Volume 44 Number 07

‘Tis the season to be Jewy



December’s not an easy time to be Jewish. Semites are surrounded by cultural references that have nothing to do with them. Gentiles assume that anyone of Jewish heritage cares to celebrate Hanukkah (many don’t) and that it’s as important a holiday to Jews as Christmas is to Christians (it’s not). Half-pint Heebs must watch their peers get heaped with expensive gifts or swept away to elaborate family gatherings during school vacations while they sit at home with eight days worth of chocolate coins and nothing to do. And grown Yids are stuck at least two days a year with few options for leaving the house other than Chinese restaurants (because Buddhists and Taoists don’t celebrate Christmas either) or movie theaters (because this is the day film companies give a gift to themselves).

But there are upsides. Along with Passover, this is the one time of year the rest of the country – and grocery stores’ ethnic foods sections — seems to recognize Jewish culture (however misguided its focus on Hanukkah instead of, say, Rosh Hashanah). While our friends and neighbors get frantic over gifts and gatherings, we can enjoy some mostly mellow time off. And best of all? This is a fantastic city in which to be Jewish, whether you want to celebrate your culture or simply not be forced to celebrate someone else’s.

Judaism: Not just for Hanukkah anymore

Whether or not you care about Hanukah, this is a time of year when many non-practicing Jews are reminded of their Jewishness. If you’d like to get in touch with that side of yourself – outside the sometimes intimidating (or, let’s face it, boring) constructs of Jewish holidays – there are several great ways to do it.

First up? Anything going on at Sha’ar Zahav (290 Dolores, SF. 415-861-6932, ), a welcoming center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and hetero Jews – and their friends – that embodies the open-mindedness I love about both Judaism and San Francisco. In particular, I love that the temple hosts an Interfaith Giving of Thanks (Nov. 24, 7 p.m. Donation of nonperishable food items encouraged.), in which the congregation joins with neighborhood faith communities for a service of praise, prayer, and song meant to give thanks for the gifts in our lives. Also hearteningly inclusive? Friday Night Spirit (Dec. 18, and various dates throughout the year. Snacks at 5:45 p.m., service at 6:15 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. Open to the general public), a monthly event geared towards kids and their families who want to welcome the Sabbath with traditional and new Hebrew and English tunes followed by dinner and a schmooze.

Another awesome opportunity is the Jewish Holiday Cooking (Dec. 6, 12 – 5 p.m. $76. Held at a.Muse Gallery, 614 Alabama, SF. calico-pie.blogspot.com), a class taught by the queer-friendly chefs at Calico Pie. And you don’t have to be a member of the tribe to learn the secrets to perfect latkes, culturing your own crème fraiche, or making applesauce from scratch. Just don’t tell your Bubbe that your goyishe friend cures a better gravlax than she does.

Light ‘em if you’ve got ‘em

So you’ve decided you do want to celebrate Hanukkah? Good for you. There are plenty of ways to do it in the Bay Area, from super reform lighting ceremonies to orthodox services. As for me, I’m most likely to celebrate at A DeLIGHTful Chanukah, the service and celebration that includes not only songs and dancing but live music by the Bay Area klezmer ensemble KugelPlex and (best of all) latkes at this reform temple that “celebrates the diversity of Judaism.” (Dec. 11, service 6 p.m., dinner 7:15 p.m. $10-$18, plus unwrapped toy donation. Congregation Sherith Israel, 2266 California, SF. RSVP at 415-346-1720 x27, www.sherithisrael.org.) Or perhaps I’ll attend an event like Holiday Fun Day (2:00 p.m.-5 p.m., free) or Hanukkah in Argentina (Dec. 16, 6:30 p.m., $40-$45) at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco (3200 California, SF. 415-292-1200, ).

For a San Francisco twist on the Festival of Lights, you might consider the Festival of Rights, a Super 8 festival featuring eight short films curated by the Jewish Film Festival and featuring beer tasting with Shmaltz Brewing Company (the bi-coastal brewery that makes He’Brew, the Chosen Beer, right here in Cole Valley), live bands, and DJs. (Dec. 12, 7 p.m. $10-$15. Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission, SF. 415-655-7800, www.thecjm.org).

And if I had kids, there’s no question I’d take them to Kids’ Bagels n’ Blocks at Beth Israel Judea, a congregation known for its progressive, egalitarian Judaism and its member representation in the Pride Parade. For older kids, the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco also hosts a variety of winter camps between Dec. 11 and 18, with focus on swimming, dance and gymnastics, basketball, cooking, or trips to amusement parks.

The most wonderful boring day of the year

What do you do on Christmas Day (a Friday this year) when the stores are all closed, the TV’s only showing Miracle on 34th Street or the Macy’s parade, and all your friends are with their families pretending to like their gifts? Look to Jewish organizations, of course.

The Jewish Community Center of San Francisco will be open (Dec. 25, 1-4 p.m., free.) for swimming, movies, arts and crafts, or even a service project for individuals and families who want something to do other than sit in a dark movie theater. For those who want buddies while they celebrate the traditional Jewish Christmas, join JCCSF’s club for individuals and couples in their 40s, 50s, and 60s also will host Movie and a Meal (RSVP to Shiva Schulz at jazz@jccsf.org late in the week of Dec. 21 for details), a no-host film followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant. Also open on Christmas Day is the Contemporary Jewish Museum (Dec. 25, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., free), featuring free admission to see exhibitions like There’s a Mystery There: Sendak on Sendak (the exhibit about the creator of Where the Wild Things Are).

It’s too bad Heeb Magazine’s Heebonism event isn’t being held in San Francisco this year, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options for Christmas evening. Of course, there’s always the beloved Kung Pao Kosher Comedy show (Dec. 24-27, 6 and 9:30 p.m. $42-$62. New Asia Restaurant, 772 Pacific, SF. 925-275-9005, www.koshercomedy.com), now in its 17th year and featuring Jonathan Katz (yes, that one), Brian Mallow, and Lisa Geduldig.

But don’t forget that most bars stay open during Christmas, and more and more non-Asian eateries are following suit (check www.opentable.com for a list of restaurants with reservations available). My personal favorite? Jack in the Box (it’s rumored that Jack is Jewish). It might not be high-brow, but there’s a certain entertainment value in pretending your curly fries are payots.

Holiday Hops



We alter our schedules, our menus, and even our cocktail choices during the winter months. Why not our beers too? In fact, old world monasteries (which functioned as both breweries and spiritual centers) have been making commemorative holiday beers since monotheism was invented (and pagan producers long before that). Though modern seasonal beers are as much a state of mind as an actual brewing style, many made in winter are geared towards fending off the cold of a long winter night (or the exhaustion of a long day of shopping), combining complex flavors and high alcohol content in styles like old ales, barleywines, and strong lagers. Below are some of our favorite seasonal releases, from breweries both near and far.

Autumn Maple

Brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup, this specialty beer is The Bruery’s answer to the pumpkin beer trend. With 17 pounds of yams and a traditional Belgian yeast strain mixed in ever barrel, this 10% beer is perfect for pairing with Thanksgiving dinner – or, with a vanilla ice cream float, for dessert. Available through December.
The Bruery, 715 Dunn Way, Placentia. (714) 996-MALT, www.thebruery.com

Brewmaster Reserve Old Boardhead Barleywine Ale

Want something stronger than Wreck the Halls? This deep, robust, 9% brew, released in October, is the employee-owned brewery’s answer to the barleywine trend.
Full Sail Brewing, 506 Columbia, Hood River. (541) 386-2247, www.fullsailbrewing.com

Celebration Ale

The dry-hopped favorite with the distinctive red label that’s been winning awards since the early ‘90s pairs nicely with beef, lamb, and even rich cheese dishes.
Sierra Nevada, 1075 East 20th St, Chico. (530) 893-3520, www.sierranevada.com

Chicory Stout

Originally created in 1995, this December release is dark and delicious, thanks to roasted chicory, organic Mexican coffee, St. John’s Wort (perfect for fighting off seasonal depression!), and licorice root. Rarely served outside the Dogfish brewery, this brew might be reason enough to take a Delaware detour on your East Coast vacation.
Dogfish Head, 6 Cannery Village Center, Milton, DE. (302) 684-1000, www.dogfish.com

Christmas Ale

This classic brewery’s 35-year-old seasonal release may have a classic name, but every year it gets a new recipe and a new label. (Check the Website for images of every Christmas Ale label from 1975 to today.)
Anchor Brewing, 1705 Mariposa, SF. (415) 863-8350, www.anchorbrewing.com

The Hairy Eyeball

At 8.7% ABV, this New Year’s release packs a big, brown warmer punch. You just have to get past the name (and the creepy pooch staring you down from the label).
Lagunitas Brewing, 1280 N Mcdowell Blvd, Petaluma. (707) 769-4495, www.lagunitas.com

Jewbelation Bar Mitzvah

What 15 is to Latin American teenagers and 16 is to spoiled girls on MTV (that is, the age of a rite of passage), 13 is to Jews. So it only makes sense that the 13th of Shmaltz Brewery’s Jewbelation series would be named after the celebration of a young Yid’s transformation into an adult Yid. Made (appropriately) with 13 malts and 13 hops, this 13% brew is being billed as an extreme Channukah Ale and should be available throughout the holiday season. My favorite part? Bottle artwork features consumer-submitted photos from their own bar and bat mitzvahs. They are, after all, the Brews.
Shmaltz Brewing Company, 912 Cole, SF. (415) 339-7462, www.shmaltz.com


Deschutes Brewery offers several seasonal beers out of their Bend, Oregon, locale, but perhaps the best known is Jubelale – not only for its dark crystal malt but its annually changing bottle artwork. This year’s label, by Tracy Leagjeld, is inspired by fresh snow. But you can see 15 years worth of Jubelale art on exhibit at Toronado on Nov. 19 and City Beer Store on Dec. 1.
Deschutes Brewery, 901 SW Simpson, Bend, Ore. (541) 385-8606, www.deschutesbrewery.com

Old Gubbillygotch

The Sonoma County brewery packs this copper-colored barleywine with a whopping 9.5% ABU, ensuring that you’ll no longer be able to pronounce its name after imbibing a glass or two.
Russian River Brewing Company, 725 4th St, Santa Rosa. (707) 545-BEER, www.russianriverbrewing.com

Old Godfather Barleywine-Style Ale

The Dogpatch brewery famous for bringing us Prohibition Ale and Big Daddy I.P.A. has thrown their noir-style hat into the barleywine ring with this winter release.
Speakeasy Ales and Lagers, 5700 3rd St, SF. (415) 822-8972, www.goodbeer.com

Seasonal Brews

You never know what the geniuses at this stellar Berkeley brewhouse are going to whip up any time of year, but the creators of Monkey Head, Titanium Pale Ale, and Black Rock Porter can be trusted to make a small batch of something transcendent. Visit the alehouse and let the brewmaster choose for you.
Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse, 1920 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 843-4677, www.triplerock.com

Snow Cap

This winter warmer is brewed in the style of British winter ales, with roasted chocolate and caramel malts and plenty of hops. Try it with shellfish and rich desserts – or all on its own.
Pyramid Brewery, 920 Gilman, Berk. (510) 528-9880, www.pyramidbrew.com

Two Turtle Doves

The Orange County brewery’s second installment in its 12 Days of Christmas line of Belgian-style dark strong ales (which launched last year with the fruity, complex Patridge in a Pear Tree), Two Turtle Doves is made with dark candi sugar and both Munich and Vienna malts. Available December through March.
The Bruery, 715 Dunn Way, Placentia. (714) 996-MALT, www.thebruery.com

Winter Solstice

Most people know Anderson Valley Brewing for their popular Boont Amber Ale, but those in the know spend the year anticipating this creamy medium-bodied ale, released every November.
Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Boonville.(707) 89-BEER, www.avbc.com

Winter Warmer

Visit the Haight on November 25 if you want the first pours of Magnolia’s interpreation of a strong, English holiday-time beer, brewed every year since 1997. The rich, malty brew usually lasts until Christmas, but with all the attention this award-winning brewpub’s been getting lately, you might not want to count on it.
Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery, 1398 Haight, SF. (415) 864-7468, www.magnoliapub.com

Wreck the Halls

This sublime hybrid of an American style IPA with a Winter Warmer style strong ale is a sublime hybrid of an American style IPA is the Hood River brewery’s newest seasonal offering, available November through December.
Full Sail Brewing, 506 Columbia, Hood River. (541) 386-2247, www.fullsailbrewing.com

Of course, you can get these seasonals from the breweries themselves. But you also can find many on tap at better beer bars like Toronado (547 Haight, SF. 415-863-2276, www.toronado.com), Zeitgeist (199 Valencia, SF. 415-255-7505, zeitgeist199.com), and Amnesia (853 Valencia, SF. 415-970-0012, www.amnesiathebar.com), or at top-notch beer shops like City Beer Store (1168 Folsom, SF. 415-503-1033, www.citybeerstore.com) and Healthy Spirits (2299 15th St, SF. 415-255-0610, healthy-spirits.blogspot.com).

Presents of mind



Gang, put away those Halloween costumes ’cause it’s that time of year again: gift list time. And oh lordy, do we Americans love us some holiday season! It’s gotten to the point that the annual orgy of consumerism, though somewhat abated this year (the National Retail Federation says projected per-person spending will fall to a piddling $682.74), has become an important crutch for our gimpy economy. Basically your ducats make a difference. With that in mind, the question becomes: what kind of difference are they making? May I hereby propose that this year we work through our list of the naughty and nice not at the big box corporate megaliths but with the groups that work to make our community more socially just, culturally rich, and environmentally friendly? Here’s some ideas for gifts that give back.


One of the most life-changing gifts you could give this year would be that of a furry new life partner. No, I’m not suggesting a gift certificate for Lone Star Saloon, I’m talkin’ ’bout shelter cats. But if your loved one’s not quite prepared for litter boxes and wet food, perhaps she’s ready for wine glasses and corkscrews. Give Me Shelter Cat Rescue teams up this year with urban winery Crushpad to offer choice pours like Meow Merlot and Calico Cabernet (bottles from $22-$28), meaning the commitment-shy animal lover can support kitty cats without actually owning one. Bonus: they can get sauced at the same time.

(415) 297-4301, www.givemesheltersf.org, www.wine.crushnet.com/givemeshelter


With more families’ finances dancing the recession stutter-step, the Food Bank has had to step up its game and provide even more for less. Help them help the 150,000 San Franciscans at risk of going hungry this holiday season by buying your favorite foodie into the SF Food Bank Chef-for-a-Day program. For just $150 ($65 of which goes straight to the Bank), food-minded philanthropists get the chance to help and hang out with chef Bob Helstrom during the lunch shift at Kuleto’s Italian Kitchen. The day includes a souvenir cookbook and a special lunch for two prepared by Helstrom himself.

900 Pennsylvania, SF. (415) 282-1900, www.sffoodbank.org


The hundreds of tourists who blaze their bike saddles over the Golden Gate Bridge everyday probably don’t know the debt they owe to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. These activists are the folks behind winning two-wheel access to the bridge and carfree days in Golden Gate Park, not to mention the 201 miles of bike lanes in our city. The coalition also provides free urban cycling classes and hooks up underserved communities with bike safety gear. Totally rad, right? Want an equally rad gift idea? Buy your biker buddy a Coalition membership ($35-$100), which gets them discounts at a ton of bike shops in town, free bike trailer rentals, and 10 percent off at Rainbow Grocery when they ride there — all while supporting SF cyclist’s favorite organization.

995 Market, Suite 1550, SF. (415) 431-2453, www.sfbike.org


Started as an ashram in 1975, Rainbow Grocery isn’t a nonprofit in the strict sense — but the lack of 501(c)(3) designation belies the fact that Rainbow makes San Francisco a better place. The workers’ cooperative hawks the wares of small local farmers and sells naught but the healthiest, most socially equitable edibles. To support Rainbow’s efforts, I highly suggest do-it-youselfing a food basket from here for your friend on the healthy living tip (or your friend who’s gotta get on the healthy living tip). It also has a kickin’ gift section if you need a quick one-off. One of my favorite holiday-ready items? Rainbow’s line of screenprinted bags from Jaguar Moon ($5.99–$15.99), a refugee artists’ collective that produces organic sacks from recycled material.

1745 Folsom, SF. (415) 863-8620, www.rainbowgrocery.org; www.jaguarmoonbags.com


What’s crazy about San Francisco is that in this epicenter of art, culture, music, food, and all kinds of urbanity at its finest, given 20 minutes and a functional vehicle, you can find yourself in the heart of America’s most gorgeous natural hang-outs. We have Golden Gate National Park Conservancy to thank for the continued awesomeness of places like Tennessee Valley and Muir Woods — and thank them you can by doing your holiday shopping at the Warming Hut Park Store and Cafe, the little shop/shack tucked away by the Golden Gate Bridge. The store sells gorgeous posters glorifying the day trips all around us ($9.95–$190), as well as bits of SF park history, like the Conservancy’s own We Hold The Rock, a book detailing the badass Native American Alcatraz occupation 30-some years back. In other words, perfect gifts for the radical nature lover on your list, and for the Conservancy too.

Presidio Building, 983 Marin Dr., SF. (415) 561-3040, www.store.parksconservancy.org/store

Creativity Explored

Helping the developmentally disabled find their voice through art since 1983, Creativity Explored’s annual art sale is an amazing opportunity to buy sensational pieces by undiscovered artists. Prices are friendly for those with financial disabilities as well.

3245 16th St, SF. (415) 863-2108, www.creativityexplored.org


Supporting the right of women to take charge of their lives and finances, La Cocina easily surpasses its neighboring yuppie eateries and corner taquerias for the title of the Mission’s coolest kitchen. The space rents to budding food entrepreneurs and hosts delicious classes on subjects from tamale making to the exhilaration of home canning. This year buy your beloved eater one of La Cocina’s much lauded gift boxes, which range from $20–$100 and feature pear butter and fruit drinks from the new local food businesses that call La Cocina home.

2948 Folsom, SF. (415) 824-2729, www.lacocinasf.org


C’mon people, we’ve got to support our local independent pirate store. Whether it’s lard, eye patches ($4–$5), or posters emblazoned with truisms for surviving life in this scurvy-filled world ($20 for such design gems as "Cannons don’t sink ships: Pirates with cannons sink ships"), 826 Valencia has got you covered. Better still, the shopfront’s proceeds go directly to the booty within the building’s hull: Dave Eggers’ writing workshop for San Francisco youngsters that has spawned sister programs the country over. Pirate flags and punctuation pointers? A match destined to take the high seas.

