Volume 44 Number 03

Appetite: Cliff House hits 100, juicy “Appetite City”

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

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11/4 Cliff House Centennial Celebration
Cliff House is one of our San Francisco classics, surviving fires and decades with seaside dining over crashing waves and sunset vistas. In 1909, the third “fire-proof” incarnation was built by Adolph Sutro’s daughter, Dr. Emma Merritt, after the original two locations burnt to the ground. There have been numerous renovations, the last in 2004, two restaurants, the Bistro and more upscale Sutro’s, and George Morrone came on as chef for a time, raising menu offerings commensurate with the views.

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Cliff House’s centennial celebration is coming up on November 4. Though it does cost a lofty $175, there’s no other party quite like it. Benefiting Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, there will be an intriguing auction of period ball gowns made from recycled Cliff House menus, memorabilia and photographs, by 3D designer, Mari O’Connor. Fashion buffs, check out sketches of the gowns representing various eras throughout the century – sure to be a highlight of the night.

While savoring hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, there’s a Beach Blanket Babylon performance, dancing to the Reinhardt Swing Band or a DJ in the Terrace Room, historical exhibits, with hosts, Gene Burns and John Rothmann, of KGO radio, and comedian, Bob Sarlatte.

If that’s too much money to swing, commemorate 100 years in the Bistro on Wednesday nights with a $19.09 three-course prix fixe, or Sutro’s $20.09 three-course lunch every Tuesday, through the end of 2009.
Wednesday, November 4
6:30pm
$175
1090 Point Lobos
415-386-3330
Vintage attire or black tie eveningwear

www.cliffhouse.com

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Oct. 28 — William Grimes talks about his latest book, “Appetite City”, at Omnivore Books
William Grimes is a former restaurant reviewer for the New York Times whose book, Straight Up or on the Rocks: The Story of the American Cocktail, ignited my passion for the history of the cocktail, leading to excessive reading on the subject afterwards. His knowledge of drink and food is both broad and deep. I’m eager to hear him talk about his latest, Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York, at Omnivore Books in Noe next Wednesday. The book covers the daring, multicultural past of New York’s food scene with Grimes’ impeccable historical writing and attention to detail, plus more than 100 photographs and rare menus. Food and restaurant lovers will find something of interest here – but arrive early enough to squeeze into Omnivore’s small space.
Wed/28, 6-7pm, free
3885A Cesar Chavez
415-282-4712

Omnivore Books

Volume 44 Number 3 Flip-through Edition

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Night of the living theater

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER A small Texas ‘burb has just suffered attack by a horde of reanimated corpses, which can happen to anyone. But as luck would have it, the members of a bold experimental San Francisco theater company have taken it upon themselves to alight on the ravaged community, channel their story to the world, and thereby bestow on the good folk of Harwood "the healing that only theater can provide."

The actors of "the Catharsis Theatre Collective," dressed uniformly in black pants and tees, give or take a beret, begin by introducing themselves to the audience and explaining their modus operandi: in-depth interviews with a cross-section of the town’s population, whose personalities and stories they will then assume and relay to the audience as a living, breathing, documentary account.

We get reincarnations of the town’s mayor (Damian Lanahan), for instance, who happens also to be a car salesman, amid gradual intimations of a political cover-up and regular references to the superior craftsmanship in various makes of Toyotas. Or we hear from the proprietor of a local tavern (Ariane Owens) as she intones last call to her regulars on the night in question: "OK folks, you don’t have to go out and face the undead, but you can’t stay here." And, at steady intervals, we get the reenacted tale of three unlikely allies — an unabashed rocker dude (Ian Riley); a prissy and reluctant high school party chick (Owens); and an egotistical accountant (Drew Lanning) — holed up together through the night in an out-of-the-way cabin, where they battle an army of brain-eating creatures risen from the local cemetery (for reasons various characters are at pains to hypothesize over) while bickering ferociously among themselves.

As this familiar-sounding scenario of late-night TV and the multiplex develops, so too does another, equally familiar-sounding, meta-narrative, as we the audience get treated to the thoughts and feelings and interpersonal exchanges of the Catharsis members themselves, wrestling with the awesome responsibility of their task.

The real theatrical mavericks behind this Laramie-style "Zombie Project" are, of course, the members of Sleepwalkers Theatre, the talented young San Francisco–based company exclusively devoted to producing original plays. This gem is penned by Tim Bauer, a San Francisco playwright and former Texas resident, whose eye and ear for the culture clashes attendant not only in zombie movies but also between the humbler masses and certain rarified sections of the theater world makes Zombie Town a consistently witty treat. Sleepwalkers’ artistic director Tore Ingersoll-Thorp directs with an equally strong parodic sense a lively cast of living and post-living characters — played to perfection by an ensemble that could hardly be sharper or funnier were it to have a mining pick protruding from its collective forehead.

ZOMBIE TOWN

Through Nov. 7

Fri.–Sat., 8 p.m., $14–$20

Exit Stage Left

156 Eddy, SF

www.sleepwalkerstheatre.com

Northwestern soul

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arts@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER No way to keep it like a secret: word got out about Gossip. And so the direct descendants of riot grrrl were snatched up by whip-smart production savant Rick Rubin to join MGMT as two of the newish crown jewels in Columbia’s auspicious yet aging catalog. Three years along from Gossip’s last studio LP, Standing in the Way of Control (Kill Rock Stars) — a Euro chart-topper that landed Ditto on the cover of NME as a plus-size nudie-cutie pinup girl — one has to ponder, what is the Gossip today? Did the band lose momentum, lose its way, lose control, and give itself over to forces intent on monetizing the fire-starting gospel of its sweaty ‘n’ soulful, sexily politicized dance-punk? Gossip has always be a truly great live band — that much you can be sure of when the threesome plays the Regency Ballroom. But is the promise of major-labe success standing in the way of what was so perfectly raw and real about Gossip?

Maybe it was just the fangirl in me, but it seemed like Beth Ditto, Bruce Paine, and Hannah Blilie took forever crafting the new Music for Men (Columbia), which they say they wrote mostly in the Band-built Shangri La Studios in Malibu. The resulting production sounds expensively immaculate, and Ditto’s soprano sounds as girlishly high and tight as any dance-floor diva’s — except she’s the gospel- and punk club-bred belter who can hold her own in rougher, sparer surroundings than Madonna, Britney, et al. With Music for Men, the petite powerhouse is clearly placed in a new wave-soul continuum that includes Alison Moyet and Martha Wash, though she’s not out of line with such kindred Northwestern souls as the Blow and YACHT, who have pledged their allegiance to the power of the pop-R&B hook. Like those groups, Gossip sees pop-chart penetration as not so much a necessary evil as an evangelical act, a way of further remaking and openly subverting culture, injecting lyrics ala, "Guilty of love in the first degree / Dance like there’s nobody looking … Men in love / Men in love with each other," into the mainstream in a way that would probably warm the lush, lesbian-ic corners of Dusty Springfield’s and Leslie Gore’s hearts.

As Ditto warbles on "For Keeps," "Disappointment is the final word / DEVOtion is back breaking work," so don’t depend on the trio to play for keeps and simply serve up more sinewy, archetypal tunes like "8th Wonder" and bonus track "Spare Me from the Mold." Instead Gossip tries out all manner of passing guises: disco, house, hair-band, electro — from Stevie Nicks-style ’80s AOR-dance chug ("Heavy Cross") to DFA-derived moderne synth-boogie complete with cowbell ("Pop Goes the World"). Does it work? The latter number teases the borders of OTT pop, and I could use bold yet radio-friendly experimentation akin to "Vertical Rhythm," an ear-teasing dance of shifting, synthetic night grooves and a tense, descending rhythm guitar line. "I ain’t no better man," Ditto shouts, before the tune breaks out a big, fat, hairy, ’80s-rock riff and the hook that dare you to dismiss it. The song trails off with the vocalist cooing, "Do the right thing" — words to remember, long after Barack and Michelle’s first date and Music for Men are done. Just as the cover plays off the title — flirting with appeasing that desirable music-buying male demographic while proffering a gender-tweaking portrait of drummer Blilie — the song points to the increasingly subtle tango Ditto and company are undertaking: the challenge of doing the right thing, with a shifting, shattered world at their disposal. *

GOSSIP

With Men and We Are the World

Sun/25, 8 p.m., $20–<\d>$22

Regency Ballroom

www.theregencyballroom.com

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BUDGET ROCK 8

SF’s resident garage-rock legends the Mummies dust it off, along with the seldom-seen Gris Gris, Necessary Evils, Thee Oh Sees, the Fevers, and so much mo’. Thurs/22-Sun/25, Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF, www.bottomofthehill.com; Eagle Tavern, 398 12th St., SF, www.sfeagle.com; Thee Parkside, 1600 17th St., SF, www.theeparkside.com. Check venue sites for times and prices.

ISLANDS

Gimme more of that Diamonds-bright, hooktastic Vapors (Anti-). Fri/23, 9 p.m., $14. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

BRUTAL SOUND EFFECTS FESTIVAL NO. 67

Heading up the noise is Gowns high muck-amuck Ezra Buchla’s Compression of the Chest Cavity Miracle. With David Kendall, Sgt. Cobra Queef, Elise Baldwin, Horse Flesh, and VSLS. Sun/25, 8 p.m., $6. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com

Who the hell is Esinchill?

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC "Esinchill is one of the most … " Mistah F.A.B. pauses to reconsider. "No, Esinchill is the most underrated rapper in the Bay."

I agree, and "underrated" in this case means "underknown," because, once heard, Esinchill’s talents are undeniable. His is a lyrical wit based more on word choice ("I go from extremely docile to routinely hostile") than punchlines. With a million flows at his disposal, he’s equally able to freestyle or compose. Esinchill himself thematizes this: "Once you play me, then you like me, then you love me, and it’s ugly from there," he raps over the guitar-driven K-MAXX production "I Dare You," which opens Vigilante, his second solo album, released digitally (with CDs to follow) by Jake Records. Put him on a track with more famous rappers and, as F.A.B. says, "He overshines them all."

So why isn’t Esinchill better known? Partly because his career path has been atypical. The man born Erick Campbell started out with Digital Underground. He spent five years touring with DU, playing more than 200 nights a year, with crowds ranging from a couple hundred to 60,000. He even appears with DU on DJ Quik’s classic Balance & Options (Arista, 2000). Few Bay rappers can boast these types of credentials. Yet after two local releases — his solo debut Everything to Lose! (Rceason, 2002) and a duo disc with King Beef, Choice Cuts (Rceason, 2005) — Esinchill remains East Oakland’s best-kept secret.

"People don’t know how to market me," Esinchill says by phone from Atlanta, where’s he’s writing R&B and rock songs for Outkast’s Dungeon Family. Songwriting is Esinchill’s latest industry endeavor; in 2007, he even penned a Top 20 adult contemporary hit "Tuesday" for former Tower of Power singer Lenny Williams. His remark refers to the difficulty of landing a deal, but it also summarizes the second obstacle to his reputation: in the promiscuous world of Bay rap, where the primary way to build a buzz is through collaborations with well-known artists, the hard-to-categorize Esinchill remains aloof. He comes from the same East Oakland streets as gangsta rappers like Keak Da Sneak or Beeda Weeda, but he doesn’t rap about gangsta topics.

"If an artist chooses to rap about those kinds of things, selling dope, killing people, and robbing, it boxes you in," Esinchill says. "I would say the majority of the cats who rap like that don’t live that lifestyle. But I wouldn’t talk about nothing unless I’m doing it or seen it."

On the other hand, Esinchill’s not a backpack rapper. While there’s an undeniable political dimension to his work, it invokes direct emotional response. On "Where’s the Justice?" — the most overt number on the album, invoking the Black Panthers’ "Off the Pigs" — Esinchill tells of a DUI he got "when he wasn’t drivin’," shouting "I was a passenger! I was a passenger!" Anyone who has dealt with the arbitrary injustice of the police can identify, even as he emphasizes that whites don’t realize the extent of what African Americans endure regularly.

Such stranger-than-fiction personal anecdotes underscore what makes Esinchill compelling. Only on "All the Way Live," a parodic pimp song produced by Jake-One, does E assume a character. Otherwise he raps as himself, displaying an entire, idiosyncratic personality rather than the one-dimensional gangsta persona common even among great rappers. His lyrics retain their comic flair, but his subject matter is mostly serious, even somber.

"Growth is essential," Esinchill says, inadvertently punning on his name. "I’ve matured as a person, but also as an artist. And with song topics as well. Of course, I got the miscellaneous shit. But I also got thought-provoking songs and conceptual songs."

Such songs range include "Daddy Was a Sailorman," in which he travels through time to meet his 18-year-old father; "I Feel U," where he expresses his angst about a compendium of social evils; and "The ’70s," an homage to one of the characterful decades of the 20th century, featuring vocals by Latoya London — star of American Idol and the stage musical version of Color Purple — for whom E also has been writing songs. Aside from a few vocalists like London, David Hollister, and the Bay’s premier hookstress, Naté, collaborators are scarce, limited to the few locals who can vibe with Esinchill, like Casual from Hieorglyphics, and FAB himself. Otherwise E goes it alone, and the result is a true album. Apart from the Jacka’s long-awaited triumph Tear Gas (Artist Records/SMC), Vigilante has no competition among Bay releases this year.

"My goal is to put out hot shit and not fold under pressure to veer into the normal lane," Esinchill concludes. "At my core, I’m just different. I’m incapable of being normal, as far as music goes. I gotta stay to the left — that’s just me."

Manic pop thrill

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC In Guitar Hero 5, the avatar of Kurt Cobain is wearing a tee adorned with the cover of Daniel Johnston’s 1983 album, Hi, How Are You? (High Wire). The t-shirt presents a pop-eyed frog, Jeremiah the Innocent, one of the recurring characters within Johnston’s creative world.

Cobain helped catapult many musical cult heroes, among them the Melvins and the Raincoats, to new notoriety, and his devotion to Johnston was no exception. Although it’s hard to pinpoint which moment transformed Johnston into a somebody — K Records selling his homemade cassettes? his serendipitous MTV appearance? Cobain’s adoration? Jeff Feuerzeig’s 2005 documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston? — most Daniel Johnston stories are part of a narrative that defines him as an unstable artistic genius.

Johnston was born in 1961 to a Christian fundamentalist household in Sacramento. In the early 1980s, he spent most of his time in his parents’ cellar, writing songs. He recorded his seminal cassettes on a Sanyo mono boom-box. After a corndog-selling gig with a traveling circus, he eventually found himself — and went on to lose himself — in Austin, Texas. There, his popularity as a musician grew as his mental stability declined.

Johnston’s story has more twists than most — he’s been institutionalized multiple times, crashed a small plane his father was piloting, and contributed artwork to the 2006 Whitney Biennial. But in Fuerzeig’s documentary, Johnston’s odyssey ends where it began, with him making art at his parents’ home.

In the process of "growing up," most people put away the piano, the paintbrushes, and pen-and-paper in exchange for something practical. When contemputf8g the artist who never gives in to societal obligations, it isn’t uncommon to entertain the notion that creativity springs from craziness.

Some scientific evidence supports a link between creativity and bipolar disorder. Clinical psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison’s 1993 book Touched With Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament explains that during a manic phase, there is often a "fluency, rapidity, and flexibility of thought … and the ability to combine ideas or categories of thought in order to form new and original connection." Ideas often occur during the manic phase. During the artist’s melancholic periods, there is a refinement of such thoughts, requiring a more logical perspective to put the new ideas into practice.

Jamison discusses artists’ resistance to undergoing drug therapy — who would want to give up the highs and lows for mild numbness? In The Devil and Daniel Johnston, Johnston spends 1987 in bed on meds, and it does appear dismal. But Jamison advocates that untreated bipolar disorder may lead to suicide.

"All great artists are crazy," Austin Chronicle editor Louis Black says in The Devil and Daniel Johnston. "But there is a difference between the abstract creative person being crazy and this person doing damage to you or himself." Black questions how we, as individuals and as a society, should deal with the mentally ill. If we drug or institutionalize the crazy artist, who benefits: the individual, the friends and family, the fans — or art history? And which is most important?

