Volume 43 Number 53

Gooooaaaallll!

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FIFA ’10

Electronic Arts (XBOX360, PS3, PC)

GAMER Soccer is the world’s most popular sport, so it follows that soccer video games are among the world’s most popular games. With such a mammoth amount of cash on offer, the battle to be the planet’s premier publisher of simulated footy boasts extremely high stakes. For more than a decade, two of gaming’s biggest names, Electronic Arts (U.S.) and Konami (Japan) have fought tooth and claw for the affections of the vast soccer-gaming constituency, releasing yearly versions of their dueling mega-franchises, FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer.

For years, the Americans came in second best, using their financial clout to secure licensing agreements with leagues and players, but delivering poor gameplay. The reasons at the time seemed obvious — Americans don’t like soccer. Americans don’t understand soccer. EA’s glossy licenses played into a narrative of U.S. imperialism, in which a rapacious corporation strip-mined the world’s game and its gamer devotees, backed by its Madden millions. Embattled "Pro Evo" was the preferred product everywhere, attracting tournament players, couch-bound amateurs, and quarter-hoarding arcade addicts alike. Even the pros themselves played it.

This lasted until 2007. A new class had matriculated at EA’s Montreal substation, led by producer David Rutter and programmer Gary Paterson, a Scot and a lifelong football fan. A talented group of designers, they were sick of living in Pro Evo‘s long shadow, almost as sick as the higher-ups at EA, who were perennially No. 2 at the gaming box office. Recognizing that only serious change would get FIFA back into the profitable sun, the team rebuilt their game from the pitch up. Instead of constantly chasing Konami’s innovations with ineffective imitations, they would produce something completely unlike Pro Evo — new, different, and worthy of being judged on its own merits.

When FIFA ’07 was released, the differences were obvious. Paterson, realizing that the excitement of soccer lay in its unpredictable outcomes, spearheaded the redesign by throwing out all the canned animations. Instead of player and ball interacting in a scripted, predetermined fashion, player and ball became realistic objects, coming together in a simulated physical world that obeyed Newtonian rules like gravity, momentum, and acceleration. Shots on goal, which previously resembled shots you’d see coming from a gun in an action game, now hinged on a complex combination of variables, like ball speed, shooting angle, and player skill.

Seemingly overnight, the FIFA team had a game that felt more like real soccer than Pro Evo ever had. Fans and critics were stunned — the world’s soccer-gaming hierarchy had been abruptly turned on its head. FIFA ’08 and ‘09 continued in a similar vein. The team in Montreal, not content to rest on their laurels, incorporated the massive strides made in realistic physics modeling to make the games better, more realistic, and much more exciting. Taking advantage of EA’s huge marketing budget, they recruited marquee players and tapped consumers neglected by Konami, particularly Spanish-speaking game buyers in the U.S. FIFA ’09 smashed sales records, and powered more than 275 million individual online matches. The franchise, often the bridesmaid, was finally the bride, and it was marrying rich.

On Sept. 17, EA released the demo version of FIFA ’10, which hits stores Oct. 22. The game boasts a number of improvements, including a new dribbling system, which finally frees players from the strictures of eight-way movement — one of the most transparently "game-y" elements of simulated soccer, but also the most intractable. Sales are expected to calcify EA’s dominance. Ensconced on its newfound throne, the massive publisher would do well to heed the lesson that got it there: when the gamers are opening their wallets, you’re only as good as your last game engine.

Quintessence

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THEATER San Francisco’s Brava Theatre is mostly dark, except for the spotlights on stage. Under the white light, singer Nomy Lamm’s face peers out from under the beak of a vulture headpiece. She flaps her feathered wings and thrusts her hips, like she is working a hula hoop in slow motion.

"I remember the feel of your hands on my body," Lamm sings. "Makes me scream, ‘Am I broken?’"

It is three weeks before the premiere of this year’s Sins Invalid’s performance art show of the same name, and artistic director Patty Berne sits near the back of the theater. She watches Lamm’s rehearsal intently, and as the performance ends, her face splits into an approving smile. "Oh Nomy, I am so frickin’ excited," Berne exclaims. "That was so hot — you don’t even know!"

Currently in its fourth year, Sins Invalid is an annual performance project about sexuality and disability. The upcoming show, which runs for three nights at Brava, showcases 12 performances from local and international artists, including Oakland’s Seeley Quest and the U.K.’s Mat Fraser. The collection of theatrical, musical, spoken word, and multimedia performances includes passages that are confrontational and provocative and moments that are soft and sweet.

According to Berne, who is also the cofounder of Sins, the show’s dimensions reflect the diverse issues that people with disabilities face, living in societies where they are traditionally perceived as unsexy, or even sexless. "[People with disabilities] are thought of as asexual and [it’s assumed] that our lives are defined by our disabilities," she says. "Thinking that we are neutered is absurd. It’s like assuming parents stop having sex because they have a child."

According to the Sins Invalid mission statement, the performance project not only supports artists with disabilities, it also strives to centralize "artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists." The goal of the organization, explained cofounder Leroy Moore, has been to create a community of historically marginalized artists and to provide a mirror for those who are disabled, queer, or of color.

The tone of this year’s two-hour show is set with Lamm’s opening act, "a sexy monster rock opera" called The Reckoning. Dressed as a vulture, Lamm plays a dejected animal that struggles to know itself and its place in the universe. In the more intimate Bird Song, she is an abandoned baby bird that sings from a nest made of stuffed panty hose and prosthetic legs.

"[Bird Song] is about quiet power. It’s like, ‘I know what I have, and when you’re ready to see it, come say hi,’" said Lamm.

Other artists, among them Fraser and choreographer/dancer Antoine Hunter, use their bodies to create powerful performances. In the solo act No Retreat, No Surrender, Fraser taps into his martial arts training to simulate being physically beaten to a soundtrack of insults commonly hurled by ableists. In The Scene, theater marries film in a sexually explicit and tense performance about a man who visits a dominatrix and unexpectedly undergoes an inner transformation.

Moore, who plays the visitor in The Scene, explained that in addition to flipping the notion of who visits a dominatrix, the piece is about loving oneself. "In the beginning [of the scene, the man going to the domme] is not sure what to expect. At the end, he comes to love himself and know ‘I am beautiful.’"

Since the inaugural Sins Invalid showing at Brava in 2006, what once was a one-night annual event has blossomed into a three evenings of performance. According to Berne, previous shows have packed full houses. The public’s reaction to the project, many Sins artists say, has been a validating — if not overwhelming — experience.

For Sins performer Quest, who lives day-to-day as a "broke-ass artist schlep," receiving shout-outs from past audience members is one of the most rewarding parts of the experience. "All year ’round, people are like, ‘I saw you at the show, and I told about my friend about you guys!’ People are circuutf8g the news and it’s totally gratifying."

By helping to create new dialogue among the disabled and able-bodied communities, many of those involved with Sins feel like they are making history — and as Moore states, rewriting the books as well. "[Being involved in Sins] feels like I’m correcting history for people with disabilities," says the Berkeley activist. "History is not written from us — it’s always about others. Now we get to speak our own stories."

Houston-based Maria Palacios, a spoken word artist who has been with Sins for three years, feels that the project passes the torch of hope to the next generation of people with disabilities. "When I was growing up, I didn’t have a Barbie with a wheelchair," Palacios said. "But now kids will have us as heroes to look up to — they will have a history in place already."

SINS INVALID

Fri/2–Sat/3, 8 p.m.; Sun/4, 7 p.m.

Brava Theatre

2789 York, SF

(510) 689-7198

www.brownpapertickets.com, www.sinsinvalid.org

Partly cloudy

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DANCE REVIEW In December 2007, a preview of the first section of Margaret Jenkins Dance Company’s Other Suns (a Trilogy) raised high hopes. Unfortunately, the 80-minute triptych, which premiered Sept, 24-26 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and is scheduled for a four-city national tour, did not quite fulfill them.

Jenkins paired her own company of eight with six dancers from China’s Guangdong Modern Dance Company. She also invited guest artists Amy Foley and Norma Fong from Robert Moses’ Kin Dance Company. To work with so many magnificent dancers and strong personalities must have been glorious and grueling, even for a choreographer as experienced as Jenkins. For the audience, much of it was pure bliss, particularly once the Chinese dancers came more fully into their own.

Jenkins slightly revised part of the piece, with Foley taking over from Melanie Elms the role as the instigator. Gone also is Alex V. Nichols’ mysterious pool but the seas of low-hanging lights stayed. Suns encountered its major stumbling block in the second movement for which Jenkins — whose dancers always collaborate on the choreography — deployed the elegantly pliant Guangdong dancers in canons and unisons. Visually and kinetically weak, it undermined Suns‘ trajectory; the third movement should have been a culmination of what preceded. Instead, despite recurring movement motives, it looked tagged on. Paul Dresher’s minimalist rehash did not help.

At its best, Suns suggested a sense of scintilutf8g vibrancy and aliveness coming from the unexpected. Gestures evoked responses from two feet away or all the way across the stage. Darting breaks redefined unisons. Joseph Copley and Li Pianpian’s delicious partnering was both fleeting and predestined. Foley and Lu Yahui solos ran on parallel yet differently grounded tracks. And how about Tan Yuanho’s balletic athleticism and Steffany Ferroni’s fierce physicality, or Margaret Cromwell, who flung herself like a shooting star? Suns may not be perfect, but the dancers come pretty damned close.

Musical melange

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arts@sfbg.com

STAGE Kneehigh Theatre’s Noël Coward–inspired cinema-theater hybrid, Brief Encounter, the British import currently up at American Conservatory Theater, is a shrewd melding of winning formulas borrowed from more adventurous recent theatrical works as well as old-time British music hall entertainments. In addition to entr’acte bits, or the visual play on plays and films, actor-singers play their own instruments, à la the recent revival of Sweeney Todd — and in the more pretentious sequences, characters undulate à la Twyla Tharp to projected surf or a gust of wind.

But, not unlike Berkeley Rep’s American Idiot, Brief Encounter is a bit too clever and too cute for its own good, and not nearly brief enough. Very well executed by a versatile and charming cast, it’s a slick crowd-pleaser on its nostalgically cinematic surface, but there’s nothing behind the screen. Moreover, despite the originating premise, along with a song or two and a borrowed line here and there, there is an unexpectedly meager dose of Coward-like sensibility in the mix. Indeed, it’s a little ironic that the show makes so much of Coward’s own admission that he was "no good at love," since the central love affair borrowed from his play and screenplay comes across here as dull, while Coward’s rarely were: Cal Shakes recently proved as much with its fine production of Private Lives, very much still alive in the messy and violent tendencies knocking around inside its otherwise trim and tidy formula.

Brief Encounter works better than the snoresome American Idiot. But both flounder around as excuses for arty, music-laden entertainment, while the ol’ 1949 Rogers and Hammerstein musical juggernaut, South Pacific (freshly laundered in the traveling version of director Bartlett Sher’s 2008 Tony-winning production), comes in like a tsunami and washes them clean away (or right out of our hair, to borrow a line from somewhere). As everything you want from a musical, South Pacific, now at the Golden Gate Theater courtesy of SHN’s Best of Broadway series, is nothing short of awesome.

As a rule, musicals are spectacles for entertainment first, any intended social import usually going only so far. But while the two cents of social commentary being offered up by both South Pacific and American Idiot don’t amount to a Threepenny Opera, only South Pacific really delivers here too. Backed by an excellent cast, first-rate choreography and staging, and enthralling musical direction, South Pacific feels remarkably fresh in general, as if still at the peak of its powers, and its tackling of American racial prejudice — in the intertwined stories of Lt. Joe Cable (a dashing Anderson Davis), smitten with a young Polynesian (a sweetly innocent Sumie Maeda), and the equally rocky affair between Ensign Nellie Forbush (a wonderful Carmen Cusack) and French exile Emile de Becque (formidable baritone and charmer Rod Gilfry) — still comes across with a blunt force, albeit one circumscribed by the imperatives of happy endings.

BRIEF ENCOUNTER

Through Oct. 11, check Web site for showtimes, $14–$82

American Conservatory Theatre, 415 Geary, SF

(415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org

SOUTH PACIFIC

Through Oct. 25, check Web site for showtimes, $30–$99

Golden Gate Theatre, One Taylor, SF

(415) 512-7770, http://shnsf.com

Ray of darkness

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By Kimberly Chunarts@sfbg.comSONIC REDUCER We’ve got a fever for the flavor of sleep deprivation: everywhere I look, our proud ladies of the recession are pushing prams filled with spawn, swinging Baby Bjorns crammed with newborns. It’s baby time — the ideal way to fill the hours emptied by layoffs, buyouts, forced shut-downs, mandatory vaca. Severance packages ought to come with a bonus pack of Pampers, ’cause you can’t sever that 18-year-plus invisible umbilical cord to the most personal of side projects.


Karin Dreijer Andersson of electropop sensations the Knife and now Fever Ray knows of what I speak: she gestated this year’s Fever Ray (Mute) over eight months shortly after she had her second child. "I guess it’s a lot about being in the house, and the new ideas you get when you become a parent," Andersson, 34, explains by phone from her digs in Stockholm.

"When you give birth to something you also start to understand what life is — and you also start to understand the opposite, what death is about," she muses, carefully parsing out each word. "So for me, it was a very frightening time as well because it’s the first time you see the very thin line in-between. It’s a huge awakening in a way.

All of which explains the corpse paint Andersson sports in Fever Ray’s promo shots — and the folkish costumes designed by Andreas Nilsson for the tour. Together, Nilsson and Andersson hoped to evoke "the very primitive and primal elements in the music," while acknowledging Fever Ray’s digital and high-tech qualities — fashioning a kind of "laser-folk" look, if you will.

