Volume 43 Number 24-

March 11 – March 17, 2009

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The livin’ on concrete

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Editor’s note: The Second Annual Poetry Luchador Battle of ALL of the Sexes on Valentines Day was a multi-generational, multi-lingual, multicultural ash-up of art, gender, poetry, wrestling, language, and theatre brought to you by the favorite revolutionary poets, media-makers, poverty scholars and cultural workers at POOR Magazine. As cosponsors of the event, we’re proud to run the winning poem. The second- and third-place winners are at sfbg.com.

When you walkin’ thru the downtown, and lookin’ in around, you see the

down of humanity, who was once somebody’s baby, layin’ down on the

concrete, street, on the ground

And do ya dare to care, and say what you want to say, step on and stare —

Double standard mind warped thinkin’, not my problem, this is where —

Ya got it wrong, think you are strong, move along, but its your

conscience layin’ there —

Cuz it is what it is — what it is — what it is

Livin on concrete —

What it is — what it is — what it is

Livin on concrete

So, call it whatever you wanna call it — at a distance

But in reality, it’s a casualty of a capitalist existence

Thru the food chain of command, it’s the plan of the man

So step off — shut the fuck up, walk on by, why take a stand?

And be grateful for what you got, even if ya been just tossed a bread crumb

Cuz the hypocrisy of democracy’s leavin’ nothing for that street bum —

What it is — what it is — what it is

Livin on concrete —

What it is — what it is — what it is

Livin on concrete

NIMBYism ideology, no apology, psychology

Haven’t ya realized, ya been hypnotized, homogenized, desensitized?

To a typical, statistical, egotistical psychology

To accept, the neglect and disrespect your own humanity

What it is — what it is — what it is

Livin on concrete —

What it is — what it is — what it is

Livin on the street.

So call it whatever ya wanna call it!

V.L. Hain is a PoorNewsNetwork staff writer and member of the WelfareQUEENS, a performance and media advocacy project of POOR Magazine.

“12”

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REVIEW In Nikita Mikhalkov’s Oscar-winning 1994 film Burnt by the Sun, set in the Stalin-era Soviet Union, a character corrects himself in addressing his companions as gentlemen, saying, "Excuse me, comrades." A reverse correction signals the changed times in 12, where Mikhalkov takes up a more modern, post-Soviet tale, using a familiar framework to tell it. Based on Sidney Lumet’s Twelve Angry Men (1957), the film follows the jury proceedings of a Moscow murder trial in which an orphaned teenage Chechen boy is accused of killing his adoptive father, a Russian army officer who rescued him from the war-obliterated village where he’d lost his parents. Throughout a long day and night, the jurors (whose foreman is played by Mikhalkov) deliberate, battle, come unhinged, and reveal, through prejudiced tirades and intelligent argument alike, a flawed legal system and a corrupt society that fail to function in tandem. In a departure from the original, 12 releases the viewer at brief intervals to visit the prisoner in his chilly cell and to witness childhood scenes of poignant and piercing clarity. But at nearly three hours, the film makes us feel the time crawling by and its effect on these men, locked away from their lives in a room they expected to sit in for half an hour before consigning a young man to life in prison. And the fractures and damage we witness in each of them as the hours pass seem to form a mosaic of modern Russian society, fractured and damaged itself by the traumas of its political and cultural history.

12 opens Fri/13 in Bay Area theaters.

“transPOP: Korea Vietnam Remix”

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REVIEW Spam, napalm, and derivative pop songs weren’t quite the only legacy of U.S. military sojourns through Asia — and specifically Korea and Vietnam — as Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ "transPOP: Korea Vietnam Remix" exhibit demonstrates. The artists gathered by curators Viet Le and Yong Soon Min are the children of Andy Warhol and Coca-Cola.

Credit goes to the organizers for pointing to the connections between Vietnam and Korea, which are seldom at the foreground stateside: both shared a history of rapid modernization facilitated by U.S. wartime adventures, and Korea benefited economically for their hand in the Vietnam War, as the second largest foreign military and economic presence. Trade in pop culture — film, music, TV, fashion — has evidently continued between the two countries. But despite the presence of a book and zine reading room filled with Korean, Vietnamese, and American transplants’ ballads, bubblegum, rockers, and protest music, this grab bag of an exhibition manifests little of the fizzy wit and energy implied in its title. Instead it assumes a primarily somber, somewhat cryptic tone — more wall text would have helped. This solemn quality is most forthrightly and movingly manifested in Dinh Q. Lê’s video triptych, The Farmers and the Helicopters (2007).

