Volume 44 Number 38

Appetite: More intriguing June openings


It’s been an exhausting, thrilling whirl of new openings this month (check out last week’s Appetite). As usual, I hit most new SF openings right away, then continue to revisit as they settle in (if they are worth revisiting, which is often the case). Here’s an initial take on more recent openings. For further details, check out my upcoming July 1st issue of The Perfect Spot)

SKOOL – On a sunny, Potrero Hill afternoon during Skool’s (soft) opening week, June 21, I wandered over to this new fish haven run by husband and wife duos, Toshihoro and Hiroko Nagano (of my beloved Bushi Tei) and Andy and Olia Mirabell (of Blowfish Sushi to Die For). The Zen-peace of the patio, enclosed in gorgeous Japanese foliage, is brightened by orange Aperol umbrellas. Inside it’s sleek, Japanese minimalism in the form of warm, brown woods and gentle lighting. I’m already plotting another visit this week and anticipating their addition of dinner once they get their liquor license (lunch only at the moment). They make good sans alcohol with fine teas, Illy coffee and virgin drinks like Teacher’s Pet ($4): apple juice, honey water, topped with ginger foam and a basil leaf. I almost don’t miss a cocktail.There’s hefty “lunch box” sandwiches, like Dungeness crab ($13) tossed in a light mayo with yuzu whole grain mustard, topped with avocado, butter lettuce, tomato, and a poached free range egg; or a Washugyu Sandwich ($15) with coffee-marinated washu-beef, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, caramelized onion, pepper cress and wasabi aioli. Dessert offers a seductively jiggly Lavender Panna Cotta ($6), surprisingly light, delicately drizzled with a honey vanilla bean sauce. I definitely see a Bushi Tei freshness and creativity at work here. And how can you not fall in love with that patio?

1725 Alameda, SF
(415) 255-8800

SPICE KIT — Just opened June 28, this airy, high-ceilinged take-out spot with a few tables inside and out on a patio in the shadow of SoMa high-rises, Spice Kit keeps its menu simple. Choose a ssam (stuffed Korean rice paper wrap), Vietnamese banh mi or salad with five-spice chicken, beef shortrib, roasted pork or seared/braised organic tofu. Sides are simple (crispy lotus chips, grilled pork belly buns), as are drinks (Calamansi Limeade, Vietnamese iced coffee), and prices happily under $8. Spice Kit may not exactly be Momofuku West, but it does have hints of that ethos, opened by two self-proclaimed French-trained Asian guys who cooked at restaurants you may have heard of: The French Laundry and Per Se? I wouldn’t say travel across town for it, but if you work nearby, it’ll most likely be added to your lunch rotation.

405 Howard, SF.
(415) 882-4581


ROAM ARTISAN BURGERS — I’ve tasted through all four burgers at Cow Hollow’s new burger joint, which opened on June 21: grass-fed beef, bison (lean, meaty), turkey, and veggie. All come with various topping choices, whether fried egg or Southwestern veggies, but the veggie burger especially impressed. Veggie burgers never taste like (or replace) meat burgers for me, but this is a unique, veggie sandwich with patties made primarily of quinoa and beets, loaded with avocado. Straus Creamery (http://www.strausfamilycreamery.com) shakes are lush in flavors like Salted Caramel and Matcha Green Tea. Kombucha on tap is refreshingly smooth. But Sweet Potato Fries cooked in maple syrup may have been my favorite item at this casually chic burger lounge.

1785 Union Street
(415) 440-7626

Appetite: Intriguing June openings


It’s been an exhausting, thrilling whirl of new openings in SF this month. And it’s not quite over yet… as usual, I hit most new SF openings right away, then continue to revisit as they settle in (if they are worth revisiting, which is often the case). Here’s a quick, initial take on openings of the past week or two, with more to come next week (for more details, check out my upcoming July 1st issue of The Perfect Spot):

SAISON — Walk through the side gate of Stable Cafe, with unique 1800’s carriage house setting, and enter Saison’s newly remodeled garden, evocative of an Italian or Mediterranean villa patio: white lights strung across the courtyard, lemon tree emitting a soft citrus scent, rocking chair and vintage ashtray stand inviting you to linger with a glass of wine, and wood-burning hearth (which will also be a bread baking oven with mention of whole animal cooking to come)? Entirely transporting.

Chef and owner Joshua Skenes has taken his acclaimed weekly “pop-up” and launched a full, Tuesday through Saturday restaurant, opened June 22.  Cooking on the only Molteni stove in the Bay Area, the 30-seat interior is minimalist, but warm and glowing, with open flow between dining room and kitchen. Prices are hefty for this unusual dining experience, from a one nightly seating, $98 per person/8-course tasting menu, to a four-seat chef’s counter at $200 per person, or a two-seat chef’s table with 20 customized courses at $200 to $500 per person (!) They were very smart to add the casual, enchanting patio to the mix with a la carte options for those not partaking in multi-courses. Something for everyone.


Saison’s garden entrance

At a pre-opening dinner, I sampled possible menu offerings, while Sommelier Mark Bright kept us satiated with wine pairings like affordable 2005 Chateau de Montpezat Coteaux du Languedoc and 2004 Neal Ellis Shiraz. Dishes were delicate, tiny, artistic, and, of course, farm fresh, from hand-picked, local ingredients. Highlights include crispy sweetbreads roasted with caramelized honey and intriguing slant of berbere spicing, as well as a perfect rendition of one of my favorites: rhubarb as a sorbet on milk granite with tart strips of rhubarb decorating the sorbet.
2124 Folsom, SF.


PROSPECT — Nancy Oakes, Kathy King and Pamela Mazzola of Boulevard opened the long-anticipated Prospect restaurant with a stellar crew: Ravi Kapur as chef, Brooke Arthur (long a favorite for her cocktail menu at Range), and Amy Currens as Wine Director (formerly of Luce). You couldn’t ask for a better line-up, with all the elegance of Boulevard but more of an experimental, hip approach.

The space is huge, almost corporate-looking, but warmed by brown tones and centered bar. Granted, I haven’t dined fully here yet but at the pre-opening party, I sampled a wide range of the food (at least ten dishes), pretty much all of it stellar, as well as three fine cocktails. The kitchen is impressive, allowing a finely tuned team to crank out Dayboat scallops ($16) with summer truffles and shaved squash, better-than-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches, and whole wheat crepes ($19) stuffed with ricotta, nettles and roasted mushrooms. I love black cod ($14) in red curry with snap peas, shiitakes, and lightly-fried shiso shrimp fritters. Desserts were equally intriguing from a blissfully dark, creamy chocolate mousse/cake topped with berries, to the truly unique presentation and taste of cherries atop a thyme pavlova ($8) with vanilla, black pepper and frozen yogurt.

Cocktails ($10-11) were all high quality from a tart, bracing Mr. White (Pueblo Viejo blanco tequila, St. Germain elderflower, strawberry mint shrub, lime) to a balanced Prospector (Wild Turkey Rye 101, Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur, Drambuie, pineapple gum, lemon). I suspect Prospect is going to become a key SF dining and drinking destination.
300 Spear, SF.
(415) 247-7770

HOOKER’S SWEET TREATS — The name continually prompts the obvious jokes, but all that aside, Hooker’s Sea Salt Dark Chocolate-covered Caramels are as addictive and bitchin’ as everyone says.

Hooker’s caramel and a capuccino

Visiting opening day, I found it’s not merely a storefront for the caramels (expensive at $2 each, $7 for 3, or $20 for 10), but also for wonderful coffee and capuccinos from Sightglass, serving the first of their own roasted beans here (returning the favor since Sightglass first sold Hooker’s caramels). They bake bread pudding daily (always wins points with me), a nod to the owner’s Louisiana roots (another point!) The space is cozy, with one communal table that gazes lazily out a window framed by a leafy tree, and turn-of-the-century country kitchen decor of dark blue and wood. Along with microscopic Farm:Table, there’s two linger-worthy, coffee mecca cafes in this neck of the ‘Loin.

442 Hyde, SF.

Appetite: Elizabeth Falkner’s fantastic new dessert menu at Bubble Lounge


Elizabeth Falkner is easily one of the widely acknowledged pastry greats in the US and chef of two SF restaurants, including Citizen Cake, which is moving to Fillmore Street, hopefully open by the beginning of July. Bubbly lover Falkner has created something sweet at Bubble Lounge, eager to take on creating desserts meant to pair with champagne/sparkling wine. She trained Bubble Lounge’s crew on preparing the menu which launched on 6/16.

At a sneak preview tasting of the entire menu with Falkner, I was impressed by the range of tastes covered in these five unique desserts, as well as their approachability. It gets even better when paired with Bubble Lounge Wine Director, Sabawun Kakar’s fine champagne pairings (more on Kakar and Bubble Lounge in my Perfect Spot newsletter).

Falkner says, “I love the balance of acid, sweetness and richness these desserts offer and it makes pairing with champagne really fun. I want to wake up the palate with refreshing flavors, no overkill anywhere.” Her creative whimsy shows in the Spring menu:


Ingredients: lemon curd, yogurt, blueberry sauce, maple crunch, champagne granita – bright, tart dessert in a glass

Pairing: Fleury Carte Rouge – organic, biodynamic champagne, lovely and crisp on its own, but the only one that didn’t work for me with the dessert

UPSIDE-DOWN CHEESECAKE: A little sweet in the big city

Ingredients: creamy cheesecake-like dessert topped with buttery graham crust and amarena cherries – almost savory, strong, silky cheese; the most unique item on the menu and one of my favorites

Pairing: Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blancs – lovely small producer; clean, with notes of herbal tea, tangy apple

OLIVE OIL MADELEINES (pictured above)

Ingredients: madeleine baked in brown butter and grassy olive oil, with olive oil ice cream, a Spring-fresh strawberry and fennel salad in rose vinaigrette; probably my favorite all around dessert for unique combination of savory/sweet salad with baked madeleine

Pairing: Pol Roger Brut – a gorgeous, flowery/toasty nose, dry with fruit and cream, bringing out the earthiness in the fennel; possibly my favorite pairing of the menu


Ingredients: pizzelle wave cookies, layered with three sorbets/ice creams: chocolate (with a brilliant whiff of tobacco), passion fruit, pistachio

Pairing: Jean Milan Blanc de Blancs – acidic, fruity, with light balance of toast


Ingredients: dark chocolate “French toast” in delicate orange-caramel sauce with genius pink peppercorn chantilly

Pairing: Bruno Paillard Brut – family run, small production; fresh fruit and spice

I want it that way


IDOL WORSHIP I’m not going to say the Backstreet Boys made me gay, because no boy band — regardless of how late-1990s dreamy — can change one’s sexual orientation. But BSB did act as a barometer for gayness that helped usher me into a newfound understanding of my sexuality. When you’re 13 and you’d rather hang out with pretty boy Nick Carter than Catholic schoolgirl Britney Spears, you know something’s up.

Actually, Nick wasn’t really my favorite. I was all about sensitive older man Kevin Richardson, now exiled from the Backstreet Boys because he’s (wait for it) 38. As for the others, A.J. McLean and Howie Dorough were never on my radar, too “bad boy” and “boy next door,” respectively. Meanwhile, unofficial frontman Brian Littrell was super enthused by his born again status, which even at a young age I found less than thrilling.

But I digress. Boy bands were everywhere when I was in middle school, and your response to the invasion was key to your social standing. If you were a girl, you were required to pick a favorite and run with it. If you were a boy, you had to act disdainful and dismiss them all as homos. If you were, well, me, you secretly knew all the lyrics, did your best to act like you didn’t, and got called a “fag” anyway because a couple assholes totally heard you humming “As Long As You Love Me” during PE class.

