Volume 44 Number 01-

October 7 – October 13, 2009

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Volume 44 Number 1 Flip-through Edition

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Seamy dreams

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arts@sfbg.com

Sex and violence are old bedfellows in art cinema. A line can be drawn from the sliced eyeball in Un Chien Andalou (1929) through A Clockwork Orange (1971), Bonnie and Clyde (1967), and David Cronenberg’s earlier films, right up to Charlotte Gainsbourg’s clitoridectomy in Lars von Trier’s latest provocation Antichrist. The quickest way to expose the hypocrisies of bourgeois morality still seems to be the willful conflation and graphic depiction of bodily harm and bodily pleasure.

The late ’60s and early ’70s films of Koji Wakamatsu — showcased in Yerba Bunea Center for the Arts’ thrilling retrospective, "Pink Cinema Revolution" — present a fascinating case for the political uses of gratuity. Extremely low-budget, alternately frenetic and plodding, frontloaded with sexualized violence, grizzly killings, S&M and rape, and pulsing with the radical politics of their era, Wakamatsu’s films are disturbing, messy, and electric. When, by a fluke, Secrets Behind the Wall (1965) got past Japan’s film rating board and screened at the Berlin International Film Festival that year, the audience couldn’t have prepared themselves for the sight of a stifled housewife hungrily licking the keloid scars of her lover, a Hiroshima survivor.

Although he was a contemporary of Seijun Suzuki, Shohei Imamura, and Nagisa Oshima, Wakamatsu doesn’t slot so easily into the cannon of the nuberu bagu, Japan’s response to the cinematic new waves churning across Europe at the time (noted Japanese film scholar Donald Richie still contends that Wakamatsu "makes embarrassing soft-core psychodramas"). A farmer’s son who had worked odd construction jobs and served time before ever stepping behind a camera, Wakamatsu fell into filmmaking without the formal training or academic background held by many of his peers. Hired by Nikkatsu in 1963, he quickly started churning out pinku eiga or "pink films," the highly profitable genre of soft-core quickies that often displayed wild creativity in the face of a the (still-standing) taboo against onscreen genital realism.

Wakamatsu eventually quit Nikkatsu (after the studio, fearing government action, gave the potential embarrassment Secrets a low-profile domestic release despite the acclaim it received in Berlin) and formed his own studio, Wakamatsu Pro, using the pink film industry mainly as a distribution network for his increasingly extreme experiments, which could barely be described as "soft-core." In Violent Virgin (1969), men and women brutally subject a young couple to all manner of sexual degradations, resulting in the woman’s crucifixion; Violated Angels (1967), based on Richard Speck’s 1966 killing spree, ends with the killer surrounded by a bloody rosette of his flayed victims; Go, Go Second Time Virgin (1969) follows the strange, nihilistic love that develops between two abused teenagers.

Paralleling the growing output of Wakamatsu Pro was the off-screen rise of the radical left wing and student movements. Extremist political groups like the Red Army Faction, and the closely related Japanese Red Army and United Red Army (whose twisted genealogy and downfall Wakamatsu follows in his most recent feature United Red Army (2007), which closes out the series), held the Japanese government accountable for aiding and abetting the U.S. in Vietman and demanded a complete overhaul of the standing social and political structure by any means necessary.

While one can see in the radical assaults on the status quo of sexual relations, filmmaking, and normative citizenship staged in Wakamatsu’s films as being in concert with the rhetoric of the extreme political left, he was not above pointing out its ridiculousness as well. More often than not, the leftists in Wakamatsu films are a confused bunch whose political motives are frequently (and humorously) cross-wired to their libidinal impulses. In Ecstasy of the Angels (1970) the hormonal militants (named, perhaps in a nod to G.K. Chesterton’s anarchist satire The Man Who Would be Thursday, after the days of the week) spout secret code meaningless even to them in between having sex at the drop of a hat.

A fitting close to the series, United Red Army finds Wakamatsu taking a sober look back over the era that fuelled his most prolific years as a filmmaker, accounting for both the revolutionary promises and grim dissolution of Japan’s student protest movement. Combining documentary footage with staged reenactments, United Red Army is a stylistic 360 from Wakamatsu’s earlier work. The grueling, three-hour history lesson spares no detail in documenting the titular faction’s descent from idealism into the sadistic purging of its own members to its highly publicized last stand at a mountain ski resort.

Much like Uli Edel’s The Baader Meinhof Complex, another recent film that examines ’60s political terrorism, United Red Army is difficult to watch because of the factual nature of its exposition and its refusal to judge, even when depicting the URA’s darkest hours. It’s a surprisingly objective coda to the wild, dark films that precede it in "Pink Cinema Revolution," which are as much documents as products of their time. As Jasper Sharp writes in his recent survey of pink cinema, Behind the Pink Curtain, Wakamatsu’s films are, "not only visual testimonies to an era of new sexual frankness and a deep uncertainty in which oblivion seemed to lurk around the corner," but they also offer, in retrospect, prescient glimpses of the underlying forces that would propel the radical left to its own dissolution.


"Pink Cinema Revolution: The Radical Films of Koji Wakamatsu"

Oct 8-29, $8

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, SF
(415) 978-2787, www.ybca.org

Domestic disturbances

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM "Some of our most exquisite murders have been domestic, performed with tenderness in simple, homey places like the kitchen table," Alfred Hitchcock observed.

While Hitch was the doyen of everyday suspense — capturing the foreboding whistle of a boiling kettle or the pendulous noose formed by a necktie — his vision of the violent-domestic was hardly singular. This year’s Mill Valley Film Festival showcases two very different films dedicated to exploring the tenuous relationship between crime and the domestic front, in all its various incarnations.

In Noah Buschel’s traveling noir homage The Missing Person, a case of domestic subterfuge becomes a laconic meditation on loneliness and absolution in the post-9/11 New York City. Starring Michael Shannon (2008’s Revolutionary Road) as gin-soaked private investigator John Rosow, The Missing Person begins with the classic tropes of the Philip Marlowe feuilleton — a mysterious caller, aided by an attractive secretary (Amy Ryan), offers the down-and-out PI a sum of money to follow a unnamed man on a LA-bound express train from Chicago. The surly and self-deprecating Rosow immediately takes the case, though it appears his decision is motivated as much by boredom and a nasty hangover than by lucre. From a nearby compartment, Rosow surveils the very innocuous-looking mark who travels with a young, Hispanic child. Presuming the worst, the PI puts two and two together and speculates that he’s been hired to tail a serial pedophile. However, the story is much more complicated than it initially appears: a family has indeed been torn apart but it is not the one Rosow suspects.

While the meticulous narrative of Buschel’s film takes the de rigeur twists and turns of classic noir, The Missing Person‘s plot is, by and large, immaterial to its penetrating meditation on person and place. Despite his chronic dipsomania, Rosow is charming and witty, spinning slangy argot, gruff one-liners and double entendres around every chance encounter, as if he were some hybrid of Mike Hammer and Noël Coward. "I’m in the hide and seek business," he responds to a potential female conquest when asked of his profession. "That’s a game that kids play," she continues. "Well, if you add some money to it, it’s for adults," he shoots back. "Well, what are you doing – hiding or seeking?" she asks. "I’m drinking," Rosow concludes, finishing off his highball.

But Buschel is careful not to inundate his audience with a wisecracking "talkie;" rather he seduces them with long, silky strands of West Coast jazz — all saxophones and tinkling piano — as Rosow crisscrosses the parched sands outlying Los Angeles, lurches into an anonymous motel room in a drunken stupor, or fantasizes (in the rich cobalt shades of a Blue Note album cover) of a wife and life he left long ago. In other moments, Shannon’s ungainly frame and wall-eyed gaze dominates the frame, reacting and reflecting upon the sadness that appears to pervade his postlapsarian, cloak and dagger world.

If one is tempted to pronounce The Missing Person a unique and innovative form of filmmaking, it is because such deliberate care taken in the details: its soundtrack, cinematography and mise-en-scene are rarities in the slick, post-80s crime drama. Filmed on 16mm and bleached of the sharp hues common to contemporary cinema, the colors and textures of Ryan Samul’s cinematography have the odd, anachronistic feel of mid-70s neo-noir. The Conversation (1974), Chinatown (1974), and The Long Goodbye (1973) come to mind. All the more remarkable is The Missing Person‘s pastiche of cinematic influences in that they mingle seamlessly with images and stories of Manhattan, post-9/11, as the secret of Rosow’s mark is unearthed. When the hallowed spotlights of the WTC memorial appear at the film’s conclusion, they have the painterly senescence of a dog-eared comic book.

If Raymond Chandler bestows the focal literary references for Buschel’s opus, then Agatha Christie is the materfamilias of Larry Blamire’s "old dark house" spoof, Dark and Stormy Night. As Christie once quipped of her metier to a Life reporter, "I specialize in murders of quiet, domestic interest," and that is precisely what screwball director Blamire has in mind in this country-estate, will-reading-ensemble gone amok. Comprised of Bantam Street Film’s stock company, most of whom starred in Blamire’s previous Hollywood send-ups (including 2001’s The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra and 2007’s Trail of the Screaming Forehead), Dark and Stormy Night recreates every riff, trope, and motif of the late 30s genre — from the exterior miniatures to the canned special effects — all situated in a lavishly decorated and seemingly haunted house, replete with winding floor plan and secret passages.

A disparate crew of hopefuls have assembled at said estate to hear the pecuniary bequests of the late Sinas Cavinder during a particularly ominous evening, as the title promises. Among the crowd are competing reporters Eight O’Clock Farraday (Daniel Roebuck) and Billy Tuesday (Jennifer Blaire) hoping to land a hot scoop; demure ingenue Sabasha Fanmoore (Fay Masterson); brooding nephew Burling Famish, Jr. (Brian Howe) and his unfaithful wife, Pristy (Christine Romeo); the very Yiddish psychic Mrs. Cupcupboard (Alison Martin); the epigramming dandy Lord Partfine (Andrew Parks); and the hilariously-christened butler, Jeens (Bruce French).

As might be expected, a serious hitch in the evening arises when the secret addendum to Cavinder’s will is stolen and bodies begin piling up following the requisite "lights out" interlude. Unfortunately, a centuries-old phantom, the ghost of a dead witch, and an escaped maniac are all on the loose and vying for blood … and the only bridge off the estate has been washed away by the storm. So, whodunnit? The answer is not nearly as entertaining as the long night of sight gags, double-takes, screwball repartee, and an inexplicable, wandering gorilla Kogar (played by legendary prop master and gorilla-suit regular Bob Burns). Shot in HD with enough digital plug-ins to simulate RKO-era film stock, Dark and Stormy Night is as much a loving homage as parody. Late-night B-movie fans and nostalgics will enjoy just how light this "dark" comedy can be.


Mill Valley Film Festival

Oct 8-18, most shows $12.50

Various North Bay venues
1-877-874-MVFF, www.mvff.com

Half and half

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le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS At a pretty good restaurant in a small town, other side of the mountains, we were greeted and seated by a small boy, age 9, 10, 11 tops. We looked at each other, looked at the kid, looked at each other, shrugged, and followed him to our table.

"Can I get you anything to drink?" he said.

We had just emerged from Death Valley, where the heat was intense and the scenery surreal, and milk was the last thing on our minds.

"Um, what kind of lemonades do you have?" I said, scanning the menu very quickly. It was an inside joke between me and me — one of my specialties.

Romeo ordered a beer. He lives in Germany, and his favorite brew is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Well, we were doing it. Setting up camp together, if not house. After a few days of cooking on fires, sleeping in tents, squatting in the bushes, and not washing at all, Romeo said he felt like he had got to meet Dan Leone. He said he liked him OK, but maybe we should get a motel room for one night.

I agreed. It was weird to be cut in half like that and, though I have never been one to run from weirdness, I do prefer speaking of myself in the first person. A bath seemed like a very good idea.

A bath, a pluck, a night of mattressousness, change of clothes in the morning, and I would be myself again. But first, while I was still Dan Leone, I had to order a buffalo burger with bacon, cheese, barbecue sauce, and chili on it, because … I mean, come on, were we or were we not a couple of smelly cowboygirls just in from a roundup?

Of course we were. The more interesting question is what was the fuck re: the fourth- or fifth-grade waitchild. Sixth-grade tops. Do we have child labor laws here? My German wanted to know. I think so, I thought, but maybe they don’t apply to family-run restaurants in tiny middle-of-nowhere towns. Clearly that was what this was, a family. There was a strong resemblance between the kid, a slightly older kid also waiting tables, a slightly-older-than-that kid, and the cat in charge, their father, who seemed too young to have three kids, including at least one teenager, so maybe he was the oldest brother, I don’t know.

Anyway, it was a school night.

And I still can’t decide if the whole thing was cute or creepy, so I’ll just tell you that the burger was great. Even though it may well be mean, unfair, and irresponsible of me to tell you so, according to a whole pile of e-style mail waiting for me upon my return to civilization.

Apparently a popular restaurant that I slagged a couple weeks ago is run by a positive force in the community, and so therefore I shouldn’t say anything bad about their carne asada. Which sucked. But most of the people who called for my resignation, apologies, do-overs, and so forth, admitted that they were vegetarians, and so presumably have never had the carne asada (which sucks) at their favorite restaurant.

Really, I doubt I’ll like the vegetarian food there either, because the rice and beans didn’t impress me and the salsa was even worse than the meat, but I am nothing if not a good sport. I will re-review the Sunrise, and I will order something vegetarian this time, provided one of the vegetarians calling for my head/job/apology agrees to a) pay for it, and b) sit across from me and eat carne asada.

You’ll get your do-over, and I’ll get to watch a vegetarian eat meat. Which is one of my favorite pastimes.

Just so you know though: I’ll say exactly what I think about anything I eat, I don’t care if Jesus Hisself runs the joint. I calls ’em like I tastes ’em, and if I don’t like His bread and wine, or carne asada …

Oh, but I did like that buffalo burger, very much. What a shame, that a child labor law scofflaw and/or mean dad can be a better cook than a sweetie-pie.

Cruel world!

MOUNT WHITNEY RESTAURANT

Daily: 6 a.m.–9 p.m.

227 S. Main, Lone Pine

(760) 876-5751

Beer & wine

MC/V

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

Tickling 2.0

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andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea:

It was very interesting to me that you wrote about tickling last week ["Ticklish allsorts," 09/30/09]. I actually had that experience as a kid, being tickled by an uncle (actually he was my father’s cousin, but same thing) and not being able to get him to stop. Nobody thought it was a problem except me, so he did it for years, until I was about 10. Nobody should do that to a kid! It made feel helpless because I was helpless. Yuck. Also, nobody else thought it was a big deal so I felt embarrassed for crying about it. I still feel horrible thinking about it, and I’m 40.

Love,

Don’t Tickle Me!

Dear Don’t:

I’m so sorry! Both that that happened to you, and that I brought up bad memories for you through the column. How very useful of you though, to write in about it and bolster my argument that tickling kids can be, and often is, abusive in a particularly insidious semi-sexual manner, which not only causes pain but shame and makes it hard to talk about.

I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this before, and I’ve certainly talked about it, but it came up for me again recently through some very raw online discussions with women who were abused as kids by stepfathers or family members. Some actually were tickled, specifically, but all spoke about trying to distance themselves from unwanted attention and being told that Uncle So-and-So was just being friendly and why won’t you sit on his lap or let him wrestle with you or whatever. Don’t be such a spoilsport!

It isn’t only the abuse that causes damage, but not being believed and/or protected by the people whose job it is to keep you safe can cause just as much scarring.

One thing that came out of these discussions, for me, was a keener awareness of our duty to let kids develop their own boundaries. And no, it isn’t altogether a matter of "bad touches" and "don’t talk to strangers." Children naturally have a pretty good sense of what is and isn’t OK to do to them. They come with a certain amount of radar-for-weirdness already installed. We can, however, damage our kids’ creep-dar by laughing off their objections. If your kid really doesn’t want that person kissing her, even if it’s your harmless old Great-Aunt Enid, don’t force it. You don’t want to get her in the habit of thinking other people know better than she does about who gets access to her body.

OK, all this seems a bit heavy and dire and over-reactionish when we were just talking about something as inconsequential as tickling. Except, obviously, it isn’t. Just because something makes you laugh doesn’t mean it’s funny.

I was leery of Gavin de Becker’s much-touted books The Gift Of Fear and Protecting The Gift," which I’d heard about for years and distrusted because the author shows up too often on daytime talk shows and seems a bit self-impressed. I finally read the first one a few years ago, though, after enough friends recommended it, and here I go, passing on the recommendation. Of course I can sum up his stuff in 50 words or less (trust your instincts; don’t be afraid to be rude, watch out for people who try to manipulate or embarrass you into "being nice" to them, teach children that no adult needs their help finding a lost puppy), but that’s always the case with "here’s a problem and here’s my patented solution system" books, even the one I hope to write one of these days. No excuse not to buy them and read them carefully!

Love,

Andrea

Dear Andrea:

I like to tickle women too! Don’t you think you came down on that guy a little harshly in your column? Not everyone who does a little tickling is a sadistic bastard!

Love,

Don’t Slander Me!

Dear Slan:

True, but enough are that I thought I’d take the opportunity to wave my robot arms around and go "Warning! Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!" It’s not like ticklers write in so often that we’ve done this one to death here, like the guys who want to try a threesome or something.

I must have pointed out already that what makes tickling special is that, unlike other pain-delivery techniques, it also causes laughter, and laughter is easily laughed off. I don’t care what you do as long as you stop when your victim or "victim" begs for mercy. That’s it. I do realize, of course, that willing and unwilling recipients are going to sound pretty much the same ("Stop! No, no! Please stop!"), but what are safe-words for, if not to allow one the leisure to beg for mercy and not be granted any unless one wants it? Promise me you use one and I’ll grant you absolution.

I just wish little kids got to have safe-words too. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Love,

Andrea

See Andrea’s other column at carnalnation.com.

Off-duty trip

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC Gina Birch, discussing a Raincoats gig earlier this month at the National Portrait Gallery in London, pauses for a moment over the phone from home in England. Although the resurgence of interest in her band’s music began well over a decade ago, she still sounds a bit surprised at the Raincoats’ esteemed status in the rock lexicon today.

"We’re being more embraced by the cultural elite, which is quite funny, really, " Birch explains, humbly. "It’s just at that point where the people who liked us when they were young are in positions to offer us this kind of thing." The Raincoats, it should be said, just plain deserve acclaim anew. Birch started the band with Ana da Silva in 1977 while they were art students in London — a daring lark that still resonates deeply with sounds you hear today, as evidenced by the line-up they’re headlining at the Part Time Punks Mini-Fest.

