Volume 44 Number 02

No pain, no gain



THEATER Thrillpeddlers, the Bay Area’s Grand Guignol maestros, is having a very good year. Amid an ever-extending run of the gloriously notorious Cockettes’ musical Pearls over Shanghai — the hit revival now shimmying its way to New Year’s Day — opened its 10th anniversary pageant of Halloween-season splatter drama in the perennially spooky sideshow-cool of the company’s tricked-out Hypnodrome theater.

This year, the mix of terror and titillation known as Shocktoberfest features two one-act plays (separated by a little guillotine fetishizing and capped by TP’s signature haunted blackout). The Phantom Limb is a new work in the Grand Guignol style from the luridly clever pen of Thrillpeddlers stalwart Rob Keefe. Set in postbellum New Orleans, the simple but well-laid plot writhes around the enterprising Madame DuCharme (a genial Miss Sheldra), who has recently hung her shingle in the city’s red-light district and opened her den of sin (a churlish piano player flanked by assorted good-natured harlots in period frippery courtesy of actor–costume designer Kara Emry) to Civil War veterans Northern and Southern.

While Yankees may find the service a little on the harsh side, basically everybody gets a roll before they get rolled, since "Mama" (as Madame is affectionately known) flies but one all-inclusive flag over her business, and it’s a fat greenback. A little more than money enters the equation, however, with the arrival of a charming one-armed Yankee captain (the dexterous Eric Tyson Wertz) whose express satisfaction at Mama’s hokum "remedy" for phantom limb itch is such that he levels a proposal at her on the spot — one that points beyond the altar to something slightly more kinky and sinister. The payoff is a scream, and the finale a harmonious, unexpectedly resonant paean to perseverance under adversity.

The Torture Garden, meanwhile, marks another Thrillpeddlers first, being an English-language premiere of a 1922 Le Theatre du Grand Guignol classic: Pierre Chaine and Andre de Lorde’s Le Jardin des Supplices, based on an infamous novel by anarchist journalist and avant-gardist Octave Mirbeau, and adapted for Thrillpeddlers’ stage by actor and Theater Rhino founder Lanny Baugniet. Expanding on Pearls over Shanghai‘s yen for oriental exoticism, Torture Garden posits a decadent Chinese world where torture reaches aesthetic perfection — in the able hands of expert torturer Ti-Mao, played by Baugniet with pure malevolent finesse — and nourishes a garden of exquisite beauty. It’s a world into which a young Frenchman (a dashing William McMichael) finds himself drawn by a captivating but decidedly unbalanced beauty named Clara Watson (a sharp and lively Adeola Role).

The torture is reportedly excruciating but the cast is pure pleasure. At the helm of both plays (and in the part of Garden‘s decorous ship’s captain), artistic director Russell Blackwood is especially sharp in staging this guilty pleasure. If the pace admittedly slackens a bit midway, the story and acting compel throughout, while the company’s macabre low-rent special effects and dependable flash of flesh never fail to satisfy a certain 10-year itch.


Through Nov. 20

Thurs–Fri, 8 p.m., $25–$69

Hypnodrome Theatre, 575 10th St., SF



Solar flair



SONIC REDUCER How to compare beat heads and pop pachyderms? Honestly, if I was given a buck for every time some discriminating music listener told me that this year’s Treasure Island Festival lineup looked much more exciting than Outside Lands’ bipolar program (Os Mutantes? M.I.A.? Was Dave Matthews’ mom-rock presence dampening your fiery fun?), I’d be buying a round of Tecate and bacon dogs for every Mission hoodie hovering near the 22nd Street cart.

Treasure Isle is still a bifurcated fest — but it’s a much more pleasing mixture than Outside Lands’ recent attempt to stir Deerhunter seriousity in with the breasts and boobies that casually tail Black Eyed Peas. Saturday remains devoted to dancier waters; Sunday, to rockier shores — a Coachella model harnessing the pleasures of the dancefloor as well as the ambition of art rock. This year’s slyest move is the way Treasure Isle has inextricably tangled up performers like Girl Talk and Dan Deacon — artists who tap the integrative energy of fans who wanna get in the act, climb onstage, and live the dream that once could only be gleaned at warehouse shows and small, sweaty underground spaces. MGMT is the only curious inclusion on Saturday’s bill: wouldn’t they feel more at home on Sunday, amid the twisted, folkier folk with a mangled psychedelic ‘n’ orchestral bent, à la Grizzly Bear, Vetiver, Beirut, and Yo La Tengo?

Not to take anything away from Flaming Lips, whose new double album, Embryonic (Warner Bros.) dovetails savagely yet sweetly with the noise-ier power-points of YLT’s Popular Songs (Matador). And by the way, the Lips have done it again. Namely they’ve found a way to get born once more, just as they have so many times before during their unexpectedly lengthy lifespan — one that vrooms from the indefinable psych-punk of Oh My Gawd!!! (Restless, 1987) and the Alternative Nation pop of Transmissions from the Satellite Heart (Warner Bros., 1993) to the sci-lab experiments of Zaireeka (Warner Bros., 1997) and the back-to-the-future head-space of Soft Parade (Warner Bros., 1999).

This time the Lips look to the planets, randomness, and ’60s utopian rock as their guides for a way to reformulate the old acid formulas, retexturize the beast, and rethink the punk, now finding its latest bright, blistering incarnation in raw blasts of in-the-red, zippered noise and bristling shit-fi grind ("Convinced of the Hex") and immaculate bachelor-pad space-rock decorated with Voyager-like transmissions of mathematician Thorsten Wormann holding forth on polynomial rings ("Gemini Syringes").

If At War With the Mystics (Warner Bros., 2006) went to battle against the forces of religious fundamentalism intent on waging a War on Terror without, Embryonic harnesses the struggle of the child within. Its rough, fragmented brilliance evokes the acid-laced forebears like 13th Floor Elevators, more polished proggists such as King Crimson, generational retro-futurist kin like Stereolab, and free-floating panic-rock innocents such as Deerhoof. Shh, don’t talk to me about the incoherence of Christmas on Mars, though Embryonic falls into the same continuum. It’s a dispatch from the outer edges of nightmares, where "Your Bats" wings its way into the jittery, shattered, shaky guitarism of "Powerless," before accelerating into the motor-psycho rev-ups and -downs of "The Ego’s Last Stand."

The combo continues to make a sonic spectacle of stumbling and falling with grace and gore, trailing bloody rags, hand puppets, balloons, star charts, and tinsel in its wake: "Aquarius Sabotage"’s fairy-dust power skronk and "See the Leaves" apocalypso crunch embody the perfectly incendiary collision between crap-fi with Pro Tool-y tweakery. Embryonic makes the rough endings and hard births embodied by ’09 more weirdly glorious, if not a little easier. *


With Flaming Lips, MGMT, Girl Talk, Yo La Tengo, and others

Sat/17-Sun/18, noon–10:40 p.m., $65–$249.99




Back from a collapsed long and quality time with Qui, sometime-chef David Yow steps away from the frying pan and into the fire. Sat/17, 9 p.m., $25. Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. www.livenation.com


It sounds like a joke — but it’s so not, when M. Ward, Conor Oberst, Jim James, and Mike Mogus, the dudes who aren’t afraid to reveal their soft, pale folkie underbelly, get together. Sat/17, 8 p.m., $39.50–$45.50. Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph, Oakl. www.apeconcerts.com


The so-called "loudest band in New York" takes it up a notch with their tasty Exploding Head (Mute). With These Are Powers, All the Saints, and Geographer. Sat/17, 9 p.m., $12–$14. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Is the truth out there?



FILM Habitual attendees of documentary films in San Francisco might be surprised to see so many familiar titles in this year’s SF DocFest lineup. At least one (American Artifact: The Rise of American Rock Poster Art, which played the Red Vic a few months back) is skippable. Others — like I Need That Record: The Death (or Possible Survival) of the Independent Record Store, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, Off and Running, and especially Johnny Weir portrait Pop Star on Ice — make welcome returns. But the standout film is brand-new to these parts, and since it’s the closing-night film, it screens only once. Fans of true crime, urban legends, twisted suburbia, and serial killers won’t want to miss Cropsey.

For kids growing up on Staten Island — including codirectors Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman — "Cropsey" was the name given to the faceless boogeyman who lurked in the woods, slaking his bloodthirsty urges with disobedient children. (The name spread into popular culture with 1981 summer-camp slasher The Burning, featuring a bad guy named "Cropsy.") Sure, logic dictates that boogeymen aren’t real, but kids of Staten Island might’ve had trouble believing that. First of all, the husk of Willowbrook State School, subject of an infamous 1972 TV expose by a young Geraldo Rivera, loomed nearby; it closed in 1987, years after the horrible conditions within were exposed. Then, that same year, a 12-year-old girl with Down syndrome disappeared, and was found dead a month later. Suddenly, the Cropsey legend no longer felt like fiction.

A multilayered doc that’s clearly the product of a genuinely curious filmmaking team, Cropsey digs into Staten Island’s history to explore the community’s reaction to the tragedy, and to the man eventually charged for it: Andre Rand. Rand’s wild-eyed, drooling perp walk was enough to convince the general public, police, and media (the New York Daily News called him the "Hannibal Lecter of Staten Island") of his guilt. And he was a shady character, a former Willowbrook employee who’d taken to camping out among its abandoned buildings. He also had a history of sexual crimes against children. But, as Brancaccio and Zeman discover, there was no evidence, beyond unreliable eyewitnesses, that tied him to the girl’s disappearance. As Cropsey unfolds in true crime-drama style, fact and folklore become increasingly tangled; the viewer is openly encouraged to consider every angle with equal gravity.

Just as disturbing, but in a marginally less sinister and more overtly entertaining way, is the Johnny Knoxville-produced The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia. Fans of Jesco "Dancing Outlaw" White, take note: Wild follows White’s entire family, all as quotable and lawbreaking as he is, for a year, chronicling births, deaths, jail ins and outs, pill-popping, pill-snorting, public drunkenness, gunplay, DIY tattooing, and questionable parenting (and grandparenting). Fortunately it’s not completely exploitative, though the above description may suggest otherwise.


Oct 16–29, $11

Roxie, 3117 16th St., SF


Camera lucida


Film is not really a medium for perfection — too many moving parts, too much equipment. But then, Robert Beavers isn’t your typical filmmaker. For 40 years, he’s done everything by hand, off in the hinterlands of the avant-garde. It’s not every day, or year, that you encounter a retrospective like SF Cinematheque and the Pacific Film Archive’s co-presentation of Beavers’ 18-film cycle, made between 1967 and 2002, "My Hand Outstretched to the Winged Distance and Sightless Measure." The title is more literal than you might expect.

The evident perfectionism of the films (all blown up from Bolex 16mm to luminous 35mm) and Beavers’ relative obscurity are not coincidental. In 1967, he and Gregory Markopoulos fled the New York scene for Europe, where they could better exact a cinematic language in view of art history. One of the earliest chronological entries in the cycle, "Early Monthly Segments" (1968-70, revised in 2002), dates from these teenage years and threads a beguiling, if fragmentary, ode to love at the limits, filtered through the auburn and aqua scrims of Mediterranean sky and sea, with in-camera effects wavering the eye.

Though most of the "Winged Distance" cycle depends on a uniquely synesthetic coordination of sound and image, the silent "Early Monthly Segments" already demonstrates Beavers’ thrilling capacity for poetic association, mnemonic arrangements, and sensual representations and enactments of the filmmaking apparatus. In later work, the arresting beauty of his cross-fertilized cinematography and field recordings calms the mind; the alliterative rhythms of color, composition, and touch that multiply and encode that beauty make it race.

Besides being, in his words, "protected by solitude and the spirit that came from our dedication to filmmaking" in his life with Markopoulos, Beavers was able to immerse himself in the long trails of European classicism — its painting, music, literature, architecture. Scholar P. Adams Sitney writes of Beavers, "Nothing is more American than [his] fascination with the monuments of European culture." But the elegant still lives of these monuments are endowed with a weirdly interior, hieroglyphic weight that unbinds the visual patterns of tourism, whether aesthetic or geographic. In Beavers’ work, material touch conducts thought, the human body landscape.

Of all Beavers’ inspirations, it is architecture that best helps me begin to grasp his visionary artisanship. As with a cathedral or ruin, his films possess a beauty to behold and one that beholds you: you admire a curving wall, at a distance, and the space itself takes measure of your senses, curving sight and sound.


Thurs/15, 7 p.m.; Sun/18, 2 p.m.; Tues/20, 7:30 p.m.


Pacific Film Archive

2757 Bancroft, Berk

(510) 642-5249


Culture class



FILM Squeezed between cuts to California’s higher education system and the dizzying price of tuition, students can take heart — as well as some bittersweet heartbreak — with An Education. Comfort yourself with the fact that a dearth of classes will leave plentiful time to sample life lessons of an extracurricular, taboo-testing ilk.

The pursuit of knowledge — both carnal and cultural — are at the tender core of this end-of-innocence valentine by Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig (who first made her well-tempered voice heard with her 2000 Dogme entry, Italian for Beginners), based on journalist Lynn Barber’s memoir. Screenwriter Nick Hornby breaks further with his Peter Pan protagonists with this adaptation: no man-boy mopers or misfits here. Rather, 16-year-old schoolgirl Jenny (Carey Mulligan, justifiably earning praise for her plucky, pluckable vulnerability) is a good girl and ace student, raring for the wisdom she’s only beginning to grasp as she sings along with her Juliette Greco LPs.

It’s 1961, and England is only starting to stir from its somber, all-too-sober post-war slumber. The Twickenham home of Jenny’s parents, Jack (Alfred Molina) and Majorie (Cara Seymour), positively vibrates with their parental aspirations and a dank, tea-cozy-ed conservatism. The carefully cloistered Jenny is on track for Oxford, though swinging London and its high-style freedoms beckon just around the corner.

Ushering in those freedoms — a new, more class-free world disorder — is the charming David (Peter Sarsgaard), stopping to give Jenny and her cello a ride in the rain and soon proffering concerts and late-night suppers in the city. He’s a sweet-faced, feline outsider: cultured, Jewish, and given to playing fast and loose in the margins of society, whether he’s installing a black family in a neighborhood to spur a mini-white flight or making off with vulnerable villagers’ heirlooms alongside pal Danny (Dominic Cooper). The two, paired with Danny’s bubbly, bobble-headed girlfriend Helen (Rosamund Pike), are styled as the UK counterparts of Breathless-era Jean-Paul Belmondo and Purple Noon-esque Alain Delon, seductive and stylish scalawags in the know and on the make, taking advantage of the fluid moment.

The pair purveys a sophistication that sidesteps class — and signals a change that extends beyond the borders of Twickenham and London — as David successfully woos Jenny’s charm-deprived parents with white lies that grow increasingly daring and dire. But can you blame the gentle cad? A gamesman and connoisseur, David can see Jenny for the gem she is and appreciate her innocence with the knowing pleasure of a decadent playing all the angles, even as Jenny’s teacher Miss Stubbs (Olivia Williams) battles over her star pupil’s future with protofeminist fervor.

The stakes are believably high, thanks to An Education‘s careful attention to time and place and its gently glamored performances. Scherfig revels in the smart, easy-on-eye curb appeal of David’s gang of outsiders while giving a nod to the college-educated empowerment Jenny risks by skipping class to jet to Paris. And Mulligan lends it all credence by letting all those seduced, abandoned, conflicted, rebellious feelings flicker unbridled across a face reminiscent of those guileless ingénues who came of age in another age: Sandra Dee of Imitation of Life (1959) and Gidget-era Sally Field. This is just one lesson among many, in the life of a girl who pulls back from the precipice.

AN EDUCATION opens Fri/16 in San Francisco.

