Volume 42 Number 10

December 5 – December 11, 2007

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Bakery driver still on the lam?



Since a trio of shotgun blasts killed Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey on Aug. 2, police and prosecutors have charged only one man with the crime: 20-year-old Devaunghndre Broussard, a handyman at Your Black Muslim Bakery, who is expected to be arraigned this morning.

But Oakland police records raise questions whether a second man, a 21-year-old former San Francisco resident with an extensive and violent criminal history, may have played a role in the journalist’s slaying.
That man, Antoine Mackey, who lived with Broussard and worked at the bakery, remains free. It’s unclear whether police are actively seeking to question him about possible connections to the crime.
Reached on a cell phone with an Atlanta area code earlier this week, Mackey denied any involvement in Bailey’s death.

But a bakery associate, Rigoberto Magana, told detectives that on the morning of theslaying, Mackey drove away from the bakery in a white Dodge Caravan belonging to Magana, according to handwritten police interview notes.

The vehicle in question figures prominently in the crime: Broussard later told homicide detectives he’d used the van to get to and from the scene of Bailey’s killing near 14th and Alice streets in downtown Oakland, and witnesses reported seeing a white van in the vicinity.

One witness said the gunman got in on the passenger side of an older Dodge Caravan shortly before shooting; another saw the assailant flee the crime scene in a waiting white van, police incident reports state.

When homicide detectives questioned Magana, he told them Mackey drove the van away from the bakery’s San Pablo Avenue headquarters at between 5:30 and 6 a.m., returning it to the bakery between 7:30 and 7:35 a.m. with a damaged rearview mirror. Bailey was shot at 7:25 a.m., according to police reports.

Magana, who was living at the bakery, identified Antoine Mackey immediately when shown Mackey’s photograph as the person who drove away in his van and later returned it, the police notes state.

Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV and Broussard gave police accounts of driving around the night before the killing with Mackey and also met him at the bakery immediately after the shooting and drove to the scene together, according to interview transcripts obtained by the Chauncey Bailey Project.

Broussard, who, like Mackey was raised in San Francisco, told police he shot Bailey three times because the journalist was working on stories about the bakery’s financial woes. He later recanted.

Days after Broussard’s Aug. 3 confession, Oakland police told the media their probe was ongoing and suggested Broussard likely had help. “We don’t believe he acted on his own,” Assistant Chief Howard Jordan said days after Bailey died.

Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker did not return telephone calls Wednesday and Thursday to answer questions about Mackey. In earlier interviews, Tucker and other officers refused to discuss him.
Officer Roland Holgren, a department spokesman, said Thursday he couldn’t answer any questions about the Bailey case.

Broussard’s defense attorney said he believes Mackey was involved in Bailey’s killing, and police may have detained him when they raided the bakery compound Aug. 3 but allowed him to go free.

Soon after, Mackey became a fugitive.

He failed to appear for a criminal hearing in San Francisco on Aug. 17, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
He disappeared, attorney LaRue Grim said this week. “We are hoping he will be picked up sometime in the future.”
Grim said he believes Mackey was involved. “He drove the van. Broussard is very reluctant to point the finger at anyone but I think he will be willing to do so at trial. If he does, he can implicate Mackey and Yusef Bey and couple of others.”

Bey, who is jailed for unrelated offenses, has denied any involvement in the slaying.
In addition to the revelations about the van, a review of police investigative documents by the Chauncey Bailey Project shows:

* In a taped jailhouse telephone conversation with a man identified only as “unc,” the man asked Broussard “what they do with Mackey?” “Mackey got out,” Broussard replied, an apparent reference to police possibly detaining Mackey and releasing him.

* Broussard told police he smoked a cigar laced with cocaine “when we were driving over there” to the corner where Bailey was ambushed. According to the transcript of the recorded portion of the interview, the homicide detective interviewing him, Sgt. Derwin Longmire, didn’t ask Broussard who he meant by “we.”

* Under questioning by Longmire, Broussard said he, Mackey and Bey IV drove past Bailey’s apartment near Lake Merritt the night before the slaying.

* Bey IV told police Mackey and Broussard drove with him to the scene of Bailey’s shooting shortly after it happened, and then went to Lake Merritt, where Bey IV claimed Broussard confessed to him he was the gunman.

* In interviews with detectives, Bey IV identified Mackey as a member of his security team.
Contacted Tuesday night, Mackey said he had nothing to do with Bailey’s shooting.

“I don’t know anything about that. I’d never even consider talking about anything like that,” he said, adding he knew Broussard, whom he described as “the dude from the Muslim bakery.”

Oakland Tribune
staff writer Josh Richman and reporter Kenneth Kim of New America Media contributed to this report.

Global climate change report


Click above for special Kyoto: 10 years warmer timeline


>>You’re getting warmer The Kyoto Accord began the race to halt global warming. On its 10th anniversary, why are we barely past the starting gate? By Bill McKibben

>>The California experiment Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s green state and the mathematics of carbon

By Cosmo Garvin

The California experiment


› news@sfbg.com

If you wiped California off the face of the planet, just made it disappear — leaving behind no car or SUV, politician, person, or cow — you’d eliminate only about 1.6 percent of the greenhouse gases that are warming the planet.

Keep California and lose Texas, and you’d more or less double the benefit to the planet, but you’d still be a long way short of solving the problem of global warming.

So it’s hard at first to see how California’s highly touted experiment in planet saving, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, Assembly Bill 32 for short, is going to make much of a difference.

But on a human scale, on the scale of what government can do, AB 32 is an enormous undertaking. "We’ve got only five years to develop regulations for every sector of society," Stanley Young of the California Air Resources Board explained.

The plan was signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, and its goal is to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. In that way, AB 32 is meant to mirror the Kyoto Protocol.

In 2007, California is expected to put about 496 million metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Most of that is carbon dioxide, but mixed in are nitrogen oxide, methane, and a whole cocktail of less common but more harmful gases produced by transportation and industry.

What do 496 MMT of greenhouse gases look like? CARB figures that just 1 MMT of CO2 would fill 200,000 hot air balloons. So all of California’s greenhouse gases for a year would fit into about 99 million hot air balloons.

Right now the best estimate we have of greenhouse gas emissions for California in 1990 is somewhere around 436 MMT. Getting from 496 to 436 doesn’t sound all that impressive. Just as 87 million hot air balloons doesn’t sound any more manageable than 99 million.

But take the longer view. If we do nothing to slow the steady growth of CO2 and other global-warming pollutants, we’ll reach something close to 680 MMT of the stuff by 2020. Suddenly, just getting back to the pollution levels of 1990 looks pretty good.

CARB has until December 2008 to figure out how to get California there. According to the new law, all of the regulations to meet the 2020 goal have to be in place and in force by 2012.

One of the most promising tools California has in its climate-change toolbox is AB 1493, also called the Pavley bill, after its author, former assemblyperson Fran Pavley. The Pavley bill requires that by 2020 all cars and trucks sold in California emit 30 percent less greenhouse gas from their tailpipes. That’s about 30 MMT — a whopping 17 percent of the overall goal of AB 32.

The problem is that the US Environmental Protection Agency won’t let California enforce the Pavley bill. In 2005 the state asked for a waiver from the federal government to enforce the rule, because automakers argued that only the federal government, not California, could make regulations affecting fuel efficiency. Two years later the George W. Bush administration still isn’t saying whether it will grant the waiver or not. In fact, California had to sue the federal government last month just to try to get an answer. If the answer turns out to be no, the state will likely sue again.

Setting aside the uncertain future of the Pavley bill, the next big category of greenhouse gas reductions comes in the form of CARB’s "early action items," some of which are supposed to go into effect by 2010 and many more by 2012.

Each of these chips away at California’s total inventory of greenhouse gases. In combination, the early action rules are supposed to move California another 24 percent closer to AB 32’s overall goal.

For example, requiring ships at California ports to get electricity from shore rather than their own diesel engines could shave about 500,000 metric tons from California’s greenhouse gas inventory. Similar benefits are predicted from rules requiring people to keep their tires properly inflated and for tougher regulations on the manufacture of semiconductors.

Requiring trucking companies to make their rigs more aerodynamic will net a little more than 1 MMT. And capturing more methane from landfills could knock out 2 to 4 MMT of greenhouse gases.

Altogether, CARB is proposing 44 different regulations just to cobble together that 24 percent. And any one of these regulations could lead to a political fight. Each regulation affects a particular industry or a particular part of the California lifestyle.

Let’s see: 17 percent plus 24 percent … that leaves 59 percent of the CO2 pie still to be accounted for. CARB only has until the end of 2008 to figure out where those remaining reductions will come from.

Some of the rules are on the drawing board already. The state’s Low-Carbon Fuel Standard, called for in an executive order from Schwarzenegger earlier this year, could reduce California’s total emissions by 10 to 20 MMT a year. State laws requiring California to use more renewable energy should also contribute to the reduction.

After all that, you’d still end up putting just as much CO2 into the air in 2020 as you did a generation earlier. But you would also be the first generation to force the line on the graph measuring global-warming pollution to go down, not up. And that’s a good thing.



REVIEW When I visited Frisée — the Castro eatery that markets itself as a bastion of fast, healthy gourmet food — I expected lots of steamed vegetables, light fish entrees, and creatively flavored oil-free salad dressings. In short, I imagined "healthy" to mean "diet friendly," and I therefore imagined Frisée’s offerings to be something like an upscale version of the Applebee’s Weight Watchers menu. Luckily for my taste buds — though not necessarily my waistline — this was an erroneous assumption. What’s healthy about Frisée’s food is that it’s fresh and well made, which sets it apart from other fast food places (you can get Frisée’s entrees to go at lunchtime) but not so much from other gourmet eateries.

Which is not to say it doesn’t hold its own against its gastronomic peers. Certain items on the menu are truly remarkable — notably anything with cream sauce, such as pasta dishes and special soups. And less exceptional items, like the tuna tartare, are still quite good. The space is surprisingly charming, managing to balance large street-facing windows and a to-go counter — both of which could seem cold or too casual — with intimate, sumptuous seating beneath a red leather canopy that’s something like the interior of a luxury jet.

