the Tuna and Chef Boyardee. That’s no way to live. So this year for our annual food and drink issue, we at the Guardian decided to give the guide thing a real go: rounding up some of our favorite places to eat and putting them in a handy digest to reference all year long. Feast 2006 is our bellwether to noshing and helps answer some very important questions — questions like “Where can I eat at 3 a.m.?” and “What restaurant serves fresh yamakakke?” and “Where can I brunch with a drag queen?” (as well as several more everyday queries).
This guide is by no means encyclopedic. There’s a whole host of other choices available in each of the categories within. For even more recommended comestibles, check out our Best of the Bay (www.bestofthebay.com), our blogs at www.sfbg.com, and the paper every week. But for now, dive into Feast 2006 — and don’t forget your napkin. You got a little somethin’ on your chin, sweetie.
Marke B.
Feast 2006 editor
› marke@sfbg.com

8 juicy steak houses
6 fabulous Sunday brunches
8 cheap dates
8 great cups of coffee
16 freaky cuisines
5 sinful desserts
6 reasons to eat in Berkeley
9 hipster breakfasts
7 funky infusion bars
9 late-night restaurants
10 organic eateries
9 picks for picky eaters
6 top floor cocktails
8 spots to sip rose
27 delectable specialty stores
Paul Reidinger’s top 20

Trash hits Toronto


FEST REPORT I’m writing hours after the start of the Toronto International Film Festival’s 31st edition. Opening nights are a ritual for film festivals, and this one is no exception. The big show is always a Canadian feature: this year it’s Norman Cohn and Zacharias Kunuk’s The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, the follow-up to the same team’s hit from five years ago, Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner. I’ve seen the best and worst of Canadian cinema over the years at these opening nights, but I now choose to skip the red-carpet mob of Toronto’s moneyed finest in favor of an alternative: at the Elgin, one of Toronto’s best movie palaces, an international feature with high hopes unspools to an audience of cinephiles with equally grand expectations. To the collective joy of those assembled, The Lives of Others hits the giant screen with appropriate splendor. Already said to be Germany’s contender for the Oscars (a prospect that isn’t necessarily promising), this debut feature is much more than the usual polished Euro gem aiming at the global market. Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck studied political science and economics as well as filmmaking, and it shows. Here is a man who can think about his society and who, moreover, trusts the specificities of history (in this case, 1984 in the German Democratic Republic) to speak to the present. Like Good Night, and Good Luck, Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others begs us to pay attention to history. In Germany — the film suggests — the days of political thugs abusing power to control a population are over. “To think that people like you used to run a country!” its writer-protagonist explodes in a pivotal scene to an ex-politician in the lobby of a Berlin theater reviving the former’s old socialist realist play. Here in George W. Bush and Karl Rove’s America (where the wiretapping that dominates Henckel von Donnersmarck’s film is a reality), no such comforting escape into the present is remotely possible. But The Lives of Others could be a lesson to US filmmakers on how to create complex characters that lead an audience through complex issues — to think and feel at the same time, as the director’s compatriot Rainer Werner Fassbinder once put it. The Elgin Visa Screening Room (yes, that’s the name — festival sponsor Visa is inescapable) vibrated with passion at film’s end. Directors aren’t supposed to come back onstage at the opening-night screening, but the standing ovation demanded it. And the applause wasn’t only for Henckel von Donnersmarck’s very real achievement as the writer and director. Lead actor Ulrich Mühe — who gives an extraordinary performance as a conflicted Stasi agent — had been an East German theater actor under heavy Stasi surveillance. There he was, onstage too, a living storehouse of historical process. At a festival where politics are already emerging as a major focus, this jewel of a flashback may well be a flash-forward to the year ahead. (B. Ruby Rich) FEST REPORT I may be an American journalist scuttling around in Canada, but so far all of my top picks at the Toronto International Film Festival hail from Asia. South Korea’s The Host is a film you will be hearing a lot about in the near future — especially if you’re anywhere near my yapping mouth, which will be (loudly) singing the praises of Bong Joon-ho’s colossal monster jam for months to come. Kinda like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Host is inspired by a true incident. According to a 2000 Korea Times article, an American civilian employee of US Forces Korea was jailed for ordering the dumping of toxins into Seoul’s Han River. That he happened to oversee a US Army mortuary was a particularly juicy detail. As The Host imagines it, the freaky chemical combo births an underwater mutant. We don’t have to wait long to get a full reveal either: it’s a huge, mouthy sea monster, complete with dexterous tentacles and the ability to gallop across land, perform graceful backflips, and swallow whatever unlucky human being gets the hell in its way. Naturally, the local population freaks — especially a sad-sack father (Song Kang-ho, who also played a sad-sack father in Park Chanwook’s Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) who watches helplessly when his young daughter gets lassoed by the critter. The Host follows his oft-ridiculous plans to rescue her with the help of his brother (an educated drunk) and sister (a competitive archer who tends to choke when it counts). The film also chronicles the Korean government’s strong-arm approach to handling the “river incident” — with the help of the US Army, which would just as soon incite even more panic by claiming the monster is the source of a terrible and mysterious new virus. Bonus: The Host boasts killer special effects by San Francisco’s the Orphanage (Sin City, Superman Returns) and New Zealand’s Weta Workshop (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong). With cutting political and social commentary gurgling just below the surface and black humor spurting from every orifice, The Host (due for a Magnolia Pictures release in 2007) is a must-see for monster movie fans — and jeez, everybody else too. If straight-ahead action’s more your thing, keep an eye out for Johnnie To’s Exiled (Bay Area release date unknown). Touted in some circles as the sequel to The Mission, this may be the prolific To’s best gangster movie to date. The smashingly hangdog Anthony Wong anchors a cast of familiar Hong Kong faces (Simon Yam, Francis Ng, Nick Cheung); the plot, about hired guns and gangsters who do the double cross like nobody’s business, matters less than the jaw-dropping gun battles it produces. When shoot-outs come this well choreographed, the word is gun-fu — and in Exiled, the bloody results are nothing short of stunning. Also topping my Toronto experience so far: Takashi Miike’s latest oddity, surreal prison drama Big Bang Love: Juvenile A (by the time you read this, he’ll probably already have his next film in the can); The Wayward Cloud director Tsai Ming-liang’s dreamy, gritty, and near-silent I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone; and Nobody Knows helmer Hirokazu Kore-eda’s samurai yarn, Hana. (Cheryl Eddy) For longer takes on these and other TIFF selections, read daily festival updates on the Pixel Vision blog at www.sfbg.com.

Fringe on top


› a&eletters@sfbg.com
There’s a crisp fall edge to the heady pee-asma of the Tenderloin as huddled, roaming packs of theater scavengers move hourly among the tolerant local traffic — two unmistakable signs of the SF Fringe Festival. How like Halloween it all seems too, the greedy devouring of tricks and treats at the Fringe, that 12-day carnival of the theater world gleefully unimpeded by judges’ panels, censors’ boards, or the general plague of good taste.
The open-door policy of the Fringe makes for a thoroughly unhinged program of nearly 40 local, national, and international acts, all under an hour and all under 10 bucks. In this situation, word of mouth and capricious fortune serve as the principal guideposts for sporting patrons ricocheting from one show to the next among 10 different venues, including such nontraditional environs as Original Joe’s restaurant-bar and the mobile fiesta known as the Mexican Bus.
Amid opening night’s offerings Sept. 6 came the latest from Fringe superstars Banana Bag and Bodice. Something of a superstar satire itself, The Fall and Rise of the Rising Fallen explores, exclaims, and explodes the mass-cultural phenomenon (“mass retardo reactions”) surrounding a legendary band, the Rising Fallen, six years defunct since playing just one glorious gig.
Part one of a longer piece, Rising Fallen unfolds as a pretentious and outlandish presentation by a grad student expert (Christopher W. White) writing his thesis on the “post-wave neo-nick nick scene.” His quickly wayward lecture includes testimonials and reenactments featuring former lead guitarist Taylor Taylor (Dave Malloy), number one groupie Janey Jane (Rebecca Noon), and some other dude (a roving protean presence played by Joseph Estlack). Amid a couple of microphones and practice amps, an electric guitar, a handheld light source, a video monitor, and a suitably quirky musical score by Malloy come various ego-refracted takes on the myth and mystique surrounding the band’s long-estranged lover-founders, Jacko and Grandma Mo. They are played remotely if indelibly via some recorded images and a pair of cell phones by BB and B’s New York founders, Jason Craig (who cowrote the piece with Malloy) and Jessica Jelliffe.
Word-struck, wryly antisoulful, but only fitfully inspired (especially by comparison with their previous shows), Rising Fallen never quite finds its legs. Ironically, Craig’s and Jelliffe’s charismatic but elusive personae might have held the piece together more had the actors actually been live onstage.
The following night saw two premieres with strangely similar themes by SF companies. Get It? Got It. Good., an absurdist three-act play by SF playwright-director Dan Wilson (Vagina Dentata), begins as a desperate hunt by two losers (Catz Forsman and Sam Shaw) for an elusive “it” sought by their clients (a frustrated couple played by Kevin Karrick and Stefanie Goldstein) and ends with an inquiry into the nature of good and bad that devolves into a Luigi Pirandello–like unraveling of the play itself. Although the play tends to substitute volume and verbosity for more penetrating writing at points, Wilson and his capable eight-person cast reach several high notes (not least actor Hal Savage’s Catholic sermon).
The ghost of Pirandello haunted the stage once more that evening. This time it was in the back room at Original Joe’s on Taylor, where RIPE Theater unveiled its latest, @six, an amusing set of interconnected scenes written by the company that eventually turns its purported premise — a series of coincidental encounters between two antagonistic couples (Sarah McKereghan and John Andrew Stillions; Mark Rachel and Deborah Wade) and a silent bystander (Noah Kelly) — inside out. Some uneven writing and thematic unraveling aside, great ensemble acting and consistently sharp humor held this one together.
Other promising fare in the SF Fringe Fest couldn’t be sampled in time for this column, including local legend-in-his-own-right Dan Carbone’s new show, Bay Area playwright Ian Walker’s Stone Trilogy, and the anticipated sequel The Thrilling Adventures of Elvis in Space II. For the whole enchilada, including audience reviews, visit the fest’s Web site. SFBG
Through Sun/17
Call or see Web site for showtimes, locations, and prices