Secret history



You say that you love women, you say that you love men … but do you love your robot children?

— "Robot Children" by Catholic

SUPER EGO Thanks to the mid-decade rediscovery, by young people at least, of ’70s gay bathhouse disco and the Hi-NRG club scene it spawned, the Bay is back on international electronic music nerds’ radar. Gay San Francisco wiz Patrick Cowley (1950-1982) — the man behind such essential touchstones as "Menergy," "Megatron Man," Paul Parker’s "Right on Target," and Sylvester’s "Do You Wanna Funk" — is now often mentioned in the same breath as Giorgio Moroder in terms of pioneering electronic dance music. Nightlife historians fetishize Cowley’s early ’80s Menergy parties at EndUp, and his unabashedly homoerotic output is embraced as both the prime source and an exciting alternative to all the gay-centric techno that followed.

In terms of retro styles — our digital century’s shameless obsession — Hi-NRG may well be the final frontier. Buried by AIDS, wondrously reeking of wanton gay sexuality, and lodged for decades in the "utter cheese" category of musical taste, it could only become acceptable in our post-rock, pro-gay, retro-viral moment. No one dared touch this stuff before. Now, straight fans get brownie points for enjoying "gay music," gay fans can relish a period previously blacked out by sadness, and everyone looks cool dancing to bang-up tunes they’ve never heard before. It’s a pretty apolitical revival so far. No one’s agitating for our bathhouses to be reopened, and I’ve yet to attend an underground retro disco party that donates its proceeds to AIDS research. But in terms of audio-archeological exploration, it’s a stunner.

Take the story of Catholic, the genre-exploding act Cowley formed with Indoor Life vocalist Jorge Socarras. From 1975-79, the duo recorded a batch of songs that improbably melded krautrock, synthpop, proto-punk, and electro experimentalism with bluntly gay lyrics ("Don’t you recognize me!" Socarras commands on "I Am Your Tricks.") The tunes were so far-out for their time that Cowley’s legendary label, Megatone, couldn’t handle them, and they languished in label head John Hedges’ basement for decades.

Enter Honey Soundsystem who, along with DJ Bus Station John, are our prime bathhouse boosters. When Honey’s members heard in 2007 that Hedges was planning to retire to Palm Springs, they gained access to his literally underground repository and loaded up a truck’s worth of Megatone tapes and acetates. Among the treasure were the stunning Catholic sessions. The rumor of a golden cache of lost, weird Cowley lit up Europe’s rarified techno scene, and the Catholic tapes found their way to German minimalist Stefan Goldmann, who with partner Finn Johannsen decided to release them on their recently formed Macro label. The result, Catholic, is jaw-droppingly prescient and fills in a wealth of subcultural blanks. (You can stream the album at www.honeysoundsystem.com and www.myspace.com/cowleysocarras.)

But there may be a danger here. "This stuff is so much more popular in Europe with the straight crowd," says Honey’s DJ Pee Play. "Of course the music is for everyone, but a lot of gay people here don’t even know that this is their history." Accordingly, Honey Soundsystem, in association with the GLBT Historical Society and others, is curating a special monthlong exhibit called "Megatron Man: The Life and Times of Patrick Cowley" at Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory. The exhibit incorporates memorabilia, audio interviews, and musical tributes inspired by Cowley, sent in from around the world.

Honey’s Josh Cheon has been painstakingly recording the interviews with key figures of the era, including Cowley’s roommate and sister. "It’s been incredibly emotional," he told me. "Everything is still so wrapped up with AIDS. Patrick died of it, and this is the first chance most people have had to open up about that, to cry about it. That’s the bigger story for us as gay people with this music. It’s a resurrection not just of Patrick’s contributions, but of a whole period that’s never been truly brought to light."

Adds Pee Play, "There were so many sprits at work with this project. Just the way everything worked out, we could feel them watching over us. The whole thing — the exhibit, the release, the parties we’re planning around it — we just wanted to acknowledge that. Before it becomes something else, we want to have our time with it, for San Francisco to dance around with the spirits and reconnect."


Opening reception, Sun/18, 6 p.m.–10p.m.;

Exhibit through Nov. 18), free

Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory

1519 Mission, SF.


‘Dead’ is alive


DANCE REVIEW Wonderboy, Basil Twist’s adorably insecure puppet in Joe Goode’s 2008 work of the same name, has grown up. His name is Monroe (Daniel Duque-Estrada), and he lives in a community looking eerily like that in one of Armistead Maupin’s light-hearted Tales of the City. It even includes a wise woman named Anna (Lura Dola) who likes to grow plants. But Goode digs deeper.

Monroe is the hero of Goode and Holcombe Waller’s new musical Dead Boys. He is still scared, but now to the point where he has shut down his emotions. It’s not a good way to be, particularly if you are a would-be writer whose sense of pain, anger, and helplessness paralyzes your work as well as your life. One of Dead’s funniest monologues is Monroe’s raging using performance theory vocabulary, the lingua franca in today’s academy.

Created with and performed by students from UC Berkeley’s departments of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies and Music, the evening-length Boys is a "multidisciplinary mashup of dance, music, and theater," as Goode calls it. At 90 minutes, it takes Monroe a long time to take the risk of perhaps being hurt one more time. Nor is his motivation for the decision — the channeling of one more gay man having died unnecessarily? — all that clear.

Dead is Goode and Waller’s second collaboration, and one can only hope they continue to work together. The wistfulness and wit of their sensibilities are in synch. Waller writes good melodies, but his use of the six musicians is first rate. Often the orchestra makes its own comment on the action.

Dead‘s first act is slow in setting up the characters’ gender-fluid identities. It becomes a background-foreground issue and tends to hold back the work’s dramatic thrust. That could be better balanced. Goode, however, peoples the piece with intriguing individuals: the motor-mouth, bondage-embracing jock (Ben Abbott); the flower child/seer Roberta (Caitlin Marshall); and Monroe’s counterpart, the commitment-leery Carly (Rachel Ferensowicz). Carly’s hilarious go-away-closer duet with transsexual DJ (Megan Lowe) is a jewel of sharp choreography, split-second timing, and valiantly performed vocals. In general, the performances are good; some approach professional-level.

The choreography, mostly for the chorus, is small-scale but appropriate, since it speaks for the unseen — the dead boys. The set (Erik Flatmo), costumes (Wendy Sparks), and lighting (David K.H. Elliot) are excellent. With some work, this show could travel.


Fri/16-Sat/17, 8 p.m.; Sun/18, 2 p.m., $15

Zellerbach Playhouse

UC Berkeley, Berk

(510) 642-8827


The art of biking



CHEAP EATS Earl Butter and me decided there was one thing we wanted to see at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. So I stole my downstairs neighbor’s bike, borrowed a lock from another neighbor … who had to figure out the combination on the Internet … which took time … me thinking …

Can bike thieves get online?

Banking on probably not, I put the heavy lock in my purse, raced to BART without a helmet, almost falling every time I stopped because the seat was so high, carried it up the steps and onto BART, which became crowded, and 45 minutes later had to carry it up even more steps than before.

And when I came up from underground I was almost blown over by the wind. My handlebars were bent at a weird angle to the front wheel, but I managed to make it to Earl Butter’s house without veering into any busses or anything. Then we rode to Golden Gate Park.

The sun was setting. The temperature was arctic. Elsewhere in the Bay Area, houses were falling down. (Well, one did, I heard later on the radio.) On north-to-south streets we would have been blowed sideways into parked cars were it not for the ingeniousness of spokes. As long as we were aiming west, the wind was merely pushing us backward. Which seemed safe enough, except for the blinding sun. I couldn’t see Earl Butter in front of me, and wondered how in the world car drivers would see me.

Still, that’s the way you gotta go to get from the Mission to the park: west. At every other corner or so, Earl Butter would wait for me to catch up. I was so surprised: I’m supposed to be a soccer player. I can play three games in one Sunday, but I can’t ride a bike up a hill.

Six hours later we arrived at the festival.

There was nowhere to lock our bikes. I wished I had a camera, it was so beautiful, bikes totemed onto, around, and up every single signpost and pole, clinging at impossible angles, colorful and Seussian.

"I suggest you lock them to trees," the guy at the gate suggested, but even all the trees were taken, bikes hanging from every reachable limb, strange fruit. It was so pretty. I tried to think of this as an art exhibit, and my reason for coming, since I knew the Flatlanders, the last act of the evening, were already halfway through their set.

We had to do a little bushwhacking, but we eventually found some uncharted trees to lock onto. It was getting dark by then, and I realized I would need two things I didn’t have to get my bike back later: a flashlight and reading glasses. There was some solace in the thought that a bike thief would need at least one of those things, plus Internet access. Or, I guess, a saw.

We found our stage in time to catch four songs, none of which were particular favorites of mine, and then, thanks to full moons and the glow of my iPod, we found and even unlocked our bikes. By this time I couldn’t feel my toes, my fingers, or my nose. And it finally occurred to me that my borrowedish bike had not one single reflector anywhere on it, let alone a light, and that I was wearing all black and was about to die.

Now if there’s one thing you know about me after all these years on the toilet, it’s that I absolutely positively hate to die on an empty stomach. And that’s where Chiang Mai comes in. So once again, my fear of dying hungry saved my life.

Because this cute little Thai place on Geary Street was warm in more ways than one: 1) it was warm; 2) it was sweet and cozy, all a-clutter with plants and cute things and shit, which restored my will to live; and 3) tom yum.

"Medium?" the waitressperson guessed.

I shook my head, said, "Hot as you got."

Side a noodles, cause I knew I’d need the carbohoohaw just to get back out to the sidewalk, let alone home. And now I have a new favorite restaurant.


Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. & 5 p.m.–10 p.m.;

Sat.–Sun. 5 p.m.–10 p.m.

5020 Geary, SF

(415) 387-1299

Beer & wine


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

Perv 101



Dear Andrea:

I guess this is pretty common, but it’s not something I have any experience with, so please bear with me.

I have a lot of fantasies about being tied up, humiliated, etc. and often think about them while my girlfriend and I are having sex. I’m sure you know where this is going, but I’d really like it if she did the tying up and humiliating — but I have no idea how I would bring it up or how to talk to her about it. It’s not like I even know that much about it myself. Should I just forget about it and stick with fantasies? Is it just a stupid idea?



Dear Sure:

I’ll tell you one thing: what with all the "I’m sure you already know" and "I don’t know much about it myself" and "Do you think I’m stupid even to think about this? How stupid? Really stupid?", you are showing a certain natural talent for abjection that I’m sure will serve you well in your new career as a bottom.

This is a perennial topic, and in a way it has gotten easier to answer over time — when I started the column, I had to recommend books (can you imagine?) and about three Web sites I happened to know about (and you’d never find without me because Google didn’t exist). In another way, though, it’s, well, not harder, but more disheartening. A girlfriend who’d never heard anything about bondage and discipline except the phrases "whips and chains" and a few grim episodes of Law and Order in 1997 could conceivably just need a little education and just might jump right in as soon as she knew what you were talking about. A girlfriend who says "I don’t know what you’re talking about, and also, ew!" in 2009 is probably not going to be running down to the Dungeon Hole Gifte Shoppe for a black latex body-bag and a "Gates of Hell" penis cage in your size anytime soon.

It’s possible, of course, that at the very moments you’ve been imagining her stuffing her underpants in your mouth and riding you around the room like Her Little Pony, she’s been thinking "Hmm … underpants, pony, yee-haw." But I don’t think so, and neither do you. She’s probably never given any of this a moment’s thought. But you’ll never know if you don’t try. With a little finesse, s’il vous plait. You don’t want to just suddenly drop to the floor in front of her and go on about how you’re not fit to be trod upon by her rankest gym-shoe and so on — at least, not to start. She’ll think you’ve developed one of those conditions on House that aren’t a brain tumor but make a normal person suddenly say weird stuff. Worse, she’ll think you’ve done something unspeakably shitty, like sleep with her sister.

Neither do you want to run down to Ye Hole yourself and come back with a bunch of expensive, highly specified gear that will only mystify her (and probably you, since you are a mere neophyte yourself).

No, what you want to do is get a little playful while things are already heated up (things do heat up between you two, right?) and give her a chance to see that there’s more out there than the nice, gentle, mutual, equitable sexzzzzzzzz … I’m sorry, I must have drifted off for a moment there … sex you’ve been having. See if you can get her up on top of you, then tell her that you love feeling like maybe she wouldn’t let you back up again. Fun! And see if she thinks that’s ridiculous or at least faintly intriguing.

If the latter, ask her to hold your wrists down. At least you’ll have something to talk about later: "Gee, it sure was fun feeling powerless for a minute there, heh." How about her? Has she ever thought about that kind of thing? Maybe she’d think it’d be fun to boss you around a little, sometime? Don’t get your heart set on the humiliation angle, though — it’s a much harder sell. Anyone can do a little physical control, but far fewer are comfortable with saying a lot of mean stuff to someone they’re used to calling "snugglepuss."

Since we’re now years past having to recommend books to people with outré (or formerly outré) interests, I ought to send you and the girlfriend off to the Web for some Perv 101-level education, but I think, at least to start out, I won’t. Books are safe, they are familiar, and they don’t flash animated gifs of hog-tied ladies getting cattle-prodded. Books never have loud, unexpected sound-files attached to them. Try something like Jay Wiseman’s S/M 101: A Realistic Introduction, or the topping and bottoming guides by Easton and Liszt, which are illustrated with harmless line drawings, like The Joy Of Sex but with less armpit hair. Anyone who is scared of books like these is not going to want to whip you anyway.



See Andrea’s other column at carnalnation.com.

Billboards and blight


GREEN CITY David Addington presents a tempting vision for revitalizing the seedy mid-Market area, a kind of something-for-nothing deal that helps the children, property owners, and residents of the Tenderloin and relieves that burden from the cash-strapped city government.

All we, as San Francisco voters, have to do is accept a few new billboards, which voters banned in 2002 by passing Proposition G. Well, actually, more than a few. More like a cacophony of flashy and interconnected electronic signs and large billboards on top of the area’s 52 buildings. Proposition D, which Addington wrote and sponsors, would allow an unlimited number of business and general advertising signs along Market Street between Fifth and Seventh streets.

"I’m not afraid of signs," Addington says in his Southern drawl as we walk the neighborhood where he owns the Warfield Theater, the old Hollywood Billiards building, and the new Show Dogs gourmet hot dog joint next to the Golden Gate Theater, and where he seems to know everyone from scruffy street souls to his fellow business people.

As Addington points out, this is the most dilapidated stretch of Market Street, rife with vacant storefronts and cheap retail outlets, but bordered by U.N. Plaza on one side and the bustling Westfield Mall and Powell Street cable car stop on the other. It’s a two-block stretch that is neglected and ignored by much of the outside world.

"To change that, you’re going to have to make a dramatic visual presentation," Addington said, laying out a vision of a glitzy, twinkling theater district that lights up the neighborhood and beckons visitors. And the kicker is that by doing so, advertisers would pour millions of dollars of revenue into improving and promoting the neighborhood.

Property owners would get most of that money: 60 percent for most of them, but 80 percent those with street-level theaters, museums, or other interactive uses. "The idea is to create more ground-floor entertainment uses," he said, which, in turn, would liven up the neighborhood.

The rest of the money — and all the sign permits and approvals — would be controlled by the Central Market Community Benefits District (CBD). Some of the money would go to things like a ticket kiosk, some to creating a master plan for the neighborhood, some to beautification programs, and some to youth programs in the Tenderloin, which Addington has used as a major selling point for Prop. D.

"This measure will change the lives of the kids of the Tenderloin next year," said Addington, whose money and vision have garnered significant support from across the political spectrum, including a majority of the Board of Supervisors, much of it locked down before most people even saw the measure coming.

