Volume 45 Number 10

Don’t trip


New Rkelly album out Dec 14th that I will soon be immensely non-ironically enjoying
2:48 PM  Dec10th via web

sometimes listening to KMEL all day feels like an insane psychological experiment
4:15 PM Dec 9th via web

Damn…Aretha Franklin is dying? 🙁
3:02 AM Dec 9th via Echofon

nothing is worse than a one man beatbox loop station band unless he is breakdancing or juggling or doing graffiti at the same time
11:31 PM Dec 5th via web

reggie watts- the quirky comedian who incorporates beat box loop station songs into his act. I will regret that youtube search for life.
11:16 PM Dec 5th via web

Just informed someone who didn’t know that dio was dead. Heavy moment
7:36 PM Dec 3rd via Echofon

I wonder what kind of pussy the guys in Trans-siberian orchestra get?
11:10 PM Dec 1st via web

2nd bubba sparxx record is so good.
Sunday, Nov 28, 2010 10:51:05 PM via web

Your house is my nitrous den. I leave my gear there RT @ALEXISPENNEY just saw the cannister and balloons that @swiftumz left in our pantry
2:04 PM Nov 25th via Echofon

K-Ci and JoJo have a reality show!!
2:24 PM Nov 25th via web

everyones “beatles on itunes” jokes fucking suck
2:24 PM Nov 17th via web

wow…singer from blur and FLEA are working on an album of AFRICAN music with Tony Allen…THIS IS NOT A JOKE
1:01 PM Nov 17th via web

“I like any bar I can lay down in”
11:14 PM Nov 12th via Echofon

Been thinking about the west Memphis three a lot lately- about how much I don’t care.
11:12 PM Nov 12th via Echofon

trey songz “bottoms up”is like the best shit out right now.
1:32 PM Nov 12th via web

wow just saw the most racist mcrib commercial ever
5:49 PM Nov 11th via web

leaving hateful comments on local bands youtube pages
12:36 AM Nov 11th via web

I’d like a time lapse film of the healthy, fresh organic food I buy at the beginning of the week slowly wilting in my fridge.
11:55 PM Nov 10th via web

Jackée and Rodney Dangerfields duet of “Great balls of fire” is the definitive version of that song.
5:41 PM Nov 6th via Echofon

@HunxandhisPunx watching ladybugZ 🙂
4:49 PM Nov 6th via Echofon

almost every outkast song gets exponentially shittier each time you hear it.
5:14 PM Nov 15th via web

Die Antwoord is like the worst phenomenon
12:51 PM Nov 5th via web

Big Momma’s House 3 better be in 3D
5:48 PM Oct 27th via web

I hope Eddie Rabbitt wasn’t a stage name because that’s a bad one
1:51 AM Oct 24th via Echofon

I love a rainy night (RIP Eddie Rabbit)
1:50 AM Oct  24th via Echofon

just told drake to shut up and angrily turned off the radio.
1:56 PM Oct 21st via web

they need to invent more dimensions so movies can have more sequels
5:17 PM Oct 11th via web

really happy the Usher/Tre Songz tour is called the “OMG tour”. Gonna be bummed when this era is over.
12:29 PM Oct 7th via web

Always excited to meet someone with an “Anticon” hoody cuz I can tell them all about actual good music to listen to. Especially rap
9:18 PM Oct 1st via Echofon

Last night while complaining about Marley children, I was informed that marc bolans son performs t Rex covers under the name “Rolan Bolan”
3:53  PM Sept 28th via Echofon

wearing a different michael jackson shirt than yesterday.
3:15 PM Sept 15th via web

true story: when I saw pantera in high school I threw an employees hat I took from taco bell onstage and dimebag wore it for the whole show!
2:09 AM Sept 14th via web

making more hits with superproducer @mylesusa today!
6:57 PM Sept 11th via the web

I do really love how earth wind and fire never abandoned the kalimba.
5:23 AM Sept 4th via web

spent 21$ at 7-11 now playing guitar in the mirror as things are heating up
4:52 AM Sept 4th via Echofon

Congratulations to Cee Lo for writing a song worse than “crazy”, no fuck YOU cee lo.
6:51 PM Sept 3 via Echofon

the playlist entitled “me” on my itunes is morphing into a super good album
12:06 AM Sept 2 via web

BART tickets are the best DIY floss
2:35 AM August 13th via Echofon

So stoked on my team of super producers @mylesusa @commasounds @staylucid @swiftumz
10:47 PM Aug 11th via Echofon

@HarlemWhateverr put on the Go-betweens and call it a day. Duh
12:03 PM July 30th via Echofon in reply to HarlemWhateverr

The Hannah Montana movie on second viewing blurs the lines of reality way more than inception or the matrix.
2:12 AM July 19th via Echofon

She also described someone she thought was cute as “thom yorke-like”…double doozy
7:41 PM July 13th via Echofon

Not talking to this lady anymore who isn’t excited about Weird Als upcoming show at the Warfield. #dealbreaker
7:40 PM July 13 via Echofon

lyric from the new prince song: “from the heart of minnesota, here comes the purple yoda” #notjoking
10:58 AM July 12th via web

Starting mixtape at 3am…no Jim Nabors
3:09 AM July 9th via Echofon

Jim Nabors record thrown out of my 4th story window #jimnabors
3:07AM July 7th via Echofon

Listening to Jim Nabors record #timeforbed
3:06 AM July 7th via Echofon

i’m wearing swim trunks and an oversize ICP shirt right now
10:19 PM July 6th via web

“someone spilled a beer in the doritos?” actual quote
2:29 AM July 3rd via Echofon

my iPhone recognizes “chillwave” as a word
11:05 July 1 via Echofon

I wish someone would just organize a flash mob of people punching themselves in the face
11:16 PM Jun 25th via web

Hmmm I wonder how that new sushi place that just opened across the street from the JAIL is…
4:15 PM Jun 25th via Echofon

listening to GAS at work, makes my whole day like an episode of twin peaks
3:01 PM Jun 25th via web

JAH- please make it rain on everyone trying to see Pavement tonight. =D
1:16 PM Jun 25th via web

Toni tone Tony “house of music” LP hasn’t left my record player for a week. A seriously great album.
1:11 AM Jun 24th via Echofon

Whoa macy gray is on TV…always wondered what happened to him
12:52 AM Jun 24th via Echofon

@truepanther sorry dean-nice try, but i’m already signed
3:13 AM Jun 19th via web in reply to truepanther

inhaling insane amounts of sour diesel and listening to durutti column right now #lifeisgood
2:58 AM Jun 19th via web

I should go to bed but I can’t stop listening to mercyful fate #worshipsatan
1:07 AM Jun 17th via web

ouch! curtis mayfield just made me shed a little tear right here at my desk
2:47 PM Jun 11th via web

maybe betty white could join RUNDMC as the DJ???
5:55 PM Jun 3rd via web

is anything stupider than graffiti? Maybe beatboxing?
1:04 PM May 25th via web

Every time I clean my room I find a hit of E
7:07 PM May 18th via Echofon

Listening to Alice Coltrane “universal consciousness” and I have not one shitty thing to say about it. #positivity #universalconsciousness
6:53 PM May 18th via web

this improvisation battle between brian setzer and the country bears fiddle player is intense
11:59 PM May 17th via web

i’ve already given country bears a four star rating on netflix based on the first three minutes.
11:18 PM May 17th via web

holy shit this live action country bears movie is fucking horrifying!!!
11:17 PM May 17th via web

Every time wyclef says “one time” on killing me softly a small part of me dies #shutupandlettheladysing
11:35 AM May 5 via Echofon

I reckon cypress hills bongo player is among the best i’ve ever seen #\:=D
10 PM April 20th via Echofon

These children just handed us a lit joint as big as my index finger
8:55 PM April 20th via Echofon

A new teenage fanclub album and big mommas house 3 in the same year? regained my will to live.
1:15 Pm April 20th via Echofon

I wish the voice in my head was Lee Hazelwoods or Harry Nillsons, maybe then I’d listen to my conscience.
3:41 Pm April 16th via web

Fuck you bjork, you’re the dave matthews band of weird chicks
5:50 PM Mar 31st via Echofon

Bob Marley’s kids are whiter than Michael Jackson’s kids
10:24 PM Mar 17th via Echofon

The oscars r so backwards…that lady is going to win for ‘the hurt locker’ when she should have won for ‘point break’
11:08 PM Mar 4 via Echofon

“do you like noise music?” “no I like that song on the new cat food commercial”
4:44 PM Mar 4 via Echofon

Kinda wish yoko would stop talking about peace and stuff and just brag to the crowd about how great it felt to be filthy rich
10:40 PM Feb 23rd via Echofon

I’m excited to see yoko Ono tomorrow because deerhoof is opening and I want to hate on them
6:20 PM Feb 22nd via Echofon

seriously “on the beach” is like the last thing i’d want to listen to on the beach
12:43 PM Jan 29th via web

Just got asked my favorite question when I’m carrying a guitar in public. “Do you play music?”
3:29 PM Jan 23rd via Echofon

KMEL just had a mini Aaliyah marathon. Not complaining.
4:53 PM Jan 14th via web

I’m confident that I can play guitar better than the following people – Bono, mick jagger, eddie vedder, and the guy from puddle of mudd
12:59 Am Jan 8th via web

“puddle of mudd” performing on tv. shit like this amazes me.
12:57 AM Jan 8th via web

I’m serious when I say the lady who plays the cello for the go betweens can outshred anyone
4:36 PM Jan 6th via Echofon

swiftumz’ album Don’t Trip is coming out on Holy Mountain in spring 2011

Appetite: Blue Ribbon classics


Two of the nicest chefs you’ll ever meet, Bruce and Eric Bromberg (brothers), spread the warmth of their NY Blue Ribbon Restaurants globally. I have happy memories of late nights at the original Blue Ribbon Sushi on Sullivan Street long before Blue Ribbon grew to multiple restaurants around NYC. As I write, they are on their way to Las Vegas to open their first restaurant outside NY. They are also touring the world to launch their Blue Ribbon Classics menu at Renaissance Hotel bars… a brief menu of some of the most popular plates and cocktails from their NY restaurants. In SF, the menu just launched at the Stanford Court on Nob Hill, a recently remodeled, chic lobby bar with a youthful hipness (not your typical Nob Hill).

None of this sounds particularly down-to-earth, I’ll admit. During a media dinner last week, I went in expecting a tasting and brief “meet and greet” with the chefs. I took stairs down to the now-defunct but historic Fournou’s Ovens, an intimate space with the famous stoves lining one wall where whole ducks were roasted daily. The Bromberg bros happily recall their dad bringing them here as kids. There was a long table glowing with candles and fruits, as if at a friend’s intimate dinner. The Bromberg’s oldest brother was present, as was their dad, cousins, and childhood friend (they grew in New Jersey, so we have that in common). As media, we spent an engaging couple hours with the chefs themselves.