Six-string samurai


› a&eletters@sfbg.com
Discovering new metal bands worth their salt these days isn’t just hit-and-miss — it’s mostly miss. In fact, most kids now trying to crack the genre make me want to jump onstage, grab them by their greasy hair, and scream, “Satan is boring!” or “You are not Metallica!” into their prematurely damaged eardrums.
So when a friend slipped me the unmastered studio tracks of Totimoshi’s forthcoming album, Ladron, I was hesitant. After I explained to him that I was still mourning Bass Wolf and simply wasn’t ready for another Japanese rocker in my life, he rolled his eyes and told me to go home and listen to the thing.
Totimoshi, it turns out, is not a Japanese band.
In November 1997, Totimoshi singer-songwriter-guitarist Tony Aguilar had nearly given up hope in finding the right bassist to collaborate with: “I just couldn’t find anyone who wanted to work on the kind of things I was doing.” Meeting budding bassist Meg Castellanos at a warehouse concert in San Francisco changed everything. “I ended up teaching her a few things,” he says. “She got really good in no time and started writing her own stuff.”
And so began Totimoshi — a band that would go on to break the boundaries of multiple genres, build an innovative new framework for independent hard rock, and go through drummers like jelly beans.
Luke Herbst became the band’s seventh drummer in early 2005 and has proven to be the missing link in the Totimoshi sound. “He’s an integral part of the band,” Castellanos says. “He’s gotten a lot of very high praise. Everyone — even our past drummers — are really impressed with him.”
When the trio of Totimoshi walked into San Francisco’s Lucky Cat Studios to record, they came prepared to answer one burning question: what happens when you put one of the hardest-working, heaviest bands in the Bay Area in a studio with Helmet frontperson Page Hamilton and the Melvin’s sound engineer?
Pure fucking genius.
The group met Hamilton after he selected them to open the Helmet reunion tour last year. He was the obvious choice for producer. But working with your idol isn’t all fun and games: Hamilton started cutting things up right away. “He came in and cracked the whip,” Castellanos confesses. “We sat in the studio and went through every part of every song with a fine-tooth comb. It was a bit hellish.”
“It was really hard for me to give up the reins,” Aguilar adds. “But I swallowed all that. It turned out amazing.”
A quick listen to any of Totimoshi’s previous discs shows that they’ve had their chops for a long time. Ladron (meaning thief in Spanish) is due out Oct. 24 on Crucial Blast and marks a new stage in the band’s development. They’ve folded the grimiest parts of early Nirvana into the deepest, darkest depths of Sabbath, producing a wailing, slithering, flopping hodgepodge that’s purely Totimoshi.
In my attempts to pin down a description of Ladron, I keep coming back to an apocalyptic wasteland. Barren desert. Blazing sun. This is likely the result of one too many viewings of Six-String Samurai, but the image in my head is clear: Totimoshi riding a firestorm of worthy, working warrior bands (the Melvins, High on Fire, Neorosis) into the rock kingdom to reclaim the throne. Flicking tabloid pop stars and a domesticated, stuttering Ozzy aside, they loudly announce to their cohorts that metal once again rules. The people rejoice.
Hardly strangers to the road, Totimoshi tour the hardcore way: constantly. In a van. With little money and even less tour support. “What continues to drive us is the message, the music,” Aguilar says. “We care about our art so much we are willing to live in a van for months on end. It’s hard, but it’s what is necessary.” If some indie rock poster kid tried using this logic, this is the part where I’d tell him to crawl his whiny ass down from the cross and get a job. From Aguilar’s mouth, these are the inspired words of a man who lives for his craft. I can feel the passion bleed through when he tells me, “We’re not going to sit here and wait for Mr. Big to come and say, ‘You’re a great band!’ We’d rather get the message out ourselves.”
The group is about to spread that message on a very long tour with the help of Mastodon, the Bronx, Oxbow, and Year Long Disaster. “It has nothing to do with ‘making it,’” Castellanos says. “We just want to be working musicians once and for all. I think with this album the timing is right.” Their newest member apparently agrees. “Luke’s willing to sacrifice for these upcoming tours,” she continues. “I think he already lost his job.” He might not be needing it. SFBG
Sat/16, 9 p.m.
1600 17th St., SF
(415) 503-0393
Also Sun/17
Golden Bull
412 14th St., Oakl.
Call for time and price
(510) 893-0803

