Volume 43 Number 19

Concrete plans


› sarah@sfbg.com

In the fractious atmosphere that dominates meetings concerned with Lennar’s plan to redevelop the economically depressed southeast sector of San Francisco, reality is relative to one’s perspective on this ambitious project.

At these meetings, competing factions within the Bayview’s predominantly African American community typically accuse each other — as well as the mostly white engineers, planners, and scientists that Lennar and the city hired to flesh out the details of their vaguely worded but voter-approved conceptual framework — of being sellouts and traitors.

The Jan. 28 meeting, where two local advisory committees endorsed Lennar’s draft urban design plan for a 770-acre Candlestick Point/Hunters Point Shipyard development, was typical. It was held at the Southeast Community Facility, within sniffing distance of a seismically suspect sewage treatment plant.

The committee’s endorsement came at the end of a meeting that was full of what critics labeled "disingenuous claims" by representatives from Lennar, the Mayor’s Office, the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, and the city’s Planning Department; recriminatory accusations by community members; and disruptive chants of "A-B-Uuuu!" by a female member of Aboriginal Blackmen United, who claimed that ABU members have been starved for work at Lennar’s development. Records show Lennar paid ABU trainees $11,300 in fiscal year 2005–06 for work at the Shipyard’s Parcel A.

Fanning the flames was a report that local environmental nonprofit Arc Ecology released last month. Arc’s report faults Lennar’s urban design plan for not including comparisons with realistic alternatives and for failing to study the cumulative impact of the 15 developments, covering 1,500-2,000 acres, currently underway on the eastern waterfront.

"The practice of ‘island’ development prevents the city from conceiving a cohesive vision for the east waterfront," Arc Ecology’s January 15 report states. "Moreover, the piecemeal approach cannot adequately address the practical consequences of the addition of 50,000 new residences to the area."

Noting that Lennar’s proposal calls for a 60 percent increase in the neighborhood’s population as more than 20,000 new residents join the 33,000 people who already live in the neighborhood, Arc’s report lists alternatives that "would strengthen the economic, social and environmental benefits, while avoiding and reducing some significant impacts."

Financed by a California Wellness Foundation grant, Arc’s report stressed that it does not disagree with the stated objectives of Lennar’s development plan as laid out in Proposition G, which voters approved in June. In fact, the organization did little to voice its concerns before the election.

But the report has ruffled the feathers of city leaders, who seem hell-bent on moving the project forward and applying for funding from the federal economic stimulus package. The report calls for a focus on doing "bottom-up" ecological planning, creating real economic opportunities for the Bayview community, relocating the proposed football stadium, and removing the shipyard’s highly contaminated Parcel E2 from the project.

Noting that Lennar’s environmental impact report has yet to be completed, and that there has been no time to study Arc’s report, Citizens Advisory Committee member Scott Madison argued that delaying the endorsement would have no impact on Lennar’s home building or job creation schedule. "It’s not going to slow down anyone getting a job by even one day if we take a few days," Madison said. "But once we approve this — even a draft, even if folks are amenable to some changes — it has a certain kind of semi-concrete to it that’s difficult to chip away."

CAC member Diana Oertel voiced her objections to Lennar’s plan to divide the 170-acre Candlestick Point State Recreation Area, the Bayview’s only large open space that provides a place for recreation and an escape from urban living. "It’s not acceptable to me to see that area cut in half, gentrified, prettified, with housing going to edge of the park," Oertel said.

Project Area Committee member Leon Muhammad said there was no way the urban design plan should be endorsed "until we have addressed all the issues, until they come up with a complete plan that makes sense, not a half-baked plan."

But then PAC member Cedric Jackson asked to hear from folks in the audience who were hungry for jobs — at which point ABU folks yelled and raised hands. "I saw 80 percent of the community stand up and say, move this process forward," Jackson then asserted. "In 2000, we were 70 percent of the community, now we’re less than 50 percent. There is an out-migration and it’s not because we don’t like San Francisco, but we’re being forced out economically. So the longer you delay, the less of us will be there, especially with the economic conditions we’re facing."

Seconded by PAC member Gary Banks, Jackson moved to endorse Lennar’s draft design plan as-is, with only PAC members Muhammad and Kristine Enea, and CAC members Oertel, Madison, and Carmen Kelley dissenting.

Reached after the meeting, ARC Ecology’s Saul Bloom acknowledged that many of the problems people face in the Bayview are related to "tension over jobs." Yet he was surprised by the strong-arm tactics by proponents of a project that won’t generate jobs for at least another year.

"There’s this blind panic, this belief that if you hold up anything, you are going to stop the whole plan," Bloom told the Guardian. He hopes that now that the vote has passed, the city and Lennar will make good on verbal promises, made before and during the Jan. 28 meeting, to review Arc Ecology’s report.

"As Scott Madison pointed out, if we’d listened to these same we-have-to-vote-yes-now voices the last time around, when we were asked to endorse Phase A, we’d never have gotten the community-benefits program," Bloom said, adding that many of the current committee members are new and inexperienced. "So it’s hard for them to see through the rhetoric and pain."

"None of us want to derail the plan," continued Bloom, whose group also receives funding from the SFRA, which is overseeing the project. "What incentive do we have? Do we want to piss off the developers, contractors, and commissioners when our contract is up?"

"The city is under the impression that there is a broad base of support for this project, by virtue of Prop. G," Bloom said. "But they are unaware of the depth of dissatisfaction citywide with this project. People are saying, ‘this is insane.’<0x2009>"

Bloom believes ARC’s report raised the ire of city leaders because they feared it would fall into the wrong hands and be used in a political campaign. "But I believe the city has let the community down by not facilitating a dialogue," Bloom observed.

In addition to questions about location of the stadium, the design of the park, the bridge over Yosemite Slough, and plans to cap a radiologically impacted landfill on Parcel E2, Bloom says the hidden story in all of this is the "unstudied cumulative impacts of the all the city’s development projects on the eastern waterfront."

Together, these projects will create 30,000 new units and attract 50,000 new residents, with Lennar’s CP/HPS development creating 10,500 units, 75 percent of which are slated to sell at market-rate prices, with condos beginning at the $500,000 mark.

"Lennar can’t possibly think they can build this number of houses and sell them at these prices, at least not for the next four years," Bloom said. "The city should have had a public dialogue about the stadium options instead of pulling a plan directly off the shelf that a reliable stadium development firm did. They say they’ve studied all these other options, but where are the studies?"

Bloom notes that Prop. G was not a mandate to build a bridge over Yosemite Slough, and that the city is currently miscounting the parks and open space acreage.

"You wonder why people have no faith," Bloom said. "To whom did the city make the overwhelming case about the park, or about putting a bridge over the slough? It seems their attitude was, ‘Bayview is a crummy neighborhood, so let’s bulldoze and rebuild it,’ whereas we look at the park and say it’s a promise unfulfilled."

He believes that Arc’s recommendation to remove Parcel E2 is a no-brainer: "You are protecting public health and the environment, creating jobs that help people pay their mortgages, and you are making the property more marketable, so value increases."

With the city having publicly committed to reviewing Arc’s material, Bloom is hopeful that the city will put the results of that study into the EIR. "We are not promoting any particular outcome," Bloom said, observing that if Lennar builds 10,000 units, BVHP will no longer be a predominantly African American neighborhood. "We are trying to be the entity that raises the difficult questions that people in city have felt, but [have] been afraid to voice, because they fear those questions will be used to stop the project in its entirety."

Reached by phone, Michael Cohen of the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development noted that Lennar’s draft urban-design plan was completed five months ago, has been vetted extensively, and now includes 32 specific modifications based on those hearings.

"These are issues that will be addressed further," Cohen said of Arc’s report. "Some are infeasible, based on extensive technical studies. But we believe that if there is a stadium, it’s in absolutely the right position and that ARC doesn’t have an alternative plan. They haven’t done the necessary studies and they haven’t presented alternative plans that actually work."

As for Arc’s contention that Parcel E2 could be dug up and hauled out, Cohen notes that the city is in a legally binding agreement with the United States Navy, which is obligated to clean up the shipyard to a standard consistent with the city’s intended use. "We don’t control what the remedy is…. [If state and federal environment regulators] say the Navy has got to dig and haul so we can safely use it as a waterfront park, then that’s what they’ll do."

Cohen insisted that the Alice Griffith public housing project will be rebuilt, whether the 49ers stay or not, and that Lennar’s project will invest $10 million to turn "a grossly underused state park into a site comparable to Crissy Field."

Green Chile Kitchen


› paulr@sfbg.com

You would expect that a restaurant with "green chile" in its name would serve at least one memorable dish with green chiles, and Green Chile Kitchen does. In fact, the restaurant serves a host of memorable dishes (some with green chiles, many others without) and, because it’s in the middle of NoPa rather than at, or just past, the edge of it, Green Chile could be the best restaurant in NoPa. Much would depend on our understanding of NoPa: region with definite borders or state of mind?

This is the sort of question some of us occasionally mull with respect to Mexico. There is, or was, Old Mexico, whose reach extended all the way up the Pacific Coast to the Strait of Juan de Fuca (near Seattle), and there was (and is) New Mexico, one of the Lower 48. The boundaries of Mexico have long been hazy; a legal border has existed since the end of the 1848 war (a good account of how it was drawn can be found in Daniel Walker Howe’s What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848), but, as travelers through the Southwest can attest, the reality is far more zonal and interesting.

Green Chile Kitchen serves a good deal of what the menu describes as "New Mexican" food, and much of this seems Mexican, or Mexicanish, with Indian and desert overtones: salsas and guacamole, tortilla chips made from blue corn, and pinto beans. The restaurant opened about three years ago in a location easily reached by USF students and Haightsters, and it strikingly combines elements of college-town café and stylish restaurant. You order at the counter and carry a numbered plastic doodad to your table so the service staff can find you, and while you wait you admire the soaring ceiling, the burnished wood trim, and the pale sage paint scheme. Full table service would seem to be about a half baby step away, but maybe the current arrangement provides some real savings. Even given the kitchen’s emphasis on organic ingredients, the prices are surprisingly gentle.

There is no better deal to be had on Green Chile Kitchen’s menu than the green chile stew ($4.50/cup, $6.95/bowl). The scale isn’t quite that of a typical pho at a Vietnamese restaurant, but it’s considerable, and the stew itself is an impressive, faintly smoldering collection of green chile strips, chunks of slow-roasted Niman Ranch pork, quartered potatoes, and bits of tomato in a clear, even-tempered broth. The broth (vegetable, I thought) was key; it didn’t add as much flavor as an animal-based stock might have, but, like subtly textured white walls in a museum, it let the main ingredients be heard without completely disappearing itself.

If you pine for the modesty of Fresca or Limon in their earliest incarnations, you will thrill to GCK’s rotisserie chicken (made with Fulton Valley birds). A half-chicken dinner costs $10.95; the bird is rubbed with your choice of herbed citrus or green chile and is served with blue-corn chips, Spanish rice, beans (pinto, black, or refried), and calabacitas, a succotash-like jumble of green and yellow squash cubes, corn kernels, and bits of green chile. The chicken itself was expertly cooked, the dark meat done through while the white meat remained juicy. That is the test of all roast chicken. The party of the second part did register some mild disappointment with the pinto beans, which were thought to be underpowered. A jolt of some blood-red salsa helped bring them back into trim.

