Catholic Church

Ye of little faith


FILM While I’m sure they don’t enjoy being lumped together — one imagines them ornery, if not just bratty — the brothers McDonagh share an extremely like-minded sensibility. Not least among numerous overlaps is possessing the kind of talent that is undeniable and suspect. Just because they’re frequently as clever as they think they are, need they be quite such show-offs about it?

Martin McDonagh first got attention with a series of plays (including The Beauty Queen of Leenane, The Cripple of Inishmaan, and The Pillowman) that startlingly dragged traditional Irish drama toward Grand Guignol. Were they gratuitously or brilliantly cruel? Either or both, perhaps depending on the quality of the production you saw. He made his feature debut as writer-director with the insanely self-conscious yet delightful comedy-caper bloodbath In Bruges (2008). His 2012 exercise in auto-arse-kissing smartypantsery, Seven Psychopaths, might’ve struck you as insufferable (my vote), or the funniest hired-gun movie since Boondock Saints (1999). Notable trivia: Mickey Rourke dropped out of that movie, getting replaced by Woody Harrelson, because he thought McDonagh was a “jerk-off.” When Mickey Rourke thinks you’re a dick … well, you’re definitely something of a world-class nature.

By the time John Michael McDonagh emerged, his brother was already ensconced in slightly infamous fame. Discounting his adaptive screenplay for disappointing 2003 Aussie-Robin-Hood biopic Ned Kelly, John Michael made a splashy entree both writing and directing The Guard eight years later.

It starred Brendan Gleeson — a significant Irish national resource both McDonagh siblings have made regular use of, as a willfully perverse small town cop who takes infinite pleasure flummoxing the tightly wound FBI agent (Don Cheadle) he’s forced to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring with. Endlessly acerbic, spectacularly scenic, The Guard is so pleased-as-punch with itself you might occasionally wish to punch it. But Preston Sturges was also conspicuously delighted by his prancing-prize-pony of a mind, which didn’t make its cavorting any less delightful to others.

Gleeson and John Michael are back with Calvary, a film just as good, if yea more suspect for crimes of excess facility — especially because this time he’s being serious, at least sorta kinda. This McDonaugh’s flippancy is of the kind that makes you wonder whether he’s even capable of really giving a shit about anything, in part because he occasionally fakes it so well.

Father James (Gleeson) is the discreetly gruff moral center of a coastal Irish hamlet that surely would have none otherwise. His parishioners, living in some glossy tourist advertisement whose quaint authenticity looks polished beyond belief (or an actual native’s budget), are all skeptics, heretics, nonbelievers, and blatant sinners. They take particular pleasure in ridiculing the uprightness of this one man no one has a legitimate gripe against, save resentment.

There’s self-assigned upscale town slut Veronica (Orla O’Rourke), having a possibly kinky affair (among many) with handsome Ivory Coast émigré Simon (Jim Jarmusch regular Isaach de Bankole), while husband Jack (Chris O’Dowd) claims bored indifference. Cynical Dr. Frank (Aidan Gillen) is seemingly hardened to suffering by all he’s witnessed in the hospital operating room. Michael Fitzgerald (Dylan Moran) is the new lord of the local manor, a disgraced but as-yet-unjailed predatory financier who toys with holy forgiveness as he might any other asset his filthy millions could acquire.

Lower on the totem pole, troubled youth Milo (Killian Scott) wonders whether to kill himself, somebody else, or both — a dilemma shared at least partially by nearly everyone here — just to feel something. A life-sentenced serial murderer once in his flock (Domhnall Gleeson, son of Brendan), a glib superior (David McSavage’s Bishop), a hopelessly shallow apparent successor (David Wilmot’s Father Leary), and others all seem to enjoy a little too much making Father James writhe on the skewer of his historically very guilty institution’s making. Rare exceptions are a French tourist (Marie-Josée Croze) widowed by a needless traffic pileup, and his own daughter Fiona (Kelly Reilly), a perpetual train wreck come home to the daddy she says abandoned her for God just as his wife/her mother abandoned them both for terminal cancer.

As if all this weren’t enough already: At Calvary‘s start, an unseen confessor tells James he was abused for years by a (now-dead) Catholic priest, and as recompense will kill his current, admittedly blameless confessor in a week’s time. Just for, y’know, catharsis or whatever.

That’s a setup narrative, to say the least. It would appear entirely, absurdly skewed if not for the gravitational center Gleeson provides. He single-handedly provides the sincere if faint hope of redemption in a scenario that otherwise provides every possible indication of damnation for all. It’s hard to imagine another actor doing as much so well, with so little apparent effort, under circumstances of such manipulative high contrivance. Basically every scene here is a beautifully staged theatrical dialogue angled toward a shocking revelation. Calvary centrally addresses the question of faith while ultimately dodging the answer. I’d appreciate McDonagh’s ambivalence more if he weren’t quite so pleased about it. He’s got extraordinary taste, no doubt — from its editorial pace to its costume and soundtrack choices, this movie is curated within an inch of too-much-ness. Beyond his understandable disillusionment with the Catholic Church’s crimes, does he truly care about morality, or is it just an authorial chew-toy?

Calvary is so cannily crafted and acted, many will shrug off such quibbles, deciding the film’s brilliant surface actually means something, or at least deliberately implies myriad meanings. But this McDonagh, like the other, feels like a genius attention-seeker whose impersonation of depth cannot be trusted. I doubt him — as many characters here do God — right down to the last fate-intervening inspiration of an ending that won’t leave a dry eye in the house. Nor should it, dammit. *


CALVARY opens Fri/8 in Bay Area theaters.

Events: July 23 – 29, 2014


Listings are compiled by Guardian staff. Submit items for the listings at For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Selector.


Mission Bay Hidden Water Walk Meet at CalTrain station (south side plaza), Fourth St at King, SF; 10am, free. Walking tour of the rapidly-changing Mission Bay area. Part of LaborFest 2014.

James Nestor Mechanics’ Institute, 57 Post, SF; 6pm, $15. The author discusses Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves.

“Taxi, Tech, and Rideshare” Redstone Building, 2940 16th St, SF; 7pm, donations accepted. Forum and video screening on the subject of Uber and similar companies that are affecting the taxi industry. Part of LaborFest 2014.


Tom Barbash Hattery, 414 Brannan, SF; 7pm, free. The author discusses his work and writing, including Stay Up With Me, his recent short-story collection.

State of the City Forum Modern Times Bookstore Collective, 2919 24th St, SF; 7-9pm, free. Discussion of gentrification issues with SF poet laureate Alejandro Murguia and community guest panelists.


“Bike Design Project Reveal Party SF” PCH Lime Lab, 135 Mississippi, SF; 6-9:30pm, free. Check out next-generation bikes created by top designers and bike craftspeople at this reveal party, featuring custom-brewed, “bike-inspired” beer from Deschutes Brewery.

Gilroy Garlic Festival Christmas Park, Gilroy; 10am-7pm, $10-20. Through Sun/27. Garlic is the pungent star of this annual food fair. Garlic ice cream gets all the press, but don’t sleep on the garlic fries, 2012’s most popular purchase (13,401 servings!)

Squeak Carnwath University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft, Berk; 6pm, free. The Oakland-based painter discusses her new book, Horizon on Fire: Squeak Carnwath Works on Paper, 1977-2013, containing over 90 images of her works from the past 35 years.


Berkeley Kite Festival Cesar E. Chavez Park, Berkeley Marina. 10am-6pm, free. Through Sun/27. Because where else are you gonna see the world’s largest octopus kite?

Oakland 1946 General Strike Walk Lathan Square (meet at fountain), Telegraph at Broadway, Oakl; Noon, free. Revisit key sites of Oakland’s historic “Work Holiday,” the last general strike ever to occur in the US. Part of LaborFest 2014.

“Off the Wall” Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, 2868 Mission, SF; 7:30pm, free. Mission Grafica hosts this closing reception for its current screenprinting and woodcut exhibition, with a silent auction of pieces from the archives.

Ohtani Summer Bazaar Berkeley Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple, 1524 Oregon, Berk; Today, 4-8pm; Sun/27, noon-5pm. Free. Japanese food is the focus of this two-day fest, with homemade Kushikatsu, sushi, teriyaki chicken, and other tasty treats. The temple is also known for its (American-style) chili.

Pedalfest Jack London Square, Broadway and Embarcadero, Oakl; 11am-7pm, free. Celebrate biking at this festival, with bike-themed entertainment (“daredevils performing in a 30-foot Whiskeydrome”), “pedal-powered food,” a vintage bike show, bike demos, and more.

“Perverts Put Out! Dore Alley Edition” Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission, SF; 8pm, $10-25. Readings by Jen Cross, Princess Cream Pie, Philip Huang, and others; hosted by Dr. Carol Queen and Simon Sheppard as a benefit for the CSC.