It’s an admittedly nerdy delight to hear Birch talk about punk’s early days in London. In addition to bands like the Buzzcocks and Subway Sect, she says that she and guitarist-singer da Silva were inspired by the Slits, whose original guitarist, Viv Albertine, will be joining the Raincoats at the Part Time Punks show. "It was definitely seeing other girls doing it that made me feel like I could give it a go," she explains. Seeing such bands, she says, "gave me the courage to wear the clothes I wanted to wear, chop up my hair … feeling like I could let rip a little bit!" The Slits’ drummer, Palmolive, would join da Silva and Birch — who sang and learned bass as she went along — in the Raincoats’ original lineup, along with violinist Vicky Aspinall. The band put out a few albums with Rough Trade before initially dissolving in 1984.

Since the Raincoats’ original break-up, they’ve reunited sporadically, recording an album (1996’s Looking in the Shadows, on DGC) and playing the occasional show, all the while being sure to "leave a little room for mistakes," because, says Birch, "it’s much more manageable!" Their current live lineup features violinist Anne Wood, who’s been with them for 15 years, and local drummer Vice Cooler, known to many in the Bay Area for Hawnay Troof and his work in xbxrx and KIT.

The Raincoats are playing here in support of a stateside LP reissue of their 1979 self-titled debut, out Oct. 13 on Kill Rock Stars. Although the group is perhaps best known for its debut single, "Fairytale in the Supermarket" and their cover of the Kinks’ "Lola," every one of the Raincoats’ recordings sounds fresh — inviting but often dark, alternately vulnerable and indignant, hopeful and deeply human. The pastel pink, green, and yellow sleeve of their "No One’s Little Girl" b/w "Running Away" 7-inch (Rough Trade, 1982) caught my eye at a record fair in England a few years ago, and it’s easily one of the best records I own, especially because of its B-side: a sweet, trumpet-punctuated cover of Sly Stone — totally unreal, and just one side of their multifarious brilliance.

Both da Silva and Birch have solo projects these days, and Birch, a longtime filmmaker, is working on a feature-length Raincoats documentary due out next year, featuring loads of old footage and a look at their more recent endeavors. More reissues are on the way as well, Birch assures, as they continue to forge ahead on "the fringes."

"I find it much more inspiring and interesting and heartwarming in the world where it’s more human and strange," Birch says. "There’ll always be the fringes, and long live the fringes! That’s where interesting stuff happens."

This brings us to Grass Widow, local openers on the Part Time Punks bill, who embody much of what makes the Raincoats so extraordinary: rooted in raw punk and peculiar, intricate harmonies, they produce songs vivid enough to summon a visual counterpart. "Our music crosses over into the subject matter I end up making films about," says bassist Hannah Lew. During a recent meet-up, Lew articulated the group’s excitement about playing with the Raincoats by stating that even if they weren’t playing the show, "we would go anyway." This year, Grass Widow released a self-titled LP (Make a Mess) and a 12-inch EP (Captured Tracks/Cape Shok). In January, they’re headed to Portland, Ore., to record another album. Get there early to see them.

PART TIME PUNKS PRESENTS THE RAINCOATS

With Grass Widow, Section 25, Gang of Four DJ set, and more

Fri/9, 8 p.m., $20–$25

Mezzanine

444 Jessie, SF

(415) 625-8880

www.mezzaninesf.com

City spanks Power Exchange

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news@sfbg.com

"Power Exchange is currently closed due to unfair Fire Department restrictions," states the message on the telephone answering machine of the embattled sex club, which plans to open — and possibly reignite its battle with neighbors and city officials — as soon as this weekend, Oct. 11.

Owner Michael Powers had hoped to open Oct. 2 after being shut down for alleged Fire Code violations on Sept. 18, shortly after opening for business in its new home at 34 Mason St. in the Tenderloin. But things are taking longer than Powers expected after he failed another city inspection Oct. 1. The seemingly endless paperwork from the various city agencies and the bewildering bureaucratic process are causing Powers to lose money — and patience — with each passing weekend.

Power Exchange isn’t just a venerable sex club, it’s a popular gathering place for the transgender and BDSM communities and a hub for unfettered sexual fun of all types, drawing customers from all over the Bay Area. Yet along with its strong following, the club has garnered significant opposition that recently forced its closure.

For 13 years, business boomed at the previous location at 74 Otis St. But Powers’ landlord and business partner went into bankruptcy, so Powers tried to reopen on Gough Street. But the Brady Street Neighborhood Coalition mobilized an opposition campaign with flyers and phone calls and the lease was terminated. Powers says the closure wasn’t because of the neighbors, but because the area had undergone a zoning change, making it difficult to acquire necessary permits.

So Powers found the location at 34 Mason and claims he was told by the Planning Department that it had previously housed Crash nightclub with an assembly permit already in place, and that no conditional use permit hearings were required. As far as he knew, Power Exchange was good to go.

Then the San Francisco Chronicle starting agitating against Power Exchange, quoting opponents and linking the club’s opening to incidents at the Pink Diamond nightclub and Grand Liquor, two Tenderloin businesses plagued with violence and liquor license issues. In the Sept. 12 article, "Backlash Against Sex Club in Tenderloin," news columnist C.W. Nevius wrote, "The club’s workers just moved in, opened for business, and apparently assumed that no one would say a word. They are in for a surprise."

Yet a subsequent news article ("Sex Club’s Presence Raises Concern," Sept. 17) cited zoning administrator Lawrence Badiner from the Planning Department and Department of Public Health spokesperson Jim Soos as indicating Power Exchange was a legal use for the site. "Even though the club operates from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., it does not need an after-hours permit or a public hearing before the Entertainment Commission, nor does it need a permit from the health department because it does not sell food or alcohol or operate whirlpool tubs," reporter Meredith May wrote, although she indicated that city officials were looking for ways to heed the concerns of some neighbors and stop the club from opening.

Powers was preparing to open when he was told that the building did not, in fact, have a permit for assembly. Fire Department spokesperson Mindy Talmage claims, "Crash never obtained a permit to operate. Nothing. So they were in there illegally."

Fire Department inspector Kathy Harold met with Powers in early August and gave him a list of improvements to acquire the proper permit. He completed all but two, and had a work order for the remaining items. Harold told Powers they could issue a conditional use permit, allowing him to open.

Powers eagerly awaited Harold’s follow-up visit on Sept. 16 when she was to issue the conditional use permit. But Harold was, unexpectedly, joined by inspector Donal Duffy from the Building Department. Instead of a conditional use permit, Powers was issued a "cease all operations" citation.

"Apparently the Building Department had an issue with Powers. They never called to say they did everything on the list. Normally we could issue them a conditional public assembly permit. However, the Building Department issued a cease operations permit, and they supercede us. We can’t overrule that," Talmage said. So the party was over before it had much of a chance to begin.

A frustrated Powers went ahead and opened Sept. 18, but city officials showed up to shut it down. He’s convinced that this is about more than a few building improvements or filing a change of use document for the appropriate permit. "It’s not about whether that building is safe. It’s safe as safe can be right now," he claims.

Tenderloin Station Police Capt. Gary Jimenez disagrees. "We want to prevent them from opening up because the location is dangerous. It’s a fire hazard, we’re not sure the sprinkler system is hooked up, and they don’t have an occupancy permit from the Fire Department. Nor will they be able to get one until they clear the building inspector violations."

Yet city officials seemed OK with the club until neighbors and the Chronicle turned up the heat.

"The feeling most residents have is that they’re already dealing with significant crime and quality of life issues. This is the last thing that they wanted to move into this largely residential neighborhood," says Daniel Hurtado, executive director of the Central Market Community Benefit District.

Patrons say the discreet club has gotten a bum rap. "Power Exchange has always had good security, a good relationship with its neighbors and customers, an open-door policy on concerns, and a sense of giving back to the community," Dori, a longtime Power Exchange patron, told us.

Powers, who ran for mayor in 2007, remains defiant: "Currently I look like I’m closed down because I’m defying the law. The reality? You’re not going to prohibit me from being open because of paperwork. If I need to file a new document, fine. Let’s move on."

But after failing to get the green light during an Oct. 1 inspection, Powers is feeling frustrated. "The Planning Department, again, is doing their hocus-pocus over their interpretation of the business. If you’re going to say we’re not restrained from going in there, what does it matter what type of business we are? If Badiner would just say we’re not prohibiting them from opening, the Fire Department will let us kick the doors open."

Devoted patrons of Power Exchange echo this frustration. "We all want a safe club and appreciate the need for inspections related to safety and expect the city to work quickly and fairly with the PE to remedy any safety issues so it may reopen for business soon for me and the whole community," Robin said.

Powers describes his "complete and utter frustration with the finger pointing of the different bureaucracies" as maddening. But the ball is rolling. When they do reopen, it remains to be seen if residents of San Francisco — known to be open-minded and accepting — will allow Powers to just settle in. For now, neighborhood groups wait with watchful eyes as Power Exchange patrons prepare to play once again.

After the peak

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news@sfbg.com

To prepare for the inevitable decline in fossil fuel production, San Francisco’s Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force (see "Running on Empty," 1/30/08) has concluded the city needs to rapidly implement the community choice aggregation and its related renewable energy projects, beef up "buy local" programs, convert unused land (including some park and golf course property) into public food gardens, and consider implementing city carbon, gas, vehicle, and fast food taxes.

The task force presented its findings, contained in a 125-page report, to the Board of Supervisors’ Government Audit and Oversight Committee on Sept. 24. It notes the city’s weak current position with respect to the economy, food security, and transportation, yet it remains to be seen how the Board of Supervisors will answer the task force’s call. Sup. Ross Mirkarimi says he will look for ways to initiate some of the short- and long-term recommendations "to legitimize its most salient parts."

San Francisco is the largest U.S. city to produce a sweeping report on the potential impacts of peak oil, a term that refers to the point of maximum oil production, after which extracting dwindling supplies gets steadily more difficult and expensive. Although there isn’t consensus on when the peak will come, the task force’s message is clear: action must be taken now. "The transition cannot be done quickly; the city faces a limited window of opportunity to begin, after which adaptation will become enormously difficult, painful, and expensive," concludes the report. Without sufficient preparation, dwindling supplies of oil and fossil fuel could have dire impacts on San Francisco’s economy, food supply, and security.

Many actions recommended by the task force focus on developing local sustainability. For example, disaster planning needs to cover peak oil phenomena. If delivery of food is delayed or reduced due to fuel shortage, food prices could soar, creating a great need for local options, particularly for low-income families. So the report recommends maximizing the amount of time San Francisco can sustain itself locally.

Specifically, implementing an aggressive "Buy Local First" program that prompts public institutions to purchase regionally produced food when possible would encourage more local food production. A fast food tax could further support this goal. Other recommendations include establishing food production education programs and conducting a comprehensive evaluation of which public lands could be converted to food production. Although the Bay Area is capable of producing enough food to sustain itself, food currently being produced is not diverse enough, and much of it is exported.

The report also warns of the social unrest that could result from improper preparation. San Francisco’s economy depends heavily on travel and visitors, with about 18 percent of city revenue coming from tourism. Escautf8g energy costs and its myriad impacts could send the economy into a prolonged downward spiral.

"With food becoming increasingly expensive, travel and the distribution of goods significantly affected, and unemployment climbing, economically vulnerable populations — including a high percentage of people of color — could experience increasing malnutrition, and some may not be able to maintain health without government intervention," the report reads.

Such future scenarios should affect today’s decisions in all realms, including transportation. Tom Radulovich, executive director of Livable Cities and an elected BART board member, said at the Sept. 24 hearing that it doesn’t make sense to fund highway expansions when future resources might not be able to support even the current number of automobiles on the roads.

In fact, he said, there is a cultural shift already underway in which people want to move away from the car-dependant suburbs and into more pedestrian-friendly urban areas, although policymakers haven’t caught up with this trend yet. While BART and Muni fight uphill battles to expand public transit service with dwindling resources, Radulovich pointed out that the Bay Area Metropolitan Transport Commission (MTC) is proposing to direct $6.4 billion toward highway expansion, despite a decline in vehicle miles traveled. Livable Cities coauthored a resolution, recently approved by the Board of Supervisors, urging the MTC to redirect these funds toward improving transit.

As oil becomes scarcer, the need to create and improve communities where people can safely get around by foot or bicycle will be paramount. Ben Lowe, a task force member specializing in transportation security, noted how important it is to look for regional solutions that go beyond individual cities. There is no magic single solution, but dealing with limited-supply and cost-prohibitive oil requires numerous small solutions as we make this transition.

The main obstacle, as Mirkarimi sees it, is that the sense of urgency is not there. Public officials need to educate the public and "to find something, key pieces of legislation, to rally around," he said. He plans to look into formal ways to keep the seven task force members involved in this process, for example, by matching them with policy experts who can facilitate creation of pertinent legislation.

The task force’s mantra for dealing with forthcoming shortages in oil is to integrate peak oil consideration into government planning and all the decisions made by the mayor and Board of Supervisors. Mirkarimi warns that it would be myopic for San Franciscans not to deliberate on the dangers and opportunities outlined in this report.

Read the report at www.sfenvironment.org/our_policies/overview.html?ssi=20.

SF vs. Frank Lembi

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news@sfbg.com

One of San Francisco’s largest and most notorious landlords and the many shell corporations under his control have been withholding money from their tenants, the banks that financed their rapid real estate acquisitions, and even San Francisco’s public treasury.

But while the banks have acted, seizing property from the delinquent borrowers, city officials have let Skyline Realty, CitiApartments, Lembi Group, and related corporations stonewall the city and pay far less property taxes than they should have owed, depriving city programs of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The various corporations run by real estate mogul Frank E. Lembi (who has not returned our calls seeking comment) have earned a terrible reputation in San Francisco, even as they’ve expanded their rental property holdings in recent years.

An award-winning, three-part Guardian series ("The Scumlords," March 2006) documented how the companies used intimidating goons and an arsenal of nefarious tactics meant to drive out low-income tenants from rent-controlled units, prompting City Hall hearings and an ongoing lawsuit against the enterprise by the City Attorney’s Office.

Then, earlier this year, many tenants joined a class action lawsuit against the Lembi enterprises, alleging the landlords have been illegally withholding deposits from departing tenants as a routine business practice, even after admitting that the tenants were entitled to full refunds (see "CitiApartments once again accused of mistreating tenants," Politics blog, July 15).

Attorneys for the firm Seeger Salvas LLP filed the complaint, which tells several appalling stories, including that of Joy Anderson. When Anderson went to retrieve the deposit she was owed, CitiApartments employees allegedly threatened her in front of her eight-year-old son, telling her that if she wanted her money back, she should talk to a lawyer.

Yet in that lawsuit and the one filed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera, which deals with harassment of tenants and other business practices that the city contends are illegal, Lembi’s empire has refused to cooperate, employing a variety of delay tactics. The city’s lawsuit has been stuck in the discovery process for years.

A court filing by the city alleges Lembi’s enterprise has participated in "well over a year of discovery gamesmanship." New counsel for the defendants has promised to speed things up, but Herrera told us it is still an ongoing battle. "It has been incredibly hard to get documents and information in this case. He’s been stonewalling us," Herrera told the Guardian.

Seegar Salvas attorney Brian Devine said six defendants named in his complaint didn’t respond to discovery requests and were found to be in default by the judge, meaning they basically opted not to contest their culpability. Meanwhile, 75 other defendants did respond but haven’t turned over any documents to the plaintiffs, dragging out the discovery process.

"It’ll take sometime for anything to happen," Devine told us. "There’s no Matlock moment where it all comes to a head. There are a lot of procedures to go through."

And apparently the Lembi enterprises know a little something about how to use legal and bureaucratic procedures to hang onto their money for as long as possible, judging from how they’ve worked the process to avoid paying the full amount of property taxes on their holdings.

At last count, there were 13 property foreclosure lawsuits pending on Lembi properties because he couldn’t pay the loans. The banks have seized many of his properties and started selling them off. But while the banks are getting their due, the Assessor’s Office and city taxpayers seem to be getting stiffed.

Lembi has been on the radar of city officials for quite awhile, but he is still managing to avoid getting some of his recently purchased properties reassessed, according to a Guardian investigation of city records. For example, one Lembi-controlled corporation — Trophy Properties X — snatched up a Russian Hill parking garage for $4.7 million in 2007.

Under Proposition 13, that property should have been reassessed when it was purchased, but it wasn’t. The current taxable price tag on the property is still slightly more than $443,000, a gap that costs the city upwards of $50,000 a year in taxes.

In general, property is reassessed at fair market value when there is a change in ownership, increasing the taxes owed on the property. According to the California Board of Equalization, the purchase price is the basis for reassessed value in most cases, although officials can also take into account comparable sales and other factors to increase value even more.

Yet nearly three years later, this property still hasn’t been reassessed.

Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting told the Guardian the reason for the delay is because Lembi hasn’t been cooperative in providing the information needed to do a reassessment. We obtained an October 2007 letter sent out by the Assessor’s Office requesting Lembi’s limited liability corporation provide information on the acquisition of the property and statistics on the garage itself. That letter and others went unanswered.

Common sense suggests that the sale price be used to reassess the garage and be done with it. Yet Ting said he fears that using that price would result in an inaccurate reassessment, which in turn might screw up the amount of taxes the city could ultimately collect. Then again, simply waiting on the unresponsive Lembi enterprise has resulted in less taxes being collected on the parking garage last year and again this year, according to public tax records.

"We try to get it right the first time. If we don’t get it right the first time, then oftentimes it creates a lengthier appeals process and a much lengthier, more adversarial [relationship] between us and the taxpayer," Ting said. "We absolutely don’t want to reassess that property too low because of Prop. 13. You only get one chance, so you have to be high."

Ting told us that the only recourse he has with an uncooperative taxpayer like Lembi is to reassess using information from similar properties in the same area. Once this is done, the negligent taxpayer can either agree with or challenge the new market value, a move that would switch the burden to Lembi. But that wasn’t done for the Russian Hill parking garage.

"That’s the only recourse we have, meaning that we can’t fine them; we can’t subpoena them; we can’t force them to give us the information," Ting said. "By law, they’re supposed to give us the information. But there are no real enforcement powers behind it."

According to Section 480 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, the assessor does have an option and can levy a penalty if a property owner fails to file a change in ownership statement, which can be up to 10 percent of the taxes due on the newly appraised value.

Several other Lembi-controlled properties have been reassessed recently after a delay, including 19,650-square-foot apartment building down the street from the parking garage at 2238 Hyde St. Before the reassessment, the property was valued at a little over $1 million. The current value is $11.7 million, which amounts to a tax bill of more than $137,000 this year.