If there are answers or solutions to such questions, they doesn’t reside in rotely accepting a cultural myth or a scientifically provable connection between creativity and craziness. First it helps to realize that there is a continuum between the "healthy" and the "mentally ill." Indeed, the collective understanding of what is sane and what is insane needs reevaluation. Many people live with psychotic traits but no debilitating symptoms. Each of us who has found comfort or a moment of recognition in Johnston’s lyrics has probably felt a tinge of what might be deemed mental illness.

With a distinctive quavering voice, Johnston sings tormented lyrics about universal themes — unrequited love and not giving up on your dreams — over ebullient and charming pop melodies. His music possesses a combination of craft and sincerity that appeals to the most basic human emotions. He is an oddball phenomenon whose biography provides clues to how the creative mind works. Amid all the chaos and the pain, Johnston continues on — with and without drugs, and definitely with the assistance of his family. His music, art, and life reflect a dichotomy between good vs. evil, hope vs. despair, and genius vs. madman. In the end, as captured in his most recent release Is and Always Was (High Wire), the good wins.

DANIEL JOHNSTON

with Hymns

Thurs/22, 8 p.m., $22.50–$25

Regency Ballroom

1290 Sutter, SF

www.theregencyballroom.com

Once upon a time in England

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Some roles wring from an actor something they never had before, or might again. Who now recalls Eric Bana’s Aussie sketch comedian startlingly reinvented as bulked-up Chopper (2000), that native continent’s most notorious psychotic extortionist-killer-jailbird-celebrity autobiographer? Bana killed — more vividly than in any part serving his subsequent, slightly bland Hollywood leading-hunk status.

Tom Hardy is another handsome bloke at risk of looking competent and versatile without fully impressing. Yet here comes Bronson, a film (and role) highly analogous to Chopper — offering up a dramatized "Man. Myth. Celebrity" (as per its ad line) of actual "worst prisoner in Britain." The real Michael Gordon Peterson, better known as "Charles Bronson" (a PR-minded friend fitted the Death Wish star as nom de notoriety), was an extreme anger-management case whose working-class struggle ended when he robbed a post office in 1974.

As the film details, prison spectacularly agreed with the then 22-year-old "Bronson." (At one point he was briefly released because his in-house mayhem was simply costing the government too much.) He enjoyed the tension and violence — between himself and fellow inmates as well as guards — so much that he got sent to a high-security psychiatric hospital. Worry not: even drugged to the gills, he managed to create ruckuses that won national attention. Shaved, tatted, and ‘roided (OK, maybe it was just hard work) up for the part, Hardy has a field day.

This is the second English-language directing effort by Dane Nicolas Winding Refn, of the crime-drama Pusher trilogy starring the formidable Mads Mikkelsen. His next film, Valhalla Rising — again with Mikkelsen — is a Viking survivalist tone poem, less action-adventure than Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972).

Bronson is, by contrast, utterly revved up in a way that’s showy but not at all dumbed-down. Hardy’s prankster-rageaholic portrayal emerges amid several flavors: ironic Pulchinella à la contemporary music-theatre sensation Anthony Newley (Stop the World — I Want to Get Off); Tom of Finland bad-muscle-daddy fantasy (complete with nervously "gay" undercurrent); and adrenaline exercise of mainstreamed, po-mo directorial testosterone.

The frequently full-frontal Bronson (here definitely a shower, dunno about the growing) is a protagonist of scarifying ingeniousness and overpowering egocentrism. He’s a diamond-polished metaphor — miscreant, clown-star, possible bipolar case, all that and less. But Refn’s film itself is pure cinematic inspiration at least half-transcending even a case of snarkish homophobia (Bronson’s most insidious foes are his most snarkily friendly) as you haven’t seen since … well, Chopper maybe?

The elements theatrically winking at themselves lowline a package whose self-conscious dazzle betters any Brit crime flick in decades — not at all excluding anything by that flash pony Guy Richie (whose forthcoming Arthur Conan Doyle desecration we will never speak of again). It’s perhaps the most nastily great, stylish English gangster-type movie since Sexy Beast (2000) or Gangster No. 1 (2000), with an equally, heedlessly past-ordinary-pharmaceutical-help id as protagonist.

BRONSON opens Fri/30 in San Francisco.

Lars loves lars

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Will history judge Lars von Trier as the genius he’s sure he is? Or as a humorless, slightly less cartoonish Ken Russell, whipping images and actors into contrived frenzies for ersatz art’s sake? You’re probably already on one side of the fence or the other. Notorious Cannes shocker Antichrist will only further divide the yeas and nays.

Seriously: why does von Trier’s particular misanthropy and misogyny make him an auteur with something to say about the human condition (as opposed to a neurotic whose particular hangups — fear of sex, for starters — might better work out in therapy)?

His endlessly violated, saintly, often pea-brained victims — previously played by Björk, Nicole Kidman, and Emily Watson — embody phony innocence to hammer home indictments of horrible humanity dependent on cartooned melodrama. Dogme 95’s "rules" briefly enlivened international cinema before becoming a tiresome fad. Less liberating than puritanical, their restrictions painted all other cinema decadent.

Antichrist does offers perhaps the most formally beautiful filmmaking von Trier’s bothered with since 1984’s The Element of Crime. Grieving parents Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe retreat to a forest primeval enabling widescreen images of poetic succulence. Yet that beauty only underlines Antichrist‘s garishness. One film festival viewer purportedly barfed onto the next row — and you too might recoil, particularly if unaccustomed to gore levels routinely surpassed by mainstream horror.

Does Antichrist earn such viewer punishment by dint of moral, character, narrative, or artistic heft? Like slurp it does. What could be more reactionary than an opening in which our protagonists "cause" their angelic babe’s accidental death by obliviously enjoying one another? Shot in "lyrical" slow-mo black and white, it’s a shampoo commercial hard-selling Victorian sexual guilt.

Later, Dafoe’s "He" clings to hollow psychiatric reason as only an embittered perennial couch case might imagine. Gainsbourg’s "She" morphs from maternal mourner to castrating shrike as only one terrified of femininity could contrive. They’re tortured by psychological and/or supernatural events existing solely to bend game actors toward a tyrant artiste’s whims.

There’s no devil here — just von Trier’s punitive narcissism. His fuzzed point is finally just old-school, arted-up revulsion toward that gender that both engulfs and births the male member. Antichrist offers the punitive sound of Lars’ one hand, slapping.

ANTICHRIST opens Fri/23 in San Francisco.

Batty up

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superego@sfbg.com

SUPER EGO Hi, I’m a big faggot who loves reggae. And I’m not alone in my puff-puff-pass pinkness — not just because everyone goes through an "experimental reggae phase" in college, but because I see tons of queer kids getting down to reggae-derived dancehall and reggaeton hits at the Crib parties (www.thecribsf.com) and the Café (www.cafesf.com). I’ve run into other reggays at the always welcoming Jah Warrior Shelter Hi Fi events (www.jahwarriorshelter.com), Dub Mission joints (www.dubmissionsf.com), and Reggae Gold nights (www.reggaegoldsf.com). And praise Miss Jah for all the laidback homo hotties at the annual Reggae in the Park fest.

Yet in the latest round of queer-reggae controversy, I felt like a rarer bird than ever. Here’s the bones: Almost 20 years ago, a young Jamaican reggae-dancehall singer named Buju Banton wrote a really catchy song called "Boom Bye Bye" that advocated murdering queer batty boys like me by, among other things, riddling us with Uzi bullets and melting us in tires. Charming. It made him famous, he still sells tons of downloads, and he seems to have no regrets. Every time he comes around on tour, members of the gay community get rightly pissed and attempt to shut him down. That’s what happened Oct. 12 when Banton was set to perform at San Francisco’s Rockit Room. Somewhat amazingly, Banton, who claims to have embraced a "more peaceful" lifestyle and to no longer perform "Boom," agreed to meet with gay folk for the first time. Everyone involved listened to each other for an hour, and the show went ahead as planned — this time at least with channels open and peaceful protests outside the club.

The frustrating part to me was watching many people on both sides overreact, allowing the whole issue to blow up into a giant "queers vs. reggae" thing, rather than a protest targeting one specific hater. People who should know better immediately raised the stakes into the ridiculous. At one point, SF Weekly falsely accused lead protester Pollo Del Mar of bursting into the concert in full drag and pepper-spraying the crowd, yeesh. Yes, my gays, reggae Rastafarianism is as queer-hating as most other religions, but there’s no such thing as "homophobic music," only homophobic people. Reggae, like hip-hop and rock, is a broad trope that encompasses all kinds of expression. You don’t have to be conflicted to be a fan. And no, Buju-heads, this wasn’t an attack by wily "gay activists" on reggae culture — and, by extension, black culture. Gayness isn’t a white thing, no matter what the Jamaican government says to justify its persecution of queers there. Many Buju defenders also keep framing the continuing nationwide protests as an attack on Banton’s freedom of speech. It’s not. He can say whatever he wants; it’s saying it in our community and making money off of it that people object to.

I have friends in each camp, and it sucked dreaded pubes to hear coded racism and homophobia creep into their comments. Worse, though, was the sense that we were all being played. This exact same thing happened three years ago when Banton came to town. Once again his name was in all the papers, like this one. Once again, his fanbase solidified in the face of a perceived threat. Tickets to his show were $40. Just sayin’.

KID SISTER

Electro hipsters, set your heads to explode. The spunky neon-rap artist and Swedish Pop Mafia protégé hits the Rickshaw bricks with toothy duo Flosstradamus.

Thu/22, 9 p.m., $20. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF. www.rickshawstop.com

THE VERY BEST

MIA aptly channels Siouxsie Sioux on the wonderful Malawi-Parisian trio’s border-hopping, genre-popping debut, Warm Heart of Africa (Green Owl).

Fri/23, 10 p.m., $12 advance. 103 Harriet, SF. www.1015.com

CYRUS

The hypnotic dubstep originator heads a brutal Brit train of bass mechanics, including Cluekid, Kutz, and Darkside, in honor of Big Up mag’s first birthday.

Sat/24, 10 p.m.–3 a.m., $20. Paradise Lounge, 1501 Folsom, www.paradisesf.com

STEPPIN’

Who’s ready for a boogaloo revival? Knock out your Nuyorican doowops with some shaggy mambo as the Steppin’ band, featuring trumpet legend Oscar Myers, jazzes up Madrone. Total hot cakes.

Tuesdays, 9 p.m., $3. Madrone Art Bar, 500 Divisadero, SF. www.madronelounge.com

Stayin’ alive

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DANCE Oakland Ballet Company refuses to die. Its latest resurrection happened Oct. 16-17, after Ronn Guidi’s abrupt resignation in April had issued what used to be a thriving East Bay institution’s most recent death certificate. But some people can’t take no for an answer, and we all should be grateful to them. In this particular case, it’s the dancers — some veterans of the Oakland troupe, some freelancers but also members of Ballet San Jose and Smuin Ballet — who stepped into the breach. The choreographers donated their works. All but one of the pieces, Amy Seiwert’s Revealing the Bridge, had been performed by Oakland Ballet before. These works offered a glimpse of why the company has been such a vital part of Bay Area dance. It may have made a reputation for itself with the Diaghilev repertoire, but it was equally important in fostering contemporary ballet choreography, much of it locally grown.

The company, under the temporary leadership of Oakland veterans Michael Lowe and Jenna McClintock, has much going for itself: some money in the bank, a wealth of talent, and the good will of its audiences. Performing at Holy Names College — where the old company performed when money was really tight — brought in a crowd of young people, some of whom seemed new to ballet.

Book-ending three pas de deux with two ensemble pieces made for a varied, agreeably pleasing program that showcased ballet-speak in any number of dialects. Alonzo King’s 1990 Love Dogs showed him in much a less angular mood than his later works; Carlos Carvajal’s "Wedding Pas de Deux" from Crystal Slippers enlivened a grand tradition with young love; Seiwert’s Bridge smoothly stretched space. Val Caniparoli’s congenial and rhythmically smart Street Songs opened the evening; Lowe’s Double Happiness closed it with excellent duet work, but rather bumpy ensemble dancing.

Pears and pairings

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le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS There’s that stretch of Fillmore Street between the Western Addition and Japantown. I’m rarely there, but when I am, it amazes and amazes me how otherworldly it increasingly becomes. Chains, boutiques, chains … It’s so sort-of centrally San Francisco, yet you forget where you are and can easily become disoriented.

Or worse: disillusioned.

I have started out looking for a bite, and wound up desperately turned around, trying in vain to get back on a freeway that isn’t there, never was, and never will be.

Why does it look like this, and what does it look like? A cross between the worst of New Mexico and the best of Iowa. I don’t know. I’m redisoriented, just thinking about it.

It’s not that I can’t decide. I can: I want everything both ways.

And there I was, on my pointless way from point A to point B, and I needed a little something to chew on in my car.

Did I tell you I was studying German? Yep. It started last spring after the first time I said bye-bye to my bilingually bisexually both-gendered and many-named new lover Romea at the airport. I wanted to be able to say, basically, I love you, but a million different ways, and in German. So I haven’t stopped studying since, although my goals have changed a little.

Or I should say broadened.

But I practice in my car, a lot, and the other day I accidentally said to Crawdad in English, in a kitchen in Berkeley, without thinking, "Can I this pear eat?"

Which, when I realized what I’d done, thrilled the bejesus out of me. The sentence was grammatically perfect, in German, and the pear, unblinkingly granted by Crawdad, was delicious and crisp.

I used to only like pears that made my gums bleed. Now I like all kinds. Not yet ready ones, the over-ready yellow ones that bruise when you look at them, Asian pears … Pears are good. And this one was perfect, just like the grammar that got me it.

And got me out of my Fillmore Street predicament. Which, saying so …

Well, there’s a barbecue place there I think, but I didn’t see it. And then at the last minute, just as I was about to lose my sense of reality forever and ever and become a duck — about a block from Geary and, therefore, Japantown — I started to see one or two realistic looking Korean joints, and this: the Fillmore Mexican Grill & American Deli.

A burrito would be just the thing. I love eating burritos in my car, because then you find the beans and rice and things in the cracks between seats, or under them, many months later, and remember. And, too, there was an open parking space right in front, which meant I could leave the car unlocked and wouldn’t have to worry about anyone stealing my dirty soccer socks and unspit sunflower seeds.

Cavalierly did I step up to the counter, where I was immediately unhorsed by the appearance of an Asian woman who took my order and, in so doing, made my day. A lot of people would be put off by Asian-run Mexican grills, or vice versa. In fact at one time in my life I might have been guilty of similar small-mindednesses. Now I cherish such plot-twists, and for years have secretly wondered how the sentence "What kind of beans?" would sound with an Asian accent.

So I ordered my burrito.

"What kind of beans?" she said.

I swooned, and pretended not to understand so she would say it again, but instead she only listed my choices: pinto, refried, etc.

I said, "Refried."

They only had one kind of salsa, which was green and good. And the chips were freshly homemade, or at least seemed so, which is all that really matters. And some other things.

Oh, it was a pretty good burrito. It was alright. Nothing otherwise special, except I should point out that one of their meat choices (the one I got) is chicken and steak, and another is steak and prawn, and still another is salmon and prawn.

These are a little more expensive, yes, but, you know, so is life when you are Gemini.

FILLMORE MEXICAN GRILL

Sun.–Thu., 10 a.m.–9 p.m.;

Fri.–Sat., 10 a.m.–-midnight

1552 Fillmore, SF

(415) 921-9900

Beer

MC/V/AE/D

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

The zone

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andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea:

I read an article (I think it was in Redbook) that listed six little known erogenous zones or "hot zones." One was big toes, which they said has a direct connection to the genitals. And one was tip of the nose, which they said it is an erotic area because people get stuffy noses sometimes when they have sex. I don’t know. Is there really such a thing as an erogenous zone? What would it take for something to be a real erogenous zone? And is it worth learning these to turn my husband on? We have a good sex life, but sometimes it does seem like we just touch the same places the same way all the time.