But the very best thing Frisée has going for it is its service, which is friendly, professional, and helpful. In fact, my waiter for my recent visit, Chad, was undoubtedly the best who’s ever served me — helpful, cheerful, charming, and attentive without being overbearing. He seemed to know what I needed before I did and went out of his way to accommodate my special needs (e.g., a vegetarian companion, a midmeal cigarette break). I’d return to Frisée just for Chad. After all, isn’t good service also part of a healthy diet?

FRISÉE Mon.–Fri., 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5:30–10 p.m.; Sat. 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5:30–10 p.m.; Sun., 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5:30–9 p.m. 2367 Market, SF. (415) 558-1616, www.friseerestaurant.com

Legends of the follicle


TRIPLE FEATURE It may be hard to fathom now, but Burt Reynolds was probably the biggest movie star of the 1970s. Other actors of his generation have gained more prestige, made fewer flops, or carried above-the-title status to the grave or today (like Robert Redford, who arguably has zero marquee value left). Reynolds put up a feeble fight as his career ebbed into TV shows, supporting roles, and self-parody. But he had many hits, both high- and lowbrow. He was the first since Bing Crosby to be the top box office star five years in a row. More, he exuded the defining territorial scent of Me Decade masculinity: wearing open wide-lapel shirts with an exposed medallion, smelling of Jovan Sex Appeal ("a provocative blend of exotic spices and smoldering woods interwoven with animal musk tones"), and equally at ease ogling the new secretary, prowling singles bars, and being the complete angler … in a hot tub, preferably.

This supremely confident archetype sported the au naturel mossy mounds of an athletically fit chest. (Later Reynolds became a notorious patron of the topside kind of rug.) He wasn’t "hairy" — he was hirsute, virile. His swagger might’ve evaporated like Samson’s had that pelt — or the manly ‘stache typically hovering above it — been shorn.

Billed as "Three Moustache Rides with Burt Reynolds," Midnites for Maniacs’ Castro Theatre salute presents the star in the very prime of his beef. Two artifacts on the triple bill must be counted among Burt’s greatest misses — one is practically a lost film — while the last was indeed his single greatest hit. But they’re all Burtalicious.

A college football star whose pro prospects ended with a knee injury, Reynolds was discovered onstage in New York, reached Hollywood in 1959, and spent subsequent years doing episodic TV and B movies. He seemed stuck in the second tier until cast as the most defensively capable of four suburban guys facing extreme redneck peril in 1972’s Deliverance. That did it. Even in a harrowingly unpleasant movie, Reynolds oozed charisma. Such cock-of-the-walk confidence led him to pose nude (hand covering genitals) that year in Cosmopolitan. He later complained this particular career move had typed him as a sex symbol who couldn’t be taken seriously. But Burt Reynolds was always first among people not taking Burt Reynolds seriously.

The public liked best the amused wise guy of talk show appearances, particularly when he was running from–slash–smirking at the law in action comedies ideal for the drive-in circuit. His biggest (if not best) was 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit, Midnites for Maniacs’ midnight show. Not far removed is the program’s middle feature, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, a felicitous pairing with Dolly Parton that stalled in the transfer from the Broadway stage.

But Reynolds didn’t want to be forever moonshinin’ and doggin’ the sheriff. He wanted to be suave and elegant, like his idol Cary Grant. Thus he dove into At Long Last Love, a film so excoriated in 1975 that it’s never been released on VHS or DVD. This Castro showing might well be its first United States projection since the original run. Love is a throwback to giddy, art deco 1930s musicals. Unwisely, it had Reynolds, Cybill Shepherd, and others not known for their song and dance skills performing vintage Cole Porter tunes live on set.

A gorgeous-looking soufflé that failed to rise, the film met with complete commercial and critical rejection. Hollywood gloated, director Peter Bogdanovich having impressed too many as an arrogant arriviste foisting a "talentless" model-actress girlfriend on the public. (Though Shepherd’s career would ultimately recover better than his.) Still, it has charms — including Reynolds, who makes musical amateurism seem a wry in-joke.

Always haphazard in picking projects (he reportedly turned down James Bond, Die Hard, Terms of Endearment, and Star Wars), Reynolds gradually eroded his stardom. Despite a prestige boost from Boogie Nights (which he thought dreadful until it started getting raves), he’s continued to take work whenever, wherever. He’s now 71 years old, a trooper who can’t or won’t quit, though his odds of ending on a grace note grow remote. He certainly deserves better than Cloud 9, one of eight acting jobs he took last year alone that no one noticed. He has the starring role: coach to an all-stripper volleyball team. Sigh. If he understood that he remains well loved, would he be choosier? Unlikely. The Reynolds archetype is an all-American winner who knowingly pratfalls into loserdom, winking en route. That fallen-jock-angel persona remains sexy. He minted it.


Fri/7 (At Long Last Love, 7:30 p.m.; The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, 9:45 p.m.; Smokey and the Bandit, midnight), $10

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6120


Ceres business


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Brittany Brown Ceres’s dances are voluptuous and lucid. They are also finely crafted, though in her first full-evening concert, "Limits of the Marvelous" — at Dance Mission Theater on Nov. 30 — they were not always quite as finely performed. The larger ensemble numbers’ speed suggested technical challenges not always met. But for those of us who value imagination and brains, Ceres is a choreographer to watch.

Announcing the evening as a world premiere was probably technically correct though a little misleading, since "Limits" consisted of works created independently. Ceres pulled them together by choreographing bridges and employed sections of red carpet as roads traveled or avoided. This unifying prop also allowed her to delineate performance space in a variety of manners, though after a while the constant rolling and unrolling of rugs began to look like ceremonial housekeeping.

Ceres choreographed in layers and sections that split and coalesced, sometimes so fast that the eye had difficulty catching them but was always aware of the underlying common trajectory. Often one had a sense of a single image bursting into multiple versions, not unlike a time-lapse photograph. The work was also fresh in its uncommonly imaginative use of arms, precisely placed but hugely extending into space.

Jenny Ward opened the evening with the crystalline Face, Façade, a solo performed on and around a stool encased in a square of red light. No matter where her body pulled her, her gaze kept focusing on the beyond. All of a sudden, it became apparent what she was looking for: a swiftly moving Gianna Shepard, who appeared behind Ward’s back. The lyrical Embrace, Detain (danced by Cari Bellinghausen and Claudia Hublak) consisted almost entirely of wide ports de bras that, as the title said, embraced and detained. In the lush, floor-bound Anahata, named after the "follow your heart" chakra, Bellinghausen weightily partnered Rebecca Gilbert in a duet of overlapping limbs and quietness that eventually curled back to its beginning.

In Epitaphe de Marie, former West Wave Dance Festival artistic director Joan Lazarus made an able guest appearance as a woman who belonged — and didn’t — to a group. She periodically entered into dynamic encounters with it but ultimately walked away. It’s a piece about loss, a little simplistic in its expression of friendship — entwining duets, circle dances — and probably too protracted, but as a whole carefully constructed as a series of waves of coming together and letting go. Set to Carlo Domeniconi’s increasingly raspy guitar, the work Epitaphe had a sense of ongoing welcome that was lovely, but fleeting. In one of the step-with-step duets, the dancers walked in spooning positions, the one in the back gently placing her hands on the hips of the one in front. The passage suggested an easy sense of communal intimacy that was both casual and private. What didn’t work were the several sections in which the women lifted Lazarus for overhead moves. These types of athletic maneuvers have to be immaculately rehearsed to be effective. Otherwise they look forced.

Before the two final ensemble numbers, Ceres introduced a tiny, hot solo for Bellinghausen, the company’s most distinguished dancer. The whiplash fast Angle, Angel was over before you could catch your breath. Streaming was lyrical, flowing, and oddly structured. It started out as a trio for Ceres, Bellinghausen, and Shepard. Midway through, a quartet streaked by, changing the trio’s relationships. The logic of that cause and effect escaped me. However, the smooth unfolding of torsos against precise, enigmatic arm language flowed with remarkable assuredness on a floor of shifting squares. How these people related to one another on such shifting grounds and what the significance of their initially huge shadows (designed by Max) was, I couldn’t tell.

Closing the evening was Corps de Co., which premiered this summer at the West Wave Dance Festival. It was a disappointment. Not because of the dancers, who performed reasonably well, or Ceres’s fast-paced choreography, which was multifocused and densely layered and beautifully balanced individuality with common purpose. The disappointment came from a deficiency in the venue. Integral to this piece is Austin Forbord’s excellent video derived from Ceres’s choreography. Because Dance Mission Theater doesn’t allow for backlighted projection, this key component appeared so pale that it was nearly washed out.

Turn up the volume


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER I read the news the other day, oh boy, and the dimming days of early winter appear to have gotten darker: the Xmas lights have begun to twinkle down my street, above the Red Poppy House, but they can’t draw attention away from the little shrine of bedraggled plastic balloons and dampened candles around the corner dedicated to 21-year-old Erick Balderas, who was shot to death at Treat Avenue and 23rd Street on Nov. 18. I hobbled home from No Country for Old Men and a lychee-infused cocktail just a few hours before he was slain only a block away, but I failed to hear the gunshots. Thinking about his death and that of 18-year-old Michael Price Jr., shot near the Metreon box office by, allegedly, another teenager, one wonders why nightlife has grown so deadly for the kids who can really use some fun.

Reading is a safe substitute. When going out seems to be getting more hazardous, who can blame a culture vulture for wanting to stay in and nest with a good book and a CD, preferably the two combined in one? Those in the market for juicy boomer-rock dirt will likely dig this year’s Clapton: The Autobiography (Broadway), ex Pattie Boyd’s Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me (Harmony), and Ron Wood’s Ronnie: The Autobiography (St. Martin’s) — survivor’s tales all. But perhaps this is also the moment to revisit a musician who perished as violently and mysteriously as autumn’s lost boys: Elliott Smith. Photographer Autumn de Wilde manages to skate between the coffee table and the fanzine rack with a handsome tome of photos, many snapped around the time of Smith’s Figure 8 (DreamWorks, 2000).

