Volume 41 Number 29

April 18 – April 24, 2007

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The Guardian Iraq War casualty report (4/23/07)


The Guardian Iraq War casualty report (4/23/07): 46 Iraqi civilians killed.

Compiled by Paula Connelly

Casualties in Iraq

Iraqi civilians:

At least 46 Iraqi civilians were killed today in suicide bombings across the country, according to the Associated Press.

98,000: Killed since 3/03

Source: www.thelancet.com

62,281 – 68,289: Killed since 1/03

Source: http://www.iraqbodycount.net

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.

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:

3,570: 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.

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 (4/23/07): So far, $419 billion for the U.S., $53 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.”

Mi viva loca


Viva Pinata

(Microsoft; Xbox 360)

GAMER When I grabbed Viva Piñata at the store, I hoped the game would inspire my Xbox 360 to a greatness beyond its current status as a sleek, expensive bookend that plays DVDs. Viva Pinata’s premise might be described as Pokemon: Capitalist Edition — you are a pinata farmer in charge of creating a garden that will attract a multitude of brightly colored pinatas, which you will have to tend and breed in a totally G-rated way. You make money from selling the rarer, more valuable piñatas.

I’ll be honest: my interest in this game was piqued when someone told me you could whack the Whirm pinatas with a shovel and feed their candy viscera to the Sparrowmint pinatas. We need more of that sort of content in children’s games.

The game play is most reminiscent of SimCity: you must satisfy the requirements of your potential citizens to entice them to move in and stay. Once your population gets large, chaos ensues. You plow your garden, and once you have nice soil, a Whirm pinata moves in. These are soon followed by Sparrowmints. But why doesn’t my bird pinata eat my worm pinata? After about five tries, my Sparrowmint flew off toward my worm and ate it. This lack of responsiveness sadly plagues Viva Pinata. Actions fail and give you no indication why. At other times the game generates an ominous err-err noise and doesn’t indicate why it made the sound or refocus on the problem piñata. You have to search over your large garden of piñatas to find the one that was poisoned or got in a fight.

When your pinatas inevitably start fighting, you’ll find there’s no way to break them up except to whack or spray them. Your pinatas sicken if they lose a fight, get wet, or are smacked. If you don’t build fences, you’ll spend most of your time calling the doctor, yet building fences is nearly impossible. The analog control is terrible — it will fail to fence areas such as untilled land but won’t tell you why. Getting your pinatas behind the fence is another trial — there aren’t any gates, and the game doesn’t pause while you’re fencing. You have to herd them into the area you want to fence, and half the time they wander off while you’re building.

After about two days of playing this game, I got frustrated and sold it. The controls were awkward and unintuitive — reprehensible in an adult game but inexcusable in a kids’ one. The game play felt buggy and broken. Since this is the only real children’s title for Xbox 360, I can’t completely dis it. But your kids, being smarter and more patient than both you and me, will probably enjoy it a lot more than you will. (Kea Johnston)

The pigs are alright


FILM Rejoice, fans of smart, sharp, genre-tweaking comedy: Hot Fuzz — the latest from Shaun of the Dead writer-director Edgar Wright, cowriter-star Simon Pegg, and costar–slacker extraordinaire Nick Frost — has arrived. Pegg plays a London supercop whose makes-everyone-else-look-bad ways get him shunted to a small town where policing is limited to underage drinking and escaped swans. Or is it? Hot Fuzz apes British cop shows and American blockbusters that take law enforcement to explosive levels, including the singularly silly Bad Boys II. Recently, I sat down with the trio to get the buzz on Fuzz.

SFBG Considering Shaun‘s popularity, do you think people were surprised you didn’t make another horror movie or a sequel?

EDGAR WRIGHT I think, because every film takes three years essentially to make, to spend six years of our lives on the same idea would have been a mistake. We have so many stories to tell that you just want to keep moving on.

NICK FROST Most of the [Shaun] characters died, as well.

SIMON PEGG Plus I don’t think we wanted to be specifically tied to one genre — even if we do comedies every time — and be known as the guys who do horror comedy. It would be nice to flip between genres and types of comedy as well.

SFBG I was watching the trailers before The Hills Have Eyes 2, and someone yelled out, "Shaun of the Dead!" when the Hot Fuzz preview came on.

SP I don’t think Hot Fuzz would have been such an easy sell over here if it had been our first film, because even though it ends up being much more American than Shaun of the Dead is, it’s also much more British than Shaun of the Dead is. What we’re kind of hoping is that the groundswell of support for that film, which seemed to take place mainly on DVD, will be the thing that brings people to Hot Fuzz. I’ve been amazed at how many people have seen Shaun of the Dead.

SFBG What do people say when they see you on the street?

NF [Noo Yawk accent] Hey, Shaun of the Dead, right here!

SP I ran into someone on the Sunset Strip who was wearing a Shaun of the Dead T-shirt. He was a bit stunned, and so was I. (Cheryl Eddy)

Hot Fuzz opens April 20 in Bay Area theaters. For an extended interview with its creators, click here.

Meeting acute


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

REVIEW In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, one of the only voices raised on behalf of understanding Timothy McVeigh — that is, as someone slightly more complicated than a Hollywood-style incarnation of pure evil — was that of Gore Vidal. Vidal insisted on pointing to the obvious: the bombing of offices that included the local headquarters of the FBI and the ATF — although utterly cruel and misguided in leading to 168 deaths — was not arbitrary wickedness but a carefully considered act of revenge. As Vidal put it in his article on McVeigh for Vanity Fair, the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City "was the greatest massacre of Americans by an American since two years earlier, when the federal government decided to take out the compound of a Seventh-Day Adventist cult near Waco, Texas."

McVeigh — a decorated military hero of the Gulf War, as it turned out — had counterattacked a government he claimed was waging war against the American people. In this opinion, McVeigh, who insisted he had no accomplices, was not alone. He represented a growing libertarian movement afoot in the American heartland. Moreover, as Vidal, a critic from the left of federal tyranny, pointed out in a 1998 piece for Vanity Fair, "Shredding the Bill of Rights," the government had violated Posse Comitatus in laying its siege of the Branch Davidians.

For Vidal’s attention to the matter, McVeigh began a correspondence with him, even inviting the writer to attend his execution — an invitation Vidal declined. This immediately sounds like a fascinating, even dramatic dialogue. But stageworthy? Edmund White’s two-hander, Terre Haute, shrewdly ups the ante a bit, imagining an actual date between Vidal and McVeigh — respectively cast as the lightly fictionalized writer James Brevoord (a fine John Hutchinson) and the transparently McVeigh-like terrorist Harrison (a fiercely magnetic Elias Escobedo, who even bears a strong physical resemblance to the original). They encounter each other in the flesh in a series of brief meetings across a plastic security screen in the maximum-security prison in Terre Haute, Ind., during the days preceding Harrison’s execution.

On death row Harrison has had time to think over his actions. Neighbor Ted Kaczynski, we learn, has suggested he would have done better to blow the building up at night, when it was empty of innocents. But Harrison remains unrepentant, even if we see the burden of responsibility close over him when the lives of innocent "collaterals," particularly the children at the day care center, get mentioned. Brevoord — who is there to write on the meaning of Harrison’s act and to boldly ask the whys so studiously erased in the media — sympathizes with Harrison’s anti-imperialism while provoking the younger man with mounting scorn for his embrace of feeble right-wing conspiracy theories.

Besides a political tête-à-tête, the meeting is the occasion for a clash of personalities, temperaments, and backgrounds, all of which White brings out starkly in the dialogue: Brevoord, for instance, is the kind of man who has no trouble using kerfuffle in an idle sentence, although an indeed is more than enough to throw Harrison for a loop. The tension here is often lightly comical, but the point about education, intellect, and political opposition (and the art of the interviewer) is well made. And if the script feels overly expositional at times, the actors offer strong and credible performances throughout.

The New Conservatory Theatre Center’s US premiere is a sharp and intimate production, staged by director Christopher Jenkins with intelligent assurance, including a concentration on character that garners moments of alternately subtle and electric intensity between two men negotiating an extraordinary situation. Yet the director can’t resist kitschy flourishes, introducing the McVeigh character, for instance, with a short piercing scream of sound and a light that illuminates Harrison standing like Hannibal Lecter behind the see-through wall of the visiting cell. Scenic designer Bruce Walters’s visiting room, meanwhile, is a simple but convincingly dire arrangement of wire-woven Plexiglas walls, yellow-taped borders, and blinking security cameras.

White draws the facts of the case, as well as the style and argument from Vidal’s relevant essays, into well-crafted if sometimes information-laden dialogue. It can be too clashing and unnecessarily confrontational, but it is generally graceful and filled with absorbing ideas, especially in the monologues given to the Vidal character. Unfortunately, the play gets distracted from the meat of its story. That tale not only sports an intriguing tension between two very different sorts of rebels but is politically urgent and deep, ranging from the correct response to a truly totalitarian encroachment on fundamental liberties to the dissolving relation between cause and effect in a culture dominated by mind-numbingly interchangeable images of good and evil.

Instead, the play ends up veering off into carnal considerations of repressed desires, a layer to the characters’ relationship that was probably best left hinted at. The best you might say about it is that it further humanizes a figure too quickly passed off as a cartoon rather than a riddle that needs solving. But in practice it tends to trivialize what’s gone before, inevitably mixing an unhelpful pinch of Freud into the media-repressed why of a terrible public act. *


Through May 6

Wed.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; $22–$40

New Conservatory Theatre Center

25 Van Ness, SF

(415) 861-8972



Eco trip


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER So you wanna live clean, go green, and leave a low-impact footprint on this embattled Earth — yet you also want to bring the noise, bust a move, and get the rock out? It’s worth wondering about on Earth Day, when everyone seems to be looking to what they can change while the powers-that-be hold their apocalyptic course. Some might argue that a decadent pop lifestyle clashes with the color green — and even those who want to tour consciously must pay a price.

"It is a lot of work," said Oakland musician John Benson, whose veggie oil–fueled bus and curbside shows are a model for ecopunks who want to burn less petroleum and more french fry grease. He has converted vehicles for about five bands so far and plans to attend the Version Festival in Chicago to demo veggie-run vehicles, but Benson and his converts are learning that culling free fuel from oil Dumpsters behind truck stops can be dirty and time-consuming work.