Love,

Looking

Dear Look:

Well, don’t do that. You don’t need a list of unlikely or downright unerotic body parts (I have allergies; don’t touch it if you don’t want to get sneezed on) to inspire you to branch out a little. In the event that you do need such a list, here are some nongenital, sexually responsive spots for your perusal: nipples, necks, ears, armpits, lower backs, inner thighs, backs of knees, feet. Some of these are "erogenous" simply because they are adjacent to more traditionally eroticized areas (by the time someone’s got to your inner thigh, it’s a pretty good bet he’s going to keep going) and/or because the skin there is thin and well-supplied with both blood vessels and nerve-endings. Some do seem to have their own independent set of erotic responses (fingers, toes). And while we’re at the toes, some body parts seem to have sex lives all their own, quite divorced from any nearby genitals. Feet have their own admirers and magazines and special party nights at the sex clubs and more than 4.7 million Google hits. They don’t need a good address near the genitals to throw a party.

I think I found your article. It’s by Judy Dutton, who is, not at all coincidentally, the author of the book Redbook’s 500 Sex Tips. I guess I had Redbook filed as a "ladies’" magazine, but on closer examination, it’s more Cosmo (Dutton was an editor there too) than McCall’s. I found more "Six filthy things men want you to know" and "16 essential sex techniques you’ve never heard of" and "the top 26 mistakes you’re making in bed" articles from Redbook than I could count, though it appears the Redbook editors would have no trouble totting them up. There was even a "Top 40: excerpts from our steamiest sex articles." And in addition to what I think was our article, there were six other Redbook offerings on erogenous or "hot zones."

The Hot Zone was one of the books I read a few years ago while on an infectious diseases kick, after I had exhausted my household’s considerable stock of bubonic plague titles. So I don’t think I’m really comfortable seeing the phrase applied to, say, labia. "Erogenous zones" itself is a phrase so redolent of the ’70s, I can’t help imagining anyone who talks about them as a mustachioed gent in a denim and corduroy patchwork bell-bottomed suit. And that is not in the "hot zone," not for me. So, not knowing what to call them, here are some of the, uh, places in the article.

Big toe We’ve already established that toes and feet are both sexually responsive (to varying degrees) and the object of enormous sexual interest, but we have not established that there is any merit whatsoever to "reflexology." So there is no merit to the claim made here that stimuutf8g them "activates reflexology pathways connected to your genitals." Nor do we know that pressing on the soles of the feet can "cause energy to ‘bubble up’ the legs to the genitals." I’m not saying it can’t, mind you. Just that there’s no particular reason for it to do so.

Nose Swelling of the mucus membranes in there is a fairly common side effect of both Viagra and regular old sexual arousal. It just doesn’t particularly follow that nasal play adds to sexual arousal. And I wouldn’t pursue it during flu season.

Navel "Your navel and your clitoris have a lot in common. In the womb, these two regions grow from the same tissue, linking them neurologically in adulthood." I have no idea what this person is talking about. Also, lots of people cannot bear to have their navels prodded. It’s just too … internal. "It feels like you’re touching my soul," an old boyfriend once said. "And I don’t want you to."

We don’t really have to go on, do we? I have nothing against Redbook, but these list-type articles are a perennial favorite of lazy magazine editors, and writers gamely do their best to produce them, month after month after month. I once had a job writing lists just a tiny bit like this one for an only-just-passably-reputable men’s magazine, and you know how I managed it?

I made them up.

Love,

Andrea


(If you’re interested: www.redbookmag.com/love-sex/advice/surprise-sexy-spots-ll)

See Andrea’s other column at carnalnation.com.

Vicious skate

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Like many artists, Henry Gunderson, a 19-year-old who attends the San Francisco Art Institute, focuses on "process, not product." But the similarity ends there. Gunderson’s paintings have a diaphanous, primordial sensibility; it’s a dog-eats-dog world, as depicted in his piece Everybody Eats Somebody, wherein fish begets vulture begets cat begets a winged bird with human molars lined up in the forefront for kicks.

Gunderson’s paintings have been showcased at Fecal Face Dot Gallery, 111 Minna Gallery, and White Walls in SF, and will be seen soon in San Diego at Subtext Gallery and Toronto at Show and Tell Gallery. His is no drip-drop kitsch art. His work brings vivifying eyeplay over landscapes of faces and bodies. It possesses the bright polychromy of baroque art, but with individual sketches of a skateboard or two thrown in for visual effect. Such juxtapositions and themes of overlapping parasitism are characteristic. At times stupefying, Gunderson’s figurative images are evidence of an enviable talent. The hard edges, flattened spaces, and sharp dissecting corners are not quite George Braque and not quite Henry Darger. This juggernaut of faces and beheaded bodies and faces is Gunderson’s world, or at least the one he retreats to on canvas. He’s running on a different engine, and his images hum and even hurt the teeth a little, but in a good way.

I recently met up with Gunderson — a lanky figure in turtle-green skinny jeans and a striped shirt — at his school studio at the San Francisco Art Institute.

SFBG At what age did you decide you liked to draw?

Henry Gunderson Since I was really young, I remember liking to draw just like any kid. I think I started out with crayons on walls.

SFBG What would you call the painting that you’re working on right now?

HG This one’s untitled at the moment, and it’s done with acrylic paint like many of my other paintings. I usually don’t title my work until I feel it’s done.

SFBG What would you say is the message behind some of your other paintings?

HG The piece Everybody Eats Somebody shows the hierarchy of animals in the food chain, but it also carries an underlying message about human beings.

SFBG And what would that be?

HG We’re vicious animals too. What exists in other animals also exists in human nature.

SFBG What are your goals? What would you like people to take away from your art?

HG Not a direct message, really, but just an emotion when they look at the painting — any emotion, even depression. Usually when I am drawing, I don’t really focus on how others will take in the finished product. I just kind of space out and really get into what I am doing.

SFBG Do you want to channel your talent into a future career, or will painting always be more of a side thing?

HG Hopefully it would be a career path I can make a living from, but I’d like to stick to my own vision and not do too much commercial stuff. I’ve always pretty much [maintained] my own way of doing things, and my art is no different. If people like what they see, then that’s great. I don’t have too many commercial goals, and I hope I never will have to use that medium for my art.

DJing in the digital age

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC The laptop has become the principal tool for DJ performances. At shows, you can catch a glimpse of the Apple logo glowing almost sentiently to the bass. The DJs’ eyes peer back and forth from screen to turntables as she or he manipulates equipment like a robotically engineered Vishnu. Well, unless he’s using just a laptop. Much has changed in the DJ world. Technological advances have challenged skill-based hierarchies and effectively thrown into peril the once essential roles of turntables and vinyl.

In the winter of 2001, the Dutch company N2IT released vinyl emulation software called Final Scratch. The software allowed users to physically regulate the playback of digital audio files on the turntables. In simpler terms, it allowed users to play and scratch any MP3 as if it were a record. But what really set it above other audio-mixing technology was its digital interface, which displayed visual cues, making fundamental DJing skills easier to master. No more need for a massive record collection, or an ear for beat matching, or a talent for juggling breaks.

The rapid digital evolution of DJing is strange to those with an attachment to vinyl. "I was blown away when I went to a younger DJ’s house, and he had a setup but no records," says left coast megamix master DJ King Most. "That’s almost like a painter who just illustrates on a computer and doesn’t own an easel or set of brushes." Most still takes advantage of Serato’s Final Scratch software’s undeniably helpful capabilities: for one, it allows him to play edits and remixes without pressing them to wax, so he can travel without carrying 100 pounds of plastic discs. Nonetheless, the democratization of DJing has saturated the social milieu with hobbyists and amateurs. "Anybody with a laptop now DJs; anybody with a beat making-program makes beats; anybody with a camera makes videos for YouTube," Most says.

In only a few years, completely digital DJing has not only become popular but dominant. Now all you need to blend and manipulate prerecorded sounds is a laptop and music production software, Ableton Live being the most popular program. Old school analog equipment is being abandoned. But while Ableton allows non-DJs to make up for their lack of experience and skill, it also enables a whole new range of options for the creative-minded. "The sport is not about matching beats from one record to the next, back and forth for two hours," explains experimental electronic musician Bassnectar. "In fact, now there is no sport — just an ongoing explorative relationship with the balance of shades of intensity between groups of people and waves of sound."

Bassnectar (a.k.a. Lorin Ashton) wholeheartedly embraces the inchoate freedom spawned from new audio technology. Infamous for creating compelling live laptop performances, he’s attuned to the aesthetic possibilities of mixing, moduutf8g, and transforming sonic elements. "Ableton Live makes it possible to execute real-time remixes and mashups of any sound or song, with less than five seconds of prep time," he says. "It allows for limitless combinations and recombinations." Those open-ended horizons might prove daunting for artists who prefer restraint when shaping their creative work. But Bassnectar faces the challenge head-on, affirming his commitment to innovate and improvise by channeling the power of the machine. "It’s like being a stand-up comedian, where you can seamlessly weave together every funny joke ever told. and tell it in any language, accent, or context while adding sound effects and mastering it all on the spot."

Despite exciting new approaches to laptop DJing, many DJs still choose the turntable as their primary vehicle of expression. A few musicians demonstrate that the turntable’s creative avenues are far from exhausted. San Francisco funk outfit F.A.M.E. (Fresh Analog Music Experience) christened themselves after their corporeal approach to making soulful, hypnotic music. The funksters of F.A.M.E. — Max Kane, Teeko, and Malaguti — embrace the turntablist and battling tradition of using the wheels of steel as a musical instrument to experiment with melody, rhythm, and editing. "[The turntable] is a huge sound manipulator," Teeko says. "You’re putting a record on a turntable and you can touch the sound, transpose it — you have control of the textures of time and space. It’s very intimate."

Teeko and Max Kane both use the Vestax Controller One turntable, for which Teeko provided design input. The Controller One is a sleek model with MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) control, memory, and customizable keyboard buttons for moduutf8g textures and harmonies. "It’s allowed us to play with the turntable like we always dreamed," says Teeko. F.A.M.E. incorporates the turntable imaginatively, with a full-fledged electronic funk setup of MPC drum machines, synthesizers, effects modulators, and Vocoder. It’s the defining element that makes their live performance provocative, as a thick haze of warm boogie grooves is coarsely flipped by the scratching of records. "I couldn’t see myself giving up the turntable" says Max Kane. "The turntable has driven us, [it’s] our hunger for wanting more. The turntable is what you will look at and say, ‘Wow, this is something that I haven’t seen or heard before.’"

Video turntablist pioneer Mike Relm also learned the ropes of DJing on the Bay Area battle circuit. He refined his artistry doing extended opening sets for live acts, bringing a skill for party rocking and a flair for pathos to virtuoso scratch DJ techniques. But even that lost its appeal. Relm yearned to study film and direct his own narratives from scratch. Then, in 2004, Pioneer released DVJ turntables, allowing the physical playback and manipulation of DVDs. "All of a sudden, I could combine all the things I loved and make a show out of that," Relm says. "That was always science fiction to us. We would think, ‘Man, imagine if you could scratch a VHS tape or something. That would be dope … but it will never happen.’ And now it’s even better."

DJs or VJs experimenting with audiovisual performance are a fairly new species in the nightlife arena. Sometimes they’re booked only because of their novelty. Many VJs play solely music videos, train-wrecking imagery of Biggie Smalls and Lady Gaga to intoxicated gawkers rendered motionless by the phantasmagoria onslaught. But Relm doesn’t create a spectacle so much as a theatrical collage that implicates the audience. His shows make reference to a dense pop landscape peopled with TV shows, film clips, music videos, and random bits of cultural nostalgia that connect the audience. "I like the pace of a concert," explains Relm. "It stops to give the audience time to react, take a break, talk among themselves for a second, tell jokes — so you get a lot of emotions."

In Relm’s view, and in the view of every musician in this piece, technology is only as good as the expressive and artistic quality it facilitates. Eric San, a.k.a. the gifted producer and turntablist Kid Koala, frames it most succinctly. His words might as well become an aphorism in the DJ world, if not within any art form struggling to come to terms with its digital mutations. "It’s not what machines you’re using, but what you’re making with those machines." says San. "It’s never about letting the machine do the work for you, but rather that you need to master the machine and speak through it." Amen.

BASSNECTAR AT "SEA OF DREAMS"

With Ozomatli, Ghostland Observatory, and others

Dec. 31, 9 p.m., $75-$125

Concourse Center

635 Eighth St., SF

www.seaofrdreamsnye.com

Killing the dream

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tredmond@sfbg.com

When the first issue of the Bay Guardian hit the stands in 1966, it was still really possible to talk about the California dream. The state had seemingly limitless potential and was in many way a model for the nation — a free public university system that was the envy of the world, an economy that provided jobs to hundreds of thousands of new arrivals, the beginnings of what would be the nation’s premier environmental movement pushing to save San Francisco Bay, save the coast, save Lake Tahoe … and the Free Speech Movement, the Summer of Love, the United Farm Workers Union, and so much more that was transforming politics and culture in the United States from the West Coast.

Twelve years later, it was all falling apart. Eight years of Gov. Ronald Reagan and then the passage of Proposition 13 launched a very different kind of movement out of the West, a movement that sought to dismantle the public sector and the social safety net, to treat government as the enemy, and to use culture wars to convince working-class Americans to vote against their own economic interests.

And now California is being described as the nation’s first failed state. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — the second Republican actor to hold that role — has driven the state to the brink of bankruptcy. The University of California is drowning in red ink, raising fees and turning away students. The state’s water system is a mess; cities and counties are in fiscal collapse; the economy’s in the tank; and nobody seriously talks about a California dream anymore.

The story of how that happened — and how the diseases of tax-revolts, privatization, government corruption, and public disempowerment spread east from California — is the focus of this 43rd anniversary issue. It’s both enlightening and a bit scary to read through old issues, because in hundreds of stories over the past four decades, the Guardian has warned of exactly what was to come.

The very first issue of the Bay Guardian talked about the "historic election" pitting the incumbent, Democrat Pat Brown, against Reagan. A lot of people in the emerging "new left" were arguing that there wasn’t a bit of difference between the two, and that you might as well sit out the election. But the Guardian had a different take. The election was really about the direction California wanted to go, the paper said, a choice between a state that cares about the public sector and social welfare and a state where those things don’t matter.

"Reagan’s stands typify the temper of the cause," the Nov. 7, 1966 editorial stated. "He is on record, at various times, in opposition to the progressive income tax, Social Security, Medicare, the anti-poverty program, farm subsidies, the TVA, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, public housing, federal aid to education, and veterans hospitalization for anything other than service-connected disabilities. How can a man or a movement govern the state of California with such a political philosophy?"

Reagan’s election may have seemed like a fluke, but it was nothing of the sort. By the mid 1960s, with the counterculture — and equally important, the economic left — looking to make major inroads in American policy, the broad outlines of a right-wing attack plan were in place.

That’s something the Guardian always recognized — that powerful people who moved the levers of government typically did so with a long-term plan.

In San Francisco, part of that plan was the transformation of a human-scale city to a West Coast version of Manhattan. The idea: tear up South of Market (then mostly low-income housing) for a shiny new convention center and hotels. Dump dozens of big high-rise office buildings downtown. Construct a fixed-rail system to carry suburban commuters into the dense downtown. Drive up property values — massively — and if that means blue collar jobs and working class people had to go to make way for wealthier office workers, so be it. In the end, of course, the architects of the plan — landowners, developers, bankers, and big business leaders — became immensely wealthy.

On the state and national level, their plans were broader. Even so, they had one major aim: throttle the pubic sector. Cut off the funding for government programs, reduce regulations, undermine any concept of a welfare estate — and cut taxes on the rich.

As we report on page 8, the architects of this plan are happy today to talk about how it worked — how Reagan launched his war on government back in the 1970s, how a group of well-funded think tanks developed plans, and political consultants took advantage of people’s fears (and the Democratic Party’s failures) to put those plans into action.

The movement really got off the ground in 1978 with the passage of Proposition 13.

Prop. 13 emerged from a state in the middle of a massive growth spurt and a heated political cauldron of money, race, and Legislative failure. Howard Jarvis, a Republican landlord lobbyist who hated taxes, hated government, hated public schools, and disdained most Californians — "63 percent of [public school] graduates are illiterate" and would have no need for public libraries, he once quipped — took advantage of a gaping hole in political leadership and set off a movement that would cripple the United States of America.

The measure marked the final, fatal end in California of the era known as the ’60s — a period when the left was ascendant, when taxes on the wealthy funded education, infrastructure and programs for inner cities, and when economic and cultural liberalization seemed to be spreading across the nation.