Figure 8 was a divisive recording, alienating early lo-fi lovers and seemingly reaching out to the "Miss Misery" masses, and Smith looked self-consciously awkward slouching in front of the music store swirl that turned into a shrine after his death. Talking to friends, exes, family, managers, and producers who haven’t gone on the record since Smith’s death, de Wilde gathers snatches of intriguing info — for instance, it was engineer ex-girlfriend Joanna Bolme who gave Smith the sorry bowl haircut that de Wilde documents — and thoughts on the art of capturing spirits like Smith on the fly. Centering Elliott Smith (Chronicle) on images from her "Son of Sam" video, a poignant reworking of The Red Balloon, she finds the innocence that made Smith’s songs — and their anger over quashed hope — possible amid the listener cynicism and the songwriter’s lyrical bitterness. The kicker: an accompanying five-song CD of live acoustic solo Smith tracks, culled from 1997 appearances at Los Angeles’ Largo, including a sweetly screwed-up rendition of Hank Williams’s "All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down."

Another volume to really turn down the covers with is Wax Poetics Anthology, Volume 1 (Wax Poetics/Puma), a mixologist’s spin cycle of stories from the great mag. Editor Andre Torres taps interviews with golden era hip-hop knob twirlers Prince Paul, the RZA, and Da Beatminerz, as well as pieces on James Brown’s drummer Clyde Stubblefield, reggae producers King Tubby and Clive Chin, salsa giant Fania Records, Henry Chalfant of Style Wars, and much more than you can down in one chill evening. Extensive discographies aside, the only thing that’s lacking here is a soundtrack.

Not so with the much slimmer but no less passionate new issue of Ptolemaic Terrascope zine, once financed by the Bevis Frond. Mushroom drummer and Runt–Water Records consultant Pat Thomas has assumed the editorship. Apparently after 15 years and 35 issues, previous head Phil McMullen was "burned out, for lack of a better word," Thomas told me from his Oakland home, where he was happy to get away from a take-home exam on menstrual cycles. The new editor is even on the cover, looking appropriately put-upon; it’s the Alyssa Anderson photo shot in the Haight that was adapted for Devendra Banhart’s Cripple Crow (XL). Banhart is so ubiquitous these days that some Guardian staffers are tempted to start a swear jar to gather quarters every time his name is invoked. But he’s a natural cover star, also doing a jukebox jury piece with Thomas and Vetiver’s Andy Cabic within Terrascope.

United Kingdom folk luminaries like Shirley Collins and Davey Graham crop up in interviews and on the zine’s CD, which teems with wonderful unreleased tracks by the Velvet Underground’s Doug Yule, Willow Willow, Six Organs of Admittance, Ruthann Friedman, and Kendra Smith, among others, all playing off the issue’s Anglo-folk orientation, though pieces on Elaine Brown and the Black Panther Party parallel Thomas’s ongoing work assembling a box set for Water on the Panthers’ music and spoken word. The editor already has interviews with Wizz Jones and Ian Matthews ready for the next issue, but he’s tempted to put the zine on hold while he assembles a guidebook to black power music, foreshadowing new turns in Terrascope. "The magazine was always, for lack of a better word, very white," Thomas quips. "I want to blacken it up a little bit." 2

For more picks, see Sonic Reducer Overage at www.sfbg.com/blogs/music.


<\!s>The Kinks: All Day and All of the Night: Day by Day Concerts, Recordings, and Broadcasts, 1964–1997, by Doug Hinman and the Kinks (Backbeat, 2004)

<\!s>The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, by Michael Weldon (Ballantine, 1983)

<\!s>Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of the Who, by Andy Neill (Virgin, 2005)

<\!s>Hollywood Rock, by Marshall Crenshaw (HarperCollins, 1994)

<\!s>The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, eighth edition, by Joel Whitburn (Billboard, 2004). "I can just sit down with that on an eight-hour flight and look at charts. I’m a total music geek!"

The Rubinoos open for Jonathan Richman, Thurs/6, 8 p.m., $15. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF. www.musichallsf.com.

We heart the cranberry tart


People might grumble about holiday turkey, but even the most disenchanted grumbler will usually choke down a bite or two, just for appearances. Seldom is the same courtesy extended to the cranberry, which often reaches the table as a pretty red relish no one really wants. The cranberry is the orphan of holiday cooking and — a true measure of its lowly state — a punch line for sitcom jokes, from The Simpsons to Frasier.

To say all the neglect, abuse, and humor amount to an injustice is a considerable understatement. The cranberry is one of nature’s superfoods, for one thing, richer in antioxidants than just about everything else and, as the Indians understood, endowed with medicinal properties. (Cranberries were used to treat urinary-tract infections.)

But as food marketers have long known, "good for you" isn’t the sexiest pitch. Better to flash a little thigh — but does the cranberry have any thigh to flash? The answer is yes! Forget about the wretched relish and turn your holiday cranberries into a lovely dessert tart. (By doing this you will also rid the holiday world of at least one pumpkin pie, another deathless perennial no one seems to like.)

If you are truly ambitious, you can make a cranberry version of linzer torte using the recipe in Emily Luchetti’s Classic Stars Desserts (Chronicle, 2007). I made a rustic galette but did start with a version of her filling: basically a 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed, then simmered in a heavy saucepan with a cup of sugar, a few tablespoons of water, and the zest of one orange until jamminess was achieved.

Pastry: a cup of all-purpose flour into the food processor, followed by six tablespoons of sweet butter (in chunks) and a pinch of salt. When it looks like cornmeal, dribble in ice water (machine still running) until a ball forms. Chill briefly, then shape into a 10-inch disk. Lay the disk on parchment paper on a baking tray. In the middle of the disk, spread three tablespoons each of sugar and flour. Spread about half of your jam over this, add five more tablespoons of sugar, and fold up the edges into a rough circle. Brush the pastry with water, sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar, and bake in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. Cool, and give thanks.

Paul Reidinger

› paulr@sfbg.com

My dinner with B-Legit


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

I meet B-Legit in Concord for lunch at the Elephant Bar, an appropriately massive venue for a rapper of his stature and talents. With three albums by the Click — a group including his cousins E-40, D-Shot, and Suga T — and five solos under his belt, B-La hardly needs an introduction. Along with Too $hort, the Click started the Bay’s independent hip-hop scene, beginning with their 1989 12-inch under the name MVP. They soon formed a label, Sick Wid It Records, and B-La regales me with tales of their early hustles, like sneaking their records into music stores, which soon ordered copies after fans kept bringing the uninventoried items to the counter.

When Sick Wid It snagged a distribution deal with Jive in 1994, the latter rereleased B-La’s debut, Trying to Make a Buck, which had moved some 100,000 copies independently. With Jive behind him, the rapper released his best-known album, The Hemp Museum (1996), including the nonsingle hit "City to City," which still receives airplay on KMEL, 106.1 FM. When Jive started prioritizing pop groups like N’Sync, however, the man born Brandt Jones found himself on the back burner until Koch Records affiliate In the Paint bought his contract and released the already recorded Hempin’ Ain’t Easy (2000). After a second disc, the underpromoted Hard to B-Legit (2002), he and Koch parted ways.

Forming his own branch of Sic Wid It, Block Movement, B-Legit released a 2005 album with that title through local powerhouse SMC. Continuing the more experimental brand of mob music begun with Hard, Block Movement may be his greatest disc to date, particularly the tracks coproduced by Bedrock and Clyde Carson.

"I sat back and let Clyde Carson direct me," the Vallejo rapper says. "He directed four songs. I was trying to switch it up.

"Unfortunately, it came out about a month before hyphy really took off," he continues. "If you weren’t hyphy, you were kinda overlooked. It wasn’t unsuccessful, but it was bad timing." Even so, as hyphy’s trendiness began petering out, artists like B-Legit retained their core audience, thus weathering the storm.

While hard at work on a follow-up, B-La has paused to release an interim disc, Throwblock Muzic (Block Movement/SMC). Like the Who’s Odds and Sods (MCA, 1974), Throwblock collects dope tracks from throughout B-La’s career that, for one reason or another, didn’t make previous full-lengths.

"This is the teaser to prep everybody for the next album," he says. "But it’s a solid album too. It’s not just old-school. We worked on it." With its remixed tunes, swapped-in new beats, and new material, Throwback has the feel of a solid LP: beats by newer producers like Young L of the Pack and Dallas artist Goldfingers make the recording contemporary, even as cuts by Mike Mosley, E-A-Ski, and CMT recall the classic mob music days. The lead single, "GAME," stems from a 2001 session with Mac Dre, albeit with new music by Troy Sanders. As Dre and B-La trade bars on the second and third verses, it’s hard not to wish Dre had lived to collaborate more with his former Sick Wid It rival for Vallejo supremacy.

With B-La’s success and the explosion of E-40 on the national scene, opportunities to re-create the Click’s old family vibe are increasingly rare, due to scheduling pressures. Under these conditions, I ask, is there any possibility of a new Click album?

"Used to be you had to be in the studio together," B-La replies. "Now you do your session, send it to someone, and they send it back to you. But the music comes out better when you vibe on the spot together.

"We want to create that magic one more time," he says, coolly peeling off a $100 bill for the lunch. "But I would want this group album to have a sincere vibe, like we used to do it."


Take Dap


Take it from me: with our purist hearts and crate-digging proclivities, we true-blue soul believers and bright-eyed funk freaks tend to be a pretty devoted lot, but Brooklyn Stax-Motown revivalists Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings inspire a level of commitment that would make even Dr. Phil blush. A friend of mine loves to tell me about the time she spent her last $15 to get into their show in Austin, Texas. There she was, penniless, thirsty, and without a paycheck in sight for another week, and none of it mattered. "Why would it?" she whoops and grins as she recalls that night of empty pockets and high spirits. "I danced my ass off, honey! Money — who cares?"

It’s a story worth mentioning, since so much of what makes Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings such an electrifying force comes from their ability to whisk listeners away from their day-to-day worries while delivering glorious emotional, hip-loosening release. Man problems, woman problems, cash flow problems — these headaches happen to everybody, and Jones and her eight partners in greasy-groove know-how are no exception, as such songs as "My Man Is a Mean Man" attest. Still, soul music’s all about catharsis through a band’s connection with its audience on a feel-it-in-the-gut level, and what better way to make that communion than with the inarguably simple message "There ain’t no troubles we can’t dance away!"

