Volume 43 Number 50

Appetite: Joy of Sake and Ghirardelli Chocolate Fest bring the flavor

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Every week, Virginia Miller of personalized itinerary service and monthly food, drink, and travel newsletter, www.theperfectspotsf.com, shares foodie news, events, and deals. View the last installment here.

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EVENTS

9/10: Joy of Sake at Yoshi’s San Francisco
Though you cannot imagine a Japanese meal without sake, you know there’s a whole world of sakes out there you have yet to discover. The Joy of Sake is an annual event highlighting the best of the rice spirit, featuring 100 gold and silver award–winning sakes (and finalists) from the 2009 U.S. National Sake Appraisal. Junmai, ginjo, and daiginjo… it’s all here for tasting, including 49 unavailable in the U.S. In the past, this event has been held at hotels at a higher cost with over 200 sakes, beyond medal winners. This year, the best have been weeded out for you and it takes place in the ideal, Japanese-chic setting of Yoshi’s San Francisco. Skilled Executive Chef, Shotaro "Sho" Kamio, serves an all-inclusive menu of dishes like Okinawa rock sugar–braised short ribs with peach compote, Kakiage Tempura fritters with veggies, shrimps and scallops… or why not wood burning–oven roasted American Kobe Tri-tip with caramelized shallot teriyaki? It’s an education and a feast, all in one evening.
7:30–10:30pm (food 8-10pm)
$50 advance, $60 at the door
Yoshi’s on Fillmore
1330 Fillmore Street
415-655-5600
888-799-7242

http://joyofsake.com

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9/12-13: Ghirardelli Square’s 14th Annual Chocolate Festival
If your not "festival-ed out" yet, it’s almost time for the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival, benefiting Project Open Hand. Going 14 years strong, the weekend hosts over 40 vendors serving chocolate well beyond truffles (including Amore Chocolate Pizza, Ana Mandara, Boomerang Vodka Chocolate Martinis, Bo’s Best Pancakes, Eat My Love For You Vegan Desserts, Gelateria Naia, Kara’s Cupcakes, Kika’s Treats, Mighty Leaf Tea, Pacific Puffs, Spun Sugar, The Toffee Company), loads of chef demos hosted by Season 3 Top Chef finalist, Casey Thompson, the “Hands Free Earthquake Ice Cream Sundae Eating Contest" (may be even be more fun to watch than to participate in), Cadillac Ride & Drive (Cadillac is displaying luxury cars in the Square while offering visitors an opportunity to test-drive the 2010 SRX – not sure what gets you ‘in’?), and Crown & Crumpet hosts a tea party with chocolate teas, scones, sandwiches and truffles (both days at 3pm, $12). Surrounded by chocolate sampling stations and views of the Bay, it’s not a bad weekend.
Free; $20 for 15 tasting tickets
9/12-13, 12-5pm
900 N. Point Street
415-775-5500

www.GhirardelliSQ.com

Volume 43 Number 50 Flip-through Edition

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A blip in Northern Sky

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DVD REVIEW If a Viking takes a shit in the woods, will anyone care? I asked myself this after watching Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America, an admirable if somewhat aimless and altogether odd duck of an independent film. Believe me, I wanted to love this movie more. The press release couldn’t have made it sound any cooler: Vikings lost in the New World in 1007! A black metal soundtrack! They terrorize Irish monks! It’s in Old Norse! Duuuuuude!

All those elements do come into play in this shoestring historic epic, but Severed Ways ultimately becomes as directionless as its stranded protagonists. At the very least, director Tony Stone, who also wrote, edited, and stars in the production, deserves credit for his dogged persistence of vision, even if the final product feels like sitting through the collected outtakes of reenactments from a History Channel documentary.

Based on the real expedition by Thorfinn Karlsefni, an Icelander who planned to settle in the New World, Severed Ways follows errant warriors Orn (Stone) and Volnard (Fiore Tedesco) as they set out into the wilds of North America in hopes of finding others of their kind, having narrowly survived a raid by indigenous peoples (whom they call "skraelings"). Most of the film consists of Orn and Volnard wandering, and then wandering some more. In lieu of a narrative, Stone instead focuses — almost obsessively — on the crude, dull, details of day-to-day survival: we see the Vikings fell trees and build lean-tos; Orn sloppily beheads and butchers an actual chicken; and, in what has to be the film’s biggest WTF moment, we also see him take a gargantuan dump, using nearby foliage as TP.

In its strongest moments, Stone’s warts-and-all aesthetic and borderline-vérité commitment to realism evokes Herzog circa Fitzcarraldo (1982) or Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972). Stone’s two cinematographers — shooting in digital — capture some lovely shots of the wild beauty of the Viking’s alien surroundings. And the film’s unhurried editing and tableau-like shots convey both the uncertainty and monotony of the Vikings’ experience as lone strangers in a strange land.

However, these moments are few and far between. And if Stone harbored any loftier intentions of conveying the emotional and spiritual depths of roughing it, they are hamstrung by the film’s heavy metal frippery, most notably a hilarious but totally random shot of Orn headbanging and some awkward translations of the Old Norse dialogue ("We’re toast if we stay here"). And it is here that Stone’s taste in black metal should be questioned. The much-hyped soundtrack is a disappointment, with the majority of the synth-strings heavy ambient metal tracks simply not suiting the film’s po-faced tone. Some harder, more buzz-filled and, well, genuinely darker, selections would’ve been appreciated. A map wouldn’t have hurt either.

Ballet without borders

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a&eletters@sfbg.com

REVIEW For its first appearance — with three new works — at the Jewish Community Center Sept. 3-4, the Courage Group attracted a large, appreciative audience. It’s easy to see why. Over his company’s seven years of existence, Todd Courage has developed a choreographic language that is ballet-based but thoroughly contemporary in the way it tears — sometimes humorously, sometimes sarcastically — at ballet’s edges. He loves its linearity, so he chooses from existing steps and combinations and then stirs them into a melting pot, where they become just one of the ingredients at his disposal.

Musically, he is equally selective. He patches his scores together like a quilter. You quickly learn to forget about context and go along for the ride. Some of the musical transitions may jar, but most of the time they develop something akin to an aural logic. I found myself amused by Bach and Handel playing hopscotch with each other. Chris Fletcher was the program’s excellent sound engineer.

Courage may be more of a mixmaster of dance than an innovator, but he has developed his own voice and the skills to articulate his intentions. This trio of works, at the very least, indicates that he knows where he wants to go. And he is in a hurry to get there. All three are foaming with ideas; they also tend to wander. Tighter control, not necessarily of individual sections but of the overall trajectory, is an issue.

Placing six shallow women and a deep one at the top of the program, with tall Peta Barrett as the odd one out, was a risky choice. The dancers looked awful in the way they stomped through their steps, apparently indifferent to the opening phrases of Bach’s glorious "Violin Concerto in D minor." Then the possibilty arose that Courage has perhaps seen too many students tear mindlessly through ballet class. This may have inspired him to start out with a deadpan version of every teacher’s terminal frustration.

In the second movement, when Barrett calmly unfolded her limbs, the audience could breathe a sigh of relief. Her partnering of the company’s smallest dancer, Christina Chelette — including cantilevering leg hugs — suggested an emotional relationship between equals despite physical differences. The rest of six alternated between Bach and Handel in choreography in which the dancers did just fine. They might momentarily have sunk into a ballet pose, but some of the most effective sections, such as canonic entrances of purposeful walks, were beautifully simple. Courage also recognized one of dance’s great secrets: the beauty of unisons.

dirty girl dug into one of the choreographer’s previous preoccupations — the awkwardness of pubescence. In 2006’s High Anita, it was cheerleaders. Here the cheerleaders went to a slumber party and gave the heroine a sponge bath. girl‘s humor is somewhat creepy as these young women veered between innocence and sex kittens. The choreography was game-based and influenced by teen fashion imagery. Dressed in the tiniest of skirts with flaming ruched red underwear, the dancers negotiated their way between the strictures of the Voice of God (Barrett) and the demands of their budding sexuality. The former yielded a spanking, the latter offered birthday cake frosting to lick. You can read into those images anything you want. The audience, probably remembering their own in-between years, clearly appreciated Courage’s lighthearted approach. I thought it just a tad too silly.
The quite substantial but you can’t hide introduced the evening’s lone male dancers, Nol Simonse and Brendan Barthel. First seen in languid duets, they eventually folded themselves into the women’s ensemble. Simonse, sinewy and liquid, was a joy to behold. This was Courage at his best: mirror images for the men, a violent female duet, whispering voices and moonwalks, full body contact, and a finger to a chin. can’t hide is too episodic and packs in too much material, but John Adams’ splendid "The Chairman Dances" kept them going all the way into the dark.

She’s a rebel

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kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Shop girls and Shop Assistants, the Jesus and Mary Chain and Mary Wells, "Da Doo Ron Ron" and Ronettes up-dos. All twirl, as if at a punk-rock sock-hop, around the rugged, vulnerable Vivian Girls. Girl-group songwriter Ellie Greenwich — tragically felled by a heart attack at 68 on Aug. 26 — might have scratched her head upon first hearing the Brooklyn trio’s new Everything Goes Wrong (In the Red), out just this week, but a few songs in, she would get it, fully.

Behind the buzzsaw guitars and lo-fi clatter lie those eternal heartaches, stress-outs, and boy (or girl) troubles that plague every girl, voiced in loose-knit choral togetherness in a way that the Crystals would recognize. The high-drama-mama beats of "Tension" — so reminiscent of "Be My Baby" — hammer the point home, while buttressed by a wall of distortion that Greenwich collaborator Phil Spector could claim as his own.

Onetime Spector client Joey Ramone would have also understood, though Vivian Girls are definitely fixed in a specific girly universe, one forged with the naïveté implied in the threesome’s Henry Darger-derived name as well as the band’s blunt force attack, fed by early punk’s reclaiming of pop. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and the Darlings — fellow New Yorkers and kindred spirits in twee and garage rock — have a more purposeful grasp of the hook. But Vivian Girls are more infatuated with a purely impure coupling of classic ’60s-derived songcraft — a love that finds its name in "Can’t Get Over You" amid blatantly Shangri-Las-style ooh-oohs — and the one-two-three-four overdrive of American hardcore. Musically they’re trying on the Peter Pan-collar of the tender-hearted Tess on the sidelines of "He’s a Rebel" and the black leather of the reckless tough referred to in the song’s title.

Taking note of perverse souls who have tried on those retro costumes in the past, Vivian Girls use hardcore’s louder-faster-harder heritage as a way to blitzkrieg the ballroom and navigate the storms of girlhood. So the band’s "I Have No Fun" is both more wistful and brisker than the Stooges’ "No Fun." Of course, any combo that has the audacity to pick up where Carole King-and-Gerry Goffin-penned "He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)" left off has much to account for: no one will be pushing around these lasses, swathed in a protective, propulsive whirlwind of thrashed-at guitars and primal drums. And Vivian Girls never let up till the closing track, "Before I Start to Cry," when the tempo slows and the thunder clouds tumble into view. It’s crying time. *

VIVIAN GIRLS

With the Beets and Grass Widow

Wed/9, 7:30 p.m., $12–$14

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

rickshawstop.com

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FRIENDING THE LOVEMAKERS

Scott Blonde and Lisa Light of Oakland’s Lovemakers could give a fun, breezy university course in pop — or so I gathered hanging out with the friendly exes at Amoeba Music not long ago, on assignment for the late mag Venus. Michael Jackson had just passed, and the pair praised the Bad boy’s breed of pop — something the duo scrambled to bottle on its catchy new Let’s Be Friends. "There’s no guessing what it is and whether it works — that’s what I’m really striving for," Blonde says of Jackson’s chart-topping sound. "I think that’s the ultimate goal. I can dance to it and sing to it, and it’s stuck in my head. It’s hard to do, and there’s only a handful of bands that have done that." For the new album, which the Lovemakers decided to release themselves via Fontana distribution, Light explains, "We changed our attitude a lot, too. I feel like we always have to come back around and realized, Right. It’s about the music. It sounds stupid, but I think we really let go of the business side affecting us. It’s not that we’re not doing it — we’re still doing it all. But it doesn’t piss me off anymore: it’s just a process — it’s not personal anymore. Music is personal, and business isn’t."