Turf’s up


› a&eletters@sfbg.com
First nicknamed the Rolling 20s in the ’70s, then the Twomps in the ’80s, the group of East Oakland avenues below MacArthur and between 19th and Fruitvale avenues received its present designation, the Murder Dubs, in the early ’90s, when a neighborhood hustler named P-Dub began a lethal reign of terror in an effort to control the local drug trade. Naturally, this didn’t endear him to the community, which locked its collective doors to him the night his number came up, leaving him to be gunned down in the street by pursuers circa 1994.
Yet despite this violent legacy, the vibe in the Dubs seems remarkably friendly, at least in the company of its most famous son, 23-year-old MC and producer Beeda Weeda. Head of the sprawling Pushin’ the Beat (PTB) camp — whose roster includes a half-dozen talented producers, as well as rappers like Lil Al the Gamer and veteran crew Under Survalance — Beeda is on familiar terms with most of the neighborhood, though this doesn’t prevent a nearby group of kids from treating him like a star.
“Are you really Beeda Weeda?” one boy asks. “My name’s Beeda Weeda too!” A girl asks for his autograph. “Go get some paper,” the rapper answers, and the kids race home for supplies, allowing us to finish our photo shoot before Beeda poses with his fans and surrenders his signature.
Far from letting it go to his head, Beeda Weeda seems merely amused at his newfound celebrity.
“People see you on TV and they think you rich and famous,” he says with a laugh, referring to his video for “Turf’s Up,” which has been in heavy rotation on VJ-TV (Oakland cable channel 78) for several months, in addition to receiving more than 70,000 plays on YouTube. There’s a vast gulf separating local access from MTV. Still, Beeda has already made inroads into MTV terrain, not the least of which is his contribution to E-40 and Keak Da Sneak’s “Tell Me When to Go” video.
Beeda explains, “40 heard about me and knew I was still in the mix in the town. He didn’t even know I did music when we first hooked up. They wanted to get the elements of the street, the whole sideshow thing, so I helped him do the casting in terms of the cars, the locations, things like that.”
Drawing on their extensive neighborhood network, Beeda Weeda and PTB’s in-house video guru, J-Mo, would end up exerting a considerable influence on the image of hyphy in the national consciousness, due to the video’s success on MTV. The experience also netted PTB some of the unused footage, not to mention high-profile cameos by E-40 and Lil Jon, for its “Turf’s Up” video. More recently, Beeda and West Oakland partner J-Stalin were filmed together in the studio working on their upcoming album, for a segment of an as-yet-untitled MTV reality show following cub reporters for Rolling Stone. (MTV exec Ryan Cunningham confirmed nothing save that the segment was likely to air. Presumably, some sort of Rolling Stone article will run.) At the time of our photo shoot, Beeda’s solo debut, Turfology 101, was about a week away from its Aug. 29 street date and had already been reviewed in the latest issue of Scratch. Released on Souls of Mischief–Hieroglyphics member Tajai’s Clear Label Records and distributed through Hiero/Fontana/Universal, Turfology has just enough major-label clout behind it to get itself noticed even on a NY magazine’s New York–centric radar.
He may not quite be famous yet, but as Beeda Weeda is forced to acknowledge, “My name’s starting to ring bells.”
Some rap names are chosen; others, given. In this case, Beeda Weeda is the rapper’s childhood nickname, derived from his association with Peeda Weeda. “He was like my OG when I was a little kid,” Beeda says. In 1992, at age 15, Peeda was shot by the Oakland Police Department and left paraplegic, one of many victims of the neighborhood’s most violent period.
As the ’90s wore on and Beeda entered his teens, he began making tracks, inspired by neighborhood musicians who would eventually form the core of the PTB production squad. “Most of them are older than me,” he says. “They were into music before me, so I was looking up to them. We got Big Vito, GB, LG, Tre, Miggz, and G-Lite.”
“My partner from the neighborhood, J-Boog, was rapping, and I started making beats,” Beeda continues. “But I didn’t start getting serious until I did a track called ‘Hard Hitters’ for a little group I put together called Dying 2 Live. It came out on an actual CD.”
While “Hard Hitters” didn’t cause much of a ripple in Bay Area hip-hop’s late-’90s commercial doldrums, it was sufficient to establish Beeda Weeda as a neighborhood beatmaker, attracting the attention of up-and-coming rapper Lil Al.
“We hooked up, and I started slanging beats to him,” Beeda says. “He was, like, ‘Man, let’s be a group,’ so that’s when I started really writing. We put out a whole album, all original music, and pushed it in the streets. We pressed it up ourselves. Did all the artwork. I damn near engineered, produced, and mixed the whole thang. It was called Just an Introduction by Lil Al and Beeda Weeda.” Released on their own Young Black Entrepreneurs label in 2002, Just an Introduction would quickly sell out its 500-copy run and make the pair’s reputation in the streets as young rappers.
“At the same time,” Beeda confesses, “we wasn’t really eating off the music, so we had to do other things to make money. Bro got caught up in some bullshit, had to do a little time.” With Lil Al in prison, plans to press a more professionally packaged Introduction were abruptly shelved as Beeda was forced to evolve into a solo act.
“I did a few songs, and I was just pushing it through the Dubs,” Beeda continues. “My music has a lot to do with my environment, certain situations that happen to me or my people. I was basically just making music for me and my niggas.”
Such a local focus, crucial to the Turfology concept, is what gives the album its distinctive flavor. Granted, it mightn’t be to everyone’s taste: Scratch’s generally positive review faults PTB’s use of “the synthesizer,” which makes me wonder how the writer imagines hip-hop is made in the hood. If there’s sense to this remark, it’s in the fact that Beeda and company don’t hide the instrument’s “synthness.” They push big chords composed of the most unearthly sounds right in your face.
As for the suggestion that Turfology at times “sounds like one overlong track,” I can only guess the reviewer is accustomed to the 16-tracks-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-each-other formula of most rap discs. Turfology has a sonic coherence sorely lacking in contemporary hip-hop, the stuff that makes for classic albums. The PTB producers are clearly riffing off each other rather than chasing the hyphy train, yet they don’t sound like they’re in a vacuum. The in-house tracks on Turfology blend seamlessly with beats by young North Oakland producer Jamon Dru of Ticket Face, Charlie O of the Hard Labor camp, and East Oakland’s Mekanix.
“Their music is real current and authentic,” says Clear Label Records head Tajai during a session for the upcoming Souls of Mischief album.
Tajai heard some of Beeda’s demos by chance in a friend’s car and immediately got in touch with PTB. Having dropped several of his own solo albums and collaborations, Tajai was looking to expand his roster with other artists. Along with Baby Jaymes and R&B singer Chris Marisol — both of whom are scheduled to release albums next year — Beeda Weeda and PTB made Clear Label suddenly one of the hottest imprints in the Bay. Tajai dismisses the notion that a hood rapper like Beeda is incongruous with Hiero’s “backpacker image.” “Hiero is from East Oakland. Beeda’s a real serious artist and student of rap in general, and I want Clear Label to be a forum for that kind of artist.”
In the months since signing with Clear Label and preparing for Turfology to drop, Beeda has busily maintained his buzz on the mixtape circuit. “Tajai gives us the avenues, but as far as promoting, we do that on our own. Since I’m a new artist, we did The Orientation, had DJ Backside mixing it. That had about 12 songs on there and two originals. The game out here is so saturated. I was, like, ‘Let’s give them away.’ So we started passing ’em out in different cities; next thing you know, my name started ringing.”
At the end of May, Beeda dropped a second mixtape, Homework, mixed by the Demolition Men and consisting of PTB originals. A classic in its own right, Homework, with its organ-driven title track by Jamon Dru, is still banging all over Oakland, unlikely to be silenced even by Turfology’s release.
As we wrap our discussion, the PTB house in the Dubs is virtually empty, prior to being sold. The organization is getting too big to stay in the hood, and the camp is shopping for an industrial space.
“I love this place,” Beeda says. “When our studio was outside the hood for a while, I used to find myself driving out for no reason. I just missed it.” Clearly, the MC is connected to his community, and even if PTB has to relocate, it’s clear that he and his crew have no intention of leaving it behind. SFBG

American lie


› johnny@sfbg.com
One of the many refreshing aspects of Kirby Dick’s This Film Is Not Yet Rated is that it doesn’t focus on an obvious topic. Documentaries have begun reaching more viewers in recent years, but few take on the many-fangled foibles of the Bush era in an imaginative manner. Dick’s new film does, in addition to providing a lesson about the intersection between film history and American history, a convergence that isn’t as petty or easily dismissed as one might think. This is a smartly comedic private-eye movie with a feminist, even lesbian sensibility. It’s just dressed up in doc clothes.
Leaving aside Dick’s last name, in This Film Is Not Yet Rated the real private dick is Becky Altringer, a PI the director hires to spy on the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) — to reach inside its seemingly impenetrable gated fortress and help reveal its inner workings. Taking a cue from Michael Moore, Dick foregrounds Altringer, a woman normal enough to admit that she gets a thrill (necessary amid the waiting and drudgery that make up most of her day) out of spying on people who don’t know she’s watching them. It also sets her portrait against the entitled eccentricity of the MPAA’s oft Republican and rich members, who discriminate against the likes of Altringer on a daily basis in the name of their own supposed normalcy. Needless to say, they’re a pretty kooky bunch.
Dick’s strongest subtext is female pleasure. Here is a filmmaker who has read his Laura Mulvey yet somehow not wound up with a starchy collar. Considering his past work on subjects such as artist and masochist Bob Flanagan, it isn’t a stretch to say that a Bay Area brand of feminism informs Dick’s latest work, which devotes a lot of time to female (and often queer) filmmakers whose visions of sexuality have made the MPAA uncomfortable. Sitting before a movie poster that spells out her attitude toward recently retired MPAA president Jack Valenti, a Peppermint Patty–rasping Kimberly Peirce tells how the ratings board was much more threatened by a close-up of Chloë Sevigny’s face in orgasmic bliss from lesbian oral sex than it was by, say, Boys Don’t Cry’s protagonist getting a bullet in the head. Mary Harron is even more perceptive in her discussion of the organization and its reaction to her American Psycho. A scene in which the killer literally chomps cannibalistically on a woman’s crotch bothered them less than an orgy scene.
This Film Is Not Yet Rated moves rather quickly through the Hays Code clampdown, a very conservative period in Hollywood. But it does take the necessary time to dig into the ascent of Lyndon B. Johnson underling Lew Wasserman. His influence lingers: for decades under the Wasserman-appointed Valenti’s command, the MPAA has worked in tandem with the major studios to squash individuality and independence. Bearing the IFC and Netflix stamps of approval, Dick’s movie arrives at a time when home video receipts dwarf theatrical box office numbers, and thus the ratings system (outside of Blockbuster country) might not matter as much as it once did. But right now is better than never when it comes to tarnishing a corrupt institution’s legacy.SFBG
Opens Fri/15
See film listings for theaters and showtimes

