Golden Gate Park



SEPT. 2–4
Art and Soul Oakland Frank Ogawa Plaza and City Center, 14th St and Clay, Oakl; (510) 444-CITY, 11am-6pm. $5. The sixth incarnation of this annual downtown Oakland festival includes dance performances, lots of art to view and purchase, an expanded “Family Fun Zone,” and a notably eclectic musical lineup. Big-name musical performers include New Found Glory, Rickie Lee Jones, Calexico, and the Silversun Pickups.
Sausalito Art Festival Army Corps of Engineers-Bay Model Visitor Center and Marinship Park, Sausalito; (415) 331-3757, Call or check Web site for time. $5-20. The Sausalito waterfront will play host to hundreds of artists’ exhibits, as well as family entertainment and top-notch live music from the likes of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Dick Dale, and the Lovemakers.

SEPT. 2–24
Free Shakespeare in the Park Parade ground in the Presidio, SF; (415) 558-0888, Sat, 7:30pm; Sun and Labor Day, 2:30pm. Free. Shakespeare’s The Tempest gets a brilliant rendition under the direction of Kenneth Kelleher on the outdoor stage: families fostering budding lit and theater geeks should take note.

Cowgirlpalooza El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; (415) 282-3325, 4pm. $10. This sure-to-be-twangy evening on el Rio’s patio features music by the most compellingly country-fried female musicians around, including Austin’s the Mother Truckers, 77 el Deora, and Four Year Bender.

Brews on the Bay Jeremiah O’Brien, Pier 45, SF; 12-4:30pm. $8-40. Beer tasting, live music, and food abound at the San Francisco Brewers Guild’s annual on-deck showcase.
911 Power to the Peaceful Festival Speedway Meadows, Golden Gate Park, SF; (415) 865-2170, 11am-5pm. Free. This event calling for international human rights and an end to bombing features art and cultural exhibits, as well as performances by Michael Franti and Blackalicious.

SEPT. 9–10
Chocolate Festival Ghirardelli Square, 900 N Point, SF; 12-5pm. Free. An indisputably fun weekend at the square includes chocolate goodness from over 30 restaurant and bakery booths, various activities for kids and families, and a “hands free” Earthquake Sundae Eating Contest.
San Francisco Zinefest CELLspace, 2050 Bryant, SF; (415) 750-0991, 10am-5pm. Free. Appreciate the continuing vitality of the do-it-yourself approach at this two-day event featuring workshops and more than 40 exhibitors.

SEPT. 10
Solano Avenue Stroll Solano between San Pablo and the Alameda, Berkeley and Albany; (510) 527-5358, 10am-6pm. Free. This long-running East Bay block party features a clown-themed parade, art cars, dunk tanks, and assorted artsy offerings of family fun, along with the requisite delicious food and musical entertainment.

SEPT. 16–17
Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival Old Mill Park, Mill Valley; (415) 381-8090, Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-5pm. $7. Dig this juried show featuring original fine art including jewelry, woodwork, painting, ceramics, and clothing.

SEPT. 17
Arab Cultural Festival County Fair Building, 9th Ave and Lincoln, Golden Gate Park, SF; 10am-7pm. $2-5. Lissa Faker (Do you still remember?) is the theme for this year’s Arab Cultural Festival, featuring a bazaar with jewelry, henna, and Arab cuisine, as well as assorted folk and contemporary musical performances.

SEPT. 23–24
Autumn Moon Festival Grant between California and Broadway and Pacific between Stockton and Kearney, SF; (415) 982-6306, 11am-6pm. Free. At one of Chinatown’s biggest annual gatherings, you can see an acrobatic troupe, martial artists, street vendors, and of course, lots of moon cakes. I like the pineapple the best.

SEPT. 24
Folsom Street Fair Folsom between Seventh St and 12th St, SF; 11am-6pm. Free. The world’s largest leather gathering, coinciding with Leather Pride Week, features a new Leather Women’s Area along with the myriad fetish and rubber booths. Musical performers include My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, the Presets, and Blowoff, Bob Mould’s new collaboration with Richard Morel.

SEPT. 29–OCT. 1
A Taste of Greece Annunciation Cathedral, 245 Valencia, SF; (415) 864-8000, Call or check Web site for time. $5. Annunciation Cathedral’s annual fundraising event is an all-out food festival where you can steep yourself in Greek dishes, wine tasting, and the sounds of Greek Compania.

OCT. 3
Shuck and Swallow Oyster Challenge Ghirardelli Square, West Plaza, 900 North Point, SF; (415) 929-1730. 5pm. Free to watch, $25 per pair to enter. How many oysters can two people scarf down in 10 minutes? Find out as pairs compete at this most joyous of spectacles, and head to the oyster and wine pairing afterward at McCormick and Kuleto’s Seafood Restaurant, also in Ghirardelli Square.

OCT. 5–9
Fleet Week Various locations, SF; (650) 599-5057, Cries of “It’s a plane!” and “Now there’s a boat!” shall abound at San Francisco’s impressive annual fleet gathering. Along with ship visits, there’ll be a big air show from the Blue Angels and the F-16 Falcon Demonstration Team.

OCT. 5–15
Mill Valley Film Festival CinéArts at Sequoia, 25 Throckmorton, Mill Valley; 142 Throckmorton Theatre, 142 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley; Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center, 1118 Fourth St, San Rafael; (925) 866-9559, Call or check Web site for times and prices. Documentaries and features of both the independent and international persuasion get screentime at this festival, the goal of which is insight into the various cultures of filmmaking.

OCT. 6–14
Litquake Various locations, SF; San Francisco’s annual literary maelstrom naturally features Q&As and readings from a gazillion local authors, but also puts on display a staged reading of an Andrew Sean Greer story, music from Jay Farrar and Ray Manzarek, and a storytelling session with Sean Wilsey and his mother, Pat Montandon.

OCT. 12–15
Oktoberfest by the Bay Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; Check Web site for times. $5-15. One of the few places your lederhosen won’t look silly is the biggest Oktoberfest left of Berlin, where the Chico Bavarian Band will accompany German food and a whole lotta beer.

OCT. 28–29
Wonders of Cannabis Festival County Fair Building, 9th Ave and Lincoln, Golden Gate Park, SF; (510) 486-8083, 11am-7pm. $20. Ed Rosenthal, cannabis advocate extraordinaire, presents contests in comedy and joint rolling, cooking demonstrations, two musical stages, and some heavy-duty speakers: Terrence Hallinan, Ross Mirkarimi, Tommy Chong, and interestingly, Rick Steves of the eponymous PBS travel show. SFBG



Aug. 27

Visual Art

Free at the de Young

Although not free (save for the first Tuesday of every month), the de Young has numerous works on view inside and outside the museum that you can see without paying admission. Follow Andy Goldsworthy’s Drawn Stone, a line cracked in the paver from the Music Concourse to the museum’s entrance. One of the first pieces that you’re magnetically pulled to when you enter the museum is Gerhard Richter’s commissioned Strontium, a gigantic wall installation that dominates the ground floor open area between galleries. The doors are always open to the Piazzoni mural room where two five-panel murals of serene California landscapes by Gottardo F.P. Piazzoni are permanently installed. Take the side door right before the café to the sculpture garden where Juan Muñoz’s Conversation Piece V, Joan Miró’s la Maternité, and Gustav Kraitz’s Apples serve as a kind of jungle gym for children and adults. (Katie Kurtz)

Tues.-Sun., 9:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m; Fri., 9:30 a.m.-8:45 p.m.
De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive (near Fulton and 10th Avenue).
$10, $7 seniors, $6 youths 13-17 and college students with ID (free first Tues.)
(415) 750-3614,



Mark Jackson is back in Berkeley for a while at least, directing Oscar Wilde’s Salome for Aurora Theatre Company. Banned in Britain for almost 40 years, Salome the play caused as much scandal in Europe as the lady herself did in Galilee. Featuring Ron Campbell, winner of the Bay Area Critics Circle award for Best Solo Performance in 2005, as King Herod and Miranda Calderon as the titular temptress. (Nicole Gluckstern)

Previews Sun/27, 2 p.m., and Aug. 30, 8 p.m. Opens Aug. 31, 8 p.m. Runs Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 and 7 p.m. Through Oct. 1
Aurora Theatre
2081 Addison, Berk.
(510) 843-4822,

Learning from leaks


Brace yourself. What you are about to read might go against what you think is the general wisdom of conservationists: if it’s pee, don’t let it be. Now, I’m not advocating that you should flush. What I’m about to suggest emerges from the world of permaculture, and you’re about to find out all about it.
Permaculture is an approach to sustainable living that entails close, spiritual observation of nature and its inherent patterns and rhythms. Through contemplation of the land — a backyard, an entire city, Yosemite’s wilderness — humans can learn how to interact with the environment in a balanced and harmonious way. According to its adherents, permaculture design can integrate the vast spectrum of biological diversity into a functional system that naturally replenishes what it depletes. It seems fundamental that imitating the cycles of nature would produce a less wasteful way of living, but permaculturists insist that we’ve strayed so far from that course (for example, by farming miles and miles of wheat and using limited sources of energy) that it’s time for a full-on return to basics.
But permaculture is more than just a lesson on the how-tos of composting. And it’s more than simply a call to turn back the clock of industrialization. As Guillermo Vásquez, a Mayan from Central America who has been running the Indigenous Permaculture design course around the Bay Area since 2002, puts it, “It’s about how local communities can use their resources in the city in a sustainable way.”
Though geared to the urban environment, Vásquez’s classes use farming techniques drawn from native rural communities in El Salvador, South Dakota, and Guatemala. As a demonstration of how some of these techniques can be applied to everyday situations for the typical city dweller, he talked to me about the patch of bereft soil that is my backyard. Local permaculture courses such as the one Vásquez teaches introduce students to a holistic way of gardening that goes beyond throwing down some dirt, plugging a tomato seedling into the ground, and then turning on the hose. I mentioned that I should probably wait until winter to plant, in order to take advantage of the spring rains, so that I don’t have to wastefully water the yard so much, to which he responded, “you’re right, but first you have to find out what’s in your soil.” His classes give practical lessons in such things as testing the soil for lead and rotating crops and adding trees that retain water and recycle nutrients.
Vásquez’s class is taught on a shoestring budget. He organizes the course with elders from native communities in Central America and the United States. The staff includes specialists in water, soil, and green business. Employees of local nonprofits and people from underserved communities are invited to take the course for free, so long as they make a solemn commitment to do permaculture work in their communities for at least a year after the training. “We have a really teeny budget. Sometimes we work with nothing. We do this because we believe in hard work. We don’t get a salary. We organize the students to work with no money. We prove to them and show them that we can do positive things in our community with no money.”
Permaculture courses were developed in Australia in the mid-’70s when it first became obvious to environmentalists that the planet was in serious trouble due to monoculture farming. These environmentalists believed that we should value the earth’s bounty and endeavor to not hog all of its resources. Then they looked for ways to draw upon the interconnection between earth, water, and sky. One should meditate upon a site for as long as a year before farming, permaculturists advise, making note of all the connections observed. You might notice the sun’s path through the area or how water is leaking away from the site instead of being absorbed into it.
Besides ecological sustainability and environmental relationships, most permaculturists focus on creating social sustainability, recognizing cultural and bioregional identity, and building creative activist networks to implement “placemaking” and “paradigm reconstruction practices.” Not surprisingly for such an interactive philosophy, permaculture has found a huge following on the Web — sites such as and host lively online forums.
Permaculturists also believe that humans should not interfere with the wilderness and that our only interaction with it should be to observe and learn from its ecological systems. The permacultural interactivity of humans and the environment is usually organized and described graphically as a system of concentric zones, like a mandala, beginning with “home” and extending toward “community,” so that the patterns of our social worlds can be put into balance.
Permaculture instructor Kat Steele of the Urban Permaculture Guild got into this kind of holistic approach because she wanted to combine her graphic design background with what she learned about sustainable living while traveling. She took a permaculture design course and started a landscaping business, then moved on to teaching certification courses. (In most cases, permaculture certification allows graduates to teach and participate in larger projects). The Urban Permaculture Guild uses “nonheirarchical decision-making” as one of its principles, and its members, in between contributing to the guild’s operations, have been involved in such large-scale projects as working with Jordanians to green their heavily salted deserts and transforming water recycling policies in Australia.
Steele discussed the guild’s training course with me while on a break from a six-week course conducted at the education facility of Golden Gate Park’s botanical garden. (It’s the first time the park has offered the course; the educational director hopes to develop the program further with Steele.) As in Vásquez’s class, students learn about the principles and concepts of permaculture and put them into practice in gardens. They learn from guest lecturers about soil enrichment and gray water (any water except toilet water that’s been used in the home). Both Vásquez’s and Steele’s classes follow the guidelines of the Permaculture Institute of Northern California and offer certification to students who successfully complete the course. They can be beneficial to yard gardeners like me, architects who wants to consider the best way to orient a building in order to make use of the sun and shade, and civil engineers looking for different approaches to water use and recycling.
During my conversation with Steele, she indicated how the concepts of permaculture could translate to social systems. “In our social landscape, we want to look at where energy is leaking. Typically in most businesses there is an organizational structure that is sort of top-down, and we can create feedback loops from energy or information that might be stored in areas that aren’t being used, so that it all can come back to decision makers. So creating flows that mimic cycles in nature in our business structures can help that.”
So learning from leaks is a key practice of permaculture design. Before we finished our interview, Steele got me thinking about how much I leak at home and that flushing isn’t just a gross misuse of water, it’s a waste to send all that pee down the drain. Turns out pee, when diluted in, say, a backyard pond fed by rain runoff from your roof, is excellent for your garden. SFBG
Aug. 26–Sept. 13
20 hours a week, dates subject to change after first class session
Free with one-year commitment to community work
Ecology Center
2530 San Pablo, Berkeley
Check Web site for upcoming sessions in the Bay Area

Ramblin’, man


SONIC REDUCER He’s been at home on the range, in the skies overhead, on the South Pacific sea, and on the streets of Greenwich Village. He was taken under the migrant wing of Woody Guthrie, read to Jack Kerouac, backed up Nico, was called the sexiest man in America by Cass Elliott, thieved Allen Ginsberg’s girlfriend, married James Dean’s ex, and was ensconced in the heart of Bob Dylan’s 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue. Mick Jagger said he purchased his first guitar after seeing him play, and his “San Francisco Bay Blues” was one of the first songs Paul McCartney learned to play. ’Nuff said — Ramblin’ Jack Elliott is a legend and would be even if Bill Clinton hadn’t dubbed him an “American treasure.”
I caught up with the singer of cowboy songs, working stiffs’ ballads, salty sailor chanteys, sad songs of the blue, down and out, and lonesome, near his Marshall home, at a Petaluma watering hole, on the occasion of his forthcoming 75th birthday on Aug. 1.
“I don’t like to think about it,” says Elliott of his age. Still sharp, superarticulate, and a consummate flirt, the Brooklyn-born cowboy digs into his Caesar salad — don’t hold the anchovies, man — in the shade of the restaurant, then pokes at our shared plate of fries with his fork. Despite the heat, his hat remains clamped on his head, a bandanna around his neck. “I like to say, in 17 days and 25 years I’m gonna be 100.”
He isn’t quite ready to hang up his boots and sit at home accepting accolades: The still-riveting interpreter of America’s folk songs attended bull-riding school at 47, still harbors an abiding fondness for ponies and long-distance trucks, and hasn’t given up a dream of someday, well, writing songs on a regular basis. “I’ve only written about five songs in 40 years,” he says, proudly sticking to that story. “I’m not a writer. I want to learn to write, I really do. I’m incredibly lazy, though. I can spend 15 days just sleeping after an airplane trip.”
But much travel is on the horizon for this singer of other folks’ songs — he’s now in demand with the release of a wonderful, spare new album of seldom-played tunes, I Stand Alone. David Hidalgo, Corin Tucker, Flea, Nels Cline, and DJ Bonebrake joined him on the Anti- album, in studios of their choosing. Turns out the man truly stood alone — though you wouldn’t be able to tell from the palpable tough love and hardscrabble synchronicity evident on “Careless Darling,” his gritty-sweet pairing with Lucinda Williams.
I tell him I saw him perform five years ago at the Guardian-hosted “Power to the People” show at Crissy Field, put together, incidentally, by I Stand Alone producer Ian Brennan. “Outdoors!” Elliott exclaims. “Right by the bay. I don’t like performing outdoors because I feel nooo connection with the audience. I can see them getting up or eating a sandwich. I want them to be able to be focused on me, because I’m focused on them and I’m trying to focus on what the heck the song is about. Like, what does it mean?”
But let’s wander back to I Stand Alone. “I’ve never been with a hip company before,” Elliott says of Anti-. “My daughter [Aiyana, who directed the 2002 documentary The Ballad of Ramblin’ Jack] wanted to call it Not for the Tourists. Her husband asked, ‘Why don’t you sing those songs in your show, Jack?’ And I said, ‘They’re not for the tourists.’” The songs were long gone from his set simply because he tired of them, having sung them so often in his early years. Yet they possess a taken-for-granted ease found in things that are so worn and familiar that they’re second nature.
“It’s like what Woody told me one time. I asked him to show me how to play a certain cowboy song. I loved it, and Woody had a very unusual way of singing that song and playing it on the guitar,” says Elliott, recalling the year as 1951 and Woody as a hard-drinking 39 to his 19 years. “I said, ‘Woody, can you show me how to play that song ‘Buffalo Skinners,’ and he said, ‘That’s on the record, Jack, and you can go listen to it.’ I listened to it about a hundred times, and I pretty much learned what he was doing, but I never could quite do it exactly the way he did it. He just wasn’t in the mood to be teachin’ guitar.”
Those days of shadowing Guthrie around the country and following his every move, which often got Elliott pegged as a mere imitator, are now “like a dream. I think it was one of the happiest times of my young life because I got to hear all his stories. I’m sorry,” he says, pointing to my recorder, “I didn’t have one of these to record with.” SFBG
Sausalito Art Festival
Sept. 2, call for time and price
Marinship Park, Sausalito
(415) 331-3757
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
Oct. 6–7, visit Web site for schedule
Speedway Meadow, Golden Gate Park, SF
Manchester reunited? The punk-pop progenitors are still snarly — just check their latest, Flat-Pack Philosophy (Cooking Vinyl). Thurs/27, 9 p.m., Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. $20 advance. (415) 625-8880.
OK, I’ll give it up if you do: I’m a stone-cold junkie for karaoke. This time you can skip “Rock of Ages” and head straight for “My Adidas” at this launch event hosted by the SweatBox. Fri/28 and the last Friday of every month, 10 p.m.–2 a.m., Bar of Contemporary Art, 414 Jessie, SF. $5. (415) 756-8890.
Two once and former Holy Rollers come down to earth. Thurs/27, 9 p.m., Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. $10. (415) 621-4455.

Bike battles continue


By Steven T. Jones
It was two months ago this Saturday that Mayor Gavin Newsom vetoed Healthy Saturdays, which would have extended the Sunday Golden Gate Park road closures through the weekend. At the time, he did the political thing and said he was looking for a compromise. But since then, he’s done nothing to follow up or even agree to meet to bike advocates. Yet he did find time on Wednesday evening to get feted by opponents of the measure, who called strangely call themselves Coalition for Park Access, at the Conservatory of Flowers. A few bicyclists got wind of the event and showed up to protest, but their bigger effort will be tomorrow when they show up at the Conservatory of Flowers at 1:30 to educate parkgoers how the mayor is all talk when it comes to creating car-free reactional spaces.

P.S. Anti-bike zealot Rob Anderson — whose lawsuit challenging the city bike plan has temporarily halted most bike projects in the city — lost his mind when he heard about the Wednesday protest, calling on the mayor to remove Bike Coalition executive director Leah Shahum from her seat on the MTA board. Luckily, he was heckled down by members of the PROSF listserve, who informed him that MTA members serve fixed terms and can’t be booted simply for exercising the free speech rights that Anderson himself so often (and irritatingly) proclaims.

Imagine there’s no heaven


› a&
A constitutional amendment mandating a national day of prayer? If such a proposal remains fictitious (for the moment), it hardly stretches the imagination. For these are the times that try a civic teacher’s soul and, not incidentally, call forth from the venerable San Francisco Mime Troupe one of its best efforts in years.
The world premiere of SFMT’s teeth-baring musical comedy, GodFellas — this year’s free agitprop in the park — tells the story of Angela Franklin (Velina Brown), a mild-mannered public school civics teacher with a thing for Tom Paine, who becomes the leader of a mass movement to save secular democracy from God-wielding gangsters grown fat on the church-state-mingling scam that is the Bush junta’s faith-based initiative, now pushing a theocratic Prayer Day Amendment.
Fronted by a suave evangelist named the Reverend C.B. De Love (Michael Gene Sullivan), the “Syndicate” is in the process of soaking up federal dollars, trampling the separation clause, and shoring up its political power while expanding the totalitarian reach of its Beltway allies. Our first glimpse of this outfit comes in the opening scene’s staged concert, the Ministry of Rock. Christian headbangers preaching with power chords (and amusingly outfitted by costume designer and actor Keiko Shimosato) soon introduce the headline act. “For everything I got, I wanna thank J.C.,” croons De Love to a jaunty rock-blues beat. “But I’m not working for Jesus. Got Jesus workin’ for me.”
Of course, where the art of rhetorical persuasion and the channels of popular culture fail, the Syndicate is ready to call in its muscle — a burly nun with a Bronx accent and five o’clock shadow, Sister Jesus Mary Joseph (Victor Toman). It’s in this holy spirit that the Syndicate comes knocking down the door of Angela’s Center for Extended Studies, a place, she says, for teaching all subjects that have been cut from the curriculum. Angela founded the Center with her liberal-minded colleague Todd (Christian Cagigal), a good-natured if sexually repressed Catholic-school art teacher and her shy love interest (his wild side is suggested, in a typical instance, by the donning of his “adventure cardigan”). Together they’ve been keeping the flame of critical thinking alive, in addition to fanning a smoldering flirtation (you know, involving lewd inflections of lines from the Federalist Papers and the like).
As the Syndicate muscles in on their operation, they retreat to separate camps, Todd capituutf8g to the new bosses in order to continue teaching and Angela heading for the Golden Gate Bridge. There, an epiphany of a decidedly secular nature convinces her to fight back, winning her first recruits from among passersby. As Angela takes on the forces of theocracy, the seduction of politics and mass media threatens to make her secular movement as dogmatic as the Syndicate. All of which brings home the message that democratic societies function under a popular regime of critical thinking and die under regimes of blind faith.
If the play itself sounds a little like a civics lesson, it is. But it’s one that goes down like a sweet, melodious riot of sharp comedy and contagious song — a combination that is ultimately a highly effective framework for the play’s ample citations of Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, clarion lines that give the lie to the insatiable authoritarianism, religious and otherwise, that cloaks itself in the flag. Despite its essentially familiar formula, all elements of the production — from Bruce Barthol’s skillful and imaginative score to the great performances under the astute direction of SFMT veteran Ed Holmes, to the finely honed script by Sullivan and collaborators Jon Brooks, Eugenie Chan, and Christian Cagigal (Tom Paine should probably get a writing credit too) — smoothly come together to make GodFellas an inspired and genuinely stirring piece of political theater, not to mention an invigorating dose of common sense. SFBG
Through Oct. 1 around the Bay Area
Sat/15, 2 p.m.
Peacock Meadow
JFK Drive between McLaren Lodge
and Conservatory, Golden Gate Park, SF
Sun/16, 2 p.m.
Lakeside Park
Lakeside Drive at Lake Merritt, Oakl.
(415) 285-1717

Bike safety chic



Lately, I’ve been feeling too spooked to ride my bike. Chalk it up to too many near misses, some of which occurred when I was just walking my bike home in the rain. I often think of the shoulder injury my friend has yet to fully recover from or be compensated for (damn those uninsured motorists who skip town) after being doored two years ago. It doesn’t help matters that I spent the weekend at an East Bay music festival held annually in memory of Matthew Sperry, a bassist, composer, husband, and dad, whose very special life ended while he was cycling to work at LeapFrog in Emeryville on June 5, 2003. And let’s not forget Sarah Tucker (hit and run accident, 1/12/06) and Spider Davila (deliberate hit and run, 12/17/05).

Looks like I’m not alone in my fretting. According to a "report card" issued by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, 13 percent of us are reluctant to pedal around town because we’re too scared. Overall, our city got a C-minus in bike friendliness from the 1,151 respondents who filled out the SFBC’s online and hand-distributed survey, mostly owing to scary motorists, bumpy streets, and not enough bike lanes (all issues the bicycle coalition works very hard on to make for a better biking city).

Even though I’m afraid of eating pavement while riding, I don’t wear a helmet. I used to, but those things never look good with my outfit. Besides, if two tons of car slams into me while I’m rolling down Gough, a little piece of plastic and foam wrapped around my Gulliver won’t save my life. Some of you fixies reading this article might be nodding in agreement. Well, that’s because your heads are still attached to your bodies.

Fixed-gear bikes do look beautiful, unfettered as they are by brakes, cheap plastic reflectors, and clunky beam lights, but I’m here to say that you don’t always have to sacrifice aesthetics in favor of living to a ripe old age.

Here’s a handful of ways for you, whether you’re a fixie, a chopper rider, a hybrid commuter, a BMX daredevil, or just really vain (like me), to avoid wearing a neck brace as a fashion accessory. Trust me, you and your bike will still look cool.

1. Get a light How many times has a passing motorist screamed that at you? You bitch about it, because every time you buy one, someone steals it, so finally you got one that slides on and off. But it was too big to fit in your pocket, and then some moron decided to strip the light’s pedestal still screwed to your handlebars. I solved this problem by getting a Topeak front beam light ($20). It’s small enough to fit in your mouth, and it straps on kind of like a wristwatch. No screwdriver necessary, no tacky plastic pedestal marring the sleek looks of your untaped handlebars. I got mine at San Francisco Cyclery on Stanyan across from Golden Gate Park.

2. Don’t be a sucker Jerks are also always stealing back lights and reflectors off bikes. Valencia Cyclery sells lots of "lollipop" lights, which are made by Cat Eye and attach with elastic cords to your backpack, seat, helmet, belt loop. They cost $13 for a red and $17 for a more-expensive-to-make white LED light.

3. Cop skater style It’s hard to say how these things get decided, but among the tragically hip, lightweight and aerodynamic helmets specifically made for biking are as out as fanny packs. Case in point: Only hybrid riders wear them. But for some reason, wearing a skateboarding helmet while biking is dope. Whatever, they protect equally well. Giro and Bell make bicycle helmets that look like skater (or BMX) helmets, which are more rounded and human headshaped than the amphibious-looking bike helmets of the ’90s. They come in an array of colors in matte and sparkling finishes. Freewheel and American Cyclery sell them for between 20 and 40 bucks. Skates on Haight sells actual skate helmets online for $20.

4. Just don’t commit suicide Road bikes are more the rage these days, but it’s hard to look out for wayward traffic while leaning over those drop handlebars. Cyclocross interrupter break levers ($20$40) install at the top of the bars, near the stem, allowing road bike riders to sit upright. Since these levers connect to the housing instead of to your lower brakes, they are a much better alternative to the old-school versions often referred to as suicide brakes. Valencia Cyclery will retrofit your vintage road bike with these for $30. SFBG

Freewheel Bike Shop

1920 Hayes and 914 Valencia, SF

(415) 752-9195, (415) 643-9213

San Francisco Bike Coalition’s Report Card

San Francisco Cyclery

672 Stanyan, SF

(415) 379-3870

Valencia Cyclery

1065 Valencia, SF

(415) 550-6601

From ANWR to SF


OPINION For more than a decade, the oil industry and environmentalists have fought over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska.

At the same time, polarizing debate has raged in San Francisco over automobiles in Golden Gate Park, with the proposed car-free Saturday on JFK Drive as the latest iteration.

While ANWR is a long way from San Francisco, that fight has a lot in common with the debate over car-free Saturdays. Both the ANWR and car-free Saturday debates include an enormous expenditure of political capital to confront or defend a lifestyle based on unlimited use of personal cars. And while Gavin Newsom’s veto of car-free Saturday legislation tells us a lot about our ambitious mayor, it also gives us a lens into what he might be like as a future US Senator voting on ANWR drilling.

In ANWR, the debate is whether wilderness should be opened to drilling in order to wean the nation from foreign oil and to save American motorists from inconvenient gas price increases. In short, it is about accommodating a way of life centered on unlimited personal car use — instead of reducing our need for oil by switching to compact urbanism, mass transit, walking, and bicycling.

In Golden Gate Park, the debate centers on a way of life based on unfettered free parking and high-speed "cut-thru" streets like JFK Drive, versus a way of life that reduces car dependency and celebrates urbanism and nature at the same time. While the city and its mayor promote a green image, a small group of wealthy interests maintain that cars simply have to be a central part of our lives and a primary means of transportation, particularly in cities. Moreover, they envision the car-free Saturdays as a dangerous step toward other citywide proposals, such as reducing the space for cars on the streets to prioritize mass transit and bicycles, or perhaps restricting cars on Market Street. Those are the real stakes in this debate.

Like forbidding drilling in ANWR, restricting cars in parts of Golden Gate Park would symbolize a victory for a specific vision centered on reducing the role of automobiles in everyday life.

It is difficult to know how Gavin Newsom would vote on ANWR if he were elected to the US Senate — a position for which he is no doubt being groomed — upon the retirement of Sen. Dianne Feinstein. But in light of his veto of car-free Saturdays, it is worth pondering that with this veto Newsom reveals he could be persuaded to come down on the wrong side in one of America’s most controversial environmental debates, and support drilling in Alaska.

Imagine that 10 years from now, oil prices and global conflict over oil have intensified. A delusional motoring public in California demands relief from its senator (who as mayor did very little to truthfully address problems of automobile dependency in San Francisco). Republicans will be pointing at the offshore oil in California, and Newsom, a Democrat having just been elected to replace the retired Feinstein, will be challenged to provide relief. Would Newsom, out of desperation, support drilling in ANWR to avoid drilling in California?

Actions speak louder than words, and what Newsom has done this week is to set San Francisco up for another decade of automobile dependency without offering any viable alternative. SFBG

Jason Henderson

Jason Henderson is an assistant professor of geography at San Francisco State University.

Attack of the NIMBYs!



A fairy tale: Once upon a time there was a stone-hearted ogre named Capt. Dennis Martel of the San Francisco Police Department’s Southern Station. The Ogre Martel either through manic moodiness, misguided morality, or perpetual constipation owing to the enchanted stick up his ass was determined not to let people party like it was 1999. Thus he began terrorizing the nearby Clubbers of SoMa, a benign race of ravers, burners, and freaks who desired nothing more than peace, unity, respect, and free bottled water near the dance floor.

The ogre was relentless. Soon, after-hours party permits were being pulled, club owners fined for "attracting loiterers," and gentle electronica fans in bunny suits hauled downtown for daring to reek of reefer. SF’s premillennial party scene was in grave danger of becoming extinct, until a brave group of party people banded together and formed the San Francisco Late Night Coalition. These fair Knights of the Twirl-Around Table dedicated themselves to political action, local petitioning, and raising community awareness about the harmlessness of all-night dancing. Slowly but surely, they won over the hearts and votes of the townspeople, making clubbing safe again for all and banishing the evil Ogre Martel to parking lot duty at the airport. The end.

Well, not quite. Once again, good-natured fun in the Bay seems to be under attack. Only this time the threat comes not from one rogue cop and his wonky "cleanup" attempts, but from several nervous Nellies among the citizenry. As Amanda Witherell details in this issue, many of the city’s most revered street fairs, festivals, and outdoor events are now threatened by, among other things, higher fees, lack of alcohol sales permits, and sudden, oddball "concerns." And the story doesn’t stop there. The Pac Heights ski jump, amplified music in public spaces, and car-free Saturdays in Golden Gate Park have all recently been nixed by our supposedly green-minded go-go-boy mayor and his minions, under pressure from crotchety party poopers. Well-established clubs like the DNA Lounge, the Eagle Tavern, and irony of ironies the Hush Hush Lounge have had to dance madly and expensively around sound complaints. A popular wet-jockstrap contest in the Tenderloin was raided last month by cops, not because of the (whoops) accidental nudity and simulated sex, but because it was … too loud. Huzzacuzzawha?

While money and politics are certainly involved, the one common denominator in all this anti-fun is the squeaky wheel, the neighborhood killjoy who screams "not in my backyard!" These irksome drudges, the NIMBYs, are strangling San Francisco’s native spirit of communal cheer and outrageousness. Big business and corrupt political interests hinge their arguments for more money and less mirth on the whining of one or two finger waggers, despite overwhelming community support for the events being targeted. As often occurs in life, a single complaint carries far more weight than a hundred commendations. A few whack cranks bust the bash.

At this point one wants to shriek, "Move back to Mountain View, spoilsports!" And that’s exactly the message of the San Francisco Party Party, the latest grassroots effort to combat what Party Party leader Ted Strawser calls "the rampant suburbanization of the most gloriously hedonistic city on earth." NIMBYs are hard to spot; they come in every class and color and don’t always sport the telltale Hummers and French manicures of the previous generation of wet blankets (although they do often smell like diapers). The changing demographics of the city suggest that many new residents, mostly condo owners, commute to out-of-town jobs in San Jose, say and may be trying to transform San Francisco into a bedroom community.

"I don’t know who these quasi prohibitionists think they are, but they don’t belong here, that’s for sure," Strawser says. "Street culture and community gatherings are the reason San Francisco exists. We live our happy lives on the sidewalks and in the bars. And it’s bad enough we have to quit drinking at 2 a.m. Now we have to be quiet, too?"

The San Francisco Bike Coalition, the newly formed Outdoor Events Coalition, and the still-active Late Night Coalition are out in fabulous force to combat the NIMBYs. But, realizing the diffuseness of the problem, the Party Party is taking a less directly political, more Web-savvy approach to fighting San Francisco’s gradual laming, using its site as a viral locus for disgruntled partyers, a portal linking directly to organizations combating NIMBYs, and a guide to local fun stuff happening each week. "We’re a bunch of partyers, what can I say?" Strawser says. "We’re doing our best to shed light on all this insane NIMBY stuff, but we also love to go out drinking. And that’s a commitment many folks can relate to."

Let’s hope we can win the fight again this time (tipsy or no). San Francisco is a progressive city, dedicated to the power of microgovernment and the ability to have your voice heard in your community. If you don’t like what’s happening next door, you should be able to do something about it. But it’s also a city of constant reinvention and liveliness, exploration and celebration. That’s the reason we all struggle so much to stay here. That’s what shapes our soul.

If some people can’t handle it well, the less the merrier, maybe. SFBG

Newsom’s road-closure veto


EDITORIAL Mayor Gavin Newsom showed a colossal lack of political courage May 15 when he bowed to pressure from a few rich socialites and vetoed a program that would expand one of the city’s most popular and successful recreation programs.

Newsom, apparently changing course at the last minute, rejected a Board of Supervisors plan to close a section of roadway in Golden Gate Park on Saturdays. The six-month trial program would expand on the existing Sunday closure, which brings thousands of walkers, bikers, and roller skaters and yes, fans of the De Young Museum to the park to enjoy a rare car-free urban experience.

As of last week, Newsom insiders were telling us the mayor had decided to sign the legislation. But Dede Wilsey, a wealthy patron of the museum, was pushing hard to block the proposal. On May 9, the San Francisco Chronicle weighed in on the side of the museum, running a misleading editorial accusing the supervisors of defying a vote of the people and giving Newsom more cover for a move that will undermine his national image as an environmentalist.

In his veto letter, Newsom argues that the issue needs further study though that’s exactly what this plan would be: a six-month study period. And, like the Chronicle, he insists that the voters have spoken on this issue as if a pair of confusing ballot measures that were all tied up with the museum and the garage six years ago should be the final word on this issue. He also calls it "divisive" meaning, presumably, that unless Dede Wilsey and the museum crowd like something, the mayor can’t be a leader and take a stand.

The whole thing shouldn’t be difficult. The De Young’s board has argued that closed roads mean smaller crowds, but the museum’s own figures show that’s untrue (see "Dede Wilsey’s Whoppers," 4/19/06). Museum attendance on Sunday, when the roads are closed, is higher than on Saturday, when cars clog the area. (With so many people flocking to that part of the park, it’s no surprise some of them decide to stop by the museum.) Besides, when the museum won permission to build an underground parking garage in the park, garage supporters, including financier Warren Hellman, promised that the added car access would make it possible to close the roads on Saturdays and today, to his credit, he’s arguing in favor of the plan.

In New York City, which is even more congested than San Francisco and has far worse parking problems, a Republican mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has managed to close roads in Central Park not only on Saturdays but also on weekdays.

It’s too late to change Newsom’s mind, but the supervisors can still override the veto. One of the four who voted against the plan will have to switch to get the eighth vote for an override, and the most likely candidate is Bevan Dufty, whose district includes plenty of road-closure enthusiasts and who is up for reelection this fall. Call him (415-554-6968) and don’t let him wriggle out of this one. SFBG

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Editor’s Note

The Healthy Saturdays folks were out leafleting in Golden Gate Park this weekend, on a stunningly beautiful Sunday, along with thousands of other people enjoying the car-free sunshine. The message on the handouts: Call the mayor (554-7111); the supervisors have approved a plan to at least try extending the car ban to Saturday, and now it’s in the mayor’s court.

Which will be interesting, as Steven T. Jones reports on page 19, because Gavin Newsom thinks of himself as an environmentalist who is pro-bicycle and propublic transportation but the people who were a big part of his political base from day one are upper-crust de Young Museum types who, for their own selfish reasons, don’t want the roads in the park closed.

De Young Museum baroness Dede Wilsey and Ken Garcia, the San Francisco Examiner‘s resident crank, are the chief architects of the argument that the Saturday road closure is a bad idea. They’re pushing this God-and-the-flag line "let the voters decide" and claiming that since a similar plan lost at the ballot once, only a public referendum would be adequate authority for a rather simple land-use decision. Put it to the voters, they say; that’s fair, right?

Well, I’m not here to dis American democracy or anything, but there’s a little secret I want to share: Most elections aren’t fair. Anytime the size of the electorate is larger than about 40,000 voters (a typical San Francisco supervisorial district), you can’t effectively communicate your message without a big chunk of money and the larger the jurisdiction, the more money it takes.

Consider California.

There are three major candidates for governor, and all of them are wealthy people. But only two are truly, obscenely, stinking rich, with wealth in the $100 millionplus range, and they are, right now, the odds-on favorites to make the November final in large part because of their abilities to put personal wealth into the race. In other words, if you want to run for governor of California, being rich garden-variety rich isn’t nearly enough.

The same goes for San Francisco, on a different sort of scale. If citywide elections were fair, and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. didn’t have the ability to write a blank check every time an activist group tried to pass a public-power measure, San Francisco would have kicked out the private-power monopoly half a century ago. If citywide elections were fair, and Gavin Newsom didn’t have the ability to outspend Matt Gonzalez by a factor of about 6 to 1, the odds are at least even that Gonzalez would be mayor today.

That’s why Dede Wilsey and Ken Garcia, who both know better, are blowing some sort of smoke when they call for a "vote of the people."

But maybe we should call their bluff. How’s this for a deal:

The museum folks have plenty of money, so Wilsey can raise, say, $200,000. Then she can split it in half she gets $100,000, and the road-closure activists get $100,000. No outside, "independent" expenditures (they can control their side, and we can control ours), no tricks, no bullshit. Level playing field, fair election and let’s see who can walk more precincts and turn out more people on election day. That same model would work for all kinds of civic disputes.


PS: As an in-line skater with plenty of bruises to prove it, I have another suggestion: For even-more-healthy Saturdays, maybe they could resurface the roads. SFBG

Drugs of choice



San Francisco is home to a wide variety of drug users, from the hardcore smack addicts on Sixth Street to the club kids high on ecstasy or crystal meth to the yuppies snorting lines off their downtown desks or getting drunk after work to the cornucopia of people across all classes smoking joints in Golden Gate Park or in their living rooms on weekends.

Drug law reformers come in similarly wide varieties, but most have a strong preference for first legalizing the most popular and least harmful of illegal drugs: marijuana. That’s how medical marijuana got its quasi-legal status in the city, and why San Francisco hosted the huge state conference of California National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws conference that began on 4/20.

But while hundreds of CA-NORML attendees were eating lunch and waiting to be entertained by iconic marijuana advocate Tommy Chong (a session that was cut short by a hotel manager because too many attendees were smoking pot; go to “The Day after 4/20” at for the complete story), across town another unlikely legalization proponent was speaking to a circle of about two dozen people gathered in the Mission Neighborhood Health Center.

Norm Stamper, the former Seattle police chief and a cop for 34 years, is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of current and former police officers advocating for the legalization and regulation of all drugs (go to for more info). Although Stamper also spoke at some NORML conference events, he differs from that organization in at least one key respect.

“Tomorrow I’m going to say something that will piss off NORML,” Stamper told the group in the Mission District April 21. Namely, Stamper argues that it is more important to legalize hard drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines than the more benign marijuana.

While NORML focuses on personal freedom and the fact that marijuana is less harmful than legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco, Stamper blames drug prohibition for the more serious public health and economic costs associated with harder drugs. In particular, prohibition hinders addiction treatment and quality control of drugs both of which can have deadly results.

“I do think drugs should be rigorously regulated and controlled,” Stamper argued, noting that there are many different visions for the postprohibition world even within his own organization. Stamper prefers a model in which all drugs are legalized, production and distribution systems are tightly controlled by the government (as they are now with alcohol and tobacco), addiction issues are treated as medical problems, and crimes associated with such addictions such as theft or spousal abuse are treated harshly.

But he also said that he’s open to other ideas and definitely shares the widely held view among drug-law reformers of all stripes that the $1 trillion “war on drugs,” instigated in 1970 by then-president Richard Nixon, has been a colossal failure and an unnecessary waste of human and economic capital.

“We should have created a public health model rather than a war model in dealing with drugs,” he said. “Whatever I choose to put in this body is my business, not the government’s business.”

And that’s one area in which Stamper would agree with Chong, who sang the praises of his favorite drug to a packed auditorium: “There’s no such thing as pot-fueled rage, is there?” SFBG

See “Students, Drugs, and a Law of Intended Consequences” on page 15.

Dede Wilsey’s whoppers


An aggressive and misleading campaign against Saturday road closures in Golden Gate Park by the Corporation of the Fine Arts Museums spearheaded by its board president, Dede Wilsey appears to be backfiring as the proposal heads for almost certain approval by the Board of Supervisors.

Yet the Healthy Saturdays proposal by Sup. Jake McGoldrick which would close from May 25 to Nov. 25 the same portion of JFK Drive now closed on Sundays, a six-month trial period to study its impacts still needs the signature of Mayor Gavin Newsom, who has not yet taken a position.

And there are rumblings that even if the measure is approved either with Newsom’s signature or an override of his veto Wilsey and her supporters intend to attempt a referendum that would effectively kill the project if they can gather 20,000-plus valid signatures within 30 days. City law requires the targets of referendums to be placed on hold until the vote, which would occur this November.

The proposal got its first hearing April 14, when the Land Use Committee unanimously recommended it be approved by the full board (which will consider the matter April 25). The long and emotional hearing showed sharp divisions between the environmentalists and recreational park users who support closure and the de Young Museum benefactors and park neighbors who oppose it.

It also unmasked the deceptive tactics being employed by Wilsey and museum director John D. Buchanan, who coauthored an April 7 letter to de Young Museum members and April 4 memos to museum trustees and staff urging opposition to Healthy Saturdays and implying the museum’s survival was at stake.

"Closure of JFK Drive on Saturday has twice been voted down by the electorate and has been shown to be unpopular in polls for the last decade. While Sunday closure is a reality, road closures severely compromise access to the museum, particularly for seniors, families, persons with disabilities, and anyone who cannot afford the cost of the parking garage," they wrote. This information was parroted by many who argued against the closure.

Yet the letters were grossly misleading and at least 16 museum members wrote angry letters to the museum protesting the Wilsey-Buchanan position. The Guardian obtained the letters through a Sunshine Ordinance request. One writer called the museum campaign "self-serving and deceptive," while another wrote: "I take issue with undertaking a letter campaign using my donations."

Contrary to what the April 7 letter implies, people with disabilities are allowed to drive on the closed roads, and McGoldrick has now incorporated into the measure all recommendations of the Mayor’s Office of Disability. The letter also never indicates that the closure is temporary, that free parking is available a short walk from the museum, or that the public voted on the proposal just once, albeit on two competing measures that were each narrowly defeated, in November 2000.

At that time, with polls showing public support for the Saturday closure proposed in Measure F, museum patrons tried to scuttle the closure by qualifying a competing Measure G, which would have delayed the Saturday closure until after completion of the parking garage. In the ballot pamphlet, Wilsey, the California Academy of Sciences, and other opponents of Measure F wrote arguments for the ballot handbook promising to support Saturday closure once the garage was completed, as it was last summer.

"The Academy supports the closure of JFK Drive on Saturdays once the efforts of Saturday closure have been studied, alternative transportation measures are in place, and the voter-approved, privately funded parking facility is built under the Music Concourse," one statement read.

At the hearing, McGoldrick asked Wilsey why she is reneging on her promise. Wilsey said that she wrote her statement in 1998 while her husband and dog were still alive, before she had raised $202 million for the museum renovation, and back when "we were not in a war against terrorism. Almost nothing that was true in 1998 is true today."

Wilsey did not respond to our request to clarify her response or explain other aspects of what appears to be a calculated campaign of misinformation. For example, she and other museum spokespeople have been saying publicly that museum attendance on Saturdays is far higher than on Sundays because of the road closure.

When we spoke with museum spokesperson Barbara Traisman, she said the de Young receives 15 to 20 percent more visitors on Saturdays than on Sundays. Yet she refused our request to provide the attendance data to support her statement just as museum officials have ignored requests by McGoldrick for that data for the last three weeks telling us: "That’s too onerous to ask someone to do that."

So on April 13, the Guardian made an immediate disclosure request for those records under the Sunshine Ordinance. The next day, just as the hearing was getting under way, Wilsey turned those records over to McGoldrick.

The documents showed that on 10 of the 23 weekends that the de Young has been open, attendance on Sundays was actually higher than on Saturdays. By the end of the hearing, even committee chair Sup. Sophie Maxwell who had voiced concerns about Saturday closure and was not considered a supporter voted for Healthy Saturdays, joining the board’s progressive majority of six that has already signed on as cosponsors. SFBG


Concrete jungle


THIS WINTER MAY kill Pokey. The HIV-positive 22-year-old lives in a tent in a city park. It’s not the best place for a man with a weakened immune system to dwell — especially not during the rainy season.

“I’ve basically given up,” says Pokey quietly, standing in the gutter of Haight Street near Stanyan.

About a year ago he had a little more hope. He had been clean and sober for six months and had graduated from a live-in drug program run by Walden House. He thought he had beaten his heroin addiction, and he began looking for an apartment. He’s lived on the streets since he was 12.

“I started looking the last three weeks I was [at Walden House],” Pokey says. Social workers and friends helped him look. “I tried day in and day out to get a place and a job. I couldn’t take it. I flipped out. From there I went all the way back down.” He is once again wrestling with heroin.

In his two years in San Francisco, Pokey estimates, he’s looked at between 30 and 40 apartments, with no success. Subsisting on $299 to $490 a month, depending on the whims of Supplemental Security Income administrators, he can’t even afford a room in a residential hotel. The smallest go for $400 to $500 a month, and there aren’t even many of those left; in the past five years the city has lost about 1,000 hotel rooms, most to demolition and renovation.

“How can I use my money on a hotel room when I’m not gonna have any money to eat?” Pokey says. “I’m supposed to eat three times a day, when I take my medicine.”

Less than 10 years ago, in 1989, the city put the number of people homeless on any given night at 6,000. Now that figure is estimated at between 11,000 and 14,000. Over the past decade homeless deaths have climbed from 16 in 1987 to 153 in 1996. A 1996 study by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty ranked San Francisco one of the five worst cities in which to be homeless; the report blamed harassing police practices.

About 3,000 shelter beds are available to San Francisco’s homeless population, including 600 in a giant warehouse on Mission Rock Road in China Basin. The Mission Rock shelter, which clients have dubbed “Prison Rock,” was opened last year in the wake of Mayor Willie Brown’s campaign to kick the homeless out of Golden Gate Park. The shelters are full or over-capacity nearly every night of the year.

“The city does nothing for families. It stands by as the affordable housing stock is destroyed,” says Sandra Stewart, project director of Families Rights and Dignity. Stewart, a mother of three who was once homeless, advocates for poor and homeless families. She says she’s seen a “mass exodus” of low-income families from San Francisco.

“Mabel Teng went on about this being the ‘year of the child’ — well, not for homeless children,” Stewart says. She’s angry that the city vetoed a $75,000 eviction-prevention program for families in a year when it had a $100 million budget surplus. According to Stewart, five years ago families could get emergency shelter on demand. Today the city’s 130 family-shelter beds are full, and the wait list stands at around 100 families. The average family on the list consists of a single parent and two children.

In the nation’s toughest housing market, the help offered by welfare programs isn’t much help at all. As of September 1997, 12,475 San Francisco families received subsidies from CalWORKS, the federally funded welfare program for families; a similar number of adults get General Assistance from the county. A family of three receives $565 a month from CalWORKS; G.A. recipients, including workfare workers, get $279 to $345. In the Bay Area $565 is barely enough to pay for a motel room — with almost nothing left for food and other necessities.

Many of those on the streets are there for want of an affordable apartment. Staffers at Youth Industry, a nonprofit that trains and employs homeless and formerly homeless young people, say that the lack of housing is the hardest problem to solve. The agency provides paid internships to 24 teens and twentysomethings, many of whom put in 40 hours a week only to sleep on the streets. According to Youth Industry managers, “very few” of the young interns have permanent housing.

“More and more of our youth are very — how do I say this? — high functioning,” says Vida Merwin, a youth service coordinator with the nonprofit. “They don’t have drug problems. They can hold a job — they’re proving it here. They have academic aspirations. But they’re forced to rely on [social] services.”

Youth Industry intern Jamie Allsup, 22, has spent most of the last three years on the streets of San Francisco. During his first three months on the job he slept in front of the Youth Industry office, using the arrival of his coworkers as an alarm clock. Since then Allsup has spent half his $800 monthly income on a residential hotel room, sharing a bathroom with 40 other residents. At the end of the month, after he’s paid his shelter, food, and old hospital bills, Allsup has $15 left — not much to put toward a deposit on an apartment. Since the hotel has no cooking facilities, he wastes money eating out every meal. As a single-room-occupancy tenant, Allsup has few guarantees that he’ll retain his room from one month to the next.

Cheeto, a mohawked 21-year-old, works at Pedal Revolution, the Youth Industry bike shop. He’s getting paid to learn to repair cycles, enthusiastically working six days a week and bedding down in parks and parking lots at night. Cheeto refuses to stay in hotels; he’s hoping to save money for an apartment in another city — maybe Oakland. Figures provided by the Department of Human Services show that the vast majority of those who get off the streets do so by leaving San Francisco.

Even in a cheaper market, Cheeto is going to have problems. He has no rental history or landlord references. He jokes about his credit record: “They could go down the street and ask everyone I know if I pay back the money I borrow.

“I don’t have any delusions about living in San Francisco unless I’m living like I am now,” he says. “This place is a playground for the rich.” 

Street fairs and fall festivals


IF YOU’VE been wondering where all the headline acts and theater companies go in that long gloomy stretch before the fall season, take a look at some of the entertainment featured in the following fairs and harvest festivals. Not only do Bay Area late-summer and autumn celebrations provide space for artists, craftpeople and nonprofit organizations to peddle their wares, many feature performers like Maxine Howard, Modern Jazz Quartet, the Asian American Dance Collective and many, many more. In part two of our third annual guide to Bay Area street fairs, we’ve listed TK celebrations from the beginning of August through October. Unless otherwise noted, the fairs — and the entertainment — are free. For more information, or in case you’d like to participate, call the telephone number listed at the end of each festival description.

August 1-2

Nihonmachi Street Fair The streets of Japantown come to life with live entertainment, food booths, arts and crafts and games. Headliners on Saturday include the top-40 group Desire, while Sunday features jazz recording artist Deems Tsutakawa. On both days, Spirit of Polynesia, the Asian American Dance Collective and the Chinatown Lion Dance Collective perform ethnic dances. The event also features Children’s World, with activities and arts and crafts designed especially for two-to 12-year-olds. 11 am-5 pm in Japantown, Post and Buchanan, SF. 922-8700.

Aug 7-???


August 7-9

ACC Craft Fair From custom-made saddles and porcelain lamps to cedarwood desks and ornamental jewelry, this fair highlights the distinctive work of 300 artists from across the nation, including 75 from Northern California. All of the artists are chosen on the basis of integrity of design and excellence of execution, and the show’s organizers say they hope to elevate crafts into a major industry and an important art form. Adults, $4; children under 12 free. Fri., 11 am-8 pm; Sat., 11 am-6 pm; Sun., 11 am-5 pm. Fort Mason Center, Piers 2 and 3, Bay and Laguna, SF. 526-5073.

August 15

Reggae Explosion, ’87 Presented in the style and tradition of Jamaica’s famous annual Sun Splash concert, this event features Haitian art, Caribbean crafts and Jamaican cuisine, as well as dance, poetry, raffles and prizes. Musical artists include the internationally known Don Carlos and his Freedom Fighters Band, Strictly Roots and the sweet steel drums of Val Serrant. $8 in advance; $10 at the door. 1-11 pm, Fort Mason Center, Pier 3. Sponsored by the Western Addition Cultural Center. 921-7976.

August 22-23

Palo Alto Celebrates the Arts Festival Wine tasting and dancing in the streets will bring even more sunshine to Palo Alto’s University Avenue. Wares include high-quality ceramics and pottery ranging from dinnerware and stoneware as well as paintings, prints and one-of-a-kind furniture to decorate and distinguish the home. 10 am-6 pm, University Ave., Palo Alto. Sponsored by the Downtown Palo Alto Arts Fair Committee. 346-4446.

August 22-September 27

The Renaissance Pleasure Fairs A large grove of live oaks provides the setting for spirited pageants and merry parades that attempt to recreate a 16th-century Elizabethan country village. The Northern California Renaissance Fair is an autumn harvest festival, with music and dancing, hearty foods and rare hand-made crafts. Queen Elizabeth and her court are among the more than 1,000 costumed entertainers. Visitors are encouraged to arrive in period dress and join the fun. Adults, $10.50; seniors, $8.50; children under 12 free. Weekends and Labor Day, 10 am-6 pm. Located at the Blackpoint Forest in Novato, Hwy 37 to the Blackpoint exit. Sponsored by the Living History Center. 620-0433.

August 27-30

San Francisco Fair and International Exposition This year’s fair has an international flavor with its theme “San Francisco: Gateway to the Pacific.” San Francisco’s sister cities of Manila, Osaka, Shanghai, Sydney, Taipei and Hong Kong each have their own pavilion, to exhibit the individuality and heritage of each city and country, and highlight San Francisco’s thriving relationship with her sister cities. The fair also features a wine pavilion, a San Francisco history exhibit and, of course, the famous contest program, featuring such past favorites as the “Financial District Strut,” the “Impossible Parking Space Race,” the winners of the Bay Guardian Cartoon Contest and new additions including the “SF Safe Sex Button,” and “Freeways to Nowhere.” Adults, $5; seniors, $3; youth aged 5-15, $2; children under 5, free. Aug. 27th is “Youth Day” (all youth 15 and under admitted free); Aug. 28th is “Senior Day” (seniors admitted for $1.50). 11 am-9 pm, Civic Auditorium, Brooks Hall, Civic Center Plaza, SF. 557-8758.

September 4-6

122nd Annual Scottish Gathering and Games Come join 40,000 Scots for three days of music, dancing, food and contests. Highlights include the Highland Dancing Championships and the Caber Tossing Championship (a caber is a log the size of a telephone pole tossed end-over-end for accuracy). More than 50 clans are expected to set up tents and display their family tartans and coats of arms. Tickets for the Friday night Musical Pageant and Twilight Tattoo are $5 grandstand; $6 box seat, 8 pm, at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Sat. and Sun., adults, $11 one day, $16 both days; youth 11-16, $6 each day; seniors, $5 each day; children under 11, free. Sponsored by the Caledonian Club of San Francisco. 897-4442.

September 5-6

A la Carte, a la Park Here’s your chance to picnic with more than 60 top Bay Area restaurants — De Paula’s, Firehouse Bar-B-Q, Vanessi’s Nob Hill and Hunan, among others — presenting their specialties at special prices to benefit the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s Free-Shakespeare-In-The-Park program. Sample the great cuisines of the world while enjoying a series of classical and jazz performances and samplings from the drama of William Shakespeare. $2.50 voluntary donations encouraged. 11 am-6 pm, in Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow on JFK Drive across from McClaren Lodge, SF. 441-4422.

September 5-7

Concord Fall Fest This fourth annual Labor Day weekend festival, held in Todos Santos Park, features grape stomps, chili cook-offs and a 10K run. Less energetic fairgoers can enjoy an open-air marketplace of arts and crafts, food booths and live music. 10 am-6 pm, Concord (take Willow Pass Road exit from 689). Sponsored by the Concord Chamber of Commerce. 346-4446.

September 5-7

Sausalito Art Festival One of Northern California’s largest outdoor fine arts exhibitions, the 35th annual art festival is held along the beautiful Sausalito waterfront. More than 100 artists and craftsmen from around the world exhibit a total of 4,000 works of art. A variety of non-stop entertainment will be provided, along with 26 international food booths. Festivities begin Friday night, Sept. 4th, with fireworks and a black-tie party. The Breakers to Bay run begins along the Pacific at Fort Cronkhite in Marin at 8:30 am (register by August 18th). Adults, $3; children 6-12, $2; under 6, free. 10 am-6 pm, Bridgeway and Litho, Sausalito. Sponsored by the Sausalito Chamber of Commerce. 332-0505.

September 7

Arts Explosion This Labor Day festival celebrates the end of summer with a bang (fireworks) and launches the fall arts season. Complementing the showcase of outstanding Bay Area musicians and dance companies will be original performance works; “art by the yard” and a sculpture “glue booth” for children of all ages; an “Arts Row” with a variety of opportunities to interact with local arts organizations. Children under 12 free; adults, $1. 11 am-9 pm, Estuary Park on Embarcadero West, Oakl. Sponsored by the Oakland Festival of the Arts. 444-5588.

September 12-13

Russian River Jazz Festival Bring your suntan lotion, beach chairs, blankets and swimsuits, and swing to the sounds of the legendary Nancy Wilson, Maynard Ferguson and High Voltage, the Wayne Shorter Quintet and a host of others. This year, the festival features two stages set at the river’s edge, with a spectacular backdrop of redwood-covered mountains. Food and crafts will also be available. $23 single day; $42 for both days. Located at Midway Beach near Guerneville. (707) 887-1502.

September 12-13

15th Annual San Francisco Blues Festival The oldest ongoing blues festival in the U.S. offers two days of performances by blues greats from around the country, an unmatched view of the Bay and a superb array of New Orleans and Louisiana cuisine. Saturday’s music lineup includes Johnny Winter, Lonnie Brooks and Oakland’s own Maxine Howard, and on Sunday Roomful of Blues, Albert Collins and Memphis Slim play. $10 in advance; $12 at the door; $16 for a special two-day ticket available in advance only. Noon-6 pm at the Great Meadow, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF. 826-6837.

September 13

24th Street Merchants’ Cultural Festival The 24th Street Fair celebrates Latin American Independence as well as creating a community gathering for artists, residents and merchants. Visitors can enjoy Latin American food and arts and crafts with a Latin theme. A plethora of information booths provides literature on community activities and five stages continuous entertainment by local groups. 11 am-6 pm, 24th St. from South Van Ness to Potrero, SF. Sponsored by the Mission Economic and Cultural Association. 826-1401.

September 18-20

30th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival Monterey Jazz Festival swings again, this year featuring more than 25 superstars, including Ray Charles, The Modern Jazz Quartet, B.B. King, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Etta James and Bobby McFerrin. The event also features food and merchandise booths, and the sponsor, MCI Communications, offers visitors the opportunity to call anywhere in the U.S. free of charge. Although the main stage events are sold out, grounds admissions tickets are still available and allow the bearer access to the outdoor Garden Stage and the indoor Nightclub, which host many of the headliners. $15 a day. Fri., 5 pm-midnight; Sat., noon-midnight; Sun., noon-10 pm. 775-2021.

September 19-20

Mill Valley Festival More than 100 artists, selected by a jury, exhibit their wares at this arts-and-crafts fair set in a beautiful redwood grove. Food, continuous on-stage entertainment and activities for children make this one of the premiere fine arts festivals in the country. Voluntary donations requested. 10 am-6 pm, Old Mill Park, Throckmorton and Old Mill, Mill Valley. 381-0525.

September 19-20

Pan-Pacific Exposition Art and Wine Festival This city-wide festival is held on the site of the 1915 World’s Fair. Horse-drawn carriages and vintage cars transport visitors to the glories of bygone days as the festival celebrates the highlights of San Francisco history. Enjoy ragtime music, a historic fashion show and pennyfarthing bicycle races. Several wine gardens offer premium wines from select California vineyards. 10 am-6 pm, Marina Green, Lyon and Marina, across from the Palace of Fine Arts, SF. Sponsored by the San Francisco Council of District Merchants. 346-4446.

September 20

Folsom: Dimension IV! Now in its fourth year, this fair has established itself as the “End of Summer” celebration. Staged on the equinox of 1987, the fair again features the mascot “Megahood,” who breathes fire and smoke over the crowds. Entertainment includes the Folsom All Stars, the Zasu Pitts Memorial Orchestra and Viola Wills. Expect high-energy performances and technological innovations and one of the most diverse display of local artistry and crafts. The fair is a benefit for the San Francisco Aids Emergency fund and the South of Market Community Association. 11 am-7 pm, Folsom between 7th and 12th St., SF. Sponsored by Budweiser Corporation. 863-8579.

September 26-27

The Pacific Coast Fog Fest Visitors to the Pacific coastline are treated to historical and humorous displays at the Fog Fest. Diners may feast on seafood and of course fogcutters are the featured cocktails. Vintage cars, arts, crafts, continuous entertainment and fog-calling contests make this a welcome new Bay Area event. 10 am-6 pm. Located on Palmetto Ave., between Shoreview and Santa Rosa in Pacifica, Hwy 1 to Paloma exit. Sponsored by the City of Pacifica. 346-4446.

October 2-4

Fiesta Italiana A weekend family event, this year’s fair promises to be the “Besta Festa.” The celebration of Italian-American culture features Italian cooking demonstrations, wine tasting and grape stomping. Mayor Dianne Feinstein is scheduled to cut the pasta ribbon to open the ceremonies, Sergio Franchi will headline with two shows a day and the Italian design Ford Concept Car is on display. Fireworks are scheduled for the end of each day. Adults $8; children $1.50; Seniors and disabled $5 (free from noon-6 pm on the 2nd). Noon-midnight, noon-10 pm on Sun. Pier 45, Fisherman’s Wharf, Shed A and C, SF. Sponsors include Pepsi, Ford Motor Co., Budweiser, Sony, Lucky Stores, EFS Savings and the Port of San Francisco. 673-3782.

October 4th

Castro Street Fair Started in the back room of Harvey Milk’s camera store in 1974, this neighborhood fair has become a city-wide event. Musicians, bellydancers and jugglers appear with prom queens, urban cowboys, visitors from outer space and the Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps. A variety of music, comedy acts and more than 200 arts and crafts displays are also scheduled. Castro between Market and 19th, SF. Sponsored by the Castro Street Fair. 346-2640.

October 9-25

Harvest Festival For three weekends, the nation’s largest touring festival of handmade crafts, fine art, music, theater and cooking transforms Brooks Hall into a colorful 19th-century village. The event features bluegrass and country bands, continuous stage entertainment, jugglers, acrobats and wandering minstrels, as well as the hundreds of unique shops that line the walkways. Center Stage headliners include Riders in the Sky, and the famed musical comedians the Brass Band, winners of the top prize at the Edinburgh, Scotland Performing Arts Festival. Adults $5; children 6-11, $2.50; children under 6, free. Fri., noon-10 pm; Sat., 10 am-10 pm; Sun., 10 am-7 pm, Brooks Hall, Civic Center. 974-4000.

October 10-11

Art and All That Jazz on Fillmore A second-year revival in remembrance of Fillmore Street’s heyday of music, known in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s for its hot jazz and blues clubs. Two days to celebrate San Francisco’s jazz roots with fine arts, fine food and fine wine in outdoor cafes. 10 am-6 pm, Fillmore between Post and Clay, SF. Sponsored by the Fillmore Street Merchants’ Association, the Pacific Heights Homeowners’ and Merchants’ Association. 346-4446.

October 11

Montclair Village Fair The winding streets of Montclair Village provide a charming locale for this neighborhood fair, where 50 artisans sell crafts and local schools, business and nonprofit organizations sell food. This year’s fair has a circus theme, with strolling flutists and meandering mimes helping to create a carefree atmosphere. A pancake breakfast kicks things off and is followed by hayrides in Montclair park. 11 am-5 pm, LaSalle at Mountain, Oakl. Sponsored by the Montclair Business Association. 339-1000.

October 17-18

Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival Artists and craftspeople from across the United States display wares in more than 250 booths and all-day entertainment features blue grass to rock-and-roll at this “something for everyone” festival. As you might expect, pumpkin goodies abound and the fair kicks off with two pie-eating contests. Other events include a Pumpkin Festival Run and a pumpkin-carving contest. 10 am-5 pm, Main Street in Downtown Half Moon Bay. Sponsored by the Coastside Chamber of Commerce. 726-5202. *