I didn’t know I was gay when I was 13, but I knew I was different. I spent a good amount of time trying desperately to fit in, which meant denying my interest in bubblegum pop and focusing on more respectable pop punk, like Green Day and the Offspring. (Objectively, Green Day is far queerer than BSB. But who knew?) I distinctly remember a day in English class when my friends (who were girls) looked over a picture of the Backstreet Boys and picked out the cutest. I didn’t say anything, but my mind was blaring, “KEVIN, KEVIN, KEVIN” while I bit my tongue.

Times have changed. The boy band craze fizzled, I came out, and an ironic appreciation of kitsch became increasingly popular. I can now say that I’m excited to see the Backstreet Boys in concert without a hint of shame or fear. (“That is so gay.” Yes, exactly.) Fuck it — I can be proud. Isn’t that what this month is all about? When I hear “I Want It That Way” at the Warfield, I’ll be able to belt it, surrounded by a slew of former teenage outcasts doing the same. Sing out, Louise: “No matter the distance, I want you to know, that deep down inside of me … ” 


With Mindless Behavior

Sun/27–Mon/28, 8 p.m., $42.50–$62.50


982 Market, SF


ALSO headlining the main stage at Pride Celebration on Sun/27 (see Pride listings)

Put on a happy face



THEATER Twenty-first-century post-9/11 gay America doesn’t get a makeover in Paul Rudnick’s new collection of short plays, it goes out for one. Rudnick (The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told; Valhalla) surveys the state of the gay nation through four small, broadly comical vignettes in three far-flung American locales — all slouching toward Manhattan — and finds it taking itself and everything else far too seriously.

Admittedly, this is an opportune moment for some accounting. The Proposition 8 battle rages its way toward the Supreme Court; the military’s "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy looks set to become a quaint anachronism; and in another cunning argument for atheism, the bishop of Essen, Germany — hip-deep in an ongoing clerical sexual abuse scandal — has just declared that all gays are bound for hell.

Time sashays on. But The New Century, taking its local bow in director George Maguire’s sporadically effective production at New Conservatory Theatre Center, already feels a bit stale, despite dependable one-liners from its witty playwright.

In the first playlet, "Pride and Joy," well-to-do Jewish mother Helene Nadler (Marie O’Donnell, in a smart skirt and blouse and a less well-fitting New York accent) addresses us from the linoleum floor of a school auditorium. Backed by a banner whose utter inclusiveness demands the most estranging acronym, Helene relates her determination to be "the most loving mother of all time" in the face of three children whose homosexual orientations range from the hum-drum to the downright pootré ("In this house we use the toilet," she tells son David, "not a friend from Tribeca!"). The spirit of can-do parenting achieves a kind of crescendo when David (Seth Michael Anderson) briefly appears in full BDSM attire.

"Mr. Charles, Currently of Palm Beach" opens on the eponymous late-night cable-access flaneur (a solid Patrick Michael Dukeman) in an explosion of pastel finery. He’s a former Manhattanite forced into South Florida exile, we are told, for being "too gay." True to form, Mr. Charles flounces about in unabashed embrace of his self-proclaimed title as the last of the true queens. Answering viewer letters, he reads, "Mr. Charles, do you enjoy gay theater?" and responds, with perhaps too much truth, "I am gay theater!" Assistant Shane (Anderson) brings the beefcake to this on-air party, whose point again has to do with the embrace of radical — if heavily stereotyped — difference over conformity to the dreary American norm.

"Crafty," the third playlet, offers yet another angle, this one from a not so with-it but terribly handy mother from Decatur, Ill., (a sharp, genial Deborah Rucker) addressing the Junior Chamber of Commerce with her eye-poking assortment of craft treasures. "Crafts allow me to express myself," she says sweetly, "to create something worth dusting!" As she reminisces about her gay son Hank, a talented Broadway designer long dead of AIDS, we find an expansive note of acceptance peaking out from an unlikely assortment of tea cozies and sock monkeys.

All points and characters converge in the eponymous closer, set in a Manhattan maternity ward. There, Mr. Charles trains his "gay ray" on the next generation, and Shane describes an epiphany at the site of the old WTC brought on by the Century 21 sign beaming in neon above it. To Shane, the discount chain is like Prozac with parking, offering a way out of everyone’s funk. "It’s like if Patti LuPone were a store," he enthuses. That image of a new material neon dawn rising over the emptiness of ground zero is probably about right. But is it really so great or new?


New Conservatory Theatre Center

Wed.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. (through July 11), $22–$40

25 Van Ness, SF


Dressed in black



MUSIC “Every song I wrote was born out of being alone and frustrated in this perpetually sunny place,” explains Dee Dee, the leading lady of the Dum Dum Girls, who wrote and recorded the band’s debut full-length, I Will Be (Sub Pop), as a way to pass the time in Los Angeles. “It was a struggle to be happy and fill the hours in a day.” The album’s got a sunny-side-up vibe: the bottom-half has a fried, rough edge, while the top part remains bright and runny yellow.

Dee Dee (birth name: Kristin Gundred) is a lifetime Cali chick. She grew up in the East Bay, frolicked in San Fran and Berkeley during high school, went to college in Santa Cruz, returned to SF, and then moved to L.A. “It was such a shocking move,” she writes via e-mail while on tour in Paris. “But I’m grateful for the contrast it added to my life — for its amazing coasts and for my husband and friends, who I’d never have met otherwise.”

By herself, the 27-year-old singer-songwriter wrote tracks in her L.A. bedroom. When Dee Dee needed a band to take her songs to the stage, she recruited her a girl gang: Jules (guitar and vocals), Bambi (bass), and Sandra Vu (drums and vocals). “There was no other way to become a real band than to find the right girls and flesh out the songs a bit,” she says. “Nothing compares to playing with them.” Together the ladies are united aurally and visually — they all dress in black.

Dum Dum Girls released a rough-and-tumble self-titled EP before getting signed last summer by Sub Pop. I Will Be is a reverb-loving, 1960s girl group-influenced, rebel rock ‘n’ roll album smeared with Dee Dee’s sugary vocals. The album was produced by Richard Gottehrer, who cowrote “My Boyfriend’s Back” and produced albums by Blondie and the Go-Go’s. Gottehrer polishes the group’s sound without losing the speed and shake that distinguishes it. The ascent may seem quick, but Dee Dee’s been singing since she was a wee tot and pushing her own music for the past 10 years.

“I’ve finally got a handle on it,” she adds, about living and making music in LA. “And now I’m going to fuck it up again and see what songs come out of this next move.” The Dum Dum Girls show at Bottom of the Hill will be a homecoming of sorts, since Dee Dee prepares to return to hot-and-cold Frisco. “It’s time to go home,” she remarks.

“My life is kind of plagued with heaviness right now and attempting balance always channels itself into my songs,” Dee Dee notes. Her songwriting makes it clear that not only does she have an excellent sense of melody and harmony, she also knows how to tell a story.

“Bhang Bhang, I’m a Burnout,” an upbeat and jangly song, “is a positive commentary on the creative use of marijuana,” she explains. Observations such as “But really it just opens up doors/I never knew could be/in your head” make it easy to guess what Dee Dee was up to as she hid in her bedroom writing into the late hours of the night.

Listening to the high-spirited “Oh Mein Me,” it’s easy to get caught up in the blur of sound and make-up words like “Each to each/Oh my, oh my,” but the song is actually sung in German. Dee Dee explains it is about “love at first sight” and “the dramatic cosmic connection.” The poet-at-heart says she learned German because of her obsession with Hermann Hesse, whose narratives follow wanderers as they search for the meaning of life, or for meaning in life. Hesse’s thematic influence is apparent as the album maps out the experiences one has while growing up.

The middle of the album has the sweet stuff, with an adolescent-meets-adult feel. The lyrics possess maturity but emit the feel of a first kiss. “Yours Alone” starts in the schoolyard at age five and rocks its way through first times on to forever. “It’s bits and pieces gathered from my whole life and constructed into a love story,” she confirms, “starting with Ari Radowsky in preschool.”

The slowed-down “Blank Girl” is a purified duet sung with Brandon Welchez (of Crocodiles), who also plays guitar on the track. It follows an ugly-duckling-to-swan trajectory, relating the passage from shyness to finding a voice. “Rest of Our Lives” is a romantic ode written by Dee Dee for her husband. “Your eyes consume me/They always have/Before you knew me/I dreamt of them,” Dee Dee sings, looking back to her childhood ideals of romance. Informed by 1950s doo-wop and ’60s pop, it’s one of the sweetest songs about monogamy in years.

The failures of love are addressed in “I Will Be,” a rattled tale about a desperate, unbalanced affair that takes the listener back to the rough stuff. I Will Be concludes with “Baby Don’t Go,” a ready-to-make-you-cry Sonny and Cher cover. Whether slow or fast, sad or happy, sunny or rough, Dum Dum Girls captures the charms of the past, forming them into an anthem for the present. When asked what love means to her, Dee Dee simply and succulently replies, “Everything.”

With Crocodiles, White Cloud, DJ Mario Orduno

Wed/30, 9 p.m., $12

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF


Pulp vicious



FILM An entirely fake controversy brewed at the Sundance Film Festival three years ago in anticipation of the "Dakota Fanning rape movie," otherwise known as Hounddog. Fanning was then a cloyingly cute, frequently tearful actor known for family-friendly films — ergo, her appearance as a victim of child abuse in a 1950s rural drama got fanned by hysterical pundits and popular media into terrible child actor abuse. Before anyone actually saw the film, of course.

Once they had, however, the scandal quickly slunk into a corner and died. Hounddog was barely released many months later — and not because it was an exploitative shocker. Rather, it turned out to be a ludicrous gumbo of Southern gothic clichés and clumsy good intentions that violated no standards beyond those of intelligence and art.

This January another Sundance controversy broke. It was, coincidentally, over another Deep South period piece, and also wrong-headed. The movie was eclectic English director Michael Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me, the latest screen version of a beloved and spectacularly nasty noir tale by literary pulp hero Jim Thompson. The protest, aired in audience walkouts and complaints, was that the onscreen violence against women was viciously excessive.

In this case, the accusation is as true as the ones against Hounddog were false. But that’s just one reason that Killer is good art while Hounddog is fraudulently bad. In Winterbottom’s film, violence is horribly immediate, sadistic yet matter-of-fact, almost unendurable — everything movie violence almost never is. There’s nothing remotely comfortable about the highly personal, unnecessary cruelty our antihero wreaks. And there’s real deliberateness about the way that brutality escalates when he’s putting down female, as opposed to male, obstacles. S’called misogyny, folks.

The Killer Inside Me is about Sheriff Lou Ford (Casey Affleck), a good ol’ boy (if not yet so old) in his dusty, back-slappy west Texas hometown of the late 1950s. Lou plays the part so well no one in this sleepily, routinely corrupt berg would ever suspect him of being … complicated. Indeed, he is a world-class sociopath who depends on their lazy small-town gullibility and rote suspicion toward outsiders to literally) get away with murder.

Affleck is oddly cast in that he lacks the innate bully heft or lunacy that made Stacey Keach an ideal embodiment of Thompson’s ultimate unreliable-narrator concept in Burt Kennedy’s 1976 screen version. This Affleck can’t possibly be mistaken for John Wayne 4.0. But could the Duke have played the game-changing weenie in 2007’s The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford?

Winterbottom’s Killer Inside Me is all about antiheroic nightmares hidden beneath blinding Texan skies. Outwardly placid, inwardly paranoid, Lou is shagging local Amy (Kate Hudson) — secretly, because she’s a "nice girl" — but gets distracted by Joyce (Jessica Alba), a probable prostitute he’s asked to bum rush outta town. They discover an S–M bond he’s reluctant to sever. Unless, that is, imminent exposures of a criminal, monetary, or moral kind direct otherwise. Which they rapidly do.