T off


› kimberly@sfbg.com
SONIC REDUCER You scream, I scream, we all scream for … the black concert T. It’s the music-merch phenom that will always annoyingly outsell all other comers, as Brad Hudson of JSR Merchandising explained at SXSW earlier this year. Keep your bandeezys and doggie baseball jerseys — the black T-shirt is the Coke Classic of live-show sales, the fail-safe upon which Stones tours are built. Why? Well, as one multitentacled insider recently announced to me, you can’t download a T-shirt!
But what to wear after that? It wasn’t hard to figure that out during my struggles through the two recent diva releases, Beyoncé’s strident, backward-glancing sophomore full-length, B’Day (Sony BMG), and Paris Hilton’s microdermabrasioned lite-pop debut, Paris (Warner Bros.). Both CDs find the ladies busily hawking duds and assorted nonmusical product. Why even bother critiquing what lay embedded in the shiny plastic discs behind Beyoncé’s eerily blank Madame Tussaud’s wax cover image or Hilton’s sleek rich-bitch-slash-sexpot pose? Why celebrate Hilton’s easy, sleazy, ultimately unfulfilling musical grabs at the Grease soundtrack and “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” or bash Beyoncé’s dog-note shrieks (she’s playing Diana Ross in Dream Girls, so why compete on record?) and frantic but intriguing ladies-first messages? These CDs are so clearly vehicles from which to launch clothing lines (in Beyoncé’s case, her mother’s Dereon by House of Dereon label, baldly peddled in the inside booklet) and perfume (Paris’s Heiress, as well as handbags and watches).
Too bad then that Beyoncé has simultaneously hit a fashion low point, modeling a hideous mod houndstooth swimsuit and bastardized Bardot milkmaid frills on her CD — B has been damaged by one too many Guess Jeans and Baby Phat advertising campaigns, I presume. All of which could have been forgiven if Beyoncé had coughed up a track on par with “Crazy in Love” — but no such luck. The emergency-siren sample of “Ring the Alarm,” echoed on Paris’s opening, “Turn It Up,” can’t save that siren’s single; I prefer the unexpected guilty pleasure kick-him-to-the-curb power ballad “Irreplaceable.” How telling that as the B girl declares war on good taste on B’Day, the worst faux-fierce track is titled “Freakum Dress.”
Amid all this accessorized insanity, we should thank our musical deities that when it comes to local clothes hos, we have been gifted with the gifted Music Lovers. The band’s singer-songwriter, Matthew “Ted” Edwards, has been much in demand of late. When he and drummer Ping Chu sat in last month at the Sonic Reducer DJ night at Hemlock Tavern, the Birmingham, England, native was psyched about the group’s rave reviews in Europe and was occupied writing the music for superfan Margaret Cho’s latest burlesque project, “Sensuous Woman Cabaret,” and rehearsing with Cho at the Plush Room. But who wants to get into details about the new Music Lovers’ Guide for Young People (le Grand Magistery) — and its songs of kebabs and lager (“Brother, I Am Walking”) and a certain Anglo avant-garde Marxist composer (“Thank You, Cornelius Cardew”)? Edwards would much rather discuss the Music Lovers’ love of shopping.
“We adhere to a pretty strict dress code, which is enforced by all of us,” he told me recently over the phone, “because it’s respectful to the audience. I want to say I made an effort and do the best I can. I’m not interested in seeing another group of lads in T-shirts.”
So the besuited Music Lovers are actually a little like — the Ramones?
“Except we’re tidier,” he replied. “I make no apologies for that. I’ll spend my last 60 bucks on a decent shirt.
“We’re a band apart.”
You have to admire such a hard stand on the seemingly superficial topic of style, but then Edwards does fall in line with a mod way of thought: dress sharp, seize that dream, and maintain a sense of dignity even if you have to spend every bit of your bellhop wages to do it. Likewise, the rangy, suave pop Guide, which boasts harder-rock moments than the Lovers’ debut, The Words We Say before We Sleep, maintains a subtle, knifelike edge and wit that a cultural connoisseur like SF-reared comedian Margaret Cho can appreciate. “I think that the Music Lovers are the greatest, and I love working with them because they have such a sophisticated sound, completely new yet strangely familiar,” she e-mailed me. “Listening to them feels like I’m stepping into a film like Purple Noon or Belle du Jour, and I have really long earrings on that almost touch my shoulders.”
It takes an effort to maintain that romantic mood: Edwards, 38, never quite recovered from his “horrific experience signed to Virgin as a fresh-faced 20-year-old” fronting an R&B and pop band. “We recorded an album with a guy named Pete Walsh who recorded Climate of the Hunter with Scott Walker, and we made this incredible album. And Virgin put it on the shelf. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge, but I’ll never be on another major label.”
Since then, Edwards, now an occupational therapist, has been accruing the experience that comes in handy when writing songs about artful eccentrics like Cardew: he once called bingo numbers and sang covers aboard a Scandinavian cruise line and did a tour of Italian communist clubs. “We’re a band of Little Edies,” Edwards declares when I ask him for his favorite character from the brilliant Grey Gardens, the Maysles’ documentary that graced the cover of the Lovers’ 2003 EP, Cheap Songs Tell the Truth. “I probably veer between Little Edie and [handyperson] Jerry. Sometimes I’m Jerry and I mope around the garden. But I could also be Big Edie, because I do have a tendency to lie in bed covered with cats.” SFBG< MUSIC LOVERS Thurs/14, 8 p.m. Amnesia 853 Valencia, SF Call for price (415) 970-0012 Fri/15, 6 p.m. Amoeba Music 1855 Haight, SF Free (415) 831-1200

Listen in


› le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com
CHEAP EATS It’s hard to talk to yourself. You don’t have anything to say, and you’re afraid you might be boring. But the trans man in the bar said if I wanted my voice to change, I was going to have to practice into a tape recorder. He sounded effortlessly like a man saying this, because one of the lucky things about taking testosterone is that your vocal chords automatically thicken and your voice gets deep.
Estrogen, on the other hand, doesn’t do a damn thing to your vocal chords.
Ah, between me and you, I never could stand the sound of my voice anyway, which is just one reason why I’m a writer and now an instrumentalist. However, every now and again some kind stranger with either a big heart or bad eyes will ma’am me, and then when I open my mouth to speak, they become flustered or worse: apologetic. I would like to give people the option of actually believing I am female, if they want, or at least getting it: that I am trans and trying — you know, intentionally — to look like I do.
So, OK, according to experts (a guy in a bar), I have to talk into tape recorders and listen back and practice. Great — I have a tape recorder in my car. I already do this: I whistle melodies, make up songs, ideas for what to write, and so on. Only instead of playing them back, because I can’t stand the sound of my own voice, I immediately erase these cassetteloads o’ brilliantness or tear them apart or burn them.
Lately I listen, and this is bad for one’s mental health. Seriously, I think psychological damage happens every time I hear myself talking from outside of my own head. The upside is that eventually, if this keeps up, I will be completely crazy, instead of just most-of-the-way, and we all know that crazy people are very good at talking to themselves.
So then I’ll be able to do this thing and get better at it and live happily ever after except when I’m sad and miserable. I love how life twists, turns, circles, and shoots off, just like atoms and sentences.
I was in the kitchen — or the “kitchen” end of my one-room shack — categorizing onions, when the phone rang. “Save me from myself,” I muttered, pouncing on it with enough suddenness to weird Weirdo-the-Cat right out of her skin.
It was my friend Last Straw. Could I cat-sit her three cats?
“Yes!” I screamed and then hung up.
Weirdo-the-Cat was staring at me, shuddering.
“Chicken-sit the chickens,” I told her, threw my toothbrush and makeup and baseball glove in the pickup truck, and went. I had city bidness to tend to anyway, such as one last meal with the Cookie Diva before she headed home to Cackalacky.
“Where do you eat breakfast around here?” I asked Last Straw while she was showing me where all the cat food goes.
“Café Floor,” she said.
“Not the cats,” I said. “Where do people eat breakfast?”
“Café Flore,” she said.
The trouble with cookie divas and chicken farmers having breakfast together is that they can never agree on a time. Divas sleep until noon, everybody knows, and chicken farmers wake up at the crack of dawn. I tried to get her to compromise, but Café Flore isn’t even open yet at 6:30 on a Saturday morning. So she won. We didn’t meet until nine.
I’d already had breakfast once by then, and coffee, and more coffee. So I just ordered coffee, and a frittata. A great one — with chile peppers, salsa, and pecorino cheese. It came with toast and potatoes, but I couldn’t finish them because I wasn’t really hungry.
The Diva had a bowl of oatmeal and remarked that it was much better than the bowls of oatmeal one typically gets in the South. I’m sure it cost at least three times as much too, because before coffees our meal came to 14 bucks, and I think mine wasn’t more than $8, $8.50 tops. But anyway it was delicious. And you gotta love Café Flore, atmospherically, with its great sidewalk patio, wood, greenery, and windows onto the colorful Castro world out there.
We talked and talked and the Diva, being a classically trained pianist, gave me a much-needed musical pep talk.
I offered her some of my potatoes. SFBG
Sun.–Thurs., 7 a.m.–11 p.m.;
Fri.–Sat., 7 a.m.–midnight
2298 Market, SF
(415) 621-8579
Takeout available
Full bar
Wheelchair accessible