Rising property values, driven by rapid population growth, were driving up property taxes — and the problem was real. Long-time residents, particularly people on fixed incomes, saw their taxes rise so high they couldn’t afford to stay in their homes. The Legislature could have addressed that (with, say, a split-roll measure that taxed residential and commercial property at different rates) but utterly failed to move on the crisis.

A series of assessor’s office scandals didn’t help, either. And, at the same time, the California Supreme Court ruled that rich school districts had to share revenue with poor districts, infuriating wealthy white property owners.

Jarvis and his partner Paul Gann circulated petitions to roll back property taxes and make it almost impossible to raise taxes in the future. It passed with 65 percent of the vote.

Of course, big businesses (particularly utilities) were the big winners. As the Guardian pointed out on June 1, 1978, the top five utilities in California alone (including Pacific Gas and Electric Co.) would gain billions from the tax cuts.

But beneath it all was a simmering discontent with government — something Jarvis had set afire and would later be used by Ronald Reagan and the right-wing operatives who backed him to undermine the New Deal, the social safety net, and the basic social contract in America. The antitax folks played to white people who didn’t want to see their money going to minorities, to the middle-class folks who thought (thanks to the assessor scandals) their tax money was being wasted by corruption — and to a lot of younger people coming out of the 1960s who had learned from Vietnam, COINTELPRO, and Watergate not to trust government.

The Bay Guardian opposed the measure strongly: "Most analyses indicate that without replacement taxes, hundreds of thousands of California public servants would be thrown out of work (which is exactly what Howard Jarvis intends) … " a May 18, 1978 editorial noted. "Vote for Prop. 13 only if you favor decreased government services (including cutbacks in everything from libraries to schools to street-cleaning crews and possibly police and fire departments) and are fond of half-baked measures that favor the rich."

Prop. 13 set off a national movement to cut taxes — and riding that wave, Reagan was elected president in 1980. He immediately set about attempting to slash taxes on big business and the wealthiest Americans, and eliminate environmental, workplace safety, and employment regulations.

You can see the results in California — and across the nation. The very strategies that emerged in this state and that the right has supported over the years have come very close to destroying the United States economy, leaving millions out of work — while the gap between the rich and the poor has risen to unsustainable levels.

Part of the reason this national attack on government and the public sector worked was the failure of Democrats to recognize that corruption matters. It was no small wonder that Californians were losing faith in government — in the 1970s and 1980s, the state Legislature, under the Democratic control of Speaker Willie Brown, was awash in sleaze, paralyzed by lobbyist influence and campaign money. Yet leading Democrats, fearful of Brown’s power, did little to reign in the appalling corruption.

In fact, when Brown became mayor of San Francisco, the entire Democratic Party, from the president of the United States on down, seemed to treat him as royalty — despite the fact that he was selling the city to every developer and corporate lobbyist who waved money under his nose. When taxpayers knew that a large part of their money was going to fund juicy jobs for Brown’s cronies and pet projects, it was hard to argue for higher taxes.

And it was the Democratic Party leadership in San Francisco who presided over two of the greatest examples of privatization of public resources in modern history: the Presidio and the Raker Act. Rep. Nancy Pelosi was the author of the bill that, for the first time, turned a national park over to the private sector — and hardly a Democratic leader in the city dared to lift a finger in opposition. And for decades — since the Guardian first broke the story in 1969 — the city’s Democratic power brokers have bowed and genuflected to PG&E and allowed the private utility to control the local electric grid and block implantation of the federal law that mandates public power for San Francisco.

And now PG&E wants to pull off one of the greatest feats of privatization in American history. The company has launched a ballot initiative that would wipe out any further attempts at public power in California, essentially guaranteeing that private companies, not the public sector, control the vast, critical resource of electric power in this state.

It’s the latest big battle between two divergent visions of America — and this time, the folks who have done so much damage to this state and this nation can’t be allowed to win. In fact, maybe the campaign against PG&E can be the turning point, the time when California realizes that privatization, attacks on the public sector, tax cuts for the rich, and political sleaze are a formula for disaster.

Attack of the right-wing nuts

0

news@sfbg.com

In April 2006, with the approval ratings of President George W. Bush plummeting, his senior political advisor, Karl Rove, began discussing a plan to turn things around.

His strategy: attack progressive organizations that were registering low-income people to vote and helping them fight corporate power — and claim it was about voter fraud.

The main White House target, newly released records show, was the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). By the end of 2006, Rove would oversee the removal of eight U.S. attorneys, including two who refused to press bogus charges against ACORN in New Mexico and Missouri, and a third under similar suspicions in Washington state.

ACORN made a convenient target for Rove and his gang — and the well-orchestrated attacks on that group, which have exploded into the headlines this year, provide a compelling case study in how the right wing operates in this country.

Although it was the GOP that removed tens of thousands of likely Democratic voters from the rolls in the 2000 and 2004, the Republicans and their allies were able to make the issue of voter fraud all about ACORN, using a handful of isolated problems to undercut an organization focused on giving a voice to poor people.

Founded in Little Rock, Ark. at the end of the 1960s, ACORN has grown into the nation’s top community-organizer group, thanks to success in improving poor people’s housing, wages, and educational access. By the eve of the 2008 presidential election, ACORN had helped register more than 1.3 million voters — mostly young, low-income minorities — in 21 states, including the battleground states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio.

As The Nation put it, these successes made ACORN “something of a right-wing bogeyman.”

And while the recent furor over a conservative videographer secretly taping ACORN employees saying dumb things has somehow become one of the big political stories of the year, the major media have mostly ignored how this attack is part of a larger conservative strategy.

In August, hundreds of pages of e-mails and transcripts related to the 2006 U.S. attorney-firing scandal were released to the press and public — but few news outlets mentioned that Rove was focused on attacking ACORN’s voter registration efforts, even though ACORN and voter fraud are repeatedly mentioned in these documents.

“This is about a campaign that goes back a decade to big business and that people who don’t like what ACORN does and is effective at — namely, helping groups to organize and put pressure on banks around sub[prime] mortgage loans to stop racial discrimination,” Peter Dreier, a professor of politics at Occidental College, told us.

It wasn’t really about voter fraud. As former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, a Republican from New Mexico, recently stated on The Rachel Maddow Show: “They were looking at numbers [and] didn’t like the demographic tidal wave that was coming their way so they wanted to engage the machinery of the Justice Department to stop that wave.”

After two years of investigating ACORN and other supposed perpetrators of left-wing voter fraud, Igelias said, “I couldn’t find one case I could prosecute.”

But for the right-wing attack machine, it didn’t matter — the damage was done.

 

THEIR MASTERS’ VOICE

White House communications strategist Anita Dunn created a stir in mid-October when she told CNN host Howie Kurtz that Fox News “is really more of a wing of the Republican Party. … Let’s not pretend they’re a news network like everybody else is.”

It didn’t take long for Fox commentator Glenn Beck to retaliate. In a series of broadcasts, he attacked Dunn, compared the Obama administration to a communist dictatorship, and likened the criticism to the Holocaust. “Ask yourself this question,” Beck said during a radio segment, vaguely addressing people he called “good journalists” at other mainstream news networks. “When they’re done with Fox, and you decide to speak out on something — it’s the old ‘first they came for the Jews, and I wasn’t Jewish.'” Beck concluded the segment by warning his audience, “this is how a dictatorship always starts.”

Beck’s comment may strike San Francisco progressives as outrageous, but given the rhetoric routinely issuing from the right-wing megaphone, it’s also 100 percent predictable.

But when Dunn called Fox News Channel an arm of the GOP, she was dead on. Consider the history of its chairman and CEO, Roger Ailes, who ran Richard Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign and later those of presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, guiding them all to victory through his brilliant and successful media campaign strategies.

“Roger Ailes is a newsman with a profound disdain for newsmen,” according to a New York magazine profile. “Fox News is being promoted as an anti-network, a news channel designed to appeal to the people … who don’t trust [the others].” Portrayed in the story as a “self-described paranoid,” Ailes reportedly resigned from an earlier position as head of CNBC after questions were raised about his desire to use his position as a weapon against his enemies.

Fox News is an outgrowth of its parent company, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. A look at the board of directors of this multinational giant yields some startling insight into who controls the “fair and balanced” news network. Ailes himself has a seat at the table — but not every board member has a background in media.

News Corp. board member Viet Dinh, for example, is an attorney who came to the United States as a boy from Vietnam. In a 2002 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Dinh, who then served as an assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice, recalled an exchange he had with then-Attorney General John Ashcroft in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. “He told me: ‘The art of leadership is the redefinition of the possible. I want you to be the think tank to help me redefine the possible for the Department of Justice.'”

Dinh successfully redefined “the possible” by acting as a primary author of the USA PATRIOT Act, quickly propelling himself to prominence as a darling of conservatives and an enemy of civil liberties watchdog groups. A law professor at Georgetown University, Dinh is also founder and chief of Bancroft Associates PLLC, a consulting firm that specializes in helping Fortune 500 companies “navigate the federal and state criminal or civil investigations, congressional investigations, and complex litigation,” according to the firm’s Web site. It also specializes in public relations.

Another board member is José Maria Aznar, former prime minister of Spain. Aznar was born into a politically active, conservative family in Spain in 1953, and both his father and grandfather held government jobs under Gen. Francisco Franco, the fascist dictator. Aznar was handpicked by Manuel Fraga, a minister under Franco, to succeed him in leading Spain’s center-right People’s Party (Partido Popular), according to an article in the U.K.’s The Independent.

Aznar now serves as president of the Foundation for Social Studies and Analysis, a right-wing think tank based in Spain that, according to its Web site, works closely with the CATO Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and other conservative U.S. think tanks.

Occupying other seats at News Corp.’s board table is an assortment of professors, attorneys, public-relations experts, and businessmen with their fingers in a variety of banks and multinational corporations. Among the more familiar names are Phillip Morris, Ford Motor Co., Hewlett Packard, Goldman Sachs, HSBC North America, and JP Morgan Chase. Lesser known are the investment banking firms that have stakes in the petroleum industry, utilities, mining companies, and real estate.

While the connections between corporate interests and the country’s leading conservative propagandist are extensive and obvious, there’s a stark contrast between the message delivered by Fox News and the interests of its parent company.

Fox News plays up the theme of patriotism and reinforces the idea that there is a distinction between “real Americans” and outsiders. But Fox’s board is made up of members whose lives and economic interests are scattered across the globe, but have one common thread: they all control extraordinary sums of concentrated wealth.

 

PROPAGANDA AND EMOTIONS

While Dunn called Fox News Channel an arm of the Republican Party, others have gone so far as to label its content pure propaganda — and incredibly effective propaganda at that.

“This is very, very sophisticated propaganda,” says Bryant Welch, a clinical psychologist, author, and expert on political manipulation. “I don’t think progressives really get it that it’s a technique being used all the time.”

Welch said when he began working as a Washington, D.C., lobbyist on behalf of the American Psychological Association years ago, he started observing the tricky political maneuverings at play in the nation’s capital through the eyes of a psychotherapist who had spent some 30,000 hours helping patients confront their deep-seated hang-ups.

To his surprise, Welch found that some of the most successful right-wing political operatives also seemed to have an understanding of psychology — although they use the knowledge very differently. “A lot of it is psychological manipulation,” Welch asserts.

George Lakoff, a professor of linguistics at UC Berkeley and author of Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, offered a similar analysis. He said Republicans approach issues as a marketing challenge. “They’ve learned from the cognitive scientists. Even if they don’t understand the science, they know how to do marketing.”

Welch, who is also an attorney and Huffington Post blogger, provides an analysis of how the right wing gets its message across in his book, State of Confusion: Political Manipulation and the Assault on the American Mind. He argues that public relations professionals, right-wing commentators, and others in the business of shaping public opinion are skilled at tapping into widespread feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.

“In this world, things are confusing,” he explains. “You’ve got to be constantly adapting and assimiutf8g new information. When times get confusing, people have a hard time forming a sense of what’s real.”

Right-wing television and radio personalities like Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, or Rush Limbaugh prey on this widespread uncertainty, Welch argues, by providing viewers and listeners with an absolute version of reality that is easily grasped, neatly divided into right and wrong, and spelled out in very certain terms.

“The thing that Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity do is, they sound very powerful, certain, and aggressive,” Welch told us. “[Viewers] identify with that strength. They draw a sense of security from someone who has certainty about what is real.”

Viewers who find that their anxiety subsides when they tune in are hard-pressed to go back and reexamine their views later on, Welch said, because they’re satisfied with the answers they’ve been given. And in right-wing messaging, those answers consistently cast government as the enemy.

On Fox and AM radio, the use of repetition helps drive home an idea until it becomes a conviction in the mind of a listener. Television reinforces those key phrases with patriotic color schemes. The whole package is designed to transform an audience’s sense of bewilderment over a complex world into trust in spokespeople helping them make sense of it.

The right-wing commentators’ success lies partly in their ability to harness core human emotions such as paranoia or envy, Welch said. He pointed to the health care debate as an example, noting how Fox News has repeatedly played up the false concept of “death panels” to create fear.

To counter this tactic, Lakoff suggests that the left would do well to learn how to frame things in moral terms instead of playing defense against right-wing spin masters.

President Obama’s problem, Lakoff said, is that he is still trying to unify the country. “More power to him, but I don’t believe it’s possible,” Lakoff said. “Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain got 47 percent of the vote, bad as he was, and given how terrible a campaign he ran, and given that Obama ran a perfect campaign. So Obama’s election was not a landslide, even though he had one of the best campaign organizations and one of the best framed campaigns ever.” Obama doesn’t play the same manipulative games, Lakoff noted. “Obama believes that if you just tell the truth, it’ll be OK, and every day have a truth squad to find the conservative lies,” Lakoff said. “What he didn’t understand was that by focusing on the conservative lies, he was in fact helping the conservative cause. It’s like Richard Nixon saying, ‘I’m not a crook.'” That why Lakoff says it’s so important for Obama, and for the progressive movement in general, to define the moral imperative behind empowering the people and their government to create a better world, then aggressively push a campaign to do so. “It’s the ‘this is the right thing to do’ approach,” Lakoff explained. “And once it’s been framed that way, then you can say what’s false or true. But you should never go on the defensive first. As soon as you go point by point, you are on the defensive.”

The lesson of California

0

news@sfbg.com

Much of the right-wing agenda that has thrown this nation into economic chaos can be traced back to what was once called the Golden State.

The tax revolts that started here under Gov. Ronald Reagan and continued to sweep the country and the world under President Reagan never abated. Indeed, they have only been strengthened by the big business power that created and benefited from them.

But now that California is showing signs of being the country’s first failed state — caught in fiscal freefall and mired in political gridlock as a generation’s worth of neglected problems surge to the surface — this state has become a cautionary tale for that anti-government ideology.

Trends in America tend to start out west, and the economic and political disaster that California has become contains critical lessons for the rest of the country.

Lewis Uhler — president and founder of the National Tax Limitation Committee — speaks candidly and proudly of his key early role in helping build a conservative movement to limit the size of government and do battle with those who want the public sector to actively promote social and economic justice.

Uhler, a UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law graduate who did legal work for conservative causes in the 1960s, was tapped by then-Gov. Reagan in 1970 to be the director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, a federally-funded legal assistance program created as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty.

While that may seem like a strange role for an avowed conservative and former member of the John Birch Society, Uhler says Reagan basically brought him in to wreck the program and fight the feds. “I was asked to put my money where my mouth was for my conservative philosophy,” Uhler told the Guardian. “OEO was set up to ensure conflict and confrontation … The mission of legal services was to change public policy through lawsuits they decided to file. I thought it was a corruption of the legal system.”

At the time, public-interest law and liberal economic and social policies were on the rise in California and spreading to the rest of the nation. So the Reaganites fought back.

Rather than helping poor plaintiffs file environmental, consumer protection, equal rights, or other types of lawsuits designed to level the playing field with powerful interests, Uhler blocked lawsuits brought by attorneys he calls “ambulance-chasers” and gutted the program. “Ultimately,” he said, “we vetoed funding for California Rural Legal Assistance.”