Fever Ray itself marked a major switch for Andersson: a return to making music on her own, something she did long before she started collaborating in 1999 with her brother Olof Dreijer. After gathering acclaim and awards for the Knife’s Silent Shout (Rabid, 2006), they decided to take a break, though they also recently collaborated on Tomorrow in a Year, an opera about Charles Darwin, which debuted this summer in Copenhagen. "It’s very fun to use pitch-shifting on a classically trained mezzo-soprano," Andersson says happily.

For Fever Ray, Andersson stirred together digital sonics, synths, and software with analog drums, guitar, handclaps, and piano, as well as her beloved pitch-shifter for vocals: it seemed apropos for beauteous, dark, and downtempo ruminations like "Concrete Waltz" and "Keep the Streets Empty for Me." "That mix between very digital instruments and the analog sound — I think it’s very important to get a good dynamic," Andersson notes. "It becomes very … flat if you just use digital. And I think the same when you just play with just analog — for me it sounds a bit boring."

FEVER RAY With VukMon/5, 8 p.m., $28–$30Regency Ballroom1290 Sutter, SF. www.goldenvoice.com

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GRAZING IN THE ‘GRASS

Cutbacks abound, but don’t expect many amid the free golden fields of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. This year brings unexpected couplings like comedian Steve Martin brandishing his banjo with the Steep Canyon Rangers; Booker T ganging up with the Drive-By Truckers; and Rage Against the Machine/Street Sweeper Social Club’s Tom Morello in the songwriter circle with Dar Williams and marrieds Steve Earle and Allison Moorer. I’m looking forward to relatively HSB newbs like Allen Toussaint, Marianne Faithfull, Mavis Staples, Okkervil River, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, and Amadou and Mariam, and I’m hoping to hop on the way-way-back machine for Little Feat and Malo (Carlos Santana broheim Jorge’s band, of "Suavacito" fame). For a primo education in the real dealie, install yourself at the Sunday’s Banjo Stage for Hazel Dickens, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, and Ralph Stanley. *Fri/2-Sun/4, check site for times, free. Speedway Meadow, Golden Gate Park, SF. www.strictlybluegrass.com

Lemmy caution

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC At an age when most rock ‘n’ roll veterans are content to retire from performing live or trade in their electric guitars for acoustics and change the way they approach their material, Lemmy Kilmister continues to tour the world, bringing his blistering blend of hard rock to fans. The 63-year old leader of Motorhead has been playing music for nearly five decades and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. He and the band have hit the road for another tour.

Getting his start in a series of local bands in his native England in the early 1960s, Kilmister eventually moved to London, served a stint as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, and performed with Hawkwind before founding his own, now legendary band in 1975. Boasting the slogan "Everything Louder Than Everything Else," Motorhead has gained the reputation for being one of the most thunderous groups ever measured in concert.

"We never planned to be the loudest band in the world, we just liked playing that way — I wasn’t trying for any titles," Kilmister explains by phone after a recent sound check in Orlando, Fla.

Though Motorhead has always revolved around Kilmister, the current lineup has been together for some time now; guitarist Phil Campbell joined in 1984 and drummer Mikkey Dee came on board in 1992. But Matt Sorum — who has played with Guns N’ Roses, the Cult, and Velvet Revolver — is filling in on drums for the band’s current tour. Dee is on a hiatus while filming a reality TV show, the Swedish version of I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

"We saw Mikkey on it last night, he was riding a bike on a rope bridge 30 feet up. Unfortunately, they had a safety harness on him," Kilmister chuckles.

A documentary about the iconic frontman, simply titled Lemmy, is set for release later this year. It explores the history of a singer whose penchant for uncompromising rock ‘n’ roll and passions for drugs and women have become the stuff of legend. The film includes live performances, and interviews with various people who have played and worked with Kilmister, who is known for being affable and laid-back when offstage.

"They’ve got a lot of interviews with different people saying what a nice guy I was. It was very flattering. I had no idea I was held in such high esteem," Kilmister laughs.

Following the San Francisco show, Motorhead will be on tour until around Christmas. The group heads back into the studio to record its next album — the follow up to last year’s ferocious Motorizer (Steamhammer/CPV) — in February. That release undoubtedly will be followed by yet another whirlwind trek across the globe to play in front of faithful fans. The elder statesman of hard rock takes on a serious tone when asked if he ever tires of the relentless rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.

"This is where I belong, I’m supposed to do this," Kilmister says emphatically. "I’m lucky I’ve found my place — a lot of people don’t ever find theirs. This is mine."

MOTORHEAD

With Reveren Horton Heat, Nashville Pussy

Mon/5, 8 p.m., $36–$38

Warfield

982 Market, SF

(415) 775-7722

www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

Higher ground

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arts@sfbg.com

LIT What Susan Sontag wrote about illness in 1978’s Illness as Metaphor and 1989’s AIDS and Its Metaphors holds for disaster as well: all too often, widespread devastation is made to serve moralistic meanings. Perhaps the primary virtue of Rebecca Solnit’s clear-headed new book, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster (Viking, 353 pages, $27.95), is that it does not simply swap one interpretation of disaster — as anticonsumerist reckoning, for instance — for another, such as Jerry Falwell-style damnation. Solnit is interested in how people act in the aftermath, for better and for worse.

By tallying stories from a century’s worth of disasters, Solnit mounts a passionate argument that altruism and solidarity are the norm, no matter what the media or authorities might report. Early in A Paradise Built in Hell, she reflects on the unexpected joy found in the wake of the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989: "We don’t even have a language for this emotion in which the wonderful comes wrapped in the terrible, joy in sorrow, courage in fear. We cannot welcome disaster, but we can value the responses, both practical and psychological."

Solnit collects evidence of commonplace resilience from bottom-up accounts of earthquakes in San Francisco and Mexico City, the London Blitz, 9/11, Katrina, and the Halifax Explosion of 1917. She marshals these anecdotes against the Hobbesian view, often taken by those in power, that ordinary people will backslide into chaotic violence without strict social controls. A ruling class’s authority is disrupted in disaster, and this tends to put them in a preemptive, paranoid mood. The helpful term for this displacement is "elite panic." The predictability of warrantless crackdowns is depressing. In Solnit’s history, we see Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco ("These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so if necessary, and I expect they will") echoing the brutal edict issued by San Francisco’s mayor, Eugene Schmitz, in 1906 ("The Federal Troops, the members of the Regular Police Force, and all Special Police Officers have been authorized by me to KILL any and all persons engaged in looting"). People matter more than property, except when they don’t.

It’s to Solnit’s credit as a journalist that she departs from her script in New Orleans for a harrowing account (with an assist from former Guardian reporter A.C. Thompson) of the murder of several black men by heavily armed white vigilante groups. One wonders, however, if these ragtag brigades—which certainly cannot be called "elite" — aren’t filling a similar vacuum, in their way, as the informal groups that set to feeding the hungry. How does Solnit’s goodness match up with the mass-complicity required of genocide? It’s telling, after all, that Jan T. Gross’ 2001 book about a massacre of Jews in World War II was titled Neighbors.

A Paradise Built in Hell is a little didactic and a lot repetitious in the typical nonfiction style, and for someone obviously concerned with the impact of words, Solnit never really explains the Christian tuning of her title. But these are only chinks in the book’s broad spirit of inquiry. Solnit’s sources include Carnival, Russian anarchist thinker Peter Kropotkin, the reactionary politics of disaster movies like Dante’s Peak (1997), and William James, who was visiting Stanford during the ’06 quake. Her most intriguing proposition is that the civic temper — James’ phrase — loosed by disaster represents a kind of desire. We’re so used to thinking of desires, both as they’re expressed and repressed, as a private matter of sexuality and identity that it’s almost shocking to hear the word in this social context.

One can easily think of Solnit’s look at hope regained as a kind of parable of the Bush-Obama transition, but if A Paradise Built in Hell is a product of its time, it’s not because it channels our new president’s good tidings. Instead, Solnit’s work is best read as a sustained critique of the degraded view of ordinary citizens taken by the Bush administration: in its eyes we were craven, greedy, vindictive, and worse. Solnit says no, not when it counts. It takes real imagination to answer the intellectual crisis provoked by the reign of W with a study in altruism. What’s even more surprising, she succeeds.

My country, my country

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FILM We go to documentaries to learn about the lives of others, but rarely are we put in touch with the patience, sensitivity, and grit required of listening. Heddy Honigmann’s films privilege the social aspect of these encounters and are the emotionally richer for it — I’d bet her hard-earned humanism would appeal to a wide cross-section of audiences if given the chance, but her documentaries remain woefully under-distributed. Oblivion is her first set in Lima since 1992’s Metal and Melancholy, still my favorite film of hers. Honigmann, who was born in Lima to Holocaust survivors but left the city to study and work in Europe, made that first film to clarify the everyday reality of Peru’s economic ruin. Instead of submitting a top-down exposition of the situation, she interviews taxi drivers. This was an ingenious maneuver for at least two reasons: it admits the contingencies of her inquiry and floats a matter-of-fact portrait of the people’s despair on the motor-mouthed musings of actual people. Their informal testimonies are too flush with colloquial wisecracking, cynical tirades, idiosyncratic performances, amateur ingenuity, and tender confessions to qualify for pity.

In Oblivion, Honigmann reverses angle, following children and adolescents as they flip cartwheels for stopped traffic, the crosswalk their stage. She also zeroes in on the more established service class, from a stunned shoeshine boy up to a dexterous master of the pisco sour. Slowly, we realize Honigmann’s interviews are an exercise in political geography: she talks to people in the near proximity of the presidential palace, the long shadow of Peru’s ignominious political history framing their discreet stories. Oblivion exhibits both class consciousness and formal virtuosity in its coterminous realizations of an Altman-numbered array of characters. As ever, Honigmann’s ability to transform the normally airless interview format into a cohesive band of intimate encounters is simply stunning. History consigned them to oblivion, but as Honigmann adroitly shows by periodic cut-aways to past presidential inaugurations, personal memory often outlasts the official record.

OBLIVION opens Fri/2 at the Sundance Kabuki.

No resolve

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM It was the last Bush administration’s master PR stroke to render terrorism completely abstract while appearing to frame it in layman’s terms. There’s no real choosing sides when the choices are "evil" and "freedom" — who’s going to say slow down there, pardner, when the cause is painted as humanity against the inhuman? That equation bought carte blanche approval for a lot of dumb subsequent moves, with the world arguably no safer as a consequence.

Most Americans have an absolute faith that we’re the good guys. But most bad guys were good guys once — it’s a process, not a natal condition. It’s unpleasant but valuable work to imagine exactly how fanaticism can create a sense of righteousness in violence, as opposed to the zero brain power required to think an entire country or religion might wake up one day and say "Let’s be evildoers!"

We’d like to think our principles would withstand hunger, torture, propaganda, Rolfing, whatever. But who really knows what we’re be capable of after a few weeks, months, years of deprivation or indoctrination? It took Patty Hearst just 71 days to become machine-gun-wielding Tania. Who can blame her if she chose a life of John Waters cameos and never discussed the matter afterward? The woman who robbed a Hibernia Bank must seem like a stranger — the kind who nonetheless can shame you by association, like an embarrassing relative or something said while very drunk. Her personality was bent against her will. Luckily, it sprang back.

The character played by Liam Neeson in Five Minutes of Heaven deals with his terroristic youth in precisely the opposite fashion — it’s become both penitentiary cause and ruination of his life. Neeson is an actor who carries his looks and towering stature like a burden — few stars are so at home communicating guilt, masochism, and rueful sacrifice. His Alistair is an esteemed present-day lecturer, activist, and conflict-resolution mediator of violent group behavior.

His qualifying original sin: in 1974, at age 17, he assassinated a young Catholic local to prove mettle within a midsize Irish city’s pro-England, Protestant guerrilla sect. He served 12 years for that crime. But Neeson’s face knows Alistair’s punishment is neverending. In mind’s eye he keeps seeing his young self (Mark Davison) committing murder — as witnessed by the victim’s little brother, Joe (Kevin O’Neill).

Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, German director of 2004’s Downfall, Five Minutes of Heaven — the ecstatic timespan James Nesbitt’s flop-sweating adult Joe figures he’d experience upon killing Alistair — is divided into three acts. The first is a vivid, gritty flashback. The second finds our anxious protagonists preparing for a "reconciliation" TV show taping that doesn’t go as planned. Finally the two men face each other in an off-camera meeting that vents Joe’s pent-up lifetime of rage.

Heaven has been labeled too theatrical, with its emphasis on two actors and a great deal of dialogue. But the actors are fantastic, the dialogue searing. There’s nothing stagy in the skillful way both rivet attention. This very good movie asks a very human question: how do you live with yourself after experiencing the harm fanaticism can wreak, as perp or surviving victim? Surely we’re better off for understanding what shapes terrorism. The alternative is psychological non-insight as blunt as the concept "evildoer."

FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN opens Fri/2 in Bay Area theaters.

Funny face

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superego@sfbg.com

SUPER EGO How could anyone say no to Joan Rivers? The turbulent past, the red-carpet gushes, the petrified visage? Sure, we could blame her for Kathy Griffin and the rise of celebrity culture, but she also created the one true tagline of our time in a Geico commercial that defined a generation: “I can’t feel my face!” Recently roasted, the hysterically hysterical comedian is gracing us with her presence in early October, and the only time she could talk to me was smack dab in the middle of Folsom Street Fair. So I unhooked myself and ducked in to a Porta-Potty to call her in New York.

