Volume 44 Number 36

Appetite: 3 recent opening worth checking out

0

Out of all the new additions to our food and drink scene last month — and there were quite a few — these spots launch with the promise of becoming SF classics. As always, read more about restaurants, bars, travel, food and drink in my newsletter, The Perfect Spot.

*****

BURRITT ROOM If I could imagine a dream “speakeasy,” it would be one tucked away from the masses (maybe in the second floor of a hotel), rich with atmosphere (brick walls, chandeliers, a piano, black and red accents on velvet stools, couches, pillows), a reasonably-sized menu (say, 18 rotating cocktails?) of classics and inventive new drinks, classic jazz floating softly from the speakers, and a complete lack of pretension or “sceney” obnoxiousness. Enter Burritt Room, which quietly opened upstairs in the Crescent Hotel in the shadow of the Stockton Tunnel.

The master bartender behind Burritt is Kevin Diedrich, whose experience ranges from East (PDT and Clover Club) to West (Clock Bar and Bourbon & Branch). He sets the welcoming tone, devoid of snobbery, appealing to cocktail aficionados and those who want a classy, mellow place to sip a beer alike. There’s other fine bartenders on board here, like Kelli Bratvold (Bourbon & Branch, Rickhouse). You might want to ask for Bratvold and Diedrich’s off-menu creation, Black Rose, an unusual mix of Bols Genever and Junipero Gin with Creme de Yvette, rose water, blackberry simple syrup, splash of Maraschino liqueur and a rose/pepper tincture.

Pull up to the bar or get cozy on a red couch with a layered Evening Shade: cognac, Grand Marnier, lemon, orgeat, peach bitters. I’m impressed with the seemingly light (but it sneaks up on you), refreshing Hitachino Sour: bourbon, orange marmalade, lemon, sugar, orange bitters, topped with Hitachino White beer. A Champagne Julep comes beautifully frosty in a proper julep cup, bourbon intriguingly switched out for sparkling wine and cognac. I will always prefer a traditional julep, but this is a pleasing change of pace.

A spirituous, boozy Kentucky Stinger has a hefty hunk of Kold Draft ice allowing the punch of rye and cognac to stay strong, the drink accented with Amaro, dashes of Angostura and chocolate bitters, and a creme de menthe rinse apparent on the minty finish. End an evening here with the awesome Smoked Peach (scotch, sherry, lemon, muddled peaches) and just try not to fall in love with this place.

Second Floor of Crescent Hotel
417 Stockton, SF. (at Sutter)
(415) 400-0500
www.crescentsf.com

******

MR. & MRS. MISCELLANEOUS Dogpatch’s new ice cream shop believes in doing it (all) yourself. Everything here, from candies to brittle, baked goods to the main draw, ice cream, are all made in-house. Pastry chefs, Annabelle Topacio and Ian Flores, invite you into an airy, fresh space with Maldon Sea Salt Caramels (75 cents each) I’m pretty much already addicted to. On the ice cream front, there’s minty-fresh White Grasshopper ice cream, and the soon-to-be signature Ballpark Anchor Steam beer ice cream with chocolate pretzels and peanuts ($4 for 1/2 pint; $8 a pint). Dogpatch has its ultimate sweet tooth stop.

699 22nd Street, SF. (at Third Street)
(415) 970-0750

******

COMSTOCK SALOON Comstock Saloon is truly a beautiful space in a 1907 building on the Barbary Coast trail restored to the glories of its past with antique mahogany bar, Victorian furniture, wood-burning stove (faux, though it may be), upright piano and the bar’s original spittoon. Jeff Hollinger (author of The Art of the Bar) and Jonny Raglin both came from Absinthe, bringing a mastery of cocktail classics to their own bar. Here you’ll find straight-up classics, the kind found in pages of The Savoy Cocktail Book or Charles H. Baker’s Gentleman’s Companion, the latter displayed (first edition) in glassed-in shelves lining the wall, along with other historical cocktail memorabilia… a mini-Museum of the American Cocktail, if you will.

Beside making perfected Sazeracs and South Side cocktails, they’ve honed other lesser-known classics, like a Hop Toad, with Jamaican rum, apricot brandy, lime and bitters. Though Comstock, like Burritt, is an ideal place for lingering on plush Victorian couches, or in wood booths, it is also much more than bar. It’s a restaurant with full menu, offering lunch and dinner, from Chef Carlo Espinas, formerly of Piccino Cafe. At first glance, a Beef Shank with Bone Marrow Pot Pie may look like a store-bought pot pie, but just sink your fork into flaky crust with a meaty, heartwarming interior and you’ll taste the love. I also adore tender Potted Pork with a side of country ham, mustard, veggies and warm bread to spread it on.

Johnny Raglin behind the bar at Comstock. Photo by Virginia Miller

A welcome addition to North Beach, this comfortable saloon is also a loving tribute to turn-of-the-century SF history and cocktails popular back in our wild Barbary Coast days.

155 Columbus, SF. (between Jackson & Kearny)
(415) 617-0071
www.comstocksaloon.com

Appetite: Persian Pub Grub paired beer and wine with Iranian bar food

0

It’s joy when our city’s food and drink greats team up to form something unique. Such was Zaré at Flytrap‘s three nights of Persian Pub Grub, as envisioned by Zare’s chef/owner, Hoss Zaré, and Monk’s Kettle‘s Sayre Piotrkowski and Ryan Corbett.

The exuberant, hospitable Hoss created a menu lovingly melding traditional elements of his home country of Iran with creative expressions. Though Hoss admits that “Pub Grub doesn’t really exist in Iran” (nor would the alcohol pairings), he dreams up a Persian dinner as it might look in a modern, hypothetical Iranian Gastropub. Each course was happily far from typical, and most were downright heartwarming. My two favorites ended up being Caspian Seafood Stew, a smoky, saffron-heavy broth (enhanced by black garlic aioli and sour, pickled grapes) loaded with plump calamari, octopus, mussels and smoked sturgeon with a dollop of caviar. The other? A brilliant take on traditional Ghormeh Sabzi, an Iranian herb stew and national dish, one Hoss says would win your sweetheart’s affection if you perfect in Iran. This Persian Chili was redolent of herbs, paprika, harissa, and a spicy, crumbled lamb sausage mixed with organic kidney beans. I could not get enough.

Certified Cicerone, Piotrkowski, and his equally passionate-about-beer co-worker, Corbett, paired a stellar list of beers with Hoss’ food, facing off directly with wine pairings from Zare’s Wine Director, Mario Nocifera. At two convivial communal tables, we debated which paired best with any given course. I can honestly say there were no afterthoughts on either side. The final score? In my book, it’s two for two.

Beer, wine, and chicken wings with pomegranate sauce. Photo by Virginia Miller

My two favorite wines were the impressively elegant, layered acidity of Niepoort Codega‘s 2006 “Tiara” white from Branco, Portugal, and an earthy, dark berry/pepper, mineral, but balanced, 2008 Borsao Garnacha, “Tres Picos”, from Campo de Borja, Spain (quite a value at $14.99 a bottle at K&L).

On the beer front, though I was delighted to see Hitachino’s “XH” and Midas Touch for dessert, I was blown away by grapefruit brightness in Stone Brewing Co.’s dark, bitter Sublimely Self-Righteous, and the Belgian-style, caramel-y but bone dry Goose Island “Pere Jacques.”

Hoss has hosted other special Persian dinners and I hope will throw plenty more. Check their website’s event page for future dinners. Or go for dinner or lunch to sample Hoss’ heartwarming cooking paired with Reza Esmali‘s Middle Eastern-influenced cocktail menu (there’s a classic cocktail list, too) or Nocifera’s wine list. Monk’s Kettle is thankfully always ready to pour one of these fine or other equally exciting, and often, rare, beers.

Here was the Persian Pub Grub menu ($75 per person, including all pairings):

Sumac Couscous Salad with Dungeness Crab
Victory, “Prima” Pilsner, US| Yarden, Brut Traditional, Galilee Israel 
Caspian Seafood Stew with Mussels, Cod, Sturgeon and Black Garlic aioli
Hitachino “XH” Ibaraki Japan | Niepoort Codega “Tiara”, Blanco, Portugal
Chicken Wings “Fessenjoon” with Pomegranate Walnut Sauce
Stone, “Sublimely self-righteous” Ale, US | Coroa Godello, Valdeorras, Spain     
Persian Chili “Ghormeh Sabzi” with Spicy Lamb Sausage
Goose Island, “Pere Jacques” Belgian Style Ale, US | Borsao Garnacha “Tres Picos”, Campo de Borja, Spain
“Faloodeh” Lime Sorbet with Rice Noodles and Pistachios
Dog Fish Head, “Midas Touch” Ancient Ale, Milton US

www.zareflytrap.com

Lock and load

0

le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS Speaking of pickup trucks, I borrowed the Pod’s for the weekend because Hollywood was coming to San Francisco. It was my turn to drive. As you may know, 20-year-old Toyota pickup trucks aren’t sports cars, but I figured this was a step in the right direction, especially since it’s lesbian-owned.

My brother’s 25-year-old Toyota van, which I babysit, was bought off of lesbians. Still, it’s got very little mystique at this point: just a badly cracked windshield, a badly battered body, one working low-beam, and no brights whatsoever. I feel lucky not to be pulled over by the police every time I move it for street cleaning.

My brother hauls boards and tools and garbage in this van. To pick up a date in it, I feel, would be the end of the date. Once I drove it to a probably-already-doomed-anyway first meeting at a Peet’s in a North Bay shopping center, thinking: shopping center … I could park anonymously! But the damn dude was waiting outside, watching for me, and saw.

