Volume 41 Number 20

February 8 – February 20, 2007

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Feb. 20


Ron Jeremy

Ron Jeremy, more commonly known as the Hedgehog because of his bristly rotundity, has given hope and inspiration to many an awkward adolescent nervous about their newfound sexuality. Because, whether you’re male, female, straight, gay, or bi-curious, your first experience with pornography probably involved the Hedgehog. And the first thing you thought when you saw Jeremy shtupping some sexy, smutty babe was “Damn, if that guy can get laid, I’m golden.” He’s no Adonis, but that’s what’s so lovable about him: Jeremy never stops being the quintessential Regular Joe. He’ll be pimping his memoir, Ron Jeremy: The Hardest (Working) Man in Show Business, at the amazingly ill-named Virgin Megastore. (Duncan Scott Davidson)

7 p.m., free
Virgin Megastore
2 Stockton, SF
(415) 397-4525



Is Jucifer the name of a Melvins song? Like its riff-wielding forebears, this Athens, Ga., duo – composed of Amber Valentine and Ed Livengood – whips up a head-banging concoction of syrupy noise metal and roaring feedback that gives new meaning to the word doom. On their new album, If Thine Enemy Hunger (Relapse), the pair mingle brutal-sounding guitars with hyper drum urgency and grunge-afflicted hooks with dreamy vocals. Hell, King Buzzo must be shitting splintered drumsticks by now. (Chris Sabbath)

With Skyline Divide, Elba,
and Times of Desperation
9 p.m., $5
Stork Club
2330 Telegraph, Oakl.
(510) 444-6174



Feb. 19


Amiri Baraka

Amiri Baraka doesn’t fear controversy. The playwright, author, and former poet laureate of New Jersey is as notoriously outspoken as he is celebrated. Famous for The Dutchman, his confrontational play about race relations, he’s always pushed the proverbial envelope: his post 9/11 poem Somebody Blew Up America sparked criticism from the Anti-Defamation League and resulted in the revocation of his poet laureate title. At this event Baraka will read from his newest work, Tales of the Out and Gone, a collection of unpublished short fiction. (Hayley Elisabeth Kaufman)

7 p.m., free
City Light Books
261 Columbus, SF
(415) 362-8193


“Oscar Nominated Shorts”

Add a little mystery to your awards-show viewing experience by throwing down some bones on a favorite short. The two categories are playing in separate animated and live-action programs. On the live-action side, my affections are divided. I enjoyed West Bank Story, American Ari Sandel’s witty take on competing falafel stands in the title locale: the Muslim-owned Hummus Hut and the Jewish-owned Kosher King. I also appreciated Éramos Pocos about a slacker father-son duo whose first instinct after Mom ditches them is to dig Grandma out of the nursing home and start exploiting her superlative cooking skills. But my heart’s with The Saviour, from Australia’s Peter Templeman, in which a Mormon missionary falls for a married woman. (Cheryl Eddy)

In Bay Area theaters



Feb. 18


“Take 2: Women Revisiting Art History”

Many of us learned from our high school history teachers that unless we are careful, the more knuckleheaded maneuvers of our ancestors can – and will – be repeated. But mimicry can occasionally be used homeopathically to heal historic wrongs or at to least recognize a pattern from a new vantage point. From this perspective, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art curator Janet Bishop has pulled together an exhibition of works by nine contemporary female artists including Janine Antoni, Cindy Sherman, Shahzia Sikander, and Kara Walker, on the theme of art history: “Take 2: Women Revisiting Art History.” (Stacy Martin)

Through March 15
Tues. and Thurs.-Sat., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Wed., 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; Sun., noon-4 p.m.
Mills College Art Museum
5000 MacArthur, Oakl.
(510) 430-2164


Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts

Until fairly recently, the body’s primacy in dance has never been in doubt. Now along comes Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts, among a whole group of artists who are beginning to question the tangible, fleshly object that for many of us is the only absolute reality we can count on. Included in this program is the SF premiere of Inanimate Erotica, a duet about android lust, and The Reception, a work in progress being developed with UC Berkeley’s CITRIS 3-D tele-immersion lab. (Rita Felciano)

8 p.m., $15-$20
1310 Mission, SF
(415) 435-7552



Feb. 17



When’s the last time you thought about Aunt Jemima or Uncle Ben outside a breakfast or dinner context? I’ll bet it’s been even longer since you’ve thought about how they could work together to help a black football superstar play the game on his own terms. Instead of wallowing in your own thoughtlessness, check out Rust, the hilariously biting satire of cultural stereotypes, advertising myths, professional sports, and race relations in 21st-century America. (Aaron Sankin)

Through April 1
8:30 p.m., $25
Magic Theatre
Fort Mason Center, bldg. D
Marina at Laguna, SF
(415) 441-8822


Progressive inauguration celebration

Join the San Francisco Green Party at a shindig hosted by Krissy Keefer, former Green Party congressional candidate in the race against Rep. Nancy Pelosi, at Dance Mission Theater. Speakers include Chris Daly, Jane Kim, Sarah Lipson, Kim-Shree Maufas, Ross Mirkarimi, John Rizzo, and Mark Sanchez. (Deborah Giattina)

7-10 p.m., $7 suggested donation
Dance Mission Theater
3316 24th St., SF
(415) 701-7090





Feb. 15


Love Me Nots

The problem with bands with a retro vibe is that if they don’t pull it off just right, it’s a party at the wax museum. You know: everything is just so with the look and the sound, but where’s the heart? I’ve got to admit I had my doubts when I got In Black and White (Atomic A Go Go), by Phoenix’s Love Me Nots: they had the go-go boots and the skinny ties, but what was behind it? A meaty slab of badass ’60s garage ’n’ roll power drenched in Farfisa organ sauce and dredged through tasty blues bread crumbs, that’s what. Singer-organist Nicole Laurin implores listeners not to break her heart but listen to her voice – the perfect admixture of sass, sex, and soul – and it’s clear who’s the heartbreaker. (Duncan Scott Davidson)

With Tell Tale Heartbreakers
and Cult of Sue Todd
9pm, $5
Annie’s Social Club
917 Folsom, SF
(415) 974-1585


Glen Meadmore
and His Kuntry Band

A 6’ 8”, proudly homosexual, born-again Christian country singer with a sick sense of humor? Tell me more! Meadmore, that is. Legendary LA underground rocker-drag queen-actor Glen Meadmore was a sensational role model for young punk club fags – all 10 of us – in the ’80s. Then he saw the light, dropped the dress, donned a Stetson, and picked up some twang on the way to apocalyptic reinvention. Appearing as “The Hot, Horny ’n’ Born-Again Cowboy and his Kuntry Band,” Meadmore, who claims to pray a lot, can actually lick some country chops, as evidenced by his 2002 Cowboy Songs for Little Hustlers (Pervertidora). In the grand tradition of LA fag metalists such as Vaginal Cream Davis, Meadmore’s energetic mass of contradictions is itself enough to hold the stage, but on songs like “Traveltown USA” the banjo trumps the stance. (Marke B.)

With Brian Kenny Fresno
and Esmerelda Strange
9:30 p.m., $6
853 Valencia, SF
(415) 970-0012



feb. 14


Neon’s Valentine’s Day Underwear Dance Party

Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day sucks. What are we expected to do on this vomit-inducing holiday filled with foil-wrapped cheap chocolates, grotesque pink teddy bears, and tacky greeting cards slathered in glitter? Well, we can dance the pain away in our drawers and panties at Neon’s third annual Valentine’s Day Underwear Dance Party! Party highlights include a lingerie fashion show by Boi-oi-oing, portraits, a self-serve kissing booth, a sexy underwear contest, and a complimentary pants check. (Hayley Elisabeth Kaufman)

9 p.m., $10
Rickshaw Stop
155 Fell, SF
(415) 861-2011


“Black Heart Valentine’s Day”

Join your fellow misanthropes and rivetheads at the DNA Lounge as Los Angeles’s electro-industrial outfit Imperative Reaction take the stage in support of their newest album, As We Fall (Metropolis). Cohosted by Death Guild, DNA Lounge’s “Black Hearts Valentine’s Day” show also includes performances from Deathline International and Stormdrain, plus complimentary black heart cupcakes (some stuffed with free passes to the five-year anniversary of MEAT Industrial dance club the following night). (Nicole Gluckstern)

9 p.m., $15
DNA Lounge
375 11th St., SF
(415) 626-1409

Guardian Casualty Report



Self-publish or perish


SELF-PUBLISH OR PERISH Janelle Hessig’s comic zine Tales of Blarg has always been the 510’s version of the ark of the covenant. Each issue contains only the most important information and gossip from the Yay. Perhaps you have been at a show where a dead dog is thrown into an audience? Or you were part of a grave robbery? No? Well, Hessig has — and she’s made a comic about it. Tales of Blarg just celebrated its 15th birthday: the latest edition kick-starts with "Truth or Dare with Brontez," a failed attempt at the game with the popular SF cruiser himself that turns into a hysterical account of his notorious sex life. What do two wizards, Rim Job the clown, and a crackhead all have in common? Not much besides the fact that they all did something with or on our hero’s penis.

But who can blame Brontez? We all have vices. In another article, Heather Jewitt explores some of her favorite weaknesses, such as masturbating because "she deserves it" and pissing in her cat’s litter box. And haven’t we all wished at some point to play a guitar with someone else’s boner? Well, the Clorox Girls have already done it, and Down at Lulu’s hairstylist Seth Bogart gets the dirt.

But Tales of Blarg isn’t simply outrageous — though it is, kind of. This issue’s highlight: depression analyzed through Hessig’s trash goggles. Overall, the comic is not only inspiring but clever, as its editor uses her gift for sharp observations — and subtle jabs — to save it from breaking down with a flat in Cheesyville. Save a spot for Tales of Blarg in the punk rock hall of fame — because Hessig’s brand of farce will always have its pedal to the metal. (Vice Cooler)

Tales of Blarg ($3) is available at Needles and Pens, 3253 16th St., SF; Rock Paper Scissors, 2278 Telegraph, Oakl.; Down at Lulu’s, 6603 Telegraph, Oakl.; and www.gimmeaction.com.


We could be heroes


Justice League Heroes

(Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment; PS2, Xbox, PSP, Nintendo DS)

GAMER The best game to feature comic book heroes to date is Marvel vs. Capcom. Here we have heroes from the DC universe gathered together as the mighty Justice League, ready to stomp the guts out of fiends doing dirt. Pretty colors, special moves, funny dialogue, and a solid two-player mode combine for an entertaining gaming experience, but it’s not quite as fun as reading the comic books.

The story for Justice League Heroes was written by Dwayne McDuffie, who worked on the excellent Cartoon Network show Justice League Unlimited. He did a great job creating a story arc and added some genuinely funny material. The basic story: The Justice League has possession of a meteor. The meteor is communicating with Braniac, who is doing major damage all over the place. So the Justice League goes to work, and as you might expect, they get the job done. But then there’s a twist. Surprise is a nice game feature.

JLH was developed by Snowblind Studios, which is also responsible for Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. Like Dark Alliance, JLH is a dungeon crawler, a format typically reserved for D&D-type games with ogres, wizards, and other magical critters. Throughout the game, you play as various Justice League heroes: Superman, Batman, the Flash, Wonder Woman, Zatanna, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter are all in effect, and more characters and costumes can be unlocked during the game. The costumes actually influence each character’s abilities and special moves, which adds to the game’s replayability. In general, the heroes go out two at a time. You get to switch from one to the next by pressing a button, and whichever hero you’re not controlling will fight by your side with the help of fairly good AI. Unlockable characters include Aquaman and Hawkgirl. The two-player mode works well and makes the game move right along, because any time you die, the other player can revive you.

Game play is solid if somewhat simple. Hand-to-hand fights are best handled with button mashing, but special moves, like Batman summoning a swarm of bats, add dazzling cinematic effects. Each character has a mega and a super-mega attack mode. You can make the heroes who can fly do so by jumping and tapping a button. Unfortunately, they only fly a few feet off the ground. When you hit the button after jumping with heroes who can’t fly, they do a flip in the air or sort of glide slowly to the ground. The environment is destructible, so you can wing lampposts at villains.

Overall the game is fast paced and will probably hold your attention, thanks to a good story, funny one-liners, and a sweeping orchestral soundtrack. But comic book enthusiasts and nonnerds alike, beware: this game is so-so — so use your awesome judgment. Of course, it’ll be worth playing for mega–comic book fans, because any chance to interact with and even control one’s heroes is worth taking. Casual gamers will also enjoy the two-player mode, and fashion fiends will love the costume options. (Nate Denver)

Happy returns


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

A man hides from the world in a shabby seaside rooming house until two men arrive determined to take him away. The latter represent a kind of conformity, brutal and ruthless in its determination and tactics. The turning point in their showdown with the wayward man will be the birthday party they help his smitten elderly landlady throw for her sole tenant.

The mystery-laden simplicity of The Birthday Party ‘s plot provides ample room for absorbing the subtle details of the relationships it presents, and Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre brings those out expertly. Artistic director Tom Ross’s production is not only sure and intelligent but palpably enthusiastic in its essaying of this nearly 50-year-old play, which is both Harold Pinter’s first full-length work and Aurora’s first production of his work since he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005.

A scene of domestic nonbliss opens the play: housewife Meg (Phoebe Moyer) and deck-chair attendant Petey (Chris Ayles) are an aging couple mired in a domestic routine whose laconic, staccato rhythms are bleakly comedic. Their empty chat introduces the mix of precise characterization and the ruse that the play will go on developing. Their frowsy little boarding house, meanwhile, offers (in the choice details of Richard Olmsted’s set design) a muted clash of wallpaper, a lumpy armchair with soiled cushions, and a small, serviceable dining table among an obligatory arrangement of homey knickknacks. The place, it seems, is avoided like the plague by all but permanent resident Stanley (a dyspeptic antihero brilliantly realized by James Carpenter).

Vaguely suggesting guilt, despondency, or disgust, Stanley rises late, jabs at his cornflakes, complains about them and the tea, lights a cig, then spends the day doing nothing. The psychosexual aspects of this ad hoc family get played up grotesquely in Meg’s mommy lust for the younger man, in the clash of her youthful eagerness and frumpy exterior, and maybe just a bit in the ultimately impotent patriarch Petey’s playful moniker. The seductive girl next door, Lulu (Emily Jordan), and the arrival of Goldberg (Julian Lopez-Morillas) and McCann (Michael Ray Wisely) up the ante, threatening to sunder the bonds of the little household.

The genteel Goldberg and strong-arm McCann are precise and lively versions of their terrorist types and flaunt their respective Jewish and Irish Catholic backgrounds just enough to give their authoritarianism a religious as well as secular inflection. But power’s way is the way of the playground, and the power play by Goldberg and McCann has a lot of play in it. They’re keen on a set of games that never leave them far from grade school bullies.

The birthday party, the central event of the play, provides a kind of formal, ritual occasion for children still fighting, struggling, and pushing each other around, stubbornly refusing to give any ground. The pushing and shoving never really stops, but the party offers a set of temporary restrictions — new parameters for the game. And it’s a literal game of blind man’s bluff that caps the dreary, drunken celebration at which Stanley (who insists it is not his birthday) is the unwilling guest of honor.

Fifty years of modern theater, including not least Pinter’s subsequent work, have no doubt made a play like The Birthday Party more approachable, but it remains too esoteric for many. Instead of the elusive language used in The Birthday Party, audiences often expect something more akin to a crossword puzzle — enter the appropriate words in their respective boxes, and you achieve a definitive solution: nice, neat, and self-contained.

