Volume 44 Number 40

Appetite: Don’t forget to remember — Mission Beach Cafe


In the wake of last year’s closings, at the beginning of the year I began reflecting on those neighborhood spots or classic restaurants we often forget are there but don’t want to lose. From time to time, I share reviews of places we’d do well to re-visit… or get to for the first time. They might be receiving a fresh infusion of flavor from recent chef or menu changes, or remain noteworthy, despite floods of new openings and (over)hyped hot spots.

Mission Beach Cafe, aka MBC, a welcoming corner restaurant many go to for brunch or incredible baked goods and Blue Bottle coffee in the morning, has maintained a rare level of quality through a handful of chef changes. I am amazed at how delicious dinners here remain: from chef Thomas Martinez (see my 2009 review at The Perfect Spot) to heartwarming Pot Pie Tuesdays. For about six months, they’ve had a new chef, Trevor Ogden, who most recently worked at Umami, at the now defunct Frisson and with Stephanie Izzard in Chicago. Though young, like former Chef Martinez, there’s inventive maturity in Ogden’s work.

A recent visit yielded literally one pleasurable dish after the other:

– MBC has thankfully kept their killer flatbread of the day ($14) on the menu. Ogden prepared ours with a goat gouda infused with hops (yes, you heard right), layered with crisp corn, caramelized ramps, chicken and two pepper purees (red pepper and padron).

– One of the stand-outs in a stand-out meal, is tea-smoked albacore tuna ($14) topped with quail eggs, caviar, chili creme fraiche and dotted with crispy lemon-saffron risotto. A visual work of art and a lightly seductive pleasure to the palate.

– Mixed baby lettuces ($10) are shaped into bowl cupping mounds of avocado, red spring onions, toybox tomatoes, herbed tofu and walnuts in a creamy cabernet vinaigrette.

Artful smokes and grilled Hodo tofu

– I’m so not a vegetarian, but one of two vegetarian entrees was a favorite of mine: smoked and grilled Hodo tofu ($17) is in good company with zucchini, toybox summer squash, eggplant, grilled corn and forbidden black rice. A little sweet comes in the form of strawberries and strawberry rhubarb glaze.

– Organic pork tenderloin ($23) is comforting with roasted German butterball potatoes, cipollini onions, baby carrots and sugar snap peas. But when it’s cooked in rosemary brown butter and drizzled with white peach pork jus, it’s downright luxurious.

– Pan-seared branzino ($25) arrives stacked over shaved fennel, summer squash and pea tendrils. The fish is delicate but the skin adds crisp and saltiness. Most addictive is the Vidalia onion/Yukon gold soubise and tomato-lemon verbena broth accenting the dish.

– Those truffle fries resting under shaved parmesan ($5) are as fabulous as they ever were.

– Alan Carter holds the crown of pastry chef extraordinaire and his pies ($6.50-7 a slice) are still mama’s home cooking and a long-awaited holiday rolled into one. It’s like coming home to his banana butterscotch cream or chocolate pecan pies, but I was especially entranced with my beloved rhubarb (thank you, summer!) in his strawberry rhubarb pie.

Alan Carter’s magnificent pies

I am happy to (continue) to say, do not forget to return to Mission Beach Cafe.

198 Guerrero Street (at 14th Street)
(415) 861-0198

I, in the sky


There’s a moment during You Think You Really Know Me, the 2005 documentary on 1970s Midwest cult artist Gary Wilson, when the filmmakers acknowledge that their subject is not necessarily as weird as his music. “I thought he would be a little bit more,” says Christina Bates, coowner of the defunct Motel Records, which reissued Wilson’s 1977 jazz-rock curio You Think You Really Know Me to much acclaim. Bates’ voice trails off. “He’s really in complete control of his image.”

The same could be said of Ariel “Pink” Rosenberg. The Los Angeles musician follows a long tradition of outsiders whose recordings invite speculation on their mental stability, from enigmatic recluses such as Wilson to the late (and rumored schizophrenic) Syd Barrett. But, as Ariel Pink summarizes during a phone conversation, “I’ve never been in the closet, by myself or reclusive like everyone says. That’s a myth.”

Ariel Pink’s releases — which he began recording and issuing as CD-Rs in the late ’90s, moving to Animal Colllective’s Paw Tracks imprint with 2003’s The Doldrums — sound like a melting brain. Heartbreakingly melodic keyboard tones float around like smoke from burning embers. The songs — including “For Kate I Wait” from Doldrums, which became a college radio novelty hit — barely hang onto verse-chorus structure, and Pink’s muttered ramblings unveil feelings of warped alienation and deep melancholy.

Often issued under the “Haunted Graffiti” rubric, Pink’s aberrant synth-pop has proved influential on younger musicians, many of whom have been lumped under the semi-mocking hipster term “chillwave.” But while Neon Indian and Toro y Moi tap into the cultural zeitgeist via krushed grooves and distorted vocals, their overall tone is cool and distant, suggesting a familiar kind of postadolescent anomie. In contrast, Ariel Pink guffaws, grunts, lilts in a cooing voice reminiscent of a whining dog, and shouts nonsense lyrics, all in pursuit of a song’s emotional center. “I’m a necro-romantic! I’ll be suckin’ your blood!” he riffs on “Fright Night (Nevermore),” a track from his recent, excellent Before Today, evoking dewy memories of richly ambiguous ’80s horror flicks and John Carpenter soundtracks.

Perhaps music fans and critics occasionally call Ariel Pink a savant because he’s unafraid to look foolish. His interviews have teased and strained against that perception. “I have something to do with it, too,” he admits. “I open my mouth and say things, and certain things make it to posterity, and make it to Wikipedia, and people think they’re doing their research when they read Wikipedia. So a lot of misconceptions get repeated.”

During the interview, Pink strikes a professional tone, saying that he’s grateful to be signed to 4AD (a subsidiary of major indie conglomerate Beggars Group) after years of struggling as an indie artist. 4AD booked him on an international tour for Before Today, which reached stores in June; and he calls from Plano B, a nightclub in Porto, Portugal where he and his backing band, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, are setting up to perform. The long-distance connection leads to frequent shouts of “Huh? I can’t hear you, dude.”

Before Today marks a new, post-bedroom phase for Ariel Pink. Recorded with his band, songs like “L’estat (acc. to the widow’s maid)” and “Bright Lit Blue Skies” benefit from the type of sharply navigated time changes and vivid instrumental colors that can’t be realized through bedroom production techniques. Meanwhile, “Reminiscences,” an easygoing lounge number, draws inspiration from Ethiopian singer Yeshimebet Dubale. “Arguably the most famous type of song form in Ethiopia is tizita, the song of nostalgia and remembrances,” Pink explains.

Ariel Pink admits that past live performances were often chaotic and uninspired affairs where “I didn’t care about anything and just thought about me. That didn’t get me very far.” Musicians shuffled in and out of Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, adding to the instability. He’s cautiously optimistic about the prospects for his current lineup, which features Tim Koh, Kenny Gilmore, Joe Kennedy, and Aaron Sperske. “I don’t know how long the current incarnation will be around for — we’ve only been together two weeks,” he says, noting that Kennedy just joined the group. “I’m always trying to get a bunch of guys to stay with me.”

After years spent mostly working alone, Pink welcomes the challenge of learning to perform with — and lead — others. “Ultimately it’s more fulfilling for me. It’s no fun doing it alone! Seriously, it’s boring as fuck.”


With Magic Kids, Pearl Harbour

Sat/10, 9 p.m., $15

Bimbo’s 365 Club

1025 Columbus, SF

(877) 4FL-YTIX


RENE CAZENAVE, 1941-2010


Rene M. Cazenave died at home June 27 in the company of his wife, Sylvie, and sister, Denise. He is also survived by his son, Lucien, and two-week-old granddaughter, Drew. He was 69.

A native San Franciscan, Rene was instrumental in the creation of the community empowerment movement in the city from its modern inception in the 1970s. He was at the center of community politics for nearly 40 years. He was a key member of Citizens for Representative Government, the community-based coalition that devised and successfully campaigned for district election of supervisors in 1977, a move that led to the election of the first directly elected African American, Chinese American, and gay supervisors. He helped organize and found the Council of Community Housing Organizations, a coalition of faith- and community-based nonprofits that produce permanently affordable housing. Over the past 30 years, members of the group have developed or acquired and rehabilitated some 25,000 affordable homes and apartments in one of the most expensive housing markets in the U.S. He helped create and then save KPOO community radio. He loved his family, jazz, old San Franciscans (indeed, he became one himself), dogs and cats, and reading and debating history.

His dad, also Rene and also a native, spent his working life in newspapers, retiring as a Hearst Examiner editor. Rene learned from his dad — and mom, who was also a native — every parish, every street, every neighborhood, and every bar in San Francisco. He was invaluable to a movement centered on community organizing, but made up of folks who hailed from everywhere but San Francisco. He shared his knowledge of the city — and his love for the people of the city as well.

Rene’s special genius was in raising funds for the creation of a community controlled infrastructure, empowering residents of low-income neighborhoods in San Francisco. He was the master in the use of the federal Community Development Block Grants program (CDBG), and was an important part of a community effort to restructure the Redevelopment Agency, leading to the use of the agency’s tax-increment financing mechanism. At a conservative estimate, these two public sources — CDBG and tax increment financing — have poured more than $1 billion into low-income San Francisco communities since 1975. Thousands of lower- and fixed-income San Franciscans who didn’t even know Rene’s name found a home, got critical job training, played in a gym, ate a hot meal at a senior center, got treatment for an illness at a community clinic, and had an opportunity to vote for a supervisor who represented their interests as a result of his skillful and tireless advocacy.

Rene was a fully integrated political being. To an astounding degree, his moods were set by the politics of his city. He held a deep and unshakable belief in socialism and humanism. He was heartsick at the decline of working class San Francisco. But his depression and disappointment over political events never caused him to give up or give in. He loved the fight, he loved the action, and he worked harder than most to the very end.

We all know that we stand on the shoulders of giants. But every now and then we are lucky enough to actually stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them. Those of us who knew Rene Cazenave were that lucky. Services are pending.

Calvin Welch worked with Rene Cazenave for 39 years doing community organizing, advocacy, and politics together. He, along with hundreds of others, misses the hell out of him already.

Appetite: Rogue wines and hearty burgers


B3 — or B-cubed, as in “Bottles, Burgers and Bites” — should finally see the light of day on July 20 (call to confirm as this is the hoped-for grand opening). I had the privilege a couple months ago of being part of a test dinner for B3, which set up shop in the former Senses space on Valencia, redone in warm, neutral tones. I’m delighted to give you the preview scoop (see original details in The Perfect Spot), as I have been following this concept since inception.

Basically, B3 is part wine tasting spot, part full-service restaurant with a burger and sausage emphasis as well as a retail wine source. You taste wines as if you were at a tasting room (don’t call it a wine bar!) and can purchase what you’re tasting by the bottle or case at retail prices rather than at restaurant mark-up.

Rogue wines for days. Photo by Virginia Miller

Wine guys Johnny Gato and Ron Elder invested personal passion into a hand-selected list of affordable local bottles difficult to procure from small-production winemakers — most don’t even have a wine tasting facility. Many are influenced by Old World technique with modern interpretations. Just start talking to Gato and Elder and you’ll begin to discover all kinds of Wine Country gems you had no idea were there… not your typical California wines. Initially the focus will be Napa and Sonoma producers, but they eventually plan to showcase wines (roughly 50 on hand at any given time) from regions like Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, or Santa Barbara, with a goal to rotate wines monthly.

The wine aspect of B3 is called the Winemakers’ Speakeasy, an idea in development since 2008, referring to the underground status of the type of wines they want to share with the consumer… truly “small batch”, without wine tasting facilities, “by appointment” tours, or major distributors. In many cases, you wouldn’t be able to try the kind of wines served here unless you bought a bottle at one of the few restaurants or shops that carry them. They’re what Gato calls “rogue” or “punk rock” wines.

Through Gato, who has worked at Moussy’s and Bouchon in Napa, I’ve discovered incredible wineries such as Napa’s Forlorn Hope, bittersweetly named after the term used to describe the front line of soldiers in a high-risk military operation. I’m smitten with their floral, bright ‘08 La Gitana Torrontes, fabulously layered ‘07 Nacre Semillion, and ‘05 Gascony Cadets Petit Verdot. Then there’s Poem Cellars in Yountville, who’s wines are often sold out completely, particularly their light and spicy 2006 Tastevin Napa Valley Red (only 140 cases produced). Or Beaucanon’s ‘07 Cabernet Franc, Y. Rousseau’s ‘08 Russian River Valley Colombard and ‘08 ‘Milady’ Mount Veeder Chardonnay, Peripolli’s ‘06 Sauvignon Blanc. Just ask Gato, who has followed these wineries closely in his Napa years with a dream to bring them “on the road” to the general public, and he’ll tell you about the wine itself but also stories behind winemakers and wineries. Each glass becomes something personal, fascinating.

Chef Kevin Ahajanian, who worked with Gato at Bouchon, is keeping it solid with a burger and sausage menu. If the test dinner and initial menu is any indication, you won’t suffer on the food front. You can top your burger with everything from a fried Petaluma egg to Humboldt Fog cheese. There’s lush salads, like a B-Cubed cobb with chicken breast confit, bourbon brown sugar Hobbs bacon and Point Reyes blue cheese.

Yep, there’s some luscious salad in there, too. Photo by Virginia Miller

Or maybe you want a Boudin Noir (aka blood) sausage with choice of pineapple salsa, roasted apples, roasted red peppers or house slaw on top? Ahajanian doesn’t leave vegans and vegetarians out — there will be burgers for them. He has fun with the details, like making his own ketchup, blanching fresh-cut potatoes in rice bran oil, or serving sausages in buns layered with mashed potatoes. In a nod to all things local, dessert is Humphry Slocombe ice cream (including those addictive foie gras ice cream sandwiches), Mission Mini cupcakes or Recchiuti chocolates.

The B3 crew eventually plans to launch lunch and weekend brunch, becoming a go-to for wine lovers and a pre and post-shift source for industry types to stop in for a bite or drink. Though wine is clearly the focus, they’ll also offer six beers on tap, another 8-10 by the bottle. And with a twice nightly happy hour, it’s going to be an unusual wine and burger spot where you can meet lovingly-made, truly small batch wines… and even take them home with you.

Tue-Sun, 3pm-2am (wine happy hours: 3-6pm, 10pm-12am)
1152 Valencia, SF.
Reservations: should have Open Table reservations by opening date

alt.sex.column: Search that drug


Dear Readers:

Ah, flibanserin, we hardly knew ye.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee voted 10 to 1 on June 18 that flibanserin, 100 mg (Girosa; Boehringer Ingelheim), was not significantly better than placebo for hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). They also voted unanimously that the benefits did not compensate for its adverse effects. (Medscape, June 21)


Sometime last fall my friend Yvonne and I stood in front of a Sex Information class, systematically dismissing once-promising sex-enhancing drugs. This one works for men, but not for women;. this one doesn’t work at all; this one may work but causes vomiting and loss of consciousness. And there we left it, except for — what was that new one called again — flibanserin, a.k.a. Girosa! The next great hope for women suffering from hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSSD). “We’ll be back with an update,” we promised. “Hell, if we can get our hands on some we’ll even try it for you.”

What was new and intriguing about this one was that it purported to affect the emotions, via our old neurotransmitter friends dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Now that sounded promising.

To be fair, flibanserin did not in fact completely flunk the test, it just didn’t do well enough to impress a conservative (scientifically, not necessarily politically) voting panel at the FDA.

A clinical trial of flibanserin presented last year in 1,378 premenopausal women found that after 24 weeks, the frequency of satisfying sexual events increased significantly in women taking flibanserin 100 mg, from 2.8 at baseline to 4.5 at study end, compared with placebo, which was 2.7 at baseline and increased to 3.7 at the study end. Women taking flibanserin also demonstrated improved sexual desire vs. placebo as measured by a daily electronic diary and the Female Sexual Function Index desire domain.

I have to say, 4.5 vs. 3.7 “satisfying sexual events” per month for the placebo is not chopped liver. Then again, a well-marketed, completely physiologically inactive miracle sex pill, with plenty of anecdotal bolstering and a neat-o name and a very strong suggestion from a caring physician that this was the drug that would actually work better than anything out there and without any pesky vomiting and passing out even — it’s really most inconvenient that a campaign like that would be illegal as well as unethical. Not to mention short-lived — heads would roll when word got out.

I’m bummed, personally, to be denied another chance to offer myself up to science for your amusement and edification. Oh, and also that there’s still nothing out there for the millions of women who are, for whatever reason, just not feeling it.

Personally, I think those reasons include but go so far beyond biology and chemistry, into sociology, history, and politics … I hope you brought a magazine, it’s going to be a hell of a wait.



P.S. Viagra can totally work for some women, you know, just not on the self-reported dysfunction-sufferers studied

Email your questions to: andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com



FILM FESTIVAL Now in its seventh year, San Francisco’s Another Hole in the Head Film Festival aims to draw fans of fantastical and shocking cinema into the Roxie and Viz theaters for its slate of 32 films. Spanning horror, science fiction, and fantasy, Hole Head features films from Singapore to Serbia, including 10 flicks from Japan.

Despite this cultural eclecticism, there is one theme that seems to crop up throughout the program: homage. A surprising number of these films are primarily interested in referencing or commenting on formative genre pictures that came before.

Of course, such an approach to genre filmmaking need not be retrograde. When it works, as in the hilarious kaiju pastiche Death Kappa, there’s no question about why someone would want to both mock and commemorate the storied run of man-in-suit monster movies. Kappa brings out the humor in an already existing template, mixing shades of H.P. Lovecraft and E.T. (1982) with Japanese folklore but ultimately ending up in the same place: city-smashing mayhem.

Among the Japanese selections is an assortment of gore films, weird fantasy-action movies entirely predicated on opportunities for spouting blood. These often feel like they’re in dialogue with themselves, lampooning older forms but also riffing on their own ridiculousness. RoboGeisha plays like a live-action cartoon, where laws of logic and good taste don’t apply and the best way to deal with a terrorist is two tempura shrimp to the eyes. Not gory but similarly frenetic is shock auteur Takashi Miike’s latest, an unexpectedly light adaptation of a children’s anime series called Yatterman, which is literally a live-action cartoon as well as a 1970s throwback.

Sometimes, though, the tribute-obsession can seem like wallowing. Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre, blessed with an absurd title and the exotic appeal of being an Icelandic horror film, is basically a by-the-numbers slasher that retreads The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and others to the point that its shocks are predictable.

Many other subgenres are represented, from torture porn to luchador action, but one of the festival’s highlights dwells outside any such bracket. Japanese comedian Hitoshi Matsumoto’s metaphysical fantasy Symbol documents the travails of a man inexplicably trapped in a mysteriously interactive white room. It sometimes feels like a feature-length comedy sketch, governed by certain rules or patterns that drive its simple but ultimately cosmic plot. Constrained though it may be, it makes no concessions to genre and feels inspiringly new as a result.

Regardless of a few staid entries, such a forum for genre cinema is absolutely crucial, particularly on such an international scale. Even if we need another zombie reinterpretation like we need a hole in the head, Another Hole in the Head will hopefully be with us well into the future.


July 8–29, $11

Roxie, 3117 16th St, SF

Viz Cinema, New People, 1746 Post, SF



Ariel, part 2: Think Pink!


MUSIC Ladies and gentlemen, meet the real Ariel Pink.

The Los Angeles musician’s first few 2004-06 releases on Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks label were the stuff of indie water cooler infamy, but they also collected recordings (2002’s House Arrest and Lover Boy; 2003’s Worn Copy) that Pink had made years before. It wasn’t until early 2009 that the world had the chance to hear any new output from the notoriously mysterious musician.

Until then, the talk about Pink largely focused on how serious he was — or wasn’t. Built from lengthy experimentation and goofy gimmicks, such as drum noises made with his armpits, his lo-fi music wasn’t just a byproduct of bedroom recording, it was a reimagining of 1970s and ’80s radio jingles and easy listening sounds. Jingles are disposable by definition, yet anyone familiar with some from the ’70s has to admit they are designed to remain in your brain. They were touchstones for the young Pink, and through a love for them, he picked up a knack for great hooks and memorable choruses.

Catchy though they may be, the repetitive nature of Pink’s early songs nonetheless made some listeners wonder whether he was just monkeying about and marketing lo-fi weirdness to those with nostalgic impulses. A sweeping ballad that might mark a poignant moment in a Sunday night made-for-TV tearjerker, “For Kate I Wait” is one of the best songs from his 2004 debut The Doldrums (Paw Tracks). But the damn thing does not need to be over four minutes long, considering it consists of a single idea: sentences that rhyme with the title.

On Pink’s new album Before Today (4AD), he takes the leap to a larger label, drops a lot of the lo-fi scuzz and delivers smoothly succinct pop songs. The lo-fi isn’t gone completely, but it is refined. And while his vocals remain muddy and hidden behind other sounds, half the fun is guessing just what he’s going on about. You can’t take the weird out of a man, and Pink has spent too many years purposely being strange for Before Today to suddenly strip him of all idiosyncrasy. Keen-eared listeners will pick out stream-of-consciousness mutterings like “Make me maternal, fertile woman/Make me menstrual, menopause man/Rape me, castrate me, make me gay/Lady, I’m a lady from today” on “Menopause Man,” and while the tongue-in-cheek imagery conveys to listeners that Pink is still in on his own joke, the album really shines when he manages to play it straight.

The cover art for Before Today’s chief single “Round and Round” may sport a lovingly drawn image of a man french-kissing a dog, but the track itself is so masterfully clean and structured that it transcends homage, becoming one of the year’s best songs. The gifted flair for a sound and a hook that made Pink’s early works so catchy is still there, but he switches up tempo and groove so many times that the composition never outstays its welcome despite its five-minute length. Likewise, “Can’t Hear My Eyes” is easy-listening heaven, with echoed vocals and sharp piano flourishes that recall the Alan Parsons Project’s more radio-friendly fare, like “I Wouldn’t Wanna Be Like You.” These particular songs stand out for their devotion to time and place, but all of Before Today is a sprawling run through the dollar bin at Amoeba Music, and Pink makes it his own by picking apart the best bits and reimagining 2010 as it might have been if Fleetwood Mac and Cherry Coke still ran the radio.

Pink is often casually tossed in the freak-folk category of knowing eccentrics, alongside the likes of Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom. Both Banhart and Newsom have recently taken a more classic approach to their respective crafts — to great success — while remaining true to their unique personalities. It’s likely that the freak-folk tag’s death and in turn these artist’s survival resides in the realization that weirdness doesn’t have to define you as an artist. Mark down 2010 as the year Pink decided to take his turn at bat, cutting the shit and showing the world Ariel Pink cooks with fire.

Riot awakening



FILM On the night of June 28, 1969, police embarked on what they thought would be a routine raid on a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village, the sleazy, Mafia-run Stonewall Inn. The ensuing three days of rioting — during which mostly young men and drag queens accustomed to being marginalized and hauled off to jail stood their ground and fought back — became what historian Lillian Faderman has called “the shot heard round the world” for LGBT activism: a spontaneous expression of street-level outrage that fueled the birth of a movement.

Kate Davis and David Heilbroner’s solid documentary Stonewall Uprising takes a “just the facts, ma’am” approach to this historic flashpoint that makes for an information-packed, if at times dry, 80 minutes. Working around the paucity of photographic documentation of the actual riots (itself a testament to the marginalization of homosexuality in the late 1960s), Davis and Heilbroner make extensive use of period news footage and photography, reenactments, and most important, the first-person testimonies of who those who witnessed and participated in what one interviewee terms “our Rosa Parks moment.”

And what damning facts they are. Stonewall Uprising is most effective in its first half, when it vividly conveys the demonization and oppression queers regularly faced at a time when homosexuality was illegal in every state except Illinois. In one excerpted clip from a 1966 CBS investigative report that I’m sure Mike Wallace would just as soon have stricken from the record, the news anchor states matter-of-factly: “The average homosexual, if there be such, is promiscuous.” In another clip, a Florida detective sternly warns a gym full of middle school students that should any of them act on their same-sex desires, “you will be caught.”

Davis and Heilbroner’s contextual groundwork is as impressive for its archival research as it is repetitive in its message: pre-Stonewall life was hell. The documentary becomes more nuanced as it zeros in on reconstructing the first night of rioting via eyewitness accounts. Howard Smith and Lucian Truscott IV, journalists for the Village Voice whose offices were nearby, remember fearing for their lives when they found themselves barricaded inside the bar with the police. But it is former police deputy Seymour Pine who emerges as the night’s unofficial antihero, having ordered his officers to hold their fire to prevent unnecessary bloodshed. Pine’s interview — as much a mea culpa as a performance of self-assurance by an elderly man that he is on the right side of history — is Stonewall Uprising‘s true revelation. 

STONEWALL UPRISING opens Fri/9 in Bay Area theaters.

Sicily unbound



FILM Francesco Rosi once remarked to an interviewer, “A film is always a testimony of the age in which it lives.” It’s one thing to recognize this as an incipient truth and quite another to enact it as a code of filmmaking. Rosi’s films from the 1960s and ’70s evince the common roots of aesthetic and ethic, exhibiting what can only be called an ardor for the analysis of social conditions — both their mechanisms and mentalities. Though still relatively unsung among the major Italian auteurs, of which he is certainly one, a career-spanning retrospective at the Pacific Film Archive makes the case for the writer-director’s staying power.

Rosi studied law at school and film with the Italian directors of the 1940s and ’50s. In his own early features, he placed additional demands upon the conventions of neorealism. Putting aside the tempting notion that the camera will discover a transcendent truth if only stripped of the artifices of professional actors and sets, Rosi’s films are concerned with inventing a public sphere for argument and questioning — this before the age of the Internet and 24-hour news.

Take Salvatore Giuliano (1961), his sophisticated dissembling of the tangled (and at that time recent) history of the eponymous gangster, a Robin Hood figure in the postwar Sicilian imagination who aided the area’s separatist movement. “He took from the rich and gave to the poor,” a local tells a bored reporter. When he finds out the newsman is from Rome, he adds, “What can you understand about Sicily?”

Rosi’s out-of-joint narration of events from before and after Giuliano’s death in 1950 takes at least a couple of viewings to puzzle together, and even then, much remains pointedly obscure. The film recalls Borges’ description of Citizen Kane (1941) as “a labyrinth without a center,” and, as such, contains an implicit disavowal of neorealist orthodoxy (if such a thing ever existed). If “reality” is transparent, why the confusing jumps in time? Why go to such lengths to keep Giuliano himself in the shadows? Why leave so much basic plot material unclear, from major events (the motivation behind Giuliano’s orchestration of a massacre of communists at Portella della Ginestro, for instance) to minor gestures (like when, at the end, one of Giuliano’s associates palms the bottle of medicine that has apparently just poisoned the bandit’s right-hand man)?

The answer has to do with Rosi’s desire to replace the “not knowing” of complacency with that of skepticism. The subject of the film is not Giuliano so much as the Sicilians who presume to know him. We begin with the bandit’s death, in Kane fashion, but even before the plot has insinuated a cover-up, Rosi visually undermines any easy sense of certitude. We watch the inspection of Giuliano’s prone corpse from several striking bird’s-eye-view shots, but soon discover these compositions are not as omniscient as we might first (complacently) assume. In fact, they represent the vantage point of the reporters hounding the carabinieri and citizens for a story quite separate from Rosi’s. Here the director insinuates how difficult it is to find your footing in the Sicilian situation. Taking aim at collusion, he formally imbricates us in its grip.

Rosi’s neorealism is one of provocation. He obsessively stages recent history in the actual locations in which it unfolded, employing eyewitnesses as themselves. Testimony is activated, not relegated to incidental afterthought. Even in later, more traditionally allegorical films like Three Brothers (1981), in which Rosi seems to move toward seeing political discourses as being channeled and contained by subjective experience, his visual and narrative designs mirror the macro controls at work in complex social systems. Watching Rosi’s work, we realize that the news lives inside us, whether we like it or not.


July 8-Aug 28, $5.50–$9.50

Pacific Film Archive

2575 Bancroft, Berk.

(510) 642-5249


We are family



>>Read Louis Peitzman’s complete interview with director Lisa Chodolenko here

FILM In many ways, The Kids Are All Right is a straightforward family dramedy: it’s about parents trying to do what’s best for their children and struggling to keep their relationship together. But it’s also a film in which Jules (Julianne Moore) goes down on Nic (Annette Bening) while they’re watching gay porn.

“I think we tried and I think we were somewhat successful in making it so that you don’t realize exactly what you’re watching, the subversiveness of what you’re seeing,” says writer-director Lisa Cholodenko (1998’s High Art). “I think we figured out a way for people to enter it, and that was really important for us.”

That blend between mainstream and queer is part of what makes The Kids Are All Right such an important — not to mention enjoyable — film. Despite presenting issues that might be contentious to large portions of the country, the movie maintains an approachability that’s often lacking in queer cinema.

“I thought it was a very classic story,” Bening says, “other than that the women are gay.”

Cholodenko and Bening were both on hand in San Francisco to promote and speak about the film. Of course, being in the gay mecca of the Bay Area skews things significantly — most locals wouldn’t bat an eye at The Kids Are All Right, which has Nic and Jules’ children inviting their biological father (“the sperm donor”) into their lives. But for those outside the liberal bubble, the idea of a nontraditional family might be more problematic. Combine that with the film’s semiexplicit sexual content and a darkly comic, matter-of-fact script, and you’ve got a tougher sell.

“There were questions about the gay porn and about how much sexuality we were showing, but we felt like this is the fun of the film,” Cholodenko reflects. “It’s not going to be a multiplex film. But we hope it’s not going to be super-rarefied art house film.”

The fun Cholodenko mentions is the real strength of The Kids Are All Right, a movie that refuses to take itself too seriously. At its best, the film is laugh-out-loud funny, handling the heaviest of issues with grace and humor.

“To me, [the humor] is so important — and it’s harder,” Bening says. “That’s why more movies don’t have it. It’s because it’s harder. It’s much easier to write in an earnest way.”

That’s not to say that the film is insincere. Much of the humor is derived from the fact that it’s grounded in reality. The characters respond to their situation as real people do — and that’s far funnier than the broad, over-the-top reactions that often plague more mainstream comedies.

“We were really passionate about making it not politically correct and not sanctimonious,” Cholodenko explains. “As we went deeper into the drafts and moved along in the evolution of getting the film done, I really, really, really pushed for us to take whatever was potentially funny in there and just kick it up a notch.”

Besides — as Bening puts it — “I think if you’re trying to make an earnest movie about a lesbian couple with teenagers, whoa, what a nightmare that would be.” It’s not a message movie, but The Kids Are All Right may still change minds. And even if it doesn’t, the film is a success that works chiefly because it isn’t heavy-handed.

“It doesn’t ever have to go out and carry the banner, which is what great movies and great stories can do,” Bening notes. “You take an individual group of people, a specific little pod of people, and you try to tell their own personal stories as specifically as possible. Hopefully you get at something true and universal by doing that.”

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT opens Fri/9 in San Francisco.

Osteria Stellina



DINE If you think food Valhalla is the Ferry Building, you haven’t been to Point Reyes Station lately. The Ferry Building is just a building full of food — a nice building with interesting food, I concede — whereas Point Reyes Station is basically a village consecrated to food, Foodville USA. It’s full of produce markets, butchers, bakeries, creameries, and restaurants, seemingly to the exclusion of everything else. The village, which sits on Highway 1 near the foot of Tomales Bay in the far west of Marin County, is just a few blocks’ square, but those blocks are chockablock with people wandering on foot from one little food heaven to the next.

If Marin County doesn’t make my list of favorite places, it’s mainly because of the dense population corridor along U.S. 101 in the east. To the west, though, beyond the Mercedes-clogged tracts of Fairfax and San Anselmo, the land relaxes into open, rolling country plied by cyclists and dotted with stands of oak trees and boutique agricultural concerns, many carrying the “Marin Organic” label. And the capital of this peaceable (if kingless) kingdom is Point Reyes Station.

Given the bucolic setting, I was a little surprised to step into Osteria Stellina, one of the newer and most heralded restaurants, and find myself in a rather plain gunmetal-gray dining room. It was like being in the officers’ mess on a battleship. Gray is a nice color for flannel suits, but on the walls of a restaurant — a restaurant, moreover, serving a Cal-Ital menu that bursts with flavor — it struck me as overcautious.

Still, the nautical hint isn’t entirely misplaced. Point Reyes Station was once a port, and nearby Tomales Bay produces a wealth of farmed oysters. Naturally, Osteria Stellina offers these (from Hog Island) raw, and also (from Drake’s Bay Family Farms) atop a pizza ($18). This was as improbable a home for oysters as I’ve ever come across, but it did work. It helped that the rest of the pie was liberally spread with leeks braised in cream (from neighboring Straus Creamery), lemon thyme, and parsley — a tasty, green-yellow paste like a less manic gremolata. A small downside: the paste made the crust slightly soggy.

Damp bread isn’t always a disaster. We were smitten with Stellina’s version of panzanella ($18), the salad whose key ingredient is stale bread, moistened with vinegar and proof that thrift need not be dull nor otherwise feel like deprivation. This panzanella was the kind the king might be served, if west Marin had a king; it was made with heirloom tomatoes and (non-stale but perhaps toasted) Brickmaiden sourdough bread and further fortified with shreds of local chicken, Point Reyes mozzarella, greens, olives, and a balsamic vinaigrette. Panzanella is irresistibly flavorful, easy to make and share, and wonderfully redolent of both summer and elegant frugality, and I wonder why we don’t see it offered more often on menus.

Another Italian favorite that seems underrepresented in this country is the combination of cannellini beans and tuna. At Stellina this dish ($13) was made with conserved tuna (which I supposed to have been poached in olive oil), and it took an additional charge from celery and organic baby fennel, along with lemon quarters to squeeze over the top.

Even something as unassuming as a grilled-cheese sandwich ($14) can become special if it’s made with superior bread and interesting cheeses (fontina and, from Valley Ford, Estero Gold) and plumped up with braised veal shanks and caramelized onions. A kind of osso buco sandwich.

Stellina’s desserts have an artisanal intensity. The strawberry “pop tarts” ($10), a pair of shortbread-like pastry squares wrapped around a layer of fruit preserves, were enhanced by a scoop of lemon-buttermilk ice cream. This dessert was a whimsical reimagining of a Saturday-morning breakfast favorite from the 1960s. The fig crisp ($10), on the other hand, was direct and powerful — mostly fruit (including some blackberries) with just enough pastry and ground almonds to give context through texture.

The wine list is neither too long nor too short, and it offers local and Italian wines at moderate prices. Organic house wines (sauvignon blanc and zin) are available on tap, and all the wines except the sparkling are available in carafe or bottle. I was thrilled to find a greco di tufo, an obscure Italian varietal grown mainly on the far side of Mount Vesuvius. It goes well with oysters, and pizza too.


Dinner: nightly, 5–9 p.m.

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

Brunch: Sat.–Sun., 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m.

11285 Hwy. 1, Point Reyes Station

(415) 663-9988


Wine and beer


Somewhat noisy

Wheelchair accessible


Dizzy dazzle



ART Let’s start with the obvious: the massive art collection of Gap Inc. founders Doris and the late Don Fisher is by far one of the largest and most significant windfalls SFMOMA has received in its 75-year history. More important, the collection — which had primarily been viewable throughout the Gap’s SF headquarters only by company employees and visiting tour groups — is finally being made accessible to the general public.

Gary Garrels, SFMOMA’s senior curator of painting and sculpture, has selected 160 works — a mere fraction of the 1,100 total — for “Calder to Warhol: Introducing the Fisher Collection,” a Fishers’ Greatest Hits that aims to provide an overview of the breadth of their holdings as well as highlight their in-depth focus on certain artists. During the exhibits media preview, Garrels mentioned that the Fishers acquired pieces without the help of advisers, jointly choosing works that “spoke to them.” Clearly, they had a taste for big game.

Primarily comprising paintings and sculpture, “Calder to Warhol” is, as its title indicates, a veritable who’s who of mid-to-late 20th century modern art that takes over the museum’s top two floors and spills out into the rooftop sculpture garden. I’m not being facetious when I say there’s something for everyone. Aside from extensive collections of Calder and Warhol, the show is chockablock with iconic pieces by Ellsworth Kelly, Gerhard Richter, Cy Twombly, Richard Serra, Roy Lichtenstein, Chuck Close … and the list goes on.

The range of artists and quality of the pieces assembled is dizzying. Take the fourth floor, for instance. The shock of several hideous, large-scale mixed media on aluminum DayGlo monstrosities by Frank Stella from the late 1970s and ’80s is largely soothed by the blushing, meaty pinks and reds of The Street, a remarkable 1956 Philip Guston abstract canvas in an adjoining gallery (Guston gets an additional gallery all to himself), which then leads to the downy embrace of Lee Krasner’s equally stunning 1961 oil Polar Stampede — a palimpsest of brown and gold hatch-marked feathers — and from there a gallery of four decades of Twombly’s looped scribbles.

Then there’s the small collection of Agnes Martin paintings, which by itself would be worth the price of admission. Martin is an artist who particularly suffers in reproduction: the delicate lines and gentle washes of color in her paintings get lost, and all one sees are their grid-like skeletons. Being able to study up close the subtle pop effect of the squares in Night Sea (1963) — the way in which the gold leaf underneath the oil causes the canvas’ tiny bluish squares to flash teal — is a revelation.

Or, starting from the floor’s north end, one encounters a crash course in Pop Art and its kin. The Lichtensteins and the Claes Oldenburg apple core are all well and good, but the Warhols are where it’s at: standouts are early 1960s silkscreens such as Tunafish Disaster and two of the handsome criminals in the “Most Wanted Men” series, and lesser-famous portraits of Joseph Beuys and Robert Mapplethorpe alongside Dolly and Jackie’s familiar visages. These aren’t the usual Factory hits.

Around another corner, past a room crowded with Close portraits, is another must-see: two enormous Sigmar Polke canvases from his alchemical 1988 series, “The Spirits That Lend Strength to the Invisible,” on which the German artist applied unconventional materials such as tellurium, chemical resin, and ground-up meteors. Their wild, particulate sprays evoke both the Hubble Telescope’s images of space, as well as the crude plumes currently floating off the Gulf Coast.

And I haven’t even started in on the fifth floor, with its showcases of Important Works by Calder, Kelly, Serra, Kiefer, Richter, and some particularly wonderful Lewitt wall drawings.

Yes, “Calder to Warhol” is dizzying. It is also frequently dazzling. But I can’t help but feel a little squeamish in the face of such a grand and copious cache; one that until recently had been displayed as an act of corporate largesse to those in the service of the empire that funded its acquisition.

Art collecting is a form of investment, capital put down toward ensuring the collector’s future legacy as much as it is a reflection of aesthetic tastes. The Fishers rarely sold pieces, and the equal attention they paid to collecting both figurative and abstract works — as well as an earlier failed bid to construct a private museum in the Presidio — suggests that the collection was developed increasingly with an eye toward creating the very sort of jaw-dropping endowment of which SFMOMA now finds itself the very fortunate recipient.

Certainly for SFMOMA, the benefits of this gift are clear. The museum’s profile has undoubtedly risen, and will continue to rise once the planned expansion set to house the remaining 90 percent of the collection’s holdings is complete. What remains less apparent throughout “Calder to Warhol” is a sense of the Fishers’ personal investment in the pieces they so assiduously acquired. To simply say that the art — so much amazing work, now finally on view — speaks for itself is only half true. As with any major private collection, it also speaks to a long campaign waged over the peaks and valleys of the art market.

Still, the Fishers aren’t merely the sum of their deep pockets. I wish the wall panels revealed when each piece had been bought, and whether Don or Doris had singled it out first (Imagine their dinner conversations: “Honey, would you like to buy a Dan Flavin?”). That information would put a different, perhaps more humanizing, spin on the story “Calder to Warhol” currently tells: a testament to the Fishers’ wide-reaching, frequently well-informed, and relatively safe taste for blue chip names.


Through Sept. 19, $9–$15

(children under 12 free; first Tuesday of every month free)


151 Third St., SF

(415) 357-4000


Transit troubles



Peggy da Silva is an avid cyclist, public transit advocate, and member of the San Francisco Transit Riders Union — a new organization made up of several hundred San Franciscans who want to see improvements to Muni.

Yet even she admits that when it comes to getting to work, it takes just 15 minutes by car or an hour if she opts to go by bus. “I am committed to transit and cycling” for environmental reasons, she said, but “it gets really frustrating” to wait for the bus or light rail cars to arrive.

Da Silva could be considered lucky in that she can opt to drive if she feels it’s necessary, while many lower-income San Franciscans cannot afford a car and have no choice but to rely on Muni to get to work, buy groceries, or make doctor appointments. It’s even worse late at night when the buses run less frequently and the streets are dark and empty.

Speaking at a June 29 transit rally, the Rev. Norman Fong of the Chinatown Community Development Center joked that Chinatown is one of the city’s greenest neighborhoods — but “not by choice.” Most Chinatown residents just can’t afford to own a car, underscoring the point that Muni service cuts affect lower-income communities more significantly than those with more transportation options.

The perception that Muni is broken isn’t unique to transit advocates. Around City Hall, a number of proposals have been put forth to fix the ailing system, which has been mired in delays and overcrowding as fares have gone up and service was slashed. But determining what the root problems are, how they should be addressed, and what the best path forward may be has proved arduous.

Rather than a simple calculation or a study in efficiency, the debate surrounding Muni is spinning into an emotionally charged affair. For those aiming to protect low-income riders from service cuts or fare increases, it’s a discussion about social justice, calling into question why the city is asking more of bus riders than motorists in a city with a “transit-first” mandate in its charter.

The strong opposition to the cuts by supervisors and the public has led to a rollback. On June 30, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) announced that on Sept. 4, it would be able to restore half of the 10 percent systemwide service reduction that went into effect in May.

“Due to stronger than expected revenue streams, operational efficiencies, and new grant opportunities, staff is recommending the restoration of service on some routes and lines this fall,” according to an SFMTA press release. Buses that run all night would come more often, and the partial service restoration would help ease over-crowding.

While this was welcome news for anyone who takes transit, the expected improvement still leaves untouched many key issues plaguing the city’s public transit system. Two separate initiatives most likely destined for the November ballot seek to deal with systemic problems — but both have met with resistance.

On July 1, Sup. Sean Elsbernd announced that he had submitted some 75,000 signatures for a proposed charter amendment for the November ballot to change the way transit operator salaries are determined. Since they only needed 46,000 signatures, “presumably, we’ll qualify,” Elsbernd told us.

“It presses the reset button on all the [memorandums of understanding] and then puts the riders at the table,” he explained. “It also eliminates the side letters that allow the six leaders of the union to get full-time salaries and benefits without needing to drive.”

Elsbernd’s proposal would require operator wages and benefits to be set through collective bargaining, instead of the current guarantee that their wages be at least as high as the average wage rate for transit operators in the two highest paying comparable transit systems.

Yet his proposal is opposed by the city’s transit operators union, TWU Local 250-A, whose members feel they’ve been unfairly blamed for the MTA’s fiscal problems. Speaking at the June 29 rally, Ron Heintzman, the new international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, summed up the attitude of drivers who feel they are being asked to give up hard-fought gains in the face of an economic downturn.

“I’ve been told that here in San Francisco, the mayor for some reason clearly has his head up his ass,” Heintzman said. “It’s time to tell him to stop trying to balance the damn budget on the backs of the workers.”

Speakers at the rally voiced support for federal legislation that would bolster municipal transit budgets nationwide with a $2 billion emergency infusion. A second federal bill would allow local governments greater flexibility with federal transit funding that currently can only be spent on capital projects, not day-to-day operations.

“We’re asking them not to make us buy a bus when we can’t hire a bus operator to drive it,” explained Harry Lombardo, international president of the Transit Workers Union. “There’s no point in spending hundreds of thousands on a bus and letting it sit in mothballs. And believe me, it’s happening all over the country.”

Sup. David Campos, a cosponsor of a competing ballot measure that aims for more comprehensive Muni reform, joined the rally and criticized the notion that drivers should be blamed a dysfunctional, underfunded transit system.

“Those of you who live in San Francisco know that right now there is a climate at City Hall that is pointing the finger at drivers, blaming drivers and blaming the workers for the problems that this system has,” Campos said at the rally. “Muni is broken. But Muni is not broken because of labor. And we have to say no to that push to somehow create a division between riders and drivers…. We can’t ignore the fact that we have a system that is getting money that is not being used well.”

Campos has joined with Sups. Ross Mirkarimi, Eric Mar, and Board President David Chiu to propose a reform package that would remove the pay guarantee for Muni driver, but also create split appointments to the MTA Board of Directors, allocate a share of property tax revenue to the city’s Transportation Fund, and establish an Office of the MTA Inspector General to help reduce waste and ramp up efficiency. The proposal would be subject to voter approval in November.

The proposal to give the supervisors some appointments to an MTA board that is now solely accountable to the Mayor’s Office became an issue at the eleventh hour of budget negotiations between the supervisors and Newsom on June 30. The mayor strongly opposed that and two similar charter amendments that would establish split appointments for the Recreation and Park Commission and the San Francisco Rent Board, as well as a ballot measure that would require the police department to engage in foot beat patrols.

Many saw his stance as a quid pro quo that inappropriately tied mayoral support for the budget — which included funding restorations to community programs that progressive board members wanted to preserve — to these unrelated ballot proposals.

Dave Snyder, who directs the SF Transit Riders Union, viewed the move as an affront on Muni riders. “This particular mayor has managed to screw up Muni service through his complete control over the agency,” Snyder said. “And whatever it takes, Muni riders want to see that fixed.”

While he said he thought a split appointment for the MTA Board was important, “the most important thing is more money. That’s the key issue,” he added, noting the reform package would create more funding for Muni.

Members of the Budget and Finance Committee resisted the mayor’s demand and forwarded a budget to the full board that included their high-priority restorations. The proposed ballot measures will be considered by the board this month.

“If you ask me, I would say we should have commission reform across the board,” Mirkarimi told the Guardian. “The idea of having [equally balanced appointments] is a smart way for us to share the responsibility and the consequences.”

MTA’s fiscal problems aren’t unique to San Francisco. On July 1, Caltrain announced a menu of undesirable options to deal with big financial troubles facing the commuter railroad. Elimination of weekend service and certain weekday train stops, or a 25-cent increase to base fares or zone fares, will be the subject of public hearings this summer.

Noting that all the different sources that fund Caltrain have been slashed, spokesperson Christine Dunn told us, “It’s frustrating to not be able to provide the service you want to provide.”

Truce talks



All parties are hopeful for peace in the Guardian-labeled War on Fun after oppressive raids on SoMa clubs have stopped and the feuding sides — mainly the San Francisco Police Department and nightclub owners — are sitting down to truce talks brokered in part by the fledgling California Music and Culture Association (CMAC).

“I’m here to work with you,” Kitt Crenshaw, commander of SFPD’s new Entertainment Task Force, told the crowd at a Nightlife Safety Summit on June 30. “I’m not the enemy. I’m not the ‘War on Fun,’ as they call it. I’m not the Antichrist.” The summit was sponsored by the Mayor’s Office, Entertainment Commission, SFPD, Small Business Commission, and CMAC.

Club owners and the SFPD are attempting to find balance between stifling the entertainment industry with heavy-handed enforcement and doing something about the deadly gun violence plaguing neighborhoods around some San Francisco nightclubs. Owners and party promoters don’t want entertainment permitting power to go back to the SFPD, as Mayor Gavin Newsom has suggested. But recent shootings and the Entertainment Commission’s inability to immediately close problem clubs have city officials demanding change.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu introduced legislation in early June that would give the Entertainment Commission the authority to revoke the entertainment permits of noncompliant clubs that are consistently scenes of violence. Chiu’s legislation would further extend temporary suspension powers the board granted to the commission in 2009.

“There is strong consensus that the Entertainment Commission needs to do its job. And if this is what it takes to give it more tools, then so be it,” Chiu told the Guardian after the June 25 CMAC Insider Luncheon, where he participated in a forum with entertainment industry representatives. Chiu said he was feeling pressure from his constituents in North Beach to “come down like a hammer on the industry” following several shootings around the neighborhood’s nightclubs this year.

Terrance Alan, a longtime industry advocate and entertainment commissioner, told the Guardian he recently requested that the City Attorney’s Office help define when nightclub owners should be blamed for violence occurring near their business. “If we’re going to hold venues and security teams responsible, we have to tell them and make sure it’s legal,” he said. “The line of reasoning that blames the nearest business will force San Francisco to shut down. The first thing we have to do is stop blaming each other.”

Chiu, speaking to a crowd at the Nightlife Safety Summit, recounted a handful of incidents that pushed him to craft the new legislation. Since the last legislation was passed to strengthen the Entertainment Commission’s power to regulate nightclubs, eight people were shot outside the Regency night club Nov. 15, 2009; 44 rounds were fired outside club Suede, resulting in one death and four injuries Feb. 7; a shooting occurred on Broadway outside a strip club in mid-February; and a police officer was shot outside the Mission District’s El Rincon club on June 19. “And so on, and so on,” Chiu said.

Following the shooting at Club Suede, which had long been a site of violence prior to the gang-related carnage in February, officials were stunned to learn the commission did not have the power to revoke entertainment permits. The most it could do was suspend Suede’s permit to play music for 30 days.

“To hold the commission responsible for something it was never envisioned to do and never given the power to do is where the narrative has gone wrong recently,” Alan said of widespread criticism that the commission just didn’t simply “shut down” Club Suede.

Suede remains voluntarily closed as it bargains with the City Attorney’s Office, which filed a complaint against the club after the shootings. Alex Tse, the lead attorney for the city in the case, told the Guardian there was nothing he could legally do to prevent Suede from reopening before Aug. 10, when the court is scheduled to rule on a preliminary injunction (court mandated closing) the City Attorney’s Office filed. But he doesn’t expect them to reopen because Suede and the city are currently working toward settling the case.

If the incidents Chiu described represent a black eye for San Francisco’s entertainment industry, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and SFPD aren’t necessarily squeaky clean either. “I sat down with [ABC director] Steve Hardy and told him that where the state was focusing efforts in San Francisco was completely misguided,” Chiu said at the CMAC luncheon. “And I’ve spoken to [California Senator] Mark Leno to try to move them in the right direction.”

The break in the crackdowns of 2009, mostly attributed to severe tactics employed by SFPD Officer Larry Bertrand and ABC agent Michelle Ott, followed a widespread backlash to the sometimes brutal treatment legitimate business owners were receiving in the name of public safety. Back-to-back over stories in the Guardian (see “The new War on Fun,” March 23, 2010) and the SF Weekly, calls to the ABC from city officials, the formation of CMAC, and a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) suit filed against San Francisco and the rogue officers spurred officials to rein in Ott and Bertrand.

Hardy told the Guardian that Ott is no longer assigned to alcohol enforcement in San Francisco. Bertrand has traded in his plain-clothes for a uniform and hasn’t been seen busting into clubs, beating up the help, or confiscating DJ equipment for several months.

Mark Webb, plaintiff’s attorney in the RICO case, which was moved to the federal court by the City Attorney’s Office, said Bertrand is scheduled to give a deposition for the case July 26. Webb told the Guardian he plans to ask Bertrand questions relating to “a pattern of ongoing and repeated abuses” claimed in the complaint, which includes Newsom and ABC as defendants.

“We’re at a crossroads,” Chiu told the crowd at the Nightlife Safety Summit, adding that if the new power for the Entertainment Commission does not reduce club violence, stronger measures would be taken, whether it’s Newsom’s suggestion to scrap the commission entirely and give permitting power back to the police department or Chiu’s idea to create another “less politicized” body to issue entertainment permits made up of representatives from city department that are affected when nightlife entertainment goes wrong.

“There has been significant dissatisfaction with the Entertainment Commission due to many actual and apparent conflicts of interests,” Chiu said. “Frankly, this is why we may need to move to a different model of who actually makes decisions on permits, because often the people who want to make those decisions are the ones who stand to get the most benefit out of them.”

But club owners and party promoters argue that the police issuing entertainment permits, as they did prior to the Entertainment Commission’s creation in 2002, has a chilling effect on an important part of San Francisco’s economy.

Alan said a civil grand jury found the police department had a conflict of interest in being both the granter and enforcer of nightclub permits, a finding that spurred the creation of the Entertainment Commission.

“I’ve been in the industry long enough to remember when it was in the Police Department’s hands,” said Guy Carson, owner of Café Du Nord and director of CMAC. “Since the advent of the Entertainment Commission, more permits have been issued, which has vitalized the industry.”

Club owners and party promoters don’t want to be blamed for street violence over which they have no control, and they have some political support for that stance. “Clubs don’t create youth gun violence, society creates youth gun violence,” Sup. Bevan Dufty proclaimed to the crowd at the Nightlife Safety Summit, drawing thunderous applause from the room.

“There is a street scene and a club scene, and they do intersect. But a lot of the violence occurs in the street scene,” Carson said. “A lot of shootings that happen relate to people never inside the clubs. That’s a conversation CMAC looks forward to having — to have a little more accurate discussion.”

While he asserts that some nightclubs attract violence to the city from out of town, Crenshaw said he was pleased and surprised at the level of collaboration emerging between entertainment representatives and SFPD. “I got so much positive feedback from it [the Nightlife Safety Summit]. It was a bit overwhelming,” he told us. “I think the industry itself is tired of being labeled as a pariah. They want to change their image.”

Brit Hahn, owner of City Nights and SFClubs, agreed that working with district captains was in the best interest of any club looking to remain profitable. “When something bad happens at a nightclub anywhere in San Francisco, he said at the Nightlife Safety Summit, “it’s bad for all of our businesses.”

Ungodly deeds



The Catholic Church claims to value charity and justice, but recent local conflicts over cutting off child care for low-income families and refusing to pay millions of dollars in taxes to cash-strapped San Francisco city government — as well as the ongoing priest pedophilia cover-up cases — cast doubt over the church’s commitment to those in need.

The San Francisco Catholic Archdiocese has said it will close the Children’s Village Development Center in August, displacing 110 children enrolled in the program and leaving 100 families — a third of them low-income — scrambling for hard-to-find childcare providers.

The Archdiocese also sold other surrounding properties because it could not afford to retrofit its buildings for earthquakes, selling them to developers Chris Harney and Tom Murphy. Both the church and the developers rejected efforts by Children’s Village parents, who formed the nonprofit Supporting Early Experience and Development (SEED), to temporarily lease the building.

Dan Dillon, a representative for Harney and Murphy, told the Guardian that they decided to reject SEED’s leasing offer because they had already made a deal with a tenant who was willing to offer more money. Dillon wouldn’t identify the tenant, but he said the new tenant would use the building without major modifications, which might have triggered a need for city permits and a public hearing.

Catholic Charities CYO, an agency of the Archdiocese that oversees programs such as the Children’s Village program, closed the center because it wasn’t making money. The city gave about $1.5 million in grants and loans to support childcare for poor families at Children’s Village, with most of the money coming from the Low Income Investment Fund.

According to Catholic Charities’ official statement on the dispute, it tried to maintain the program by cutting slots for low income families in an effort to subsidize the program. There was still not enough money to fund the program. Catholic Charities representative Gabrielle Slanina told us that the tough economy and internal budget cuts hurt their ability to continue providing childcare at the site.

“The program hasn’t been financially sustainable over the years,” Slanina told us. “Sustainability just wasn’t turning around. But we tried to keep it going for as long as we could.”

Catholic Charities still plans to later build a new $1 million children development center three blocks away on the corner of 10th and Mission streets. But SEED members are left in the lurch for now, causing them to question the validity of Catholic Charities’ mission to “support, stabilize, and strengthen families.”

Dee Dee Workman, a consultant helping SEED, was disappointed with the Archdiocese’s bottom-line approach to helping local families. “They have not attempted to secure slots with these families,” Workman told us. “They don’t care about these kids. It’s just about the money, and it’s immoral.”

SEED member Sabrina Qutb, who has a three-year-old son enrolled in Children’s Village, said she sees the new center as a waste of money. “I do not believe the city should continue to fund Catholic Charities child care programs,” Qutb told us. “Who’s to say they won’t drop 10th and Mission in a few years and waste even more of the city’s money?”

Many child care programs have waiting lists up to two years in a city where there are more than twice as many children under 13 with working parents as there are licensed child care slots, according to a study prepared for the city by the California Child Care Resources and Referral Network. Child care slots for infants are among the fewest, making up only 6 percent of the 17,894 child care center slots in the city. Preschool children ages two to five years old occupy 63 percent of the child care slots.

SEED member Kathryn Shantz put her two-year-old daughter on a waiting list for another child care facility immediately after the announcement of Children’s Village closure. “I’m 104 on the waiting list for the Yerba Buena Child Development Center,” Shantz said. “I’ve been on the wait-list for a year, and they basically told me that there’s no way I’m getting in.”

Meanwhile, while the city supported the church’s child care program, the church is still stiffing the city on its tax bill. On April 16, the Archdiocese filed a suit in the San Francisco Superior Court against Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting. The suit challenges a Transfer Tax Review Board ruling last November which held that the Archdiocese owed the city $14.4 million after transferring 232 parcels of property among three Archdiocese corporations in 2008 without paying the required transfer taxes attached to those vacant lots, parking lots, apartments, commercial buildings, parishes, and schools. This is the second-largest transfer tax bill in San Francisco history.

Repeated calls to the Archdiocese of San Francisco were not returned. In a press release, the Archdiocese said that it “maintains that to impose transfer taxes, penalties, and interest on a religious organization in connection with an internal restructuring involving no exchange or receipt of money from which to pay any tax is inequitable and threatens to confiscate substantial church assets that are devoted to religious purposes.”

The next court date for this case is scheduled for Sept. 17. This recent lawsuit and the sale of Archdiocese properties come at a time when the church is facing the possibility of paying out big settlements in cases involving sexual abuse by priests.

Survivor Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) Northern California Regional Office representative Joey Piscitelli said that if victims weren’t so afraid to report their abuse, the Archdiocese would owe its victims even more money. “Ninety-eight percent of victims never report the abuse, and the average person reports the abuse 25 years after the incident,” Piscitelli said. “The church brags that the clergy didn’t do it because they were never convicted, yet they’re paying billions of dollars in lawsuits.”

With the Catholic Church now facing scrutiny on so many fronts, it seems that a day of reckoning could be in its future. On June 29, the Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal by the Vatican for immunity in a highly publicized pedophilia suit, clearing the way for the 2002 lawsuit to advance.

The plaintiff, under the name of John V. Doe, alleged that he was abused in 1965 by Father Andrew Ronan in Portland, Ore. Ronan died in 1992. The Vatican tried to kill the lawsuit by stating that it was protected under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, a federal law that prevents foreign states from lawsuits.

The appeals court determined that there was an exception to the law, stating that Ronan was an employee of the Vatican and he was working under Oregon law. No one has ever won a lawsuit against the Vatican for sexual abuse allegations made by the clergy. This Supreme Court decision opens the door for future lawsuits against the Holy See.

Naked fun in the sun!


Entertainer Wavy Gravy and Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg like Red Rock Beach; Marin Superior Court Commissioner Roy Chernus favors Bass Lake, and Marin County Sup. Steve Kinsey says he’s been naked at Red Rock, Bolinas, Hagmier Pond, and Mount Vision Pond.

“I’ve probably hit every nude beach in Marin,” says Kinsey, who has described his visits as “exhilarating and normal.” “My last dip was at Bass Lake last fall. It has beautiful, fresh water, and the swimming environment is wonderful. I look forward to the next opportunity.”

But on their next trips to the nude section of beautiful Muir Beach, visitors may notice something new: a warning sign is being erected by the county this summer to urge users to be “respectful” of each other and to notify authorities if there’s trouble.

The sign is the result of a compromise worked out by nudists, law enforcers, county officials, and local homeowners, some of whom wanted nudity stopped. Under the agreement, cops are making a few more visits than before. But through July 1, 2010, only four complaints about nudity and one citation for improper sexual conduct have occurred since January 1, 2009, and none since August 13, 2009, according to marin county sheriff’s office crime analyst Susan Medina. “We keep responding to complaints, but I can’t recall any recent citations,” says Lt. Cheryl Fisher, commander of the Marin County Sheriff’s Office’s West Marin Station. Fisher says the subjects are usually suited up by the time deputies arrive. “A deputy showed up on a very hot Sunday,” says regular visitor Michael Velkoff of Scotts Valley. “As soon as he left, everybody was naked again.”

“Of course, guys in spiked penis rings not parading themselves around also have helped,” says Sup. Kinsey, who, for now, has spiked his previous threat to fight back by starting an effort to make Muir and other beaches clothing-optional under a 1975 law giving Marin County the power to exempt areas from its anti-nudity provisions. “Sometimes the best thing we can do in government is to stay out of the way.”

Homeowners remain wary. One, who wants to remain anonymous, tells the Guardian: “We are optimistic” about being able to “coexist” with the naturists, “but we also remain very clear about what is legal and what will and won’t be tolerated.” And a former advocate of the ban told me that instead of not going to Muir Beach “a person wanting to use the beach nude might do it in a manner that doesn’t draw a lot of attention.”

As if the Marin mashup wasn’t enough, nervous naturists also got ready to do battle with state authorities, who they feared would eventually ban nudity at Devil’s Slide in San Mateo County and at Bonny Doon Beach near Santa Cruz, both of which are state beaches.

The jitters came in the wake of an October 2009 California high court ruling allowing a crackdown on nude sunbathing on state beaches, even in areas traditionally used for such activity. “All it takes now is an individual ranger with the desire to issue a citation,” warns R. Allen Baylis, a Huntington Beach attorney representing the Naturist Action Committee, the country’s biggest nudist lobbying group. “It could have a chilling effect [on nudity] on any state beach.”

“Our thin line of security has been overturned,” says Rich Pasco, head of the Bay Area Naturists, based in San Jose. “So let’s hope that in today’s economy, the thin level of state park staff has better things to do with their time than dealing with naturists.”

At press time, the NAC, along with BAN and 14 other nudist groups, were preparing, for the first time, to officially petition California to “designate clothing-optional areas” on one or more state beaches. Other efforts have, says Baylis, been “less formal.” “Do they really expect us to pack up and leave?” Baylis asks. “We’re going to fight back. This is our freedom they’re messing with!”

What’s the good news? Just like at Muir Beach, it doesn’t look like naturists have anything to worry about for now in Northern California. “In the short term, things at Bonny Doon are destined to continue the way they are,” says Kirk Lingenfelter, sector superintendent for Bonny Doon. He wants a better trail, stairs, and parking, but says the cash-starved state doesn’t have the budget to make even a preliminary plan or increase ranger visits. He said his staff have not issued any citations or warnings at the nude cove, which he calls one of the spots that “really give you the feeling of rugged, untouched majesty. It’s a very important feeling. Going to places like Bonny Doon helps you get recharged.”

And the Devil’s Slide police source, who wants to remain anonymous, told us: “Rangers aren’t going to be pursuing enforcement against nudity per se. Nothing’s changed.” Rangers will continue responding to complaints, he explained, but it usually means they arrive too late to do anything about them because cell phones don’t work on the beach. “We hear about it after the fact,” says another Devil’s Slide enforcer, Supervising State Park Ranger Michael Grant.

Want to contribute to the glad tidings? There’s still time for plenty of fun in the sun. You can donate your body to the record books, at least temporarily, by showing up Saturday, July 10 at the Sequoians Clothes Free Club (www.sequoians.com) in Castro Valley, when its annual attempt at setting a world skinny-dipping record, with 138 other nude locations, will be held. And if you’ve ever been dying to do a little light cleaning in the nude (no window-washing needed), here’s your chance: Your butt can be bare if you stop by Bonny Doon Sept. 18 to help fans pick up cigarette butts and other litter on the beach.

Speaking of good things, would you like to help improve our report? Please send brainstorms, your new beach “finds,” improved directions (especially road milepost numbers), and trip reports to garhan@aol.com or by snail mail to Gary Hanauer, c/o San Francisco Guardian, 135 Mississippi St., San Francisco CA 94107. Please include your phone number so we can verify that you’re not just another mirage in the nude beach sand.



Things are really cooking at San Francisco’s long, narrow North Baker, which is in good shape this year, with plenty of sand and an influx of young people and more women than five years ago, even though the beach is still heavily male. “If you want to see naked chicks and guys, it’s the place to go,” says aficionado Paul Jung. Although beach regulars like himself welcome all the new nude volleyball players, “some of them seem to make up rules as they go along,” he laughs. Fun activities: Look for dolphins that occasionally surface in the water off shore. And in low tide only, walk around the big rocks at the north end of the beach to check out Baker’s “secret” tide pools.

Directions: Take the 29 Sunset bus or go north on 25th Avenue to Lincoln Boulevard. Turn right and take the second left onto Bowley Street. Follow Bowley to Gibson Road, turn right, and follow Gibson to the east parking lot. Head right on the beach to the nude area, which starts at the brown and yellow “Hazardous surf, undertow, swim at your own risk” sign. Some motorcycles in the lot have been vandalized, possibly by car owners angered by bikers parking in car spaces; to avoid trouble, motorcyclists should park in the motorcycle area near the cyclone fence.



Land’s End is just the beginning: it’s not just the ground that seems to “disappear” into the sunset at this little slice of paradise off Geary Boulevard. So do your clothes, if you want to be magically transported to another dimension, away from the cares of everyday constraints. Shorts, swimsuit, even work clothes during a quick lunch break — they all can be removed at this delightful cove, which features a mix of sand and rocks plus some of San Francisco’s best views. Better still, only a handful of people are usually present. Bring a windbreak for protection in case the weather changes.

Directions: Follow Geary Boulevard to the end, then park in the dirt lot up the road from the Cliff House. Take the trail at the far end of the lot. About 100 yards past a bench and some trash cans, the path narrows and bends, then rises and falls, eventually becoming the width of a road. Don’t take the road to the right, which leads to a golf course. Just past another bench, as the trail turns right, go left toward a group of dead trees where you will see a stairway and a “Dogs must be leashed” sign. Descend and head left to another stairway, which leads to a 100-foot walk to the cove. Or, instead, take the service road below the El Camino del Mar parking lot 1/4 mile until you reach a bench, then follow the trail there.


Don’t come to Golden Gate Bridge Beach, also called Nasty Boy Beach, if you want privacy: dozens to hundreds of visitors show up on the hottest days at the site that some have likened to a “gay meat market.” Along with the guys, a smattering of women, straight couples, children and fishermen are spread out on the three adjoining rocky coves that make up the beach, whose stunning views of the Bridge will make you feel like you’re the star of your own postcard. “It’s really nice to walk in the water,” says a woman. “In low tide, you can sometimes go out 150 feet.”

Directions: Directions: from the toll booth area of Highway 101/1, take Lincoln Boulevard west about a half mile to Langdon Court. Turn right (west) on Langdon and look for space in the parking lots, across Lincoln from Fort Winfield Scott. Park and then take the new, improved beach trail, starting just west of the end of Langdon, down its more than 200 steps to Golden Gate Bridge Beach, also known as Marshall’s Beach.



If you try to be naked here on weekends, you’ll be barking up the wrong tree. The main creatures who go nude at Fort Funston, south of Ocean Beach, are dogs, but that hasn’t stopped a small band of stark naked sunbathers from hiding away in some sand dunes when rangers aren’t in the area. Authorities usually issue several citations a year here. But if you don’t make a fuss and visit on a weekday, you probably won’t be busted. If anyone complains, put on your beach gear right away. Two more fun activities at “Fort Fun”: watching hang-gliders take off from the cliffs and checking out a seemingly endless passing parade of people and their pets.

Directions: From San Francisco, head west to Ocean Beach, then go south on the Great Highway. After Sloat Boulevard, the road goes uphill. From there, curve right onto Skyline Boulevard, go past one stoplight, and look for signs for Funston on the right. Turn into the public lot and find a space near the west side. At the southwest end, take the sandy steps to the beach, turn right, and walk to the dunes. Find a spot as far as possible from the parking lot. Do not go nude here on the weekends. And if you don’t like dogs, go elsewhere.



Nudity’s banned in the East Bay Regional Park District, but if you tell that to the nude hikers who will be once again walking across park land July 23 and Aug. 22 — at night — they may moon you en masse. On America’s only naked “Full Moon Hikes,” participants leave the grounds of the Sequoians Naturist Club in Castro Valley fully clothed at dusk and walk through meadows and up hills until the moon rises, before heading back down the slopes with their clothes folded neatly into their backpacks. Says Dave Smith, of San Leandro: “It’s truly wonderful. Except for deer, we’re usually the only ones on the path.” Agrees James, of Fremont: “It’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. You’re walking in this silvery light. The moonlight is flooding everything. You feel like you’re in the middle of a beautiful dream.”

Directions: Contact the Sequoians Naturist Club (www.sequoians.com) or the Bay Area Naturists (www.bayareanaturists.org) for details on how to join a walk. Participants usually meet at and return to the Sequoians Club. To get there, take Highway 580 east to the Crow Canyon Road exit. Or follow 580 west to the first Castro Valley off-ramp. Take Crow Canyon Road toward San Ramon 0.75 mile to Cull Canyon Road. Then follow Cull Canyon Road around 6.5 miles to the end of the paved road. Take the dirt road on the right until the “Y” in the road and keep left. Shortly after, you’ll see the Sequoians sign. Proceed ahead for about another 0.75 mile to the Sequoians front gate.



Will they be having a devil of a time in paradise? For the first time, rangers say they’ll begin enforcing state anti-nudity regulations if offended beachgoers complain about the nudists who visit Gray Whale Cove, which is commonly called Devil’s Slide. The good news: It’s a nonissue because cell phones (used to summon rangers) don’t work on the beach, so by the time cops arrive, the offenders have long since suited up or left. And the beach’s top enforcer told us he won’t be telling rangers to bust nudists they see. Most visitors love the long sandy shore, where nudies, about 20 percent of visitors, hang out on the north end.

Directions: Driving from San Francisco, take Highway 1 south through Pacifica. Three miles south of the Denny’s restaurant in Linda Mar, turn left (inland or east) on an unmarked road, which takes you to the beach’s parking lot and to a 146-step staircase leads to the sand. “The steps are in good shape,” Ron says. Coming from the south on Highway 1, look for a road on the right (east), 1.2 miles north of the Chart House restaurant in Montara.



America’s oldest nude beach, near Half Moon Bay, offers two miles of soft sand and tide pools to explore, as well as a lagoon, lava tube, and, if you look closely enough on the cliffs, the remains of an old railroad line. Pets are allowed on weekdays. Up to 200 visitors may be present, but they’re usually so spread out, you may not even notice them. Gay men tend to hang out on the north side and in “sex condos” made of driftwood by visitors — a major annoyance to those who are easily offended. On the south end of the beach, there are sometimes dozens of straight couples and families, naked and clothed. For weather information, call (415) 765-7697.

Directions: Head south on Highway 1 past Half Moon Bay. Between mileposts 18 and 19, look on the right side of the road for telephone call box number SM 001 0195, at the intersection of Highway 1 and Stage Road and near an iron gate with trees on either side. From there, expect a drive of 1.1 miles to the entrance. At the Junction 84 highway sign, the beach’s driveway is just 0.1 mile away. Turn into a gravel driveway, passing through the iron gate mentioned above, which says 119429 on the gatepost. Drive past a grassy field to the parking lot, where you’ll be asked to pay an entrance fee. Take the long path from the lot to the sand; everything north of the trail’s end is clothing-optional.



Bonny Doon isn’t doomed. To the contrary, because the state has no plans to develop it or send rangers out to make anti-nudity patrols, it looks like it will remain Santa Cruz County’s prettiest nude beach, which should please the nudists who were on the edge of their towels wondering what would happen. Says Kirk Lingenfelter, sector superintendent for Bonny Doon and nearby state beaches: “Going to places like Bonny Doon helps you get recharged.” Naturists usually use the cove on the north end of the beach, which attracts more women and couples than most clothing-optional enclaves.

Directions: Head south on Highway 1 to the Bonny Doon parking lot at milepost 27.6 on the west side of the road, 2.4 miles north of Red, White, and Blue Beach, and some 11 miles north of Santa Cruz. From Santa Cruz, head north on Highway 1 until you see Bonny Doon Road, which veers sharply to the right just south of Davenport. The beach is right off the intersection. Park in the paved lot to the west of Highway 1; don’t park on Bonny Doon Road or the shoulder of Highway 1. If the lot is full, drive north on Highway 1, park at the next beach lot and walk back to the first lot. To get to the beach, climb the berm next to the railroad tracks adjacent to the Bonny Doon lot, cross the tracks, descend, and take the trail to the sand. Walk north past most of the beach to the cove on the north end.



Size matters at 2222, which is the smallest nude beach in the U.S. — and probably smaller than your backyard. Not many people can fit into it and not many have heard about it, so not many are there, which is just fine with its mostly young crowd of local college students. Located across from 2222 West Cliff Drive, it’s a great place to sunbathe, read, relax, or even watch Neal the Juggler practice tossing balls, pins, and beanbags on the sand. But don’t attempt the very steep climb up and down the cliff unless you’re in good shape.

Directions: The beach is a few blocks west of Natural Bridges State Beach and about 2.5 miles north of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. From either north or south of Santa Cruz, take Highway 1 to Swift Street. Drive 0.8 miles to the sea, then turn right on West Cliff Drive. 2222 is five blocks away. Past Auburn Avenue, look for 2222 West Cliff on the inland side of the street. Park in the nine-car lot next to the cliff. If it’s full, continue straight and park along Chico Avenue. Bay Area Naturists leader Rich Pasco suggests visitors use care and then follow the path on the side of the beach closest to downtown Santa Cruz and the Municipal Wharf.



Privates Beach, at 4524 Opal Cliff Drive, north of the Capitola Pier, is so private that it has a locked gate, security guards, and, unless you’re too cheap to pay and want to try another option, a $100 per year fee (cash only). The two coves are exceptionally clean and you’re likely to see families, kids, and dogs on the shore.

Directions: 1) Some visitors walk north from Capitola Pier in low tide (not a good idea since at least four people have needed to be rescued after being trapped by rising water). 2) Others reach it in low tide via the stairs at the end of 41st Avenue, which lead to a surf spot called the Hook at the south end of a rocky shoreline known as Pleasure Point. 3) Surfers paddle on boards for a few minutes to Privates from Capitola or the Hook. 4) Most visitors buy a key to the beach gate at Freeline Design Surfboards (821 41st Ave., Santa Cruz, 831-476-2950) 1.5 blocks west of the beach. Others go with someone with a key or wait outside the gate until someone with a key goes in. “Most people will gladly hold the gate open for someone behind them whose hands are full,” says Bay Area Naturists leader Rich Pasco. The nude area is to the left of the bottom of the stairs.



The mellowness of marvelous Muir Beach was marred last year when some homeowners verbally clashed with nudists over use of the sand. After a few meetings, it was decided that while bare buns on the beach wouldn’t be banned, a warning sign stressing “respect” for everyone and listing a phone number for complaints will be erected, most likely in July, near the border of the nude and clothed sections of the shore. The nude spot is pretty and curved and usually has excellent swimming conditions and access. Instead of a trail, you just walk along the water from the public beach and go around and over some easy-to-cross rocks.

Directions: From San Francisco, take Highway 1 north to Muir Beach, to milepost 5.7. Turn left on Pacific Way and park in the Muir lot (to avoid tickets, don’t park on Pacific). Or park on the long street off Highway 1 across from Pacific and about 100 yards north. From the Muir lot, follow a path and boardwalk to the sand, and then walk north to a pile of rocks between the cliffs and the sea. You’ll need good hiking or walking shoes to cross; in very low tide, try to cross closer to the water. The nude area starts north of it.



Bay Area fan favorite Red Rock is still rocking with an improved trail, more sand than last summer, Ultimate Frisbee games that last as long as three hours, a shower where you can cool down on a hot day, and up to 75 people a day. “More rock climbers than ever are coming to the beach,” says the Rock’s “ambassador,” Fred Jaggi. “You can get more privacy there.” Three nude women who were perched on a terrace overlooking the cove in June were recently anointed as the Cheerleaders by members of the fun, highly social crowd below.

Directions: The easiest way to find the beach is to go north on Highway 1 from Mill Valley, following the signs to Stinson Beach. At the long line of mailboxes next to the Muir Beach cutoff point, start checking your odometer. Look for a dirt lot full of cars to the left (west) of the highway exactly 5.6 miles north of Muir and a smaller one on the right (east) side of the road. The lots are at milepost 11.3, one mile south of Stinson Beach. Limited parking is also available 150 yards to the south on the west side of Highway 1. Take the path to the beach that starts near the Dumpster next to the main parking lot. The trail’s doable but moderately long, steep, and slippery, so don’t wear flip-flops.



If you’re sleepless in San Anselmo, a cure might be to bare your bottom at Bass in Bolinas. “If you want to visit an enchanted lake, Bass is it,” says Ryan, of the East Bay. “Tree branches reach over the water, forming a magical canopy, and huge bunches of calla lilies bloom on the shore.” Even walking to Bass, 45-60 minutes from the lot over 2.8 relatively easy miles, can be an adventure like none other. You may see people with backpacks but no pants on the trail. Rangers once stopped and cited a clad man who had an unleashed dog but let the nudists continue. Says Dave Smith, of San Leandro, who unusually walks naked: “I came around a corner and there was a mountain lion sitting like Egypt’s Great Sphinx of Giza 50 yards down the path.” Bring a heavy towel or tarp for sitting on a somewhat prickly meadow near the water.

Directions: From Stinson Beach, go north on Highway 1. Just north of Bolinas Lagoon, turn left on the often-unmarked exit to Bolinas. Follow the road as it curves along the lagoon and eventually ends at Olema-Bolinas Road; continue along Olema-Bolinas Road to the stop sign at Mesa Road. Turn right on Mesa and drive four miles until it becomes a dirt road and ends at a parking lot. On hot days the lot fills quickly. A sign at the trailhead next to the lot will guide you down scenic Palomarin Trail to the lake.



Couples love RCA Beach near Bolinas, and so do singles who long for a ruggedly isolated shoreline that doesn’t take long to reach. This summer, there’s even more to enjoy: the beach is reported to be about four to six feet wider than last year. But it has more gravel this season. “A downside is that it’s very exposed to the wind,” says regular visitor Michael Velkoff. “There’s so much driftwood on the sand that many people build windbreaks or even whole forts. The last time I went, somebody built a 30-foot-tall dragon.” The breathtakingly beautiful beach seems even bigger than its one mile length because, Velkoff says, “you might only see eight people spread out on the sand. Everybody’s like 100 feet apart. It’s great.”

Directions: From Stinson Beach, take Highway 1 (Shoreline Highway) north toward Calle Del Mar for 4.5 miles. Turn left onto Olema Bolinas Road and follow it 1.8 miles to Mesa Road in Bolinas. Turn right and stay on Mesa until you see cars parked past some old transmission towers. Park and walk a 0.25 to the end of the pavement. Go left through the gap in the fence. The trail leads to a gravel road. Follow it until you see a path on your right, leading through a gate. Take it along the cliff top until it veers down to the beach. Or continue along Mesa until you come to a grove of eucalyptus trees. Enter through the gate here, then hike a 0.5 mile through a cow pasture on a path that will also bring you through thick brush. The second route is slippery and eroding, but less steep.



You can tour long, lovely Limantour in Point Reyes National Seashore while wearing only your smile and some suntan lotion. Few visitors realize the narrow spit of sand is clothing-optional. But unless there are complaints or if you beach your bare body too close to a parking lot or the main entrance, you shouldn’t be hassled. The site is so big — about 2.5 miles long — you can wander for hours, checking out ducks and other waterfowl, shorebirds such as endangered snowy plovers, gray whales in the spring, and playful harbor seals (offshore and on the north side). Dogs are allowed on six-foot leashes on the south end. Directions: Follow Highway 101 north to the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard exit, then follow Sir Francis through San Anselmo and Lagunitas to Olema. At the intersection with Highway 1, turn right onto the highway. Just north of Olema, go left on Bear Valley Road. A mile after the turnoff for the Bear Valley Visitor Center, turn left (at the Limantour Beach sign) on Limantour Road and follow it 11 miles to the parking lot at the end. Walk north a 0.5 mile until you see some dunes about 50 yards east of the shore. Nudists usually prefer the valleys between the dunes for sunbathing. “One Sunday we had 200 yards to ourselves,” says a nudist. But lately, the dunes have been more crowded.

Editor’s Notes



I’m a pension-reform advocate. I think the current system is not only bad public policy, but that it’s not sustainable in the long run. But I’m not convinced that the plan proposed by Public Defender Jeff Adachi is good public policy, either — and I’m not convinced that it works in the long run.

Adachi wants to mandate that city employees pay between 9 percent and 10 percent of their salaries into the city pension fund. He also wants to make employees pay more for dependent health care. He points out that the changes would save the city around $170 million a year.

But what he’s proposing is an across-the-board pay cut for city employees — on top of the cuts they’ve already taken in the past several budget cycles — and that’s a dangerous thing to do in a recession.

Think about it. That $170 million is money that city workers won’t be spending buying food, clothes, movie tickets, restaurant meals, or any of the thousands of other things that can help get the economy going again. It won’t be a fair pay cut, either. The clerk who makes $40,000 a year will get a $4,000 cut, leaving him or her with just $36,000, while the senior manager who makes $150,000 a year will get hit with the same 10 percent cut, leaving him or her with $135,000 a year. In one case, it’s the difference between making rent and not; in the other, it’s cutting out some discretionary spending. Even the Internal Revenue Service doesn’t operate on that principle.

There’s a larger point here, too. I hear from Adachi, and from many others, that when the city is broke, when the pension system can’t meet its obligations, then everyone has to give back. Everyone has to take a haircut. Everyone has to share the pain.

But as Robert Cruickshank pointed out on the Calitics blog recently, public employees, and poor people, and middle-class private sector workers, and people who need public services, and kids who go to public schools, and college students … they’ve been giving back for years. The rich, the big corporations, the people and institutions that have fared so well under the Bush-era tax cuts … they haven’t given back a dime.

It’s true that there’s pension abuse, the vast majority of it in the management and public safety areas. There are cops who make too much money anyway, get pay bumps right before they retire, and walk away with 90 percent of their artificially inflated salaries — for life. I could see capping pensions for each pay grade, and I could see requiring people who make more than $100,000 a year to contribute more to their pension funds.

But I think it has to be done in combination with new revenue. It has to be done in combination with an acknowledgment that in this budget crisis, some parts of our city, some parts of our society, aren’t hurting at all, and are refusing to help out with anyone else’s pain. We simply are not sharing the burden equally. And until we can start to change that, I’m not so thrilled with blaming the middle-class city workers for the local budget problem.

Newsom and the board’s challenge


EDITORIAL The San Francisco supervisors took a huge step with the city budget this year: they essentially told the mayor that his approach was unacceptable, and that they were going to do it themselves.

The result — the document that the board’s Budget Committee approved and sent back to Mayor Gavin Newsom — isn’t perfect. But the members of that panel saved $40 million worth of programs from the mayor’s budget ax and got rid of two particularly bad plans: privatizing health care at the county jails and allowing more condominium conversions.

The board members are also looking seriously at putting as much as $100 million in new taxes — progressive taxes — on the November ballot. Current plans include a modest increase in the hotel tax, an increase in the real-estate transfer tax on high-end properties, and a tax on commercial rents of more than $200,000 a year, which would be paired with a reduction in the payroll tax for small businesses.

Now Newsom, who is busy running for lieutenant governor, needs to decide whether he’s serious when he says he wants to work with the supervisors on a budget everyone can accept.

On one level, the mayor doesn’t have a lot of choice — if he vetoes the proposal the board sent him, there’s a good chance the supervisors will override the veto. What he’s more likely to do is simply refuse to spend the additional money the board wants to allocate — allowing his cuts to take effect, allowing critical services to die and community-based nonprofits to close, while that money just sits in a reserve fund (or gets allocated to the mayor’s other priorities).

That would be a terrible statement for someone who claims he can be a positive force in Sacramento and who clearly wants to run for governor some day. The board has presented a budget that’s still fairly moderate — the tax hikes aren’t included in the spending plan, and most of what Newsom asked for is. It’s the kind of plan that a Democrat who wants to run California some day ought to be embracing. Unfortunately, Newsom insists on running on the Republican platform of cuts only, no new taxes. (Although he’s stuck a lot of hidden taxes, called fees, on small businesses.)

The mayor also has tried to use the budget process to kill some several ballot measures he doesn’t like. He wants the supervisors to get rid of proposals that would give the board shared appointments to the Rent Board and the Recreation and Park Commission along with a plan mandating community policing. In essence, he’s asked the supervisors to abandon other good-government reform policies in exchange for saving critical public services. That’s apparently not illegal (although offering to trade votes is). At the very least, however, it’s unseemly, and the board needs to make clear that it won’t accept this sort of hostage-taking.

It the mayor wants to have any kind of a productive year — and show that he can actually work with legislators — he needs to sign the budget the board sends to him and agree to spend the money the way it’s earmarked. Otherwise he’ll be acting like the governor of California — and that politician’s approval rating is about the lowest on record.

A new New Deal for San Francisco


OPINION On Thursday and Friday, July 8 and 9, San Franciscans concerned about the future of their city will have a unique opportunity to devise practical, locally actionable proposals to shape and direct future policy affecting the local economy and the provision of critical human services.

On July 8, starting at 3:30 p.m. at SF Lighthouse Church (1337 Sutter at Van Ness), a New Deal for the City economic development summit will be held to address set of issues ranging from municipal reform to community-based economic development proposals. A copy of the draft positions can be found at www.sfcommunitycongress.wordpress.com.

The next day, the San Francisco Human Services Network, a 110-member organization of human and health service nonprofits, will host its New Realities summit starting at 9 a.m. at the McClaren Center at the University of San Francisco. More details about topics at the summit can be found at www.sfhsn.org/index.

The results of these two summits, along with proposals on Muni reform and affordable housing, will form the basis for a citywide meeting of “The New, New Deal for San Francisco” Congress, scheduled for Aug. 14 and 15 at USF.

The summits and congress offer a chance to discuss, adopt, and plan the implementation of a comprehensive response to the assault on the provision of critical public services and the clear failure of the local economy to respond to the current and future needs of San Franciscans. Over the past decade, San Francisco has lost, and never replaced, more than 70,000 permanent jobs as first the dot-com bust and now the implosion of the financial sector have shredded the city’s “new” economy. In a total reversal of its historic role, San Francisco is no longer the employment center of the Bay Area, but simply the high-end bedroom of a commuting workforce based outside the city.

This historic shift has meant that the primary form of development in San Francisco has gone from commercial, employment-based enterprises to high-end residential development — development that, because of Proposition 13 limits on local property taxes, simply fails to pay for the city services needed to support the existing and new residential population.

San Franciscans built a system of local governance that was unique in the state, and not often matched in the nation, in providing a level of municipal services based on the premise that we share a special place and a common future. These services were provided by a robust mixture of traditional public sector departments and innovative, community-based nonprofits. That system was itself based on an economy that mainly employed San Francisco residents in a diverse mix of economic activities with opportunities open to a wide array of people.

That economic base has been reduced to a mere shell of its former diversity, with few opportunities for even fewer people. Our current mayor has no desire to address this historic shift; instead, he is content to endlessly campaign for other offices, issue press releases on mythical achievements, and pit one portion of San Francisco against another in hopes that all forget the decline of the city under his leadership.

Progressive forces cannot again allow needed changes to be held hostage to the election of a particular candidate. We must put on the table a comprehensive, integrated set of locally actionable policies that make sense in the realities we face in the second decade of the 21st century — no matter who wins. After all, it’s our city.

Karl Bietel is a worker advocate; Fernando Marti is a community planner; and Calvin Welch is a balanced growth and affordable housing advocate.


To barflys



CHEAP EATS I went into the liquor store and bought a bottle of Extra Strength Excedrin, that was all.

“Bag?” the guy behind the counter said. Like the rest of the store, he was aflicker with fluorescence.

I was afraid to shake my head. “No thank you,” I said, very very softly.

He gave me a bag. I decided to look at it like this: I had a bag! I could fold it up and keep it in my purse, I could recycle it, write a poem on it, make a funny hand-puppet for the kids, pack a lunch … a small brown paper bag has many uses. I remembered my mother leaning forward in a soft chair in a darkened room, her eyes rimmed in red, breathing into just such a bag.

The rest of the family had found better things to do — playing outside, getting married — but I sat cross-legged on the living room carpet, a discreet distance away, watching my broken-down mother breathe into a paper bag, and learning loneliness.

Outside the fluorescent liquor store 30 years later was a bright, lovely day, and I knew I had to get out of it. I unhitched my bike, then rehitched it, walked five or six parking meters down the street, and ducked into a dark bar with two old guys and a bartender.

I sat between the two old guys. One was reading a newspaper, the other was just blinking.

“What can I get you, young lady?” the bartender asked, though my guess is I’m older than him.

“A Coke and a glass of water.” I smiled at the old man who wasn’t reading the newspaper, and he blinked. Maybe he was trying to focus. If so, we had that in common.

I opened my new bottle of pills, popped two, drank some water, drank half my Coke, and the bartender said, and I quote, “Headache?”

I nodded. I love bars. I wish I loved to drink, too. I would spend more time in bars, and then my life would be different. I met Crawdad de la Cooter in a bar, and a lot of great people in bars. People I didn’t meet in bars include: the German asshole, an Argentinean asshole, that Canadian one, and a whole lot of home-grown crap.

“I have a date for dinner,” I said, after we had discussed print media vs. electronics, children, the neighborhood, Proposition 8, and sports. I’m talking about me and the bartender. The newspaperman was only interested in his newspaper, and the man who blinked had left, his mood no doubt ruined by young women and Cokes and such.

“Oh yeah, where are you going?” the bartender said.

So then we got to talk about neighborhood restaurants. The neighborhood was Rockridge, but where we ended up eating was in Temescal, at the tapas place across the street from Pizzaiolo, which was closed.

And, no offense to the tapas, but I wish I had cancelled that date instead of curing my headache with a Coke and Excedrin beforehand. My mom, for example, doesn’t believe in Western medicine, not even aspirin. She thinks your body can take care of itself, and now I have to wonder if sometimes my headaches are trying to tell me something: “Stay in this bar, with these friendly and harmless people, and with at least 15 TVs to look at,” my headache was saying. “Eventually it will be tomorrow morning and soccer will come on.” Or: “Go home and go to sleep.”

Also, I remember now what I love about sports — fandom, I mean, in this case. It brings people together. In sports bars and stadiums and living rooms, where there are things to eat and drink.

At the Phoenix, where I managed to watch a lot of the soccer that I watched during this World Cup, I sometimes ran into people I knew, and sometimes sat and twitched or stood and cheered with people I didn’t. It was crowded in there, always. And people stood on the sidewalk on Valencia Street, looking in.

More important, bangers and mash: two big smoke-tinged sausages that were soft like butter inside, baked beans, smasheds, and a great Guinness gravy drenching everything. New favorite bar:


Mon.–Fri. 11 a.m.–2 a.m.; Sat.–Sun. 10 a.m.–2 a.m.

811 Valencia, SF

(415) 695-1811


Full bar