Volume 44 Number 04

6 pop-up lunches


Blame the economy’s downturn. Or blame the Tamale Lady’s success. Whatever the reason, suddenly mobile food carts seem to be all the rage — and those that serve the midday (rather than midnight) crowd all the more so. But while the idea of the Crème Brulee Man and Magic Curry Cart has gone from experimental to expected, another nontraditional lunch option has bubbled to the surface: pop-ups and dining windows. These more stationary — yet equally delightful — options have been sneaking onto industrial loading docks or into neighborhood supermarkets, seducing customers with their unconventional locales and keeping their loyalty with indisputably good food.


Douglas Monsalud and his crew started serving "spontaneous, organic, covert nourishment" out of a loading dock less than nine months ago, and the Dogpatch lunch scene hasn’t been the same since. The weekday eatery features a thoughtful, rotating menu of inspired delights, always including a few sandwiches, a salad, a dessert (recent choices include bacon snickerdoodles and a nectarine/raspberry galette), and a housemade beverage (like honeydew/lime fresca or organic lemonade). Not only is everything delicious, most items are made from locally-grown ingredients. My favorite? Marin Sun Farms’ pork schnitzel sandwich with braised cabbage and pink lady apples, a butterscotch cookie, and organic strawberry soda with local seltzer.

Weekdays, 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.; 958 Illinois, SF. www.kitchenettesf.com


Leave it to the Bay Area to host a joint that pairs fried chicken and waffles with farm-fresh, organic ingredients. This offshoot of Farmer Brown draws the in-the-know lunch crowd down to SoMa for crispy fried poultry, creamy grits and cheddar, angel biscuits and gravy, and red velvet cupcakes. For you old-school beverage aficionados, they stock Dublin Doctor Pepper (the original Doctor Pepper from Texas, made with real cane sugar), Fitz’s cream sodas, and Faygo grape soda. After ordering from the little blue shuttered window, wait across the street on the funky concrete loading dock until you hear your name. Then, perched on milk crates with other soul-food seekers, you’ll get your Southern charm with SF values.

Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m.; 360 Ritch, SF. (415) 777-2777, www.littleskilletsf.com


Ian Begg and Ryan Maxey (formerly of Café Majestic) opened the door to Naked Lunch in mid-August. The sweet little annex to Enrico’s features a menu that changes almost daily, although the signature foie gras sandwich will probably remain a fixture (controversy or not). At $15, it’s outside my tax bracket, but the dried chorizo sandwich with bacon, d’anjou pear, pickled onion, and baby greens was pure perfection — the salt from the bacon balanced with the sweetness of the pear. Ian and Ryan have plans to open a gastropub. For now, I’m just happy they’re rockin’ the sandwich combinations each week.

Mon.–Fri., 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.; 504 Broadway, SF. (415) 577-4951,www.nakedlunchsf.com


American Box, brought to us by the folks at Fish and Farm (inside Hotel Mark Twain), offers more than simple sandwiches and beverages. From the now infamous Juicy Lucy’s cheeseburger box, served with local organic potato salad and secret sauce, to the Niman Ranch taco box with sweet and spicy slaw, chef Chad Newton’s Tenderloin pop-up cuisine is attracting curious foodies along with the neighborhood business crowd. Take your box to go or meander across the hotel lobby and enjoy a quiet spell in the dining room. There’s nothing like a very grown-up lunch box to put a smile on your face — even if Mom didn’t pack it for you.

Weekdays, 10:30 a.m.– 1:30 p.m.; 339 Taylor, SF. (415) 474-3474, www.americanboxlunch.com


No one seems to mind squeezing into this hole-in-the-wall Tenderloin spot for an authentic $3 banh mi sandwich. It must be because of the sweet roasted pork on a chewy roll, served with pickled daikon, carrots, jalapenos, and cilantro. The two efficient women who run the counter aren’t messing around, though, so don’t hem and haw before you order — and don’t even think about making any special requests or alterations. Instead, quietly grab a pork bun or coconut dessert to accompany your sandwich and move along to make room for the next guy in line.

Mon.–Sat., 6 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sun., 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.; 560 Larkin, SF. (415) 474-5698


You tell me where in SF you can get an authentic po’boy with red beans and rice in the back of a dive bar, and I’ll buy you a beer. Really. Otherwise I’ll bet money the only place is at Jack’s Club, a neighborhood bar that’s already fab thanks to a pool table, a CD jukebox, and vintage pinball machines. But head to the back and you’ll find a little window that pumps out real Southern goodness to the San Francisco masses. The Debris sandwich (pulled roast with gravy) is my favorite, although the rustic gumbo with smoked sausage, seafood, and chicken is a close second.

Mon.–Tues, 11 a.m. –4 p.m.; Wed.–Fri., 11 a.m.– 8 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.–6 p.m.; 2545 24th St. (Inside Jack’s Club), SF. (415) 282-8906, www.whereyats.com



Dennis Herrera

Jose Cisneros






View our entire endorsement arguments here

Teeny ‘Tiny’


THEATER A reunion between Berkeley Rep artistic director Tony Taccone and playwright Tony Kushner is a notable event. This is a relationship that goes back to the original production of Angels in America, after all. Currently up: Tiny Kushner. The amusingly self-effacing title, however, flagging an evening of short works by still one of the biggest names on the American theatrical landscape, ends up disappointingly prescient.

Flip Flop Fly! concerns a postmortem lunar encounter between two eccentric female historical figures: American entertainer and self-styled interplanetary composer Lucia Pamela (Valeri Mudek); and the Hitler-loving Queen of Albania (Kate Eifrig). The meeting delivers little more than a fairly tired clash between a naïve but boundlessly imaginative American and a crustily authoritarian European, climaxing in a Mel Brooks moment of musical harmonizing.

Next comes Terminating or Sonnet LXXV or "Lass Meine Schmerzen Nicht Verloren Sein" or Ambivalence. Terminating is a high point, witty and wisecracking, in a New Yorker sort of way. Terminating‘s clever riffing on love and our existential, species-defining "ambivalence" also comes buoyed by J.C. Cutler’s terrific turn as former patient Hendrick, a slovenly yet charming manic trying to worm his way back onto the couch, and into the bed, of his rattled lesbian analyst (an equally solid Eifrig).

Then comes the interminable East Coast Ode to Howard Jarvis: a little teleplay in tiny monologues, a facile comedy concerning a tax evasion scheme rifling through the lower echelons of New York’s state bureaucracy, generated from afar by a cartoonish white supremacist with what he considers the mother of all tax loop holes. The wearying, jaggedly-paced series of scenes features a large set of social and ethnic caricatures by Lichtscheidl (who is dutiful but not quite up to the task) set against a backdrop of print-heavy IRS forms that, as a text, frankly begins to look no less interesting than the one being performed.

Also thin is Dr. Arnold A. Hutschnecker in Paradise, another light take on potentially weighty themes in a fanciful setting, this one affably shared by a thousand-eyed "recoding angel" (Eifrig) and Nixon’s old shrink (Cutler).

If the evening means to showcase the breadth of Kushner’s work, there’s actually small reward in its repetitious themes and gestures — but, rather than highlighting larger, probing concerns, they instead feel like deeply grooved habits of form and rarely give rise to anything very inspired. The marked exception is the last piece, Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy, which, while problematic and dated, has the merit of being truly angry and at least fitfully commanding in its encounter between Laura Bush and a group of dead Iraqi children in heaven on the eve of the Iraq invasion. Here the play and playwright have something to voice and it carries. (Robert Avila)

TINY KUSHNER Through Nov 29, $27–$-71. Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2025 Addison, Berk. (510) 647-2949. berkeleyrep.org

Girls, girls, girls


SONIC REDUCER Ladies first. As pop’s lads rotate in and out of the dawg house — and Lil Wayne pleads guilty to gun possession and Chris Brown decides to "Crawl" — the time has come for the XX-chromosome set to rise to the occasion: Girls, girls, no pushing, shoving, or elbows to the knockers. Just kick it on record, all ye femme talents, past, present, and future.

Tomorrow — and yesterday — is the way for the all-girl Brilliant Colors. Spend a little quiet time with the SF threesome’s bracing, brief, brand-spanking Introducing (Slumberland), and let the Ramones-y distortion rumble and tumble till you’re completely prepped for the sweet-tart twee revolution in full effect with labelmates like the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, the Mantles, and Summer Cats. Yes, Flying Nun’s twirling primitivism and an early punk naivete that tags both Half Japanese and Huggy Bear, as well as a purity of ultra-lo-fi sound and singularity of concept, will take BC far. It’s low key but brilliant in its own way: viva la Bay girl-band revolution.

"Aiiii!" That’s the sound of Madonna in the play zone, in full celebratory mode, on the now sorely dated-sounding "Ray of Light," smack in the center of the first disc of Celebration (Warner Bros.), the newly remastered greatest-hits comp cherry-picked by M’lady and her fans. Now that’s the cry of an icon. Project Runway‘s star-struck, untutored Christopher Straub was flying his freakily clueless flag when he recently raved of Christina Aguilera, "She’s an icon!" Despite "Beautiful," the petite ex-Mickey Mouser isn’t quite among the ranks of the veneration-worthy (especially after her Runway appearance in a cliché Halloween-ready putf8um wig).

Madonna, however, remains rich with symbolism, themes, and variations, worthy of dissection — she’s always striven for more than mere chart-topping ack-shun, and Celebration draws from a deep well of work, silly or no. You can trim a third of the tunes on the 36-track compilation, which sports a cover that brashly appropriates Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe, and still have enough ear-teasers and ideas to qualify for canonization — even as a tiny-town chorus of itty-bitty backing robots bleat, "I heard it all before! I heard it all before! I heard it all before!" on "Sorry." Fifty-one years young — with arms that look alternately enviable, emancipated, and emaciated — Madonna is waving her label farewell with this nail in the coffers of the $408 million Sticky and Sweet Tour. Only two numbers, "4 Minutes" and "Miles Away," are culled from her most recent studio full-length, Hard Candy (Warner Bros., 2008). Tacked on are the new dancefloor-hailing "Celebration" and "Revolver," with Lil Wayne and its prescient references to the rapper’s gun charges and its vocal cribs from Rihanna.

How does Mad’s seemingly throwaway pop stand up so many years along? Why bother gathering these songs in one/two places for the third time? Celebration‘s first tracks — "Hung Up," "Music," and the surprisingly resilient "Vogue" — make a powerhouse aerobic class troika. "Like a Virgin" feels fun and faintly fresh, while "Into the Groove" suffers from oversaturation. "Like a Prayer" seems less subversive, sans video, and more overworked than one might recall, and "Ray of Light" rings especially awkward in its forced glee. Still, the synth-rocker "Burning Up" is delightfully cheesy-cool, and "Secret" and "Borderline" glow with unexpectedly solid pop craft — though, wait, did Madonna actually ask for "more tuna" — "mucho maguro" — on "Sorry"?

Speaking of Japanese morsels, pass the beat and throw in a slew of "Ai"’s, "Eya-eya"’s, and other assorted vocables while you’re at it, when it comes to OOIOO’s gloriously raucous ARMONICO HEWA (Thrill Jockey). The sixth album by the all-woman unit organized by the Boredoms’ Yoshimi is a dizzyingly deep swirl of tribal drumming and mechanistic guitar blurt ("Uda Hah"), awash with elastic synths ("Ulda") and leaping, lilting girlish vocals that point to the breath as the way of all things ("Konjo"). Here, OOIOO manage to be beautiful and wild at exactly the same time.



Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart, This Song is a Mess But So Am I’s Freddy Ruppert and Zola Jesus’ Nika Roza join forces to make spectral synthpop. With White Hinterland and Common Eider King Eider. Wed/28, 9 p.m., $8. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


Their business is ass-kicking, and business is … big. With Triclops! Mon/2, 10 p.m. $12. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Know the unknown


Straight-to-DVD bio-doc Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown (Cinevolve, $24.95) is stylistically pretty ho-hum, especially for a film about one of the most creative minds in supernatural horror fiction. Talking heads and slow pans over illustrations do most of the heavy lifting, since the author, who died in 1937, apparently didn’t leave behind much in the way of photographs, recordings, diaries, or relatives. Still, the film offers an informative experience. For a guy obsessed with Old Ones and tentacled beasts, H.P. Lovecraft’s life was a fairly prim and stuffy affair: raised by a smothering mother whose old-guard family had fallen on hard times, he rarely strayed from his beloved Providence, R.I. He was a social misfit, a known xenophobe, a lousy husband, and too proud to take a pay-the-bills job (ghostwriting was as low as he’d stoop).

His imagination, however, was anything but ordinary. An early interest in paleontology and astrology informed his later work, which usually ended up being published in Weird Tales magazine for paltry sums ("The Call of Cthulhu" is said to have netted $165). Though his baroque, adjective-happy writing is gently mocked by the doc’s contributors (Neil Gaiman pokes fun at Lovecraft’s overuse of words like "gibbous"; Guillermo Del Toro calls his style "incredibly anal-retentive"), his use of mood is highly praised (John Carpenter notes that the narrators of Lovecraft’s tales "start terrified and end terrified.") In life, he may not have reached a wide audience — as the film points out, in the early 20th century science fiction was far more marginalized than it is today. But the eagerness of Gaiman, Del Toro, Carpenter, Stuart Gordon, and other celebs to chime in here — along with Lovecraft‘s shots of fan-friendly merch, including Cthulhu bedroom slippers — suggests the author of "The Outsider" has forever transcended the fringe.


Into the wilds


One painful component of the ever-escautf8g government service cutbacks, particularly in our own endlessly explorable state, has been the threat to parkland access. The notion that the national park system Wallace Stegner (and Ken Burns’ current PBS documentary series) called America’s "best idea" might someday be sold to the highest bidder seems blasphemous — unless, of course, you’ve never been (like most of the nation’s vacation-hobbled poor) or are in a position to make that buck.

Unintentionally assuaging that unfortunate final-future despoiling is new indie quasi-horror The Canyon, which asks the unmusical question: why, stupid humankind, did you ever think you belonged in wild country? "We don’t belong here," its hero realizes when camping misadventures have gone from rad to worse. Yeah, people should never intermingle with nature. That’s why we are born from robots, plastic afterbirth spilling into a soft cushion of Styrofoam curls then recycled into spin-off products for the Transformers films. "Soylent Green is PEEEEOPLE!!!" Actually that has no relevance here. Just thought I’d drop it in.

A first feature for director Richard Harrah and writer Steve Allrich, The Canyon falls firmly within that vacation-from-hell subgenre recently capped by the very clever, funny, and fairly freaky A Perfect Getaway. (None of which adjectives apply here, alas.) Other examples of late include the supernatural off-trail hazards of 2008’s The Ruins, several organ-harvesting horrors (2006’s Turistas), and numerous more films suggesting it’s best to stay the fuck home — this being a movie world, psychos and predators are everywhere.

The Canyon sports minor novelty in sticking to mainland U.S.A. terra firma, albeit a world-famous landmark — if a 227-mile long, 5.4-million-year-old, mile-deep gorge can be considered mere "landmark." Introduced in blandly nice/cute terms they never really recover from, swarthy Nick (Eion Bailey from HBO’s Band of Brothers) and perky blonde Lori (Yvonne Strahovski from NBC’s Chuck) are eloped newlyweds anticipating a mule-ride down to the Grand Canyon’s bottom that she’s not too keen on. She’s even less keen once it turns out Nick didn’t get the necessarily permits and their only option is signing on with "guide extraordinaire" Henry (Will Patton), whom they meet at a local bar and who doesn’t look so much a friend of nature as somebody freshly rolled in its excrement.

Nick’s enthusiasm wins out, though. It’s not spoiling too much to reveal that traveling with a slightly creepy guide fast proves better than having none at all, as one nasty incident leaves the trio sans mules, food, water, and worse. Things devolve from there, as our ill-skilled, mapless protagonists find themselves increasingly pressed for survival strategies. Stress (let alone inevitable stress-induced bickering) doesn’t reveal anything more interesting about our dull protagonists. But the eventual vigor with which body parts suffer and wild wolves inflict injury does juice this empty Canyon up, unpleasantly if more memorably. Do they deserve it?

Straining, the filmmakers suggest so. "You screw with Mother Nature, she’s gonna find a way to screw ya right back," Henry portentously intones — the message being that city folk have no business in the all-outdoors. Baby, please: the Sierra Club knows we get along just fine on those trails, leaving no carbon footprint besides.

THE CANYON opens Fri/30 in Bay Area theaters.

Do you remember?



hot vocals

everywhere I go

I get love from the locals — Mac Dre, "The Genie of the Lamp"

MUSIC "A mack is different from a pimp," Mac Mall tells me. "A pimp would starve without a woman. But a mack is a master of creativity. He can manipulate any situation."

As a "third-generation mack" from Vallejo’s notorious Crestside hood, Mac Mall knows whereof he speaks. "Mack" is an age-old term in the Bay, lending itself to the region’s premier blaxploitation film, The Mack (1973). Yet, Mall reveals, "There ain’t gonna be anymore rappers named ‘Mac’ out of the Crest" because the title has accrued too much tragedy. The very first rapper — in both the Crest and Vallejo itself — was the Mac, Michael Robinson, who was murdered in a case of mistaken identity in 1990. But the immediate catalyst for the name’s retirement was the murder of André Hicks, a.k.a. Mac Dre, who was gunned down Nov. 1, 2004 in Kansas City.

Five years later, Dre is more popular than ever, receiving the kind of universal love in the Bay generally reserved for 2pac. Images of Dre are so ubiquitous the lead single from Mall’s just-released Mac to the Future (Thizzlamic) is "Mac Dre T-Shirt."

"It’s the flag of the whole Bay," Mall says. "Even if you’s old, you know that face because you seen it everywhere. Dre’s part of our culture, like the Grateful Dead."

Yet Mall admits he and others among Dre’s Thizz Entertainment empire feel occasional ambivalence about Dre’s iconographic status. "I know we share him with the world," he says. "It be hard sometimes because he’s so us. He’s ours. But I opened my mind: even if they’ll never get it, there’s something like us they relate to in there, something everyone can grab onto."

Some of Dre’s appeal is, of course, obvious. Unlike many rappers, he had a gangsta authenticity, partly stemming from almost five years in prison for conspiracy to rob a bank (although he and his actual bank-robber friends — like rapper J-Diggs — insisted he was innocent). But far more important is his humor, expressed in unexpected metaphors ("get on a nigga’s head like some headphones"), goofy characters (Ronald Dregan, Thizzelle Washington), and a life-of-the-party attitude, even concocting his own dances (the Furley, the Thizzelle Dance). What other thug could rock cardigans and Burberry? With his lean, lanky frame and outrageous hairstyles, Dre was like a combination Snoop Dogg and Humpty Hump.

According to Mistah F.A.B., whose breakthrough disc Son of a Pimp (2005) came out on Thizz, Snoop himself is fan.

"Snoop was watching [Dre’s DVD] Treal TV (2003)," F.A.B. reports, "and was like, ‘That nigga’s a fool!’ When someone big as Snoop gives Dre the respect and love, that lets you know the ability he had."

"He wasn’t the average of what we produce," says Dre’s close friend and fellow Cutthroat Committee-member Dubai. "He excelled in the game like, left-wing, not how you’re used to someone doing it. The average motherfucker who do it like this is a weirdo, and this dude is cool as fuck. So it opened up motherfuckers. You can come through and be yourself."

All of Dre’s friends I spoke to brought up this same point. As Mac Mall put it, "He let people feel free. He went to the pen and could’ve been rappin about the hardest stuff, but he was more about having fun. Everyone gives you a façade, but Dre was a whole."

Mistah F.A.B. even links Dre’s wholeness to his penchant for characters. "They were all aspects of his personality," he says. "When you deal with truth, you have nothing to hide. You can keep moving forward by being yourself."

For the Jacka — who, as a member of the Mob Figaz, released the group’s Best of (2005) on Thizz — Dre’s integrity accounts for both his broad appeal and his positive influence. "He wasn’t ashamed to be who he was," Jacka recalls. "He was one way with everybody. But he knew how to talk to people of any race and showed us how to be around whites and Mexicans and be like, these dudes are cool too."

"He was like a Martin Luther King," Jacka says. "People might not understand what I mean by that, but if you were in the streets, you understand."

Whether or not Jacka’s claim seems excessive, it’s striking to see the actions taken in the name of Mac Dre. Among the labyrinthine divisions of Thizz Entertainment — such as Mall’s new Thizzlamic imprint — is Thizz Latin, an unprecedented alliance between black and Latino rappers, which, for a seemingly insular hood like Crestside, is most impressive. "I’m proud of what Thizz Latin is doing," Mac Mall says. "In L.A., the blacks and the Latins don’t get along. But in the Bay, we together."

Between that and the 2pac-like way in which his death brought a much needed fellow-feeling within the notoriously internecine environment of Bay rap, Dre has had a profound influence over the past five years. "I want the positive about Dre to be remembered," Jacka concludes. "For people to look past the hard part. He created ‘going dumb,’ but that’s not all he wanted to leave behind."

Ghostly hardware



MUSIC Be aware — from new albums by Cold Cave to reissues on Minimal Wave, neo-gothic strains are in the air. Take one listen to the debut album by Demdike Stare. ‘Tis the season of the witch, but the spells cast by the 11 tracks on Symbiosis (Modern Love) will last well past Halloween to contend on Top 10 lists. Mancunian pair Miles Whitaker and Sean Canty tap into the oft-latent creep factor of dub and the vast darkness of techno, incorporating metal and film scores into those genres’ expansive space to create a distinctively present haunted sound. Neo-goths tend to have better aesthetics than their forebears, and this is the case here, as Whitaker and Canty pay homage to a classic 1922 cult film on witchcraft ("Haxan Dub"; "Haxan") and name their group after 17th-century reputed witch Elizabeth Southerns. Symbiosis is not without humor, though, particularly on "Entwistle Hall" (where moaning gives way to a climactic shriek) and "Trapped Dervish," which sounds exactly like its title.

Canty of Demdike Stare’s day job is at Andy Votel’s Finders Keepers label, the renowned crate-digging — grave-robbing? — label that recently unearthed Dracula’s Music Cabinet by the Vampires of Dartmore. A kitschy pre-krautrock oddity, that album adds quantity if not quality to the growing shelves of library music celebrated by the likes of Jonny Trunk, whose Trunk label has brought back the soundtracks of films such as Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971) and the original Wicker Man (1973). Connections between incidental and soundtrack music of the past and electronic musicians of the present are further — and better — underlined by Terror and Prey, the first releases by Muscovitch Music, a new label established by Joel Martin, who, along with Matt Edwards of Radioslave, is half of the neo-exotica act Quiet Village. The standout of the pair of film soundtracks by Ivor Slaney, Terror favors cold wave minimal electronic flourishes over generic rock. Made in 1978, the movie itself stars Tricia Walsh, who recently had a renewed splash of fame as the bug-eyed "YouTube lady" ranting about her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s many infidelities.

Terror‘s director Norman J. Warren aimed to create a no-budget British answer to Dario Argento’s 1976 Italo horror vision Suspiria. The influence of Argento and his pet group Goblin hangs heavy over contemporary horror-tinged electronic music, from the solemn rock-oriented efforts of Pittsburgh duo Zombi to, most recently, the comedic Horror Disco (Bear Funk) by Bottin. Bottin taps into the fact that Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti was a top creator of Italo disco, and also crafts an Italian answer to the cult games of France’s Black Devil Disco Club.

Neo-goth and horror music is an international phenomenon, ranging from the Knife in Sweden and Bottin in Italy to the U.S., where Philadelphia’s Cold Cave resides. Cremations (Hospital Productions) compiles parched, nihilistic alienation odes from Wesley Eisold’s early EPs, such as "Sex Ads," but it’s Love Comes Close (Matador) — with ex-Xiu Xiu member Caralee McElwoy brought into the fold — that connects as Cold Cave’s crossover move, the type of recording that will bring the trend to the mainstream. Yet in invoking Sisters of Mercy, Cabaret Voltaire, and Pornography-era Cure, Love Comes Close is not alone this year: the criminally ignored Chatterton (Systematic) by American-expat-in-Germany Chelonis R. Jones did so back in the spring, while updating Goblin’s Suspiria death drums on "Rehabilitation."

Still, England may be the current ground zero for neo-goth and retro and contempo sounds of horror, thanks in part to Demdike Stare, and to Trunk, Finders Keepers, and other labels. The latest spectral proof is Broadcast and Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age (Warp). The Broadcast and Focus Group collaboration is a playful cousin of Symbiosis and a 21st-century musical answer to Bryan Forbes’ 1964 film Séance on a Wet Afternoon. Here, there, and everywhere, the ghosts aren’t just in the machine, they’re running it.

Son of the source


California my way: Pacifica in all her roaring glory; "Bluebird"; Gene Clark suffering for his art at the Troubadour; Arthur Lee perched atop Laurel Canyon as dark magus of the Sunset Strip; "Free Huey!"; George Hunter and the Charlatans giving birth to the ’60s in Frisco and Virginia City; redbones holding it down at Alcatraz; Barry White’s boudoir epics vs. War’s low rider country-funk; r.i.p. Nudie Cohn; surf-and-skate as spiritual practice and Third World coalition builder at street level; "We’ll Get By"; Mary Ellen Pleasants; Sly Stone’s pop hoodoo; "¡Viva Cesar Chavez!"; the Watts Towers as organic temple and pan-African signifier; Iron Eyes Cody; the impenetrable alien secrets of Joshua Tree; Citizen Kane; Country Joe McDonald in a helmet ripping "Section 43" at Monterey; Jack London’s and Charles Manson’s erudite racism; rebellions yielding the "black Woodstock," Wattstax; Skid Row tacos; alas, poor Ishi; is Mount Shasta really an Atlantean portal?; "Snakes on Everything"; RTX; a great big wave looming to wash away Neil Young and his spindly wood home from Topanga Canyon; Chet Helms, my hero; really tall red trees — and the glossy harmonies of the Mamas & the Papas, much beloved favorites of my mother before she left upon her starship. Their masterpiece "California Dreamin’" was on my mind as Indian summer gave way to autumn and the 40th anniversaries of polarized cosmic events such as the man on the moon, Woodstock, the Manson murders, the late Michael Jackson’s pop debut unfolded apace.

Harvey Kubernik, a keenly clued-in and cosmically sensitive Pisces born in Hollywood, just dropped this season’s key entry chronicling that era and its ever-lingering aftereffects: the fine Laurel Canyon study Canyon of Dreams (Sterling, 384 pages, $29.95). Much of what made California north and south such a prime destination to escape the limits and cruel lacunae of Manifest Destiny in the 1960s went down in the postwar boomtowns of San Francisco and Los Angeles and their ex-urban satellites. Kubernik focuses on the tall tales of L.A . He reveals how the creativity, social experimentation, and mystery yearning of the denizens of canyons on L.A.’s west side changed America as it was teleported on the airwaves and on the backs of freaky-deak human hosts. The elite and cult acts that largely power Kubernik’s fables — Gene Clark; Arthurly; Gram Parsons; Lowell George; John and Michelle Phillips; the magicians of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young — have left towering sonic, sartorial, and spiritual legacies. Yet Kubernik is not mired in the misty mountain-hopping of yesteryear — he’s keen enough to close Canyon of Dreams with a portrait of one of that halcyon era’s most important heirs: Jonathan Wilson.

Y’all can ken whether Wilson deserves to be the coda of Kubernik’s book when his Emerald Triangle Tour featuring Jonathan Rice, Farmer Dave Scher, and local light Andy Cabic rolls into town. Yet the evidence is there in his extant albums — 1998’s The Ballad of Hope Nicholls (by his former band, North Carolina’s Muscadine); 2007’s Frankie Ray, and 2008’s Gentle Spirit — and his myriad contributions to the projects of friends. I can hear, see, and most important, feel some measure of all that makes California utopian, the South home, and America an ideal worth fighting for, despite their respective horrors, in Wilson’s music.

New York, N.Y., with its epic filth, noise, and madding crowds, was not so kind to Wilson when he made the inevitable leap from North Cackalack. Still, he excavated a great artifact of the artist-as-young-man from the experience: Frankie Ray. With the move to California, that recording’s odes to heartbreak and alienation gave way to shimmering hymns to nature arrayed across no less than four unreleased song cycles and counting. Gentle Spirit simply displays Wilson as revelation, but it was his cover of an innocuous Madonna hit (first offered to Michael Jackson) from the mid-1980s that truly convinced me of his indelible gifts. He transfigures "La Isla Bonita" beyond recognition — it starts out as an Allman Brothers outtake and slowly, steadily evolves into a 3-D spaghetti western, then a metallic, mountain-ringing treatise of electric guitar evangelism. His forthcoming covers album, I’m Covered, OK?, should make plain the wonders of his rare gift for interpretation.

To quote the once-mighty Pointer Sisters as they backed Wilson’s fellow underrated North Carolina maverick Betty Davis: "Y’all got to believe, believe in sumthin’ … Why not believe in me?" This grandbaby of a Southern Baptist preacher from southwest Georgia would never steer your ears or asses wrong. I was once accused by a former editor of dancing around my keyboard as I wrote (and what’s wrong with that?). I don’t; I have "spells" like Harriet Tubman, like Joseph Smith in the upstate New York woods, or Edgar Cayce’s automatic writing — as with this piece. Yes, I want to convert you, get you onboard the underground smellroad to Glory. I follow the Spirit and my black ass — and the loose booty’s hollerin’: make pilgrimage with Jonathan Wilson and ‘nem up the coast if you’re magical and mystical friends of the road.


Mon/2, 8 p.m. (doors at 7:30 p.m.), $15

The Independent

628 Divisadero, SF


Serene velocity



MUSIC Blues Control is an instrumental rock band, but don’t hold that against them. The extended compositions and caterwauling guitars and keyboards may suggest post-rock bloat, but unlike many of their voiceless brethren, the duo knows that freedom is found in limits. Their crafty deployment of prerecorded loops and particularized live effects has etched a signature sound that’s at once distinct and nostalgic. They’re one of those mood ring groups that summons a whole lineage of avant-garde rock without exactly adhering to any one dominant influence. Pretty good, considering it started as a lark: needing an alter ego to protect their collaboration as Watersports from overexposure, Russ Waterhouse and Lea Cho fabricated Blues Control. Both projects were born under the sign of kosmische, but the newer songs refocused the drone zone with coaguutf8g tape loops and surprisingly friendly melodies. Hype soon followed.

If the duo’s name comes off as an unfortunate nod to the many non-black blues units over the years (whether Breakers or Brothers, a Project or an Explosion), the smirk stops there. You can find any iteration of psych-rock in their origami structures, but Blues Control is always playing itself. When I talk with Waterhouse on the phone from Ithaca, N.Y., where he and Cho are on tour, he discusses his aversion to the hollow games of genre signification that were in vogue in the 1990s — a significant disclaimer, since their most recent release, Local Flavor (Siltbreeze), is their most ranging yet.

"The basic principles and methods of working have basically remained the same since the beginning," says Waterhouse, but Local Flavor benefits from new attention to texture and sequencing. The quartet of songs traverses carefully arranged prog-rock ("Good Morning"), Coltrane-colored mystical jazz ("Rest on Water"), a prismatic dance groove ("Tangier"), and a Bitches Brew-worthy cauldron of ethereal tones, dubby sidesteps and angry guitar ("On Through the Night").

These different encounters with psychedelia are nested within disarmingly crude nuclei of borrowed rhythms and spectral melodies. Throughout, the distinct processes of jamming and collage are placed in productive conversation. It’s drug music without the inflated ego, a structuralist take on the basic rock furniture. When the core heats up, as on "Tangiers," Blues Control is close to perfect. Beginning with a breathy Casio loop, everything about the eight-minute track is percussive. A mashed, pulmonary beat hugs the centrifugal melody, while guitar and keyboard flares illuminate the elastic membrane stretching the song’s surface. Halfway through, after several exuberant plateaus, the rhythm scatters into double and triple-timed graininess, and the Michael Rother-like vapor trails spiral into their own repeating figures. Moment-to-moment, the composition seems unchanging and mantra-like; skipping around reveals a remarkable, covert movement.

Not all of Local Flavor burns so bright. The horn-laden riffage concluding "Good Morning" is particularly Phishy, but it’s a small misstep next to the dreamy gorgeousness of a track like "Paul’s Winter Solstice," from last year’s Christmas single for Sub Pop. I’ll leave it to the historiographers to explain why so many of the most interesting interpretations of rock music have come from duos over the last decade, but Blues Control undoubtedly figures into the argument for a mobile, minimalist muse.

"With this tour, we’re trying to follow through on some opportunities," Waterhouse explains. "A lot of people have told us we should come out to California because we would do well out there." The duo recently relocated from Queens, N.Y., to Virginia, but the people who recommended California were right on: with a group so equitably split between blissed-out drones and garage tactility, how could San Francisco not swoon? *


With Hank IV and Celine Dion

Thurs/5, 9 p.m., $7

Hemlock Tavern

1131 Polk, SF.


With Sic Alps and Jaws

Fri/6, 9 p.m., $5–$10

Continental Club

1658 12th St., Oakl.

(510) 444-9000

Foxy lady


A Hu-Li appears to be your run-of-the-mill lascivious 15-year-old prostitute in modern Russia. She does all the things professionals who cater to the discerning international pedophile do. What are those things? Well, she posts ads on the Internet that read:

"A FAIRY TALE CUM TRUE: Small breasts for big money. A little ginger kitten is waiting for a call from a well-to-do stranger. Classic sex and royal head, anal, petting, bondage, whipping (including the Russian knout), foot fetish, strap-on, sakura branch, lesbo, oral, anal stimulation, cunnilingus (including compulsory), role-swapping, two-way, gold and silver rain, fisting, piercing, catheter, copro, enema, gentle and heavy domination, Mistress and Slave girl services. Face control … Almost everything. Shag me and forget! If you can …

In other words, A Hu-Li flagellates the middle-aged intelligentsia who answer her siren’s call. She likes riding her bike, loves Nabokov, and is still a bit hung up about being a virgin. Pretty typical right?

How about this? A Hu Li is a 2,000-year-old, shape-shifting werefox from ancient China who uses her bushy tail to hypnotize men and absorb their life force. That grab ya? The title of Victor Pelevin’s latest is The Sacred Book of the Werewolf, the increasingly intriguing A-Hu Li is our narrator, and the book has little to do with anything I’ve just written. A Hu-Li is a member of a race of werefoxes who appear to be 15-year-old girls, when they are in fact neither. They cannot die; do not bathe; and never need to eat food, as long as they can feed on the sexual energy of the "naked apes" they have been doomed to interact with for seemingly all eternity. Their tails enable them to sap the energy of their prey while convincing them that they are fulfilling their greatest sexual fantasies. As such, they gravitate toward sex work, and have since time immemorial. Naturally, thousands of years doing the same thing as civilizations rise and fall can leave an immortal netherworld creature cynical and with a lot of time on her hands. Our narrator fills it by seeking enlightenment. Might as well.

Until she meets Alexander, that is, a Wagner-addicted werewolf who ranks high in the Russian Secret Service. What follows is one of the most hilarious and horrific courtships to come out of the former bloc. But guess what? The Sacred Book of the Werewolf isn’t about that, either.

Victor Pelevin may be a literary genius. He is definitely a tricky malcontent. He has written one of the most spiritually satisfying novels ever about wily werefoxes, interspecies sex, kleptocracy, and the joys of methamphetamines. In fewer than 400 pages, he manages touch on the finer points of sages from Nietzsche to Lao Tzu as A-Hu Li and Alexander seek the highest state of their kind … super werewolf. Sound silly? That’s because it is. It’s also pretentious, perverse, puerile, and exasperating. Yet none of that stops it from saving your sullied soul. Sticky fur and a dash of satori — what more could you ask for on Halloween … candy?

Anti-doofus agenda



LIT/MUSIC With influences ranging from the Cuban Revolution and Malcolm X to musical orishas such as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, and Sun Ra, Amiri Baraka is renowned as the founder of the Black Arts Movement in Harlem in the 1960s that became, though short-lived, the virtual blueprint for a new American theater aesthetic. The movement and his published work — such as 1963’s signature study on African American music Blues People and the same year’s play Dutchman — practically seeded "the cultural corollary to black nationalism" of that revolutionary American milieu.

Baraka lives in Newark, N.J., with his wife and author Amina Baraka; they have five children and head the word-music ensemble Blue Ark: The Word Ship and co-direct Kimako’s Blues People, an art space housed in their theater basement for some 15 years. I spoke with him on the eve of an upcoming visit.

SFBG What brings you to the Bay Area this time around?

AMIRI BARAKA We’re doing two sets at Yoshi’s with Howard Wiley. Those are the kinds of musical things we have a nice time doing. I hope to bring the poetry and music to Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. And I’m giving a talk at the library.

SFBG What will you be discussing?

AB Obama and his first 10 months, based on an essay I wrote a few months ago called "We’re Already in the Future." I support Obama and I think that the people who supported him initially should keep supporting him because they are forgetting the huge difficulty he faces. This society, they don’t want any kind of change. They do not want him, first of all. Only 43 percent of the white people even voted for him, and a lot those people resent the fact that white America is now mulatto. That election proved that it’s not white America, it’s multinational America, so they’ve set up this roadblock to almost anything he does.

Anytime you can, you see how doofus Americans are, to oppose their own quality of life improvement, their own health care. They’d rather mope along with little health care or none simply because the corporations have convinced them it’s bad for them — it shows you that we have a real education gap in America. Not to mention the racism, which is behind a lot of it, big time.

The people who support Obama need to stand together to fight the right wing. It’s the right wing that is the enemy. Those huge corporations including those mouthpieces they have. The media is just absurd, with [Sean] Hannity, [Bill] O’Reilly, [Glenn] Beck, Rush Limbaugh. These guys are just too much. If they’re not racist, there is no such thing as racism.

SFBG I know that you spent some time in SF. What are your impressions of our city?

AB I was a visiting professor at San Francisco State for about three or four months, that was the extent of my residency. I like San Francisco. I’m drawn to the vibe there. The last time I was in San Francisco, I was reading at Ferlinghetti’s bookstore [City Lights]. Most of my stuff is in Oakland, but whenever I’m in Oakland, I stop by San Francisco.

Seems to me that San Francisco is very expensive, like New York. I live in Newark, N.J., which is 12 miles outside of New York City — it’s got that Oakland-San Francisco relationship. When you’re dealing with New York, you have that high-rent district all the way around. San Francisco is a beautiful city, but going there and being there are two different things.

SFBG Happy birthday. I know you just turned 75. Any wisdom to impart from three-quarters of a century?

AB I’ve been 75 for about five days. I can say that you really need to take care of yourself. That’s the cliché: "If I knew I was going be this old, I would have taken better care of myself," but it’s some better wisdom than what you hear generally.

SFBG You coined the term "Afrosurreal Expressionism." Can you share your definition?

AB If you know the African tales or even African writers and African cultures, then you know they understand the concept of having relationships reversed, which exposes new concepts and dimensions. They understood the power of the conscious and unconscious mind to change the dimensions of the world. The various forces of nature that people developed, that people saw as gods, these elemental forces: the wind, the water, the sun, the moon. They understood how human beings interrelate to those forces. Henry Dumas’ work dealt with these changing dimensions, and people who do strange things in realistic situations. It was Surrealism that changed the relationship to things. Dumas influenced Toni Morrison, who was his editor at Random House. He was a strong writer and he went out of here in a tragic way, being murdered by the police. His stories and poems are Afrosurreal, with African psychology imposing these dimensions on reality.

SFBG What is the role of the artist in the current climate, and what are the tools we can use to bring about social change?

AB The way things work: cause and effect, action and reaction. The ’60s and the ’70s were a period of intense struggle. The Black Arts Movement and the antiimperialist movement laid the foundation to get Obama elected. But then you get a reaction, and it has been quite evident. Imperialist commerce has taken over the arts. Once we were struggling to get black movies made — now we see what kinds of movies are being made by black people, and they are very backward. Act, react. We have to struggle anew to do something about these backwards elements.

Black people have 27 cities: we need 27 theaters, 27 galleries, 27 periodicals. We need to have poets, rappers, painters, actors struggling to raise the consciousness of the people. That is the role of the artist. Black people still live in these ghettos and these ‘hoods. There may be more of a black middle-class, but they often are the ones helping to keep us duped and bamboozled. This is a struggle that has to be. This is reality — like they say, "Keep it real." This is a struggle that has to be.


Nov. 9, 8 p.m., $16–$20

Yoshi’s San Francisco

1330 Fillmore, SF


Global informing



DANCE For too many years ethnic dance, traditional dance, folk dance, culturally-specific dance — whatever label you stick on it — has been a stepchild on American stages. Considered of little interest to observers beyond the cultural groups in which its practitioners were based, general audiences admired its colorfulness and derided its lack of innovation. Yet with increased exposure, traditional dance forms have become more respected and have done their part to make the world more of a global village.

With the art form less under siege, stirrings have been coming from within the genre by dancers pushing at the traditions’ parameters. It’s a worldwide phenomenon. In the mid-1990s flamenco dancer Joaquín Cortés bared his chest and started performing to pop and jazz. Purists shuddered when Kathak dancer Akram Khan started to integrate modern dance practices into his performances. At the SF Ethnic Dance Festival this year, winds of change can also be felt at the venerable Ethnic Dance Festival. This year Los Lupeños de San José, one of the Bay Area’s oldest Mexican companies, performed a hot mambo with the women in anything but long flouncy skirts, and Indonesian dancer Sri Susilowati’s mourning dance was full of contemporary accents.

Traditional dancers who want to rethink conventions often feel homeless because they don’t fit into any established performance categories. That’s where Performing Diaspora steps in. CounterPULSE’s two-year initiative culminates in three weeks of performances starting November 5.

Debbie Smith, cultural program coordinator at the Arab Cultural and Community Center, is one of the three curators who chose 13 artists from the more than 60 who applied from throughout California. As "a little white girl from Texas" (as she calls herself) who speaks Arabic and is trained in Egyptian folk dance, she has learned to live with the sensitivities that surround fears about dilution of content and about perceptions of being less than respectful to well-defined art forms.

Since Performing Diaspora is the first festival of its kind, the curators had to feel their way into this new arena. It was a delicate process because "the need for support in dance is so great," Smith explains. "We did not know what we would get, though we were looking for artists who served traditions without wanting to be confined by them."

What the Festival got were artists like Charlotte Moraga, the primary dancer of the Chitresh Das Dance Company. Twenty years ago at San Francisco State University, the jazz dancer from Florida stumbled into her first Kathak class when the jazz class she wanted was full. The festival also got Devendra Sharma from Fresno, who learned Nautanki, a traditional folk music theater style from northern India, from his father.

At a recent work-in-progress showing, Moraga’s A Conference in Nine, based on a Sufi poem, A Conference of Birds, was performed with jazz, North Indian, and South Indian musicians. It looked as traditional and contemporary as you would want. The same was true for Sharma’s Mission Suhani, a reinterpretation of one spunky woman’s refusal to be cheated out of her dowry.

Almost half Performing Diaspora’s lineup hails from beyond the Bay Area, with artists who have made rethinking traditions a core element of their work, and those who only recently entered this wobbly territory. But the most unexpected participant in Performance Diaspora is a local: Kunst-Stoff’s Yannis Adoniou, best known for his ballet-based postmodernism. He will present Rembetiko, a work-in-progress based on the underground culture of Greeks who returned from abroad at the turn of the 20th century. "My uncle was a rembetiko musician", Adoniou says. "I used to dance to his music when I was five."

Performing Diaspora

Nov 5-22 (Thurs-Sat, 8 p.m.), $15–$25

CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF

(415) 626-2060, www.counterpulse.org

What if …



CHEAP EATS Surreally, I find myself a student at Kennesaw State University north of Atlanta. It’s weird. Not the least because I am not really of course a student. I’m a guest of the university. Technically I’m a guest of a guest of the university.

Romea is the rock star. I’m a tag-alonger, which suits me. Turns out I am good at tagging along. Sometimes I even say things. For example, I have managed to interject the word "barbecue" into several cuisiney conversations, and while they acknowledge it exists, days pass before anyone offers to take us to it. Liberal academic smarty-pantses in the South (or at least here) associate barbecue with Republicans, I find, and therefore don’t want any, at worse, or at best consider it a guilty pleasure. To which I say … well, to which I am speechless, actually.

Being a hanger-onner, I hang on, biding my time in respectful silence and tiding myself over (to the amusement of our hostess) with fried chicken wings from the grocery store deli. Next week in North Carolina, I know, I will have my way. My way = pulled pork and sweet tea.

Speaking of sweet, Romea and me are so increasingly insanely in-lovingly besmoldered of each other, I don’t think we can at this point bear to be apart. There are physical symptoms. And it’s so great to be so in love with a writer, but so strange to not be able to read her novels. Not to mention her short stories. One of which I have heard her read now twice, and I’ve read it on paper, and am just now beginning to get an inkling of what happens.

I know I’m going to be fluent in German one day, but …

I mean, I feel certain about Romea. About us. I have never been more sure of anything, but …

Well, her love poems to me she has the decency to write in English, at least, and with all the possible objectivity in the world I can say that they are wonderful, but …

You know, it could take decades. I could be old, and about to die happy, in love and in German, as I imagine, before I can really really read one of her novels, and …

I mean, not that it could possibly matter … not that in fact it isn’t half the fun of it, not knowing, but what if … what if I ultimately only then find out that I find her prose slightly somewhat stilted? Or something. I’m just asking.

This afternoon Romea rocks the Goethe Institute in Atlanta. This morning, against the worst odds ever, we sit side by side on our comfy bed in the cozy attic apartment of KSU’s International House, her practicing today’s reading aloud, in German, me trying to write in English, and about 20 guys in work boots walking with Southern accents on our heads, sliding ladders, scraping shingles, hammering roof nails, staple-gunning … Outside our window, on the lawn, there’s a generator, a table saw, and a 100 percent chance of rain. Thunderstorms, actually. I can’t wait. It’s going to seem so quiet, so calm, ka-boom.

I’ve danced to a lot of things in my day, but can’t quite pick the beat out of this one. Still, I have something to say. It’s just going to be hard to understand me over all this racket. One day in Berkeley, I said ONE DAY IN BERKELEY when Vik Wholesale was closed, I mused with the Maze at India Chaat & Sweets over curry goat. Curry goat! Well, goat curry, technically, is what they call it there. And it’s $12.99. Almost all their stuff is more than $10, which would explain why no one else was eating there.

Oh, but it was so quiet. I could hear the Maze’s musings, and he could hear mine, and neither of us had to raise our voice, as I recall. In fact we kind of whispered.

And the curry goat curry was great. But really, why anyone would want to eat there except in an emergency (i.e. Vik’s is closed) … is far, far beyond me.


Mon., Wed.–Fri., 11:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m, 4:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m.

Sat., 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m.; Sun., 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m.

824 University, Berk.

(510) 704-1200

Beer & wine


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

Fat lot of good



Dear Andrea:

I have a feeling this is not the best way to get a sympathetic response from you, but it’ a real problem for me and I like your advice, so I thought I might as well give it a try. Here goes.

My boyfriend and I have been together eight years. I can’t say I’m as cute now as I used to be, but I’m OK. "Brian," on the other hand, has gained weight every year due to a desk job and, I guess, just normal metabolism stuff. By now, he’s actually fat. And I just don’t feel attracted the way I used to. I still love him, but I’m really not feeling it in the sex department. Do I try to get him to lose weight, or just put up with a no-sex partnership (forever?), or try to find someone I do have the hots for? Help!


Size Matters

Dear Size:

Before we even consider getting into the hopelessness of pinning your future on weight loss — yours or anyone else’s — let’s talk about relationships at the seven- or eight-year mark. This is not, generally speaking, a high point. So common is the "seven-year itch" that sociobiologists have attempted to explain it, alleging that it takes seven years for a man-cub to achieve enough independence to survive without two parents regularly provisioning it. Thus, the hormonal glue that holds a couple together need last no longer than that. And it doesn’t. There are several obvious holes in this theory (it takes longer than seven years to conceive and rear a child to the age of seven; couples historically would have had more than one child, etc.) Plus, the most compelling recent research makes a strong argument against the nuclear family as the essential unit of protohuman and early human society. (See Sarah Blaffer Hrdy’s Mothers And Others [Belknap, 2009], where she demonstrates, very persuasively, that it takes a village — and always has.)

But we don’t need sociobiology to convince us that relationships often beach themselves on the rocky shoals of not-quite-a-decade together. Six or seven or eight years out, the very last of the initial biochemical rush we call "falling in love" has finally dissipated. Real life is in ascendance. And real life is nowhere near as much fun. Six-seven-eight years is also enough time for individual priorities to deviate from the original, couple-led mandate, which was basically "be together as much as possible and have lots and lots of sex." Careers, families or origin, children yea or nay or present, all conspire to pull you apart unless you make all possible effort to cleave unto each other. Have you done enough cleaving?

You can blame the wad of adipose tissue that has attached itself to your beloved’s abdomen (and I’m not saying the wad does not bear some responsibility here), but I don’t think it’s the whole story. Are you sure you do?

Now: his fat. I don’t have to tell you that he has probably noticed it himself, correct? That your pointing it out is not going to come as some great revelation? So either he does not wish to "do anything" about it; has tried, and, like nearly everyone who attempts to diet off excess poundage, has succeeded only in making himself miserable and possibly fatter; or he will take on the project in his own good time. In any event, nagging him, shaming him, even attempting to inspire him ("We’ll go running together!") are all pretty much doomed to fail. Fail you, that is. He may lose the weight. He may not. But it is his fat, his body, his life, and, well, your problem. Sorry.

I was recently reading over at Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose (kateharding.net) and if you, that is the collective "you," not, you know, you, haven’t read her, you probably should. She and her co-bloggers have the sharpest and funniest take out there on the "obesity epidemic," misogyny, feminism, and fat. Kate also recently answered this question, and she isn’t even an advice columnist. She was just fed up with the way people who are advice columnists have historically bungled it.

Dear Not Attracted to Your Spouse Anymore (writes Kate):

Get over it or get a fucking divorce. And I truly mean you should consider both options seriously. If you believe it is actually possible for you to get over it — by which I mean, you find a way to reframe the way you look at your fat partner, find him attractive again, and go back to whatever you both agree is a normal sex life — then by all means, work on that (provided everything else in the marriage is good and worth saving, which it probably isn’t if you’re not even a little bit attracted to him anymore).

If, however, you’re so hung up on your partner’s weight that you can’t even conceive of being attracted to him anymore? Get a fucking divorce already. (Writes Kate, who is not an advice columnist.)

Hear hear, say I, who am.



Poor turnout



The Guinness World Record for the largest mobilization of human beings was recently broken when 173 million people demanded that their governments eradicate extreme poverty around the world. But U.S. media barely noted the call and San Francisco’s event had low attendance, suggesting an uphill struggle for the cause in the world’s richest nation.

Millions gathered at more than 3,000 Stand Up, Take Action events in 120 countries Oct. 16-18 in an attempt to put pressure on governments to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, but less than 30 people gathered on the steps of San Francisco City Hall to support the movement.

Sup. John Avalos was one of the speakers at the event, organized by a coalition of local activist groups and student volunteers. Admitting that he was "expecting it to be a little bigger," Avalos said the event was just the start of what needed to be a much larger movement by the American people.

"There is a strange phenomenon occurring at the moment. It’s as if people are a little bit asleep about the need to be active," Avalos told the Guardian. "Because we have an administration they view as being more supportive of human rights and economic and social justice, people are being lulled into thinking things will just get better."

Standing just a short walk away from the birth place of the United Nations, Avalos bought attention in his speech to the rich history San Francisco has in mobilizing social change. "We do the best to live up to it, but we have a long way to go. Around the world this is the time to uproot poverty — we try to provide a safety net, but it could be stronger."

The Stand Up, Take Action, End Poverty Now! campaign is in its fourth year and is organized by the UN Millennium Campaign in an attempt to raise awareness of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a series of benchmarks designed to eradicate global poverty.

At the United Nations Millennium Development Summit in 2000, 189 world leaders promised to "end poverty by 2015." The eight goals include eliminating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) has authored or coauthored every major piece of legislation dealing with global HIV/AIDS issues since she was elected to Congress. She told the Guardian that MDGs must be placed in context with poverty in America. "Sometimes people argue that we must look after our own first, but my position is that if you look at the eight Millennium goals, they all apply to our own country too," Lee said. "Look at the plight of people who are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS in our country — especially in African American and Latino communities.

"With the economic downturn, poverty rates in America are soaring, putting more people into circumstances the MDGs focus on outside of America," she continued. "I think it really is important to make those connections."

Lee compared the foreclosure crisis and lack of regulation in the financial markets over the last eight to 10 years to the "wild West" and calls America’s 47 million uninsured a "moral disgrace."

"It is about priorities and political will, and this will be determined by the voices of people saying it must be done," she said. "People have to push for these changes and remember that it didn’t just stop with the election. We have to raise awareness while at the same time working on changing policy. Otherwise we can get stuck debating issues and not doing the work that has to be done to change these very deplorable conditions."

Sup. David Campos was the only other supervisor to speak at the Civic Center event. He said he is committed to the fight against global poverty and wants to see the government represent the values San Francisco was founded on.

"We need to shed light and bring attention to one of the largest issues facing the world today — severe poverty," Campos said. "I really believe that as a city, as a state, and as a country, we not only need to make sure we push the U.S. to follow the lead of other countries, but actually become a leader in making these Millennium goals a reality."

After the event, Campos told the Guardian: "It doesn’t surprise me that more people didn’t show up to the event. But part of the task is to spread the word. San Francisco has been a leader in a number of these issues in the past, and I think we should play a key role in this one."

Campos said that one solution might be to put forward a resolution before the Board of Supervisors to support MDGs and have the city take a formal position on it.

"It is definitely something we are talking about to demonstrate San Francisco’s commitment to the issue," he said. "A lot of people don’t know about the goals, or the fact that the U.S. hasn’t really made them a priority. We need to spread the word and let people know this kind of a movement is only going to be a success if people take it upon themselves to play a leadership role."

Brian Webster, a volunteer who organized the SF event, drew attention to the large number of supporters for the MDGs in California. More than 250,000 people have signed up for the One Campaign, a global NGO that partnered with the U.N. Millennium Campaign in the events.

"For campaigners, it is now a matter of trying to join together and identify vast strategies to communicate what needs to be done," Webster said. "We will continue to educate communities, politicians, and civic leaders in what can be done this month, in the next six months, and ultimately, in the next six years."

While the Bush administration rarely mentioned MDGs while in office, many activists believe President Barack Obama’s public recognition of the goals at a recent U.N. summit demonstrates a change in American policy.

"In other countries, there has been more education and awareness about the goals. But here in America, it is almost like we are starting eight years late," said Anita Sharma, the North American director for the U.N. Millennium Campaign. "President Obama has said that the MDGs are American goals and has even talked about his plans for achieving them."

Also, despite the low numbers at the San Francisco event, Sharma says more than 190,000 people from North America participated in last weekend’s campaign, an increase of more than 70,000 from last year’s attempt.

"It’s not like Americans don’t care about global poverty — in fact we give more in charitable contributions than any other country in the world," she said. "It just takes quite a lot to get Americans into the streets and mobilized. There needs to be more education out there, that’s all."

Ananya Roy, a UC Berkeley professor of city and regional planning and education director of the Blum Center for Developing Economies, says she doesn’t think MDGs can be achieved worldwide by 2015. Even so, she stressed the important role they played in the framework of development.

Speaking at UC Berkeley’s Stand Up and Take Action Event, she said: "The goals are important because they are seen as a new global social contract that makes issues of poverty and inequality quite urgent. They also come with measurements and targets, which is meant to create accountability."

Roy placed particular emphasis on the eighth goal: building a global partnership for development. She noted that that increased awareness can change the ways the U.S. and European governments operate in terms of aid and trade.

"This multilateral contract requires more than simply the action and leadership of the U.S. and Western Europe," she said. "We need to think about poverty and inequality that is immediately around us, understand how we are involved in the production of depravity, and then we must act in solidarity.

"We need to be thinking about poverty as it exits here in the U.S. and not just as an abstract problem that belongs to someplace else," she added. "It is also our problem."

According to a 2009 U.N. report, progress toward achieving the MDGs has been slow in some cases and certain achievements have been reversed by the economic downturn. The report estimates that there will be 55 million to 90 million more people living in extreme poverty than anticipated before the crisis.

For Chandler Smith, media coordinator for the One Campaign — which campaigns for better development policies and more effective aid and trade reform — the Guinness certification marks progress toward achieving the MDGs. "That this year is breaking another world record speaks to the power of people to organize around the world, shows that we are a global community, and that there is a sustainability in the movement," he said.

"As for the North American aspect, we are always trying to educate people more about these issues. Our results show that a lot of our work has been done — but that we also have more work to do."

Sanctuary showdown



City Hall echoed with delighted whoops of Si se puede! last week, as a veto-proof majority of the Board of Supervisors voted to give juvenile immigrants their day in court before referring them to federal immigration authorities.

But the battle over the civil rights of immigrant kids is far from over, as Mayor Gavin Newsom, Police Chief George Gascón and U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello all insist that they will ignore or defy the city ordinance.

That puts the city in a strange legal position: the supervisors have passed a law that the mayor won’t implement — so it’s not clear what will happen next.

But here’s what is clear — and alarming: under Newsom’s policy, which the sanctuary legislation by Sup. David Campos would overturn, large numbers of immigrant kids are facing possible deportation. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson Virginia Kice told the Guardian that 150 juveniles from San Francisco have been referred to ICE since June 11, 2008 when Newsom began requiring that the city’s probation officials refer youth to ICE on arrest.Of those, 114 have come into federal custody (and may be facing deportation). Campos, who came to this country from Guatemala as an undocumented teen, said his legislation is a "balanced response" to the shift in sanctuary policy

Under Newsom’s policy, city probation officials are required to refer juveniles booked on a felony and appear undocumented to ICE at the time of arrest.

But under Campos’ amendment, ICE referral would not occur unless a juvenile justice court finds the youth guilty as charged.

Mayoral spokesperson Nathan Ballard short-circuited the immigrant community’s hopes for due process by announcing that Newsom simply plans to ignore Campos’ legislation.

"The Campos bill isn’t worth the paper it’s written on — it’s unenforceable and he knows that," Ballard told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Campos says that’s nonsense. "The whole point of having a sanctuary ordinance is that we choose not to be in the business of federal immigration enforcement," Campos said. "We are not an arm of ICE."

In a phone interview, Russoniello told the Guardian that Newsom’s policy accords juveniles due process at the federal level, and that federal immigration authorities are not interested in going after people who are obeying laws or are simply out of status.

"Our focus is guns, gangs, and drugs," Russoniello said. "But people who are detained should have no expectation that they will not be deported."

In other words, kids who are arrested on felony charges — who may not be guilty — could be deported anyway.

"Juvenile Probation Department alerts ICE when an individual comes in that they believe may be a deportable juvenile alien," Kice said. "We dispatch an officer to interview the juvenile, elicit biographical information, and do background checks to see if they have a legal basis for being in the country."

So where are the kids Newsom has turned over in the past year? Hard to say. Kice said the federal Human and Health Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement is responsible for ensuring that kids receive appropriate care and protection. "We no longer deal with the custody issues related to juvenile cases," Kice added.

Russoniello said he doesn’t know the whereabouts of the 114 juveniles placed in federal custody since Newsom’s policy took effect in June 2008, but dismissed such concerns as "pretextual."

"Before June 2008, the city’s pretext for sending [Honduran teenagers] back home was to reunite them with their family. Now the complaints are they are being ripped away from their families," he said. "The Campos legislation is mute, it’s irrelevant, and it’s contrary to federal law, and I think the mayor and the chief of police both agree."

Chief Gascón, concerned about the lack of due process and kangaroo courts at the federal level that he experienced as police chief in Mesa, Ariz,, recently told the Guardian he hoped to see Campos and Newsom find a compromise.

Gascón, who was appointed by the mayor, now says he believes Newsom’s hands are tied because of federal laws. "I don’t think the mayor has a choice," Gascón told the Chronicle.

But Sheriff Mike Hennessey, whom ICE pressured to amend his department’s policy toward immigrant detainees last year, thinks the Campos amendment is reasonable. "I don’t think we want to be reporting people who aren’t worthy of prosecution," Hennessey said. "Federal law says that if a probation officer violated the Campos’ amendment, they could not be penalized, under federal law," Hennessey explained. "That’s different from saying they are mandated to report juveniles to the federal authorities."

Juvenile Probation Department Chief William Siffermann told the Guardian that his agency "will continue to discharge its duties and responsibilities in a manner that conforms with all laws and await the outcome of the San Francisco legislative process."

"At the conclusion of that, we will confer with the city attorney and outside legal counsel around any impacts this would have on existing protocols."

Chop from the top



At the Oct. 23 groundbreaking ceremony for the rebuild of San Francisco General Hospital, Mayor Gavin Newsom sang the praises of the public hospital’s staff.

"To all the men and women who work in this remarkable place that changes people’s lives each and every day … every time I come here, I realize you’re not just saving patients, you’re taking care of families," the mayor said. "It’s so difficult to see someone in pain. But to see the smile and the pride their loved ones have because of the job you guys have done is something magical."

Yet some health care workers, marked by their signature purple and yellow T-shirts, clearly weren’t feeling the magic. As Newsom waxed poetic onstage, they stood clustered in the audience displaying a banner proclaiming, "Keep Public Health Healthy." It was meant as a reminder that SEIU Local 1021, the union that represents certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and clerical workers facing significant slashes in pay in the wake of a city budget cuts, is still pushing to have their salaries restored.

On Sept. 15, 500 CNAs and clerical workers received notice that they would be laid off, although some would be reclassified at lower-paying positions, effective Nov. 15. For the CNAs being demoted, the reductions amount to an average of $15,000 annual reduction in pay. For the clerical workers facing downgrades, the cuts reflect an average loss of $5,000.

It wasn’t the first time SEIU workers turned out at one of Newsom’s public appearances. Beginning in August, union members began vocally characterizing the layoffs and demotions as a civil ights issue because they disproportionately affect women and people of color. According to a Department of Public Health assessment, 96 percent of the affected employees are people of color and 79 percent are women.

Mayoral Chief of Staff Steve Kawa insisted this wasn’t an attack on the city’s comparable-worth policy, which guarantees equal pay for work done primarily by women. "We would not do anything against comparable worth, " Kawa told the Guardian. "Even with the change in status in the wage, these workers will be making 18 percent above market."

But Sup. John Avalos framed it differently. "These people are some of the lowest paid frontline workers in the city," he pointed out a recent Board of Supervisors meeting. "I have spoken to many of them in my district. They’re often single women who are raising children, who don’t know how they’re going to survive."

After angry SEIU members made a series of boisterous appearances at Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign events, the mayor finally agreed to meet with them in talks that were mediated by San Francisco Labor Council head Tim Paulson.

"[Newsom] complained at some length during the first meeting about us attacking him," noted SEIU member Ed Kinchley. "We responded that we’re really not attacking him. What we were criticizing was a policy that goes after classifications filled predominantly by women and people of color."

The ongoing flap took a new twist at the Oct. 22 Board of Supervisors meeting, when Sups. Avalos and Chris Daly each announced plans to find funding to restore the public health workers’ salaries. Avalos proposed skimming some excess from management positions, which have swelled in recent years.

"Before cutting vital city services … we should first look to those who have the most, not to those who have the least," Avalos noted. He said he plans to ask the city controller to draft an annual salary ordinance that would reclassify top management positions in order to free enough funding to stop the demotions and wage reductions for the CNAs and clerical workers.

According to a report issued by the city controller, citywide management positions have grown from 739 in budget year 1998-99 to 1,075 in 2008-09, a 68 percent increase. Some individuals were promoted with salary increases ranging from $20,000 to $40,000 annually.

"I don’t know how one does that," Kawa said when asked about Avalos’ proposal. "It doesn’t make any sense to me."

Daly, meanwhile, noted that Department of Public Health Chief Financial Officer Gregg Sass had highlighted a preliminary projection for an $8 million DPH budget surplus in a Sept. 15 memo. Daly announced that he plans to request the money be flagged to go back into the department to stave off deskilling of frontline workers.

When asked if this money was available to fund the CNAs and clerical workers, Sass responded, "I don’t think it is." Emphasizing that it’s a preliminary figure, he added that "any additional funding, should it exist, is a component of the city’s overall ability to stay on budget this year and offset any shortfalls in city revenue … and address the large projected deficit for next year. I don’t see how it could be seen as ‘available’ until the city has better projections of [other tax revenue]."

The union had planned for a lengthy session with mayoral staff to continue negotiations on the same day of the supervisors’ meeting. But when Kawa learned about Avalos’ proposed legislation, he got angry and walked out, according to one SEIU member.

Asked if proposed legislation detracted from the negotiations, Kawa told us that "it made the last one difficult because it was somewhat of a surprise. And usually when you’re in good-faith negotiations, you share with the other folks the activities you’re up to so that you know that they’re actually there to negotiate in good faith."

Back at SF General after the groundbreaking ceremony, Newsom posed for photos with top public health officials, scooping shovels full of loose dirt with golden spades. The giddy atmosphere dissipated when the mayor turned around to find himself ringed by a group of reporters vying for a chance to pepper him with questions. He responded to most of their queries in typical loquacious fashion. But when the Guardian asked him to comment on Avalos’ proposed legislation, his face darkened slightly. "I don’t have any comment," he responded gruffly. Then he was whisked away for more photographs.

We want free parking!



GREEN CITY The strong visceral reactions to extending parking meter hours in San Francisco and Oakland present a difficult challenge to those who seek to have motorists pay for more of their societal impacts and help offset declining public transit resources.

When the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency held an Oct. 20 public hearing on its proposal to extend parking meter hours to evenings and Sundays in order to better manage parking demand and raise $8.8 million for Muni in the process, the proposal was fiercely attacked as a tax on motorists and burden on businesses.

That outrage was expected from conservative factions — landlords, west side residents, and much of the business community — who consistently oppose progressive reforms. But it was surprising to hear the antiwar ANSWER coalition, an immigrant group, and self-described socialists also angrily opposing the proposal.

"The working class is being driven out, and I hope this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back," ANSWER’s Forrest Schmidt said at the hearing, calling for taxes on rich individuals and companies instead. "Someone else needs to pay for the budget deficit that giant corporations created."

"This is a class issue. The rich and the well-to-do don’t have to worry about where to park in this small and crowded city. They have garages or can afford to pay for parking. It is overwhelmingly working class people who are being hit and who will be hit much, much harder if the new policy goes into effect," ANSWER (which stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) wrote in a press release the next day.

But it’s a demonstrably false statement that the working class will be disproportionately affected by the proposal. Average incomes for drivers are far higher than those of Muni riders, who have borne the brunt of MTA budget cuts and will be hit even harder if this proposal fails.

A recent Transportation Authority study associated with the stalled proposal to charge a congestion-pricing fee on motorists entering the city core found that only 6 percent of them earned less than $50,000 per year. And in the census tract around ANSWER’s Mission District office, where Schmidt said poor workers who need cars are being aggressively ticketed, less than half the households actually own cars.

Beyond the fact that drivers are generally richer than the carless, there’s the established fact that they don’t come anywhere close to paying for their full societal impacts, from road building and maintenance to health care costs from accidents and air pollution to global warming.

"These are facts that a lot of people ignore," said Tom Radulovich, executive director of Livable City, calling ANSWER’s position "just a very limited perspective that they haven’t thought through yet."

Indeed, when I discussed the campaign with ANSWER’s regional director, Richard Becker, his arguments were almost entirely anecdotal. "I participate in the scramble for parking on a daily basis," he said.

The emotional reactions to taking away free parking also cause critics to lose sight of the facts. The proposal only affects metered spots in commercial districts, not street parking in neighborhoods. And the study treats every neighborhood differently based on parking demand, with the goal of reaching 85 percent occupancy to make parking more available — the very thing many critics of the proposal are demanding.

"They don’t understand that if we don’t raise the price of parking, we’re going to raise the price of Muni. They are extremely naïve beyond all reason," said Jason Henderson, a San Francisco State University geography professor who has studied the politics of parking and is current writing a book on the subject.

"There are people who want to democratize unsustainable lifestyles," Radulovich said, calling it "a strategy without a future."

Transportation activist Dave Snyder got into a heated discussion with some ANSWER members outside the hearing room, faulting them for failing to oppose the Muni fare hikes and service cuts that were approved last spring and for refusing to accept the need to discourage environmentally damaging activities like driving cars.

"To use price to discourage that is indeed a regressive tax. It’s still worth doing, but we have to think about [ANSWER’s reaction]," Snyder later told us.

But Henderson, Snyder, and Radulovich see a silver lining in this discussion. "It’s a sign of progress," Henderson said. "The more this floats to the surface and we can deal with it now, the better we’ll all be in the long run."

Unholy sheet



OK, it’s official — there’s way too much boo this Halloween. Scariest of all, I’m just going to shut up for once and let the parties do the talking. Gasp!


The original, frighteningly fantastic queer dance party kicks off the costumed train wreck that will be Halloween ’09. You bet there’s be rainbow unicorns. Wed/28, 10:30 p.m., $3. MakeOut Room, 3225 22nd St., SF. www.makeoutroom.com


French rockers enliven the terrifyingly popular 18+ indie club mainstay Popscene, with Veil Veil Varnish opening up, DJ Omar, and other treats. Thu/29, 9 p.m., $5. 330 Ritch, SF. www.popscene-sf.com


Perfectly goth and industrial powerhouse parties Meat and Death Guild team up with burlesque killers Hubba Hubba Revue for some spectacular murder on the dance floor. Fri/30, 9 p.m.–late, $13. DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., SF. www.dnalounge.com


Whoa, the seminal deep house club and label headed by Everything But the Girl’s Ben Watt is touching down for a costumed Devil’s Night of smooth beats mayhem. Fri/30, 10 p.m., $20. 103 Harriet, SF. www.1015.com


The horribly homolicious — hot young dyke alert! — monthly promises "feathers, face paint, papier-mâché masks, glitter, gold, and glam." With DJs Nuxx and Zax. Fri/30, 10 p.m., $10. Supperclub, 657 Harrison, SF. www.cockblocksf.com


Vogue! Drop! Scare! DJs Chelsea Starr, Errol, Nikki B, and more present a runway of death for all you underworld, drag-bedazzled queens. Fri/30, 10 p.m., $5. Triple Crown, 1760 Market, SF. www.triplecrownsf.com


Rising up from the late ’90s rave scene, decks fave Ben Tom relights 1000 Glo-sticks with new track "It’s a Party." The nutso Goldsweats kids hold down the basement. Fri/30, 10 p.m.-4 a.m., $20. temple, 540 Howard, SF. www.templesf.com


The raucous Berkeley band ‘vades the Independent cosmic tunes at a Star Wars-themed get-down, with the Afrolicious brothers thrusting funky warm-up tunes. Sat/31, 8:30 p.m., $18. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. www.independentsf.com


What’s better than a gyrating gaggle of queer Arabian and Middle-Eastern lovelies (and friends)? A drag-studded masquerade party for them, with DJs Cheon, Emancipacion, and Masood. Sat/31, 9 p.m.– 3 a.m., Six, 60 Sixth St., www.myspace.com/bibisf


It’s a spooky disco circus installment of this monthly gay glitterati fiesta from Joshua J and Juanita More, with creepy drag clowns, skeletal go-go boys, and DJs Kevin Graves and Marcus Boogie. Sat/31, 9 p.m.-3 a.m., $10. Club Eight, 1151 Folsom, SF. www.eightsf.com


Everyone’s a sawed-off wiener when monster mashup club Bootie unleashes its annual big-H hoedown, with Smashup Derby live, Princess Kennedy, and some smashing Seattle players in the Frankenboot room upstairs. Sat/31, 9 p.m.-late, $15. DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., www.bootiesf.com


What did they wear for Halloween before the Internet? Find out at this trés fashionable way-back machine, with DJs Jeffrey Paradise and Richie Panic and the Tenderlions live. Sat/31, 9 p.m., $10–$15. Paradise Lounge, 1501 Folsom, SF. www.club1994.com


Fear no anal embrace! Fantastic, supergay monthly ironic jock appreciation night Cockfight becomes a haunted locker room with DJ Earworm. Sat/31, 9 p.m., $5 with costume. UndergroundSF, 424 Haight, SF. www.cockfightsf.com


Bloodcurdlingly cute monthly indie rock dance club Fringe explodes with a screaming array of visual effects and tunes by DJ Blondie K and suboctave. Sat/31, 9 p.m., $5. Madrone, 500 Divisadero, SF. www.fringesf.com


Celebrating a devilishly lucky 13 years, the legendary San Francisco techno collective rages out with Abe Dusque, M3, Sharon Buck, and more. Sat/31, 8 p.m.-4 a.m., $10–<\d>$20. Triple Crown, 1760 Market, SF. www.triplecrownsf.com


Horror queens Heklina and Peaches Christ team up for a wicked drag spectacular featuring the sequin-shredding antics of Jackie Beat, Putanesca, Holy McGrail, Cookie Dough, and so many more. Sat/31, 9 p.m.–3 a.m., $15 with costume, Cat Club, 1190 Folsom, SF. www.trannyshack.com


AC/DC tribute band BC/DC salutes you, local electro-poppers Wallpaper sparks it up, and DJ Shane King tickles your bass bone. Holla. Sat/31, 8 p.m.-3a.m., $25. mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com


An onslaught of face-melting live hardcore electro from the former drummer of Sepultura(!) and his wife, plus Nisus, Apache Cleo, and DJ Bling Crosby. Sat/31, 10 p.m., $12 advance. Poleng, 1751 Fulton, SF. www.hacksawent.com


Low-end burner heroes Opel present a three-arena rumble to rip out your brain, with Syd Gris, Unerzone, and Germany’s Wolfgang Gartner. Sat/31, 9 p.m.-5 a.m., $15 advance. Mighty, 119 Utah, SF. www.mighty119.com


Show off your all-hallowed hilarity to some mind-blowing hip-hop and turntablist beats, as De La Soul’s Maseo joins Shortkut, DJ Nyce, and Jah Yzer on the operating tables. Sat/31, 10 p.m.–3 a.m., $12 advance. Club Six, 60 Sixth St., www.clubsix1.com


One of my favorite clubs, digging up those old-time, pre-’70s 45s from the vinyl graveyard. Do the Monster mash! Sat/31, 9:30 p.m., $10. The Knockout, 3223 Mission, SF. www.myspace.com/teenagedancecraze

Beer here!



It all started with Stella.

I’d made my weekly (OK, sometimes twice or thrice-weekly) stop at Amnesia and ordered a pint of the Belgian lager not-so-affectionately known among beer snobs as "British Budweiser." Why Stella? It’s light, easy to drink a lot of, and feels classier than PBR. So when I’m not on a $2-a-beer budget, Stella Artois is often what I order.

This time, however, the mustachioed bartender Matthew Harman didn’t simply poor me a glass. It was earlier than usual. He had some time. And he knew me well enough to guess I might be open to the speech he was about to give.

"Do you really want a Stella?" he asked. "Because there are better beers that aren’t shipped halfway across the world and owned by InBev." I consented to let him give me tastes of alternatives and eventually settled on a slightly more hoppy but equally drinkable lager from Sudwerk brewery in Davis.

I enjoyed the beer. But better yet, I enjoyed the wake-up call. Though I’ve become accustomed to buying groceries, clothing, gifts, coffee, and even liquor from local, independent manufacturers and retailers, when it comes to beer, I’ve been lazy. I don’t think before I drink.

What’s worse? I live in the land of craft brews. Though there are now 1,500 craft breweries nationwide, the movement started in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington — with flagship brands like Anchor, Pyramid, and Anderson Valley within driving distance (or, in the case of Anchor, a stone’s throw) from my office. And as the industry has grown and changed, there are ever more options for a range of palates — and purses. In short: there’s little excuse for thoughtless imbibing.

So why drink local? First, there’s the environmental reason: it requires a lot of energy to ship all those heavy bottles and kegs full of liquid across the country and around the world. Then there’s wanting to support the local economy: money spent on Bay Area businesses stays in the Bay Area. There’s the more intangible concept of local pride. "We support our lousy local sports teams," says Lars Larson, master brewer at Berkeley’s Trumer Brauerei. "Why not support our local brewing excellence?" And perhaps most important is taste: beer, like produce and dairy products, is best when fresh.

But the world of beer-making is complex. When it comes to assessing a brewery’s greenness, for example, the question often becomes: how green? If you grow your own hops but send them to Wisconsin for brewing, is that still environmentally sound? Or if a brewery is based in Seattle but makes beer in Berkeley, does it still support the local economy? The answers vary and can be subjective. But the good news is that whatever the reason for wanting to choose brews more thoughtfully, there’s a nearby option — or 12 — to satisfy it.

If you still just love the taste of Stella, or want an import that has no local substitute (like Guinness), or appreciate that the Budweiser you’re sipping was probably made in a brewery 60 miles away, well, more power to you. Even Harman won’t argue (though he’ll happily give tastings of alternatives to anyone who stops by the Valencia Street bar Sundays at 6 p.m.). The real point is to use the same criteria for choosing beer — values, politics, and palate — you do for food and wine. Here’s hoping our guide to some of the Bay Area’s famed and favorite breweries will help you make that decision.


This landmark brewery has existed in one form or another since 1896, making it the granddaddy of Bay Area brewing. Its current identity comes to us with thanks to Fritz Maytag, who bought 51 percent of the operation in 1965 and is still the driving force behind the company best known for its unique Anchor Steam beer. We love Anchor’s handcrafted brews, commitment to the community, and willingness to experiment with new ideas, including distilling gin and whiskey.

1705 Mariposa, SF. (415) 863-8350, www.anchorbrewing.com


This pillar of the Bay Area craft brew scene has been building its reputation on balanced, drinkable options like Boont Amber since 1987. Other favorites include the nearly hopless Summer Solstice, the oh-so-hoppy Hop Ottin’ IPA, and the Brother David line of abbey-style ales (named for Toronado owner David Keene). But we’re particularly excited about the 2009 Estate Fresh Hop beer, produced with hops grown on brewery grounds (where, by the way, all water is taken from wells on the property and all beer is made in a facility that’s 40 percent solar-powered).

17700 Hwy 253, Boonville. (707) 895-2337, www.avbc.com


Beer drinkers looking for a truly local, truly independent brewery need look no further than this Sonoma County one-man operation. Well-respected brewer Brian Hunt established the tiny business in 1992 and still delivers his keg-only offerings like Death and Taxes black beer, Reality Czeck pils, and Homegrown Fresh Hop Ale himself. Hunt also has been growing a share of his hops onsite since 2003.

Santa Rosa. (707) 528-2537, www.moonlightbrewing.com


One of the first craft breweries to appear on the public’s radar, this Seattle-based company also has been operating out of its Berkeley brewery and alehouse since 1997. Until recently, Pyramid operated as a publicly-owned company; now it is part of the Independent Brewers Union. Under this arrangement, the brewery is owned by East Coast brewers Mad Hat but conducts its business as an autonomous unit. The company also has revamped its image, renaming classics like Pyramid Hefeweizen (now Haywire Hefeweizen) and Pyramid Apricot Ale (now Audacious Apricot Ale) and introducing a host of new offerings — some only available at Pyramid brewpubs. But with locations in Sacramento, Walnut Creek, and Berkeley, that means plenty of access to exclusives like the nitrogenated Draught Pale Ale or the session beer Crystal Wheat Ale.

901 Gilman, Berk. (510) 527-9090, www.pyramidbrew.com


Now based in Santa Rosa, the brewery most famous for its Pliny the Elder Double IPA used to be owned by Korbel Champagne Cellars. Vinnie Cilurzo and his partner bought the business in 2003, but have continued to combine aspects of both industries, including a line of beers that are aged in used wine barrels from local wineries. Look for tasting nights of this special line, nicknamed the "’Tion" beers, at pubs like Toronado.

725 Fourth St., Santa Rosa; (707) 545-BEER, www.russianriverbrewing.com


The big news surrounding the Chico-based brewery that introduced much of America to Pale Ale is its upcoming Estate Harvest Ale, inspired by the winemaking of its Napa and Sonoma neighbors and made with hops and barley grown onsite. Also exciting? Two collaborations with Maryland-based brewery Dogfish Head — Limb and Life, released on draft this month, and Life and Limb, due out in 24-oz bottles and limited draft in November.

1075 E. 20th St., Chico. (530) 893-3520, www.sierranevada.com


Many beer drinkers gravitate to Speakeasy because of the distinctive, noir-feeling of its packaging and stay for the big, satisfying taste of classics like Big Daddy I.P.A. and Prohibition Ale. Though the Bayview-based brewery’s offerings are available on tap and in the bottle all over the Bay Area, we suggest visiting a Firkin’ Friday happy hour open house at the brewery from 4 to 9 p.m. every week.

1195 Evans Ave, SF. (415) 64-BEER-1, www.goodbeer.com


This Berkeley brewery encompasses what’s advantageous about imported and local beers. The only non-Austrian outlet for this 400-year-old recipe gets many of its ingredients from its sister company in Salzburg. But bottles, packaging, and, of course, the beer, all are made in the East Bay. What makes Trumer special is a process called "endosperm mashing," which means brewers separate the barley husks from the starchy endosperm during milling, then reintroduce them at the end of the process to highlight the warm, toasty flavor of the malt. Trumer also uses a process called krausening, a slow, secondary fermentation that helps build natural carbonation. (One reason for its signature glassware is to show off the tiny Champagne-like bubbles.)

1404 Fourth St., Berk. (510) 526-1160


This Prohibition-themed South Park brewery has been getting lots of attention lately for its canned craft beers — Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer and Brew Free! Or Die IPA — and for good reason. Though cans are the best way to keep beer fresh (since sunlight can’t penetrate metal), convenient for carrying, allowed at locales where glass isn’t, and (let’s face it) good for shotgunning, the delivery method has long been associated with cheap, watery beer. But this stigma seems to be slowly eroding, thanks in no small part to forward-thinking breweries like 21st Amendment.

563 Second St., SF. (415) 369-0900, www.21st-amendment.com

We realize that this list is only a tiny glimpse at the myriad breweries, alehouses, brewpubs, and better beer bars in and around the Bay Area. Indeed, Northwest Brewing News lists more than 100 such places between Bakersfield and Blue Lake — and we’re willing to bet there are many more. Check our Web site for information and extended interviews about breweries like Bear Republic, Shmaltz, Thirsty Bear, Triple Rock, and Magnolia, plus recommendations from beer experts at Toronado, City Beer, and Healthy Spirits.

Still think we’re missing someone? Let us know.


Light beer’s plight

I like to drink beers. Plural. I’m the guy the ad men were thinking of in that classic jingle, the one that goes "Shaefer is the one beer to have when you’re having more than one." One summer a few years back, my friends and I polished off 1,000 cans of beer over a four-day weekend on Lake Shasta; there were only about 10 of us drinking. Do the math on that one, and you get a sense of my taste for the blessed amber fluid.

But that was then, and this is now. And today I have two kids who wake up at 6 a.m. and keep me on the go day and night; I’m not as young as I used to be; and I can’t handle the intoxication the way I once did.

But I still drink beers, plural, every day, and I’m not about to give it up. What I’ve done is switched to light beer. Correction: "Light" is a bad word. Among serious drinkers, it’s called "session beer."

It’s a choice more and more people are making in this country — beer with lower alcohol content is one of the fastest growing parts of the industry. But it presents a problem: how do you drink local (and high quality beer) when most of the craft breweries and brewpubs focus almost entirely on the heavy and the strong?

Quick definition here: light beer is generally promoted and advertised as having fewer calories than regular brew. But I could care less about beer making me fat (I can always give up food). What I’m talking about is what’s known in the business as ABV; that’s alcohol by volume. Typical American beer — say, Budweiser — runs about 5 percent. Typical craft brew — say, Anchor Liberty Ale — is about 6 percent. The more serious stuff is even stronger — Lagunitas Maximum India Pale Ale, for example, clocks in at 7 percent.

Typical light beer — say, Bud Light, at 4.2 percent ABV — has almost 20 percent less alcohol than Bud, 30 percent less than Liberty Ale, and only about half as much as some of the more extreme brews.

And for those of us who would rather have four light beers than two Imperial Red Ales (and really — in America, is that even a choice?), the craft brew pickings are fairly slim. Especially in Northern California.

"You are living in the land of the IPA," Bill Manley, communications coordinator for Sierra Nevada brewery, which makes no lighter beers, told me.

It’s not as if we’re without choices. Anchor makes a Small Beer (with the leftovers from it’s brutally strong Barleywine Ale) that comes in at about 3.5 percent ABV, but you almost never see it in stores. The 21st Amendment brewpub makes an excellent Great American Bitter that meets the session-beer standard of less than 4.5 percent. Magnolia makes an English Mild, and there’s Stone Levitation Ale (4.4 percent). But again: check out most liquor stores and none of those are on the shelf.

Across the country, that’s starting to change. Lew Bryson, a beer writer and blogger in Pennsylvania, has started the Session Beer Project (sessionbeerproject.blogspot.com) to share information about full-flavored, high-quality brews that don’t knock you silly after a bottle or two. "There are more people like us than most craft brewers would credit," Bryson told me.

The term "session beer" comes from England. By some accounts, it dates back to World War II when pubs were only open for short "sessions" so the workers could get back to the munitions plants in a relatively functional state. By Bryson’s definition, a session beer has an ABV below 4.5 percent and doesn’t overwhelm the party.

There are distinct advantages to lower-alcohol beers. "I was at a session brew festival two years ago and went through six pints in about two hours," he said. "I keep a Breathalyzer in my car, and when it was time to go home, I blew .02" — well within the legal limit in every state in America.

A brewpub near Bryson’s house on the outskirts of Philly sells a Belgian ale called Mirage with an ABV of just 2.9 percent. "I can have a couple of pints with lunch and it doesn’t blow my entire afternoon," he said.

Yet the reluctance remains. "A lot of brewers, they hear low-alcohol and they think light beer — and that’s the enemy," Bryson said.

Mike Riley, marketing director at Anderson Valley Brewing that makes no beer with less than 5 percent ABV, added: "It’s one of those stigmas that’s gone on for a long time."

In fact, I could only find one craft brewer in the country that actually makes a "light" beer: Minhas Brewery in Monroe, Wis., which makes Huber Light and Minhas Light. "People were asking for it," Gary Olsen, the brewery manager told me. "Our first reaction was, why make something that doesn’t taste like anything? But we found out you can make a very good lighter beer."

Yes, indeed. And when Anchor starts making (and marketing) Liberty Ale Light, I promise — I’ll give up Bud Light forever. (Tim Redmond)

Lovecraft, baby!


More on SFBG

>>New doc explores H.P. Lovecraft’s lasting influence — and Cthulhu slippers!

>Neo-goth and retro and contempo horror music pulse forth


Lovecraft is a resonating wave. He’s rock and roll.

— Neil Gaiman, "Concerning Dreams and Nightmares," The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft: Dreams of Terror and Death

LIT/MUSIC Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937) attributes most of his fiction’s cosmology to the apocryphal Necronomicon, an ageless sort of anti-Bible that describes a universe of unfathomable strangeness superimposed over our own. Not content with obscurity, this alternate reality tends to extend its clammy tendrils into our collective line of vision, yielding all sorts of therapy-necessitating results. Of course, the Necronomicon‘s legend overshadows its reality. Yet in the kind of self-reflexive twist the famously anti-modern writer would have probably hated, the tome’s enduring mystique acts as a summation of his own work’s post-pulp shelf life.

Lovecraft never got a chance to see it happen, but the spawn of his fevered imagination has been consistently reproduced in all sorts of geek media, from role-playing games to plush dolls. Some of the most interesting representations of the reclusive author’s output, however, come from the realm of loud-ass rock music, another modern contrivance Lovecraft would have almost certainly despised.

The first instance of Lovecraft’s legacy infiltrating rock music seems to be with the late-1960s psychedelic folk outfit known as, appropriately enough, H.P. Lovecraft. This group took after the sense of fantastic spaciousness conveyed in its namesake’s oeuvre, meandering in dreamy walls of sound that circumvent any buried unease without actually going anywhere. "At the Mountains of Madness" from 1968’s H.P. Lovecraft II (Phillips) spends five or so minutes layering organ arpeggios, vocal harmonies, and a collage of period echo effects into one of the better musical approximations of a lava lamp — a languid sonic pattern that’s fun to lose yourself in for a while, before you realize the shifting plasma is never going to do anything crazier than its mannered glass walls will allow. It was a promising start, but the essential menace of these unexplored worlds seemed to intimidate the band, like the intrusive pang of fear that could send even the most cosmic of folk-rock trips spiraling into twisted Syd Barrett territory. It would take a group with a special predilection to the macabre to help steer Lovecraft-rock towards reaching its full potential.

By the early ’70s, H.P. Lovecraft and its like were devoured by the cyclopean (to borrow H.P.’s favorite adjective) Black Sabbath, whose Black Sabbath (Warner Brothers, 1970) pays homage to the neurotic master with the typically sinister power-groove of "Beyond the Wall of Sleep." In what should come as no surprise to anybody familiar with the Birmingham, England four-piece’s career arc, the doom gods immediately honed in on the potential psychedelic allegory of Lovecraft’s work. While the "deadly petals with strange powers" are the focal point of Ozzy’s lyrics, Geezer Butler’s snakelike bass line adds a decidedly mysterious undercurrent to the track, like some implicit ghoulishness is being mercifully withheld from the listener. (Sabbath acolyte Sleep would pick up where its primary influence left off. "From Beyond," from 1992’s Sleep’s Holy Mountain [Earache] eschews Butler’s measured playing, allowing Al Cisneros’s bass tone to swell to neutron star proportions. Likewise, lyrical allusions to "planetoids soaked in rays of electric light" and the approaching "stoner caravan from deep space" have an affinity with the author’s sprawling, pulp-lyricism rather than his feel for claustrophobic menace, the norm for most other Lovecraft-inspired songs.)

Metallica puts this strategic withholding to use in Ride the Lightning‘s (Megaforce, 1984) "The Call of Ktulu," a sprawling, misspelled instrumental tribute to Lovecraft’s beloved cephalopod-head. With its hypnotically creeping guitar theme, the album’s epic closer mirrors the arch of the typical Lovecraft narrator’s psyche — a curious unease that gradually swells to a crescendo of madness — while doing justice to the cadence of Lovecraft’s baroque language. The absence of vocals is part of why the track is so effective. By stripping away the inevitably sub-Lovecraft lyrics, Metallica allows the listener to be absorbed by the brooding tone rather than any deficient attempts at reproducing content.

Like Black Sabbath and Metallica before them, countless heavy metal acts past and present have been fascinated by the worlds and creatures described in H.P. Lovecraft’s labyrinth of fiction — Morbid Angel’s prized shredder Trey Azagthoth even modifies one of the more formidable creature’s monikers for his stage name (and in another parallel, gives death metal some of its most batshit-dissonant solos.) But one notable band of Lovecraft acolytes comes from the seemingly incongruous world of British punk.

The iconoclastic (read: fucking weird) Rudimentary Peni and their 1988 LP Cacophony (Himalayan) eschew the subtlety of some of their peers in the Lovecraftian rock canon and go straight for the brainstem. While others withhold (to varying degrees of effectiveness), Rudimentary Peni overload. As a concept album, Cacophony is as much about Lovecraft’s psyche as it is his literary creations. Nick Blinko uses the senseless feedback of his guitar amp, coupled with schizophrenic, mumbled vocals, to create a supremely ugly conflation of fiction, biography, and amateur psychopathological diagnosis.

A far cry from the static kaleidoscope of sound employed by canon forefathers H.P. Lovecraft, Rudimentary Peni’s use of layered tones and effects spirals inward with single-minded intensity. Standout songs like "The Horror in the Museum" and "Zenophobia" tenuously adhere to the sing-along, pogo-conducive structure traditionally associated with British punk. Yet closer listening reveals these barely stable hooks to be composed of a vast latticework — not unlike the album’s disturbingly detailed, fractal-like cover art — of dissonant string-bends, amplifier squeaks, disjointed basslines, and a persistent, barely intelligible whisper that seems to work itself into the fiber of the guitar tone.

The result is a funhouse doppelganger of the multilayered production of the group’s unlikely 1960s ancestor. Cacophony appears to be about crafting some kind of stable impression of the man, but the Peni make a point of never letting the components fully fit together. Instead, we are left with a virtual echo chamber of Lovecraft’s imagination, wherein the scraps and fragments of his writings and real-life neuroses intermingle and inform each other without ever coalescing. In spite of the band’s unmerciful approach, there’s a feeling of being denied the full effect of some unspeakable horror. But this horror is strictly cerebral, a glimpse at the madness that looms over Lovecraft’s work like one of his own reasonless "Other Gods." Happy Halloween, big guy! Eeyagh!

Fall Feast 2009


Man (and woman) cannot live on PBR and pasta alone. I should know. I spent the whole summer trying. But now that my leftover Burning Man groceries are gone and the weather’s getting colder, I can’t help but crave real food again. And what better time and place is there to be really, really hungry for a substantial meal made with fresh ingredients than right now in San Francisco? Despite the struggling economy, innovative restaurants keep popping up — and the old classics are offering better deals. Plus, the changing culinary landscape has led to all kinds of fun, cheap, gourmet alternatives like pop-ups, lunch carts, and temporary restaurants-within-a-restaurant. This edition of FEAST, our drinking and dining magazine, focuses on what we love about the Bay Area’s food scene, from innovative locales to cross-cultural alternatives, from wintery suppers to summery desserts (after all, how cold does it ever really get here?), and from new restaurants to a niche bookstore that only a foodie-city like San Francisco could support. Whether you’re ready to start your Thanksgiving feasting early or are simply transitioning out of your warm-weather diet (or budget), we’re sure you’ll find something in the coming pages to satisfy your cravings. Unless, that is, you’re looking for PBR and pasta. You’ll have to take care of that one on your own — or wait ’til next summer. (Molly Freedenberg)

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