Volume 47 Number 18

Framing devices

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VISUAL ART Several recent, notable group exhibitions have me thinking a bit more actively about the roles curators play as artists in the shows they assemble. As much as DJs or editors, curators are present in their shows as artists, sometimes demurely, sometimes not.

As curator of the “Disrupt” two-person show at Highlight Gallery, Kelly Huang has shrewdly assembled a pair of artists whose work reinforces each other. Seen together, the paper-based works of London’s Marine Hugonnier and Cairo’s Taha Belal, create a kind of duet of interrelated working styles. Both artists use silkscreen to recast newspaper and magazine pages with intricate designs and blocks of color. Hugonnier tends to work in series, appropriating several consecutive days worth of front pages from the same newspaper during the course of pivotal political events, then blocking out images with bright primary colors in a way that recalls both Ellsworth Kelly and Piet Mondrian. Belal prefers delicate tiled pattern work overlaid on full color ads, applied in a way that confuses, heightens, and twists the intended message on the page. Through Sat/2, Highlight Gallery, 17 Kearny, SF; www.highlightgallery.com.

When a gallery with considerable reach decides to mount a thematic exhibition, it can be both impressive and almost unruly, as with Fraenkel Gallery’s sprawling “The Unphotographable” show, featuring images by Alfred Stieglitz, Man Ray, Richard Misrach, Glenn Ligon, Wolfgang Tillmans, Diane Arbus, and many others. Truthfully, there’s probably too much here, but there are several gems in the gallery, lightly organized to highlight attempted photographic captures of the sublime, the disembodied, the transcendent, and the elusive. The most potent works in the show — among them Gerhard Richter’s September, an image of his 2005 painting, itself a conceptual model for abstract representation — counteract their own assertions of verisimilitude in favor of something more circumspect and self-aware. Through March 23, Fraenkel Gallery, 49 Geary, SF; www.fraenkelgallery.com.

For logistical and practical reasons, it’s fairly uncommon to hear of curators commissioning works for a gallery show, but the results can be intoxicating, as with “Remembering is Everything” at Alter Space. Bean Gilsdorf and A. Will Brown got six artists to contribute a work based on his or her own remembering of the same original video, which was destroyed after viewing. Befitting the premise, the works in the show contribute to a general field of reverberating feedback, each one in this context providing you incomplete points of view on an unknown experience.

Themes of recursion, repetition, and fugue recur, as in Stephen Slappe and Kate Nartker’s looped video works that both posit unresolved narrative chords, and Nancy Nowacek’s performance Circuit (As I Caught), in which mysterious packages filled with objects recalled from the video appear at the gallery each day of the exhibition. The effect is like an enacted Haruki Murakami dream sequence, and you’re immediately drawn into the activity of fabricating and assembling the show’s affects and objects into a kind of tenuous, vague, and poignant gestalt. Through Feb. 23, Alter Space, 1158 Howard, SF; www.alterspace.co.

Sometimes, the curatorial conceit is basically an excuse, as with “While We Were Away” at 941 Geary, which the press release says is “composed entirely of artists [curator Tova] Lobatz has become aware of while traveling.” Despite the throwaway premise, some of the work — especially by Sten Lex — is impressive. Sten Lex, the Italian stencil duo, makes arresting op-art flavored stencil portraits usually on grand scale on the sides of buildings; here on panels. What differs from the street-art norm in their work, aside from the precise Ben-Day rendering, is the not-really-offhand way they leave the painted stencil affixed to the substrate to let it peel or erode over time, a swerve that makes the painting’s correlation to the original photo more precise as it ages. Their four untitled works in the gallery demonstrate various points in that progression. Through March 2, 941 Geary, SF; www.941geary.com.

LOOKING AHEAD:

For “Silence,” curators Toby Kamps (Menil Collection) and Steve Seid (BAM/PFA) dig deep to assemble almost everybody you can think of — Beuys, Duchamp, Klein, Magritte, Warhol, Broodthaers, Manders, Marclay, Roden, Salcedo, others — to address the representation of silence using John Cage’s 4’33” as a point of departure. Jan. 30-April 28, UC Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft, Berk; bampfa.berkeley.edu.

A new series of muralist group shows launches with work by Apex, Casey Gray, René Garcia Jr., and others. Erotic, anaglyphic 3D glitter wallpaper? Sign me up. Feb. 7-July 1, Project One, 251 Rhode Island, SF; www.p1sf.com.

Kehinde Wiley’s flashy, uber-hip portraits have made him the international go-to darling of both the upmarket and Juxtapoz crowds. Expect high craftsmanship and an eye for drama. “The World Stage: Israel,” Feb. 14-May 27, Jewish Contemporary Museum, 736 Mission, SF; www.thecjm.org.

The word “visionary” is perhaps overused in the world of architecture, but the jarring, psychologically charged work of Lebbeus Woods warrants the use. The recently deceased architect’s work will be represented by 175 drawings, renderings, and models in this career survey. Feb.16-June 2, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St., SF; www.sfmoma.org.

Southpaw

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE As I’ve often bemoaned, finding authentic ‘que outside of the Deep South is a rarity. Case in point: Southpaw opened late 2011 on Mission Street, a BBQ oasis of the gourmet kind, brewing its own beers in a couple in-house tanks. Welcoming staff and flaky catfish impressed me early on, but watery sauces and dry ribs and brisket deflated my BBQ dreams.

Fast-forward a year. With new chef Max Hussey on board, I’m back, working my way through much of the food, cocktails, and beer selection. As a Massachusetts dishwasher and prep cook, Hussey boldly slipped a resume to Emeril Lagasse at a book signing, moving to New Orleans a month later to eventually become executive sous chef of Emeril’s Delmonico. Melding Southern touches with San Francisco tastes, he’s cooked at 25 Lusk and Epic Roasthouse.

Southpaw’s BBQ staples (pulled pork, brisket, ribs) have all improved under Hussey’s watch. While ribs look dry, crusted in 17 spices, they’re actually tender, aromatic, addictive. Appropriately fatty beef brisket is smoked for 14 hours. If you must do chicken at a BBQ joint, you could do worse than this whiskey-brined version. Catfish is still strong, lightly pan-fried, and available on a sandwich ($9), which begged for a little more remoulade on melting-soft brioche. Newly-added quail explodes with boudin sausage. Each meat and catfish selection comes as a platter ($14-19), with hushpuppies and choice of two sides. Choosing those sides ($5 each or 4 for $14) is a challenge. Cheddar grit cake hides a juicy hamhock, mac ‘n cheese comes alive with red pepper, sweet potatoes are whipped soft with bourbon, sweet chili-braised Southern greens and a new creamed “lollipop” chard kale make eating greens nearly dreamy.

Creativity shines in starters like smoked pulled goat ($12) with salsa verde and house pickles scooped up by Southern fry bread, or roasted duck breast and goat cheese rosti ($12). Abandon all, however, for Natchez ($12), named after the Mississippi town, sounding a lot like “nachos”. Think warm potato chips falling apart under pulled pork and black eyed peas, drenched in pimento bechamel and hot sauce. Divine bar food.

Hussey also perfects fried oysters. These delicately treated bivavles exude briny freshness unusual for fried oysters. Currently, they’re loaded with bacon and onions on a sandwich ($11). While BBQ sauces like sweet potato remain a bit watery, lacking in flavor punch for me, Memphis smoked sauce is briskly gratifying. But all praise goes to better-than-ever Alabama white sauce: mayo-based, packing pepper and vinegar bite, it makes just about everything sing. I’d rather fill up on savory options than desserts ($8), but banana pudding with house ‘nilla wafers evokes childhood comfort.

Drink is as important as food at Southpaw. Brewer Phil Cutti started homebrewing in 1995 after shopping at SF Brewcraft. Learning from Speakeasy founders Steve and Mike Bruce, homebrewing led to his own gypsy label, Muddy Puddle Brewing. Southpaw’s small program allows him to experiment with a range of beers and collaborate with other brewers. House brews ($6) are balanced, readily drinkable crowd pleasers. Posey Pale Ale is subtly hoppy, Pisgah Rye Porter is complex without being heavy, and a Smoked Cream Ale is smooth with a smoke-tinged finish. As active members of SF Brewers Guild, which puts on the fantastic SF Beer Week (www.sfbeerweek.org) coming up February 8-17, Southpaw hosts intimate classes and tastings, like a collaboration beer pairing dinner with San Diego’s famed Stone Brewing on Feb. 11, one of the brewers they feature on their hand-selected draft menu.

In addition to beer, Southpaw founder-manager Edward Calhoun’s American whiskey selection and cocktails make fanatics like me smile. Growing up in his father’s North Carolina bar, Calhoun honed bar chops in three cities that know how to drink well: Savannah, New Orleans, San Francisco. Playful balance exemplifies the cocktails ($9), whether a Rye Old Fashioned sweetened by pecan syrup or Rescue Blues: smoky Scotch and Combier Rouge dancing with cocoa nib syrup. My favorites? Mishi’s Regret No. 2, hot with habanero, smoky with Mezcal, brightened by lemon and cassis, or cheekily-named Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari’s character on my beloved Parks & Recreation) where sarsaparilla-root beer notes of Root liquor intermingle with lemon and Shiraz wine. Get educated with whiskey flights ($12-16) grouped in themes like Peated American Single Malts or Bay Area Whiskey, or flights featuring a craft distillery like High West.

Gracious founder-manager Elizabeth Wells, an Alabama native, sets Southpaw’s downhome tone. She moves about the restaurant, attending to needs of each table. Staff follows her lead, ready with a smile, a platter of ‘que, and a glass of bourbon. Down home, indeed.

Southpaw BBQ 2170 Mission, SF. (415) 934-9300, www.southpawbbqsf.com

Subscribe to Virgina’s twice-monthly newsletter, The Perfect Spot, www.theperfectspotsf.com

Continuity

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le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS Hoolibloo lives next door, where Elsa the Very Very Old Peruvian Woman used to live. I changed light bulbs for Elsa in the ’90s, and reset her clock every time the time changed or the power went out. Or a battery died.

Then, when I moved back into the building 10 years later, she didn’t recognize me. A lot had changed. I tried to explain, but she didn’t understand, but maybe she did and I didn’t understand her understanding. Her ability to speak English started and ended with asking for help and bragging about how very very old she was. And my understanding of Spanish is limited to the meats. So a typical conversation between us would go something like this:

HER: Please can you help me?

ME: (helping her) Carnitas, Elsa. Carnitas!

HER: I am very very old. Very old.

ME: (finishing up with the helping her) Carne asada. Um, pollo.

HER: Thank you. Thank you very mucho.

ME: De nada, Elsa. Hasta lechuga.

And all of us, everyone in the building, would help her up the stairs. Whereas Hoolibloo, my friend who moved in when Elsa (sniff) moved out, takes the stairs by herself — often even briskly.

“Here, let me help you,” I say, out of habit. But she turns me down, arguing that she’s 25.

Fluently! She doesn’t even have to draw the numbers in the air, like Elsa used to do. But I guess that’s the difference between Chicago and Peru, coming-fromwise. Not to mention 50 years.

In spite of her relative youthfulness, Hoolibloo does not play on my football team, or even in a band. Still, she is our closest friend. When Hedgehog and I sit on our couch and she sits on hers, we are only two sheets of drywall and six inches of insulation apart.

She helps Hedgehog make movies, and me find restaurants. Why, just the other day she showed me to Poc-Chuc. We were both working at home, and were craving sandwiches, only when Hooli called up Ike to place our order they said it would take about an hour, that’s how crowded they were.

So then we started to crave empanadas instead.

One thing I love about hanging with people half my age is they talk about interestinger stuff than I do. I’m all, Oh, my knee is gone! I blacked out in the bathroom! What’s wrong with my butt! . . . and meanwhile they’re working out what to do with their life.

Which makes much more lively dinner conversation.

Lunch too, come to think of it.

Over Empanadas we discussed guns, Israel, guns in Israel, and writing. Hoolibloo would like to write something, she said, but not necessarily a whole book.

“You’re talking to the right person,” I said. I start and don’t finish books with a level of expertise seldom seen outside the world of professional bowling.

But that kind of wasn’t what she was talking about.

She had just come back from Israel, where her grandma lives, and was fixing to fly off somewhere else. Her dream job would entail a lot of travel. And autonomy. “But I also really like to be part of a team,” she said.

“I can teach you football,” I said. Ever the recruiter.

Poc chuc, the signature dish of Poc-Chuc, is thinly sliced pork marinated in citrus, grilled, and served with onions, tomatoes, rice, and a small bowl of pureed black beans that I almost forgot to even taste, everything else was so freaking delicious and plentiful.

I don’t normally like empanadas, but I loved Poc-Chuc’s ones. They were less doughy and more flavorful than most, maybe because of the same black bean puree. Which also found its way into the Panuchos. And believe me, as someone who changes diapers for a living . . . black bean puree in the panuchos? That’ll happen.

Really though: really really awesome Mayan food. The Panuchos, which also feature shredded turkey, avocado, and pickled red onions, were fantastic. Kinda somewhat similar to empanadas, only fried.

I can’t wait until Hedgehog comes back from L.A. so I can show this to her.

POC-CHUC

Mon-Wed 10:30am-8:30pm; Thu-Sat 10:30am-10pm; Sun 4-9:30pm

2886 16th St., SF

(415) 558-1583

AE/D/MC/V

No alcohol

 

Festival of festivals

2

arts@sfbg.com

THEATER The chill air had no snow in it. Instead, a particularly nasty outbreak of influenza whipped through the city, leaving a fine coating of mucus on the ground. Still, New York City looked beautiful as the various performing arts festivals that cluster around the annual meeting of APAP (the Association of Performing Arts Presenters) all revved up for a fat two weeks of shows this January.

These festivals, pitched to out-of-town-presenters and general audiences alike, include Under the Radar (an international but New York– and American-heavy program at the Public Theater), PS122’s Coil festival (specializing in theater but including some contemporary dance and performance), American Realness (a concentrated dose of leading contemporary dance/performance on the Lower East Side), Other Forces (a program of new independent theater presented by Incubator Arts Project, itself originally a program of Richard Foreman’s Ontological-Hysteric Theater), and the brand new Prototype festival (whose niche is new, chamber-sized opera-theater).

Under the Radar is the daddy of them all. Founded by longtime new-work maven Mark Russell (formerly of PS122) and now in its ninth year, Under the Radar has become more concentrated of late, partly in reaction to the other specialized festivals that have cropped up alongside it.

Festival director Russell described the trajectory in a recent phone conversation. “It’s a very interesting time, because by the ninth year you’re a fact on the landscape. People are beginning to take you for granted,” he said with a laugh. “Yes, there are a lot of other festivals now; it’s sort of become festival central in these two weeks in January, which is a little crazy, and I don’t recommend it. But it has created its own scene, in a way. I think that’s great. We started out trying to be big and trying to encircle a lot of the work that was going on downtown and around the world. Now, I’ve actually shrunk the festival to be more surgical and specific. Two years ago we were doing 21 things, and this year we’re doing 12, which feels more comfortable and better. We’re trying to go deeper in each of these performances and support them better, and let other people curate their way with the other festivals as well.”

UTR’s program this year included premieres by some leading American new-work companies, including Philadelphia-based Pig Iron (whose Chekhov Lizardbrain came to San Francisco as part of the 2011 FURY Factory Theater Festival). Pig Iron’s Zero Cost House is a simply but shrewdly staged, intriguingly unexpected collaboration with Japanese novelist-playwright Toshiki Okada (founder of theater company Chelfitsch). It unfolds an autobiographical dialogue between the younger and the present-day Okada over Thoreau’s Walden across a shifting set of actors and related characters (including a downbeat and down-at-the-heel Thoreau). Its po-faced humor belies an ultimately serious exploration of enduring ideas about our relation to society, political commitment, and art’s function amid the insanity of a status quo represented by the overwhelming indifference to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. This was a stimulating call to thought and imagination as nothing less than action toward survival.

Questions about art’s social role and power, as well as the lines joining the mundane to the great political and narrative arcs of the age, ran through much more work besides. One of the fresher, quietly unsettling surprises in this respect was Australian company Back to Back’s brilliantly staged Ganesh Versus the Third Reich, a deceptively low-key exploration of power and marginality by a five-member ensemble that includes actors with varying mental and physical disabilities. On a largely bare stage repeatedly transformed by large transparent curtains into a gorgeous shadowbox landscape of mythological proportions, the riveting cast plays out its own inner turmoil along an extremely subtle line separating the ridiculous and the profound, meanwhile complicating our perception of what is in fact real.

In a highly anticipated offering, New York’s Nature Theater of Oklahoma premiered eight hours worth of its Soho Rep–produced opus Life and Times (Episodes 1-4) — more episodes are apparently forthcoming — which channels the verbatim childhood reminiscences (replete with uhs, ums, likes, whatevers, and oh-my-gods) of a middle-class American 30-something (company member Kristen Worrall) through an evolving set of choreographed, highly stylized, mostly-musical ensemble performances. Again, as directed by founders Kelly Copper and Pavol Liska, the banal is elevated to the level of the epic, but in a precious and ironic way that, for all its precision and the seriousness of its core idea, leaves one feeling mostly empty, bored, and frayed by the text’s endless assault of half-articulate and overly familiar riffs on family, friends, awkwardness, first kisses, religion, and so on. With the dialogue divvied up among an entire ensemble in coordinated outfits, vocal harmonies, and group dance steps, we’re being made to hear again what we hear all the time, which invites certain revelations, but they seemed precious little compensation for the tedium of it all.

Further downtown at American Realness, where founder Ben Pryor’s astute gathering of contemporary dance-performance is now in its fourth year, there was much greater and subtler impact to be had from a slim hour spent in a largely unadorned room with performance maker Jeanine Durning. She also set forth a barrage of speech, a continuous stream of consciousness that touched on many subjects and her own self-consciousness, but in that simple score came a powerful emotional encounter and myriad questions about language, communication, reason, madness, art, and subversion that left the audience slightly stunned and reeling in their chairs.

American Realness had its much-hyped disappointments as well, in particular Trajal Harrell’s Antigone Sr., a self-conscious and dull three-hour riff on fashion and voguing that is part of his seven-part opus, Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church, which sets out to explore a dialogue between the post-modern dance movement of 1960s Greenwich Village and the voguing scene taking place uptown in the same era. A provocative enough project, but this piece had little to recommend in terms of ideas or movement.

There were more modestly-scaled but far more engaging works to be found at American Realness this year, including Miguel Gutierrez’s collaboration with Mind Over Mirrors (musician Jaime Fennelly), Storing the Winter, a supple, sinewy and raucous solo dance-for-keeps; and Faye Driscoll’s dynamic, ecstatically unhinged duet, You’re Me, which comes to SF’s CounterPULSE in March. While BodyCartography Project’s Super Nature (co-presented with the Coil festival) was a mixed success, it nevertheless made me want to see them again when they bring Symptom (also to CounterPULSE) in February. Another AR offering not to be missed is Frankfurt-based American and former Forsythe dancer Anthony Rizzi’s hilarious, ridiculously reasonable, and super-shrewd An Attempt to Fail at Groundbreaking Theater with Pina Arcade Smith, which plays locally at Kunst-Stoff Arts Feb. 7–9. *

 

Starting slow and ramping up

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SEX It’s the end of an era at local sex toy and education company Good Vibrations: Dr. Charlie Glickman is stepping down from his position as education program manager for the national retailer.

But Glickman is leaving for another adult education adventure: bringing the joys of prostate play to mainstream society. Joining up with San Francisco-based sex educator, Aislinn Emirzian, Glickman has co-authored The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure; Erotic Exploration for Men and Their Partners, set to be published by Cleis Press in February. The book is all about easy and pleasurable anal play, prostate massage, toys, pegging and anal intercourse, positions, common concerns, and safer sex techniques.

Glickman told the Guardian in an interview about that the book has been in the works for years. Though it’s not the first guide to prostate play, he feels as though he’s tapping into the zeitgeist, that our culture is finally ready for pegging and prostate pleasuring.

The man should know. Since 1996, the sex educator has been on the frontlines of trying to get accurate sexual health information to the Bay Area, and has taught many a prostate class through Good Vibes. His book release party on Thu/31 kicks off a North American prostate play workshop tour sponsored by the sex toy company, and looks to target an audience that mirrors the people who have shown up in Glickman’s sex ed workshops throughout the years: male-female couples, solo women, gay men, the college-aged to senior citizens.

Throughout the course of their research, the book’s authors interviewed over 200 men of all sexual orientations and their partners to capture a wide spectrum of perspectives on how prostate play expands one’s sexual menu, and what holds men back from experiencing its joys. Pegging is the term used to describe men being penetrated by women, often within a heterosexual context. Glickman and Emirzian’s guide is both a 101 on prostate anatomy and sensation, and an examination of the stigmas associated with prostate play.

But one’s prostate play comfort level is not determined by one’s sexuality alone, according to the authors. Reluctance to experiment — even among gay men — can be due to a perceived threat to masculine identity with which anal penetration is often associated.

Glickman says that the first challenge to exploring prostate pleasure exists on a physical level. “For most straight men, and topping queer men, sex happens outside your body as penis-oriented sex.”

“The basic story goes like this,” he continues in the guide. “Real men don’t get fucked — that’s for women, fags, and sissies. Because receiving penetration is usually viewed as the woman’s role in sex, a man may be worried that he isn’t fulfilling the man’s role if he takes a turn catching instead of pitching.”

Leaving the “get it up, get it in, get it off” mentality behind and moving into a receptive role can result in a new feeling of vulnerability. But men can expand the scope of what sex means to them by exploring the world of prostate play. According to Glickman, letting go of ass-based insecurity can open up a whole new world of sexual pleasure.

“Many straight men have said ‘I tried this and it completely changed our sex life,'” Glickman says. Getting to know the prostate can be a game changer.

And The Ultimate Guide is far from being a book for straight men. Glickman and Emirzian are adamant that most gay porn doesn’t adequately explore prostate stimulation, and the guide is also geared towards homosexual men — and for prostate players from the beginner to the advanced.

For example, in the chapter titled, “Prostate Massage,” one can learn all about how to use fingers properly: “When it comes to the prostate, poking is exactly what you don’t want to do! It may have felt great on your shoulder just now, but the prostate is another matter entirely,” says the guide. “We’ve spoken with a lot of men who complained about finger tips poking and stabbing their prostate, which can feel too intense, uncomfortable, or even painful.”

That chapter also includes sections on “starting slow and ramping up” and “rhythm and variety.” Another common misnomer that Glickman puts some ink towards correcting is the idea that bigger is always better when it comes to butt play. Did you know there is a difference between anal sensation and prostate stimulation? While anal sensations are affected by size of penetrating object, incredible prostate pleasure can be found with just one finger or a finger-sized toy. Tips like these aren’t meant to reduce men’s anxiety about being penetrated, especially those who have only seen anal sex in porn.

The book seeks to address both psycho-social concerns while providing practical how-to advice by carefully delineating between the multiple ways that the prostate can be stimulated and sexual orientation.

Another quote from the text: “The important thing to know is that whether you like anal penetration is about what kinds of sexual stimulation work for you; who you want to do it with is about your sexual orientation. While there can be some correlation between the two, one doesn’t imply anything about the other. If you’re gay and you don’t like anal play, you’re still gay. If you’re straight (or bi or any other sexual orientation) and you enjoy it, that doesn’t make you gay.”

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO PROSTATE PLEASURE BOOK LAUNCH

Thu/31, 6:30-8:30 p.m., free

Good Vibrations

603 Valencia, SF

(415) 522-5460

www.goodvibes.com

 

Volume 47 Number 18 Flip-through Edition

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Dynamic duo

0

arts@sfbg.com

DANCE The Bebe Miller Company’s A History at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts last weekend proved to be both exhilarating and frustrating. First, the good: watching two gorgeous dancers engage each other in one encounter after another — both huge and tiny — for over an hour. Gradually, they emerged as two completely different and yet ever-so-compatible characters.

Angie Hauser can look almost demure, but there is such fierceness to her presence that you don’t want to get on the wrong side of that intensity. Darrell Jones, a tall, lanky dancer with limbs that can (and do) shoot in all directions simultaneously, is unstoppable — yet he also has teasing sense of humor about him. If Hauser could be almost earnest in her focus, Jones brought an often relaxed, quasi-casual quality to their work.

In the program notes, Miller says that History is a work about making work, specifically about having worked with Hauser and Jones for the last decade. On video Miller is a tiny figure, planted like a tree in a lush meadow, telling us that her body — and by implication that of her dancers — is "possessed by past dances." So History is a piece about excavating shards, remembering, or as one of the texts says, "remember remembering," everything that goes into the creative process. That’s a tough assignment. While conceptually intriguing, the 70-minute work didn’t completely convince because it didn’t stand as its own artifact with its own parameters. Hence the frustration.

History‘s collaborators, including the choreographer and her long-time dramatist Talvin Wilks, conceived of the work as a multi-media experience in which spoken and projected text, video images, and live dance would collide with each other. Unfortunately, the co-existence of these elements too often didn’t spark, proving to be more distracting than illuminating. Viewing History thus became an exercise in both reveling in and rebelling against the experience.

Even as History continued to slip one’s grasp, it was beautiful to watch. Mimi Lien’s semi-transparent panels enveloped the dancers in a neutral yet luminous space. At its best moments, Lily Skove’s video ran alongside the dancers and sometimes almost reached to grab them. The opening and closing images resonated particularly well. Michael Wall and Darren Morze’s score ranged from soft humming to a dance-y tune that sent the performers into paroxysms of joyous.

But it was Hauser and Jones who carried History. Their rich interactions were in a constant state of flux. Some were funny, some contentious; others were intimate, still others playful. Their sense of ease with each other may have developed over the last decade, but on stage it didn’t make any difference where it came from. Hauser is the verbal dynamo to Jones’ high-speed physicality; when she exploded into one of her speed monologues, he responded with a tease, or by simply rolling off their shared bed. They wearily watched each other using space, but also companionably loped around the periphery and engaged in hand games at the table. They did things as ordinary as taking off a partner’s shoe, or kneading one another like a piece of rising dough. If he came close, she flipped him off with a gesture. In an extended contact-improv inspired section, their bodies attempted to fuse almost to the point of eroticism. But they didn’t go all the way there.

One of History’s ingenuous devices was the use of headphones — the big, old-fashioned kind. The dancers raced to them periodically for a kind of grounding. Were they gateways to the past or did the simple act of listening — or yakking back — offer a respite from the physicality of moving? The headphones also highlighted the differences between the two dancers. Hauser devoured whatever she got from them, while Jones’ reactions were a lot more nonchalant.

Ultimately one walks away from History, imperfect vehicle that it is, with a sense of two dancers whose humanity is so closely integrated with what they do that you couldn’t tell the difference between the person and the persona. It was a rich idea to take home.

Libertine dream

3

marke@sfbg.com

SUPER EGO One of my supreme happy places, apparently, turned out to be the packed dancefloor of an underground fundraiser for Radical Faerie Burning Man camp Comfort and Joy, right around 3am a couple Fridays ago, when the drag queen DJ dropped “Rock the Casbah” and some behooded elfin rogue’s giant LED rainbow wings lit up and blinded me. Joe Strummer smiles from heaven, surely.

Alas, that drag queen, mi amiga grande Ambrosia Salad, will soon join the current nightlife exodus to Los Angeles, to follow her twinkling star (and cheaper rent) along the path to immortality — or at least an all-night churro cart. Can we get one here please thanks. But just when I despair of the city emptying of its precious idiosyncracies and after-dark characters, someone amazing pops up to charm the hotpants off of me and remind me of both San Francisco’s resilient weirdness and its cyclical subcultural nature.

“Oh, I moved out of the Castro when the drones moved in. Everyone started wanting to look the same, dress the same. It really took the fun out of the gay scene, these marching costumes coming in and stamping out the magic.” That’s twinkle-toned Todd Trexler, poster artist, AIDS nurse, and legendary bon vivant, speaking over the phone — not about about the samey-samey Wienerville the Castro has become, but the Castro clones of the mid-1970s. For all the renewed interest in the workboots, cut-offs, and mustaches of pre-AIDS SF gay culture (see local director Travis Mathews’ exciting, upcoming, James Franco-starring Interior. Leather Bar, which imagines the lost orgy footage from classic homoerotic/gay panic slasher flick Cruising and wowed ’em at Sundance last week), it’s good to remember there were also some fabulous butterfly dissenters to that macho wannabe world.

Trexler was a player in one of the seminal moments of alternative gay culture — after snagging an art degree from SF State, he designed the posters for the queer-raucous, acid-kaleidoscopic performance troupe The Cockettes’ first official shows, as well as the Midnight Movie series, later the Nocturnal Dream Shows at the Palace Theater in North Beach in the early ’70s, back when North Beach was a magnet for free-lovin’ freaks and nightlife oddities. (See, anything can happen). Now, he’s reprinted many of those iconic and visually stunning “Art Deco revival meets Aubrey Beardsley louche meets underground comics perversion” ink-and-photo masterpieces for surprisingly affordable purchase at www.toddtrexlerposters.com.

Divine in her iconic, kooky crinoline (“Basically she just threw on a bunch of stuff from the trunk of our car and voila, Divine!”) outside the Palace of Fine Arts for the “Vice Palace” play and, later, starring in Multiple Maniacs and “The Heartbreak of Psoriasis”; Sylvester looking his sultry best for a New Year’s Eve concert, and featured on a controversially explicit piece for decidedly hetero rock outfit the Finchley Boys; Tower of Power, Zazie dans le Metro, Mink Stole as Nancy Drew, the Waterfront gay bar — Trexler’s platinum stash of memorabilia will reinvigorate anyone zoinked out by our increasingly conformist, consumerist moment. (Trexler was prodded into reprinting by my favorite classic SF eccentric, Strange de Jim.)

And hey, there’s some hope for a freakish future, even: lauded local theater troupe Thrillpeddlers, which includes a couple gorgeous surviving Cockettes itself, will put on the Cockettes’ 1971, Trexler-postered “Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma” starting March 28, www.thrillpeddlers.com.

Trexler’s importance to gay culture doesn’t end with his glamourous posterization, however. After his ’70s time “crafting assemblage sculptures from gems found at Cliff’s Variety Store, hand-drawing the posters in the flat at 584B Castro Street, smoking weed with Sebastian [Bill Graham’s accountant, who instigated the whole Nocturnal Dream Emissions insanity], and hanging out at the Palace and the Upper Market Street Gallery,” he moved down to Monterey and became a registered nurse, cared for the first GRID, aka AIDS, patient in the area, and pitched in on the groundbreaking early work on the epidemic with UCSF and the National Institutes of Health.

“What troubles me most now,” he says, reflecting on his experience, “is the rising prevalence of HIV infections among young gay men.” Some cycles don’t need repeating, k?

 

BROWN SUGAR

Heck yes — the classic hip-hop soul joint is back, scooping you up for free after the Oakland Art Murmur’s First Fridays blast, which is amazing. Brown Sugar crew Jam the Man, The C.M.E, and Sake 1 spin with the Local 1200 crew on the street and then take it inside to the spanking new Shadow Lounge (formerly Maxwell’s). Welcome back, fellas.

Fri/1 and first Fridays, 9:30pm, free. Shadow Lounge, 341 13th St., Oakl.

 

MATTHEW DEAR

Moody-poppy Detroit techno pretty boy is a favorite around these parts. He may have started the recent (sometimes regrettable) trend of DJs singing, but he’s one of the best at it — and his compositions aren’t afraid to get deep and edgy.

Fri/1, 9pm, free. 1015 Folsom, SF. www.1015.com

 

VINTAGE

Icon Ultra Lounge is dead — please welcome new, neater venue F8 in its place. Also, after a horrific hit-and-run accident last year, beloved and crazy DJ Toph One is alive! He’s returned with his crew to reboot this eclectic-tuned early evening fave every Friday to fly you into the weekend.

Fridays, 5:30-9:30, free. F8, 1192 Folsom, SF. www.feightsf.com

 

KAFANA BALKAN SIXTH ANNIVERSARY

Holy Balkans, Batman! Six years of wild, whirling, stomping, shouting Romani-inspired music goodness from one of the best and most unique parties anywhere, with DJ Zeljko, the Inspector Gadje brass band, and a Balkan bellydance blowout with the inimitable Jill Parker and the Foxglove Sweethearts. Get there early.

Sat/2, 9pm, $15. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF. www.rickshawstop.com

 

GAVIN AND ROBBIE HARDKISS

OK, the headliner for this event is actually the excellent old-school California techno wizard John Tejada (along with fellow mage Pezzner playing live) downstairs in the big room of Public Works — but the big news is a reunion of two of SF’s wiggy, wowza Hardkiss Brothers all night long upstairs in the loft. Bigness!

Sat/2, $12 advance, $15 door. Public Works, 131 Erie, SF. www.publicsf.com

Who are you?

3

arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC Can dreams come true or is it all a teenage wasteland? The remains of British mod band (some prefer to call them rockers) the Who are being scraped together for the latest round of nostalgia when original members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey perform their second rock opera, 1973’s Quadrophenia, in its entirety at Oakland’s Oracle Arena this Fri/1.

I certainly have a soft spot for the band (despite the ’03 investigation and arrest of Townshend for accessing a child pornography website — he claimed it was for research on a book he was writing, and it was concluded that he never downloaded images), having owned its boxed-set since I was about 17. It’s doubtful this tour, which has been getting mostly positive reviews, needs any hype. After all — it’s the Who.

While ’69’s Tommy is generally regarded as its masterpiece and the standard as far as rock operas are concerned, (essayist Dave Marsh pointed out that mini operas like the Townshend-penned, “A Quick One While He’s Away” and “Rael” are their precursory “rock dramas”) the band continued this concept with a follow-up, even though the pressure of matching previous success reportedly lead to Townshend’s nervous breakdown.

Marsh’s essay The Who In America calls the introspective album a search for “where it all went wrong”: the it being an overly encompassing view of ’60s-rock stardom along with the counterculture; but at the same time, it mainly tells the story of Jimmy, the album’s protagonist, and his identity struggle (the whole violent, London mods vs. rockers thing). Still, Townshend’s self-analysis sounds majestic, but could be criticized as both vain and myopic, considering the band’s initial hits hadn’t even been around for a decade by that time.

The era bred stiff competition among bands and their contemporaries in both songwriting ability and recording technique, but also serves as a reminder that these larger-than-life artists were competing against themselves. Each album was measured against its predecessor. For a glimpse at Townshend’s fragile psyche, we could turn to one of its overshadowed albums, 1967’s The Who Sell Out.

In his book, Revolution In The Head, music critic Ian MacDonald calls Townshend “acid-inflated” during this period. He continues, saying he could barely write focused songs, much less hits. However, it was the Beatles who in 1968 were “provoked by hearing that the Who had gone all out on [its] latest track to achieve the most overwhelming racket imaginable.” This caused a paranoid reaction to outdo the Who (already notorious for impolite stage antics, i.e. toppling over Hiwatt amps, kicking over drum kits, and smashing guitars) by recording something raunchy and thrashing of their own. The result was “Helter Skelter”.

Sir Paul McCartney (widely credited as the song’s main, if not, sole composer) would reveal the Townshend track in question as “I Can See For Miles,” which ended up being a hit single. In fact, it was the only single from Sell Out, despite the album’s heavyweight melodies, intricate Beach Boys harmonies, and a maturing lyrical wit, that ranges from comedic to confessional.

“Sunrise” in particular, is the tale of profound loneliness, or at least, of a man wasting away his reality. He dreams day and night of either a lost love or of one that never existed in the first place. “Each day I spend in an echoed vision of you.”

The plucked acoustic strings throughout the song serve as metaphor for his own heavy heartstrings. He turns down the possibilities of love as he’s haunted by his visions, unable to move beyond them. When he does awake, it’s hopeless. “Then again you’ll disappear/my morning put to shame.” Singing in a haze, or in the tone of a lullaby, he fears everyday will be unfulfilling, just as the last. Meanwhile, his lament for the object of his desire consumes him.

It’s no surprise this feel-bad theme is repeated in the appropriately-titled “Melancholia” (a bonus track from the album’s reissue). The imagery couldn’t be clearer or more succinct when Daltrey and Townshend deliver a call-and-response vocal of one line in particular. Townshend taunts Daltrey in a sing-song voice posing as life itself, singing, “The sun is shining”. Daltrey, the embodiment of depression, screams out in response his tortured realization, “but not for me!”

If MacDonald was critical of Townshend’s acid phase for not producing hits, he should have listened to some of these deeper cuts for content. Unfortunately not every album had the ability to emerge from Tommy’s shadow, but the Who’s sound and focus always remained intact.

THE WHO

Fri/1, 7:30pm, $37.50–$123.25 Oracle Arena 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakl.

www.oraclearena.com

 

Noir Faze

4

caitlin@sfbg.com

STREET SEEN While larger clothing companies are free to define their brand through glossy print campaigns and billboards staring out impassively over downtown shoppers, the little guys look elsewhere to establish identity.

Last week I went to visit a silver grill, affixed to the grin of a one Edwin Haynes, the unapologetically pierced founder of graphically subversive clothing line Sav Noir. Think T-shirts covered in upside-down crosses, hot nuns making out, and a priest hoisting a Bible, gun, and shotglass — that would be the brand’s first collection, now available. Think a tough black-and-white color palette setting off designs by local artist Henry Lewis. Also think about a back room of an unmarked studio space, which is where I was last week checking out his works of the devil, artfully arranged on an L-section sofa.

Haynes talks mess about Catholic school while members of his team — event promoter Traci P of female hip-hop crew Sisterz of the Underground and Bogl, bass-and-beat DJ and event producer — look on.

“These figures and these idols who you were forced to worship were the people doing the most dirty shit,” the ex-chef, promotor, and “fashion guy” explains as we look at his sartorial takedowns of religion splayed out before us on the couch cushions. It’s all there: slutty sisters, gangster priest, schoolgirl swilling beer. Sav Noir is adamantly for the alternative nightclub set — the people, Haynes tells me, who don’t have to wait for the end of office hours to become who really are.

That makes sense, it’s hard to picture a real estate agent rocking the white tee with the photo print of the sexily open mouth cradling pills on its tongue. (If you are a real estate agent who wears things like that, get in touch with me.)

You can cop Sav Noir’s hats and tees at Infinite (www.infinitesf.com), True (www.trueclothing.net), and Santa Cruz’s So Fresh (www.sofreshclothing.com). But you may as well make a night of it. The brand also hosts The Gift, a first Sunday dub-trap party at Vessel starring DJs Ruby Red Eye and Atlanta’s DJ Holiday. Bogl spins Tuesday nights at Monarch. The events look like they crack — the Jan. 26 launch at 1AM Gallery for the new line attracted a crowd that spilled out into the SoMa streets.

“At the end of the day, we’re all we have,” says FAZE Apparel (3236 21st St., SF. www.fazeapparel.com) co-owner Johnny Travis as he tours me around his sunny Mission space, past the racks of his own line’s SF-made button-downs with printed cuffs, peculiar pockets — just intricate enough to catch the eye, but not so crazy that they can’t be basics.

FAZE also hawks ace $21 beanies, made in LA with leather tags affixed here in the city. The line’s hoodies are lined with nursery school zoo prints, part of the “Animal City” collection that also includes a tee with snarling pumas and the words “Easy Pussy” in heavy metal slant letters. It’s streetwear, but with details that make it pop.

The shop also has one of the mores interesting arrays of hyper-local brands I’ve seen: there’s All Out Foul, a San Mateo line that supplies tees to the quickly-growing legions of Niners fans. Those tees sit alongside nautical-inspired ones designed by Charlie Noble, an Alameda Coast Guard vet. The different brands are great for the store, Travis tells me. The days of single-brand customers, he says, are over.

And FAZE (an acronym for “Fearless and Zealous Everyday”) is nothing is not group-oriented. “We don’t want to be an intruder to the community,” the SF native Travis tells me, wary of the fact that he just moved a business into a part of the Mission where rents are skyrocketing and many residents feel displaced. “We want to be a part of it.”

To that end, the regular art parties. At January’s FAZE event, the paintings created by the line’s artists on-site, made in front of the eyes of party attendees right there in the shop, were sold to benefit the Boys and Girls Club down the street. At the next event (at the shop Feb. 8, 6-10pm, free), proceeds will round another corner to another neighbor of FAZE, going to low income student support service Scholar Match. Of course, you’re welcome to buy clothes at the party.

“I know a lot of people try to get their stuff in the hands of celebrities,” says Travis. “But that’s not what we’re about. It’s people like you and I who carry brands.”

Housing stability for all

9

OPINION San Francisco is in the midst of a housing affordability crisis. It’s way too expensive to live here, and for those fortunate enough to have housing they can afford, we need to provide stability. This need for housing stability applies to renters as well as homeowners. If we’ve learned anything from the foreclosure crisis, homeowners are not all rich, and they are not all stable in their housing.

Last week’s Guardian argued against legislation I’m co-sponsoring, which provides one-time relief to owners of tenancies-in-common (TICs) — mostly middle- and working-class first-time homeowners who reside in their units — while providing strong protection to renters. While the editorial correctly stressed the need to support rent control, it failed to acknowledge the need to support housing stability for homeowners as well.

Rent control is one of the pillars of our city. It stabilizes housing prices, recognizes that housing isn’t just another commodity, keeps communities intact, and helps maintain San Francisco’s diverse fabric. I’ve long supported rent control, as reflected by my voting record. I supported a series of rent control measures designed to reduce evictions, including requiring sales disclosure of a unit’s eviction history, requiring increased relocation benefits to evicted tenants, outlawing harassment of tenants, and restricting use of the Ellis Act by real-estate speculators. As a member of the Board of Supervisors, I authored successful legislation to ban conversion of rent-controlled units to student dorms and to provide temporary affordable units to renters displaced by disasters.

The current legislation I’m co-sponsoring will provide needed relief to struggling TIC owners, many of whom are experiencing serious financial distress, while protecting the small number of tenants who live in these units. TIC owners have group mortgages, meaning that if one owner defaults, all owners default. They pay double the interest rate other homeowners pay and usually cannot refinance. The legislation will allow them to convert their units to condos and obtain their own mortgages, at lower rates and less foreclosure risk.

While some caricature TIC owners as speculators and wealthy people, that’s untrue. Many TIC owners are quite middle class, former renters who scraped together a down payment to purchase a home. Many are teachers, social workers, public employees, and other workers who are anything but speculators. These are people who, if they didn’t own TICs, would be renting. They aren’t Martians who dropped out of the sky. They’re our neighbors, co-workers, and fellow San Franciscans. They are part of the city’s fabric.

Under the legislation, owner-occupied TICs that are in the condo lottery will be able to convert to condos by paying a fee of $20,000 per unit, with the proceeds dedicated to affordable housing. Buildings with Ellis Act and other problem evictions are typically prohibited from condo converting in San Francisco, under a 2006 law, and that restriction applies to this legislation. In other words, this legislation won’t encourage Ellis Act evictions. Moreover, buildings that aren’t owner-occupied can’t condo convert. Nor can buildings with more than six units. The legislation is one-time in nature and not an ongoing invitation to condo convert.

The legislation covers very few units with tenants — 85% are owner-occupied — and protects this small number of tenants by mandating they receive lifetime leases, with full rent and eviction controls identical to our rent control laws. This protection is stronger than what most tenants receive in buildings that win the condo lottery currently.

Renters and homeowners both deserve housing stability. This legislation moves us in that direction.

Supervisor Scott Wiener represents District 8.