The exceptions make their mélange of pop and politics simultaneously pointed and explicit: examples include Tiffany Chung’s video works, Lam Truong (2007) and the scooter-guys (2007), which juxtapose the frenetic movements of Viet boy bands with bands of working delivery boys; and Min Hwa Choi Chul-Hwan’s 2006 To the Rockers paintings of lost-looking urban youth, paired with Twentieth Century — 1972.6 III (2006), his blown-up deconstruction of AP photographer Nick Ut’s 1972 image of a naked Vietnamese girl burnt by napalm running toward the viewer. Would Warhol have approved? And do any works make as much of a stealth impact as Oh Yongseok’s video montages Drama No. 3 and Drama No. 5 (both 2004-2005)? Cornered by these pieced-together panoramas, which appropriate snippets of Asian films and TV, one is confronted by both the Korean tradition of landscape painting and small, startling moments of violence and disquiet that rupture the stillness at the edges of the frame.

TRANSPOP: KOREA VIETNAM REMIX Through Sun/15. Tues.–Wed., Fri.–Sun., noon–5 p.m.; Thurs., noon–8 p.m. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF. $6; $3 seniors, students, and youth; free for members (free first Tues.). (415) 978-ARTS, www.ybca.org

Death Sentence: Panda!

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PREVIEW Who can bring together Bay Area noise-improv scene and tween mixtapes? Death Sentence: Panda!, that band of merry, absurdist experimentalists that sprang from the loins of Total Shutdown, NAM, and Crack: We Are Rock. The local underground-music vets are now partying up their second long-player, Insects Awaken (Upset the Rhythm), a blistering drum-flute-clarinet-electronics-xylophone-sax tribute of sorts to the bitty critters that "swarm and have sex and then die a violent death," as flautist-multi-instrumentalist Kim West puts it.

Hardcore, Chinese and Korean folk, and marching band sounds are all pitched into the trio’s dissonant sonic miasma — a blend that weirdly showed up on a mix West’s public school teacher friend recently confiscated from a 14-year-old — and though it’s been four years since the group formed, the noise hasn’t been taken down a single notch.

"We’re influenced by so many different kinds of music, whether it’s more noisy or folky or hardcore-y — is hardcore-y is a word?" asks clarinet-multi-instrumentalist Paul Costuros at the ass end of a band practice before he sets off to DJ "Ska War!" at Casanova Lounge. "Our music has gotten more noisy, and we’re dealing with more effects, atmosphere, and tone."

"I don’t think it’s noisier," responds drummer-multi-instrumentalist Chris Dixon.

"It’s louder sounding," Costuros retorts.

"We were on a bunny hill before," adds Dixon, "and now we’re on Twin Peaks."

"We were elves, and now we’re eating dragons."

Death Sentence: Panda!’s U.K. label — which released its 2005 Puppy, Kitty or Both 10-inch and 2007 Festival of Ghosts album — needed little prodding. "We told them it was done before it was started," Costuros explains. The occasion? "It was for Chinese New Year," jokes West, who also plays in T.I.T.S. But seriously, "we were entering into a different realm of music-making, and we wanted to record that. Songs got longer, and I think it’s a little more dramatic and more dynamic and not as cute and short and still a little tough."

"It redefines the genre of clarinet-flute-drum music," Costuros notes wryly.

DEATH SENTENCE: PANDA! With These Are Powers and Work. Sat/14, 9:30 p.m., $7. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. (415) 923-0923, www.hemlocktavern.com

Cut Copy

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PREVIEW Cut Copy can’t help being so likable. They’re here to dance, they’re damn happy about it, and they want you to know it — and jump in. The happy-go-lucky aesthetic worked: last year’s In Ghost Colours (Modular Interscope) debuted at the top of the Australian charts and topped scads of year-end best-of lists. The trio — a skinny bunch with swishy haircuts, delectable Australian accents, and a pathological addition to plaid — put out that luminous trove of swirly synths, Day-Glo pop, and irrepressible dance-rock groove to near-unanimous critical acclaim.