So that date was over before it started. I’m not sure what it says about this one that Hollywood wound up taking a cab to the airport. I don’t know, is it a wild weekend, or a wonky one, when by Monday morning you have entirely lost the keys to your friend’s Toyota?

While Hollywood was taking an airplane to L.A., and even for a couple hours afterward, I was still running around like a chicken with its head still on, turning my purses inside out, emptying laundry baskets, unmaking and remaking the bed. I even looked in the refrigerator. I called or went to everywhere we’d been the night before.

After a tow-trucker let me in, I turned Pod’s pickup inside out.

The Club was locked onto the steering wheel, and no, no one had a spare key. There wasn’t one. I’d called her. In Oregon.

Finally I started going into places we hadn’t been the night before, and one of them, a restaurant that was closed (I’d thought) when we’d parked in front of it, had me my keys, praise the lard. And praise the person who picked them up and put them there, whoever you are. I love you.

Loving you, loving life, living lunch, I unlocked the door, unlocked the Club, turned the key in the ignition, and drove to West Oakland to feed Pod’s cats and swap out her truck for my brother’s van. In the act of which — no lie — I lost her house key.

Chickens and waffles is not brain food. It’s soul food. This week they happened at the Hard Knox Café in Dogpatch, and were particularly hard to order because the restaurant was crowded with people eating smothered pork chops, jambalaya, po’boys, mac and cheese, and other good-lookingly soulful woowoo that made me wonder why I only ever eat chicken and waffles.

It’s the perfect time for such wonderings, since I am officially out of ideas, chicken and wafflewise, as well as brain cells in general. If anyone else here does the duo … you tell me.

Hard Knox’s fried chickens were not as good as expected. The drumstick was perfectish, but both thighs were a little overdone and undermeaty. The waffle was great. Nevertheless, if I ever again crave chickens with them (and I might not for a pretty long time), you will find me up the road at Auntie April’s, or down it at Little Skillet.

Oh, but Hard Knox rocks, in many ways, one of which is collard greens with a few squirts of Crystal hot sauce, and then a few more. And then a few more. The Maze made some real nice noises when he bit into his fried catfish po’boy. Which in fact I tasted, and yeah, it was damn good.

And the sweet tea, too. And, like I said, all the smothered stuff sure looked good and smothered. Plus I just love the place! With its corrugated tin walls and old funky signs, you really do feel like you’re somewhere else. Like, say, the South. I love being transported by meals and atmosphere. In fact — trucks and trains be damned — food might be my new favorite method of transportation. *

HARD KNOX CAFE

Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

2526Third St., S.F.

(415) 648-3770

MC/V

Beer and wine

How safe is your cell phone?

5

By Brittany Baguio

news@sfbg.com

GREEN CITY In the wake of recent studies suggesting that extensive cell phone use might be linked to some types of cancer, consumer advocates are pushing to require phone companies to publicize the level of radiation their devices emit.

It seems like a simple idea. If fast-food restaurants are required to post the calories and fat content of their junk food, why shouldn’t cell phone companies post the level of radiowave energy coming out of their products? But it’s proving to be a tough fight — in part because the scientific studies are so complex, and also because the industry is fighting furiously against disclosure rules.

The California State Senate narrowly rejected June 4 a bill by Sen. Mark Leno (D-SF) that would have taken a modest step toward better disclosure. Leno’s measure, SB 1212, would have mandated that manufacturers and phone providers disclose radiation levels, or specific absorption rate (SAR), on their Internet websites and online user manuals. They would also be required to state the maximum allowable SAR value, and what it means.

“The federal government has set a standard for this type of radiation and already requires reporting,” Leno told us, “At the very least, consumers should have the right to know about the relative risks of the products they’re buying.”

There’s a similar measure in the works in San Francisco. On May 24, the Board of Supervisors City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee passed Mayor Gavin Newsom’s plan to require retailers in the city to reveal the amount of radiation released by cell phones. That would make San Francisco the only city in the United States mandating that retailers acknowledge radiation information.

The most recent and largest study focusing on cell phone radiation, the Interphone Study, was released this year. Conducted by 21 scientists in 12 participating countries, the study looked at the long-term risks of certain brain cancers.

The results are mixed. The study found some results of increased risks of tumors, although the authors could not agree on how to interpret the data.

The researchers surveyed 5,000 brain cancer patients, and found that people who were “heavy” cell-phone users (defined as using the phone 30 minutes or more a day) had a slightly higher risk of some kinds of cancer. But, as an Environmental Working Group analysis of the study noted, “most of the people involved … used their cell phones much less than is common today.”

Cell phones emit radiowaves through their antennas, which in newer models are often embedded in the phone itself. The closer the distance from the antenna to a person’s head, the more exposed he or she is to radio frequency energy.

However, as the distance between the antenna and a person’s body increases, the amount of radio frequency energy decreases rapidly. Consumers who keep their phones away from their body while doing activities such as texting are absorbing less radio frequency energy.

The Federal Communications Commission has set a safety level for a phone’s SAR — a measure of radiation energy — at 1.6 watts per kilogram of body mass. All cell phone manufacturers must produce phones at or below this level.

Renee Sharp, director of California’s Environmental Working group, says the evidence doesn’t have to be conclusive to warrant caution. “We aren’t trying to say that cell phones are dangerous because we don’t have definite answers yet and we need more research,” Sharp said. “But when you look at studies with long-term use of 10 years of longer, you see increases in certain kinds of brain tumors. We are trying to give people as much information as we can to make informed decisions because it may or may not impact their health.”

Cell phone manufacturers aren’t required to disclose SAR information directly to phone buyers; they send the data to the FCC. Although the FCC makes this information available on its website, the information is incomplete and hard to find. A list of cell phone SARs information compiled by the Environmental Working Group is at www.ewg.org/cellphoneradiation/Get-a-Safer-Phone.

The telecommunications industry strongly oppose Leno’s bill. Joe Gregorich, a lobbyist for Tech America, an industry group, told us that the requirement in Leno’s bill “has an assumption that a lower SAR is safer than a higher SAR. The FCC, FDA, and Inter Agency Working Group regulate the SAR and have set a SAR threshold where cell phones are considered safe. All cell phone manufacturers make cell phones below this SAR threshold.”

According to Sharp, the FCC’s standards are out of date. “The FCC set SAR standards 14 years ago and has not updated them since,” Sharp said. “This was before we found out that children have thinner skulls and are more susceptible to radiation effects, and before phones developed and exploded into what they are now.”

Editor’s Notes

1

Tredmond@sfbg.com

What’s the real price of a gallon of gas? Think about it — because it’s not $3.12, which is what I paid the last time I filled my tank. See, that price didn’t include the gulf oil spill.

Americans use about 130 billion gallons of gas a year. When all is said and done, the cash cost of cleaning up the spill and repairing the economic damage to the coastlines of several states is probably going to exceed $20 billion, whether BP pays it all or not (Florida alone could lose $10 billion a year in tourism if its Gulf Coast beaches are fouled.) That’s an additional 15 cents a gallon. Add in the long-term economic damages, and the incalculable environmental damages, and you’d have to kick up the price another dollar. Which doesn’t even begin to account for the costs of global climate change, the poisoning of the Niger basin, the destruction of large parts of the Amazon, and all the other damage that oil drilling does. Gas is pretty pricey; we just don’t pay for it at the pump.

So it’s infuriating to see Matier and Ross in the June 7 Chronicle saying that electricity from the city’s community choice aggregation program will be more expensive than what we pay now to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (see editorial).

Sticker prices are a lie. That cheap plastic stuff from Walmart costs third world kids their childhood. The price of non-organic strawberries at Safeway doesn’t include the damage pesticides do to the soil, the damage water diversions do to the delta and the fisheries — or the damage nonunion farm workers suffer in the fields.

Economists have all kinds of words for this — externalities, spillover costs — but when I hear that coal energy and Walmart toys are cheaper, the only one I can think of is: bullshit.

Now: full-speed ahead with CCA

2

EDITORIAL Proposition 16 — Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s monopoly power grab — has to rank as the most venal, corrupt abuse of the initiative system in California history. The utility spent nearly $50 million to pay for a misleading signature drive, mount a campaign of lies and distortions, create bogus front groups, and flood the airwaves with ads — all in an effort to convince Californians to vote against their own interests. It’s a case study in why the state needs initiative reform (a ban on paid signature gatherers and limits on corporate campaign contributions would be good places to start).

At press time, we didn’t know how the election would turn out — but this much is clear: San Francisco needs to move ahead with community choice aggregation and continue to push for public power anyway.

Prop. 16 was never about "taxpayer rights." The whole point of the initiative was to block communities from replacing PG&E with public power. But it’s too late to stop San Francisco. Thanks to heroic efforts by Sup. Ross Mirkarimi, the city has already reached a deal with Power Choice LLC to create and operate a CCA system in town. Under state law, every resident and business in the city is automatically a customer of the CCA unless they opt out — so Prop. 16, which bars public-power agencies from signing up new customers, doesn’t apply.

It was a battle royal to get to this point. The PG&E-friendly San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, operating under a PG&E-friendly mayor, had more than a year to find a vendor and negotiate a contract. But PUC General Manager Ed Harrington dragged his feet at every turn. In fact, just a few weeks ago, Harrington tried to delay the contract until after the June election — thus giving PG&E a better shot at invalidating any contract. But with enough pressure from the supervisors, the basic terms of the deal were sealed in plenty of time.

Besides, San Francisco is in a unique position. Federal law (the Raker Act) requires the city to operate a public power system — and that act of Congress would trump any state law.

So the supervisors should move forward on finalizing the CCA, Mayor Gavin Newsom should sign off on it, and City Attorney Dennis Herrera should prepare to defend it vigorously if PG&E tries to sue.