But opponents say problems with the measure go far beyond just accepting billboards as the answer to blight, which is a tough enough sell in sign-wary San Francisco. They note that the measure for the first time usurps city authority over permits and gives it to a CBD, which profits from the signs and has no incentive to put the brakes on. Further, the vaguely written measure has no guarantees for how the money will be spent, or if the kids will indeed get any of it.

"We definitely need to do something about Market Street, but Prop. D isn’t the thing," said Tom Radulovich, executive director of Livable City and the measure’s chief critic. "It’s very disturbing for those of us who believe in public process."

The Planning Department also raises concerns. Planning Director John Rahaim wrote in a scathing July 24 memo that the measure creates vague structures and logistical difficulties and tries to regulate sign content and delegate city authority in ways that may be illegal.

"Such unprecedented delegation of power to a private entity may create the risk of legal liability for the city. Moreover, because of the new powers that would be assigned to the CBD, concern regarding the CBD’s membership, decision-making process, and accountability are apparent," he wrote.

Radulovich also takes issue with Addington’s contention that the measure is needed to restore the luster of the once-vibrant theater district. "There’s no legislative reason to do this if it’s theater marquees you want," Radulovich said. "Prop. D is really about big billboards on the tops of buildings."

Turf war



The signs around Kimbell Playground in the Western Addition announce the field’s closure for construction until April 2010. Although they detail the extensive renovations, there is no hint that controversy swirls around one particular aspect: replacing living grass with synthetic turf.

In 2004, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department issued an assessment of the city’s recreation facilities that estimated the city needed 30 softball fields and 35 soccer fields to match demand from the city’s players. Looking to get the most playing time from existing facilities, Rec and Park officials turned to turf.

Yet concerned citizens, community groups, and environmental organizations are trying to stop the conversion until the impacts of turf are better understood. Both sides say they are fighting for the welfare of San Francisco’s children. City officials tout increased availability of fields and reduced maintenance costs, while activists cite a wide variety of health and environmental issues.

"No one is happy about taking natural grass away," Rec and Park project manager Dan Mauer told the Guardian, "but we’re trying to meet multiple demands with limited resources."

In fact, the department’s steadily dwindling budgets led it to privatize the transition. In 2005, Rec and Park began collaborating with the newly formed nonprofit City Fields Foundation, signing a formal memorandum of understanding in 2006. This public-private partnership determined that without the resources to buy real estate for new fields, putting artificial turf on existing fields was the best alternative.

The transition began in 2006 with Garfield Square and Silver Terrace Playground; the partnership deemed both a success, and pushed for more. In February 2008, voters passed Proposition A, a $185 million parks bond that included $8.5 million earmarked for "park playfields repair and reconstruction." The legal text makes no mention of synthetic turf, but the money was intended to match funds from City Fields for the installation of turf, lights, and other improvements to designated fields.

The project is estimated to cost $45 million, with $25 million coming from City Fields and $20 million from the city. Although cash-strapped Park and Rec department officials stress the financial benefits, environmental concerns prompted the department to create a Synthetic Playfields Task Force in March 2008 with 16 volunteer members.

The task force was charged with evaluating peer-reviewed data on a new generation of artificial turf that improved on the older variety, commonly referred to by the brand that popularized it, AstroTurf. The new turf was less likely to cause injury than its predecessor and could withstand higher levels of play than grass, which takes time to absorb rainfall and must rest and regrow after heavy use.

The Synthetic Fields Task Force identified 11 possible issues of public concern and made a number of emphatic recommendations on how to proceed, including avoiding products with lead and investigating alternatives to rubber infill. Despite this, it didn’t call for a moratorium and conversions continued.

The city has converted four sites, soon to be five, and added lights at a sixth as part of the Playfields Initiative. According to City Fields Foundation spokesperson Patrick Hannan, "These fields have gone from being fields of last resort to some of the most requested fields in the city." According to organization’s estimates, the addition of lights and turf has added more than 27,000 hours of playtime to the first five sites.

Perhaps no one is more enthusiastic about synthetic turf than the sons of the late Gap, Inc. founder Donald Fisher, a regular funder of conservative causes. Bill, John, and Bob Fisher founded and partially funded City Fields Foundation "to give back to the city and provide children with access to the same fields and opportunities they had as children," Hannan said.

Opponents argue that synthetic fields are not the same ones the Fishers played on as children. In January 2008, Pinky Kushner of the Sierra Club sent a letter asking the Recreation and Park Department to suspend the program until "it can be demonstrated that these projects will have no negative impacts on the environment or on human health and enjoyment of public open space."

Her letter references the city’s Precautionary Principle, a policy whereby the city seeks to avoid taking action that might harm the environment even when there is a "lack of full scientific certainty about cause and effect." SF’s Environment Deparment says the principle "does not advocate the avoidance of any and all potential environmental risks." Rather, it "advocates for a public process in which the benefits of an action or technology are weighed against potential risks."

Rec-Park and City Fields are confident the Synthetic Playfields Task Force inquiry meets the requirements. But Sup. Ross Mirkarimi has authored a resolution asking for a moratorium on turf conversion until the state completes a study on the issue. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation in September 2008 tasking state agencies to study the turf question and submit a report by September 2010.

Even if it passes, Mirkarimi’s resolution is nonbinding and unlikely to halt the current conversion of Kimbell Field. But it does have support from activists who believe synthetic turf poses a health risk. In several parks, community members lobbied against the proposed conversions and successfully convinced City Fields and Rec and Park not to move forward.

Franco Mancini, president of Friends of McLaren Park, described how a few residents were initially opposed to the proposed fences and lighting but soon became embroiled in the larger issue of synthetic turf and "playing Russian roulette with our children’s safety."

The new synthetic turf consists of a polypropylene fabric backing, an infill of crumb rubber made from shredded tires, and polyethylene fibers that replicate blades of grass. One of the principal concerns is that the crumb rubber infill, made from up to 50,000 tires per field, contains hazardous materials that pose potential health risks. Other health concerns are the presence of lead as a color fixative and the possibility of zinc leaching into the groundwater.

There are also concerns about what to do with the fields when they wear out and whether particles leach into the environment, problems Rec and Park officials have promised to work with turf companies to address. But so far research into the environmental impacts of turf have yielded conflicting results.

Resident Kelley Watts is concerned the "research is only in the very beginning stages" and compares the situation to the 1940s and ’50s when conflicting research about cigarettes was emerging.

Concerns that turf overheats on hot days led to ongoing moratoriums in Los Angeles and New York City. San Francisco’s mild climate doesn’t create the same problem, although it does have the underlying issue that synthetic turf absorbs heat and replaces carbon-absorbing grass, contributing to what is known as the "heat-island effect," a factor in global warming.

The Athena Institute, an Ontario, Canada, nonprofit, estimates that for the average synthetic soccer field to be carbon-neutral, 1,861 trees would have to be planted and allowed to grow for 10 years.

Kimball Field is in the process of converting but the next project, and potential fight, will be at Golden Gate Park’s Beach Chalet soccer fields next year.

Fighting for juvenile justice



Sup. David Campos’ proposal to amend San Francisco’s sanctuary policy so that the city guarantees due process to juvenile immigrants heads for a full vote of the board next week with the support of a veto-proof majority of supervisors.

Board President David Chiu and Sups. John Avalos, Chris Daly, Bevan Dufty, Eric Mar, Sophie Maxwell, and Ross Mirkarimi have signed on as cosponsors of the amendment, which also has the support of a broad coalition of civil and immigrants’ rights organizations.

But with the mayor opposed to the bill and the daily newspapers agitating against reform, it’s important to remember what’s really at stake here.

As a team of civil rights experts notes, the Campos bill "will ensure that families are not torn apart because a youth is mistakenly referred for deportation and will encourage cooperation between law enforcement and immigrant communities by reestablishing a relationship based on trust, therefore increasing public safety."

Campos, who came to this country as an undocumented youth from Guatemala and represents San Francisco’s heavily immigrant Mission District, says his proposal is a balanced solution to the draconian policy Newsom ordered last summer, without public input, the day after the mayor launched his 2010 gubernatorial bid.

When Campos introduced his amendment this summer, after months of public conversations with law enforcement agencies and the immigrant community, Newsom responded by leaking a confidential legal memo that outlined possible challenges to the proposal.

Angered but undaunted, a group of civil rights organizations responded by issuing their own brief explaining why Campos’ proposal is legally tenable and defensible.

As Angie Junck of the Immigrant Legal Resources Center, Robert Rubin of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, Julia Mass of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, professor Bill Ong Hing of UC Davis Law School, and Angela Chan of the Asian Law Caucus explained, Campos’ proposal "will allow immigrant youths to have their day in court and be heard by an impartial judge, ensuring due process is upheld for all of San Francisco’s youth."

They argue that Campos’ legislation seeks to "lessen the risk that the city will be liable for racial profiling, unlawful detention, and mistaken referrals of U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants for deportation while bringing the city’s juvenile probation practices into compliance with state confidentiality laws for youth."

And as they point out, Campos’ proposal won’t prevent youths who have been found by a court to have committed a felony from being referred to ICE.

"The sanctuary ordinance has stood strong for 20 years, and the proposed amendment strengthens the ordinance by taking steps to bring the city’s practices more into compliance with state juvenile justice law," the brief states. "The legislation is a measured step in the right direction that will help restore accountability and fairness in the city’s treatment of immigrant youth."

Or as Campos put it: "It’s something we drafted very carefully in close consultation with the City Attorney’s Office."


Campos’ amendment seeks to shift the point at which immigrant kids get referred to ICE agents for possible deportation. Newsom’s policy allows the police to refer kids to ICE the moment they’re arrested. That means someone who turns out to be innocent and was arrested in error can still be deported. Campos wants the cops to wait until the felony charge is upheld in juvenile court.

Since July 2008, when Newsom ordered the city’s current policy shift, 160 youths have been referred to ICE, increasing the risk they will be sent to detention facilities across the country, far from their families, without access to immigration legal services, based on accusations and racial profiling.

Abigail Trillin, staff attorney with the Legal Services for Children, told us that the Newsom policy makes San Francisco bedfellows with Texas and Orange County.

"A bunch of our kids go to Yolo County and Oregon, a lot to Los Angeles, others to Miami, Virginia, and Indiana, and some have already been deported," Trillin said.

Trillin noted that Newsom’s policy is destroying families by allowing innocent kids to be reported for deportation without the basic right to due process — often for minor offenses. She has already seen youth who are documented or innocent erroneously referred to ICE by juvenile probation officers, who often lack expertise in immigration law.

She also fears this miscarriage of justice could result in abuse and even death — especially if kids try to return to their homes and families by crossing the border, which has became increasingly militarized and perilous in the aftermath of the Bush administration’s decision to spend billions to build a fence along the border.

Last week, the battle for juvenile justice took a fresh twist locally when Newsom’s newly appointed Police Chief George Gascón said he hoped for a compromise involving third party review by the District Attorney’s Office.

"I fully understand the concerns Campos brings to the table," Gascón said, referring to his previous job as chief of police in Mesa, Ariz., where he saw the anti-immigrant excesses of Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio.

"I have the benefit of seeing the other side, where you have police agencies aggressively engaged in immigration enforcement, where people that were frankly not engaged in any criminal activity other than that of being here without authority, are being deported," Gascón said. He noted that being here without papers often is not a crime; it’s just an administrative violation.

"I’ve seen very young people, people that basically came to this country when they were three or four years old and are staying clean and going to school, get stopped for a traffic violation at age 17 or 18, and now all of a sudden they’re getting deported to a country where they have no roots," he said.

But the chief remains convinced that the criminal justice system needs to be able to use all legally available tools to deal with violent criminal juveniles.

"I’m not saying the district attorney needs to make the reporting. The triggering event could be the determination to file the case," Gascón said. "Frankly, I wish I’d been here a year earlier to deal with this issue," he added, noting that federal immigration hearings are "a kangaroo court."

"It’s not a beyond-reasonable-doubt standard for people to get deported," he said.

"The other side of the coin is that this would be putting people in situations where they could be federally indicted for violations of law. And you also have problems at state," he continued, noting that two federal grand juries are currently reviewing the behavior of the Juvenile Probation Department.


Campos, a lawyer, appreciates that the new police chief is "genuinely trying to see if there is something he can do to resolve the situation. I believe if he had been in place where this discussion was going on a year ago, the mayor would have received better advice."

"The chief’s comments reflect that what is happening here is pretty extreme," Campos added. "I recognize that changing the reporting process to a third party would definitely be better than what we have now, where the final decision rests with a police officer. But while it’s better, it’s not sufficient. Due process necessarily entails giving people their day in court, and letting a judge decide what actually happens."

Sup. Chiu, a former prosecutor, also said he appreciates Gascón’s resolution attempt. "But the point of our system is that once you are arrested and charged, there are due process rights so you can respond to those charges."

Sup. Dufty, a mayoral candidate, said he expects that when the board passes laws, those laws will be implemented by Newsom. "As CEO of San Francisco, he has to comply with all legislation, including local laws the legislative body passes that he may not like," Dufty said.

"My mother was born in Czechoslovakia and was stateless when I was a boy," he added. "She had to register every year as an alien, so this is very visceral for me. If we are to be a sanctuary city, it’s because everyone has due process. It’s denying people’s humanity and dignity and creating a two-tiered system for justice."

But mayoral spokesperson Nathan Ballard continued to assert that Newsom’s current policy is balanced. "While he remains open to argument, the mayor believes the current policy strikes the right balance between protecting public safety and safeguarding the rights of accused criminals," Ballard, who had not replied to the Guardian‘s questions as of press time, told the Examiner last week.

But Trillin says she can’t stand to hear Ballard falsely claim, one more time, that the city is going to shield criminals. "Ballard keeps repeating a completely false position, because Newsom’s actual position is morally indefensible," Trillin said. "You can’t have the mayor publicly say that young people don’t deserve due process, so you have to make up stuff like this instead."

New coach, new approach



The chief was running late. As a group of Guardian reporters filed into his modest, comfortable conference room on the fifth floor of the Hall of Justice, an aide told us that Police Chief George Gascón was still meeting with Mayor Gavin Newsom at City Hall, and that we’d all have to cool our heels for a while.

While we were waiting, Michelangelo Apodaca, a public affairs officer in the chief’s office (he called himself an “image strategist”) stressed the recent sea change at SFPD, labeling it “new coach, new approach.” (It appears, however, that the mayor is still pushing his so-called “quality of life” agenda. “I just came from a meeting where I got beat up for not doing enough about public drinking and public disorder,” the chief belatedly told us.)

But once we got into the interview, Gascón was friendly, candid, thoughtful, and accommodating, and spent nearly an hour discussing his philosophy of law enforcement, his vision for San Francisco, and his positions on some tricky and divisive problems.

We left with the impression that the new chief, although hardly in agreement with us on a number of issues, is far more open than his predecessor, willing to shake things up in the moribund department — and sometimes, interested in discussion and compromise on progressive concerns.

“My philosophy of policing is very heavy in community involvement, very transparent,” Gascón told us.

Gascón said he’s moving quickly on implementing many of the items that he’s promised, such as creating a COMPSTAT (computerized crime and staffing statistics) system that will be accessible to the public. He plans to launch it Oct. 21.

And beyond the technology, he seems interested in shifting the top-down structure of the department. “I said that we would reorganize the department in certain levels and do certain levels of decentralization to increase resources at the neighborhood level so that we actually have people within the police department who have greater ownership of neighborhood issues,” he said. “And we’re going to do that in November. I stated that we would have community police advisory boards at each of the stations, and those basically will be neighborhood-level people, anywhere from 10 to 20, for each station. We’ll work with our local captains on neighborhood-related issues.”