SFBG Hi Joan, please forgive any background noise. I’m calling you from our giant leather fetish festival, the Folsom Street Fair.

Joan Rivers Fantastic! I’m there with you in my heart.

SFBG I remember you were here in San Francisco this time last year. The gay press published the screaming headline, “Leather Fair a huge success!” with a big picture of your face underneath it.

JR I really couldn’t ask for much more.

SFBG This year’s fair falls on Yom Kippur, so you get the beatings and the atonement all in one. Do you observe Yom Kippur?

JR I do observe it. I’m the matron of my family, so I have a huge dinner to prepare!

SFBG I’ll keep it short and sweet, then. I adore your signature line of jewelry that you sell on QVC. Lately, I’ve seen many up-and-coming drag queens wearing your items.

JR It’s such an absolutely gorgeous collection, and I’m not just saying that because it’s mine. It’s truly exquisite, and I’m sure it looks lovely on the girls.

SFBG It really does. And congratulations on your hard-fought win on this year’s Celebrity Apprentice. You went tooth and nail!

JR The best part was donating my winnings to [meal-delivery service to AIDS patients] God’s Love We Deliver, a charity I’ve been supporting for years. Let me tell you, Marke, it was such a thrilling experience. Would I do it all again? No.

SFBG At 76, you’re still doing standup. You’re doing four shows in two nights at Cobb’s. Good lord! What are the crowds like here?

JR I love San Francisco. I once lived there for a month when I was in residence at the Magic Theater and it was a beautiful time. San Francisco is smart and it’s gay. What more do you need as a performer?

JOAN RIVERS Fri/2 and Sat/3, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., $53.50–$55. Cobb’s Comedy Club, 915 Columbus, SF. www.cobbscomedy.com ———-

FEEL THE LOVE

“Our club is for young people,” the promoter of a popular electro club responded cooly when I asked if her tribe would have a presence at LovEvolution, formerly Lovefest, formerly Love Parade, on Saturday, Oct. 3. It’s true that the programming of the massive outdoor raveathon can seem a bit, er, mature. But the all-ages party is bursting with eager youth, with a youthful outlook to match, even as it seems more and more panicky about reeling in out-of-town Big Names. The true local and new will be found on the smaller parade floats, with California Dubstep Republic, Homochic, and the “Janky Barge” looking especially twisty. And this time around, at the satellite parties, the kids are in for one holy cow of a house education. DJ Frankie Knuckles will show them why he’s the godfather of house at Temple (www.templesf.com) and the awesomely gifted and underage Martinez Brothers will represent the next soulful wave at Mighty (www.mighty119.com), both on Fri/2. Also at Mighty, on Sunday, Oct.4, is an event that everyone in Clubland is wetting their drawers for. One of the best parties I’ve ever been to (and spent a ton of frequent flyer miles on), New York City’s Body and Soul, is popping up for one night here in San Francisco, reuniting founding DJs Francois K., Danny Krivit, and Joe Clausell. It’s all too much, and that’s quite a bit of the point.

www.sflovevolution.com

Flourescence

0

le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS It looked like a good place to sit and so we sat there, basking in the relative fluorescentlessness. Compared to Joshua Tree National Park, there are a lot of restaurants to choose from on San Bruno Avenue in San Francisco. Dive after dive after dive, it’s a Cheap Eats mecca. Whereas Joshua Tree has lizards. Stones. A bee that won’t leave me alone.

My sweetie and me are under a rock, or rather, under a complex formation of rocks, sharing an apple and writing on our laptops. We are sitting side by side on a blanket, leaning against one wall of our cave. I just had me my favorite siesta ever. Hold on a second … Her too. You wouldn’t believe how in love I am. Hold on a second … Her too.

You wouldn’t believe how hot it is just a few feet away from us, and how pleasant the weather is in our cave. Tomorrow with the air conditioning on we will drive through Mojave to Death Valley Junction, home of the Amargosa Opera House.

A woman named Marta rented then bought it 40-some years ago, but no one would come, so she painted an audience on the walls of the place, and now she’s 90 and still performs there even though sometimes she has to sing sitting down.

Anyway, it seems like a monument to what I love about life: kooky people making limeade out of lemons. That’s one thing. So we’re going to go see it, maybe catch a show, if we’re lucky. If we’re really lucky, a standing-up one. And if not, we’ll drive on. There are hot springs that side of the mountains.

I haven’t camped in Joshua Tree for a few years. Ever since I first moved to my witchy shack in the woods, I have not felt the need to camp, go figure. But the desert is something else. And this one is my favorite place on the planet. The surreal rock formations, the moony landscape, the irrepressible joy of headlight-lit ocotillos, and the cartoonishly contortionistic joshua trees reaching every which way at once.

What we don’t have here is beef with tender greens, or pork and preserved cabbage noodle soup, or chicken with bitter melon. In fact, there are many ways in which Joshua Tree National Park is not a Chinese restaurant.

It’s so quiet you can hear the air, sometimes.

At night there are a lot of airplanes. Blinking beelines to Palm Springs, or Los Angeles, or back, their silent exclamations are almost welcome in a sky dotted with periods and comets.

I don’t think I ever brought a laptop before to Joshua Tree. But I’m with a writer now, and she’s got a reading tour on the East Coast next month, a slow-going story to finish, and a new one to start. Whereas I have a restaurant to tell you about.

It’s a little less fluorescent than most San Bruno Avenue joints, yes, but it’s still cheap. San Bruno Café. Or 2546 Café. Or 2546 San Bruno Café. They have $5.25 rice plates from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., even on weekends. Gotta like that.

What you don’t gotta like (and won’t) is that every meal starts — no matter what you order — with a bowl of bean water soup. That was our name for it. I mean, you can’t argue with free, but … come on! A bowl of murky brown water with nothing in it? Maybe a half of a bean, or two, lurking somewhere beneath the cloudy, greaseless surface.

If you look around the restaurant, you’ll notice that people are leaving unfinished bowls of bean water all over — on ledges, on chairs, on other people’s dirty tables, on clean ones … Eventually the management will notice too.

Bean water aside (very very literally), nothing else was especially great either. Although: everything was good and cheap. You’d be hard-pressed to find any 10s on San Bruno’s menu. There are even some things under five, like instant noodles and porridges.

But it’s so weird to be writing about Chinese food in Joshua Tree. I’m going to stop doing so, abruptly, kiss my hard-working sweetie, and walk until I find an Internet café.

2546 SAN BRUNO CAFE

Daily: 7:30 a.m.–9 p.m.

2546 San Bruno, SF

(415) 468-8008

No alcohol

MC/V

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

Ticklish allsorts

0

andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea:

I have had a fetish for ticklish women all my life. (I used to like tickling my sisters, even, although I guess that sounds kind of weird now that I think of it in this context. But I swear it wasn’t "like that" at the time.) But especially since I’ve been having sex with women, I’ve liked tickling them. Mostly they don’t want me too, so I don’t, but I end up frustrated because tickling really turns me on. There are videos on the Internet and I do watch those, but I want a real-life girlfriend to tickle! I broke up with my last girlfriend (not because of tickling) and am wondering if it’s possible to find a new one who does like it. How would you bring something like that up on a date? And how did I get this way, anyway?

Love,

Tickle-Me Jason

Dear Jason:

Did you like what I did with your name there? Not that that was your real name, Brandon. I’d never do that.

Anyway, nobody knows. Earlier sex researchers spent a lot of time and cycles on the problem and nobody has ever come up with anything more convincing than the original, mad scientist Richard von Kraft-Ebing, who connected constitutional criminality, low foreheads, early masturbation, and the presence of a fetishizeable object or behavior and blamed them for the later development of paraphilic behavior. Absurd as they sound a century-and-a-half later, these theories were all anybody had to go on for a long time, and seem to linger (along with Freud’s) even now, since almost everyone who does have an unusual set of turn-ons looks to childhood to find a probably nonexistent cause. My own sexuality may have been permanently twisted by early exposure to a National Lampoon spoof of Kraft-Ebbing’s masterwork, Psychopathia Sexualis called, I believe, Psychopathia Cheesealis. It involved, like the original, stern governesses and harsh Prussian child-rearing techniques, and also a good deal of gorgonzola and Emmenthaler. But surely this is neither here nor there.

We don’t know how fetishes develop, and we can’t, since the category itself is such a catch-all. One man’s fetish is another’s passing fancy; one therapist’s paraphilia is another’s healthy sexual experimentation. Me, I make a distinction between objects and behaviors that enhance sexual experiences and those that must be present in order for the person to function at all, or which replace a sexual partner entirely and in all instances. Lick a boot? Great. Lick only boots but never people? Maybe we should talk about that. But I don’t know why a boots-only sexuality develops, and neither does anyone else.

Some fetishes are clearly spontaneously generated and read like some sort of synaptic cross-wiring. Others are just as clearly societally generated and sanctioned , like the Victorian ankle fixation or the old-time Japanese obsession with the nape of the neck (or the current Japanese obsessions with school girls and tentacles, for that matter). Some people are born with their fixations (you may be one of these) and others add and subtract them with the passing of fad-seasons. Some things that seem like fetishes aren’t, really, when you look closer — for example, a lot of role-playing types get turned on by the accoutrements of role (uniforms, leather and chains), but wouldn’t get off on those bits and bobs outside of a "scene" context. And capital-F "Fetish" is another scene (almost) entirely, where people wear fetishy stuff because it looks groovy.

But let’s get serious. Unless you are aroused by their ticklishness, unaffected by whether or not you or a surrogate get to tickle them, you don’t have a fetish for ticklish women so much as you have a fetish for tickling women, and frankly, that one is not one of my favorites. While tickling can be deployed as just another source for extreme sensation during a fully consensual power exchange, to put it awfully stuffily, it also can be and often is misused. You see this most often with funny uncle scenarios, of course, where an adult uses tickling as an excuse both to touch and to humiliate a child and nobody thinks anything is amiss since, of course, it’s all in good fun. I’ve heard a number of women say that their sexually abusive relatives or family friends also tickled them. And some ticklers of grown-ups pull the same shit on their victims: "What’s the matter? It’s just a game. Don’t be a crybaby." It all comes down, of course, to whether or not you stop. You would never be so cruel as to keep tickling past the point of fun for the ticklee, right, and certainly not after being begged to cease? Right? If not, we have nothing further to discuss.

You may find a willing ticklee among the more usual devotees of flogging, play-piercing, and the like. You are unlikely to find someone who likes only tickling, but as I said at the top, if you only like one thing and can’t have sex without it, you may need to talk to someone anyway.

Love,

Andrea

See Andrea’s other column at carnalnation.com.

Fitting in?

0

arts@sfbg.com

FASHION Earlier this month, the white tents of New York Fashion Week went up at Bryant Park, and the tranquil and unassuming grassy lawn behind the public library was suddenly besieged by celebrities, buyers, press, and a lucky few fans with golden tickets, hungrily packing themselves in to peep the 2010 spring lines — including a handful by Bay Area designers, rare birds in the big-fashion aviary.

Seven happily frantic design students from San Francisco’s Academy of Art University had their senior thesis projects paraded alongside the collections of established designers, like Marc Jacobs and Vera Wang. For anyone hoping to make a break in the fashion industry, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.

Backstage, the designers — nearly hidden behind models waiting with hair held by clips and tissue paper, stylists kneeling on the floor to adjust hems, and makeup artists with heavy tool belts of beauty products hovering to perform last-minute touchups — speedily talked about the six or seven garments on the rolling racks along the walls whose realization had consumed the last year of their lives.

Richelle Valenzula, a Filipino who has lived in the East Bay since early adolescence, passed a hand over the silver gauze dress hanging on the rack behind him, jittery as he explained the tedious process he went through to attach intricately fitted panels of silk organza to each design. His work was worth it: on the runway, the light layers moved with a cerebral flutter, like a breeze rifling through pages of a book.

Kara Sennett showed a retro-poppy, California-dreamin’ sportswear line inspired by David Hockney’s painting Beverly Hills Housewife. Because everything was moving so fast, however, she didn’t get to see her line coming down the catwalk. "I just caught a glimpse of the very last girl from the monitor," Sennett told me. "But I’ll sacrifice to make sure everything goes out perfect." She was sacrificing for bubble-gum pink 1950s-ish bathing costumes with ivory stripes and lime vinyl cropped jackets, which created a bold, flat, in-your-face feeling.

On the other side of the classic California coin, a prominent psychedelic aesthetic shone through in the freewheeling butterfly-shaped knit dresses that Bulgarian native Marina Nikolaeva Popska whipped up. The garments look like an acid trip, and listening to Popska explain the concept behind the clothes, certainly felt like one. "It’s about humanity and nature," she enthused, as the rings on every one of her fingers shaped the air, her sandy frizz of hair creeping nearer her nose with each nod. "I have this philosophy where the human and the tree become one creature, one person, and this helps to release the soul and create a sense of light."

The antitheses of Popska’s lovechild gowns were the boyish plaid button-downs and shorts created by Brittney Major. Her Southern accent bent the ends of her words as she talked about the culture shock she experienced when she moved to SF, although the city’s attitude has since grown on her. "I love how everyone is out there at face value," Major says. As a result of her newfound California confidence, Major took daring moves with a bright, Easter-cellophane color scheme and a cheeky mix of print sizes.