826 Valencia, SF. (415) 642-5905, www.826valencia.org/store


Know someone who’s dragging their feet on the farmers market craze? Support your local small agriculturist and the culinary trend that’s turning our city into a locavore fantasyland by getting them a bag of wooden gift coins for fruit and veggie buying, tucked into a reusuable produce bag and available at the Ferry Plaza market on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, or at the CUESA office inside the Ferry Building.

1 Ferry Building, SF. (415) 291-3276 x103, www.cuesa.org


OK fine, sometimes it’s OK to go to the mall. But I’m lifting my moratorium on the sole condition that you use it on Under One Roof’s holiday store at Westfield Centre. The shop, which is mainly staffed by volunteers and has a year-round location at 518A Castro, has been benefiting San Francisco’s HIV/AIDS community since 1990 with its sales. Brave the melee at Westfield for the shop’s killer selection of Christmas tree ornaments (starting at $8.95), SF/Castro-themed clothes, and a heap of toys for the shorter set.

Westfield San Francisco Centre, 865 Market, SF. (415) 978-9877, www.underoneroof.org

Good work



The phrase "less fortunate" takes on new meaning in times like these, when everyone’s bank accounts and job opportunities seem more bleak than they used to. But according to the clichéd-yet-still-beneficent spirit of almost every holiday story ever told, this is the perfect time of year to contemplate those who truly are less fortunate than we are. (Cupboards full of ramen? Sucks. But having cupboards in which to put ramen? Rocks.) Why not get some perspective by giving your time and energy to those whose straits are even more dire than yours? Check out some of our favorite volunteer opportunities below, or visit www.volunteerinfo.org for an extensive list of Bay Area organizations that need manpower.


This Bay Area institution gives patrons yet another way to find personal affirmation with its five-year-old tradition of offering free Thanksgiving meals served by volunteer community members and staff. This year, four locations are participating, each expecting to feed at least 300 people. Want to get involved? No need to RSVP. Just show up at one of the restaurants below with friends and family any time between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., ready to work — and eat — until the food is gone.

2400 Harrison Street, SF. (415) 830-3014; 1730 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 725-4418; 2200 Fourth St., San Rafael. (415) 578-4928; 206 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg. (707) 723-4461; www.cafegratitude.com


There are plenty of ways to support this noble — and notable — organization year-round, including volunteering at any one of Glide’s daily free meals. (Just visit the Web site and sign up for a breakfast, lunch, or dinner shift. Larger groups also can e-mail lgraybill@glide.org.) If you’d like to get involved in other Glide programs — which need everything from nurses and doctors to clerical assistants and ensemble singers — all you need to do is attend a Volunteer Information Session, held the first Wednesday of select months. But the holidays are an especially important time to support the nonprofit founded by philanthropist Lizzie Glide in 1929 and reborn under the Rev. Cecil Williams during the 1960s. Though all Thanksgiving shifts are filled, Glide still needs volunteers to help with the Toy Sort and Transfer on Dec. 16, 17, 19, and 20; Christmas Eve meal prep; Christmas Day meal service; and especially breakfast and lunch shifts in the days after Christmas, when volunteers are notoriously scarce.

330 Ellis, SF. (415) 674-6000, www.glide.org


Founded by Mary Risley of Tante Marie’s Cooking School, this organization’s goal is to help alleviate hunger and waste by delivering excess food from restaurants to local shelters and food programs. The award-winning nonprofit can always use groups and individuals to commit to regular or on-call deliveries — or phone and computer work — year-round, including the holiday season.

2579 Washington, SF. (415) 929-1866, www.foodrunners.org


Want to help your local community, but not sure where or what you want to do? HandsOn Bay Area specializes in linking potential volunteers with local nonprofits, schools, and parks for high-impact, group-based volunteer projects (though there are plenty of opportunities for individuals too). To get involved, register as a HOBA volunteer at its Web site, complete the online orientation, and then sign up for any open opportunity on the Project Calendar. You can search more than 100 options by project attributes, impact area, or county. Open projects in San Francisco in November and December include working with seniors at Canon Kip Senior Center, sprucing up the Conservatory of Flowers, helping at the Harbor House, and working with families at the Ronald McDonald House.



Like HandsOn Bay Area, this nonprofit connects volunteers with opportunities. But this Bay Area-based organization (with other branches in New York, Chicago, D.C., Minneapolis, and Seattle) adds a twist: "commitment-free volunteering" and post-event gatherings at restaurants or cafes, all of which appeals particularly to those in their 20s and 30s. Opportunities range anywhere from prepping outreach supplies for the homeless to ushering audience members during a special Berkeley Rep program. Or you can get involved on the ground level. As a 100 percent volunteer-run operation, One Brick can always use help with event management, PR and marketing, development and fundraising, and web design.

237 Kearny, SF. www.onebrick.org


This all-volunteer nonprofit’s mission is to save homeless and abandoned animals from euthanasia at overcrowded Bay Area shelters. Even if you can’t help by fostering a dog, you can support the organization by providing animal transportation, getting involved with outreach, helping to host a fundraising happy hour (a recent event featured free makeovers and spa pampering at the Body Shop in the Castro), working at weekend adoption fairs (held the first three Sundays of every month), or signing up for one of the many tasks it takes to keep such an operation running.

(415) 642-4786, www.rocketdogrescue.org

Drunk on holiday spirit



I have to admit it. I love Christmas. I don’t mean the day, or even the presents, though those both have their charm. But I love the whole damn holiday season and everything that comes with it. Little white lights wrapped around trees downtown, fake icicles dangling from apartment windows, plastic nativity scenes in storefronts and Muzak versions of "The Little Drummer Boy" playing in elevators. I like spray snow and real snow and cheap batting that’s meant to look like snow. Ribbons and dangling ornaments, train sets and Santa scenes, really sappy Christmas movies featuring washed-up TV stars. This time of year, I even like the mall.

I’m not sure who to blame this obsession on: My Jewish dad, who considered Christmas a national holiday and therefore only celebrated the season (not the reason)? My Christian agnostic mom, who could never find the right denomination but always found the best Christmas Eve candlelight service, complete with bell choir and carols? Or perhaps it’s something innate in me that made me love the cold weather and warm drinks, the dark nights and bright lights, finding it all comforting and safe and magical. There’s certainly an element of fantasy that’s consistently charmed me: as a kid, my favorite game of Pretend was called Tinsel Fairies – one whose garland outfits and Christmas Tree scenery rendered it purely seasonal. And now, my favorite game of Pretend is called Boyfriend at Christmas – a whimsical daydream that involves mistletoe, a fireplace, and that elusive creature: a man who likes this crap as much as I do.

Whatever the reason, while most people are gearing up for their "Christmas decorations in November?!?" complaints, I’m getting out my calendar to schedule two months of awesome. In fact, I attempted to make a spreadsheet of every holiday fair, festival, and destination I wanted to hit this year, but it turns out there are too many to fit into one calendar year. (Seriously, planners, what’s up with Dec. 5? Does everything have to happen the first weekend of the month?) Instead, I’ve compiled a list of those places, shows, and events that I simply cannot miss.


Best known as a drag bar, I’ve had my eye on this Hayes Valley watering hole for years, thanks to its Christmas tradition of drowning the place in Santa figurines (more than 800 of them) and twinkling lights. Add an enclosed smoking area, pool table, and amazing jukebox and it’s the perfect stop for a bit of holiday cheer any day of the week.

488 Hayes, SF. (415) 864-6672, www.marlenasbarsf.com

Union Square Ice Rink

Sure, there’s an outdoor ice skating rink at the Embarcadero too, but I prefer this one, situated beneath the giant tree amidst the glittering lights of San Francisco’s downtown. Despite the often annoying music, it’s one of the most beautiful spots to celebrate the holidays in the city. Now if only my pretend boyfriend would come with me and hold my hand&ldots;

Nov. 11-Jan. 18. Sun.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m. $4.50-$9.50 for 90 minute sessions. ($4-$5 for skate rentals.) 555 Pine, SF. (415) 781-2688, www.unionsquareicerink.com

Let it Snow!

As much as I love this season, even I get sick of the predictable storylines of the Christmas Carol/Nutcracker/Miracle on 34th Street trinity (and their endless adaptations). This year, I’m looking forward to watching the Un-Scripted Theater Company weave an entirely unique story, based on audience participation, and present it in spontaneous Broadway song-and-dance fashion.

Nov. 19-Dec. 19, except Nov. 21 and 26. 8 p.m., $8-$20. Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 and 8 p.m. SF Playhouse, Stage 2, 533 Sutter, SF. (415) 869-5384, www.un-scripted.com

Black Rock Artumnal Gathering

Considering that Christmas Camp was one of the first theme camps at Burning Man, it seems only fitting to ring in the season with a playa-related event. This gorgeous gala benefiting the Black Rock Arts Foundation – an organization that supports Burning Man-style art outside of Burning Man — features performances by Fou Fou HA! and Lucent Dossier, beats by Freq Nasty, and visuals by Shrine and Andrew Jones.

Nov. 20, dinner at 6 p.m., late entry at 9 p.m. $35-$200. Bently Reserve, 400 Sansome, SF. (415) 626-1248, blackrockarts.org

Dickens Fair

The endless iterations of Dickens’ Christmas tale might get stale (OK, fine. I’ll never tire of Bill Murray in Scrooged), but the festivity of the story’s setting never will. I can’t wait to don my Victorian finest (acquired from La Rosa on Haight Street) and get my Christmas geek on with dance parties, Christmas shops, holiday food and drinks, and hundreds of costumed players roaming winding lanes.

Nov. 27 and Sat.-Sun. through Dec. 20. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. $10-$22. Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, 2600 Geneva Ave, SF. (800) 510-1558, www.dickensfair.com

San Francisco Motorized Cable Car Holiday Lights Tour

So maybe we don’t have horse drawn carriages, but we do have those charming cable cars. Why not channel a West Coast version of Christmas in Central Park by grabbing a blanket and some roasted chestnuts and boarding festively-decorated public transportation for a tour of the city’s lights, including Fisherman’s Wharf, Polk Street Shops, the tree and menorah at Union Square, and stops to appreciate the Golden Gate Bridge?

Nov. 27-Dec. 15, Wed.-Sun., 5 and 7 p.m. Dec. 16-Jan. 3, 5 and 7 p.m. daily. $14-$24. Departs from either Fisherman’s Wharf or Union Square, www.buysanfranciscotours.com/tours/holiday_lights_tour_ccc.html

Women’s Building Celebration of Craftswomen

Who doesn’t love a good holiday crafts fair? Especially one that supports such a good cause. This four-day event features unique hand-made crafts and art pieces by more than 200 female American artists, all supplemented with live music, gourmet food, and a benefit silent auction.

Nov. 28-29, Dec. 5-6, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., $6.50-$12. Herbst Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, SF. (650) 615-6838, www.celebrationsofcraftwomen.org

Vandals Christmas Formal

The punk rock veterans host this year’s version of their legendary holiday show, where they’ll play nearly their entire Oi! To the World album, including (if we’re lucky) that heart-warming family classic "Christmas Time for My Penis." Now the only question is where to get a studded corsage.

Dec. 5, 8 p.m. $16 G.A.; $40.95 with dinner. Slim’s, 333 11th St., SF. www.slims-sf.com

Cantare Con Vivo Choral Concert

My mom has a Master’s in music, so it’s probably no surprise that I can’t make it through a holiday season without seeking out some classic carols. This year, I’ll forego Handel’s Messiah for this stunning 100-voice ensemble, accompanied by brass and organ.

Dec. 6, 3 – 5 p.m. $10-$40. First Presbyterian Church, 27th and Broadway, Oakl. (510) 836-0789, www.cantareconvivo.org

The Making of Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol

Author Darrell Van Citters discusses his book about the first-ever animated Christmas special, a ’60s classic that’s all but forgotten to new generations.
Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m., free. Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission, SF. (415) CAR-TOON, www.cartoonart.org

The only thing more delightful than the sight of hundreds of Santas drinking, dancing, and causing a rukus in public is being one of those Santas. Perhaps the best known and loved creation of the Cacophony Society, this annual bar crawl/flash mob/guerilla art piece has become one of my favorite holiday traditions (at least, the parts I can remember). Plus, as a walking and transportation tour led by volunteers, it’s a fantastic way to see parts of the city I’d rarely visit otherwise.
Dec. 12, times and locations TBA. www.santarchy.com

Dance-Along Nutcracker
This year sees Tchaikovsky’s characters translated through a Western lens with "Blazing Nutcrackers," a Wild West-themed participatory dance event with accompaniment by the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band. My plan? To channel Clara, by way of Mae West.
Dec. 12, 2:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. gala, Dec. 13, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. $16-$50. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 978-2787, www.dancealongnutcracker.org

MOCHA Makers’ Studio: Adult Art Night
Call it a throwback to my days doing Sunday School crafts (at any one of several churches), but there’s something appealing about learning to make paper – and then make holiday cards or 3-D shapes and sculptures – while enjoying beer, wine, and each other at this kids’ night for grown-ups.
Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m., $5. Museum of Children’s Art, 538 Ninth St., Oakl. (510) 465-8770, www.mocha.org

Carols in the Caves
For more than 20 years, David Auerbach – better known as The Improvisator – has been sharing the solstice spirit by playing his impressive bevy of instruments in natural caverns and wine cellars. Wondrous, reverent, and – especially during the audience participation part – fun, this is the event I’m perhaps looking forward to most. (But don’t tell the Vandals.)
Weekends Dec.19-Jan. 10. $40-$65. Various wineries. (707) 224-4222, www.carolsinthecaves.com

Have different taste than I do? (Apparently, that’s possible.) Check out our events, music, and stage listings throughout the holiday season. For information on tree lightings at places like city hall, check out www.sanfrancisco.com. And if you’re a fan of Christmas Tree Lanes, visit www.lightsofthevalley.com, a not-for-profit Website compiling information on more than 460 decorated homes in 105 cities, to be updated the day after Thanksgiving.

Merry mayhem



Though gamers will have plenty to choose from, 2009’s holiday shopping season is defined in part by the titles that won’t make it to store shelves in time. Starcraft II (Blizzard/Activision), Bioshock 2 (2K Games), and Mass Effect 2(Bioware/EA) have all been pushed into 2010, and the list of notable upcoming games reads more like a "best of the rest."

Assassin’s Creed II (Ubisoft)

Xbox360, PS3, PC

The first Assassin’s Creed took place in a Crusade-torn Holy Land, giving players control of a medieval master killer who used subterfuge and his considerable gymnastic talents to surprise and dispatch a number of deserving 12th-century tyrants. The sequel shifts the setting to Renaissance Italy, and would-be assassins will have full run of Venice, Rome, and Florence when they take command of Ezio, a wronged nobleman seeking acrobatic revenge. The series’ core mechanic — unfettered parkour-style urban exploration — will return, along with lovingly recreated environments and an expanded arsenal of weapons. Those who complained about the original’s repetitive structure have been placated, as the game promises a new, diversified mission system, and Ezio’s methods of assassination will be similarly varied, thanks in part to the participation of a young Leonardo da Vinci, who uses his engineering genius to help the historical hitman pwn noobs with scientific alacrity. (Now available)

Left 4 Dead 2 (Valve/EA)

Xbox360, PC

Valve touched off an Internet firestorm when it announced this title. The company has a long history of providing robust post-release support for its games, and fans of the original were outraged that they would have to pony up for a sequel so soon after the first Left 4 Dead hit shelves in November 2008. Though the embers of the debate still smolder, most of the naysayers have been swayed by the obvious attention paid to the forthcoming product, which features new characters, a new game mode, a creepy Southern-fried setting, and a wealth of new additions to the zombie-slaughter toolbox. The "AI Director" — a groundbreaking piece of technology that coordinates the actions of the shambling, brains-starved hordes — has also been completely overhauled. (Now available)

The Saboteur (Pandemic/EA)

Xbox360, PS3, PC

Even if you only have a passing affinity for video games, you’ve probably killed a Nazi or two at some point. World War II is notoriously well-worn territory, a fact that makes Pandemic’s unique approach all the more interesting. You play as Sean Devlin, an Irish ex-pat living in Paris during the German occupation. Initially neutral, Devlin’s loyalties are thrown in with the Free French when some of his friends are murdered, and he embarks on a mission of resistance and, well, sabotage. The game’s most interesting feature is its use of color: at the outset, neighborhoods living under the yoke of the jackboot are depicted in black-and-white, blossoming into full color the more your character’s actions harry the Third Reich. If Red Faction: Guerrilla (Volition/THQ) meets Grand Theft Auto (Rockstar) meets Medal of Honor (Various/EA) is a description of your dream game, consider the jackpot hit. (Dec. 8)

That’s a wrap



Everyone’s got one — that movie-freak friend or relative who’s able to hold court on everything from His Girl Friday (1940) to Next Friday (2000); dazzle the dinner table with obscure trivia and dead-on quotes; and is possessed of a memory that’s never met an unconquerable round of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon." What to do when this human Internet Movie Database pops up on your holiday shopping list? Read on for suggestions to please the cinematic fanatic in your life.

Because eggnog and terror are two great tastes that taste great together, why not treat a film fan to a big-screen unspooling of Black Christmas (1974 original, obviously — a true movie nerd would rather be choked by a candy cane than acknowledge the 2006 remake)? Thrillville’s Will the Thrill and Monica Tiki Goddess present the Bob Clark prank-caller classic at San Francisco’s Four Star (Dec. 3, with live music by Project Pimento) and San Jose’s Camera 3 Cinema (Dec. 10, with Rocket to Rio); visit www.thrillville.net for details.

Speaking of the Four Star, Lee Neighborhood Theatres (which also include the Marina and the Presidio) offer a variety of discount series tickets, gift certificates, and gift passes. You can also pick up an awesome Lee Neighborhood Theatres T-shirt ($8), with a design that reflects the mini-chain’s dedication to Asian cinema (learn more at www.lntsf.com). The Red Vic (www.redvicmoviehouse.com) offers a discount punch card — which sure would come in handy in early 2010, when first-run theaters insist on showing nothing but kid flicks and stale Oscar bait.