Lembi bought the building in December 2005, and the Assessor’s Office got in just under the wire of the four-year statue of limitations for reassessments. Last year the taxes paid on the building came to a little more than $13,000, based on its previous $1 million value.

Then there is the 31,812-square-foot apartment building on 1735 Van Ness Ave. that Lembi bought back in June 2006. According the city records, the taxes paid last year on the property were nearly $48,000 based on a market value of $3.9 million. Recently the building was reassessed with a value of $9.6 million. This year’s taxes amount to more than $114,000. Whether or not the Van Ness Avenue building is a case in which the Lembi Group also withheld information is currently being looked into by the Assessor’s Office.

Yet on the Russian Hill parking garage, Lembi is still getting away with withholding the necessary documents for an accurate reassessment — and time is running out. In a little over a year, the statue of limitations runs out and the city will no longer be able to collect anything from Lembi.

Further complicating the city’s efforts to collect is the fact that some other the properties in question have been foreclosed on.

When the Russian Hill garage and other Lembi properties went back to the banks, the Assessor’s Office looked into what could be done to collect the city’s lost revenue. Its solution: a transfer tax. But that was not an option because the bank held the main mortgage, so it wasn’t considered a change of ownership.

Even though the parking garage and other properties have slipped out of Lembi’s control, he is still responsible for the taxes on them during his period of ownership, according to Ting. But given the experiences of others who have tried to collect money from Lembi, that could be a long, expensive process.

While the Lembi enterprises may be stingy in giving the city and tenants their money, they haven’t had a problem making political campaign contributions. Taylor Lembi, grandson of Frank, gave $500 to Mayor Gavin Newsom’s reelection campaign in 2006, according to public campaign contribution records, although Newsom’s campaign offices returned the money exactly two months later (Newsom’s campaign office didn’t respond to our questions about the contributions or reason for returning it).

Skyline Properties, parent of Skyline Realty, also donated $100 to Newsom’s initial mayoral campaign in 2003, and supported Mayor Willie Brown before that. Lembi continues to be a prominent landlord, the subject of a sympathetic profile by the San Francisco Apartment Association in August 2008.

Yet with lawsuits mounting, the banks foreclosing, and the real estate market slumping, the multigenerational Lembi empire that once controlled more rental units in San Francisco than any other entity appears to be in trouble.

And lest anyone slide under its control unaware, the Lembi empire’s many enemies have organized into a group called CitiStop, supported by groups that include the San Francisco Tenants Union and Pride at Work, which argues that "nothing frightens CitiApartments more than knowledgeable tenants."

www.citistop.live.radicaldesigns.org/index.php

www.sfaa.org/aug2008/0808chapleau.html

Saving the bay

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rebeccab@sfbg.com

GREEN CITY When three women from the Berkeley Hills banded together in 1961 to halt monstrous development plans that would have filled in huge swaths of the San Francisco Bay, it became what some have characterized as the first-ever grassroots environmental campaign in the Bay Area.

Critics dismissed Catherine Kerr, Sylvia McLaughlin, and Esther Gulick as "enemies of progress, impractical idealists, do-gooders, posy pickers, eco-freaks, enviro-maniacs, little old ladies in tennis shoes, and even almond cookie revolutionaries," Gulick once told a crowd at UC Berkeley. But their critics were defeated in the end, and popular support for preserving the bay prevailed.

Organizing initially over almond cookies and tea, the trio of housewives forged ahead with the Save San Francisco Bay Association, which later evolved into Save The Bay. They drummed up widespread support for stronger coastal protections to curb rampant bay fill and garbage dumping along the waterfront.

Their efforts eventually helped spur the creation of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), which later served as a template for the creation of the California Coastal Commission and influenced the push for federal coastline protection.

This bit of history is the key narrative to Saving The Bay, a four-part documentary series produced by filmmaker Ron Blatman, KQED, and KTEH to tell the story of the San Francisco Bay. Narrated by Robert Redford and featuring luminaries like oceanographer Sylvia Earle, former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, and renowned California historian Kevin Starr, the four-hour documentary is the most comprehensive history of the bay ever produced.

The filmmaker refers to it as "the project that ate my life," since it took seven years to complete. His production crew amassed about 1,000 images from 70 different institutions, he says, and even collected historic film clips to illustrate the story through the lens of various eras. The funding was provided by a host of public agencies and corporate donors.

"The title comes from the three women in the Berkeley Hills," explains Blatman. But the series begins at a much earlier point in history: the time when the Miwok and Ohlone were the only people who inhabited the area, which was rich with natural wonder and teeming with fish and wildlife.

In some ways, the story of the San Francisco Bay is depressing. Viewers are confronted with the dramatic impacts that 160 years of industry and development have had on the region’s once-thriving ecosystem. From the loss of native tribes to the collapse of fisheries, to fill projects that permanently altered wetlands to lingering toxic byproducts of heavy industry, San Francisco’s transformation from a sleepy little town before the Gold Rush era into today’s thriving metropolitan hub has brought no shortage of irreversible environmental consequences.

Still, Blatman says that in the end, it’s a feel-good story. "If you went back 40 years and drew a projection of what the bay would look like today, you’d never get this picture," he points out. The Save the Bay movement revolutionized the way people thought about the San Francisco Bay, he says, and the preservation mindset has marked a positive turnaround. Today, wetland restoration projects abound, and people are accustomed to the idea that the shoreline is a resource that is equally shared by all members of the public — even though these were radical concepts several decades ago.

The inception of this documentary project was accidental, Blatman says. It started because Will Travis, executive director of BCDC, needed something better than the low-quality educational slideshow he used to bring new BCDC commissioners up to speed on the natural history of the bay. A mutual friend introduced the two, and the filmmaker agreed to produce a half-hour educational piece. But the project grew deeper, wider, and much longer.

Lately, Travis says his focus has shifted from educating people about the past to warning them about the future. As a consequence of climate change, sea levels are rising, and the bay is projected to expand. "I hate to tell Ron," Travis jokes, "but he’s going to have to make another film."

Saving the Bay premieres on KQED Channel 9 Thursday evenings Oct. 8 and 15 from 8-10 p.m. (repeating overnight and Sundays Oct. 11 and 18 noon-2 p.m.). The series will then run on KTEH four successive Thursday evenings Oct. 22 to Nov. 12 from 9-10 p.m. For more, visit www.savingthebay.org.

H1N1, round two

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news@sfbg.com

The H1N1 virus has already taken a deadly toll in San Francisco, and is expected to hit young people harder than any other group this fall, San Francisco public health officials warned.

Although the virus, also known as swine flu, is reportedly no more serious than conventional strains of flu, health officials told the Guardian that the number of young patients contracting the illness could be significantly higher due to a lack of partial immunity against the strain.

"In terms of the severity of the illness, we are not seeing a difference at all between normal and H1N1 swine flu," said Susan Fernyak, director of communicable disease control and prevention at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. "Yet while a lot of people have partial immunity to seasonal influenza, most people have no immunity from this virus.

"It might not have a higher transmission rate or be any more severe, but we are predicting more illness in the community," she added.

According to Fernyak, vaccinations will soon become available for "high-risk individuals." These include pregnant women, health care workers, people between 25 and 64 with underlying chronic health disorders, and everyone between the ages of 6 months and 24 years.

In late August, the Castro District community was left in shock when 41-year-old Doug Murphy, co-owner of Moby Dick and the recently opened Blackbird bars, died after contracting the H1N1 virus.

Blackbird co-owner Shawn Vergara spent most of his working life with Murphy and shared the same birthday (Aug. 3) with his friend. He said the community was left speechless at the loss of such a prominent and important member.

"It is a tragic loss for us here at Blackbird, and we are suffering terribly from the death of our friend," Vergara said. "We thought he had a cold and had absolutely no idea how serious it was. People should be careful and just use good common sense when taking precautions from this virus."

Although people over 65 are usually the ones who require hospitalization or die from conventional strains of flu, younger people have been most affected by the H1N1 virus, local doctors said. "The difference with this virus is that people who are over 65 are underrepresented in the number of people getting sick, going to hospital, and dying," said Dr. Lisa Winston, an epidemiologist at San Francisco General Hospital.

Experts believe there might be some preexisting immunity among the older age groups, she added. Although initial data from Australia suggests people will be immune from the virus within 10 days of taking the vaccine, Winston is still concerned about the impact H1N1 will have within the community.

"Hopefully we can make the impact less if we get a lot of the vaccine and distribute it properly," Winston said. "But it could still impact a lot of areas, from schools to employment, and place a severe burden on the healthcare system.

"We are still concerned that even if we only have a small number of people having bad outcomes from the virus, there could still be a substantial number in hospitals," she said. "We know there is still some H1N1 circuutf8g and expect a peak, but we are not sure when it’s going to be. There is anxiety around it, and a lot of that is appropriate."

According to Winston, two-thirds of the people who have been hospitalized and died from H1N1 have had underlying medical conditions. Unlike with seasonal flu, those who are morbidly obese also have been highlighted as being possible high-risk patients.

The Monster

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El Monstruo: Dread & Redemption In Mexico City is a perverse love letter to the most contaminated, crime-ridden, corrupt and conflictive urban stain on the western side of the planet, where I have been touched to live for the past quarter of a century. My life is now hopelessly entangled with the life of this monster of a megalopolis.

El Monstruo was indeed a monstrous book to write. The slagheap of materials that I sucked up — hundreds of volumes of history, slagheaps of newspapers, mountains of personal recollections — fill my threadbare room at the Hotel Isabel in the old quarter of this city from floor to ceiling. The narrative I have assembled spans 50,000,000 years give or take a few minutes, dating from the Paleocene to last spring’s Swine Flu panic with significant stops for the doomed Aztec empire, the war of liberation from Spain, the Mexican revolution of 1910-1919, the student massacres of the ’60s, the Great 1985 earthquake, and the erratic governance of the electoral left for the past 12 years.

It is a long story.

The Mexican Revolution was in many ways a war against Mexico City, a capital for which the rest of the country was named and from which all power continues to radiate. The great revolutionary leaders Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa viewed Mexico City as a Sodom & Gomorrah that had to be destroyed if the country was to be redeemed and they did their best to do so. The excerpt that follows speaks to the Monstruo on the eve of the downfall of dictator Porfirio Diaz and the inception of the first great revolution of the landless in the Americas.

WHAT THE LAND WAS LIKE

Back home in Morelos, Emiliano Zapata was elected village leader, entrusted to recover Anenecuilco’s lost lands, granted to the Indians by the Crown in the 17th century. The sugar planters, many of whom were foreigners, had gobbled up the Nahuas’ land and water without remorse.

“Land and Water” was in fact the slogan of Madero ally Vicente Leyva’s campaign for governor of Morelos in 1909 against Díaz’s gallo (rooster), Pablo Escandón, the scion of an immensely wealthy criollo family that had first struck it rich in real estate during Juárez’s Reform, and also a sugar planter who rarely bothered to visit the tiny state. Zapata aligned Anenecuilco’s fortunes with Leyva and Madero. Escandón won by a landslide of course, without ever having to leave El Monstruo. To Zapata, Escandón WAS El Monstruo.

By 1910, 2 percent of all Mexicans owned all the land—save for 70 million hectares held by foreigners with family names like Rockefeller and Hearst and Morgan. One hundred percent of the good farming land in Morelos was occupied by 17 haciendas operated by absentee patrones (bosses). The haciendas sucked up all the groundwater, leaving villages like Anenecuilco dry as a bone. The unequal distribution of water continues a century hence. Wealthy Chilangos have overrun Morelos with their golf courses and palatial second homes, leaving the villages just as thirsty as they were in 1910.

Years ago, I rented a large house in Olintepec, a colonia that shares ejido land (communal farmland) with Anenecuilco, and was able to see how the land must have looked to Zapata when he rode through these fields. I walked out through the tall sugar cane along the irrigation canals to the Caudillo’s humble adobe home, now a museum, on a back street in Anenecuilco, and each young horseman barreling down the country lanes could have been the Caudillo all over again.

But an hour and fifty-five minutes later, when I stepped down off a bus in the belly of the Monstruo, the urban hurly-burly swirling all around me, I always got a whiff of the profound culture shock Emiliano Zapata must have suffered when he was forced to visit this city he so detested.

MADERO’S REVOLUTION

Francisco Madero’s call for the revolution to commence November 20, 1910, stirred sparse response. Up in Puebla, Díaz’s agents murdered Madero’s lieutenant, the revolutionary shoemaker Aquiles Serdán, and his family, two nights before the festivities were slated to kick in. In Morelos, Zapata and the peasant army he had assembled bided their time, waiting to see who would make the first move first.

Mexicans are never on time. Finally, in January, Doroteo Arango AKA Francisco “Pancho” Villa, a popular Chihuahua desperado of Hobsbawmian proportions, and his ruthless cohort Pascual Orozco, declared themselves in revolt and were immediately joined by the Maderista governor of Coahuila, Venustiano Carranza and his “Constitutionalist” Army. Díaz’s Federales were beaten back at Ciudad Guerrero, Mal Paso, and Casas Grandes. Villa laid siege to Ciudad Juárez on the border, the vital railhead that linked Mexico City to the United States and was the lifeblood of the country’s commercial transactions.

By February 1911, with the synchronicity that sometimes made the Mexican Revolution work, the Zapatistas had advanced to Xochimilco. Workers in the heart of the city suffering from what the Porfirian rag El Imparcial tagged ”huelga-manía” or strike fever, declared seven major strikes that paralyzed the Monstruo in 1910–1911. Demonstrators were emboldened enough to assemble in the Zócalo and shout “Death to the Dictator!” beneath Don Porfirio’s balcony by spring. Others menaced his mansion on Cadena Street in the Centro Histórico and were repelled by the gendarmes.

Pablo Escandón fled Mexico for Europe, kvetching to the press that Mexico had fallen into “niggerdom.” Don Porfirio’s class of people was stunned by this threat to their carefree lives and comforts. Indeed, the leisure class had not changed all that much from when the criollos and Gachupines cowered inside the city as Hidalgo’s Indiada advanced on El Monstruo.

After three and a half decades in power, the Dictator remained a figure of adoration in the mansions of La Condesa. For the university students, largely the sons of the ruling class, Don Porfi was the epitome of modernity. To them, Villa and Orozco and Carranza were the Barbarians of the North, Zapata the Attila of the South, and they cast the Dictator as the savior of civilization as they knew it.

But the old man was 81, and it hurt just to keep a stiff upper lip. The medals weighed heavily on his chest. He knew in his heart of hearts what his adorers could not admit—the jig was really up. Ciudad Juárez was days away, even via the modern rail system he had built, and the army’s mobility to supply his troops was restricted. Don Porfiriopochtli, as political cartoonists were drawing him now, had, like the Aztecs, expanded his empire to a point where he could no longer defend it.

In May, the Dictator sent his vice president, Francisco León de la Barra, to the north to negotiate an easy exit to his 34 years on the throne of Mocuhtezuma, and on May 24, 1911, having brokered an agreement with Madero that León de la Barra would remain as provisional president for the next six months, the old man set sail from Puerto, México, for Paris, France, aboard the German steamer Ypringa with this famous caution: “The wild beasts have been loosed. Let us see who will cage them now.”

Wild celebrations broke out in Mexico City as if to underscore the old man’s dictum—15,000 workers invaded the Chamber of Deputies and marched on the National Palace, where the Dictator’s police opened fire, wounding scores. The offices of the Porfirian mouthpiece El Imparcial were set afire. By July, the Monstruo was shut down by a general strike. The wrath of the Mexicans had indeed been loosed, and Madero’s intentions to cage it up again would dictate the next phase of Mexico’s cannibal revolution.

THE GODS ARE SKEPTICAL

After a discreet pause to make sure the old man was really gone, Francisco Madero started off on the long train ride from Ciudad Juárez to Mexico City in early June. There were many treacheries up ahead and he had plenty of time to consider his options as the train lurched from state to state. As he passed through Zacatecas and Aguascalientes, jubilant mobs overran the train depots waving Mexican flags and shouting “¡Vivas!” until they were hoarse and Madero’s train long out of sight.

The presumptive president of Mexico arrived in the capital at Buenavista terminal, the great northern station, on the morning of June 9, and the tumult was overwhelming. Kandell compares it to Juárez’s return to rekindle the republic. I stare at the news photographs. People are excited, even exhilarated. They push and jostle for a view of the little Lenin look-alike. But some are more reserved. They stand back from the jubilant throng. They have come more out of curiosity than conviction. Their faces seem to ask, what next?

From Buenavista, Madero rode through the city in a Dupont motorcar, the sidewalks bursting with well-wishers and flag wavers. Many residents of the metropolis were relieved not so much because of the hope the little man brought with him as for the fact that this change of power had taken place with a minimum of damage to themselves and their city.

When Madero entered the old city for the final jog to the National Palace, he mounted a white horse. In the Palacio, he met with León de la Barra and they reaffirmed their bargain—Porfirio’s stooge would govern for the next six months while Madero campaigned for presidential elections set for November 2. The two emerged on the president’s balcony and “¡Vivas!” erupted from the joyous mob that filled the Zócalo below.

But the old Gods of Tenochtitlán were skeptical about Francisco Madero’s grasp on the presidency. At 6:00 that afternoon they rendered their verdict, upstaging his triumphal arrival in the capital with a deadly earthquake that surged out of the Pacific Ocean along the Jalisco coast and wrought havoc throughout that western state, killing 400 in Zapopan and setting off the Volcano of Colima before smashing into the north of Mexico City and leveling Santa María de la Ribera and San Cosme. There were no Richter scales in those days to measure the quake, but an uncounted number of lives were lost in the capital—perhaps hundreds, reported El Imparcial, which published three extras that day but paid scant attention to Madero’s arrival, burying the story beneath the fold.

Hear Ross read from El Monstruo and sign copies Nov. 18 at Modern Times, 888 Valencia, 7:30 p.m.

Word alive

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WRITERS The Eighth Annual Living Word Festival focuses on fresh young voices and includes readings, musical performances, art and fashion workshops, a youth town hall on healthcare reform, and live graffiti and B-boy battles. Below are two selections from the festival, which takes place Oct. 8-18 in San Francisco and Oakland.

UNTITLED


By Dennis Kim


… and I saw a shorty swimming in a white shirt baked brown by degrees and the air before him was bent by the lashes of the sun on the ground and there was no water to speak of. He was standing on a pile of crumpled mattresses behind our building. I recognized the bed on top, ravaged and stained by my childhood. Shorty wobbled with the thick air and he had no strength to jump. "Sun," I said, and he shielded his eyes. "Son, why are you standing there with no strength? Go inside." He lowered his hand and his eyes were like dried out lakes, gardens ground under the knees of a monstrous thirst, a treeless landscape, a toothless Eden. He said, "Water."