Although they displayed ample verve, the students’ garments didn’t reach the meticulous construction standards of the other shows in the Bryant Park circus. Many of them felt like interesting stops along the way to developing a broader vision, which is a good place for students to be. Yet I kept thinking they would have fit in more comfortably at one of the many off-park sites in the city where fresh designers premiered their spring lines in shows that were less harsh-glare and more San Francisco vibe-y, like the vintage-inspired line that walked to an indie cover band on a Chelsea rooftop, or the party-like presentations in empty Meatpacking District warehouses.

San Francisco is just a temporary home for most of these students, many of whom are eager to move London or New York to pursue their careers. This city has become a surefire training and testing ground for the fashion-minded, exposing them to new flavors and freeing combinations. But even though this was a huge moment in the spotlight for the Academy of Art and suffused with Californian ideals, was it really a showcase of San Francisco style? A major show at Bryant Park featuring bona fide Bay Area designers might be a fashion-world revelation.

Of course, it could be that our native fashion sense, in all its subversive wiliness, may just not take well to the big catwalk. Last season’s raved-about breakout NYC show was by born-and-bred Bay label Nice Collective, showing exquisitely tailored leather waistcoats over skintight britches and heavy denim draped down the sides of worn construction-worker boots, whose open tongues flapped at the front row. The sculptural backdrop was constructed from charred wood and featured a 19th-century carriage. Nice Collective was supposed to show again this season, but — in true San Francisco fashion — the duo decided instead to focus their energies on a forthcoming "sustainable community project" here at home.

Living with water

0

rebeccab@sfbg.com

GREEN CITY Here’s a sobering thought: By the middle of the century, the waters of the San Francisco Bay could rise up to 16 inches. By 2100, in a worst-case scenario, the water level could creep up 55 inches higher, affecting some 270,000 people and placing economic resources worth $62 billion at risk.

These projections, which are potential consequences of climate change, are outlined in San Francisco Bay: Preparing for the Next Level, a joint report issued by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) and a team of Dutch research and engineering firms.

The Dutch have centuries of experience with flood mitigation. The low-lying, flood-prone territory of the Netherlands, adjacent to the North Sea, has forced Dutch engineers to become well versed in utilizing dikes, levees, and other adaptive techniques to contend with sea-level rise.

Drawing on that expertise, the San Francisco Bay study serves as a wake-up call and the beginnings of a roadmap for the Bay Area, listing 60 possible measures for addressing what appears to be an inevitable rise in sea level. Ideas range from sturdy levees, to mechanical floodwalls, to innovations such as floating houses.

"Adaptation is essential because it’s really too late to stop climate change and sea-level rise," Will Travis, executive director of BCDC, noted at a Sept. 21 symposium held to discuss the study. "If we shut down all the power plants, turn off all the lights, and park all the cars today, it’ll still continue to get warmer for at least a half a century or more."

Even with the world’s flood-mitigation experts on the case, the scenarios are daunting — and the implications are only beginning to come into focus for policymakers, planners, and the urban populations who inhabit coastal territories.

Waves in the bay could swell to about 25 percent higher on average. Intense storms are also expected to happen more often. If the sea level rose one foot, for instance, a storm-surge induced flood that used to occur roughly once a century would instead happen once a decade. The changes would be accompanied by an air-temperature increase of more than 10 degrees by 2100 — the difference between a typical summer day and a typical winter day in San Francisco.

"The reality of sea-level rise needs to be taken seriously," San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who delivered remarks at the symposium, told the Guardian. Chiu represents San Francisco on BCDC, one of the few bodies that can bring multiple stakeholders from throughout the region under one tent to plan for sea-level rise.

If the sea level in the San Francisco Bay rose three feet, some critical landmarks — Treasure Island, AT&T Park, and San Francisco International Airport — would end up underwater unless mitigation measures were in place.

Treasure Island, the site of one of the largest redevelopment projects currently moving forward in San Francisco, was cited in the report as a case study "for how large-scale development projects can deal with rising sea levels." Project developers are looking at artificially increasing island elevation to accommodate a three-foot rise in water level, according to Jack Sylvan, director of joint development for the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

Plans also include creating a buffer between new construction and the high-water line, and leaving open the possibility of shoring up the perimeter if it’s necessary to prevent flooding in the future, he said. "The fact that it’s an island forces us to address the issue," Sylvan told the Guardian.

In the report, proposed strategies for coping with climate change were presented along a continuum. One end emphasized fortress-like solutions that would support economic growth alone, while the opposite end featured more ecologically-oriented ideas like retreating from the waterfront and allowing nature to take its course.

The guiding philosophy from the Dutch was that the best approach would be to find a middle ground between these two extremes, and tailor solutions to each individual coastal area. "You should not only fight water," advised Bart Van Bolhuis, of the Consulate General of the Netherlands. "We want to share with you how we’ve mastered living with water."

The inside outsider

0

news@sfbg.com

A private-sector engineering and construction consultant has worked for years out of the San Francisco Department of Public Works (DPW) offices for free, using public resources and having inside access to top department officials, a status gained through a questionable competitive bidding process, a Guardian investigation has revealed.

Andrew Petreas, senior project manager for Environmental and Construction Solutions, Inc. (ECS), which has done contract work for DPW since 2004, has a city e-mail address. Petreas and his assistant both work on the fourth floor of DPW’s Bureau of Construction Management (BCM) building on Mission Street, in close proximity to bureau manager Donald Eng.

According to documents obtained by the Guardian earlier this year, ECS is providing construction and consultation services for various DPW projects, including repairs to the building where he works, trying to bring it in line with the city’s Green Building Ordinance, a project that is still going three months after its scheduled completion date of June 2009.

Because of the city’s competitive bidding process for using outside consultants on DPW projects — such as construction, repairs, and construction management on all city-owned buildings and maintenance of city streets and sewers — Petreas’ inside access raises questions of fairness among competing bidders and could pose a conflict of interest. DPW officials confirm the working arrangement, but deny that there’s anything improper about it.

DPW spokesperson Christine Falvey told us that Petreas’ occupancy is necessary to "improve the flow of communication between staff and consultants" and "deliver the project more efficiently." She also said Petreas will vacate the premises once his contract has expired. But insider sources and department documents indicate that Petreas has been in the department for many years, beginning as an employee under Don Todd Associates, which first began consulting for DPW in the early 1990s. And because of questionable contract extensions, there seems to be no end in sight for the department’s relationship with Petreas or his great deal on office space.

No other contractor appears to receive this kind of advantage, and all are subject to the same competitive bidding process for obtaining contracts. City Attorney’s Office spokesperson Matt Dorsey told the Guardian that "it makes sense in some cases to co-locate," but he couldn’t provide specific guidelines that regulate such arrangements.

When the Guardian requested all correspondence directed to and from Petreas’ city e-mail account, we were given e-mails dating only as far back as July 2008. We were further stonewalled by DPW when we asked how long Petreas has had a working relationship with the department.

Frank Lee, executive assistant to the director of the DPW, told us via e-mail: "I do not know the exact length of time that Andrew has worked for our department, but the e-mails that were forwarded to you were the only e-mails that we currently possess." He further told us that five e-mails were withheld in accordance to California Evidence Code Section 1152, which essentially states that public records can be withheld if it contains information about a money dispute between the city and a contractor. Lee would not say if the disputing contractor was Petreas or his firm, but did tell us that the matter is in litigation and the content is about "litigation strategies."

Earlier this year, ECS completed work on the department’s Materials Testing Lab, a project that initially began in March 2008 with a two-month timeline, but was given a 15-month extension. The firm also has been contracted to train DPW staff to estimate the cost of DPW projects, a contract worth $102,000, which is just below the $114,000 threshold for inviting competing bidders.

The documents also show that in the 2007-08 fiscal year, the department funneled additional money to ECS on top of its initial contract amount for "multidisciplinary construction management services" — essentailly retainer services — when other contractors on retainer had not yet fulfilled their contracted amount. ECS received an additional $500,000 on top of its contracted $1 million when the other contracted consultants (AGS, Inc., CPM/TMI Joint Venture, and PGH Wong Engineering, Inc.) had spent less than 50 percent of its $1 million contracted amount.

It’s not that ECS is better qualified or cheaper than these other private consultants. Consulting firms for the four open retainer slots are selected by the city’s Human Rights Commission for a two-year period through a competitive request for proposals (RFP) bidding process. For the last two periods, the commission ranked ECS in third place; before that, it came in second, but got a contract anyway.

Yet Petreas continues to be the only consultant who enjoys city e-mail privileges, not to mention a rent-free, roomy office in the city-owned building, with a view from the fourth floor. But if fairness among competing private contractors is an issue, the other contenders aren’t complaining, perhaps out of fear of not being awarded future contracts by DPW or other city agencies.

When asked whether the RFP process was even-handed and if Petreas’ insider status gives him an advantage, Jack Wang, principal engineer for AGS, Inc., hesitated to speak with us, saying that he didn’t want to get in trouble and that he "can’t comment on undue influence." He also told us that Petreas’ augmented contract amount and time extensions were "not enough for me to be alarmed about." He later added that "the industry is small. It’s very competitive."

When the Guardian took a look at all contract agreements between the department and ECS, as well as with Don Todd Associates, we discovered an employment gap that coincided with public scrutiny of the arrangement. Shortly after a September 1999 article by Peter Byrne ("It Ate City Hall") in SF Weekly reporting that Don Todd Associates had been paid $6 million over the course of nine years, some of it in apparent violation of city policies, its contract agreement ended and was never renewed or extended. But Petreas reemerged in 2004 under ECS, where he and his wife are the current owners.

The department offered no explanation for Petreas’ ongoing good fortune or his relationship with Eng, who did not return calls from the Guardian. Instead it diverted inquiries to public information officers. Several attempts were made to contact Petreas and other ECS representatives, but our calls were not returned.

So is it fair to say that there are no guidelines or oversight for the length of time a private consultant may provide services to the city and that it is wholly up to the discretion of the department manager? When we brought up this opportunity for cronyism and corruption — a big loophole in city labor law — to Deputy City Controller Monique Zmuda, she told us that "there’s no prohibition on the city contracting with one entity for a long time."

Earlier this year, ECS completed yet another round of contract negotiations with the city and signed a new master agreement for multidisciplinary services for the next five years, in which it will be paid out $1 million for as-needed services.

The Kajagoogoo of Jacques Attali

0

arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC For those of you who missed the memo, it all hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for the good people of the ol’ U.S. of A over the last year or so. You don’t have to be Noam Chomsky to realize that if the national unemployment rate is hovering right around 10 percent, that’s not good. If you toss in a confusing war that we are still involved in, the polar icecaps melting faster than Joan Rivers’ face in a boiling torrential downpour, and the small matter of a monster flu pandemic, it’s quite clear: Americans have a right to feel a trifle downcast at the moment.

Yet while we face some strains of a musical slump (screamo, ringtone rap etc.) that is just as woeful as our current financial state, 20th century American history tells us that there may be hope for the future. If you look back through the 1900s, there is a constant byproduct of periods of American crisis. We get some pretty damn awesome music.

Financially speaking, the past year or two has been dominated by scary words like recession and downturn, yet you and I have largely avoided the most bone-chilling term of all. To encounter it, you need to set your DeLorean to the 1930s, where you will find our country in the midst of the most terrifying 10 letters in our economic lexicon — depression.

Beginning with some dramatic leaps in 1929, the Great Depression is the benchmark for what happens when things go horribly wrong. In the U.S., unemployment rates reached an unprecedented 25 percent, and the country, not to mention the rest of the planet, was wallowing in the unpleasant waters of the River Styx.

But something curious happened. As folks were dealing with the decade’s bleakest times, Americans were also writing, recording, and performing some of the finest music in the nation’s history. Legendary jazz artists like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Billie Holiday released some of the best material of their careers, while the roots of country music were sowed by musicians like Jimmie Rodgers, Lead Belly, the Carter Family, and Woody Guthrie. Much of the Depression-era work of these artists combines palpable, affecting melancholy with surprising overtones of faith, hope, and celebration. Music served as a window into the pain of the average American, and also as an escape from the real-life problems people were facing.

This phenomenon returned in many ways during the late 1960s. While thousands of Americans were fighting a war that nobody seemed to understand, those left behind faced widespread inflation and high interest rates. America again turned to its musicians to air frustrations and fears. Taking cues from artists like Pete Seeger and Doc Watson (who were still active during the generation), a new generation of protest music exploded. The new folk of singers-songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez gripped the nation. So did the socially-conscious soul of troubadours like Marvin Gaye, Gil-Scott Heron, and Sam Cooke.

Though these are perhaps the two most obvious instances of great music being created during hard times in America, they aren’t the only ones. Deep in the 1980s, as white suburbanites were loving Reaganomics and rocking out to Kajagoogoo and Huey Lewis, residents of inner cities across America were stuck smack-dab in GOP-perpetrated trickle-down hell. Groundbreaking artists such as NWA, Ice-T, and KRS-One sprang out of the cities, further igniting the massive cultural and commercial force that is hip-hop.

Which brings us to the big question — can we do it again? While you may call it naiveté, I’m optimistic about the chances of history repeating itself. In just the last year, folk has made quite a resurgence, with Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, the Avett Brothers and others gaining massive followings and selling out venues wherever they play. Also, due to file-sharing, the rise of easily-streamable digital music, and well-run independent labels, artists are able to get their music out to larger audiences without interference from conservative and controlling corporate entities. The rise of independent music is apparent in the lineup of the upcoming Treasure Island Music Festival, widely expected to be one of San Francisco’s biggest concert events this year. Though tickets aren’t cheap, people haven’t minded shelling out for a bill that features only five bands currently signed to a major label.