The titular ovens from now-closed Fournou’s Ovens

As for the menu, it is glorified bar food, including white bean hummus toasts ($10) drizzled with lemon oil, and their famed fried chicken in the form of wings ($12) with their own Mexican honey. I do have three words I want you to utter when at the Stanford Court bar: pork chip nachos ($6). These are not nachos but tender chicharrones. Yes, it’s a pile of pork rinds, soaked ever so subtly, giving the usual crisp a melting factor, tossed with queso fresco, red onion, cilantro and jalapeno. Addictive. Sip a bright Michelada ($10) using Napa Smith pilsner, fresh lime, hot sauce, garnished with a red and green chile, and you have yourself a happy hour indeed.

Pick up the Bromberg Brother’s recent cookbook to create their elevated comfort food recipes yourself, like their popular spicy egg shooters (also on the menu at the Stanford Court), baked blintz souffle with brown sugar bananas, or “really good brisket”. As the brothers spoke of their mission when founding the first restaurant many years ago, the Blue Ribbon name came from a desire to treat each person, whether a diner or staff, as ‘first place’: important, welcome, cared for. With some restaurateurs, this could come across disingenuous, and not entirely realistic. As I experienced the way we were treated that night by the Bromberg family, I can see they have not only built their success on this philosophy but that they mean every word.

–Subscribe to Virgina’s twice monthly newsletter, The Perfect Spot: http://theperfectspotsf.com

Violence please!


Christmas is here early, horror geeks: not only is a brand-new print of 1980’s Maniac playing the Castro Theatre, but director William Lustig will be in attendance. After the big-screen experience, make sure Santa knows you want the extras-packed 30th anniversary DVD, released by Lustig’s own Blue Underground label, wrapped in bloody butcher paper under the tree.

For the uninitiated, Maniac — the tale of a mommy-haunted New York City creep who stalks and kills women, using their body parts to accessorize his mannequin collection — features a tour de force performance by the late Joe Spinell, who co-wrote the screenplay. Spinell was a grindhouse favorite who also appeared in the first two Rocky movies, the first two Godfather movies, and Taxi Driver (1976). Lustig directed Spinell in 1983’s Vigilante; he also helmed the Maniac Cop series. He hasn’t directed a feature since 1997’s horror comedy Uncle Sam (“I want you … DEAD!”), but he’s still very much involved in the world of genre films. Since I’m a Maniac maniac, I gave him a call at his New York City office to talk about exploding heads and other topics.

SFBG How long have you been planning Maniac‘s 30th anniversary celebration?

William Lustig About 18 months ago, the idea popped into my head that it was time to freshen up the movie. Six months ago, somebody came up with the idea of testing it as a theatrical release. We started playing it in Seattle, New York, and Los Angeles, and it’s done quite well, so we’re going to be rolling it out over the next three or four months in about 50 cities throughout North America.

SFBG Are most audiences already familiar with the movie, or are you getting some first-timers?

WL People who have seen it on video make up a good portion of the audience, but the other portion are seeing it for the first time. It’s amazing — you know, when you make a movie like this, I guess it’s like somebody who makes a comedy. After a while, you don’t find it funny anymore. As a person who made a horrific movie, I can’t imagine anybody finding it scary, and yet people do. They still respond as strongly as people did 30 years ago. It feels great!

SFBG Are you surprised that Maniac became such a cult favorite?

WL Somebody recently asked me, when did I realize it was a classic? I guess it must have been about 18 months ago when I realized that this movie continues to sell, continues to intrigue people. I think a portion of it is the mystique of its star, Joe Spinell, who’s become kind of a cult figure for people who are rediscovering movies from the ’70s. But Maniac is not a film that was lost and now it’s been found — it’s been around and it continues to attract audiences and to please them.

SFBG What was Joe Spinell like in real life?

WL Like any great actor, there was a part of Joe in every role he played. Joe was a loner, and he was an insomiac. He would roam the streets of New York and be at bars until all hours. He was a troubled soul, but at the same time, he was one of the most brilliant people I ever met. He had a charisma that would attract beautiful women even though he wasn’t a classically handsome guy. He had a magic about him. So when you see Maniac, there are aspects of his personality in there.

SFBG Maniac was quite controversial when it was released. Did that surprise you?

WL You know, when you’re making a movie and you’re throwing ketchup around, it’s almost kind of comical. It’s not intended to be serious — you intend it to be a kind of roller-coaster ride for an audience. And when people take a movie like that so seriously, and look at it as being a political statement, and look at it as being some kind an outcry for violence against women and things like that, it kind of takes you aback. When I made the film, I was 24 years old and I was just trying to survive the experience. I wasn’t thinking about the wider implications of what we were doing. And I think we’ve gone beyond that in the world today. I think we kind of look at it as being make-believe.

SFBG I have to ask you about the famous exploding head, courtesy of effects wizard Tom Savini. Did you realize that would be Maniac‘s defining moment?

WL I think after we made the movie, we realized it had a tremendous impact. But when we were doing it, we were like burglars in the night. First off, there is no permit in existence, in any part of New York City, or I would imagine in any part of the country, that allows to you fire a live gun on a movie set and on public streets. Which is what we did — we actually filmed that in that parking lot, under the Verrazano Bridge, with a live shotgun, double-loaded. That was our major concern: would we get busted? It wasn’t until later, when we saw the dailies, that we realized, “Holy shit! It actually turned out to be something!” We rigged up three cameras and we just went for it.

SFBG You’re the owner of Blue Underground, which has released top-notch DVDs and Blu-rays of Maniac and other grindhouse movies. Why did you become such a champion of these films?

WL It was kind of satisfying my own need. I always loved having people over to my house, showing them these obscure grindhouse movies that I had seen on 42nd Street in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and I would see their [enthusiastic] reactions. One of the things that bothered me back in the ’80s and the ’90s was that these movies were never really treated with any respect. So it was my intention to treat grindhouse movies the same way Criterion treats its Fellini movies.


Just One of the Guys (1985), Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Point Break (1991), Fri., 9:30 p.m.;

Maniac: The Restored Director’s Cut (1980), Fri., midnight, $12

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6120 www.castrotheatre.com

‘Nutcracker’ and beyond


You don’t have to be into winter solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa celebrations to realize that there’s something about December — the end of another decade this time around, the darkest part of the year — that calls out for treats either for yourself or a friend or two. Here are a few dance-related suggestions between now and the end of the year that won’t bust your budget.

Born in Imperial Russia, The Nutcracker has become a peculiarly American institution. Almost against my will, it pulls me in every time. Though bifurcated, the masterful music — no matter its commercialization — pulls together the story of a brave little girl and her adventures. Reasonably priced options exist. San Francisco Ballet’s (through Dec. 27; War Memorial Opera House, SF) starts at $32. Take binoculars, you’ll be fine. The Oakland Ballet Company’s highly acclaimed version by new Artistic Director Graham Lustig (Dec. 23-26; Paramount Theater, Oakl.) starts at $15. Berkeley Ballet Theater’s (Dec. 10-12 and 17-19; Julia Morgan Theater, Berk.) has a one-price ticket for $26. After 20 years, this will be former ODC dancer Brian Fisher’s last Fritz.

If you like your Nutcracker to have sharp edges, the Dance Brigade’s mashup of politics and fun, The Revolutionary Nutcracker Sweetie (Dec. 11-12; Brava Theater, SF; $15–$17), has been reimagined by another generation of grrrl dancers and friends. The Dance Along Nutcracker (Dec. 11-12; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SF; $16–$50) was a hoot the first time around and continues to be a splendid mix of circus, dress-up, and community celebration. This year the revelers have invited the Twilight Vixen Revue. The SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band does the musical honors — fabulously.

Stepping outside of Nutcracker territory into original holiday fare, Kirstin E. Williams’ all-female Strong Pulse company hooks up with CCSF students for Be Cool, (Dec. 10-11; CCSF Performance Theater, SF; $10–$15) a jazz/ modern dance/hip-hop concert that is guaranteed to resonate all over the Phelan Avenue campus.

If you have never seen ShaSha Higby work her magic with phantasmagoric concoctions of human-made and natural materials, be prepared to being pulled into a world as dreamlike as it is tangible. In Folds of Gold (through Dec. 10-11; Noh Space, SF; $12-20) examines deep winter issues surrounding life, death, and rebirth.

The circus-based Sweet Can Productions newest show, Candid (Dec. 17-Jan. 9; Dance Mission Theater, SF; $15–$60), is sweet but not saccharine-sweet. These performers juggle and subvert cherished concepts as well as objects — brooms, dinner plates, hula hoops — to stretch credulity and the imagination. It’s what happens when life meets art.

With Lo Clásico, (Dec. 17-19; Cowell Theater, SF; $15–$35), Caminos Flamencos — 22 dancers and musicians — are performing Spain’s two major historical dance forms. There is, of course, flamenco, including Yaelisa’s breathtaking Soleares, but also examples of lesser-known Spanish classical dance choreographed to Ravel and de Falla.

WestWave Dance (Dec. 13; Cowell Theater, SF; $22–$68) closes its season with another quintet of new choreography by Pam Gonzales (from L.A.), Alyce Finwall, Christy Funsch, Carolé Acuna, and Ingrid Graham. The festival curates promising work by artists who can’t on their own afford the professional production values WestWave offers.

How about insight into dancers’ thought processes? For free? Chime Live (Dec. 11; Margaret Jenkins Dance Lab, SF; free) offers conversations and showings of work from Margaret Jenkins Dance Lab’s mentoring program. In the monthly program “2nd Sundays” (Dec. 12; CounterPULSE, SF; free), artists show pieces-in-progress and invite feedback. “Dancemaker’s Forum” (Dec. 19; SF Conservatory of Dance, SF; free) workshops new choreography by Manuelito Biag.

Contact improvisation has become a valued tool for choreographers, but it’s also a glorious performance art that redefines the concept of being “in the moment.” One of its originators, the masterful Nancy Stark Smith (Dec. 18; Eighth Street Studios, Berk.; $10–$20) is in town to connect with local and guest practitioners.

The connection between the Odette and Odile characters has puzzled Swan Lake lovers forever; the roles used to be danced by two different performers. SF Ballet’s recent production hinted at one interpretation. For another take, you might want to go to the movies and see Natalie Portman in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (now playing; Bay Area theaters; prices vary).

Pass the DREAM Act, now


by Eric Mar and Eric Quezada


OPINION Imagine for a moment that you are 14 years old. Your parents, stuck in perpetual poverty and unemployment (or perhaps worse), move your family to a foreign country to begin a new life.

You work hard, struggle to fit in, study constantly, and fill your spare time with school activities. Maybe you even work a little on the side to chip in. You are a parent’s dream, and a model of young citizenship.

Except that you’re not a citizen. And one day, even as you’ve mastered English and flourished in school and in the community, you are stopped like a criminal by federal authorities.