Melons and melancholia


› paulr@sfbg.com
There are those who spend the year passionately awaiting Christmas, and then there are those who spend the year passionately awaiting the arrival of charentais melons.
Although I like Christmas, I belong, in my heart, to the latter group, and I must recuse myself on the question of which is the more bathetic passion. Christmas, at least, is a sure thing; charentais melons are iffy — and this year, very iffy.
We are talking, then, about cantaloupe: not the familiar musk melons with the netted, khaki-colored rinds marketed as cantaloupe in this country but the real deal, the melons grown from European cultivars, with the same orange-yellow flesh as musk melons but with smooth, cream and green rinds etched with green longitudinal arcs. These melons are typically known by and sold under French names, charentais and cavaillon, though their European origin is thought to be not in France but Italy, in the environs of a town called Cantaluppi (“song of the wolves”) near Rome. It was here that the melons were first introduced into Europe from Armenia.
I love the romance of history, but the endless wet winter and slow spring were hard on local melons, the charentais in particular. I had been hunting for them in markets since the Fourth of July or so, but the first examples only turned up toward the end of August — along with Gravenstein apples and the season’s first peppers, those harbingers of autumn. Still, better late than never, unless late means bad. I was so glad to see the melons, and there were so few of them, that I snapped up a pair without sniffing them, only to find, when I sliced one open a day later, that fermentation had set in. The kitchen filled with the scent of Midori. Midori is lovely, of course — but not for breakfast, generally speaking. The melons went straight to the compost bin, where they joined the Tower Market flyer advertising charentais melons that could not be found, despite industrious scouting by the produce staff. The shipment didn’t come in, I was told when I asked, because the melons weren’t good enough?
A week later, hard upon Labor Day, I found another box of them. Chose one by sniffing, paid my $3 with the hopeful resignation of the Lotto player, got it home, sliced it open, success. Shot of Midori to celebrate. (Not really.)

Camp Hip


› paulr@sfbg.com
Everybody seems to love Thai food, but the oohing and aahing is generally confined to the cooking. You don’t hear much about the stunning designs of Thai restaurants. In one sense, this is just fine; good food is its own reward, and overclever interior decoration can lead to sensory overload. Still, Thai restaurants tend to be plain Janes more often than not, many fitted out with those steel-frame chairs that look like they’ve been salvaged from the mess hall of some battleship that’s being put into mothballs, or scrapped.
You will not find such chairs at Be My Guest, a Thai bistro that opened recently along inner Clement. You will find, instead, curvy white plastic numbers that look like halves of giant eggshells mounted on bird legs. Have we stumbled onto the set of an early Woody Allen movie, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, maybe, in which Woody plays spermatozoa anxiously awaiting to launch to … he knows not where? One would not say the overall bleachiness of Be My Guest’s look — white walls and curtains complete the laundry-day motif — is beautiful, exactly, but it does command attention and does strike a certain balance between camp and hip. (Camp hip, is this a permissible term?) And those who detect a slight LA edge in the playful tackiness will not be surprised to learn that there is a sibling restaurant, Gindhi Thai, in the southland.
The chairs are not particularly comfortable. They have a water-slide quality, and one has to be careful not to end up on the floor while shifting one’s legs, which must serve as braces. But that is really my only misgiving about a place that otherwise is a worthy addition to the already formidable array of restaurants along Clement between Arguello and Park Presidio. Be My Guest might not quite be a destination restaurant on its own, but it is part of, and contributes to, one of the city’s premier destination zones, those stretches of street you can meander along, studying menu cards, until you find a place that appeals and pop in, knowing you aren’t likely to be disappointed. (NB: parking is an ordeal.)
Like a number of Thai places I have visited recently, Be My Guest is rather effortlessly vegetarian friendly. To make sure, I paid a visit with a vegetarian friend, who immediately picked up the flavor of shrimp in the basket of delicious rice crisps of many colors set before us, to nibble as we pondered the menu. (With this quibble duly noted, we nibbled them together.) She went on to detect the presence of fish sauce in the delicious tofu larb ($6.95), minced (and slightly rubbery, but not in a bad way) bean curd mixed with lime juice, mint, and chiles and heaped on romaine spears useful for scooping. Since I am just a part-time vegetarian, it would never have occurred to me that fish sauce — which is as central to the Indo-Chinese cuisines as soy sauce is to the cooking of China and Japan — would raise an issue. Full-time vegetarians will want to plan accordingly.
No flag was raised over the sweet-potato fritters ($6.95), which resembled dragonflies cast in bronze and would have been even better if there’d been some kind of sauce to dip them in. (The fritters were presented with cucumber two ways: as slices linked together in paper-doll fashion, and diced into a vinegary little salad with carrot threads.) And we knew beforehand that the panang curry ($9.95), fettucinelike strips of boneless chicken awash in a well-tempered red sauce, would present no vegetarian issue, since no vegetarian would go near it despite its rich deliciousness. (Panang curry is a coconut-milk curry enhanced with ground peanuts — a Malaysian touch.) On the other hand, the veg curry corner ($9.95) — a crock of soupy, basil-scented green curry laden with broccoli florets, chunked eggplant, snow peas, and green beans — passed vegetarian scrutiny like a traveler, divested of shoes, watch, belt buckle, loose change, and toothpaste, sailing through a security checkpoint at the airport.
Given the egg-shaped chairs, it follows that we would find an omelet ($6.95) on the noontime menu — a vegetarian omelet no less, filled with mixed greens, spinach, asparagus, mushrooms, and tofu and given a definite Southeast Asian perfume by ginger and lemongrass. But the wider possibilities of lunchtime are grouped under the rubric “Afternoon Delight,” which provides (for $7.25) a choice of starter and of main course, along with soup, salad, rice, and seasonal fruit. One day’s soup, of celery and tofu in a pale vegetable broth, we found to be no better than serviceable, the salad was a wallflower heap of mixed greens, and the fruit consisted of some grapes and orange wedges. But the fish cake, though texturally a bit of a rubber sponge, was intensely tasty (and a pretty caramel color), while a red vegetable curry was rich and just spicy enough to conceal the plebeian character of its carrot-and-potato ballast.
Thai bistro. I choke slightly on this expression while accepting that, at least in its American sense, it does apply to Be My Guest. The place captures just the right balance of hominess and style: its hours are liberal and its prices moderate, and it draws (especially on weekend evenings) a diverse crowd, tilting toward youth and bubbling with energy. And that’s everything you always wanted to know. SFBG
Dinner: daily, 4–10:30 p.m.
Lunch: daily, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
951 Clement, SF
(415) 386-1942
Full bar
Moderately noisy
Wheelchair accessible