And my eyes died of thirst and I repented of my vengeance. I had made desolate the mansion and the alley and felled the seed for it laid in rotten fruit. The pure and the assassin stumble over the same stones and lie facedown in the same ditch.

I crave living water more than I do dead blood. Father above, let it rain.

Let it rain for the brother who cried facedown into the train platform, "Don’t shoot — "

And the ancestor who met the police with fingertips touching the sky and caught the bullets where he would carry a child …

Let it rain for soldiers draped on streetlamps and mailboxes, kicking at blank spaces the disappeared leave with curses that turn to dust in their mouths.

Let it rain for the thief and the man he robs when both discover they have nothing. They exchange greetings and go their way to new poverties.

Let it rain to wash the blood of the murdered into the gutters and the sea, where it meets the blood of ancestors turned to shark and anemone.

Let it rain to absolve all mothers …

Let it rain for the restless who twist into impossible signs on their beds, afflicted by the sickness of penitence …

But let it rain most of all for the child who opens his mouth to cry but cannot, for the city collapsing inside him. Let it rain because my children are thirsty and they can do nothing but cover their eyes.

Father above, break the sky in two.

Let it rain.

Dennis Kim at Living Water: Youth Speaks to Spirit (Oct. 18, 2 p.m., free. Glide Memorial Church Sanctuary, 300 Ellis, SF. www.youthspeaks.org).

PROLOGUE FROM MIRRORS IN EVERY CORNER: A PLAY


By Chinaka Hodge


I thought he was out of my league. Real tall, well put together. Big palms. Pretty, almost. This metered way with words. Had a steady job. Was wearing ties to work at the time. Built around rigor, and routine. That man loved to make a list. Checklists and to-do lists and have-done lists. Ought-to-do lists.

He sets the alarm for seven. Hits snooze once. Up for real at 7:30. Leans at the edge of the bed for two and a half minutes. Clears his throat through his nose. Turns the shower on. Forgets something in the bedroom. Back to the bathroom. Showers for ten minutes. Out the door by 8:13. Evening is the same. Asleep five nights a week by 10:56. Fifty-six. Clockwork with him.

And for him, there’s an honesty in that. To say I was drawn to that stability doesn’t really do the feeling justice. More like the compulsion we have as children to metronomes and see-saws. There is something absolutely mesmerizing about the rhythm of his predictability. Science. Like how you know how fast honey will dissolve in hot water. He sweetens me on time. Budgets the exact minutes it will take him to love me. Don’t know how he does that. Did that. When even I didn’t know what I needed.

Plus we were proportioned right. Nice heights for walking places, and for lying down inside each other. For talking copious amounts of shit. He was a good card partner. Conservative in his bids, leading with the suit he’d like me to return in. Not a stellar dancer, but better than me by far. And so we stuck fast to each other.

We had fun. Before Watts came and the wedding even, just sitting watching our shows. I remember the Cosby premiere with him. How on the weekends he’d stay up late late with me, cause I’d guilt him off his schedule, and he’d make jokes all in my hair. Push the laughs right through me. And I’d hug him in the mirror, make him watch how happy we were. To remind us both of the enchanted nature of what we were doing. In the time we were doing it. A fearless act: Black family in the middle of an epidemic. Intellectuals at play. The ease of our engagement.

So imagine our surprise when they told me the baby was white. White.

Whose child?

Chinaka Hodge and Universes at the Living Word Festival (Thurs/8-Fri/9, 8 p.m., $10–$20. CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF. www.counterpulse.org).

Fine quintet

0

WRITERS Four provocative haiku and a tanka from the Haiku Poets of Northern California, who’ll be reading at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17, at Anthony’s Cookies (1417 Valencia, SF) as part of LitQuake’s massive citywide Litcrawl. Check out www.litquake.com for more info, and www.hpnc.org for more on HPNC, including a contest.


——-

twilight

the poultry truck returns

with empty cages

— Carolyn Hall

——-

Evening fragrance

we walk among

the moonflowers

— Garry Gay

——-

water

clear enough

to hide all secrets

— David Grayson

——

Hiroshima day

multi-color threads

on the weaving machine

— Fay Aoyagi

——-

artichoke season

sharing my heart

I try

to slice it

evenly

— Susan Antolin

Bon Voyage!

0

arts@sfbg.com

WRITERS Mired and I were off to a Bon Voyage! party for our friend, Shawna, who was moving to Cleveland. It might not be totally true to say that Shawna was our friend. Shawna was my friend. We’d worked together, years ago, at an auto parts store and had dated for a few months. Mired was a jealous person in the first place, and she was of the opinion that Shawna still had a crush on me, though I kept trying to tell her that there was nothing going on between us.

Once we arrived, Mired started drinking vodka tonics. Really drinking. Rock star drinking. She was mad because Sh Sawna pronounced Mired’s name wrong, calling her Meer-red.

"It’s pronounced like the verb," Mired said to her. "You know: mired in depression, mired in immense mental anguish."

"Got it," Shawna said.

"That’s what you said last time," Mired said, batting her eyes like a sly homecoming queen.

While the other twenty guests and I were in the living room, talking about Shawna, and Cleveland, and all the opportunities that awaited her there, Mired sat alone in the kitchen. Every once in a while she’d yell, "I’m sure going to miss you, Shawna," and she’d laugh and I’d deflect by droning on about Cleveland being the best city splattered on our continent.

You see, these other guests weren’t just learning that Mired drank too much and had a sailor’s mouth and didn’t like Shawna. No, they soaked up the fact that there was barely trust between Mired and me, and the trust we did have was heavy and rundown, a burden we lugged behind us like concrete shadows.

After an hour or so, and probably seven drinks, Mired blurted, "Derek, maybe as a going away gift, you should have sex with Shawna."

Forty humungous eyes and twenty tongue-tied guests. Shawna looked at me. I was supposed to do something, this was clearly supposed to be handled by me, but I didn’t know what to say, so I tried to change the subject, asking, "Does anyone know the average rainfall in Cleveland?"

Guests reluctantly nibbled on chips and slurped the bottoms of their empty cocktails, chewing ice cubes, everyone too uneasy to replenish supplies.

Then Mired slurred, "Shawna, are you sure you wouldn’t like to give Derek a blowjob for old time’s sake?"

All astonished, riveted eyes fixed on her.

"We’ll all watch," Mired said.

Twenty other guests and forty scathing eyes, their naked disgust, all staring at Mired as she embarrassed herself, embarrassed us, me. Their awed eyes ricocheted from Mired to Shawna to me and back around, a vicious carousel, all these gazes grazing each of us.

Mired aimed another homecoming smile toward Shawna, who said, "Out of my house!" and she hopped up and ran toward the kitchen, but some of the guests got in her way. Shawna turned to me and said, "Get her out of here," and I said, "Fine, fine," and didn’t even get a chance to say Bon Voyage! Instead, I helped Mired stagger to the door and stagger down the stairs, almost falling twice, and I put her in the passenger seat and drove us home.

The whole ride she kept saying, "Drop me off and go give it to her."

"Shut up!"

Our conversation vanished, though, as Mired passed out right in the middle of our latest screaming match. I pulled up to our lousy apartment building, and she was out cold. I shook her, said, "Get up," but she didn’t move or say anything. The key was still in the ignition so I turned the car on and found a radio station playing Lynyrd Skynyrd because Mired hated that hillbilly shit. I made the music blare and gave her a few shakes, but she didn’t move so I shut the car off and went to her side, opened her door and said, "Can you walk on your own?" but since her eyes had shut again and her head swiveled every direction like a broken compass, I knew she couldn’t.

I threw her arm around my shoulder and guided her. We only took two steps before her legs went boneless, flaccid, falling, but I was able to catch her, swooping her up in my arms, the way a groom carries a bride on their wedding night.

We lived on the second story, and I started struggling up the stairs, and she said, "Admit you want to have sex with her," and I didn’t say anything, concentrating on climbing those steps, tried pretending that my ears were locked like safes and her words didn’t know the combinations, but it didn’t work. I had no guard from anything that came out of her mouth. Mired said, "Go back and screw her," and I tried to cinch my ears closed. I said, "Shut up," and she said, "I deserve more than you," and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, couldn’t fathom how she figured she deserved more. It didn’t make any sense, since I was the one trying to do the right thing.

I was halfway there, only six steps left. My arms shaking. I looked at Mired’s face as she kept telling me how much better she deserved, which got me thinking about how much better I deserved, which led me to the very notion of love, and I remembered that old cliché: If you love something set it free.

I arched my back because she seemed to be getting heavier with every step—she’d been getting heavier for months now, every time she said mechanics don’t make enough money, every time we had our maintenance sex, something we did these days to avoid a breakdown, like getting an oil change.

I craned our combined weight up to the next stair, my biceps burning, arms unable to hold her as high, which put increased pressure on the small of my back. Mired said, "You should love me more, Derek," and I felt a puncturing, like a nail jammed into a tire, except there was no tire, just me. Like something had ripped into my skin and there I was, leaking affection and patience and resilience. Spilling love.

My feet worked their way around, doing a one-eighty on that thin step, and I faced the bottom, and I let my arms go limp and dropped her and she hit right at my feet and flipped backward and then bounced all the way to the bottom of the stairs and landed in a contorted heap, tangled like human laundry.

She didn’t make any noise, didn’t move.

I looked around to see if anyone was watching. There didn’t seem to be so I rushed down the stairs and crouched next to her mangled face.

I said, "Are you all right?"

I said, "Jesus, baby, you fell down the stairs!"

Excerpt from Joshua Mohr’s Termite Parade.

Bay writes

0

culture@sfbg.com

WRITERS We asked Guardian readers to contribute stories or poems that reflected their Bay Area experiences. The catch? Each entry had to be exactly 123 words. So many excellent submissions poured in. Unfortunately, we could only pick 10 winners, which are printed below. The writers will receive a gift certificate to Books, Inc.

ECLIPSED

Her fantasy

revolved around how wonderful it would be to die in an

earthquake that killed her at the exact moment

she was looking up at the shelves in the Macy’s women’s department.

The handbags were being swept into the air and

were floating down towards her. A

set of Moschinos fell like giant colorful raindrops

and her hands were extended towards them, like a desiccated cave-woman about to

experience

the end of a drought. This moment

would be captured as her afterlife when a glass sliver

slipped between her eye and eyelid and gracefully penetrated her brain. She wanted the perfection

of the leather satchels, which she had no hope of ever owning, to eclipse all

the

other moments of her life.

— Hunter Stern

LESSON PLAN

i take the book you made out for coffee, walk along clay until it crests over hyde and i can smile again, weave past grace cathedral, 40s and shorts on the swing set and i fall in love with you at Front Porch drinking drinks with kumquats and rum, flicks of salt disappearing, lips pressed to mason jars, wrappers leftover from japanese candy, 111 minna, some girl’s gold necklace, lamp light reflecting, gray goose and art galleries, thick throated and insecure, while north beach vomits strip clubs and boutiques, scares away hipsters, and at 3am i make a home for you in the space between my breasts, mismatched fabrics hanging over head, cork board alley smiles and

what’s your name again?

— Gabrielle Toft

LABOR DAY 2009

I slip on my pants like a fireman, quick, with practiced determination. I careen my head toward the window. Watch daybreak bang the gray sky back. The closed Bay Bridge arches towards darkness, towards Frisco. I have never seen it without cars lights.

I shuck the sheets off you.

Up, I demand, a drill sergeant.

I snap my bra on, twist it around. I can smell myself, fecund, moist pits. Nervous like a mother. I hate myself.

I ball my shirt up; hurl it at you.

You look up.

What?

I’m going to be a mom, I spit. Taste the implication on my tongue.

You hoist yourself up.

Where you going?

To bike that bridge. What can they do? They can’t stop me

— Tomas Moniz

BEFORE LIGHT CHANGES

Pick a hill. Jump between vantage points. You can spring the entire city, like a kinged checker, or a queen. Morphing like Mad Magazine, folding corners B to A, bending time.

A pharmacy goes BBQ. Sushi boats drift through your unconscious. You got dragged aboard, then woke with a craving. Across, in that park: you’ve tasted heartbreak, and smelled funny dancing, and shot hoops with crumpled resumes, and been winded by a jog.

The city gasps for air just before rush hour, after running all day, breathing hard. Cue the fog. Now it’s dim: the ‘Sco does twister yoga, or the funky gargoyle, gone buck or cupcakin’. A sushi float parades the bay, always revolving, barely perceptible; you’re on board, and circling too.

— Joe Cervelin

TOOTH TALE

Mother wanted me to be the dentist to the stars. I wanted to be the next Hemingway. Mother insisted writers were alkies and wife abusers. I could write prescriptions. Graduated NYU Dental in 1959. Only mention that Al Pacino and John Travolta were patients because I’m a namedropper. For the next 20 years, I inhaled tons of toxic mercury vapors, was bombarded with enough stray radiation and nitrous oxide to turn my toenails and my mien black. After my second wife left me, I fled to San Francisco. Bought a restored Victorian at 164-166 Castro with my cousin, Hal Slate. Hal owned the Cauldron bathhouse and sang in the Gay Men’s Chorus. Hal lived upstairs and I was on the bottom.

— Dr. Stanley Finkelstein


THE SEAWALL

Just a cougar by the seawall. Summer, errr, autumn in the Sunset, she stole a boy from the surf shop. He literally lived in the surf shop.

Gawky girl, watched him get amateur tattoos. Watched him sell pot to Trouble. Bought him pizza. Bought a phone, learned to text.

Kisses and secrets pressed against the seawall. Realize: nothing is lost by getting older.

Ocean Beach is not made of fog, just ghost lovers and culture clashes. Wu Tang Clan and Elliott Smith. Office girls and Rastafarian skate rats. Wearing rings and gangsta players. Foodies and shysters.

She returns home with sand in her highlights and guilt on her sleeve. Then makes love with two men, one by the shore, one as a whore.

— Sadie Craft

NAILS

I always smell coffee when I cross the Bay Bridge.

Mom would point out the Hills Brothers building on the right. "Grandpa

used to work for them."

He kept nails in a red coffee tin. Every summer, my parents would send

me back to the city to live with my grandparents for a bit. He’d get me

to pull nails out of old planks and save the good ones.

Years later, my wife and I came to clear out their house. She rattled a

tin full of rusty nails.

"It’s a real mess. I guess people who lived through the Depression saved

everything."

The old factory is gone, but I still smell coffee on the Embarcadero.

And think of honest work.

— Dominic Dela Cruz

A PAINFUL CASE

Outside of a Shattuck Laundromat a form appeared and paused. I could see just above the pages of my book a squat mass.

You like Joyce?

There waited a gray-haired wheelchairbound woman, her thin puppetlegs below a square, dense torso.

Yes.

She spoke about Finnegan’s Wake, about her triptoirelandfathersdeathlovers53disabledlesbianconvertedjewsuicide

life —

conjuring Linnaeus to lift herself from the gelid human sea.

I politely cut her off.

There were three women alongside me folding laundry. A man watching clothes tumble behind a porthole. Two coeds umlike trying to use a machine. The TVfixed attendant stood folding underwear. Eight people in a small room and no one spoke to the other.

I turned my gaze toward the street vainly hoping to tell Shewhospoke

Iamalmostthirtyunemployeduneducatedconfused

my life.

— Carolyn Rae Allen

UNTITLED

Ice cream is my observation food.

I’m sitting on the curb by the Castro Station, watching a nighttime exodus of dapper gay couples and catching snatches of passerby dialogue between bites of an It’s-It.

I listen to them talk about things I know nothing of, though I still strain to hear. Each person walking by, I realize as I munch, is their own story, their own person, and I feel a strange urge to follow them around.

Instead, I look up at the city lights and semi-starry sky, both of which frame a giant flapping flag, whose wind-aided whipping is just audible above the sounds of cars and people.

My snack drips, I wolf it down, and then descend into the station’s glow. — — arim Quesada-Khoury

AN UPLIFT

There are people in this city whom even God does not love. I have spoken to many of them (phoning from the safety of my SOMA office) about diminished social services and life’s decline. The most wretched of San Francisco’s sick, discouraged, and deprived tell me they keep living for one reason alone: their pets. When every last lover’s tolerant embrace has turned cold, dogs and cats do not waiver in their devotion. I only remember to feed myself because Josie needs to be fed, too. She knows I’m sick and ugly, but she loves me nonetheless. Oh Lord, because your charitable light sometimes eludes man through the Bay’s perpetual fog, please lift up this city’s pets and help them do your work.

— Ryan Goldman

Events listings

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

WEDNESDAY 7

Dead-ication Booksmith, 1644 Haight, SF; (415) 863-8688. 7:30pm, free. Join well-known author Ben Fong-Torres as he presents his new book, The Grateful Dead Scrapbook: The Long, Strange Trip in Stories, Photos, and Memorabilia. The book is a collection of never-before published photos, flyers, fan letters, and other ephemera, accompanied by Fong-Torres’ personal experience of the San Francisco music scene at that time, as a writer for Rolling Stone magazine.

FRIDAY 9

HPV: The Silent Killer Commonwealth Club, 2nd floor, 595 Market, SF; (415) 869-5930. Noon, $15. Hear from health care professionals about the future of HPV prevention and treatment and the controversy surrounding the current vaccine.

Litquake Various venues across Bay Area; www.litquake.org. Oct. 9-17, $0-30. Join in on this inclusive celebration of San Francisco’s unique contemporary literary scene by attending lectures, readings, workshops, panel discussions, and, best of all, parties. Attend the Porchlight Storytelling Series, where authors take the stage to tell true takes of punk rock excess (Mon/12). See Amy Tan be roasted by her peers including, Dave Eggers, Andrew Sean Greer, and Armistead Maupin at the Barbary Coast Award ceremony (Wed/14). Witness a Literary Death Match where writers compete for bragging rights (Thurs/15).

Litquake’s Book Ball Herbst Theater, Green Room, 401 Van Ness, SF; www.litquake.org. 8pm; $19.99, includes one drink and snacks. Kick off this years litquake at a Black, White, and Read harlequin ball where attendees don masks inspired by their favorite books or writers. Live music, dancing, and plenty of authors guaranteed.

SATURDAY 10

Chinese-American Art Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, 3rd floor, 750 Kearny, SF; (415) 986-1822, ext. 21. 1pm, free. Attend this lecture by Stanford University Professor Gordon H. Chang on Chinese-American art followed by a guided tour of the current exhibition Chromatic Constructions: Contemporary Fiber Art by Dora Hsiung.