But what if your favorite geek isn’t local? If you must select a gift from afar, you might want to enlist a trusted ally to spy on his or her movie collection to make sure you don’t duplicate anything. (Of course, most stores will let you return or exchange items, in case you buy the wrong version of the Special Collector’s Limited Edition Set for Drooling Fiends Only.) It’s always best to tailor your purchase to the person’s particular interests (hint for horror heads: Sony just released Fred Dekker’s director’s cut of 1986’s Night of the Creeps on DVD and Blu-Ray!), but there are definitely some good options if you can’t determine a favored genre, director, or actor to aim for.

If you just won the lottery, Essential Arthouse: 50 Years of Janus Films is available for a mere $650 at www.criterion.com. The set comes with a 240-page book and sparkling transfers of enough essentials to call this "film school in a box." Those on tighter budgets (i.e., anyone who didn’t just win the lottery) can pick up individual DVDs of everything in the set; titles include Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949), Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries (1957), Federico Fellini’s La Strada (1954), Fritz Lang’s M (1931), and Roman Polanski’s Knife in the Water (1962).

More fodder for fans of the classics: Blu-Ray and DVD versions of Victor Fleming’s 1939 Gone With the Wind (under $50 on www.amazon.com), which come wrapped in velvet boxes with more than eight hours of new extras (including a doc on 1939, a golden year that also saw the release of Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz) and attendant bells and whistles like a reproduction of the program from the film’s original release. For the film noir fan who has everything (hint: Columbia Pictures just released some nifty bundles of restored films, like 1953’s The Big Heat; Sony put out a sweet Sam Fuller set with seven of his films), check out Daylight Noir: Raymond Chandler’s Imagined City (Charta Art Books), a moody book of photographs capturing gumshoe-friendly Los Angeles locations by Catherine "Daughter of Roger" Corman.

Seasons eatings



A man hath no better thing under the sun than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry. — Ecclesiastes 8:15

Writing about Christmas treats and festive beverages is dangerous territory. Locals are adamant about their favorite spot to score an authentic stollen, the most buttery sugar cookie, or the strongest hot toddy. So while I won’t claim to offer the most exhaustive list, the following spots are sure to whisk you through the madness of the holiday season with some semblance of sanity and satiation.


While there’s something about this time of year that inspires me to break out my whisk and apron, I also love what our local bakers and pastry chefs produce. Whether you’re looking for a treat to go with your coffee or want to contribute to the holiday table this year, these folks have got you covered in the seasonal sweets department. Let’s face it — they do it better than most of us can anyway.


There’s something to be said about a simple piece of pie, and nobody does seasonal slices better than Mission Pie. For Thanksgiving, it will feature pumpkin, apple, pear/cranberry, walnut (much like pecan but made with a sister nut), and a vegan apple with brandied raisins ($3.50/piece). Mission Pie is adamant about getting its fruits and flowers from local farms, so it only uses what’s in season. Later in the winter, the Mission District destination will feature desserts made with winter fruits, like my favorite: the bright, sharp, citrusy Meyer lemon — perfect with a cup of hot tea.

2901 Mission, SF. (415) 282-1500, www.missionpie.com


If traditional pie isn’t your bag, pastry chef Elizabeth Faulkner is your gal. Leave it to her to take a seasonal dessert like pie or a simple holiday cookie and turn it upside down. This year, Faulkner is planning her usual butter and lard crust for Thanksgiving pies (mmm, lard) filled with innovative flavors like apple and cheddar or a bourbon chocolate pecan ($25–$28) as well as her infamous pumpkin sage cheesecake ($30). And of course, a holiday at Citizen Cake wouldn’t feel right without the gingerbread Joes and Janes ($4) in festive bikini attire.

399 Grove, SF. (415) 861-2228, www.citizencake.com


The leftovers — and the in-laws — have come and gone. Hallelujah. Now look forward to a wintry season hunkering down with a fruitcake. I know, I know, fruitcake’s got a bad rap. Are you scared of those plastic tubs of pseudo-fruit with sticky green cherries? Me too. But bakers who do traditional fruitcakes don’t touch those. Instead you’ll find a variety of boozy fruits, citrus, warm spices, and nuts. What’s not to like about that? Arizmendhi does one of the most popular fruitcakes in town ($12). It’s smaller than your average loaf and made with dried apricot, papaya, pineapple, currants, and cherries, along with healthy doses of brandy, spices, and citrus. Noe Valley Bakery also makes a much-loved fruitcake, specifically an iced German Christmas stollen ($21). Owner Michael Gasson has updated an old family recipe that includes housemade candied orange peel, toasted almonds, fresh ground nutmeg, and lots of brandy. Much like a fine wine, fruitcakes get better with time (which is one reason they were so popular in pre-refrigeration days), so Gasson starts making these treats early to allow the flavors to ripen and mellow. For all you fruitcake skeptics out there, this is the year — and these are the places.

Arizmendhi Bakery, 1331 Ninth Ave., SF. (415) 566-3117, www.arizmendibakery.com; Noe Valley Bakery: 4073 24th St., SF. (415) 550-1405, www.noevalleybakery.com


After I’ve won you over with the fruitcake, you must believe me when I sing the praises of Masse’s Pastries for the best bouche in the Bay. The bouche de noel (or yule log), a dessert traditionally served in France during the holidays, consists of a rolled cake in the shape of a log filled with buttercream and topped with ganache. Not only does Masse’s make the loveliest bouche around, it does three of them. The most popular is the traditional mocha with almond roulade and coffee buttercream. Next up is the black forest with Bavarian cream and kirsch (cherry liqueur). The third option is a simple lemon topped with Italian meringue and seasonal fruits. The owners decorate the festive cakes with New Zealand red currants, imported brandied cherries, and the highest quality shaved chocolate. Prices range from $38–$55 depending on flavor and size. Now comes the difficult part: how to decide between the three options. The good news? It offers mini bouches ($4.50), so you can taste before you invest.

1469 Shattuck Ave., Berk. (510) 649-1004, www.massespastries.com

Drink …

There’s no time like the holiday season to splurge a little on cocktails. Push the PBRs to the back of the fridge and treat yourself to a warm, wintry drink or festive liquor concoction. The following spots will ease you into the yuletide spirit in the most delicious way. Who wouldn’t drink to that?


After lugging around shopping bags, groceries, bikes — you name it — kick back a few hot-spiced buttered rums ($5.50) at Trad’r Sams. The historic tiki bar opened in 1941, and while the drinks aren’t top shelf, they’re strong and consistent, like most things from that era. For this classic cold-weather drink, Sam’s bartenders use a special batter with top-secret ingredients and mix it with a healthy serving of rum and hot water. The bar itself is a little odd, a little kitschy, and more dive than date spot, but proven mastery of this delightfully warming beverage outweighs all that.

6150 Geary, SF. (415) 221-0773


Another warm holiday beverage that’ll help chase away worries and strife: the house cappuccino ($6) at Tosca. In reality, this drink is nothing like a cappuccino. It’s a brandy and hot chocolate concoction layered into sweet little glasses, which seems to pair perfectly with the dimly-lighted bar, its cozy red vinyl booths, and the jukebox playing Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. The stiff drinks and unpretentious bartenders add to the charm. And lucky you! Tosca serves this signature cocktail year-round.

242 Columbus, SF. (415) 986-9651


Bartender Ismael Robles doesn’t just make great drinks — he invents them. Recently he’s been making the Velvet Hive ($10), a variation on the hot toddy that’s served cold. Robles’ version is made with honey vodka, clove and citrus liqueurs, fresh lemon juice, and allspice dram. Even though this drink isn’t heated, there’s nothing like notes of honey, clove, and allspice to warm you right up.

398 Hayes, SF. (415) 551-1590, www.absinthe.com

Luna Park

During the winter months, you can’t walk past Luna Park without noticing the enticing aroma of the warm mulled wine ($7) that’s always simmering in a crockpot this time of year. Made with red wine, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and orange peel, this aromatic delight is available Thanksgiving through New Year’s.

694 Valencia, SF. (415) 553-8584, www.lunaparksf.com

Be Merry

After you’ve had your fair share of hot buttered rum and gingerbread people, we’re betting that being merry won’t be far out of reach. But in case you need a little guidance, here’s our tip: grab a friend or loved one — or 10 — and introduce them to the delights mentioned above. The best way to guarantee good cheer is to spread it.

Something absurd you may have heard



THEATER The Bald Soprano and A Body of Water, two very different plays, share a strange symmetry. Both feature a married couple with no recollection whatsoever of their longstanding daily relationship who gingerly grope toward mutual recognition.

Cutting Ball Theater’s slick production of Eugene Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano clocks in at a breezy and laugh-filled 70 minutes. Artistic director Rob Melrose’s staging is exactingly precise yet nimble enough to seem almost carefree. That dovetails nicely with Ionesco’s text — offered here in Melrose’s own fresh and astute translation — whose surreal linguistic contortions famously grew from the playwright’s attempt to learn English from the usual textbooks and their usual absurdities: "You are my husband, Mr. Smith. I am your wife, Mrs. Smith. We live in London. We had braised beef shanks for dinner. I wear my hat outside but not inside." Things like that. I don’t know about you, but people who talk this tediously are something of a perverse turn on. And so it was for Ionesco, onetime ESL hopeful, whom it’s all too easy to imagine gleefully holed up in language lab, under a sweaty pair of bulky headphones, tittering shamelessly to himself and getting a big idea.

The idea starts with a Mr. and Mrs. Smith of London (David Sinaiko and Paige Rogers). They get a visit from the Martins (Caitlyn Louchard and Donell Hill), who upon being left alone together become blank slates to one another and must painstakingly reacquaint themselves. An upstart maid (Anjali Vashi) and a boyishly enthusiastic fire captain (Derek Fischer) also make memorable contribution to the mix. The plot is about as complex and meaningful as one you might find on Sesame Street, but it’s just this lack of semantic sense that makes the play enduringly provoking and anxiously funny.

Cast and director ground the play’s giddy, unhinged quality in bright, highly articulate, physically taut comedic performances, set on designer Michael Locher’s swank orange-toned living room as if collapsed onto the glossy page of a magazine. Culminating in deftly choreographed mayhem, as all spout non sequiturs and literally bounce off the walls, Cutting Ball’s smart showmanship finds just the right visual and gestural corollaries to Ionesco’s wonderful linguistic somersaults.

A Body of Water is a 2005 work by American playwright Lee Blessing, presented by Spare Stage. A man named Moss (James Allen Brewer) and a woman named Avis (Holly Silk) confront each other cordially in bathrobes one morning in a remote lakeside house, and proceed to puzzle out who each one is and the exact nature of their relationship. Before long, a young woman named Wren (Halsey Varady) arrives. They suspect she may be their daughter, but who knows? Moss and Avis are wary of appearing completely clueless, and thus resist asking obvious questions. Soon, though, Wren takes dramatic charge of the situation, leveling a series of competing "back stories" at the couple with something between sorrowful exasperation and sadistic delight.

Funny at moments but generally darker and more sinister in tone, A Body of Water — decently but somewhat haltingly acted under direction of Stephen Drewes — starts out a little like Ionesco and quickly veers toward Harold Pinter. Indeed, Blessing’s fraught exploration of memory, of our discrete and linked identities, and of attendant power plays in close quarters are probably too reminiscent of Pinter, since they never really do him justice. Midway through, the play’s drama strains under its own premise and an increasingly tedious set of reversals, and begins to founder.

But Spare Stage’s venturing into Blessing’s Body of Water reveals starkly what makes the humor in Soprano so unnerving and successful: language is the ground beneath our sense of identity. Ionesco’s big idea was to make everyday language nonsensical enough to become transparent in both its function and its inadequacy. In both plays, with differing degrees of success, a crisis in the ability to name, and therefore recognize ourselves, points to a miraculous and precarious fact: as persons we may talk the talk, but we walk on water.


Through Dec. 12

Thurs.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun, 5 p.m., $15–$30

Exit on Tayor, 277 Taylor, SF




Fri/20-Sat/21, 8 p.m.; Sun/22, 7 p.m., $18-24

Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF


Friends forever



SONIC REDUCER We can’t all cozy up like Plant and Krauss, Timberlake and Timbaland. Fantasy jam sessions sometimes remain just that, as Slash found out when Jack White rejected the ex-Guns slinger’s request for a guest turn, but, hey, you can dream: Animal Collective’s Panda Bear paired with Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste — bear with me — or Droste coupled with Dirty Projectors’ David Longstreth. Sure, they’re friends now, but chums have been known to kill each other.

And sometimes the daydream turns into a tepid ho-hum — as is the case of Them Crooked Vultures, a very, very promising supergroup on paper, composed of guitarist-vocalist Josh Homme, Dave Grohl on drums and backing vocals, and John Paul Jones on bass, keyboards, and backing vocals. Instead, despite likable if ickily-titled jams like the Iron Maiden-ish "Caligulove," the power trio’s new self-titled Interscope long-player just comes off like vaguely North African-flavored, watered-down Queens of the Stone Age, feeding on freeze-dried corpses of Zep and other AOR kin. At least the Vultures have named themselves well. Can I get another flavor of crunchy guitar, p’weeze?

Then you have bandmates — names all up there in the marquee — who might not even know each other, really, yet somehow stick it out for a decade. Chalk it up to "Young Folks" — or Swedish stoicism.

Peter Bjorn and John sound like they’re pretty much adhered for life: the threesome celebrates its tenth birthday with two shows at Great American Music Hall, Nov. 19 and 20, just the latest in a series of special soirees that have included guests like Spank Rock and Andrew WK and whistling contests.

No, they’re not overnight wonders and, yes, Bjorn Yttling has known Peter Moren for 18 years. Still, Yttling sounds a bit shocked when I ask him if, say, the cunning, jittery, almost-Afropop-hued title track of this year’s minimal synthy Living Thing (Almost Gold) is about one, or more, of the Peter Bjorn and Johns coming out. How else to interpret: "We didn’t do it together, and now is it too late? /It’s pretty tight around the corners and I no longer have your taste /What is it about a friendship that always keeps the closet closed? /But I can tell it’s dusty in here /So I don’t even want to think about yours."

"Oh, wow," he says of Moren’s tune. "I’m not sure if that’s about that. I think it’s about the band, the way we are when we work together, so it becomes something more than three people — it’s something else."

Reading the song Yttling’s way uncovers those not-so-fantasy tensions — coupled with a gimlet-eyed honesty displayed on baldly anxious numbers like "It Don’t Move Me" and "Lay It Down" — that give the band a depth that perhaps other Swedish popsters lack. And really, Yttling, who has produced and written songs for Lykke Li, sees Living Thing overall as "about moving onto other things and not being so stuck in the past about stuff. ‘It Don’t Move Me’ is about stuff that touched you before and doesn’t move you at all, doesn’t affect you anymore, and you get scared about that, but you got to move on because there will be new stuff that will touch your heart later."

A few things, however, remain the same, opines Yttling by phone from Toronto:

(A) "Rock ‘n’ roll is better live than on album, and electronic music is better on album than live — if you’re not on pills maybe."

(B) "We’re not a jamming band. We don’t sit around the rehearsal space forever and smoke dope and bang out an E minor riff."

(C) As far as songwriting goes, "We try to be as dancey as possible and at same time make good narrative songs. It’s tricky when you like a lot of styles — you gotta try to do what you like."

(D) Constant touring isn’t an issue if "you’ve always got your Nintendo and passport. Always ask for Internet code when you check into hotel, otherwise you have to go down or call. Also use the in-dining service if you’re in a hurry," though, he observes, "it’s more of a Peter thing to walk around and almost miss the show."

(E) And as for Niagara Falls, which Yttling just eyeballed for the first time: "They’re on 24/7. It’s weird."


Thurs/19-Fri/20, 9 p.m., $21–$23

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF



Thurs/19, 8 p.m., $49.50

Fox Theater

1807 Telegraph, Oakl


Psychic Dream Astrology



March 21-April 19

Your sign governs pioneering, and you are full of grand ideas and the energy needed to carry them out. You are not known for excellent timing, though, and that’s no accident, Aries! Everything, right away, is not a timetable — it’s compulsion. Don’t allow your ego to compel you into action. Iinstead, move at a pace you can handle emotionally.


April 20-May 20

Feeling anxious and overwhelmed is sometimes unavoidable, but other times giving in to those emotions can be an inconvenient and masochistic form of escapism. If you can balance your blah needs, like paying the bills and charging your phone, with your needs for love and creativity, you may find that you’re more stressed but less anxious. Deal with the real.


May 21-June 21

Staying focused on the good stuff is awesome, but only if it doesn’t require you to repress your fears and worries. Right now, what you resist will persist like a MF, so be willing to deal constructively with your life. Instead of fretting or hiding, make one list of all your concerns, then another of what you can do about them. Let go of the rest for now.


June 22-July 22

You are en route to major and deep changes, and there’s no place like home. The meaningful nature of your emotional transitions may be forcing everything else to slow down or take a back seat, but that’s OK. Find your inner sanctum by catching up with your inner recluse.


July 23-Aug. 22

Investigate the line that exists between being foolhardy and not being fear-driven. You have some choices to make, and no matter what, it’s essential that you be honest with yourself about your motives. Don’t pretend you’re paying back your debts on principle when you just don’t want to see zeros in your account.


Aug. 23-Sept. 22

How can you have such strong yet frail shoulders, dear Virgo? You take on all of the world’s ills and carry them like Atlas with his ball. You can’t fix it, or will it away, Tough Guy. Take a leap of faith and trust that once you’ve done your part, things will work out on their own. Stop hitting yourself with that worry stick.


Sept. 23-Oct. 22

Don’t let cloudiness slow you down. You may find that your thinking has gotten a bad case of the fuzzies, like the SF fog has spread into your noggin. But don’t fret. This too, like the fog, will pass. Start something new or reinject energy into your recent projects and let the unknown in your life clarify itself when the time is right.


Oct. 23-Nov. 21

You’re trying to make a decision by rattling the magic 8 ball or reading your horoscope. Don’t do it! This week, make decisions for yourself. Take all the advice you can from oracles, friends, and strangers, but in the end, you alone are responsible for you. Intuition is awesome, but without a clear process of evaluation, it’s likely to lead you astray.


Nov. 22-Dec. 21

When did you start doubting yourself so much? You are poised to affect change in a key way and you’ve got all you need to pull it off. Your energy is high and you’ve got skills. But your worries are throwing off your sense of timing, and that only brings more to fret over. Consult with your friends for a reality check.


Dec. 22-Jan. 19

Jeanette Winterson said it best when she wrote:"You play, you win; you play, you lose. You play." This is a time where the most important thing is to stay in the game and not give up. You’re struggling with a heavy heart and negative expectations. Don’t jockey for power or accept defeat. Instead, find a sense of humor about your situation and see what there is to be learned from it.


Jan. 20-Feb. 18

Sometimes you’ve just gotta pucker up and drink the lemonade from all those lemons life has handed you. There’s no deal to be struck with the fates. If there is an unpleasant reality that you’ve been writhing away from, it’s time to deal. Quit evading and wishing for things to be different, pal. You are so effective once to get to it.


Feb. 19-March 20

You are ready to take a new course of action. It’s all about how you get where you’re going, not the destination itself. If you’re trying to lose weight, don’t focus on the numbers. Instead focus on why you eat what you do. Motive is everything. Understanding your actions will help you to change them permanently.

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

Our Weekly Picks




The Walworth Farce

Ever since his 1996 teen psychopath romance, Disco Pigs, Edna Walsh has been delivering unnerving plays of unusual verve, full of whimsy and deep dysfunction, crazy Gaelic cadences, the wit and high lyricism of the low of brow. We don’t see enough of it over here, which is all the more reason to catch Druid Ireland theater company’s production of Walsh’s The Walworth Farce, courtesy of Cal Performances. Not since Joe Orton have the traditional outlines of this classic comedic form been so over-amped and even over the line, downright weird and sort of dangerous. You are correct: this is in-your-farce theater. (Robert Avila)

8 p.m. (continues through Sun/22), $72

Zellerbach Hall

Bancroft at Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus, Berk.

(510) 642-9988




Second Annual Erotic Art Exhibition Tour

Featuring 120 international artists, body painting, live music, and a fashion show with more nip than slip, the Erotic Art Exhibition Tour promises to be much sexier than shopping for tofurkey and stuffing that doesn’t taste like puke. This year’s ARTundressed theme is "Illumination," and it presents the winning artists from the Erotic Showcase 2009 competition. Indulge your voyeuristic tendencies and benefit the American Foundation for AIDS Research by attending Saturday night’s Silent Art Auction. Then grab something white, red, or leathery, and head to the thematic "The Good, the Bad, and the Kinky" after party. (Lorian Long)

6 p.m. (through Sat/21), $45

California Modern Art Gallery

1035 Market, SF

(415) 716-8661



Justin Quinn: "Keep Out This Frost"

In an obsessive, Oulipian gesture, artist Justin Quinn constrains himself to the oft-used and abused letter E in his second solo show at Cain Schulte Gallery. Rather than playing off the letter’s relation to the party drug, top of the optometrist’s eye chart, or various corporate logos, Quinn delegates his E‘s to transutf8g the chapters of Melville’s Moby Dick. In substituting the particular for the ubiquitous, Quinn makes up for lost meaning through charged typographical flair that takes on a narrative all its own. If this isn’t enough Moby Dick for you, you can also check out a group show of visual responses to the classic at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. (Spencer Young)

Continuous through Dec. 23

6 p.m., artist talk at 7 p.m.

Cain Schulte Gallery

714 Guerrero, SF

(415) 543 1550




The Finns are curators of the strange, adapting the metal conventions of their Scandinavian neighbors and adding a good deal of idiosyncrasy. Helsinki’s Ensiferum embodies this trend, churning out martial, aggressive death metal augmented by keyboard flourishes, Ennio Morricone worship, harmonized vocals, and an army of folky, epic melodies. Their new album From Afar (Spinefarm) features the band at its grandiose best, and the war-kilted warriors prove themselves equally adept at atmospheric arrangement and straightforward, razor-wire riffing. Billed as the "Tour From Afar," this is their first headlining run stateside — prepare for battle. (Ben Richardson)

With Hypocrisy, Blackguard, Lazarus A.D.

8pm, $22

DNA Lounge

375 11th St., SF




Adam Savage: "My Dodo — History and Personal Reflections"
Magical werewolves, flightless fairies, and the raphus cucullatus (dodo bird)? Once thought to be a farcical myth, the extinct dodo is now fondly recalled — not just by Lewis Carroll fanatics, but by Mythbusters maven Adam Savage, an official model-maker of dodo bird skeletons. At this lecture by Savage, audience members are free to filch tidbits of information about this once illustrious and very real avian phenom. (Jana Hsu)

7–9 p.m., free

The Bone Room

1573 Solano, Berk.

(510) 526-5252




Down and Dirty Dance Series

The name of Dance Mission Theater’s latest dance series is somewhat hyperbolic, because the 11 scheduled companies aren’t known for being particularly subversive. But the series itself is more than welcome. A showcase primarily for local artists that doesn’t force them to go through an onerous vetting process is a fabulous idea. Dance Mission’s request was as simple as can be: explain in 500 words or less why you should be in the series. Three companies fill the first of five weekends. Christy Funsch is a tough thinker and independent dancer whose White Girls for Black Power is draws from Malcolm X and grrrl rock. The French-born, New York City resident and butoh artist Vangeline also brings feminist principles to her visually seductive dances. Dance Elixir will show rep and new work, informed by choreographer Leyya Tawil’s recent sojourn in the Middle East. (Rita Felciano)

8 p.m. (Funsch and Vangeline); Sat/21, 8 p.m. (Funsch and Vangeline); Sun, 6 p.m. (Vangeline and Elixer); $15–$18

Dance Mission Theater

3316 24th St., SF

(415) 273-4633



Naked Lunch 50th Anniversary Weekend

Sadly, my only Naked Lunch experience thus far has been an encounter with David Cronenberg’s 1991 film adaptation, at age 13. Sadder still, I only saw the scrambled version, because Showtime didn’t come with basic cable. I did, however, watch it in its distorted, striated entirety because — beyond its suggestive, sexy title — it offered to threaten my worldview. And threaten it did: bugs and vacuum cleaners and typewriters have never quite looked the same. The 20 participants, including DJ Spooky and Stephen Elliott, within this commemorative weekend of critical analysis and readings likely have more sophisticated accounts of William S. Burroughs and his seminal work. Still, I anticipate loads of raunchy debauchery. (Young)

7 p.m. (continues Sat/21–Sun/22 at other venues), free

San Francisco Art Institute Lecture Hall

800 Chestnut, SF

(415) 362-8193





San Francisco Hip-Hop DanceFest

You’d think that after a decade, the San Francisco Hip-Hop DanceFest would have settled into a comfortable, complacent groove. Not so — this amazing event stretches ever wider to pull in new companies, adding personal and national perspectives. For the first time, a mixed-ability company, Ill-Abilities, is representing. New acts are traveling from South Korea, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Norway. The crews’ names include Last For One, Deep Down Dopeizm, Plague, Bad Taste Cru, Smash Bro’z Hip Hop, and B-Boy Spaghetti. Nothing wrong with their verbal imagination, now let’s see how it translates to kinetic energy. More than welcome back, of course, are "old timers" Mop Top, DS Players, Soul Force Dance Company, and Funkanometry. (Rita Felciano)

8 p.m.; also Sat/21, 8 p.m.;

Sun/22., 2 and 7 p.m.; $35

Palace of Fine Arts

3301 Lyon, SF




San Francisco Bicycle Ballet

What exactly is a bicycle ballet? Find out tonight by witnessing the San Francisco Bicycle Ballet, a team of synchronized bike riders best viewed from above. Founded in 1996, SFBB has kept its pedals to the metal, or at least some forms of rock music, thanks to its own band, the Spoke Tones. Tonight’s performance also includes the bands Molten Grog, Charbo, and Chump. (Hsu)

8 p.m., $8 (free vegan spread)

Dogpatch Saloon

2496 3rd Street, SF



Tim Miller: Lay of the Land

You wouldn’t call it straight talk exactly, but queer performance artist Tim Miller has a talent and penchant for speaking his mind. Internationally known for his vigorously, hilariously, even enchantingly outspoken solo performance pieces, his concerns remain socially activist and largely American (he’s even one of the "NEA Four," artists targeted for funding assassination by D.C. wing nuts, surely worth a patriot merit badge if not a rent check). His latest, Lay of the Land, is a "state of the queer union," a clarion call to arms and legs and other appendages, and — presently on tour across said land — it touches down at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts this weekend. (Avila)

8 p.m. (also Sat/21, 8 p.m.), $25

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum

701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-2787




Episco Disco: Bronze and Kamau Amu Patton

Apparently Bronze isn’t being ironic by labeling itself "religious" on its MySpace page. Bands usually sidestep genre affiliation on MySpace by claiming no style or, through the safe security of self-effacement, a ragtag of disparate and insincere stripes like "melodramatic/tropical/metal." But given that this show is at a cathedral — a legitimate designator of religion — I’m guessing Bronze’s devotion is for real. Sure, it could all be part of its shtick, or a joke gone too far, but anyone who’s seen them play knows they command reverence. With slippery psychedelic grooves that faithfully and graciously point to Silver Apples and visuals by Goldie winner Kamau Amu Patton, there’s potential here for raised arms and hallelujahs, granted those pews get filled. (Young)

7–10 p.m., free

Grace Cathedral

1100 California, SF

(415) 749 6300




Thao with The Get Down Stay Down

On the title track of Know Better Learn Faster (Kill Rock Stars), Thao Nguyen lustfully (and more than a little desperately) sings, "I need you to be /better than me /you need me to do /better than you." Nguyen’s romantic tendencies involve a kind of self-loathing that only she can make precious with lyrics like daggers thrown at a shiny backdrop of plucky guitars, blaring horns, and achy vocals. "What am I /just a body in your bed?" she asks with a punk’s sneer on "Body," before admitting "Won’t you reach for the body in your bed?" This is music to listen to when you’re sleeping with someone you shouldn’t be sleeping with. But disastrous love tastes a lot sweeter when you have a soundtrack like Thao with the Get Down Stay Down to listen to as you drive over train tracks in the middle of the night, telling yourself you’re not going back, and then turning around at the next stoplight. (Long)

With the Portland Cello Project, David Schultz

9 p.m., $17

The Independent

628 Divisadero, SF





Pirates are honorary heathens, and none are more worthy of honor than Scottish pirate-metal sensations Alestorm. The pick of the Heathenfest litter, the Perth-based band has terrorized landlubbers the world over with their freebooting chops and foc’sle-ready melodies, the latter courtesy of singer/keyboardist Christopher Bowes, who wields a mighty keytar to get the peg-legs tapping. 2009’s Black Sails at Midnight (Napalm) made good on the promise shown by debut offering Captain Morgan’s Revenge (Napalm), and there is surely more plunder in store for the quartet as they ply the high seas and highways of the land. (Richardson)

With Eluveitie, Belphegor, Vreid, Kivimetsan Druidi

$22, 7:30

DNA Lounge

375 11th, SF





Bo Dixon in the Flesh

Hair has gotten a bad rap during certain eras of gay porn, but it’s been back with a vengeance in recent years, as baby-oil-slick twinks began sharing shelf and site spaces with men with an "edge." While Bo Dixon was a skinny toothsome kid at his college graduation, more recently he’s proven that hairiness is sexy. This former COLT Studio model is a serious bodybuilder, and he’ll be showing off his bronzed, fleshy, hairy strength at a calendar-signing for the brand-new Bo Dixon: Reinvented calendar. (Hsu)

7:30 p.m., free

A Different Light

489 Castro, SF

(415) 431-0891


The Guardian listings deadline is two weeks prior to our Wednesday publication date. To submit an item for consideration, please include the title of the event, a brief description of the event, date and time, venue name, street address (listing cross streets only isn’t sufficient), city, telephone number readers can call for more information, telephone number for media, and admission costs. Send information to Listings, the Guardian Building, 135 Mississippi St., SF, CA 94107; fax to (415) 487-2506; or e-mail (paste press release into e-mail body — no text attachments, please) to listings@sfbg.com. We cannot guarantee the return of photos, but enclosing an SASE helps. Digital photos may be submitted in jpeg format; the image must be at least 240 dpi and four inches by six inches in size. We regret we cannot accept listings over the phone.

Film listings


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


*Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans See "Call of the Weird." (2:01) Embarcadero, Shattuck, Smith Rafael.

*Black Dynamite A lot of movies have spoofed in passing the cliches and excesses of 70s blaxploitation movies. But this collaboration between director Scott Sanders and coscenarist-star Michael Jai White makes you realize they only scratched the surface. It takes real love to meticulously reproduce not just the obvious retro pimp-wear, but every cheesy 70s graphic, wah-wah soundtrack riff, arbitrary plot development, and horrendous interior decoration tip the genre once offered up with a straight face. The brawny White plays our titular hero, a one-man ghetto militia out to avenge the inevitable death of the inevitable kid brother, in the process naturally exposing The Man’s latest heinous plot to keep the Black Man down. Between dealings with the CIA, the mob, pushers, narcs, and righteous soul sisters, B.D. of course finds plenty of time to satisfy a rainbow coalition of topless foxes. (There are also sidekicks like Arsenio Hall as Tasty Freeze and comedian Tommy Davison as Cream Corn.) Every ludicrous yet deadpan detail here is perfect, such that you could take any few seconds here and pass them off as snipped from a real grindhouse relic circa 1975. It’s in the bigger picture that Black Dynamite eventually flags a bit — when the movie ought to be getting its second wind, instead it begins to run out of steam, with a White House finale that’s just too silly. Nonetheless, this is easily one of the year’s best comedies. After inexplicably bombing in limited theatrical release elsewhere last month, it’s finally reaching the Bay Area in midnight-only showings, and is not to be missed. (1:28) Castro, Grand Lake. (Harvey)

The Blind Side When the New York Times Magazine published Michael Lewis’ article "The Ballad of Big Mike" — which he expanded into the 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game —nobody could have predicated the cultural windfall it would spawn. Lewis told the incredible story of Michael Oher — a 6’4, 350-pound 16-year-old, who grew up functionally parentless, splitting time between friends’ couches and the streets of one of Memphis’ poorest neighborhoods. As a Sophomore with a 0.4 GPA, Oher serendipitously hitched a ride with a friend’s father to a ritzy private school across town and embarked on an unbelievable journey that led him into a upper-class, white family; the Dean’s List at Ole Miss; and, finally, the NFL. The film itself effectively focuses on Oher’s indomitable spirit and big heart, and the fearless devotion of Leigh Anne Tuohy, the matriarch of the family who adopted him (masterfully played by Sandra Bullock). While the movie will delight and touch moviegoers, its greatest success is that it will likely spur its viewers on to read Lewis’ brilliant book. (2:06) Cerrito, Grand Lake, Presidio. (Daniel Alvarez)

Defamation See "What’s Hate Got to Do With It?" (1:33) Roxie.

*The House of the Devil Ti West’s The House of the Devil is a retro thrillfest quite happy to sacrifice the babysitter to the Dark Lord. "Based on true unexplained events" (uh-huh), the buzzed-about indie horror has fanboy casting both old school (Dee Wallace, Mary Woronov, Tom Noonan — all performing seriously rather than campily) and new (AJ Bowen of 2007’s The Signal and mumblecore regular Greta Gerwig). Its heroine (Jocelin Donahue), a 1980 East Coast collegiate sophomore desperate for rent cash so she can escape her dorm roomie’s loud nightly promiscuity, signs on for a baby- (actually, grandma-) sitting gig advertised on telephone poles. For tonight. During a lunar eclipse. Bad move. Devil takes its time, springing nothing lethal until nearly halfway through. Its period setting allows for ultratight jeans, feathered hair, rotary dialing, a synth-New Wavey score, and other potentially campy elements the film manages to render respectfully appreciative rather than silly. Ultimately, it isn’t significantly better than various fine indie horrors of recent vintage and various nationality that went direct to DVD. (Quality, let alone originality, aren’t necessarily a commercial pluses in this genre.) But it is dang good, and that cuts it above most current theatrical horror releases. (1:33) Lumiere. (Harvey)

*The Messenger Ben Foster cut his teeth playing unhinged villains in Alpha Dog (2006) and 3:10 to Yuma (2007), but he cements his reputation as a promising young actor with a moving, sympathetic performance in director Oren Moverman’s The Messenger. Moverman (who also co-authored the script) is a four-year veteran of the Israeli army, and he draws on his military experience to create an intermittently harrowing portrayal of two soldiers assigned to the U.S. Army’s Casualty Notification Service. Will Montgomery (Foster) is still recovering from the physical and psychological trauma of combat when he is paired with Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson), a by-the-book Captain whose gruff demeanor and good-old-boy gallows humor belie the complicated soul inside. Gut-wrenching encounters with the families of dead soldiers combine with stark, honest scenes that capture two men trying to come to grips with the mundane horrors of their world, and Samantha Morton completes a trio of fine acting turns as a serene Army widow. (1:45) Albany, Smith Rafael. (Richardson)

Planet 51 In this animated adventure, Earth astronauts realize they’re the aliens when they visit a populated planet elsewhere in the galaxy. (1:31) Oaks.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon The one with the werewolf. (2:10) Cerrito, Grand Lake, Presidio.

*William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe A middle-class suburban lawyer radicalized by the Civil Rights era, Kunstler became a hero of the left for his fiery defenses of the draft-card-burning Catonsville Nine, the Black Panthers, the Chicago Twelve, and the Attica prisoners rioting for improved conditions, and Native American protestors at Wounded Knee in 1973. But after these "glory days," Kunstler’s judgment seemed to cloud while his thirst for "judicial theatre" and the media spotlight. Later clients included terrorists, organized-crime figures, a cop-killing drug dealer, and a suspect in the notorious Central Park "wilding" gang rape of a female jogger –- unpopular causes, to say the least. "Dad’s clients gave us nightmares. He told us that everyone deserves a lawyer, but sometimes we didn’t understand why that lawyer had to be our father" says Emily Kunstler, who along with sister Sarah directed this engrossing documentary about their late father. Growing up under the shadow of this larger-than-life "self-hating Jew" and "hypocrite" –- as he was called by those frequently picketing their house –- wasn’t easy. Confronting this sometimes bewildering behemoth in the family, Disturbing the Universe considers his legacy to be a brave crusader’s one overall –- even if the superhero in question occasionally made all Gotham City and beyond cringe at his latest antics. (1:30) Opera Plaza, Shattuck. (Harvey)


Amelia Unending speculation surrounds the fate of aviator Amelia Earhart, who, with navigator Fred Noonan, disappeared in 1937 over the Pacific while attempting to circumnavigate the globe. However, Mira Nair’s biopic Amelia clarifies at least one fact: that Earhart (played by Hilary Swank) was a free-spirited freedom-loving lover of being free. We learn this through passages of her writing intoned in voice-over; during scenes with publisher and eventual husband George Putnam (Richard Gere); and via wildlife observations as she flies her Lockheed Electra over some 22,000 miles of the world. Not much could diminish the glory of Earhart’s achievements in aviation, particularly in helping open the field to other female pilots. And Swank creates the impression of a charming, intelligent, self-possessed woman who manages to sidestep many of fame’s pitfalls while remaining resolute in her lofty aims. She’s also slightly unknowable in her cheery, near-seamless virtue, and the film’s adoring depiction, with its broad, heavy strokes, at times inspires a different sort of restlessness than the kind that compels Earhart to take flight. Amelia is structured as a series of flashbacks in which the aviator, while circling the earth, retraces her life –- or rather, the highlights of her career in flying, her marriage to Putnam, and her affair with Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor), another champion of aviation (and the father of author Gore). And this, too, begins to feel lazily repetitive, as we return and return again to that cockpit to stare at a doomed woman as she stares emotively into the wild blue yonder. (1:51) Elmwood. (Rapoport)

Art and Copy Doc maker Doug Pray (1996’s Hype!, 2001’s Scratch, 2007’s Surfwise) uses the mid-twentieth century’s revolution in advertising to background an absorbing portrait of the industry’s leading edge, with historical commentary, philosophical observations, and pop-psych self-scrutiny by some of the rebel forces and their descendants (including locals Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein). We see the ads that made a permanent dent in our consciousness over the past five decades. We hear conference-room tales of famous campaigns, like "Got Milk?" and "I Want My MTV." And during quieter interludes, stats on advertising’s global cultural presence drift on-screen to astonish and unnerve. Lofty self-comparisons to cave painters and midwives may raise eyebrows, but Pray has gathered some of the industry’s brighter, more engaging lights, and his subjects discuss their métier thoughtfully, wittily, and quite earnestly. There are elisions in the moral line some of them draw in the process, and it would have been interesting to hear, amid the exalted talk of advertising that rises to the level of art, some philosophizing on where all this packaging and selling gets us, in a branding-congested age when it’s hard to deny that breakneck consumption is having a deleterious effect on the planet. Instead the film occasionally veers in the direction of becoming an advertisement for advertising. Still, Art and Copy complicates our impressions of a vilified profession, and what it reveals about these creatives’ perceptions of their vocation (one asserts that "you can manufacture any feeling that you want to manufacture") makes it worth watching, even if you usually fast-forward through the ads. (1:30) Roxie. (Rapoport)

*The Box In recent interviews, Donnie Darko (2001) director Richard Kelly has sounded like he’s outright begging to go Hollywood with The Box. But try as he might (and the horribly cheesy trailer does try to puff up this dread-imbued, downbeat thriller into the stuff of big-box blockbuster numbers), Kelly can’t stop himself from making a movie that rises above its intentions — and its trashy entertainment value. Norma (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur (James Marsden) seem like a perfect, beautiful couple, until the cracks begin to quickly appear in their sporty, well-groomed facade: the victim of a girlhood accident, Norma has a startling masochistic streak, while NASA engineer and would-be astronaut Arthur is eager to channel his interest in exploring outer space toward mysteries closer to home: a box that suddenly appears, courtesy of the maimed, besuited Arlington Stewart (Frank Langella). Press the button and someone will die — but the couple will receive one million dollars. Pointing to the existential parable of No Exit like a pretentious, AP-course-loaded high-schooler, The Box also touches on such memorable genre-busters as Kiss Me Deadly (1955) with its Pandora’s box conceit, but more obviously it’s boxed in and stuck in the ’70s, fascinated by the fear, loathing, and paranoia generated by conspiracy-obsessed flicks like The Parallax View (1974) and Three Days of the Condor (1975). Those films reveled in a romantic fatalism and radiating all-encompassing negativity that had its roots in the conformity-fearing Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and found its amplified, arguable apotheosis in the body horror of David Cronenberg. The analog synth score by Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Regine Chassagne and Final Fantasy’s Owen Pallett also cues memories of Cronenberg, while the soft-focus shots of Cameron Diaz with Charlie’s Angels hair and well-chosen songs like "Bell Bottom Blues" conjure a mood that overcomes narrative potholes as big as the Scanners-like gap in Arlington Stewart’s face. (1:56) 1000 Van Ness, SF Center. (Chun)

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

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

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

Disney’s A Christmas Carol (1:36) 1000 Van Ness, Sundance Kabuki.

*An Education The pursuit of knowledge — both carnal and cultural — are at the tender core of this end-of-innocence valentine by Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig (who first made her well-tempered voice heard with her 2000 Dogme entry, Italian for Beginners), based on journalist Lynn Barber’s memoir. Screenwriter Nick Hornby breaks further with his Peter Pan protagonists with this adaptation: no man-boy mopers or misfits here. Rather, 16-year-old schoolgirl Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is a good girl and ace student. It’s 1961, and England is only starting to stir from its somber, all-too-sober post-war slumber. The carefully cloistered Jenny is on track for Oxford, though swinging London and its high-style freedoms beckon just around the corner. Ushering in those freedoms — a new, more class-free world disorder — is the charming David (Peter Sarsgaard), stopping to give Jenny and her cello a ride in the rain and soon proffering concerts and late-night suppers in the city. He’s a sweet-faced, feline outsider: cultured, Jewish, and given to playing fast and loose in the margins of society. David can see Jenny for the gem she is and appreciate her innocence with the knowing pleasure of a decadent playing all the angles. The stakes are believably high, thanks to An Education‘s careful attention to time and place and its gently glamored performances. Scherfig revels in the smart, easy-on-eye curb appeal of David and his friends while giving a nod to the college-educated empowerment Jenny risks by skipping class to jet to Paris. And Mulligan lends it all credence by letting all those seduced, abandoned, conflicted, rebellious feelings flicker unbridled across her face. (1:35) Albany, Embarcadero, Piedmont. (Chun)

For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism Informative, nostalgic, and incredibly depressing, Gerald Peary’s For the Love of Movies traces film criticism from ye olden days (Vachel Lindsay’s appreciation of Mary Pickford) to today (Harry Knowles drooling over Michael Bay). Peary, himself a film critic, captures big-name writers working (or recently out-of-work) today, with Roger Ebert, A.O. Scott, J. Hoberman, Jonathan Rosenbaum, and multiple others explaining why they chose to make a career out of their love for movies, and how the gig has changed over the years. Peary clearly believes the heyday of film criticism is over, having hit peak in the 60s and 70s, when new releases by filmmakers like Scorsese and Altman were argued-about in print and on talk shows by longtime rivals Andrew Sarris (who weighs in here) and the late Pauline Kael. Of course, these days, anyone with a blog can call him or herself a film critic, and while For the Love of Movies acknowledges the importance of the internet, it also points out that when "everyone’s a critic," quality control suffers. Welcome to the future. (1:21) Roxie. (Eddy)

The Fourth Kind (1:38) 1000 Van Ness.

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

Law Abiding Citizen "Spike Lee’s Inside Man (2006) as re-imagined by the Saw franchise folks" apparently sounded like a sweet pitch to someone, because here we are, stuck with Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler playing bloody and increasingly ludicrous cat-and-mouse games. Foxx stars as a slick Philadelphia prosecutor whose deal-cutting careerist ways go easy on the scummy criminals responsible for murdering the wife and daughter of a local inventor (Butler). Cut to a decade later, and the doleful widower has become a vengeful mastermind with a yen for Hannibal Lecter-like skills, gruesome contraptions, and lines like "Lessons not learned in blood are soon forgotten." Butler metes out punishment to his family’s killers as well as to the bureocratic minions who let them off the hook. But the talk of moral consequences is less a critique of a faulty judicial system than mere white noise, vainly used by director F. Gary Gray and writer Kurt Wimmer in hopes of classing up a grinding exploitation drama. (1:48) 1000 Van Ness. (Croce)

The Maid In an upper-middle class subdivision of Santiago, 40-year-old maid Raquel (Catalina Saavedra), perpetually stony and indignant, operates a rigorous dawn-to-dusk routine for the Valdez family. Although Raquel rarely behaves as an intimate of her longtime hosts, she remains convinced that love, not labor, bonds them. (Whether the family shares Raquel’s feelings of devotion is highly dubious.) When a rotating cast of interlopers is hired to assist her, she stoops to machinations most vile to scare them away — until the arrival of Lucy (Mariana Loyola), whose unpredictable influence over Raquel sets the narrative of The Maid on a very different psychological trajectory, from moody chamber piece to eccentric slice-of-life. If writer-director Sebastián Silva’s film taunts the viewer with the possibility of a horrific climax, either as a result of its titular counterpart — Jean Genet’s 1946 stage drama The Maids, about two servants’ homicidal revenge — or from the unnerving "mugshot" of Saavedra on the movie poster, it is neither self-destructive nor Grand Guignol. Rather, it it is much more prosaic in execution. Sergio Armstrong’s fidgety hand-held camera captures Raquel’s claustrophobic routine as it accentuates her Sisyphean conundrum: although she completely rules the inner workings of the house, she remains forever a guest. But her character’s motivations often evoke as much confusion as wonder. In the absence of some much needed exposition, The Maid’s heavy-handed silences, plaintive gazes, and inexplicable eruptions of laughter feel oddly sterile, and a contrived preciousness begins to creep over the film like an effluvial whitewash. Its abundance makes you aware there is a shabbiness hiding beneath the dramatic facade — the various stains and holes of an unrealized third act. (1:35) Clay, Shattuck, Smith Rafael. (Erik Morse)

The Men Who Stare at Goats No! The Men Who Stare at Goats was such an awesome book (by British journalist Jon Ronson) and the movie boasts such a terrific cast (George Clooney, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor). How in the hell did it turn out to be such a lame, unfunny movie? Clooney gives it his all as Lyn Cassady, a retired "supersolider" who peers through his third eye and realizes the naïve reporter (McGregor) he meets in Kuwait is destined to accompany him on a cross-Iraq journey of self-discovery; said journey is filled with flashbacks to the reporter’s failed marriage (irrelevant) and Cassady’s training with a hippie military leader (Bridges) hellbent on integrating New Age thinking into combat situations. Had I the psychic powers of a supersoldier, I’d use some kind of mind-control technique to convince everyone within my brain-wave radius to skip this movie at all costs. Since I’m merely human, I’ll just say this: seriously, read the book instead. (1:28) Empire, Grand Lake, 1000 Van Ness, Presidio, Shattuck, Sundance Kabuki. (Eddy)

*Michael Jackson’s This Is It Time –- and a tragic early death –- has a way of coloring perception, so little surprise that these thought pops into one’s head throughout This Is It: when did Michael Jackson transform himself into such an elegant, haute-pop sylph? Such a pixie-nosed, lacy-haired petit four of music-making delicacy? And where can I get his to-die-for, pointy-shouldered, rhinestone-lapeled Alexander McQueen-ish jacket? Something a bit bewitching this way comes as Michael Jackson –- now that he’s gone, seemingly less freakish than an outright phenomenon –- gracefully flits across the screen in this final (really?) document of his last hurrah, the rehearsals for his sold-out shows at O2 Arena in London. This Is It is far from perfect: this grainy video scratchpad of a film obviously wasn’t designed by the perfectionist MJ to be his final testament to pop. Director Kenny Ortega does his best to cobble together what looks like several rehearsal performances with teary testimonials from dancers (instilled with the intriguing idea that they are extensions of the surgery-friendly Jackson’s body onstage), interviews with musicians, minimal archival footage, and glimpses of Jacko protesting about being encouraged to "sing through" certain songs when he’s trying to preserve his voice, urging the band to play it "like the record," and still moving, dancing, and gesticuutf8g with such grace that you’re left with more than a tinge of regret that "This Is It," the tour, never came to pass. It’s a pure, albeit adulterated, pleasure to watch the man do the do, even with the gaps in the flow, even with the footage filtered by a family intent on propping up the franchise. Amid the artistry and kitsch, critics, pop academics, and superfans will find plenty to chew over –- from Jackson’s curiously timed physical complaints as the Jackson 5 segment kicks in, to the surreally CGI-ed, golden-age-of-Hollywood mash-up sequence. (1:52) Marina, 1000 Van Ness, SF Center, Shattuck, Sundance Kabuki. (Chun)

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

*Paranormal Activity In this ostensible found-footage exercise, Katie (Katie Featherson) and Micah (Micah Sloat) are a young San Diego couple whose first home together has a problem: someone, or something, is making things go bump in the night. In fact, Katie has sporadically suffered these disturbances since childhood, when an amorphous, not-at-reassuring entity would appear at the foot of her bed. Skeptical technophile Micah’s solution is to record everything on his primo new video camera, including a setup to shoot their bedroom while they sleep — surveillance footage sequences that grow steadily more terrifying as incidents grow more and more invasive. Like 1999’s The Blair Witch Project, Oren Peli’s no-budget first feature may underwhelm mainstream genre fans who only like their horror slick and slasher-gory. But everybody else should appreciate how convincingly the film’s very ordinary, at times annoying protagonists (you’ll eventually want to throttle Micah, whose efforts are clearly making things worse) fall prey to a hostile presence that manifests itself in increments no less alarming for being (at first) very small. When this hits DVD, you’ll get to see the original, more low-key ending (the film has also been tightened up since its festival debut two years ago). But don’t wait — Paranormal‘s subtler effects will be lost on the small screen. Not to mention that it’s a great collective screaming-audience experience. (1:39) Metreon, 1000 Van Ness. (Harvey)

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

Pirate Radio I wanted to like Pirate Radio, a.k.a., The Boat That Rocked –- really, I did. The raging, stormy sounds of the British Invasion –- sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and all that rot. Pirate radio outlaw sexiness, writ large, influential, and mind-blowingly popular. This shaggy-dog of a comedy about the boat-bound, rollicking Radio Rock is based loosely on the history of Radio Caroline, which blasted transgressive rock ‘n’ roll (back when it was still subversive) and got around stuffy BBC dominance by broadcasting from a ship off British waters. Alas, despite the music and the attempts by filmmaker Richard Curtis to inject life, laughs, and girls into the mix (by way of increasingly absurd scenes of imagined listeners creaming themselves over Radio Rock’s programming), Pirate Radio will be a major disappointment for smart music fans in search of period accuracy (are we in the mid- or late ’60s or early or mid-’70s –- tough to tell judging from the time-traveling getups on the DJs, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Rhys Darby, among others?) and lame writing that fails to rise above the paint-by-the-numbers narrative buttressing, irksome literalness (yes, a betrayal by a lass named Marianne is followed by "So Long, Marianne"), and easy sexist jabs at all those slutty birds. Still, there’s a reason why so many artists –- from Leonard Cohen to the Stones –- have lent their songs to this shaky project, and though it never quite gets its sea legs, Pirate Radio has its heart in the right place –- it just lost its brains somewhere along the way down to its crotch. (2:00) Elmwood, Oaks, 1000 Van Ness, Piedmont, Sundance Kabuki. (Chun)

*Precious: Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire This gut-wrenching, little-engine-that-could of a film shows the struggles of Precious, an overweight, illiterate 16-year-old girl from Harlem. Newcomer Gabourey Sidibe is so believably vigilant (she was only 15 at the time of filming) that her performance alone could bring together the art-house viewers as well as take the Oscars by storm. But people need to actually go and experience this film. While Precious did win Sundance’s Grand Jury and Audience Award awards this year, there is a sad possibility that filmgoers will follow the current trend of "discussing" films that they’ve actually never seen. The daring casting choices of comedian Mo’Nique (as Precious’ all-too-realistically abusive mother) and Mariah Carey (brilliantly understated as an undaunted and dedicated social counselor) are attempts to attract a wider audience, but cynics can hurdle just about anything these days. What’s most significant about this Dancer in the Dark-esque chronicle is how Damien Paul’s screenplay and director Lee Daniels have taken their time to confront the most difficult moments in Precious’ story –- and if that sounds heavy-handed, so be it. Stop blahging for a moment and let this movie move you. (1:49) SF Center, Shattuck, Sundance Kabuki. (Jesse Hawthorne Ficks)

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

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

*Skin This is one of those movies that works in large part because you know it’s a true story –- its truth is almost too strange to be credible as fiction. In 1955 the Laings, a white Afrikaner couple (played by the blond and blue-eyed likes of Sam Neill and Alice Krige) gave birth to a second child quite unlike their first, or themselves. Indeed, Sandra (Ella Ramangwane) was, by all appearances, black. Mrs. Laing insisted she hadn’t been unfaithful –- further, the couple were firm believers in the apartheid system –- and it was eventually determined Sandra’s looks were the result of a rare but not-unheard-of flashback to some "colored" genes no doubt well-buried far in their colonialist ancestry. Living in rural isolation, the well-intentioned Laings were able to keep Sandra oblivious to her being at all "different." But when time came to send her off to boarding school, she got a rude awakening in matters of race and class, resulting in court battles and myriad humiliations. Sophie Okonedo (2004’s Hotel Rwanda) plays the rebellious adult Sandra, who must reject her upbringing to find an identity she can live with –- as opposed to the wishful-thinking one her parents insist upon. Based on the real protagonist’s memoir, Anthony Fabian’s first feature observes the institutional cruelty and eventual fall of apartheid from the uniquely vivid perspective of someone yanked from privilege to prejudice. It’s a sprawling, involving story that affords excellent opportunities for its very good lead actors (also including Tony Kgoroge as Sandra’s abusive eventual husband). (1:47) Opera Plaza, Smith Rafael. (Harvey)

2012 I don’t need to give you reasons to see this movie. You don’t care about the clumsy, hastily dished-out pseudo scientific hoo-ha that explains this whole mess. You don’t care about John Cusack or Woody Harrelson or whoever else signed on for this embarrassing notch in their IMDB entry. You don’t care about Mayan mysteries, how hard it is for single dads, and that Danny Glover and Chiwetel Ejiofor jointly stand in for Obama (always so on the zeitgeist, that Roland Emmerich). You already know what you’re in store for: the most jaw-dropping depictions of humankind’s near-complete destruction that director Emmerich –- who has a flair for such things –- has ever come up with. All the time, creative energy, and money James Cameron has spent perfecting the CGI pores of his characters in Avatar is so much hokum compared to what Emmerich and his Spartan army of computer animators dish out: the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy emerging through a cloud of toxic dust like some Mary Celeste of the military-industrial complex, born aloft on a massive tidal wave that pulverizes the White House; the dome of St. Paul’s flattening the opium-doped masses like a steamroller; Hawaii returned to its original volcanic state; and oodles more scenes in which we are allowed to register terror, but not horror, at the gorgeous destruction that is unfurled before us as the world ends (again) but no one really dies. Get this man a bigger budget. (2:40) California, Empire, Grand Lake, Marina, 1000 Van Ness. (Sussman)

(Untitled) The sometimes absurd pretensions of the modern art world have –- for many decades –- been so easily, condescendingly ridiculed that its intelligently knowing satire is hard to come by. (How much harder still would it be for a fictive film to convey the genius of, say Anselm Kiefer? Even Ed Harris’ 2000 Pollock less vividly captured the art or its creation –- better done by Francis Ford Coppola and Nick Nolte in their 1989 New York Stories segment –- than the usual tortured-artist histrionics.) Bay Arean Jonathan Parker attempts to correct that with this perhaps overly low-key witticism. Erstwhile Hebrew Hammer Adam Goldberg plays a composer of painfully retro, plink-plunk 1950s avant-gardism. (His favorite instrument is the tin bucket.) His lack of success is inevitable yet chafes nonetheless, because he’s a) humorlessly self-important, and b) sibling to a painter (Eion Bailey) whose pleasant, unchallenging abstracts are hot properties amongst corporate-art buyers. But not hot enough for his gorgeous agent (Marley Shelton), who puts off showing him at her Chelsea gallery in favor of cartoonishly "edgy" artists –- like soccer hooligan Vinnie Jones as a proponent of lurid taxidermy sculpture –- and takes a contrary (if unlikely) fancy to Goldberg. (How could her educated like not know his music is even less cutting-edge than the brother’s canvases?) (Untitled) holds interest, but it’s at once too glib and modest –- exaggerative sans panache. This is equivalently if differently problematic from Parker’s 2005 Henry James-goes-Marin County The Californians. It can’t compare to his 2001 feature debut, the excellent Crispin Glover-starring translation of Melville’s Bartleby to Rhinoceros-like modern office culture. (1:30) Embarcadero, Shattuck. (Harvey)

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

*The Yes Men Fix the World Can you prank shame, if not sense, into the Powers That Be? Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonnano, the jesters-activists who punked right-wing big-business in the documentary The Yes Men (2003), continue to play Groucho Marx to capitalism’s mortified Margaret Dumont in this gleeful sequel. Decked in sharp suits and packing fake websites and catchphrases, the duo bluffs its way into conferences and proceeds to give corporate giants the Borat treatment. The stunts are often inspired and, in their visions of fantasy justice, poignant: Bichlbaum and Bonnano pose as Dow envoys and announce the company’s plans to send billions to treat victims of the 1984 Bhopal chemical disaster, and later appear as HUD representatives offering a corrective to the shameful neglect of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The Yes Men may not fix the world, but their ruses once more prove the awareness-raising potential of comedy. (1:30) Smith Rafael. (Croce)

x plus x equals xx


x one: 2009 is 1989 all over again. Exhibit 89: The xx intro themselves near Fascination Street, somewhere across the city from the fine times and vanishing points where Memory Tapes currently resides. Truth be told, that year is just one of many pre-millennial ones this sneaky group taps into and renovates. Their minor key, lowercase late night musings shine darkly like Young Marble Giants circa-1979. Their slowly uncoiling guitar lines accompany a less chaste version of the gorgeous languor on Unrest’s 1992 imperial f.f.r.r. (Teen Beat), an album whose male-female vocal duality was an outgrowth of the shoegaze craze of — wait for it — 1989. When they cast their eyes at infinity, the brooding atmosphere and cavernous reverb sound a bit like the wicked games and twin peaks of 1989, as well. The canny use of space and silence, masculine and feminine on The xx (Young Turks) might reach maximum seduction and propulsion on “Islands,” where the low-end throbs like Tricky breaking free from the Wild Bunch and the angular guitar melodies flutter with excitement as Oliver Sims’ sexy cig-rasp snakes in and out of Romy Madley Croft’s soft, lazy lead vocal. Too many British female vocalists go so wan they lose all sense of lust. But not her — not here. (Johnny Ray Huston)

x two: “Basic space, open air … don’t look away when there’s nothing there.” On the intimate Independent stage, what will the emotionally prickly xx share? The quartet’s just lost keyboardist Baria Qureshi due to exhaustion and their much-hyped live show at CMJ this year was called “warmed-over Tracey Thorn” by a cheeky New York Times critic. That would seem paradoxical (no one associates physical exhaustion with Everything But the Girl appearances) if paradox wasn’t the xx’s creative engine, the push-pull of sexual relationships churning lyrically within an obsessively polished, passive-aggressively spare musical backdrop. The xx‘s “Basic Space” might be the best encapsulation of this Ziploc-ed bleeding heart aesthetic. From its inverted horror-movie metaphors — co-singer Oliver Sims climbs into a pool of boiling wax, which provides him with a “shine,” a “second skin,” while Romy Madley Croft states, “I’ll take you in pieces” — to its plucky Smiths-pinching final phrases and tin-Casio organ chords, the track is at the razor’s edge of current indie pop sensibilities. What’s uniquely its own, though, besides the way the tune’s steel-blue flicker runs up your discs, and what the xx brings to the world of rock, is a voluble taciturnity — yearning for personal space while lamenting its necessity, holding yourself together by breaking into pieces, creating a killer dance tune just one whiff away from silence. Sustaining that attitude live will be a neat trick. (Marke B.)


With Friendly Fires, Holly Miranda

Nov 23, 9 p.m., sold out

The Independent

628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421

Perfect kiss



MUSIC When Black Sabbath comes on, I’m instantly transported to those high school days of driving myself to class and headbanging to every track on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (Warner Bros., 1973) so hard I could barely see the road. Led Zeppelin forced me to do ridiculous amounts of air guitar in my room, while the Beatles saw me go through puberty and live in fear of the male species. Years later, Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love (EMI, 1985) was my soundtrack to falling wildly, truly in love.

The floating world in which memories exist is the same zone where the narratives of our lives take form. For any music freak, certain albums, guitar solos, or screeched lyrics bring the mind’s-eye back to that realm. Alan Palomo, the man behind the electro-psych project Neon Indian explicitly mines this tendency with a laser-like synth sound that seems swiped directly from the early 1980s.

"Music is getting more and more referential," said the Mexican-born, Texas-raised Palomo. "It’s becoming all about context. It’s not just about hearing a song, it’s about hearing it reverberating out of a room and trying to find sense in that. It’s about hearing a song playing in the other room when you were four while eating Cap’n Crunch."

What ’80s kid doesn’t get wistful about watching cartoons in the morning over a bowl of soggy cereal? The music Palomo creates on keyboards, samplers, and mixers taps into the collective consciousness of anyone who lived through that particular decade. Neon Indian’s seamless first full-length Psychic Chasms (Lefse) fuses the more dancefloor-oriented sounds of New Order with the chugging electronic pop of Electric Light Orchestra. Lyrically, it taps into themes of youth that are forever cherished in the corners of our brains: mindless delinquency, the lazy days of summer, and unruly hormones.

"I feel like it was a whimsical generation," Palomo says regarding the pop culture decade that spawned many of his influences. "The music had a really strange quality. It’s cheesy but very sincere — there’s a heartfelt vibe. A lot of music these days doesn’t really attract me on that emotional level because it doesn’t have the same narrative qualities. Those songs [from the ’80s] tell stories, and now people are afraid to do that."

Some writers have pinpointed Neon Indian as part of a blossoming sound that boasts newfangled genre tags like chillwave, glo-fi, tape-hiss, or hypnagogic pop because of its laid-back, homespun, synthy, foggy-eyed psychedelic artistry. It’s been everywhere since this summer, as hazy bits of songs from the distant past of cassette music and analog sound are lovingly reinvoked by a slew of new outfits such as Washed Out, Toro Y Moi, and Memory Tapes. But Palomo, who performs with a full band onstage, believes that Neon Indian is distinct.

"I don’t see myself in chillwave, even though others do," Palomo says. "Neon Indian is not completely about nostalgia. It should also be about songwriting. And it’s not necessarily just revisiting stuff. I always see it as a continuation of the sound. Why does a genre have to end? It can just evolve. People really want that kind of emotional experience in music."
Psychic Chasms is a heady collection of inventive retro-futuristic pop homages that play with funk and disco, Nintendo bleeps and burps, bent and breathy vocals, and distorted guitars. Palomo, a self-described extrovert, wrote the album over the course of three weeks fueled by intuition and solitude. "I felt like a deadbeat and wrote music all the time," he explains. "It’s called Psychic Chasms because it sounds like an interior land survey, like I was trying to map out the way my mind works, the memories that plague me consistently, and how they determine my emotional dispositions now. The older you grow, the more convoluted memory becomes."


With The Love X Nowhere, Nite Jewel

Thurs/19, 8 p.m. $10

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

(415) 861-2011


The sky is his



Call it revenge of the G-funk era.

Yes, the sound that sparked a bicoastal beef and led to the murder of two rap superstars has made a roaring comeback. It invited mimicry (Kriss Kross’ 1992 "Jump" and the Notorious B.I.G.’s 1994 "Big Poppa"); scorn ("It’s the money," DJ Shadow noted with dripping sarcasm as he queued up that bleating keyboard line once more on "Why Hip Hop Sucks in ’96"); and eventually got played-out like flannel shirts and Doc Martens. But now, it has returned. British music fans, always keen on a good nickname, call it "boogie-funk," referencing an additional presence: the early 1980s computer-funk of heroes like George Clinton and Dirty Mind-era Prince. The two scenes and sounds — 1980s post-disco funksters in their outrageously gussied-up costumes and processed hair, and 1990s West Coast hoo-bangers paying homage to their childhood with P-Funk and Isley Brothers samples — seem entirely dissimilar. But Damon Riddick, known as Dam-Funk, bridges the gap.

"I’m not a fad," says Dam-Funk. "I didn’t discover this six months ago. I’ve been doing this for a long time. It’s real and sincere. It’s not fake."

With his straightened windswept hair and imposing mustached visage, Dam-Funk looks like a funk lord from the early ’80s — a potential target for Dave Chappelle. But he’s not being ironic. On his new album Toeachiszown (Stones Throw), as synthesized melodies waft about angelically, when he sings the title words of "The Sky is Ours" in a slight falsetto, his emotional sincerity is palpable.

Dam-Funk is both badass L.A. dude and sensitive soul. He misses the "boogie-funk" era, and the svelte keyboard-and-bass-bottom of Mtume’s 1982 "Juicy Fruit" and the Dazz Band’s 1983 "Joystick." It briefly flourished in early-’80s black communities before other forms like hip-hop, house music, smooth jazz, and New Jack Swing buried it. Mostly forgotten by scholars or inaccurately mixed up with disco or house, the "boogie-funk" period rarely drew serious attention until recently.

"What I’m trying to do is further the love of groups like Slave, Aura, One Way, Mtume," says Dam-Funk. "When Run-DMC dropped with "It’s Like That" [in 1983], it was over. Everything went hard, masculine, balls-out, throw your fists in the air, that kind of thing. Now that we got [past] the giddy excitement over that aspect of hip-hop, people are discovering the beautiful chords. It’s okay to do chords that feel good inside."

Dam-Funk’s hip-hop edge comes from playing keyboards for Allfromthai, Mack 10, and other G-funk artists in the late-1990s. His most memorable session was playing on Westside Connection’s 1998 "Let It Reign." "It was crazy to walk in the studio with [Ice] Cube on one end, Mack 10 on the other end with the red shoelaces, WC over at the other end, and there’s about 20 other dudes in the studio, with the weed guy showing up," he laughs. "And cats were so respectful, man. Nobody was really tripping. Everyone looks at those guys like they were hoodlums. But they weren’t. They were just really into music."

Earlier that decade, the man then known as Damon Riddick apprenticed as a teenager with Leon Sylvers, the super-producer behind the Sylvers (1975’s "Boogie People") and black radio hits like Shalamar’s 1979 "The Second Time Around" and the Whispers’ "It’s A Love Thing" (1981). He recorded a few demos with Sylvers. "It didn’t turn into anything, but I still kept in touch with him," Dam-Funk says. "He taught me a lot about production technique."

Dam-Funk’s L.A. swagger pops up in his song titles ("Hood Pass Intact" and "Killdat a.k.a. Killdatmuthafucka") and his postmodern (or post-boogie) approach to early-’80s computer funk. He weaves dense instrumentals that sprawl for up to eight minutes, but tosses in enough slight chord changes to maintain interest. And unlike his boogie-funk predecessors, who maddeningly flitted between brilliant dance floor ragers and sappy slow dance ballads, he sticks to a certain tempo and mines it.

At two-and-a-half-hours and two CDs long, Toeachizown is remarkably inventive. Its spacey, bedazzled vibe rarely changes, but it doesn’t bore, either; it’s like a lovely waltz. On "Keep Lookin’ 2 The Sky," Dam-Funk uses audioprocessing to chant over ascendant synth lines, creating visions of a computer-manned rocketship. "10 West," like so many of the tracks, is quiet and balletic, drawing inspiration from electronic fusion pioneers like Paul Hardcastle.

If G-funk launched Dam-Funk’s career, then Toeachizown launches him into the heavens. "The sounds [are] progressive, hood, fantasy, all those things mixed up," he explains. "1982-slash-2022."


Nov. 24, 9 p.m., $22-25

With Warren G, U-N-I

The Independent

628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421


Music Listings


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



Actionslacks, Love is Chemicals, Ex-Boyfriends Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $8.

Cheetahs on the Moon, Bodice Rippers, Sugarbutt Tiger Annie’s Social Club. 9pm, $6.

Collisionville, Control-R, Pomegranate El Rio. 8pm, $5.

Comeback Kid, Gravemaker, Mother of Mercy, Dead Swan Thee Parkside. 8pm, $12.

Confunkshun Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason, SF; 1-888-468-3399. 8pm, $30-35.

Elm, Midday Veil, Sequin Trails Hemlock. 9pm, $6.

Frail, Lleggs Harlot, 46 Minna, SF; (415) 777-1077. 9pm, $5.

Joe Krown Trio Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $18.

*Judgement Day, La Fin du Monde, Grayceon Annie’s Social Club. 8:30pm, $7.

*King Khan and BBQ Show, Those Darlins Independent. 8pm, $15.

Nitzer Ebb, King Loses Crown Slim’s. 8pm, $25.

Chris Pierce, Amber Rubarth, Corb Lund Hotel Utah. 8:30pm, $10.

Julian Plenti, I’m in You Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $16.

Saints of Ruin Red Devil Lounge. 8pm, $8-10.

Society of Rockets, Conspiracy of Beards, Lotus Feet Elbo Room. 9pm, $7.


Raphael Saadiq, Anjulie, Melanie Fiona Fox Theater. 7:30pm, $39.50.


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

Marcus Shelby Jazz Jam Revolution Café, 3248 22nd St, SF; (415) 642-0474. 8:45pm, free.

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

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

Shana Morrison Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8pm, $14.

Tamika Nicole Yoshi’s San Francisco. 10:30pm, $14.

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


Freddy Clarke, Wobbly World Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; (415) 646-0018. 8:30, $10.

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

Leigh Gregory Plough and Stars. 9pm.

Erin McKeown, Sonya Kitchell Café du Nord. 8:30pm, $15.

Amber Rubarth Hotel Utah. 8pm, $10-12.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Chris Brown Fillmore. 7pm, $38.50.

Confunkshun Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason, SF; 1-888-468-3399. 8pm, $30-35.

*Ensiferum, Hypocrisy, Blackguard DNA Lounge. 8pm, $22.

Hidden Cameras, Gentleman Reg, Winter’s Fall Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $14.

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

Meta, Ana Lucia, Burnt Thumbs El Rio. 9pm, $6.

Microfiche, Elle Nino, Camp Out, Hey Young Believer Hotel Utah. 9pm, $6.

Neon Indian, Love X Nowhere Rickshaw Stop. 8pm, $10-12.

Peter Bjorn and John, El Perro Del Mer Great American Music Hall. 9pm, $23.

Railcars, Samuelroy, Pregnant, Felt Drawings Thee Parkside. 9pm, $6.

Röyksopp, Jon Hopkins Regency Ballroom. 8pm, $32.

Silian Rail, Grand Lake, Ash Reiter Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $7.

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

0th, Kurione, Paper Legs, William Winat, Weasle Walter, and John Gruntfest Trio Amnesia. 9pm, $6.


Them Crooked Vultures, Mini Mansions Fox Theater. 8pm, $49.50.


Joe Bagale, Crystal Monee Hall Yoshi’s San Francisco. 10:30pm, $10.

Margie Baker Shanghai 1930. 7pm, free.

Al Coster Trio and jam session Savanna Jazz. 8pm, $5.

Terry Disley Washington Square Bar and Grill, 1707 Powell, SF; (415) 433-1188. 7pm, free.

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

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

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

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

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


Battlin’ Blue Birds Dolores Park Café. 7:30pm, free.

Bluegrass Old Time Jam Atlas Café. 8pm, free.

Classical Revolution Amnesia. 6pm, free.

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

Jim Lauderdale Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez, SF; (415) 454-5238. 8:15pm, $22.

Jueves Flamencos Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; (415) 646-0018. 8:15pm, $10; 9:30pm, $12.

Mission 3 Revolution Café, 3248 22nd St, SF; (415) 642-0474. 8:45pm, free.

Tipsy House Plough and Stars. 9pm.

Worried Minds Socha Café, 3235 Mission, SF; (415) 643-6848. 8:30pm.


Afrolicious Elbo Room. 9:30pm, $5-6. DJs Pleasuremaker, Señor Oz, J Elrod, B Lee, and special guest Beto spin Afrobeat, Tropicália, electro, samba, and funk featuring an album listening party for Tito Rodriguez.

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

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

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

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

Echo-A-Gogo Knockout. 10pm, free. Vintage dub reggae with DJ Lucky and friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solid Club Six. 9pm, $5. With resident DJ Daddy Rolo and rotating DJs Mpenzi, Shortkut, Polo Mo’qz and Fuze spinning roots, reggae, and dancehall.



Billy and Dolly with Tell-Tale Hearts, Michael Zapruder, Paul Bertolino Hotel Utah. 9pm, $10.

Confunkshun Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason, SF; 1-888-468-3399. 7 and 9:30pm, $30-35.

Disco Biscuits Fillmore. 9pm, $25.

Dolorata, Audrey Howard and the Misters, View from Space Bottom of the Hill. 10pm, $10.

*El Dopa, Cretaceous Annie’s Social Club. 9:30pm, $8.

Eternal Tapestry, Barn Owl, Moon Duo, Real Estate Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $8.

Fiery Furnaces, Cryptacize, Dent May Slim’s. 9pm, $16.

Girls Swedish American Hall (upstairs from Café du Nord). 8pm, $15.

Houston Jones Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez, SF; (415) 454-5238. 8:15pm, $19.

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

*McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Paul and John Make-Out Room. 7pm, $7.

New Thrill Parade, Tape Deck Mountain, Red Pony Clock, Monnone Alone, Borneo Amnesia. 9pm, $8.

Peter Bjorn and John, El Perro Del Mer Great American Music Hall. 9pm, $23.

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Faun Fables Independent. 9pm, $18.

Earl Thomas and the Blues Ambassadors Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $22.

Zoo Station Red Devil Lounge. 8pm, $10.


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

Patti Austin Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $30-38.

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

Bryan Girard Quartet Cliff House Restaurant, 1090 Point Lobos, SF; (415) 386-3330. 7pm, free.

Stephanie Crawford Savanna Jazz. 8pm, $8.

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

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

T.D. Skatchit and Company Community Music Center, 544 Capp, SF; (415) 647-6015. 8pm, $10.

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


Seth Augustus Revolution Café, 3248 22nd St, SF; (415) 642-0474. 8:45pm, free.

Andrew Skewes Cox Socha Café, 3235 Mission, SF; (415) 643-6848. 8:30pm.

Toshio Hirano Mercury Café, 201 Octavia, SF; (415) 252-7855. 7:30pm, free.

Forro in the Dark, Nneka, DJ Felina Café du Nord. 9:30pm, $12-15.

49 Special Plough and Stars. 9pm, $6-10 sliding scale.

International Studies Academy (ISA) Concert Dolores Park Café. 7:30pm, free.

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

Rolando Morales and group Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; (415) 646-0018. 8pm, 10pm.

Samba Da Elbo Room. 10pm, $15.

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


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

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

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

Conspirator 103 Harriet, 103 Harriet, SF; (415) 431-3609. 10pm, $20. Disco Biscuits after party.

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

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

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

510’s Finest Presents: King Thee Parkside. 10pm, $4.

Gay Asian Paradise Club Eight, 1151 Folsom, SF; www.eightsf.com. 9pm, $8. Featuring two dance floors playing dance and hip hop, smoking patio, and 2 for 1 drinks before 10pm.

House of Voodoo Medici Lounge, 299 9th St., SF; (415) 501-9162. 9pm, $5. With DJs Voodoo, Purgatory, and more spinning goth, industrial, deathrock, and glam.

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

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

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

Juan Maclean DJ Set (Tribute to Gerhardt Fuchs), Parallels, DJs Eug and J. Montag Mezzanine. 9pm, $13.

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

Pirate Cat Radio Benefit Triple Crown. 8pm, $10. Proceeds to help pay recent fines imposed by the FCC.

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

The Present Club Six. 9pm, $15. Featuring performances by Luckyiam PSC, The Bayliens, Wordplay, and more with DJs Franky Fresh, Beast, and more spinning hip hop.



"A&R Live: Major Label Showcase" Thee Parkside. 9pm, $15.

Confunkshun Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason, SF; 1-888-468-3399. 7 and 9:30pm, $30-35.

Disco Biscuits Fillmore. 9pm, $25.

*Municipal Waste, Off with Their Heads, Phobia, Cauldron Slim’s. 8pm, $15.

Okay-Hole with Sixteens, Sleeping Desires, Soft Shoes and the Socks Amnesia. 9pm, $7.

Old Canes, Top Critters, Mylo Jenkins House of Shields. 9pm, $5.

Perfect Machines, Sassy!!!, Lady Sinatra, Live Evil, Rockfight Hotel Utah. 9pm, $8.

Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $22.

Pie Rats, Yes Gos, Light Machine Thee Parkside. 3pm, free.

"SFxSD" El Rio. 3pm-2am, $5-7. With Lucky Jesus, Long Live Logos, Butterfly Bones, DJ Calisto John, Lilofee, Transfer, and Music for Animals.

Shuteye Unison, New Trust, Grandchildren Hemlock Tavern. 9:30pm, $7.

Slick 46, Harrington Saints, Memphis Murder Men Annie’s Social Club. 9pm, $8.

Snoop Dogg, DJ Quik, Nipsey Hussle, Hustle Boys Warfield. 8pm, $53-63.

Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, Portland Cello Project, David Schultz Independent. 9pm, $17.

Keller Williams Great American Music Hall. 9pm, $25.


Keb’Mo’, Solomon Burke Paramount Theatre. 8pm, $20-65.


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

Patti Austin Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $38.

Graham Connah Revolution Café, 3248 22nd St, SF; (415) 642-0474. 8:45pm, free.

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

George Cole’s Band Red Poppy Art House. 8pm, $15-20.

"Jazz Jam Session with Uptime Jazz Group" Mocha 101 Café, 1722 Taraval, SF; (415) 702-9869. 3:30-5:30pm, free.

Octomutt, Lily Taylor Rite Spot, 2099 Folsom, SF; (415) 552-6066. 9pm, free.

Sandra Aran Group Shanghai 1930. 7:30pm, free.

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

Suzanna Smith and band Savanna Jazz. 8pm, $8.


Bossa 5-0 Socha Café, 3235 Mission, SF; (415) 643-6848. 8:30pm.

Culann’s Hounds Plough and Stars. 9pm.

Forro in the Dark, Boca Do Rio, DJ Felina Café du Nord. 9:30pm, $12-15.

George Cole Quintet Red Poppy Art House. 8pm, $15-20. Gypsy swing and American songbook.

Jaguares, Los Cenzontles Regency Ballroom. 9pm, $55.

Outside In Festival Bollyhood Café, 3372 19th St., SF; (415) 643-3558. 7pm, $5. Featuring food, dance arts, and music with a live performance from Mucho Axé and DJs Fausto and EKG.

Peruvian Night Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; (415) 646-0018. 7:30pm, 11:45pm. With Lalo Isquierdo, Luis Valverde, Miguel Sisniegas, and Luis Ramos.


Café Tacuba Fox Theater. 8pm, $35.50-39.50.


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

Booty Bassment Knockout. 10pm-2am, $5. Hip-hop with DJs Ryan Poulsen and Dimitri Dickenson.

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

Dead After Dark Knockout. 6-9pm, free. With DJ Touchy Feely.

DJ Nu-Mark Mighty. 9pm, $5 before 11pm with canned good. With DJs Haylow, Platurn, and Ant 1.

Black and White Affair Butterfly Lounge, Pier 33, 1400 Embarcadero, SF; www.partywithpure.com. 10pm, $20. DJs spinning mainstream hip hop and top 40s.

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

HYP Club Eight, 1151 Folsom, SF; www.eightsf.com. 10pm, free. Gay and lesbian hip hop party, featuring DJs spinning the newest in the top 40s hip hop and hyphy.

M80 Mission Rock Café, 817 Terry Francois, SF; (415) 626-5355. 10pm, $15. Disco Biscuits after party. Shuttle service available from the Fillmore.

P vs M Madrone Art Bar. 7pm, $5. DJs Dave Paul and Jeff Harris spinning a Prince vs. Michael marathon.

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

Saturday Night Soul Party 10pm, $10. With DJs Lucky, Phengren Oswald, and Paul Paul spinning 60s soul.

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

Villainy DNA Lounge. 9pm, $8-10. Electro, indie, new wave, gothic, and industrial with Tomas Diablo, Party Ben, and Starr.



"Concerts First Next Big Thing" Slim’s. 11am, $15.

Confunkshun Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason, SF; 1-888-468-3399. 7pm, $30-35.

Fanfarlo, Freelance Whales, Mumlers Rickshaw Stop. 8pm, $13.

*"Heathenfest" DNA Lounge. 7:30pm, $22. With Eluveitie, Belphegor, Alestorm, Vreid, and Kivimetsan Druidi.

Il Gato, Radio Fantastique, Gerardo Balistreiri Amnesia. 9pm, $7-10.

Lake, Karl Blau, Half-Handed Cloud Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $8.

Slick 46, Memphis Murder Men, Shootin’ Lucy, Shelby Cobra Thee Parkside. 8pm, $7.

Thrice, Dear Hunter, Polar Bear Club Regency Ballroom. 7:30pm, $24.


KISS, Buckcherry Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum Wy, Oakl; www.ticketmaster.com. 7:30pm, $17.50-125.


Patti Austin Yoshi’s San Francisco. 2 and 7pm, $5-38.

Terry Disley Washington Square Bar and Grill, 1707 Powell, SF; (415) 433-1188. 7pm, free.

Lua Hadar with Jason Martineau Bliss Bar, 4026 24th St, SF; (415) 826-6200. 4:30pm, $10.

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

Savanna Jazz Trio and jam Savanna Jazz. 9:30pm, $5.


b Foundation Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $10.

Bone Cootes, Old Hangtown Rite Spot, 2099 Folsom, SF; (415) 552-6066. 6pm, free.

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

Il Gato, El Radio Fantastique, Gerardo Balestrieri Amnesia. 9pm, $7-10.

Halau O Keikiali’I Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; (415) 646-0018. 7:30pm, $10.

International Youth Music Initiative Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California, SF; (415) 292-1233. 7pm, $15.

Iration, Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds, B Foundation Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $15.

Josh Klipp, Joe Stevens El Rio. 3-6pm, $5-10.

Jay Lingo and the Kick Balers Thee Parkside. 4pm, free.

Lior Tsarfaty and friends Red Poppy Art House. 7pm, $10-15.


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

Dub Mission Elbo Room. 9pm, $6. Dub, roots, and classic dancehall with Nickodemus Meets Spy from Cairo, Freyja, Calamity Sam, and DJ Sep.

Gloss Sundays Trigger, 2344 Market, SF; (415) 551-CLUB. 7pm. With DJ Hawthorne spinning house, funk, soul, retro, and disco.

Honey Soundsystem Paradise Lounge. 8pm-2am. "Dance floor for dancers – sound system for lovers." Got that?

Jock! Lookout, 3600 16th; 431-0306. 3pm, $2. This high-energy party raises money for LGBT sports teams.

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

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

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



Dir En Gray Fillmore. 8pm, $23.

Holy Shit, Sleeptalks, Quite Polite Knockout. 9pm, $7.

Mr. Gnome, Songs for Snakes, Disastroid Elbo Room. 9pm, $6.


Wolfmother, Heartless Bastards, Thenewno2 Fox Theater. 7:30pm, $29.50.


Colour Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8pm, $8-12.

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

Andrew Oliver Socha Café, 3235 Mission, SF; (415) 643-6848. 8:30pm.

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


Barefoot Nellies Amnesia. 8:30pm, free.

Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Jug Band, Divine’s Jug Band Café du Nord. 8pm, $10.


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

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

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

Krazy for Karaoke Happy Hour Knockout. 5-9pm, free. With host Deadbeat.

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

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

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

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



Dirty Penny, Death Valley High, Three Weeks Clean Elbo Room. 9pm, $7.

Glassines, Friendly Skies El Rio. 8pm, free.

Gwar, Job for a Cowboy, Red Chord Regency Ballroom. 8pm, $25.

Lahar Boom Boom Room. 9:30pm, free.

Lilys, Astral, LSD and the Search for Gold Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $12.

Pale Hoarse, Kathryn Anne Davis, Sweet Chariot, DJ Donnelle Knockout. 9pm, $5.

Them Hills, Neal Morgan Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $6.

Warren G, Dam-Funk, U-N-I Independent. 9pm, $25.


"Booglaloo Tuesday" Madrone Art Bar. 9:30pm, $3. With Oscar Myers.

Dave Parker Quintet Rasselas Jazz. 8pm.

Euliptian Quartet Socha Café, 3235 Mission, SF; (415) 643-6848. 8:30pm.

Larry Vuckovich New Blue Balkan Ensemble Yoshi’s San Francsisco. 8pm, $14.

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

Soraya Trio Rite Spot, 2099 Folsom, SF; (415) 552-6066. 8pm, free.


Honeycomb Climate Theater, 285 9th St., SF; (415) 704-3260. 8pm, $7-15 sliding scale.

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


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

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

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

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

Rock Out Karaoke! Amnesia. 7:30pm. With Glenny Kravitz.

Share the Love Trigger, 2344 Market, SF; (415) 551-CLUB. 5pm, free. With DJ Pam Hubbuck spinning house.

Stump the Wizard Argus Lounge. 9pm, free. Interactive DJ games with What’s His Fuck and Craigums.

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

Events Listings


Events listings are compiled by Paula Connelly. Submit items for the listings at listings@sfbg.com. For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Weekly Picks.


"Ancient Book of Hip" Space Gallery, 1141 Polk, SF; (415) 377-3325. 7pm, $10 includes book. A release party for D.W. Lichtenberg’s new book of poetry, a case study about girls, sex, cigarettes, thick-framed glasses, and everything that is the world of hip.

Dining by Design Galleria at the San Francisco Design Center, 101 Henry Adams, SF; (415) 597-4650. 6pm, $100. View three-dimensional dining installations and meet the designers at this preview party to Thursday night’s fine dining gala featuring cocktails, wine, and hors d’oeuvres from the city’s top restaurants.

"Meet the Future" California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse, Golden Gate Park, SF; (415) 379-8000. 7pm, $15. Attend this Scientific American roundtable debate with people working on world-changing ideas to address pressing issues, such as global health, robotics and artificial intelligence, energy, and environment. Moderated by Scientific American magazine editor Michael Moyer.

Mole to Die For Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, 2868 Mission, SF; (415) 643-2775. 7pm, $7. Attend this mole tasting and contest where chef’s judge the mole of professional cooks and the people judge homemade moles of from the community. Cash prizes for all winners. Mole for everyone.


Denialism Commonwealth Club, 2nd floor, 595 Market, SF; (415) 597-6705. 5:30pm, $15. Hear staff writer for the New Yorker Michael Specter talk about his new book Denialism, about how irrational thinking hinders scientific progress, harms the planet, and threatens our lives.

InsideStorytime Iran Café Royale, 800 Post, SF; (415) 505-0869. 6:30pm, $3-10 sliding scale. Hear readings from Iranian-American authors Shahrnush Parsipur, Anita Amirrezvani, Mahbod Seraji, Persis Karim, and others with MC Dorinda Vassigh.

Open Source Embroidery Museum of Craft and Folk Art, 51 Yerba Buena, SF; (415) 227-4888. 7pm, free. Michele Pred discusses her mobile phone interactive art piece. Pred’s piece is a part of the Open Source Embroidery exhibition, which presents artworks that use embroidery and code as a tool for participatory production and distribution.

Isabella Rossellini Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, SF; (415) 392-4400. 8pm, $20-25. See the legendary actress, model, and director Isabella Rossellini in conversation with Roy Eisenhardt featuring film clips and a reading from her recent book, Green Porno.

SlideSlam Gallery 291, 5th floor, 291 Geary, SF; (415) 291-9001. 7pm, free. Attend this monthly event that provides aspiring and professional photographers the chance present their work to Fotovision members, a professional from a photo agency, and the general public.


Sustainability Summit and Green Gathering David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berk; www.ecologycenter.org. 4pm, $35. Start your evening by attending the Sustainability Summit, a series of brief presentations on a range of Berkeley-centric sustainability projects, followed by the Green Gathering dinner and mingling, featuring keynote speaker Robert Reich.


Art in Storefronts Triple Base, 3041 24th St., SF; www.sfartscommission.org/storefronts . 7pm, free. Attend the opening reception for the Mission District addition to the Art in Storefronts program, where local artists create original installations in vacant storefronts throughout the city. Mission installations will appear along 24th St. between Mission and Potrero.

Bead and Design Show Hotel Whitcomb, 1231 Market, SF; (530) 274-1123. Fri. Noon-8pm, Sat. 10am-6pm, Sun. 10am-5pm; $10 for all three days. Join artists, artisans, and merchants who specialize in handmade beads, ethnographic art, artisan supplies, and more at this design show featuring over 40 workshops where you can make your own jewelry.

MESS Oddball Film and Video, 275 Capp, SF; (415) 558-8117 to RSVP. 8:30pm, $10. As a part of the Media Ecology Soul Salon (MESS), where modern thinkers address the metaphysics of their callings and the nitty-gritty of their crafts, Gerry Fialka interviews writer, teacher, and performer Erik Davis.

Up from Underground D-Structure, 520 Haight, SF; (415) 252-8601. 8pm, $5 suggested donation. Attend this fundraiser to support Roots and Branches, a youth-led community-building collective in Oakland featuring performances by Baybe Champ, Bumpitythump, DJ Basta, and more.


5 Treasures The Family, 545 Powell, SF; (415) 565-0545 x16. 6pm cocktail party, 7pm event; $125 cocktail party, $30 event. Celebrate the innovation of five San Franciscans who have contributed to the fields of printing, bookbinding, book design, creative writing, and publishing at this event . Honorees are Bob Aufuldish, Eleanore Edwards Ramsey, Brenda Hillman, Mary Risala Laird, and Dave Eggers.

SF Bike Expo Cow Palace, 2600 Geneva, SF; www.sfbikeexpo.com. 10am, $10. Calling all bike lovers, check out this all-things-bike expo featuring a bike style fashion show, indoor cross race, dirt jump competition, BMX stunt show, swap, and more.

THREAD Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason, SF; threadshow.com. Sat.-Sun. 11am-6pm, $10. Get some holiday shopping done early at this indie fashion, art, and music event featuring cocktails, a clothing swap, clothing donations, eco designers, and more.


Le Chill du Nord Café du Nord, 2174 Market, SF; (415) 861-5016. 7pm, $15. Hang out in the historic Victorian venue at this fundraiser for SF WAR, RAINN, and Free the Slaves featuring downtempo live music performances, art, and fashion.

What’s hate got to do with it?



FILM Like so many recent it’s-true-if-we-say-so slogans, "A Republican is a Democrat who’s been mugged" is smugly, fundamentally misguided on more levels than can be addressed here, suggesting that only conservatives have the horse sense to grasp that it’s a big, scary world out there. Interpreted another way, however, this catchphrase contains a grain of truth: the sense of victimization can be blindsiding. When you begin to perceive all criticism as persecutorial, you might forget it’s possible to be wrong.

That’s the worry driving Yoav Shamir’s Defamation, which opens Friday following a stormy reception at July’s San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. The documentarian (2003’s Checkpoint) says that as an Israeli Jew he’s never actually experienced anti-Semitism. So he sets out to explore that prejudice’s status quo — or so he claims, somewhat disingenuously. Because Defamation‘s real agenda is positing anti-Semitism as a distorted, exploited, propagandic bludgeon used to taint any critique of Israeli government policies or the foreign lobbies supporting them.

This is a theory bound to inflame angry emotions, not least the "self-hating Jew" accusation. It must be said that Shamir lays himself at risk — à la Michael Moore — of selectively gathering only evidence that supports his agenda. Anti-Semitism certainly does exist today, in many different forms, around the world. But the only folks Shamir finds to spout negative stereotypes are some African American Crown Heights youths — whose complaints about their insular neighbors seem reasonable enough until they cite Nazi best seller The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as an important ethnic expose — and his own granny. (Bizarrely, she opines that Jews are indeed money-hoarding shirkers of "real" work — albeit only foreign Jews, not industrious Israelis like herself.)

Yet if Defamation‘s deliberate omissions and occasional snarky tone hamper its case, Shamir nonetheless makes legitimately troubling points. He views Israeli media as obsessing over any incidents of global anti-Semitism (and ignoring decreases) much as the U.S. media endlessly dwells on certain lurid crime stories — because their public loves to feel indignant.

More than 30,000 Israeli high schoolers now go on field trips each year to European Holocaust sites. But their experience is heavily stage-managed, with Secret Service guards ensuring they have no contact with locals — in Poland a group is kept sequestered in their hotel because (they’re told) this "relatively hostile country" is rife with neo-Nazis.

No wonder when two girls briefly try to bridge the language barrier with some old men in a park, they instantly assume they’re being insulted. (They are not, as the exchange’s subtitled translation reveals.) This thrilling experience of actual, or at least assumed, anti-Semitism reinforces what one student calls "what makes us special: that no one can stand us, but that we are proud of it."

"Everyone knows the Jews are hated. We are raised that way," another proclaims.

Getting ample cooperation (now regretted) from its Manhattan H.Q.’s staff, Shamir suggests the Anti-Defamation League also inflates anti-Semitism’s modern-day realities to exert political muscle, and to dismiss any criticism of Israel as simple Jew-hating "in disguise." When a British academic at an ADL conference rather mildly asserts anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism can indeed be separated — is it racist to think the West Bank settlements and occupation of Palestinian lands unjust? — he’s denounced as an outrageous provocateur.

The most controversial interviewee is Norman Finklestein, whose book The Holocaust Industry got him pilloried as a Holocaust denier (untrue) and quite likely cost him his teaching position. The son of Shoah survivors, he thinks "the Nazi Holocaust is now the main ideological weapon for launching wars of aggression" and that "pathological narcissism" desensitizes many American Jews to other people’s sufferings. (One U.S. rabbi here theorizes that the sense of ongoing historical persecution has replaced religious observance as many Jews’ primarily source of ethnic-cultural identification.)

Finklestein can be persuasively reasonable. To Defamation‘s credit, however, it doesn’t yell "Cut!" when he whips himself into a crank-case frenzy that masochistically self-destructs his credibility. Absolute righteousness ain’t pretty, anywhere on the political spectrum.

DEFAMATION opens Fri/20 at the Roxie.

The call of the weird


Consider that ridiculous title. Though its poster and imdb entry eliminate the initial article, it appears onscreen as The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. That’s the bad lieutenant, not to be confused with Abel Ferrara’s 1992 Bad Lieutenant, starring Harvey Keitel as a nameless New York City cop who gambles and grubs drugs until one harrowing case nudges him in a less wretched direction.

The bad lieutenant has a name: Terence McDonagh, and he’s a police officer of similarly wobbly moral fiber. McDonagh’s tale — inspired by Ferrara and scripted by William Finkelstein, but perhaps more important, filmed by Werner Herzog and interpreted by Nicolas Cage — opens with a snake slithering through a post-Hurricane Katrina flood. A prisoner has been forgotten in a basement jail. McDonagh and fellow cop Stevie Pruit (Val Kilmer) taunt the man, taking bets on how long it’ll take him to drown in the rising waters. An act of cruelty seems all but certain until McDonagh, who’s quickly been established as a righteous asshole, suddenly dives in for the rescue. Unpredictability, and quite a bit of instability, reigns thereafter.

A smidge of The Bad Lieutenant actually concerns police work, as McDonagh investigates the slaying of a Senegalese family. Everyone knows who did it, but there’s no evidence, only a teenage eyewitness who’s reluctant to testify against the neighborhood kingpin. But this is hardly a standard-issue procedural drama. Mostly it’s a journey to the edge and back, multiple times, with an unhinged addict who prowls the streets of New Orleans "to the break of dawn, baby!" The storm-battered city provides an uneasy backdrop — this ain’t The Big Easy (1986), and Herzog keeps his N’Awlins cliché-o-meter in check. He does allow for certain Herzogian indulgences, like an extended close-up of an iguana that may or may not be the product of McDonagh’s drug-frazzled brain.

In a movie like The Bad Lieutenant, where every scene holds the possibility of careening to heights both campy and terrifying, Cage proves an inspired casting choice. Lately he’s become more famous for his hair (which has its own Internet meme) and financial troubles than for his talents. His Oscar (for 1995’s Leaving Las Vegas) capped years of cult success (1990’s Wild at Heart), but after a brief late-’90s reign as action star and his success in the (lame) National Treasure films, he’s kinda been off his game. Who, besides the people he owes money to, thought 2006’s The Wicker Man was a good idea?

Basically Cage has nothing to lose, and his take on Lt. McDonagh is as haywire as it gets. McDonagh snorts coke before reporting to a crime scene; he threatens the elderly; he hauls his star teenage witness along when he confronts a john who’s mistreated his prostitute girlfriend (Eva Mendes); he cackles like a maniac; he lurches around like a hunchback on crack. But he’s not entirely monstrous — he cared enough to save that drowning convict, remember? Not knowing what McDonagh will do next is as entertaining as knowing it’ll likely be completely insane. With Herzog behind the camera and Cage flailing in front of it, The Bad Lieutenant is the most fiendish movie of 2009. That’s a recommendation.

THE BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS opens Fri/20 in Bay Area theaters.

Pot in the kettle



Save for the teeny-weeny skirts and gunfights, Sandy Moriarty is like Nancy Botwin, the main character of Showtime’s Weeds. To casual observers, these women may look like regular God-fearing folk, but in their circle of marijuana smokers and edibles-eaters, both are local celebrities. Unlike the activities of her television counterpart, everything Moriarty does is legal.

Known now for best-selling lemon bars — sold exclusively through Oakland’s Blue Sky dispensary and made with her psychedelic 10X cannabutter — and as a cooking professor at Oakland’s Oaksterdam University, Moriarty’s culinary escapades with cannabis began as a personal endeavor to test the plant’s potency.

"I’ve always been interested in cooking and I was intrigued by the process of cooking with cannabis," said the Fairfield resident. "I wanted to push the plant to its limits and see what it could render me."

In the process, Moriarty discovered she could help a larger range of cannabis patients who needed stronger medication in their food. These "extreme case" patients, Moriarty said, include those with spinal injuries, cancer, and multiple sclerosis.

"The need for something stronger [than what was available] intrigued me," said the mother of two. "I wanted to help those people."

So for several years Moriarty sporadically experimented with different cooking techniques. Her aha! moment came in the fall of 2004, when she discovered that slowly simmering a mixture of butter, leaf shake, and water for a few hours would evaporate the water and render all the THC-rich trichomes off the leaves. Unlike the cannabutters she had produced before, she could smell a sweet, rich, and buttery aroma that had a nutty taste.

"I let other people try it, and when they started dropping like flies, I knew that was it," Moriarty said. "It was like — wow!"

The discovery helped the 58-year-old catapult her life in a new direction. Though still a property manager by day, Moriarty now tends simmering stockpots of cannabutter in the kitchen of her ranch-style home at least four times a week (usually in the late evening or near dawn). And since January 2008, she’s been sharing how to make her cannabutter, as well as other ways to cook with pot through oils and alcohol-based tinctures at Oaksterdam cannabis college.

Indeed, her cooking class — which is incorporated into a Oaksterdam weekend and semester curriculum that includes lessons on horticulture and politics/legal issues — is one of the most popular courses at the school. "A lot of students come just for the cooking," says Oaksterdam facilitator Trish Demesmin. "And once she gets to talking about her 10x butter, they’re all ears."

But Moriarty hasn’t stopped there. Feeling that she has conquered the realm of baked edibles — her creations, which are known for packing a potent THC punch without the ganja taste or smell, have gained something of a cult following — Moriarty is now focused on creating savory dishes such as pastas, salad dressings, and sandwiches. And thanks to the super-concentrated butter, Moriarty has been able to incorporate the green herb into dishes like fillet of sole Florentine, Thanksgiving turkey — even fried chicken. She plans to feature these dishes, along with recipes for baked goods, drinks, and vegan- and diabetes-friendly food items, in her upcoming cookbook, tentatively titled Cooking with Cannabis.

Moriarty’s brother Al Wilcox says his big sister has come a long way from her days of baking brownies filled with stems and seeds. Wilcox, who medicates every day to help his arthritis, said the greatest advantage of his sister’s food is that its strong potency means patients can eat less while watching their weight. The proud sibling predicts Moriarty could become the next Brownie Mary. "She’s done this all on her own, and she’s been real gung-ho about it," Wilcox said. "She wanted to help people, and now she is."

To attend Moriarty’s cooking class, enroll at Oaksterdam University, 1776 Broadway, Oakl. (510) 251-1544, www.oaksterdamuniversity.com. Weekend seminars and semester-long courses are available. All students must be 18+. Nonmedical cardholders are welcome.


Want to take your Thanksgiving dinner to new heights? Try Moriarty’s recipes below.


1 cup cannabutter (plus an extra 1/2 cup or less to rub inside and outside of the turkey)

2 cup chopped onions

1 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 Tbs. fresh sage or 1 tsp. dried sage

1 Tbs. fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. clove

1 cup chicken stock

2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all the ingredients together, except for the chicken stock and eggs. Blend the mix with the chicken stock and eggs. Rub extra cannabutter on the outside and inside the cavity of the turkey. Stuff the turkey with stuffing mix and bake for 20 minutes per pound. Bake until outside of the turkey is golden brown and stuffing reached 165-degrees.


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbs. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup cannater melted

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×12 baking pan. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend the eggs, milk, sugar, and cannabutter together. Mix the flour and cannabutter mixtures together, including the blueberries. Bake for 30 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.




CHEAP EATS Some things in life just smell way better than they taste, Kentucky Fried Chicken being an obvious example. There are two kids named Boink and Popeye the Sailor Baby who will one day wonder why their nanny used to take them to Jackson Park all the time. Alameda has a lot of nice playgrounds featuring state-of-the-art sliding boards and other nice touches, such as other children. What Jackson Park has, besides abandoned shopping carts, riff-raff, and a bus stop, is Kentucky Fried Chicken.

I’ve never been inside, but I’m glad it’s there. And the kids … well, even without all the bright-colored plastic, they find plenty to do. They scrape the bark off of piss-soaked trees with little sticks and look for unusual bugs — while their grownup stands nearby, nose to the Colonel, and dreams.

If there’s one thing I will take from my two years as a nanny — besides neck and shoulder issues, some permanent hearing loss, and an addiction to migraine medicines, I mean — well, wisdomwise, I have learned a lot. But the one lesson that really stands out is this: that, though you show a kid a waterfall, wildlife, redwood trees, and sunset, they will be infinitely more fascinated by leaf blowers.

Mind you, this is not to even mention their fascination of fascinations: the garbage truck. You can take my word for it, because nannies know more kids than most parents do. It’s as true as math: the sweeter the adorable little angel, the more obsessed with garbage trucks they will be. And no amount of exposure to Yosemite will help.

Who knows? Maybe it’s innately wise to take natural wonders for granted. When you are one yourself.

Of course, the reverse is also true: some things in life taste way better than they smell. (Fish sauce. I rest my case.)

The point I want to make about bacon fries is that they smell way better than they taste, and they taste (are you ready for this?) … absolutely insanely wonderfully delicious. Go figure! Who would have guessed that french fries, already one of the best things in life, could be improved on by the best thing in life? And here’s where I wish I had actually invented my dream punctuation, the sarcastic mark, instead of just talking about it for 25 years.

Of course … bacon fries!!!

Where to get them is Broken Record, the great bar with the even greater backroom kitchen, way out in the Excelsior District. I’m pretty sure that people have been telling me about Broken Record for a long time. "Broken Record," they said. "Broken Record … Broken Record … Broken Record," they said and said and said. If only I could think of a way to describe what this sounded like.

Nor am I proud to admit that I didn’t listen. Then: the bar, or the restaurant part of the bar changed hands, or chefs, word was, and alas I had missed the boat. The assumption being that the new people would ruin a good thing, and I, being more than a believer — being an all-out act of entropy, found this reasonable to assume.

But change is change. A good thing can go bad, or vice versa, or a good thing can change into an entirely different good thing. Hold on a second, my estrogen patch is coming loose. Or — I was saying — you can just leave the judgment out of it and say that things change.

All I know is I was playing late-night soccer one night out at Crocker, and afterward some folks were getting a beer, and invited me along, and I said no thank you and they said, "bacon fries."

And just like that a new favorite restaurant was born. All I want to do now is play late-night soccer at Crocker. And I haven’t even tried their burgers yet! Supposedly they trim off all the beef fat and grind it themselves, replacing the beef fat with bacon fat.

Why would anyone ever eat a burger anywhere else, not to mention fries? I can think of reasons. Well, geography, for one. But why would anyone live anywhere but here?

I comfort myself with thoughts of sausages. And the knowledge that technically, I did invent the sarcastic mark. I know exactly what it looks like, and have drawn it many times on cocktail napkins, as well as regular napkins.

Broken Record

Mon.–Sat., 6 p.m.–11 p.m.;

Sun., 6 p.m.–10 p.m.

1166 Geneva, SF

(415) 424-6743

Full bar

Cash only

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

Media res



VISUAL ART/LIT Teresa Hak Kyung Cha isn’t the most famous female representative of conceptual art and the marriage between text and film. But this visual artist and prose lyricist — born in 1951, killed in 1982 — found new zones between film language and the written word. Her body of work, now a hallmark for lesser-known Asian and feminist artists, roughly spans from 1972 to 1981. Cha consciously employs the fragmentation and displacement of text on a page, the flap of an envelope, or carefully selected superimposed images in film, as in the unfinished circa-1980 White Dust From Mongolia.

In White Dust, a young Korean woman experiences physical, cultural, and psychological alienation in China when she is forced to leave Korea during the Japanese occupation. Cha’s purposeful isolation of language and deployment of linguistic breakdowns is instrumental in showing the cultural and geographical dislocation experienced by the film’s main character. In a project proposal, Cha writes that this harrowing experience causes the film’s young woman to "lose all memory and her capacity for speech." The question of whether White Dust‘s female subject can be likened to the artist herself has generated speculation by art historians and museum curators alike.

White Dust superimposes images of Korean women milling through a market and the face of a girl trying to remember. Was Cha creating a story about herself within American society? In 1980’s "Surplus Novel," one of Cha’s lyric poems within Exilee/Temps Morts: Selected Works (University of California Press, 288 pages, $24.95), the author recounts the personal experience of being called a "Yoko Ono," a fraction of one moment within a lifetime of painful cultural estrangement.

On the page, in medias res, are Cha’s deliberately fragmented words evocative of mistaken identity and the splintering of self? In her journals, she notes that she is primarily interested in "how words and meanings are constructed in the language system itself, by function or usage and how transformation is brought about through manipulation, processes such as changing syntax, isolation, removing from context, repetition, and reduction to minimal units."

Cha the conceptual literary artist was interested in showing and interpreting cultural detachment through her art, fueled by examples from the breathing wound of daily life. Even with a grant, Cha never completed White Dust. She was forced off Seoul’s streets due to political unrest in Korea following the October 1979 assassination of President Park Chung Hee. Three years later, she was murdered in New York City by a serial rapist working as a security guard.

The meanings and appearances of words are to the fore as one walks the rounds of "Theresa Hak Kyung Cha: Earth," a Berkeley Art Museum exhibition curated by Constance M. Lewallen, who also edited Exilee/Temps Morts: Selected Works. Words in French, Korean, and English are interspersed with the white space of blank pages that yield no answers. The French word feuilee — which can translate to leaves of a page or literally to "leaf"— is typed in different positions on several sheets of white paper. This gesture may embody the physical movement of falling leaves in autumn, or the structure of Cha’s writing.

Viewers must forge their own interpretations of Cha’s elliptical and occasionally whimsical texts, which sometimes read like song lyrics or chants. Cha’s words lean one toward a growing belief that it is our literary license to break her words down into our own meanings — to shift our attention from the storyteller to the story told. Perhaps then the reality of her murder in the SoHo district’s Puck Building might not be such a slap in the face.

Tethered by her untimely death, the caliber of Cha’s contribution to the art world remains a puzzle. Yet the aesthetic pulse of the day orders one to ignore the conceptual fray. Cha is a thoroughly detail-oriented literary and visual artist. Her methodical work doesn’t entertain or dazzle. It is open-ended in a way that requires its audience to supply part of the vision.


Through Dec. 20, $5–$8 (free for UC students and children)

Berkeley Art Museum

2626 Bancroft, Berk.

(510) 642-0808