Volume 47 Number 42

Trayvon Martin: Guns escalate conflicts

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OPINION The tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s death is not merely the loss an innocent young boy’s life, nor the criminal justice system’s failure to provide justice, though those are wounds we struggle to bear. The tragedy is that these wounds are not unique. We have felt this pain before. Trayvon is but one of thousands of young African American men who have lost their lives to gun violence. And George Zimmerman’s acquittal represents the dismissive attitude our country seems to have about those lives.

People from all walks of life are angry about Trayvon’s death and George Zimmerman’s acquittal. Our anger in the face of such tragedy is understandable. I share it. But I also believe that even in our darkest hours, there is hope. There is something to be learned here.

Let this be the start of a greater debate on gun laws, racism, and our national climate of fear for our own personal safety and the safety of our children.

We have to do something about the prevalence of guns in our society. If not for the introduction of a gun into the situation, Mr. Zimmerman likely would have been beaten up—something he probably deserved—and that would have been the end of it. His firearm needlessly escalated the situation far beyond where it needed to go.

This case is a very real example of a nation that puts someone’s right to carry a handgun over someone’s right to not be pointlessly murdered. Let me add my voice to the multitudes calling for greater firearm accountability.

And why did the situation that night begin in the first place? “Neighborhood Watch” means “watch” and “report suspicious activity,” not “chase” or “pursue.” What is so suspicious about walking, wearing a hoodie, and talking on a cell phone? Nothing. Unless you are black.

Although the African American community is, sadly, used to being profiled, used to grieving the loss of our young boys and men to gun violence, Trayvon’s case has opened the eyes of others who are finally as outraged as we are. For the first time, I feel that something has changed. The outpouring of support from non-African Americans for Trayvon Martin and his family has given me hope that our cries for boys and men in our community are finally being heard.

Anger is a great motivator. And progress is often borne from tragedy. I hope for the African American community and for our country that this tragedy is more than just a passing media spectacle. I hope it’s the beginning of something meaningful, a reevaluation of gun laws, of the violence young black men face every day, and of the way we empower our communities.

London Breed represents the Western Addition and the Haight on the Board of Supervisors

 

Trayvon Martin: Can it happen here?

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OPINION Like many others I have been captivated by the proceedings in the Trayvon Martin case. Personally, and as a member of the Board of Supervisors, it has inspired disappointment, outrage, frustration, and more questions about our criminal justice system than I have answers. But more than anything else this case prompts me to ask: Can this happen here?

However you feel about this particular case, we all like to think that in San Francisco we are more advanced than the rest of the country, and in most ways we are. From our Sanctuary City to our community policing strategies, we have always been conscious about race in our criminal justice system and City policies.

The neighborhoods I represent have 33 percent of the City’s African American population, more than any other area of our City, and we also have the highest concentration of young people, nearly 23 percent. More than half of the individuals who are incarcerated in San Francisco are African American and last year District 10 had the City’s highest number of youth on probation.

Regardless of their ethnicity, residents of areas that experience public safety challenges have a heightened sense of awareness or tension about what goes on in their neighborhoods. Unfortunately, sometimes seeing a young African American man is a trigger. It is a trigger to walk faster, be more alert, notify neighbors, or even call the police to report suspicious behavior.

This is the exact tension that a year ago led Mayor Lee to discuss implementing a version of New York City’s controversial Stop and Frisk Policy. Under this policy, each year police officers stop hundreds of law abiding citizens, the vast majority of which are African American, Latino, and young men on the suspicion that they may be engaging in illegal behavior. I was proud to join with many residents, faith leaders, and even our Police Chief in outlining more productive ways that we can interrupt violent behavior without instituting a policy based on racial profiling.

Thankfully, Stop and Frisk was never implemented in San Francisco, but the debate we had about it demonstrated that we still struggle with the role race plays in our criminal justice system and crime in our neighborhoods.

This verdict serves as a call to action for all of us that if we don’t want a similar tragedy to occur here, we must continue to do what San Francisco has always done best — lead the way. I will continue to push our City to have open dialogues about race in all of our public safety policies. I have spent the last year and will continue to do everything possible to strengthen our City’s regulations on gun control and work collaboratively with all of our communities to develop real solutions to violence that are rooted in protecting and supporting our neighborhoods instead of racial profiling.

Malia Cohen represents southeast San Francisco on the Board of Supervisors.

Volume 47 Number 42 Flip-through Edition

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Labors of love

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER A white passenger van pulls to the curb in a Santa Rosa neighborhood, discharging a group of Latino men and women at the door of a converted warehouse. The visitors vary by age, class, and education. All hail from Mexico or Central America, but more recently Los Angeles, where they’re among the city’s thousands of jornaleros, or day laborers, making their way job by job, often without secure documentation or security of any kind.

Standing beside the warehouse on this quiet street, they could be mistaken for an ad hoc work crew. But the warehouse is a theater, and this sunny afternoon in June is the culmination of a precious week off. Not that these men and women aren’t here in Santa Rosa to work — just this time, it’s on a play.

Brent Lindsay and Amy Pinto, artistic directors of the Imaginists, greet the visitors as they collect outside the theater and saunter in, joining other members and friends of the Santa Rosa company. It’s the final day of a weeklong artistic exchange between the Imaginists and Teatro Jornalero Sin Fronteras (Day Laborer Theater Without Borders), a Los Angeles–based Spanish-language ensemble theater created by and for the immigrant day laborer population. The ten-member troupe, founded in 2008 under the umbrella of LA’s Cornerstone Theater and led by co–artistic directors Juan José Mangandi and Lorena Moran, has created 15 short plays that they perform mostly at day laborer centers across Los Angeles — although last year saw TJSF tour both Northern California and El Salvador. The plays examine everything from the legal and human rights of immigrant workers to the transnational cultures migrant workers share and foster.

After a light breakfast of coffee and pan dulce, the two companies gather in a circle for warm up exercises led by both Lindsay and Moran. Then they all get back to work on a playlet they’ve been developing from improvisations. It begins with two workers who alternately pay off and slip by a snoozing guard (played by Imaginists company member Eliot Fintushel) to dump toxic waste into a nearby stream. When this causes an environmental disaster, a government spokesperson (Pinto) assures people in the audience that their organic produce is safe. Meanwhile, a cleanup crew of migrant workers is slowly poisoned to death. A news team rushes to the scene of the eco-disaster, but seems to take no notice of the brown bodies sprawled over it. Left alone onstage, the workers rise as ghosts — beginning with one who sings, “They’re carrying me off to the cemetery. Don’t anyone cry for me. Just sing my favorite song…” — and one by one exit the stage.

Throughout, Lindsay directs from a chair audience-side, giving advice or suggestions. All, however, are welcome to chime in with comments and do. An elderly woman named Adela Palacios, for instance, suggests that before departing the stage each ghost can simply state their name and what they did for a living, a suggestion readily embraced by all. Soon the form of the scene has a solid arc, and a tone that makes a virtue of the mix of amateur and professional actors. Combining slapstick, winking asides, an eerie sense of tragedy, and a moving use of direct address, it’s a surprisingly affecting bit of work.

“We come to the theater as older people,” explains Moran. “But we feel we’ve found a company [in the Imaginists] like us. We share the same path.” A native of Guatemala who worked in business administration before fleeing domestic abuse and the country, Moran (translated by Gustavo Servin of the Imaginists) speaks eloquently about the company she joined five years ago amid a dangerous working life both foreign and alienating to her. She acknowledges frankly, “Theater saved my life.”

TJSF is currently developing its first full-length play, Caminos al Paraíso (Paths to Paradise), written by Mangandi and directed by Moran. This exchange in Santa Rosa, made possible by a grant from the Network of Ensemble Theaters, has offered TJSF members the opportunity to learn important technical aspects of crafting a full evening’s production from their more experienced colleagues. At the same time, it’s offered the Imaginists, which has grown into a bilingual company since rooting itself in Santa Rosa, a chance to advance its own mission through contact with a deeply community-driven Latino theater. But neither motive really captures the personal ties and mutual respect that have been forming here, the subtle and profound reciprocity of influence, and the solidarity emerging from it all.

“TJSF is a brave, important theater company that is telling stories that we don’t usually hear,” reflected Pinto by email. “Coming together for a week, we were able to strengthen our own resolve to tell these stories, not to be afraid of being deemed ‘political.’ For the Latino members of the Imaginists, the exchange was a catalyst to be empowered by their histories and stories. This exchange reinforced how necessary it is to have comrades, to share experiences and methods, to have a network of support throughout the country for this work.”

The Imaginists plan to travel to Los Angeles for another face-to-face meeting with TJSF over next steps. Together they hope to develop something that can tour to labor centers across the country.

In the meantime, inspired by the exchange, the Imaginists are concocting a new play, based on a famous children’s story, which will address the plight of undocumented people. Working title: REAL. *

For an extended version of this story, visit www.sfbg.com/pixel_vision.

 

My stars!

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culture@sfbg.com

PSYCHIC DREAM This month marks 10 happy years of predicting your weeks ahead through the magic and wisdom of astrology, with my weekly Psychic Dream horoscopes. These 10 years have been so much fun — thank you, my beloved stargazers (and naysayers!). In honor of this decade of Psychic Dream, we solicited questions from readers across the zodiac about the fine art of astrology and the intuitive work I do. Below are my answers. XO, Jessica.

Q What’s the Guardian’s sign? 

Jessica Lanyadoo An intense and taboo breaking Scorpio, of course!

Q In terms of compatibility, does astrological compatibility differ for same-sex couples? If I’m looking at my partner and my charts, where should I look for compatibility? 

JL In traditional astrology we often see traditional thinking about gender and sexuality. Unfortunately, most astrological texts are written not only for heterosexual couples, but also for people who conform to stereotypical gender norms and relationship styles. This often leaves homos, poly folks, and anyone of any sexual orientation who doesn’t fit into classic gender roles straining to find themselves reflected in astrological relationship readings.

Compatibility doesn’t differ for same sex couples, but relationship dynamics, values, and expectations can. People are just energy, and astrology gives voice to the ways that our energies run, and the most effective ways to use them, regardless of where we fall on the sexuality spectrum.

So this next part applies to all relationships. What I look for in relationship compatibility is a couple of things. After making sure that the people involved’s moons are well aspected so that they both feel safe and loved, I like to look for some healthy friction in a chart. We need difference in order to have sustained attraction and be interested in a person, so one shouldn’t be scared away by predictions of conflict. Some of the most successful relationship charts I have seen are riddled with strife! The key is to make sure that whatever problems you see challenge you to become a better, more whole person instead of ones that replay your old patterns. Don’t get too hung up on whether or not your Sun signs are supposed to be well matched; we are more than the sum of our Sun signs. Remember, easy is not the same as compatible.

Q How can I make “Virgo” sound sexier to people? 

JL One of the worst things that people do in astrology is pathologize others with it. Stereotyping sucks!

Virgo does sound sexy to people, but only people who are excited by smart, contemplative, and complex lovers. All 12 signs of the zodiac are sexy in their own way, but if you don’t werque what you’ve got then you’re not using your natural goods to their full potential. Be unapologetic about the sign you are, and trust that whether your spirit animal is Grumpy Cat, K.I.T.T. the talking car, or the Eiffel Tower, there is someone out there who’s astrologically perfect for you.

Q How can you spin the negative or challenging traits of your sign into something good? For example, manipulation for Scorpio, fickleness for Sagittarius, etc. 

JL Luckily, every sign has its bad and good traits, no spin necessary.

Most bad traits of your astrological sign are only positive qualities that are out of balance. For instance, we know that Sagittarius can be a know-it-all, but that’s just an over-exaggerated expression of Sag’s awesome enthusiasm and truth-seeking nature. Cancers can be clingy, but that’s just the fear-based side of their gift of being able to experience their needs and feelings genuinely. If we stop thinking about the signs as good or bad, and start seeking balance in our nature, whatever our natures are, then we tend to thrive. A simple concept, but not an easy task to fulfill.

Q In addition to astrology, tarot, and speaking to the dead, you say you work by intuition. What can you tell about someone when they walk in the room? 

JL I get asked this a lot. I try not to know anything about people when they walk in the room because it’s creepy when intuitive people psychically peep on others. I’m committed to respecting others’ privacy as much as I can. Also, when I’m not working, I don’t want to be overwhelmed by other peoples’ personal issues.

The most common misconceptions people have about psychics are that we can read your mind or are Hollywood style fortune-tellers. Your psyche and your life are not like a movie with a well-defined plot line and a beginning, middle, and end. Life is a complex choose-your-own-adventure story, a “Where’s Waldo” of happiness, success, and health. Psychics and astrologers can’t know all things at once about a person or their life because it’s all too complex and constantly shifting.

We all have agency in our lives, and with effort and time we can change just about anything, including the path we’re walking on right now.

Q Hi Jessica. Hope you are doing well. I have a question for your anniversary column. Can you see in someone’s chart when/how they are going to die — or even any possibilities or hints? 

JL Another commonly asked question! I always have the same thought when someone asks me this: why in the world would you want to know how or when you’re going to die? How can this information help you, and what if it’s wrong? We all die, and we generally don’t get to control the when and where of it, so as an astrologer and a counselor I never predict death.

What I do look for is how to maximize your quality of life while you’re here, how to make good choices that promote the highest quality of life possible, for the long haul. I believe that living well trumps having a solid When-Am-I-Gonna-Die theory any day. As a medical astrologer and medical intuitive, I am interested in investigating health issues and tendencies, but only inasmuch as it’s constructive.

Q Can you say without a doubt, after 10 years, that astrology “works” as a predictive science? 

JL I’ve been working as a professional astrologer for 18 years now and I can say authoritatively that, yes, astrology works!

Nothing is foolproof though; I believe that medical science works too, but I don’t know a single person who hasn’t been misdiagnosed or mistreated by it on occasion. No system or practitioner works effectively all of the time, or for all of the people, and no system should be used without discernment.

Many people throw away the wisdom of astrology and call it quackery without investigation. Many people follow it blindly. Neither approach is wise. Astrology is not a religion or a belief system. It is a valuable process of divination that when used by a trained and experienced professional can profoundly help people.

I no more encourage a person to make decisions about medicine by reading WebMD than I do by reading a random astrology website. Always consult a professional if you want accurate, high quality astrology information, folks!

 

 

NUDE BEACHES 2013

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culture@sfbg.com

Below you’ll find our annual update on the state of nude beaches in Northern California, along with detailed guides and directions to some of our favorites. For details on dozens more, please see our complete Nude Beach Guide at www.sfbg.com/nudebeaches, which we are in the process of updating.

While researching clothing-optional beaches in Jamaica in November, my girlfriend and I noticed that native Jamaicans don’t think anything of stripping down to their underwear to take a dip in a waterfall on a hot day — our driver did just that near one of the nation’s biggest cities, Ocho Rios — while visiting tourists can go topless or nude with hardly a complaint on Negril’s seven-mile long shoreline of shimmering white sand, at the west end of the country.

It made me wonder, what if the same tolerance existed here, where each beach has its own traditions and its own set of rules? Sometimes, it takes as little as a person moving some sand or staying after sunset to annoy our cops. In Jamaica and many other parts of the world, that would never happen.

For example, law enforcement actions recently hit two Bay Area nude beaches — Marin’s Red Rock and Steep Ravine — while most access to a third site, fan favorite Muir, near Stinson Beach, has been closed by authorities until November.

The good news: visits by rangers to both skinny dipping coves mentioned above have died back, while anti-nudity patrols at Monterey’s Garrapata Beach, which erupted in 2011, have been discontinued. And the Guardian is publishing three “secret” alternate ways that die-hard visitors can use to reach the nude section of gorgeous Muir Beach.

Red Rock was rocked by a ranger who reportedly used a crowbar to remove part of a sunbathing “terrace” that beach regulars had built by moving sand to create more “towel space.” He also cited two male beachgoers for violating Title 14, Section 4307, of the California Code Of Regulations, which bans removal of “earth” or “sand” from state parks.

The men are appealing their penalties, while their friends at the beach are asking for donations to pay for their legal fees. “We’re going to take up a collection,” says Stinson Beach attorney-teacher Fred Jaggi.

The ranger’s boss, Bill Lutton, a state parks superintendent for the Marin area who visited the beach after the busts, told us that “altering” and “changing the features” of the beach is a serious offense. “We consider ourselves the guardians of seven generations of users of California’s park system,” he says, “so we must protect the parks’ cultural and natural resources.”

Meanwhile, instead of being charged with destroying park property, several people at nearby Steep Ravine Beach, which is open from 7am until dusk, were cited last fall for soaking in its dangerous-to-reach nude hot springs after sunset by the same ranger who raided Red Rock. “A guy was handcuffed after mouthing off to the ranger, so he really deserved it,” says former springs frequent visitor Michael Velkoff, of Lucas Valley. “He almost took a girl away too.”

Citing “safety and lack of lighting” concerns, Lutton says the after-dark curfew at rock-strewn Steep Ravine, where numerous users have slipped and sustained cuts, bruises, and other injuries, “will be strictly enforced.”

And at Muir Beach, which is used by nudists as a gateway to a nude beach that begins on its north end, visiting hours have been officially eliminated until November 15, while crews improve its parking, toilets, and watershed.

“Don’t even think about visiting the beach,” urges Golden Gate National Recreation Area public affairs specialist Alexandra Picavet, who points out that users won’t have access to the beach, ocean, parking, restrooms, or garbage cans. “Find a new experience — the Bay Area has plenty — to try this summer and then you’ll really appreciate Muir Beach when it reopens.”

Because the main portion of Muir is blocked by fencing and being patrolled by rangers, anyone trying to reach Little Beach, as the nude area next to Muir is also known, will have to hike anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours to reach the shore and then continue walking to the naked area. Picavet says that if you stop for any length of time in front of the non-nude part of Muir, even to stand and admire the view or take a dip in the water, you’ll be cited.

While cops are tightening the use of beaches in Marin, they’re relaxing their hold in Monterey County. In fact, nudists at Garrapata Beach, close to Carmel, have something to celebrate: “nudie” patrols by rangers have ended, in part because the state ran out of money to fund them and because not a single complaint has been received in 2013.

“We’ve been complaint free,” says Sean James, who became acting state parks superintendent for the area in April and appears to be fairly tolerant of naturists. “I don’t see how just being nude would be threatening.”

Please be careful at our beaches. Two women in their 30s died June 30 after they were swept into the ocean by a wave near another popular nude beach, Bonny Doon. They were with two men when the wave swept the foursome into the water. The two men were rescued by a Coast guard helicopter after being stranded on some rocks and surrounded by a rising tide.

Of course, you don’t have to go to the sea to be nude. Our listings include naked lakes, rivers, waterfalls, reservoirs, and at least one meadow. Or how about hiking while wearing only your birthday suit? Au naturel “Full Moon Hikes” have been happening for several years. But the world’s first-ever “Supermoon Nude Hike” (named after a new or full moon which occurs with the moon within 90 percent of its closest approach to Earth) took place right here in the Bay Area the night before the brightest moon of 2013.

“I’ll never forget the hike,” said Raj, one of the walkers, after making the trek in the East Bay Hills, near Castro Valley, June 22. “I will think of it every time I see a full moon.”

Agrees Dave Smith, of San Leandro, who led it: “It was spectacular — one of the greatest hikes ever. Keep in mind we did it in moonlight, while even having to scramble on all fours down some rocks. I felt like Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit.”

Want to join in the fun? More “Full Moon Hikes” will take place July 20 and August 18 (see our online listings below for Las Trampas in Contra Costa County).

Another idea to meet and socialize with fellow naturists: drop by Santa Cruz’s Bonny Doon Beach on September 21 or Lake Tahoe’s Secret Harbor Creek Beach on June 7, 2014, when visitors will be getting together to keep them clean by finding and removing trash.

Finally, you can help beachgoers and the naturist community by sending me your new beach discoveries, trip reports, and improved directions (especially road milepost numbers), along with your phone number to garhan@aol.com or Gary Hanauer, c/o San Francisco Bay Guardian, 71 Stevenson, 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105.

Our ratings: “A” signifies a beach that is large or well-established and where the crowd is mostly nude; “B” indicates places where fewer than half the visitors are nude; “C” means small or emerging nude areas; and “D” depicts spots that are in use, but not recommended.

SAN FRANCISCO

NORTH BAKER BEACH, SAN FRANCISCO

RATING: A

North Baker’s neo-hippie revival is continuing for a third straight season, with more art work springing up on the USA’s largest urban nude beach. Guitar- and drum-playing was added to the scene last year. This summer, a second so-called “art tree” made of driftwood and festooned with seaweed has appeared. “I call it the Sea Hag,” says Santosh, an organizer of alternative activities at the beach who also produces San Francisco’s annual How Weird Street Faire. “Anybody can add things to it. They bring mementos, flowers, anything you can think of. I tend it, but it attracts a life of its own. Several tourists per day usually drop by. One child looked up at the things dangling from it and asked, ‘Is it some kind of voodoo?'” Baker’s own “beach language” is also evolving. Last year, “duney,” which describes the site’s tent-like, shade-providing structures without walls, and “Baker Day” (when the sun’s out and it’s not too windy) came into usage. “Now, we’ve added ‘rock block’ and ‘cosmic volleyball,'” adds Santosh, who describes the former as any stretch of three Baker Days in a row, while cosmic volleyball allows visitors “to keep playing, even if the ball bounces off one of our driftwood poles.”

Directions: Take the 29 Sunset bus or go north on 25th Avenue to Lincoln Boulevard. Turn right and take the second left onto Bowley Street. Follow Bowley to Gibson Road, turn right, and follow Gibson to the east parking lot. At the beach, head right to the nude area, which starts at the brown and yellow “Hazardous surf, undertow, swim at your own risk” sign. Some motorcycles in the lot have been vandalized, possibly by car owners angered by bikers parking in car spaces; to avoid trouble, motorcyclists should park in the motorcycle area near the cyclone fence. Parking at Lincoln’s 100 or more nearby parking spaces was limited to two hours recently. But through June, there had been no reports of cops actually writing tickets for parking too long.

LAND’S END BEACH, SAN FRANCISCO

RATING: A

One of the better locales in the Bay Area to enjoy a little naked sunning without many people present, a visit to the little cove off Geary Boulevard known as Land’s End may make your worries melt away, at least during a quiet afternoon. Cops only occasionally visit it. But don’t be shocked if you see more clothed visitors than nudists — many locals and tourists who wander down to the sand don’t realize it’s a clothing-optional beach. Tip: on hot days, arrive before noon or there may be no unoccupied sand left on the little, semi-rocky shoreline. If possible, try to use one of the rock-lined windbreaks left by previous sunbathers. Pack a warm covering in case the weather changes.

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

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE BEACH, SAN FRANCISCO

RATING: A

Mostly a gay male cruising scene, “Nasty Boy Beach” is also visited by some straight men and women. Though fairly rocky and packed with people on hot days, everyone seems to enjoy the trio of coves you can find by walking along the shore. Oh, and did I mention the view? If you want to feel immersed in a picture postcard of the famous bridge, then this is the place to plop down. On warm days, some users even swim in the usually chilly, undertow-plagued water. “You can sometimes go out over 100 feet during low tide,” says a woman.

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

FORT FUNSTON BEACH, SAN FRANCISCO

RATING: C

Known as Fort Fun by its fans, this Golden Gate National Recreation Area sun spot, located south of Ocean Beach, attracts hang gliders, dogs and their walkers, and even from time to time a few naturists, the latter of which sometimes tuck themselves between the dunes on the shore. But not all is fun on its magnetic sands and the cliffs above them. A few months ago, a tussle between two dogs ended when a canine was stabbed by the owner of one of the pets. Besides pugnacious pooch protectors, watch out too for sharp winds, especially in March and October. And to stave off hassles from rangers, disrobers should stay away on weekends or when families or rangers are near. If anyone seems upset or gripes about you being au naturel, be sure to suit up fast since the authorities will bust naturists if they see them or they receive complaints. The good news: usually, only a few citations a year are issued at Fort Funston, so if you are discreet and stay in the dunes, you may be rewarded with a suntan without lines.

Directions: From San Francisco, go west to Ocean Beach, then south on the Great Highway. After Sloat Boulevard, the road heads uphill. From there, curve right onto Skyline Boulevard, go past one stoplight, and look for signs for Funston on the right. Turn into the public lot and find a space near the west side. At the southwest end, take the sandy steps to the beach, turn right, and walk to the dunes. Find a spot as far as possible from the parking lot.

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY

LAS TRAMPAS REGIONAL WILDERNESS, CASTRO VALLEY

RATING: C

Imagine tromping in the East Bay Hills naked at night, guided only by your flashlight and a representative of the Bay Area Naturists group, plus a few fellow travelers. And yes, mooning during America’s only Full Moon Hikes is permitted. “Those who haven’t experienced these incredibly beautiful, if slightly challenging hikes to the ridge at sunset really ought to put this on their calendar this year,” says organizer Dave Smith, of San Leandro, who’ll be leading trips starting at a Castro Valley nudist club on Saturday, July 20, leaving at 7pm (there will be a potluck earlier), and Sunday, August 18, departing around 6:30pm.

“It’s one of the greatest hikes in the Bay Area, rivaling any I know of,” tells Smith. “It’s right up there with the Palomarin Trail (from the Bolinas area, passing Bass Lake and Pelican Lake, to Alamere Falls, on the coast), the Cascades, and others. The walk is not hard, but it is challenging. We take it slow so everyone can make it. So far, no one has ever been hurt.”

“We usually leave an hour and a half before sunset and hike up to the top to catch the sunset and moonrise and then come back down in the moonlight,” he adds.

“Whether you are clothed or not, participating in the Full Moon Hike is a big treat,” says past hiker Jurek Zarzycki, who suggests walkers bring good hiking shoes, a flashlight (“Most of the time you won’t need it, because of the moonlight”), and bug spray. “And don’t forget to have some baby carrots with you to give to the horses that sometimes come out at night, so close that you may even feel their breath. Don’t worry, though, they’re very friendly.”

Organized by the Sequoians Naturist Club and the Bay Area Naturists, based in San Jose, walkers leave the property of The Sequoians fully clothed at dusk and walk through meadows and up hills until the moon rises, before heading back down the slopes completely nude, with their clothes folded neatly into their backpacks.

Directions: Contact the Sequoians (www.sequoians.com) or the Bay Area Naturists (www.bayareanaturists.org) for details on how to join a walk. Meet at the Sequoians. To get there, take Highway 580 east to the Crow Canyon Road exit. Or follow 580 west to the first Castro Valley off-ramp. Take Crow Canyon Road toward San Ramon .75 mile to Cull Canyon Road. Then follow Cull Canyon Road around 6.5 miles to the end of the paved road. Take the dirt road on the right until the “Y” in the road and keep left. Shortly after, you’ll see The Sequoians sign. Proceed ahead for about another .75 mile to The Sequoians front gate.

SAN MATEO COUNTY

DEVIL’S SLIDE, MONTARA

RATING: A

Despite the opening of the Tom Lantos Tunnels on March 25, 2013, nearby Gray Whale Cove, also known as Devil’s Slide, continues to function — and may, state officials think, soon attract even more visitors than in previous years. The reason: crowds soon will be coming not only to the beach, but also to a mile-long stretch of the old Highway 1 that was circumvented by the tunnels and is being turned into a walking and biking trail; it’s expected to open soon. To handle the larger attendance, workers will build new parking lots on either side of the highway, giving Devil’s Slide a parking area on the ocean side for the first time. The current parking lot on the east side of Highway 1 is still open. “We will also be improving the stairway (leading down to the beach),” says San Mateo coast state parks sector superintendent Paul Keel. Best of all, traditional use of the beach for clothing-optional sunbathing has been continuing, with few problems. “We’re not having an increase in (complaint) calls there,” says Keel.

Directions: Driving from San Francisco, take Highway 1 south through Pacifica. Three miles south of the Denny’s restaurant in Linda Mar, at 500 Linda Mar Blvd., Pacifica, and just past and south of the Tom Lantos Tunnels, turn left (inland or east) on an unmarked road, which takes you to the beach’s parking lot on the east side of the highway and to a 146-step staircase that leads to the sand. Another lot will “eventually” be opened on the ocean side (please see above). Coming from the south on Highway 1, look for a road on the right (east), 1.2 miles north of the old Chart House restaurant in Montara. Most naturists use the north end of the beach, which is separated by rocks from the rest of the shore. Wait until low tide to make the crossing to the nude area.

SAN GREGORIO NUDE BEACH, SAN GREGORIO

RATING: A

Now in its 47th year of operation, America’s oldest nude beach even has its own website and live webcam at www.freewebs.com/sangregoriobeach. The privately-run site is located next to San Gregorio State Beach. The beach often draws a large gay crowd, along with some nude and suited straight couples, singles, and families. On your first visit, though, you may be a little shocked by the provocative behavior that is sometimes happening in the driftwood structures on the slope leading down to the beach. Their walls aren’t completely closed. Some users even want passersby to observe them having sex inside the so-called “sex condos,” including Kerry, from San Francisco, who told us about her October 2012 visit with her partner, Lisa: “It was an exciting time. We’ve been to the beach six times. We have had men wander by and try not to stare. Other times, we have had men that more or less sneak up and peek through the wood at us while we are having sex. One time, we had three men who stood 15 feet away and watched intently as we went at it. We have not met anybody that we consider creepy. In fact, there have never been any words exchanged at all.”

Directions: From San Francisco, drive south on Highway 1, past Half Moon Bay, and, between mileposts 18 and 19, look on the right side of the road for telephone call box number SM 001 0195, at the intersection of Highway 1 and Stage Road, and near an iron gate with trees on either side. From there, expect a drive of 1.1 miles to the entrance. At the Junction 84 highway sign, the beach’s driveway is just .1 mile away. Turn into a gravel driveway, passing through the iron gate mentioned above, which says 119429 on the gatepost. Drive past a grassy field to the parking lot, where you’ll be asked to pay an entrance fee. Take the long path from the lot to the sand; everything north of the trail’s end is clothing-optional (families and swimsuit using visitors tend to stay on the south end of the beach). The beach is also accessible from the San Gregorio State Beach parking area to the south; from there, hike about a half-mile north. Take the dirt road past the big white gate with the Toll Road sign to the parking lot.

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY

GARDEN OF EDEN, FELTON

RATING: C

Are you looking for a gorgeous place to have a picnic? If you’re in the Bay Area, you won’t have to travel far to find the Golden State’s version of the Garden of Eden, a creekside skinny-dipping spot located in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, between Santa Cruz and Felton. Used even more by suited swimmers and sunbathers, many hikers are surprised when they come across naturists at the stream. Eden gets mixed reviews by visitors: some parts of the trail may be slippery, so watch your step and keep your eyes out for poison oak. To find Eden and two other clothing-optional swim holes on San Lorenzo River, check for vehicles pulled over on Highway 9, alongside the state park, which forbids nudity but only occasionally patrols the creek with rangers.

Directions: From Santa Cruz, drive north on Highway 9 and look for turnouts on the right side of the road, where cars are pulled over. The first, a wide turnout with a tree in the middle, is just north of Santa Cruz. Rincon Fire Trail starts about where the tree is, according to reader Robert Carlsen, of Sacramento. The many forks in the trail all lead to the river, down toward Big Rock Hole and Frisbee Beach; Carlsen says the best area off this turnout can be reached by bearing left until the end of the trail. Farther up the highway, 1.3 miles south of the park entrance, is the second and bigger pullout, called the Ox Trail Turnout, leading to Garden of Eden. Park in the turnout and follow the dirt fire road downhill and across some railroad tracks. Head south, following the tracks, for around .5 miles. Look for a “Pack Your Trash” sign with park rules and hours and then proceed down the Eden Trail.

Ox Trail, which can be slippery, and Eden Trail both wind down steeply to the creek. “The path continues to the left, where there are several spots for wading and sunbathing,” Carlsen says. The main beach is only 75 feet long and 30 feet wide, but fairly sandy. Carlsen’s favorite hole is accessible from a trail that starts at the third turnout, a small one on the right side of the road, about 4.5 miles from Highway 1 and just before Felton. A gate marks the start of the path. The trail bends left. When you come to the road again, go right. At the railroad tracks, go right. From here, look for the river down the hill on your left; many paths lead to it. Says Mike: “Within 10 yards, you can be in the water.”

BONNY DOON NUDE BEACH, BONNY DOON

RATING: A

Were anti-nudity signs really recently posted at Bonny Doon Beach, whose north end has been used for clothing optional sunbathing for decades? Yes, but officials took the warnings, which were placed at two trailheads leading to the sand, down just two months later. “We’re not planning to change anything,” says Chet Bardo, superintendent of state beaches in the Santa Cruz district. “The truth is that we get complaints on all sides of this issue. It’s not uncommon to get calls from people. This is California, after all, so what to local people might seem not that unusual sometimes turns out to shock people who are visiting from Iowa, who find it (nudity) a bit disconcerting.”

“The way I see it, unless there’s a problem (happening at the beach), it’s not a problem to us,” he adds. In fact, the only problem at Bonny Doon this year is that it has less sand than usual. A 15-foot long rock on the sand, along with a sloping cliff with rocks that jut out, separate the two sides of the cove — one clothed for clothed visitors and the other for nudes — known as Bonny Doon.

“In the short term, things at Bonny Doon are destined to continue the way they are,” says Kirk Lingenfelter, sector superintendent for Bonny Doon and nearby state beaches. “Ultimately it would be nice to see some level of improvement, maybe trail work or stair work,” adds Lingenfelter. “But before we’d even do that, there would need to be a General Plan or an Interim Use Plan, which we don’t have. And we also don’t have any funding for it.”

As for nudity, Lingenfelter says his rangers, who periodically patrol the beach, haven’t issued a single warning or citation for nudity since the state approved the acquisition of the beach in 2006. “We’ll respond to complaints we receive,” he explains, “but I can’t recall (receiving) a single complaint.”

Directions: From San Francisco, go south on Highway 1 to the Bonny Doon parking lot at milepost 27.6 on the west side of the road, 2.4 miles north of Red, White, and Blue Beach, and some 11 miles north of Santa Cruz. From Santa Cruz, head north on Highway 1 until you see Bonny Doon Road, which veers off sharply to the right just south of Davenport. The beach is just off the intersection. Park in the paved lot to the west of Highway 1; don’t park on Bonny Doon Road or the shoulder of Highway 1. If the lot is full, drive north on Highway 1, park at the next beach lot, and walk back to the first lot. Or take Santa Cruz Metro Transit District bus route 40 to the lot; it leaves the Metro Center three times a day on Saturdays and takes about 20 minutes. To get to the beach, climb the berm next to the railroad tracks adjacent to the Bonny Doon lot, cross the tracks, descend, and take a recently improved, sign-marked trail to the sand. Walk north past most of the beach to the nude cove on the north end. Alternately, Dusty suggests parking as far north as possible, taking the northern entrance, and, with good shoes, following a “rocky and steep” walk down to the sand.

2222 BEACH, SANTA CRUZ

RATING: A

Aptly named 2222, a mini-nude beach that takes its title from the house across the street, is still beautiful, still hidden from most passersby, and still attracts a small crowd of regular visitors who are in good enough shape to handle its sketchy, foreboding-looking path.

One of America’s smallest nude beaches, 2222 is so tiny it could probably fit in your yard. And that’s what makes it such a special place. You won’t see many people on the sand, which takes scrambling to reach and isn’t recommended for children or anyone who isn’t a good hiker. However, those who are able to make it down a sharp-angled cliff and past several concrete blocks on the way down may like the quiet and solitude that the beach offers. The most dependable trail begins on the southeast corner of the hillside overlooking the site. Even though there’s a walking path just above it, the beach can’t be seen from there. College students like to hangout here and, if they’re lucky, get a glimpse of a local juggler who sometimes practices his routines on the sand. Tip: for great accommodations, check out the West Cliff Inn, 174 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, a bed and breakfast inn located a few blocks to the south; it’s somewhat pricey, but truly enjoyable.

Directions: The beach is a few blocks west of Natural Bridges State Beach and about 2.5 miles north of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. From either north or south of Santa Cruz, take Highway 1 to Swift Street. Drive .8 miles to the sea, then turn right on West Cliff Drive. 2222 is five blocks away. Past Auburn Avenue, look for 2222 West Cliff on the inland side of the street. Park in the pullout with eight parking spaces next to the cliff, on the west side of the road. If it’s full, continue straight and park along Chico Avenue. An overlook with two benches facing an interesting obelisk-style sculpture — where my girlfriend and I sat last year — is located between the parking area and the edge of the cliff. Bay Area Naturists leader Rich Pasco suggests visitors use care and then follow the path on the side of the beach closest to downtown Santa Cruz and the Municipal Wharf.

PRIVATES BEACH, SANTA CRUZ

RATING: A

Want to visit a beach with great sand and surf, plus a mix of suited and naked users? This year, the charge remains $100 — or $50 if you live nearby — for all the visits you want to make to Privates, which is one of the county’s best beaches, until May 31. If you go daily for a year, that’s about 27 cents a day. But there are also several ways people have used to circumvent the fee, which we explain below. Visitors include nudists, surfers, families, and local residents. “Everyone gets along,” says Brittney Barrios, manager/buyer of Freeline Design Surf Shop, which sells up to 600 beach passes to Privates a year. “It’s always very peaceful.”

“There’s a great swell happening here,” says a surfer we interviewed this summer. Security guards plus a locked gate keep most troublemakers out. With almost no litter or loud noise, and less wind than most local beaches, the site almost always provides a pleasant atmosphere for users. Do you want to bring your dog? It’s OK too.

To catch a game of Nude Frisbee or to start one, when you reach the bottom of the beach stairs, walk to the left until you see some people who aren’t wearing part or all of their swimsuits.

Directions: 1) Some visitors walk north from Capitola Pier in low tide (not a good idea since at least four people have needed to be rescued). 2) Others reach it in low tide via the stairs at the end of 41st Avenue, which lead to a surf spot called the Hook at the south end of a rocky shore known as Pleasure Point. 3) Surfers paddle on boards for a few minutes to Privates from Capitola or the Hook. 4) Most visitors buy a key to the beach gate for $100 a year at Freeline (821 41st Ave., Santa Cruz, 831-476-2950) 1.5 blocks west of the beach. Others go with someone with a key or wait outside the gate until a person with a key goes in, provided a security guard is not present (they often are there). “Most people will gladly hold the gate open for someone behind them whose hands are full,” says Bay Area Naturists leader Rich Pasco. The nude area starts to the left of the bottom of the stairs.

MARIN COUNTY

BASS LAKE, BOLINAS

RATING: B

“The lake was great,” says regular user Dave Smith, of San Leandro, about his visit to Bass Lake, near Bolinas, this year. “It was during spring break, so there were a lot of people on the trail that day. But we weren’t the only ones who were naked in the water. Several people were skinny dipping besides us.” Others, who don’t necessarily go nude, love Bass too, which, by the way, does not have any bass. San Rafael resident Marie described her November visit as “awe-inspiring” on a message board. She said the walk to get there “was worth every minute … the water while cool was exhilarating. I can’t wait to go back.” And Cindi, of San Anselmo, found the setting to be “rejuvenating, awesome, stunning, orgasmic … I would do it again and again.” Bass doesn’t attract as many nudists as it did 10 years ago. “When I first went, everybody was nude,” says Smith. “Today, though, you have to feel pretty comfortable with your own nudity to swim that way at the lake.”

Directions: Allow about an hour for the drive from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. From Stinson Beach, go north on Highway 1. Just north of Bolinas Lagoon, turn left on the often-unmarked exit to Bolinas. Follow the road as it curves along the lagoon and eventually ends at Olema-Bolinas Road. Continue along Olema-Bolinas Road to the stop sign at Mesa Road. Turn right on Mesa and drive four miles until it becomes a gravel road and ends at the Palomarin parking lot. On hot days the lot fills quickly, so come early. Says Smith: “We once saw hundreds of cars.” A sign at the trailhead next to the lot will guide you down scenic Palomarin Trail to the lake. For directions to incredibly beautiful Alamere Falls, 1.5 miles past Bass Lake, which empties onto a beach at the sea, please see “Elsewhere In Marin” in our online listings.

RED ROCK BEACH, STINSTON BEACH

RATING: A

The beach is in good shape this year. Warmer than usual weather in spring brought more people — 80 on one day — onto the sand earlier than usual, but, due to higher gas prices and a rough economy, crowd sizes remain down from a decade ago. “We’ve had fewer gawkers too,” says veteran visitor Fred Jaggi. “The beach is the mellowest it’s ever been.” If gawking remains down, then it would bring welcome relief. A 2012 visitor estimated the site had “25 percent nasty creeper grossness.” In another improvement, the trail is getting rave reviews. Foliage along the path has been pruned back since last year. “It’s clean of poison oak,” says Jaggi. “It’s a really easy walk now,” adds another visitor, Michael Velkoff. “You can’t beat it. I wear my sandals down there (instead of hiking shoes) while carrying a chair and backpack. If I can walk back up the trail at the end of the day, anyone can do it.” Rock climbing continues to be popular. Ultimate Frisbee, Double Disc Court (you throw two Frisbees at once), Befuddle (players toss the first disc softer and the second one harder), Nude Hearts, and Naked Scrabble are some of the other favorite pursuits on the sand. Tips: visit when the tide is low or early in the day; come before noon for the best parking. For the most sand space, drop by on a Monday, known as “Club Day” to the repeat visitors who like to gather then. And, if possible, bring a folding beach chair.

Directions: Go north on Highway 1 from Mill Valley, following the signs to Stinson Beach. At the long line of mailboxes next to the Muir Beach cutoff point, start checking your odometer. Look for a dirt lot full of cars to the left (west) of the highway 5.6 miles north of Muir and a smaller one on east side of the road. The lots are at milepost 11.3, one mile south of Stinson Beach. Limited parking is also available 150 yards to the south on the west side of Highway 1. Or from Mill Valley, take the West Marin/Bolinas Stage toward Stinson Beach and Bolinas. Get off at the intersection of Panoramic Highway and Highway 1. Then walk south .6 mile to the Red Rock lots. Follow the long, steep path to the beach that starts near the Dumpster next to the main parking lot.

MUIR NUDE BEACH, MUIR BEACH

RATING: A

Although the public part of Muir Beach has been closed since July 8, the small, quarter-moon shaped, clothing-optional beach just to the north of it is still technically open. This summer, the site was attracting 30-40 people a day, although it may get 100 on hot days. It’s one of the only Bay Area nude beaches that receives nearly as many female visitors as males. A variety of people share the cove, which has a more serene and less social atmosphere than nearby Red Rock. Finding it is usually easy: you park at the main Muir lot, walk north on the sand, cross over some rocks, and you’re there. Now, though, during improvement work lasting until November, visitors can’t park near Muir or enter it by foot. To reach the naked beach, you’ll need to hike up to several hours and not be able to use restrooms or garbage cans, which are ringed with fences. Once there, you must continue to the nude beach without stopping on the main beach, even to admire the view or swim in the water, or you will be cited.

Directions until 11/10: 1) Take the Coastal Trail to Muir Beach from the Tennessee Valley trailhead, then walk north until you come to a line of rocks marking the start of the nude area. Walk over the rocks. The roundtrip loop is just under 8 miles. See our web listings for details. 2) A hike of up to 30 minutes on the Coastal Trail begins at the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, at 1601 Shoreline Highway, off Highway 1 just south of Muir Beach. But the Center’s parking lot is tiny, costs single-occupant drivers $5 to use on Sundays (when participation in the Center’s program is requested) and isn’t open to the public on weekdays or Saturdays, so staff are strongly discouraging its use for Muir access during the beach’s closure. Our online report has more info. 3) If you live on Cove Lane, near Pacific Way, you can still access the beach from Cove. Nonresidents can’t park on Cove Lane, Pacific Way, or other nearby streets during the closure period. Starting 11/10: From San Francisco, take Highway 1 north to Muir Beach, to milepost 5.7. Turn left on Pacific Way and park in the Muir lot (to avoid tickets, don’t park on Pacific). Or park on the street off Highway 1 across from Pacific and about 100 yards north. From the Muir lot, follow a path and boardwalk to the sand. Then walk north to a pile of rocks between the cliffs and the sea. You’ll need good hiking or walking shoes to cross; in very low tide, try to cross closer to the water. The nude area starts north of it.

RCA BEACH, BOLINAS

RATING: A

In a 1998 movie, visiting Jamaica was How Stella Got Her Groove Back. But if you’d like to revitalize your life, all you may need to do is spend an afternoon at awe-inspiring RCA Beach. Even though the site is isolated, don’t try to have sex on the sand; rangers ticketed at least one person for engaging in public sex here last fall. A single stopover at this relaxing oasis of tranquility will probably inspire you to keep coming back. “It hasn’t changed in decades,” says regular visitor Michael Velkoff. One problem: the cove is exposed to the wind. The good news is that there are lots of nooks that are sheltered from the wind. Some nooks, though, provide good shelter from the periodic breezes. Plus there’s so much driftwood on the sand that many people build windbreaks or even whole forts. Suited and unsuited men and women and families visit the shoreline. The beach seems far bigger than its one mile length because everyone is usually spread out on the sand. Adds Velkoff: “We’ll see six people on a Sunday. Everybody’s 30 yards apart. It’s amazing.”

Directions: From Stinson Beach, take Highway 1 (Shoreline Highway) north toward Calle Del Mar for 4.5 miles. Turn left onto Olema Bolinas Road and follow it 1.8 miles to Mesa Road in Bolinas. Turn right and stay on Mesa until you see cars parked past some old transmission towers. Park and walk .25 miles to the end of the pavement. Go left through the gap in the fence. The trail leads to a gravel road. Follow it until you see a path on your right, leading through a gate. Take it along the cliff top until it veers down to the beach. Or continue along Mesa until you come to a grove of eucalyptus trees. Enter through the gate here, then hike .5 miles through a cow pasture on a path that will also bring you through thick brush. The second route is slippery and eroding, but less steep. “It’s shorter, but toward the end there’s a rope for you to hold onto going down the cliff,” tells Velkoff.

 

LIMANTOUR BEACH, OLEMA

RATING: B

Would you like to walk a mile wearing nothing but your smile? At lovely Limantour, in Point Reyes National Seashore, you can do just that. Bring a pair of binoculars for watching birds, seals, and other wildlife. “I’ve been going there this year since the spring,” says Lucas Valley’s Michael Velkoff. “There are always whales and dolphins off shore, but recently we’ve been seeing porpoises too. It’s so beautiful at Limantour. I just head away from any people and put my towel down in the dunes or against a wall. A friend went a few days ago. Even though it was windy, she was very comfortable in the dunes. The best thing is that nobody bothers you. Of course, I carry a pair of shorts, just in case I need to put them on. I love it at Limantour. Plus it has tons of nice sand.” The long shoreline is one of America’s most beautiful beaches, yet few visitors realize the narrow spit of sand, between Drakes Bay and an estuary, is clothing-optional. The site is so big — about 2.5 miles in length — you can wander for hours, checking out ducks and other waterfowl, shorebirds such as snowy plovers (if you are lucky enough to see these endangered birds on the north end of the beach), gray whales (including mothers and their calves during spring), and playful harbor seals (offshore and at the north edge of the sand). Dogs are allowed on six-foot leashes on the south end of the beach.

Directions: From San Francisco, take Highway 101 north to the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard exit, then follow Sir Francis through San Anselmo and Lagunitas to Olema. At the intersection with Highway 1, turn right onto 1. Just north of Olema, go left on Bear Valley Road. A mile after the turnoff for the Bear Valley Visitor Center, turn left (at the Limantour Beach sign) on Limantour Road and follow it 11 miles to the parking lot at the end. Walk north a half-mile until you see some dunes about 50 yards east of the shore. Nudists usually prefer the valleys between the dunes for sunbathing. “One Sunday we had 200 yards to ourselves,” Velkoff says. But lately, the dunes have been more crowded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rise and snack

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emilysavage@sfbg.com

TOFU AND WHISKEY Listening to infectious Terry Malts track “I Do” on a blissed-out drive across the bridge to Oakland last weekend, I was struck by how the song has grown so ingrained in my psyche.

With its driving hook and repetitive “I do/I do/I do/oh-oh” chorus about young punks in love, it’s like an underground college radio hit earworm, or the song you methodically skip to with a carful of friends on a sweaty sojourn to the beach, triumphantly pushing play on the old tape deck. It has that timeless, enduring quality. It feels like its always been in my collection.

And yet, the upbeat punk song is less than two years old, created by the San Francisco trio for its debut 2012 LP Killing Time (Slumberland). It’s got this nostalgic pull inherent in the band, and might be the best example of such among its back catalog. Returning to Killing Time left me wondering what was next for the group. Lo and behold, Terry Malts just announced the sophomore follow-up: Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere, which will be released Sept. 10 also via Slumberland Records. The announcement came with a first single, driving, noisier, “I Was Not There.” Sensing a theme here?

Terry Malts were featured in my inaugural “On the Rise” cover story, in 2012 (it’s now a yearly tradition in the first couple months of the year), and it made me wonder how the others were doing.

As luck would have it, there was also news last week that chilly synch duo Silver Swans (Jonathan Waters and Ann Yu) returned with new track “Sea of Love,” off upcoming album Touch.

Likely the group I’ve most followed since the story, rockers Dirty Ghosts have grown tighter and louder in the past year or so, and have played both the Treasure Island Music Festival and a raucous, shred-worthy Noise Pop slot opening for the Thermals.

And then there’s multi-instrumentalist Jhameel, who has since moved to LA, but has kept up with a steady stream of beat-friendly R&B and pop releases, music vids, and drunk YouTube clips for fans, most recently collaborating with Giraffage and DWNTWN on the track “Move Me,” which showed up on the Kitsuné America 2 compilation.

 

DEEP SEA NIGHTLIFE

For those who’ve yet to experience “symphonic ambisonic soundscapes” deep down in the coral reefs: Soundwave SonicLAB, MEDIATE, and the Bold Italic present this sound-heavy Cal Academy Nightlife event with electronic composer-musician Christopher Willits (owner of experimental label Overlap.org) on the soundscapes, and local garage pop act the Mantles playing live among the fishies. And for the more scientific angle, there’ll be a talk by oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence (best title ever) Dr. Sylvia A. Earle.

Thu/18, 6-10pm, $12. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, SF. calacademy.org/events.

MIWA GEMINI

Vintage children’s tales always seem to take on a slightly creepy quality, and the same can be said for experimental folk songstress, Miwa Gemini. The Brooklyn singer-songwriter makes moody narrative lullabies that sound like campfire tales, told in a crisp singsongy voice over pah-pum drums and guitar lines that bend from Western twang to plucky surf. With Zoe Muth, Margaret Glasby.

Thu/18, 9pm, $10. Amnesia, 853 Valencia, SF. www.amnesiathebar.com.

BURGER SPREAD

That blissful drive last weekend? It was the route to Burger Boogaloo, the punk rock summer camp in Oakland’s Mosswood Park. Put together by Burger Records and Total Trash Booking, the fest boasted noisy punks, retro-inspired doo-wop groups, and sloppy surf-rock bands mostly from the Bay Area, LA, and Portland, Ore.,plus Jonathan Richman. There was great warm weather, a fenced off beer plot, vintage clothes and records for sale, and the sugary vegan donut burger made by Hella Vegan Eats.

Hysterical blindness

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arts@sfbg.com

FILM Mads Mikkelsen has the kind of face that is at once strikingly handsome and unconventional enough to get him typecast in villain roles. (A good Hollywood parallel would be Jack Palance in his prime — they’ve got the same vaguely Slavic features, with sharp cheekbones and narrow eyes.)

He’s certainly known best, if not exclusively, as a villain in countries where Danish cinema has a non-existent or minor presence. (Which is to say, most of the world.) Like so many great foreign-accented actors, he got his big international break playing a bad guy in a James Bond or other blockbuster action series — in his case an actual Bond, as groin-torturing gambler Le Chiffre in 2006 franchise reviver Casino Royale. He was mean again in the big-budget 2011 flop Three Musketeers remake, and is currently creeping TV viewers out as a young Dr. Lecter on Hannibal.

Those roles are pretty much all American viewers know about Mikkelsen. But if you’ve been following Danish movies since 1996, when he debuted in the first of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher trilogy — and you should have been, even years before that — you’d know he’s an endlessly charismatic actor who’s played many sympathetic roles. Several have been for leading Danish writer directors Anders Thomas Jensen (2005’s Adam’s Apples), Ole Bornedal (2002’s I Am Dina), Susanne Bier (2002’s Open Hearts, 2006’s After the Wedding) and Lone Scherfig (2002’s Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself). Why he hasn’t made a movie for Lars von Trier, I dunno — though he’s probably a happier person for it.

He’s a very fine actor, the kind whose international profile is eventually assured — even though Hollywood, which invariably magnetizes such actors with its engorged salaries and publicity, has so far found nothing else for him to do than play diabolically intelligent monsters. The Danish movies reveal other sides: the gradual crumbling of his charity-worker’s character’s well guarded emotional defenses in After the Wedding, for instance, or the near farcical yet eventually beatific blind faith of his minister in Adam’s Apples, who holds fast during a blackly comedic avalanche of misfortunes echoing the Book of Job.

His ability to evoke both sympathy and a suspicion of otherness are particularly well deployed in The Hunt, which won him the Best Actor prize at Cannes last year. Strangely, it’s Mikkelsen’s first film with another major Danish writer-director, Thomas Vinterberg — perhaps because the latter spent most of the interim time since 1998’s Dogme triumph The Celebration making weak English-language features.

In the very Danish Hunt, Mikkelsen plays Lucas, a benign lifelong small-town resident recently divorced from his son’s mother (with whom he has ongoing custody disputes), and who currently works at the local kindergarten. One day one of his charges — the youngest child of his best friend, in fact — says something to the principal that suggests Lucas has exposed himself to her. We’ve already seen how the little girl, who has obvious if unexplained psychological issues (symptomized by her superstitious skittishness about stepping on any sidewalk or tiling line), might’ve been led to parrot elders’ statements through sheer infantile confusion and willingness to say what adults apparently want.

Once her misguided “confession” is made, however, Lucas’ boss immediately assumes the worst. She announces her assumptions at a parent-teachers meeting (from which Lucas has already been excluded) even before police can begin their investigation. By the time they have, the viral paranoia and suggestive “questioning” of other potential child victims by all parties has created a full-on, massive pederasty scandal with no basis in truth whatsoever. Lucas is shunned (even beaten) by people he’s known all his life.

The Hunt is a valuable depiction of child-abuse panic, in which there’s a collective jumping to drastic conclusions about one subject where everyone is judged guilty before being proven innocent. (If you doubt that judgment, look on any gay-related Yahoo news comment-board, in which some posters will invariably state the “fact” that all gay people are pedophiles and/or were “turned” gay by being molested as children.) Many parents fervently believe “children don’t lie” — yet they do all the time. Sometimes inadvertently because they don’t understand the complexities of a situation, sometimes blatantly because they’re simply trying to tell adults what they want to hear.

The Hunt‘s emotional engine is Lucas’ horror at the speed and extremity with which he’s ostracized by his own community — and its willingness to believe the worst about him on anecdotal evidence. Mikkelsen’s imperfect yet upstanding father and teacher here is a fine parabolic illustration of such predator-hyperconscious adults’ victims. Engrossing, nuanced, and twisty right up to the fade-out, The Hunt questions one of our era’s defining public hysterias. In our own society, many people believe in entrusting guns to young children whom they wouldn’t dream of thinking mature enough to drive, drink, or absorb basic sex ed. Nonetheless — and this is not to remotely dismiss the existence and prosecution of genuine child sexual abuse cases — they assume children always know what they’re talking about when they’re nose-led into accusing elders of vaguely grapevine-heard behaviors they probably don’t yet understand the actual meaning or consequences of. *

 

THE HUNT opens July 26 in Bay Area theaters.

Glamour revival

0

cheryl@sfbg.com

FILM The 18th San Francisco Silent Film Festival opens with Augusto Genino’s 1930 Prix de Beauté, literally translated as “beauty prize” but more often referred to in English as Miss Europe. Memo to all wannabe pageant queens: you might as well shuffle off the stage when Louise Brooks — flawless features, perfect hair, sparkling smile, star quality oozing from every pore — shows up to compete.

Though she knows her jealous boyfriend will disapprove, vivacious typist Lucienne (Brooks) impulsively enters herself into the Miss France contest; after she wins, she advances to Miss Europe, where she’s also victorious. (Apparently Miss Universe hadn’t been invented yet, because obviously she’d take that title, too.) When her sourpuss love orders her home, she mourns her lost-and-found glamorous life while confined to their small apartment, where she’s kept company by a caged bird and a cuckoo clock. Amid all this dreary symbolism, a movie contract (offered by a worldly, dandy prince who’d pursued her at the beauty pageant) seems just the ticket to a better life — but as any Brooks fan can tell you, happy endings were not exactly her specialty.

Scripted by frequent Brooks collaborator G.W. Pabst (with René Clair, director of 1924’s Entr’acte), Prix de Beauté was the Hollywood rebel’s last major starring role; though it was shot as a very early sound film, Brooks’ part was dubbed, and it’ll be shown at the Silent Film Festival in traditional silent form. Look forward to a gorgeous print, thanks to a full restoration done last year by Italian film archive Cineteca di Bologna, and accompaniment by seasoned silent film pianist Stephen Horne.

More movie-star charisma comes courtesy of the oft-misunderstood Marion Davies, who gets a chance to display her considerable comedic talents in King Vidor’s 1928 The Patsy. Modern audiences remember Davies for her long association with William Randolph Hearst; some assume she was more or less exactly like the shrill Susan Alexander character in 1941 roman à clef Citizen Kane. And while Hearst did manipulate her career, he was said to prefer her in costume dramas, like 1922’s When Knighthood Was in Flower, in which she played Mary Tudor — hardly similar to The Patsy‘s goofy heroine, sort of a proto-Greta Gerwig type.

The Silent Film Festival’s description of the film attributes The Patsy‘s existence to star director Vidor’s “Hollywood clout.” But its enduring popularity (it closed the 2008 fest) is surely due to Davies’ performance, which famously includes her dead-on impressions of fellow silent stars Mae Murray, Lillian Gish, and Pola Negri. Living in the shadow of her elegant older sister, Grace (Jane Winton), awkward Pat (Davies) is forever stumbling and messy-haired. (“I wish I were beautiful and seductive, like a stocking advertisement,” she says, in one of the play-turned-film’s many hilarious intertitles.)

Pat pines for Grace’s nerdy beau, Tony — but even when Grace starts sneaking around with a local bad boy, Tony doesn’t notice Pat, despite her attempts to get his attention via some silly self-improvement efforts. Blustering on the sidelines is stage and screen legend Marie Dressler, a 1930 Best Actress Oscar winner for Min and Bill, who plays the sisters’ comedically overbearing mother. The Library of Congress supplies The Patsy on 35mm, with live accompaniment by the five-piece Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

Also a tale of two siblings, Henri de la Falaise’s Legong: Dance of the Virgins (1935) — a two-strip Technicolor fable shot on location in Bali — is rapturously described by the Silent Film Festival program as “the delineation of Balinese culture … an absorbing and mesmerizing quasi-documentary.” That may be so, but one suspects neither its cultural content, nor its love-triangle story (comely temple dancer falls for the new gamelan musician in town, and he’s OK with that — until he decides he prefers her younger sis), were what lured audiences in 1935. Rather, the sight of “Balinese beauties bathing in all their native glory,” as one poster trumpeted at the time (that’s code for “topless women”), was likely the main draw.

Decades later, however, Legong‘s more exploitative elements feel pretty tame, and the film remains most interesting for its fairly respectful depictions of what was considered an outrageously “exotic” way of life at the time. The Silent Film Festival screens the UCLA Film and Television Archive’s restored 35mm print; a sure highlight will be Legong‘s live score, a collaboration between Bay Area-based ensembles Gamelan Sekar Jaya and Club Foot Orchestra.

Additional highlights include the premiere screening of the meticulously-restored The Last Edition (1925) — a newspaper yarn about a San Francisco Chronicle press worker, complete with thrilling Market Street scenes; Tokyo Chorus (1931), an early entry from the highly influential Yasujiro Ozu; “Winsor McCay: His Life and Art,” biographer John Canemaker’s tribute to the Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) animator; Douglas Fairbanks as the titular outcast in Alan Dwan’s newly-restored 1916 The Half-Breed; and closing-night crowd-pleaser Safety Last (1923), which contains one of silent film’s most famous scenes: comedian Harold Lloyd scaling a multi-story building and dangling from a clock face. *

SAN FRANCISCO SILENT FILM FESTIVAL

Thu/18-Sun/21, most shows $15

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

www.silentfilm.org

 

Giraudo (and activists) close CPMC deal

18

The takeaway message from a July 11 press conference held in the Mayor’s Office touting legislation authorizing California Pacific Medical Center’s construction of two new San Francisco hospitals was seemingly this: Everyone hearts Lou Giraudo.

A part owner of Boudin Bakery and former president of the San Francisco Police Commission, Giraudo was called in last year to help mediate a deal that seemed doomed when CPMC, city officials, and a coalition of labor and community organizations were unable to hash out an agreement that was acceptable to all sides.

Negotiations have been contentious over the past year due to early indications that CPMC would not guarantee that St. Luke’s, a health care facility relied upon by many low-income San Franciscans, would keep its doors open as a condition of moving forward with the new Cathedral Hill facility, a centerpiece of CPMC’s $2.5 billion project.

Enter Giraudo, who was, according to a not-so-subtle hint dropped by former Mayor Willie Brown in his San Francisco Chronicle column last year, “quietly brought in” by the mayor’s office to fix the half-baked mess that the CPMC deal had evidently devolved into.

Sup. David Campos sang Giraudo’s praises, saying, “I have yet to meet a finer public servant,” and calling Giraudo “a real hero of mine.”

Giraudo himself told the Guardian that his strategy was “to de-politicize the process and get people to think about the community.”

Board President David Chiu, who worked closely with Campos and Sup. Mark Farrell to negotiate with CPMC and other parties on behalf of the Board, went so far as to compare Giraudo to Batman. He even joked that he was going to shine a bat signal the next time a negotiator was needed, in hopes that Giraudo would save the day.

Yet while Giraudo may have provided the catalyst needed for a deal, it was community advocates who ensured that the public at large benefited from the CPMC plan more than they would have otherwise — since the mayor’s office seemed willing to go along with the health care giant’s original terms.

Long before Giraudo’s involvement, a coalition of labor and community organizations waged a campaign to rebuild CPMC “the right way,” holding strong on the issue of St. Lukes and refusing to agree to anything that would leave open the possibility that the hospital, a critically important facility for low-income patients, would be shuttered. “That coalition has been working for quite some time … to save St. Lukes,” Campos said of the diverse coalition of community and labor leaders, who formed under the name San Franciscans for Healthcare, Housing, Jobs and Justice. “It kept working for many years.” Under the terms of the agreement that was ultimately agreed upon, St. Luke’s will have a number of specified services to ensure it remains a full-service hospital, and CPMC will commit to providing services to 30,000 charity care patients and 5,400 Medi-Cal managed care patients per year. CPMC will also contribute $36.5 million to the city’s affordable housing fund, and it will pay $4.1 million to replace the homes it displaces on Cathedral Hill. While many advocates for San Francisco’s most vulnerable populations heralded the deal, some were disheartened that it did not dedicate space for psychiatric care.

Kiwis score points as Oracle regroups

0

After a week of one-boat “races,” an argument over rules, and an angry sponsor making waves in international media, it would be easy to write off the America’s Cup as the lamest party in town (so lame, in fact, that the organizers have ceased broadcasting the one-boat shows on YouTube).

But, it was a week of wins for Emirates Team New Zealand, most obviously the solid drubbing they delivered to Luna Rossa on Saturday (7/13) during the first race at which two boats actually showed. A smart “hook” by ETNZ blocked Luna Rossa from the start line and gave the Kiwis a five second advantage that stretched to over five minutes during the seven legs of the race. Unfortunately, that was the peak of the action as the gap between the boats grew so great and Luna Rossa officially earned a “did not finish” result for exceeding the five minutes allowed to cross the finish line after ETNZ. Overall, the match was almost as boring to watch as the single-boat snoozefests of earlier in the week, however it did show off the capabilities of the Kiwi crew, who are clearly mastering foiling while jibing, a key move for maintaining high speeds downwind. Which brings us to the other big win for the New Zealanders this week. On Thursday, the international jury ruled in favor of ETNZ and Luna Rossa, who protested a new rule requiring larger, symmetrical rudder elevators as a matter of safety. The jury decided that allowing the larger rudder elevators — which Oracle have been using on their boat since they relaunched in April after a pitch-pole in October destroyed their wing sail — would violate the AC72 Class Rule that governs the design specifications of the boats.

They said regatta director Iain Murray couldn’t change this rule without buy-in from all the competitors and that voluntary compliance of the other safety rules would appease the Coast Guard, which permitted the event based on the additional safety measures made after Andrew Simpson died. The rudder elevators help stabilize the lightweight boats while foiling, or lifting off the surface of the water to hit speeds of over 40 knots — ETNZ saw 42.3 on the speedometer on Saturday while Luna Rossa maxed out at 39.9 knots. The crew that masters this move and can maintain it over the course of a race will likely come out ahead. ETNZ is doing it now and will likely get better and better at it over the coming weeks as they continue to race the course through the multiple round robins of the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Meanwhile, Oracle will have to return to the drawing board and Ellison’s crew will need to get out on the water and re-learn how to handle their boat with a new rudder that complies with the Class Rule. Oracle has been tight-lipped on the subject, with just a brief statement from general manager Grant Simmer on the jury’s decision. “We continue to support the Regatta Director and we believe all teams have benefited from his review. We don’t have an issue complying with the Class Rule, and we will be ready to race under the rules affirmed by the Jury.” However, they may have an issue playing catch-up to the Kiwis, who have a lot on the line. If they aren’t able to wrest the Auld Mug from Larry Ellison’s hands, it’s likely the New Zealand government won’t chip in for a future campaign — especially if high-tech, billion-dollar boats remain the name of the game. The Kiwis have already chalked up four points and will need to win just one more of the next three bouts with Italy to advance to the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals, during which the Swedish team, Artemis, should be back on the water. Spectators won’t see Oracle on the course until September 7, when the America’s Cup final matches commence, however there should be plenty of opportunities to observe their practice sessions with a newly rule-compliant boat. To that end, it’s worth noting that situating the race close to land for the first time in the Cup’s history, and with a short course completed in multiple laps, was supposed to draw crowds to the shoreline and the television screen. Now that I’ve seen the boats live and on television, I have to admit that so far it’s still a pretty boring sport to watch. Standing near the start line at Marina Green or the finish line at Piers 27/29 may get you flashes of action and watching it on television is like watching a video game.

The best of both worlds is to park as near as possible to the water and get your hands on a portable marine VHF radio tuned to channel 20, which transmits the official America’s Cup broadcast. Then you can hear details on speed and tactics while actually seeing the most unforgettable part of this race — the boats jibing downwind, hitting freeway speeds while foiling with spray flying and crewmembers bouncing from one hull to the other.

That’s still drawing gasps and cheers from the crowd.

Beginning on broke

1

news@sfbg.com

Despite signs of economic recovery, many young people still face hard times due to high unemployment, low wages, and a lack of job opportunities. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee recently sought to tackle this issue locally with the rollout of Summer Jobs + 2013, a public-private partnership with an ambitious goal of providing 6,000 jobs and paid internships for San Francisco’s young adults. It was the most ambitious goal ever pursued in a city jobs initiative, with particular emphasis on low-income youth.

“I’m calling on all San Francisco companies to take on this challenge to support the youth of San Francisco,” Mayor Lee said at a press conference in April, when he joined House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in unveiling the program, the local manifestation of an Obama Administration jobs initiative. “Creating meaningful employment opportunities for our young people today will set them up for success now and in the future.”

But Summer Jobs + is falling far short of its goal, resulting in the creation of only 3,200 summer jobs. The Mayor’s Office is still holding out for a possible influx of hires next month that could bring it closer to the goal before summer’s end, Gloria Chan with the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development told us.

Last summer, the Mayor’s Office launched a similar initiative aimed at providing 5,000 youth jobs and internships, and ultimately exceeded the goal by 200 positions. Roughly 32 percent of those jobs were in the private sector, predominantly tech. At the end of the day, only about 14 percent of the program’s participants locked down private-sector jobs, with employers ranging from Starbucks to Bank of America to Twilio.

Despite some success in helping young San Franciscans find work, the efforts so far amount to a kind of Band-Aid solution to a problem that goes much deeper and cannot be solved by simply teaching young people to draft polished resumes. Youth unemployment, particularly among low-income and marginalized groups, has worsened over time and is linked to a broader trend of economic inequality.

The Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, recently turned an eye toward economic pressures facing young people with the release of a study titled, “Lost Generations? Wealth Building among Young Americans.” (see “Wealth vs. work,” May 1).

The institute found that among young people, “Average wealth in 2010 was 7 percent below that of those in their 20s and 30s in 1983. Even before the Great Recession, young Americans were on a strikingly different trajectory. Now, stagnant wages, diminishing job opportunities, and lost home values may be merging to paint a vastly different future for Gen X and Gen Y. Despite their relative youth, they may not be able to make up the lost ground.”

In the aftermath of the Great Recession triggered by the economic crash of 2009, millennials ages 16 to 24 have faced dramatically lower employment and income rates in comparison with their elders, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

In California, where unemployment stands at 10.5 percent, the millennial unemployment rate is 20.2 percent. Additionally, the median income of employed young adults in California fell from about $35,000 to $32,000 from 2005 to 2011, while other age groups recovered on average. In San Francisco, the unemployment rate for young people aged 16 to 24 was just shy of 14 percent in 2011, double that of individuals spanning ages 18 to 34.

“We know that there’s been a lot of reporting out there that the recession was particularly hard for young adults, but it’s also important to note that they are in a much bigger hole than everyone else,” Rory O’Sullivan, a policy director for Young Invincibles, told the Guardian.

Young Invincibles is a national organization that works to expand opportunities for young adults in education and employment, and to bring attention to the oft-ignored economic plight of young adults seeking a foothold in the job market.

Young Invincibles found the Great Recession hit young adults harder than any previous recession in recent history. A quarter of job loss experienced by millennials occurred after the recession ended, while the unemployment rate for 18 to 34 year olds has consistently been double that of those 35 and up.

“Young people usually take a big hit in a recession,” said O’Sullivan. “Since they’re often the first fired, last hired in a seniority system. You’re going to let go of recent hires and not the more experienced folks.”

It’s a problem that can potentially have broader effects in the long run. “There are huge consequences for the economy down the road if we have a whole generation out of work,” explained O’Sullivan. “Lack of internships and first jobs can really hurt a young person’s wages. If a young person graduates in a recession, their wages will take a hit for decades afterwards — and that could have huge consequences. We’re still a long way behind.”

There’s no easy fix for the myriad economic pressures surrounding young adults, but O’Sullivan points to public-private partnerships as a way to get young people back in the market, even though that doesn’t seem to be working in San Francisco. O’Sullivan said Young Invincibles would like to see more public service jobs created for young people. “There’s a huge demand,” O’Sullivan said. “Rebuilding after national disasters, building houses, tutoring. We have to do a better job of connecting young people to this workforce.”

Power struggles

12

rebecca@sfbg.com, steve@sfbg.com

Opposition from the San Francisco Labor Council scuttled the San Francisco Public Utility Commission’s plans to approve CleanPowerSF on July 9. But activists supporting the renewable energy program actually welcomed that new roadblock, saying it could trigger a more robust rollout of renewable energy projects that they’ve been seeking all along.

“It gives us leverage,” Eric Brooks, an organizer with Our City who has pushed the SFPUC to adopt a more aggressive CleanPowerSF, told us. “They’re insisting on local union jobs and California union jobs, and we’re glad they said that.”