This declaration has resonated with so many listeners because it has been articulated flawlessly. Never mind that the Dap-Kings have been catching new fans since they were tapped to back Amy Winehouse on her Back to Black (Island, 2006). Every chicken-scratch guitar, every fat-bottom bass line, every popping horn arrangement is a triple-take-inducing transmission from a predisco soul universe — a rare event in today’s more technology-driven neosoul market. The Dap-Kings — led by bassist-producer Bosco Mann — have clearly ingested every ounce of ’60s and ’70s R&B and funk, and their authenticity-prizing take on the sweat-soaked rhythms of James Brown’s beloved house band, the JB’s, has yielded a righteously old-school backdrop for Jones’s mighty pipes. In a live setting, the JB’s comparison is tough to miss. Swiss-clock precise but blazing with passion, these workhorses are unstoppable and a joy to behold.

And those mighty pipes I mentioned? Jones can do it all, whether she’s snapping and snarling like Etta James, giving the gospel lowdown à la Aretha Franklin, or sassing away like the second coming of Lyn Collins, and she rightfully deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Bettye LaVette and Irma Thomas, while we’re at it. Endowed with a full-throated, bottomless-lunged attention grabber of a voice, Jones can slide effortlessly from tender, sweet-lipped supplications to tougher-than-nails put-downs — the latter ability possibly stemming from her years of employment as a prison guard — often within the same song. A master interpreter, she has not only reconfigured the Woody Guthrie folk ditty "This Land Is Your Land" into a slinky call for social equality but also scraped away the cheesy gloss of Janet Jackson’s "What Have You Done for Me Lately?" to reveal the stinging nettles lying underneath.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings’ recently released third album, 100 Days, 100 Nights (Daptone), is a stirring document from a band at the height of its powers. All of the familiar funk and fire are there, and the addition of bluesier elements on tracks such as "Humble Me" and "Let Them Knock" demonstrates that they still have plenty of ideas to kick around. Best of all, they’ve never sounded as smoky, as sultry, as they do on this disc. If you haven’t yet offered up your heart to these folks, here’s your chance.


Wed/5, 8 p.m., $18–$20

Bimbo’s 365 Club

1025 Columbus, SF

(415) 474-0365


Rock on the sidelines


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Did Ian Hunter kill rock for Cleveland? Growing up in that blue-collared grime zone of fiery rivers and industrial blur, I never saw much rock rolling through my old haunt, and I never really understood what drove the former Mott the Hoople frontman to patronize us with "Cleveland Rocks" and provide my hometown with a surefire anthem for our flawed sports teams. While the city does get cited for a lot of proto-punk activity (the Electric Eels, Rocket from the Tombs), its influence on the rock world abruptly screeches to a halt there. If there’s any truth to Hunter’s rallying cry for the Mistake on the Lake, I’m pretty certain he wasn’t getting loud and snotty with the likes of the barflies and crusty punks at a Pagans show, or fostering a soft spot for the quirk-ball nerdiness of Devo, for that matter. "It’s all bollocks," as you might say, Mr. Hunter, so thanks, but no thanks.

If anything, "no one gets out of this town alive" seems like a more applicable rock slogan for this northeastern Ohio hub. While I rapped over the phone with fellow Clevelander Chris Kulcsar, the throaty lead vocalist of This Moment in Black History, that notion recurred as he discussed some of the disadvantages that come with being in a Midwestern band. For one, according to Kulcsar, there’s nothing glamorous about Cleveland, so a lot of music critics tend to ignore its scene.

"I feel like people from outside the city never take bands from Cleveland seriously," he explained from his parents’ house. "It’s so hard for bands from here to get a booking agent to be interested in you, and if you want to get beyond playing at peoples’ DIY spaces and basements — which is fine; it’s great doing that — I find it’s really tough.

"It’s killed a lot of bands from around here," Kulcsar continued, "because they’ll try and tour, and there’s nothing more demoralizing than spending six weeks playing to 10 people every night."

But Kulcsar’s not that bent out of shape: his band’s already sizable following in the underground punk community has swelled in the past year due to the release of its sophomore full-length, It Takes a Nation of Assholes to Hold Us Back (Coldsweat, 2006), and a much-acclaimed performance at this year’s South by Southwest conference.

TMIBH’s roots trace back to a housewarming party that Kulcsar threw in the fall of 2002, but its members are seasoned vets of the garage and punk scenes who have served time in such outfits as the Bassholes, the Lesbian Makers, the Chargers Street Gang, and Neon King Kong. Recorded in two 12-hour sessions at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio in Chicago, It Takes a Nation explodes with a raw, art-punk aggressiveness that’s both innovative and open-ended, offering an honest portrayal of the group’s run-down Middle America surroundings with lyrics that touch on alienation, humor, oppression, and rage. Guitarist Buddy Akita paws out filth-driven noise in minute-long bursts from one tune to the next, while Kulcsar frantically screams like a rabid lunatic and noodles with a detuned keyboard. The rhythm section of bassist Lawrence Daniel Caswell and drummer Lamont "Bim" Thomas thunders noisily in the background, alternating between brutal avidity and blues-driven backbone.

Though It Takes a Nation comes across as full-on garage punk, it should be viewed as more of a celebration of interracial assimilation and interaction within music, no matter what the genre. And while not all of TMIBH’s members are African American, the band explicitly emphasizes the theme throughout the recording’s 35-minute run. According to Kulcsar, TMIBH are focused on stressing the significance of black culture and its advancements in rock music.

"People forget a lot of the time that rock music is actually black music, and I think that’s important to all of us in the band, but especially to Bim and Lawrence — this idea that rock music came out of a blues and R&B tradition and now it’s just viewed in this really homogenized, white culture," he opines. "A lot of it comes from wanting to just get back to the idea that there can be black rock music or black people involved in punk."

And Kulcsar is conscious enough to step away from the role of spokesperson for black rock. "I feel like out of all the people in the band, I’m the least apt to speak about it, because sometimes I get weirded out saying I’m in a band called TMIBH and I’m a white singer," he confesses. "There’s just baggage that goes along with that I’m sometimes weighed down by…. But I guess it’s too late now." *


With the Late Young and Epic Sessions

Dec. 12, 9:30 p.m., $6

Hemlock Tavern

1131 Polk, SF

(415) 923-0923


The Mix


1) Veronica De Jesus’s book of memorial drawings and music by Coconut, Dog Eared Books

2) Alex Jones in Damon Packard’s SpaceDisco One

3) StopAIDS rainbow bus, plus condom dresses

4) Maria Bamford, Comedians of Comedy, Independent

5) <0x0007>Municipal Waste playing songs about Satanic wizards and dead presidents, Slim’s

Cinema critiques sinophilia


Just as the serious-minded traveler to a foreign land sacrifices certainty and ease of understanding to derive fresh insight, viewers of Ellen Zweig’s video works must jettison their expectation of narrative in order to embrace Zweig’s fragmentation — its disorientation and truthfulness. Her interwoven snippets of interview, performance, and language are decontextualized in a way that is apropos of her thematic consideration of how Westerners construct, imagine, and experience China and Chinese-ness from a distance. Her HEAP series is akin to being parachuted into profundity — your peripheral vision has to adapt hastily.

Language is essential to Zweig’s form and content. It is both an alienating force and a means of bonding. In (The Chinese Room) John Searle, after absorbing calligraphy and vacilutf8g between being "embarrassed" and "ecstatic" while in China, she concedes, "I cannot speak Chinese." The repeating, graphic Chinese text of (Unsolved) Robert van Gulik feigns a connection with the English that is being spoken, but actually tells its own story. On the other hand, language is shared amicably between the artist and Chinese strangers in (Flick Flight Flimsy) Ernest Fenollosa.

Zweig is a fascinating guide because she is a semi-insider; she navigates the much-mythologized land of her heritage with a privilege and a passion the non-Chinese necessarily lack, but she must arrive at knowledge through translation and inquiry. Language and privilege are cleverly wielded when, in A Surplus of Landscape, she interrogates fellow filmmaker Leslie Thornton about choosing to shoot a film about China, with no prior experience of the land, in a Japanese garden. Zweig’s videos juxtapose Western Sinophile "experts" with Chinese common folk and customs in a manner that continually questions cultural (mis)understanding.


Sun/9, 7:30 p.m., $6–$8

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, screening room, SF

(415) 978-2787


Purple penetrator


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Being rich and famous dupes so many into thinking they have profound life wisdom that must be shared. Is it simple narcissism? Is it that when material desires are fulfilled too easily, spirituality becomes the top high-end item left to acquire?

Guy Ritchie may do stupid things, like remaking Lina Wertmüller’s reactionary-in-1974 Swept Away as a 2002 vehicle for his wife, Madonna, whose acting kills entire movies on contact. But he’s also clever, at least regarding surfaces. Yet there’s usually nothing beneath them, unless in-joke movie references count as deep. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000) are deliriously, obnoxiously showy exercises in hyperworked camera, editing, and soundtrack. Their affectedly cool ‘tude is wrought of pissing-contest testosterone, compiled genre clichés, and Ritchie’s training in music videos and TV commercials. Love ’em or leave ’em, these movies are elaborate toys for boys, their pulp roots elevated to artier status by Brit exoticism and a big bag of stylistic tricks. Tricks, you’ll recall, are for kids.

After those samey successes and one stinging flop, Ritchie was ripe to expand his range. He and Madonna developed as sentient beings too, what with childbearing and third world adoption and all that kabbalah stuff.

Yet one wonders: has spiritual evolution given Ritchie more depth as an artist? Merely considering the question hurts.

Ritchie’s latest movie, Revolver, premiered at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival to howls of derision. More than a year later, it’s here, and — like Richard Kelly’s similarly dissed, delayed, and recut Southland Tales — it’s still terrible. Not just because it’s an unsalvageable mess, but also because it’s an expression of ersatz profundity that confirms a shallow intellect. This being Ritchie, his big stab at insight regarding the human condition arrives as a hyperstylized gangster movie, albeit with less smug jokiness than before and a stinking new pantsload of pretension.