I was slightly disappointed in the quesadilla ($3.50), which combined jack and cheddar cheeses to colorful effect but suffered from a dry and brittle tortilla. And the starters offered what little sticker shock there is to be found on the menu. The plato de aperitivos cost $11.95, and while it was full of bright variety — from a pair of tamales to a crock of pristine guacamole to a quartet of salsas and a heap of blue-corn chips to dip in them — the price seemed a little high for what was, after all, mostly starch, indeed mostly corn.

Still, the salsas were excellent: a tour de force of salsa-making. There was the regular tomato kind (seemingly darkened and deepened by roasting), a smooth-tart, pale-green blend of avocado and tomatillo, a pico de gallo, and — the standout — a habañero number the color of lobster bisque, with a hint of citrus fruitiness mixed in to temper some of the high heat. (Habañeros can be quite deadly to the tongue in their pure, untempered form.) When we wearied of using these salsas to coat chips, we started spooning them over the rice and beans and the forlorn quesadilla to pleasing effect.

In the evenings, the people come and go, talking of … well, probably not Michelangelo so much as takeout, which appears to be an appreciable part of the business. (So are breakfast and lunch services.) The clientele tilts toward hip-looking youth, although older people are not unrepresented and we even noticed what seemed to be a family grouping: a set of parents in late middle age and their young-adult children, everyone eating and happy in one another’s company, as if on a sitcom from the 1950s. Not many restaurants are able to cast so wide a net. Green Chile Kitchen, by serving distinctive, carefully made food in an attractive setting at a moderate cost, manages to appeal simultaneously to the price-conscious, setting-conscious, and quality-conscious constituencies. And for those of us who have finger in each of those pies — or stews — the word can only be jackpot.


Sun.–Thurs., 9 a.m.–-9:30 p.m.; Fri.–Sat., 9 a.m.–10 p.m.

601 Baker, SF

(415) 614-9411


Beer and wine



Wheelchair accessible

It’s a living?


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

REVIEW Amid worsening violence between their respective Sunni and Shia communities, even old friends Adnan (Bobak Cyrus Bakhtiari) and Laith (Amir Sharafeh) are prone to argue along sectarian lines. But these squabbles are more than offset by a dire mutual predicament: as Iraqi translators working for the U.S. occupation in Baghdad, Adnan and Laith live as persons "in between," precariously balanced between glib and suspicion-prone American employer and outraged fellow citizen alike. Along with Green Zone coworker Intisar (Denmo Ibrahim), who as an Iraqi woman eschewing hijab and working for the Americans earns special disfavor with many countrymen, they risk being labeled traitors and becoming friendless targets of a ruthless insurgency. At the same time, they find the American bureaucracy less than willing to help, whether by upgrading their security clearances or, when all is lost, providing them asylum in the United States. Fortunately, there is one "good" American — isn’t there always? — who goes to bat for them, in this case a young information officer named Prescott (Alex Moggridge), whose strenuous efforts achieve mixed but significant results.

If you pretend it’s actual news, journalist and author George Packer’s first play, Betrayed, might at least have the merit of bringing us something we didn’t know already about the "situation" in Iraq, as it is still so often called. But who will be surprised to learn that Iraqis working for the extremely unpopular U.S. forces find themselves in a terrible double bind? Or that the American occupation seems lacking in its will to address its moral, let alone legal, obligations to the people it has invaded and made more desperate than ever?

Based on Packer’s 2007 New Yorker article of the same name, Betrayed seeks to put a human face on such in-between persons, and Aurora’s West Coast premiere, helmed by Robin Stanton, does a reliable and respectful job of rendering the action. There are moments of convincing dramatic tension, including Ibrahim’s affecting monologue about her life, relayed to an unseen reporter, and a confrontation between Laith and a harrying Regional Security Officer, played with credible aggression and conviction by James Wagner.

Still, it all feels less like urgent news than a somewhat wooden and familiar form of special pleading. Beneath its critical take on the American "mission" — truly a neat word for it — Betrayed puts Iraqi voices in the service of that other insular project: that of redeeming the myth of American moral superiority, even while chastising the failings of the George W. Bush–era government and foregrounding the play’s composite but real-life Iraqi protagonists. Thus, Betrayed‘s last lines go to Adnan, now a refugee, who rejects the accusation in the play’s title, confessing to a natural lack of faith in people while somewhat contradictorily continuing to "dream about America."

You have to wonder, did the Romans need to be liked this much?


Through March 1

Wed.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; $28–$50

Aurora Theatre

2081 Addison, Berk.

(510) 843-4822


Ode to Joy


REVIEW Sean Dorsey’s new Lou is a gem. Deeply felt, splendidly shaped, Dorsey’s most ambitious project yet tells a tale of vulnerability, passion, joy, and transcendence. It’s the story of one human being: transgendered writer, lover, and poet Lou Sullivan, who died in 1991. Dorsey, who was born a woman and lives as a man, used Sullivan’s extensive archives to create a portrait of a man who had the bravery and persistence to do what he thought was right, not only for him but others. Isn’t that what the mythic heroes used to do — slay the dragons within and without? Yet an important story does not necessarily translate into good dance or theater. Lou, however, is very good.

Dorsey framed the story within the larger current debate on history. The scholar, politician, or family record keeper who gets to tell the story, or as Dorsey put it, build the "house" that contains the records, is the one who shapes our present and future perceptions of what happened. In this instance the multitalented Bay Area writer, actor, dancer, and thinker has pulled an involving, theatrically viable piece from the thousands of possibilities his research must have suggested. He selected judiciously, opting for about dozen episodes at the center of which is a rollicking paean to love, sexuality, and ecstasy. Words, movement, music, and narration blend into a beautifully modulated dance-theater piece. The family portrait is hilarious; the delicate moment when Dorsey strips off his shirt feels as pure as freshly fallen snow; the lack of recognition of himself in the mirror is poignant; and the "Perfect Day" duet aches with beauty and grief. Working with the excellent Brian Fisher, Juan de la Rosa, and Nol Simonse, Dorsey chose an unadorned, intense contact movement style with the hug as a central motive that works. A small quibble. Lou has about three endings — that needs to be rethought.

Married with band


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER They play together yet dislike each other — that’s Fucked Up. Literally. The Toronto legends of hardcore — add as many "post-"s as you like to that descriptor — and their grew-up-together-but-grew-apart relationship may sound like the tale of so many other long-running rock bands, sticking it out for the big checks, groupies, coke binges, and Courvoisier. Instead the Fucked Up folks appear to be more interested in putting together albums that will stand up against the punk singles on Kill by Death and Dangerhouse that made major indents in their consciousness.

"We were obsessed with those records and wanted to put ourselves in that continuum," says vocalist Pink Eyes, a.k.a., Damian Abraham, 29, sometime TV writer, onetime-reality TV star ("There were some choice moments of me going record shopping juxtaposed with my wife eating a cheap hotdog on the street, me going to an expensive dinner and her going home and doing laundry," he says of Newly Wed Nearly Dead), and frothing, rabid record collector. Eventually, he adds, "we realized that as much as we don’t get along and hate being on the road together, this is the most exciting, most creative thing that any of us will ever do. So we’ll see how it goes."

For their trouble, the group managed to make one of the best rock, punk, or what-have-you releases of ’08 with its second full-length, The Chemistry of Common Life (Matador).

But all that’s natural, normal, and Fucked Up. "We’ve been a band a long time," confesses Abraham. He’s known guitarist Mike Haliechuk, a.k.a., 10,000 Marbles, for about 14 years — since they were 16 — and grew up in the same neighborhood, played in bands, or shared radio shows with the rest. So does familiarity breed hatred? "A lot of us don’t have any shared interests anymore," the vocalist says by phone on the way to a New Orleans show. "But we’re still held together by this thing that is Fucked Up."

After all, "I’m diagnosed with mental problems," Abraham continues with the barest hint of mirth. "But I think there are several people who have undiagnosed mental problems. So we have a bunch of people who are undermedicated and one guy who is overmedicated. People who have crippling record-buying addictions and people who have crippling tastes in techno.

"We do all like sushi."

That search for commonality had to happen after the combo’s first album, Hidden World (Jade Tree, 2006), which made Fucked Up "transition into a quote-unquote real band," explains Abraham. "Prior to that we did a band that was mainly putting out 7-inches and playing the odd show, but then we put out Hidden World and we had the responsibilities of touring and actually playing full-length shows! It wasn’t just kids paying to see a show — it was kids paying to see us, which we weren’t really used to before that."

With Chemistry the members all retreated to their corners to work on lyrics and music separately. "No one person’s voice silenced any one else’s," Abraham says. "I think it was a survival method." The result was a kind of call and response between extremely different makers, a strategy that resolved into a shockingly rich recording that draws from the clean, epic qualities of classic rock as well as the bodyslamming force of hardcore.

"From my perspective [Hidden World] was about identifying social ills," offers Abraham, "and this record was more about trying to understand those social ills, trying to accept and work with the world around us, the forces of nature, government, and religion especially."

And in some ways, among the resonant instrumentals and pummeling rock-outs — music that scrambles the "conventions of punk," as Abraham puts it, much like the sound of Mind Eraser, Cold World, and No Age — Chemistry is about the search for that hard-won community among hardheaded, hardcore individuals. Call these anthems of a kind of togetherness for lone wolves who might wear "Jesus Should Have Been Aborted" T-shirts. "Hands up if you think you’re the only one," the frontman hollers during "Twice Born." The response: "We all got our fucking hands up!"

Still, the fights over the van radio must be monumental. "Mike is the techno fan," Abraham says. "It’s unfortunate because he’s very persuasive and he’s convinced several other members of the band to like it too. I’m resistant, as well as Jonah [Falco, a.k.a., drummer Guinea Beat]. All I can say is thank god for the invention of personal music players."


Sun/8, 8 p.m., $13


628 Divisadero, SF





Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman plus Nickel Creek’s Sean Watkins equals dreamy pop. Thurs/5, 8 p.m., $20. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. www.theindependentsf.com


The local label gets down with new CDs by Trevor Childs and the Beholders, Hey! Brontosaurus, and Cyndi Harvell. Fri/6, 9 p.m., $10. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com


Wu-Tang’s five-year-planner breaks out his latest digi-snack, the Afro Samurai Resurrection OST soundtrack (Wu Music/Koch). Sun/8, 8 p.m. doors, $20–<\d>$26. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com


The Minneapolis rapper takes his blend of rock and hip-hop up a notch to Never Better (Rhymesayers). Mon/9, 9 p.m., $10. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Watch their steps


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Drummer Liam Morrison’s bandmates in the Amazements — Brendan, his guitar-playing brother, and Elon Etzioni, vocalist and bassist — could be heard jamming a symphonic-sounding Laibach track in the background when he picked up his phone in Los Angeles. It only got more peculiar from there: the Amazements ended up reeling off more funny, bizarre anecdotes than most groups ever accumulate in their lifetime.

For instance, there’s the incident when the Cobra Snake guy showed up to one of the ensemble’s shows: "He didn’t take any photos … he just left!" Brendan explained. "Either he was intimidated or really unaware." Conversely, they were once photographed by Mick Rock — but never got to see the shots.

In any case, no photo can do justice to the band’s dynamic, which, musically and in conversation, is tight-knit and eccentric. They quietly, relentlessly rib one another through the entire interview, and their music — a fanged and crazed take on garage-rock tradition in the James Williamson–era Stooges sense — seems born of an understanding that’s taken years to sediment. Each of them are quite young — Etzioni and Brendan are 22, and Liam is 20 — but they started playing together as preteens way back in 2001, making what Liam described as "crappy improvised stuff" based around three-chord structures.