Not so long ago, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the economy was booming. Things were great for everyone — except the American pop music fan, who was subjected to overproduced boy bands, toothless pop rock (Sugar Ray, Smashmouth), nu-metal, and countless other forms of forgettable garbage. So while your pockets may be empty now, it might be a good thing. Hold out a hope that maybe, just maybe, in 30 years, the music of the next decade will be lauded much like the tunes of the 1930s and the 1960s.

Until then, just sit tight and keep praying for the death of auto-tune.

Censored!

0

news@sfbg.com

Peter Phillips, director of Project Censored for 13 years, says he’s finished with reform. It’s impossible, he said in a recent interview, to try to get major news media outlets to deliver relevant news stories that serve to strengthen democracy.

"I really think we’re beyond reforming corporate media," said Phillips, a professor of sociology at Sonoma State University and director of Project Censored. "We’re not going to break up these huge conglomerates. We’re just going to make them irrelevant."

Every year since 1976, Project Censored has spotlighted the 25 most significant news stories that were largely ignored or misrepresented by the mainstream press. Now the group is expanding its mission — to promote alternative news sources. But it continues to report the biggest national and international stories that the major media ignored.

The term "censored" doesn’t mean some government agent stood over newsrooms with a rubber stamp and forbid the publication of the news, or even that the information was completely out of the public eye. The stories Project Censored highlights may have run in one or two news outlets, but didn’t get the type of attention they deserved.

The project staff begins by sifting through hundreds of stories nominated by individuals at Sonoma State, where the project is based, as well as 30 affiliated universities all over the country.

Articles are verified, fact-checked, and selected by a team of students, faculty, and evaluators from the wider community, then sent to a panel of national judges to be ranked. The end product is a book, co-edited this year by Phillips and associate director Mickey Huff, that summarizes the top stories, provides in-depth media analysis, and includes resources for readers who are hungry for more substantive reporting.

Project Censored doesn’t just expose gaping holes in the news brought to you by the likes of Fox, CNN, or USA Today — it also shines a light on less prominent but more incisive alternative-media sources serving up in-depth investigations and watchdog reports.

Phillips is stepping down this year as director of Project Censored and turning his attention to a new endeavor called Media Freedom International. The organization will tap academic affiliates from around the world to verify the content put out by independent news outlets as a way to facilitate trust in these lesser-known sources. "The biggest question I got asked for 13 years was, who do you trust?" he explained. "So we’ve really made an effort in the last three years to try to address that question, in a very open way, in a very honest way, and say, these are [the sources] who we can trust."

Benjamin Frymer, a sociology professor at Sonoma State who is stepping into the role of Project Censored director, says he believes the time is ripe for this kind of push. "The actual amount of time people spend reading online is increasing," Frymer pointed out. "It’s not as if people are just cynically rejecting media — they’re reaching out for alternative sources. Project Censored wants to get involved in making those sources visible."

The Project Censored book this year uses the term "truth emergency."

"We call it an emergency because it’s a democratic emergency," Huff asserted. In this media climate, "we’re awash in a sea of information," he said. "But we have a paucity of understanding about what the truth is."

The top 25 Project Censored stories of 2008-09 highlight the same theme that Phillips and Huff say has triggered the downslide of mainstream media: the overwhelming influence of powerful, profit-driven interests. The No. 1 story details the financial sector’s hefty campaign contributions to key members of Congress leading up to the financial crisis, which coincided with a weakening of federal banking regulations. Another story points out that in even in the financial tumult following the economic downturn, special interests spent more money on Washington lobbyists than ever before.

Here’s this year’s list.

1. CONGRESS SELLS OUT TO WALL STREET


The total tab for the Wall Street bailout, including money spent and promised by the U.S. government, works out to an estimated $42,000 for every man, woman, and child, according to American Casino, a documentary about sub prime lending and the financial meltdown. The predatory lending free-for-all, the emergency pumping of taxpayer dollars to prop up mega banks, and the lavish bonuses handed out to Wall Street executives in the aftermath are all issues that have dominated news headlines.

But another twist in the story received scant attention from the mainstream news media: the unsettling combination of lax oversight from national politicians with high-dollar campaign contributions from financial players.

"The worldwide economic meltdown and the bailout that followed were together a kind of revolution, a coup d’état," Matt Taibbi wrote in "The Big Takeover," a March 2009 Rolling Stone article. "They cemented and formalized a political trend that has been snowballing for decades: the gradual takeover of the government by a small class of connected insiders who used money to control elections, buy influence, and systematically weaken financial regulations."

In the 10-year period beginning in 1998, the financial sector spent $1.7 billion on federal campaign contributions, and another $3.4 billion on lobbyists. Since 2001, eight of the most troubled firms have donated $64.2 million to congressional candidates, presidential candidates, and the Republican and Democratic parties.

Wall Street’s spending spree on political contributions coincided with a weakening of federal banking regulations, which in turn created a recipe for the astronomical financial disaster that sent the global economy reeling.

Sources: "Lax Oversight? Maybe $64 Million to DC Pols Explains It," Greg Gordon, Truthout.org and McClatchey Newspapers, October 2, 2008; "Congressmen Hear from TARP Recipients Who Funded Their Campaigns," Lindsay Renick Mayer, Capitol Eye, February 10, 2009; "The Big Takeover," Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, March 2009.

2. DE FACTO SEGREGATION DEEPENING IN PUBLIC EDUCATION


Latinos and African Americans attend more segregated public schools today than they have for four decades, Professor Gary Orfield notes in "Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge," a study conducted by UCLA’s Civil Rights Project. Orfield’s report used federal data to highlight deepening segregation in public education by race and poverty.

About 44 percent of students in the nation’s public school system are people of color, and this group will soon make up the majority of the population in the U.S. Yet this racial diversity often isn’t reflected from school to school. Instead, two out of every five African American and Latino youths attend schools Orfield characterizes as "intensely segregated," composed of 90 percent to 100 percent people of color.

For Latinos, the trend reflects growing residential segregation. For African Americans, the study attributes a significant part of the reversal to ending desegregation plans in public schools nationwide. Schools segregated by race and poverty tend to have much higher dropout rates, more teacher turnover, and greater exposure to crime and gangs, placing students at a major disadvantage in society. The most severe segregation is in Western states, including California.

Fifty-five years after the Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, Orfield wrote, "Segregation is fast spreading into large sectors of suburbia, and there is little or no assistance for communities wishing to resist the pressures of resegregation and ghetto creation in order to build successfully integrated schools and neighborhoods."

Source: "Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge," Gary Orfield, The Civil Rights Project, UCLA, January 2009

3. SOMALI PIRATES: THE UNTOLD STORY


Somali pirates off the Horn of Africa were like gold for mainstream news outlets this past year. Stories describing surprise attacks on shipping vessels, daring rescues, and cadres of ragtag bandits extracting multimillion dollar ransoms were all over the airwaves and front pages.

But even as the pirates’ exploits around the Gulf of Aden captured the world’s attention, little ink was devoted to factors that made the Somalis desperate enough to resort to piracy in the first place: the dumping of nuclear waste and rampant over-fishing their coastal waters.

In the early 1990s, when Somalia’s government collapsed, foreign interests began swooping into unguarded coastal waters to trawl for food — and venturing into unprotected Somali territories to cheaply dispose of nuclear waste. Those activities continued with impunity for years. The ramifications of toxic dumping hit full force with the 2005 tsunami, when leaking barrels were washed ashore, sickening hundreds and causing birth defects in newborn infants. Meanwhile, the uncontrolled fishing harvests damaged the economic livelihoods of Somali fishermen and eroded the country’s supply of a primary food source. That’s when the piracy began.

"Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our nuclear waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome?" asked journalist Johann Hari in a Huffington Post article. "We didn’t act on those crimes — but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 percent of the world’s oil supply, we begin to shriek about ‘evil.’"

Sources: "Toxic waste behind Somali piracy," Najad Abdullahi, Al Jazeera English, Oct. 11, 2008; "You are being lied to about pirates," Johann Hari, The Huffington Post, Jan. 4, 2009; "The Two Piracies in Somalia: Why the World Ignores the Other," Mohamed Abshir Waldo, WardheerNews, Jan. 8, 2009

4. NORTH CAROLINA’S NUCLEAR NIGHTMARE


The Shearon Harris nuclear plant in North Carolina’s Wake County isn’t just a power-generating station. The Progress Energy plant, located in a backwoods area, bears the distinction of housing the largest radioactive-waste storage pools in the country. Spent fuel rods from two other nuclear plants are transported there by rail, then stored beneath circuutf8g cold water to prevent the radioactive waste from heating.

The hidden danger, according to investigative reporter Jeffery St. Clair, is the looming threat of a pool fire. Citing a study by Brookhaven National Laboratory, St. Clair highlighted in Counterpunch the catastrophe that could ensue if a pool were to ignite. A possible 140,000 people could wind up with cancer. Contamination could stretch for thousands of square miles. And damages could reach an estimated $500 billion.

"Spent fuel recently discharged from a reactor could heat up relatively rapidly and catch fire," Robert Alvarez, a former Department of Energy advisor and Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies noted in a study about safety issues surrounding nuclear waste pools. "The fire could well spread to older fuel. The long-term contamination consequences of such an event could be significantly worse than Chernobyl."

Shearon Harris’ track record is pocked with problems requiring temporary shutdowns of the plant and malfunctions of the facility’s emergency-warning system.

When a study was sent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission highlighting the safety risks and recommending technological fixes to address the problem, St. Clair noted, a pro-nuclear commissioner successfully persuaded the agency to dismiss the concerns.

Source: "Pools of Fire," Jeffrey St. Clair, CounterPunch, Aug. 9, 2008

5. U.S. FAILS TO PROTECT CONSUMERS AGAINST TOXICS


Two years ago, the European Union enacted a bold new environmental policy requiring close scrutiny and restriction of toxic chemicals used in everyday products. Invisible perils such as lead in lipstick, endocrine disruptors in baby toys, and mercury in electronics can threaten human health. The European legislation aimed to gradually phase out these toxic materials and replace them with safer alternatives.

The story that has gone unreported by mainstream American news media is how this game-changing legislation might affect the U.S., where chemical corporations use lobbying muscle to ensure comparatively lax oversight of toxic substances. As global markets shift to favor safer consumer products, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is lagging in its own scrutiny of insidious chemicals.

As investigative journalist Mark Schapiro pointed out in Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What’s at Stake for American Power, the EPA’s tendency to behave as if it were beholden to big business could backfire in this case, placing U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage because products manufactured here will be regarded with increasing distrust.

Economics aside, the implications of loose restrictions on toxic products are chilling: just one-third of the 267 chemicals on the EU’s watch list have ever been tested by the EPA, and only two are regulated under federal law. Meanwhile, researchers at UC Berkeley estimate that 42 billion pounds of chemicals enter American commerce daily, and only a fraction have undergone risk assessments. When it comes to meeting the safer, more stringent EU standard, the stakes are high — with consequences including economic impacts as well as public health.

Sources: "European Chemical Clampdown Reaches Across Atlantic," David Biello, Scientific American, Sept. 30, 2008; "How Europe’s New Chemical Rules Affect U.S.," Environmental Defense Fund, Sept. 30, 2008; "U.S. Lags Behind Europe in Reguutf8g Toxicity of Everyday Products," Mark Schapiro, Democracy Now! Feb. 24, 2009

6. AS ECONOMY SHRINKS, D.C. LOBBYING GROWS


In 2008, as the economy tumbled and unemployment soared, Washington lobbyists working for special interests were paid $3.2 billion — more than any other year on record. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, special interests spent a collective $32,523 per legislator, per day, for every day Congress was in session.

One event that triggered the lobbying boom, according to CRP director Sheila Krumholz, was the federal bailout — with the federal government ensuring that the lobbyists got a piece of the pie. Ironically, some of the first in line were the same players who helped precipitate the nation’s sharp economic downturn by engaging in high-risk, speculative lending practices.

"Even though some financial, insurance and real estate interests pulled back last year, they still managed to spend more than $450 million as a sector to lobby policymakers," Krumholz noted. "That can buy a lot of influence, and it’s a fraction of what the financial sector is reaping in return through the government’s bailout program."

The list of highest-ranking spenders on Washington lobbying reads like a roster of some of the most powerful interests nationwide. Topping the list was the health sector, which spent $478.5 million lobbying Congress last year. A close runner-up was the finance, insurance, and real-estate sector, spending $453.5 million. Pharmaceutical companies plunked down $230 million; electric utilities spent $156.7 million; and oil and gas companies paid lobbyists $133.2 million.

Source: "Washington Lobbying Grew to $3.2 Billion Last Year, Despite Economy," Center for Responsive Politics, Open Secrets.org

7. OBAMA’S CONTROVERSIAL DEFENSE APPOINTEES


President Barack Obama’s appointments to the Department of Defense have raised serious questions among critics who’ve studied their track records. Although the news media haven’t paid much attention, the defense appointees bring to the administration controversial histories and conflicts of interest due to close ties to defense contractors.

Obama’s decision to retain Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush, marks the first time in history that a president has opted to keep a defense secretary of an outgoing opposing party in power.

Gates, a former CIA director, has faced criticism for allegedly spinning intelligence reports for political means. In Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA, author and former CIA analyst Melvin Goodman described him as "the chief action officer for the Reagan administration’s drive to tailor intelligence reporting to White House political desires." Gates also came under scrutiny for questions surrounding whether he misled Congress during the Iran-contra scandal in the mid-1980s, and was accused of withholding information from intelligence committees when the U.S. provided military aid to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war.

