Our Weekly Picks: May 18-24, 2011




Larry Flynt

To some, Larry Flynt is crass smut peddler. For many others, he is a champion for the First Amendment who has engaged in a variety of legal battles defending the freedom of speech since the 1970s, perhaps most infamously against the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. The legendary Hustler publisher comes to the city to discuss his new book, One Nation Under Sex, in which the now 68-year-old media mogul examines the world of politicians and sex scandals — and their impacts on American history. In addition to a book signing, Flynt’s coauthor, Columbia University professor David Eisenbach, will join him in conversation with the San Francisco Chronicle’s Phil Bronstein. (Sean McCourt)

6:30 p.m., $7–$45

Commonwealth Club

595 Market, SF

(415) 597-6700



Tales of the City

Armistead Maupin’s San Francisco spirit gets a musical makeover courtesy of American Conservatory Theater in the new production Tales of the City, directed by Jason Moore, with libretto by Tony Award-winning writer Jeff Whitty, music and lyrics by John Garden and Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters, and choreography by Larry Keigwin. Based on Maupin’s two novels set in 1970s San Francisco, Tales of the City and More Tales of the City, the author’s memorable characters navigate the foggy skies, disco clubs, and legendary 28 Barbary Lane. As A.C.T.’s biggest undertaking ever, the grand musical boasts a large cast and celebrates the glorious oddities of San Francisco. Previews start this week! (Julie Potter)

Through July 10

Check website for dates and times, $35–$98

American Conservatory Theater

405 Geary, SF

(415) 749-2228



Light Asylum

Last year, James Murphy explained that by disbanding LCD Soundsystem, he would free more time to make coffee and produce for bands like Arcade Fire, the Flaming Lips and, er … Light Asylum? With a single EP recalling the goth side of New Wave, Light Asylum has made a strong impression. Bruno Coviello’s synths tend to come in first, playing tight loops that speed up the heart rate, priming it for the emotional impact of Shannon Funchess’ deep, brooding voice. (Drawing Grace Jones comparisons, if you imagine her covering Depeche Mode or Ian Curtis.) It’s ultimately captivating, accompanied by a fog machine and a dark dance floor. (Ryan Prendiville)

With Water Borders, Boyz IV Men, WhITCH, Nako, and Richie Panic

9 p.m., $10

Public Works

161 Erie, SF

(415) 932-0955




Kunst-Stoff arts/fest

Join local dance artists Mary Carbonara, Jesse Hewit, Christy Funsch, Stephen Pelton, Julia Stiefel, Marina Fukushima, and Daiane Lopes da Silva for a robust installment of Kunst Stoff arts/fest, a multi-weekend festival of cross-disciplinary performances selected by Kunst-Stoff artistic director Yannis Adoniou. Recently relocated to Civic Center, the new Kunst-Stoff space offers an intimate venue for performance and continues to champion experimental voices in the field. Come back next week for additional programs by Kunst-Stoff, Rob Bailis, Laura Arrington, Abby Crain, and Margit Galante. Performances range from works in process and improvisations to full completed works, demonstrating a broad range of contemporary expressions. (Potter)

Thurs/19–Sat/21 and May 26–28, 8:30 p.m., $15

Kunst-Stoff Arts

1 Grove, SF

(415) 777-0172



“Great Expectations: The Opulence of Alone”

Loneliness is a lot of things, but most folks wouldn’t say that it’s opulent. That’s why Bay Area artists Hannah “Daddy” Cairns, Kari “iamMom” Koller, Angela “MYSDIX” Dix, and Najva Sol are not like most folks. These boundary-bending queers and friends present an interactive gallery spectacle aimed at embracing Alone. Presented in conjunction with SF and New York City collective the Lowbrow Society for Arts (and part of the 100 Days of Spring series at local community space the Schoolhouse) this event promises encounters with life-size Victorian doll-people and wandering portrayals of Mrs. Havisham (that spinster chick from Great Expectations). Plus: video projections of bloody cow-heart romance, an uncanny photo booth, provocative poetics, a try-on costume chest, and overall enchantingly dark vibes that will make you want to go home and listen to Kate Bush alone in your bathrobe. (Hannah Tepper)

Thurs/19–Fri/20, 7 p.m., $3 suggested donation


1592 Market, SF

(240) 505-8665




Dancers are peripatetic, and not just on stage. Like the wandering minstrels of old, they travel to take their art to the people rather than sitting at home lamenting the absence of audiences. One of the more adventurous along those lines is Rande Paufve’s six-year-old “8x8x8,” which brings dancers, eight at time, to unusual performance venues (clubs, bars) with stages about eight-feet square. This year Paufve and her troupers are offering downtown dance — witty, urban, smart, small-scale — to patrons of Oakland’s Uptown, who will see choreography by Paufve as well as other locals Janet Das, Melecio Estrella and Andrew Ward, Abigail Hosein, Dandelion Dancetheater, Navarette x Kajiyama, Lisa Townsend, and (from Oregon) Gregg Bielemeier. And in the end they’ll be invited to join the dance — drink in hand. (Rita Felciano)

8:30 p.m., $8


1928 Telegraph, Oakl.



“San Francisco Cinematheque at 50”

Five decades and thousands of screenings later, San Francisco Cinematheque is having a party. The long itinerant experimental film series dates its anniversary back to the summer afternoon in 1961 when Bruce Baillie rigged a projection space in the East Bay redwoods. Canyon Cinema eventually came down from the hills and split into a distribution co-op and the Cinematheque. Neither is profitable; both are essential. Help pitch in at this festive benefit featuring films by Larry Jordan, Paul Clipson, and Kerry Laitala; live performances by garage rockers Primary Structures and longtime Beastie Boys collaborator Money Mark; and a silent art auction featuring artwork by several first-rate experimental filmmakers. (Max Goldberg)

8 p.m., $25–$45

111 Minna Gallery

111 Minna, SF

(415) 552-1990



Oakland Ballet

The renewal of ballet in Oakland seems well on its way. In December the new Artistic Director Graham Lustig’s Nutcracker was a charmer of wit and sentiment. Now he is presenting his first season with choreography by two smart, talented dance-makers. Sonja Delwaide choreographed Mozart’s enchanting glass harmonica music; Amy Seiwert adapted and enlarged her splendid 2009 “Response to Change.” In addition to a new duet, Lustig presents the entirety of his reconstituted Oakland Ballet Company through his “VISTA” with music from the Lounge Lizards. The Laney Foyer is given over to four local artists’ visual responses to watching the dancers at work. Sounds good, all of it. (Felciano)

Thurs/19–Sat/21, 8 p.m. (also Sat/21, 3 p.m.), $15–$38

Laney College

900 Fallon, Oakl.





Endangered Species Day

Aside from cockroaches, humans are one of the least imperiled species, by sheer numbers at least, on the planet. Which — combined with our big brains, opposable thumbs, and raging self-consciousness — means we have the power and the intelligence to help those less fortunate, right? The Golden Gate National Recreation Area, stretching from Point Reyes to Pacifica, has more plants and animals in federally-listed dire straits than Yosemite, Yellowstone, Sequoia, and King’s Canyon National Parks combined. Join volunteer habitat restoration projects in the Presidio, Muir Beach, and San Mateo’s Milagra Ridge to honor the Senate-designated Endangered Species Day. Save the world? Save yourself? Is there a difference? You are the environment, sweet pea! (Kat Renz)

 Fri/20, 1–4 p.m.; Sat/21, 9 a.m.–1 p.m., free

Various locations

(415) 561-3077




“World War II: Fighting the War With Ink and Paint”

When the United States was drawn into World War II in December, 1941, the Walt Disney studio began contributing to the war effort in a variety of ways — making training videos for soldiers, designing insignias and logos for different branches of the military, and of course, making cartoons, albeit this time to bolster public morale. Beloved characters such as Mickey, Donald, and Pluto all did their part to comfort and encourage Americans during that difficult time. Disney historian Paul F. Anderson will be on hand for “Fighting the War With Ink and Paint,” a multimedia presentation about that fascinating and important era in the Disney legacy. (McCourt)

3 p.m., $9–$12

Walt Disney Family Museum Theater

104 Montgomery, Presidio, SF

(415) 345-6800




“Twang Sunday”

Want the most twang for your buck? Pedal or lap steel guitar, an electric or acoustic, or p’haps a banjo or piano? Git ’em all — the strings’ll be vibrating aplenty at Thee Parkside’s weekly dose of variations on the country music theme. The Careless Hearts are up from San Jose, weaving stories through harmonized drawls while blending rock ‘n’ roll, indie, folk, and of course, country, with dusty grace. Locals the GoldDiggers offer alt-country expertise, and Rick McCulley, with a throat of rocks reminiscent of a male Lucinda Williams, is power pop with an Americana edge. The music is free — and for just $5, you can get your tummy in sync with the tunes by chowing down on some pulled-pork barbecue. Yeehaw! (Renz)

4 p.m., free

Thee Parkside

1600 17th St., SF

(415) 252-1330




Bomba Estereo

A specific type of ignorant American, I can’t understand Spanish. But if I did, I probably still wouldn’t know what Liliana Saumet is saying on the mic. Hailing from Bogotá, Colombia, Bomba Estereo combines electro and cumbia to create a sublimely tropical psychedelia. But when singer Saumet really starts to rip, and the staccato drum beats seem to stand still behind her pace, a serious hip-hop element unavoidably shines through. One of the band’s last stops on their North American tour is at the extremely intimate New Parish. (Please: if the lyrics are the Colombian equivalent of the Black Eyed Peas’, don’t tell me.) (Prendiville)

8:30 p.m., $18

New Parish

579 18th St., Oakl.


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Rep Clock


Schedules are for Wed/18–Tues/24 except where noted. Director and year are given when available. Double features are marked with a •. All times are p.m. unless otherwise specified.

ARTISTS’ TELEVISION ACCESS 992 Valencia, SF; www.atasite.org. $6-7. “Other Cinema:” “Graham Connah Combo’s Travelogue Tone Poems,” Sat, 8:30.

BALBOA 3620 Balboa, SF; www.balboamovies.com. $20. “Opera, Ballet, and Shakespeare in Cinema:” Don Quixote, Wed, 7:30. Performed by the Bolshoi Ballet.

CASTRO 429 Castro, SF; (415) 621-6120, www.castrotheatre.com. Regular programming $7.50-10. The Women (Cukor, 1939), Wed, 2:30, 5:15, 8. •Raising Arizona (Coen, 1987), Thurs, 7, and The Big Lebowski (Coen, 1998), Thurs, 8:50. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Marshall, 2011), May 20-26. This film, $10-12.

CHRISTOPHER B. SMITH RAFAEL FILM CENTER 1118 Fourth St, San Rafael; (415) 454-1222, www.cafilm.org. $6.50-15. Potiche (Ozon, 2010), call for dates and times. The Princess of Montpensier (Tavernier, 2010), call for dates and times. Queen to Play (Bottaro, 2009), call for dates and times. The Double Hour (Capotondi, 2010), call for dates and times. 13 Assassins (Miike, 2010), May 20-26, call for times. My Brother Mike (Sheridan), Thurs, 7:15. This event, $15; benefit for Bukelew Programs. “Shorts in Brief: A Family Film Festival,” Sun, 2. The Power of the Powerless (Taylor, 2009), Sun, 7.

CITY COLLEGE OF SAN FRANCISCO Diego Rivera Theater, 50 Phelan, SF; www.cityshorts.tumblr.com. Free. “City College of San Francisco’s Cinema Department Presents: City Shorts Film Festival,” Thurs, 7.

FOUR STAR 2200 Clement, SF; www.lntsf.com. $10. “Asian Movie Madness:” •Tempation Summary (Ho, 1990), and Dirty Doll, Thurs, call for times.

MECHANICS’ INSTITUTE 57 Post, SF; (415) 393-0100, rsvp@milibrary.org. $10. “CinemaLit Film Series: Elizabeth Taylor, Tribute to a Star:” Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Nichols, 1966), Fri, 6.

111 MINNA 111 Minna, SF; www.sfcinema.org. $25-45. “SF Cinematheque: Cinematheque at 50,” screening and benefit party, Thurs, 8.

PACIFIC FILM ARCHIVE 2575 Bancroft, Berk; (510) 642-5249, www.bampfa.berkeley.edu. $5.50-9.50. Programming resumes June 10.

PARAMOUNT 2025 Broadway, Oakl; 1-800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com. $5. A Streetcar Named Desire (Kazan, 1951), Fri, 8.

RED VIC 1727 Haight, SF; (415) 668-3994; www.redvicmoviehouse.com. $6-10. Dead Man (Jarmusch, 1996), Wed, 2, 7, 9:25. Big in Bollywood (Meehan and Bowles, 2011), Thurs, 7:15, 9:15. Paul (Mottola, 2011), Fri-Sat, 7:15, 9:30 (also Sat, 2, 4:15). Corner Store (Bruens, 2010), Sun-Tues, 9:15 (also Sun, 2, 4:15; Mon, 7:15). The Annual (Gillane, 2011), Tues, 7:15. Tuesday screenings benefit the Red Vic.

ROXIE 3117 and 3125 16th St, SF; (415) 863-1087, www.roxie.com. $5-9.75. “I Wake Up Dreaming 2011: The Legendary and the Lost!:” •Whispering City (Otsep, 1947), Wed, 6:10, 9:55, and Ruthless (Ulmer, 1948), Wed, 8; •Smooth as Silk (Barton, 1947), Thurs, 6:40, 9:30, and Customs Agent (Friedman, 1950), Thurs, 8; •Café Hostess (Salkow, 1940), Fri, 6:40, 9:40, and Dangerous Blondes (Jason, 1943), Fri, 8; •I Love Trouble (Simon, 1948), Sat, 2, 5:45, 9:30, and Ride the Pink Horse (Montgomery, 1947), Sat, 3:45, 7:30; •The Web (Gordon, 1947), Sun, 2, 5:45, 9:30, and 711 Ocean Drive (Newman, 1950), Sun, 3:45, 7:30; •Dance Hall Racket (Tucker, 1953), Mon, 6:40, 9:20, and The Violent Years (Morgan, 1956), Mon, 8; •Chain Gang (Friedman, 1950), Tues, 6:30, 9:30, and Cell 2455, Death Row (Sears, 1955), Tues, 8. “Sex Worker Movies,” Sat, 2-midnight. This event, $8-10; for programming info, visit www.sexworkerfest.com.

VICTORIA 2961 16th St, SF; www.countercorp.org. Visit website for ticket info. “Tipping Man 6: Anti-Corporate Film Festival,” Thurs-Sat.

VIZ CINEMA New People, 1746 Post, SF; www.newpeopleworld.com. $10-25. Eatrip (Nomura, 2009), Sat, 3, 5, 7.

VORTEX ROOM 1082 Howard, SF; www.myspace.com/thevortexroom. $5 donation. •Blow-Up (Antonioni, 1966), Thurs, 9, and Baba Yaga (Farina, 1973), Thurs, 11. YERBA BUENA CENTER FOR THE ARTS 701 Mission, SF; (415) 978-2787, www.ybca.org. $6-8. “Three-Way: A Trilogy of Vintage Erotica:” Camille 2000 (Metzger, 1969), Thurs and Sat, 7:30; A Labor of Love (Flaxman and Goldman, 1976), Fri, 7:30 and Sun, 2; The Wild Pussycat (Dadiras, 1969), May 26, 7:30.

On the Cheap Listings


On the Cheap listings are compiled by Jackie Andrews. Submit items for the listings at listings@sfbg.com. For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.


Nerd alert! Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF; www.sf.nerdnite.com. 8pm, $8. Dust off your pocket protectors and Casio watches and get ready to nerd it up for the first anniversary of Nerd Nite — which just so happens to be the coolest lecture series around — with DJs, booze, and brainy babes. For this installment, Michael Epstein argues the new-found hipness of museum audio tours, Indre Viscontas gets meta with his discussion of how memory obscures truth, and Luigi Anzivino talks about the science of magic. Speaking of magic, where are all the Juggalos when you need them?

“May Fairs” opening reception Project One, 251 Rhode Island, SF; www.p1sf.com. 8pm, free. Beauty, confidence, and empowerment are a few of the themes present in the new works on display by Charmaine Olivia, Angela Simone, Megan Wolfe, and Chelsea Brown. Often dreamy and sometimes surreal, these ladies make magic happen with a variety of media. Plus, Project One has been known to throw a good party or two, with DJs and a full service bar.


Badbadbad is goodgoodgood Fivepoints Arthouse, 72 Tehama, SF; www.fivepointsarthouse.com. 7-10pm, free. Badbadbad creator Jesús Ángel García presents his transmedia novel about sex, God, rock ‘n’ roll and the social web, while combining traditional print with a soundtrack of original songs and film clips for a unique literary-audio-visual experience. Special Guests include Tony Dushane, Lauren Becker, Odessa Chen, Burlesque goddesses, and others.

Homegrown Potluck and skillshare Hayes Valley Farm, 250 Laguna, SF; www.homegrown.org. 6-8pm, free. Shepherdess Cornelia is in town for Make Magazine’s annual D.I.Y.-fest known as the Maker Faire (Sat/21 & Sun/22, San Mateo County Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo) and will be joining Homegrown for a potluck and skillshare. Meet fellow food enthusiasts, trade tips, learn new skills, share a potluck meal, and together make self watering planters, seed bombs, and more.


El Tecolote benefit art auction Minna Street Gallery, 111 Minna, SF; www.eltocolote.org, 5-9pm, free. What started out as a La Raza studies course at San Francisco State as a means to usher young Latin Americans into the field of journalism is now in its 40th year, and is also the longest running Spanish-English bilingual newspaper in California. Attend this art auction and benefit to ensure that this pillar of advocacy journalism remains a voice for the Mission District and Latino communities throughout California for at least another 40 years. Artists include Yolanda Lopez, Calixto Robles, Kate Connell, and dozens more.

Documentary double dose Recology, 900 Seventh St., SF; www.insearchofgoodfood.org, www.thegreenhorns.net. 6-10pm, free. Check out these two great documentaries about food – In Search of Good Food chronicles Antonio Roman-Acala’s quest for sustainable food systems in California (does he find any?) and The Greenhorns is a film tour of the non-profit of the same name that seeks to recruit, promote, and support young farmers around the country. A double feature about food is sure to make your mouth water, so Bi-Rite Market is thoughtfully providing popcorn and other munchies to satiate all of the revolutionary foodies and urban homesteaders in attendance.


American fashion history de Young Museum, Koret Auditorium, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, SF; www.deyoung.famsf.org. 10am, $5/$10. Kaye Spilker, resident fashion historian at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, will share her wealth of knowledge about the evolving careers of American fashion designers from the 1930s to the 1960s, the same time period that the Balenciaga fashion house – on display right now at the de Young, by the way – was actively producing couture looks in France. France gets all the glory when it comes to fashion, but a distinctive American style emerged out of both the seductive power and glamour of Hollywood and the active lives of the everyday woman who often worked outside of the home. Learn about the designers that paved the way for this new American style.


DooF-a-Palooza Jack London Square, 70 Washington, Oakl.; www.foodbackwards.com. 10am-5pm, free. To clarify, “doof” is “food” spelled backwards and the infamous DooF-balls from this Berkeley non-profit are determined to get you and your family to explore food from every possible perspective — backwards, forwards, sideways, upside-down and inside-out — at this play-with-your-food festival. Kind of like an Exploratorium with food, this all day event features everything from meatball catapulting, to stop-motion vegetable movie-making, and pizza dough tossing, as well as pony rides, a Ferris wheel, and so much more!

Why Diablo Canyon is unsafe


Bad industrial accidents have a common thread: They happen when more than one thing goes wrong. At the Fukushima nuclear plant, an earthquake damaged the reactors and a tsunami knocked out the backup generators. At Three Mile Island, a series of small mistakes cascaded into a much larger disaster.

And now a new report shows that PG&E’s Diablo Canyon plant has the same problem: Lots of smaller things are messed up, and they could lead to problems in, say, the inevitable earthquake. A fence could block a fire hose from reaching a burning or overheated reactor. The building that houses fire equipment could collapse. And, according to the Bay Citizen:

The plant’s back-up generators might not be usable during a disaster, because PG&E had not considered how to turn them on under adverse conditions. The generators are all stored in the same spot, which could make them “susceptible to a common made failure because of the similarities in design and location.”

These, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission insists, are just minor problems that can be easily fixed. Maybe so, now that they’ve been identified. But there will be other “minor” problems that haven’t shown up yet (just as the minor problem of blueprints being read backward didn’t show up until the last minute in the plant’s construction), because PG&E has never been serious about plant safety. (If the company was serious, the plant would never have been built on an active earthquake fault.)

That’s the problem with this plant (and with nukes in general). The outcome of an accident is so potentially catastrophic that normal safety measures won’t do. Even extraordinary safety measures won’t do. And Diablo is in a bad place where a predictable event — a strong quake on the Hosgri Fault — could trigger a series of unpredictable events (the fire trucks can’t get out of the shed, the backup generators won’t start, etc.) that could lead to an unimaginable disaster.

Time to shut this thing down.

City officials pedal and praise on Bike to Work Day


photos by Luke Thomas/Fog City Journal

Almost every top city official pedaled up to City Hall this morning for the 17th annual Bike to Work Day, all pledging their support for expanding safe cycling opportunities in San Francisco and declaring the bike to be a vital part of the city’s transportation infrastructure that will only grow in importance in the coming years.

“We should all feel proud that we have more to celebrate than ever in the history of Bike to Work Day,” said Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which sponsored the event and facilitated the rides by city officials, including riding Sups. Jane Kim and Carmen Chu to work on tandem bikes. Shahum praised the city for rapidly expanding the network of bike lanes and facilities over the last year.

Shahum accompanied Mayor Ed Lee on a ride along JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park (which Lee announced will soon get the city’s next separated green bikeway), along car-clogged Fell and Oak streets, through the Wiggle, and along Market Street toward City Hall.

Lee told us, “I feel good, exhilarated,” as he neared City Hall, where he and officials gave speeches praising bikes and calling for improvements to the system. “I want to experiment with ways to have detached bike lanes on Fell and Oak,” Lee said to the applause of cyclists familiar with competing with cars on those fast-moving streets.

Lee also declared his support for the goals of SFBC’s Connecting the City initiative, which calls for a system of safe, crosstown bikeways, connecting the bay to the ocean and the northern waterfront to the south side of the city. He also called for continuing the green bike lanes on Market Street all the way to the Ferry Building and said, “I’m dedicated to it.”

Board President David Chiu, who sponsored the legislation that set the goal of achieving 20 percent of all vehicle trips by bicycle by the year 2020, said he was proud to see so many bikes on the streets today. “Thank you for showing the world how we roll,” he told the crowd, also voicing his support for the crosstown bike route plan. “We have to imagine safe enough conditions for 8- and 80-year-olds to bike.”

“It makes us a healthier, happier, and more vibrant city when we bike together,” Sup. Eric Mar told the gathering.

Sup. Sean Elsbernd was the only member of the board not to bike today, but his fellow fiscal conservative Sup. Mark Farrell biked in from District 2 and told the gathering that improving the city’s bicycling infrastructure “is critical to our future.”

Chu doesn’t ride a bike, but she hoped on a tandem bike with SFBC board member Amandeep Jawa and told him, “Thanks for helping me see San Francisco in a new way,” noting her new appreciation for the sights, smells, and small details that opened up along a route to work that she usually drives.

Sup. Ross Mirkarimi called his District 5 the “epicenter” for cycling in the city and declared, “It’s time that we take back Masonic Boulevard…to make sure it’s safe for bicyclists and pedestrians.”

Sup. Jane Kim told the crowd, “I grew up a city girl and I never learned how to ride a bike,” but said that former SFBC director Dave Snyder and others have been trying to teach her recently. In her ride in on the back of a tandem bike, “I got to feel how unsafe it is to have cars and buses jostle around you.”

Sup. Scott Wiener told the gathering, “This was my first Bike to Work Day and it’s not going to be my last.”

Sup. David Campos told us he really enjoyed his ride up Valencia Street, where the stoplights are timed to the pace of bicyclists. “It’s the best ride in the city. If we can make more streets like Valencia we’d be in better shape,” Campos told us.

In his speech, Campos said, “We have so much happening around bicycling, bu we also have a long way to go.”

Sup. Malia Cohen said she biked the longest way in to City Hall, all the way from 3rd Street and Thomas, and that she was happy about both the bike infrastructure improvements and carfree events like Sunday Streets. “I want to encourage you all to come out to the Bayview for Sunday Streets [on June 12],” she said.

For all the celebration and improvements to the system, Sup. John Avalos said it’s important to continue establishing respect on the roads for bicyclists. “We have to change many minds about biking in San Francisco,” he said.

To illustrate the increasingly important role that bicycling is playing in San Francisco, SFMTA Commissioner Cheryl Brinkman cited city studies showing a 58 percent increasing in the number of cyclists on the streets of San Francisco over the last four years, noting a comparable increase in Muni ridership or in motorists on the roads would have resulted in gridlock in those systems.

“It’s a good lesson for us,” Brinkman said, voicing support for the goal to creating 100 miles of dedicated bikeways throughout the city in order to promote safe cycling.

Let ’em know, Vieux Farka Touré


Sunny, fresh spring days like these make me want to grab my Nishiki and ride out to — screw work — dappled country roads. For this kind of idyllic impetuousity, one could ask for no better soundtrack than the thoroughly African, thoroughly rock ‘n’ roll riffs of Vieux Farka Touré, heir apparent to the dad Ali Farka Touré’s indigo Malian blues throne.

To mark the release of The Secret, a recent relase featuring traditional African instruments like the n’goni and vocal stylings by — Dave Matthews? (He is — South — African, after all, and Touré calls his voice “diabolical,” which we hope is a good thing.) Touré is making a much-anticipated voyage to the Bay Area that will kick off this weekend with a concert at the Independent (Sun/15). But perhaps most exciting of all, he’ll be teaching an African blues guitar master class the next day at St. Cyprian’s Church. Crib some of his skills and you can be on the guest list for my next backroads cruise (does your six string fit in your pannier?). 

We caught him via electronic mail for a chat about teaching, and having a kickass dad. 

San Francisco Bay Guardian: I’m interested in this guitar class you’re giving next week. What can you really teach someone in a single day about playing an instrument?  

Vieux Farka Touré: Of course I can’t teach more than the basic idioms of playing Malian blues. But I can show some basic styles and methods that open up the guitar to African style improvisation. There are several differences, technical and mental, between playing African music and Western music. So we’ll explore those difference and I’ll offer a few “secrets.”   


SFBG: Have you taught many other classes? Why do you spend time teaching?  

VFT: I have students in Mali a lot, including Americans. In life, one must always be a student and a teacher. It does good for humanity.   


SFBG: Was your dad your teacher growing up? What was that like learning from a musical legend? 

VFT: I was not aware of my father’s international fame until I traveled with him to France when I was a teenager. Of course, I knew how he was respected in Mali. But anyways, I didnt really learn guitar from him (though I learned so many other lessons about life from him). It was my uncle Afel Bocoum who brought me into music in niafunke when I was young, and then I studied at the Arts Institute in Bamako. Then both Toumani Diabate and my father began teaching me things. I am very lucky to have had these mentors. They hold wisdom of hundreds of years in their fingers.   


SFBG: At this point in your career, what are you still learning about on the guitar? 

VFT: I am always learning. I’m learning different styles, different scales and modes, and above all control. You can never have 100 percent control of your instrument, but you can also get closer to 100 percent.   


SFBG: You’re getting the chance to share your music all over the world — and learn from the rest of the world in return. How is that opportunity affecting your music? 

VFT: I think you can hear that in my albums and in my live show. There is a consistent base, like the base of a soup, but thrown in are rock, funk, reggae, Arabic styles, even hip-hop sometimes. All together they make my personal sound and make me a new branch on the tree of Malian music.


Guitar master class with Vieux Farka Touré

Mon/16 7 p.m., $40

St. Cyprian’s Church

2097 Turk, SF

(415) 259-1658


Upcoming concerts:  

Sun/15 8 p.m., $15

The Independent

628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421



Tues/17 8 p.m., $21

Mystic Theatre

23 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma

(707) 765-9211


Drinking al Frisco



RUGGY’S YELP Lately the weather around San Francisco has been more akin to what you’d expect in a city like San Diego. Or San Antonio (remember Pewee, there’s no basement in the Alamo!). Or heck, even San Felipe, Mexico.

Feel free to insert your own tropical “San” destination as a point of comparison, but the fact remains: we’ve been as spoiled as a Kardashian sister in an NBA locker room over the last couple of weeks with this delicious abundance of California sunshine. When those warm days and nights take hold in our usually mild metropolis, the low hanging fruit for al fresco assimilation frequently ends up being Zeitgeist. But believe it or not, that’s not the only gunslinger in the Wild West of outdoor indulgence.

Looking to take a break from slugging bloody marys among a sea of tight-jeaned counter-culturalists? Check out a few of these lesser-known destinations for exoteric irrigation.



Taking up residency in an area of town better known for its seedy rathskellers and nondescript, shadowy tap rooms lies one of the most impressive open air asylums in town. With enough room to play a round of jai alai with every last member of the Polyphonic Spree, Jones is easily the most sprawling rooftop deck you’ll find anywhere in this seven-by-seven-mile playground. Featuring nibbles by Ola Fendert of Oola fame, the menu includes everything from fried chicken and waffles and Humboldt Fog pizza to lighter fare of seasonal soups, steamed mussels, and ambrosial salads, accompanied by an array of beer, wine, and specialty cocktail selections. Jones does channel a bit of the fist-pumping Ruby Skye scene at times, but don’t let a few spray-tanned fashionistas deter you from one of the best hangs under the stars for a balmy, cloudless night.

620 Jones, SF. (415) 496-6858, www.620-jones.com



This relative newcomer to the skids sits high above the curbs of the Sixth and Market interchange with a cozy garden setting ripe for an extended stopover any time of day. While pigeons fight over discarded bones from nearby Louisiana Fried Chicken and free-spirited drifters engage in heated debates with various inanimate objects, dive into a chilled glass of pinot grigio or a frothy pint of Lagunitas IPA (beer and wine only here) while devouring French-inspired treats like artisan fromage and meaty baguette sandwiches. While most menu selections don’t necessarily give Thomas Keller a run for his money, the croque monsieur is not to be missed if you know what’s good for ya.

28 Sixth St., SF. (415) 437-9730



In the space where the parking lot for the KFC that previously called this space home once stood is a finger-lickin’ good outdoor veranda, perfect for throwing back a few adult libations in the heart of the Mission. Few are aware of Spork’s hidden bucolic surroundings, so if it’s date night and you’re looking to impress your boo with an under-the-radar retreat, it will do the trick nicely.

And it ain’t no parking lot ambiance, either. The vintage record player that spits out tunes in the corner makes for a easefully hip aura perfect for tipping back a gaggle of hard-to-pronounce barley-malted bevies. In the event temperatures dip a little beyond your comfort level, the crew will gladly fire up the heatlamps to ensure that your goose bumps don’t get too out of hand. (Of course you could always take the opportunity to keep your dining companion warm with some old-fashioned 98 degree body heat, but we’ll leave that up to you, player.)

1058 Valencia, SF. (415) 643-5000, www.sporksf.com

The raffish Ruggy Joesten is senior community manager at Yelp.com.


The fun side of bikes



Paul Freedman, a.k.a. the Fossil Fool, is a singer-songwriter and builder of elaborate art bikes who lives in San Francisco’s Mission District. Since 2001, when he decided to apply his Harvard University education to building custom bikes, accessories, pedal-powered products, and mobile sound systems, Freedman created Fossil Fool and Rock the Bike to sell his creations and provide a platform for his performances and alternative transportation advocacy work.

But anyone who’s watched Freedman build and ride his creations — such as his latest, El Arbol, a 14-foot fiberglass tree built around a double-decker tall bike with elaborate generator, sound, and lighting systems and innovative landing gears — knows this is a serious labor of love by an individual at the forefront of Bay Area bike culture. We caught up with him recently to discuss his work and vision.

SFBG How did Rock the Bike start?

FOSSIL FUEL I was working at a shop in Berkeley and I decided to make my first bike music system, which I called Soul Cycles. So I had that other job at a bicycle nonprofit, which is cool, and that was the first impetus. I did two innovative things with my first bike music system: I put the controls on the handlebars, which I’d never seen anyone do, and I put speaker back-lighting to make the speakers look nice at night. I used a really nice CFL fluorescent lamp, and I started playing around with those and it looked great, so that was our first product for those first three or four years.

SFBG What was going on in the larger culture at the time that led you to believe your interest in bikes and technology was going to be fruitful or make an interesting statement?

FF I care deeply about biking and a lot of the people I was with did too, but I felt like the bicycle advocacy scene was not very effective when it came to actual outreach. I felt like the thing that had been really formative for me was this person-to-person interaction, in my case by hanging out with the guys who started Xtracycle, and going on quests to get ingredients for dinner and riding late at night with the music systems on the tour. I felt like those experiences were what made bicycling appealing, but the bike advocacy scene was using guilt trips and telling people you should ride a bike because you’re too fat and you should ride a bike because there’s too much traffic. And I felt like we needed to shift that mindset and really start focusing on the fun aspects of biking and the social aspects to grow the scene.

SFBG Do you feel like it has, and what effect do you think it had on those who weren’t already riding bikes?

FF I think it’s moving that direction. Even within traditional bike advocacy groups, those people are starting to really focus on their events and creating community, in a good way, and challenging themselves with doing so. And I think that’s really positive.

SFBG Your timing also dovetailed with heightened green awareness — with a push for renewable energy, concerns over peak oil, and things like that.

FF Yeah, I feel that transportation choices are the main thing people need to examine about their lives with respect to their impact on global warming. And that’s not just a feeling, that’s the consensus of the Union of Concerned Scientists. They say that if you want to have an impact on the planet, positive or negative, the first thing you should consider is your transportation habits. So that means flying, it means driving, and everything else. I don’t think it’s really beneficial to focus on what people need to do with a car, like they need to drop their kids off. It’s more important how people do the optional things with cars like the trips to Tahoe, and the flights to Mexico. It’s those optional things I want to focus on, which is why I’m so interested in Sunday Streets, which is like the antidote. It’s this thing you can do here, that you can walk and bike to, that’s as fun as driving to Tahoe.

SFBG Through your technology and design work, it also seems like you’re showing a broad range of what people can do on a bike, with lots of cargo or a whole performance stage setup. Do you think design is convincing people that bikes are more versatile that they thought they were?

FF Oh yeah, I think that would be a really beneficial outcome of this work. By riding through town with our music gear, of course people are going to look at that and think, oh yeah, I could probably go to Rainbow Grocery and buy a bunch of food for my household on a bike. So it would be a great outcome if people would make that connection.

SFBG Is there anything about San Francisco that makes people here more receptive to your message?

FF San Francisco is a very tight city geographically. It’s not like Phoenix. The blocks are pretty short here and the distances are pretty short here, and you can ride year-round here, which is not true in Boston where I grew up.

SFBG The focus on technology and design here also probably helps, right?

FF Oh, for sure. This is an awesome place to be prototyping and doing funky mechanical, electrical art. There’s a lot of support for it. There are places like Tap Plastics for learning about fiberglass. There are lots of electronics stores that serve the Silicon Valley tech developer communities. You can buy stuff there that’s helpful. You can learn about Arduino [an open source microprocessor] at Noisebridge. There are a lot of resources for doing interactive art here or for doing bicycle-related projects. There are a lot of welders here.

SFBG Where do you think we are on the arch with this stuff — the beginning, the middle? — in terms of gaining wider acceptance of biking as an imperative and an option for anyone?

FF I think there’s an important generational shift underway, and I don’t know whether it’s my focus on bikes that leads me to meet all these kinds of people, but it feels like I’m meeting more people these days that are going to pick their next city or their next neighborhood based on how it is to bike there. They’re bringing it up in conversation, it’s not me. So it seems like people are really considering what their daily life is going to be like and how the community feels, and biking is one of the symbols of a whole swath of other beneficial things. They know that if they see a bunch of bikes when they visit a place, then there’s probably a lot of other cool stuff like music, arts, farmers markets. Those kinds of things are sort of linked together, and the bike is the key indicator. So there’s been this generational change of thought. The idea that having a bigger, faster car is better, I just don’t think that’s popular with these people. They no longer believe it.

SFBG It’s having cooler bike.

FF It’s having cooler bike and being able to use it and not have to step into the stress of car culture if you can avoid it.

SFBG What’s your next step?

FF One of the really positive things for me has been the Rock the Bike community, with its roadies, performers, musicians — all types of people who are on our e-mail list. So I can just say, I need three roadies for a three-hour performance slot and there’s going to be a jam at the end, so bring your instruments. That’s an awesome thing and it’s just going to improve, so I think the community will grow as we continue do gigs where we have fun and the people have fun.

In terms of my own art, this tree [gesturing to his El Arbol bike] has been my focus for the last year or two, and it’s not done yet. It has to look undeniably like a tree. It looks like a tree, but with a light green bark that you really don’t see in nature, so that has to change. I want it to have brown bark, but I still want it to do beautiful things at night with translucency. And I want it to have a true canopy of leaves, so that when you’re far away from it at Sunday Streets and you’re wondering whether to go over there, you’ll see a tree. Not just a representation of a tree, but I want them to be like, how the hell did he ride a tree over here?

SFBG Why a tree?

FF I don’t know. You get these ideas, and you start drawing them and can’t shake them. There are all sorts of reasons why trees are interesting. They are gathering points.

SFBG And you’re doing some very innovative design work on this bike, such as the landing gear.  

FF The roots. Yeah, that’s never been done before. Through the course of doing the project, people would send me tips and interesting things, and one guy sent me a link to a photo of tall bikes being used in Chicago in the early 1900s as gas lamp lighting tools, and they were very tall. I’d say 10 to 12 feet tall, and they were tandems, so there was a guy on top and a stoker on the bottom providing extra power, and they didn’t have landing gears. So they would ride from one lamp to another and hold the lamp as they refilled it. And I just love that story because if you were growing up in Chicago, and you saw these gas lamp people coming by in the early evening to turn the lights on, and if you were a little kid trying to fall asleep or whatever, that would have an indelible mark on your childhood, and that whimsical quality is what I’m going for. That should be part of what it’s like to grow up in the Mission District in 2011.

SFBG How does that fit into the other cultural stuff that you’re also bringing to the bike movement, the music you’re writing, design work, the style, and the events that you’re creating?

FF Sometimes I wish it wasn’t so multipronged. I would clearly be a better performer and musician if it was the only thing I did, so I apologize to all my fans for not putting 100 percent into the music. But I put 100 percent into the whole thing, including creating bikes and running Rock the Bike, which is a business.

SFBG But are you doing all these things because you find a synergy among them?

FF It’s the fullest expression of who I am.

SFBG Where do you see this headed? What will Rock the Bike be like five years from now?

FF I would like to see the quality of our entertainment offerings steadily improve to the point where people genuinely look forward to it, and not just to the gee-whiz aspect of look what they’re doing, but just for the feeling of being there. So I’d like to challenge ourselves with the quality of the music, how it is to be engaged in the setup process — because I think the setup is cool, with biking to the event and engaging in the transition to a spectacle, where every step along the way is part of the show. I like that idea. I’d like to challenge ourselves to be a carbon-free Cirque du Soleil, a show that is slamming entertainment and they bike there and pedal-power everything: the lighting, the sound, the transportation. And I want the performers to be just as good.

SFBG Are there people in other cities doing similar things?

FF The Bicycle Music Festival is spreading to other cities, which is cool. I think there are going to be over a dozen bicycle music festivals this summer. In terms of people doing really inspiring work with bike culture or this kind of mobile art, you definitely see some amazing things at Burning Man. That’s probably one of the best venues for this type of art. But I can’t think of another city where people are doing all of this. I’m part of a group on Flickr called Bicycle and Skater Sound Systems, and there’s nothing on that whole group that I see as being on this level. I don’t know why.

SFBG When you ride a cool custom bike down the street, the reactions it elicits from passersby is just so strong and happy. What is that about?

FF It’s a reaction to an expression of personal freedom. People light up when they see you expressing yourself, and a part of them thinks, oh yeah, that would be fun, I’d like to express myself. And there are just so many ways to express yourself and be human — and that’s something that we need to remind ourselves because, in many ways, our personal freedoms are declining and there’s more surveillance.

SFBG And people might take that spark and do any number of things with it.

FF One of the very cool things about bicycle art is that it’s mobile. So you ride your bike and you might turn heads a couple dozen times a day. I ride this tree, and if it’s in the full mode where it’s 14-feet tall and there’s music on, and I’m going from here to Golden Gate Park, I’d estimate that 500 people see it. There’s probably no other art form you can do that with. I can’t think of any other that’s like that. So it’s a really cool art form. Those people aren’t paying you, but you shared art with them, and it’s a good way to get exposure. It’s a great way for a lot of people to see your art.

SFBG With your mobile, pedal-powered stages, you’re also demonstrating green ways of powering even stationary art.

FF It is an interesting time for pedal power. I feel like there’s a turning point that’s maybe beginning in the field of events with how they’re powered. I think there are going to be a lot more people who are going to festivals in the coming years who are looking at the diesel generators and saying, ‘My summertime festival experience is being powered by diesel.’ And I think there are going to be a lot of people seeing that and wanting to do something else.

SFBG Have the technologies for how much juice you’re able to get out of pedal power been advancing since you’ve been working on it?

FF Yes, it’s truly impressive right now, particularly if you’re putting that juice into music because we have very efficient generators where there’s no friction interface anymore, nothing rolling on the tire, it’s all just ball bearings rolling on the hub. Then we put that power into these new modified amps, and they have a DC power supply now, as opposed to an AC power supply, so we don’t have to put the power into an inverter. So the net sum of that is one person can pedal-power dance music for 200 people, which is pretty amazing and inspiring.

SFBG And the battery technology is also improving, right?

FF Yeah, the batteries are what you use for the mobile rides, and that’s getting better. If you’ve been to a bike party, it’s just incredible how many good, loud sound systems there are right now. It’s a very kinetic art form, although I wish people would focus more on the visual aspects of their system, because I feel like there’s a trend to get big and loud fast. But I wish there were more people doing the work that Jay Brummel is doing, where he doesn’t just want to ride on a bicycle, so he turned his bike into a deer and he steers by holding the antlers.

SFBG But there has been some push-back from the police. Have you gotten many tickets?

FF Well, I got tickets for riding up high on this quadracycle. There is a law against riding tall bikes in California. It says you shouldn’t ride a bicycle in such as manner as to not be able to stop safely and put your foot down. Obviously you can’t put your foot down on a tall bike.

SFBG The fact that you have landing gears on your bike didn’t make a difference?

FF Well the officer didn’t take it seriously, but the court sided in my favor. The judge was flipping through photos of the landing gear the entire trial — he couldn’t stop flipping through them. And he asked, ‘How do you get on? Where do you step?’ So I was like, ‘Well, you step here, you step there, and you swing.’ It was pretty fun. 


Saturday, June 18

11 a.m.–10 p.m., free

Various locations, SF




Boxed out



The Board of Supervisors is gearing up to revisit whether telecommunications giant AT&T should be permitted to install 726 new metal boxes on city sidewalks for a communications network upgrade, without completing an environmental impact review.

At an April 26 meeting, the board spent several tedious hours listening to concerns such as whether the boxes would attract graffiti or clutter the sidewalks, and debated the finer points of whether the project could legally be considered exempt, ultimately resolving to take up the issue again May 24.

Meanwhile, a small cadre of tech-savvy San Franciscans has seized on this debate as an opportunity to drum up enthusiasm for an alternate vision of a citywide communications future, one with faster connection speeds that wouldn’t necessarily be controlled by the AT&T and Comcast duopoly.

At the meeting, AT&T California President Ken McNeely, dressed in a sharp suit, trumpeted the company’s proposed upgrade, part of a new system called U-verse. “This is the largest single upgrade to the San Francisco local phone network in more than a century,” he said. “Our network will provide the next-generation IP technologies that San Francisco needs to provide if it wants to continue to attract the best and brightest in the region.”

Yet Rudy Rucker, bearded and clad in a camouflage T-shirt, sounded a different note. “The U.S. is No. 30 in the world in Internet speed,” he said. “The boxes are not the way to go. What we need to do is rework the entire infrastructure of how we do communications in the city. We’re relying on copper lines. We need to pull all those out, recycle the copper, and put in fiber-optic cable.” Rucker is a cofounder of MonkeyBrains, an independent Internet service provider (ISP) based in San Francisco.

AT&T’s U-verse upgrade would enable it to offer connection speeds three times faster than current service — but not nearly as fast as what fiber proponents envision. Several members of the tech industry interviewed by the Guardian cautioned that another AT&T upgrade might be necessary after less than a decade to keep pace with technological advancement. At that point, it’s anyone’s guess whether those boxes would continue to be useful. AT&T did not respond to a query from the Guardian.


When it comes to Internet speeds, the United States trails Asia and some European countries. “We’ve fallen from first place,” said Ashwin Navin, who founded several tech startups including a file-sharing company called BitTorrent. “It’s really put our software and technology industry at a disadvantage.”

According to a website that compares connection speeds using data compilation, California ranks 23rd in the nation, while San Francisco doesn’t even clear the top 30 cities nationwide, Navin noted.

Yet much faster connection speeds are possible — even commonplace — in countries such as Japan and Singapore. “Right now, the average download speed in San Francisco is something around eight megabits,” explained Dana Sniezko, who’s emerged as a tech activist since creating a website called SF Fiber, which calls for a neutral, open, affordable community fiber network. “What U-verse is going to offer is about three times that. Something like fiber can offer service that’s 1,000 megabits [called a gigabit], or even much larger than that. Fiber allows you to really have a huge capacity for the future.”

Put in practical terms, Sniezko said, the difference between a connection speed of eight megabits and a gigabit amounts to downloading a full-length feature film in 90 minutes, versus several seconds. And since fiber also can deliver faster upload speeds, it opens the door to new possibilities. “It lets individuals potentially come up with really innovative and creative ideas,” Sniezko said. “If you wanted to have your own streaming TV channel from your house, you could. Or anything, really.”

Fiber already exists under San Francisco city streets — but most places lack the direct connections to homes or businesses, so the capacity is not realized. The city’s Department of Technology and Information Services (DTIS) convened a study in 2007 for developing the infrastructure to create a full-fiber network, deeming fiber “the holy grail of communications networking: unlimited capacity, long life, and global reach.”

Since then, progress has been slow. AT&T’s new system would also be based on fiber, but information would still travel to homes or offices over copper phone lines, resulting in slower speeds than a direct connection could supply.

On a recent afternoon, MonkeyBrains cofounder Alex Menendez scrambled up a ladder leading from his small Potrero Hill office space to show off some rooftop antennas and laser devices. There was a clear view from the flat, sunny roof to the office building the laser was pointed at, many blocks away. Secured to a hand-built metal stand, the gadgets were part of the company’s high-speed Internet network, which counts KQED among its roughly 1,000 subscribers.

Menendez was explaining how his small company is able to use these microwave devices in combination with fiber-optic cables to provide high-speed Internet by leapfrogging from node to node throughout San Francisco.

Menendez said he didn’t feel strongly one way or another about AT&T’s metal boxes. “But it raises a more interesting issue: what’s the 50-year-down-the-line solution? There’s much better technology out there. It could be super-affordable, with a wide-open, massive amount of bandwidth.”

But, he added, it won’t happen without the support of local government.


The City and County of San Francisco owns an underground fiber-optic network spanning more than 110 miles, used mostly for municipal and emergency purposes. AT&T has its own fiber — and with a history going back more than a century in San Francisco, it also has a lock on the market.

AT&T owns underground cables, copper phone lines, and rights-of-way, making it necessary for small market players to interface with the corporation and pay fees. This makes it difficult for local ISPs to compete on any meaningful scale. “They have the right to trench the street,” Menendez explained. “We don’t.”

Mendendez and others are looking at micro-trenching as a possible way around this. Last summer, Google hosted an event at its Mountain View headquarters called the Micro-trenching Olympics (“A very Google-y thing to do,” according to a company representative speaking in a YouTube video) to find out which contractor could best slice a one-inch wide, nine-inch deep trench in a parking lot and install fiber-optic cable inside. The idea behind micro-trenching is that it’s fast and minimally disruptive — and best of all, it doesn’t interfere with existing infrastructure, so there’s no need to pay a fee to AT&T, or any other company.

Some in the tech community are hoping it will signify a new and efficient way to link fiber-optic cable directly to homes and businesses, ultimately resulting in the kind of Internet speed that would let you download a movie in less than ten seconds. With micro-trenching, there would be no need for utility boxes.

Navin, Mendendez, and several others have talked up the idea of micro-trenching a small area in the Mission District to bring fiber-optic, high-speed Internet to an entire neighborhood. Yet their early conversations with the city’s Department of Public Works suggest that it may be a slow process. “They were like, ‘What is this?'” Menendez recounted. “There’s no established permitting process.”

Meanwhile, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu recently asked DTIS to examine the possibility of leasing excess capacity on city-owned dark-fiber infrastructure, which is currently in place but not being used. This could boost bandwidth for entities such as nonprofits, health care facilities, biotech companies, digital media companies, or universities, Chiu said, while bolstering city coffers. “There are many places in town that need a lot more bandwidth, and this is an easy way to provide it,” he said.

Sniezko noted that other cities have created open-access networks to deploy fiber. “This is really effective because it’s a lot like a public utility,” she explained. “The city or someone fills a pipe, and then anyone who wants to run information or service on that pipe can do so. They pay a leasing fee. This has worked in many places in Europe, and they actually do it in Utah. In many cases, it’s really cool — because it’s publicly owned and it’s neutral. There’s no prioritizing traffic for one thing over another, or limitation on who’s allowed to offer service on the network. It … creates some good public infrastructure, and also allows for competition, and it sort of revives the local ISP. Chiu’s proposal is a little bit in that vein, it sounds like. But he hasn’t released a lot of details on it yet, so we’re still looking.”

Visit www.sffiber.info for more info


The rise of bike culture



San Francisco has quickly peddled back into the front of the pack among bicycle-friendly U.S. cities, regaining the ground it lost during a four-year court injunction against new bike projects that was partially lifted in November 2009 and completely ended last June.

Since then, the streets of San Francisco have been transformed as the city completed 19 long overdue bike projects, including 11 miles of new bike lanes, 40 miles of “sharrow” shared lane markings, and hundreds of new bike racks. The city’s first physically separated green bike lanes on Market Street are now being extended, and new ones are being added on Alemany and Laguna Honda boulevards.

“The crews are out on Market Street right now filling in the new green bikeway,” San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Director Leah Shahum told us on May 6. “Far and away the No. 1 encouragement to getting people to bike is to make sure they feel safe.”

But it isn’t just bike lanes and other infrastructure that are causing bicycling to blossom in San Francisco. Bike culture is also exploding in myriad ways, including events such as the San Francisco Bike Party and Rock the Bike shows we profile in this issue, as well as the popularity of the monthly neighborhood street closures of Sunday Streets.

At the most recent Sunday Streets in the Mission District on May 8, Valencia and 24th streets were packed with thousands of people riding bikes, skating, and walking, or engaged with activities — in streets usually dominated by cars — such as yoga, art projects, shopping, and dancing.

“It’s a celebration. It’s not about confrontation anymore, it’s about bringing people along with a more expanded idea of how we can use public space,” Sunday Streets Coordinator Susan King told us at the event.

She said Sunday Streets has helped bridge the gap between families and the bicycling and skating communities, as well as cutting across classes, cultures, and communities. The response to the event has been phenomenal, she noted, and she hopes to see a similar momentum leading up to the next Sunday Streets event on June 12 in the Bayview.

“The Bayview event is really important to us because we have extraordinary support from the Bayview merchants and they want to get more involved with the bicycling community,” King said.

The earnest work of SFBC, SFMTA, and other entities that have helped expand the bicycling infrastructure in San Francisco, bringing safe cycling opportunities into every neighborhood, has in turn allowed organic expressions of bike culture to flourish.

From hipsters on their colorful fixies to anarchists riding tall bikes, from old-school Schwinns to cargo-laden Xtracycles, from elaborate art bikes to simple bike trailers with amazing sounds systems, from old white guys in Spandex to the young black kids on custom scraper bikes, from the hardcore bike messengers to the tourists on rental bikes, from Critical Mass defiance to Bike Party celebration, the streets of San Francisco are brimming with bike culture diversity. And the only commonality, the only one that’s really needed, is a simple appreciation for pedal power.

“We need to get the message out that biking is fun — and that’s happening,” Smith said. “We need a paradigm shift, and I think we’re really on the cusp of that.”


Energizer commute stations open:

Thurs/12 7:30–9:30 a.m. and 5–7 p.m., free

Check map on page 28 for locations

Bike From Work party and fashion show

Thurs/12 6–10 p.m., $5 SFBC members/$10 nonmembers (or join at the door and get in free)

DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., SF


Kids on bikes



To meet San Francisco’s policy goal of having 20 percent of all vehicle trips made by bicycle by the year 2020, advocates and officials say the city will need to make cycling more attractive to the young and old, from age 8 to 80. But there are some built-in challenges to getting more school children on bikes, even if there has been some recent progress, as demonstrated during the Bike to School Day in April.

“I see more and more middle and high school teams out there,” Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said of the group rides to and from school that parents have been organizing.

According to a 2009 David Binder poll, seven out of 10 residents in San Francisco use a bicycle (this includes regular commuters and once-a-year riders) and last year’s city count of bike ridership from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s annual report saw a 58 percent increase in the number of cyclists on the road. At any given time during regular business weekday hours, some 9,210 riders pedal through the streets, according to last year’s results.

Children account for some of that increase, as demonstrated by the Bike to School Day event and its 3,000 riders — the most ever. Shahum attributes some of the increase to the new separated bikeways on Market Street, Alemany Boulevard, and Laguna Honda Boulevard, which allow children and their parents to feel safer. “When the bikeway was introduced, the numbers increased — there is growing demand.”

Programs like the Department of Public Health’s Safe Routes to School and SF Unified School District’s Student Support Services Department are helping to raise awareness of the improvements to encourage more cycling by young people.

Safe Routes to School Project Coordinator Ana Validzic said cycling is often more convenient than driving to school, particularly given the difficult parking situations at schools. Martha Adriasola, a committee member for the program, said parents and students also are attracted by the increased physical activity from cycling.

But a large portion of San Francisco’s grade school-bound population has yet to join the pedal revolution. Adriasola mentioned several reasons that prevent children from biking, including getting to schools on hills or far from home as well as the lack of bike storage at schools.

“There used to be a lot of concern about where to keep the bicycles,” Adriasola told the Guardian. But that’s changing thanks to a recent grant from the Department of Sustainability will provide bike racks for students at all schools in the district.

“That was one of the missing pieces,” Shahum said of the bike racks. “The district understands that it is good for the city for folks to ride their bikes.”

With new racks lining the campuses, the question remains whether there will be enough riders to fill them. Efforts to improve diversity in the school system and parent preferences for certain schools mean many kids travel across town to school.

Gentle Blythe, SFUSD’s executive director of public outreach and communications, said that last year the school board modified its school selection system to encourage more students to attend their local schools by resolving ties between applicants based on whether the applicant lives in the school’s attendance area. Currently, Blythe said, three out of every four applicants list a school that is not the one closest to their home as their first choice.

According to SFUSD’s 2010 fall enrollment maps, which show all the district’s elementary schools and compares them to the students’ residences, most of the 72 schools have as many students traveling from across the district as those living within a mile of the campus. Parker Elementary in North Beach is such an example, with an almost equal number living inside and outside the neighborhood, including some who live as far away as Visitacion Valley.

With such a long way to ride, it’s difficult for parents and those concerned with safety to feel comfortable allowing children to ride. But Shahum believes it’s still possible. SFBC’s Connecting the City project advocates for safe, cross-town bikeways throughout the city, which could draw more children onto the streets.

Shahum noted that bicycling increased dramatically even when there was a court injunction barring new bike projects. “Imagine the change we can expect when the changes do come,” she said.

She also said that events such as Sunday Streets, the monthly carfree streets events, are attracting families and encouraging them to start cycling together. So the answer to encouraging more youth cycling may be to make the streets safer and more inviting for everyone.

“We hope, through the Connecting the City vision, to see people riding on cross-town bikeways — for everyone from 8 to 80.” she said. 

TED taps Flux to talk about building community through art


In the wake of its artistic and community-building success building the Temple of Flux at Burning Man last year, which I profiled in “Burners in Flux” following a five-month immersion journalism project, the nonprofit Flux Foundation has been selected as finalists to address TED2012: Full Spectrum. TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, has become the country’s premier cutting edge speakers forum.

Principal artists Rebecca Anders, Jessica Hobbs, Catie Magee, and Peter Kimelman will travel to New York City to do a live presentation with three other Flux crew members to the TED selection panel on May 24. The opportunity was opened up by a great video the team produced, which accentuated the transcendent nature of this collaborative art project, closing with the line, “We built community through art and we’d like to show you how.”

That idea – big art as a catalyst to creating community – was a major theme in my article, as well as the conclusion of my book, The Tribes of Burning Man: How an Experimental City in the Desert is Shaping the New American Counterculture, which focused the Temple of Flux. And it’s something the Flux crew is continuing to do out in its American Steel workspace in West Oakland, where they are working on another ambitious new installation art piece.

Brollyflock, “a renegade flock of umbrellas,” was commissioned by event producer Insomniac for the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas and Noctural in San Bernardino, and which the crew hopes to display at TED2012. But to realize its ambitious goals, Flux Foundation has started a Kickstarter campaign with a $2,000 goal, so kick in if you want to see this homegrown success story continue to ascend.

Our Weekly Picks: May 11-17, 2011




“Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!”

Studio Gracia artist-in-residence Bianca Cabrera employs her saucy cabaret style in orchestrating a series of lusty hump days in May. On Wednesday evenings this month, Cabrera performs among “contemporary dance, cover bands, showgirls, cowgirls, and boygirls,” plus “drinking and feasting.” Guest performers for this week’s installment, themed “Camp Songs,” include the Fossettes, Hailey Gaiser, Rasa Vitalia, LevyDance, and Serpent and the Rainbow. Come back the following Wednesdays for “May I be Frank?” and “Dance off! Hands On!” Like a huge airy living room with a dance floor, bar, and comfy couches, Studio Gracia is ideal for salon-type performance gatherings like these. Hedonists welcome. (Julie Potter)

Wed/11, May 18, and May 25, 9 p.m., $10

Studio Gracia

19 Heron, SF

(206) 293-6630




The Cars

Assuming we all just go ahead and overlook the Ric Ocasek-less, Todd Rundgren-fronted cash cow absurdity that was the New Cars, 2011 marks the first legitimate Cars reunion in more than two decades. With the original lineup intact (minus bassist-vocalist Benjamin Orr, who lost a battle with pancreatic cancer in 2000), the Boston new wave and synthpop innovators have even managed to record an album of all new material. Move Like This is surprisingly solid not just in its execution, but in its avoidance of the trappings of modern trend piggybacking that can often afflict older bands trying to regain relevance. Instead, the group has gone the tasteful route and made an album that perfectly adheres to the style, instrumentation, and production of its classic work. (Landon Moblad)

8 p.m., $49.50

Fox Theater

1807 Telegraph, Oakl.

(510) 302-2277



Peter Bjorn and John

There are some things I will never get sick of. Peanut butter and jelly, for instance: if stuck on an uninhabited, heretofore uncharted island I hope that the coconuts are full of that slightly salty, sweet combination. I want to unabashedly say the same about the other PB&J, but there was a period where “Young Folks” became so oversaturated that just hearing someone whistle made me wish I were marooned. But let’s be honest, someone had to write that song, and the Swedes went for it then as much as now, saying on their cowbell-smacking recent single “You can’t, can’t count on a second chance. A second chance will never be found.” (Ryan Prendiville)

With Bachelorette

9 p.m., $26

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750



“Go Go Mania!”

All right all you hip cats and crazy chicks — you know you’re still out there — it’s time to grab your dancin’ shoes, slick back your hair, and get ready for a blistering blast from the past tonight at “Go Go Mania!”, a show featuring seductive burlesque set to the rollicking sounds of live rockabilly. The lovely ladies of San Francisco’s Devil-Ettes will strut their stuff; Burlesque A Go Go with La Chica Boom, Kellita, and Kiki Bomband dazzle the eyes; and a who’s who of excellent musicians including Deke Dickerson, Los Shimmy Shakers, Royal Deuces, and more provide the sultry soundtrack. (Sean McCourt)

8 p.m., $10

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

(415) 861-2011



Body Evidence

Choreographer Opiyo Okach presents a work-in-progress showing of his latest solo, Body Evidence — offering an opportunity to engage with the artist in an informal setting and learn about his creative process. Currently working in Kenya and France, Okach’s influences trace back to mime and physical theater training in London, as well as memorable exchanges with legendary Senegalese and French choreographer Germaine Acogny. Okach demonstrates simplicity and elegance through his improvisation style, which examines the role of the body in shaping 21st century global culture and the power of the individual. The artistic director of the first contemporary dance company in Kenya, Okach continues to be a dance leader for the country. (Potter)

Fri/13–Sat/14, 8 p.m., $10

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-2787




After a long five days of work, what’s your preferred Friday night: rocking out or zoning out? Noisy, sludgy, even ambient at times, Prizehog satisfies both. Formed in 2006, the San Francisco foursome resides in the realm of the low and weighted, where droning heaviness is prerequisite. Headliner Diesto, hailing from our sister city Portland, Ore., is similarly massive, having been compared more than once to the uncompromisingly experimental band, the Jesus Lizard and the deep, dark Eyehategod. This show will be the whole bill’s second performance of the evening (following an earlier set at an Oakland café), and just might, or might not, be Prizehog’s first LP release show. (Kat Renz)

With Diesto and Attitude Problem

9:30 p.m., $6

Hemlock Tavern

1131 Polk, SF

(415) 923-0923



CubaCaribe Festival

The sizzling CubaCaribe Festival has become a growth industry. It has jammed Dance Mission Theater with enthusiastic back-talking crowds for the last six years. Now the three-weekend event is expands to the East Bay while also increasing the range of its programming. This year it includes spoken word artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Jacinta Vlach’s urban Liberation Dance Theater. The first weekend at the home base in the Mission is dedicated to Haitian-influenced dance and choreography from the New York City-based Danis “La Mora” Pérez’s Oyu Oro and Collete Eloi’s El Wah Movement. The following week offers a kaleidoscopic diaspora mix, and as is the tradition, the last weekend focuses on CubaCaribe artistic director Ramon Ramos Alaya’s own choreography, including the deeply felt 2005 La Madre. (Rita Felciano)

Fri/13–Sat/14, 8 p.m.; Sun/15, 7 p.m., $12–$24

Dance Mission Theater

3316 24th St., SF

May 20–21, 8 p.m.; May 22, 3 p.m., $10–$24

Malonga Casquelourd Theater

1428 Alice, Oakl.

May 26–28, 8 p.m., $12–$24

Laney College Theater

900 Fallon, Oakl.




Man Man

Philadelphia’s Man Man is one of the more unabashedly fun bands to operate under the often gaudy guise of “experimental rock.” Mashing up some Rain Dogs-era Tom Waits with bits of Balkan street folk, 1950s doo-wop, and carnival punk, the four-piece somehow manages to craft a recognizable sound despite the eclecticism in its influences. But Man Man’s real strength is never losing sight of song structure and its knack for strong vocal hooks. Stylistic left turns that may initially seem jarring quickly begin to start making sense, as ringleader Honus Honus propels the band’s high-energy live shows with his piano playing and suitably hoarse vocals. The band is touring in support of its new album, Life Fantastic, which it recorded with Mike Mogis from Bright Eyes and Monsters of Folk. (Moblad)

With Shipa Ray and Her Happy Hookers

9 p.m., $18

Bimbo’s 365 Club

1025 Columbus, SF

(415) 474-0365




“Vocal Alchemy”

Interdisciplinary performer Meredith Monk joins forces with the eight-member Bay Area women’s vocal arts ensemble, Kitka, in performance. For their first concert together, Monk, a pioneer in extended vocal technique, and Kitka, known for its haunting ancient and contemporary-sounding vocal effects, perform a program of Monk’s trailblazing work, which includes the world premieres of Phantom Voices and Quilting, the West Coast premieres of selections from Quarry, Volcano Songs, American Archeology #1: Roosevelt Island, and The Politics of Quiet, and excerpts from Atlas, Book of Days, Facing North, impermanence, and The Games. Monk’s work invites you to hear the amazing capabilities of the voice. Get ready for an evening of distinct and astonishing sound. (Potter)

7 p.m., $36–$41

Jewish Community Center of San Francisco

Kanbar Hall

3200 California, SF

(415) 292-1200

www.jccsf.org FILM


20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Walt Disney’s 1954 film adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic novel 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea is a classic in its own right. It’s a picture from the days when the Disney studio pushed the envelope of filmmaking with innovative special effects and visual design — the Nautilus and giant squid among the iconic images — but added a magical mix of a great story and a stellar cast as well. James Mason’s performance as the intensely driven and disturbed Captain Nemo remains the standard for all other portrayals, and Kirk Douglas clearly enjoyed playing the swingin’ and singin’ (“Whale of a Tale!”) harpooner Ned Land. And who can forget his fine, flippered female companion Esmerelda? Not every sea lion gets wined, dined, and serenaded by Hollywood royalty! (McCourt)

2 and 6:40 p.m., $7.50–$10

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6120




Local metal darlings Saviours have been diligently writing the band’s fourth full-length record, says vocalist-guitarist Austin Barber. The band is debuting at least half its new songs along this balls out, week-long West Coast tour, a road test to get ready to record next month. Barber called the new tracks “epic and doomy — we pulled back the reins a little bit,” compared to the blatantly thrashy Accelerated Living (Kemado, 2009). Note that it’s an evening show, and Eli’s hardly hesitates to sweep everyone out by 10:59 p.m. (And yeah, there’s an Elbo Room show on Monday, but don’t you love Eli’s back patio?) Regardless, heed Barber’s warning: “The other bands are sick, so get there early.” (Renz)

With Midnight, Lightning Swords of Death, Archons

6 p.m., $10

Eli’s Mile High Club

3629 Marin Luther King Junior Blvd., Oakl.

(510) 350-7818


Also Mon/16

9 p.m., $10

Elbo Room

647 Valencia, SF

(415) 552-7788




“Magic 8-Ball Tour with A-Trak, Kid Sister, Gaslamp Killer, and Jeffrey Paradise”

Half of Kanye West’s success has been in picking collaborators. (The other half is their agreeing to work with him.) West certainly scored a coup bringing A-Trak into his entourage as tour DJ in 2004. Already an honorary member of Invisibl Skratch Piklz, A-Trak had won a DJ World Championship by age 15. Now he’s at the center of the New York City party scene, with the Fool’s Gold label and Armand Van Helden production collab Duck Sauce. (Their song “Barbra Streisand” will either make them your savior or the Antichrist.) This will be a relatively intimate (insane) show for the arena DJ. (Prendiville) With Sleazemore, Eli Glad, and Shane King

8 p.m., $25


444 Jessie, SF

(415) 625-8880



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Avalos and Chiu vie for bike vote at Sunday Streets


If yesterday’s jam-packed Sunday Streets event in the Mission was any indication, only two mayoral candidates are vying for the votes of bicyclists, skaters, and strolling families who appreciate carfree streets: John Avalos and David Chiu. They were the only two candidates who showed up, and both had lots of supporters with signs to help campaign for them, with Avalos supporters enjoying a slight edge in overall numbers.

It’s a testament to the lackluster field of mayoral candidates this year that Avalos and Chiu were the only ones campaigning at such a popular, cool, and high visibility event. It also foreshadows what is likely to be a tough fight between the two sitting supervisors for a constituency they each need to win.

With more than 13,000 dues-paying members, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is the city’s largest grassroots political organization, an active and high-profile group of voters that both candidates have sought to stake their claims with.

Chiu often touts the fact that he doesn’t own a car and bikes regularly, he took a fact-finding trip to Amsterdam with bike advocates last year, and he sponsored legislation setting the policy goal of 20 percent of SF vehicle trips being by bike by 2020. Avalos has the strongest progressive credentials in the race, he sometimes rides his bike from the far-flung Excelsior District, and he has close and deep relationships with many bike-riding political activists.

The choice could determine where bike-advocacy ends and progressivism begins, particularly at a time when Chiu has sought to marginalize Avalos and what was once a solid progressive majority on the board. Chiu has won over some SFBC leaders and snagged a few early endorsements from the bike community (such as SFMTA board member Cheryl Brinkman, who spoke at Chiu’s campaign kickoff), but the endorsements are made by a vote of SFBC membership that is likely to be hotly contested.

Well, hotly contested by the only two candidates who seem to care about the bike vote.

Grrrl Brigade Stands Up! this weekend


Back in the day, despite the fact that we went to a super jock high school, my friend Lex and I decided we would be part of the after school dance theater workshop. There were definitely some good times, especially when the big show came along at the end of the year, which gave us a chance to prance around on stage to “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend,” while wearing Ring Pops covered in glitter and dresses that made us look like we should be on maternity leave. So last night when I stopped by the final dress rehearsal of Stand Up! A Show of Resistance at Dance Mission, there were a lot of reminders of those dance-tastic times, of getting to run around stage with friends and get dressed up in cool costumes, but then the dancing actually started, and all I could think was “Where the heck was GRRRL Brigade when I was in high school?”

There were no Ring Pops, but there was floor-shaking taiko drumming and powerful Amazonian women dancers, all tied together with feminist stories from past and present. The strength of the performance didn’t come solely from the message of girl power exploding from every corner of the room — the talent and skill of the young dancers were incredibly real and striking.

The show starts tonight, Friday, May 6, and runs through the weekend. It’s worth stopping by to see the next generation of strong and devoted young dancers take center stage — and I promise the lack of glitter Ring Pops is absolutely a plus.

Stand Up! A Show of Resistance

Fri/6 and Sat/7, 7.p.m.; Sun/8, 5 p.m., $12

Dance Mission Theater

3316 24th St., SF

(415) 273-4633



Go Deep and get slicked at El Rio

Woman scantily clad and covered in lube is hot enough, but then the bell rings. They slip, they slide, they ride; lady parts will flail again in a tub full of slippery goop this Thursday at El Rio’s Go Deep! Lube Wrestling

Girl on girl wrestling at my favorite dive bar? Yes, this seems like a trick, but Go Deep! is a real event, produced by the lovely Dottie Lux of Red Hot Burlesque. The new monthly night started in April and Dottie says the sexy matches couldn’t have been more successful. “I stood with my mouth agape for three solid hours — it was super fun, amazing, and totally hilarious.” 

The current line-up of  “celebrity wrestlers” are local, fearless femmes handpicked by Dottie. From stylists to sassy clowns, the request for daring athletes was sent to over 40 businesses and organizations in the Bay, targeted at any lass who has a connection to “something larger.”  Contestants are encouraged to bring a posse, a supportive group of pals to cheer and wail and gush over their slimy acquaintance in the ring. So far the wrestling isn’t set up like a tournament, meaning everybody is a winner– literally, every girl gets a prize from Dottie’s box, including donated sex toys, garter belts, steamy books — and bacon?

“Bacon is always a prize,” Dottie says, pointedly not following up the comment any sign of mirth. This is serious: pin a hottie and bring home the salty meat. 


Ideally, participation in the ring will open up to the lady community at large as the event builds its fan base. If you’re interested in stripping down and pinning an unfamiliar femme, Dottie is currently accepting applications. Just remember, this ain’t no easy romp in the kiddie pool. 

“These women are out of breath. They’re working hard in there,” she says, noting the difficulties a challenger must face. “Gravity, stabilization, balance? All gone. All the usual resources you would normally have during wrestling are gone. It’s just too slippery.”


So far the rules simply summarized: women only, no shoes, no choking, be nice, don’t be drunk. Oh, and private parts must be legally covered — boo! Thankfully this rule has a tendency to slip. Bikinis and lube don’t sit well, at least as far as modesty’s concerned. 

“We had to learn how to better secure clothing. The girls kept losing their tops.” Keeping her eyes open for this type of situation is Dottie’s main job during the event. When a human body is glazed, the senses get a little blurry. At one point during the last Go Deep!, “we paused the show and the crowd started chanting, ‘double-knot, double-knot.'” The tops were retied fairly successfully. You wrestle and you learn. 

“Some girls tried electrical tape on their nipples. Sports bras are great. I think they should try out t-shirts, maybe little t-shirts.” From slings to spacesuits, I’m pretty sure the crowd will support any and all wrestler wardrobe choices — as long as the moves remains wet and wild. Last month’s audience was perfectly rowdy and Dottie hopes that people will continue to come with lots of enthusiasm. It’s not every day a scene from the L-Word or stereotypical frat boy’s dream comes to life. Thankfully, the female-objectifying crowd you might suspect to show up at event promising nearly naked wrestling won’t be invited. 

“As for the douche factor, it’s absolutely something I’m going to keep my eye on. My number one as a producer of this event is to make sure women are safe,” Dottie reassures. “I don’t want to kick people out, but I wouldn’t put it past me.”


Dottie plans to continue marketing the event to people and places that understand this is a woman-positive event, and she wants to keep it at El Rio, regardless of how popular the event becomes. If it would move to a larger venue, she’d loose some of the control and endanger it’s sanctity. “It’s an event for us, by us.”

I can only hope it goes down something like this:


Go Deep!

Thurs/5 9 p.m., $10-15 sliding scale

El Rio 

3158 Mission, SF

(415) 282-3325



Super yachts are hard to move

The Guardian spotted a colossal sailboat mast getting wheeled down Illinois Street yesterday, as it was being transported from a warehouse on Pier 80 to SF Boat Works, a boat yard beside The Ramp restaurant on Terry Francois Boulevard.

It was quite a job – the mast was more than 100 feet in length, encased in protective material, and set up on metal boxes with casters for transport. Instead of being loaded on a big rig, it was simply secured to the back of a pickup truck and towed down Illinois Street, with a team of about half a dozen guys running alongside to make sure it didn’t fishtail into any parked cars. They didn’t use flags or lights or anything, but an SUV followed from behind. Traffic was stopped coming from either direction, but they managed to get it out of the gate at Pier 80 and into the gate at SF Boatworks without any mishaps. It was quite a site to behold. 

Pier 80 will serve as the base for the BMW Oracle racing team during the 34th America’s Cup. Billionaire Larry Ellison’s super yacht, the USA 17 — the winning boat in the last America’s Cup off the coast of Spain — is being stored at Pier 80, according to news reports. So we naturally assumed that this mast was from that world-famous sailing vessel. When we asked one of the movers if this mast was from the USA 17, they confirmed that it was. But then another member of the moving crew gave a different answer, saying this had nothing to do with the America’s Cup.

It seems that it may have been a mast from a different super yacht, the Cheyenne, which was previously named the Play Station. That boat once belonged to the late Steve Fosset, who, in addition to being a sailor, was the first person to fly solo around the world in a hot-air balloon. The Cheyenne was sold to adventurer Chris Welsh, who announced in Los Angeles last month along with billionaire Sir Richard Branson that they will co-pilot a Virgin Oceanic submarine expedition to the greatest depths of the ocean.

The Cheyenne — which recently sailed from San Francisco to Newport Beach — will serve as a “mother ship” for the submarine expedition, and won’t be used for competitive sailing anymore. We’ve contacted the America’s Cup Event Authority, Virgin Oceanic and SF Boatworks to try to get some clarity on whether the mast we saw getting towed along the waterfront belonged to the Cheyenne or the USA 17, but haven’t heard back from anyone yet.

The Virgin Oceanic submarine is expected to descend later this year into the Mariana Trench in the Pacific, a journey that will take the explorers deeper than anyone else has ever gone.

Meanwhile, it seems that when the America’s Cup comes to the city, San Franciscans probably won’t get the chance to see the USA 17 sail on the bay, even though it is being stored here. “The trimaran may not sail again,” noted a February press release from Oracle Racing. “Oracle Racing’s focus is on the next Cup.”

**UPDATE** No sooner had we posted this than we received a call from Ruby Esparrago at SF Boat Works, who said, “Yes, that was the mast for the boat from the America’s Cup.” But then we got an email from someone from Virgin Oceanic who said it was theirs.

Ross for boss (of the sheriff’s department)


City Hall’s steps were awash in multi-lingual black and yellow “Ross Mirkarimi for Sherrif” signs at noon today, as Mirkarimi supporters watched Sheriff Mike Hennessey, who is stepping down after 31 years of service and eight elections, endorse Sup. Mirkarimi as the next sheriff.  “New Leadership for a Safe San Francisco” was printed on the English version of the signs that Mirkarimi’s supporters carried. They included former Mayor Art Agnos, Sups. David Campos and Eric Mar, Tim Paulson of the Labor Council, Debra Walker, Linda Richardson, Sharen Hewitt, Terry Anders, and Mirkarimi’s partner Eliana Lopez and their almost two-year old son Theo. And everyone had plenty of great things to say about outgoing sheriff Hennessey and sheriff candidate Mirkarimi. And Hennessey even pinned a shiny toy sheriff’s badge onto the T-shirt of Mirkarimi’s son Theo, making him the happiest kid in town. At least for the day.

Campos kicked off the event by honoring Hennessey as the “most progressive and most effective sheriff in the country.”
“Mike Hennessey is also my neighbor in District 9. I see him taking out the trash so I know he’s a good neighbor,” Campos joked, as he listed the many achievements in Hennessey’s long career as an elected official in San Francisco. These achievements included Hennessey’s pioneering innovations in criminal justice and culminated in his decision to blow the whistle in 2010 on the federal government’s plan to activate its controversial Secure Communities program in San Francisco—without telling the public.
“He’s not afraid to stand up for what’s right,” Campos said.

‘This is the time for me to move on,” Hennessey announced, as he laid out his reasons for endorsing Mirkarimi as Sheriff, over other candidates in the field.
Hennessey described the Sheriff’s Department as a “large enterprise” that has over 1,000 employees, a $150 million budget and whose jail houses an average population of 2,000 folks in custody, on a daily basis.
“It’s not something that can be handled lightly,” Hennessey said. “That’s why I’m here to endorse Ross Mirkarimi as the next sheriff.”

Hennessey listed the many endeavors that he and Mirkarimi have worked closely on, including a number of criminal justice issues, and he cited Mirkarimi’s extensive law enforcement background, his significant legislative accomplishments in the areas of criminal justice and public safety, and his ability to find innovative solutions and overcome obstacles to progress, as reasons to support Mirkarimi.

Hennessey observed that criminal justice is “one of the thornier issues” that members of the Board of Supervisors are often asked to get involved in, but often duck.”But Ross has not shied away from working on them,” Hennessey said, citing Mirkarimi’s involvement in shaping the “No Violence Alliance Project” and his leadership in creating the Safe Communities Re-entry Council.

Hennessey also noted that in face of AB 109, the Governor’s plan to transfer state inmates to county jails, “it’s vitally important to have person in charge of sheriff’s office that understands these alliances and can make them work more effectively.”

Hennessey concluded by observing that the Sherrif’s Department has to deal with a lot of bureaucracy, so it’s important to understand how the Board, the budget process and other city departments, including the District Attorney’s office and the police, work.
‘And that’s why I’m endorsing Ross as Sheriff,” Hennessey said

Then it was the turn of Mirkarimi, who graduated from the San Francisco Police Academy, did Naval Reserve training and worked for more than 8 years as an investigator for the District Attorney’s office, to speak.

“I have never been at a loss for words,” Mirkarimi acknowledged, as he launched into a speech that began by thanking everyone for showing up at short notice “for one of the most important occasions of my political career.”

Mirkarimi did a great job of giving Hennessey the praise he deserves.
“He is a living legend,” Mirkarimi said. “It’s completely impossible to fill his shoes.”
Citing Hennessey’s integrity and his ability to innovate, Mirkarimi warned that, “Maybe it’s come to the point where we have taken him for granted. He’s the longest serving elected official in the history of San Francisco, and he’s probably the most understated.”

“And the most important endorsement in this race is that of Mike Hennessey,” Mirkarimi added, as he gave Hennessey his commitment “to build upon your legacy as effectively as possible.”

Mirkarimi cited some of the most immediate and serious challenges that face the next sheriff. These include AB 109, which Gov. Jerry Brown just signed, which. Mirkarimi said, threatens to increase the reentry prisoner level by 30 percent in California. “It will take creative ingenuity and resources to make sure we are effective in taking care of this population,” he said.

Mirkarimi also touched on the rising number of veterans that are ending up in the prison system, talked more about the No Violence Alliance Project, and suggested that certified deputy sheriffs could help serve warrants, transfer prisoners, and patrol Muni, “when the police department finds itself understaffed” so as to ensure that San Francisco is safe.

“For every four people arrested and jailed in San Francisco, three out of four are repeat offenders in a three-year period,” Mirkarimi warned, by way of explaining why he wants to advance a more collaborative spirit between SPPD and the Sheriff’s department.

Mirkarimi also noted that one out of every 15 African American males are in jail, at any time in the year, compared to I out of 300 males who are not black or brown. “So, we must step up our game in dealing with poverty,” he said, as he recommended increased access to job training and good jobs, “so work doesn’t become a seasonal hope but a permanent job.” He also made the connections between a lack of good housing, childcare, and schools and a rise in poverty, crime and recidivism.

Mirkarimi concluded by crediting Hennessey for “walking that fine pirouette” between upholding the principles of public safety and understanding the power of redemption at the same time.

I asked Sheriff Mike Hennessey what he considers to be the biggest challenges of running for sheriff/
“Letting people know what you are going to do, and what your issues are,” Hennessey said, noting that San Francisco has an intelligent, issues-driven electorate.

And Mirkarimi’s supporters weren’t shy about letting folks know the issues that the current D5 Supervisor has helped them with, over the years.

“Ross, as a supervisor and me, as someone who comes from a community of color, we know the habits that ex-offenders can bring with them, if there are no safety nets,” said Terry Anders who sits with Mirkarimi on the Safe Communities Reentry Council. “And I believe in what Ross stands for and the integrity of his person. He’s one of the first people to show up when there are crimes and victims, and he attends basketball games and boxing matches.”

Paulette Brown, whose son Aubrey Abraska Jr, was murdered in August 2006, but whose killers have still not been brought to justice.
“We shouldn’t have to run and leave our families, we should be protected,” Brown said. “Ross is my district supervisor and if he can get in, and do something about crime and solve unsolved homicides, then I’m for him. Maybe if he gets in, he’ll have more pull to do something about these unresolved cases.”

And then it was back to work, which for Mirkarimi now includes the somewhat daunting task of trying to raise money in an election year that also includes a mayor’s race, but does not include the help of public financing, at least not for the sherrif’s race….

Nothing’s fixed


CYCLING The SF Bike Coalition’s valet parking was strangely empty for a blazingly sunny Saturday event by the Ferry Building. “They’ve just been leaving their bikes around,” a bored attendant told me of the crowd assembled for the Red Bull Ride + Style fixed-gear competition. But that wasn’t out of apathy to their rides — these attendees wanted to keep their bikes close.

Candy-colored fixies were turned upside-down on their handlebars, stacked in piles with the steeds of their owners’ friends. Young men (there were a lot of young men) kept their hands firmly locked in riding position, rolling their bikes back and forth as they spoke, some times gesticulating with them for added effect. Those slim, messenger-style backpacks were much in evidence.

In the competition arena, no one strayed far from their bikes either, except for the spectacular falls that sporadically broke up the action. Strap-on fixed-gear pedals make for epic wipe-outs; one soldier was taken off the field on a stretcher.

Save for the lone female who rolled about during the event’s interminable “practice times,” all riders were male. This was about bros on bikes. Indeed, as the final race around the hazardous, hairpin track was announced between Bay Area childhood friends Jason Clary and Kell McKenzie (Clary won), the announcer took a moment to salute their relationship. “You guys have known each other since you were 14? It’s bro versus bro! Fixed-gear nation!”

Competitive fixed-gear racing is, relatively speaking, a nascent addition to the legion of bone-cracking thrill fests enjoyed by extreme sports fans. The sport’s lexicon is borrowed from the death-defying ride tactics of gonzo bike messengers, a profession that has to sprint to keep up with e-mail and 3-D projection technology to stay salient for corporate America.

San Francisco is one of the messenger bike meccas. The city has given birth to some epically fly-terrifying fixie films — guys slaloming down from Twin Peaks, diving into traffic, holding onto buses for acceleration, basically using the ridiculous speed you can achieve on a fixed- gear bike for pure chaos (in the eyes of the pedestrian, surely).

But street stunts do not a competitive sport make. On Saturday, it was apparent that everyone was trying to figure out just what Ride + Style meant. The week before the event, the Guardian interviewed Austin Horse, one of New York City’s best-known bike messengers, by e-mail.

“Nobody knows what to expect about Ride N Style,” he wrote. “It’s very mysterious, but the riders know it’s going to be a challenging and compelling event because it’s coming from Red Bull. [Editor’s note: Apparently Red Bull’s sponsorship is a big deal. Red Bull also sponsored a downhill bike race through a Brazilian favela, the aerodynamic inanity of Flutag, and your most jittery friend in college who had a dorm room full of Red Bull crates. Remember that guy?] The result is that all the riders are a little more anxious about this race than other events. What we do know is that it’s gonna be a sprint with features some guys aren’t going to be comfortable with. It’s a little scary.”

The second half of the day was given over to what was billed as the most cutting edge part of the competition: the freestyle contest. Covered in sherbet colors, spiders, geometric whorls, and playing card designs, they looked every bit the background for an extreme sports tournament.

“Only rarely have events invested in features tailored to the constraints and potential of this type of riding,” Horse says. When the cameras are off “people practice wherever they can — skate parks and street spots.”

In San Francisco, one of the most reliable spots to watch good fixed-gear freestyling is in the Harry Bridges Plaza, the strip of asphalt between the Ferry Building and where Ride + Style was erected in the more ample Justin Herman Plaza. You can go out to Harry Bridges at dusk most days and see people hopping their bikes off the ground, spinning in the air, twerking their handlebars, riding backward in tight figure eights, and stopping on dimes.

But the ramps took it up a notch — so up that spectators began to compare the competition to those of BMX bikes, which can catch a lot more air than fixed gears. It wasn’t a coincidental connection: some of the competitors announced on the microphone that they were usually on a BMX, and Jeremy Witek, the lead designer of the ramps, told me during the construction phase that this was the first time he’d been asked to make structures like these for a fixed-gear competition.

There were some hands-down highlights of the freestyle portion — Kohei “Kozo” Fuji flew in from Osaka to bust the first fixed-gear back flip in international competition. But many of the routines seemed strangely suited for their setting. The beauty of the fixed-gear lies in its simplicity — one pump of the legs, one rotation of the wheels, the easy mathematics of human body and machine.

But the novelty of seeing these lifestyle bikes thrust into the bright lights and loud announcers of the X Games variety wasn’t lost on those least jaded of San Franciscans — the Embarcadero tourists. Washing my hands in the Embarcadero Center bathroom, I heard a young woman essentially ask her mom what the hell this crazy city of bikes is up to. “Does San Francisco always have this?”

Girl, it does now. 


Evicting hoarders



People who collect massive amounts of stuff in their apartments often suffer from a mental disability that causes them to become hoarders. Even so, they can face eviction — despite state laws that protect renters with disabilities. And when hoarders get evicted, they usually become homeless.

“Hoarding behaviors may result in a landlord issuing an eviction notice on the basis that the tenant has created a nuisance, fire hazard, or other danger in the building. If the tenant is diagnosed as disabled, the tenant may notify the landlord of the disability and request the landlord provide a reasonable accommodation to enable the tenant to remain in the apartment rather than being evicted,” reads a recent report from San Francisco’s Mental Health Association, which is seeking to educate renters, landlords, and the general public on the issue.

Evictions in San Francisco are on the rise. Between March 1, 2010 and Feb. 28, 2011, 1,370 evictions were filed, an 8 percent rise from 1,269 evictions the previous year. The Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) and California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) offer protections to those who have a disability, but landlords say there are liability issues associated with excessive hoarding.

Tenants can fight evictions by asking their landlords for a “reasonable accommodation” whose duration depends on the situation. A reasonable accommodation could be a plan that requires 30 days of cleaning and support service for hoarders in an effort to avoid eviction.

According to Mayoclinic.com, hoarding is labeled an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). But many researchers consider it a distinct mental health problem that can be treated with therapy or counseling. California law defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more life activities, such as walking, seeing, hearing, working, learning, or caring for oneself.

Sandra Stark, 66, hasn’t allowed anyone in her home for five years. She collects kitchenware and antiques. Like most hoarders, she started collecting after a traumatic event. It occurred when she was in her 30s and was gaining weight. Stark had never heard of the term “hoarder” until she watched a special on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

She claims her hoarding is a symptom of depression and disability, not OCD. “I feel like, with my weight, the clutter is a barrier between me and the world that hurt me,” she told us.

Before TV shows uncovered the lives of hoarders, family and friends often were the ones to call for help. These days, hoarders often seek help themselves. A&E’s Hoarders receives 1,000 submissions every month. After we spoke to some hoarders, they were all willing to seek change.

MHA recognized the problem and created a task force in 2007. Its goal was to build a plan of action to combat compulsive hoarding in San Francisco. The task force puts the costs of compulsive hoarding at more than $6 million per year. In 2009, the task force completed its report and estimated that between 12,000 and 25,000 residents in San Francisco struggle with this condition.

Most landlords try not to evict hoarding tenants right away. “Landlords may be compassionate and, in many cases, I believe, try hard to prevent evictions. However, they still have liability insurance and strict guidelines to follow,” said Tim Ballard, a social work supervisor for the city. “It is their responsibility to protect the other tenants, and the painful result used as a means of harm reduction is often the legal option of eviction proceedings.”

He said the heavy cleaning required on a hoarder’s home can cost between $6,000 and $8,000 and can include removing trash to create safety in their home. The largest amount spent was $16,000. Currently, Ballard has 300 clients who are hoarders or clutterers in San Francisco.

On March 10, MHA hosted its 13th Conference on Hoarding and Cluttering. Keynote speaker Christiana Bratiotis, who has her doctorate in social work and is director of the Hoarding Research Project, defined compulsive hoarding as the “acquisition of, and failure to discard, a large number of possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value.”

Michael Badolato, administrative assistant of Broderick Street Adult Residential Facility, attended to find a reasonable approach to deal with a hoarding resident living in his facility. “The challenge of hoarding is the mental health issue involved,” he said. Other attendees included educators, landlords, healthcare workers, attorneys, and hoarders themselves.

One panel discussion topic was how hoarding and cluttering are portrayed in the media. The panel included Michael Gause, associate director of MHA; Robin Zasio, a physician on A&E’s Hoarders; and Kari Peterson, an organizer from Hoarding: Buried Alive. Hoarders was created to show people in crisis and prevent the behaviors through the show.

The panelists claim that in order to show what the crisis is, a sensational aspect is involved. Ceci Garnett, whose mother was featured in an episode of Hoarders, says knowing that others are out there is “worth it to let people know they are not alone.

“And at least now there is treatment,” she continued. “We have to risk sensationalism to start a conversation.”

Ray Cleary, who was on season one of TLC’s Buried Alive, also appeared on the panel. Featured before and after treatment, he is still in the process of recovering. “I didn’t have to throw everything away,” he says. “I still have boxes and don’t know what to do with them.”

Another hoarder, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid eviction, was critical of the media attention on hoarding. “It’s a cult. People are going to make a career off my circumstance — making it a disease.”

These people have “already decided it’s a pre-mental disease,” she continued.

Inside her home near Van Ness Avenue, a small path led from the door to her living room. By the door hung green bead necklaces from years of parades; yellowing stacks of paper filled every space in the rooms. An information junkie, she collects newspapers and books. A San Francisco resident for 45 years, she used to be homeless and has suffered from a head injury. “Throwing something away is like throwing away memory — and that means it’s gone forever,” she says.

When she was homeless, her belongings went to storage. But when she got housing, she couldn’t throw anything away. Everyone she knows who has suffered from a head injury has this problem as well, she says, claiming it comes from gradually mixed emotional issues from losses and her health.

For years she tried to find someone to help her recycle or donate items, but she couldn’t find the help she needed, even from her case manager. Other hoarders claim that most caseworkers aren’t aware of their condition and assume they just need to throw everything out at once — something hoarders don’t feel they can easily do.

Her landlord isn’t involved with the property and doesn’t know of the situation. She would like someone to sit and accompany her as she cleans, but she doesn’t know of any service that provides this. During the interview, she picked up a phone call from someone who was going to stop by later to help. “But they usually flake on me,” she acknowledged. Her hoarding, she says, is part of a physical health issue, not a mental health problem.

But San Francisco does offer places such as the MHA conference to discuss the issue. Hoarders‘ Dr. Zasio says the show helps the people who are willing to go on TV. In exchange for going public, the network pays for six months aftercare, including services such as home repairs and therapy sessions. Although the network recognizes that it gains ratings by sensationalizing the condition for 44 minutes, it also wants to raise public awareness.

Of the 1,370 evictions in San Francisco in the past year, 442 cases were prompted by a breach of rental agreement and 271 cases were for committing a nuisance. These cases could include hoarding, but the city doesn’t specify that in its statistics.

As Teresa Friend from the Homeless Advocacy Project said: “If the person with a disability including hoarding is without family or friends to turn to or is not part of a legal intervention process and evicted, they will end up homeless.”


USF hosts mayoral forum focused on service


The University of San Francisco’s Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service will host the political season’s first major mayoral candidate forum – this one focused on public service and staged in partnership with the nonprofit group buildOn – on Thursday, May 5, at 6 pm.

Candidates Michela Alioto-Pier, John Avalos, David Chiu, Bevan Dufty, Tony Hall, Dennis Herrera, Joanna Rees, Phil Ting, and Leland Yee are expected to attend. Admission is free and the public is encouraged to attend this event held at USF’s McLaren Conference Center, 2130 Fulton Street.

“The intent of the forum is to help frame the mayoral campaign and also encourage candidates to talk about what drove them to service and how people can get involved in San Francisco, especially the youth,” Corey Cook, assistant professor in the USF Department of Politics, told us. Cook will moderate the event, which will include questions from high school students participating in buildOn and McCarthy Center service programs.

Carrie Pena, buildOn’s communications director, told us, “Students from public high school will ask questions based on bare thoughts on public service and what it means to be a good public servant.”

BuildOn provides programs for students to break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy. About 90 percent of buildOn students go to college. There are 19 schools in the Bay Area working with buildOn and in the previous year, the students contributed more than 24,000 hours to the Bay Area community.

At USF, service learning is a core class part of the graduation requirement where each student dedicates at least 20-25 hours of service per 15-week semester. “Co-hosting a mayoral forum is a fitting project for USF and buildOn because it will engage high school and college students, as well as the greater community, into the process of local politics,” Cook said on the USF website.

Catarina Schwab, buildOn’s vice president of development, said the partnership is a good match: “We aligned with USF because they focus a lot on service. Both were interested in a forum on service. We are even going to have a buildOn chapter at USF.”

Our Weekly Picks: May 4-11, 2011





Wanda Jackson

Over her 50-plus years in show business, she’s been called “the Queen of Rockabilly” and “the Sweet Lady with the Nasty Voice” — and now fans can rightly call Wanda Jackson a true musical icon, with her recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Don’t let that enshrinement fool you into thinking she’s retired, though. She can still belt out tunes like nobody’s business, and proved that yet again with the release of The Party Ain’t Over, her Jack White-produced album that came out earlier this year. Forget about the recent big fuss over in England; come to tonight’s show if you want to see some real royalty. (Sean McCourt)

With Red Meat and DJ Britt Govea

8 p.m., $21

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750



J Mascis

It has been a good couple of years to be a Dinosaur Jr. fan. In 2005, lead singer J Mascis and bandmate Lou Barlow put aside their grievances enough to play shows as the original lineup, along with drummer Murph. In an era of live record performances from bands well past their prime, that would have been enough, but the band released new albums that were as good as ever. (In the case of 2009’s Farm, maybe better.) So now, almost just to show that he can, between Dinosaur Jr. tours and recording sessions, Mascis releases the solo album, Several Shades of Why. Exchanging shredded electric guitars for (still a little fuzzy) acoustics, it’s another surprise, but in the best way. (Ryan Prendiville)

With Black Heart Procession

8 p.m., $20


628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421





Frank Fairfield

Frank Fairfield’s adaptations of blistering American ballads are proudly faithful, but his ability to coax the rightness from battered banjos and fiddles (and to squeeze his voice as if onto fresh shellac) goes way beyond technique. “I don’t even know if [this music] has that much to do with tradition,” Fairfield told one interviewer. “I think it’s just people doing whatever they feel like doing. A lot of this stuff just gets mished and mashed, and that’s the beautiful thing about America.” The fact that he’s a young Angeleno who dresses the old-timey part may raise eyebrows — but trust your ears. He makes an intriguing opener for Cass McCombs, a troubadour cut from a different cloth. (Max Goldberg)

With Cass McCombs

8 p.m., $15

Swedish American Music Hall

2170 Market, SF

(415) 861-5016





Ahdanco/Abigail Hosein Dance Company

While dance can be described as poetry in motion, Ahdanco’s 2011 home season offers both poetry and motion in a dynamic dialogue. For one of the two new works on the program, the dancers share the stage with spoken word artists from the Bay Area Poetry Slam Circuit, weaving Abigail Hosein’s choreography with powerful narrative stories. The other dance is a trio set to an original score composed of four loop stations, trumpet, cello, upright bass, guitar, and female vocals performed live by ambient band, Entamoeba. Hosein’s strong female dancers (many of whom are Mills College alumni) skillfully balance the physical and theatrical. (Julie Potter)

Thurs/6–Fri/7, 8 p.m.; Sun/8, 6 p.m., $20

Ashby Stage

1901 Ashby, Berk.

(510) 837-0776



“Bikes and Beats”

In response to SF’s burgeoning biking scene — and that empty moment on the first Fridays of the month when you realize that the SF Bike Party is over and the rest of your evening is TBA — comes this night club-bike club. Organizers’ goal for this fundraiser for Sunday Streets and the Wigg Party is to make bike culture as un-scary and fun as possible — even to those without handlebar calluses. Bike crafts and fashion will be on display, as well as a dope, divergent musical lineup featuring the Polish Ambassador, Non-Stop Bhangra, Madrone’s Motown on Mondays crew, and that party on two wheels well known to SF cruisers, DJ Deep. (Caitlin Donohue)

10 p.m.–3 a.m., $6–$10

Public Works

161 Erie, SF

(415) 932-0955

Facebook: Bikes & Beats


“SCUBA 2011”

A terrific idea, SCUBA, a small presenters consortium, has been pooling resources for close to a decade to offer gigs to hot young choreographers, whether homegrown or invited from participating venues. So far, ODC Theater director Rob Bailis’ choices have always been worthwhile. The mix has been rich and varied. On this program, SF’s own Katie Faulkner, who will premiere Sawtooth, will be joined by Amelia Reeber from Seattle and Chris Yon from Minneapolis. Reeber is bringing this is a forgery, a multimedia work that examines choices and transformation. Yon draws on husband-wife vaudeville acts for his duet, The Very Unlikeliness (I’m Going to Kill You), with partner with Taryn Griggs. (Rita Felciano)

Fri/6–Sat/7, 8 p.m.; Sun/8, 7 p.m., $15–$18

ODC Theater

3153 17th St. SF

(415) 863-9834





“Walk Like An Egyptian”

What’s Zambaleta, you say? In Egypt, Zambaleta is a spontaneous chaotic street party that happens when everyone is participating, through music or dance. In the Mission, Zambaleta is a world music and dance school with an inclusive environment and celebratory spirit. This weekend’s “Walk Like An Egyptian” festival captures that spirit, featuring Bay Area music from blues and folk to jug bands and indie. The lineup of 18 bands includes an appearance by Annie Bacon’s Folk Opera — plus, proceeds from the festival support community programs at the world music and dance center. Come walk — and party — like an Egyptian. (Potter)

Sat/7, 1 p.m.–midnight;

Also Sun/8, noon–8 p.m., $5–$20

Restoration Workshop

630 Treat, SF

(415) 341-1333



CELLspace Birthday Benefit Funkathon

Celebrate the 15th birthday of CELLspace, San Francisco’s original hub for artistic work and gatherings, by partying down at a Funkathon featuring Action Jackson and other funky music and dance acts. And this is just one event among many, including an art auction May 5, a swap meet and dance party May 6, and a party May 8 that coincides with the Sunday Streets closure of Mission District streets to automobile traffic. CELLspace, a venerable institution that offers classes on everything from welding to breakdancing, is going through ambitious fundraising efforts as it seeks the permits and resources to expand its nightlife offerings, so come have a funky time while supporting a great cause. (Steven T. Jones) 9 p.m., $10–$20


2050 Bryant, SF

(415) 410-7597



“Ultimate Mommie Dearest

Oh, I know you’ve already seen 1981’s Mommie Dearest. And I know you can quote all the famous lines (personal favorite: “Tina! Bring me the ax!”) But you’ve never experienced the ultimate Mommie Dearest — because it’s never been attempted until this once-in-a-lifetime event. Marking the cult classic’s 30th anniversary is a dame who surely has never touched a wire hanger in her life, Peaches Christ, and celebrated Peaches cohorts Heklina, Martiny, and (in honor of Mother’s Day), Mrs. Christ herself! A restored print of the film caps a night that also includes the musical stage spectacular Trannie Dearest, a drag tribute to Joan Crawford’s unfailingly dramatic life. Do I even have to add that costumes are encouraged? (Cheryl Eddy)

8 p.m., $25–$40

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF




Urban Cycling Workshop

If I had a nickel for every car devotee or exasperated Muni rider who’s lamented, “Oh, I would totally ride a bike if there weren’t so many scary cars!” I’d be, well, not rich but could certainly buy some fresh handlebar tape ($16 per roll). How awesome, then, that the hardworking bike advocates at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition are offering a four-hour, in-classroom, free introductory course geared toward newbies and cyclists who want to feel more comfortable riding our tiny but intense peninsula. The class covers all the basics, from choosing the best bike to pulling emergency maneuvers, to knowing your legal rights. Ding, ding! (Kat Renz)

2 p.m., free (preregistration required; ages 14 and up)

Fort Mason Center, Bldg. C, Rm. 362

Laguna at Marina, SF

(415) 431-2453 x312






Much like the mythical creatures from Gremlins (1984) that they are named after, Mogwai’s sound can be soft and serene at one moment, then morph into an entirely different dynamic, with blistering guitars and noisy effects multiplying around you. The Glasgow-bred rockers returned in February with its seventh record, and its first Sub Pop release, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, which continues the band’s mostly instrumental and highly successful approach to making music. Creating lush sonic soundscapes richly textured with a wide array of different riffs and tones, the five-piece group is definitely one to catch live if you can. (McCourt)

With Errors

8 p.m., $23.50–$26

Regency Ballroom

1290 Sutter, SF




MAY 10



If you have seen Tanya Bello dance — Shift Physical Theater, Robert Moses’ Kin, and Janice Garrett + Dancers come to mind — you won’t have forgotten her. She probably was the shortest (but also the fastest and fiercest) tearing across the stage. Bello is small but she dances big. Lately she has taken advantage of the Garage’s RAW (Resident Artist Workshop) program to hone her choreographic skills. Moveable Feast, her first full-evening work, is plugging into her experience working with choreographers both here and on the East Coast. The idea is to show three versions of one piece in which components — lights, dancers, sets, music — get shuffled around. In the end the audience decides which one worked best. (Felciano)

May 10-11, 8 p.m., $15


975 Howard, SF

(415) 518 1517 www.brownpapertickets.com 


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