Vintage Paper Fair Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, Ninth Ave at Lincoln, SF; Today, 10am-6pm; Sun/26, 11am-5pm. Free. Huge vintage paper fair featuring antique postcards, prints, photography, Art Deco items, movie memorabilia, and more.


LaborFest Book Fair Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, 2868 Mission, SF; 10:30am, free. Numerous authors share their labor- and union-themed books and this day of readings and discussions. Part of LaborFest 2014.

Up Your Alley Fair Dore between Howard and Folsom, SF; 11am-6pm, $7 suggested donation. Folsom Street Fair’s naughty little brother fills Dore Alley with leather-clad shenanigans.


Christopher Pollock St. Philip’s Catholic Church, 725 Diamond, SF; 7:30pm, $5. San Francisco History Association hosts this talk by the author of Reel San Francisco Stories: An Annotated Filmography of the Bay Area. *


It’s all reel


FILM As far as Hollywood is concerned, it’s already been summer for weeks, with superheroes (Captain America and Spider-Man have had their turns; X-Men: Days of Future Past opens Fri/23) and monsters (Godzilla) looking mighty comfortable atop the box office. But the season is just getting started, screen fiends, and there’s plenty more — maybe too many more, if you’re operating on a limited popcorn budget — ahead. Read on for a highly opinionated, by-no-means-comprehensive guide; as always, dates are subject to change. (And keep reading for a list of local film festivals, too, since the healthiest diet is always a balanced one.)

The first post-Memorial Day weekend unveils Angelina Jolie (dem cheekbones!) as Sleeping Beauty’s worst nightmare in Maleficent, probably the biggest Disney casting coup since Johnny Depp sailed to the Caribbean. First-time helmer Robert Stromberg has a pair of Oscars for his art-direction work on Avatar (2009) and Alice in Wonderland (2010); if this dark fantasy clicks with audiences, expect a raft of live-action films starring Disney’s ever-growing stable of villains (fingers crossed for Ursula the Sea Witch next).

If fairy tales aren’t your thing, add thriller Cold in July to your calendar (like Maleficent, it’s out May 30). It’s the latest from genre man Jim Mickle (2013’s We Are What We Are), with his highest-profile cast to date. Dexter‘s Michael C. Hall, rocking a mullet, plays a small-town Texan whose unremarkable life goes into pulpy overdrive after he kills a burglar, angering the man’s ex-con father (Sam Shepard). But nothing is what it seems in this twisty tale, which also features Don Johnson and a synth score — both stellar enhancements to the film’s late-1980s aesthetic.

Moving into June, sci-fi thriller Edge of Tomorrow  has Tom Cruise saving the world — just another day on the job for the suspiciously ageless star, though he apparently lives the same day over and over here. Look for director Doug Liman (multiple Bourne movies) and co-stars like Emily Blunt and Game of Thrones‘ Noah Taylor to add some depth — though, OK, this’ll probably still be a one-man show. Never change, Tom. Elsewhere June 6, erstwhile Divergent ass-kicker Shailene Woodley aims to prove she’s not just the poor man’s Jennifer Lawrence with young-adult weepie The Fault in Our Stars.

June 13, undercover cops Schmidt and Jenko — played by the likable team of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum — return for more jokes (and winks, because they’re in on the joke too, you guys!) in 22 Jump Street. Far less comedic, and far more brain-melting, is sci-fi drama The Signal, which starts off like a typical road-trip movie, then switches gears a few times before slam-banging into weirdness so out-there it’s almost (almost) a spoiler to note that Laurence “Morpheus” Fishburne plays a key role.

The following week (June 20), Aussie filmmaker David Michôd — whose gritty 2010 Animal Kingdom became an insta-classic of the crime genre, and launched the stateside careers of Jackie Weaver and Joel Edgerton — reunites with Kingdom star Guy Pearce for The Rover, the outback-set tale of a man seeking revenge on a gang of car thieves. In an intriguing casting choice, former vampire Robert Pattinson co-stars as a wounded baddie forced along for the ride.

Next up, June 27 unleashes Transformers: Age of Extinction. Memo to the world: Until we all agree to stop seeing these movies, Michael Bay and company will keep grinding ’em out. At least this one is LaBeouf-less.

Ahead of the long Fourth of July weekend, July 2 unleashes saucy comedy Tammy, which stars Melissa McCarthy (she also co-wrote the script) and Susan Sarandon as a road-tripping granddaughter and grandmother. Or, you could check out Eric Bana as an NYPD detective who teams up with a priest (Edgar “Carlos the Jackal” Ramírez, recently cast in the Swayze role in the highly unnecessary Point Break remake) in Deliver Us From Evil; despite sharing a title with Amy Berg’s harrowing 2006 doc about pedophiles in the Catholic Church, it’s about demonic possession — but is still probably less frightening than the Berg film, to be honest.

July 11, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood has a gimmicky premise — filmed over 12 years, it charts the coming-of-age of a child, and his relationship with his parents (played by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette) — but also glowing reviews from its film festival stints. And, just when you thought it was safe to go back to the banana aisle, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes arrives, laying further waste to a San Francisco that already took a beating in the first film, not to mention losing most of its downtown to Godzilla and friends just a week ago. Andy Serkis returns as chimp king Caesar. Also: Roman Polanski’s latest, Venus in Fur — based on the David Ives play, and starring Polanski’s wife, Emmanuelle Seigner — arrives on our shores after picking up a César award for the director in France.

Andy and Lana Wachowski’s latest eye candy-laden epic action fantasy, Jupiter Ascending, is about an ordinary human (Mila Kunis) who turns out to be Neo the One, er, royalty from another planet. Based on production stills, this film also features Channing Tatum flying through the air shooting guns and stuff. July 18 also brings The Purge: Anarchy, sequel to last year’s sleeper hit about a near-future America that allows a crime spree free-for-all one night per year. The follow-up lacks Lena Heady — but it does have Michael K. “Omar” Williams, and the characters actually leave the house this time.

Then, on July 25, choose your hero: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson sporting a hat made out of a lion’s head (and, apparently, beard made out of yak hair) in Hercules, or those dancin’ kids of Las Vegas-set Step Up All In. (For those keeping score, this is the fifth Step Up film.) Plus, there’s Woody Allen’s 1920s-set Magic in the Moonlight, starring Emma Stone as a psychic and Colin Firth as the skeptic who falls for her. Sounds kinda twee, and Allen’s private life remains controversial, but that cast, which also includes Marcia Gay Harden and Jackie Weaver, is all kinds of dynamite.

August begins with a bang — Marvel’s hotly-anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy, which just about broke the Internet when its first trailer rolled out in February, is out on the first — before meandering a bit. Taking a break from her own Marvel duties, Scarlett Johansson (so great in Under the Skin) plays a different kind of superhuman in Luc Besson’s Lucy, while the live action-CG mash-up I’m not sure anyone was really begging for, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, also takes a bow (both Aug. 8).

As the summer winds down, Phillip Noyce (2002’s The Quiet American) strays onto YA turf with an adaptation of Lois Lowry’s The Giver, with Jeff “The Dude” Bridges playing the title role, and Brenton Thwaits (who also stars in The Signal, above) as his protégé. Also out Aug. 15, The Expendables 3 adds Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas, and Wesley Snipes (!!) to its cast o’ aging action hunks. Don’t you worry, Nic Cage — there’s still room for you in the inevitable part four. And don’t miss The Trip to Italy, which re-teams British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon for a foodie road trip that will make you guffaw (at the impressions) and drool (over the plates of pasta).

Labor Day looms as Robert Rodriguez brings Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, which looks to be as visually stunning as its 2005 predecessor, if not much friendlier to the female perspective; a sports drama inspired by Concord’s own De La Salle High School football team, When the Game Stands Tall; and yet another YA adaptation, If I Stay, starring Chloë Grace Moretz, who is one of the more dynamic teen actors of late, and may make this girlfriend-in-a-coma tale livelier than it sounds. *


San Francisco Green Film Festival (May 29-June 4; Doc-heavy fest of films from 21 countries that explore environmental issues and themes.

San Francisco Silent Film Festival (May 29-June 1; Exquisitely curated and rock-concert-popular showcase of films from cinema’s earliest days, plus live accompaniment and special guests.

SF DocFest (June 5-19; The San Francisco Independent Film Festival’s doc-tastic offshoot consistently offers a strong slate of true-life tales.

New Filipino Cinema (June 11-15; Documentaries, narratives, shorts, and experimental films direct from the Philippines’ burgeoning film scene.