With Jonas Reinhardt, Lisa Nola, and DJ Miles. Fri/11, 9 p.m., $15–<\d>$17. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

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SOULSAVERS

Mark Lanegan growls malevolently on the alternately lyrical and brooding Broken (V2). With Jonneine Zapata and Redghost. Wed/9, 8 p.m., $18. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

POWER TO THE PEACEFUL FESTIVAL

Michael Franti and Spearhead lay down the welcome mat for Sly and Robbie, an acoustic Alanis Morrissette, and Vieux Farka Toure, then take it indoors for a Saturday night afterparty at the Fillmore and some Sunday workshops. Sat/12, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., free. Speedway Meadow, Golden Gate Park, SF. powertothepeaceful.org

NO BABIES

No breeding, just a Morlock-taking noise barrage when the East Bay four are in the nursery. With 2Up and Afternoon Brother. Tues/15, 9 p.m., $6. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com

Mind your own

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There’s no filmmaker working today who more accurately captures awkward moments than Andrew Bujalski. Funny Ha Ha (2002), Mutual Appreciation (2005), and his new Beeswax unfold like fly-on-the-wall documentaries (though they’re all scripted by Bujalski), following ordinary folks doing everyday things: toiling at temp jobs, crushing on a friend’s significant other, bullshitting around the kitchen table, and generally trying to negotiate the dramas of life that are both small and life-changing.

In 2005, Bujalski told me that he bristles every time he hears his films called "Cassavetes-esque." I suspect he’s also weary of the term "mumblecore," though he’s used it in interviews (and, according to Wikipedia, it was coined by a sound editor who’d worked with Bujalski.) But his films are at the forefront of the genre (see also: Humpday, 2005’s The Puffy Chair), and they’ve consistently defined its characteristics, with amateur actors shot using bare-bones techniques in naturalistic settings. Funny Ha Ha, about a recent college grad trying to figure out what to with her life, stayed in theaters for years, popping up in San Francisco more than once. Mutual Appreciation, a black-and-white look at a Brooklyn musician trying, uh, to figure out what to do with his life, opened locally but overall had less exposure.

Beeswax will surely lure Bujalski fans, but even those who think they hate mumblecore won’t be disappointed by this tale. It’s his best and most mature work to date, focusing on Austin, Texas twins Jeannie (Tilly Hatcher) and Lauren (Maggie Hatcher). Bujalski’s in his 30s now, and his characters — while still facing uncertain futures — have slightly more adult concerns. Vintage shop co-owner Jeannie (whose use of a wheelchair is presented matter-of-factly) worries that her aloof business partner is plotting a power grab, a conflict that unfolds alongside mini-crises, like cash register tape jamming or an employee having an emotional meltdown.

Seeking legal advice, she reignites her relationship with Merrill (Alex Karpovsky, playing the Bujalski role since the director doesn’t act in this one), who’s charming though prone to making accidentally rude remarks. Meanwhile, Lauren’s inability to find steady employment leads her to consider taking a spur-of-the-moment teaching job — in Kenya. As they fumble toward decisions emotional and practical, Beeswax simply steps back and observes. And as with all of Bujalski’s films, it’s hard not to get drawn in.

BEESWAX opens Fri/11 in Bay Area theaters.

Hobbs knobbin’

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superego@sfbg.com

SUPER EGO "My mission is progression," says BBC 1 Radio’s Experimental Show host DJ and left-field electronic music goddess Mary Anne Hobbs. "Everything should point to the future. If there’s any reason I’m here, it’s to build new causeways beyond classic sounds toward symbiotic textures. I cannot hang in suspended animation."

Hobbs is on the horn from Britain, and her droll Lancashire accent and signature breathy enthusiasm, combined with my wet-pantsed fanboy palpitations, is making it hard for me to keep up. I’m gushy, y’all. Because basically Mary Anne Hobbs is one of the coolest people on the planet, not only dedicating her considerable charisma to bringing challenging sounds to a wider audience and galvanizing a disparate community of bedroom knob-fiddlers — but also able to instantly conversation-hop from Kawasaki motorcycles (she’s made a multipart documentary about riding through Russia) to late Bay jazz oracle Alice Coltrane (the title of Hobbs’ excellent new Planet Mu platter of twisted audio thrills, Wild Angels, was inspired by a meditation on harpist Coltrane’s "cosmic arpeggios").

Although she’s been closely associated with dubstep and future bass, Hobbs eschews core genre sounds, yet she recognizes her role in helping dubstep become such a mainstream phenomenon in her native land. "I look after my small country of artists, and if extraordinary talents like Benga or Burial break through, I’m enormously pleased. But there’s still so much out there."

Mary Anne Hobbs, Wild Angels preview

Hobbs laughs when I mention her maternal reputation, but when I bring up the glaring invisibility of women on the scene, she says, "People just aren’t looking in the right places," and launches into a list of about 20 favorite females, including Vaccine, Blank Blue, and Ikonika before deftly nipping my typical American multiculti soapboxing in the bud. "I think many of these artists prefer not to be viewed through the prism of sexuality."

Wild Angels, Hobbs’ third compilation, moves away from dark dubstep toward the esoteric, sticky-starlight synth sound of Scotland’s LuckyMe collective (represented here by Hudson Mohawke, Mike Slott, and Rustie) with some West Coast rep coming from Nosaj Thing. More Cali cuts may make it onto future releases. "I’m so excited to be spinning in California again," Hobbs says. "The energy is incredible. I really feel that’s where it’s at right now." Agreed!

Get Freaky Afterburn featuring Mary Ann Hobbs Fri/11, 10 p.m.-3 a.m., $20/$25. 103 Harriet, SF. www.1015.com

BEAT DIMENSION

Synapse-melting live electronic showcase hosted by NYC’s Soundpieces, with the Austria’s Dorian Concept, Cinnaman, Flying Skulls, E Da Boss, and more…

Thu/10, 10 p.m., $5–$10. Paradise Lounge, 1501 Folsom, SF. www.paradisesf.com

HONEY DIJON

The scandalously fun transgender DJ brings her bubbly brand of runway house hoo-hoo to Temple’s main floor. Solid Bump Records electro-hosts the basement.

Fri/11, 10 p.m., $20. Temple, 540 Howard, SF. www.templesf.com

KINGDOM

Bass-heavy Brooklyn rave revivalist — with a light touch and some Bmore beats — has scored bigtime with his crazy "Mindreader" single on Fool’s Gold. Can he keep it up?

Sat/12, 10 p.m., $10. Elbo Room, 647 Valencia, www.elbo.com

TRIPLE THREAT

It’s a 10-year reunion for groundbreaking turntablist trio Vinroc, Shortkut, and Apollo — could it herald a return for actual vinyl skills? Sure hope so.

Sat/12, 10 p.m.-3 a.m., $15. Mighty, 119 Utah, SF. www.mighty119.com

In the pipeline

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le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS Bedazzled, bewildered, and bejuiced, I dream that I start an already started car, and instead of the grind of everyday catastrophe I get another level of startedness. An overdrive. An engine firing on more cylinders than it even has. This bodes well. For the first time in over three weeks, I wake up without a headache.

Still, I keep my appointment with my doctor. How could I not? I’ve been waiting to see her for 23 painful days. God bless Kaiser Permanente, it’s the best I can do!

And I love my doctor. Ever since she recommended duct tape for my warts (which worked), she has held a special spot in my heart. Speaking of which, there’s something else I want to talk to her about: my heart. Not in the ticker sense, but the other one. I’m in love, madly, and it is weirdly reciprocal and, even weirdlier … well, my girlfriend is a girl, this time.

Sorry for the deception. It was necessary, on account of complications.

True, her name is Romeo, and she’s boyishly beautiful and sooo oh oh oh, but the fact is the plumbing is female, and when we are together, which is becoming increasingly possible, sex is complex and constant, and the question of pregnancy does come into play.

Now:

Until now, I have only had sex with men since becoming a woman, so it didn’t matter. When I first started on hormones, my endocrinologist told me I would be irreversibly sterile within six months. It’s been four years. On the other hand, I come from a family of 11 with a history of post-vasectomy procreation, virgin births, etc.

So in addition to heads and hearts, we chatted — my primary care doctor and me — about genitals and such, and in the end she ordered me some labwork: the usual blood stuff, plus a semen analysis.

This is going to be fun, I thought.

Then, for good measure, she threw in an MRI. My eyes got wide.

"Well, every time you mention your headache you point to the same exact spot," she explained.

"An MRI would not only rule out a tumor, but also a leaking blood vessel, which could lead to an aneurism."

For the next three days I was in what would best be described as "a state." The headache was back, full force, and I needed constant acupuncture and/or massage therapy just to stop crying, let alone breathe. You know how it is … when you meet the love of your life, then die.

So as soon as the results of the MRI came back clean and I got over my initial euphoria, I started thinking about semen. I’d watched my doctor put the order into her computer, but when I went to the Kaiser lab with my little empty cup and a plan, the order wasn’t in the system. And the mean-ass bitch of a receptionist, whose name I would publish here if I could remember it, wouldn’t even call my doctor and ask. She wrote down a number for me to call.

Which turned out to be the advice nurse. Who eventually was able to leave a message with my doctor. So for the next couple hours I had to keep getting in line to see the meanie again, until finally the order was in, but it wasn’t for semen. It was something else.

So I had to call another advice nurse, and explain the situation again, and in case you didn’t know, it’s hard to be a woman with a semen sample, or trying to get one. Every person I talked to started out addressing me as ma’am, and ended up calling me sir. And the receptionist seemed to be enjoying making me talk to as many people as possible. I hate Kaiser. I hate my country.

I love my Romeo. After I gave up and was driving down to Berkeley, to work, she/he called again, from Germany. The other thing about being a woman with a semen sample is that it ain’t easy to come by. Pun intended. Testosterone, in my experience, does it any time, any place. Estrogen … unh-unh. Plan was to find a cozy bathroom stall, or broom closet, and have phone sex with Romeo, who had been looking forward to this all day. And calling me every 15 minutes.

"Not now," KP’d made me say again and again, to my love, to my life, who I crave like air. "I have a headache."

Later that day, while the kids were napping, Kaiser finally got it all sorted out. I got a call from the urology department, wanting to schedule me for a vasectomy.

I said, "um" …

No gag

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andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

Andrea is currently on vacation. This column originally ran in June 2006.

Dear Andrea:

About getting past my gag reflex while giving blow jobs: I have no idea of what’s the best way to practice this. I’ve tried bananas, but honestly that was just weird. I never bothered trying to deep-throat my ex because he was happy with a hand job. The new boyfriend has expressed much interest in it, and I think trying to deep-throat without practice first would be really awful. Any books on this? Recommended dildos? Anything?

Love,

Willing but Worried

Dear Will:

Indeed, but first let’s get our terms straight: Are you confutf8g the standard-issue blow job with the X-treme sport called "deep-throating" (taking the penis all the way into the throat), or has the boyfriend specifically requested the latter? "Deep-throating" has long had its place in the lexicon, but it has not replaced and ought not to replace "blow job," "giving head," or "going down on." They are not at all the same thing.

If all you two are interested in is mouth-penis contact, you shouldn’t need a textbook or a night of, you should pardon the expression, "cramming." You can practice a bit with nothing fancier or more banana-flavored than your own finger or a Popsicle stick, just to determine how far back you can tolerate an oral foreign body before you need to expel it. It does get easier with practice. Once you graduate to the real thing, you will find that the more control you take over the process (you do the moving, he just lies there being happy he has a penis), the less gaggy you will feel. If it still feels overly intrusive or out of control, wrap your hand (spit into it generously first, as though sealing a bargain) around the base and move this in concert with your mouth. Some men can easily detect the difference but many don’t care — friction is friction, after all, and warm, wet, and deep are usually good enough without having to get all picky about it. Most men enjoy a blow job, period, and few — I cannot say "none," but let’s not get distracted by the corner cases — get off on making girls gag or produce involuntary Roman showers.