Hip Hop Chess Federation John O’Connell High School, 2355 Folsom, SF; www.bayareachess.com. 9am-6pm, free. This all day youth empowerment program includes a chess tournament, music, chess lessons, graffiti art battles, martial arts, and more to promote unity, strategy, and non-violence. Hip hop celebrity guests include Rakaa Iriscience, Ray Luv, Traxamillion, Casual, Conscious Daughters, and more. All ages welcome.

Morbid Curiosity Borderland Books, 866 Valencia, SF; (415) 824-8203. 3pm, free. Celebrate the release of a new book drawn from the pages of Morbid Curiosity magazine called, Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues: True Stories of the Unsavory, Unwise, Unorthodox, and Unusual, with readings by Simon Wood crashes his car, Katrina James drinks blood, A.M. Muffaz endures an exorcism, and more.

Open Studios Various studios around neighborhoods Bernal Heights, Castro, Duboce, Eureka Valley, Glen Park, Mission, Noe Valley, and Portola. Sat-Sun 11am-6pm.

Writing about Art The Lab, 2948 16th St., SF; (415) 864-8855. 3pm, $5-10 sliding scale. Attend the first installment of a three part series, Critical Sources: Writing about Art in the Bay Area, featuring speakers Glen Helfand, Tirza True Latimer, Matt Sussman, and David Cunningham.

Yoga Tree Anniversary Yoga Tree Castro Studio, 97 Collingwood, SF; (415) 701-YOGA. 7pm, free. As a thank you to the community in honor of Yoga Tree’s ten year anniversary, owners Tim and Tara are offering a night of free yoga, Kirtan, dance, entertainment, and goodies.

BAY AREA

Indigenous Peoples Day Berkeley Farmers’ Market, Center at Martin Luther King, Jr., Berk.; (510) 595-5520. 10am, free. Celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day with a Pow Wow and Indian Market featuring Native American dancing, drumming, and singing, and a Native American crafts sale. The farmers’ market will also be holding a free fall fruit tasting with a whole range of Fall varieties you can find at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market.

SUNDAY 11

Arab Cultural Festival County Fair Building, Golden Gate Park, 9th Ave. at Lincoln, SF; (415) 664-2200. Noon, $6. Celebrate the contributions of the Arab-American community to San Francisco at this day-long showcase of the art, entertainment, food and traditions of Arab and Arab-American people that have contributed to the Bay Area’s cultural landscape.

Japanese Confinement in North America National Japanese American Historical Society, 1684 Post, SF; (415) 921-5007. Hear Greg Robinson read and discuss his book, A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America, which analyses the confinement of 120,000 people of Japanese descent in the United States during World War II.

Philosophy Talk Marsh Theater, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 826-5750. Noon, $20. Be part of a live studio audience at this recording of Philosophy Talk, a public radio show hosted by two Stanford philosophy professors and broadcast locally on KALW 91.7 and nationally on other public radio stations. The show’s topics will be "The Minds of Babies" with guest Alison Gopnick and "Nihilism and Meaning" with guest Hubert Dreyfus.

WhiskyWeek Seminars Elixir, 3200 16th St., (415) 552-1633. From Sun/11-Thrus/15, various times; $35 per seminar, www.elixirSF.com to sign up. In honor of WhiskeyWeek, learn about five different approaches to whiskey making from experts from whiskey makers around the world, like Glenmorangie, St. George, Yamazaki, and more.

BAY AREA

Radical Love Long Haul Infoshop, 3124 Shattuck, Berk.; (510) 540-0751. 7pm, $10-15 sliding scale. Attend this workshop and discussion with Wendy-O Matik on how to re-invent your relationships outside the dominant social paradigm, focusing on love and intimacy, not sex. The components at the heart of this non-judgmental workshop are feminism, social activism, and revolution.

MONDAY 12

Meet the Programmers Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF; (415) 625-8880. 7pm, $8. Attend this SFFS Film Arts forum starting with a preview of the Film Society’s fall festival lineup, followed by a panel discussion featuring programmers from various San Francisco film festivals, followed by peer-to-peer screenings, review, and feedback on works in progress, leading into an open networking forum.

TUESDAY 13

Jew Tube Congregation Sherith Israel, 2266 California, SF; (415) 346-1720. 7pm; $48, for five part series. Every Tuesday for 5 weeks David Perlstein will show two episodes that demonstrate the evolution of Jewish identity and issues throughout the past 60 years of television situation comedies at this series titled, Jew Tube: TV Sitcoms’ Jewish Family Portraits.

On Print Journalism Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, SF; (415) 392-4400. 8pm, $20. Hear Jill Abramson, Managing Editor, The New York Times, and Jane Mayer, Staff Writer, The New Yorker, discuss the current state of print journalism, the impact of the shift toward a more digital world, and the future of print media.

Music listings

0

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 7

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Bad Girls Go to Hell, Street Score, Battery Powered Grandpa, High School Parties Rickshaw Stop. 8pm, $5.

Tia Carroll and the Hardwork Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $15.

Highhorse, Famous, Eric Shea and the High Deserters El Rio. 8pm, $5.

Little Junior Davis and the Knucklehead Blues Hounds Rasselas Jazz. 8pm, free.

Lotus, Break Science Independent. 9pm, $1-20.

Kermit Lynch and His Band Great American Music Hall. 7pm, $125.

Mimicking Birds, Kathryn Anne Davis Hotel Utah. 9pm, $7.

Mudbug Coda. 9pm, $7.

Mumlers, Emily Jane White, Osage Orange Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $7.

No Use for a Name, Perfect Machines, Rockfight Thee Parkside. 8pm, $10.

People Under the Stairs, Kenan Bell Slim’s. 9pm, $16.

Starfucker, Deelay Ceelay, Strength Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $10.

Andrew W.K. and Calder Quartet Café du Nord. 8pm, $25.

Witness the Horror, Hukaholix, Murderess Annie’s Social Club. 8pm, $6.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

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

Katona Twins Hotel Rex, 562 Sutter, SF; (415) 398-6449, www.performances.org. 6:30pm, $20.

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

Realistic Orchestra Yoshi’s San Francisco. 10:30pm, $14.

Carlos Reyes Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8pm, $20.

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

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Bluegrass Country Jam Plough and Stars. 9pm, free. With Jeanie and Chuck.

Gaucho, Michael Abraham Jazz Session Amnesia. 8pm, free.

New Directions in Indian Classical Music Climate Theater, 285 Ninth St., SF; (415) 704-3260. 8pm, $7-15.

DANCE CLUBS

Afreaka! Attic, 3336 24th St; souljazz45@gmail.com. 10pm, free. Psychedelic beats from Brazil, Turkey, India, Africa, and across the globe with MAKossa.

Bizarre Love Triangle Elbo Room. 9pm, $5. Eighties dance party with DJs Anso and Choice.

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

Dubstep vs. Disco Poleng Lounge. 10pm, $5. Featuring In Flagranti.

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

Hump Night Elbo Room. 9pm, $5. The week’s half over – bump it out at Hump Night!

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 Daddy Rolo, Young Fyah, Irie Dole, I-Vier, 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 8

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Atomic Bomb Audition, Diminished Men, Blanketship Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $6.

Bite, Black Dream, Capp Street Girls, MC Meat Hook and the Vital Organs Annie’s Social Club. 8pm, $6.

Tim Bluhm, Neal Casal, and Fred Torphy Make-Out Room. 7pm, $12.

Boombox, Ana Sia Independent. 9pm, $15.

Brass Liberation Orchestra, Charming Hostess, Loco Bloco El Rio. 7pm, $5-20.

Death Valley High, Thrill of it All, King Loses Crown Café du Nord. 9:30pm, $10.

Foreigner Fillmore. 8pm, $45.

Great American Taxi, Kate Gaffney Connecticut Yankee, 100 Connecticut, SF; (415) 552-4440. 9pm, $12.

Carey Head, Kirk Hamilton, Alex Kelly Hotel Utah. 9pm, $7.

Jelly Bread Boom Boom Room. 9:30pm, $5.

"Manofest 2009" Thee Parkside. 9pm, $7. With Hellowar (Hellhunter), Barry Manowar (Fleshies), Womanowar (Dalton), Warriors of the World, and DJ Rob Metal.

Coco Montoya Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $18.

Sugar and Gold, Battlehooch, Vows Eagle Tavern. 9pm, $5.

Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Burmese, TITS Slim’s. 8pm, $25.

TLXN, Birdmonster, Erin Brazill Bottom of the Hill. 9:30pm, $8.

BAY AREA

Loggins and Messina Paramount Theatre. 8pm, $39.50-79.50.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

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.

John Kalleen Group Shanghai 1930. 7pm, free.

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

"SF Jazz Presents Hotplate: Wil Blades plays Jimmy Smith" Amnesia. 8pm, $5.

Stanley Clarke Trio with Hiromi and Lenny White Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $32.

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

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Will Blades Amnesia. 9pm, $5. Tribute to Jimmy Smith.

Manicato Coda. 9pm, $7.

Parno Graszt, Brass Menazeri Rickshaw Stop. 7:30pm, $10.

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

Eric and Suzy Thompson Atlas Café. 8pm, free.

Toubab Krewe Great American Music Hall. 9pm, $18.

DANCE CLUBS

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

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

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

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

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

Gymnasium Matador, 10 6th St., SF; (415) 863-4629. 9pm, free. With DJ Violent Vickie and guests spinning electro, hip hop, and disco.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Represent Icon Lounge. 10pm, $5. With Resident DJ Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist and guest.

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.

Trinity Dance DNA Lounge. 7:30pm, $16. Tribute to Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, and Nick Cave with 5 Cent Coffee, Fromagique, and DJs James Bradley, Persephone, Mz Samantha, and Kit.

FRIDAY 9

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

*Children of Bodom, Black Dahlia Murder, Austrian Death Machine, Skeletonwitch Regency Ballroom. 7pm, $30.

D’Fibrillatorz Mocha 101, 1722 Taraval, SF; (415) 702-9869. 8pm, free.

Damon and Naomi Amoeba, 1855 Haight, SF; (415) 831-1200. 6pm, free.

*Floating Goat, Dirty Power, Serpents Crown Annie’s Social Club. 5pm, $5.

A Hawk and a Handsaw, Damon and Naomi Independent. 9pm, $14.

Honey Island Swamp Band Boom Boom Room. 10pm.

Danny James and Pear, These Hills of Gold, Parlour Suite Knockout. 9pm, $7.

Jane Doe’s Union Room (at Biscuits and Blues). 9:30pm, $10.

Monsters Are Not Myths, Wave Array, Sentinel Hotel Utah. 9pm, $12.

Mutemath Fillmore. 9pm, $25.

Kim Nalley Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $22.

OvO, Subarachnoid Space, Worm Orouboros Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $10.

*"Part Time Punks Mini-Fest" Mezzanine. 8pm, $20. With Raincoats, Section 25, Gang of Four, For Against, and more.

Phil and Jackets, Forget About Boston, Jacob Wolkenhauer, Essence, DJ Roy Two Thousand Café du Nord. 9:30pm, $10.

Polvo, Moggs Slim’s. 9pm, $15.

Rosewood Thieves, Dead Trees, Mist and Mast Bottom of the Hill. 10pm, $10.

Stung, Petty Theft Red Devil Lounge. 8pm, $12.

BAY AREA

Belly of the Whale, Pentacles, Groundskeeper, Talky Tina Uptown. 9pm, free.

Jason Mraz, Brett Dennen, Robert Francis, Bushwalla Greek Theater, UC Berkeley, Berk; www.ticketmaster.com. 7pm, $47.50.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

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

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

"Cultural Encounters: Friday Nights at the deYoung presents Jazz at Intersection" Wilsey Court, de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, SF; www.deyoungmuseum.org. 6:30pm, free. With Nice Guy Trio’s Root Exchange Finale: Season Two.

8 Legged Monster Coda. 10pm, $10.

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

Josh Jones Latin Jazz Ensemble Vin Club, 515 Broadway, SF; (415) 277-7228. 7pm, free.

"Lester Bowie Tribute Concert" Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness; (415) 392-4400, www.cityboxoffice.com. 7:30pm, $30-50. With James Carter, Corey Wilkes, Fred Ho, Roscoe Mitchell, and Famoudou Don Moye.

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

Michael Zilber Jazz Quartet Red Poppy Art House. 8pm, $12-20.

Stanley Clarke Trio with Hiromi and Lenny White Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $32.

Terry Disley Experience Shanghai 1930. 7:30pm, free.

Words Partisan Gallery, 112 Guerrero, SF; www.partisangallery.com. 9pm, free.

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Mild Colonial Boys Plough and Stars. 9pm, $7. With Fergus Feeley.

Wisin Y Yandel Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove, SF; www.goldenvoice.com. 8pm, $56-76.

DANCE CLUBS

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

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.

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

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.

Grime City Club Six. 9pm, $7. With DJs Joe Nice, Bogl, Grime City Crew, Emcee Chilo, and more spinning dubstep.

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

I Can’t Feel My Face Amnesia. 10pm, $3. With DJs EUG and J Montag spinning punk, funk, electro, rock, disco, hip hop, and no wave.

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

Lovebuzz Annie’s Social Club. 9pm, $5. Classic punk, 90s, and rock with Jason aka Jawa, Jetset James, and Melody Nelson.

Lucky Road DNA Lounge. 9pm, $10. Gypsy punk dance party with Hot Pink Feathers, Barbary Coast Shakedown, Tara Quinn, Sister Kete, MssRockwell DeVill, DJ Alxndr, and Gypsy Bazaar.

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

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

Shit Robot Paradise Lounge. 9pm, $10. With DJs Tal M. Klein and Chardmo spinning disco and funk.

6 to 9 800 Larkin, 800 Larkin, SF; (415) 567-9326. 6pm, free. DJs David Justin and Dean Manning spinning downtempo, electro breaks, techno, and tech house. Free food by 800 Larkin. Treat Em Right Elbo Room. 10pm, $5. Hip-hop, funk, reggae, and Latin with DJs Vinnie Esparza and B-Cause.

SATURDAY 10

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Cory Brown, Melissa Phillips Red Devil Lounge. 9pm, $8.

Curtis Bumpy Coda. 10pm, $10.

Chapter 2, Panda Conspiracy Boom Boom Room. 10pm, $12.

Disastroid, Big Blue Whale, Solid Hemlock Tavern. 10pm, $7.

Fast Times Pier 39, SF; www.pier39.com. 7:30pm, free.

"Frisco Freakout!" Thee Parkside. 2pm, $15. With Heavy Hills, Lumerians, Powell St. John and the Aliens, Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, Liquorball with Steve MacKay, Wooden Shjips, Citay, and more.

Ernie Johnson Velma’s, 2246 Jerrold, SF; (415) 824-7646. 8pm.

Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Zach Gill Independent. 9pm, $17.

Metronomy, Fool’s Gold, Leopold and His Fiction Bottom of the Hill. 10pm, $12.

Pi Bruno’s. 8:30pm, $5-10.

La Plebe, Get Dead, Compton SF, Keeners Annie’s Social Club. 9:30pm, $8.

"Rocket Dog Rescue Benefit" El Rio. 3pm. With Lady Fingaz, Solid, Jay Trainer Band, and Scranton.

Satyricon, Bleeding Through, Toxic Holocaust, Chthonic Slim’s. 8pm, $20.

Stone Foxes, Bhi Bhiman, Dubious Ranger Hotel Utah. 8:30pm, $10.

Tommy Castro Band and the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Revue Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $17.

Tower of Power Fillmore. 8pm, $40.

"Tricycle Music Fest West" San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin, SF; http://tricyclefest.org. 10am-2pm, free. With Hipwaders, Charity and the JamBand, and Frances England and the Time-Outs.

Mitch Woods Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $20.

BAY AREA

Bob Dylan and His Band Greek Theater, UC Berkeley, Berk; www.ticketmaster.com. 7:30pm, $50.

Har Mar Superstar, Heavenly States, Hot Tub, Somehow at Sea Uptown. 9pm, $15.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

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

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

Jack Pollard Shanghai 1930. 7:30pm, free.

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

Stanley Clarke Trio with Hiromi and Lenny White Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $32.

Paula West with George Mesterhazy Quartet Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, SF; www.performances.org. 8pm, $27-39.

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Culann’s Hounds Plough and Stars. 9pm, $7.

"Fela Kuti Birthday Celebration" Café du Nord. 9:30pm, $12. With DJ Jeremiah and the Afrobeat Nation, and DJ Said.

Krosswindz Knockout. 9pm, $6.

Maus Haus, Church Amnesia. 9pm, $7.

Mission Bohemia Red Poppy Art House. 8pm, $12.

Stellamara Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez, SF; (415) 454-5238. 8:15pm, $17.

DANCE CLUBS

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

Bootie DNA Lounge. 9pm, $6-12. Mash-ups with DJs Reno, ComaR, Phatbastard, and residents Adrian and Mysterious D, and Dada.

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.

Krazy for Karaoke Happy Hour Knockout. 5-9pm, free. Belt it out with your host Deadbeat.

Rebel Radio Club Six. 9pm, $10. With DJs Green B and Funky C spinning reggae and hip hop and a live performance by Hypnotic Vibrations.

Reggae Gold SF Endup. 10pm, $5. With DJs Daddy Rolo, Polo Mo’Quuz, and more spinning reggae, dancehall, and remixes all night.

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

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

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

Tormenta Tropical Elbo Room. 10pm, $5-10. Electro-cumbia with Sabo, Disco Shawn, and Oro 11.

SUNDAY 11

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Academy Is, Mayday Parade, Set Your Goals, You Me At Six Regency Ballroom. 7pm, $18.

And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Future of the Left Hotel Utah. 8pm, $20.

"Battle of the Bands" DNA Lounge. 5:30pm, $12. With Raya Nova, Inner Sunset, Accept Your Fate, Dopesick Tight, and more.

Hanalei, Daikon, Themes, Polar Bears Thee Parkside. 8pm, $7.

Honey Island Swamp Band, Whisky Pills Pier 23. 4pm.

In ‘n Out Boom Boom Room. 10pm, $12.

Mensclub, Short Dogs Grow, Street Lyons, John Thaxton Bottom of the Hill. 1pm, $10.

Nadja, Date Palms, Portraits Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $6.

Thursday, Fall of Troy, Dear Hunter, Touche Amore Slim’s. 7:30pm, $20.

Gregg Wright Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $15.