Death by satire


› annalee@techsploitation.com
TECHSPLOITATION In honor of George W. Bush’s efforts to stop torture by setting up secret CIA prisons and promote freedom by expanding government surveillance powers, I think we should spend a few days contemputf8g another great thing this administration has done for the world: it has reinvigorated political satire.
What was The Daily Show before the USA PATRIOT Act? And where would international pranksters the Yes Men be today without this administration’s asshattish policies?
Thanks to the Internet, satire can be instant and lethal. Certainly it’s not always pretty, but it’s more effective as social criticism than it was in an era before jesters could respond within hours to current events and broadcast their pranks globally.
I’m still a big fan of the widely condemned fake execution video made by three San Francisco multimedia geeks in 2004. Benjamin Vanderford, who plays experimental music in several bands, decided to make the video in response to the media hysteria around the Nick Berg execution video. He’s said that the video wasn’t a partisan protest of the war itself, but instead a wake-up call to the media, which he criticized on his Web site (videohoax.ctyme.com) for doing “no fact-finding” and being so “centralized” that they’ll reprint anything from Reuters or the Associated Press without verifying it.
With the help of Laurie Kirchner and Robert Martin, Vanderford filmed himself tied up in a dingy room as if he’d been kidnapped in Iraq. He stated his real name and address and urged the United States to get out of Iraq. Islamic chants played in the background, and every few seconds a picture of a grisly execution appeared. “We need to leave this country alone or all of us will die like this,” Vanderford said before the video cut to a grainy image of somebody sawing his head off with a butcher knife.
He and his buddies made the video available on their hard drives to anyone using the P2P networks Kazaa and Soulseek. Because the Berg execution video was all over the news, thousands of people were scouring P2P networks for anything with the word “execution” in the title. The video soon turned up on an Islamic Web site, which is how the US media got wind of it. AP and several papers published stories about the video without ever bothering to look up Vanderford, verify his existence, or check the address he used in the video (which was his real home address).
Sure, the message was ugly and the video is actually quite disturbing to watch. But it was the very best kind of social satire — it proved Vanderford’s point that the media were so eager to lap up any news that could feed the terrorism frenzy that they weren’t bothering to do even the most rudimentary fact-checking. Of course, the news outlets whose shoddy practices had been unmasked by this prank were quick to condemn Vanderford and cover their asses. Fox ran a bogus segment featuring a “legal adviser” who said Vanderford had broken the law (he hadn’t), and AP deputy editor Tom Kent claimed that his organization did eventually check the veracity of the tape by “banging” on Vanderford’s door at 4 a.m. and filming him in his underwear answering questions about the hoax (you can see clips of this seminaked interview online).
Possibly the stupidest responses to the hoax came from people who claimed that it hurt people and therefore Vanderford and pals should be punished. Stanford professor of communications Ted Glasser told the San Jose Mercury News that releasing the video was “like bombing a building to see if security measures are in place.” Despite the foolishness of this comment, it reveals how strongly people are affected by well-aimed satire.
I’d rather watch a dozen fake execution videos if it would make the media more careful about buying into government and corporate propaganda. I live for the day when satire is like bombing a building — because nobody actually bombs anyone anymore.
See, that’s the beauty of satire — it hurts, but only in your conscience. SFBG
Annalee Newitz is a surly media nerd who can’t wait to watch videos of the Yes Men masquerading as HUD officials in New Orleans.

Larry Bain’s top five ways to put your money where your mouth is


Know the person behind your potato, the woman behind your wasabi. Know who grew what. That’s better than all the certification in the world. If everybody just knew one farmer, that would be a huge difference.
The greatest thing that anybody can do is make a commitment to cook one meal at home with their family per week, and if they can, use whole food in preparing that.
Shop in your local store and say to the employees, “If you stock this item, I can hook you up — I’ll buy it and I’ll tell my friends about it.”
Subscribe to a “box” — a regular food delivery package of fruit or vegetables or free-range meat — from a Community Supported Agriculture farm.
In the food chain there are so many issues that touch you. Maybe it’s animal welfare, maybe it’s water, maybe it’s soil preservation, maybe it’s clean air. Find out the food that’s most closely linked to your concerns and discover what would improve the thing that you care about. If it’s animal welfare, buy something that’s been processed “certified humane.” Use your money to further your commitment. SFBG

California’s secret police


EDITORIAL If a doctor does something really terrible and is suspended from the practice of medicine, the record is public: anyone — a potential future patient, for example — can check with the medical licensing board and find out what happened. Same goes for lawyers — discipline cases are not only public, but the legal papers routinely publish the details of the charges and the state bar association’s decisions. Judges? Same deal. Even the Pentagon, which is not known for its interest in sunshine, makes public the charges against soldiers accused of vioutf8g the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
That’s the way it should be: people who have tremendous power over the lives of others ought to be held accountable to the public.
But last week, the California Supreme Court issued one of the most disturbing decisions in years, ruling 6–1 that police disciplinary records must be for the most part secret.
The impact is so far-reaching it’s hard to fathom. As G.W. Schulz reports on page 15, it’s entirely possible that under this new standard, key details in some of the most important police-abuse cases of the past decade — from the so-called riders in Oakland to the Ramparts scandal in Los Angeles and Fajitagate in San Francisco — would have been kept under wraps. Under the broadest possible interpretation, the public will never know the names of the cops who break the law under color of authority, the bad actors who beat people up, harass (and sometimes assault) women, steal, lie, forge reports, frame suspects, fire their weapons without case, and — all too often — kill people without cause.
State law already gives cops, deputy sheriffs, and prison guards rights that go far beyond what any other public employees enjoy but has never been interpreted to bar the public entirely from disciplinary cases.
But in 2003, the San Diego County Civil Service Commission closed a hearing on the appeal of the disciplinary case of a sheriff’s deputy, and the San Diego Union-Tribune went to court to get access to the records. The resulting case went all the way to the state’s high court and ended with one of the worst rulings for the press and public interest in this state in half a century or more. Tom Newton, general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association, told the Los Angeles Times that in the wake of the ruling “we have pretty much of a secret police force in this state.”
The state legislature needs to take this on immediately. Mark Leno, the San Francisco Democrat who chairs the Assembly Public Safety Committee (and who worked diligently and effectively to improve the Public Records Act this past session), would be a perfect person to work with sunshine advocates to draft a bill that would make the secrecy ruling moot.
In the meantime, it’s still not clear exactly how far local government will have to go to protect the rights of peace officers to abuse their public trust without any public oversight. Sunshine advocates say that San Francisco, which has always held open hearings on major police discipline cases, may not have to immediately halt the practice. The Police Commission, which is scheduled to hold a hearing on the issue Sept. 17, needs to carefully weigh the arguments of activists and media representatives before making any new policy — and must write any new rules to side as much as possible with openness. For starters, all hearings should be presumed public unless an accused officer objects — and a full hearing on that objection should precede any closure.
There’s another step city leaders can take: every year or two, the cops come along with a request for legislation that would even further sweeten their union contracts. If the San Francisco Police Officers Association is going to demand secrecy in every single disciplinary hearing, that should be the end to all progressive support for more pay, more benefits, and more goodies for an armed force that refuses to accept even basic public oversight. SFBG

Five years after


EDITORIAL Here’s the painful but undeniable truth: five years after a pair of airplanes flew into the Twin Towers in New York, killing almost 3,000 people, the world — and the United States — is a decidedly less secure place.
Sure, would-be terrorists can’t carry box cutters (or toothpaste) onto planes anymore. It’s harder to open cockpit doors. Some flights have fully armed undercover air marshals on board. Security screeners make passengers take off their shoes.
But the nation is bogged down in a deadly, pointless war, the Middle East is a powder keg — and all over the globe, the United States is increasingly seen as an enemy.
Simon Jenkins, writing in the Guardian of London on Sept. 11, described a fanciful interview with Osama bin Laden, in which he asked the secretive al-Qaeda leader how he was doing five years after the attacks. Fine, bin Laden says: the United States could have turned the attacks into a rallying point against terrorism but did exactly the opposite.
“Bin Laden need not have worried,” Jenkins wrote. “He would agree, as did the CIA’s al-Qaida analyst in Peter Taylor’s recent documentary, that the Americans have done his job for him. They panicked. They drove the Taliban back into the mountains, restoring the latter’s credibility in the Arab street and turning al-Qaida into heroes. They persecuted Muslims across America. They occupied Iraq and declared Iran a sworn enemy. They backed an Israeli war against Lebanon’s Shias. Soon every tinpot Muslim malcontent was citing al-Qaida as his inspiration. Bin Laden’s tiny organisation, which might have been starved of funds and friends in 2001, had become a worldwide jihadist phenomenon.
“I would ask Bin Laden whether he had something special up his sleeve for the fifth anniversary. Why waste money, he would reply. The western media were obligingly re-enacting the destruction and the screaming, turning the base metal of violence into the gold of terror. They would replay the tapes and rerun the footage ad nauseam, and thus remind the world of his awesome power…. As for European support for America’s world leadership, that has plummeted from 64% in 2002 to 37% this year.”
This will be the enduring historical legacy of the Bush administration: At last count, 2,996 dead or presumed dead at the World Trade Center. At last count, 2,668 US soldiers dead in Iraq. At least 41,650 civilian casualties of that war.
The goodwill of the world squandered. Endless enemies all around. And every Republican running for reelection to Congress will have to deal with that. SFBG



