Purr-suit of happiness: SF SPCA aims to save more lives with its new adoption center


Last year, the SF SPCA assisted with 5,084 cat and dog adoptions. With its new adoption center near Bryant and 16th Streets, which opened June 13, it aims to increase capacity by 20 percent — saving 1,000 more furry lives in the process.

“When our old adoption center opened in 1998, it was the first shelter in the country to house animals in condominium-style rooms instead of cages,” SF SPCA co-president Jason Walthall said in a June press release. The upgraded shelter continues this tradition — and continues to offer dog training classes, volunteer programs for youth, and other community-service activities — but with even more enhancements for the animals. Each glassed-in enclosure features a touch screen pad that provides more information about the pet inside, with an emphasis on personality type (“social butterfly,” “busy bee,” “delicate flower”) over breed — a more efficient way of linking animals with potential new families. 

For dogs, there’s a small indoor park that’s used to make introductions (especially important if the potential new owner already owns a dog — gotta make sure the new pooch gets along with the pack), while the cats, housed in a separate section of the building, get to scamper across SF-themed cat condos. (So far, there’s a Golden Gate Bridge, a Transamerica Pyramid, a cable car, the Sutro Tower, and the SF Giants logo; a Castro Theatre design is in the works.) These improvements make the shelter life more comfortable for the animals — though most dogs only stay two weeks; cats, just slightly longer — but they also help entice visitors.

“We want to make it a fun, happy experience,” says SF SPCA media relations associate Krista Maloney, pointing out that the shelter — which was founded in 1868, has an attached vet hospital (providing free and sliding-scale spay-neuter procedures, among other services), and is a nonprofit funded by donations — competes with pet stores and breeders to place animals in homes. Earlier this year, it joined forces with fellow nonprofit Pets Unlimited, which is located in Pacific Heights, to further its mission: “to save and protect animals, provide care and treatment, advocate for their welfare and enhance the human-animal bond.”

But wait! You’re a San Francisco renter! The words “NO PETS ALLOWED” haunt your nightmares! How can visiting an animal shelter be anything but depressing? SF SPCA’s website has an entire section offering advice for landlords and tenants (one tip: create a “pet resume” to include with your rental application) on the subject of pet-friendly housing. And if the landlord won’t consent to a dog, the SF SPCA just might be able to help out anyway. Coming soon to the new facility: adoptable small mammals, including rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs.

Why I drive a taxi



By Beth Powder

OPINION I left a 17-year career in film to become a taxi driver. I just wanted to be here full time, drive a taxi, and write.

I’ve taken cabs in several cities and countries over the last 20-odd years. When I got here in 1998, it took two hours for a taxi to get to my house on 43rd Avenue. I still never would’ve gotten into anyone’s personal car and paid them for a ride, no matter how hard it was to get a cab sometimes. Not in San Francisco. Not in Jamaica. Not in Jamaica, Queens.

I’m from Toledo, Ohio originally. We always went on road trips. Maybe being in such close proximity to Detroit, some of that car mojo rubbed off on us. My mother is the kind of woman who, at 70 years old, will drive cross-country alone, stopping to call me at 3am from deserted truck stops outside Amarillo, Texas. You might see why I’d drive a taxi.

I have a feeling that a lot of the anti-taxi contingent now in this city haven’t taken too many cabs. Cabs could never put me off because I’d taken so many of them and I knew I was safer in one than standing in a crosswalk. I’ve been hit by cars on foot and on my bike but I’ve never been in an accident in a cab. Not in London. Not in Los Angeles. Not here.

I don’t drive for Lyft or Uber because San Francisco cab drivers receive workers compensation and TNC drivers don’t. Because Lyft mustaches look unprofessional to me. I went to taxi school, got fingerprinted, had a background check, and got licensed.

My taxi has 24/7 commercial livery insurance. My company pays the bills if there’s an accident. San Francisco taxi companies don’t have bylaws stating that passengers cannot hold them liable. San Francisco taxi companies don’t have bylaws stating that passengers take taxis at their own risk. San Francisco taxi companies don’t have bylaws that can be legally interpreted to allow discrimination against passengers of any persuasion. We have to accept pets. And we have to be green.

San Francisco taxis pick up bartenders, sweet old ladies at the hospital who don’t have smart phones, teachers, lawyers, wheelchair users, people of color, San Francisco Giants, former mayor Willie Brown, hookers, trannies, ballerinas, and limo drivers. Everybody. You don’t need a smartphone, but you can always hail a cab using an app called Flywheel.

I’m not a fan of the smugness emanating from Lyft, Uber, et all. Perpetuating spurious claims that cab drivers are all scary or awful is neither cute nor clever. And it certainly isn’t true.

It’s far more likely for a passenger to physically attack a cab driver than the opposite. About a month ago, several men took a cab from my fleet to San Mateo and severely beat up the driver. We have video cameras in every single San Francisco cab, but that still didn’t guarantee this driver’s safety. Nonetheless crime and accidents in taxis are down significantly.

We’re mothers, fathers, grandparents, students, artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs. Cab drivers give companionship, counseling, and safe passage to their passengers.

I want to know how we can have faith in TNCs when drivers aren’t commercially licensed, fully insured, and packing security cameras. How should we feel about droves of these Uber and Lyft phones being shared by multiple drivers, when only one is on record? What happens when a TNC is wrapped around a pole and the driver is held responsibility for their own safety and well-being. These brand new cars won’t be paid off before we start to witness incidents such as this.

How’s a “young mother just trying to make some extra pocket money” going to feel when she has her wages garnished into perpetuity because she rear-ended someone? She’s personally liable with the TNC company. She’s your friend with a car who absorbs all legal responsibility whether she’s found at-fault or not.

As long as there’s a taxi industry, I’ll keep proudly driving my taxi in the city I love. I’ll pick up sweet and not so sweet old ladies, people in wheelchairs, people with dogs, and whomever else needs a ride wherever it is they need to go.

Beth Powder is a cab driver and writer.


Lost and found


FILM Gerald Santana is stoked about his new Vitamix. When we speak, he’s juicing up breakfast for himself and his kids as part of their raw-food diet. “Overall, it gives me better mental clarity, a stronger ability to focus, and all of the things that I really need to get my business together.”

His business includes movies. Lots of movies. The avid film collector is the founder of the Berkeley Underground Film Society, which has for the past two years hosted screenings showcasing gems from Santana’s stash. It’s held in a Gilman Street office space that transforms into a micro-cinema for BUFS gatherings.

Amateur film collecting is a hobby that’s almost as old as cinema itself. “Home viewers [could obtain] 16mm film prints for the first time in the 1930s,” he says. “In that era, people rented whatever was available, say, The Little Rascals from the New York public library, and then have a film party. There’d be, like, the neighborhood cinema guy. If you flash forward 90 years later, we have Craig Baldwin, [filmmaker and Other Cinema curator], who is pretty much that same guy.”

Santana and the Artists’ Television Access staple met years ago through an online forum for 16mm enthusiasts, when Santana contacted Baldwin about purchasing a film. Today, Santana considers Baldwin his mentor. “He’s passed on a lot of film history to me,” Santana says. “We meet several times a year, and he gives me a personal screening of films that are on the way out of his archive, and into mine. That’s one way I started collecting.”

Once Santana started acquiring films, he was hooked. “You start with buying one or two, and then suddenly you have 100. Then you have 1,000. And some people go much, much higher.” (Santana estimates he owns “probably 3,000.”)

He started a blog in late 2010, hoping to connect with other Bay Area collectors. “Lost and Out of Print,” the name of BUFS’ screening series, is an apt description of the works he favors. “These are obscure anomalies from eras gone by. Once I started building up my collection, I started realizing how many films are just not available. I need to preserve these, because sometimes I might have the only print in the state. Sometimes, I might have the only copy. So I went from hobbyist, to collector, to archivist, to preservationist.”

Santana, who grew up in Los Angeles, has a background in video media, but he was always drawn to celluloid — a fascination that flourished once he moved to the Bay Area. “When I came up here, I found Super 8 films at thrift stores, and I wanted to try to project them. And then I wanted to know everything about film history, film stocks, projectors, and all these other things that make movies go.”

The film club seemed a logical progression once his collection was ready for an audience. “When I started BUFS” — he pronounces it buffs, as in film buffs — “it was just me, seeing if anyone else was interested. And I had to wait until I had titles that were difficult to find, or that I thought were important, and that seemed to work if you grouped them together. That’s when I learned that programming is an art,” he recalls.

His collection includes silent films, home movies, B movies, made-for-TV movies, educational and industrial films, cartoons, and classic Hollywood films that aren’t available on DVD. There are also foreign films that never made it into US theaters — like 1972’s Godzilla vs. Gigan, which he’s showing in 16mm July 18 — in their original, uncut forms. (Other BUFS screenings this month are July 19 archival shorts program “Cartoon Carnival #5: Kids and Pets,” and a July 20 showing of Charlie Chaplin’s 1921 The Kid.)

One bump in the BUFS road: Earlier this year, a licensing agency contacted him after he screened some Woody Allen movies without first obtaining the rights to do so. Not wanting to have to pay any high fees — or, you know, break any laws — Santana will be steering his future programming toward works in the public domain.

“I had to backpedal a little bit. I didn’t think anyone even cared,” he admits. He put BUFS on hiatus in April to regroup. “I had to reduce the number of screenings I did, down to one weekend of programming a month. But that way I can just jam-pack that weekend with as much material as possible. And there’s a lot of great stuff coming up — it’s the best stuff I have. I don’t want to screen mainstream movies anymore.”

BUFS fans will also soon be able to experience Santana’s other passion: healthy, homemade food. “I’m going to offer incredible raw food, organic concessions, and cottage foods,” he says; it’s a small business venture he hopes to expand beyond his concession stand. “When we tested it, people responded very positively. During the [BUFS hiatus], I worked on my recipes, I got the Vitamix, and I’m ready to go. I’m excited for the July screenings.” *


July 18-20, 7:30pm, donations accepted


708 Gilman, Berk

The Selector June 11-17, 2014



Luke Sweeney

“Miss Me?” Luke Sweeney asks in the lead track from his forthcoming album Adventure:Us, and in response I’d probably deny, avoid eye contact, but then demurely say, “Um…maybe a li’l bit.” Truth be told I’ve been quite won over by the album, maybe because of the apparent shared affectation for Mark Bolan’s swinging shuffle, George Harrison’s weepsy guitar, Jeff Tweedy’s pop twang, and a little bit of Question Mark and the Mysterians mysterious…something or other. Now Sweeney is returning to SF from a California tour with a homecoming show at Monarch (of all places.) Luke, please don’t leave us like that again. (Ryan Prendiville)

With Farallons, Tidelands

9pm, $5 – $8


101 6th St, SF

(415) 284-9774




Guided By Voices

Guided By Voices’ Robert Pollard is one of the most insanely prolific songwriters in rock history. Since its inception in 1983 in Dayton, Ohio, Guided By Voices has released 22 studio albums, 17 EPs, and 39 singles. Each of these records contains around 20 songs, most hovering around the one-minute mark. Within these little vignettes of genius (read: insanity) Pollard explores surrealist narratives, charmingly compact and catchy melodies, and genuine emotional impact. 30 years into their career, GBV play hard, drink hard, and make much younger rockers look washed-up and tame. The band also rarely tours, so don’t miss tonight’s show. There’s no knowing what they’ll play, but it’s going to be a night to remember. (Haley Zaremba)

With Bobby Bare, Jr.

8pm, $38

Regency Ballroom

1300 Van Ness, SF




San Francisco Black Film Festival

At a time when cultural landmarks like Marcus Books are being evicted from the historic Fillmore district, this festival, which celebrates African-American contributions to cinema, might strike a more poignant tone than ever before. Now in its 16th year, the three-day fest aims to present films that “reinforce positive images and dispel negative stereotypes” and connect Black filmmakers from around the Bay Area and beyond. This opening evening features the Life of King, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as Eugene Brown, who turned his life around after 18 years in prison, funneling his passion for chess into a way to help inner-city youth in Washington, D.C. (Emma Silvers)

Through Sun/15

Prices and showtimes vary, see website for details

Jazz Heritage Center

1320 Fillmore, SF





Alice Glass

Alice Glass is one of the most dynamic frontpeople in the music industry. Half of Toronto’s infamous electro-duo Crystal Castles, Glass’ clear, piercing voice and fiercely frenetic stage presence make her a stunning vocalist and onstage force of nature. Hard-partying and un-compromising, Glass is a born performer, commanding arenas and collecting a following of cult-like fans with ease. Since she ran away at 14 to join a punk squat, fronting an all-girl crust-punk band called Fetus Fatale, Glass has been making a name for herself as a skilled musician and magnetic personality. Combining punk and hardcore aesthetics with harshly catchy electronics, Glass’ music is a unique concoction that will make you dance your ass off. (Zaremba)

With Sad Andy, 28 Mansions, We Are Isis (side room)

10pm, $17.50

1015 Folsom, SF

(415) 431-1200




Hayes Carll & Bob Schneider

“The World’s Greatest Living Songwriters of All Time” is a pretty cocky name for a tour, but this team delivers. Both singer-songwriters from the state of Texas, Carll and Schneider are performing together for the first time in their careers. Carll, from just outside of Houston, has been lauded as a modern songwriting heavyweight among the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Ray Wylie Hubbard. Carl’s songs sound timeless, although his content speaks to a modern world. Bob Schneider has been making music in Austin for decades with various bands: Joe Rockhead, the Scabs, Ugly Americans. Schneider’s output reaches across pop, rock, folk, and country, while his uncensored songwriting has some labeling his music “adult alternative.” This is a show songwriters can’t miss.

8pm, $21

859 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750




#MyGreatCat Pop-Up Photo Gallery

You’d be lying if you said you’ve never been victim of the Internet black hole dedicated to cats. There’s no denying that the world wide web is the best thing to have happened to our pets. Take a look at the @Cats_of_Instagram account and you’ll find 1.4 million people who are just like you! From the silly to the cuddly to the serious, these fuzzy fellows have a wide range of adorable emotions, which is why @Cats_of_Instagram are hosting a pop-up photo gallery in the middle of Union Square for your viewing pleasure. “What’s so great about a cat” is the theme of the exhibition. Last month, Instagram users were encouraged to post photos and the hashtag #MyGreatCat for a chance to be part of the exhibit. Photos by teenage pet photographer Jessica Trinh will also be on display and the founders of @Cats_of_Instagram will be at the event too. Cat lovers unite for a heart-warming night that (you’ve been warned) may leave you melted into a pile of goo. (Laura B. Childs)

11am-7pm, free

Union Square, SF




Queer Women of Color Film Festival

Now in its tenth year, the Queer Women of Color Film Festival kicks off Pride Month with 32 short films, all of which are captioned for the benefit of deaf and hearing-impaired audience members — a presentation choice that reflects the festival’s quest to empower (and entertain) its diverse community. Standout programs include the doc-heavy “Seeds of Resistance,” spotlighting themes of cultivation and community organizing; “Girl Power!,” with films celebrating the younger generation; and a panel discussion with queer cinema pioneers Cheryl Dunye and Madeleine Lim on “the art and transformative power of film.” (Cheryl Eddy)

Starts Fri/13, through Sun/15, free ($5-$10 suggested donation)

Brava Theater Center

2789 24th St, SF




Commercially, the Roland TB-303 was discontinued in ’84. Should have been obsolete, but when a trio from Chicago got their hands on the bass synthesizer the next year, they discovered something else: the sound of the future. On Phuture’s seminal “Acid Tracks” the overdriven sound that gave birth to acid house is unmistakable. Perhaps feeling the impact of their legacy on music more than ever, original members DJ Pierre and Spanky (along with Lothario “Rio” Lee) are prepping a new album and performing together again, on a tour that brings them from a recent gig at the Sydney Opera House to Sunset’s annual picturesque bayside “electronic music picnic.” (Ryan Prendiville)

With Kyle Hall, Beautiful Swimmers, Awesome Tapes from Africa, J-Boogie, Galen, Solar, J-Bird

Noon-9:30pm, $20 – $30

Great Lawn, Treasure Island




Buzz Osborne

Having earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the heaviest purveyors of down-tuned, sludgy rock as the leader of The Melvins, Buzz Osborne likely turned some heads when he announced he was putting out an acoustic album. That release, This Machine Kills Artists (Ipecac Recordings), which hit stores earlier this month, isn’t as much of a departure as one might think, however — songs like “Dark Brown Teeth” aren’t fluffy folk, they’re still vintage Osborne. When Nirvana thanked him at their Rock N Roll Hall of Fame induction, it was for good reason; he helped shape the sound that defined hard rock in the early ’90s, and he continues to do so today. (Sean McCourt)

8pm, $15

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750



Tupac Birthday Celebration

Tupac Shakur lives on — in holograms, in our hearts, and tonight, at the Elbo Room. In honor of what would have been the late rapper’s 43rd birthday, the club is hosting a birthday party featuring the music of Tupac and other special guests, hosted by Bay Area rapper/activist/event producer Sellassie. Enjoy the moving and eloquent music Shakur left behind and celebrate the impact he still has on hip-hop and culture today. (Childs)

9pm, $5

Elbo Room

647 Valencia, SF

(415) 552-7788



Yann Tiersen

Yann Tiersen wants you to know that he is more than just composer of film soundtracks. Perhaps best known for his musical score for the french film Amélie, the Breton musician’s passion lies in touring and recording studio albums. His music just happens to fit seamlessly into films. Though renowned in France for his studio albums, Tiersen remains mostly known as the guy who created the magical accordion and piano driven tunes that fuel Amélie’s imaginative adventures. However, tonight at the Regency Ballroom, Tiersen will play from his own albums, his most recent, “Ï” (aka Infinity) in particular. Those expecting a classical performance will be sorely disappointed. Heavily influenced by punk music, Tiersen’s minimalist tracks range from noisy to melancholic with his five-piece band. The musical influence of each of his nine album varies greatly, but his musical style simple and recognizable. With each album, he shows a new facet to his talent, proving that he is so much more than an orchestral composer. (Childs)

8pm, $25

Regency Ballroom

1290 Sutter, SF

(415) 673-5716

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Synthesizers, saxophones, and one African grey parrot: The Other Minds music festival is a magnet for the avant-garde


By Micah Dubreuil

When Charles Amirkhanian was 5 years old, he received a John Cage record as a gift from his father. It was a mistake — the elder Amirkhanian had taken it to be an album of traditional Armenian music, their cultural heritage. Instead, young Charles was introduced to a sound that was anything but traditional, and in that music for prepared piano, he found a life’s calling. Some 60-odd years later, the director of the Other Minds festival — the West Coast’s premiere experimental music event, now in its 19th incarnation — points to that accident as a fairly fortuitous one.

