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Hot times

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By Steven T. Jones
I finally got around to seeing An Inconvenient Truth on Friday night, just as the realities of global warming couldn’t be more clear. It was downright balmy at 10 pm when I stepped out of the theater and the weekend only got hotter from there, breaking heat records all over the country. I spent Sunday with my kids in Modesto and endured 115 degree heat, the kinda weather that convinces some bodies to simply drop dead. And it’s only going to get worse, a truth both incontrovertible and inconvenient to our status quo political and media establishment, which love to mock progressive voices like the Guardian who urge radical change. Even here in San Francisco, we’re still fighting about whether to facilitate bicycling and other measures that discourage driving cars. It’s maddening. Sup. Ross Mirkarimi will this Friday at 1:30 hold a hearing on Peak Oil before LAFCO — which will likely be belittled by the Chron and the Ex’s resident blowhard Ken Garcia. They prefer small potatoes BS like clean streets and playing nice with downtown and love to mock supervisors who talk about war, human rights, or saving the planet. But in the absence of leadership at the state and federal levels on the most important issues of the day, maybe it does become incumbent on San Francisco to step up and lead. Maybe radical proposals have become the most reasonable. And for the rest of us, even the small stuff will help.

Hot times

0

By Steven T. Jones
I finally got around to seeing An Inconvenient Truth on Friday night, just as the realities of global warming couldn’t be more clear. It was downright balmy at 10 pm when I stepped out of the theater and the weekend only got hotter from there, breaking heat records all over the country. I spent Sunday with my kids in Modesto and endured 115 degree heat, the kinda weather that convinces some bodies to simply drop dead. And it’s only going to get worse, a truth both incontrovertible and inconvenient to our status quo political and media establishment, which love to mock progressive voices like the Guardian that urge radical change. Even here in San Francisco, we’re still fighting about whether to facilitate bicycling and other measures that discourage driving cars. It’s maddening. Sup. Ross Mirkarimi will this Friday at 1:30 hold a hearing on Peak Oil before LAFCO — which will likely be belittled by the Chron and the Ex’s resident blowhard Ken Garcia. They prefer small potatoes BS like clean streets and playing nice with downtown and love to mock supervisors who talk about war, human rights, or saving the planet. But in the absence of leadership at the state and federal levels on the most important issues of the day, maybe it does become incumbent on San Francisco to step up and lead. Maybe radical proposals have become the most reasonable. And for the rest of us, even the small stuff will help.

Now, this is really lame

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By Tim Redmond
Everyone knows that the East Bay Express and the SF Weekly are owned by Village Voice Media (formerly New Times), but this weeks editions were a sign of what that sort of industry consolidation can mean for readers. The cover story in the Express? A profile of talk-show host Michael Savage by Ron Russel. The cover story in the SF Weekly? A profile of Michael Savage by Ron Russel.

I know that for years, NT/VVM headquarters in Phoenix has been pushing the members of its chain — there are 17 now — to share stories as a way of saving money. But we’ve never actually seen a shared cover story in the Bay Area before.

The art is slightly different, and so is the headline, but come on: The same cover story on two papers that circulate in the same market area? That’s really lame.

(Even sfist, which ranks the local weeklies every week, took these guys to task.)

fave new graffito

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This morn, after weathering a couple of the worst car commercials I’d ever seen in my nightmares: Hummer’s “Restore Your Manhood” campaign which features a guy embarrassed by buying tofu running out to buy a Hummer, followed by Chrysler’s “cleaner vehicles” ad which features SUVs tearing up a local ecosystem — I emerged into the sunlight to be greeted by my new favorite graffito: a sticker on the SFBG box on my corner that reads “Obscure Pop Culture Reference.” Drive it home! — Marke B.

Dam telling debate

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By Steven T. Jones
The debate over whether to tear down the O’Shaughnessy Dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley — which a state report this week concluded is possible, but with a prohibitive price tag of up to $10 billion — is interesting for what it says about the power and perils of activist journalism, particularly when the big boys deign to practice it. Despite their current revisionist history, the San Francisco Chronicle pushed hard for the construction of this dam 100 years ago (waging a nasty smear campaign against John Muir and other conservationists in the process — read Gray Brechin’s great book Imperial San Francisco for the whole story). Then, as now, that paper and its downtown allies wanted growth at any cost. But today, it is another newspaper crusade that has propelled forward the riduculous notion of spending needed billions of dollars to undo a historical error. The Sacramento Bee and its associate editorial writer Tom Philip turned the idea of some environmentalists and studies by UC Davis in a full-blown offensive to tear down the dam, in the process winning a Pulitzer Prize and convincing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to order the study that came out this week.
Now, just imagine if we could get the media mega-corporations to put this kind of effort into eliminating poverty, reducing American militarism and police state excesses, creating socialized medicine, or any of a long list of important social and economic justice concerns, rather than pursuing sentimental pipe dreams. Then we might start making real progress.
Instead, we’re left with the latest skirmish in the age-old Sacramento-San Francisco rivalry.

Bush’s two loves

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A wonderful campaign poster for one of my least favorite Democrats, Joe Lieberman, who is in a serious primary challenge in Connecticut.

liebadmerkel.JPG

Zeitgeist

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By Steven T. Jones
Zeitgeist, in addition to being my satellite office, is an aptly named bar. The place and the people it attracts seem to capture the spirit of our troubled times, drawing together counterculture rebels and many of the cogs in the very machines that we are fighting against (albeit usually young people striving to stay hip despite their day jobs).
After a few days worth of a running e-mail argument with SFSOS’s Ryan Chamberlin about his ridiculous but successful efforts to stop a pot club from locating in his Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood, it was weird to bump into him at Zeitgeist. We rarely see eye-to-eye about anything politically, but we each try not to hold grudges and share an appreciation for the Zeitgeist…as well as this bar.
So we continued our e-argument face-to-face over beers. He likes the wholesomeness of red states and wants there to be little red enclaves in San Francisco, free from pot clubs and other undesirable elements. Ya know, for “the children.” I argue that he’s being moralistic, judgmental, and unrealistically trying to control things beyond his control.
Soon, some guy next to us was leaning into the conversation, and when I asked where he stood on the question, he backed me up. But then he got a mischievous smile on his face when I asked for his story. “I work in the White House,” he said, to which I replied for both of their benefits, “Well, you guys should get along great.”
They didn’t, but he and I did. Well, from there it got curiouser and curiouser, they say, as my new friend (whose identity I confirmed, but will protect for now), his buddy, and I headed down the rabbit hole of discussing at length American empire, international law, Iraq, war crimes, and impeachment – all with a White House lawyer, around my age of 37, who is directly involved with all these questions. He’s a careerist who just happened to fall in with the neocons, and he shared my belief in the malevolence of characters like Dick Cheney, but he still believes that only American power, exerting globally on people whether they like it or not, can fix this almost hopeless situation our country has created for itself.
And I came away feeling like all of us, from local activists and journalists to those controlling the levers of power, are just bumbling our way through life, pretending like we know what we’re doing and trying not to fuck things up worse than they were before. Maybe that is the modern American Zeitgeist.

“Guardians” of the universe

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By Cheryl Eddy

Coming soon to a theater near you … it’s The Guardian!

Before you (or we) get too excited, the Internet Movie Database lists no less than ten films and/or TV shows with that same title (including William Friedkin’s legendarily derided version … there are nannies, there are Druids). The latest Guardian is a Coast Guard thriller from the action-obsessed director of The Fugitive (not to mention multiple entries in the Steven Seagal canon); it stars Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner, who’s clearly in violation of his post-Waterworld no-movies-set-on-large-bodies-of-water bargain with the celluloid gods.

There’s no official site yet for this Buena Vista Pictures (read: Disney, currently drowning in mad Pirates booty) release, but our latest li’l cinematic namesake is currently slated for a September 29 release. Until then, you too can admire the huge cardboard stand-up trumpeting this soon-to-be-classic, now on view in the Metreon lobby.

Bush the groper

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By Tim Redmond

And this is truly special. Bush thinks it’s just fine to suddenly start groping the German chancellor ….

Bumper sticker of the week

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By Tim Redmond

Yes, it’s sick, but it’s disturbingly appropriate (from DailyKos)

“maybe all the peace-loving Israelis and Palestinians should get together and kill all the ones who keep fighting.”

Fire…cool

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By Scribe
Tis the season to burn bright, what with all the fire arts festivals and other events leading up to Burning Man’s 20th anniversary. And burners have definitely been stepping things up recently. A couple months ago, San Francisco and Black Rock LLC (the group that stages the event) teamed up to throw an amazing fire arts festival at Candlestick Park, going bigger than the Crucible in Oakland usually does for its annual Fire Arts Festival with a stage of great acts, cutting edge pyrotechnics, and, of course, amazing fire spewing contraptions. Well, Michael Sturtz and his Crucible crew accepted that challenge and blew up this weekend’s festival to crazy proportions. This place was just GOING OFF! San Francisco’s Flaming Lotus Girls showed why they’re still queen of the hill with the debut of their new project: Serpent Mother (OK, perhaps I’m a little biased). And the festival’s stage rocked with the Mutaytor, a fantastic entrance and performance by the Extra Action Marching Band, super fresh fire dancing by the San Francisco Fire Conclave, and Dr. Megavolt and friends rockin’ the Tesla coils. I was already excited about this year’s Burning Man — now, it’s all I can do to not want to flee to the desert immediately. The man burns in 48 days. How are your preparations going?

Lawsuit over newspaper merger

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By Steven T. Jones
Big but buried news from today’s Examiner: Clint Reilly (with help from attorney Joseph Alioto) is suing to block the big newspaper merger that put most Bay Areas rags under the tight-fisted control of MediaNews (and the unsettling business partnership role in the Hearst Corp., owner of the Chronicle, in the deal). This is a still developing big deal that we’ll have more on next week, but in the meantime, here’s where you can access lots of stories on a business deal that’s bad for journalism in the Bay Area and beyond.

Bazillion $$ idea of the day

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To have a bicycle-like contraption under your desk that you have to pedal to keep your monitor/screen lit. It could have different gears for challenge and variety. It could be called a Screen Master or a Moniped or something. This handy device would keep your blood flowing and allow you to burn some googling calories. It could even store up energy in a battery for later use. Plus: all the folks who obsessively cruise online dating sites and Myspace would get better bodies. Maybe we wouldn’t want this at work tho…. somebody call Ron Popeil!

“Oympic Dreams”

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By Sarah Phelan

Gotta love that unfortunate “Oympic” typo on the front page of the Chronicle’s article about Mayor Gavin Newsom and the Olympics.

Especially since “oympic” is an anagram for “Myopic”.

Oymp, oymp.

Olympic dreams

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By Steven T. Jones
So, Mayor Gavin Newsom tells the dailies that San Francisco is going to pull out all the stops to snag the 2016 Olympics, using Hunter’s Point to house the athletes and staging the games at a delux Candlestick Park (ie public subsidies for the 49ers new stadium). No wonder so many people worried that the new Bayview Hunter’s Point Redevelopment Area might be used to line the pockets of big corporations and developers instead of benefitting the people of the southeast. But Newsom tries some win-win spin by offering to let poor folks have the 4,000 apartments he wants to build when the athletes are all done — 10 years from now. A question: if we have the resources to build a bunch of publicly subsidized apartments, why don’t we do so now? Make no mistake, this is about our mayor’s ego and political ambitions more than the interests of city residents, particularly those of the southeast, which have already endured more than their share of capitalism’s hidden costs.

“Come into my parlor, said the spider…etc.”

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By Cheryl Eddy

Kudos to Peaches Christ and the Midnight Mass gang for, like, totally freaking us out with this past weekend’s excellently trashy Beyond the Valley of the Dolls event. (Read our breathless pre-show coverage here.)

The Whoa Nellies kicked off the show with Carrie Nations covers, including a smokin’ “Sweet Talkin’ Candy Man,” and Peaches’ Z-Man ensemble was to die for (and maybe even cut heads off for). In attendance: the quite well-preserved trio of Marcia “Petronella” McBroom, Erica “Roxanne” Gavin, and the original Z-Man himself, John La Zar (a San Francisco native, as it turns out).

The Friday night crowd was awesome, as Midnight Mass crowds always are…the film looked spectacular on the big screen, as it always does.

P.S. In case you were wondering (and you know you were), the most famous boobs ever to appear in a Russ Meyer movie — yep, Z-Man’s! — are now framed and hanging on McBroom’s NYC living room wall.

After the game

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By Steven T. Jones
I just wanted to throw in an “amen brother” to Tim’s post below about the great coming-together of community at Dolores Park yesterday for the World Cup finals. It was a glorious day and half the staff here have sunburns and hangovers from attending. It was the ideal antidote to the city’s recent crackdowns on public fun. But in addition to our German hosts and the hordes of happy fans, one other group deserves a shout-out: the Space Cowboys. They kept a party of thousands rocking for hours after the game ended, turning the park into a fun outdoor dance party and serving up a subtle reminder that it’s Burning Man season in San Francisco. Theme camp applications were due July 1, so much of the city’s counterculture has officially divided up into tribes working on building Black Rock City on the event’s 20th birthday in late August.
I’ll have more to come on Burning Man throughout the summer, so check back.

Unsportsmanlike behavior

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By Tim Redmond

The Chron picked up the New York Times story on the world cup, by Jere Longman, which includes this line:”star midfielder Zinedine Zidane was ejected in overtime for committing an astonishing act of unsportsmanlike behavior.” Longman later described the head-butt as “a flagrant abuse of any notion of fair play and perhaps permanently stained a soccer career that many considered to be the world’s pre-eminent of the past 20 years.”

I mean, hasn’t Longman ever been to a hockey game?? Or a real soccer game?

I wouldn’t give Monseiur Zidane any medals for sportsmanship, but come on. In the annals of sports history, this was pretty modest stuff.

World cup. Dolores Park. Amazing

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By Tim Redmond

That was one great party Sunday in Dolores Park. Some former teacher from Germany named Jens-Peter Jungclaussen organized it, and with nothing (as far as I could tell) except word-of-mouth and email promotion, at least 10,000 people showed up.

So yeah, soccer has hit the big time in San Francisco. But I have to wonder: why did some guy whose life’s work is called Teacher With the Bus have to organize this? What do they do all day at the Department of Recreation and Parks, anyway?