Herrera has told us repeatedly that he thinks the city’s legal position is sound. In the past, he’s refused to use the Raker Act as a legal strategy — to go to court and force his own city to follow the law — but he needs to be ready to use that powerful weapon if PG&E tries to interfere with the implementation of CCA.

City officials at every level also have to make a concerted effort to counter PG&E’s lies — particularly the sort of misinformation that made it into the Matier and Ross column in the Chron June 7, the day before the election. Quoting unnamed sources, the reporters insisted that San Francisco CCA’s electricity rates would be higher than PG&E’s. That’s only true if you ignore the fact that PG&E’s rates are unstable and going up every year and that the cost of alternative energy is coming down every year — and if you don’t consider the costs of climate change, oil spills, coal mining disasters, nuclear waste storage, and all the other impacts of PG&E’s nonrenewable energy mix. And remember: San Francisco is asking the CCA to provide 51 percent renewables by 2019; PG&E’s portfolio doesn’t even meet the state’s weak 15 percent requirement. (There is also, of course, the multibillion dollar risk that San Francisco could lose the Hetch Hetchy dam if the city continues to violate the Raker Act.)

But the private utility that spent gobs of money on the Prop. 16 campaign will spend millions more in San Francisco to convince customers to opt out of the CCA. So the city needs its own campaign to explain why public power is not only much greener, but in the long run, much, much cheaper.

San Francisco has had a mandate for public power since 1913, nearly 100 years. The implementation of CCA would be a big step toward fulfilling that mandate. The supervisors should not let anything stand in the way.

When the rich can sit on the sidewalks

77

By Tiny


OPINION Steel gates, steeds with silver spurs, lush red carpet lining the streets, uniformed officers guarding velvet-roped grand entrances to fancy costume balls while commoners are arrested if they so much as stop to rest on a nearby sidewalk. Sounds like the days of feudal England, or Marie Antoinette’s Paris. Guess again — its San Francisco, circa 2010.

In the wake of the proposed sit-lie law, which would make it illegal for poor people to sit or lie on any public sidewalk or street, the San Francisco is increasingly giving public streets and sidewalks away to large corporate festivals where rich, mostly white people stumble around with open containers, drunk and disorderly.

Since last month’s expanding Bay to Breakers "race," at which drunk, oddly dressed white people sat on curbs, stumbled into doorways, toppled onto the streets, and partied with entitled impunity as only people with race and class privilege can in this country, I have felt uneasy. This so-called run, supported by large corporations, has increased its land grab of several blocks of city streets, causing increased traffic, pollution, and blocked arteries for pedestrians, cyclists, and cars — all so that white people can party in undisturbed inebriation all across the city.

And if you think it was just a benign day of public drunkenness, think again. Several of my friends of color who made the mistake of being outside on race day were subjected to an onslaught of hate speech from some very threatening gang members (from the INGCHARLESSCHWABSTANFORD Gang. "You think this is Arizona?" "Are you here to be a valet?" "Go Back to Mexico."

I was riding my bicycle a week later only to be stopped on my route up Van Ness Street because of the two-day preparation, and then almost 24-hour exclusive usage of McAllister and Van Ness streets for the Black and White Ball. Again: a state-sanctioned, corporate-and-private-philanthro-pimped event for rich white people to get drunk and party on city streets.

Why is it that white people in a corporate-sanctioned party are seen as more safe or civilized than the rest of us — and how do houseless people, poor people, and people of color get criminalized in our own communities for the sole act of convening, standing, talking, or being?

It’s important to note that the rhetoric and propaganda in support of sit-lie has gone so far as to cite the struggle of disabled people to get by sidewalks "cluttered" with houseless people or businesses having their customers scared away by houseless folks convening. Yet the plethora of drunk people lying on sidewalks after Bay to Breakers are not seen as an obstacle to safety.

Tiny, a.k.a Lisa Gray-Garcia, is editor of POOR Magazine.

Volume 44 Number 36 Flip-through Edition

0

Get your kicks

1

culture@sfbg.com

SPORTS The Olympics may get the most props for bringing sports fans of all nationalities together in (mostly) friendly competition. But as futbol fans know, a simple “gooooaaaallll!” translates thrillingly into any language. Like millions of World Cup soccer enthusiasts around the globe, I’ll be parking my particulars in front of the biggest screens in town for this year’s spectacle (June 11-July 11). And fortunately, no matter where you are in the city, you should be able to do the same. Here’s a short list of some of the best places to go and check out a match or 10. Too numerous to list are the many sports bars and Irish/English pubs that will undoubtedly be open (Bus Stop, Kezar Pub, the Phoenix, Mad Dog in the Fog, Balompie Café — here’s looking at you!), but you’ll find them easily enough on your own. Just follow the sounds of “ole, ole, ole, ole” wafting in the breeze, grab a stripy scarf, and plunge into the fray.

Civic Center: If you can’t force your soccer-loving employees to come to work during the big matches, at least you can cut down on their commute by installing a giant 13-by-18-foot screen in front of City Hall and inviting the neighbors ’round. Jens-Peter Jungclaussen, the “teacher-with-the-bus” who almost single-handedly wrangled 10,000 people to a screening of the 2006 final at Dolores Park, is helping spearhead the city’s ambitious 2010 operation, with 10 days of screenings including all quarterfinal, semifinal, and final matches, and a corresponding youth soccer tournament organized by America SCORES.

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, SF. www.worldcupsf.com, www.teacherbus.com

AT&T Park: “Take me out to the ballgame” gets a brand new meaning at AT&T Park where they’ll be screening the big USA-England match on June 12 for free. Open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the ballpark expects 5,000 fans to show up. If you ever wanted to give soccer hooliganism a try, this might well be the place. Just try not to get all Bill Buford about it.

24 Willie Mays Plaza, SF. (415) 972-2000

Goethe Institute: Even though the games aren’t being played in the vaterland this year, native German-speakers and we amis who love them will be gathering at the institute to watch the Germany-Australia game on June 13, and the Germany-Ghana match on June 23. Kickoff time for both games is 11:30 a.m., more screenings will be announced presuming Germany progresses to the next levels.

530 Bush, SF. (415) 263-8760, www.goethe.de/sanfrancisco

Mercury Lounge: Who would have thought that a relatively innocuous den of SoMa-style iniquity would decide to open its doors to the rough-and-tumble world of footie fandom? If you can get through the somewhat self-indulgent event webpage, you’ll come away pretty excited about the prospect of seeing matches every day from 6 a.m., with drink specials, breakfast menu, and (ick) bar-staff “eye candy”. Don’t get me started on that, but do expect to see me put in an appearance or two for half-volleys and hash browns.

1582 Folsom, SF. (415) 551-1582, www.sfworldcup2010.com

Horatius: The proprietor of this Potrero Hill café, Horacio Gomes, has thrown down the “best place to watch the World Cup” gauntlet by promising to be open for every single match — including those that start at 4:30 a.m. — and screening simultaneous games when they occur. Plus, the venue boasts a 15-by-15-foot projection screen that you won’t find at your run-of-the-mill sports bar and a capacity for up to 300 people. Free coffee will be served during the early morning matches, and light breakfast at 6 a.m.

350 Kansas, SF. (415) 252-3500, www.horatius.com

Steps of Rome Caffe: This North Beach stronghold is also planning to be open for every game — including those 4:30 matches that only the most diehard fans would consider attending (New Zealand vs. Slovakia anyone?). If you’re not yet a diehard fan, this might be the place that turns you into one, what with all that Italian coffee, pizza, and overseas-bred enthusiasm for the world’s greatest game flowing like a robust house red.

348 Columbus, SF. (415) 397-0435, www.stepsofromecaffe.com

Worst worst movie?

0

INTERNATIONAL CINEMA It wouldn’t be a Cannes Film Festival without scandals onscreen and off. The recent 63rd edition found international media struggling to come up with some — Jean-Luc Godard’s no-show, the generally feh quality of competition films. Pretty weak. Little incited righteous outrage over artistic license as before: think of prior provocations by Gaspar Noé, Carlos Reygadas, and Vincent Gallo.

But last year there was not only Lars von Trier’s polarizing Antichrist but a film Roger Ebert called "the worst film in the history of Cannes." Kinatay nonetheless won Brillante Mendoza a best director jury prize. This unwatchable piece of arty trash (per Ebert) premieres locally this weekend. Clearly, differences of opinion will prevail.

Kinatay — i.e. "butchery," so Tagalog speakers are forewarned — falls into that Cinema of Punishment category von Trier, Noé, and ever-increasing younger filmmakers seem inordinately fond of. The basic idea being to rub your nose in it, "it" being the soullessness of contemporary life as illustrated by some combination of cruelty, tedium, unpleasantly graphic content, and aesthetic onslaught. At worst, movies classifiable this way exist for nothing beyond their smug, empty shock value. At best, they really do shock you into a state of heightened … something. Sensitivity? Dismay?

Kinatay is not a vanity wank à la Gallo’s The Brown Bunny (2003). Nor does
it over-enjoy the sadism it’s decrying a la Noé. It is grueling, not just in content terms but the viewer effort required. But it’s also a work by a clearly gifted filmmaker, the Philippines’ leading indie talent, serious in intent if problematic.

Newlywed police trainee Peping (Coco Martin) needs extra cash. So he agrees to a shady mission whose purpose is only gradually gleaned, to his horror: riding along with corrupt fellow cops as they abduct, beat, rape, and murder prostitute Madonna (Maria Isabel Lopez), ostensibly to punish her large drug debt.

