Volume 48 Number 48

A show a day: Your fall music calendar

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FALL ARTS What’s going on in Bay Area music these next three months? Glad you asked.

Here’s your musical agenda from Labor Day through Thanksgiving, with highlights from our favorite fall festivals.

Aug. 27 Terry Malts Brick and Mortar, SF. www.brickand-mortarmusic.com

Aug. 28 Black Cobra Vipers with French Cassettes The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Aug. 29 Blind Willies Viracocha, SF. www.viracochasf.com

Aug. 30 Mistah F.A.B. Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Aug. 31 LIVE 105’s Punk Rock Picnic with The Offspring, Bad Religion, Pennywise, and more. Are you a late-thirties/early-forties punk rock guy or gal who can’t agree on much of anything with your 13-year-old these days? Doesn’t get much better than this lineup. Bonus points for screaming along to all the swearing on The Offspring’s “Bad Habit.” Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View. www.theshorelineamphitheatre.com

Sept. 1 Hiero Day. Souls of Mischief, Del, and the rest of the guys have promised some pretty big guest stars at this week’s fest, but even without ’em — a free block party with beer from Linden Street Brewery and music from some of the Bay Area’s best underground rappers? Guests, schmests. Downtown Oakland, www.hieroday.com

Sept. 2 Ghost & Gale Brick and Mortar, SF. www.brickandmortarmusic.com

Sept. 3 Joey Cape Thee Parkside, SF. www.theeparkside.com

Sept. 4 Carletta Sue Kay Hemlock Tavern, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com

Sept. 4-13 Mission Creek Oakland Music & Arts Festival. With a range of heavy hitters — from B. Hamilton and Bill Baird to Whiskerman — this is a showcase of the fertile ground that is Oakland’s indie rock scene right now, most with door prices you’re not likely to see from these bands again. Venues throughout Oakland, www.mcofest.org.

Sept. 5 Sam Chase with Rin Tin Tiger Uptown, Oakl. www.uptownnightclub.com

Sept. 6 Bart Davenport, Foxtails Brigade, more Block Party, downtown Oakland, www.mcofest.org

Sept. 7 Coheed and Cambria, Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Sept. 8 The Rentals Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Sept. 9 Wild Eyes Knockout, SF. www.theknockoutsf.com

Sept. 10 Kyrsten Bean New Parish, Oakl., www.thenewparish.com

Sept. 11 Sonny & The Sunsets Eagle Tavern, SF. www.sf-eagle.com

Sept. 11-14 Downtown Berkeley MusicFest. A range of bluesy, folky, dancey bands from all over the Bay — especially recommended: the First Person Singular presentation of Beck’s Song Reader Sept. 11 and The Parmesans at Jupiter Sept. 14. Venues all over Berkeley, www.downtownberkeleymusicfest.org

Sept. 12-14, 15th Annual Electronic Music Festival Brava Theater Center, SF. www.sfemf.org

Sept. 13 The Breeders Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Sept. 13-14 Forever Never Land, “California’s only 21+ music festival,” Avila Beach Golf Resort, www.foreverneverland.us

Sept. 15 Vulfpeck Brick and Mortar, SF. www.brickandmortar.com

Sept. 16 Lil Dicky Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Sept. 17 Anais Mitchell The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Sept. 18 Silent Comedy and Strange Vine Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Sept. 19 Blake Mills, The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Sept. 20 Old Crow Medicine Show The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Sept. 20-21 Berkeley World Music Festival All over Berkeley, www.berkeleyworldmusic.org

Sept. 20-21 Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival, with Larry Graham & Graham Central Station, more. www.russianriverfestivals.com

Sept. 21 Oakland Music Festival with The Coup, Kev Choice, more Downtown Oakland, www.oaklandmusicfestival.com.

Sept. 22 La Roux Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Sept. 23 Cello Joe The Chapel Bar, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Sept. 24 Skeletonwitch, Black Anvil DNA Lounge, SF. www.dnalounge.com

Sept. 25-28 Philip Glass’ Days and Nights Festival Henry Miller Memorial Library, Big Sur; Sunset Cultural Center, Carmel-by-the-Sea, www.daysandnightsfestival.com

Sept. 26 Bob Mould Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Sept. 27 Wu-Tang Clan Warfield, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

Sept. 27 Redwood City Sala Festival Courthouse Square, Redwood City, www.redwoodcity.org

Sept. 28 Sam Smith Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Sept. 29 Motown on Mondays Legionnaire Saloon, Oakl. www.legionnairesaloon.com

Sept. 30 Pixies The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Oct. 1 Rhymesayers presents Brother Ali, Bambu Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Oct. 2 Lorde Greek Theatre, Berk. www.thegreektheatreberkeley.com

Oct. 3-5 Berkeley Hawaiian Music Festival Freight and Salvage, Berkl. www.thefreight.org.

Oct. 3-5 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, Golden Gate Park, SF. www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com

Oct 3-5 TBD Festival, Riverfront, West Sacramento. Emerging Bay Area acts like 8th Grader mingle with the big kids (Blondie, Moby, Danny Brown, Kurt Vile) at this seventh annual celebration of “music, art, design, and food.” A low-key vibe and great chance to see some huge acts in a seemingly unlikely location. www.tbdfest.com.

Oct. 4 Cibo Matto The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Oct. 5 Bombay Bicycle Club Warfield, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

Oct. 6 The War on Drugs with Cass McCombs Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 7 Thurston Moore Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 8 The King Khan & BBQ Show Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 9 Imelda May Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 10 Too Short Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View. www.shorelineamphitheatre.com

Oct. 11 Pomplamoose Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 12 Jack Beats Mezzanine, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com

Oct. 13 Mutual Benefit Independent, www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 14-15 Culture Collide. This new-to-the-Bay-Area party has been rocking LA for the past few years, but it seems to have taken on an appropriately Mission-esque flavor for its first Mission takeover: Local kids like Grmln alongside national acts like Cloud Nothings and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah alongside a whole host of buzzy Korean, Australian, and UK bands? Yeah, we’re there. Up and down Valencia in the Mission, with multiple stages including the Elbo Room. www.culturecollide.com

Oct. 15 Of Montreal Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 16 Russian Red Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 17 Pup Brick and Mortar Music Hall, www.brickandmortarmusichall.com

Oct. 18-19 Treasure Island Music Festival

Oct. 20 Kimbra Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 21 Melvins Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 22 Kat Edmonson Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 23 The Blank Tapes Brick and Mortar Music Hall, www.brickandmortarmusichall.com

Oct. 24 Foxygen Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 25 Titan Ups and Carletta Sue Kay DNA Lounge, SF. www.dnalounge.com

Oct. 26 Bridget Everett Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 27 Warpaint Regency Ballroom, SF. ww.theregencyballroom.com

Oct. 28 Broken Bells The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Oct. 29 King Tuff Great American Music Hall, SF. www. slimspresents.com

Oct. 30 Tycho Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Oct. 31 LIVE 105’s Spookfest with Chromeo, Alesso, more Oracle Arena, Oakl., www.live105.cbslocal.com

Nov. 1 Stone Foxes with Strange Vine The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Nov. 2 Citizen Cope Catalyst, Santa Cruz. www.catalystclub.com

Nov. 3 The Black Keys Oracle Arena, Oakl., www.coliseum.com

Nov. 4 Frankie Rose with Cold Beat Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Nov. 5 Finch, Maps & Atlases Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Nov. 6 Bleachers Independent, SF. www.theindependent.sf.com

Nov. 7 Slowdive Warfield, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

Nov. 8 Shovels & Rope Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Nov. 9 Mirah Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Nov. 10 Psychedelic Furs, Lemonheads Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Nov. 11 Mac DeMarco Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Nov. 12 Shakey Graves Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Nov. 13 Generationals The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Nov. 14 Deltron 3030 Catalyst, Santa Cruz. www.catalystclub.com

Nov. 15 J. Mascis Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Nov. 16 Hot Water Music Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Nov. 17 Culture Club Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Nov. 18 The 1975 The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Nov. 19 Har Mar Superstar Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Nov. 20 Minus the Bear Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Nov. 21 Seu Jorge Bimbo’s 365 Club, SF. www.bimbos365club.com

Nov. 22 Peanut Butter Wolf Brick and Mortar Music Hall, www.brickandmortarmusichall.com

Nov. 23 Lucero Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Volume 48 Number 48 Flip-through Edition

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Fall fairs and festivals

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Aug. 30

Pilgrim Soul Forge Harvest Fair Pilgrim Soul Forge, 101 West Tower, Alameda; www.grantsforge.com. Noon-6pm, free. Possibly the only fall fair in the Bay Area to offer blacksmithing demonstrations alongside the usual suspects: food trucks, craft vendors, and live music.