And for his efforts, Uhler was rewarded with a cabinet-level position: assistance secretary of the Health and Welfare Agency. Again, his role wasn’t to make the agency more effective, but to make it less effective in a realm where he believes government was too big and too active.

“The problem was uncontrolled state and local spending,” Uhler said. “Intuitively, everyone who gathered around Reagan shared the same philosophy that government doesn’t really contribute anything to economic growth.”

In 1972, Reagan gave Uhler the opportunity to work more directly on the mission of cutting taxes and shrinking the size of government, naming him chair of the Governor’s Tax Reduction Task Force. It was, in many ways, the beginning of the vast right-wing conspiracy.

“I asked to be given the chance to go across the country and find the best free market minds in the country to develop these policies,” Uhler said, explaining that he wanted to borrow the liberal strategy of giving an academic veneer to their ideas, as presidents Kennedy and Johnson had done in the realm of foreign policy. “Our side had never really done that.”

Uhler’s first stop was the University of Chicago School of Economics, where he met with noted free market economists Milton Friedman, James Buchanan, and George Stigler, who were brought into the cause.

Today’s vast network of conservative think tanks didn’t exist at that time, so Uhler tapped conservative thinkers from the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, as well as other conservative economists such as Peter Drucker from Claremont McKenna College.

“There were 35 people who helped us design the first effort at a constitutional initiative in California to limit year-over-year growth of the state’s general fund,” Uhler said. “All of us as free market enthusiasts and economists all shared the belief that government beyond a certain level eats the seed corn of the nation and doesn’t produce anything.”

While voters narrowly rejected their group’s first effort to cap government growth — Proposition 1 on the November 1973 ballot — the ground had been prepared and the seeds had been sown for the tax revolts that would sweep the country in the late 1970s, with many of the campaigns coordinated by Uhler and the organization he formed for that purpose in 1975, the National Tax Limitation Committee, and a rapidly growing network of similar, interconnected organizations.

As Uhler worked with Reagan to weaken California’s government from within, his fellow travelers were developing national and international strategies to create aggressive, coordinated, well-funded campaigns to attack government and spread the free market dogma.

In August 1971, Lewis Powell — a conservative corporate attorney who President Richard Nixon had just nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court (where he served from 1972-87) — wrote a confidential memorandum to the leadership of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce titled “Attack on the American Free Enterprise System.”

He sounded the alarm that the ascendant environmental and consumer movements were going to destroy capitalism in the country unless corporate America aggressively fought back in a coordinated fashion, which he spelled out in great detail.

He called for all major corporations to develop aggressive legal and public relations strategies for fighting the left, creation of a network of think tanks and media outlets to push the conservative message, manipulation of the legal system, and sponsorship of university programs to study conservative ideas and incubate future leaders — which all came to pass in the coming decades.

“American business [is] ‘plainly in trouble’; the response to the wide range of critics has been ineffective and has included appeasement: the time has come — indeed, it is long overdue — for the wisdom, ingenuity, and resources of American business to be marshaled against those who would destroy it,” Powell wrote.

Part of that strategy involved having the federal government promote and popularize free market economic theories being developed by Friedman and his colleagues at the University of Chicago, a movement that is well-documented by journalist Naomi Klein in her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

In 1971, Friedman and his colleagues began working with rich conservatives in Chile who were allied with Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who in turn were conspiring with the CIA to overthrow and assassinate the democratically elected, leftist President Salvador Allende, which they successfully did on Sept. 11, 1973.

Friedman’s economic theories called for a radical restructuring of society — slashing taxes and social spending; removing most regulation and trade restrictions; crushing labor unions; promoting economic growth at any cost — and Pinochet executed the strategy in brutal fashion, ordering the death of at least 3,200 of his political opponents, including the car-bomb assassination of economist Orlando Letelier in Washington, D.C., in 1976.

Friedman and Pinochet consulted openly and shared a basic disdain for social programs and progressive taxation. “The major error, in my opinion,” Friedman wrote in a letter to Pinochet in 1975, referring to the government antipoverty programs Pinochet dismantled, was “to believe that it is possible to do good with other people’s money.”

The model Pinochet and Friedman developed in Chile would eventually go global — promoted by its top cheerleaders, Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher — and be implemented (with disastrous results for most citizens but creating huge profits for wealthy individuals and corporations) in Indonesia, Bolivia, Argentina, Peru, Russia, Poland, South Africa, Japan, and elsewhere.

But with the corporate media and conservative opinion-shapers focused mostly on economic growth — ignoring persistent poverty and the brutal tactics used to suppress the popular movements that tried to resist Friedman’s “economic shock therapy” — Friedman had become a sort of free-market prophet by the time he died in 2006.

“In the torrent of words written in eulogy to Milton Friedman, the role of shocks and crises to advance his worldview received barely a mention,” Klein wrote. “Instead, the economist’s passing provided an occasion for a retelling of the official story of how his brand of radical capitalism became government orthodoxy in almost every corner of the globe.”

California’s fiscal shackles have been in place since 1978, when Proposition 13 and subsequent measures capped property taxes and required an undemocratic two-thirds vote to either raise taxes or pass the annual budget.

A Republican landlord lobbyist named Howard Jarvis charged onto the field that Reagan, Uhler, and their team had prepared and took advantage of a gaping hole in political leadership to set off a movement that would cripple the United States of America.

There was some logic to it then. Times were good in California in the 1970s, good enough that people were flocking to the state by the millions. That was driving up property values — and thus property taxes.

Jarvis bought his home for $8,000 in 1946; 30 years later, it was assessed at $80,000. In fact, inflation was running at close to 10 percent a year in California. Homeowners were getting huge tax hikes each year, and tenants were getting huge rent hikes at a time when state government had a budget surplus.

Homeowners saw millions of dollars sitting in the coffers in Sacramento while they couldn’t pay their tax bills. Yet nobody in the Legislature or governor’s office came up with a solution.

So when Jarvis showed up with petitions to roll back property taxes and prevent future increases, he found a broad base of support. Even tenants went along — Jarvis and his gang promised that property-tax cuts would be passed on to tenants and would mean the end of the escautf8g rent hikes.

Jarvis collected signatures for a radical measure that essentially blocked all property tax increases and allowed new assessment only when a parcel sold. It was, in the end, a huge tax giveaway to major corporations. Since commercial property turned over far less often than residential property (and since commercial sales could be hidden as stock transfers), big businesses wound up paying far less of the state’s tax burden. Corporations used to pay about two-thirds of the state’s property taxes, and individuals one-third; now that is reversed.

It didn’t help tenants, either. Few of the landlords who saw the benefits of Prop. 13 passed the money along to their renters. Most just kept it. San Francisco activist Calvin Welch likes to say that Howard Jarvis was “the father of rent control.”

The campaign against Prop. 13 warned of the dangers of cutting local government; police and fire chiefs appeared in ads opposing it. But the No on 13 folks never talked about the huge windfall big corporations would get from the measure, or the huge disparities in wealth that would be created by defunding government and dereguutf8g corporations.

If the goal was to skew the concentration of wealth in the state, it worked brilliantly. According to the California Budget Project (CBP) of the Franchise Tax Board, recent data taken before the current economic recession illustrates an ever-widening chasm between the wealthiest taxpayer and the working-class person.

The total adjusted personal income for Californians rose by nearly $64 billion in 2006-07 — with approximately three-quarters of that increase going to the top fifth of wealthiest taxpayers, and 30 percent going to the top 1 percent. That left only $19 billion for everyone else.

“The average taxpayer in the top 1 percent experienced a $128,261 increase in AGI [adjusted gross income] between 2006 and 2007, which was more than three times the total AGI of the average middle-income taxpayer in 2007 ($36,115),” stated the June 2009 report.

This continues a long-term trend in which the wealthy continue to leave the average income-earner behind in a trail of dollar-sign dust. From 1995 to 2007, income gains for that top 1 percent come to a whopping 117.3 percent increase — nearly 13 times more than the gains of the middle-income taxpayer.

The nation’s income gap has reached a “level higher than any other since 1917,” according to a paper by University of California, Berkeley economic professor Emmanuel Saez. According to Saez’s analysis of census data, there’s been a steady increase in the income gap since the 1970s, rising 20 percent over the years.

Yet even today, the defenders of Prop. 13 continue to sound the same consistent themes. “Those who are directly involved in government are a militant special interest,” Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association executive director Kris Vosburgh told us. “They don’t like anything that limits their revenue stream.”

While that last statement could be applied equally to corporations or other private sector enterprises, as Vosburgh reluctantly admitted when asked, he continues to imply malevolence to those who defend government. He said the state’s current fiscal collapse can only be solved by slashing government expenditures.

“It is not valid to be talking about revenue-side solutions,” he said. “Our position is the state has enough money to accomplish its goals.”

People have never liked paying taxes, but the antitax movement is about far more than just that basic individual desire to hold onto our money.

The attacks were well planned, carefully targeted, and part of a much larger effort aimed at maintaining corporate and conservative power, undermining the New Deal, reducing taxes on the rich, and radically reducing the size and scope of the public sector.

As Powell called for, corporations have aggressively challenged, in legal courts and those of public opinion, every significant progressive advance — from San Francisco’s attempt at universal health care to California’s tentative first steps to address global warming.

With a level of discipline unheard of on the left, conservative opinion-shapers pound their talking points and enforce party unity through mechanisms like the “no new taxes” pledge that every Republican in the California Legislature has signed and heeded, under the very real threat of recall.

Opposition to taxes is now so deeply embedded into the psyche of the California electorate, and such a core tenet of today’s Republican Party, that elected officials who tout fiscal responsibility allowed the state’s debts to go unpaid (destroying its credit rating in the process) and its education and transportation systems to be decimated rather considering new revenues.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s spokesperson Aaron McLear told us, “He believes we ought to live within our means and pay for only the programs we can afford.”

That simple talking point gets repeated no matter how the question is asked, or when we point out that it means we’re being forced to live within historic lows this year. But they claim the people support them.

“We had tax increases on the May ballot and they were rejected by a 2-1 margin. We should listen to the will of the voters,” McLear said.

Never mind that this regressive, dishonest package of temporary tax hikes was opposed by the Guardian and a variety of pro-tax progressive groups. McLear wouldn’t even admit that point or respond to it honestly.

And he’s certainly right that most polls show a majority of Californians don’t want new taxes. But these polls also show that people want continued government services, more investment in our neglected state infrastructure, and a whole bunch of other contradictory things.

That’s why newspapers and analysts around the world are looking at California, the world’s eighth largest economy, and wondering (as the Guardian of London headline asked Oct. 4): “Will California become America’s first failed state?”

In many ways, it already is. The question now is whether we’ll try to learn from and correct our mistakes. Ryan Riddle contributed to this report. ———–

THE CONSERVATIVE RELIGION

When I asked Lewis Uhler, one of the architects of the Reagan revolution, what Americans believed in these days — where the people he likes to talk about who hate the government (but are also admittedly disillusioned with Wall Street) turn — he answered simply: religion.

It should come as no surprise that many religious fundamentalists tend to side with the free market conservatives — both ideologies require a leap of faith and ignoring certain troubling facts, such as increasing disparities of wealth, natural resource depletion, and global warming.

Their arguments mostly make sense — until these inconvenient truths come up.

Certainly, turning over more public resources to free market capitalists, cutting taxes, and slashing government regulation will spur private sector economic growth, just as advocates claim.

But that growth has a cost. The wealth won’t be shared by everyone. Indeed, poverty has persisted even through even the economic boom of the 1990s — but almost everyone will be affected by underfunded road, education, public safety, and other essential systems.

As the conservative movement has successfully limited taxes and cut regulation over the last 40 years, working class wages have stagnated as the rich have gotten richer. Many of the world’s oil reserves have peaked and gone into decline, and rapidly increasing carbon emissions have collected in the atmosphere and caused global warming.

So how do conservatives respond to these realities as they argue for the continued dismantling of government, which is the only entity with the scope and incentive to deal with these problems? They simply deny them.

Uhler decried the “pseudoscience of climate change” as hindering economic progress and claimed that there’s actually been a global cooling trend in the last 10 years. (Actually the last 10 years have been some of the hottest on record, causing glaciers around the world to melt, according to data and observations from a consensus of the world’s climate scientists, including NASA, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the United Nations Climate Change Conference.)

It’s the same story with the consolidation of wealth, which hurts the free market fantasy that letting the super-wealthy keep more money will eventually trickle down to benefit us all. Uhler simply denied the growing disparity of wealth, saying the “movement between quintiles is significant.”

He was talking about people’s ability to go from poor to rich with a little hard work and initiative, the core idea of free market conservatives. But data from the U.S. Census Bureau and many other entities indicate that median wages have been stagnant for decades (which wouldn’t be true if there was lots of upward mobility) and that most of the wealth created in the U.S. over the last 40 years has pooled with the top 1 percent.

In fact, when it comes to measuring social impacts, Uhler has simply one metric: “Governments at all levels are twice the size they should be to maximize economic growth.” (Steven T. Jones)

 

Park life — and 3,000 guitars

0

arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC Golden Gate Park has once again become a nexus for huge music concerts. The massive scope of events such as Outside Lands can’t help but evoke the legacy of San Francisco in the 1960s, when musical gatherings were not only abundant, but a definite inspiration behind concerts elsewhere — especially Woodstock. With West Fest, organizer Boots Hughston and an extensive lineup of musicians and participants are paying tribute to Woodstock’s 40th anniversary. But they’re also bringing a sense of living history to a place where new generations of music lovers — some of whom knowingly or unknowingly admire contemporary acts influenced by the Woodstock era — regularly congregate.

Politically speaking, it’s especially important to bridge a sense of then and now. One person who will be doing exactly that is David Hilliard, former chief of staff in the Black Panther Party, author of many books, and current-day teacher. "Our purpose was always to ensure that art was part of our revolutionary political process," says Hilliard. "I dispatched members of our chapter to Woodstock ’69 as a gesture of solidarity to the counterculture movement. We were the comrades of the hippies and yippies and Peace and Freedom Party. We had the support of people like John Lennon — that was our constituency. It makes sense that we should be included in a celebration of this momentous event."

Hilliard has no problem connecting his message to the present — especially because the present includes some tell-tale problems. "I have to talk about the contemporary issue of millions of people who have lost their homes to foreclosure," he says, when asked about the subjects of his West Fest speech. "And isn’t it ironic that universal health care is the chief issue of the day, because we were devoted to free health care — it was central to our program."

Hilliard isn’t especially inspired by contemporary hip-hop, aside from Talib Kweli and a few other conscious artists. When asked whether the music of the moment approaches the political intensity of hip-hop’s Public Enemy era, he answers with a "hell no" that is as strong as it is quick, adding, "The whole industry has been reduced to a few artists who make it because they come up with songs about the latest dance."

This doesn’t mean that Hilliard and his contemporaries don’t have a hand in politicizing popular culture and youth culture in ways big and small. Black Panther Minister of Culture Emory Douglas currently has a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and Hilliard takes part in projects like the South L.A. Road to College, which teaches South Central L.A. youth about the Panthers and their history while preparing them for college. HBO is developing a six-hour series on the Panthers based on Hilliard’s 1993 book This Side of Glory and Elaine Brown’s 1992 autobiography A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story. "We are proud to be working with Carl Franklin," Hilliard says, referring to the series’ director, whose undersung 1992 classic One False Move renders in truly disturbing human terms the kind of drug violence that 1994’s Pulp Fiction treats as entertainment. "We need a year to tell this story [in a series], but we’ll take six hours and hope that it will inspire people to tell the story more often."

West Fest’s wildest musical element has to be an attempt to outdo the Guinness World Book of Records‘ current entry for Largest Guitar Ensemble via a 3,000-or-more-guitar rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s "Purple Haze." A chief force leading this effort, the producer and musician Narada Michael Walden, is also performing a set in honor of Hendrix later in the day. "Jimi Hendrix was the highest-paid performer at Woodstock, the most sought-after at the time," Walden points out from his base at Tarpan Studios in San Rafael. "A lot of the music he played at the festival — "Jam Back at the House," "Villanova Junction," "Isabella," "Fire" — is in obscurity because we only hear "Purple Haze" and "Foxy Lady." I wanted a chance to play some of the songs Jimi played at Woodstock that we don’t get to hear."