Music is everywhere. Not just in the headphones mashed in every pocket, but in the sounds and systems of the world around us, from raindrops and birdcalls to trains and electronic circuits. That might, at first, sound overly lofty — but this concept has been a driving force for, among other things, hip-hop, arguably the dominant form of popular music over the last few decades. The impulse to investigate these sounds in unconventional and inventive ways has been equally significant in what’s usually called avant-garde, experimental, or simply “new” music. Other Minds 19 will celebrate this music Feb. 28 and March 1, when the festival takes over the SFJAZZ Center for the first time. Nine composers, all with ties to Northern California, will present works that aim to explore and reveal the world of sound through a variety of mediums, including wildly futuristic synthesizers, saxophones of unusual proportion, and one African grey parrot.

Of course, as more mainstream music has evolved over the course of the past two decades, so has the meaning of “avant-garde,” says Amirkhanian; much of what was once considered radical has become ubiquitous. “Now that everybody has the ability to use GarageBand, and can take a sample of something and turn it into a hi-hat cymbal, I don’t know if [needing to introduce avant-garde] is really a problem anymore,” he says. While some pieces in the festival could be seen as quite challenging, the goal is “to surprise people pleasantly rather than violently” with what Amirkhanian calls “revealationary” as opposed than “revolutionary” new music.
wendy reid
Wendy Reid, with Lulu

Composer Wendy Reid, a lecturer at Mills College in Oakland, has always been fascinated by natural processes and the beauty of bird song. She takes a direct route to revealing these sounds: She writes and performs with Lulu, an African grey parrot.

“I love birds,” says Reid simply. “They’re the greatest musicians that we have.” African grey parrots, in particular, are considered by many to be the most intelligent birds in the world. They can live more than 50 years, and have been known to carry out conversations with humans (not in the wild, presumably). Reid has always had birds as pets, or “family members,” as she likes to think of them. She records the birds’ songs, improvises along to the recordings, and composes bird-like sounds in order to engage Lulu, who responds as she feels fit.

Lulu is, to be sure, not a trained musician. She does not have notated parts or learned responses, and Reid stresses that this is “not a circus act” — to train or direct Lulu would compromise the natural musical responses that Reid finds so fascinating. “I let [the birds] be who they are; they are their best that way. People are their best that way, too.”

The festival is named, in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek manner, after an obituary of John Cage, wherein the author dismissively wrote that Cage “[merely] created music in other people’s minds.” (If you’ve heard of any avant-garde composer, you’ve heard of Cage. Philip Glass might be a close second, and he performed at the first Other Minds in 1993). Cage’s wide-ranging musical interests set a precedent that persists through this program. From Mark Applebaum’s sound sculptures, to Charles Celeste Hutchins’ live-generated digital projections (produced by self-developed software), to Myra Melford’s solo piano performance (seemingly old-fashioned in this context, though it will sound nothing of the sort), the festival’s intentionally non-thematic lineup covers an enormous variety of work. If ours are the “other minds” in question, they will be kept quite busy.

roscoe mitchell
Roscoe Mitchell

Widely referred to as an “American iconoclast,” living saxophone legend and prolific composer Roscoe Mitchell will present his composition Nonaah, arranged for four bass saxophones. If you’ve never heard or seen a bass saxophone, you’re not alone: it’s a rarely used instrument, larger then the more common baritone sax and with a deeper range, a full octave below the tenor. “One of the aspects of music that engages me is the sound, and the desire to know how all music works,” Mitchell says of his penchant for performing on unusual woodwinds. Nonaah itself is a composition that dates back to 1976, when Mitchell performed it on solo alto saxophone for an initially skeptical crowd in Europe. He thoroughly won the room, and has been exploring the piece ever since.

“When I first imagined this work for alto saxophone, I had no idea that this composition would take on a life of its own,” Mitchell says. After arranging the piece for alto sax quartet, he went on to write a completely notated version for four cellos, followed by flute, bassoon and piano, chamber orchestra, orchestra, and now bass saxophone quartet. Multiple doctoral theses have been written on Nonaah, and Mitchell is currently planning on writing a book about it. “For me it’s a kind of musical journey — it starts out a piece for alto saxophone, and now it’s a piece for full orchestra.” [See a video of Mitchell performing at a recent Exploratorium series below.]
Mitchell’s is not the only journey that leads to Other Minds 19. The festival’s line-up includes Donald Buchla, a prolific creator and founding father of sound synthesis who will be presenting the U.S. premiere of his composition Drop by Drop, as well as Joseph Byrd, one of the earliest adopters of synthesizers in rock ‘n’ roll. The entire program, in fact, is filled with either giants of the field or emerging stars.
don buchla
Don Buchla

Yes, there will also be animals, instruments you’ve never seen before, and electronic controllers that may well remind you more of Star Trek than a concert hall. But, as Wendy Reid says, this is not a circus act: These are composers and improvisers pushing the boundaries of serious music.  “There’s a thirst among maybe 2 percent of the population to hear this music,” says Amirkhanian, but the people in this dedicated group hail from every corner of the globe — and, as young Charles personally discovered, from every demographic.

Other Minds 19
Fri/28 – Sat/1, 7pm discussion and 8pm concert both nights
$25 – $65
SFJazz Center
201 Franklin, SF

Hairy dilemma


It used to be rare to see dogs in restaurants — which many people see as gross and the health codes don’t allow — but not anymore. It’s an increasingly common sight to see dogs in Bay Area restaurants, grocery stores, bars, and others businesses that traditionally haven’t allowed them.

Call it part of our love affair with canines, a loophole in medical privacy laws that stymies inquiries into whether Fido is a service dog needed for some ailment, or a manifestation of some people’s entitlement issues, but more and more pet owners see no problem with bringing their dogs to the dinner or lunch table.

Some have even angrily defended their supposed right to do so when confronted.

The city estimates there are about 120,000 dogs living in San Francisco, which equates to almost one dog per seven people. Sometimes it seems like even more than that given how omnipresent dogs seem to be, popping in places that used to be off-limits to them, such as restaurants.

Some people now see restaurants as dog-friendly zones, but they’re not, and for good reason. Due to public health concerns, dogs are banned by federal law from any establishment that serves or handles food.

The lone caveat to that rule is provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and it allows those who need service dogs to have them at all times, overriding the aforementioned policy established by the US Food and Drug Administration. The existence of the caveat isn’t really a problem — service dogs are necessary, helpful, and are highly trained animals — but the loophole it provides is.

That loophole allows regular, untrained folks to take regular, untrained dogs into restaurants under the guise of service.

“Under those provisions, restaurants are somewhat limited in that they can’t be too forceful in their line of questioning,” said Angelica Pappas, communications manager at the California Restaurants Association (CRA). “So I think that some people who want to bring their dogs know that and might think that they can get around the law that way.”

And in San Francisco, the trend is particularly pronounced, creating a problem for those who work in restaurants.

“The most obvious issue you see [when a dog is in a restaurant] is cross contamination,” said Terrence Hong, senior environmental inspector with the San Francisco Department of Public Health. “A food handler might pet a cute dog, for instance, where service dog handlers go through training themselves and are more prepared for that situation.”

Food can be contaminated with fecal bacteria — something many dogs just love to roll around in — in addition to just the unsightly hairs ending up in people’s meals. The US Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in six people (about 48 million) are sickened by food-borne illness each year. Of those, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die, according to the CDC’s last comprehensive study of the issue in 2011.

“Safety, too, is an issue,” Pappas said. “There’s no guarantee that all these dogs are well-trained and even having them on a patio is really no different than having them inside when it comes to that.”

Florida became the first state to allow non-service dogs in outdoors seating areas in restaurants in 2006, and California had followed the lead of the Sunshine State by 2012.

“But the application of those laws is far more difficult than the black and white on a piece of paper,” Hong says.

The ADA — the same law that allows service dogs to enter restaurants— is proving to be one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to identifying the fakes. The language in the ADA states that anyone entering a business with a dog claiming to be a service animal can be asked only two questions: Is the dog a service dog? What task is it trained to do for you?

Business owners can’t ask a person in question for identification, because no federally or municipally approved uniform identifier exists, according to Hong. They can’t ask what a customer’s ailment is, because that question violates a privacy clause in the ADA.



While the restaurants are being unlawfully infiltrated, other areas around the city are experiencing atypical levels of canine traffic as well.

Buses? Sure, why not. As long as your dog has a muzzle, it can legally take part in the herkiest, jerkiest, most claustrophobic ride available in the Muni playground, at least according to the unbothered gentleman with his dog on the 47-Van Ness bus on a recent Saturday.

Cabs? Hop on in, Rover. The mall? Every dog could use an afternoon at Michael Kors. Grocery stores? Screw the food handling laws, dogs gotta eat too.

And if someone gets in the way of you and your pet canine’s umbilical relationship? Just claim it’s a service dog. Sure, it’s considered a federal offense to misrepresent your pet as a service animal, but you can order a super-official looking vest off the Internet easier than you can order a book off of Amazon. The malfeasance is also nearly impossible to report.

Thus, the misrepresentation of service dogs is a rapidly growing problem, and one that seems to be trivialized by a large number of people.

Unfortunately for those who need legitimate service dogs, Hong said the general public has offered little opposition to the fakes. He said that there is no exact figure for dog-related complaints, because they don’t consolidate them, but he also noted that many people are reluctant to speak out against the malfeasant service dog owners.

Whether it’s because they think the business owners will handle the complaint (they won’t, according to the CRA) or if they are just privately, rather than publicly, opposed to the trend (which Hong had said he thinks people are), it still leaves the owners of real service dogs in a tough place.

“We’ve been affected many times by fake service dogs,” said Wallis Brozman, service dog owner from Corporate Advancement Assistant for Canine Companions for Independence, a service dog training academy located in Santa Rosa. “It’s happened to us everywhere, we’ve been attacked right outside of restaurants. We’ve been denied service at restaurants, denied service at hotels.”

Brozman says that she has been denied service at those institutions expressly because of the bad name that poorly trained service dogs have given to the whole industry.

But Brozman needs her dog. She uses a manual wheelchair full-time due to a condition called dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that causes extremely painful and involuntary muscle contractions. Even with her condition, she says that she has been made to pay pet deposits in hotels, even though her dog isn’t even classified as a “pet” by the ADA.

And Caspin, Brozman’s dog, is definitely not a pet. He understands both Sign Language and English, making him a bilingual dog (and more linguistically savvy than this writer). He’s been trained to stay calm in loud, obnoxious public settings. He can pick up anything Brozman might drop. He’s a talented dog, but he’s no pet.



According to the California Penal Code Section 365.5, a “service dog means any dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, minimal protection work, rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.”

Service dogs not only provide assistance when necessary, but they provide their handlers with a sense of autonomy that they can’t achieve through other means. That’s why service dogs were included in ADA of 1990.

It was a huge victory for the people that really need service dogs, like Brozman, for instance, or war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. One of the prescribed treatments for PTSD victims happens to be the presence of a service dog.

“It can cost us $5,000 to train these dogs for veterans,” said Robert Misseri, president of a service dog training organization called Guardians of Rescue. “Poorly behaved dogs make things more difficult for the vets who need our dogs.”

But the benefits of owning a service dog can be voided in a hurry if the dog encounters another dog without the same composure, training, and restraint.

“Our graduates have been bitten by dogs in public, provoked, and mistreated by other dogs,” said Angie Schact, an instructor at Canine Companions for Independence, a program that requires a minimum six-month program for their graduates. “They have gone through so much more training than the average dog. We’ve raised the issue with the Department of Justice. We’re serious.”

But when the ADA was originally drafted, according to Paul Bowskill, general manager of, it “provided for very few mental disabilities. Most of the qualifying disabilities at the time were physical and [visible].”

After the ADA was passed, guidelines were expanded to include mental illness and seizure risk, in addition to physical ailment, so visual cues became far less notable.

“You can’t tell if someone needs a service dog now,” said Bowskill. “The law was written so you can train your own service dog, and by law, you don’t need an ID.” And as we, as a culture, become even more accustomed to steady streams of “Sure you can!” responses and discomfort demolishing inventions, our reluctance to leave pets behind is only trending upwards.

But for service dog owners just trying to lead an autonomous existence and those patrons simply tired of seeing dogs in places previously forbidden, it’s a scary thought. “Sometimes, [people] just assume that my service dog is a fake,” said Brozman. “I explain to people again and again, and I show them that my dog is perfectly trained and there to help me, yet people still stigmatize us.”

Teen dream machine


YEAR IN TOFU AND WHISKEY Call it the Rookie Magazine trickle-down effect: Teen girl rockers ruled the world in 2013. Granted, some 20-somethings were in there too. But still, these young and fierce ladies — celebrated on either Rookie’s more polished site or eye-popping Tumblrs of a similar demographic — were the artists to take notice of this year.

The young majors of 2013 were 17-year-old New Zealander Lorde and Los Angeles sister trio Haim, all in their early 20s. There were also female rappers and soul singers, like Cameroon-raised Lorine Chia (20), and Brooklyn-based Angel Haze (22). Locally, there was teen surf pop quartet the She’s. On a smaller scale, there are emerging acts like Sacramento’s sister duo Dog Party, which, at ages 14 and 17, released its biggest record to date on Asian Man Records this August.

Rookie is the web magazine for young girls that looks more to the Sassy archetype than Seventeen, but so far beyond those bounds that it’s almost ludicrous to compare the two. Started in 2011 by now-iconic mini fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson, the website blends style, feminism, and culture into a Nylon-esque vision of rude glamour. More so, it’s become a casual, glittery hit-maker, simply by nature of showcasing exciting new talent early in the game, often before it’s been hungrily shredded by the widespread blogger industrial complex.

Musicians are featured in gushy profiles, or longer Q&As, often with more personalized questions than are found on standard music blogs. An early Rookie writeup on Lorde reviewed her full-length record Pure Heroine (Universal Music Group) in a typically conversational tone: “I first heard Lorde, when I was in the parking lot of a Target one night. It was 10:50pm and I was in the car by myself, listening to the radio; I had just been going through a breakup and was in an awful state of mind. Suddenly this song came on with a simple beat and this AMAZING voice that made me sit up straight and turn on Shazam, which told me it was Lorde’s song ‘Royals.'”

Can’t you too remember such a time? An moment in a youthful life, alone in your car or next to the stereo in your room, the disappointments of a confusing day rushing through your mind, and then the moment a song transformed that hurt into pure joy? It might not have been a pop song, but it certainly could have been.

Thanks to the thrill of that paradoxically anti-consumerist pop song “Royals,” Lorde (née Ella Yelich-O’Connor) was undoubtedly the biggest of the aforementioned bunch of teen girls who made it big in 2013. She became a bona fide pop star in black lipstick and a poof of untamed, grungy curls. And while her look and style are certainly endlessly dissected, she came to the pop charts when there was a specific need for her new breed of mainstream-yet-still-underground-enough-to-be-weirdish sound.

In her recent essay on Lorde and others of her ilk, NPR writer Ann Powers poetically described Lorde’s step away from pop stars of the tongue-out, twerked-out Miley variety we also suffered through in 2013: “Lorde is a phenomenon because of perfect timing. She came along just when listeners were craving what ‘Royals’ famously advocates: a different kind of buzz. After a few months as the new find of early musical adopters, this droll chanteuse became notorious for suggesting that some kids might prefer to stand apart from pop’s endless party.”

Angel Haze was another standout — a stunning, pansexual, artistically rare rapper who took Macklemore’s “Same Love,” and gave it meaning, singing of her own (real) struggles with sexuality. The young artist’s debut full-length, Dirty Gold, doesn’t even see release until January 2014, but her covers (she also took on Eminem’s “Cleanin’ Out My Closet”) made her a name to know in 2013.

Haze was featured on Rookie, as was soul singer Lorine Chia. A performer with a silky voice and tropical beats, Chia released an EP, Naked Truths (Make Millions Music), in October and frequently Tumbls her fascinating life and favorite musical finds. Like other young females who made their mark this year, she seems worlds apart from the sleek pop stars of yore, still enthralling but somehow approachable.

And then there was Haim, the crunchy, LA-based sister trio that hit it big with September-released Days Are Gone (Polydor Records, Columbia Records). The album went silver, selling nearly 90,000 copies stateside, which is big news in these unwieldy music industry days.

But apart from the pop and hip-hop charts, teen girls were also making waves in smaller local scenes. Case in point: The She’s. The talented, breezy-surf pop quartet started off the year playing Noise Pop and were on the cover of the Guardian, posed as a group to watch in 2013.

A few months later, there they were: life-sized on bus-stop posters plastered around downtown as part of that big Converse campaign that overran the city’s music scene this summer (not that we had anything to do with the leap). The She’s recorded a track for Converse’s Rubber Tracks popup station at Different Fur Studios, and also played a ton of shows throughout the year. Oh, and the SF natives all just graduated from high school.

As for Sacramento’s burgeoning Dog Party, the sister duo is still navigating those studious halls of yore. Singer-guitarist Gwendolyn Giles is a senior in high school, and drummer Lucy Giles is a 14-year-old sophomore. They started playing together at ages 9 and 6.

“Before [guitar] I played the flute, but that wasn’t for very long because I like guitar,” Gwendolyn tells me from their Sacramento home. “The flute made me dizzy. Also when I was in fourth grade, American Idiot came out and I was obsessed with Green Day.”

Lucy pipes up with her earliest inclination that she wanted to play rock’n’roll: “I was really into the White Stripes when I was in third grade. I like Meg White and so I just kind of decided I wanted to play the drums.”

Her dad picked up a drum set at a garage sale, and the girls soon began lessons, and then started writing songs — with angsty lyrics about worrisome BFFs and the like, and stories that were mostly autobiographical. In 2013, the Giles sisters released their third full-length, bratty pop-punk record Lost Control, on Mike Park’s legendary Asian Man Records. It stands with the Donnas, the Bangs, and a mix of other fun party punk acts before them.

Ty Segall tops their mutual list of favorite new (or new-to-them) acts of 2013, followed by the Descendents, the Babies, fellow SacTown locals Pets, and most of the Burger Records roster.

“My sister and I really love Ty Segall,” Gwendolyn gushes of the prolific rocker. “He’s amazing … my favorite artist of all time.”

Dog Party went on a full US tour with Kepi Ghoulie (of ’80s band Groovie Ghoulies) and just last week played with the Aquabats at Slim’s. Next up, they’ll play the Gilman Fri/20.

As with other female artists this year (and for the past decade), Dog Party has had to deal with web trolls intent on breaking them down.

“Now that we’ve gained a little bit of popularity, there have been some nasty things written about us on the Internet,” Lucy says. “But that doesn’t really affect us. We don’t like to listen to what they say because we don’t really care.”

While the Giles sisters hadn’t known about Rookie before they were featured on the site, they’ve heard a lot of feedback since the post, which urged readers to “stream the new album by our (and probably your) new favorite band.”

“We got a lot of attention from Rookie,” Gwendolyn says. “People have come up to us and been like ‘Hey, I heard about you from Rookie!’ It’s pretty cool.”

“Our social media sites had a pretty big boost off that article,” adds Lucy. 


Tofu and Whiskey’s top records (and sandwiches) of 2013

1. Weird Sister, Joanna Gruesome

2. In Dark Denim, Antwon

3. It’s Alive, La Luz

4. Run Fast, The Julie Ruin

5. Ionika, Metal Mother

6. Ride Your Heart, Bleached

7. Self-titled, Golden Grrrls

8. Mama’s Hummus sandwich, Bi-Rite

9. Tofu Banh Mi, Hella Vegan Eats

10. Vegan Reuben, Ike’s

Last stand at the Bulb


As the squatter residents of Albany Bulb make one final push against being evicted from their home in a former landfill, the city of Albany is pushing forward with its plan to change the untamed space into a waterfront state park (see “Battle of the bulb,” Sept. 24).

The first signs of the transition came on Nov. 22, when a temporary shelter was set up for residents whose camps would be cleared. The shelter came after a disappointing week in court left the 50 to 60 residents of the Bulb without the stay-away order their advocates had sought, which they intended to use to keep the city and police at bay during the winter.

On Nov. 18, the residents and their attorneys received word that the stay-away order was denied by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer. After the decision and an Albany City Council meeting later that evening, campers and area activists set up a permanent settlement against the eviction after marching through the streets of Albany.

Barricades made of rocks were set up at the Bulb to resist police getting into the camps. However, the rain that followed for a few nights inhibited their efforts, according to activists involved in the action. And the police, using a backhoe, destroyed the rock barricades. The city of Albany, according to a press release, is calling the transition “ACT” which includes, “Assistance to homeless, including housing-centered outreach, transitional services, support, and shelter; Cleanup and maintenance of the Bulb; and Transfer of the Bulb to McLaughlin Eastshore State Park.” “As part of the City Council’s Strategic Planning Process conducted in 2012, the City Council identified key goals for the City,” Albany City Clerk Nicole Almaguer wrote in an email to the Guardian. “One of which is to ‘Maximize Park and Open Space’ including developing a plan to transition the Bulb into Eastshore State Park, and to improve accessibility for general public use of all of the Albany Bulb as a waterfront park.” Almaguer stated that part of the plan included a temporary shelter and support services, which started this summer and is headed by Berkeley Food and Housing Project. The BFHP also provides case management for the Albany campers interested in securing housing outside of the Bulb.

While the city has provided a housing subsidy program to help Bulb residents with rent, a portion of it will also need to be covered by the tenant. Many of the Bulb residents are only supported through government programs such as SSI, and cannot afford housing costs.

In addition, most residents, and their attorney Osha Neumann, who is also a longtime contributor to art at the Bulb, say that the city does not have any affordable housing in which the residents can transition into. Managed by Operation Dignity, a nonprofit designed to help homeless veterans, the transitional shelter is set up by Golden Gate Fields racetrack near the entryway into the Bulb.

“I was out… talking to people and was overwhelmed by the fragility and vulnerability of many of them, as well as their strengths,” Neumann said of the residents in an email to the Guardian. “The portables are awful. You look at the Bulb and all the life and beauty that’s out there, and then you look at those anonymous utilitarian boxes, and really you expect it all to be stuffed into those containers? 22 men in one, eight women in the other? It’s all really appalling.” According to the shelter’s posted rules, the doors for the shelter open at 5:30pm and close at 8:30am. Showers may be taken 8:30-9:30pm, and breakfast is served 7-8am. The sexes are separated, and pets must stay in kennels outside of the shelter. There are also no “in and out privileges” and if a person doesn’t return by 8pm they are not admitted into the shelter. No one stayed in the shelter the first three nights it was available, according to city reports. Amber Lynn Whitson, a Bulb resident, said that access to the shelter is difficult for people, and doesn’t address the need for people with disabilities to access a bed during the day. “At least two individuals were turned away at the door to the shelter, due to their names not being on ‘the list’, she said in an email. “Both were told that they could stay in the shelter, despite their names not currently being on ‘the list,’ but only after getting ‘a voucher’ from BFHP.” The transitional shelter came to the residents’ lives after Breyer rejected the campers’ request for an injunction to block the eviction with a temporary restraining order. A lawsuit also filed by the residents against the eviction remains open, according to Neumann.

Based on information obtained in court documents, $570,000 was allocated to remove the Bulb residents, based on a Albany City Council decision made on Oct. 21, with $171,000 spent on the cleanup of the campsites and the remainder spent on the two portable trailers with bunk beds to serve as transitional housing for six months. As of now, the shelter’s efficacy to get the campers off the Bulb, as well as the residents’ efforts to resist the transition, remains unclear.



The Albany Bulb, a wild shoreline space near Golden Gate Fields and a former landfill for BART construction and other industries, is well known for its art. Now that a transitional shelter looms over the entrance as part of the city’s plan to remove the residents from the Bulb, campers, activists, and artists came together this past weekend for a festival of resistance against the eviction.

The rubble and sculpture filled space will soon be transformed into part of the Eastshore State Park system. The event drew around 60 people, according to resident Amber Whitson. She led an art walk on Nov. 29, giving the history of the art at the Bulb and explaining why it’s important to preserve it as a cultural resource.

“Some things should remain sacred, and Sniff paintings are out on the Albany Bulb,” she said, referencing works by a group of Oakland-based artists.

Other prominent Bulb artists, such as Osha Neumann and Jason DeAntonis, who built massive sculptures made of found wood and parts along the shoreline, were on hand to speak about their contributions and the personal significance the Bulb holds for them.

While residents have come and gone throughout the years, the art has remained a constant draw. Graffiti artists practice their craft, and sculptors work undisturbed, using debris that is scattered around. Even some of the campers’ shelters, makeshift shanties of concrete, wood and tarp, could be considered artistic.

Once the transition of the Bulb from untamed outcrop to a state park of well-kept trails is further along, the city plans to remove most of the art currently installed there.

The campers and activists organized the art walk as part of a three-day festival of trainings, workshops, and music, to enjoy the space, but also to educate residents and others about how the space could be kept in its current state. “I know that organizing is continuing, and again, the shape it takes will depend on how the city goes about the planned evictions,” said Neumann in an email to the Guardian.

For now though, the art stands, in between garbage, rubble, trees and shrubs, a constant reminder that artists and Bulb dwellers are still around.

The Performant: Louder, faster, more!


When a friend of a friend held his 33 1/3rd birthday party, he filled the rooms of his apartment with turntables and stacks of LPs for his guests to play themselves. It was basically the best party ever, and a good argument for propagating the tradition of celebrating that particular milestone. And of course what better milestone to celebrate if you’re in the music business, like long-time independent label Alternative Tentacles? Particularly in a business climate unkind to independent anything, to be able to celebrate three-plus decades of sticking it to the establishment at all is some cause for jubilee.

Of course there are pitfalls to growing older, which I only discovered when I got to the Alternative Tentacles blowout anniversary show at Slims at the perfectly respectable club-going hour of 11pm, to discover that I had missed most of the show. Well, I never! Not only had a missed out the rare opportunity to see one of my personal musical heroes, Mojo Nixon, tear it up in his indomitable, breakneck way, but I didn’t really get a chance to soak in the atmosphere building up to the main event: headliners Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine.

Fortunately even if my flow was off, the band’s was not, and the fast and furious set punctuated by politicized bon-mots and observations was classic JB. Jello Biafra, of course, is the founder and overlord of Alternative Tentacles, former frontman of the Dead Kennedys, spoken-word raconteur extraordinaire, and occasional political candidate, and while he was sporting the unlikely trimmed beard and mustache combo of “The Most Interesting Man in the World,” his voice was still the strident, yodel of days of yore, and his stage persona full of ham.

Humor and politics have always been the hallmarks of Jello’s work, which songs like “Burgers of Wrath,” “Pets Eat Their Master,” and “Kill the Poor,” perfectly encapsulate, and except for an awkward stagedive that didn’t quite go anywhere, Biafra’s stage performance was as energetic as ever, thankfully proving that aging doesn’t have to be about being graceful, and a punk show that ends at midnight can still rock.

Meanwhile on the other side of the city, an unexpected Alternative Tentacles connection represented at the Emerald Tablet, where Philadelphian Joseph Gervasi held a screening of his Philly punk-scene archive project, Loud! Fast! Philly!, and his co-host/co-organizer turned out to be Jesse “Luscious” Townley, formerly of the Philly scene, and general manager of Alternative Tentacles, who DJ’d an eclectic set before the show.

Originally compiled in the earlier part of the year, Loud! Fast! Philly! was originally shown at the Cinedelphia Film Festival as an “interactive” audio-visual presentation combining old home movie-style footage of various Philly punk bands with live commentary from members in attendance. But in compiling the project, Gervasi realized it was the stories behind the videos he really wanted people to have access to. Thus began the second arm of the project: an audio archive of interviews with a variety of old school Philly punks, which lives in perpetuity online.

Truthfully the archive is probably the most fascinating part of the project. The video clips, while offering a fascinating peek at a particular time and place (and substandard quality of recording devices), don’t offer nearly the same breadth and depth of history as do the interviews. That said, rare footage of bands like More Fiends, Flag of Democracy, Dead Milkmen, and R.A.M.B.O. were unique and frankly humorous enough to transcend their shaky amateur quality and insider appeal, and provided a weirdly cohesive portrait of an ever-morphing scene, from the 80s to the present.

Guardians of Fospice


DEATH ISSUE Like in any hospital, the doctors at the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelter deal with the living and the dying on a daily basis. But in these halls, the dying often have no homes and no families — unless they’re lucky enough to leave through the front door.

The SPCA is a unique safe haven for the furred, a pioneering “no-kill” shelter. The distinction doesn’t mean no death, it means the staff actively avoids euthanization of animals that have a chance of being adopted, including those that are already in the process of dying.

The doctors, technicians, and support personnel have a unique challenge: While most pet owners — or pet guardians, the official replacement term San Francisco adopted in 2002 — deal with the death of a beloved pet once or twice in a lifetime, the people here learn to deal with losing the animals they love every week.

The term they use is “compassion fatigue,” and the specialists here have to learn how to manage emotions surrounding death of animals that number in the hundreds every year.

Dr. Kate Kuzminski, the director of shelter medicine at the SF SPCA, gives us a tour. Our first stop is a small checkup room, where two adopted kittens, Liam and Otto, are pacing on a table.

“Here’s your opportunity to see poopy kittens,” their guardian, Judy, says. Though she’s playful, diarrhea can be dangerous for kittens if left unchecked. Diarrhea leads to dehydration, which leads to death.

Kuzminski looks them over, pulling the unhealthily scrawny young cats by the scruff of the neck. They’re a dark, dusky grey, with poofy fur, and about the length of her hand. After just a minute of looking them over, she prescribes a treatment and moves on. The brevity of her visit seems callous at first, until she tells us that she has more than 300 animals clamoring for her attention.

The most vulnerable of the animals under her care are kittens, Kuzminski explains. “We have a great foster program, but without the foster program they would likely die,” she says. It costs thousands of dollars to care for one kitten for a few days.


Two kittens in beginning of life care at the SF SPCA snuggle. 

Compartments along one wall hold about three kittens each, many hooked into little IVs that kept them hydrated. The kittens tumble and play with each other as she discusses their likelihood of living. The facility has an extraordinary success rate, she says, but sometimes there’s a limit on what the vets can do.

The kittens mew and meow in the background as she outlines their options.

When an animal is suffering, sometimes the answer is euthanasia. But for those with kidney disease, cancer, or other debilitating conditions, the SPCA’s “Fospice” program is sometimes the answer. Fospice is the combination of two ideas: Foster care, and hospice. It’s end of life care for homeless pets.

Alison Lane is the Fospice coordinator, overseeing 13 or so animals at any one time. “Most of these cats, and sometimes dogs, if they were in any other shelter, they’d be euthanized,” Lane says. “They’re hard to adopt out.”

The foster owners are provided free food and vet care for the animals they nurse into death. Photos of the pets and their owners are on Lane’s door — one cat watches fish float by on an iPad. The pets often last much longer in Fospice than they’re expected to, she says.

“Amore is only three years old but has congenital heart failure. She’s been out for three years now, the doctors were certain she only had three weeks to live,” Lane says. “But we’re not looking to extend their lives necessarily, we just want to make their quality of life better.”

The SFPCA’s hospice found homes for 1,045 cats and kittens and 115 puppies in 2012. But there are only a dozen or so animals in Fospice care. When one dog had to be euthanized just a few weeks ago, the staff held a “last day of life” party for her and the owner.

Laura Mullen, a foster technician, tells us it was healing for her and the staff.

“We had an Amber party, with balloons and flowers and she got hamburgers and all sorts of things. Amber had a good time, a good snack, and had her family around her. It ended on a happy note,” she said.

Mullen needed it more than most because she usually assists Dr. Kuzminski when an animal is euthanized. She says kitten season is often the hardest. Between December and March, they see anywhere between 30-40 kittens a day. Mullen is a 12-year veteran of the SPCA, so when the less experienced techs can’t handle it emotionally, she steps in to assist with euthanasia.

dr kuzminski


Dr. Kate Kuzminski is Director of Shelter Medicine at the SF SPCA. 

First, they separate the animal into a room on its own. It’s very important the other animals don’t see the process, Mullen says. They sedate the animal, and touch its eyelids to make sure they are asleep. Then they administer the euthanizing fluid and watch it take its last breaths and check for a pulse with a stethoscope.

Kuzminski said when they euthanize an animal, they often email the volunteers, techs, and vets who spent the most time with them so they can say goodbye. Before she asks for a tech to help her ease an animal to its final sleep, she asks about how the person is feeling that day.

“I always check in with Lauren, ‘are you okay with doing this today?’ It’s easy to get burnt out,” she said. Kuzminski’s colleagues do the same for her. Though she’s seen a lot of animals through their last days, she says the hardest loss she’s dealt with on the job was a dog named Coco.

When Coco came in, she was already suffering. She couldn’t walk, and couldn’t eat. They amputated her leg. When her esophagus closed, they took turns feeding her intravenously. The small staff grew to love Coco. The team worked with her for six weeks, in shifts. Ultimately, she didn’t make it. When Coco was euthanized, Kuzminski was out of town on business.

“The difficult thing about when Coco died was I wasn’t here for my staff,” she says, her voice fluttering a bit as she speaks. “You really want to win.”

But sometimes, you don’t win. And with the short lifespan, fragility, and sheer number of animals in pet-loving San Francisco, the staff of the SF SPCA sees a lot of death. For Lane, it helps to think of death as a part of life, something she learned here.

“As sad as death is, it’s inevitable. We all try to make the death, the passing of this animal, as easy and as comfortable as we can make it,” she tells us.

When a pet passes, they give a card to the foster owners, but it’s not a condolence card. It’s a thank-you card. “I think I’m much less afraid of (death),” she says. “You get that feeling of, well, we’ve done everything we can, and now we say goodbye. It’s not an awful thing, it’s not terrible. It’s about how you’ve spent your life. “




Theater Listings: August 14 – 20, 2013


Stage listings are compiled by Guardian staff. Performance times may change; call venues to confirm. Reviewers are Robert Avila, Rita Felciano, and Nicole Gluckstern. Submit items for the listings at



In Friendship: Stories By Zona Gale Z Below, 470 Florida, SF; $20-50. Previews Wed/14-Thu/15, 7pm; Fri/16, 8pm. Opens Sat/17, 8pm. Runs Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Sept 8. Word for Word performs Zona Gale’s “comedy of American manners.”


All’s Well That Ends Well Forest Meadows Amphitheater, 890 Bella, Dominican University of California, San Rafael; $20-37.50. Previews Fri/16, 8pm. Opens Aug 24, 8pm. Presented in repertory Fri-Sun through Sept 28; visit website for performance schedule. Marin Shakespeare Company continues its outdoor season with the Bard’s classic romance.

Lady Windermere’s Fan Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda; $35-62. Previews Wed/14-Fri/16, 8pm. Opens Sat/17, 8pm. Runs Tue-Thu, 7:30pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sept 7, 2pm); Sun, 4pm. Through Sept 8. California Shakespeare Theater performs Oscar Wilde’s comedy.

Orlando Live Oak Theatre, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; $10-30. Previews Thu/15, 8pm. Opens Fri/16, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Sept 15. TheatreFIRST performs Sarah Ruhl’s gender-shifting comedy, which takes place over a span of 300 years.


Can You Dig It? Back Down East 14th — the 60s and Beyond Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; $15-50. Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Aug 25. Don Reed’s new show offers more stories from his colorful upbringing in East Oakland in the 1960s and ’70s. More hilarious and heartfelt depictions of his exceptional parents, independent siblings, and his mostly African American but ethnically mixed working-class community — punctuated with period pop, Motown, and funk classics, to which Reed shimmies and spins with effortless grace. And of course there’s more too of the expert physical comedy and charm that made long-running hits of Reed’s last two solo shows, East 14th and The Kipling Hotel (both launched, like this newest, at the Marsh). Can You Dig It? reaches, for the most part, into the “early” early years, Reed’s grammar-school days, before the events depicted in East 14th or Kipling Hotel came to pass. But in nearly two hours of material, not all of it of equal value or impact, there’s inevitably some overlap and indeed some recycling. Reed, who also directs the show, may start whittling it down as the run continues. But, as is, there are at least 20 unnecessary minutes diluting the overall impact of the piece, which is thin on plot already — much more a series of often very enjoyable vignettes and some painful but largely unexplored observations, wrapped up at the end in a sentimental moral that, while sincere, feels rushed and inadequate. (Avila)

Foodies! The Musical Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; $30-34. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. AWAT Productions presents Morris Bobrow’s musical comedy revue all about food.

God of Carnage Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; $26-38. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through Sept 7. Shelton Theater performs Yasmina Reza’s award-winning play about class and parenting.

Gold Rush! The Un-Scripted Barbary Coast Musical Un-Scripted Theater Company, 533 Sutter, Second Flr, SF; $10-20. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through Aug 24. The Un-Scripted Theater Company performs an improvised musical about gold-rush era San Francisco.

Gorgeous Hussy: An Interview With Joan Crawford Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; $15-35. Thu/15-Fri/16, 8pm. Running in repertory with Lawfully Wedded (below), this world premiere by Morgan Ludlow imagines a young writer’s encounter with the legendary movie star.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch Boxcar Theatre, 505 Natoma, SF; $27-43. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. John Cameron Mitchell’s cult musical comes to life with director Nick A. Olivero’s ever-rotating cast.

How to Make Your Bitterness Work for You Stage Werx Theatre, 446 Valencia, SF; $15-25. Mon-Tue, 8pm. Through Aug 27. Kent Underwood is a motivational speaker and self-help expert with some obvious baggage of his own in this solo play from former comedy writer and stand-up comedian Fred Raker (It Could Have Been a Wonderful Life). The premise, similar to that of Kurt Bodden’s Steve Seabrook: Better Than You (ongoing at the Marsh), has the audience overlapping with participants in an Underwood seminar. Underwood, however, two years on the seminar circuit and still unable to get his book published, deviates from the script to answer texts related to a possible career breakthrough. Meanwhile, with the aid of some bullet points and illustrative slides, he explains the premise of said manuscript, “How to Make Your Bitterness Work For You,” as the sad truth of his own underdog status emerges between the laugh lines. But where Bodden is careful to make his Seabrook a somewhat believable character despite the absurdity of it all (or rather, while firmly embracing the absurdity of the self-help industry itself), Raker and director Kimberly Richards put much more space between the playwright/performer and his character, which turns out to be a less effective strategy. Verisimilitude might not have mattered much if the comic material were stronger. Unfortunately, despite the occasional zinger, much of the humor is weak or corny and the narrative (interrupted at regular intervals by an artificial tone representing the arrival of a fresh text message) too contrived to sell us on the larger story. (Avila)

Keith Moon: The Real Me Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; $40. Thu/15-Sat/17, 8pm; Sun/18, 7pm. Was Keith Moon the greatest rock ‘n’ roll drummer ever? Veteran solo performer and drum stylist Mick Berry doesn’t exactly come out and say so, but his biographical play about Moon definitely makes a good case for the possibility. Keith Moon: The Real Me, written and performed by Berry, kicks off with a literal bang, a hi-octane cover of “Baba O’Riley,” featuring Berry’s exuberantly crashing cymbals layered over the iconic, rapid-fire synth riff that runs throughout the song. Though the characters of the play are all portrayed by Berry — with references to all the requisite sex, drugs, and self-destruction thrown into the mix — a full band stands at the ready behind two transparent screens to flesh out the show’s strongest element: the rock-and-roll. In order to channel Moon’s full-throttle drumming, Berry enlisted the assistance of Frank Simes, the music director of the Who’s 2012-2013 tour, while to channel Moon’s freewheeling but insecure personality, he enlisted local director Bobby Weinapple. The script itself is still ragged, and a couple of key moments, particularly when Moon’s car is attacked in early 1970, are presented in such a way that the context comes later, which is confusing if you don’t already know the history of the incident. But if you don’t mind a bit of chat with your rock concert, you’ll probably find this fusion of the two intriguing. Just remember, when the nice concessions people offer you complimentary earplugs, take them. (Gluckstern)

Lawfully Wedded: Plays About Marriage Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; $15-35. Sat/17, 8pm. Running in repertory with Gorgeous Hussy (above), this world premiere “collage of scenes and stories” by Morgan Ludlow, Kirk Shimano, and Alina Trowbridge takes on marriage equality.

Marius Southside Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Bldg D, SF; $20-35. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Aug 25. GenerationTheatre performs R. David Valayre’s new English translation of Marcel Pagnol’s classic about a man who dreams of traveling the seas.

Sex and the City: LIVE! Rebel, 1760 Market, SF; $25. Wed, 7 and 9pm. Open-ended. It seems a no-brainer. Not just the HBO series itself — that’s definitely missing some gray matter — but putting it onstage as a drag show. Mais naturellement! Why was Sex and the City not conceived of as a drag show in the first place? Making the sordid not exactly palatable but somehow, I don’t know, friendlier (and the canned a little cannier), Velvet Rage Productions mounts two verbatim episodes from the widely adored cable show, with Trannyshack’s Heklina in a smashing portrayal of SJP’s Carrie; D’Arcy Drollinger stealing much of the show as ever-randy Samantha (already more or less a gay man trapped in a woman’s body); Lady Bear as an endearingly out-to-lunch Miranda; and ever assured, quick-witted Trixxie Carr as pent-up Charlotte. There’s also a solid and enjoyable supporting cast courtesy of Cookie Dough, Jordan Wheeler, and Leigh Crow (as Mr. Big). That’s some heavyweight talent trodding the straining boards of bar Rebel’s tiny stage. The show’s still two-dimensional, even in 3D, but noticeably bigger than your 50″ plasma flat panel. Update: new episodes began May 15. (Avila)

So You Can Hear Me Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; $15-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Extended through Aug 24. A 23-year-old with no experience, just high spirits and big ideals, gets a job in the South Bronx teaching special ed classes and quickly finds herself in over her head. Safiya Martinez, herself a bright young woman from the projects, delivers this inspired accounting of her time not long ago in perhaps the most neglected sector of the public school system — a 60-minute solo play that makes up for its slim plot with a set of deft, powerful, lovingly crafted characterizations. These complex portraits, alternately hysterical and startling, offer their own moving ruminations on a violent but also vibrant stratum of American society, deeply fractured by pervasive poverty and injustice and yet full of restive young personalities too easily dismissed, ignored, or crudely caricatured elsewhere. An effervescent, big-hearted, and very talented performer, Martinez boasts a bounding personality and contagious passion for her former students (as complicated as that relationship was), and makes this deeply felt tribute all the more memorable. (Avila)

Steve Seabrook: Better Than You Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; $15-50. Sat, 8:30pm. Extended through Aug 24. Self-awareness, self-actualization, self-aggrandizement — for these things we turn to the professionals: the self-empowerment coaches, the self-help authors and motivational speakers. What’s the good of having a “self” unless someone shows you how to use it? Writer-performer Kurt Bodden’s Steve Seabrook wants to sell you on a better you, but his “Better Than You” weekend seminar (and tie-in book series, assorted CDs, and other paraphernalia) belies a certain divided loyalty in its own self-flattering title. The bitter fruit of the personal growth industry may sound overly ripe for the picking, but Bodden’s deftly executed “seminar” and its behind-the-scenes reveals, directed by Mark Kenward, explore the terrain with panache, cool wit, and shrewd characterization. As both writer and performer, Bodden keeps his Steve Seabrook just this side of overly sensational or maudlin, a believable figure, finally, whose all-too-ordinary life ends up something of a modest model of its own. (Avila)

Stories High XII: The Soma Edition Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth St, SF; $10-20. Thu/15-Sat/17, 8pm. Four mini-plays about “living, working, playing, and struggling” in SoMa, written by Dianne Aquino Chui, Paolo Salazar, Cristal Fiel, and Conrad Panganiban.

Sweet Bird of Youth Tides Theatre, 533 Sutter, Second Flr, SF; $20-40. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through Aug 24. Tides Theatre performs Tennessee Williams’ Gulf Coast-set drama about an improbable couple.


A Comedy of Errors Forest Meadows Amphitheater, 890 Bella, Dominican University of California, San Rafael; $20-37.50. Presented in repertory Fri-Sun through Sept 29; visit website for performance schedule. Marin Shakespeare Company presents a cowboy-themed spin on the Bard’s classic.

No Man’s Land Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; $35-135. Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Thu and Sat, 2pm; no matinee Aug 29); Wed, 7pm (also Aug 28, 2pm); Sun/18 and Aug 25, 2pm. Through Aug 31. Acting legends and erstwhile X-Men Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen star in this pre-Broadway engagement of Harold Pinter’s play.

Oil and Water This week: San Lorenzo Park, Dakota at Ocean, Santa Cruz; Free (donations accepted). Sat/17-Sun/18, 3pm (music at 2:30pm). Through Sept 2 at NorCal parks. It’s a rough year for mimes, or at any rate for the San Francisco Mime Troupe who, after presenting 53 seasons of free theater in the parks of San Francisco (and elsewhere), faced a financial crisis in April that threatened to shut down this season before it even started. The resultant show, funded by an influx of last-minute donations, is one cut considerably closer to the bone than in previous years. With a cast of just four actors and two musicians, plus a stage considerably less ornate then usual, even the play has shrunk in scale, from one two-hour musical to two loosely-connected one-acts riffing on general environmentalist themes. In Deal With the Devil, a surprisingly sympathetic (not to mention downright hawt) Devil (Velina Brown) shows up to help an uncertain president (Rotimi Agbabiaka) regain his conscience and win back his soul, while in Crude Intentions adorable, progressive, same-sex couple Gracie (Velina Brown) and Tomasa (Lisa Hori-Garcia) wind up catering a “benefit” shindig for the Keystone XL Pipeline giving them the opportunity to perpetrate a little guerrilla direct action on a bombastic David Koch (Hugo E Carbajal) with a “mole de petróleo” and a smartphone. Throughout, the performers remain upbeat if somewhat over-extended as they sing, dance, and slapstick their way to the sobering conclusion that the time to turn things around in the battles over global environmental protection is now — or never. (Gluckstern)

Sea of Reeds Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; $20-35. Wed/14-Thu/15, 7pm; Fri/16-Sat/17, 8pm; Sun/18, 5pm. The stage comes unusually populated in this latest from well-known Bay Area monologist and red-diaper baby Josh Kornbluth: a four-piece musical ensemble (El Beh, Jonathan Kepke, Olive Mitra, and Eli Wirtschafter) sits stage right, a standing table with some reed-making equipment appears stage left. Front and center is Kornbluth and his oboe, before him a music stand and behind him three “reeds”—freestanding concave walls of a bamboo-hue (designed by Nina Ball). But there’s more: Kornbluth’s physical trainer (Beth Wilmurt), bounding up from her seat in the first row to lend Kornbluth support or, more productively, prod him in the right direction as he takes the long road home to setting up a promised recital of Bach’s Cantata No. 82. That set up hinges on his recent bar mitzvah, at 52, in Israel, and its unexpected connections between his life-long oboe playing, his Communist upbringing in New York, his mixed marriage, his conversations with a local rabbi, and the Book of Exodus (specifically, Moses’s trail-blazing for the Israelites across the Red Sea, a.k.a., the Sea of Reeds). Although the introduction of supporting characters, musicians, and a musical score (by Marco D’Ambrosio) breaks new ground for the longtime soloist, Sea of Reeds is classic — indeed classical (thanks to a final few tenuous bars from the promised Bach cantata) — Kornbluth. Directed by longtime creative partner David Dower, the show features the boyish comedic persona, the intricate storytelling, and the biographical referents that have given him a loyal following over the years. Diehard fans aside, the show’s cheesy, somewhat self-regarding conceit of staging “spontaneous” interactions between Kornbluth and his trainer may not work with everyone. Perhaps more challenging, though, is the persistence of a less than fully examined disjunction between the political values of his parents and his own political and ethical evolution — a disjunction highlighted here in the narrative’s fraught Middle Eastern setting and its vague navigation between the violence of religious zealotry and a plea for tolerance. (Avila)

The Wiz Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College, Berk; $17-60. Wed-Thu and Sat, 7pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, noon and 5pm. Through Aug 25. The first time I saw the movie version of The Wiz with Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor, and Lena Horne (among others) it pretty much blew my young, Wizard of Oz-loving mind, swapping funky R&B for syrupy ballads, sophisticated silver pumps in place of the familiar sequined red ones, and mean city streets and subways in place of the more bucolic surroundings of the 1939 Victor Fleming film. Unfortunately, from a certain perspective, the 1970s feel just about as dated today as the 1930s, and consequently The Wiz doesn’t seem quite as innovative as it once did. And while there are some nods to the political climate of today made by the creative team behind the Berkeley Playhouse’s production (such as a pair of almost randomly-wielded rainbow flags, and a handful of t-shirts printed with peace-and-love messages), they mostly steer clear of making any kind of overt statements, even in regards to the all black casting (now thoroughly integrated). Similarly, many of the trappings of the “seventies” have also been axed in favor of more fanciful, almost cartoonish, costuming and choreography. It’s long for a children’s musical, clocking in at around two-and-a-half hours, but that seems no deterrent to the plucky Wiz Kidz youth ensemble who tread the floorboards as a pack of munchkins, a band of sweatshop laborers, and a groovy bunch of glammed-up citizens of the Emerald City. Grown-up voices of special note belong to Taylor Jones as Dorothy, Nicole Julien as Aunt Em/Glinda, Amy Lizardo as Addaperle, Reggie D. White as Tin Man, and Sarah Mitchell as Evillene. (Gluckstern)


“Amplitude II” Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF; Fri/16, 7-9pm. Free with gallery admission ($8-10). Novelist Laleh Khadivi, scholar Paula Moya, and others lead this event in which audience members are invited to read excerpts from novels recommended by participating artists. There will also be an expanded cinema performance by Michelle Dizon (2012’s Perpetual Peace).

BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, B350 Fort Mason, SF; Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Aug 31. $20. The company’s 19th annual Summer Improv Festival continues with “Spontaneous Broadway” (Fri/16); “SF vs. LA Theatresports” (Sat/17); “Duoprov Championship” (Aug 23-24); and “Choose Your Own Adventure” (Aug 30-31).

Kurt Braunohler Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa, SF; Fri/16, 8pm. $18. The comedian release his new album, How Do I Land?, with fellow performers Laura Kightlinger, the Business, and a special musical guest.

Caroline Lugo and Carolé Acuña’s Ballet Flamenco Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; Sat/17 and Aug 25, 6:15pm. $15-19. Flamenco performance by the mother-daughter dance company, featuring live musicians.

“Help Is On the Way 19” Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon, SF; Sun/18, 7:30pm (silent auction and VIP party, 5pm; pre-show gala reception, 6-7:30pm; post-show party, 10-11:45pm). $65-125. Alex Newell (Glee) and Judy Garland impersonator Jim Bailey headline this benefit for the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation.

“Iolanthe” Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Lam Research Theater, 700 Howard, SF; Fri/16-Sat/17, 8pm (also Sat/17, 2pm); Sun/18, 2pm. $15-59. Lamplighters Music Theatre performs Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic musical comedy.

“Merola Grand Finale” War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness, SF; Sat/17, 7:30pm. $25-45. Future opera headliners perform.

“Mission Position Live” Cinecave, 1034 Valencia, SF; Thu, 8pm. Ongoing. $10. Stand-up comedy with rotating performers.

“Okeanos Intimate” Aquarium of the Bay, Pier 39, SF; Sat, 7pm. Through Sept 28. $20-30 (free aquarium ticket with show ticket). Dance-circus company Capacitor presents a family-friendly series of performances inspired by the ocean. Each show features a pre-performance talk by a marine biologist or oceanographer.

“Performing Diaspora Festival” CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; Thu-Sun, 8pm. Through Aug 25. $20-30 sliding scale. This week: Byb Chanel Bibene, Joti Singh, and Jia Wu; next week: Jewlia Eisenberg, Muisi-kongo Malongo, and Nadhi Thekkek.

“RAWdance presents the Concept Series: 14” 66 Sanchez Studio, 66 Sanchez, SF; Sat/17-Sun/18, 8pm (also Sun/18, 3pm). Pay what you can. Intimate salon of contemporary dance with Nina Haft and Company, Stranger Lover Dreamer, Post: Ballet, the Anata Project, Fog Beast, and RAWdance. Plus popcorn!

“San Francisco Drag King Contest” Space 550, 550 Barneveld, SF; Sat/17, 10pm. $15-35. The 18th rendition of this popular contest, hosted by Sister Roma and Fudgie Frottage, benefits Pets Are Wonderful Support; a dance party with guest DJs follows.

“San Francisco Magic Parlor” Chancellor Hotel Union Square, 433 Powell, SF; Thu-Sat, 8pm. Ongoing. $40. Magic vignettes with conjurer and storyteller Walt Anthony.

San Francisco Opera Sigmund Stern Grove, 19th Ave at Sloat, SF; Sun/18, 2pm. Free. As part of the Stern Grove Festival, SF Opera performs an outdoor concert featuring the works of Verdi, Wagner, and Benjamin Britten.

“San Francisco Son Jarocho Festival” Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission at Third, SF; Thu/15, 12:30-1:30pm, free. Son de Madera performs. Additional events at Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St, SF; Thu/15, 7pm: screening of documentary Soneros del Tesechoacan ($5); Fri/16, 8pm: Los Soneros del Tesechoacan perform with Cambalache ($18-35); Sat/17, 8pm: Son de Madera play a concert with Dia Pa’ Son ($18-35); and Sun/18, times and prices vary: workshops, master classes, and more.

“SPF6” ODC Theater, 3153 17th St, SF; Wed/14-Sun/18, 7pm (also Wed/14-Sat/17, 9pm; Sat/17-Sun/18, 4pm; Sun/18, 2pm). $10-20. SAFEhouse, which fosters new performing artists through residencies and other programs, presents its sixth annual Summer Performance Festival.

“Union Square Live” Union Square, between Post, Geary, Powell, and Stockton, SF; Through Oct 9. Free. Music, dance, circus arts, film, and more; dates and times vary, so check website for the latest.

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival Mission at Third St, SF; Free. This week: “Brazil in the Gardens” (Sat/18, 1-2:30pm); “Poetry Tuesday at Jessie Square” (Tue/20, 12:30-1:30pm).


“My Own Fairytale” Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Aug 24. $15-30. Leslie Noel presents a workshop performance of her new musical about heartbreak, love, and betrayal.

“Legally Blonde: The Musical” Valley Center for the Arts, Regent’s Theater, Holy Names University, 3500 Mountain Blvd, Oakl; Fri/16-Sat/17, 7:30pm; Sun/18, 2pm. $15-35. Stage Door Conservatory performs the musical based on the Reese Witherspoon comedy.

“The Peace Project; Shaking & Shocking” Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon, Oakl; Fri/16-Sat/17, 8pm; Sun/18, 5pm. $15-20. dNaga in partnership with PDActive and Danspace presents Claudine Naganuma’s work about the ways in which patients manage Parkinson’s Disease.

“TheatreWorks New Works Festival” Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield, Palo Alto; Wed-Sun, showtimes vary. $19 (festival pass, $65). TheatreWorks performs its 12th annual fest, with a line-up that includes a new comedy from Pulitzer winner Beth Henley. *


Alerts: August 14 – 20, 2013



“Untitled” Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, 2868 Mission, SF. 7-10pm, $5. The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts is kicking off one of its new exhibitions, “Untitled,” featuring pieces covering topics such as migration, intervention, documentation, and the interpretation of family and societal dreams. Work by artists such as Favianna Rodriguez, Carina Lomeli, Indira Urrutia, and Marc Hors will be up until Sept. 14. Chamber music band Classical Revolution will perform during the opening reception.


World’s Largest Drag King Contest 550 Space, 550 Barneveld Ave, SF. 10pm, $15 to $35. DragStrip Productions presents the 18th Annual San Francisco Drag King Contest. Expect burlesque, lip-synching, mud-wrestling, and gender-bending stage acts judged by a panel of local drag celebrities. DJ after-party to follow the crowning of San Francisco’s next drag king. Fudgie Frottage and Sister Roma co-emcee. All benefits will go toward Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS).

Save CCSF: Lobby Committee Meeting Main Public Library, Mary Louise Strong Conference room, 100 Larkin. 1-4pm, free. City College is slated to lose its accreditation in July of 2014, and Save CCSF is working to reverse that decision. The group has staged protests and Occupy-style actions, but also plans to lobby politicians about saving the college. Join them in planning how to save City College from its accreditors.


Tenant Union Hall of Fame and auction San Francisco Tenants Union, 558 Capp, SF. 1-5pm, free. The San Francisco Tenants Union’s annual Hall of Fame ceremony recognizes tenants who have made notable contributions to the rights of tenants in San Francisco. This year the TU honors longtime volunteer Jim Faye, Tommi Avicolli Mecca and Sara Shortt from the Housing Rights Committee, and former Guardian Editor Tim Redmond. Join them for a BBQ and surf over to their website to scope out their silent auction, where one can bid on everything from a lunch with a supervisor to a sailboat ride.

NSA Surveillance and US: What We Know and What We Can Do About It Martin Luther King Room, Unitarian-Universalist Center, 1197 Franklin, SF. 3:45-6pm, free. This workshop will feature short presentations about NSA surveillance by attorneys and organizers, followed by breakout groups meeting to plan actions, write materials, and network. Hosted by the Unitarian Universalists for Peace-SF and the SF 99 Percent Coalition.



Below you’ll find our annual update on the state of nude beaches in Northern California, along with detailed guides and directions to some of our favorites. For details on dozens more, please see our complete Nude Beach Guide at, which we are in the process of updating.

While researching clothing-optional beaches in Jamaica in November, my girlfriend and I noticed that native Jamaicans don’t think anything of stripping down to their underwear to take a dip in a waterfall on a hot day — our driver did just that near one of the nation’s biggest cities, Ocho Rios — while visiting tourists can go topless or nude with hardly a complaint on Negril’s seven-mile long shoreline of shimmering white sand, at the west end of the country.

It made me wonder, what if the same tolerance existed here, where each beach has its own traditions and its own set of rules? Sometimes, it takes as little as a person moving some sand or staying after sunset to annoy our cops. In Jamaica and many other parts of the world, that would never happen.

For example, law enforcement actions recently hit two Bay Area nude beaches — Marin’s Red Rock and Steep Ravine — while most access to a third site, fan favorite Muir, near Stinson Beach, has been closed by authorities until November.

The good news: visits by rangers to both skinny dipping coves mentioned above have died back, while anti-nudity patrols at Monterey’s Garrapata Beach, which erupted in 2011, have been discontinued. And the Guardian is publishing three “secret” alternate ways that die-hard visitors can use to reach the nude section of gorgeous Muir Beach.

Red Rock was rocked by a ranger who reportedly used a crowbar to remove part of a sunbathing “terrace” that beach regulars had built by moving sand to create more “towel space.” He also cited two male beachgoers for violating Title 14, Section 4307, of the California Code Of Regulations, which bans removal of “earth” or “sand” from state parks.

The men are appealing their penalties, while their friends at the beach are asking for donations to pay for their legal fees. “We’re going to take up a collection,” says Stinson Beach attorney-teacher Fred Jaggi.

The ranger’s boss, Bill Lutton, a state parks superintendent for the Marin area who visited the beach after the busts, told us that “altering” and “changing the features” of the beach is a serious offense. “We consider ourselves the guardians of seven generations of users of California’s park system,” he says, “so we must protect the parks’ cultural and natural resources.”

Meanwhile, instead of being charged with destroying park property, several people at nearby Steep Ravine Beach, which is open from 7am until dusk, were cited last fall for soaking in its dangerous-to-reach nude hot springs after sunset by the same ranger who raided Red Rock. “A guy was handcuffed after mouthing off to the ranger, so he really deserved it,” says former springs frequent visitor Michael Velkoff, of Lucas Valley. “He almost took a girl away too.”

Citing “safety and lack of lighting” concerns, Lutton says the after-dark curfew at rock-strewn Steep Ravine, where numerous users have slipped and sustained cuts, bruises, and other injuries, “will be strictly enforced.”

And at Muir Beach, which is used by nudists as a gateway to a nude beach that begins on its north end, visiting hours have been officially eliminated until November 15, while crews improve its parking, toilets, and watershed.

“Don’t even think about visiting the beach,” urges Golden Gate National Recreation Area public affairs specialist Alexandra Picavet, who points out that users won’t have access to the beach, ocean, parking, restrooms, or garbage cans. “Find a new experience — the Bay Area has plenty — to try this summer and then you’ll really appreciate Muir Beach when it reopens.”

Because the main portion of Muir is blocked by fencing and being patrolled by rangers, anyone trying to reach Little Beach, as the nude area next to Muir is also known, will have to hike anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours to reach the shore and then continue walking to the naked area. Picavet says that if you stop for any length of time in front of the non-nude part of Muir, even to stand and admire the view or take a dip in the water, you’ll be cited.

While cops are tightening the use of beaches in Marin, they’re relaxing their hold in Monterey County. In fact, nudists at Garrapata Beach, close to Carmel, have something to celebrate: “nudie” patrols by rangers have ended, in part because the state ran out of money to fund them and because not a single complaint has been received in 2013.

“We’ve been complaint free,” says Sean James, who became acting state parks superintendent for the area in April and appears to be fairly tolerant of naturists. “I don’t see how just being nude would be threatening.”

Please be careful at our beaches. Two women in their 30s died June 30 after they were swept into the ocean by a wave near another popular nude beach, Bonny Doon. They were with two men when the wave swept the foursome into the water. The two men were rescued by a Coast guard helicopter after being stranded on some rocks and surrounded by a rising tide.

Of course, you don’t have to go to the sea to be nude. Our listings include naked lakes, rivers, waterfalls, reservoirs, and at least one meadow. Or how about hiking while wearing only your birthday suit? Au naturel “Full Moon Hikes” have been happening for several years. But the world’s first-ever “Supermoon Nude Hike” (named after a new or full moon which occurs with the moon within 90 percent of its closest approach to Earth) took place right here in the Bay Area the night before the brightest moon of 2013.

“I’ll never forget the hike,” said Raj, one of the walkers, after making the trek in the East Bay Hills, near Castro Valley, June 22. “I will think of it every time I see a full moon.”

Agrees Dave Smith, of San Leandro, who led it: “It was spectacular — one of the greatest hikes ever. Keep in mind we did it in moonlight, while even having to scramble on all fours down some rocks. I felt like Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit.”

Want to join in the fun? More “Full Moon Hikes” will take place July 20 and August 18 (see our online listings below for Las Trampas in Contra Costa County).

Another idea to meet and socialize with fellow naturists: drop by Santa Cruz’s Bonny Doon Beach on September 21 or Lake Tahoe’s Secret Harbor Creek Beach on June 7, 2014, when visitors will be getting together to keep them clean by finding and removing trash.

Finally, you can help beachgoers and the naturist community by sending me your new beach discoveries, trip reports, and improved directions (especially road milepost numbers), along with your phone number to or Gary Hanauer, c/o San Francisco Bay Guardian, 71 Stevenson, 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105.

Our ratings: “A” signifies a beach that is large or well-established and where the crowd is mostly nude; “B” indicates places where fewer than half the visitors are nude; “C” means small or emerging nude areas; and “D” depicts spots that are in use, but not recommended.




North Baker’s neo-hippie revival is continuing for a third straight season, with more art work springing up on the USA’s largest urban nude beach. Guitar- and drum-playing was added to the scene last year. This summer, a second so-called “art tree” made of driftwood and festooned with seaweed has appeared. “I call it the Sea Hag,” says Santosh, an organizer of alternative activities at the beach who also produces San Francisco’s annual How Weird Street Faire. “Anybody can add things to it. They bring mementos, flowers, anything you can think of. I tend it, but it attracts a life of its own. Several tourists per day usually drop by. One child looked up at the things dangling from it and asked, ‘Is it some kind of voodoo?'” Baker’s own “beach language” is also evolving. Last year, “duney,” which describes the site’s tent-like, shade-providing structures without walls, and “Baker Day” (when the sun’s out and it’s not too windy) came into usage. “Now, we’ve added ‘rock block’ and ‘cosmic volleyball,'” adds Santosh, who describes the former as any stretch of three Baker Days in a row, while cosmic volleyball allows visitors “to keep playing, even if the ball bounces off one of our driftwood poles.”

Directions: Take the 29 Sunset bus or go north on 25th Avenue to Lincoln Boulevard. Turn right and take the second left onto Bowley Street. Follow Bowley to Gibson Road, turn right, and follow Gibson to the east parking lot. At the beach, head right to the nude area, which starts at the brown and yellow “Hazardous surf, undertow, swim at your own risk” sign. Some motorcycles in the lot have been vandalized, possibly by car owners angered by bikers parking in car spaces; to avoid trouble, motorcyclists should park in the motorcycle area near the cyclone fence. Parking at Lincoln’s 100 or more nearby parking spaces was limited to two hours recently. But through June, there had been no reports of cops actually writing tickets for parking too long.



One of the better locales in the Bay Area to enjoy a little naked sunning without many people present, a visit to the little cove off Geary Boulevard known as Land’s End may make your worries melt away, at least during a quiet afternoon. Cops only occasionally visit it. But don’t be shocked if you see more clothed visitors than nudists — many locals and tourists who wander down to the sand don’t realize it’s a clothing-optional beach. Tip: on hot days, arrive before noon or there may be no unoccupied sand left on the little, semi-rocky shoreline. If possible, try to use one of the rock-lined windbreaks left by previous sunbathers. Pack a warm covering in case the weather changes.

Directions: Follow Geary Boulevard to the end, then park in the dirt lot up the road from the Cliff House. Take the trail at the far end of the lot. About 100 yards past a bench and some trash cans, the path narrows and bends, then rises and falls, eventually becoming the width of a road. Don’t take the road to the right, which leads to a golf course. Just past another bench, as the trail turns right, go left toward a group of dead trees where you will see a stairway and a “Dogs must be leashed” sign. Descend and head left to another stairway, which leads to a 100-foot walk to the cove. Or, instead, take the service road below the El Camino del Mar parking lot 1/4 mile until you reach a bench, then follow the trail there. It’s eroded in a few places. At the end, you’ll have to scramble over some rocks. Turn left (west) and walk until you find a good place to put down your towel.



Mostly a gay male cruising scene, “Nasty Boy Beach” is also visited by some straight men and women. Though fairly rocky and packed with people on hot days, everyone seems to enjoy the trio of coves you can find by walking along the shore. Oh, and did I mention the view? If you want to feel immersed in a picture postcard of the famous bridge, then this is the place to plop down. On warm days, some users even swim in the usually chilly, undertow-plagued water. “You can sometimes go out over 100 feet during low tide,” says a woman.

Directions: from the toll booth area of Highway 101/1, take Lincoln Boulevard west about a half mile to Langdon Court. Turn right (west) on Langdon and look for space in the parking lots, across Lincoln from Fort Winfield Scott. Park and then take the beach trail, starting just west of the end of Langdon, down its more than 200 steps to Golden Gate Bridge Beach, also known as Marshall’s Beach. Despite recent improvements, the trail to the beach can still be slippery, especially in the spring and winter.



Known as Fort Fun by its fans, this Golden Gate National Recreation Area sun spot, located south of Ocean Beach, attracts hang gliders, dogs and their walkers, and even from time to time a few naturists, the latter of which sometimes tuck themselves between the dunes on the shore. But not all is fun on its magnetic sands and the cliffs above them. A few months ago, a tussle between two dogs ended when a canine was stabbed by the owner of one of the pets. Besides pugnacious pooch protectors, watch out too for sharp winds, especially in March and October. And to stave off hassles from rangers, disrobers should stay away on weekends or when families or rangers are near. If anyone seems upset or gripes about you being au naturel, be sure to suit up fast since the authorities will bust naturists if they see them or they receive complaints. The good news: usually, only a few citations a year are issued at Fort Funston, so if you are discreet and stay in the dunes, you may be rewarded with a suntan without lines.

Directions: From San Francisco, go west to Ocean Beach, then south on the Great Highway. After Sloat Boulevard, the road heads uphill. From there, curve right onto Skyline Boulevard, go past one stoplight, and look for signs for Funston on the right. Turn into the public lot and find a space near the west side. At the southwest end, take the sandy steps to the beach, turn right, and walk to the dunes. Find a spot as far as possible from the parking lot.




Imagine tromping in the East Bay Hills naked at night, guided only by your flashlight and a representative of the Bay Area Naturists group, plus a few fellow travelers. And yes, mooning during America’s only Full Moon Hikes is permitted. “Those who haven’t experienced these incredibly beautiful, if slightly challenging hikes to the ridge at sunset really ought to put this on their calendar this year,” says organizer Dave Smith, of San Leandro, who’ll be leading trips starting at a Castro Valley nudist club on Saturday, July 20, leaving at 7pm (there will be a potluck earlier), and Sunday, August 18, departing around 6:30pm.

“It’s one of the greatest hikes in the Bay Area, rivaling any I know of,” tells Smith. “It’s right up there with the Palomarin Trail (from the Bolinas area, passing Bass Lake and Pelican Lake, to Alamere Falls, on the coast), the Cascades, and others. The walk is not hard, but it is challenging. We take it slow so everyone can make it. So far, no one has ever been hurt.”

“We usually leave an hour and a half before sunset and hike up to the top to catch the sunset and moonrise and then come back down in the moonlight,” he adds.

“Whether you are clothed or not, participating in the Full Moon Hike is a big treat,” says past hiker Jurek Zarzycki, who suggests walkers bring good hiking shoes, a flashlight (“Most of the time you won’t need it, because of the moonlight”), and bug spray. “And don’t forget to have some baby carrots with you to give to the horses that sometimes come out at night, so close that you may even feel their breath. Don’t worry, though, they’re very friendly.”

Organized by the Sequoians Naturist Club and the Bay Area Naturists, based in San Jose, walkers leave the property of The Sequoians fully clothed at dusk and walk through meadows and up hills until the moon rises, before heading back down the slopes completely nude, with their clothes folded neatly into their backpacks.

Directions: Contact the Sequoians ( or the Bay Area Naturists ( for details on how to join a walk. Meet at the Sequoians. To get there, take Highway 580 east to the Crow Canyon Road exit. Or follow 580 west to the first Castro Valley off-ramp. Take Crow Canyon Road toward San Ramon .75 mile to Cull Canyon Road. Then follow Cull Canyon Road around 6.5 miles to the end of the paved road. Take the dirt road on the right until the “Y” in the road and keep left. Shortly after, you’ll see The Sequoians sign. Proceed ahead for about another .75 mile to The Sequoians front gate.




Despite the opening of the Tom Lantos Tunnels on March 25, 2013, nearby Gray Whale Cove, also known as Devil’s Slide, continues to function — and may, state officials think, soon attract even more visitors than in previous years. The reason: crowds soon will be coming not only to the beach, but also to a mile-long stretch of the old Highway 1 that was circumvented by the tunnels and is being turned into a walking and biking trail; it’s expected to open soon. To handle the larger attendance, workers will build new parking lots on either side of the highway, giving Devil’s Slide a parking area on the ocean side for the first time. The current parking lot on the east side of Highway 1 is still open. “We will also be improving the stairway (leading down to the beach),” says San Mateo coast state parks sector superintendent Paul Keel. Best of all, traditional use of the beach for clothing-optional sunbathing has been continuing, with few problems. “We’re not having an increase in (complaint) calls there,” says Keel.

Directions: Driving from San Francisco, take Highway 1 south through Pacifica. Three miles south of the Denny’s restaurant in Linda Mar, at 500 Linda Mar Blvd., Pacifica, and just past and south of the Tom Lantos Tunnels, turn left (inland or east) on an unmarked road, which takes you to the beach’s parking lot on the east side of the highway and to a 146-step staircase that leads to the sand. Another lot will “eventually” be opened on the ocean side (please see above). Coming from the south on Highway 1, look for a road on the right (east), 1.2 miles north of the old Chart House restaurant in Montara. Most naturists use the north end of the beach, which is separated by rocks from the rest of the shore. Wait until low tide to make the crossing to the nude area.



Now in its 47th year of operation, America’s oldest nude beach even has its own website and live webcam at The privately-run site is located next to San Gregorio State Beach. The beach often draws a large gay crowd, along with some nude and suited straight couples, singles, and families. On your first visit, though, you may be a little shocked by the provocative behavior that is sometimes happening in the driftwood structures on the slope leading down to the beach. Their walls aren’t completely closed. Some users even want passersby to observe them having sex inside the so-called “sex condos,” including Kerry, from San Francisco, who told us about her October 2012 visit with her partner, Lisa: “It was an exciting time. We’ve been to the beach six times. We have had men wander by and try not to stare. Other times, we have had men that more or less sneak up and peek through the wood at us while we are having sex. One time, we had three men who stood 15 feet away and watched intently as we went at it. We have not met anybody that we consider creepy. In fact, there have never been any words exchanged at all.”

Directions: From San Francisco, drive south on Highway 1, past Half Moon Bay, and, between mileposts 18 and 19, look on the right side of the road for telephone call box number SM 001 0195, at the intersection of Highway 1 and Stage Road, and near an iron gate with trees on either side. From there, expect a drive of 1.1 miles to the entrance. At the Junction 84 highway sign, the beach’s driveway is just .1 mile away. Turn into a gravel driveway, passing through the iron gate mentioned above, which says 119429 on the gatepost. Drive past a grassy field to the parking lot, where you’ll be asked to pay an entrance fee. Take the long path from the lot to the sand; everything north of the trail’s end is clothing-optional (families and swimsuit using visitors tend to stay on the south end of the beach). The beach is also accessible from the San Gregorio State Beach parking area to the south; from there, hike about a half-mile north. Take the dirt road past the big white gate with the Toll Road sign to the parking lot.




Are you looking for a gorgeous place to have a picnic? If you’re in the Bay Area, you won’t have to travel far to find the Golden State’s version of the Garden of Eden, a creekside skinny-dipping spot located in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, between Santa Cruz and Felton. Used even more by suited swimmers and sunbathers, many hikers are surprised when they come across naturists at the stream. Eden gets mixed reviews by visitors: some parts of the trail may be slippery, so watch your step and keep your eyes out for poison oak. To find Eden and two other clothing-optional swim holes on San Lorenzo River, check for vehicles pulled over on Highway 9, alongside the state park, which forbids nudity but only occasionally patrols the creek with rangers.

Directions: From Santa Cruz, drive north on Highway 9 and look for turnouts on the right side of the road, where cars are pulled over. The first, a wide turnout with a tree in the middle, is just north of Santa Cruz. Rincon Fire Trail starts about where the tree is, according to reader Robert Carlsen, of Sacramento. The many forks in the trail all lead to the river, down toward Big Rock Hole and Frisbee Beach; Carlsen says the best area off this turnout can be reached by bearing left until the end of the trail. Farther up the highway, 1.3 miles south of the park entrance, is the second and bigger pullout, called the Ox Trail Turnout, leading to Garden of Eden. Park in the turnout and follow the dirt fire road downhill and across some railroad tracks. Head south, following the tracks, for around .5 miles. Look for a “Pack Your Trash” sign with park rules and hours and then proceed down the Eden Trail.

Ox Trail, which can be slippery, and Eden Trail both wind down steeply to the creek. “The path continues to the left, where there are several spots for wading and sunbathing,” Carlsen says. The main beach is only 75 feet long and 30 feet wide, but fairly sandy. Carlsen’s favorite hole is accessible from a trail that starts at the third turnout, a small one on the right side of the road, about 4.5 miles from Highway 1 and just before Felton. A gate marks the start of the path. The trail bends left. When you come to the road again, go right. At the railroad tracks, go right. From here, look for the river down the hill on your left; many paths lead to it. Says Mike: “Within 10 yards, you can be in the water.”



Were anti-nudity signs really recently posted at Bonny Doon Beach, whose north end has been used for clothing optional sunbathing for decades? Yes, but officials took the warnings, which were placed at two trailheads leading to the sand, down just two months later. “We’re not planning to change anything,” says Chet Bardo, superintendent of state beaches in the Santa Cruz district. “The truth is that we get complaints on all sides of this issue. It’s not uncommon to get calls from people. This is California, after all, so what to local people might seem not that unusual sometimes turns out to shock people who are visiting from Iowa, who find it (nudity) a bit disconcerting.”

“The way I see it, unless there’s a problem (happening at the beach), it’s not a problem to us,” he adds. In fact, the only problem at Bonny Doon this year is that it has less sand than usual. A 15-foot long rock on the sand, along with a sloping cliff with rocks that jut out, separate the two sides of the cove — one clothed for clothed visitors and the other for nudes — known as Bonny Doon.

“In the short term, things at Bonny Doon are destined to continue the way they are,” says Kirk Lingenfelter, sector superintendent for Bonny Doon and nearby state beaches. “Ultimately it would be nice to see some level of improvement, maybe trail work or stair work,” adds Lingenfelter. “But before we’d even do that, there would need to be a General Plan or an Interim Use Plan, which we don’t have. And we also don’t have any funding for it.”

As for nudity, Lingenfelter says his rangers, who periodically patrol the beach, haven’t issued a single warning or citation for nudity since the state approved the acquisition of the beach in 2006. “We’ll respond to complaints we receive,” he explains, “but I can’t recall (receiving) a single complaint.”

Directions: From San Francisco, go south on Highway 1 to the Bonny Doon parking lot at milepost 27.6 on the west side of the road, 2.4 miles north of Red, White, and Blue Beach, and some 11 miles north of Santa Cruz. From Santa Cruz, head north on Highway 1 until you see Bonny Doon Road, which veers off sharply to the right just south of Davenport. The beach is just off the intersection. Park in the paved lot to the west of Highway 1; don’t park on Bonny Doon Road or the shoulder of Highway 1. If the lot is full, drive north on Highway 1, park at the next beach lot, and walk back to the first lot. Or take Santa Cruz Metro Transit District bus route 40 to the lot; it leaves the Metro Center three times a day on Saturdays and takes about 20 minutes. To get to the beach, climb the berm next to the railroad tracks adjacent to the Bonny Doon lot, cross the tracks, descend, and take a recently improved, sign-marked trail to the sand. Walk north past most of the beach to the nude cove on the north end. Alternately, Dusty suggests parking as far north as possible, taking the northern entrance, and, with good shoes, following a “rocky and steep” walk down to the sand.



Aptly named 2222, a mini-nude beach that takes its title from the house across the street, is still beautiful, still hidden from most passersby, and still attracts a small crowd of regular visitors who are in good enough shape to handle its sketchy, foreboding-looking path.

One of America’s smallest nude beaches, 2222 is so tiny it could probably fit in your yard. And that’s what makes it such a special place. You won’t see many people on the sand, which takes scrambling to reach and isn’t recommended for children or anyone who isn’t a good hiker. However, those who are able to make it down a sharp-angled cliff and past several concrete blocks on the way down may like the quiet and solitude that the beach offers. The most dependable trail begins on the southeast corner of the hillside overlooking the site. Even though there’s a walking path just above it, the beach can’t be seen from there. College students like to hangout here and, if they’re lucky, get a glimpse of a local juggler who sometimes practices his routines on the sand. Tip: for great accommodations, check out the West Cliff Inn, 174 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, a bed and breakfast inn located a few blocks to the south; it’s somewhat pricey, but truly enjoyable.

Directions: The beach is a few blocks west of Natural Bridges State Beach and about 2.5 miles north of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. From either north or south of Santa Cruz, take Highway 1 to Swift Street. Drive .8 miles to the sea, then turn right on West Cliff Drive. 2222 is five blocks away. Past Auburn Avenue, look for 2222 West Cliff on the inland side of the street. Park in the pullout with eight parking spaces next to the cliff, on the west side of the road. If it’s full, continue straight and park along Chico Avenue. An overlook with two benches facing an interesting obelisk-style sculpture — where my girlfriend and I sat last year — is located between the parking area and the edge of the cliff. Bay Area Naturists leader Rich Pasco suggests visitors use care and then follow the path on the side of the beach closest to downtown Santa Cruz and the Municipal Wharf.



Want to visit a beach with great sand and surf, plus a mix of suited and naked users? This year, the charge remains $100 — or $50 if you live nearby — for all the visits you want to make to Privates, which is one of the county’s best beaches, until May 31. If you go daily for a year, that’s about 27 cents a day. But there are also several ways people have used to circumvent the fee, which we explain below. Visitors include nudists, surfers, families, and local residents. “Everyone gets along,” says Brittney Barrios, manager/buyer of Freeline Design Surf Shop, which sells up to 600 beach passes to Privates a year. “It’s always very peaceful.”

“There’s a great swell happening here,” says a surfer we interviewed this summer. Security guards plus a locked gate keep most troublemakers out. With almost no litter or loud noise, and less wind than most local beaches, the site almost always provides a pleasant atmosphere for users. Do you want to bring your dog? It’s OK too.

To catch a game of Nude Frisbee or to start one, when you reach the bottom of the beach stairs, walk to the left until you see some people who aren’t wearing part or all of their swimsuits.

Directions: 1) Some visitors walk north from Capitola Pier in low tide (not a good idea since at least four people have needed to be rescued). 2) Others reach it in low tide via the stairs at the end of 41st Avenue, which lead to a surf spot called the Hook at the south end of a rocky shore known as Pleasure Point. 3) Surfers paddle on boards for a few minutes to Privates from Capitola or the Hook. 4) Most visitors buy a key to the beach gate for $100 a year at Freeline (821 41st Ave., Santa Cruz, 831-476-2950) 1.5 blocks west of the beach. Others go with someone with a key or wait outside the gate until a person with a key goes in, provided a security guard is not present (they often are there). “Most people will gladly hold the gate open for someone behind them whose hands are full,” says Bay Area Naturists leader Rich Pasco. The nude area starts to the left of the bottom of the stairs.




“The lake was great,” says regular user Dave Smith, of San Leandro, about his visit to Bass Lake, near Bolinas, this year. “It was during spring break, so there were a lot of people on the trail that day. But we weren’t the only ones who were naked in the water. Several people were skinny dipping besides us.” Others, who don’t necessarily go nude, love Bass too, which, by the way, does not have any bass. San Rafael resident Marie described her November visit as “awe-inspiring” on a message board. She said the walk to get there “was worth every minute … the water while cool was exhilarating. I can’t wait to go back.” And Cindi, of San Anselmo, found the setting to be “rejuvenating, awesome, stunning, orgasmic … I would do it again and again.” Bass doesn’t attract as many nudists as it did 10 years ago. “When I first went, everybody was nude,” says Smith. “Today, though, you have to feel pretty comfortable with your own nudity to swim that way at the lake.”

Directions: Allow about an hour for the drive from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. From Stinson Beach, go north on Highway 1. Just north of Bolinas Lagoon, turn left on the often-unmarked exit to Bolinas. Follow the road as it curves along the lagoon and eventually ends at Olema-Bolinas Road. Continue along Olema-Bolinas Road to the stop sign at Mesa Road. Turn right on Mesa and drive four miles until it becomes a gravel road and ends at the Palomarin parking lot. On hot days the lot fills quickly, so come early. Says Smith: “We once saw hundreds of cars.” A sign at the trailhead next to the lot will guide you down scenic Palomarin Trail to the lake. For directions to incredibly beautiful Alamere Falls, 1.5 miles past Bass Lake, which empties onto a beach at the sea, please see “Elsewhere In Marin” in our online listings.



The beach is in good shape this year. Warmer than usual weather in spring brought more people — 80 on one day — onto the sand earlier than usual, but, due to higher gas prices and a rough economy, crowd sizes remain down from a decade ago. “We’ve had fewer gawkers too,” says veteran visitor Fred Jaggi. “The beach is the mellowest it’s ever been.” If gawking remains down, then it would bring welcome relief. A 2012 visitor estimated the site had “25 percent nasty creeper grossness.” In another improvement, the trail is getting rave reviews. Foliage along the path has been pruned back since last year. “It’s clean of poison oak,” says Jaggi. “It’s a really easy walk now,” adds another visitor, Michael Velkoff. “You can’t beat it. I wear my sandals down there (instead of hiking shoes) while carrying a chair and backpack. If I can walk back up the trail at the end of the day, anyone can do it.” Rock climbing continues to be popular. Ultimate Frisbee, Double Disc Court (you throw two Frisbees at once), Befuddle (players toss the first disc softer and the second one harder), Nude Hearts, and Naked Scrabble are some of the other favorite pursuits on the sand. Tips: visit when the tide is low or early in the day; come before noon for the best parking. For the most sand space, drop by on a Monday, known as “Club Day” to the repeat visitors who like to gather then. And, if possible, bring a folding beach chair.

Directions: Go north on Highway 1 from Mill Valley, following the signs to Stinson Beach. At the long line of mailboxes next to the Muir Beach cutoff point, start checking your odometer. Look for a dirt lot full of cars to the left (west) of the highway 5.6 miles north of Muir and a smaller one on east side of the road. The lots are at milepost 11.3, one mile south of Stinson Beach. Limited parking is also available 150 yards to the south on the west side of Highway 1. Or from Mill Valley, take the West Marin/Bolinas Stage toward Stinson Beach and Bolinas. Get off at the intersection of Panoramic Highway and Highway 1. Then walk south .6 mile to the Red Rock lots. Follow the long, steep path to the beach that starts near the Dumpster next to the main parking lot.



Although the public part of Muir Beach has been closed since July 8, the small, quarter-moon shaped, clothing-optional beach just to the north of it is still technically open. This summer, the site was attracting 30-40 people a day, although it may get 100 on hot days. It’s one of the only Bay Area nude beaches that receives nearly as many female visitors as males. A variety of people share the cove, which has a more serene and less social atmosphere than nearby Red Rock. Finding it is usually easy: you park at the main Muir lot, walk north on the sand, cross over some rocks, and you’re there. Now, though, during improvement work lasting until November, visitors can’t park near Muir or enter it by foot. To reach the naked beach, you’ll need to hike up to several hours and not be able to use restrooms or garbage cans, which are ringed with fences. Once there, you must continue to the nude beach without stopping on the main beach, even to admire the view or swim in the water, or you will be cited.

Directions until 11/10: 1) Take the Coastal Trail to Muir Beach from the Tennessee Valley trailhead, then walk north until you come to a line of rocks marking the start of the nude area. Walk over the rocks. The roundtrip loop is just under 8 miles. See our web listings for details. 2) A hike of up to 30 minutes on the Coastal Trail begins at the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, at 1601 Shoreline Highway, off Highway 1 just south of Muir Beach. But the Center’s parking lot is tiny, costs single-occupant drivers $5 to use on Sundays (when participation in the Center’s program is requested) and isn’t open to the public on weekdays or Saturdays, so staff are strongly discouraging its use for Muir access during the beach’s closure. Our online report has more info. 3) If you live on Cove Lane, near Pacific Way, you can still access the beach from Cove. Nonresidents can’t park on Cove Lane, Pacific Way, or other nearby streets during the closure period. Starting 11/10: From San Francisco, take Highway 1 north to Muir Beach, to milepost 5.7. Turn left on Pacific Way and park in the Muir lot (to avoid tickets, don’t park on Pacific). Or park on the street off Highway 1 across from Pacific and about 100 yards north. From the Muir lot, follow a path and boardwalk to the sand. Then walk north to a pile of rocks between the cliffs and the sea. You’ll need good hiking or walking shoes to cross; in very low tide, try to cross closer to the water. The nude area starts north of it.



In a 1998 movie, visiting Jamaica was How Stella Got Her Groove Back. But if you’d like to revitalize your life, all you may need to do is spend an afternoon at awe-inspiring RCA Beach. Even though the site is isolated, don’t try to have sex on the sand; rangers ticketed at least one person for engaging in public sex here last fall. A single stopover at this relaxing oasis of tranquility will probably inspire you to keep coming back. “It hasn’t changed in decades,” says regular visitor Michael Velkoff. One problem: the cove is exposed to the wind. The good news is that there are lots of nooks that are sheltered from the wind. Some nooks, though, provide good shelter from the periodic breezes. Plus there’s so much driftwood on the sand that many people build windbreaks or even whole forts. Suited and unsuited men and women and families visit the shoreline. The beach seems far bigger than its one mile length because everyone is usually spread out on the sand. Adds Velkoff: “We’ll see six people on a Sunday. Everybody’s 30 yards apart. It’s amazing.”

Directions: From Stinson Beach, take Highway 1 (Shoreline Highway) north toward Calle Del Mar for 4.5 miles. Turn left onto Olema Bolinas Road and follow it 1.8 miles to Mesa Road in Bolinas. Turn right and stay on Mesa until you see cars parked past some old transmission towers. Park and walk .25 miles to the end of the pavement. Go left through the gap in the fence. The trail leads to a gravel road. Follow it until you see a path on your right, leading through a gate. Take it along the cliff top until it veers down to the beach. Or continue along Mesa until you come to a grove of eucalyptus trees. Enter through the gate here, then hike .5 miles through a cow pasture on a path that will also bring you through thick brush. The second route is slippery and eroding, but less steep. “It’s shorter, but toward the end there’s a rope for you to hold onto going down the cliff,” tells Velkoff.




Would you like to walk a mile wearing nothing but your smile? At lovely Limantour, in Point Reyes National Seashore, you can do just that. Bring a pair of binoculars for watching birds, seals, and other wildlife. “I’ve been going there this year since the spring,” says Lucas Valley’s Michael Velkoff. “There are always whales and dolphins off shore, but recently we’ve been seeing porpoises too. It’s so beautiful at Limantour. I just head away from any people and put my towel down in the dunes or against a wall. A friend went a few days ago. Even though it was windy, she was very comfortable in the dunes. The best thing is that nobody bothers you. Of course, I carry a pair of shorts, just in case I need to put them on. I love it at Limantour. Plus it has tons of nice sand.” The long shoreline is one of America’s most beautiful beaches, yet few visitors realize the narrow spit of sand, between Drakes Bay and an estuary, is clothing-optional. The site is so big — about 2.5 miles in length — you can wander for hours, checking out ducks and other waterfowl, shorebirds such as snowy plovers (if you are lucky enough to see these endangered birds on the north end of the beach), gray whales (including mothers and their calves during spring), and playful harbor seals (offshore and at the north edge of the sand). Dogs are allowed on six-foot leashes on the south end of the beach.

Directions: From San Francisco, take Highway 101 north to the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard exit, then follow Sir Francis through San Anselmo and Lagunitas to Olema. At the intersection with Highway 1, turn right onto 1. Just north of Olema, go left on Bear Valley Road. A mile after the turnoff for the Bear Valley Visitor Center, turn left (at the Limantour Beach sign) on Limantour Road and follow it 11 miles to the parking lot at the end. Walk north a half-mile until you see some dunes about 50 yards east of the shore. Nudists usually prefer the valleys between the dunes for sunbathing. “One Sunday we had 200 yards to ourselves,” Velkoff says. But lately, the dunes have been more crowded.






















































Small Business Commissioners support Pet Food Express over local stores


San Francisco’s Small Business Commission has recently come under fire for its promotion of corporate interests and, most recently, advocating for an allegedly predatory pet store chain known as Pet Food Express.

In 2009, the Small Business Commission voted in favor of denying Pet Food Express’ application for a location on Lombard Street in the Marina District. Subsequently, the Planning Commission also denied the request, seemingly blocking Pet Food Express’ efforts to set up shop in the Marina. 

San Francisco’s formula retail legislation requires chain stores like Pet Food Express to apply for a conditional use permit in order to receive approval for opening new locations.

But now, Pet Food Express is back after recently filing another identical application with the SBC for the exact same spot on Lombard Street, and this time some members of the SBC are oddly supporting the chain.

As Pam Habel, owner of local Marina pet store Catnip & Bones, pointed out at the commission meeting on June 10, Pet Food Express already has a location on California Street just one mile away. At the same meeting, Susan Landry, owner of another Marina pet store, Animal Connection, added that nothing has changed in the past four years that would point toward the Marina community needing or wanting this Pet Food Express, since four pet-related stores exist within a mile of the proposed Lombard Street location.

“We were really surprised and disappointed that the commission no longer seemed to be an advocate of small business and even made comments indicating sympathy for the big chain pet store,” Habel and Landry, told the Bay Guardian jointly via email. “Commissioner Adams even said it seemed unfair to him to penalize a business that had started out small and now are being victimized for their success since they are one of the largest pet store chains in the U.S.”

So what has changed since 2009 that is now making the SBC consider supporting the proposed Pet Food Express? For one, Mayor Ed Lee’s corporate-friendly appointees to the SBC, including developer Luke O’Brien and President Stephen Adams, a manager for Sterling Bank & Trust.

Additionally, San Francisco Animal Care and Control Director Rebecca Katz lobbied for approval of the Pet Food Express while holding a blind Chihuahua adorned with a sweater at the June 10 meeting. Katz cited Pet Food Express’ many financial contributions to her agency as reasoning behind supporting the chain’s new location and expansion. According to Animal Care and Control spokeswoman Deb Campbell, Pet Food Express donates an estimated $50,000 to $70,000 in supplies annually to the city department.

“The more business Pet Food Express does, the more they grow and the more they give back to the community,” Katz told the Bay Guardian. “We take in about 10,000 animals a year on a budget of about $40 million.”

Kathleen Dooley, one of the SBC’s few existing members still in favor of promoting local business over big business, met Katz’s lobbying with criticism.

“She went up and lobbied for Pet Food Express and implied if it wasn’t for them no pets would be adopted and the animal world would be in chaos,” Dooley told the Bay Guardian. “They already have a number of stores in San Francisco, but they act as if this one on Lombard would change the tide.”

But Katz says that her public promotion of Pet Food Express is not lobbying. “I spoke to the Ethics Commission and they told me it is okay for me to talk about what Pet Food Express does for us,” said Katz.

Few of the arguments in favor of the Pet Food Express’s intrusion into the Marina actually acknowledge the store’s potential detrimental impact on the existing local businesses. Katz even publically said she thought it was ironic to protest another corporation coming into the Marina, where so many chain businesses already exist.

“The size of the Lombard location would allow for an adoption center which would have a huge impact,” said Katz. “Whereas residents have to drive to the California Street location, now they could walk.”

Unfortunately for local Marina businesses, the SBC, whose professed goal is to “work to support and enhance an environment where small businesses can succeed and flourish,” may be doing just the opposite by supporting a chain business that will undoubtedly endanger the many locally owned pet stores.

“As small businesses in San Francisco, we rely on the SBC as our voice at City Hall, not as a sympathetic voice for chain stores,” said Habel and Landry. “Because of their response last month, we no longer feel that we can look to the SBC to support small business in San Francisco.”

In her presentation before the commission, Landry drew an analogy to the previous opening of a Blockbuster on Lombard Street. Following the corporation’s entrance into the community, all four independent video stores in Cow Hollow closed within a year.

At the same meeting, Commissioner Mark Dwight acknowledged the predatory nature of Pet Food Express, who has sat on the same property for four years in order to continuously rally support in favor of the proposed location.

The pet supply stores in the Marina could face the same fate as the local video rental shops if Pet Food Express succeeds in opening on Lombard Street.

“When chain stores go in, commercial rents go up and the small mom and pop businesses are priced out of the neighborhood and replaced by even more chain stores as they are the only ones who, with their corporate structures, can easily afford high rents,” said Landry and Habel. “This is about more than one Pet Food Express application on Lombard, this is part of our battle to retain the heart and soul of our neighborhood commercial corridors.”

On the Cheap listings


For information on how to submit events for listing consideration, see the guidelines in Selector.


Bike to work day Various SF locations. 5:30am-7pm, free. Trade in a cramped morning Muni commute for an open-air bike ride today in honor of bike to work day. The SF Bicycle Coalition knows biking the hills of SF is not always an easy task, which is why it has set up 26 "energizer stations" all around the city to serve free snacks, beverages, and reusable, goodie-filled tote bags to use on your to-and-froms. Check the Coalition’s site to find a station along your regular route.

Thirsty Thursday Toga Party Atmosphere, 447 Broadway, SF. 9:30pm, free. RSVP required. Revive your Animal House-esque days with a toga party. Travelers, locals, au pairs, and international students will be decked out in the finest bed sheets around. Show up before 10pm and score a free bingo card with a $3 shot offered every time you check off a square.

Britweek Design Series San Francisco Design Center, 2 Henry Adams, SF. 4:30-10pm, $20-25 advance. The British-American Business Council hosts this design-driven evening. The event will kick off with a panel of British and American architects and interior designers, followed by a second international panel of innovators working in product design and technology, finishing up with an after party at Project One Gallery, just down the street from the design center.


Spirit: A Century of Queer Asian Activism Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission, SF. 8pm, $12-20. Queer Rebels’ organization for queer artists of color brings movers and shakers of the community together to celebrate 100 years of queer Asian activism. The two-day event begins tonight with performances by Eli-Coppola award winning poet Ryka Aoki, performance artist Genevieve Erin O’Brien, and more. The festivities will continue tomorrow night with a panel discussion and film screenings.


Pet Week kick-off Little Marina Green, Marina and Baker, SF. 11am-3pm, free. Soak up some sun and get your puppy fix today at Pet Week’s kick-off event. Bring your favorite four-legged friend for free microchipping, watch police K-9s show off their detective skills, pick up some free goodies for Fido, and maybe even adopt a new friend. Pet adoption will be available from eight organizations including Pets Unlimited, Muttville, and Rocket Dog Rescue.

Bluegrass Pickin’ Picnic Dahlia Picnic Area, Golden Gate Park, SF. Noon-6pm, free. If you’re a fan of Golden Gate Park and bluegrass but the giant mobs of the Hardly Strictly festival bruise your gentle nerves, here is your second chance. Sponsored by the California Bluegrass Association, this afternoon is an open jam session for all who play or just like listening to bluegrass. Set up your picnic blanket early and score some free hamburgers and hot dogs while supplies last.


Wanderlust Festival Marina Green. 12-5pm, free. Register online. If the daily grind of city life is taking its toll, head over to the Marina for a stress-relieving day of yoga and music. The day will begin with yoga sessions led by Pradeep Teotia and Susan Hauser, Lululemon 2012 ambassador. The evening will conclude with musical performances by DJ Drez and the fittingly named MC Yogi.


Cakespy book signing Book Passage, 1 Ferry Building, SF. 6pm, free. Ever been stuffing your face with a red velvet cupcake or Girl Scout cookie and wondered where the recipe originated? Self proclaimed "dessert detective" Jessie Oleson Moore has these answers and more in her new book The Secret Lives of Baked Goods: Sweet Stories & Recipes from America’s Favorite Desserts. Head over to the Ferry Building to meet Moore and get a signed copy of this sweet literary treat.

"Ask a Scientist: Origins of the Universe" SoMa StrEat Food Park, 428 11th St., SF. In this lecture hosted by UC Berkeley Professor Eliot Quataert science fanatics will learn how the universe evolved from its smooth beginnings to its current state. Quataert will focus on how gravity reigns supreme and builds up the planets, stars, and galaxies required for biological evolution. If digesting all this scientific chatter works up an appetite, fuel up at one of the ten gourmet food trucks at SoMa StrEat Food Park.

Secret San Francisco: Adventures in History Balboa Theatre, 3630 Balboa, SF. 6:30pm, $10. The history of the downtown neighborhoods of San Francisco are well photographed and documented, but head further west and things tend to get a bit foggy. That’s where the Western Neighborhood Projects comes in. The nonprofit has been documenting all things west of Stanyan Street since 1999. Head to the Balboa Theatre tonight for a dose of SF history — west and east — short films, archival TV footage, and other historic surprises.

Internet cats, in their own words: Luna the Fashion Kitty


While writing this week’s Pets Issue cover story on world domination by Internet-famous cat magnates — or the “Cat Pack,” as they will forever after be dubbed thanks to the quick linguistic thinking of Mike “Owner of Lil Bub” Bridavsky during our interview for the piece — a certain fashion icon was never far from my mind.

Luna the Fashion Kitty is hardly the most famous Internet cat, but her cross-eyed good looks, coupled with owner Rocio Grijalva’s ability to get her to wear tutus and hairbows, is to me emblematic of the American Dream. Let the fact that Luna hails from the city of Hermosillo, in the Mexican state of Sonora allow you to draw your own conclusions about the continued cultural relevancy of that trope.

Read about Grijalva’s motivations behind hyping Luna to the world in the cover story. But right now, take a moment to hear directly from Luna herself about what its like to be “a face fur to be admired,” as she herself put it when we chatted via email about the time commitment necessary to be an Internet cat in this brave new era. She also schooled me on the hautest pet brands today, should I ever be in the company of an animal as glorious as herself. [Sic]: 

And stay tuned, we’ll be dropping our Colonel Meow interview this week…

SFBG: Describe the average day in the life of Luna. 

LTFK: I wake up my daddy fur get my morning massage, then I like to do more beauty sleep. Around 10am my assistant brushes me, does my eye treatment fur tear stains (it’s like the Botox ritual fur the Housewives of Beverly Hills). I get my teeth cleaned, my outfit it’s carefully picked out (I don’t use the same twice in months), my accessories are the last of course. After 2pm, I usually have my photo shot since the lighting it’s good, I superhate bad lighting. If my momma has errands and I can go I usually tag along. Finally at 8 sharp I have dinner and that’s it fur the day.

SFBG: How much time do you spend on photoshoots?

LTFK: Believe it or not I don’t spend too much time in a photoshoot, when you look LIKE THIS and you pose like a PRO, 15 minutes TOPS it’s all I need.

SFBG: Do you do public appearances? 

LTFK: I’m always in public girl this FACE is fur be admired! I also made a public appearance in a event fur support kitty adoptions and recently I strolled around at Rodeo Drive, CaliFURnia with my furriends Amy and Dawn that volunteer in the Purrsian rescue Helping Persian Cats and we handed many business cards of the Rescue. 

SFBG: Have you ever gone on tour?

LTFK: I haven’t, but I would LOVE to do it and visit all my fans around the world! Well I don’t want to go to the countries that have quarantine because is NO WAY I will stay in a cage like a savage!


SFBG: Who are your favorite designers?

LTFK: I like many designers but unFURtunately they don’t make fur-child clothes, it’s sooo frustrating! So I have to say that my FAVE furchilds brands are SimplyShe, Louis Dog, and Martha Stewart fur commercial pieces. Now, talking couture I love Off the Leash custom pet couture and Ada Nieves designs. 

SFBG: Have you ever met another famous cat? What was that like for you?

LTFK: Nahhh and fur be honest I don’t want to! I’m like Mariah Carey, I don’t like to share my limelight. It’s not that we are Divas per say it’s that it’s rude to be MEGAFAB in front of the wannabes!

SFBG: What does success look like for Luna?

LTFK: Success it’s not something I think about because I was born a winner, so stuffs just happen because of my fabulousness. 

SFBG: Why do you think so much attention is being paid these days to Internet cats?

LTFK: That’s an easy answer, we are WAY more interesting and cute than purrsons. Also we provide a stress release fur everyPAWdy. Do you know how many purrsons are stressed just in the USA? TONS girl and every year gets higher. Bottom line we are not going anywhere our cuteness is the healthy PROZAC!… well at least mine megaultracuteness lol 100 purrcent natural and the only side effect is that you might turn into a cat lady 🙂

UPDATE: Luna responds to a quote in original story from Mike “Bub’s owner” Bridavsky:

Happy Wednesday guys! Guess who is being feature in the SF Bay Guardian?? ME! OMG I just love the cartoon! ps: didn’t appreciate that Bub’s owner said “Bub’s always naked, she doesn’t wear stupid outfits”. Don’t hate if your child it’s a nudist, I never hate on nudist furchilds!

Where the wild dogs are


San Francisco has more dogs than children, which might be a comment on the price of housing — even the largest canine companion doesn’t need a bedroom. But with all of those furry beasts seeking exercise in a dense urban area, the city’s made a point of finding places for dogs to run, romp, and play — with some success, and some … well, not such great success.

We’ve taken on the task of finding some of the best dog parks, and offer this opinionated guide. Remember, not all dog parks are created equal. Some are great if you just want open space to toss a ball; others are better for the dog that likes to wander around and explore. Some are perfect for the social animal that loves lots of canine company; some serve the more solitary types.

Our ratings reflect the level of cleanliness (will I be constantly stepping over, or in, poo?), friendliness (are the park-goers, human and canine, nice to be around and welcoming, or is there a cliquishness or conflicts between different types of users?) and dog-fun terrain (Just dirt? Lots of trees and bushes? Gophers to chase? Water to drink — and play in?)

Results below.


Legal status: City park, off-leash allowed

Cleanliness: 2 paws

Friendliness: 4 paws

Terrain: 3 paws

Lots of room on this often-windy hilltop. Hiking trails offer spectacular city views; paved roads are nice for jogging. Amazing rock formations surround a couple of open flat areas for romping and ball-chasing. Dog and human water fountains. Very friendly; everyone who uses the place is used to off-leash dogs. Sadly, some take the vegetation and rocky hillsides as an excuse not to clean up; if you’re off trail, watch where you step. Entrances at the top of Bernal Heights Boulevard and at Folsom and Ripley.


Legal status: City park, on-leash rules are not tightly enforced

Cleanliness: 3 paws

Friendliness: 3 paws

Terrain: 4 paws

You can walk a few hundred yards into Glen Canyon and feel miles away from the city. The canyon floor, with a creek (mud! exciting!) running through it, is cool and shady with trees, thickets, and blackberries. The hillsides are grassy, steep, and sometimes attract rock climbers. Most days, there are off-leash dogs walking and playing — but there are also picnic areas, ball fields, and a (fenced) kids’ playground where it’s best not to allow dogs to roam freely, and sensitive habitat restoration areas where off-leash dogs can wreak havoc. Sometimes users complain about off-leash dogs; if you keep poochie on leash, it’s still a great hiking area. Absolutely do not let your dog wander off in the deeper parts of the canyon, where coyotes have made a home; it’s best for all parties if they are undisturbed.

The south side of the park is undergoing renovations right now, but you can enter at Diamond Heights and Sussex (watch the traffic, there’s no crosswalk) or at the end of Bosworth.


Legal status: City park, off-leash areas

Cleanliness: 3 paws

Friendliness: 3 paws

Terrain: 3 paws

The second-largest park in the city is often overlooked, but it’s got some nice wooded trails — and the only pond in the city where dogs are actually allowed to go swimming. It’s not a nasty, slimy-covered puddle, either; the water’s clear and there’s a (concrete) doggie beach where your canine can ease into a dip. It’s shallow enough near shore for those with short legs and deep enough and long enough for the big dogs to have a nice refreshing swim or practice their water-retrieval skills. There’s some misinformation on the web about how to find the dog-swim area. You don’t want McNabb Lake, on the east side of the park; that’s a playground and picnic area with a nice duck pond where dogs are not terribly welcome. The parking lot for the dog area is off the westernmost part of the John F. Shelley loop, near the big blue water tower. You can see the pond from the road, and it’s a very short walk down. Bring a towel and be prepared to get wet; humans can’t swim there, but the beach is small and wet doggies love to shake.

John F. Shelley Drive.


Legal status: City park, off-leash area

cleanliness: 2 paws

Friendliness: 2 paws

Terrain: 2 paws

This popular spot used to be called “dog shit park.” It’s the place where Harvey Milk famously announced his legislation mandating that people pick up their canine companions’ stinky piles. It’s a lot better now — in fact, this is a rare place where the interaction between dogs and children is well-managed and everyone seems happy. The kids are fenced off in the upper area, the dogs run free in the lower area, and people just out for some sun sit in between. Still: watch where you walk. The ghost of Harvey’s soiled shoe remains.

The dogs here tend to be a bit rambunctious, perhaps because of the limited space, so don’t be surprised if a few more aggressive ones bound up to you as you enter, which can intimidate the more skittish of both species. The (human) regulars tend to know each other. McKinley School’s Dog Fest turns the place into a grand celebration of the canine spirit every spring.

Duboce Avenue and Noe.


Legal status: National park, off-leash areas (for now)

Cleanliness: 3 paws

Friendliness: 3 paws

Terrain: 4 paws

The walkable trails — surrounded by lush trees, non-native plants, and flora — that lead down to sandy dunes, cliffs, and Ocean Beach itself make up Fort Funston, a former military base, and current highly traveled dog park. In fact, it’s one of the Bay Area’s most popular mixed-use canine-friendly sites, usually sweeping the Bay Woof’s Beast of the Bay awards, this year winning “Best Hiking Trail” and a runner-up for best overall dog park. There are multiple pathways to explore, great views, and a few doggie amenities along the way. On the rare warm weekend (always with a breeze), there might be dozens of pups lapping up the cooling dribble of water from one of the small water fountains. It gets crowded (some dog owners say it’s too crowded) on the weekends, but is less congested during the week. The off-leash factor is also currently up for review, so those in charge caution owners to pick up after and keep a close eye on their pets. It’s part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and is operated under the authority of the National Park Service.

Park in the lot off Skyline Boulevard.


Legal status: City park, west half is off-leash.

Cleanliness: 4 paws

Friendliness: 3 paws

Terrain: 2 paws

The dogs atop the sloping west side of Alamo Square Park like to play — and they do so in the rather small dirt-and-grass area allotted for off-leash fun. It’s typically a hyper bunch of small pups, chasing, fetching, leaping after frisbees, and entwining regulars in the old twisted leash dance on the vertical pull up the hill. Thankfully, the typically business and/or tech-veering dog owners in Alamo Square are usually quite friendly, pick up after their pets, and won’t give you side-eye if your darling drools on another’s chew toy. There’s also a water fountain for thirsty pups and a give one/take one plastic doo-doo bag stand at the base of the hill. But be forewarned, the other side of that hill is the one with the classic SF view of the Painted Ladies, so it’s where tour buses dump the masses for photos ops. Fido is less than welcome there without a leash, and it can get scary for less sociable pups. Plus, just below, the park dips directly into the busy intersection.

Hayes and Scott.


Legal status: National park, off-leash areas (excluding the Crissy Field Tidal Marsh and Lagoon)

Cleanliness: 3 paws

Friendliness: 4 paws

Terrain: 4 paws

With boardwalk walkways, grassy play areas, a bombshell view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and long stretches of California coast, Crissy Field, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is a frisky pup’s beachy playland. There are even small outdoor showers, specifically for washing the sand off paws, not human feet. The regulars know where to avoid walking without a leash, and will kindly tell you so on arrival. And there’s plenty of room for running, fetching, and playing (canine) or catching up (human). Plus, check out interesting wave formations due to sand bars, and the marshy areas of the former Army airfield, first opened to the public in 2001. There’s also enough sanded open space to keep a distance from other pets, if you’re dog’s the less-than-cordial type.

Beach and Mason, in the Presidio.


Legal status: City park, off-leash

Cleanliness: 2 paws

Friendliness: 2 paws

Terrain: 1 paws

This relatively diminutive fenced enclosure is more typical of suburban neighborhoods — a very pre-planned park feel. Connected to the Noe Valley Recreation Center, it’s helpful that this dog run is in the heart of the city, fully gated, and easy for humans to access, for a quick game of fetch or poop jaunt. The entirely fenced in park is great for new dog owners and those with easily spooked puppies. Weirdly, this kind of enclosure seems a rarity in the city. But other than convenience and safety (both considerably important in the pup playtime world) it offers little amenities to the average pup or companion. Also, there is sometimes a slight urine odor, likely due to the closed in nature, and while friendly, the crowd often seems more focused on getting in and out, quickly.

299 Day.

Blue Angels grounding is a victory for sanity, safety, and peace


Finally, peace in our time. The Blue Angels’ annual Fleet Week assault on San Francisco has finally, blessedly, mercifully been canceled for 2013, the result of $85 billion in federal budget sequestration cuts divided equally between military expenditures and social service spending.

The Guardian has long called for the cancellation of this wasteful show of military might, citing its inherent danger to a dense urban area, wanton waste of resources and fossil fuels, disturbance of the peace and pets, glamourizing of war and its weapons, and its Soviet-style fetishizing of militarism.

But in the end – appropriately and a little ironically – it was conservative fiscal prudence that finally shot down the Blue Angels. The military is already the biggest item in the federal budget, a massive, unjustifiable expenditure caused by imperial over-reach and the bloat of crony capitalism and pork barrel politics. Spending millions more just to show off their toys over scenic San Francisco was the ridiculous cherry on top of that sloppy sundae.

Real people and the real economy are suffering real harm from reckless sequestration cuts to social programs that have been inflicted by the anti-government ideologues sent to DC by the plutocrats and their minions. To keep the Blue Angels flying high against that backdrop would have been simply obscene, and surely a sign of decadent late empire in decay.

This decision by the Navy to nix the Blue Angels is a small but significant sign of sanity in a country gone mad, and the Guardian proudly salutes this decision.