This is what happened to Steve Li, an engaging and industrious 20-year-old student at City College of San Francisco and a graduate from George Washington High School. He always thought he was an average San Franciscan until the morning of Sept. 15, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents suddenly raided his home and arrested him and his parents. Steve was incarcerated in Arizona for more than 60 days, far from his friends and family. Through a full-court legal and legislative press, and a groundswell of immigrant community organizing leading to a private emergency bill by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Li has temporarily staved off deportation. But Li and thousands of other hard-working young immigrant Americans could soon be summarily tossed out of the country if Congress doesn’t act now to pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

The DREAM Act is a common-sense, bipartisan measure that is urgently needed to avoid countless other Steve Li cases. Despite congressional wavering on comprehensive immigration reform (which a consistent majority of Americans support), everyone should be able to agree on the basic right of undocumented immigrant minors, who are moved here by their parents, to gain steps toward obtaining citizenship.

In brief, the DREAM Act would enable some immigrant students who have grown up in the U.S. to apply for temporary legal status and to eventually obtain permanent status and become eligible for U.S. citizenship if they go to college or serve in the U.S. military.

According to the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), about 65,000 U.S.-raised high school students could qualify for the DREAM Act’s benefits each year. As NICL puts it, “These include honor roll students, star athletes, talented artists, homecoming queens, and aspiring teachers, doctors, and U.S. soldiers. They are young people who have lived in the U.S. for most of their lives and desire only to call this country their home … they face unique barriers to higher education, are unable to work legally in the U.S., and often live in constant fear of detection by immigration authorities.”

It makes no moral, economic, or social good sense to continue tearing apart families and communities and disrupting young people’s lives — all at great expense to the American public and taxpayers.

The time to act is now: please call your congressional representatives today and urge them to vote yes on the DREAM Act — without any amendments that might undermine its effectiveness. Although Nancy Pelosi and most Bay Area Democrats support the bill, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) and the Republicans are either on the fence or opposed. There’s no time to waste in giving hard-working young immigrant students this most American ideal — the opportunity to make their dreams a reality.

Eric Mar is a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Eric Quezada is executive director of Dolores Street Community Services in San Francisco.

Class of 2010: Jane Kim



Despite fears that a candidate backed by downtown could replace firebrand progressive leader Sup. Chris Daly in District 6, in the end it was the two progressive candidates — Jane Kim and Debra Walker — who finished far in front of the large pack of candidates, with Kim winning the race. And she thinks that says something about how the progressive movement has matured.

“To have the two leading candidates be progressives says a lot about the progressive political community,” Kim said. “The race was really between Debra and me in end.”

Kim, a 33-year-old attorney and the outgoing president of the San Francisco Board of Education, has been active in progressive politics in San Francisco for many years, from doing community organizing with the Chinatown Community Development Center to running the short-lived San Francisco People’s Organization, which Daly helped create.

Yet part of her campaign strategy, and the message that she’s sending in the wake of an election that divided the progressive community, focuses on issues and themes that are more common to political moderates: job creation, clean streets, public safety, and neighborhood services.

“I think it’s important for progressives to cross over, and I don’t think it should be viewed as selling out,” Kim told us. “Progressives need to do a good job at maintaining voters’ faith in the progressives’ ability to lead.”

In addition to courting progressive groups and voters, Kim’s campaign aggressively targeted residents of the residential condo towers in Rincon Hill and Eastern SoMa, voters who are generally more affluent and newer to San Francisco than the typical progressive constituencies.

“It’s a lot of new residents who don’t feel like they’re a part of any political faction and they’re really open,” Kim said. “People just want to see that things are better. They want the streets to be clean and safe.”

With a new mayor and new blood on the Board of Supervisors, Kim said this is an important political moment for San Francisco, “a huge opportunity” to redefine San Francisco politics in the wake of Mayor Gavin Newsom and progressive supervisors such as Aaron Peskin, Matt Gonzalez, Tom Ammiano, and Daly.

“The Class of 2000 was able to show how progressive we can be with policy. They really pushed the envelope,” Kim said, citing new worker and tenant protections and programs such as Healthy San Francisco. Now, she said, the challenge for progressives in the Classes of 2010 and 2008 is to show that they can provide effective leadership in realms like public safety and economic development. “If we’re able to lead on those two issues, it would really firm up our leadership of the city,” Kim said, noting that it would also affect the dynamics of next year’s mayor’s race.

While Kim didn’t go into detail about how she intends to deal with what she says is the biggest challenge facing the new board — a budget deficit of $700 million over two years, coming at a time when all the easy cuts have already been made in recent years — she said the city needs to be aggressive in boosting the local economy and ensuring San Franciscans get most city contracts.

“We need to figure out how we can partner with small business to create a diversity of jobs in San Francisco,” she said, noting that the average San Franciscan has more faith in the moderates’ ability to create jobs, something that progressives need to address. But how can she help break the grip that the conservative San Francisco Chamber of Commerce has on small businesses?

“Part of the problem is that small businesses aren’t organized,” Kim said, noting how that hurt Sup. David Chiu’s ability to win support this year for his business tax reform measure that would have helped most small businesses and made some large corporations pay more taxes. “They’re busy running their businesses and they don’t have the time to look at the details, so they just read the briefing of the Chamber of Commerce.”

Kim said she respects the leadership role Daly has played in progressive politics and that she’d “like to be part of the moral compass of the Board of Supervisors.” But she also said that Daly’s sometimes abrasive style unnecessarily hardened the opposition of moderates to important progressive issues.

“He made it harder to talk about affordable housing,” Kim said, noting that the city’s dearth of affordable housing should be an issue that’s important to middle class voters, noting that it includes housing for people who earn up to 120 percent of the median income for the region. But after Daly hammered on the issue, “It was like a bad word coming out, and people would turn off to the issue.”

But she thinks it’s a fixable problem if she and her allies do the hard work, an ability they demonstrated this year by defeating Walker, who had been running for the seat for years and lining up all the key endorsements. “Voters do respond to campaigns that work really hard, and that bodes well for progressives,” Kim said, noting that she intends to reach out to Walker’s supporters. “I don’t think I can be successful as a supervisor if I don’t work with all the camps in the progressive community.”

Class of 2010: Scott Wiener



Scott Wiener, who is 40, gay, soft-spoken, and remarkably tall, seems to have made an impression on voters with his successful campaign for District 8 (the Castro, Noe Valley) supervisor. On a recent Wednesday afternoon, several patrons of a Market Street café stopped to say hello and congratulate him. “I saw millions of signs about you!” one exclaimed.

A deputy city attorney, Wiener claimed one of the most decisive victories among contenders vying for seats on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He’s more fiscally conservative than Rafael Mandelman, who was his progressive opponent in the race, and is more in step politically with Mayor Gavin Newsom than San Francisco progressives. Yet Wiener stressed to the Guardian that he should ultimately be viewed as an independent thinker. “For me, it’s about having mutual respect for everyone,” he said. “Even if you disagree on some issues, and even if you disagree on a lot of issues, you can always find areas of agreement.”

Asked about his priorities in office, Wiener put public transit at the top of the list. Over the next few decades, the population of San Francisco and the Bay Area will dramatically increase, he said. “And at the same time, we’ve been underfunding public transportation, and particularly our roads. It could potentially be a catastrophe if we’re not able to not just keep the system as it is, but actually expand it. That is a really big priority.” To raise money for Muni, he doesn’t support extending parking meter hours, but does support a local vehicle license fee. There’s some question surrounding that prospect since California voters approved Proposition 26, which requires a two-thirds majority vote for fees. But Wiener said he wanted to be involved in efforts to implement a VLF in San Francisco.

Another priority is finding ways to stimulate job growth. He approves of the city’s move to use a tax credit for biotech industry businesses as a means of encouraging job creation, but said that mechanism should be used sparingly since it creates a revenue hole. Instead, Wiener said he was more in favor of looking at payroll-tax reform — but only if it doesn’t result in a tax increase.

Wiener also places importance on supporting the city’s Entertainment Commission and preserving San Francisco’s vibrant nightlife. “That’s an issue that I’ve always worked on and I’ll be speaking at [the California Music and Culture Association] next Friday, which I’m hoping will become a really effective voice for that community,” Wiener noted. “It needs a really unified and strong voice. and I want to make sure that we are really prioritizing having a vibrant nightlife and outdoor festival scene, and that we’re not blaming the entertainment community for societal ills like gun violence.” He also mentioned bolstering the Entertainment Commission’s budget.

But might that pro nightlife stance place him at odds with the San Francisco Police Department? “In some ways, I’m from a public-safety background,” he said in response. “I’ve been involved in a lot of safety issues on a neighborhood level. I’ve worked closely with SFPD and I am supportive of Chief [George] Gascon. In a way, I think that gives me some credibility.”

Speaking of working closely with people, whom does Wiener see himself forming alliances with on the new board? “I definitely have a great relationship with Sean Elsbernd and Carmen Chu, and I will be working closely with them. But I don’t agree with them on everything,” he said. Board President David Chiu and Sup. David Campos were both his classmates at Harvard, he noted, so he feels confident in his ability to work with them even if they don’t always see eye to eye. “One thing I see about this board that I’m optimistic about is that I think it’s going to be a more collegial board,” he added.

On the question on everyone’s mind — who will succeed Mayor Gavin Newsom to serve as the interim mayor? — Wiener said he thinks the best idea is to appoint a caretaker mayor. “Next year’s going to be really hard year,” he said and a caretaker mayor could “help make some really hard choices that need to be made. I may not like all of those choices, but they can do something that someone who’s a brand new mayor seeking reelection may be timid about doing.”

Who might he support if the new board selects the successor mayor? “There are some really solid names that have been bandied about, like [San Francisco Public Utilities Director] Ed Harrington or [Sherriff] Mike Hennessey,” he replied.

Wiener’s going to be mostly a fiscal conservative when it comes to the budget. Any new revenue, he said, “should be very policy-based,” for example transit-oriented instead of raising business taxes.

And he has plenty of cuts in mind, including “the way we contract for nonprofits,” looking at shared overhead, and consolidation. He also said that “we need to continue moving forward with pension and benefit reform [and] aggressively address overtime in all departments.” And what can voters expect from Sup. Scott Wiener that’s different from Sup. Bevan Dufty, a mayoral hopeful who currently represents D8? Wiener didn’t go too far out on a limb on that one. “There have been some tenant issues that Bevan voted against and I supported,” he said. “We’ve had times where he’s been to my left, or I’ve been to his left, but I can’t speculate as to the future. It’s going to be case by case.” *

Class of 2010: Malia Cohen



It took two weeks and 19 updates of San Francisco’s ranked-choice voting system before Malia Cohen, a former Mayor Gavin Newsom staffer and partner in a firm that helps businesses and nonprofits create public policy, was declared the winner of the hotly contested race to represent District 10, which includes Bayview, Hunters Point and Ingleside. The nail-biting time lag was a byproduct of complex calculations that involved 22 candidates, no clear front-runners, and a slew of absentee and provisional ballots.