If you can imagine yourself practicing on a dildo and not immediately collapse in giggles, you’re ahead of the game and I give you my blessing. Buy something realistically sized and inexpensive (jelly rubber, probably), pretend it’s attached to your boyfriend (the sillier the color the harder this is to carry off, I imagine) and see how deep, fast, et cetera, you can go without gagging. Keeping your neck straight and head slightly back are supposed to help, although the often recommended lie-on-your-back-with-your-head-off-the-edge-of-the-bed position strikes me as ill advised at best, since we are trying to avoid panic here, and what could be more panic inducing than having your airway and vocal capability cut off while somebody straddles your chest? Try lying prone or crouching, with the dildo upright as though projecting jauntily from your boyfriend’s pelvis as he lies on his back, and practice opening your throat as though chugging a beer or saying "Ah."

You may find, in time, that you really can control your gag reflex. The feedback provided by a real live boyfriend, though, in the form of appreciative gasps and groans, is a motivator the likes of which mere plastic, no matter how colorful, will never achieve. Not, at any rate, with today’s technology. Androids and replicants haven’t yet started rolling off the assembly lines and into our toy boxes.

Faking it with inanimate objects will only get you so far; if you really want to learn, you’re going to have to try it on the real thing. I don’t know your boyfriend, but I bet he’d be game for a little experimentation. Just make sure that the session is approached as an experiment, and that neither of you brings to it unrealistic expectations of immediate, spectacular success. Nobody’s born knowing how to do this sort of thing, at least not until those replicants get here.

If you two get this far and wish to — oh heck, there’s no better way to put this — go a little deeper, there’s good information to be found in instructional videos and DVDs, like the ones Nina Hartley puts out, and in books such as Violet Blue’s The Ultimate Guide to Fellatio, which contains nifty tips like how to keep your lipstick perfect throughout, as well as, yes, bona fide deep-throating techniques. I think deep-throating is overrated, myself, but then, I only borrow a penis and ought to defer here to those who possess them full time.

One last word of warning: Yes, there can be a somewhat unpleasant surprise at the end of a successful blow job. Inform him that he is responsible for early warning and withdrawal, no "whoopsies" allowed. This probably ought to be considered nonnegotiable at the beginning, subject to later review.

Love,

Andrea

See Andrea’s other column at carnalnation.com

Untamed

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johnny@sfbg.com

REVIEW Amanda Kirkhuff is drawn to wild women. In a 2007 show at [2nd Floor Projects], she used black and green ink to render some female icons whose strengths are laced with ambivalence. For example, in a portrait of Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the pissy, vindictive self-help guru is rendered-times-five in a manner that emphasizes the manic energy in her eyes. (Even Schlessinger’s hair, "painstakingly detailed" by Kirhuff, Ava Jancar noted in a Guardian review, seems slightly feral.) Likewise, in close-up looks at Mo’Nique from the same exhibition, the comedian and actress seems ready to burst out of her skin with ferocity and hunger — a craving for hilarity? No doubt about it: large and in charge in a manner akin to but also very different from Mo’Nique, Kirkhuff’s work has a tremendous, at times radical, sense of humor.

Two year later at the same space, Kirkhuff has turned her attention to another famous woman with a highly-charged image: Lorena Bobbitt. In "here comes every body," a group exhibition at Margaret Tedesco’s space, Kirkhuff looks at the woman known for cutting off her drunken louse of a husband’s penis after a rape. Her visions are funny in a shiver-inducing, exciting way. They’re also revelatory in terms of psychological twists, and in one case psychological depth.

Kirkhuff’s oil on canvas portrait Lorena Bobbitt pulls the viewer past its gaudy and ostentatious gold frame into an eye-to-eye encounter. To try to describe the wildness — the mix of woundedness, defiance, and spark of ideas and action — in her eyes is a doomed venture. (A self-portrait by Kirkhuff in a recent show at Ratio 3 S-M porn-themed "Safe Word" had a similar boldness.) Her hair is lush and dark, and the paintings’ colors are rich, an on-the-brink mix between old master classicism and lurid pulp. The overall piece is a great work, one of the best paintings to emerge from the Bay Area in years, and even more exciting when thought of amongst a new wave of California paintings by young artists such as Neil Ledoux and Conrad Ruiz.

One kicker of Kirkhuff’s latest [2nd Floor Projects] appearance comes in the form of another Bobbitt piece. Placed kiddie corner from the oil painting, a large diptych drawing depicts Bobbitt cradling something bloody in some cloths. Here, she seems to have regressed into a childish state, and her actions take on a quality of both obedient housework and rebellious secretiveness. There’s an electricity, a thrilling charge to the dynamic between the two works, and how they are arranged in relation to one another. Slightly less compelling, but arresting nonetheless, is Judy with the Head of Holofernes, a cranium-severer’s nod to classicism that’s a stark cousin of Bay Area creatorJamie Vasta’s glitter explorations of the same subject, and also bears a truly funny resemblance to the recent “Unborn” series by another local artist, Desiree Holman.

Kirkhuff is that rare young artist who combines technical facility with actual content that isn’t just art school wankery. More impressively, her still small (in terms of number) body of work to date has a definite arc. She is tapping into pop cultural femininity in a manner that has grown past the rigid binaries or blindness regarding self-critique that some might associate with pop culture feminism. She’s after something more truthful and primal, and her talent allows her to reach it and capture it and yet leave it enigmatic. There’s some untamed ambivalence at play in her imagery, except she and the women she sees aren’t playing, at all. The fact that a self-portrait is at the center of the second of the three main shows she’s taken part in hints that she’s only just begun, so to speak.

One last thing: I like it that Kirkhuff thanks "all the queers" in her notes for the show. Gotta keep the faith amid crossover and cultural vampirism. She makes it easy to do. *

HERE COMES EVERY BODY

Through Sun/13

[2nd Floor Projects]

www.projects2ndfloor.blogspot.com

Lawns to highrises

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rebeccab@sfbg.com

When Aaron Goodman walks the grounds at Parkmerced, a sprawling apartment complex spanning about 116 acres in southwestern San Francisco, he picks up on details that might escape the notice of a casual observer. A gregarious tour guide, he chatters on enthusiastically about the unique design elements of an entryway or townhouse facade, the curve of a knee-high brick wall defining the slope of a courtyard, the simple elegance of a tiered planter or classic window frame, or the spacious feel of a breezeway that opens onto shared grassy space encircled by backyard terraces. "No two courtyards are alike," Goodman says. "Each one is like a little vignette."

An architect who lives in a rental unit in one of Parkmerced’s towers, Goodman is on a mission to document the complex’s 1940s-era courtyard landscapes — but he’s racing against the clock. Landscape and carpentry crews are constantly rearranging things before he can get to them, he says — and those piecemeal cosmetic changes are nothing in comparison with what’s coming.

A total overhaul has been proposed for Parkmerced. The low-rise town houses would be razed, the landscape drastically altered, and an additional 5,665 housing units constructed, nearly tripling the number of residents that can be accommodated.

Goodman regards the plan as a "total tear-down," an affront to the work of the influential landscape architect who designed the grounds, and a terrible waste.

But Skidmore, Owens and Merrill, the internationally renowned architecture firm hired by the owner, a real-estate investment group called Parkmerced Investors LLC, describes the future Parkmerced as a cutting-edge eco-neighborhood that would provide the city with desperately needed rental housing. "This will be the largest sustainable revitalization project on the West Coast — perhaps in the entire nation," says Craig Hartman, the principal architect. "Our goal is to create an international model of environmentally sustainable urban living, and all our decisions are being made in that context."

A development of this scale would fundamentally change the feel of an entire San Francisco neighborhood. It’s also, potentially, a case study in one of the most complex urban planning problems of our time.

"This is the kind of problem that America is going to be faced with over and over in the coming decades," Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, told us. "It’s this question of how do we retrofit suburbia?"

Parkmerced is one of many similar areas developed after World War II, "when people hated cities," Metcalf said, "when the idea was that everybody would drive everywhere, and it was a sort of new town in town. It’s a period piece. It’s from a time when people were trying to escape density and traditional Victorian patterns like in the Tenderloin or SoMa or North Beach — [instead], you would have big lawns, and it would look very suburban."

But that model, most environmentalists and planner agree, isn’t sustainable. And activists say that the western part of the city, which has always resisted density, will have to accept more residents in the coming years.

But a development of this size and magnitude, driven by a profit-seeking real-estate operation, creates all sorts of other problems, including potential traffic disasters on the nightmare called 19th Avenue. And while much of the new housing will be rental and some will be affordable, it raises the question: is this the sort of new housing the city needs?

TOO MUCH WATER


The plans for Parkmerced are bold, and the construction timeline spans 15 to 20 years. The 11 towers on the site, which account for about half the 3,000-unit housing stock, would remain standing, while the low-scale apartment dwellings would be demolished to make way for a mix of taller buildings, including 11 new towers at about the same height. Once the project is complete, Parkmerced would have a total of nearly 8,900 housing units, with a mix of rental and for-sale properties.

"Our plan for Parkmerced will directly address the city’s housing shortage for households at all income levels," Hartman told the Guardian, adding that existing rental units would be preserved, and the project would comply with the city’s affordable-housing requirements. The city typically requires about 15 percent affordability, which would mean about 850 new below-market units — and 4,800 at market rate.

And while the complex was originally designed for middle-class families, the owners have been targeting San Francisco State University students — who typically have their parents co-sign the leases and who don’t present a rent-control issue, since they don’t stay long.

Sustainability and energy-efficiency are underpinnings of the project, according to Hartman. The poorly insulated garden apartments are moisture-ridden and inefficient, he said, and the entire neighborhood layout reflects the car-centric mentality of a bygone era. The landscape also poses a problem. "Maintaining the expansive lawns … requires the application of tons of fertilizer and wastes millions of gallons of drinking water annually. In fact, actual metering shows the consumption of 55 million gallons of potable water per year — just for irrigation."

Parkmerced residents would use 60 percent less energy and water per capita than they do now, according to Hartman, through efficiency improvements and investments in renewable energy sources. Plans also call for an organic farm and a network of bike paths. A storm-water management system would naturally filter runoff and use it to recharge Lake Merced, which has been seeping lower in recent years.

The developers hope to re-route the Muni M line through the complex to make transit more accessible. New retail would eliminate the need to drive somewhere for something as simple as a quart of milk.

"To me what’s most exciting about this is, if they get it right, it’s actually taking an area that right now generates a ton of car trips, and making it walkable," Metcalf said.

But Goodman and others have suggested that Parkmerced should be designated as a landmark, which would hamper development plans, precisely because its character is reminiscent of that postwar era. A draft report issued by Page & Turnbull, a historic-architecture firm, found that Parkmerced would be eligible for designation as a historic district on the California and national registers of historic places.

It was built in the 1940s by Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. as part of a government-supported effort to supply housing for the middle-class and families of servicemembers. The "courtyard vignettes" bear the mark of Thomas Dolliver Church, regarded as the founding father of the modern movement in landscape design.

"It was Church’s biggest public project," notes Inge Horton, an architect and former regional planner with the San Francisco Planning Department who completed an historic assessment of Parkmerced for Docomomo, the International Committee for Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites and Neighborhoods of the Modern Movement. Horton has mixed feelings about the proposed development. "It is one of these things where the developer or owner proposes to tear down all the low-rise buildings and put up a high-rise and make it a little bit green," Horton said. "Sorry to be so cynical."