But if The Birthday Party is a puzzle, it is open-ended and without a solution, or rather with a series of partial and contingent solutions. Words are not really evidence here. Evidence has to be gathered between and behind the lines.

As if to underscore this limit of language, Stanley’s final word isn’t a word at all. It’s a horrifying howl that rises like bile in the throat of a man who has finally been tamed, blinded, and led off. As mysterious as it is immediate, it might be, fatalistically speaking, his last gesture of defiance, a final assertion of individuality and independence. More hopefully, it may be the first expression of some new measure of understanding for which there are no words yet. (Nine across: what a new animal sounds like.) Either way, something has happened. That much is certain. So happy birthday. *


Through March 4

Wed.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 and 7 p.m., $28–$50

Aurora Theatre

2081 Addison, Berk.

(510) 843-4822



Gimme Grammy?


› Kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Strip away the pre-Grammy bashes and after-parties, the hunger pangs, the monstrous Staples Center and the surrounding downtown LA sketchiness, and the mandatory earful you get from radio broadcasters playing brain-numbing Grammys numbers games as if they were rattling off sports stats — and I’d say I’m glad to have made the five-hour drive to the awards show. I feel privileged to have camped out at the arena’s media center for almost 12 hours to hurl polite questions at the Dixie Chicks, Ludacris, T.I., etc., at that most bemoaned of ceremonies, because I learned so much about the music industry’s "biggest night of the year" Feb. 11. Start with this grain of wisdom from pretelecast host Joe Satriani: "Remember, it’s not whether you win or lose but how good you look at all the after-parties tonight," and go forward, ladies and gentlemen, to "What I Learned at the Grammys":

1) Skip many of the pretelecast awards, unless you’re dying to see who won Best Spoken Word, Polka, or Surround Sound albums. None of the stars show up for these unless they’re presenting. Only so-called niche artists (read: Hawaiian, American Indian, gospel) still interested in industry recognition bother showing up before 5 p.m.

2) If, however, there’s screaming for a nominee during the pretelecast handout, you can bet the band is there. Wolfmother, for instance, got a load of whoops when its name was called for Best Hard Rock Album — and indeed Rob Tyner–’froed vocalist Andrew Stockdale eventually made it from outer Siberia to the stage. Backstage he joked, "I thought this award was reserved for the permanent residents of Bel-Air."

3) Speak the truth. Then stick to it. Even the Dixie Chicks couldn’t honestly say they made the Best Record and Album, just two of the five Grammys they won, but they did gratefully acknowledge that their awards were symbolic — and no less meaningful. "I’m definitely aware that we were up against a lot of great music," Natalie Maines told the media. "But I definitely think people had an inspiration and different motivation in voting for us."

4) Be nice — and better, be funny. Media wage slaves in regulation black knew that in the tightly controlled Grammy universe, we best not ask untoward questions for fear of being ejected and disinvited in the future. We must take humility — and humor — lessons from Lewis Black, winner of Best Comedy Album, who sputtered, "I never win shit, so I’m astonished."

5) Keep the American Idol appearances to a minimum (thank the lord that Kelly Clarkson didn’t make another album this year, and pass the ammunition). Carrie Underwood looked terrified as she sang "San Antonio Rose" during the tribute to Lifetime Achievement honoree Bob Wills.

6) Be from Texas or better still, Houston: the Dixie Chicks, Beyoncé, Chamillionaire, "My Grammy Moment" newb Robyn Troup.

7) Skew elderly, as usual. Stevie Wonder and Tony Bennett score before silly but infectious monster hits "Hips Don’t Lie" and "Promiscuous"? Complain into the hearing aid.

8) Concentrate on giving the people memorable performances, with tasteful production à la Gnarls Barkley’s "Crazy," complete with airline pilot uniforms and an eerie Lost–as–a–modern opera feel. With the exception of the messily mixed Ludacris and Earth, Wind and Fire production, most of the show was solid.

9) Keep your celebrated poonanny shots to yourself. Christina Aguilera, known for her own supposed flash at a Grammy telecast a few years back, tactfully fielded a question backstage on how to leave a limo gracefully, unlike her former Mickey Mouse Club mate Britney Spears. "Are you setting me up to say, ‘Keep your legs closed’?" asked the petite blond, working that retro vibe in black lace and a simultaneously amused and prim attitude.

10) When all else fails, baffle them with bullshit — or designer body modification mishaps. Frail, in a gold tie and matching yellow splotched jacket, Ornette Coleman waxed oblique and philosophical, improvising a mumbled hepcat monologue on sound freely, incomprehensively, and far out there backstage after his Lifetime Achievement win. Coleman sounded utterly cracked until he brought it all home: "I’m only saying what I’m saying because I want to hurry up and get this over with." Rim shot!

Grammy’s only surreal moment was the instant Smokey Robinson’s strangely erased-looking, waxy brow and unnaturally bright blue eyes appeared on TV as he came out to sing "The Tracks of My Tears" alongside a wildly energetic, trampoline-bouncing, handstanding Chris Brown. Had the Motown songwriting genius been body-snatched and replaced by a Botox victim from Planet Zanthar? A woman reading my notes on Robinson’s tweaked face over my shoulder told me I had to write about it. "His wife is my godmother," she swore. "I went up to him last night at a party and said, ‘You look like a demon!’ He takes care of himself, but someone needs to tell him." Speaking truth to legend? It could become a habit. *

A gourmet ghetto


Although Noe Valley has become quite tony in the past decade, the neighborhood’s commercial district seems to be developing a slight case of schizophrenia, at least in the matter of comestibles. On one hand, chic little food shops abound, selling fancy cheeses, coffee, gelato, baked goods, and wine — but on the other, there is an area of darkness at the center of things, on the main drag between Noe and Sanchez streets.

On the south side of 24th Street, we find the corpse of the Real Food Company, which unceremoniously shut down in August 2003. The empty building has lain there ever since, dark and silent, windows papered over. The occasional bit of buzz suggests fresh permits have been taken out or workers have been seen inside, but these are like Elvis sightings. People are becoming inured to them, while the building sinks slowly into slumdom. There are rumors that the building’s new corporate owners plan to tear it down and replace it with something more up-to-date, with housing on the upper levels, but if that is the plan, the powers-that-be should note that it’s already been tried a few doors to the west, with a (so far) conspicuous lack of success: unoccupied apartments above blank storefronts.

Across the way, meantime, Bell Market continues to twist in the wind. Last August it was announced that Kroger, the store’s parent company, had agreed to sell the store (and most of its Cala-Bell siblings) to its former owner. The deal was to close in December. In mid-December, an employee told me that the closing would occur in January or maybe February. My neighbor said she’d heard it would be in March. Now the Noe Valley Voice is reporting (in its February issue) that the sale of the 24th Street store (though not of the others) has fallen through altogether. Details are vague but seem to have to do with the lease term — Kroger’s control of the property lapses in 2009. That’s a pretty tight window for a new owner trying to rejuvenate a business.

It’s possible that someone has plans for the site that don’t include an aging supermarket building and a homely, if useful, parking lot out front. But there is much to be said for neighborhood grocery stores, which, if nothing else, don’t have to be driven to — driving being, in the city, a drag.

Paul Reidinger

› paulr@sfbg.com

Robe of glory


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

"The Jim Kweskin Jug Band was sort of the first group of goofballs who didn’t wear uniforms, who didn’t have set patter. It was the acoustic precursor of the Grateful Dead," Geoff Muldaur says on the phone from Los Angeles. "Bob Weir got our first album and ran over to Jerry and said, ‘We’ve gotta form a jug band. You’ve gotta hear this shit!’ "

Before iTunes and Pandora.com, getting your hands on a new record was sometimes like receiving a password to a part of your spirit you didn’t know existed. Since Muldaur’s early days with Kweskin and blues integrator Paul Butterfield, his vocal chops have become legendary at the very least. "There are only three white blues singers," Richard Thompson once said. "Geoff Muldaur is at least two of them." Muldaur has been an equally powerful force in the interpretation and expansion of the American songbook.

On "Wait ‘Til I Put On My Robe," one of the most moving songs on Muldaur’s 2000 solo album, Password (Hightone), there is an immediate feeling of ascension as Muldaur’s sings, "Going up the river so chilly and cold / Chills the body but not the soul." The stunning arrangement of this traditional gospel tune comes from Clarence Clay and William Scott, two blind African American street musicians recorded in Philadelphia in 1961. It sounds like Muldaur’s back in ’61 joining in on what he describes as the "weird, modal, wonderful, jumping" harmonies.

Although he was an essential part of the exponential surge that happened in the folk and blues scene in the ’60s, Muldaur is still in awe of the musical movement. He assures me that no matter what I’ve heard about those times in Cambridge, Mass.; Woodstock, NY; San Francisco; and beyond, "it’s all true! When I was hanging out with Jim Kweskin, Fritz Richmond, Bill Keith, and Maria [Muldaur, his wife at the time], I just assumed that’s how life was and that we were just sort of good. But the combination of those people was unmatchable. Bill Keith left Bill Monroe to join the jug band. Maria was shocking — she was so good."

With the exceptions of a quickie gig at the Lincoln Center in 2001 and a tribute concert in Japan for Fritz Richmond after the king of the jug and washtub bass died in 2005, Muldaur and Kweskin haven’t had a chance to really sit down and play together for many years. Muldaur is as excited as anybody for their reunion at the Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse. "Just playing with Kweskin, man — it’s magic," he says. "Look, I go to the gym so I can keep this shit up!"

Playing in Berkeley will be a metaphysical homecoming. Muldaur lived in Mill Valley from 1988 to ’89 and would sneak across the bridge to revisit places where he had jammed in the ’60s. "When [the Jim Kweskin Jug Band] came out to the West Coast at first, to LA, it was like oil and water," Muldaur says. "But when we came to San Francisco and Berkeley, we were right at home because there were already freaks like us. The jug band and the scene in Cambridge was very much like in Berkeley, but Berkeley stayed that way."

Terry Gilliam told Muldaur his crew members used to get on their knees every morning and pray to Muldaur’s version of "Brazil," which gave the 1985 film its name. "It represented this insane, wacky, other place in reality," Muldaur says. With a major jug band documentary and an immense CD set charting Muldaur’s influences in the works, that other place in reality will soon be here to stay. *


With Jim Kweskin

Fri/16, 8 p.m., $19.50

Freight and Salvage Coffee House

1111 Addison, Berk.

(510) 548-1761


From hardcore to soft


What happens when you can fit your entire tour into a pickup truck? When your song can follow a Neil Young track in a juke joint? When you’re able to blend your steel guitar with indie rock unironically? What happens when you stop playing loud and start getting real?

Things get really, really good.

Could this be the culmination of what was intended when Armchair Martian guitarist-vocalist Jon Snodgrass and All frontperson Chad Price decided to unplug their amps and form Drag the River? Now — a decade after these hardcore dudes decided to play it slow, low, and rootsy — we’re left wondering how anyone else can lay claim to the most whiskey-soaked of genres, country rock. Staking thematic ground between Bruce Springsteen and the Minutemen, their sixth album, It’s Crazy (Suburban Home, 2006), builds icons from the shells of the down-and-out, romanticizes the working class, and casually explores Americana motifs. It’s Crazy‘s strained, simple "Mr. Crews" pulls us through the tough times of the wayward misanthrope: "Words are hard and bulletproof. Are we monsters? Are we fools? Rednecks, rejects, lonely losers …" "Leavin’ in the Morning" is a sparse charge through failed romance, and "Beautiful and Damned" covers the heart-wrenchingly hopeless category, while "Amazing G." gives an anthemic nod to the misguided barroom girls of the world. "Well, she once believed in Jesus," Price sings, "but she never believed in love. Now she worships at the altar of alcohol." And with a swollen sway, "Dirty Lips" fetishizes the hard-worn woman: "You must be talking too much shit — someone’s gonna smash your pretty lips."

Fan favorite "Me and Joe Drove Out to California" is straight stadium country — the kind that makes you want to drive and drive and drive — and in this, Drag the River electrify the essence of the best country songs, crossing state lines, raising hell, and chasing down your own good times.

Track 13 is so much more than just a title track: it’s a welcome reprise of the entire album and a reminder that this is not kitsch country — this is the hard stuff. In fact, one might have difficulty pegging Drag the River as alt-country if not for the past musical affiliations of its members. Shedding pretense and skin, Drag the River provide their brittle bones for our consideration and show us what veteran punk rockers are capable of. (K. Tighe)


With Tim Barry of Avail and Hannalei

Fri/16, 8 p.m., call for price


1600 17th St., SF

(415) 503-0393



So fresh, so clean


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Some weeks ago I ran by Melrose Middle School in East Oakland to catch DJ Fresh in action. Voted third-best DJ in the United States at the International Turntablist Federation finals in 1999, the 26-year-old veteran is a nationwide presence in hip-hop and handled the 1s and 2s behind figures such as Nas and Common before going on to produce a series of album-length projects during the past two years with Bay Area luminaries such as Mistah FAB, J-Stalin, and Sac-Town kingpin Smigg Dirtee. But the gig at Melrose was a little different: an afternoon class in rap and production for a bunch of mildly rambunctious middle schoolers. (He teaches two groups there, in addition to an adult education course at Eastside Alliance in Oakland.)

"This is my good class," he said with a wry smile, and in a way his performance managing the kids is more impressive to me than his two national tours as Nas’s DJ for Stillmatic and God’s Son (Sony, 2001 and 2002 respectively). Laid-back, allowing the students to address him as DJ Fresh, he can still rock the don’t-mess-with-me teacher mode when necessary, commanding respect and obedience. It’s something you need a knack for.

Fresh was born in Baltimore and moved with his mother to San Jose at age nine. He spent his teens going back and forth between the coasts, developing his talents on piano as well as turntables. "I tell people I started DJing when I was nine," he said, "because I was on them things, fucking with it every day." Inspired by older brothers DJ LS1 and DJ Dummy, who remained back East, the teenage Fresh joined 12-Inch Assassins, a clique of battle DJs featuring his siblings and DJ Chaps.

LS1 went on to DJ for DMX and more recently G-Unit, while Dummy worked with Onyx and currently DJs for Common. Through Dummy, Fresh got to perform at his first major rap shows, spinning at a number of Common gigs. By 18, Fresh was back in the Bay Area, only to be recruited by Nas, whose tours really put him on the map.

"The nigga just called me up one morning," Fresh recalled. "I knew it was going to happen, but I’m the kind of person, I’ll believe it when I see it. He was, like, ‘Have you done any major shows?’ I kinda lied. My brother told me, ‘Before you tell him what you want, tell him to make you an offer.’ So he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. His manager called me back the next day, and it’s been on since then."

"After my second tour with him, I went to school," Fresh continued. "I took that money and used it for my schooling over at Expression in Emeryville. The tour shit is cool, but I didn’t want my eggs in one basket. I went for sound engineering — I learned a lot of shit there." Though many rap producers eschew such formal training for fear of losing their autodidactic uniqueness, Fresh is a prime example of someone whose education has only enhanced his natural talent. Check, for example, the mix on his 2006 collaboration with J-Stalin, The Real World: West Oakland (FreshInTheFlesh). The sound is spacious — huge — clean and clear as a bell, requiring technical virtuosity behind the boards. Combined with his knowledge of ’70s and ’80s R&B — "What I See," for example, interpolates "Strawberry Letter 22" — Fresh’s beats immediately stand out.

"When I make my beats, I still got the DJ mentality," Fresh said. "Right when you hear it, it’s catchy. When you doing a party, you trying to keep it cracking, keep it off the hook. I take a lot of old shit and re-create it and reflip it. Bring it back with 808s and claps and all that good stuff." While such music could hardly be described as hyphy, it was, in fact, Mistah FAB who first put Fresh on the map in the Bay, freestyling on a 2005 full-length in Fresh’s main series, The Tonite Show (FreshInTheFlesh).

"It was before FAB had blew up," Fresh pointed out. "We had a song called ‘We Go Stupid in the Bay.’ It had a buzz, so that was my first establishment. Then he needed his DVD made — The Freestyle King. So we swapped. I edited the whole shit. That put me on blast more too."

Both the DVD and The Tonite Show helped fuel the increasing buzz around FAB’s main album, Son of a Pimp (Thizz, 2005), a process Fresh hopes to replicate for FAB’s upcoming Sony disc, The Yellow Bus Rider. A second FAB-hosted Tonite Show is projected for a March release.

This year promises to be a big one for Fresh: His gang of impending Tonite Show releases includes a compilation with his frequent collaborators due Feb. 23, as well as The Tonite Show with DJ Fresh, a mixtape-style installment of Fresh DJing his own music, slated for late February on Koch Records. He’s also shooting beats at his previous big-name associates — soon to drop are Tonite Shows starring Beeda Weeda and J-Stalin, Nump of "I Got Grapes" fame, the Acorn neighborhood phenom Shady Nate, and even Nas himself — and he intends to start a production team, the Whole Shebang, with Jamon Dru, 10AK, and Tower, an extraordinarily deep-voiced rapper who’s a cousin of Richie Rich. To top a furious schedule, Fresh has a radio show, running Mondays through Fridays on the first and third weeks of every month on Rapbay.com, called The World’s Freshest Hour.

"He’s just a hustlin’ dude," FAB remarked. "He’s always on his grind, and I respect that. He’s very humble, and that’s what makes working with him so easy." *




Underworld meets underground


› johnny@sfbg.com

A freeway is viewed from a distance in pitch-black night as oncoming white dots (the fronts of cars) and retreating red dots (their backs) hop like tiny Lite-Brites from one spot to another. It’s a cinematic atmosphere as potent as a dream; this first shot from William E. Jones’s Film Montages (for Peter Roehr) isn’t the kind of image one might associate with porn. In fact, highly poetic urban documentary was commonplace in ’70s and early ’80s gay porn. Directors such as Fred Halsted, Christopher Rage, and Peter Berlin used film to creatively explore and express sexual identity before urban gay life was attacked by AIDS and vampirized by mainstream consumerism. For Jones, the works of these underworld auteurs contain an endless array of sidelines to rediscover and uncover. Instead of excavating the era’s graphic, condom-free sex, he spotlights the erotically charged spaces around it.

With a feature doc about Latino Smiths fans (2004’s Is It Really So Strange?) on his résumé, Jones knows about hidden subcultural histories, his own included. He might be considered the unsung talent associated with the new queer cinema of the early ’90s. A few of the era’s bigger names (Todd Haynes, Gregg Araki) have since moved deeper into Hollywood, while others (Jennie Livingston, Tom Kalin) seem trapped in creative lockdown. Jones’s semiautobiographical 1991 feature, Massillon, was, along with Haynes’s Superstar, the most experimental and exciting formal work when the movement was cresting; since then his output has been infrequent and varied. Whereas Massillon (a huge influence on Jenni Olson’s recent San Francisco–set The Joy of Life) was shot, with oft-gorgeous results, on film, subsequent Jones works such as 1997’s unconventional biography Finished and the self-explanatory 1998 short The Fall of Communism as Seen in Gay Pornography (which would make for a perfect mini–double bill with Phil Collins’s 1999 How to Make a Refugee) primarily reframe preexistent video footage for new narrative purposes.

Last year, however, Jones experienced a renaissance in terms of output. Three of at least five works he completed during 2006 will be screened at the Pacific Film Archive this week; alas, Mansfield 1962, one of the best and a hot document of legally sanctioned homophobia, isn’t among them. Its title notwithstanding, Film Montages is the one that favors sensory pleasure over discursive pursuits. A tribute to the editing of the late German experimental filmmaker Roehr, it magnifies the visual and sonic textures of pre-AIDS gay porn through a series of short shots, initially presented in times-four repetitions. Wonderfully chunky bass lines and sinister-cold keyboard stabs, images of hands grazing against each other and over black leather, close-ups of tape recorders with Maxell C-90 tapes, campy Germanic voice-overs discussing men "who shyly moved about without ehhhvvver exchanging a word" — they all go through four-step paces, establishing a rhythmic musicality. Then Jones’s montage lands on an orgiastic still of four entwined male bodies, and he further emphasizes its languor — a quality now nonexistent, as Daniel Harris has noted, due to current porn’s bored god–playing–with–hairless dolls couplings — by increasing the repetition. From there the masculine noise of boots scuffling on a floor and snippets of threatening dirty talk about making "a real man’s man" lead to an ending that teases around the edges of climax with fetishistic fervor and skill.

In comparison, More British Sounds possesses an overtly argumentative politicism. There Jones matches images from the 1986 gay porn movie The British Are Coming with a soundtrack of uncannily current posh snob remarks from the Jean-Luc Godard–directed Dziga Vertov Group’s 1969 movie See You at Mao, a.k.a. British Sounds. Class warfare and sexual cannibalism are stripped bare, teased with a whip, tattooed, suckled, and showered in a mere eight minutes. To paraphrase Jones, More British Sounds counters the complete lack of homosexuality in Godard’s films, rephrasing the French auteur’s famous remark that all you need to make a film is a girl and a gun — in this case all you need are some boys and a locker room.

The contents of the 59-minute v.o. aren’t so clearly delineated, and the frisson they produce might not be as intense — though for some viewers, that might be due to a familiarity with the source material, whether it be Halsted’s 1972 L.A. Plays Itself or tape recordings of Jean Genet and Rosa von Prauheim spouting off presciently about homosexual fatalism and conservatism. Not so much a mashup as a metamaze odyssey through the subways, nighttime ghetto alleys, and other spaces of pre-AIDS and pre-Internet gay cruising, v.o. doesn’t take its title from voice-over — even if the abbreviation does suggest that facet, which is dominant in many Jones films — so much as version originale, a French term used for films presented in their original language with subtitles. Subtitles over a bare bottom doesn’t make art, but in this case it makes for ripe nostalgia. Moving from a record needle into the dark hole of a Victrola like some dirty, dude-loving cousin of Inland Empire, v.o. might not end up anywhere in particular, but it finds a hell of a lot — Colonel Sanders’s face, gay-power graffiti, Halsted’s red Ranchero, a Peter Berlin S-M romp in the underground recesses of the SF Art Institute — along the way. *


Tues/20, 7:30 p.m., $4–$8

Pacific Film Archive

2575 Bancroft Way, Berk.

(510) 642-0808


For an extensive interview with Jones, go to our Pixel Vision blog at www.sfbg.com/blogs/pixel_vision.

Snoop on the East side


“Christmas on Earth” in February


The pull quote snagged by most critics from John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus was Justin Bond’s quip "It’s like the ’60s, only with less hope," delivered while surveying the myriad sexual couplings and groupings in his salon’s back room. Bond’s pithy line encapsulated the film’s ideal of community through polymorphous perversity, even if that vision is tempered by an awareness of the initial sexual revolution’s blind spots and a hangover from the 20 years of sexual-identity politicking in its wake. Yet Mitchell’s film is neither jaded nor self-serious and never pimps out its graphic sex scenes for purposes of cynical titillation. Reflecting the loose, workshop methods with which Mitchell and his cast developed the film, sex in Shortbus is for the most part something revelatory, experimental, and at times quite playful. But Mitchell draws the narrative parallels a little too neatly: when else could the film’s sex therapist finally achieve orgasm but at the story’s, uh, climax?

As the centerpiece of the inaugural screening of San Francisco Cinematheque’s four-part "Oppositional and Stigmatized" series of iconoclastic, taboo-confronting cinema, Barbara Rubin’s Christmas on Earth — one of the most sexually explicit and formally innovative works of ’60s underground film — offers a historic correlative to Mitchell’s degree zero approach to filming real-time sex. Made the same year as Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures, Rubin’s joyously anarchic 1963 record of an orgy held in a New York City apartment is remarkable not simply because Rubin was 19 when she made it but because it porously images and imagines sex in ways Mitchell’s uptight narrative only partially succeeds at pulling off. Christmas presents sex as something messy, spontaneous, and ongoing, not as an existential telos.

Comprising two superimposed projections, one nestled inside the other, the film both abstracts and renders in extreme close-up the bodies and activities of its four male and sole female participants. The projectionist is encouraged to add to the kaleidoscopic effect by continually changing color slides in front of the two reels. The dual-screen presentation, coupled with Rubin’s prescribed soundtrack of live rock ‘n’ roll radio, creates a striking and often humorous image interplay. Penises flit about the outer projection like fat cherubs, while at other times, a vagina becomes the curvilinear landscape within which the inner projection’s extended sequences of man-on-man action take place. There are money shots, yet there is nothing hardcore about Rubin’s film. Instead, it revels in a kind of ecstatic innocence, gleefully and willfully flaunting its disregard for categories such as gay and straight, reportage and assemblage, skin flick and art flick.

Despite the singularity of its vision, Christmas wasn’t created in a vacuum. As Andrew Belasco’s recent illuminating portrait of Rubin and her work in Art in America reveals, the film came out of a mid-’60s New York creative milieu, set on shaking up an aesthetically and sexually uptight America, in which Rubin played an active part. Whether as a filmmaker, organizer, agitator, or all three at once, Rubin was a connective node for many countercultural figures. The creative collaborations and events that arose from her catalytic networking are as much a testament to her involvement with the scene as the small body of cinematic work she left behind.

Rubin’s misdiagnosed depression led to a stint at the Silver Hill rehab clinic in Connecticut, where she supposedly gave Edie Sedgwick bulimia tips. After being bailed out, she hooked up with Jonas Mekas and his Film-Maker’s Cooperative. Rubin became Mekas’s indispensable right hand; he was her mentor and greatest champion. Her list of associates and friends included Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg, and the Velvet Underground (whom she took Warhol to see for the first time in 1965). She also participated in Warhol and the Velvets’ traveling multimedia onslaught, the "Exploding Plastic Inevitable," and served as one of the Factory’s many informal staff photographers. By the end of the decade, though, she’d become a devoted student of Jewish mysticism and distanced herself from her younger, rabble-rousing persona. Entrusting the cinematic artifacts of her earlier life to Mekas, Rubin moved to France. Over the years she gradually severed her New York contacts, eventually dying in isolation in 1980. She was only 35.

Given our historic hindsight, Christmas might seem quaint or naive, its dialectic vision of guiltless sexual pleasure clearly the product of an earlier time. While not necessarily hopeful in the sense that Bond characterizes the 1960s in Shortbus, Rubin’s best-known film is very much suffused with a belief in the potential for new cinematic, sexual, and interpersonal possibilities. It is a belief deliciously put into practice by the contingency built into the screening experience. It is a belief not too distant from the aims of Mitchell’s own Lower East Side story. (Matt Sussman)


Sun/18, 7:30 p.m., $6–$8

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, screening room, SF

(415) 978-2787



The new woof


› superego@sfbg.com

SUPER EGO "If you’re snorting coke out of the hollow end of a Parliament filter, you just don’t care anymore," quoth supervixen Beccalicious, standing outside Madrone Lounge, spattered by a light drizzle. But I did care — I do care. The night’s a mosaic of throbbing subbacultchas, and there’re far too many amateur jibber-jabberers hopped up on Bolivian marching powder out there already, waxing the floor with their tongues. Shut up and dance, say I. There’s spittle dripping from your numb mustache.

Thus concludes the soapbox moment portion of our broadcast. Anybody got a smoky bump?

I was heading to Basket, the monthly bear party at the Transfer. It was its last night there before moving to Eight in SoMa. The Transfer was suddenly sold three weeks ago under curious circumstances — its future is still in doubt — but Basket’s promoters, Kuma SF, had already planned a move because the place was too darn small and hot for them. (Old bear joke: "How was the bear bar?" "It was packed! There must have been 10 guys there!") My experience bore that out. There were a lot more than 10 hirsute revelers in attendance, and I couldn’t even squeeze in, let alone see in — the windows were steamier than Eros with a pipe leak. But from all the rumbling of the sidewalk to the boom of techno-lite beats, I knew it was a jammin’ jamboree.

What the heck happened to the bear community? Last time I looked — and, being the desirable cub that I am, I did a lot of looking — it was all flannel shirts, hairy backs, classic rock and country tunes, and an aversion to hip-hop and house that often bordered on racism. Bear with a capital "B" has been around for more than 15 years now — once an important corrective to mainstream images of gay men in the ’90s, it’s still going strong. (This weekend’s International Bear Rendezvous, hosted by Bears of SF, will flood the streets with yee-hawin’ roly-polies.) But any movement that fronted a chubby Marlboro Man masculinity — one composed, in reality, of screaming queens elated at the prospect of unselfconsciousness — was bound to warp into parody.

"It all started out with a philosophy of inclusion," says Orme Dominique of Kuma, which is hosting a giant glamourama IBR after-party, Kavity. "But there was all this rejection of youth culture that second-generation bears found too restrictive. We wanted to dance and be really creative outside the flannel-and-boots thing. A lot of the older bears became the pigs in Animal Farm."

There’s been some kicking against the C&W aesthetic for a while. Cute cub DJ Jew-C hosted a pumping bear-oriented house party at the Powerhouse in the early ’00s, and hairy dreamboat DJ Jonathan’s been swathing bars like 440 Castro (formerly Daddy’s) with hard techno for what seems like forever. The disco-tinged, mess o’ fun biweekly Planet Big at the Stud is almost two years old — and is throwing two big parties during the IBR. And then there’s Sweat, the giant bear monthly event from Gus Presents and Castro Bear (happening twice during the IBR), which many new bear promoters view as the standard their parties play against.

Kuma, which started out, according to Dominique, as the "Burning Man camp of Lazy Bear Weekend," now has several bear shindig-throwing chapters around the US. The success of its SF parties and the twice monthly, bass-heavy after-hours Bearracuda at Deco — thrown by notorious drag queen Rentecca and her luscious bf, Rob, and also hosting an IBR after-party — confirm the emergence of a new ursine outlook: bears don’t need to be line dancers to hit the floor. Just make sure there’re snacks.

Of course, with all the up-and-coming bear name DJs, shirtless stomping, and up-till-dawn antics, the new gen may be in danger of becoming the circuit queens their forebears railed against, but the promoters seem to be doing their best to prevent that by keeping in mind the prime reason for partying: wild fun. It’s Bear 2.0, and I think I’m absolutely intrigued. *






Fri/16, 9 p.m.–4 a.m., $18 presale, $35 door


1015 Folsom, SF

(415) 431-7444



Fri/16, 9 p.m.–2 a.m.; Sun/17, 6 p.m.–2 a.m.; $5


399 Ninth St., SF

(415) 863-6623





First and third Sat., 9 p.m.–3 a.m., $5


510 Larkin, SF

(415) 346-2025



Lemongrass and old grease


› paulr@sfbg.com

The Bad Planner’s Guide to the Galaxy is a little thin in the Valentine’s Day section. It could be that the Bad Planner isn’t very romantic, or it could be that the Bad Planner just isn’t a very good planner — doesn’t get on the stick weeks or months in advance to make restaurant reservations the way our society’s many compulsive, air-traffic-controller types do. The result is often, on the enchanted evening in question, an interlude of sweaty panic: Where to go? Who will have us at the last minute? Or should we just go out for burritos or order a pizza to be delivered in a cardboard box stained by grease and possibly eaten from same?

Yet bad planners are people too. People with feelings. People who deserve to eat out on occasion. And now there is room for them in the hallowed dining halls of Valentine’s Day. The room is at Rasha, a Thai restaurant that opened in November 2006 in the former Kelly’s Burger’s space near the Roxie Film Center, 16th Street near Valencia, center of the galaxy, if not the known universe, for our local cohort of the hungry hip, as well as for interlopers of the bolder sort from farther afield.

There are so many restaurants in this area now, so many of them unusual and worthy, that opening yet another one could be seen either as an act of superfluousness or unimpeachable business logic. (One of my New Year’s resolutions was to use the word impeach in every one of these pieces for a year, and while I have already crashed, it’s still fun to try.) Because places to eat abound, the need for a newcomer is no better than marginal, but — on the other hand — since the sidewalks are filled with hungry prowlers looking at menu cards, the chances seem pretty good that sooner or later they’re going to look at yours.

So far the ravenous classes don’t seem to have taken much note of Rasha ("Business is slow," our server confided to us one arctic evening, and he could only have confided to us, since the place was otherwise empty), but when they do, they are likely to be pleasantly surprised. Yes, the setting still smells of grease, of the ghosts of countless burgers past; and yes, the bordello-red paint job does lack a certain subtlety. But the space itself is quite nice, with a long run of windows down a narrow lane, Albion; and there is good neon signage that shouts out into the night.

Then there is the food, which is quite good and affordable across the spectrum, from familiar to un-. Crowded near the former’s end of the spectrum, we find such crowd-pleasers as larb ($6.75), minced chicken tossed with cabbage shreds in a potent dressing of lime juice, fish sauce, and chiles; and fresh spring rolls ($3.95), chubs of rice paper stuffed with rice noodles, bean sprouts, lettuce, mint, and tofu.

Other comfy favorites include tom yum ($6.95), a gigantic hemispherical bowl filled with a lime- and lemongrass-scented broth, mushrooms, chunks of chicken, and rice noodles. If you’re hungry and need aromatherapy or steamy relief from cold symptoms, you will find much to like here; among other things, tom yum is less rich than its coconut milk–spiked cousin, tom ka. And only slightly novel is duck curry ($9.95), a coconut-milk red curry sauce laden with chunks of roast duck (skin still attached), cherry tomatoes, and cubes of pineapple for some fruity contrast. A word of caution here: we ordered medium spicy and found the dish verging on too hot, and we like spicy food. Proceed to spicy spicy AYOR.

Kee mao ($5.95) is another one of those possibilities most of us have seen somewhere, but not everywhere, before. The dish’s foundation, as with its marginally better-traveled near relation, pad see ew, is a broad, flat rice noodle — a kind of Thai tagliatelle — tossed with a spirited combination of garlic, chiles, basil, and shrimp. Kao soy ($7.95), on the other hand, I’d never seen before: another huge hemispherical bowl, filled this time with fine, crispy noodles, like a bedding of hay in a barn, and finished with a mild yellow coconut-milk curry laced with potatoes, chicken shreds, and slivers of red onion. As a little boy, I feared and hated my mother’s rare forays into Chinese cooking even though her attempts always included crispy noodles — but then, she did not have access to, and had probably never even heard of, coconut milk and yellow curry and the magic that occurs when you mix the two together.

Like most restaurants these days, Rasha features a bar, and like most bars in restaurants (except the very busiest ones), the bar seems to be uninhabited much, if not most, of the time. This despite the flat-screen television mounted high on the wall behind the bar (flashing rather male-oriented programming — ESPN and Spike) and a selection of affordable little bar snacks such as chicken wings, edamame, and wasabi-roasted peas ($2). We found these last to be slightly sweet and also much hotter than the Trader Joe’s kind; if you eat more than one at a time and do not pace yourself, you are likely to find your nostrils on fire — not the prettiest picture on Valentine’s Day or indeed on any day you happen to find yourself seated across from someone you’re hoping to impress. Plan accordingly. *


Mon.–Sun., noon–11 p.m.

3141 16th St., SF

(415) 437-4788

Full bar


Somewhat noisy

Wheelchair accessible


Practical aggression


› le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS The reason I keep a dream journal is not because I think my dreams mean anything. It’s because where else do you get to write a sentence like He’s always so brittle when he comes back to life and not even blink?

Cheap Eats!!!

This week’s dreamy food-for-all begins on the baseball field. Big Rec, Golden Gate Park. A beautiful summery day for July or August. For early February, it was surreal. I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt.

On TV, Super Sunday countdown; and by way of a more appropriate pregame show, six dudes were playing touch football in deep left field, creating for us a sort of nebulous, moving home run fence. The center-field fence was a soccer match, and in right field it was ultimate Frisbee.

Some of the guys I play ball with don’t even know I’m a girl. They think I’m just cool or weird. Which I am and am, of course, so I let it ride. Bob ribbed me because my earrings didn’t match my socks, or they did — I forget which. Letting it ride, I lined a double over third. I like being on base mainly because I get to chat with the other team’s players. Weather, restaurants … you know, music.

"Yeah, I have to leave early today," I said to their shortstop, Dave, taking my lead. Then I got all embarrassed because I thought he’d think I was leaving early to watch the Super Bowl. So I clarified: "Book club."

I felt certain he’d have wanted to know what book we were reading, but the batter got a hit, and I had to run. Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson, Dave. That’s what I was discussing with my girlfriends over tea and cake while elsewhere in the world Tony was drinking beer and Carlos was winning $500.

The water was the exact same shade of blue as the sky, creating the effect of horizonlessness, according to Robinson. The metaphorical significance of which, according to Kirsten, was a blurring of the line between life and death. It made so much sense. I almost jumped up, pumped my fist, and spilled my tea, but I didn’t. They’re alive, and they’re not alive!

Almost exactly in sync with the winding down of tea and cake and literature, a loud cheer wafted through the open window from an apartment building across the street, signifying, I guessed, the end of the game.

Remember when I was practically a sportswriter? At dinner at Chilli Cha Cha on Haight and Fillmore (Thai Noodle and Food Café is the subtitle), I sat with my back to the TV so that Kirsten’s boyfriend, Peter, who had also missed the game, could watch highlights.

We split a spicy grilled beef salad (Peter and me), and Kirsten poured a whole order of rice into her coconut milk soup, creating a pasty, tasty mess. My favorite thing in the world right now is duck noodle soup, and I turn to it often. My new favorite "food café" floats some spinach in it, and I love them for that. The deep, dark broth, the comfort of noodles, and the ridiculous juiciness of duck, that lovely layer of fat between the skin and the meat … that’s where I want to live.

The night before, in a bar, I’d almost got in a fight, I was saying. A drunk guy kept pinging my steel pan with his fingers. I had to grab his wrist and hold it and I didn’t know what was going to happen. But I felt ready and willing. I would have punched and kicked and clawed in defense of my baby.

Which was weird, I was saying, because before I switched fuels, I was a mess in this situation. On T, I would shake, shut down, and lose the ability to speak or swallow, let alone fight. It didn’t make sense.

"Testosterone affects aggression," Peter said, looking down from football highlights. "Defense is something else entirely." He looked back up.

Wow. He was right. Outside of television sets, football stadiums, and certain select craniums, Peter was absolutely right, and I was going to have to vote for Hillary.

But why do I keep dreaming about Dom, my best friend, teammate, bandmate, and comrade, who died almost 20 years ago? Our dreams are peopled by pieces of ourselves supposedly. And he’s always so brittle when he comes back to life. *


Daily, 11 a.m.–11 p.m.