› tredmond@sfbg.com
I was six when they assassinated John F. Kennedy. It was warm and sunny in Dallas, but I remember the cold and snow in Rochester, NY. We were visiting my grandparents; I was walking with my mother to the grocery store when a guy driving by shouted the news out of his car window: “Did ya hear about the president? He was just shot.” We turned around and raced back to listen to the radio.
For the next few hours, the grown-ups in the big, roomy apartment were distracted, sort of shell-shocked. My grandpa, a solid Republican, never liked Kennedy the politician, and my dad didn’t particularly like Kennedy’s economic policies, but there was no joking about his death, no talk of covert government plots, no political speculation. Just sadness and respect.
The guy was the president. He fought in WWII. He came home and became part of a generation of optimism, just like my parents. Some lunatic had killed him, and that was just awful. “He was a great man,” my father told me later. “He wasn’t a great president, but he was a great man.”
It wasn’t until much, much later that I began to believe that a lot of what we’d been told about the assassination probably wasn’t true. Long before Watergate happened, Nov. 22, 1963, became a defining moment for baby boomers, the first major, world-changing event from which we developed a passionate distrust for the official government line. Today, I don’t think I know a single person my age who actually thinks Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
My son, Michael, won’t remember Sept. 11, 2001. He was barely two years old. But I’ll never forget the nervous feeling I got when I dropped him off at day care that morning. And I’ll never forget the realization that from the moment I started hearing news reports, I knew the government was lying to me.
I can’t sort out all of the Kennedy conspiracies and honestly, I don’t know exactly what happened on the day after my parents’ wedding anniversary five years ago. But I know that I will never tell my son that the president was a “great man.” When Michael asks me where I was Sept. 11, 2001, I’ll tell him it was a Tuesday morning and I was at work, writing a column for the next day’s paper that was as critical of the president of the United States as it was of the people who had just killed 3,000 Americans.
This doesn’t make me terribly comfortable.
See, I’m still a public sector kind of guy, someone who believes that for all its problems, democratically elected government is better than private corporatocracy, that for all the corruption, waste, and fraud, it’s still possible to have national health insurance, a progressive national housing policy, sound public education, and a lot of other things that probably wouldn’t have sounded all that weird to the folks who were my age in 1963.
So let me indulge in a truly strange conspiracy theory.
If I were a Bad Guy and I saw the baby boomers with all their energy and idealism and potential and I wanted to be sure that they never became a threat to the total dominance of private capital in America, I would have killed a president, covered it up, gone to war for no good reason, spied on them or their friends — and given an entire generation every reason to see that government was the enemy.
And it would have worked. SFBG

The age of 9/11


OPINION We all remember where we were on Sept. 11, 2001. The event rocked the world as the last remaining superpower was attacked in full view of its citizens. The images entered our collective consciousness, and we began a new era of global unrest. The gloves came off, diplomacy was mocked, and the United States blasted onto the world stage, weapons drawn.
Let’s not relive the events of Sept. 11. We have been reminded of that morning over and over as it has become the sole source of George W. Bush’s foreign policy. The international war on terror has taken center stage as Bush and others have used it as a pretext to undermine the pillars of democracy — the rule of law and transparent government. We now take racial profiling for granted. We watch as people are kidnapped from their countries and imprisoned indefinitely. Illegal torture is commonplace, as is the hideous killing of civilians, and now we hear accusations that our soldiers in Iraq seek revenge through rape and murder. We are forced to accept the USA PATRIOT Act and illegal National Security Agency surveillance, supposedly for our own good.
As Bush used Sept. 11 to justify a renewed campaign of imperialist aggression, he also eviscerated social programs at home. He gutted the Federal Emergency Management Agency and placed it under the control of the Department of Homeland Security, leaving us unable to respond adequately to natural disasters. He deployed our National Guard overseas and depleted our treasury to pay for war. He failed to address global warming, in deference to industry supporters. Finally, we have had to let go of the assumption that our government would protect its own people, as we ask: when did the Bush team know about Sept. 11? Will this question take as long to answer as “Who killed JFK?”
Nothing about the Bush regime is working for the average citizen, and yet all of the above have been completely normalized and barely contested by Congress, with hardly a whimper, a press conference, or a filibuster. Five years later, Bush still attempts to build his legacy on the twin towers of fear and aggression, working with the pathological paranoia that has become the hallmark of our 21st-century society.
But five years later, public opinion is reversing. Impeachment, which once seemed as far-fetched as due process for Guantánamo prisoners, has become a rallying cry for the next election. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently passed a resolution in support of Bush’s impeachment, and Sup. Chris Daly has sponsored another one, which will appear on the November ballot. They are an important response from the people to a criminal administration and an anemic Congress. If Bill Clinton can be impeached for a sexual indiscretion to the tune of $60 million in tax dollars and Bush gets off scot-free, what are we telling our children? That a blow job is worse than blowing up a country, and that illegal lying and spying play second fiddle to a marital blunder? The Christian fundamentalists who run our country would have us think so.
Vote for Chris Daly’s impeachment resolution. Yes on J! SFBG
Krissy Keefer
Krissy Keefer is the Green Party candidate for the 8th Congressional District.

Welcome to the nightmare


MEXICO CITY (Sept. 14th) – In an epiphany of how he might have to govern Mexico if, in fact, an aggrieved left opposition allows him to assume the presidency December 1st, right-winger Felipe Calderon had to be helicoptered to the bunker in the deep south of this conflictive capital, where the nation’s top electoral tribunal doing business as the TRIFE was to hand him the certificate attesting that he had, in the judges’ less-than-august opinions, won the hotly-contested July 2nd election from leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO.).

Upon emerging from the chopper, which had been accompanied by a military gunship, the stubby, balding Calderon, his eyes darting like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights, was quickly hustled into the TRIFE headquarters by the back door, a full 90 minutes before the actual ceremony was to commence, a subterfuge necessitated by the presence by thousands of AMLO’s enraged supporters, some of whom had already stripped naked.

Calderon’s witnesses – members of his campaign team and functionaries of the archly-rightist PAN party who had the misfortune to arrive by land — were greeted by clods of earth and screams of “Rateros!” (Thieves) and “Fraude!” (Fraud.) The ritual unfolded under a steady barrage of rotten eggs and tomatoes that AMLO’s people kept hurling at the TRIFE bunker, a kind of Aztec version of a U.S. missile silo, to express their unhappiness with the seven-judge panel that had neither heard nor seen any evil in the maladroit machinations of President Vicente Fox, the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), and the PAN to steal the election from their candidate.

On September 5th, just hours before the constitutional deadline for confirming the next president of Mexico, the TRIFE had finally handed down its eagerly anticipated decision. In the learned justices’ unanimous judgment, outgoing president Vicente Fox’s unconstitutional intromission in the electoral campaign on behalf of Calderon had put the validity of the July 2nd balloting “at risk.”

Moreover, months of venomous anti-AMLO hit pieces designed by U.S. carpetbagger Dick Morris that labeled Lopez Obrador a DANGER to Mexico in big red letters “unquestionably” impacted the results and were illegally financed by big business councils that included such transnationals as Wal Mart and Halliburton, a patently criminal act.

In addition, the election was riddled with “arithmetic mistakes.” The TRIFE’s own recalculation of the actual vote count, effected by its much-maligned twin the IFE, demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that Calderon had been credited with hundreds of thousands of votes that could not be substantiated by the number of ballots inside the ballot boxes. A partial recount of 9.7% of the 130,000 “casillas” (precincts) had turned up a total of 237,000 questionable votes that the TRIFE had chosen to annul, a quarter of those cast in the sample, and more than Calderon’s supposed margin which had been reduced to 233,000 out of a total 41.5 million cast.

Having duly noticed these egregious outrages, the seven judges concluded that they could not calibrate the impact of such organized criminal activity upon the final outcome and awarded the presidency to one Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa to the great delight and immediate congratulations of Mexico’s masters in Washington D.C.

Did the TRIFE go into the tank? Three of the justices are expected to be promoted to the Mexican Supreme Court when and if Felipe Calderon takes over the presidency. A fourth, Alejandro Luna Ramos, who will remain at the helm of the electoral tribunal, is a business partner of PAN topdog “El Jefe” Diego Fernandez de Cevallos – El Jefe won millions for the Ramos family from the Mexico City government before AMLO became mayor in a shady land deal involving the site of the Aztec football stadium. A Ramos sister sits on Mexico’s Supreme Court.

Lopez Obrador has suggested that the judges were willing recipients of “canonazos” (cannonades of pesos) to help them better contemplate the “validity” of the election. Porfirio Munoz Ledo, a hoary political chameleon who was Fox’s ambassador to the European Union, describes a post-electoral huddle at the home of Chief Supreme Court Justice Mariano Azuela, a Fox ally, where the Presidente warned the “TRIFitos” that should they declare the election null and avoid due to the overwhelming evidence of fraud, the Mexican economy would collapse and anarchy would reign in the streets. Although Munoz Ledo is an unsavory sort, his sources are usually impeccable.