Goodman wonders just what’s so sustainable about demolishing buildings that the owners have just sunk millions of dollars into for fix-ups and cosmetic repairs. "When you look at the overall site, it’s a functioning community — and it’s essential housing," he says, wondering why it can’t be reused and expanded," he says.

Hartman says he views the site "as an architect," and finds it to be incongruous with San Francisco’s character. "To be frank, the architecture is unworthy of this extraordinary site," he says. Instead, he sees potential for what it could be: a pioneering example of a green neighborhood that uses urban density to meet the challenge of climate change.

MOVING OUT


At a public meeting held in June to discuss the future plans, residents shared their anxiety about being forced to move. Some tenants, particularly seniors, have lived there for decades in rent-controlled units. Parkmerced Investors has promised that those residents would be able to maintain their current rents in brand new, comparatively sized apartments. But Goodman points out that many would lose their meticulously cared-for garden plots and be forced to adapt to life in a high-rise instead.

About half the tenants are college students who attend San Francisco State, which lies adjacent to Parkmerced. District 7 Sup. Sean Elsbernd, who represents the neighborhood, told the Guardian that he often receives complaints from his constituents about "keggers" that go on until the wee morning hours.

"Parkmerced is such a fascinating societal study," Elsbernd noted. "You’ve got a lot of folks who’ve been there since it was built, but really the vast majority now are students at San Francisco State who are so transient and really aren’t terribly invested in the neighborhood."

Elsbernd said he also shares a different concern, which came across at the meeting loud and clear: traffic. Although development plans emphasize cycling, Muni access, and a shuttle that would carry passengers to the Daly City BART, the redesign would come with a grand total of more than 11,000 on-street and off-street parking spaces. And it’s situated along the 19th Avenue corridor, which is already notorious for traffic snarls (and for pedestrian deaths). Some fear the combination of two new developments would fuel perpetual, dangerous gridlock.

"At minimum, we’re talking 5,000 additional vehicular trips a day," said Calvin Welch, a longtime affordable housing activist. "You couldn’t build housing further from where people work if you tried." Welch regards the smart-growth school of thought, enthusiastically endorsed by SPUR, with skepticism. The pitfall, he says, is "allowing high-density development in transit-oriented neighborhoods … and then finding out that people drive."

On the other hand, Welch said, market-rate rental housing is much more affordable than market-rate condominiums, so Parkmerced will provide a service compared to the condos that are pricing so many middle-class families out of San Francisco. And the eastern half of the city has had its share of new residential development, so building new rental units in the western half might be an appropriate counterbalance.
Goodman said he has his own vision for Parkmerced, which would employ adaptive reuse of the existing structures and ensure truly affordable housing for people of modest means. "If I had money and tons of land and all the power in the world, I’d do it a completely different way," he says. "But I don’t. I’m a tenant living on site."

The harshest cut

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news@sfbg.com

"I wake up at night at 3:30, hearing the logging trucks and knowing what’s happening," Susan Robinson complains. "It makes me sick."

Robinson lives just off State Route 4 in Arnold, a Calaveras County community perched on the western slope of the Sierra.

For the past nine years, this feisty retiree has been clamoring to get Sierra Pacific Industries, California’s leading timber company, to stop clear-cutting the forest. "I’m the daughter of a forester myself. I am not anti-logging," she told us. "Of course, SPI should be able to log its land. But it shouldn’t have the right to obliterate everything."

A decade ago, logging and forestry practices in the Sierra were big news. Media reports, protests, and legislative action focused on SPI’s practice of slicing through entire large tracts of land, hacking down every tree, bush, and seedling and leaving nothing but devastation behind.

But most of the news media have long since moved on to other issues — and the clear-cutting continues. If anything, the pace at which SPI is felling the forest has hastened since the intensive logging controversies grabbed headlines in the 1990s.

"When I recently read the June 2000 issue of the Guardian exposing SPI’s activities in the Sierra, I was pained because I thought, ‘Wow! This could have been written yesterday,’" said Marily Woodhouse, a Sierra Club organizer in Shasta County.

It’s not as if nothing has changed under the Sierra sun. Some timber companies have adopted more responsible practices. But SPI is still a major problem. And as the largest private landowner in the state, its footprint is huge. Conservation activists have been exploring new opposition tactics while maintaining their diligent efforts on the legislative, legal, and educational fronts.

Susan Robinson and the other members of the Ebbetts Pass Forest Watch often take visitors to tour the backcountry roads and see the damage for themselves. On Winton Road, plots managed by SPI are adjacent to the Stanislaus National Forest, which is administered by the U.S. Forest Service — and the contrast is staggering.

Patches SPI harvested two years ago are still bare due to herbicide spraying. Between stumps, 10-inch-long replanted ponderosa pines may poke their frail limbs out of the churned soil, but there’s nothing left on a 20-acre lot for deer, bobcats, raccoons, or woodpeckers to eat, rest on, or breed in. No bees pollinating. No chickarees denning. It will take decades for the seedlings to reach maturity.

On the opposite side of the gravel road, on Forest Service land, sugar pines, ponderosa pines, lodgepole pines, incense cedars, oaks, and white firs of different ages shelter ferns, mushrooms, and berry plants. The forest has been thinned to reduce fire hazard, but it has not been converted to a monoculture tree farm.

"What grows back after you clear-cut is a plantation," said Doug Bevington of Environment Now. "A forest is not simply a collection of trees. What makes a forest a vibrant ecosystem is its diversity, having different species and different ages. And it’s the diversity of the forest that creates the habitat to support more species of life."

CLEAR-CUT FRENZY


You don’t need to travel to the Sierra to get the picture — connecting to Google Earth will suffice. Zoom into Arnold and levitate above Highway 4. Beyond the lush forest "beauty strips," the landscape looks like a moth-eaten blanket of evergreens.

Over the past 10 years, SPI has clear-cut 18 square miles in Calaveras County alone. (Clear-cut also includes slightly more moderate logging techniques that leave few trees and snags remaining on an otherwise desert-like tract.)

State records show that between 1996 and 2006 SPI clear-cut 270,000 acres of forests and dumped 335,000 pounds of herbicide into the soil. That’s roughly 420 square miles of scalped woodland. SPI isn’t the only timber company clear-cutting in this state, it just happens to be the most zealous. And it owns 1.7 million acres.

Proponents and opponents of clear-cutting agree on one point: it’s the most productive and the cheapest way to grow timber. But environmentalists say the ecosystems pay a heavy price for the practice.

Mark Pawlicki, SPI’s director of government affairs, told us that the company meets the standards set by the state’s Forest Practice Rules, and that Californian clear-cutting regulations are the strictest in the country. California allows 20 acre cuts; in Washington, the denuded area can reach 240 acres.

Timber harvest plans are not only reviewed the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), but also by the California Department of Fish and Game, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, and the California Geological Survey. Recently, SPI has even started to replant its clear-cuts with two or three different tree species.

The scientific community recognizes that clear-cutting has greater ecological impacts than any other harvesting method. Such radical treatment may be the only way to salvage logs from woods killed by insects or fire. And the industry is forced to mitigate some of the impacts — buffer zones, for instance, are required for waterways supporting aquatic life.

But that’s not enough: the tiny tributaries feeding the waterways aren’t protected, so sediment and debris can end up in the protected streams, affecting water quality, fish species, and amphibians. The water cycle is inevitably disrupted, with snowpack melting earlier in the season and rainfall running off the naked slopes. The fragmentation of the forest displaces animals that move around for their living, putting pressure on surrounding lands.

Environmental organizations are also concerned about exacerbation of climate change.

In national forests, clear-cutting has been phased out for more than a decade. Members of Ebbetts Pass Forest Watch wonder why the state can’t make the same rules for private loggers.

"I do reckon that private companies have to make profits," said Forest Watch activist Addie Jacobson. "But we do see companies like Collins Pine harvest timber in a way that all of us are happy with yet make some profit."

GREEN WOOD


Collins Pine has been managing 94,000 acres of timberland in Plumas and Tehama counties since 1941. It primarily uses selective cutting, where only certain trees are sparsely removed. Chief forester Jay Francis says that after a month, you can hardly tell a logged area from a pristine one.

"Our owners do not want us to do anything that compromises the values of our Sierra mixed-conifer forest, whether its wildlife, clean water, recreation, esthetics," he told us. "So we do a very minor amount of clear-cutting. In fact, we just turned in a plan for a 15-acre clear-cut for health reasons. We have an infestation of root-rots in an area. That’s probably the first clear-cut we’ve done in 50 years."

Those cuts are less than six acres wide, meeting the rules of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an international organization that certifies sustainable forest management. Since its inception in 1993, FSC has developed standards to accommodate the commercial, social, and environmental values of forestland. It has the backing of the world’s leading environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund. Consumers can rely on its label to buy environmentally and socially responsible wood products.

Collins Pine was the first privately held logging company in North America to receive FSC certification, in 1993. There are now 22 certified companies.

Gary Dodge, director of science at FSC U.S., contrasted FSC’s approach to wildlife with CAL FIRE’s, which only protects state-listed endangered species. "We also believe that it’s the role of the forest to prevent common species from becoming rare, or prevent rare species from becoming extinct," he said.

In the iconic North Coast redwoods of Mendocino County, the Mendocino Redwood Company has taken its cue from Collins Pine. In 1998, MRC took over 228,800 acres from the environmental villain Louisiana Pacific. From the start, MRC managers stated that they aimed for the business to be a good steward and a successful business. The company received FSC certification in 2000.

"There are a lot of models for what it means to be a successful business, but there are fewer for what it means to be a steward of the land," Sandy Dean, chairman of MRC, told us. "We think quite literally that it is to leave it better than we found it. It includes a reduction in the level of harvest, the elimination of clear-cutting, and the adoption of a specific policy to protect old-growth trees."

SPI is not impressed by this trend. "By and large, the companies that exclusively use selective logging just have a different objective than we do," Pawlicki said. "They’re not growing as much timber as we are."

SPI, nevertheless, is also using the buzz-word sustainability. According to Pawlicki, the state of California requires timber companies to be sustainable anyway. "You can’t cut more than you grow under California law." Jumping on the green-building bandwagon, SPI has also sought certification — with an organization called the Sustainable Forest Initiative that is not recognized by the LEED green building rating system.

NEW BATTLEGROUNDS


These days, conservation activists are trying out new strategies to compel SPI to straighten up its act. ForestEthics’ Save the Sierra campaign aims at protecting forests using the market as a weapon. "The average person may not have heard of SPI," said activist Joshua Buswell Charkow, "but they know its clients: Home Depot, Lowe’s, Kolbe & Kolbe [Millwork Company].

Some environmental groups still resort to litigation. "I’m not too optimistic to think that the industry will reform itself," said Brendan Cummings from the Center for Biological Diversity.

The center recently filed three lawsuits against CAL FIRE for approving timber harvest plans without properly analyzing the greenhouse gas emissions from each specific project. Instead, the agency accepted SPI’s broad assertion that growing its tree plantation over the next 100 years would offset the immediate carbon release caused by plowing the soil and burning the slash. But even if that’s true, the nature of the climate crisis is such that we need to curb emissions right now, said Cummings. In response, SPI withdrew its plans.

Concerned Sierra citizens are also challenging logging plans in the courts. In Shasta County, Marily Woodhouse has been opposing a plan to clear-cut 809 acres in the vicinity of the Digger Creek that flows through her town of Manton for fear it will disrupt an already heavily logged watershed. The Battle Creek Alliance, the coalition she helped form, filed suit in January 2008. "What happens if they drop a plan? Eventually they come back again," she said.

"The lawsuits do slow things down. But the fact is, [the loggers are] never going away."

Past experience has taught activists to be wary. Ten years ago, when SPI’s frenetic activity first came under public scrutiny, rallies and media coverage curtailed the timber giants’ greed. Yuba Valley residents led a protest against a plan to scrape 171 acres along the banks of the South Yuba River. And farther South, locals from Arnold faced with an 884-acre clear-cut launched Ebbetts Pass Forest Watch. SPI kept a low profile for a while, even declaring to the press it would scale back clear-cutting in Calaveras County — only to redouble its practices a few months down the road.

