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Pixel Vision

Oh, Marc…


The secret fantasy straight from the deepest, darkest part of every mad shopper’s heart — your favorite designer opens a boutique right down the street from your humble hovel. That came true last week for me and oodles of other Asian American fashionistas from the Richmond when the new Marc by Marc Jacobs boutique threw open its doors at Fillmore and Sacramento on May 3. Guess who’ll get first dibs at the clearance rack? Bliss!

Flag waving and nose thumbing. Photo: Kimberly Chun

The storefront was filled with a vaguely Ralph Lauren-ish red, white, and blue quasi-patriotic motif that nonetheless jabbed boldly at the “worst president in history.” Take that Pac Heights Republicans! Preppies with newscaster hair feigned dismay at the Hillary Clinton T-shirt in the window.

That didn’t stop the richies from wallowing in the conspicuous consumption when I dropped by the former Mike furniture store last weekend to check Jacobs’ sportswear offerings. A massive black Hummer limo was parked in the bus stop out front, and dozens of stylin’ Chinese American ladies were racing around within. Dusky pink, mauve, and denim blue duds were dropped on the floor faster than the smooth, black-haired hipster clerks could scoop them up, and the moneyed matrons dived into bins of bargain T’s.

The decor was somewhat reminiscent of early Esprit warehouse. (How are you supposed to actually see the clothes when they’re so tightly crammed on the rail?) But oh the sales, the sales…. the guys had it good with $5 boxers, $25 cords, and baby soft $10 T-shirts emblazoned with cartoon rats wearing “Marc Who?” shirts. Self-mocking — I like.

Best buys for women: tchotchkes like those cute pink and orange acorn-shaped charm bracelets and hair accessories marked down from $60 or so to …$5! Makes your inner bargain-hunter’s brain explode. Also adorable and highly affordable: candy-colored rubber rat key chains ($1), band-aid dispensers ($1), and brightly hued, fingerless new wave striped gloves ($5). It’s a big tent — go on in.

Wine Rave Cancelled!


I can’t believe it — Napa’s long-anticipated 3-hour “Wine Rave” has been cancelled! I wrote so movingly about the anticipation here.

“We apologize for any inconvenience. Due to a scheduling conflict, COPIA’s May 13th Wine Rave has been postponed until further notice.” These are words that broke my heart. What could the possible scheduling conflict be? Is Robert Goulet making a surprise Copia concert appearance? He’s a raver, isn’t he? Isn’t he? This sucks.


On the “Con” with cartoonist Daniel Clowes


It was so much fun talking to Eightball cartoonist and Ghost World and now Art School Confidential writer Daniel Clowes –- and so much conversation was left on the cutting room floor that I thought I’d resurrect a few choice tidbits here.

Max Minghella (left) sports a mean beret in Art School Confidential.

Bay Guardian: How did you get into the minds of teenage girls with Ghost World?

Daniel Clowes: I don’t know. I remember one day I did an interview with [Hate cartoonist] Peter Bagge, and they transcribed it word for word. Usually they’ll fix up our syntax and everything, but really it was like two teenage girls talking. It was really gossipy, “And then I went and she goes,” you know. I said to him, “We really sound like two teenage girls,” and he said, “Yeah, haven’t you ever noticed that that’s how we are.” And I thought, “Hmmm, ching-ching! Maybe I can make a fortune!”

BG: Maybe the differences aren’t that stark between teenage girls and older men?

DC: I think men have the maturity of a teenage girl when they’re about 30. I think that’s sadly true.

BG: And before then they have the maturity of…?

DC: A fetus. Yeah. To me, I had a revelation of those girls in high school, that’s why that girl cried at that time! You think back and think, now I get why they were like that! Now I’m at a 25-year-old maybe. At a certain point, women slow down and men get overly mature and turn into little old men. I think I’ve gone past that stage. [Laughs]

BG: On the other hand, the Steve Buscemi character in Ghost World seems like a character straight out of Terry Zwigoff’s Crumb.