Now that the TRIFE has legitimized the fraud, the IFE brain trust under the beady gaze of the chief architect of the July 2nd debacle, Luis Carlos Ugalde, is moving quickly to destroy the evidence. Following the modus operandi established after the stolen election of 1988 when the then-ruling PRI in connivance with the PAN ordered the ballots to be burnt by the military, the IFE has refused petitions from 16,000 suspicious subscribers to PROCESO magazine and a blue-ribbon commission of prominent members of the civil society to allow them to conduct a citizens recount of the ballots that are now, once again, under the protection of the military. Never! Ugalde and his mafia scoff. The ballots are “inviolable!” “The property of the people!”

But, on the other hand, the ballots are not “documents” open to public scrutiny as guaranteed by law, the IFE contends, and therefore are eminently “burnable” under current electoral stipulations. Ugalde’s ruling was described as “metaphysical” by National University law professor John Ackerman. According to the IFE’s hypothesis, the ballots were “documents” before they were marked by the voters but now they have been reduced to symbolic “expressions of the people’s will” and thus are candidates for the incinerator.

AMLO is sworn to preventing a repeat of the 1988 flimflam and his people are pleading with Azuela’s Supreme Court to stay the December date set for the burning – after all, an Ohio court just stepped in to save what ballots remain from Bush’s stealing of that state’s electoral votes in the smarmy 2004 presidential balloting. Not without a certain sense of déjà vu all over again, the final arbiter in this dispute may well be (who else but?) the TRIFE.

As illustrated by his armed airlift to the TRIFE silo, Felipe Calderon has a problem meeting the people he intends to govern over the next six years. In his first junket as president-elect, Fecal (as his detractors have dubbed him) took a sentimental journey to his native Morelia, the capital of the narco-ridden western state of Michoacan, where he was scheduled to lay a wreathe at the feet of that city’s namesake, Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon, a black defrocked priest who led the guerrilla war against the Spanish Crown several centuries before the 44 year-old Calderon first slithered from the darkness of his PANista mother’s womb.

Calderon’s family on all sides is a founding pillar of the PAN, an Opus Dei-like creature of Catholic bankers formed to denigrate Mexico’s beloved depression-era “Bolshevik” president Lazaro Cardenas, also a Michoacan native whose grandson, also Lazaro Cardenas, now besmirches that hallowed name as governor. Indeed, Calderon ‘s trip to Michoacan was designed to split Lopez Obrador’s three-party Coalition for the Good of All – young Cardenas is titularly a member of the PRD, AMLO’s home party, founded by his father Cuauhtemoc after he was swindled out of the presidency in 1988.

But Felipillo never made it to Morales’s feet (the good padre probably exhaled a sigh of relief). Hundreds of AMLO’s faithful tore down the barricades, tossed the usual rotten eggs and tomatoes at Calderon’s entourage, battled Cardenas’s state police and the elite Presidential military guard, and generally made the venue so unsafe that the wreath-laying had to be called off and the president-elect sped into a nearby locked-down convention center for a speech to a carefully-culled audience of “perfumados” (literally the perfumed ones.)

The draconian security measures at the convention center – sniffer dogs, metal detectors, pat-down searches – were not unwarranted. On the eve of Calderon’s confirmation, in Michoacan’s second city Uruapan, the capital of the state’s “hot lands” where drug cropping accounts for the whole economy, a ski-masked commando burst into a local dance hall, forced the patrons to lie face down on the dance floor under pain of being Swiss cheesed by the automatic weapons they were waving convincingly, and carefully removed five severed human heads from black plastic bags which they artfully arranged in the center of the “pista” (dance floor) with the accompanying message: “the family does not kill for money. It does not kill women. It does not kill innocents. Those who deserve to die, die. Justice is divine.”

This country has been visited by unspeakable acts of narco-terrorism in the months that Calderon has been blaspheming Lopez Obrador as “a DANGER to Mexico” (thanks Sasha for this observation). Such beheadings are now a regular feature of the cityscapes in Acapulco and Tijuana. Corpses are strewn in Baghdad-sized numbers each month in the rural outback of Sinaloa, Jalisco, Guerrero, Michoacan, and Chiapas. Judges are gunned down on their way to court at La Palma, Mexico’s maximum narco-lockup – published reports speak of a “psychosis of fear” spooking the nation’s judiciary. The brains of industry and the stock market are not immune from being splattered all over the street. Last week, the top official of a privatized customs agency part-owned by Fox’s financial secretary Francisco Gil, was cut down by professional hit men on a busy Mexico City street as the end-of-the-administration chickens begin to come home to roost. La Jornada, the left daily, has even gone on “suicide” watch – officials often blow their brains out or sever their veins with box cutters at such moments in the Mexican political dynamic.

The TRIFE’s confirmation of the stealing of the 2006 election has generated an avalanche of accolades for Felipe de Jesus – Bush and his crony ambassador Tony Garza were first in line to extend their congratulations all over again (they did so hours after the deeply flawed preliminary vote count came in July 2nd.) Spain’s Rodriguez Zapatero and his pals at REPSOL were right behind, looking to get in on the ground floor of the fire sale of privatization Calderon has pledged for PEMEX, the once-nationalized state petroleum enterprise. The U.S. State Department’s “democratic” answers to Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales, Alan Garcia and Oscar Arias, along with Salvador’s fawning Tony Saca chimed in. Improbably, so did Nestor Kirschner – can Fidel and Lula be far behind?

But to my ear, the most appropriate toast to Felipe Calderon ‘s confirmation as the next president of this dangerous neighbor nation was one that was not sounded (at least not yet.) In 1994, after Ernesto Zedillo had finally relieved the reviled Carlos Salinas at the wheel of state, the still missing-in-action Subcomandante Marcos scribbled salutations to the new prez that began, much as does this chronicle, “Welcome to the Nightmare.”

This past Sunday, Lopez Obrador’s weekly packed-as-usual revival meeting in the Zocalo transpired parallel to Felipe Calderon’s “victory” celebration, held appropriately enough in a bullring in an affluent district of the capital. AMLO’s numbers as always dwarfed his diminutive rival’s – the PAN reportedly padded out the crowd by requiring the compulsory attendance of Catholic school children and their parents. and the wealthy burghers in the south of the city were said to have obligated their servants to attend.

While the President-elect swore vengeance on his enemies across town, AMLO did not. As always, he let his furious flock call Fecal bad names but eschewed even mentioning his rival. Lopez Obrador had other plans. The seven week, seven mile encampment of his followers that so vex upper and middle class “capitolinos” would stay in place through Friday night, September 15th, the eve of Mexican Independence Day when AMLO intends to deliver the “Grito” of “Viva Mexico!” to the multitudes gathered in the great square, an honor reserved for the President of Mexico.

But rather than challenging the Mexican military, AMLO’s people will then dismantle their encampments and retreat from the Zocalo for 12 hours to allow the Generals and Admirals to conduct their traditional Independence Day parade. “The army belongs to the people, not the government – we have no argument with this institution,” AMLO explained seeking to mollify his militants who are reluctant to step back. “Many members of military families voted for us July 2nd. And besides the troops are so badly paid that they can’t even support their families.”

Once the military procession which always features tanks and jet fighter planes is done with – Vicente Fox will wave it on from a balcony of the National Palace and receive it at the newly refurbished (by the PRD Mexico City government) Angel of Independence – an expected million delegates to Lopez Obrador’s National Democratic Convention (CND) will retake the Zocalo and sit in session to install AMLO as the legitimate president of Mexico.

But Fox, who was prevented from delivering his State of the Union address to congress September 1st when Lopez Obrador’s senators and deputies stormed the tribune, is said to be obsessed with decrying his final Grito from the presidential balcony overlooking the Zocalo. Cornered between his hubris and personal ambition for a notch in history, and the huge angry crowd seething in the plaza below, the outgoing president could make a fatal mistake by turning the military and/or the military police on AMLO’s people to force them out of the Tiennemens-sized square that sits at the heart of Mexico’s political life, a move that indeed invokes both Tiennemens and Tlatelolco where in 1968 hundreds of striking students were massacred by the paranoid, anti-communist president Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, and a wound that has never closed here.

As Sub Marcos so eloquently waxes: “Welcome to the Nightmare.”

John Ross’s “ZAPATISTAS! Making Another World Possible – Chronicles of Resistance 2000-2006” will be published in October by Nation Books and the Blindman will set out on a tour of the left coast from border to border and beyond to flog it. But before the flogging comes the honeymoon. Sasha Crow and John Ross (they met while human shielding in Baghdad) will be traveling in Turkey and Greece for the next few weeks.