Savor Filipino Justin Herman Plaza, Embarcadero at Market, SF; www.savorfilipino.com. 10am-6pm, free (most workshops $15). Try the best in Filipino cuisine at this gathering of chefs and authors, with a huge menu of tasty eats (check it out online) and workshops on vegan Filipino cooking, modern Filipino desserts, and other tasty topics. Plus: live music and traditional dance performances, and a “Dance That Lumpia Off” audience-participation activity.

 

Aug. 30-31

Millbrae Art and Wine Festival 400 Broadway, Millbrae; www.miramarevents.com. 10am-5pm, free. Downtown Millbrae’s annual Mardi Gras-style celebration, with live music, a juried art show, a classic car show, carnival-style rides, and tons of specialty food and drink vendors.

San Francisco Zine Fest SF County Fair Building, 1199 Ninth Ave, SF; www.sfzinefest.org. Aug 30, 11am-5pm; Aug 31, 11am-4pm. Free. Support indie writers, artists, and creators at this annual event, with exhibitions, workshops, book signings, and more. Special guests include Ryan Sands (publishing company Youth in Decline), Tomas Moniz (RAD DAD zine), and illustrator and cartoonist Hellen Jo.

 

Aug. 30-31

SF Bay Brazilian Day and Lavagem Festival Casa de Cultura, 1901 San Pablo, Berk; www.brasarte.com. 11am-7pm, free. Celebrate Brazilian Independence Day with a lavagem (blessing) calling for world peace, plus Brazilian music, food, a “Caipirinha lounge,” and more.

 

Aug. 31

Oakland Pride Uptown Oakl; www.oaklandpride.org. Parade starts at 10:30am, Broadway and 14th St; festival, 11am-7pm, Broadway at 20th Sts. Parade free; festival $5-10. It’s the very first year for the Oakland Pride Parade, while Sheila E headlines the fifth annual festival, billed as the second-largest pride event in NorCal.

 

Sept. 6

SF Mountain Bike Festival McLaren Park, Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, 20 John F. Shelley, SF; sfurbanriders.org/wordpress/sf-mtb-festival. 9am-5pm, free. Register in advance to compete — or just show up to spectate or test your skills in any of the non-competitive categories. Events include a short-track challenge, a 10-mile urban adventure ride, a cargo bike hill climb, a bike skills challenge for youth and families, and more, plus a box jump demo and a bike raffle.

 

Sept. 6-7

Autumn Moon Festival Chinatown, SF; www.moonfestival.org. Grand opening ceremony and parade, Sept 6, 11am; festival, 11am-5pm (dog costume contest, Sept 7, 2:30pm). Free. Cultural performances, an open-air street bazaar, lion dancing, and (new this year!) a dog costume contest highlight this 24th annual celebration of the Asian holiday.

Mountain View Art and Wine Festival Castro between El Camino Real and Evelyn, Mtn View; www.miramarevents.com. 10am-6pm, free. With works by over 600 professional craftspeople and artists, plus live music, home and garden exhibits, a young-performers stage, a climbing wall, food and wine, and more.

 

Sept. 7

Haight Street Music and Merchants Street Festival Haight between Masonic and Stanyan, SF; hsmmsf@gmail.com. Noon-6pm, free. Yep, it’s another street fair on Haight — but this brand-new event has a highly local focus, since it’s sponsored by local merchants. Expect three stages of music, kids’ activities, a skate ramp, and more.

 

Sept. 13

Sea Music Festival San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, Hyde Street Pier, SF; www.nps.gov/safr/planyourvisit/seamusicfestival2014.htm. 9am-5pm; evening chantey sing, 7:30-9:30pm. Outdoor performances free; admission to historic ships $5 (15 and under with adult supervision, free). Learn about maritime history through music at this all-day fest of traditional and contemporary songs, instrumentals, and dances. The Sea Music Concert Series continues aboard the Balclutha Sept 20, Oct 25, and Nov 25 ($12-14 or a season ticket, $36).

 

Sept. 13-14

Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival Ghirardelli Square, 900 North Point, SF; ghirardelli.com/chocolatefestival. Noon-5pm, $20-40. Help raise money for Project Open Hand and satisfy your sweet tooth at this 19th annual dessert and wine fiesta. In addition to offering samples of gourmet goodies from over 50 vendors , Ghirardelli hosts chef demos, a silent auction, a “Chocolate School” (learn about the chocolate-making process!), and the ever-popular hands-free sundae-eating contest.

 

Sept. 14

Comedy Day Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park, SF; www.comedyday.com. Noon-5pm, free. This year’s incarnation of the free, all-day comedy festival is dedicated to the memory of supporter (and frequent unannounced performer) Robin Williams.

Sunday Streets: Western Addition Fillmore between Geary and Fulton; Fulton between Fillmore and Baker, SF; www.sundaystreetssf.com. 11am-4pm, free. What traffic? Explore the neighborhood (including Alamo Square) on foot or bike.

 

Sept. 19-21

Eat Real Festival Jack London Square, Oakl; www.eatrealfest.com. Sept 19, 1-9pm; Sept 20, 10:30am-9pm; Sept 21, 10:30am-5pm. Free. Billed as a combo “state fair, street-food festival, and block party,” this fest offers sustainable, regionally-sourced eats (BBQ, ice cream, curry, and more) costing eight bucks or less.

Oktoberfest by the Bay Pier 48, SF; www.oktoberfestbythebay.com. Sept 19, 5pm-midnight; Sept 20, 11am-5pm and 6pm-midnight; Sept 21, 11am-6pm. $25-75 (Sept 20-21 day session, kids 13-18, $5; must be accompanied by parent). The Chico Bavarian Band returns to add oompah to your eating and, more importantly, drinking experience. Prost!

 

Sept. 20-21

Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival #58 Old Mill Park, 325 Throckmorton, Mill Valley; www.mvfaf.org. 10am-5pm, $5-10. Over 140 fine artists participate in this fair, which is held in a can’t-be-beat location (hi, majestic redwoods) and also features live music and children’s entertainment.

 

Sept. 21

Folsom Street Fair Folsom between Eighth and 13th Sts, SF; www.folsomstreetfair.com. 11am-6pm, $10 donation requested (donation sticker entitles wearer to $2 off drinks). The leather and fetish fantasia returns with over 200 exhibitor booths, two giant dance floors, public play stations, erotic art, and more.

 

Sept. 27

Bay Area Record Fair Thee Parkside, 1600 17th St, SF; www.theeparkside.com. 11am, $5 early entry (free after noon). Vinyl junkies, take note: over 30 Bay Area indie labels participate at this semi-regular event, which also boasts live music, DJs, raffles, and more.

San Mateo Bacon and Brew Festival Central Park, Fifth Ave and El Camino Real, San Mateo; www.sanmateochamber.org/bbf. 11am-5pm, $15. This fest breaks it down to the essentials. Admission gets you a free beer (or soft drink), while food vendors favor you-know-which crispy pork product.

SuperHero Street Fair 1700 Indiana, SF; www.superherosf.com. 1-11pm, $10. Seven stages and 13 “sound camps” provide the beats for this fifth annual festival celebrating heroes, villains, sidekicks, and everything in between. It goes without saying that costumes are highly encouraged.

 

Sept. 28

“A Day on the Water 2” Cesar Chavez Park, 11 Spinnaker, Berk; (510) 677-9425. Noon-7pm, free. Outdoor fair and music festival with Manzo Rally, Afrofunk Experience, Crosscut, and more.

Sunday Streets: Excelsior Mission between Theresa/Avalon and Geneva, SF; www.sundaystreetssf.com. 11am-4pm, free. Hit the street at this edition of Sunday Streets, which coincides with the sixth annual Tricycle Music Fest at the Excelsior Branch Library (sfpl.org/tricycle for more info).

 

Oct. 4

“Oaktoberfest” Fruitvale at MacArthur, Oakl; www.oaktoberfest.org. 11am-6pm, free. Family-friendly craft beer festival, with over 30 participating local breweries, a Bavarian big band and dancers, German food vendors, and more.

 

Oct. 4-5

Alternative Press Expo Fort Mason Center, Festival Pavilion, 2 Marina, SF; comic-con.org/ape. Check website for updates regarding times and badge prices. APE is back to celebrate alternative and small-press comics in a new venue, with a guest list that includes Bob Fingerman, Faith Erin Hicks, Ed Piskor, Paul Pope, Jason Shiga, and many more.

 

Oct. 5

Castro Street Fair, Castro at Market, SF; www.castrostreetfair.org. 11am-6pm, free (donate at the gate to get $1 off at fair beverage booths). Five different entertainment areas (including a main stage, a “legends” stage, and “Barnaby’s World of Wonderment”) highlight this annual event, which was founded by Harvey Milk in 1974. Performers were TBD at press time, so check the website closer to the event for updates.

 

Oct. 9

Union Street Wine Walk Union between Gough and Steiner, SF; www.sresproductions.com. 4-8pm, free (sampling tickets, $25). Restaurants and merchants offer wine tasting and small bites at this fifth annual neighborhood event.

 

Oct. 10-18

Litquake Various venues, SF; www.litquake.org. San Francisco’s annual literary festival turns 15 this year, with a week full of live readings, performances, panels, and multimedia events, including tributes to Octavio Paz and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The Barbary Coast Award will be presented to Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida and their many projects, including 826 Valencia and McSweeney’s.

 

Oct. 11

Woodside Day of the Horse Woodside Town Hall, 2955 Woodside, Woodside; www.whoa94062.org. 10am-2:30pm, free (progressive trail ride, $40). The Woodside-area Horse Owners Association (WHOA) celebrates Year of the Horse with stagecoach rides, live music, a petting zoo, and more, plus an organized trail ride for experienced riders and their horses to raise money for the organization’s charitable community projects.

 

Oct. 11-12

World Vegetarian Festival SF County Fair Building, 1199 Ninth Ave, SF; www.worldvegfestival.com. 10:30am-8:45pm, free. The SF Vegetarian Society’s annual event features cooking demos, exhibitors, speakers, an eco-fashion show, entertainment, and samples galore.

 

Oct. 12

Italian Heritage Parade Begins at Jefferson and Stockton, proceeds on Columbus, and ends in Washington Square, SF; www.sfcolumbusday.org. 12:30pm, free. Established in 1868, this North Beach tradition features handmade floats, a costumed Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella, Italian music, a Ferrari display, and more.

 

Oct. 13

World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off IDES Grounds, 735 Main Street, Half Moon Bay; weighoff.miramarevents.com. 7-11am, free. Who will reign supreme at this 41st annual battle of the bulge, dubbed the “Superbowl of Weigh-Offs”? Last year’s champ tipped the scales at 1,985 pounds — that’s a lotta pie!

 

Oct. 18

Noe Valley Harvest Festival 24th St between Sanchez and Church, SF; www.noevalleyharvestfestival.com. 10am-5pm, free. This 10th annual shindig aims to help you get a jump on holiday shopping, with over 50 local artisans showing their creations. Also: two stages of music, costume contests for dogs and kids, a dunk tank, a pumpkin patch, and more.

Potrero Hill Festival 20th St between Wisconsin and Missouri, SF; www.potrerofestival.com. 11am-4pm, free. Now in its 25th year, this neighborhood block party features local food and entertainment — including a kick-off Cajun-style brunch ($5-12) with Dixieland jazz — plus pony rides and a bouncy house for kids.

 

Oct. 18-19

Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival Main between Mill and Spruce, Half Moon Bay; www.miramarevents.com. 9am-5pm, free. They don’t call Half Moon Bay the World Pumpkin Capital for nothing — the coastal town represents at its 44th annual gourd-tastic throwdown with three stages of music, the Great Pumpkin Parade (Oct 18 at noon), a haunted house attraction, expert Jack O’ Lantern carving, and food and drinks galore (pumpkin beer, anyone?)

 

Oct. 19

Sunday Streets: Mission 18th St between Guerrero and Harrison and Valencia between 25th and Duboce, SF; www.sundaystreetssf.com. 11am-4pm, free. Sunday Streets returns to the Mission! Check the website after Oct. 3 for updates on planned activities.

 

Oct. 25

San Francisco’s Wharf Fest Fisherman’s Wharf, SF; www.sresproductions.com. 11am-6pm, free. Celebrate SF’s waterfront history at this event, with a chowder competition, chef demos, ship tours, street performers, fireworks, and more.

 

Nov. 2

San Francisco Day of the Dead Procession and Festival of Altars Festival, Garfield Park, 26th St and Harrison, SF; www.dayofthedeadsf.org. 6-11pm, free. Procession begins at 22nd St and Bryant, SF; www.dayofthedeadsf.org. 7pm, free. Add a personal altar for a loved one who has passed away to the display at Garfield Park (candles must be in glass containers; no open flames allowed), and bring canned food to donate to St. Anthony’s Foundation, in honor of the altar memorializing the deaths of homeless people in SF. The procession, led by Rescue Culture Collective, circles the Mission accompanied by traditional Aztec dancers.

 

Nov. 14-16

Green Festival Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina, SF; www.greenfestivals.org/sf. Nov 14, noon-6pm; Nov 15-16, 10am-6pm. $15-30. Learn how to “work green, play green, and live green” at this expo, an ode to health and sustainability. Featured events include vegan and vegetarian cooking demos, inspirational speakers, and a marketplace with more than 250 eco-friendly businesses. *

 

Wizard of brews

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culture@sfbg.com

THE WEEKNIGHTER I was hanging out with Steve Jones. I’m pretty sure it was the first time just the two of us were kicking it, even though I’d known him for years and he’d been my editor at SFBG for at least six months. There was supposed to be some kind of Mixmaster Mike event at a loft in the Dogpatch, and when we arrived, there was nothing. So we did the next best thing. We got some drinks.

After chewing on some jerky and tipping back a tipple at Third Rail, one of us remembered that Magnolia Dogpatch and Smokestack (2505 Third St, SF. www.magnoliapub.com) had recently opened nearby. And it was our job, nay, our duty to check it out.

Cruising down Third Street, me walking, Steve pushing his wild looking bike, we nearly passed Magnolia’s front door. “Is it open?” Steve asked. The windows were covered in old newspapers and the exterior looked like some rundown factory.

“I think so,” I replied. “I think I hear music.” As I pulled the door open suddenly it was that scene in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy steps into Technicolor, except instead of badass musical munchkins, Steve and I were greeted by the smell of barbecue and the clanking and thrumming of people drinking.