But when the RCV dust settled, the results proved that the D10 vote continues to break down along class, race, and gender lines. These RCV patterns personally benefited Cohen’s success in picking up second- and third-place votes.

But they also helped D10’s African American community, now smaller than its growing Asian community but still larger that the black community in any other distinct in the city, send an African American supervisor back to City Hall. And it avoided a run-off between Lynette Sweet and Tony Kelly, who won most first-place votes.

Some chalk up Cohen’s victory to her polished appearance, the middle-of-the road positions she took on the campaign trail, and an impressive list of endorsements that include the San Francisco Democratic Party, the Labor Council, the Building and Construction Trades Council, state Sen. Leland Yee (D-SF), Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Fiona Ma (D-SF), Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, SF Democratic Party Chair Aaron Peskin, and BART Board President James Fang.

But Cohen told us she thinks coalition building was the key. “Endorsements only account for a quarter of the reasons why you win,” she said. “It’s all about building an organization, a net that goes deep and wide.”

Some progressives were alarmed by a Dec. 1 fundraiser to help settle Cohen’s campaign debt whose guest list included Newsom, former Mayor Willie Brown, Sup. Sean Elsbernd, Ma, Building Owners and Managers Association director Ken Cleaveland, Kevin Westlye of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, and Janan New of San Francisco Apartment Association.

Cohen dismissed concerns over this conservative showing of après-campaign support. “Fear not,” she said. “It is a fundraiser event. And now that I’m a newly elected supervisor, I look forward to meeting everyone. And I will do a great job representing everyone.

So what should we expect from Cohen, who ran as a fourth-generation “daughter of the district from a labor family” on a platform of health, safety, and employment — and will soon represent the diverse southeast sector, which has the highest unemployment, crime, recidivism, foreclosure and African American out-migration rates citywide and is ground zero for Lennar Corp.’s plan to build thousands of condos at Candlestick and the shipyard?

“I’m a bridge-builder,” said Cohen, who attributes her surprisingly tough but open-minded edge to being the oldest of five sisters.

So far, she’s not going out on a progressive limb. She told us she favors a caretaker mayor: “I’d like someone to maintain the business of the city, someone who has zero political ambition,” she said. “That way it creates an even playing field for the mayoral race.”

Cohen says she is determined to address quality of life concerns, including filling potholes, re-striping crosswalks and introducing traffic calming measures, and taking on critical criminal justice issues, including City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s gang injunction in the Sunnydale public housing project in Visitacion Valley. She opposes Herrera’s strategy but notes: “If not gang injunctions, then what? I can’t dispute that they get short-term results, but what about the long-term impacts? We need long-term solutions.”

Cohen supports Sup. John Avalos’ efforts to pass mandatory local hire legislation but is open to “creative solutions” to help get it over the finishing line. “People who live here should be working here,” Cohen said. “But is 50 percent the magic mandatory hire number? I don’t know.”

Cohen, who just survived a foreclosure attempt, has promised to be a “fierce advocate” for constituents facing similar challenges, including those who met predatory loan brokers at church.

But asked how she would cut spending or raise revenue to address the city’s massive budget deficit, she had no specific answer.

Yet Cohen disagrees with detractors who say she lacks experience. “I may look cute, but don’t be misled. I have a public policy background and fire in my belly. I’m a union candidate, I’m smart, I’m talented, and above all, I love the people in D10 and the rest of San Francisco. I want everyone to prosper and receive benefits. So give me a shot.”

Class of 2010: Mark Farrell



Mark Farrell is a 36-year-old venture capitalist and political newcomer who will represent the wealthy neighborhoods of District 2 (Pacific Heights, Sea Cliff, and the Marina) after narrowly beating Janet Reilly, whose extensive political endorsements ranged from the Guardian and local Democratic Party Chair Aaron Peskin to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinsein and Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Challenging the city’s political power structure is why Farrell said he ran for office, playing up his outsider status and investment banking experience. He told visitors to his campaign website, “I am running for the Board of Supervisors to bring common sense back to City Hall” and railed against “career politicians who run for office again and again.”

In an interview with the Guardian, Farrell said he was motivated to make his first foray into politics by the dysfunction he has heard about at City Hall. “I’ve been frustrated with City Hall over the last few years, from the personal antics to the policies that have come out,” Farrell told us. “I humbly believe I have something different to bring to the table.”

Farrell calls himself a fiscal conservative who believes “our city government has gotten too large and we need to look at that,” a task he thinks he’s well-suited for given his background in finance. Yet when asked what government functions he would eliminate or cut deeply to help close a projected $700 million budget deficit over the next two years, Farrell said he can’t offer any specifics yet, saying only, “We need to make tough decisions.”

Would Farrell be open to new taxes or other revenue-side budget solutions? He told us that he won’t completely reject the idea of new taxes, but that he generally opposes them. “I don’t believe in raising taxes. We can’t raise enough revenue to get out of this problem,” Farrell said. “We need to learn to live within our means.”

Although he opposed Prop. B in this election, Farrell said public employee pension reform needs to be a part of the city’s budget solution, as well as scaling back how much the city gives to nonprofit groups, which provide many of the social services the city supports.

Farrell was born and raised in San Francisco — except for his college years, he’s spent his whole life in D2, where his parents still live — and has been friends with Sup. Sean Elsbernd since high school. Politically, Farrell also identifies with Elsbernd and fellow fiscally conservative Sups. Carmen Chu and Michela Alioto-Pier (who endorsed Farrell to replace her in D2), but he says that he doesn’t want to be politically pigeon-holed.

“I’m very much my own person and I look forward to working with everyone,” Farrell said. Indeed, part of Farrell’s frustration with City Hall politics has been the divisive relationship between the progressives and moderates, which he sees as a hindrance to finding “common sense solutions.”

“The progressive and moderate labels have been relatively destructive to San Francisco,” Farrell said. “We need to get beyond that to focus on issues.”

Yet people’s political values and worldview determine what issues they care about and the solutions they favor. For example, progressives decry the dearth of affordable being built for San Franciscans and cite city studies showing that deficit will get worse as developers build ever-more market rate housing (see “Dollars or sense?” Sept. 28), particularly in a city that is two-thirds renters.

Farrell said he supports rent control (saying he was unfairly attacked during the campaign as anti renter) and sees the dwindling rental stock and lack of new affordable units being constructed as problems, but he doesn’t have a solution to those problems. In fact, Farrell supports allowing more condo conversions, which would make the problem worse, telling us, “I believe home ownership is something we should promote.”

He was also vague about how he will approach land use issues and how tough he’ll be with developers in having them meet city design guidelines and provide affordable housing and other community benefits, saying only, “We need to have sustainable development in the city.”

Yet the issues that do animate Farrell are those typically focused on by conservative D2 voters. Farrell lists his top priorities as seeing to his district’s needs, promoting private sector job creation (“I think a lot of lip service has been paid to it, but not a lot of action by City Hall,” he said), public safety, and quality-of-life issues (he supported Prop. L, the sit-lie ordinance, calling it “very reasonable”). Generally Farrell sees San Francisco as a city in he midst of a serious fiscal crisis, “and I want to create a San Francisco that is secure for the future over the long haul.”

America’s next top band



MUSIC Gary Gregerson of Puce Moment has made an important discovery about bears of the human variety — many of them used to be new romantics. “Back in the day, they were wearing broaches, long shirts, and stirrup pants,” he says, discussing friends’ teenage photos in the kitchen of bandmate Jon Rueter.

The season finale of America’s Next Top Model is about to begin, but for now, it’s interview time, and there’s no better moment than the present to discuss the origins of Puce Moment. “I wanted to do an Altered Images-type band, and I told Jon, because he knows how to synth it up,” Gregerson explains, when asked about the group’s beginnings. “I said, ‘I want to be Claire Grogan!’ Then we decided we’d be more like Belinda [Carlisle] and Jane [Wiedlin].”

“Right, you said, ‘As long as I get to be Belinda,'” Rueter concurs.

The referential and the reverent (and irreverent) commingle in the world of Puce Moment. It couldn’t be any other way, considering Gregerson’s and Rueter’s intense and specific appreciations of pop music and culture. (When it comes to vintage TV, Rueter is a Knot’s Landing and Family guy, while Gregerson favors Police Woman.) Their band — with bassist Suresh Chacko and drummer Tom Marzella — takes its name from a 1949 fabric-fetish film by Kenneth Anger. It’s a brash gesture, considering Anger’s hostility toward those influenced by him. “Someone was like, ‘You don’t want to be cursed by Kenneth Anger!’,” Gregerson admits.

Puce Moment’s name is emblazoned on not one, not two, but three new four-song cassettes: Ready for a Date, Essence of Mann and Avoiding Certain Topics. Recorded at Wally Sound in Oakland, the collections showcase a sound that Gregerson labels “neo-psychedelic” and Rueter calls “swingin’ and groovy.” Ironically attuned to what one song title calls “Changing Formats,” as well as the current tape revival, the releases also suit Puce Moment’s affinity for C86-era Creation label bands such as Revolving Paint Dream. Rueter’s numbers use striking everyday images to tell stories of wavering friendship and love. Gregerson directs his attention to specific memorable characters: an activist named Maryanne; a prissy and meddlesome downstairs neighbor; and the artist Christo, who his lyric deems an “active Greek” just for the fun of it, since Christo is actually Bulgarian.

Puce Moment’s two songwriters trade off lead vocals in a manner similar to the early days of Orange Juice, when comical Edwyn Collins (that would be Gregerson) and effete James Kirk (that would be Rueter) took turns at the mic. The pair’s very first songwriting effort became Ready for a Date‘s opening track, “The Citrus Smelling Man with a Tight Wristwatch.” Its lengthy title is inspired by a real-life person. “Jon figured out [the background of] that song when we recording it,” says Gregerson. “It’s about having sex with a married man who wanted me to drive him and his wife and kids to the mall when I had a van.”

Both Rueter and Gregerson have performance punk backgrounds, Gregerson in Sta-Prest and Rueter with way-ahead-of-their-time new wave revivalists the Primadonnas, the best band from “Sussex, U.K.” ever to be based in Austin, Texas. Rueter’s moniker in the Primadonnas was Nikki Holiday, but he insists that when he was singing with crushed-velvet Martin Gore softness about being “stoned like a white balloon,” he was serious. “It’s harder for me to depersonalize lyrics, though our song ‘Girl’ is actually about a boy — a gay friend.”

“Even in the Primadonnas, my lyrics were sincere,” Rueter continues. “There was this contrast of my bandmate Otto being an asshole, a total jerk, and I was his foil. I still feel like I’m doing that, a little bit.”

“Um, I’m the hyper asshole?” Gregerson asks.

“No, but I’m the straight man, for sure.”

Lyrically, some subject matter is off-limits for Gregerson. “I really try not to write about love, and definitely not about wieners,” he says. “That’s why I like it that Puce Moment is starting to get into ’60s baroque pop, because it’s all about the path of humankind.”

True, but the time has come for Puce Moment and me to turn our attention to the path of model-kind. As Andre Leon Talley makes his guest judge outfit more and more voluminous, what Rueter labels the “high fashion cycle” of America’s Next Top Model grinds toward an inevitable a conclusion. During one commercial break, Rueter talks about Tyra’s performance as a Barbie-come-to-life in the 2000 Lindsay Lohan vehicle Life-Size. During the next, Gregerson says my imitation of Ke$ha’s rapping sounds like Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies.

So, who won ANTM? High fashion Ann, of course. Still, Tyra and company’s antics pale in comparison to the final star of our evening’s viewing: YouTube guru Katherine Chloé Cahoon, author of The Single Girl’s Guide to Dating European Men. Want to date a Bulgarian man like Christo? Cahoon will explain how — with an accent that’s pure East Coast private school lockjaw.


Thurs/16, 9 p.m.; $5

with Bronze, Sam Flax Keener and the Higher Color, and Lairs

The Eagle

398 12th St., SF


Sound and silence



MUSIC/FILM In the latest chapter of the San Francisco Film Society’s ongoing efforts to present silent-era films with live musical accompaniment, John Darnielle — head honcho of the Mountain Goats — will be scoring the 1919 Mauritz Stiller film, Sir Arne’s Treasure. The beauty of this particular series, which has yielded original scores from Yo La Tengo (Science is Fiction: The Films of Jean Painleve), Stephin Merritt (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), and Superchunk (A Page of Madness) among others, lies not only in the conceptual simplicity of marrying music and film, but in the freedom of approach given to each film’s handpicked composer. In Darnielle’s case, scoring a film meant digging up some relics of his own past.

“I don’t generally revisit stuff of mine that’s old,” he says. “But then I realized, soundtracking a silent movie is revisiting stuff that’s old.”

Digging through old notebooks full of unused songs and lyrics, Darnielle stumbled on the blueprints for an unfinished and unreleased collection of songs he’d written in the mid-1990s. The songs were originally to be used as a sequel of sorts to the Mountain Goats’ 1995 album, Sweden. But after rediscovering them, Darnielle realized that the songs’ moods and lyrics meshed well with the themes of the film.

Set in the 16th century, Sir Arne’s Treasure‘s story begins with the murder of a clergyman at the hands of three escaped mercenaries who are after his treasure. Eventually finding themselves trapped in the town — and among its vengeful inhabitants — one of the men becomes drawn to a survivor of their own killing spree, and the lines between justice and love blur.

After a few minor adjustments to his newly unearthed songs, Darnielle knew he’d found the material that would make up the bulk of his film score.

“It’s pretty exciting to dig up these old notebooks, very much like watching an old movie and seeing people dressing and doing things in a different manner,” he says. “Digging through those things for me at this point is like combing through public records or something. I tweaked them a little because I’m a better writer now than I was then. But yeah, I’m expanding this whole album I’d made about loss and catastrophe and incorporating it into the movie which is about loss and catastrophe [laughs].”

Darnielle will be pulling some other songs from the Mountain Goats catalog to use during the film, but he hopes his fans will understand that his approach to this project is different.

“I hope people don’t come expecting a sort of huge, surging Mountain Goats show type thing,” he says. “That’s my biggest fear, because it’s much more contemplative and patient in the presentation. I’ll be singing, but I won’t be stomping around or talking between songs.”

Darnielle’s got a couple tricks up his sleeve as well, only one of which he would reveal during our conversation. He’ll start the score solo on piano, but around the halfway mark he’ll switch to guitar as John Vanderslice joins him onstage for the remainder of the film. The two have worked together in the past, and Darnielle hopes Vanderslice and the two musicians he’s bringing along with him will help amp up the intensity in the latter stages of the film and bring it all to a nice “crescendo.”

His biggest challenge has been in finding that perfect balance between when a score should directly and forcefully impact the film, and when it should take more of a quieter backseat.

“Hopefully there will be sound almost the entire time, just because it’s hard for me to imagine dropping in and out of a silent movie completely,” he says. “When a soundtrack drops out of a current film, it’s fine because there’s dialogue. If the sound drops out of a silent movie, there’s dead silence.”

Whatever the result, Darnielle says this is a one-and-done type deal and has no plans to do anything with the score after this one live performance.

“I like things that exist and then stop,” he says. “So yeah, this will be it.”


Tues/14, 8 p.m.; $17–$22.50

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

(415) 561-5000


Get her if you can



MUSIC “Where’s the costumes, bitch?”

The voice behind the inimitable Carletta Sue Kay, Randy Walker, has joined me at Deco Lounge in the Tenderloin for costume karaoke. The atmosphere is conjuring memories. “I worked at a self-storage place two blocks from here called Fort Knox,” Walker says. “I worked with every fucking junkie in San Francisco — recovering, mind you.

“This lady, let’s call her Christine, was 59, with long gray lion’s-mane hair. She was very sweet. She’d come in popping Xanax like candy. One day, right before I got fired, Gonzalo who I worked with came up to me and said, ‘Lady upstairs, sleeping — money.’ We jumped on the private elevator and there was Christine, laid out in the middle of her unit, covered in $100 bills. I asked her about it the next day and she said, ‘I had a date!’.”

Though Carletta Sue Kay is familiar with the most delicate strains of Parisian heartbreak, a real-life character such as Christine would not be out of place in a Carletta song. If Antony Hegarty occupies darker rooms, and Baby Dee finds secret places of unsettling whimsy, Carletta more than matches the best of both in a very San Franciscan way, combining a formidable voice with a restless and freely honest — as rock ‘n’ roll as it is chamber-bound — approach to being a singer. One listen to “Sleeping with the TV On” is all it’ll take for her to convince you.

Tonight I’m getting convinced in-person. “Pardon my obligato,” Walker says on his way to the Deco Lounge’s stage, where he’s soon comfortably issuing commands for more reverb to KJ Paul De Jong, who it turns out has booked lucrative hooker-hotel music gigs for Carletta in Port Costa. “It’s not standup,” a boozy wise-ass yells, and then Walker proceeds to sing the hell out of the Patsy Cline classic “Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray,” expertly using silence to magnify the sound of sorrow. Afterward, the wise-ass walks over to our table to praise him.

Thanks to Walker, Carletta Sue Kay is the kind of dame who knows Nashville as well as she knows Paris. “My favorite drag queen in the world is in Nashville,” Walker says, when I ask about one of country music’s homes. “Remember the figure skater Oksana Baiul? This queen’s name was Oxona Barstool. She wore this big green M&M outfit and she sounded like Tom Waits.”

Walker has also sung in Memphis’ Sun Studios: “I asked where Roy Orbison stood, and they said, ‘Honey, Roy was all over the place.'” Still, the next Carletta Sue Kay recordings are a homespun Bay Area affair, painstakingly produced by band member Doug Hilsinger. “We’re doing two collections,” Walker explains. “One is an album of ballads titled Incongruent. There’s an also an EP called Incongruous, and all of the songs on it will be up tempo. ” The wordplay in those titles comes naturally to Walker, who shares his boyfriend Lee Reymore’s deep love of literature — particularly Southern Gothic fiction — and lucrative love of book collecting.

At Reymore’s urging, Walker uses the moments before his next turn at the mic to tell the story of his encounter with the late Michael Jackson. “You know [the 1988 movie] Moonwalker? I was in that,” he says. “I come from a theater background and grew up 50 miles outside of L.A. in Fontana, hometown of Sammy Hagar.”

How was Michael? “He was a sweetheart. One day Bubbles got loose on the stage, and another day Yoko was there. I made $18,000 for a 12-day shoot, and I was only an extra.”

Carletta and the man behind her have a lot of stories to tell, whether they’re shared over a cocktail or through the stereo on songs such as the glam-anthemic “Joy Division.” Carletta can knowingly name check Beethoven, Crass, and Echo and the Bunnymen while reminiscing about a doom-laden boy with an Ian Curtis fixation. Walker has no hesitation about visiting the treasure troves of soul.

“My fangs are dripping looking at these costumes,” Walker jokes, after likening Deco’s wardrobe rack to the bars maneuvered by gymnasts. Finally, after someone sings “Killing Me Softly” and someone else sings “A Whole New World,” it’s time for his final costume-karaoke number. The song is “Get Here,” and though it was made famous by Oleta Adams, he makes a point of explaining on stage that it was written by Brenda Russell. This is in keeping with his musical , which is rooted in an appreciation of ’70s singer-songwriters like Tim Hardin, Townes Van Zandt, and Karen Dalton, as well as contemporaries like Kath Bloom.

Important names, one and all — but what did Walker’s real-life cousin Carletta Sue Kay think of her musical namesake? “She didn’t know anything about it until two years into it,” Walker says. “She found out about it through the Carletta Sue Kay MySpace, and wrote verbatim, ‘What the fuck is this!'”

What the fuck is this? Something well worth a listen, bitch.


With M. Lamar

Sun/19, 8 p.m.; $10–$15

Community Music Center

Capp Street Concert Hall

544 Capp, SF

(415) 647-6015


Where everybody knows your name



HAIRY EYEBALL It can be easy to get cynical about the business side of art, so it’s always refreshing when a local labor of love such as Romer Young — the small Dogpatch gallery formerly known as Ping Pong — demonstrates that growth doesn’t necessarily entail compromising one’s vision.

That vision has always been driven by husband and wife team Vanessa Blaikie and Joey Piziali’s commitment to work that is consistently smart, challenging and often surprisingly personal: from recent Goldie winner Amanda Curreri’s conceptual prompts at forging new social connections, to, most recently, James Sterling Pitt’s table-full of sculpted art-related books and ephemera, an affectionate take on how material possessions can shape creative practice.

“We’ve had very special relationships with our artists because this has always been about putting their work first,” explains Blaikie, when I meet with her and Piziali in the gallery’s cozy back room, which adjoins Piazali’s studio. Inspired by the work of many of their classmates in San Francisco Art Institute’s MFA program, but dismayed by the lack of spaces willing to take a chance on art that was more conceptual or performance-based, Blaikie and Piziali took matters into their own hands and started putting together exhibits.

The gallery’s unusual former name came from the quarterly, ping-pong happy hours Blaikie and Piziali held, a nod to 1970s Bay Area conceptual artist Tom Marioni’s famous statement, “Drinking beer with friends is the highest form of art.”

“We were really trying to activate the space as social sculpture through a non-art event,” Piziali recalls, “but we also had our share of calls asking about equipment rentals.”

Five years later, as the partnerships Blaikie and Piziali formed early on have led to a roster of repeat-showers and a more prominent profile, they decided it was time to change names and reassess how best to shift their operation. “Once you’re not an exhibition space, you start looking at the model of ‘gallery’ and see what that means, “explains Piziali. “But you don’t start a space like this with blood, sweat, and tears only to ask every time, ‘Did we make the bottom line?'”