495 Haight, SF

(415) 552-2960

Takeout and delivery available

No alcohol



Wheelchair accessible


I’ve got a secret


› andrea@altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea:

My newish husband and I are madly in love. We’re extremely experimental and both love porn. We share a healthy sex life (five-plus times a week) and talk about everything — except the fact that he secretly jerks off after I leave for work or when I’m in the bath, whether we have sex or not. (The signs are all there, so I know I’m not mistaken.) It’s not so much that I’m upset about it (I’d love to watch!) but that it decreases his volume and ability to achieve orgasm with me. Though he does come every time, he seems to struggle. But on the weekends, sex is amazing because he hasn’t released beforehand. So should I tell him I know? Am I wrong to want to talk to him about it?


Hands Off!

Dear Hands:

Wrong? No. But before broaching such a discomfiting subject, it’s a good idea to ask yourself exactly what you want by bringing it up — and if your chosen route is the best way to get there.

So what is it you need? Your sex life is already about 200 times better than that of the average married couple, so don’t tell me you want to do it more. (When would you catch up with all the shows on your TiVo?) You did mention volume, but how much fluid comes out is a nonissue. Your partner’s struggle to orgasm may be a problem, but you should ask yourself why it matters to you before you go bugging him about his private pursuits. (He is coming, after all, so it’s not like there’s some big dysfunction that needs fixing.) And keep in mind that if he’s OK with the struggle (I’m sure he knows what’s causing it and has chosen to carry on regardless), he’ll be unmotivated to change.

Also consider that at a certain level this isn’t even really your business. He’s doing it for himself (in both senses of the phrase). There’s a limit to how much you can reasonably expect a partner to change long-standing habits and preferences to suit you. Sometimes you just have to accept who you chose, and try to remember how great that person is — even if that person doesn’t do everything the way you’d like, when you’d like, and just for you.

If you do broach the subject, be mindful. Saying "I know you masturbate as soon as I leave the room" may not inspire your husband to do anything but feel his privacy’s been violated. (Nobody wants to hear that their spouse is tracking them around the Internet or riffling through their used Kleenex, no matter how loving, trusting, and shame-free the relationship is.) The best gambit I can see, in fact, isn’t even aimed at getting him to stop. But it might address your grievance about having to wait for the weekend to see Old Faithful go off: you say you’d really love to watch him sometime? Don’t tell me. Tell him.



Dear Andrea:

My boyfriend is a flirt. We have a good relationship, but the flirting bothers me — and has for the whole course of our relationship. Recently, when I was on his computer, he’d left his inbox open, and I found a slightly juicy e-mail from a girl. His response was that he has a girlfriend and was sorry if she thought otherwise. But now I’m addicted to reading his e-mail; and though I’ve been reading a lot, I’ve found nothing. I don’t even know what I’m looking for or what I’d do if I found it. I want to stop this nasty habit. I feel untrustworthy and sneaky. Be as harsh as you want. I deserve it.



Dear Snoop:

Way to take the fun out of harshing on you, dudette.

Look. You know this is wrong and stupid. And it’s not like I can prescribe you some kind of magic no-sneak pills. It would be tricky to explain wanting to start using passwords on your home computers — not unlike saying all of a sudden "You know what would be fun? Using condoms!" and expecting your honey not to think you’ve been cheating. You could try buying him a nifty new laptop with fingerprint recognition, but that’s a pretty expensive fix.

No, I think you’re just going to have to quit cold turkey. If you must, put a rubber band around your wrist and snap it when you have the urge to sneak around his inbox. (And not one of those wimpy Livestrong wristbands either. They don’t hurt enough.) Or whenever you feel the itch to snoop, you could just remind yourself of the two foolproof ways to wreck a relationship in no time: one, betray his trust; and two, demonstrate that you consider him unworthy of yours. Then, voilà! You’re done.



Andrea Nemerson has spent the last 14 years as a sex educator and an instructor of sex educators. In her previous life she was a prop designer. And she just gave birth to twins, so she’s one bad mother of a sex adviser. Visit www.altsexcolumn.com to view her previous columns.

Fresh hedonism and sound artifacts


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

America’s holy trinity — beer, barbecue, and the Bible — forms a belief system of carnivorous consumption and garish glitz in recent photographs by Bill Owens and Christian Patterson, well paired in concurrent exhibitions at Robert Koch Gallery.

Owens’s "Flesh," with its uncomfortable close-ups of pork parts and gnashing teeth, picks through gristly ribs, charred bacon strips, and headless mannequins, revealing an eat-or-be-eaten society starved for gustatory and spiritual succor. Patterson’s "Sound Affects" searches for musical solace in Memphis, Tenn., finding fundamentalist sass and the sick glow of neon lights where Elvis Presley used to reign. Both photographers — old-guard Owens, whose seminal Suburbia study put him and his Livermore neighbors on the map 35 years ago, and up-and-comer Patterson, seen here in his first West Coast show — saturate their semisurreal documentary images with alarmingly bright hues, recalling William Eggleston’s aesthetic approach. Their generous use of color gives these images of flesh and blood, bars and jukeboxes, an added kick, and the shows are energizing even when their subject matter is ugly or forlorn. "Revelations 21:8," scrawled on a dirty kitchen wall in one of Patterson’s photos as if prophesying doom resulting from the kitchen stove’s four burners left unattended, sets a foreboding tone. "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone," this cheery verse promises. That’s bad news for the ravenous consumers in Owens’s images, whose sins of the flesh range from ogling Victoria’s Secret models and worshipping Prada mannequins to sprinkling mystery meat with synthetic seasoning and tearing into jumbo ribs with unsated appetites verging on vengeance.

Heedless hedonism is slathered all over Owens’s pictures like rancid barbecue sauce: his subjects pig out in skimpy underwear and strike a pose or decompose depending on their place in the food chain. Only in Freud at the Met, in which three museumgoers study master painter Lucian Freud’s portrait of legendary performance artist Leigh Bowery in all his corporeal glory, does the contemplation of flesh finally satisfy our appetite for skin, sin, and salvation. Otherwise, "Flesh" inspires a desire for vigorous flossing.

Patterson leads us away from Owens’s designer bulimia and deep into Memphis, where so many have wandered before. Like the Japanese teens in Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train, Patterson is lured by the promise of musical transcendence and authentic American cool. Void of people but crammed with their stuff — twinkling Christmas lights, a Diary of a Mad Housewife paperback, a jukebox playing Floyd Cramer’s "Last Date," a poster of the classic Jam record that gives Patterson’s show its mod title — these photos testify to Paul Weller’s, Patterson’s, and Presley’s belief in music’s ability to alter its most receptive listeners and their environs, from Tennessee to Woking, forever and for the better.

Imbued with tunes blaring at bars, skating rinks, and house parties, Patterson’s photos are melodious, bluesy, and edged with guitar feedback. The brightly colored fluorescent tubes that illuminate the Cozy Corner Restaurant are like a Dan Flavin installation put to good use, while the neon Alex’s Tavern sign, shot from within the late-night lush lounge, vibrates through creased Venetian blinds. Patterson fills out his compositions with musical filigree: white graffiti clouds on a light blue brick wall, the curves of a vampiric temptress wielding her pet bat in a salacious painting decorating a well-worn watering hole, the striated lines and lies of a tattered American flag. The whoremongers, sorcerers, and idolaters of Revelation 21:8 might be damned, but eternal suffering for doing bad, bad things in run-down Southern towns doesn’t seem so awful when the fire-and-brimstone soundtrack features "That’s Entertainment."

Skateland emerges as the key work in Patterson’s show and also offers an elegiac alternative to the meat eating and meat beating so rampant in Owens’s series. In this nostalgic image, a giant roller skate adorned with wings soars above an abandoned rink, no doubt once the site of Xanadu-like bliss, into a perfect blue sky. All flesh is pure here, all sins are forgiven. Elvis has not left the building. *


Through Feb. 24, free

Tues.–Sat., 10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

Robert Koch Gallery

49 Geary, fifth floor, SF

(415) 421-0122