Now you are looking at Steve and me. Time has stopped outside on gritty Third Street and the golden light of the wondrous inner world of Magnolia illuminates our faces as we are frozen in wide-grinned delight. And boom! Time picks back up and we step inside. Steve looks at me, “I think we made the right choice.”

“I’m gonna eat the fuck out of everything,” I respond.

There’s a trend that’s getting tired in all of San Francisco’s new bars and restaurants. You know it: reclaimed wood, exposed Edison bulbs, typewriters that, for fuck’s sake, no one will ever use. Magnolia is not like this. Yes it feels old-timey, but in a way that actually seems like it might be real. Housed in a former can factory, Magnolia looks like an indoor beer garden where the workers might have rushed to drink once the foreman blew the whistle. It harks back to the neighborhood’s dilapidated past while enticing San Francisco’s well heeled modernity. It’s magnificent.

And it has beer. Lots of it. Magnolia — an offshoot of Magnolia Pub in the Haight — brews it in mega vats (this is not a technical term) on the premises, and it’s really lovely. The beers have musical names like Cole Porter, or contain Grateful Dead references like New Speedway Bitter and Delilah Jones Rye. Oh yes, proprietor Dave McLean — I, too, am a fan of the Dead. And the food, good lord the food! Dennis Lee from Namu Gaji really did the thing this time calling it “non-denominational” BBQ, or so it says on Eater, because I’m reading that right now since I didn’t take notes. I was eating BBQ and drinking beer, man, I couldn’t take notes… I just wanna know what’s behind the door that says “Dictating.”

Steve and I stepped out of magical Magnolia-land and back onto dreary Third Street. He peddled off on his bike and I wandered over to catch the bus. I popped around the corner to take a piss before my long bus ride, and a girl rounded the corner and almost ran into me. She stopped, looked at my face, looked at my dick, then turned around and continued smoking a cigarette, with her back to me, while texting on her phone. The scene was made weirder by the fact that I was wearing a captain’s hat and probably had BBQ sauce all over my face.

And that, my friends, is how you write a story about a bar.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at www.brokeassstuart.com

Visual reaction

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arts@sfbg.com

FALL ARTS From retrospectives and installations tied to big names, to smaller but no less arresting gallery exhibitions, this fall’s visual art offerings will have a lot to say about political bodies, politicized bodies, and the body politic. It’s heartening that the “blockbuster” shows listed here by and large focus on artists whose work doesn’t shy away from politics or political activism. After a summer in which there was a palpable uptick in public conversations about the US’s role in humanitarian injustices — both home and abroad — I hope the following exhibitions encourage people to keep talking.

 

“Keith Haring: The Political Line”

de Young Museum, Nov. 8, 2014–Feb. 16, 2015

The posthumous ubiquity of Keith Haring’s art (on coffee mugs, T-shirts, postcards) has overshadowed the fact that he made work that was as committedly political as it was populist. His stances on antinuclear proliferation, apartheid, and the survival of sexual communities in the face of the AIDS epidemic were as clear as his trademark figures. This first major West Coast Haring show in over two decades is more importantly the first to explicitly focus on the political dimension of his work. https://deyoung.famsf.org

 

“@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz Island”

Sept. 27, 2014-April 26, 2015

The Chinese dissident artist’s installation on Alcatraz via the FOR-SITE Foundation has been greeted with equal parts hype and skepticism. Working remotely from his studio with a team that includes collaborators from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Ai has created new sculpture, sound, and mixed media works for four locations on the former federal penitentiary grounds (three of which are usually off-limits to the public). How these pieces will put the artist’s own experiences of detainment and censorship in conversation with the site’s history of discipline and insurrection remains to be seen. Here’s to hoping for as much heat as there is light. www.for-site.org/project/ai-weiwei-alcatraz

 

“American Wonder: Folk Art from the Collection”

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Oct. 1-Dec. 21

John Zurier/MATRIX 255

Sept. 12-Dec. 21

On paper, “early American folk art” as the subject for an exhibition might sound dry as toast. But a lot happened between the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 to the onset of the Civil War in 1861, the period during which the portraits, landscapes, commemorative mourning pictures, weather vanes, and decorative sculptures assembled here (and all from the BAM/PFA collection) were made. These artifacts of national self-fashioning reflect that history but also the quotidian aspects of daily life which often get left out of its telling. Also on view will be local Zurier’s first solo show at the museum, which features luminous, abstract paintings and watercolors inspired by his time in Iceland. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu

 

“Nicolas Lobo: D.O.W.”

Gallery Wendi Norris, Sept. 4-Nov. 1

Transforming chemical elements into contemplative sculptural pieces is the MO of interdisciplinary artist Lobo for his first San Francisco solo show. Previously working with sound in varying capacities, he has now turned to food science, isolating the chemical substrates of consumer goods such as doughnut frosting and cough syrup, and incorporating them into napalm and Play-Doh structures that resemble day-glo colored Song dynasty scholar stones. Toxicity never looked so enticing. www.gallerywendinorris.com

 

Kota Ezawa

Haines Gallery, Nov. 6-Dec. 20

Throughout his career, Kota Ezawa has rendered iconic images as disparate as Patty Hearst and the SLA robbing the Hibernia Bank and Nan Goldin photographs in a clean, simple style reminiscent of cartoons. The result is at once highly personal and aesthetically flattening, locating Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment” outside of the event photographed and in the photograph’s broader circulation across time. This collection of new work should provide another chapter in his ever-evolving history of the medium. www.hainesgallery.com

“Songs and Sorrows: Días de los Muertos 20th Anniversary”  

Oakland Museum of California, Oct. 8, 2014-Jan. 4, 2015

While the popularity of the Mission’s annual Días de los Muertos celebration grows in tandem with the dislocation of the community that originated it, Oakland Museum of California’s 20th anniversary celebration grounds the holiday in some much-needed historical perspective, while showcasing Latino and Latina artists who continue to innovate on the traditions and aesthetics the celebration has inspired. www.museumca.org  

“Something Completely Different”  

City Limits, Aug. 30-Sept. 13

You have to act fast on this one. If you want to see something completely new, head to this group show at one of Oakland’s strongest exhibition spaces. For this salon-style collection, each of the 60 participating artists was asked to go outside his or her comfort zone to create a piece that was truly new. The opening reception Sept. 5 doubles as a gallery fundraiser, so now is you chance to pick up something by one of the Bay Area’s best and brightest. http://citylimitsgallery.com *

Curtain up

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arts@sfbg.com

FALL ARTS

The Old Woman Robert Wilson, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Willem Dafoe — None of these guys are ever to be missed, but all three together are worthy of queuing up overnight to see. There’ll be camping out onstage too, as Wilson directs Baryshnikov and Dafoe (playing several characters between them) in an outrageous piece of high-art drag, based on the short story by the formidable Russian absurdist Daniil Kharms. Nov. 21–23, Zellerbach Hall, Berk; www.calperformances.org

Cock As relationship plays go this is a prickly one. But British playwright Michael Bartlett scored big with this 2009 drama, in which a gay man falls for a woman and into a sexual identity crisis that takes the form of a merciless cockfighting pit. Sept. 5–Oct. 12, New Conservatory Theatre Center, SF; www.nctcsf.org

New Electric Ballroom Enda Walsh is not a household name, and Enda is not a typo. Nevertheless this is Ireland’s, maybe the world’s, most brilliant contemporary playwright — at least it sure seemed that way when Druid Theatre rolled into town in 2009 with Walsh’s tragic-comic Escher-drawing of a play, The Walworth Farce. Some of us have been waiting for more from that weird, dark, deeply funny mind ever since. Sept. 3–Oct. 5, Shotgun Players at Ashby Stage, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org

The Totalitarians This grim and grimacing take on the current state of political discourse in the cornhusker state of Nebraska comes to Z Space as a newly commissioned comedy from the steely and hysterical pen of playwright-in-residence Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, who also penned Boom, T.I.C. (Trenchcoat in Common), and Hunter Gatherers. Nov. 19–Dec. 14, Z Space, SF; www.zspace.org

An Audience with Meow Meow Hypnotically charming, quixotic, and unflappably zany British cabaret sensation Meow Meow (aka Melissa Madden Gray) takes a rare Bay Area bow-bow in this new show adapted and directed by Kneehigh’s Emma Rice. Sept. 5–Oct. 19, Berkeley Rep, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org

San Francisco Fringe Festival Indie theater at its shaggiest and most low-to-the-ground, the lottery-based, anything-and-everything Fringe offers 150 performances over 16 days at 50 minutes and 10 bucks per, which, if you do the math, equals fast, cheap, and out of control. Sept. 5–20, EXIT Theatreplex, SF; www.sffringe.org

Die! Mommie, Die! Charles Busch made a play, then a movie, then a play about shameless obsession, not least his own. J. Conrad Frank (creator of alter ego Katya Smirnoff-Skyy) steps into the unforgiving shoes of a title character originated by Busch, namely fallen 1960s pop singer Angela Arden — a cunning mash-up of Hollywood’s grand, ax-wielding tradition of good-women-gone-bad. Oct. 3–Nov. 2, New Conservatory Theatre Center, SF; www.nctcsf.org

San Francisco Improv Festival Ten years old and still acting like it, the SF Improv Festival celebrates its milestone with an array of local talent headed up by special guests Tim Meadows (Saturday Night Live), Scott Adsit (30 Rock), and Ron West (Whose Line Is It Anyway?)Sept. 10–20, Eureka Theatre, SF; www.sfimprovfestival.com

Britten: Curlew River Subtitled A Parable for Church Performance (Op. 71), Benjamin Britten’s 1964 church parable is based on a 15th-century Japanese Noh play with a libretto by South African and British author William Plomer. A major turning point for Britten’s later style, Curlew River plumbs themes of suffering and redemption in the story of a bereft mother told by four characters in the Noh tradition. British tenor Ian Bostridge stars in this new, enveloping, and highly praised multimedia staging co-presented by London’s Barbican Centre and Cal Performances. Nov. 14–15, Zellerbach Hall, Berk; www.calperformances.org

Superheroes A journalist investigating the history of the crack-cocaine epidemic follows a maze of shady associations to reach a startling conclusion in this new play written and directed by Campo Santo’s Sean San José and inspired by the late Gary Webb’s maverick work on the links between the CIA and Central American drug traffickers. Nov. 14–Dec. 14, Cutting Ball Theater, SF; www.cuttingball.com *

 

Pixilated joy

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SUPER SMASH BROS.

Platforms: 3DS/WiiU

Nintendo is ready to pull on our retro-gaming heartstrings yet again with the newest Super Smash Bros. The fan-service fighter pits four characters against each other in a battle royale, and the now-familiar Nintendo roster of Mario, Link, Starfox, Donkey Kong, and gang will be joined by new third party characters: the blue bomber, Megaman, and everyone’s favorite pellet muncher, Pac-Man. Online play and the ability to create your own fighters using the Wii and 3DS Mii system are enough to get any Nintendo geek doing a barrel roll for joy.

Release: 3DS, Oct. 3; WiiU, Holiday 2014

www.smashbros.com

 

CONFLICKS: REVOLUTIONARY SPACE BATTLES

Platforms: Windows/Mac OS/Linux

Leonardo Da Vinci has discovered a way to transmute egg yolk into a super-powerful golden substance that jump-starts human intelligence and allows the manipulation of space-time (like you do). This strange, wonderfully chicken-laden concept launches the French Revolution into space, as Renaissance-era kingdoms wage war in a Real Time Strategy-style game. It’s like Age of Empires meets Starcraft meets chickens. This is the game no one knew we wanted until we saw it enslave fowl, and launch to the stars. Bawk bawk bawk la revolucion!

Release: Fall 2014

http://artificestudio.com

 

WORLD OF DIVING

Platforms: PC/Mac OS

World of Diving is like a fish tank you can dive into, and just relax. It’s not a game in the traditional sense, rife with goals, action, or perilous adventure (though you must avoid the occasional shark). The game outfits the player in diving gear for a leisurely paddle through ocean reefs, sunken ships, and other underwater settings. Your mission? To look at the pretty fish, snap photos of them, and chill out. There are occasional checklists (how many lionfish can you find?), and the randomly generated maps are sure to keep things fresh, but this is definitely a placid affair. Bonus: The game is Oculus Rift compatible, if you want a dose of virtual reality swimming.

Release: Fall 2014 (demo available now)

www.divegame.net

 

THEATERRHYTHM FINAL FANTASY CURTAIN CALL: COLLECTOR’S EDITION

Platform: 3DS

The Final Fantasy series is known for its stellar orchestral compositions, so it’s surprising so few games in the series have centered around music. But now that historic injustice has ended! TheaterRhythm is a rhythm game (like Guitar Hero), centered entirely around chibi-versions of well-known Final Fantasy characters. Okay, it is a little strange to avenge the death of Aerith while battling Sephiroth using hip-swinging dance moves, but still … Chocobos, dancing! The quest mode spans most of Final Fantasy‘s 13-plus games, giving every FF fan music to jam to.

Release: Sept. 16

www.theatrhythm.com

 

CATLATERAL DAMAGE

Platforms: Linux, Mac OS, OUYA, Windows

The life of a cat seems easy, but this game will convince you otherwise. Cats have goals, dammit, and in Catlateral Damage you must knock over as many of your owner’s possessions as you can within the time allotted. Look, a perfectly whole coffee mug! It’s an obvious invitation for a swat of your paws. The satisfying crash signals gaming success. The demo, out now, features cel-shaded cartoon graphics à la Zelda: The Wind Waker, and your kitty avatar seems to be able to jump with super-feline prowess. But don’t hiss over the small stuff, because you’ll have too much fun swatting the big stuff, like that TV on the dresser.

Release: Fall/Winter 2014 (demo available now)

www.catlateraldamage.com *

 

Local movers

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arts@sfbg.com

FALL ARTS I wish somebody could come up with a better word than the ugly “locavore,” particularly since it was originally used for cattle. But the idea of eating locally-grown food is fabulous: it’s good for the environment, the wallet, and the state of one’s psyche. The same approach also rings true for the way we feed our spirits. Local artists seed, tend, and harvest a crop that needs and deserves our attention. The sheer variety of Bay Area-cultivated dance offerings this fall could make gluttons out of many of us. Here is a baker’s dozen to whet your appetite. All but a few are world premieres.

For The Imperfect is Our Paradise, Liss Fain Dance’s Liss Fain fashioned her choreography from the cadences of William Faulkner’s prose in The Sound and the Fury. Imperfect promises to be another of her translucently intelligent dances, here performed in designer Matthew Antaky’s reconfigured ODC Theater. Sept. 11-14, ODC Theater, SF; www.lissfaindance.org.

In This is the Girl, Christy Funsch of Funsch Dance Experience reaches out — big time. Known for her exquisite solos, Funsch steps back into ensemble work, with seven dancers, six taiko drummers, and a chorus of singers. Never fear, the core of this look at womanhood is still that wondrous partnership between Funsch and Nol Simonse. Sept. 12-14, Dance Mission Theater, SF; www.funschdance.org.

The world premiere of Multiple Mary and Invisible Jane, by Jo Kreiter’s Flyaway Productions, takes place on the exterior wall of the UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco’s Tenderloin. The work gives voice to the homeless women who live in the surrounding neighborhood, whose lives have become even more difficult because of San Francisco rapid gentrification. Multiple is another of Kreiter’s finely crafted, emotionally resonant choreographies that also serves the political and social aspirations so basic to her artistry. Sept. 12-20, 333 Golden Gate, SF; http://flyawayproductions.com.

Jose Navarrete and Debbie Kajiyama’s NAKA honors the late Anastasio Hernandez-Rojas with The Anastasio Project. Mexican citizen Hernandez-Rojas, a longtime US resident, died in 2010 after being taken into custody by the US Border Patrol after re-entering the country. For the multidisciplinary Anastasio, NAKA collaborated with the Oakland Eastside Arts Alliance, whose youth are subjected disproportionally to violence and discrimination — and sometimes lose their lives — in conflicts with authority. Two years in the making, NAKA’s project aimed to help these artists develop their own voices. Sept. 19-21, Eastside Arts Alliance, Oakl; http://nkdancetheater.com/anastasio.

Now with a permanent home at Kunst-Stoff, the Mark Foehringer Dance Project/SF has taken on its most ambitious project yet. Besides choreography, Dances of the Sacred and Profane inspired contributions from motion-capture and digital artists and electronic musicians. Dances offers a high-tech encounter with the French Impressionists — radicals in their own days. Sept. 13-14 and 19-21, Cowell Theater, SF; http://www.mfdpsf.org.

Besides being a choreographer for her own Push Dance Company, Raissa Simpson has also a well-defined entrepreneurial spirit. Following the adage that if you want something done, ask a busy person, Simpson put together a two-program “PUSHfest,” spotlighting artists she thought would mesh well together. The idea is to establish cross-cultural communication in a field where too often, you only go and see what you already know. Sept. 19-21, ODC Theater, SF; www.pushdance.org.

Joe Goode Performance Group is bringing back two radically different works that complement each other poignantly. What do they have in common? They speak of vulnerability, self-awareness, and longing. The 2008 Wonderboy, a collaboration with puppeteer Basil Twist, is tender, poetic, and musical. Goode’s solo 29 Effeminate Gestures, now performed by Melecio Estrella, dates back to 1987; it is fierce, proud, and angry. Sept. 25-Oct. 4, Z Space, SF; http://joegoode.org.

A few years ago kathak master Chitresh Das teamed very successfully with tap virtuoso Jason Samuel Smith. Watching and listening to them, you felt dance approaching a state of pure music. Now, in Yatra: Masters of Kathak and Flamenco, Das has perhaps found an even closer spirit in Antonio Hidalgo Paz, whose flamenco ancestors came to Europe from northern India. Sept. 27-28, Palace of Fine Arts, SF; www.kathak.org.

With Jenny McAllister’s 13th Floor Dance Theater, you never know what you’ll get — except that it’ll be wacky, with a skewed sense of humor. For A Wake, the company’s latest excursion into absurdity, McAllister draws inspiration from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. I have always been told that the book is a comedy, and perhaps now we’ll find out why. Oct. 16-19, ODC Theater, SF; www.13thfloordance.org.

Dohee Lee is a phenomenon unto herself. Steeped in Korean shamanistic traditions, masked and contemporary dancing, Korean-style drumming, and extended vocal techniques, she brings all of these into play in MAGO, an installation piece in which she looks at the upheaval created by developer of her home island, Jeju. Nov. 14-15, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SF; www.doheelee.com.

Both a scientist and a dancer, Katharine Hawthorne asks questions about time — via clocks geological, chronological, biological, and mythic — and the way it manifests itself in our physical bodies. For the intimate Pulse, she recorded her dancers’ heartbeats to explore how their internal senses of time related to external clock time. In The Escapement, she looks at the history of time-keeping, and the way it affects our sense of darkness and light. Nov. 20-23, ODC Theater, SF; www.khawthorne.net.

In its 40th year of teaching and performing, Diamano Coura West African Dance Company reminds us of Oakland’s importance as one of the country’s pre-eminent preservers of deeply held African and Pan-African cultural values. This year’s annual repertory concert includes a piece called M’Balsanney. Nov. 29-30, Laney College, Oakl; www.diamanocoura.org.

Former ODC dancer Private Freeman, who was a soldier and a dancer, inspired Deborah Slater Dance Theater’s world premiere, Private Life. Now in its 25th year, Slater’s company creates intelligently conceived and thoughtfully realized work that challenges established thinking on stage and off. Dec. 11-14, ODC Theater, SF; www.deborahslater.org. *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gearing up for war

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joe@sfbg.com

A tear gas canister explodes as citizens flee from the gun-toting warriors, safely guarded behind their armored vehicles. Dressed in patterned camo and body armor, they form a skirmish line as they fire projectiles into the crowd. Flash bang explosions echo down the city’s streets.

Such clashes between police and protesters have been common in Ferguson, Mo., in the past few weeks since the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed by a police officer. But it’s also a scene familiar to anyone from Occupy Oakland, where Iraq veteran Scott Olsen suffered permanent brain damage after police shot a less-than-lethal weapon into his head, or similar standoffs in other cities.

police embed 1As the country watched Ferguson police mobilize against its citizens while donning military fatigues and body armor and driving in armored vehicles, many began drawing comparisons to soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan — indeed, viral photos featuring side-by-side comparisons made it difficult to distinguish peace officers from wartime soldiers.

So how did law enforcement officers in police departments across the country come to resemble the military? And what impact is that escalation of armaments having on otherwise peaceful demonstrations? Some experts say the militarization of police actually encourages violence.

Since the ’90s, the federal Department of Defense has served as a gun-running Santa Claus for the country’s local police departments. Military surplus left over from wars in the Middle East are now hand-me-downs for local police across the country, including here in the Bay Area.

A grenade launcher, armored command vehicles, camera-mounted SWAT robots, mounted helicopter weapons, and military grade body armor — these are just some of the weapons and equipment obtained by San Francisco law enforcement agencies since the ’90s. They come from two main sources: the Department of Defense Excess Property Program, also known as the 1033 loan program, and a multitude of federal grants used to purchase military equipment and vehicles.

A recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union, “The War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing,” slammed the practice of arming local police with military gear. ACLU spokesperson Will Matthews told us the problem is stark in the Bay Area.

“There was no more profound example of this than [the response to] Occupy,” he told the Guardian. He said that military gear “serves usually only to escalate tensions, where the real goal of police is to de-escalate tension.”

The ACLU, National Lawyers Guild, and others are calling for less provocative weaponry in response to peaceful demonstrations, as well as more data to track the activities of SWAT teams that regularly use weaponry from the military.

The call for change comes as a growing body of research shows the cycle of police violence often begins not with a raised baton, but with the military-style armor and vehicles that police confront their communities with.

 

PREPARING FOR BATTLE

What motivation does the federal government have to arm local police? Ex-Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Stephen Downing told the Guardian, “I put this at the feet of the drug war.”

The initial round of funding in the ’90s was spurred by the federal government’s so-called War on Drugs, he said, and the argument that police needed weaponry to match well-armed gangs trafficking in narcotics. That justification was referenced in the ACLU’s report.

After 9/11, the desire to protect against unknown terrorist threats also spurred the militarization of police, providing a rationale for the change, whether or not it was ever justified. But a problem arises when local police start to use the tactics and gear the military uses, Downing told us.

When the LAPD officials first formed military-like SWAT teams, he said, “they always kept uppermost in their mind the police mission versus the military mission. The military has an enemy. A police officer, who is a peace officer, has no enemies.”

“The military aims to kill,” he said, “and the police officer aims to preserve life.”

And when police departments have lots of cool new toys, there is a tendency to want to use them.

When we contacted the SFPD for this story, spokesperson Albie Esparza told us, “Chief [Greg Suhr] will be the only one to speak in regards to this. He is not available for the next week or two. You may try afterwards.”

 

“CRAIGSLIST OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT”

Local law enforcement agencies looking to gear up have two ways to do it: One is free and the other is low-cost. The first of those methods has been heavily covered by national news outlets following the Ferguson protests: the Department of Defense’s 1033 loan program.

The program permanently loans gear from the federal government, with strings attached. For instance, local police can’t resell any weapons they’re given.

To get the gear, first an agency must apply for it through the national Defense Logistics Agency in Fort Belvoir, Va. In California, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services is the go-between when local police file grant applications to the DLA.

The bar to apply is low. A New Hampshire law enforcement agency applied for an armored vehicle by citing that community’s Pumpkin Festival as a possible terrorism target, according to the ACLU’s report. But the report shows such gear is more likely to be used against protestors or drug dealers than festival-targeting terrorists.

“It’s like the Craigslist of military equipment, only the people getting this stuff are law enforcement agencies,” Kelly Huston, a spokesperson of OEMS, told the Guardian. “They don’t have to pay for this equipment, they just have to come get it.”

Troublingly, where and why the gear goes to local law enforcement is not tracked in a database at the state level. The Guardian made a public records requests of the SFPD and the OEMS, which have yet to be fulfilled. Huston told us the OEMS is slammed with records requests for this information.

“The majority of the documents we have are paper in boxes,” Huston told us, describing the agency’s problem with a rapid response. “This is not an automated system.”

The Guardian obtained federal grant data through 2011 from the OEMS, but with a caveat: Some of the grants only describe San Francisco County, and not the specific agency that requested equipment.

Some data of police gear requested under the 1033 loan program up to 2011 is available thanks to records requests from California Watch. The New York Times obtained more recent 1033 loan requests for the entire country, but it does not delineate specific agencies, only states.

Available data shows equipment requested by local law enforcement, which gravitates from the benign to the frightening.

 

TOYS FOR COPS

An Armament Subsystem is one of the first weapons listed in the 1033 data, ordered by the SFPD in 1996. This can describe mounted machine guns for helicopters (though the SFPD informed us it has since disbanded its aero-unit). From 1995 to 1997, the SFPD ordered over 100 sets of fragmentation body armor valued at $45,000, all obtained for free. In 1996, the SFPD also ordered one grenade launcher, valued at $2,007.

Why would the SFPD need a grenade launcher in an urban setting? Chief Suhr wouldn’t answer that question, but Downing told us it was troubling.

“It’s a pretty serious piece of military hardware,” he said. “I’ll tell you a tiny, quick story. One of the first big deployments of SWAT (in Los Angeles) was the Black Panthers in the ’60s. They were holed up in a building, well armed and we knew they had a lot of weapons in there,” he said. “They barricaded the place with sandbags. Several people were wounded in the shooting, as I recall. The officers with military experience said the only way we’ll breach those sandbags and doors is with a grenade launcher.”

In those days, they didn’t have a grenade launcher at the ready, and had to go through a maze of official channels to get one.

“They had to go through the Governor’s Office to the Pentagon, and then to Camp Pendleton to get the grenade launcher,” Downing told us. “[The acting LAPD chief] said at the time, ‘Let’s go ahead and ask for it.’ It was a tough decision, because it was using military equipment against our citizens.”

But the chief never had to use the grenade launcher, Downing said. “They resolved the situation before needing it, and we said ‘thank god.'”

The grenade launcher was the most extreme of the equipment procured by local law enforcement, but there were also helicopter parts, gun sights, and multitudes of armored vehicles, like those seen in Ferguson.

By contrast, the grants programs are harder to track specifically to the SFPD, but instead encompass funds given to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the Sheriff’s Department, and even some schools. That’s because the grants cover not only allow the purchase of military surplus vehicles and riot gear, but also chemical protective suits and disaster-related supplies.

But much of the requested gear and training has more to do with active police work than emergency response.

San Francisco County agencies used federal loans to purchase $113,000 “command vehicles” (which are often armored). In 2010, the SFPD purchased a $5,000 SWAT robot (which often comes equipped with cameras and a remote control), as well as $15,000 in Battle Dress Uniforms, and $48,000 for a Mobile Communications Command Vehicle.

In 2008, the SFPD ordered a Bearcat Military Counterattack Vehicle for $306,000.

The Lenco website, which manufactures Bearcats, says it “may also be equipped with our optional Mechanical Rotating Turret with Cupola (Tub) and Weapon Ready Mounting System, suitable for the M60, 240B and Mark 19 weapons system.”

Its essentially an armored Humvee that can be mounted with rotating gun turrets.

police embed 2

Department of Homeland Security grants were used to purchase Type 2 Mobile Field Training, which Department of Homeland Security documentation describes as involving eight grenadiers, two counter-snipers, two prisoner transportation vans, and 14 patrol vehicles.

All told, the Bay Area’s many agencies were awarded more than $386 million in federal grants between 2008 and 2011, with San Francisco netting $48 million of those rewards. Through the 1033 loan program, San Francisco obtained over $1.4 million in federal surplus gear from 1995 to 2011.

But much of that was received under the radar, and with little oversight.

“Anytime they’re going to file for this equipment, we think the police should hold a public hearing,” Matthews, the ACLU spokesperson, told us.

In San Francisco, there is a public hearing for the procurement of military weapons, at the Police Commission. But a Guardian analysis of agenda documents from the commission shows these hearings are often held after the equipment has already been ordered.

Squeezed between a “status report” and “routine administrative business,” a March 2010 agenda from the commission shows a request to “retroactively accept and expend a grant in the amount of $1,000,000.00 from the U.S. Department of Justice.”

This is not a new trend. In 2007, the Police Commission retroactively approved three separate grants totaling over $2 million in funding from the federal government through the OEMS, which was then called the Emergency Management Agency.

Police Commission President Anthony Mazzucco did not respond to the Guardian’s emails requesting an interview before our press time, but one thing is clear: The SFPD requests federal grants for military surplus, then sometimes asks the Police Commission to approve the funding after the fact.

Many are already critiquing this call to arms, saying violent gear begets violent behavior.

 

PROVOCATIVE GEAR

A UC Berkeley sociologist, with his small but driven team and an army of automatic computer programs, are now combing more than 8,000 news articles on the Occupy movement in search of a pattern: What causes police violence against protesters, and protester violence against police?

Nicholas Adams and his team, Deciding Force, already have a number of findings.

“The police have an incredible ability to set the tone for reactions,” Adams told us. “Showing up in riot gear drastically increases the chances of violence from protesters. The use of skirmish lines also increases chances of violence.”

Adams’s research uses what he calls a “buffet of information” provided by the Occupy movement, allowing him to study over 200 cities’ police responses to protesters. Often, as in Ferguson, protesters were met by police donned in equipment and gear resembling wartime soldiers.

Rachel Lederman is a warrior in her own right. An attorney in San Francisco litigating against police for over 20 years, and now the president of the National Lawyers Guild Bay Area chapter, she’s long waged legal war against police violence.

Lederman is quick to note that the SFPD in recent years has been much less aggressive than the Oakland Police Department, which injured her client, Scott Olsen, in an Occupy protest three years ago.

“If you compare OPD with the San Francisco Police on the other side of the bay,” she told us, “the SFPD do have some impact munitions they bring at demonstrations, but they’ve never used them.”

Much of this is due to the SFPD’s vast experience in ensuring free speech, an SFPD spokesperson told us. San Francisco is a town that knows protests, so the SFPD understands how to peacefully negotiate with different parties beforehand to ensure a minimum of hassle, hence the more peaceful reaction to Occupy San Francisco.

Conversely, in Oakland, the Occupy movement was met by a hellfire of tear gas and flash bang grenades. Protesters vomited into the sidewalk from the fumes as others bled from rubber bullet wounds.

But some protesters the Guardian talked to noted that the night SFPD officers marched on Occupy San Francisco, members of the city’s Board of Supervisors and other prominent allies stood between Occupiers and police, calling for peace. We may never know what tactics the SFPD would have used to oust the protesters without that intervention.

As Lederman pointed out, the SFPD has used reactive tactics in other protests since.

“We’ve had some problems with SFPD recently, so I’m reluctant to totally praise them,” she said, recalling a recent incident where SFPD and City College police pepper-sprayed one student protester, and allegedly broke the wrists and concussed another. Photos of this student, Otto Pippenger, show a black eye and many bruises.

In San Francisco, a city where protesting is as common as the pigeons, that is especially distressing.

“It’s an essential part of democracy for people to be able to demonstrate in the street,” Lederman said. “If police have access to tanks, and tear gas and dogs, it threatens the essential fabric of democracy.”

Waiting for answers

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rebecca@sfbg.com

As word spread to San Francisco that police in Ferguson, Mo., were taking reporters into custody and firing tear gas at demonstrators outraged by the death of Mike Brown, a small group of writers and organizers with ties to the Mission District was gearing up to hold street demonstrations of its own.

On Aug. 21 and 22, they staged vigils and a march and rally in memory of a different shooting victim: Alejandro (“Alex”) Nieto, who died suddenly in Bernal Heights Park on March 21 after being struck by a volley of police bullets.

Despite palpable anger expressed during the events held to mark five months since Nieto’s death, it was a far cry from the angry demonstrations unleashed on the streets of Ferguson, where it was like something stretched too far and snapped.

People who knew Nieto gathered for a sunset vigil in Bernal Heights Park at the place where he was killed. They returned the following morning for a sunrise vigil, incorporating a spiritual element with Buddhist chanting. Hours later, in a march preceded by dancers who spun in the streets, donning long feathered headdresses and ankle rattles made out of hollowed tree nuts, they progressed from Bernal Hill to the San Francisco Federal Building.

Despite a visible police mobilization, the protests remained peaceful, with little interaction between officers and demonstrators. Instead, the focus remained on the contents of a civil rights complaint filed Aug. 22 by attorney John Burris, famous for his track record of representing victims of police violence.

Burris, who is representing Nieto’s parents, said he rejected the SFPD’s explanation of why officers were justified in discharging their weapons and killing Nieto. “What we will seek to do is to vindicate his interests, his good name, and to show through the evidence that the narrative put forth by the police was just flat-out wrong,” Burris said at the rally.

Nieto’s encounter with police arose because a 911 caller erroneously reported that he had a black handgun, leading police to enter the park in search of a gunman. In reality, Nieto possessed a Taser, not a firearm. On the night he was killed, he’d gone to the park to eat a burrito just before starting his shift as a part-time security guard at a nightclub, where all the guards carry Tasers. In addition to working at that job, Nieto, who was 28, had been studying administration of justice at City College of San Francisco in hopes of becoming a youth probation officer.

Days after the shooting, police said Nieto had pointed his Taser at officers when they approached. At a March 26 town hall meeting convened shortly after the incident, Police Chief Greg Suhr told attendees that Nieto had “tracked” officers with his Taser, emitting a red laser.

“When the officers asked him to show his hands, he drew the Taser from the holster. And these particular Tasers, as soon as they’re drawn, they emit a dot. A red dot,” Suhr said, adding that Nieto had verbally challenged officers when they asked him to drop his weapon. “When the officers saw the laser sight on them, tracking, they believed it to be a firearm, and they fired at Mr. Nieto.”

Yet attorney Adante Pointer, of Burris’s law office, told the Bay Guardian that a person claiming to be an eyewitness to the shooting has come forward with a different account. The witness, whose identity Pointer did not disclose, said he never saw Nieto draw his Taser and did not hear any verbal exchange prior to bullets being fired.

“To suggest that he’d engaged in the most ridiculous outrageous conduct, of pointing a … Taser at the police when they had guns drawn, is insulting,” Burris said at the rally.

The version of events included in the complaint, which Pointer said was based in part on witness accounts, differs greatly from the SFPD account.

“An SFPD patrol car entered the park and drove up a fire trail before stopping approximately 75 to 100 feet away from Mr. Nieto who at that time was casually walking down the jogging trail to the park’s entrance,” Burris’ complaint states. “Two officers emerged from the patrol car and immediately took cover using their car for protection. Several other officers had also gathered on the jogging path, appeared to be carrying rifle-type guns and were positioned behind Mr. Nieto. One of the officers behind the patrol car called out and ordered Mr. Nieto to ‘stop.’ Within seconds a quick volley of bullets were fired at Mr. Nieto. No additional orders or any other verbal communication was heard between the first officer yelling ‘stop’ and the initial volley of gunfire that rang out.”

SFPD spokesperson Albie Esparza told us the department was unable comment on the matter because “anytime there’s a lawsuit, we cease to speak to anybody about that.”

Adriana Camarena, an author and Mission District resident who helped organize the rally, decried the lack of transparency surrounding the Nieto case in comments delivered outside the Federal Building.

“For five months, city officials have kept sealed all records that could explain what happened on March 21 2014,” Camarena charged. “For five months, SFPD, the Police Commission, the District Attorney’s Office, the Medical Examiner’s Office, and the mayor have maintained in secrecy the names of the four officers who killed Alex Nieto, the original 911 calls, eyewitness reports, the number of bullets fired, and the autopsy report. For five months, the Nieto family has been kept in the dark about the facts that could ease some of their trauma about what happened the day that police killed their son.”

Mike Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson on Aug. 9. On Aug. 11, following angry demonstrations, police said they would release the name of the officer who shot Brown — but declined to do so Aug. 12, citing fears over the officer’s safety and threats communicated via social media. Yet on Aug. 15, Officer Darren Wilson was identified by officials as the person who shot Brown.

In San Francisco, the names of the four officers who shot Nieto have not been released. Esparza told the Guardian that this was because “there’s specified credible threats against the officers’ lives,” citing a Supreme Court ruling determining that law enforcement agencies can withhold this information under such circumstances.

In addition to the federal civil complaint, friends and supporters of Nieto delivered a petition with almost 1,000 signatures to the U.S. Department of Justice, calling for a federal investigation into the shooting.

Multiple investigations are underway at the local level, but have been stalled due to one missing piece: an autopsy report to be issued by the San Francisco Medical Examiner. Despite the delay in releasing the formal autopsy results, “We did see the body and we did take photographs of it,” Burris noted, referring to his office’s review of the body after it was released to Nieto’s family for burial. Based on that review, Burris said attorneys determined that Nieto had been shot by police more than 10 times.

We placed multiple phone calls to the offices of the Medical Examiner and the District Attorney seeking details about the status of the investigation and to ask about the delay, but received no response.

However Bill Barnes, a spokesperson for the City Administrator’s Office, which the Medical Examiner’s Office reports to, told us the timing of the report is consistent with that of other complex homicide investigations. Barnes added that the Medical Examiner’s Office is waiting on the results of a second toxicology report. The initial results were inconclusive, he said, so another round of testing was initiated.

But that explanation does little to quell the anger of activists who say the SFPD is merely seeking to cover up an unjustified shooting. Pointer said he could see no reason for information being withheld for five months.

“There’s no reason as to why the information that this family deserves as to how their son — our brother, our friend, our leader, our organizer — met his death,” he said at the rally. “There’s just no reason why that story hasn’t been told. If you, the police department, had been justified, why not be transparent? Why not open up your files and let us inspect it so that we can see that what you’re saying is the truth?”