Volume 41 Number 12

December 20 – December 26, 2006

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dec. 25


Free Family Day

If you’re not feeling very merry today, there are few choices for entertaining yourself. You can head to the movies, catch up on beauty sleep, and chase it all with a turkey TV dinner. Or perhaps take in San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum, hosting Free Family Day. Activities include gallery exhibits, children’s art projects, and storytelling. Snacks will be served while musician Jonathan Bayer leads a sing-along performance. On display is The Jewish Identity Project: New American Photography. (Kellie Ell)

Noon-3:00 p.m.
Contemporary Jewish Museum
121 Steuart, SF
Free (photo ID required for adults)
(415) 344-8800


“Ghosts, Weeds, Birds, and Travelers”

What at first glance appear to be paintings nestled in flea-market frames are actually large-scale photographs by local artist Clare Droney. The exhibit explores a series of once-bustling locales in desolate decay. This concept has the potential to become a travesty, but guided by Droney’s careful eye, the interpretation of this theme is discerning, sophisticated, and endlessly ethereal. (K. Tighe)

Through Jan. 6, 2007
Mon.-Thurs., 5 p.m.-2 a.m.; Sat.-Sun., 3 p.m.-2 a.m. \
3464 19th St., SF
(415) 863-2052



Dec. 24


“Home for the Holidays”

Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? You can sing about it with the talented San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus at the “Home for the Holidays” concert at the historic Castro Theatre. This year’s festive theme is Christmas movie sing-alongs, but expect something for everyone, from every religious persuasion. There will be songs to celebrate Hanukkah and the winter solstice, musical numbers that incorporate the blues, and a gospel rendition of “Joy to the World.” (Hayley Elisabeth Kaufman)

5 p.m., 7 p.m., and 9 p.m.
Castro Theatre
429 Castro, SF
(415) 621-6120


“Chicken John’s Chaos
Christmas Carol”

For the eighth year in a row, Chicken John will put on a Christmas show in which everyone brings a “stupid gift or two,” puts it under the tree, and participates in a game show to determine which gift they get to open right there onstage. If Grandma wants to come too, she can tag along – as long as she brings the yule log. (Aaron Sankin)

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



DEC. 23


Oy Vey in a Manger

America’s favorite drag a cappella quartet, the Kinsey Sicks, present their latest deliciously barbed musical variety show, Oy Vey in a Manger. Boasting such instant classics as “God Bless Ye Femmy Lesbians” and the Christmas dinner-themed “Soylent Night,” this holiday romp shows as much restraint as the Christmas lights in a Las Vegas shopping mall, and the season is all the better for it. (Todd Lavoie)

Herbst Theatre
8 p.m.
401 Van Ness, SF
(415) 392-4400


“Golden Age of Hollywood’s Central Ave. Holiday Show”

Unless you’ve locked yourself inside until the New Year hits – can’t say I’d blame you – the unrelenting sensory overload of the holiday season is probably beating you ragged as we speak. In need of a recharge? How about a trot back to simpler days? Throw on your snappiest duds and Lindy-Hop your worries away with the swinging jazz and blues of Stompy Jones and Cari Lee and the Saddle-ites. The Chippenbelles and the Jitterdales will moisten collars with their mischievous brand of holiday cheer, and William Beatty’s boogie-woogie piano will erase all those ugly Union Square memories. Early arrivals will be treated to Hep Jen’s star-making dance lessons. (Todd Lavoie)

9 p.m. dance lesson; 9:40 p.m. show
Verdi Club
2424 Mariposa, SF
$15, vintage attire encouraged
(415) 505-8530




Baguette Quartette

Accordionist Odile Lavault leads her gang of Django Reinhardt devotees in a jaunty mix of waltzes, tangos, musettes, and all the other dance crazes of the ’20s and ’30s, and for a few hours a corner of Berkeley will be transformed into that perfect little Parisian café not found in any guidebook. (Todd Lavoie)

8 p.m. dance lesson; 9 p.m. show
1317 San Pablo, Berk.
(510) 525-5054


“Kung Pao Kosher Comedy”

There’s no denying Dec. 25 is a day of tradition for just about everybody in the West, even for Jews. Of course, our traditions involve fewer fruitcakes than the average goyish customs and more fortune cookies. Christmas day dinner at a Chinese restaurant is as traditional to the chosen people as pastrami on rye. In San Francisco those who like a little ribbing with their short ribs can head to the New Asia Restaurant for “Kung Pao Kosher Comedy.” It’s “hot and sour” heeb action; it’s antiholiday hilarity wrapped in a wonton skin. Bay Area funny girl Lisa Geduldig hosts. (Nicole Gluckstern)

Also Sat/23-Sun/24, 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.; Mon/25, 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
With Stephanie Blum, Dan Ahdoot, and Cathy Ladman
6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
New Asia Restaurant
772 Pacific, SF
$60 for dinner show, $40 for second show
(925) 275-9005



Dec. 21


Fierce Antler

Would you go see a band whose members describe their sound as “a large intestine turned inside out and left to wander sobbing and nude through the Mall of America?” Who wouldn’t want to embark upon the raucous musical voyage attributed to a devastated and embarrassingly unclothed innard, also known as San Francisco outfit Fierce Antler? (Hayley Elisabeth Kaufman)

With Dan Deacon and Alexis

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



Lore has it that each winter the ancients feared cold might overcome them like an unstoppable, crop-killing demon, but the genius of lore is the way it embraces its own contradiction – these same elders built Catherine wheels to represent the cycle of the year. So to jog us out of our protective cold-weather armor, Xambuca and Saifir annually unite to celebrate the winter solstice with experimental music and visuals. (Sara Schieron)

Luggage Store Gallery
8 p.m.
1007 Market, SF
$6-$10, sliding scale
(510) 830-9776

Making their lists


Total Shutdown, Death Sentence: Panda!, Murder Murder
(10) Bay Area representing and dominating at the End Times Fest in St. Paul, Minn., June 22–<\d>24.
(9) T.I.T.S., Throughout the Ages split double 12-inch with Leopard Leg (Upset the Rhythm) and live. Forest-witch psych never sounded so good.
(8) Fuckwolf CD on Kimosciotic and live. Dub done via destruction by way of swallowing glass and delay …
(7) Burmese, White (Planaria) and live. Every time I see them I feel like I’ve been transported to a Beijing opera in 1790 and forced to watch it while strapped to a chair at gunpoint.
(6) Devin the Dude, live at the Red Devil Lounge, Nov. 6. Songs about fucking, drinking, and smoking weed sung so beautifully, like an angel.
(5) “Black Panther Rank and File” at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, March 18–<\d>July 2, and getting snubbed by Bobby Seale when I asked him about when he did stand-up comedy.
(4) Tracy Morgan doing stand-up live at Cobb’s, March 3.
(3) Sergio Iglesias and the Latin Love Machine at Thee Parkside, Nov. 18, and the soccer circle that followed.
(2) 16 Bitch Pile-Up, Doomsday 1999, Ettrick with Weasel Walter live, March 15.
(1) (tie) Nate Denver’s Neck at the Elbo Room, Oct. 14. I laughed, I cried, and I wanted to destroy someone for the first time since sixth grade; Skip Donahue’s new wave extravo-bonanza at Casanova, April 20; Kurtis Blow at Mighty, Aug. 12; DJ Funk at the Rickshaw Stop, July 21; and ESG at Mezzanine, Oct. 27.

• Mountain Goats, Get Lonely (4AD).
• Beth Orton, Comfort of Strangers (Astralwerks). Shimmers with a modern kind of grace.
• Nic Jones, Game Set Match (Topic). My favorite wild-as-the-firth Brit-folk revivalist, live in the ’70s, resurrecting ballads and slapping the guitar like a preacher on a healing mission.
• Crooked Jades, World’s on Fire (Jade Note Music). Old-timey troubadours sing with fire, then stomp it out so that there’s nothing left to repent for.
• Various artists, Chrome Children (Stones Throw).
• Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, The Dust of Retreat (Standard Recording Co.).
• Sara Tavares, Balance (Times Square).
• Meneguar, I Was Born at Night (Magic Bullet).
• Mirah, Joyride: Remixes (K). The double album explores the songwriter’s expansive journal-like stories.
• Joanna Newsom, Ys (Drag City). Surpasses Cat Power in my book of 2006 for the year’s most sweetly sacrificial feline croon.

Tigerbeat6 band
(1) E-40, “Tell Me When To Go” (Sick Wid It/Jive). Duh.
(2) Indian Jewelry and Celebration at South by Southwest.
(3) Lil Wayne, everything but especially “Shooter,” Tha Carter Vol. 2 (Cash Money).
(4) No Doctors — just in general.
(5) Mute Era and In Corridors. The mystic protégés of the Minnesota-Japan rock ’n’ roll exchange program.
(6) Gentleman’s Techno at the Cave — especially OonceOonce DJ sets and Black William and the Gondolier live.
(7) White Williams, “Headlines,” Let’s Lazertag Sometime (Tigerbeat6).
(8) Watching Dusty Sparkles from Glass Candy and Danava do anything.
(9) Shawn Porter, a.k.a. Bloody Snowman.
(10) Erase Errata, Nightlife (Kill Rock Stars).

Levende Lounge resident DJ
(1) A lotta ancestors: from the great J-Dilla to LA DJ and community organizer DJ Dusk to SF native and NYC staple Adam Goldstone to rebel radio pioneer Michael “Mixxin” Moore to SF DJ and youth activist DJ Domino, the sky gained a lotta bring-ass stars.
(2) The Trackademics phenomenon. Comin’ straight outta Alameda High, young Trackademics took the underground dance music world by storm, using broken beat, dance punk, and new soul sounds and smashing them into a hyphy hybrid that had kids going stewey from SF to NYC.
(3) Pacific Standard Time anniversary party. When Kool Herc stepped to the DJ booth at Levende Lounge in March, time sorta stood still for a few hours. He gave Frisco a taste of the magic that sparked a global prairie fire.
(4) Bilal, Something to Hold Onto. Probably the best major-label release of 2006 that never came out. His label blamed online leaks but probably just lacked the creative vision to market such a strange product — namely, inventive modern soul music.
(5) Tiombe Lockhart, “O Bloody Day, O Starry Night on the Bowery” (Bling47). Evil genius Waajeed and the brilliant Ms. Lockhart released the first of what should be many classic joints.
(6) GQ, “Better Must Come” (Calibud). Something about an eight-year-old having a number one hit with a conscious anthem just kinda makes me feel good about the future.
(7) Alice Smith, For Lovers, Dreamers and Me (BBE Music). Though the incredible Maurice Fulton remix of “Love Endeavor” isn’t here, this album reflected a new direction for urban music.
(8) The hyphy movement. Kinda obvious, but its impact is hard to overstate. Bay Area club music took the world by storm in 2006, leading taste-making rags and bloggers from here to Denmark scouring the Web for the latest Bay Area slang, style, and sounds.
(9) Journey into Paradise: The Larry Levan Story (Rhino). After a couple attempts, 2006 saw a definitive two-disc collection of some of the songs that trademarked perhaps the most influential DJ of all time, besides Herc.
(10) TV on the Radio, Return to Cookie Mountain (Interscope). I prefer the leaked version because “Wolf Like Me” is the shit, but it’s still pretty damn good for a major-label debut, nyuk, nyuk.

(1) Punk section at Amoeba, SF and Berkeley. I know I work there, and this comes dangerously close to an advertisement, but isn’t it about time?
(2) Domino Records’ Sound of Young Scotland series. Lovely reissues of Orange Juice, Fire Engines, and my current fave, Josef K. Courtesy of Franz Ferdinand’s severance check.
(3) Boy, I sure picked a bad year to swear off box sets: This Heat’s Out of Cold Storage (ReR) finally makes available all the in- and out-of-print recordings.
(4) Boy, I sure picked a bad year to swear off metal: Boris, Pink and live, and collaborating with Sunn O))) on Altar (both Southern Lord).
(5) The Bay Area represents: running into fellow local bands such as the Fucking Ocean in NYC and T.I.T.S. in Leeds, England, while on a too-long tour was the salve for the weary, homesick, itinerant musician. And by the way, the Fucking Ocean’s new CD, Le Main Rouge, harks back to the heady times at the turn of the century when it seemed like every day a new band that didn’t suck crawled out of a new crack in the sidewalk.
(6) It would be irresponsible of me to not mention the midterm elections.
(7) Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man was the best music-related film of the year. And it gave me more reasons to hate U2.
(8) Coming to a curbside near you: the Bay Area’s best new venue, John Benson’s decommissioned AC Transit bus converted into a biodiesel RV and mobile venue.
(9) Billy Childish’s unplugged show, Mama Buzz Café, May.
(10) And one thing that sucked this year: Lance Hill quit booking and working the Stork Club. The man who brought you the club’s happy hour and free admission during the Oakland Art Murmur — and who let Battleship record an album at his venue — has left the building. May the East Bay rise to the occasion and continue nurturing good local music.