Moreover, working with musicians such as Vernon Ice Black, Hendrix’s bassist Billy Cox, and some special guests, Walden hopes to tap into the political subtext of Hendrix’s music at West Fest. "He didn’t just want white fans or black fans, he wanted to reach everybody," Walden says. "He tried his hardest by doing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in a way in which you heard the bombs exploding. He’d been a paratrooper jumping out of airplanes, and he wanted our nation to wake up to what we were doing, all the needless killing in Vietnam."

If anyone can corral 3,000-plus guitarists into making something musical, it’s the energetic Walden. He’s the producer behind the hits that made Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey into stars, and before that, the gorgeous pop R&B songs by teenage Stacey Lattisaw ("Let Me Be Your Angel," "My Love") that no doubt inspired those divas-to-be to work with him. "My first solo album [Garden of Love Light] in 1976 was produced with Tommy [Tom] Dowd," he remembers, when another legendary musical force who turned away from the U.S. military is mentioned. "I spent months and months recording with him and learned first-hand from him. He was really here to do what he did — only a few people understood how to compress music for radio in a way that it could still live and breathe. He knew how to take the queen of soul, Aretha, and give her a Southern sound with a vibrancy that allowed all people everywhere to feel it. That’s the genius — not just the musical side but the scientific side — of Tom Dowd."

The life stories of men such as Hendrix and Dowd — who abandoned atomic work on the Manhattan Project for the studios of Atlantic Records — are still applicable today. After all, this is an era in which Barack Obama calls for more troops in Afghanistan and wins the Nobel Peace Prize. Amid the potential and contradictions invoked by such a circumstance, Walden’s Hendrix-inspired endeavors and Hilliard’s speech at West Fest are worth hearing.

WEST FEST, 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF WOODSTOCK

Sun/25, 9 a.m.–6 p.m., free

Golden Gate Park, SF

www.2b1records.com/woodstock40sf

Buns and the city

0

paulr@sfbg.com

DINE In our hamburger-challenged city, the Mission District would not seem to be a particularly promising place to go burger-hunting. The hamburger is the all-American statement food, while the Mission is many things, but probably not all-American. Among the most conspicuous burger outlets in the Mission is Whiz Burger, which has held down the corner of 18th Street and South Van Ness since time immemorial and even has a parking lot, as if Arthur Fonzarelli might soon be rolling up in a ’57 Chevy. I have eaten Whiz burgers from time to time, but I don’t remember them — and, in fact, not remembering the hamburgers one has eaten in San Francisco seems to be a central fact about eating hamburgers in San Francisco. They are, generally speaking, forgettable at best.

Why this is so remains a mystery to me. Part of the answer might involve the local tendencies toward preciousness and fuss — obsessing about the pedigree of the meat and the bun (ciabatta? focaccia? baked with organic flour?) and the fancy cheese on top, or the exotic bacon, or the foie gras. All these grand touches are ruinous. A hamburger should not be complicated or fussy. The meat should have fat in it and be adequately salted. The soft bun should be buttered and toasted or griddled a little. Maybe a slice of cheese; the best cheese is wrapped in plastic sheets. Nothing says "American" quite like plastic.

Because the Mission is such a gaudy potpourri of ethnicities, styles, and foods, eating a hamburger there could be seen as a particularly pathetic sort of defeat. You could have had dosas or pupusas or rendang curry for the same money, maybe less. On the other hand, maybe there’s an ironic appeal, and maybe that’s the bet placed by Urbun Burger, which opened recently in the heart of the Valencia Street scene in a space that once held Yum Yum House.

The aesthetic makeover, it must be said, is sensational, with a spic-and-span factor Ray Kroc himself would approve of. Despite the deepness and narrowness of the layout, there is a sunniness to things. Under the cashier’s station at the back is a panel of ceramic tiles in mod colors, while the tables sit on gleaming stainless-steel (or chrome) stems. Seating choices are unexpectedly vast; there are tables with taverna chairs, tables with barstools, and a long counter with barstools.

The turkey burger is to hamburger cookery what fish is in other kitchens: it is the test. A good turkey burger, like a good fish dish, doesn’t just happen. Turkey is unforgiving. It dries out easily and doesn’t taste like much. The best news I have to give about Urbun’s turkey burger ($7.75) is that the fries ($2.75) were excellent — tender-crispy, near-molten inside, well-seasoned. But the burger itself was rather dry and lifeless inside its glossy (egg-washed?) bun. Had the kitchen failed to take the necessary remedial steps of adding at least egg yolk, and maybe some oil, to the ground meat? A slice of pepper-jack cheese struggled to make itself noticed, while the restaurant’s signature urban sauce was a little too soupy to bring deliverance. But the fries!

While you can also get a vegan (although not a turkey) burger at Mission Burger, the real burger ($8) here is of beef. And not just beef but a blend of short rib, brisket, and chuck (all from Harris Ranch), none of which are exactly lean cuts. Plus, the patties are seared in beef fat. So moistness and flavor are not issues.

Neither is the setting, because for all practical purposes there is none. Mission Burger isn’t a restaurant, per se; it’s a kind of station at the end of the meat counter in the Duc Loi supermarket. You find it by locating the sign taped to an exhaust hood, as if the hood were a piece of oversized junk waiting on the sidewalk for a bulk-item collection by the trash company. Seating? There is a small family of low benches squatting against one wall, as if in the lounge of a forlorn regional airport. You probably don’t want to sit there. Mission Burger is fundamentally a takeout operation, but also a made-to-order one.

But one of the virtues of a genuine fatburger is that it travels well. As insurance, the briochy-looking bun is lined with jack cheese, spicy caper mayonnaise, and a slathering of caramelized onions. This combination isn’t exactly coherent, but it is tasty. Plus, there are fries, and they are as good as McDonald’s fries used to be back in the day when they were fried in beef tallow. For a bit of color: coleslaw made with red cabbage. It’s appealingly creamy, although that doesn’t do much for the calorie count — not that it matters in the shadow of Mount Fatburger. Could it be the highest point in the Mission?

URBUN BURGER

Mon.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–10 p.m.;

Fri.–Sat., 11 a.m.–11 p.m.

581 Valencia, SF

(415) 551-2483

www.urbunburger.com

Beer and wine

MC/V

Noisy

Wheelchair accessible

MISSION BURGER

Lunch: Fri.–Wed., noon–3 p.m.

2200 Mission, SF

(415) 551-1772

No alcohol

AE/MC/V

Noisy

Wheelchair accessible

Film listings

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

SF DOCFEST

The eighth annual San Francisco Documentary Film Festival runs through Oct 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.

WED/21

"Bay Area Shorts: The People and Places of the SF Experience" (shorts program) 7. Shooting Robert King 7. Cat Ladies 9:15. Houston We Have a Problem 9:15.

THURS/22

Dust and Illusion 7. What’s the Matter With Kansas? 7. The Entrepreneur 9:15. Homegrown 9:15.

FRI/23

Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison 7. Mine 7. October Country 9:15. Speaking in Code 9:15.

SAT/24

Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison 2:30. Nursery University 2:30. Apology of an Economic Hitman 4:45. Youth Knows No Pain 4:45. Marina of the Zabbaleen 7. Trimpin: The Sound of Invention 7. The Philosopher Kings 9:15. Proceed and Be Bold! 9:15.

SUN/25

Pop Star on Ice 2:30. "Worldwide Shorts: Snapshots of Life in Five Different Countries" (shorts program) 2:30. Junior 4:45. Only When I Dance 4:45. The Great Contemporary Art Bubble 7. Rabbit Fever 7. American Artifact 9:15. Cropsey 9:15.

MON/26

Vampiro: Angel, Devil, Hero 7. "Worldwide Shorts" 7. Proceed and Be Bold! 9:15. Youth Knows No Pain 9:15.

TUES/27

Junior 7. "Worldwide Shorts" 7. Marina of the Zabbaleen 9:15. Mine 9:15.

OPENING

Amelia Mira Nair directs Hilary Swank in this Amelia Earhart biopic. (1:51) Albany, Piedmont, Sundance Kabuki.

Antichrist See "Lars Loves Lars." (1:49) Embarcadero.

Astro Boy The popular manga and Japanese television series finally gets an animated film, featuring voice work by Freddie Highmore, Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, and others. (1:34) Presidio, Shattuck.

*Big Fan The Wrestler screenwriter Robert Siegel continues to trawl tri-state working class blues for his directorial debut, Big Fan, a darkened fairy tale of sports mania and the male ego. Sandpaper rough comic Patton Oswalt is Paul Aufiero, a thirtysomething New York Giants nut who lives with his mother and scripts huffy raps for his nightly 1AM "Paul from Staten Island" call to the local sports radio station. Siegel locates a revealing stage for anxious performances of masculinity in the motor-mouthed rituals of sports talk radio. Big Fan is at its best when Aufiero is locked in dubious battle with abstract foes like "Philadelphia Phil," but the film starts to slow down as soon as our anti-hero and his lone pal Sal (Kevin Corrigan) spot Giants QB Quantrell Bishop (Jonathan Hamm) at a Staten Island gas station. They tail him to a strip club in New York City, where Bishop gives Aufiero a bruising upon discovering he’s been followed, thus compromising the Giants’ playoff chances. What a tangled web we weave and all that. It’s telling of Siegel’s limited talents that the best part of the fateful trip into Manhattan is Oswalt’s grimace when faced with a nine buck Budweiser. We’re so hungry for any kind of regionalism in mainstream filmmaking that even Big Fan‘s cheapest shots (all its women characters, for instance) don’t overpower the pleasure of Oswalt’s marshy profanities and the provincial jabber of New York vs. Philadelphia and Staten Island vs. Manhattan. (1:35) Lumiere, Shattuck. (Goldberg)

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant Time to officially declare a vampire overload. (1:48) Shattuck.

*The Damned United Like last year’s Frost/Nixon, The Damned United features a lush 70’s backdrop, a screenplay by Peter Morgan, and a commanding performance by Michael Sheen as an ambitious egotist. A promising young actor, Sheen puts on the sharp tongue and charismatic monomania of real-life British soccer coach Brian Clough like a familiar garment, blustering his way through a fictionalized account of Clough’s unsuccessful 44-day stint as manager of Leeds United. Though the details of high-stakes professional "football" will likely be lost on American viewers, the tale of a talented, flawed sports hero spiraling deeper into obsession needs no trans-Atlantic translation, and the film is an engrossing portrait of a captivating, quotable character. (1:38) Embarcadero. (Richardson)

*Good Hair Spurred by his little daughter’s plaintive query ("Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?"), Chris Rock gets his Michael Moore freak on and sets out to uncover the racial and cultural implications of African-American hairstyling. Visiting beauty salons, talking to specialists, and interviewing celebrities ranging from Maya Angelou to Ice-T, the comic wisecracks his way into some pretty trenchant insights about how black women’s coiffures can often reflect Caucasian-set definitions of beauty. (Leave it to Rev. Al Sharpton to voice it ingeniously: "You comb your oppression every morning!") Rock makes an affable guide in Jeff Stilson’s breezy documentary, which posits the hair industry as a global affair where relaxers work as "nap-antidotes" and locks sacrificially shorn in India end up as pricey weaves in Beverly Hills. Maybe startled by his more disquieting discoveries, Rock shifts the focus to flamboyant, crowd-pleasing shenanigans at the Bronner Bros. International Hair Show. Despite such softball detours, it’s a genial and revealing tour. (1:35) Lumiere. (Croce)

Motherhood Introducing this film at the Mill Valley Festival recently, director Katherine Dieckmann — of 2000’s awkward A Good Baby and ingratiating 2006 Diggers, on whose screenplays she did and didn’t contribute, respectively — said she made it because she’d never seen a movie reflecting modern motherhood "as it really is." So why does this slick indie seriocomedy feel like a baby-burpup of things we’ve seen a million times before? Perhaps because its beleaguered heroine (Uma Thurman, straining for stringy-haired, sweaty "realism") is the same comically frazzled, faux-deglamorized, supposedly endearing quirky girl sitcoms have served up for decades. She’s got a brash single-mom pal (Minnie Driver, suddenly doing Catherine Zeta-Jones), a semi-negligent husband (Anthony Edwards), aching authorial aspirations (currently expressed via an unconvincingly delightful motherhood blog), and two very young children. Taking place over a single day’s contrived mummy stressouts, Motherhood self-sabotages at nearly every turn. It renders the seldom unappealing Thurman a tiresome ditz whose potential extra-parental fulfillment arrives stupidly deus-ex-machina. No less plastic than Baby Boom (1987), this movie suffocates her, while that one at least gave Diane Keaton room to rise above condescending material. (1:30) (Harvey)

The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D The Tim Burton-produced tale returns in 3D form. (1:16) Castro, Grand Lake.

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning Important: though it does star the original’s Tony Jaa, this is not a sequel to 2003 Thai hit Ong-bak, about a pious martial-arts master who journeys to the big city to retrieve the stolen head of his village’s sacred Buddha. Rather, Ong Bak 2 travels back in time so that lethally limber star Jaa (who also directs) can portray a young man adopted by bandits after his noble parents are slaughtered by a corrupt general. Along the way, he learns multiple fighting styles; bones are crunched, elephants are charmed, and emo flashbacks abound. The cool thing about Ong-bak was that it showcased Jaa’s unique Thai fighting style in an urban environment — his country-bumpkin character took down mobs of petty hoods and smugglers, and he faced an array of ridiculous foes in underground pit fights (for righteous reasons, natch). Ong Bak 2‘s historic setting feels a tad generic, even if it does provide an excuse for a crocodile-wrestling scene. Also, the tragic storyline calls for the kind of acting depth Jaa simply doesn’t have. Though he glowers with conviction, his fists and feet are the most charismatic things about him. (1:55) Lumiere, Shattuck. (Eddy)

Saw VI If this keeps up, ol’ Jigsaw will soon have as many movies as Godzilla. (1:30)

The Vanished Empire Pink Floyd records may become contraband once behind the Iron Curtain, but coming-of-age clichés remain the same in Karen Shakhnazarov’s seriocomic tale of adolescent ecstasies and agonies in 1973 Moscow. Lenin’s words are taught in school, though 18-year-old Sergey (Alexander Lyapin) is more interested in chasing girls, scoring pot, and savoring such illicit pop pleasures as jeans and rock music. Cool Kostya (Ivan Kupreyenko) and geeky Stepan (Yegor Baranovsky) are his contrasting cohorts, forming a trio of pubescent anxiety whose rites of passage are complicated by the arrival of Sergey’s girlfriend, Lyuda (Lidiya Milyuzina). The empire of the title is an ideological one, crumbled by a pleasure-seeking new generation who sell their grandfathers’ Marxist tomes in order to pay for Mick Jagger’s latest hit. Despite its evocative sense of time and place, however, the film’s teen nostalgia remains frustratingly amorphous, squandering the chance to find the youthful pulse of the nation’s transitory upheavals. (1:45) Sundance Kabuki. (Croce)

ONGOING

*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, Four Star, Opera Plaza, Piedmont. (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. (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, Sundance Kabuki. (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) 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) Castro. (Peitzman)

*An Education 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) is a good girl and ace student. It’s 1961, and England is only starting to stir from its somber, all-too-sober post-war slumber. 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. David can see Jenny for the gem she is and appreciate her innocence with the knowing pleasure of a decadent playing all the angles. 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 and his friends 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 her face. (1:35) Albany, Embarcadero, Empire, Sundance Kabuki. (Chun)

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) Opera Plaza, Shattuck. (Croce)

*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) Opera Plaza. (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) Oaks, 1000 Van Ness, SF Center. (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) Oaks, Opera Plaza, 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)

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) 1000 Van Ness, Presidio. (Croce)

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

New York, I Love You A dreamy mash note to the city that never sleeps, New York, I Love You is the latest installment in a series of omnibus odes to world metropolises and the denizens that live and love within the city limits. Less successful than the Paris, je t’aime (2006) anthology — which roped in such disparate international directors as Gus Van Sant and Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuaron and Olivier Assayas — New York welcomes a more minor-key host of directors to the project with enjoyable if light-weight results. Surely any bite of the Big Apple would be considerably sexier. Bradley Cooper and Drea de Matteo tease out a one-night stand with legs, and Ethan Hawke and Maggie Q generate a wee bit of verbal fire over street-side cigs, yet there’s surprisingly little heat in this take on a few of the 8 million stories in the archetypal naked city. Most memorable are the strangest couplings, such as that of Natalie Portman, a Hasidic bride who flirtatiously haggles with Irrfan Khan, a Jain diamond merchant, in a tale directed by Mira Nair. Despite the pleasure of witnessing Julie Christie, Eli Wallach, and Cloris Leachman in action, many of these pieces — written by the late Anthony Minghella, Israel Horovitz, and Portman, among others — feel a mite too slight to nail down the attention of all but the most desperate romantics. (1:43) Bridge, Shattuck. (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, 1000 Van Ness, Presidio, Sundance Kabuki. (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) Embarcadero, Shattuck. (Peitzman)

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) Opera Plaza, Shattuck. (Croce)

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

The Stepfather (1:41) 1000 Van Ness.