Leading ladies Alba and Hudson are widely perceived as spoiled hotties of little talent — hence perfect battering-rams for pulp-machismo movie violence. What’s cool about Winterbottom’s Killer is that it refuses to let you enjoy the abuse they endure, which is viscerally unpleasant as a fist to the gut. Escapist air sucks from the room every time these long-term starlets (both actually pretty good here) get battered. It’s not slasher-flick funny, entertaining, or otherwise easily dismissed. It’s abrupt, grueling, and horrific.

At once folksy-nostalgic and vicious, The Killer Inside Me is unabashedly about men who hate women. It successfully translates Thompson’s gambit of insinuating us into the seemingly pleasant, reasonable viewpoint of a protagonist we are then surprised to discover is psychotic and without a conscience. Offended Sundance attendees should’ve gotten a clue: deliberately misleading in its pulp-nostalgia trappings, this is one movie that upsets not gratuitously, but exactly as it should.
THE KILLER INSIDE ME opens Fri/25 at the Sundance Kabuki.

Sonny dearest


FILM It’s tempting to label Mark and Jay Duplass’ Cyrus as “mumblecore goes mainstream.” Yes, the mumblecore elements are all there: plentiful moments of awkward humiliation, characters fumbling verbally and sometimes physically in desperate attempts to establish emotional connections, and a meandering, character-driven plot, in the sense that the characters themselves possess precious little drive.

The addition of bona fide indie movie stars John C. Reilly, Catherine Keener, and Marisa Tomei — not to mention Hollywood’s chubby-funny guy du jour, Jonah Hill — could lead some to believe that the DIY-loving Duplass brothers (2005’s The Puffy Chair, 2008’s Baghead) have gone from slacker disciples of John Cassavetes (informally known as “Slackavetes”) to worshippers at the slickly profane (with a heart) altar of Judd Apatow.

But despite the presence of Apatow protégé Hill (2007’s Superbad) in the title role, Cyrus steers clear of crowd-pleasing bombast, instead favoring small, relatively naturalistic moments. That is to say, not much actually happens. Mumblecore? More or less. Mainstream? Not exactly.

On the surface, Hill’s character in particular has the ring of an outrageous Hollywood comedic foil, the kind of outsized and broadly drawn (in every sense) clown who ratchets up the action by assaulting the movie’s loser hero, John (Reilly, in lost puppy dog mode) with endless, over-the-top Machiavellian schemes.

Cyrus — a disingenuous 21-year-old schlub who still lives with his mother (Tomei) and engages in creepy, inappropriate activities with her, like wrestling in the park — is actually more sad mouse than psychotic lion. The most heinous crime he ever perpetrates on fellow schlub John — this one painfully sincere, competing for his mother’s affections — is stealing his shoes.

“Molly and I are really best friends,” he tells John, before giving him a steely-eyed stare-down while serenading him on the synthesizer, in one the few moments between Cyrus and John that’s both funny and tension-filled.

Despite playing a character with some serious psychological issues, Hill comes off as likeable. Unfortunately the movie is neither as broadly comic nor as emotionally poignant as it needs to be — the two opposing forces seem to cancel each other out like acids and bases.

Strongly evocative of 1970s new American filmmaking, Cyrus‘ naturalism mixed with absurdity brings to mind great ’70s auteurs like Hal Ashby or even Robert Altman. Even the set and wardrobe (particularly the winsome Tomei’s poodle curls, heavy mascara, and hippie caftans) nostalgically evoke the era. But the Duplass brothers have neither the chops nor the strong point of view of world-class filmmakers. Those great earlier films were shambling and disjointed, yes, but they did ultimately have a destination. Cyrus is content to just spend the day in the park, engaging in some Oedipal wrestling.

CYRUS opens Fri/25 in San Francisco theaters.

Inflated meaning



FILM Don’t let Air Doll‘s title fool you. Mannequin (1987) or Lars and the Real Girl (2007) this ain’t. This gritty, Tokyo-set fairytale about an inflatable sex doll who comes to life represents a departure on many fronts for director Hirokazu Koreeda, who has become known for such faintly melancholy studies of quiet perseverance as Nobody Knows (2004) and After Life (1998). Despite its fantastic premise and candid eroticism, Air Doll covers similar emotional territory to those older titles, surveying with no less an empathetic eye the fickleness of human connection, the power of adoration, and the loneliness that seems to be a hallmark of urban life.

Saucer-eyed Korean actress Doona Bae (of 2005’s Linda Linda Linda fame) stars as Nozomi, the titular doll who escapes her devoted owner’s apartment and wanders through the densely packed surrounding streets. Eventually she finds employment at a video store, where she falls in love with a coworker (after he gives her one of the best and queerest BJs ever committed to film). Along the way she learns to tell lies, harbor jealousy, and experience what it’s like to have the "heart [she] wasn’t supposed to have" break. In short, what it means to be human.

All the while, Koreeda never sugarcoats Nozomi’s "vocation," letting sexually frank but never prurient episodes stand in contrast to the film’s more lighthearted moments. But, as I found out when I spoke to Koreeda the day after Air Doll screened at the 2010 San Francisco International Film Festival, that’s part of being human too. My thanks go out to Beth Cary for being such a wonderful interpreter.

SFBG You’ve never made an adaptation before. What initially attracted you to Yoshiie Goda’s manga series?

Hirokazu Koreeda There was one scene in particular that attracted me. In the video shop, when the air doll snags her arm on a nail in the wall and starts deflating and the young male clerk comes over and tends to her wound. At first she is shy and embarrassed but then she starts feeling a real sense of fulfillment and satisfaction as he blows air into her. To me it was like a sex scene, but done with the breath. Using a person’s breath as a way that people commingle and communicate was very interesting to me.

SFBG Air Doll has really divided critics. I think it’s because the film doesn’t stick to a certain tone or mood. Is this what you were aiming for?

HK In a way it was. What I discussed with Doona Bae is that the doll is born like a baby — innocent — and then learns various things about the world by imitating humans. In that process, she sees how poetic things are, how pessimistic things are, and how comedic things are, so she changes as well. I think such a mix of elements is present in our everyday lives, so I wanted the film to reflect that.

SFBG How was it working with Doona Bae? Her performance has such a Giulietta Masina-like quality to it.

HK [Laughs] Actually, before we started filming I suggested that she watch La strada (1954) and Nights of Cabaria (1957), not because I was aiming for a certain style, but because I thought they might be helpful. I also spent about five hours walking her through the entire film (with an interpreter, since she doesn’t speak Japanese). During that time even she would tear up and cry during the sad parts and laugh during all the pleasurable parts. Afterward she said, "I’ve got it. I understand the character now." And in the two months of filming, she didn’t waver from what we discussed at all. She was great.

AIR DOLL opens Fri/25 in Bay Area theaters.

Heirloom Cafe



DINE The Gospel According to Matthew offers no restaurant commentary I’m aware of, but it does remind us that “you will know them by their fruits” — the King James Version of the holy book gives us the fruitier “ye shall know them by their fruits” — especially (to make a slight inference) heirloom fruits. Or restaurants. If you want to know what a neighborhood is like and how it might be changing, you look at the restaurants.

Recently The Wall Street Journal ran a story suggesting that the Mission District is rapidly being colonized by techsters who live in the city and commute to jobs on the Peninsula in shuttle buses provided by their employers, among them the colossi Google and Apple. The map showed the corporate bus stops, though not the location of Heirloom Café, which opened in April in a gorgeous box of a space at Folsom and 21st streets. But if the shuttle-bus routes are adjusted so that the techsters can be dropped off there and go straight in to dinner, I won’t be surprised.

Heirloom is the kind of place that, five or six years ago, you would have expected to find opening in Glen Park or outer Noe Valley. It is a respectful, conscientious restoration of an old Victorian space, with wood-plank floors, cream-colored walls, lots of natural light, ceiling fans, and tables (including the long communal table) simply but handsomely dressed with white linens. Its menu is refreshingly brief and implies a lineage, at least in spirit, from Chez Panisse and Zuni Café.

But it is an odd experience, I must say, to stand on the sidewalk outside the door and watch the local world go by. Heirloom sits in the very heart of the Mexican Mission, and might as well be the embassy of some faraway country no one has heard of. The neighbors pass by with scarcely a glance at the place or the menu card posted in the window. The people who do pause, and then step inside, all seem to be wearing Dolce & Gabbana eyewear, or at least look as if they’ve tried on a pair or two. Worlds collide, sometimes, but they can also coexist, in the same time and place, as if in parallel universes.

The cooking is as elegant and understated as the interior design. Small touches make a big difference, as in the wonderfully crisp matchstick frites scattered over a salad of smoked trout ($12), frisée, and haricots verts. The fries brought a lovely lightness and crunch to an already complex salad. A mushroom tart ($10) was similarly, subtly enhanced by the tang of bacon. The pastry crust had the tender snap and tastiness of real butter.

On occasion, the magic ingredient goes missing, as with the mussels ($10). These were served with a classic white wine broth, which was a little sharp and sour, especially if you’ve been spoiled (as I have) by such innovations in this area as Thai-style red curry or beer-with-chorizo broths.

And some special ingredients won’t be to every taste. The burger ($12), for instance was served on an English muffin in the presence of pickled carrots, but the dominant reality was the epoisses cheese, whose ripe pungency gave pause. At first bite I wondered if the meat had spoiled — the cheese was that strong. I continue to question the French-style cheeseburger, I must say. High-quality beef generally doesn’t need much support, let alone interference.

A nice illustration of knowing when to leave well enough alone involved the poached halibut ($22), which turned out to be nearly as rich and creamy as the potato purée it was served on. Halibut is something like the perfect fish — meaty and substantial, mild-flavored but not bland, wild but taken from well-managed fisheries. To find it handled with restrained grace is the jewel in the crown.

The menu offers a roaming cheese service from a wooden platter. For $3 per variety, you can treat yourself to such delights as fleur de marquis and tomme de savoie, and you don’t have to do it as dessert. You could have cheese as a starter or intermezzo if you wanted — and if you did it that way, you might scale down to a splendid postprandial cookie ($2), oatmeal with chocolate chips and walnuts. They left out the kitchen sink. Just as well. 


Dinner: Mon.–Sat., 6–10 p.m.

2500 Folsom, SF

(415) 821-2500


Beer and wine


Can quickly get noisy

Wheelchair accessible

Peripheral vision


DANCE Liss Fain has been choreographing in San Francisco for the last 20 years. Her work has remained on the periphery, probably because it doesn’t sync up with trends or the tenor of the times. Fain choreographs highly structured, emotionally cool works in which she shapes and shifts a ballet-based modern dance vocabulary as if to see where she can take it. This type of approach and Fain’s type of craft are rare today. It’s a pleasure to see an active intelligence engaged in such full-bodied work.

Fain also chooses high-quality collaborators. Her company’s costumes — designed by Mary Domenicko and James Meyer this season — are elegant and finely detailed. Fain has worked with the excellent Matthew Antaky for years. His visual and lighting concepts place her dances into richly evocative environments.

Last weekend (June 17-19) at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Liss Fain Dance presented two premieres, How it Ends and Speak of Familiar Things. Both were excellently performed by a sextet of new and veteran Fain dancers: Brendan Barthel, Mira Cook, Jennifer Beamer Fernandez, Shannon Kurashige, Alec Lytton, and Bethany Mitchell.

For How it Ends, Fain chose fierce percussion by Iannis Xenakis, a shimmering instrumental score by Marcos Balter, and a choral hallelujah by John Tavener. The piece showcased sharp shifts of energy within a single phrase. Fain also used strong gestural language to flatten or cleave space. A face-caressing gesture was as intriguing as it was repetitious.