Critics are also uneasy about the appointment of Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn, who formerly served as a senior vice president at defense giant Raytheon Company and was a registered lobbyist for Raytheon until July 2008. Lynn, who previously served as Pentagon comptroller under the Clinton administration, came under fire during his confirmation hearing for "questionable accounting practices." The Defense Department failed multiple audits under Lynn’s leadership because it was unable to properly account for $3.4 trillion in financial transactions made over the course of several years.

Sources: "The Danger of Keeping Robert Gates," Robert Parry, ConsortiumNews.com, Nov. 13, 2008; "Obama’s Defense Department Appointees- The $3.4 Trillion Question," Andrew Hughes, Global Research, Feb. 13, 2009; "Obama Nominee Admiral Dennis Blair Aided perpetrators of 1999 church Killings in East Timor," Allan Nairn, Democracy Now! Jan. 7, 2009; "Ties to Chevron, Boeing Raise Concern on Possible NSA Pick," Roxana Tiron, The Hill, Nov. 24, 2008


8. BIG BUSINESS CHEATS THE IRS


The Cayman Islands and Bermuda are magnets for Bank of America, Citigroup, American International Group, and 11 other financial giants that were the beneficiaries of the federal government’s 2008 Wall Street bailout. It’s not the balmy weather that inspires some of America’s wealthiest companies to open operations in the Caribbean archipelago: the offshore oases provide safe harbors to stash cash out of the reach of Uncle Sam.

According to a 2008 report by the Government Accountability Office, which was largely ignored by the news media, 83 of the top publicly-held U.S. companies, including some receiving substantial portions of federal bailout dollars, have operations in tax havens that allow them to avoid paying their fair share to the Internal Revenue Service. The report also spotlighted the activities of Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), which has helped wealthy Americans to use tax schemes to cheat the IRS out of billions.

In December 2008, banking giant Goldman Sachs reported its first quarterly loss, and promptly followed up with a statement that its tax rate would drop from 34.1 percent to 1 percent, citing "changes in geographic earnings mix" as the reason. The difference: instead of paying $6 billion in total worldwide taxes as it did in 2007, Goldman Sachs would pay a total of $14 million in 2008. In the same year, it received $10 billion and debt guarantees from the U.S. government.

"The problem is larger than Goldman Sachs," U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat who serves on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, told Bloomberg News. "With the right hand out begging for bailout money, the left is hiding it offshore."

Sources: "Goldman Sachs’s Tax Rate Drops to 1 percent or $14 Million," Christine Harper, Bloomberg News, Dec. 16, 2008; "Gimme Shelter: Tax Evasion and the Obama Administration," Thomas B. Edsall, The Huffington Post, Feb. 23, 2009

9. U.S. CONNECTED TO WHITE PHOSPHOROUS STRIKES IN GAZA


In mid-January, as part of a military campaign, the Israeli Defense Forces fired several shells that hit the headquarters of a United Nations relief agency in Gaza City, destroying provisions for basic aid like food and medicine.

The shells contained white phosphorous (referred to as "Willy Pete" in military slang), a smoke-producing, spontaneously flammable agent designed to obscure battle territory that also can ignite buildings or cause grotesque burns if it touches the skin.

The attack on the relief-agency headquarters is just one example of a civilian structure that researchers discovered had been hit during the January air strikes. In the aftermath of the attacks, Human Rights Watch volunteers found spent white phosphorous shells on city streets, apartment roofs, residential courtyards, and at a U.N. school in Gaza.

Human Rights Watch says the IDF’s use of white phosphorous violated international law, which prohibits deliberate, indiscriminate, or disproportionate attacks that result in civilian casualties. After gathering evidence such as spent shells, the organization issued a report condemning the repeated firing of white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza as a war crime. Amnesty International, another human rights organization, followed suit by calling upon the United States to suspend military aid to Israel — but to no avail.

The U.S. was a primary source of funding and weaponry for Israel’s military campaign. Washington provided F-16 fighter planes, Apache helicopters, tactical missiles, and a wide array of munitions, including white phosphorus.

Sources: "White Phosphorus Use Evidence of War Crimes Report: Rain of Fire: Israel’s Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza," Fred Abrahams, Human Rights Watch, March 25, 2009; "Suspend Military Aid to Israel, Amnesty Urges Obama after Detailing U.S. Weapons Used in Gaza," Rory McCarthy, Guardian/U.K., Feb. 23, 2009; "U.S. Weaponry Facilitates Killings in Gaza," Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service, Jan. 8, 2009; "U.S. military resupplying Israel with ammunition through Greece," Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News, Jan. 8, 2009.

10. ECUADOR SAYS IT WON’T PAY ILLEGITIMATE DEBT


When President Rafael Correa announced that Ecuador would default on its foreign debt last December, he didn’t say it was because the Latin American country was unable to pay. Rather, he framed it as a moral stand: "As president, I couldn’t allow us to keep paying a debt that was obviously immoral and illegitimate," Correa told an international news agency. The news was mainly reported in financial publications, and the stories tended to quote harsh critics who characterized Correa as an extreme leftist with ties to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

But there’s much more to the story. The announcement came in the wake of an exhaustive audit of Ecuador’s debt, conducted under Correa’s direction by a newly created debt audit commission. The unprecedented audit documented hundreds of allegations of irregularity and illegality in the decades of debt collection from international lenders. Although Ecuador had made payments exceeding the value of the principal since the time it initially took out loans in the 1970s, its foreign debt had nonetheless swelled to levels three times as high due to extraordinarily high interest rates. With a huge percentage of the country’s financial resources devoted to paying the debt, little was left over to combat poverty in Ecuador.

Correa’s move to stand up against foreign lenders did not go unnoticed by other impoverished, debt-ridden nations, and the decision could set a precedent for developing countries struggling to get out from under massive debt obligation to first-world lenders.

Ecuador eventually agreed to a restructuring of its debt at about 35 cents on the dollar. Nonetheless, the move served to expose deficiencies in the World Bank system, which provides little recourse for countries to resolve disputes over potentially illegitimate debt.

Sources: "As Crisis Mounts, Ecuador Declares Foreign Debt Illegitimate and Illegal," Daniel Denvir, Alternet, November 26, 2008; "Invalid Loans to Ecuador: Who Owes Who," Committee for the Integral Audit of Public Credit, Utube, Fall 2008; "Ecuador’s Debt Default," Neil Watkins and Sarah Anders, Foreign Policy in Focus, Dec. 15, 2008

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OTHER STORIES IN THE TOP 25

11. Private Corporations Profit from the Occupation of Palestine

12. Mysterious Death of Mike Connell—Karl Rove’s Election Thief

13. Katrina’s Hidden Race War

14. Congress Invested in Defense Contracts

15. World Bank’s Carbon Trade Fiasco

16. US Repression of Haiti Continues

17. The ICC Facilitates US Covert War in Sudan

18. Ecuador’s Constitutional Rights of Nature

19. Bank Bailout Recipients Spent to Defeat Labor

20. Secret Control of the Presidential Debates

21. Recession Causes States to Cut Welfare

22. Obama’s Trilateral Commission Team

23. Activists Slam World Water Forum as a Corporate-Driven Fraud

24. Dollar Glut Finances US Military Expansion

25. Fast Track Oil Exploitation in Western Amazon

Read them all at www.projectcensored.org

Balompie Cafe

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paulr@sfbg.com

Balompié Café looks like many another modest restaurants in the Mission, but it does make a convincing claim to uniqueness, in three parts. The first is the striking name — basically “ball foot” in Spanish. Football by any other name — including “balompié” and “fútbol” — is still … soccer. Somehow soccer’s claim to being the true football is more convincing than our own. In American football, the combination of ball and foot is seldom a presence or factor.

The second part of our triad is Balompié’s identity as a soccer bar. The walls of the otherwise unassuming space are festooned with soccer-club banners from around the world, and flat-panel televisions mounted high on the walls show plenty of action. Some of the patrons scattered around the dining room and at the bar are likely to be watching rapt, while others will be dividing their attention between the screens and the plates of Salvadorean food in front of them — the place’s Salvadoreanness being its third distinguishing characteristic. Salvadorean cuisine resembles its Mexican cousin in broad outline, with corn and beans at the foundation, as they have been for centuries in Mesoamerica. But Salvadorean cuisine has its specialties and special delights.

Torn though some of the other patrons might be between the food and the televised proceedings, there was no contest for us. Soccer is a little too free-form a game to translate comfortably to television; the main impression made on the remote spectator pertains to the green vastness of the playing field. It’s like looking at an image from Google Earth, with tiny figures frantically running around. The food, on the other hand, richly rewards the attention you pay to it. It is as flavorful as any food you’ll find in this city and is also monumentally inexpensive. Balompié has been at its central Mission location since 1987, and in recent years has opened up at a few other spots (one in SoMa, the other in the outer Mission), but it still gives big bang for the buck, and that’s probably never been more valuable than it is now, in this depression-by-any-other-name.

The best-known Salvadorean dish in this country is the pupusa — and I probably should say “pupusas,” since, as with Lay’s potato chips, the singular reference is absurd. (Balompié’s menu codifies this preference for the plural by requiring that you order a minimum of two pupusas; the regular ones are $2.50 each, the fancier sorts $3.50.) Pupusas are basically stuffed flatbreads (made here either from masa or rice flour) that look a lot like small pita breads, and they can be filled with a variety of delectables.

Spinach and cheese reminded me of the Greek pastry pie spanikopita, while chorizo and cheese had the air of a Mexican-style breakfast. In the case of the blander pupusas — the cheese-and-beans combo springs to mind — enhancement is available in the form of an impressively spicy cabbage slaw, a dish of pickled vegetables (including carrot coins, cauliflower florets, and rounds of jalapeño pepper), and a richly tomatoey, though mild-mannered, salsa.

The pupusas are griddled. The corn pies called pasteles ($5.75 for three), on the other hand, are deep-fried and resemble an improbable cross between corn dogs, falafel balls, and Easter eggs. They’re crunchy on the outside and are filled with well-seasoned minced pork. (Chicken and shrimp versions are also available.)

The bigger plates tend to include large swaths of beans and rice — a worthy combination that can assume the proportions of a small landslide. (You can get the beans and rice as discrete entities, with salad, or mixed together and fried as casamiento.) The wonderful garlic chicken ($9.95), for instance, would have been fine on its own. The meat had been sliced into boneless flaps, then cooked — I would guess on the griddle — until the edges were lightly crisped and caramelized. The finishing touch was a fabulously creamy garlic sauce with a hint of lemon ladled over the top.

A chile relleno ($10.75) turned out to be less routine than it sounded. The pepper, a poblano, was familiar enough; the filling, of chopped, spiced beef, was less so. But the real puzzle was a band of mysterious white threads with the texture of pickled radish and a bitter-fruity flavor. That bite took some getting used to but was, in the end, a real enhancement. We quizzed our server, and she brought forth a jar labelled “pacaya,” or date palm — actually a date-palm blossom, pickled in brine. The date palm is a native of Mesopotamia and is one of the world’s most venerable food sources.

This is the sort of interesting food factoid that can get overlooked when Mexico scores on Costa Rica and the tiny figures run around on the surface of their flat green planet while, at Balompié, murmurs of exultation or disappointment ripple through the crowd and more beer is ordered, perhaps a bottle of Regia from El Salvador, a gorgeously smooth golden lager in a vessel like a quart of motor oil. Sort of the beer equivalent of the foot-long hotdog.

BALOMPIÉ CAFÉ

Daily, 8 a.m.–9:30 p.m.

3349 18th St. (also at 525 Seventh St. and 3801 Mission), SF

(415) 648-9199 (558-9668, 647-4000)

Beer and wine

DS/MC/V

Loud but bearable

Wheelchair accessible

 

Volume 43 Number 53 Flip-through Edition

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Appetite: Pheasant eggs, shrimp and grits, Soul Food benefit, and more

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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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10/11 Soul Food Farm Fundraiser from Il Cane Rosso & Coi
Our Nor Cal food and farm community was saddened to hear about 30 burned acres and 1000 baby chicks lost in a recent devastating fire at Soul Food Farm in Vacaville. Daniel Patterson and his dynamic duo of restaurants, Il Cane Rosso and Coi, sponsor a fundraising dinner next week where all proceeds go to Soul Food Farm and you’re treated to a three course, family-style meal at Il Cane Rosso. Two seatings (between 5:30-6 pm, or 7:30-8 pm), offer a communal, heartwarming meal prepared with generously donated ingredients from Prather Ranch, Mariquita Farm and Full Belly. It feels good to help… and eat well at the same time.
$50 (including wine, not including tax & gratuity)
10/11, Sunday, 5:30-6pm or 7:30-8pm seatings
Il Cane Rosso, Ferry Building
415-391-7599
www.canerossosf.com
http://soulfoodfarm.com/blog/2009/09/cane-russo

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Magnolia’s new Southern-inspired brunch
Magnolia Gastropub is one of our best local breweries and a darn good restaurant to boot. With my great love for New Orleans comes excitement at Chef Ronnie New’s Southern-inspired brunch menu (he is from New Orleans, after all). Saturdays and Sundays there’s dishes Shrimp & Grits (made from the best, naturally: Anson Mills Grits), Crab Cake Benedict, even Pheasant Eggs & Toast. Magnolia’s best is still on offer, including their house-made sausages), excellent Chicken & Waffles, French Toast, and so on. So whether you prefer your brunch with Blue Bottle Coffee or Magnolia’s renowned suds (the sampler lets you try six), you know the morning after can be nearly as fun as the night before.
Saturdays and Sunday, 10am-2:30pm
1398 Haight Street
415-864-7468
www.magnoliapub.com

Editor’s Notes

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tredmond@sfbg.com

We were talking at dinner the other night about how — how? — Barack Obama, who is so good at communicating to the voters, who has a chief of staff with world-class political savvy and some of the best advisors in the business, who has from the start exuded this aura of competence … managed to get so badly rolled in the health-care debate.