(1) Mariee Sioux, A Bundled Bundle Of Bundles (self-released). So. Ridiculously. Good.
(2) Death Vessel, Stay Close (North East Indie). I’ve listened to this five billion times since I got it in October.
(3) Laura Gibson, If You Come to Greet Me (Hush).
(4) CMJ Music Marathon, accompanying Alela Diane and Tom Brosseau on banjo. When Brosseau breaks into the highest part of his range, it makes me almost believe in ghosts.
(5) El Capitan live at the Rite Spot, Oct 15. They did a medley covering and reworking other Bay Area artists’ music — one of the most creative and heartfelt things I heard all year.
(6) Last of the Blacksmiths, “And Then Some”/”You Think I’m. O.K.” 7-inch.
(7) Deerhoof, McCarren Park Pool, Brooklyn, NY.
(8) Standing onstage at Carnegie Hall. OK, I was only delivering a bass amp for Smokey Robinson. But it gave me chills!
(9) Jolie Holland’s “Mexican Blue.” Maybe my favorite song of 2006.
(10) Jeffrey Luck Lucas, Bottom of the Hill, Feb. 8.

• T.I.T.S. and Leopard Leg, Throughout the Ages/Leopard Leg split double 12-inch (Upset the Rhythm)
• Mon Cousin Belge, the Knockout, a couple weeks ago
• Bootleg of Black Sabbath Live in Paris 20 Dec. 1970
• Trin Tran (a.k.a. Trinng Tranng)
• Erase Errata, Nightlife (Kill Rock Stars)
Weasel Walter performing with Sergio Iglesias, Thee Parkside, Nov. 18
• Gay Beast, El Rio, Dec. 7
• Fuckwolf, anywhere, anytime
• K.I.T. dressed as mummies (or the Mummies)
• Halloween at 3rd Ward in Brooklyn
• Seeing The Sweet Smell of Success with Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster on PBS twice (I don’t have cable). Totally awesome creepy nastiness.

422 Records and MP3.com; Top 10 Hip-Hop
• Mekalek, Live and Learn (Glow-in-the-Dark). Time Machine’s DJ-producer connects with various rappers for a supremely banging compilation-style album. Rhode Island, stand up!
• Motion Man, Pablito’s Way (Threshold). Bay Area superlyricist knocks it out of the park on his second solo effort, produced by KutMasta Kurt, featuring Too $hort, Mistah FAB, and Q*bert.
• Snoop Dogg, Tha Blue Carpet Treatment (Geffen). Though a bit bloated, Snoop’s eighth album is still great, featuring bass-heavy beats and collabos with Nate Dogg, Dre, Cube, E-40, and others.
• Melina Jones, Swearing Off Busters (sampler). An immensely talented MC-vocalist from the SFC, Jones is the future. Check her out on MySpace and cop the album in early ’07.
• Dudley Perkins, Expressions (Stones Throw). Charmingly blunted soul-funk meanderings from underground icon Madlib and the artist formerly known as Declaime.
•<\!s><\i>Ghostface, Fishscale (Def Jam). The Wu’s most consistent swordsman continues to impress, with help from Dilla, Doom, and Pete Rock.
• Rakim, Slims, Sept. 10. The R may be pushing 40, but he still knows how to move the crowd, running through timeless jams with Kid Capri backing him up.
• A Tribe Called Quest, Berkeley Community Theatre, Sept. 9. Rhymefest and the Procussions were cool too, but the reunited Tribe killed it.
• Ice Cube, Fillmore, April 25. Despite cred-killing family films and uneven recent material, Cube ripped it live, drawing from a thick catalog of Westside classics.
• Kool Keith, Mezzanine, June 17. At his first local appearance in years, notorious rap weirdo Kool Keith did an amazing set with lots of Ultramag and Octagon material, plus a random topless chick.

Hey Willpower
(10) Amy Winehouse, “Rehab” (Universal/Island).
(9) Cassie, “Me and U” (Bad Boy).
(8) Brick Lane, London, on a Sunday.
(7) Hot Chip, “Over and Over” (Astralwerks).
(6) Fingered Club at Little Pedro’s in downtown LA.
(5) Final Fantasy, Bottom of the Hill, Aug. 11.
(4) Planning to Rock at Club Motherfucker, Bardens Boudoir, London, Dec. 9.
(3) Grizzly Bear, Yellow House (Warp).
(2) Lena Wolff, Needles and Pens, March 11–<\d>April 9.
(1) Field Mob with Ciara, “So What” (Universal).

• Brett Dennen, So Much More (Dualtone). The Central Valley singer-songwriter addresses political and romantic concerns in a craggy, tear-stained tenor.
• Kelis, Kelis Was Here (Jive). Although in-your-face sexuality is the Manhattan siren’s calling card, it’s hard not to also adore the way she blurs the lines between R&B, rock, hip-hop, and pop.
• Charles Lloyd, Sangam (ECM).
• Ann Nesby, In the Spirit (Shanachie). Nesby’s glorious alto pipes often leap octaves in breathtaking bounds on this masterpiece of traditional African American gospel music.
• Joan Osborne, Pretty Little Stranger (Vanguard).
• Catherine Russell, Cat (World Village). Veteran background vocalist Russell steps to the forefront with a wonderfully eclectic set of tunes including “Back o’ Town Blues,” which her dad, Luis Russell, wrote with Louis Armstrong back in 1945.
• Candi Staton, His Hands (Honest Jons/Astralwerks).
• Irma Thomas, After the Rain (Rounder).
• Hank Williams III, Straight to Hell (Bruc). This intense honky-tonk country music is filled with visions so demented that the label’s owner, former California lieutenant governor Mike Curb, spells his own name backward.
• Mitch Woods, Big Easy Boogie (Club 88). Marin County vocalist-pianist Woods creates the hottest set of 1950s-style New Orleans R&B since, well, the ’50s.

Charalambides; Top 10 Things That Didn’t Happen in San Francisco
(1) Getting dosed at Terrastock, Providence, RI, and watching Lightning Bolt from high in the light rigging, April 23.
(2) On tour with Marcia, watching thousands of chimney swifts flocking into a smokestack during a light rainstorm in Portland, Ore., with a double rainbow to the east and a sunset to the west.
(3) Me and Natacha witnessing Comets on Fire’s chalet get destroyed at All Tomorrow’s Parties with a BBC film crew documenting the whole scene. Minehead, Devonshire, UK.
(4) Ben Chasny destroying with solo electric guitar at Arthur Nights, LA, Oct. 21.
(5) Jamming Buffy St. Marie’s “Cod’Ine” for over an hour at 4 a.m. with Matt Valentine and Erika Elder in Guilford, Vt.; also Mvee and the Bummer Road’s form-destroying set at ATP, Minehead, Devonshire, UK.
(6) Hearing the most killer noise CD-R ever in Nashville, recorded by Chris Cherry Blossoms’ Boston Terrier.
(7) Gigging with Badgerlore at the Wire festival, Chicago, and eating pizza slices the size of surfboards with Glen Donaldson, Sept. 21.
(8) Laying down thick sounds with Shawn McMillen and the Starving Weirdos in Eureka and later watching McMillen toss tennis balls to a terrier on the beach in Samoa while hearing Steve Weirdo’s roommate’s tales of Sasquatch hunting and dodging bullets in the Yuroc reservation.
(9) Ashtray Navigation’s Syd Barrett tribute at the beginning of their set, biker bar downstairs playing “Astronomy Domine” the same night in Leeds, UK.
(10) Gray-orange dust storm over the gash of the Rio Grande. Later that night, me and my girlfriend, Natacha, listen to Of’s wedding CD-R and watch dozens of shooting stars and a distant thunderstorm over the mountains, Taos, NM.
RIP Syd Barrett, Arthur Lee, and whoever else I’m forgetting.

Hallelujah, more lists!


(1) <\i>The Fall live at the Independent, May. Mark E. Smith, wife, and a band he put together the day before — classic Fall. Peerless.
(2) <\i>John Legend, Get Lifted (Sony). More ideas per song than most indie bands have in a lifetime. Stellar soul.
(3) <\i>Margaret Cho singing “Old Man’s Cock and Balls” to the tune of “Old Time Rock and Roll,” Provincetown, July
(4) <\i>D’autres nouvelles des etoiles — Serge Gainsbourg DVD. 4 hours of sin and sauce, wit and wiles.
(5) <\i>Poppy and the Jezebels, “Nazi Girls”/”Painting New York on my Shoes* (Kiss of Death/Reveal). Best young group out of UK in an age — four 14-year-old girls from Birmingham. Massive in 2007.
(6) <\i>Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, directed by Michel Gondry.
(7.) <\i>Drive-By Truckers at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. The American Smiths with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s shirts and guitars.
(8) <\i>Joanna Newsom, Ys (Drag City). So far ahead of the “new folk” pack it’s not true. A goldrush-town Kate Bush.
(9) <\i>One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost and Found (Rhino)
(10) <\i>Borts Minorts opening for us at Amnesia.
Music Lovers play Slim’s Dec. 23.

(1) <\i>Detroit producer-musician-good fellow Matthew Smith’s Outrageous Cherry released their umpteenth album Stay Happy (Rainbow Quartz), and it’s a fab collection of big beat Jesus and Mary Chain meets the Chills type of pet sounds.
(2) <\i>I got to play a show with Dan Sartain in Amsterdam this fall. He describes himself to the common man as Chris Isaak on acid — or was that quaaludes ? No weepy romantic, the 24-year-old hails from Birmingham, Ala., and does surf-rockabilly besame-mucho murder ballads really well. He’s a real character, too. After staying up all night he was spotted eating falafel wearing his hotel towels for socks. His new album, Join … Dan Sartain, is on Bjork’s One Little Indian label.
(3) <\i>The Muldoons are a family band composed of Hunter and Shane, about age 9 and 12, respectively, and their dad, drummer Brian, who play high energy Stoogey rock. Their first single was recorded by Jack White, no less. There were a lot of kids playing rock songs this year, but these guys are future and now, for real. Listen to their live session on www.wfmu.org for proof.
(4) <\i>As 2006 comes to a close, it is getting closer to April 2007, when Sonny Smith’s new album will finally appear. After some rewrites and a touch of hemming and hawing, my favorite SF Pro Tools hobo will release Fruitvale on a new label run by local vocalist Chuck Prophet.
(5) <\i>The Oh Sees recorded a fine new album, Sucks Blood, and that too will be coming along early next year, but since I heard it this year I can safely say it was one of the sonic highlights of the recent past.
(6) <\i>Vetiver, To Find Me Gone (Dicristina Stair). A great collection of ’70s AM radio pop magic and smart lyrical turns.
(7) <\i>Black Fiction were a force of rumbling floor toms, Casio blips, and cool tunes. The most interesting SF band playing in 4/4 time.
(8) <\i>Australia’s Eddy Current Suppression Ring channeled AC/DC, the Buzzcocks, and early Joy Division/Warsaw on their fantastic “Get Up Morning” single.
(9) <\i>How could Arthur Lee and Syd Barrett pass away within a couple weeks of each other? Similar souls departed.
(10) <\i>Sub Pop goes green and offsets their offices’ electricity usage with clean windpower churned up in the Pacific Northwest. I hope more corporate structures within and outside of the music world will take note and do a simple thing that helps a lot.

(1) <\i>Marisa Monte, Palace of Fine Arts, Nov. 5
(2) <\i>Deerhoof, Great American Music Hall, Sept. 5
(3) <\i>Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu, solo at Prison Literature Project benefit, AK Press Warehouse, April 11
(4) <\i>Ornette Coleman, Sound Grammar (Sound Grammar)
(5) <\i>Marisa Monte, Universo au Meu Redor (Blue Note)
(6) <\i>Marisa Monte, Infinito Particular (Blue Note)
(7) <\i>Caetano Veloso, Ce (Umvd)
(8) <\i>Ches Smith, Congs for Brums (Free Porcupine Society)
(9) <\i>Mary Halvorson and Jessica Pavone duo
(10) <\i>Iron Maiden, A Matter of Life and Death (Sanctuary)

(1) <\i>The Who, Endless Wire (Republic)
(2) <\i>Jose Gonzalez, Veneer (Mute)
(3) <\i>Thom Yorke, The Eraser (XL)
(4) <\i>Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat (Team Love)
(5) <\i>Cat Power, The Greatest (Matador)
(6) <\i>Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid, The Exchange Session, Volume 1 (Domino)
(7) <\i>Cursive, Happy Hollow (Saddle Creek)
(8) <\i>Long Winters, Putting the Days to Bed (Barsuk)
(9) <\i>Boards of Canada, Trans Canada Highway (Warp)
(10) <\i>Beirut, The Gulag Orkestar (Ba Da Bing)

•<\!s><\i>Colossal Yes, Acapulco Roughs (Ba Da Bing)
•<\!s><\i>Voxtrot’s cover of Comet Gain’s “You Can Hide Your Love Forever” from the band’s Web site
•<\!s><\i>Still Flyin’, Time Wrinkle (Antenna Farm)
•<\!s><\i>Peter Bjorn and John, Young Folks (Wichita)
•<\!s><\i>Primal Scream, Riot City Blues (Sony)
•<\!s><\i>Trainwreck Riders, Lonely Road Revival (Alive)
•<\!s><\i>The Tyde, Three’s Co. (Rough Trade)
•<\!s><\i>French Kicks, Two Thousand (Vagrant)
•<\!s><\i>Chow Nasty live
•<\!s><\i>Love Is All, Nine Times That Same Song (What’s Your Rupture)