Proceeding at an even pace, the piece developed a slight trajectory. Initially it elaborated on unisons, most interestingly when a trio for women stepped in and out of commonality. In the more lyrical middle section, two athletic duets for very different dancers took center stage. Barthel and Kurashige shaped each other in precisely calibrated interactions where Kurashige often appeared to take initiative. Lytton and Mitchell’s mutual lifts and floats picked up speed until they found themselves — in a delicious moment — frozen side-by-side in a tiny plié. In the work’s third and most affecting section, the dancers became hesitant. Before leaving the stage, they walked and stopped, as if waiting for something to happen.

A similar instant occurred in the somewhat loquacious Speak of Familiar Things: after his partner walked away, Barthel stood watching a female duet defined by parallel moves. Overall, the piece presented a stream of variably captivating solos and duets. A strong, compact dancer, Kurashige was commanding. Throughout, Beamer Fernandez impressed with her upper-body work, and Mitchell with her speed and power.

CompStat vs. community policing


By Alex Emslie


Two competing visions for the San Francisco Police Department are central to a looming debate involving the mayor and his police chief, who favor the high-tech yet impersonal CompStat model, and progressive members of the Board of Supervisors who are pushing for a community-based, cops-walking-beats blueprint for SFPD.

District 5 Sup. Ross Mirkarimi introduced a proposed ballot measure on June 7 that would require the police chief to institute foot patrols in all districts and ask the Police Commission to establish a written community policing policy. SFPD Chief George Gascón opposes the initiative, instead favoring a reliance on the new CompStat system to determine how best to use police resources.

The terms “CompStat” and “community policing” have become trendy buzz words, UC Berkeley law professor Franklin Zimring told the Guardian, so they mean different things to the police departments that employ them, muddying the waters of the current debate.

“When labels get popular, they get pasted into lots of different things,” said Zimring, who wrote The Great American Crime Decline (Oxford University Press, 2006) and is working on a second book about the crime rate drop in the 1990s in New York City, where CompStat orginated. Yet the two models point to differing law enforcement philosophies.

At its most basic, CompStat uses computerized crime mapping software to drive police deployment decisions. It emphasizes lowering a city’s crime rate by centralizing authority, spotting statistical trends, and targeting crime hot spots. Community policing, a model embraced by many U.S. police departments in the 1980s and ’90s before CompStat swept the nation, grounds police officers in the neighborhoods they serve, decentralizing authority. The model seeks to prevent crime with regular patrols that develop relationships on their beats and lets the community help set law enforcement priorities.

“There is not community policing in San Francisco,” Mirkarimi — the only member of the board to go through the police academy — told the Guardian. “I don’t care what anybody says. If they say there is, then it is isolated. It’s unique to that particular experience or location.”

Proponents of CompStat insist the new model is really just a part of community policing. Gascón wrote a letter to the Board of Supervisors in February saying the proposed legislation “oversteps the jurisdiction of the legislative branch,” “attempts to give district station captains authority and discretion that rightfully belong to the chief of police,” and “will deprive the department of the flexibility it needs to address public safety throughout the city.”

Mirkarimi doesn’t oppose CompStat and said he sees merit in the program’s statistical collection, which has long been a shortcoming in the SFPD. “But I caution against any over-reliance on CompStat as a method that dictates how policing and public safety should be applied,” Mirkarimi told us. “Because the casualty of this over-reliance will be a compromising of any hopes of having true community policing.”

The SFPD website portrays CompStat as starting with data collection and then, similar to community policing, encouraging officers to find creative solutions to ongoing problems, anything from singular incidents of burglary to repeated graffiti or even a spike in murders. The crime triangle, a lasting symbol of community policing, illustrates that victims, suspects, and locations are all necessary for crime to thrive, and successfully policing even one of those factors can prevent crime. But CompStat programs often lack sustained commitment to building relationships with neighborhoods.

“Compstat seemed to engender a pattern of organizational response to crime spikes in hot spots that was analogous to the Whack-a-Mole game found at fairs and carnivals,” argued a 2003 study commissioned by the national Police Foundation titled “CompStat in Practice: An in-depth Analysis of Three Cities.”

The study found immediate contradictions in Lowell, Mass.; Minneapolis, and Newark, N.J. between beat officers’ new responsibility to “simply follow their superiors’ orders” and the community policing model that cast them as individual, authoritative protectors of their neighborhoods. CompStat centralizes authority with the higher echelons of SFPD. It includes bimonthly meetings in which station captains are grilled by SFPD brass and are expected to answer for the statistics in their district.

“Given the gap between the two models of policing, CompStat naturally tends to encounter the greatest resistance in departments that are most committed to community policing,” the study found.

Understaffed and poorly trained crime analysis units tasked with deciphering data patterns into useful correlations (for example, between drug crimes and murder) was another barrier to the success of CompStat outlined in the study. SFPD’s crime analysis unit consists of three civilians housed at the Hall of Justice, SFPD spokesperson Lt. Lyn Tomioka told us. They are not deployed to district stations and are supervised by a lieutenant who also has other responsibilities.

“There are a lot of rough edges. There’s a lot of non-fit there,” Zimring told the Guardian. “Who sets the priorities? CompStat priorities are always crime prevention, and they are set, and tactics are provided, by the chief of police. He is, in the immortal words of George W. Bush, ‘the decider.’ Community policing is supposed to be more cooperative and organic.”

Gascón initiated CompStat in San Francisco in October 2009, although Mayor Gavin Newsom has been touting the CompStat model since he first ran for mayor in 2003, when a campaign policy brief gushed about its “accurate and timely intelligence, rapid deployment, effective tactics, and relentless follow-up and assessment.” Initially, however, SFPD only took baby steps, using a confusing plot system to map crimes. That changed when Gascón took over as police chief last August, bringing experience in the program with him from the Los Angeles Police Department.

SFPD officials say vendor contract costs to start the system’s electronic crime mapping were less than $1 million, and an additional $1 million has been proposed for next year’s budget for technology upgrades in the CompStat unit. But the numbers so far haven’t backed up the boldest claims. SFPD reports 24 homicides this year as of June 12, up 20 percent from last year’s rate for early June. Homicide arrests are down from 12 last year to eight this year. Occurrences of rape are also up by 12 percent, but overall violent crime is down 2 percent compared to this time last year.

Gascón wrote that foot patrols are a valuable tool for community policing in San Francisco, but he doesn’t want to be forced to maintain them with limited staffing. Newsom’s proposed budget maintains current SFPD staffing, 2,317 sworn officers, while many other city departments received deep staffing cuts. Progressive supervisors have pledged to closely scrutinize SFPD’S budget.

Community policing was law enforcement’s response to civil unrest in the 1960s and ’70s, when police were seen as the enforcers of institutional power. Previous beat patrol methods largely ended when the 911 system came along, and the emphasis was placed on calls for service, statistics, and response times, leaving officers with little time to patrol and prevent crime.

The change to community policing emphasized neighborhood input and officers becoming an organic part of the community they served. Citizen contributions, generally through community meetings, began to drive decision-making. Foot patrols were revived and officers were once again expected to have a physical presence and a connection to the community they served.

That change was seen as particularly important in poor neighborhoods and communities of color, where police can sometimes be seen as an occupying army and residents were reluctant to cooperate with investigations. Officials hoped to prevent crimes by showing a presence in neighborhoods rather than simply reacting to them when someone called.

Mirkarimi says a CompStat-driven police force would be a return to that reactive model, potentially sacrificing the long-term commitment required to build trust between a neighborhood and its police department, which is central to community policing. “[CompStat] undermines the principles and practices of community policing because true community policing requires a discipline and a protocol that is sustained,” he said.

While either approach can theoretically result in the same practices, such as a foot beat patrol in a given neighborhood, Zimring said the reasoning behind it depends on the model. “CompStat to begin with is completely crime-driven,” Zimring said. “The reason you have it is to reduce crimes. It involves computerized mapping of crimes. It involves allocating resources to so-called hot spots, and it involves the police department imposing its own priorities as opposed to implementing community priorities.”

The Board of Supervisors will consider Mirkarimi’s measure and SFPD budget in July, airing a debate that could continue on to the November ballot, when voters would decide whether to maintain their faith in CompStat and the SFPD or ask for more community policing and foot patrols.

Danger zone



Rita Connolly, a registered nurse who has worked with inmates in San Francisco jails since 1985, says she’ll never forget the time she had to act fast to save a prisoner’s life.

The man had just arrived from a different jail and was waiting to go through intake. He was slumped over and looking ill, too weak to voice a complaint. Several worried inmates beckoned Connolly over, and once she examined him, she realized he was in the midst of a heart attack. He was rushed to the emergency room. He lived — but sustained irreversible heart damage.

“He could have been someone who didn’t live,” Connolly told the Guardian, but he also could have had a better outcome. The inmate had alerted someone that he was having chest pains earlier in the day, she later learned, as he was boarding a bus from an Alameda County Jail. A medical services worker examined him just before the bus left, but allowed him to proceed. By the time he arrived in San Francisco, the warning signals had progressed to a full-blown heart attack.

The story highlights an extreme example of a trend Connolly said she observes regularly — inmates from counties that use privatized jail health services aren’t receiving the same standard of care that San Francisco provides. Sometimes, there are obvious signs that the care is inadequate, placing inmates’ health at risk.

Alameda’s jail health services contractor, Tennessee-based Prison Health Services Inc. (PHS), has made headlines before for a track record marred by inmate deaths and lawsuits alleging negligence. PHS has expressed interest in contracting with San Francisco if the city opened the door to privatization, which Mayor Gavin Newsom has once again proposed in his latest budget.

That budget also calls for cuts to community-based health and human service programs that threaten to erode the safety net for those battling mental health issues, drug addiction, and chronic health problems, all proposals now being weighed by the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee.

But it is the debate over whether to make a $11 million cut to jail health services that raises the most thorny and telling questions about what sacrifices are considered acceptable — and what populations can be the most easily targeted — in the quest to balance a budget without the tax increases that Newsom opposes.



In San Francisco, the city’s Department of Public Health contracts with the Sheriff’s Department to address inmates’ medical needs. Privatized jail health care would be cheaper, though by how much is a moving target. But nobody is arguing that the care would be better.

Newsom’s budget proposes switching to a private firm as early as January 2011 to help solve a daunting budget deficit. The proposal originated with the Mayor’s Office, and Sheriff Mike Hennessey — whose department would realize the potential savings — went along by including the item in his departmental budget.

In years past, the Board of Supervisors has repeatedly resisted the proposal and is likely to do so again — but rejecting it would mean finding up to $11 million in savings elsewhere.

“The fear is that when you bring privatization into the picture, there is a financial pressure to cut corners. And even though that may end up saving some money … the price that comes with it is too high,” Sup. David Campos said at a recent budget hearing. Referencing stories about inmates who died needlessly in jail under the care of for-profit firms, Campos said he isn’t willing to risk a similar tragedy occurring in San Francisco.

The proposal has been floated repeatedly since as far back as the early 1990s, according to healthcare workers whose jobs have been jeopardized by privatization before. Newsom proposed the cut last year, and the year before.

“In absence of the budget problem, [Hennessey] probably would not have proposed this, nor would we have proposed this,” Newsom’s budget director, Greg Wagner, told members of the Budget and Finance Committee at a May 26 hearing, adding that the mayor shares concerns about prisoner safety. Newsom’s office did not return multiple calls requesting comment for this story.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to a hear an appeal by the state of California to the federal court ruling that substandard medical care in California prisons constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and necessitates the early release of about 40,000 prisoners. At the May 26 hearing, healthcare workers familiar with the interiors of county jails and state penitentiaries came forward with horror stories.

“Every week I receive at least one inmate who has an open gunshot wound. They have not seen medical care in the county jails,” Dr. Elena Tootell, chief medical officer at San Quentin state prison, told committee members. “It’s quite surprising to me that they send inmates with gunshot wounds to prison. They just walk off the bus. They often have paper towels stuck to their bodies, seeping the blood. And then we are obligated to take care of them. This does not happen from San Francisco County, I’m going to tell you that right now.”