Though the paddles have been hung up in favor of the, let’s face it, more professional-sounding Romer Young — a combination of Blaikie and Piziali’s mothers’ maiden names — Blaikie’s and Piziali’s core commitment hasn’t changed. Fittingly, they have decided to inaugurate the newly christened space with a solo exhibit by the now New York City-based conceptual artist Chad Stayrook, who contributed one of Ping Pong’s earliest shows.

“It felt only right to honor the growth we’ve undergone,” reflects Blaikie. “When we started, we were doing it because we loved it, and now we’re doing it because we love it and we want it to make sure it can keep growing.”



Upon entering “Disponible — a kind of Mexican show” at SFAI’s Walter and McBean Galleries, you hear Manuel Rocha Iturbide’s sound installation I play the drum with frequency before you see it — what you see is Hector Zamora’s massive arrangement of hanging metal drying racks. Suspended with fishing line in tiered formations, the drying racks play off of the Brutalist, concrete interior of the Walter gallery while imbuing the space with an ethereal density. The ricocheting clinks, low-end buzzes, and sonorous clangs emitted by Iturbide’s piece — installed in a lofted area above the main gallery — bring Zamora’s installation to life as a fog bank-turned-carousel organ.

Both pieces are less impressive, however, when you attempt to view them individually. Without the extra visual accompaniment, Iturbide’s deconstructed drum kit — played via algorithmically-controlled speaker cones whose vibrations sound the cymbals and drum heads they’re attached to — loses its initial impact. Likewise, separated from Iturbide’s soundtrack, Zamora’s piece resembles the forgotten remains of a half-finished install job.

This creeping feeling of “is that all there is?” that both Zamora’s and Iturbide’s pieces evokes seems, at least partially, by design. The exhibit takes its name from the text on empty advertising billboards throughout Mexico, in which disponible is followed by a phone number. Playing off the double meaning of disponible as “available” and also “potentially changeable” or “disposable,” the curatorial team of Hou Hanru, SFAI’s director of exhibitions and public programs, and Guillermo Santamarina, an independent curator based in Mexico City, aren’t so much devaluing the pieces they’ve selected as they are loosening the conceptual strictures implicit in putting on a show of contemporary Mexican art. I can’t wait to see what Hanru and Santamarina have in store for phase two of the exhibit, which opens in February.


Fri/10 through Jan. 15, 2011

Romer Young Gallery

1240 22nd St., SF

(415) 550-7483



Through Jan. 22

Walter and McBean Galleries, San Francisco Art Institute

800 Chestnut, SF

(415) 749-4563


Hollywood ho-hum


FILM Some mainstream filmmakers grow so encumbered by the industry-within an-industry they’ve become that they profess yearning for those “small, personal” projects they started out with — often vowing they’ll get right back there just as soon as they’ve finished the obligatory Behemoth IV: The Next Generation in 3-D. (Coppola actually did it; Lucas needs to stop saying he will until he actually quits finding new ways to commercially reanimate the charred remains of Star Wars. Meaning never.)

It is exceedingly rare to find a director who over the long haul has managed to make nothing but small, personal projects, particularly if they’re American and within orbit of Hollywood influence. How could you resist admiring such a person’s determination and purity of intent?

Well, there may be exceptions. For nearly four decades, Henry Jaglom has been creating “personal” movies like other people make home movies — privately, prolifically, perhaps indiscriminately. He uses the same stable of cronies, some short-termers and some long, as well as their homes (or his own) as settings. His method (or Method — he did train under Lee Strasberg) echoes the semi-improv, amorphous ensemble feel of Robert Altman movies like Nashville (1975), albeit in a manner that seldom transcends the bubble of participants’ very Hollywood-centric perceptions of reality.

These features no doubt delight those actively involved — their self-satisfaction is tumescent — but can become an exasperating bore for anyone else forced to watch. The last good movie Jaglom made was the uncommonly disciplined Last Summer in the Hamptons 15 years ago. His new Queen of the Lot doesn’t change its status.

After her second DUI, improbable action-flick star Maggie Chase (Tanna Frederick) is placed under ankle-bracelet house arrest. She chooses to spend it at the impressive hilltop manse of her manager, along with a vain married actor boyfriend (Christopher Rydell) and a posse of personal assistants. Then she moves to the equally expansive digs of said BF’s historied showbiz family, all either industry players or dedicated wannabes. There, Maggie finds herself attracted to her ne’er-do-well mate’s supposedly worse brother (Noah Wyle, so thoughtfully restrained you wonder how he strayed into such company).

This shrill, shapeless enterprise lurches from feeble satire to clumsy melodrama, never seeming more credible or necessary than another excuse for Jaglom’s pals to indulge themselves in public. The cast includes faces from the past (like Dennis Christopher from 1979’s Breaking Away), Jaglom perennials, several children of stars, and miscellaneous industry insiders. When exactly was it that Jaglom decided anyone on his dinner party list was automatically fascinating enough to play a “character” onscreen? His first four features, all flawed but interesting, at least tried to be about other people. Since 1984, with a couple exceptions, they’ve become like the windbag who clears rooms upon arrival, because no matter whom he talks to or about, the overweening subject will be the World of Me and Mine.

Playing a famous director here is famous director Peter Bogdanovich, who once was criticized for making indulgent movies that foisted then-girlfriend Cybill Shepherd on the public in unsuitable roles. Yet he never made films as insular and irrelevant as most of Jaglom’s. Nor did he ever showcase a talent as effortful, unappealing, and limited as Frederick, “discovered” when she wrote Jaglom a fan letter some years ago — having heard that anyone who flattered his movies might get cast in one. (She pretended to worship the unerringly titled 1997 Déjà vu, which she hadn’t even seen.) Is that a cute story — both director and actor never tire of telling it — or the symptom of an atrophied imagination?

Queen of the Lot is a sequel to 2006’s Hollywood Dreams, in which Frederick’s hysterical eagerness to please was somewhat apt for the role of a delusionally ambitious, alarmingly pushy Hollywood newbie. Now we’re supposed to believe that toxic figure has “made it.” This is the actress’ third starring vehicle for Jaglom; a fourth is imminent. This creative partnership demonstrates a judgment-impaired loyalty that is perhaps one part chivalry to nine parts WTF.

QUEEN OF THE LOT opens Fri/10 in Bay Area theaters.




FILM It has been such a feeble year for movies overall that it’s easy to understand why The King’s Speech would incite near-rapture on the festival and Oscar-countdown beats. Films like The King’s Speech have filled a certain notion of “prestige” cinema since the 1910s: historical themes, fully-clothed romance, high dramatics, star turns, a little political intrigue, sumptuous dress, and a vicarious taste of how the fabulously rich, famous, and powerful once lived. Whether derived from literary classics or the historical record, they usually involve aristocracy and British accents, reflecting our perennial escapist jones for Old World gentility.

At its best, this so-called Masterpiece Theatre moviemaking can transcend formula — it would be stupid to lowball the merits of Merchant-Ivory’s Howards End (1992), Terence Davies’ House of Mirth (2000), or Stephen Frears’ The Queen (2006) simply because they’re exquisitely appointed, polite entertainments. At their less-than-best, however, these movies sell complacency, in both style and content.

The King’s Speech purveys a particular fantasy not unlike Cinderella‘s (or Twilight‘s): that of the unappreciated “commoner” whose very special qualities prove exactly what is needed by the remote, glamorous, extraordinary — but lonely and misunderstood! — prince or vampire or whatnot who plucks them from the madding crowd. Here, Colin Firth plays King George VI, forced onto the throne his favored older brother Edward abandoned. This was especially traumatic because George’s severe stammer made public address tortuous.

The special friend he acquires is matey Australian émigré Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush, mercifully controlled), a speech therapist whose unconventional methods include insisting his royal client treat him as an equal. This ultimately frees not only the king’s tongue, but his heart — you see, he’s never had anyone before to confide in that daddy (Michael Gambon as George V) didn’t love him enough. Aww.

David Seidler’s conventionally inspirational script and BBC miniseries veteran Tom Hooper’s direction deliver the expected goods — dignity on wry, wee orgasms of aesthetic tastefulness, much stiff-upper-lippage — at a stately promenade pace. Firth, so good in the uneven A Single Man last year, is perfect in this rock-steadier vehicle. Yet he never surprises us; role, actor, and movie are on a leash tight enough to limit airflow.

The stuffiness lifts when George, exasperated and egged on, lets loose a string of childish profanity, his priggish reserve dissolving at last. Absurdly, this sole moment of naughty-boy silliness earned The King’s Speech — a PG prestige picture if ever there was one — its R rating from our wise protector, the MPAA.

THE KING’S SPEECH opens Fri/10 in San Francisco.

Editor’s Notes



In the grand scheme of things — the $400 million budget deficit, the pending selection of a new mayor, that sort of thing — the eviction of the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council Recycling Center doesn’t sound like an earthshaking issue. The San Francisco Chronicle’s C.W. Nevius (who is pretty much on the wrong side of everything these days) proclaimed last week that it was just a little neighborhood tiff, nothing to do with the soul of the city.

But it annoys me as much as anything that’s happened this fall — and it says a lot about the way Gavin Newsom governs San Francisco and explains why so many of us will be so happy when he leaves town.

Let me come right out and say it: the HANC eviction is class warfare. It’s not about the appropriate use of park land or the need for a community garden. It’s about the fact that the mayor doesn’t like poor people trundling through an upscale part of town with shopping carts full of recycling.

Let me quote what Rebecca Bowe wrote in a blog post at sfbg.com:

“In its current function, the HANC Recycling Center is empowering to many different kinds of people. Most aren’t homeless. Tough-as-nails Asian grandmas show up with bags full of cans that they can exchange for some extra spending money. Urban gardeners purchase native plants in hopes of pleasing native insects and birds. People on fixed incomes get a small financial boost by turning in recyclables.

“A small number of HANC Recycling Center patrons do sleep outside. In order to earn small amounts of cash for things like food, many of them have to go digging around in garbage cans, which is gross and humiliating. Why would someone paw through the garbage for hours, battling bees and germs, and then haul smelly bottles uphill in a shopping cart just to make a few bucks? My guess is that it’s to ward off desperation. They make their own work and they get to eat.”

Let me focus on that last sentence for a second. As my friend Tiny at Poor Magazine likes to point out, being poor or homeless is a lot of work. Collecting cans, cashing them in, finding a way to survive on that minuscule income … it’s not easy. It takes as much effort and as many hours as most traditional full-time occupations.

But Newsom doesn’t want poor people in his city. He doesn’t want anyone bothering the wealthy. And he doesn’t care about facts or the public sentiment.

City residents — those folks Nevius and Newsom love to celebrate — showed up in large numbers at the Recreation and Park Commission to oppose the closure. There’s no logic to it at all; the center pays rent and creates jobs. The community gardens will cost money — and in the shade (where the center is located), it will be hard to grow much produce.

But never mind: Newsom got what he wanted. A city that will spend millions in public money on yacht races while making life on the streets that much meaner. Good riddance, Gav.