He said that improving how the department does community policing will have a two-fold impact. “One is, the cops get to understand better what the community really wants. The other is that the community gets to understand better what the resources really are.

“Everybody wants a foot-beat cop,” he continued. “Everybody wants a fixed-post cop. Everybody wants a cop in every bus. If we had 10,000 people, then perhaps we could fulfill all those wishes. The reality is that we don’t.”



But the most tangible impact of Gascón’s tenure so far has been his crackdowns on drug-related activity in the Tenderloin, where more than 300 people at a time have been swept up in sting operations, and on marijuana-growing operations in the Sunset District, where 36 locations were raided (four of which Gascón said were discovered to be “legitimate” medical marijuana growers who had their crops returned by police).

The arrest surge generated a lot of positive press — but also is costing the city a bundle. Sheriff Michael Hennessey, who runs the county jail, told us that he had to reopen several jail housing units that had been slated to close to meet his budget for the current fiscal year. He said the average daily jail population in July was 1,861, but that it has risen to 2,146 in September, a 285 inmate increase.

If it stays at this level, Hennessey estimates that he’ll need up to $3.5 million in additional annual funding to house the larger population, as he indicated in a letter that he wrote to the Board of Supervisors last month, letting them know that he will probably need a supplemental budget appropriate this year.

When we asked Gascón whether affected city agencies — including the Sheriff’s Department, District Attorney’s Office, and Public Defender’s Office — should increase their budgets to deal with the SFPD’s new approach, he said they should.

There’s a touch of the corporate manager about Gascón. When we challenged him to defend the efficacy of the crackdowns, Gascón pulled out a pen and paper and started drawing a Venn diagram, with its three overlapping circles. He explained that many criminal justice studies have shown that about 10 percent of criminal suspects commit about 55 percent of the crime, that 10 percent of crime victims are the targets of about 40 percent of crimes, and that crime is often concentrated in certain geographic areas.

By concentrating on the overlap of these realms, Gascón said police can have a major impact on crime in the city. Although Gascón admits that “police can never arrest themselves out of social problem,” he also said “there are people who do need to be arrested … Most of the arrests are for serious felonies.”

It’s a potentially tricky approach — in essence, Gascón is saying that when you mix some people and some places (in this case, mostly people of color and mostly poor neighborhoods) you create crime zones. The difference between that and racial profiling is, potentially, a matter of degree.

But Gascón defended the surge in arrests over the last two months as targeting those who need to be arrested and, just as important, sending a message to the greater Bay Area that San Francisco is no longer a place where open-air drug dealing, fencing stolen goods, and other visible crimes will be tolerated.

“We need to adjust the DNA of the region,” he said.

And while Gascón said the arrest surge might not be sustained indefinitely, he also frankly said that the city will probably need to spend more money on criminal justice going forward. In other realms of the recent crackdown, such as the police sweeps of Dolores Park and other parks ticketing those drinking alcohol, Gascón said that was more of a balancing act that will involve ongoing community input and weighing concerns on both sides of the issue.

It was when we pushed for the SFPD to ease up busting people in the parks who were drinking but not causing other problems that Gascón told us that the mayor had a different opinion and had been chiding his new chief to be tougher on public drinking.

In light of several recent shootings by SFPD officers of mentally ill suspects, we asked Gascón whether he’s satisfied with how the department and its personnel handle such cases. He didn’t exactly admit any problems (saying only that “there’s always room for improvement”) but said he was concerned enough to create a task force to investigate the issue last month, headed by Deputy Chief Morris Tabak.

When we asked if we can see the report on the 90-day review, Gascón didn’t hesitate in answering yes, “the report will be public.”



If Gascón follows through with his promises, internal discipline — one of the worst problems facing the department — could get a dramatic overhaul. The new chief wants to clear up a serious backlog of discipline cases, possibly by reducing the penalties — but claims to be willing to take a much tougher stand on the serious problem cases.

In fact, Gascón said he wants the authority to fire cops — that power now rests entirely with the Police Commission — and said there are eight to 10 police officers on the San Francisco force who should be fired, now, for their past record of bad behavior. That would be a radical change — in the past 20 years, fewer than five officers have ever been fired for misconduct, despite the fact that the city has paid out millions in legal settlements in police-abuse cases.

Gascón also discussed controversial legislation by Sup. David Campos that would require due process before undocumented immigrant youths arrested by the SFPD are turned over to federal immigration authorities, an amendment to the sanctuary city policy that was weakened by Newsom.

Just days after arrived in town, Gascón had made comments to the San Francisco Chronicle supporting Newsom’s position and saying that under Campos’ legislation, “drug or even violent offenders could be released by judges on reduced charges in lieu of reporting them for possible deportation.”

But in the interview with us, while not backing away from his previous statement, Gascón seemed to take a more nuanced position that pointed toward the possibility of compromise. He reminded us that he’d spent time in Mesa, Ariz., tangling with a county sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who has gone far beyond any reasonable standard in trying to arrest and deport undocumented residents. He also told us that he doesn’t think the cops, by themselves, should decide who gets turned over the feds for deportation.

That alone is a significant step — and suggests that Gascón could turn out to be one of Newsom’s best hires.



SFBG Are you still concerned about waiting for the courts to determine a suspect’s guilt before turning him over to the feds? Gascón Yes, it’s very much a concern. And by the way, I fully understand the concerns Sup. David Campos brings to the table.

I have the benefit of being on the other side also, where you have police agencies aggressively engaged in immigration enforcement, where people that frankly were not engaged in any criminal activity other than being here without authority — which sometimes, by the way, is not criminal. In fact, depending on whose numbers you listen to, anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of people who are here without authority in this country have not committed a criminal violation; they have committed an administrative violation.

And people get deported. I have seen very young people, people that basically came to this country when they were three, four years old, they are actually staying clean, they are going to school, and they get stopped for a traffic violation at age 17 or 18, and now all of a sudden they are getting deported to a country where they really have no roots at all. I have seen that, and I’m very sensitive to that.

On the other hand, I think it’s important also to recognize that in any group, whether you were here legally or not legally, whether you were born here or not, whether you are green, red, or brown, there are people that for a variety of reasons aren’t willing to live by the social norms we all need to live by to be able to have a peaceful environment.

I think that allowing the process to go all the way to the point where a judge decides whether to allow this to continue … is probably too far down the food chain for my comfort level. On the other hand, I would not want to have police officers on the streets stopping people and trying to assess whether they are here legally or not.

So I think we need to find somewhere down the middle, that if person is arrested, there is a non-law enforcement review. And quite frankly, probably the best person would be the D.A. They determine whether they have a prosecutable case or not. If it’s prosecutable case and a predictable offense that requires reporting, then that would be a good time where a flag could go up.

SFBG But that’s not the process right now.  Gascón No, the process now is triggered by the Probation Department, which is a law enforcement entity. So I think we have a process where law enforcement is making a decision and Sup. Campos is looking at a process of adjudication.

SFBG It sounds as if you agree substantially with Sup. David Campos. Is there room for compromise? 

Gascón I’m hoping there is room for compromise, that is something we’re trying to work with.

Sarah Phelan and Rebecca Bowe contributed to this report.

Brütal odyssey


>>Read Ben Richardson’s full interview with Tim Schafer here


GAMER "The first time we pitched it, they wanted us to change the genre, to make it about country or hip-hop or something."

Game designer Tim Schafer is sitting in his SoMa office, in his favorite chair — appropriately, a rocking chair — and talking about his masterpiece. "They were saying, ‘Why don’t you open it to all music?’ We said, ‘Look — this is a game about epic battles, good vs. evil, Braveheart-type moments. And heavy metal is the musical genre that focuses heavily on folklore. It sings about medieval combat. It’s really the only genre that makes sense for it.’"

The game is Brütal Legend (Double Fine/EA), and in the end, Schafer got his way. Taking control of Eddie Riggs, a grizzled roadie voiced by Jack Black, the player journeys through a metal landscape inspired by the album covers the designer studied in his youth. Wielding a massive battle-ax and a magical guitar, Riggs encounters righteous friends and fiendish foes, including characters voiced by luminaries like Lemmy Kilmister, Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford, and Lita Ford. The soundtrack is a carefully compiled list of headbang-inducing classics.

Schafer agrees that the game is his most personal creation to date. "All games are wish fulfillments. All games are about fantasy. This is a game where I’ve been able to make my own wish fulfillment. I would like to go back in time with a cool car and a battle-axe while listening to heavy metal."


Growing up in Sonoma, the designer escaped his suburban life by rocking out to Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden. He would drive down to San Francisco for shows, catching sets at Mabuhay Gardens or the Stone. The music introduced him to a mythic world of horned hell-monsters, glistening chrome, and mortal combat, a world he never quite left behind.

He attended both UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley, dividing his attention between computer programming and creative writing, two talents he would later fuse. At Berkeley, he took a class on folklore from Alan Dundes, a provocative professor whose belief in the power of folklore influenced Schafer’s work tremendously. In 1989, he got a job in San Rafael at Lucasfilm Games, now LucasArts. He was assigned to The Secret of Monkey Island, a comedic adventure game by designer Ron Gilbert. Monkey Island was the perfect vehicle for Schafer’s talents, taking full advantage of his boundless imagination, storytelling sense, and biting wit. It is best remembered for its "insult sword fighting" section, in which dueling buccaneers trade verbal jabs in lieu of physical ones.

Mitch Krpata, game critic for the Boston Phoenix and author of the blog Insult Swordfighting, identified the defining quality of Schafer’s LucasArts output via e-mail: "Character. There are a few archetypes that most games go to again and again: silent man of action, easygoing everyman, tormented soul out for revenge. Schafer’s protagonists aren’t like that. They’re individuals. They’re good guys, but they have flaws, and their flaws aren’t things like they just care too much, dammit."


After finishing the biker-themed Full Throttle in 1995, Schafer hunted inspiration. It came to him as an unlikely combination of themes, both closely tied to his San Francisco home. Initially, he was devouring classic noir films at the Lark and Castro theatres. A trip to the Day of the Dead parade in the city’s Mission District delivered the epiphany. The higher-ups at LucasArts had been agitating for a game with 3-D graphics, a prospect he did not relish. "I really hated the look of 3-D art back then, because it looked like a nylon stretched over a cardboard box," he remembers.

Picking through a table of Day of the Dead ephemera, the idea came: "I saw those calavera statues. Instead of modeling all of the bones in papier-mâché, they’ll just make a tube and paint the bones on the outside. I was like, ‘This is just like bad 3-D art. This is great!’"

Additional fodder was provided by doctor visits to 450 Sutter — a building that combines Art Deco architecture with Mayan motifs — and Schafer began work on his most ambitious project to date. Drawing on his collegiate folklore training, he and his team wove together elements of Day of the Dead tradition, Aztec folk tales, and noir cinema to create 1998’s Grim Fandango (LucasArts), a sprawling epic of crime and love in which all the characters were stylized, calavera-style skeletons "living" in the Land of the Dead. Featuring a labyrinthine, affecting story, delectable hard-boiled dialogue, and stunning art direction, it is still ranked among the best games of all time.


Schafer left LucasArts in 1999, concerned that the company would exercise its ownership of his beloved characters without his participation. He wanted to found his own studio in San Francisco. As he told me over the phone, "Working at a company where you can look out the window and see the city outside is just so inspiring. It’s not just about having great restaurants at lunch, though that’s part of it." Starting in his living room "in a bathrobe and flip-flops," the nascent Double Fine Productions — named after a "double fine zone" sign on the Golden Gate bridge — jumped from location to location, including an unheated warehouse with a rodent problem and a toilet that often unleashed an "ocean of human waste" into the office.

The first Double Fine game was 2005’s Psychonauts, an ambitious project about a summer camp for psychic kids that failed to reach the wide audience it deserved. Even in this rarefied setting, Schafer included bits of the city’s lore. A character named Boyd was based on a homeless man who hung out near the team’s offices, doing odd jobs and enlightening the Double Fine crew with his extensive conspiracy theories.

"Sometimes he would just be on a rant about [how] the government would be trying to read his mind using satellites, or using the broken glass in the streets to bend their optics around," Schafer recalls. "He just produced great quotes: ‘I don’t want to be liquid, I want to be a turtle with rockets strapped to my back!’" Deciding to include him in the game, the designer painstakingly created a flow-chart that would procedurally generate conspiracy theories for Boyd to spout onscreen. "He constructs it by coming up with a conspirator, what their plan is, what the victim of it is, and strings it all together with a bunch of coughing and stuff."


Brütal Legend, Double Fine’s latest game, was released Oct. 13, and gamers across the country will have the opportunity to play through the piece of San Francisco folklore most familiar to Schafer: the one based on himself. By making a game about a character transported from our familiar world into an ax-happy metal battleground, the designer has turned his story, the story of a misfit headbanger from a city steeped in metal history, into a new kind of 21st century myth.

Collective growth



MUSIC Last December, Anticon celebrated its 10th anniversary with a concert at the Knitting Factory in New York. It was an emotional reunion. Many fans flew from around the world to see a hip-hop collective that hadn’t performed together since a 2002 concert at Slim’s in San Francisco. Peter Agoston, the event’s promoter, says it took a year to pull it together.

This was a far cry from 1999, when most of the original Anticon seven (along with more than a few couch-surfers) lived communally in an East Oakland warehouse. Tim "Sole" Holland, Adam "Dose One" Drucker, Yoni "WHY?" Wolf, Brendon "Alias" Whitney, Jeffrey "Jel" Logan, David "Odd Nosdam" Madson and James Brandon "the Pedestrian" Best sought to revolutionize hip-hop, injecting the art form with absurdist humor and beatnik poetry. Every month, they held court at Rico’s Loft in San Francisco, performing college radio hits like "It’s Them" and "Rainmen" as throngs of Bay Area backpackers shouted along. Doseone, Anticon’s madcap poet, says, "We were crew, posse, label, brotherhood, and boys-club."

A decade later, Anticon has become a brand and a myth. Baillie Parker, who faithfully attended those Rico’s Loft showcases, became an eighth member, label manager, and co-owner in 2001. Slowly (and sometimes painfully), he steered the label toward solvency, streamlining the collective’s unpredictable adventures into a small business. Then he ceded day-to-day responsibilities to his former intern Shaun Koplow, a student at UC Berkeley. After Koplow graduated, he moved back to his native Los Angeles, and now runs the label there.

Today, Anticon Records is surprisingly durable and stylistically varied. Recent albums include melancholy rock (Anathallo’s Canopy Glow, 2008), wintry indietronica (Son Lux’s At War With Walls and Mazes, 2008) and punchy, synthesized instrumental beats (Tobacco’s Fucked Up Friends, 2008).

Meanwhile, the collective that founded the label has splintered and scattered across the country. Some remained in the Bay Area (Dose One, Jel, Odd Nosdam, and Parker) while others moved elsewhere (Sole in Denver, Colorado; Alias in Portland, Maine; and the Pedestrian in Los Angeles; Yoni Wolf is currently "homeless" while he embarks on a months-long tour). They still own the label and make major decisions together. However, each pursues his individual career. Some collaborate, others do not.

What does it all mean? It doesn’t take a Rashomon-like investigation to figure it out. "We all send each other friendly [e-mail] messages every few months, but we’re not like this cult. And I think that’s good," says Sole. "When we tried to be a cult, we realized that none of us made very good cult members."


Anticon’s symbol is an ant, designed by Aaron Horkey of Burlesque Design. Ant-icon. The name comes from the Pedestrian, a Los Angeles native, and Sole, who grew up in Portland, Maine. The two met in 1992 on a Prodigy message board for cassette trading. Both were avid tape collectors, the lingua franca for music dispersion before the Napster era. They bonded over a love for the Los Angeles scene, where Freestyle Fellowship and the Shapeshifters pioneered speed-rapping and obtuse, free-associative rhymes; early Midwest battle-rap crews like Atmosphere and 1200 Hobos; and obscure Canadian groups like the Sebutones.