One of my friends, who has a background in business and finance, suggested that the president could have gone to the Republicans with a grand deal — in exchange for accepting some major changes in the health-care system, including dings for big pharma and health insurance companies, the Democrats would accept tort reform in the medical malpractice arena, sticking it to their traditional friends the trial lawyers. A few national opinion columnists have suggested the same thing.

Then we heard the argument that Obama shouldn’t have let Congress set the terms of engagement, that he should have presented a specific plan of his own, or at least the basic outlines of a plan, and pushed for it. Or maybe he should have just accepted the fact that the Republicans would never go for anything he wanted and given up on bipartisanship from the start.

But all that misses an essential fact: there is still a climate of hostility toward government in this country, and the insurance industry is expert at using right-wing populist sentiment for its own political ends. Once the discussion was about the government deciding whether to kill grandma, the whole thing was in the shitter.

It didn’t have to be that way. Suppose Obama had started off by accepting that populist anger and then did what the likes of ol’ Huey Long used to do — turn it against not just the government, but big business? What if he’d started on day one saying that the issue wasn’t health care reform, it was insurance company reform, pointed directly to the villains here — the big, rich, Wall Street-backed New York insurance giants — and asked whether you wanted not bureaucrats but high-roller greedheads in fancy shoes deciding that grandma had to die?

Play the outsider here — Obama’s never had much dealing with the big insurance folks. Force the likes of Max Baucus (D-Mont.) into a corner. Make the plutocrats — and, yes, their captive Washington pawns — the target of that populist anger. It’s like his line on the banks — I don’t want to take them over, but the folks in charge have screwed up so badly that I have to.

Sun Tzu, the great Chinese general and philosopher, always said that the winner in a battle is not the one with the superior army, but the one who chooses the battlefield. Obama chose wrong here, and even all the power of the presidency and solid majorities in both houses might not be enough to turn it around.

Psychic Dream Astrology

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ARIES

March 21-April 19

Your wants and needs are getting all mixed up, and it’s making you defensive and awkward. Make room for your yearnings, even when they don’t seem to fit your identity. Don’t let attachments to how you think you should be stop you from being who you are.

TAURUS

April 20-May 20

The people in your life are working as unconscious teachers this week, so be ready to look deeply at what you’re supposed to be learning. Watch out for folks demonstrating both how to act and also how not to act in the pursuit of happiness. Let it reflect back to you what you’re doing that’s working or backfiring.

GEMINI

May 21-June 21

Speaking your truth is a righteous act, but ramming your truth down the throats of loved ones and/or passersby sucks. Stop thinking that others need to agree with you for all to be right in your world, Gem. You are worried, and it’s best not to overthink your fears. Find balance between your truth and the rest of your life.

CANCER

June 22-July 22

If you love a thing or person enough, it’s easy to get itchy and impulsive in your efforts to hold on to it or take things to the next level. Avoid pushing things ahead before their time. Instead, nurture things where they are. That way, they’ll organically grow to the next level — and you with it.

LEO

July 23-Aug. 22

Standing strong in the face of adversity is an awesome skill. Holding your own takes courage and allows you to become healthier. But sticking it out in shitty circumstances is not the same thing. Make sure you are doing your homework in healthy situations instead of trying to be healthy in a bath of bad vibes.

VIRGO

Aug. 23-Sept. 22

With Saturn, Venus, and Mercury all in your sign, and opposite rebel rousing Uranus, the heat is on. Your challenge is to be yourself, even as the self you know and others expect of you is changing before your eyes. Take full responsibility without rushing toward certainty. Allow time for growth into maturity.

LIBRA

Sept. 23-Oct. 22

You so desperately want to take things to the next level that you are trying to hack your Playstation and advance yourself beyond your capabilities. If you directed those smarts and creativity toward kicking ass at the game you’re playing, you wouldn’t need to become an evil genius at getting away with shit.

SCORPIO

Oct. 23-Nov. 21

Life is throwing too much at you, Intense One, and you are short-circuiting. The point of all of this stress is important to heed, because regardless of what you are dealing with, what is paramount is how you deal with it. Don’t evade or avoid your troubles. Take a much needed break to recharge, then get systematic on the solution.

SAGITTARIUS

Nov. 22-Dec. 21

You are moving through some deep terrain, Sag, and it is taxing work. Make sure that you refuel with some quality alone time, a deep tissue massage, or some other relaxation. Your life is poised to improve greatly as long as you take loving care of yourself along the way.

CAPRICORN

Dec. 22-Jan. 19

No matter where you are or who you’re with, Capricorn loathes vulnerable emotions of the sad and bad kind. How you process your emotions through the layers of your armor dictates how much you are able to relate to others when you need them most. Struggle toward flowing with your feelings instead of fixing them.

AQUARIUS

Jan. 20-Feb. 18

Your intuition is a gift that should be used with care. This is a perfect time for going with your gut, but the best way to have a gut worth trusting is by keeping it clean. Don’t confuse the time for introspection with passivity, because the best kind of action right now is internal. Tend to your tender parts before striking out.

PISCES

Feb. 19-March 20

Being open-hearted and all over the place is easy enough because you never have to stay with any one emotion for too long. Getting grounded and staying present can be more trying, even if everything is grand. Pay attention to where you begin and end in all your meaningful relationships. Take care of No. 1. *

Jessica Lanyadoo has been a psychic dreamer for 15 years. Check out her website at www.lovelanyadoo.com or contact her for an astrology or intuitive reading at (415) 336-8354 or dreamyastrology@gmail.com.

How an online newspaper can succeed

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EDITORIAL Dave Iverson, host of KQED’s Friday Forum show, introduced the Sept. 25 program with a pretty obvious comment: "Conversations about the future of journalism, and newspapers in particular, are rarely optimistic affairs." He went on to describe the new effort by Warren Hellman, KQED, and the UC Berkeley journalism school to create a new media outlet in San Francisco (a story that broke first in the Guardian‘s politics blog).

The guests, including Neil Henry, dean of the j-school; Carl Hall, the former San Francisco Chronicle reporter; and Jeff Clarke, president of KQED; talked in vague platitudes about the big new plans — and then spent much of the time defending and lauding the Chronicle, which one guest called "a great paper."

But that’s not how the callers saw it — and not how much of the Bay Area perceives San Francisco’s major daily newspaper. And therein is a critical lesson for the new journalistic effort.

For the record: we would hate to see the San Francisco Chronicle fail. A daily newspaper plays a crucial role in urban life, politics, and society. No number of part-time bloggers and citizen journalists will ever be able to perform the watchdog role of a fully-staffed newspaper.

And we welcome the new effort by Hellman and his crew. With the dramatic decline in the Chron‘s fortunes, there’s less and less coverage of crucial news in the city, and an aggressive new outlet could be very good news for San Francisco.

But the people who manage the new venture need to understand that the problems the Chronicle faces are not entirely due to the economy and changes in the newspaper business. Frankly, the Chron has consistently spurned, ignored, trivialized, and sought to discredit the entire progressive movement and a wide range of progressive issues. It’s been a conservative newspaper in one of the nation’s most liberal cities. It’s been a cautious publication, wary of serious challenges to the city’s power structure. There’s not a single liberal or progressive columnist at the paper. Opinion writers like C.W. Nevius seem to disdain everything about San Francisco and urban life in general. The political coverage tends to treat the left as something to be mocked. There’s no real labor reporting any more, no aggressive consumer reporting, little pursuit of big structural corruption issues.

It’s little wonder then that a significant percentage of San Franciscans (in particular, younger people) see no reason whatsoever to pick up the San Francisco Chronicle. And KQED (which gets big donations from some of the city’s biggest corporations and the social and political elite) is hardly the voice of young, progressive San Francisco. (Pacific Gas and Electric Co., for example, is one of the greatest corporate criminals in San Francisco history — and also a major KQED donor.)

As one local media observer told us, this new Web-based publication "can’t just be about getting the old band back together for another tour."

If a new online city newspaper is going to succeed, it’s going to have to take San Francisco — with all its diverse communities — seriously. It’s going to have to be willing to offend the big-business power structure. It’s going to need a strong, independent, editorial voice that includes, rather than marginalizes, the progressive point of view. And it’s going to have to attract writers who are interested in communicating to a generation that has abandoned the Chron.

That means Hellman and the gang have to hire a respected editor — and vow not to interfere if the stories and editorials don’t support the agendas of the members of the nonprofit board.

The nonprofit model is tricky for newspapers: foundations and big donors have their own interests, and they often want the organizations they bestow their largesse upon to behave in ways that are antithetical to good journalism. If this new group can make it work (and produce a locally- operated product — unlike the Chron, which is owned by Hearst Corporation in New York) we’re all for it. But a new model of journalism in San Francisco will require more than a new publishing technology. That’s going to be the hardest part.

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 30

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Alma Desnuda, Lady Danville, Davey G Project, Ilaya, Brett Hunter Café du Nord. 8pm, $10.

Little Junior Davis and the All-Star Blues Hounds Rasselas Jazz. 8pm, free.

Hamilton Loomis Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $15.

Hammerlock, Holley 750 Annie’s Social Club. 8pm, $7.

Ida Marie, Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head Fillmore. 8pm, $20. Hosted by Perez Hilton.

Mason Jennings, Crash Kings Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $20.

Mo’Fone, Brothers Goldman Boom Boom Room. 9:30pm, $5.

Publish the Quest, Radioactive Elbo Room. 9pm, $7.

Gil Scott-Heron, Ise Lyfe, Orgone Regency Ballroom. 9pm, $35.

Sermon, Blank Stares Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $7.

Sonos, Austin Hartley-Leonard Hotel Utahl. 9pm, $10.

Stripmall Architecture, Sweet Trip, Boy in Static Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $8.

Tell-Tale Heartbreakers, Green Lady Killers, Hooray for Everything Knockout. 10pm, $6.

Works Progress Administration, Molly Jenson Independent. 8pm, $15.

BAY AREA

Kylie Minogue Fox Theater. 8pm, $58.50-99.50.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

"B3 Wednesdays" Coda. 9pm, $7. With Nick Rossi Trio.

Cat’s Corner Savanna Jazz. 7pm, $5-10.

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

Swing With Stan Rite Spot, 2099 Folsom, SF; www.ritespotcafe.net. 8pm, free.

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

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

49 Special Climate Theater, 285 9th St., SF; (415) 704-3260. 8pm, $7-15 sliding scale. Part of the Music Box Series.

Soja, Kapakahi, Movement Slim’s. 9pm, $21.

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.

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 1

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Abe Vigoda, Psychic Reality, Mi Ami DJs Knockout. 9:30pm, $6.

David Bazan, Say Hi Independent. 8pm, $15.

Heather Combs, Aiden James, David Greco, Francesca Lee Hotel Utah. 7:30pm, $8.

Datarock, Esser, Kav Slim’s. 8:30pm, $16.

Glenn Labs, Mark Matos and Os Beaches, TV Mike and the Scarecrows Café du Nord. 9pm, $10.

Hot Fog, Private Dancer, Careerers Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $6.

Hot Toddies, Foxes!, Ian Fays, DJs from Your Latest Crush Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $10.

*Kylesa, Saviours, Bison BC, Kowloon Walled City DNA Lounge. 7pm, $15.

Maldroid, We Should Be Dead, Hooks Thee Parkside. 9pm, $7.

Mass Fiction, DoubleDouble, Dubious Ranger Grant and Green. 9pm, free.

Please Do Not Fight, Bird by Bird, Ghost and City, Finish Ticket Rickshaw Stop. 7:30pm, $10.

Boz Scaggs and the Blue Velvet Band Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $100. Benefit for the Richard de Lone Special Housing Fund.

Seconds on End Boom Boom Room. 9:30pm, $5.

Johnny Vernazza Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $15.

*Gillian Welch Fillmore. 8pm, $29.50.

BAY AREA

Kylie Minogue Fox Theater. 8pm, $58.50-99.50.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

Debashish Bhattacharya Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $15.

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

Laurent Fourgo Le Colonial, 20 Cosmo Place, SF; (415) 931-3600. 7:30pm, free.

"Full Moon Concert Series: Blood Moon" Luggage Store Gallery, 1007 Market, SF; www.luggagestoregallery.org. 8pm, $6-10. With James Kaiser and AC Way, and Past-Present-Future.

Lisa Lindsley and Walter Bankovitch Trio Shanghai 1930. 7pm, free.

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

Oz Noy Coda. 9pm, $15.

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

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Dark Hollow Band Atlas Café. 8pm, free.

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

Whisky Richards Maggie McGarry’s, 1353 Grant, SF; (415) 399-9020. 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.

Bingotopia Knockout. 7:30-9:30pm, free. Play for drinks, dignity, and dorky prizes with Lady Stacy Pants.

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

Club Jammies Edinburgh Castle. 10pm, free. DJs EBERrad and White Mice spinning reggae, punk, dub, and post punk.

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.

Holy Thursday Underground SF. 10pm, $5. Bay Area electronic hip hop producers showcase their cutting edge styles monthly.

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

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

Lacquer Beauty Bar. 10pm-2am, free. DJs Mario Muse and Miss Margo bring the electro.

LovEvolution Pre-Party Supperclub. Dinner 7-9:30pm, $55; afterparty 9pm, $10. Join the LovEvolution staff for dinner and performances at 7pm, or get down at the after party to some dance beats.