"Bands that are really glamour conscious get really bummed out," he explained. "There’s a time loss and a filth factor, and when you’re on a tour, you’re conscious of making the next show." Also with used oil, "you get dead rats, sweet and sour sauce, and the occasional ball of hair," he added. "You have to be prepared to pull over and pull it out. Be prepared to get your favorite suit covered with rat droppings. It’s a fashion hazard."

Still, creating a cleaner planet doesn’t have to be a filthy business, despite the fact that even green-minded musos such as Smog Veil Records honcho Frank Mauceri admit, "Traditionally, the music industry has not been a green industry. It’s not a business that’s been sensitive to the environment."

Nonetheless, Mauceri, who fought Chicago’s city hall to install an electricity-producing wind turbine and solar panel system atop his new headquarters, and others are trying to buck tradition. San Francisco singer-songwriter Kelley Stoltz’s recent Below the Branches (Sub Pop, 2006) sported a Green-e label, tagging the full-length as the first to be recorded with all-renewable energy purchased through offsets from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour similarly created a climate-neutral solo album, On an Island (Sony, 2006), through an arrangement with the CarbonNeutral Co., planting trees in response to the carbon emissions produced during the disc’s making.

But what can you, humble musicmaker and fan, do? I did a little chatting, Web searching, and non-ozone-depleting cogitating for just a few suggestions on how to green your music enjoyment.

THE TROUBLE WITH CDS Are digital downloads the real green deal for music consumers? Part of Smog Veil’s green initiatives involves eliminating jewel cases and using all-paper Digipaks, eventually moving to solely digital downloads. But the digital divide continues to be an issue — so the nonwired music lover might want to purchase music from bands such as Cloud Cult who have packaged their CDs in 100 percent postconsumer recycled paper with nontoxic soy ink. And those still attached to the shiny plastic discs can turn to Green Citizen (1-877-918-8900) for recycling. Meanwhile old-school DIY-ers such as Benson make a plea for analog: "People are finding bulk tapes in thrift stores and recording over them in the spirit of recycling."

DELIVERY SYSTEM BLUES You’ve proudly purchased that ecofriendly download, yet what to do when the trusty iPod breaks? Apple has a recycling program: any US Apple store will accept old iPods and offer a 10 percent discount on a new player. Nonetheless the highly toxic e-waste generated by all MP3 makes and models continues to worry environmentalists. Cart those busted players to the aforementioned Green Citizen or call pickup artists such as E-Recycling (1-800-795-0993).

LIVE WASTE "Music is a catalyst," Perry Farrell recently told me from London. "It can bring people together and make change fashionable. I’d love to see everyone buying recycled paper and buying hydrogen fuel cell cars." Farrell has done his part with Lollapalooza, which introduced solar-powered stages and came up with fun ways to encourage recycling (audience members gathering the most recyclables have scored backstage passes). Bonnaroo and the Vans Warped Tour have powered stages, generators, and buses with biodiesel. Still, efforts can be as simple as the Green Apple Music and Arts Festival (not to be confused with the SF bookstore). Founder Peter Shapiro is using the fest to promote Earth Day with shows in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City this year while providing city venues with environmentally friendly paper products, garbage bags, and cleaning materials and offsetting the carbon dioxide emissions produced by the festival, making it the largest carbon-neutral event in the country. He told me that he hopes "we’ll get people to think about it for 30 seconds, maybe go buy an energy-efficient lightbulb, maybe carpool or walk to the next show."

GET IN THE VAN Not all young bands can afford to buy carbon dioxide emission offsets and convert to biodiesel when they go on tour, like Barenaked Ladies, Pearl Jam, Gomez, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young — let alone slap their name on a biodiesel company the way Willie Nelson has with BioWillie. But that doesn’t mean musicians have to stop spreading the green love. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin’s Philip Dickey says his Springfield, Mo., group is aiming to convert its touring van to veggie oil someday, but until they can afford it, they’re trying to do their part. "No one in the band has a car. We all ride bikes when we’re in town, and when we’re touring, there’s five of us in a van. Pollution sucks, and pollution coming out of our van sucks. But it’s not like one person in an SUV. We also have a new song called ‘Bigger Than Your Yard’ about how everyone has to have a car." *


With Bob Weir and Ratdog, Stephen Marley, the Greyboy Allstars, and others

Sun/22, 11:30 a.m., free

Golden Gate Park

Fulton and 36th Ave., SF

Other events run Thurs/19–Sat/21

For a schedule, go to www.greenapplefestival.com


Tues/24, 8 p.m., $14–$15


333 11th St., SF

(415) 255-0333


El pollo greco


Herbs tell stories, and the association of certain herbs with certain experiences can be specific and powerful. Basil, for instance, is summer and tomatoes, while sage is Thanksgiving and bread stuffing. Oregano? Its strong perfume is the smell of pizza — but it’s also Greek. It is, in particular, the herb that gives Athenian or Greek chicken its bewitching character.

For years I tried without much success to create at home a plausible version of the Athenian chicken that we found so irresistible in Greek restaurants. The restaurant chickens often seemed to have been roasted on rotisseries, and while I couldn’t match that, I did have my trusty vertical roasters, which produced (with day-before rubbing of kosher salt and Herbes de Provence) wonderful Zuni-style roast chickens. My basic theory was to substitute oregano for the Herbes; this worked, but the results were underwhelming, certainly no match for their Zuniesque brethren. Smashed garlic and lemon slices under the skin? These helped a little, but the birds still seemed to lack the sought-after verve.

Of course, there is more than one way to roast a chicken. Roasting says oven the way oregano says pizza, but it need not be so. Let us not forget pan roasting, a near relation to braising, in which the item in question is cooked on the stove top in a small amount of fat or other liquid. I had a time-tested recipe for pan-roasted lemon-rosemary chicken; what if I dropped the rosemary in favor of (dried) oregano? I did: eureka!

Start with an oregano-and-salt-rubbed chicken, cut into pieces. Put the pieces in a large nonstick skillet over lively heat for a minute or two, turning occasionally until they’re lightly seared. Add a couple of tablespoons each of sweet butter and olive oil to the pan, along with a good pinch of salt, a heaping tablespoon of dried oregano, and three cloves of smashed, peeled garlic. Cook for a few minutes more, shaking the pan and turning the pieces. Add a cup of dry white wine, and bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer, partly covered, for 30 to 40 minutes, turning the pieces now and then. When the chicken is golden brown, remove from the pan and deglaze with the juice of one lemon. I use a gravy separator for the pan juices, but you don’t have to. Serve the jus on the side and say oompah!

Paul Reidinger

› paulr@sfbg.com

Politics Blog



More fun?


› duncan@sfbg.com

"Have you heard this yet?" I asked the cashier at Green Apple Books and Music’s annex, laying The Weirdness (Virgin) on the counter. The black cover with the ominous Stooges logo in reflective silver seemed somehow dangerous in and of itself.

"Yeah. It’s all right," he answered. "It could’ve been worse."

"So it’s no Fun House?"

"Not even. But it’s not bad. It could’ve been really embarrassing."

So, how is The Weirdness — aside from not too embarrassing? It opens with a grunt from Iggy Pop and a squealing guitar that sounds like an overdriven, amplified harmonica. The track, "Trollin’," is, of course, about tooling for twat in a convertible, with lines such as "I see your hair as energy / My dick is turnin’ into a tree." Not to throw salt in a brother’s game, but with the Igg turning 60 at the Warfield show April 21, the boner jams might be a little inappropriate.

But when have the Stooges ever been appropriate? Pop’s lyrics have always blurred the line between idiot and savant: we can all agree that "The Passenger" is some of the finest alienation poetry ever penned, but "It’s 1969 OK / All across the USA / It’s another year for me and you / Another year with nothin’ to do" ain’t exactly Shakespeare. The Weirdness includes Mike Watt on bass, who, despite his storied history with the Minutemen and Firehose, must be crapping his trousers every time he gets onstage with the band. Steve Mackay — the original sax player who brought unadulterated free-jazz death skronk mayhem to "LA Blues," the outro to Fun House (Elektra, 1970) — is heavily showcased, and the whole thing was recorded by Steve Albini, the obvious choice to put the album to tape with minimal hocus-pocus.

As a latter-day Iggy Pop slab, The Weirdness is pretty damned OK. I mean, 9 times out of 10, are you going to grab Naughty Little Doggy (Virgin, 1996) instead of Lust for Life (RCA, 1977)? But every so often, you get that wild hair up your ass, and since you’re not expecting too much, you’re pleasantly surprised. The Weirdness has its moments: it’s got the anthemic "My Idea of Fun" ("is killing everyone!") and the shambling, rambling "Mexican Guy," a sort of twisted version of "Subterranean Homesick Blues." It’s got Iggy as crooner on the title track and "Passing Cloud," both recalling the hugely underrated 1979 Arista disc New Values. It’s got lusty shout-outs to black women ("The End of Christianity") and bum-outs ("Greedy, Awful People").

But is it a Stooges album? I know that for guys like Pop and brothers Ron and Scott "Rock Action" Asheton, on guitar and drums respectively, the idea of some college kid walking around campus cranking their music may be antithetical to a "Search and Destroy" ethos, but like it or not, punk — and its kinder, gentler offspring indie rock — broke on college radio and campuses. During my time in the institution, when I felt up to my eyeballs, I’d put Fun House on the headphones, walk over to the coffee cart, and just melt everyone like I had heat vision. Seven tracks, just under 37 minutes, both life affirming and a complete sonic death match. Linda Blair in The Exorcist has nothing on the scream — "Loooooord!" — Pop lets out at the beginning of "TV Eye," followed by one of the simplest and heaviest guitar riffs in history, played by Ron Asheton before he was moved to bass in favor of the more polished, less primal James Williamson. That type of sheer rock ‘n’ roll megatonnage has yet to be matched — it’s just not fair to hold The Weirdness to the same standards as the three original Stooges records.

No one’s going to be screaming out the names of new tracks. Thirty years down the line, it doesn’t matter if the reunion is a cash grab or a fitting epitaph. What matters is that it’s the Stooges. Are you gonna miss the second coming on account of not being overwhelmed by the latest chapter? Six decades in, Pop has been a prince and a pauper, a louse-ridden junkie and a rock god. He’s been covered in peanut butter and blood. He’s been your dog, and he’ll be it again. *


Thurs/19 and Sat/21, 8 p.m., $39.50–$45


982 Market, SF

(415) 775-7722


Resurrection blues


› kimberly@sfbg.com

Sure it’s all about puppy love, music-geek boners, and clean-cut strangers offering to be their dog now, but as Iggy Pop declared during a crowded onstage interview at this year’s South by Southwest fest in Austin, Texas, back when the once-decried Stooges first burst blown-out, bratty, and oozing monosyllabic menace, bristly distortion, and snotty attitude from Ann Arbor, Mich., "the two things were, ‘They can’t play.’ " He gestured toward the two other surviving original Stooges, guitarist Ron Asheton and his brother, drummer Scott, then nodded almost imperceptibly toward himself. "And ‘We hate him!’ "

Thirty-four years after the Stooges called it quits the last time around, that animosity was absent the next night as the Stooges packed the dirt expanses of Stubb’s in Austin. The Stooges’ first two albums, 1968’s self-titled debut and 1970’s Fun House (both Elektra), left an indelible, grotesque yet groovy, brutal bruise on rock’s flower-power posterior with the most proudly primal and corrosive art rock ever generated by smarter-than-they-looked-or-sounded troglodytes enamored of the dirty blues, garage rock, and free jazz. And now it looked like the surprisingly mixed mob at Stubb’s of T-shirted record collectors, black-garbed rockers, shaggy hipsters, gray-haired codgers with pasteled wifeys, buttoned-down frat boys, and straightened-haired patrician blonds was all in on the joke and the joy of still-powerful songs such as "1969" and "TV Eye." A deeply tanned, limber Pop undulated above the mass, flailing and bounding like a bronze lizard made of bubble gum and Motor City tire rubber, seemingly swallowed by the crowd, then spat back out while the Ashetons, Mike Watt on bass, and Pacifica resident Steve Mackay on sax punched through bleeding, blighted versions of "No Fun" and "Loose."

Still, you couldn’t help tearing your peepers away from arguably the finest rock combo ever to roll off Detroit-area assembly lines to wonder who were all these people? Deeply closeted Stooges fans who wore out the grooves of their gatefold Fun Houses in the dark beside dank jocks and dusty sneaks? Surely there were more Three Stooges Usenet newsgroups than Stooges message boards? If you weren’t even born when a band first came around, does the connection you forge with the group and its work still count as nostalgia?

What does someone in the middle of the Stooges reunion storm, such as Ron Asheton, feel about the newbs and the love lavished even as the band fails to gather enough votes to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame despite multiple nominations?

"It’s the best time. It’s superfine," the 58-year-old Asheton says from Ann Arbor. "Especially since the audiences are more receptive than they’ve been in the past. They know the songs. It’s kind of like the world has caught up with the Stooges."

Between playing with bands such as Destroy All Monsters and acting in low-budget horror flicks such as Mosquito, Asheton — a born raconteur given to wicked, basso profundo Pop impersonations and swoopingly dramatic vocal flourishes — has been holding down the inherited Asheton family homestead as the only remaining Stooge left in Michigan while Scott and Pop spend most of the year in Florida. He was prepping for the start of the reunited Stooges’ first full US tour and looking forward to working on the 30 or so additional songs written during the making of The Weirdness.

SFBG Why do you still live in Michigan?

RON ASHETON I love it. It’s a beautiful state. I love the Great Lakes, and I have a place on Lake Heron that I get to go to infrequently. When I was younger, we moved so much that when I finally got to Michigan, I said when I was 14, [miming a pouty teen] ‘I’m never moving again!’ Though I did live in California for six years when Main Man Management took the Stooges to LA — being here was like being in the backwater rather than being close to the action when you’re young and stupid!

SFBG How do you feel about The Weirdness?

RA When I listen to it, I can’t just listen to it once — I really do, it’s true! — I listen to it twice, and I picture people in the summertime, riding in the cars or sitting by the campfire on the beach or having a backyard party.

It was really fun to do it differently than in the past, where with the first record, we had one week. I never heard the record till it was actually in the stores. The second, Fun House — I heard the acetate shortly before it was released, and that only took two weeks. This one took three weeks, and I got to be one of the producers.

SFBG Why weren’t you able to listen to The Stooges before it came out?

RA That’s the way record companies dealt with things. It was just taken out of our hands after we were done — "You kids are dismissed! Leave the room!" The producer [John Cale] and the owner [Jac Holzman] of the record company took the record, and they got a new toy! "Yeah, I paid for it! I can do whatever I want with it!" So it was very smart of Iggy to want to have control of the new record.

SFBG The Stooges always wrote songs based from the start on your guitar riffs. How did you develop the songs this time?

RA We did it on this also. The only difference now was it was concentrated — going down to Florida and me walking in the building, plugging in my guitar, and starting to play. Iggy lurking about — same thing. Coming up with things just off the top of my head, and Iggy saying, "Hey, I like that!"

SFBG How would you describe the Stooges’ dynamic, writing and playing together?

RA I think part of it is we actually grew up together. Being teenagers and deciding to get a band house and getting that first summer sublet and finally getting kicked out of there and moving on and getting another place, that common bond of doing everything together. We literally ate dinner together, went out, cruised the town, went to parties, knowing we were part of the birth of that ugly baby the Stooges! *


Thurs/19 and Sat/21, 8 p.m., $39.50–$45


982 Market, SF

(415) 775-7722

For more from Ron Asheton, go to www.sfbg.com/blogs/music.

Pixel Vision Blog



The Mix


(1) Deerhunter, 12 Galaxies

(2) Backpacking in Big Basin

(3) Glamamore and Mr. David, PHotoREALness, Gray Area Gallery

(4) Packed dykes, Lexington Club’s 10th anniversary

(5) Hip-hop night, Transfer

Biodiesel backfire


› news@sfbg.com

On May 18, 2006, Mayor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Directive 06-02 — also referred to as the Biodiesel Initiative — ordering the city of San Francisco to switch to a fuel blend that includes at least 20 percent biodiesel in all of its diesel vehicles. The move won environmental plaudits: the National Biodiesel Board cited the plan as being the farthest-reaching proclamation of its kind.

It was the kind of ambitious program that played up the mayor’s environmental credentials. Biodiesel is made not from petroleum but from renewable domestic resources such as vegetable oil. It produces far fewer greenhouse gases and toxic byproducts than traditional diesel and can work with any standard diesel engine.

Using just 20 percent biodiesel in the fuel mix can reduce carbon monoxide emissions by 12 percent and smog-forming hydrocarbons by 20 percent.

And Newsom insisted this wasn’t a far-off dream: he projected that a full 25 percent of the city’s diesel fleet would be using the green fuel by March 31, 2007, and every last bus, street cleaner, and fire truck would be switched over by the end of the year.

But March 31 has come and gone, and the city isn’t even close to meeting that goal.

San Francisco uses approximately eight million gallons of diesel fuel per year, in vehicles ranging from heavy-duty fire engines to street sweepers, airport shuttles, and maintenance vehicles. The biggest user by far is Muni, which burns as much as six million gallons annually.

And Muni is way behind on its biodiesel deadline. In fact, the agency has yet to submit its pilot proposal to the Department of the Environment. And while clean vehicles coordinator Vandana Bali told us 33 of Muni’s nonrevenue vehicles are being fueled with B20 — the mandated mix of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent traditional petroleum product — she was unable to offer even a tentative timeline for introduction of the less-noxious fuel into Muni’s diesel bus fleet.

Converting Muni to biodiesel hasn’t been as easy as Newsom projected. Much of the bus fleet uses a high-tech emission control system, and the manufacturer hasn’t approved the device for use with biofuels.

And then there are the transition issues.

Mike Ferry, a firefighter at the San Francisco Fire Department, which runs about 150 diesel vehicles, told us the department had to put a lot of time and money into upgrading its infrastructure for biodiesel.

Regular diesel is a fuel that practically takes care of itself, even under substandard conditions — but biodiesel requires better storage conditions, more regular rotation, and cleaner tanks. And although diesel engines require little to no modification to be compatible with biodiesel blends, it’s often necessary to change out the fuel filter before introducing the biofuel, to prevent clogging.

The fire department also has to clean out all 20 of its diesel storage tanks, at a cost of between $2,000 and $3,000 a tank.

But for a department with an annual budget of $220 million, that’s not a vast amount of cash. And several other city departments have managed to comply with Newsom’s edict. San Francisco International Airport started using B20 in 19 airport shuttles in July 2006, and the entire inventory of approximately 150 diesel vehicles switched to B20 on a permanent basis the following September.

The city’s central shops, where more than 900 diesel vehicles — including street sweepers and Recreation and Park Department equipment — are fueled, switched one of two diesel tanks over to B20 in 2006 and the second on March 15, 2007. Jim Johnson, superintendent of central shops, estimates that the agency uses about 650,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually.

But compared with the six million gallons of diesel fuel used by Muni, 650,000 gallons is a drop in the municipal bucket. In fact, while the Biodiesel Initiative was designed to spare the air the effects of at least 1.6 million gallons of petrodiesel annually, 20 percent of 650,000 gallons is just 130,000 gallons of pure biodiesel. Even adding in the approximately 5,000 gallons of B20 per month used by the airport and the 2,000 gallons (out of 170,000) per month currently being used by the Fire Department, the city still falls short of 25 percent implementation by a large margin.

Nathan Ballard, a spokesperson for Newsom, told us the mayor had discussed the situation with Muni before making his public statement and at the time Muni officials were fully supportive of the plan.

It’s still possible for the city to get closer to Newsom’s emissions-reduction goal: even if Muni is unable (or unwilling) to make the shift, other agencies could increase the amount of biodiesel they put in the mix. Most vehicles can run fine on 100 percent biodiesel. But December is fast approaching — and it’s hard to see how Newsom can make his promise come true. *

For more SFBG biodiesel coverage, click here

Local Grooves




(Tee Pee)

It only takes a quick look over the cover art (a gauche sci-fi trip) and song titles ("Summon the Vardig," "Message by Mistral and Thunderclap") to get the Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound’s vibe: paint-thinner psych, boys-club rawk. There’s nothing subtle about Ekranoplan, but the Assemble Head generally seem likable traditionalists on it, worthy adherents of the nothin’-fancy ethos of heavy rockers such as Blue Cheer.

Producer Tim Green (the Fucking Champs) has previously twiddled the knobs for Comets on Fire, and it’s a little hard not hearing the Assemble Head as Comets’ younger (and possibly even more stoned) brother. The album’s overture, for one, is frankly imitative: a skuzzy riff rides teakettle feedback and a cresting cymbal before the band belly flops into a chugging Stooges riff and throaty vocals. It’s a great formula, but the Assemble Head don’t have Comets on Fire’s experimentalist instincts, making such passages seem, well, formulaic. Ekranoplan works better when the band plays it fast and loose on guitar rave-ups such as "Mosquito Lantern" and snaky biker ballads "Rudy on the Corner" and "Gemini." Toss in an instrumental that sounds like it could be an outtake from the acoustic side of Led Zeppelin III (titled, in all restraint, "The Chocolate Maiden’s Misty Summer Morning"), and you’ve got a fine record: nothin’ fancy, but a keeper for the coming summer. (Max Goldberg)


With Howlin Rain, Citay, and Voice of the Seven Woods

Tues/24, 9 p.m., $8.50–$10

12 Galaxies

2565 Mission, SF

(415) 970-9777


Remixed and Covered

(5RC/Kill Rock Stars)

The latest from electrotheatrics trio Xiu Xiu — one disc apiece devoted to covers and remixes by kindred warriors in the fight against musical sterility — is a cranium-gorging success, thanks to the artists’ finessing of the middle ground between reverence for the originals and eagerness to tweak them into thoughtful new forms. While all nine interpretations on the first disc are successful in this balancing act, the most noteworthy are those least beholden to the familiar Xiu Xiu viral-electro template. Larsen’s computer-vocal "Mousey Toy" imagines Laurie Anderson fronting an early Tortoise record. Devendra Banhart takes "Support Our Troops" on a spin in his interplanetary doo-wop time machine.

The remix disc brims with equally intriguing constructions. Gold Chains’ thumping mix of "Hello from Eau Claire" makes over vocalist Caralee McElroy into the queen of Alienated Divaland, and Warbucks’s overhaul of "Suha" is a stunning piano-driven electropop confessional evoking Talk Talk’s finest moments. If that’s not ear-pricking enough, consider the disc’s closer: To Live and Shave in LA filter the entirety of Xiu Xiu’s The Air Force album into a four-minute dreamscape that bristles and glows in a proper brain-scrubbing tribute to the band. (Todd Lavoie)


Sun/22–Mon/23, 8 p.m., $14

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

(415) 621-4455


Guide to greener living



This is your one-stop ecoshop for green resources in the Bay Area. Want to know how to convert your home to solar power or learn how to compost, garden, or use nontoxic pest control? The Ecology Center has answers and classes. Want to go biodiesel? Visit the Berkeley Biodiesel Collective, one of the center’s sponsored projects. The center also runs Berkeley’s curbside recycling program, prints Terrain magazine, and publishes an eco-calendar of green events and classes in the Bay Area.

2530 San Pablo, Berk. (510) 548-2220, www.ecologycenter.org


"We started the Green Zebra as a way for consumers to start enjoying nearby environmentally conscious businesses," founder Anne Vollen says of Green Zebra’s coupon book, which offers 300-plus pages of discounts on green restaurants, spas, travel, cultural activities, and much more. "But we’ve had such an enormous response from businesses and buyers alike that it’s become a virtual directory of all the green-minded things the Bay Area has to offer."



Don’t let your used electronics go to e-waste. Green Citizen recycles obsolete and unwanted computers, CDs, cell phones, batteries, printers, and TVs (among other media-related things) and helps you hook up with institutions and programs in need of them. Can’t lift that antique monitor? Green Citizen also offers pickup service.

591 Howard, SF (and various locations). (415) 287-0000, www.greencitizen.com


Buildings consume a third of the country’s energy; substantially reducing that usage amount is possible through mindful construction and design. Plan-It Hardware is a green-focused, San Francisco–based hardware and home improvement distributor with hundreds of products and ideas for making your home greener, including environmentally conscious paint, weather stripping, flooring, gardening tools, and plumbing fixtures.



Eco-friendly limo. Sounds like another term for “VW Vanagon full of hippies going to the prom,” doesn’t it? But in the case of SF-based Bauer’s, it isn’t anything close. Bauers’ 120 electric, biodiesel, and compressed-propane-powered shuttles and cars may be the largest fleet of eco-friendly vehicles in the U.S., but they aren’t lacking for luxury. Stretch and hybrid limo-style vehicles, including the 2007 Lexus RX 400H SUV hybrid, come equipped with leather seats, Wifi, high end CD and DVD systems, LCD monitors for presentations, and even ports to plug in your iPod or phone. That’s a long way from van benches soaked with bong water.

Pier 27, SF; (800) LIMO-OUT, www.icars.cc


Pry your rug rats away from those glowing screens and aim them at something natural. With Tree Frog’s programs, kids can go tide-pooling at Duxbury Reef, take a nature hike on Twin Peaks, and get creepy-crawly at Frog Hall with "Ross’s Ravenous Reptiles!" program. There they’ll meet Bully the bullfrog, Sid the snake, and Cletus the three-toed box turtle.

2112 Hayes, SF. (415) 876-3764, www.treefrogtreks.com


Wanna eat green? Thimmakka’s Resources for Environmental Education, a registered nonprofit, helps restaurants and bars get green certification — and also helps consumers find them through its comprehensive Web site.



World Changing’s Web site presents itself as a forum for figuring out how technology can be used to preserve and improve our world rather than destroy it. Read about and comment on digital houses; the 200 shared bikes of Barcelona, Spain; and state-of-the-art hydroturbines.



Pablo Picasso once declared himself "king of the ragpickers." Some of his most amazing art was made from found objects — other people’s trash. Since 1976, SCRAP (the Scroungers’ Center for Reusable Art Parts) has been helping ragpickers get art materials. The center operates a store and offers workshops on basket weaving, lamp rewiring, and other useful recyclables skills.

834 Toland, SF. (415) 647-1746, scrap-sf.org


Don’t just throw your old mattress on the street, leaving it to collect rainwater, dirt, fleas, and other unsavory grime. Bedbusters guarantees that your mattress will avoid the landfill, its steel springs and other materials will be recycled, and your conscience will be clear, for a reasonable fee.

(415) 516-5865, www.bedbusters.com


Think you have to go to Yosemite or Point Reyes to commune with nature? Think again. This organization is all about teaching San Franciscans how to recognize and care for the indigenous plants and animals living in our urban landscape — or as some call it, the Franciscan bioregion (from San Bruno Mountain to the Golden Gate Bridge). Check out the Web site to learn more, join a stewardship effort, and find green events.

(415) 564-4107, www.natureinthecity.org


Realize whirled peas (and carrots and broccoli) with help from Garden for the Environment, a nationally acclaimed program that teaches organic gardening, urban composting, and sustainable food systems at community workshops, the Gardening and Composting Educator Training program, outreach programs for local schools, and a one-acre urban demonstration garden. Plus, most classes and workshops are free.

780 Frederick, SF. (415) 731-5627, www.gardenfortheenvironment.org


Everything you ever wanted to know about living car-free in the city. Part resource, part activist organization, Livable City hosts workshops on walking, biking, and using public transit, as well as advocates for parking reform, better street planning, and the creation of a landscaped greenway to connect parts of the city.

995 Market, SF. (415) 344-0489, www.livablecity.org


An extensive and well-designed green resource guide for the city, this government Web site has information on everything from where to recycle toner cartridges and mercury thermometers to how to dispose of asbestos and biohazardous waste. (Choose the item in the easy "ecofindeRRR" box or search through resources one by one.) This is also the place to join Green Connect volunteer events, learn about green-leaning celebrations and meetings, and find links to news stories about the environment.



PlantSF is a grassroots program that provides information on permeable landscaping and urban farming and works with the city on land-use conversions. If you’ve ever wished the expanse of concrete outside your house were a little less paved and a bit prettier, these are the people to talk to about making that happen.

11 Grove, SF. (415) 355-3700, www.plantsf.org


All aboard the ecobus! This organization takes Das Frachtgut, the veggie oil–fueled bus Jens-Peter Jungclaussen uses as a mobile classroom, on an ecofriendly party tour. Movie nights are all about watching modern classics and then doing some kind of relevant outdoor activity (e.g., see The Big Lebowski, then bowl outside). Dance nights turn the bus into a mobile DJ booth and an instant, impromptu club. It’s fun, safe (no drunk driving, kids!), and above all, Earth friendly. *



There was a time when real estate was all about making money – and realtors were like the characters in American Beauty. Thankfully, times they are a changin’. Now you can buy or sell your house through Green Key Real Estate, the first (and only) green real estate brokerage in San Francisco. Green Key runs a sustainable business (minimizing office waste, donating a portion of profits to green building organizations, running the office on wind power) while encouraging sustainable building and remodeling. Most importantly, though, it’s experienced real estate agents linking like-minded people to each other and to the services they need.

28 Clayton, SF; (415) 750-1120, www.greenkeyrealestate.com


This online superstore is like Target (or Fred Meyer, for you Pac Northwest transplants) for environmentally sound products. We’re talking organic soy wax candles (since paraffin pollutes the air), recycled glass tumblers, picture frames made of reclaimed wood, super efficient refrigerators, all-natural hardwood furniture (since pressed wood products use formaldehyde and synthetic adhesives), household cleaners, baby clothes, and so much more. Plus, the Richmond-based (but exclusively online) store maintains a list of useful articles, news, and tips about living green, as well as a directory of green service providers, from dry cleaners to long distance phone companies.

877-282-6400 www.greenhome.com


Based on the principle that if we learn about our local surroundings, we learn about our world, this non-profit strives to turn barren, ugly, or otherwise underutilized public spaces into beautiful, relevant, useful parks and gardens, called living libraries and thinkparks, using local resources – human, ecological, economic, historic, technological, and aesthetic. The public can visit one of the SF sites in Excelsior or Bernal Heights, take kids to a Living Library in- or after-school program, or get involved in a free adult green skills job training class specially designed for low income adults (and especially immigrants).

(415) 215-5992, www.alivinglibrary.org

Sustainable Business Alliance

Green business is good business – at least, that’s the philosophy behind this membership organization linking companies committed to sustainability. This networking and resource group hopes to educate members about sustainability and then strengthen their businesses through involvement with each other through meetings, workshops, seminars, a green business directory, and events such as East Bay Drinks, a monthly meetup on third Wednesdays at Triple Rock Brewery in Berkeley.

PO Box 11944, Berk. (510) 931-6560, www.sustainablebiz.org

Save the green planet


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

With I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang has made something of a modern silent movie. I didn’t count, but I am pretty sure there are only a handful of words (if not less) spoken by the movie’s main characters. Taking the place of dialogue is ambient noise — snippets from a Cantonese opera, a Malaysian news report, a talk show in Mandarin — and most of all, unadulterated silence. With communication perpetually out of reach, it is no wonder alienation is such a major theme in Tsai’s films. Visually, the director is all about stationary long shots and understatement. He fashions an environment that dwarfs and suppresses its inhabitants.

In many instances this environment is literally ecological. Pollution, contamination, unknown illnesses, and inexplicable catastrophes run deep in Tsai’s world: in 1997’s The River, the main character contracts a nagging, stubborn neck pain after being in a filthy river (the causality, however, is never made explicit). His peripatetic quest for a treatment leads to a denouement of son-and-father bonding in a gay sex club. The Hole, Tsai’s 1998 follow-up, imagines Taipei after a deadly and unknown pandemic strikes; the entire city is emptied out but for two people, surviving unbeknownst to each other. Taipei is once again under ecological threat in 2005’s The Wayward Cloud as a dire water shortage drives people to eat watermelons for liquid sustenance.

Similarly, the Kuala Lumpur of I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone is not doing too well. In one scene a noxious haze blankets the city, generated by a wildfire in Indonesia that has been blown across the Strait of Malacca. People are warned to stay inside or wear masks if they have to venture out. Unfortunately, there is a mask shortage, so plastic bags and disposable Styrofoam bowls are deployed as makeshift substitutes.

"It is a truthful reflection of the world we live in at this moment," Tsai says during an interview when asked about the scenarios of ecological trouble in his films. "We are living in a moment [when] the world is actually sick. For example, the fire you see in this film [I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone] is something that Malaysians and the countries around Malaysia have to face every year. It is a real problem that has a lot of repercussions — not just environmental but also social and economical."

In a sense, the intersection of these outcomes is embodied in the massive unfinished construction site that serves as a kind of structural centerpiece in the film. Located in the middle of Kuala Lumpur, the building to be, along with many others, was started during an economic boom in the country. In the late 1990s the Asian financial crisis devastated the entire region, and the project was left unfinished and abandoned. The foreign laborers brought into Malaysia to help build it instantly became jobless.

Tsai first saw the structure in 1999 when he visited Malaysia, his birth country. Six years later he decided to enter the site for the first time. What he found was a giant pool of dark water — a collection of rain, soot, and runoff that had gathered inside the building over the course of years.

Water, of course, is Tsai’s preferred element; his first three features — Rebels of the Neon God (1992), Vive l’Amour (1994), and The River — are known as his water trilogy. Tsai has said before that he sees his characters as plants and their loneliness as a sort of thirst that needs constant watering. As such, discovering that large body of water within a gutted structure was, to him, an unmistakable sign. "I saw the water and decided I had to make a film at that place," Tsai says. "I felt the water was waiting for me to come back." *


Thurs/19–Sat/21, 7 and 9 p.m.; Sun/22, 4 and 7 p.m.; $6–$8

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Screening Room

701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-2787



Writing the book on cinematic sound


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Where to start with the work of Ennio Morricone? The composer and musician has scored more than 400 films, so the task for the curious listener, let alone for the intrepid film curator, can be daunting. His most famous soundtracks have become a kind of enduring synecdoche, capable of summoning not just a particular title but an entire genre — think of the evocative power of the ocarina flourish in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Countless others, unearthed from the vaults every few years, are often the only artifacts we have of titles — mostly sexy thrillers and low-budget police procedurals — long since forgotten (see Dagored’s impressive reissue catalog of Morricone’s more obscure Italian scores). The Castro Theatre has assembled a decent pocket guide — Il Maestro for Dummies, if you will — which includes chestnuts such as 1986’s The Mission (his biggest Oscar snub and crossover success) and the more rarely screened and heard, such as Sam Fuller’s 1982 tale of a racist canine, White Dog.

Morricone first garnered international attention for his collaborations with Sergio Leone, in which he underscored the rugged beauty of the director’s lawless western mesas by adding ethereal choirs, noble strings, lilting harpsichord, and fuzz guitars that dart like rattlesnakes across the landscape. It’s an approach perhaps best encapsulated in his gorgeous theme for 1968’s Once upon a Time in the West, also included in the Castro’s lineup.

By that time Morricone had already proven himself to be a protean asset to directors regardless of genre, given his ear for unusual timbres and sensitivity to emotional coloring. He could sum up the tragic cost of liberation in a simple martial tattoo, as he did in Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers (1966), or use his extensive compositional training to achieve twisted, discordant ends, as heard in his score for the 1968 psychological thriller A Quiet Day in the Country.

It is the darker, freakier side of Morricone, deliciously showcased on the 2005 Mike Patton–curated compilation Crime and Dissonance (Ipecac), that has most consistently entranced this listener and could provide enough entries for its own film festival. The Doors-esque theme for Dario Argento’s 1971 giallo Four Flies on Grey Velvet — kicked off with a chaotic drum roll worthy of the Muppets’ Animal — only hints at the bleating, echo-laden trumpet (often played by Morricone himself), cackling snippets of wah-wah guitar, frantic free jazz drumming, and creaking gongs that would later accompany the supernatural goings-on and criminal activities in films such as The Antichrist (1974) and The Cold Eyes of Fear (1971). The score for the latter was the only one Morricone ever performed with his avant-garde orchestral ensemble, Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza.

His work on these pulpy flicks, like his celebrated spaghetti western scores, are only one facet of the embarrassment of riches constituting Morricone’s oeuvre. To call the honorary Oscar he received at this year’s Academy Awards long overdue is a gross understatement. Hollywood’s acknowledgement seemed almost too little too late for someone who has so profoundly shaped how we hear, and in turn how we see, movies. *


April 20–25

See Rep Clock for show info


Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6120



Smoke gets in your eyes


Long before Al Gore saw green in front of a blue screen and Hollywood used the Academy Awards to congratulate itself for suddenly becoming ecofriendly, Tsai Ming-liang braided more than a half dozen superb movies set in parts of a poisoned planet that Americans rarely contemplate. Resulting in at least a pair of classics — 1997’s The River and 2003’s Goodbye, Dragon Inn — Tsai’s one of a kind linked works to date have been distinguished by their not just rare but entirely singular realism and prescience about everyday pollution. Along with Todd Haynes’s similarly radical 1995 melodrama, Safe, The River uncovers the taken-for-granted toxicity of human-made environments and does so with a depth that realizes there is no easy diagnosis, let alone cure.

Tsai’s palette changes a bit in his latest film, I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, the first set in his birth country, Malaysia. Instead of the soaked Taipei that dominates most of his alienated romantic comedies, I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone occupies a Kuala Lumpur beset by nearby fires. While painterly, the colors aren’t so glossy, partly because smoke gets in Tsai’s eyes and those of the film’s lovers, who of course include his frequent star Chen Shiang-chyi and his muse, Lee Kang-sheng. If (as Tsai once suggested to me) Lee’s characters are connected to — if not directly reflective of — Tsai’s view of whatever Lee’s going through in his offscreen life, then Tsai must be annoyed to the point of murderous thoughts. This time Lee is leading a double life, leaving the gorgeous Norman Atun to pine for him just as Lee once pined in what was previously Tsai’s most literal musical-beds narrative, 1994’s Vive l’Amour. Unrequited love has a long life in Tsai’s world, where hearts are pure while water and air are toxic. (Johnny Ray Huston)

Go green!



"Arcadia: 2007" California Modern Gallery, 1035 Market; 821-9693, www.fuf.net. Mon/23, 6pm, $125-$350. This soiree and art auction — featuring work by more than 100 artists and hosted by Jeffrey Fraenkel, Gretchen Bergruen, and Thomas Reynolds — will benefit Friends of the Urban Forest, a nonprofit organization that provides financial, technical, and practical assistance to individuals and neighborhood groups that want to plant and care for trees.

"Away Ride Celebrating Earth Day" Meet at McLaren Lodge, Golden Gate Park; (510) 849-4663, www.borp.org. Sun/22, 1:30pm, free with preregistration. The SF Bike Coalition and the Bay Area Outdoor Recreation Program join forces to host this moderately paced ride open to all levels of riders. They provide a helmet and a handcycle or tandem bike. You bring a sack lunch and water. Kids also get to decorate their wheels — bike, wheelchair, or skate.

"Biomimicry: The 2007 Digital Be-In" Mezzanine, 444 Jessie; www.be-in.com. Sat/22, 7pm-3am, $15 presale, $20 door, $100 VIP. Turn on, tune in, log out. In the spirit of the 1967 human be-in that epitomized San Francisco’s hippie generation and made Haight Ashbury famous, counterculture artists and activists have been hosting "The Digital Be-In" for 15 years. This year’s combination symposium-exhibition-multimedia-entertainment extravaganza focuses on Biomimicry as it relates to technology, urban development, and sustainability. There’ll be no Timothy Leary here, but the event will feature live music, DJs, projections, and appearances by modern hippie celebs such as Free Will astrologer Rob Brezsny and Burning Man founder Larry Harvey. Or join in the simultaneous virtual be-in in the Second Life online world. The revolution will be digitized.

"Earth Day Fair" Ram Plaza, City College of San Francisco, 50 Phelan; 239-3580, www.ccsf.edu. Thurs/19, 11am-1:30pm, free. View information tables set up by the CCSF and citywide environmental organizations, as well as a display of alternative fuel vehicles.

"EarthFest" Aquarium of the Bay, 39 Pier; 623-5300, www.aquariumofthebay.com. Sun/22, 12-4pm, free. View presentations and engage in activities provided by 20 organizations all dedicated to conservation and environmental protection, with activities including live children’s music, a scavenger hunt, and giveaways.

"McLaren Park Earth Day" John McLaren Park’s Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, 40 John F. Shelley; www.natureinthecity.org. Sun/22, 11am-7pm, free. What would Jerry do? Commemorate the park’s 80th anniversary with an all-day festival featuring birding hikes, habitat restoration projects, wildflower walks, tree planting, an ecostewardship fair, food booths, a live reptile classroom, puppetry, performance, music, storytelling, and chances to make art.

"$1 Makes the World a Greener Place" Buffalo Exchange local stores; 1-866-235-8255, www.buffaloexchange.com. Sat/21, all day, free. Buy something, change the world. During this special sale at all Buffalo Exchange stores, proceeds will benefit the Center for Environmental Health, which promotes greener practices in major industries. Many sale items will be offered for $1.

"People’s Earth Day" India Basin, Shoreline Park, Hunters Point Boulevard at Hawes, SF. Sat/21,10am-3pm. What better place to celebrate Earth Day than with a community of victorious ecowarriors? Help sound the death knell for the PG&E Hunters Point power plant with events and activities including a community restoration project at Heron’s Head Park, the presentation of the East Side Story Literacy for Environmental Justice theater production, and a display about Living Classroom, an educational and all-green facility expected to break ground this year. Want to get there the green way? Take the no. 19 Muni bus or the T-Third Street line.


"Berkeley Earth Day" Civic Center Park, Berk; www.hesternet.net. Sat/21, 12-5pm, free. Earth Day may not have been born in Berkeley (it was actually the idea of a senator from Wisconsin), but it sure lives here happily. Celebrate at this community-sponsored event, which features a climbing wall, vegetarian food, craft and community booths, valet bike parking, and performances by Friends of Shawl-Anderson Youth Ensemble, Alice DiMicele Band, and Amandla Poets.

"Earth Day Celebration" Bay Area Discovery Museum, 557 McReynolds, Sausalito; 339-3900, www.baykidsmuseum.org. Sat/21, 10am-5pm, free with museum admission. Happy birthday, dear planet. This Earth Day connect your family to the wonders of &ldots; well &ldots; you know, with a variety of special activities, including seed planting and worm composting, birdhouse building, a bay walk and cleanup, and presentations about insects from around the planet. For a small fee, also enjoy a birthday party for Mother Earth with games, face painting, crafts, and cake.

"Earth Day on the Bay" Marine Science Institute, 500 Discovery Parkway, Redwood City; (650) 364-2760, sfbayvirtualvoyage.com/earthday.html. Sat/21, 8am-4pm, $5 suggested donation. This is the one time of year the institute opens its doors to the public, so don’t miss your chance for music, mud, and sea creatures — the Banana Slug String Band, the Sippy Cups, fish and shark feeding, and programs with tide pool animals, to be exact. You can also take a two-hour trip aboard an MSI ship for an additional $10.

"Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup Program" California State Parks; 258-9975 for one near you, www.calparks.org. Sat/21, times vary, free. The best way to celebrate Earth Day is to get involved. Volunteers are needed at California State Parks throughout the area for everything from planting trees and community gardens to restoring trails and wildlife habitats, and from installing recycling bins to removing trash and debris. All ages welcome.

"E-Waste Recycling Event" Alameda County Fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton, Pleasanton; 1-866-335-3373, www.noewaste.com. Fri/20-Sun/22, 9am-3pm, free. The city of Pleasanton teams up with Electronic Waste Management to collect TVs, computers, monitors, computer components, power supplies, telephone equipment, scrap metal, wire, and much more. There is no limit to how much you can donate, and everything will be recycled.

"The Oceans Festival" UC Berkeley, Upper Sproul Plaza (near Bancroft and Telegraph), Berk; Fri/20, 5pm-7pm, donations accepted. This event, sponsored by CALPIRG, Bright Antenna Entertainment, and West Coast Performer magazine, is meant to bring awareness to the problem of plastic in our oceans and to raise money, through donations and food sales, for the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. Featuring music and dance performances, as well as presentations by a variety of environmental organizations.

"People’s Park 38th Anniversary Celebration" People’s Park, Berk; www.peoplespark.org. Sun/22, 12-6pm, free. Celebrate the park with poetry, speakers, music, art and revolution theater, political tables, a Food Not Bombs lunch, clowns, puppets, and activities for children.


"Green Capital: Profit and the Planet?" Club Office, 595 Market; 597-6705. Wed/18, 6:30pm, $8-15. Can sustainable business renew our economy and save the planet? Can activists ethically exploit market systems? Environmental pioneers, from corporate reps to conservationists, will bust the myths and reveal realities of profitable environmental solutions at this panel discussion cosponsored by INFORUM; featuring Peter Liu of the National Resource Bank, author Hunter Lovins (Natural Capitalism), Steven Pinetti of Kimpton Hotels, and Will Rogers of the Trust for Public Land; and moderated by Christie Dames.

"An Inconvenient Truth 2.0 — A Call to Action" California State Bldg, 455 Golden Gate. Thurs/19, 6:30-9pm, $5 suggested donation. An updated version of Al Gore’s PowerPoint presentation will be screened by Sierra Club director Rafael Reyes, then followed by a discussion of the impact of global warming and a progress report on national legislation by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

"The Physics of Toys: Green Gadgets for a Blue Planet" Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon; 561-0399, www.exploratorium.edu. Sat/21,11am-3pm, free with admission. The monthly event focuses on the earth this time around, giving children and adults an opportunity to build pinwheel turbines and other green gadgets. Materials provided.


"Agroecology in Latin America: Social Movements and the Struggle for a Sustainable Environment" La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck, Berk; (510) 847-1262, www.mstbrazil.org. Wed/18, 7:30pm, donations accepted. Get an update on Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement, the alliance between environmental and social justice movements in the Americas, struggles for Food Sovereignty, organized peasant response to global agribusiness, opposition to genetically engineered crops, and more. Featuring guest speaker Eric Holt-Gimernez, executive director of Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy.


"Bio-Mapping" Southern Exposure Gallery, 2901 Mission, SF; (415) 863-2141, www.sf.biomapping.net. Sat/21, 6:30pm, $8-15. Everyone says going green feels good — here’s the chance to prove it. Participate in Christian Nold’s social-art project by strapping into a GPS device and skin censors. Then take a walk or a bike ride while the sensors record your feelings and location. Nold uses the data to make an "Emotion Map" of the city, which you can check out online. (Can’t make Saturday? Nold’s also there Thursdays and Fridays through April 28).

"ReCycle Ryoanji" San Francisco Civic Center Plaza; blog.greenmuseum.org/recycle-ryoanji. Thurs/19, 4-6pm, free. Judith Selby Lang, local students, and visitors to the Asian Art Museum have sewn together thousands of white shopping bags to make their own version of Japan’s most famous and celebrated garden as both an art exhibition and community education project. The 18-foot-by-48-foot scale replica of the raked sand and rock garden can be seen at this reception for the project and on display across from City Hall until Tues/24. (Take that, American Beauty.)

"Green Apple Music and Arts Festival" Venues vary; www.greenapplefestival.com. Fri/20-Sun/22, prices vary. Green Apple combines fun and education with a three-day, ecofriendly music festival in cities across the country. San Francisco’s festival includes shows by Yonder Mountain String Band, New Mastersounds, Electric Six, Trans Am, and others at venues across the city, as well as a free concert at Golden Gate Park. Green Apple provides venues with environmentally friendly cups, straws, napkins, paper towels, and compostable garbage bags, as well as doing its best to make the entire festival carbon neutral.


"San Francisco New Living Expo" Concourse Exhibition Center, Eighth Street at Brannan; 382-8300, www.newlivingexpo.com. April 27-29, admission varies according to day and event. Touting 275 exhibitors and 150 speakers (including Starhawk, Marianne Williamson, Rabbi Michael Lerner, and ganja-guru Ed Rosenthal), the sixth annual version of this event promises to energize, educate, awaken, and expand consciousness. You won’t want to miss the environmental activism panel discussion April 28 at 3pm — or the exhibition hall’s special crystal area.


"Harmony Festival" Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa; www.harmonyfestival.com. June 8-10, $125 plus $50 per car camping pass. This festival is so green it’s almost blue — in fact, its tagline is "promoting global cooling." There’s a waste diversion effort, a whole Green Team monitoring the EcoStation, compost cans, and tips on how to be an ecofriendly attendee. Plus, it just looks like fun. With Brian Wilson, the Roots, and Common performing and Amy Goodman and Ariana Huffington speaking, how can you miss it?

"Lightning in a Bottle" Live Oak Campground, Santa Barbara; 1-866-55-TICKET, www.lightninginabottle.org. May 11-13. $95-120. It ain’t just a party. It’s a green-minded, art-and-music-focused campout in a forest wonderland. Organized by Los Angeles’s the Do Lab with participation from tons of SF artists, this three-day event is powered by alternative energy, offers ecoworkshops in everything from permaculture to raw foods, and encourages rideshares — including a participant-organized bus trip from San Francisco. Also featuring performances by Freq Nasty, Bassnectar, Vau de Vire Society, El Circo, and other DJs and artists from San Francisco and elsewhere, LIB attempts to change the precedent that festival fun has to be ecologically disastrous.

"Sierra Nevada World Music Festival" Mendocino County Fairgrounds, Boonville; www.snwmf.com. June 22-24, $125 plus $50 per car camping pass. Peace is green, right? I mean, what about Greenpeace? And peace is what this festival, which promotes "conscious" music, is all about. Plus, a range of representatives of environmental and social issues will be tabling at the festival — and registering voters.


"Burning Man" Black Rock City, Nev.; (415) TO-FLAME, www.burningman.com. Aug 27-Sept 3, $250-$280. With its Leave No Trace philosophy and its hippie roots, Burning Man has always been greener than most. But this year it’s getting even more explicitly so with the theme the Green Man, focusing on humanity’s relationship to nature (even though there is no nature on the dry lakebed surface). A pessimist might suggest this year’s theme is just another excuse to waste resources on leaf-themed art cars and that "Leave No Trace" usually translates to "Leave Your Trash in Reno." But an optimist might say this is Burning Man acknowledging and trying to address such issues. Either way, air out your dust-filled tent and pack some chartreuse body paint — it’s going to be an interesting year in Black Rock. *

Vino, verde, vici


› superego@sfbg.com

SUPER EGO Fuck green — I want emerald, I want turquoise, I want veridian. I want shades of chartreuse cascading down the sides of my highball glass and mint cream swirling at the lip of my rim. Mmm. I was going to write this week about how much I’m head over loafers for Lil Mama’s clover new vid, "Lip Gloss," and what the deal is lately with so many trash-tragic newbie chicks wearing flip-flops and fleece to the clubs (did I miss a memo from Target?), but it’s the Green Issue — yay for Earth! — so I’m going in on the recent trend toward "green" cocktails.

Green cocktails? Easy! All you have to do is down eight or nine shots of Fernet, and — voila! — you’re green. And let’s not even get into how some drinks instantly recycle themselves. Yet in terms of mixology, green usually means organic — juices, vodka, ice cubes, fruit flies, what have you. Organic, however, doesn’t necessarily mean green: it probably took five tons of jet fuel to plop that native Guangdong lychee into your tropical Bellini. Conundrums! When it comes to partying green, it seems, the snifter of a conscious tipple is somewhat bruised with environmental irony. It’s environy.

But if you can snag some local fresh-squeezed mixer, shake it with small-batch liquor, and consume only what you need — not hard, since organic cocktails are kind of freakin’ pricey — you can still get three sheets to the wind and not feel like you’re littering. Usual suspects such as gourmet vegetarian legend Millennium (milleniumrestaurant.com — house-infused kumquat–star anise gin, anyone?) and the snuggly bar at Roots Restaurant (theorchardgardenhotel.com) in the grandly green-built Orchard Garden Hotel have been in on the organic, fresh-brewed tip for a while. And a few surprising spots have begun wearing their green hearts on their sleeves too. Vesuvio (vesuvio.com) in North Beach is bursting with ecofriendly drinks such as the Pojito, a mojito with local-made 209 gin and organic Pama pomegranate liqueur. SoMa restaurant Coco500 (coco500.com) features a nifty lemongrass Bloody Mary, with lemongrass-infused organic vodka, organic tomato juice, and sriracha (sun-dried chili paste).

As for less immediately intoxicating spirits, Yield Wine Bar (yieldsf.com) offers a vast array of biodynamic, sustainable, and organic wines with some of the more harmful of the 250 chemicals involved in production filtered out — that’s almost as many chemicals involved as in the first 10 minutes of a drag queen’s night out. Harmful. Wine’s pretty easy, of course — we live in wine heaven, and the products of conscious vintners such as Beringer (beringer.com) and Five Rivers Ranch (fetzer.com), as well as those from distributors such as the Organic Wine Co. (ecowine.com), can be found all over. Beer’s getting in on it too: local foam-meister Anderson Valley Brewing Co. (avbc.com) pumps out the suds from a solar-powered brewery, even.

But the green drink ground zero in San Francisco has to be Elixir in the Mission. Not only does it foreground organic cocktails, but the whole Elixir enchilada is officially green certified by the city in terms of recycling, cleaning, and waste disposal — the first bar of its kind. H., Elixir’s wryly gregarious owner, mixes up fierce experimental environmental drinks at the bar’s monthly green drink happy hour, which brings in an enthusiastic crowd of ecoliquor seekers (who are also really into baseball, judging from the reactions to the big-screen TVs). At a recent green grog gathering, he whipped me up a luscious Eldersour, using organic Square One rosehip-infused vodka and elderflower syrup, and a kick-ass — I can’t believe I’m seriously about to type this word — GreenTeani, a Square One martini with organic green tea infusion and lime zest. It was gone in a minute — gulp.

"There’s the green side of our business — stuff like installing low-flow toilets and making sure we recycle as much as possible," H. says. "And then there’s the organic side, with the drinks, that people seem to be getting really into lately. The little things you can do every day to feel like you make a difference matter more and more, the principle of it — even if it’s related to being a bar or going out. Nobody can be perfect when it comes to environmental stuff. I mean, I drive an old BMW to work — and it doesn’t run on used fryer oil. But it’s paid for."

After a few more GreenTeanis and a quick trip to the low-flow, I had to admit that I certainly felt better about my environment. Global warming? Pshaw. Everything was just ducky. Now where can I get an organic date? *


Second Thursdays, 6 p.m.–late


3200 16th St., SF

(415) 552-1633





› paulr@sfbg.com

Spanish food may have struggled for recognition in this country and will almost certainly never be as well loved as its near relation, Italian cooking, but in the last decade or so the Iberian peninsula has given us at least one big present: the tapa. Tapas, the little plates that could, are so big now that they’re often not even remotely Spanish: we find Cuban and nuevo Latino and even American versions, while small plates from other cultures end up being called "tapas" for convenience’s sake. People might not know about, and might be chary of ordering, a meze platter, but if you call it Turkish or Greek tapas, they’re in.

At Esperpento, which turns 15 this year (the name means "absurdity"), the tapas are still tapas, still Spanish — the kinds of things you’d have with a beer or a glass of verdujo or rioja in the middle evening at some restaurant near the Plaza Mayor in Madrid. The venue itself, with its forest of support columns and cheerful, well-scuffed yellowness, looks like such a place and offers us a reminder that restaurant interiors evolve or accrete meaning through use and are not necessarily complete when created, no matter how elaborately and expensively they are designed. But what most amazes about Esperpento is the paella, which is actually better than good — quite near excellent, in fact. While I cling to my view that the best paella is likely to be made by a home cook, I can no longer say that restaurants can’t pull it off. Esperpento can and does, though, as with soufflés, you are given notice that there will be a 30-minute wait.

If you have to wait a spell for your main dish, what better way to pass the time than by noshing on tapas in a house of tapas? Esperpento’s selection is huge, turn-around time is short, and a surprising number of the small plates are vegetarian friendly. You could easily order up a meatless feast here without disappointing meat eaters in the slightest. Especially fabulous are the alcachofas a la plancha ($5.50), disks of thinly sliced artichokes grilled with a simple combination of garlic and parsley. And not far behind are the patatas ali-oli ($4.50), crispy-tender new-potato quarters generously spattered with garlic mayonnaise. If you like your potatoes a little less free-form, you might prefer the tortilla de patata ($6), which the menu describes as an "omelet" of potatoes and onion but is really more like a cross between a quiche and a tart and is far tastier (and substantial: the pie yields six decent-size slices) than its modest list of ingredients might imply.

As in Italian cooking, simple preparations yield potent results. Mushrooms sautéed with garlic ($5.25) were as meaty and fragrant as chunks of kebab. A salad of roasted julienne red pepper ($5.50) dressed with a house vinaigrette was gorgeous, even though the peppers were just the ordinary kind rather than the fancier (and slightly hotter) sort from Navarre. Boquerones ($5), Spain’s famous white anchovies, were dipped in batter and flash-fried, so they resembled french fries, while calamares a la plancha ($6.50) took a turn on the grill quick enough to keep them tender. One plancha-style dish did disappoint: clams ($6.25), which were not bad, just pallid despite garlic, parsley, and olive oil. And a salad of white beans ($4.75) could have used a boost of something.

A common booster in Spanish cooking is pimentón ahumado, or smoked paprika. This is the spice that gives Spanish chorizo its distinctive flavor, and it turned up big in the sauce of the rabbit stew ($6.75), a quasi-signature dish. The meat itself, still on the bone, was fine if not remarkable, but we carefully sopped up all of the sauce with rounds of white bread from the continually replenished basket.

The paella — de carnes y mariscos ($26 for two, but plenty for four if sufficiently preceded by tapas) — arrived in due course and was inspected. We noted the traditional two-handled pan, the wealth of meat, mussels, prawns, and green peas, and the bright yellowness of the rice — an indication that there has been no stinting on the saffron. The grains of rice were plump and glistening, a sign that they had just been cooked straight through rather than parboiled, left to wait, then finished in haste.

Best of all was the caramelized crust that had developed at the bottom of the rice layer. One of the big differences between risotto and paella is that the former is stirred more or less constantly, with a creamy result, while the latter is stirred hardly at all. The result of this stasis is the crust, which is something of a delicacy, though scraping it off and folding it into the rest of the dish can be an indelicate operation.

Paella is one of life’s more festive dishes, and Esperpento, despite its advanced age, has to be one of the more festive restaurants in the not-exactly-somnolent Mission: large parties wait at the door, tables are pushed together, cheerful voices are raised, plates laden with tapas fly from the kitchen (to return a few minutes later, stripped clean), service staff move nimbly among the tables like performers in some high-wire circus act. It is chaos, yes, but functional chaos, absurd as that might sound. *


Lunch: Mon.–Fri., 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Dinner: Mon.–Fri., 5–10 p.m. Continuous service: Sat.–Sun., noon–10 p.m.

3295 22nd St., SF

(415) 282-8867

Beer and wine



Wheelchair accessible


Making it


› le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS The Craigslist ad said "blood-soaked carnivore." And I wish I could remember the rest of it, because it was unusual and well written, but all I needed to know, really, was "blood-soaked carnivore."

By the letter, it wasn’t even what I was looking for; it wasn’t M or FTM or F (w/a SOD)…. It was BSC. Blood-soaked carnivore.

That’s my favorite kind of carnivore!

Talk about a hook with my lip written all over it…. It’s almost not even fair. It’s almost cheating. It’s like deer hunting with land mines, or something. I didn’t need to see no pictures or nothing. I was stacked steaks in white paper, brown tape; and I wrote back immediately and was all, like, "WheRE do you wAnt to EAt?!?!"

She mentioned some places, and we ate at all of them. We ate bacon burgers, chili burgers, barbecue, and Filipino food. Her name is Twinkle Wonderkid, and she lives in Cowgirl City, which looks a lot like the Tenderloin to me. And I know that’s a foofy-sounding name, Twinkle Wonderkid, but this BSC used to be in the Navy and the Merchant Marines, and I think she used to be a cow puncher too.

What else she used to be was a dude. The one thing I said I wouldn’t do!

Well …

Three words: Blood. Soaked. Carnivore. And you can ask her yourself if I ain’t the cuddliest, snuggliest, heat-producingest little campfire she ever poked.

So: thus endeth my 2 1/2-year drought, the longest length of itlessness I’ve had to endure (in case anyone was wondering) since the 19 years it took me to lose my male virginity.

Speaking of which, it’s kind of ironic, probably, that I got axed to the prom for the first time ever on the same day I got made into meat. It wasn’t a pimply, awkward high school boy who asked me, either. It was an all-growed-up and entirely cool chickenscaping client of mine named Aunt Stink. We were having kind of a business meeting. In exchange for dinner, I was going to help her conceptualize her budding Pacifica backyard chicken farm.

So that was what we talked about, chicken farming this and chicken farming that, over a vegetarian burrito for her and a big huge bowl of fishy soup for me.

Then she invited me to the prom. (I love my life!) Well, it wasn’t like that exactly. I mean, she did invite me to a party, and it was a prom-themed thing, but she already had herself a partner. And I didn’t know if I wanted to third-wheel it with them or go alone or go at all. Or … I mean, the thing was that I didn’t have anything to wear. I’ll be damned if I’m going to finally go to the prom, in my 40s, and not wear a prom dress.

And I don’t even know what that is, so … maybe in my 50s.

But this soup! The name of the place is El Toro Loco, or crazy fuckin’ bullshit, and it’s my new favorite restaurant. Best place to eat in Pacifica, anyway, according to two different people and now me. The sopa siete mares, or seven-horse soup, is just fish fish fish, mostly tentacles, which I love love love.

And I’m in my element, right, advising Aunt Stink on all the philosophical intricacies of chicken farming, like hawks and raccoons and shit, with calamari tentacles dangling out of the corners of my mouth most of the time, when all of a sudden it occurs to me that I’m famous. In my own small, farmerly way.

People contact me when they want to know about chickens. They see me in a bar and go, "Chicken Farmer!" And in one case, recently, I was paid $25 and two free drinks to stand up in front of a couple hundred people and talk about chickens. People want to eat with me, on them, and if that ain’t making it …

Well, it’s not the kind of making it I been looking for. And that’s why as soon as I got back to the city I started calling everyone I know and asking, "You got a prom dress I could borrow?"

First one to actually pick up the phone was the Wonderkid, and she’d just lost her job and had cried herself to sleep. Didn’t feel like going out, but if I wanted to come over and watch a movie …

She had popcorn, she said, and a bottle of wine.

I got the movie. I got the flowers. *


Tues.–Sat., 12–8 p.m.; Sun., 10:30 a.m.–5 p.m.

1624 Francisco Blvd., Pacifica

(650) 355-5548

Takeout available

Beer and wine


Wheelchair accessible


The shiznit


› andrea@altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea:

Two years ago I met a guy who was a friend of a friend. I got to know him and realized that he was the most fascinating, intelligent person I’d ever met. Despite not being initially attracted to him, I soon got over this and fell in love with him.

We skirted discussing a romantic relationship because he had deep emotional problems precipitated by a number of traumatic things that happened to him in his childhood. He could often be unfriendly to the point of cruelty. I made too many allowances for this and probably let him get away with things I wouldn’t have tolerated in anyone else.

We remained friends even though we now live in different cities. I have had involvements with numerous other people but have always known that if this guy suddenly wanted me, I would drop everything. It’s against my feminist sensibility, but no one can compare. I can’t see myself ever meeting another person who understands me so completely. Will I ever get over it? Am I being totally pathetic?


Hung Up and Hung Over

Dear Hung:

Yep. Pathetic in a way I have no problem understanding and even reutf8g to, but pathetic nonetheless. And yes, you’ll get over it, but I can’t promise it will be quick or painless. Extractions and amputations so rarely are.

Look, we’ve all been there. Most people who value (I’m tempted to say "overvalue") qualities such as intelligence and quick wit in a partner have been there. Sadly, there is no rule that says a big brain has to come with a big heart or any heart at all, for that matter. A big, fast, fascinating brain is no guarantor of sanity either. Your friend sounds like he might have been more than a little dinged up by his crappy childhood — he’s probably broken beyond reasonable hope of repair. I’m sure he’s also devastatingly sexy or whatever, but who cares? Not you. Not anymore. Not if I have anything to say about it, anyway.

Here’s another lesson it’s hard to learn: getting your jokes is not the same thing as getting you. He may be wonderful to talk to, and you may have endless "Oh my gawd, nobody else ever got that!!!!" moments with him, but that doesn’t mean he knows (or cares) what you need, what makes you happy, or even what’s so great about you. Even more disappointing, understanding you is not at all the same thing as being your friend. If he’s the kind of charming, destructive bastard I think he is, he’s nobody’s friend, not even his own.

While I’m rabbiting on about how you don’t have to be this to be that or that to be this and so on, here’s another one: you don’t have to be nice to be exciting in bed. Not for certain values of exciting, anyway. So let’s just be thankful that you never did it with him. You didn’t, right? Realizing just how deadly a bullet you might have dodged there, let’s give you credit for making at least one terribly smart decision, even if it’s because you never got the chance to do him and still regret it. I’ll never tell.

So, let’s summarize. This guy, alluring as he is, is pretty much a shit. Happily for you, he’s currently a long-distance shit (good lord, what an image). Unhappily for you, he has probably acquired something of that long-distance glow since you’ve been apart. Look, for instance, at the time dilation you’ve apparently undergone since you started letting him warp your space-time continuum: you say you’ve "always known" you’d drop everything and go to him should he ever express interest, yet it’s been all of two years since you met and probably much less since you started mooning around over him (and that marks the last of the cheesy space metaphors, I promise). Don’t let him warp your sense of the future — will you "ever get over" him? Of course you will. You’ll even find someone just as much to your liking eventually, but he won’t be just a nice version of the shit, so don’t waste your time looking for that. Such a quest is doomed to fail, not to mention make the not-shitty guys you do meet think you’re kind of messed up in a not-all-that-appealing way.

Oh, and one last thing — there’s nothing gender-politics related about your situation, so don’t go getting your feminist sensibility in a wad. You think guys don’t lose their fool hearts to girls who are perfect for them in every way except for being cold and cruel and maybe a little crazy? Where would great art be without the Cruel Mistress or La Belle Dame sans Merci? In Barneyland, that’s where. "I love you, you love me" makes for a very nice LTR, but you can’t dance to it.



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’s raising twins, so she’s one bad mother of a sex adviser. Visit www.altsexcolumn.com to view her previous columns.

Love machine


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

REVIEW To look at the formally austere self-portraits made by the American artist Charles Sheeler (1883–1965) at various points throughout his career, you might surmise, from the repeated images of his stiff, unsmiling visage, that he toiled in obscurity for dry, dusty decades as an administrative underling at a low-level law firm, forever obsessed with organizing his paper clips, pausing from his tedious task only long enough to clean his spectacles on a crisply starched pocket handkerchief and tie the laces of his uncomfortable shoes, polished deep black the previous evening while listening to news of the Lindbergh kidnapping on his wooden Philco tube radio. As the crotchety stepfather of modernism, Sheeler cultivated a stern yet slightly mewling look of quotidian routine, as if neither he nor any other mere individual should assume particular importance amid the daunting technological advancements of his era. Like all true-blue men of meager means in the early part of the 20th century, Sheeler was enthralled with industrial progress and glorified all things steel and chrome. If this clerk allowed himself one indulgence, it was basking in the cult of the machine.

If modernism taught us anything, however, it’s that appearances can — no, should — be deceiving. Hat, coat, and desk chair notwithstanding, Sheeler was no paper-pushing nine-to-fiver. Indeed (a word I imagine he uttered frequently, accompanied by a nearly imperceptible tilt of the head), this self-proclaimed precisionist was rather radical in behavior, artistic methodology, and aesthetic philosophizing — though always politely so. Working with deliberate pacing and patience as a filmmaker, photographer, and painter and alarmingly proficient at drawing and printmaking, Sheeler established a unique dichotomy between new and old, rendering the former as oddly antiquated and the latter as the cat’s pajamas. Fittingly, his remarkable body of work remains strikingly contemporary; thus the "Charles Sheeler: Across Media" exhibition, handsomely installed in the upper galleries of the appropriately angular de Young Museum, has not the aged patina of a haphazard retrospective begrudgingly granted to a doddering éminence grise of yesteryear but the luminous sheen of a classy chassis careening into J.G. Ballard’s Crash by way of the icy David Cronenberg adaptation. Sheeler is Vaughan, so turned on by cogs and shafts, bolts and pylons, that he becomes the ghost in his own machine.

Born in Philadelphia, Sheeler studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, then booked passage for Paris, where he looked askance at Pablo Picasso’s and Georges Braque’s cubist conundrums before returning to the States, plonking down a fiver on a Brownie camera and taking up commercial photography with an emphasis on architecture.

In 1920, Sheeler collaborated with photographer Paul Strand on Manhatta, a six-minute city-symphony film ostensibly based on portions of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass yet excising virtually all traces of the bearded bard’s insatiable lust for life in favor of abstractions formed by bridges, skyscrapers, and the sun setting over the Hudson River. Widely considered the first American avant-garde film, Manhatta screens repeatedly in the gallery and is surrounded by related photographs that further reveal Sheeler’s New York state of mind.

Sheeler soon settled in a rented farmhouse in Doylestown, Penn., with fellow artist Morton Shamberg, but it was the home’s 19th-century stove that Sheeler referred to as his "companion," so enamored was he of its utilitarian exactitude and sensuous shape. Comfortably ensconced in the farmhouse, Sheeler spent years deftly rendering his kitchen and bathroom in ink, paint, and the darkroom’s chemical bath.

Having gained a reputation as a fastidious exemplar of precisionism, Sheeler was hired by the Ford Motor Co. to photograph and make paintings of its factories. Soon after, Fortune magazine commissioned Sheeler to produce a half dozen paintings that "reflect life through forms and trace the firm pattern of the human mind." Naturally, Sheeler looked not to living things for inspiration but to objects simultaneously beautiful in their simplicity and threatening in their potential to destroy: waterwheel, railroad, airplane, dam, steam turbine, and hydroelectric turbine (he really loved turbines).

Among many other career and exhibition highlights are the iconic, ironic American Landscape, in which human-made structures — cylinders, silos, smokestacks — have entirely supplanted natural splendor (score one for culture); experimental photographs of the interior of an 18th-century Quaker fieldstone house; and the dazzling The Artist Looks at Nature, from 1943, in which Sheeler paints himself in the process of sketching his 1932 drawing Interior with Stove, which in turn was based on his much earlier photograph The Stove. In this singular work, Sheeler links various media in which he excelled, positions himself in a perfectly logical space-time continuum, and moves into the realm of the uncanny. For an artist who implicitly championed the places, products, and processes of capitalism and whose every invisible brushstroke stoked the fires of the first corporation generation, this tricky bit of derring-do signals a metarebellion against the industry under whose wheels Sheeler’s entire century would soon be crushed. It’s enough to make you fall in love with that old stove all over again. *


Through May 6

Tues.–Thurs. and Sat.–Sun., 9:30 a.m.–5:15 p.m.; Fri., 9:30 a.m.–8:45 p.m.

De Young Museum

Golden Gate Park

50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, SF

$6–$10 (free first Tuesday)

(415) 750-3614