Miss SaiGon



DINE There really is a Miss Saigon inside of Miss SaiGon, but she seems to be made of plastic, if — to quote Groucho Marx — I’m any judge of horseflesh. With her motionless good cheer, the big doll looks like salvage from some airline’s marketing campaign, circa 1968. Next to her stands a kind of aqueous sculpture, with sheets of water rippling down a long glass panel.

Such kitschy drama, and we’re barely inside this Vietnamese restaurant (not to be confused with the musical of the same name). The semi-cavernous dining room — weirdly reminiscent of a dance floor in some mid-list gay bar — is screened from the street by a barricade of translucent draperies that hang from floor to ceiling with lacey, lingerie-like suggestiveness. It feels like an after-hours, members-only sale at a Victoria’s Secret warehouse.

Yet behind the bar, the wall is painted a nervy lime green — a hue that will be powerfully reminiscent (to the restaurant-minded) of Mangosteen. Mangosteen is part of the new wave of Vietnamese and Southeast Asian restaurants that have opened along Larkin Street, on the north side of Market, in recent years, while Miss SaiGon stands just steps away from old-guarder Tu Lan, which Julia Child is said to have admired. One evening, on my way to Miss Saigon, I peeked inside Tu Lan and wondered how Child even fit inside, let alone enjoyed herself, and whether the oft-told tale of her admiration might be apocryphal.

Miss SaiGon, slightly more two years old, belongs to the post-Child era, but I would guess the old doyenne would find the newer place eminently acceptable. The interior is attractive without being overbearing, the social tone is comfortable, with lots of younger people among the clientele (laptops glowing on tabletops in front of them — but aren’t laptops quaint now?), and the extensive menu is mostly excellent.

If brevity is the soul of wit as well as menu-writing, then a vast menu like Miss SaiGon’s, with so many items that they have to be numbered (including No. 4, kimchee, a ringer from Korea), is generally best approached with caution. The more dishes a kitchen has to master, the more likely it is the chefs’ attention will be diluted or that ingredients for the less-loved dishes will sit around too long — that something will go awry, in other words.

But the execution at Miss SaiGon is sharp and assured, the flavors properly balanced and amplified, like rich sound. The only exception, to my mind, was an unlikely one: slices of pork stir-fried with lemon sauce and vegetables ($9.50). The vegetables were ordinary — celery and carrots, mainly — and the lemon sauce was MIA. Instead, the dish was dominated by an unannounced walk-on: pineapple, in chunks. Pineapple is fine in piña coladas and as a supplement to lubricious activity, but as an accompaniment to pork here it was too sweet, too overwhelming, and too obvious.

Neither too sweet nor too obvious was the papaya salad ($6.50), which resembled a nest of glass shards and was fortified with shrimp and ground pork. Ground peanuts added texture, leaves of fresh mint brought their bewitching breath, and — best of all — the salad was dressed with some version of nuoc mam, the salty-tangy-sweet blend of fish sauce and vinegar that is one of Vietnamese cuisine’s signature condiments.

The prospect of cold noodles — sesame ($3.95) — on a cold night caused some consternation around the table, but there turned out to be something sufficiently warming, or at least sustaining, in the fatness of the noodles to muffle the disquiet. Sesame can have a sharpness that verges on the unpleasant, but the potentially harsh edge was blunted by the plush saltiness of fish sauce.

Even better were garlic noodles ($8.95), stir-fried with bits of boneless chicken, basil, and lemongrass — a lovely little symphony of melody and harmony, and hot to boot. Bun cha gio ($7.50) — a huge bowl filled with vermicelli noodles, egg rolls, and lettuce, with a side of nuoc mam sauce laced with carrot threads and crushed peanut — was a duet of hot (the egg rolls) and cold (everything else). And that was just fine. When it’s chilly out, you don’t quibble about whatever form warmth chooses to take, even if it’s the eternal smile on the face of a life-sized plastic doll, waving hello and goodbye to all and sundry.


Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m.

100 Sixth St., SF

(415) 522-0332


Beer and wine


Somewhat noisy

Wheelchair accessible


Is your food fair?



FAIR FOOD We’ve all worked in a restaurant, haven’t we? I know I have — many — and gosh if they aren’t tricky little employment situations. Overtime, what? Breaks, really? And health care — well who the hell gets health care at a restaurant?

But this being San Francisco, restaurant workers are entitled to all these things courtesy of our hard-won labor laws. Which of course doesn’t mean that workers get them all the time, but that they should. And the bars and eateries that provide these benies — along with job safety, respect, and other luxuries — should be the ones that get the business of the conscientious diner.

Until recently the identity of these decent restaurants was only obtainable by sneaking back into the kitchen to chat. But the advocacy group Young Workers United (www.youngworkersunited.org) is changing that. Its guide to SF restaurants, Dining With Justice, is now in its second year of publication, teaching those who want to know where they can get a nice meal served by someone who is happy and secure in their job.

“It’s kind of a counter to Zagat and Yelp,” YWU organizer Edwin Escobar tells me. Escobar just got done talking about his group’s campaign to a room full of City College of San Francisco students at the school’s “Turn the Tables” teach-in last week. The event was sponsored by CCSF’s labor and community studies program and featured presentations from community groups and SF’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement.

To research the guide, YWU members interviewed 250 employees at 32 restaurants. The 58-question survey ranked businesses in five fields: compliance with wage and working hours laws, job mobility, job satisfaction, health and safety, and job security. Only nine businesses received stars in three or more the categories; none received five out of five.

“People think, oh, it’s San Francisco, all the workers get treated well. But that’s not the case. Restaurants and retail businesses get away with murder,” Escobar says. His organization provides labor law education and advocacy for low-wage workers around the city in an attempt to stem workplace violations.

Recently, YWU shed some light on some of the troubles faced by workers in a struggle with one of the city’s most beloved type of snack stop: the taqueria. The group helped the Latino staff of the Taqueria Azteca chain (which has locations in the Castro and Noe Valley) recoup more than $2 million in back pay from owners who had cheated them of overtime compensation and even minimal control over their schedules. Escobar says one mother involved in the legal proceedings had been given a choice by management: return to work one week after giving birth or lose her job.

“The workers who get cheated the most in San Francisco are Asian immigrants,” says Shaw San Liu, another speaker at “Turn the Tables.” Liu is a lead organizer with the Chinese Progressive Association (www.cpasf.org), which since 1970 has worked to empower the Chinatown community to deal head on with social inequities. Earlier this year, the association released a report on the state of employment in Chinatown restaurants based on one-on-one interviews with 435 workers. The results were disheartening: 50 percent had worked under-minimum wage jobs; 80 percent had been cheated out of overtime; 64 percent had received no on-the-job training; a majority had been injured on the job; and more than half were paying all medical costs out of pocket.

That’s just not cool in a town that nominally protects workers against all these things by law. Liu says CPA would like to publish a guide similar to Dining With Justice to reward responsible restaurants but has run into cultural stumbling blocks. Law-abiding businesses didn’t want to be singled out as such because, owners said, it would make their neighbors look bad. “Everyone knows minimum wage in Chinatown is $1,000 a month,” says Liu. “They didn’t want to be known as the goody two-shoes.”

There are clear challenges to improving the lot of the person serving you your brunch, burritos, and dim sum. But everyone has a part to play in making it happen. “At this point, we’re just asking consumers to be aware,” Liu says.

Efforts like Dining With Justice are a real step in the right direction. YWU plans to expand its scope next year into other city neighborhoods. “Surely there are more than just nine restaurants treating their workers right in this city. We want to know about them,” YWU organizer Tiffany Crain tells the room of students assembled before her. Crain added that if anyone in attendance works for a good employer, they should call her — just as they should call her if they are getting cheated out of wages or a healthy working environment.

“You want to make money?” Liu asked SF restaurant owners. “You’re going to make money if people think you’re a good employer.” In San Francisco, diners like to think they’re eating sustainably: organic, local, and fair to workers. Also, a chef who is happy in his or her job makes for a better dining experience.

Here are restaurants that scored four stars in Dining With Justice.

Arizmendi Bakery

1331 Ninth Ave.; (415) 566-3117, www.arizmendibakery.com


384 Hayes; (415) 626-1211

The Corner

2199 Mission; (415) 875-9258, www.thecornersf.com


590 Valencia; (415) 863-8272 and 581 Hayes; (415) 864-7654, www.frjtzfries.com

Mission Pie

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


4072 18th St.; (415) 252-9325, www.poesiasf.com


941 Cole; (415) 564-5332, www.zaziesf.com

Ducking the cold



CHEAP EATS I know I’m not the only one. December rubs a lot of people the wrong way. This year, to combat my usual seasonal depression, I am moving to Norway. Oh, I’m sure I’ll be back to the Bay Area to visit, now and agin, but just in case I’m underestimating the inherent cheerfulness of Oslo and wind up coming back to live, I will of course continue to write Cheap Eats from abroad, no worries.

Then when I have finished unlocking the secrets of Norwegian cuisine, in general, and of Oslo’s burgeoning restaurant scene, in particular, I will write letters to Earl Butter again, or Cheap-Eats-length poems about how happy I am, whaling, playing Scrabble on the beach, eating lutefisk until the wee hours, and running with the moose, or whatever it is that people in Norway do for happiness.

I’m kidding of course. I would never in a million years go whaling! Didn’t you ever read Moby Dick? I did! There’s a guy in it named Queemquack, or something like that, and in the end they all get eaten to death by a whale.

Oy, my poor father, a Melville scholar, would be rolling over in his grave right now if he were 1) still reading my column and 2) dead, but he is neither, that I know of. Why, I just talked to him on the phone a little bit ago and he didn’t mention anything at all about Cheap Eats or having died.

Man, I love my dad! Happy birthday to him. When I was eight, I helped him write his dissertation. No lie, he had underlined all the participial phrases in Melville’s major works, and it was my job to tally them up — my first quantitative analysis of a major literary figure, give or take Dr. Seuss.

It’s uncanny. First I became a writer like my dad, then I became a musician like my dad, and don’t look now but I believe a couple paragraphs ago I may have established myself as a Melville scholar in my own right. Anyway, I read Moby Dick twice. Twice! (Technically I read it once as a literate adult, and leafed through it the other time, as a literary scholar who also pretty much knew how to count.)

From my mother I inherited my athleticism (which is no less dear to me than all-of-the above) and my peculiar knack for migrating north in winter and living in the woods, literally and figuratively.

You have to have good, strong legs, like mine and mom’s, to run with moose, don’t you know. And you have to be at least a little bit crazy, as I understand it, to eat lutefisk. Especially when you can just stay here and have burritos.

Or, actually, I’m kind of stuck on duck noodle soup now. Again. It being cold season. And I was house- and dog-sitting for Crawdad for a while in Berkeley, where there are a lot more duck soups to be had than here in the Mission. Not to mention Oslo.

All kidding aside, although I did briefly consider going home for the holidays this year, I’ve decided to weather them here where my turntable is. I don’t have any records anymore, but I do have my kitten, Stoplight. And if I turn my turntable on, with Stoplight on top of it, the result is more entertaining than Merle Haggard or anything.