Queer Women of Color Film Festival (June 14-16; Five shorts programs highlight 55 works, with a focus this year on queer culture in Southeast Asian, North African, Middle Eastern, and other Muslim communities.

Martin Scorsese Presents Masterpieces of Polish Cinema (June 14-Aug 23, Rare and important works by Andrzej Wajda, Jerzy Kawalerowicz, Wojciech Has, and others — and since Uncle Marty’s in charge, expect glorious digital restorations across the board.

Frameline (June 19-29; The oldest and largest fest of its kind, the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival has been programming the best in queer cinema for 38 years.

San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (July 24-Aug 10; Also the oldest and largest fest of its kind, the SFJFF presents year-round programming, though this fest, now in its 34th year, is its centerpiece event.

Guardian endorsements




Editor’s Note: Election endorsements have been a long and proud part of the Guardian’s 48-year history of covering politics in San Francisco, the greater Bay Area, and at the state level. In low-turnout elections like the one we’re expecting in June, your vote counts more than usual, and we hope our endorsements and explanations help you make the best decisions.



There is much for progressives to criticize in Jerry Brown’s latest stint as governor of California. He has stubbornly resisted complying with federal court orders to substantially reduce the state’s prison population, as well as shielding the system from needed journalistic scrutiny and reforms of solitary confinement policies that amount to torture. Brown has also refused to ban or limit fracking in California, despite the danger it poses to groundwater and climate change, irritating environmentalists and fellow Democrats. Even Brown’s great accomplishment of winning passage for the Prop. 30 tax package, which eased the state back from financial collapse, sunsets too early and shouldn’t have included a regressive sales tax increase. Much more needs to be done to address growing wealth disparities and restore economic and educational opportunity for all Californians.

For these reasons and others, it’s tempting to endorse one of Brown’s progressive challenges: Green Party candidate Luis Rodriguez or Peace and Freedom Party candidate Cindy Sheehan (see “Left out,” April 23). We were particularly impressed by Rodriguez, an inspiring leader who is seeking to bring more Latinos and other marginalized constituencies into the progressive fold, a goal we share and want to support however we can.

But on balance, we decided to give Brown our endorsement in recognition of his role in quickly turning around this troubled state after the disastrous administration of Arnold Schwarzenegger — and in the hope that his strong leadership will lead to even greater improvement over his next term. While we don’t agree with all of his stands, we admire the courage, independence, and vision that Brown brings to this important office. Whether he is supporting the California High-Speed Rail Project against various attacks, calling for state residents to live in greater harmony with the natural world during the current drought, or refusing to shrink from the challenges posed by global warming, Jerry Brown is the leader that California needs at this critical time.



Gavin Newsom was mayor of San Francisco before he ascended to the position of Lieutenant Governor, and we at the Bay Guardian had a strained relationship with his administration, to put it mildly. We disagreed with his fiscally conservative policies and tendency to align himself with corporate power brokers over neighborhood coalitions. As lieutenant governor, Newsom is tasked with little — besides stepping into the role of governor, should he be called upon to do so — but has nevertheless made some worthwhile contributions.

Consider his stance on drug policy reform: “Once and for all, it’s time we realize that the war on drugs is nothing more than a war on communities of color and on the poor,” he recently told a crowd at the Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles. “It is fundamentally time for drug policies that recognize and respect the full dignity of human beings. We can’t wait.” In his capacity as a member of the UC Board of Regents, Newsom recently voted against a higher executive compensation package for a top-level administrator, breaking from the pack to align with financially pinched university students. In Sacramento, Newsom seems to come off as more “San Francisco” than in his mayoral days, and we’re endorsing him against a weak field of challengers.



Although the latest Field Poll shows that he has only single-digit support and is unlikely to make the November runoff, we’re endorsing Derek Cressman for Secretary of State. As a longtime advocate for removing the corrupting influence of money from politics through his work with Common Cause, Cressman has identified campaign finance reform as the important first step toward making the political system more responsive to people’s needs. As Secretary of State, Cressman would be in a position to ensure greater transparency in our political system.

We also like Alex Padilla, a liberal Democrat who has been an effective member of the California Senate. We’ll be happy to endorse Padilla in November if he ends up in a runoff with Republican Pete Peterson, as the current polling seems to indicate is likely. But for now, we’re endorsing Cressman — and the idea that campaign finance reform needs to be a top issue in a state and country that are letting wealthy individuals and corporations have disproportionate influence over what is supposed to be a democracy.



The pay-to-play politics of Leland Yee and two other California Democrats has smeared the Assembly. Amid the growls of impropriety, a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting has painted Speaker of the Assembly John Perez, a leading candidate for Controller, with a similar brush. CIR revealed Perez raised money from special interest groups to charities his lover favored, a lover later sued for racketeering and fraud.

Betty Yee represents an opportunity for a fresh start. On the state’s Board of Equalization she turned down campaign donations from tobacco interests, a possible conflict of interest. She also fought for tax equity between same-sex couples. The Controller is tasked with keeping watch on and disbursing state funds, a position we trust much more to Yee’s careful approach than Perez’s questionable history. Vote for Yee.



While serving as California’s elected Controller, John Chiang displayed his courage and independence by refusing to sign off on budgetary tricks used by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and some legislative leaders, insisting on a level of honesty that protected current and future Californians. During those difficult years — as California teetered on the brink of bankruptcy, paralyzed by partisan brinksmanship each budget season, written off as a failed state by the national media — Chiang and retiring Treasurer Bill Lockyer were somehow able to keep the state functioning and paying its bills.

While many politicians claim they’ll help balance the budget by identifying waste and corruption, Chiang actually did so, identifying $6 billion by his estimate that was made available for more productive purposes. Now, Chiang wants to continue bringing fiscal stability to this volatile state and he has our support.



Kamala Harris has kept the promise she made four years ago to bring San Francisco values into the Attorney General’s Office, focusing on the interests of everyday Californians over powerful vested interests. That includes strengthening consumer and privacy protections, pushing social programs to reduce criminal recidivism rather than the tough-on-crime approach that has ballooned our prison population, reaching an $18 billion settlement with the big banks and mortgage lenders to help keep people in their homes, and helping to implement the Affordable Care Act and the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state.

Harris has maintained her opposition to the death penalty even though that has hurt her in the statewide race, and she brings to the office an important perspective as the first woman and first African American ever to serve as the state’s top law enforcement officer. While there is much more work to be done in countering the power of wealthy individuals and corporations and giving the average Californian a stronger voice in our legal system, Harris has our support.



We’ve been following Dave Jones’s legislative career since his days on the Sacramento City Council and through his terms in the California Legislature, and we’ve always appreciated his autonomy and progressive values. He launched into his role as Insurance Commissioner four years ago with an emergency regulation requiring health insurance companies to use no more than 20 percent of premiums on profits and administrative costs, and he has continued to do what he can to hold down health insurance rates, including implementing the various components of the Affordable Care Act.

More recently, Jones held hearings looking at whether Uber, Lyft, and other transportation network companies are adequately insured to protect both their drivers and the general public, concluding that these companies need to self-insure or otherwise expand the coverage over their business. It was a bold and important move to regulate a wealthy and prosperous new industry. Jones deserves credit for taking on the issue and he has earned our endorsement.



This race is a critical one, as incumbent Tom Torlakson faces a strong challenge from the charter school cheerleader Marshall Tuck. An investment banker and Harvard alum, Tuck is backed by well-heeled business and technology interests pushing for the privatization of our schools. Tech and entertainment companies are pushing charter schools heavily as they wait in the wings for lucrative education supply contracts, for which charter schools may open the doors. And don’t let Waiting for Superman fool you, charter schools’ successful test score numbers are often achieved by pushing out underperforming special needs and economically disadvantaged students.

As national education advocate Diane Ravitch wrote in her blog, “If Tuck wins, the privatization movement will gain a major stronghold.” California ranks 48th in the nation in education spending, a situation we can thank Prop. 13 for. We’d like to see Torlakson advocate for more K-12 school dollars, but for now, he’s the best choice.



Fiona Ma was never our favorite member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and in the California Legislature, she has seemed more interested in party politics and leadership than moving legislation that is important to San Francisco. There are a few exceptions, such as her attempts last year to require more employers to offer paid sick days and to limit prescription drug co-payments. But she also notoriously tried to ban raves at public venues in 2010, a reactionary bill that was rejected as overly broad.

But the California Board of Equalization might just be a better fit for Ma than the Legislature. She’s a certified public accountant and would bring that financial expertise to the state’s main taxing body, and we hope she continues in the tradition of her BOE predecessor Betty Yee in ensuring the state remains fair but tough in how it collects taxes.