They eventually ventured into "song" territory and arrived at a crossroads when they were hired — through Etzioni’s dad, Marvin, a member of 1980s group Lone Justice — to play an instrumental for a record by country vocalist Grey Delisle, who required a "raw garage rock" sound for one of her songs. Such straight-shootin’ session work wasn’t really the Amazements’ thing, however, as their unabashed reverence for some heavily varied sonic touchstones makes clear. As favorites, they name the Rolling Stones’ Tattoo You (Virgin, 1981), L.A. rap station Power 106, and James Brown, whose "Get It Together" they give a possessed, clanging rendition live and on record. They’re likewise fond of Three 6 Mafia: the Amazements can cover 12 songs by the Oscar-winning rap group, including a striking word-for-word version of "Side 2 Side."

An Amazements song sounds like little else: they feel Shaggs-y in their odd, homegrown sense of rock, but they definitely aren’t making music in a vacuum. In fact, last year they curated and headlined four weeks of shows at Pehrspace, the up-and-coming downtown L.A. venue where, according to Brendan, the combo "arrived at performing pubescence." In 2006 they appeared in the 40 Bands 80 Minutes! documentary, and as Etzioni mentioned, their appearance later got shouted out in Thurston Moore and Byron Coley’s column for Arthur magazine.

Finally, after two years of work, they’re now within inches of completing their first full-length, soon to be released by Peter’s Pool Boys. "We’re trying to make a masterpiece!" exclaimed Liam — a claim that, judging by what I’ve heard, will likely be fulfilled. According to the group, one of the record’s most fearsome songs, "Time Anus," is a "skate anthem in Colorado" due to its inclusion in a boarding vid put together by Etzioni’s cousin, Connor MacLeod.

"Watch Your Step," meanwhile, was born of a bewildering, improvised Etzioni vocal over a short, looped sample from the tail end of curio-funk number "Tutti Fruit," and where the original "Step" was distorted with disorienting effect — "Some frequency in the loop made people nauseous and feverish," Brendan said — its finished form pairs a frenzied, devolved-sounding rap with totally wired peals of pitch-shifted guitar. It’s anomalously awesome.

If the album’s not done by tour, the Amazements will have homemade CD-Rs for purchase at their shows, which will be well worth picking up. They don’t get to play out of town that often, so roll by a gig and get your head hammered onto their proverbial stick.


With Hungry Ghost, Sad Horse, the Sandwitches

Fri/6, 9 p.m., $5

Argus Lounge

3187 Mission, SF


Also with Pierre Le Robot and Cupids

Mon/9, 9:30 p.m., free

Blondie’s Bar and No Grill

540 Valencia, SF


Serene dreams


Leeds, U.K., native and Ibiza, Spain, resident George Evelyn has recorded lush and laidback beats for two decades as Nightmares on Wax. As British tastemaker label Warp’s longest-serving artist, he’s shared space on their roster with Autechre, Aphex Twin, and Squarepusher. But in stark contrast to his labelmates’ hectic, densely layered electronic productions, Evelyn’s music sonically embodies the phrase, "Let’s just chill a moment." And despite his scary moniker, most of what Evelyn creates will induce sweet daydreams.

String pad– and Rhodes-soaked numbers like "Calling," from his sixth and newest album, Thought So (Warp, 2008), unfold methodically, weaving rich synth layers together with jazzy loops before a slow-burning beat drops down without fanfare. The result is soothing, headphone-friendly songs that stand out among electronic music’s more conceited and bombastic projects.

Written mostly in an RV while moving from Leeds to Ibiza, Thought So rides on a broad variety of lazy beats and sumptuous songs that lounge comfortably at 84 beats per minute. "Moretime" is built on raw, funky loops that recall Cut Chemist or Quantic, while "Still? Yes?" meshes thick breakbeats and reggae snippets à la local beatmaster Romanowski. The aforementioned "Calling" also resembles Evelyn’s most notable track, "Nights Interlude," from Smokers Delight (Warp, 1995). The former follows an almost identically melodious composition trajectory but drifts dangerously towards wanky smooth jazz before Evelyn reels it back in. This quality of sonic consistency and balance has obviously bolstered NOW’s longevity.

Evelyn and Kevin Harper conceived NOW in 1988. Harper split a few years later before Smokers Delight became one of the most successful downtempo chill-out albums ever. Like other mid-1990s trip-hop material by Massive Attack, DJ Shadow, or Mighty Bop, NOW’s blueprint encompassed thick dub bass, hip-hop drum programming, soulful loops, samples, and velvety keyboard embellishments. So does it still sound as fresh 15 years later?

In Evelyn’s hands it does. He has evolved and enlisted great vocalists such as Chyna Brown, Ella May, Mozez, and Ricky Ranking, several of whom appear on the recent album’s best tracks. Evelyn and a full band including keyboardist Robin Taylor-Firth, guitarist Chris Dawkins, drummer Ize, and bassist Hamlet Luton touch down at the Independent Feb. 4 for a show that’ll remind folks that slow-mo music is good for the soul. Let’s hope they showcases gems such as "Damn" from 2006’s In a Space Outta Sound (Warp) and the Rankin’ toast "195 Lbs" from the latest full-length.


Wed/4, 9 p.m., $15


628 Divisadero


Wave your hands in the air


Parisian hottie and Disco Death Tour headliner Arnaud Rebotini sports the slicked-back pompadour and vintage-shirted ensemblage of a primo rockabilly daddy — right down to the fifth of Jack Daniels he usually stashes behind his onstage equipment — augmented by the handlebar mustache of a ’70s porn star.

The music he makes, however, both as the vocalist with "frozen Balearic gay biker house" heroes Black Strobe and on his own as an analog electro-warrior in a laptop landscape, suggests more a canny backroom raver than a rhythm-and-blues or retro-disco traditionalist. Not to say that the rumble of souped-up engines and the salacious whir of Super-8 skin flicks don’t stream through his ancient electronics, but he’s definitely more about raising hands in the air than laying down steamy riffs.

Rebotini’s last solo release, Music Components (Citizen, 2008), was a valiant and largely successful attempt to build an solid dancefloor set around analog fanboy fetish instruments like the Korg Monopoly, Juno 60, and TRs 909 and 808 — no laptops or external sequencers allowed. What emerged was a MIDI wet dream that stomped the jambox and inverted the Valerie and Ghostly International camps’ Ableton-driven nostalgia formula — this man who looked like he walked right out of Can made actual music of the moment on his tinny machines.

Meanwhile, Black Strobe transformed from a witty electroclash-like DJ-vocalist duo into a full-blown live four-piece, which, confusingly, will be performing a DJ set on the tour. Also on hand will be earnest acid-disco hipsters In Flagranti — but my dream of dreams would be for Rebotini, French king of the analog 808, to someday team up with Alexander Robotnik, Italian king of the acid-generating 303, for a mind-blowing all-night session of laptopless hiptwisters. Rebotini and Robotnik in 2010!


With Arnaud Rebotini, Black Strobe DJ set, and In Flagranti

Sat/7, 10 p.m., $10 advance

103 Harriet, SF


Speed Reading



Edited by Peter Normanton

Running Press

448 pages


It probably comes as no surprise that post–World War II Americans decided Hitler was a lot scarier than the Boogeyman. It’s a little more shocking to see that fear realized in their comic books. The Mammoth Book of Best Horror Comics contains its fair share of vampires, werewolves, and zombies, but those early years are dominated by ghostly stormtroopers, Nazi clones and — more often than not — the reanimated fuhrer himself. I’m particularly fond of "Terror of the Stolen Legs," which, I assure you, is creepier than the title suggests.

For this collection, editor Peter Normanton has culled prime examples from more than six decades of horror comics. The results are often fascinating: how else to see Nazi anxiety so aptly literalized? And, of course, they’re fun. Don’t forget these are comics, so for all of their time capsule–esque appeal, they retain that guilty pleasure quality. Imagine you’re a kid in the pre-"graphic novel" ’50s while reading the collection— it enhances the thrill.

For the most part, it’s these early offerings that prove the most delightful, if only for the camptastic writing. The best example comes from "The Game Keeper," which begins, "Run Avis Drood! Run as fast as your lovely legs can carry you, for the full moon burgeons beyond Drood Castle and the game is afoot!"

The only real downside to the collection is Normanton’s purple prose. He tends to ham it up in his introductions to each story, promising a life-changing experience on every page. But hey, feel free to skip those parts they don’t have pictures, anyway.

All mod cons


› johnny@sfbg.com

How can any of us forget 1835, and the heady discovery of spherical amphibians, blue goats, and petite three-foot zebras frolicking on the moon? In Fakers: Hoaxers, Con Artists, Counterfeiters, and Other Great Pretenders (New Press, 245 pages, $24.95), Paul Maliszewski relates that time, when the New York Sun brought news of lunar life to an increasingly large readership that craved delightful information during an economic drought. Maliszewski doesn’t have to work to make the story funny — he merely has to relate how the paper’s moon-discovery serial likened a typical blue goat to "a young lamb or kitten," and presented scientists pretending to tickle the creature’s beard as seen through a telescope, only to witness it "bound away into oblivion, as if conscious of earthly impertinence."

Within the context of Maliszewski’s sprawling look at fakery, the Sun saga is a light vacation, because of its relative datedness and good-natured imagination. Before and after, Fakers largely avoids such Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds–style nostalgia for more contemporary tales: the stories of Stephen Glass, James Frey, and JT Leroy, for example. It places Glass’s accounts under a microscope that highlights their pandering corniness. It relates the life and times of Leroy — and his feverish endorsement by the likes of Dave Eggers and Michael Chabon (more on him later), as well as his editorship of an installment in Da Capo’s Best Music Writing series — without losing sight of the fact that Leroy’s much-celebrated writing is mawkish.

Such targets and views might suggest that Maliszewski likes to wag his finger and tut-tut, but his viewpoint is much more variable — he isn’t out to condemn various literary liars, for example, so much as critique them. Early in the book, he relates one of his own adventures in the creation of phony identities, a Walter Mitty–scale satire somewhat akin to the letters that Joe Orton used to write to newspapers as "Edna Welthorpe," a make-believe housewife outraged by Orton’s plays. Here, and in other instances, such as a discussion of George W. Bush’s use of the word "confidence" when discussing economics, Fakers suggests that the Bush years have not just eroded but demolished the value of truth.

In a seeming act of first-person tit-for-tat, Maliszewski shares an example of an instance when he fell for a hoax, though the chosen subject — a tall tale that might qualify as an urban legend if it weren’t set in the wilderness — cops out in terms of allowing a truly personal and thus uncomfortable examination of the various aspects of being duped. The most curious of Maliszewski’s practices is the frequent weaving of e-mail interviews — a format that would seem to allow for flights of fancy — into his investigative text. A correspondence with former New York Times journalist Michael Finkel, for example, stays soft-focus when it could have questioned the presumptuous audacity of a middle-aged white man assuming the voice of a West African boy.

In a recent Bookforum review, Hua Hsu describes Fakers as vaguely paranoia-inducing, and indeed, at the very least, this reader — a journalist who has been duped — wonders if any of the facts or stories that the author relates might contain creative twists. In an extended conclusion about a fraudulent Michael Chabon essay, Maliszewski essentially asserts that to lie for the sake of lying is a cynical, selfish act. True. But Fakers is more interesting when it is ambivalent and discomfiting, or when Maliszewski’s examples and anecdotes prompt ideas about various permutations of truth and falsehood in the media landscape. (Take CNN’s Nancy Drew, I mean Nancy Grace, and the way she is currently using a compulsive liar — Caylee Anthony — to co-author cable news television’s version of a radio serial.) Blue goats are cute, but — as Fakers makes clear — white lies have many facets.

Dudes and don’ts


All right, I’m not gonna try and pretend The Achievers: The Story of the Lebowski Fans and Deadgirl have all that much in common, other than they’re both playing the San Francisco Independent Film Festival. But they do both focus on folks with peculiar obsessions, healthy and otherwise.

Camera in hand, television commercial director Eddie Chung descended upon the 2004 Lebowski Fest — since 2002, an annual gathering of fans of the Coen brothers’ 1998 cult phenom The Big Lebowskiand discovered a bona fide subculture. Who are these people? Why are they addicted to Lebowski? What makes ordinary working stiffs fiendishly create movie-inspired costumes (severed toe, Sioux City Sasparilla bottle, walrus, "camel fucker") as detailed as they are obscure?

At 66 brisk minutes, The Achievers can’t help being fun, although I imagine it would be difficult to enjoy the doc without having seen Lebowski. (If you haven’t seen Lebowski, or you saw it when it came out and — like most audiences and critics at the time — didn’t get it, you’re long overdue for a viewing.) Still, that’s probably not gonna be a problem for IndieFest attendees, considering the fest hosts an annual bowling-infused salute to the Dude. Dilettantes will appreciate The Achievers’ many Lebowski clips, which pop up to contextualize lesser-known references; diehards will thrill to the interviews with bit-part actors like "Saddam," the Hussein look-alike who hands the Dude bowling shoes during his dream sequence. Also featured are the real-life inspirations for the Dude, Walter Sobchak, and Little Larry Sellers (you know, the kid who steals the Dude’s car and leaves his D-grade homework paper behind — incredibly, a true story, more or less.) The Coens are absent, but bemused star Jeff Bridges does make an appearance.

As Chung discovers, the most hardcore of the Lebowski fans found each other over the Internet, becoming acquainted via a message board dedicated to the film and the fest. Many have become real-world friends above and beyond the organized Lebowski gatherings, which now attract thousands of White Russian–drenched revelers. Really, they’re no different than heavy metal fans, or Rocky Horror junkies, or Civil War reenactors, tapping shared interests to build a tribe whose activities (Maude Lebowski tattoo, anyone?) might be viewed by the mainstream as crossing the line into low-level insanity.

Far more wackjobby are the protagonists of IndieFest’s closing-night film, Deadgirl, which is described in the fest program as resembling the early films of David Cronenberg. Body horror? Yes! Disturbing? Indeed! The work of filmmakers (Marcel Sarmiento, Gadi Harel) with innovative, artistically daring careers ahead of them? I’m not yet convinced. Deadgirl starts off promisingly enough, as a pair of ne’er-do-well high schoolers (pretty boys Shiloh Fernandez and Noah Segan) stave off boredom by exploring an abandoned mental hospital. But this ain’t slow-burn creepiness like Session 9 (2001); the film’s most original twist — the boys find a zombielike woman chained in the basement — comes early, and the shocks soon revert to tired torture-porn gross-outs. Naturally, the friends are torn apart by the discovery, even as they both become consumed by it. One’s horny enough to declare the woman/monster do-able, while the other’s a tad more sensitive; it’s not long before an unbelievable mix of emo and necrophilia, and a li’l dab of misogyny, oozes to the surface. Queasy does it.


Feb. 5–22, most shows $11

Roxie, 3117 16th St., SF; Victoria, 2961 16th St., SF; and Shattuck, 2230 Shattuck, Berk.


Hot pink


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Filmmakers like Jonathan Demme who worked for Roger Corman in the early 1970s were delighted by their freedom to include just about anything — radical political issues, wild tonal shifts, etc. — as long as the basic drive-in requirements of gratuitous T&A and violence were shoehorned in. That moment was brief. But something similar has lasted decades in Japan’s "pink film" milieu, where often youthful talent cut teeth on low-budget softcore features typically an hour in length.

With genital display and graphic sex illegal — we’ve all seen Japanese private parts obscured by a digital fogblot — "pink" makers must exercise a little more imagination than Western pornmeisters. No doubt there’s been much unwatchable dross among the diminished but still-active genre’s thousands of titles to date. But there’s also been inspired, sometimes just-plain-weird stuff, like Godardian Go, Go Second Time Virgin (1969), extreme nunsploitation School of the Holy Beast (1974) and 2003’s Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai (a.k.a. Horny Home Tutor: Teacher’s Love Juice), which played the San Francisco International Film Festival.

In a rare moment of retrospection, this year’s San Francisco Independent Film Festival sidebars "I am Curious (Pink): The Second Wave of Japanese Sex Cinema, 1986–Present." Offering two double bills at a sum length barely more than that of one bloated Hollywood prestige flick, this sampler ranges from the goofy to the gloomy. There are some constants — ironic use of Western classical music, variably consensual abuse of women, vigorously mimed sex acts — but these singular films aren’t much like each other, let alone most adult entertainment you’d see here. Even their misogyny often feels like an in-joke at men’s expense.

Not so in The Bedroom (also known, rather misleadingly, as Unfaithful Wife: Shameful Torture), a 1992 feature by Hisayasu Sato of gay "pink" Muscle — a dismemberment fantasia that set the gold standard for walkouts when bizarrely chosen as 1990’s San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival opening nighter. This cold, morbid, semi-abstract objet d’art queasily mixes identity blur, voyeurism, tranquilizer excess, marital ennui, homicide, and lewd consumption of chopped lettuce. It’s notorious for giving a small role to one Issei Sagawa, who’d committed real-life murder and cannibalism — only to be just briefly institutionalized before becoming a still-popular multimedia "celebrity" back home. Ick.

On a less appalling note, the other three IndieFest "pinks" take themselves less seriously. Osamu Sato’s New Tokyo Decadence: The Slave from 2007 is supposedly based on the experiences of star Rinako Hirasawa, who discovered early on that she was into masochism — though not averse to playing professional dominatrix. She finds fulfillment under the thumb of her eventual office boss, only to discover he’s a wuss in sadist’s clothing. Often funny, New Tokyo Decadence views its heroine not as victim but a sometimes ambivalent power bottom who actually pulls the strings.

For full-on silliness there’s Motosugu Watanabe’s 1986 Sexy Battle Girls, whose schoolgirl protagonist has an anatomical irregularity her father is hell-bent on using to avenge a long-ago wrong. "The Venus Crush is your secret weapon! Love is not an option!" he insists. Sent to a private school where "bad" students are sold to politicians as sex slaves and ballpoint pens are shot like deadly arrows, she combats perils including one highly exotic dildo you won’t find at Good Vibrations.

Shuji Kataoka’s same-year S+M Hunter features a titular character outfitted spaghetti western–style with cowboy boots, priest’s collar, a skull’s-head eyepatch, Morricone-type musical theme, and extraordinary erotic-lassoing abilities. But he and fellow "Pleasure Dungeon" habitués meet their match in the Bombers, a man-hating (and gay-man molesting) girl gang à la H.G. Lewis’ She-Devils on Wheels (1968). If you’ve yearned for a battle of the sexes encompassing gratuitous Nazi regalia and pervasive retro disco woo! woo! — well, prepare to be satiated.


Feb. 5–22, most shows $11

Roxie, 3117 16th St., SF; Victoria, 2961 16th St., SF; and Shattuck, 2230 Shattuck, Berk.


Trucker song


› le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS I dreamed a bear was after me, and it chased me into a craggy and impossible landscape from which, if I survived the bear, I would never find my way back to exactly alive, either.

These kinds of things don’t bother me anymore. I’m too busy being bugged by spiritually advanced, old-soul new-age dinks who think me visually and verbally attractive, then find out that in spite of their evolved, complicated mysticism and unflappable belief in reincarnation, they simply can’t wrap their brains around a funny and beautiful woman who used to be a dude.

I say, "Well, so what about your arms then?"

They laugh, but I’m serious. Whatever happened to a sense of adventure? A kiss? A touch? A taste? Finding out via the body? You know: the here-and-now incarnation, the one with spinach in its teeth. To me, good old-fashioned sensory perceptions are a gazillion times more valuable than extra-sensory ones, or energy fields or even Ouija boards. Meditation … prayer … thought itself can’t do what teeth and fingers can. So don’t pay too much attention to your dreams, books, guides, and all that other dumbass brainy bullshit, OK?

And if you think it’s bad in Berkeley …

Where I live, in the woods … well, the woods were lovely, dark, and deep until I came to crave less chickeny company and, a year or so ago, started venturing away from hearth and shack. And was horrified to find that my neighbors were not farmers and lumberjacks, but hippies. All of them! Even the farmers and the lumberjacks!

Yesterday evening, for example, I was killing time, half-pints, and fishes and chips down at my local neighborhood cider pub, when I was hit on by a big ol’ truck driver. Yay! A truck driver! I thought. Oh, and he was very sweet and forward, and was wearing a cowboy hat. I almost certainly would have gone home with him, except that I had accidentally left my chicken door open, on purpose … so farmerly duty called, eventually, and I excused myself from his embrace.

This proves, if my math serves me, that a bird in the hand is not worth four birds in the coop. With the door open. By the way, please think of the bird in the hand as me, and the hand as his. Personally, I don’t care, one way or the other, but I don’t think truck drivers like to be thought of as birds.

My point is that he gave me his business card, and I fully intended to use it some time, say, if I needed a cargo container full of corrugated tin roofing material hauled from here to Fresno, or a date. But when I took a look in the sobering light of morning, there was his name, his address, cell phone and e-mail, sure, but where it should have said "truck driver" instead it said, get this: "energy healer/poet."

And the foxes and skunks and tit-mice and deer that inhabit these lovely, dark, deep woods with me are still trying to shake the haunting wail of utter despair and frustration which emanated then from the Shack of the Nutty Girl With All Them Chickens — or SONGWATCH, as they call it for short. Because while I have no doubt that a trucker is 100-percent capable of seeing that a chicken farmer is a chicken farmer is a chicken farmer, no matter what else in the world she usedta be … my experience has been that these energy-addled new-age seer dinks are about as sightful as buttons on a sock monkey. Seriously, it’s happened more than once or twice. It’s happened three or four times now. Maybe five.

Belief in anything at all is kinda counteradventurous, innit? But as far as non-nonbelievers go, my funnest dates so far have been with fundamentalist Christians and Mennonites.

Of course I will give this guy and his cowboy hat a try. He doesn’t know yet the kind of girl I am. So it will be interesting to see if (as I can only hope), truck driver trumps energy healer.

Oh, and I do have a new favorite restaurant. Chinese joint goes by the wonderful name of Eat First, in case you want to look it up online. I’d a done it here but story trumps all, turns out. And anyway my Chinese New Year’s resolution is to renege on all my other ones, which were torturing me like a bear in a dream, so …

Maybe next time. Now I have to get going on a trucker song.

L.E. Leone’s new book is Big Bend (Sparkle Street Books), a collection of short fiction.

Fallout from the union clash


› steve@sfbg.com

Fallout from the power struggle between Service Employees International Union and its Oakland-based local, United Healthcare Workers, has been felt particularly strongly in the Bay Area since SEIU took over UHW and ousted its leaders Jan. 27 (see "Union showdown," 1/28/09).

After SEIU replaced UHW head Sal Rosselli and more than 70 elected leaders of that union for defying SEIU demands, Rosselli and his team formally resigned from SEIU Jan. 29 and formed a new union, National Union of Healthcare Workers, hoping to draw thousands of current SEIU members disgruntled with the top-down management style of SEIU head Andy Stern.

It took a few days for SEIU to take physical control of UHW’s Oakland offices, where Oakland police officers were called Jan. 30 to mediate a final showdown between UHW loyalists and the new SEIU management team, which is under the direction of two SEIU executive vice presidents that Stern appointed as trustees: Eliseo Medina and David Regan (see "SEIU seizes last holdout: UHW’s Oakland headquarters," Guardian Politics blog).

"It’s not about the building, it’s about the members," Regan told the Guardian Jan. 30, later adding, "At the end of the day, the members of the union get to decide if they want to be in the union or not be in the union."

And after a weekend when Rosselli said SEIU was aggressively trying to close outstanding contracts with many employers, a move that would make it difficult for members to disaffiliate from SEIU and join NUHW, he filed petitions showing that many members do indeed want to leave SEIU.

"We don’t trust them with our contracts and we don’t trust them with our dues," Shayne Silba, a psychiatric technician with Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, told reporters during a Feb. 2 teleconference announcing that about 9,000 workers at 62 medical facilities have filed petitions with the National Labor Relations Board asking to leave SEIU and join NUHW.

Rosselli said that more than 50 percent of workers at most of these facilities signed the petition, and he’s asking SEIU to honor the request and let them go.

The list of facilities includes some prominent Bay Area medical centers such as Children’s Hospital in Oakland, Alta Bates, and California Pacific Medical Center and other entities run by Sutter Health. Sutter has clashed with union members and community leaders over numerous issues, including the future of St. Luke’s Hospital in the Mission District.

"The Sutter Healths of the world are colluding with SEIU just like they did before the trusteeship," Rosselli told reporters, echoing his persistent theme that SEIU is too cozy with employers and doesn’t negotiate good contracts.

SEIU spokesperson Michelle Ringuette disputed that characterization and the accusations that the union was trying to quickly sew up outstanding contracts with employers to forestall moves to NUHW. "There were an astonishing number of contracts left incomplete," she said. "It’s callous to leave contracts open for whatever purpose."

Regan said SEIU will challenge the NUHW petitions. "We are not going to let these discredited, deposed members weaken UHW," he said, adding that the petition drive "is incredibly cynical and reckless in this economic climate."

But the wheels are now set in motion for a protracted fight over who will lead UHW’s 150,000 members, as well as the question of whether Rosselli’s highly democratic management style might be attractive to members of other unions.

"We’re getting calls from other SEIU members from other locals about joining NUHW," Rosselli said, citing Alameda County Medical Center, whose employees are part of the San Francisco–based SEIU Local 1021, one of many locals that have been reformulated in recent years by Stern, who then appoints its leaders.

Rosselli plans to hold a founding convention for NUHW in March, when members would vote on bylaws and a constitution, and elect their leaders, while Regan said SEIU will work to win the confidence of its members: "We have to show people that we’re on their side and we care about the work we have to do together."

>>Read more union struggle coverage here.

Tailpipe turnaround


› news@sfbg.com

GREEN CITY Word that automobile emissions standards may soon improve was good news, but Bay Area leaders and communities are demanding even more to offset the harm that comes from tailpipes.

President Barack Obama last month called for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to allow California and as many as 13 other states to employ their own emissions restrictions. "Our goal," said Obama at the White House, "is not to further burden an already struggling industry. It is to help America’s automakers prepare for the future."

A review of the request is now underway and manufacturers were reassured they would have enough time to rework their 2011 lines. By then, cars and trucks should have improved efficiency and better mileage, outpacing three-year-old national standards that have been in place since the EPA refused to grant a waiver from the federal Clean Air Act.

Locally, the city’s Transportation Authority is reworking the local Climate Action Plan to emphasize emissions reductions. But the problem is expected to get worse before it gets better. Researchers at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District expect greenhouse gas emissions from transportation to increase dramatically from 42.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide this year to 65.4 million in 2029 under "business as usual conditions."

That may be why Mayor Gavin Newsom and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed released a letter Jan. 23 opposing federal plans for an auto industry bailout unless there are more strings attached to the money and more progressive programs to develop low-emission vehicles regionally. The two mayors called for an auto bailout that would "not divert funds from innovative emerging transportation technologies."

Jan Lundberg, a former oil industry analyst turned activist and a former member of the San Francisco Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force, calls for even bolder steps: "The kinds of amelioration being talked about and offered are woefully inadequate. We should just get rid of car dependency. Most of the pollution involved — into the air, from the car — is not from the tailpipe. It’s from the mining and the manufacturing associated with the car."

The real challenge for local governments is not in adapting their vehicles, but adapting policy to reflect progressive approaches like San Francisco’s "Precautionary Principle," adopted in 2003. The policy puts the burden of proof on advocates of new technology to show it is safe. Debbie Raphael, the Green Building Program Manager with San Francisco’s Department of the Environment, has been pushing for a change in how environmental codes are implemented. "Taxpayers have every right to know the risks," she said. "The burden then falls on industry to study possible negative consequences and to investigate safer alternatives."

Writer and activist Bill McKibben addressed the issue last fall when he spoke at Herbst Theatre, recognizing San Francisco as an environmental leader among cities. "This is clearly a community that is doing so many of the things right that need to be done. One community at a time is a very noble way to proceed. But in the end, it’s only half the battle. We’ve got to get the political movement going that allows us to do this everywhere, not just in the places that already understand it."

Without a net


› news@sfbg.com

The Board of Supervisors heard more than four hours of public comment at its Jan. 27 meeting, as hundreds of labor representatives, public-health workers, homeless advocates, hospital staffers, and others crowded into the board chambers to sound off on the deep budget cuts that many charged would leave they city’s critical-services safety net in shreds.

The message was chilling.

On the ground, the budget cuts Mayor Gavin Newsom is proposing translate into staggering losses in services that segments of the city’s most disadvantaged populations rely on. Among those who will lose their jobs: some San Francisco General Hospital staffers who are trained to watch the cardiac monitors. "They are the first responders when someone goes into cardiac arrest," nurse Leslie Harrison told the board during public comment. "This is a life and death job — literally."

The Huckleberry House, which was established in 1967 and provides assistance to more than 7,000 homeless youth each year, may face closure.

Homeless shelters are already being forced to turn away two out of three clients seeking a bed due to lack of space, according to Coalition on Homelessness Executive Director Jennifer Friedenbach.

Demand for hot meals from the St. James Infirmary, a clinic for uninsured sex workers, has tripled since the onset of the recession, Executive Director Naomi Akres told the Guardian. As a result of the cuts, the clinic will lose its ability to continue either the food program or an outreach program that aims to get people off the streets.

Other areas that face funding reductions, according to a tally of midyear reductions issued by the mayor’s office, include some programs that administer STD testing and HIV prevention services, the Adult Day Health programs at Laguna Honda Hospital, aid for foster care, and the Single Room Occupancy Collaborative (which assists low-income tenants living in dilapidated hotel rooms across the city). San Francisco’s Human Services Agency will lay off 67 staffers.

Of the $118 million in midyear cuts rolled out by the mayor’s office last December, some $46 million will be shed from health, human welfare, and neighborhood-development services.

The midyear reductions, which will begin to take effect Feb. 20, are aimed at addressing a steep drop-off in revenue for the 2008–09 fiscal year. Now, health and human services providers and others across the board are anxiously looking ahead to the next round of blows, which will be dealt to address a projected $576 million deficit for the 2009–10 fiscal year, which begins in July. That figure could be reduced to $461 million after budget cuts, according to Deputy Controller Monique Zmuda.

Newsom has known about the gravity of the current budget problem since late October, when City Controller Ben Rosenfield issued a memo projecting fiscal disaster. "Since the adoption of the budget in July, the City’s economic outlook has significantly worsened, particularly since the onset of the global financial market upheavals that began in September," the memo states. It goes on to predict a worst-case scenario of $125 million in tax-revenue shortfalls for the 2008–09 fiscal year.

Cuts in frontline services don’t have to be the only answer. Supervisor Chris Daly has introduced an alternative budget proposal, which includes reductions in funding for management positions, cuts in the city’s subsidy to the symphony, and a reduction in the size of the mayor’s press office in an effort to free up funds that could then be diverted back to critical services. "I don’t think any of the choices are good. There’s really only the lesser of the evil," Daly noted at the meeting.

The choices the city faces were described in clear terms. "I’m sorry to say it, but you have some tough decisions in front of you," Friedenbach told supervisors when it was her turn at the podium during public comment. "You have to choose between abused children, or the symphony. You have to choose whether you want to decimate the mental-health treatment system — or do you want to get rid of the newly hired managers since the hiring freeze? You have to decide whether you want to cut half of the substance-abuse treatment system — or do you want to create a new community justice center that will have nowhere to refer its defendants?" Rather than choose, however, supervisors voted 6–5 to send Daly’s alternative package back to the Budget and Finance Committee for further consideration. The swing vote was Board President David Chiu, who was elected president with the support of the progressive bloc.

Had Chiu voted for Daly’s alternative, it wouldn’t have mattered much — the mayor would almost certainly have vetoed it.

Eight supervisors — enough to override a veto — did demonstrate a willingness to move forward with a June special election. With Supervisors Sean Elsbernd, Michela Alioto-Pier, and Carmen Chu dissenting, the board voted to waive deadlines that would have prevented new tax measures from being placed on a June 2 ballot.

Several different tax ideas are under discussion. According to a list of preliminary estimates calculated by the Office of the Controller, slight increases over the current rates of taxes levied on business registration, payroll, sales, hotel-room stays, commercial utility users, parking, property transfers, and Access Line fees together could bring the city an estimated $121.6 million per year.

Other proposals include creating parcel taxes for both residential and industrial property, gross-receipts taxes on rental income for commercial and residential properties, a local vehicle license fee, and a residential utility users tax. If all of those proposed new taxes were voted into effect, the city would have the potential to raise an additional $112.9 million.

The problem: under state law, unless the mayor and supervisors unanimously declare an emergency, any tax increase would require a two-thirds vote to pass.

Supervisor John Avalos voiced strong support for the special election. "I think that the people of this city are still grappling with the meaning of the crisis that we’re in," Avalos told his colleagues.

Avalos amended out the possible new parcel tax, increased parking tax, and utility-users taxes, and instead proposed two new revenue measures that could be added to the ballot: a vehicle-impact fee, and "a possible new tax to discourage the consumption of energy that produces a large carbon footprint."

It won’t be easy to pass any of these proposals. Business interests are mobilizing against the very idea of a special election. In an e-mail newsletter distributed by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, a "call to action" urged supporters to contact Supervisors and voice opposition to the emergency election.

The language in the Chamber of Commerce message closely resembled that of Small Business California, which put out a message to the small-business community warning that higher taxes "would be the straw that breaks the already strained back of our local businesses, resulting in more layoffs and acceleration of our downward spiral."

Labor organizer Robert Haaland asked supervisors why they would be afraid of allowing voters to decide on the tax-revenue measures. A poll commissioned by his union, SEIU Local 1021, demonstrated that a significant portion of voters would rather raise revenues than allow vital services to disintegrate.

Even if new revenue is raised, Haaland told us, no one is under the illusion that there won’t be painful cuts. "Everyone’s going to feel some pain," he said. "It’s a question of how much pain."

American Apparel battle heads for Planning Commission


Early Saturday morning, Jan. 31, about 40 protesters stood on the sidewalk near the corner of Valencia and 21st streets — the site of a proposed American Apparel store — holding up signs that read, "Your Mission — Not Theirs." An endless stream of honks — even one from a cop car — echoed support for the anti–American Apparel cause. The next day, protesters met at Ritual Roasters for a letter-writing party and on Feb. 2, they rallied and wrote letters at an anti–A.A. event hosted at Amnesia. The movement to block the chain store is gaining momentum in advance of a Feb. 5 Planning Commission hearing.

The overwhelming majority of independent businesses in the neighborhood — including Ritual Roasters, Modern Times Bookstore, Borderlands Books, and Aquarius Records — have taken a stand against the chain, which boasts 200 outlets in 19 countries worldwide. There are three AA stores in San Francisco, including one on nearby Haight Street.

A.A. spokesperson Ryan Holiday says the sentiment is misplaced. "People think we’re a big-box retailer, but that’s not true," he told the Guardian.

The company has been pushing a different image: "We don’t like the mall-ification of America any more than you," reads a sign on the empty storefront. "But that has never been what American Apparel is about."

Many store opponents claim the campaign is not a crusade against American Apparel, a Los Angeles company that has a progressive record on labor and immigration issues. It’s about formula retail, which is already banned in several San Francisco commercial districts.

"I’m wearing American apparel underwear right now," said Kent Howie, a longtime staffer for Artists’ Television Access, which is housed in the storefront next to the proposed clothing outlet. "Our street just doesn’t want chain stores. It’s about survival."

Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who represents the district where A.A. would be located, has not taken a public position. But several months back, he met with American Apparel representatives and suggested a number of ways to do outreach in the neighborhood.

"I have seen no such evidence," Dufty told us. "Major retailers often don’t make an active contribution to the neighborhood."

Holiday insists that it’s the community’s decision, although A.A. has signed a multiyear lease for the space. "We don’t need to dictate the conversation and we don’t need to trick the people into thinking they want an American Apparel."

>>View more of our American Apparel controversy coverage here.

A pox


› andrea@altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea:

I went for a test and the nurse found a genital wart. I have had more than 20 sexual partners and enjoy casual sex occasionally, but I always use condoms (plus the pill, just in case). I feel embarrassed, like I’ve been irresponsible, but I thought I was protecting myself thoroughly. How can I get over this and feel OK about sex again? And are there ways to keep from getting another wart?



Dear Andrea:

I just found out I have a genital wart. It’s a really small bump that could have been there awhile without me noticing. I’ve had it treated with freezing and have cream to apply to it; but I’ve been doing research and I keep getting conflicting information about how long it will last, whether any kind of sex is safe while it’s still there, how infectious it is, and what to do if it doesn’t go away.

I feel gross and dirty about it. I always use condoms and I don’t know where I could have gotten it. To make matters worse, I have a new boyfriend who doesn’t seem to have noticed anything wrong. Now that I’ve found out about this, I am dreading telling him. Help!



Dear Andrea:

I found out I have HPV and I don’t even know how I …

Dear Warty Readers:

OK! We have found some warts. Until someone claims to have acquired them on purpose, or to have been accidentally exposed but really stoked about it, I will assume that everyone is feeling kind of miserable and a little soiled and having a hard time coming to terms with it. This is completely understandable. Indeed, it is expected. Having an infectious disease which may affect your ability to find happiness with other human beings would certainly be harsh enough; the whole STD thing adds insult to injury.

Personally, I think STDs need an image makeover. Syphilis never seemed to shock anyone in Elizabethan literature, but everyone was poxy then anyway, not to mention smelly. We’ve had centuries of crass jokes and shame campaigns since, though: a kind of cumulative shaming which no public health department’s "it could happen to anyone" message is going to be able to alleviate. Of course you feel bad.

I would hope — I would wish, anyway — that normalization would help. This shit is everywhere! I usually go to the CDC’s site for STD statistics. Here are their latest on HPV:

Approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and another 6.2 million people become newly infected each year. At least 50 percent of sexually active men and women acquire genital HPV infection at some point in their lives.

That’s a lot of people feeling shamed and dirty. Maybe it’s time to just accept that the disease is out there, it’s easy to get, and even the most cautious (well, the second-most cautious; the first-most cautious stay home and order their groceries over the Internet) can contract it. Having HPV doesn’t say a thing about your self-respect, your hygiene, or anything much beyond your native level of luckiness. For the record, the CDC’s "how not to get HPV" advice is not all that helpful:

… even people with only one lifetime sex partner can get HPV, if their partner was infected with HPV. For those who are not in long-term, mutually monogamous relationships, limiting the number of sex partners and choosing a partner less likely to be infected may lower the risk of HPV. Partners less likely to be infected include those who have had no or few prior sex partners.

While safety-by-partner-choice really does work, it sure does limit the choice of potential partners, from amazing abundance (in the big cities, assuming minimum levels of datability) to one of those measly little prix-fixe menus which never have any desserts except crème brûlée. What if you don’t want inexperienced partners?

Here’s the deal: none of you was being irresponsible. The virus got transmitted not through but around the condom, which did reduce the likelihood of transmission. Your immune system may clear it (rendering you disease-free) or it may not, in which case you may always be contagious from the area of the wart. Treating the warts won’t cure you, but may lower the chance of transmission, which may in turn help to make you feel less leper-like and more like your old self. Oh, and lest we forget, visible warts are the good kind of HPV! The ones that cause cervical cancer are invisible, the bastards.

Now for the bad part — you do have to tell people. You have to tell potential sex partners. You may lose some, but people who are really interested are likely to stick around. You have to tell the boyfriend. Since you just found out, you can’t be accused of withholding important information. Normalize for him, and bring up the CDC’s statistics (50 percent! How’s that for company?). Get treated. Take deep breaths.



Contact Andrea at andrea@altsexcolumn.com for more info.

Save the Rainy Day Fund


The scope of the economic challenges facing the country is overwhelming. We all hope that the new stimulus package proposed by the Obama administration, coupled with the $700 billion bailout of the financial sector, will revive our economy. In California, the state is confronting an unprecedented $42 billion deficit; State Controller John Chiang has made clear that this could mean suspending tax refunds, welfare checks, student grants, and other payments owed to Californians unless a solution is found.
In San Francisco, with an estimated $560 million deficit for the upcoming fiscal year, the city is facing what may be the worst financial crisis in its history.

While the federal government can authorize deficit spending, essentially by printing more money, to address the crisis, the California Constitution and the San Francisco Charter both require the adoption of balanced budgets. Deficit spending is not an option to solve our local budget and economic problems.

Fortunately, in 2003, San Francisco voters adopted Proposition G establishing the Rainy Day Reserve Fund. After the lessons learned from the dot-com bust, Prop. G established an economic stabilization fund for San Francisco. The Rainy Day Fund employs a simple formula to save money for when it’s most needed: in any year when the city collects more than 5 percent more in tax revenue than it collected in the previous year, the city reserves half the extraordinary revenue growth for a "rainy day." The city can withdraw up to 50 percent of the funds from the Rainy Day Fund when an economic downturn yields less tax revenue to the city than the preceding year. The fund currently has $98 million in savings.

Last year, for example, the mayor and Board of Supervisors allocated $19 million from the Rainy Day Fund to the San Francisco Unified School District, which helped avoid 535 teacher layoffs in the face of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s education cuts. This year, it is likely that the mayor and the board will be able to withdraw some $45 million to offset the serious deficit.

These budget policies have helped preserve the city’s excellent credit rating, paving the way for low-cost debt issuance for critical projects like the rebuild of San Francisco General Hospital. However, it is important to understand that the city’s fiscal woes are a combination of cyclical and structural problems.

San Francisco’s structural imbalance between revenues collected and the cost of vital health, public safety, recreation, and social services needs to be addressed through revenue enhancements and comprehensive tax reform, not by spending the entire Rainy Day Fund as a quick fix. According to most forecasts, the recession is likely to continue through at least early next year, and San Francisco is likely to continue to experience fiscal problems.

Currently, there are discussions in City Hall about going back to the voters to revise the Rainy Day Fund to allow the fund to be fully depleted in a single year. I believe that would be a mistake. The Rainy Day Fund is an essential piece of the city’s overall financial strategy, and I strongly urge my former colleagues on the Board of Supervisors and the mayor to preserve the integrity of the fund. If used as originally intended, the fund will help maintain vital programs and help alleviate the impact of budgets cuts to our most vulnerable populations over the long-term as we work to right the ship in the face of this perfect economic storm. *

Assemblymember Tom Ammiano was a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for 14 years and was the author of Proposition G, which created the city’s Rainy Day Fund.

Bad budget ideas


EDITORIAL There’s nothing easy about solving a half-billion-dollar budget shortfall, and most of the people involved in the grisly process of making the numbers add up at San Francisco City Hall know there will be blood on the floor. Labor unions representing city workers know there will be layoffs, salary concessions, or both. Community-based organizations handling critical front-line services know they’ll have to reduce staff and curtail their mission-driven operations. The supervisors know that a lot of good projects and great ideas won’t get funded this year.

The mayor, unfortunately, isn’t acting as if this were a crisis at all — he’s been out of town more than he’s been around the past few weeks. The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and, sadly, some small business leaders, are refusing to accept the idea that taxes — some taxes, not enough to stave off deep cuts, but enough to prevent disaster — ought to be part of any budget package.

And along with the cuts — which, as Rebecca Bowe reports on page 11, will have far-reaching implications for San Franciscans — a number of really bad ideas have been floated, most of them quick fixes that would generate cash for now, but lead to serious problems later.

Among the worst ideas the mayor has put forward — in fact, it’s one of the worst budget ideas we’ve ever heard — is the notion of increasing the number of condominium conversion permits from 200 per year to 1,500 per year, and possibly allowing every property owner waiting for a conversion permit to get one, now, for a price.

It’s true that selling off condo conversion permits would bring in revenue. Raffling off building permits and planning code variances would bring in money, and so would selling development rights in city parks, and so would auctioning off appointments to boards and commissions. There are lots of stupid ways to generate cash, and the fact that a proposal would be lucrative is not by itself an argument in favor of it — even in times like these.

There’s a good reason the city limits condo conversions. Nearly every piece of property that becomes a condominium was once a rental unit, and the speculative pressure to take rent-controlled apartments and turn them into market-rate condos is immense. It’s bad enough that tenants — particularly those with relatively low rent — face eviction every day because of the state’s Ellis Act and the push by real-estate interests to create tenancies in common. Without conversion limits, the number of those evictions would soar; rent control would be eviscerated, the cost of housing would rise, and the economic cleansing of San Francisco would roll forward another few giant steps.

Newsom and his real-estate industry allies like to say that this sort of proposal is painless, since nobody has to pay higher taxes. Only people who want to convert their units, and are willing to pay a high fee for the right, would wind up paying. But that’s silly — the tenants of San Francisco would pay the cost — an immense cost — while the wealthier property owners made profits.

Selling off the taxi medallions (see "Don’t privatize the cab medallions, 1/21/09), another Newsom idea, fits in the same category. In the short term, it could bring millions into the city coffers. Long term, it would turn control of the taxi industry back to speculators and big companies, hurting the drivers and the public.

The mayor (and Sup. Sean Elsbernd) also like to talk about eliminating set-asides — those parts of the budget that voters have earmarked for particular purposes. But most of that money (the Children’s Fund, for example) goes to worthy programs: eliminating the "set-aside" protecting doesn’t save any money unless you cut those programs.

There are plenty of good budget ideas out there (see "Beyond the bloody cuts, 12/17/08). But the supervisors ought to make it clear that the bad ones are off the table.

PS: Where were all these anti-tax folks in the Chamber and the small business community, and supervisors like Elsbernd, when the city had a chance to bring in millions without any new taxes — by creating a public power system or raising utility franchise fees? They were siding with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. That’s part of the reason we’re in this fix.

Editor’s Notes


› Tredmond@sfbg.com

This is what happened in the office of the mayor of San Francisco last week:

1. One of the most highly respected members of the Newsom administration — quite possibly the only department head the mayor ever hired who has the unquestioned respect of every sector of the community she works with — was forced to resign, for reasons the mayor won’t explain. In fact, in a lame attempt at spin, the mayor’s press office put out a statement suggesting that Margaret Brodkin, who ran the Department of Children, Youth and Families, was leaving to take a new position.

Wrong, as Brodkin quickly (and predictably) pointed out in her own release, which hit my inbox at almost exactly the same time. Brodkin told the truth: the mayor, who has had nothing but praise for her in public, fired her, summarily.

2. Just a few weeks after vowing to begin a new era of mutual respect and a desire to work with the new Board of Supervisors, the mayor tried to override the board, quietly, and place his own unqualified ally on a key state commission.

The supervisors had voted 8-0 to nominate Sup. Ross Mirkarimi for a slot on the state Coastal Commission. That’s an important job: the commission regulates development all along the state’s coast, and the person who represents San Francisco, Marin, and Sonoma counties needs to be a strong and reliable environmentalist. Mirkarimi, a Green Party member, has devoted much of his life to environmental causes; his colleagues on the board agreed he was the best candidate to forward to the state Senate Rules Committee, which has the final say on appointments.

Without informing Mirkarimi or Board President David Chiu, Newsom tried to pull a fast move: he forwarded the name of Sup. Michela Alioto-Pier to Senate Rules, hoping, perhaps, that as a Democrat, Alioto-Pier might get the nod. There’s a good reason the supervisors didn’t nominate her — her record on environmental issues is awful, she’s way too friendly to developers, and the last time she had an outside job, as a delegate to the Golden Gate Bridge board, she missed half the meetings. But Newsom wouldn’t trust the board, and wanted his own candidate.

Which was not only wrong, but stupid: turns out state law gives the supervisors, not the mayor, the exclusive right to nominate Coastal Commission candidates. Newsom’s office didn’t even check the regulations, and by the end of the week, his spinmeisters were pretending that they’d never really forwarded her name in the first place.

3. The mayor came out strongly against a June special election to raise taxes to cover some of the half-billion-dollar deficit — but offered absolutely no alternative. That left the supervisors, city employees, the press, and the public wondering what exactly the mayor has in mind — 1,000 layoffs? 2,000? Major service cuts? — and when he’s going to tell us about it.

Oh, and while all of this was happening, Himself was out of town, hobnobbing with the hip swells at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

I don’t think I’m the only one who’s asking — what the fuck is going on in Newsom-land, anyway? *

“Takako Yamaguchi”


REVIEW For anyone who has attempted to stare down one of Bridget Riley’s hypnogogic vortices or contemplated the point at which two color blocks mesh in a Rothko, Takako Yamaguchi’s recent set of paintings at Jancar Jones Gallery should produce some pleasantly familiar sensations. Upon entering the shoebox-size space, one sees five three-by-four-foot canvases that form a seemingly continuous horizontal vista of graduated lines and patterned strips done in earth tones and blues, with the occasional wink of metallic shimmer. (This panorama effect is offset when one realizes that an outlier has been sneakily hung in the back office area.)

Viewed individually, Yamaguchi’s warm bands of color and geometric repetition start to take on the cast of Southern Californian geography — oceanic expanse, suburban sprawl, and stretches of desert. Interlocking white donuts and intestinal curlicues suggest clouds; hills and waves roll ad infinitum; distant mountains have the repetitive crenulations of a side-scrolling video game; the faintest line of gold leaf could demarcate city lights twinkling midground, or a sliver of sunset. And yet your eyes never fully adjust to the precise play of blurred and crisp elements, which is especially forceful in the two halves of Strangely Familiar. What looks fuzzy in your peripheral vision sometimes stays that way when studied head-on, just as Yamaguchi’s palette toggles between subtle abstraction and figurative hooks. In this sense, her canvases are Magic Eyes in reverse: if you stare long enough, the geographic reference points start to flicker into the background, like unstable mirages. So meticulous and subtle are the gradations of color — so light is Yamaguchi’s brushwork — that at times you forget you are looking at a painting. (This is underscored by the way in which each landscape continues around the sides of the canvas, as if the image were sprayed onto it and then stretched onto a slightly too-small frame.). Jancar Jones may be the smallest gallery in the city, but from the vantage point of Yamaguchi’s landscapes, you can see for miles and miles.

TAKAKO YAMAGUCHI Through Feb. 28. Jancar Jones Gallery, 965 Mission, suite 120, SF. Thurs–Sat, noon–6 p.m. (415) 281-3770, www.jancarjones.com

Valentine’s Day events


Click here to see all Valentine’s Day listings on one page


Black Valentine Masquerade Club Mighty, 119 Utah; www.mighty119.com. Feb. 13, 10pm-3am, $15. Sunset Promotions and Blasthaus present this all-out party extravaganza, featuring UNKLE’s leading man James Lavelle, Evil Nine, and revelers dressed in dastardly dark costumes.

Bootie — A Special Valentine’s Party DNA Lounge, 375 11th St.; www.bootiesf.com. Feb. 14, 10pm, $12. Celebrate the holiday mash-up style with DJ Freddy, King of Pants, twisted love songs by house band Smash-Up Derby, and a midnight mashup show by Valentine.

CockBlock Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell; 861-2011, cockblocksf.com. Feb. 14, 10pm, $7 . Get your Valentine’s groove on at this queer dance party for lezzies, queers, lovers, and friends, featuring DJ Nuxx.

Date and Dash Noc Noc, 557 Haight; www.dateanddash.com. Feb. 14, 8pm, $35 (free to first 20 people). Speed-dating with a Lower Haight twist. RSVP for red drinks, trendy beats, and a faux auction.

I Heart the Utah Hotel Utah Saloon, 500 Fourth St.; 546-6300, www.thehotelutahsaloon.com. Feb. 14, 9pm, $8. Celebrate the kind of love that lasts — that between a bar and 100 years’ worth of patrons — with oyster shooters, champagne, a costume contest, and live music by El Capitan and Let’s Make Something.

Love on Wheels Dating Game Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell; 861-2011, www.rickshawstop.com. Feb. 13, 6-9pm, free for SFBC members. Join this dating game exclusively for two-wheelers, where bike bachelors and bachelorettes quiz a panel of three cyclists to select their date — and then roll to hip local spots.

Milonga de Amor Ferry Building; 990-8135. Feb. 13, 5:30-8pm, free. Celebrate V-Day, sensuous tango, and slow food.

Sexy Tour of SF Strip Clubs for Singles or Couples (510) 291-9779, www.slinkyproductions.com. Feb. 13, 6-10pm, $99/person or $190/couple, includes entry to all clubs, two drinks, and full-course dinner. Peek into a world of fantasy, glamour, and intrigue with the safety of a fun group and a guide whose expertise is leading women and couples.

Shindig 69 Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell; 861-2011, www.rickshawstop.com. Thurs/12, 8:30pm, $10. Start your weekend off with a tribute to the sexy ’60s, featuring The Devil-Ettes, Kitten on the Keys, and DJs from Bardot a Go Go and Teenage Dance Craze — all to benefit the Keep a Breast Foundation.

Supperclub Suicide Girls Afterparty Supperclub, 657 Harrison; 348-0900, supperclub.com. Feb. 14, 7:30pm, $100 for dinner and party. Have someone you’re trying to get in bed? Invite them to share a four course menu, bottle of champagne, and special afterparty with Suicide Girls.

Thousand Faces Misera-Ball OmniCircus, 550 Natoma; 701-0686, omnicircus.com. Feb. 14, 8pm, $10. Celebrate the lovelorn with a multifaceted performance and afterparty. Special discounts for the lonely.

Valentine Art and Wine Tasting Party for Singles The Artists Alley, 863 Mission; winesocials.com. Feb. 13, 7:30pm, $20–$30. Sample appetizers and a fabulous selection of wines from California and around the world at one of SF’s premier art galleries, co-sponsored by the Society of Single Professionals.

Valentine’s Day BikeAbout San Francisco Zoo, Sloat at 47th St.; 753-7236, www.sfzoo.org. Feb. 14, 8:30-11am, $25–$30. Woo at the Zoo too rich for your blood? Bring your bike and your sweetie for a leisurely, guided pedal around the zoo followed by a continental breakfast. Discount for tandem cyclists!

Valentine’s Day Poetry Luchadores Sub-mission, 2183 Mission; 863-6303, www.poormagazine.org. Feb. 14, 7pm, $20 to fight, $10 to watch. Your favorite revolutionary poets, poverty scholars, mediamakers, and cultural workers at POOR Magazine mash up poetry, gender, and wrestling for their second annual Battle of ALL of the sexes.

Valentine’s Eve for Singles Orson, 508 Fourth St.; 777-1508, www.orsonsf.com. Feb. 13, 5:45pm-closing, price varies. Choose your own adventure (and price range) at Orson by attending either the Cupid’s Arrow Dinner Party four-course meal or Aphrodisiac Dessert After Party, with dancing for all starting at 10pm.

Woo at the Zoo San Francisco Zoo, Sloat at 47th St.; 753-7236, www.sfzoo.org. Sat/7, 6pm; Sun/8, 12pm; Feb. 14, 12pm & 6pm; $75. Enjoy the 20th annual zoo sex tour with Jane Tollini, featuring new animals, new positions, and new kinky information — plus brunch or dinner.


Charles Chocolates Tasting J Vineyards and Winery, 11447 Old Redwood Hwy, Healdsburg; (707) 431-3646, www.jwine.com. Sat/7, 12:30-3pm, $20. Join the premium artisan chocolatier for a special Valentine’s Day-themed chocolate and wine tasting at J Vineyards.

Family Valentine’s Play Party River of Light Massage & Healing Arts, 256 Shoreline, Mill Valley; (415) 846-8181, laughplayhug.com. Feb. 14, 10am-12pm, $10–<\d>$20. Enjoy heartfelt family fun, sensory games, movement, laughter, and drama with your extended family.

Progressive Dinner for Single Women and Men Ristorante Don Giovanni, 235 Castro, Mt. View; (510) 233-9700, www.meetinggame.com. Sat/7, 7pm, free for newcomers. Find your Valentine among the 20 other singles enjoying a three-course meal.

Sweetheart of the Year Dinner Point San Pablo Yacht Club, 700 W. Cutting, Richmond; (510) 232-1102, www.pointrichmond.com/methodist. Feb. 12, 6:30pm, $35. Honor Pat Dornan at the First United Methodist Church of Richmond’s fun-filled evening of memories and laughter.

Valentine’s Dance 707 W. Hornet, Pier 3, Alameda; (510) 521-8448, www.uss-hornet.org. Feb. 14, 8pm, $40–$75. Don your best ’40s or ’50s attire and dance to jazz and big-band classics aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet.


Dating, Marriage, Dating Farley’s, 1315 18th St.; www.farleyscoffee.com. Feb. 14, 7:30pm, donations welcome. Get hopped up on coffee while previewing Liz Grant’s new love-and-romance themed stand-up comedy show.

Love Bites Pop Rocks: LGCSF Sings Top-40 Hits of Bitterness and Betrayal Women’s Building, 3543 18th St.; 1-800-838-3006, www.womensbuilding.org. Fri/6, Sat/7, adults-only show Feb. 13, 8pm, $15–$30. Cupid takes a well-deserved beating when the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco presents its sixth annual Valentine’s Day cabaret and musical extravaganza.

Mortified: Doomed Valentine’s Show Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St.; www.makeoutroom.com, www.getmortified.com. Feb. 12, Feb. 13, 8pm, $12–$15. Share the pain, awkwardness, and bad poetry associated with love as performers read from their teen-angst artifacts.

Origins of Love with John Cameron Mitchell Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St.; 863-0611, www.victoriatheatre.org. Fri/13-Sun/15, times vary, $25. Shortbus and Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator John Cameron presents a romantic potpourri of song, prose, poetry, and film, including a rare chance to hear Mitchell sing selections from Hedwig.

Sexy Valentine’s Erotica Reading Good Vibrations Polk Street Gallery, 1620 Polk; 345-0400, events.goodvibes.com. Fri/6, 6:30pm, free. Enjoy a glass of wine while talented group of local writers read their sexy short stories, frisky flash fiction, passionate poems, and hot haikus.

Spookshow A Go-Go Kimo’s, 1351 Polk; 885-1535, www.kimosbarsf.com. It’s a Valentine’s Day massacre with performances by Dottie Lux, Alotta Boutte, Kitten on the Keys, Lady Satan, Ruby White, and DJ Miz Margo, and films by Val Killmore and Shadow Circus.

Sweet Cookbook Reading and Eating Red Hill Books, 401 Cortland; www.dogearedbooks/redhill. Feb. 13, 7pm, free. Red Hill welcomes chef Mani Niall to read from his new book Sweet!: From Agave Nectar to Turbinado, as well as share some of his treats.


Hearts Gathering King Middle School Auditorium, 1781 Rose, Berk.; Feb. 14, 8pm, $15–$20. Enjoy an evening of poetry and music with Diane di Prima, Michael McClure, California Poet Laureate Carol Muske-Dukes, U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, and former Poet Laureate Al Young performing with bassist Dan Robbins.


I Love You Because … Design Guild Gallery, 427 Bryant; www.ilyb.org. Feb. 14, 8pm, $10. Celebrate V-Day at the closing party for photographer and TransportedSF visionary Alexander Warnow’s collaborative photo project exploring why people love who they do. (You can also view the photos at the gallery Wed.-Sat., 12-6pm, starting Feb. 5.)

Love Sick II Muse Studios, 224 Sixth St.; www.lovesickfashion.com. Feb. 14, 7pm, $15–$20. Find flirty fashions and lascivious lingerie at this trunk-and-runway show featuring Hide & Seek Lingerie, Ape’ritif Lingerie, Miss Velvet Cream, and more. A portion of proceeds from tickets and kissing booth benefit The Riley Center, a local domestic violence shelter.


Cooking Crush for Singles Crushpad Winery, 2573 Third St.; 1-888-907-2665, www.partiesthatcook.com. Feb. 12, 6:30-9pm, $95. Singles in their 30s and 40s are invited to mix and mingle as they tour the winery, share a nibble and a glass of wine, and pair up for cooking lessons.

The Origins of Love and Love’s Expression Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon; 561-0360, www.exploratorium.edu. Feb. 14, 2pm, with museum admission. Dr. Thomas Lewis offers a Darwinian twist on modern romance, exploring the psychobiology behind human intimacy.

Valentine’s Aphrodisiac Chef Joe’s Culinary Salon, 16 a/b Sanchez; 626-4379, www.theculinarysalon.com. Feb. 14, 11am-1:30pm, $75. Join expert (and hilarious) Chef Joe for a course in cooking food that’ll get you in the mood, including oyster’s mignonette, asparagus in puff pastry, and chocolate fondue.


Sound Healing for Relationships and Interpersonal Communication Tian Gong International Foundation, 830 Bancroft, Lotus Room 114, Berk.; (510) 883-1920, www.tiangong.org. Feb. 13, 7-8:30pm, $5–$10. Get ready for reutf8g at this qigong practice dedicated to energetically healing relationships, including Celestial Song and Love Activations for soul-to-soul communication.

Revolutionary Love Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, UC Berkeley campus, Berk.; ewocc.berkeley.edu. Explore the foundations of self-love with workshops, music, dancing, discussion, and a keynote address by Cherrie Moraga during the 24th Empowering Women of Color Conference.

Valentine’s Day at Habitot Children’s Museum 2065 Kittredge, Berk.; (510) 647-1111, www.habitot.org. Mon/9-Feb. 14, regular admission. Young children can create heart-themed art for loved ones. Visitors who bring craft supplies get free adult admission.

Wholeness Thru Relationship Center for Transformative Change, 2584 Martin Luther King Jr., Berk.; (510) 549-3733, transformativechange.org. Feb. 14, 7am-4pm, $35–$50. Invite a friend, ally, or someone with whom you’re having a hard time to this daylong workshop about developing relationships with yourself, your loved ones, and your community.

Check out more Valentine’s Day events listings on our SEX SF blog.

>>More G-Spot: The Guardian Guide to love and lust

Isn’t it ironic?


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Under harsh, clinical lighting, with a background cloaked in darkness, a zaftig, heavily tattooed woman fellates an enormous and alarmingly hairless penis. The hairless penis ejaculates, and a ominous computer voice intones that dribbling cum stains resemble "writing in Arabic, or sometimes Sanskrit." As the woman stares at the cum, the voice dramatically pronounces that "if she could learn to read that writing, she would know her … entire … future." The penis writes a tiny bit more Sanskrit, and the scene fades to black.

What is this? It’s not Andy Warhol’s Blow Job (1963). It’s the opening blow-job scene from a movie called Hospital, produced by Vivid Alt, an imprint of the mainstream porn production studio Vivid. Vivid Alt produces alternative pornography, or "subcultural erotica." Altporn is, on a basic level, porn that features models who are representatives of real-life subcultures like goth, punk, rave, emo, rockabilly, and hipster. Instead of buxom blondes who appear to have traipsed out of the Playboy Mansion on a cloud of pink boas, altporn features models who are often tattooed, pierced, and generous with the DIY Manic Panic hair dye. In a weird porn-imitating-life-imitating-porn switch, two big stars of altporn, Sasha Grey and Charlotte Stokely, currently star in campaigns for American Apparel.

Alternative porn is nothing new, at least not since the advent of the Internet. While magazines like Hustler and Playboy have formulated the aesthetic of mainstream print pornography, the Internet created a democratic space inside which divergent interpretations of sexuality could be easily presented. Blue Blood is generally credited as launching counterculture erotica in 1992 with the glossy, erotic zine that featured punks, goths, and erotic fiction. But Altporn did not take hold on a large scale until the late 1990s with Web sites like GothicSluts and EroticBPM. By the time alt-erotica site SuicideGirls appeared in 2001 (not quite full-blown porn, but a contributor to the altporn genre just the same), altporn was a full-fledged subset of porn. Today there are hundreds of altporn Web sites, with names like Crazybabes, Burning Angel, Broken Dollz, Razor Dolls, Supercult, and DeviantNation.

For Eon McKai, founder of Vivid Alt, porn is an intensely personal form of expression. "I’d say at no time — especially at Vivid Alt — no one is told to make a certain type of movie that isn’t coming from some place inside of them." McKai states that he and other altporn directors are merely "expressing the aesthetic that they find in their life, that they live in their life." In fact, many people involved in the altporn industry believe that what they are creating is a meaningful form of personal expression. Most people involved in altporn view their work as fundamentally different than mainstream pornography. Cutter, of AltPorn.net, explains, "AltPorn makes the trends and porn-porn tends to follow them. Traditional porn is conservative in a weird insular way. It tends to copy outside things." Cutter doesn’t think that altporn appropriates or copies from existing subcultures. He and others view altporn as being organic, DIY, independent, and fundamentally authentic.

All alternative subcultures are inherently interested in the notion of authenticity, and particularly in determining that which constitutes genuine membership into the group. Maintaining authenticity is a crucial part of how subcultures survive. Because subcultures are groups that are in part defined by their opposition to the mainstream, they are innately concerned with the "authentic" or original moment of resistance. Members of the altporn community are just as interested in the notion of genuine membership as the subcultures they depict. Eon McKai vehemently appeals, "We are a part of the subcultures that we represent, so if you look at the people who are behind it, I think you’ll find that they are pure to the street, and everything is authentic and this is who we are. We are just making porn about it, and this happens to be who we are. It’s really artist and filmmakers who make porn who are really expressing the aesthetic that they find in their life, that they live in their life." But what, really, is authentic porn? Isn’t a bona fide cumshot enough to prove authenticity? Eon McKai’s own name is a point toward the absurd, as his moniker is a play on the name Ian McKaye, the Fugazi and Minor Threat frontman who was a leader of the straight-edge movement that rejects alcohol, drugs, and casual sex.

From what I gathered from those in the altporn community, authenticity necessitates that creators of altporn be actual members of the subcultures they represent on camera. Smith elaborates, "All the originators in this genre were driven to create sexual media that appealed to their own community and their own communities’ aesthetics. So, the goths created goth erotica and the punks created punk erotica and the ravers created raver erotica. So, on an aesthetic level, altporn offers an alternative look, as well as the community interactivity, to prove it’s authenticity." Whether they are "true" punks, goths, or hipsters, shouldn’t really matter if the work speaks for itself, right?

It wasn’t until after I watched hipster porn videos like Sugar Town and Honey Bunny that I realized why altporn needs to paint itself as authentic. Smith puts it best when he says, "Without genuine subcultural attributes, it quickly becomes self parody." For porn that banks on its subcultural attributes, being perceived as inauthentic means dismissed as a joke. Of all forms of cinema, porn — with its skeletally thin plots, poverty of character development, and cheap production values — is most vulnerable to lampoon. For those who have ever watched porn, I am sure you know that embarrassed, cringey, oh-my-god-ew feeling of watching a particularly ludicrous moment in any scene. That feeling is magnified tenfold when watching a hipster porno that features stars discussing Sartre while wearing nothing but tube socks, such as in Honey Bunny.

While altporn might have originated under the auspice of DIY amateurism, it has proven to be lucrative and, as a result, has carved a niche for itself in the porn market. Because of the push to earn money, altporn has become less concerned with representing certain aesthetics than it is with latching on to new trends and then marketing them to get more customers. Annaliese of Gods Girls reflects, "I think that altporn will always be a representation of what is in-the-now for the customer that it is appealing to, the models that it features and the culture that it represents. The Y generation are furious followers of now trends in fashion, art, music, film, etc., and our site is a reflective of those nuances. Altporn will go where ever the models go and will evolve as the culture evolves. I personally see fewer and fewer applications from stereotypically ‘goth’ models, so perhaps that look has become less trendy." What’s the next big thing in altporn? Hipsters.

It seems like everything is getting hipstered out these days. From clothing to music to even the rebranding of the Pepsi logo, everything is getting a hipster makeover. Porn is no exception. If you look at the logo for Vivid Alt, you’ll notice that it’s tricked out to resemble an Urban Outfitters catalog. In the videos, the actresses are decked out in American Apparel. Hipster culture subsumes and dismantles the aesthetics of popular culture, appropriates its sincerity, and transforms it into a pastiche of irony. Likewise, hipster porn subsumes and dismantles the aesthetics of hipster culture, appropriates its irony, and transforms it into something utterly sincere: porn. For what can be more sincere than a cumshot? Is it possible to get ironic oral? Hipsters belong to a subculture that is incredibly concerned with image — and with defining, controlling, and protecting that image. They can now watch as their vaingloriously crafted personae are subsumed by the porn industry and transformed into fetish. How ironic.

Photos, video, and a full interview with altporn director Eon McKai on our new SEX SF blog

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