Volume 42 Number 48

Curtain calls


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Fall arts resolution No. 1: have no faith in leaders. Obummer and McPain will only disappoint, or worse. (Probably worse.) If faith you must ooze, kindly direct it toward people who really care about you and have your interests at heart. Why did Gore Vidal write his play The Best Man (1960), for instance? Most likely it wasn’t to get elected (though he did try). And Frank Wedekind was even less enamored of the powers that be when he penned his way-pre-punk "tragedy of childhood," Spring Awakening, a late 19th-century cri de coeur against authority whose transition to Broadway and electric guitars has both an aptness and an irony going for it that might have amused old FW. As Tom Stoppard confirms, power is a compromised and compromising affair whatever side of history you happen to be on, but rock ‘n’ roll will save your soul. So will Teddy Pendergrass, for that matter, as soul-survivor and kinetic Philly memoirist Colman Domingo brilliantly attests. So this fall, remember who your real friends are. You can direct any remaining or follow-up questions to author-playwright Kobo Abe, as well as the other miscellaneous sage nonconformists referenced in the list below.

The Best Man A Broadway hit for Gore Vidal, this political comedy-drama remains fresh as a daisy, if such a sweet olfactory simile can apply to the mosh pit of electoral politics.

Now playing through Sept. 28. Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk. (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org

San Francisco Fringe Festival The mighty Exit Theatre turned 25 this year. The SF Fringe Festival, the annual small-theater smorgasbord the Exit serves up each fall, turns a sexy 17. Judging by this year’s lineup, that means stripped-down, butt-plugged, bare-bones, rock-hard, strap-on sexy.

Sept. 3–14. Various venues, including the Exit Theatres, 156 Eddy, SF. www.sffringe.org

A Boy and His Soul (Thick House) and A Bronx Tale (Golden Gate Theatre) If only it were a double bill. These two solo plays about growing up (in Philadelphia and the titular Bronx) take place on radically different Bay Area stages, and deal with radically different stages in the lives of what you might call radically different actors (Coleman Domingo and Chazz Palminteri, respectively). Both are masterful, and as long as you’re at it, throw in Carlo D’Amore’s own deft and hilarious family-centered solo, No Parole, coming to the Marsh in November (www.themarsh.org).

Sept. 3–14. Thick House, 1695 18th St., SF. www.thickhouse.org

Sept. 23–Oct. 19. Golden Gate Theatre, One Taylor, SF. www.shnsf.com

Spring Awakening Best of Broadway brings to town this rock musical makeover of Wedekind’s great drama.

Sept. 4–Oct. 12. Curran Theatre, 445 Geary, SF. www.shnsf.com

Rock ‘N’ Roll Here comes Tom Stoppard’s character-concentrated take on Prague Spring and the Velvet Revolution, as well as on leftist politics across several decades of Cold War history. It’s a good play to argue about afterward, in your highest pinko dudgeon, over pinot and tartare de boeuf at the Grand Cafe.

Sept. 11–Oct. 12. American Conservatory Theatre, 415 Geary, SF. (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org

HyperReal Bay Area performance artist Sara Kraft’s low-key brilliance by now merits a neologism: krafty (with a k!). Krafty = shrewd, inventive, technically savvy, wry, playful, tuneful, eerie, unsettling, and, generally speaking, not to be missed.

Oct. 10–12. CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF. 1-800-838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com/event/36251

War Peace: The One Drop Rule Living Word Festival 2008, titled "Race Is Fiction," features a new collaborative work by Youth Speaks alumni and Teen Poetry Slam champions Chinaka Hodge, Rafael Casal, Daveed Diggs, and Nico Cary. Directed by festival curator Marc Bamuthi Joseph, War Peace imagines a drought-ravaged Bay Area as potential war zone.

Oct. 23–24. Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, SF. www.youthspeaks.org

Angry Black White Boy Felonious’ Dan Wolf and Tommy Shepherd unveil a poetical rap-fused remix of Adam Mansbach’s satirical and incendiary novel about race and identity in the United States, adapted by Wolf.

Oct. 23–Nov. 16. Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia, SF. www.theintersection.org

Continuous City Last year’s work-in-progress is this year’s full-fledged multimedia outing as New York City–based boundary pushers, the Builders Association, returns with a three-pronged narrative (incorporating much Bay Area–derived material) negotiating the ever-more permeable membrane between the global and the local, and our networked and unplugged experience.

Nov. 6–8. Novellus Theater at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 700 Howard, SF. (415) 978-2787, www.ybca.org

Friends Brava! For Women in the Arts’ new artistic director Raelle Myrick-Hodges carries forward the spirit of its founding mission with offerings eclectic and unexpected. The revival of Woman in the Dunes author Kobo Abe’s play Friends promises to be a timely and potent production, though Abe penned his scathing absurdist take on gentrification some four decades ago.

Nov. 6–17. Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St., SF. (415) 647-2822, www.brava.org

Diverse moments


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The sheer quantity of advance notices piling up over the summer could overwhelm even a committed dance observer. But then come the aha! moments where you grab your pencil to fill in one more slot on the calendar. The Bay Area is still an exceptional place to watch dance, whether you do it at the prestigious Zellerbach Hall or the Mission District’s humbler CounterPULSE. By including four local choreographers who have risen to the forefront in recent years, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’s Bay Area Now 5 (BAN5) series just may be the most noteworthy shows of the fall season. The works of the Erika Shuch Performance Project (After All, Part 1, Sept. 12–14), Robert Moses’ Kin (Toward September, Sept. 18–20), Dohee Lee (Flux, Oct. 16–18), and Keith Hennessy (Delinquent, Nov. 13–15) couldn’t be more different from one another. So these world premieres, supported and — at least partially — commissioned by the YBCA, are a vote of confidence in the health of local dance (check www.ybca.org for performance details). Read on for more notable dance dates.

Courage Group When longtime dancer and arts activist Todd Courage started his own company some six years ago, his work immediately stood for the breadth of its references and its theatrical savvy. Pinpoint, an evening of three world premieres, is his most ambitious endeavor yet.

Sept. 11–13, Project Artaud Theater, 450 Florida, SF. (415) 863-9834, www.odctheater.org

Shawl-Anderson 50th Anniversary Gala With dancers flying in from across the nation, this event is a huge celebration of the lives and works of Frank Shawl and Victor Anderson, who have run Shawl-Anderson Modern Dance Center — the Bay Area’s oldest dance studio — for the past five decades. The gala is preceded by two performance salons Sept. 19.

Sept. 20, St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College, Berk.; www.shawl-anderson.org

Keyhole Dances Erin Mei-Stuart is a smart, witty, idiosyncratic choreographer. For this series of matinee performances, she takes her EmSpace ensemble to the third floor of a Victorian flat in the Fillmore neighborhood. Buy a ticket and find out location details.

Sept. 20–28. private home, SF. www.emspacedance.org/keyhole

Mark Morris Dance Group Romeo and Juliet without a balcony scene, but with a happy ending? If anyone can bring this off, MM can. His Romeo and Juliet, On Motifs of Shakespeare, is based on the old standby’s recently discovered original libretto and score, and is said to reflect Prokofiev’s initial vision for the piece.

Sept. 25–28. Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft at Telegraph, UC Berkeley, Berk. (510) 642-9988, www.calperformances.org

Chitresh Das Chitresh Das has managed to popularize Kathak, one of India’s most rhythmic dance forms. For these performances, Das and his musicians will challenge each other to ever-greater heights. It’s dance in which improvisation and structure go hand in hand.

Sept. 27–28. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 978-2787, www.kathak.org

Nâ Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu Patrick Makuakane is master showman but also a deeply serious practitioner and student of hula. He has gorgeous dancers, and the "Hula Show 2008" promises to be spectacular, witty, and fun. Includes a family show on Sunday.

Oct. 11–19. Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon, SF. www.cityboxoffice.com

Kirov Ballet A superb company (and orchestra) — but why such a conservative repertory for an ensemble that these days performs George Balanchine and William Forsythe in addition to the story ballets?

Oct. 14–19. Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft at Telegraph, UC Berkeley, Berk. (510) 642-9988, www.calperformances.org

Merce Cunningham Dance Company This four-program series is superb overview of half a century of dancemaking by a giant of an artist. The Nov. 7 performance includes colloquia and a conversation with Cunningham.

Nov. 7–15. Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft at Telegraph, UC Berkeley, Berk. (510) 642-9988, www.calperformances.org

Axis Dance Company Over the years Axis has redefined long-cherished ideas about who can and who cannot dance. They are true revolutionaries. This 20th anniversary concert includes works by Sonya Delwaide, Joe Goode, Alex Ketley, and Kate Weare.

Nov. 14–16. Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice, Oakl. www.axisdance.org

Diablo Ballet With "An Evening on Broadway," featuring the work of George Balanchine, Lynn Taylor Corbett, and Christopher Stowell, Diablo takes a very welcome step away from in-house choreography.

Nov. 21–22. Dean Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic, Walnut Creek. www.diabloballet.org

Forecast: blackout


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Midtempo is the new uptempo, FGGT is the new AZN, and I just adore your hot ass plumping through that tight pair of Evisu No. 13 Lazy S Lefts, no homo — which is the old yay homo. Other topsy-turvy pre-fall clubland updates: drag goes glitch, DJs quit dressing like twins, and everyone drops their Marvel masks and flocks to the last great summer blockbuster, Final Destination: Kanye Glasses.

That smell you hear ahead is the slow-burn return of PLUR. Best new shriek from the stalls: "Whose line is it anyway?!" Five fantasy dance-floor jams: Rondenion’s drrrty D-house groove, "The Beautiful Memory," laidback dip-step to heaven "Stellar Way" by Acos Coolkas, Shy Child’s hyperactive meta-smackdown, "Astronaut," any remix by and of Flying Lotus, and deliriously simple rave-hop looper "Slave 1" from Mark E. (no relation). Relapses don’t count if they’re properly scheduled. You’ll be so over Cazwell’s "I Saw Beyoncé at Burger King" by the time you read this.

What else do you need to know? Oh, the below:

Ellen Allien If you missed the Berlin DJ queen of full-on old-school techno vibe’s triumphal appearance earlier this year at Mighty, complete with Fantastic Planet projections and water bottles squirted over the mushroom-shuffling crowd, you punched yourself in the blunder pants. Do not do this again. It hurts. With multigenre cut-ups Modeselektor, fresh from starring in your Burner headphones.

Sept. 5. Mighty, 119 Utah, SF. (415) 626-7001, www.mighty119.com

BLOWOFF If this fall you choose to go to one giant party full of shirtless, hairy, gay musclemen (and straight friends!) put on by an alternative music superstar — no, not Perry Farrell — let Blowoff be it. Why? It’s not your normal circuit-lousy-techno mess: rock and electro are there in the mix, as Bob Mould, formerly of Hüsker Dü and Sugar, and cheeky producer Richard Morel bring their enormously successful traveling to-do to Slim’s, of all places. Weird, but true.

Sept. 6. 10 p.m., $12. Slim’s, 333 11th St., (415) 255-0333, www.myspace.com/blowoffevents

Digitalism No more rock, no more techno, only electro — I love that T-shirt! Gimme three in puce, and turn up Digitalism, the laptop-heroic duo of Hamburgers who in any other era but our electro-dominated own would be filed under "New Orderish" but, happily, give us kids DJ sets to die for, including chiming guitar lines, naff Brit-accented vocal lines, and enough buzz in the speakers to rise above contemporary genre bed-death. They perform with glammy stompers Midnight Juggernaut and kooky the Juan Maclean.

Sept. 12. 103 Harriet, SF. www.blasthaus.com

Black Market Techno A secret: the Black Market techno parties, every third Saturday at Oasis in Oakland, are one of the cutest all-around joints going right now for aurally adventurous fanboys and fangirls. I hope they’re legal, or I just fucked it up. September’s installment is superstacked with all-day and all-night edgy DJ delights, including Rich Korach of Detroit’s Paxahau club, Craig Kuna of local banging monthly Kontrol, and EO of Mouth to Mouth recordings. Yes, it is also free, so get on the damn BART already.

Sept. 19. Oasis, 135 12th St., Oakl. (510) 763-0404, www.myspace.com/blackmarkettechno

Ron Carroll Geez, I miss house. There are so many places in the city right now to jerk around ironically, wig out dub-steppingly, or punch the air like an American Apparel hesher. Yet the list of smooth-groove, soul-drenched dance-floor opportunities is thinner than, well, an American Apparel hesher. So is it true that Chicago legend Ron Carroll has somehow been convinced to do a residency at Temple? Could the man behind a wealth of ’90s orchestral house hits be at the vanguard of an SF house regeneration? Whether he’ll be a regular or not, his turntable domination on Sept. 13 promises to be a sweet revival meeting for househeds and fans of golden tunes.

Sept. 13. Temple, 540 Howard, SF. www.templesf.com

Dirty Bird Lovefest Pre-Party The enormous and consistently lovely Lovefest (Oct. 4) is no longer the same weekend as the Folsom Street Fair (Sept. 28) — farewell, gorgeous sight of hirsute leathermen in bunny ears! — and this year it’s really pumping its kind-of yawny Dutch trance headliner, Armin Van Buuren. But it’s still a primo time for our local lights to shine. If you can’t wait for the endearingly handmade floats to parade your favorite Bay beatmakers down Market Street, why not let your freak feathers fly early with SF’s current reigning dance label kings, minimal-goofy Dirty Bird Records, including Claude Von Stroke, Justin Martin, Worthy, and the aptly named Hookerz and Blow.

Oct. 3. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. (415) 625-8880, www.mezzaninesf.com

Frisco Freakout Can we catch a break from all the gadgets, please — the Ableton–whatnots and Pro Tools paraphernalia? Fab. The all-ages psychedelic rock dance party Frisco Freakout is a whole day’s worth of swirl and twirl at the city’s "premiere dive venue" (their words, not mine), Thee Parkside. Unpack your wavy caftan, tie-dye your Converses, and jack the tab with a zillion chiming howlers like the Bad Trips, Wooden Shjips, Crystal Antlers, Earthless, and Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound.

Oct. 11. Parkside, 1600 17th St., SF. (415) 252-1330, www.myspace.com/friscofreakout

>>More Fall Arts Preview

‘Daughter’ goes to the opera


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The most successful Asian American novelist of her generation, Amy Tan tests her penmanship as an opera librettist this fall, when the San Francisco Opera presents the world premiere of The Bonesetter’s Daughter, the operatic adaptation of the Oakland native’s 2001 Putnam bestseller with a score composed by Stewart Wallace.

While holding the utmost respect for the polish and clarity of Tan’s voice as a novelist, I have always been a bit skeptical of her writings. These often read suspiciously close to the admonitions and remembrances of parents and elder Chinese relatives, repackaged with great skill for maximum melodramatic impact. Most Chinese children raised by parents who survived the Sino-Japanese wars and the Cultural Revolution will tell you that they are keenly familiar with the gestalt of these tales — carrying unspeakable tragedy and suffering — which the aforementioned aged deploy with a numbing frequency as a tool to awe, preach to, strike fear in, and taunt offspring.

Still, Tan is decidedly correct when she points out that, melodramatic or not, the unarticulated truth of these stories is intensely evident in the endemic presence of depression and the dysfunctional intergenerational relationships that afflict the transplanted expatriate Chinese community of the war generation. "There are lots of tragedies in people’s lives," observes the Sausalito resident by phone from New York City. "Especially in [those of] people who decided to leave their country behind."

Local audiences have been exposed to Wallace’s music — most notably when his opera, Harvey Milk, premiered locally with the SF Opera in 1996 — but for Tan, The Bonesetter’s Daughter commission provided her with an in-depth exposure to the creative process of an entirely new medium. "When I was asked to do this opera, I was happy to turn over the story," Tan says. "I wasn’t thinking that I would be committing myself to doing a libretto."

Initially intimidated by the technical aspects, she soon found herself immersed in the process. "It’s a very free form, as a matter of fact," she explains. "It wasn’t about cutting back the novel, but rather to find the heart of the story and recreate it all over again."

At its core, The Bonesetter’s Daughter is the story of three generations of Chinese women whose secrets and unspoken traumas are carried forth between grandmothers, mothers, and daughters. In preparation for the work, Wallace and Tan traveled together to remote villages in China, attending religious ceremonies, and collecting inspiration in traditional folk music and rituals.

As a result, Wallace created a score — which will be conducted by Steven Sloane and performed by Zheng Cao, Ning Liang, Qian Yi, Hao Jiang Tian, Wu Tong, James Maddalena, and Catherine Cook — that is at times percussive and at other moments hauntingly lyrical, according to Tan. It also includes music written for the suona, a high-pitched, reedy Chinese oboe, as well as some fire-breathing drama. "We will see acrobatics," she adds. "In the beginning prologue there will be dragons: a water dragon and a fire dragon. I am a water dragon, and my mother is a fire dragon, and together we make steam." Far from the typical Chinatown parade dragons, "these will be beautiful, flying dragons made of light paper," she says, "and inside are these flying acrobats."

With martial arts and acrobatic elements integrated into the staging by director Chen Shi-Zheng, will Bonesetter carry close resemblance to a Chinese opera? "Not at all," Tan said. "There are parts of my life, which are based in China, that have been transformed into my American life. Stewart’s music includes, in the same way, those references. But they are part of Stewart’s voice now — and he has a very strong voice."


Sept. 13–Oct. 2, various times, $15–$290

War Memorial Opera House

301 Van Ness, SF

(415) 864-3330, www.sfopera.com



Like Madonna, the Labeque sisters are past 50 now, and showing remarkable artistic longevity and re-invention. The virtuoso French pianists offer a rare performance of Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos at the San Francisco Symphony’s season opener. Sept. 4–7. (415) 864-6000, www.sfsymphony.org


Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra opens its fall program with a gem of French baroque, Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Pygmalion. Paired on the program will be the Thomas Arne’s Comus, based on a masque by John Milton. Sept. 13–20. (415) 392-4400, www.philharmoniabaroque.org


Overachiever Bayrakdarian has an engineering degree and speaks five languages, yet it is in singing that this freakishly talented young Canadian shines most brightly. The soprano perform works by Bartók, Ravel, Gideon Klein, Nikolaos Skalkottas, and Gomidas Vartabed. Oct. 4. (415) 392-2545, www.performances.org


Saxophone virtuoso Branford Marsalis’ love affair with Brazilian music shows no signs of waning. Here he forges a vibrant musical dialogue across the Americas, joined by members of Gil Jardim’s Philarmonia Brasileira to perform works by Villa-Lobos, Stravinsky, Bach, and Milhaud. Oct. 5. (650) 725-ARTS (2787), livelyarts.stanford.edu.


The Bay Area early music ensemble Musica Pacifica recreates a typical concert by coal-seller Thomas Britton, who presented the world’s first known public concert series in London around 1678. Oct. 31. (510) 528-1725, www.sfems.org

>>More Fall Arts Preview

Stage names


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Estelle The British soul femme gets a chance to sing to the subjects of “American Boy.” Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. (415) 771-1421, www.theindependentsf.com

SEPT. 8–9

Built to Spill Pulling off Perfect from Now On (Warner Bros., 1997) from start to finish. Slim’s, 333 11th St., SF. (415) 522-0333, www.slims-sf.com

SEPT. 10

Robert Forster Two years on from Grant McLennan’s unexpected death, the dandified half of the Go-Betweens’ now-fabled songwriting duo returns to the stage with an album that includes three songs cowritten with his old bandmate. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF. (415) 885-0750, www.musichallsf.com

SEPT. 19–20

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Mellow with age? No way, say the Grinderman and crew. Warfield, 982 Market, SF. (415) 421-8497, www.ticketmaster.com

SEPT. 19

Al Green and Gladys Knight The Reverend is riding high on the acclaim for his latest recording, Lay It Down (Blue Knight), while Aaliyah’s aunt has kept her voice healthy and powerful in a manner that certain other divas must envy. Sleep Train Pavilion, 2000 Kirker Pass Rd., Concord. Also Oct. 7, Mountain Winery, 14831 Pierce, Saratoga. (415) 421-8497, www.livenation.com

SEPT. 19

My Morning Jacket Southern men channel their Evil Urges (Ato). Greek Theatre, UC Berkeley, Berk. (510) 809-0100, www.anotherplanetent.com

SEPT. 20

Herbie Hancock Loved the fusion maestro’s bon mot to Joni Mitchell. Nob Hill Masonic Center, SF. (415) 421-8497, www.livenation.com

This Land Is Your Land Songsmiths and word slingers Sheryl Crow, Cat Power, Henry Rollins, Mike Ness, and Son Volt pay homage to John Steinbeck, who’s been dubbed “the Woody Guthrie of American authors,” and Woody Guthrie, who has been described as “the soundtrack to Steinbeck.” Guthrie’s granddaughter Sarah Lee and husband (and Steinbeck nephew) Johnny Irion round out the bill of this event — a portion of the proceeds go to the Steinbeck and Guthrie family foundations. Sleep Train Pavilion, 2000 Kirker Pass Rd., Concord. (415) 421-8497, www.livenation.com

SEPT. 20–21

Treasure Island Musical Festival Stunning views, equally awesome sounds — who could ask for anything more? Try a full day of dance beats (Justice, TV on the Radio, Goldfrapp, Hot Chip, et al.) followed by another of all-out indie rock (the Raconteurs, Tegan and Sara, Vampire Weekend, and the gang). Treasure Island, SF. www.treasureislandfestival.com

SEPT. 22–24

Spoon Can’t get enough of Britt Daniel and company? Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. (415) 421-8497, www.livenation.com

SEPT. 24

Journey, Heart, and Cheap Trick Feathered-hair flashbacks in full effect. Sleep Train Pavilion, 2000 Kirker Pass Rd., Concord. Also Sept. 27, Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View. (415) 421-8497, www.livenation.com. Also Oct. 7, Mountain Winery, 14831 Pierce, Saratoga. (415) 421-8497, www.livenation.com

SEPT. 25

Silver Jews With a likely gentle assist from Why?’s Yoni Wolf, David Berman flashes his sterling songwriting once more. Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. (415) 421-8497, www.livenation.com

SEPT. 26–27

Mission of Burma The Boston life-changers play 1982 post-punk classic Vs. (Ace of Hearts/Matador, 1982) in its entirety. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. (415) 771-1422, www.theindependentsf.com

Rancid Up from Gilman and back on the ginormous Warfield stage, alongside the Adolescents and the Aquabats! Warfield, 982 Market, SF. (415) 421-8497, www.ticketmaster.com

SEPT. 26–28

San Francisco Blues Festival The 36th annual throwdown kicks off with a blues film series at the Roxie Theater and continues at the Great Meadow with Hot Tuna, the Delta Groove All Star Blues Revue, Johnny Winter, and Gospel Hummingbirds. Various locations. www.sfblues.com

SEPT. 28

Beach House Baltimore’s Alex Scully and Victoria Legrand — the niece of Michel — rewards the devotion of listeners who’ve discovered that the endlessly resplendent Devotion (Carpark) is a contender for album of the year. Swedish American Hall, 2174 Market, SF. (415) 861-5016, www.swedishamericanhall.com

Earth, Wind & Fire, Angie Stone, and Michael McDonald A slab of ’70s soul fantasy, a little stab at post–Celebrity Fit Club redemption, and a whole lotta distinctive yacht-rock vocalization, all under one roof. HP Pavilion, 525 W. Santa Clara, San Jose. (415) 421-8497, www.hppsj.com

SEPT. 30

My Bloody Valentine The moment has finally arrived for MBV fans. Will they stretch the distorted bridge of “You Made Me Realize” into infinity? Here’s hoping the answer is yes. Concourse, 620 Seventh St., SF. (415) 421-8497, www.livenation.com

OCT. 3–5

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 8 Dang, bluegrass, country, and roots fans are in for one of the most diverse lineups yet: Earl Scruggs, Emmylou Harris, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss with T Bone Burnett, Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, Hazel Dickens, the Gourds, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Tift Merritt, and Greg Brown mix it up with Gogol Bordello, Odetta, Elvis Costello, Iron and Wine, Richard Thompson, the Jayhawks’ Mark Olson and Gary Louris, Heavy Trash, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, and MC Hammer. A free downhome massive in every sense. Golden Gate Park, SF. www.strictlybluegrass.com

OCT. 3–NOV. 9

San Francisco Jazz Festival Lovers of singing can go straight to the source: the indomitable Jimmy Scott. Lovers of song can sit by the piano of one of the American songbook’s best-known authors: Randy Newman. Lovers of soul can pick up their prescriptions when Dr. Lonnie Smith leads a groove summit. Lovers of revolution can break free from election propaganda with the Brecht-tinged jazz of Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra. And lovers of the late Alice Coltrane can pay respects to the music of her son and bandmate Ravi. Various venues, SF. 1-866-920-JAZZ, www.sfjazz.org

OCT. 3

Sigur Rós All hail the Icelandic etherealists. Greek Theatre, UC Berkeley, Berk. (510) 809-0100, www.anotherplanetent.com

OCT. 4

Lovefest The dance music massive and procession is a-twirl with beatmakers à la Armin Van Buuren, Above and Beyond, Kyau and Albert, Deep Voices, Colette, Hil Huerta, and Green Velvet. Various locales, SF. www.sflovefest.org

OCT. 5

Cut Copy The spirit of ELO is a living thing that chugs through the stadium disco of these DFA-affiliated Aussies, and the swoon of OMD isn’t too far away. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. (415) 625-8880, www.mezzaninesf.com

OCT. 11–12

Santana The pater familias teams with his scion’s Salvador Santana Band. Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, and Sleep Train Pavilion, 2000 Kirker Pass Road, Concord. (415) 421-8497, www.livenation.com

OCT. 13

The Black Kids The Wizards of Ahhhs initiate the Virgins. Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. (415) 421-8497, www.livenation.com

OCT. 14–15

Brightblack Morning Light For those about to rock in a manner that makes Spiritualized seem like meth heads, we salute you. Café Du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. (415) 861-5016, www.cafedunord.com

OCT. 18

Mary J. Blige Mary, Mary, quite contrary to … smoothie opener Robin Thicke. Sleep Train Pavilion, 2000 Kirker Pass Road, Concord. (415) 421-8497, www.livenation.com

OCT. 23–26

Budget Rock Seven Magnifico garage-rock from folks who mean it — and love it. Don’t you dare miss Mummies’ Russell Quan’s 50th birthday with Hypstrz and the Rantouls; Ray Loney and the Phantom Movers with Apache; Hank IV with the Lamps and Bare Wires; and Thee Makeout Party with the Pets. Stork Club, 2330 Telegraph, Oakl. www.storkcluboakland.com.

OCT. 27–28

Girl Talk Master of megamix mayhem Gregg Gillis returns to SF, albeit without the pay-what-you-like system offered to those who purchase his latest album. Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. (415) 421-8497, www.livenation.com

OCT. 31

Yelle The French electro vixen pops up again. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. (415) 625-8880, www.mezzaninesf.com

NOV. 1–2

Madonna Break it down, New York magazine-style. Tabloid sensation dissipates, while ageless sex appeal, hardcore show-womanship, and — please remember, your Madge-sty — good songs are a girl’s real best friend. Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum, Oakl. (415) 421-8497, www.livenation.com

>>More Fall Arts Preview

Olympic disc toss


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Theresa Andersson, Hummingbird, Go! (Basin Street) Could this be the latest hair — or rather, heir — to Dusty Springfield’s not-so-dusty blue-eyed soul diva throne, aided by Allen Toussaint, Ane Brun, and Sweden’s Tobias Froberg?

Apollo Sunshine, Shall Noise Upon (World’s Fair) Bad album titles happen to even imaginative psych-poppers.

Lila Downs, Shake Away (EMI/Manhattan) New York-Oaxaca singer-songwriter doffs the Frida drag and bares some Shakira-style midriff along with a lively pop sound.

Donnie Klang, Just a Rolling Stone (Bad Boy) Making the Band 4′s broom-topped answer to Jon B and Justin T paraphrases Bobby D for the TRL set.

New Kids on the Block, The Block (Interscope) Old manager Lou Pearlman is going to prison, Donnie is headed for divorce court, and there are even rumors that one member is — gasp — nonheterosexual.

Underoath, Lost in the Sound of Separation (Tooth & Nail/Solid State) Rock me, sexy screamo Jesus-freaks.

UNKLE, End Titles … Stories for Film (Surrender All) Say “UNKLE” like Black Mountain and Josh Homme want you to.

Brian Wilson, That Lucky Old Sun (Capitol) He reunites with Van Dyke Parks and takes a trip down memory’s drag strip, covering Louis Armstrong and paying homage to SoCal.

Young Jeezy, The Recession (Def Jam) True dat. Producers like Eminem and Jazze Pha and contributors such as Kanye West and T-Pain feel Jeezy’s, erm, pain.



Calexico, Carried to Dust (Touch and Go) Dusted but darn pretty. Whispery. Poppy.

Cornelius, Sensurround (Everloving) Keigo Oyamada, 3-D sound specialist, returns with a video-and-remix DVD/CD, aptly titled after a quake-imitating movie gimmick.

Kimya Dawson, Alphabutt (K) Everyone poops.

Michael Franti and Spearhead, All Rebel Rockers (Anti-/Epitaph) The SF activist stalwart spit-shines a spunky-fresh blend of dub and funk.

Fujiya and Miyagi, Lightbulbs (Deaf, Dumb & Blind) Fresh from car and Miller Lite commercials, the English kraut-rockers with the Japanese name(s).

Gym Class Heroes, The Quilt (Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen/Atlantic) I hate gym.

Hatchback, Colours of the Sun (Lo) Dfa- and Prins Thomas–approved Sorcerer-buddy Sam Grawe sets the controls beyond cosmic into hypnotic with epic instrumental jams such as “White Diamond” and “Horizon.”

Okkervil River, The Stand Ins (Jagjaguwar) The sweet sequel to last year’s novelistic The Stage Names.

Kardinal Offishall, Not 4 Sale (Geffen) The Clipse dispenses financial advice on “Set It Off.”

Jessica Simpson, Do You Know? (Columbia Nashville) Huh?

The Sound of Animals Fighting, The Ocean and the Sun (Epitaph) A dreamy Animal Collective meets a mathier-than-thou Dillinger Escape Plan?

Emiliana Torrini, Me and Armini (Rough Trade) In The Two Towers (2002), the Icelandic songbird serenaded the gruesome-cute ring-a-ding-dinger with “Gollum’s Song.”

Tricky, Knowle West Boy (Domino) The 40-year-old boy sings the body eclectic.


SEPT. 12

Metallica, Death Magnetic (Warner Bros.) When they weren’t pissing off neighbors, the music biz titans and longtime friends of Bugs Bunny were recording — with Rick Rubin — outside of SF for the first time in a dozen years.


SEPT. 16

George Clinton, George Clinton and Some Gangsters of Love (Shanachie) The gang — Carlos Santana, Sly Stone, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and RZA — is all here, maggot brains.

Faith Hill, Joy to the World (Warner Bros.) The initial single off the C&W-pop vocalist’s first Xmas album: “A Baby Changes Everything.”

Ill Bill, The Hour of Reprisal (Uncle Howie/Fat Beats) Bad Brains and Raekwon the Chef cook up mischief with “La Coka Nostra.”

Musiq Soulchild, On My Radio (Atlantic) The spirit of Philadelphia, from behind soulful shades.

Nelly, Brass Knuckles (Derrty/Universal) Fergie, Ciara, and Lil Wayne get derrty right herre.

Ne-Yo, Year of the Gentleman (Def Jam) We’re waiting for “Year of the Ice Road Trucker.”

Raphael Saadiq, The Way I See It (Columbia) Oakland will come out for its boy.

Alexander Tucker, Portal (ATP Recordings) Acclaimed UK fingerpicking maestro of murk-folk returns with a dissonant, symphonic mix of vibes, cello, and electric mandolin on his third album.

The Veronicas, Hook Me Up (Sire) The Aussie twins hope to hook up the Jonas Brothers’ tweeny audience with their sassy pop.


SEPT. 23

Blitzen Trapper, Furr (Sub Pop) The wild-eyed Northwesterners focus on a janky old piano found outside their studio.

Cold War Kids, Loyalty to Loyalty (Downtown/Atlantic) Chilly times call for tunes with titles like “Golden Gate Jumpers.”

Common, Invincible Summer (Geffen) Last sighted orbiting will.i.am’s Obama ad and now rotating with the Neptunes.

Charlie Haden Family and Friends, Rambling Boy (Decca) The jazz genius gets back to his Iowa-bound country-music roots with help from offspring Petra and Josh, Elvis Costello, Rosanne Cash, and Pat Metheny.

Kings of Leon, Only By the Night (RCA) Brothers by day.

Jenny Lewis, Acid Tongue (Warner Bros.) Elvis Costello really does get around, guesting here alongside She and Him and Lewis manfriend Johnathan Rice.

Mogwai, The Hawk Is Howling (PIAS/Wall of Sound) The Scottish instrumentalists move on from making music for Zinedine Zidane. Song titles include “I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead,” and “I Love You, I’m Going to Blow Up Your School.”

Peter Bjorn and John, Seaside Rock (Almost Gold/Star Time International) The trio from Sweden veer away from lyrical pop to lyric-free — and whistle-free, one hopes — compositions inspired by childhood.

TV on the Radio, Dear Science (Interscope) Shining with radioactive adorableness.


SEPT. 29

Marianne Faithfull, Easy Come, Easy Go (Naive, UK) The queen of the nicotine rasp reunites with Hal Wilner to cover Dolly Parton, Neko Case, Judee Sill, Randy Newman, and Morrissey.


SEPT. 30

Miles Davis, Kind of Blue: 50th Anniv. (Columbia/Legacy) In marriage, the 50th anniversary is golden. In the music industry, the 50th anniversary is a two-CD plus DVD plus LP plus book plus poster.

Dungen, 4 (Sublimininal Sounds) The fourth studio album by Swedish foursome is divided into two sounds: raw guitar rock and jazz-inflected cinematic orchestration\

El Guincho, Alegranza! (Young Turks/XL) Born with the zestful zing! of an Esquivel sample, Pablo Diaz-Reixa’s irresistible 10-track burst of Barcelona beach boy 21st-century Tropicalia finally gets a US release — and, one hopes, a tour to go with it.

Jennifer Hudson, Jennifer Hudson (Arista) After an Oscar, various red carpet misfires, and the Sex and the City movie, her debut arrives, taking the s, the o, the l, and the o out of “solo via guest appearances or production by Diane Warren, Timbaland, Ne-Yo, T-Pain, Cee-lo, Pharrell, Ludacris, Akon, John Legend, and duet partner R. Kelly.

Mercury Rev, Snowflake Midnight (Yep Roc) Melting the heels of the band’s seventh studio album is Strange Attractor, a companion collection of 11 free downloadable tracks.

Barbara Morgenstern, BM (Monika Enterprise) The operator behind effervescent bursts of multilayered electronic pop presents her fifth album and — attention SF club promoters! — hopes to the tour the states.

Nina Simone, To Be Free (Sony Legacy) A three-CD, one-DVD retrospective that spans more than four decades, from Dr. Simone’s earliest recordings with Bethlehem to her final recordings for Elektra.

Taj Mahal, Maestro (Heads Up) Forty years after his recording debut and five years after his last US release, he covers Otis Redding and works with Ziggy Marley.

T.I., Paper Trail (Grand Hustle/Atlantic) His house arrest album, narrowed down from 50 songs, includes production by all the usual big names, and cameos by Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, John Legend, Usher, and the dreaded Fall Out Boy.

XX Teens, Welcome to Goon Island (Mute) I see Paris, I see Toulouse, I see someone’s green and blue boobs.


OCT. 7

Black Sabbath, Paranoid (Deluxe) (Universal) The band’s biggest-selling album gets a quadraphonic update, along with instrumental versions of six songs.

Deerhoof, Offend Maggie (Kill Rock Stars) A pencil drawing by Tomoo Gokita of a half-naked mystery man graces the cover, and the first single has been released in the form of sheet music.

Jolie Holland, The Living and the Dead (Anti-/Epitaph) Norman Mailer wouldn’t be able to attract guests like M. Ward and Marc Ribot.

Morgan Geist, Double Night Time (Environ) In the wake of contributing cellist Kelley Polar’s second album, one member of Metro Area presents his own new romantic bouquet of Detroit techno-tinged disco pop, with guest crooning by Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys.

Gregory and the Hawk, Moenie and Kitchi (FatCat) Sweetly twee indie-folk prepares its latest world-domination campaign.

Lambchop, OH (ohio) (Merge) Chop, chop — Nashville rocks.

MSTRKRFT, title to be announced (Dim Mak) Isis brings the “Bounce.”

Of Montreal, Skeletal Lamping (Polyvinyl) Do be a drag — with plenty of confetti.

Rise Against, Appeal to Reason (Geffen) Tried to reason with them about playing up the pirate metal.

Senses Fail, Life Is Not a Waiting Room (Vagrant) So why are we waiting for our hearing to fail?

Michele Williams, Unexpected (Columbia) The Destiny’s Child vocalist, not the actress, stops going gospel in favor of pop.

Women, Women (Jagjaguwar) Hope they get to hang out with Lesbians.


OCT. 14

The Alps, III (Type) Local music heads Scott Hewicker, Jefre-Cantu Ledesma, and Alexis Georgopoulos makes the leap from CD-R to “proper” album release, paying homage to the hallucinatory sides of Serge Gainsbourg, Ennio Morricone, and Terry Riley along the way.

I’m From Barcelona, Who Killed Harry Houdini (Mute) The Swedish — not Spanish — mega-band returns with 10 new songs, including at least one by the ill-fated famous illusionist.

Ray LaMontagne, Gossip in the Grain (RCA) And buzz in the barn.

Queen and Paul Rodgers, The Cosmos Rocks (Hollywood) We know guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May finally completed his doctorate, but that title will have Freddy Mercury’s ghost hitching it to the next galaxy.

T. Pain, Thr33 Ringz (Jive) After producing most of Ciara’s upcoming full-length, Faheem Najm recruits Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West for his own — if it doesn’t go putf8um, I’m gonna buy you a drank and fall in love with a stripper.


OCT. 21

Hank III, Damn Right, Rebel Proud (Curb/Bruc) The disc has been described as a “Jekyll and Hyde mix of disturbingly dark stuff and good ol’ country.”

Labelle, Back to Now (Verve) Their first full-length in 33 years brings Gamble and Huff, Lenny Kravitz, and Wyclef Jean out of the woodwork.

Lee Ann Womack, Call Me Crazy (MCA Nashville) She sang at the 2004 Republican National Convention, but redeemed herself as much as possible a year later with the “20 Years and Two Husbands Ago.” Now, unfortunately, she’s borrowing titles from Anne Heche.


OCT. 28

Cradle of Filth, Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder (Roadrunner) The grimy tots say they were inspired by Joan of Arc’s aristocratic compatriot.

Cynic, Traced in Air (Season of Mist) The proggish metal outfit issues its first studio album since 1993.

Warren G, The G Files (Hawino) Quick, regulate before G notices.

It’s a Musical, The Music Makes Me Sick (Morr) Guitar-free Berlin duo craft harmonic pop in the key of Bacharach, with trumpets, vibraphones, and canonical choirs.

Grace Jones, Hurricane (Wall of Sound, UK) The most anticipated comeback of the season, since Glass Candy, the Chromatics and every other nu-disco act offering pale versions of her fabulous robot chick chic — includes contributions by Brian Eno and Sly and Robbie and a song called “Corporate Cannibal.”

John Legend, Evolver (G.O.O.D Music/Columbia) Kanye West, Andre 3000, and Estelle join the high-minded proceedings.

Pink, title TBA (LaFace/Zomba) She attempts to get the party started — yet again.


NOV. 4

Big Boi, Sir Luscious Leftfoot … Son of Chico Dusty (LaFace) Ouch, don’t hurt yourself on that title. The OutKast insider finds support in Andre 3000, Mary J. Blige, and Too $hort.

Dido, title TBA (Arista). “Thank You,” multi-instrumental wiz and producer Jon Brion for overseeing this long-time-coming album.


NOV. 11

Missy Elliott, Block Party (Atlantic) Was it really over a decade ago that the late Babygirl gave her a boost to fame? Keyshia Cole is a likely guest, and Timbaland is just one of many co-producers.


NOV. 18

Kelly Clarkson, title TBA (RCA) Everybody loves the Rachael Ray of American Idol pop! Don’t they?

>>More Fall Arts Preview

Notes of a dirty old man.


› a&eletters@sfbg.com


I was having visions in those days. They came mostly when I was drying out, not drinking, waiting around for money or something to arrive, and the visions were very real — Technicolor and with music — mostly they flashed across the top of the ceiling while I was on the bed in a half-slumberous state. I had worked in too many factories, had seen too many jails, had drunk too many bottles of cheap wine to maintain any sort of cool and intelligent state toward my visions —


It was San Francisco. Then I’d hear a knock on the door. It was the old woman who ran the place, Mama Fazzio.

"Mr. Bukowski?" she said through the door.



"Ulll. Ummph…."

"Are you all right?"

"Oh, sure."

"Can I come in?"

I’d get up and open the door, sweat now cold behind my ears.

"Say …"


"You need something to keep your wine and beer cold, you don’t have a refrigerator. Even a pan of water with ice in it would help. I’ll get you a pan of water with ice in it."


"And I remember when you were here two years ago you used to have a phonograph. You’d play symphony music all the time. Don’t you miss your music?"


Then she left. I was afraid to lie down on the bed or the visions would come again. They always came just the moment before sleep. Or the moment before one would have slept. Horrible things: spiders eating fat babies in webs, babies with milk-white skin and sea-blue eyes. Then came faces, 3 feet across with puss-holes circled with red, white, and blue circles. Things like that. I sat in a hard wooden chair and peered at the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Then I heard a rumbling sound on the stairway. Some giant beast crawling toward me? I opened the door. There was Mama Fazzio, 80 years old, pushing and twisting an ancient stand-up green wooden Victrola, the wind-’em-up kind, and the thing must have been twice her weight and clumsy up that narrow stairway and I stood there and said, "Jesus Christ, hold it, don’t move!"

"I can get it!"

"You’re going to kill yourself!"

I ran down and grabbed the thing but she insisted on helping me. We took it into my room. It looked good.

"There. Now you can have some music."

"Yes. Thanks very much. As soon as I get some records."

"You had breakfast?"

"Not hungry."

"Come on down to breakfast any day."


"And if you don’t have the rent, don’t pay it."

"I’ll try to have the rent."

"And excuse me, but my daughter was helping me clean your room when she found some papers with writing on them. She was very fascinated with your writing. She and her husband want you to come to dinner at their place."


"I told them that you were funny. I told them that you wouldn’t come."


After she left I walked around the block a few times and when I came back there was a huge pan of ice with 6 or 7 quarts of beer floating in it plus 2 bottles of good Italian wine. Mama came up 3 or 4 hours later and had a beer.

"You goin’ to dinner at my daughter’s?"

"You’ve bought my soul, Mama. Name the night."

She fooled me. She named the night.

The rest of that night I drank the stuff and wound up the old Victrola and watched the empty felt-covered wheel run at different speeds, and I put my head down to the little wooden slits in the belly of the machine and listened to the humming sound. The whole machine smelled good, holy, and sad; the thing fascinated me like graveyards and pictures of the dead, and the night went well. Later in the night I even found a lone record in the belly of the machine and I put it on:

"He’s got the whole world

in His hands

He’s got you and me, brother

He’s got the little babies

in His hands

He’s got everybody

in His hands….."

This scared me so much that the next day, hangover and all, I went out and got a job as a stock boy in a department store. I started the day after. Some old gal in cosmetics (she seemed to be at the bad age for women — 46 to 53) kept hollering that she had to have the stuff RIGHT AWAY. I think it was the insistent shrill insanity in her voice. I told her: "Keep your pants on, baby, I’ll be along soon to relieve you of your tensions…." The manager fired me 5 minutes later. I could hear her screaming over the phone: "If that isn’t the damndest SNOTTIEST STOCK BOY I ever heard!!! Who the hell does he think he is?"

"Now, Mrs. Jason, please calm yourself …"

At the dinner it was confusing also. The daughter looked real good and the husband was a big Italian. They were both communists. He had a fine fancy night job somewhere and she just laid around and read books and rubbed her lovely legs. They poured me Italian wine. But nothing made sense to me. I felt like an idiot. Communism didn’t make any more sense to me than democracy. And the thought often did come to me as it came to me at the table that night: I am an idiot. Can’t everybody see that? What’s this wine? What’s this talk? I’m not interested. It had no connection with me. Can’t they see through my skin, can’t they see that I am nothing?

"We like your writing. You remind us of Voltaire," she said.

"Who’s Voltaire?" I asked.

"Oh Jesus," said the husband.

They mostly ate and talked and I mostly drank the Italian wine. I got the idea that they were disgusted with me but since I had expected that, it didn’t bother me. I mean, not too much. He had to go to work and I stayed on.

"I might rape your wife," I told him. He laughed all the way down the stairway.

She sat in front of the fireplace, showing her legs above the knees. I sat in a chair, watching. I hadn’t had a piece of ass in two years. "There’s this very sensitive boy," she said, "who goes with my girlfriend. They both sit around and talk communism for hours and he never touches her. It’s very strange. She’s confused and …"

"Lift your dress higher."


"I said, lift your dress higher. I want to see more of your legs. Pretend I’m Voltaire."

She did show me a little more. I was surprised. But it was more than I could stand. I walked over and pulled her dress back to her hips. Then I pulled her to the floor and was on top of her like some sick thing. I got the panties off. It was hot in front of that fire, very hot. Then when it was over I became the idiot again:

"I’m sorry. I’m out of my mind. Do you want to call the police? How can you be so young when your mother is so old?"

"It’s grandma. She just calls me ‘daughter.’ I’m going to the bathroom. Be right back."


I wiped off with my shorts and when she came out we had some small talk and then I opened the door to leave and walked into a closetful of overcoats and various things. We both laughed.

"Goddamn," I said, "I’m crazy."

"No, you’re not."

I walked on down the stairway, back over the streets of San Francisco, and back to my room. And there in the pan was more beer, more wine, floating in water and ice. I drank it all, sitting there in that wooden chair by the window, all the lights out in the room, looking out, drinking.

The luck was mine. A hundred dollar piece of ass and ten bucks worth of drink. It could go on and on. I could get luckier and luckier. More fine Italian wine, more fine Italian ass; free breakfast, free rent, the flowing and glowing of the goddamned soul overtaking everything. Each man was a name and a way but what a horrible waste most of them were. I was going to be different. I kept drinking and didn’t quite remember going to bed.

In the morning it wasn’t bad. I found a half empty and warm quart bottle of beer. Drank that. Then I lay down on the bed, started to sweat. I laid there quite a time, became sleepy.

This time it was a lampshade that turned into a very evil and large face and then back into a lampshade again. It went on and on, like a repeat movie, and I sweated sweated sweated, thinking that each time, that face would be the unbearable thing to me, whatever that unbearable thing was. There it came AGAIN!


The knock on the door.

"Mr. Bukowski?"


"Are you all right?"


"I said, ‘Are you all right?’"

"Oh fine, just fine!"

In came old Mama Fazzio. "You drank all your stuff."

"Yes, it was a hot night last night."

"You got records yet?"

"Just ‘He’s got the little babies in His hands.’"

"My daughter wants you to come to dinner again."

"I can’t. Got something going. Got to clear it up."

"What do you mean?"

"Sacramento, by the 26th of this month."

"Are you in trouble of some sort?"

"Oh no, Mama, no trouble at all."

"I like you. When you come back, you come live with us again."

"Sure, Mama."

I listened to the old woman going down the stairs. Then I threw myself down on the mattress. How the wind howls in the mouth of the brain; how sad it is to be alive with arms and legs and eyes and brain and cock and balls and bellybutton and all the else and waiting waiting waiting for the whole thing to die, so silly, but nothing else to do, nothing else to do, really. A Tom Mix life with a constipation flaw. I was almost asleep.


"Mr. Bukowski?"


"What’s wrong?"


"Are you all right?"

"Oh, fine, jus’ fine!"

I finally had to get out of San Francisco. They were driving me crazy. With their free wine and free everything. I’m in Los Angeles now where they don’t give anything away, and I’m feeling a little bit better…

HEY! What was THAT??? …

Reprinted from National Underground Review, May 15, 1968, courtesy of David Stephen Calonne.

From the forthcoming City Lights collection Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook: Uncollected Stories and Essays 1944-1990, edited by David Stephen Calonne.



› johnny@sfbg.com

Mock Up on Mu Craig Baldwin’s latest opus, on rocket science and Scientology in California, with the director in person.

Sept. 2. Pacific Film Archive

Obscene A new documentary about Evergreen Review and Grove Press publisher Barney Russet and his many battles on behalf of free speech and real art.

Sept. 5–11. Roxie Film Center

Lost Indulgence and In Love We Trust A pair of films by up-and-coming Chinese directors Zhang Yibai and Wang Xiaoshuai.

Sept. 6–20. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Wattis Theater, 151 Third St., SF. (415) 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org

"History Stutters: Found Footage Films" Bruce Conner’s John F. Kennedy–assassination film Report (1965) and Ken Jacobs’ Malcolm X. assassination response Perfect Film (1984) is on the same bill; program also includes a movie with Ed Henderson.

Sept. 9. Pacific Film Archive

Leave Her to Heaven The 1947 Technicolor noir — and ultimate swimmer’s nightmare — returns with a demonstration of film restoration.

Sept. 12. Smith Rafael Film Center, 1118 Fourth St., San Rafael. (415) 454-1222, www.cafilm.org

"MilkBar International Live Film Festival" Three days of experimental cinema, including more than 20 local short works.

Sept. 12–14. Noodle Factory Performing Arts Center, 1255 26th St. #207, Oakl. (510) 289-5188, www.milkbar.org

"Unknown Pleasures: The Films of Jia Zhangke" At last, China’s vanguard contemporary filmmaker gets an extensive Bay Area retrospective.

Sept. 12–Oct. 17. Pacific Film Archive

"The People Behind the Screen" Local programmers contribute to "Bay Area Now": Jesse Hawthorne Ficks presents girl rock; Stephen Parr of Oddball Films shares a giddy taste of his mega-montage project Euphoria; and kino21 puts together performance cinema; Peaches Christ, Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project, and DocFest also have nights.

Sept. 13–Oct. 18. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Shatfest Thrillville’s tributes to the one and only William Shatner continue with his 1968 spaghetti western White Comanche.

Sept. 18. El Cerrito Speakeasy Theater, 10070 San Pablo, El Cerrito. (510) 814-2400, www.thrillville.net

"Taylor Mead: A Clown Underground" The legendary wit Mead visit for screenings that showcase his best starring roles (1960’s The Flower Thief and 1967–68’s Lonesome Cowboys).

Sept. 18–21. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Forbidden Lies The Roxie is distributing this look at con artist Norma Khouri, which gets a theatrical run after a successful trip through the festival circuit.

Sept. 19. Roxie Film Center

MadCat Women’s International Film Festival Ariella Ben-Dov’s fest turns 12 with eight archival greats (including one by Samara Halperin) and silent films with live rock scores.

Sept. 19 and 23. Various venues. (415) 436-9523, www.madcatfilmfestival.org

"Psychotic and Erotic: Rare Films by Tinto Brass" Ass-fixated erotica that includes talking animals and naked cannibals.

Sept. 24. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

"How We Fight: Iraqi Short Films" Kino21 kicks off a series with Argentine director Mauro Andrizzi’s feature-length compilation of short videos shot by US or British soldiers, Iraqi militia members, and corporate workers.

Sept. 25. Artists’ Television Access

"James Dean Memorial Weekend" Come back to the five and dime, or failing that, the Castro, and be sure to wear your red windbreaker.

Sept. 26–28. Castro Theatre

Film in the Fog Gene Kelley is singing in the rain — and the Presidio fog.

Sept. 27. Main Post Theatre, 99 Moraga, SF. (415) 561-5500, www.sffs.org

The World’s Largest Shopping Mall The debut or preview of a film by Sam Green and Carrie Lozano is at the heart of a program devoted to psychogeography.

Sept. 27. Other Cinema

Deathbowl to Downtown Coan Nichols’ and Rick Charnoski’s look at the history of NYC street skateboard culture, narrated by Chloë Sevigny.

Sept. 29. Castro Theatre

"Bette Davis Centennial" She’ll tease you, she’ll unease you — all the better just to please you.

Sept.–Oct. Castro Theatre

Dead Channels You can never get enough weird horror and fantasy.

Oct. 2–5. Roxie Film Center

Mill Valley Film Festival The major fall Bay Area festival turns 31.

Oct. 2–12. Various venues. (415) 383-5256, www.mvff.org

Rosemary’s Baby and The Devils Double the demonic hysteria!

Oct. 3. Castro Theatre

"No Wave: The Cinema of Jean Eustache" The series includes 1965’s Santa Claus Has Blue Eyes, his 215-minute masterpiece The Mother and the Whore (1973), his hog-slaughtering documentary — shades of Georges Franju? — The Pig (1970), and a 1997 doc portrait of him.

Oct. 4–22. Pacific Film Archive

"Rediscovering the Fourth Generation" The post-Mao cinema that laid groundwork for directors such as Jia Zhangke gets a SF showcase.

Oct. 4–30. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Wattis Theater, 151 Third St., SF. (415) 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org

Vertigo The greatest San Francisco movie ever — maybe greatest movie ever — gets the outdoor screening treatment from Film Night in the Park.

Oct. 4. Union Square, SF. (415) 453-4333, www.filmnight.org

"Spirit of ’68" and "Know Your Enemy" A pair of programs compiled by Jack Stevenson

Oct. 5. Oddball Films, 275 Capp, SF. (415) 558-8117, www.oddballfilm.com

Manhattan and Muppets Take Manhattan Mariel Hemingway, meet Miss Piggy.

Oct. 7–9. Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight, SF. (415) 668-3994. www.redvicmoviehouse.com

"French Cinema Now" A new minifestival from the San Francisco Film Society.

Oct. 8–12. Various venues. (415) 561-5000, www.sffs.org

"Superstars Next Door: A Celebration of SF Amateur Sex Cinema from the ’60s" Stevenson looks at that time in SF when everyone would take off their clothes for a camera — with film in it.

Oct. 9–11. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

"Midnites for Maniacs: Back to School … in the ’90s" Jesse Hawthorne Ficks serves up Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1991), Romeo and Juliet (1995), and Starship Troopers (1997).

Oct. 10. Castro Theatre

"Envisioning Russia: A Century of Filmmaking" The expansive 16-film program extends across eight decades.

Oct. 10–30. Pacific Film Archive

"Protest-sploitation" A lecture-demo by Christian Divine looking at six "youth" films made in 1970, along with a screening of that year’s The People Next Door.

Oct. 11. Other Cinema

RR James Benning’s train film finally reaches a Bay Area destination.

Oct. 14. Pacific Film Archive

Arab Film Festival The festival turns 12 this year.

Oct. 16–Nov. 4. Various venues. (415) 564-1100. www.aff.org

DocFest IndieFest’s doc extension turns seven this year with a slate of at least 60 films.

Oct. 17–Nov.6. Roxie Film Center and Shattuck Cinema, 2230 Shattuck, Berk. (415) 820-3907, www.sfindie.com

Leslie Thornton A three-program SF Cinematheque series devoted to the director behind Peggy and Fred in Hell (1985–present) and other experimental works, with Thornton in-person.

Oct. 19–26. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

United Nations Association Film Festival Environmentalism is the focus of the festival’s 11th year.

Oct. 19–26. Various venues. (650) 724-5544, www.unaff.org

"I Love Beijing: The Films of Ning Ying" Ning and her acclaimed Beijing trilogy — which spans from the Peking Opera to dogs, cops, and taxi drivers — visit the Bay, capping things a screening of her 2005 "Chinese Sex and the City" feature Perpetual Motion.

Oct. 23–27. Pacific Film Archive

The Werewolf of Washington The president’s speechwriter is a lycanthrope in this Nixon-era flick.

Oct. 31. Pacific Film Archive

"The New Talkies: Bollywood Night" Kino21 presents six works of live narration to Bollywood film scenes.

Nov. 1. Artists’ Television Access

"Occult on Camera" Erik Davis charts out the Aleister Crowley–Kenneth Anger–Led Zeppelin triumvirate-of-evil — what does Jimmy Page’s appearance in the closing ceremony of the Olympics mean?

Nov. 1. Other Cinema

Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine The SF premiere of a new documentary devoted to the sculptor.

Nov. 2–3. Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight, SF. (415) 668-3994, www.redvicmoviehouse.com

Ghosts Nick Broomfield’s excellent first non-documentary feature, about the abuse of Chinese immigrants in the United Kingdom.

Nov. 7–13. Roxie Film Center

San Francisco International Animation Festival The burgeoning fest and showcase turns three with a program that includes the Cannes favorite Waltz with Bashir.

Nov. 13–16. Various venues. (415) 561-5000, www.sffs.org

Luther Price New works by one of the more scathing and harrowing filmmakers on the planet, presented by SF Cinematheque.

Mid-November. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

New Italian Cinema Will it include Matteo Garrone’s Cannes critic’s fave Gomorra?

Nov. 16–23. Various venues. (415) 561-5000, www.sffs.org

"Films by Martha Colburn" A night of kinetic works by the collage creator, presented in conjunction with a show at Berkeley Art Museum.

Dec. 2. Pacific Film Archive

Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy Thrillville stuffs your stocking with a gem from 1957.

Dec. 11. El Cerrito Speakeasy Theater, 10070 San Pablo, El Cerrito. (510) 814-2400, www.thrillville.net

James Hong A sneak peek at the local director’s expose on Japan’s rewriting of history, Lessons in the Blood.

Dec. 13. Other Cinema

"At Sea" Peter Hutton’s At Sea (2004-7), about the life and death of a colossal container ship, is the centerpiece of an oceanic SF Cinematheque program.

Dec. 14. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts


992 Valencia, SF

(415) 824-3890



429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6120



2575 Bancroft Way, Berk.

(510) 642-5249



3317 16th St., SF

(415) 863-1087



701 Mission, screening room, SF

(415) 978-2787


>>More Fall Arts Preview

Autumn reels


› cheryl@sfbg.com

As summer dwindles into, well, Indian summer (this is San Francisco, after all), film fans are all asking the same thing: will The Dark Knight be nominated for Best Picture, or what? Like, what other 2008 release has even come close? As the temperature tries to make up its mind between freezing fog and freaky heat, the only thing to do is haul ass to the movieplex and let Hollywood deplete your brain cells as painlessly as possible. Who knows, there might be some awards-season contenders in the following list of fall movie picks. There’s at least one talking chihuahua, anyway. All dates subject to change.

Sept. 26: Seems like just yesterday that Shia LaBeouf was giving interviews about how he wasn’t going to be a show biz cliché — you know, keeping his head down, concentrating on his career, and avoiding scandalous run-ins with the law. Maybe Eagle Eye, in which the erstwhile spawn of Indy Jones plays a ne’er-do-well mysteriously targeted by terrorists, will make it into theaters before he has his first tabloid-fodder romance. Tick-tock, Us Weekly!

Oct. 3: Weirdly, there aren’t many horror flicks primed for October releases this year. Guess Beverly Hills Chihuahua, which stars the voices of nearly every known Latino actor in Hollywood (Edward James Olmos, how could you?), is gonna have to fit the bill. Director Raja Gosnell also helmed both Scooby-Doo movies. Far more promising is Ed Harris’ Appaloosa, a Western about two lawmen (Harris and Viggo Mortensen) whose friendship is tested by, natch, a dame (Renée Zellweger). Those of us for whom "Viggo on a horse" is box-office draw enough can work around the Zellweger.

Oct. 10: Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio, and William Monahan, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Departed, join forces for Body of Lies, a political thriller worth seeing based on the above pedigree alone. So what if Leo has a weird Southern accent in the trailer, and Ridley and Russell’s last collaboration birthed the 2006 bomb A Good Year?

Oct. 17: Do we really need to see Oliver Stone’s George W. Bush biopic, W., having just suffered through eight years of the worst president ever to take office? Is it too soon to point and laugh? Judging from the hilarious (and scary-because-it-might-actually-be-true) trailer, the performances of Josh Brolin and others cast as real-life newsmakers will make W. well worth it. Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice may be a stretch, but Toby Jones as Karl Rove is particularly inspired.

Oct. 24: Two cunning linguists, Brick writer-director Rian Johnson and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind writer Charlie Kaufman, have new flicks out today. Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom follows the entanglements of con men played by Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo; Kaufman makes his directorial debut with Synecdoche, New York, in which a dying theater director played by Philip Seymour Hoffman aims to create one last great work of art.

Nov. 14: James Bond (extra-buff Daniel Craig version) returns in Quantum of Solace. In Australia, Baz Luhrmann, Nicole Kidman, and Hugh Jackman combine their home-country superpowers for a sweeping epic set you-know-where.

Nov. 21: I realize I already foamed over Viggo Mortensen above, but The Road — directed by The Proposition‘s John Hillcoat and adapted from the postapocalyptic Cormac McCarthy novel — absolutely gets my vote for most-anticipated 2008 release.

Nov. 26: The Castro Theatre gets a two-day exclusive on Milk before it opens wide Nov. 28. Don’t know what Milk is? What kind of a San Franciscan are you?

Dec 12: Keanu Reeves stars in The Day the Earth Stood Still remake. Insert your own Klaatu/Keanu joke here.

Dec. 25: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button reunites Fight Club director David Fincher with star Brad Pitt. Based on a 1922 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the film explores the curious-indeed life of a man (Pitt, with copious CG assistance) who ages in reverse.

>>More Fall Arts Preview

Vizzy with the possibilities



"The Wizard of Oz" Not much has changed since L. Frank Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz debuted over a century ago and gave Americans something we still crave: escape to a fantastical land free of wicked witches. These days it’s not the Emerald City that Dorothys everywhere are tripping toward but a place called "hope." The works in this group show curated by Jens Hoffmann, including more than 20 artists (Clare Rojas, Raymond Pettibon, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, et al.), were made either in response to the classic tale or relate to the story’s many layered meanings.

Sept. 2–Dec. 13. Reception Sept. 2. CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, 1111 Eighth St., SF. (415) 551-9210, www.wattis.org

"Vocabularies of Metaphor: More Stories" In this group show of works on paper highlighting deconstructed narratives, all but two of the 16 artists included are women — one of Henry Darger’s Vivian Girls drawings makes an appearance. "Vocabularies" is a chance to see how women are considering the figure — female, male, and animal — in a postnatural world, though this idea is not the exhibit’s emphasis. Of note are Rachelle Sumpter’s gauzy gouaches, Canadian Yuka Yamaguchi’s dismembered turtles, and Pakistani Shahzia Sikander’s nature-inspired pattern-making.

Sept. 6–Oct. 18. Reception Sept. 6. Hosfelt Gallery, 430 Clementina, SF. (415) 495-5454, www.hosfeltgallery.com

California Academy of Sciences The mothership of scientific and sustainable nerdiness finally opens! This Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified facility includes a planetarium, swamp, rainforest, and a living roof. If you prefer your nature virtual, you can always hang out with the PenguinCam.

Big Bang opening gala Sept. 25; free to the public all day Sept. 27. 55 Music Concourse, Golden Gate Park, SF. (415) 379-8000, www.calacademy.org

"Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible, 1840-1900" Scientific photography of yesteryear is a healthy reminder of just how long we’ve been trying to discover everything that can possibly be discovered and recording it for posterity. More than 200 photographs, American and European, scientific and pseudoscientific.

Oct. 11–Jan. 4, 2009. SFMOMA, 151 Third St., SF. (415) 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org

"The Gatherers: Greening Our Urban Spheres" Co-curated by Berin Golonu and independent curator Veronica Wiman of Sweden, this activist exhibition is intended to further the green dialogue through collaborations between artists and organizations, conversations with the public, and urban interventions.

Oct. 31–Jan. 11, 2009. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 978-ARTS, www.ybca.org


"Barbara Holmes and Casey Logan" What a dump! The two artists’ four-month residency climaxes with 3-D work inspired by and composed of salvaged material. Sculptor Holmes worked with wooden lattice to create a series of kaleidoscopic forms in assorted states of weatheredness, while Logan morphed musical gear and other detritus into pieces that meld with his fascination with science and fiction.

Sept. 26–27. SF Recycling Art Studio, 503 Tunnel, SF. www.sfrecycling.com/AIR

"Nikki McClure" The graphic rep of Olympia, Wash.’s riot grrrl scene is undoubtedly best known for her bold, iconic paper cuts revolving around nature, motherhood, activism, and community. Music cover-art, illustrations, and books have all found a place in a vision grounded in simple gestures, uncontrived pleasures, and everyday labors.

October–November. Needles and Pens, 3253 16th St. SF. (415) 255-1534, www.needles-pens.com

"Outpost" Exploding the imaginary and futuristic dimensions of architecture, "Outpost" collects the apocalyptic planes and jagged rubble of Bay Area sculptor David Hamill and the dazzling grids and Spirograph-esque constructs of New York City artist Jeff Konigsberg.

Sept. 5–Oct. 18. Reception Sept. 5. Johansson Projects 2300 Telegraph, Oakl. (510) 999-9140, johanssonprojects.net

"Hilary Pecis" Folktronica, meet your maker: the SF artist creates her downright psychedelic panoramas by layering drawings with fragments sliced from glossy magazines. Pecis was also recently named as a recipient of the 2008 Murphy and Cadogan Fellowships in the Fine Arts and will be showcased at SF Arts Commission Gallery.

Sept. 6-26. Reception Sept. 6. Receiver Gallery, 1415 Valencia, SF. (415) 550-RCVR, receivergallery.com. Also "Immediate Future: the 2008 Murphy and Cadogan Fellowships in the Fine Arts," Sept. 6-Oct. 18. SFAC Gallery, 401 Van Ness, SF. (415) 554-6080, www.sfacgallery.org

"Yves Saint Laurent" Viva le smoking! The beloved groundbreaker may be dead, but Yves Saint Laurent has never been hotter, judging from this autumn’s many attempts at rich-hippie/gypsy folklorico, highly sexed men’s wear for women, and silky Parisian-lady drag. This major retrospective’s single US turn showcases more than 120 accessorized ensembles in addition to drawings, photos, and videos.

Nov. 1–March 1, 2009. De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, SF. (415) 750-3600, www.famsf.org/deyoung


"I Feel I Am Free But I Know I Am Not" See “Connect four,” this issue

Sept. 4–Nov. 1. SF Camerawork, 657 Mission, 2nd floor, SF. (415) 512-2020, www.sfcamerawork.org

"Double Down: Two Visions of Vegas" Olivo Barbieri looks at Vegas as toy town.

Sept. 18–Jan. 4, 2009. SFMOMA, 151 Third St., SF. (415) 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org

"Bayete Ross-Smith: Pomp & Circumstance" and "Jonathan Burstein: Visage" Ross-Smith’s prom portraits are fresh, and Burstein’s paintings of museum guards trampoline off the humor present in his handsome past portraits of himself.

Sept. 4–Oct.11. Patricia Sweetow Gallery, 77 Geary, mezzanine, SF. (415) 788-5126, www.patriciasweetwogallery.com

"Lutz Bacher: ODO"

Oct. 31–Dec.31. Ratio 3, 1447 Stevenson, SF. (415) 821-3371, www.ratio3.org

Open Studios A step outside the galleries, museums, and art fairs — for better, for worse, and for real.

Oct. 11–Nov. 2. Various locations, SF. (415) 861-9838, www.artpsan.org

"Dustin Fosnot: Simmons Beautyrest" Fosnot’s comic inventiveness should be a relief.

Oct. 14–Nov. 15. Steven Wolf Fine Arts, 49 Geary, suite 411, SF. (415) 263-3677. www.stevenwolffinearts.com

"LA Paint" A survey of 11 painters, sure to fan a variety of Bay-and-LA flames.

Oct. 4–March 8, 2009. Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak, Oakl. (510) 238-2200, www.museumca.org

"These are the People in Your Neighborhood" Mr. Rogers is quoted for this 15th birthday celebration including work by Libby Black and Xylor Jane, among others.

Sept. 12–Oct. 17. Gallery 16, 501 Third, SF, www.gallery16.com

"Artists Ball Seven: The New Party" Stanlee Gatti and Mos Def, together at last.

Oct. 3. YBCA, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 978-2700, www.ybca.org

"Warhol’s Jews: Ten Portraits Reconsidered" A prelude to "Warhol Live," which hits the de Young next year.

Oct. 12–Jan. 25, 2009. Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission, SF. (415) 655-7800, www.thecjm.org

>>More Fall Arts Preview

Sino the times


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

If the world-class flash of the Beijing Olympics isn’t enough of an example of China’s rising international cultural power, we’ll have continued reminders at Bay Area museums and galleries in the coming months. It’s perhaps a tipping point: Pace Beijing, a big outlet for a major western gallery, just opened, signaling a market vetting of art currently being made in China. In fact, a wide swath of Asia will the focus of the international art world this fall with a confluence of biennials — and a triennial — that rival the 2007 European "grand tour" of the "Venice Biennale," "Documenta," and "Münster Sculpture Project." This September sees the opening of biennials in Singapore; Taipei, Taiwan; Yokohama, Japan; Guangzhou and Shanghai in China; and Busan and Gwangju in Korea, the latter organized by Okwui Enwezor, dean of the San Francisco Art Institute.

So it does seem fitting, given our Pacific Rim position, that we at least reflect this activity. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art got a jump-start in the Sino-surveys, as "Half-Life of a Dream: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Logan Collection," opened prior to the Olympics and continues through Oct. 5. It’s a lively crash course in its subject, though the museum did give us one in 1999 — the pivotal "Inside Out: New Chinese Art," which included most of the artists on view now. The current show has the opportunity to provide scope — with newer works augmenting some classics — and the mix seems particularly smooth, no doubt because we have become far more familiar with China in general and with at least some of the cultural conditions that fuel the work.

"Half Life" satisfies with 50 pieces of painting, sculpture, and installations, but it seems modest in comparison to "Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection," a show that will fill almost the entire UC Berkeley Art Museum from Sept. 10–Jan. 4, 2009, with 141 works by 96 artists. Both exhibitions provide the opportunity to bring artists here and generate public dialogues, panel discussions, artist talks, and film screenings, which will play out in various venues around town. Berkeley’s show brings Ai Weiwei, a breakout international art star with intellectual buzz, out for a Bay Area residency.

One can’t help but notice that both these shows have "collection" in the title revealing a troubling sense of western ownership — a scenario suggesting that such works wouldn’t come to our attention without patronage. In this case, the collectors take on a passionate, fact-filled advocacy role: Swiss collector Uli Sigg has been supporting art in China for two decades, while Kent Logan, who has acquired works with his wife Vicki, writes extensively on his collection in the SFMOMA show’s catalog. Apparently it takes vision — and packaging — to float this work into a western context.

Other shows continue the focus on Asia, including Chinese sculptor Zhan Wang’s solo turn at Haines Gallery (Sept. 4-Oct. 4). His supershiny metal scholar’s rock is a highlight in the de Young’s sculpture garden, and that museum has organized a historical show with themes that may prove to be an interesting counterpoint: "Asian/American/Modern Art: Shifting Currents, 1900–1970" (Oct. 25-Jan. 18, 2009), which surveys work by Asian and Asian American artists who worked in the United States — albeit at a time when the art world was less heated and international than it is today. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Mills College Art Museum expand the geographic scope with, respectively, Manila-Bay Area exchange show "Galleon Trade: Bay Area Now 5 Edition" (Sept. 4–Oct. 19) and "The Offering Table: Women Activist Artists from Korea" (Sept. 6-Dec. 7). The Asian Art Museum opens another can of cultural worms — and dazzling artifacts — with the historical "Arts of the Islamic World from Turkey to Indonesia," Sept. 5–March 1, 2009. One hopes that such exhibits expand on what we ordinarily think of as Asian art, contextualizing the current fascination with the contemporary Chinese art scene.


"Andrew Schoultz: In Gods We Trust," Sept. 4–Oct. 25. Reception Sept. 4. Marx and Zavattero, 77 Geary, SF. (415) 627-9111, www.marxzav.com

Renzo Piano’s California Academy of Sciences building opens Sept. 27. 55 Music Concourse, Golden Gate Park, SF. (415) 379-8000, www.calacademy.org

Teddy Cruz and Pedro Reyes, Oct. 17–Dec. 13. Reception Oct. 16. Walter and McBean Galleries, San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut, SF. (415) 749-4563, www.waltermcbean.com

"Lutz Bacher: ODO," Oct. 31–Dec. 13. Ratio 3, 1447 Stevenson, SF. (415) 821-3371, www.ratio3.org

"The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now," Nov. 8–Feb. 8, 2009. SFMOMA, 151 Third St., SF. (415) 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org

>>More Fall Arts Preview

Connect four


Photos by Jeffery Cross


SFBG Who is inspiring or revolting to you, in terms of art and performance, including political performance?

Guillermo Gómez-Peña The best and — most inspiring performance I’ve experienced took place in the Mexico City zocalo. A group of 100 indigenous men from the Coordinadora de los 400 pueblos, tired of waiting for the mayor to listen to their claims, decided to take off their clothes, each drink a liter of water, and pee in unison against the walls of the Palacio Nacional. The power of this action was not in the collective pissing ritual but rather in the exposure of the nude indigenous body, marked by the scars of hard labor and history. The image has been haunting me.

SFBG What do you hope will happen in the US presidential election?

GGP In the realm of symbolic politics, the best thing that can happen is for the United States to elect an articulate mulatto president, the son of a Kenyan immigrant, whose second name is Hussein. But in reality, it worries me that Obama’s project of hope sounds more and more like Hallmark humanism.

SFBG What is your favorite time of year in seasonless San Francisco?

GGP I love it when the sun comes out in earnest and tropicalism hits the streets for a few days. I love to bar hop in the Mission and watch the myriad subcultures show off their self-styled fashion, muscles, tattoos and nalgas palidas. But I also love certain neighborhoods under heavy fog. I feel I am walking in the middle of a British gothic novel. My worry is that this gorgeous city is slowly becoming a bohemian theme park.


Oct. 2, 5–8 p.m.; Oct.11, 3–5 p.m.; and Oct. 21, 5–8 p.m.; free, $5

SF Camerawork

657 Mission (second floor), SF

(415) 512-2020



Oct. 23–25; times and prices TBD

Project Artaud Theater

450 Florida, SF

(415) 863-9834





SFBG What are your plans for this fall?

MATTILDA BERNSTEIN SYCAMORE I’m going on a crazy cross-country book tour, starting with the book launch Oct. 8 at City Lights — check my Web site (www.mattildabernsteinsycamore.com) for details.

SFBG Your novel, So Many Ways to Sleep Badly, is published by City Lights. A recent review in Publishers Weekly seems to think the book’s protagonist is a woman. What did you learn from that review?

MBS I learned most people are even more confused about gender than me. But guess what — the book is already available in Bay Area stores, so readers can rush to figure it out, just like the latest John Grisham.

SFBG So, are you allergic to oxygen?

MBS These days, who isn’t?

SFBG Where’s your favorite sex place in SF, or maybe better, where in SF needs to be turned into a sex spot?

MBS City Hall would be fun. So much elegance and charm, as long as they get rid of everyone who’s usually there. The 38 Geary would be perfect: I always get horny on that bus. Anywhere on my late-night walks — I usually walk up Leavenworth and Hyde from O’Farrell to Bush or so. Feel free to stalk me!

SFBG What do you want to happen in the presidential election?

MBS Do we still call that an election?

SFBG What is your favorite time of year in seasonless San Francisco?

MBS Anytime when the fog rolls in and I can breathe.


Oct. 8, 7:30 p.m.

City Lights Bookstore

261 Columbus, SF

(415) 362-8193




SFBG Your new show, Off Leash: Who’s a Good Girl?, ponders the canine-human continuum. What have you learned?

JoAnn Selisker In terms of interspecies relationships, I find human behavior and motivation to be much more strange and unfathomable (and sometimes disturbing) than that of the canine. I speak human, so I ought to understand where humans are coming from. If dogs weren’t so helpless, misunderstood, disregarded, and maltreated, I would prefer to be a dog.

SFBG What do you think of Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer?

JS I think he makes some nice dog beds. You can get anything he thinks your dog needs with his "brand" on it. You could call him the Martha Stewart of the dog world. She reaches us through Wal-Mart, and he reaches us through PETCO. They both give us simple how-to instructions and affordable, quality products. All we have to do is buy the videos, magazines, supplies, and accessories, follow step-by-step instructions, and … voilà! The perfect dinner party; the well-mannered pet.

SFBG In your earlier show, Begin with a Box, you put creative instructions by Twyla Tharp to the test. What did you discover?

JS Well, how interesting — Twyla Tharp is a lot like the Dog Whisperer and Martha Stewart! Each of these masters generously shares secrets to success, in simple, step-by-step format. We can all become Twyla Tharp, the Dog Whisperer and/or Martha Stewart.

I discovered that I will never become Twyla Tharp. I started the Begin with a Box project with a box, just like she says, and proceeded step-by-step to completion. I should now be a MacArthur genius, with name recognition and a project with Prince.


Oct. 8, 8 p.m.; Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m.; $15–$18

Project Theater Artaud

450 Florida, SF

(415) 863-9834





SFBG What are your plans for this fall?

TIM SULLIVAN I traveled all summer, so I’m going to try my best to stay put. I have two shows opening this fall, one at SF Camerawork and one in Dallas. I’ll be teaching a class at San Francisco Art Institute and continuing to make things.

SFBG Your contribution to SF Camerawork’s fall exhibition, "I Feel I Am Free But I Know I Am Not," involves a rowboat. What should people expect if they step into the boat?

TS Everyone who gets into the boat will be instantly transformed into a movie star in a recreation of Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944). I really need people to come out and participate to make this work.

SFBG You’ve collaborated with George Kuchar before. Do you have a favorite Kuchar quote, or Kuchar story?

TS A few years back I was in Kuchar’s class film, Kiss of Frankenstein. On the first day he handed us the script, I was rolling on the floor laughing. The entire script is hilarious and quote-worthy! It was definitely the best reading I did in graduate school. The last line (spoiler alert!) always gets me: "Kiss me sloppy."

SFBG What is your favorite time of year in seasonless San Francisco?

TS Fall is always my favorite season. In my home state of Wisconsin I love it because the leaves fall off the trees. Here in SF I love it because the tourists leave and the streets thin out.


Sept. 4, 5–8 p.m., free; Sept. 13 and 27, 2–5 p.m., $5

SF Camerawork

657 Mission (second floor), SF

(415) 512-2020


>>More Fall Arts Preview



› le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS Cut to wide-awake eyes in a moonlit room. In the dream, he could drive my funny little car that no one else but me can drive. He knew how to sweet talk it into first gear, and fearlessly came to complete stops at stop signs. Marveling at his confidence, and competence, I leaned into his big soft arm and he leaned into me, then pulled over and parked and miraculously, as happens in dreams, the stick shift didn’t get in the way.

There’s another guy, way out in Railroad Flat, who calls me to talk car talk, and who tells me, by way of flirtation, how many future–fried chicken hearts he keeps in his freezer. And I don’t have the chicken farmer heart to tell him it’s the livers I like.

The one up in Lake County, he doesn’t call. But when he did, we talked for hours about all the people he’s going to sue, including his neighbor who puts out food for deer and squirrels, and who punched him when he pointed out that it’s against the law, and nature, to feed wild animals.

The big wet spot on the bed next to me has nothing to do with my bladder, so you know. I sleep with hot water bottles on cold nights, and this one sprung a leak. It’s just water. But it might as well be urine, or blood. That’s how freaked I am. And, unlike the other two or three times in my long life that I have nibbled on the earlobe of insomnia, this has nothing to do with dread of death.

The guy driving my car in the sex dream, he may well have accomplished what no amount of religious upbringing or adult talk therapy has managed: helping me wrap my brain around my impending point-of-viewlessness. And on our first date! By accident, by reminding me about onions! Christ, he was so cool, and good.

So, instead of lying awake last night worrying about death, I was lying awake worrying (more like knowing) that I was never going to see this great, cool, good driving man again. Hold on a second. Let me check my e-mail …

Yep. Wow, that didn’t take long. He slept on it, unlike me. Apparently didn’t have the same dream I did, and very succinctly decided friendship yes, romance no. So, let’s see, that makes 1,439,187,009 really really close, loving friends. And exactly nobody to hold me at 4 a.m. when I forget about onions. Or I should say, nobody to snore and grunt and roll away from me at 4 a.m. when I forget about onions. (It’s best not to ask for too much, with odds like mine.)

Merle Haggard has a song where a woman breaks his heart and he’s going to get even by breaking every heart of every woman he sees. Some day I’m going to get me a boob job and break the heart of every man who lays eyes on me, or on them. However that works.

As for deerkind, I exacted my revenge with a big pot of venison chili last weekend, courtesy of the refrigerator and garden of Johnny "Jack" Blogger (Robert Frost’s Banjo) and Sister Mary His Wife, my favorite Catholic ever.

Gardens are good, in Idaho. I don’t know if a pot of chili ever was made — until this one — without opening one single can. Lard be praised, I hardly even had to shake anything into it. There were five kinds of peppers, all fresh-plucked from the garden, at least three varieties of tomatoes, tomatillos — all from the garden. Onions and bacon fat were the only things not grown on the premises. Oh, and the venison. I wish I could say that it was hatchet-ground, but that would be hatchet-grinding the truth, and I prefer just to stretch it.

The deer was courtesy of a wonderful and talkative woman from Portland, Ore., who’s husband (lucky us) has an unadventurous palate. Which drives her crazy, and would me too. So they fight. I’ve met this guy, and he’s a great guy. But if he doesn’t learn to eat new things, I’m going to get a boob job and break his fucking heart.


My new favorite restaurant is Mi Lindo Yucatan. It’s a lot cheaper at lunch time, though, so if you find yourself in Noe Valley between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.: Platillo Mi Lindo Yucatan is a mixed platter of … let’s see, there was a shrimp ceviche tostada, some salad, a tamal, a cheese empanada, chicken this, pork that. But my favorite was a couple of barbecued ribs. Nice place, interesting menu.


Daily: 11 a.m.–11 p.m.

4042 24th St., SF

(415) 826-3942

Beer & wine


A yikely story


› andrea@altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea:

I am a 26-year-old good-looking male living in New Jersey. I am very fond of scat play with females. I used to play with my own scat, but I always wish some female would play with me. Can you help me with that, please?


Scatman Wannabe

Dear Man:

Yeah, probably not.

I was changing the baby this morning when she started to whimper and fuss. "What’s the matter," I asked her, "Don’t like poop?"

"No," she said firmly. "Don’ yike it."

Let’s be honest; I don’t yike it either. The truth is, hardly anybody does yike it, and of those who do, most appear to be men. So every six months I get some variant of your question and every year or so I answer it. Like this: "Chances are you’re S.O.L. Sorry!"

There are a few women who will actively seek out scat play. They are, in both the Rick James sense and the strictly demographic one, superfreaks. If you moved to a major metro area and became involved with the S-M community, behaved well, and got invited to parties you might hear of one such woman, or perhaps — if you approach very carefully and are vewwy vewwy quiet — glimpse one in the wild. I can’t even promise that you’d meet her, and I certainly cannot guarantee that anyone you did meet would want to do her thing with you. This is not the sort of thing people just indiscriminately do with anyone who comes along. It’s kind of — and it pains me to say this, or to think about it in too much detail — intimate.

As with many other very rare, widely despised subspecialties, this is the sort of thing you’re probably going to have to pay for. You could find yourself a Strict German Goddess or some such who might consent to shit on you. On her terms. That just might have to be good enough for you, and it is surely going to cost you. Like I said: sorry!



Dear Andrea:

My boyfriend says his old girlfriend used to let him pee on her. I’m wondering why, and also if it’s safe. He says it’s sterile. Is it really? And what’s the deal with this? I can look it up, but I’m not sure I want to see what happens if I Google "pee on me."


Not Sure About This

Dear Sure:

Good thinking! Especially if it’s your work computer. Either way, Googling "piss play" or similar is probably a bad idea unless you’re quite sure you want to see what you’d see. Of course, it’s safer than "goatse" or "tub girl" or that guy who … never mind. Those sites kind of scarred me for life, and I wouldn’t wish similar on the unwary reader, so let’s just drop it.

I can’t answer "why" without knowing more about what the boyfriend and the ex were up to. You can piss on somebody with much sneering and attitude and be all dominant about it, but two people can also just play with pee because it’s there, with no greater meaning. You can splash it around, or aim it, or drink it, or make somebody else drink it but there’s no way to tell which they were doing without more info. On the subject of drinking it, though, it really is pretty clean, although I hesitate to use the word "sterile" since I’m a stickler and anything that’s touched the outside of somebody’s body is going to pick up some "body ash" (is there a skeevier phrase?) or dust or something. Plus there are many reasons that a spare blood cell or so might be floating around in there. But basically, yes, pee is remarkably clean.

Poo, of course, is remarkably dirty — it defines "dirty," really — and right there is your difference. It’s extremely unlikely you’re going to catch anything from pee. It doesn’t stain. If you’re healthy and hydrated and have avoided certain obvious food groups, it barely even smells. Social taboos aside, it’s pretty innocuous. The taboos are there, though, so in a way pee is a cheap thrill: it feels really dirty without being any dirtier, really, than a glass of drinking water, and in many cases it’s cleaner. The big thrill/low actual disgustingness quotient explains its relative popularity among "weird sex" types. It’s weird but not that weird.

None of this means, of course, that you have to let him pee on you. I’m not at all comfortable with a system where if Andrea says it’s not going to hurt you, you have to do it! You’re going to want to ask exactly what he and the ex were up to, what he got out of it, and, if possible, what she got out of it. As long as he’s willing to drop it if you’re not into it, though, what the heck? Maybe you’ll yike it, maybe you won’t.



Got a salacious subject you want Andrea to discuss? Ask her a question!

Also, Andrea is teaching! Contact her if you’re interested in (sex)life after baby classes. Her new blog is at www.gogetyourjacket.com, but don’t look there for the butt sex. There isn’t any.

‘He’s not going anywhere’


› gwschulz@sfbg.com

Minutes before two San Francisco police officers shot to death 25-year-old Asa Sullivan, their colleagues urged them to back off and call a hostage negotiator, newly released documents show.

Twice, cops on the scene suggested that officers Michelle Alvis and John Keesor back away from the Parkmerced attic where Sullivan was pinned down.

Recently released court records shed considerable new light on the June 6, 2006, shooting that ended with the unarmed Sullivan dead, his body raked by 16 bullets.

The records offer a narrative account of the early moments of an episode that’s taken a bizarre series of twists since Alvis and Keesor, saying they feared for their lives, killed the troubled young man who’d been working at Goodwill and had a young son.

The police communications log portrays a tense situation:

"Stand by, he’s gonna be a 148, stand by," San Francisco police officer Paulo Morgado says into his radio. Section 148 of the state Penal Code is radio vernacular for resisting arrest.

Moments pass before an unidentified officer makes an appeal over the air for a retreat. "Hey, why don’t we just pull back really quick, set up a perimeter, and just try to get him later?"

Instead, Alvis announces that she has Sullivan at gunpoint. "He’s not going anywhere," she says. He won’t show his hands or allow himself to be taken into custody, Alvis and Morgado say into their radios.

Minutes tick by. Sullivan is warned that a dog from the K-9 unit will bite him. Officer Erik Leung, on the floor below the attic, makes a second attempt at reason. "Why don’t we slow it down, see if we can get a hostage negotiator or something, because this guy’s not listening to us."

Then, "He has something under the insulation," a dispatcher types just as the K-9 unit arrives.

"Shots fired, shots fired!" yells Sgt. Tracy McCray. Alvis and Keesor empty their magazines, plugging as many as 26 rounds into the attic, with 16 hitting the target.

Sullivan had no gun, it turned out. An eyeglasses case was later found near his hip, but Alvis admits she didn’t wait to see what was in his right hand after Sullivan made a "sudden movement."


Reams of court records detailing the shooting became available earlier this month as evidence in a lawsuit filed by Sullivan’s family.

Early motions in the family’s federal suit, which names the city and county of San Francisco, Police Chief Heather Fong, and officers present when the shooting took place, were filed under seal. But some evidence previously marked confidential has emerged among publicly accessible court documents as the parties move toward an October trial date.

The records include transcripts of audio dispatch recordings, sworn depositions and declarations from the officers, reports from law enforcement policy experts, and photographs of the attic where the shooting occurred.

"The evidence is pretty strong [that] Asa did not point anything at the officers, that the officers had no reason to believe Asa was armed," the family’s Oakland lawyer, Ben Nisenbaum, told the Guardian.

A former deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department hired as a consultant by the family’s lawyers argues in a report filed with the court that the officers exacerbated the situation by using repeated sharp commands and didn’t rely on proper diffusing tactics with a subject they knew was distressed and had a diminished capacity. The attic placed them at a tactical disadvantage, and there’s no logical reason why the officers didn’t pull away from it, notes the report by consultant Lou Reiter.

"Their presence in the manner they chose to deploy it simply invaded the zone of safety for Sullivan," Reiter’s report states. "This is known to further agitate the subject in these types of police encounters. No one coordinated the efforts to enable the dispatch of negotiators, which would have been consistent with San Francisco Police Department General Order 8.02 Hostage and Barricaded Suspect Incidents."

Officers in the attic that night say Sullivan refused recurring instructions to show his hands and acted aggressively. They testified that he threatened violent resistance, telling them, "I’m not going back to jail," "Shoot me, I’m not coming out of here," and "Are you ready to earn your medal?" They say leaving the attic and taking their attention off Sullivan would have made them vulnerable.

The officers were also unaware at the time that Sullivan had a no-bail arrest warrant. There’s still a dispute today over what grounds the officers had at the time to effect an arrest of Sullivan, or why they believed there was sufficient cause to enter the apartment.

Alvis, a six-year veteran of the force, did not return a message left at her home. A police spokesperson, Sgt. Wilfred Williams, confirmed for the Guardian that officers Keesor and Alvis are still employed by the department but he couldn’t provide any additional details, calling them personnel-related. He also couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

Several local agencies conduct parallel investigations when a subject is killed by police officers, including the department’s homicide and internal affairs units, the District Attorney’s Office, and if prompted, the Office of Citizen Complaints, an independent body that responds to allegations made by civilians of excessive force and other police misconduct.

Those findings in the Sullivan killing had not been available previously under the California Public Records Act and local sunshine laws due in part to a state Supreme Court ruling issued in late 2006 that blocks an array of law enforcement records from disclosure, including those stemming from disciplinary investigations.


Officer Morgado arrived at the townhouse address of 2 Garces Drive at Parkmerced, near San Francisco State University, around 8:40 p.m. June 6 after a neighbor called to report that the front door was swinging open and that it was a possible "drug house."

The unit hadn’t exactly hosted any church youth groups in recent months. Two men on the lease had supposedly given notice to move out the prior winter but hadn’t left, and management was charging them month-to-month.

Kathleen Espinoza, Asa’s mother, told the Guardian her son was struggling to find a place to stay and went to 2 Garces after she moved to Los Angeles in search of a lower cost of living.

Friends and acquaintances drifted in and out of the townhouse; some frequently smoked pot and meth, according to the deposition of one man who stayed there. The neighbors complained to police. One tenant testified that just before the shooting, he fought with another Parkmerced resident who occasionally came around the townhouse. The man allegedly hurled a bicycle at him, slicing open his elbow. A white shirt was used to soak up the gushing blood and police who saw it hanging near the front door relied on the stained garment to justify entering the apartment to check on the welfare of the people inside.

As back-up units arrived, Sullivan’s friend, Jason Martin, was discovered in a locked second-floor bedroom and placed in handcuffs. Keesor heard shuffling coming from above them and says he saw debris flaking from a ceiling entrance to the attic.

Three officers climbed into the cramped, pitch-black space before drawing their guns on Sullivan. Only their flashlights enabled them to see the darkly clothed man who appeared to be hiding amid the blown-in insulation and between a pair of two-by-fours.

"Let’s give the dog a nice bite on this guy," one officer said over the radio after a K-9 unit was called. The group considered using a gun that shoots beanbags but decided against it, believing that the space was too small and that the weapon could kill Sullivan by accident.

Officer Keesor took the lead in talking to Sullivan. "I asked him what was going on. I asked him who he was. Questions along that line," Keesor recalled in a deposition.


Sullivan was responsive to most of the questions. He was sweating profusely, and the cops said they believed he was high on cocaine or meth. A medical expert later hired by his family’s lawyers testified that the amount of both substances found in his body through an autopsy were at very low levels and likely didn’t contribute to his behavior that night.

Sullivan did have a history of depression, and the consultant, Douglas Tucker, a psychiatry professor at UC San Francisco, described him as "an unhappy and volatile individual who acts impulsively." A man who stayed at the townhouse, David Russell, testified that Sullivan was quiet and wellmannered and excelled at chess.

What happened in the next few minutes is where the testimony conflicts.

Just as an officer announced over the radio that the K-9 unit had arrived, Alvis says Sullivan’s right arm moved suddenly. But the officer said she did not see his hands or arms outstretched or pointed at anyone. Morgado says he witnessed Sullivan’s right shoulder move, but never saw his hand come out of the insulation. Keesor, however, stated that Sullivan "punched his arms straight out and pointed an object, [a] long, black slender object, which at that moment I believed to be a gun, towards the direction of officer Alvis." The officers say their view of Sullivan was partially obscured by wide ducts passing through the attic.

Reached at his Bay Area home, Keesor declined to comment. "I can’t speak about this case, you know that," he said. A call to Matt Dorsey, spokesperson for the City Attorney’s Office, which is representing the officers, was not returned.

Nisenbaum says Keesor "is the only officer there who claims that Asa had anything in his hand," meaning a weapon.


Alexander Jason, a private crime scene analyst and former San Francisco patrol officer hired by attorneys for the city, contends the eyeglasses case may have been snapped shut, producing a sound interpreted as a gunshot. He also concluded that blood spatter on Asa’s right arm was consistent with his having stretched out his arm "as if aiming a gun."

But there was no gun, so it’s possible that one officer simply spooked another. "I heard gunfire and believed he was shooting at officer Alvis and I fired my weapon," Keesor testified. Bullets apparently pounded through the floor of the attic and narrowly missed an officer standing in the bathroom below Sullivan.

"At the end of the day, they’re looking for excuses," Nisenbaum said. "That’s all it is."

US District Judge Jeffrey White ruled Aug. 5 that there were enough unanswered questions for the case to be heard by a jury after both parties filed motions for summary judgment. The city has since taken that decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, meaning it may be well past October before a trial begins.

Asa’s mother, Kathleen Espinoza, says she has nothing against the police and that one of her close relatives works in law enforcement. "I’ve never been through something like this," Espinoza said. "I’ve never had anybody in my family die in such a horrible way. It’s been really hard. I’ve been on jury duty once in my life, when I was in college."

The funeral director told Espinoza he’d never seen a body in worse shape than Sullivan’s and that the reconstruction for an open-casket ceremony was tedious. Espinoza placed sunglasses on his face because his eyes were gone. She says Sullivan never wanted to die.

"I want Asa to be vindicated…. He never meant them any harm," she said.

The real crime issue in the Excelsior


OPINION There have been eight murders in the Excelsior in the past 120 days. And Sup. Gerardo Sandoval, who represents the area and is running for judge, has been the subject of press attacks for suggesting that gang injunctions in the Mission District may have driven crime into surrounding areas.

That debate misses the point.

Communities of color like the Excelsior have historically taken a back seat when it’s time for the city to fund programs for youth, crime prevention, and economic development. Yet these are the public investments we must make if we are to craft a long-term solution to the city’s crime problem.

To be fair, the city has started to invest in the Excelsior, and the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families has been supportive. But much work still remains — after all, the Excelsior has the most children and youth of any district in San Francisco. Working with Sandoval and other community leaders, the city remodeled the Excelsior branch library, and every park has a new children’s playground, a new play field or new recreation center, or is scheduled for upgrades. DCYF has also provided significant anchor funding for violence prevention, employment training/placement, and youth leadership development programs at the Excelsior Teen Center.

But the city is still not investing enough in our communities of color. When a 14-year-old boy was murdered recently on Persia Street, we had to rely on DCYF staff and the Mission District’s Community Response Network for assistance — partly because the city has not yet funded a similar network for the Excelsior. Had there been a similar emergency in the Mission, the MCRN would not have been able to provide vital services to that victim’s family.

That doesn’t mean an Excelsior CRN is the answer. But the demand for violence prevention and response programs is growing, leading successful organizations like the Mission YMCA and the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center’s Excelsior Teen Center to have to struggle harder for an ever-shrinking amount of city funding. What is the advantage of rebuilding a library or recreation center if we reduce funding for the services and programs those facilities provide?

The Police Department’s deployment of additional officers to the Excelsior in light of the recent surge in violent crime will help, as long as this strategy is coupled with an increase in funding for supportive services. Coordination between service providers and law enforcement — something we have modeled in Bernal Heights — has been successful in simultaneously reducing crime and reducing arrests. BHNC’s Youth Programs and Safety Network Organizer look forward to working with the Excelsior Action Group, the District 11 Council, the Filipino Community Center, Coleman Advocates, PODER, Sup. Sandoval’s office, and others to plan a town hall meeting at which the community will set priorities for short- and long-term action steps for residents, community-based services organizations, and city agencies so we can all work together toward an Excelsior that is a safe place for youth and families to live and thrive.

Joseph Smooke

Joseph Smooke is executive director of the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center.




This message is a reply to an editorial appearing in the Guardian, "Pelosi can’t duck the next Bush war," (8/20/08). In the editorial Rep. Nancy Pelosi sides with Republican and "bipartisan" House leaders to state that "in the strongest possible terms" that "the US is committed to Georgia’s absolute sovereignty [in that region of the world]."

Now, I always thought Pelosi had the common sensibility of a good San Fransisco liberal, but to side with Republican Reps. Roy Blunt and John Boehner is an alarming sign of poor judgment in character. And for her to imagine that the Soviet state of Georgia could any more be "sovereign" in that Russian region of the world is like imagining that that the US state of Georgia (or Oregon or Massachusets, etc.) could be "sovereign" in economic power over the United States simply because it had an oil port and was being extorted by a big foreign bully unafraid to pull the trigger. This battle is not about democracy and independence but about oil money and someone trying to steal another region’s resources.

I still love Nancy, though.

Tharon Chandler




Kimo Crossman:

Ethics and John St. Croix have gotten the SF Redaction Cancer — the exemption allowing redaction before online posting is limited to currently elected and appointed officials only.

We are talking about information commonly available in commercial mailing lists and the phone book/online search.

Imagine if the Elections Department refused to post contact information of nonincumbents running for office — people who choose to be public? Or you were prohibited from accessing home sales records from the Assessor-Recorder — because it has a street address. Or the large majority of court records online.

How would one easily confirm the number of homes John McCain has?


Terrrie Frye:

I am sure that when the city takes over what was the Marian Residence, it will not be as well run or treat the folks with as much dignity as I have heard about the Marian Residence. I am saddened by the loss. The city should keep it as a women’s shelter, just as it is, and put the respite beds at another location only for respite beds.


Chris Daly:

While there are currently four straight white men on the Board of Supervisors, it’s likely there will be only two next year. This is due to progressives’ strong candidates of color in this cycle. If progressives hold my seat in 2010, the Board could be down to one straight white man.

While there are only three female supervisors and few strong candidates in this cycle, the future of women at the Board is very bright. Debra Walker, Jane Kim, Christina Olague, Marie Harrison, Kim-Shree Maufas, Jaynry Mak, London Breed, April Veneracion, and Rachel Redondiez could each hold a seat in the next decade.


Due to a copy error, "The Circle Game: Parsing the return of the singer-songwriter" (8/20/08) inaccurately stated that Ruthann Friedmann is deceased; the singer-songwriter is very much alive.

The 8/20 Local Artist misidentified the school where Keith Rale received his BFA and MFA. Hale grduated from (and sometimes teaches at) San Francisco Art Institute.

The Guardian welcomes letters commenting on our coverage or other topics of local interest. Letters should be brief (we reserve the right to edit them for length) and signed. Please include a daytime telephone number for verification.

Corrections and clarifications: The Guardian tries to report news fairly and accurately. You are invited to complain to us when you think we have fallen short of that objective. Complaints should be directed to Paula Connelly, the assistant to the publisher. We’d prefer them in writing, but Connelly can also be reached by phone at (415) 255-3100. If we have published a misstatement, we will endeavor to correct it quickly and in an appropriate place in the newspaper. If you remain dissatisfied, we invite you to contact the Minnesota News Council, an impartial organization that hears and considers complaints against news media. It can be reached at 12 South Sixth St., Suite 1122, Minneapolis, MN 55402; (612) 341-9357; fax (612) 341-9358.

Reclaiming San Francisco — from cars


› news@sfbg.com

GREEN CITY On Sunday, Aug. 31, the Mayor’s Office and several community groups join forces to bring San Francisco into an international movement to increase physical activity, break down invisible borders, and make scenic space available to all during the city’s first ciclovia.

More than 4.5 miles of streets will be closed to cars that day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for Sunday Streets, the first of two ciclovias scheduled this summer. The idea of the ciclovia — which is Spanish for "cycle way" or "bike path" — was conceived in Bogotá, Colombia, during the mid-1990s and has since spread throughout the world.

The concept is to take existing roads — the province of cars — and turn them into temporary paths for walking, jogging, cycling, and other physical activity.

"I think it really helps us re-imagine our city streets as places of safe, non-auto physical activity," said Wade Crowfoot, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s director of global climate change. "From an environmental perspective, it’s time we re-imagine our space and our streets, and to make streets accessible to everyone."

The route extends from Bayview Opera House, up Illinois Street to the Embarcadero, along the waterfront, and across Washington Street into Chinatown. Five activity pods will feature dance classes, yoga, hopscotch, jump rope, and more, and participants are encouraged to explore as much of the route as they can. The Giants’ stadium will be open to pedestrians and bikers who want to run the bases, and event facilitators say they hope this 4.5-mile stretch will grow into something bigger.

"We hope this is just the beginning, and that it succeeds all over the city," said Andy Thornley, program director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

The man largely credited with starting the ciclovia is Gil Penalosa, who implemented the idea as Bogotá’s commissioner of parks and recreation in 1995. Penalosa now runs a nonprofit called Walk and Bike for Life that promotes the ciclovia and other forms of active living.

San Francisco’s event is modest: Bogotá closes off more than 80 miles of looping streets every Sunday and on holidays. More than 1.5 million people turn out each week, according to the Walk and Bike for Life Web site. Ottawa closes more than 30 miles of space on Sundays from May to September, and events have taken place all over Europe in addition to the American continents.

The ciclovia is also part of the car-free movement, an international effort to promote alternatives to car dependence and automobile-based planning.

Besides saving energy and promoting fitness, event planners at ciclovias in Bogotá noticed the events were causing a cultural shift. The Christian Science Monitor reported in an Aug. 18 article that residents from different neighborhoods began interacting as never before. Indian residents of poorer neighborhoods used to halt at the imaginary dividing lines of the more affluent European neighborhoods, and vice versa, but now people mingle freely.

San Francisco organizers hope to use Sunday Streets to create a similar effect here.

"We deliberately chose the route that connects the Bayview to Chinatown, two communities that are historically disconnected," said Susan King, the event’s organizer. "We want people to go to Hunters Point and Chinatown and see what’s out there, with the hope that people will see things they want to come back to."

King also noted that these two neighborhoods lack adequate open space. "We want people in those communities to experience what people who live adjacent to Golden Gate Park and the Presidio get to experience on a regular basis — an opportunity to exercise and not worry about getting hit by cars," King said.

Another international trend that Sunday Streets continues is the reclaiming of waterfront space. Tom Radulovich, executive director of Livable City, said he recently visited Vancouver and experienced its 28 miles of bicycle and pedestrian paths along the water. Paris also has a ciclovia every summer that closes a major expressway and creates a beachfront and promenade along the Seine.

"[The Embarcadero] — that big, dangerous roadway — cuts the city off from the waterfront," Radulovich said. "We want to think about the possibility of reclaiming the water space more successfully for San Franciscans."

One of the few voices of opposition to Sunday Streets came from a group of Pier 39 merchants who worried about the economic impact.

The Board of Supervisors voted Aug. 5 not to delay the event until an economic impact report had been released, but Crowfoot said traffic impact analyses will be done this weekend so that there will be better understanding of the impact of any future events. But many ciclovias have actually increased business because people are more prone to stop and look in stores when they walk by instead of just driving past them.

Editor’s Notes


› tredmond@sfbg.com

Suppose you don’t care about the war in Iraq. Suppose you have a secure job, and you aren’t in trouble with your mortgage, and don’t spend much time worrying about climate change. You’re thinking about No. 1, and that’s how you plan to vote.

Let me ask you a question:

Who’s more likely to cut your taxes — Barack Obama or John McCain?

If you figure that the heir to the Bush mantra — cut taxes, cut regulation, cut government programs (except for wars) — is the guy who will reduce your tax burden, try again.

I refer you to a very intelligent article by David Leonhardt in the Aug. 24 New York Times Magazine. Leonhardt is not a radical leftist, and he’s not an Obama campaign operative. He’s an economics columnist who has spent a lot of time trying to understand what both of the candidates are really proposing, and here’s his conclusion:

"Obama would not only cut taxes for most people more than McCain would. He would cut them more than Bill Clinton did and more than Hillary Clinton proposed doing."

Obama is offering big middle-class tax cuts, reductions that would actually put a lot more money in the pockets of the people who are most likely to need, and spend, that money. And he’d do it by raising taxes on the very tiny percentage of people who make very high incomes.

McCain loves to talk about tax cuts, but what he has in mind is cutting taxes on the 0.1 percent of earners who have average annual incomes of $9.1 million. Those people would pocket an additional $190,000 a year, which, frankly, would make absolutely no visible difference to their lives or lifestyles.

Obama would raise that group’s taxes by about $800,000 annually — which would also make absolutely no visible difference to their lives or lifestyles. As the Times notes, "The bulk of Obama’s tax increases on the wealthy — about $500,000 of that $800,000 — would simply take away Bush’s tax cuts. The remaining $300,000 wouldn’t nearly reverse their pretax income gains in recent years."

So when it comes to putting more money in your pockets — as the free-marketeers like to say, giving the middle class more cash to spend as it wants, thus stimuutf8g the economy — the Democrat is far, far ahead. And all he’s going to do is put the very rich back where they were a few years ago, which was, well, very rich.

This message isn’t getting out.

Part of the problem is that tax policy is complicated (Jesus, just look at all those numbers in the past few paragraphs); analyzing the competing tax plans can make my head hurt, and I love this stuff. Part of the problem is that the Obama campaign is leery of sounding too populist a note; class warfare makes people like me happy, but it doesn’t tend to win national elections. (Part of the problem is that a large percentage of middle-class Americans seriously believe they’ll be stinking rich someday, which is why lotteries make money.)

But the economy is gong to be the issue that decides this election, and the Democrats have to sell two messages. One, we’re better than the Republicans at managing economic policy (not hard, when you look at how the last GOP chief has handled things). And two, we know you’re hurting (Bill Clinton became president by feeling people’s pain) — and we’re going to make it better.

Do the math: under Obama, around 90 percent of the country would get an immediate raise. That might be worth mentioning in his acceptance speech.

Getting beyond JROTC


EDITORIAL The racial achievement gap is the most important issue in the School Board race, but JROTC is the most politically divisive. The ballot initiative that seeks to save the military recruitment program will be used to attack progressives, and there’s a real risk that San Francisco will wind up sending a terrible message to the rest of the country.

This madness needs to stop. The School Board needs an alternative to JROTC that includes all the elements that make the program attractive to kids and families, without the military baggage. The outlines of that sort of plan are being discussed widely, and there’s a fairly good consensus emerging about how such a program could be put together. The mayor, the supervisors and the school board ought to be working together, now, to make it happen.

The Junior Reserve Officer Training Program costs the San Francisco schools about $1 million a year, and it’s a bad way to spend the money. Pentagon officials are very clear about the purpose of high-school JROTC: it exists to lure young people into the military. Recruiters take full advantage of the opportunity — JROTC enrollees are barraged with pitches to join up, and even after they’ve left the program, the recruiters keep calling.

The queer community is properly angry about our local tax dollars going to encouraging kids to join the military at a time when the armed forces won’t allow lesbian or gay people to serve openly. But even after "don’t ask, don’t tell" is abolished, as it probably will be during the Obama administration, JROTC is the wrong sort of educational activity for San Francisco kids.

Supporters say the program offers leadership training and a sense of community — but if the best leadership and community building the San Francisco public schools can offer is through a program that instills the values of the Army, there’s something seriously wrong.

So the school board did the right thing in phasing out the program.

But right now, the only thing the district is offering as a replacement is an ethnic studies program — a wonderful and deserving part of the curriculum, but not one that carries the same qualities that made JROTC popular. The substitute for JROTC ought to have some physical elements, ought to involve special training — and be set up to lead toward public service careers that don’t involve enlisting in the armed services.

The idea that’s been floated out by numerous School Board candidates involves some sort of emergency-response training for students. The idea would be to teach kids how to handle the aftermath of a disaster, like a major earthquake: participants would learn CPR, first aid, emergency communications, search-and-rescue and other skills that not only will be useful, but critical when the inevitable quake hits. The Fire Department already runs a very successful citizen-based Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT), so the infrastructure is in place. The Police Department has a cadet program for high school graduates, and it could easily be adapted to train younger kids for emergency response duties.

The program would get students outside, involve physical exercise, and, yes, uniforms and badges (which the JROTC participants love). It could be a successful recruitment tool for careers in the Fire Department and Police Department (and since many of the JROTC kids come from communities of color, the result might be more diversity in those two agencies). We’d much rather see local kids encouraged to become cops than directed into the military.

There’s $1 million on the table. Mayor Gavin Newsom, to his shame, supports JROTC — but if the school board stands firm and the leading candidates make it clear that they will not go back on this decision, then there’s no reason the mayor, the police and fire commissions, NERT, and the school board can’t move forward — today — with a credible alternative that will take the political wind out of the issue. JROTC is, and ought to be, dead in San Francisco. It’s time to move on.

PG&E’s blank check


› amanda@sfbg.com

For a complete list (2.35 MB) of everyone who signed on to a PG&E-paid ballot argument and a full list of all of the individuals, companies, and nonprofits that get PG&E money every year, click here (Excel).

It’s Saturday morning, Aug. 23, and at the plumber’s union hall on Market Street, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. employees are leading a rally in opposition to San Francisco’s Clean Energy Act. A table at the back of the room sags with urns of coffee and uneaten pastries. To the side are towers of glossy black "Stop the Blank Check" window signs. E-mails sent by event organizers said Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Mayor Gavin Newsom were expected to attend, but so far, there’s no sign of either.

"On behalf of the men and women at PG&E, thanks for giving up your Saturday," PG&E vice president John Simon tells participants, who will be spending the afternoon walking San Francisco’s streets passing out No on Proposition H propaganda.

But the audience isn’t listening.

Most of the people packed into the room are Asian kids, giggling and chatting and ignoring the English-only presentation. One group of boys playfully pushes each other, accidentally bumping into some stage lighting and earning a reprimand from a rally organizer. The kids ignore him. I ask some of the young people if they’re with a school or club, or if they’re part of JROTC, which has an informational booth in the vestibule. They look at me blankly and turn away, muttering in Cantonese. I question a few others and get similar responses.

Outside, I find a young man who speaks English. He tells me the kids aren’t really here for the rally. "It’s just a job," he says. They’re getting $15 an hour to hang flyers on doorknobs — flyers that read "hand-delivered by a Stop the Blank Check Supporter."

The Committee to Stop the Blank Check is the official campaign committee fighting the Clean Energy Act, which will appear as Prop. H on the November ballot. The group, however, is funded by a blank check from PG&E.

"They’ve pledged enough to educate every voter in San Francisco," the committee’s campaign manager, Eric Jaye, told the Guardian at the Saturday rally.

It’s no surprise that the campaign workers are paid for by PG&E — in fact, just about everyone who has come out against Prop. H seems to be getting money from the utility.

The Clean Energy Act sets ambitious goals for moving the city into renewable energy — goals that go far beyond current state mandates. It also calls for a study into San Francisco’s energy options and authorizes the city to issue revenue bonds to buy or build energy facilities.

An investigation into the elected officials, committees, and groups that oppose Prop. H shows cash from PG&E in nearly every coffer.

The official ballot argument against the Clean Energy Act is signed by Feinstein, Newsom, and three supervisors initially appointed to the board by the mayor: Michela Alioto-Pier, Carmen Chu, and Sean Elsbernd.

Feinstein’s loaded with PG&E money. Since 2004, Feinstein has received $15,000 in direct contributions from PG&E, according to OpenSecrets.org. More significant, perhaps, is that Feinstein’s husband, Richard Blum, serves as chairman of the board of CBRE, a real estate firm that did $4.8 million in business with PG&E in 2007, according to an annual report the utility files with the state of California.

Campaign finance disclosure statements from Feinstein state that her husband receives fees and income from CBRE, and has $250,000 and $500,000 in investment holdings.

Feinstein’s spokesperson, Scott Gerber, said there was no conflict of interest. But Citizens for Responsibility in Ethics spokesperson Naomi Seligman added, "The ethics rules are so incredibly narrow that unless Senator Feinstein was pushing or voting for something that would impact only Mr. Blum, it doesn’t count as a conflict."

Still: Feinstein’s getting cash directly from PG&E, and then doing the company’s political bidding.


Newsom, who has won campaigns with PG&E’s financial support in the past, is hosting a party called "Unconventional ’08" in Denver this week. Guess who’s one of the three listed sponsors? PG&E. (The other two are AT&T and the carpenter’s union.) And, of course, the person running Newsom’s campaign for governor is PG&E’s main man, Eric Jaye.

Sups. Alioto-Pier and Elsbernd? Both had PG&E money shunted through independent expenditure committees. Sup. Chu is currently running to keep her seat in District 4.

Former Mayor Willie Brown tops the list of endorsers on Committee to Stop the Blank Check’s Web site. PG&E paid Brown $200,000 in consulting fees during 2007.

Neither Brown nor PG&E returned calls for comment and clarification on what exactly Brown’s consulting involves, or how much he’s getting this year.

Of the 30 paid ballot arguments that will be listed in November’s Voter Information Pamphlet, PG&E bought 22 of them — many for well-funded organizations like the Bay Area Council, Golden Gate Restaurant Association, and the Republican Party that could presumably pay for their own $2-per-word screeds against the measure.

The arguments all make the same points and parrot the same PG&E lines.

Jaye said that ballot arguments were routinely paid for by other entities, and of the groups that have healthy bank accounts, he said, "We’d rather those groups invest their money in capacity building for November."

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, the Building Owners and Managers Association, and Plan C all paid for their own ballot arguments. In 2007 the Chamber received more than $350,000 from PG&E in the form of dues and grants. BOMA got a $26,500 grant from the utility company, which also hired the outfit for almost $100,000 worth of consulting work. Plan C’s Political Action Committee regularly receives deposits from PG&E during election season.

Other entities that signed arguments paid for by PG&E include: the San Francisco police and firefighter unions, which are constantly asking the city for more money (and now oppose a potential revenue source); the Asian Pacific Democratic Club; the Small Business Network; the Rev. Amos Brown, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Paying for their own No on H arguments: former San Francisco Public Defender and California Public Utilities Commission member Jeff Brown, the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, BART board member James Fang, and prominent small businessowner Harold Hoogasian.

PG&E spends millions each year on consultants — and at campaign time, that money turns into political support.

"PG&E’s philanthropy has been paying off into manipuutf8g a network of supporters who believe [Prop. H] is going to do something adverse to their interest when in reality it’s not," said Sup. Ross Mirkarimi.

Money isn’t everything for some organizations. Oakland’s Ella Baker Center for Human Rights received a $10,000 grant from PG&E in 2007. Cofounder Van Jones has endorsed the Clean Energy Act.

There’s no paper trail for how much PG&E has spent to date on this campaign and the utility will be free to spend money without scrutiny until Oct. 6, when the first financial statements related to the November election are due at the Ethics Commission.


But PG&E can’t buy everyone — and the coalition supporting the Clean Energy Act is large, broad, and growing.

Prop. H has been endorsed by eight of the city’s 11 supervisors, Assemblymembers Fiona Ma and Mark Leno, and environmentalist and author Bill McKibben. Groups with a variety of different interests, like the League of Conservation Voters, the SF Democratic Party, SEIU 1021, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, and the Senior Action Network also have given it a green light.

"I think the coalition for it is a much broader coalition than has been for it in the past," said Susan Leal, former head of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, who supports Prop. H. "Because of that, PG&E has ramped up the campaign and put a lot more money into it than in the past."

Mirkarimi, who authored the measure, called the early phone banking, mailers, and door knocking a "signature blitzkrieg campaign," similar to what he witnessed as the manager of the 2001 public power measure that also raised PG&E’s ire — and which lost by about 500 votes. "That’s why PG&E is working so hard now. We were so close in 2001."

John Rizzo of the Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club said his group has already committed money and people to walk districts. But he noted that he has already seen Committee to Stop the Blank Check signs posted in windows on the west side of the city. "We expected it," he said of the resources PG&E has spent to date. "The only thing they have is money."

Rizzo said the Sierra Club has endorsed past public power measures and considers this an environmental issue. "We are finding it’s a pretty broad coalition of folks who might not be together on an environmental issue. The San Francisco Women’s Political Committee PAC just recommended endorsing it to their membership, and that’s not normally an environmental group — though they are a good group."

Leal says the Clean Energy Act really transcends arguments against public power. "I’m mystified why people would not be on board for something that’s cleaner and cheaper," said Leal. "I think I know why a number of others have gotten on board. They recognize that this is the path to clean energy for power."

Jaye wouldn’t assign a specific dollar amount to how much the company is willing to spend to defeat the measure — but he made it clear that there are no limits: "It could take $1 million, it could take $5 million." In 2006, when public power was on the ballot in Yolo County, PG&E spent almost $10 million keeping the 77,000 customers they would have lost to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. The measure lost by one percentage point.

Jaye, who also manages Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign, is quick to point out that the committee has already received 12,000 signed cards of support. Still, he said, they weren’t asking for money from these potential campaign donors "because we have significant and sufficient resources pledged from PG&E."

Fall Arts Preview 2008


> johnny@sfbg.com

I don’t know about you, but I hear something is happening in early November. Since I can’t quite identify exactly what it is, let’s focus on all the events around it this fall — especially the spaces on stages and screens and pages and in museum and gallery rooms.

A little birdie tells me this fall will be propagandized, rather than purely politicized, into infinity. In times like these, it helps to have art that finds a realm outside the false promises, a place from which to look back at our society — including the politicians who try to rule it — and say: you better perform!

That’s the case this week’s fab four cover stars, Guillermo Gómez Peña, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, JoAnn Selisker, and Tim Sullivan. This quartet of singular creative forces is united in using imaginative performance to reject inhibiting norms.

Gómez Peña and his group La Pocha Nostra are bringing Mapa/Corpo 3 — an interactive ritual involving "political acupuncture" that was banned in the United States for three years — to Theater Artaud as part of Litquake and the Living Word Festival. At SF Camerawork, they’ll also be trying out what they call performance karaoke, which is sort of an aesthetic, political, and ethical update on the popular game Twister. There, they are part of "I Feel That I Am Free But I Know I Am Not," an extended exhibition (curated by Chuck Mobley) that also includes some live video by Sullivan, whose photographic and video work looks at everyday imagery and familiar pop iconography from new and sometimes hilarious angles.

New views of everyday pop banality are also JoAnn Selisker’s forte. Presented by Litquake and ODC, her latest piece, Off Leash: Who’s a Good Girl? uses text and dance to explore the relationship between dogs and their best frenemy, humans. Everything goes full circle with Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore — you can see some of Gómez Peña’s flair for radical sexual and political performance in his past activism with Gay Shame, and like Sullivan and Selisker, his image doesn’t come from Macy’s. In his new novel, So Many Ways to Sleep Badly (City Lights, 256 pages, $15.95), he shows readers a San Francisco that Frommer’s doesn’t know about.
This fall, Gómez Peña, Bernstein Sycamore, Selisker, and Sullivan are just part of a blitz that’s bringing everything from multiple Chinese art exhibitions and film programs to the premiere of Gus Van Sant’s Milk. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy season.

>>Connect four
Cover stars: A quartet of our favorite artists and performers sounds off

>>Diverse moments
Dance: Highlights run from modern to the Bard
By Rita Felciano

>>Curtain calls
Stage: Theater gets political, playful, potent
By Robert Avila

>>Vizzy with the possibilities
Visual Art: We scope out the promising shows
By Katie Kurtz, Kimberly Chun, and Johnny Ray Huston

>>Sino the times
Visual Art: Bay Area museums and galleries home in on Asia
By Glen Helfand

>>Olympic disc toss
Music: Will these new music releases go far or fall flat?
By Kimberly Chun and Johnny Ray Huston

>>Stage names
Concerts: Got live if you want it — and you do
Johnny Ray Huston and Kimberly Chun

>>“Daughter” goes to the opera
Classical: Amy Tan revamps her bestseller. Plus, more classical picks
By Ching Chang

>>Forecast: blackout
Clubs: The season’s prime parties offer plenty to fall down about
By Marke B.

>>Autumn reels
Film: 10 big-screen release dates to remember — for better and worse
By Cheryl Eddy

Film: 50 ways to rep film this fall
By Johnny Ray Huston

>>Notes of a dirty old man
Lit: Or, a portion from a wine-stained notebook
By Charles Bukowski

More festive events than you can shake a bare tree at
By Duncan Scott Davidson, Kat Renz, and Ian Ferguson

Epic Roasthouse


› paulr@sfbg.com

For bay views, it’s hard to beat Epic Roasthouse, the Pat Kuleto and Jan Birnbaum collaboration that opened in January along the Embarcadero at the foot of Folsom Street. Over the past decade or so, the Embarcadero has become something of a paradise regained: down came the earthquake-damaged freeway, in went the streetcar lines, up went the ballpark, along came the Ferry Building food Valhalla, and suddenly the waterfront, once an isolated wasteland, became a gorgeous urban amenity.

Epic Roasthouse and its next-door neighbor, Waterbar, are among the gaudier jewels in this crown, and certainly the views they command, of the water and the far shore, with the Bay Bridge soaring through the ether like a steel rainbow, are unmatched. But they are, alas, reserved to patrons, while strollers along the public esplanade outside now find their own views blocked for the length of two sizable buildings. I have often noticed a similar phenomenon at Lake Tahoe, much of whose scenic shoreline was apparently sold to the highest bidders, so what might and maybe should have been a public asset is now largely walled off by the private homes of the rich. Or, as a friend said as we waited … and waited … for the Epic Roasthouse service staff to bring us menus, "This place should never have been built here."

But it was, and the building is quite splendid in its way. The interior reminds me of the big dining room in the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park (which, with its wooden beams and huge stone fireplace, would have made an excellent Hall of Fire in the House of Elrond, I thought) — distinguished mainly by faux-industrial details like big ducts and valve wheels. There’s even a homey hearth on one side of the main dining room. For a Kuleto restaurant design, this is all tastefully restrained, if artificial, since the building is utterly new and has no past.

From its first days, Epic Roasthouse seemed to function smoothly, which made me wonder about the prolonged wait for menus — and an equally prolonged wait for bread and water — on a more recent visit. The breads, when they finally arrived, were interesting enough to allay some irritation: a torpedo of savory-sweet cornbread, a cheese puff, a slice of sourdough, one each for everybody at the table. But it wasn’t as if the breads had been baked especially for us and rushed to the table still warm. Like the menus, their path was a desultory one.

The restaurant has a warm, understated glamour I associate with places such as one might find in Aspen, and the prices are Aspen-like. The hamburger, for example, is $25 and is very good. A side tray of goodies, including bacon bits, sautéed mushrooms, and whole-grain mustard, suggests an attempt to add value, which implies a certain awareness on the restaurant’s part that value is an issue. It is. Most of the starters and small plates are priced in the teens, while the main dishes rise quickly through the $20s into the $30s and even $40s. Of course many of us are aware that inflation, having been subdued for a generation, is once again a powerful reality. Food costs a lot more than it did just a few years ago, and the kind of food Epic Roasthouse serves, heavy on the meat and dairy, particularly costs a lot these days.

Still, prices at these levels catch your attention. And while you can pay as much or more at lots of places around town now, the issue, properly framed, is whether the food is good enough, the wider experience exhilarating enough, to justify the price. Some very expensive restaurants are worth the coin. Epic Roasthouse is handsome and luxurious-looking, and the food is quite good. It’s about as transit-friendly as a Bay Area restaurant can be. And yet, and yet …

I liked my maple-glazed pork porterhouse steak ($26), I must say, in part because of its awesome size. The meat itself was overcooked and a little tough, though still juicy; it was seated on a pad of whipped potatoes, topped with purple-pink shreds of pickled cabbage, and napped with a startlingly good coffee-bean sauce. For absurdly sentimental reasons, I almost never eat pork and regard it as a huge treat when I do, but this was a pork dish that would have been competitive even without the meat.

The fancy burger was a little dry — wonderfully consoling bun, though — while the macaroni and cheese ($9), served in what looked like a small paella pan, was runny. Caesar salad ($10) featured romaine spears of a crispness that would have passed a military inspection, with plenty of whole, plump anchovy filets thrown in. Duck rillettes ($13) arrived in what looked like a small ossuary; the shredded meat was a little too cold to be fully flavorful but was spread easily enough (with dabs of whole-grain and Dijon mustard) over grilled bread spears. Soft-shell crab ($18): deep-fryer crispy, with a gigantic carbon footprint. If there is a signature dessert, it’s probably the beignets ($10), a slew of football-shaped doughnuts dusted with confectioner’s sugar and suitable for dunking in a tall glass of bicerin café au lait, a potentially addictive combination of coffee, chocolate, and steamed milk.

Restaurants with views are reliable producers of oohs and aahs — not to mention, presumably, revenue — and no restaurant in town has a more impressive view than Epic Roasthouse. The question is whether that view is worth paying (a lot) for, or maybe whether some views should, after all, be free.


Dinner: nightly, 5:30–10:30 p.m.

Lunch: Mon.–Fri., 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.

Brunch: Sat.–Sun., 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m.

369 The Embarcadero, SF

(415) 369-9955


Full bar


Muffled noise

Wheelchair accessible



PREVIEW For one reason or another, you still need to have a pipeline into the "ethnic" dance community to find Latino choreographers, and so far few contemporary choreographers have emerged from their midst. That said, the first San Francisco performance by Los Angeles–based CONTRA-TIEMPO, at the very least, promises a glance at how young Latinos see themselves in a contemporary urban context. Like her older counterpart Merian Soto on the East Coast, Ana Maria Alvarez is fascinated with salsa as an expression of Latino identity. A 2005 performance of the company’s signature piece Against the Times/CONTRA-TIEMPO, inspired by salsa’s inherent rhythmic contradictions, presented an ensemble in which the women were as likely to lead as the men. This signature piece is both an edgy examination of what Alvarez has called a look at "the complexity of resistance and struggle for Latinos in the United States" and a joyous celebration of community. Included in the sound score are voice-over quotes by the likes of César Chávez, Che Guevara, José Martí, Pablo Neruda, and Gabriela Mistral. The show opens with CONTRA-TIEMPO’s newest company work, I Dream America (2007), a 40-minute "movement opera" inspired by Langston Hughes. The piece looks at tensions between African Americans and Latinos. Also included is a pure salsa piece, Alba Ache (2007), for two couples: one on screen, one on stage.

CONTRA-TIEMPO Fri/29–Sat/30, 8 p.m., $25. CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF. (415) 626-2060, www.counterpulse.org