Tootell said she’d observed a significant difference between those counties using private firms and those using public health care. “They will have a fracture — they’ve never been splinted, they’ve never seen a doctor. They’re on anticoagulation [medication], but haven’t had their blood checked in weeks and have bruises all over their body.”

Connolly echoed similar concerns. For example, she told the Guardian, she’s found herself asking questions like, “You were on AIDS medication before you got arrested and now you’re not?”

Susanne Paradis, a healthcare research contractor with SEIU Local 1021, rejects the premise that the same services could be provided at a lower price. Under a private model, she says, the priority is to keep costs low — and that means doing less.

A key issue, Paradis said, is that private firms tend to rely more heavily on licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) — lower-paid medical staffers who aren’t trained to assess patient’s medical needs and cannot administer the same care that registered nurses (RNs) can. Using PHS data, Paradis found that in Alameda, there is one RN for every 92 inmates, compared with one RN per 32 inmates in San Francisco.

“An RN has the ability to assess, observe, and determine if there’s emergency care needed,” Paradis explained. “An LVN does not have the ability to do that.”

John Poh, a nurse practitioner stationed at a jail in San Francisco’s Hall of Justice, explained the difference this way: “The more RNs you have working for you, the fewer deaths you have.”

PHS, an obvious point of comparison with San Francisco since it serves Alameda, declined to answer questions about its services. Instead, media spokesperson Pat Nolan e-mailed a brief statement. “We are excited to hear that San Francisco is considering the contracting of correctional health care,” he wrote. “Should the city choose to go through an RFP process, we would look forward to participating. We think it is the right thing to do for the city and its taxpayers.”



While those incarcerated in San Francisco jails can be thought of by some as criminals, nuisances, or miscreants, those requiring medical attention are patients in the eyes of the jail healthcare workers.

Inmates routinely enter the system with diabetes, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, heart problems, liver disease, and substance abuse issues, Connolly said. On occasion, a woman will arrive in jail only to learn that she is pregnant. Mental health problems are common, and some battle psychiatric issues in combination with physical ailments.

“Overall, our patient population has had little access to health care. For many people, we’re the only show in town,” Connolly noted.

Poh said some problems could spiral out of control if jail health staff didn’t nip them in the bud. If an inmate is exhibiting signs of tuberculosis, for instance, they’ll immediately get a mask and be sent to the hospital for screening. Sexually transmitted diseases are also a priority for treatment. “You don’t want that person going out infected,” Poh explained.

The city takes a proactive stance when it comes to treating inmates, Poh said, because at the end of the day, county jail is a revolving door. “Everybody leaves county jail. They’re either going home, to a program, or to prison.” If people are released back into the community with contagious, untreated health problems, the risk of exposure can spread beyond jailhouse walls.

San Francisco’s current system is considered a first line of defense, in which inmates are “seen as members of the community who happen to be in jail right now,” Paradis said.

Privatizing jail-health services would constitute a blow to a wider public health safety net in San Francisco that is already weathering painful cuts. At a June 15 Beilenson Hearing, a state-mandated opportunity for community members to explain the impacts of proposed health and human services cuts to the Board of Supervisors, people came out in droves to protest cuts to programs serving vulnerable residents.

Kristie Miller, executive assistant of the Standing Against Global Exploitation (SAGE) Project, told the Guardian that her organization serves 350 clients a year who are victims of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. The organization stands to lose its mental health funding, so Miller had come out to speak against the cut. “It provides trauma-focused psychotherapy for survivors who’ve experienced a lot of abuse, violence, and exploitation,” she said.

Jeff Schindler, chief development officer for the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics, said he was there protesting a 79 percent funding cut to his organization’s 108-bed residential program on Treasure Island. “We won’t have a place for people to actually go into residential treatment for their mental health and substance abuse issues,” he said. “These are individuals who are going to get their needs met somehow, somewhere, and generally that’s going to be at San Francisco General Hospital.”

It’s in this context that the proposal to contract out for jail health services is being proposed. “It’s easy to dismiss prisoners as probably the least valued sector of our society,” Deirdre Wilson, of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, noted at a May 26 hearing. “But the right to health care is a human right.”



According to an estimate prepared by the Sheriff’s Department, the city could save anywhere from $11 million to $14 million by contracting out for jail health services, and Newsom’s budget assumes a savings of “over $11 million per year.”

However, the Controller’s Office continues to revise that figure as the debate shifts and concerns are raised about the skill mix that a private firm would use. “We don’t really know what it would cost to contract out, unless there was an RFP and a response to the proposal and some discussion about what the staffing requirements would be,” Deputy City Controller Monique Zmuda explained at a June 17 hearing. She added that the potential range of savings spanned from $3 million to $11 million annually, depending on decisions that would have to be made about acceptable staffing levels.

San Francisco’s inmate population has shrunk in the wake of the crime lab scandal, and a city-owned facility in San Bruno has been temporarily shuttered. Sheriff Hennessey told the Guardian he believed medical care in the jails could be provided either by city workers or a private firm, but added that he’s “quite happy” with the status quo. Noting that 25 of the 58 counties in California already use private firms, he added, “It’s not an unusual or unique thing.” Hennessey also said the decision was linked to a broader philosophical and political question, and that he doubted there was support on the board for the proposal to go forward.

Mitch Katz, director of the city’s Department of Public Health, did not directly say whether he supported Newsom’s proposal. “I think our Jail Health Services does a great job, but I do understand that the city is facing an extremely difficult budget year and that ultimately the budget must be balanced,” Katz wrote in an e-mail.

Gabriel Haaland, who represents SEIU Local 1021 union members whose jobs would be affected by the proposal, voiced strong opposition at a June 17 Budget and Finance Committee meeting. “‘We don’t care about these people because they’re poor and they’re in jail.’ That’s the message” in the decision to contract out, Haaland charged. The item was continued and will be revisited as budget deliberations unfold.

Your big queer week



Boys in their Bedrooms Lexington Club, 3464 19th St., SF; (415) 863-2052, www.lexingtonclub.com. Mon-Thu 5 p.m.–2 a.m., Sat–Sun 2 p.m.–2 a.m. Through June 30. Photographer Amos Mac of Original Plumbing zine gets up close and personal, chronicling the trans male lifestyle on the sexy Lex’s walls.

Chronotopia SOMArts, 934 Brannan, SF; (415) 552-1770, www.somarts.org. Explore “the past, present, and future of queer histories” with this eye-popping photography exhibit that celebrates the spectrum of queer images.

Faetopia Festival Old Tower Records space at Market and Noe streets, SF; Various times and prices. Through June 26. www.playajoy.org/faetopia. The lovely, radical faeries of Comfort and Joy take over this huge space for a “remix of the past and present for future utopias,” including eco-homo installations, “cuddle cinema” events, and a gossamer wing-load of ideas and performances.

Frameline Film Festival Various locations; see website for dates and times, www.frameline.org. The humongous citywide queer flick fest is still going strong, with dozens of screen gems.

Golden Girls Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory, 1519 Mission, SF; (415) 690-9410, www.voicefactorysf.org. Thu/24 and Fri/25, 7p.m. and 9 p.m.. $20–$25. Heklina, Cookie Dough, Matthew Martin, and Pollo Del Mar are joined by Mike Finn and Laurie Busman for live-action versions of two all-new episodes of the beloved TV show.

National Queer Arts Festival Various locations; see website for details, www.queerculturalcenter.org. Experience scandalously good spoken word, cabaret, art installations, and so much more as this powerhouse monthlong celebration of queer revelations continues.




Allstars 4 The Garage, 975 Howard, SF; (415) 518-1517, www.975howard.com. 8 p.m., $10-$20. An array of one-person shows and monologues that focus on the diversity and struggle of queer daily life.

Booty Call Q Bar, 456 Castro, SF; (415) 626-7220, www.qbarsf.com. 9p.m., $3. Juanita More, Joshua J, and photographers whip up dirty tunes and photobooth eye-candy, with DJ W, Jeremy of House of Stank.

HomoEvolution El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; (415) 282-3325, www.elriosf.com. 8p.m., free. LGBT hip-hop showcase in full effect, with Foxxjazell, Bry’Nt, Benni E, Drew Mason, and Sgt. Sass.

Mary Go Round LookOut, 3600 16th St, SF; (415) 431-3111, www.lookoutsf.com. 10 p.m., $5. House of Glitterati invades the weekly drag show, anchored by Suppositori Spelling, Cookie Dough, and Pollo Del Mar.

OH! Powerhouse, 1347 Folsom, SF; (415) 552-8689, www.powerhouse-sf.com. The Bright Young Gentlemen’s Adventuring Society cordially invites you to get it on. With DJs Taco Tuesday and PDX hottie Stormy.

Pullin’ Pork for Pride Pilsner Inn, 225 Church, SF; (415) 621-7058. 6 p.m.–9 p.m. free. Hot pork in hot buns (free sandwiches from the Funk N Chunk crew, we mean). It’s the Guardian’s annual free-for-all shindig with DJ Stanley Frank of Vienetta Discotheque, games, surprises, more.

Radar: Old School 3 San Francisco Public Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin, SF; (415) 557-4400, www.radarproductions.org. SF’s top writers reimagine the lives and legacies of queers gone by. With Justin Chin, Len Plass, Cyd Nova, and more.



A Spot of T African American Arts and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton, SF; www.queerculturalcenter.org. 8 p.m., $12–$20. Original Plumbing brings on an all-transmale cabaret extravaganza with Chris Vargas, Berlin Reed, Ketch Wehr, Glenn Marla, and more.

Bad Reputation Lexington Club, 3464 19th St., SF; (415) 863-2052, www.lexingtonclub.com. 9 p.m., free. The sexy Lex’s infamous Pride kick-off, with DJs Jenna Riot and Dee Dee Crocodile, go-gos, drink specials. Oh, and smokin’ hot grrrls.

Bedtime Stories A Different Light, 498 Castro, SF; (415) 431-0891, www.adlbooks.com. 7:30 p.m., free. Fabio, oh, Fabio? Erotic gay romance author G.A. Hauser steams up the windows of A Different Light.

Carletta Sue Kay, Brent James, Pepperspray The Eagle, 398 12th St., SF. (415) 626-0880, www.sfeagle.com. 10 p.m., $5. Faggotty rock time. A screwed-up Appalachian-ish crooner, a naughty country high-flyer, and four heavy metal drag queens take over the Eagle. What’s not to love?

Gold Queers in the Night 111 Minna, SF; (415) 974-1719, www.111minnagallery.com. 9 p.m., $7. The Stay Gold and Hella Gay crews team up with Blood, Sweat, and Queers for an epic night of youthful, sweaty jams in the indie dance vein.

Gretchen Phillips and Phranc El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; (415) 282-3325, www.elriosf.com. 8 p.m., $8–$15. Texan Phillips and “all–American, Jewish, lesbian folksinger” Phranc bring the Sapphic sounds.

Marga Gomez is Proud and Bothered New Conservatory Theater, 25 Van Ness, SF; (415) 861-4914, www.nctcsf.org. 8 p.m., $28 advance. Also Sat/26. The hilarious lesbian Latina queen of comedy takes a sharp-shootin’ walk of shame through her not-so-Prideful past.

Nightlife California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse, SF; (415) 379-5128, www.calacademy.org. 6 p.m.-10 p.m., $8–$10. Get thee to the awesome museum for tunes by Juanita More!, LadyHouse, and Stanley Frank, plus Sex Talk with Jane Tollini, and, of course, live penguins.