Brooks said labor’s insistence on union job guarantees places the SFPUC under renewed pressure to implement a more aggressive buildout of local energy projects, from building retrofits to wind power generation facilities.

The SFPUC has already come under attack for the program because Shell Energy was the sole bidder to do the initial energy purchases. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245, which represents PG&E workers, has used the Shell contract as ammunition in a campaign against CleanPowerSF.

Shell’s involvement also helped IBEW persuade the Labor Council to oppose the project, despite its longstanding support for community choice aggregation, the model for pooling customers into renewable power programs on which CleanPowerSF is based.

“The Labor Council is for community choice aggregation, we just don’t like how the players have shaped up,” Tim Paulson, the council’s executive director, told us. “It really makes us hold our nose that Shell Oil is going to have a role … one of the worst labor law violators in the world.”

While the council’s May 13 resolution criticizes Shell, it also expresses support for renewable energy generation in the city to “help San Francisco meet its climate action goals.”

Brooks and other progressive activists share labor’s disdain for Shell. They’re trying to limit its involvement to merely purchasing the first 20 megawatts of power so CleanPowerSF can get underway with enough customers.

The SFPUC should then take over on power purchases, Brooks says, and start issuing revenue bonds against the CleanPowerSF customer base to build green power projects. New research by consultant Local Power shows CleanPowerSF could create 1,500 local jobs per year for 10 years.

Brooks also doesn’t like Shell’s involvement, but he said it was an acceptable means to the end, which was being able to roll out a CCA program that was competitive enough on price with PG&E that at least 80 percent of its targeted customer base would not choose to opt out, the level he believes they need to fund the buildout, which would bring prices down even more.

When we left a message for Local 1245 spokesperson Hunter Stern to ask whether the union would support CleanPowerSF if it guaranteed more union jobs, he referred questions to Paulson, who wouldn’t go beyond his initial statements.

“If it wasn’t for PG&E’s pressure, Local 1245 probably wouldn’t be doing this,” Brooks said of the union’s aggressive campaign against CleanPowerSF.

Representatives from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission told the Guardian that the agency intends to pursue a buildout of green power infrastructure, although CleanPowerSF director Kim Malcolm says only a few million dollars a year will initially be invested in renewable and efficiency projects.

“That line item is one of the reasons why the advocates are pretty much unanimously supporting this program,” SFPUC spokesperson Charles Sheehan noted. “We listened to them. They wanted a lower rate, they wanted dedicated money for local buildout.”

But to overcome labor’s opposition, those activists want the SFPUC to go further. Malcolm sounded a note of skepticism on Local Power’s job estimate, saying it was based on the assumption that the agency would issue bonds totaling a billion dollars.

“We have no confidence that we could issue a billion dollars worth of bonds in the first few years of the program,” Malcolm said, instead saying the highest the agency expected to go was closer to $200 million.

Brooks wants the Local Agency Formation Commission to hold a public hearing vetting the buildout studies by Local Power, showing the SFPUC and the general public that they are viable. Brooks said that hearing will likely take place in the next two weeks, before SFPUC votes on CleanPowerSF in late July or early August.

Asked about opposition to the program from the San Francisco Labor Council, Malcolm said the SFPUC was in talks to address their concerns. “We have this week been talking to representatives of the Labor Council about those conditions, and how they might actually be implemented in ways that might be practical and promote a sustainable program,” she said.

Brooks said he’s feeling more hopeful than ever about CleanPowerSF, particularly now that the SFPUC has gotten the price down to about 11.5 cents per kilowatt hour, about the same as what PG&E would offer for its proposed green energy program and just $6 more per month than its current brown power service.

“We’ll now hit that sweet spot on prices, and that’s when we can say, ‘Now let’s go for the buildout,” Brooks said. “We know we’re not going to win this if we don’t have labor behind us.”

 

Burning Bacon

7

news@sfbg.com

Bacon has its own buzz these days, infused with an almost cult-like enthusiasm that’s hard to explain. But the uptick in business that my employer, the Bacon Bacon Food Truck, has recently experienced can hardly be explained by the pork product’s faddish popularity.

Bacon Bacon is in demand more than ever, and it’s all because a small group of neighbors who raised a stink inadvertently set off a national media craze, thereby inspiring bacon-loving supporters to come out in droves and place their orders.

When Jim Angelus opened a neighborhood breakfast sandwich shop five blocks from where he lives with his wife and daughters in the Haight, he never imagined he’d set off a media feeding frenzy about bacon. But that’s what happened.

Jim is my boss. I am a news intern at the Bay Guardian and a recent hire at the Bacon Bacon Food Truck as a line cook. Our menu is crammed full of items like bacon-wrapped fried chicken, a bacon-filled parody of the It’s-It ice cream sandwich called the “That’s-That,” and in quintessential San Francisco fashion, a BLT with goat cheese called “THE L.G.B.T.”

We’re open at Brick and Mortar, on Mission and Duboce streets in San Francisco, for lunch service. We recently reclaimed our original Frederick Street location, pending installation of a costly ventilation system replacement to be OK’d by the Planning Commission as a result of a dustup stemming from neighborhood complaints.

Just a typical San Francisco small business, right?

But ever since a group of neighbors in proximity to our location in the Haight filed complaints with the San Francisco Planning Department about the smell of bacon, sparking a media firestorm, things have gotten a bit surreal.

A Wall Street Journal reporter recently interviewed us for what would become a front-page article. Bacon Bacon even made Saturday Night Live in May, with Amy Poehler informing the nation that a “San Francisco bacon restaurant” was closed for its bacon smell.

Bloggers blogged, tweeters tweeted, and Bacon Bacon was thrown into the spotlight when ABC’s Good Morning America aired a segment titled, “big bacon battle sizzling.”

That media spectacle started to smell like business. Random San Franciscans, many of whom had only heard of us through recent headlines, began to walk up to the truck, stop by the new location and espouse gestures of solidarity to a crew of cooks bewildered by their sudden celebrity status. Many of these supporters had never even eaten the food.

It all started with a series of short San Francisco Examiner articles by Andrea Koskey, with catchy headlines like “Bacon Bacon Aroma Set To End,” which went viral in May. “One of the things I’ve taken away from all of this,” says Angelus, “is how few people called me [as the story was going viral] and asked questions.”

Maybe because it was about bacon, the media attention was largely sensational. “The Haight-Ashbury district was all about peace and love until bacon entered the picture,” Vauhini Vara’s Wall St. Journal story began on July 11, the day Bacon Bacon’s Planning Commission hearing was scheduled. When I asked Vauhini why she was doing the piece, said she just wanted to do more “fun” articles.

“Plus,” she added, as if to explain everything, “it’s bacon!”

 

THE SIZZLE

Angelus started the Bacon Bacon food truck two years ago, moving away from the late nights and weekends of the restaurant business to do a lunch-only truck so he could have more time with his family.

But, as he said the day before the hearing as a recently hired personal assistant scrolled through journalists’ emails, “a lot of this has been a huge distraction in running a business.”

The Wong Family, which owns Ashbury Market, offered Jim a lease on the deli portion of their building to operate as a commissary for the Bacon Bacon Food Truck (which then had four employees, Angelus included), and they started making bacon. The Planning Department stipulated that Angelus needed a “limited use restaurant” permit to operate. That’s when the trouble started.

Shortly after Angelus opened his doors in January of 2012, a handful of neighbors complained about the smell of bacon and the influx of bacon lovers to the new restaurant in their residential neighborhood. Contrary to SNL-fueled legend, none of the neighbors “complained to the cops that [they] smelled bacon.” Instead, they filed a discretionary review application, a process in which anyone can urge the Planning Department to take action if it’s found that the case demonstrates an exceptional and extraordinary circumstance. The Health Department allowed the restaurant to operate in the interim, as long as issues with the Planning Department were ultimately resolved.

But when the issue still wasn’t resolved more than a year later, the Health Department imposed a 75-day deadline by which the planning permits must be secured. Once that deadline passed in May, Bacon Bacon was shut down. This prompted the media frenzy, which continued through July 11 — when the Planning Commission unanimously ruled that it could reopen as long as an air filtration system was installed.

Four major-network television crews filmed the three-hour hearing, periodically running out of the hearing room to grab more videotape. Phylis Johnson-Silk lives around the corner from Bacon Bacon, on Downey St. “If they put in a nail salon,” she said during the commission meeting, “[these neighbors] would complain about that. Put in a bakery, then it’d be the smell of yeast!”

“I know [the neighbors] call FedEx when the truck is double parked for deliveries on their block,” said Mike Shell, who showed up to defend Bacon Bacon independently of the company in a pork-pink tie.

In an email to members of the Haight Ashbury Improvement Association, HAIA president Ted Lowenberg urged opponents to attend the Planning Commission hearing. “We have to get as many voices as possible to attend to say the Commission must take discretionary review,” he wrote. “The owner has committed a number of cardinal sins vis-a-vis the normal process of getting a business started, and to simply let this slide through creates havoc with the planning code and process. It would like legalizing Al Capone’s liquor sales because he’s been doing it for a while, whilst getting away with murder. Now is the time to scream, ‘STOP THIS!!!'”

Neighbor David Nevins described for the commission the physical “clouds” of bacon smell that wafted down the block, “almost toxic smelling.”

His wife, Inge, visibly teared up after her turn to speak. “This should not be a popularity contest,” she said. “This should be about proper placement of a restaurant … There are people on our sidewalks eating this stuff!”

In Bacon Bacon opponent David Nevins’ plea to the Planning Commission, he cited the Wall Street Journal’s interview with the head of Iowa State University’s Sensory Evaluation Unit as evidence that the bacon smell was a nuisance, while complaining the media overexposure had turned the proceedings into a “joke.”

“I have no problem with what the health department did,” Angelus said. “They waited a year and a half for us to sort all this out and it wasn’t working. The Planning Department was really banking on us resolving the issue with the neighbors.”

“This is a residential neighborhood, not a commercial neighborhood,” David Nevins said, “The commercial activity that’s existed is ‘limited commercial use,’ which means that it respects the integrity of the neighborhood that it’s in.”

If it weren’t for the Bacon Bacon buzzwords involved, it’s likely that none of us would have heard about any of this. The neighbors, who spent a lot of money obtaining top-level legal representation and footing the bill for all sorts of tests to check the credibility of Bacon Bacon’s operations, might have gained more traction if it weren’t for the public scrutiny.

But at the same time, it’s a prime example of the kind of story which gains national media attention simply because the topic is trendy.

Instead of reading about world affairs in the morning papers this week, many Americans will be reading about their breakfasts.