And about time, too. Downright disco raver "Lights and Music," an ecstatic summer anthem with a veritable shirt-grabber of a hook, spawned about a trillion remixes and lit up transcontinental dance floors across the globe. Vocalist Dan Whitford, who started out as a DJ and has released comps under the Fabriclive mix series, formed the band in 2001, collecting guitarist Tim Hoey and drummer Mitchell Scott along the way to the band’s 2004 debut, Bright Like Neon Love (Modular Interscope). Maybe it’s Whitford’s DJ impulses that account for In Ghost Colours‘ chimerical meldings of disparate rock and electronic elements that give the group’s music its diverse, pastiche-y textures — and, for determined music taxonomists, a certain elusive quality. Nu rave, disco-punk, synth rock? Whichever and whatever, it just sounds like a good time.

CUT COPY With Matt and Kim, and Knightlife. Thurs/12, 8 p.m. $25. Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. (415) 346-6000, www.livenation.com. Cut Copy DJs a Popscene after-party. Thurs/12, 10 p.m., $10. 330 Ritch, SF. (415) 541-9574, www.popscene-sf.com

Project agora’s “With (& Without) Words”

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PREVIEW In 2006 Kara Davis and Bliss Kohlmyer Dowman founded project agora as an umbrella organization under which they could present their own choreography. Strong and experienced performers — Davis with Kunst-Stoff and Janice Garret and Dancers; Kohlmyer Dowman with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company and Robert Moses’ Kin — the two got to the point where realizing other choreographers’ dances became less attractive and creating their own work grew more compelling.

For With (& Without) Words, Davis went solo. She hooked up with soprano and songwriter Kary Stephan for an evening of songs and dances in a format in which a dance may be performed in silence and a song without dance. Davis and Stephan had admired each other from afar but decided to work together when they found that they had more in common than either initially had thought. Both were classically trained: Davis in ballet, Stephan in opera. Yet both had vastly expanded their artistic interests since those early days. For Davis, the idea of performing to live music became irresistible, while Stephan had watched and taken some of Davis’ modern dance classes and found she liked the experience.

The resulting collaboration will run in something akin to a salon format at the Community Music Center with the audience surrounding the vocalists and dancers. Davis’ veteran and new colleagues Nol Simonse, Marina Fukushima, Daniel Howerton, and Sierra Stockton will perform, and Stephan will be accompanied by a chamber music trio.

PROJECT AGORA’S WITH (& WITHOUT) WORDS Fri/13–Sat/14 and March 20–21, 8 p.m.; $10 at door only. Community Music Center, 544 Capp, SF. (415) 509-2124

Appetite: WashBag is back! Plus: Top Chef scallops, James Beard dinner, and more

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As long-time San Francisco resident and writer, I’m passionate about this city and obsessed with finding and exploring its best food-and-drink spots, deals, events and news, in every neighborhood and cuisine. I started with my own service and monthly food/drink/travel newsletter, The Perfect Spot, and am thrilled to share up-to-the minute news with you from the endless goings-on in our fair city.

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NEW RESTAURANT OPENINGS

Herb Caen glory days hang on as North Beach’s classic WashBag returns
Herb Caen would be proud. When Washington Square Bar & Grill closed last year, many mourned the loss of one of SF’s most beloved classics, a preferred hang-out of the aforementioned Caen, local writers and politicos ever since the ’70’s. Under new ownership, Liam and Susan Tiernen of Tiernan’s (www.tiernans.com), the historical spot returns with brasserie menu intact. Pull up to the long wood bar or dine on white tablecloths as you order the famed WashBag burger on Dutch crust bun. Bartender Michael McCourt is also back… so bring on the Mad Men-reminiscent martini lunches!
Washington Square Bar & Grill
1707 Powell, SF.
415-433-1188

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EVENTS – FOODIE DINNERS

March 18-20 – Jamie Lauren creates a four-course scallop dinner in honor of her Top Chef run
Ok, all you Top Chef fans, Jamie Lauren is back to her home base of Absinthe, with an ode to Fabio’s “Top Scallop” comment by cooking a special, four course Scallop Tasting menu (reserve quickly – it’s sure to fill up fast!) Beginning with Bay Scallop Crudo, moving on to Scallop Clam Chowder, then a Hokkaido Grilled Scallop with sunchoke puree, artichokes, erbette chard and Meyer Lemon, finishing up with Seared Dayboat Scallops with asparagus, creamed green garlic and fava beans. Now you can pretend you’re a Top Chef judge, giving props to our very own Jamie.
5:30pm throughout dinner service
$75, not including beverages, tax or gratuity
Absinthe
398 Hayes Street
415-551-1590
www.absinthe.com

March 16 – Splurge for a James Beard Dinner at Fifth Floor
Food fanatics, save up your pennies (and then some) for a rare James Beard Foundation dinner at Fifth Floor, themed on the Cuisine of Southwestern France. The event honors famed cookbook author (and James Beard Award-winner), Paula Wolfert. Fifth Floor Sommelier, Emily Wines, selects wine pairings for the decadent six-course meal, including dishes like Foie Gras with shallot confit and quince compote or Braised Rabbit with sauteed crepes and dried plums. Headed up by Fifth Floor and Aqua’s Laurent Manrique, each course is created by a different chef: Jennie Lorenzo and Lionel Walter (also of Aqua and Fifth Floor), Ariane Daguine of D’Artagnan in NYC, Jean Pierre Moulle of Chez Panisse and Gerald Hirigoyen of Piperade. Whew, what a line-up! That crew can cook me dinner any time.
6pm reception; 7pm dinner
$165, including wine pairings ($150 for James Beard members)
Fifth Floor
12 4th St., SF
415-348-1555
www.fifthfloorrestaurant.com
www.jamesbeard.org

3/23-3/25 – Incanto’s annual Head-to-Tail Dinner returns
Incanto has long been my favorite Italian restaurant in the Bay Area, bar none, and when it comes to whole hog and offal, Chris Cosentino was doing it long before it was trendy. As a frequent Iron Chef (www.foodnetwork.com/iron-chef-america/index.html) competitor and charcuterie master chef, his popular Head-to-Tail Dinners (http://incanto.biz/information.html) come but once a year and book up fast. That leaves three nights for you to reserve for a five-course meal including Venison Heart Tartare, Goose Intestines with artichoke and fava bean (visions of Hannibal Lecter in my head), or a fascinating “Coffee and Doughnuts” dessert of pork liver, blood, chocolate, espresso. Adventurous eaters, this one will expand your horizons.
March 23-25 – 6pm
$75, not including beverages, tax or gratuity
Incanto, SF.
1550 Church Street
415-641-4500
www.incanto.biz

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DRINK NEWS and EVENTS
Don’t forget to vote in the Guardian’s 7th Annual Best Bartender in the Bay… we’ll award bartenders in the categories of funniest, sexiest, crankiest, best cocktail invention and more… based on your votes!

March 14 – Press Club offers education on wine basics with a Saturday School Program
Every Saturday through April 11, downtown’s unusual don’t-call-it-a-wine-bar wine tasting room, Press Club, launches a Saturday School program offering informal education on wine basics. If you haven’t been to Press Club yet (and if you love CA wines, you should), it comprises eight Nor Cal wineries with tasting stations/bars in an urban-mod basement, with staff straight from the wineries offering tastings or helping you select the right glass or bottle. Five of the eight wineries host the Saturday sessions, the first one being Landmark Vineyards, who’ll guide you through smelling essentials as you sample various wines (and food bites). If you’ve ever wanted to be able to talk more eloquently about “the nose” of a wine, this is your class (sign up on their email list or check the Web site for subjects of future sessions).
Every Saturday from March 14-April 11th
1-2pm
$20
Press Club
20 Yerba Buena Lane
415-744-5000
www.pressclubsf.com

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DEALS

Just for You serves up Cajun food and happy hour specials
Dogpatch’s breakfast standard, Just for You, livens up late afternoons with a happy hour of $3 Pacificos, $2 MGD, $4 house red wine, with free chips and salsa or french fried yams. Cheap beers and wine pair nicely with their new Cajun specials like Seafood (Gulf shrimp, Washington oysters, Dungeness Crab), Chicken & Andouille Sausage Jambalaya and Shrimp Creole (all under $12 with salad and garlic bread). I’ve only been here for their popular brunch but these are some good reasons to head out for an early dinner.
Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays 4-6pm (happy hour), 4-9pm (Cajun specials)
732 22nd Street
415-647-3033
www.justforyoucafe.com