Volume 41 Number 47

August 22 – August 28, 2007

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Counseling torture


› news@sfbg.com

Ruth Fallenbaum, a private psychologist based in Berkeley, decided to withhold her annual dues to the American Psychological Association this year. She told us her "gut reaction" was to withhold support from the 148,000-member organization because it allows — and even advocates — the participation of its members in coercive prisoner interrogations at CIA-run sites like Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

While the American Medical Association, the World Medical Association, and the American Psychiatric Association have banned doctors and psychiatrists from participating in these interrogations, many American Psychological Association members argue that psychologists can help ensure subjects are treated in an ethical and humane manner. Others — like Fallenbaum and members of the group she helped form, Psychologists for an Ethical APA — feel that an "ethical interrogation" is an oxymoron.

At the APA’s 115th annual conference, held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center on Aug. 17 to 20, Fallenbaum and many other psychologists and activists spoke — and rallied at the Yerba Buena Gardens — in favor of a rule that would have banned psychologists from engaging in military interrogations at US military prisons "in which detainees are deprived of adequate protection of their human rights."

The moratorium they advocated — which only recently made it onto the APA’s agenda — was overwhelmingly voted down Aug. 19 at the APA Council meeting after an hour of public comment that was mostly in support of the moratorium. A competing motion that reaffirmed the organization’s position against torture "and other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment" was unequivocally passed, leaving a schism between the organization and the rejected resolution’s supporters.

For the latter, concerns remain about what role — if any — psychologists should play in detention centers, which are notorious for human rights violations that are tantamount to torture. Can these health professionals, abiding by the medical field’s basic tenet of "do no harm," retain their integrity in such lawless centers?

According to the APA, the new resolution frames a context for interrogations that is free of fear tactics and actually prevents abuse. Psychologists conducting interrogations can assist in "rapport building with the detainees rather than abuse," Rhea Farberman, the organization’s spokesperson, told the Guardian.

In its approved resolution, the APA for the first time lays out 14 forms of inhumane treatment that it opposes. The list includes mock executions, water boarding, sexual humiliation, isolation, exploitation of phobias, and induced hypothermia — all of which have reportedly been employed by American interrogators. In May the Department of Defense released a previously declassified report detailing the Army’s use of psychological techniques on Guantánamo Bay detainees in 2002.

The approved APA resolution also calls on the US government to reject acts of torture and limits the psychologist’s role to providing therapeutic benefits, ideally keeping the centers in compliance with international human rights law.

As US Army Col. Larry James, who serves as a psychologist at Guantánamo Bay, told the crowd before the vote, "If we remove psychologists from these facilities, people are going to die."

But that point simply reinforced the concerns many have about sanctioning torture. "If psychologists have to be there so detainees don’t get killed, those conditions are so horrendous that the only moral and ethical thing is to leave," Laurie Wagner, a psychologist from Texas, said at the meeting, eliciting cheers from many audience members.

Another debate raged over the APA’s Ethics Code 1.02, which says that psychologists — when in conflict with their own ethics and the law — can choose to abide by the governing authority. Fallenbaum and other psychologists we interviewed felt that the code has an eerie resemblance to pre–<\d>Geneva Convention sentiments of crimes committed on the basis of "just following orders." But the APA states that the code, which was last modified in 2000, was originally intended to settle domestic debates, namely whether or not a psychologist should have sex with a client.

The approved torture resolution includes loopholes, according to Dr. Neil Altman, a former member of the APA Council who proposed and drafted the defeated moratorium. For example, it could still allow sleep deprivation prior to interrogations as a way to soften prisoners up. And its reference to "significant harm" is one Altman finds ambiguous. "It still leaves wiggle room," he told us.

Stephen Behnke, the APA’s ethics director, remains adamant that psychologists play a key role in a safe and sound interrogation process, something that might not occur if they are not present. "Some people say that a psychologist’s role should be picking up the pieces [of trauma]. Some say it should be preventing it," Behnke told us. The resolution "was a very clear affirmation that we support both roles."

Bruce Crow, head of the Behavioral Medical Department at the Brooke Army Medical Institute in Texas, assigns psychologists to detainee centers, although he was undecided about their participation. "I don’t have an answer about whether they should or shouldn’t be there," he told us. Nonetheless, the newly passed resolution "will provide better guidelines for psychologists assigned to detention centers."

On July 20, President George W. Bush issued an executive order to relaunch a coercive interrogation program at CIA "black sites." Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence, said psychologically manipulative techniques — subject to medical oversight — will be part of the program.

Taking this recent history into account, the conference hosted eight workshops — before and after the votes on the APA resolution and Altman’s counteramendment — with a theme of "Ethics and Interrogations: Confronting the Challenge."

A few hours after the torture measure was defeated, many of the workshop participants gathered for two hours of heated discussion at an ethics town hall. When media outlets videotaping the event were asked to leave by APA officials after a 10-minute time limit, an outcry for "more transparent practices" resonated throughout the room, and the journalists were allowed to stay for the remainder of the session.

Another moratorium could take more than two to three years to get on the APA’s agenda, according to Altman. But Dr. Steven Reiser, a senior faculty member in the International Trauma Studies Program at Columbia University and the founder of Psychologists for an Ethical APA, remains hopeful.

"We have to stand up for human rights," Reiser told us after the town hall meeting. "If we can’t stand up to risks, then we’re colluding with the forces that [deny] human rights."<\!s>*

Low T, no T


› andrea@altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea:

I read your column about potential causes of a husband’s lackluster performance in the bedroom [8/8/07]. You mentioned that the letter writer’s husband should talk to his doctor about low testosterone, and I thought you might be interested in more information on that. As you said, low testosterone (low T) and diabetes are linked. In fact, a recent study found that men with diabetes are more than twice as likely to have low T than other men. To educate men about the link between low T and diabetes, the American Association of Diabetes Educators created the "Take Charge. Talk T." program, which includes a pamphlet men can take to their doctors or diabetes educators if they think they are experiencing low-T symptoms.

[List of low-T facts here: an estimated 13 million American men have low testosterone; symptoms include low sex drive, erectile dysfunction and depression; treatment is available in various forms; obesity and hypertension are also risk factors, etc. — A]

If you would like more information, please visit www.TalkLowT.org. On behalf of my client, Solvay Pharmaceuticals, which markets the testosterone therapy AndroGel, I am including fact sheets. If you plan on covering low-T or T therapy in the future, I would be happy to set up an interview with a doctor or low-T patient.


PR Lady

On behalf of Solvay Pharmaceuticals

Dear PRL (be glad I didn’t call you PharmGirl):

I have to finish poking myself in the eye with these sticks first, and then I believe I’ll have lunch, but I appreciate the offer. (Seriously, I may take you up on it at a later, less summer-vacationy date.) Unlike many people I encounter while doing vaguely progressive work in a place where more people practice Tantra than go to church on Sunday, I don’t dismiss out of hand the idea that so-called "Big Pharma" can be a source of good. How can I, after all the intensive interventions that got my kids and me through a dicey beginning, not to mention my long love affair with antidepressants and a devoted fan-girl relationship with Viagra and the gang? While dispatches from Big Ph are best taken with both a grain of salt and a diuretic for the sodium sensitive, I’ll still take them. And I do like the idea of checklists the patient can take along to the doctor. What with the research being newish and the subject being vaguely sex-related, some doctors are just going to nod and smile and pretend they never heard a request for a testosterone test, and one may be able to catch their attention by waving a few brightly-colored pages about. There are some such available on the pharma-sponsored site to which Ms. Lady linked, www.talklowt.org, and I can’t see any reason not to use them, although they do contain a few quibbleworthy statements like "A simple blood test … will determine if your testosterone levels are below normal." From everything I’ve read elsewhere, this ought to be precisely untrue: testosterone may be bound by sex hormone binding globulin, so either high or low SHBG, both common, will produce inaccurate test results. You will want to wave around some pages about how to get an accurate testosterone test done along with the others.

Speaking of hormones, the other noteworthy note I got last week came from a trans woman (I assume) incensed at my — what else? — insensitive use of language. The subject was a recent "Why does my guy look at tranny porn?" question [8/1/07], and in case the one letter I got really was standing in for a thousand equally pissed-off people too lazy to write letters, I thought I’d clear up a misunderstanding or two while I’m waiting for lunch or a poke in the eye, whichever I was going to do first while avoiding a visit from a doctor or a patient with low testosterone. My correspondent took offense at the term transsexual porn, pointing out that some transsexuals are adopting the term "Harry Benjamin’s syndrome" (Benjamin created the well-known Standards of Care for patients seeking sex reassignment surgery) to avoid just such a sexualization of their identity.

Indeed, but then I have to point out that (a) people choosing this label are a very specific subset of a large and often fractious community, and (b) you may repeat "No transsexual would be comfortable being photographed displaying her private parts. And they certainly never identify as ‘chicks with dicks.’ What you are describing is something totally unrelated to transsexuals" as often and as emphatically as you like, and it’s still not going to be any truer than, say, "No Jewish American woman would ever go out wearing her husband’s underwear because she couldn’t find any of her own." The problem with umbrella terms like transsexual is that we may have to share them with people we think smell bad. My correspondent may prefer to think that all trans women don little skirts from Talbots and disappear into the genpop, but it just ain’t so. Don’t the nonops who pay for their estrogen by running ads in the back of papers like this one deserve inclusion? Where is the love?



Andrea is home with the kids and going stir-crazy. Write her a letter! Ask her a question! Send her your tedious e-mail forwards! On second thought, don’t do that. Just ask her a question.

Switching sides


› le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS The whole time that Earl Butter was with us, from New Hampshire to New York to Michigan, there was something I wanted to ask him but couldn’t quite put into words. That is, until he and Phenomenon hugged me good-bye and drove away, leaving me, at 44 years old, for my first time ever at camp.

Then, as soon as it was too late, the fog lifted from my sentence and the wording was clear and succinct: "How do I learn hopelessness?" Huh? Help me. Bankrupts, scofflaws, dock rats, bottle dwellers, how do you give up and get on with it? Stop writing poetry and start living poetically. Be the poem, or the ball, or the song.

I crunched back into the woods and set up my tent. As usual, I pitched it as far away from everyone else as possible. And every day I kept moving it farther and farther away, until I wasn’t even sure I was in Michigan any more.

What do you do at camp? Besides feeling lonely and displaced, I mean, and plotting your way back to town, to a phone, so you can call your mommy or daddy and say, "Uncle! Come get me! Please!"

Well, the purpose of Camp Trans is to protest the official policy of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival re trans women inclusion. However, nobody exactly knows exactly what that policy is! It’s the most beautifully twisted blur of swirliness since the US military’s famous "Don’t ask, don’t tell" masterpiece. To the best of my chicken farmerly understanding, trans women are, in theory, not welcome. They are asked but not forced to respect the festival’s womyn-born-womyn, cluck cluck. In practice, however, no one’s going to check your jeans or genes. You buy a ticket, you’re in. Some people might be mean to you, and their meanness might be backed by policy, but hey, welcome to the world. Right?

Right. So, Camp Trans aims to change all that. Peopled mostly, I think (but didn’t count), by trans men showing support for their homemade sisters, and open to anyone anywhere on or off the gender spectrum, Camp Trans is young, and strong, and beautiful, and diverse, and brilliant, and radical, beautiful, and very well educated, and young, and the main strategy, to the best of my chicken farmerly understanding, is to have 10 times as much fun as the festies do, and for 300 times cheaper, until people start switching sides and the Michfest bigwigs get real.

Off the top of my head, it’s my favorite political strategy ever. I say this without a trace of facetiousness, I swear, and as the least politically active person in the world, give or take Lars Fiffick.

By the end of the week I had a new favorite singer-songwriter (Lost), a new favorite spoken wordster (Katz), a new favorite lightbulb eater (Emily), and a new favorite lap dancer (Alex). All around me people were making out with other people, laughing hysterically, talking intensely, hugging, playing, partying, holding hands, and womyn-born-womyn from the festival kept crossing the road and saying, "Wow, it’s funner over here."

Personally, I can speak for the food. I did have lunch on Michfest one day. First I tried to sneak in through the woods but got busted. Then I tried to talk my way in at the entrance, where the problem wasn’t gender but economics. Somehow $310 seemed like a lot to pay for a vegetarian lunch. I told them I had a friend in the kitchen (which was true) and that I just wanted to see her (which was true) and eat lunch (which was true). I swore I didn’t want to see any shows (which was true) and wouldn’t stay on the land for one second longer than necessary to masticate my food in a manner conducive to healthy digestion and tranquility.

Then, when the truth didn’t work, I tried lying. "OK, you got me. I’m a journalist," I said. "I’m a food writer. I’m doing a piece on the food here and at Camp Trans."

They were so fuckin’ friendly! They said, "Oh, we have the food right here. It’s what’s for lunch." And they started dishing me out an awesome bean salad and a pasta salad with black olives in it, and a cream cheese sandwich, and a nectarine.

I sat on a hay bale, under an umbrella, and everything was great, but with apologies to my actual friend in the actual kitchen, the food was better, spicier, and healthier at camp. And I’m talking not just vegetarian, but vegan! How can it be?

One word: beets. Beets, and I did have a huge bag of beef jerky in my tent, without which I would have died.<\!s>*



› paulr@sfbg.com

Trends fade, except when they don’t — and then you have hip. Sushi is hip food; its appeal to the cognoscenti is perennial. Tapas (a.k.a. small plates, little plates, or shareable plates) have been a trend for quite a number of years now and have assumed all sorts of ethnic guises while their claim to permanence has strengthened. At Sudachi, a new restaurant on Sutter Street at the edge of a still-sketchy run of Polk Street, the tapas appear in Asian guise: Eurasian fusion on a small scale. "Sudachi" turns out to be the name of a citrus fruit from the Far East; so, interestingly, is "yuzu" — which, capitalized, becomes the name of a Japanese-fusion restaurant in Cow Hollow. Do we bear witness to the beginnings of a trend?

Sudachi and Yuzu are similar in many ways, from food to interior design (lots of wood and splashes of green in each), but they are unlike in at least one important sense: their relation to their environs. Yuzu is a temple of young, well-to-do heterosexuals in a precinct of young, well-to-do heterosexuals. It is part of a euphonious whole. Sudachi, by contrast, is next door to a Yemeni mosque and just steps away from Polk Street, where the boy trade is diminished but not completely dried up. If its neighborhood is a neighborhood in transition, then signs are mixed as to what direction it might take.

But there’s always a place at the table for graciousness, and Sudachi is rich in modern graces, beginning with the host, who greets you with a youthful smile when you step from the street into the vestibule. The fluttering curtains part, and you find yourself being led into the front dining room, rather airy and loftlike and connected — via a length of burnished-fir bar, complete with a pair of cheery barkeeps — to a second dining room in the rear. The high brick wall behind the bar is trimmed with strips of steel: mementos mori of sorts, reminders of what can happen to unreinforced masonry in earthquakes. (What can happen? Fall down, go boom.) The bar itself is trimmed with youngish, dot-commie-looking people, waiting for a table or the rest of their party or just idling. They appear to be slightly edgier than their Marina counterparts, though clad in the same hideous designer jeans.

Chef Ming Hwang’s menu takes a step all seafood emporiums would do well to emulate: it tells us where much of the fish comes from. Not much of it comes from around here, unfortunately, and even an offering of albacore (which I love) labeled as local on the printed bill of fare turned out to be from Croatia. The specialty rolls, on the other hand, aren’t burdened with this information, which is unfortunate but also makes them easier to order: one less factor to weigh. Spyder roll ($9.50) — with its characteristic superstructure of (in this case, soft-shell) crab tempura — and California roll ($7), with crab, avocado, and cucumber, were both excellent if routine. Because the crab in them is cooked, they can help mollify the squeamish without completely putting off purists and sophisticates.

Still, said sophisticates — if not purists — would probably be happier with something like the Death by Sushi roll ($12.50), a very California combination of tuna, shiso leaf, avocado, snap peas, and gobo, rolled in rice and covered with a translucent blanket of salmon slices, with a throw pillow of sweet black sesame sauce. I liked the spicy tuna roll ($6) too, but I always do. It’s no-nonsense, a sushi equivalent to that Jack in the Box burger that’s nothing but layers of meat and cheese, barely contained in an envelope of starch.

As for the rawphobes, Hwang has saved some of the best for them, and it’s all cooked. One of the brightest stars of the tapas menu has to be the lamb lollipops ($16), a troika of frenched, broiled chops served with mint-edamame sauce, quartered new potatoes, and ribbons of pickled red onion. The red onion was too vinegary (pickling is a form of balancing, so add some sugar too, please), but the juicy tenderness of the meat obliterated that quibble.

Buddha’s pouches ($16) consisted of little piles of well-crisped Sonoma duck confit suitable for lading into a flotilla of endive canoes moored around the edge of the plate, along with a splash or two of sherry hoisin sauce. Potato croquettes ($8) were crunchy golden bullets laced with sweet corn, chive, and white truffle oil and served with a porridgelike shrimp sauce perfumed with basil.

I liked the shrimp sauce better than the shrimp proper: marinated prawns ($12) grilled on skewers and plated with jamón serrano, tad soi, bean sprouts, and a sesame caramel sauce. Shrimp are more forgiving of chefly neglect or mishandling than other forms of seafood; they don’t easily dry out or fall apart, but if they do dry out, they’re pretty dismal, no matter how gussied up. These shrimp were peeled, which probably contributed to their desiccation but also made it possible to eat them quickly.

Unlike many Asian-oriented restaurants, Sudachi offers desserts (all $6) to be reckoned with. Chocolate gelato, served as a pair of globes in a martini glass, along with strawberries and mint, was pleasantly ordinary, but the key lime ice cream — another set of globes, another martini glass — was an extraordinary blend of sweet and sour and a richness of texture that reminded me of well-chilled mascarpone. And chocolate decadence for once lived up to its much-used name, appearing as a hemisphere of brandy-scented chocolate ganache. A festooning of griottines cherries (pitted and halved) brought some color, but the overwhelming experience of the ganache was one of luxurious moistness, as if some kind of triple cream fudge sauce had been artfully thickened into a cake. And some people think decadence is a bad thing!<\!s>*


Mon.–<\d>Thurs., 5:30–<\d>10:30 p.m.; Fri.–<\d>Sat. 5:30 p.m.–<\d>1 a.m.

1217 Sutter, SF

(415) 931-6951


Full bar



Wheelchair accessible

The curtain calls


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Theater is where you find it this fall. For instance, at a warehouse party where assembled guests — artists, authors, bons vivants, goatees, and rockers of all stripes — get so carried away that a play suddenly breaks out among them (it can happen). Or in the offices and cubbyholes where a group of Dutch actors retreat midperformance to mine universal truths about the minutiae of mundane alienation. Or hovering just above the stage, where astrocosmonautical new best friends, stranded like circus performers, orbit together after a space shuttle disaster. Or on a kitschy converted kid shuttler known as the Mexican Bus, which a trio of disembodied Chicanos use to cruise the Mission. Theater, in short, is going to be a ubiquitous presence, maybe even the stranger eyeing your canapé, so watch out.

Sweeney Todd Kicking off its national tour in San Francisco, John Doyle’s pared-down, blood-bespattered hit Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s musical thriller also begins the American Conservatory Theater’s new season on a guaranteed high note.

Aug. 30–Sept. 30. Geary Theater, 415 Geary, SF. (415) 749-2ACT, www.act-sfbay.org

San Francisco Fringe Festival It’s the 16th annual array of 50-minute feats, under-an-hour undertakings, and terse tirades. Perennially fast, cheap, and out of control.

Sept. 5–16. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF. www.sffringe.org

Expedition 6 San Francisco hosts the world premiere of playwright-director (and well-known actor) Bill Pullman’s theatrically stylized, documentary-based take on the real-life encounter between Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts stranded in space after the 2003 Columbia shuttle disaster. Think of it as Apollo 13 with a trapeze.

Sept. 8–Oct. 7. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, bldg. D, Marina at Laguna, SF. (415) 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org

The MagiCCal Mission Tour Albeit now in Los Angeles, the performers of Culture Clash (Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, Herbert Siguenza) are forever local theater champs with deep roots in the Mission District. In a unique take on the guided tour, they climb (virtually) aboard the rolling fiesta known as the Mexican Bus to act as your (prerecorded) guides through their own private Mexico (del Norte).

Sept. 10–16. www.mexicanbus.com

Kommer This Yerba Buena Center for the Arts engagement marks the Bay Area debut for Kassys, the acclaimed Amsterdam-based Dutch theater company. A physically exact multimedia work, Kommer (Dutch for "sorrow") begins as a comical and poignant play about a group of friends gathered in mourning, then shifts gears to follow the individual actors out of the theater as each returns to a separate little workaday world, shedding light on "private and public moments of human frailty."

Sept. 14. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 978-ARTS, www.ybca.org

Lies You Can Dance To Flyaway Productions — known for athletic, risk-taking, society-critiquing, and female-empowered dance performances in venues from rooftops to industrial cranes — previews a work in progress at the Marsh: Lies You Can Dance To, an investigation of "how the human body responds to lies told over and over at the level of national policy," by artistic director and Bay Area dancer-choreographer Jo Kreiter, with music by Bay Area composer-musician Beth Custer.

Sept. 14–16. Marsh, 1062 Valencia, SF. 1-800-838-3006, www.themarsh.org

Continuous City This work in progress exploring postmodern interconnectivity and our changing sense of place in a global context is a tech-savvy performance piece that attempts to extend the reach of theater by, among other things, uploading video contributions from a social networking site. It’s a collaboration between Bay Area actors, UC Berkeley students, and New York’s the Builders Association (responsible for the visually stunning Super Vision at the YBCA in August 2006).

Oct. 5–14. Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, Lower Sproul Plaza (near Bancroft at Telegraph), Berk. (510) 642-9988, theater.berkeley.edu

After the Quake As part of its 40th season, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre hosts the Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of a new play by renowned Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami (The Wind-up Bird Chronicle), helmed by Tony Award–winning director Frank Galati (The Grapes of Wrath, Ragtime). Adapted from Murakami’s 2000 collection of short stories, After the Quake is an intimate tale about a shy storyteller and registers the tremors of an unstable world while confronting the challenge of living with fear.

Oct. 12–Nov. 25. Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2025 Addison, Berk. 1-888-4BRTTIX, www.berkeleyrep.org

Des Moines Campo Santo premieres Denis Johnson’s fast-paced, darkly poetic, hilarious, and fascinating multicharacter stream of confession and moral conflict. The brilliant author turned playwright’s past collaborations with the company include Psychos Never Dream and Soul of a Whore. In what Intersection for the Arts and Campo Santo are calling their take on dinner theater, the play will unfold amid a hip cocktail mixer in a warehouse not far from the company’s usual digs on Valencia.

Oct. 19–20. www.theintersection.org

Slouching Towards Disneyland Inimitable radio and stage personality Ian Shoales (a.k.a. Merle Kessler) and quick-fingered, ever-versatile musician-composer Joshua Raoul Brody team up for this wry, cranky song and rant, purportedly "a wild ride in words and music through world history from Genesis to George W."

Nov. 8–Dec. 1. Marsh, 1062 Valencia, SF. 1-800-838-3006, www.themarsh.org

Limber up


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Are you looking for edginess? Do you prefer subtlety to pizzazz? The upcoming dance calendar has it all, however exotic or traditional your tastes. Fortunately, presenters seem to be aware of the Bay Area’s knowledgeable and supportive dancegoing audience. Cal Perfomances’ monthlong focus on Twyla Tharp — with the American Ballet Theatre and the Joffrey and Miami City ballets — and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ presentation of international companies whose work circles around big ideas (reality, peace, identity) are particularly noteworthy. Two smaller venues deserve equal attention: ODC Theater, long a stalwart supporter of local companies, has restarted an excellent presenting series of touring artists who can’t fill larger spaces; and CounterPULSE, which, in addition to showcasing fresh works, offers ongoing postperformance conversations between dancers and their audience.

Nora Chipaumire Chipaumire left the Bay Area to join Urban Bush Women, the country’s preeminent African American all-female dance group. Nobody who saw her last performance at ODC could possibly have forgotten the fierce intensity of the statuesque Zimbabwean’s dancing. She returns with Chimurenga, her one-woman multimedia show in which she meditates on her and her country’s history.

Sept. 9. ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., SF. (415) 863-9834, www.odctheater.org

Erika Shuch Performance Project Shuch is never afraid of pushing sensitive buttons. She also does her homework and often works with collaborators. Her new 51802 looks at how incarceration imprisons and liberates those left behind.

Sept. 13–29. Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia, SF. (415) 626-3311, www.theintersection.org

Chris Black Black really wanted to be a baseball player, but she ended up a dancer-choreographer of witty and theatrically savvy dance theater works. In her newest, Pastime, she gets to be both, with nine innings, nine dancers, and three weekends of free shows.

Sept. 15–30. Justin Herman Plaza, Embarcadero at Washington, SF; Precita Park, Precita at Harrison, SF; Golden Gate Park, Peacock Meadow, JFK near Fell entrance, SF. www.potrzebie.com

Mark Morris Dance Group Morris choreographing to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has to be either sublime or a travesty. By all accounts, he has succeeded where just about everyone else (except George Balanchine) has failed. The West Coast premiere of the tripartite Mozart Dances will surely enthrall the Morris faithful; it may even convert a few straggling skeptics.

Sept. 20–23. Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, Lower Sproul Plaza (near Bancroft at Telegraph), Berk. (510) 642-9988, www.calperformances.net

Smuin Ballet One of Michael Smuin’s great accomplishments was the encouragement he gave to performers whose dances could not be more different from his own. Amy Seiwert is an exceptionally gifted choreographer whose reach and expertise have been growing exponentially. Her new piece will be the seventh for the company, joining works by Smuin and Kirk Peterson.

Oct. 5–14. Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon, SF. (415) 978-2787, www.smuinballet.org

Armitage Gone! Dance In the ’80s, Karole Armitage’s steely-edged choreography to punk scores shook up the New York dance world. Now, after 15 years of self-imposed exile in Europe, she has come home. For her company’s Bay Area debut, she brings the enthusiastically acclaimed Ligeti Essays and Time Is the Echo of an Axe Within a Wood.

Oct. 13–14. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard, SF. (415) 392-2545, www.performances.org

Oakland Ballet Company At 72, Oakland Ballet’s Ronn Guidi won’t give up. He is bringing the company back with a splendid, all–French music program: Marc Wilde’s Bolero, set to Maurice Ravel; Vaslav Nijinsky’s The Afternoon of a Faun, to Claude Debussy; and Guidi’s Trois Gymnopédies, to Erik Satie.

Oct. 20. Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakl. (510) 763-7308, www.rgfpa.org

Marc Bamuthi Joseph When Joseph’s Scourge premiered at the YBCA two years ago, it was impressive though uneven. No doubt this hip-hop-inspired — and by now heavily traveled — look at family and society from a Haitian perspective has since found its groove.

Oct. 25–Nov. 3. ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., SF. (415) 863-9834, www.odctheater.org

Lines Contemporary Ballet Alonzo King opens his company’s 25th season with two world premieres inspired by classical music traditions that allow for improvisation, baroque and Hindustani. Freedom within strictures — leave it to King to find their common ground where none seems to exist.

Nov. 2–11. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard, SF. (415) 987-2787, www.linesballet.org

Faustin Linyekula/Les Studio Kabako For his return engagement, the Congolese choreographer is bringing his Festival of Lies, an installation–fiesta piece that both celebrates and mourns what his country has become. The Nov. 10 show runs from 6 p.m. to midnight and includes local performers.

Nov. 8–10. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard, SF. (415) 987-2787, www.ybca.org

Fall Arts: The year we turned to Glass


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Philip Glass fans are getting ready to camp out in San Francisco this fall.

The most influential composer of the late 20th century, Glass marked his 70th birthday Jan. 31, but the celebration continues throughout the fall in the Bay Area with concerts presented by SF Performances, Stanford University’s Lively Arts, the OtherMinds Festival, the SF Conservatory of Music, and the Cabrillo Festival in Santa Cruz in what has essentially become an ad hoc Glass festival.

At the center of this pan-Bay series of performances, recitals, lectures, and seminars will be the world premiere of Glass’s Appomattox, a major new commission by the San Francisco Opera. Set to a libretto by British playwright Christopher Hampton, the two-act Appomattox dramatizes the eponymous historical battle of the American Civil War and the events leading to the surrender of Confederate general Robert<\!s>E. Lee to US general Ulysses<\!s>S. Grant.

With a loss of 600,000 lives, the Civil War is easily the most devastating event in US history — but what have we learned? "The issues that were raised at the time are very much at the heart of social change in our country today: states’ rights, racism, you name it," Glass said recently from his home in Nova Scotia. "On the good side, we are still engaged in resolving these issues. That is one of the great things about our country, that we haven’t shied away from the issues. We embraced the difficulties as we tried to find solutions. We had some measures of success and some not. But [these issues] never stopped being relevant, because they were never resolved."

Glass’s previous operas, such as Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, and Akhnaten, exude brilliant ideas and a sense of innovation, and in tandem with multimedia and experimental projects such as the high-profile cinematic Qatsi trilogy, they earned him a place among the 20th century’s great iconoclasts — not to mention a spot in the punch line to a joke on The Simpsons.

Yet Glass continues to evolve. With Appomattox, the composer has chosen a historical topic that lends itself to an arched yet linear narrative leading to a well-defined climax. And judging from his newer works, his compositional style has acquired a surprisingly lush lyricism. One might suspect Appomattox of being Glass’s first opera in grand 19th-century style, although the composer reassured those who fear he might be softening with age, "It is going to be a very confrontational piece. Some of the elements will be quite difficult for some people."

One such element is Appomattox‘s score, which integrates Old Testament hymns sung by black Southerners to welcome Abraham Lincoln during his visit to Richmond, Va.; military songs by the Arkansas First Brigade; and civil rights ballads.

"I wanted to include in the musical language the feeling and the musical culture of that time and of the present time," Glass explained. "While this was written for voices skilled in operatic singing, there are other kinds of music in this opera as well. This was for me one of the most interesting things, to try to bring together different music that would normally not be heard at the same time."<\!s>*


"Music of Philip Glass" Joined by cellist Wendy Sutter, Glass takes to the ivories in a recital of his chamber music, including the local premieres of "Songs and Poems for Cello," Etudes nos. 2 and 10, and "The Orchard for Piano and Cello."

Sept. 28. (415) 392-2545, www.performances.org


Oct. 5–<\d>24. (415) 864-3330, www.sfopera.com

Book of Longing Glass collaborated with singer-songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen on this multimedia work, staged by choreographer Susan Marshall, with the composer on keyboards at this West Coast premiere.

Oct. 9. (650) 725-ARTS, livelyarts.stanford.edu


Il Rè Pastore Philharmonia Baroque opens the new season with a rare performance of this dazzling gem, written when Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a mere teenager. Though the plot is a bit silly, the thrilling score is full of vibrant, infectious energy and includes a fabulous string of showstoppers that foretell the genius of the composer’s mature operas.

Sept. 22–<\d>28. (415) 252-1288, www.philharmonia.org

New Esterhazy String Quartet As part of a multiyear, comprehensive survey of Franz Joseph Haydn’s string repertoire in anticipation of the composer’s bicentennial in 2009, the local string quartet offers a fascinating exploration of Haydn’s quartets against a backdrop of early American history, finding unexpected associations linking the Old and New Worlds.

Oct. 19–<\d>21. (510) 528-1725, www.sfems.org

Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela The appointment of 26-year-old Venezuelan conductor Dudamel to the top post of music director of the LA Philharmonic shocked the American symphonic establishment, but Dudamel is the next great thing. He has proved his mettle as the guest conductor of major European orchestras and as the artistic director of the excellent Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, which recruits and grooms students from the poorest barrios in the country. They’ll perform works by Dmitry Shostakovich, Leonard Bernstein, and Latin American composers.

Nov. 4. (415) 864-6000,www.sfsymphony.org

For more Glass events and classical picks, go to Noise, the Guardian‘s music blog, at www.sfbg.com/blogs/music.

Fall Arts: Fall on high


Forget that catchy monster musical Avenue Q anthem "Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist" (isn’t there a dance remix yet?) — here’s something really tickly-tacky. Last month my inverse fabuloid, anti–drag queen amigo Downy (think hairy white Whitney with nylons over her head) threw a huge party in Manhattan called "9/11 in July." Business-suited patrons were doused with baby powder on entry, to the strains of Enrique Iglesias’s "Hero" and the post-tragedy oeuvre of Mr. Bruce Springsteen. Flyer tagline: "Too early?" It was packed.

Here in the Bay, our benchmark of club-style civic self-critique is still the slew of "Fuck Burning Man" parties that spring up right about now. (What, no Muni-meltdown tunnel takeovers? And how ’bout all those unguarded downtown construction-boom sites? IMHO, jes’ sayin’.) Still, autumn is smokin’ for clubbers, with enough sassy subversion and genre-bending events to make nighttime terrors of us all. Fall’s buzz: neon laces, wine cocktails, big scarves, duck rock, blinking LEDs, and cutoffs with fishnets. Party!

Start big — and in the daylight, when both the out-rave-ous San Francisco Love Fest (Sept. 29, www.sflovefest.org) and the fetish-fantastic Folsom Street Fair (Sept. 30, www.folsomstreetfair.com) converge on San Francisco in an — eek! — angel-winged orgy of fun fur and leather. This year the intertwined events have pulled a surprise musical switcheroo. The usually local-oriented and charmingly low-tech Love Fest goes steroidal, with a lineup of international ’90s kinda supastar dance acts: Chemical Brothers, the Crystal Method, Paul van Dyk, and almost a hundred more. Then Folsom — renowned for its circuit techno overkill — injects itself with some indie dance-pop cache, with live performances by Imperial Teen, Cazwell, and the Ladytron DJ Tour. The other giant, hideously glamorous switcheroo of the season, of course, will be the Miss Trannyshack Pageant, where fun fur and leather get drenched in competitive drag queen guts. But you’ll have to watch the Trannyshack Web site (www.trannyshack.com) for the date and location; it’s like a virtual game of hide the salami!

The clubs keep pumpin’ it out too. The promoters of the huge, fabled, much-delayed Temple Nightclub (www.templesf.com), with its three dance floors, six bars, and attached restaurant, assure me it’ll be ready for its Sept. 7 grand opening party — it’s already hosted a Hilary Duff meet and greet! Prepare for an onslaught of ginormous parties to fill the cavernous space. In the meantime, you can check out the club-oriented big time of Mezzanine (www.mezzaninesf.com), with night owls screeching for dyke punk-funk-crunk rappers Yo Majesty (Sept. 12), DJ Jefrodesiac and friends’ Robot Rock party featuring Kentucky’s (only?) house rockers VHS or Beta (Sept. 14), "Do the Bartman" remixer Diplo (Sept. 22), and Christ-obsessed French techers Justice (Oct. 10). And the powerhouse musicologists of Blasthaus (www.blasthaus.com) present, at various locales, the ambient mindfunk of Bonobo (Sept. 9), Argentina–via–Los Angeles global groove heartthrob Federico Aubele (Sept. 21), and post-punk techno god Superpitcher (Oct. 19).

Too big for you? Head down any night this fall to 222 Club (www.222club.net), which just revamped its system to become the hottest little tech-dance venue in the city. Also hottt, but newer: too-fab hotel haunt Bar Drake (www.bardrake.com), awesome Latino-tinged hang Cantina (www.cantinasf.com), and drunken queer craziness at Truck (www.trucksf.com). What to drink at all of these places? Hit up Camper English’s new, comprehensively tipsy Alcademics blog (www.alcademics.com). He says tequila bottle signings are in. That’s important.

Fall Arts: Outrageous stages


› kimberly@sfbg.com

AUG. 31

Beyoncé Will our dream girl arrive on a palanquin amid tossed rose petals? Or re-create the Guess jeans Brigitte Bardot zombie on the cover of B’Day, hoisted atop a blossom-spouting bidet? Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakl. (415) 421-TIXS


San Francisco’s Summer of Love 40th Anniversary Concert C’mon, people, now, smile on your brother and skip Burning Man, find a flower, and get in free to this concert. Behold survivors Country Joe McDonald, Taj Mahal, Lester Chambers of the Chambers Brothers, Canned Heat, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Jesse Colin Young, Michael McClure and Ray Manzarek, Brian Auger, the Charlatans, Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, Dickie Peterson of Blue Cheer, and many more unusual suspects who may or may not remember that actual summer, flashbacks permitting. Speedway Meadow, JFK and Crossover, Golden Gate Park, SF. www.2b1records.com/summeroflove40th

SEPT. 3–4

Brian Jonestown Massacre The übertalented, longtime San Francisco psych-rock train wrecks return, dig? Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. (415) 771-1421, www.theindependentsf.com


Bebel Gilberto Brazil is hot — Vanity Fair says so. Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. (415) 346-6000, www.thefillmore.com

Rilo Kiley Love their precocious story-songs or cringe at the lyrics? Put them under the black light to peruse the new wardrobe, album, and outlook on the old winsome farmers. Warfield, 982 Market, SF. (415) 775-7722

SEPT. 15

Colbie Caillat The husky-voiced Jessica Biel look-alike attempts to break the Jack Johnson mold — maybe. Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. (415) 346-6000, www.thefillmore.com

SEPT. 15–16

Treasure Island Music Festival Yaaar, blow me down some Golden Gate International Expositions! What it is about Treasure Island that brings out the barnacle-encrusted, vision-questing soothsayer in us? No wonder Noise Pop and Another Planet have touched down on the once-forbidden isle, transforming it into the site for one of fall’s biggest rock, pop, and dance music fests. Spoon, Gotan Project, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist, MIA, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, M. Ward, Two Gallants, Ghostland Observatory, Kinky, Zion-I, Earlimart, Flosstradamus, Au Revoir Simone, and more establish a beachhead, while Built to Spill and Grizzly Bear spill over into shows at the Independent and Mezzanine. Gurgle, gurgle. www.treasureislandfestival.com

SEPT. 17

New Pornographers Is AC Newman still spending his free hours with his SF lady friend? Prepare yourself for new porn pop from the New Pornographer: Challengers (Matador). Warfield, 982 Market, SF. (415) 775-7722

SEPT. 18

Peter Bjorn and John Scandinavian whistlebait keep blowing up. Warfield, 982 Market, SF. (415) 775-7722

SEPT. 21

Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem The Fire this time? DFA’s big kahuna is playing at my house. Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Pkwy., Mountain View. (650) 541-0800, www.shorelineamp.com

The White Stripes What rhymes with "sticky stump"? The duo let the healing begin in Mexi-witchypoo getups, with biting story-songs and sexed-up nesting instincts. Greek Theatre, UC Berkeley, Gayley Road, Berk. www.ticketmaster.com

SEPT. 21–22

Amy Winehouse and Paolo Nutini The big-haired "Rehab" vixen reunites with her Scottish scrapper of a tourmate. Warfield, 982 Market, SF. (415) 775-7722

SEPT. 22–NOV. 30

San Francisco Jazz Festival SFJAZZ is jumping in honor of its 25th anniversary fest, starting with guitar genius John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension and continuing with Ornette Coleman, Herbie Hancock, Pharoah Sanders, Ahmad Jamal, Ravi Shankar, Caetano Veloso, Les Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Youssou N’Dour, Tinariwen, Cristina Branco, Vieux Farka Touré, the Kronos Quartet with Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche, and the Bay’s own Pete Escovedo. Gasp. Various venues. www.sfjazz.org

SEPT. 23

Alice’s Now and Zen The battle of the Brit crooners ensues. Soldier boy James Blunt tussles with body-painted vixen Joss Stone as the Gin Blossoms look on helplessly. Sharon Meadow, JFK and Kezar, Golden Gate Park, SF. (415) 421-TIXS, www.radioalice.com

SEPT. 27

Arctic Monkeys The ingratiating punky popsters emerge from a deep freeze. Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove, SF. (415) 421-TIXS, www.billgrahamcivic.com

SEPT. 28–30

San Francisco Blues Festival This year’s looks like a doozy, bluesy outing, starting with the free kickoff performance by Freddie Roulette and Harvey Mandel at Justin Herman Plaza, before moving on to movies at the Roxie Film Center and Fort Mason performances by vocalist John Nemeth, boogie-woogie keymaster Dave Alexander, hot ‘n’ sacred Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Allen Toussaint, the Carter Brothers, Fillmore Slim, and Goldie winner Jimmy McCracklin. Great Meadow, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF. www.sfblues.com

OCT. 5

Daddy Yankee Reggaetón’s big daddy, né Raymond Ayala, brings newfound hip-hop roots on the road. Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Pkwy., Mountain View. (650) 541-0800, www.shorelineamp.com

The Shins Wincing the night away. Greek Theatre, UC Berkeley, Gayley Road, Berk. www.ticketmaster.com

OCT. 5–7

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival Get your spot in the shrubbery now: after drawing 750,000 last year, our hoedown overfloweth with the usual generous array of country, bluegrass, and roots roustabouts, including Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Los Lobos, Doc Watson, Charlie Louvin, Keller Williams, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Nick Lowe, Michelle Shocked, Boz Scaggs and the Blue Velvet Band, Gillian Welch, the Flatlanders, Jorma Kaukonen, Bill Callahan, the Mekons, Dave Alvin, and Blanche. Golden Gate Park, Speedway, Marx, and Lindley meadows, SF. www.strictlybluegrass.com

OCT. 6

Download Festival Break out the old smudgy eyeliner: the Cure have been found. Then upload shed-friendly modern rockers like AFI, Kings of Leon, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, She Wants Revenge, Metric, and the Black Angels. Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Pkwy., Mountain View. (650) 541-0800, www.shorelineamp.com

OCT. 8–9

Beirut Bold and brassy. Sprawling and sassy. Herbst Theatre, War Memorial Veterans Bldg., 401 Van Ness, SF. sfwmpac.org, www.ticketmaster.com

OCT. 9

Genesis "Turn It On Again: The Tour" — please, don’t. HP Pavilion, 525 W. Santa Clara, San Jose. (415) 421-TIXS, www.hppsj.com

OCT. 17

Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony Re-create martial bliss-hell? El Cantante go for that! Mennifer — that just doesn’t have the same ring — undertake their first tour together. HP Pavilion, 525 W. Santa Clara, San Jose. (415) 421-TIXS, www.hppsj.com

OCT. 20

Interpol We’re slowly warming to the cool rockers, who are sure to have their jet-black feathers ruffled by the Liars. Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove, SF. (415) 421-TIXS, www.billgrahamcivic.com

DEC. 6

Tegan and Sara So jealous of those who got to see them at Brava? Bet it stung. All you get is this, the last performance of their fall US tour. Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, Lower Sproul Plaza (near Bancroft at Telegraph), Berk. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu

Fall Arts: Sing or swim


› a&eletters@sfbg.com


AUG. 28

Aesop Rock, None Shall Pass (Def Jux) We’ll see if ‘Sop has lost his edge livin’ in ol’ Frisky. Blockhead and Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle take a pass on the nervy rhymes.

Akon, Konvicted (Konvict/Upfront/SRC/Universal Motown) Konvinced? Or just plain a-korny?

Evelyn Champagne King, Open Book (RNB/Jaggo/Fontana) The disco queen who was discovered while cleaning the offices of Philly International brings “Shame” into the 21st century.

Ledisi, Lost and Found (Verve Forecast) The local singer’s debut for the true diva cathedral of all jazz labels has been three years in the making.

Liars, Liars (Mute) Work that skirt.

Noreaga, Noreality (Babygrande) Wake me up when Noreality TV has finished its broadcast day. Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Jadakiss, Three 6 Mafia, David Banner, and a cast of thousands trade off on enabling duty.

Scorpions, Humanity Hour 1 (New Door/UME) Oh, the inhumanity; Billy Corgan scorps out new turf.

Yung Joc, Hustlenomics (Block/Bad Boy South) Joc’ed up on java with the first single, “Coffee Shop,” off this Neptunes-, Fixxers-, and Gorilla Zoe–produced disc.



Calvin Harris, I Created Disco (Almost Gold) The brazen Scot is irreverent enough to lay claim to inventing the big D, the buzzword of this year and the year before.


SEPT. 11

Animal Collective, Strawberry Jam (Domino) Helmed by frequent Sun City Girls producer Scott Colburn, their eighth album’s nine songs include one dedicated to Al Green.

B5, Don’t Talk, Just Listen (Bad Boy) Diddy’s answer to the Backstreet Boys unknowingly use the favorite phone phrase of the Weepy-Voiced Killer as the title for their album.

Dirty Projectors, Rise Above (Dead Oceans) Another punk machismo-reclamation project? Queerific art rockers team with Grizzly Bear playas to rewrite Black Flag’s Damaged — from memory and with a hearty helping of cracked experifolk whimsy.

50 Cent, Curtis (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope) The artist also known as a form of VitaminWater that tastes like grape Kool-Aid continues his marketing onslaught.

Go! Team, Proof of Youth (Sub Pop) Will their first single, “Grip Like a Vice,” hook till it hurts?

Jenny Hoyston, Isle Of (Southern) The Erase Errata guitarist finds paradise far from the dashboard blight.

Modeselektor, Happy Birthday! (BPitch Control) Genre-hopping Berlin duo go the celebrity cameo route, enlisting the vox of Thom Yorke and others.

Pinback, Autumn of the Seraphs (Touch and Go) Will this top Pinback’s last album, Summer in Abbadon, which sold more than 80,000 copies? Indie music sellers wanna know!

Qui, Love’s Miracle (Ipecac) Jesus Lizard David Yow’s quid pro quo — with covers of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” and Frank Zappa’s “Willie the Pimp.”

Simian Mobile Disco, Attack Decay Sustain Release (Interscope) I got my pulverizing bass in your acid keyboard scrunchies!

Kanye West, Graduation (Roc-A-Fella) West’s mom has been caught saying that this is his best album ever. Making or breaking the case: West has said that Lil’ Wayne will rap over a song titled “Barry Bonds.”


SEPT. 18

Babyface, Playlist (Mercury) The onetime close, personal friend of Bill just wants do covers, like “Fire and Rain,” “Time in a Bottle,” and — hoo boy — “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”

James Blunt, All the Lost Souls (Custard/Atlantic) U-g-l-y, this ain’t got no alibi.

Chamillionaire, Ultimate Victory (Chamillitary/Universal Motown) The H-town star’s long-delayed sophomore effort has a mammoth supporting cast even by commercial-rap standards; it kicks off with a single featuring Slick Rick.

The Donnas, Bitchin’ (Purple Feather/Redeye) Named after the fluffy puppies overrunning their studio?

Eve, Here I Am (Aftermath/Interscope) Had anyone been looking? Listening in are producers Dr. Dre, Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, and Pharrell Williams.

Rogue Wave, Asleep at Heaven’s Gate (Brushfire/Universal) Just don’t drift off around Marshall Applewhite while wearing black-and-white Nikes. A new bass player — Patrick Abernathy — and a new label for the locals.

Angie Stone, The Art of Love and War (Stax/Concord) The road back from VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club may yet be one to salvation, since it’s passing through the holy land of Stax.


SEPT. 25

Devendra Banhart, Smokey Rolls down Thunder Canyon (XL) Gael García Bernal sings on one track, and Vashti Bunyan sings on two; Noah Georgeson produces a collection that is supposed to flit from Gilberto Gil breezes to Jackson 5–style pop.

The Cave Singers, Invitation Songs (Matador) Pretty Girls Make Graves–Murder City Devils, Hint Hint, and Cobra High grads calcify in intriguing country-folk shapes.

Keyshia Cole, Just like You (A&M/Interscope) Two years on, it’s clear that Oakland girl Cole’s The Way It Is was the best R&B debut since What’s the 411? Through the sheer intense focus of her singing, she rescues overexposed Missy and Lil’ Kim on the first single here.

José González, In Our Nature (Mute) Yes way, José. The long wait for the follow-up to Veneer is over. González recorded this in his hometown over a three-week period after obsessing about today’s religion and (lack of) ethics.

PJ Harvey, White Chalk (Island) Peej draws in longtime collaborator Eric Drew Feldman and Jim White of the Dirty Three.

Iron and Wine, The Shepherd’s Dog (Sub Pop) Here’s hoping three’s the charm for Sam Beam.

Jagged Edge, Baby Makin’ Project (So So Def/Island) Yet another case for population control.

Mick Jagger, The Very Best of Mick Jagger (Rhino UK) It’s semiofficial: the best of Mick Jagger is worse than the worst of the Rolling Stones.

Bettye LaVette, The Scene of the Crime (Anti-) A singer who can bring out the black-and-blue tone of that title, especially because the scene of the crime is Muscle Shoals, Ala., where she returned to record this album. She’s backed by Drive-by Truckers.

Matt Pond PA, Last Light (Altitude) Neko Case and Kelly Hogan hold a candle.

Múm, Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy, Let Your Crooked Hands Be Holy (Fat Cat) Mum’s the word?

Meshell Ndegeocello, The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams (Decca) Connecting her MySpace page to the gender-bending edges of her cover of Bill Withers’s “Who Is He (and What Is He to You?),” you might say the man of her dreams is Miles Davis.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand (Rounder) Why does my mouth fill with sand when I think about this project?

Queen Latifah, Trav’lin’ Light (Verve) Latifah steps to a song that will always be owned by Billie Holiday — and sings some other songs as well — on her debut album for one of Lady Day’s main labels today.

Scott Walker, And Who Shall Go to the Ball? (4AD UK) The enigma returns more quickly than usual, albeit with a four-movement instrumental mini-LP composed for a dance piece.

Will.i.am, Songs about Girls (Interscope) The Black Eyed Pea with the lamest name loves the ladies, egged on by Snoop Dogg.


OCT. 2

Cassidy, B.A.R.S. (Full Surface/J) The Philly battle rapper rebounds from injury and lockup and leans on Bone Thugs, John Legend, and others for faith.

Annie Lennox, Songs of Mass Destruction (Arista) No doubt about it, “Why?” can be very irritating. But this title suggests she’s really amped up the damage inflicted by her tunes.


OCT. 9

Band of Horses, Cease to Begin (Sub Pop) Ben Bridwell expresses his love for YouTube video directors on this Phil Eks–produced second LP.

Dengue Fever, Untitled (M80 Music/NAIL/Allegro) On recordings, they’re sometimes glorious, sometimes not — will the third time be a charm for the group led by Chhom Nimol’s dynamic voice?

The Fiery Furnaces, Widow City (Thrill Jockey) The prolific sibs thrust forth their sixth full-length, emboldened by engineer John McEntire of Tortoise.

The Hives, The Black and White Album (Interscope) The ebullient Swedes will be donning black after a dozen or so shows opening for Maroon 5.

Jennifer Lopez, Brave (Epic) Are listeners courageous or is she?

Robert Pollard, Coast to Coast Carpet of Love and Standard Gargoyle Decisions (Merge) Two releases in one day — guided by bipolar voices?

She Wants Revenge, This Is Forever (Geffen) Let’s hope not.

Amy Winehouse, Frank (Island) Pre–US juggernaut album by the singer in rehab, for anyone who doesn’t think she’s overexposed or wouldn’t rather look at Ronnie Spector and listen to Ruth Brown.


OCT. 16

Nicole Scherzinger, Her Name Is Nicole …(Interscope) …and she’s the Pussycat Doll whom you can tell apart from the other Pussycat Dolls — I think. She falls in seconds-long love at first sight with prospective members of her group during auditions, if the trashiest TV show in recent memory is to be believed.


OCT. 23

Ashanti, The Declaration (The Inc.) I’ll flabbergast many by saying that Ashanti has served up more quality hit singles than the other R&B diva releasing an album this week.

Alicia Keys, As I Am (J) She can sing, she can play, she can sell Proactiv Solution like few others. But will she ever truly let that voice loose?


OCT. 30

Backstreet Boys, Unbreakable (Jive) Do we really want it that way again? Can they give it to us that way? One thing’s for sure — this should give Chelsea Handler months of comedy material.

Chris Brown, Exclusive (Jive) Yeah, he’s cuter than kitten posters. But his appearance in a tribute to the Godfather of Soul at last year’s Grammy Awards verged on sacrilege.


NOV. 13

Wu-Tang Clan, The 8 Diagrams (Street Recordings) Their first album in six years — thus their first post-ODB recording — takes its title from the Shaw brothers’ film Eight Diagram Pole Fighter; in tune with the George Harrison revival, it includes a cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”


NOV. 20

Six Organs of Admittance, Shelter from the Ash (Drag City) The Redwood Curtain’s guitar-wielding heir to John Fahey breaks out a new LP, said to be smokin’.<\!s>*


Fall Arts: Before and after Halloween


› cheryl@sfbg.com

1. Death Sentence Not to be confused with The Brave One (see "Popcorn — and Human Pies"), but you’re forgiven if you do: old-school vigilantes are the new hotness. Splat packer James Wan (Saw) directs this adaptation of Brian Garfield’s novel — the sequel to Death Wish — in which a brush with violence turns a mild-mannered dude (Kevin Bacon) into the human equivalent of Judas Priest’s Screaming for Vengeance. (Aug. 31)

2. Halloween John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) is damn near perfection. Its sequels are no less delightful ("Eight more days till Halloween, Silver Shamrock!"), but all have lacked the artistic impact of the original. This ninth trip to happy Haddonfield is technically a remake, which under normal circumstances would be outright sacrilege. But as I’ve been intrigued by director Rob Zombie’s previous films — and the cast he’s lined up is pretty mind-blowing, with Udo Kier, Ken Foree, Adrienne Barbeau, Clint Howard, Danny Trejo, and about a zillion others — I’ll have to see the thing before I start, uh, screaming for vengeance. (Aug. 31)

3. The Darjeeling Limited So you didn’t really dig The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, except for the Willem Dafoe parts ("Not if I see you first, sonny"). You know you’re duty bound to see Wes Anderson’s latest, which stars Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman (who cowrote the script with Anderson and Roman Coppola) as brothers traveling across India. Prediction: there will be quirkiness. (Sept. 28)

4. Into the Wild Director Sean Penn adapted his screenplay from Jon Krakauer’s best-seller about a recent college grad who up and moves to the Alaskan wilderness. Emile Hirsch — one of those young actors who shuttle between arty (The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys) and big-budget (2008’s Speed Racer) — stars as the lad yearning for adventure. (Sept. 28)

5. Elizabeth: The Golden Age Whoever heard of Cate Blanchett before Elizabeth? Cast in every movie made since (seems like, anyway), the striking Aussie returns to the character that made her famous with Shekhar Kapur’s sequel to his 1998 tale about Queen Elizabeth I’s rise to power. Clive Owen appears (as Sir Walter Raleigh). Helen Mirren does not. (Oct. 12)

6. Rogue The director of Wolf Creek does the Australian tourism board another favor. A giant favor, in fact. A giant, crocodile-shaped favor. I believe the phrase you’re looking for is "Fuck yeah!" (Oct. 12)

7. American Gangster This film’s got a checkered backstory — it was supposed to be made a few years ago by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), and when the production went south, Denzel Washington got something like $20 million as part of his play-or-pay deal. Ridley Scott’s in the director’s chair now, with Russell Crowe and moneybags Washington having a thesp-off amid the 1970s Harlem drug trade. (Nov. 2)

8. Leatherheads When George Clooney acts, I’ll most likely see the movie. When Clooney directs, my ass hustles to the theater — even for a romantic comedy … about football … set in the 1920s. John Krasinski (The Office) and Renée Zellweger (The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre) star alongside the sultan of suave. (Dec. 7)

9. I Am Legend Holy long-in-development blockbuster — can you believe this movie’s finally coming out? The director of Constantine puts wily wisecracker Will Smith through his sci-fi paces in Richard Matheson’s tale of Earth’s last (human) inhabitant. (Dec. 14)

10. Aliens vs. Predator If you go see The Christmas Cottage — the first and hopefully last movie inspired by one of Thomas Kinkade’s stunningly craptastic paintings — you are hereby sentenced to spend all of Jesus’ birthday watching the Predator go mano a tentacle with Alien critters galore. I’ll be the sicko in the seat next to you, bleary-eyed from my traditional holiday Silent Night, Deadly Night–<\d>athon. (Dec. 25)<\!s>*

Fall Arts: I screen, you screen


› johnny@sfbg.com

"Switching Schools Sucks" Jesse Hawthorne Ficks serves up a triple dose of teen alienation: Pump Up the Volume, Footloose, and the Andrew Stevens–starring, Heathers-influenced Massacre at Central High.

Aug. 31. Castro Theatre (info below)

"Rebels with a Cause: The Cinema of East Germany" Perhaps the most expansive retrospective of East German film in the United States, spanning from the early 1960s to 1990.

Sept. 1–Oct. 27. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St., SF. (415) 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org

"Look Back at England: The British New Wave" Does kitchen-sink cinema deserve classic status? It would be great to witness Manny Farber (who wrote scathingly about Rita Tushingham and Tony Richardson) duke it out with Morrissey on the subject.

Sept. 2–Oct. 26. Pacific Film Archive (info below)

"Devotional Cinema: Films by Dorsky and Ozu" Nathaniel Dorsky shows two of his films and also talks about Late Spring, one of the Yasujiro Ozu films discussed in his insightful book that shares this program’s title.

Sept. 4. Pacific Film Archive

"Send Granny Back to Russia" The 1929 film My Grandmother is screened with Beth Custer’s score to raise funds for an upcoming trip on which Custer’s ensemble will perform the score in Russia and elsewhere.

Sept. 4. Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut, Berk. Also Sept. 5. Dolby Laboratories, 100 Potrero, SF. www.bethcuster.com

William Friedkin Series Someone I know who knows all the great actresses calls Ashley Judd’s performance in Bug a "tour de force." That film and others set the stage for more Friedkin freak-outs.

Sept. 4–6. Castro Theatre

"Helmut Käutner: Film Retrospective Part 2" The series continues with the post–World War II period of Käutner’s career, including a 1947 feature shot in Germany’s ruins and a 1954 film featuring a young Klaus Kinski (yes, he was young once).

Sept. 4–Oct. 9. Goethe-Institut, 530 Bush, SF. (415) 263-8760, www.goethe-sf.org

"Fearless Females: Three Films by Shyam Benegal" The director appears at screenings that highlight the feminist currents of his contributions to the Indian new wave of the ’70s.

Sept. 5–7. Pacific Film Archive

Morrissey Foretelling the Death of Diana Lars Laumann’s 16-minute video screens in a loop as part of the "There Is Always a Machine Between Us" exhibition.

Sept. 6–22. SF Camerawork, 657 Mission, second floor, SF. (415) 512-2020, www.sfcamerawork.org

The Darwin Awards A new comedy by Finn Taylor focuses on death by stupidity.

Sept. 7. Roxie Film Center (info below)

"TILT" The Film Arts Foundation presents an evening of films from its media-education program, which works with schools.

Sept. 7. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (info below)

Cruising The digital restoration of William Friedkin’s most controversial film finally hits the Castro Theatre, years after being revived from infamy at the Roxie Film Center.

Sept. 7–13. Castro Theatre

Imp of Satan Local queer horror midnight movie screens along with a live comedy drag show.

Sept. 8. Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight, SF. (415) 668-3994, www.synchromiumfims.com

"Tomu Uchida: Japanese Genre Master" An extensive series devoted to the undersung Japanese director, whose movies spanned five decades and even more genres, including comedies, samurai films, theatrical adaptations, and police flicks.

Sept. 8–29. Pacific Film Archive

9/11 Truth Film Festival Two days of films and discussions.

Sept. 10–11. Grand Lake Theater, 3200 Grand, Oakl. (510) 452-3556, www.renaissancerialto.com

Madcat Women’s International Film Festival Turning 11 this year, Ariella Ben-Dov’s festival includes a tribute to the life and work of Helen Hill and culls 98 films — 76 of them premieres — into 11 programs.

Sept. 11–26. Various venues, SF. (415) 436-9523, www.madcatfilmfestival.org

Super Sleazy ’70s Go-go Grindhouse Show Will "the Thrill" Viharo brings together Pam Grier in Black Mama, White Mama and live dancing by the Twilight Vixen Revue.

Sept. 13. Parkway Speakeasy Theater, 1834 Park, Oakl. (510) 814-2400, www.thrillville.net

Honor of the Knights Along with recent works by José Luis Guerín, this idiosyncratic take on Don Quixote by Albert Serra is being heralded as a new highlight of Spanish cinema.

Sept. 13–16. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

"Role Reversal" Midnites for Maniacs strikes again, with The Incredible Shrinking Woman, Yentl, and a film that can never be screened enough, The Legend of Billie Jean.

Sept. 14. Castro Theatre

The Warriors Walter Hill’s gang classic comes out to play.

Sept. 14–15. Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight, SF. (415) 668-3994, www.redvicmoviehouse.com

Film Night in the Park: Rebel Without a Cause Sal Mineo makes eyes at James Dean, and Natalie Wood weeps about her dad rubbing off her lips.

Sept. 15. Union Square, SF. (415) 453-4333, www.filmnight.org

Xperimental Eros PornOrchestra accompanies stag movies in a celebration for OCD’s latest DVD release.

Sept. 15. Other Cinema (info below)

Eros and Massacre Film on Film Foundation presents Yoshishige Yoshida’s 1970 film about anarchist Sakae Osugi.

Sept. 16. Pacific Film Archive

"It’s a Funny, Mad, Sad World: The Movies of George Kuchar" The man appears in person for a screening of five Kuchar classics spanning 15 years, selected by Edith Kramer.

Sept. 18. Pacific Film Archive

Orphans of Delirium What is paratheatre? Antero Alli and a 2004 video provide the answer.

Sept. 18. Artists’ Television Access, 992 Valencia, SF. (415) 824-3890, www.atasite.org

Midnites for Maniacs in 70mm All hail Jesse Hawthorne Ficks for bringing Tobe Hooper’s bodacious nude space vampire classic Lifeforce — one of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s favorite movies — back to the big screen. Even Planet of Blood‘s Florence Marly may have nothing on Mathilda May.

Sept. 21. Castro Theatre

Strange Culture The story of Steve Kurtz is discussed and reenacted in San Francisco filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson’s latest feature.

Sept. 21. Roxie Film Center

"Girls Will Be Boys" This series, curated by Kathy Geritz, includes Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich trouser classics, as well as Katherine Hepburn under the eye of Dorothy Arzner in Sylvia Scarlett.

Sept. 21–30. Pacific Film Archive

Amando a Maradona Soccer icon Diego Maradona gets the feature treatment.

Sept. 26. La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck, Berk. (510)849-2568. www.utf8ofilmfestival.org

In Search of Mozart Phil Grabsky’s digiportrait of the composer works to counter the distortions of Amadeus and the elitism that sometimes hovers around Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s legacy.

Sept. 28–30. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

"Legendary Composer: Jerry Goldsmith" The salt and pepper to John Williams’s Hollywood sucrose gets a cinematic tribute, with screenings of classics such as Seconds, Poltergeist, and the film with perhaps his best scoring work, Chinatown.

Sept. 28–Oct. 4. Castro Theatre

DocFest It turns five this year, offering more than 20 films and videos, including the Nick Drake profile A Skin Too Few.

Sept. 28–Oct. 10. Roxie Film Center

Film Night in the Fog The increasingly popular Creature from the Black Lagoon makes an appearance, this time at the Presidio.

Sept. 29. Main Post Theatre, 99 Moraga, SF. (415) 561-5500, www.sffs.org

"Red State Cinema" Joel Shepard curates a series devoted to rural visionaries, including Phil Chambliss and his folk-art videos set at a gravel pit and Spencer Williams and his 1941 Southern Baptist feature The Blood of Jesus.

October. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

"Olivier Assayas in Residence: Cahiers du Cinema Week" The Pacific Film Archive has screened early Assayas movies that didn’t get distribution, such as the Virginie Ledoyen showcase Cold Water. Now the director visits to show Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Beware of a Holy Whore (think of Assayas’s Irma Vep, also screening) and David Cronenberg’s Videodrome (think of his Demonlover), along with Assayas’s latest movie, Boarding Gate.

Oct. 4–11, Pacific Film Archive

Mill Valley Film Festival The biggest Bay Area film fest of the fall turns 30 this year, presenting more than 200 movies from more than 50 countries.

Oct. 4–14. Various venues. (415) 383-5256, www.mvff.org

Helvetica The typeface gets its very own movie.

Oct. 5–7. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

"Shock It to Me: Classic Horror Film Festival" Joe Dante will appear at this fest, which promises a dozen pre-Halloween shockers.

Oct. 5–7, Castro Theatre

"Zombie-rama" Thrillville unleashes Creature with the Atom Brain and Zombies of Mora Tau.

Oct. 11. Parkway Speakeasy Theater, 1834 Park, Oakl. (510) 814-2400. www.thrillville.net

"Joseph Cornell: Films" Without a doubt, this multiprogram series — in conjunction with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Cornell exhibition — is one of the most important Bay Area film events of the year.

Oct. 12–Dec. 14. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Wattis Theater, 151 Third St, SF. (415) 357-4000. www.sfmoma.org

"Expanded Cinema" Craig Baldwin, Kerry Laitala, Katherin McInnis, Stephen Parr, and Melinda Stone blast retinas with double-projector performance pieces.

Oct. 13. Other Cinema

"Celebrating Canyon: New Films" Under the SF Cimematheque rubric, Canyon Cinema’s Michelle Silva and Dominic Angerame put together a program of recent additions to the Canyon catalogue.

Oct. 14. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

"Films by Bruce Conner" The long-awaited new Soul Stirrers short His Eye Is on the Sparrow kicks off an hour of Conner magic.

Oct. 16. Pacific Film Archive

Arab Film Festival The festival’s 11th year will bring 11 days and nights of movies, including a Tunisian doc about the making of Tarzan of the Arabs.

Oct. 18–28. Various venues, SF. (415) 564-1100, www.aff.org

"I Am Not a War Photographer" Brooklyn-based Lynn Sachs presents a night of short movies and spoken word.

Oct. 20. Other Cinema

"Experiments in High Definition" Voom HD works, including one by Jennifer Reeves, get an SF Cinematheque program.

Oct. 21. SF Art Institute, 800 Chestnut, SF. (415) 552-1990, www.sfcinematheque.org

"Walls of Sound: Projector Performances by Bruce McClure" Brooklyn artist McClure explores projection as performance in this kickoff event in SF Cinematheque’s "Live Cinema" series.

Oct. 24–25. Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon, SF. (415) 552-1990, www.sfcinematheque.org

Smalltown Boys Arthur Russell documentarian Matt Wolf’s semifictive historical look at David Wojnarowicz loops as part of the "There Is Always a Machine Between Us" series.

Oct. 30–Nov. 17. SF Camerawork, 657 Mission, second floor, SF. (415) 512-2020, www.sfcamerawork.org

The Last Man on Earth Vincent Price fights zombies in this oft-pillaged 1964 US-Italian horror classic, soon to be re-created with Will Smith.

Oct. 31. Pacific Film Archive

"Día de los Muertos: Honorar las Almas de Cineastas de Avant-Garde Vanguarda" Canyon Cinema and SF Cinematheque founder Bruce Baillie shares some favorites from the Canyon vaults.

Nov. 1. Roxie Film Center. Also Nov. 2. Ninth Street Independent Film Center, 145 Ninth St., SF. (415) 552-1990, www.sfcinematheque.org

International Latino Film Festival One of three fests to turn 11 this fall.

Nov. 2–18. Various venues, SF. (415) 513-5308, www.utf8ofilmfestival.org.

"Science Is Fiction" Nope, not Jean Painléve — the histories of the Tesla coil, the blimp, and other phenomena hit the screen, thanks to cinematographer Lance Acord and others.

Nov. 3. Other Cinema

Shatfest Get your mind out of the toilet — it’s another Thrillville tribute to William Shatner, including a screening of Incubus.

Nov. 8. Parkway Speakeasy Theater, 1834 Park, Oakl. (510) 814-2400, www.thrillville.net

Strain Andromeda The and Cinepolis, the Film Capitol Anne McGuire’s reedit of The Andromeda Strain isn’t exactly backward, but — thanks to Ed Halter’s "Crazy Rays: Science Fiction and the Avant-Garde" series for SF Cinematheque — it is back. The series continues to beam as Ximena Cuevas’s metamontage attack on Hollywood shares a bill with Craig Baldwin’s Tribulation 99.

Nov. 8. Roxie Film Center

San Francisco International Animation Showcase A big premiere, some music vids, and a link to the famed Annecy animation fest are possibilities as the SF Film Society event turns two.

Nov. 8–11. Embarcadero Center Cinema, One Embarcadero Center (promenade), SF. (415) 561-5500. www.sffs.org

"Celebrating Canyon: Pioneers of Bay Area Filmmaking" Bruce Baillie unpacks some Bay Area experimental cinema treasures from the ’40s and ’50s.

Nov. 11. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

My Favorite Things At last! Negativland premiere their first CD-DVD release.

Dec. 1. Other Cinema

"James Fotopoulos/Leah Gilliam" and "Victor Faccinto/James June Schneider" Fotopoulos has had some Bay Area attention before, but Gilliam’s Apeshit — a look at racial politics in Planet of the Apes — might be the highlight in this last evening of Ed Halter’s "Crazy Rays" series.

Dec. 13. Roxie Film Center *


429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6120



992 Valencia, SF

(415) 824-3890



2575 Bancroft Way, Berk.

(510) 642-5249



3317 16th St., SF

(415) 863-1087



701 Mission, screening room, SF

(415) 978-2787


Fall Arts: Popcorn — and human pies


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

1. Across the Universe Stage visionary (The Lion King) turned occasional film director (Titus, Frida) Julie Taymor’s latest attracted advance attention of the wrong kind. Revolution Studios found her final cut of this Vietnam War–<\d>era musical drama — whose characters break into Beatles songs — too surreal and abstract, reediting it without her consent. Given that, Taymor’s extravagant visual imagination, a script by two 70-year-old Swinging London veterans, low-watt leading actors, and weird cameos (Eddie Izzard, yes; Bono, god no!), this could turn out great, awful, whatever — but it shouldn’t be ordinary. (Sept. 14)

2. The Brave One Jodie Foster is Ms. 45! Or she’s Charles Bronson in Death Wish — take your pick. She’s a New Yorker turned vigilante after suffering a violent assault. Reasons this probably won’t be cheesy include director Neil Jordan and Terrence Howard, Mary Steenburgen, and Jane Adams in supporting roles. (Sept. 14)

3. The Last Winter Global warming has provided an agenda for various cautionary documentaries, nature flicks, and penguin-centric cartoons. This latest by underappreciated genre specialist Larry Fessenden (Habit, Wendigo) puts it where it really belongs: in a horror movie. James LeGros and Ron Perlman lead an advance team planning oil drills in pristine Arctic Alaska. Cabin fever, the supernatural, and perhaps a fed-up Mother Nature fast decimate these human intruders. Recommended for those who like their horror ambiguous and psychologically fraught. (Sept. 28)

4. Lust, Caution OK, Hulk wasn’t so hot. But that aside, is there a working commercial director with a higher-quality track record than Ang Lee? Great expectations are de rigueur for this Mandarin-language drama entangling Joan Chen and Tang Wei with politically powerful Tony Leung in World War II–<\d>era Shanghai. (Oct. 5)

5. For the Bible Tells Me So Like No End in Sight and Sicko, this is one of those documentaries you’ll wish every diehard conservative would see. Daniel<\!s>G. Karslake’s feature takes an evenhanded, big-picture look at just how and why the US religious right has made homosexuality its favorite target. (Oct. 12)

6. No Country for Old Men By all accounts, this lesser Cormac McCarthy novel has been adapted into the greatest Coen brothers movie in aeons. Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson, and Kelly Macdonald are among those embroiled once Josh Brolin finds $2 million, mucho cocaine, and a lotta corpses in the Texas desert. Trouble is, evil Javier Bardem wants his dough and his blow back. Gruesome splatstick ensues. (Nov. 21)

7. Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten Julien Temple’s documentary portrait of the late Clash-leading punk rock hero has been praised to the skies — though not having seen it, I’m a little unclear as to why Johnny Depp, John Cusack, and Matt Dillon are leading interviewees. (Dec. 6)

8. Atonement Ian McEwan’s extraordinary novel — about the havoc wrought by a child’s misunderstanding in pre-WWII England — required careful handling. With a screenplay by Christopher Hampton, direction by Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice), and a cast including Brenda Blethyn, Keira Knightley, and Vanessa Redgrave, this might well be as good as it needs to be. (Dec. 14)

9. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street This looks like a perfect match for director Tim Burton, whose work has largely disappointed since 1994’s Ed Wood. But can Johnny Depp as the titular murderous Victorian — or Helena Bonham Carter as his human pie–<\d>baking pal — actually sing this demanding Broadway-operatic score? Can Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, or Sacha Baron Cohen? The breaths of Stephen Sondheim’s and Burton’s fans are bated. (Dec. 21)

10. Youth Without Youth George Lucas has been saying he’ll return to his small-scale filmmaking roots for at least a couple of decades. His original industry booster, Francis Ford Coppola, actually delivers on that promise with this HD-shot adaptation of a Mircea Eliade story. Tim Roth plays a professor turned globe-hopping fugitive; Downfall‘s Hitler, Bruno Ganz, and secretary Alexandra Maria Lara are reunited as players on Roth’s enigmatic journey. After his full decade’s absence, it’ll be intriguing to see what dragged Coppola back behind the camera. (Dec. 21)<\!s>*

Bay Area fall fairs and festivals


Summer may technically be on the outs, but don’t put away your baggies, huarache sandals, and that bushy, bushy blond hairdo just yet, all you Gidgets and Big Kahunas out there: it’s still Surfin’ USA in the Bay. Hell, summer doesn’t even start in San Francisco until September at the earliest. You can wax up the board and get busy, stuff the kidlets into the Woody, and hit one of the bevy of cool fiestas listed below, or maybe just lay out on a towel in Dolores Park, waiting for a wayward Lothario or Lothariette to rub cocoa butter on your fleshy hind regions. Ah, how good do we have it in the Sucka Free City?

AUG. 25

Jazzy Tomatoes Berkeley Farmers’ Market, Center at MLK Jr. Way, Berkeley; (510) 548-3333, www.ecologycenter.org. 10:30am-3pm. Free. This collaboration between the Downtown Berkeley Jazz Festival series and the Berkeley Farmers’ Market features the sounds of local mandolinist Mike Marshall and Brazilian pianist Jovino Santos Neto, plus the flavors of Venus Restaurant’s Ann Murray.

AUG. 25-26

Bodega Seafood Art and Wine Festival Watts Ranch, 16855 Bodega Ave, Bodega; (707) 824-8717, www.winecountryfestivals.com. Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-5pm. $8-12. The sleepy village where Alfred Hitchcock filmed The Birds hosts this celebration of the best beer, wine, and seafood California has to offer. Sip on a Cline Cellars pinot noir and enjoy albacore wrapped in bacon while taking in the sounds of Marcia Ball’s Texas-style roadhouse blues.

Golden Gate Renaissance Festival Speedway Meadow, Golden Gate Park, SF; (415) 354-1773, www.sffaire.com. Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-5pm. $5-15. Stilt walkers, fire-eaters, jesters, jousters, knights, peasant wenches, and Shakespeare fetishists abound in the fourth installment of this medieval fair. Amid the feasting and storytelling, you’ll get a chance to practice your chivalry and maybe ride a horse.

AUG. 26

Arab Cultural Festival County Fair Building, Ninth Ave and Lincoln, Golden Gate Park, SF; www.arabculturalcenter.org. 10am-7pm. $2-5. Hikayatna (Our stories) is the theme for this year’s Arab Cultural Festival, featuring a bazaar with jewelry, henna, and Arab cuisine, as well as assorted folk and contemporary musical performances.

Taste of Marin St. Vincent’s School for Boys, 1 St. Vincent Dr., San Rafael; (415) 663-9667, www.marinorganic.org. 4-10pm. $150. Dedicated to supporting and promoting the exquisite food that is grown and produced in Marin, this event features a silent auction, chances to meet the farmers and chefs, and an elaborate sit-down dinner. Soulstress Maria Muldaur provides the musical entertainment.

AUG. 31-SEPT. 2

Monterey Bay Reggae Fest Monterey County Fairgrounds, 2004 Fairground Road, Monterey; (831) 394-6534, www.mbayreggaefest.net. The sprawling Monterey County Fairgrounds plays host to this annual festival featuring the liveliest of modern reggae acts. Eek-a-Mouse, Mighty Diamonds, and you-know-who’s brother, Richard Marley Booker, are just a sample of this year’s lineup.

SEPT. 1-3

Art and Soul Oakland Frank Ogawa Plaza and City Center, 14th St. and Clay, Oakl; (510) 444-CITY, www.artandsouloakland.com. 11am-6pm. $5. The seventh incarnation of this annual downtown Oakland festival includes dance performances, lots of art to view and purchase, an expanded Family Fun Zone, and a notably eclectic musical lineup: big-name performers include Lucinda Williams, Against Me!, the Legendary Fillmore Slim, Johnny Rawls, and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.

Sausalito Art Festival Army Corps of Engineers-Bay Model Visitor Center and Marinship Park, Sausalito; (415) 331-3757, www.sausalitoartfestival.org. Check Web site for times. $5-20. The Sausalito waterfront will play host to hundreds of artists’ exhibits as well as family entertainment and top-notch live music from the likes of Jefferson Starship and the Marshall Tucker Band.

SEPT. 1-23

Free Shakespeare in the Park Presidio parade ground, SF; (415) 558-0888, www.sfshakes.org. Sat, 7:30pm; Sun and Labor Day, 2:30pm. Free. Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream gets a brilliant rendition under the direction of Kenneth Kelleher on the outdoor stage. Families fostering budding lit and theater geeks should take note.


Cowgirlpalooza El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; (415) 282-3325, www.elriosf.com. 3-9pm. $10. This sure-to-be-twangy evening on El Rio’s patio features music by the most compellingly country-fried female musicians around, including Kitty Rose, Starlene, Axton Kincaid, Burning Embers, 77 El Deora, and Four Year Bender.

SEPT. 5-9

San Francisco Electronic Music Festival Project Artaud Theater, 450 Florida, SF; www.sfemf.org. 8:30pm. $12-16. The seventh in an annual series of weeklong electronica parties. Fred Frith, Annea Lockwood, Univac, and David Behrman round out this year’s lineup.


911 Power to the Peaceful Festival Speedway Meadows, Golden Gate Park, SF; (415) 865-2170, www.powertothepeaceful.org. 11am-5pm. Free. This event calling for international human rights and an end to bombing features art and cultural exhibits and a talk with Amy Goodman, as well as performances by Michael Franti, the Indigo Girls, and DJ Spooky.

SEPT. 8-9

Bay Area Pet Fair Marin Center, 10 Ave of the Flags, San Rafael; (415) 229-3174, www.bayareapetfair.com. Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-5pm. $5-7. This event does double duty as a celebration of companion animals and a venue for a massive pet adopt-athon, so bring the kids and the dog.

Brews on the Bay Jeremiah O’Brien, Pier 45, SF; www.sanfranciscobrewersguild.org. 12-4:30pm. $8-40. Beer tasting, live music, and food abound at the San Francisco Brewers Guild’s annual on-deck showcase.

Chocolate Festival Ghirardelli Square, 900 N Point, SF; www.ghirardellisq.com. 12-5pm. Free. An indisputably fun weekend at the square includes chocolate goodness from more than 30 restaurant and bakery booths, various activities for kids and families, and a hands-free Earthquake Sundae Eating Contest.


Solano Avenue Stroll Solano between San Pablo and the Alameda in Berkeley and Albany; (510) 527-5358, www.solanoavenueassn.org. 10am-6pm. Free. The long-running East Bay block party features a clown-themed parade, art cars, dunk tanks, and assorted artsy offerings of family fun, along with the requisite delicious food and musical entertainment.

SEPT. 15-16

Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival Old Mill Park, Mill Valley; (415) 381-8090, www.mvfaf.org. Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-5pm. $7. Dig this juried show featuring original fine art, including jewelry, woodwork, painting, ceramics, and clothing.

Wisdom Festival Fort Mason Center, SF. (415) 452-0369, www.wisdomfestival.com. Sat, 10am-8pm; Sun, 10am-7pm. $8-$55. This fest features interactive panels, workshops, symposiums, and lectures, all geared toward your inner Shirley MacLaine.

SEPT. 22-23

Autumn Moon Festival Grant between California and Broadway and Pacific between Stockton and Kearney, SF; (415) 982-6306, www.moonfestival.org. 11am-6pm. Free. At one of Chinatown’s biggest annual gatherings you can see an acrobatic troupe, martial artists, street vendors, and, of course, lots of moon cakes. I like the pineapple the best.

SEPT. 28-30

A Taste of Greece Annunciation Cathedral, 245 Valencia, SF; (415) 864-8000, www.sfgreekfoodfestival.org. Call or check Web site for time. $5. Annunciation Cathedral’s annual fundraising event is an all-out food festival where you can steep yourself in Greek dishes, wine tasting, and the sounds of Greek Compania.

SEPT. 29-30

World Veg Festival San Francisco County Fair Building, Ninth Avenue and Lincoln, Golden Gate Park, SF; (415) 273-5481. www.sfvs.org. 10am-6pm. $5. For those afraid of hamburgers, this event features speakers, live entertainment, and local cuisine of the meatless variety.

SEPT. 30

Folsom Street Fair Folsom between Seventh and 12th streets, SF; www.folsomstreetfair.com. 11am-6pm. Free. The world’s largest leather gathering, coinciding with Leather Pride Week, features a new Leather Women’s Area along with myriad fetish and rubber booths. Musical performers include Ladytron and Imperial Teen, and comedian Julie Brown also will appear.

OCT. 3

Shuck and Swallow Oyster Challenge Ghirardelli Square, West Plaza, 900 North Point, SF; (415) 929-1730. 5pm. Free to watch, $25 per duo to enter. How many oysters can two people scarf down in 10 minutes? Find out as pairs compete at this most joyous of spectacles, then head to the oyster and wine pairing afterward at McCormick and Kuleto’s Seafood Restaurant, also in Ghirardelli Square.

OCT. 4-9

Fleet Week Various locations, SF; (650) 599-5057, www.fleetweek.us. Cries of “It’s a plane!” and “Now there’s a boat!” shall abound at San Francisco’s impressive annual gathering. Along with ship visits, there’ll be a big air show by the Blue Angels and the Viper West Coast Demonstration Team. And for the lonely among us, North Beach will be assholes and elbows with horny sailors and jarheads.

OCT. 4-14

Mill Valley Film Festival CinéArts at Sequoia, 25 Throckmorton, Mill Valley; 142 Throckmorton Theatre, 142 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley; Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center, 1118 Fourth St, San Rafael; (925) 866-9559, www.mvff.com. Check Web site for times and prices. Documentaries and features of both the independent and international persuasion get screen time at this festival, the goal of which is insight into the various cultures of filmmaking.

OCT. 5-6

San Francisco Zinefest CELLspace, 2050 Bryant, SF; (415) 750-0991, www.sfzinefest.com. Fri, 2-8pm; Sat, 11am-7pm. Free. Appreciate the continuing vitality of the DIY approach at this two-day event featuring workshops and more than 40 exhibitors.

OCT. 5-7

Berkeley Juggling and Unicycling Festival King Middle School, 1781 Rose, Berkeley; www.berkeleyjuggling.org. Fri, 5-10pm; Sat, 9am-10pm; Sun, 9am-5pm. Check Web site for prices. More balls than hands. More feet than wheels.

Pacific Pinball Exposition Marin County Civic Center Exhibition Hall, San Rafael; www.nbam.org/ppexpo. Fri 2-10pm; Sat-Sun, 10am-12am. $20-35. Focusing on vintage machines, this inaugural festival promises to extol all things pinball. I think you get in free if you’re a deaf, dumb, and blind kid who can play a mean pinball.

OCT. 6-13

Litquake Various locations, SF; www.litquake.org. San Francisco’s annual literary maelstrom naturally features Q&As and readings by a gazillion local authors, including Daniel Handler, Jane Smiley, Dave Eggers, and Ann Patchett. The gang is honoring local writer Armistead Maupin with a lifetime achievement award.

OCT. 11-14

Oktoberfest by the Bay Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; www.oktoberfestbythebay.com. Check Web site for times. $25. One of the few places your lederhosen won’t look silly is the biggest Oktoberfest left of Berlin, where the Chico Bavarian Band will accompany German food and a whole lotta beer.<\!s>*


Visual raids


Kimberly Chun

1. Billy Childish Who can fathom the mind of a Childish? The insanely productive garage rock legend carves out a space in yet another medium, exhibiting the woodcuts and paintings that inspired him to cofound the stuckism art movement, a figurative response to the Charles Saatchi–championed so-called Young British Artists.

Sept. 5–30. Reception Sept. 5. Needles and Pens, 3253 16th St., SF. (415) 255-1534, www.needles-pens.com

2. "American Cuisine" To serve man? Ramekon O’Arwisters riffs on the notion that people of color will be dished at America’s last supper, cooking up sculpture and other pieces that examine the cultural codes crammed into Oreos, watermelons, bananas, and other loaded comestibles.

Sept. 14–Oct. 14. Luggage Store Annex, 509 Ellis, SF. (415) 255-5971, www.luggagestoregallery.org

3. "Cliff Hengst and Scott Hewicker: S.A.N.E." The acronym may stand for the head-scratching "something, anything, nothing, everything," but we can all relate to the bad trips, group gropes, and ritualized get-downs of psychedelic flip-outs both yesterday and today. Those are the focus, filtered through ’60s exploitation flicks, of Hewicker’s paintings and videos, while Hengst relies on handmade signs and wall drawings to explore other unhinged hues. In conjunction with the exhibit, the duo have also put together Good Times: Bad Trips (Gallery 16 Editions), a volume of ill-fated acid-gobbling accounts.

Sept. 14–Nov. 3. Reception Sept. 14. Gallery 16, 501 Third St., SF. (415) 626-7495, urbandigitalcolor.com/gallery16/galleryframe.html

4. "John Slepian: Caged" Is it an alien hedgehog or some hairy displaced and dismembered body part? The onetime San Francisco Art Institute instructor’s interactive sculpture delves into what makes us feel human and how we identify with the, ugh, other.

Nov. 29, 2007–Jan. 5, 2008. Catharine Clark, 150 Minna, SF. (415) 399-1439, www.cclarkgallery.com

5. Maria Forde Keep your peepers peeled for this follow-up to the San Francisco artist’s 2006 solo show, "A Strange 31 Years," which comprised 32 oils based on each pop culture–dappled year of her life.

Dec. 1–22. Little Tree Gallery, 3412 22nd St., SF. (415) 643-4929, www.littletreegallery.com


1. "Bruce Conner and James Rosen" Multimedia artist and filmmaker Conner will show a number of highly detailed drawings, contrasting with Rosen’s take on the often-religious paintings of old masters.

Oct. 31–Nov. 24. Gallery Paule Anglim, 14 Geary, SF. (415) 433-1501, www.gallerypauleanglim.com

2. "Something Was There: Early Work by Diane Arbus" An exhibition of more than 60 prints highlights the otherworldly, haunting world of Diane Arbus, capturing her early years, from 1956 to 1962.

Sept. 6–Oct. 27. Fraenkel Gallery, 49 Geary, SF. (415) 981-2661, www.fraenkelgallery.com

3. "Will Rogan" The artist’s photographs work an uncanny magic as deceptively everyday subjects are choreographed in a poignant, poetic way.

Oct. 4–Nov. 3. Jack Hanley Gallery, 395 Valencia, SF. (415) 522-1623, www.jackhanley.com


The contemporary art world tends to get all academic and serious on us, so it’s interesting to note that a good number of fall gallery and museum offerings mine colorful, dreamy realms of spectacle, luxury, and humor — a welcome respite from all the truly problematic shit going on out there.

1. "Libby Black: The Past Is Never Where You Think You Left It" This Goldie winner may have left San Francisco for her home state of Texas, but the move has served to sharpen her handmade take on the LVMH luxury empire. Black’s new work includes a Louis Vuitton disaster-center cot, complete with deluxe valise and accessories that stow perfectly underneath, and a series of paintings that exude the pansexual myths of the West — as found in high-fashion adverts. It’s the perfect prelude to the Union Square opening of the retail dream house, Barneys New York, this fall.

Sept. 6–Oct. 27. Reception Sept. 6. Heather Marx Gallery, 77 Geary, SF. (415) 627-9111, www.heathermarxgallery.com

2. "Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson" and "Jeff Wall" Fitting factoid: Danish artist Eliasson, the subject of a San Francisco Museum of Modern Art–organized survey, was actually commissioned by Louis Vuitton to create its 2006 Christmas windows. The works that constitute this much-anticipated show are large scale and immersive and use water, light, and scent to generate natural phenomena and delightful shifts in perception. We’re looking forward to the tunnel that will wrap around the fifth-floor catwalk. A related exhibition is a showcase for Eliasson’s BMW-sponsored hydrogen-fueled race car enmeshed in a skin of stainless steel and ice. If you need something with a different kind of theory, check out SFMOMA’s other big fall exhibit, a major survey of Wall’s glamorously, cinematically politicized light box–mounted photographs, co-organized by SFMOMA director Neil Benezra.

"Take Your Time" runs Sept. 8, 2007–Feb. 24, 2008; "Jeff Wall" runs Oct. 27, 2007–<\d>Jan. 27, 2008. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St., SF. (415) 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org

3. "Michael Arcega: Homing Pidgin" Bay Area artist Arcega’s stock in trade is a smooth fusion of easily accessible materials (his infamous manila folder galleon) and politically barbed pun (it was called Conquistadork). As part of the de Young’s Connections Gallery program, Arcega has been rooting around in the museum’s extensive Oceanic collections, creating new display contexts that highlight colonialization and the ensuing cross-cultural visual influences. Serious stuff, but Arcega’s sure to imbue it with incisive wit.

Oct. 6, 2007–Jan. 20, 2008. De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, SF. (415) 750-3614, www.thinker.org/deyoung

4. "© MURAKAMI" Los Angeles is not such a long haul to stop you from getting a look at this humongous homage to the Japanese artist, who arguably comes closest to carrying Andy Warhol’s torch. Takeshi Murakami’s got his own factory and corporate ID, KaiKai Kiki, and with it he’s produced a sprawling range of licensed characters, sexualized manga heroes, art business strategies, and a brand-new giant self-portrait as Buddha, all of which will be included in this show, organized by Paul Schimmel, the curating impresario who brought us the notorious art spectacles "Helter Skelter" and "Ecstasy."

Oct. 29, 2007–Feb. 11, 2008. Geffen Contemporary, Museum of Contemporary Art, 152 N. Central, LA. (213) 621-1741, www.moca-la.org/museum/moca_geffen.php?


1. Open Studios Yes, the museums and even some smaller spaces have epic shows planned this fall. But are any of these blockbusters as truly expansive as Open Studios, an event that’s also closer to the everyday creation of art in the city than any other? Look for an interview in our Pixel Vision blog with ArtSpan executive director Therese Martin, whose vision includes activist elements and who is bringing new facets to Open Studios.

Oct. 6–Nov. 4. Throughout San Francisco. (415) 861-9838, www.artspan.org

2. "Joseph Cornell: Navigating the Imagination" and "Douglas Gordon: Pretty Much Every Film and Video Work from About 1992 until Now" These neighboring shows should illustrate waves in the flux between film and video and spark discord and discourse about their connections to museum space. Obviously, Cornell’s legacy is broader and richer than such concerns — as the rather opaque name of his exhibition hints, maybe? As for Gordon, 24 Hour Psycho is here.

"Joseph Cornell" runs Oct. 6, 2007–Jan. 6, 2008; "Douglas Gordon" runs Oct. 27, 2007–<\d>Feb. 24, 2008. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St., SF. (415) 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org

3. "Capp Street Project: Mario Ybarra Jr." SoCal contemporary artist Ybarra has made a metamural for our city, the result of intensive research into the history of murals and the history of the Bay Area. I can’t wait to see it.

Sept. 6, 2007–Sept. 6, 2008. CCA Wattis Institute, Logan Galleries staircase, 1111 Eighth St., SF. (415) 551-9210, www.cca.edu, www.wattis.org

4. "The Fox Sisters Crack Their Toes" Paintings that use glitter and beauty products as main ingredients are a special San Francisco treat, thanks to the polish — nail polish, that is — flair, and talent of Rodney O’Neal Austin and the late Jerome Caja. Now Jamie Vasta adds ambiguity to the practice; you’d have to be looking beneath the sparkle to figure out she’s butch and, in some cases, to realize that she’s even using something other than traditional ingredients.

Nov. 1–Dec. 15. Patricia Sweetow Gallery, 77 Geary, mezzanine, SF. (415) 788-5126, www.patriciasweetowgallery.com

5. "James D. Phelan Art Award in Photography" This year’s winners include Walt Odets. As a teen, Odets had the guts to photograph family friend Jean Renoir and the observant instinct required to do an excellent job of it. Today he discovers surprising planes of vision, details, and passages within everyday settings.

Oct. 23–Nov. 17. SF Camerawork, 657 Mission, second floor, SF. (415) 512-2020, www.sfcamerawork.org


1. "There Is Always a Machine Between Us" Love your laptop more than your boyfriend? Logging on more than getting off? Salvage your relationship and sharpen your carpal-tunnel vision at this exhibition of interactive works inspired by and sourced from the Internet, where Chechen secessionists, mail-order brides, hand lickers, and Morrissey-mad conspiracy theorists meet the ghosts of David Wojnarowicz and Princess Di.

Sept. 6–Nov. 17. SF Camerawork, 657 Mission, second floor, SF. (415) 512-2020, www.sfcamerawork.org

2. "Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson" From some freezing fjord located in the dreamland between Vespertine and Volta comes Icelandic multimedia artist Eliasson, whose immersive installations play with temperature, moisture, and light to icy-hot effect. This ambitious retrospective — the artist’s first major US show — promises to transform SFMOMA’s pristine galleries into hallucinatory zones of global warming and feverish desire.

Sept. 8, 2007–Feb. 24, 2008. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St., SF. (415) 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org

3. "Hiroshi Sugimoto: History of History" A welcome follow-up to this summer’s spectacular Sugimoto retrospective at the de Young, this savvy exhibition juxtaposes the Japanese artist’s deceptively minimalist photographs with prehistoric fossils and 15th-century religious artifacts from his personal collection. Will this be a history of progress, faith, or violence?

Oct. 12, 2007–Jan. 6, 2008. Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin, SF. (415) 581-3500, www.asianart.org

4. "Biotechnique" Featuring a hothouse of hydroponic organisms, semiliving objects, mad-professor lab equipment, bacteria paintings, easy-being-green gizmos, and Silicon Valley inventions, the creepy-crawly conceptual "Biotechnique" digs beneath the topsoil of technology to unearth decidedly unnatural growths and cultures. Or, in the words of tennis racket–<\d>wielding arachnophobe Alvy Singer, "We’re talking major spider."

Oct. 26, 2007–Jan. 6, 2008. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 978-2700, ybca.org

5. "Marie-Antoinette and the Petit Trianon at Versailles" Froufrou flourishes pile up like buttery petits fours in this frilly, silly, splendid re-creation of Kirsten Dunst’s shopaholic alter ego’s Versailles getaway. Queeny interior decorators, slip on your pretty pink pumps, eat cake, and prepare to swoon.

Nov. 17, 2007–Feb. 17, 2008. California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park (near 34th Ave. and Clement), SF. (415) 750-3600, www.thinker.org/legion

She’s a rebel


› kimberly@sfbg.com

"See the way he walks down the street / Watch the way he shuffles his feet / My, he holds his head up high / When he goes walking by / He’s my kind of guy-ai-ai-ai." The agony and the ecstasy of the Crystals echo through the humid second-floor rehearsal space at Intersection for the Arts, bouncing off the pine floors, streaming out the open window, and pinging off the scaffolding propped on Valencia, above the construction bustle and everyday hustle of the Mission District. The Gene Pitney song originally soared, with so much heart-pinching, giggle- and tear-inducing bittersweetness, from the diamond pipes of Darlene Love, at the time the chosen femme surrogate of Wall of Sound architect Phil Spector. But today that sugar-high, lonesome-in-the-crowd sound is emanating from choreographer Erika Shuch, our Fall Arts Preview cover star, who’s leading her dance company through an a cappella rendition to close out the afternoon’s rehearsal. As Tommy Shepherd holds up one wall of the studio, beatboxing out the rhythm, the rest of the Erika Shuch Performance Project — Dwayne Calizo, Jennifer Chien, and Danny Wolohan — fall in line, their righteous harmonies echoing through the space like those of a juvy hall teen-angst gospel choir.

"When he holds my hand I’m so proud / ‘Cause he’s not just one of the crowd / My baby, oh, he’s the one / To try the things they’ve never done / Just because of what they say …"

And then they drop into a shambling routine echoing those executed by the sharp-dressed singers on The T.A.M.I. Show or Ready Steady Go! Intersection staffers enter and immediately exit their impromptu stage, sidling through a nearby door like silent visitors from a forgotten slapstick who lost the joke but can’t quite cease their loop through the space. But nothing breaks the group’s concentration as Shepherd strolls over to the rest of the ESP and Shuch continues to wail, "He’s a rebel, and he’ll never be any good / He’s a rebel, and he’ll never ever be understood …" The entire company breaks into an improvised dance, grinning and whirling off into gentle mashed potatoes or frugs of their own.

Comfortingly familiar yet terribly resonant enough to bring tears to one’s eyes, "He’s a Rebel" isn’t the obvious song choice for 51802, a dance theater meditation on the impact of incarceration on those left behind on the outside. Somehow, in Shuch’s poetic framework, it slides in among the original blues-imbued songs perfectly, like leather clinging to flesh.

"I’m just … way into kitsch!" Shuch says with a girlish laugh after the rehearsal. Pale streaks shoot through her dark pigtails, and freckles race across her cheeks. "This piece has such a potential to be dark and self-important, and I feel like if I have a really hard day, I really like to listen to loud pop music in my car and, like, sing it dramatically. So I think it’s a very natural, very real way of dealing with difficult situations, to sing these cheesy pop songs. That’s a very real kind of relief that people seek and find."

With "He’s a Rebel" and another song from 51802, Little Anthony and the Imperials’ "I’m on the Outside (Looking In)," "you just have permission to be dramatic. You just have such permission to be such drama queens!" Shuch exclaims. "And I just love that. I don’t want it to be like …" Suddenly she breaks into a deathly dull, pretentious robot voice, " ‘Oh, subtly expressing my feelings abstractly …’ I just want it to be so dramatic and so devastating and so the end-of-the-world kind of feeling."

It might have seemed like the end of the world when Shuch watched a loved one enter the California prison system three and a half years ago, the same year she won a Goldie for dance from the Guardian. Since then, the 33-year-old San Jose native has been running the Experimental Performance Institute she cofounded at New College to focus on activist, queer, and experimental performance and has choreographed or directed plays by Charles Mee at the Magic Theatre, Philip Kan Gotanda and Octavio Solís at Intersection, and Daniel Handler for Word for Word Theater. Unlike other productions, 51802 — which is being staged as part of the Prison Project, a yearlong interdisciplinary examination of the state’s prison system at Intersection — cuts to the bone for the choreographer.

"It’s something that I feel I’ve been doing for a while in abstract ways," Shuch says, discussing her 2004 work All You Need and her 2005 piece One Window. The latter concerned "physical and emotional confinement," while the former revolved around a German case of allegedly consensual cannibalism — "this situation of having a desire that kind of has no place in this world and being punished because you want something that doesn’t fit and having the world look at these desires through a moral lens. Who has the authority or the power to say what is right or what is wrong when two people find something that they both want?"

"So I’ve been kind of …," she says, laughing nervously, "floating around this theme for some years. This is the first time I’m coming out and saying this is actually what I’m making a piece about. It is something very specific, and we’re using these abstract symbolic tales to speak to the feelings of what it’s like to be on the outside, though the text that I speak is very straightforward."

Shuch recites an excerpt from her text, an explanation of 51802‘s title, which was inspired by the five-digit number given to each prisoner that takes the place of their name: "I had to write a little poem to remember his number. It went something like this: five is for your fingers, one is for the star, eight is for the years you’re locked up, zero is for your heart, and then there’s a two. But the two is easy to remember. It’s always about two — one on the inside, one on the outside, and zero for the heart."

Powerful words from someone acclaimed (Shuch recently won the prestigious Emerging Choreographers Award from the Gerbode Foundation) for the use of movement as her central mode of expression. But the text also bears the imprint of a creator who has long toiled as a resident at Intersection through the Hybrid Project, which builds bridges between artists working in different mediums.

Shuch directed Domino by Sean San Jose, Intersection’s program director of theater, when it premiered with Campo Santo at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in 2005, and he was impressed by her ability to get people to "that trusting place" necessary to make great work. "Everything is very present to her, and everything is very real for her. She knows no bounds when she’s onstage — there’s no dance artifice. It’s whatever the feeling is, and that sounds, wow, very heavy, but what I’m impressed with is how much life and air she lets in, and the way that she incorporates as many elements as possible is very exciting to watch and very inspirational."

51802 exemplifies Shuch’s interdisciplinary megamix, melding movement, puppets, doo-wop, and two tales centered on one person stuck at the bottom of the well and another who yearns to be haunted by a ghost. During her Headlands Center for the Arts and Djerassi Institute residencies in the past year, Shuch mapped out the bones of the play before she began actualizing the piece with the ESP, beginning in mid-June.

At this point, a month from opening, the mood is frenetic, but the approach, Shuch says, is "the only way I know."

During the choreographer’s writing process, she talked to other people who had loved ones on the inside and fictionalized or "translated" some of her own experience. "People are always going, ‘Is it true or not true?’ And I’m, like, ‘Does it matter?’ I just want to present it as a story of somebody that’s on the outside. I mean, it’s all true, and none of it is true, so it’s riding that line between fiction and truth."

While collaborating with the rest of the ESP, Shuch might ask the players to spend 10 minutes writing, say, a rant to deliver to a mouse at the bottom of the well, or come up with a movement. She’ll then edit it, and they’ll piece it together, or they’ll integrate the movement into the work, with cochoreographer Melanie Elms lending an outside eye to Shuch’s moves.

"They’re all incredible movers," Shuch says of the ESP while munching a sliver of watermelon. "We all don’t have the same dance training. Two nights ago we had this rehearsal with Melanie where we realized there’s a section that actually should not be choreographed, that we should actually let them craft it for themselves because we don’t want everybody to be clones of each other all of the time. I mean, I want to build movement vocabularies, and it’s been really great also to have them amplify rather than just curb their instincts."

Instinct is a primary driver for Shuch, a one-of-a-kind choreographer, far from yet very much a part of the Spector girl groups, specters, lonely cons, and rumbling streets below us. The daughter of a Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence investigator father and a Korean mother whose family was killed in the Korean War, she is, unsurprisingly, a bit of a contradiction — a little bit inside and outside, unable to talk openly about her felon and, despite his request, unable to stop herself from following the creative urge that is drawing her toward that unmentionable story. She’s gathering increasing attention here, yet she’s also eager to travel to South Korea to learn traditional dance and reenvision her mother’s folk tales. And she’s a choreographer who confesses, howling with laughter, that she would rather sit in a dark movie theater or go camping than see more dance. "I talk to so many dancers who are, like, ‘I never go see dance! I don’t like dance!’ " she says, chuckling, before realizing, "I’m going to get in trouble, like, get fired for saying that." But somehow the form continues to move her, "just because we can say things that we can’t say in any other way." 2


Sept. 13–29

Thurs.–Sat., 8 p.m., $8–$25 (Thurs., pay what you can)

Intersection for the Arts

446 Valencia, SF

(415) 626-3311


Fall Arts Preview


A cornucopia of fall arts listings and previews, at your virtual fingertips.



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Visual Arts

Profile: Choreographer Erika Shuch



Cheryl Eddy’s picks

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Fairs and festivals guide

The pleasure principle


Gourmet is a word that almost visibly oozes pretentiousness, but if we are to believe the writer B.R. Myers, it also carries an implication of moral obtuseness. Myers is the contrarian whose 2001 Atlantic piece "A Reader’s Manifesto" pointed out that many of our most lauded writers are in fact bad writers and frauds; he is, in other words, a bold debunker of received wisdom, and his current piece, "Hard to Swallow" (in the September 2007 Atlantic), takes a demolitionist’s view of our epoch’s uncritical celebration of gastronomy. While I dislike and shun the word gourmet, interestingly, Myers reserves his sharpest animus for the related term gourmand. He might have a point.

Nonetheless, however much one might enjoy the spectacle of an erudite Roundhead’s upsetting the Cavaliers’ banquet table and sweeping their ill-gotten foie gras onto the floor, one has no desire to be a Roundhead. According to Myers, "no reformer ever gave a damn about fine dining" — an eloquently phrased truism that might or might not be true but certainly reveals Myers to be puritanical about food, hostile to taking pleasure in eating, and not necessarily someone you hope shows up at your next dinner party or even rides with you on the elevator.

Is there no habitable country between the frozen wasteland of virtue and the sweaty jungle of debauchery? Can Roundheads and Cavaliers never shake hands and make peace and sit down to a banquet — a banquet without lobster boiled alive, perhaps, or other morally problematic foods, but a banquet nonetheless, replete with dishes everyone can enjoy and is capable of enjoying?

The world, after all, abounds in culinary treats that can be had without mistreating animals, or suspending or distorting or denying our empathy for those animals. If human beings have a transcendent quality, it is our ability to feel what another creature feels, to stand in someone else’s shoes: there but for the grace of God go I. We are indeed diminished, morally and emotionally, when we decline to see that other sentient creatures are in some sense our kin, and that their suffering is not so very different from our own. But we are diminished, too, when we dismiss the pleasures of the senses, the arts of living on this sensuous earth. Life is lived best when lived in the round.

Paul Reidinger

› paulr@sfbg.com