DC: We thought of Steve Buscemi and just we kept expanding the character. There are a lot of great scenes that Terry wrote that we didn’t use that I wish we’d filmed. Just pointless scenes that had funny moments from his life, like we had one at an antique collectors’ faire. It was pre-eBay. Enid was like, “There’s a place where you’re going to meet a girl!” And it’s 600 overweight men, and this one woman, and she’s like this grotesque ‘20s flapper. I was reading it recently and laughing my head off, thinking, oh I wish to god we had filmed this. Totally inappropriate for the movie.

[We talk about how the movie might be scary for Clowes’ 2-year-old son, Charlie, and films that frightened Clowes like The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T]

BG: Do you cherish those movies like 5,000 Fingers, which scarred you?

DC: I was traumatized yet couldn’t wait to see it again. I was talking to some of my friends about this recently. Nowadays any movie you hear about. You just get it on Netflicks or rent it, or whatever. Soon it will be a computer click away. When we were kids, Night of the Living Dead or something was on, we’d hear about it and we’d scour the TV guide, and there it is, it’s at 2 in the morning on Thursday, and we’d have to sneak downstairs and not let our parents know and watch it really close to the screen so you could hear the sound. You were all alone but you had this weird communal feeling, like my friends are across town doing the same thing. And it was so much more exciting and it was charged with something. Its gone for me totally now. Now I’ll just Tivo it, and watch it whenever. I remember staying up late to watch the Wolfman or something. Literally, like, holding my eyelids open — so tired! “Gotta get through it! Gotta tell my friends that I saw the ending!” I don’t know, it’s gone.

BG: Whatever happened to Ghost World’s Thora Birch?

DC: She was a child actress, and did stuff from the time was a 2 or 3 years old, and it’s so much money. She didn’t seem that gung-ho about doing all that stuff. She’s like, “I can live without it.” She always said, “I never get scripts like Ghost World.”

BG: You ruined her for other movies.

DC: That’s our goal. Trying to destroy as many young talents as we can.

BG: Max Minghella in Art School Confidential is also great.

DC: We were friends with producer of Bee Season — Terry has known him for years. It was that old story you always hear and you never believe: We looked at a hundred actors and we literally looked at every single actor you’ve heard of or never heard of under 20. It’s just post-child actor, pre-adult actor. So it’s this very iffy area. It’s this awkward age because they change and they’re not who they were.

This producer said there’s this guy Max – he’s really good. and we met him and it just hit us right away, there he is. There’s Jerome. He was finally the guy we felt right about. Bee Season was first film he had ever done, and we gave him a lead in a feature, second time out. He’s a great guy — most kids that age are really arrogant and obnoxious and he’s just the sweetest, nicest, most modest guy. He was exactly 18 also. We always hit these guys at the right age.

BG: Young and impressionable!

DC: Yeah so we can mold them to our own devious ends! We were desperate to find somebody who was innocent and had sort of a charming quality but take it in this dark direction and not let the darkness kind of dominate him. It’s a very tough part – it’s all about who you really are.

BG: What about the other parts in Art School?

DC: John Malkovich produced Ghost World, and he said, “Next time give me a part.” “Oh we didn’t know you wanted one.” That’s the only part I ever wrote with an actor in mind.

Jim Broadbent was Terry’s idea. At first I thought that’s a very weird idea, but then actually it was pure genius. In the script it was supposed to be a very American guy, a Jerry Van Dyke or something. Someone who you know as being a real friendly, avuncular guy, but is seething with anger underneath. I once saw Jerry Van Dyke get really pissed off in a restaurant in LA — his hair was pure white and his face turned all red. That’s what gave me the idea.

BG: Speaking of your son, do you have an urge to do a children’s film or comic?

DC: No, I really don’t at all. I did a thing once, Art Speigelman did a thing once called Little Lit, kids’ stories, and I did a thing for it that was just not something I felt good about. It was not my way of thinking at all. I can’t censor what I’m doing. I just can’t think in terms of this is inappropriate for an 8 year old, so I better change it.

I do drawings for my son all the time but it’s not something I ever want to publish. People always say, “Oh, I wanna do a children’s book,” and I always thought, “Why? Why would you want to do that? Don’t you want adults to read your work.” [Laughs]


Longer discussions with the two artists who contributed paintings to Art School Confidential: his old friend Charles Schneider, who painted the serial killer’s workers, and Oakland painter and SF Art Institute instructor Caitlin Mitchell-Dayton, who made the protagonist Jerome’s pieces.

Festival decompress


The last few days of the San Francisco International Film Festival usually have a calmer quality, perhaps even more so this year, in the wake of a second weekend “Super Saturday” that bounced from big events such as talks with Jean-Claude Carriere and Tilda Swinton to the wild ’round-midnight screening of the cave-expedition-gone-horribly-wrong nightmare The Descent. (Scariest movie I’ve seen in years, and the characterizations, such as Natalie Mendoza’s Juno, are evocative.)


Yet early on Monday the SFIFF intensity level was high, as The Bridge screened to a packed house at the Kabuki. While I haven’t sorted out the intense emotions and serious ethical issues triggered by Eric Steel’s controversial movie – aspects of the post-screening discussion and some of his decisions as a filmmaker really troubled me, for a start – I can say that there is no film quite like it. Jenni Olson’s The Joy of Life has other roots in relation to the subject, but a recent song on Sleater-Kinney’s The Woods, much of the revived interest in the art and life of Golden Gate suicide Weldon Kees, and now Steel’s documentary all attest to the lingering potency of Tad Friend’s late 2003 New Yorker piece “Jumpers.”


Those with unmatched pain thresholds could have followed up an early Monday Bridge viewing with the second Descent screening. I saw A Short Film About the Indio Nacional (or The Prolonged Sorrow of Filipinos) and was struck by the film’s daring and often exquisite shifts in tone, as well as a very particular approach to late 19th century Filipino history. An early diegetic sound scene brings across the experience of insomnia like no movie I’ve seen, before young director Raya Martin makes a sudden jump into a wholly different (or is it?) realm of black-and-white silent pictorial storytelling. I’m hoping to interview Martin here later this week.

Other SFIFF quick hits or misses…“I hated it!” was one local filmmaker’s immediate response to Deerhoof’s live score for Harry Smith’s Heaven and Earth Magic. But a few days later, a different SF moviemaker testified their eternal love for the band when that program was mentioned. I fell between those two responses, sometimes enjoying the band’s approach but just as often wondering if the sound was trapped in mannerism rather than the alchemical realm Smith deserves. As for Werner Herzog in interview the night previous, truer words about Anna Nicole and the “mainstream” have never been spoken.

Sign language


This just in: whoremongering club kid, Polaroid artist, and dear, dear friend Darwin Bell is part of a Cinco de Mayo art show at Artist Xchange in the Mission on May 5, 7 p.m. -10 p.m. His Polaroid art, which consists of pictures of words he finds in the course of his street adventures pulled together into slyly poignant punditry, has really taken off of late. All the cool kids want a piece. Since I’m so used to finding Darwin just this side of passing out at the club, it’s nice to see him expressing himself through pictures. (Just kidding, baby!). Stop in on Friday to take in all the fuss.


Spangled tongues


O’zog, kenstu sehn, wen bagin licht dervacht,
Vos mir hoben bagrist in farnachtigen glihen?
Die shtreifen un shtern, durch shreklicher nacht,
Oif festung zich hoiben galant un zich tsein?
Yeder blitz fun rocket, yeder knal fun kanon,
Hot bawizen durch nacht: az mir halten die Fohn!
O, zog, tzi der “Star Spangled Banner” flatert in roim,
Ueber land fun die freie, fun brave die heim!

Forget Spanish, it’s the national anthem in Yiddish, as translated by Dr. Abraham Asen in 1943, in commemoration of the centenary of Francis Scott Key’s death. Honey, ya just gotta love it.

Sorta corny Copia


So this weekend Hunky Beau and I hitched it up to Napa to dine with the ‘rents at Copia, the giant food-wine-museum-garden “experience” launched by Robert Mondavi (with some star power oof from Julia Child) a few years ago. It’s an awfully Wine Country thing to do, all bourgeous mauves, flowing linen skirts, and bipolar smiles. The ghost of Cesar Chavez hovered.

There are edible gardens with patches like “Sauvignon Blanc” and “Petite Syrah” planted with the fruits, herbs and trees associated with each individual wine’s flavor (grapefruit, rasperries, vanilla, tobacco, etc.) That was pretty cool, as were some of the displays in the food museum, which is actually a reliquary of antique name-brands. (I now know the entire back story of Kool-Aid.) We dined in a “lunch program” that took place on what looked like a television cooking show set, and were treated to carcass-heavy details about the lamb being served, followed up, for some reason, with an a capella version of “Georgia On My Mind” from our really gay presenter, a baritone. Luckily, copious amounts of wine were served throughout.


Copia also offers frequent seminars led by super-friendly, slightly crazed blondes who gush about “marketing to millenials,” “emerging alternative wine packaging,” “biodynamics: moving beyond organics” and “the rebirth of pink!” Considering the retired-looking crowd, however, all this marketspeak probably only served to make wine more intimidating, which in turn, as happens with wine, probably made it all the more fascinating. The best thing, though, was when we were cheerily yet firmly urged to come back on May 13 for the “Wine Rave,” which artfully combines wine tasting with a DJ in an effort to “market to the millenials” (ages 11-24) on a “level they can relate to.” The rave is from 9 p.m. to midnite. I’m so going.



First off, what the frig’s up with Schwarzenegger’s hair? It’s like all day-glo puke-brown and shit. It looks like someone yodelled beef stew on his coif. Just sayin’.… Secondly, the Alternative Press Expo may have come and gone, but curator-cartoonist Justin Hall’s double whammy of gallery shows, featuring classic queer cartoonists at one and hot-hot Bay Area doodlers at the other, are still going strong — and you should really check ‘em out.

Cool stuff from Lark Pien, at “APE$#!T”

No Straight Lines” is at the Cartoon Art Museum, and it’s a mad dash through all the wacky, wonderful gay comics we wymynhandled when we were younger. Alison Bechdel of Dykes To Watch Out For and Howard Cruse of Wendel get a spotlight, and there’s even a vitrine full of the complete Gay Comix series. We’re finally under glass — eek The whole thing’s a wayback freakout for those of us who huddled under the blankets with such things, and actually brought a tear to my one good eye about how actually great (and, alas, perhaps, topical) the stuff still looks. The show benefits the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

APE$#!T” is Hall’s collaboration with Bay wunderkind Jesse Reklaw, at Space 743 in S.F., and features some of my ultrafaves – Lark Pien, Paul Madonna, Mats!?, Hsaio-chen Tsai, and others, as well as Hall and Reklaw themselves. Hall’s gotten pretty famous for his “True Travel Tales” and “Glamazonia” comics (I wrote about him last year here) and my bf has a yummy Reklaw hanging in his bedroom, so please buy more of his stuff so the value goes up. Mama needs some rent, baby. Just kidding.

Hey Culturatti


Welcome to the Guardian’s new Pixel Vision blog — our day-to-day guide to the Bay’s best film, art. theatre, food, fashion, cultural, and goodness-knows-what-all happenings. If you’re a bleeding heart liberal like us, you’ll want to check back here often for the most organic, free range, fair trade, meatless news and views about our fair City’s goings-ons. But hey, we can’t tell you what to do — we’re not the government… yet. We just want to get the word out that you don’t have to waste much blood-for-oil fossil fuel or tap Big Pharma to get a healthy dose of culture — it’s all right here under your unbobbed nose. Cheers!


Coming very soon


Coming very soon