Ritchie’s usual muse Jason Statham plays Jake Green, just released from seven years in prison and eager to avenge himself on the casino kingpin (Ray Liotta) who put him there. He signs on with nasty loan sharks Vincent Pastore and André Benjamin, who promise to abet his vengeance — but at a high price. Soon everyone wants to kill Jake, but he kills them instead. It’s all just bullet-riddled bodies flying through space. Senseless as a thriller, Revolver could be enjoyed for its textural luxuriance — Ritchie does have a gift for constructing dynamic scene-by-scene aesthetics — if not for the paralyzing pomposity that hitches onto this empty cargo train.

Revolver is so transparently about nothing that its final revelations become inadvertent punch lines at the auteur’s expense. We’re told "the ultimate con" is the ego, Jake’s own "worst enemy" his bad-boy self. That’s before the epilogue. (Warning: it involves Deepak Chopra.) There isn’t enough pot in the world to make such quasi-philosophical wankery provoke the intended whoa.

The idea of Ritchie liberating himself from the trap of ego is contradicted by every frame of this self-consciously flashy and vain movie. Revolver inhabits a fantasy man’s-man world. It’s a painful example of wannabe mysticism — riddled with kabbalah and numerological references — and it’s exactly as enlightened about women as a mid-’60s James Bond flick. Female cast members are displayed mute, surgically enhanced, open mouthed, and variably unclad, like porn models. The sole older woman (Francesca Annis) is a retro lesbian-sadist caricature modeled on Lotte Lenya in 1963’s From Russia with Love. She paws cringing younger female slaves who recall the runway look-alikes in Robert Palmer’s "Addicted to Love" video.

Revolver also finds time to be racist, via Tom Wu’s stereotyped Asian crime boss, Lord John. Why bother distinguishing? This movie is a massive, great-looking embarrassment. But Ritchie is probably so insulated he can assure himself it’s merely misunderstood. That’s his loss. *


Opens Fri/7 in Bay Area theaters



› superego@sfbg.com

SUPER EGO Gurl, my phones have been ringing themselves right out of my brand-new Safeway paper bag purse. The pink one, the silver one, the little lavender one I usually keep tucked in my Dita Von Teese fringed mesh teddy — they’re all off the hook, jingling like sequins in daylight. Bitches are chatty — scandal for the holidays, how novel — and you know I’d rather gag on Josh Groban or jack off to the L.L. Bean winter catalogue than keep the gossip from you.

Besides the dish that a certain local magazine is paying clubs to have its "personalities" staff the door at parties (drag queens as product placement — I love it) and the rumors flying around that many long-running weekly parties are shutting down (congratulations, Miss Trannyshack 2007 Pollo Del Mar!), there’s some serious nightlife shit going down. The "not in my backyard" whiners of our gloriously gentrifying city are squawking up a storm, and the San Francisco Police Department and the Board of Supes might actually be listening.

After-hours clubs and restaurants are feeling the heat (North Beach barhoppers may have to do without their postparty slices of pizza soon, and possibly any new bars as well), some up-and-coming neighborhoods may be zoned to exclude any nightlife or "adult" establishments, and I’m even hearing that new bars with liquor license transfers are being pressured to shout "Last call!" at midnight. Say quoi???

On top of all that, violence. Several bars have been brazenly robbed of late, and most clubs are rightly reminding their patrons to stay aware of their turbulent surroundings. Yet nothing can stop the dance floor love. Be careful out there, don’t mix up your mace and your mascara, and check out some great parties — before we’re all forced to boogie softly in our bedrooms.


Folks I know and trust have been living for Love It! Wednesdays at Icon Ultra Lounge lately. And given the DJ lineups that often include some of my new faves like No Battles, the dirtybird boys, and way-too-cute Tee Cardaci, I can hardly deny them their bliss. I’ll even be partaking gladly of it Dec. 5, when San Francisco’s very own tidal wave of techno, DJ Alland Byallo, washes over the dance floor to showcase his new label, Nightlight Music. Joining him will be Berlin-via-Detroit techno nomad (technomad?) Lee Curtis, whose live set of tweaky synths, sticky bass, and lo-fi disarray will surely rock the fuzzy Kangols off the crowd. Also glowing lively: a tag team live–versus-DJ set by Nightlight stablemates Jason Short and Clint Stewart. Brutal with the millimeter, kids.


Cumbia electro-hop? Ah si, it’s happening. And global-eared local DJs Disco Shawn and oro11, of the new label Bersa Discos, are bringing it straight up. "We both went down to Buenos Aires and discovered this crazy experimental cumbia scene," Disco Shawn recently MySpaced me. "Bedroom producers were mixing the classic Latin American sound with electro, hip-hop, dancehall…. We’re bringing this music to the other side of the equator, to unleash it on gringo nightlife." Feel the tap-tap-typhoon of the Bersa Discos boys’ awesome cumbiaton discoveries at their new monthly, Tormenta Tropical, Dec. 7 at Club Six, as well as other synced-up styles of electro Sudamericano, baile funk, and live spazzy hip-hop from the mind-blowing Official Tourist.


Surely one of the best video mashups in the cyberverse is "Tiefschwarz Is Burning" on YouTube, wherein some enterprising goofball laid UK electropop sweetness Chikinki’s "Assassinator 13 (Ruede Hegelstein Remix)" over scenes from Paris Is Burning. The hypnotic minimal techno tune, which turns out, oddly, to be the perfect soundtrack for voguing ’80s downtown queens — RIP Willie, Anji, Pepper, Venus — was taken from Teutonic duo Tiefschwarz’s Essential Mix for BBC’s Radio 1, and before this explanation gets any more complicated, just look it up and fall into a Yubehole about it, already. Better yet, check out Tiefschwarz live (they’re hot, they’re brothers — why not?), courtesy of Blasthaus at Mighty on Dec. 15. German techno soul isn’t, amazingly, oxymoronic.


Wed/5, 9 p.m.–2 a.m., $5

Icon Ultra Lounge

1192 Folsom, SF

(415) 626-4800




Fri/7, 9 p.m.–2 a.m., $5

Dark Room, Club Six

60 Sixth St., SF

(415) 861-1221




Dec. 15, 9 p.m.–2 a.m., $20


119 Utah, SF

(415) 762-0151



House of Prime Rib


› paulr@sfbg.com

Beef: it’s what’s for dinner at House of Prime Rib, and it’s pretty much all that’s for dinner. There is a lonely listing for a fish of the day in a far corner of the menu; you must ask about the details. But really, we have no cause to complain, since if ever a restaurant honored the WYSIWYG principle, that restaurant would be House of Prime Rib. If you expect braised halibut cheeks or a timale of roasted winter vegetables to be served to you at a restaurant whose very name proclaims meat, you are inattentive to some of life’s most basic clues, and we must fear for you.

HPR is probably the least grand of the city’s high-profile beef emporiums. Nearby Harris’ has a spare, high-ceilings-in-1948 elegance, while nearby (the other way) Ruth’s Chris is a haven of plush intimacy, as if it were part of a Neiman-Marcus store. Morton’s I haven’t been to, but the steak aficionado assured me that it costs about twice as much as HPR for an experience that isn’t drastically different.

The experience I was hoping to avoid was one of those immiserating episodes familiar to any holiday diner: cholesterol overload and soaring glycemic indexes. Beef is rich, and prime rib (marbled from feeding corn to the cattle) is the richest kind of beef you can have — and huge slabs of it, etcetera. Add to this the usual buttery accompaniments, and you soon picture your heavily intubated self departing on a gurney, pausing for a moment at the entryway while the valet pulls your ambulance around.

A departure by gurney might not attract all that much attention at HPR, since plying the dining room are carts that look like the sarcophagi of ancient Egyptian child-kings. Within these huge steel footballs are sides of roasted beef, and when the bell tolls for thee and thine, the cart rolls to your table and a crew starts slicing, putf8g, and distributing. The prudent will have settled on the city cut ($32.95, including all the fixin’s), a single slice of boneless meat, nicely pink and juicy, big but not massive. The more ambitious might go for the weightier House of Prime Rib cut ($34.95, and you can get it on the bone if you prefer) or the English cut ($34.95), a fan of scaloppinelike thin slices. Let us not speak of the Henry VIII cut ($37.65), other than to note that it bears the name of that fellow who had the heads chopped off of some of his more unsatisfactory wives.

By the time the meat juggernaut reaches you, you will have seen the better part of the dinner’s nonmeat componentry. There will have been a round loaf or two of warm, fragrant sourdough bread, presented with a serrated knife, like an ax in a tree stump, and a tub of good butter; there will have been the "salad bowl," a surprisingly tasty concert of iceberg lettuce, watercress, and slivers of roasted beet soaking luxuriously in French dressing.

The beef’s sidekicks include choice of potato (mashed or baked), choice of creamed vegetable (spinach or corn), a chunk of Yorkshire pudding (basically a popover or savory pastry), and an array of horseradishes in ramekins. These range from the straight stuff, which soon finds its fiery way up your nose, to leash-broken versions cut with mayonnaise or sour cream. The horseradishes are flavorful enough — and even, in one case, thrilling — but the beef does not need them. If ever you need reminding, in fact, why good beef is the chef’s best friend, an elegant food that barely needs salt and pepper and scarcely any cooking, then a visit to HPR is in order.

And if you happen to be in the company of small children who don’t like vegetables, then HPR’s vegetables will appeal. The mashed potatoes are buttery, while the baked potato is topped by a flourish of sour cream. The spinach and corn are as creamy as their names suggest. We did indeed see a number of tables featuring small children, none of whom seemed to be squalling or otherwise rejecting the food being set before them. They were under the spell of fat.

Is HPR a kiddie restaurant, then? No, though kiddies are welcome; so too are tourists from foreign lands (or people we took to be tourists, on data that included their slow, accented English and strange shoes), family groups of various ethnicities, and — that increasingly rare bird here — plain, middle-aged, middle-American folk, people for whom a nice dinner must include meat and potatoes in some recognizable form, in a handsome but not overwrought setting with the warmth of Grandmama’s dining room.

House of Prime Rib is, in this sense, one of the dwindling number of outposts of this city’s dwindling middle class. Youth and wealth — and our peculiar, much-celebrated amalgam of the two — congregate elsewhere. Beef, meanwhile, doesn’t command the audience of yesteryear; the food cognoscenti tend toward fish (for reasons of health and vanity) and often away from flesh altogether. Dinner, under the new regime, no longer must include a big slab of red meat and a blob of potatoes. In fact, it probably shouldn’t.

Still, we all have our cravings for those very foods from time to time, and for an old-time atmosphere to enjoy them in. House of Prime Rib’s pleasures might be atavistic, but they are real enough, even a form of time travel, back to an era when the youthful rich weren’t quite so much with us. 2


Dinner: Mon.–Thurs., 5:30–10 p.m.; Fri., 5–10 p.m.; Sat., 4:30–10 p.m.; Sun., 4–10 p.m.

1906 Van Ness, SF

(415) 885-4605



Full bar

Well-managed noise

Wheelchair accessible

Dirty girl


› le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS I washed the dishes. Put my clothes away. Emptied the compost. I let the fire go out and sat on top of the wood stove in my underwear. The phone rang: how was my weekend?

Let me think about it, I said. I said there was blood on my bed, every single thing smelled like smoke, my eyes burned, I hadn’t shat since Thursday, and my cat was lucky to be alive. Me too, but for a whole different reason. In short, it was my new favorite weekend ever, I said. Yours?

What reason?

Because I care. You said, "How was your weekend?" I say, "Fine, thank you, yours?"

No. I mean why are you lucky to be alive — compared to why the cat is.

Life is good, I said. We have fun, we make a mess, we clean it up, we listen to music. And the mess keeps creeping back in and we keep cleaning it up. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Yes I would, because eventually, I’m told, it wins. It dirties us.

Are you in love, or just weird?

Lost signal. What I was was dirty, so I took a bath. I thought about scrubbing the smoke damage off of my walls with a sponge. I thought about the look that cats get in their litter boxes, the glazed place that they go, at once so far away and yet never more at home.

We can get there too! Weed’s too easy. Try hot sauce. Try three years of almost nothing followed by three days of almost-nothing-but.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The Mountains hosted and I, the Woods, cooked. Our guests were Cities. Smoked turkey, sausage-and-cornbread-and-biscuit stuffing–stuffed red peppers, mustard greens, apple sauce, cranberry relish, cranberry sauce, and an apple pie.

Everything had meat in it. I had asked 10 times if any of the Cities were vegetarian, and the Mountains had said no (no no no no no no).

There was a vegetarian. For me, the novice cooker and enthusiast-at-large, all will and no clue, this was a dream come true. A last-minute vegetarian at my meatfest, like a drowning kid to a teenage lifeguard, and the boy she’s liked all summer is watching…. Splash!

I looked at Mookie, the Brick, my Chief Number One (and only) Assistant, who I was going to go home with but nobody knew that yet, and I smiled.

He looked neutral. Maybe he was tired of taking orders, chopping this, grating that … everything else was in the oven. And on the grill, chilling in the fridge, or simmering on back burners, waiting for the bell. This was supposed to be Miller Time, not a cross between Baywatch and Iron Chef.

Now the Mountains, as you know, are two of my favorite people ever, even though — or maybe partly because — neither one of them likes to cook. But they both love to eat, so I get to express my devotion, my gratitude, my love, my little sisterhood, my best-friendship, and my unwavering appetite with trays of homemade-noodled lasagna and huge pots of gumbo. If I wasn’t there, they would have had Stove-Top stuffing with their store-cooked turkey.

One of the guests brought Rice-A-Roni. I’m not a snob. While Mookie cored two more peppers, I got that going and scoured their refrigerator for doctorings (carrots, asparagus, a tomato, fake sausage links, and leftover chickpeas). We stuffed the peppers with the San Francisco treat, mixed with all of the above, and put them on the grill with the others. Main course: mushroom burgers. And I had not figured out a way to get bacon into the cranberry things, so he could have that too.

Well, the vegetarian looked about as happy as anyone else at the table. "Hey Mookie! He likes it!" But this was supposed to be a poem, and it had turned into bad television.

For almost all of November I’d been trying to write a song about being a dirty girl on the low road. Which wasn’t working, probably because I’m too fucking angelic. In the bathtub on Monday morning or whatever the hell it was, I gave up on writing the song and just started singing it.

The phone rang. From the tub I could hear the same cellular voice screaming into my answering machine: Who was he?

My new favorite restaurant is El Delfin, mostly for the guacamole. It has some interesting main dishes too, with a recurring natural disaster theme, like "Salmon Tornado" and "Volcan en Molcajete" — which is beef, sausage, cactus, onion, cheese, and red sauce, all a-sizzle. And not as good as it sounds.

Also not particularly cheap, most dishes at or over $10.

But the guac! … *


Wed.–Mon., 9 a.m.–9 p.m.

3066 24th St., SF

(415) 643-7955

Take-out available

Sleep tight


› andrea@altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea:

I am newly married and have a great, fulfilling sex life with my husband. A while ago, I told him that I’m really turned on by the thought of him rousing me out of sleep with sex. Months have passed since I told him my fantasy, and, thinking he just wasn’t interested, I recently asked him why he hadn’t tried it yet. His response was "I have, but every time I do, you mumble incoherent stuff and roll over." I’m really bummed that I don’t remember his advances, and even more bummed that my deep slumber is depriving me of potentially awesome sex! Is there anything I can do about this issue, or is this a fantasy that must remain only in the mind?



Dear Sleep:

I’m not sure if it’s my job to rate people’s fantasies, but hey, what the heck? Good fantasy. It just ever so gingerly starts to poke a toe into kinkier water: unconsciousness, inability to give consent, a little bit of the more wholesome sort of necrophilia — good stuff! — and yet it’s very sweet, very harmless, and very married. I give it a 9, and I’m sorry it’s been such a bust for you so far. Happily, though, you’ve hardly exhausted the possibilities. Give it here, and let’s see what we can do.

Your poor sweet husband is doing the equivalent of the would-be dom who, when the disappointed bottom complains, "You had me all tied up! You had a flogger! Why didn’t you whip me?" says, "Um, you said, ‘Please don’t!’<0x2009>" That’s why we have safe words: not so much so the top will stop as so he or she will start. The main problem, obviously, is that you have not worked out with your husband what you mean by rousing, nor have you determined just how awake you have to be in order to for him to continue his ministrations. If you’re going to push it toward my (admittedly, liberally editorialized) version above, then you hardly need be conscious at all. You’ve also apparently failed to give him explicit permission to wake you up. Which was sort of the point, wasn’t it? Your husband is simply being too considerate, and if he’s to take the role of the sort of brute who would rouse a lady from her slumbers just to satisfy his base lusts, he’d better get with the program: either he wakes you or he has his way with your somnolent self. Either way, he has to press the issue. He can’t just let you snore on! Talk about unclear on the concept. Apparently he needs express permission to pester you, so grant it and go to bed.

As I was answering this, something about it began to seem familiar, and after a while I realized I was remembering that long, deeply strange period in Alt.Sex.Column’s history (starting, I think, in 2004) when sleep sex and sleep rape simply would not go away and leave us alone. There was the guy who’d mounted his male partner in the latter’s sleep; there was the story of the woman who’d get in her car, drive to bars, and pick up strangers for sex, all in her sleep; and there was this guy who claimed he’d had accidental anal sex with his wife in her sleep and is still kind of freaking me out at several years later:

Since then I have done this again, with a growing sense of excitement. She will stir and wake up … so I always get out before she wakes. I want to do it when she’s awake but I don’t know how to tell her…. [February 2004]

He didn’t wait for my answer ("She will kill you!") before he confessed to her and then seemed a little surprised when she nearly killed him. And there was the molesting priest who had the boy sleep over repeatedly, got him drunk, took him out to bars and parties, and did who knows what to him under cover of night, then blamed it all on some sort of parasomnia. What I don’t think I ever followed up on, though, was whether those stories about sleep-driving, sleep-slutting around, and so on, were ever tied retroactively to use of Ambien and similar sleep drugs, which, it was revealed last year, can certainly have that sort of effect on the poor, hapless, really tired people who take them. If Ambien can (and it can, it can) cause people to wander down to the kitchen in the wee hours to stuff their faces, why couldn’t it make people stuff other things as well, all unawares?

None of which has anything to do with you, Nice Married Lady. You simply want to be roused by something, well, arousing. And you have every right to be, if you ask me.



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.

Canadian astronaut


› marke@sfbg.com

REVIEW Kids are bored. They’re hanging on the sidewalk outside a nightclub, splashed in sick amber light. Many of the usual suspects are here: the skinny postgoth chick in golden heels, the stereotypical Russian-looking muffin top trapped on a crappy date, the about-to-ralph dude in an untucked striped Oxford, some rasta hoppers, a hipster gal in rave flats and a trucker cap. Most are smoking and none look happy, except maybe the tranny-licious blond who’s about to skate the cover, glimpsed in the doorway flirting with the bouncers. She looks as fake as the rest of the scene.

I mean, what club is this? Yes, the breakdown of rigid nightlife subcultures has accelerated in recent years (no one can be only one thing in the Internet age) but these kids — part Marina, part Mission, part Oakland, part imaginary — would never traffic the same joint, let alone one that looks like a cheap storefront with Styrofoam gargoyles over the door, a tacky wrought-iron gate, and, oh yeah, a hilariously retro surveillance camera trained on them. Gross. Or paradise?

When I heard the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is displaying Vancouver-born photographer Jeff Wall’s gigantic In Front of a Nightclub (2006) as part of its retrospective of the artist’s three-decade career, my little ivory feet got tingly. Not just because I live in Clubland, but also because I trust Wall to get it right. Most club photographers have reeled back from Nan Goldin’s tear-jerking parties of grief in the ’80s to grease those spinning Warhol wheels again, dazzled by outsize personalities, druggy outfits, and pantomimed omnisexuality. But Wall’s a major artist with his own agenda, which looks so hard at the mundane, the normal, and the pointless that it often shoots right through into revelation. The humdrum apocalypse of a bad night out in a parallel universe fits perfectly. The picture is sensational.

This is a nice time for a Wall retrospective, mostly because his monumental intelligence — which ranges far beyond nightlife — provides a nifty alternative to both the tawdry macho "heroism" of the Matthew Barney–Damien Hirst–Jeff Koons art world establishment bonanzas and the current indie scene’s seemingly endless slide into infantilism and abnegation. No quilts made of dryer lint, deliberately embarrassing emotional outbursts, or snaps of naked skater chums for Wall. No scaling atria with Björk in tow either.

That doesn’t mean Wall lacks hipster cred: his first exhibited picture, 1978’s The Destroyed Room, provided the cover art and title for Sonic Youth’s 2007 collection of B-sides. But the Édouard Manet–like social commentary of Wall’s gorgeously staged scenes — a Cops-worthy outdoor argument in a run-down tract-home neighborhood, day laborers posed on a "cash corner" under flabbergasting winter skies, open-sore industrial operations in the pristine Canadian wilderness, an asshole mocking an Asian man while his girlfriend squints in the sun — and an eye that combines William Eggleston’s rough-and-tumble photographic haphazardness with the natty mannerism of ’70s photorealist painting seem revelatory, if a tad safe, in these times of numbed, numbing self-projection.

Trained in art history and drenched in way too much theory, the 60-year-old Wall works on a grand scale. His typical Cibachrome prints are several feet across, mounted on light boxes — an idea he ripped off from bus shelter advertising — and full of compositional winks at old masters and references to dense sociological notions. Much of this work heretically clings to the old-fangled notion of transcendence, that even the most mundane things, if examined closely enough, can send the metaphorical mind — the soul — soaring into space. Sure, he’s not above filling a grave in a Jewish cemetery with fluorescent pink sea urchins (Flooded Grave [1998–2000]), packing an entire basement ceiling with burned-out lightbulbs (After "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue [2001]), or reimagining a platoon of slaughtered Russian soldiers in Afghanistan chatting as their innards spill out (Dead Troops Talk [1992]). Those are the kinds of blockbuster photoconceptualist images that made him famous and provide instant shivers to first-time viewers.

The real metaphysics come in Wall’s luminescent details, when he’s in hyperreal mode. He’s like a Martian poet, glossing the earthly everyday with a cosmic eeriness. In Insomnia (1994), possibly the most tweaked-out photograph ever, an empty plastic bottle of dish soap, under flickering kitchen lights, resembles a beckoning angel. A tiny octopus flopped onto a kid’s school desk, in An Octopus (1990), somehow summons all the horror in the world. Filthy linoleum roils biblically under a discarded mop in Diagonal Composition No. 3 (2000). And in Sunken Area (1996), the white vinyl siding of a trashy house morphs into abstraction, its glowing lines swooning into the room. It made me dizzy, and I had to sit down. *


Through Jan. 27, 2008

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

151 Third St., SF
Mon.–Tues. and Fri.–Sun., 11 a.m.–5:45 p.m.; Thurs., 10 a.m.–8:45 p.m.; $7–<\d>$12.50 (free first Tues.)

(415) 357-4000

For rent sale


› news@sfbg.com

Luz Moran, 75, fingers through a shoebox full of certified envelopes from her landlord’s attorney, squinting at the English words. She’s sitting on a red couch in the living room of her modest Mission District apartment, her feet barely touching the floor.

"This is another check he sent me, look," she mutters in Spanish, pointing out two checks amounting to $3,752.85. The money was sent along with an Ellis Act eviction notice, the first half of the $7,500 in relocation benefits city law requires be given to elderly or disabled tenants who are removed through the state law (if the tenant is not elderly or disabled, the landlord only needs to provide them with $4,500).

"I don’t know what we will do. Other apartments are expensive, and we can’t afford them," Moran says. The money is barely enough to cover moving costs and the first month’s rent at another place, she says, adding, "I don’t think this landlord is dying because of lack of money."

The eviction was not her landlord’s first attempt to move Moran, along with her 92-year-old mother and her son, from their two-bedroom apartment. In May 2006 he offered to sell them the unit for a discounted rate of $310,000, which was out of the family’s price range. Then he suggested a buyout agreement so they would leave voluntarily, but said he couldn’t offer much more than the Ellis Act’s required compensation. After the initial attempt to subdivide the building and all other negotiations failed, the landlord finally issued the eviction. He now wants to sell the units as tenancy in common apartments. But the Morans — and some other tenants in the building — are refusing to cash his checks.

"Because if we accept the money, it says that we are willing to leave here," Moran says.

The word eviction brings back bad memories for many residents of San Francisco, where the number of people thrown out of their homes numbered 2,878 in 1999. Then, at the height of the dot-com era, long-term renters were booted to make room for higher-paying tenants and out-of-towners prepared to buy six-figure homes.

But Moran’s story highlights two new additions to the renter woes that fill the San Francisco Tenants Union these days: landlord buyouts and a surge in TIC homeownership. With San Francisco’s housing prices on a seemingly perpetual upswing, it’s no wonder TIC ownership has increased twelvefold in the past decade. In 1996, 55 TIC units were sold through the San Francisco Multiple Listing Service, and in 2006 that number rose to 650, according to Realtor groups.

At first glance, it looks as if this trend should answer the prayers of middle-class families while avoiding an increase in no-fault tenant evictions. The city’s total evictions have been going down since 2001, hovering around 1,500 since 2003. But over the past five years Ellis Act petitions have slowly picked up, then petered off again, according to Rent Board data. And Ted Gullicksen, office coordinator at the Tenants Union, says these numbers don’t take into account relocation as a result of unregistered buyouts and threats, which can often lead to TIC ownership.

Each weekday at the Tenants Union dozens of renters shuffle through the doors, plop into mismatched chairs, and wait for hours to spill their complaints and legal paperwork onto the desk of a volunteer counselor.

"We’re pretty busy here at the Tenants Union," Gullicksen says on a Friday afternoon during counseling hours. "It’s pretty close to what it was during the worst of the dot-com years."

Gullicksen reports an increase in the number of threats and buyouts of tenants in the past year. He attributes that to 2006 legislation passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors prohibiting the conversion of buildings after the eviction of elderly or disabled tenants or multiple units. By avoiding putting an Ellis Act or other no-fault eviction on the record, the landlord can eventually convert the building into a condominium because its history hasn’t been tainted.

A building with no eviction history goes for more on the MLS, according to Gullicksen, which explains why landlords are willing to pay up to $60,000 for a "voluntary" tenant relocation. The private landlord-tenant agreement may be lucrative to the individuals involved, but it results in an almost undetectable loss of an affordable rental unit.

Gullicksen says it’s impossible to determine how many tenants relocate due to buyouts on a citywide level, but about 60 people seek help with one at the Tenants Union every month. Most tell a similar tale: A developer or landlord will offer between $2,000 and $60,000 to tenants to voluntarily vacate. The tenant may ask for a higher sum, and they’ll negotiate back and forth. Eventually, the tenant may be either bought out or evicted.

"It’s a game of chicken, really," Gullicksen says.

The loss of rental units at the hands of TICs or buyouts is not a small matter in a city where two-thirds of residents are renters (on the national level only 34 percent of housing units were rentals in the year 2000), and there is already a shortage of affordable housing.

US Census data show that San Francisco lost 18,474 rental-occupied housing units between 2000 and 2006. And the city isn’t doing much to plug the drain. According to the Planning Department, 13,795 new units have been built and ready for occupancy since 2000, and approximately 12,600 of those are condominiums.

Although the terms "TIC" and "condo" are often used interchangeably, they’re legally different. TICs follow a shared-homeownership model involving one deed and multiple live-in shareholders. They aren’t registered or restricted by the city, whereas condominium conversions are capped at 200 a year. Most notable is the price differential: TICs go for about $200,000 less than a median-priced condominium in San Francisco, which currently runs at $783,000, according to the San Francisco Association of Realtors.

TIC owners typically buy in hoping to raise their property’s value by eventually converting their units to condos through the city’s lottery system. Proponents call TICs one of the city’s only affordable homeownership options. Critics call them a loophole in condo conversion restriction laws.

Radhi Ahern, managing partner and broker at the TIC Group, doesn’t apologize for buyouts to make room for TICs. She acknowledges that TICs are obtained through financial negotiations with tenants.

"It’s the tenant’s choice on whether they get a buyout or don’t take a buyout. And it’s sometimes very lucrative," Ahern says from her spacious Union Street office. "I can honestly say nobody’s given me $25,000 to $50,000 to move into a place…. It’s a win-win situation."

A number of recent changes have increased TICs’ popularity, Ahern says. At first they were financially risky — with multiple people on one mortgage, everyone is affected if one defaults. But in recent years banks have taken on more responsibility through individualized loans to TIC owners. Ahern adds that there are virtually no foreclosures on TICs.

"With the advent of fractional financing, we’re going to see more and more people adopting TICs, just like co-ops were adopted in NYC," Ahern says.

In a city where about 90 percent of residents can’t afford a median-priced home, TICs are lifesavers to people like Scott Ozawa. The recently divorced 31-year-old father of two toddlers makes six figures at a dot-com but says buying into a Western Addition TIC was the only way he could own the home he wanted in San Francisco. Evictions shouldn’t be blamed on TIC owners, he says, but on the city’s faulty housing system and lack of new development.

"The lower-income and the middle-income folks are all vying for the same resources," Ozawa says. "But middle-income folks have more options that are open to them."

Meanwhile, Moran and her family plan to stay in the rent-controlled apartment she has lived in for 35 years and might have to fight an unlawful-detainer order in court this month. She says she likes her place — the neighbors all know one another, she’s close to transit, and her apartment’s thick walls offer protection from earthquakes. The family pays only $507 per month, less than one-fifth the average rate for a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, according to the Tenants Union.

In September the Morans and other tenants at their apartment held a support rally outside their building, catering it with sandwiches and juice they prepared. Four elderly female tenants lined up on the front steps, taking turns speaking to the few dozen onlookers. Moran’s upstairs neighbor took out her oxygen tube to speak into a bullhorn. Moran stood beside her, later clapping along to a guitar-strumming activist singing, "Yuppie, yuppie stole my pad! Yuppie, yuppie, bad, bad, bad." As she smiled and mouthed the words in a language she doesn’t speak, a young couple wearing bandannas and carrying what looked like art supplies exited the building next door. They glanced toward the crowd with confused, down-turned brows but didn’t break their stride as they walked off the steps in the opposite direction.

Comcast’s secret war on file sharing


› annalee@techsploitation.com

TECHSPLOITATION For the past several months, Comcast has been covertly sending commands to your computer that tell it to stop receiving information — especially if that information is coming to you via BitTorrent, Gnutella, or other file-sharing applications. In May disgruntled Comcast users started posting on message boards about how BitTorrent and Gnutella weren’t working for them anymore. So researchers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, along with an AP investigative journalist, started running tests on the Comcast network, using software tools to examine what exactly Comcast was doing to BitTorrent.

What they found was disturbing. Without telling customers, Comcast had begun a secret program to send automatic reset commands to customers’ computers if they were using BitTorrent, Gnutella, or a few other programs. None of these programs are illegal. Moreover, Comcast had sold its services to customers without informing them that this popular Internet software wouldn’t work on its network. And Comcast is still doing it.

To make matters worse, the method the folks at Comcast are using to shut down file sharing is underhanded. They stop BitTorrent by injecting reset data packets into information streaming between two computers on the Comcast network. Then Comcast makes the reset packets appear to be from one of the computers using BitTorrent — not Comcast. So even if customers know to look for these reset packets, they’ll believe the problem comes from the computer they’re trying to share files with.

When the EFF and angry customers confronted Comcast about its sneaky system, the company claimed that it was merely "slowing down" certain programs. But as the EFF pointed out last week in a research paper on the topic, reset packets are designed only to shut down communication between two computers. If Comcast wanted to slow down BitTorrent, it could have used a common program called a traffic shaper, which can adjust data speeds.

Comcast spokesperson Charlie Douglas told the Guardian that "Comcast is delaying peer-to-peer applications but not blocking them." He added that there is "no other technical way to delay" these applications than the method the company has chosen.

Without further explanation from Comcast, one is left wondering why the company would engage in such outrageously anticonsumer behavior. One possibility is that it views BitTorrent as a competitor. BitTorrent has made deals with various Hollywood studios to distribute movies online, which is something Comcast cable does for television. So maybe Comcast is playing dirty so its customers will turn to cable TV for movies instead of getting them online via BitTorrent.

For people who don’t care about using BitTorrent, though, Comcast’s behavior is still a gesture of bad faith. The company is demonstrating quite plainly that it won’t hesitate to deny basic Internet services to its customers without warning, and without even acknowledging that it’s doing it. Today those services are for file sharing. But tomorrow they could be for sending e-mail that doesn’t use Comcast’s Web mail system.

I also think Comcast’s actions are a harbinger of what’s to come as Internet service providers get sucked into larger media companies with cable or content-making divisions. No laws guarantee network neutrality online, so Comcast is free to engage in network prejudice. The company can block any service it wants, especially if there’s a financial incentive. Certainly, consumers can choose to go with another Internet service provider, and I hope they do. But in the future, market competition may not be enough.

If Comcast blocks BitTorrent, then another company might welcome BitTorrent traffic but block my favorite game services. Internet service will become like cable TV, where getting the full range of channels is incredibly expensive. Except it will be worse, because the Internet is a far richer and more diverse place than cable TV. Selectively blocking the Internet is like selectively blocking expression itself.

Annalee Newitz is a surly media nerd who gets her movies on BitTorrent.

Housing reform, now


OPINION The Board of Supervisors is poised to vote on a crucial charter amendment to set aside more than $30 million per year for new housing. Since the mayor is talking about a huge budget crisis and a lot of people may complain that more funding for affordable housing will make the flow of red ink worse, it’s important to understand what this issue is all about.

While many of us are aware of the exodus of working-class people, most San Franciscans are unaware that the city is in the final stages of the largest rezoning effort of the past 50 years. The Eastern Neighborhoods plans will set new land-use rules for the Mission District, eastern SoMa, Potrero, the Central Waterfront, and parts of Bayview.

Those areas are going to be opened up to vast new developments, including as many as 20,000 new housing units and tens of thousands of square feet of new commercial development. I can think of no greater opportunity — nor any greater potential disaster — than the Eastern Neighborhoods rezoning effort.

Opening up the Eastern Neighborhoods for new housing without a commitment from the city to provide more resources for affordable units will guarantee that the new neighborhoods will exclude working-class residents and exacerbate the affordable-housing crisis in San Francisco for years to come.

In the Mission and many other districts, despite the cry for more affordable housing, the city has not prioritized housing for working-class San Franciscans. We hear a lot of talk from city hall, but in reality most of the new housing that gets built is far too expensive for most residents. This is a huge crisis — and the charter amendment will finally give affordable housing its rightful attention from the city.

We can’t accept a plan that relies only on the market to produce and fund some affordable housing. We’ve seen what that means: for more than seven years, while the community has waited for the Eastern Neighborhoods plans to be completed, housing for the wealthy has been built and housing for everyone else has been an afterthought. The Board of Supervisors has set an ambitious goal — 60 percent of all new housing should be below market rate — but the Planning Department and the Mayor’s Office of Housing have failed to produce a comprehensive strategy to meet that target.

So despite the budget crisis, the timing of the Affordable Housing Charter Amendment could not be any better. A measure that designates a significant amount of money every year for housing for working-class San Franciscans can finally bring accountability and a commitment from the city to build and retain affordable housing and plan for inclusive new neighborhoods.

We can’t sit idly by while the disparities widen between rich and poor, whites and people of color — or we will wake up 15 years from now and see the result, the continued exodus of working-class families and other lower-income communities. San Francisco is the only city I know of whose Latino population is stagnant and whose African American population is declining. The time to act is now. The Board of Supervisors should approve the Affordable Housing Charter Amendment, making it one of the key issues in 2008 for San Franciscan progressives.

Eric Quezada

Eric Quezada is the executive director of Dolores Street Community Services and a candidate for District 9 supervisor.

Some hope for the UC site


EDITORIAL State senator Carole Migden has stepped into the battle over a 440-unit housing development on the old University of California Extension site, and that creates some promise that the project can be taken off the fast track. State intervention may be critical; the university, which has a record of ignoring local land-use policies, wants developer A.F. Evans to get the project moving forward by the end of 2007, which has driven the San Francisco Planning Commission to schedule a Dec. 20 decision on the project’s environmental impact report. Migden, who isn’t afraid to play hardball, is contacting university officials to let them know she wants the EIR and the project approval delayed until city officials can negotiate a better deal for affordable housing.

Meanwhile, Sup. Ross Mirkarimi is demanding that the developer double the amount of below-market housing.

Mirkarimi and Migden are absolutely right here: the project site is public land that’s being turned over to a private developer for private use — and the city could be getting a much better deal. Evans is offering to set aside just 20 percent of the units for people who aren’t rich — and that’s nowhere near enough to justify turning over public land. Part of the fault lies with the UC, which wants Evans to pay a stiff fee for the use of the land; that’s something Migden ought to press university officials to reconsider.

In the meantime, the Planning Commission should take the EIR off the December calendar and give everyone involved some more time to negotiate.

Editor’s Notes


› tredmond@sfbg.com

OK: a 26-year-old German exchange student was stabbed in the Outer Sunset two weeks ago by a man who appeared to be homeless. It was a terrible incident, an awful crime; we’ll all stipulate that. And although C.W. Nevius, the San Francisco Chronicle columnist, splashed it all over the front page of the Sunday paper Dec. 2, it really shouldn’t have anything to do with how the city sets homeless policy.

But it’s got me thinking.

Nevius is apparently shocked that there’s been a sudden increase in the number of homeless people living in the Sunset. I could have told him and the mayor and the police department a month ago that this was going to happen.

See, thanks to a series of Nevius columns about homeless encampments in Golden Gate Park, Mayor Gavin Newsom got election-year tough this fall and created special teams to go into the park and roust the residents. The mayor, of course, said that all he wanted was to get people into shelters, to get them treatment, to provide them the support that he insists his administration is delivering.

But the fact is, there aren’t enough decent places for all of these people to live. Some day, I still believe, the people in San Francisco (and the people who run the country and the state) will come to their senses and realize that it’s entirely possible to end urban poverty, but that it will take big chunks of money, multiple billions of dollars, and that the wealthy people who like to complain about the folks on the streets will have to pay higher taxes to make it happen. We live in a rich city and a rich country; we can afford to build housing and create jobs and fund welfare programs. We just don’t want to — because we’re Americans and we’ve been told for a couple of generations now that we don’t have to sacrifice for social progress.

In the meantime, no law-enforcement crackdown or Care Not Cash program or shelter system is going to end homelessness in San Francisco. There are going to be people living on the streets because they can’t afford to pay rent on even a nasty single room and they don’t want to deal with the rules and structure of the shelter system.

And I have to wonder:

Weren’t we all better off when we let them sleep in the park?

I know that’s not a terribly satisfying approach to public policy; I know there were and are problems (dirty needles, human waste, befouling of valuable and rare public space) associated with the camps. I know that in theory nobody should be camping in Golden Gate Park; as one city resident reminded me at a neighborhood forum not long ago, the park isn’t a wilderness — it’s a garden.

But nobody should be sleeping in doorways or on sidewalks or in makeshift shelters in industrial areas either. I refer you to paragraph five above.

I ask you (and Newsom and Nevius): where are these people supposed to sleep? No, the park isn’t a home, but a camp hidden in a rarely used corner is more of a home than a bed in a nasty, crowded shelter where you have no rights at all, not even the right to come and go when you want. I know where I’d rather sleep.

Maybe, in the spirit of harm reduction, we should just leave the park campers alone.