BAY AREA

Bob Dylan and His Band Greek Theater, UC Berkeley, Berk; www.ticketmaster.com. 7:30pm, $50.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

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

Stanley Clarke Trio with Hiromi and Lenny White Yoshi’s San Francisco. 2 and 7pm, $5-32.

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Meredith Edgar Amnesia. 7pm, free.

Jack Gilder, Kevin Bemhagen, Richard Mandel and friends Plough and Stars. 9pm, free.

Paulo Presotto and the Ziriguidum Project Coda. 9pm, $7.

Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, Lady A and Her Heeldraggers Amnesia. 9pm, $7-10.

DANCE CLUBS

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

Dub Mission Elbo Room. 9pm, $6. Dub, roots, and classic dancehall with Kush Arora, MC Zulu, Spit Brothers, and DJ Sep.

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.

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

MONDAY 12

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

BluesMix Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $15.

Elliott Brood, Rosi Golan, Wooden Sky Café du Nord. 8pm, $10.

Burmese, Javelina, Waylon Genocide Elbo Room. 9pm, $5.

Shawn Colvin Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8pm, $30.

Sean Kingston, Flo Rida, New Boyz, Jaiko Warfield. 8pm, $35-40.

Sean McArdle, James Finch Jr., Caught in Motion Club Waziema, 543 Divisadero, SF; (415) 999-4061. 8pm, free.

Mono, Maserati Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $15.

Nomeansno, Triclops! Independent. 8pm, $15.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

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

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Toshio Hirano Amnesia. 8:30pm, free.

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!

Death Guild DNA Lounge. 9:30pm, $3-5. Goth, industrial, and synthpop with Decay, Joe Radio, Melting Girl, Miz Margo, and Lexor.

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 13

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Bell X1 Independent. 8pm, $15.

Shawn Colvin Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8pm, $30.

Frankenstein L.I.V.S., Ashtray, Just Head Knockout. 10pm, free.

Craig Horton Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $15.

Junior Boys, Circlesquare Mezzanine. 9pm, $18.

Kid Congo Powers and the Pink Monkeybirds, Bridez, Baths Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $10.

Juliette Lewis, Ettes, American Bang Slim’s. 8pm, $16.

Pogues, Devotchka, Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss Warfield. 8pm, $47.50-69.50.

Subdudes, Jimmy Sweetwater and Craig Ventresco Great American Music Hall. 7:30pm, $21.

Sunny Day Real Estate Fillmore. 8pm, $27.50.

A Wilhelm Scream, Living With Lions, Riot Before, Heartsounds Thee Parkside. 8pm, $10.

Yellow Dress, Lime Colony, Passenger and Pilot, JJ Schultz Band Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $8.

Yogoman Burning Band, Makru, Slow Trucks Café du Nord. 9:30pm, $10.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

Dave Parker Quintet Rasselas Jazz. 8pm.

"Jazz Mafia Tuesdays" Coda. 9pm, $7. With Spaceheater’s Blast Furnace.

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

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

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

DANCE CLUBS

Alcoholocaust Presents Argus Lounge. 9pm. With DJs What’s His Fuck, Lightnin’ Jeff G., and Damage Case.

Drunken Monkey Annie’s Social Club. 9pm, free. Random tunes and chaos with DJ Reptile.

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.

Latin Biatz Elbo Room. 9pm, $5. Funk, hip-hop, and Latin with Funky C, Joya, and DJ C-Funk.

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.

Film listings

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Film listings are edited by Cheryl Eddy. Reviewers are Kimberly Chun, Michelle Devereaux, Max Goldberg, Dennis Harvey, Johnny Ray Huston, Louis Peitzman, Lynn Rapoport, Ben Richardson, Matt Sussman, and Laura Swanbeck. The film intern is Fernando F. Croce. For rep house showtimes, see Rep Clock. For first-run showtimes, see Movie Guide.

MILL VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL

The 32nd Mill Valley Film Festival runs October 8-18 at the Century Cinema, 41 Tamal Vista, Corte Madera; CinéArts@Sequoia, 25 Throckmorton, Mill Valley; 142 Throckmorton Theatre, 142 Throckmorton, Mill Valley; and Smith Rafael Film Center, 1118 Fourth St, San Rafael. Tickets (most shows $12.50) available by calling 1-877-874-MVFF or visiting www.mvff.org. For commentary, see article at www.sfbg.com. All times p.m. unless otherwise noted.

THURS/8

Sequoia The Boys Are Back 7 and 7:15. The Road 9:40.

Smith Rafael Precious: Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire 7.

FRI/9

Sequoia An Education 6:30. Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie 6:45. The Bass Player: A Song for Dad 9. Ricky 9:15.

Smith Rafael Aching Hearts 6. Bomber 6:30. "Spotlight on Clive Owen: Croupier" 7. Eat the Sun 8:30. Original 8:45.

SAT/10

Sequoia Ricky Rapper 1:30. Breath Made Visible 2. Race to Nowhere 3:30. Awakening from Sorrow 4:30. Here and There 6. Soundtrack for a Revolution 7. Fish Tank 8:30. Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench 9:30.

Smith Rafael The Ten Lives of Titanic the Cat 1. Stalin Thought of You 1:15. Miracle in a Box: A Piano Reborn 3. Four of a Kind 3:30. Aching Hearts 3:45. "Tribute to Uma Thurman: Motherhood" 6. Original 6:15. Passengers 6:30. Superstar 8:30. Imbued 9. Dark and Stormy Night 9:15.

Throck Zombie Girl: The Movie 1. Concert for a Revolution 9:30.

SUN/11

Sequoia Stella and the Star of the Orient 10:30am. Homegrown 1. Jim Thorpe, the World’s Greatest Athlete 1:15. Ricky 3:30. Icons Among Us: jazz in the present tense 4. Tapped 6. Motherhood 6:30. The Maid 8:15. Sorry, Thanks 9.

Smith Rafael The Letter for the King 12:30. Shylock 1:15. "New Movies Lab: Girl Geeks" 1. "Insight: Henry Selick and the Art of Coraline" 3:15. Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench 3:30. The Red Machine 3:45. Elevator 5:30. The Private Lives of Pippa Lee 5:45. Room and a Half 6. The Bass Player: A Song for Dad 7:30. The Eclipse 8:15. Imbued 9.

Throck "Children’s FilmFest Party" 12:30. "Live Show: Jazz Icons Among Us" 8.

MON/12

Sequoia "5@5: America is Not the World" (shorts program) 5. Barking Water 6. Storm 6:45. The Private Lives of Pippa Lee 7. Four of a Kind 8. Sparrow 9:30.

Smith Rafael Room and a Half 4. The Red Machine 4:30. "5@5: Oscillate Wildly" (shorts program) 5. Breath Made Visible 6:45. Linoleum 7. Jermal 7:15. A Year Ago in Winter 9. Here and There 9:15. Sorry, Thanks 9:30.

TUES/13

Cinema Youth in Revolt 7.

Sequoia "5@5: The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get" (shorts program) 5. The Horse Boy 6:30. Skin 6:45. Fish Tank 9. Passengers 9:15.

Smith Rafael "5@5: Sister I’m a Poet" 5. Pierrot le fou 6. HomeGrown 6:45. Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie 7. Shameless 8:45. Superstar 9. The Maid 9:15.

OPENING

The Boys Are Back "Inspired by a true story," as its poster trumpets, The Boys Are Back is truly all about inspiration. It hopes to propel its parenting-age demographic to be their better selves, wooing them with elusive shots of adorable, floppy-haired youngsters whooping it up — or at least to make them feel good about their own attempts at child-rearing. Director Scott Hicks (1996’s Shine) positively luxuriates in Australia’s countryside — its rippling, golden waves of grass, dazzling vistas of ocean — in way that seems to simulate the honey-hued memories of an adult looking back fondly on his or her own childhood. But alas, despite some lyrical cinematography, The Boys Are Back doesn’t rise far beyond its heart-tugging TV movie material. Clive Owen is a sports writer who finds his life torn asunder when his wife dies of cancer: like a true sportsman, he’s game to the task of learning to care, solo, for the scrumptiously shaggy 7-year-old Arthur (Nicholas McAnulty) as best he can — all is permissible in his household except swearing and do whatever dad says. And when his guarded older son Harry (George MacKay) jets in from boarding school in England, it’s as if The Dangerous Book for Boys has come to cinematic fruition, with a few mildly tough lessons to boot. Owen does his best to transfigure that scary, albeit sexy, rage lurking behind blue eyes into the stuff of parental panic, but for half the audience at least, that can’t save this feel-gooder designed for women about a man among boys. The gender breakdown at my screening could be encapsulated by the woman quietly sobbing at the start and the man gently snoring through two-thirds. (1:45) California, Embarcadero. (Chun)

Chelsea on the Rocks Abel Ferrara’s first documentary should be a sure thing: a storied New York extremist contemplates the place where others before him went to push the edge in a kind of ritualized bohemia. The Chelsea Hotel is a long poem of death at an early age, with a registry that includes Dylan Thomas’s chasers, Harry Smith’s debts, Warhol’s superstars, Leonard Cohen and Janis Joplin in a room, and Sid and Nancy at the end. One doesn’t expect a straight-laced historical record from the prowling Ferrara; what disappoints about Chelsea on the Rocks isn’t the film’s loose, marinating narration, but rather Ferrara’s refusal to pursue any conversational threads past a convivial but stultifying, "No fucking way." One wants more of the longtime residents’ molasses-slow anecdotes and further investigation of their own private Xanadus. The film is a fount of New York conversation, but it’s also teeming with irritating "wish you were here" postcards from a bygone underground. The question isn’t one of self-regard — the Chelsea wouldn’t exist without it — so much as editing. Milos Foreman’s Cheshire grin is fun, but do we really need to watch him network with Julian Schnabel’s daughter? At the heart of Chelsea on the Rocks is a fairly conventional underdog story: longtime manager and patron Stanley Bard has been cut out by a new board looking to cash in on the Chelsea’s legend, leaving the "real" bohemians in the lurch. But then, pace Ethan Hawke, hasn’t this hipster haunted house been cannibalizing its own past all along? (1:28) Lumiere, Shattuck. (Goldberg)

Couples Retreat Vince Vaughn heads up an ensemble cast in this comedy about four couples who unwittingly vacation at a resort for couples who need relationship therapy. (1:47) Grand Lake, Marina.

Eating Out 3: All You Can Eat A third entry in the low-budget gay franchise that goes mano-a-mano for crassness with mainstream teen sex comedies, this latest ages past even collegiate youth. That’s doubtless due to the expired jeune-fille status of series fave Rebekah Kochan, whose character Tiffani is a bitchy, potty-mouthed, horndoggie drag queen improbably inhabiting the person of an actual heterosexual born-female. Who operates a nail shop in West Hollywood, yet. That she bears no resemblance to credible real-world womanhood doesn’t entirely erase the line-snapping panache of Kochan herself, a gifted comedienne. If only she had better material to work with. After a truly horrific opening reel — duly tasteless but so, so unfunny — director Glenn Gaylord (is that really his name?) and scenarist Phillip J. Bartell’s sequel mercifully goes from rancid to semisweet. There’s little surprise in the Tiffani-assisted pursuit of slightly nelly dreamboat Zack (Chris Salvatore) by pseudo-nerdy, equally bodyfat-deprived new kid in town Casey (Daniel Skelton). But there is a pretty amusing climax involving a three-way (theoretically four) recalling the original’s hilarious phone-sex-coaching highlight. (1:23) Roxie. (Harvey)

*Paranormal Activity In this ostensible found-footage exercise, Katie (Katie Featherson) and Micah (Micah Sloat) are a young San Diego couple whose first home together has a problem: someone, or something, is making things go bump in the night. In fact, Katie has sporadically suffered these disturbances since childhood, when an amorphous, not-at-reassuring entity would appear at the foot of her bed. Skeptical technophile Micah’s solution is to record everything on his primo new video camera, including a setup to shoot their bedroom while they sleep — surveillance footage sequences that grow steadily more terrifying as incidents grow more and more invasive. Like 1999’s The Blair Witch Project, Oren Peli’s no-budget first feature may underwhelm mainstream genre fans who only like their horror slick and slasher-gory. But everybody else should appreciate how convincingly the film’s very ordinary, at times annoying protagonists (you’ll eventually want to throttle Micah, whose efforts are clearly making things worse) fall prey to a hostile presence that manifests itself in increments no less alarming for being (at first) very small. When this hits DVD, you’ll get to see the original, more low-key ending (the film has also been tightened up since its festival debut two years ago). But don’t wait — Paranormal‘s subtler effects will be lost on the small screen. Not to mention that it’s a great collective screaming-audience experience. (1:39) Metreon. (Harvey)

*A Serious Man You don’t have to be Jewish to like A Serious Man — or to identify with beleaguered physics professor Larry Gopnik (the grandly aggrieved Michael Stuhlbarg), the well-meaning nebbishly center unable to hold onto a world quickly falling apart and looking for spiritual answers. It’s a coming of age for father and son, spurred by the small loss of a radio and a 20-dollar bill. Larry’s about-to-be-bar-mitzvahed son is listening to Jefferson Airplane instead of his Hebrew school teachers and beginning to chafe against authority. His daughter has commandeered the family bathroom for epic hair-washing sessions. His wife is leaving him for a silkily presumptuous family friend and has exiled Larry to the Jolly Roger Motel. His failure-to-launch brother is a closeted mathematical genius and has set up housekeeping on his couch. Larry’s chances of tenure could be spoiled by either an anonymous poison-pen writer or a disgruntled student intent on bribing him into a passing grade. One gun-toting neighbor vaguely menaces the borders of his property; the other sultry nude sunbather tempts with "new freedoms" and high times. What’s a mild-mannered prof to do, except envy Schrodinger’s Cat and approach three rungs of rabbis in his quest for answers to life’s most befuddling proofs? Reaching for a heightened, touched-by-advertising style that recalls Mad Men in look and Barton Fink (1991) in narrative — and stooping for the subtle jokes as well as the ones branded "wide load" — the Coen Brothers seem to be turning over, examining, and flirting with personally meaningful, serious narrative, though their Looney Tunes sense of humor can’t help but throw a surrealistic wrench into the works. (1:45) Embarcadero. (Chun)

The Wedding Song Continuing the examination of Muslim-Jewish tensions and female sexuality that she started in La Petit Jerusalem (2005), writer-director Karin Albou’s sophomore feature places the already volatile elements in the literally explosive terrain of World War II. Set in Tunis in 1942, it charts the relationship between Nour (Olympe Borval), a young Arab woman engaged to her handsome cousin, and Myriam (Lizzie Brocheré), the outspoken Jew she’s known since childhood. Bombs rain down from the sky and toxic Nazi propaganda fills the air, but to Albou the most trenchant conflict lies between the two heroines, who bond over their place in an oppressive society while secretly pining for each other’s lives and loves. Jettisoning much of the didacticism that weighted down her previous film, Albou surveys the mores, rituals, and connections informing the thorny politics of female identity with an assured eye worthy of veteran feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta (1986’s Rosa Luxemburg). (1:40) Smith Rafael. (Croce)

ONGOING

Amreeka Dreaming of freedom and white picket fences in the US, West Bank transplants Muna (Nisreen Faour) and son Fadi (Melkar Muallem) instead get racist slurs and White Castle. Despite being overqualified with previous experience as a banker, Muna must work at the restaurant chain to make ends meet while Fadi struggles with bigotry and culture shock in school. Set in the days following September 11, Amreeka (the Arabic word for "America") details the backlash against innocent, unsuspecting minorities who many labeled as terrorists. Cherien Dabis’ feature film debut is smart and enticing (a sign outside White Castle meant to spell "Support Our Troops" drops the "tr" to display a clever preternatural clairvoyance) and creates a lively debate on immigration and discrimination. Ending with a symbolic dance between two nationalities, Dabis recognizes that while people may be bombarded with empty promises of freedom and hope on the Internet, the real American Dream doesn’t exist online but, instead, in small pockets of the community where a Palestinian and a Polish Jew can dance side by side. (1:37) Opera Plaza. (Swanbeck)

*The Baader Meinhof Complex "The Baader Meinhof gang? Those spoiled, hipster terrorists?" That was the response of one knowledgeable pop watcher when I told her about The Baader Meinhof Complex, the new feature from Uli Edel (1989’s Last Exit to Brooklyn). The violence-prone West German anarchist group, otherwise known as the Red Army Faction (RAF), still inspires both venomous spew and starry-eyed fascinatio; Edel’s sober, clear-eyed view of the youthful and sexy yet arrogant and murderous, gun-toting radicals at the center of Baader-Meinhof’s mythology — a complex construct, indeed — manages to do justice to the core of their sprawling chronology, while never overstating their narrative’s obvious post-9/11 relevance. The director’s far from sympathetic when it comes to these self-absorbed, smug rebels, yet he’s not immune to their cocky, idealistic charms. Cool-headed yet fully capable of thrilling to his subjects’ eye-popping audacity, the filmmaker does an admirable job of contextualizing the group within the global student and activist movements and bringing the viewer, authentically, to the still timely question: how does one best (i.e., morally) respond to terrorism? (2:24) Opera Plaza. (Chun)

*Bright Star Is beauty truth; truth, beauty? John Keats, the poet famed for such works as "Ode on a Grecian Urn," and Jane Campion, the filmmaker intent on encapsuutf8g the last romance of the archetypal Romantic, would have undoubtedly bonded over a love of sensual details — and the way a certain vellum-like light can transport its viewer into elevated reverie. In truth, Campion doesn’t quite achieve the level of Keats’ verse with this somber glimpse at the tubercular writer and his final love, neighbor Fanny Brawne. But she does bottle some of their pale beauty. Less-educated than the already respected young scribe, Brawne nonetheless may have been his equal in imagination as a seamstress, judging from the petal-bonneted, ruffled-collar ensembles Campion outfits her in. As portrayed by the soulful-eyed Abbie Cornish, the otherwise-enigmatic, plucky Brawne is the singularly bright blossom ready to be wrapped in a poet’s adoration, worthy of rhapsody by Ben Whishaw’s shaggily, shabbily puppy-dog Keats, who snatches the preternaturally serene focus of a fine mind cut short by illness, with the gravitational pull of a serious indie-rock hottie. The two are drawn to each other like the butterflies flittering in Brawne’s bedroom/farm, one of the most memorable scenes in the dark yet sweetly glimmering Bright Star. Bathing her scenes in lengthy silence, shot through with far-from-flowery dialogue, Campion is at odds with this love story, so unlike her joyful 1990 ode to author Janet Frame, An Angel at My Table (Kerry Fox appears here, too, as Fanny’s mother): the filmmaker refuses to overplay it, sidestepping Austenian sprightliness. Instead she embraces the dark differences, the negative inevitability, of this death-steeped coupling, welcoming the odd glance at the era’s intellectual life, the interplay of light and shadow. (1:59) Marina, Piedmont, Sundance Kabuki. (Chun)

*Capitalism: A Love Story Gun control. The Bush administration. Healthcare. Over the past decade, Michael Moore has tackled some of the most contentious issues with his trademark blend of humor and liberal rage. In Capitalism: A Love Story, he sets his sights on an even grander subject. Where to begin when you’re talking about an economic system that has defined this nation? Predictably, Moore’s focus is on all those times capitalism has failed. By this point, his tactics are familiar, but he still has a few tricks up his sleeve. As with Sicko (2007), Moore proves he can restrain himself — he gets plenty of screen time, but he spends more time than ever behind the camera. This isn’t about Moore; it’s about the United States. When he steps out of the limelight, he’s ultimately more effective, crafting a film that’s bipartisan in nature, not just in name. No, he’s not likely to please all, but for every Glenn Beck, there’s a sane moderate wondering where all the money has gone. (2:07) California, Empire, Grand Lake, Marina, 1000 Van Ness, SF Center, Sundance Kabuki. (Peitzman)

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (1:21) Grand Lake, 1000 Van Ness.