The race to replace progressive hero Tom Ammiano in the California Assembly is helping to define this important political moment in San Francisco. It’s a contest between the pragmatic neoliberal politics of Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and the populist progressive politics of Sup. David Campos, whom Ammiano endorsed to succeed him.

It’s a fight for the soul of San Francisco, a struggle to define the values we want to project into the world, and, for us at the Bay Guardian, the choice is clear. David Campos is the candidate that we trust to uphold San Francisco’s progressive values in a state that desperately needs that principled influence.

Chiu emphasizes how the two candidates have agreed on about 98 percent of their votes, and he argues that his effectiveness at moving big legislation and forging compromises makes him the most qualified to represent us in Sacramento. Indeed, Chiu is a skilled legislator with a sharp mind, and if “getting things done” — the prime directive espoused by both Chiu and Mayor Ed Lee — was our main criterion, he would probably get our endorsement.

But when you look at the agenda that Chiu and his allies at City Hall have pursued since he came to power — elected as a progressive before pivoting to become a pro-business moderate — we wish that he had been a little less effective. The landlords, tech titans, Realtors, and Chamber of Commerce have been calling the shots in this city, overheating the local economy in a way that has caused rapid displacement and gentrification.

“Effective for whom? That’s what’s important,” Campos told us during his endorsement interview, noting that, “Most people in San Francisco have been left behind and out of that prosperity.”

Campos has been a clear and consistent supporter of tenants, workers, immigrants, small businesses, environmentalists — the vast majority of San Franciscans, despite their lack of power in City Hall. Chiu will sometimes do right by these groups, but usually only after being pushed to do so by grassroots organizing and lobbying efforts.

Campos correctly points out that such lobbying is more difficult in Sacramento, with its higher stakes and wider range of competing interests, than it is on the local level. Chiu’s focus on always trying to find a compromise often plays into the hands of wealthy interests, who sometimes just need to be fought and stopped.

We have faith in Campos and his progressive values, and we believe he will skillfully carry on the work of Ammiano — who is both an uncompromising progressive and an effective legislator — in representing San Francisco’s values in Sacramento.



Incumbent Phil Ting doesn’t have any challengers in this election, but he probably would have won our support anyway. After proving himself as San Francisco’s Assessor, taking a strong stance against corporate landowners and even the Catholic Church on property assessments, Ting won a tough race against conservative businessman Michael Breyer to win his Assembly seat.

Since then, he’s been a reliable vote for legislation supported by most San Franciscans, and he’s sponsoring some good bills that break new ground, including his current AB 1193, which would make it easier to build cycletracks, or bike lanes physically separated from cars, all over the state. He also called a much-needed Assembly committee hearing in November calling out BART for its lax safety culture, and we hope he continues to push for reforms at that agency.



Over a decade ago, Californians voted to use hundreds of millions of our dollars to create the CalVet Home and Farm Loan Program to help veterans purchase housing. But a reduction in federal home loan dollars, the housing crisis, and a plummeting economy hurt the program.

Prop. 41 would repurpose $600 million of those bond funds and raise new money to create affordable housing rental units for some of California’s 15,000 homeless veterans. This would cost Californians $50 million a year, which, as proponents remind us, is one-tenth of 1 percent of the state budget. Why let hundreds of millions of dollars languish unused? We need to reprioritize this money to make good on our unfulfilled promises to homeless veterans.



This one’s important. Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown sought to gut the California Public Records Act by making it optional for government agencies to comply with many of the requirements built into this important transparency law. The CPRA and the Ralph M. Brown Act require government agencies to make records of their activities available for public scrutiny, and to provide for adequate notice of public meetings. Had the bill weakening these laws not been defeated, it would have removed an important defense against shadowy government dealings, leaving ordinary citizens and journalists in the dark.

Prop. 42 is a bid to eliminate any future threats against California’s important government transparency laws, by expressly requiring local government agencies — including cities, counties, and school districts — to comply with all aspects of the CPRA and the Brown Act. It also seeks to prevent local agencies from denying public records requests based on cost, by eliminating the state’s responsibility to reimburse local agencies for cost compliance (the state has repeatedly failed to do so, and local bureaucracies have used this as an excuse not to comply).



Prop. A is a $400 million general obligation bond measure that would cover seismic retrofits and improvements to the city’s emergency infrastructure, including upgrades to the city’s Emergency Firefighting Water System, neighborhood police and fire stations, a new facility for the Medical Examiner, and seismically secure new structures to house the police crime lab and motorcycle unit.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to place Prop. A on the ballot, and a two-thirds majority vote is needed for it to pass. Given that San Franciscans can expect to be hit by a major earthquake in the years to come, upgrading emergency infrastructure, especially the high-pressure water system that will aid the Fire Department in the event of a major blaze, is a high priority.



As we report in this issue (see “Two views of the waterfront”), San Francisco’s waterfront is a valuable place targeted by some ambitious development schemes. That’s a good thing, particularly given the need that the Port of San Francisco has for money to renovate or remove crumbling piers, but it needs to be carefully regulated to maximize public benefits and minimize private profit-taking.

Unfortunately, the Mayor’s Office and its appointees at the Port of San Francisco have proven themselves unwilling to be tough negotiators on behalf of the people. That has caused deep-pocketed, politically connected developers to ignore the Waterfront Land Use Plan and propose projects that are out-of-scale for the waterfront, property that San Francisco is entrusted to manage for the benefit of all Californians.

All Prop. B does is require voter approval when projects exceed existing height limits. It doesn’t kill those projects, it just forces developers to justify new towers on the waterfront by providing ample public benefits, restoring a balance that has been lost. San Francisco’s waterfront is prime real estate, and there are only a few big parcels left that can be leveraged to meet the needs of the Port and the city. Requiring the biggest ones to be approved by voters is the best way to ensure the city — all its residents, not just the politicians and power brokers — is getting the best deals possible.



Daniel Flores has an impressive list of endorsers, including the Democratic, Republican, and Green parties of San Francisco — a rare trifecta of political party support. But don’t hold the GOP nod against Flores, who was raised in the Excelsior by parents who immigrated from El Salvador and who interned with La Raza Centro Legal while going to McGeorge School of Law. And he did serve in the Marines for six years, which could explain the broad range of support for him.

Flores is a courtroom litigator with experience in big firms and his own practice, representing clients ranging from business people to tenants fighting against their landlords. Flores told us that he wants to ensure those without much money are treated fairly in court, an important goal we support. We also liked Kimberly Williams and hope she ends up on the bench someday, but in this race, Flores is the clear choice.



This was a hard decision for us this year. Everyone knows that Pelosi will win this race handily, but in past races we’ve endorsed third party challengers or even refused to endorse anyone more often than we’ve given Pelosi our support. While Pelosi gets vilified by conservatives as the quintessential San Francisco liberal, she’s actually way too moderate for our tastes.

Over her 21 years in Congress, she has presided over economic policies that have consolidated wealth in ever fewer hands and dismantled the social safety net, environmental policies that have ignored global warming and fed our over-reliance on the private automobile, and military policies that expanded the war machine and overreaching surveillance state, despite her insider’s role on the House Intelligence Committee.

Three of her opponents — Democrat David Peterson, Green Barry Hermanson, and fiery local progressive activist Frank Lara of the Peace and Freedom Party — are all much better on the issues that we care about, and we urge our readers to consider voting for one of them if they just can’t stomach casting a ballot for Pelosi. In particular, Hermanson has raised important criticisms of just how out of whack our federal budget priorities are. We also respect the work Lara has done on antiwar and transit justice issues in San Francisco, and we think he could have a bright political future.

But we’ve decided to endorse Pelosi in this election for one main reason: We want the Democrats to retake the House of Representatives this year and for Pelosi to once again become Speaker of the House. The Republican Party in this country, particularly the Tea Party loyalists in the House, is practicing a dangerous and disgusting brand of political extremism that needs to be stopped and repudiated. They would rather shut the government down or keep it hopelessly hobbled by low tax rates than help it become an effective tool for helping us address the urgent problems that our country faces. Pelosi and the Democrats aren’t perfect, but at least they’re reasonable grown-ups and we’d love to see what they’d do if they were returned to power. So Nancy Pelosi has our support in 2014.



Barbara Lee has been one of our heroes since 2001, when she was the only member of Congress to vote against the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, braving the flag-waving nationalism that followed the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon to warn that such an overly broad declaration of war was dangerous to our national interests. She endured death threats and harsh condemnation for that principled stand, but she was both courageous and correct, with our military overreach still causing problems for this country, both practical and moral.

Lee has been a clear and consistent voice for progressive values in the Congress for 16 years, chairing both the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus, taking stands against capital punishment and the Iraq War, supporting access to abortions and tougher regulation of Wall Street, and generally representing Oakland and the greater Bay Area well in Washington DC. She has our enthusiastic support.



Jackie Speier has given her life to public service — almost literally in 1978 when she was an aide to then-Rep. Leo Ryan and survived the airstrip shootings that triggered the massacre at Jonestown — and she has earned our ongoing support. Speier has continued the consumer protection work she started in the California Legislature, sponsoring bills in Congress aimed at protecting online privacy. She has also been a strong advocate for increasing federal funding to public transit in the Bay Area, particularly to Muni and for the electricification of Caltrain, an important prelude to the California High-Speed Rail Project. In the wake of the deadly natural gas explosion in San Bruno, Speier has pushed for tough penalties on Pacific Gas & Electric and expanded pipeline safety programs. She has been a strong advocate of women’s issues, including highlighting the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses and in the military, seeking greater protections, institutional accountability, and recourse for victims. More recently, Speier has become a key ally in the fight to save City College of San Francisco, taking on the federal accreditation process and seeking reforms. Speier is a courageous public servant who deserves your vote.

Events: April 23 – 29, 2014


Listings are compiled by Guardian staff. Submit items for the listings at For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Selector.


Susie Hara Green Arcade, 1680 Market, SF; 7pm, free. The author launches her new noir, Finder of Lost Objects.

“101 Vagina” Goforaloop Gallery, 1458 San Bruno, SF; Noon-8pm. Free. Through Sun/27. Exhibit of 101 photographs (by artist Philip Werner) and 101 accompanying stories (by each photo’s subject) celebrating the female body.

Gertrude Stein centennial SF Public Library, Main Branch, 100 Larkin, SF; 6-7pm, free. Celebrate the author’s Tender Buttons with editor Seth Perlow and guests Michelle Tea, Juliana Spahr, and Renate Stendahl.

“Word Performances” Lost Church, 65 Capp, SF; 8pm, $14. Poetry, prose, comedy, fiction, and memoir reading with Tina D’Elia, John Panzer, Ginger Murray, Tomas Moniz, and others, plus music by the Mark Growden Trio.


Nitza Agam BookShop West Portal, 80 West Portal, SF; (415) 564-8080. 7pm, free. The author discusses her memoir Scent of Jasmine.

Andrew Demcak Books Inc., 2275 Market, SF; (415) 864-6777. 7:30pm, free. The poet and writer shares his latest, Ghost Songs.

Andrew Sean Greer Booksmith, 1644 Haight, SF; 7:30pm, free. The novelist reads from his latest work, The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells.

“Poems Under the Dome” City Hall, North Light Court, 1 Carlton B. Goodlett Place, SF; 5:30-8pm, free. Ninth annual celebration of National Poetry Month, with readings by SF poet laureate Alejandro Murguía and others.

Tony Serra City Lights Bookstore, 261 Columbus, SF; 7pm, free. The veteran attorney celebrates the release of Tony Serra: The Green, Yellow and Purple Years in the Life of a Radical Lawyer.


Anne Carson San Francisco State University, Humanities Building, Rm 133, 1600 Holloway, SF; 7pm, free. The MacArthur-winning scholar, poet, and translator reads from her latest work.

Omnidawn Book Party Pegasus Downtown, 2349 Shattuck, Berk; 7pm, free. Celebrate National Poetry Month with readings by Robin Caton, Maxine Chernoff, Gillian Conoley, and others.


“Bug Day!” Randall Museum, 199 Museum Wy, SF; 10am-2pm, $3. Family fun day all about bugs, with an “Insect Olympics,” honeybee hives, bug-related crafts, edible bugs, and more.

“Make It Reign 2014” Runway Style House Boutique, 1635 Broadway, Oakl; 8pm, $5. Fashion show highlighting 18 Oakland and Bay Area indie designers.

Treasure Island Flea Great Lawn, Treasure Island; 10am-4pm, $3. Through Sun/27. It’s wine month at Treasure Island Flea — because nothing makes shopping more fun than a wine-tasting break. Also new: a produce part, a new section for DIY workshops, and more.

“Wrong’s What I Do Best” Walter and McBean Galleries, San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut, SF; 7-10pm, free. Exhibit through July 26. Group show examining “the self-searing impulses of artists playing the role of one’s self as someone else.”


Northern California Book Awards SF Public Library, Main Branch, 100 Larkin, SF; 1-4pm, free. This year’s award-winning authors read, discuss, and sign their works.

Pacific Coast Dream Machines Show Half Moon Bay Airport, 9850 N. Cabrillo Hwy, Half Moon Bay; 10am-4pm, $5-20. Showcase of more than 2,000 antique, classic, custom, and exotic motorized marvels, plus boats, aircraft, live music, a “kidzone,” and more.

SF Native Plant Garden Tour Various locations, SF; 11am-3pm, free. Check the website for the self-guided tour route, which offers a chance to see San Francisco-specific and Bay Area-native plants in gardens both wild and carefully tended.


Tess Taylor and D.A. Powell City Lights Bookstore, 261 Columbus, SF; 7pm, free. The poets read from their works, including Taylor’s new collection The Forage House.


“Customs and Traditions of Ohlone Natives in the Bay Area” St. Philip’s Catholic Church, 725 Diamond, SF; 7:30pm, $5. SF History Association presents this talk by Ruth Orta and her daughter, Ramona Garibay, descendents of the Ohlone/Bay Miwok native people of the Bay Area.

Pamela Turner Saylor’s Restaurant (upstairs room), 2009 Bridgeway, Sausalito; 7-9pm, $5. The science writer, author of The Dolphins of Shark Bay, discusses bottlenose dolphins. *


Events: February 19 – 25, 2014


Listings are compiled by Guardian staff. Submit items for the listings at For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Selector.


Anita Diamant Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro, San Rafael; 7pm, $15. The best-selling author (The Red Tent) and essayist discusses marriage, parenthood, recovering from loss, and other topics.

Owen Egerton Booksmith, 1644 Haight, SF; 7:30pm, free. The author reads from his collection of short fiction, How Best to Avoid Dying.

“Unwrapping the Visual Discovery of Spiral Nebulae” Randall Museum, 199 Museum Way, SF; 7:30pm, free. Illustrated astronomy lecture by visual observer Steve Gottlieb.


Mary Ellen Hannibal Northbrae Community Church, 941 the Alameda, Berkeley; 7-9pm, $5. Golden Gate Audobon Society presents this talk by the author of “conservation biography” The Spine of the Continent.

“Happy Birthday Edward Gorey!” Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission, SF; 5-8pm, free. Celebrate the late author and artist’s 89th birthday with dramatic readings, tea and cookies, and more. Costumes encouraged.

Michelle Richmond Book Passage, 1 Ferry Bldg, SF; 6pm, free. The novelist shares her latest work, Golden State.

“YBCA ConVerge” Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF; 4-8pm, free. Artist Ilana Crispi shares her new project, “Tenderloin Dirt Harvest: Please be seated on the ground,” featuring drinking vessels made from Tenderloin soil, plus discussions and storytelling about the neighborhood.


“Birding the Hill” Corona Heights Park, meet in front of Randall Museum, 199 Museum Way, SF; 8am, free. Kids under 10 must be accompanied by an adult. Explore the park and check out its current bird population with Audobon experts.

Russian Festival of San Francisco Russian Center of San Francisco, 2460 Sutter, SF; Today, 5pm-12:30am; Sat/22, 11am-10pm; Sun/23, 11am-7pm. $6-10. Performances by Russian dancers, musicians, and others, plus Russian cuisine, crafts, gifts, and more.

“Word/Play: Shenaniganery of the Highest Brow” Booksmith, 1644 Haight, SF; 7pm, $10. Book and lit-themed game show starring Nate Waggoner, Melissa Manlove, Steven Westdahl, Casey Childers, Sarah Griffin, and Lara Starr.


“Great San Francisco Crystal Fair” Fort Mason Center, Bldg A, Marina at Buchanan, SF; Today, 10am-6pm; Sun/23, 10am-4pm. $8. Featuring crystals, minerals, beads, psychic readings, and more.

“Hidden Cities: Experiments and Explorations” SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan, SF; Opening reception 6-9pm, free. Exhibit on view through March 22. Twenty-six moving and still images and interactive, site-specific installations that present alternative ways of exploring San Francisco.

“Lost Landscapes of Oakland” Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak, Oakl; 3-5pm, free with museum admission ($6-15; seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis). Rick Prelinger brings his popular historical screening and discussion series, with audience participation encouraged, to Oakland for the first time.

“Who Are We? Exploring Black Identities” Center for History and Community, 2488 Coolidge, Oakl; 6-7:30pm, free (RSVP to Panel discussion about African American identity moderated by Rick Moss, chief curator of the African American Museum and Library at Oakland.


Lemony Snicket and Lisa Brown Booksmith, 1644 Haight, SF; 3pm, $5. The author and illustrator discuss 29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy. Buy a copy and get a free Melancholy Sour Phosphate from the Ice Cream Bar.


“From Pillar to Post: The 100-Year Peregrinations of the Sutro Library” St. Philip’s Catholic Church, 725 Diamond, SF; 7:30pm, $5. The Sutro Library’s former head librarian discusses the long history of the unique rare book and manuscript collection.

Anna Leonard Booksmith, 1644 Haight, SF; 7:30pm, free. The debut novelist discusses Moth and Spark.

“Now That You’re Gone … San Francisco Neighborhoods Without Us” SF City Hall, Ground Floor, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, SF; Opening reception 5:30-7:30pm, free. Exhibit on view through May 23. San Francisco Arts Commission Galleries’ Art at City Hall Program and PhotoAlliance presents this exhibit of works by NorCal emerging and established artists, showcasing SF urban landscapes and neighborhoods without any people in them.

“Whale Disentanglement in Northern California” Bay Model Visitor Center, 2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito; 7-9pm, $5. Kathy Koontz from the Whale Entanglement Team — working to rescue whales from entanglement in fishing gear and marine debris — discusses how the public can get involved in the group’s Northern California efforts. *


Events: January 22 – 28, 2014


Listings are compiled by Guardian staff. Submit items for the listings at For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Selector.


“Black Widow Stars: Vengeful Star Corpses” Smithwick Theater, Foothill College, 12345 El Monte, Los Altos Hills; 7pm, free (parking, $3). Stanford’s Dr. Roger Romani delivers an illustrated, non-technical talk on the intriguingly violent “black widow” star corpses discovered by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

Kirsten Chen Booksmith, 1644 Haight, SF; 7:30pm, free. Chen discusses her “foodie love story” Soy Sauce for Beginners with fellow author Aimee Phan.


Gem Faire Marin Center Exhibit Hall, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael; Noon-6pm, free. Also Sat/25, 10am-6pm; Sun/26, 10am-5pm. Over 70 importers, exporters, and wholesalers gather to showcase fine jewelry, costume jewelry, precious and semi-precious gemstones, crystals, minerals, jewelry-making tools, and more. Jewelry repair, cleaning, and ring-sizing services will also be available.


Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show Cow Palace, 2600 Geneva, Daly City; 8:30am-5pm, $7-12 ($30 for both days for a family of four). Also Sun/26. Nearly 1,500 dogs representing over 135 breeds vie for the coveted “Best in Show” title at this long-running competition. The event also features a “dog rally” grading dog-handler partnerships as well as a dog fashion show and “dog dancing.”

Chris Johanson Adobe Books and Arts Cooperative, 3130 24th St, SF; 6-10pm, free. As part of indie stalwart Adobe Books’ 25th anniversary, the Mission School artist signs copies of his new book on Phaidon Press. With live music by Ovarian Trolley.

“Knitting Hour” Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge, Berk; Sat/25, 3:15-4:45pm. Free. Learn how to knit at this intergenerational knitting group, aimed at all ages 8 and above and all skill levels.

“MakeArt: Aluminum Foil Sculpture” Museum of Craft and Design, 2569 Third St, SF; 1:30-3:30pm, $10. No tin-foil hat jokes here — this workshop (aimed at kids ages 8-12, or kids 6-7 with parent participation) guides kids in creative fun inspired by “A Sense of Balance: The Sculpture of Stoney Lamar.”

San Francisco Fine Print Fair Golden Gate Club, Presidio Trust, 135 Fisher Loop, SF; 10am-6pm, free. Also Sun/26, 11am-5pm. The International Fine Print Dealers Association presents this annual survey of printmaking by renowned artists, with a full gamut of goods: traditional Japanese woodcuts, 19th century etchings, contemporary works, and more.

“Vascularium: Closing Show for Freya Prowe” Accident & Artifact, 381 Valencia, SF; (415) 437-9700. 7pm, free. A closing reception for artist Freya Prowe’s “Vascularium,” an exhibit filled with inky, visceral works inspired by arteries, roots, and tentacles.


Jessica Alexander Booksmith, 1644 Haight, SF; 7:30pm, free. The author discusses her memoir, Chasing Chaos: My Decade in and Out of Humanitarian Aid.

Melinda Chateauvert Books Inc., 2275 Market, SF; 7:30pm, free. The author discusses Sex Workers Unite: A History of the Movement from Stonewall to Slutwalk. Visit for info on Chateauvert’s participation in a fundraiser for the Litigate to Emancipate Fund this week.

“Dennis McKenna: The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss” Emerald Tablet, 80 Fresno, SF; 7-8:30pm, free. The younger brother of late philosopher, writer, and counterculture icon Terence McKenna discusses their relationship at this event co-hosted by City Lights.

“The Shape of Sound” Saylor’s Restaurant, 2009 Bridgeway, Sausalito; 7-9pm, $5 suggested donation. The San Francisco Bay Area American Cetacean Society presents this talk by Mark Fischer on his work creating images from the sounds of birds, whales, and dolphins using the Aguasonic process.

“Sutro’s Glass Palace: The Rise and Fall of Sutro Baths” St. Philip’s Catholic Church, 725 Diamond, SF; 7:30pm, $5. Ever wondered about those ruins out by the Cliff House? Get the full story on the Sutro Baths at this San Francisco History Association-hosted talk by fourth-generation San Franciscan and professional researcher John Martini. * beloved in Pope land! Local porn site among top downloaded in Vatican City [UPDATED]


A local anti-BDSM porn activist emailed me tidings of Flash magazine’s Guatanamo-themed Coachella party this morning as proof that “’ s influence is spreading, albeit interrupted by the sex-negative Philistines of Coachella.” Leaving aside the well-worth-it debate over the role art and nightlife have in political parody and the fact that torture in fact, existed well before Kink founder Peter Acworth (it wasn’t called the “Kinkquisition,” darling), I would say this is about 8,000 times more convincing proof that is winning hearts and minds, should you need proof of such a thing.

According to Torrentfreak (and helpfully elaborated on by Fleshbot) the local BDSM site is responsible for two of the 13 most-pirated downloads in Vatican City. No, not top porn downloads, the most-pirated files, period.

Yes, for while Love Actually came in at #6, a scene featuring Lea Lexis and Krissy Lynn on “lezdom bondage” Kink site Whipped Ass followed close behind at #8, and #13 was occupied by Tiffany Starr and Sheena Shaw on the TS Pussyhunters site. 

We’re putting out the feelers to Kink to see how news of their influence in — and being robbed of revenue by — the world’s most flamboyantly attired country is being recieved by the company, stand by for post updates. 

UPDATE: Acworth has released a statement that implies the Vatican will espace legal action from the website:

While we don’t support theft of content, in this case we’re happy whoever he (or she) is is enjoying our movies. Our mission is to demystify BDSM and celebrate alternate sexuality. This is different from the Catholic Church’s mission which has (traditionally) been to shame anyone who deviates from a sexuality that isn’t procreative. We figure whoever is downloading these movies is feeling a fare amount of shame as it is, so we’ll let this one slide.

Read Acworth’s full statement here, featuring more Kink-Church comparisons like, “what is subspace if not a way to exorcise demons?” 

Archbishop announces nuptials


San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone announced today that he would wed his longtime lover, Lupe, a tennis pro at the Bay Club.

“It will be a simple ceremony, as befits two humble servants in the eyes of our Lord,” George Wesolek, spokesman for the Archdiocese of  San Francisco, told us.

The marriage will take place in Connecticut, because same-sex nuptials are not at this point legal in California, Wesolek said. “Jesus casts a wide net, and we are happy to be able to include the Nutmeg State as part of our sister congregation — not that we are really sisters, which might suggest some sort of incest, which would be a sin,” he noted.

Cordileone has been an outspoken foe of same-sex marriage and has repeatedly argued that sex should only occur as part of  a procreative plan.  But Wesolek said the Catholic Church, which once sold tickets to free souls from purgatory and collaborated with the Nazis in World War II, has a history of moral flexibility.

“Plus, Lupe has a really cute ass,” he said.

 The couple plans to honeymoon in Argentina.

The Pope’s political sins


OPINION I still remember when I was removed from solitary confinement into the general inmate population of Tres Alamos — one of the infamous concentration camps of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet -– and the special welcome given to us 30 or so freshly arrived detainees by the commander of the camp, Conrado Pacheco.

He was dressed in his best military attire. I will never forget the clattering of his black shiny boots, his watery eyes, his mouth salivating like a predator before a feast.

The bloody military rule was in full swing. It was the end of 1975, a time when one of the fiercest repressions was unleashed against the left, the supporters of the ousted Salvador Allende’s government — and the progressive wing of the Catholic church, lead mostly by Jesuit priests.

Next to me was a tall dirty man with a somber yet authoritative look behind his glasses. A bold lawyer who later became president of Amnesty International, Jose Zalaquett’s unclenched look made Conrado Pacheco uneasy. The curas buenos — the good priests Patricio Gajardo and US citizen Daniel Panchot — were also standing in the line.

The roughed up lawyer and priests were from the Comité Pro Paz. Created a few months after the military coup of 1973 the Committee for Peace was the only organization that, under the protection of a sector of the Catholic Church, was defending and giving sanctuary to the thousands of victims of human rights violations.

The welcoming speech of the commander waxed Nazi-like verbose about nationalism, order, communist evil, Che Guevara, and sarcastic references about God. “Mister lawyer here,” I remember him saying while looking at Zalaquett, “since he should be outside and not inside … I’m not sure what he can do to defend you all.” And pointing at the priests, the scoundrel said, “since we have two distinguished representatives of God, you all now know where to go in case you have some pending debts with the Lord, you all fucking sinners!”

All these memories flooded back to me when I learned about the ascent of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis I, and the stories dripping out of Argentina about his collusion with the military during the guerra sucia, dirty war.

Horacio Verbinsky, an Argentinean investigative journalist who has written extensively about the church and the military, wrote in his 1995 book, The Silence, that Bergoglio gave information to the Argentinean secret police about the activities of the Jesuit priests Francisco Jalics and Orlando Yorio, after they refused to stop working with the poor in Buenos Aires’ shanty towns. Bergoglio dropped their protection, a sort of immunity offered to the Jesuit society by the military, which eventually lead to their arrest. Both were brutally tortured and dumped drugged and naked on a wasteland.

Bergoglio also befriended General Emilio Massera, a member of the Argentinean military junta, who was later accused of crimes against humanity and of stealing the babies of disappeared political prisoners to be raised by military families.

Jalics, Yorio, and those two fathers I came to know in prison, Gajardo and Panchot, were among those priests who followed to the letter the teachings of Christ to protect the helpless, to feed and be with the needy and did not capitulate in silence.

The Vatican has recognized that Bergoglio asked “a request for forgiveness of the Church in Argentina for not having done enough at the time of the dictatorship …” But the statement, read by Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi March 15, falls short.

The Sumo Pontífice, the Pope Francis l, the one who will lead more than 1.1 billion people, must come clean and respond to all the testimony that is fogging his character. He must side with truth and justice; the only door that can lead us to reconciliation. After all, forgiveness, after the truth comes out, has always been an option in the Catholic Church.

Fernando Andrés Torres is a San Francisco writer

The human price of Catholic conservatism


A new book by local historian William Issel explains the key role the Catholic Church played in funding and supporting progressive causes in 20th Century San Francisco, and Randy Shaw’s take on it is accurate: For a while, in the 1970s and 1980s, the Church funded a lot of the tenant advocacy and poverty work in this city. The other side of that is a piece of the debate over the new Pope that we’re not hearing much.

As John Paul II moved the Church to the right, he also shifted its focus — away from concerns with economic justice and towards issues like same-sex marraige and abortion (oh, and covering up sex crimes by priests). In the process, not only did vast numbers of Western Catholics start to lose faith in their church — the money and focus that used to help local activists fight for the poor went away.

The new Pope Francis I is known for his work on poverty — but not for his advocacy of progressive organizations that take that fight out of the pulpit and into the streets, where material good is done.

There’s a human cost to the conservatism of the Catholic Church, and it goes way beyond the altar.


San Francisco female priest and gay Catholics react to selection of Pope Francis

Victoria Rue, a female Roman Catholic Priest, leads a small community of renegade Catholic worshipers in San Francisco. Ordained by a trio of female Bishops on a boat on the St. Lawrence Seaway in 2005, she’s part of a growing international movement to dismantle the longstanding ban on female clergy and push the Catholic Church in a more liberal direction. Although Rue was excommunicated shortly after her ordination, she continues to consider herself a Catholic.

Contacted by the Guardian shortly after Pope Benedict stepped down last month, Rue said, “It’s just as much my church as [former Pope Benedict] Cardinal Ratzinger’s church.” She regarded his resignation as a welcome, if limited, opportunity to push the church in the direction of inclusivity.

But that’s a tall order to say the least; the Pope selection process is fundamentally flawed, Rue says, since “women are left out completely from the process.”

And while Rue said the selection of Pope Francis showed some sensitivity to the church’s changing constituency — “The fact that he is Argentinian is definitely a positive sign” — the newly chosen pope also pushed for legislation to ban gay marriage and gay adoption in Argentina. The church’s conservative values are entrenched: When it comes to LGBT rights, female priests, and contraception, the incoming Pope isn’t likely to budge.

“There is extremely limited hope for a new direction in the Church,” said Tom Piazza, a member of Sophia in Trinity, a San Francisco Roman Catholic church.

Piazza, who is in his 70s, says he grew up Catholic but felt alienated by the Church’s conservative tone — and local Catholics like him are increasingly at odds with the Roman Catholic Church. While it continues to champion conservative social mores, the majority of local Catholics now support gay marriage, according to a recent Field Poll.

The San Francisco Archdiocese is currently headed by Salvatore Cordileone, a major proponent of Prop 8. Cordileone served as the chairman of The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ subcommittee for the defense of marriage, and his appointment to the San Francisco Archdiocese was widely understood as an effort to rein in the city’s diverse Catholic community.

The  ideological rift between parishioners and the hierarchy is most apparent at Most Holy Redeemer Church, in the Castro — home to San Francisco’s active gay-Catholic community. The parishioners at Most Holy Redeemer routinely clash with conservative church leadership. Bishop Cordileone has even suggested that the Church’s gay couples refrain from taking communion.  

Father Brian Costello, the priest at Most Holy Redeemer, recently removed a picture of former Pope Benedict XVI from the Church after parishioners raised concerns about the Pope’s homophobic leanings. In a letter to the community, Costello expressed hope that with the selection of a new Pope, gay Catholics could work to “embrace the Pope and the Church, even when they don’t accept us.”

Jesuit Priest Donal Godfrey, author of Gays and Grays, a history of the gay Catholic community at Most Holy Redeemer, sees the ascension of Francis as a welcome opportunity to change the relationship between San Francisco’s Catholics and the church leadership.

“I want to get away from the dynamic of always getting put in our place. Instead of being smacked on the head and being told we are not good Catholics, we should create a space where we aren’t frightened to share our truths,” he told the Guardian.

At Sophia in Trinity, Rue echoes Godfrey’s concerns and hopes that the new Pope Francis will allow local Catholics to collaborate more closely in her community. “In the future, if a parish wants to work with a woman priest, maybe they won’t get their hand slapped by the Church hierarchy.”

Guest opinion: Pinochet, the Pope and good priests


By Fernando Andrés Torres

I still remember when I was removed from solitary confinement into the general inmate population of Tres Alamos — one of the infamous concentration camps of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet -– and the special welcome given to us 30 or so freshly arrived detainees by the commander of the camp, Conrado Pacheco.

He was dressed in his best military attire. I will never forget the clattering of his black shiny boots, his watery eyes, his mouth salivating like a predator before a feast. The bloody military rule was in full swing. It was the end of 1975, a time when one of the fiercest repressions was unleashed against the left, the supporters of the ousted Salvador Allende’s government — and the progressive wing of the Catholic church, lead mostly by Jesuit priests.

There were workers, teachers, artists and students. Like my father, I was an agnostic just finishing high school and very much involved with the underground resistance movement when I was taken at gunpoint from the school.

Next to me was a tall dirty man with a somber yet authoritative look behind his glasses. A bold lawyer who later became president of Amnesty International, Jose Zalaquett’s unclenched look made Conrado Pacheco uneasy. The curas buenos — the good priests Patricio Gajardo and US citizen Daniel Panchot —  were also standing in the line in a cold sweat.

The welcoming was special because among the prisoners, these roughed up lawyers and priests from the Comité Pro Paz, stood out.
Created a few months after the military coup of 1973 the Comité Pro Paz, Committee for Peace, was the only organization that under the protection of a sector of the Catholic Church was defending and giving sanctuary to the thousands of victims of human rights violations. It was closed down by Pinochet himself in November of 1975. But three months later Cardinal Silva Henríquez created a similar organization named Vicarship of the Solidarity.

Beside the insults, the welcoming speech of the commander waxed Nazi-like verbose about nationalism, order, communist evil, Che Guevara, and sarcastic references about God. “Mister lawyer here,” I remember him saying while looking at Zalaquett, “since he should be outside and not inside … I’m not sure what he can do to defend you all.” And pointing at the priests, the scoundrel said, “since we have two distinguished representatives of God, you all now know where to go in case you have some pending debts with the Lord, you all fucking sinners!”

All these memories flooded back to me when I learned about the ascent of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis I, and the stories dripping out of Argentina about his collusion with the military during the guerra sucia, dirty war, his pending trials and his alleged complicit silence.

There is nothing new here: During those harsh years, the church was divided amongst those priests who stood up to defend Christ’s children and those who retreated to silence. Every military garrison had its chaplain, every piece of military equipment was baptized, and there were priests who were victims of torture and even killed (Miguel Woodward in Chile) as well as priests who were in concomitance with the torturers (Christian Federico von Wernich, now serving a life sentence in Argentina).

Horacio Verbinsky, an Argentinean investigative journalist who has written extensively about the church and the military, wrote in his 1995 book, The Silence, that Bergoglio gave information to the Argentinean secret police, known as the death squads, about the activities of the Jesuits priests Francisco Jalics and Orlando Yorio, after they refused to stop working with the poor in Buenos Aires’ shanty towns. Bergoglio dropped their protection, a sort of immunity offered to the Jesuit society by the military, which eventually lead to their arrest. Both were brutally tortured and dumped drugged and naked on a wasteland. A lawsuit filed in 2005 accused Bergoglio in the abductions.

Bergoglio also befriended General Emilio Massera, a member of the Argentinean military junta, who was later accused of crimes against humanity and of stealing the babies of disappeared political prisoners to be raised by military families.

As columnist Cristian Joel Sánchez recently wrote from Chile, Bergoglio is “morally accused for his complicit silence in the abduction of babies … as in the case of the founder of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, Alice de la Cuadra’s granddaughter … But in the end, many of the leaders of the Latin American     churches have their history and the responsibility of which, according to their beliefs, must be answered to their God.”

Jalics, Yorio, and those two fathers I befriended in prison, Gajardo and Panchot, were among those priests who followed to the letter the teachings of Christ to protect the helpless, to feed and be with the needy and did not capitulate in silence.

The Vatican has recognized that Bergoglio was indeed “questioned by an Argentinian court as someone aware of the situation but never as a defendant,” and that he promoted “a request for forgiveness of the Church in Argentina for not having done enough at the time of the dictatorship …” But the statement, read by Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi March 15, falls short in answering the abundant details of Bergoglio’s behavior and actions during the dirty war.

The Sumo Pontífice, the Pope Francis l, the one who will lead more than 1.1 billion people, must come clean and respond to all the testimony that is fogging his character. He must side with truth and justice; the only door that can lead us to reconciliation. After all, forgiveness, after the truth comes out, has always been an option in the Catholic Church.

On the Cheap listings


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1960’s Go-Go Groove Make-out Room, 3225 22nd St., SF. 7pm, free. Bust out those white go-go boots and learn some standard ’60s dance moves like the twist, jerk, pony, watusi, hully gully — even the tighten up! If you’re in need of some liquid courage before you shake it, head over to the Make-out Room at 6pm for some sweet happy hour deals.


“Bold Local NightLife” California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse, SF. 6-10pm, $12. Art and science converge as the Bold Italic website takes over this week’s Nightlife at the Academy of Sciences. Meet the local merchants, designers, artists, and producers from the ‘hoods we know and love. Folks from Misdirections Magic Shop, bakery co-op Arizmendi, wine delivery service Rewinery, and more will all have tables alongside the alligators, jellyfish, and penguins.

“Growing Pains, The Business of Cannabis in San Francisco” San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, 654 Mission, second floor, SF. 6:30-7:30pm, free. RSVP suggested. SF Appeal editor Eve Batey and writers Heather Donahue and Chris Roberts will explore the state of marijuana in SF, and possible impacts of proposed cannabis legislative reforms. If you have a specific topic or question you would like addressed, email before tonight’s talk.


“Dance Anywhere” Various locations throughout the Bay Area. Noon, free. Why wait until tonight to get your groove on? In this global event — offshoots are taking place in major cities around the globe — participants are encouraged to stop whatever they’re doing when the clock strikes 12, and bust a move. Performances by professional dancers will take place at the SFMOMA, City Hall, and Yerba Buena Center.

“PhotographsPlus” Dogpatch Café and Art Gallery, 2295 Third St., SF. Through May 10. Opening reception 6-8pm, free. This exhibit features local artist Shawn Ray Harris includes three distinct series of works created over the last 15 years. Endowed with a whimsical charm, Harris’ work offers a look into urban landscapes and the creatures that inhabit them.

“Game On” 1AM Gallery, 1000 Howard, SF. Through April 20. Opening reception: 6:30-9:30pm, free. We need not remind you that nerds are the new cool kids. Instead, we’ll let the new show at street art-centric 1AM Gallery lend more evidence to prove the point. Its new group show highlights videogame characters rendered in vinyl doll and canvas by graf artists like Vogue TDK, Estria, and Mike “Bam” Tyau.


Easter egg hunt for dogs Golden Gate Park, Marx Meadow, SF. Noon-2pm, $15. Purchase tickets online. Help your pup sniff out some of the 2,000-plus plastic eggs containing treats and prizes at dog and cat resort, Wag Hotel’s fourth annual fundraiser benefiting local animal rescue organizations. Attendees will also enjoy complimentary hor d’oeuvres and beverages, have a chance to see how their doggie bud feels about the Easter Bunny.

Art Explosion spring open studio Art Explosion Studios, 2425 17th St., SF. 7-11pm, free. Also Sun/24, noon-5pm. One of San Francisco’s largest art collectives will be holding its 13th annual spring open studio this weekend. Check out work from over 140 artist, painters, photographers, fashion designers, jewelers, and textile designers from around the city.


Backyard Foraging book signing Omnivore Books, 3885A Cesar Chavez, SF. 3-4pm, free. You don’t need to trek into the forest to forage edible plants. Ideal for first-time foragers, Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat by Ellen Zachos features 70 edible weeds, flowers, mushrooms, and ornamental plants typically found in urban or suburban neighborhoods. Head over to Omnivore Books today to meet Zachos, listen to her speak about her book, and get a signed copy.

SF Mixtape Society exchange The Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St., SF. 4-6pm, free. The San Francisco Mixtape Society is dedicated to the art of making and exchanging music mixes. Attendees are invited to assemble a mix according to the theme (this month is “anchors and sails”) in cassette, CD, or USB form. Come ready for newness: a magically random raffle will send you home with someone else’s mix at the end of the night. Record yours in cassette form and score yourself a free drink.


Izzies Awards Ceremony Z Space, 450 Florida, SF. 6-8pm, free. The Oscars may be over but award season has not come to a close just yet. The 27th Annual Izzies awards will take place tonight, honoring outstanding achievements in dance across the Bay Area. Hosting the ceremony is AileyCamp director David McCauley, and CounterPULSE executive and artistic director Jessica Robinson. After the ceremony, mingle with some dance big shots over dessert and coffee.


French cinema class Alliance Française, 1345 Bush, SF. 6:45pm, $5. To help non-French speakers discover French cinema, the Alliance Française of San Francisco is offering this weekly Tuesday night class, which includes a French film screening followed by a discussion. The class will take place in the Alliance Française’s intimate theatre where free wine, refreshments, popcorn (and English subtitles) will be provided.

“Remnants of San Francisco: Pieces of the Bygone City” St. Philip’s Catholic Church, 725 Diamond, SF. 7:30pm, $5. San Francisco’s architecture is decorative, meticulous, and often begs the question of passers-by: “what is the story here?” Get that tale tonight as historian Christopher Pollock will present before and after photos of significant architecture around the city, explaining the buildings’ significance and why they were built the way they were.


Look who supports same-sex marriage


The latest Field Poll is very good news for supporters of same-sex marriage in California — residents of this state now support gay nuptials by almost 2-1. That’s a dramatic change since 2008, when Prop. 8 passed; in fact, the poll shows the approval margin widening significantly in just the past two years. And we all know that this is a demographic shift (voters under 40 are in favor by 78 percent, and most of the opposition is among the 60-plus crowd) so the numbers are only going in one direction.

But here’s one of the more interesting elements of the poll: In California, 55 percent of Catholics support same-sex marriage.

That’s something the College of Cardinals ought to be (but clearly isn’t) thinking about in the upcoming Papal Enclave. Frankly, very few Catholics in the US or Europe pay much attention to the church’s teachings on sex anymore. And as we all know, once the faithful decide that half of what you’re saying is pretty stupid, they’re going to pay less attention to the rest of it. In other words, the Church is becoming far less relevant in this country, and another conservative white Pope — and that’s who’s likely getting elected — will just continue that trend.