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

Mizra Party and Soul Movers Infusion Lounge. 9pm, free. Featuring DJ Cams.

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

Represent Icon Lounge. 10pm, $5. With Resident DJ Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist and guest. Rock Candy Stud. 9pm-2am, $5. Luscious Lucy Lipps hosts this electro-punk-pop party with music by ReXick.

Studio SF Triple Crown. 9pm, $5. Keeping the Disco vibe alive with authentic 70’s, 80’s, and current disco with DJs Peeplay, Pat Les Stache, and Marnacle.

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.

FRIDAY 2

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Armagideons, Eric McFadden, Hooks, Two Timin Hussies, Interchords Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $10. Seventh annual SF Joe Strummer Tribute and benefit for Strummerville.

Asobi Seksu, Loney, Dear, Anna Ternheim Slim’s. 9pm, $17.

L’Avventura, Music Lovers, Honneycombs Hotel Utah. 9pm, $6.

Chris Cain Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $20.

Clipd Beaks, Experimental Dental School Hemlock Tavern. 9:30pm, $6.

Dark Star Orchestra Fillmore. 9pm, $31.

Destroyer 666, Accused, Witchhaven, Wietus Mortuus, DJ Rob Metal Thee Parkside. 9pm, $15.

Digital Bliss, Return to Mono, Divasonic, Celeste Lear, Weather Pending 111 Minna. 9pm.

John Predny, Fleeting Trance, Andy Mason Retox Lounge. 9pm, $5.

Boz Scaggs and the Blue Velvet Band Great American Music Hall. 9pm, $100. Benefit for the Richard de Lone Special Housing Fund.

Tartufi, Geographer, Judgement Day Rickshaw Stop. 9pm, $10.

Tornado Rider, My Revolver, Stirling Says Red Devi Lounge. 9pm, $10.

Wicked Mercies, Hi-Nobles, I Love My Label Annie’s Social Club. 9pm.

Zony Mash, Horns Boom Boom Room. 10pm, $12.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

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

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

Broun Fellinis Coda. 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 Will Bernard/Beth Custer Ensemble.

Duo Gadjo Shanghai 1930. 7:30pm, free.

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

Lucid Lovers Rex Hotel, 562 Sutter, SF; (415) 433-4434. 6-8pm.

Plays Monk Red Poppy Art House. 8pm, $10-20.

Ramsey Lewis Trio Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8pm, $35.

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Christopher Dallman Dolores Park Café. 7pm, free.

*"Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 9" Speedway, Marx, and Lindley Meadows, Golden Gate Park, SF; www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com. 2-7pm, free. Today’s performers include MC Hammer, Fireants, Poor Man’s Whiskey, Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman, John Prine, and Lyle Lovett and His Large Band.

Jon Langford and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, Rosie Flores, Sadies, Sally Timms, Rico Bell Swedish American Hall (upstairs from Café du Nord). 7:30pm, $20.

Mild Colonial Boys Plough and Stars. 9pm, $5.

Montana Slim String Band, Bucky Walters, Innapropriaters Café du Nord. 9pm, $12.

Tin Cat, Apple Orange, Avi Vinocur, Grace Woods Red Vic, 1665 Haight, SF; (415) 864-1978. 7:15pm, $2.

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.

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.

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.

Jam on It Elbo Room. 10pm, $10. Hip-hop with host Z-Man and DJs Quest, Roy Two Thousand, Tyra from Saigon, and Lady Fingaz.

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

Lovesick Etiquette Lounge, 1108 Market, SF; (415) 863-3929. 9pm, $10. A pre-party for LovEvolution hosted by South Sound Collective featuring DJs DRC, Alland Byallo, Dizzy Dave and more.

Martinez Brothers Mighty. 10pm, $15. Get your dancing legs warmed up for Saturday’s LovEvolution parade and festival at this pre-party hosted by Pink Mammoth.

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

Oldies Night Knockout. 9pm, $2-4. DJs Primo, Daniel, and Lost Cat spin doo-wop, one-hit wonders, and soul.

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.

Tyrant Club 525. 7pm, $25. London DJ duo Lee Burridge and Craig Richards spin the Love at this LovEvolution festival pre-party.

Undead Wedding Cat Club. 9pm; $10, $3 for zombie brides and grooms. Featuring goth, industrial, and death rock music along with wedding ceremonies, cake, and photographers.

Upper Playground and Sonic Living Happy Hour Laszlo. 6-9pm, free. Resident DJs Amplive and Tourist with special guests. Drink specials and giveaways.

SATURDAY 3

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Bugs, Dadfag, Sad Horse Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $6.

Dark Star Orchestra Fillmore. 9pm, $31.

Fat Bottom Girls, Sassy, Yes Gos, Bloody Hells, Horror-X Annie’s Social Club. 9pm.

Horrors, Japanese Motors, Rocket Independent. 9pm, $20.

Love Songs, Ed Mudshi, Cobra Skulls, Airfix Kits El Rio. 10pm, $7.

Monophonix Deluxe Boom Boom Room. 10pm, $10.

Sunny Rhodes Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $20.

Schande, Who Cares, Belly of the Whale, Sleeptalks Thee Parkside. 9pm, $8.

Shinedown, Sick Puppies, Adelitas Way Regency Ballroom. 7pm, $30.

*Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, Pine Box Boys, Tiny Television Café du Nord. 9:30pm, $12.

Miike Snow, Jack Peñate, Loquat Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $10.

Stone Foxes, Soft White Sixties, Courtney Janes, Anna Troy, DJ Joel Selvin Hotel Utah. 8:30pm, $10.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

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

Ralph Carney and friends Rite Spot, 2099 Folsom, SF; www.ritespotcafe.net. 8pm, free.

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

Mads Tolling Trio Shanghai 1930. 7:30pm, free.

Ramsey Lewis Trio Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8pm, $35.

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

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Bluegrass Bonanza Plough and Stars. 9pm, $5.

Jordan Carp Caffe Trieste, 1667 Market, SF; (415) 551-1000. 8pm, free.

Danny Cohen, Jonah Kit, Magic! Magic Roses House of Shields. 9pm, $5.

Folk4Parks Rock-It Room. 8pm, $10. Help stop the impending closure of over 100 California State Parks at this benefit featuring Sioux City Kid and the Revolutionary Ramblers, Kristina Bennett, Better Maker, and more.

*"Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 9" Speedway, Marx, and Lindley Meadows, Golden Gate Park, SF; www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com. 11am-8pm, free. Today’s performers include Okkervil River, Boz Scaggs and the Blue Velvet Band, Old 97s, Steve Earle and the Bluegrass Dukes, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives, Richie Havens, and many more.

Belle Monroe and Her Brewglass Boys, Shut-Ins, Gayle Lynn and Her Hired Hands Plough and Stars. 9pm, $10.

Pladdohg Ireland’s 32. 9pm.

DANCE CLUBS

BADNB Lovelution Afterparty Club Six. 9pm, $15. Featuring three stages of drum and bass with DJs KJ Sawka, Gridlok, Bachelors of Science, Method One, Maneesh the Twister, and more.

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

Debaser Knockout. 9pm, $5. Wear a flannel, get in free before 11pm to this 90s alternative dance party with DJs Jamie Jams and Emdee.

Everlasting Bass 330 Ritch. 10pm, $5-10. Bay Area Sistah Sound presents this party, with DJs Zita and Pam the Funkstress spinning hip-hop, soul, funk, reggae, dancehall, and club classics.

Fire Corner Koko Cocktails, 1060 Geary; 885-4788. 9:30pm, free. Rare and outrageous ska, rocksteady, and reggae vinyl with Revival Sound System and guests.

Gemini Disco Underground SF. 10pm, $5. Disco with DJ Derrick Love.

Get Loose! Beauty Bar. 10pm, free. With DJ White Mike spinning dance jams.

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.

Leisure Paradise Lounge. 10pm, $7. DJs Omar, Aaron, and Jet Set James spinning classic britpop, mod, 60s soul, and 90s indie.

LovEvolution Parade starts at Market and 2nd St. and ends at Civic Center Plaza for a dance music festival, SF; www.sflovevolution.org. Parade starts at noon, free; festival from noon-8pm, $10. Featuring a diverse and extensive line up of dance music DJs.

Rebel Girl Rickshaw Stop. 10pm, $5. "Electroindierockhiphop" and 80s dance party for dykes, bois, femmes, and queers with DJ China G and guests.

Saturday Night Soul Party Elbo Room. 10pm, $10. DJs Lucky, Phengren Oswald, and Paul Paul spin 60s soul on 45s.

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.

SUNDAY 4

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Blakes, Music for Animals, Lucky Jesus Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $10.

Trevor Childs and the Beholders, Echo Falls, Cyndi Harvell Café du Nord. 8pm, $10.

Dark Star Orchestra Fillmore. 8pm, $31.

*John Doe, Sadies, Brothers Comatose Annie’s Social Club. 8pm, $12.

Jolie Holland, Michael Hurley Independent. 8pm, $20.

Dr. MoJo Boom Boom Room. 9:30pm, free.

Lloyd Gregory Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $15.

Liquid Indian, Mujaheddin Bernstein Affair, North Fork, White Pee Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $6.

New Model Army, Salty Walt and the Rattlin’ Ratlines DNA Lounge. 7:30pm, $12.

Soulfly, Prong, Cattle Decapitation Regency Ballroom. 7pm, $24.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

"Contemporary Insights: Music and Conversation" ODC Dance Commons, 351 Shotwell, SF; www.sfcmp.org. 4:30pm, $5-10. Performance and discussion of John Harris’ "The Seven Ages."

Imani Winds with Stefon Harris Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, SF; www.performances.org. 7pm, $27-39.

Mr. Lucky, Ramshackle Romeos Rite Spot, 2099 Folsom, SF; www.ritespotcafe.net. 8pm, free.

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

Ramsey Lewis Trio Yoshi’s San Francisco. 7pm, $35.

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

*"Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 9" Speedway, Marx, and Lindley Meadows, Golden Gate Park, SF; www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com. 11am-8pm, free. Today’s performers include Billy Bragg, Chieftains, Old Crow Medicine Show, Marianne Faithfull, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Earl Scruggs, Hazel Dickens, Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3, Mavis Staples, Neko Case, Dr. Dog, and many more.

Mucho Axé Coda. 8pm, $7.

Quin and friends Plough and Stars. 9pm free.

DANCE CLUBS

Body and Soul Mighty. 8pm, $25. A nonstop dance fest featuring DJs Francois K, Joaquin "Joe" Claussell, and Danny Krivit.

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

Dub Mission Elbo Room. 9pm, $6. Dub, roots, and classic dancehall with DJ Sep, Maneesh the Twister, and Vinnie Esparza.

5 O’Clock Jive Inside Live Art Gallery, 151 Potrero, SF; (415) 305-8242. 5pm, $5. A weekly swing dance party.

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.

Shuckin’ and Jivin’ Knockout. 10pm, free. DJs Dr. Scott and Oran spin rock, doo-wop, jive, stomp, and more on 78rpm records.

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

MONDAY 5

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Billy Bragg Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $30.

*God Dethroned, Abigail Williams, Woe of Tyrants, Augury, DJ Rob Metal Thee Parkside. 8pm, $15.

Fever Ray, Vuk Regency Ballroom. 8pm, $30.

*Motorhead, Reverend Horton Heat, Nashville Pussy Warfield. 8pm, $38.

Serious Bees, Ms Cloud Hemlock Tavern. 7pm, $5.

69 Eyes, Dommin, Becoming Bottom of the Hill. 8:30pm, $17.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

"From the Top" Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, SF; www.sfcmp.org. 8pm, $10-28. San Francisco Contemporary Music Players present five pieces by American composers Harbison, Reich, Wuorinen, Feldman, and Campion.

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

Project, Classical Revolution Café du Nord. 8pm, $12.

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8pm, $14.

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!

Dubstep/DNB Underground SF. 9pm, $5. With DJs Tromaone, Qzen, Rastatronics, and more.

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.

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 6

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Chris Ayer, Steph Johnson Hotel Utah. 8pm, $10.

Bane, Trash Talk, Foundation, Grace Alley Thee Parkside. 8pm, $12.

Billy Bragg Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $30.

Busdriver, Themselves, Nocando Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $12.

Cave Singers, Lightning Dust Independent. 8pm, $14.

Elm, Higuma, New Red Sun Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $6.

Fat Tuesday Band Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $15.

School of Seven Bells, Warpaint, Phantogram Slim’s. 8pm, $15.

Stratovarius, Pagans Mind Regency Ballroom. 8pm, $30.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

Dave Parker Quintet Rasselas Jazz. 8pm.

"Jazz Mafia Tuesdays" Coda. 9pm, $7. With Joe Bagale.

Kaweh Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8pm, $22.

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

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Suzanne Cronin and friends Plough and Stars. 9pm, free.

Gema, Terroritmo Elbo Room. 9pm, $7.

Tim Holt West Portal Library, 190 Lenox, SF; (415) 355-2886. 6:30pm, free. A performance of American history through folk songs.

Tina Dico Café du Nord. 8:30pm, $15.

DANCE CLUBS

DJ Ism Boom Boom Room. 9:30pm, free.

Drunken Monkey Annie’s Social Club. 9pm, free. Rotating DJs and shot specials.

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

La Escuelita Pisco Lounge, 1817 Market, SF; (415) 874-9951. 7pm, free. DJ Juan Data spinning gay-friendly, Latino sing-alongs but no salsa or reggaeton.

Mixology Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, 133 Turk, (415) 441-2922. 10pm, $2. DJ Frantik mixes with the science and art of music all night.

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.