Volume 41 Number 28

April 11 – 27, 2007

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The Guardian Iraq War casualty report (4/16/07): 34 Iraqi civilians killed in 6 separate bomb attacks Sunday.


The Guardian Iraq War casualty report (4/16/07): 34 Iraqi civilians killed in 6 separate bomb attacks Sunday.

Compiled by Paula Connelly

Casualties in Iraq

Iraqi civilians:

At least 34 Iraqi civilians were killed in six different bomb attacks Sunday, according to the New York Times.

: Killed since 3/03

Source: www.thelancet.com

61,391 – 67,364: Killed since 1/03

For a week by week assessment of significant incidents and trends in Iraqi civilian casualties, go to A Week in Iraq by Lily Hamourtziadou. She is a member of the Iraq Body Count project, which maintains and updates the world’s only independent and comprehensive public database of media-reported civilian deaths in Iraq.

Source: http://www.iraqbodycount.net

A Week in Iraq: Week ending 15 April 2007:

For first hand accounts of the grave situation in Iraq, visit some of these blogs:

U.S. military:

3,542: Killed since the U.S. invasion of Iraq 3/20/03

Source: http://www.icasualties.org/

For the Department of Defense statistics go to: http://www.defenselink.mil/

For a more detailed list of U.S. Military killed in the War in Iraq go to:

Iraq Military:

30,000: Killed since 2003



153 journalists have been killed in Iraq since the start of the war four years ago, making Iraq the world’s most dangerous country for the press, according to Reporters without borders.

156: Killed since 3/03

Source: http://www.infoshout.com/


The Bush administration plans to increase quota of Iraqi refugees allowed into the U.S. from 500 to 7,000 next year in response to the growing refugee crisis, according to the Guardian Unlimited.

Border policies are tightening because one million Iraqi refugees have already fled to Jordan and another one million to Syria. Iraqi refugees who manage to make it out of Iraq still can’t work, have difficulty attending school and are not eligible for health care. Many still need to return to Iraq to escape poverty, according to BBC news.

1.6 million: Iraqis displaced internally

1.8 million: Iraqis displaced to neighboring states

Many refugees were displaced prior to 2003, but an increasing number are fleeing now, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ estimates.

Source: http://www.unhcr.org/iraq.html

U.S. Military Wounded:

50,502: Wounded since 3/19/03 to 1/6/07

Source: http://www.icasualties.org/

The Guardian cost of Iraq war report (4/16/07): So far, $417 billion for the U.S., $52 billion for California and $1 billion for San Francisco.

Compiled by Paula Connelly

Here is a running total of the cost of the Iraq War to the U.S. taxpayer, provided by the National Priorities Project located in Northampton, Massachusetts. The number is based on Congressional appropriations. Niko Matsakis of Boston, MA and Elias Vlanton of Takoma Park, MD originally created the count in 2003 on costofwar.com. After maintaining it on their own for the first year, they gave it to the National Priorities Project to contribute to their ongoing educational efforts.

To bring the cost of the war home, please note that California has already lost $46 billion and San Francisco has lost $1 billion to the Bush war and his mistakes. In San Francisco alone, the funds used for the war in Iraq could have hired 21,264 additional public school teachers for one year, we could have built 11,048 additional housing units or we could have provided 59,482 students four-year scholarships at public universities. For a further breakdown of the cost of the war to your community, see the NPP website aptly titled “turning data into action.”

Bruce Blog: Judge rules



Politics Blog: Ruby



Keys of life


PIANO MAN On April 13, 1957, at an assembly room in the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library, George Michalski gave his first piano recital. He played John W. Schaum’s "Snake Dance" and "The Sphinx" and closed with "My First Waltz," by Bjarne Rolseth, from G. Schirmer’s Piano Solo series for students. "My mom was so excited leaving the house that she tripped and sprained her ankle," Michalski remembers. "She went to the show anyway and stayed for the whole recital — then we took care of her leg."

On April 13, 2007, Michalski will put on another piano recital in San Francisco. This time it won’t be at the library, but his mother will attend. So will some special guests — unsurprising, since in the 50 years after his first performance, Michalski’s ivory-tickling talent has led to collaborations with everyone from Blue Cheer to Barbra Streisand.

"The most exciting thing about making music is to go from Blue Cheer to someone like Streisand," Michalski says while discussing his special anniversary show, which one friend has described as vaudevillian. "Blue Cheer is so far into [pure volume and distortion] that I think of them as classical music. The biggest challenge of playing with them was peer pressure. When I worked with Streisand [on songs such as "The Man I Love" and the soundtrack to 1979’s The Main Event], I tried to get her to listen to blues. She was very open-minded."

A member of Foxtrot — the onetime house band at both Los Angeles’s Whisky a Go Go and its chief competitor, the Starwood, and also the first white group signed to Motown Records (where Smokey Robinson gave Michalski a piano and Berry Gordy’s mother, Bertha, signed his checks) — Michalski has rubbed creative shoulders with everyone from Don Johnson to some of the best-known mimes in the world and crossed paths with political figures such as Bill Clinton and Desmond Tutu.

The ’70s television mainstays Shields and Yarnell, currently on a reunion farewell tour, are the aforementioned mimes. "Robert [Shields] was discovered right here in the Bay Area, in Union Square — the term street mime was invented to describe him," Michalski says, then adds some funny details that could cause someone wearing pancake makeup to become red-faced. "Robert hates most street mimes — because they’re not very good and they give mimes a bad name. I’ve seen him stand there, watch a mime, and rip the guy to shreds. And when mimes recognize that it’s Robert watching them, boy, do they get nervous."

In recent years Michalski has been making music with the original tabloid target, Eddie Fisher. "Confidential magazine got started by writing about him — he was on their first cover," Michalski says, while praising Fisher’s gentle nature. "The whole notion of the paparazzi partly started with him and Liz [Taylor]. That guy has seen a lot, and what he hasn’t seen, his daughters have — Carrie Fisher is no slouch."

To put together his anniversary show, Michalski drew from an idea he first landed on with his friend the late Vince Welnick, keyboardist for the Tubes, in which a strange array of friends stop by his apartment to perform. In addition to unconventional cover versions of songs that have made a few of the special guests famous and some dueling piano boogie-woogie interludes, the evening — presided over by MC Steve Parrish — will likely include numbers from Michalski’s most recent recordings, including San Francisco (Masia Music, 2002), which transforms his love of the city into a neighborhood-by-neighborhood, song-by-song portrait. "This show is different, but there’s no dead time," Michalski says at the end of our conversation before leaving to meet his mother. "It runs like an Italian train system." (Johnny Ray Huston)


Fri/13, 7:30 p.m., $20

Fat City

314 11th St., SF




We shall over come ourselves


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Nearly all the imagery we’re fed when it comes to understanding or imagining issues reutf8g to race in the United States comes from the civil rights era. No doubt that was a critical moment in American history, but it should go without saying that the road home can’t be found on an outdated map. The idea that "we shall overcome" is nice, but in reality different times have created different conceptions of who "we" are, what we’re overcoming, and how we will accomplish it.

It stands to reason that the problem tends to follow our playwrights onstage. The challenges and potential payoffs found in Tanya Barfield’s Blue Door (at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, directed by actor Delroy Lindo) and the American Conservatory Theater production of Philip Kan Gotanda’s After the War (see "Home Run: After the War Lucidly Strikes Home," 4/4/07) are different, as if the writers had looked at the bag of tricks they’d been handed and consciously decided to make their own tools. Daily life — onstage and off — has been littered with lazy and self-serving, formulaic attempts to explore nearly every question reutf8g to race. What is most satisfying about Blue Door and After the War is that each asks fresh questions that are difficult and important.

Barfield’s multicharacter, two-actor play focuses on a troubled African American math professor struggling to deny the single fact that most shapes his interactions with the world — he’s hit bottom so hard that his white wife is pushing him to participate in the Million Man March as a way to get in touch with himself. As a result, his career is on the rocks, as are his marriage and his relationship with his family. His daily life gives way to a surreal sleepless night during which he’s visited by relatives, including some who were slaves, an experience that forces him to admit that his present and future have been shaped by the past.

Gotanda has created an ad hoc family of post–World War II refugees who share space in a boardinghouse in what was — before the war — San Francisco’s Japanese neighborhood. Six years later things are considerably different; the war’s over, and African Americans have moved into the Fillmore District housing vacated by interned Japanese Americans. As the original residents struggle to find and rebuild their community, politicians and developers have plans that don’t include black and Japanese American — or any marginalized — San Franciscans.

Gotanda’s multiracial, multinational menagerie lives under the roof of a young jazz musician named Chester Monkawa. Monkawa is a long way from today’s stereotypical hypersuccessful model minority. But although Gotanda’s created his share of outcasts and rebels over the years, what’s different about After the War is the difficulty the assembled characters have in dealing with each other. They’re a happy family when things are going well, but when the pendulum swings the other way, they go with what’s familiar — seeing race as life’s fundamental building block.

It’s refreshing to see After the War and Blue Door raise questions without ready-made answers, but that fact speaks to the problems their playwrights face. If such issues were easily dealt with onstage, we’d be doing a better job with them offstage as well. In fact, it takes a lot of money and an almost pathological reservoir of self-delusion for anyone to deny that America is a long way from addressing its ills. Nevertheless, it’s encouraging to see what Barfield and Gotanda — one young and black, the other a veteran Japanese American playwright — are doing. *


Through April 22

See stage listings for info


Through May 20

See stage listings for showtimes, $33–$61

Berkeley Repertory Theatre

2025 Addison, Berk.

(510) 647-2949


For an interview with Delroy Lindo, go to Pixel Vision at www.sfbg.com/blogs/pixel_vision.

Still evolving


The human race either sinks or swims. That’s evolution as Charles Darwin first saw it. But flippers and a seal pelt, that’s pure Kurt Vonnegut. The novelist plays God like no other, wresting the species from its self-destruction, then sending it on its wobbly way with a childlike capacity for invention and a wry if discontented grasp of human folly. That’s Galápagos, anyway, his 1985 best-seller in which evolution saves humankind from its big and mischievous brains by sending it back to the sea. And although the transition from page to stage is probably as slippery as that first fin step on dry land, Vonnegut fans (a species unto themselves) will no doubt flock to see the book’s adaptation in the world premiere of Galáp, by San Francisco’s Boxcar Theatre.

In a year that found the young company variously pitched in the sand at Baker Beach and careening onboard the Mexican Bus’s rolling party platform, it hardly surprises one to see the itinerant Boxcar pulling into the Cadillac Building at 1000 Van Ness to occupy the vacated offices of an online shoe company as it brings its inaugural season (aptly titled "Journeys") to a close. And indeed, a better-sounding setting for a play inspired by a Vonnegut story is hard to imagine.