Toy Story and Toy Story 2 1000 Van Ness, SF Center.

Where the Wild Things Are From the richly delineated illustrations and sparse text of Maurice Sendak’s 1963 children’s book, director Spike Jonze and cowriter (with Jones) Dave Eggers have constructed a full-length film about the passions, travails, and interior/exterior wanderings of Sendak’s energetic young antihero, Max. Equally prone to feats of world-building and fits of overpowering, destructive rage, Max (Max Records) stampedes off into the night during one of the latter and journeys to the island where the Wild Things (voiced by James Gandolfini, Catherine O’Hara, Forest Whitaker, Chris Cooper, Lauren Ambrose, Paul Dano, and Michael Berry Jr.) live — and bicker and tantrum and give in to existential despair and no longer all sleep together in a big pile. The place has possibilities, though, and Max, once crowned king, tries his best to realize them. What its inhabitants need, however, is not so much a visionary king as a good family therapist — these are some gripey, defensive, passive-aggressive Wild Things, and Max, aged somewhere around 10, can’t fix their interpersonal problems. Jonze and Eggers do well at depicting Max’s temporary kingdom, its forests and deserts, its creatures and their half-finished creations from a past golden era, as well as subtly reminding us now and again that all of this — the island, the arguments, the sadness — is streaming from the mind of a fierce, wildly imaginative young child with familial troubles of his own, equally beyond his power to resolve. They’ve also invested the film with a slow, grim depressive mood that can make for unsettling viewing, particularly when pondering the Maxes in the audience, digesting an oft-disheartening tale about family conflict and relationship repair. (1:48) Four Star, Grand Lake, Marina, 1000 Van Ness, Sundance Kabuki. (Rapoport)

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. (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)

REP PICKS

*Sorry, Thanks Though part of San Francisco Film Society’s week-long "Cinema by the Bay" program and featuring plenty of choice views of the Mission district, Dia Sokol’s feature debut is really set in the mythical land of Mumblecoria, where conversations are only half heard and fuzzy twentysomethings looking for self-discovery make up most of the population. We meet Kira (Kenya Miles) and Max (Wiley Wiggins) in the awkward aftermath of a one-night stand, hoping to not run into each other as they go their separate paths. Naturally, the opposite happens and the two develop a tentatively flirtatious relationship, complicated by Kira’s recent romantic woes and Max’s sweet-natured girlfriend (Ia Hernandez). Brimming with alternately whimsical and irritating mumblecore staples (complete with an appearance by mumble-auteur Andrew Bujalski as Max’s crabby pal), Sorry, Thanks is a modest but often affecting deadpan comedy that, due to Sokol’s deft sense of crisscrossing emotions and winning performances by Miles and Wiggins (who still has the softness he showed in 1993’s Dazed and Confused), ends up more "thanks" than "sorry." (1:33) Clay. (Croce)

Music listings

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

WEDNESDAY 21

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

"Annie’s Acoustic Punk Night" Annie’s Social Club. 8pm, $5. With Get Dead!, Officer Down, and special guests.

"Asian Hip-Hop Summit" Elbo Room. 9pm, $5. With Dumbfoundead, Lyraflip, Surilla, DJ Zo, Rising Asterisk, Power Struggle, Mandeep Sethi and MC Humble, and more.

Blind Pilot, Low Anthem, Mimicking Birds Great American Music Hall. 9pm, $16.

Brandi Carlile Fillmore. 8pm, $26.

*Alice Cooper Warfield. 8pm, $35-55.

*Fu Manchu, ASG, It’s Casual Bottom of the Hill. 8:30pm, $15.

Ezra Furman and the Harpoons, BrakesBrakesBrakes, Rachel Goodrich Rickshaw Stop. 8pm, $10.

Honest Thomas, Stomacher, Orchestra of Antlers Kimo’s. 9pm, $4.

Edna Love with the Ed Ivey Band Rasselas Jazz. 8pm, free.

Mindless Things, Shangorillas, Teutonics, Sweet Bones Knockout. 10pm, $5.

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

Ryan Montbleau Band Red Devil Lounge. 8pm, $12.

Spits, Davila 666, Pets, Re-Volts Thee Parkside. 8pm, $10.

Sugarplums, Khi Darag El Rio. 8pm.

USE, Won-Fu, Scrabbel Café du Nord. 8:30pm, $10.

Kurt Vile and the Violators, Wooden Shjips, Young Prisms Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $10.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

ACA and Patrick Cress’ Telepathy Climate Theater, 285 Ninth St., SF; (415) 704-3260. 8pm, $7-15.

"B3 Wednesdays" Coda. 9pm, $7. With Adrian Giovenco.

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

"Benny Goodman Centennial Salute" Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, SF; www.sfjazz.org. 7:30pm, $25-65. With Eddie Daniels Quartet and Jim Rothermel Swingtet.

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

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

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

"The Ukelele: Reimagined" Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness, SF; www.sfjazz.org. 7:30pm, $25-65. With Jake Shimabukuro.

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

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Ben Brown Plough and Stars. 9pm, free.

BrownChicken BrownCow String Band Hotel Utah. 9pm, $6.

DANCE CLUBS

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

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

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

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

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

Respect Wednesdays End Up. 10pm, $5. Rotating DJs Daddy Rolo, Young Fyah, Irie Dole, I-Vier, Sake One, Serg, and more spinning reggae, dancehall, roots, lovers rock, and mash ups.

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

THURSDAY 22

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Back40 Simple Pleasures, 3434 Balboa, SF; (415) 387-4022. 8pm, free.

*"Budget Rock 8 Kick-Off" Eagle Tavern. 9pm, $6. With MC Brontez, Cheap Time, Hunx and His Punx, Primitivas, and Young Offenders. Part of Budget Rock 8.

Phil Crumar and the Wonderfuls Make-Out Room. 8pm, $8.

Chris DeJohn and Neutral Ground Boom Boom Room. 9:30pm, $6.

Don’ts, Finn Riggins, Total Hound Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $6.

Emmitt-Nershi Band, Assembly of Dust Independent. 8pm, $17.

Heart Warfield. 8pm, $62.50-85.

High Like Five, David Baron, Look the Moon, Mongols Slim’s. 8pm, $13.

Hit the Lights, There For Tomorrow, Fireworks, Sparks the Rescue, This Time Next Year Bottom of the Hill. 6:30pm, $12.

Jibbers, Lucabrazzi, Sprains, Karate Chop Annie’s Social Club. 8pm, $6.

Daniel Johnston, Hymns Warfield. 8pm, $25.

Kid Sister Rickshaw Stop. 9pm, $20.

Kommunity FK Amoeba, 1855 Haight, SF; (415) 831-1200. 6pm, free.

Letters, Google Maps, Jen Grady House of Shields. 8pm, $5.

Mammatus, Glitter Wizard, Bare Wires El Rio. 9pm, $6.

Matisyahu, Jillian Ann Fillmore. 9pm, $15.

Moira Scar, DOG, Taraval Technique Luggage Store, 1007 Market, SF; (415) 255-5971. 8pm, $6-10.

Needtobreathe, Serena Ryder, Alternate Routes Café du Nord. 8pm, $15.

Noah and the Whale, Robert Francis Swedish American Hall (upstairs from Café du Nord). 8pm, $16.

Oceanroyal, Northern Son Hotel Utah. 9pm, $6.

Sir Lord Von Raven, Jail Weddings, Sermon, Naysayers Knockout. 9:30pm, $8.

Spits, Davila 666, Modern Action, Meat Sluts Thee Parkside. 9pm, $10.

"Stevie Ray Vaughn Tribute Show with Alan Iglesias" Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $16.

Tainted Love Red Devil Lounge. 8pm, $15.

BAY AREA

Echo and the Bunnymen, She Wants Revenge Fox Theater. 8pm, $42.50.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

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

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

John Kalleen Group Shanghai 1930. 7pm, free.

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

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

Mo’Fone Coda. 9pm, $7.

David Sanborn Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $30-35.

Marcos Silva Yoshi’s San Francisco (in the lounge). 6pm, free.

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

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

"Afro-Cuban Keystones" Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, SF; www.sfjazz.org. 7:30pm, $25-65. With Omar Sosa Quartet featuring Tim Eriksen, and John Santos Sextet.

Ceili Chicks Plough and Stars. 9pm, free.

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

High Country Atlas Café. 8pm, free.

Honey, Love Dimension, Nectarine Pie, Dos Hermanos, Lotus Moon Amnesia. 9pm, $8.

DANCE CLUBS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Higher Learning Poleng Lounge. 9pm, $10. With DJs Gabe Bondoc and Mel.

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.

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.

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

FRIDAY 23

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Bouncing Souls, Bayside, Broadway Calls Slim’s. 8pm, $21.

Boys Like Girls, Cobra Starship, Maine, A Rocket to the Moon, Versa Emerge Warfield. 6:30pm, $27.

Alma Desnuda, Still Time Red Devil Lounge. 8pm, $15.

Dynamic Coda. 10pm, $10.

"An Evening with Lloyd Cole" Swedish American Hall (upstairs from Café du Nord). 8pm, $20.

Liam Finn and Eliza Jane, Jason Lytle Independent. 9pm, $15.

Girl in a Coma, Black Gold Café du Nord. 9:30pm, $12.

Helios Creed, Chrome, Galaxxy Chamber, Toiling Midgets Great American Music Hall. 9pm, $15.

Islands, Jemina Pearl, Toro Y Moi Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $14.

*Kowloon Walled City, Madrago, Lucika, Cartographer Annie’s Social Club. 8:30pm, $7.

DJ Lebowitz Madrone Art Bar. 6-9pm, free.

Steve Lucky and the Rhumba Bums Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $20.

Manicato, Raw Deluxe Boom Boom Room. 9:30pm, $10.

Mi Ami, These Are Powers, Gowns Knockout. 10pm, $5.

*Necessary Evils, Black Time, Golden Boys with Greg Ashley, Wounded Lion Thee Parkside. 7pm, $10. Part of Budget Rock 8; with MC John O’Neil and DJs Mitch and Icki.

Joe Pug, Lauren Shera, Guella Hotel Utahl. 9pm, $10.

Amelia Ray Argus Lounge. 9pm, $5.

Steely Dan Nob Hill Masonic Exhibition Hall, 1111 California, SF; www.livenation.com. 8pm, $69-255. Performing Aja.

"TigerBeat6 Label Night/Dance Party" Elbo Room. 9pm, $7-10. With Kid 606, Pigeonfunk, Ghosts on Tape, Pooterhoots, CLAWS vs. DJ Peeplay, and DJ Oonce Oonce.

Train Fillmore. 9pm.

BAY AREA

Mika, Gary Go Fox Theater. 8pm, $29.50.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

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

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

"Cultural Encounters: Friday Nights at the deYoung presents Jazz at Intersection" Wilsey Court, de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, SF; www.deyoungmuseum.org. 6:30pm, free. With Jon Jang and Unbound Chinatown featuring Ms. Min Xiao Fen.

Larry Dunlap Yoshi’s San Francisco (in the lounge). 6pm, free.

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.

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

"Music and Magnetism" Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon, SF; www.sfjazz.org. 8pm, $30-70. With Melody Gardot.

David Sanborn Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $35-40.

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

Vince Laetano Trio Vin Club, 515 Broadway, SF; (415) 277-7228. 7pm, free.

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

"Cuban Keyboard Maestro" Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, SF; www.sfjazz.org. 8pm, $30-70. With Gonzalo Rubalcaba Quintet.

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

Judea Eden Band, Bitter Sweet, Blair Hansen Dolores Park Café. 7:30pm, free.

Rob Reich and Craig Ventresco Amnesia. 7pm, free.

Seconds on End Plough and Stars. 9pm.

Sparlha Swa Red Poppy Art House. 8pm, $12-15.

DANCE CLUBS

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

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

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

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

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

Gay Asian Paradise Club Eight, 1151 Folsom, SF; www.eightsf.com. 9pm, $8. Featuring two dance floors playing dance and hip hop, smoking patio, and 2 for 1 drinks before 10pm. Gymnasium Stud. 10pm, $5. With DJs Violent Vickie and guests spinning electro, disco, rap, and 90s dance and featuring performers, gymnastics, jump rope, drink specials, and more.

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

Lucky Road Amnesia. 9pm, $6-10. Featuring live performances by Sister Kate and DJs spinning Balkan, Bangra, Latin, and more.

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

Makeout Session Club Six. 9pm, $5. With DJs Noah D, Ultravioetntrldphil, and Tblackheart spinning dubstep.

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.

6 to 9 800 Larkin, 800 Larkin, SF; (415) 567-9326. 6pm, free. DJs David Justin and Dean Manning spinning downtempo, electro breaks, techno, and tech house. Free food by 800 Larkin.

Supperclub anniversary Supperclub. 10pm, $20. With DJs Mark Farina, Honey Digon, Rooz, and more spinning house and techno.

Track Meet Club Six. 9pm, $10. A hip hop producer beat battle with special judges Keeley and Mr. Dibia$e.

Very Best 103 Harriet, 103 Harriet, SF; (415) 431-3609. 10pm, $13. Featuring Radioclit and Esau Mwamwaya.

SATURDAY 24

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Bouncing Souls, Bayside, Broadway Calls Slim’s. 8pm, $21.

*"BYOQ: Bring Your Own Queer" Music Concourse Bandshell, Golden Gate Park, SF; www.byoq.org. Noon-5pm, free. With Honey Sound System, Rainbow Death Pony, Excuses for Skipping, Lucky Jesus, performances by La Chica Boom and Diamond Daggers, and more.

*Cannabis Corpse, Ramming Speed, Acaphalix El Rio. 10pm, $7.

Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard, John Roderick Bimbo’s 356 Club. 9pm, $25.

Goodie Mob, Scarface Fillmore. 9pm, $36.

Rachel Grimes and Sarah Cahill Swedish American Hall (upstairs from Café du Nord). 7:30pm, $17.

John Lee Hooker Jr. Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $22.

Jeremy Jay, Sea Lions, Black Umbrella Knockout. 9pm, $8.

*Mummies, Brentwoods, Fevers, Donny Denim and the Spaghettoes Bottom of the Hill. 8pm, $5. Part of Budget Rock 8; with MC Mike Lucas and DJ Tina Boom Boom.

*Mummies, Younger Lovers, Harold Ray Live in Concert, Okmoniks, Cormans Thee Parkside. 8pm, $5. Part of Budget Rock 8.

Meshell Ndegeocello, Beatropolis Independent. 9pm, $25.

*No Bunny, Rock n’ Roll Adventure Kids, Personal and the Pizzas, Pizzas, Johnny and the Limelight Thee Parkside. 3pm, $5. Part of Budget Rock 8; with MC Personal Pizza and DJs Big Nate and Ayapapaya, plus a pizza-eating contest.

Rykarda Parasol, Nero Nava, Murder of Lilies Café du Nord. 9pm, $12.

Sounds, Shiny Toy Guns, Semi Precious Weapons, Foxy Shazam Warfield. 9pm, $30.

Steely Dan Nob Hill Masonic Exhibition Hall, 1111 California, SF; www.livenation.com. 8pm, $69-255. Performing The Royal Scam.

Stirling Says, Finest Dearest, System and Station Hemlock Tavern. 9:30pm, $7.

Stymie and the Pimp Jones Luv Orchestra Coda. 10pm, $10.