Peping’s long night of squirming empathy, inaction, and major disillusionment feels like it passes in real time. Yet there’s considerable craft in Mendoza’s aesthetic choices, not to mention an uncommonly rich sense of teeming, dangerous Manila street life in his opening scenes. I highly doubt Kinatay was the worst Cannes film of 2009, let alone ever.

Ebert, freshly anointed by San Francisco International Festival celebration and generally considered a "seventh art" angel, has a history of such pronouncements. Prior movies he’s been appalled by include Blue Velvet (1986), I Am Curious (Yellow) (1967), Pink Flamingos (1972), The Tenant (1976), and recent Australian horror Wolf Creek (2005). The latter was terrific (and a commercial bust) precisely because it made its characters’ serial-killer’d travails truly punishing to watch. Ebert isn’t infallible, and "worst ever" pronouncements are often fallible in the extreme.

KINATAY

Sat/12, 7:30 p.m.; Sun/13, 4:30 p.m., $6–$8

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-2787

www.ybca.org

Freedom for

0

arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC It can be tough to see the woods for the trees, to eyeball the big picture ideas amid the seductive specifics of a lush, ancient green aroma of a redwood forest after a rain, or the honeyed, sun-washed lethargy that comes with a warm summer day. But pin down one crucial branch of Brooklyn band Woods with an archetypal Barbara Walters query — “If Woods could be any tree, what tree would it be?” — and you just might get, “Omigod, I’m drawing a blank.”

Jarvis Taveniere, once of Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice and now heading up Woods along with founder Jeremy Earl, pauses and ponders the arboreal possibilities on a beautiful day in upstate New York. He has a gin and tonic in one hand and a Pink Floyd rock bio in the other. He could be swimming, learning to dive, and hurting his shoulder instead on this mellow day, just before Woods uproots and sets out on tour.

“I was going to say redwood. I thought that sounded cheesy, but I’m going to say it anyway,” he decides. “There’s history there — it’s extremely old and huge. And I’d like to hear what they have to say: ‘Tree, tell me about Henry Miller — what was he like?'”

Taveniere will have his chance to speak to the trees when Woods gets to SF and Big Sur. The latter’s Henry Miller Memorial Library is the site of the Woodsist Festival, nominally a showcase for Earl’s label, Woodsist, but really, as Taveniere puts it, “just any excuse to get up there” and play with friends like SF’s the Fresh and Onlys. “You don’t have to sit in the sun and buy $5 bottles of water,” he quips.

Woods take to California’s leafy retreats like seedlings to the herbaceous floor of old-growth forest, making a ritual of roaming beneath the bowers of Muir Woods. “We have to go to Muir Woods every tour,” says Taveniere, who grew up in upstate New York along with Earl and spent his youth “hiding out” in the woods building forts and fashioning his own little world. “It’s just the tranquil feeling you get over there, especially living in New York and being on tour and some of us living in city. We always leave in a such nice peaceful state, resetting the mind a little.”

That kick-back feeling, mixed with the unexpected sensation of having your mind suddenly kick-started, suffuses Woods music, from the unpredictable musical twists and unlikely power of the band’s live performances to the most recent Woods album, At Echo Lake (Woodsist), a sunnily insinuating document of summer 2009, named for the humble New Jersey vacation spot near Earl’s hometown. It shimmers with surf ‘n’ turf rumble (“From the Horn”), Badfinger-esque melancholy (“Mornin’ Time”), and nether-worldly noise and triangle plinks (“Pick Up”) — sometimes in the very same song. Who would think lines like “Numbers make no difference unless you shine like you should/And the night hangs it back in place” could touch the heart strings like they do? Woods’ deep sweetness and natural mystery runs throughout like a fresh, cool stream.

At Echo Lake is the fruit of songwriting stints in Brooklyn — and the lure of barbecue, which enticed friends like the Magik Markers’ Pete Nolan to contribute drums to “Get Back” and Matt Valentine to “lay down some sweet santar” (a modified banjo-sitar) on “Time Fading.” “You trick them to come up for barbecue,” Taveniere jests. “Everyone’s loose, having a good time — it’s the perfect opportunity to create.”

WOODS

With Kurt Vile and the Art Museums

Fri/11, 8 p.m., $16

Slim’s

333 11th St., SF

(415) 522-0333

www.slims-sf.com

WOODSIST FEST BIG SUR

With Real Estate, Kurt Vile, Moon Duo, the Fresh and Onlys

Sat/12, 3-11 p.m., $22.50 (sold out/waiting list)

Highway 1, Big Sur

www.myspace.com/folkyeahpresents

www.henrymiller.org

Shock it to ya

0

El boogie, my love of loves

7 & 11 belong together

Please set free your G

Love & Bravery on forever — Shock-G

After our recent interview, Shock-G — frontman and producer of now-disbanded rap legends Digital Underground, discoverer of 2Pac, and alter ego of the Groucho-nosed Humpty Hump — e-mails the poem printed above. “I need you to put this in,” he writes. “It’s my thank you to fans for letting me move on after DU.” Plus, he adds mysteriously, “it has many meanings.”

It’s a characteristically offbeat request. Eight years on from meeting Shock, it’s still hard to anticipate his moves. The occasion of our phone conversation is a new disc of Digital Underground rarities, The Greenlight EP (Jake Records). The 2008 Jake Records release Cuz a DU Party Don’t Stopa similarly miscellaneous collection misleadingly marketed as “the final DU studio album” — lacked the coherence of classics like Sex Packets (Tommy Boy, 1989) and was panned by critics, so Shock wants to make the status of Greenlight clear.

“I don’t want to give the public the idea like, ‘Yo, we just made a slammin’ new album,'” he says. “DU’s not my purpose right now. It’s more like, ‘I’m cleaning out the closet, look what we discovered.'”

A 7-song EP, Greenlight benefits from its tighter focus. DU completists may recognize obscure gems like “Used 2B a Sperm” — a sci-fi story of Shock as a sperm cell journeying to the egg. Other tracks like “Purplebrainhurrycainhabit,” produced by a then-unknown David Banner, emerge for the first time. 2Pac appears on a bonus 1991 live version of “Same Song.”

But Shock would rather dwell in the present, which is among the reasons he finally disbanded the group. Much of his conversation concerns his whole-food diet, a difficult pursuit when spending 200 nights a year on tour.

“It requires more thought than most people care to put into it,” he says. “What you eat is so important to your future health and clarity of mind. I’m actually in better shape than I was in my 20s and 30s.”

This lifestyle change dovetails with his other reason for ending DU: the increasingly heavy drug use. Motivated by his health consciousness, Shock’s new sobriety is also an artistic decision. In the 1990s, DU performances were theatrical shows, Shock running the group like a band, in a way that gradually lapsed in the new millennium

Yet live performances led to his latest venture, the Shock-G3 Trio. A collaboration with DU’s original DJ, Fuze, on turntables, and early member PeeWee on guitar, the Trio unites what Shock calls DU’s “core musicians,” responsible for most of 2Pac’s first LP, 2Pacalypse Now (Priority, 1991). The format allows Shock to stretch out on keys, as the group jams on the DU/2Pac repertoire, as well as funk, jazz, and whatever else Shock gets in his head.

“The thing about working sober is the small eye signals on stage and PeeWee and Fuze catch them,” Shock enthuses. “Like the audience wants us to go a few bars longer. Or if they’re not feeling it, backing out of those songs. It keeps the shows tight.”

Bucharest calling

0

arts@sfbg.com

FILM In the five years since Cristi Puiu’s improbable epic, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005), a small group of philosophically-inclined filmmakers who were still young during the last days of Ceausescu have been disproportionately responsible for the minor masterpieces of world cinema. None of the Romanian films at Cannes (including Puiu’s follow-up, Aurora) nabbed a prize this year. But the three features in the Pacific Film Archive’s “Tales from the Golden Age: Recent Romanian Cinema” series — Lazarescu, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007), and Police, Adjective (2009) — were all heavily garlanded. They gain power when seen in series, where their common syntax comes into focus.

All three films unfold as underground odysseys. A character is tested in a series of trials flowing, directly or indirectly, from the state. In Lazarescu, the eponymous figure is sent upon a Styx-like course of hospitals, accompanied first by reproachful neighbors and then a willful medic. By the time the doctors correctly diagnose his original complaint of the stomach and head, his neurological condition has deteriorated to the point that he can no longer form the words himself. In 4 Months, we trace a young woman’s movements through the city as she ensures a safe course for her friend’s illegal abortion (the film is set two years before Ceausescu’s fall). As more and more is asked of her promise, the film’s handheld style comes to seem charged by irreversibility. In Police, Adjective, we watch a quiet young detective trail a dead-end case: he’s been assigned to gather evidence for a uselessly punitive drug bust of a few teenaged hash-smokers. When he finally refuses to order a raid, he gets an unexpected linguistics lesson from his chief (played with appalling charisma by Vlad Ivanov, the abortionist in 4 Months; in both films he seems the very embodiment of the banality of evil) who dismantles the detective’s logic word by word.

With narratives like case histories, peeling back a social situation until its very marrow is exposed, these films take no shortcuts to empathy. Morality is specifically broached, and each centers on protracted, tangled negotiations carried off by wonderful acting. The apparent detachment of the long-take style is deceptive. In fact, the films’ scenarios are rigorously worked out to express moral quandaries with concern for those on the receiving end. The ostensible real time of the long take is easily distended by exigent circumstances; the decision not to cut gives a taste of the agony, powerlessness, and tension that meet the characters. Indeed, the observational camera is an insinuation, drawing us into the complex ethical mechanics at the level of action and plot. They induce the presence of mind required to dislodge a nasty splinter. It’s difficult to imagine an American documentary taking on health care with an unblinking intransigence on par with Lazarescu, and this, more than the formal style, accounts for critics using the language of ethics and truth to describe the film.

By positioning individual characters at the margins of a centralized bureaucracy, the Romanian films certainly do illuminate untruths. Several of the broad shorts in the new omnibus film, Tales from the Golden Age, threaten to turn the gnomic quality of the Romanian films into shtick, but in the context of the PFA series, these “urban legends from the Ceausescu era” put a gentle historical spin on some of the leitmotifs of the earlier features. The best by far is The Legend of the Air Sellers, a tender 4 Months-meets-John Hughes film in which a teenage girl joins up with a scruffy older guy for a decidedly low-tech scam: they take bottles from local residents under the premises of collecting water and air samples for the state and then redeem the glass for change. The con is revealing of a central paradox of the period: that citizens could be frustrated by the state of things while at the same time credulous that the state would fix them. The girl is a natural capitalist, farming out bottle collecting to unwitting landlords; the boy, for his part, only really wants to watch VHS tapes on a prized video player.

Harun Farocki and Andrei Ujica’s found footage essay-film, Videograms of a Revolution (1992), is the outlier of the series both in terms of age and form, but in its methodical analysis of the Romanian Revolution of 1989 as a paradigmatic modern event, the film draws very close to the social relevance of the recent Romanian films — much closer than the nostalgia-tinged episodes of Tales from the Golden Age. Two sequences in Videograms loom large for the Romanian films in the PFA series. In the first, Ujica’s voice-over identifies an initial spark for the revolution in a moment of intercessional static, when an official camera trained upon Ceausescu’s scripted reality pans to observe a disturbance in the crowd, “more out of curiosity than resolve.” Then there are those bundled shots depicting newly victorious revolutionaries dug in at the political headquarters and TV station (an important location for Police, Adjective director Corneliu Poumboiu’s 2006 film, 12:08 East of Bucharest). Attempting to forge their initial reforms, they flail at the deeply ingrained restraints of institutional language.

Toward the end of Videograms, we watch dramatic embedded footage of ragtag revolutionaries and other civilians taking cover from sniper fire coming from one of the oppressive high-rise buildings that play such a prominent part in the Romanian cinematic imagination. Ujica’s voice-over takes analytical measure of the scene: that the belief in an enemy is a binding legacy, a “recollected habit,” and that the unspoken fear so long deployed by Ceausescu’s regime as “internal tactic of deterrence” will not simply vanish. The new Romanian cinema was surely born in the shadows of this phantom fighting.

TALES FROM THE GOLDEN AGE: RECENT ROMANIAN CINEMA

June 11–June 27, $5.50–$9.50

Pacific Film Archive

2757 Bancroft, Berk.

(510) 642-5249

www.bampfa.berkeley.edu

Mama Drama

0

FILM The unusually high proportion of non-native San Franciscans not only underlines our living in a “destination” city, but also suggests that many of us were eager to leave something behind. Certainly it’s no accident The Full Picture’s fraternal protagonists both chose to live here. Yes, it’s a lovely place. It also happens to be 3,000 insulating miles from where they were raised, and where the dragon still dwells.

Unfortunately, she can fly: sensible heels clacking militaristically across airport tarmac first clue us to the personality of monster-mother Gretchen Foster (Bettina Devin), who sweetly announces she’s off to visit “my boys” in SF, then breathes fire when that charm fails to secure a first class upgrade. Clearly it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Jon Bowden’s first feature is based on his original play, and this screen incarnation doesn’t entirely leave the whiff of stagecraft behind. It’s smart, fluid, funny, and biting, as well as a nice addition to the roster of movies that really do convey something about living here.

Braced in fighting stance for mom’s arrival is Hal (Joshua Hutchinson). He’s got a wife named Beth (Heather Mathieson), a toddler, a compulsive wandering eye, and one very jaundiced view of Gretchen’s alleged victimized past and ditto good intentions.

On the other hand, Mark (Daron Jennings) always backed up ma’s side of the story. He sports the terrified geniality of someone who’s long kept the peace by living a lie that might explode at any moment. Live-in girlfriend Erika (Lizzie Ross) is everything mom is not: supportive, truthful, transparent. But the feelings he’s repressed leak out in martial commitment skittishness, not to mention an inability to prepare anxiety attack-prone Erika for the weekend boot camp of subtle evisceration she’s about to receive from her brand-new worst frenemy.

That weekend works through a minigolf obstacle course of logistical meal disasters, temporary sightseeing balm, withering “compliments,” ugly spousal conflict, and climactic reveals about dad’s long-ago departure. Through it all, Gretchen’s frosted Nancy Reagan coif remains as rigid as her revisionist family history. But the emotions she stirs up — not without backlash — grow very messy indeed.

The Full Picture is a small picture, but it would be a shame to let its genuine satisfactions pass you by. As writer, director, and producer, Bowden turns economy into crafty virtues, and his actors are inspired. Nothing here is wildly original, yet it feels fresh — especially the way so much nervous comedy leads to screaming catharsis, only to land on a slightly zen grace note. 

The Full Picture opens Fri/11 at the Roxie.

Ruchi

1

paulr@sfbg.com

DINE The boomlet in south Indian cuisine that began a few years ago with the opening of Dosa has now given us Ruchi — and meanwhile Dosa itself is on the march, having toted its dosas from the Mission uphill to Pacific Heights. Ruchi, like Dosa, offers dosas — pan-fried disks made from rice and lentils — but the two restaurants’ dosa styles are quite dissimilar, about which more presently.

Ruchi opened about six months ago on a stretch of Third Street in SoMa that, like so many stretches of so many streets in SoMa, is flooded with speeding traffic. The automotive torrent is certainly a hazard and almost certainly a disadvantage; (the original) Dosa, by contrast, occupies the old Val 21 space at Valencia and 21st Streets, with tons of pedestrians and a big public parking garage around the corner.

But Ruchi’s location does have its advantages. What was once an industrial neighborhood, largely empty at night, is increasingly residential, with new housing developments popping up right and left. There is even — almost — a quaint village feel to Ruchi’s block of Third. Across the way is a nice Italian restaurant, La Briciola, and if you were to wave at its patrons, it might be a little like waving at your fellow villagers across a placid creek, once a mere trickle through your settlement, that abruptly somehow became a whitewater. Still, they could see you and they might wave back.

Inside, Ruchi is a tasteful, muted modern, in earth tones. Just past the door is a length of slatted fence that looks like something to keep Spot the dog penned up in the kitchen instead of letting him run around peeing on every rug in the house. On the one hand the design is a little generic, but on the other it stands patiently in the background while the food steps up to be noticed. Our server one evening described south Indian cooking to us as “aromatic,” which for me helped explain the wonderful, pungent presence of fresh ginger in so many of the dishes.

Ginger, when combined with garlic and scallions, is strongly redolent of the wok cuisines, and whether or not Ruchi’s greens pullakoora ($8), a spicy spinach dish, was cooked in a wok, it had the sharp freshness of stir-fried vegetables you might find in a Chinese or Vietnamese restaurant.

The utappam dosa ($8), a house favorite according to the menu, surely hadn’t been cooked in a wok, but it did carry a strong charge of ginger, along with scallion and green chili. If you are used to Dosa’s dosas — thin, crisp, and folded in half — then you might find Ruchi’s version, which resembles a slightly spongy pizza scattered with toppings, unexpected. We were told to cut it up like a pizza, and we did, satisfyingly.

South Indian cooking might indeed be aromatic rather than spicy, but Ruchi’s menu doesn’t lack for spicy items. The mirchi bajji ($5), in particular — serrano peppers coated in chickpea batter and fried to look like little corn dogs — is as blazing a dish as I’ve ever had. Although I like spicy food, I could only eat two before the heat, building slowly but inexorably, forced me to pull off the road with steam billowing from under the hood.

Chili overheating, like influenza, is an affliction that just has to play itself out, and there isn’t much you can do except be patient. Sips of water and beer offered moments of respite, but I had higher hopes for the yogurt sauce surrounding the lentil patties in a dish called dahi vada ($6), until we recognized that there was chili heat lurking in the apparently cool, creamy, wintry yogurt. When the water gushing from your fire hose turns out to be gasoline, you experience a setback.

Kebabs of chicken tikka ($9) — boneless cubes of a rather orange hue, like tandoori chicken — were expertly seasoned and wonderfully plump and tender. But a kachoomar salad ($5), though a colorful jumble of diced onions, cucumber, tomatoes, and cilantro, was a little too salty despite the advertised (and presumably acidic) lemon vinaigrette. The saltiness came from what seemed to me like fish sauce — another hint of southeast Asia.

And, for the second week in a row, a winning dessert makes an improbable appearance. I’ve had plenty of kulfi (a kind of ice cream) before and never been particularly wowed. But Ruchi’s pistachio version ($5), though possibly the least colorful item on the menu (it looked like a bit of ice floe), gave intense pleasure both as flavor and texture, the latter a fudgy denseness with the faintest hint of granularity. Housemade, too; accept no substitute.

RUCHI

Lunch: Mon.–Sat., 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.

Dinner: Mon.–Sat., 5–9 p.m.

474 Third St., SF

(415) 392-8353

www.ruchisf.com

Beer and wine

AE/MC/V

Not noisy

Wheelchair accessible

 

Whirl trade center

0

arts@sfbg.com

VISUAL ART In 2005, then-struggling Atlanta artist Fahamu Pecou presented “Arts, Beats and Lyrics” at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art. The oversize paintings were blinged-out-mack-daddy-baller self-portraits showing the artist on the covers of well-known and respected magazines. Within two years, his work had been reviewed and featured in numerous publications, including Art In America, Harper’s, NY Arts, Mass Appeal, and The Fader. The sheer voodoo of this act makes Pecou a formidable creative force, and coupled with his knack for spectacle, his opening at Shooting Gallery this month is rumored to be the most vainglorious of the season. I caught up with him recently on the phone.

SFBG I’m amazed by your earlier work because it seems to me that you used sympathetic magic to approach fame. You placed yourself within the context of celebrity and became a celebrity. Was that your original intention?

Fahamu Pecou It’s funny. It was kind of like the law of attraction. You can write your own narrative by believing in the messages you put out. I started doing this marketing campaign because I was frustrated with the way my career was going at the time. I really just wanted to get my name out there. Just my name. I wanted to make sure that when my name came across the desk of curator or gallery owner, they’d say, “I’ve seen this name before, maybe I should learn more about this person.” It was really sort of a joke. As it started to grow and people began to talk about it, it took on a life of its own.

SFBG Did you anticipate that it would go beyond Atlanta and become international?

FP No. It was just a clever, catchy inside joke among me and my friends. The minute I started putting out stickers and posters that said “Fahamu Pecou Is The Shit,” it was a hit. People were jumping on it. It was good that it happened that way because it allowed me to grow with it. Whether I can directly relate it to a specific style, I’ll leave that for people to write about.

SFBG Why did you call your latest show “Whirl Trade”?

FP The theme came from the idea of cultural exchanges between Africans on the continent of Africa and the rest of the African diaspora around the world, and how a lot can be lost and misconstrued when taken out of the original cultural context. We look back and forth at each other, and we do what we think is our best impression of “the other.” It comes out a twisted up and strange simulation.

I was in South Africa for residency on the Eastern Cape and spent some time in Capetown. I had a friend from Detroit with me, and a few friends from Capetown. We were coming out a restaurant and this homeless guy heard me and my homeboy talking. He said, “You guys are from America? You guys are the real niggas.”

We were both like, “Naw man, we aren’t niggers, we’re brothers.” And he said, “No. No, you guys are niggas, and I want to be a nigga too.” He was going on and on about how being a nigga was a good thing, not like these guys who come in from Nigeria and other places thinking they’re real niggas. We were the real deal. And here we are, trying to explain to him how being a nigga is not a good thing. Nobody wants to be a nigga. My Capetown friends were telling me that being a nigga is not a bad thing anymore. I started wondering, where did this come from? That’s what “Whirl Trade” is about: the cultural export of hip-hop culture and the impact it has on the rest of the world. We have this great stage, this platform, where we have the ear of the world. What are we saying? A lot of what’s being said and heard is a lot of nothing, especially when taken out of cultural context.

The response has been great and has sparked a lot of conversation around how we view ourselves and each other. What kind of impression we are making of ourselves to other cultures and, deeper still, what kind of impression do I have about African culture through this same context and my own experience? I couldn’t ask one question without asking the other. I try to be cautious about this in my work. I’m not trying to accuse or ridicule any group so much as begin to ask questions and start a dialogue between groups who think they know each other but don’t.

SFBG You do performances at your gallery shows. Costumes and everything. How does fashion play into your work?

FP In the beginning, it was more about capturing fashion that reflected a whole lifestyle. I patterned it after 50 Cent, who was the catalyst for my whole campaign. I was watching how he was packaged and wondering why a visual artist was never marketed that way. My whole fashion was based on that and Puff Daddy. Then I added my own touches with ascots and blazers and stuff like that.

With “Whirl Trade,” I’m looking at contemporary African fashion. Right now, African street fashion is a mashup of textiles and patterns, colors that almost seem disparate but come together beautifully. That and photographs of Malik Sadibe inspired me to bring in many different patterns and contrasts. It wasn’t that I was trying to copy a style as much as capture the cultural exchange between what Africans think African Americans dress like, and what African Americans think Africans dress like.

SFBG Though you reference hip-hop, I don’t really see you as a hip-hop artist. I sense a cynicism in your approach. Are you disillusioned with hip-hop?

FP I just found myself not so connected to what was being presented in early 2000s. A lot of media-made hip-hop stars came out. It stopped being so much about talent as it was marketing. It became about who was willing to come out and say they sold these drugs or did this killing. At one point that was legitimate, rappers came from the street, but then came these media guys who just said that shit to be famous, just for credibility and that’s what started hurting the integrity of the form.

It stopped being how fresh, how clever or how innovative an artist could be. It became how violent, how misogynistic, how violent a person could be. Extremes of everything — people ended being blaxploitation characters.

I’m talking about that in my next work, called “Hard To Death” — about the evolution of black manhood, and how there’s a lack of visual representation of that evolution beyond a certain point. Most of the images we see are reflections of hip-hop culture, which captures the black male between the ages of 18-25, just when many young men are working things out. It has become one of the only representations of black masculinity, which is very frustrating. My next piece is devoted to accurately portraying the evolution of black men. I’m seeing more established artists like Common and Jay-Z who have grown beyond that dangerous time.

Since my son was born, I’ve been really driven to addressing these issues around black masculinity and black manhood. I feel a sense of responsibility there because my work crosses the lines between popular culture and hip-hop culture, and I see that there’s a lack of responsible voices. My voice can work as a catalyst to start a conversation. I started a blog (passageofright.wordpress.com) to begin talking about creating systems for some kinds of rites of passage for young black boys. I didn’t grow up with a father or a whole lot of role models, so most of what I’ve learned about being a man is from the school of hard knocks. I want to prevent the continuation of that kind of awakening.

WHIRL TRADE: NEW WORKS BY FAHAMU PECOU

Reception Sat/12, 7–11 p.m.;

Through July 3

Shooting Gallery

839 Larkin, SF

(415) 931-1500

www.shootinggallerysf.com

www.fahamupecouart.com

Road rules

0

caitlin@sfbg.com

CULTURE Dear cars: I’m only doing my part to keep the air clean, and I promise you, I’m trying to stay in my lane when I have one. I’m looking as cute as I can astraddle my fly new ride, puffing up hills for health. Alas, your intermittent, unwarranted honk is a sorry companion to my bike high. “Get a car!” is a bummer too. Bicyclists sure enough have to put up with some shit.

Which is why we’re glad to have Eben Weiss, New York City’s outspoken Bike Snob. He’s won raves among the two-wheeled for his blog (www.bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com), which pointedly voices the frustrations of the biking masses. Sure, Weiss is opinionated — don’t get him started on brakeless bikes for civilian use — but in our recent phone interview, he articulated his ideas about transportation with an aplomb and wit I seldom hear elsewhere.

And by gosh, it’s only right he follow grand blogging tradition and put out a book. My chat with Weiss coincided with the start of his tour to promote Bike Snob: Systematically and Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling — he hits San Francisco Thursday, June 17 — a project that compelled him to shed the cloak of anonymity under which he had blogged for years. (Turns out he’s a looker.)

Right off the bat he told me, “There’s no such thing as ‘bike culture.'” Them’s fightin’ words in SF, which reveres the idea of a biking class that generates its own social mores, political convictions, and tasty microbrews. “As far as I’m concerned, I like to ride. So my ‘common cause’ is just to be happy. You have a lot of different kinds of cyclists. They do it for fitness, they’re into the environment … It’s like anything else: a lot of people doing a lot of things for a lot of reasons.”

Weiss is of the opinion that terms like “bike culture” have been used by the cycling industry to sell us things, a ploy that leads to the type of fashion victimology so snarkily snapped and captioned on his blog. “A decent bike and a good lock,” Weiss says. “And that’s really all you need. I think part of the reason the cycling media can drive you a little bit crazy is that there’s such an emphasis on equipment. You can spend hundreds or thousands on cycling-specific sneakers, on a bike that looks a certain way. I recommend that you get a bike, any bike. Spend as little money as possible — just you and the bike, that’s it.”

It’s refreshing advice, the kind you don’t usually hear from people who have been city-biking as long as Weiss has. I also asked him about traffic laws — he’s questioned their relevance to biking in the past. Do we obey the stop signs, Bike Snob?

“I think it’s important to remember that breaking a rule because it really doesn’t apply to you is different than breaking a rule because it’s exciting,” he tells me. “Anything that involves stopping is good. People who ride bikes think putting your foot down is an admission of defeat. I think they need to get over that. You have to be nice to pedestrians. You have to treat others with the same respect you want motorists to treat you with. Not riding on sidewalks is a good rule.”

Indeed. He’s also got words for nonbikers that they would do well to heed. Avoid referring to your cyclists friends as “Lance Armstrong,” groping on their top tubes without permission, and asking them whether they’re impotent.

And for God’s sake, quit asking if bike accident victims were wearing a helmet. Weiss, in the traffic safety chapter of his book entitled “Why is Everyone Trying to Kill Me?” has gone on record about his neutrality regarding society’s “all helmet, all the time” insistence, calling it something of a misguided fixation. This is not the politically correct line to walk for a bike activist. He’s caught flack for being seen at road races lacking the proper headgear.

But unlike other prominent figures in the bike world who rally fellow cyclists under one flag or another, Weiss doesn’t consider himself an activist so much as a curmudgeon. (Albeit a curmudgeon with a hot blog, a new book, and a heady slew of good ideas.) His popularity may be a result of his non-hectoring, yet still bitingly impish, attitude — an attitude that, whether he likes it or not, jibes well with the current bike culture. Ride on, Bike Snob, we’ll be reading.

BIKE SNOB BOOK SIGNING

Thurs/17 6:30–8 p.m., free

Sports Basement

1590 Bryant, SF

(415) 575-3000

www.chroniclebooks.com/bikesnob

Cutting from the bottom

7

By Alex Emslie

news@sfbg.com

When Mayor Gavin Newsom unveiled his proposed city budget on June 1, he downplayed the severity of cuts to the city’s Department of Public Health, noting that they amounted to less than 2 percent. But if Newsom’s uneven program chopping becomes a reality, critical social services for some of San Francisco’s poorest and most vulnerable residents will be cut by almost one-third.

The DPH was able to shrink its budget by nearly $31 million, according to a budget proposal currently before the Board of Supervisors, in part by slashing community nonprofit clinics providing outpatient mental health services to some of San Francisco’s most difficult to treat mental health cases.

“It’s very possible you could see more people who are homeless, people who are homeless not getting as much care — they’ll be sicker,” said Dr. Eric Woodard, medical director of psychiatric emergency services at San Francisco General Hospital. “And you could reasonably expect more deaths on the street to occur.”

State and federal matching funding to the DPH dwarfs the amount of money the department receives from the city. What isn’t spelled out in Newsom’s budget is that every dollar cut by the city results in more than another dollar lost in federal funding for social services.

The DPH proposed a nearly 9 percent cut to outpatient community-based health services, and an 11 percent cut to residential inpatient services to meet the mayor’s request that all city departments submit a 30 percent budget reduction to his office. Newsom reversed the proposed cuts to residential services but kept the outpatient cuts.

“I believe in the efficacy of residential [treatment],” Newsom said during his budget unveiling. “I believe there are a lot of question marks around outpatient drug treatment.”

But the cuts affect more than just outpatient drug treatment. While many of the clinics that were cut focus on treating mental illnesses, they are funded through the DPH category that includes substance abuse treatment. Newsom’s office declined to answer our inquiries about the reasons for and implications of his cuts, referring us to DPH.

Walden House CEO Vitka Eisen, whose organization serves people suffering from mental illness and substance abuse in inpatient and outpatient clinics, said she was relieved that residential funding was added back. However, she is concerned about the proposed $4.1 million cut spread across several nonprofit outpatient services.

“There’s a very large cut to outpatient services citywide, and that’s obviously problematic because outpatient services are an important part of our system of care in the city,” she told the Guardian. “You can’t really cut one or the other.”

DPH Community Behavioral Health Services Director Dr. Robert Cabaj is hoping the Board of Supervisors will restore some of the cuts to outpatient clinics. “Unfortunately, they [the Mayor’s Office] left these in,” he told the Guardian. “I’m not sure why — I’m not sure what the mayor was thinking at the time.”

Citywide Case Management and Community Focus, an outpatient clinic serving some of San Francisco’s most severely mentally ill, is one of the hardest hit nonprofit clinics in the mayor’s proposed budget. The agency will lose $1.22 in federal funding for every $1 cut from the city, division director Dr. David Fariello said.

That’s how its 15 percent, $1.3 million cut proposed by the DPH and accepted by the mayor, ballooned into a 33 percent, $2.8 million loss for one of the city’s most comprehensive and best-performing community behavioral health services.

Citywide, at 982 Mission St., boasts the facilities, network, and location to serve one of San Francisco’s most vulnerable populations. The typical Citywide client suffers from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, or severe depression. They are likely homeless, grappling with substance abuse, and many have posttraumatic stress disorder.

Citywide employees, doctors, and administrators, as well as physicians from outside the clinic, speculate that cutting outpatient mental health services in a city with one of the highest per capita populations of mentally ill homeless people will ultimately cost the city more money than it saves now. Use of expensive city services like psychiatric emergency rooms, jails, police, and ambulance could all rise.

“Frankly, a lot of these budget cuts do not seem to be very well thought out in terms of what the real cost is going to be,” Woodard said. “If you look into the not very distant future, you’re going to incur costs that are probably much greater than your savings were initially by making the cuts.”

Cabaj said that past funding cuts haven’t resulted in higher use of psychiatric emergency services because the DPH prioritizes funding for the most severe cases and screens for those who could possibly be moved into cheaper services. Citywide clients are consistently high users of San Francisco General Hospital acute inpatient psychiatric care, at an average cost to the city of $1,200 per patient, per day, if they don’t have insurance or Medical benefits.

Many end up in costly in-patient psychiatric care facilities or are arrested and land in the city’s Behavioral Health Court, which hears cases in which defendants have been diagnosed with a mental illness that is suspected of being a factor in their crime. More than 70 percent of the Behavioral Health Court’s mandated treatment slots are at Citywide.

“We can manage behaviors that get people thrown out of every other clinic in the city,” Fariello said. “Where is that capacity going to be picked up? These are not clients who, if they don’t get treatment, maybe their doctor will give them some medicine and it’ll be OK. These are clients who are going to continue to be high users unless we intervene.”

Citywide figures show a 40 percent decrease in violent reoffenses for clients referred to their clinic from the Behavioral Health Court. Nearly three-quarters who were homeless are able to maintain housing, and more than 25 percent of clients who were frequent users of inpatient psychiatric services have stayed out of the hospital.

“Citywide really is one of the best,” said Woodard, who works with Citywide’s Linkage Team to stabilize patients from SFGH’s psychiatric emergency room. “They provide excellent care for these really fragile, very ill patients. I would say of the community programs, they’re really at the top of the list.”

Fariello estimates having to reduce the 1,035 clients receiving treatment at his clinic by 400 if the cuts are finalized. He may have to scale back some of his clinic’s innovative and successful categories of service — such as employment support and dialectical behavioral therapy, a highly specialized form of therapy with proven success in treating borderline personality disorder. Citywide has the largest DBT team in San Francisco.

Citywide administrators are baffled by DPH’s decision-making process, given that it serves the city’s sickest, poorest, and homeless — characteristics that should have reduced its cuts, according to the department’s priorities outlined in its budget reduction proposal.

Since founding the agency nearly 30 years ago, Fariello has worked with the city to implement innovative techniques in treating San Francisco’s highest users of expensive psychiatric emergency services. And it has been consistently successful. In a review last year of 15 similar programs conducted by the DPH, Citywide received an average 92.1 out of 100, the highest score. It scored a 4.0 out of 4.0 on another recent program review.

Several divisions within Citywide contribute to its inclusive approach to mental health services. Citywide’s forensics program works exclusively with clients involved in the criminal justice system. Community Focus provides culturally sensitive therapy in several languages. The Linkage Team stabilizes emergency psychiatric patients from SFGH.

Employment support for Citywide clients helps them get and retain jobs, emblematic of the entire agency’s goal of treating clients as complete people, not just mental health patients. “What we’ve found out is that people who have an investment in purposeful activity have an investment in getting better,” Fariello said. “A lot of clients have a notion that their career is being a mental health client. What we’re trying to do is change that.”

Citywide supported employment services supervisor Greg Jarasitis told a story of one client who said she liked her job as a bookkeeper because while she was at work she felt like a “normy,” then added: “These are people who have been marginalized for so long.” *

Get involved: The Board of Supervisors holds a public comment hearing on the deep proposed health cuts, as state law requires, June 15 at 3 p.m. in Board Chambers at City Hall. The board’s Budget and Finance Committee departmental hearings for the DPH are scheduled for June 21 and June 28.

Another bloody budget

6

rebeccab@sfbg.com

In the days since June 1, when Mayor Gavin Newsom unveiled his proposal for San Francisco’s $6.48 billion budget for the next fiscal year, public sector employees and community organizations have been poring over the hefty document to determine how their jobs, services, and programs survived cuts made to close a $483 million shortfall.

For police and firefighters, a key Newsom constituency, the news is good. There were no layoffs to San Francisco firefighters, and while members of the Police Officer’s Association gave up $9.3 million in wage concessions under the lucrative contract Newsom gave them a few years ago, police officers will still receive a 4 percent wage increase on July 1.

For others, the release of the mayor’s budget signified a tough fight looming before the Board of Supervisors, one with high stakes. Cuts to homeless services, mental health care, youth programs, and housing assistance, along with privatization proposals, have raised widespread concern among labor and liberal advocacy organizations. Public input on the budget will continue at the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee until July 15, when the amended document is considered by the full board.

At a June 1 announcement ceremony, Newsom asserted that the budget was balanced “without draconian cuts,” saying, “We were able to avoid the kind of cataclysmic devastation that some had argued was inevitable in this budget.”

Nearly a week later, Board President David Chiu told the Guardian that sort of cataclysm wouldn’t be staved off for long if the city continues on the course of repeatedly making deep budget cuts without proposing any significant new sources of revenue.

“Now that the smoke has cleared, it is clear that the mayor’s proposed budget is perfect for a mayor who is only going to be around for the short term, but it does not address the long-term fiscal crisis that our city is in,” Chiu said. “Next year, we’re looking at over a $700 million budget deficit. The year after that, we’re looking at almost an $800 million budget deficit. The budget proposal that Newsom put out balances the … deficit on many one-time tricks and assumptions of uncertain revenue.”

Meanwhile, advocates said even the cuts proposed this time would bring serious consequences, especially with unemployment on the rise, state programs being cut in Sacramento, and families feeling the pinch more than ever.

“Poor and working class families, and families of color in San Francisco, are facing kind of an assault on funding and on safety net services on multiple levels,” said Chelsea Boilard, family policy and communications associate for Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth. “I think a lot of it is that families are concerned about their ability to stay in the city and raise their kids here.”

 

“NO NEW TAXES”

During the budget announcement, Newsom emphasized the positive. He found $12 million in new revenue simply by closing a loophole that had allowed Internet-based companies to avoid paying that amount in hotel taxes. He said 350 currently occupied positions would be cut, but noted that it was less than a cap of 425 that public sector unions had agreed to. Cuts were inevitable since the ailing economy inflicted the city’s General Fund with significant losses, particularly from business and property tax revenues.