Queer Radicals New Valencia Hall, 625 Larkin, SF; (415) 864-1278. 7p.m., free (summer buffet for $7.50). A panel of queer and transgender activists discusses how to build a militant movement for LGBT liberation.

The Sound of Fabulous Mission High School, 3750 18th St., SF: www.sfprideconcert.org. 8 p.m., $15–$40. Also Fri/25. The Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco celebrates 30 years of, yes, fabulous, joining forces with the Gay Men’s Chorus, and the Freedom Marching Band for some “out loud and proud.”

Sybaritic Cougars with Ecosexual Tendencies Good Vibrations Polk, 1620 Polk, SF; (415) 345-0400, www.goodvibes.com. 6 p.m.–8 p.m., free. Sex-positive activists Annie Sprinkle and partner Beth Stephens host a retrospective of their Love Art Lab series.

The Tubesteak Connection Aunt Charlie’s, 133 Turk, SF; (415) 441-2922, www.auntcharlieslounge.com. 10 p.m., $4. A sticky, finger-lickin’, Hi-NRG hijinks tribute to bathhouse disco and funk rarities, swarthy clones, and outfits Grace Jones would die for. With DJ Bus Station John.



Art Attack Pride Supperclub, 657 Harrison, SF; (415) 348-0900, www.supperclub.com. 9 p.m., $20. Video artist III paints the club fuchsia for DJ Lady Kier of Deee-Lite, the return of drag-rock amazers Pepperspray, and LA mesh-wonder Fade-Dra.

Bearracuda Pride DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., SF; (415) 626-2532, www.dnalounge.com. 9 p.m.-late. $20. Two floors of beard rubs, belly bumps, fur fun, and hairy hijinks as the city’s wild bear club goes big. DJ Ted Eiel heads up.

Bibi Gay Middle Eastern Mega Pride Party Paradise, 1501 Folsom, SF; (415) 252-5018, www.paradisesf.com. 9 p.m., $15. One of the most-anticipated parties of the season, with DJs Nile, Nadar, and Cheon delving into global sounds for a hip-shaking, ululating crowd of all stripes. Hookahs! Hotties! Bellydancers!

Folsom Friday Various SoMa venues, www.folsomfriday.com. 10 p.m.–2 a.m., free. Shuttles run down Folsom Street all night for a sleazy-fun bar crawl in SF’s other mecca for queer venues, including Truck, Chaps, Powerhouse, Blow Buddies, Lone Star, Mr. S, and Off Ramp Leathers.

MR. Mighty, 119 Utah, SF; (415) 626-7001, www.mighty119.com. 8 p.m.–4 a.m. $15. Break out your giant fake mustaches: NYC’s Larry Tee and our own house hero David Harness rock all night at this annual campy hoot. Yes, there’ll be a hot ‘stache (and ‘stache-riding?) contest.

San Francisco Trans March Dolores Park, Dolores and 18th St.; (415) 447-2774, www.transmarch.org. 3 p.m. stage, 7 p.m. march; free. Join the transgender community of San Francisco and beyond for a day of live performances, speeches, and not-so-military marching.

Some Thing Biggest Bestest Gayest Funnest Drag Show Sensation! Ever The Stud, 399 Ninth St., SF; (415) 863-6623, www.studsf.com. 9 p.m.–4 a.m., $10. Er, the name kind of says it all? The packed weekly club goes nuclear. VivvyAnne ForeverMore, Glamamore, Juanita More, Down-E, Diamond Daggers, Anna Conda &ldots; who’ll walk away with the mushroom cloud?

Original Plumbing presents Unofficial! Elbo Room, 647 Valencia, SF; (415) 552-7788, www.elbo.com. 9 p.m., $10. A party in honor of trans pride and visibility — plus, it’ll be a blast. Rocco Katastrophe and Jenna Riot host, DJs Chelsea Starr and 100 spokes spin, furry photo booth, trans slideshow, performances by Glenn Marla and Ice Cream Socialites.

Trans March 2010 Dolores Park, 17 Street and Dolores, SF. Rally at 3:30, march at 7 p.m.. www.transmarch.org. “United by Pride, United by Power” is the theme of this year’s inspiring event, with performances by the Transcendence Gospel Choir, Nori Herras, and a ton more..



Big Top vs. Trannyshack Club Eight, 1151 Folsom, SF; (415) 431-1151, www.eightsf.com. 9 p.m., $10 adv. Surely, it will be a circus when these two balls-out parties collide. Big Top brings the half-naked cockring-masters, Trannyshack brings the barkers. With DJ W. Jeremy. Midnight dragocalypse with Heklina, Ambrosia Salad, Miss Rahni, and more.

Blow Off Slim’s 333 11th St., SF. (415) 255-0333, www.slims-sf.com. 10pm, $15-$20. DJs Bob Mould (of Sugar) and Rich Morel spin the rock remixes for a packed crowd of large hairies, scruffy fairies, and their admirers. Get into it. 

Bootie: Lady Gaga vs. Madonna DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., SF; (415) 626-2532, www.dnalounge.com. Could it get any stereotypically gayer? Don’t worry, punkers, the Bootie mashup crew are here to subvert it into happy chaos. Huge drag show at midnight.

Chaser: The Imminent Return EndUp, 401 Sixth St., SF; (415) 896-1075, www.theendup.com. 5 p.m.–10 p.m., $10. Monistat lives! Her ass-whoopin’, drink-spillin’ drag club resurrects itself, with a full-on show of every insanely entertaining alternaqueen in the phonebook, apparently. Plus DJ Guy Ruben.

Cockblock Mega-Pride Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF; (415) 861-2011, www.rickshawstop.com. 9 p.m., $20-$25. Wild, wet, and more wild at this ecstatic, high-hoofin’ joint for lezzies, queers, and lovers. With DJs Nuxx and Motive and hot chicks galore.

Excuses for Skipping and Lauren DeRose Lexington Club, 3464 19th St., SF; (415) 863-2052, www.lexingtonclub.com. 3 p.m., free. Warm up for the Dyke March with these two live rockin’ acts.

Go Bang! Pride Edition Deco Lounge, 510 Larkin, SF; (415) 346-2025, www.decosf.com. 9 p.m.-after hours, $5. One of our cutest disco and house parties goes pink with DJs Jason Kendig, Marcelino Andrade, Sergio, and more. Expect to be turned out, put upside-down, and spun around.

Lights Down Low Pride Edition Triple Crown, 1760 Market, SF; (415) 863-3516, www.triplecrownsf.com. 8 p.m.–4 a.m., $15. The gonzo electro party delivers a worthy Pride blackout with DJs Larry Tee, Kim Ann Foxman, Saratonin from Brownies for my Bitches, Sleazemore, Derek Bobus, and more. Hosted by the Miss Honey kids and Davi.

LGBT Pride Celebration Civic Center, Carlton B. Goodlett Place and McAllister, SF; (415) 864-3733, www.sfpride.org. Noon–6 p.m., free. Celebrate LGBT pride at this free outdoor event featuring DJs, speakers, and live music. This is the first half of the weekend-long celebration sponsored by SF Pride, featuring hip-hop, a battle of the bands, and more.

LGBTQ History Bike Tour Meet at Cupid’s Arrow on the Embarcadero near the Ferry Building, SF; 2 p.m.–5 p.m., $5 donation. Get smart (and fit) for Pride on this eight-mile tour of queer history hotspots, ending up at the Dyke March.

Love and Happiness SOM, 2925 16th St., SF; (415) 558-8521, www.som-bar.com. 10 p.m.–4 a.m., $15. It’s a glorious old-school house reunion for the rainbow children, with David Harness and Ruben Mancias on decks, Robnoxious at the door, and Joseph Solis hosting.

Kiss Me Deadly Lexington Club, 3464 19th St., SF; (415) 863-2052, www.lexingtonclub.com. 9 p.m., free. After the Dyke March, cool off (most likely get hotter) with DJ Bunnystyle of Blood, Sweat, and Queers.

Mango After Dyke March Party El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; (415) 282-3325, www.elriosf.com. 8 p.m., $10/$15. Food, drink, dancing, and girls, girls, girls at this juicy ladies night.

Pink Pleasure Party Good Vibrations Valencia, 603 Valencia, SF; (415) 522-5460, www.goodvibes.com. 8–10p.m., free. Drop in, dyke out, gear up for a sensual Pride at this Good Vibes mix n’ mingle.

Pink Saturday Castro District, SF; www.thesisters.org. 6p.m.–midnight, donation requested, all ages. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence host their cuckoo annual outdoor event, featuring entertainment, beer, cocktails, food, and, duh, cruising galore.

Pink Triangle Installation Twin Peaks Vista, Twin Peaks Blvd parking area, SF; (415) 247-1100, ext 142, www.thepinktriangle.com. 7:30–10:30 a.m., free. Bring a hammer and your hunky work boots and help install the humongous pink triangle atop Twin Peaks for everyone to see. Volunteers needed! Do it!

San Francisco Dyke March Dolores Park, Dolores and 18th St., SF; www.dykemarch.org. Rally at 3 p.m.. March at 7 p.m.. Free. The one “do not miss” event of Pride, with tons of entertainment and speakers, impossibly sexy crowd, and a “Dyke Planet, Green Planet” theme.

Sundance Saloon Pride Dance Hotel Whitcomb, 1231 Market, SF; (415) 626-8000, www.sundancesaloon.org. 8 p.m., $10. Also Sun/27. Shine up your spurs for a country line-dance party that’ll put you in a hootin’ mood.



Body Rock Temple Bar, 600 Polk, SF; (415) 931-5196. 11 a.m.–6 p.m., 18+ free. Delightfully tawdry Miss Monistat queens it over this all-day dragstravaganza, featuring the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Mutha Chucka, Cher-A-Little, and others. With crazy beats from Electronic Music Bears, High Fantasy, and more.

Gay Shame Goth Cry-In Outside LGBT Center, 1800 Market, SF; www.gayshamesf.org. 2 p.m.–3:30 p.m., free. Protest and grieve the commercialization of Pride and the community – throw on your blackest black and let the tears roll.

Juanita MORE!’s Pride Party 2010 Kelly’s Mission Rock, 817 Terry Francois Blvd, SF; (415) 626-5355, www.juanitamore.com. 2 p.m.–2 a.m., $35. Pretty much the charitable Pride party of the year, flooded with cool kids, admirers, and the sounds of the mind-blowing Cougar Cadet Corps Drumline. DJs James Glass, Chelsea Starr, Kim Ann Foxman, and many more. Benefiting Bay Positives. Shuttles available from the Pride Celebration.

Les Beaux SOM, 2925 16th St., SF; (415) 558-8521, www.som-bar.com. 3 p.m.–9 p.m., $10. Don’t catch your breath after Pride, girls. Get beautiful with Cockblock’s DJ Nuxx and decks guests Sarah Delush and Rapid Fire.

LGBT Pride Celebration Civic Center, Carlton B. Goodlett Place and McCallister, SF; (415) 864-3733, www.sfpride.org. Noon–7 p.m., free. The celebration hits full stride, with a buttload of musical and dance performances and, truly, something for everyone. Don’t forget your sunscreen or little umbrella.

LGBT Pride Parade Market at Davis to Market and Eighth Sts, SF; (415) 864-3733, www.sfpride.org. 10:30 a.m.–noon, free. This 40th annual parade, with an expected draw of 500,000, is the highlight of the Pride Weekend in the city that defines queer culture.

Honey Pride Paradise, 1501 Folsom, SF; (415) 252-5018, www.paradisesf.com. 6 p.m.–2:30 a.m., $3. Legendary (actually) disco DJ Steve Fabus goes classic house on us, joining the regular Honey Soundsystem discaires for stylish specialness all around. $8 beer bust 6 p.m.-9 p.m..  