Three Bad Jacks, Mighty Slim Pickins, Naked and Shameless Annie’s Social Club. 9pm, $8.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

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

"Chief Conguero" Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, SF; www.sfjazz.org. 8pm, $22-70. With Poncho Sanchez.

"Crescent City Classic" San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak, SF; www.sfjazz.org. 8pm, $30-50. With Henry Butler.

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

Dave Matthews Yoshi’s San Francisco (in the lounge). 6pm, free.

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

David Sanborn Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $35-40.

Ricardo Scales Top of the Mark. 9pm, $15.

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Brent Amaker and the Rodeo Amnesia. 9pm, $7-10.

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

Gas Men Plough and Stars. 9pm.

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

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

Orixa, Kapakahi, DJ DeeDot Elbo Room. 10pm, $12.

Prince Diabete and Band Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez, SF; (415) 454-5238, www.noevalleymusicseries.com. 8:15pm, $17.

John Rybak Cafe Royale, 800 Post, SF; (415) 441-4099. 8pm, free. With Perry Spinali

DANCE CLUBS

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

Barefoot Bhangra Party San Francisco Buddhist Center, 37 Bartlett, SF; (415) 289-2019. 7pm, $10 donation. Featuring beginners dance lessons.

Barracuda 111 Minna. 9pm, $5-10. Eclectic 80s music with Djs Damon, Phillie Ocean, and Mod Dave, plus free 80s hair and make-up by professional stylists.

Big Up Magazine Paradise Lounge. 10pm, $20. With DJs Cyrus, Cluekid, Kutz, and more spinning dubstep to celebrate Big Up’s one year anniversary.

Bonobo Mighty. 10pm, $13.

Dirty 30s Suede, 383 Bay, SF; (510) 692-7069. A birthday celebration for Quincy with DJs Mind Motion, Romero, and Fresh spinning hip hop.

Go Bang! Go Boo! Deco SF, 510 Larkin St; (415) 346-2025. 10pm, $5. A scare-abration featuring Pat Les Stache and Steve Mak spinning 70’s/ 80’s disco with resident DJs Eddy Bauer, Nicky B., Sergio and Stanley.

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.

soundscape Vortex Room, 1082 Howard, SF. 10pm, $5. With DJs C3PLOS, Brighton Russ, and Nick Waterhouse spinning soul jazz, boogaloo, hammond grooves, and more.

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

Tocadisco Club Six. 9pm, $10. With DJs David Harness, Dan Suda, Peter Gielow, and more spinning house.

SUNDAY 25

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

"Brutal Sound Effects Festival #67" Hemlock Tavern. 8pm, $7. With Compression of the Chest Cavity Miracle, Elise Baldwin, Sgt. Cobra Queef, David Kendall, Horseflesh, and VSF.

*"Budget Rock Record Swap and Batter Blaster Breakfast" Thee Parkside. 1pm. $5. With Sector Zero, Box Elders, Impediments, Wild Thing, Slippery Slopes, and Outdoorsmen. Part of Budget Rock 8; also with MC Bruce Belden, the Last Punk on Earth; and DJs Carolyn Keddy and Mike.

Discipline, Farewell Typewriter Café du Nord. 9pm, $12.

Gossip, Men, We Are the World Regency Ballroom. 8pm, $22.

*Gris Gris, Thee Oh Sees, Dan Melchior Und Das Menace, Fresh and Onlys Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $10. Part of Budget Rock 8; with MC Anthony Bedard and Bob McDonald, and DJs Lil Duce and DJ Cityhobb.

Rakim, Rhymefest Slim’s. 9pm, $27.

Jonah Smith, Jenn Grinels, Christopher Hawley Hotel Utah. 8pm, $10.

Steely Dan Nob Hill Masonic Exhibition Hall, 1111 California, SF; www.livenation.com. 7:30pm, $69-255. Performing internet requests.

"West Fest" Speedway Meadow, Golden Gate Park, SF; www.2b1records.com/woodstock40sf. 9am-6pm, free. Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Woodstock with Jefferson Starship, Country Joe McDonald, Leslie West, Jerry Harrison with Ronnie Montrose, and more.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

Terry Disley Washington Square Bar and Grill, 1701 Powell, SF; (415) 433-1188. 7pm, free.

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

David Sanborn Yoshi’s San Francisco. 2 and 7pm, $5-35.

Songstresses from the Edge Old First Church, 1751 Sacramento, SF; (415) 474-1608. 4pm, $15.

"A Timeless Hipster" Florence Gould Theatre, Legion of Honor, 34th Ave at Clement, SF; www.sfjazz.org. 2pm, $30-50. With Mark Murphy with Vinny Valentino.

Josh Workman, Noel Jewkes, Michael Zisman Bliss Bar, 4026 24th St, SF; (415) 826-6200. 3pm, $10.

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Paul Bertolino, Billy and Dolly, Trevor Childs Rite Spot, 2099 Folsom, SF; (415) 552-6066. 9pm.

"Debut from Cuba" San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak, SF; www.sfjazz.org. 7pm, $25. With Alfredo Rodriguez.

Quinn DeVeaux and the Blue Beat Review, Bodice Rippers, Emperor Norton’s Jazz Band Amnesia. 9pm, $7-10.

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

Mestiza Coda. 8pm.

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

"Tropicalismo Titan" Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, SF; www.sfjazz.org. 7pm, $30-70. with Gal Costa.

DANCE CLUBS

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

Dub Mission Elbo Room. 9pm, $6. Dub, roots, and classic dancehall with DJ Sep, Ludachris, and guest Jon AD.

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

45 Club the Funky Side of Soul Knockout. 10pm, free. With dX the Funky Gran Paw, Dirty Dishes, English Steve, and the 14th Floor.

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.

Last Sunday Bollyhood Café. 5:30pm, $2. With DJs spinning dance hall, soul, and R&B.

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

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

MONDAY 26

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

"Growing Pains Tour" Elbo Room. 9pm, $5. With Mestizo, Robust, Digital Digital, Nocando, and Delmon Crew.

Goh Nakamura, Jane Lui, Gabe Bondoc Café du Nord. 8pm, $10.

Sentinel, Malbec, St. Leonards Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $8.

Sunset Rubdown, tUnE-y ArDs Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $18.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

Brubeck Brothers Quartet Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $20.

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

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

FOLK/WORLD/COUNTRY

Barefoot Nellies Amnesia. 8:30pm, free.

DANCE CLUBS

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

Case of the Mondays Triple Crown. 10pm, free. Rotating DJs spinning hip hop, soul, electronic, reggae, and more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

TUESDAY 27

ROCK/BLUES/HIP-HOP

Congress with Valerie Troutt Elbo Room. 9pm, $10.

Alela Diane, Marissa Nadler Rickshaw Stop. 8pm, $12.

"An Evening with Emilie Autumn" Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $16.

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

Fracas, STDs, Kill Crazies, Poison Control Knockout. 10pm, free.

Heavy Slim’s. 8pm, $15.

Kirkwood-Dellinger, 300 Pounds, Dana Alberts Rock-It Room. 9pm.

Lahar Boom Boom Room. 9:30pm, $5.

Le Loup, Nurses, French Miami Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $12.

Nico Vega, Scene of Action, Endless Hallway Thee Parkside. 8pm, $8.

*Pelican, Black Cobra, Sweet Cobra Independent. 8pm, $15.

Pictures of Then Kimo’s. 9pm, $5.

Pierre Le Robot, Weatherbox, Little Brazil, Raised by Robots Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $6.

Eliot Rose, Powerdove El Rio. 8pm, free.

Slow Poisoner Brainwash, 1122 Folsom, SF; www.theslowpoisoner.com. 7:15pm, free.

JAZZ/NEW MUSIC

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

Dave Parker Quintet Rasselas Jazz. 8pm.

"Jazz Mafia Tuesdays" Coda. 9pm, $7. With Dublin and the Hip-Hop Medicine Band.

Marcus Roberts Trio Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $15-20.

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

Slow Session Plough and Stars. 9pm. With Vince Keehan and friends.

DANCE CLUBS

Alcoholocaust Presents Argus Lounge. 9pm, free. With DJ What’s His Fuck, DJ Freddy MacNugget, and DJ Animal.

Drunken Monkey Lounge Annie’s Social Club. 9pm, free. Random tunes and random chaos.

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.

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

Events listings

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

WEDNESDAY 21

Distribution Workshop Artists’ Television Access, 992 Valencia, SF; festival@atasite.org. 7:30pm, free. Gain insight into the world of experimental film exhibition and distribution at this workshop and panel discussion featuring Joel Bachar from Microcinema International, filmmaker Jonathan Marlow from SFcinemateque, filmmaker Maia Carpenter from Canyon Cinema, filmmaker Craig Baldwin from Other Cinema, and associate editor and producer of Wholphin, Emily Doe.

Root Division Auction Root Division, 3175 17th St., SF; (415) 863-7668. 7:30pm, $35. Support artists and arts education at this community auction and benefit for local emerging artists and Root Division’s after school art program for Bay Area youth.

FRIDAY 23

Art in Storefronts 989 Market, SF; www.sfartscommission.org/storefronts. 5pm, free. Enjoy live music and pick up a map at the opening party for the Art in Storefronts program, where participating storefronts along central Market and Taylor streets will display original window installations done by San Francisco artists.

Crush It! The Booksmith, 1644 Haight, SF; (415) 863-8688. 6pm; $22, includes book. Meet Gary Vaynerchuk, host of the popular daily webcast The Thunder Show on tv.winelibrary.com, and get a copy of his new book Crush It! Why now is the time to cash in on your passion, a guide on how to turn your interests into businesses.

Haunted Haight Walking Tour Starts in front of Coffee to the People, 1206 Masonic, SF; (415) 863-1416. Fri., Sat., and Sun throughout October, 7pm; $20 advanced tickets required. Discover neighborhood spirits and hunt ghosts with a real paranormal researcher on this haunted tour which includes chances to win spooky prizes and a guidebook.

Leon Panetta Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, 999 California, SF; (415) 869-5930. 11am, $30. Hear CIA director and California native Leon Panetta discuss the current challenges facing national security. Attendees may be subject to search.

SATURDAY 24

BYOQ Music Concourse, Golden Gate Park, 55 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, SF; www.byoq.org. Noon, free. Come dance and play at the Bring Your Own Queer music and arts festival featuring bands, DJs, performances, art, fashion, and more.

Passport 2009 Mission Playground, Valencia between 19th and 20th St., SF; (415) 554-6080. Noon, $25 for booklet. Pick up a map and purchase a "passport" at Mission Playground and begin your adventure to various locations around the Mission to collect artist-made stamps that will personalize your Passport 2009 journey.

Save City College Sale Parking area of the Balboa Reservoir across from the San Francisco City College Ocean Campus Science Hall, 50 Phelan, SF; www.ccsf.edu/saveccsf. 9am-2pm, free. Help restore canceled classes at the City College of San Francisco for the Spring 2010 semester at this Save City College garage sale and flea market.

Opera Costume Sale San Francisco Opera Scene Shop, 800 Indiana, SF; sfopera.com. Sat. 11am-5pm, Sun. 11am-4pm; free. Get a last minute Halloween costume at the San Francisco Opera’s warehouse sale featuring hats, masks, fabrics, shoes, and handmade costumes for women, men, and children.

Potrero Hill History Night International Studies Academy, 655 De Haro, SF; (415) 863-0784. 5:30pm; free program, $6 for BBQ. Enjoy BBQ from Potrero Hill restaurants and music by the Apollo Jazz Group, followed by a performance by the I.S.A. Community Choir, and ending with interviews of unique long-time residents.

Walk for Farm Animals Ferry Market Plaza, meet behind the Vallicourt Fountain in Justin Herman Plaza, SF; 607-583-2225. Noon, $20. Help expand awareness of the unnecessary suffering that farm animals endure and help raise funds for Farm Sanctuary, a farm animal rescue, education, and advocacy organization.

BAY AREA

Exotic Erotic Ball Cow Palace 2600 Geneva, Daly City; (415) 567-BALL. 8pm, $79. Attend the 30th anniversary of the Exotic Erotic Ball, a lingerie, fetish, and masquerade celebration of human sexuality and freedom of expression featuring live music, DJs, and costume contests.

SUNDAY 25

BAY AREA

Sister of Fire Awards Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 9th St., Oak; (510) 444-2700. 11am, $50-5,000. Help honor four remarkable women: Civil rights and immigration advocate Banafsheh Akhlaghi, Colombian indigenous rights advocate Ana Maria Murillo of Mujer U’wa, employment and labor rights advocate and author Lora Jo Foo and Tirien Steinbach of the East Bay Community Law Center. Featuring brunch and live music.

MONDAY 26

Ghosts of City Hall SF City Hall, meet at South Light Court, through Polk street entrance, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, SF; (415) 557-4266. 6:30pm, free. Hear stories of disinterred remains, assassinations, and other ghostly lore, like the little-known fact that a cemetery once covered Civic Center. Allow time for security check.

Psychic Dream Astrology

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ARIES

March 21-April 19

Making peace with shitty circumstances isn’t the same as being passive in the face of them. If you can accept that your boss is a jerk, your date is insensitive about your dog, you are terrible with money, or whatever else is plaguing you, then you can actually do something about it. Stop wasting your energy on fighting what you can’t control.

TAURUS

April 20-May 20

Watch your defensiveness right now, because it’s not likely to protect whatever you are trying to keep safe. Feeling indignant or blocked by others may be valid, but if you act from those feelings, you’ll only be feeding the fire. Get in touch with your emotions and find a way to support yourself. Be open to the support all around you.

GEMINI

May 21-June 21

It’s all about staying in the present moment, Gem. Enjoy the fruits of your life, even if what you wanted was an orchard and you only have a tree or two. Invest in yourself by having gratitude for what you’ve got. Decisions are best made a different week, when you are clearer about where you want to go.

CANCER

June 22-July 22

Don’t linger in the land of over-processing. Your anxieties are mounting, and there is no brilliant perspective that will change that. Focus your energy on building your self-esteem so you can get empowered. This is the wrong time to give up or concede. Recharge your energy so you can get executive with your life.

LEO

July 23-Aug. 22

No matter how overwhelming things are, remember the old motto: "Where there’s a will, there’s a way." The trick is to not impose your willfulness on others, but to strive to embody the changes you want to see in your life instead. If something doesn’t work when you put your best into it, ask yourself why you keep participating.

VIRGO

Aug. 23-Sept. 22

Goals are so important; they help us to have a sense of direction. Now is the time to review your ambitions and see where you are in relation to them. Don’t be scared to change your mind (and your plans) if that’s what feels right. Remember that getting happy needs to be on your to-do list.

LIBRA

Sept. 23-Oct. 22

They say success is the best revenge. Struggling against adversity won’t get you far this week. Avoid making waves and try working with your circumstances for a while. Get it together before you strike out.

SCORPIO

Oct. 23-Nov. 21

There are no magic beans, pal. You’ve got to dig a hole; plant those suckers in a nice, sunny spot; and remember to water regularly. The thing is, growth takes time. Make sure you are in a position you can afford to maintain, because you may find yourself locked in to it for a while. When in doubt, take baby steps.

SAGITTARIUS

Nov. 22-Dec. 21

A major change is coming your way, Sag, and holding on tight will stop the whole thing up. Be willing to step into the unknown, but don’t forget to forge a plan B in case you need it. If you can get into a position where you can safely take risks, you may slow some things down — but it’ll be worth it.

CAPRICORN

Dec. 22-Jan. 19

Pushing things toward your desired end is one of your great skills, Cap, but can sometimes get in your way. There comes a time when all you need to do is give that ball a little push and it will run off on its own. What’s a busy bee to do when there’s nothing left to do? Try enjoying some honey, of course! Enjoy today while tomorrow develops.

AQUARIUS

Jan. 20-Feb. 18

Boldly encounter truth this week. If you are way in debt and living in denial, it’s time to rip open those red envelopes and call back those creditors. You are in a great spot to deal with what’s real, but first you have to acknowledge said realness. It may harsh your mellow, but bubbles were meant to get broken, buddy.

PISCES

Feb. 19-March 20

You are changing in ways that don’t always feel in control, and it can get a bit awkward sometimes. Reach out to friends or family to remind yourself who you are. The shifts happening in and around you can be disorienting. But if you keep your center, there is much to learn. Be patient with yourself.

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.