•<\!s><\i>Matt And Kim, Cafe Du Nord, Aug. 19. They have been described as the “happy Japanther.” It’s true that both bands are duos and use minimal drums for their sing-along anthems. But Matt throws his hands in the air while he plays.
•<\!s><\i>My own birthday party, 21 Grand, July 15. Performances by Quintron and Miss Pussycat, Mirror Dash, Harry Marry, Dinky Bits, Always, Sharon Cheslow and Elise from Magic Markers. I felt like I had my own MTV Sweet Sixteen episode.
•<\!s><\i>Sonic Youth, Bill Graham Civic Center. Not only was I tripped beyond because they even played “Mote,” but I also got to drone on it! Thurston looked over when their never- ending outro started, smiled, and threw his guitar to me. They even gave me all of their leftover catering.
•<\!s><\i>7 Year Rabbit Cycle, Ache Horns (Free Porcupine). This is one of the best records that I have ever heard. It’s a shame that they never get to play live because it is one of the most powerful things that you will ever see.
•<\!s><\i>Xiu Xiu, The Air Force (5 Rue Christine). Does anyone else think the cover looks like Jamie Stewart as Jesus Christ?
•<\!s><\i>Macromantix at 12 Galaxies, November
This MC came straight from the Oz and killed the small crowd.
•<\!s><\i>Deerhoof live. Their free, download-only EP of covers and live tracks made it to the top of my iTunes for 2006. But seeing them go completely nuts under a public microscope has been so rad. Next time you see them look for the John Dieterich strut during “Flower.”
•<\!s><\i>Matmos, The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of the Beast (Matador). One of the best electronic -based records to come out in years.
•<\!s><\i>High Places. It’s like the Beach Boys on more drugs. But High Places don’t do drugs. Mindfuck, right?
•<\!s><\i>Quintron and Miss Pussycat at 12 Galaxies, July 14
•<\!s><\i>Barr, “The Song Is the Single” 7-inch (PPM).
Brendan Fowler plows through an enormous amount of subjects like touring, loneliness, breaking up, pop music, and his song sucking — in a mere four minutes! The crowd left with their jaws on the floor when he premiered this at the Hemlock in July.
•<\!s><\i>Peaches live and Impeach My Bush (XL)
Peaches’ live show is on fire. She is now backed by JD (Le Tigre), Sam Mahoney (Hole) and Radio Sloan (The Need), who make up the Herms, the best backing band in rock history.

•<\!s><\i>Edith Frost. A Chicago transplant to the Bay Area — her solo opening set for Bert Jansch was casual, personal, and real. Great American Music Hall, Oct. 25.
•<\!s><\i>Jesse Hawthorne Ficks. The guy that puts all the midnight triple-bills together at the Castro. He’ll make you realize that seeing Who Made Who when you were 12 is more important than seeing Citizen Kane in college or Cassavetes in film school.
•<\!s><\i>Alice Shaw. Few artists turn the camera on themselves so consistently and keep it lighthearted and meaningful at the same time.
•<\!s><\i>Omer. The guy that plays on Valencia. Year after year he remains this city’s most dedicated, unique, sincere, bizarre, angry, chipper, crazy, and prolific performer. If you’re intertwined with music so much that you play in the rain on the street every night then you’re operating on a whole other level.
•<\!s><\i>Bert Jansch. One nice thing about the neo-folk trend is that he’s out touring and making records. At the Music Hall, he dressed like a regular old, unassuming guy and launched immediately into a song about a friend murdered by Pinochet. True folk music.
•<\!s><\i>24th Street Mini Park. The most beautiful, selfless, and innocent piece of art this city has created that I know of.
•<\!s><\i>Packard Jennings. He exposes greed, reveals hypocrisy, uncovers lies. A rebellious social commentator, this artist is totally anti-authoritarian, so we like him.
•<\!s><\i>AM Radio. Neverending home of complete insanity. Fascists, paranoid conspiracy theorists, hate mongers, xenophobes, racists, psych-babble freaks, radical religious zealots, and right-wing patriot sociopaths. Truly the theater of the absurd.
•<\!s><\i> Dark Hand Lamp Light. One of the first times I’ve seen music and visual art melting so perfectly together to tell good old-fashioned stories.
•<\!s><\i>Sister Madalene. There is no problem she cannot solve. One visit will convince you and lift you out of sorrow and darkness.

(1) <\i>Jeff Ray (founder/producer): Best show — The Knife at the Mezzanine. Best record — Dwayne Sodahberk, Cut Open (Tigerbeat 6).
(2) <\i>Jon Fellman (co-producer): Best show — Slits, T.I.T.S., and Tussle at Uptown. Best CD — Kelley Stoltz, Below the Branches (Sub Pop).
(3) <\i>Lianne Mueller (graphic designer): Best show — Beirut at Great American Music Hall. Best CD — Lambchop, Damaged (Merge).
(4) <\i>Moira Bartel (sponsorship): Best show — Cat Power at the Palace of Fine Arts.
(5) <\i>Ashley Sarver (programmer): Favorite show — Sprite Macon at Amnesia. Favorite album — Joanna Newsom, Ys (Drag City).
(6) <\i>Molly Merson (sponsorship): Best show — Alejandro Escovedo and Jeffrey Luck Lucas at 12 Galaxies. Favorite album — Bob Frank and John Murry, World Without End (Bowstring).
(7) <\i>Brianna Toth (publicity, programmer): Favorite show — Dead Science with Casiotone for the Painfully Alone and Sholi. Favorite album — Paris Hilton, Paris (WEA).
(8) <\i>Katie Vida (arts curator): Best show — Anselm Kiefer at SFMOMA. Best album: Beirut, Gulag Orkestar (Ba Da Bing). Best man: Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006), Poet Laureate of the United States in 2000.
(9) <\i>Neil Martinson (programmer): Show — Os Mutantes at the Fillmore. Record — Winter Flowers, Winter Flowers (Attack Nine). Musical trend — Master Moth.
(10) <\i>Favorite Mission Creek show of 2006 — Silver Sunshine, Citay, Willow Willow, and Persephone’s Bees at Rickshaw Stop, May 20.
The Mission Creek Music and Arts Festival will be happening from May 10–<\d>20; go to www.mcmf.org for more information.

Peace and Happy New Year from the Guardian


About our cover artist

New Mexico native Sam Flores landed in San Francisco in 1995. He immersed himself in the city’s street culture of skateboarding and graffiti, working alongside well-known artists such as Mike Giant, Andy Howell, and Bigfoot and developing his unmistakable style. Flores’s vision is an amalgamation of classic fine art, anime, art nouveau, and the colorful, imaginative illustration of children’s books. Often enveloped in lush Asian-inspired landscapes, Flores’s signature female Fatima figures are draped in flowing gowns with oversize welcoming hands gracefully placed upon their lap.

Flores has a solo show titled “Water under the Bridge” at White Walls Gallery (through Jan. 13, 2007; 837 Larkin, SF; www.whitewallssf.com). He just released his book Samuel Flores, which is available at Upper Playground (220 Fillmore, SF; www.upperplayground.com).<\!s>SFBG



dec. 20



San Francisco’s Flipper were oddballs even in the early ’80s punk scene. Their caustic and dirgelike sound broke any mold that may have been set by previous bands, and they challenged listeners with an all-out aural assault. That independent spirit won the group a rabidly devoted fan base. Kurt Cobain was often seen wearing a handmade Flipper shirt, and in a fitting twist, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic will be joining original Flipper members Bruce Loose, Stephen DePace, and Ted Falconi for this show. (Sean McCourt)

With Touch Me Hooker
7:30 p.m.
Cafe du Nord
2170 Market, SF
(415) 861-5016

Woody Allen and His New Orleans Jazz Band

No, this is not a joke. Allen is a serious and seriously talented jazz clarinet player who fronts an equally talented New Orleans-<\d>style jazz band. The odds of this show being a yuk fest are relatively low, but Match Point wasn’t exactly a comedy either, and look how well that turned out. (Aaron Sankin)

7:30 p.m.
Fox Theatre
2215 Broadway, Redwood City
(408) 961-5858

Unholy spirit


› cheryl@sfbg.com
It was dark and stormy the night I journeyed to Oakland to meet the Saviours — a perfect weather match for their music, which I’ve had on constant ear blast since picking up their Tim Green–<\d>produced debut, Crucifire (Level Plane, 2006). These guys are fucking serious. They proffer fierce, hard-driving metal so metal you could pronounce it me-tal, spreading their gospel with lyrics such as “All crosses burn into the sky, and their ashes fall to serve as hell’s floor.” Live — forget it: heads involuntarily bang when the Saviours unleash their thunder.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I knocked on the door of the Saviours’ lair (the Telegraph Avenue digs of singer-guitarist Austin Barber, guitarist Dean Tyler Morris, and drummer Scott Batiste). A giant, fiery pentagram? A life-size diorama of Slayer’s Reign in Blood album cover?
Actually, it was a pretty normal apartment, all things considered. Barber, Batiste, and Morris were chilling around a coffee table that displayed evidence of a post-Thanksgiving weekend winding to a boozy end. (Bassist Cyrus Comiskey, the only member who doesn’t live there and who also plays with Drunk Horse, was stuck at work.) We settled in to chat about the band and expand on the latest update posted on their Web site, www.killforsaviours.com: “We’re writing new songs and partying.”
The members all have pre-Saviours history: Barber and Batiste played in screamo outfit Yaphet Kotto, while Batiste and Morris have known each other since junior high.
“Me and Scott had the idea to start the band a couple of years ago. We got together, started jamming, and we were on tour a month later,” said Barber, who at 24 is the youngest Saviour and the only one who isn’t from Santa Cruz. (He hails from Fort Smith, Ark.) “We just wanted to start a killer heavy band. Now we’re trying to chill out and write a new record — and not play very many shows until spring.”
Their music may visit dark places, but the guys share an easygoing chemistry that extends to their songwriting technique.
“Pretty much everything starts with something that Scott writes, and then everybody adds to it until we decide it’s done,” Morris said. “A lot of times he’ll do stuff musically that I would never do, so of course it makes me think about something new and forces me to figure out a way to work myself into it. Everybody does that — Austin does that with his parts, and Cyrus does that with all his bass parts, and Scott does that with the drums too. It’s very collaborative.”
Batiste added, “This band’s pretty amicable. Like, at the end of 42 days of tour, we were all hanging out and drinking and not sick of each other.”
The Saviours have also found support in the Bay Area metal scene, where peers include High on Fire and Green’s band, the Fucking Champs. Of course, they’re also fans of the genre gods: Slayer, Black Sabbath, and Metallica. The anti-Christian imagery that appears in their lyrics and album artwork is owed to Barber, who grew up surrounded by conservative types. In other words, he’s not a Satan worshipper.
Christianity, he explained, “has always been such a bummer in my life. I just always identified with the dark — partying, do whatever the fuck you want, just living your life. And they’re trying to not live life. All that shit’s representative of doing your own thing, and fuck everybody else.”
Doing their own thing is important for the Saviours, who said they’ll never hook into Ozzfest-style bullshit. They’ve just settled into a new practice space and have plans for a live album (possibly to be recorded at their upcoming Hemlock Tavern show) as well as their next studio full-length, which will be “an extension of the first album,” Barber said.
“It’s gonna sound different, though, ’cause we only have two guitar players now and we used to have three,” Morris noted. (Fifth member Mag Delana, a Yaphet Kotto vet, left the band after Crucifire was recorded.) “I think the songs are getting more intricate.”
“They’ll also stay kinda raw, though,” Batiste added. “Consciously, we try to stay simple.”
Though they joke that they only do “extreme tours,” owing to past jaunts that saw them navigating icy highways in the Midwest and sweltering in East Coast summer heat, the Saviours are eager to hit the road next year. This year they traveled across America playing songs from Crucifire and their 2005 EP, Warship (Level Plane), recorded soon after the band formed, and they’ve picked up fans everywhere.
In New Orleans, Barber recalled, “We were partying all night after the show. I’m out front eating some food, and I hear our band blasting out of some car. And it’s the sheriff — literally the sheriff of New Orleans. He’s all, ‘Fuckin’ Saviours! Aaaah!’ Just screaming at me. He was blasting our CD from the cop car. It was fucking awesome.”<\!s>SFBG
With California Love
Dec. 29, 9:30 p.m.
Hemlock Tavern
1131 Polk, SF

Step lively


› a&eletters@sfbg.com
The year in dance began as a bummer, but it’s ending on a note of hope. In January, Oakland Ballet closed its doors. This week they’re back — sort of — with former artistic director Ronn Guidi’s Nutcracker. What happened? Guidi wouldn’t face reality, that’s what. He never has. He didn’t program George Balanchine when everyone else was jumping on that bandwagon. He commissioned female choreographers when few others would. Throughout his career he swam against the stream, pursuing what he loved most, in particular almost-forgotten ballets from the ’20s and ’30s. Guidi’s successor, Karen Brown, valiantly tried to take the company — already in deep disarray when she started her tenure — in a new direction. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. Now there is at least a glimmer of hope that Oakland Ballet will resurrect itself.
On a broader level, the year has been great for Asian dance — even if the label no longer fits (if it ever did). Remarkably diverse first-rate artists have emerged from that huge continent for some time, but this year has been a particularly rich one for them. The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble brought slightly updated, spectacularly expressive Odissi dance from eastern India. Japanese-born Eiko and Koma worked with exquisitely trained young artists from Cambodia. Sankai Juku may be based in Paris these days, but the company’s lush version of Butoh is both its own and distinctly Japanese. From Taiwan, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre’s physicalization of calligraphy was an extraordinary example of how dance can shape time and space. The Bayanihan Philippine National Dance Company’s lovely celebration of the richness of its country’s culture even acknowledged its colonizer, Spain. Locally, Gamelan Sekar Jaya continued its collaboration with Balinese artists in a simple new work dance intended as a response to the 2002 bombings of that island’s night clubs. If these artists have anything in common, it is that their work’s visual appeal sometimes supersedes choreographic values.
The following “12 of 2006” are not to be construed as the best but simply as events and artists for whose work I am particularly grateful. They are listed alphabetically.
1. At its local premiere, Paul Taylor’s antiwar Banquet of Vultures seemed over the top. I have since changed my mind. Taylor has made many dark pieces; I now think Banquet can stand with the best of them. The trajectory of this trip into hell, set to an unlikely Morton Feldman score, was masterfully realized. When Taylor is good, he still is tops.
2. Counter Phrases was a lush, breathtaking dance film from Belgium, presented as part of San Francisco Performances’ Dance/Screen series. Created by Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker and Thierry de Mey, it featured commissioned scores (created after the visuals) and used the medium with great skill and extraordinary imagination.
3. Doug Varone and Dancers made a rare appearance in the Bay Area, courtesy of San Francisco Performances. Varone shapes generous and humane impulses into highly athletic and musically astute choreography that brings out his dancers’ individuality. He is a much underrated artist.
4. Brazilian Paco Gomes, an experienced choreographer but a relative newcomer to the Bay Area, presented meticulously detailed, smartly timed minidramas that were fun to watch and told us something about ourselves. Gomes is also uncommonly skilled at integrating modern elements into an Afro-Brazilian dance vocabulary for evocations of Candomblé rituals. His dancers — eight women and one man — can do it all.
5. Liss Fain has been making unspectacular but carefully structured, ballet-inspired modern dance for many years. She chooses excellent but demanding music and works with good designers and fine dancers. This year she moved her season to Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. That’s where she belongs.
6. Hell’s Kitchen Dance featured a group of talented, barely post-college-age dancers from New York who work out of Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Art Center. Traveling with the still great dancer, they presented works by Benjamin Millepied and the promising Canadian Azure Barton. Barton’s skippy goofiness, as cleanly realized as if it had been planned on graph paper, was a major discovery.
7. Margaret Jenkins has been thinking about and making dance for many years. For A Slipping Glimpse, she and her dancers traveled to India to work with the modern dance Tanusree Shankar Dance Company. The collaboration resulted in a beautifully planned, exquisitely realized meditation — one of Jenkins’s best.
8. If I had to choose my favorite event of 2006, it would have to be “Kathak at the Crossroads,” the conference Pandit Chitresh Das organized to consider Kathak’s future in light of its past. Each of the 21 solo dancers who performed during those three days put new twists on a noble art.
9. Lyon Opera Ballet’s triple bill at Cal Performances featured neither toe shoes nor tutus. Instead it brought an inspiring triple bill by musically literate, kinetically gifted female choreographers who could not be more different from each other: Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Sasha Waltz, and Maguy Marin.
10. San Francisco Ballet: what can I say? It’s a great company. Helgi Tomasson’s wide-ranging repertoire allows dancers from around the globe to be who they are and yet work with a common purpose. Of the two local premieres, William Forsythe’s Artifact Suite challenged the massive corps like nothing has before; Jerome Robbins’s Afternoon of a Faun showed what magic two self-absorbed dancers can create.
11. In an area that produces dance festivals quite regularly, the San Francisco Hip Hop DanceFest has a future. To be able to watch hip-hop artists — who hail from all over these days — take what used to be a street form and reshape it into increasingly sophisticated theatrical dance is just a delight.
12. At both the WestWave Dance Festival and in her own concert, Erin Mei-Ling Stuart proved how much she has grown as a choreographer. With imagination and a flair for humor, she takes a skeptical look at the world and turns her perceptions into deftly choreographed characters and narratives.<\!s>SFBG

The territory of The Forest War


Three years ago playwright-director Mark Jackson and the Shotgun Players teamed up to present The Death of Meyerhold, Jackson’s devilishly imaginative and ambitious distillation of the revolutionary life, work, and world of Russian theater innovator Vsevolod Meyerhold. A remarkable success, Meyerhold was easily among the top three world premieres of the season and flagged Jackson, artistic director of Art Street Theatre (1995–<\d>2004), as an up-and-coming innovator in his own right.
Since then, Art Street Theatre has, according to its Web site, “put its producing activities on hiatus,” but Jackson (like his AST colleagues, with whom he continues to collaborate) has kept busy on a freelance basis, recently with his roundly lauded version of Oscar Wilde’s Salome for Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre and currently with his own play, The Forest War. The latter marks his second collaboration with Shotgun, and its powerful, graceful debut suggests Meyerhold’s chemistry was no fluke.
The play opens on the court of an ancient Asiatic kingdom at the cessation of a long war for control of a precious natural resource, namely, the economically indispensable forest. Having led his clan to a hard-won victory, the aging Lord Karug (Drew Anderson) takes the precaution of passing the mantle of state power over the head of his own bellicose and power-hungry son, Lord Kain (Kevin Clarke), and onto the irenic shoulders of Kulan (Cassidy Brown), popular with the populace as a just lord with humble roots in tilled soil. This sets Kain scheming — with the aid of his ally General Mau Tant (Reid Davis) — to take by stealth what he feels should be his by right. Kain’s machinations temporarily trade martial ferocity for the opportunities offered by marital infidelity, as a palace intrigue — devoted family man Kulan’s secret liaison with Karug’s courtesan (Tonya Glanz) — becomes the basis of a public campaign to topple his rival.
This Shakespearean plotline comes refracted startlingly, Akira Kurosawa–<\d>style, through a highly stylized lens — a fairly stunning mise-en-scène that astutely combines elements of Kabuki and Noh theater into a visual banquet with a palpitating dramatic energy behind it, all operating with a precise economy of movement, gesture, and sign. The story features other familiar-sounding details of war and peace — from the health care reform instigated under Kulan to Kain’s manipulation of intelligence and ill-considered war preparations. No matter how stylized or abstract the setting, there’s no missing the contemporary forest for these ancient trees. A whole set of secondary characters, moreover, as well as a parallel affair between Kulan’s daughter (Caroline Hewitt) and a poor artist (Ryan Tasker), flesh out the link between the common people and their turbulent leaders. Jackson directs his actors beautifully, extracting performances from Brown, Tasker, Hewitt, and Clarke, in particular, that breathe individually and expansively inside the productively strict choreography and caricature demanded.
If its vaguely two-party politics strike one as ultimately less sophisticated than its aesthetic vision, The Forest War still potently registers the anxiety of the times. And maybe, specifically, anxiety around our sense of time, in a world whose constantly increasing pace seems to both flatten time into an ever-uprooted, disconnected present and reinforce a by-now-inescapable fear of time running itself out completely. But in the realm of theater, the world that engulfs the characters onstage is also the ground of hope, where the audience, at least, remains to imagine new possibilities emerging from the charred landscape of runaway greed and war. (Robert Avila)
Through Jan. 14, 2007
Thurs.–<\d>Sun., 8 p.m.
Ashby Stage

Purple tamed?


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Ho, ho, hum. I may have to take it up with a certain chunky fellah in the red clown suit, because just between you and me, I can’t take the pressure. I’m sure you understand — the stress to plonk down the bones for the most lavish holiday booty. To have the raddest New Year’s Eve. To return or regift those less-than-apt presents in the weeks to follow. To end the year with a big bang, sinking your teeth deeply into the ass of life and emerging with stories to tell and most limbs intact.
Right up there with all of the above is the pressure to have fun in Las Vegas. I mean, you have to be a complete loser to not enjoy yourself, not eke out some happening in Vegas that had to stay in Vegas, right? After all, America’s sin city is busy recasting itself as the country’s entertainment capital, building casinos and ripping up the strip late into the night — surely they have some poison that tempts a princely palette?
Alas, Vegas can be such a tease. Exhibit one: Prince, supposedly deep into an indefinite residency at his new club, 3121 (the branding of this year’s album continues), at the Rio hotel but instead taking every weekend off till New Year’s from his Friday and Saturday gig. Caveat: don’t jingle-jangle into town expecting to see his purple highness shake it dutifully, night in and out, à la Frankie, Elvis, Wayne Newton, Barry Manilow, all the big cheeses. Admittedly, even at $125–<\d>$312 a pop, it would have been worth it — to see the larger-than-life mercurial Minneapolis mini at his relatively intimate 900-seat venue, which is said to be under the Purple 1’s sole artistic control, while the adjoining 3121 Jazz Cuisine is overseen by his personal chef. It’s the latest sign of the times: the 48-year-old was following his inclusion in an obligatory animated feature, Happy Feet, and his now-you-see-him-now-you-don’t Net presence (this year he shut down his longtime site shortly after fielding a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award for being the first major artist to release an entire album online exclusively) with a distinct signifier of a rapidly settling-down showbiz icon: a stint in Vegas. Isn’t this American entertainment’s Valhalla, where major stars come to die? “Now if he gets fat like Elvis …,” opined alexnevermind319 on fan site www.prince.org. I pictured the man socking back in a beige McMansion, crusting elegantly in a La-Z-Boy, heavily partaking of TiVo, inhaling fistfuls of Corn Nuts, and wondering if he’s in danger of becoming a corn nut himself, burned out on the bright lights that mask the sun-baked void after only a mere month.
I was clearly conflicted, so I sought solace in a kicky, clean-fun but self-aggrandizing Pussycat Dolls revue at Cesar’s Pure nightclub (drinking game: take a swig every time the half-nekkid hotties urge “Sing along, ladies”) and a geriatrically inclined ’n’ reclined show by Neil Diamond impersonator Jay White, a genuine sing-alike (Diamond himself is quoted in White’s ad: “Jay, keep singing so I can stay home and relax”) who too often shatters the illusion (“Everyone got their Christmas shopping done?” the would-be solitary man queried amid his re-creation of Diamond’s July 4, 1976, Vegas show).
But what am I complaining about? History, musical or otherwise, is often reworked here, toward new, profitable, and vanity-fluffing ends. I dug the Liberace Museum — including its cranky caretakers, who forbade us from cruising through its two buildings in a mere half hour — but you don’t have to look far beyond Liberace’s chinchilla-trimmed capes and mirror-tiled roadster to glimpse the sadness beneath the flash: my partner in Vegas grime read the fine print in the trophy room and noted that many are for simply giving talks and such. Did even the highest-paid entertainer in Vegas history (Liberace took home $50,000 a week in 1955 for turning it out regularly at the Riviera) and the man who enlightened Elvis himself about the power of glitter really need to pad his brag board?
Perhaps size does matter — Las Vegas is as much about industrial-scale entertainment as it is about taking your money in a wholesale sorta way. Judging from the recent low-key array of musical offerings — Toni Braxton was Prince’s only real rival last week — the Purple Pachyderm looms large here, the one truly musically innovative performer currently ensconced in Vegas. But can we say any Vegas-level dues are getting paid at all when Prince keeps the length of his engagement foggily indefinite, the time he goes onstage set vaguely after 10 p.m. — can’t he take the heat, sweat, and slog like a regularly gigging musician? It made you respect those crack, hard-working players behind small fries like White even more. In announcing Prince’s Vegas lounge act, a rep claimed Prince “wants to bring raw, live music back to Las Vegas.” So bring it already.<\!s>SFBG
Fri. and Sat. (after Dec. 28, but don’t count on it), 10 p.m.
3121 at the Rio
3700 W. Flamingo, Las Vegas, Nev.

Viva Falletti!



The age of the independent grocer might be deep in its twilight season, but that doesn’t mean a fresh gleam or two can’t occasionally appear in the gathering Wal-Mart-Target-chain darkness. One such gleam is Falletti Foods, resurrected in a handsome new complex next to the DMV just east of Golden Gate Park’s Panhandle. Falletti had operated for years in the old Petrini’s space at Masonic and Fulton. But that building was demolished in 1999 to make way for housing. Well, I thought at the time, so much for Falletti, RIP. Even in San Francisco, the tendency toward chain grocers in barnlike buildings seemed to be irresistible.
The reborn Falletti (still owned and run by Tick Falletti and his sons, Dominic and Jamie) is almost defiantly small, just 6,000 square feet of full-service market. Yet the space breathes nicely; the flow is natural, the aisles wide and well lit, the produce section a roomy square set about two central islands, one of them devoted to organic foodstuffs. Wines are displayed on elegant wood shelves just past the main entrance, while on the other side of the store is a long, L-shaped butcher’s counter — “40 feet of meat” — from whose shining glass cases can be had Diestel turkey parts and Dungeness crab, among many other delicacies.
I had supposed, before visiting, that the store’s compaction meant it would emphasize prepared foods and deli items, but this isn’t so. You could easily do your weekly shopping here, and prices, while not low, are competitive with those at similar stores. As for prepared foods: a Delessio Market and Bakery occupies a large corner of the floor space and is separated from Falletti mostly by signage of the you-are-now-entering sort. And for seekers after coffee, there is a Peet’s in its own cozy alcove just off the main entrance. The presence of the latter probably helps explain why Falletti doesn’t sell any bulk whole-bean coffee (such as Jeremiah’s Pick or Sark’s), just imported Italian stuff like Illy.
The realities of our strange times say that even the little guy has to have free parking and take credit cards, and Falletti does both. The place doesn’t have Whole Foods’ array of cheeses, but that doesn’t seem like a terribly high price to pay for buy-local types, which I hope most of us are.

Holiday Listings


Holiday listings are compiled by Todd Lavoie. Listings for Wed/20-Tues/26 are below; check back each week for updated events. See Picks for information on how to submit items to the listings.

“Reindeer Romp” San Francisco Zoo, 1 Zoo Road, Sloat at 47th Ave; 753-7080, www.sfzoo.org. Daily, 10am-5pm. Through Jan 1, 2007. Free with paid zoo admission ($4.50-11). Here’s a chance to show the little tykes what reindeer actually look like. Take a trip to Reindeer Romp Village and admire the beautiful creatures.
“San Francisco SPCA Holiday Windows Express” Macy’s, Stockton at O’Farrell; 522-3500, www.sfspca.org. During store hours. Through Dec 26. Free. The SF Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals presents an adorable display of cats and dogs; all featured pets are available for adoption.
Knight Ridder’s Downtown Ice Circle of Palms, S Market across from Plaza de Cesar Chavez, San Jose; (408) 279-1775, ext 45, www.sjdowntown.com. Dec 20-24, 26-30, noon-midnight. Mon/25, 2pm-midnight. Dec 31-Jan 1: noon-10pm. $12-14. A glide around this outdoor rink is a perfect way to ring in the holidays; price includes skate rentals.
“Donna Sachet’s Songs of the Season” York Hotel, Empire Plush Room, 940 Sutter, SF; www.donnasachet.com. Wed/20, 8pm. $60. Deliciously entertaining MC Donna Sachet celebrates her 14th year of “Songs of the Season,” a variety show benefiting the AIDS Emergency Fund. Performers include Sharon McNight, T.J. and Sheba!, and Connie Champagne.
“A Chaos Christmas Carol with Chicken John and Friends” 12 Galaxies, 2565 Mission; 970-9777. Sun/24, 9pm. $7. Proclaimed by the mighty entertainer Chicken John as “either the greatest show anyone has ever seen or the worst show on earth,” this holiday game show in which everyone wins is a sure thing when it comes to hilarity. Make sure to bring a gift to insure that everyone goes home with a prize!
“Dark Sparkle Christmas” Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market; 861-5016. Sat/23, 10pm-2am. $7. If too much holiday cheer is bringing you down, you might as well revel in it, right? DJs Miz Margo and Sage spin only the finest in dark and gloomy sounds with a goth-, new wave-, and punk-themed holiday party.
“Golden Age of Hollywood’s Central Ave Holiday Show” Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa; www.oldtimey.net. Sat/23, 8:30pm-1:15am. $15. Dames and gents are encouraged to slip on their finest vintage threads and dance the night away to the sweet sounds of jazz, blues, and swing. Wax nostalgic with live music by Stompy Jones and Cari Lee and the Saddle-ites, as well as performances by the Chippenbelles and the Jitterdales. MoniKaBOOM and BeBop Becca heat things up with their Miss Sultry Claus act, and DJ Jumpin’ Jeff provides the proper martini-sipping tunes. Arrive early for Hep Jen’s helpful dance lessons.
“Latkes and Vodka Chanukah Party” Medjool, 2522 Mission; 512-6279. Thurs/21, 7pm. RSVP requested. $15. Mmmm, latkes. Sponsored by the SF Jewish Community Federation LGBT Alliance and Congregation Sha-ar Zahav, this evening of festive food and drink promises to fill the room with happy tummies and holiday cheer. Be sure to arrive early: the first 100 guests receive a free goodie bag!
“Unsilent Night” Starts at Mission Dolores Park, 18th St and Dolores; (707) 869-2778. Sat/23, 7pm. Free. New York composer Phil Kline’s free, all-volunteer outdoor boom box holiday concert and public art event returns for its fourth year of enchanting San Franciscans with glorious ambient music. Participants are invited to bring a stereo to the starting point, where Kline will hand out cassettes and CDs to be played as part of a huge, mobile sound system that will parade along a mile-long route through the Mission, Noe Valley, and Castro neighborhoods.
“Russian Christmas Dance Party” Avalon Nightclub, 777 Lawrence Expwy, Santa Clara; www.novoeradio.com. Sat/23, 8:30pm-2am. $20-25. I don’t know about you, but when I think of Christmas, the words “psychedelic trance” spring to mind. NovoeRadio.com, the biggest Russian radio station in the United States, hosts a party to remember, with DJs Playdoughboy and Stranger and special guests Slon from Germany and Owonlapi from Switzerland.
“Solstice Celebration” Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo, Berk; (510) 525-5054. Sat/23, 6:30pm drum circle and potluck, 8pm concert. Free. Ashkenaz celebrates the solstice and honors founder David Nadel with an evening of food and music. The first portion of the program is a potluck dinner and drum jam; the second is a full itinerary of live performances, including the Afro-Caribbean flavors of the Sidewinders and the rollicking Balkan rhythms of Edessa.
“Telegraph Ave Holiday Street Fair” Telegraph between Bancroft and Dwight, Berk. Sat/23-Sun/24, 11am-6pm. Free. The Telegraph Business District transforms into a street party with an impressive array of live music, fine food, and unique handicrafts from area artisans.
“Winter Solstice Service and Celebration” Corte Madera Recreation Center, 498 Tamalpais Drive, Corte Madera; (415) 924-1494. Fri/22, 7-8:30pm. Free. The Golden Gate Center for Spiritual Living sponsors a family-friendly evening of celebrating new beginnings and spiritual fellowship. In addition to songs and prayers to warm the heart, there will be hot and hearty soup to warm the belly on a cold, cold night.
“A Cathedral Christmas” Grace Cathedral, 1100 California; 1-866-468-3399. Fri/22, 7pm; Sat/23, 3 and 7pm. $15-50. The Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, with orchestra, sings a program of holiday favorites.
“Celtic Christmas” Old First Church, 1751 Sacramento; www.oldfirstconcerts.org. Fri/22, 8pm. $12-15. Boasting a lively sound featuring fiddle, Celtic harp, tin whistle, and bouzouki, three-piece Golden Bough perform traditional and original holiday songs from Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.
“A Chanticleer Christmas” St Ignatius Church, 650 Parker; 392-4400. Sat/23, 8pm. $25-44. Grammy Award winners Chanticleer, a 12-man a cappella choir, sing a program of sacred and traditional holiday music. Along with holiday carols, the group performs medieval and Renaissance sacred works and African American spirituals.
“Christmas Winds” St John of God Church, 1290 Fifth Ave; 488-7632. Sat/23, 7:30pm. $15-20. Carol Negro directs the Baroque Arts Ensemble in a holiday show featuring Gregorian chants, medieval carols, madrigals, spirituals, and many other forms of celebratory music.
“Contra Costa Chorale Concert” Wells Fargo History Museum, 420 Montgomery; 396-2619. Wed/20, noon-1pm. Free. Treat yourself to an inspiring lunch break with a program of traditional and unusual Christmas carols performed by one of the oldest community choruses in the East Bay, the Contra Costa Chorale.
“Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bellringers Concert” Wells Fargo History Museum, 420 Montgomery; 396-2619. Thurs/21, noon-1pm. Free. Nothing beats breaking up your workday with an hour of festive song; the Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bellringers lift spirits with a show of seasonal favorites.
“Golden Gate Men’s Chorus Winter Concert” St Matthew’s Lutheran Church, 3281 16th St; www.ggmc.org. Wed/20, 8pm. $20. Musical Director Joseph Jennings guides the Golden Gate Men’s Chorus through a repertoire of holiday favorites and audience sing-alongs.
“Home for the Holidays” Castro Theatre, 429 Castro; 865-2787. Sun/24, 5, 7, and 9pm. $17-22. The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus celebrates its 16th annual holiday show, with a segment of the program dedicated to heartwarming tunes from the movies. The chorus will be joined by the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, directed by Stephanie Lynne Smith, for the 9pm show.
“Oakland Interfaith Gospel Ensemble” Slim’s, 333 11th St; www.slims-sf.com. Sun/24, 7 and 9:30pm. $15. Raise your spirits with a family-oriented holiday show bringing messages of peace, love, and joy. The soaring harmonies of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Ensemble will provide inspiration lasting well into the New Year.
“12 Bands of Christmas” 12 Galaxies, 2565 Mission; 970-9777. Fri/22-Sat/23, 9pm. $8 one-night ticket, $12 two-night ticket. All caroled out? For a more amped-up Christmas concert, 12 Galaxies offers an eclectic roster including Ryan Auffenberg, Joel Streeter, and the Bittersweets.
“Amahl and the Night Visitors” Masquers Playhouse, 105 Park Place, Point Richmond; www.masquers.org. Dec 23, 28-30, 8pm. $10 suggested donation. Members of the Masquers Playhouse and the Joyful Noise Choir of the First United Methodist Church of Point Richmond deliver a heartwarming rendition of the Gian Carlo Menotti winter favorite.
“Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Extravaganza” Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway, Redwood City; (650) FOX-4119.Thurs/21, 7:30pm; Fri/22, 8pm. $60-85. Swing-lovin’ rockabilly king Brian Setzer returns with his 18-piece big band for an evening of toe-tapping, poodle-skirt-twirling holiday fun.
“A Chanticleer Christmas” First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way, Berk; 1-800-407-1400. Thurs/21, 8pm. $25-44. Grammy Award winners Chanticleer, a 12-man a cappella choir, sing a program of sacred and traditional holiday music. Along with holiday carols, the group performs medieval and Renaissance sacred works and African American spirituals.
“Expect a Miracle Holiday Benefit Concert” Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo, Berk; (510) 525-5054. Thurs/21, 9pm. $10-20, sliding scale. Reggae performances by Ras Kidus, Undah P, Hurricane, and Mcguyva heat things up this holiday season in an evening of spiritually uplifting music. Proceeds benefit the Urban Community Action Network and Roots Connection Reggae University Project.
“From the Darkness, Solace” Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont, Oakl; (510) 228-3207. Thurs/21, 7pm. $10-20. In honor of the darkest day of the year, more than 35 solo artists perform original music in this winter solstice celebration.
“In Harmony’s Way” Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse, 1111 Addison, Berk; (510) 548-1761. Fri/22, 8pm. $18.50. Renowned Irish singer Shay Black MCs a program of traditional carols, sea chanteys, folk ballads, and much more. Performers include Riggy Rackin, Pam Swan, and members of a cappella ensemble Oak, Ash, and Thorn.
“Ronn Guidi’s Nutcracker Ballet” Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakl; (510) 625-8497. Fri/22-Sat/23, 8pm (also Sat/23, 2pm); Sun/24, 11am. $15-50. Watch the Sugar Plum Fairy and her handsome Cavalier dance along with the rest of the charming characters of the Kingdom of Delights. Members of the Oakland East Bay Symphony provide the whimsical musical accompaniment.
“Beach Blanket Babylon’s Seasonal Extravaganza” Club Fugazi, 678 Beach Blanket Babylon Blvd (Green St); 421-4222. Wed/20-Thurs/21, 8pm (also Wed/20, 5pm); Fri/22-Sat/23, 7 and 10pm; Sun/24, 2 and 5pm. Through Dec 31. $25-77. Sure, the label gets used a lot, but Steve Silver’s musical comedy is really and truly an extravaganza, with topical humor, dancing Christmas trees, outrageous costumes, and the biggest Christmas hat you’ve ever seen in your life.
“Black X Mass” Elbo Room, 647 Valencia; 552-7788, www.elbo.com. Mon/25, 9pm. $6.66 (of course). High Priestess Karla LaVey of the First Satanic Church hosts a variety show focusing on the darker side of things. Performers include Mongoloid, Graves Brothers Deluxe, Sergio Iglesias, Meathole Bitches, Wealthy Whore Entertainment, Theremin Wizard Barney, Tallulah Bankheist, and Ginger the Stripper. See pick box.
“Bud E. Luv Xmas Show” Red Devil Lounge, 1695 Polk; 921-1695. Mon/25, 8pm. $12. San Francisco’s smoothest operator, lounge lizard extraordinaire Bud E. Luv, throws a Christmas bash you aren’t likely to forget for a long, long time. Brace yourself: his disco and ’80s medleys contain artery-clogging amounts of cheese.
“A Child’s Christmas in Wales” Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon; www.exploratorium.edu. Sun/24, noon. Free with regular admission. The museum hosts a screening of the 1963 classic written and narrated by Dylan Thomas. Also showing will be the animated film The Sweater, a tale of boyhood in rural Quebec in the 1940s.
“Christmas Ballet” Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, theater bldg, 700 Howard; 978-2787. Wed/20-Sat/23, 8pm (also Thurs/21, Sat/23, 2pm); Sun/24, Tues/26, Dec 28, 2pm; Dec 27, 7pm. $45-55. The Smuin Ballet offers a mix of ballet, tap, swing, and many other dance styles in a holiday performance set to music by everyone from Placido Domingo to Eartha Kitt.
“A Christmas Carol” American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary; 749-2228, www.act-sf.org. Wed/20-Sat/23, 7pm (also Wed/20, Fri/22-Sat/23, 2pm); Sun/24, noon. $13.50-81.50. The American Conservatory Theater presents Carey Perloff and Paul Walsh’s adaptation of the Charles Dickens holiday story, featuring sets by Tony Award-winning designer John Arnone, original songs by Karl Lundeberg, costumes by Beaver Bauer, and choreography by Val Caniparoli.
“The Da Vinci Files” Brava Theatre, 2781 24th St; 206-0577. Thurs/21, 6pm. Free. Mystery-exploring Spanish-language network Infinito hosts a celebration dedicated to the San Francisco Latino community with a free screening of its new documentary, The Da Vinci Files, which covers the myths and mysteries surrounding the master painter. Infinito will be giving away prizes at this screening.
“Holiday Animation Film Festival” Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon; www.exploratorium.edu. Dec 26-30, noon, 1 and 2pm. Free with regular admission. The Exploratorium’s McBean Theater screens a series of quirky animated shorts and minidocumentaries certain to stimulate the mind as well as tickle the funny bone.
“It Could Have Been a Wonderful Life” Phoenix Theater, 414 Mason; 820-1400. Fri/22-Sat/23, 8pm; Sun/24, 3pm. $20-25. Fred Raker’s laugh-filled retelling of the Christmas classic delivers a distinctly Jewish spin on the Frank Capra story.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” Actors Theatre of San Francisco, 855 Bush; 345-1287. Thurs/21, 8pm; Fri/22-Sat/23, 2pm. $10-30. Joe Landry’s adaptation of Frank Capra’s classic holiday film, directed by Kenneth Vandenberg, is performed in the style of live radio broadcasts from the ’40s.
“Kung Pao Kosher Comedy” New Asia Restaurant, 772 Pacific; www.koshercomedy.com. Fri/22-Sun/24, 6pm dinner show, 9:30pm cocktail show; Mon/25, 5pm dinner show, 8:30pm cocktail show. $40 cocktail show, $60 seven-course dinner show. Celebrating Christmas with Jewish comedy in a Chinese restaurant, Kung Pao Kosher Comedy throws its 14th annual bash with hilarity from Cathy Ladman, Stephanie Blum, and Dan Ahdoot. Kung Pao mastermind Lisa Geduldig hosts the show.
“Oy Vey in a Manger” Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness; 392-4400. Sat/23, 8pm. $25-35. “America’s favorite dragapella beautyshop quartet” the Kinsey Sicks leave no taboo untouched with their over-the-top drag, fierce comedy, and truly twisted renditions of holiday classics, including the perennial fave “God Bless Ye Femmy Lesbians.”
“A Queer Carol” New Conservatory Theatre, Decker Theatre, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972, www.nctsf.org. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Dec 31, 2 pm. Through Dec 31. $22-40. The New Conservatory Theatre Center presents Joe Godfrey’s comedy A Queer Carol, a retelling of Charles Dickens’s classic tale with gay themes and characters.
“Santaland Diaries” Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission; 1-866-811-4111, www.theatermania.com. Dec 22-23, 27-31, 8 (also Fri-Sat, 10pm; Dec 31, 10:30pm); Sun/24-Mon/25, 7pm (also Sun/24, 3pm). Through Dec 31. $20-30. Steinbeck Presents and Combined Art Form Entertainment bring shrieks of glee with their adaptation of David Sedaris’s hilarious play featuring the comic genius of actors John Michael Beck and David Sinaiko.
“Trimming the Holidays: The Second Annual Shorts Project” Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter; 503-0437, www.lveproductions.com. Fri/22-Sat/23, 8pm. $17-20. La Vache Enragee Productions presents a holiday-themed evening of short plays and silent films accompanied by music composed by Christine McClintock.
“A Very Brechty Christmas” Custom Stage at Off-Market, 965 Mission; 1-800-838-3006. Thurs/21-Sat/23, 8pm. $15-35. The Custom Made Theatre Co., under the direction of Lewis Campbell and Brian Katz, brings two short socially conscious plays to the stage for a bit of holiday season perspective: Bertolt Brecht’s The Exception and the Rule and Daniel Gerould’s Candaules, Commissioner.
“Big Fat Year End Kiss Off Comedy Show XIV” Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College, Berk; www.juliamorgan.org. Tues/26, 8pm. $15-17. Political satirist Will Durst is joined by a cast of barbed-tongued comics in an evening of comedy addressing the major news stories of the year.
“A Christmas Carol” Sonoma County Repertory Theater, 104 North Main, Sebastopol; (707) 823-0177. Thurs/21-Sat/23, 8pm. $15-20; Thurs, pay what you can. Artistic director Scott Phillips leads the Sonoma Country Repertory in an inventive rendition of the Charles Dickens tale.
“A Christmas Carol: A Solo Performance” Marin Art and Garden Center, Barn Theatre, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Ross; (415) 226-1316. Thurs/21-Sat/23, 8pm (also Sat/23, 1pm); Sun/24, 1pm. $10-25. Talk about juggling many balls at once! Ron Severdia portrays more than 40 different characters in his ambitious solo-show adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic.
“Christmas Dreamland” Heritage Theatre, One W Campbell, Campbell; 1-888-455-7469. Wed/20-Thurs/21, 2 and 7pm; Fri/22-Sat/23, 8pm (also Sat/23, 2pm); Sun/24, 1pm. $48-73. Artistic director Tim Bair leads the American Musical Theatre of San Jose in the world premiere of its multimedia holiday showcase.
“A Christmas Memory” Berkeley South Branch Library, 1901 Russell, Berk; (510) 981-6107. Wed/20, 4:30pm. Free. Actor Thomas Lynch performs a 40-minute abridged reading of Truman Capote’s holiday favorite, A Christmas Memory. Refreshments will be served after the performance.
“Circus Finelli’s Holiday Extravaganza” Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College, Berk; www.juliamorgan.org. Wed/20-Sun/24, 1 and 3pm (also Thurs/21, 9pm). $8-15. The Clown Conservatory of the SF Circus Center brings holiday cheer with a comedy stage show filled with acrobatics, juggling, dance, live music, and yes, clown high jinks.
“Freight Holiday Revue and Fundraiser” Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse, 1111 Addison, Berk; (510) 548-1761. Thurs/21, 8pm. $17.50. The nonprofit community arts organization Freight and Salvage hosts an evening of music, food, and Charles Dickens readings. Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum perform blazing bluegrass numbers, Cascada de Flores explore Mexican and Cuban musical traditions, and famed Dickens actor Martin Harris reads passages from the timeless classic A Christmas Carol.
“Keep the Yuletide Gay” Dragon Theater, 535 Alma, Palo Alto; (415) 439-2456, www.theatrereq.org. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 30. $10-25. Theatre Q presents this world premiere of its irreverent comedy about a Christmas Eve dinner party that devolves into chaos when one of the guests hires a mystic to try to make their gay friend straight for the hostess.
“A Little Cole in Your Stocking” Aurora Theatre Company, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 30. $25. Bay Area husband-and-wife cabaret duo Meg Mackay and Billy Philadelphia weave Cole Porter tunes and swinging holiday ditties into a mischievous, irreverent show.
“Bill Graham Menorah” Union Square; 753-0910. Sixth candle lighting: Wed/20, 5pm. Seventh: Thurs/21, 5pm. Final: Fri/22, 3pm. Observe the Festival of Lights by visiting the impressively large public menorah in Union Square.
“Boudin at the Wharf’s Old-Fashioned North Pole” Boudin at the Wharf, 160 Jefferson; 928-1849. Sat/23, 10am-5pm. Carolers, refreshments, and special visits from Santa mean family fun as Pier 43 1/2 is transformed into a wintry wonderland.
“Children’s Tea” Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel, One Nob Hill; 616-6916. Sat-Sun, noon-3pm. Through Dec 30. $39. The legendary Top of the Mark sky lounge hosts a holiday-themed afternoon tea for families. In addition to some fine views of the city, guests will be treated to a magic show.
“Young and Young at Heart Open House” Wells Fargo Museum, 420 Montgomery; 396-2619. Wed/20, 11am-2pm. Free. This family event will feature stagecoach rides, trivia treasure hunts, and many other activities with a holiday theme.
“Gingerbread House Party” Habitot Children’s Museum, 2065 Kittredge, Berk; www.habitot.org. Wed/20, 9:30am-1pm. Free. Take your little ones, along with a bag of candy, to the museum for a chance to decorate a giant gingerbread house. Once completed, the mouthwatering creation will be donated to a local family shelter for the children to enjoy.
Creativity Explored’s Holiday Art Sale 3245 16th St; 863-2108, www.creativityexplored.org. Regular hours: Mon-Fri, 10am-3pm; Sat, 1-6pm. Through Dec 28. Free. The nonprofit visual arts center offers works created by artists with developmental, psychiatric, and physical disabilities.
“Great Dickens Christmas Fair” Cow Palace, 2600 Geneva; 1-800-510-1558. Sat/23, 11am-7pm. $8-20. For a slower-paced shopping experience, this winter wonderland offers a range of theater and entertainment, costumed Victorian-era characters, sumptuous feasts, and gift ideas aplenty.
“Peace, Love, Joy, ART” ARTworkSF, main gallery, 49 Geary; 673-3080. Gallery hours: Tues-Sat, noon-5:30pm. Through Dec 30. Browse locally made handiworks for holiday gift ideas.
“Public Glass Artist Showcase” Crocker Galleria, 50 Post; 671-4916. Wed/20-Fri/22, 10am-7pm. Free. More than 15 local glass artists will exhibit their work, offering many one-of-a-kind gifts. Public Glass is the city’s only nonprofit center for glassworking, and this will be its sole downtown event of the year.
“Berkeley Potters Guild Gallery Show and Holiday Sale” 731 Jones, Berk; (510) 524-7031. Wed/20-Sun/24, 10am-5pm. Free. Browse through the wares of the oldest and largest clay collaborative group on the West Coast.
“EclectiXmas Art Show and Sale” Eclectix Store and Gallery, 7523 Fairmount, El Cerrito; (510) 364-7261. Wed/20, noon-6pm; Thurs/21, 11am-7pm; Fri/22, 10am-7pm; Sat/23, 10am-6pm; Sun/24, 10am-2pm. Free. Nothing says “I love you” like a sculpture or painting or photograph. Browse the gallery’s group show for imaginative gifts.
“Pro Arts Holiday Sale” 550 Second St, Oakl; (510) 763-4361. Wed/20-Thurs/21, noon-6pm. Free. This nonprofit organization supporting Bay Area artists offers jewelry, glassware, ceramics, and other potential gifts.<\!s>SFBG

Keeping up with John Waters


CULT MOVIES Cobbled and crumbling streets with a homegrown musk of fish, piss, and National Bohemian Beer wind through Charm City — a place where ragged and palsied vagrants stroke crack pipes atop benches reading “The Greatest City in America.” The dainty, dapper man serving me coffee from an antique tray couldn’t be further away from Baltimore.
His recent San Francisco appearance has been moved from the Fillmore to the Swedish American Hall. Cross-legged in a perfectly tailored black suit, John Waters chalks it up to the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle but adds, “Don’t worry — I don’t feel like Kevin Federline or anything.” It turns out the cult director is a fervent member of Team K-Fed. “I hope he gets the kids. I love a bad boy, and he is so clueless about how to deal with the press — but at least he wasn’t out this week showing his crotch.” Instead of dwelling on the deeper cultural nuances of Britney Spears, I’m just trying to figure out how this guy has time to keep up with the tabloids.
You see, John Waters — sultan of sleaze, underbelly fetishist, iconic if ironic impresario — has been very, very busy.
First, there’s the remake of the remake of Hairspray. The original 1988 film featured Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono, Divine, and Jerry Stiller — and launched the career of Ricki Lake. After easily reaching cult status, its Broadway musical version swept the Tonys — and now Waters is back with a third cast and a fresh eye: “Each time it has to be reinvented to work — otherwise why go there?” The new movie, which stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah, and Christopher Walken, comes out next summer and features John Travolta in the roll of Edna Turnblad. “Sitting there in the trailer with John Travolta getting into drag, it’s not so much different than Divine getting into drag — it’s a looong process.”
Though this latest version of Hairspray is directed by Adam Shankman, it has the full support of its creator. Some might say full frontal support — Waters shows his unwavering approval in the film’s first 30 seconds through a cameo as a flasher.
Meanwhile, stage director Mark Brokaw, Daily Show writer David Javerbaum, and Fountains of Wayne member Adam Schlesinger have teamed up with the Hairspray the Musical team to turn Cry-Baby, Waters’s 1990 movie musical, into another Broadway show. The film — starring Johnny Depp and Amy Locane — is the story of two ’50s teenagers tangled up in a star-crossed-lovers cliché. The menagerie of raunch and camp is fleshed out with some vulgar rockabilly (parts of the soundtrack are produced by Dave Alvin), tight clothes, and quite possibly the most unbelievable supporting cast of all time. “I cast it like I was having an insane dinner party with people from very different worlds,” Waters says. You can bet that Iggy Pop, Patricia Hearst, Willem Dafoe, Traci Lords, and even Polly Bergen had some wild times on set.
Waters recently collaborated with Jeff Garlin to adapt his infamously inflammatory monologue, This Filthy World, for the screen. The lewdly eccentric music compilation A John Waters Christmas (New Line) is in stores now, and A Date with John Waters (New Line), a smutty Valentine’s Day comp, will hit the shelves in early February. And just in case you still suspect the man of slacking off, he has also finished writing the screenplay for his next film — a children’s movie. Yeah, as in for children.

Fri/22, 7 p.m. Hairspray;
8:50 p.m. Cry-Baby
See Rep Clock

Judge blocks newspaper monopoly



They rule — and drool


› a&eletters@sfbg.com
REVIEW It may sound like a toast at a wedding reception, but in order to have some measure of success in a collaborative project, there has to be an agreement between the parties involving respect, patience, and a dose of humor. The opposite would be when a couple filing for divorce cites “irreconcilable differences.” For the collaborative art team leonardogillesfleur (Leonardo Giacomuzzo and Gilles-fleur Boutry), this phrase is also the clever title of their recent body of work currently on exhibit at Catharine Clark Gallery. The title plays on the struggle to create collaboratively and points to the sometimes fruitless results in pushing idealistic — or just plain romantic — notions. Paired with this work is “Action Series,” a grouping of videotaped performances that touch on a similar vein.
The team graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2004 with MFAs from the New Genres Department. And it shows. Upon entering the gallery, you are confronted with a candy-apple red contraption: a push-me-pull-you Fiat, a car with two front ends seamlessly melded together to create a vehicle that can drive in two directions. It has two steering wheels, two front windows, no back seat, and a propensity for going in circles. The car isn’t real, but the photos and schematic layouts are convincing enough. On close investigation, you can see that the car is actually an altered toy and leonardogillesfleur altered its photograph. This is something children would happily invent with crayons.
The pair have also included a recording of their own childlike car sounds, which emits vrrrroommms from a corner in the gallery, near the large-scale photo of the car, One Way or Another Puzzle. The vehicle sits waiting, parked on cobblestones, with the pair walking toward it, dressed in matching exercise gear — ready for action. But the action they get, as shown in one photo of the car after it’s made donuts (“Going in Circles”), is likely to prove frustrating. A real object the team made prior to this two-way Fiat is a bicycle with two handlebars and two seats. Unlike on a tandem cycle, a third wheel in the center has the riders facing away from each other and forever pedaling hard to try and go their direction instead of their partner’s. These objects are visual puns and teeter on the edge of dadaism but fall more directly in the realm of conceptualism, the kind taught at a clown college — smart but also smart-ass.
In the next room video monitors on the walls and a large projection in a small theater loop the staged photolike performances of “Action Series.” Leonardogillesfleur are playing with the idea of holding a moment, markedly a special occasion, for as long as they can. Akin to a freeze-frame kiss at the end of a sappy movie, Myself as a Fountain highlights the team seconds before they go into a passionate lip-lock. They stand outside in some city park, amid the sound of cars and dogs barking — with heavy strings of drool pouring from their mouths. In all these videos — including one with the painfully cold setting of a blizzard, in which the couple hold a waving-at-the-camera pose — the title includes the length of time the subjects endured these attempts to hold on to the moment. In the loop in which a birthday cake’s candles melt down while awaiting a puff of air from Boutry’s mouth, friends wobble and work to hold their poses in the background. The time reads “8:42.” Family and friends actually suffered it out as we do when enduring each other’s company for too long. In these video pieces leonardogillesfleur capture the clear sense of futility in preserving a moment that didn’t happen the way it was imagined. The duo are fortunate in their pairing: they have figured out how to mix their multimedia works with just enough humor to hold viewers’ attention, yet leaving them open to the works’ harder messages.<\!s>SFBG

Through Fri/22
Wed.–<\d>Fri., 10:30 a.m.–<\d>5:30 p.m.
Catharine Clark Gallery
49 Geary, second floor, SF
(415) 399-1439

Girls and monsters


› johnny@sfbg.com

Impish skittering insect fairies, horned Jean Cocteau–<\d>spawned romantic beasts, lascivious frogs that make Jabba the Hutt seem schooled by Jenny Craig, and murderous monsters with hands on their eyes — no doubt about it, the baroque and neo-Raphaelite splendor (or Splenda, since it’s largely CGI-based) of Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth leaves the majority of 2006’s unimpressive prestige movies looking drab and mechanical. But as Del Toro’s rich pageant attempts to shove what feels like 12 dozen solemn manifestations of Cate Blanchett aside in order to make a valid, exciting run for the Academy Awards, it’s important to realize that the director’s vision, while creative, has a definite antecedent: one of the least-known greatest movies of all time, Víctor Erice’s sublime 1973 The Spirit of the Beehive. Like Erice’s movie, Pan’s Labyrinth is an allegorical look back at Francisco Franco–<\d>era Spain, as seen through the eyes of a little girl.
Del Toro has admitted that The Spirit of the Beehive has seeped into his soul — though not, to some detriment, into his filmmaking style. Its influence is evident even in the architectural emphasis of his movie’s title, which trades Erice’s honeycombs for a maze. Within the movie itself, however, this labyrinth overtly evokes Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, as young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) races through corner-laden leafy and stony passages away from the murderous clutches of her stepfather, Franco minion Captain Vidal (Sergi López). Her fight for life traverses the film’s narrative — a much larger labyrinth that ultimately connects her imagination to the lives of others.
The bittersweet outcome of that struggle won’t surprise anyone familiar with Shakespeare, not to mention Del Toro’s past movies or his enlightened, enthusiastic love of John Carpenter — a rare Hollywood director who doesn’t think a pigtailed child with an ice cream cone is above the ruthlessness of the streets. In Del Toro’s 1997 mutant cockroach thriller, Mimic, an orphan in the sewers meets a fate similar to that of a sewer orphan in Bong Joon-ho’s upcoming The Host, the only movie to outdo Pan’s Labyrinth as a politicized genre entry at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Both Bong and Del Toro measure the sins of the world against a girl’s heroism, and while they’ve learned about the power of spectacle from Steven Spielberg, they haven’t swallowed his saccharine formulas — or pursued his nationalist and reactionary political tendencies.
In Del Toro’s case, this means the Mexican-born director repeatedly returns to Spain under the Fascist reign of Franco to construct fantastic but critical parables in which children represent resistance. In this regard, Pan’s Labyrinth is a sister film to 2001’s The Devil’s Backbone, with Ofelia serving as a solitary counterpart to the boys of that film’s haunted school. It’s a mistake — made by at least one pan of Pan — to attribute the film’s fairy-tale quality to sexism on the part of its director; without question, Del Toro is paying homage to Erice’s Spirit, perhaps the greatest movie ever made about a child’s — not just girl’s — consciousness.<\!s>SFBG

Open Fri/27 in Bay Area theaters
See Movie Clock at www.sfbg.com

Ringing it backwards


SUPER EGO Hustlers are like trees — you can usually tell how long they’ve been around by the number of rings around their eyes. Or how many teeth they have left, if trees had teeth, which they don’t, but hey, I’m never one to not stretch a simile to Andromeda and back. They pay me to do it! It’s my elastic destiny.
I was counting the rings on a hot tattooed man-product at the bar closest to my heart, Mr. Lee-ona’s in the Tenderloin, when a thought attacked me: maybe, Miss Marke B., you should do one of those year-in-clubs retrospectives and try to relive, in a Swiss-cheese-brain way, 12 hard months’ worth of gadabouting. The highs, hangovers, hilarity, hurling, what have you.
Suddenly, I was attracted both ways. Retrospectives can be lame, but no one really does them about clubs here. So there’s originality. Plus: I had a coherent thought! I should run with it. Maybe I’ll even earn another ring.

There were oh-so-very many success stories in 2006, not all of them pretty. Here are some. Bootie (www.bootiesf.com), the horrendously wonderful mashup monthly, moved to DNA Lounge and became a secret guilty favorite. Tipsy zombie Santas dancing to Kanye West and Beethoven — ’nuff said. Also: Hard Eight at Crash (www.crashnightclub.com) with DJ Tommy Lee blew the roof off retro and introduced a whole new generation of Marina chicks to porn and torn rock T’s. A sight to ponder heartily. The Transfer (415-861-7499) attempted to transform a beloved biker-dyke bar into the most forward-thinking semiunderground party stop on every cool clubber’s night train and ended up being a little of both, which — who knew? — proved to be an addictive combination.

Megaclubs, no doubt. San Francisco had already moved away from cavernous supastar showcase spots by the start of ’06. Even that infamous security-wracked techno black hole, 1015 (www.1015.com), was making good on its intentions to remodel itself into a more intimate, lounge-type joint. Mezzanine (www.mezzaninesf.com) found it drew more crowds as an edgy concert space than as a circuit host. And while the ever-delayed opening of “super club” Temple (www.templesf.com) teased me with inklings of controlled experiments (would the ability to plug your own headphones into a DJ booth be enough to tempt folks to pay $20 door fees and find their way through 10 rooms?), the nightspot’s had too many permit problems to get off the ground. We’re edging toward a time when a “DJ” walks into a bar and plugs a cell phone into the speakers — we’re obviously in need of some intimacy.

In a weird reversal of the ’70s, mushrooms have tied cocaine as the bad-girl head party, but neither of them can beat prescription drugs yet. The bathroom stalls are like freakin’ Canadian pharmacies. The whole ’70s rare-groove gay bathhouse trend is still our most exportable original trend — breakbeats, who? — thanks to Bus Station John and a host of new gay musicologists. Circuit is dead, house keeps taking a beating, and no one’s too snobby about music anymore (too much of a good thing? I’m so puke over the easy ’80s). Club Neon (www.neonsf.com) and Brigitte Bardot (www.myspace.com/brigittesf) are doing wonders with bringing back the ’90s, with original remixes and a glam-grunge aesthetic. Trash drag and its backlash, trashier drag, are merging at an alarming pace. And seedy dives — complete with the occasional hustler — are back for their trademark naughty luxury. No more lava lamps and pod chairs, people! SFBG

301 Turk, SF
7 a.m.–2 a.m.
(415) 292-9803

The art of the cart


› paulr@sfbg.com

The romance of street-cart food might not be high romance, but it is romance and does cast its spell, particularly in big, rich cities — like ours — with elaborate infrastructures of fancy restaurants and a concomitant epidemic of some as-yet unnamed cultural autoimmune disorder that attaches inordinate worth to the prosaic.
Street-cart chic reflects, I would say, a recognition among the high rollers that immaculate table linens and Limoges china aren’t all there is to the gastronomic life, that occasionally a little mayonnaise running down the sleeve is in order, though maybe not mayonnaise from an actual street cart, because the cart-keeper probably hasn’t washed his hands and you might get salmonella. I tilt toward this view largely because several recent street-cart-food undertakings of note have connections to glossy, big-name places, and these connections do carry a certain brand-name reassurance. Two examples: the Ferry Building’s Mijita, which serves Mexican street food with regional accents, is related to swank Jardinière by way of a shared owner-chef, Traci des Jardins, while Charles Pham’s hugely upscale the Slanted Door has given birth to a pair of Out the Doors (the latest in the Westfield San Francisco Centre, the great mall of tomorrow), which bundle up take-out packages of Vietnamese street-cart food for those on the run or on deadline.
Yet not all street-food emporiums are modest little places with richer, grander siblings that can sluice their rich patrons downstream every now and then for some edible absolution of wealth-guilt. Bodega Bistro, for instance, has a kind of dual identity; it’s a quite elegant Tenderloin restaurant that gives a section of its menu over to the street-cart food of Hanoi. And now we have the seductive Regalito Rosticeria, which combines a gleaming Pizzeria Delfina look, of warm wood, glass, and stainless steel, with a menu (by chef and owner Thomas Peña) largely given over to versions of Mexico City’s street-cart food.
The extreme makeover of what was once a pupusería is stunning in practically every respect, but its most striking feature is the long bar, or counter, which runs most of the length of the restaurant, can seat at least a dozen, and is backed by the busy kitchen, with its gas-fired ovens, mortars and pestles, and busy chefs filling stainless-steel bowls with fresh salsas and guacamoles. It’s like the Mexican version of a sushi bar. The dark side of the moon, of course, is that table seating is a little sparse.
As the glistening treasures in the chefs’ stainless-steel bowls suggest, las salsas are not only excellent but makers of dishes. Guacamole ($6) can and does stand alone, of course; it’s creamy-chunky, made with perfectly ripe avocados sliced up by hand rather than processed or pounded, and it’s served with whole tortillas (of wheat) fried to a bronze crispness. You break off a piece, as if it’s pappadam, and dip. If you want the same thing with tomatoes instead of avocados, you will opt for the tostadas with salsa fresca ($3), the crispy disks presented this time with a classic salsa made with voluptuously ripe tomatoes, finely diced, whose sweetness balances the sourness of the lime and the bite of the garlic and chiles.
But to say that other sauces play supporting roles is not to diminish them. The torta ($7.50) — a Mexican sandwich featuring roasted pork or chicken on wondrously puffy bread swabbed with refrijoles and Mexican crema (a close relation of crème fraîche) — benefits from the presence of a sharp pico de gallo, while the quesadillas ($7.50), deep-fried half moons, like empanadas depend on a red salsa, waterier and hotter than its fresca cousin. Even the sauces you can’t see, such as the vinaigrette that dresses the chopped lettuce accompanying the taquitos ($7.50), add a charge. There is nothing quite like undressed lettuce, sitting there like a pile of hay in a barnyard, to let the air out of the balloon of anticipation, and yet this seemingly minor oversight is common practice in many Mexican restaurants. If nothing else, the kitchen crew at Regalito sweats the details.
The only sauce I didn’t respond to was the roping of red-pepper coulis across the enchiladas rojas ($7.50), flaps of corn tortillas also topped with white pipings of crema, like decorations on a birthday cake. The sauce’s rich rust red color belied its undersalting. On the other hand, the tortillas weren’t deep-fried — a small mercy.
Many of the small dishes, of bar and side food, are remarkably tasty: brilliant little pirouettes of flavor and texture you could easily choreograph into a light, leisurely meal or an extended cocktail hour. If you’ve ever saved the seeds from your Halloween pumpkin and later tried to roast them, only to meet with disappointment, you will find the pepitas ($2) — pumpkin seeds toasted with chili, salt, and lime — to be revelatory. Mostly they are tender and melt in the mouth without leaving behind that terrible cud of fiber.
Beans, of course, are available in a variety of guises. Among the possibilities are stewed pinto beans ($2.50), mild and meaty, and ejotes ($3.50) — green beans — sautéed with delicate ribbons of white onion and finished with a squeeze of lime. And while we are on the subject of limes: the house-made limeade ($1.95) is a phenomenon of dense sweet-sourness. If you’re tired of lemonade and you want a bit more excitement than the usual aguas frescas can provide — or you seek the grease-cutting power of citric acid — you will be happy with it. Think of it as a little gift to yourself — a regalito, as Spanish speakers say.<\!s>SFBG

Tues.–<\d>Fri., 11 a.m.–<\d>10 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.–<\d>10 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m.–<\d>8 p.m.
3481 18th St., SF
(415) 503-0650
Beer and wine
Pleasantly noisy
Wheelchair accessible



› le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com
CHEAP EATS My new favorite superheroes are my old pal Mod the Pod and her social-working podner, the Kat Attack. Together they comb the streets and psyches of the Bay Area, looking for people to help, and in many cases that turns out to be me!
If I had a nickel for every time one or the other or both of them together have untied me from figurative railroad tracks or snatched me up in midair as I was falling into snaky pits or the abyss or … well, in this case, I was bummed about having been Just-Friended, yet again, the night before. Not a lot of sleep, and morning found the chicken farmer kind of crying into her coat collar down at Java Supreme.
My coffee was this close to being cold, literally, when out of nowhere our superheroes swooped down in their superminivan, and Earl Butter helped load me into the back. Wasting no time, Mod the Pod gave me a squirt of our favorite perfume, and the Kat Attack told a great joke in which a bear walks into a bar and says, “Gimme a shot and a … beer,” and the bartender goes, “Why the big pause?”
After about a beat, I laughed real hard and rolled on the floor, mostly because there aren’t any seats in the back of this van.
Earl Butter, still choking over my squirt of perfume, was groping around like a mime in a box, trying to open real windows that didn’t really open. (Note: this seemingly innocuous detail is what we writers call “foreshadowing,” so don’t forget to remember it later, OK?)
Well, Jelly’s was “closed for the season,” whatever that means. As if San Francisco has seasons. So we had to go to the Ramp. And we had to sit outside, even though it was practically raining and cold. All the inside tables were taken.
I was thinking: coffee. Hot coffee. But before I could say so, Mod the Pod ordered us four Bloody Marys, and I went with it, reasoning: she’s the social worker.
Sure enough, the sun came out! And food! Huevos rancheros ($10.95), a bacon avocado omelet ($9.75), bacon and eggs ($8.75 times two), and more Bloody Marys (way, way too much money to even think about) … and I told my sad story, and the Attack was her supersweet self, and Earl Butter made jokes and poked me, and the Pod, you know what Mod the Pod did, being a superhero?
She gave me some of her bacon.
To think, to think that earlier in the week I’d almost killed her! But that’s another story.
Did you hear? I shattered glass during my very first session of speech therapy! We were sitting at a long wooden table, Coach Freidenberg and me, and I was saying things into a microphone and she was monitoring my pitch on a computer screen, like the opposite of the limbo: how high can you go? My eyes were mostly closed, not in concentration, but because it was of course excruciating to hear my own voice being played back to me.
“Many men making much money in the month of May,” my voice said. “The murmuring of doves in the memorial elms.”
It was worse than excruciating. It was traumatic. It was psychologically damaging. Stanley Kubrick could prop toothpicks in my ears and make a movie out of it. I was this close to losing my will to live, and then I opened my eyes to see what time it was — because it seemed like an important moment to mark, the losing of one’s will to live.
But instead of seeing clocks I saw, down below on the sidewalk outside, loitering, looking for someone to save, guess who? Mod the Pod! Me, I thought. Save me.
To get her attention, I tried to open the window, which was one of those old out-opening ones with a crank. I wanted to say, “Lunch?” That’s all. And I turned the crank ever so slightly, but it broke. At 11:41 in the morning. The window, glass, shattering, crash, bang, boom, and time stood still for idiot chicken farmers and for pedestrians pushing perambulators filled with gurgling children, and for loitering superheroes.
Would she save the day? Could she? How? With bacon? This being the story of my life and my life being basically a comic book, time stands still for you too, dear reader, until next time, while foot-long shards of glass hang in thick air like enemy arrows.<\!s>SFBG

Mon.–<\d>Fri., 11 a.m.–<\d>3 p.m.
Sat.–<\d>Sun., 8:30 a.m.–<\d>4 p.m.
855 China Basin, SF
(415) 621-2378
Full bar
Wheelchair accessible

Pee on a stick


› andrea@altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea:
We use a fertility monitor for birth control — my partner pees on a stick and inserts the stick in the monitor, and it tells her when she’s fertile. This device is designed to tell you when you are likely to get pregnant — we are using it to abstain on the fertile days. This would seem to be more accurate than the rhythm method. Do you think this might be a valid (and less invasive) method of birth control?
Sticks Not Pills

Dear Stick:
Sure, of course it is. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they wouldn’t sell such a thing if it weren’t valid (“they” sell all kinds of stupid stuff), but there’s good science to support fertility awareness, both as a contraceptive method and a conception aid. In truth, you don’t even need the monitor, since a woman’s body will tell her what it’s up to if she knows how to listen. I can’t say the manual version is really for everyone though. It requires both obsessive-compulsive tendencies and a high tolerance for low-level grossness, which is to say, it suited me perfectly, but your partner is under no obligation.
If you (the generic you, not the specific, biologically male you) want to do fertility awareness without a monitor, you will need a cheap digital thermometer and some paper or a spreadsheet program. There’s a very slight, like a couple tenths of a degree slight, rise in temperature after a woman ovulates, best recorded first thing in the morning before she does anything else, like even sit up. Any given temperature reading is meaningless in itself, but over a few months a pattern tends to emerge. Some very nutty data queens get a kick out of making charts with multiple colored pencils; others enjoy downloading charting software to their PDAs. Normal people will just consider it another dull but necessary maintenance task, like flossing.
Perhaps the most meaningful, and certainly the ickiest, of the fertility awareness signs is the state of one’s cervical mucus. Toni Weschler, the queen of fertility awareness methods, likes to tell the story of how she was unable to get herself booked on any of the wholesome morning talk shows and was completely flummoxed — the audiences are mostly women! Women are very interested in birth control, particularly free or cheap, totally safe, and quite reliable birth control. Then she tried telling the producers that she’d be talking about cervical fluid. Nobody wants to hear about mucus, particularly right after breakfast. Anyway, cervical fluid runs free and clear like a mountain stream (except ickier) when a woman is fertile and dries up and becomes inhospitable, if not downright rude, to sperm when she is not.
There are other signs and wonders to marvel at and to record obsessively with colored pencils. The Internet is full of detailed instructions, as is Weschler’s widely read book, Taking Control of Your Fertility. I myself am a fan of obsessive charting combined with ovulation predictor kits, which are basically just the sticks without the little computer to read them out for you. The only real difference is that the monitor, when it determines that a woman is fertile, produces a wee hen’s-egg-shaped icon, which always bothered me a little. If I’m finding nursing a bit disturbingly bovine, I found that picture just a little too … chickeny. Now that I actually have kids, there are enough things around here that cluck and moo, thanks.

Dear Andrea:
I am in a long-distance relationship. Sometimes when I see my girlfriend, she’s on her rag, and so we can’t have sex. She suggested buying some medicine to control her rag or at least delay it. I don’t know anything about pills: can they cause people to be unable to get pregnant? I know that she’s getting the pills because sex is important to both of us, but I’m worried about her health. Is there a pill that you could suggest?
Pill or No Pill?

Dear Pill:
You know that “on her rag” is not the proper technical term, right? I worry that you might approach a pharmacist or doctor with questions about rag control, and I’m sorry, I just don’t see that going well.
The “medicine” you’re looking for is just plain old birth control pills. While they certainly can cause people to be unable to become pregnant, that should not be a problem later (I hope much, much later) when your girlfriend is ready to have a baby. Regular pills will work if taken all month long, as will the fancy new ones sold specifically to limit a woman’s period to four times a year (sold as Seasonale). Any of these will require a doctor’s prescription, and I couldn’t be happier about that. You guys sound a little unclear on a number of concepts, which is fine as long as you’re not messing around with anything that could seriously screw up parts of her body if mishandled, like, oh, her endocrine system.

Looking up


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

In late 2006 several major art-market events — record-breaking auctions and 14 Miami Beach art fairs — provided a bracing contrast to a slew of exhibitions concerned with the immaterial, experiential, mystical, and social. These instances clearly illustrate the exciting, age-old tensions between the thrill of commerce and the quest for artistic integrity.
In November a Christie’s sale of impressionist and modern art yielded nearly half a billion dollars. A good chunk of that auction money was laid down for recovered Nazi art loot, a noble corrective yet one rooted in economic conditions, not necessarily philosophical or penitential ones. Big money seems to obliterate the pure intentions of art, though record price tags do have a way of speaking to a broader audience.
Meanwhile, the fanfare and brisk sales at the recent Miami art fairs — Art Basel Miami and satellite events — attest to a healthy market and, hopefully, the ability for artists to forge self-sustaining careers, not to mention allow San Francisco galleries to expose their wares to international collectors. In her heartening reportage on the Miami fairs, New York Times critic Roberta Smith noted how the events level the field of information and offer a platform for market resistance, pointing out artists who conceptually dare collectors through assaulting video and purposeful repetition of mundane imagery.
Much like the rest of the economy, flush with stock market upticks and the national budget’s creative accounting, art sales are solid, similar to those in the so-called go-go 1980s. Part of the thrill of the boom is the anxiety of a crash lurking in the future. So how does a thriving market — and all the commercialism that goes with it — affect the creation of new art and its reflection of contemporary culture?
In 2006 you didn’t have to look far to find examples of artists aiming to tackle our collective anxieties, either politically or spiritually, through their quest to envision the intangible. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s current Anselm Kiefer show, “Heaven and Earth,” embodies that idea as it surveys a German artist whose paintings are informed by alchemy, mythology, and Jewish mysticism. Kiefer makes large works addressing even bigger themes. He also has firm political convictions — he has consistently refused to enter the United States in protest against George W. Bush’s policies. It’s worth noting that Kiefer’s work hasn’t exactly seemed fashionable in recent years. Is his appearance now coincidence or zeitgeist?
“Heaven” inhabits the same gallery space that hosted “Matthew Barney: Drawing Restraint,” a sprawling exhibition as steeped in the artist’s celebrity and sex appeal as it was in Shinto references and other lofty themes. A hushed, almost religious vibe pervaded the proceedings as viewers looked up at the video monitors in quiet awe — or perhaps disbelief. Both Barney and Kiefer are comfortably blue chip, and their work sells even when they strive for deeper meaning.
A new strain of alternative art is being fostered at Southern Exposure, which this year put an emphasis on social interaction and artwork that unfolds in public places. Packard Jennings’s lottery tickets, available in local corner stores, offer scratch-off prizes to feed the mind, not the bank account, and Neighborhood Public Radio’s broadcasts traffic in community and dialogue. These programs have been driven by a seismic upgrade and the need to work off-site, but the thrust of the gallery’s program also revealed that bias in its actual building.
Taking on a more conventional gallery form was “Ghosts in the Machine,” the inaugural show in SF Camerawork’s impressive new space. Curator David Spalding expanded on the topic of shared history to suggest a sense of cultural haunting by unresolved past actions — those related to the Vietnam War, suicide bombings, and US racial tensions. The range of work was serious — and very much engaged in a yearning for art with staying power.
Mexico City curator Magali Arriola’s “Prophets of Deceit” at CCA Wattis Institute for the Contemporary Arts probed the troubling charisma of cult leaders like Jim Jones, as well as the persuasive qualities of cinema. It was a disturbing counterpoint to the wispy “Cosmic Wonder” at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, which included artists who, according to their press literature, “explore trance, ‘alternative’ realities, and the psyche.” While a major curatorial misfire that raised serious questions about the YBCA’s programming choices, “Cosmic Wonder” nonetheless points to interest in and tension between otherworldly themes and art world trends. The show, organized by neophyte curator Betty Nguyen, included young gallery darlings — a fair number of whom likely partied themselves into altered states in Miami Beach. It all goes to prove: there are multiple roads to artistic, financial, and spiritual enlightenment. SFBG

The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan (Penguin)
•Phil Collins, dünya dinlemiyor, SF Museum of Modern Art
•Andrea Bowers, “Nothing Is Neutral,” Redcat, Los Angeles
•Tavares Strachan, “Where We Are Is Always Miles Away,” Luggage Store
Battle in Heaven, directed by Carlos Reygadas
This Book Will Save Your Life, A.M. Homes (Viking)
Maquilopolis, directed by Vicky Funari and Sergio de la Torre
•Julia Christensen’s www.BigBoxReuse.com
•Takeshi Murata, “Silver Equinox,” Ratio 3
•Kathryn Spence, “Objects and Drawings,” Stephen Wirtz Gallery