Queerly Beloved Pink Sunday Party El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; (415) 282-3325, www.elriosf.com. 3 p.m.–8 p.m., $5. Courtney Trouble and Tina Horn host this benefit for queerporn.tv. DJs Campbell and Venus in Furs, performers Alotta Boutte and Dexter James, kissing and kink booths, and dirty, sexy queers.  

Too Fast for Love Lexington Club, 3464 19th St., SF; (415) 863-2052, www.lexingtonclub.com. 9 p.m., free. “Shake it, fake it, take it” as DJ Campbell spins the dirty at this Pride after-affair.

25 ideas for our queer future


What does the future hold in store for us? In an age of mainstream assimilation and aspiration, is there even such a thing as the queer future? We asked 25 queer leaders, artists, and activists to offer visions in their areas of expertise. The results — philosophical, poetic, practical, and priceless — are inspiring. One thing’s for sure, we’ll never lose our creative spark. Nor will we lose our motivational zeal. Fate is for the lazy: take action now. (Marke B.)

>>Click here for ideas from our amazing 2010 Hot Pink List

>>Click here for our Pride listings, and get out there!

THE FUTURE OF QUEER ACTIVISM We need to take back the power and stop being led by what the other side is doing. We need to empower ourselves enough so that we are no longer reacting but acting. We must use online social networks the way we used the streets and bullhorns to show our strength, speak out against wrongdoing, change minds, and win back our rights. We also must unite with our allies in other communities that are underrepresented and maligned in much of the same ways we are. When we stand with one another, we have that much stronger a voice.

Kelly Rivera Hart is the founder of Poz Activists Network (pansf.blogspot.com).

THE FUTURE OF QUEER COMMUNITY The difference between straight and gay cultures seems to be breaking down more and more, which is one of our goals, but we still need to support our own businesses, nonprofits, and leaders. We need to continue interacting with each other in the real world and not lose sight of who we are and what we share. Despite how the rest of the world sees us, there is still a lot of loneliness and isolation in the queer community. I think many of us have forgotten even simple things, like how to make actual friends, not just online. And it’s so easy! Renewing that spirit of interaction, freeing ourselves from fear of judgment, and moving outside our “safe zone” can lead to the greatest rewards.

Mark Rhoades is a charitable event planner and fundraiser who throws the annual Cupid’s Back and City Hall Pride parties.

THE FUTURE OF QUEER FASHION The past decade has witnessed an obsession with bulky, voluminous silhouettes disguised as “futuristic avant-garde” and inspired by GaGa and the ’80s. Let’s move on. Through clean lines, elegance, and wearable pieces, the future of queer fashion will shine light on socially relevant issues like bottom shame, positive-negative status reinforcement, and elite subcultures by using gay textiles and forgotten, non-era-specific imagery.

Allán Herrera is the design head of fashion house Homo Atelier (www.homoatelier.com) and a founder of HomoChic (www.homochic.com).

THE FUTURE OF QUEER FILM Future queer film will depend on the gays being at the forefront of distribution technology in the same way we pioneered social networking 15 years ago, spreading provocative and sexually honest/explicit films beyond the film festival circuit and toward a global audience. Special attention must be paid to the creeping homophobia of cultural and technological juggernauts like Apple. Our stories will need to bust through the pigeonhole, weaving our traditional themes (AIDS, coming-of-age) into larger storylines that are relevant to multicultural and transcontinental viewers.

Leo Herrera is a video artist, filmmaker, and a founder of HomoChic (www.homochic.com).

THE FUTURE OF QUEER YOUTH To be a true leader, one must envision the future. The future is a diverse society where LGBTQQ youth are embraced for who they are and encouraged to be who they want to be. In my pursuit for LGBTQQ youth rights, leadership has been about fostering the awareness in LGBTQQ young people about their own power as individuals and as a group, supporting them to access, develop, and master the skills and knowledge they need to transform their power into action, and building bridges to opportunities where their action can create just communities.

Jodi Schwartz is the executive director of LYRIC Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (www.lyric.org).

THE FUTURE OF QUEER LABOR Storm of protest drives Congress to pass trans-inclusive ENDA! Support by labor unions critical to passage of this landmark legislation. Screaming, “We’re too queer for this bullshit!” workers hold drag-runway picket lines at transphobic companies across the country. Activists redefine the crisis of trans poverty and unemployment as the most critical queer civil rights issue of our time.

Bad hotel boycott forces Hyatt to sign a fair contract and treat their employees with respect. LGBTQ organizations rally with labor unions for immigration reform, hold signs reading “No borders on my cunt, no border on our countries!

Jane Martin is a queer labor activist and community organizer with SF Pride at Work (www.sfprideatwork.org).

THE FUTURE OF QUEER DRAG (PART ONE) My vision for the future of queer drag requires you to take a moment, stop, look, and listen to our past. We have such a rich history of fierce and amazing queens to learn from. The key is to get involved with a queer family that supports and loves you and what you do. Next, figure out your niche — whether it’s high drag or low camp, just be sure to always do it like you don’t need the money! Then pull it together and serve it up with lots of love and generosity. And, of course, top it all off with a fabulous wig!

Juanita More! (www.juanitamore.com) is the queen. Attend her boisterous Pride party on Sun/27 (see Pride listings), benefiting Bay Area Young Positives (www.baypositives.org).

THE FUTURE OF QUEER DRAG (PART TWO) Meg Whitman will become president of the United States and hire Lady Bunny as one of her speech writers. Oprah and Gayle will finally come out, and gender illusionist shows will dominate the OWN Network — every other channel will follow. In 2050, Heklina will clone herself, twice, and perform the hospital-convalescent home circuit as the Del Rubio Triplets. Apple will come out with a product called the iDrag, that transforms anyone into anything.

Fudgie Frottage is the king. He puts on the annual, wonderful SF Drag King Contest (www.sfdragkingcontest.com).

THE FUTURE OF QUEER DANCE FLOORS Lets start with a nice, clean piece of paper. Black paper. A clean slate. Say, for example, a deliriously rich and tasteful daddy were to buy the Stud. Step one: a deep, five-stage gay cleaning. Step two: gut the interior, maybe keep the bar and choo-choo train intact, they are cute. Otherwise keep it simple. Step three: install an exact copy of the sound system used by Dave Mancuso at the Loft parties in New York City. The tasteful daddy would have a matte gray private jet at our disposal to bring guests of our choosing. For the launch party we would have an all Kenny line-up: Kenny Dixon Jr., Kenny Hawkes, Kenny Carpenter, and Ken Collier (back from the dead) would DJ. Live PA by Kenny Bobien. Oh, and Kenny Kenny on the door. At the end, everyone would get together and cry like they do on those exploitative renovation reality shows. Daddy would miss the ribbon-cutting, but that’s OK — he sent flowers and bought an $80 Diptyque candle for the new bathroom. That would be a good start.

Honey Soundsystem is a future-past DJ collective. Catch the old-school house Honey Pride party on Sun/27 (see Pride listings).

THE FUTURE OF QUEER COMEDY The future is here. And now that gay marriage is mandatory for everyone, queer and straight, the same goes for comedy. All comedians, regardless of sexual orientation, are now required to do at least 75 percent queer comedy in their acts unless they obtain Permit No. 758219B through the Comedy Board, allowing for the special provision to do only 50 percent queer material. That’s right: comedy is now regulated by law. No jokes are allowed to have homophobic content, especially if you’re performing for tourists. Remember, you are ambassadors now. If you’re straight and have no queer material, just ask your aunt or your second cousin or your bachelor uncle whose best friend of 40 years, Bruce, comes to all the family functions.

Lisa Geduldig (www.koshercomedy.com) is a comic and MC who puts on such shows as Kung Pao Kosher Comedy, Funny Girlz, and Comedy Returns to El Rio!

THE FUTURE OF QUEER HOUSING It is beyond time for us queers to focus our fabulous and substantial God-given talents toward a vision of the future of queer housing. We are the trailblazers, the social entrepreneurs, the avant-garde. Imagining and creating the future is what we do best. Let’s put those substantial talents to work to realize our very own “No Place Like Home” dream of a home for our LGBT elders, our homeless LGBT youth, our people with HIV/AIDS, our artists, our activists, and everything in between. I’ll show you mine: the largest affordable housing for people with HIV/AIDS in the nation next to the Castro Theater and an LGBT homeless shelter at Geary and Polk. Now you show me yours.

Brian Basinger is the director of AIDS Housing Alliance/SF (www.ahasf.org).

THE FUTURE OF QUEER COMICS The future of LGBT comics will be about creators moving out of the traditional queer media ghetto and into new digital undergrounds, indie markets, and even the publishing mainstream. Web comics, graphic novels, minicomics, and zines … Queer comics will have to continue to diversify their formats to survive. At the core, though, remains the need to tell good stories! Look for more poignant narratives about the intersection of queer identities and the human condition. Also, robo-dykes, super-powered trannies, bisexual Lotharios, and zombie fags!

Justin Hall, a queer and erotic comics artist, runs All Thumbs Press (www.allthumbspress.com).

THE FUTURE OF QUEER LAW We would like to see the law catch up with the reality of transgender lives. Your gender identity is an innate and deeply felt sense of who you are. Whether you feel male, female, both, or neither, we envision a future where your legal gender will be exclusively determined by you and not by doctors or lawyers. By respecting your autonomy and your ability to know yourselves better than anyone else, the law will finally reflect society at large. The law is not far from fully recognizing that fact of life, but there is still work to be done. So break out your queer legal briefs and join in the fight for transgender civil rights!

Executive Director Masen Davis and the staff of the Transgender Law Center (www.transgenderlawcenter.org)

THE FUTURE OF QUEER SPIRIT As I look toward the future, I want to see the consciousness shift that Harry Hay and other gay pioneers were pushing for manifest itself more fully in both the gay culture and the larger hetero culture. As queer liberationists, we’ve already taught the world that we are a people. I want to see us recognized as always having been a people. I want to see us given the opportunity to cocreate a new, more beautiful world. To paraphrase: what if there were no “faggots,” only master healers, teachers, shamans? I hope to see the end of shame.

Zac Benfield is the president of the radical faerie Church of Nomenus. Attend his “Woo 101 for Hipster Faggots” workshop, part of the Faetopia Festival (See “Ongoing” in our Pride listings)


The alien scientist pipettes liquid
Into a flask to be shaken vigorously.
The origins of gay life.

On Earth, planets align, exposing
Realities once thought to be utterly impossible:
Gays are outta this world!

Queer scientists make the future
Always brighter, cleaner, sexier, and more fabulous
Stopping only for a cocktail.

Quietly, the gay scientist works,
Inching closer to the final answer that
Will change the world forever.

In the future of science
We see the world with different eyes,
All judged by ability alone.

Chris Waddling is a PhD scientist at UCSF.

THE FUTURE OF THE QUEER PAST The future of the queer past has always been fragile — and despite some positive developments in the past 25 years, it remains fragile today. The legacy of LGBT people is still largely invisible in the settings where our society formalizes its history. Our stories are rarely told in high school classrooms, in the galleries of museums, on the plaques of public monuments. Supporting the efforts and the growth of such organizations as the GLBT Historical Society and other pioneering queer history institutions will be key to ensuring that the memory of LGBT lives, struggles, setbacks, and triumphs can inform and inspire future generations.

Writer, editor, and antiquarian book dealer Gerard Koskovich is a founding member of the GLBT Historical Society and a member of the board of directors of the Mémorial de la Déportation Homosexuelle, a French national group that commemorates the homosexual victims of the Nazis.

THE FUTURE OF THE QUEER FUTURE My future selves are always popping back from the year 2023 or 2034 for the weekend, mostly because they know I’ll be their sex slave. They remember what 2010-me was like. (And apparently in the mid-2020s, time-traveling self-flagellation becomes a big fetish.) They’re not supposed to tell me anything about The Future, but they let slip wee details here and there — the 20-teens are a troubling time, but then we discover queer telepathy, and everybody starts secreting empathy endorphins and building communal gardens in the upper atmosphere. Hang in there until we get the first queer president, they always say. Once she comes out during her second term, that’s when the government really starts building something.

Charlie Anders is the managing editor of science fiction-forward site io9.com



Each year for Pride season, we highlight members of the Bay Area LGBTQ community who turn our heads, inspire us, and make us feel proud. Here’s this year’s list, with their ideas for the queer future. To read more visionary thoughts from queer artists, leaders, and activists on what lies ahead for the community, click here. For our Pride listings, where you can catch many of the folks below in action, click here. (Marke B.)

Catch Courtney’s red-hot Queerly Beloved after-Pride party on Sun/27 (see our Pride listings for info.)

Check out our Pride listings for more info about all the Original Plumbing events!

Go … Germany?



CHEAP EATS Everyone assumes that because I love to play soccer, I’m interested in the World Cup. Rather than contradict them, I have become interested in the World Cup. How is that for flexing one’s codependency?

At first I merely feigned interest, but then the feigning turned into affectation, then adoption, and now I find myself legitimately, actually, gut-wrenchingly interested — albeit by accident.

Unlike a lot of people, I don’t care who the hell wins. I could probably root for Brazil, since that’s who most of my soccer buds back (I play on a team of Brazilians). I could get away with rooting for Italy, the defending World Cup champions, because that’s the flavor of the blood that I have, and, on the third hand, never in my life have I felt more patriotically-inclined, God bless America, given my recent failed attempt at expatriation. Plus I love an underdog.

But my capacity for love is temporarily out of service, thanks to a certain German person who absolutely, positively, and very very stroppishly hates soccer — not the sport so much as the hoopla. Or, in other words, go Germany!!!

May the streets of that fine, fucked country be filled with whooping fans, national songs, shouts, bells, whistles, shenaniganism, hooliganism, and general mayhem. May the peace be disturbed! May it be impossible for writers to write there, and for lovers to love, and may the spirit of lowbrow, sports-related celebration annoy the living crap out of every stodgy old lady and artsy fartsy middle-aged loser couple in all of Bavaria, in particular, the old-town district of Regensburg. Mwa-ha-ha-ha.

You thought I was going to go against the Germans, didn’t you? I thought I was too. I still do feel, or at least hope, that passion will win out over discipline on at least some playing fields, such as soccer ones. That’s why, while German national teams tend to do well, Brazil and Italy win more World Cups.

Nevertheless: Go Germany!

I tried to watch their first game at the closest Irish pub to my house, the Phoenix, but it was way too crowded so I walked to Mission Street. All my many friends who had asked me about my interest in the World Cup, inciting my interest … I called all of them but nobody could join me, and this was on a weekend.

So my only friend was my appetite.

Perfect! I wound up at La Oaxaqueña, the little corner hole-in-the-wall at Mission and Clarion, near 17th Street. I’d eaten there once before. It’s good. But more to the point, they had a fuzzy little TV going up in the corner, and in sharp contrast to the Phoenix, there was nobody in the place.

Nobody at all, eating.

So I stayed and ate and tried to put up with the TV. The picture kept locking up and making temporarily cubist photography out of live sports, and the audio sounded like bees. I have since come to realize that all World Cup soccer matches sound like bees, but at the time I didn’t know this.

Anyway, I didn’t let it ruin my meal, which was fish cooked in coconut milk with ginger. Points for them for taking forever to cook it, even though I was, as I said, the only one there. They must have sensed I was in it for the television, and kindly made it easy for me to nurse my way through as much of the second half as it was possible to watch.

The fish was great, the rice and the beans were fine, and the Australians played like chickens with their heads cut off. It started to look like Germany had one extra player out there. Which they did, one of the headless chickens having gone and gotten hisself red-carded.

Come to think of it, I don’t remember Germany ever even committing a foul, which reminds me of how nobody ever even jaywalks there. Not even in the middle of the night.

Christ, it’s going to be hard to root for a team like that.


Daily: 6 a.m.–2 a.m.

2128 Mission, SF

(415) 621-5446


Beer and wine


How SF can get $50 million a year from PG&E


EDITORIAL Sup. John Avalos, who chairs the Budget Committee, is looking for ways to bring another $100 million into the city’s coffers this year. There’s a hotel tax initiative headed for the fall ballot. He’s talking about an increase in the real-estate transfer tax for high-end properties. And he and his colleagues are looking into a tax on commercial rents.

Those are all valid ideas. But there’s another way the city can bring in as much as $50 million more a year — without raising anyone’s taxes. It just involves increasing the franchise fee Pacific Gas and Electric Co. pays to the city.

PG&E uses the city’s streets and rights-of-way to run its gas lines and electricity cables; the company doesn’t pay rent for that space. Instead, it pays an annual franchise fee to the city, a percentage of its gross sales. Other utilities pay, too — Comcast, for example, pays 5 percent of its gross to San Francisco every year for its cable-TV franchise.
PG&E pays 0.05 percent for electricity sales, and 1 percent for natural gas.

That deal was reached in 1939. The Board of Supervisors back then gave PG&E the lowest franchise fee in California, a pittance, a fraction of what other cities and counties charge — and the contract has no expiration date. It’s a perpetual deal, something highly unusual.

Sup. Ross Mirkarimi wants to open up the 72-year-old contract for renegotiation and raise the fee significantly. It seems like a perfectly reasonable idea — Berkeley charges PG&E 5 percent for electricity. San Diego charges 3.5 percent. If the city is desperately scrambling for money to close the budget gap, why are we leaving so many millions on the table?

The numbers are big. In 2008, according to the Controller’s Office, PG&E paid San Francisco $3.5 million for electricity sales and $3.16 million for gas. If the city raised both fees to the level that cable TV providers pay, the general fund would pick up another $50 million.

It seems crazy that a franchise deal signed seven decades ago, by a board that was in PG&E’s pocket, should tie the hands of elected officials today. Most legislative bodies have rules barring any laws that would tie the hands of future legislators forever.

It’s particularly ironic for this to happen in the only city in the United States that is mandated by federal law (the Raker Act) to run a public power system.

But according to City Attorney Dennis Herrera, raising the fee would be very difficult; California law allows perpetual utility franchises. If Herrera is right (and no city attorney has ever been willing to challenge PG&E on this), then the state Legislature needs to act.

One idea from Mirkarimi’s office: simply mandate that all perpetual utility franchises increase every year by the cost of living index, up to a maximum of, say, 5 percent. If all the years since 1939 were counted, the city would be at the max today.

An even simpler option: the state could outlaw perpetual franchise deals — something that should have been done years ago — and mandate that all existing deals expire on, say, Jan. 1, 2011. That would give San Francisco six months to negotiate a new deal with PG&E, and the money from that deal would save a lot of city services.

Both Assembly Member Tom Ammiano and state Sen. Mark Leno have expressed interest in a bill that would open up San Francisco’s franchise fee, and both told us that they’re looking into it. Leno already has a bill barring PG&E from using ratepayer money on political campaigns; potentially, a franchise fee amendment could be added to it. The deadline for introducing bills for this session has already passed, so it would be a little tricky to find a way to change state law in the next few months. But it’s worth a try: there’s never been a time when PG&E was less popular in Sacramento. The company violated its own agreement with the Legislature, promising to support the law authorizing local community choice aggregation systems then turned around and spent nearly $50 million to overturn it.

Leno and Ammiano should pursue a bill as soon as possible to get rid of one of the great scandals in city history, a sweetheart deal in 1939 that has saved PG&E billions and cost the city dearly.

In defense of Bay to Breakers


By Conor Johnston

OPINION An op-ed piece in the June 9 issue of Guardian (“When the rich can sit on the sidewalks“) was the latest in a rash of negative media stories about Bay to Breakers. I am not going to respond to that article specifically, except to thank the Guardian for giving us equal time.

For 99 years, Bay to Breakers has been lifting the city’s spirits, bringing fun, tax revenue, millions of tourism dollars, and nationwide attention to San Francisco. If ever we needed those things, it’s now, when we have record deficits, 47,000 people out of work, and may lose the football team that is named after us.

So let’s set the record straight.

Bay to Breakers does not cost taxpayers a dime. The event pays for all costs, including cleanup. And the permit fees and tourism generate tax revenue. ING probably dropped its sponsorship for reasons unrelated to B2B. Sponsors come and go. B2B will find another. Bay to Breakers is a financial boon for San Francisco. The event attracts thousands of people to the city; 49 of 50 states were represented by participants in 2008. The average tourist spends $505 in the local economy. Bay to Breakers is and always has been peaceful. There were fewer than five arrests reported this year. I have never seen a fight at B2B, not once, in seven years. Bay to Breakers remains enormously popular. There are about 100,000 participants and spectators, including many world-class runners.

This said, there are problems at B2B, namely public urination and the overall impact on the neighborhoods. We absolutely acknowledge that. But unlike the critics, we still believe in this city’s ability to solve problems.

How do we do it? Not with prohibitions — they are a retreat, not a policy. Sound policy takes effort, collaboration, and commitment. Let’s get the stakeholders together — neighborhood groups, race organizers, race supporters, SFPD, and city officials — and create a plan to protect the neighborhoods while preserving the race’s spirit.

Our group, Citizens for the Preservation of Bay2Breakers, is committing to raise money for 100 additional multiperson urinals and to leading the cultural campaign for more responsibility among participants. And we have other ideas:

Ticket people who urinate on or disturb private property.

Rent more toilets.

Implement multiperson urinals, which are six times more efficient and are one-third of the cost per user.

Improve the barricades to keep participants on course.

Increase revenue with a tiered registration for non-runners.

Host an event in the park that attracts participants out of the neighborhoods sooner.

I see in Bay to Breakers a celebration of what it means to be San Francisco, to be capable, to be unafraid of free expression and unapologetic of diversity.

I see world-class runners lined up next to 30-somethings in Elvis costumes. I see convalescent patients lining the sidewalk, smiling and taking pictures with Rambo and Cinderella. I see mothers pushing costumed babies. I see 100,000 happy faces. But most of all, I see a century-old civic institution that is worth fighting for. *

Conor Johnston is co-chair of Citizens for the Preservation of Bay2Breakers and a resident of District 5.

Editor’s Notes



The official theme for Pride this year is “40 and Fabulous.” So let’s all grab an organic cocktail and strap ourselves in for a good ol’-fashioned midlife crisis!

Some of us have already had some practice. Many gays long ago traded in cracked and hectoring first wife Madonna for trophy floozy Lady Gaga, raced around town in those sleek Miata MX-5 convertibles, and reached for the HyperGain. (Don’t get me started on lesbians and Justin Bieber here.)

But for queers of a more radical bent, it’s an opportunity to take stock of the past and wonder about the future — despite the fact that 40 is the new 20, at least in online marketing campaigns. Branding, darling, branding.

Or maybe that’s boring. Yes, we could lament the commercialization of Pride and kvetch that all our resources have been poured into trying to secure property rights through state-sanctioned social contracts and the chance to invade the wrong country, causing the unnecessary deaths of thousands. We could be awestruck by the amazing power and inspiration of our queer youth, despite the fact that hundreds of them become homeless every year. We could honor and celebrate the heroism of our elders, even while they’re pushed to the margins and out of their apartments.

But doing all that means sitting on our collective asses. Isn’t the whole point of a midlife crisis to change everything before it’s too late? Maybe, due to political expediency and because it makes us more acceptable to society, we’ve allowed queerness to become defined as something we are, rather than something we do. I’m not saying many of us aren’t born “that way” (or denying the social legitimacy that fact, apparently, confers). But what the hell are we doing? Fine. We’re fabulous. Now let’s fix things.