Coco Before Chanel Like her designs, Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel was elegant, très chic, and utterly original. Director Anne Fontaine’s French biopic traces Coco (Audrey Tautou) from her childhood as a struggling orphan to one of the most influential designers of the 20th century. You’ll be disappointed if you expect a fashionista’s up close and personal look at the House of Chanel, as Fontaine keeps her story firmly rooted in Coco’s past, including her destructive relationship with French playboy Etienne Balsar (Benoît Poelvoorde) and her ill-fated love affair with dashing Englishman Arthur "Boy" Capel (Alessandro Nivola). The film functions best in scenes that display Coco’s imagination and aesthetic magnetism, like when she dances with Capel in her now famous "little black dress" amidst a sea of stiff, white meringues. Tautou imparts a quiet courage and quick wit as the trailblazing designer, and Nivola is unmistakably charming and compassionate as Boy. Nevertheless, Fontaine rushes the ending and never truly seizes the opportunity to explore how Coco’s personal life seeped into her timeless designs that were, in the end, an extension of herself. (1:50) Albany, Clay, SF Center. (Swanbeck)

*District 9 As allegories go, District 9 is not all that subtle. This is a sci-fi action flick that’s really all about racial intolerance — and to drive the point home, they went and set it in South Africa. Here’s the set-up: 20 years ago, an alien ship arrived and got stuck, hovering above the Earth. Faster than you can say "apartheid," the alien refugees were confined to a camp — the titular District 9 — where they have remained in slum-level conditions. As science fiction, it’s creative; as a metaphor, it’s effective. What’s most surprising about District 9 is the way everything comes together. This is a big, bloody summer blockbuster with feelings: for every viscera-filled splatter, there’s a moment of poignant social commentary, and nothing ever feels forced or overdone. Writer-director Neill Blomkamp has found the perfect balance and created a film that doesn’t have to compromise. District 9 is a profoundly distressing look at the human condition. It’s also one hell of a good time. (1:52) Four Star, 1000 Van Ness, Sundance Kabuki. (Peitzman)

Fame Note to filmmakers: throwing a bunch of talented young people together does not a good film make. And that’s putting it mildly. Fame is an overstuffed mess, a waste of teenage performers, veteran actors, and, of course, the audience’s time. Conceptually, it’s sound: it makes sense to update the 1980 classic for a new, post-High School Musical generation. But High School Musical this ain’t. Say what you will about the Disney franchise — but those films have (at the very least) some semblance of cohesion and catchy tunes. Fame is music video erratic, with characters who pop up, do a little dance, then disappear for a while. The idea that we should remember them is absurd — that we should care about their plights even stranger. It doesn’t help that said plights are leftovers from every other teen song-and-dance movie ever: unsupportive parents, tough-love teachers, doomed romance. "Fame" may mean living forever, but I give this movie two weeks. (1:45) 1000 Van Ness. (Peitzman)

(500) Days of Summer There’s a warning at the tender, bruised heart of (500) Days of Summer, kind of like an alarm on a clock-radio set to MOPEROCK-FM, going off somewhere in another room. Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a student of architecture turned architect of sappy greeting card messages, opts to press snooze and remain in the dream world of "I’m the guy who can make this lovely girl believe in love." The agnostic in question is a luminous, whimsical creature named Summer (Zooey eschanel), who’s sharp enough to flirtatiously refer to Tom as "Young Werther" but soft enough to seem capable of reshaping into a true believer. Her semi-mysterious actions throughout (500) Days raise the following question, though: is a mutual affinity for Morrissey and Magritte sufficient predetermining evidence of what is and is not meant to be? Over the course of an impressionistic film that flips back and forth and back again through the title’s 500 days, mimicking the darting, perilous maneuvers of ungovernable memory, first-time feature director Marc Webb and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber answer this and related questions in a circuitous fashion, while gently querying our tendency to edit and manufacture perceptions. (1:36) Shattuck. (Rapoport)

*Five Minutes of Heaven 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. 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? Alistair, 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. 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 in mind’s eye he keeps seeing his young self committing murder — as witnessed by the victim’s little brother, Joe. 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 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? (1:30) Opera Plaza, Smith Rafael. (Harvey)

*Food, Inc. Providing a broader survey of topics already covered in prior documentaries like 2004’s Super Size Me and 2007’s King Corn, Robert Kenner’s feature taps the expertise of authors Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma), and others to explore how agribusiness’ trend toward "faster, fatter, bigger, cheaper" is bad news for your health, and that of the planet. Corporations have monopolized factory farming, slaughterhouses, and processing plants — and made themselves largely immune from regulatory agencies while creating more risks of food poisoning and diabetes through the use of food engineering, antibiotics, pesticides, and even ammonia. Lobbyists, in-pocket legislators (Clarence Thomas is just one of the many policy-setters still loyal to their behemoth ex-employer Monsanto), immigrant worker exploitation, grotesque livestock conditions, and much more figure among the appetite-suppressing news spread here. This informative, entertaining documentary with slick graphics ends on an upbeat note, stressing that your own consumer choices remain the most powerful tool for changing this juggernaut of bad culinary capitalism. (1:34) Roxie. (Harvey)

*In the Loop A typically fumbling remark by U.K. Minister of International Development Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) ignites a media firestorm, since it seems to suggest war is imminent even though Brit and U.S. governments are downplaying the likelihood of the Iraq invasion they’re simultaneously preparing for. Suddenly cast as an important arbiter of global affairs — a role he’s perhaps less suited for than playing the Easter Bunny — Simon becomes one chess piece in a cutthroat game whose participants on both sides of the Atlantic include his own subordinates, the prime minister’s rageaholic communications chief, major Pentagon and State Department honchos, crazy constituents, and more. Writer-director Armando Iannucci’s frenetic comedy of behind-the-scenes backstabbing and its direct influence on the highest-level diplomatic and military policies is scabrously funny in the best tradition of English television, which is (naturally) just where its creators hail from. (1:49) Lumiere, Shattuck. (Harvey)

Inglourious Basterds With Inglourious Basterds Quentin Tarantino pulls off something that seemed not only impossible, but undesirable, and surely unnecessary: making yet another of his in-jokey movies about other movies, albeit one that also happens to be kinda about the Holocaust — or at least Jews getting their own back on the Nazis during World War II — and (the kicker) is not inherently repulsive. As Rube Goldbergian achievements go, this is up there. Nonetheless, Basterds is more fun, with less guilt, than it has any right to be. The "basterds" are Tennessee moonshiner Pvt. Brad Pitt’s unit of Jewish soldiers committed to infuriating Der Fuhrer by literally scalping all the uniformed Nazis they can bag. Meanwhile a survivor (Mélanie Laurent) of one of insidious SS "Jew Hunter" Christoph Waltz’s raids, now passing as racially "pure" and operating a Paris cinema (imagine the cineaste name-dropping possibilities!) finds her venue hosting a Third Reich hoedown that provides an opportunity to nuke Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, and Goering in one swoop. Tactically, Tarantino’s movies have always been about the ventriloquizing of that yadadada-yadadada whose self-consciousness is bearable because the cleverness is actual; brief eruptions of lasciviously enjoyed violence aside, Basterds too almost entirely consists of lengthy dialogues or near-monologues in which characters pitch and receive tasty palaver amid lethal danger. Still, even if he’s practically writing theatre now, Tarantino does understand the language of cinema. There isn’t a pin-sharp edit, actor’s raised eyebrow, artful design excess, or musical incongruity here that isn’t just the business. (2:30) Lumiere, 1000 Van Ness, SF Center, Shattuck. (Harvey)

*The Informant! The best satire makes you uncomfortable, but nothing will make you squirm in your seat like a true story that feels like satire. Director Steven Soderbergh introduces the exploits of real-life agribusiness whistleblower Mark Whitacre with whimsical fonts and campy music — just enough to get the audience’s guard down. As the pitch-perfect Matt Damon — laden with 30 extra pounds and a fright-wig toupee — gee-whizzes his way through an increasingly complicated role, Soderbergh doles out subtle doses of torturous reality, peeling back the curtain to reveal a different, unexpected curtain behind it. Informant!’s tale of board-room malfeasance is filled with mis-directing cameos, jokes, and devices, and its ingenious, layered narrative will provoke both anti-capitalist outrage and a more chimerical feeling of satisfied frustration. Above all, it’s disquietingly great. (1:48) Bridge, Empire, Four Star, Marina, Oaks, 1000 Van Ness, SF Center. (Richardson)

The Invention of Lying Great concept. Great cast. All The Invention of Lying needed was a great script editor and it might have reached classic comedy territory. As it stands, it’s dragged down to mediocrity by a weak third act. This is the story of a world where no one can lie — and we’re not just talking about big lies either. The Invention of Lying presents a vision of no sarcasm, no white lies, no — gasp —creative fiction. All that changes when Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) realizes he can bend the truth. And because no one else can, everything Mark makes up becomes fact to the rubes around him. If you guessed that hilarity ensues, you’re right on the money! Watching Mark use his powers for evil (robbing the bank! seducing women!) makes for a very funny first hour. Then things take a turn for the heavy when Mark becomes a prophet by letting slip his vision of the afterlife. Faster than you can say "Jesus beard," he’s rocking a God complex and the audience is longing for the simpler laughs, like Jennifer Garner admitting to some pre-date masturbation. (1:40) 1000 Van Ness, Piedmont, Shattuck. (Peitzman)

Irene in Time With a scheduled limited release following Father’s Day, Irene in Time no doubt hoped to capitalize on its father/daughter sob stories of altruism and abandonment alike. Set in modern-day L.A., the film opens with Irene, a neurotic, self-absorbed singer, listening eagerly to recollections of her late father, a compulsive gambler and philanderer whom she nonetheless idealizes. Plagued by "daddy issues," Irene believes that her father’s inconsistent presence has left her unable to form a mature and lasting relationship. When not strung along by a procession of two-timing suitors, she is scaring them away with her manic bravado. Additionally, her fundamental need to recapture her father in the form of a lover (can you say "Electra complex"?) comes across as creepy and borderline incestuous. This self-indulgent endeavor of epic proportions finally descends into soap-opera kitsch when a family secret surfaces (explaining Irene’s pipes but not her grating personality) and sinks further still with a slow-mo musical montage using old footage of Irene and her father frolicking in the surf. (1:35) Opera Plaza. (Swanbeck)

Julie and Julia As Julie Powell, disillusioned secretary by day and culinary novice by night, Amy Adams stars as a woman who decides to cook and blog her way through 524 of Julia Child’s recipes in 365 days. Nora Ephron oscillates between Julie’s drab existence in modern-day New York and the exciting life of culinary icon and expatriate, Julia Child (Meryl Streep), in 1950s Paris. As Julia gains confidence in the kitchen by besting all the men at the Cordon Bleu, Julie follows suit, despite strains on both her marriage and job. While Streep’s Julia borders on caricature at first, her performance eventually becomes more nuanced as the character’s insecurities about cooking, infertility, and getting published slowly emerge. Although a feast for the eyes and a rare portrait of a female over 40, Ephron’s cinematic concoction leaves you longing for less Julie with her predictable empowerment storyline and more of Julia and Streep’s exuberance and infectious joie de vivre. (2:03) Oaks, Piedmont. (Swanbeck)

My One and Only (1:48) Opera Plaza, Shattuck.

*9 American animation rarely gets as dark and dystopian as the PG-13-rated 9, the first feature by Shane Acker, who dreamed up the original short. The end of the world has arrived, the cities are wastelands of rubble, and the machines — robots that once functioned as the War of the Worlds-like weapons of an evil dictator — have triumphed. Humans have been eradicated — or maybe not. Some other, more vulnerable, sock-puppet-like machines, concocted with a combination of alchemy and engineering, have been created to counter their scary toaster brethren, like 9 (voiced by Elijah Wood), who stumbles off his worktable like a miniature Pinocchio, a so-called stitch-punk. He’s big-eyed, bumbling, and vulnerable in his soft knitted skin and deprived of his guiding Geppetto. But he quickly encounters 2 (Martin Landau), who helps him jump start his nerves and fine-tune his voice box before a nasty, spidery ‘bot snatches his new friend up, as well a mysterious object 9 found at his creator’s lab. Too much knowledge in this ugly new world is something to be feared, as he learns from the other surviving models. The crotchety would-be leader 1 (Christopher Plummer), the one-eyed timid 5 (John C. Reilly), and the brave 7 (Jennifer Connelly) have very mixed feelings about stirring up more trouble. Who can blame them? People — and machines and even little dolls with the spark of life in their innocent, round eyes — die. Still, 9 manages to sidestep easy consolation and simple answers — delivering the always instructive lesson that argument and dialogue is just as vital and human as blowing stuff up real good — while offering heroic, relatively complicated thrills. And yes, our heros do get to run for their little AI-enhanced lives from a massive fireball. (1:19) Four Star, 1000 Van Ness, SF Center. (Chun)

*Oblivion 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. 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. (1:33) Sundance Kabuki. (Goldberg)

Pandorum (1:48) 1000 Van Ness.

*Paris Cédric Klapisch’s latest offers a series of interconnected stories with Paris as the backdrop, designed — if you’ll pardon the cliché — as a love letter to the city. On the surface, the plot of Paris sounds an awful lot like Paris, je t’aime (2006). But while the latter was composed entirely of vignettes, Paris has an actual, overarching plot. Perhaps that’s why it’s so much more effective. Juliette Binoche stars as Élise, whose brother Pierre (Romain Duris) is in dire need of a heart transplant. A dancer by trade, Pierre is also a world-class people watcher, and it’s his fascination with those around him that serves as Paris‘ wraparound device. He sees snippets of these people’s lives, but we get the full picture — or at least, something close to it. The strength of Paris is in the depth of its characters: every one we meet is more complex than you’d guess at first glance. The more they play off one another, the more we understand. Of course, the siblings remain at the film’s heart: sympathetic but not pitiable, moving but not maudlin. Both Binoche and Duris turn in strong performances, aided by a supporting cast of French actors who impress in even the smallest of roles. (2:04) Albany, Embarcadero. (Peitzman)

*Passing Strange: The Movie Spike Lee should do more concert films. His records of theatrical events like the all-star stand-up gathering in The Original Kings of Comedy (2000) or Roger Guenveur Smith’s one-man show in A Huey P. Newton Story (2001) are not without the director’s trademark stylistic bombast, yet they show how, when serving the material, Lee’s overheated camera tricks become rollicking rather than overbearing. So it goes with this kinetic filmed performance of the Tony-winning Broadway rock musical, shot during its last two nights at New York’s Belasco Theater. Starting slow but building to a cheering frenzy, the show takes its timbre from the rich rumble of writer-composer-narrator Stew (nee Mark Stewart), who regales the audience with an autobiographical tale of restless youth (energetically embodied by Daniel Breaker), clinging motherhood (Eisa Davis), and burgeoning artistic identity. Performed and directed with celebratory vigor, this is Lee’s most purely enjoyable work in nearly a decade. (2:15) Shattuck. (Croce)

*The September Issue The Lioness D’Wintour, the Devil Who Wears Prada, or the High Priestess of Condé Nasty — it doesn’t matter what you choose to call Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. If you’re in the fashion industry, you will call her — or at least be amused by the power she wields as the overseer of style’s luxury bible, then 700-plus pages strong for its legendary September fall fashion issue back in the heady days of ’07, pre-Great Recession. But you don’t have to be a publishing insider to be fascinated by director R.J. Cutler’s frisky, sharp-eyed look at the making of fashion’s fave editorial doorstop. Wintour’s laser-gazed facade is humanized, as Cutler opens with footage of a sparkling-eyed editor breaking down fashion’s fluffy reputation. He then follows her as she assumes the warrior pose in, say, the studio of Yves St. Laurent, where she has designer Stefano Pilati fluttering over his morose color choices, and in the offices of the magazine, where she slices, dices, and kills photo shoots like a sartorial samurai. Many of the other characters at Vogue (like OTT columnist André Leon Talley) are given mere cameos, but Wintour finds a worthy adversary-compatriot in creative director Grace Coddington, another Englishwoman and ex-model — the red-tressed, pale-as-a-wraith Pre-Raphaelite dreamer to Wintour’s well-armored knight. The two keep each other honest and craftily ingenious, and both the magazine and this doc benefit. (1:28) Presidio, Shattuck, Sundance Kabuki. (Chun)

*Still Walking Hirokazu Kore-eda’s 1998 After Life stepped into a bureaucratic beyond. His 2001 Distance probed the aftermath of a religious cult’s mass suicide. Likewise loosely inspired by fact, Nobody Knows (2004) charted the survival of an abandoning mother’s practically feral children in a Tokyo apartment. 2006’s Hana was a splashy samurai story — albeit one atypically resistant to conventional action. Despite their shared character nuance, these prior features don’t quite prepare one for the very ordinary milieu and domestic dramatics of Still Walking. Kore-eda’s latest recalls no less than Ozu in its seemingly casual yet meticulous dissection of a broken family still awkwardly bound — if just for one last visit — by the onerous traditions and institution of "family" itself. There’s no conceptually hooky lure here. Yet Walking is arguably both Kore-eda’s finest hour so far, and as emotionally rich a movie experience as 2009 has yet afforded. One day every summer the entire Yokohama clan assembles to commemorate an eldest son’s accidental death 15 years earlier. This duty calls, even if art restorer Ryota (Hiroshi Abe) chafes at retired M.D. dad’s (Yoshio Harada) obvious disappointment over his career choice, at the insensitivity of his chatterbox mum (Kiri Kirin), and at being eternally compared to a retroactively sainted sibling. Not subject to such evaluative harshness, simply because she’s a girl, is many-foibled sole Yokohama daughter Chinami (Nobody Knows‘ oblivious, helium-voiced mum You). Small crises, subtle tensions, the routines of food preparation, and other minutae ghost-drive a narrative whose warm, familiar, pained, touching, and sometimes hilarious progress seldom leaves the small-town parental home interior — yet never feels claustrophobic in the least. (1:54) Roxie. (Harvey)

Surrogates In a world where cops don’t even leave the house to eat doughnuts, Bruce Willis plays a police detective wrestling with life’s big questions while wearing a very disconcerting blond wig. For example, does it count as living if you’re holed up in your room in the dark 24/7 wearing a VR helmet while a younger, svelter, pore-free, kind of creepy-looking version of yourself handles — with the help of a motherboard — the daily tasks of walking, talking, working, and playing? James Cromwell reprises his I, Robot (2004) I-may-have-created-a-monster role (in this case, a society in which human "operators" live vicariously through so-called surrogates from the safe, hygienic confines of their homes). Willis, with and sans wig, and with the help of his partner (Radha Mitchell), attempts to track down the unfriendly individual who’s running around town frying the circuits of surrogates and operators alike. (While he’s at it, perhaps he could also answer this question: how is it that all these people lying in the dark twitching their eyeballs haven’t turned into bed-sore-ridden piles of atrophied-muscle mush?) Director Jonathan Mostow (2003’s Terminator 3) takes viewers through the twists and turns at cynically high velocity, hoping we won’t notice the unsatisfying story line or when things stop making very much sense. (1:44) Empire, 1000 Van Ness, Sundance Kabuki. (Rapoport)

Toy Story and Toy Story 2 Castro, Grand Lake, 1000 Van Ness, SF Center, Sundance Kabuki.

*We Live in Public Documentarian Ondi Timoner (2004’s DiG!) turns her camera on a longtime acquaintance, internet pioneer Josh Harris, as talented and maddening a subject as DiG! trainwreck Anton Newcombe. From the internet’s infancy, Harris exhibited a creative and forward-thinking outlook that seized upon the medium’s ability to allow people to interact virtually (via chat rooms) and also to broadcast themselves (via one of the internet’s first "television" stations). Though he had an off-putting personality — which sometimes manifested itself in his clown character, "Luvvy" (drawn from the TV-obsessed Harris’ love for Gilligan’s Island) — he racked up $80 million. Some of those new-media bucks went into his art project, "Quiet," an underground bunker stuffed full of eccentrics who allowed themselves to be filmed 24/7. Later, he and his girlfriend moved into a Big Brother-style apartment that was outfitted with dozens of cameras; unsurprisingly, the relationship crumbled under such constant surveillance. His path since then has been just as bizarre, though decidedly more low-tech (and far less well-funded). Though I’m not entirely sold on Timoner’s thesis that Harris’ experiments predicted the current social-networking obsession, her latest film is fascinating, and crafted with footage that only someone who was watching events unfurl first-hand could have captured. (1:30) Roxie. (Eddy)

Whip It What’s a girl to do? Stuck in small town hell, Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page), the gawky teen heroine of Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, Whip It, faces a pressing dilemma — conform to the standards of stifling beauty pageantry to appease her mother or rebel and enter the rough-and tumble world of roller derby. Shockingly enough, Bliss chooses to escape to Austin and join the Hurl Scouts, a rowdy band of misfits led by the maternal Maggie Mayhem (Kristin Wiig) and the accident-prone Smashley Simpson (Barrymore). Making a bid for grrrl empowerment, Bliss dawns a pair of skates, assumes the moniker Babe Ruthless, and is suddenly throwing her weight around not only in the rink, but also in school where she’s bullied. Painfully predictable, the action comes to a head when, lo and behold, the dates for the Bluebonnet Pageant and the roller derby championship coincide. At times funny and charming with understated performances by Page and Alia Shawcat as Bliss’ best friend, Whip It can’t overcome its paper-thin characters, plot contrivances, and requisite scenery chewing by Jimmy Fallon as a cheesy announcer and Juliette Lewis as a cutthroat competitor. (1:51) 1000 Van Ness, Presidio, SF Center, Sundance Kabuki. (Swanbeck)

A Woman in Berlin As titles go, A Woman in Berlin is rather vague. A clearer option, to borrow from a popular children’s books series, would be A Series of Unfortunate Events. Based on a true story published anonymously by, well, a woman in Berlin, the film recounts the tribulations faced by German women at the end of World War II. As the Russian army occupies Berlin, these ladies must defend themselves against rape and domination while they await their husbands’ return. It’s a dark chapter in history—and a frequently forgotten one at that. But though A Woman in Berlin may be an important film, it’s not a good one. Without the cinematic flair required to handle a story of this magnitude, writer-director Max Färberböck turns the movie into something monotonous and draining. The characters are morally ambiguous but not interesting; the plot is depressing but tedious. I’m reminded of a quote from The History Boys (2006), another film that touches on (albeit briefly) the atrocities of the second world war: "How do I define history? It’s just one fuckin’ thing after another." (2:11) Four Star. (Peitzman)

*Zombieland First things first: it’s clever, but it ain’t no Shaun of the Dead (2004). That said, Zombieland is an outstanding zombie comedy, largely thanks to Woody Harrelson’s performance as Tallahassee, a tough guy whose passion for offing the undead is rivaled only by his raging Twinkie jones. Set in a world where zombies have already taken over (the beginning stages of the outbreak are glimpsed only in flashback), Zombieland presents the creatures as yet another annoyance for Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg, who’s nearly finished morphing into Michael Cera), a onetime antisocial shut-in who has survived only by sticking to a strict set of rules (the "double tap," or always shooting each zombie twice, etc.) This odd couple meets a sister team (Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin), who eventually lay off their grifting ways so that Columbus can have a love interest (in Stone) and Tallahassee, still smarting from losing a loved one to zombies, can soften up a scoch by schooling the erstwhile Little Miss Sunshine in target practice. Sure, it’s a little heavy on the nerd-boy voiceover, but Zombieland has just enough goofiness and gushing guts to counteract all them brrraiiinss. (1:23) 1000 Van Ness, Shattuck, Sundance Kabuki. (Eddy)

REP PICKS

*"Pink Cinema Revolution: The Radical Films of Koji Wakamatsu" See article at www.sfbg.com. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Now read this

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From Jack London Square to Jack Kerouac Alley, Dashiell Hammett Street to Armistead Maupin backroom, the Bay’s geography is dotted with ready reminders of its old-school literary heritage. (Meet us on your hover bike at the intersection of Violet Blue Way and Calle Mission Mission in the bloggable future.)

And yet — movie trailer narrator voice here — in a silicon age of textual blah-blah and publisher hype, of writers with a capital "W" and writers with basic HTML, of our virtual reality’s underlying coders and an invigorated zine interest in for-your-eyes-only … well, whatever, word. The pleasures of the text surround us, and a flock of new voices is always chirping in the wings.

We wanted to take advantage of the happy confluence of two major Bay literary events — celebrity-studded reading avalanche LitQuake (Oct. 9-17, www.litquake.org) and the thrilling, youth-oriented showcase Living Word Festival (Oct. 8-18, www.youthspeaks.org) — to highlight some writers participating in each, and a few local others we dig, like poet Arisa White, comics artist Eric Haven, and the cheeky Peter magazinesters. We also toss in the winners of our LIT123 contest. Garnishing our locavore word salad is our cover image from Steve Rotman’s excellent new San Francisco Street Art (Prestel Publishing, 91 pages, $14.95). Grab your silver metafork and dig in.

>The monster: An excerpt from El Monstruo by John Ross

>>Bon voyage! An excerpt from Termite Parade by Joshua Mohr

>>Bay writes: Winners of our first LIT123 contest

>>Word alive: Selections from fresh young voices

>>A poem by Arisa White

>>Fine quintet: Four provocative haikus and a tanaka

>>An interview with comics artist Eric Haven

>>An interview with street art photographer Steve Rotman

>>The men behind Peter magazine

Editor’s Notes

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Tredmond@sfbg.com

The folks at SEIU Local 1021 have been getting the mayor’s panties in a bunch lately — and it’s caused Newsom to make something of an ass of himself.

The union, which represents city employees, is still seething about the mayor’s failure to follow through on a deal he cut during the summer budget crunch. The way it was supposed to work, the union members gave $38 million in concessions, and Newsom agreed to hold off on major layoffs until this November — when he was going to support a measure to raise new revenue for San Francisco.

That never happened, and the layoff notices — more than 600 of them — have gone out, mostly to women of color who work on the front lines in the Department of Public Health. At the same time, the city’s forcing some skilled workers into lower-paid job classifications, in essence slicing their pay by more than 20 percent.

So the union put out a flyer demanding that Newsom stop the layoffs — and when a Local 1021 member handed it to the mayor at an event Sept. 28, Newsom went ballistic. According to union member (and certified nursing assistant assistant) Evalyn Morales, the mayor "said, ‘this is a lie,’" referring to the flyer. He then went on to say: "I don’t want to do anything to deal with the union. I hate Robert [SEIU organizer Robert Haaland]. What you’re doing now is hurting me … I hate Robert. I don’t want to do anything for the union."

Which is all too typical of how Newsom responds to criticism — particularly when the critics are going around to his gubernatorial campaign events and reminding people that this is the mayor who, like (Republican) Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, produced an all cuts, no-new-taxes budget. He gets pissy. He loses his shit. He looks like … well, like someone who isn’t quite ready to be the governor of the nation’s most populous and probably most complex and contentious state.

Wake up, City Hall – and get moving on CCA

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EDITORIAL San Francisco’s chance to create a semblance of public power, through community choice aggregation, faces a devastating threat from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. — and the city needs to move with a sense of real urgency to get this program off the ground.

CCA would allow San Francisco to buy electric power in bulk and sell it to customers at a reduced cost. It wouldn’t create a true public-power system — PG&E would still own the transmission facilities. And while customers would see price breaks, the city wouldn’t make much money off the deal. But it would be a major step toward breaking PG&E’s illegal monopoly.

The giant private utility desperately wants to avoid that, but right now its options are limited: The state law that authorizes CCAs, written by then-state Sen. Carole Migden (D-San Francisco), bars utilities from interfering with or trying to shoot down community attempts are creating the buying coops. So PG&E is paying to collect signatures for a statewide ballot initiative that would mandate a two-thirds vote before any city, county, or public agency can attempt to create or expand a public-power utility.

We all know what the two-thirds vote requirement has done in Sacramento — it’s paralyzed the Legislature. The PG&E initiative would do the same thing, making it almost impossible for any community to get rid of the dirty, high-priced power the utility peddles.

It’s going to take a huge statewide effort to defeat that initiative, and San Francisco — the only city with a federal mandate for public power — ought to be leading the way. Sup. Ross Mirkarimi has been pushing the issue, and the supervisors have passed a resolution opposing the measure. That’s a start, but city officials need to do a lot more. We suspect the initiative may violate Midgden’s law — by any reasonable standard, PG&E is interfering with the rights of local government here — and San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera is investigating the issue. He needs to move aggressively and quickly to determine whether the city has a legal case that could get the measure thrown off the ballot. If so, he needs to connect with city attorneys in other public-power cities and launch a full-scale legal assault.

But if it looks as if a legal strategy won’t fly. Herrera, Mayor Gavin Newsom, the city’s state Legislative delegation and every other elected official in San Francisco needs to be speaking out against the measure — and working to set up a statewide coalition that can raise money to defeat it. The measure can’t be fought just with a few press conferences and statements of support — every public-power city, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Santa Clara, needs to be on board, with a high-profile campaign committee and public officials across the state holding fundraisers and looking to build a war chest in the millions of dollars.

And in the meantime, San Francisco absolutely must be moving at full speed to get its own CCA measure passed, in place and under way before this initiative gets on the ballot. For several years now, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has been dragging its feet on CCA, and General Manager Ed Harrington is hardly making it a top priority. That has to change, now. Mirkarimi, as chair of the board’s Local Agency Formation Commission, is pushing the PUC to get the process moving, and the mayor, who claims to support CCA, needs to direct Harrington to press forward as if there were a hard deadline of next spring for implementation. Because if the PG&E measure makes the spring 2010 ballot, and wins, San Francisco’s program will have to be fully under way — or it will be dead.

Other than Mirkarimi, who is trying to organize statewide opposition, nobody at City Hall seems to be taking this threat seriously. It’s time to wake up, folks — the future of public power, and all the benefits it could bring San Francisco, is on the line. *

Sing out

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superego@sfbg.com


SUPER EGO The only place social constructivism — and its attendant corollary, relativism — can fully fluoresce as a philosophical trope is in poetry. There, I said it. Never mind simply reverse-engineering facts to reach a mere equivocation. The "deep metaphysical vision" that John R. Searle attributes to constructivists in a recent New York Review of Books article is actually a deep metaphorical vision, one in which objects gingerly materialize through the screen door of mental language, sometimes banging open, sometimes clicking locked. Situations arise from their own plots.


See-line woman

Dressed in green

Wears silk stockings

With golden seams

See-line woman


+++


Was this at last our Balearic summer? Did dance music decisively turn from tracky loops to center instead on a sunny little something called "songs"?

"That Balearic era of music was so formative for me. The Stone Roses, Primal Scream, Happy Mondays, and the Verve are some of my faves," Gavin Hardkiss (www.gavinhardkiss.com), one of San Francisco’s classic Hardkiss Brothers, told me over e-mail, limning the baggier side of early rave. "Recently, I downloaded about 100 Balearic anthems from that era. I didn’t like most of them, though, so it’s not like the entire era was golden." As Hawke, a nom du disque he’s recorded under since 1993, Hardkiss has just released a nifty album, +++ (Eighth Dimension), full of sing-along electronic tunes that not only call up past Madchester glories, but also the intricate audio daydreams of Ultramarine and Orbital.

Hardkiss will forever epitomize the ’90s Lower Haight techno scene — graffiti on concrete, stars in eyes. But he’s all grown up now, and his musical complexity is complemented by the simple, practical lyrics of a new dad. "I love to make beats for DJs, but the new challenge became making songs. For this album, I had no audience in mind other than the fans who live in my house, something the family would enjoy listening to over and over. My two-year-old keeps singing my lyrics, ‘You took my money … you took my money’ and that makes me happier than anything."

He also asked several edgy artist friends to create works based on +++ tracks, which will be displayed Oct. 7-16 at Project One Gallery (251 Rhode Island, SF. www.p1sf.com), accompanied by various party events, including an opening shindig (Wed/7, 7 p.m., free), a sharp Honey Soundsystem kiss (Fri/9, 9 p.m., free) and an appearance by brother Robbie Hardkiss (Oct. 16, 9 p.m., free). Gavin promises that the art "isn’t 15 Swiss Army knife emblems."

IN FLAGRANTI


I’ve been creaming my Sergios for trip-disco lately, which stretches and tweaks rare classics without losing the red-light sensuality of the originals. Coming to a similar conclusion, but with original compositions, is Brooklyn "cut-and-paste" disco duo In Flagranti, who’ve developed an entire aesthetic that incorporates slinky synths, ’70s graphic design, bad ad piracy, horny housewives, and tunes that turn on the fog machines all by themselves.

Wed/7, 10 p.m., $5, 18+. Poleng Lounge, 1751 Fulton, SF. www.hacksawent.com

BLACK, WHITE, AND READ


No, not that kind of "read," you queen — the kind you do (or once did) with a book. LitQuake kicks off its citywide verbal smackdown with a "book ball" that hearkens back to Truman Capote’s celebrity-ridden master masques of yore. Mask yourself as your favorite scribe, light a Thai stick, and flip through the night with DJ Juanita More, rappers Khalil & Glynn, and the SF Jazz High School All-Stars. Perfectly, Miss More will also perform Carmen McCrae’s "I’m Always Drunk in San Francisco."
Fri/9, 8 p.m., $19.99. Green Room, Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, SF. www.litquake.org

The plight of the insured

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OPINION How many horror stories will it take before Congress decides to act on the most ignored problem in the present healthcare debate, denials for people with insurance?

In September, San Francisco’s KPIX-TV reported the story of Rosalinda Miran-Ramirez of Daly City, who woke up one April morning with her left breast bleeding and her shirt soaked in blood.

She was rushed by her husband to the emergency room at nearby Seton Medical Center, where doctors found a tumor. Fortunately the biopsy was benign. Less benign was Miran-Ramirez’ insurer, Blue Shield which initially approved her emergency room claim, then denied it, demanding she pay the full charges, $2,791 under the dubious assertion she "reasonably should have known that an emergency did not exist."

After reporter Anna Werner called Blue Shield, the company decided to pay. Big of them.

We’ve seen this act before. In 2007, Cigna denied a liver transplant, recommended by her medical team, to 17-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan of Northridge. After national protests organized by Nataline’s family, community, and the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, Cigna relented — a week too late, and tragically Nataline died.

In a recent interview with New America Media, Cigna’s then-communications director, Wendell Potter, now an insurance critic, noted that "this is not an isolated case. People need to realize that there is a corporate executive who often stands between a patient and his or her doctor. That’s the reality."

Why? It pays. Insurance companies make money by selling policies they never intend to make payments on.

In August, researchers with the California Nurses Association and National Nurses Organizing Committee uncovered previously hidden data on the California Department of Managed Care Web site revealing that six of California’s biggest insurers have denied on average nearly one-fourth of all claims every year since 2002. For the first six months of 2009, PacifiCare rejected 40 percent of claims, Cigna 33 percent.

Predictably, the insurers went ballistic, issuing a stream of denials about their denials. It’s all paperwork, or merely battles with doctors and hospitals, they insisted. These denials don’t mean people are being denied care.

But, they are, every day. The insurers claim the procedure is "investigational" or "experimental" or the policy did not cover that procedure, or the patient had neglected to disclose some prior health problem.

Even if many of the denials the insurers themselves reported to the state are just "paperwork," they are a reminder that 30 cents of every private insurance healthcare dollar is wasted, much of it on warehouses of bean counters looking for reasons to deny claims.

Fortunately, California Attorney General Jerry Brown is now investigating the denial scandal.

But Congress and the Obama administration remain appallingly silent. Too timid to propose the most comprehensive reform — single payer — that would actually lift the hands of the insurers off our necks. Too timid to crack down on insurance company price gouging or denials of care.

Deborah Burger, RN is co-president of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee.