Volume 47 Number 34

Tour of duty



THEATER Audience members entering the drill court of the Mission Armory and climbing the bleachers to their seats do so amid the buzzing drone of Highland music and an eager swarm of searchlights, all of it punctuated by booming pre-show announcements over the PA. When silence falls at last, a solitary man in jeans and leather jacket emerges a bit sheepishly from a doorway at the far end of the stage. Appearing small and inconsequential against the stadium-like surroundings and the preceding pomp and circumstance, he stutters a few opening lines before returning to his element — the local pub in Scotland’s Fife. There he assumes wholly different proportions, as he and his friends relay their own perspectives on the spectacle of war.

In Black Watch, the touring revival of a site-specific 2006 production by the National Theatre of Scotland (currently being presented by American Conservatory Theater), writer Gregory Burke and director John Tiffany set out to present a spectacle grounded in real lives. To that end, they blend fictionalized scenes with the accounts of young Fife veterans who served in Iraq as part of Scotland’s famed 300-year-old Black Watch regiment.

Meanwhile, the show employs a hybrid theatrical form that draws equally on the conventions of the music hall, the docudrama, and physical theater. The stage is a wide and busy corridor running between two tall banks of seats, with scaffolding on either end where actors also play, video monitors flicker, and large video projections are sometimes cast.

This is the production’s fourth international tour, remarkably. But despite its continued popularity abroad, little in it seems especially surprising or penetrating. There’s a lot of brash dialogue (hyper-macho, casually chauvinistic, expletive-laden soldierly banter in slightly toned-down Scottish brogues); some muscular dance routines (with the martial drills the most interesting); a sometimes affecting, sometimes overbearing musical score; and a few flashy staging ideas (including an eerily unexpected entrance in the barroom).

But whether the play is offering gritty realism or stylized interpretation, the message is generally and familiarly on-the-nose: war seems glamorous to the young man back home, and hell to the soldier in the field; soldiers are sold out by politicians; and soldiers don’t fight for their country or some high ideal, but for less abstract ties and especially for their fellow soldiers. The lies, illegality, and massive unpopularity surrounding the Iraq War is also hardly new ground in itself — though one line rings with unintended irony in the Armory setting (where Kink.com has been in residence since 2007) when a Scottish officer (Stephen McCole) jokingly admits the war is being waged for “petrol and porn.”

The narrative toggles between the aforementioned pub — where Cammy (Stuart Martin) and his fellow vets somewhat grudgingly and aggressively divulge their experiences to a timid middle-class Writer (Robert Jack) — and a flashback to the daily drudgery and danger of Iraq in 2004, where the company’s assignment in support of devastating American military assault on Fallujah leads to the death of three Scottish soldiers in a suicide car bombing. There’s also a segue into a somewhat silly if historically relevant recruitment scene at the outset of World War I, which further convolutes a narrative already burdened with details about political machinations at home and distress over “amalgamation” (the British government’s ill-timed decision to dissolve the Black Watch and fold it into a single, cheaper Royal Scottish Regiment).

The play never represents Iraqi lives or perspectives, nor is there more than passing sympathy for them among the characters; this is instead a work focused squarely on the Scottish soldier’s experience and, most significantly, the molding of that experience by a state reliant on a voluntary military. In a world of limited and dispiriting options, the military opportunistically and very successfully offers young men a seeming basis for pride in themselves and in an inflated (or degraded) masculine ideal. Black Watch is itself successful in those rare moments where sentimental spectacle gives way to images that register the profound, uneasy, and complex implications of this fact.


Through June 16

Tue-Sat, 8pm (also Wed and Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm, $100

Drill Court, Armory Community Center

333 14th St, SF





MUSIC Can you even recall your first run-in with the mythic, boundary-less creature that is Björk? Perhaps it was bounding through the neon blue forest with tiny crystals underneath her eyes as a giant paper-mache bear chased her through Michel Gondry’s video for “Human Behaviour,” off 1993 solo album Debut. Or maybe it was poised for the tabloids in an elegant swan dress, holding a large egg purse and preening for the worst dressed lists at the ’01 Academy Awards after her devastating performance in Dancer in the Dark (2000). Those long obsessed will likely point to first hearing ’88’s “Birthday” by the Sugarcubes, her early Icelandic act (post teenage punk bands), on international radio.

Whenever — and however — it went down, it left a lasting impression, the stunning shock of that otherworldly voice tends to permeate memories. Solo, Bjork has long coupled that voice with innovation, always grasping at new objects and sounds, or as she described it to me in conversation, she’s “like a kid in a toy shop.”

Her latest triumph was Biophilia, the ’11 album that paired science, nature, iPads, Tesla coils, and tinkling church bells. Since its release, she’s hopped the planet with her sonic education in tow, spreading pixie dust and learning tools at schools and museums along the way. Next up, she’ll play a trio of shows at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond (Wed/22, Sat/25, and Tue/28). Also during that time, her Biophilia Education Program comes to the Exploratorium, which means interactive workshops exploring connections between music and technology, Wed/22 through Tue/28.

In her unassuming but confident way — with the most endearing accent I’ve ever heard — the avant-pop megastar opened up to the SF Bay Guardian about her song writing process (yes, there’s a new project in the works), early punk career, natural musicology, and how to keep it all DIY:

SF Bay Guardian How did you initially come up with idea to include apps for every song on Biophillia?

Björk It started in 2008. I wanted to use touch screens…though the iPads weren’t out ’till 2010 or something. But I’d been using touch screens on my Volta tour, but more just to perform on stage. When I started doing Biophillia, I was very determined that I wanted to write with [touch screens], not just perform. That’s when I started to map out, to visualize. I had to decide, what did I want to hear on the touch screen when I’m writing this song. That sent me back to my own music education as a child, when I felt the way they explained scales and rhythms and those basic musicology themes, was way too academic. It was like reading a book to learn to dance.

Music is something that doesn’t work that well in the written word, you know? Especially not explaining to kids. So I started making my own map…this is how I would I like to have scales and this is how I would like to have chords and this is how I would like to have arpeggios and this is how I would like to have counterpoint, and so on. This project became naturally educational. I was kind of like, repairing my own education. I was trying to cover what I thought was lacking when I was in music school. In that way, I was able to share it.

We [created] a different program for each song. For example, one song would feature arpeggios, and then I would pick an actual element that would be the simplest way for a kid to understand what an arpeggio is, to visualize it. So we took a pendulum to explain counterpoint, a little bit like how church bells swing back and forth, and that’s like a bass line that swings.

I wrote 10 songs and we did different programs for each song, and it came together using natural elements. For example, one song is called is called “Crystalline” and there are crystals kind of growing as the song changes.

In 2010, when we were programming this and were kind of almost done, the iPad arrived, so we were like, ‘wow!’ It’d be silly just to record these songs and put them on a CD because we’d already written all these programs, we might as well share the programs, and put them with some more poetic, natural things — the moons, the tides, things like this. It was a very gradual thing.

SFBG And now it’s been brought in to educate children at schools throughout Iceland, but also there are related events where you’re touring, as well?

Björk It differs from city to city. So far it’s been in Manchester, Iceland, New York, Buenos Aires, and Paris, and now it’s going to be in California. Some places, like for example, New York Library and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, took on the curriculum for a few months, and the middle school of Reykjavik, the 10 to 12-year-olds, they have it now in their curriculum for the next three years. It’s looking like it’s going to go to more countries. It sort of keeps growing.

SFBG It seems like you’ve long been ahead of the curve, as far as creating music with new technology, is that something you grew up with as well?

Björk I’m actually really bad with technology. I think that’s why I’m so excited about, for example, the touch screen, because it’s like I waited until technology caught up with me, for it to be simple enough. You have your imagination, and whatever helps you express yourself, I’m all for it, if it’s the violin or piano or singing. Or what has been really helpful for me, since I started doing my own solo albums, the computer has made me a lot more self-sufficient. I guess that comes from being in bands for 10 years, where things are more democratic. It was always drums and bass and keyboards and guitars in every single song [laughs], which is great. But then when I started doing my own album, I was like a kid in a toy shop, I wanted to have every single noise. And this is great, using the computers to do this yourself. It’s quite empowering, especially for a girl. You don’t have to go through this whole hierarchy of whatever, you can just be self-sufficient.

SFBG Some of your early groups were punk bands [Tappi Tíkarrass, and KUKL, which toured with Crass], I was wondering how you discovered punk as a teen, and ended up working with Crass?

Björk I was hanging out with kids that were older than me, like the other guy who used to sing in the Sugarcubes and another guy who was friends with Crass. They played our country, and then we would go and visit them at their farm [Dial House in Essex], and for me what was most important was that one of the bands that was on Crass’ label, a band called Flux of Pink Indians, had a bass player called Derek Birkett and he helped the Sugarcubes release their first album, just from his bedroom. And he’s my manager still today. So I’ve worked with him for like, 30 years now.

It’s pretty much DIY, especially now when the labels are not really functional like they used to be. It’s pretty much just three of us that do most of my stuff.

SFBG Do you have any other long-term goals with Biophillia, or are you working on your next project?

Björk I think I will be doing that on the side, but when it comes to writing my own stuff, I always like the first couple of years to be kind of mysterious. It’s important to play around in the dark, blind-folded, not really knowing what you’re doing. Biophillia was very much like that the first two years, it was very intuitive and impulsive and having no idea what would come out of it. And I’m at that stage with my next album. I really enjoy that. As much as it’s rewarding when [an album] first sees the daylight, I think I even enjoy more the first half of the process, when it’s all still a mystery.

SFBG Were you living in New York during the early playing stage of Biophillia? It seems to have a real connection to natural elements, and science, so I assumed you were in Iceland?

Björk I’ve been living half the year in New York and half in Iceland. I think Biophillia addresses my life in Iceland and the financial crises in a direct way because it’s sort of very DIY. And one of my first dreams was that Biophillia would be a music house and each room would be a song — eventually these rooms became the apps. But it might be that we would be able to go back and make a musical house in Iceland that would serves also as a children’s’ museum and we would use one of the buildings that got kind of half-built in the financial crises and create jobs that way.

But also Biophillia is also about urban areas, because you could stay connected with the moon through your iPad, or to nature and natural structures with your phone.

SFBG My time is almost up but may I ask a few of your favorite things? Like your favorite songs currently, or music that’s helping inspire you creatively now?

Björk At the moment I’ve been listening to the new James Blake album a lot. These things change all the time!

SFBG Favorite mythological story or creature?

Björk I like Icelandic mythology, there’s a lot of amazing tales there.

SFBG And a favorite tour snack?

Björk Um, I like berries.

SFBG Any kind in particular?

Björk Mmmm, no, I like all of them.


Wed/22, Sat/25, Tue/28, 8:30pm, $75

Craneway Pavilion

1414 Harbour Way, Richmond


Let’s dance



FILM Noah Baumbach isn’t exactly known for romance and bright-eyed optimism. Co-writing 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox with director Wes Anderson is maybe the closest to “whimsy” as he’s ever come; his own features (2010’s Greenberg, 2007’s Margot at the Wedding, 2005’s The Squid and the Whale, 1997’s Mr. Jealousy, and 1995’s Kicking and Screaming) tend to veer into grumpier, more intellectual realms. You might say his films are an acquired taste. Actual declaration overheard at this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival: “Am I going to see Frances Ha? Ugh, no. I can’t stand Noah Baumbach.”

Haters beware. Frances Ha — the black-and-white tale of a New York City hipster (Baumbach’s real-life squeeze, Greta Gerwig) blundering her way into adulthood — is probably the least Baumbach-ian Baumbach movie ever. Owing stylistic debts to both vintage Woody Allen and the French New Wave, Frances Ha relies heavily on Gerwig’s adorable-disaster title character to propel its plot, which is little more than a timeline of Frances’ neverending micro-adventures: pursuing her nascent modern-dance career, bouncing from address to address, taking an impromptu trip to Paris, visiting her parents (portrayed by the Sacramento-raised Gerwig’s real-life parents), “breaking up” with her best friend. It’s charming, poignant, it’s quotable (“Don’t treat me like a three-hour brunch friend!”), and even those who claim to be allergic to Baumbach just might find themselves succumbing to it.

Frances Ha marks the second film to feature a dance subplot for Gerwig, after Whit Stillman’s 2011 Damsels in Distress. (She also appeared in Greenberg but is probably best-known for her mumblecore oeuvre: 2008’s Baghead; 2007’s Hannah Takes the Stairs.)

“I love dancing,” she admitted on a SFIFF-timed visit to San Francisco. “I was never a professional, but I danced a lot growing up and I still go to dance class whenever I can. I don’t think there’s enough dancing in movies.”

Like Frances, she studied modern dance in college. “I did this kind of modern dance called release technique. A big component of it is learning how to fall. It’s connected to bouncing back from the ground, or giving into the ground — letting everything flow. It’s a beautiful way to dance, and the dance company that [Frances] wants to be a part of, that’s the kind of dance that they do,” she said. “I also thought it was this incredible metaphor for life: learning how to fall, because you’re going to. At first, as you’re learning how to do it, you get terribly banged up — and then at some point you just are falling and it’s not hurting you anymore.”

Though much of Frances Ha, which was co-scripted by Baumbach and Gerwig, is about its protagonist’s various relationship struggles, there’s another less-expected theme: class warfare (a mild version of it, anyway). Frances scrambles to pay her $1200 rent — previously, she’s seen paying $950 a month to sleep on a couch — while her housemate, who comes from a wealthy family and spends his days noodling on spec scripts, casually mentions the necessity of hiring a maid service. You know, for, “like, 400 bucks a month.”

“We didn’t set out to make a movie about class, specifically,” Gerwig noted. “But I think typically Americans have a lot of trouble talking about class, or even acknowledging that it exists. It operates on a really subtle level. You get out of college and you suddenly realize that some people are paying off loans, and some people aren’t. It can be hard to talk about. I’m very inspired by Mike Leigh’s movies, where it’s always there in the background. I felt like I wanted to have it in the movie, and Noah felt the same way, too.”

Later that day, Baumbach elaborated on the same thought. “Economics were really going to influence a lot of what Frances does, because the movie was structured by finding a home, lack of a home, constant movement,” he said. “Her economic reality had to be a huge component of her story.”

Frances Ha captures twentysomething ennui with the same honesty Baumbach deployed in Kicking and Screaming, though there are some key differences: the Kicking and Screaming guys were mere months post-graduation, while Frances, who is 27, is more removed from college — whether she wants to admit it or not. “It didn’t feel like the exact same territory, but I was aware that it was kind of addressing some of the stuff that I was addressing back then,” Baumbach said. (Not coincidental, one presumes, is the cameo in Frances Ha by Kicking and Screaming star Josh Hamilton.)   

Though he won’t cop to naming his main character after, um, France, Baumbach does admit that the country’s films (he points specifically to works by Truffaut, Rohmer, and Carax) have had a strong influence on him as a director, and on Frances Ha in particular.

“I think [for these filmmakers], the joy of making the movie is somehow evident in the movie itself,” he said. “Sometimes, that can be annoying! But the rush you get from it, you can just feel, like, the pleasure of movies. With Frances Ha, I wanted to push that, and do things like have her run down the street [while David Bowie’s ‘Modern Love’ plays on the soundtrack]. Just go for it, because the movie really could hold it. I think a lot of [the films that inspired me] have that. And because a lot of the music is borrowed from those movies, it feels even more like a clear connection.”

FRANCES HA opens Fri/24 in Bay Area theaters





SUPER EGO What good is freedom if we don’t toss a wig on it?