The Yuba River site has been spared, thanks to the intervention of the Trust for Public Land, which has been able to purchase 110,000 acres from SPI. Those parcels, also located in the Tahoe region and Humboldt County, were transferred to public ownership for conservation.

On the policy front, Forests Forever has been leading the charge for 20 years. The lobbying group has sponsored three initiatives in Sacramento to ban or further restrict clear-cutting. The last bill was killed by the Assembly Natural Resources Committee in April 2008.

"There’s a lingering sense that logging is still an economic driver in the state," said Forests Forever executive director Paul Hughes. "But tourism and retirement, which depend on healthy forests, actually contribute more to the economy."

Skeptics say that 80 percent of the wood used in California comes from Washington and Oregon or from the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, where clear-cutting is the norm anyway. But as Hughes put it, "You’ve got to start somewhere to fight this abomination."

The searchers

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a&eletters@sfbg.com
When there is no firm ground, the only sensible thing to do is to keep moving. Lester Bangs wrote that, but countless wandering souls have lived it since the first humans stumbled across the continents. Long after land bridges dissolved and the great cities of the world were mapped, San Francisco — the legendary land’s-end haven for dreamers, kooks, and hedonists — became a butterfly net for the world’s drifters. Prismatic crowds have come and gone through the decades, helping to grow one of the world’s great music scenes.

"There’s just a certain point where you realize that nothing is going to satisfy you all the time," muses Christopher Owens, one of two masterminds behind the SF band Girls. "The solution is to be a person who’s always looking for the next thing. Oscar Wilde said that the meaning of life is the search for meaning of life. But there is no meaning to life — it’s just never laying down and accepting your surroundings, even if they’re comfortable. It’s like the Rolling Stones song, "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction." I think I’ve always felt like that, and always will be like that."

Girls, “Lust for Life”

Looking up from peeling the label off a kombucha bottle and blinking his big eyes, Chet "JR" White nonchalantly nods: "I’m really never content, hardly ever happy, but every once in a while I’m both. Everything’s about getting somewhere else, I think."

While most bands fade slowly or implode, ever so rarely one explodes into something transcendent because it’s hit a nerve or two and tapped into the human experience in a profound way. Girls is that kind of band. Owens and White have been around for years, playing raucous live shows while quietly perfecting their imminent debut LP, Album (True Panther/Matador). A collection of glam-pop with that genre’s flair for artifice, it also — unlike traditional glam pop — possesses an emotional authenticity absent from so much music being churned out today.

Owens and White first united as roommates in San Francisco, but their lives couldn’t have started out more differently. While White was playing in punk bands in his parents’ Santa Cruz garage and going to recording school, Owens was growing up as part of the Slovenian sect of the Children of God cult, where secular music was forbidden unless one of the cult’s adults decided to indulge the younger members’ desire to learn the occasional Beatles or 1960s folk tune.

Owens broke away from the Children of God at 16 to live with his sister in Amarillo, Texas. Everything the rest of us had heard a thousand times before we were teenagers was a revelation to him. "When I learned to play the guitar, I was still in the cult and I didn’t really know anything but their music," he says. "When I turned 16 and left the group, it was like the whole world was in front of me. I got the Cranberries, the Cure, Black Sabbath, Sinead O’Connor, Michael Jackson, and the Romeo + Juliet movie soundtrack, and I’d play them on my stereo in my room and learn them and play guitar. The next wave was pop music. When I turned 18, I had become an American teen."

Owens was quickly engulfed by the small town’s punk scene: "I threw away seven years of my life there. All I have is tattoos from Amarillo." He played in a few punk bands, the music drawing him in because it was "really angsty." But after a few years, he felt the itch to do something new. "There wasn’t really anything in particular that drew me to San Francisco," he says. "I made a commitment that I was gonna leave Amarillo on New Year’s Day in 2005. All my friends moved to Austin, which I thought was the lamest thing in the world. I wanted absolute change. I wanted to totally reinvent myself and leave all those people behind."

Shortly after he landed in the Bay Area, Owens was asked to join the L.A. band Holy Shit. "I only played in the band because I was totally obsessed with Ariel Pink and Matt Fishbeck," he says, referring to the band’s underground-hero founders. "I started to write these songs to impress them and to vent my feelings, but the main driving force was that I wanted to be like them so much. I kept thinking I’m gonna make something that’s gonna blow their minds. I wanted to make something really classic that everyone could say they liked."

And that’s what he did. Owens wrote dozens of songs inspired by his friends, ex-lovers, and San Francisco itself, and recorded them, guided by White’s keen ear for grandeur. After scrapping song takes recorded on a four-track, the pair spent money on a proper tape machine and used only a few microphones to keep Album crisp and clear.

"I like big, amazing sounding records," says engineering wizard and bassist White, who counts Wrecking Crew bassist Carol Kaye as an influence. "I hate lo-fi music. Early on, people would call us lo-fi and I would take it kind of hard. We were just attempting to make the best-sounding thing we could with what we had — as good as any big record that had a lot of money put into it. I always like records that are made under some sort of duress. I think those records are great, if you can hear it. When I hear ours, I can hear the moments that go along with the music."

With Album, Owens and White edge closer to timelessness than any of their San Francisco contemporaries. While much of the city’s rock scene is embroiled in a hot and noisy love affair with psychedelic garage music, the boys of Girls have come up with something different: classic melodic songs for a restless soul in search of freedom and purpose in this whirlwind world. It doesn’t hurt that behind Owens’ lyrical pearls one discovers lush and unadulterated arrangements and majestic Wall of Sound-esque moments.

Album‘s magnum opus, "Hellhole Ratrace," is a plaintive hymn about the urge to cut loose and live. It starts off with simple guitar strumming, which in turn is soon immersed in a mesmerizing swell of buried organ work, slow hand claps, and trilling guitars that elevates it into an anthem. "I don’t wanna die without shaking up a leg or two /I wanna do some dancin’ too," sings Owens. "I don’t wanna cry /my whole life through /Yeah I wanna do some laughin’ too / So come on, come on, come on, come on and dance with me."

This year has already been one hell of a ride for Girls, which now includes guitarist John Anderson ("He’s the best guitar player I’ve ever played with in my life," says Owens) and drummer Garett Godard. The group has been on tour nearly constantly for several months across America and Europe. For a pair of nomads like Owens and White, it seems like the perfect gig, at least for now. Both harbor dreams of being thrust into the canon with the rest of the greats, and that reality may not be so far off.

"I want to write a song that’s as good as "Let It Be" or "I Will Always Love You." I want to write a song that everybody in the world knows," says Owens, glancing at his bandmate.

"I just want to be one of those bands that becomes culturally ingrained, one of those bands that’s unavoidable," echoes White. "One of those bands that is larger than music itself."

Impassioned youth, existential wisdom, and stories of aching romance weave together to make Album a slice of true Californian pop that never stops hitting home. When you hear Owens’ voice, unshackled by fuzz or distortion, crooning about the fear of dying before ever accomplishing anything, you remember that you’ve felt the same way dozens of times too. And when he starts chirping, "I wish I had a suntan /I wish I had a pizza and a bottle of wine," on the sarcastic, ecstatic opener "Lust for Life," you want to drop everything and run through the streets to join him.

GIRLS

With Papercuts, Cass McCombs

Wed/9, 9 p.m., $14–$16

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF

(888) 233-0449

www.gamh.com

Bad Brains

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PREVIEW Most Bad Brains fans can remember where they were the first time they heard the DC hardcore legends’ self-titled debut (ROIR, 1982.) For me, it was during an extended drive through Utah with my parents, a trip made memorable by a fortuitous stop at a strip mall with a Sam Goody. (My Damaged story is a lot cooler, I swear.) The album did nothing to improve my PMA during the car ride, but I vividly remember finding Bad Brains’ sheer unhinged speediness awe-inspiring, and not a little disorienting. Though somewhat of a cliché at this point, it bears repeating that Bad Brains — all 34 breakneck minutes of it — started an arms race of speed and aggression that would germinate into the hardcore movement. The other side to the record, however, was the handful of incongruous reggae/dub tracks, measured interruptions to the album’s typical rock ‘n’ roll onslaught. By their third album, I Against I (SST, 1986), Bad Brains had begun mixing the two genres more fluidly, resulting in what would become the band’s trademark style.

Aside from establishing themselves as genre pioneers too singular for flat-out imitation, Bad Brains have also gained the reputation of being some of rock’s most volatile live performers, with all the pros and cons that title carries. Stories of vocalist (or "throat," as he’s memorably identified as in the liner notes) H.R.’s epileptic stage presence are the stuff of punk rock folklore, making concerts unpredictable affairs to be sure. Lucky for us, he’ll be anchored by the original lineup: Darryl Jennifer on bass, Earl Hudson on drums, Dr. Know on guitar, natch. Our Summer rager-mode has deactivated; it’s time for reignition. 

BAD BRAINS With P.O.S., Trouble Andrew. Tues/15–Wed/16, 8 p.m. (doors 7 p.m.), $26, all ages. Slim’s, 333 11th St. (415) 255-0333. www.slims-sf.com>.

Lights, camera, kink!

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a&eletters@sfbg.com

For most of us, erotic film is more a means to an end than an event unto itself — not to mention something to be enjoyed in private. This month, Good Vibrations offers a prime opportunity to break free from that conception and celebrate erotica in a thoroughly public way. On Sept. 17, the Good Vibrations Independent Erotic Film Festival returns to the Castro Theatre: two hosts, 11 finalists, and countless displays of kink, fetish, and good old-fashioned perversion.

According to festival director Camilla Lombard, Good Vibes received 50 submissions from all over the world. What was once regional has become international, and the formerly one-night event is being spread out across an entire week. Starting Sept. 12, Good Vibes is hosting a series of events, including a "Blue Movie Night" and a screening of the classic The Devil in Miss Jones (1973) — with Miss Jones herself, Georgina Spelvin, in attendance.

The climax (no pun intended) is the Sept. 17 Castro Theatre screening, hosted by Peaches Christ and Dr. Carol Queen. Audience members will vote on the short films, which range from softcore to hardcore, sexy to sexier. The linking characteristic of these pieces is their objectivity — it’s not about what the mainstream porn industry says is hot. It’s up to the filmmakers and, naturally, their audience to decide.

Travis Mathews’ In Their Room finds its eroticism in the reality of male sexuality rather than in the act itself. Mathews interviewed a group of BUTT magazine readers in their bedrooms, getting his subjects to uncover themselves — literally and figuratively.

"I think we’re so desensitized in the traditional realm of what’s erotic and what’s pornographic that it just becomes not sexy," he explains. "The things that are interesting to me in porn are the little glimpses of things that are real or are authentic or mess-ups."

Though more explicit, Let Me Tell You John Cameron Mitchell by Paul Festa is equally unconventional. His piece was edited down from his audition tape for John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus (2006). A "remix" of the original, Festa’s short fits with the festival’s theme of subjective appreciation. As he puts it, "When you remove what you thought was the heart of it, it actually gives the reader or viewer something to do."

And then there are films with no nudity at all, like Nara Denning’s Neurotique No. 4, a strange silent movie that hints at the erotic but remains essentially chaste. Denning shares a sentiment similar to Festa’s: "I left it kind of open for [the audience] to interpret."

Unless you’re an open-minded pansexual hornball, there’s a good chance you won’t find all 11 films arousing, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Good Vibes intends their fest to be about choice and diversity, not about getting off — though standing O’s (pun fully intended) are not discouraged, of course.

GOOD VIBRATIONS INDEPENDENT EROTIC FILM FESTIVAL Sept 12–17, various venues and prices, www.gv-ixff.org/film

Obituary

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PREVIEW Inevitable vocal chord-corrosion aside, many of death metal’s earliest bands have managed to stay exciting for a remarkably long time. Working within a genre that tends to shift toward increasingly challenging frontiers, an elite corps of older acts seems to find inspiration in recent innovations, or, conversely, forgotten older tropes due for a nostalgic revisiting. So how do we account for the enduring relevance of Obituary, a group known for its unwavering devotion to metal at its most primal essence?

Obituary’s legend began in Florida, 1985. Playing under the somewhat hokey moniker of Xecutioner (imagine how badass that would look scrawled in a spiral bound notebook) the band soon rechristened itself with its current nom de metal, and released a string of landmark records. With Slowly We Rot (Roadrunner, 1989), Obituary introduced a heavy bottom end stomp to the still-nebulous genre, a rancid meatiness that imbued its thrash metal foundation with Sabbath-like authority. On standout cuts like "Intoxicated," Donald Tardy’s punky upbeats propel the crunchy bass and rhythm guitar forward with manic intensity — before plunging them into one of the single greatest breakdowns ever recorded, a dumbass berzerker groove unmatched in hypnotic power. (Gorilla Biscuits’ "Big Mouth" [from Gorilla Biscuits, Revelation, 1988] and, perhaps, Suffocation’s "Liege of Inveracity" [from Effigy of the Forgotten, Roadrunner, 1991] come close.)

Obituary has consistently explored the power of steamroller directness laid down in the musical DNA of its first release, allowing monolithic power chords to resonate in ways a thousand sweep-pick solos and orchestral flourishes — full of sound and fury but signifying nothing, as the poet says — never could. Oh, and John Tardy’s voice? Just as offensive as always.

OBITUARY With Goatwhore, Krisiun, The Berzerker. Thurs/10, 7:30 p.m. (doors 7 p.m.), $28–$30, all ages. Slim’s, 333 11th St., SF. (415) 255-0333. www.slims-sf.com

San Francisco Fringe Festival

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PREVIEW There is literally something for everyone at this year’s 18th annual San Francisco Fringe Festival. Don’t try to argue, man — this year’s slate, which jams over 250 performances of over 40 experimental works by companies near and far into just under two weeks, is incredibly diverse. And though the old judging-a-book-by-its-cover cliché definitely applies to theater, some of the titles here are pretty irresistable: Hell, the Musical (inhabitants include a Valencia Street dyke and a Marina ditz); Spider Baby the musical (based on the 1968 movie subtitled The Maddest Story Ever Told? Yes, please!); and the Ed Gein-inspired The Texas Chainsaw Musical (sense a theme here?). For fans of history and, uh, sketch comedy, there’s the Revolutionary War-themed Ticonderoga; for morally-conflicted mountain climbers, there’s The Tao of Everest; and for anyone who thinks plays are boring, there are several on tap that challenge that belief in the most scandalously delightful ways, including Bible-stories-on-crack Pulp Scripture and the site-specific Missing: fugue #9: wear a warm coat, performed as audiences stroll through Bayview’s Quesada Gardens.

SAN FRANCISCO FRINGE FESTIVAL Sept 9–20, $10 or less. Various venues (main venue is Exit Theater, 156 Eddy, SF). (415) 673-3847, www.sffringe.org

Rialto’s Best of British Noir

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PREVIEW That undisputed champ of repertory programming, film noir, is getting a good workout during otherwise sunny September. Elliot Lavine combs the Columbia vaults for a 22-film Roxie bonanza, while the Castro Theatre and Pacific Film Archive look across the pond for a touch of "tea and larceny." Even if it’s disingenuous to label these Anglo entries as noir — the camera angles are right, the mannered scripts not so much — the down-and-out British crime films make for a fascinating mirror image to their American counterparts, not least for the visible evidence of World War II trauma. The rarity-heavy PFA series will better satisfy the buff, but only a fool would pass up a week’s worth of Rialto restoration prints at the Castro. Three of the five films are Graham Greene affairs, including a long-overdue re-release of Brighton Rock (1947). The real discovery of the series, however, is Robert Hamer’s It Always Rains on Sunday (1947), an unusual mélange of kitchen-sink drama, Dostoyevskian moral tale, and on-the-lam thriller. If the steady downpour is pure noir, the film’s narrative is less typical. Instead of concentrating trauma and repression into a single (male) figure, Hamer spreads it around an entire East London neighborhood. There is an escaped convict at the center of the story who looks every bit the seductive part, but in spite of a stylish chase finale, Hamer is more interested in the drab corners of ordinary deceit. His resourceful dramatizations of working class spaces — and specifically their lack of privacy — are consumed with an anxiety far in excess of the film’s serviceable plot.

RIALTO’S BEST OF BRITISH NOIR Sept. 11–16, $10. Castro Theatre, 429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6120, www.thecastrotheatre.com

Red Crawfish

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paulr@sfbg.com

The color of cooked crawfish isn’t red, exactly — more a garnet. If it were a wine, it would be a medium-bodied pinot noir. Certainly it would never be mistaken for cooked lobster, which (pace Red Lobster) isn’t red at all, but more of an inflamed orange. You see plenty of crawfish being rushed from the evening kitchen at Red Crawfish in the Tenderloin; the crustaceans make the journey in shallow white bowls and reach tables full of eager patrons who’ve fitted themselves out with plastic bibs in anticipation of mess.

Red Crawfish, like the Green Hornet, has something of a dual identity. By day it’s a quasi pan-Asian place tending toward Chinese and Vietnamese favorites. But as the sun sets, it dons a Cajun guise, and a menu filled with familiars like five-spice chicken and beef noodle soup suddenly develops a bayou section that includes (besides crawfish) treats such as gumbo and Cajun fries.

The dual-identity restaurant is a rare phenomenon, but not an unknown one. Some years ago there was a spot on lower Haight Street that appeared to be an all-American café by day but turned into a Senegalese joint on certain nights of the week. And, in the present moment, we have Coffee Bar, which daytimers know as a coffee bar but becomes host to Radio Africa Kitchen several nights a week. Red Crawfish is close kin to these spots, but it has the additional charm of joining compatible, if unlikely, cuisines without fusing them. The Cajun dishes remain Cajun and the Asian dishes Asian, but they do make a nice harmony: a communion of spiciness.

The cathedral in which this union takes place is unprepossessing, in true Tenderloin fashion. The dining room is deep and very narrow — a half-storefront — with a long mirror along one wall to give the illusion of greater spaciousness. Ceiling fans do offer a hint of New Orleans. But the furniture, though plain, is well-made, the tabletops are clean, and you are greeted and seated promptly when you step through the door.

The Cajun dishes are dialed up according to the patron’s preferred level of heat (on a four-step scale) and style of seasoning. For the seafood combo ($13.99), for instance, you choose among lemon-pepper, garlic butter, and red crawfish flavor palettes. The last turned out to be a deep red, slightly oily, iridescent soup flecked with dried chili and giving a faint charge of fruity acidity; had it been spiked with a mild vinegar? In this shallow pond frolicked shrimp (partly shucked), oysters (fully shucked), and chunks of calamari and white fish. The second-lowest level of heat ("spicy") proved to be more than sufficient, while the pre-shucking, while probably indicative of slackerdom on our part, also made the dish much easier to eat and enjoy and at the same time limited the mess. That’s a lot of upside.

Cajun fries ($3.99 for a semi-gigantic plate) were fine but ordinary. We did detect a faint dusting of cayenne pepper on them, but not enough to make a serious impression. Better, for flavored-up starch, were the garlic noodles ($6.50). They would have gone brilliantly with the gumbo ($10.99), but the gumbo was somewhat late in arriving. In fact, it arrived last and, like a folk act following a death-metal group, its luster was at first somewhat dimmed by the potency of the seafood combo that preceded it.

But the gumbo found traction after a bite or two and was thick and satisfying even without rice — or garlic noodles. The thickener was okra, whose flavor has a ghostly bite, and the result wasn’t particularly pretty: a bowlful of lumpy gray-green sludge. The lumps, though, consisted of delectables such as shrimp, chicken, and pork, and added enough heft to make the gumbo into a (potential) meal in itself.

An unexpected rival for meal-in-itself (although not heart-healthy) honors might be the beignets ($4.50), a quartet of deep-fried pastries shaped like little top hats and served with a pair of massive ice-cream torpedoes. The ice cream was vanilla, and the torpedoes were cross-hatched with chocolate sauce, and that alone would have been enough for two people — even two hungry, greedy people bewitched by the crunchy fattiness of the beignets. (To describe these as "deep-fried" does not quite capture the reality.)

In sunshine — or fogshine, as the case may be — the restaurant slips into east Asian character. Salt and pepper calamari ($5.50) are batter-fried and presented with a nuoc nam-based dipping sauce whose sharpness helps cut the grease. Mixed vegetables with tofu ($5.95) sets a low mountain of broccoli florets, carrots, cabbage, and tofu cubes on a huge pediment of white rice. The vegetables are crisp and fresh; the soy-heavy brown sauce, a little bland. Five-spice chicken ($7.50), on the other hand, with egg rolls and vermicelli, is enhanced with mint, which brings both color and sweet breath to the rescue. That color is green, by the way. *

RED CRAWFISH

Sun.–Fri., 10 a.m.–10 p.m.; Sat., 5–10 p.m.

611 Larkin, SF

(415) 771-1388

Beer and wine

MC/V

Moderately noisy

Wheelchair accessible

Architecture and the City

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PREVIEW I don’t know whether this is awesome or boring, but one of the most perverse pleasures to be had in the Bay for the last decade has been fantasy house-hunting — dressing like you can afford more than a rent-controlled railroad flat’s closet and hitting the Sunday open-house real estate orgy circuit, mostly to decry the recent penchant for tacky recessed lighting and cheap beige granite counter-tops. The ’80s are back! If you’re a premium architecture and design junkie, though, you’ll be swooning all September — launching your intellectual and tactical fantasies into the clouds with the Architecture and the City festival, presented by AIA San Francisco. The sixth annual celebration of unique builds, the nation’s largest, not only takes you on the San Francisco Living: Home Tours drool-a-thon (Sept. 12-13) focusing on smart sustainability, but also explores a bonanza of exciting, dialogue-stimuutf8g Bay design ideas through presentations, investigations, demonstrations, and more. Prepare to push up your teeny octagon-shaped eyeglasses and scream, "Build it! Build it NOW!"

ARCHITECTURE AND THE CITY Through September 30. Check Web site for locations, times, and prices. www.aiasf.org/archandcity

Events listings

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Events listings are compiled by Paula Connelly. Submit items for the listings at listings@sfbg.com.

WEDNESDAY 9

Beatles Day Amoeba Music, 1855 Haight, SF; (415) 831-1200. 11am-8pm, free. Celebrate the release of the newly remastered Beatles CDs with Beatles DJ sets, fab four trivia and giveaways, a Beatles cover band, and a Beatles look-like contest.

THURSDAY 10

Red Vic Benefit Mercury Café, 201 Octavia, SF; (415) 252-7855. 7pm, $10-30 sliding scale. Help out your favorite local rep house while having a good time at this benefit featuring live music by Tango No.9 and Toshio Hirano, silent auction with art and film-related items, and a raffle.

Supergirls Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission, SF; (415) CAR-TOON. 7pm, free. Hear Mike Madrid, author of The Supergirls, discuss the cultural history of the superheroine, like how their search for identity, battle for equality, and juggling the dual roles of career and motherhood mirrors real life. Wine tasting hosted by Small Vines Wines.

FRIDAY 11

Neighborhood Free Days California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse, Golden Gate Park, SF; (415) 379-8000. 9:30am-5pm, Friday – Sunday; free for select zip codes. Visit www.calacademy.org to find out which weekend your SF zip code will gain you free admission to the museum. This weekend’s lucky residents are from Sunset, Parkside, Stonestown, Lakeshore, and St. Francis Woods.

Party for the People SubMission, 2183 Mission, SF; (415) 431-4210. 8:30pm, $5-20 sliding scale. Enjoy live Latin music, DJs, raffles, fresh Mexican juices, and veggie tacos at this event where all proceeds will benefit PODER, a Mission/Excelsior District community organization where local youth lead environmental justice projects.

SATURDAY 12

Babylon Salon Cantina, 580 Sutter, SF; (415) 398-0195. 8pm, free. This literary night features performances by well known authors Pamela Uschuk and Daniel Alarcon and emerging writers Anthony Gonzales, K.G. Schneider, and Michela Martini.

IXFF Kick-off Party El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; (415) 282-3325. 9pm, $7. Celebrate Good Vibrations’ Fourth Annual Independent Erotic Film Festival with a special screening of Courtney Trouble’s new film, Speakeasy, music with DJ Justin Credible, prizes, and more.

Power to the Peaceful Speedway Meadow, Golden Gate Park, SF; www.powertothepeaceful.org. 9am-5pm; free, donations accepted. This music, arts, action, and yoga festival featuring performances by Michael Franti and Spearhead, Alanis Morissette, Sellassie, and more is dedicated to issues of social justice, non-violence, cultural co-existence, and environmental sustainability.

BAY AREA

Crossword Puzzle Tournament Alameda High School Cafeteria, 2250 Central, Alameda; www.bayareacrosswords.org. 10:30am, $30. Challenge yourself with some crossword competition at the second annual Bay Area Crossword Puzzle Tournament, featuring three unpublished New York Times puzzles donated by the legendary Will Shortz.

SUNDAY 13

BAY AREA

Dash for a Cure Oakland Aviation Museum, 8252 Earhart Rd., Bldg 621, Oakland International Airport, Oak.; (510) 638-7100. 2pm, free. Experience, through video clips, photos and PowerPoint, the thrilling account of CarolAnn Garratt ‘s World Record breaking flight around the world to raise money and awareness for ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

MONDAY 14

Fixing U.S. Healthcare Commonwealth Club, 2nd floor, 595 Market, SF; (415) 597-6700. Noon, $15. Hear T.R. Reid, correspondent for the Washington Post, commentator for NPR, and author of The Healing of America, weigh in on whether or not the U.S. can really fix healthcare and how we can learn from health-care models across the globe.

*

Music listings

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Music listings are compiled by Paula Connelly and Cheryl Eddy. Since club life is unpredictable, it’s a good idea to call ahead to confirm bookings and hours. Prices are listed when provided to us. Submit items at listings@sfbg.com.

WEDNESDAY 9

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Suki Ewers, Jack Tung, Westbooklin Elbo Room. 9pm, $5.

Glay Fillmore. 8pm, $45.

Hank IV, Cheap Girls, Grabass Charlestons Thee Parkside. 8pm, $6.

Hedgehog, Queen Sea Big Shark, Casino Demon Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $10. Benefit for China AIDS Orphan Fund.

Jacopo, Eggplant Casino, Micropixie Café du Nord. 9:30pm, $10.

Cass McCombs, Papercuts, Girls Great American Music Hall. 9pm, $16.

Soulsavers feat. Mark Lanegan, Jonneine Zapata, Redghost Independent. 8pm, $18.

Earl Thomas unplugged Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $16.

Vivian Girls, Beets Rickshaw Stop. 8pm, $14.

BAY AREA

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fox Theater. 8pm, $35.50.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

Ben Marcato and the Mondo Combo Top of the Mark. 7:30pm, $10.

"B3 Wednesdays" Coda. 9pm, $7. Featuring Amendola vs. Blades.

Jack Curtis Dubrowsky Ensemble Meridian Gallery, 535 Powell, SF; (415) 398-7229. 7:30pm, $10.

9th Wonder with Broun Fellinis, Tyler Woods Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $25.

Tin Cup Serenade Le Colonial, 20 Cosmo Place, SF; (415) 931-3600. 7pm, free.

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Folk and Latin Night Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; (415) 646-0018. 8pm, 9:30; $12.

Foolproof Four Plough and Stars. 9pm, free.

DANCE CLUBS

Booty Call Q-Bar, 456 Castro; www.bootycallwednesdays.com. 9pm. Juanita Moore hosts this dance party, featuring DJ Robot Hustle.

Hands Down! Bar on Church. 9pm, free. With DJs Claksaarb, Mykill, and guests spinning indie, electro, house, and bangers.

Jam Wednesday Infusion Lounge. 10pm, free. DJ Slick Dee.

Open Mic Night 330 Ritch. 9pm, $7.

Qoöl 111 Minna Gallery. 5-10pm, $5. Pan-techno lounge with DJs Spesh, Gil, Hyper D, and Jondi.

RedWine Social Dalva. 9pm-2am, free. DJ TophOne and guests spin outernational funk and get drunk.

Respect Wednesdays End Up. 10pm, $5. Rotating DJs Lonestar Sound, Young Fyah, Sake One, Serg, and more spinning reggae, dancehall, roots, lovers rock, and mash ups.

Synchronize Il Pirata, 2007 16th St.; (415) 626-2626. 10pm, free. Psychedelic dance music with DJs Helios, Gatto Matto, Psy Lotus, Intergalactoid, and guests.

THURSDAY 10

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Brendan Benson Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $18.

Doobie Brothers, Lara Johnston Fillmore. 8pm, $59.50.

Joey Fender Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $15.

Fire Child, Via Coma, Orchestra of Antlers, Major US Cities Rickshaw Stop. 7:30pm, $10.

40-Love, Park, Whooligan Café du Nord. 8pm, $10.

Health, Mi Ami, Pictureplane Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $14.

Necrite, Fell Voices, Altar of Extinction Annie’s Social Club. 8pm, $6.

*Obituary, Goatwhore, Krisiun, Berzerker Slim’s. 7:30pm, $30.

Perpetual Groove, Hill Country Revue Independent. 9pm, $15.

Sex Type Thing Red Devil Lounge. 9pm, $10.

Winter’s Fall, Telegraph Canyon, Manzanita Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $7.

BAY AREA

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fox Theater. 8pm, $35.50.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

Kenny Brooks Coda. 9pm, $7.

Eric Kurtzrock Trio Ana Mandara, Ghirardelli Square, 891 Beach, SF; (415) 771-6800. 7:30pm, free.

"Hotplate" Amnesia. 8pm, $5. With Terrence Brewer playing Wes Montgomery.

Marlina Teich Trio Brickhouse, 426 Brannan, SF; (415) 820-1595. 7-10pm, free.

"Music by the Eyeful: Inventions in Visual Audio" Luggage Store Gallery, 1007 Market, SF; www.illuminatedcorridor.com. 8pm, $6-10. With Ian Winters and Evelyn Ficarra, Bill Hsu and Moe! Staiano, and Tim Perkis.

Stompy Jones Top of the Mark. 7:30pm, $10.

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Flamenco Thursday Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; (415) 646-0018. 8pm, 9:30; $12. With Carola Zertuche and Company.

Jorind Josemans Red Poppy Art House. 7pm, $12-15.

Amy Obenski Caffe Trieste, 601 Vallejo, SF; (415) 392-6739. 8pm.

Savannah Blu Atlas Café. 8pm, free.

Shannon Céilí Band Plough and Stars. 9pm, free.

DANCE CLUBS

Afrolicious Elbo Room. 9:30pm, $5-6. DJs Pleasuremaker, Señor Oz, J Elrod, and B Lee spin Afrobeat, Tropicália, electro, samba, and funk.

CakeMIX SF Wish, 1539 Folsom, SF. 10pm, free. DJ Carey Kopp spinning funk, soul, and hip hop.

Caribbean Connection Little Baobab, 3388 19th St; 643-3558. 10pm, $3. DJ Stevie B and guests spin reggae, soca, zouk, reggaetón, and more.

Drop the Pressure Underground SF. 6-10pm, free. Electro, house, and datafunk highlight this weekly happy hour.

Funky Rewind Skylark. 9pm, free. DJ Kung Fu Chris, MAKossa, and rotating guest DJs spin heavy funk breaks, early hip-hop, boogie, and classic Jamaican riddims.

Heat Icon Ultra Lounge. 10pm, free. Hip-hop, R&B, reggae, and soul.

Kick It Bar on Church. 9pm. Hip-hop with DJ Jorge Terez.

Kissing Booth Make Out Room. 9pm, free. DJs Jory, Commodore 69, and more spinning indie dance, disco, 80’s, and electro.

Koko Puffs Koko Cocktails, 1060 Geary; 885-4788. 10pm, free. Dubby roots reggae and Jamaican funk from rotating DJs.

Mestiza Bollywood Café, 3376 19th St., SF; (415) 970-0362. 10pm, free. Showcasing progressive Latin and global beats with DJ Juan Data.

Motion Sickness Vertigo, 1160 Polk; (415) 674-1278. 10pm, free. Genre-bending dance party with DJs Sneaky P, Public Frenemy, and D_Ro Cyclist.

Popscene 330 Rich. 10pm, $10. Rotating DJs spinning indie, Britpop, electro, new wave, and post-punk.

Toppa Top Thursdays Club Six. 9pm, $5. Jah Warrior, Jah Yzer, I-Vier, and Irie Dole spin the reggae jams for your maximum irie-ness.

We All We Got Blue Macaw, 2565 Mission, SF; (415) 920-0577. 9pm, $10. A showcase of emerging, independent artists featuring Sellassie, J. Lately, Lil Paris & Strong, H.W.Y., and more.

FRIDAY 11

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Bare Wires, Blood Drained Cows, Vows Hemlock Tavern. 9:30pm, $7.

Doobie Brothers, Lara Johnston Fillmore. 8pm, $59.50.

Glenn Labs, Dubious Ranger, Barbary Coasters Rasselas Jazz. 9pm, $10.

Hot Buttered Rum, Jerry Hannan Band Great American Music Hall. 9pm, $20.

DJ Lebowitz Madrone. 6pm, free.

Lovemakers, Jonas Reinhardt, Lisa Nola Independent. 9pm, $16.

Morning After Girls, Asteroid #4, Citadelle, Fauna Valetta Knockout. 9pm, $7.

My Revolver, Zodiac Death Valley, Dead Westerns Bottom of the Hill. 10pm, $10.

Neverland: A Tribute to the King of Pop, Club 90 Slim’s. 9pm, $18.

Raw Deluxe Coda. 10pm, $10.

Johnny Rawls Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $20.

Welcome Home Walker, Saucy Jacks, Parties Annie’s Social Club. 6-9pm, $6.

BAY AREA

Flogging Molly, Hepcat, Fitz and the Tantrums Fox Theater. 8pm, $29.50.

Hooks, La Plebe Uptown. 9pm, $10.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

Audium 9 1616 Bush, SF; (415) 771-1616. 8:30pm, $15.

Bad Plus Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $21.

Black Market Jazz Orchestra Top of the Mark. 9pm, $10.

"Cultural Encounters: Friday Nights at the deYoung presents Jazz at Intersection" Wilsey Court, de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, SF; www.deyoungmuseum.org. 6:30pm, free. With VidyA.

Eric Kurtzrock Trio Ana Mandara, Ghirardelli Square, 891 Beach, SF; 771-6800. 8pm, free.

JFJO (Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey) Café du Nord. 9:30pm, $15.

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Burning Embers Plough and Stars. 9pm.

Cuban Nights Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; (415) 646-0018. 8:30pm; $15. With Fito Reinoso, and Eddie and Gabriel Navia, and Latin dancing Buena Vista style.

Jezzebelle and Jinx Blackthorn Irish Pub, 834 Irving, SF; (415) 564-6627. 8pm.

Kitka and Kostroma St. Gregory of Nyssa Church, 500 DeHaro, SF; (415) 255-8100. 8pm, $25.

World Music Night Union Room, 2nd floor, 401 Mason, SF; (415) 292-2583. 8pm, $10. A tribute to the human spirit on the anniversary of 9/11.

Rennea Couttenye Red Poppy Art House. 8pm, $12-15.

VidyA Wilsey Court, de Young, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden, SF; (415) 750-3600. 6:30pm, free.

Benjamin Winter and the Make Believe Hotel Utah. 9pm, $7.

DANCE CLUBS

Activate! Lookout, 3600 16th St; (415) 431-0306. 9pm, $3. Face your demigods and demons at this Red Bull-fueled party.

Alcoholocaust Presents Riptide Tavern. 9pm, free. DJ What’s His Fuck spins old-school punk rock and other gems.

Bar on Church 9pm. Rotating DJs Zax, Zhaldee, and Nuxx.

Blow Up Knockout. 10pm, $10-15. Electro-disco-noir nightclub with DJ Jefrodisiac and Ava Berlin.

Exhale, Fridays Project One Gallery, 251 Rhode Island; (415) 465-2129. 5pm, $5. Happy hour with art, fine food, and music with Vin Sol, King Most, DJ Centipede, and Shane King.

Fat Stack Fridays Koko Cocktails, 1060 Geary, SF; (415) 885-4788. 10pm, free. With rotating DJs Romanowski, B-Love, Tomas, Toph One, and Vinnie Esparza.

Fo’ Sho! Fridays Madrone. 10pm, $5. DJs Kung Fu Chris, Makossa, and Quickie Mart spin rare grooves, soul, funk, and hip-hop classics.

Free Funk Friday presents Treat ’em Right Elbo Room. 10pm, $5. With DJs Vinnie Esparza, B-Cause, Anonymous, and Matthew Africa.

Gay Asian Paradise Club Eight, 1151 Folsom, SF; www.eightsf.com. 9pm, $8. Featuring two dance floors playing dance and hip hop, smoking patio, and 2 for 1 drinks before 10pm.

Gymnasium Stud. 10pm, $5. With DJs Violent Vickie and guests spinning electro, disco, rap, and 90s dance and featuring performers, gymnastics, jump rope, drink specials, and more.

Look Out Weekend Bambuddha Lounge. 4pm, free. Drink specials, food menu and resident DJs White Girl Lust, Swayzee, Philie Ocean, and more.

Lovebuzz Annie’s Social Club. 10pm, $5. DJs Jawa and Melody Nelson spin punk, classic rock, and 90s tunes.

M4M Fridays Underground SF. 10pm-2am. Joshua J and Frankie Sharp host this man-tastic party.

Punk Rock and Shlock Karaoke Annie’s Social Club. 9pm-2am, $5. Eileen and Jody bring you songs from multiple genres to butcher: punk, new wave, alternative, classic rock, and more.

SATURDAY 12

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Michael Franti Fillmore. 9pm, $35.

Glitter Wizard, Groggs, Dirty Cupcakes Hemlock Tavern. 9:30pm, $7.

Honey Brothers, Soko, His Orchestra Independent. 9pm, $15.

Hot Buttered Rum, Nicki Bluhm Band Great American Music Hall. 9pm, $20.

Jackie Payne and Steve Edmonson Band Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $20.

Elliot Randall, Gina Villalobos, James DePrato and the Diptet Bottom of the Hill. 10pm, $12.

Owen Roberts and the Doghouse Brewer, Nomi, Shure Thing Hotel Utah. 9pm, $8.

*Southern Culture on the Skids, Los Straitjackets Slim’s. 9pm, $18.

BAY AREA

*"Great American Blues and BBQ Festival" Fourth St between A and Cijos, San Rafael; proevent@aol.com. 11am, free. With Sugar Pie DeSanto and Charlie Musselwhite.

Killers, New York Dolls Shoreline Amphitheater, One Amphitheater Pkwy, Mtn View; www.livenation.com. 7:30pm, $41-81.

Paolo Nutini Fox Theater. 8pm, $25.

Revtones, Mighty Slim Pickens, Blue Diamond Fillups Uptown. 9pm, $10.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

Audium 9 1616 Bush, SF; (415) 771-1616. 8:30pm, $15.

Bad Plus Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $21.

Aram Danesh and the Superhuman Crew Coda. 10pm, $10.

Eric Kurtzrock Trio Ana Mandara, Ghirardelli Square, 891 Beach, SF; (415) 771-6800. 8pm, free.

Foreign Exchange Yoshi’s San Francisco. 11:59, $25.

Ricardo Scales Top of the Mark. 9pm, $10.

Karen Segal Simple Pleasures, 3434 Balboa, SF; (415) 387-4022. 8pm, free.

Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers Café du Nord. 9pm, $15.

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Carnaval Del Sur Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; (415) 646-0018. 8pm, $15.

Helladelics Red Poppy Art House. 8pm, $10-15.

Jezzebelle and Jinx Coffee Adventures, 1331 Columbus, SF; (415) 441-0301. 11am; Epicenter Café, 764 Harrison, SF; (415) 543-5436. 5pm.

DANCE CLUBS

Bar on Church 9pm. Rotating DJs Foxxee, Joseph Lee, Zhaldee, Mark Andrus, and Niuxx.

Cockblock Rickshaw Stop. 10pm, $7. DJ Nuxx and guests spin at this queer dance party for homos and friends.

HYP Club Eight, 1151 Folsom, SF; www.eightsf.com. 10pm, free. Gay and lesbian hip hop party, featuring DJs spinning the newest in the top 40s hip hop and hyphy.

Same Sex Salsa and Swing Magnet, 4122 18th St., SF; (415) 305-8242. 7pm, free.

So Special Club Six. 9pm, $5. DJ Dans One and guests spinning dancehall, reggae, classics, and remixes.

Spirit Fingers Sessions 330 Ritch. 9pm, free. With DJ Morse Code and live guest performances.

Summer Saturdays Bar On Church. 9pm, free. With DJ Mark Andrus spinning top 40, mashups, hip hop, and electro.

Tormenta Tropical Elbo Room. 10pm, $5-10. With Kingdon, Disco Shawn, and Oro11.

SUNDAY 13

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Slaid Cleaves Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $15.

Damnweevil, Mendozza, Litany for the Whale, Burns Red Annie’s Social Club. 6pm, $6.

Honorary Title, Good Old War, Cory Brannan Bottom of the Hill. 8pm, $12.

Japanther, Ninjasonik, Unit Breed Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $7.

Kevin Russell Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $15.

BAY AREA

Blink-182, Weezer, Taking Back Sunday, Chester French Shoreline Amphitheater, One Amphitheater Pkwy, Mtn View; www.livenation.com. 6:30pm, $39.50-69.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

Bad Plus Yoshi’s San Francisco. 2 and 7pm, $5-21.

Lucid Lovers Harris’ Restaurant, 2100 Van Ness, SF; (415) 673-1888. 6:30pm.

Rob Modica and friends Simple Pleasures, 3434 Balboa, SF; (415) 387-4022. 3pm, free.

"SfSoundseries" ODC Dance Commons, Studio B, 351 Shotwell, SF; (415) 863-9834. 8pm, $10.

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Enanitos Verdes Fillmore. 8pm, $42.50.

Fiesta Andina! Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; (415) 646-0018. 7pm; $10.

Glide Ensemble and the Change Band Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, 330 Ellis, SF; (415) 674-6000. 5pm, $15-75.

Jezzebelle and Jinx Java Beach Café, 1396 La Playa, SF; (415) 665-5282. 7:30pm.

Ritmojito Coda. 8pm, $7.

John Sherry, Kyle Thayer and friends Plough and Stars. 9pm, free.

Vieux Farka Toure Independent. 8pm, $20.

DANCE CLUBS

DiscoFunk Mashups Cat Club. 10pm, free. House and 70’s music.

Dub Mission Elbo Room. 9pm, $6. Dub, roots, and classic dancehall with DJs Sep, Vinnie Esparza, and J Boogie.

Gloss Sundays Trigger, 2344 Market, SF; (415) 551-CLUB. 7pm. With DJ Hawthorne spinning house, funk, soul, retro, and disco.

Honey Soundsystem Paradise Lounge. 8pm-2am. "Dance floor for dancers – sound system for lovers." Got that?

Jock! Lookout, 3600 16th; 431-0306. 3pm, $2. This high-energy party raises money for LGBT sports teams.

Kick It Bar on Church. 9pm. Hip-hop with DJ Zax.

Religion Bar on Church. 3pm. With DJ Nikita.

Stag AsiaSF. 6pm, $5. Gay bachelor parties are the target demo of this weekly erotic tea dance.

MONDAY 14

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Collective Soul, Black Stone Cherry, Ryan Star Regency Ballroom. 7:30pm, $30.

*Monks of Doom, Penelope Houston Band Café du Nord. 9:30pm, $15.

Pojama People feat. Ike Willis Elbo Room. 9pm, $15. Playing the music of Frank Zappa.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

Lavay Smith Trio Enrico’s, 504 Broadway, SF; www.enricossf.com. 7pm, free.

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Buckwheat Zydeco Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8pm, $22.

Jezzebelle and Jinx Socha Café, 3235 Mission, SF; (415) 643-6848. 8:30pm.

DANCE CLUBS

Black Gold Koko Cocktails, 1060 Geary; 885-4788. 10pm-2am, free. Senator Soul spins Detroit soul, Motown, New Orleans R&B, and more — all on 45!

Going Steady Dalva. 10pm, free. DJs Amy and Troy spinning 60’s girl groups, soul, garage, and more.

King of Beats Tunnel Top. 10pm. DJs J-Roca and Kool Karlo spinning reggae, electro, boogie, funk, 90’s hip hop, and more.

Mainroom Mondays Annie’s Social Club. 9pm, free. Live the dream: karaoke on Annie’s stage and pretend you’re Jello Biafra.

Manic Mondays Bar on Church. 9pm. Drink 80-cent cosmos with Djs Mark Andrus and Dangerous Dan.

Monster Show Underground SF. 10pm, $5. Cookie Dough and DJ MC2 make Mondays worth dancing about, with a killer drag show at 11pm.

Network Mondays Azul Lounge, One Tillman Pl; www.inhousetalent.com. 9pm, $5. Hip-hop, R&B, and spoken word open mic, plus featured performers.

Spliff Sessions Tunnel Top. 10pm, free. DJs MAKossa, Kung Fu Chris, and C. Moore spin funk, soul, reggae, hip-hop, and psychedelia on vinyl.

TUESDAY 15

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

*Bad Brains, POS, Trouble Andrew Slim’s. 8pm, $26.

Joey Cape, Jon Snodgrass, Chad Rex Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $12.

Trevor Hall Café du Nord. 8pm, $10.

Mayer Hawthorne and the County, Buff 1, 14kt, Cambo Rickshaw Stop. 8pm, $10.

No Babies, 2 Up, Afternoon Brother Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $6.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Fool’s Gold, Local Natives, DJ Aaron Axelsen Independent. 8pm, $10.

Sugar Ray, Dirty Heads, Aimee Allen Regency Ballroom. 7pm, $27.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

Dave Parker Quintet Rasselas Jazz. 8pm.

Hyim Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8pm, $15.

"Jazz Mafia Tuesdays" Coda. 9pm, $7. Featuring Shotgun Wedding Quintet.

Ricardo Scales Top of the Mark. 6:30pm, $5.

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Kitten on the Keys Climate Theater, 285 Ninth St, SF; (415) 704-3260. 8pm, $7-15.

Barry O’ Connell, Vinnie Cronin and friends Plough and Stars. 9pm, free.

Slow Session Plough and Stars. 9pm, free. With Michael Duffy and friends.

DANCE CLUBS

Drunken Monkey Annie’s Social Club. 9pm, free. Weekly guest DJs and Hamm’s for a buck.

Eclectic Company Skylark, 9pm, free. DJs Tones and Jaybee spin old school hip hop, bass, dub, glitch, and electro.

Rock Out Karaoke! Amnesia. 7:30pm. With Glenny Kravitz.

Share the Love Trigger, 2344 Market, SF; (415) 551-CLUB. 5pm, free. With DJ Pam Hubbuck spinning house.

Womanizer Bar on Church. 9pm. With DJ Nuxx.

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