Artistic director Nick A. Olivero wants to make the most of it too. His imaginative, kinetic staging contains continual surprises, aided by the aquatic and exotic atmosphere summoned through Lisa Lutkenhouse’s resourceful costumes, Norm Munoz’s puppets, and David Sophia Siegel’s jaunty original score. The room itself is divided into several stages, more or less enveloping the audience in the play’s fractured story line, which looks back one million years through the eyes of a ghost (Josh Truett) at the troubled but pivotal year of 1986 as several hapless tourists aboard "the nature cruise of the century" to Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands become the progenitors of the next wave in human evolution.

The six-member cast cycles through a number of characters, sometimes sharing duties in a single role. If the hardworking cast begins to win us over, it also never masters the rigors of the material or Vonnegut’s satirical style. Poor sight lines, moreover, make some scenes impossible to view from certain seats. Boxcar’s ambitious closer is a mixed bag, in other words, but like Vonnegut’s relentless survivors, the company shows it can adapt. (Robert Avila)


Through April 27

Thurs.–Sat., 8 p.m., $12–$28

AMC Cadillac Bldg.

1000 Van Ness, SF

(415) 776-1747



Six ed


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Conventional wisdom — chew before swallowing, hang on to your nine-to-five, the safety of the passengers depends on keeping conversation with the driver to a minimum — usually suffices eight days a week. But along march catastrophic events, and the rules fly out the window. Luckily, agile industry vets such as Six Degrees founders Bob Duskis and Pat Berry know how to respond to fate’s highs and lows. For instance, the label was universally warned not to release its Arabian Travels comp post–Sept. 11.

"Everybody told us, ‘You are crazy if you put this record out. People are going to be angry. Retailers aren’t going to carry it,’ " Duskis recalls at Six Degrees’ sizable Mission District office. "And we thought, you know, this is the perfect time to put this record out! More than ever people need things that transcend stereotypes — a positive representation of what comes from the Middle East." That, on top of evidence that Americans were suddenly ravenous for any information about a world they had once largely ignored, convinced them to go ahead. Turns out "it’s one of our best-selling compilations!" Duskis delivers the kicker, chuckling. "And we got a lot of mail from people of Middle Eastern descent who live in this country saying, ‘Thank you very much!’ Obviously, we feel like music is a great connector."

On the cusp of Six Degrees’ 10th anniversary celebration, sitting in a conference room atop some 20,000 CDs in the company’s downstairs warehouse with his 14-year-old hound Scout by his side, Duskis, 47, is feeling ever more optimistic about the future. On April 18 the label head will be joining the imprint’s Bombay Dub Orchestra, Jef Stott, and r:sphere of Zaman 8 on the steelers’ wheels — as he often does online via the label’s monthly radio show and occasionally does at one of many nights sponsored by Six Degrees at Supperclub, Madrone Lounge, and elsewhere. Part of the party: Backspin: A Six Degrees 10 Year Anniversary Project, which finds roster artists covering their faves (Karsh Kale takes a tabla to the Police’s "Spirits in the Material World").

Six Degrees has plenty to toast, while providing a lesson in indie survival techniques. After hitting it big with licensed bossa nova royalty Bebel Gilberto’s Tanto Tempo (2000) and subsequently downsizing amid the industry’s early ’00s doldrums, the imprint has been busily undertaking new projects, expected for a company that has always looked forward: a digital-only Emerging Artists series including Bay Area artists Stout and Zaman 8 as a way of breaking new performers with lower overhead, and a new partnership with Starbucks Entertainment to play and promote the debut by the silky-voiced, groove-obsessed, and cute-as-a-bug Brazilian singer-songwriter CeU, the first non-English-language artist to break into the chain’s Hear Music Debut series and find exposure to java junkies everywhere. "Hitting that consumer that’s outside the traditional pathways, which have been closed to us or just aren’t working anymore, it’s the kind of thing we need to do," Duskis explains. "All signs are pointing for this to be a big breakout."

Breaks and smarts have gotten Duskis and Berry this far: the two met at Palo Alto new age independent Windham Hill. Duskis had worked his way up to become the head of A&R; Berry, VP of sales and marketing. Both were united in their belief that the label should explore more global sounds, and they eventually departed to create Six Degrees under the umbrella of then-Polygram-owned Island at the behest of their genre-crossing hero Chris Blackwell, who asked the two to market the "weird stuff, all the nonpop stuff."

After Blackwell left, Duskis and Berry got out of Island with their masters in the nick of time before being entangled in yet another monstrous merger. With an infusion of venture capital, they relaunched the label as a true independent in ’98 before hitting it massive with Tanto Tempo. "From the start we treated it not like this was going to be some weird, little world-electronica record but as something for a wide range of people, from young club audiences and electronica fans to older people who had hit the first bossa nova wave to pop and Sade fans. Sure enough, it became the coffee-table world music record of that year," Duskis says. (Gilberto’s latest, Momento, comes out April 24).

The success of that album pegged Six Degrees as a world fusion label, but the founders always saw the imprint as more than that, releasing artists as varied as Michael Franti, Cheb i Sabbah, and the Real Tuesday Weld — more a global content provider with a highly eclectic palate and fingers dipped in digital distribution; podcasts; music blogs; and licensing to film, TV, and commercials before anyone else. "One thing I’d say we’ve never tried, as a label," Dukais quips, "is to be so hip it hurts." *


Fri/13, 9 p.m., $15


628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421


April 18, 10 p.m., $10


657 Harrison, SF

(415) 348-0900



Gone are the days when Jeff Chang churned out columns for the Guardian, but my Hawaii bud can be excused for burying himself in books such as his award-winning Can’t Stop Won’t Stop and his compelling new volume, Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop (Basic, $18.95). Total Chaos emerged from discussions on the future of demographics and aesthetics in the arts about three years ago and found Chang editing playwright Danny Hoch, artist Doze, and DJ Spooky, as well as essays on hip-hop and queerness. It’s a wide-angle take on hip-hop’s impact on the arts, triggering what Chang calls "crosscutting debates within the book." And without: "I’ve seen a review in the National Review complaining that there’s no center to this," Chang says on the road. "But hip-hop is about call-and-response. It’s not necessarily about people having a consensus." Expect a hot back-and-forth when Chang gathers Marcyliena Morgan of Stanford’s Hip-Hop Archive and contributors such as Adam Mansbach for a hip-hop aesthetics talk April 17 (and later on May 8).


Tues/17, 6:30 p.m., free

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, SF




Assault on batteries


The urban forager is generally looking for something to eat, but this does not have to be the case. While there is an undeniable pleasure in bringing edibles (blackberries, nasturtiums) home to the table from the metropolitan wild, there is also satisfaction in gathering up rubbish and disposing of it properly. And just as the city is a remarkably fertile place, so too is it rich in articles it would be better off not being rich in.

We have all seen the plastic water bottles rustling in the gutters like autumn leaves — husks emptied of their pricey elixirs and tossed away. They are easy enough to pick up and put in the nearest blue recycling bin, and that was how I started. But once I began to see the gutters as traps for stray Evian bottles, I began to notice that they hold other sorts of trash, less conspicuous but more worrisome. They hold an awful lot of batteries, in particular, with a decided tilt toward the AA size. I would like to think that even blithe people do not make a practice of throwing objects as thick with toxic chemicals and heavy metals as batteries on the sidewalk or into the street, but I seldom travel more than three blocks by foot or bike without finding at least one, often smashed or mangled by traffic.

My little foraging project for the past six months or so (since winter is a bleak time for urban food hunting; the weekday chef’s menus have heavily featured cabbage and broccoli) has been to collect all the discarded batteries I come across and put them in an old measuring cup on the pantry counter. When the cup fills, every few weeks or so, I take it to Walgreens and empty its contents into the recycling pail. Batteries do not belong in landfills almost as much as they don’t belong in the gutters, and by accepting them and sluicing them into the recycling stream, Walgreens is performing a large, if undersung, public service.

My hope is that once people start to notice that yes, there are AA batteries all over the gutters and yes, they can be picked up and recycled, people will pick them up and recycle them. Walgreens stores are easy to find in these parts, and a city whose streets are cleansed of old batteries will be a better city.

Paul Reidinger

› paulr@sfbg.com

Go west, young band


Sometimes you get lucky. Every week I have to find a picture to run in the club guide, and one week I picked Low Red Land. They later sent me a self-released 2006 CD titled The Weight of Nations. The disc stayed in my truck’s deck for a week.

The trio of 26-year-olds — Mark Devito on drums, Ben Thorne on bass, and Neil Thompson on guitar and vocals — is also no stranger to intuition. Having met at Hamilton College in New York, they’d originally been a four-piece called Great American with another college buddy, Matthew Stringer. After graduating, the four moved to Boston, where they put out a self-titled, self-released EP and album. When Stringer left to go to med school, the rest of the bandmates knew they wanted to continue playing and move to San Francisco. They renamed themselves Low Red Land after a lyric in a Larry Jon Wilson song, "Ohoopee River Bottom Land."

The moniker is fittingly evocative: it speaks of the sage-and-sand-filled expanses of their journey west, of red dirt cliffs and winding rivers. This unexpectedly rangy, Western feeling fills The Weight of Nations, though being from the "totally podunk" coal-mining town of Shickshinny, Pa., Thompson can assure you that the East can be just as country as anywhere else.

While the album is "intensely personal" for Thompson, it also contains subtly penned protest songs in the fine though rare tradition of Woody Guthrie’s "This Land Is Your Land." "You’re Alive" is about the death of Thompson’s childhood friend, Michael Cleary, a first lieutenant in the Army, in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq. And for me, that’s the key to The Weight of Nations: the protests are personal, soaked in sadness, and set against the American tapestry in a way that calls to mind the poetic scope of Hart Crane’s The Bridge. It’s easy to see why the group has been likened to Crazy Horse, though I’d pick Creedence Clearwater Revival meets the Meat Puppets. "As long as the bands aren’t bad, I’m pretty psyched," Thompson says of these comparisons. "Somebody said we sound like the Dave Matthews Band. I was bummed out for the whole day." (Duncan Scott Davidson)


Wed/11, 9 p.m., donation to AIDS Marathon accepted

Elbo Room

647 Valencia, SF

(415) 552-7788


Deer me


Weathered over the years by lineup changes, tension-fueled recording sessions, and a band member’s death, Atlanta’s Deerhunter have endured their share of setbacks since forming in 2001. But wherever chaos laughs itself into a tizzy, there lurks a handsome reward just waiting to jump out and squeeze our brooding bunch from the Big Peach. Following the January release of their sophomore effort, Cryptograms (Kranky), the quintet experienced just that: their status skyrocketed to indie music darlings almost overnight.

Some who saw the outfit open for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have differed: on Deerhunter’s MySpace page, one spectator describes the group as "a pile of shit in this ‘thing’ we call the music business," while another testifies vocalist Bradford Cox "got a boner twice" while administering "false fellatio" to the rest of the band (Cox denies the allegation).

What’s certain, however, is Cryptograms’ alluring spirit. Recorded in two consecutive sessions, the album shifts from queasy art punk ("Lake Somerset") to shimmering cacophony ("Red Ink") to soothing pop ("Hazel St."). Generating a perpetual squall of numbing dissonance bristling with feedbacked guitar treatments and lulling white noise, the group collages ambient clatter and nostalgic psych-pop fraught with portraits from our past: the Creation catalog, Brian Eno, Galaxie 500, and Spacemen 3. Cryptograms‘ shuffling tone is set during its initial seconds — the lethargic sound of trickling water dissolves quickly into an electronic cackle of whirring effects pedals. Then just as the looped delirium reaches its unbearable brink, the distortion-charged title track shaves the fuzz down to a single note. "My greatest fear / I fantasized / The days were long / The weeks moved by / Before I knew / I was awake / My days were through / It was too … late," Cox mumbles.

Cox should have nothing to fear at all — his band’s tour in support of its Fluorescent Grey EP on Kranky might get the occasional heckle, but it’ll probably be too hard to hear amid the amplifiers’ roar. (Chris Sabbath)


With the Ponys and Turn Me On Dead Man

Fri/13, 9 p.m., $10

12 Galaxies

2565 Mission, SF

(415) 970-9777


Endless things


› johnny@sfbg.com

Into the past or on to the future? That’s the push-pull current that charges the Junior Boys. The tension is even casually present during an interview with the Canadian duo’s singer and veteran member, Jeremy Greenspan. Discussing the ’80s new wave influences floating through the second Junior Boys album, 2006’s So This Is Goodbye (Domino), Greenspan stresses that he discovered such sounds through dance music — Goldie sampling Japan, for example — rather than stadium rock or indie rock, and then declares, "I listen to OMD and Ultravox and Japan and Simple Minds and hear a lot of potential for new and exciting things." Yet later, when the conversation turns to So This Is Goodbye‘s lyrics, he says, "For me the central theme of the album is nostalgia."

Greenspan isn’t contradicting himself. One of the rich pleasures of So This Is Goodbye, a rare modern-day recording that keeps on giving in the manner of a well-crafted album, is the way it delves deep into music and personal memories from decades past while also crafting a signature sound. One of its best tracks, "Count Souvenirs," blooms from the instantly haunting chime motif Greenspan and partner Matt Didemus create, a melody that echoes Depeche Mode’s "Strangelove." Yet the subtlety of Greenspan’s singing and his words could give Dave Gahan a lesson in how to channel the crooner era without being as tacky as an endless engagement in Las Vegas purgatory.

"I had this idea of our record being a kind of electronic crooner record," says Greenspan, who cites the likes of Nat King Cole, Chet Baker, and Frank Sinatra as inspirations. An arctic cover of one of Sinatra’s staple sad ballads, the Sammy Cahn–Jimmy van Heusen composition "When No One Cares," is perhaps So This Is Goodbye‘s major fulcrum, with lyrics that hook backward into the titles of songs that precede it, such as the trinket-obsessed "Count Souvenirs" and the deathly call for affection "Like a Child," in which Perrey and Kingsley–like blips slowly give way to ghostly harmonies.

A mordant, morbid sensibility has long been dominant within the Junior Boys. This is a group that titled its debut Last Exit (Kin, 2004) and has now given a new EP of remixes the name Dead Horse (Domino, 2007). Loss and melancholy are a major part of the duo’s history — Greenspan’s original partner, Johnny Dark, departed before they’d finished a full-length recording, and Nick Kilroy, a friend who ran the group’s original label, Kin, died in 2005. So This Is Goodbye begins with "Double Shadow," whose core image suggests both self-recrimination and a sense of being haunted. "I suppose there is some Freudian way of reading it as a song directed inward," Greenspan says when asked about the track, which builds to a taut climax, at which its complex syncopation seems to turn inside out.

As an interview subject, Greenspan has a flair for dramatic phrasing that is comparatively subdued in his Junior Boys lyrics. He discusses styles of vocalization and the direct sensuality of his speech-based approach in comparison to current singing clichés, targeting "the U2 syndrome" (of "trying to sound as big and histrionic as possible") and "the American Idol effect" (in which "whoever can sing the loudest with the most notes" is deemed especially emotional). There is a Morrissey-esque quality to some of his pronouncements, such as his early Smiths–like notion that "love songs never accurately portray what love and sex is all about."

Morrissey could use a songwriting partner as creatively sympathetic as Didemus, whose relatively silent presence seems to have helped Greenspan as a singer and a figurehead. His voice is front and center more often and more assuredly within his own vast, spare arrangements. It’s no wonder a kindred neodisco spirit such as Metro Area’s Morgan Geist has recently called on him for vocals. "I think for modern bands of all descriptions, the tendency is to push the vocal as another instrument in the mix," Greenspan observes. "But with [So This Is Goodbye], I had more confidence. Listening to crooner records, I noticed how present the vocals can be, so I kept pushing my own voice louder and louder while mixing." Subtly rising up out of the past and away from loss — that’s the current sound, and the voice, of the Junior Boys. *


April 25, 9 p.m.


444 Jessie, SF

(415) 625-8880



Local Live


Liz Pappademas

March 28, Hotel Utah Saloon

LOCAL LIVE "Thanks, you guys, for coming to my birthday party!" the beaming Bay Area singer-songwriter Liz Pappademas says as she sits down at the piano and sets out to kick off her West Coast tour with a bit of hometown fanfare in the tightly packed Hotel Utah performance space. "Tonight we are celebrating the birth of my CD. Afterwards we’ll all have cake — I even made it myself!"

There’s a pause. She looks out into the crowded room, filled with friends and family as well as many curious listeners. "Hmm, I hope there’s enough to go around!" she says, chuckling.

There’s good reason for Pappademas to sound so thrilled. Her new self-released CD, Eleven Songs, is an utterly beguiling collection of introspective piano-driven pop blessed with a warm-bath production and thoughtfully arranged bare-bones instrumentation. Bearing the narrative agility of a class-act storyteller as well as the unhurried precision of a poet, Pappademas writes lyrics that carry impressive weight standing alone on the page. Delivered in her smoldering alto, evoking a cross between Jolie Holland and Fiona Apple, they burn with an almost disarming poignancy. Which is why I’m here. Sure, I like cake and all, but I came for her songs.

She begins with an absorbing, gradually unfolding depiction of madness on "The Born Again April Fool" ("The walls bled at the hospitals / He buried the furniture out in the garden"). Over gently urgent piano thrusts and understated thumping from drummer Rob Sanchez, the story evolves into an unsettling but sympathetic portrait of Scott Panetti, a schizophrenic currently on death row in Texas despite a massive public outcry over the inhumanity of executing a man with severe mental illness. The song lingers in the room well after the piano sighs its final note.

Also joining Pappademas onstage is violinist-accordionist Chris Black, whose swaying accompaniment brings added tenderness to the music. His playfulness on the Aimee Mann–esque "I Had to Tell You" helps the song bob along with doses of accordion whimsy, while the artist’s lament "Desaturate It" benefits from a similar instant romanticism thanks to the instrument. A tale about a film facing cuts in order to keep its Motion Picture Association of America rating, the song is more universally about the dilemma of artists having to water down their work in order to please others: "And I was gonna be Rauschenberg / I was gonna be Pollock / But the MPAA had to save the eyes of the public." Pappademas takes her craft seriously, as these words suggest.

The evening’s highlight arrives in the form of "Keep Going West," a subtly devastating chronicle of leaving town for a fresh start after the tumultuous end of a relationship. Alone on piano, her voice delicately trembling on the edges of certain notes, Pappademas reveals, "The tires are curled on the side of the road / Sleeping off the breakup from the wheel and the road / I am curled on one side of the bed / In a Motel 6, with my independence." It’s powerful stuff, to be sure, but worth every lip-biting second. (Todd Lavoie)

LIZ PAPPADEMAS With Klum and El Olio Wolof. April 22, 9 p.m., $8. Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St., SF. (415) 647-2888

Eleven Songs is available at www.cdbaby.com, Amoeba Music, and Aquarius Records.

Amen with a camera


› cheryl@sfbg.com

Divine messages are tricky, particularly for true believers who have no choice but to obey whatever directive the big G passes down. "God told me to!" can lead to heroic or comical or tragic ends; really, it’s a convenient excuse to do just about anything. For Richard Gazowsky, pastor at San Francisco’s Voice of Pentecost Church, the Lord’s message was simple if extravagant: "I want you to be the Rolls Royce of filmmaking."

Given that Voice of Pentecost is situated in an old movie theater and that Gazowsky received his vision in 1994 — soon after the then-40-year-old saw his first movie, The Lion King — this decree was not as surprising as it sounds. But as Michael Jacobs’s documentary Audience of One reveals, the quixotic Gazowsky has hit endless snags in his quest to be the next Mel Gibson (or George Lucas) with his "Ten Commandments meets Star Wars" epic, Gravity: In the Shadow of Joseph. It seems unquestioning faith can only go so far before naïveté, technical inexperience, and long-overdue rent get in the way.

Intrigued by Lessley Anderson’s Jan. 5, 2005, SF Weekly article on the church’s cinematic aspirations, Jacobs (at the time a newly rooted San Franciscan by way of Colorado) headed out to Ocean Avenue to take in a service. Before long, he’d found the topic of his first feature-length documentary.

"I walked into Voice of Pentecost, and it was like stepping onto another planet. I’d never seen anything like it: singing, dancing, falling down, speaking in tongues. I was really floored," Jacobs told me over the phone from New York City, where Audience of One (which premiered at the 2007 South by Southwest film festival and is slated for the 2007 San Francisco International Film Festival) screened as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s "New Directors/New Films" series.

Though Gazowsky’s production company, Christian WYSIWYG Filmworks (yep, it stands for "what you see is what you get"), has about 30 employees, the charismatic preacher was the natural choice for Jacobs’s primary subject. "The pastor [came] out and [updated] his congregation on the trials and tribulations of making this independent Christian blockbuster," Jacobs remembers. "I was immediately fascinated."

Having received his own calling of sorts, Jacobs asked Gazowsky and his congregants to appear in his doc. "I was really candid. I told them I’m Jewish and had no intentions of being a part of their church but that I wanted to observe their creation. I talked to Pastor Gazowsky about my philosophical approach to documentary and how I wanted to make an observational film. I wasn’t gonna use narration or come at it from a liberal or conservative perspective. I wasn’t gonna put it into the context of Christianity. I just wanted to make it as much cinéma vérité as possible."

Voice of Pentecost agreed to give Jacobs fly-on-the-wall access. For the next few months he captured WYSIWYG’s casting calls, stunt rehearsals, set-design meetings, and other bustling preproduction activities for a fast-approaching Italian location shoot. The footage comprises Audience of One‘s decidedly optimistic first half; anticipation runs sky-high among the (nearly all-volunteer) cast and crew despite several hints of challenges ahead. Gravity‘s massive wardrobe, including an abundance of Jediesque hoods, remains many stitches from completion, and the camera and sound equipment — at Gazowsky’s insistence, entirely state-of-the-art — is still being tested.

Soon before WYSIWYG uproots to Italy, one of the few pros involved in the production, cinematographer Jens Klein, tells Gazowsky he’s concerned about Gravity‘s abbreviated prep time. Something always goes wrong on the set, the experienced Klein cautions — and of course, it does.

By then Jacobs was "an inside outsider," his camera-toting presence a familiar sight. He traveled to Italy and documented WYSIWYG’s problem-plagued shoot. "I really did sort of blend into the scene," he says. "That relationship continued to grow and strengthen for about six months. When we came back from Italy, things got a little stranger. The lines got very blurry at times between subject and reality and responsibility and professionalism."

At first the blurry lines stayed off camera, and Jacobs’s cinéma vérité goals remained intact. For example, he helped the exhausted crew move stones before one of Gravity‘s outdoor scenes. "I saw them working so hard, and they weren’t getting anything done. I couldn’t not help them," he recalls. "All of a sudden, I was, like, ‘Wait a minute, what am I doing?’ That’s not my professional responsibility, but I have this personal thing here where I want to help them."

After the Gravity crew returned to the United States, they set up shop on Treasure Island, leasing an enormous film studio from the city of San Francisco. To Jacobs, and by extension the Audience of One viewer, it’s quite clear that the funding Gazowsky expects from a mysterious German source will never materialize. At one point he’s counting on $200 million — a huge amount for a Hollywood film, let alone an independent production created by unproven first-timers. Gazowsky’s faith in the Lord may be strong, but the faith he has in his investors is positively breathtaking.

His faith in Jacobs, however, wavers a bit. Midway through Audience of One, the WYSIWYG gang becomes increasingly paranoid that someone — Hollywood spies, perhaps — will try to steal its creative thunder; as a result, new security measures are introduced and Jacobs’s on-set freedom is restricted.

"It’s not in the film, but we sort of had an argument about it," Jacobs recalls. "I said to [Gazowsky], ‘If my film is about your film, what am I supposed to do?’ I remember leaving that day thinking, ‘The film’s over. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve got all this footage, and the story’s not complete.’ I was feeling pretty low about that."

A few weeks later, though, he was reviewing his tapes and had a revelation. Though WYSIWYG’s financial woes and creative differences among the staff had grounded Gravity, all was not lost for Audience of One.

"I realized, ‘Wow, this isn’t a film about filmmaking. This is a film about these people and specifically this one character,’ " Jacobs says. "I came back to them saying, ‘I don’t really care about your film anymore. You guys are the heart of my story, and it’s really more about you.’ I figured it would be a good way to engineer this paranoia into the narrative of my documentary, because that’s what was really happening — that was the vérité. They were trying to push everybody away, particularly me. Why can’t that be a part of the story as opposed to an inhibitor of the story?"

The tone of Audience of One reflects Jacobs’s self-described "celebratory and exploitive" approach to his subjects, about whom he remained "deeply ambiguous." This proved difficult with Gazowsky, who can be charming (he’s an intensely likable guy whose dare-to-be-great moviemaking approach is nothing if not admirable) and off-putting (he’s incapable of addressing WYSIWYG’s practical problems). "What’s so fascinating about him — and so complex and so frustrating — is how quickly he can go back and forth between being completely self-aware and being this visionary dreamer who’s crazy, if you want to call him that."

Gazowsky may have irrational moments in the documentary, but if there’s ever been a zeitgeist moment for faith-based entertainment, it’s now. There’s the obvious example of Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004), which grossed hundreds of millions of dollars. Fox Faith has distributed at least three films (including 2006’s The Ultimate Gift) in the Bay Area in the last few months. And if you think San Francisco is too godless a city to support such releases, remember this: Voice of Pentecost is here, though its members hardly resemble the Harry Potter–hating evangelicals spotlighted in Jesus Camp, a 2006 Oscar nominee that shares Audience of One‘s secular-filmmaker-documents-Christians theme.

"Because this is San Francisco, these people are extremely creative," Jacobs says, referring to the Voice of Pentecost faithful. "A lot of them have been out in the world and experimented with drugs, and that’s why they’re trying to get back on God’s plan, as they call it. Most evangelicals see things in black-and-white, but in this group there’s a large gray area. I’ve never heard them say really harsh or judgmental things about others. They would much rather get out there and celebrate God and make a film."

With that in mind, Jacobs exercised restraint in the editing room. "That was by far the most challenging part of the film, because of that balance I wanted to create: Are we laughing with them, are we laughing at them? Is this funny because they’re naive or because they’re flawed like any human being? We definitely edited for laughs, but there are no cheap shots. The laughs are based around the folly of filmmaking, not based around laughing at their god. We have fun with the material and the people, but it’s not purely ridicule — it’s as much a celebration and an inspiration at the same time. More importantly, let’s let the audience make their own decision about how they feel."

So what does Gazowsky think of the film? As evenhanded as Jacobs tried to be, Gazowsky’s portrayal is not entirely flattering. From WYSIWYG HQ, Gazowsky — who’s still awaiting funding so he can finish Gravity, among other projects — said he found the film difficult to watch but appreciated its honesty. Seeing it was quite an experience, "because you’re watching the last few years of your life going up on the screen. And, of course, I don’t have control of anything — the way it’s edited is just the way it is. And I’m looking at it, going, ‘Boy, that is a crazy guy. Do I know him? Oh, it’s me!’ It’s hard to look at yourself, I would say."

Though Gazowsky has a healthy sense of humor, he’s 100 percent serious about his filmmaking aspirations. As Audience of One shows, he dreams big — maybe too big. (A firm believer that Hollywood has abandoned good storytelling, he cites Lawrence of Arabia as his favorite movie.)

"I feel Mike [Jacobs] was very sweet, but at the same time he did not fully understand what it is we’re doing. I don’t think anyone really looking on the outside understands it. And here’s the reason: it’s because everybody’s thinking there’s an angle somewhere and never realizes we really love movies," Gazowsky says.

Though WYSIWYG’s love of movies also includes a desire to make people "feel God — and what that means to you and me might be different," Gazowsky hopes he’ll complete a project that pleases not just the holy audience of one who set him on his cinematic path in the first place but also the masses. After all he’s been through — in Audience of One and beyond — he remains steadfast. "We really want to make the biggest film ever done." *


Screening at the San Francisco International Film Festival

May 3, 6:30 p.m.; May 7, 12:45 p.m.; $10–$12

Kabuki Cinema

1881 Post, SF

(925) 866-9559



Apichatpong Weerasethakul on disasters and black magic


Whereas David Lynch at times uses all the excesses of a bad rock video to give form to the dream logic that structures his films, Apichatpong "Joe" Weerasethakul creates quietly evocative reveries. Pierced by moments of sharp humor and unexpected beauty, Apichatpong’s movies are imbued with a sense of openness, a responsive flexibility that allows their course to be redirected by serendipitous forces: a song, memories, folk tales. On the eve of the theatrical premiere of his new Syndromes and a Century, I called him on the phone.

SFBG What sort of movies did you watch growing up?

APICHATPONG WEERASETHAKUL In the ’70s I watched a lot of old Thai films and American films. At the time there were all the catastrophe movies, like Earthquake or Towering Inferno — I love those movies! And then there were [Steven] Spielberg’s and [George] Lucas’s films. I was really into their special effects.

SFBG In an interview you did with the Web site Criticine, you said movies are a form of black magic. I was really taken with that quote.

AW I don’t know if there’s a message there. But for me the power of film is not just to hypnotize. It’s a kind of magic for living as well. I have to be able to express [myself] as a filmmaker, otherwise it’s very hard to share my ideas or feelings. [Film is] like medicine, but it’s not. So maybe that’s a way in which there is some magic going on. (Matt Sussman)

To read a longer Q&A with Apichatpong Weerasethakul, go to the Pixel Vision blog at www.sfbg.com/blogs/pixel_vision.

Hot Lex


› superego@sfbg.com

SUPER EGO Lesbians: is there nothing they can’t do? They can run a contemporary art gallery in thigh-baring Versace, tossing back their Paul Labrecqued locks as they leap from their roofless 330Ci. They can go from homeless crack addict to nude Hugo Boss model without gaining a single ounce. They can be a smokin’-hot Latina named Papi, a sassy, brassy canoodler who just happens — surprise! — to be a whiz at hoops. Astonishing lesbians!

Oh, wait. That’s The L Word — about as far from the real world of gloriously rambunctious, wild San Francisco dykes as you can get without scarfing down a gift sack of MAC Pervette lip frost, doing Pilates to Ashlee Simpson ("I am me!"), and microwaving Cheeto, your stump-tailed calico cat. Yes, yes, I know the writhing isle of televised lesbos that L makes LA out to be is one big, fat, easy, anorexic target. Don’t get your Mary Green panties in a bunch, Caitlyn. Just lie back, relax, and think of Joan Jett and Carmen Electra. It’s OK. But just as Chuck D. once bemoaned the fact that most of his heroes don’t appear on no stamps, so my homo heroes don’t appear on no Showtime.

Case in point: Lila Thirkield, the superhumanly vivacious owner of SF sapphic outpost the Lexington Club. When I first moved here in the early ’90s, I almost turned straight or something. The San Francisco my naive dreams envisioned was full of hot, scruffy, tattooed boys into hip-hop and punk, all of them on goofy, gleaming bicycles, occasionally in drag. What I got were mostly overgymed proto–circuit queens in pink spandex thongs and cracked-out twinks you could practically see through. Great if I needed to floss, but … And while all the cute ex–ACT UPers were somewhere adrift — busy shearing sleeves off flannels, maybe — it was the rough-and-tumble sistas who really dotted the t’s on my fanboy résumé. Dykes ruled it.

That was back when wallet chains were radical and FTMs were the new It girls. I’m dating myself, but who wouldn’t, hello? Alas, despite all those Sister Sledge–soundtracked strides up the rainbow of equal signs, women could still get kicked out of bars for making out. Wha? It was a gay man, man, man’s world, and the few lesbian watering holes hewed strictly to the old-school standards: alternadykes, calm down.

Thirkield, a spiky-souled kid at the time, stepped up and opened the Lexington in 1997 to give dykes of a different stripe a dive of their own. Like all bars clever enough to fill a cultural gap, the Lex galvanized its community and reinforced the new, boisterous lesbo aesthetic that combined street activism, machismo appropriation, punk rock attitude, and a winking yen for girly pop culture. And hot sex, of course.

"It seemed so important to have a space where we could be creative, where artists, street kids, and young people could hook up and express themselves," Thirkield says. "It was my first time running a bar, but it was like the whole community was running it with me."

Over the past decade the Lex has persevered in the same spirit. "The economics of the city have really changed," Thirkield says. "Our crowd has a really hard time living here now — that’s why we never charge a cover and we always support other things going on. But really, we’re doing better than ever."

The young drinking dyke crowd has also expanded, finding homes over the years in such spaces as the Phone Booth and Pop’s, as well as legendary joints such as Sadie’s Flying Elephant and the Wild Side West. New bar Stray is catering to a mostly female clientele, and, although lesbian spaces Cherry and the old Transfer have succumbed, a slew of roving dyke dance parties have taken root.

"The dyke scene has changed in the past 10 years too," Thirkield says. "It’s more diverse. Certain aspects of it are more visible in the media — some people expect different things. We get a lot more complaints from people coming in for the first time, saying things like ‘It’s such a dive!’ Well, yes, that’s exactly what it is. I mean, it’s great that lipstick types exist. I hope they find a place that makes them happy. But if you want to flick your lighter and sing along to old Journey songs with a roomful of babes from around the world — like during Pride last year — this is the place."

And what about that pesky L Word? "We get a big crowd to watch it on Sunday nights — mostly because they can’t afford cable. Then they stay for an hour afterward, drinking and bitching about it. So it’s great for business!" *


Sat/14, 8 p.m.–2 a.m., free

3464 19th St., SF

(415) 863-2052


On the download: Plan B



Who Needs Actions When You Got Words

(Cordless Recordings)

"It’s disgraceful like getting caught pissing in the sink," new British rap talent to watch Plan B spits during one of the many raw, attention-grabbing moments on his stateside debut, Who Needs Actions When You Got Words. Born Ben Drew, Plan B is the angry, guitar-strumming, Cockney-accented East End, London, rapper whose thought-provoking, hardcore lyrics are exactly what hip-hop needs. Born in Forest Gate, East London, 24 years ago, Plan B was raised single-handedly by his mother after his father abandoned them both. The ensuing hardship of growing up is repeatedly funneled into Plan B’s lyrics, including "I Don’t Hate You," directed at his deadbeat dad. Meanwhile his mom’s ex-boyfriend fares even worse in such songs as "Sick 2 Def," in which Plan B fantasizes about finding him "floating in the bathtub with his wrists slit." The rapper further lashes out at the loser sponge of a motherfucker — literally — in "Mama (Loves a Crackhead)." Plan B’s passionate outspokenness against drug addiction recurs in "Missing Links," in which he sadly writes off the countless "best friends" he has lost to "brown smoke and white lines." Musically, Who Needs Actions covers a lot of ground, including its fair share of poppy R&B production values. Plan B is at his most convincing when he simply, bleakly delivers his angry rhymes over hip-hop beats or a raw acoustic guitar. But it’s all good. (Billy Jam)

UB V2?


› paulr@sfbg.com

The obvious question to ask about V2 is: what about V1? What happened there? Was it an experimental version that didn’t quite pan out, like one of Hitler’s 11th-hour rockets? Or is it still out there somewhere? Fearless of spirit, we put our obvious question to our server and were told that V2 — a small but spiffy Malaysian restaurant that opened toward the end of January in a rapidly changing quarter of SoMa — is in fact the younger sibling of V Café, which occupies the old Whiz Wit space on Folsom near 10th Street and serves a menu similar to its predecessor’s, with the cheesesteak at its center.

The line of descent seems a little skewed here. If you like V Café, you aren’t necessarily going to be prepared for V2, though you might like it as well or even more. Despite the laconic sleekness of the name and the modesty of the physical plant, V2’s kitchen turns out striking, full-flavored dishes at prices that almost seem as if they’re part of a throwback promotion. Virtually everything on the menu, even at dinner, costs less than $10, and portions are not small.

Tomorrow, meanwhile, rises like Kuala Lumpur a few blocks away, in the form of those huge residential pillars of glass under construction on Rincon Hill. There has already been a certain amount of hand-wringing about the self-containedness of these sky-suburb developments, but the popping up of V2 in the vicinity is a sign that the occupants of the towers are, at some point, expected to grow hungry and come forth in search of food — good food, the kind you find in your favorite neighborhood restaurant. While at the moment V2 is a neighborhood restaurant waiting for its neighborhood to take shape, its presence means the area will not be entirely given over to such chain gangers as Starbucks and Au Bon Pain.

Malaysian food per se isn’t yet a commonplace around here, but because Malaysia is part of Indochina and counts as its neighbors Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore — with China and India not too much farther away — the cooking is not all that foreign. Curry figures widely in V2’s seasoning repertoire; there is an obvious kinship to Indian and Thai curries, with the Malaysian varieties being a little smoother and richer than those of India and a little less fruity and hot than their Thai counterparts.

Malaysian curry beef ($7), for instance, consists of strips of meat and cubes of potato in a thick, reddish brown sauce reminiscent of the gravy (supposedly concocted of ketchup and cream to appeal to English tastes) that gives the Anglo-Indian dish tikka masala its endearing character. The curry nose was more pointed in (as the name implies) Indian mee goreng ($7), a stir-fry of spaghettilike noodles in a chili-fired, onion-breath red sauce. You can get chicken or (shelled) prawns for a buck or two extra, but even if you don’t, you will find items of interest folded among the noodles, among them flaps of wonton skin, like slices of gratin potatoes, and little stir-fried flour dumplings we thought at first might be tofu. There was an even sharper curry bite, along with a faint yellow iridescence, in cabbage with minced pork, one of the continually varying lunchtime specials. (You get two choices for $7.) There was a faint acridity here, and one suspected the use of commercially prepared curry powder.

If not curry, then sambal belachan (belacan is a more common English spelling), a paste of chiles and shrimp that’s used as a condiment in much of Southeast Asia. It turns up, mutedly, in a lunchtime stir-fry of chicken and neatly trimmed string beans; we detected a slight brininess and some heat, but the dish looked so Chinese that we had trouble understanding it as not Chinese. The distinctive flavor of shrimp, interestingly, also went missing in the prawn crackers ($2), those pastel-colored undulations of flash-fried rice flour that, when gathered on a plate, look like miniature versions of all those fake-rock Class M planet surfaces Kirk, Spock, and the gang were forever beaming down to. Despite the prawn deficit, we inhaled them.

One of the liveliest preparations on the menu is beef ribs in OK sauce ($6). The ribs are knuckle-size, and the meat’s a little tough — you must use your fingers for efficient separating of flesh from bone — but the sauce is sensational. It looks like cherry Jell-O that hasn’t yet set and combines elements of sweetness and barbecue savory to near-addictive effect. We were scooping up the last of it with spoons long after the final bone had been stripped bare.

Dessert means bananas, fried. We opted for honey ($2.95) rather than vanilla ice cream, on a wan theory of calorie containment. But it probably didn’t make much difference in the end, since either way you end up with a half dozen banana fritters: chunks of the fruit dunked in egg batter and deep-fried until golden. We couldn’t finish them.

V2 occupies a midblock storefront, which means it’s basically a large shoe box with a single set of windows, looking southeast. Nonetheless, the visual flavor is clean and modern, from the cinnamon-colored bamboo floors to the serene beige paint scheme on the walls, along with a few photographs of Kuala Lumpur. As in all such simple, Spartan spaces, noise is a concern; the shrieks and giggles of a trio of iPod-equipped young women several tables away filled the restaurant and actually made us flinch a few times. But that’s so often the way it is with neighbors. *


Mon.–Fri., 11 a.m.–8:30 p.m.; Sat., 12:30–8 p.m.

518 Bryant, SF

(415) 974-1922

Beer and wine license pending


Slightly noisy

Wheelchair accessible


Love’s labours


› le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS I’m a fickle fucking farmer, I know that. So … sorry, Doc, I’ve got a new favorite person. Her name is Zidane de la Cooter, and even though she only weighs 6 pounds, 13 ounces, she just about broke Crawdad’s back trying to bonk her way into this sad and blurry world.

I got to be there for part of it. Not that I was invited exactly, but that’s where my press pass comes in handy. I was brushing aside doctors, nurses, midwives, midfielders, and middle linebackers, flashing my credentials and saying, "Excuse me, excuse me, sorry I’m late, damn the traffic. OK, push. I’m here," I said, looking at the wristwatch I don’t wear. "Let the baby begin."

Just kidding. Really, they said, way back at the front desk, "Press pass?"

And: "Chicken farmer?"

There were two of them. And as much fun as I generally have fielding goofy little questions like these, just this once I didn’t have time for philosophy. I went straight for my trump card: "Listen," I said, "those unmuffled screams and cries and curses … that’s my ex-wife we’re waltzing to out here. And if you don’t think she needs me in there right now, then clearly neither one of you has ever been divorced." I paused for effect, then added, "Which, frankly, strikes me as statistically unlikely."

Blink. Blink … Bingo! Tears, hugs, apologies, phone numbers, passionate three-way sex, earthquakes, floods, the sound of birdies tweeting, and — blink — I was in the room. There was my brother Phenomenon and Deevee and Trotwood. There was some woman I didn’t know. A guy with a camera … scooped again by the daily news, damn it.

And there was Crawguy de la Peter, proud father-to-be, at the place of honor, right in Crawdad’s ear, saying all the right things. I tapped him on the shoulder. "OK, Dad, great job," I said. "You can go to the bar now. I’m here."

Aaaaaaaaahhhh!!! How the hell did I write myself into an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm — which I only saw once and didn’t even like? I’m trying to be funny here, and this is a serious Cheap Eats moment. This is huge! It’s Crawdad de la Cooter’s baby. This is no time to try to be funny. I must succeed. Now more than ever, my sanity depends on my being able to find the joke.

When in doubt, I always say … surrender. Immediately. Give up. Fall back on the truth, even if it ain’t funny. The truth is I’m not an idiot. I’m a chicken farmer, and this was one of the most joyous and difficult days of my life for a variety of reasons.

I was wanted, and I wanted to be there. There’s probably nobody in the world whose happiness I care about more than that of my ex-wife and beloved friend Crawdad. And there’s probably nobody in the world whose pain I feel more feelingly. The truth is that I am not strong or competent. After a couple hours of her pain and agony, I needed an epidural myself. So I went and got me one: a burrito.

Early evening. Walnut Creek, of all the unfamiliar planets in my solar system …

When I jittered out, all twisted and wrung and traumatized, the attending professionals were just starting to look at each other with question-marked eyeballs, and I was either hearing or imagining words such as suction, vacuum, surgery, toothpaste, and maybe corkscrew.

When I returned, rubbing my own pregnant belly and breathing more or less normally for the first time all day, Zidane "Z.Z." de la Cooter existed. Crawdad was all stapled up and very much on drugs. My assumption is that Phenomenon performed the operation, but I could be wrong.

The important thing was that everyone was OK now and that, through some miracle of lucky timing, I got to be in the recovery room when they brought Crawdad’s new little soccer star to her, all measured and crusty and shit, just squirming and kicking with wonder. Cutest thing you ever saw. And there ain’t a dry eye in my house every time I think of the look on Crawdad’s face when, finally, they set her baby against her skin.

The daily newsman was gone now so, appropriately, I got to hold Crawguy’s movie camera for what will likely remain the most profoundly beautiful sight I’ve ever seen: little Z.Z. finding out for her first time ever what was for dinner. I can’t speak for her. For me: carne asada. (Old friend!) Thanks to which, like a drunk on drink, my hand did not shake. *


Daily, 9 a.m.–9 p.m.

1359 Locust, Walnut Creek

(925) 932-8987

Takeout available




Wheelchair accessible


Crime-free creativity


› culture@sfbg.com

A couple dozen of San Francisco’s best young graffiti artists, many dressed in black hooded sweatshirts and baseball hats, huddle around long tables littered with markers, blank books, pens, and stickers. The artists crowded around the white paper–draped tables do a little talking and joking, but mainly they’re drawing and writing, some at a fever pitch. Bright colors and stylish lettering abound. There is a sense of concentrated creativity in this large studio space — something rare in classrooms these days. But this not your run-of-the-mill art class. This is Streetstyles, a free course that focuses on the misunderstood medium of graffiti and street art. Its aim is multifaceted, concentrating on the production and repercussions of urban art. The class attempts, as instructor Dave Warnke explains, "to separate the art from the act." He is interested in what motivates these artists: Why are they writing graffiti? What do they want people to see? What do they want people to feel?

Some kids, Warnke admits, "get into [graffiti] for the criminal mystique." But inclusion has been a key principle for Warnke and his art lessons. Although Streetstyles does not turn away any young artists, new students to the course are always pulled aside for a little one-on-one. "I ask them, ‘Do you do it for the crime? Or do you do it for the art?’ " he says. "If you don’t want to do art, then you might as well go piss on the sidewalk." The number one rule in Warnke’s class is respect. Respect for the art. Respect for one another. And respect for oneself.

"I try to give them the respect that I don’t think they get other places," he says. "I engage them, let them know that this is art. I’ve had some of these kids for years. I can help them by exposing them to different styles and by challenging them. I push them, and I’m not sure how many other people in their lives are doing that."

Originally from New Jersey, Warnke has two art degrees from Dún Laoghaire College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland, but he says his early experiences in art education were a bit rough, as he bounced around art schools before finally settling in the Bay Area. "I had no skills except drawing silly faces," says Warnke, who’s been an active street artist for more than 10 years. "My art didn’t have a place. It’s kind of like propaganda."

He figured he’d become an art teacher, then quickly realized that schools in the area were firing — not hiring — art teachers. He finally applied for a position at James Lick Middle School in Noe Valley, carefully leaving his street art out of his portfolio, which was composed of mainstream art and design work.

"I wanted to get the job," Warnke admits. "I thought I was going to teach watercolors or something. You know, bowls of fruit and stuff." But faculty members had already heard about Warnke’s back-alley and rooftop endeavors, and they were not offended. As a matter of fact, they were impressed. They offered him an opportunity to teach a class on his kind of art, street art. Thus, the first Streetstyles program was born.

After a stint at City Arts and Tech High School, Warnke decided to take Streetstyles out on its own. Starting last October — thanks to financial backing from Youth Speaks and Mark Dwight, CEO of Timbuk2 — Warnke started teaching his independent class twice a week at Root Division, a 7,200 square foot building founded in 2002 where resident artists receive subsidized studio space in exchange for their service as art instructors.

"Root Division is a great place to do it," Warnke says. "They are very accommodating." In addition to hosting Streetstyles, Root Division provides San Francisco youth with free art classes and after-school programs, hosts events, and has adult programs designed to make art more accessible to the community at large.

Streetstyles was rounded out by the addition of San Francisco graffiti legend and Root Division resident artist Carlos Castillo. Castillo, under the alias Cast, is a first-generation West Coast graffiti artist who started writing on the streets of San Francisco around 1983. Now a professional artist, sculptor, California College of the Arts graduate, and occasional graffiti art teacher for his son, Castillo edifies students about old-school styles and the history of the movement. "We balance each other out," Warnke says.

The core curriculum doesn’t stray far from that of a conventional art class. Every session starts with a stealthy lesson plan in which Warnke and his staff attempt to sneak in a little formal education. There is study of color, composition, and form. The students study typography, entertain guest speakers, and examine street art from around the world. At Streetstyles purpose, placement, and permission replace reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Warnke is aware of the criminal aspect of his passion and understands how some, particularly opponents of street art at large, might think his work empowers vandalism. There are students in his class who have been arrested, suspended from school, and even jumped for their love of graffiti. Many are doing community service for vandalism, and some have prior records for crimes unrelated to street art. Warnke counters, "I’m not a cop, and no, I’m not going to snitch. I understand [these kids’] passion, and when you compare writing graffiti to what’s going on in the schools these days and in the streets with the violence and drugs, I just want to give them even more markers. Some of these kids don’t know about anything much past 23rd Street. I provide these kids with a place that’s safe. And yeah, I let them get up. For four hours a week, they are not getting in trouble, getting in fights, doing drugs, or whatever. While they are in my class, they will all be safe, creative, and respectful."

Many of the students’ parents are supportive of the class. Warnke boasts, "I got my first ever real fruit basket from a parent, and it was a damn nice one too." He adds, "I want these kids to do something they can be proud of. Something they can take home to mom."

"You can have street art hanging at the [Yerba Buena Center for the Arts], but if you go outside and start writing on a wall, you’ll be arrested," he says. It’s an interesting paradox in his class, just as it is in the larger world of street art.

As for Warnke’s own urban artwork, these days he focuses mainly on trading homemade stickers — his and his students’ — with other street artists from around the world. "What I like about it is that it’s a different form of getting up. Some people claim all-city — well, we’re trying to claim all-world," he says. "I’m up more in Brazil and Portugal than I am here in the States."

But is Warnke still writing on walls?

"I’m semiretired," he says, smiling shyly. "I used to be invisible. Now it’s too easy to find me." *

For information on Streetstyles, visit www.rootdivision.org. Check out Dave Warnke’s professional art and design work at www.davewarnke.com.

Don’t miss "New Growth: An Exhibition of Artwork from the Root Division," part of Root Division’s Second Saturday series, which will feature work by students from Buena Vista Elementary, Fairmont Elementary, and Hoover Middle School and youth from the Streetstyles class. The event will feature free interactive art projects and musical performances by Paul Green’s School of Rock (including tributes to the Grateful Dead, Southern rock, and Frank Zappa).

May 12, 4–8 p.m., $5 suggested donation. Root Division, Gallery 3175, 3175 17th St., SF. (415) 863-7668, www.rootdivision.org


Learning from sexperts


› culture@sfbg.com

I’d never considered a career in smut until I got fired from my day job as a waiter. As a freelance journalist, my first instinct was to find a stable writing gig. But after hours of meticulously scouring Craigslist, I was a beaten man. There just aren’t that many full-time writing positions available. And though the perks in freelancing are great (changing the world, getting free shit, etc.), the financial ceiling is pretty low. But thankfully, as I abandoned my job search that night, I found myself surfing the Web for free porn and thinking about my mother. Wait. Let me explain.

My mother is also a writer. And after getting a series of rejection letters, she sought career advice from an esteemed professor. He suggested sex writing as a fast, easy way to make money, likening it to the advertising work American actors such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Charlize Theron do abroad. Thanks to pseudonyms, writers can publish erotic fiction without tarnishing their reputations. After all, who would know A.N. Roquelaure, author of the Sleeping Beauty erotic series, is really Anne Rice — unless she’d wanted us to know?

My mother was financially stable enough to disregard the professor’s advice, but in that moment it seemed to be a perfect solution for a struggling journalist. I figured all I needed was some practice and a good pseudonym.

Sound easy? It’s not.

Sexy prose does not come naturally — at least, not to me. I had to find my e-zone, to push my inhibitions aside and turn up my id. I put in a heroic effort with my first story, but the pirate-themed fetish piece was dripping with the self-deprecating humor I inject into my usual culture stories — and not all that sexy. I needed some guidance.

I figured Good Vibrations, with its wall of books with titles such as I Once Had a Master and Naughty Spanking Stories from A to Z, would be a good place to start. So I went to the Mission location, bought some anthologies, and signed up for the next night’s erotic writing circle. I thought if I met people who were working out the kinks in their writing, maybe I could work some into mine.

The next night I smoked nervously in my car outside the Center for Sex and Culture. No doubt the room would be full of semiprofessional sex writers, I figured, dressed for action in lingerie or rubber suits. They would be so comfortable talking about pussies and cocks and masturbation and fucking that I, with my red face and sweaty palms, would look like a fidgety prude.

Of course, I was wrong. I was first greeted by the center’s cofounder, sexologist Carol Queen, whose sensible sweater and black-rimmed spectacles made her look more like a hip college professor than the porn star I expected. There were about seven other people, none of them dressed for sex either. Among them: a high school teacher, a social worker, and a life coach. They all looked as nervous as me, notebooks clutched in their laps.

Queen’s cofacilitator, Jennifer Cross, began with a work in progress about a woman haunted by the memory of a rape. Her protagonist had no need for therapy, choosing instead to cultivate sanity in the arms of a lover with a taste for violent role play. Cross’s lusty voice rose and fell with her characters’ sexual peaks and valleys. It was fucking hot. And nothing like my story.

The high school teacher was next. Her story about a teenage girl’s trip to the Holy Land differed drastically from Cross’s. It seemed more funny than sexy, so I was surprised to see people squirming. The same thing happened when the life coach read. His story, told from the perspective of a young boy witnessing his first sex act, was also humorous. But it too had the desired effect on some. The grand finale was Queen’s story about a star-crossed relationship she’d had with a lesbian in denial. Her piece was funny and realistic yet undeniably erotic.

I left the reading circle confused. Although most of the stories were good, few had made my naughty bits tingle. If they could be considered erotic, wouldn’t my pirate story also qualify?

I decided to turn to the experts to help answer the tough questions.

I asked Cross about the role of humor in erotica. It seemed to work for Queen and some of the others, but wouldn’t everyone laugh at some poor dude with a pirate fetish? Cross told me not to worry. "Some folks might think a story is stupid or not sexy or boring," she said. "But there will be those who breathe a sigh of relief because someone finally wrote about their fantasy."

She also reminded me that erotic fiction — like all writing — isn’t easy. I turned to another expert, Violet Blue — sex blogger, author-editor of several erotic fiction anthologies, and well-known erotic podcaster — for more advice.

"The key is authenticity. Strive to create real, complex characters — flawed, not perfect — in realistic relationships with an honest, rip-each-other’s-clothes-off need to fuck burning beneath the surface at all times," said Blue (yes, that’s her real name), whose Web site, www.tinynibbles.com, features samples of the genre’s best writers; links to Web publishers, online communities, and safe porn sites; and photo albums of erotic art.

"And please," Blue added, "don’t go overboard with genital-sexual euphemisms."

For publishing options, Blue guided me to www.erotica-readers.com, which has an extensive list of soliciting publishers. It took a while to comb through the endless calls for submissions, and although I didn’t find any for pirate stories, I did locate Black Lace Anthologies, which offers $800 for stories with werewolves, vampires, and other oddities, and Penthouse Variations, which pays $400 for stories about anything sexual. Cross also assured me editors are open to new writers as well as experimental stories.

It seems all I need now is a pseudonym. *


2215R Market, SF

(415) 255-1155


To read Justin Juul’s pirate story, visit www.sfbg.com/blogs/pixel_vision.

A law school of their own


› culture@sfbg.com

In today’s "I’m gonna sue you" world, in which lawyers are called sharks (and often rightly so), getting a law degree from a school that offers the class "Education for a Just, Sacred and Sustainable World" might seem a little backward. However, since the ’70s a number of schools have been encouraging students to study law as a tool for practicing social advocacy — not just for lining corporate pockets (or their own).

One of the Bay Area’s banner examples is the New College of California, which — founded in 1975 out of the civil rights movement — has the oldest public interest law program in the country. But there are other stops for those with lawyerly aspirations. Golden Gate University not only offers certification in public interest law but also gives a number of incentives for students interested in helping local communities. UC Hastings College of the Law has the in-house Civil Justice Clinic, which gives students a chance to add an activist bent to their education. And most other nearby schools — from UC Berkeley’s School of Law to the University of San Francisco — now offer some kind of public interest law specialty.

So what are these programs like? Is this law lite?

Certainly not, Civil Justice Clinic director Mark Aaronson says. For example, clinic courses — which deal with employment law, housing law, and disability benefits among other areas of social interest — are very serious. In fact, students handle real cases and are advised by professional lawyers. As part of the course work in Aaronson’s Community Economic Development Clinic, students may survey community needs or translate court documents for neighborhood residents. The school is even more rigorous thanks to the fact that the yearlong program is limited to just eight students, giving them plenty of firsthand experience handling real-life legal situations. "Lawyers have to learn to lawyer in context, dealing with real problems as they occur — not just hypotheticals in a classroom," Aaronson says.

And UC Hastings’s dedication to this program goes beyond classes and course work. A number of student-led organizations offer a chance for community involvement: one group volunteers at outreach centers in SoMa along with UCSF medical students to provide medical care and legal advice to the underserved.

So where do graduates of these social justice law programs go? Some join private law firms, of course, or find government jobs serving communities in need. But others, such as Paul Hogarth, use their education to do something else entirely.

Hogarth is now the managing editor for BeyondChron.com, a daily news site produced by the Tenderloin Housing Clinic that tries to raise awareness about the Ellis Act and tenant housing rights. But first he attended Golden Gate University with help from its Public Interest Law Scholars Program, a scholarship fund that gives up to $15,000 in tuition aid and a $5,000 internship stipend to five students a year. He says the skills he gained at Golden Gate are integral to his job now.

"Sometimes I’ll write a story about a court case, and I’ll do a legal analysis of it," Hogarth says. "I also cover City Hall, and I can read legislation that’s going through and then say, ‘Well, this is what the law will do.’ "

Had Hogarth chosen to work for a nonprofit or as a public defender or prosecutor, he would’ve been eligible for a generous tuition repayment assistance grant from Golden Gate University.

It seems one of the greatest benefits of joining these programs, though, is being surrounded by like-minded people passionate about social change. For example, Antonia Jushasz, a teacher in the Activism and Social Change masters program at New College, spoke at a protest rally against the Iraqi Oil Law at Chevron Corp. headquarters March 19 with four of her students looking on — making up an impromptu class.

It’s not exactly what most of us think of when we imagine a law education. And graduates from these programs don’t exactly fit the stereotype of one of the world’s most hated professions. But it just proves as there’s more than one way to be a lawyer, there’s also more than one way to become one. So if you imagine your lawyer self as more of a dolphin (or an otter or maybe a sea lion) than a shark, don’t worry. There’s a place for you too. *


School of Law

50 Fell, SF

(415) 241-1300



536 Mission, SF




Civil Justice Clinic

100 McAllister, suite 300, SF

(415) 557-7887



2130 Fulton, SF

(415) 422-6307



Center for Social Justice

785 Simon Hall

Piedmont and Bancroft, Berk.

(510) 642-4474



3-2-1 Impact


› culture@sfbg.com

I can kick your ass. Not euphemistically, not theoretically, but literally. If you were to attack me in a dark alley — or anywhere else — I could break free, knock you to the ground, and kick you into unconsciousness. I’m five-foot-five, 135 lbs., and not particularly athletic, and I’ve been in exactly one fistfight in my life, which I won mostly by default (I was eight). But as a graduate of Impact Bay Area self-defense training, I am confident in my ability to fight for my life — and win.

I’d heard about Impact for years — how students are taught to set and assert boundaries, identify unsafe situations before they escalate, and defend themselves against an attacker — but I only recently decided to try the program myself. I knew advanced courses were offered in defense against attackers with weapons and multiple assailants, but since the majority of assaults are perpetrated unarmed (according to the National Crime Victimization Survey), I decided to start with a basics class — 20 intensive hours of physical training and emotional strengthening in preparation for handling a single unarmed attacker.


Impact training addresses a woman’s weaknesses and her strengths: how to minimize the former and capitalize on the latter in the event of an attack. Although developed in the 1980s at Stanford by martial artists, Impact training doesn’t much resemble the controlled sparring and structured techniques you’ll find at your local dojo. Instead, women are taught to fight primarily using their leg strength and lower center of gravity, often by dropping to the ground (or remaining there if they’ve been tackled or pinned). Since men are more accustomed to fighting on their feet, any advantage their upper-body strength might afford them decreases exponentially when they’re forced into ground fights.

Encouraged to fight by any means possible, women are also trained in the finer points of eye gouging, choke-hold breaking, foot stomping, testicle smashing, and weenie whomping, all while vocalizing vociferously. The intent is to be as uncooperative and squirmy as possible. The point is few attackers expect women to fight back — let alone know how.

But on our first day, my 15 classmates and I started off slowly, our moves painstakingly choreographed by our tag-team instructors: coach Naomi (last name withheld according to the Impact anonymity policy) and the padded assailant I’ll call Theo. With the practiced, upbeat demeanor of a summer camp counselor, Naomi first demonstrated the moves we’d use in each fight, then walked each participant through the scenario step by awkward step. She was both guardian and ringleader, facilitating the sometimes emotional minisessions with which we started each class and goading us in every fight. It was encouraging to note that Naomi is no superathlete. She is short and soft bodied, but her moves were executed with a precision and speed she promised we’d all achieve by graduation. The back of her T-shirt read, "Caution: I kick like a girl."

The unenviable role of attacker was played by Theo, whose average-to-large frame was made to resemble the impossible physique of a cartoon weight lifter by the custom-made body armor he wears. Encased in supersize denim overalls, Theo wore padding constructed of three separate layers of foam and hard plastic, which turned his shoulders and torso into those of an NFL linebacker and extended over his thighs and genitalia. It was the helmet, though, that turned soft-spoken Theo into the unrecognizable alien we referred to as Random Creepy Guy: an enormous dome of foam and duct tape wrapped around a hard hat, with mesh "eyes" larger than the palms of our hands. This outfit ensured the physical safety of the man we were going to learn to kick, bite, gouge, jab, stomp, and generally beat the shit out of with full permission — and full force. By our third day, a second mugger was brought in to split the work, our strikes having become too powerful for one person to withstand for six hours straight.

It’s probably time for the obligatory disclaimer: I’m no advocate of violence. And Impact is not a crash course in aggression. We each signed an agreement that includes this emphatic phrase: "I will only use the techniques for self-defense and will not ever intentionally escalate a situation that could lead to an otherwise unavoidable physical confrontation." To this end, we practiced what Naomi called the protective stance: hands up, palms out, elbows at our sides, we placed one foot behind us and one in front, knees slightly bent, ready to strike — but only if necessary. With clear, modulated voices, we then practiced setting boundaries.

"Move away," we firmly told Random Creepy Guy as he hovered nearby. "Back off." Sometimes he moved away. Sometimes he moved closer, too close, reaching out to grab, and that’s when the real action began.

Our classmates cheered and shouted out the moves. "Eyes!" they’d say as we went for the assailant’s eye sockets with fingers pressed in triangular "bird beaks." "Groin!" they’d say, and knees flew up accordingly, hands still raised to protect our space.

Down went the padded assailant. The whistle squealed. "Halt!" And from the sidelines: wild, heartfelt applause. I was elated. I’ve never struck out at anyone or anything with full force, kneed a denim-clad Martian in the groin, or been applauded by a roomful of women for any reason — let alone for either of the above. I couldn’t help but get the warm fuzzies — which was, of course, the point.

I mentally added this experience to my rapidly increasing list of personal firsts and moved on to the second scenario: being grabbed from behind and wrestled to the ground. As instructed, I employed a rapid-fire sequence of biting, elbow strikes, eye jabs, and a powerful sideways thrust kick, a move we would come to use frequently. We practiced the kick in a circle on the mats.

"Strike with the heel," Theo reminded me patiently. Eventually, I discovered that if I point my toe slightly while positioning my legs before the kick, the heel naturally extends forward on its own. "How does that feel?" he asked.

"Weird," I admitted. I imagined having to ask a real-life attacker for do-overs, grinned, and kept practicing rotating my hip.

At the end of the first six-hour day, woozy from adrenaline, one of my classmates broke down crying before her final match. Her fear of being grabbed from behind had only intensified. Naomi soothed her but had her fight anyway. We cheered her on like Romans at the Colosseum as she was tackled, and we whooped as she battled her attacker, through her tears, to a knockout blow.

It was the most important lesson we learned all day: We can fight when we’re crying. We can fight when we’re exhausted. We can fight when we’re afraid. We can fight.


It’s this attention to emotions that sets Impact apart from other full-force defense techniques such as Krav Maga (an Israeli-developed school of hand-to-hand combat). More Impact instructors hail from therapeutic or healing than fitness or martial arts backgrounds, and the emphasis on training the body and mind together helps create a supportive, refreshingly noncompetitive atmosphere in the classroom. Beyond support, though, increased awareness of our mental state helps to minimize the tendency to freeze when abruptly forced into a high-adrenaline situation. By paying attention to our impulses, we are able to snap out of inaction more quickly than sheer instinct might allow, while through repetition and the uninhibited use of our full strength, we are building fight reflexes into our body memory.

I was told that instructors go through an estimated 150 to 200 hours of training in order to be able to tailor the curriculum to each student’s needs and capabilities. Students of Impact, at least in the Bay Area, are also given the opportunity to participate in a custom fight — battling the personification of an abstract fear or a real-life trauma. In this way a single classroom can simultaneously empower a victim of past abuse (such as Naomi) to take back space, encourage a nice girl to assert her boundaries firmly, and inspire a perennial klutz like me to drop to the floor of her living room to practice thrust kicks — leading with the heel — over and over until it no longer feels weird at all but just right.

For our public celebration, or graduation, we invited friends and family members to witness our final fights. We took turns being tackled, grabbed, held down, and verbally provoked while we battled back with all the promised speed and finesse that seemed so impossible our first day. Not every move was executed with picture-perfect aplomb, but the audible thwap thwap of our connecting strikes was evidence enough of our newfound abilities. If we took nothing else away from our experience, we could be sure of this: each Impact graduate (and there are more than 8,000 in the Bay Area alone) — older or younger, fit or not — has learned to kick like a girl, with strength, with speed, with heart. *


Adults $465, young adults $395, teens $195

146 E. 12th St., Oakl.

(510) 208-0474


Join Impact Bay Area for its annual SHINE fundraiser at the Women’s Building on April 29. After a demonstration of Impact techniques, the public can watch graduates of each training level fight a padded assailant on the mat. Admission is free; children under 12 are not permitted. All proceeds go to Impact’s scholarship fund, which enables low- and no-income women to take the course. (More than $17,000 in scholarships were distributed in 2006.)

April 29, 1 p.m., free. Women’s Bldg., 3543 18th St., SF. (415) 431-1180


Help them help you


› culture@sfbg.com

Following the tornado of cutbacks and downsizing that ripped through the Bay Area, the job market has finally regained its footing, which is great news for all kinds of people, from recent grads to employees unsatisfied with their current jobs. But you don’t have to go it alone.

We’ve asked some of the Bay Area’s experts on job searching — recruiters — to guide those seeking gainful employment. Since these are the people who sell job seekers to potential employers on a daily basis, we figure who better to provide valuable insight about landing that dream job (or dream income)?

Our panel of experts: Linda Carlton, president and CEO of FinanceStaff, a recruiting resource for accounting and finance professionals in Northern California; Daniel Morris, director of staffing at Trulia, a real estate search engine poised to double in size within the next year; and Madison Badertscher, an independent recruiter currently placing engineers and computer programmers in Silicon Valley.

And just in case you’re worried about how the recruiting industry affects local job seekers, keep in mind that the demand for skilled employees is so high — especially in fields such as engineering, finance, and graphic design — that recruiters are forced to look outside the Bay Area in order to find them. This means recruiters typically aren’t threatening local job seekers (though Morris points out there are certainly people who would disagree). Furthermore, recruiters say, the global perspective that international candidates tend to bring to Bay Area–based positions is often a weighty plus.

The general consensus is that the Bay Area job market is enjoying a renewed vigor. The jobs are out there and the conduits to them are many and varied. There is simply nothing to lose by taking advantage of the myriad recruiting resources available to you, whether you are just entering the workforce or still searching for the perfect job. So use this advice, and then go get ’em:


As you might’ve guessed, the Internet is a great place to start your search — and from the looks of top job boards such as Monster.com, HotJobs.com, and Craigslist.org, all kinds of companies are hiring. But don’t hesitate to post your résumé online as well — contrary to the popular belief that you’ll just get lost in the shuffle, recruiters say this is the first place they look when trying to fill a position.

Carlton says she starts here because it’s where the most eager candidates tend to post their résumés. Morris agrees, pointing out that it’s the best place to cast a wide net.


Keep in mind, though, that your résumé is the only way you’re representing yourself on these job boards. So make sure you’ve put your best foot forward. Carlton recommends thinking of your résumé as an essay. Employers will make inferences from what they see, she says. Anything that could potentially look bad, such as a series of short-term jobs, should be given due explanation. Morris says previous successes should be quantified in a strong résumé. Sales accomplishments, for example, should be listed in quantifiable terms.

If you don’t have tons of experience, though, don’t fret. You might get just as far emphasizing how passionate you are about the potential job. Morris, for example, looks to staff Trulia with employees who have a history of doing more than is expected of them. And though Badertscher says education and relevant experience are important, she points out that credentials can be secondary to a strong willingness to learn.


Job applicants who know exactly where they want to work and what they want to do are often best off aligning themselves with in-house recruiters, who frequently develop close relationships with the hiring staff at their companies. These recruiters know the company culture, including what makes the hiring manager tick.

Applicants who have a range of ideas about what they would like to be doing or where they want to work should look for agency-based recruiters or independent recruiters, as both can help narrow the search.

Agency-based recruiters, such as Carlton, often work with companies that want to be presented with lots of candidates. They also help fill temporary jobs, which can be a great way for a job seeker to test a particular position, company, or industry before making a commitment.

But agency-based and independent recruiters have a bevy of tools to help job seekers identify what they want. For example, Carlton uses a range of personality profiling methods in order to aid applicants, including tests such as Myers-Briggs, Omni Profile, and Kathy Kolbe’s method of measuring how people like to apply themselves.


With so many companies looking to hire, recruiting itself has become a viable — but somewhat nebulous — career choice. There’s a particularly high demand for recruiters in the Bay Area, thanks to lower unemployment rates. But how does someone become a recruiter?

It’s certainly not an obvious path. Carlton says the best way is to get hired by one of the big national firms, receive some structured training from them, then go out on your own or join a smaller firm when the process becomes intuitive. "The great thing about being a recruiter is that you can do it anywhere," she says.

A wide range of backgrounds can lead to a lucrative career in recruiting. The important thing is getting the skills you need for the job. For example, Morris learned about generating leads and closing deals while working in sales at an Atlanta tech firm. Badertscher learned to be detail-oriented from her previous career in event planning. And Carlton first expressed her interest in talking to people about their careers as a high school guidance counselor — an interest she later supplemented with an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

"Recruiting is really a social science — the field can be lucrative, but it’s tough to succeed if money is your main motivation," Carlton says. "I love it when I can help someone find their dream job and help a client find the perfect person. That’s what it’s all about." *


300 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, suite 210, Oakl.

(510) 465-6070



500 Treat, suite 200, SF






Dear Diary …


› andrea@altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea:

I was on antidepressants for a year and just came off them recently. It was a situational depression — my close sister had died. I have no other psych history. Now, since I’ve been off the medication, I’ve experienced an intense surge of sexual desire and have developed an online relationship with someone where I am his sex slave–toy. I’ve always fantasized about being submissive but never seriously acted on it until now. I find it so erotic!

I feel I’m about to go out of control, though. Out of control is bad, but is being a sex slave bad? My friends and family have no idea. I need to find a safe place to act out my fantasies or go to counseling. How do women who want to be submissive slaves become so safely? What the hell is wrong with me?



Dear Bea:

Nothing that isn’t wrong with a few million of your fellow perverts, so I wouldn’t get too exercised about it if I were you. Furthermore, I’m sorry to hear about your sister and not particularly alarmed to hear about your long-distance slavery thing. Good for you for finding him, actually. Perv World abounds with would-be submissive sex toys, while tops are always in short supply. (Topping is labor-intensive and requires skill, while bottoming can be done in one’s sleep. Then again, I suppose it is so much easier to type, "I flog you. I flog you some more. I am still flogging you …," than it is to actually flog someone.) Anyway, have fun, but do me a favor: don’t forget that you actually don’t know this guy, no matter how intimate your online connection feels, and also don’t forget that you never really know where an embarrassing picture might turn up once you’ve hit "send."

Don’t fret that your newly awakened libido is going to grow to monster proportions, break free, and stomp all over town like Godzilla, swallowing subway trains and getting all tangled up in the overhead power lines. It’s normal for a sex-drive suppressed by sadness and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors to come roaring back to life when exposed to air again. Moreover, S-M, well, it does that. Early in one’s career as a self-professed kink, one tends to go a little overboard, thinking about it constantly, reading everything, joining everything, buying everything, posting unwisely to the Internet, and insisting on oversharing with anyone foolish enough to have briefly expressed even polite interest in your new hobby. You, by contrast, are remaining admirably discreet (it’s not that I think there’s anything to be ashamed of, just that there’s no reason to tell your dentist and your grandmother’s bridge club about it). You are taking it fairly slowly, keeping yourself to yourself, and having the safest supposedly dangerous sex imaginable, the kind that isn’t even really happening. Either you’re not out of control in the slightest or you aren’t telling me the whole story. I’ll have to go with the former.

Of course, there are safe ways to be somebody’s submissive sex toy, just as there are safe ways to go deep-sea diving or take up the flying trapeze — good equipment is key, but finding a good instructor comes first. It doesn’t sound like the online guy is going to become your off-line guy anytime soon, nor need he. You’re in the joining things phase (this usually passes, so you might as well take advantage now), so join something. Not so easy, I know, if you live in a small town or no town, but seriously, the exurbs are no place to be a sex slave (S-M porn abounds with isolated castles full of depraved aristocrats and isolated farms full of sick, sadistic rednecks with barns full of cowed sex slaves, but real life does not). You need to join one of the social-educational clubs you’ll find in most big cities now. They have meetings and get-togethers and swap meets. Hell, some have brunch, which always makes me laugh because I just can’t think of anything less edgy than brunch, but what could it hurt to have some coffee and a muffin and meet some nice people who like to do nasty things? This is how your modern freakazoid finds a tribe.

There may be nobody there you’d ever consider submitting to, body and soul (there almost certainly won’t be), but somebody will know somebody you will want. And even better, they’ll know if he’s safe, and even if he’s fun.

Besides urging you out into the daylight, I also support you in staying home and lurking about the more louche corners of the Internet. Acting out your fantasies online is actually a great way to find out what interests you, and there are no hard feelings if you just don’t feel like finishing a certain session because you don’t like his manner. Or his grammar.



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.