It should be enough to get me through the darkest time of year.

But I wonder if old Merle ever had duck noodle soup with three scoops of hot sauce in it, or hung around with lesbians. For the former, my current recommendation is Your Place on University Avenue.

It’s on the lunch menu, for like $7, but probably they’ll give it to you any time of day. And it’s a big bowl, with rice noodles, no-bone roast duck, celery, green onions, cilantro, and maybe even a few spinach leaves.

Very very very good. Nice place, friendly service.

Then you can always go to last week’s new favorite restaurant, Lao Thai, for a bowl of sweet duck soup for dessert. In this very way, I will hop, skip, and waddle my way to March, and warmth, and happiness, and hopefully I hope a li’l love.

If we make it through December …


Daily 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m.

1267–71 University, Berk.

(510) 548-9781


Beer and wine


alt.sex.column: Bay watch


Dear Andrea:

Our children are grown and it’s just us now, so my wife and I started to indulge in a nude lifestyle here in South Florida. We go to a secluded beach and our sexual adventures increase each time, to the point we are being viewed by others occasionally, mainly by men. All are attracted to my wife.

My fantasy started with me thinking how hot it would be to have one lick her while were making out on the beach. She openly talks about my fantasy to excite me but when someone walks by and I say “Would that work?” she generally offers some reason for why it wouldn’t. Last week I saw a guy walking our way, so I covered her eyes with her bikini top then began saying out loud I need a pussy licker. He smiled but continued walking. After he passed I rolled her over to do her doggy style then noticed he was walking back and had removed his Speedo. She went flat on her tummy on the blanket till he passed. So my question is, is my fantasy a possibility? Would a blindfold be the key for her to enjoy the experience? And is having one man lick her to orgasm while making out with another something a woman might enjoy?

We have been together almost five years and married 11 months.


Beach Bum

Dear Bum:

Right, and now your children are grown and you are old enough to have problem getting it up, and … oh, never mind. We all know this is fantasy. Let’s not spilt fantasy hairs.

Here is what your fantasy wife is trying to tell you, both in your fantasy and in whatever may have happened in real life to spur you to write this: she is turned on by the casual interest of other men. She is turned on by your being turned on by her being so hot that random passing guys are turned on by her. She did not “go flat on her tummy” by accident (or wouldn’t if this really happened). She does not want those guys to go down on her while you two make out. If she did, she would say so.

I don’t believe that this (if it happened) is one of those cases where a little shedding of inhibition is all she needs. This is not 1970s porn flick starring Georgina Spelvin. This is real life (unless it isn’t) and she is an uninhibited woman (if she exists) and it has been discussed and she doesn’t want to do it.

Even my kids, who are four, eventually believe me when I say such and such a thing isn’t going to happen. Grown men shouldn’t take longer than a four-year-old to believe a person who’s saying, “No, dear. I know you want it and I understand that this is frustrating for you, but I said no.”

And that is that. Unless, of course, it was the Speedo that turned her off. It has been known to happen.



Got a question? Email Andrea at andrea@mail.altsexcolumn.com

Going to a club — or boarding an airplane?



The War on Fun — a term coined by the Guardian in 2006 to describe the crackdowns on nightclubs, special events, and urban culture by police, NIMBY neighbors, and moderate politicians — continues to grind on in San Francisco.

The latest attack was launched by Mayor Gavin Newsom and the San Francisco Police Department, which has proposed a series of measures to monitor and regulate individuals who visit bars or entertainment venues, proposals that the embattled Entertainment Commission will consider at its Dec. 14 meeting.

Perhaps most controversial among the dozens of new conditions that the SFPD would require of nightclubs is an Orwellian proposal to require all clubs with an occupancy of 100 persons or more to electronically scan every patron’s identification card and retain that information for 15 days. Civil libertarians and many club owners call this a blatantly unconstitutional invasion of privacy.

Driving the latest calls for a crackdown is a stated concern over isolated incidents of violence outside a few nightclubs in recent years, something Newsom and police blame on the clubs and that they say warrants greater scrutiny by police and city regulators.

But the proposals also come in the wake of overzealous policing of nightclubs and parties — including improper personal property destruction and seizures, wrongful arrests and violence by police, harassment of disfavored club operators, and even dumping booze down the drain — mostly led by SFPD Officer Larry Bertrand and his former partner, Michelle Ott, an agent with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Those actions were documented in back-to-back cover stories by the Guardian (“The New War on Fun,” March 24) and SF Weekly (“Turning the Tables,” March 17), and they are the subject of multiple ongoing lawsuits by nightclub owners, patrons, and employees, including a racketeering lawsuit alleging that officials are criminally conspiring against lawful activities.

Yet rather than atoning for that enforcement overreach, Newsom and SFPD officials seem to be doubling down on their bets that San Franciscans will tolerate a more heavily policed nightlife scene in the hopes of eliminating the possibility of random violence.

A series of nighttime shootings this year has grabbed headlines and prompted calls to action by the Mayor’s Office and Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, whose District 3 includes North Beach. In February, there were shootings at Blue Macaw in the Mission and Club Suede at Fisherman’s Wharf, followed by a shooting at the Pink Saturday fair in June, one outside Jelly’s in SoMa in July, and the high-profile murder of a German tourist near Union Square in August.

Chiu responded with legislation to give the Entertainment Commission greater authority to close down problem nightclubs and, more recently, with legislation to require party promoters to register with the city so that officials can take actions against those who act irresponsibly.

In September, Newsom asked the SFPD for its recommendations and he received a laundry list of proposals now before the Entertainment Commission. That body held a closed session hearing Nov. 30 to discuss a confidential legal opinion by the City Attorney’s Office on whether the identification scan would pass constitutional muster, an opinion that has so far been denied to the Guardian and the public, although officials say it may be discussed in open session during the Dec. 14 hearing.

“Everything is being considered,” Jocelyn Kane, acting executive director of the Entertainment Commission, told the Guardian. Her office already has looked at the different types of scanners that clubs could use and has discussed the idea with several technology companies.

SFPD Inspector Dave Falzon, the department’s liaison to the nightclubs and ABC, told the Guardian that he believes the data gathered from nightclub patrons would allow police to more easily find witnesses and suspects to solve any crimes committed at or near the nightclubs.

“It’s not intended to be exploited,” Falzon said, stressing that the recommendations are a work in progress and part of an ongoing dialogue with the Entertainment Commission — an agency Newsom, SFPD officials, and some media voices have been highly critical of over the last two years.

Along with the proposal for the ID scanners, SFPD proposed many other measures such as increased security personnel (including requiring clubs to hire more so-called 10-B officers, or SFPD officials on overtime wages), metal detectors at club entrances, surveillance cameras at the entrances and exits, and extra lighting on the exterior of the night clubs.

Though this may sound to many like heading down the dystopian rabbit hole with Big Brother potentially watching your every move, Falzon thinks it’s the opposite. “It isn’t that police department is acting as a militant state,” Falzon said. “All we’re trying to do is to make these clubs safer so they can be more fun.”

Yet critics of the proposals don’t think they sound like much fun at all, and fear that employing such overzealous policing tools will hurt one of San Francisco’s most vital economic sectors while doing little to make anyone safer.

Jamie Zawinski is the owner of the DNA Lounge, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. He has been a leading voice in pushing back against the War of Fun, including running a blog that chronicles SFPD excesses. He said the proposed regulations go way too far.

“It’s gang violence happening on the street. The nightclubs are being scapegoated. You don’t solve the problem by increased security in the clubs,” Zawinski told us, adding that the lack of proper policing on the streets should be addressed before putting the financial strain on the entertainment industry.

“It’s ridiculously insulting. I will not do that to my customers. It’s not a way to solve any problems,” Zawinski said. “It sets the tone for the evening when you start demanding papers.”

It’s also a gross violation of people’s rights, says Nicole Ozer, the director of Technology and Civil Liberties Policy for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. She said that recording people’s personal information when they enter a public venue raises troubling legal issues.

“There are some real implications of tracking and monitoring personal data. The details of what you visit reveal things about your sexuality and political views,” Ozer said, adding that the ACLU would also have issues with how that information is used and safeguarded.

In response to police crackdowns on nightlife, club owners and advocates earlier this year formed the California Music and Culture Association (CMAC) to advocate for nightlife and offer advice and legal assistance to members. CMAC officials say they are concerned about the latest proposals.

“The rise in violence has to be looked at from a societal point of view,” said Sean Manchester, president of CMAC and owner of the nightclub Mighty. He noted that most of the violence that has been associated with nightclubs took place in alleys and parking lots away from the bars and involved underage perpetrators. “In many instances [the increased security measures] wouldn’t have done anything to stop it,” he said.

While there are plenty of ideas to combat crime at nightclubs, nightlife advocates say the city is going to have to look beyond club venues to address what can be done to combat crime without infringing on any civil liberties or damaging the vibrant nightlife. Or officials can just listens to the cops, act on their fears, and make the experience of seeing live music in San Francisco more like boarding an airplane.

The Entertainment Commission meets Dec. 14 at 6:30 p.m., Room 400, City Hall.

The class of 2010


In about a month, the first class of district-elected supervisors since the 1970s will be gone, termed out, done with the transformative politics they brought to San Francisco. It’s a milestone worth marking: in 2000, when the city returned to district elections, everything changed. Machine-driven politics, controlled by money and mayoral power, vanished almost overnight. Constituencies that were virtually shut out of the corridors of power — tenants, labor, environmentalists, economic progressives, public power activists, the list goes on — suddenly had a seat at the table. Neighborhood issues started to matter. And downtown power brokers were no longer the only game in town.

But term limits mean that none of the members of the class of 2000 can remain in office beyond Jan. 8, 2011; and along with the new members elected two years ago, the class of 2010 will feature four new faces. It’s a diverse group. Two (Malia Cohen and Mark Farrell) have never before run for, much less held, elective office. One (Jane Kim) is Asian, one (Cohen) is African American, one (Scott Wiener) is gay. Farrell, who will replace Michela Alioto-Pier in District 2, is the only straight white guy. (Carmen Chu was reelected from District 4).

Overall, it’s safe to say, the ideological balance of the board hasn’t changed much — but the political approaches will be very different. In 2000, the election was all about then-Mayor Willie Brown, about fighting (or appeasing) the Brown Machine. This group of candidates didn’t run against anything in particular — and with the balkanized nature of local politics, they all have divergent bases of support.

So we sat down with the Class of 2010 and asked them to tell us what they plan to do with the next four years. Two trends emerged: all of the new supervisors want to be seen as independent of any political operation. And most have no clear agenda whatsoever for addressing the biggest problem facing the city — a looming budget deficit that will define almost everything they do in their first year.

At a moment of major fiscal crisis and political change, these four people will on center stage — and what they do could determine both the direction of the city and the hopes of the progressive movement. Click below for our exclusive interviews and profiles: