Volume 44 Number 09

Holiday blues



Ethea Farahkhan lost her city job Nov. 29, when a round of city layoffs impacting front-line workers took effect.
Farahkhan, a woman of color who was an administrative assistant at San Francisco’s Department of Children, Youth and their Families, said she would have a job if it weren’t for Mayor Gavin Newsom’s decision not to spend money approved by the Board of Supervisors to save people from job losses during the holiday season.

The layoffs rippled through city government as DPH employees with seniority exercised “bumping rights” to replace employees like Farahkhan, who was hired three years ago.

“No one’s in a festive mood. We’re concentrating on making mortgages and buying food to put on our table,” Farahkhan told us when we caught up with her Thanksgiving eve. “I know San Francisco is not exempt from the economic crisis,” she added, “but I feel like our mayor is out of touch. He’s never been in this position.”

If DPH layoff had been covered by existing funds and incoming grant money, as directed by a veto-proof, 8-3 vote of the Board of Supervisors on Nov. 24, she said, “I would definitely have a job to go to.” Instead, Mayor Gavin Newsom announced after the board vote that he was refusing to spend the reallocated funding to halt the 478 DPH layoffs and reassignments.

Farahkhan’s union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021, spent months trying to save these jobs, finally winning over the final supervisor needed to overcome a veto, Sup. Sophie Maxwell, shortly before the vote. Then, for the second time in as many months, the head of the executive branch announced that he would simply ignore the legislative branch.

The impasse doesn’t bode well for a city that’s about to wrestle with a record midyear budget deficit again.
In October, Newsom declared that he would ignore the board’s passage of legislation — by the same 8-3 vote that could override a mayoral veto — to prevent deportation of undocumented youth in custody until they are convicted. It was the first of two actions that seemed to answer the question of whether the mayor is willing to work with the supervisors on the toughest problems facing the city.

That was the question raised last summer when the board discussed a budget analyst’s report that Newsom had either cut or refused to spend about $15.6 million of the $37.5 million that supervisors approved in budget add-backs for the 2008-09 fiscal year. With the mayor cutting 42 percent of program funding that the board fought to restore, trust was already eroding.

During budget deliberation, some progressive supervisors unsuccessfully tried to place hundreds of millions of dollars on reserve, which would give the board some leverage to force Newsom to honor his pledge to work with supervisors on midyear budget cuts, but the board ultimately decided not to do so.

The mayor’s latest rejection came after a long, embittered battle with the union. SEIU members resorted to drastic measures — staging protests in traffic intersections, distributing flyers outside Newsom’s PlumpJack restaurants, barging into his office unannounced singing civil-rights era ballads — to pressure the mayor. But neither those media stunts, nor compromise solutions developed by Sups. John Avalos, Bevan Dufty, and Board President David Chiu, could persuade Newsom to go along with revisiting the DPH cuts.

“Mayor Newsom cannot spend funds the city does not have,” Newsom’s press secretary, Joe Arellano, told the Guardian when asked for an explanation. “The board action didn’t provide any new money — it takes dollars already being used to pay other employees’ salaries.”

The money allocated by the board was already destined for salaries and benefits of other DPH employees, but Sups. Avalos, Chris Daly, and Ross Mirkarimi argued that new federal dollars en route to the city via state and federal channels would bring the department budget back into balance. An estimated $34 million in federal funding is expected to flow into city coffers for health services by mid-2010, but Arellano indicated that the mayor intends to use that money to help balance next year’s deficit.

As the city considers midyear slashes to cope with next year’s monstrous $522 million shortfall, the spirit of cooperation that Newsom publicly emphasized at the outset of last year’s budget cycle now seems dead. Chiu told the Guardian that the only way the board was able to achieve a palatable budget back in July was through controversial partnership with the Mayor’s Office. But when supervisors approached Newsom with alternative solutions for restoring the DPH layoffs, “the mayor was not interested in exploring these different options,” Chiu explained.

Now, Chiu said he’s worried by the implications of the mayor’s defiant approach to the board. “We have two branches of government — legislative and executive. Eleven of us are required to set laws for the city, and the mayor is supposed to carry it out. I hope and believe that the mayor would respect the roles of our respective branches,” Chiu said, carefully choosing his words when asked for his perspective on this trend. “I don’t know how we are going to get through next year if we can’t … not just agree to disagree, but figure out where we agree.”

Chiu’s persistent search for common ground stands in contrast to Daly’s more adversarial approach. In July, just before the board signed off on the 2009-10 budget, Daly floated a proposal to place $300 million on reserve — which would require additional board action to spend, thereby giving supervisors some leverage — but it failed to pass.

Daly also proposed a placing a charter amendment on the ballot that would have required the mayor to fund certain board-approved programs that supervisors deemed especially important. But that failed too when only Sups. Mirkarimi, David Campos and Eric Mar supported it. In a recent conversation with the Guardian, Daly indicated that this possibility could be revived. “It doesn’t matter how many supervisors it takes” to pass legislation, Daly said. “[The mayor] wants to govern unilaterally, and that’s not okay.”

As for the mayor’s latest announcement that he wouldn’t spend the money to restore DPH salaries, Daly said it’s not over yet. “There will be meetings. There will be discussions,” he said. “We’re going to move on this.”

At the same time, midyear cuts are speeding through the pipeline. By Dec. 4, city department heads will have to figure out how to slash their current budgets by 4 percent. By Feb. 20, Newsom is asking for plans to cut an additional 20 percent, plus an extra 10 percent in contingency funding in order to address next year’s gaping deficit.

Those “adjustments,” as they’re called in bureaucratic jargon, promise to be painful. As the next city budget squabble comes into focus on the horizon, the question of revenue measures is still out there and isn’t helped by the current acrimony at City Hall.

Progressive supervisors are also moving to tackle spending areas they deem wasteful, such as a surge in high-dollar management salaries or some of the mayor’s pet projects. Newsom is angling for opening the condo conversion floodgates by letting people buy their way out of the lottery system — a one-time moneymaker that progressives find repugnant because it depletes rental-housing stock.

As the city grows more financially anemic, accusations of mismanagement abound. After the board’s vote on DPH cuts, Newsom was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle saying that progressive supervisors are in a “reality-free zone.”

But Farahkhan and other SEIU employees who are facing layoffs during the holidays believe Newsom is the one who is living on a different planet. “He’s at the top of the pay scale,” Farahkhan said, “and out of touch with everyday working people.”



Service reductions that will affect about half of all Muni routes start Dec. 5, the result of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s early summer deal to close a $129 million budget deficit for the current fiscal year. And that’s just the beginning of the bad news.
Less than halfway through this budget cycle, SFMTA is already looking at an additional $45 million deficit, partly because of the agency’s failure to follow through on plans to increase parking revenue, such as the stalled proposal to extend parking meter hours (see “We want free parking!” Oct. 28).
So additional layoffs and Muni service reductions or even another fare hike are possible, even though Muni fares have already doubled to $2 since Gavin Newsom became mayor. SFMTA officials say midyear budget reduction decisions will be made by the SFMTA Board of Directors over the next two months.
But for now, to find out how this week’s Muni service reductions will affect you, visit www.sfmta.com. (Steven T. Jones)

Our Weekly Picks



Baroness became one of the most promising bands in heavy music with the release of 2007’s The Red Album (Relapse), generating high expectations for its new monochromatic opus, The Blue Album (Relapse), released this fall. Driven by the squalling vocals and versatile technique of guitarist John Baizley (who also has made a name for himself as a visual artist) the band has exceeded the high hopes of their fans with an offering that combines muscular riffing, allusive Southern flair, and affecting dynamics. Those gathered at Bottom of the Hill will rock out to standouts like “Ogeechee Hymnal” and “The Sweetest Curse.” (Ben Richardson)
With Earthless, Iron Age
9 p.m., $14
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th, SF
(415) 626-4455


Handmade Ho-Down
Over 55 crafty bitches will participate in the Handmade Ho-Down, SoMa’s first craftstravaganza urban street fair. This means you will have 55 very good reasons to blow some cash. From pillows to wall prints, there will be something precious for everyone. Forget the stench of mothballs, this ain’t your grandmother’s fluorescent-lit craft show. And what’s a street fair in San Francisco without booze and music? There will be a full holiday bar along with a DJ so you can drink, dance, and shop to your heart’s content. Bring unused art supplies to benefit Drawbridge, a nonprofit art program for homeless and at-risk youth, and get there early for a free SWAG bag. (Lorian Long)
6 p.m., free
1015 Folsom
1015 Folsom, SF

Black Christmas
Some call 1974’s Black Christmas the first-ever slasher film — it predates Halloween by four years, and its sorority-sister victims are picked off one by one as the movie progresses. (It also beat 1979’s When a Stranger Calls to the creepy prank-caller punch.) With an incredible cast (Olivia Hussey! Margot Kidder! John Saxon! Keir Dullea!) and atmospheric direction by the late, great Bob Clark (who also helmed that other holiday classic, 1983’s A Christmas Story), Black Christmas remains legitimately spooky, as well as one of the greatest holiday-horror flicks ever made. Traveling moviemeister Will the Thrill presents the film tonight with live music by Project Pimento; check the Thrillville Web site for deets on the Dec. 10 show in San Jose. (Cheryl Eddy)
8 p.m., $10
Four Star
2200 Clement, SF
(415) 666-3488

Joshua Churchill and Paul Clipson
In conjunction with NOMA Gallery’s current “Until the Bright Logic is Won/Unwishpering as a Mirror is Believed” exhibit by artists Peggy Cyphers and Joshua Churchill, Churchill and Paul Clipson are presenting a this one-off sound and film performance. I’m imagining two hours filled with Brian Eno-y abstractions and spiritual glosses of nature’s lovely things. If that isn’t unclear enough, maybe the curious misspelling in the show’s title, lifted from Hart Crane’s poem “Legend,” might help. I’m referring to switcheroo of the h in “Unwishpering” (the original being “Unwhispering”). Assuming it was intentional, we now have a new word that undoes the whispering of a wish. Come witness this etymological birthing as Churchill and Clipson unwishper in your eyes and ears. (Spencer Young)
7-9 p.m., free
NOMA Gallery
80 Maiden Lane, 3rd floor, SF
(415) 391 0200

Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes
Dreading December’s inevitable mall trip? Consider Golden Girls’ Dorothy your inspiration: “You know Robbie wants a Batman hat. I went to six different stores, they were all sold out … Ugh, I cannot believe a person would push a perfect stranger out of the way, step on her hand, and give her an elbow to the forehead just for a Batman hat. But I did it anyway.” Ah Bea Arthur, what ever will we do without you? But although our favorite sassy grandmas may no longer be churning out the pithy one-liners they once were, their torch has happily been plucked and held aloft by San Francisco drag queens. The ladies will be performing two of the original series’ very special Christmas episodes line-for-line — rumor has it the fearsome foursome takes on a soup kitchen in one. Get some silver-haired sass for your holiday soul. (Caitlin Donohue)
7 and 9 p.m. (also Fri.-Sat., through Dec. 26), $20–$25
Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory
1519 Mission, SF

The 13th Small Format Art Sale
My grandma did beautiful paintings of Texas hill country, but nowadays I’ve only got one ’cause the durn things are too large to qualify as carry-on luggage. Would that Grandma had lived in the age of the The Lab’s small-work-and-postcard art show. The space’s 13th annual celebration of all things tiny and beautiful is perfect for that nomadic creative type on your shopping list. And as a nomadic creative, I’m fully ready to celebrate some innovative, postal service-friendly designs, accumulated during an egalitarian open submissions call. If while there you are shoulder-tapped by a man or woman who wants to show you what’s in their pocket, be not alarmed. They’re a representative of the Museum of Pocket Art, a group that piggybacks larger gallery events to show wallet-sized works. Or they’re a total perv. Only one way to find out … (Caitlin Donohue)
6–-9 p.m. reception (continues through Sun/6), free
The Lab
2948 16th St., SF
(415) 864-8855

The Dead Hensons Finale Extravaganza
While cuddly Muppets and innovative creature designs are probably the first things that pop into most people’s minds when they hear the name Jim Henson, the late creative genius also incorporated wildly catchy music into his productions, using songs that still have the power to transport listeners back to their youth when hearing just a few bars of tunes such as “Pinball Number Count.” Capturing that unbridled sense of joy and innocence, The Dead Hensons perform selections from the early days of The Muppet Show and Sesame Street, and are known to cause spontaneous bouts of dancing and sing-alongs with their rockin’ interpretations. Tonight the eight-piece band will joined by several special guests, including members of Rogue Wave, No Doubt, and more. (Sean McCourt)
9:30 p.m., $12
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th St., SF.
(415) 621-4455

Lower Haight Art Walk
Whether you like it or not, the holidays are here. Avoid the bloated shopping malls and the schizophrenia of Union Square, and hit up the Lower Haight for its “Holiday Edition” Art Walk instead. The event takes place between the 400 and 700 blocks, and nearly 30 merchants will participate with live music, art shows, live painting, and waistband-threatening holiday munchies. There will be window and tree display contests, which means you might see Baby Jesus robotripping with a pacifier in his mouth, or Santa and Rudolph getting bestial under the mistletoe. This is the Lower Haight, after all, and one should expect something subversive and oddly charming from such a crazy yet cozy spot in the city. Fuck Macy’s and fuck carolers, the Xmas spirit thrives with the freaks and geeks of Haight Street. (Long)
7–10 p.m., free
Haight (between Pierce and Webster), SF


The Cranberries
Before emo came along and turned 13-year-olds into crybabies, there was the Cranberries. Dolores O’Riordan was the mouthpiece for many angst-ridden adolescent girls in the mid-1990s. Say what you will about the band, there’s no denying the sense of dreamy giddiness one feels whenever “Linger” or “Dreams” plays on the radio. Memories of flannel dresses, cassette tapes in your backpack, and the anticipation of another glorious episode of My So-Called Life can overwhelm you with sugary-sweet nostalgia. Following in the footsteps of such holy-shit! reunions like Pavement, Jesus Lizard, and Sunny Day Real Estate, the Cranberries — performing with the original lineup — could name their tour “Everyone Else Is Reuniting, So Why Can’t We?” It’s been seven years since the band last toured, so let’s hope “Zombie” still has sharp teeth. (Long)
8 p.m., $36
Regency Ballroom
1290 Sutter, SF
(415) 673-5716

“Exercises in Seeing”
Wish you could give up the heavy-lidded responsibility of having eyeballs day in day out? Hate having to constantly gaze, blink, scan, squint, divert, and cry? And tired of going to art shows where all you do is look at things? Or maybe you just hate art altogether? Well, tonight’s your lucky night. You can wear two eye-patches if you want, because those pesky wet balls will be useless at this exhibit. For one night only, poet David Buuck will audibly walk you through artwork in the dark by 30 local and international artists — artwork even he hasn’t seen! All you have to do is listen or sleep or walk around and relive your first sexual experiences by “accidentally” groping people. (Young)
9 p.m.–6 a.m.
Queen’s Nails Projects
3191 Mission, SF
(415) 314-6785


Om Shanti Om
Om my gawd, y’all — Om Shanti Om is playing the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts! Set within the world of Bollywood, this 2007 monster hit from director-choreographer Farah Khan (she choreographed 2001’s Monsoon Wedding) works cameos galore into the tale of good-hearted, 1970s-era bit player Om (Shah Rukh Khan), who falls for movie star Shanti (Deepika Padukone), not realizing she’s already entangled with sinister producer Mukesh (Arjun Rampal). Stuff — betrayals, tragedy, reincarnation, revenge plots, haunting — happens, but you know you wanna see Om Shanti Om primarily for the glorious musical numbers, and for the mighty SRK, gloriously corny here (as always). (Eddy)
2 p.m., $6–$8
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission, SF
(415) 978-2787

Formed in Sweden in 1990, legendary black metal group Marduk was designed, in the words of founding member Morgan Hakansson, to be “the most blasphemous metal act ever.” Although it draws from similar lyrical themes as other groups in its genre, such as the requisite references to Satanism and gore, Marduk adds several other diabolical layers, notably imagery and historical content from World War II. Marduk had to cancel its opening slot appearance for Mayhem earlier this year due to visa issues — this is the first chance in years for Bay Area metal fans to see one of the most brutal acts in our neck of the woods. (McCourt)
With Nachtmystium, Mantic Ritual, Black Anvil, Merrimack and DJ Rob Metal
8 p.m., $20
DNA Lounge
375 11th St., SF
(415) 626-1409

A Multimedia Event with Califone
The lonesome crowded West has an apt soundtrack in the music of Califone, whose very name evokes rustic Americana. Some groups never let a good song get in the way of atmosphere, while others are guilty of just the opposite. In contrast, Califone frequently manages to combine strong songcraft with an attention to scene-setting detail. And that it should — its new album All My Friends are Funeral Singers (Dead Oceans) shares the same title as the feature film directorial debut of the group’s Tim Rutili. In fact, tonight the band supplies a live score to Rutili’s movie, which stars Angela Bettis, the petite-but-tough-as-nails presence at the core of low-budget horrors such as May (2002) and Tobe Hopper’s not-bad 2003 remake of Toolbox Murders. A throwback to a time when actual actresses rather than Hollywood fembots had lead roles in U.S. movies, Bettis plays a fortune-teller who lives in an old house at the edge of the woods. Califone plays the music. (Johnny Ray Huston)
8 p.m., $16
Great American Music Hall
859 O’Farrell, SF
(415) 885-0750
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Solar flair


Sonny Smith knows how to write a song. He better, because he’s writing a lot of them. The Oakland resident is currently shoulders-deep in a mammoth project titled “100 Records” that combines music he’s composed and recorded with cover visuals by a not-small army of Bay Area artists. Anyone who has heard Smith’s 2006 album Fruitvale (Belle Sound) or read his column for the Examiner is aware that he has a direct, colorful way with words. Anyone who has found a copy of Tomorrow is Alright (Soft Abuse/Secret Seven), the new album by Smith’s group Sonny and the Sunsets, realizes he has a gift for classic melody: “Too Young to Burn” is worthy of Ronnie Spector; “Death Cream” is a balm; and “Planet of Women” is the kind of music that will give you that summer feeling on Christmas Day. In the immediate wake of Tomorrow, I asked Smith some questions.

SFBG Around the time of Fruitvale, you sent out a little black-and-white comic called Life and Times of a Mindless Ape as your musician’s bio. I liked reading about your Bolinas youth.
Sonny Smith My folks moved all around the Bay Area when I was young, so I wasn’t a Bolinas kid. That’s what you could do back then, even if you had no money — one year you could live in Bolinas, the next on a houseboat in Sausalito, then in the Mission, then in the Sunset, and back to Fairfax.
They met at an anti-Vietnam rally in Golden Gate Park in the Summer of Love. My dad was in the seminary in San Anselmo; my mother was a resident at Baker Street [halfway house]. One could be a bohemian back then. My dad was a fan of writers like Brautigan and Kerouac, and he was part of a circle of old-time string band musicians that included sculptors and painters and artists.

SFBG Can you tell me more about the gentleman with the tarot deck in Paris that you mention in Mindless Ape?
SS Laurent Despot was the man I met. At the time he was a freelance journalist working for magazines, smut or otherwise. I was transformed by the tarot reading and it might have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Basically he was a very nice man who helped a 17-year-old sleeping in the Paris Metro. He also lived exactly across the street from his wife, which I now see as wonderful.

SFBG I have to ask you about the Fruitvale song “Mario,” because it reminds me of a Mario.
SS I lived next to a big Latino family, and their driveway was by my living room window. The teenage son would hang out in the family minivan late at night and listen to tunes. One night I peeked through our blinds and I saw him in there putting on makeup and dressing up as a woman, partying a bit, making some phone calls, and then taking the makeup back off, going back to the Latino teen with slicked back hair. Fruitvale is a tough place to be anything but macho, so I was thinking how tough you gotta be to be a queen in the ghetto. We found the toughest beat ever created — “We Will Rock You” by Queen — and we started with that, then tried to make it a little desperate and sad but fighting to the end.

SFBG How did the idea behind your “100 Records” project come about? In terms of hypergraphia or forced hypergraphia, [the Magnetic Fields’] 69 Love Songs (Merge, 1999) comes to mind, but this is quite different.
SS I didn’t intend to write so many songs. I had written a novel last winter about all these fictional musicians, and I got a small residency at the Headlands to write songs for these fake singers and make sketches of what their albums would look like. I thought that might be cool to insert in the novel. But I farmed a few drawings out — one to artist Paul Wackers, one to Mingering Mike [godfather of fake 45s], some to a few artists at Creativity Explored, and a few others to people I met through Headlands. The pieces were so amazing that I couldn’t not do that for all of the songs, and I couldn’t slack on the song-production end. So my novel just kinda broke up into this epic art project. Now there are about 60 artists, and I’m trying to do 200 songs. Marc Dantona has been helping me produce some sessions. We have a little wrecking crew band, and we are knocking shit out left and right. The “100 Records” show will be in April at Gallery 16.

SFBG Tell me about some of the bands and musicians of “100 Records.” Who are they, what are their back stories?
SS There are about 50 so far — Beachticks, Cabezas Cordades, Little Antoine and the Sparrows, Earth Girl Helen Brown, Zig Speck & Specktones, Prince Nedick, Bobbie Hawkins, the Fuckaroos.
Prince Nedick for instance was born Washington Rice, and for a short period was a child preacher in his hometown of Turkey Creek, near Leicester, N.C. He started his showbiz career as a dancer, working at the 81 Theater in Atlanta as a young teenager. Rice was gay and flamboyant; he worked the tent shows in drag, a great Southern showbiz tradition in itself, and an important influence on rock ’n’ roll — hence the term “tent show queen.” He sang the repertoire of said tradition, many of the same tunes Little Richard would clean up and take to the bank, like “Tutti Frutti” (original lyrics: “Tutti Frutti/Good booty/If it don’t fit/Don’t force it/Just grease it/Make it easy”). He was known for his flashy style and violent temper. At the height of his fame, he went on the lam for assaulting his brother’s wife with an ax, and ultimately ended up in Minglewood, a lumber camp a few miles east of the Mississippi in Dyersburg, Tenn.

SFBG Are there box sets or large music projects (Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music, for example) with an artistic element that you especially love?
SS Harry Smith’s is a huge influence definitely — probably the biggest. Mingering Mike, certainly. Woody Guthrie just swimming through all those songs over the years is influential. I wanted to step into a place where everything is available at all moments to be music, to be art, and it appears I had to come up with alteregos to allow that.

SFBG Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?
SS My girlfriend’s dad was named after Eugene V. Debs.

No escape from Azeroth


World of Warcraft
Blizzard Entertainment (PC, Mac)

Most games don’t celebrate anniversaries, nor do they last long enough to celebrate five. World of Warcraft is so unlike most games that its recent milestone seems like just a pit-stop on the way to its 10th, or 15th year. Produced by Blizzard Entertainment in Irvine, the Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG) has rewritten the rules of the possible when it comes to computerized entertainment, smashing records of size, scope, and popularity with every new press release.
Since it debuted Nov. 23, 2004, players have logged cumulative years of their lives into the game, creating characters and venturing forth into a vast world filled with ax-toting foes and ravenous, mythical beasts. Their progress is driven by the accumulation of experience (doled out for vanquishing enemies and completing epic missions); reputation (among fellow players and also the computer-controlled “nonplayer characters” that pepper the vast, living world); and loot, the not-so-secret lifeblood of the MMORPG enterprise, which pumps through the endless “my sword is bigger than yours” status grind at the heart of the game. Thanks to the $15 subscription fee that each player ponies up each month, Blizzard has raked in around $1 billion in revenue each year.
With 11.5 million subscribers, World of Warcraft is now more populous than that titan of central African geography, Chad. Drawing on huge user-bases in China, Korea, and Europe, along with its North American stronghold, Blizzard has strangled the MMORPG market with both fists. The game is so popular and so time-consuming, furthermore, that it is in direct competition with virtually every other game released. Those caught in the icy clutches of “WoW” must decide whether they can afford to take time off to enjoy the new console shooter or world-building strategy fest.
In other circumstances, the overweening success of a single game would prove frustrating to its competitors: other developers trying to get their products in the hands of receptive audiences. Except in this case, most of those developers are themselves addicted to what some call the “World of Warcrack.” Far from resenting the pixelated equivalent of smokeable cocaine, these designers, some of them genuine gaming nobility, are just as starving for new content and phat lewts as the next Cheeto-stained WoW-head.
This kind of unquenchable hunger for the game will surely serve as the focus for much of the mainstream fifth-anniversary coverage. Bound up in WoW’s immensely popularity, unending structure, and time-sucking nature is a good deal of human iniquity. Five years of endless questing have given us “Warcraft widows” — significant others spurned in favor of virtual breastplates. A blind item on popular gossip site Gawker.com implicated the game in the breakup of a prominent celebrity couple. There have been murder plots and accidental deaths. Sweatshop-style “gold farms” in places like China force teenage employees to spend endless hours accumuutf8g virtual currency to sell on the Internet black market, much to the consternation of Blizzard.
Despite its addicting foibles, World of Warcraft shows no sign of slowing down. Cataclysm, the third expansion to the game, will reap huge profits — on top of the monthly subscription fees — when it comes out next year, promising new areas to explore and new characters to inhabit. In case you thought you had any hope of avoiding this magical, alternate world, be warned — a feature film directed by Sam Raimi is already in the works.

Big bang


THEATER “Stop the world, I want to get off” — a hoary phrase of pop weltschmerz that only now strikes me as a choice bit of narcissistic prurience, thanks to Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. The phrase doesn’t actually figure in his latest work, a date-play apocalypse called boom, but when you see the play you too will encounter unexpected resonances between world-shaking existential dread and the most banal of Craigslist innuendo.
The personals posting that actually gets the ball rolling promises something more like “sex to change the course of the world.” Finally, some truth in self-advertising. For as it happens, the man who placed the ad, Jules (a delightfully earnest Nicholas Pelczar), is a young marine biologist who through diligent study of the nervous diurnal habits of tropical reef fish has deduced the end of the world by comet — in what, by the opening of the action, is about a few minutes time. Accordingly, he has lured an eager and feisty young journalism student named Jo (a terrific, wound-up and wounding Blythe Foster) to his creepily well-stocked underground lab-lair to, little does she realize, repopulate the soon-to-be-barren earth. Never mind that Jules is a big gay virgin, or that Jo turns out to detest the very thought of babies: this is the End of the World, people.
But of course rare is the hookup that matches what it promises, fate of humanity notwithstanding. Given our would-be Adam and his don’t-even-think-about-it Eve, things look increasingly dire for a race suddenly dependent on two maladapted virgins whose strange backgrounds — he, the sole survivor of a cursedly accident-prone family; she, hard-wired to faint at the first sign of danger — may or may not bode well from an evolutionary point of view. On this Darwinian date with destiny, Jules and Jo rank as colder fish than their tropical roommates, staring back at them from the aquarium center stage.
Such contrasts between the mundane and the profound make for good comedy, especially in the very sharp production at Marin Theatre Company helmed by Ryan Rilette, but they also spark insight in a work that, for all its winning humor, ponders without pretension serious themes none too arbitrary here at what does kind of look like the end of the line for life as we know it.
boom is never heavy about it, but it thoughtfully celebrates the ambiguous nature of things, or indeed the ambiguity in Nature itself. It’s a bracing tonic — whether in comedy or tragedy, you can always make my entendre a double. Nachtrieb and MTC serve up a stiff one, spiked with an even headier irony: the story we are watching of a heavily freighted blind date gone horribly wrong is itself actually a museum exhibit from the far future side of our impending doom, operated by a slowly unraveling docent (played with Chaplin-esque aplomb by an irresistible Joan Mankin) during what turns out to be her last day on the job, after many creatively frustrated work-years under heartless management.
But Nachtrieb, the San Francisco–based playwright responsible for some of the more successful and smart comedies of recent years (Hunter Gatherers; T.I.C. Trenchcoat in Common), has never shied from the deeper social implications of his effortlessly hilarious send-ups of familiar human foibles — probably because his characters are always so lovingly rooted in their particular time and place, they just rise up naturally from his stories. boom, which is reportedly the most-popularly produced new play in the country this year, is no exception. Its human touch makes its posthuman dimensions somehow strangely reassuring. It’s as if, in almost diffident fashion, the play succeeds where the dogged journalism student in Jo would: in wringing a modest moral (and a final A) from the blackest hole of tragedy and the detritus of cliché — you know, “in some small, stupid way that’s sort of uplifting.”

Through Dec. 6
Wed, 7:30 p.m.; Thurs–Sat, 8 p.m.; Sun, 7 p.m., $31–$51
Marin Theatre Company
397 Miller, Mill Valley
(415) 388-5208

Answer me!


SONIC REDUCER As changeable, transformative chameleon year ’09 draws to a close, El Niño flurries sweep out the past, and all present plunge into the hassle and hustle of the holidays, I’m looking for answers — signposts if not certainties. Like so many others, I’m poking at the tea leaves and searching for clues to elemental queries, laying out the cards and reading into the arcana, listening to the muses and studying the alchemy generated by that admixture of human breath, reverberating strings, and sounds that make the air shiver and shimmer.
Q: Who are you?
A: Bend an ear to the recent past: namely Devendra Banhart’s What Will We Be (Warner Bros.), a release that likely never truly got its due. A lethally laid-back hybrid of ragged ragtime, weird new blues, and soak-in-the-rays beach music perfect for lounging in the hot sand, What Will We Be struck me at first as almost too amorphous, soft and shapeless, languorous and borderless to get a grip on. It’s as if Banhart has made the sonic equivalent of a slippery-slidey alien sock monkey.
But listen to it loud with headphones or earplugs, and you find plenty of earthly details and many off-kilter digressions to love — and recognize, like those Renaissance Faire carousers who live in the flat below on “Chin Chin and Muck Muck,” the young turks on the loose in “16th and Valencia, Roxy Music.” You’ll also discover a deep spiritual yearning (aphorisms and nuggets of wisdom stud the album) to break through the bounds of pop forms into something wholly else. Banhart has acquired some major industry projectors of late — Warner Bros., and Neil Young manager Elliot Roberts — but considering What Will We Be, a cunning, sprawling work that gently urges you to sink your feet into its mud and stay awhile, it’s clear he’s chosen a higher path.
Q: What do you want?
A: Parse “What Would I Want? Sky” and the petite, avidly recycling footprints of Animal Collective on the new five-track EP, Fall Be Kind (Domino), out digitally last week and physically Dec. 15. Marking the first time the Grateful Dead have ever licensed a sample — the exquisitely sweet, polyrhythmically complex “Unbroken Chain” — “What Would I Want? Sky” artfully entwines Animal Collective’s flirtations with dance music, washes of choral color, and a snippet of Phil Lesh’s tweaked “sky” cry.
The Dead’s blissed-out ode to the threads connecting the singer and the song of the western wind, lilac rain, and willow sky grows fresh, forceful tendrils and takes on new contours as Animal Collective chooses one beat (a levitating one) and one natural image and follows it. “Oh, grass is clinking/and new order’s blinking/and I should be footing/but I’m weighted by thinking,” goes the call to the natural world, as synthetic violins ripple like blades of grass. The woods of would-be “would”s and clanging metal percussion fall away, and the thicket of vocals unifies into a declarative, “What I want: Sky!” Just one gem among many within this a sparkling end-of-the-year grab bag.
Q: What shall we do?
A: We shall have a “Funky Funky Christmas,” according to Electric Jungle on In the Christmas Groove (Strut), a comp of rare soul, funk, and blues tracks. Bumping the brass and the organ vamp like the holiday party in some lost Blaxploitation flick of your dreams, “Funky Funky Christmas” pays tribute to mommy fixing food and daddy watching football, along with, oh, yeah, love and peace (“Pass that biscuits please”).
Gimme a piece of the shit-hot harp ’n’ bass interplay of In the Christmas Groove‘s Jimmy Reed opener, “Christmas Present Blues,” and the locked-down rhythm section, background screams, and jittery, shopping-damaged guitar solo of Funk Machine’s “Soul Santa” (“Wouldn’t it be so revealing if Santa had black janky hair?” the Machine asks). I’m irked that for whatever reason the reputedly super-soulful “Getting Down for Xmas” by Milly & Silly isn’t on my copy, but Strut has put together the best Christmas album in an age — and the perfect soundtrack for your next funky ’Mas massive.


The ex-Red Aunt garage-rock girl Kerry Davis ekes out the rage alongside the South Bay rockabilly fiend Legendary Stardust Cowboy. With Touch-Me-Nots. Fri/4, 9:30 p.m., $7. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, S.F. www.hemlocktavern.com
Succumb to real-deal righteousness as the SF legend breaks out the annual holiday show. Sun/6, 8 p.m., $15. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF. www.gamh.com

Psychic Dream Astrology


March 21-April 19
You keep on looking around you for answers instead of turning your attention inward — and it’s just not working. With both Saturn and Pluto trying to kick your butt, now is the time to check in with your motives and general inner workings, no matter how big of a drag that seems. Avoid power struggles by taking responsibility.

April 20-May 20
Even if you were in the right place at the right time wearing the right shoes, you wouldn’t know it. All that fretting about what you don’t have, or what might happen, has distracted you from what you have secured. Make a list of everything you have to be grateful for and check it twice. Take your fears down a notch.

May 21-June 21
Don’t let vanity get in the way of creating a life that suits you. You are too focused on making things look like they’re great while you feel like crapola. It’s OK to let some cracks into your façade. Nothing is lonelier than feeling lonesome around your friends. Share some of your less fabulous feelings with those you trust.

June 22-July 22
Cancer, your tough outer shell is great protection for your sensitive emotional self. It’s also a liability when you’re not being careful. Right now, your fierceness may want to take charge when it’s your gentle ways that need to step forward. Be open to standing your ground without making such a big deal about it, and resist succumbing to your inner bully.

July 23-Aug. 22
This week is excellent for taking emotional risks: gambles that allow you to connect to people, your goals, and other things in a new way. No good will come from barreling through stuff, Leo. Look at the feelings you’ve been sweeping under the rug and have that talk with the folks you need to check in with.

Aug. 23-Sept. 22
A hopeful attitude in the face of uncertainty can aid you in getting where you want to go. Rouse yourself with positive notions about your future, instead of dread and what ifs, and you will still reach your desired goals, but with less wear and tear. Allow hope to drive you forwards, and keep your feet on the ground.

Sept. 23-Oct. 22
Into every life a little rain must fall, and that means you need to be equipped with an umbrella, some galoshes, and/or a resilient attitude. This week, don’t avoid, evade, or rationalize the pains on your path. Nurture yourself through your troubles so you can let them go when you are ready. Strive to rise to the occasion.

Oct. 23-Nov. 21
Don’t over-think things. Your sign is ruler of compulsions and obsessions, so this should be no small task, Scorp. Recognize your habit of reworking the same ideas in your mind. Practice redirecting your thoughts in a more productive (or at least less destructive) direction. Play nice in your noggin.

Nov. 22-Dec. 21
If you get involved in power struggles, you will find yourself at a disadvantage. Sometimes a fight finds you even when you’re doing your best to keep the peace. Either way, standing your ground is grand as long as you can hold that ground. Keep your energies focused on yourself and be an activist when you have more to give.

Dec. 22-Jan. 19
You value camaraderie and need friendship more than you like to let on. Look at what you need from your pals, and what you have to offer them. You are changing and your relationships are likely to follow suit, like it or not. Be flexible! If you co-create your relationships with others, everyone is more likely to get what they want.

Jan. 20-Feb. 18
You may be riddled with uncertainty this week, but don’t despair. It’s time to formulate a plan of your own design that allows you to propel yourself where you want to go. You’ll do best if you stay close to the drawing board. That way, when it’s time to execute your ideas, you’ll be better prepared than you are now.

Feb. 19-March 20
You probably don’t know it, but you’re ready to step out on your own. Doubts and insecurities may be plaguing you, but that’s all they are. You are able, and the time is right to make a bold change. Nothing has to be done in one fell swoop, so play things out in stages that allow room for you to process each piece at a time.

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.

Spacemen two


“I think our interest in the spheres is less scientific, less intellectual, and more primal,” Ripley Johnson of Moon Duo says, when asked if he and bandmate Sanae Yamada have a particular fascination with deep space. “I see it as a sort of existential mirror, or perhaps a visceral catalyst for existential experience.”
The eye-catching quartet of NASA-ESA Hubble Space Telescope images on the cover of Moon Duo’s four-song EP Killing Time (Sacred Bones) evoke untouched realms and a sense of unknowing, even foreboding. But in their uniformity, they don’t bring across the recording’s range, which sways from bass-driven gothic isolation (the title track) to an organ sound that pulses with druggy intensity (“Speed”) to haunted house psych rock (“Dead West”) to tranquility (“Ripples”). Impressively, Killing Time’s disparate songs seem built upon a single mutating rhythm. “I think of it less as motorik than as biological, like the beating of a heart,” says Johnson. “It’s the pulse of life, and I think that’s how we relate to motorik, the sounds of machines, engines, wheels on the highway, trains going down the track. That’s why the song ends but the beat always goes on.”
Moon Duo’s sound isn’t as dense as that of Johnson’s other Bay Area band, Wooden Shjips, but it’s at least as potent. A satellite release before Escape, an album out on Woodsist in the new year, Killing Time essentially throws down the gauntlet in the space race amongst local kosmische- and krautock-influenced groups. The visceral peak is “Speed,” a blast worthy of its obvious antecedents, Suicide and Spacemen 3.
“The first Suicide album [Suicide, 1977; Mute/Blast] is one of the great rock albums of all time,” Johnson says, promptly drifting from Suicide-al thoughts into a discussion of the second word in his band’s name. “I was thinking about favorite duos, because it doesn’t seem like a common arrangement for rock. The inspiration for us initially came from jazz, like the great Rashied Ali albums with John Coltrane and Frank Lowe. But some of my favorite rock-ish albums were made by duos or near-duos: Silver Apples, Royal Trux, Moolah, Chrome, Cluster.”
As for favorite moon movies, Johnson has some. “Probably either A Trip to the Moon (1902) or Countdown (1968),” he says. “I really like non-Hollywood action sci-fi movies, like Solaris (2002), The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Alphaville (1965), Fahrenheit 451, and La jetée (1962).”

Love sex fear death


Philadelphia freedom can become Philadelphia gothdom. Cinematically, I’m thinking of David Lynch’s Eraserhead (1977), the very definition of black-and-white bleakness, and a Philly-filmed movie set within a nightmare. More recently (and obscurely), I’m thinking of Andrew Repasky McElhinney’s far-from-literal 2004 film adaptation of George Bataille’s Story of the Eye, seemingly based in blasted-out sections of the City of Brotherly Love.
Bataille’s obsessive focus on eros’ fusion of love and death is in keeping with Cold Cave, the latest musical project of Wesley Eisold. But gothdom and an appreciation of the occult or morbidity took root in Eisold’s life long before he set base in his current home of Philadelphia, let alone visited Madame Blavatsky’s house there. “We’ve really kept to ourselves, which was the impetus for settling in Philly for a bit,” he says, referring to bandmates Dominick Fernow of Prurient and former Xiu Xiu member Caralee McElroy. “Less distraction, more work. Cheap rent, no need for money.”
For Eisold, the influences behind his current sound can be traced back to adolescent VHS tapes of 120 Minutes, a rare constant during a nomadic youth. “I met my cousin Jacy — who lives in San Francisco, actually — for the first time when I was 11 and he was maybe 13,” he remembers. “You never know what your family is going to be like. He came into my house wearing a Sisters of Mercy shirt and I had a Cure shirt on.”
If the bass on “Hello Rats” from Cold Cave’s Love Comes Close (Matador) recalls the Cure’s Seventeen Seconds (Fiction, 1980) and “I’ve Seen the Future and It’s No Place for Me” on the group’s compilation Cremations (Hospital Productions) sounds like the Cure’s Pornography (Fiction, 1980) blaring from a room down the hall, then cousin Jacy’s tee-shirt cast a spell as well. The bottomless baritone of Sisters of Mercy leader Andrew Ridgely informs Eisold’s vocal approach to tracks such as Cremations’ “An Understanding” and “I’ve Seen the Future,” and Love Comes Close‘s “The Laurels of Erotomania” and title track.
But Cold Cave has more going on than mere ’80s pastiche and nostalgia. A fan of small publishers such as Hanuman and Black Sparrow (“I think Ed Dorn’s Gunslinger is massively underappreciated,” he says) who runs his own small press called Heartworm, Eisold doesn’t merely strike dark poses in his lyrics. An example would be Cremations‘ opening track “Sex Ads,” a direct, truthful song about a pretty common phenom in contemporary life: sexual self-commodification.
“It’s probably the most literal song I’ve ever written,” Eisold says of the track, which ends with a sense of ghostliness akin to Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s 2001 film Kairo. “Of course, us humans will find a way to make intimacy even more detached. I don’t find it strange at all. We’ve built all these machines to do everything else for us, so of course we’ll have a computer be the enabler our friends could never be. It didn’t catch on, but remember 10 years ago or so the Internet was trying to sell thse pieces you could attach to the computer for a simulated fuck? This makes much more sense. Really, I can’t believe how unexcited we are about the world we live in and how realities overlap from a screen to the day-to-day. This meshing of worlds happens so fast that no one has the time to appreciate how strange it is.”
Not exactly “Boys Don’t Cry” — or Fall Out Boy, for that matter. One gets the sense that Cold Cave is still developing, an exciting and perhaps hauntological prospect considering their music to date. Cremations contains some powerful sounds and instrumental passages, from the Nico-caliber fugue “E Dreams” to the outer space loneliness of “Roman Skirts” and the apocalyptic, nuclear radiance of “Always Someone.” If Love Comes Close sacrifices such experimentation on the altar of pop, during a track like McElroy’s vocal star turn “Life Magazine,” the blood tastes like fine wine. Alienation has rarely sounded so ebullient.

with Former Ghosts and Veil Veil Varnish
Thu/3, 9 p.m., $10
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th St., SF
(415) 621-4455

Divided world


Tamim Ansary is a gifted writer whose 2002 memoir West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story is a must-read for anyone wanting to know more about Afghanistan. In this funny, touching book, Ansary, son of an Afghan father and American mother, recalls growing up in a traditional village and later traveling to the United States, where he wound up at Reed College in Portland, Ore., then moved on to San Francisco.
In his new book Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (PublicAffairs, 416 pages, $26.95), Ansary sets out to fill the noticeable Islamic gap in English-language world histories. Ansary concedes Edward Said’s point that the West’s view of Islam has been highly “Orientalist” — prone to emphasize sinister “otherness.” But, Ansary writes, “more intriguing … is the relative absence of any depictions at all.” While working as an editor on a world history textbook for U.S. high schools, Ansary fought for inclusion of more Islamic history. His colleagues on the project were less than receptive. In the end, Islam was the focus of just one of 30 chapters. Ansary writes: “In short, less than a year before September 11, 2001, the consensus of expert opinion was telling me that Islam was a relatively minor phenomenon whose impact had ended long before the Renaissance. If you went strictly by our table of contents, you would never guess Islam still existed.”
Destiny Disrupted is a one-stop antidote to that problem. The prose is fun to read, often graceful and never dull, and steers clear of academic jargon. If school textbooks aspired to this level of writing, there would be fewer bored, uninspired kids in the world.
Ansary is adept at culling from and distilling dense histories to present an Islamic view of world history that acknowledges and teases out various competing strains of Islamic thought. The book presents Islam not only as a religion, but as a social project that takes on political and economic questions and includes a complete system of civil and criminal law. Ansary doesn’t have one particular ideological ax to grind, and is clearly a secular, cosmopolitan intellectual comfortable with ambiguity, paradox, and nuance. He refrains from excessive editorializing, but is also not afraid to call a spade a spade when he’s discussing massacres, wars, or imperial conquest.
Here’s Ansary on Egypt in the 1930s: “Egypt would get an elected parliament, but this parliament’s decisions must be approved by British authorities in Cairo. Beyond these few points, Egypt was to consider itself sovereign, independent, and free. Egypt quickly developed a full-fledged (secular modernist) independence movement, of course, which offended the British, because why would an independent country need an independence movement? Didn’t they get the memo? Apparently not.”
Ansary doesn’t apologize for the harsher aspects of Islamic fundamentalism. In one of the book’s more depressing passages, he writes that he doesn’t see how the Muslim “divided world view” on separation of the sexes can coexist in a single society with more Western ideas of gender mingling. Ansary doesn’t offer a solution to that conundrum, but calls for Muslim intellectuals to grapple with it. Unfortunately, the thinkers he cites doing such work are Iranians now largely discredited in their own society as the U.S. ratchets up pressure on their homeland, tainting anyone associated with Western ideas.
As President Obama continues George W. Bush’s policies of military occupation in Afghanistan, it’s to be hoped that books such as Destiny Disrupted and thinkers like Ansary inspire Americans to start thinking about the Muslim world in new ways. Ideally, these new approaches won’t include aerial bombing of civilians and other forms of “collateral damage.”

They were expendable


“Camera movement” doesn’t even begin to describe the orchestral coordination of tracks, pans, tilts, zooms, and compositional dimensionality comprising Miklós Jancsó’s boldly vertiginous 10-minute takes. The Pacific Film Archive screens a quartet of the Hungarian director’s influential but rarely shown films from the late 1960s and early ’70s, each a kinesthetic rumination on the awful coordinates of martial law — and perhaps the closest cinema has ever come to the epic poetry of The Iliad.
Raymond Durgnat’s account of Jancsó’s “calligraphic” camerawork helps distinguish the director’s style from formalist theorizations of the long take. From Touch of Evil (1958) to Children of Men (2006), thrilling tracking shots have come to stand as the summit of cinema’s realist plenitude. With Janscó, like Stanley Kubrick, omniscience itself is held in doubt. In The Round-Up (1966), a distressing parable of interrogation set during an 1848 campaign against insurgent outlaws, Jancsó’s free-floating camera paradoxically registers the blinkered confusion of imprisonment. The volatility of view calls attention to the partiality of witnessing. Simultaneously, the repetitive movements of degradation and violence signal a repertoire of human evil surpassing any single individual, nation, or war.
In Jancsó’s dialectical form, a Marxist apprehension of the enduring structures of power jostles against the individual’s frightened namelessness. As with Jean Renoir, the long take is not at odds with montage’s multiplication of meaning. Take the first scene after the opening titles of The Red and the White (1967). The camera glides after two Bolsheviks in flight from the counterrevolutionaries — slowly, as if in foreknowledge of the coming reversal. As they wade into a narrow river (the geography of the scene bears curious resemblance to one in 2007’s No Country for Old Men), the composition opens up terrain where another band of cavalrymen are mounting a charge. The two men beat a retreat, and now the recessing camera leads them on. One man hides behind a tree, becoming a surrogate for our own position; the other is not so lucky. An ushanka-clad counterrevolutionary soldier bullies the Bolshevik into the shallow water. The shot cues the man’s final movement: like a felled tree he topples into the drink, the first of many searing images worthy of Goya’s The Disasters of War.
Unlike most combat films, time does not bend to the casualties of war in this scene. The shot proceeds after the man is shot, the seconds flowing over crime and banality alike. You can watch one of these films a dozen times having only seen it once.
Jancsó’s durational use of Cinemascope means that actors cover a lot of physical ground in his shots. The cracked Martian expanse of the Hungarian steppe is their mortal stage, a no-place that pictorially undoes the idea of historical setting. Jancsó’s early films are often linked to the crushed Hungarian Revolution of 1956, but in truth they offer no such comfort of specificity. To the contrary, the films demonstrate how state-sanctioned violence vanquishes particularization, making them more relevant to our Guantanamo-Abu Ghraib era than anything coming to a theater near you.
It was only while watching Red Psalm (1972) that I realized the utopic possibilities of Jancsó’s reanimation of historical space. The film, composed of 28 shots in Van Gogh color, stages a late 19th century confrontation between peasant socialists and nationalist conservatives as a series of concentric rings in which the Marxist call for an alternative course of history is richly imagined, if still damned. Twelve-minute takes notwithstanding, any talk of “real time” in such film is preposterous. Serge Bozon’s 2007 film La France broached a similarly musical vision of armed struggle, but Jancsó’s swirling analysis of fate, theatre, ritual, song, idealism, God, grain, and horror is something uniquely sublime.

Dec. 5–18, $5.50–$9.50
Pacific Film Archive
2757 Bancroft, Berk.
(510) 642-5249

Triumph of the underdog


In Frazer Bradshaw’s Everything Strange and New, Wayne (Jerry McDaniel), wears overalls too large and a look of pained, dazed acquiescence. It’s as if not just his clothes but his life were given to the wrong person — and there’s a no-exchange policy. He loves wife Reneé (the writer Beth Lisick) and their kids. But those two unplanned pregnancies mean she’s got to stay home; daycare would cost more than she’d earn.
So every day Wayne returns from his dead-end construction job to the home whose mortgage holds them hostage; and every time Reneé can be heard screaming at their not-yet-school-age boys, at the end of her tether. Sometimes he silently just turns around to commiserate over beer with buddies likewise married with children, but doing no better. Leo (Rigo Chacon Jr.) is in the middle of a very messy divorce, while Manny (the late Luis Saguar, in a beautiful performance) pretends to be maintaining better than he really is. (He has a surprising secret escape valve, and in one great late scene we realize Leo has one too.)
Wayne’s voiceover narration endlessly ponders how things got this way — more or less as they should be, yet subtly wrong. He might be willing (or at least able) to let go of the idea of happiness. But Reneé’s inarticulate fury at her stifling domestication keeps striking at any nearby punching bag, himself (especially) included. Something’s got to change. But can it?
Cue deus ex machina happy ending. Or so one would in another movie, like Katherine Dieckmann’s supposedly gritty recent Motherhood. But veteran local experimentalist and cinematographer Bradshaw’s first feature, which he also wrote, never stoops to narrative cliché. Or to stylistic ones, either — there’s a spectral poetry to the way he photographs the Oakland flats (few movies have captured ordinary landscapes so vividly). The spinning-in-place sense is underlined by Dan lonsey and Kent Sparling and Dan Plonsey’s score, which melds Philip Glass, Irish folk, and noise-rock caterwaul to externalize all Wayne’s suppressed tumult.
The ordinary wear, tear, and occasional rending of relationships you and I might actually know is portrayed infrequently enough onscreen that when it does turn up, the recognition factor is a little startling. Everything Strange and New seemed a tonic at the Sundance Film Festival this year precisely because it was the kind of indie — quiet, serious, intimate, void of stars and buzz — people complain can’t get made, or even into Sundance, anymore.
Seen again, Everything Strange and New is even better — a film about very small (except to the afflicted), banal (ditto), everyday problems that manages to be mysteriously exhilarating.

EVERYTHING STRANGE AND NEW opens Fri/4 at the Roxie.

Out of reach



On a sunny afternoon in Civic Center Plaza, a remarkable bounty covered a buffet table: coconut quinoa, organic mushroom tabouli, homemade vegan desserts, and an assortment of other yummy treats. The food and event were meant to raise awareness about public school lunches, although it was hard to imagine these dishes, brought by well-heeled food advocates, sitting under the fluorescent lights of a San Francisco public school cafeteria.

The spread was for the Slow Food USA Labor Day “eat-in,” a public potluck meant to publicize the proposed reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, national legislation that regulates the food in public schools. The crowd was in a festive, light-hearted mood. There was a full program of speeches by sustainability experts and a plant-your-own-vegetable-seeds table set up in one corner of the plaza.

A bedraggled couple who appeared homeless made their way through the jovial crowd and started scooping up the food in a way that suggested it had been a long time since their last roasted local lamb shish kebob. Their presence shouldn’t have been a surprise; most events involving free trips down a food table are geared toward a different demographic in this park, which borders the Tenderloin.

In a flash, an event volunteer was on the case, nervous in an endearingly liberal manner. “Sir,” she began. “This food is for the Child Nutrition Act.” And then she paused, searching for what to say next. I imagined her thinking: “Sir, this food is to raise awareness about the availability of sustainable food to the lower classes, not to be eaten by them,” or, “Sir, this good, healthy, local food is not for you.”

But there was no good way to say what she meant to convey. She knew it, and delivered her final line hurriedly before walking away. “If you could just, well, just don’t take like 25 things, okay?” Indifferent to the volunteer’s unspoken reprimand, the couple continued to eat, ignoring the whispers and stares of the social crusaders around them, who all seemed to take issue with their participation in this carefully planned political action.

It was a telling scene from a movement that has yet to really confront its class issues. Though organic grocery stores and farmers markets have sprung up on San Francisco’s street corners, it remains to be seen whether our current mania for sustainable, local food will positively affect the lower classes, be they farm workers or poor families.

Even iconic food writer Michael Pollan acknowledges the challenge the sustainability movement faces in widening its relevance for the poor, citing the high cost of local and organic food as just one of the issues that Slow Foodies and their allies must tackle before they can count the “good food” movement a success.


For the average heirloom tomato eater, the words “organic farm” often conjure up an idyllic agrarian picture: happy communes of earnest farmers growing veggies straight from the goodness of their hearts. In reality, a lot of the people who plant, tend, and harvest produce are poorly paid Latino immigrants. And it might come as a surprise that those who work on small or organic farms often face the same exploitative working conditions as those in conventional agriculture.

To learn how organic farm workers should be treated, consider Swanton Berry Farm, whose fields stretch out along the coastal highway just north of Santa Cruz. Swanton was the first organic farm in California to sign a contract with the United Farm Workers, a move that highlights the owners’ conviction that farm workers be viewed as skilled professionals. Employees are offered ownership shares in the farm and are provided health insurance, retirement plans, comfortable housing, and unlimited time off to attend to pressing family matters.

“Organic is a lot cleaner. Working with pesticides, you have to worry about wearing gloves and covering your skin. Here, you can pick that strawberry right off the plant and eat it,” Adelfo Antonio told the Guardian. He has worked these fields for 20 years, the last five as a supervisor. His high regard for his job and employers is apparent. As we talked, he kept at least one eye fixed on his coworkers, who stretched plastic sheets across the dirt of the field to protect their rows of seed from the coming autumn winds.

Antonio said he appreciates the culture of mutual respect on this farm. “People like how they are treated here. When conflicts come up, our management is open to working through them,” he said. A few minutes later, a break was called, illustrating his point. There had been some disruptive behavior in the company housing and a discussion ensued between the crew and one of the farm’s owners about house rules. The group formulated a plan to avoid trouble in the future.

But Swanton’s egalitarian fields are the exception among American organic farms. The average salary of the estimated 900,000 farm workers in California — the birthplace of the organic and farm labor movements in the U.S. — is around $8,500, more than $2,000 below the federal poverty line.

In 2006, the California Institute for Rural Studies put out a rare study of working conditions on the state’s 2,176 organic farms that suggested that in some respects, workers are better off on conventional farms. Although the average wage was higher on organic fields — $8.20 for entry-level work, compared with $7.91 on conventional farms — traditional agriculture outstripped organic on certain employee benefits. A mere 36 percent of organic businesses were found to provide health insurance to their employees, as opposed to 46 percent on conventional farms.

Unable to rely on chemicals for pest control, organic farms often face higher labor costs in the fields. “Wages and benefits should always be viewed in the wider context of sustainability, and that includes a farm’s ability to stay in business from one year to the next, i.e. its profitability,” said Jane Baker, a spokesperson for California Certified Organic Farmers, the state’s major organic certification agency.

The inequity faced by farm workers belies the fact that the organic movement began as an alternative to the industrialized food system. “Back then, we never would have imagined that you’d be buying an organic product that was built on the backs of workers. For us, social justice was every bit as important as the environmental part,” said Marty Mesh, an organic farmer since 1973 and executive director of Florida Certified Organic Growers & Consumers.

Mesh was involved in the debates over the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s first codification of the National Organic Program. He said that although many farmers advocated for regulations surrounding working conditions, the federal government found it hard to stomach labor stipulations. Many involved felt their inclusion would hurt the growth of the organic industry. So the social movement aspect of organic farming was left on the cutting room floor.

That has not been the case overseas. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, whose organic label is recognized worldwide, adopted explicit social justice language in its basic standards in 2003, stating in their “Principles of Organic Agriculture” document that “organic agriculture should provide everyone involved with a good quality of life and contribute to … reduction of poverty.”

CCOF now offers a dual track certification process wherein California farms can forgo specific IFOAM requirements. The lack of guidelines of worker treatment has led to some problems. “We’ve seen many of the same issues on organic farms that we do in conventional agriculture, on small and big farms alike,” Michael Marsh, directing attorney of California Rural Legal Assistance, told us. CRLA is an organization that regularly provides low cost legal assistance to agricultural workers, whom Marsh has seen bring charges against organic farmers for cases of sexual harassment, underpayment, and job safety concerns.

Sometimes the organic label is even used to justify vioutf8g workers rights. In 2003, the California Legislature considered a bill that would ban “stoop labor,” activities like hand-weeding which require working in bent positions that can cause musculoskeletal degeneration. Organic farmers’ associations lobbied against the bill, claiming that pesticide-free agriculture would suffer under such restrictions. Also, although chemical pest-killers are banned from organic farming, some popular natural pesticides like copper and sulfur have been known to cause irritation of the throat, eyes, and respiratory system.

“This is one of the hardest nuts to crack in the sustainable food world,” said Michael Dimock, executive director of Roots of Change, a San Francisco-based foundation that has developed campaign strategies for improving agricultural working conditions. Three years ago, Dimock left his post as chairman at Slow Food USA, at a time when farm labor conditions “were generally not at the top of the list. Slow Food as an organization is just beginning to figure out what it can do in a meaningful way on this issue.”

Roots of Change has found some success in identifying farm labor challenges and possible solutions through a series of worker-grower forums. It has pinpointed immigration reform as one key to progress. Anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of farm workers in California are undocumented, which puts even fair bosses at risk of being prosecuted for employing illegal immigrants.

Many farm owners turn to labor contractors — essentially agricultural temp agencies — to supply field hands. Use of these middle men largely shields the owner from legal responsibility for illegal hiring, but “the bad farm labor contractors cheat workers, take their pay, and risk their health and safety,” Dimock said.

Some Californian farm labor contractors have become notorious for their disregard of minimum wage and other labor standards, taking advantage of workers who are discouraged to seek help for fear of deportation. The role played by irresponsible contractors is one of many issues that can remain unseen by the buyers of food from farms that rely on the inadequate public information available on agricultural working conditions.


Food management company Bon Appetit in Palo Alto has built a good reputation as a sustainable company, buying its produce and other foodstuffs as locally and organically as possible. “I’ve learned a lot working here,” said Jon Hall, head chef of Bon Appetit’s University of San Francisco cafeteria. “In other kitchens, if you can get something for five cents a pound cheaper, that’s what you buy. If I did that here, people would notice. [My bosses at Bon Appetit] would say, ‘Why’d you buy that?’ ”

But when Bon Appetit executives decided to take on the issue of worker treatment on the farms that supplied their food, they found it difficult to find reliable information on the subject. “We always felt like there was something there that needed to be done and change that needed to take place,” said vice president Maisie Greenwalt. “But we didn’t know who to talk to.”

Her cue to act came from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group from Immokalee County, Fla. The farm workers’ organization brought nationwide publicity to the slavery-like conditions in the area’s tomato fields. Greenwalt accompanied the group on an information-gathering trip to Immokalee and saw firsthand the places where recent immigrants were held to work against their will, living in squalor and being paid little as $20 a week.

Greenwalt saw the travesty as a wake-up call. Collaborating with the Immokalee activists, Bon Appetit developed a workers’ rights contract that all their tomato suppliers must now sign. “After Bon Appetit sent me the contract, I sort of at first didn’t see the point. But then I spoke with the [Coalition of Immokalee Workers] and it made sense. Worker abuse has been around for centuries,” said Tom Wilson of Alderman Farms, one of the company’s tomato growers.
Greenwalt says Bon Appetit cafeterias were prepared to eliminate tomatoes from their menus. “Every chef and manager I talked to said they would rather not serve tomatoes than serve the tomatoes that were coming from these conditions.” But every one of their suppliers signed, agreeing to conditions such as a mandatory worker-controlled safety committee and a “minimum fair wage.”

The success convinced Bon Appetit that this style of food buyer participation is crucial to making positive progress on farm worker treatment. The company is now conducting a nationwide survey of working conditions on organic farms. “Labor’s not a new issue,” said Carolina Fojo, one of the company’s researchers. “But for some reason, people are just now talking about it. We’ve found it can be a sensitive topic for a lot of farmers.”

Visually, Hall’s USF food court is similar to traditional college eateries. But plate-side, Bon Appetit’s commitment to sustainability is clear; specials vary seasonally and food is sourced locally whenever possible. The price for a semester’s meal plan is $3,810, more than twice that of San Francisco State University. Hall’s customers, college students who may eat three meals a day here, often approach him with questions about their food. Queries range from where to how the food was grown, but in no instances that Hall has been aware of, about the workers who grew it.

Labor issues are not the popular cause these days, at least in the sustainable food movement. Unlike the “eat local” and organic food movements, equitable treatment of farm workers has yet to spawn trendy slogans for tote bags or a book on the best-seller list.

One UC Santa Cruz study found that, when asked to rank their concern about food system related topics, Central Coast grocery shoppers assigned higher concern levels to animal treatment on farms than that of humans. But Hall is confident this will change as Bon Appetit and others continue to bring attention to the economically disadvantaged on the front lines of our local and organic food systems.

“This is the next frontier,” he said. “I can see it brewing.”


In school cafeterias across the city, a different low-income group has its own challenges fitting into the sustainable food movement. San Francisco Unified School District manages one of the city’s most important food sources.

Every school day, Student Nutrition Services dishes out 31,000 cafeteria meals; of those, 84 percent go to students who qualify for free lunch or for the reduced price of $2 for elementary school students. It is not a stretch to say that for many of these kids, this is their one chance at healthy food for the day — certainly their only chance to learn about local and organic food. But the school district faces one of the major issues the sustainability movement has yet to resolve. Local and organic food costs a lot to produce, which makes it more expensive. If pricing was more socially equitable and accounted for living wages for farm workers, costs might rise even more. This is a problem. Federal funds supply about $2.49 for each free student lunch in San Francisco and less for the meals of students who do not qualify for reduced prices. After logistical costs like labor and transportation are accounted for, 90 cents per meal is left over for the food itself.

This is not enough to fund a menu like Hall’s. Given the numbers, it should come as no surprise that examining an average SFUSD school lunch — as San Francisco Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer did in his Oct. 29 “Between Meals” online column — turns up a lot of recently thawed, bland food matter. But this is not to say that cafeteria meals have not seen progress. Student Nutrition Services eliminated junk food in 2003, signaling a new attention to nutrition on a menu previously dominated by pizza and french fries.

Unlike working conditions for farm workers, school lunches have the benefit of visibility to middle class consumers and activists. Demonstrable efforts are being made to send some of that 90-cent budget toward local food. But with such a limited budget, institutions like SFUSD can only address a small slice of what is important about sustainable food. Yes, efforts are being put toward buying kids local, pesticide-free food that doesn’t further jeopardize their future by using excessive fossil fuel on transportation. But these limited efforts do nothing to affect the social aspect of sustainability — those who produce the food are again left invisible.

The school salad bar program, started in 2007, uses organic and local vegetables in its buffet line as much as possible. The majority of the bars are strategically located in schools where more than half the student body qualifies for free and reduced-price lunches, a response to a Community Healthy Kids survey that put the number of ninth-graders who had eaten a single vegetable in the last week at 29 percent. Student reaction to the bars has been encouraging. Many poor families credit them with increasing the amount of produce in their kids’ diets.

“This program is an anomaly,” said Paula Jones, director of San Francisco Food Systems. “Other schools around the country just don’t see things like this.”

But a generation’s worth of antitax sentiment has limited the variety of the salad bars and other attempts at getting fresh food onto kids’ lunch trays. Due to high labor costs, the school district buys pre-chopped vegetables, severely limiting sourcing options. In the meantime, another generation of low-income kids is growing up on processed, packaged foods. Jones said making sustainable food available to all children is an issue the community must help take on. “The bottom line is, it’s going to take a lot of people talking about this to realize this is not just the school district’s problem.”

Jones’ organization works on getting healthy food to the city’s underserved populations. Nutritionally, this is the salient mission of our age. Despite its current vogue, only 10 percent of Americans buy organic, and shoppers who consistently choose healthy foods usually find themselves spending 20 percent more. Several California studies have indicated that socioeconomically depressed neighborhoods have disturbingly high rates of food insecurity and obesity.

Despite the enormity of the challenge, Jones remains positive. “We lead in this issue. San Francisco is ready, and we have the will.” She counts among the city’s biggest successes in this area the fact that all farmers markets, typically more expensive than average supermarkets, now accept food stamps.


On a bright autumn Wednesday, market assistant manager John Fernandez stands outside his “office,” a white van with the Heart of the City logo. The Heart of the City Farmers Market takes place in a plaza just between City Hall and the Tenderloin twice a week, year-round. Fernandez said it has the highest food stamp sales — second only to that of the Hollywood market — in California and has played a role in allowing low income families and individuals in the area to fit local and organic food into their budget.

Fernandez has worked here for 13 years, and said that the use of food stamps has doubled since last summer. Most of his food stamp customers are families and individuals coming back week after week. They pass by the van to have Fernandez swipe their food stamp cards through a machine and hand them the yellow plastic coins used to buy everything from persimmons to what is far and away the market’s most popular item: the live chickens that squawk from cages at one end of the line of stalls.

Efreh Ghanen was one of the shoppers we talked to who felt that being able to use her food stamps at the farmers market had improved the health of her family. Ghanen, who shops with her mother and sister, likened Heart of the City to the Yemeni markets where they bought their food growing up. “The honey, fruit, and vegetables here are fresher,” she said. “They just taste better.”

“I definitely wouldn’t be able to shop here if it weren’t for the food stamp program,” echoed Shana Lancaster. She teaches at Paul Revere Elementary School in Bernal Heights, a position funded through AmeriCorps whose low pay automatically qualifies her for the food stamp program. She selects an armful of organic Gala apples while noting the value of shopping local for working people like herself. “I like supporting the farmers. Everyone here at the market has a story. These days, everyone is struggling.”

But both Lancaster and Ghanen tell us that when they can’t afford to shop at the farmers markets, they head straight for corporate retailers like Safeway and Walgreens, buying whatever they need to get by.

Programs like these are essential if the sustainability movement is to remain relevant and widen its reach. Just as the environment will degrade if industrial agriculture continues unabated, so too will local and organic food sources falter if the majority of our society cannot afford to buy their wares.

In the end, the obstacles are about class. Low-income groups, be they the people who grow the organic food or the schoolchildren who benefit from eating it, need to become more of a focus of the “good food” movement. What Slow Foodies and other activists must keep in mind is that over-accessorizing a cause (as with esoteric artisan products and exclusive dining experiences) makes it less a vehicle for change and more like reshuffling of the same old injustices. Social change, by definition, has to be for everyone. Because elitism tastes as bad as it always has.

For more information, check out “Fair Food: Field to Table,” a multimedia project recently released by the California Institute for Rural Studies. CIRS is one of the leading researchers of working standards on Californian farms and its data is found throughout this article. Watch the Fair Food documentary for free at www.fairfoodproject.org.

Of the earth


Boink likes sushi. Specifically he goes for the California roll. Only without avocado. Or seaweed. Or, come to think of it, rice. Boink likes crab.
There’s a sushi joint between their house and the preschool he goes to, and we walk past it and Boink wants sushi. I remember the first time I was surprised, because though we cook everything in the world together, I have rarely seen him eat anything that wasn’t peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the crust cut off.
“Sushi, Boink?” I said. “You like sushi?”
“Me too,” said his little sister, Popeye the Sailor Baby. “I like sushi.”
Their mom had packed us snacks. “Me three,” I said.
When I was in grade school there was a substitute teacher name of Carmen Pomponio who shaped my life more than any of my teacher teachers, give or take Sister Esther. Carmen Pomponio had black greasy hair, a beard, dark, deep eyes, and a funny way of talking. He spoke in a languid, sibilanced drawl that was not Southern so much as careless, and I suppose I’m in love with him still.
The teacher teachers used to give him elaborate instructions about which chapter in which book to read, etc. They gave him assignments to give to us. They were sick, but still they were thinking about our intellectual advancement.
Carmen Pomponio always looked like he was thinking about something else, and whether we were in the second grade or the sixth, we all knew what it was: Mark Twain. We could see the little paperback bulge in his tweed coat pocket, and knew he wanted to read to us as badly as we wanted to be read to.
From a distance of 2,000 miles and 40 years, it’s impossible to say who was playing whom. But he would go through the motions — the teacher said this, the teacher said that — reading off of a little piece of paper, a sweat starting on his forehead, his fat lips a-tremble, setting us up, against his better judgment, for our actual lesson. And once he had mapped out in substitute-teacher detail what we were all supposed to do, according to our home-sick teacher, he would look up from his notes, a kind of calm spreading over his face like pizza sauce, and say, “Or I could read you some Twain.”
The first time we might not have known what Twain was, especially the way he said it: “Twaayyyn.” But what kid wouldn’t opt for Twain over Teacher? And after he’d read some Twain once, no class in its right collective mind would let him finish outlining his assignments. Sometimes we didn’t let him start. As soon as you saw Carmen Pomponio in your classroom you would beg in chorus, and in his jangly accent, “Read some Twaayyyn! Read some Twaayyyn!”
As far as I can recall, he always did, doing the characters in different voices and everything. Jim. Huck. Tom. Even Miss Watson. And our little brains churned into butter. How anyone in that school could possibly not grow up to be a writer is beyond me.
Carmen Pomponio had his priorities straight. Some things are a little more important than learning, or even playing. The two I’m thinking of, Mark Twain and sushi, are way more important. Both of them, I would argue, are “of the earth.”
At Kobe-Ya, a dive sushi-to-go joint without a lot of raw fish on the menu, Boink and Popeye stand on the bench seats and dissect California rolls with fingers, chopsticks, forks, and … yeah, mainly fingers. Boink breaks the sushi open like shellfish, picks out the crab, and Popeye kind of cleans up after him, also like shellfish. I use the word “cleans” poetically. Most of the rice winds up on the floor, in the cracks on the bottom of their sneaks, and in my hair.
Me, I’m eating noodles, chicken udon, which is $5.50 for a pretty big bowl, and good. Plus it’s fun for the kids, or at least these ones, who get a kick out of playing with steam.
If you have not yet taken a toddler out for sushi, I recommend it. Just leave a big tip because rice is pretty sticky. You know.
Daily, 11 a.m.–8 p.m.
2300 Encinal, Alameda
(510) 337-1966
Beer & sake

Attack of the 50-foot MILF


Dear Andrea:
I initially missed the hot-for-friend’s-mother definition of MILF, and was introduced to the phrase, sweetly, by a former lover. He wasn’t trying to separate the fuckable mothers from the nonfuckable, or fetishizing fecundity. Since we were both middle-aged, he wasn’t designating me a MILF based on the understanding of it that you and the writer of “Still Hot” hold [“Milfbone,” 11/18/09]. He simply meant that my being a mother was one of the things he found attractive about me — he is a devoted father — and that he wanted to fuck me. When you are covered with spit-up or finger paint, when most of your social events involve the PTA, it’s nice to know you’re still hot — maybe even hot because, rather than in spite of, your momitude.
His use of MILF made me feel attractive and desirable. It told me I was still sexy. Indeed, it implied that part of my appeal was my maturity: not the maternal qualities in an icky, “I want to suckle your milk-filled breasts” way, but that he preferred me to young ’uns and to the big-boobed brainless bimbos. “I think Stacy’s mom is way hotter than her teenage daughter; I’d rather F her, because, while society says I should de facto be more attracted to the young girl, I’m more into the woman my own age.” I doubt very much that I’m hot to a 14-year-old. But I might want to be to his dad.
So although I understand your discomfort with the acronym and the letter- writer’s outrage, I have a fondness for the term. When you are a mother, you’re different from when you weren’t a mother — not better or worse, but changed. If someone wants to F you, for whatever reason, you are by definition, a M he-or-she would L to F.
Finally, I don’t dismiss the power of words or names. I instruct young people not to use terms like “wife-beater.” I find it incredibly offensive to equate a still-libidinous woman over 40 with a predator, especially since she is simultaneously the object of contempt and ridicule. I get how insulting it is to be objectified and demeaned through language. And I am aware of the implicit sexism and cultural disregard for — -if not downright fear of — women’s sexuality. But.
Does everything have to be so complicated? Can we stop looking for reasons to be outraged?
Glad 2B
Dear B:
Certainly! But I don’t think “Still Hot” was outraged as much as she was puzzled and maybe made a little irritable by trying to figure out if she still rated as an attractive woman or only, now that she had a kid, as one of the scarce-enough-to-be-worth-a-special-coinage exceptions to a perceived rule (moms are not sexy). For myself, I at least hope I don’t go around wasting my outrage on silly examples of what I’m going to term “folk demographics,” terms spawned by popular culture to describe human phenomena of current cultural interest. Children dying for lack of health care? Outrage. New(ish) and offensive ways to categorize women by perceived attractiveness, not too different from the old ways? Annoyance. And by the way, I pretty much ceded you the column this week and think highly of you, but I was reading along, nodding happily, when I stumbled over “big-boobed brainless bimbo” and landed — thud — wondering how “B-B B B” is any less misogynist than “cougar.” It isn’t, of course. That sort of casual disparagement of other women is so pervasive it’s invisible, and so unquestioned we (all) do it ourselves without even noticing. But we could put “quit that” on our New Year’s resolution lists.
This whole subject reminds me of the time the first friend of ours to get pregnant (we are late bloomers) found herself wailing, hormonally, something like “I don’t want to be attractive just to the sort of people who would want you to know that they find pregnant women attractive!” Likewise, many an older woman could find herself lamenting being attractive only to the sort of men who would want you to know that they find older women attractive. One wants to be found attractive. One does not wish to be exoticized or, God forbid, humored.
I appreciate your spin on the phrase, and am glad you had the enviable experience of being found sexy for being exactly who you are. I don’t think MILF can be redeemed, though.
I recently read on one of the feminist blogs a post attempting to reframe the misogynist use of “douche” as invective (“Ew! It’s for vaginas!”). “Douches are bad for your ladybits,” reasoned the writer (more or less), “so it’s not anti-woman to call a smarmy, self-satisfied jerk a ‘douche.’ It’s pro-woman! Because douches are bad!”
Nice try, I thought. But calling a dude a douche is still pretty sexist. As for the fact that I also think it’s hilarious, well, please don’t be outraged!

Attention cultural mutants



“Jacob Ciocci is,” as Wikipedia attests, “an American [Pittsburgh] visual artist, performance artist and musician … he is one of the three remaining founding members of Paper Rad, an artist collective … He also performs and tours regularly … in the band ‘Extreme Animals’…” Ciocci’s work, especially with his recent video collection release, 2 Blessed 2B Stressed (Audio Dregs), is almost entirely not his own. His videos recycle pop cultural detritus as fast and furiously as his band freaks beats. I spoke with Jacob in person, via e-mail, and through Transcendental Meditation to collage the meaning, authenticity, and artifice of collage.

SFBG What questions are you most frequently asked?
JACOB CIOCCI Questions about appropriation, sampling.

SFBG These are obviously huge aspects of your work. What’s your relationship with these forms?
JC Whenever I have used or “sampled” something from some cultural source I really feel like there is always an equal amount of change or recontextualization happening. I strive for a 50/50 yin-yang balance between me/the world, or culture’s voice/my voice. Of course I recognize this is sort of absurd, since you can never separate yourself from the yin-yang wheel — you can never fully know when you are being “you” and when you are being a puppet for culture.

SFBG Any questions you’re sick of hearing?
JC I guess the questions that bug me the most imply that all I do is regurgitate culture from the ’80s. My interests really are much wider than just approaching 8-bit video games like Mario Brothers or sampling cartoons from the ’80s. My art, has always been interested in a much more ambiguous and wider set of concerns. It’s not about any specific period of pop culture and cannot be reduced to any kind of term like “appropriation.”

SFBG It could be argued that ’80s culture is also the one you grew up with and thus are most familiar with.
JC I think that when I was doing work that was referencing certain time periods, it was more an investigation of how certain technologies or cultural tropes affected my consciousness. I was using my current consciousness, or my subconsciousness as a way to talk about the shaping of my brain — but not ’80s culture, all culture: the vacuum of past, present, and future. It’s not interesting if it just regurgitates the past. It’s best if the work deals with the past via your perspective in the present.

SFBG So rather than simply reviving and representing these old cultural tropes, you try to give them new meaning by reflecting on them via a cultural mirror — albeit a fractured, holographic one of your own design? Does this transcendence then create a new aesthetic?
JC I think that if you hold up a mirror to society in the right way — if you have constructed the mirror good enough (and the definition of what works as a good mirror is constantly changing based on context), then it does take the viewer and society as a whole to a new place, and thus probably will create some sort of “new aesthetic” or cultural direction. When you interpret the past (even the past meaning one minute ago on YouTube) with clarity in the present, you create the future. This seems to be a neverending cycle. Some would say that through technology it is happening at a faster and faster rate. But I really can’t say because time seems so relative.

SFBG Speaking of technology, your work is explicitly couched in the crude pixel aesthetics of outmoded technologies, like Geocities and Angelfire Web sites. Why is that?
JC When I started working with computer technology in college with some other friends, we realized computers were becoming too advanced. It was impossible to learn every new tool and actually understand not only it’s technological but cultural implications — to master it.
The model instead was to just focus on something a bit older, that had a fixed architecture, so that even if it’s outdated, if you just stuck with it and really investigated that interface, then you would be able to get something interesting and “contemporary” out of that tool. Otherwise you just end up being a superficial user of every piece of software that comes out.
But I think the big light bulb that went off when I started to work with Paper Rad was that there is something just as interesting happening when you are a superficial user of technology. A recreational Geocities user isn’t interesting because he or she is a hardcore DIY “master HTML programmer” computer hacker wizard, but because of what he or she exposes about the Internet. I like the cultural mutant model: Geocities users were mutants who unconsciously stumbled on an interesting representation of how the Internet was affecting culture.

SFBG What is it that usually catches your eye culturally?
JC The relationship between ideas of authenticity and artifice. The version of celebrity that Paramore [a contemporary pop punk band] or Miley Cyrus represent is really interesting because it’s wrapped up in a kind of conservatism, but it’s also about being young and rebellious.

SFBG And you’re attempting to exfoliate that gap between authenticity and artifice?
JC I’m interested in the possibly pointless task of trying to separate artifice from authenticity. I feel that a lot of times what I try to do is to help people who are cynical be a little more open-minded about what’s happening around them culturally, so that they can possibly see that other people are struggling as much as they are to define themselves within this very limiting cultural soup. Or that these ideas of politics and constructions that we have in our head about who we are and what our beliefs are, are really, really rigid, and then by reevaluating culture that we deem as foreign or outside that we can rethink ourselves. I’m not trying to say that “we can all get along and we can all be friends.” But there’s something to that process of expanding your mind that is important.
This can be really hard to make work about because it can seem disrespectful sometimes. People, including myself, make art using images of people they have never met, and that becomes highly questionable — which in my opinion is a good thing. I think that questionable aspect of art can be productive if handled correctly.

www.audiodregs.com; www.jacobciocci.org; www.paperrad.org

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana



Carrying coals to Newcastle is hard work, so when we’ve finished up, how about some pizza to refresh ourselves? And where would we begin the search — North Beach, the Newcastle of pizza? No, too obvious. Chic pizza these days is found practically everywhere in the city except North Beach — in Dogpatch, in Glen Park, in the Mistro, and the Marina. Why would anyone go to North Beach?
Well, one good reason would be Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, which has an air of Neapolitan or Roman authenticity that goes far beyond the pies themselves and is really unmatched in this respect by any of the newer places, despite their commendable pizzas. While I am not a huge fan of trying to recreate the foods and styles of other places — restaurants are not zoo exhibits, and the best way to have authentic food experiences is to travel to the places where those experiences are indigenous — Tony’s is relaxed enough in look and atmosphere, and intense enough about the food, to become an authentic experience in its own right. It feels unforced and right, like a place that’s been there forever yet is as fresh as if it opened yesterday. (It actually opened early in the summer in the longtime home of La Felce.)
One of the underrated joys of North Beach is the display of fabulous, oversized culinary apparatus — the kind of implements you could never have in your own home, unless you’re Pat Kuleto. One example is the coffee roaster in the window of Caffe Roma, and another is the pizza oven — I should say, one of the pizza ovens, since there are three — at Tony’s, which isn’t in a window, but you can get a booth quite nearby and watch the action.
The oven of which I speak is gas-fired (no, not coal-fired, this isn’t Newcastle) and has an attractive dome covered in a mosaic of red tiles. The oven’s heat is steady and fierce, and as the clad-in-white pizzaioli — led by owner Tony Gemignani — wield their long-handled peels, you have a brief sense of men working in a foundry, except that what emerges from the heat isn’t a sequence of gold ingots but of pizzas, and pizzas in a surprising variety of shapes and forms.
At most of the newfangled places, pizza takes its familiar form, as a yeast-leavened wheat dough rolled into a thin disk and topped with various combinations of sauces, cheese, vegetables, and meat before being baked. You might luck out and spot a calzone, in which the disk is folded over on itself to form a mezzaluna-shaped pocket. But nowhere else are you likely to find stromboli, a sort of pizza roulard in which the pie is rolled up into a log, baked, then sliced into rounds like a büche de Noel. Tony’s Romanos Original 1950 version ($11) is stuffed with ham, pepperoni, sliced Italian sausage, sweet peppers, and mozzarella and American cheeses — and if that isn’t rich enough, the crust acquires a pastry-like flakiness, perhaps from the rolling.
Also plenty rich-looking are the Sicilian-style pies, which are baked in square pans, like focaccia, and heavily laden with toppings. They look like party platters as they emerge from the oven and are rushed to large, clamorous tables of partiers. Smaller parties, though, can probably make do with the more svelte, conventional pies, among them the margherita ($18), which is probably the signature Italian pizza, and also Tony’s, and is baked in a 900-degree wood-fired oven.
The margherita also is so simple that there isn’t much maneuvering room. You have your crust, your tomato sauce, a few blobs of mozzarella, and some basil leaves. Not much to go wrong; not much to stand out, either. Tony’s tomato sauce is tangy, the basil leaves lightly blistered but still basically fresh and fragrant, the coins of melted mozzarella like reflections of a full moon on the still surface of a pond. One’s attention, then, is drawn to the crust, and it is gorgeous: a thin but not too thin mat, soft but not droopy and blistered just enough on the bottom to lend character. I would hesitate to say Tony’s is the best margherita pizza I’ve ever eaten only because I’ve eaten so many good ones, and in part this must say something about the soundness of the recipe. I’ve never had a better one than Tony’s, can I put it that way?
Since humans do not live by pizza alone — or bread (and the bread is excellent, with pesto, EVOO, and chopped garlic for dipping) — there is also a host of unleavened items on the menu, including pastas, small plates, and salads. An antipasto-style plate of white Italian anchovies ($10) couldn’t be plumper, nestled on their bed of fresh arugula leaves like middle-aged, bleached-out snowbirds surrounded by palm fronds on a Florida beach in February while, nearby, lurks a clutch of Calabrese peppers — sort of like blood-red pepperoncini, sweet with a bit of bite. They could be snowbirds who’ve been in the sun way too long.
For a salad, how about spinach ($10) with pine nuts, goat cheese, slivers of red onion, a balsamic reduction, and EVOO? All immaculately fresh and nicely balanced, though the sweet-tooth found the balsamic a bit too sweet, and I thought the price was a little dear for what was, in the end, ordinary.
The sweet-tooth did like the chocolate truffle cake ($7 for a massive, ship’s-prow slice), which was refreshingly not all that sweet. Sometimes it’s best to carry fewer coals to Newcastle, particularly if the coals are sugary.

Wed.-Sun., noon–11 p.m.
1570 Stockton, SF
(415) 835-9888
Beer and wine
Wheelchair accessible

Editor’s Notes


The people aren’t that weird in Oregon. They drink the same coffee we do, and the same beer, and they’re just as surprised as we are that a team from the land of Beavers and Ducks will be playing in the Rose Bowl. It rains a lot, so they don’t worry about water the way we do — in some places, you can actually take a shower with an old-fashioned spigot that pours an unconstrained and luxurious flow that would be illegal in most of California — but generally speaking, it’s not like an alien territory.
But the Oregon government took a radically different approach to the state’s budget problems over the summer. The governor and the Legislature passed measures to raise taxes on households with incomes of more than $260,000 a year and corporations with profits of more than $10 million. The bills also cut taxes on unemployment benefits. The deal would bring in $737 million and avoid deep cuts in essential public services.
Of course, some things don’t stop at state lines: antitax activists have forced a referendum on the new taxes, and in January, in a vote-by-mail ballot, Oregonians will decide whether to reject the tax plan. The newspapers are full of discussions on the impact, and the message is clear: Scrap the taxes and teachers will face layoffs, schools will face serious problems, and other public services will suffer.
I was up visiting over Thanksgiving, and I asked a friend what he thought would happen. He was pretty confident that the taxes would be retained: “I don’t know anyone who makes more than $260,000 a year.”
Of course, they don’t have a two-thirds majority requirement to raise taxes — and while Republicans all over have become little more than obstructionist troglodytes, Oregon Republicans haven’t all signed the “no-new-taxes” pledge required of every GOP legislator in California.
Even so, you have to wonder: Why can’t we do that here?
The answer, I think, is that we can — not necessarily on a statewide level (where anything progressive seems almost impossible today) but right here at home in San Francisco.
A poll commissioned by SEIU Local 1021, which came out while I was away, showed that a majority of San Francisco voters would support a broad range of new taxes, from a five-cent-a-drink tax on alcoholic beverages to a $10 a car tax on motor vehicles to an increase in the hotel tax. The poll didn’t ask about a tax on incomes of more than $260,000, but I bet the results would be about the same.
So what’s headed for the June ballot? Well, at this point all I hear is that the mayor wants to fund the expansion of Moscone Center with $140 million in revenue bonds — and might want to designate a hike in the hotel tax to pay for it. That’s a great way to set priorities — the health care system is in total collapse, Muni lines are getting shut down … and we’re going to use new tax revenue for a convention center expansion.
This comes just after the mayor announced he wasn’t going to spend the money to save critical public health services. Perhaps he’ll find some spiritual guidance on his trip to India.

US out of Afghanistan


We knew President Obama wasn’t going to be perfect. We knew he was a lot more of a political moderate than the left — which was about getting rid of George W. Bush and voting for a candidate who was against the war in Iraq — always wanted to acknowledge. And we knew that the key to a progressive national agenda was keeping the pressure on the new president, who won on the basis of massive grassroots support and would be, we hoped, swayed be the mobilization of that same coalition on key political issues.

And now, after the biggest disappointment yet of his young presidency, it’s more important than ever for the movement that swept Obama into office to get back into the streets. Because the president’s decision to put 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan — to escalate, at great expense, a war the United States can’t win — is a disaster for the nation.

Obama was, to some extent, trapped by his own political rhetoric. Reportedly during the campaign, he chided the Republicans and their candidate, John McCain, for the morass of Iraq and argued that the real fight was in Afghanistan, where Osama Bin Laden and his terrorists were holed up. That was probably untrue back then, and it’s almost certainly untrue now: ss Harvard professor and Afghanistan expert Rory Stewart noted on Bill Moyers’ TV show Journal show Sept. 25th, al Qaeda is in Pakistan now. It’s true that the Taliban — a brutal and repressive fundamentalist sect — is gaining ground in Afghanistan, but the people under the sway of that religious movement aren’t a serious threat to U.S. national security. As Stewart noted:

“One of the things that’s a little misleading about people who say, ‘If we don’t fight the Taliban in Afghanistan, we’re going to have to fight them in the streets of the United States’ is that most of these people we’re dealing with can barely read or write…. They’re often three hours’ walk from the nearest village. The idea that they’re somehow going to turn up on the streets of the United States with a train of goats behind them in order to conduct war here is a bit misleading.”

And the president didn’t make things any better by asking the generals on the ground to tell him how many more troops they needed — without spelling out exactly what the mission was or how success would be measured. Now that the Pentagon — as usual — has asked for more troops, Obama was in a bind, and was unable to show the courage to reject that proposal and completely rethink the U.S. role in Afghanistan.

Then there’s the fact — and it’s a cold, hard fact, borne out by centuries of history — that invasions and nation-building efforts by outside military forces never succeed in Afghanistan. Everyone who’s ever tried to conquer Afghanistan — from the Mongols to the British to the Russians — has failed. It’s a rough country with little civilian infrastructure. There’s no effective national leadership — the government of Hamid Karzai is monumentally corrupt and incompetent — and most civil authority rests with tribal councils and warlords. In fact, it’s probably misleading to call Afghanistan a country; it’s never had much national government. For the past 40 years, the place has been ravaged by war. “To rebuild a country like that would take 30 or 40 years of patient, tolerant investment,” Stewart notes — and even then the result would probably be closer to a state like Pakistan, which is hardly a shining example of democracy (and is, in fact, more of a threat to our security).

So why, exactly, is the United States still there — and what possible reason could Obama have for expanding the war effort, at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars that are badly needed back home to create jobs and stabilize the economy? It’s the worst mistake of his presidency and the worst threat to his legacy and the U.S. national security and any hope of brining the U.S. back into a leadership role in creating a more peaceful and stable world.

As Simon Jenkins, a columnist for the U.K. Guardian noted Nov. 17, “If militarism wins and Obama commences a 10-year battle over the mountains and plains of Afghanistan, it will spell the end of America’s status as cold war victor and putative world policeman. The complex will have him trapped. The Taliban will have him cornered, as will bin Laden. America’s democratic leadership will have been pitted against American militarism — an informal component of the republic since the founding fathers — and will have capitulated.”

The antiwar movement needs to come back to life, quickly, on every level and every front, to demand a reversal of this misguided policy, a quick withdrawl of troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan and an end to decades of failed military and foreign policy. And that movement can and should start in San Francisco, bringing pressure on Rep. Nancy Pelosi not to fund the Afghanistan war and giving support to the antiwar Democrats who will have trouble opposing the Democratic president.

This city, and this newspaper, have opposed foolish military adventures in Vietnam, Central America, and Iraq. It’s time to start beating the drums again: U.S. out of Afghanistan!

PS: The Nation has a stunning report in its Nov. 30 edition on how U.S. contractors are paying off the Taliban to protect military shipments through the country. That’s a major source of income to the fundamentalists. In other words, U.S. tax dollars are funding the U.S. enemy. That’s how screwed up this war is.




Wednesday, Dec. 2

Battle for Whiteclay
Attend a screening and discussion of this documentary, which follows Native American activists to Nebraska’s state capitol to end alcohol sales to residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation by stores in the neighboring town of Whiteclay. The film serves as an inside look at the conflict between Native Americans’ rights and state and local governments’.
7:30 p.m., $6 suggested donation
Artists’ Television Access
992 Valencia, SF
(415) 821-6545

Thursday, Dec. 3

Die-in for Bhopal
Join a die-in to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Union Carbide’s (now Dow Chemical) gas tragedy in Bhopal, India. Honor the thousands who died in the tragedy and protest the abandoned chemicals that continue to pollute the groundwater.
Noon, free
Union Square
Powell at Geary, SF
Prison Reduction Plan
Michael Bien, lead counsel in Coleman vs. Schwarzenegger, answers questions about the implementation of the California Prison Population Reduction plan. Judges in the case ordered the state to reduce its inmate population because of prison overcrowding. Sponsored by the Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) Coalition.
6 p.m., free
CURB Office
1904 Franklin, # 504, Oakl.
(510) 444-0484

Friday, Dec. 4

Oaktown on wheels
Participate in a community bike ride through Oakland to display, promote, and celebrate healthy transportation. Ride ends at the Art Murmur community street party
6 p.m., free
Meet at Frank Ogawa Plaza
14th and Broadway BART station, Oakl.

Saturday, Dec. 5

Celebrate free clinic opening
Attend opening day of the Mabuhay Health Clinic and its services, a free, student-run community health clinic that aims to reduce health disparities in the SoMa district. The clinic is in partnership with the South of Market Health Center, the Bayanihan Community Center, and UCSF. Sup. Chris Daly and staff from Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office will be present. Also features food and entertainment.
2 p.m., free
Mabuhay Health Clinic
1010 Mission, SF
(415) 336-5277
Backpacks for the people
Help assemble "warm wishes" packs filled with gloves, socks, scarves, and more to be distributed to 4,000 homeless men, women, and children in the Bay Area.
8 a.m., free
Unity in Marin
600 Palm Drive, Novato
(415) 472-0211

Sunday, Dec. 6

Help class-war prisoners
Attend this fundraiser for the Partisan Defense Committee’s Class-War Prisoners Stipend Fund, which helps victims of racist prison and death sentences. Featuring a buffet, door prizes, silent art auction, and more.
3 p.m., $10
Women’s Building
3543 18th St., SF
(510) 839-0852
Fast for our climate
Send a message to the U.N. Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen that the world needs to make a strong commitment to reduce emissions at this afternoon of fun sans food. Show solidarity with 21 other countries staging hunger strikes.
1 p.m., free
U.N. Plaza
Market at Hyde, SF
(484) 319-1115<0x00A0><cs:5>2<cs:>
Mail items for Alerts to the Guardian Building, 135 Mississippi St., SF, CA 94107; fax to (415) 255-8762; or e-mail alerts@sfbg.com. Please include a contact telephone number. Items must be received at least one week prior to the publication date.

Stage Listings


Stage listings are compiled by Molly Freedenberg. Performance times may change; call venues to confirm. Reviewers are Robert Avila, Rita Felciano, and Nicole Gluckstern. Submit items for the listings at listings@sfbg.com. For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks. For the complete listings, go to www.sfbg.com.


Better Homes and Ammo (a post apocalyptic suburban tale) EXIT Stage Left, 156 Eddy; www.brownpapertickets.com/event/86070. $15-$19. Opens Thurs/3. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 19. No Nude Men Productions presents the end-of-the-world premiere of sketchy comedy veteran Wylie Herman’s first full length play.
A Christmas Carol American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary; 749-2228, www.act-sf.org. $14-$102. Previews Thurs/3-Sun/6. Opens Tues/8. Days and times vary. Through Dec 27. A.C.T. presents the sparkling, music-infused celebration of goodwill by Charles Dickens.
Dames at Sea New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $22-$40. Previews Fri/4-Dec 11. Opens Dec 12. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Jan 17. NCTC presents the Off-Broadway musical hit.
I <Heart> SF South of Market home stage, 505 Natoma; (800) 838-3006, www.boxcartheatre.org. Opens Thurs/3. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 19. Boxcar Theatre presents an improvised unabashed stage poem to all things San Francisco.
Santaland Diaries Off Market Theater, 965 Mission; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com/event/89315. $25. Opens Wed/2. Runs Mon-Sun, 8 and 10pm. Through Dec 30. Combined Artform and Beck-n-Call present the annual production of David Sedaris’ story, starring John Michael Beck and David Sinaiko.

Bay Area
Aurelia’s Oratorio Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, berkeleyrep.org. $33-$71. Previews Fri/4, Sat/5, Sun/6, and Tues/8. Opens Dec 9. Runs Tues, Thurs, Fri, and Sat, 8pm; Wed, 7pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Jan 24. Berkeley Rep presents Victoria Thierree Chaplin’s dazzling display of stage illusion.
The Threepenny Opera Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $18-$30. Previews Thurs/3-Fri/4. Opens Sat/5. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Jan 17. Wednesday performances begin Jan 6. Shotgun Players present Bertolt Brecht’s beggar’s opera.



Bare Nuckle Brava Theater, 2781 24th St; 647-2822, www.brava.org. $15. Thurs/3, 8pm. Brava Theater presents a solo theater performance written and performed by Anthem Salgado and directed by Evren Odcikin.
Beautiful Thing New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972. $22-40. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Jan 3. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs Jonathan Harvey’s story of romance between two London teens.
Cotton Patch Gospel Next Stage, 1620 Gough; (800) 838-3006, www.custommade.org. $10-$28. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Dec 19. Custom Made presents Harry Chapin’s progressive and musically joyous look at the Jesus story through a modern lens.
*East 14th Marsh, 1062 Valencia; 1-800-838-3006, www.themarsh.org. $20-35. Fri, 9pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Through Dec 19. Don Reed’s solo play returns the Bay Area native to the place of his vibrant, physically dynamic, consistently hilarious coming-of-age story, set in 1970s Oakland. (Avila)
I Heart Hamas: And Other Things I’m Afraid to Tell You Off Market Theaters, 965 Mission; www.ihearthamas.com. $20. Thurs and Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 12. Jennifer Jajeh’s play is decidedly not a history lesson on the colonial project known as “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” or, for that matter, Hamas. But as the laudably mischievous title suggests, Jajeh is out to upset some staid opinions, stereotypes and confusions that carry increasingly significant moral and political consequences for us all. (Avila)
Jubilee Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson; 255-8207, www.42ndstmoon.org. $34-$44. Wed, 7pm; Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Dec 13. 42nd Street Moon presents this tune-filled 1935 musical spoof of royalty, revolution, and ribald rivalries.
Let It Snow! SF Playhouse Stage 2, 533 Sutter; 677-9596, www.sfplayhouse.org. $8-$20. Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 3 and 8pm. Through Dec 19. The Un-scripted Theater Company lovingly presents an entirely new musical every night based on audience participation.
The Life of Brian Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission; 401-7987, darkroomsf.com. $20. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 19. The Dark Room Theater presents a movie parody turned into a theatrical parody.
*Loveland The Marsh, 1074 Valencia; 826-5750, www.themarsh.org. $15-$50. Thurs, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through Dec 12. Los Angeles–based writer-performer Ann Randolph returns to the Marsh with a new solo play partly developed during last year’s Marsh run of her memorable Squeeze Box. (Avila)
“The Me, Myself and I Series” Brava Theater, 2781 24th St; 647-2822, www.brava.org. Days, times, and ticket prices vary. Runs through Thurs/3. Four different tales from theatre/performance artists like D’Lo, Jeanne Haynes, Rachel Parker, and Anthem Salgado will surprise and awaken your imagination.
Ovo Grand Chapiteau, AT&T Park; (800) 450-1480, www.cirquedusoleil.com. $45.50-$135. Tues-Thurs, 8pm; Fri-Sat, 4 and 8pm; Sun, 1 and 5pm. Through Jan 24. Cirque du Soleil presents its latest big top touring production.
Pearls Over Shanghai Hypnodrome, 575 Tenth St.; 1-800-838-3006, www.thrillpeddlers.com. $30-69. Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Jan 23. Thrillpeddlers presents this revival of the legendary Cockettes’ 1970 musical extravaganza.
Pulp Scripture Off Market Theater, 965 Mission; www.pulpscripture.com. $20. Sat, 10:30pm; Sun, 4pm. Through Dec 13. Original Sin Productions and PianoFight bring the bad side of the Good Book back to live in William Bivins’ comedy.
“ReOrient 2009” Thick House, 1695 18th St; 626-4061, www.goldenthread.org. $12-$25. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Dec 13. Golden Thread Productions celebrates the tenth anniversary of its festival of short plays exploring the Middle East.
She Stoops to Comedy SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter; 677-9596, www.sfplayhouse.org. $30-$40. Tues, 7pm; Wed-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 3 and 8pm. Through Jan 9. SF Playhouse continues their seventh season with the Bay Area premiere of David Greenspan’s gender-bending romp.
“Stateless” Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida; 292-1233, www.tjt-sf.org. $15-$18. Thurs/3-Sat/5, 8pm; Sun/6, 7pm. Zeek presents poetry, hosted by Dan Wolf and Joanna Steinhardt.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Actors Theatre of SF, 855 Bush; 345-1287, www.actorstheatresf.org. $26-$40. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Dec 19. Before throwing around terms like “dysfunctional, bi-polar, codependent,” to describe the human condition became fodder for every talk show host and reality TV star, people with problems were expected to keep them tight to the chest, like war medals, to be brought out in the privacy of the homestead for the occasional airing. For George and Martha, the sort of middle-aged, academically-entrenched couple you might see on any small University campus, personal trauma is much more than a memory—it’s a lifestyle, and their commitment to receiving and inflicting said trauma is unparalleled. The claws-out audacity of mercurial Martha (Rachel Klyce) is superbly balanced by a calmly furious George (Christian Phillips), and their almost vaudevillian energy easily bowls over boy genius Biologist, Nick (Alessandro Garcia) and his gormless, “slim-hipped” wife Honey (Jessica Coghill), who at times exhibit such preternatural stillness they seem very much like the toys their game-playing hosts are using them as to wage their private war of attrition; their nervous reactions, though well-timed, coming off as mechanical in comparison to the practiced ease with which Klyce and Phillips relentlessly tear down the walls of illusion. But thanks to George and Martha’s menacing intensity, and self-immoutf8g love, this Virginia Woolf does not fail to hold the attentions of its audience captive, despite being a grueling (though never tedious) three-and-a-half hours long. (Gluckstern)
Bay Area
*Boom Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Ave, Mill Valley; 388-5208, www.marinthetre.org. $31-$51. Thurs/3-Sat/5, 8pm; Wed/2, 7:30pm; Sun/6, 7pm. Marin Theatre Company presents the Bay Area premiere of Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s explosive comedy about the end of the world.
*FAT PIG Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, auroratheatre.org. $15-$55. Tues, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Dec 13. Playwright Neil LaBute has a reputation for cruelty—or rather the unflinching study thereof—but as much as everyday sociopathy is central to Fat Pig, this fine, deceptively straightforward play’s real subject is human frailty. (Avila)
*Large Animal Games La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; www.impacttheatre.com. $10-20. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 12. Impact Theatre co-presents (with Atlanta’s Dad’s Garage) the world premiere of a new play by Atlanta-based Steve Yockey. (Avila)


“An Old Fashioned Christmas” Old First Church, 1751 Sacramento; 474-1608, www.oldfirstchurch.org. Sat, 4pm. $12-$15. The internationally acclaimed Ragazzi Boys Chorus performs haunting and mysterious classics alongside sing-along carols.
Anonymous 4 Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness; 398-6449, www.performances.org. Thurs, 8pm. $32-$42. The a cappella group performs medieval English carols and American Christmas songs.
“Body Music Festival” Various SF and East Bay venues. www.crosspulse.com. Through Sun, various times and prices. Keith Terry and Crosspulse present the second annual six-day global event featuring concerts, workshops, teacher trainings, and open mics.
“A Brass and Organ Christmas” Grace Cathedral, 1100 California; 749-6364, gracecathedral.org. Mon, 7pm. $15-$50. The best of Bay Area brass brings down the house in this annual holiday fest.
Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bellringers Cristo Rey Monastery, 721 Parker; www.ggbc.org. Sun, 2pm.  Free. The Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bellringers perform a special Christmas concert.
“KML’s Holidays with Class” Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia; killingmylobster.com. Fri-Sun, 8pm. $15. Killing My Lobster presents a staged reading of holiday-themed comedic sketches written by alums of KML’s writing classes.
“Joy to the World!” MCC, 150 Eureka; www.brownpapertickets.com/event/85853. Fri, 8pm. $20. Gay Asian Pacific Alliance presents GAPA Men’s Chorus in a global, multilingual holiday concert featuring Likha Pilipino Folk Ensemble and the Likha Rondalla string ensemble.
“Left Coast Leaning Festival” Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum, 701 Mission; 978-2787, www.ybca.org. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. $10-$35. Youth Speaks’ Living Word Project and YBCA present a three-day festival celebrating West Coast dance, theater, and music.
Magnificat St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 1111 O’Farrell; www.magnificatbaroque.com. Sun, 4pm. $12-$35. Magnificat invites you to explore the new music of the Early Baroque.
“Return of the Sun” San Francisco Jewish Community Center, 3200 California; 292-1233, www.jccsf.org. Sat, 11 and 2pm. $15-$22. Brenda Wong Aoki, Mark Izu, and World Arts West present a masterful blend of dynamic storytelling, music, and dance.
“Rockin’ the Gay 50s” Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St; www.gracelandgirls.com. Sat, 8pm. Sun, 2pm. $8-$20. The Graceland Girls present this funny satire on gay adolescence in the 50s, the way many wish it had been.

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.



*Baroness, Earthless, Iron Age Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $14.
Black Crowes, Truth and Salvage Company Fillmore. 8pm, $51.50.
Dashboard Confessional, New Found Glory Slim’s. 8:30pm, $28.
“Duane Allman Birthday Tribute” Boom Boom Room. 9:30pm, $10. With members of Poor Man’s Whiskey, New Monsoon, Tracorum, and more.
Hiwatters, Middle Class Murder, DariusTX Red Devil Lounge. 8pm, $5-15.
*King City, Mission Street Stranglers, Black Crown String Band Annie’s Social Club. 8pm, $6.
Mass Fiction, Actors, Farewell Typewriter Elbo Room. 9pm, $6.
Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band, Growlers, My First Earthquake Rickshaw Stop. 8pm, $12.
Luke Rathbone Hotel Utah. 9pm, $12.
David Jacob Strain Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $15.
“Ten Out of Tenn” Independent. 8pm, $15. With Trent Dabbs, Matthew Perryman Jones, Jeremy Lister, and more.


“B3 Wednesdays” Coda. 9pm, $7. With David Mathews Trio featuring Barry Finnerty.
Cat’s Corner Savanna Jazz. 7pm, $5-10.
Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8pm, $22.
Gil Cohen Jazz Duo Moussy’s, 1345 Bush, SF; (415) 441-1802. 6pm, free.
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.
Realistic Orchestra Yoshi’s San Francisco. 10:30pm, $14.
Tin Cup Serenade Le Colonial, 20 Cosmo Place, SF; (415) 931-3600. 7pm, free.


Gregory Alan Isakov, Patrick Park Café du Nord. 9:30pm, $12.
Bluegrass Country Jam Plough and Stars. 9pm. With Jeanie and Chuck.
“Long Night’s Moon presented by Singbird Festival” El Valenciano, 152 Valencia, SF; (415) 826-9561. 8:30pm, $7. Featuring Uni and Her Ukulele, Dina Maccabee Band, Whiskey and Women, and Paper Crocodiles.


Afreaka! Attic, 3336 24th St; souljazz45@gmail.com. 10pm, free. Psychedelic beats from Brazil, Turkey, India, Africa, and across the globe with MAKossa.
Booty Call Q-Bar, 456 Castro; www.bootycallwednesdays.com. 9pm. Juanita Moore hosts this dance party, featuring DJ Robot Hustle.
DJ Rebellious Jukebox Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, free.
Hands Down! Bar on Church. 9pm, free. With DJs Claksaarb, Mykill, and guests spinning indie, electro, house, and bangers.
Hump Night Elbo Room. 9pm, $5. The week’s half over – bump it out at Hump Night!
Jam Wednesday Infusion Lounge. 10pm, free. DJ Slick Dee.
Qoöl 111 Minna Gallery. 5-10pm, $5. Pan-techno lounge with DJs Spesh, Gil, Hyper D, and Jondi.
RedWine Social Dalva. 9pm-2am, free. DJ TophOne and guests spin outernational funk and get drunk.
Respect Wednesdays End Up. 10pm, $5. Rotating DJs Daddy Rolo, Young Fyah, Irie Dole, I-Vier, Sake One, Serg, and more spinning reggae, dancehall, roots, lovers rock, and mash ups.
Synchronize Il Pirata, 2007 16th St.; (415) 626-2626. 10pm, free. Psychedelic dance music with DJs Helios, Gatto Matto, Psy Lotus, Intergalactoid, and guests.



Agent Orange, Jokes for Feelings, Black Dream Thee Parkside. 9pm, $10.
Alma Desnuda, Highway Robbers, Grace Woods, Earl J. Rivard Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $13.
Soul Burners Revolution Café, 3248 22nd St, SF; (415) 642-0474. 8:45pm, free.
Cold Cave, Former Ghosts, Veil Veil Vanish Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $10.
Grannies, Turbonegra, Inoculators, Tempramentals Annie’s Social Club. 8pm, $7.
Leigh Gregory and Memory’s Mystic Band, Martin Bisi, Dominique Leone Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $7.
“A Holiday Benefit: Music for the Kids” Independent. 8pm, $20-35. With Greasetraps. Benefits buildOn.
Less Than Jake, Fishbone, Cage Regency Ballroom. 7pm, $22.
New Maps of the West, Honey, Lambs Bollyhood Café. 8pm, $5.
NOFX, Wax, Dead to Me, Nathan Maxwell and the Original Bunny Gang Slim’s. 8pm, $40.
Split Lip Rayfield, Kemo Sabe Rickshaw Stop. 8pm, $15.
Li’l Dave Thompson Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $15.
bay area
Throwback Thurs 4 Last Day Saloon, 120 5th St., Santa Rosa; (707) 545-2343. 9pm, $12. Featuring Skee-lo, Rappin’ 4-Tay, and At All Costs.


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.
Goapele Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $26.
Marlina Teich Trio Brickhouse, 426 Brannan, SF; (415) 820-1595. 7-10pm, free.
Stompy Jones Top of the Mark. 7:30pm, $10.


Al Marshal Quintet Coda. 9pm, $7.
49 Special Atlas Café. 8pm, free.
Valerie Orth Dolores Park Café. 8pm, $10 sliding scale.
Shannon Céilí Band Plough and Stars. 9pm.
“Songwriters in the Round” Hotel Utah. 8pm, $8. With Heather Combs, Damond Moodie, Jesse Brewster, and Rick Hardin.
“Tibet Day” Presentation Theater, University of San Francisco, 2350 Turk, SF; (415) 422-5093. Documentary viewing and concert.


Afrolicious Elbo Room. 9:30pm, $5-6. DJs Pleasuremaker, Señor Oz, J Elrod, B Lee, and guests Nappy G and Motion Potion spin Afrobeat, Tropicália, electro, samba, and funk.
Caribbean Connection Little Baobab, 3388 19th St; 643-3558. 10pm, $3. DJ Stevie B and guests spin reggae, soca, zouk, reggaetón, and more.
Club Jammies Edinburgh Castle. 10pm, free. DJs EBERrad and White Mice spinning reggae, punk, dub, and post punk.
Drop the Pressure Underground SF. 6-10pm, free. Electro, house, and datafunk highlight this weekly happy hour.
Funky Rewind Skylark. 9pm, free. DJ Kung Fu Chris, MAKossa, and rotating guest DJs spin heavy funk breaks, early hip-hop, boogie, and classic Jamaican riddims.
Heat Icon Ultra Lounge. 10pm, free. Hip-hop, R&B, reggae, and soul.
Holy Thursday Underground SF. 10pm, $5. Bay Area electronic hip hop producers showcase their cutting edge styles monthly.
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.
Lacquer Beauty Bar. 10pm-2am, free. DJs Mario Muse and Miss Margo bring the electro. Mestiza Bollywood Café, 3376 19th St., SF; (415) 970-0362. 10pm, free. Showcasing progressive Latin and global beats with DJ Juan Data.
Popscene 330 Ritch. 10pm. With a live performance by stellastarr*.
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.
Studio SF Triple Crown. 9pm, $5. Keeping the Disco vibe alive with authentic 70’s, 80’s, and current disco with DJs White Girl Lust, Ken Vulsion, and Sergio.



“Battle of the Bands Finals” DNA Lounge. 5:30pm, $12. With Death Between Seasons, Draconian Winter, Gravy Trainwreck, and more.
Black Crowes, Truth and Salvage Company Fillmore. 9pm, $51.50.
Damage Inc, Paradise City, Aaron Pearson Red Devil Lounge. 8pm, $10.
Damn Near Dead Abbey Tavern, 4100 Geary, SF; (415) 221-7767. 9pm, free.
“Dead Hensons Finale Extravaganza” Bottom of the Hill. 9:30pm, $12. With Thunderbleed aka Blind Vengeance and DJ Adam Infantacide.
Dragon Smoke, Ronkat and Katdelic Independent. 9pm, $30.
Forever the Sickets Kids, Rocket Summer, Sing It Loud, My Favorite Highway, Artist vs. Poet Regency Ballroom. 6:30pm, $18.
DJ Lebowitz Madrone Art Bar. 6-9pm, free.
Legendary Stardust Cowboy, Two Tears, Touch-Me-Nots Hemlock Tavern. 9:30pm, $7.
Charlie Musselwhite Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $35.
La Plebe, Nothington, Hooks, Frankenstein L.I.V.S. Annie’s Social Club. 8:30pm, $8.
Poi Dog Pondering, Geographer Slim’s. 9pm, $24.
Raw Deluxe Coda. 10pm, $10.
Robin Yukiko Band Brainwash, 1122 Folsom, SF; (415) 861-2663. 8pm, free.
Threes and Nines, Dialectic, Rockodile Hotel Utah. 9pm, $8.
J. Tillman, Pearly Gate Music Great American Music Hall. 9pm, $13.


Audium 9 1616 Bush, SF; (415) 771-1616. 8:30pm, $15.
Black Market Jazz Orchestra Top of the Mark. 9pm, $10.
Eric Kurtzrock Trio Ana Mandara, Ghirardelli Square, 891 Beach, SF; (415) 771-6800. 8pm, free.
“Jazzcracker and Other Delights: Tchaikovsky with a Jazz Twist!” Aidan’s Episcopal Church, 101 Gold Mine Dr, SF; 1-800-838-3006, www.performanceshowcase.com. 8pm, $20. With the Terry Disley Experience.
Lucid Lovers Rex Hotel, 562 Sutter, SF; (415) 433-4434. 6-8pm.
Kally Price Revolution Café, 3248 22nd St, SF; (415) 642-0474. 8:45pm, free.


Las Bomberas de la Bahia, Blanca Sandoval, LoCura Brava Theater, 2781 25th St.; (415) 648-1045. 8pm, $16.
Adrian Emberly Socha Café, 3235 Mission, SF; (415) 643-6848. 8:30pm.
Encuentro del Canto Popular festival Accion Latina, 2958 24th St., SF; (415) 648-1046. Featuring LoCura, Rincon Pabon, De La Fe, and more.
Goapele Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $28.
Kounterfeit Change Rock-It Room. 9pm.
Pine Needles Plough and Stars. 9pm.
Rocky Dawuni and the Revelation Project, Pleasuremaker Band, DJs Jeremy Sole and
Señor Oz Elbo Room. 10pm, $12.


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.
Deeper 222 Hyde, 222 Hyde, SF; (415) 345-8222. 9pm, $10. With DJs Jason Short, Moniker, and more spinning dubstep and techno.
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.
Floor Score Siberia, 314 11th St., SF; (415) 552-2100. 10pm, $6. With DJs Robot Hustle and Stanley Frank spinning fluoro, disco, and homo all night.
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.
Look Out Weekend Bambuddha Lounge. 4pm, free. Drink specials, food menu and resident DJs White Girl Lust, Swayzee, Philie Ocean, and more.
M4M Fridays Underground SF. 10pm-2am. Joshua J and Frankie Sharp host this man-tastic party.
Oldies Night Knockout. 9pm, $2-4. Doo-wop, one-hit wonders, and soul with DJs Primo, Daniel, and Lost Cat.
Polaris Mezzanine. 10pm, $20. A night of dubstep, glitch and bass heavy dance music featuring DJs Max Ulis, Ana Sia, Heyoka, Billy the Robot, and more.
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.



“Bay Area Derby Girls: Cinco de Malo Prom 2009” Thee Parkside. 9pm, $15.
Black Crowes, Truth and Salvage Company Fillmore. 9pm, $51.50.
Black Hollies, Shys, Hot Lunch Bottom of the Hill. 10pm, $10.
Marcus Foster, Blue Roses Elbo Room. 6pm, $12.
*Husbands, Th’ Losin Streaks, Primitivas El Rio. 10pm, $8.
Midnight Strangers, Spyrals, Tasso Hemlock Tavern. 9:30pm, $6.
*Red Meat, Drunk Horse, East Bay Grease Annie’s Social Club. 9pm.
Sic Wolf, Maniac Martyrs, Lost Puppy Thee Parkside. 3pm, free. Benefit for the Lyon Martin Women’s Clinic.
Two Tears, Ebonics, Dirty Cupcakes Knockout. 5-9pm, $5.
“The Vandals Christmas Formal” Slim’s. 9pm, $16. Also with Voodoo Glow Skulls and Knock Out.


Audium 9 1616 Bush, SF; (415) 771-1616. 8:30pm, $15.
Aram Denesh and the Superhuman Crew Coda. 10pm, $10.
Emily Anne’s Delights 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.
Goapele Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $28.
“Jazz Jam Session with Uptime Jazz Group” Mocha 101 Café, 1722 Taraval, SF; (415) 702-9869. 3:30-5:30pm, free.
Ricardo Scales Top of the Mark. 9pm, $15.


Adam Aijala, Larry Keel Hotel Utah. 7:30pm, $18.
Anna Ash and the Family Tree Socha Café, 3235 Mission, SF; (415) 643-6848. 8:30pm.
Bluegrass Bonanza Plough and Stars. 9pm.
BRWN BFLO, Bang Data, Rico Pabón and De La Fé Brava Theater, 2781 25th St.; (415) 648-1045. 8pm, $16.
Cirkestra Accordion Apocalypse, 2626 Jennings, SF; (415) 596-5952. 9:30pm, $10.
Encuentro del Canto Popular festival Accion Latina, 2958 24th St., SF; (415) 648-1046. Featuring LoCura, Rincon Pabon, De La Fe, and more.
Go Van Gogh Café International, 508 Haight, SF; (415) 552-7390. 7:30pm, free.
Adrian Legg, Teja Gerken Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez, SF; www.noevalleymusicseries.com. 8:15pm, $20.


Bar on Church 9pm. Rotating DJs Foxxee, Joseph Lee, Zhaldee, Mark Andrus, and Niuxx.
Debaser Knocout. 10pm, $5. Arrive wearing a flannel before 11pm and get in free to this 90s dance party with DJ Jamie Jams and Emdee of Club Neon.
Everlasting Bass 330 Ritch. 10pm, $5-10. Bay Area Sistah Sound presents this party, with DJs Zita and Pam the Funkstress spinning hip-hop, soul, funk, reggae, dancehall, and club classics.
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.
Gemini Disco Underground SF. 10pm, $5. Disco with DJ Derrick Love and Nicky B. spinning deep disco.
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.
Leisure Paradise Lounge. 10pm, $7. DJs Omar, Aaron, and Jet Set James spinning classic britpop, mod, 60s soul, and 90s indie.
New Wave City DNA Lounge. 9pm, $7-12. Eighties dance party with Skip and Shindog.
Rebel Girl Rickshaw Stop. 10pm, $5. “Electroindierockhiphop” and 80s dance party for dykes, bois, femmes, and queers with DJ China G and guests.
Saturday Night Soul Party Elbo Room. 10pm, $10. Sixties soul on 45s with DJs Lucky, Phengren Oswald, and Paul Paul.
So Special Club Six. 9pm, $5. DJ Dans One and guests spinning dancehall, reggae, classics, and remixes.
Soundscape Vortex Room, 1082 Howard, SF. With DJs C3PLOS, Brighton Russ, and Nick Waterhouse spinning Soul jazz, boogaloo, hammond grooves, and more.
Spirit Fingers Sessions 330 Ritch. 9pm, free. With DJ Morse Code and live guest performances.



Black Crowes, Truth and Salvage Company Fillmore. 8pm, $51.50.
Dollyrots, Perfect Machines, Departed Bottom of the Hill. 8:30pm, $10.
Generalissimo, Police Teeth, Truxton Kimo’s. 9pm, $6.
Pat Johnson and the Creeps Knockout. 10pm, $6.
Kit Ruscoe Group, Hydrogen Babies, Nice, Man’s Red Fire, Electric Googie Dawgz Café du Nord. 8pm, $10.
*Marduk, Nachtmystium, Mantic Ritual, Black Anvil, Merrimack DNA Lounge. 8pm, $20.
Rademacher, Golden Ghost, Woolly Moon Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $6.
Jonathan Richman, Tommy Larkins Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $15.
Johnny Vernazza Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $15.


Terry Disley Washington Square Bar and Grill, 1707 Powell, SF; (415) 433-1188. 7pm, free.
Noel Jewkes, Josh Workman, Chuck Metcalf 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.


“Acoustic Country Christmas” Slim’s. 7pm, $17. With Sara Evans, Darryl Worley, and Mallory Hope.
Jesse DeNatale, Allison Lovejoy Amnesia. 8pm, $7-10.
Goapele Yoshi’s San Francisco. 2 and 7pm, $5-26.
Quin and friends Plough and Stars. 9pm.
Sacred Profanities Thee Parkside. 4pm, free.


Afterglow Nickies, 466 Haight, SF; (415) 255-0300. An evening of mellow electronics with resident DJs Matt Wilder, Mike Perry, Greg Bird, and guests.
DiscoFunk Mashups Cat Club. 10pm, free. House and 70’s music.
Dub Mission Elbo Room. 9pm, $6. Dub, roots, and classic dancehall with DJ Sep, J Boogie, and guest Dub Gabriel.
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.
Lowbrow Sunday Delirium. 1pm, free. DJ Roost Uno and guests spinning club hip hop, indie, and top 40s.
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.



Califone Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $16.
Grand Lake, Bad Assets, Pine Away Knockout. 10pm, $5.
“Not So Silent Night Competition” Bottom of the Hill. 8pm, $8. Bands TBA.


Nick Culp Socha Café, 3235 Mission, SF; (415) 643-6848. 8:30pm.
Lavay Smith Trio Enrico’s, 504 Broadway, SF; www.enricossf.com. 7pm, free.
Christopher O’Riley Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8pm, $30.


Black Gold Koko Cocktails, 1060 Geary; 885-4788. 10pm-2am, free. Senator Soul spins Detroit soul, Motown, New Orleans R&B, and more — all on 45!
Death Guild DNA Lounge. 9:30pm, $3-5. Gothic, industrial, and synthpop with Decay, Joe Radio, and Melting Girl.
Going Steady Dalva. 10pm, free. DJs Amy and Troy spinning 60’s girl groups, soul, garage, and more.
King of Beats Tunnel Top. 10pm. DJs J-Roca and Kool Karlo spinning reggae, electro, boogie, funk, 90’s hip hop, and more.
Manic Mondays Bar on Church. 9pm. Drink 80-cent cosmos with Djs Mark Andrus and Dangerous Dan.
Monster Show Underground SF. 10pm, $5. Cookie Dough and DJ MC2 make Mondays worth dancing about, with a killer drag show at 11pm.
Network Mondays Azul Lounge, One Tillman Pl; www.inhousetalent.com. 9pm, $5. Hip-hop, R&B, and spoken word open mic, plus featured performers.
Spliff Sessions Tunnel Top. 10pm, free. DJs MAKossa, Kung Fu Chris, and C. Moore spin funk, soul, reggae, hip-hop, and psychedelia on vinyl.



Average White Band Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $25.
California Honeydrops Revolution Café, 3248 22nd St, SF; (415) 642-0474. 8:45pm, free.
Robert Francis Café du Nord. 9:30pm, $10.
Long Thaw, Downfalls, Pegataur Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $8.
Nervous Tics, Aversions, Complaints Knockout. 9:30pm, free.


Devine’s Jug Band, The Gas Men, Sean Corkery Club Waziema, 543 Divisadero, SF; (415) 999-4061. 8pm, free.
Fiddle Jam Socha Café, 3235 Mission, SF; (415) 643-6848. 8:30pm.
Barry O’Connell, Vinnie Cronin and friends Plough and Stars. 9pm.


“Booglaloo Tuesday” Madrone Art Bar. 9:30pm, $3. With Oscar Myers.
Dave Parker Quintet Rasselas Jazz. 8pm.
“Jazz Mafia Tuesdays” Coda. 9pm, $7. With Spaceheater’s Blast Furnace.
Ricardo Scales Top of the Mark. 6:30pm, $5.


Alcoholocaust Presents Argus Lounge. 9pm, free. With DJs What’s His Fuck, Kate Waste, and Trashed Tracy.
Drunken Monkey Annie’s Social Club. 9pm, free. Weekly 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.
Mixology Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, 133 Turk, (415) 441-2922. 10pm, $2. DJ Frantik mixes with the science and art of music all night.
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.
Shout at the Devil Red Devil Lounge. 8pm, free. Karaoke with a smoke machine and cheap drinks.

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 Picks.

Healthy Holiday Drinking Ferry Building, One Ferry Building, SF; (415) 291-3276 x103. 5:30pm, $30. Enjoy a holiday happy hour featuring Jim Beam cocktails made with early winter produce, samples of eight exotic liquor cocktails, and hors d’oeuvres from local restaurants. Vote for your favorite drink and be entered to win farmers market prizes.
The Moment of Psycho BookShop, 80 West Portal, SF; (415) 564-8080. 7pm, free. Hear film critic and historian David Thomson discuss his latest book The Moment of Psycho: How Alfred Hitchcock Taught America to Love Murder about the ways Hitchcock challenged Hollywood and altered our expectations for film.

Handmade Ho Down 1015 Folsom, 1015 Folsom, SF; www.handmadehodown.com. 6pm, free. Bay Area artists selling their handmade goods on Etsy.com team up to present a night of shopping, holiday cocktails, and DJ music. Some proceeds to benefit DrawBridge.
High-Tech and the Written Word Mechanics’ Institute, 57 Post, SF; (415) 393-0100. Bay Area literary, publishing, and tech/media authorities come together to discuss the future of the book and printed word in the world of the internet and merging technologies. Featuring Daniel Handler, Brenda Knight, John McMurtrie, Annalee Newitz, Scott Rosenberg, and Oscar Villalon, moderated by Alan Kaufman.

Green Sight and Sound Mina Dresden Gallery, 312 Valencia, SF; www.me-di-ate.net. 6pm, $35. Enjoy some ecoculture at this event featuring an art exhibition and silent auction of small works by environmental artists, wine, appetizers, and sweets from Bay Area purveyors, and live music performances.
Bay Area
Light Up the Holidays Jack London Square, Broadway at Embarcadero, Oak.; (510) 645-9292 x221. 5:30pm, free. Usher in the holiday season at this community event featuring an interactive palm tree light show, live dance and theater performances, live music, and more.

Artist Bazaar Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center, 2981 24th St., SF; (415)-285-2287. 7pm, free. Shop for some affordable original artwork by local artists while enjoying music by DJ Special K, a book signing by Precita Eyes Muralists, and affordable refreshments.
City Dance Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, SF; (415) 297-1172. 8pm, $15-23. Check out top-quality Bay Area dance performances with the Zhukov Dance Theater, Soul Sector, Loose Change, Funkanometry SF, and DS Players.
Deco the Halls Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 8th St., SF; (650) 599-DECO. Sat. 10am-6pm, Sun. 11am-5pm; $10. Attend the largest Art Deco and Modernism sale in the country featuring furniture, accessories, pottery, glass, art, books, jewelry, clothing, and more.
SF Camerawork Auction SF Camerawork, 2nd floor, 657 Mission, SF; (415) 512-2020. 1pm, $30. Bid on photographic art that fits a variety of budgets and interests from artists Robert Mapplethorpe, Todd Hido, Catherine Opie, and more. Proceeds help support SF Camerawork’s’ exhibition space, mentoring program for at-risk youth, and journal.
Slow Crab and Oyster Festival Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, 953 De Haro, SF; (415) 957-1313 x2. 6pm, $65. Celebrate the start of Dungeness Crab season at this dinner cooked by student chefs from the California Culinary Academy (CCA) featuring speakers, live blues music, and local beer.
Third Street Warehouse Sale 665 22nd St., SF; (415) 561-9703. 8:30am-4:30pm, free. Dozens of Bay Area designers and manufacturers are offering discounts on samples, overruns, and inventory of all kind of products from home décor and pet, to clothing and jewelry. Down the street at the same time, Rickshaw Bagworks (904 22nd St., SF; (415) 904-8368) is hosting a Flapjack Festival shopping and pancake event.
Farmers’ Market Fair Civic Center Park, Center at Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berk.; (510)548-3333. 10am-4pm, free. Shop for local crafts while stocking up on organic produce at this farmers’ market featuring live music throughout the day.
Fungus Fair Lawrence Hall of Science, Centennial Drive, Berk.; (510) 642-5132. Sat-Sun 10am-5pm, $6-12. Get up close to hundreds of wild mushrooms, eat edible mushrooms, learn cultivation techniques, watch culinary demonstrations, and become your own Mycologost (mushroom scientist) at this fair celebrating it’s 40th year.
Project Censored Book Release Odd Fellows Hall, 535 Pacific, Santa Rosa; (707) 874-2695. 6pm, $20. Celebrate the release of the 34th annual Project Censored, a list compiled by students and faculty at Sonoma State University of the most important news stories of the year censored by the mainstream media. To read this year’s stories, visit www.projectcensored.org.

Passive Aggressive Artists Television Access (ATA), 992 Valencia, SF; (415) 863-2141. 5pm, $5-10 sliding scale. Attend SoEx’s 8th annual film and video screening juried by Andrea Grover featuring work from film and video artists Brian Andrews, Marlene Angeja, Miguel Arzabe, Clark Buckner, and more.
Winterfest 2009 SOMArts Gallery, 934 Brannan, SF; (415) 431-BIKE. 6pm; $15 for SFBC members, $40 for general public, includes a one year SF Bike Coalition membership. Enjoy a festive evening with fellow bike enthusiasts featuring New Belgium beer, DJs, food vendors, and deals on bikes, gear, art, and local bike crafts.
Double-Consciousness San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, 4th floor, 2340 Jackson, SF; (415) 563-5815. 7:30pm, free. Hear E. Victor Wolfenstein, Ph.d., psychoanalyst, author, and professor of political science at UCLA, explore double-consciousness and the subversion of love in Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby.
Save the Ant, Save the World Atlas Café, 3049 20th St., SF; (415) 648-1047. 7pm, free. Find out more about the huge role that ants play in our ecosystem at this talk where Dr. Brian Fisher will describe the unique behaviors and adaptations of these charismatic creatures.

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 at www.sfbg.com. For complete film listings, see www.sfbg.com.


Armored Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne, and Jean Reno star in this action flick about a group of armored-truck workers who plot to steal $42 million. (1:28) Shattuck.
Brothers One’s a decorated Marine (Tobey Maguire) and one’s a fuckup (Jake Gyllenhaal) in this remake of a 2004 Danish film. (1:50) Embarcadero, Presidio, Shattuck, Sundance Kabuki.
*Collapse Michael Ruppert is a onetime LAPD narcotics detective and Republican whose radicalization started with the discovery (and exposure) of CIA drug trafficking operations in the late 70s. More recently he’s been known as an author agitator focusing on political cover-ups of many types, his ideas getting him branded as a factually unreliable conspiracy theorist by some (including some left voices like Norman Solomon) and a prophet by others (particularly himself). This documentary by Chris Smith (American Movie) gives him 82 minutes to weave together various concepts — about peak oil, bailouts, the stock market, archaic governmental systems, the end of local food-production sustainability, et al. — toward a frightening vision of near-future apocalypse. It’s “the greatest preventable holocaust in the history of planet Earth, our own suicide,” as tapped-out resources and fragile national infrastructures trigger a collapse in global industrialized civilization. This will force “the greatest age in human evolution that’s ever taken place,” necessitating entirely new (or perhaps very old, pre-industrial) community models for our species’ survival. Ruppert is passionate, earnest and rather brilliant. He also comes off at times as sad, angry, and eccentric, bridling whenever Smith raises questions about his methodologies. Essentially a lecture with some clever illustrative materials inserted (notably vintage educational cartoons), Collapse is, as alarmist screeds go, pretty dang alarming. It’s certainly food for thought, and would make a great viewing addendum to concurrent post-apocalyptic fiction The Road. (1:22) Lumiere, Shattuck. (Harvey)
La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet Famed documentarian Frederick Wiseman turns his camera on the storied ballet company. (2:38) Elmwood, Smith Rafael.
The End of Poverty? Martin Sheen narrates this doc about the root causes of poverty. (1:46) Four Star.
Everybody’s Fine Robert De Niro works somewhere between serious De Niro and funny De Niro in this portrait of a family in muffled crisis, a remake of the 1991 Italian film Stanno Tutti Bene. The American version tracks the comings and goings of Frank (De Niro), a recently widowed retiree who fills his solitary hours working in the garden and talking to strangers about his children, who’ve flung themselves across the country in pursuit of various dreams and now send home overpolished reports of their achievements. Disappointed by his offspring’s collective failure to show up for a family get-together, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey to connect with each in turn. Writer-director Kirk Jones (1998’s Waking Ned Devine) effectively underscores Frank’s loneliness with shots of him steering his cart through empty grocery stores, interacting only with the occasional stock clerk, and De Niro projects a sense of drifting disconnection with poignant restraint. But Jones also litters the film with a string of uninspired, autopilot comic moments, and manifold shots of telephone wires as Frank’s children (Kate Beckinsale, Drew Barrymore, and Sam Rockwell) whisper across the miles behind their father’s back — his former vocation, manufacturing the telephone wires’ plastic coating, funded his kids’ more-ambitious aims — feel like glancing blows to the head. A vaguely miraculous third-act exposition of everything they’ve been withholding to protect both him and themselves is handled with equal subtlety and the help of gratingly precocious child actors. (1:35) Presidio. (Rapoport)
*Everything Strange and New See “Triumph of the Underdog.” (1:24) Roxie.
Serious Moonlight From a screenplay by the late actor, writer, and director Adrienne Shelly, Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Cheryl Hines constructs a few scenes from a marriage in various kinds of jeopardy. The caddish-seeming Ian (Timothy Hutton) is on the verge of leaving his powerhouse-lawyer wife of 13 years, Louise (Meg Ryan), for a considerably younger and somewhat dimmer woman (Kristen Bell) when Louise throws a wrench in his plans with the help of a well-aimed flower pot and a roll of duct tape (are there any household problems this miracle material can’t solve?) What follows, with the unpredictable assistance of a gardener (Justin Long) who wanders onto the scene, is a sort of marathon couple’s-counseling session under duress that largely takes place within the confines of their bathroom — a roomy space, but rather smaller than your average therapist’s office. It’s not always easy to be in such close quarters with the pair as they rehash their relationship — a lot of decibels bounce off the walls as Ian yells and Louise endeavors to force him to recall, and feel, what he once felt. And while the circumstances, and the camera, give Ryan and Hutton the opportunity to leisurely express their characters’ conversational and interrelational habits, the larger issues are too much to work through all at once. The faint overlying tone of darker comedy and a scattering of physical gags restrain us from much emotional involvement, the backstory of the marriage gets pieced together in large, unlikely sections, and the film feels like an exercise or a sketch, rather than a deeply considered undertaking. (1:35) Opera Plaza. (Rapoport)
Transylmania Holy Vlad, another vampire movie? At least this one’s a spoof. (1:32).
Up in the Air After all the soldiers’ stories and the cannibalism canards of late, Up in the Air’s focus on a corporate ax-man — an everyday everyman sniper in full-throttle downsizing mode — is more than timely; it’s downright eerie. But George Clooney does his best to inject likeable, if not quite soulful, humanity into Ryan Bingham, an all-pro mileage collector who prides himself in laying off employees en masse with as few tears, tantrums, and murder-suicide rages as possible. This terminator’s smooth ride from airport terminal to terminal is interrupted not only by a possible soul mate, fellow smoothie and corporate traveler Alex (Vera Farmiga), but a young tech-savvy upstart, Natalie (Anna Kendrick), who threatens to take the process to new reductionist lows (layoff via Web cam) and downsize Ryan along the way. With Up in the Air, director Jason Reitman, who oversaw Thank You for Smoking (2005) as well as Juno (2007), is threatening to become the bard of office parks, Casual Fridays, khaki-clad happy hours, and fly-over zones. But Up in the Air is no Death of a Salesman, and despite some memorable moments that capture the pain of downsizing and the flatness of real life, instances of snappily screwball dialogue, and some more than solid performances by all (and in particular, Kendrick), he never manages to quite sell us on the existence of Ryan’s soul. (1:49) (Chun)


Art and Copy (1:30) Roxie.
*Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2:01) Lumiere, Shattuck, Smith Rafael, Sundance Kabuki.
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, 1000 Van Ness, Presidio, Sundance Kabuki. (Daniel Alvarez)
*Capitalism: A Love Story (2:07) Red Vic, Roxie.
Christmas with Walt Disney (:59) Walt Disney Family Museum.
Coco Before Chanel (1:50) Opera Plaza, Shattuck.
Defamation (1:33) Roxie.
Disney’s A Christmas Carol (1:36) 1000 Van Ness.
*An Education (1:35) Albany, Embarcadero, Piedmont.
*Fantastic Mr. Fox A lot of people have been busting filmmaker Wes Anderson’s proverbial chops lately, lambasting him for recent cinematic self-indulgences hewing dangerously close to self-parody (and in the case of 2007’s Darjeeling Limited, I’m one of them). Maybe he’s been listening. Either way, his new animated film, Fantastic Mr. Fox, should keep the naysayer wolves at bay for a while — it’s nothing short of a rollicking, deadpan-hilarious case study in artistic renewal. A kind of man-imal inversion of Anderson’s other heist movie, his debut feature Bottle Rocket(1996), his latest revels in ramshackle spontaneity and childlike charm without sacrificing his adult preoccupations. Based on Roald Dahl’s beloved 1970 book, Mr. Foxcaptures the essence of the source material but is still full of Anderson trademarks: meticulously staged mise en scène, bisected dollhouse-like sets, eccentric dysfunctional families coming to grips with their talent and success (or lack thereof).(1:27) Elmwood, Empire, Four Star, Marina, 1000 Van Ness, SF Center, Sundance Kabuki. (Devereaux)
*Good Hair (1:35) Opera Plaza.
The Maid (1:35) Clay, Shattuck.
The Men Who Stare at Goats (1:28) 1000 Van Ness, Roxie, Shattuck.
*The Messenger (1:45) Albany, Opera Plaza, Smith Rafael.
*Michael Jackson’s This Is It (1:52) 1000 Van Ness, SF Center.
New York, I Love You (1:43) Lumiere.
Ninja Assassin (1:33) 1000 Van Ness, Shattuck.
Old Dogs (1:28) Elmwood, Oaks, 1000 Van Ness.
Pirate Radio (2:00) Elmwood, 1000 Van Ness, Piedmont, Presidio, Sundance Kabuki.
Planet 51 (1:31) Oaks, 1000 Van Ness.
*Precious: Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire (1:49) SF Center, Shattuck, Sundance Kabuki.
Red Cliff (2:28) Embarcadero, Shattuck, Smith Rafael.
The Road (1:53) Embarcadero, California, Piedmont.
*A Serious Man (1:45) California, Embarcadero, Piedmont.
2012 (2:40) California, Empire, 1000 Van Ness.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2:10) Cerrito, Empire, 1000 Van Ness, Presidio, SF Center, Sundance Kabuki.
(Untitled) (1:30) Bridge, Shattuck.
*William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe (1:30) Shattuck.


The Cardinal In 1963 Otto Preminger was an old-guard titan of prestige Hollywood projects as yet unaware he’d just passed his peak. That this three-hour epic of priestly life got six Oscar nominations –- winning none, including what was only Preminger’s second go at Best Director –- testifies more to its scale and expense than to any great enthusiasm from press or public. Soon the famously tyrannical director would be considered by many a dinosaur in need of extinction so that new, less lumbering species could invigorate the medium. He did go away, too, or at least became irrelevant, via a painful late-career stretch of movies. Still, as a next-to-last effort (preceding 1965 John Wayne war spectacular In Harm’s Way) from his “superproduction” period, the seldom-revived Cardinal is not without interest. Based on a 1950 novel by Henry Morton Robinson, it charts the steady rise of idealistic but occasionally self-doubting Boston priest Stephen Fermoyle (Tom Tryon). Taking him from humble beginnings to Vatican insiderdom, the episodic narrative features Carol Lynley as a sister who becomes (for forbidden love of a Jew) a fallen woman; John Huston, Burgess Meredith, Raf Vallone, and Josef Meinrad as mentoring fellow men of the cloth; Ossie Davis as a black Georgia priest whose agitation against racism attracts KKK violence; and Romy Schneider as the Viennese girl who nearly lures Stephen from his vocation, then encounters him years later as a married woman threatened by the Gestapo. There’s also a completely unnecessary musical sequence with “Bobby (Morse) and His Adora-Belles,” a Passion of the Christ-like whipping scene, and other sporadic incongruities. For the most part, however, The Cardinal is all too steady of pulse, its 175 minutes consistently interesting yet without cumulative power. That’s long been blamed on Tryon, a tall, handsome, placid actor who fails to communicate a difficult role’s inner turmoil. But it’s also the producer-director’s fault. He hews to the cinematic era’s disinterest in real period atmosphere, renders gritty episodes corny, and demonstrates no stage-management flair for big setpieces like a late Nazi riot. Nonetheless, the film’s seriousness about church politics –- especially conflicting personal ethics and institutional necessity –- remains potent. This Film on Film Foundation screening features a very rare surviving 35mm widescreen Technicolor print, and is shown as a sidebar to but not an official part of the PFA’s current Preminger retrospective. (2:55) Pacific Film Archive. (Harvey)

*“Four by Hungarian Master Miklós Janksó” See “They Were Expendable.”