The incredibly fun, superfriendly gay party is back, now monthly at DNA Lounge — bigger diggs, hotter hotness, giant bass, and, best of all, more fags. Also: Prince of NYC house Quentin Harris (my favorite producer of the ’00s) and DJ David Harness to set the spirits of the dancefloor aflame.

Fri/24, 10pm-very late, $10 before midnight. DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., SF. www.dnalounge.com


“Put on the weirdest shit you can find in your costume box. Regardless, come dance your ass off!” says party host Broke-Ass Stuart. Free Ike’s sandwiches and Hey Cookie! cookies, too.

Fri/24, 10pm-2am, $5. Showdown, 10 Sixth St., SF. www.brokeassstuart.com


Canadian duo Azari & III are acid sex. LA hottie Lee Foss is tech house bliss. Legendary Todd Terry is king of cuts. They will all be there at the Lights Down Low seventh anniversary bash. CAN U PARTY?

Sat/25, 9pm-3am, $22. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com


The deep house sage from Greece is doing some serious shit on a spiritual level.

Sat/25, 10pm-4am, $20. Mighty, 119 Utah, SF. www.mighty119.com


A super-rare appearance by the revered Paris groovemaster at the untouchable Stompy + Sunset all-day patio party tradition. He’s backed up by Detroit boy wonder Kyle Hall, who’ll take us somewhere real.

Sun/26, 2pm-2am, $10 before 5pm, $20 after. Cafe Cocomo, 650 Indiana, SF. www.pacificsound.net


One of my favorite deep techno DJs, Move D of Germany, has teamed up with Juju and Jordash, wonderfully oddball Israeli improvisational jazz-house duo, to form this live act. I have a feeling with this much smarts in the room, it’s gonna be amazing. With the As You Like It party crew.

Sun/26, 9pm-4am, $15 before 10pm, $20 after. Monarch, 101 Sixth St., SF. www.monarchsf.com


Annual rock ‘n’ roll fantasy-insanity at Cat Club with bad-ass characters in torn fishnets galore: DJs Jenny and Omar, Lady Bear, Jackie Sugarlumps, Princess Pandora, Carnita, Galene Modmoiselle, Creepy B, Union Jackoff, and a motley crew more.

Sun/26,10pm-3am, $10. 1190 Folsom, SF. www.sfcatclub.com


Treats! The fantastic Panorama Bar resident comes at us with the full force of her gorgeous, hypnotically muscular sound at Honey Soundsystem. Then at 2am, Honey moves down the street to Beatbox, driving into dawn with special secret guests for five dollars.

Sun/26, 10pm, $10. Holy Cow, 1535 Folsom, SF. www.honeysoundsystem.com


For 25 years, dub wizard Ryan Moore of the Netherlands (psychedelic heads know him from Legendary Pink Dots) has blown minds with his reverberating soundscapes, pumping up classic ragga sound with sly wit and smokin’ updates. This is top sound, folks. Sun/26, 9pm-2am, $7–$10. Elbo Room, 647 Valencia, SF. www.dubmission.com



Growth potential



DANCE For all of the hype about the communicative power of social media, the energy that flows from one body to another has yet to be beat. Dancers know that. That’s why they keep searching for new ways to make this silent language speak.

The Garage on Folsom is one place where they do it; the studio is run on a first-come, first-served basis with a compulsory performance component, so a lot of what you will see there is unfinished. Yet the other night, two Finnish-born choreographers presented pieces as refined and polished as anything shown in bigger venues.

Another venue that fosters innovation is Yannis Adoniou’s Kunst-Stoff Arts, above a Burger King across from the San Francisco Main Library. It takes a more focused approach by inviting similarly-minded artists (who don’t care about the occasional whiff of fried food making its way upstairs). The recent opening of Kunst-Stoff Arts Fest 2013 showcased three choreographers who pushed the dancing body to the edge of what seems humanly possible.

But first, back to the Garage — where Raisa Punkki’s punkkiCo world premiere, Other Space, took command. Some lengths could be edited to keep the trajectory better on track. Also, the image of a dancer emerging from a kind of subterranean existence in the shape of a raincoat didn’t ring true. But overall, this quartet (for three women and one man) was finely crafted dance making that explored states of being with a rich, multi-faceted vocabulary and formal controls that allowed for flux and even spontaneity.

Other is designed along the concept of making connections that could be in unison pirouettes or jumbled limbs of labyrinthine complexity. Densely layered encounters gave way to stillness or something as simple as a walk or sitting quietly. The spatial thinking pulsated against the stage’s perimeter, enlarged in a couple of places by mirrors. For the most part the dancing was fierce and full out, yet still had room for small gestures: hands that turned into claws, fists that pushed the dancers into relevé and down again. The idea of balance — and lack thereof — lay below much of Other, sharply brought to life by Jennifer Meek, Sarah Keeney, Meegan Hertensteiner, and Derek Harris.

The Bay Area premiere of Alpo Aaltokoski’s 2004 astounding Deep showed a dancer who seemed to exist simultaneously inside and outside his body. Gaunt with a shaven head, he whipped himself into a tornado, engaged in turns that layered his body horizontally, and stretched his frame beyond his height only to squat again and again. Crawling, he looked pre-human; howling, he became Everyman. At one point, he was on all fours and sucked in his spine to turn his shoulder blades into wings. Yet none of these physical feats were self-serving; there were stories aplenty in them. Mila Moilnan’s subsequent video, based on Deep, felt like an afterthought.

First-week performances at the Kunst-Stoff Arts Fest included three works, two of them in progress, and clearly presented as such. What I saw made me want to follow them because both choreographers seemed to think intriguingly about time.

Christina Bonansea’s Floaters #2, set on identical twin dancers Michaela and Liane Burns with excellent live music by Zachary Watkins, started as an installation in the basement. At first resembling statues of saints, the silver-gowned women came to life, slithering and scraping. Upstairs, they ripped into waves of frenzy that threatened to tear them inside out.

For Portraiture, the forbiddingly prodigious Lindsey Renee Derry, as much a gymnast as a dancer, assembled a linear structure from thematically distinct solos that ranged from lyrical to ferocious. In the future, she wants to extend this trajectory by inviting other choreographers, perhaps to evoke something like Andy Goldsworthy’s Wood Line installation in the Presidio.

Adoniou and the gorgeous Constantine Baecher, a former Royal Danish Ballet dancer, paired up for The Excruciating Death of St. Sebastian. One is dark and older, the other blond and tall, so the tracing of their relationship started on a note of difference. Their give and take began intertwined, as if they were asleep, and grew into teasing and tenderness, shot through with exploration and exuberance. Finally, with the help of a cane, the piece moved into darker territory. My tolerance for watching pain — real or pretend, received or given — is just about zero. Still, this was fine work. 


Through June 7, most events $10-$15

Kunst-Stoff Arts

One Grove, SF



May 31-July 3 (various curated events)


715 Bryant, SF


Visit queerculturalcenter.org/NQAF for NQAF events at different venues.



Every point on the map (click here for the detailed, interactive version) is a building where the landlord has used the state’s Ellis Act to evict all the tenants. (The points typically involve multi-unit buildings, so the number of tenants displaced is even worst than it looks). Some tenants have been here for decades, living in rent-controlled apartments, contributing to the community. And when the eviction notice arrives, they have nowhere else to go.


It feels as if all of crazy, radical, artistic, and unconventional San Francisco is under attack, as if a city that once welcomed waves of weirdos and malcontents — who, in turn, gave the city its attractive reputation and flavor — is changing forever. It’s as if there’s no longer any room for the working class — the people who, for example, keep the city’s number one industry (that’s hospitality and tourism, not tech) functioning.

It’s terrifying. Neighborhood after neighborhood is losing affordable rental housing as landlords cash in on soaring prices. And there’s a huge human cost.

In the end, if trends continue, this will soon be a very different city. We all know that change is part of life (and certainly part of hyper-capitalism) but the notion that there’s a value to a city culture that needs low rent housing and cheap commercial space has been all-but abandoned by the administration of Ed Lee, which wants high-paying jobs at all costs.

And it’s hard to imagine how the best of San Francisco — the city whose culture and sense of madness attracted all these creative folks in the first place — will ever survive. Call it Urbicide — because as Rebecca Bowe reports here, it goes way beyond residential evictions.

Fire fight



IN THE GAME In a pink dress, with a pink hair tie and those little pink sneakers that light up every time you take a step, she dominated the Alameda High School hardwood. I’m going to guess she was three. How else to explain the dogged determination with which, time after time after time, she took aim at the far-away hoop, and with all her cute-little-cutey-pie might heaved the basketball to a point about a foot-and-a-half in front of her feet. Bounce, plop, and roll …

All around her, Alameda police and fire fighters were shooting jumpers, warming up for the second half of their game, entirely unfazed by li’l Pinkie, or any of the other children who had swarmed the court during the halftime raffle — and weren’t in any hurry to give it back to the grownups.

Pinkie took her shots from the top of the key. From the lane. From the foul line. She shot for two, and she shot for three, and though she never really managed to propel the ball more than a couple feet away from her self, she was on fire.

One jumper went about six inches in the air before coming back down and landing on her nose. But not even this could dampen her spirits. With a huge smile, and the forever blinking shoes, she went right back to work.

I want this! Not the child — although I’d take one — but the attitude. Yeah: there’s a thing I can’t possibly do but it sure is fun to try! . . . Maybe I’ll start a novel. Learn a new instrument, or language. Or, for that matter, basketball! A sport which has always eluded me. Because I am small, I have always said. But Pinkie changes everything.

I wonder if she’s had ACL surgery. Probably not. She’s three. But I’ll bet she would . . .

In one week I’ll be 50. My second-half goal is to do like her.

It took more than the ref’s whistle to clear the floor for the second half. Moms and dads had to come scoop up their kids. And I missed them, because the third quarter was sluggish.

Carl Rolleri, police officer, who had hit five of five three-pointers in the first half, came down to Earth and missed a shot. Jill Ottaviano, the game’s only female player, who had scored the first two points for the police, was on the bench. The fire department seemed a little burnt out. I speak from experience: half time will do that to you.

The score, 31-20 after two quarters, was only 37-26 at the end of the third. Not that it mattered who was winning — this was Alameda’s police and fire departments raising money for a whole slew of children’s programs — but the police were winning. Soundly, and from the get-go.

They had a mascot, an adorable pet pig named Charlie in a police hat and a fake mustache, who had been walked out onto the court before tip-off, and spent the rest of the game in a baby stroller, tormented by children.

They had a chant: “Let’s go pigs! Let’s go pigs!” . . .

They had a guy in a wig and one with hearts on his socks, and they had the game’s only woman.

But I was rooting for the fire fighters, because they had a boy cheerleader. And, for my money, that’s even braver than the many awesome picks I saw Ottaviano set against guys twice her weight.

The Alameda High Hornets cheerleaders cheered on the fire department, and the Jets from Encinal High cheered on the police. The Encinal squad had a couple of acrobats who went flipping across the court once or twice during breaks. Which seemed even more impressive later, when I overheard one of them tell the woman sitting next to me, “We have bad stomachaches from the sushi.”

Anyway, the game got interesting again in the fourth quarter. The fire department pulled to within two. (They might have tied it, but I think the scoreboard operator was just confused.)

It was 42-39, police, with two minutes left. What a comeback!

But, like the Celtics facing elimination against the Knicks earlier that Saturday afternoon, the Alameda Fire Department came on strong and came up short: 44-40 was the final.

We went and talked to Charlie the pig a little bit, but it wasn’t a post-game interview per se. Her owner, a friend of a police, was trying to redirect would-be petters away from the poor pig’s face.

“Pet him back here, sweetie,” she said to one of these children, explaining to me that the smell of cotton candy and such all over all the kids’ hands was “starting to confuse him.”

Who I really wanted to talk to was the little girl, Pinkie — but it was way past her bed time.