Nonetheless, Newsom’s budget is already coming under fire from progressive leaders. For one, there are no new revenue-generating measures in the form of general taxes, which could have averted the worst blows to critical safety-net services and might help remedy the city’s economic woes in the long-term.

“There are no new taxes in this budget,” Newsom declared. “I know some folks just prefer tax increases. I don’t.”

Yet Chiu said many of Newsom’s assumptions for revenue were on shaky ground, prompting City Controller Ben Rosenfield — Newsom’s former budget director — to place $142 million on reserve in case the projected revenues don’t pan out.

“These budget deficits continue as far as the eye can see,” Chiu noted. “Even if those amounts come in, something like 90 percent of them are one-time fixes. So even if the mayor is right, it doesn’t solve next year’s problem, or the year after. Which is why many of us at the board believe that we have to consider additional revenue proposals to think about the long-term fiscal health of the city.”

Sup. John Avalos, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, described Newsom’s budget as “pretty much an all-cuts budget,” noting that he and Chiu planned to introduce revenue-generating measures. They were expected to introduce proposals — including an increase in the hotel tax and a change in the business tax — at the June 8 board meeting.

Because despite Newsom’s rosy assessment, many of his proposed cuts are deep and painful: the Recreation and Park Department would be cut by 42 percent (with its capital projects budget slashed by 90 percent), Economic and Workforce Development by 34 percent, Ethics Commission by 23 percent (basically eliminating public financing for candidates), Department of the Environment by 14 percent, Emergency Management by 10 percent, and the list goes on.

 

CUTS TO SOCIAL SERVICES

Progressives say Newsom’s budget reflects skewed priorities. While relatively little is asked of public safety departments, health and human services programs face major staffing and funding losses. “Poor people are being asked to shoulder the burden,” noted Jennifer Friedenbach, director of the Coalition on Homelessness.

Nearly $31 million would be slashed from the Department of Public Health, and more than $22 million would be cut from the Human Services Agency under Newsom’s proposed budget. While this reflects only 2–3 percent of the departmental budgets, there’s widespread concern that the cuts target programs designed to shield the most vulnerable residents.

Proposals that deal with housing are of special concern. “We have more and more families moving into SRO hotel rooms. We have families in garages. We have a really scary situation for many families,” Friedenbach said.

Affordable housing programs within the Mayor’s Office of Housing would get slashed from $16.8 million currently down to just $1.2 million, a 92 percent cut. Other cuts seem small, but will have big impacts of those affected. Newsom’s budget eliminates 42 housing subsidies, which boost rent payments for families on the brink of homelessness, for a savings of $264,000. Meanwhile, a locally funded program that subsidizes housing costs for people with AIDS would be cut, for a savings of $559,000.

Transitional housing would be affected, too, such as 59 beds at a homeless shelter on Otis Street, which Friedenbach says would be lost under Newsom’s budget proposal. “We’ve already lost more than 400 shelter beds since Newsom came to office, so that’d be a huge hit,” she said. Since the recession began, she added, the wait-list at shelters has tripled. The Ark House, a temporary housing facility that serves LGBT youth, would also be closed.

Overall, homeless services delivered by HSA would take a $12 million hit in Newsom’s budget, or about 13 percent, offset slightly by homeless services being increased by $2 million within the Mayor’s Office budget, a 71 percent increase.

Outpatient mental health services, such as Community Behavioral Health Services, would also be affected (See “Cutting from the bottom”), in violation of current city law. Several years ago, then-Sup. Tom Ammiano introduced legislation establishing a “single standard of care” to guarantee access to mental health services for indigent and uninsured residents.

“If timely, effective, and coordinated mental health treatment is not provided to indigent and uninsured residents who are not seriously mentally ill, those residents are at risk of becoming seriously mentally ill and hence requiring more expensive and comprehensive mental health care from San Francisco,” according to the ordinance, which was passed in June of 2005. Newsom’s budget proposes changing this legislation to enable cuts to those services, which would result in 1,600 people losing treatment, according to Friedenbach.

Unfortunately, advocates for the poor has gotten used to this ritual of trying to restore cuts made by Newsom. “There are some sacred cows that seem to survive year after year, and then we’re left fighting over what we can get,” said Randy Shaw, executive director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic (THC).

The Central City SRO Collaborative, which supports tenants living in single-room occupancy hotels in the mid-Market Street area and is operated through THC, is slated to be cut by 40 percent along with three other similar programs — a replay from last year when the mayor proposed eliminating funding and the Board of Supervisors restored the cut.

“I think you’d see more fires, more people dying from overdoses. You’d see really bad conditions,” Jeff Buckley, director of the program, told us of the potential consequences of eliminating the inspections and resident training that is part of the program.

Funding was also eliminated for THC’s Ellis Eviction Defense Program, the city’s only free legal defense program with capacity to serve 55 low-income tenants facing eviction under the Ellis Act.

 

THREAT TO RENTERS

One of the most controversial proposals to emerge from Newsom’s budget is a way for property owners and real estate speculators to buy their way out of the city lottery that limits conversion of rental properties and tenants-in-common (TICs) to privately-owned condos if they pay between $4,000 and $20,000 (depending on how long they have waited for conversion), a proposal to raise about $8 million for the city.

“I went back and forth because I know the Board of Supervisors can’t stand this,” Newsom said as he broached the subject at the June 1 announcement. “I still don’t get this argument completely. Except it’s a big-time ideological discussion. It’s so darn ideological that I think it gets in the way of having a real discussion.”

Yet Ted Gullicksen, director of the San Francisco Tenants Union, said the argument is quite clear: making it easier to convert rental units into condos will accelerate the loss of rental housing in a city where two-thirds of residents are tenants, in the process encouraging real estate speculation and evictions.

“It will encourage TIC conversions and evictions because it makes the road to converting TICs to condos that much easier,” Gullicksen said. “It’s going to be a huge gift to real estate speculators.”

Newsom press secretary Tony Winnicker disputes that impact, saying that “these units were going to convert anyway, whether next year or six years. This merely accelerates that conversion without altering the lottery to protect jobs and services.”

But Gullicksen said the proposal obviously undermines the lottery system, which is the only tool tenant advocates have to preserve the finite supply of rent-controlled apartments, noting that even if the condos are later rented out, they will no longer to subject to rent control. That’s one reason why the Board of Supervisors has repeatedly rejected this idea, and why Newsom probably knows they will do so again.

Avalos said he and other progressive supervisors will oppose the proposal, despite the difficulties that will create in balancing the budget. “It’s kind of like putting a gun to our heads,” Avalos said of Newsom’s inclusion of that revenue in his budget.

To offset that revenue loss, Avalos has proposed a tax on alcohol sold in bars and Gullicksen is proposing the city legalize illegal housing units that are in habitable condition for property owners willing to pay an amnesty fee.

Some housing advocates were also struck by the timing of proposing condo conversion fees while also eliminating the Ellis Eviction Defense Program. “We’re really the only ones doing this,” Shaw noted. He said the program is crucial because it serves low-income tenants, many of whom are monolingual Chinese or Spanish speakers who lack the ability to pay for private attorneys to resist aggressive landlords.

 

PRIVATIZATION PROPOSALS RETURN

The Department of Children, Youth. and Families budget would be reduced by 20 percent under Newsom’s budget, with the greatest cuts affecting after school and youth leadership programs. Roughly a $3 million cut will result in the loss of around 300 subsidized slots for after school programs, said Boilard of Coleman Youth Advocates. Another $3 million is expected to come out of violence-prevention programs for troubled youth; an additional $1 million would affect youth jobs programs.

Patricia Davis, a Child Protective Services employee who lives in the Mission District with her two teenage sons, said she was concerned about the implications for losses to youth programs, particularly during the summer. “You can imagine what’s going to happen this summer,” she said. “I feel that a lot of kids are going to do a lot of things that they have no business doing.”

Davis, who says she’ll have to look for a new job come Sept. 30 because the federal stimulus package funding that supports her position will run out, said she was not happy to hear that police officers would be getting raises just as that summer school programs are being threatened with closure. “Couldn’t the 4 percent [raise] go somewhere else — like to the children?” she wondered.

Meanwhile, privatization proposals are causing anxiety for SEIU Local 1021 members, who recently gave millions in wage concessions and furloughs along with other public employees to help balance the budget. A proposal to contract out for jail health services cropped up last year and was shot down by the board, but it’s back again.

“When you make it a for-profit enterprise, the bottom line is the profit. It’s not about the health care,” SEIU Local 1021 organizer Gabriel Haaland told us. “It isn’t the same quality of care.”

Haaland said he believes the mayor’s assumption that the proposal could save $13 million should be closely examined. Other privatization schemes would contract out for security at city museums and hospitals.

Institutional police in the mental health ward at SF General Hospital and other sensitive facilities are well trained and experienced with difficult situations so, Haaland said, “the workers feel a lot safer” than they would with private contractors.

Regarding Newsom’s privatization proposal, Avalos said the board was “opposed last year and the year before, and we’ll oppose [them] this year.”

In the coming weeks, Avalos and other members of the Budget and Finance Committee will carefully go over Newsom’s proposed budget — which is now being sized up by Budget Analyst Harvey Rose’s office — and solicit input from the public. Chances are, they’ll get an earful.

“People are scared. They are scared to death right now,” Boilard said. “As it is, people’s hours are being reduced. And it’s getting harder and harder to find a job because so many people are out of work that the level of competition has gotten really fierce. This is the time that we need to invest in safety net services for young people and families more than ever — and all those services and programs and relationships that people depend on are disappearing.”

Steven T. Jones and Kaitlyn Paris contributed to this report.