Anticon coalesced around a series of fortuitous happenings. Alias and Sole met when both lived in Portland; there was the 1997 Scribble Jam, famous in rap circles for its battle between Dose One and a pre-Slim Shady Eminem; Doseone’s frenzied networking skills brought him in touch with Jel, and then Sole; and Dose One made fast friends with WHY? and Odd Nosdam when he lived in Cincinnati in the late 1990s.

After Sole and the Pedestrian came up with the Anticon concept in 1998, Sole moved to Oakland to work for Listen.com. The rest of the crew eventually followed him there. "I was making $50,000 a year during the dot-com rush," he says. "I didn’t have any expenses, so I just put all the money into starting the label."

Anticon’s first release, 1999’s Music for the Advanced Hip Hop Listener EP was an invitation and a challenge, with Alias’ "Divine Disappointment," which imagines an argument between father and son, and "Holy Shit," a posse track marked by precociously off-kilter rap flows. A compilation, Music for the Advancement of Hip-Hop, followed later that year. "For me, it was about representing these underground aesthetic movements," says the Pedestrian.

But the only song anyone remembers from those records was Sole’s missive "Dear Elpee." On the surface, it was a battle record directed at El Producto, the incredibly talented rapper/producer whose group Company Flow recorded the 1997 opus Funcrusher Plus. El-P memorably coined the term "independent as fuck" to distance himself from mainstream rap, then lost in the throes of Puff Daddy’s hyper-commercial "jiggy" era. But Sole saw hypocrisy in East Coast tastemakers such as Rawkus Records, which distributed Company Flow’s records. He felt they excluded anyone who didn’t live in New York City, and was disgusted at how they extolled "independent" virtues while launching sophisticated marketing campaigns to promote themselves.

"Dear Elpee" wasn’t just a dis against a popular rapper, it was a distillation of Anticon’s scrappy, outsider stance. "Underground hip-hop is a mentality. It’s not supposed to be commercial. You’re supposed to spit an 80-bar verse and people are going to love it," says Sole. "I felt like [hip-hop] needed a little chin check."

On his subsequent two solo albums, 1999’s Bottle of Humans and 2001’s Selling Live Water, Sole honed his sarcastic and brutally honest persona. He criticized himself and attacked his unnamed enemies, exposing thoughts of paranoia and depression. With songs like the brilliantly melancholy title track, he sowed the seeds of what would later become known as "emo rap."

Meanwhile, Jel and Odd Nosdam (along with other producers such as Alias and DJ Mayonnaise) drew from a wide breadth of influences, from orchestral rock like Radiohead and Flying Saucer Attack to electronic acts like Boards of Canada. They made tracks using rudimentary equipment, including 4-track and 8-track recorders and SP-1200 sampling keyboards, resulting in songs that expounded a murky and intimate low-fi aesthetic.

Anticon’s recordings were imbued with a childlike playfulness. In 1998, Sole, Doseone, and Alias collaborated with Minneapolis rapper Slug [from Rhymesayers group Atmosphere] under the name Deep Puddle Dynamics. Alias explains the concept: "[The group name is] in reference to puddles … because of how they form, you sometimes can’t tell how deep they are until you stand in them or observe them really closely."

Deep Puddle Dynamics’ 1999 album, The Taste of Rain … Why Kneel (a title inspired by Jack Kerouac’s poem "Some Western Haiku"), mixed wide-eyed abstraction with introspective thoughts. On the yearning "June 26, 1998," they trade lines until their voices became a kind of Greek chorus. "What is the meaning of life?" they chant. "Fortune, health, knowledge, success / Woman, man, trust, progress / Culture, faith, healing, destiny / Endurance, family, science, society."

"It was so inspiring to be around those cats and see how they operate," says Alias of those recording sessions. His shy New England demeanor contrasted sharply with Doseone and Sole’s bravado. "It’s weird to go back and listen to it now. … It shows its age, and it shows its awkwardness."

However, Anticon’s precocious search for deeper truths through hip-hop, a genre often maligned for its lack of intellectual discourse, endeared them to listeners around the world. The collective helped spark a cottage industry of aspiring rappers, a sensibility built around tweaked flows and five-minute soliloquies, and nourished a brief, exhilarating moment of hip-hop experimentalism in the early 2000s.

Alias says, "I’ve been at shows and had kids come up and tell me how much my music has meant to them. They’ll tell me stories like when their father passed away, all they did was listen to ‘Watching Water’ [from The Other Side of the Looking Glass, 2002] for a week. Then they’ll show me that they have these Anticon-related tattoos or something. It’s crazy. It makes me feel embarrassed."


If Sole is the blustery visionary who led Anticon into war, then Doseone is the eccentric who personifies its unfettered creativity. His catalog, issued via several record labels, ranges from the bleak tone poems of Circle, his 2000 album with producer Boom Bip; to Subtle, a band formed with Jel and keyboardist Dax Pierson. Over the course of three albums (including 2008’s Exiting Arm), Subtle molded rap, electronics, rock, jazz-fusion and whatever else they could find into a searing and dense whirlwind of word and sound.

"We were artists’ artists without a doubt. Still are," says Doseone. "It was DIY … and you could hear the flaws, the sensitivities, the trying-something-new, even when it was over the top or egregious."

Doseone’s strangely disembodied, half-sung raps epitomized Anticon’s greatness as an offbeat take on hip-hop culture. It should have made a bigger impact on the rap industry, and there are several reasons why it didn’t. First, Sole’s battle with the iconic El-P, whose music was just as experimental and groundbreaking as anything Anticon made, turned many people against him. And yes, Anticon was undoubtedly too weird for a generation raised on 2Pac and Jay-Z.

Most damaging were assumptions that Anticon was full of rich, ego-driven art-school snobs who made hip-hop for white people.

Those accusations struck Jel as funny. The Midwest native has been devoted to hip-hop for most of his life, and his placid, straightforward demeanor results from a staunchly lower-middle-class background. "All the shit that came out of nowhere about us not paying dues all comes from the racism that was involved," he says.

The Pedestrian admits that part of the problem was attitude. "When we were doing that whole pretentious ‘Music for the Advancement of Hip-Hop’ shit, for me it was about representing these underground aesthetic movements," he says. "I didn’t imagine we would look as white as we did. It really surprised the shit out of me. And in retrospect, we should have done things differently.

"In those early years, the crowd was pretty fucking white," he continued. "I know there was definitely a consciousness about it — we were thinking about it. But we were fucking kids. We didn’t know how to deal with these really difficult situations."

By the summer of 2002, when Anticon held a series of come-to-Jesus meetings to determine the label’s future, all of its members realized they weren’t a hive-mind group of crazy MCs à la Wu-Tang Clan (with Sole as the RZA), but eight very different people. Wolf, whose esoteric music masks a highly disciplined songwriting approach, felt those aspirations were "unrealistic." "There was almost a utopian idea about record-making, that it could almost be a socialist affair," he says.

As Anticon evolved from a movement into a traditional company, it meandered creatively and financially. Some released material that paled in comparison to past efforts (Sole’s Live from Rome, 2005). New signings, such as indie-pop multi-instrumentalist Dosh (self-titled, 2003) struggled to gain recognition for music that had nothing to do with hip-hop. Eventually, though, Anticon Records learned how to promote releases by its onetime collective as well as its growing indie-rock and electronic roster.

"The way it’s perceived by artists, particularly rock artists, I think they see it as a natural progression," says Sole of Anticon Records’ development. "All the outside-of-hip-hop-world friends we’ve made over the years see it as a natural evolution because what we’ve done has always been pretty melodic and rock and musical anyway."

Some of the onetime "cult" members who felt overshadowed during those early years forged individual identities. Alias, who always felt "awkward" when he rapped, moved back to Maine with his wife and focused on production instead. His efforts yielded 2007’s Brooklyn/Oaklyn, an evocative collaboration with Brooklyn singer Rona "Tarsier" Rapadas.

After a somewhat uneven solo debut (2003’s Oaklandazulasylum), Wolf formed a trio under his old WHY? moniker. Their next two albums (Elephant Eyelash, 2005; Alopecia, 2008) impressively blended Wolf’s prior talent for harmonies, loquacious wordplay, and poetic imagery with the band’s newly-minted melodic rock arrangements. By scoring rapturous national press, he epitomized Anticon Records’ new status as a fast-rising independent label.

WHY? just released its fourth album, Eskimo Snow, which consists of unused material from the Alopecia sessions. Wolf still does a fair amount of rapping, or rhyming in rhythm, even if the results can no longer be classified as strictly hip-hop. "I’ve incorporated it into my pantheon of musical styles," he says, adding that "the next record could be a disco record, for all I know."


Anticon hasn’t abandoned hip-hop. Doseone and Jel just released their third album as the cryptically-named Themselves; their 2000 debut was notable for producing the indie-rap classic "It’s Them." With CrownsDown, Doseone returns to the arena he once flourished in. "There’s purity to the construction and presentation of this record that is derived from Guru and Premier," Doseone says, referring to the classic rap duo Gang Starr.

This year has also brought Chicago duo Serengeti & Polyphonic’s Terradactyl; and Bike for Three!, a collaboration between Buck 65 (formerly of Sebutones) and Belgian electronic musician Greetings from Tuskan. The difference between now and 10 years ago is that these albums aren’t the latest missives from Anticon the collective. They just enhance the label’s reputation for honest, lyrically-driven, complex music.

Amid all this activity, Anticon’s original theorists seem like the odd men out. Back in the day, the Pedestrian was the crew’s sardonic (and sometimes arrogant) prankster, sending out eloquent and confrontational press releases inspired by Dadaism and Situational Ethics. By 2002, however, the former high-school dropout went back to school, enrolling in Laney College. He transferred to UC Berkeley, earned a degree in literature, then enrolled at the University of Southern California, where he’s working on a PhD in ethnic studies.

"There was once an aesthetic collective. And now we’re a record label whose brand name has some lingering connection to that aesthetic," says the Pedestrian, who still treats hip-hop as a hobby and elaborate game theory. "But what we decide to put out and the music we all make is infused with those early years of collaboration. Those were important, foundational years for all of us."

Sole lives in Denver with his wife, and works as an IT technician for Denver Open Media, a public-access station. "It’s not my label anymore. I’m just one voice in it, and I try to contribute as meaningfully as I can to it," he says, adding that he wishes Anticon had a traditional rap profile. So for his new album, Plastique, he decided to work with Fake Four Inc., home to underground artists like Awol One and Mikah 9 (from Freestyle Fellowship).

With Plastique, he focuses on a wide-ranging critique of political injustice, capitalism, and Western hegemony, fed by radical works like Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five and Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle. Sometimes, Sole fits the American lone wolf profile, railing about the world’s troubles.
"Do I wish it was still a crew? Yeah. I miss that. To me, that’s what it’s all about," he says. "But when you’re married, you don’t want to be hanging out all the time. You want to be home, making a stew and watching Heroes."

With Mount Eerie, Au, Serengetti and Polyphonic
Sat/17, 9 p.m. (doors 8 p.m.), $16
Great American Music Hall
859 O’Farrell, SF
(415) 885-0750

With Astronautalis, Sahib
Sat/17, 10 p.m. (doors 9 p.m.), $10-12
Uptown Nightclub
1928 Telegraph, Oakl
(510) 451-8100




Imagine a casting call for a beer commercial — a beer, I should add, marketed toward cool young people and not geezers or swollen couch slugs — and you’ll have some idea of the scene at Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery on any given night. Loose halter tops, soccer butts, and headsful of tousled hair dot the Rathskeller-scape, while the human noise (let’s call it the roar of youth) is so loud and steady as to achieve a transcendence. The noise is beyond noise; it warps reality and becomes another dimension. As a confirmed hater of noise, I should have hated it passionately, but it’s hard to sustain that kind of energy when you are engulfed in a sea of jubilant 20-somethings. Like all human moods, exuberance is communicable, and you won’t see many long faces coming out of Magnolia. On the other hand, you might well see some people, probably older than 40, gingerly checking to make sure their ears are still attached to their skulls as they regain the (comparatively) tranquil street.

Magnolia has been a beacon-like presence at the corner of Haight and Masonic for 15 years. In part, and in true pub fashion, it’s a neighborhood joint, but from the beginning the microbrewed beers have provided a broader draw. Magnolia was among the first of the city’s modern brewpubs — places that brewed their own beer and matched good food to go with it. And while the kitchen has recently undergone a change of chef, with Ronnie New now in charge, the food retains its gastro-pubby, beer-friendly edge. There’s a daily pizza, a burger made with Prather Ranch beef, and (at lunch) a meatloaf sandwich. But New has Louisiana roots, and he’s infused Magnolia’s new menu with various Cajun and Creole touches.

You’ll find quite a few of these among the side dishes ($5), which include collard greens, dirty rice, cheese grits, and black-eyed peas simmered with ham hocks. I love black-eyed peas and consider them a real delicacy, and how could you go wrong simmering them with ham hocks? But something did go wrong — maybe a total dearth of salt — and the result was lifelessness. There was considerably more kick in the vinegary (though non-bayou) sauerkraut, but when we asked whether it was house-made, our server shook her head. (Service is surprisingly good, by the way, considering the intensity of the evening rush, but the service staff’s manner is Parisian in its emphasis on efficiency rather than fawning.)

Okra, a staple of bayou cooking, makes its presence felt in ways subtle and not. You can have it more or less straight up, as a buttermilk-battered and deep-fried appetizer, but it also appears in the succotash that accompanies a slab of pan-seared halibut ($19). The fish, topped by a beret of basil aioli, is nicely cooked, moist and flaky, but the plate is dominated by the colorful succotash, a gravelly mat of corn kernels, halved cherry tomatoes, and okra splinters.

Not all the food is Louisiana-inflected or even pubby. We were especially impressed by a watermelon salad ($7), which managed to give the late-summer bounty of California a sly Saharan aura. The cubes of melon were tossed with slices of peeled, seeded cucumber and chunks of goat cheese and then dressed with a saba vinaigrette and shreds of mint. Some sweetness, some tang; a bit of creaminess, a bit of crunch. (The watermelon, incidentally, is thought to be native to Egypt and was cultivated as a means of carrying water in the desert.)

And a summer tomato soup ($7) could have been on the menu at many a California-cuisine spot. The (hot) soup had a pleasant coarseness, but the real treat was the archipelago of croutons, coated with melted Gruyère, bobbing in the middle of the bowl.

In a surprising development, desserts are quite good — neither overwrought nor (as is so often the case at pub-style establishments) ordinary and perfunctory. A plum crisp ($7) was deftly enlivened by the addition of tomatoes; their texture was difficult to distinguish from that of the plums, but their earthy acidity helped damp the sweetness. I would have called this dish a crumble, since it was in effect a shallow dish of stewed fruit with the pastry bits scattered over the top like sprinkles on a doughnut. There was no proper crust.

A pair of tiny ice-cream sandwiches ($7), like sliders, reached the table in a supercooled condition, and we were told to let them stand for five minutes so they could relax. The crisp, alas, didn’t last that long, so when we turned to the sandwiches, they were still slightly gelid. But the flavor of the Bi-Rite roasted banana ice cream glowed through the cold, and the graham-cracker cookies were like un-lemony madeleines. (Perhaps to compensate for the lack of lemon, the inner faces of the cookies were smeared with white chocolate.) The bite- (or two-bite-) size of the sandwiches was also a bit of caloric discipline for those of us no longer in our 20s. A diamond might be forever, but not a soccer butt. *


Mon.–Thurs., noon–midnight; Fri., noon–1 a.m.;

Sat., 10–1 a.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.–midnight

1398 Haight, SF

(415) 864-7468


Beer and wine



Wheelchair accessible

Events listings


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


Jungle Effect Commonwealth Club, 2nd floor, 595 Market, SF; (415) 597-6700. 6pm, $15. Hear about the experience of Daphne Miller, MD, as she traveled to five countries around the world where common diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and depression, are rare to learn about how nutrition and indigenous foods can prevent chronic illnesses.


Old Growth Redwoods San Francisco Public Library, Richmond Branch, 351 9th Ave., SF; (415) 557-4277. 6:30pm, free. Learn about the beauty, delicate ecosystem, and challenges we face to preserve California’s old growth redwood forests at this slide show and discussion with William Walsh, development director of the San Francisco Bay chapter of the Sierra Club.

Passage of Tibet’s Salween River KoKo Cocktails, 1060 Geary, SF; (415) 885-4788. Listen to extreme traveler, author, and NPR commentator Craig Childs recount his experience in the first expedition to descended the upper Salween River in Tibet. Featuring breathtaking images and exclusive video footage.

Wild Imagination Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission, SF; (415) 655-7800, litquake.org. 6pm, free. Hear children’s books authors Daniel Handler, of the Lemony Snicket series, Lisa Brown, and Jonathan Keats explore the privilege of writing for and about children. In conjunction with Litquake and the current exhibition, There’s a Mystery There: Sendak on Sendak.


Indigenous Permaculture Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo, Berk.; (510) 548-2220 ext.233. 6:30pm, $5-50. Learn about the methods and practices that traditional farmers from New Mexico use to steward land in order to create sustainable, self-sufficient communities.


Alternative Press Expo Concourse Exhibition Center, 620 7th St., SF; (619) 491-2475. Sat. 11am-7pm, Sun.11am-6pm; $10 , $15 both days. Attend fun and informative programs focused on special guests and various aspects of independent and alternative comics, including some of the top creative talent working in comics today.

Potrero Hill Festival Brunch at the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, 953 DeHaro; street fair 20th St. between Missouri and Arkansas, SF; www.potrerofestival.com. Brunch 9am, street fair 11am; brunch $10, fair free. Enjoy a traditional New Orleans Jazz Brunch made by students of the California Culinary Academy before heading over to a street fair featuring local vendors selling wares, arts, and crafts, live music, and activities for kids.

SOEX Grand Opening Southern Exposure, 3030 20th Street, SF; (415) 863-2141. 4-10pm, free.

Celebrate Southern Exposure’s new location and the Bay Area artist community by attending their inaugural exhibition, Bellwether, and letting loose at a block party on Alabama between 19th and 20th St. Block party to feature outdoor seating, food from local street food vendors, and music.

Theater Chili Cook Off San Francisco LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market, SF; (415) 255-7846. 2pm; $1 for tastes, $30 all you can eat. Support Bay Area theater organizations while chowing down on some traditional, vegetarian, or "anything goes" chili and vote for your favorite. Featuring live music.

Vegan Bake Sale Ike’s Place, 3506 16th St., SF; vegansaurus.com. 11am, free. Buy baked goods from over 40 bakers. including Violet Sweet Shoppe, Bike Basket Pies, and Fat Bottom Bakery. Proceeds from this delicious and conscientious sale to benefit Give Me Shelter Cat Rescue.


Festival De Los Volcanes Horace Mann Middle School, 3351 23rd St., SF; (415) 642-4404. 10am, free. Join in on this second annual Central American cultural celebration featuring prominent local musicians, poets, rap artists, and community leaders.

Futurism Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St., SF; (415) 647-2822. 4pm, 6pm, 7:30pm; $10, $15 for both programs. SFMOMA, Italian Cultural Institute, UC Berkeley, YBCA, and SF Center for the Book are teaming up to present a program in the tradition of the 100 year old avant-garde Futurism movement, which aims to combine every art medium. Enjoy a series of short live performances and films unique to this tradition at the Brava Theater. To find out about other Futurism programs happening throughout the Bay Area visit, www.sfmoma.org.


Gregory Maguire Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California, SF; (415) 292-1233. 8pm, $10-18. Step inside the mind of Gregory Maguire, best-selling author of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, which became the basis for the Tony Award-winning musical, Wicked.

Joyce Carol Oates Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, SF; (415) 392-4400. 8pm, $20. See Joyce Carol Oates, author of 39 novels, including three forthcoming books, in an interview with KQED’s Michael Krasny as part of a literary series benefiting the 826 Valencia College Scholarship Program.

Reel Fabulous New Conservatory Theater Center, Decker Theater, 25 Van Ness, SF; (415) 861-8972. 7:30pm, $30. Catch the one-night-only benefit starring Bay Area Emmy-winning producer, columnist, critic, and historian Jan Wahl titled, Reel Fabulous: LGBT in Hollywood. The performance will feature stories and clips from films directed by, written by, or starring LGBT artists and technicians.

Veterans Stories Project Oakland Veteran’s Hall, 200 Grand, Oak; (925) 684-4424. 10am, free. Contribute your Pearl Harbor and WWII stories for an online museum project designed to collect and preserve the personal recollections of U.S. wartime Veterans. Homefront civilians who worked in support of the armed forces are also invited to contribute.


Music listings


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.



Lane Coker and Big Delta, Papa’s Garage Boom Boom Room. 9:30pm, $5.

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

Great Lake Swimmers, Wooden Birds, Laura Gibson Great American Music Hall. 9pm, $16.

Lickets, Marianne Dissard, Andrew Collberg Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $7.

New Fangled Wasteland, Guns for San Sebastian, Fred Torphy Café du Nord. 9:30pm, $10.

Parents, Boy in the Bubble, Cannons and Clouds Red Devil Lounge. 8pm, $8.

Planet Loop Madrone Art Bar. 9pm, free.

Pogues, Chris Shiflett and the Cheaters Regency Ballroom. 8pm, $58-70.

Reduced to Ruin, Band of Annuals, Anaura Hotel Utah. 9pm, $6.

Ash Reiter, Michael Musika, TaughtMe El Rio. 8pm, $5.

Sid Morris Blues Band Rasselas Jazz. 8pm, free.

Tan Sister Radio, Lloyd’s Garage, Wonderland PD, Pine Away Rock-It Room. 8:30pm, $6.

Thee Vicars, Shannon and the Clams, Larry and the Angriest Generation, Sonic Chicken 4 Elbo Room. 9pm, $7.

These Arms Are Snakes, DD/MM/YYYY, Glaciers Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $12.

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


"B3 Wednesdays" Coda. 9pm, $7. With Pete Levin.

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

Karen Segal Trio Yoshi’s San Francisco. 10pm, $14.

"Meridian Music: Composers in Performance" Meridian Gallery, 535 Powell, SF; (415) 398-7229. 7:30pm, $10. With Doctor Bob.

New Rite Spot All-Stars Rite Spot, 2099 Folsom, SF; (415) 552-6066. 9pm.

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


Freddy Clarke Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; (415) 646-0018. 8pm, $12.

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

Seth Augustus Band Climate Theater, 285 Ninth St., SF; (415) 704-3260. 8pm, $7-15.

Zej Plough and Stars. 9pm, free.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Respect Wednesdays End Up. 10pm, $5. Rotating DJs 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.



Cirque Noir Boom Boom Room. 9:30pm, $10.

David Bromberg Big Band, Angel Band Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $40.

Family Curse, Gort, Hot Daxx, Tellurian Sleeves Annie’s Social Club. 8pm, $7.

Jail, Mojomatics, Pipsqueak, Sonic Chicken 4 Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $7.

KMFDM, Angelspit, Legion Within Regency Ballroom. 8pm, $30.

Mae, Locksley, Deas Vail Bottom of the Hill. 8pm, $14.

Moby, Kelly Scarr Warfield. 8pm, $34.

Mofo Party Band Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $15.

Mother Hips Café du Nord. 9pm, $25.

Paper Raincoat, Adam Levy, Derek Evans Hotel Utahl. 9pm, $10.

Pretty Lights, DJ Rootz, DJ Morale Independent. 9pm, $22.

"Rumpus Music and Comedy Night" Rickshaw Stop. 8pm, $10. With John Wesley Harding, Jason Finazzo, Terra Naomi, Nato Green, and more.

Say Anything, Eisley, Moneen, Moving Mountains Slim’s. 7:30pm, $20.

Schlong, Get Rad, Street Justice Eagle Tavern. 9:30pm, $6.

67 Satellite El Rio. 6pm, free.

Glenn Tilbrook, Marianne Keith Red Devil Lounge. 8pm, $15.

Varukers, Doomsday Hour, Dopecharge, Deface Thee Parkside. 9pm, $10.


English Beat, Damon and the Heathens Uptown. 9pm, $20.

Gogol Bordello, Apostle of Hustle Fox Theater. 8pm, $32.50.


Margie Baker Shanghai 1930. 7pm, free.

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.

Patrick Greene Coda. 9pm, $7.

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

Miguel Zenon’s "Esta Plena" Yoshi’s San Francisco. 10:30pm, $12.

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

Trombone Trio Rite Spot, 2099 Folsom, SF; (415) 552-6066. 9pm.


Flamenco Thursdays Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; (415) 646-0018. 8pm, 9:30pm; $12.

Gema y Pavel Brava Theater, 2781 24th St., SF; (415) 641-7657. 7:30pm, $25. A benefit concert for Instituto Familiar de la Raza.

Jeannie and Chuck’s Country Roundup Atlas Café. 8pm, free.

Kularts undercover Bayanihan Community Center, 1010 Mission, SF; (415) 348-8042. 8pm, $10. A benefit for the survivors of Typhoon Ondoy in the Philippines turning Filipino love for cover tunes into aid.

Red Mountain, Stellamara with Dan Cantrell Amnesia. 9:30pm, $7.

Round Mountain, Stellamara Amnesia. 9pm, $7.

String Chamber Ensemble, Classical Revolution Amnesia. 6pm, free.

Tipsy House Plough and Stars. 9pm, free.


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

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

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

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

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

Gurp Out Club Six. 9pm, $10.With DJs Fresh Coast All-Stars, Luke Sick, Bo-Strangles, and more spinning hip hop.

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.

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

Meat DNA Lounge. 9:30pm, $2-5. Industrial treats and BBQ meats with DJs BaconMonkey, Netik, and Lexor.

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

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

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

Rock Candy Stud. 9pm-2am, $5. Luscious Lucy Lipps hosts this electro-punk-pop party with music by ReXick.

Solid Club Six. 9pm, $5. With DJs Mpenzi, Polo Mo’qz, Shortkut, and more spinning roots, reggae, and dancehall.

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.



Bog Savages Maggie McGarry’s, 1533 Grant, SF; (415) 399-9020. 9pm, free.

*Butthole Surfers, Melvins Regency Ballroom. 9pm, $30.

David Bromberg Big Band, Angel Band Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $40.

Delgado Brothers Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $20.

Devil’s Own, Porkchop Express, Hang Jones Hotel Utah. 9pm, $8.

Floater, Flamingo Gunfight Red Devil Lounge. 8pm, $10.

Intelligence, Hank IV, Mayyors, Bronze, DJ Crackwhore Elbo Room. 9pm, $10.

Nellie McKay and the Aristocrats Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $22.

Music Lovers, Minks Make-Out Room. 7pm, $7.

Next, Scranton, Ol’ Cheeky Bastards, Psycho Kitty Pissed Off Pete’s, 4528 Mission, SF; (415) 584-5122. 9pm, free.

Phenomenauts, Go Jimmy Go, Struts, Horror-X DNA Lounge. 8:30pm, $14.

Queers, Secretions, Go-Going-Gone Girls Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $12.

Quick and Easy Boys Grant and Green. 9pm.

Ronkat’s Katdelic Boom Boom Room. 10pm, $12.

"Scott Alcoholocaust’s Birthday Party" Annie’s Social Club. 9:30pm, $7. With Everything Must Go, Fucking Wrath, Sabertooth Zombie, and Trust Nothing.

Sky Larkin, Peggy Sue and the Pirates, EFFT Hemlock Tavern. 9:30pm, $9.

Three Hour Tour El Rio. 9pm, free.

Wax Tailor, Abstract Rude Slim’s. 9pm, $16.


Ani DiFranco Zellerback Auditorium, UC Berkeley, Berk; www.livenation.com. 8pm, $35.

Nomeansno, Triclops!, Disastroid Uptown. 9pm, $13.

Snow Patrol, Plain White T’s Fox Theater. 8pm, $35.


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

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

Terrence Brewer Shanghai 1930. 7:30pm, free.

"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 Howard Wiley and the Angola Project.

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

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

Robby Marshall Group Union Room (at Biscuits and Blues). 9pm, $5.

Soul Delights Rite Spot, 2099 Folsom, SF; (415) 552-6066. 9pm.

Valerie Troutt and the Fear of a Fat Planet Crew Red Poppy Art House. 8pm, $12-20.


"Binary Series #7: Intersections Between Cities and Media" CNMAT, 1750 Arch, Berk; (415) 871-9992. 8pm, $12. "Trio Fibonacci: Quebecois Compositions" with the music of Laurie Radford and Serge Provost, Hideo Kawamoto and Damon Waitkus, and video by Agnes Szelag.


Bluegrass Bonanza Plough and Stars. 9pm, $7.

Brass Menazeri, Fishtank Ensemble, DJ Zeljko Café du Nord. 9:30pm, $15.

Cuban Nights Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; (415) 646-0018. 8:30pm, $15. With Fito Reinoso.

Neal Morgan, Dominant Legs, Lemonade Amnesia. 9pm, $8.

Theresa Perez, Amy Epstein, Melanie Kurdian Dolores Park Café. 7:30pm, free.

Rob Reich and Craig Ventresco 7pm, free.

Sila Coda. 10pm, $10.

Tippy Canoe ArtZone Gallery, 461 Valencia, SF; (415) 441-8680. 10pm; open to holders of Doc Fest tickets or ticket stubs only, free. Opening night party for SF Doc Film Fest.


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

Arrhythmia Club Six. 9pm, $10. With DJs Tony Hewitt, Wally Callerio, and more spinning house.

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

Blow Up Rickshaw Stop. 10pm, $15. With DJs Jeffrey Paradise and Richie Panic spinning dance music.

Deep Fried Butter, 354 11th St., SF; (415) 863-5964. DJs jaybee, David Justin, and Dean Manning spinning indie, dance rock, electronica, funk, hip hop, and more.

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.

510’s Finest Presents: King Thee Parkside. 10pm, $4. This new party promises "hoochie dance jamz."

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.

Glamour Gravity, 3251 Scott, SF; (415) 776-1928. 9pm. A networking party for the fashion industry.

Jump Off Club Six. 9pm, $10. Pure house music all night long.

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

Loose Stud. 10pm-3am, $5. DJs Domino and Six spin electro and indie, with vintage porn visual projections to get you in the mood.

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.



Astra, Orchid, Children of Time Annie’s Social Club. 9pm, $10.

Brother Ali, Evidence, Toki Wright, BK-One Slim’s. 9pm, $15.

Down Down Down, Common Men, Dandelion War, Con of Man Retox Lounge. 9pm, $5.

*"Frank El Rio and Scott Alcoholocaust’s Joint Birthday Party" El Rio. 10pm, $8. With Ludicra, King City, and Futur Skullz.

Goodbye Nautilus, Chop, My First Earthquake Hemlock Tavern. 9:30pm, $6.

*Jesus Lizard, Killdozer Fillmore. 9pm, $25.

MC Trachiotomy Hemlock Tavern. 6pm, $5.

Eric McFadden and friends, Shakewell Boom Boom Room. 9:30pm, $12.

Nellie McKay and the Aristocrats Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $22.

Nerf Herder, Goodbye Gadget, Lone Angels Bottom of the Hill. 10pm, $12.

A Place to Bury Strangers, These Are Powers, All the Saints, Geographer Independent. 9pm, $14.

Pop Rocks Red Devil Lounge. 9pm, $10.

Ras Kass, Xienhow, Sincere, Bossasaurus, Team Razor Fang, Nerd Nate Rock-It Room. 9pm, $10.

"Sansei Live" San Francisco Presidio Officer’s Club, 50 Moraga, Presidio, SF; (415) 931-2294. 6pm, $75. With Lyrics Born, ScoJourners, and Kaz-Well. Benefits Kimochi, Inc., who help Bay Area seniors live independently.

EC Scott Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $20.

"Treasure Island Music Festival" Treasure Island; www.treasureislandfestival.com. Noon, $65. With MGMT, MSTRKRFT, Girl Talk, Brazilian Girls, Streets, Passion Pit, and more.

Why?, Mount Eerie, Au, Serengetti and Polyphonic Great American Music Hall. 9pm, $16.


"Monsters of Folk" Fox Theater. 8pm, $39.50-45.50. With Conor Oberst, Jim James, M. Ward, and Mike Mogis.

Sole, Astronautalis Uptown. 9pm, $12.


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

Dead Kenny Gs Coda. 10pm, $15.

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

Jessica Johnson Shanghai 1930. 7:30pm, free.

Robby Marshall Group Union Room (at Biscuits and Blues). 9pm, $5.

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


Wayne Shorter Quartet Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, Berk; (510) 642-9988, www.calperformances.org. 8pm, $28-52.


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

Knotty Pine String Band Plough and Stars. 9pm, $7.

Robbie O’Connell Balclutha ship, Hyde Street Pier, Fisherman’s Wharf, SF; (415) 561-6662. 8pm, $14.

Octomutt, Grooming the Crow Rite Spot, 2099 Folsom, SF; (415) 552-6066. 9pm.

Okay-Hole Amnesia. 10pm, $6.

Jerry Santos Palace of Fine Arts Theater, Bay and Lyon, SF; (415) 392-4400. 8pm, $35-40. Hawaiian musician and composer joined by award-winning dance troupe Na Lei Hulu | Ka Wekiu.

Tango No. 9 Red Poppy Art House. 8pm, $12-20.


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

Cock Fight Underground SF. 9pm, $6. Locker room antics galore with electro-spinning DJ Earworm and hostess Felicia Fellatio.

Covenant, Ejector, DJ Kyron 5 DNA Lounge. 9pm, $18. Also with Death Guild DJs Decay, Melting Girl, and Joe Radio.

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

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.

Non Stop Bhangra Rickshaw Stop. 9pm, $20. Celebrate the dance and music of Punjab.

PURE Entertainment Butterfly Lounge, 1370 Embarcadero, SF; www.partywithpure.com. DJs Ken and Genesis Kim spinning hip hop and top 40s at this PURE launch party.

Saturday Night Live Fat City, 314 11th St; selfmade2c@yahoo.com. 10:30pm.

Saturday Night Soul Party Elbo Room. 10pm-2am, $5. DJs Lucky, Paul Paul, and Phengren Oswald spin butt-shakin’ ’60s soul on 45.

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

TekAndHaus Anu, 43 6th St., SF; (415) 543-3505. 10pm, $5. DJs dCoy, Javalight and Zenith spinning tech-house.

TOPR Club Six. 9pm, $10. With DJs 2 Fresh, Beset, Quest, Rec League, and more spinning hip hop.



All That Remains, Lacuna Coil, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, Taking Dawn Regency Ballroom. 7pm, $22.

Adrian Belew Slim’s. 8pm, $25.

Brothers Goldman Boom Boom Room. 9:30pm, free.

Lumerians, Grass Widow Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $10.

Nellie McKay and the Aristocrats Yoshi’s San Francisco. 2 and 7pm, $5-22.

Messerchups Red Devil Lounge. 8pm, $20.

La Roux, DJ Omar Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $15.

Straylight Run, Anarbor, Camera Can’t Lie Rickshaw Stop. 7pm, $12.

"Treasure Island Music Festival" Treasure Island; www.treasureislandfestival.com. Noon, $65. With Flaming Lips, Decemberists, Beirut, Grizzly Bear, Yo La Tengo, Walken, Bob Mould, and more.


Dead Kenny Gs Coda. 9pm, $12.

Dozie Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason, SF; 1-866-468-3399. 7pm, $30.

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

Pete Yellin’s Quartet Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez, SF; www.noevalleyministry.org/jazzvespers. 5pm, free.

Wood Brothers Yoshi’s San Francisco. 9:30pm, $15.


Marla Fibish, Erin Shrader, Richard Mandel and friends Plough and Stars. 9pm, $5.

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

Tony Furtado and friends, Mia Dyson Swedish American Hall (upstairs from Café du Nord). 7:30pm, $15.

Jerry Santos Palace of Fine Arts Theater, Bay and Lyon, SF; (415) 392-4400. 2pm, $35-40. Hawaiian musician and composer joined by award-winning dance troupe Na Lei Hulu | Ka Wekiu.

Underskore Orchestra, Japonized Elephants Amnesia. 9pm, $7-10.


Catholic Paradise Lounge. 10pm, $3. Celebrate the release of this Patrick Cowley album.

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

Dub Mission Elbo Room. 9pm, $6. Dub, roots, and classic dancehall with DJ Sep, J Boogie, and Irie Dole.

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.



Beach House, Papercuts, DJ Andy Cabic Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $14.

Duct Tape Date, My Addiction El Rio. 9pm, $8.

Dysrhythmia, Grayceon, Say Bok Gwai, DJ Rob Metal Thee Parkside. 8pm, $8.

Owl City, Scenic Aesthetic, Brooke Waggoner Slim’s. 7:30pm, $13.

Phantom Kicks, Ventid Hemlock Tavern. 7pm, $5.

Casey Prestwood and the Burning Angels, Hang Jones, Mississipi Riders Elbo Room. 9pm, $5.

*Jay Reatard, Nobunny, Hunx and His Punx, Box Elders, Digital Leather Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $18.

*"w00tstock" Swedish American Hall. 7:30pm, $22. With Paul and Storm, Wil Wheaton, and Mythbusters’ Adam Savage.


Beth Custer Ensemble feat. Chris Grady Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8pm, $14.

Michael Burns Rite Spot, 2099 Folsom, SF; (415) 552-6066. 8pm.

"Jazz at the Rrazz" Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason, SF; 1-866-468-3399. 8pm, $25. With the Mike Greensill Trio and Gary Foster.

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


Homespun Rowdy Amnesia. 8:30pm, free.


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 and industrial with Decay, Joe Radio, and Melting Girl.

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.



Boca do Rio, Valerie Orth, Ben Benkert Elbo Room. 8:30pm, $7.

Brandi Carlile Fillmore. 8pm, $26.

Ghostface Killah, Souls of Mischief, Fashawn, Strong Arm Steady, Deep Rooted Slim’s. 9pm, $26.

Nathan James Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $15.

Nodzzz, Thomas Function, Yusseff Jerusalem Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $7.

Carrie Rodriguez Hotel Utah.8pm, $10.

Strike Anywhere, Polar Bear Club, Crime in Stereo, Ruiner Bottom of the Hill. 8pm, $12.

Those Darlins’, Choir of Young Believers, Grates Rickshaw Stop. 8pm, $10.

Patrick Watson, Threes and Nines Great American Music Hall. 9pm, $15.

"w00tstock" Swedish American Hall. 7:30pm, $22. With Paul and Storm, Wil Wheaton, and Mythbusters’ Adam Savage.

Hawksley Workman Café du Nord. 8:30pm, $15.


Koffin Kats, Jim Rowdy Show, Tater Famine Uptown. 9pm, $10.

Stone Temple Pilots Fox Theater. 8pm, $52.50.


Dave Parker Quintet Rasselas Jazz. 8pm.

Equinox Trio Rite Spot, 2099 Folsom, SF; (415) 552-6066. 9pm.

"An Evening with Peter Sellars and Earplay" Forest Hill Clubhouse, 381 Magellan, SF; www.earplay.org. 6pm, $100.

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

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

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

Spanish Harlem Orchestra Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $16-24.


Slow Session Plough and Stars. 9pm, free.

Tippy Canoe, Mikie Lee Prasad Revolution Café, 3248 22nd St, SF; (415) 642-0474. 8:30pm, free.


Cuntry Monkey Annie’s Social Club. 9pm, free. Drunken Monkey goes country with bluegrass, honky tonk, rockabilly, and more.

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

Drunken Monkey Annie’s Social Club. 9pm-2am, free. Rock ‘n’ roll for inebriated primates like you.

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.

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.

Stump the Wizard Argus Lounge. 9pm, free. Music and interactive DJ games with DJs What’s His Fuck and Wizard.

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

Film listings


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.


The eighth annual San Francisco Documentary Film Festival runs Oct 16-29 at the Roxie, 3117 16th St, SF. Tickets ($11) are available by visiting www.sfindie.com. For commentary, see "Is the Truth Out There?" All times p.m.


The Entrepreneur 7. Shooting Robert King 7. Drums Inside Your Chest 9:15. Houston We Have a Problem 9:15.


Drums Inside Your Chest 2:30. Waiting for Hockney 2:30. Between the Folds 4:45. Finding Face 4:45. HomeGrown 7. The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia 7. Dust and Illusions 9:15. The Earth Is Young 9:15.


"Bay Area Shorts" (shorts program) 2:30. We Said, No Crying 2:30. Another Planet 4:45. I Need That Record: The Death (or Possible Survival) of the Independent Record Store 4:45. Cat Ladies 7. Off and Running 7. Vampiro 9:15. What’s the Matter with Kansas? 9:15.


Between the Folds 7. We Said, No Crying 7. October Country 9:15. Waiting for Hockney 9:15.


The Earth Is Young 7. I Need That Record: The Death (or Possible Survival) of the Independent Record Store 7. Another Planet 9:15. The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia 9:15.


The 32nd Mill Valley Film Festival runs through Sun/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. All times p.m. unless otherwise noted.


Rafael The Horse Boy 4:30. "5@5: America Is Not the World" (shorts program) 5. "Spotlight on Jason Reitman:" Up in the Air 6:30. White Wedding 7. Linoleum 7:15. Tapped 9. The Eclipse 9:15. Up in the Air 9:40.

Sequoia The Swimsuit Issue 4:15. "5@5: Oscillate Wildly" (shorts program) 5. Trimpin: The Sound of Invention 6:30. Surrogate 7. Elevator 8:45. Hellsinki 9.

Throck "Insight: The Cassel Touch" (interview and discussion) 8.


Rafael The Girl on the Train 4. Reach for Me 4:30. "5@5: The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get" (shorts program) 5. Icons Among Us: jazz in the present tense 6:30. Meredith Monk: Inner Voice 6:45. "Tribute to Woody Harrelson:" The Messenger 7. Hipsters 9. Barking Water 9:15.

Sequoia "5@5: Sister I’m a Poet" (shorts program) 5. Jim Thorpe: The World’s Greatest Athlete 5:15. Apron Strings 6:45. The Missing Person 7:30. This Is the Husband I Want! 9. Winnebago Man 9:30.

Throck Storm 7.


Rafael Sweet Rush 4. "5@5: The Edges Are No Longer Parallel" (shorts program) 5. Stalin Thought of You 6. "Tribute to Anna Karina:" Victoria 6:30. Zombie Girl: The Movie 7. Jermal 8:15. Trimpin: The Sound of Invention 9. Red Cliff 9:30.

Sequoia Shylock 4. Shameless 5. Tenderloin 6:45. A Thousand Suns and Mustang: Journey of Transformation 7. One Crazy Ride 8:45. Happy Tears 9:15.

Throck Troupers: 50 Years of the San Francisco Mime Troupe 7:30.


Rafael [Blank.] 11am. A Thousand Suns and Mustang: Journey of Transformation noon. Ricky Rapper 1. The Girl on the Train 1:45. Hellsinki 2. Oh My God 3. The Strength of Water 4:15. Awakening from Sorrow 4:45. The Missing Person 5:30. The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg 6:45. The Swimsuit Issue 6:45. Surrogate 7:45. Tenderloin 9. Hipsters 9:15.

Sequoia The Letter for the King 10:30am. Eat the Sun noon. White Wedding 1:30. Miracle in a Box: A Piano Reborn 2:30. Dark and Stormy Night 3:45. Mine 5. A Year Ago in Winter 6:15. Reach for Me 7:15. "Hi De Ho Show" (shorts and music) 9:15. Winnebago Man 9:45.

Throck "New Movie Labs: Distribution of Specialty Film" (seminar) 12:30. Project Happiness 3. "5@5: The Edges Are No Longer Parallel" (shorts program) 5. "Cinemasports" (shorts program of films made in one day) 7:30.


Rafael Stella and the Star of the Orient noon. This Is the Husband I Want! noon. Mine 12:30. Apron Strings 2:30. Soundtrack for a Revolution 2:45. One Crazy Ride 3. Project Happiness 5. The Young Victoria 5:15. Race to Nowhere 5:45. Skin 7:30. Bomber 7:45.

Sequoia The Ten Lives of Titanic the Cat 12:30. Meredith Monk: Inner Voice 1. Oh My God 2:30. The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg 3:15. Looking for Eric 5:15. The Strength of Water 5:45.

Throck "New Movies Lab: Active Cinema" 12:30. "A Sweeter Music: Live Concert with Sarah Cahill and John Sanborn" 3:30.


Birdwatchers War-painted natives don bows and arrows and watch from the Amazon riverbank as a boat of tourists passes by. Away from white eyes, they slip back into their modern clothes and are paid by the tour guide for a job well done. Had it sustained the evocative wryness of its opening scene throughout its running time, Marco Bechi’s film would have been more than a frequently striking culture-clash tract. As it is, there’s much to admire in this Brazil-set account of a disbanded Guarani-Kaiowà tribe struggling to hang on to their expiring heritage, from its clear-eyed view of the lingering human toll of colonialism to its uncondescending portrait of indigenous mysticism. Unfortunately, Bechi’s penchant for underlined contrasts and clumsy staging often threaten to sabotage his evocative mix of ethnography, satire, and social critique. While far from being as complacent as the titular sightseers, in the end the film is similarly content to merely skim over an ongoing cultural genocide. (1:40) Sundance Kabuki. (Croce)

*An Education See "Culture Class." (1:35) Albany, Embarcadero.

The Horse Boy Rupert Isaacson and Kristin Neff are a Texas couple struggling to raise their five-year-old autistic son Rowan. When they discover that the boy’s tantrums are soothed by contact with horses, they set out on a journey to Mongolia, where horseback riding is the preferred mode of traveling across the steppe and sacred shamans hold the promise of healing. Michael Orion Scott’s documentary is many things — lecture on autism, home video collage, family therapy session, and exotic travelogue. Above all, unfortunately, it’s a star vehicle for Isaacson, whose affecting concern for his son is constantly eclipsed by his screen-hogging concern for his own paternal image (more than once he declares that he’s a better father thanks to Rowan’s condition). The contradiction brings to mind doomed activist Timothy Treadwell in Grizzly Man (2005), and indeed the film could have used some of Werner Herzog’s inquisitive touch, if only to question the artistic merits of showing your son going "poopie." Twice. (1:33) Embarcadero, Shattuck. (Croce)

Law Abiding Citizen "Spike Lee’s Inside Man (2006) as re-imagined by the Saw franchise folks" apparently sounded like a sweet pitch to someone, because here we are, stuck with Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler playing bloody and increasingly ludicrous cat-and-mouse games. Foxx stars as a slick Philadelphia prosecutor whose deal-cutting careerist ways go easy on the scummy criminals responsible for murdering the wife and daughter of a local inventor (Butler). Cut to a decade later, and the doleful widower has become a vengeful mastermind with a yen for Hannibal Lecter-like skills, gruesome contraptions, and lines like "Lessons not learned in blood are soon forgotten." Butler metes out punishment to his family’s killers as well as to the bureocratic minions who let them off the hook. But the talk of moral consequences is less a critique of a faulty judicial system than mere white noise, vainly used by director F. Gary Gray and writer Kurt Wimmer in hopes of classing up a grinding exploitation drama. (1:48) Presidio. (Croce)

*More Than a Game In the late 1990s, armed with a camera and a certain amount of tenacity, Kristopher Belman set out to capture the glory that was regularly manifesting itself on a certain Akron, Ohio basketball court. The main reason: a future superstar named LeBron James. But James’ remarkable teenage career (at least until the age of 18, when the St. Vincent-St. Mary High School grad became the number one NBA draft pick) wasn’t completely a solo act; his core group of friends, the team’s starting line-up, was so tight they were called "the Fab Five." Despite Belman’s determination to equally divide the spotlight, James was clearly a star then as he is now, slam-dunking on hapless opponents even as he grappled with his burgeoning celebrity status. I’ll never tire of the tale of how James raised eyebrows when he started driving a brand-new Hummer — only to quash whispers of misconduct when it was revealed that his mother, Gloria, was able to secure a loan for the gift based solely on the understanding (shared by all) that her son’s skills would make him a zillionaire before his next birthday. (1:45) (Eddy)

New York, I Love You A variety of filmmakers (including Fatih Akin, Shekhar Kapur, Mira Nair, and Brett Ratner) directed segments of this stateside answer to 2006’s Paris, je t’aime. (1:43) Bridge, Shattuck.

The Providence Effect Located in Chicago’s gang-infested West side, the illustrious Providence St. Mel School rises above its surroundings like a flower in a swamp. Or at least it does in Rollin Binzer’s documentary, where analysis of the institution’s great achievements at times edges into a virtual pamphlet for enrollment. Focusing mainly on affable school president Paul J. Adams III, a veteran of the civil rights movement whose "impossible dream" made Providence possible, the film chronicles the daily activities of teachers and students vying for success in the face of poverty and crime. Given the school’s notoriously unwholesome environment, it’s a bit disappointing that the film chooses to exclusively follow the trajectory of model pupils, trading grittier tales of struggle in favor of a smoother ride of feel-god buzzwords and uplifting anecdotes. The documentary isn’t free of scholarly platitudes straight out of Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), but, in times when teachers get as much respect as Rodney Dangerfield, its celebration of the importance of education is valuable. (1:32) Lumiere, Shattuck. (Croce)

The Stepfather Dylan Walsh: as scary as Terry O’Quinn? Discuss. (1:41)

Where the Wild Things Are Spike Jonze directs a live-action version of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s tale. (1:48) Four Star, Grand Lake, Marina.


*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) Empire, Piedmont, Presidio, 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, 1000 Van Ness, Presidio, SF Center, Sundance Kabuki. (Peitzman)

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (1:21) Oaks, 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, SF Center. (Swanbeck)

Couples Retreat You could call Couples Retreat a romantic comedy, but that would imply that it was romantic and funny instead of an insipid, overlong waste of time. This story of a group of married friends trying to bond with their spouses in an exotic island locale is a failure on every level. Romantic? The titular couples — four total — represent eight of the most obnoxious characters in recent memory. Sure, you’re rooting for them to work out their issues, but that’s only because awful people deserve one another. (And in a scene with an almost-shark attack, you’re rooting for the shark.) Funny? The jokes are, at best, juvenile (boners are silly!) and, at worse, offensive (sexism and homophobia once more reign supreme). There is an impressive array of talent here: Vince Vaugh, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Jean Reno, etc. Alas, there’s no excusing the script, which puts these otherwise solid actors into exceedingly unlikable roles. Even the gorgeous island scenery — Couples Retreat was filmed on location in Bora-Bora — can’t make up for this waterlogged mess. (1:47) Grand Lake, Marina, 1000 Van Ness, SF Center, Shattuck. (Peitzman)

*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. (Peitzman)

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)

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)

*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) 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) 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) Empire, Four Star, 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)

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, Sundance Kabuki. (Swanbeck)

*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) SF Center. (Chun)

*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)

*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) Shattuck. (Peitzman)

*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)

*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) California, Piedmont. (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) 1000 Van Ness. (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)

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) Sundance Kabuki. (Croce)

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, SF Center, Sundance Kabuki. (Swanbeck)

*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)


*"Robert Beavers: My Hand Outstretched to the Winged Distance and Sightless Measure" See "Camera Lucida." Pacific Film Archive.



San Francisco is facing the worst budget crisis in modern history. More than 1,000 employees, mostly front-line workers in the Department of Public Health, have been laid off, and the red ink continues. Yet the only measure on the November ballot that would raise any money for the city is Sup. Bevan Dufty’s plan to sell off naming rights for Candlestick Park.

That’s pathetic. During the summer budget discussions, Mayor Newsom vowed to work with business, labor, and the supervisors to come up with a reasonable plan to bring in some new cash for the city. But that collapsed — largely because state law would have made it hard to raise taxes this fall without a unanimous vote of the supervisors. And while eight members were willing to put a revenue measure on the ballot, the three supervisors closest to the mayor — Sean Elsbernd, Carmen Chu, and Michela Alioto-Pier, all Newsom appointees — refused to go along. And the mayor made only a weak effort to change their minds.

So while Democrats everywhere decry Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s insistence on a cuts-only budget, the Democratic mayor of San Francisco has forced essentially the same approach on this city. The only revenue increases we’re seeing are fees, like Muni fare hikes, that amount to taxes on the poor.

That’s the state of San Francisco as we head into what will almost certainly be a low-turnout election. Only two elected officials are on the ballot, and both are unopposed. Five ballot measures — several fairly significant — round out the local ballot. And with no big-name races at the top, they will win or lose on the votes of a small majority.

That’s too bad, because the issues matter. Vote Nov. 3 — and let’s hope next year’s ballot actually includes some new, progressive taxes.


City Attorney

Dennis Herrera

San Francisco hasn’t always had a good track record with city attorneys. George Agnost, who ran the office in the 1970s and 1980s, was a dour, secretive, conservative lawyer who let downtown call all the shots. Louise Renne, who took over from Agnost, ran the office in the 1990s as if it was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Herrera, who took over in 2001, has been a major improvement. He’s turned the office into a modern operation, professionalized the administration, and taken on an activist role on consumer, environmental, and public-interest issues. He’s been a big supporter of marriage equality and of the city’s landmark health-care legislation. On his own initiative, he sued to end gender rating in health insurance and crack down on predatory payday lenders. He also moved to enforce health codes in housing and has been out front going after corrupt landlords like Skyline Realty.

We have some concerns about Herrera. Although he’s been far more sunshine-friendly than his predecessors, open-government activists are still sometimes forced to sue the city to get access to records. He won’t use his power as city attorney to enforce the Raker Act and bring public power to San Francisco. And during the current budget crisis, he cut the number of city attorney hours the supervisors can use to draft legislation.

And if, as rumored, he wants to run for mayor, Herrera needs to start taking public stands on major issues — like the unfairness of the local tax code and the need for new revenue.

But we’re happy to endorse him for another term.


Jose Cisneros

The incumbent treasurer is running unopposed, and we see no reason not to endorse him. He’s done some very positive things: Cisneros worked to get the big downtown law firms and other partnerships to pay their fair share of city taxes. He closed a tax loophole exploited by the big airlines that put up flight crews in local hotels.

He also convinced local banks and credit unions to accept consular identification cards to allow immigrants to open accounts and has pushed those institutions to offer "second-chance banking" to people with past credit problems. During his tenure, more than half of the 50,000 households in the city that lacked bank accounts have been able to get away from predatory check-cashing outfits and open legitimate accounts.

As an elected official, however, he could be doing a lot more. The city still keeps all its short-term accounts in one bank — Bank of America, which isn’t even local. Cisneros has promised to open that deal up to competitive bidding, but doesn’t have a timeline. And although nobody knows better than the treasurer how unfair and regressive the city’s tax codes are, he has never spoken out or offered any solutions. Cisneros says he wants his office to be apolitical, but city money is, by its nature, a political issue, and we’d like to see a little more leadership from the person who handles it. But overall, he’s a professional money manager who’s done a decent job and deserves another term.

Proposition A

Budget process


We’re a little nervous about Prop. A, which would institute a two-year budget cycle for the city. Sup. Chris Daly, who opposes it, points out that the city controller’s budget projections are often wrong — badly wrong — and trying to plan 24 months ahead when economic conditions (and thus the city’s revenue stream) can change so quickly and unpredictably is a dangerous game.

But on balance, the approach in Prop. A makes sense. The budget debates would still take place every year, and the supervisors would still have to approve an annual budget — although the budget would be a rolling two-year projection. So next year, the board would approve a budget for 2010 and 2011, the following year for 2011 and 2012, and so on — leaving plenty of room for adjusting to meet economic changes. And two-year cycles might make it easier for nonprofits that rely on city funding to do some serious long-term planning.

Equally important, Prop. A requires the police and firefighters to negotiate their union contracts the same time the other unions do — before the budget deadline. The current system allows those unions to make demands that are unrelated to — and often outside — the current year’s budget realities.

Every progressive on the board except Daly supports this, and Sups. Alioto-Pier, Elsbernd and Chu oppose it.

Proposition B

Board of Supervisors aides


This one’s a no-brainer. The City Charter mandates that each supervisor be allowed to hire two aides. The requirement dates back to a long-ago era when city budgets were far smaller, problems were less pressing and complex, and the supervisors worked part-time. It makes perfect sense to take such an archaic law out of the City Charter and allow the supervisors to set their own budgets — and staffing levels — the same way the mayor does. Vote yes.

Proposition C

Candlestick Park Naming Rights


You have to give Sup. Bevan Dufty, the author of Prop. C, credit for trying. He’s looking for any angle he can use to help keep the 49ers in town, and allowing a corporate sponsor to pay for naming rights might possibly help cover the immense cost of substantially renovating aging Candlestick Park. And, like Prop. D (see below), this measure has a nice beneficiary: part of the money from naming rights would go to save the jobs of recreation directors, many of whom have faced budget-driven layoffs.

We agree that rec directors play a crucial role, particularly in neighborhoods with large numbers of at-risk youth. And we wish the Chamber of Commerce, Sup. Elsbernd, and other supporters of Prop. C were willing to accept some progressive tax hikes to fund those jobs.

But this isn’t a good deal. The city owns the stadium; the taxpayers financed its construction and spent 30 years paying off the bonds. But the 49ers, a private outfit owned by a very wealthy family, would get half the money from any naming deal. And the money that would come in would be radically short of what the team would need to rebuild the ‘Stick. Vote no.

Proposition D

Mid-Market special sign district


Again: credit for the effort. David Addington, who owns the Warfield Theater and several other properties on mid-Market Street, accurately notes that the city’s main thoroughfare, between Fifth and Seventh streets, is rundown, ignored, and badly in need of an economic boost. He argues that allowing new digital billboards would create something of a Times Square in San Francisco, attracting tourists and turning mid-Market into a thriving theater district. Nothing else the city has done has worked — why not give this a try?

We aren’t necessarily opposed to digital billboards and we’d love to see mid-Market reinvigorated. But Prop. D would give too much authority to an unelected, unrepresentative group. It would amount to privatizing city planning and set a terrible precedent.

Under the measure, the Central Market Community Benefits District, a private group of property owners, organizations, and residents, would be authorized to approve new general advertising billboards as large as 500 square feet. The ads would have to meet city codes, but the Planning Department and supervisors would have no ability to block new installations. And the money — potentially millions of dollars a year — would go entirely to the property owners and the CBD, which would decide how to distribute it.

Yes, like Prop. C, this measure would help a worthy group: some of the new money would go to youth programs in the Tenderloin. But the process this measure describes isn’t at all democratic. The CBD board selects its own members, and the only oversight the city has is the ability of the Board of Supervisors to abolish the agency and start over.

We’re open to new ideas for central Market Street. We’re open to lights and ads and maybe even billboards. But we’re not willing to turn over zoning and public finance decisions to a private group. Vote no.

Proposition E

Advertisements on city property


Proposition E, written by former Sup. Jake McGoldrick, would freeze new commercial billboards and ads on street furniture at 2008 levels and outlaw advertising on public buildings. It’s an extension of existing city policy, which seeks to limit the increasing blight of commercial ads in public space. Vote yes.

Psychic Dream Astrology



March 21-April 19

Our potential sometimes lies in the place we visit the least within ourselves. Delve deep to find a different way than you would typically use to handle your situations. See if you can, in the wise words of Tim Gunn, "make it work" without losing your unique style and perspective. Push the boundaries of what defines you.


April 20-May 20

The fattest egos are often found on the saddest sacks. So much hard-nosed behavior comes from people being too hard on their own damn selves — and you are no exception, Taurus. Don’t be a bully with yourself or the people around you just ’cause you don’t want to feel sad or vulnerable. Substitute aggression with assertion.


May 21-June 21

"Process" is an overused word. This week stay focused on it, though, because if you jump too far ahead of yourself, you won’t know what to tweak. You are in a great spot to lay some long-lasting foundations, but not so much for skipping ahead to the next level without getting confused.


June 22-July 22

As an emotional person, the key to maintaining inner balance is to not be so reactive. When you define your happiness through your job, relationships, or how many times your cat scratched the post, you are in a constant state of reacting emotionally, which doesn’t allow you to find your own footing. Individuate instead.


July 23-Aug. 22

You have some major decisions to make, buddy, but first you have to establish your criteria. I know, it sounds boring, and it is, but a Leo’s gotta do what a Leo’s gotta do. Get really clear about your goals so that your actions are in time with them. Otherwise it will be more of the same.


Aug. 23-Sept. 22

You are not a victim. You are responsible for all you do, and for all of your reactions to the things you have no control over. It’s time to forgive recent mistakes and the failings of the trustworthy folks around you. The clearer your head is from ego distractions, the smarter you’ll be.


Sept. 23-Oct. 22

It’s the last full week of your sign’s birthday, and you are in full effect. Find yourself something (or someone) to sink your lovely energy into. It is a great time to initiate a new activity or project, because what you begin now is likely to flower by the time we hit Sagittarius’ birthday. You are fully capable — just put yourself out there.


Oct. 23-Nov. 21

There are so many people you need to please that it can be hella frustrating. Thing is, you are poised to gain a lot from others being happy with you. Stay in touch with how compromise serves you as much as it does everyone else so you can give with an open heart.


Nov. 22-Dec. 21

There’s a fine line between manifesting crappy circumstances because you were so focused on them and being a realist who sees the rough stuff as it is. Err on the side of the eternal optimist right now. You stand to gain more by fearlessly hoping for the best and innovating as direct a route toward it as you can see. Lean on your pals for reality checks.


Dec. 22-Jan. 19

Don’t buy time when you can just press pause — it’s a useless expense. Your week is riddled with boundary problems, and barreling through it won’t help matters. Find creative ways to assert your needs and be humble enough to include others in your process — even before it’s iron clad.


Jan. 20-Feb. 18

You’ve got the right stuff, but you’re using it all wrong. Your fears are putting your sense of timing on the fritz and it’s reinforcing your them. Cultivate a healthy sense of detachment from your concerns and transform your anxiety into excitement. An adventurous attitude will help you out and take you far this week.


Feb. 19-March 20

Making change and improving things is awesome by all accounts, Pisces. But changing things for the sake of change — or before you are clear about what you really think — is a whole lot of action with very little point. Get emotionally grounded before you start shaking shit up. Don’t act out just because you’re fidgety, or you’ll give yourself something to get really restless about.

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