A real dialogue on trans issues


OPINION What I love about the queers in this town is just how messy and offensive we allow one another to be in our unified goal of relentlessly trying to strengthen our community. In some circles, the evolution of dyke space into a multigender population of transsexuals, genderqueers, femmes, tg-butches, bisexuals, lesbians, and men of all birth sexes has led to tension about queer visibility and discussions about misogyny, privilege, and appropriation. I am frequently pissed but never lacking for a group of people who will continue to engage the issues and attempt imperfect solutions no matter how hurt they have become in the process.

And yet, during Pride season there will be countless potentially offensive voices we will not hear. The ex-gay and right-wing Christian movements — arguably homosexual communities in their own right — will not be given unchallenged space at our events, and there won’t be an uproar that these views should be included for the purpose of "fostering dialogue." As many journalists and artists can attest, ensuring the free exchange of ideas often means knowing what to leave out.

Still, it was predictable that supporters of lesbian director Catherine Crouch’s film The Gendercator would claim censorship and blame transgender community allies for "silencing dialogue" when the Frameline International LGBT Film Festival decided last month to pull this film from its June schedule. It was a setup; victims could either remain silent during an attack or speak up and "prove" that they have malicious intentions to take over the world.

For those unfamiliar with The Gendercator, a quick look at Crouch’s film summary and deliberately defamatory director’s note says it all: Trans people are the product of "distorted cultural norms" who uphold antigay values and change their sex "instead of working to change the world." Male-identified trans people are altered lesbians, despite the fact that many have never held that identity. And not even the femme dykes are safe, considering Crouch’s tomboy-or-else definition of acceptable queerdom.

Crouch says the film comes from her anxiety about what she perceives as the loss of gender-variant women and the rise of binary gender norms. But the film itself strikes a different note, depicting trans bodies as sci-fi horrors and trans characters as coercive perpetrators of nonconsensual body invasions — all the familiar rhetoric used to justify antitrans violence and deny basic civil rights.

If there’s a dialogue to be had about our community’s valid anxieties surrounding the spike in sexual reassignment surgeries, it certainly wasn’t raised in Crouch’s The Gendercator. Unlike the creators of other films that have been controversial in the trans community, Crouch is disinterested in the lives of the people she portrays in this work. Imagine making a film alleging an inherent pedophilia in gay people to "spark dialogue" about gay culture’s obsession with eternal youth. As Rae Greiner, a queer woman who launched the Frameline letter-writing campaign, points out, "You can’t foster genuine discussion when you demonize your subjects or when you intentionally forego nuance in favor of stereotypes, false accusations, and outdated perceptions."

In fact, The Gendercator provoked very little dialogue at all until San Francisco activists protested it. Far from trying to silence it, they aimed to call attention to the film and create an actual conversation. They distributed flyers with Crouch’s position and responded with the truth about trans people’s lives: trans people are often queer social-justice activists with a nuanced and feminist view of identity.

The reason nontrans gay people have not seen blatantly antigay or antilesbian films yanked from their festivals is that such movies don’t make it past the selection committee. To decry the ban on The Gendercator is thus disingenuous, particularly when many of the "anticensorship" and "nonbinary" voices support events that ban trans people from attending based on the presence or absence of a penis.

Yet there are some important messages about this film that should not be lost.

First, if our community artists are going to claim dialogue as justification for blatant attacks, then they should expect to have that dialogue. Some of the questions the queer community has posed in its discussion of the film are: Why does Crouch think her views are nonbinary? How do femmes, bisexuals, butches of color, nonop male-identified trans people, and dykes who choose breast cancer reconstruction fit into her limited view of sex and gender? How does the glorification of masculinity in lesbian circles and the sexism in butch and genderqueer communities contribute to this perceived pressure to transition to male?

Most important, if gays and lesbians feel that the growing transgender population means they are under attack, how can we come together to make sure this concern is heard and validated without demonizing one another? Several events exist in San Francisco to deal with such tensions, but perhaps they aren’t reaching the smart and articulate people whose need for real dialogue has been reduced to lamenting the loss of a 15-minute monster movie.

Opposing the inclusion of a deliberately divisive and dialogue-stopping film in an event designed to build community was something we did not do because we don’t want to have a community conversation, but because we do. *

Zak Szymanski

Zak Szymanski is the producer and editor of the short film The Wait.

Flaming creators



They’ve got passion to burn, whether there’s 100 percent pride or a potent dose or two of critical shame in their game. They’re the dozen-plus-one LGBT artists who constitute this year’s lineup of flaming creators — individuals and groups adding radical perversity, butch dyke glitter, b-boy funk, punkified monkey love, dandified bear flair, and more to the Bay Area. It seems apt to pun off the title of Jack Smith’s still-revelatory 1963 film Flaming Creatures in uniting this wildly varied group: all of them ignore or defy the conformist strains of mainstream gay culture to blaze new trails of truth and fantasy.

NAME Keith Aguiar

WHAT I DO Currently, I am photographing a community of queer artists who continue to resist assimilation and express themselves freely without compromise to both hetero and homo normative values that have imprisoned so many of our generation. I want the viewer to enter my world of rich color, texture, and chaos to find the intricate beauty that comes from reconnecting with more primitive forms of expression. More recently my work has been progressing to include portraits, erotic photography, and even a few landscapes. I’m currently seeking funds for my next show and have started to do commissioned work on the side.

MOTTO Create your own reality. Live your own myth. Be your own God.


NAME Emerson Aquino

WHAT I DO I’m cofounder and executive artistic director of the nonprofit professional dance company Funkanometry San Francisco. In 2005, I helped establish the Funksters Youth Dance Company through summer camps and dance-intensive programs. I’ve trained and danced with groups such as 220, Anarchy, Culture Shock Oakland, and SWC and showcased my choreography with Funkanometry SF in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Diego, and Bogotá, Colombia. My most recent project is an all-male performing group called Project EM, featuring 12 principal dancers.

MOTTO Life’s not about how much money you make; it’s about the number of people you inspire.


NAME Dreamboat, Where Are You? (Carrie Baum and Jessica Fudim)

WHAT WE DO We’re a punk pop duo with choreographed vaudevillian antics and a penchant for monkeys, monsters, and Yiddish innuendos. We’ve been described as "the Buzzcocks meet the Muppets." We’ll be leading a Dancers’ Group Rock Theater workshop July 21, and we also have our own projects: Carrie’s Exit Sign: A Rock Opera and Jessica’s dance show Please Feed My Animal will both be previewing at CounterPULSE’s "Rock 4 Art" benefit Aug. 4. (Carrie also runs Big Star Printing; Jessica is a certified Pilates trainer.)

MOTTO Be sure to share your cookies.


NAME Edie Fake

WHAT I DO Food fetish zines (Foie Gras), dirty comics (Gaylord Phoenix, Anal Sex for Perverts, Rico McTaco), apprentice tattoos, perv-formance art, rare appearances, desert adventures, and general feminism.

WORDS OF WISDOM Someone was yelling on the bus the other day that anal sex produces no children.

But that is false!

Anal sex produces


and they grow up to become



NAME James Gobel

WHAT I DO Paint, serve as a member of the California College of the Arts faculty, chub 4 chub.

WORDS OF WISDOM I hope my paintings make people want to be big, bearded, and queer. I could be wrong, but I think it was fellow whiskered gay chubby chaser and one-time San Franciscan Alice B. Toklas who said, "I loves ’em tubby, and so should you!"


NAME David King

WHAT I DO I make collages, which often syncretize the camp and the spiritual. Some of my work can be seen at Ritual on Valencia during June.

WORDS OF WISDOM I don’t have words of wisdom. I have dissertations of wisdom, to which I subject only my most tolerant friends, who have other reasons to love me.


NAME Torsten Kretchzmar

WHAT I DO Present good old electropop music with a German twist.

MOTTO My motto is "I know what girls like." I really do! With the hip music of the Men of Sport, I present this old Waitresses song in my three new video clips. The DVD release party will be Aug. 5 at Club Six, and I expect a lot of guys to show up to find out about my secret.


NAME Dolissa Medina

WHAT I DO Experimental films mostly, but I plan to move into more multimedia and installation work at UC San Diego, where I’ll be starting an MFA program this fall. I’m interested in San Francisco history, Latino and queer experiences, and mapping urban space through mythologized storytelling. Last year I produced Cartography of Ashes for the 100th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake; we projected the film onto the side of a fire station in the Mission District. My film 19: Victoria, Texas will also be on display at Galería de la Raza this August and September.

MOTTO Viva la caca colectiva!


NAME Lacey Jane Roberts

WHAT I DO I make large-scale, site-specific knitted installations that often involve guerrilla action. My work, which is knitted by hand and on children’s toy knitting machines, aims to traverse boundaries of art and craft, the handmade and the manufactured, as well as categories of gender and class, through fusing seemingly contradictory materials, methods, and contexts. Additionally, my work seeks to illuminate the connections between craft and queerness and shift this position into one of agency and empowerment.

MOTTO I don’t really have a motto, but I would like to thank my friends for always showing up and helping me install, especially in places where I am not supposed to.


NAME Erik Scollon

WHAT I DO I try to queer up our ideas about what art can do by remaking and repurposing functional objects. At the same time, I’m trying to retell new histories in old languages. I want to make objects that exist in between the sculptural and the functional in an effort to insert art back into everyday life.

WORDS OF WISDOM Art objects are useless; craft objects are utilitarian.


NAME Jonathan Solo

WHAT I DO Draw, eat, sleep, sex, draw, dance, laugh, cry, scream … not in that particular order. I roam the city and its late-night haunts with my beautiful, crazy, talented friends, protected by a black rose on my chest and my custom Jobmaster 14-hole oxbloods. I have a piece in a current group show at Catharine Clark Gallery and a solo show there next year. I also have contributed to the Besser collection at the de Young, opening this October.

WORDS OF WISDOM I observe the beauty and decay of humanity. Aren’t the strange the most interesting, powerful, and telling of who we are? I’m fascinated by the amount of energy we use to oppress our true selves. I say fuck ’em! Own who you are and walk forward boldly — it’s made me a more sensitive artist, lover, friend, son, and brother.

MORE; (415) 531-3376

NAME Matt Sussman

WHAT I DO I am a freelance film writer, and I DJ under the moniker Missy Hot Pants. My friends and I run a party in Oakland called Dry Hump. Our sets include everything from Gui Boratto to Baltimore club remixes to Ethel Merman doing disco. We’re playing Juanita More’s Playboy party at the Stud on June 30, so come work off your post-Pride hangovers.

MOTTO "Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen." Robert Bresson.


NAME Jamie Vasta

WHAT I DO Working with glitter and glue on stained wood panels, I create "paintings" of figures exploring dark, dazzling landscapes. I am interested in predatory beauty and the balance (or imbalance) between nature and culture. My work is currently on view in the group show "Stop Pause Forward" at the Patricia Sweetow Gallery. I’ll be having a solo show there in mid-October.

WORDS OF WISDOM Glitter connotes an image of cheapness made glamorous — the superficial, the frivolous. But to dazzle is to have power — this is something drag queens have known all along.


Editor’s Notes


It’s Pride, and I’m going to shamelessly plug something. ‘Tis the season for shameless plugging! Whatever your orientation, take a break from strutting your sizzling stuff soon and visit the GLBT Historical Society on Mission Street ( The archives are a treasure trove, and "Out Ranks," the current exhibition displaying the effects of queer soldiers from World War II through Iraq, is a must-see.

To my mind, the only place gays in the military belong is on a porn DVD — definitely not on an aircraft carrier deployed to Kuwait. But there are incredible personal stories in "Out Ranks," scattered among the crisp dress uniforms and bright blue dishonorable discharge papers, many faded to a trendy shade of robin’s egg.

Stories like that of Sylvia Rivera, a transgender woman drafted in 1967 who fought police at Stonewall. Or Helen Harder, a Women’s Army Air Corps member who signed up during WWII with her girlfriend (how hot is that?). The show also contains relics of queer antiwar protests, including a poster of a hunky, half-naked Jesus screaming, "Thou Shalt Not Kill!" Yummy.

Recently, board member Gerard Koskovich gave me a tour of the society’s archives, the largest collection of queer historiana in existence. He showed me underground newsletters for queeny World War I GIs and photo albums of ’70s lesbian weddings. There were boxes of flyers for ancient gay bars like the Anxious Asp and Fickle Pickle, Super 8 reels of street riots and disco dance floors — and a container holding Harvey Milk’s bullet-riddled clothing.

"Here’s a gown the first Gay Empress, José Sarria, wore," Gerard said, unfurling a brittle re-creation of Audrey Hepburn’s Ascot ensemble from My Fair Lady. Tears sprang to my eyes. "And that," he said, pointing to a nondescript sewing machine, "is what Gilbert Baker sewed the first Pride flag on."

I lost it. All that fabulousness up close was just too much. I bent down quickly, pretending to tie my shoelaces to hide my exploding sobs.

It was then that I realized I was wearing pumps.

Sequined pumps. Purple sequined pumps. I stared down in astonishment. A pair of leopard-print hose raced up my legs, blooming at my upper thighs into a dazzling Lycra minidress. Enormous pads sprouted from my shoulders, and my hair kinked out into a frizzy bleached mullet. Good lord, I was becoming Sylvester. I was riding a giant mirror ball through space. "Yooou make me feel!<\!s>/ Mii-ighty real!"

It was all a hallucination, of course. Family can make you do that, hallucinate. Love is a drug indeed. And the glittery fabric of history, despite its many bullet holes, still connects us all.*

Flipping for Pride



It isn’t easy being a male cheerleader. Never mind that any cheerleading above the junior high school level requires not only coordination, commitment, skill, and athleticism but also just plain balls. Cheerleading carries a stigma of being fluffy, froofy, and effeminate: if sports were food, many people would consider cheerleading cotton candy. And that’s just for women. God forbid you should have a Y chromosome and think it might be fun to do back tucks, throw people into the air, or dance in sync with 20 other people. If you’re a spirit-squad hetero, you probably spend all your time proving it. And if you’re gay? Better bone up on those self-defense classes — and then get ready for your career as a wisecracking, flamboyant sitcom roommate.

That is, unless you’re a member of CHEER SF, the world’s first and longest-running LGBT-identified cheerleading squad. Yes, you’ve seen them at practically every major queer-oriented event, but what do you really know about them? Though the all-volunteer squad is officially coed, its makeup of more than 30 members now tends to be 75 percent male, and most of them are gay — CHEER SF started in 1980, in fact, as an all-gay male squad of five members. Even more important, they’re serious cheerleaders, performing gravity-defying stunts, remarkably syncopated dance moves, awe-inspiring gymnastics, and all. Volunteers are asked to make a one-year commitment, show up for three-hour rehearsals every Tuesday, and promise to perform 10 times a year (with another 20 events optional). Not to mention the financial investment: polyester performance uniforms, plus T-shirts, shorts, and shoes, which can add up to $400 before cheer camp and travel costs.

No, this is no swishy, ironic version of Will Ferrell’s famous SNL skits. This is the kind of squad that, if you saw them compete on CNN, would make you go, "Holy crap, they’re amazing."


Look closely and you’ll see something else that sets CHEER SF apart, aside from its dude-to-dudette ratio: inclusiveness of ethnicities, sizes, ages, and gender identifications. And if you have any familiarity with cheerleading, you’d notice something else unusual: men in the air.

In traditional cheerleading, men and women have traditional roles. Men are bases and tumblers, valued for strength and stability. Women are fliers and dancers, valued for lightness and cuteness in a short skirt. Not so with CHEER SF, which has been sending men into the air for 20 years. The result is not only revolutionary — something that, like sideways haircuts and oversize sunglasses, the mainstream has finally picked up on way after the gay community discovered it — but also spectacular.

"Guys that fly, they’re awesome," said main choreographer and creative director Morgan Craig, a former dancer and gymnast who joined the squad after he was handed a flyer in the Castro 16 years ago. "Right now, one of our male fliers does a double full basket."

I’m not touching that comment with a 10-inch pole.

Of course, not all guys can, or want to, fly. That’s why women were invited to join the squad eight years ago: there just weren’t enough small men who wanted to be thrown into the air to execute collegiate-level stunts. Now, with a coed squad, CHEER SF gets the best of both worlds: female fliers with their natural lightness, as well as male fliers, who tend to be stronger and also carry their weight in different places — making for different and often more daring stunts.


So who are these people? Former cheerleaders, dancers, and athletes. Those with experience and those with the desire to get some. People who make cheer their life, like Craig, who coaches high school and all-star teams, teaches tumbling for cheerleaders, and mixes cheer music (!) for a living. And people who hold down noncheer day jobs, like 49-year-old Steve Burke, who works as a vocational rehabilitation counselor.

"My life is doing good things and getting paid for it and doing good things and not getting paid for it," he said.

Oh yeah. Did I mention one tiny detail? CHEER SF saves lives. Its mission is to raise money to help those with HIV, AIDS, cancer, and other life-challenging diseases. Some proceeds come from performance fees (CHEER SF has performed everywhere from Singapore to San Diego), but most are donations dropped in the "spirit bucket" passed around at every performance. In its 27-year history, the group has raised nearly $100,000, Burke said, "mostly one dollar at a time." This year, it expects to make its largest donation ever — more than $30,000.

Burke said the do-gooding is the primary reason CHEER SF is just as fun, if not more, as the cheering he did at Sacramento State in 1980. Back then "you were out there supporting your teams and your school, and that was really rewarding," he said. "But with CHEER SF, everybody’s our team."


As for the current state of men in cheerleading, Burke and Craig say it isn’t as bad as it used to be, thanks in large part to Bring It On (a.k.a. the Best Movie Ever) and regular CNN coverage of cheerleading competitions, which bring to light just how cool — and difficult and dangerous — cheerleading can be.

But with charity cheer squads modeled off CHEER SF popping up all over the country, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say our local LGBT-identified team has had something to do with heating up the cheerleading climate too.

As Burke said, "Cheerleading can change the world."<\!s>*

The Queer Issue: Pride event listings





“Out with ACT” American Conservatory Theatre, 415 Geary; 749-2228, www.act-sf.or. 8pm, $17.50-$73.50. ACT presents this new series for gay and lesbian theater lovers, including a performance of Molière’s The Imaginary Invalid and a reception with complimentary wine and a meet and greet with the actors. Mention “Out with ACT” when purchasing your tickets.

“Queer Wedding Sweet” Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California; 438-9933, 8pm, $36. The JCCSF presents the West Coast premiere of Queer Wedding Sweet, an “exploration of queer weddings and commitment ceremonies through stories, song, juggling, and comedy.” Featured performers include Adrienne Cooper, Sara Felder, Marilyn Lerner, Frank London, and Lorin Sklamberg.


“Queer Cabaret” Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; (510) 841-6500, 8pm, $15-20. Big City Improv, Jessica Fisher, and burlesque dancers Shaunna Bella and Claire Elizabeth team up for an evening of queer performance celebrating Pride. Proceeds will go to the Shotgun Players’ Solar Campaign.

“Tea N’ Crisp” Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; (510) 841-6500, 8pm, $25. Richard Louis James stars as gay icon Quentin Crisp in the Shotgun Players’ production of this Pride Week tribute.


“Here’s Where I Stand” First Unitarian Church and Center, 1187 Franklin, SF; (415) 865-2787, 8pm, $15-45. The world’s first openly LGBT music ensemble will be kicking off Pride Week with a range of music from Broadway to light classical. Includes performances by the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, and the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band. Concert also takes place same time on Sat/22.

“Thursday Night Live” Eagle, 398 12th St, SF; (415) 625-0880, 1pm, $10. Support Dykes on Bikes at their 30th anniversary Beer/Soda Bust and catch these glitzy vixens as they share the stage with Slapback.

Veronica Klaus and Her All-Star Band Jazz at Pearl’s, 256 Columbus, SF; (415) 291-8255, 8 and 10pm, $15. The all-star lineup features Daniel Fabricant, Tom Greisser, Tammy L. Hall, and Randy Odell.


“Glam Gender” Michael Finn Gallery, 814 Grove; 573-7328. 7-10pm. This collaboration between photographer Marianne Larochelle and art director Jose Guzman-Colon, a.k.a. Putanesca, kicks off Pride Weekend by celebrating San Francisco’s queer art underground.

Pride Concert Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission. SF; 7 and 9pm, Copresented by the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco and the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, this 29th annual Pride concert promises to be a gay time for all.

San Francisco Trans March Dolores Park, 18th St and Dolores; 447-2774, 3pm stage, 7pm march; free. Join the transgender community of San Francisco and beyond for a day of live performances, speeches, and not-so-military marching.


Queer Stuff Pride Talent Showcase Home of Truth Spiritual Center, 1300 Grand, Alameda; 1-888-569-2064, 7:30pm, $8. This showcase features the music of Judea Eden and Friends, Amy Meyers, and True Magrit, plus the comedy of Karen Ripley.


Dykes on Bikes Fundraiser Eagle, 398 12th St, SF; (510) 712-7739, 1pm. Twilight Vixen Revue will perform at the beer bust at the Eagle. Stop by before heading to the march.

LGBT Pride Celebration Civic Center, Carlton B. Goodlett Place and McCallister, SF; (415) 864-3733, Noon-6pm, free. Celebrate LGBT pride at this free outdoor event featuring DJs, speakers, and live music. This is the first half of the weekend-long celebration sponsored by SF Pride. Also Sun/24.

Mission Walk 18th St and Dolores, SF; (503) 758-9313, 11am, free. Join in on this queer women’s five-mile walk through the Mission.

Pink Triangle Installation Twin Peaks Vista, Twin Peaks Blvd parking area, SF; (415) 247-1100, ext 142, 7-11am, free. Bring a hammer and your work boots and help install the giant pink triangle atop Twin Peaks for everyone to see this Pride Weekend. Stay for the commemoration ceremony at 10:30am.

“Remembering Lou Sullivan: Celebrating 20 Years of FTM Voices” San Francisco LGBT Center, Ceremonial Room, 1800 Market, SF; (415) 865-5555, 6-8pm, free. This presentation celebrates the life of Louis Graydon Sullivan, founder of FTM International and an early leader in the transgender community.

“Qcomedy Showcase” Jon Sims Center, 1519 Mission, SF; (415) 541-5610, 8pm, $8-15. A stellar cast of San Francisco’s funniest queer and queer-friendly comedians performs.

San Francisco Dyke March Dolores Park, Dolores at 18th St, SF; 7pm, free. Featuring Music from Binky, Nedra Johnson, Las Krudas, and more, plus a whole lot of wacky sapphic high jinks.


LGBT Pride Celebration Civic Center, Carlton B. Goodlett Place and McCallister, SF; (415) 864-3733, Noon-7pm, free. The celebration hits full stride, with musical performances and more.

LGBT Pride Parade Market at Davis to Market at Eighth St, SF; (415) 864-3733, 10:30am-noon, free. With 200-plus dykes on bikes in the lead, this 36th annual parade, with an expected draw of 500,000, is the highlight of the Pride Weekend in the city that defines LGBT culture.



“Gay Pride in the Mix” Eureka Lounge, 4063 18th St, SF; (415) 431-6000, 7-9pm, no cover. An intercollegiate LGBT mixer in an upscale environment, with drink and appetizer specials available. Alumni from Ivy League and Seven Sisters schools, Stanford, MIT, and UC Berkeley welcome.

Hellraiser Happy Hour: “Pullin’ Pork for Pride” Pilsner Inn, 225 Church, SF; (415) 621-7058. 5:30-8pm, free. The Guardian‘s own Marke B. will be pullin’ pork and sticking it between hot buns with the help of the crew from Funk N Chunk. You might win tickets to the National Queer Arts Festival, but really, isn’t having your pork pulled prize enough?


“A Celebration of Diversity” Box, 628 Divisadero, SF. 9pm-2am, $20. Join Page Hodel for the return of San Francisco’s legendary Thursday night dance club the Box for one night only, sucka!

Crack-a-Lackin’ Gay Pride Mega Party Crib, 715 Harrison, SF; (415) 749-2228. 9:30pm-3am, $10. Features live stage performances and, according to the press release, “tons of surprises.” I’m not sure how much a surprise weighs, so I don’t know how many surprises it takes to add up to a ton. It’s one of those “how many angels fit on the head of a pin?” things.

“Gay Disco Fever” Lexington Club, 3464 19th St, SF; (415) 863-2052, 9pm-2am. I can’t figure out who does what at this event. Courtney Trouble and Jenna Riot are listed as hosts, and Campbell and Chelsea Starr are the DJs, which I guess makes drag king Rusty Hips “Mr. Disco” and Claire and Shaunna the “Disco Queens.” It takes a village to raise a nightclub. That’s a whole lotta fabulousness under one roof.

“Girlezque SF” Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF; 9pm, $10-15. This supposedly sophisticated burlesque party for women features the erotic stylings of AfroDisiac, Sparkly Devil, Rose Pistola, and Alma, with after-party grooves by DJ Staxx. Hopefully, it’s not too sophisticated &ldots;

Pride Party Lexington Club, 3464 19th St, SF; (415) 863-2052, 9pm-2am, free. Make this no-cover throwdown your first stop as you keep the march going between the numerous after-parties.


Bustin’ Out II Trans March Afterparty El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; (415) 510-677-5500. 9pm-2am, $5-50, sliding scale. Strut your stuff at the Transgender Pride March’s official after-party, featuring sets from DJs Durt, Lil Manila, and Mel Campagna and giveaways from Good Vibes, AK Press, and more. Proceeds benefit the Trans/Gender Variant in Prison Committee.

Cockblock SF Pride Party Fat City, 314 11th St, SF; (415) 568-8811. 9pm, $6. DJs Nuxx and Zax spin homolicious tunes and put the haters on notice: no cock-blockin’ at this sweaty soiree.

“GIRLPRIDE” Sound Factory, 525 Harrison, SF; (415) 647-8258. 9pm-4am, $20. About 2,500 women are expected to join host Page Hodel to celebrate this year’s Pride Weekend, and that’s a whole lotta love.

Mr. Muscle Bear Cub Contest and Website Launch Party Lone Star Saloon, 1354 Harrison, SF; (415) 978-9986. 11pm, $19.95. Join contestants vying for the title of spokesmodel of Muscle Bear Cub. The winner receives $500 cash and a lifetime supply of Bic razors. Don’t shave, Bear Cub! Don’t you ever shave!

Uniform and Leather Ball SF Veterans War Memorial, 401 Van Ness, Green Room, SF; 8pm-midnight, $60-70. The men’s men of the Phoenix Uniform Club want you to dress to the fetish nines for this 16th annual huge gathering, featuring Joyce Grant and the City Swing Band and more shiny boots than you can lick all year. Yes, sirs!


“Old School Dance” Cafè Flore, 2298 Market at Noe, SF; (415) 867-8579. 8pm-2am, free. Get down old-school style at the Castro’s annual Pink Saturday street party, with sets from DJs Ken Vulsion and Strano, plus singer Moon Trent headlining with a midnight CD release party for Quilt (Timmi-Kat Records).

Pride Brunch Hotel Whitcomb, 1231 Market, SF; (415) 777-0333, 11am-2pm, $75-100. Honor this year’s Pride Parade grand marshals: four hunky cast members from the TV series Noah’s Arc; Marine staff sergeant Eric Alva, the first American wounded in Iraq; and Jan Wahl, Emmy winner and owner of many funky hats.

“Puttin’ on the Ritz” San Francisco Design Center Galleria, 101 Henry Adams, SF; (650) 343-0543, 8pm-2am, $85. Bump your moneymaker at this all-lady event. Incidentally, the performer who brought “Puttin’ on the Ritz” back to popularity on early ’80s MTV was none other than Taco.

“Queen” Pier 27, SF; 9pm, $45. Energy 92.7 brings back the dynamism of the old-school San Francisco clubs for this Pride dance-off. Peaches and Princess Superstar headline. Wear your best tear-away sweats and get ready to get down, Party Boy style.

“Rebel Girl” Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF; 9pm-2am, $10. Rebel Girl brings the noise for this one, with go-go dancers, Vixen Creations giveaways, drink specials, and, you know, rebel girls.

“Sweat Special Pride Edition” Lexington Club, 3464 19th St, SF; (415) 863-205, 9pm-2am, free. DJ Rapid Fire spins you right round round with a sweaty night of dancing and grinding.


Dykes on Bikes Afterparty Lexington Club, 3464 19th St, SF; (415) 863-2052, Noon, free. How do they find time to ride with all these parties?

“Gay Pride” Bambuddha Lounge, 601 Eddy, SF; (415) 864-3733, 3pm, $25. Juanita More! hosts this benefit for the Harvey Milk City Hall Memorial, with a DJs Derek B, James Glass, and fancy-pants New York City import Kim Ann Foxman. It also includes an appearance from silicone wonder Miss Gina LaDivina. Fill ‘er up, baby!

“Pleasuredome Returns” Porn Palace, 942 Mission, SF; (415) 820-1616, 9pm, $20. You have to get tickets in advance for the onetime reopening of the dome in the Porn Palace’s main dungeon room. When you’re done dancing, visit the jail, bondage, or barn fantasy rooms and make that special someone scream “Sooo-eeeee!”

The Queer Issue: Commitment slut



I’m going to miss Pride this year. I’ll be on the East Coast at a wedding while queer sex parties and dungeons throw open their incredibly inviting doors to a host of the proud play-minded. Outlaws versus in-laws, polyamorous queers versus monogamous marrieds. Does it all come down to such fixed oppositions? For me, a bi girl with a boyfriend (who for the purposes of this article has asked to be identified by the curvaceous and inviting letter O), this question had reached the pitch of a psychic emergency.

It might seem obvious to you, dear reader, that like all nasty dichotomies this one was bound to wobble, to yield, to come undone. But some days it felt as though a bright line was running down my center and I had to choose a side. As Pride Month approached, I decided to resist and reinvent these oppositions with a little research of my own. What I found were queer activists fighting for same-sex-marriage equality while swinger parties thrived for horny partnered types of every ilk.


And there I was in the middle: happy with O, really love-struck, but wondering where to go with my queer desires and identity. Crushes flickered. Girls floated around in my dreams like alluring phantoms. I vented, haltingly, to O. It’s the price a guy pays for dating a bi dyke. He was a sympathetic listener. And it wasn’t just a one-way conversation: O is erotically adventurous in his own right, and he’d revealed hints of unplumbed inclinations in the areas of pain play and submission. We’re pretty good at working through hard stuff with a minimal amount of drama, so it seemed both safe and exciting to experiment.

The quest for random sex presents a logistical conundrum for a shy person such as myself: I have a tendency to run in the opposite direction from anyone I find attractive, whether that obscure object of desire is a girl, a boy, or someone in between. And now that I’m done with my days of ecstasy and blackout drinking, I knew I’d have to be forthright in my quest for a bawdy experience.

My first stop was Fantasy Makers, a house of bondage and fetish nestled in an East Bay suburb. Lorrett, the house coordinator, gave me a tour of the facilities one late-spring afternoon. "This culture penalizes alternative sexualities," she said, her bright blue eyes flashing with intelligence and curiosity. "Normal!" She shuddered. "I hate that word."

Fantasy Makers offers toy shows, BDSM, and more (no actual sex between workers and clients, though — it’s illegal). Its hourly rate is the same for singles and couples, in order to encourage shared kinky experiences. Lorrett showed me the well-outfitted dungeon, replete with custom-built throne; the medical room, which featured a beautiful antique examination table and a complete array of surgical instruments; and the all-purpose room, which could be quickly cleared for any kind of wrestling one desired.

"Now I’ll turn you over to the girls," Lorrett promised, leading me down to the kitchen–<\d>employee lounge, where she introduced me to a swirl of workers. It was a hot day, and Mistress Tatiana looked up from her laptop wearing nothing but panties and an appraising grin. Priscilla and Elizabeth lounged on a long black couch and waited for calls to come in while watching a movie about strippers unionizing.

I was filled with hope on learning that one is not born a pro dom but rather becomes one: the Fantasy Maker folks filled me in on play parties and classes that are open to newbies and lifestylers alike. This crew favored the DIY style of Screw Up, a monthly BDSM instructional organized via by and for "freaky queers who don’t identify as male or female," as Priscilla put it. Topics range from flogging to mummification.

Tatiana talked about classes she teaches at Quality S-M, then neatly turned the tables to ask, "What about you?"

"Big dykey streak, boyfriend, open to playing with others together," I replied. That was the setup O and I had agreed on, and I discovered an abundance of creative commitment styles among the Fantasy Makers crew. One of the women was in a long-term open relationship and had just registered as a domestic partner with her genderqueer lover. Another had a primary submissive male friend and a panoply of mostly female playmates. And Lorrett had not one but two husbands.


I left Fantasy Makers feeling inspired and a tad electrified. It was time to move theory into practice. O and I did our makeup, squeezed hands, and set out for the queer-friendly Club Kiss, a monthly Mission District play party, along with our adventurous companion X. I would like to report that the stiletto-shaped love seat, the stripper pole, and the back room with its tiki theme and lurid row of mattresses all enabled me to happily re-create the careless, drunken foursomes of my college years, but in truth, I freaked out. I found myself on the sidewalk, orally fixating on cigarettes while hot jealousy spurted through my veins. O coaxed me back inside, where he soothed my wakened jealousy demon in the manner of a horse whisperer braving flying hooves. X, meanwhile, worked the room happily, as if arriving at a long-awaited home.

Finally, X, O, and I reunited, and as my head cooled, I tasted a little morsel of what these parties promise besides the obvious — the opportunity to witness a side of your partner you may never have seen before. For example, I learned that O likes to be tied up and spanked until he sees a white light while assembled parties look on in shock and pleasure. Who knew? I felt proud of O: raw, turned on, weird, excited, wounded, and open to a world of possibility.

That world of possibility is infinitely expanding, especially here in the Bay Area. There is, for example, the Queer Playground, a play party held on Pride Weekend at the bastion of worldly sex play in the Bay, the Citadel. The infamous Kinky Salon is also hosting something giant for its members of all genders. And Pride private play parties are multiplying by the dozen.

But I’ll miss it all, because of a wedding.


It’s a weird thing, marriage. It makes me bitter that through the contingencies of gender, chance, and choice, I can chose whether or not to gain legal rights and social legitimacy with my current honey but couldn’t do so with past partners.

It wasn’t that I’d yearned for nuptials in my past decade of dating girls; in no way did I dream of the ostentatious engagements and rehashed nuclear-family model. I balked at those things, and if I ever thought of myself as married to my ex, I had married her in subtle and various ways that seemed more meaningful to me than public social contracts ever did — in road trips and alter egos, in getting to know each other’s families and then running away from holiday gatherings to smoke pot together in my little sister’s car. It seemed that our vows were forged of a shared, unspoken resistance to such conventions and institutions as marriage, and I took a roguish pride in sticking it out longer than the friends’ marriages that had come into being and died while she and I stayed together.

And now, happy as I am to destabilize gender binaries, to watch Bend Over, Boyfriend on repeat, to hold on to my queer family, to try sex parties on for size, I can simply marry O if I want to. Legally, civilly, so that we receive the roughly 1,000 rights granted by the federal government and the additional 500 given by the state. And on some days marriage seems like an adventure, a love riot, something we can define ourselves without accepting grody ceremonials or monogamy mandates. We can elope! Our honeymoon can be a class on flogging!

But here it is: straight privilege — mine. Bam. And bitterness doesn’t do much in the way of gaining those rights for my dyke-partnered buddies or my genderqueer friends whose identities don’t match up with the "man" and "woman" boxes on the marriage forms. So I checked in with Shannon Minter, legal director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, to find out more about the fight for same-sex marriage equality.

Minter is the lead counsel in the marriage cases that are currently being tried before the Supreme Court of California. The lawsuits argue that California’s statutory definition of marriage violates equal-protection clauses in the state constitution by sanctioning discrimination on the grounds of sex and sexual orientation. Minter expects the cases to be settled within the year. While the outcome looks hopeful, the issue still needs plenty of support from queers and straight allies. According to Minter, four ballot initiatives seeking to amend the state constitution to define marriage as heterosexual have been submitted with the attorney general. "It’s pretty likely that Californians will be voting on this in 2008," he informed me.

Which gave me an idea for a present for the happy couple whose wedding will keep me from getting my queer on: a donation on behalf of the bride and groom to Equality California, an organization dedicated to outreach, education, and coalition building for same-sex-marriage equality. It ain’t no toaster, but the historical impact may be a lot greater.<\!s>*

The Queer Issue: Rainbow retirement



Lionel Mayrand spent more than a decade working with the elderly. He helped train staff for the National Meals for the Elderly Project and wrote the first grant application for Elderhostel, an international senior travel network. Along the way, Mayrand found and lost one of the great loves of his life. "I am an AIDS widower," he says. "My financial life was wiped out by the illness of my partner in life and business. I lost so many friends to AIDS, I’m starting to forget their names." Recently, the sixtysomething tax specialist noticed the Senior Services meal program located near his house and suddenly found himself wrestling with the idea of attending. It was not so much a matter of pride or of realizing his age, but of community. With his unique life experiences, would he feel welcome?


Getting older is a challenge for many people. But retired LGBTs often face unique difficulties. They feel a sense of isolation and discrimination — more hurdles for a group that weathered straight hatred and the AIDS pandemic. There’s also a lack of established infrastructure particular to their needs: many LGBT people of the baby boom generation, which is just now hitting retirement age, had to leave their families behind in order to live openly, so they may not have an inheritance or traditional family support to turn to. And because AIDS left so few survivors of earlier queer generations, the health care system is woefully unprepared to meet current senior queer physical and psychological needs. In a way, today’s senior queers are pioneers.

"Queer seniors often lack the family support systems that older straights take for granted," says Michael Adams, executive director of New York–<\d>based Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, or SAGE. Now 29 years old, SAGE is the oldest and largest organization in the country focusing on the needs of LGBT seniors. "Many queers may have been disconnected from their birth families for many years, and they’re less likely to have had children of their own. Older queers are also likelier to live alone and less likely to be in relationships," Adams says.

Meanwhile, older queers also face more discrimination from senior organizations, nursing homes, and health care providers, he adds. Some groups, such as the Red Cross, are committed to discrimination for religious or philosophical reasons. In other organizations, individual staffers may just have an issue. Worst of all, "a lack of support in the LGBT community itself" exacerbates this problem, Adams says. "There’s ageism in every community, but when you’re talking about a population of seniors that faces such difficulty in the senior world," the indifference of the LGBT community compounds the problem.

Local organizations, however, are stepping up to provide the kind of help non-LGBT seniors might not get from their nuclear families or the gay community at large. The queer-oriented New Leaf Outreach to Elders in San Francisco offers 24 senior activities and 50 meetings per week at different sites around the city, as well as health and counseling services at its clinic on Hayes Street. And New Leaf isn’t afraid to use the past to help the future.

"The way in which the gay and lesbian communities mobilized to take care of the HIV pandemic has become a model for organizations taking care of straight people," says Bill Kirkpatrick, a New Leaf social services worker. Even mainstream organizations taking care of the elderly are learning from the queer response to HIV, he says. "As the epidemic created models for us to take care of ourselves, the same thing is happening in the aging community."


Accommodating the needs of queer seniors doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel, Kirkpatrick adds. A big part of his work at New Leaf involves helping LGBT people connect with traditionally straight, more established programs. "We want to make sure these services have been culturally trained," Kirkpatrick says. New Leaf takes LGBT seniors to staff meetings at organizations like Meals on Wheels and other home health care agencies so the seniors can tell their stories and educate workers.

But what about the seniors themselves? Kirkpatrick says a big part of his job is working to gain the trust of "someone who has survived by hiding from the mainstream services and is distrustful." New Leaf organizes volunteers to visit the homes of isolated seniors and check on them. The organization takes great care to avoid pathologizing problems like depression, isolation, and low self-esteem as if they’re strictly mental health issues, Kirkpatrick says.

SAGE provides many of the same services as New Leaf, but it also lobbies for public policies that are designed to advance the rights of LGBT seniors. "Too often, LGBT seniors have not been on the radar screen when it comes to the policies and programs that get developed for seniors at the state and national level," Adams says. In 2005, SAGE sent the first openly gay delegate to the White House Conference on Aging, an event that happens once every 10 years. "Those are the kinds of places where policy gets made, [and] funding streams and priorities get influenced."

SAGE also provides counseling on sexuality. The rate of HIV infection among older people is increasing, according to the National Institutes of Health. And recent studies have shown that HIV and other STDs are more likely to go undiagnosed in seniors because doctors assume older people don’t have sex or engage in other risky behavior.

Some seniors with HIV have been living with it for years, but others have acquired it recently. Many are taking advantage of the increased opportunities for sex thanks to Viagra — often without protection, Adams says.


Another challenge facing LGBT seniors: when a same-sex partner dies, the surviving partner may not be able to inherit a pension or Social Security benefits. Transferring the title on a house can be more difficult for couples who aren’t legally married, notes Moli Steinert, executive director of Open House, a San Francisco nonprofit dedicated to building LGBT senior residences. Steinert is trying to get approval from the city for Open House’s first housing project, at 55 Laguna Street, part of a larger redevelopment project on that site. She says Open House is also in the process of identifying a low-income housing site. "Our mandate is really to develop mixed-income housing. You just can’t get housing all in one location for all populations, so we’re working on trying to find land that will lend itself to filling out the spectrum of needs in our community," she says.

Open House educates health service organizations about LGBT senior issues and reaches out to isolated queer seniors, similar to what New Leaf is doing. And Open House advocates for LGBT seniors at the citywide level, trying to make sure housing and other services are open to queers.

What exactly makes housing LGBT-friendly? According to Steinert, it’s a matter of making sure queer culture is represented and the staff is trained to recognize the needs of the population. For example, a transgender resident of a nursing home may need help with bathing and wouldn’t want an attendant who’s insensitive or transphobic.

"It would not be easy for an LGBT senior to feel at home in a traditional senior housing facility," Steinert says. "They would basically need to go back in the closet. They would not feel able to disclose their partner or their history and feel like it would be accepted." Even if you succeeded in training the staff to be sensitive, you might not change the culture among the people who’ve been living in the facility for years, she points out.

The first LGBT-focused housing facility for seniors in the Bay Area will probably be the Barbary Lane Senior Communities at Lake Merritt in Oakland. Preleasing began March 1, and people will start moving in this fall. The Barbary Lane team is transforming the classic art deco Lake Merritt Hotel into a safe space for seniors, doing everything from doubling the size of the elevators to using universal design to get rid of knobs and handles. The kitchens and bathrooms in the apartment units are designed to be easy to use for disabled people and people with arthritis or other mobility issues.

With the Parlor Suite starting at $3,295 and the Merritt Grand at $4,295, you couldn’t accuse Barbary Lane of being low-income housing. But these prices are typical for retirement communities, and they include meals and other amenities seniors would otherwise have to pay for separately, says David Latina, Barbary Lane’s president. "A schoolteacher could afford to live here," he adds. Hard-up residents could share a studio apartment, he suggests. Programming and activities will be queer focused, and Barbary Lane will try to involve the local queer community as much as possible, opening its lavish dining area to outside events such as queer weddings and fundraisers.

Barbary Lane will only house people who are mostly able to take care of themselves. Once they need more than an assisted-living level of care, they’ll have to move to a nursing facility or nursing home. When that happens, Barbary Lane will make sure they go to facilities that are LGBT-friendly and have well-trained staff, according to Latina.

Latina says his organization aims to open five more facilities in California and is partnering with another organization to open a facility in New York. There are 17,000 queer seniors in the Bay Area alone, Latina claims, and even if only a quarter of them are looking to move into retirement homes, that could mean more than 4,000 residents for places like Barbary Lane. Rainbow flags flying over retirement communities could become a common sight in the near future.<\!s>*

Playing hooky from Pride? Go to the garden.


By Molly Freedenberg
mutisia sublata.jpg

Looking to take a break from Pride madness next Sunday? How about a good old-fashioned Garden Party? The UC Botanical Garden is holding a fundraiser called inflorescence! [sic] from 2pm to 6pm, featuring food, wine tasting, a silent auction, and music by jazzy, eclectic VidyA and vintage, acoustic Dodge’s Sundodgers (think polkas and waltzes, Hawaiian music, traditional Mexican tunes, and plenty more music you can dance to). Oh yeah, and gorgeous June-blooming flowers (like the mutisia sublata, pictured right), of course. Tickets are $45 in advance, $50 at the door. Buy yours and get more information on the event’s website.

Location info: UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive, Berk. (510) 643-2755 x03,

Jerry Falwell is dead



By Tim Redmond

Back in the early 1980s, after Sister Boom Boom ran for supervisor on the “nun of the above” ticket, Jerry Falwell sent out a mass mailing to raise money for the Moral Majority featuring the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The letter included a Gay Pride photo and a description of my favorite nuns as a deep threat to the moral fiber of America.

I did a story about it, and Sister Sadie Sadie the Rabbi Lady called me to get a copy of the letter and the photo, which the sisters took to Melvin Belli, the famous tort lawyer, who then sued Falwell for misappropriation of their images. I don’t know where the suit went in the end, but the whole thing made for a lot of fun stories — because back then, frankly, Falwell was the Devil Incarnate.

You don’t hear as much about him anymore, but now that he’s dead, it’s worth remembering that this guy was a key player in the birth of the religious right, the election of Ronald Reagan, and the beginnings of a movement of intolerance and hatred that still plagues us today.

I saw him debate Larry Flynt on Nightline once, shortly after Falwell sued Flynt for a parody ad in Hustler suggesting that the televangelist had sex with his mother in an outhouse. Falwell was sputtering about how horrible it was to even suggest such a thing; Flynt laughed and said:

“You forgot to tell em, Jerry, that you had to kick the goat out of the outhouse first.”

Falwell’s suit went all the way to the US Supreme Court, and wound up in a stunning victory for the First Amendment; the court ruled that obvious parodies of public figures can’t be grounds for libel or defamation suits. That decision was key to the Guardian’s victory in a libel suit brought by a local landlord, Adam Sparks, who we had accused in a parody issue of using electroshock treatment on his tenants.

So we’ve had some history with the prick. And with all due respect to the dear departed, I can’t say I’m sorry he’s finally out of the way.

NOTE: There will be quite a rally at 5 pm on 18th and Castro to speak out against Falwell’s legacy.

Summer 2007 fairs and festivals guide



ArtSFest Various venues; For its fourth year, ArtSFest presents a showcase of theater, dance, visual art, film, music, spoken word, and more. Through May 28.

Night Market Ferry Bldg Marketplace, along the Embarcadero at the foot of Market; 693-0996, Thurs, 4-8pm, through Oct 26. Marketplace merchants and farmers offer their freshest artisan foods and produce at this weekly sunset event.

United States of Asian America Arts Festival Various venues; 864-4120, Through June 30. This festival, presented by the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, showcases Asian Pacific Islander dance, music, visual art, theater, and multidisciplinary performance ensembles at many San Francisco venues.

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival Yerba Buena Gardens, Third St at Mission; 543-1718, Through Oct, free. Nearly 100 artistic and cultural events for all ages takes place at the gardens this summer including Moroccan percussionists, Hawaiian ukulele players, Yiddish klezmer violinists, Balinese dancers, Shakespearean actors, Cuban musicians, and Japanese shakuhachi players.


Silicon Valley Open Studios Sat-Sun, 11am-5pm, through May 20. Check out Silicon Valley artists’ works and the spaces they use to create them at this community art program.

MAY 8–20

The Hip-Hop Theater Festival: Bay Area 2007 Various venues; Youth Speaks, La Peña Cultural Center, the Hip-Hop Theater Festival, and San Francisco International Arts Festival present this showcase of new theater works that feature break dancing, MCing, graffiti, spoken word, and DJ sampling.

MAY 10-20

Mission Creek Music and Arts Festival Various venues; The Mission Creek Music and Arts Festival features the best and brightest independent musicians and artists, including music by Vincent Gallo, Acid Mothers Temple, Edith Frost, and Gary Higgins. Literary and film events are also planned.

MAY 12

KFOG KaBoom! Piers 30-32; 817-KFOG, 4-10pm, free. Kick off the summer with this popular event featuring music, a spectacular fireworks show, food and drinks, and activities for kids. Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Guster, and Ozomatli perform.


Arlen Ness Motorcycles Anniversary Party Arlen Ness, 6050 Dublin, Dublin; (925) 479-6300, 10am-4:30pm, free. Celebrate the company’s fourth year in Dublin and 37th year in business with a display of the largest selection of Ness, Victory, American Iron Horse, and Big Dog Motorcycles in California, a walk through the museum, and a live music from Journey tribute band Evolution.

Beltane Pagan Festival Civic Center Park, 2151 MLK Jr. Way, Berk;, free. This year’s festival focuses on children and young adults and features a procession, performances, vendors, storytelling, an authors’ circle, and information booths.

Peralta in Bloom Spring Festival Carter Middle School, 4521 Webster, Oakl; (510) 655-1502, Due to a fire, Peralta’s spring festival will be held at a temporary home this year. Expect the same great live entertainment, carnival games, old-fashioned high-steppin’ cakewalk, free arts and crafts, and delicious barbecue as always.

MAY 13

Hood Games VI "Tender Love" Turk between Mason and Taylor; 11am-4pm. This celebration of youth culture features live skating and music, art, a fashion show, contests, and a raffle. Bonus: every mom who shows up for this Mother’s Day event gets a free skateboard.


Russian-American Fair Terman Middle School, 655 Arastradero, Palo Alto; (650) 852-3509, 10am-5pm, $3-5. The Palo Alto Jewish Community Center puts on this huge, colorful cultural extravaganza featuring ethnic food, entertainment, crafts and gift items, art exhibits, carnival games, and vodka tasting.

MAY 16–27

San Francisco International Arts Festival Various venues; (415) 439-2456, The theme for this year’s multidisciplinary festival is the Truth in Knowing/Now, a Conversation across the African Diaspora.

MAY 17–20

Carmel Art Festival Devendorf Park, Carmel; (831) 642-2503, Call for times, free. Enjoy viewing works by more than 60 visual artists at this four-day festival. In addition to the Plein Air and Sculpture-in-the-Park events, the CAF is host to the Carmel Youth Art Show, Quick Draw, and Kids Art Day.

MAY 18–20

Festival of Greece 4700 Lincoln, Oakl; (510) 531-3400, Fri-Sat, 10am-11pm; Sun, 11am-9pm, $6. Free on Fri 10-4 and Sun 6-9. Let’s hear an "opa!" for Greek music, dance, food, and a stunning view at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension’s three-day festival.

MAY 19

A La Carte and Art Castro St, Mountain View; (650) 964-3395, 10am-6pm, free. A moveable feast of people and colorful tents offering two days of attractions, music, art, a farmers’ market, and a special appearance by TV star Delta Burke.

Asian Heritage Street Celebration Howard between Fifth and Seventh streets; 321-5865, 11am-6pm, free. More than 200 organizations participate in this festival, which features Asian cooking demonstrations, beer and sake, arts and crafts, a variety of food, and live entertainment.

Family Fun Festival and Silent Auction 165 Grattan; 759-2815. 11am-5pm, free. Enjoy this second annual family event in Cole Valley, featuring a kids’ carnival with prizes, street theater, live music, refreshments, and a silent auction.

Oyster and Beer Fest Great Meadows, Fort Mason, Laguna at Bay; 12-7pm, $15-19 ($50 reserved seating). O’Reilly’s Productions presents the 8th annual festival celebrating oysters and beer, featuring cooking demos, competitions, and live performance from Flogging Molly, Shantytown, The Hooks, and more.

Saints Kiril and Metody Bulgarian Cultural Festival Croatian American Cultural Center, 60 Onondaga; (510) 649-0941, 3pm-midnight, $15. Enjoy live music, dance, and traditional food and wine in celebration of Bulgarian culture. A concert features Nestinari, Zaedno, Brass Punks, and many more.

Taiwanese American Cultural Festival Union Square; (408) 268-5637, 10am-7pm, free. Explore Taiwan by tasting delicious Taiwanese delicacies, viewing a puppet show and other performances, and browsing arts and crafts exhibits.

Uncorked! Public Wine Festival Ghirardelli Square, 900 N Point; 775-5500, 1-6pm, event free, wine tasting $40-100. This second annual wine festival features wine tasting, five-star chef demonstrations, wine seminars, and a chocolate and wine pairing event.


Cupertino Special Festival in the Park Cupertino Civic Center, 10300 Torre, Cupertino; (408) 996-0850, 10am-6pm, free. The Organization of Special Needs Families hosts its third annual festival for people of all walks or wheels of life. Featuring live music, food and beer, bouncy houses, arts and crafts, and other activities.

Pixie Park Spring Fair Marin Art and Garden Center, Sir Francis Drake Blvd at Lagunitas, Ross; 9am-4pm, free. This fair for preschoolers and kindergarteners features bathtub races, pony rides, a petting zoo, a puppet show, and much more.

MAY 19-20

Bay Area Storytelling Festival Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area, San Pablo Dam Road near Castro Ranch, El Sobrante; (510) 644-2593,

Sat, 9:30am-8pm; Sun, 9:30am-5:15pm, $8-65. Gather around and listen to stories told by storytellers from around the world at this outdoor festival. Sheila Kay Adams, Charlotte Blake Alston, Bill Harley and others are featured.

Castroville Artichoke Festival 10100 Merritt, Castroville; (831) 633-2465, Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-5pm, $3-6. Have a heart — eat an artichoke. This festival cooks up the vegetable in every way imaginable and features tons of fun activities for kids, music, a parade, a farmers’ market, and much more.

Day of Decadence Women’s Expo Sedusa Studios, 1300 Dell, Campbell; (408) 826-9087, 1-4pm, $5. Twenty-five women-owned businesses exhibit their products and pamper their customers at this decadent event. Includes free services, champagne, refreshments, and a chocolate fountain.

French Flea Market Chateau Sonoma, 153 West Napa, Sonoma; (707) 935-8553, 10:30am-5:30pm, call for price. Attention, Francophiles: this flea market is for you! Shop for antiques, garden furniture, and accessories from French importers.

Himalayan Fair Live Oak Park, 1300 Shattuck, Berk; (510) 869-3995, Sat, 10am-7pm; Sun, 10am-5:30pm, call for price. This benefit for humanitarian grassroots projects in the Himalayas features award-winning dancers and musicians representing Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Mongolia. Check out the art and taste the delicious food.

Maker Faire San Mateo Fairgrounds, San Mateo; (415) 318-9067, Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-5pm, $5-15. A two-day, family-friendly event established by the creators of Make and Create magazines that celebrates arts, crafts, engineering, science projects, and the do-it-yourself mindset.

Muscle Car, Hot Rods, and Art Fair Bollinger Canyon Rd and Camino Ramon, San Ramon; (925) 855-1950, 10am-5pm, free. Hats Off America presents this family event featuring muscle cars, classics and hot rods, art exhibits, children’s activities, live entertainment, and beer and wine.

Passport to Sonoma Valley Various venues; (707) 935-0803, 11am-4pm, $55 (weekend, $65). This first of its kind, valleywide event will provide visitors rare access to the many hidden gems of California’s oldest wine region. More than 40 Sonoma wineries are participating, and the cost includes unlimited tasting.

Sunset Celebration Weekend Sunset headquarters, 80 Willow Road, Menlo Park; 1-800-786-7375, 10am-5pm, $10-12, kids free. Sunset magazine presents a two-day outdoor festival featuring beer, wine, and food tasting; test-kitchen tours, celebrity chef demonstrations, live music, seminars, and more.

Spring Fling Open House Rosenblum Cellars, 2900 Main, Alameda; (510) 995-4100, Noon-5pm, $30. Try new and current releases at Rosenblum’s Alameda winery while enjoying wine-friendly hors d’oeuvres and music from local musicians.

MAY 20

ING Bay to Breakers Begins at Howard and Spear, ends at the Great Highway along Ocean Beach, SF; 8am, $33-40. See a gang of Elvis impersonators in running shorts and a gigantic balloon shaped like a tube of Crest floating above a crowd of scantily clad, and unclad, joggers at this annual race from the Embarcadero to the Pacific Ocean.


Jazz on Fourth Street Festival Fourth St, between Hearst and Virginia, Berk; (510) 526-6294, 11am-5pm, free. Local merchants present this annual outdoor music festival featuring Marcus Shelby Quartet, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Group, two Berkeley High combos, and the award-winning Berkeley High Jazz ensemble.

Niles Wildflower Art and Garden Show Niles Blvd at Main, Fremont; 10am-3pm, event free, garden tour $12-15. Take a self-guided tour of beautiful home gardens and enjoy the creative works of local artists.

MAY 24–27

Sonoma Jazz Plus Festival Field of Dreams, 179 First St W, Sonoma; 1-866-527-8499, $45-95. Thurs-Sat, 6:30 and 9pm; Sun, 8:30pm, $45-110. Head on up to California’s wine country for Memorial Day weekend and soak in the sounds of LeAnn Rimes, Tony Bennett, Smokey Robinson, and Harry Connick Jr.

MAY 25–28

Memorial Day Folk Music Camp Out Waterman Creek Camp, Santa Cruz County; (510) 523-6533. $7/night. Preregistration required. Camp and sing along with the San Francisco Folk Music Club. Everybody’s goin’!

MAY 26

Soul Jazz Festival Crown Canyon Park, 8000 Crow Canyon, Castro Valley; 12-8pm, $45-49. A one-day music event celebrating the worlds of jazz, funk, and soul. This year pays tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and features Johnny Holiday, Ladybug Mecca of Digable Planets, and Ella Fitzgerald’s son, Ray Brown Jr.

MAY 26–27

Carnaval San Francisco Harrison between 16th and 24th streets; (415) 920-0122, 10am-6pm, free. The vibrant Mission District plays host to the best of Latin and Caribbean cultures and traditions with an array of food, music, dance, and art. The theme for this year’s carnaval is Love Happens, and it features speed dating at the Love Nest, a performance by Los Lonely Boys, and a parade on Sunday.

North American Cycle Courier Championship Speakeasy Brewery, 1195 Evans; 748-2941. Sat, 9am-2pm; Sun, 10am-1pm, free. This weekend-long celebration of bike culture features a race on a closed course that tests all areas of bike messenger skill.


Santa Cruz Blues Festival 100 Aptos Creek, Aptos; (831) 479-9814, 10am-7pm, $20-100. Rhythm and blues buffs beware. This annual festival, in its 15th year, showcases some of the most renowned acts of new and vintage R&B, soul, and blues rock, including Los Lonely Boys, Etta James and the Roots Band, and Little Feat. International food booths, juice bars, and beer make this event add to the appeal.

MAY 26–28

The San Francisco Cup International Youth Soccer Tournament and Festival Golden Gate Park’s Polo Field, SF; (415) 337-6630, 8:30am. This 20th annual premier event brings together 128 national and international teams of both genders for great soccer excitement.

MAY 26–JUNE 30

Bay Area Summer Poetry Marathon Lab, 2948 16th St, SF; (415) 864-8855, 7-10pm,. $3-15 sliding scale. Various Bay Area and national poets read their work at this event held throughout the summer.

MAY 27

Antique Street Faire Main St, Pleasanton; (760) 724-9400, 8am-4pm, free. This semiannual event sponsored by the Pleasanton Downtown Association provides more than a mile of antiques and collectibles displayed by about 300 professional dealers.

Art in the Vineyard Wente Vineyards Estate Winery, 5565 Tesla, Livermore; (925) 456-2305, 11am-5pm, admission free, wine tasting $15. Mark your calendars for the 35th anniversary of this popular event, featuring 40 talented multimedia artists in addition to music by Vested Interest.

Asian Pacific Heritage Festival Bay Area Discovery Museum, 557 McReynolds, Sausalito; (415) 339-3900,, free. Experience taiko drumming, the Marin Chinese Cultural Association’s Lion Dance Team, and other Polynesian and Pacific Islander arts groups, as well as traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, and Filipino cuisine in honor of Asian Pacific Islander Month.

Caledonia Street Fair Caledonia St, Sausalito; (415) 289-4152,, free. This fest boasts multicultural food, dance, music, and more than 120 arts and crafts vendors. Don’t miss out on the Taste of Sausalito luncheon and wine-tasting event featuring food and wine prepared by select Napa and Sonoma wineries and restaurants.

MAY 28

Stone Soul Picnic Cal State East Bay’s Pioneer Amphitheatre, 25800 Carlos Bee, Hayward; 1-800-225-2277, Doors at 10am, show at noon, $56-81.50 includes parking. KBLX Radio 102.9 FM presents its 10th annual R&B and soul music event, featuring performances by Isaac Hayes, the Whispers, the Dells, and Tower of Power.

MAY 29–30

BALLE Film Fest Wheeler Auditorium, UC Berkeley, Berk; (415) 255-1108, ext 112, 6 and 8:30pm, $10 for screening, $15 for night. Business Alliance for Local Living Economies presents a two-night film festival reutf8g to BALLE principles, including Everything’s Cool, a film about global warming, and Manufactured Landscapes, a documentary about China’s industrial revolution.


Contra Costa County Fair Contra Costa County Fairgrounds,10th and L streets, Antioch; (925) 757-4400, Thurs-Fri, noon-11pm.; Sat-Sun, 11am-11pm, $4-7, parking $3. Now 70 years old, this county fair has a little of everything. Daily sea lion shows, a man dressed as a giant tree, and, of course, clown acts, are just some of the events presented to fairgoers this year.

JUNE 1–10

East Bay Open Studios Various venues; (510) 763-4361, Open studios: June 2-3, 9-10, 11am-6pm; formal artists’ reception May 31, 6-10pm, free. For more than 25 years, the East Bay Open Studios have drawn more than 50,000 visitors to Pro Arts Gallery and various artist workspaces to support the work of local artists. The public can view exhibits, purchase artwork, attend workshops, and go on an art bus tour.

Healdsburg Jazz Festival Check Web site for ticket prices and venues in and around Healdsburg; (707) 433-4644, This ninth annual week-and-a-half-long jazz festival will feature a range of artists, from the George Cables Project and Roy Hargrove Quintet to the funky Louisiana-style Rebirth Brass Band and first-rate vocalist Rhiannon.


Berkeley Farmers Market’s Strawberry Family Fun Festival Civic Center Park, Center at MLK Jr, Berk; (510) 548-3333, 10am-3pm, free. Living up to its name, this festival is a guaranteed good time for the whole family. Highlights include environmental information booths, hands-on activities, delectable strawberry shortcake, and live performances by Nigerian Brothers, EarthCapades Environmental Vaudeville, Big Tadoo Puppet Crew, and Young Fiddlers.

Heartland Festival Riverdance Farms, Livingston; (831) 763-2111, 10am-7pm, $10 advance, $12 at gate. Celebrate a summer weekend by picking berries, taking farm and garden workshops, buying fresh produce from a farmers’ market, and enjoying live music at this family event.

Sonoma Valley Vintage Race Car Festival Sonoma Plaza, Sonoma; (707) 996-1090, 5pm, free entrance. Wine and food $30 in advance, $35 at the door. A gigantic taste explosion filled with more than 30 vintage dragsters, gourmet food, and wine samples.

Springfest 2007 Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, 200 North San Pedro, San Rafael; (415) 499-8891, 1 and 5pm, $14-22. Marin Dance Theatre presents this spring program featuring various performances directed by Margaret Swarthout.

JUNE 2–3

Art Deco and Modernism Sale Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 Eighth St; (650) 599-DECO, Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 11am-5pm, $7-9. An extravagant art sale featuring pottery, books, art, vintage clothing, glass, furniture, and other accessories dating from 1900 to 1980.

Art in the Avenues Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, Ninth Ave and Lincoln; 10am-5pm. This annual exhibition and sale presented by the Sunset Artists Society brings together artists and art lovers from all over the Bay Area.

Great San Francisco Crystal Fair Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna; 383-7837, Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-4pm, $5. This year’s fair is sure to please anyone interested in mystical and healing arts. Check out the more than 40 vendors catering to all of your crystal, mineral, bead, and jewelry needs.

Union Street Festival Union between Gough and Steiner; 1-800-310-6563, 10am-6pm, free. This year marks the 31st anniversary of one of San Francisco’s largest free art festivals. In addition to more than 200 artists and 20 gourmet food booths, the event features activities that represent the history of the Union Street Festival, including a special photographic exhibit that shows Union Street as it was 100 years ago.


Marin Home Show and Benefit Jazz Fest Marin Center Exhibit Hall and Fairgrounds, San Rafael; (415) 499-6900, Sat, 10am-7pm; Sun, 10am-6pm, $8 (Sat tix include free return on Sun). Not only will there be hundreds of experts in everything from renovation to landscaping on hand to answer all of your home and garden questions, but there will also be live jazz acts to entertain you throughout the weekend. Proceeds benefit Marin County public schools.


Santa Cruz LGBT Pride March and Rally Starts at Pacific, ends at Lorenzo Park, Santa Cruz; (831) 427-4009, 11am-5pm, free. Join the largest gathering of queers and allies in Santa Cruz County. Stage lineup includes Frootie Flavors, Nedra Johnson, Twilight Vixen Revue, Horizontes, and Assemblymember John Laird. Valet bike parking provided.


Strollin’ on Main Street Party Main between St John and Old Bernal, Pleasanton; (925) 484-2199, ext 4, 6-9pm, free. Stroll down Main Street and visit vendor booths, a beer and wine garden, and a stage where featured band Drive will play.


Summer Sounds Oakland City Center, adjacent to 12th St/City Center BART Station, Oakl; Wed, noon-1pm, free. The Oakland City Center presents a weekly spotlight on an array of diverse musical artists.

JUNE 7–17

San Francisco Black Film Festival Various venues; (415) 771-9271, The festival celebrates African American cinema and the African cultural diaspora by showcasing films by black filmmakers and emphasizing the power of film to foster cultural understanding and initiate progressive social change.

JUNE 8–10

Harmony Festival Sonoma County Fairgrounds,1350 Bennett Valley, Santa Rosa; Fri, 12pm-9pm; Sat, 10am-10pm; Sun, 10am-9pm, $20-149. This year’s theme is "promoting global cooling" boasts an ecovillage offering tips for living and consuming, a well-being pavilion featuring natural remedies, and a culinary showcase of dishes using natural ingredients. Festival-goers can camp onsite and musical highlights include Brian Wilson, Erykah Badu, the Roots, moe., and Rickie Lee Jones.


Dia de Portugal Festival Kelley Park, San Jose; 10am, free. The Portuguese Heritage Society of California presents this annual festival featuring a parade, live music, food and wine, a book and art sale, and more.

Temescal Street Fair Telegraph between 48th and 51st streets, Oakl; (510) 654-6346, ext 2, Noon-5pm, free. This fair will feature live music, crafts, martial arts demonstrations and food samplings from local restaurants, including an Italian beer and wine garden, a tribute to days when the district once flourished with beer gardens and canteens.

JUNE 9–10

Italian Street Painting Festival Fifth Ave at A St, San Rafael; (415) 457-4878, ext 15, 9am-7pm, free. Street painters paint beautiful and awe-inspiring chalk artwork on the streets of San Rafael.

Live Oak Park Fair Live Oak Park, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; (510) 898-3282,, free. Is there a better way to revel in the summertime than to enjoy original arts and crafts, delicious fresh food, and live jazz by Berkeley’s Jazzschool all weekend long in beautiful Live Oak Park? Didn’t think so.

San Jose Gay Pride Festival Discovery Meadow, Guadalupe River Park, San Jose; (408) 278-5563, Sat, 10am-6pm, free; Sun, 10:30am, $15. This year’s San Jose pride celebration is two days’ worth of events, speakers, and music, including performances by the Cheeseballs, Average Dyke Band, and Smash-Up Derby. After the parade on Sunday, cruise vendor booths peddling their LGBT-friendly goods and services.

JUNE 9–24

San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon, SF; (415) 392-4400, Sat, 2 and 8pm; Sun, 2pm, $22-36. Performers from around the world converge at the Palace of Fine Arts to bring San Francisco a diverse selection of the world’s most talented dancers, including North Indian Kathak, Cantonese style Chinese lion dance, flamenco, and Middle Eastern belly dance.

JUNE 14–16

Transgender and Queer Performance Festival ODC Theater, 3153 17th St, SF; (415) 863-9834, Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 7 and 10pm, $15. Fresh Meat Productions celebrates its sixth annual festival. This year’s artists perform traditional forms and path-blazing ones: hula, taiko, traditional Colombian dance, aerial dance, spoken word, rock ‘n’ roll, theater, hip-hop, and modern dance.

JUNE 14–17

CBA 32nd Annual Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival Nevada County Fairgrounds, McCourtney, Grass Valley; Ticket prices vary. Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, Cherryholmes, the Del McCoury Band, Dan Paisley and the Southern Grass, Country Current, the US Navy Band, the Dale Ann Bradley Band, and John Reischman and the Jay Birds perform at this California Bluegrass Association bluegrass jamboree.

JUNE 14–24

Frameline31: San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival Various venues; (415) 703-8650. The 31st annual film festival by and about the LGBT community continues with a whole new program of innovative queer cinema.

JUNE 15–17

International Robogames Fort Mason Festival Pavilion, SF; Noon-10pm, $15-20. Engineers from around the world return for the fourth annual event listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest robot competition. Featuring 83 different competitions, including 18 just for walking humanoids.

JUNE 16–17

North Beach Festival Washington Square Park, 1200-1500 blocks of Grant and adjacent streets; 989-2220, 10am-6pm, free. Touted as the country’s original outdoor arts and crafts festival, the North Beach Festival celebrates its 53rd anniversary with juried arts and crafts exhibitions and sales, a celebrity pizza toss, live entertainment stages, a cooking stage with celebrity chefs, Assisi animal blessings (Vallejo/Columbus), Arte di Gesso (Italian street chalk art competition, 1500 block Stockton), indoor classical concerts (4 pm, at National Shrine of St Francis), a poetry stage, and more.

San Francisco Free Folk Festival San Francisco City College, North Gym, 50 Phelan, SF; Noon-10pm, free. Folkies unite for the 31st anniversary of this festival that features local and national artists, dances, open mics, family events, and workshops.

San Francisco Juneteenth Celebration Art of the Fillmore Jazz Presentation District, Fillmore from Geary Blvd to Fulton; 931-2729, 10am-7pm, free. This Bay Area-wide celebration celebrates African American freedom while encouraging self-development and respect for all cultures. Promoted through a community festival that celebrates and shares African American history and culture through music, the performing arts, living history, and other cultural activities. Seven full blocks of food, arts and crafts, and community and corporate information booths. Three stages of entertainment, educational speakers, and health and job fairs. All neighborhoods welcomed.


Marin Art Festival Lagoon Park, Marin Center, Ave of the Flags at Civic Center, San Rafael; (415) 388-0151, 10am-6pm, $8. More than 250 fine artists join in at the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Marin Center. Look out for the stilt walkers!

Russian River Blues Festival Johnson’s Beach, Guerneville; (952) 866-9599, 10am-6pm, $45-180. Head on down to the river for this annual affair featuring Buddy Guy, Little Richard, Koko Taylor, Roy Rogers and the Delta Kings, Lowrider Band, Elvin Bishop, and many others. Festival organizers also invite attendees to indulge in wine tasting for a nominal fee.


Native Contemporary Arts Festival Esplanade at Yerba Buena Gardens, Fourth St and Mission, SF; (415) 543-1718, 12pm-3pm, free. This fest features amazing performances, plus kids can make their own dream catchers, baskets, and bracelets.

JUNE 17–AUG 19

Stern Grove Music Festival Stern Grove, 19th Ave and Sloat, SF; Sun 2pm, free. This beloved San Francisco festival celebrating community, nature, and the arts is in its 70th season.

JUNE 20–24

Sonoma-Marin Fair Petaluma Fairgrounds, Petaluma; $8-14. This fair promotes and showcases agriculture, while displaying the diverse talents, interests, and accomplishments of the citizens of California, especially the youth of Sonoma and Marin counties. Catch acts such as Cheap Trick, SHe DAISY, and Bowling for Soup on the main stage.

JUNE 22–24

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival Mendocino County Fairgrounds, 14480 Hwy 128, Boonville; Three-day pass, $125; camping, $50-100. Camp for three days and listen to the international sounds of Bunny Wailer, Toots and the Maytals, Luciano, Ojos de Brujo, Les Nubian, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars, Junior Kelly, Sugar Minot, and many others.


Alameda County Fair Alameda County Fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton, Pleasanton; (925) 426-7559, $4-9. Enjoy opening night fireworks, carnival attractions, a wine competition, a karaoke contest, an interactive sports and fitness expo, concerts, and oh so much more.


Dyke March Dolores Park between 18th and 20th streets, SF; (415) 241-8882, Rally at 3pm; march at 7pm, free. Head on out to march with the San Francisco chapter of this now internationally coordinated rally. A Dolores Park celebration and rally precedes the march.

JUNE 23–24

San Francisco Pride 2006 Civic Center, Larkin between Grove and McAllister; 864-FREE, Celebration Sat-Sun, noon-6pm; parade Sun, 10:30am, free. A month of queer-empowering events culminates in this weekend celebration, a massive party with two days of music, food, dancing that continues to boost San Francisco’s rep as a gay mecca. Do not under any circumstances miss the parade!


Danville Fine Arts Fair Hartz Ave, Danville; (831) 438-4751, 10am-6pm, free. The quintessential arts and crafts fair descends upon Danville each year, bringing with it fine food and drink, Italian-style street painting, and more.

JUNE 23–25

King of the Bay Third Ave, Foster City; 1pm, free. See the world’s top kiteboarders and windsurfers compete at this event.

JUNE 23–30

Jazz Camp West 2006 (510) 287-8880, This eight-day jazz program for adults and older teens features more than 100 classes taught by more than 45 nationally and internationally known artists.


Stanford Jazz Festival Various venues. (650) 736-0324, This acclaimed festival has been injecting Northern California with a healthy dose of both classic and modern jazz for more than three decades.


Concert in the Hills Series Cal State East Bay, Concord Campus, 4700 Ygnacio Valley Rd, Concord; (925) 602-8654, Free. This series celebrates its eighth season with performances by acts such as Dr. Loco and His Rockin’ Jalapeño Band, Aja Vu, Joni Morris, and Native Elements.


Kate Wolf Memorial Music Festival Black Oak Ranch, Laytonville; (707) 829-7067, Fri, 1pm-midnight; Sat, 10am-11:30pm; Sun, 11am-10pm, $55-160. This annual tribute to Northern California singer-songwriter Kate Wolf, who is credited with repopularizing folk music in the 1970s, features performances by Utah Phillips, Joe Craven and Sam Bevan, the Bills, and many others. Don’t miss the "Hobo Jungle Campfire," a nightly campfire on the creek shore with story swappin’ and song jammin’ aplenty.


23rd Annual Fillmore Jazz Festival Fillmore between Jackson and Eddy, 1-800-310-6563, 10am-6pm, free. Three stages of nonstop entertainment featuring top and emerging artists. Ten blocks of art booths and gourmet food.


Marin County Fair Marin Center, Ave of the Flags at Civic Center, San Rafael; (415) 499-6400, 11am-11pm, $11-13. This county fair stands above the rest with its promise of nightly fireworks, There will be many fun, new competitions to enter this year, including the Dancing Stars Competition, in which contestants may perform any style of dance — from tap to ballroom, salsa to boogie. Also not to be missed is the 18th annual "Creatures and Models" exhibit and the 37th annual "National Short Film and Video Festival," plus food and rides and other fun fair stuff.


Vans Warped Tour 2006 Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View; (650) 967-3000. 11am, $29.99. As Cities Burn, Bad Religion, Boys Like Girls, Coheed and Cambria, Escape the Fate, Pennywise, the Used, Funeral for a Friend, Revolution Mother, the Matches, and others perform at this annual punk music and culture event.

JULY 3–4

WorldOne Festival Cerrito Vista Park, El Cerrito; Mon 5pm, Tue 10:30am, free. Worldoneradio hosts a world music and culture stage in the park. The eighth annual event is produced as a public service and fundraiser for area nonprofits.


City of San Francisco Fourth of July Waterfront Celebration Pier 39, Embarcadero at Beach, SF; (415) 705-5500, 1-9:30pm, free. SF’s waterfront Independence Day celebration features live music, kids’ activities, and an exciting fireworks show.

JULY 5–8

International Working Class Film and Video Festival New College Roxie Media Center, 3117 16th St; Held annually to commemorate the San Francisco general strike of 1934 brings together filmmakers and labor artists from around the United States and internationally.


High Sierra Music Festival Plumas Fairgrounds, 204 Fairground Rd, Quincy; (510) 595-1115, 11am-11pm, $35-156. Enjoy your favorite jam bands on five different stages and at five different late-night venues, a kid zone, arts and crafts, food and drinks, beer, yoga, dancing, camping, and more. The lineup features performances by Xavier Rudd, the Disco Biscuits, Yonder Mountain String Band, Martin Sexton, and Les Claypool.


Marin Shakespeare Company Festival Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, Dominican University of California, Grand Ave, San Rafael; (415) 499-4488, Fri-Sun, varying times, $7-30. The Marin Shakespeare Company presents its outdoor festival featuring performances of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), Henry IV, Part 1, and Henry IV, Part 2.

JULY 10–21

Mendocino Music Festival Various venues; (707) 937-2044, $15-45. David Lindley, Mollie O’Brien, the Chris Cain Quartet, and others celebrate the 21st anniversary of this classical and contemporary music festival.

JULY 12–15

World California Fest Nevada County Fairgrounds, Grass Valley; (530) 891-4098. $30-140. The 11th annual festival features eight stages and four days of music, with performances by everyone from Ani DiFranco to the Venezuelan Music Project. Camping is encouraged.

JULY 13–15

San Francisco Silent Film Festival Castro Theatre, 429 Castro, SF; (415) 777-4908, Call for times and prices. The Golden Age of the silver screen comes to life, complete with a swelling Wurlitzer.

JULY 14-15

San Francisco International Chocolate Salon Fort Mason Conference Center; Sat, 11am-6pm; Sun, 10am-4pm, $20. The first major chocolate show on the West Coast in two decades takes place this summer with the theme Chocolat, in honor of Bastille Day. Experience the finest in artisan, gourmet, and premium chocolate with tastings, demonstrations, chef and author talks, and wine pairings.


Los Altos Arts and Wine Festival Main and State, Los Altos; (650) 917-9799. Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-6pm, free. Enjoy original art and free entertainment while indulging in gourmet food and fine wine.

San Anselmo Art and Design Festival San Anselmo between Tamalpais and Bolinas, San Anselmo; 1-800-310-6563, 10am-6pm, free. The San Anselmo Chamber of Commerce brings this buffet of cooking, home, and landscape design to the masses.

JULY 19–29

Midsummer Mozart Festival Various venues; (415) 627-9141, $30-60. The Mozart-only music concert series features pianist Janina Fialkowska, the Haffner Serenades, and the Coronation Mass.


San Francisco Jewish Film Festival Various venues; (415) 621-0556, The world’s first and largest Jewish film festival has toured the Bay Area for 27 years.

JULY 21–22

Connoisseur’s Marketplace Santa Cruz Ave, Menlo Park; (650) 325-2818, 10am-6pm, free. This annual midsummer festival hosts live jazz, R&B, and rock ‘n’ roll as well as arts and crafts, chef demonstrations, international cuisine, and lots of fun for the kids.

JULY 27–29

Gilroy Garlic Festival Christmas Hill Park, Hwy 101, Gilroy; (408) 842-1625, 10am-7pm, $6-12. If 17,000 pounds of garlic bread isn’t enough of a reason to go, then all the other manifestations of this flavorful food are. Gourmet food and cook-offs, as well as free music and children’s activities, entertain you as you munch.


San Francisco Marathon Begins and ends at the Ferry Bldg, Embarcadero, SF; $110 to compete. Tighten your laces for 26.2 miles around the Bay. The less enthusiastic can run a half marathon, 5K, or "progressive marathon," instead.

Up Your Alley Dore Alley between Folsom and Howard, Folsom between Ninth and 10th streets, SF; 11am-6pm. Hundreds of naughty and nice leather lovers sport their stuff in SoMa at this precursor to the Folsom Street Fair.

AUG 3–5

Reggae on the River Dimmick Ranch, French’s Camp, Hwy 101, Piercy, Humboldt County; (707) 923-4583, $165-225. Further details pending. This year’s riverside roots and reggae fest features the Roots, Shaggy, Angelique Kidjo, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Mad Professor, the Itals, Eek-A-Mouse, Sierre Leone’s Refugee Allstars, and many others.

Reggae Rising Dimmick Ranch, French’s Camp, Hwy 101, Piercy, Humboldt County; $175 for a 3 day pass. Further details pending. This new summer festival will benefit various nonprofit groups in this southern Humboldt community and features Damian Marley, Sly and Robbie, Tanya Stephens, Fantan Mojah, and more.

AUG 4–5

Aloha Festival San Francisco Presidio Parade Grounds, near Lincoln at Graham, SF; 10am-5pm, free. The Pacific Islanders’ Cultural Association presents its annual Polynesian cultural festival featuring music, dance, arts, crafts, island cuisine, exhibits, and more.

AUG 9–12

Redwood Empire Fair Redwood Empire Fairgrounds, 1055 N State, Ukiah; (707) 462-3884, Noon-11pm, $3-6. Bring the family to this old-timey fair, complete with rides, food, and fun.

AUG 10–12

Comcast San Jose Jazz Festival Various venues; (408) 288-7557, $5. This three-day music festival hosts dozens of acclaimed musicians playing all flavors of jazz.

AUG 11

SEEN Festival 2006 People’s Park, Telegraph and Dwight, Berk; (510) 938-2463, 11:30am-5pm, $5 suggested donation. This year marks the 12th anniversary of this world music, reggae, and soul festival.

AUG 11–12

Nihonmachi Street Fair Japantown Center, Post and Webster, SF; (415) 771-9861, 11am-6pm, free. Japantown’s 34th annual celebration of the Bay Area’s Asian and Pacific Islander communities continues this year with educational booths and programs, local musicians and entertainers, exhibits, and artisans.

Pistahan Yerba Buena Gardens, 700 Howard, SF; 11am-5pm, free. The Bay Area Filipino festival of culture and cuisine features arts and crafts, live entertainment, food, and more.

Vintage Paper Fair Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, Ninth Ave at Lincoln, SF; (323) 883-1702, Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-4pm, free. Craft lovers will enjoy this fair, which presents works made from all kinds of paper — from photographs, postcards, and memorabilia to brochures and trade cards.

AUG 18–19

Solfest Solar Living Institute,13771 S Hwy 101, Hopland; (707)744-2017, "The greenest show on earth" is back for another year featuring exhibits about renewable energy, green building, ecodesign tools, organic agriculture, and much more.

SEPT 1–2

Millbrae Art and Wine Festival Broadway between Victoria and Meadow Glen, Millbrae; (650) 697-7324, 10am-5pm, free. More than 100,000 visitors will gather for this festive Mardi Gras-style celebration featuring R&B, rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, and soul music, as well as arts and crafts, food and beverages, live performance, and activities for kids.

SEPT 8–9

Mountain View Art and Wine Festival Castro between El Camino Real and Evelyn Ave, Mountain View; (650) 968-8378, 10am-6pm, free. Known as one of America’s finest art festivals, this vibrant celebration featuring art, music, and a kids’ park draws more than 200,000 arts lovers to Silicon Valley’s epicenter.


Solano Stroll Solano Ave, Berk and Albany; (510) 527-5358, 10am-6pm, free. The vibes are always mellow and the air filled with rhythm at the Solano Ave Stroll. In its 33rd year, the milelong block party will feature a pancake breakfast, booths, entertainers, a parade, and more, this year with the Going Green — It’s Easy! theme.


Expo for the Artist and Musician SomArts, 934 Brannan, SF; (415) 861-5302; 11am-6pm. This eighth annual event, sponsored by Independent Arts and Media, is the Bay Area’s only grassroots connection fair for independent arts, music, and culture, featuring workshops, performances, and networking.


California Poets Festival History Park San Jose, 1650 Center, San Jose; 10am-4:30pm, free. Celebrate California’s distinctive heritage of poets, poetry, and presses at this all-day outdoor festival. *

Compiled by Nathan Baker, Angela Bass, Sam Devine, Molly Freedenberg, and Chris Jasmin

Scott Howard



As an aficionado of the men’s-club look, I was swept into Scott Howard as if into some beautiful dream. Beyond the set of fluttering drapes that shield the host’s station from errant breezes blowing near the front door lies a world of coffee- and tea-colored wood (floor, table and chairs, wall trim), gently dim lighting, a slightly sunken floor like that of some kind of arena, and a brilliantly backlit bar standing against one wall like a sentinel.

But … we weren’t really under any delusion of having stepped into White’s or the Athenaeum in London; although Scott Howard’s interior design relies heavily on traditional materials, it gives them a spare, modern look. Lines are clean and frivolities few, and you feel that the restaurant is meant to appeal to tasteful people who know how to make much of time. There is no wasted motion or idle effect. The Cypress Club (which long occupied the space) is indeed gone for good.

The masculine cast of things isn’t surprising, if only because the restaurant’s chef-owner and eponym bear a name of double-barreled maleness. Yet Scott Howard (the restaurant, and maybe the man too) is all about elegance, not ESPN, and elegance here is understood as flowing from understatement. In this sense the place makes an interesting contrast to nearby Bix (just around the corner, on brick-lined, lanelike Gold Street), whose aura, while also male, has a distinctly more fanciful, Great Gatsby retro element. You could easily stand at Bix’s bar and indulge a brief fantasy of waiting for Nick Carraway; Scott Howard, by contrast, is very much of the here and now, spotlighted by halogen sconce lamps in the ceiling.

The tables are set comfortably far apart – a subtle touch that helps the restaurant breathe more easily and allows the restaurant’s patrons to converse in ordinary tones. And what would they be conversing about? Why, the prix fixe, of course, an innovation Howard returned to the one-and-a-half-year-old restaurant a few months ago. The deal is $32 for a three-course dinner – starter, main dish, and dessert, with a couple of choices available in each category – or $47 for the same dinner with wine pairings. (No choices as to the wines, and none needed, so far as I was concerned. The pairings were superior.)

A la carte devotees and other iconoclasts need not fret, for an entire side of the menu card is given over to the regular menu, whose entries, from a pork chop to Maine lobster to hamachi, reveal Howard’s distinctive blending of European, Asian, and all-American cooking. His style is a bit like Bradley Ogden’s, but with a less overt Middle Western bent.

It is sometimes said by cognoscenti that when visiting London and Paris, you should always go to London first so as not to be disappointed. If you start in Paris, you might find London, for all its splendors, a little tatty. A similar advisory ought to apply to Scott Howard’s tuna tartare ($12), a disk of chopped fish atop a bed of cubed avocado, with a well-modulated chorus of piperade and crisped chorizo bits on the side and, throughout, a subtle perfume of vanilla oil. This dish is so sublime that you will struggle not to order a second one (we struggled unsuccessfully), and if you start with it, you might find that it casts a shadow over everything that follows. One solution would be to have it for dessert, but this would seem odd, despite the vanilla; another would be not to have it at all, but this would be a heavy loss.

Only marginally less rapturous but considerably earthier is the orzo "mac and cheese" with tomato jam ($7 for a sizable crock), which could pass as an especially creamy risotto. ("That stuff is evil!" our server said to us with barely restrained glee. He meant "evil," of course, in the best possible, the Dame Edna, sense.) If Howard’s sensibility glides gracefully between the earthy and the sublime, then the prix fixe cooking finds a balance somewhere near the middle, in happy-medium country. The cooking here is sophisticated rather than dazzling – the kind of food your table considers for a moment in quiet admiration but does not hesitate to eat, while talking about other matters.

A tomato soup, for instance, was rich and thick, with a few flicks of fennel pollen (which looked like black pepper) cast over the molten surface and a faint hint of smokiness that suggested roasting. A plate of smoked salmon draped over a potato pancake – really more of a fritter – and garnished with a dollop of sour cream was a classic presentation, the kind of thing you might be served at your club, if you belonged to one. (Wine pairing for both: a crispy-rich albarino.)

The recurrence of salmon – Scottish, as a main course, with hedgehog mushrooms and coins of fingerling potatoes in a tarragon broth – didn’t quite make it up the mountain for me. The poached fish was fishy, the broth watery. Much better was roasted lamb loin, ruby rose in the middle, laid in two pieces atop a bed of braised spinach and scallions and finished with dribbles of truffled jus. Your club would definitely serve this with pride. (Wine pairing for both: an intense but controlled California primitivo.)

Prix fixe desserts seldom set the world on fire, and Scott Howard’s are no exception, though the sparkling moscato sounded a festive holiday note. Warm chocolate cake with blackberry coulis and whipped cream? Nice, but a rerun deep in syndication. There was nothing showy about butterscotch pudding either, except that it was dense and good, sweet but not too. Can a dessert be manly? *


Dinner: Tue.-Sat., 5:30-10 p.m.

500 Jackson, SF

(415) 956-7040

Full bar


Well-managed noise

Wheelchair accessible

Death of fun, the sequel



Fun – in the form of fairs, festivals, bars, art in the parks, and the freedom to occasionally drink alcohol in public places – is under attack in San Francisco.

The multipronged assault is coming primarily from two sources: city agencies with budget shortfalls and NIMBYs who don’t like to hear people partying. The crackdown has only intensified since the Guardian sounded the alarm last year (see “The Death of Fun,” 5/24/06), but the fun seekers are now organizing, finding some allies, and starting to push back.

Mayor Gavin Newsom and other city hall leaders have been meeting with the Outdoor Events Coalition, which formed last year in response to the threat, about valuing the city’s beloved social gatherings and staving off steep fee hikes that have been sought by the Recreation and Park, Fire, Public Works, and Police departments.

Those conversations have already yielded at least a temporary reprieve from a substantial increase in use fees for all the city’s parks. It’s also led to a rollback of the How Weird Street Faire’s particularly outrageous police fees (its $7,700 sum last year jumped to $23,833 this year – despite the event being forced by the city to end two hours earlier – before pressure from the Guardian and city hall forced it back down to $4,734).

The San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee will also wade into the issue April 25 when it considers a resolution warning that “San Francisco has become noticeably less tolerant of nightlife and outdoor events.” It is sponsored by Scott Wiener, Robert Haaland, Michael Goldstein, and David Campos.

The measure expresses this premier political organization’s “strong disagreement with the City agencies and commissions that have undermined San Francisco’s nightlife and tradition of street festivals and encourages efforts to remove obstacles to the permitting of such venues and events up to and including structural reform of government permitting processes to accomplish that goal.”

The resolution specifically cites the restrictions and fee increases that have hit the How Weird Street Faire, the Haight Ashbury Street Fair (where alcohol is banned this year for the first time), and the North Beach Jazz Festival, but it also notes that a wide variety of events “provide major fundraising opportunities for community-serving nonprofits such as HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and violence-prevention organizations that are dependent upon the revenue generated at these events.”

Yet the wet blanket crowd still seems ascendant. Sup. Michela Alioto-Pier now wants to ban alcohol in all city parks that contain playgrounds, which is most of them. Hole in the Wall has hit unexpected opposition to its relocation (see “Bar Wars,” 4/18/07), while Club Six is being threatened by its neighbors and the Entertainment Commission about noise issues. And one group is trying to kill a band shell made of recycled car hoods that is proposed for temporary summer placement on the Panhandle.

That project, as well as the proposal for drastically increased fees for using public spaces, is expected to be considered May 3 by the Rec and Park Commission, which is likely to be a prime battleground in the ongoing fight over fun.



Rec and Park, like many other city departments, is facing a big budget shortfall and neglected facilities overdue for attention. A budget analyst audit last year also recommended that the department create a more coherent system for its 400 different permits and increase fees by 2 percent.

Yet the department responded by proposing to roughly double its special event fees, even though they make up just $560,000 of the $4.5 million that the department collects from all fees. Making things even worse was the proposal to charge events based on a park’s maximum capacity rather than the actual number of attendees.

The proposal caused an uproar when it was introduced last year, as promoters say it would kill many beloved events, so it was tabled. Then an almost identical proposal was quietly introduced this year, drawing the same concerns.

“These are just preliminary numbers, and they may change,” department spokesperson Rose Dennis told us, although she wouldn’t elaborate on why the same unpopular proposal was revived.

Event organizers, who were told last year that they would be consulted on the new fee schedule, were dumbfounded. They say the new policy forces them to come up with a lot of cash if attendance lags or the weather is bad.

Mitigating such a risk means charging admission, corralling corporate sponsorship, or pushing more commerce on attendees. This may not be a hindrance for some of the well-known and sponsored events such as Bay to Breakers and SF Pride, but consider how the low-budget Movie Night in Dolores Park might come up with $6,000 instead of $250, or how additional permit fees could strangle the potential of nascent groups such as Movement for Unconditional Amnesty.

The group is sponsoring a march in honor of the Great American Boycott of 2006. On May 1 it will walk from Dolores Park to the Civic Center in recognition of immigrants’ rights. The group wanted to offer concessions, because food vendors donate a percentage of their sales to the organization, but the permit fee for propane use from the Fire Department was too high.

“They couldn’t guarantee they’d make more than $1,200 in food to cover the costs of permits,” said Forrest Schmidt, of the ANSWER Coalition, who is assisting the organizers. “So they lost an opportunity to raise funds to support their work. It’s more than $1,000 taken off the top of the movement.”

ANSWER faced a similar problem after the antiwar rally in March, when the rule regarding propane permits was reinterpreted so that a base charge, once applied to an entire event, was now charged of each concessionaire – quadrupling the overall cost. ANSWER pleaded its case against this new reading of the law and was granted a one-time reprieve. But Schmidt says none of the SFFD’s paperwork backs up a need to charge so much money.

“They kept on saying over and over again, ‘You guys are making money on this,’ ” Schmidt said. “But it’s an administrative fee to make sure we’re not setting anything on fire. It’s essentially a tax. It’s a deceitful form of politics and part of what’s changing the demographic of the city.”

The Outdoor Events Coalition, which represents more than 25 events in the city, agrees and has been meeting with city officials to hash out another interim solution for this year, as well as a long-term plan for financial sustainability for all parties.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Robbie Kowal, a coalition leader and organizer of the North Beach Jazz Festival. But he’s still concerned about what he and the coalition see as a continuing trend.

“The city is changing in some way. It’s becoming a culture of complaint. There’s this whole idea you can elect yourself into a neighborhood organization, you can invent your own constituency, and the bureaucracy has to take you seriously. Neighborhood power can be so effective in fighting against a Starbucks, but when it’s turned around and used to kill an indigenous part of that neighborhood, like its local street fair, that’s an abuse of that neighborhood power.”



Black Rock Arts Foundation, the San Francisco public art nonprofit that grew out of Burning Man, has enjoyed a successful and symbiotic partnership with the Newsom administration, placing well-received temporary artwork in Hayes Green, Civic Center Plaza, and the Embarcadero.

So when BRAF, the Neighborhood Parks Council, the city’s Department of the Environment, and several community groups decided several months ago to collaborate on a trio of new temporary art pieces, most people involved thought they were headed for another kumbaya moment. Then one of the projects hit a small but vocal pocket of resistance.

A group of artists from the Finch Mob and Rebar collectives are now at work on the Panhandle band shell, a performance space for nonamplified acoustic music and other performances that is made from the hoods of 75 midsize sedans. The idea is to promote the recycling and reuse of materials while creating a community gathering spot for arts appreciation.

Most neighborhood groups in the area like the project, and 147 individuals have written letters of support, versus the 17 letters that have taken issue with the project’s potential to draw crowds and create noise, litter, graffiti, congestion, and a hangout for homeless people.

But the opposition has been amplified by members of the Panhandle Residents Organization Stanyan Fulton (PROSF), which runs one of the most active listservs in the city, championing causes ranging from government sunshine to neighborhood concerns. The group, with support from Sup. Ross Mirkarimi’s staff, has delayed the project’s approval and thus placed its future in jeopardy (installation was scheduled to begin next month).

“My main concern would be that this is a very narrow strip of land that is bordered by homes on both sides,” said neighbor Maureen Murphy, who has complained about the project to the city and online through the PROSF. “My fear is that there is going to be amplification and more people and litter.”

The debate was scheduled to be heard by the Rec and Park Commission on April 19 but was postponed to May 3 because of the controversy. Nonetheless, Newsom showed up at the last hearing to offer his support.

“Rare do I come in front of committee, but I wanted to underscore … the partnership we’ve had with Black Rock Arts Foundation. It’s been a very successful one and one I want to encourage this commission to reinforce,” Newsom told the commission. “I think the opportunity exists for us … to take advantage of these partnerships and really bring to the forefront in people’s minds more temporary public art.”

Rachel Weidinger, who is handling the project for BRAF, said the organizers have been very sensitive to public input, neighborhood concerns, environmental issues, and the impacts of the project, at one point changing sites to one with better drainage. And she’s been actively telling opponents that the project won’t allow amplified music or large gatherings (those of 25 or more will require a special permit). But she said that there’s little they can do about those who simply don’t want people to gather in the park.

“We are trying to activate park space with temporary artwork,” she said. “Guilty as charged.”

Yet any activated public space – whether a street closed for a fair or a march, a park turned into a concert space, or a vacant storefront turned into a nightclub – is bound to generate a few critics. The question for San Francisco now is how to balance NIMBY desires and bureaucratic needs with a broader concern for facilitating fun in the big city.

“Some people have the idea that events and nightlife are an evil to be restricted,” Wiener said. But his resolution is intended as “a cultural statement about what kind of city we want to live in.” *


Her lip gloss be poppin’


Lil Mama — I love you and your gloss. Baby Pride!

If I can score an interview with her, I’ll totally freak out. I’ll get lip gloss all on the receiver. L’Oreal! MAC! Watermelon Crush!

Hot Lex



SUPER EGO Lesbians: is there nothing they can’t do? They can run a contemporary art gallery in thigh-baring Versace, tossing back their Paul Labrecqued locks as they leap from their roofless 330Ci. They can go from homeless crack addict to nude Hugo Boss model without gaining a single ounce. They can be a smokin’-hot Latina named Papi, a sassy, brassy canoodler who just happens — surprise! — to be a whiz at hoops. Astonishing lesbians!

Oh, wait. That’s The L Word — about as far from the real world of gloriously rambunctious, wild San Francisco dykes as you can get without scarfing down a gift sack of MAC Pervette lip frost, doing Pilates to Ashlee Simpson ("I am me!"), and microwaving Cheeto, your stump-tailed calico cat. Yes, yes, I know the writhing isle of televised lesbos that L makes LA out to be is one big, fat, easy, anorexic target. Don’t get your Mary Green panties in a bunch, Caitlyn. Just lie back, relax, and think of Joan Jett and Carmen Electra. It’s OK. But just as Chuck D. once bemoaned the fact that most of his heroes don’t appear on no stamps, so my homo heroes don’t appear on no Showtime.

Case in point: Lila Thirkield, the superhumanly vivacious owner of SF sapphic outpost the Lexington Club. When I first moved here in the early ’90s, I almost turned straight or something. The San Francisco my naive dreams envisioned was full of hot, scruffy, tattooed boys into hip-hop and punk, all of them on goofy, gleaming bicycles, occasionally in drag. What I got were mostly overgymed proto–circuit queens in pink spandex thongs and cracked-out twinks you could practically see through. Great if I needed to floss, but … And while all the cute ex–ACT UPers were somewhere adrift — busy shearing sleeves off flannels, maybe — it was the rough-and-tumble sistas who really dotted the t’s on my fanboy résumé. Dykes ruled it.

That was back when wallet chains were radical and FTMs were the new It girls. I’m dating myself, but who wouldn’t, hello? Alas, despite all those Sister Sledge–soundtracked strides up the rainbow of equal signs, women could still get kicked out of bars for making out. Wha? It was a gay man, man, man’s world, and the few lesbian watering holes hewed strictly to the old-school standards: alternadykes, calm down.

Thirkield, a spiky-souled kid at the time, stepped up and opened the Lexington in 1997 to give dykes of a different stripe a dive of their own. Like all bars clever enough to fill a cultural gap, the Lex galvanized its community and reinforced the new, boisterous lesbo aesthetic that combined street activism, machismo appropriation, punk rock attitude, and a winking yen for girly pop culture. And hot sex, of course.

"It seemed so important to have a space where we could be creative, where artists, street kids, and young people could hook up and express themselves," Thirkield says. "It was my first time running a bar, but it was like the whole community was running it with me."

Over the past decade the Lex has persevered in the same spirit. "The economics of the city have really changed," Thirkield says. "Our crowd has a really hard time living here now — that’s why we never charge a cover and we always support other things going on. But really, we’re doing better than ever."

The young drinking dyke crowd has also expanded, finding homes over the years in such spaces as the Phone Booth and Pop’s, as well as legendary joints such as Sadie’s Flying Elephant and the Wild Side West. New bar Stray is catering to a mostly female clientele, and, although lesbian spaces Cherry and the old Transfer have succumbed, a slew of roving dyke dance parties have taken root.

"The dyke scene has changed in the past 10 years too," Thirkield says. "It’s more diverse. Certain aspects of it are more visible in the media — some people expect different things. We get a lot more complaints from people coming in for the first time, saying things like ‘It’s such a dive!’ Well, yes, that’s exactly what it is. I mean, it’s great that lipstick types exist. I hope they find a place that makes them happy. But if you want to flick your lighter and sing along to old Journey songs with a roomful of babes from around the world — like during Pride last year — this is the place."

And what about that pesky L Word? "We get a big crowd to watch it on Sunday nights — mostly because they can’t afford cable. Then they stay for an hour afterward, drinking and bitching about it. So it’s great for business!" *


Sat/14, 8 p.m.–2 a.m., free

3464 19th St., SF

(415) 863-2052

Superlist No. 828: MMA fight clubs



You’ve seen them on cable reality shows or pay-per-view: muscle-bound men with the temperament of abused pit bulls smashing and kicking each other into bloody pulps while the crowd roars with approval. It might be the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Pride Fighting Championship, Vale Tudo, or a host of other names given to the brutal — and increasingly popular — realm of mixed martial arts (MMA).

A combination of standard Western boxing, traditional Thai boxing known as Muay Thai, jujitsu, and other fighting techniques, MMA has only been legal in California for one year, a selling point for many local martial arts schools. Some of the competition’s brightest stars hail from Bay Area clubs. A course in MMA is a serious exercise in masochism. Could you be the next champ?

Twenty-four-year-old Gilbert Melendez, last year’s winner of the Pride FC held in Nagoya, Japan, trains exclusively at Fairtex Muay Thai Fitness (132–140 Hawthorne, SF. 1-888-324-7839, The vast gym holds heavy bags for striking, a full-size boxing ring, ample floor space for grappling and yoga, a full range of free weights and machines, and an almost constant feed of fighting competitions on the facility’s numerous wide-screen televisions.

Eduardo Rocha Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy (3600 Grand, Oakl. 510-207-6640, trains students in grappling fundamentals, but Rocha and some of his advanced students spend a lot of time training for competition. The training atmosphere is intimate, and Rocha’s students took top honors at the 2006 Pan-American Jiu-Jitsu Championships.

Located in the Dogpatch, Universal Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (2572 Third St., SF. 415-282-5700, offers classes in MMA on Wednesday nights.

While Ralph Gracie Jiu-Jitsu ( has two locations, one in Berkeley (1500 Ashby, Berk. 510-486-8000) and the other in San Francisco (178 Valencia, SF. 415-522-477), Gracie and his brothers have been opening new academies around the world every month. Gracie, himself a champion, retains black belts who trained under him to run his academies. Kurt Osiander, nicknamed the Rhino, heads the San Francisco academy; Carlos "Sapoa" Oryzune instructs at the Berkeley academy.

One of a few schools that split from Fairtex a few years ago after the 2003 shooting death of Fairtex San Francisco founder Alex Gong, Fight and Fitness (734 Bryant, SF. 415-495-2211, can be found in SoMa about a block away from the Hall of Justice. Inside the small and musty gym, fighters train at all levels with instructors such as Bunkerd Faphimai, a three-time world champion in Muay Thai. A row of championship belts hangs from a 20-foot rafter.

Another Fairtex offshoot lies back across the bridge near downtown Oakland. Pacific Ring Sports (659 15th St., Oakl. 510-444-5269) offers many of the same classes as Fight and Fitness. The facility is about twice the size, however, and its boxing classes are among the most popular in the Bay Area. The room has a large weight room, a boxing ring, wrestling mats, and a bunch of punching bags. MMA classes are taught twice a week, while Muay Thai, jujitsu, and boxing remain mainstays of the curriculum.

World Team USA (2575 Ocean, SF. 415-333-3496, claims to train MMA fighters, but its strong suit is Muay Thai. The MMA classes are a little more than an hour long, much shorter than at some of the other gyms, but this school offers a good base for someone who might not be looking to fight professionally — and lots of kids’ classes too.

Open Door Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (2935 Chapman, Oakl. 510-532-3803) is very close to I-880 and about a 15-minute walk from the Fruitvale BART Station. The style of jujitsu taught here is meant for total-body strangulation, so it isn’t the place to learn some mean-ass strikes. Kids can take self-defense classes here too. *

SFIAAFF: These monsters are real


› a&

"Even though it’s difficult to be human, let’s not turn into monsters." This is said as a reprimand to Gyung-soo (Kim Sang-kyung), a mildly successful stage actor, by one of his colleagues early in South Korean director Hong Sang-soo’s Turning Gate (2002). Gyung-soo repeats the words twice more in the film — first to make amends with his old friend Sung-woo after a liquor-soaked spat and then over the phone in a failed attempt to shame the woman, Myung-sook (Ye Ji-won), who eventually leaves him for Sung-woo.

Yes, it’s difficult to be human, especially in a Hong film, given that his characters’ attempts to satiate their own emotional needs often devolve into cruel and childish displays of selfishness. With each repetition Gyung-soo seems to be reassuring himself that he understands the significance of his friend’s words, but with each successive film, Hong seems to suggest that maybe no one really does understand.

Hong writes in his director’s statement for his most recent feature, Woman on the Beach (2006), "Repetition is a great framework and basis for filmmaking. On the other hand, if repetition is part of a person’s behavior, we can take that as an indication of obsession. I wanted to see through repetition, but also to reduce repetition." Like Sung-woo in Turning Gate or Woody Allen throughout his messily imbricated career, Hong’s films grapple with the question of seeing through repetition: can we ever do something over as an intervention rather than a symptom? It is the problem many of the characters in Hong’s films — particularly the men — struggle with, stumble over, deny, and often by movie’s end, are unexpectedly forced to confront.

Indeed, Hong’s entire oeuvre seems like evidence of a repetition compulsion to tell variations of the same story. It’s a tale that goes something like this: an unexpected reunion between two middle-aged buddies gradually sours when old insecurities and jealousies are played out in a pathetic rivalry over a woman, resulting in innumerably consumed bottles of soju (real), some of the most spectacularly uncomfortable sex scenes ever committed to film (fake), and damaged egos all around.

In The Power of Kangwon Province (1998) we revisit the popular vacation locale twice in two subtly interlocking narratives told from the perspectives of a college professor and his student who recently ended their affair. Later in the aforementioned Turning Gate, Gyung-soo falls in love with a stranger on a train, though he’s clearly trying to regain his crushed pride after Myung-sook uses and drops him. Woman Is the Future of Man (2004) focuses on two old friends reuniting to see the woman they both once loved. It’s a meeting that leaves all parties disappointed. In 2005’s Tale of Cinema (Hong at his most meta) a sad-sack filmmaker attempts to re-create the courtship portrayed in his rival director’s film — which he claims was inspired by events from his own life — with its lead actress to predictably lukewarm effect.

Watching Hong’s films back-to-back is a bit like experiencing one of the protracted drinking jags his characters frequently undertake. You emerge bleary-eyed with a hangover from the desperation and ugliness you’ve witnessed. Exactly what happened and who got fucked (over) remain a blur, but the mundane conversations and chance encounters that incrementally and elliptically contributed to the general unpleasantness are strangely crystal clear. Such a viewing binge sets into relief the careful orchestration behind the happenstance realism often attributed to Hong’s matter-of-fact style of filmmaking. The conversations no longer seem mundane, encounters are only chance for the characters involved but not for the viewer, and the deadpan humor of many of the films’ situations becomes more apparent, as does Hong’s subtle skewering of romantic comedy and buddy movie clichés (such maudlin scores!).

What then can we make of all the women who are both objects of and obstacles to the men’s internal returns? While it’s tempting to read Woman Is the Future of Man‘s title as a neon arrow pointing toward the way out, Woman on the Beach suggests a necessary detour through another popular excursion destination: Shinduri Beach. Gray and lifeless in the off-season, this small town on Korea’s west coast serves as the natural backdrop (much like the breathtaking scenery of Mount Odae in Power) for two overlapping love triangles, which in typical Hong fashion form as quickly as they dissolve and neatly bisect the narrative.

Film director and lech Joong-rae (Kim Seung-woo) is trying to hammer out a new script but seems more interested in putting the moves on the headstrong girlfriend, Moon-sook (Ko Hyeon-gang), of his friend Chang-wook (Kim Tae-woo). Chang-wook, clearly aware that he has been dishonored, drives back to Seoul with Moon-sook. Two days later Joong-rae randomly interviews (and later sleeps with) a woman named Sun-hee (Song Seon-mi), whom he repeatedly compares to Moon-sook. Sun-hee eventually crosses paths with the woman she resembles, despite her and Joong-rae’s slapstick precautionary measures to avoid such an encounter. The women’s claws are soon retracted as the soju hits their bloodstreams, and Moon-sook calls it like it is: "Two women shouldn’t be fighting dirty over a man. It’s boring. This is why hell is boring."

Not all of Hong’s characters are such astute, self-critical observers. Their rapacious appetites — for sex and booze (often in combination); for love (often hastily declared while drunkenly having sex); for recognition from their peers and families; in short, for a balm to ease the atrophying routine of middle age — brings to mind another Korean monster currently stalking theaters, whose own indiscriminate satisfaction of its needs also invariably damages those closest to it.

At the same time, to call them monsters, however loutishly or cruelly they treat each other, would be to resolutely condemn them. Hong’s meticulous direction and his actors’ extremely nuanced (even when under the influence) performances refrain from going so far. Much in the same way that a competitive skater or gymnast repeatedly watches footage of their falls to pinpoint the exact moment and cause of mechanical error, Hong’s films let us see up close, again and again, the ways in which the veracity of our needs and desires causes us to fumble our relationships — with lovers, with friends, with strangers — regardless of our intentions. In the words of Aaliyah, "If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again." Hong is willing to grant his characters, however confused or outright pathetic, at least that much. *


March 16–25

For schedule, call or see Web site

(415) 865-1588


Why people get mad at the media (part l2) The New York Times answers questions about its slow coverage of the Walter Reed scandal but stonewalls on its censorship of Project Censored


By Bruce B. Brugmann

Byron Calame, the public editor of the New York Times, spent an entire column in the Sunday New York Times (March ll) answering an important question:

“Why,” Calame asked in his lead, “were readers of the New York Times left without a word of news coverage of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal for six days after it had been exposed by the Washington Post?
That was the question posed to me in the wake of the Post’s Feb. l8 scoop by readers thirsty for readers thirsty for news of the poor care given those wounded in Iraq.”

As attentive readers of the Bruce blog will recall, I raised an even more important question as to why the Times and its sister paper in Santa Rosa (the Press Democrat) have for 30 years refused to run the Project Censored story from the local Sonoma State University. I have also asked Calame, and Times and PD editors, why they won’t run the Project Censored story, even though its stories before and during the Iraq War laid out much of the key neocon policy behind the war and the anti-war strategies in opposing it. Neither Calame nor any Times nor editor would answer me nor provide an explanation to Carl Jensen, the project’s current founder, nor Peter Phillips, the current director, for their censorship of the Censored Project through the years.

This is highly significant in light of Calame’s Sunday column. “Readers have every right to be angry about the Times’s slowness in telling them about the compelling news in The Post’s two-part series,” he wrote.
((I won’t raise the question here as to why neither the Post nor the Times, nor any of the beltway journalists, didn’t get the stories months earlier at nearby Walter Reed and why they didn’t respond earlier to the accelerating drumbeat of criticism of lousy treatment of returning soldiers from veterans, their families, and veteran’s organizations.)

Calame did find the culprit: “Excessive pride, I believe, is the fundamental problem. The desire to be first with the news still permeates the newsroom at the Times and other newspapers in a way that makes editors and reporters feel defeated when they have to conclude that the information in another publication’s exclusive article is so newsworthy that it has to be pursued.” Good point: but what about newsworthy stories broken by other publications, picked up by Project Censored, stamped “Censored,” and put out as a major package that the Times and other mainstream media then refused to print? Was “excessive pride” at work here for 30 years? Is that much of an excuse on stories as big as Iraq and Bush?

I pointed out in my earlier blog that the Censored stories were particularly timely during the war years.
For example, on Sept. l0, 2003, while the Times and the PD and affiliated papers on its news service, were running the stories of the disgraced Judith Miller that helped Bush make the case for the Iraq War and then seeking to justify it, the Guardian ran the Censored package with a headline that read, “The neocon plan for global domination–and nine other big stories the mainstream press refused to cover in 2002.” I noted that our introduction to the timely censored package made the critical point: “If there’s one influence that has shaped world-wide politics over the past year, it’s the extent to which the Bush administration hs exploited the events of Sept. ll, 200l, too solidify its military and economic control of the world at the expense of democracy, true justice, and the environment. But President George Bush W. Bush hasn’t simply been responding to world events. The agenda the administration has followed fits perfectly with a clearly defined plan that’s been in place for a decade.”

I noted that the neocon story, and the many other such stories that Project Censored put out during the war years and again this year, laying out the drumbeat to war and the dark side of the Bush administration, got no play in the Times nor the PD and very little play in the rest of the mainstream press and its “embedded” and “mission accomplished” journalism that marched us into war and is now keeping us there. Who was right, the Guardian and Project Censored stories or Judith Miller and the Times?

Calame wrote that “readers would benefit if the
Times could swallow a bit of its pride and make use of two readily available approaches to dealing with important news in the scoops of competing competitors.” He said the Times could put the stories of competitors up on its web and they could be encouraged to use “solidly reported wire stories” of significant exclusives in other publications. What about the Censored stories?

Calame concluded, “The reality is that when significant news breaks–even in the form of an exclusive in a competing publication–the Times must be committed to getting on the story. Anything less seriously damages the paper’s value to the readers.”

Another good point: so repeating for emphasis: Why won’t the Times and the PD run the Project Censored stories
that were so often on target when the Times wasn’t? And why won’t the Times and its public editor answer or even acknowledge the question and underlying issues of biased reporting, flawed news judgment, and too much lapdog access to the Bush administration? I’m sending this blog to them and asking once again.

I am waiting for the public editor and Times/PD editors to reply. Is this like waiting for Godot? Stay tuned. B3

Project censored blog:

Byron Calame’s The public editor:

Scruff trade


› a&

Forty years ago Bruce Nauman made a squat, unpainted block of plaster sculpture titled A Cast of the Space under My Chair. This single work, one of dozens in the Berkeley Art Museum’s absorbing exhibition "A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman in the 1960s," is said to have provided enough inspiration to fuel the career of British artist Rachel Whiteread, who famously cast the interior of a condemned Victorian house. Nauman’s sculpture, here seen as cast exhibition copy, could easily be overlooked. It’s modest in scale and, like much of this show, constructed with the most basic materials. The piece points, as do others, to Nauman’s uncanny and influential ability (Matthew Barney’s use of physical endurance and film are connected to Nauman) to activate negative space, be it a physical zone or the creative void artists face in the studio. As is evidenced here, he exalts, questions, liberates, and gibes the anxiety-ridden act of making art, irrespective of material form. He quite often relies on the one thing always at hand: his body.

The show, curated by BAM’s Constance Lewallen, is limited to works made during five prolific years while Nauman lived in Northern California. There are an impressive number of classics here, including Self-Portrait as a Fountain, a 1966–67 photograph of the artist squirting an arc of water from his mouth, and Wax Impressions of the Knees of Five Famous Artists, a 1966 phlegm-colored, rectangular wall sculpture that subverts the promise of its title (it’s fiberglass, and all the knees are Nauman’s). But the exhibition is less about masterpieces than it is about the spirit of experimentation that’s always been a hallmark of Bay Area art making. In four galleries fitted with drawings, sculpture, photography, film, video, and neon, text, and sound works, the show easily proves its thesis: Nauman established his artistic vocabulary — using whatever means necessary to focus on the physical, playful use of language and that sense of void — while living here. "Rose" also communicates the thrill of seeing the vision, propelled by a sustained, successful run of art production, of an artist who became one of the most important of his generation.

It’s rare to see static and projected works installed together so handsomely, and the spare yet lively exhibition design is a key to the show’s success. Nauman’s promiscuous use of media is in glorious effect throughout. In the first gallery, fiberglass sculptures cast from architecture and forming homely objects sit next to videos that find the artist slowly and sometimes suggestively interacting with a corner of a room or a glowing fluorescent light tube. Nearby, small ceramic works from 1965 depict imploding cups and saucers. Drawings and neon present Nauman’s interest in text and wordplay. Later the exhibition adds Nauman’s quasi-how-to 16mm films, pieces that illustrate his interest in the notion of making. Andy Warhol made dry, deadpan films concurrently, but Nauman’s are more boyishly wry and reveal the artist getting his hands dirty, literally. Challenging the hegemony of minimalism, Nauman channeled the 1960s spirit of political and lifestyle fomentation. His classic studio videos, in which he engaged in repetitive, sometimes strenuous physical acts for the camera (Bouncing in the Corner, No.1 and Stamping in the Studio, both 1968, among them), directly link the artist to his work.

Lewallen’s decision to focus on pieces made in a specific region, one outside the art world mainstream, introduces elements of Bay Area art history and the contested notion of regionalism and place in a contemporary art scene ruled by international biennials and art fairs. Here we see pieces made while Nauman was in the nascent graduate art program at secluded UC Davis, where he studied with William Wiley and Robert Arneson and TA’d for Wayne Thiebaud. That backdrop indirectly surveys the role of graduate schools when they were affordable — and in this case, laid-back and apart from the limelight and marketplace.

Nauman has always seemed to operate as a lone cowboy and has long resided in New Mexico, far from art world centers. He’s notoriously reticent about attending openings, though he surprised everyone by showing up in Berkeley for this one. The exhibit’s catalog pinpoints Nauman’s onetime studio at 144 27th St. in the Mission District, a neighborhood still attractive to artists. But "Rose" doesn’t so much suggest a Bay Area aesthetic as use location as a framing device.

In a 1970 interview Nauman said that his work was initially confused with funk art, a 1950s-born movement that had a strong Bay Area presence in the early work of Bruce Conner and others. "It looked like it in a way," he said, "but really I was just trying to present things in a straightforward way without bothering to shine them and clean them up." Scruffy still works around here, and in that spirit the show generates a frisson of hometown pride that feels anything but sentimental. It’s heartening to see what amazing things emerge from under the radar. *


Through April 15

Wed. and Fri.–Sun., 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thurs., 11 a.m.–7 p.m., $4–$8 (free first Thurs.)

Berkeley Art Museum

2626 Bancroft Way, Berk.

(510) 642-0808


The ethics of flacks



They go by many names: public relations professionals, spokespeople, public information officers, press secretaries, liaisons, public affairs practitioners, press agents, or — the widely used slang — flacks. They are the gatekeepers of records and access to their powerful bosses, either a conduit or barrier for those seeking information.

A spotlight was shined on the role of flacks in San Francisco last month when Peter Ragone, then the influential press secretary for Mayor Gavin Newsom, was caught posting comments under fake names on some local blogs and then lying about it to journalists.

The incident prompted Board of Supervisors president Aaron Peskin to call for Ragone’s ouster (which Newsom resisted, before last week transferring Ragone to his reelection campaign team, where he’s not dealing directly with the press or public) and to craft legislation creating standards of conduct for the city’s public information officers.

"There are bright ethical lines that cannot be crossed," Peskin told the Guardian. "Passing this is a wake-up call to people so busy playing politics that they’ve forgotten their moral responsibility."

The code calls for the city’s public information officers to be honest and accessible and to "advance the free flow of accurate and truthful information to the public and the press."

The legislation, which will soon be heard in the Rules Committee before going to the full board, notes that "it is critically important that Public Information [Officers] are viewed by citizens and the media as honest and trustworthy brokers of information" and "deception and disinformation severely damages the public trust and limits the City’s ability to serve the public."

Many activists and journalists say that’s a serious problem right now, particularly in the Mayor’s Office of Communications, which has become known for aggressively pushing deceptive political spin and repeatedly blocking the release of public documents, according to rulings by the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force. In addition to Ragone, deputy press secretary Jennifer Petrucione is widely seen by those she deals with as a less than forthright and forthcoming broker of information.

But new press secretary Nathan Ballard, whose first day was March 5, said he supports the Peskin legislation and promises to maintain high ethical standards. "My overall philosophy is I’d like an accessible press office. You should be able to get the information you need with dispatch," he told us. "The public has a right to receive information from us that is true, accurate, and fair."

He made a distinction between private-sector public relations people and public-sector information officers, noting that the latter should be held to a higher standard of conduct because they work for taxpayers, not corporations or just politicians. It was a point echoed by City Attorney’s Office spokesperson Matt Dorsey, one of the most widely respected flacks in San Francisco.

"I have a duty to taxpayers and citizens to provide information, whether it’s good for my client or not," Dorsey told us. "Even when you’re working for an elected official, it’s the taxpayers who pay you."

Dorsey accepts that it’s the nature of the job and a free democratic society that sometimes his boss will take lumps in the press, but he said, "I will never hold it against a journalist for portraying the city attorney as a bad guy when we do look like the bad guy."

Eileen Shields, spokesperson for the Department of Public Health, agreed: "I don’t think of my client as the Department of Public Health of Mitch Katz. I think of it as the people of San Francisco."

But other flacks, such as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Maggie Lynch, have a more adversarial relationship with the press and have been known to chew out journalists who write unflattering stories, although she agrees that flacks should maintain high ethical standards.

"It’s my job to point out what’s good about what the agency does," Lynch told us. "I pride myself on my directness and my honesty…. I think the standards should be the same for reporters and public information officers, that you need to be honest."

As the tenor of her comments indicates, there can be a dynamic tension between flacks and journalists that sometimes gets testy. And that can be exacerbated when the flack works for an agency under strong public scrutiny, such as Muni or the Mayor’s Office.

That’s why Peskin said his code is important. "Transparency in an electoral democracy is what keeps the system honest," said Peskin, who agreed that the issues associated with the Mayor’s Office of Communications go beyond the lie Ragone told about his blogging. "There is no question the Mayor’s Office has repeatedly failed to adhere to the Sunshine Ordinance."

Without commenting on the past, Ballard pledged to cooperate in the future. "We will comply with the spirit and the letter of the Sunshine Ordinance."

In addition to Peskin’s legislation, City Attorney Dennis Herrera has announced a new program that offers expanded training for the city’s flacks, covering Sunshine Ordinance compliance, legal guidance, and ethical guidelines. "It would be up to policy makers whether they want to make it mandatory," Dorsey said.

Ironically, the Guardian attempted to interview someone from the Public Relations Society of America (whose code of conduct Peskin incorporated into his legislation) for this story, but we were unsuccessful despite days of trying. Judy Voss, the contact person listed in its code of ethics, referred me to Janet Troy, the vice president of public relations, who spent 10 minutes asking me questions about the questions I had and said she would have someone get back to me. Despite several days of my calling and e-mailing her, neither she nor anyone from the PRSA got back to me by press time.

Luckily, there are alternatives to the PRSA. The National Association of Government Communicators has an even stricter code of conduct for public-sector flacks. It includes this central tenet: "We believe that truth is inviolable and sacred; that providing public information is an essential civil service; and that the public-at-large and each citizen therein has a right to equal, full, understandable, and timely facts about their government." *




Carl de Keyzer

This year the co-op Magnum Photos, founded by Robert Capa and other war photographers, celebrates its 60th birthday. Magnum is still owned by its photodocumentarian members, such as Carl de Keyzer, who used a two-week stay in San Francisco during 2000 to shoot Fleet Week and the Pride parade. De Keyzer’s nine monographs include 2003’s Zona, a study of the bizarre realities presented by Siberian prison camps in the post-Soviet era, and 1992’s God, Inc., a Winnebago tour through the extremes of US Christianity during the Gulf War. This exhibition brings together selections from both books. (Johnny Ray Huston)

Through April 28
Tues.–Sat., 10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m., free
Robert Koch Gallery
49 Geary, fifth floor, SF
(415) 421-0122


“The Progressive Woman: Continuing Artistic and Self-Defining Work Beyond Your Twenties”

Can you really have it all? For Women’s History Month, the women at Bindlestiff Studios round up a group of female Filipino American artists for a discussion on how they balance career, self, art, and family as they progress into adulthood. The panel includes singer-songwriter Golda “Supernova” Sargento and Eliza Barrios from the performance and visual art group Mail Order Brides. All proceeds from the event will benefit its continued support of artists. (Elaine Santore)

8 p.m., $8
Bindlestiff Studios
505 Natoma, SF
(415) 255-0440

Pinkos, painters, and pansies



REVIEW Los Angeles has lately become quite a hot spot for queer studies scholars, their investigations slipping out of the Hollywood Babylon mode of starstruck speculation and into the lives of everyday Angelenos. In the wake of Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons’s well-received 2006 volume, Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians (Basic Books), comes Daniel Hurewitz’s Bohemian Los Angeles and the Making of Modern Politics, an ambitious, fascinating attempt to show how Communists, postsurrealist artists, civil rights activists, and pre-gay "fairies" converged in the crucible of early 20th-century Silver Lake — then called Edendale — to create the modern notion of identity, in particular queer identity.

Bohemian Los Angeles is bookended by two extraordinary characters who made their home in Edendale: lauded vaudeville female impersonator Julian Eltinge and gay-rights giant Harry Hay. Both of these men had sex with other men, but they couldn’t have been more distant in their conception of their own identity. The idea of gayness, or the notion of a true inner self that relied on sexuality to achieve its public expression, was as alien to Eltinge and his time (the 1910s) as Grand Theft Auto. Despite the expensive stage gowns and fellatio, the otherwise macho Eltinge was enraged by the showy "cissies," dandies, and fairies who claimed to have "woman’s blood in them" and made up much of his fan base. For him and other prominent male-on-males, homosexuality was a private act that needed no community or publicity to ensure its satisfaction. Hay, who came to prominence 40 years later as the first official gay activist, was a different fish entirely. His Mattachine Society insisted that homosexuality was an underlying impulse knitting everyone who was "that way" into a kinship with a shared cause: civil rights.

Hurewitz’s project is to trace how Eltinge’s view gave way to Hay’s, how activity was transformed into identity and gay pride was born. To do this, he recounts the history of Edendale as one of transformative communities, paying close attention to the artists who gathered around guru Jack Zeitlin in the late 1920s and began exploring the idea of an inner essence that could be communicated through the arts. He looks at members of the Communist Party of Los Angeles who experimented in communal living in Edendale in the 1930s and, in the wake of World War II’s Zoot Suit Riots and Japanese internments, agitated for a notion of civil rights based on ethnic identity. And he tracks the growth of homosexual networks in LA, the prototypes of a community based on sexual desire.

All of these bohemian groups, Hurewitz argues, laid the groundwork for Hay’s and others’ ultimate politicization, their embrace of a sexual inner essence worthy of public declaration. A further inspiration was the steep uptick in homosexual arrests in the 1920s, as the city’s politicos seized on the notion of "degeneracy" as a moral-panic strategy. (One of Hurewitz’s fabulous insights is that the idea of degeneracy was once embraced by some homosexual men as a way to divorce their actions from their character.)

Many gays today feel exhausted by identity politics yet trapped in a ghetto of conformist sexual expression. Refreshingly, this sharply written, well-researched history brings to light some of the magically diverse, willfully perverse, and politically immersed foundations of who we are now. *


By Daniel Hurewitz

University of California Press

377 pages



SF Weekly’s bizarre source


By Tim Redmond

I just read Ron Russell’s big story in the SF Weekly about former Police Chief Earl Sanders, and I’m a bit dumfounded.
The gist of the story is that Sanders – the city’s first black police chief and the author of a a new book on the Zebra killings – trumped up his record as a civil-rights leader in the department and glossed over some real problems in his tenure as a homicide cop. That may be true; I haven’t read the book, although I know that Sanders was involved in a frame-up that sent two innocent young men to prison. (I know that because A.C. Thompson, who now writes for the Weekly, wrote about it for the Guardian – a fact conveniently left out of Russell’s story.)
But what left me reeling was Russell’s use of a source named Louis Calabro.
In the story, Calabro is portrayed as an entirely credible former cop whose comments about Sanders are worth legitimate consideration. He’s quoted numerous times. High up in the piece, he’s described as the emcee of a memorial for victims of the notorious Zebra killings and as “one of Earl Sanders’ staunchest critics [who] heads the European American Issues Forum, a group whose proclaimed mission is to promote the rights of persons of “European American” heritage.”
Actually, there’s a bit more to the story.
It’s not hard to learn about Calabro’s organization and his background. You can Google him and it comes up pretty quickly. This is a guy whose website, has headlines like“Why the World Hates Jews Part 1” and “Why Do So Many People Hate Jews? He tried to trademark the term “white pride country wide” (the government demurred).
He has gone off on a tear, over and over again, against groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which provide anti-hate-speech materials to schools.
Calabro came by the Guardian office once to complain that I wouldn’t run his letters, and he tried to convince us that the real story about World War Two was the internment of German-Americans.
Calabro insists that his group is not racist and that it doesn’t condone negative comments about any racial group. And while the white-nationalist people at Stormfront post his stuff, some of the denizens there don’t particularly like him. In fact, he (properly) calls the hard-core white power people out for being racists.
Still, this is not a man who has any credibility whatsoever when it comes to criticizing the conduct of an African American cop in a complex racially charged murder case.
When I asked Russell about it, he emailed me and said: “Of course I know who he is. The story makes it abundantly clear where Mr. Calabro is coming from. I fail to see why you think quoting him was inappropriate.”
Well: I don’t think I’ve ever seen another credible media outlet refer to Calabro as anything other than someone whose opinions on race are well outside the mainstream of acceptability in a multicultural society.
Oops. I suspect that over at the Weekly, they’re having what we call the Big Cringe.

Valentine’s Day shopping guide

Valentine’s Day can be a sneaky, if not downright dangerous, holiday. It has a way of rushing you on the 12th, taking you down in the tackle on the 13th, and — if you fail to deliver the gifty goods — knocking you out on the 14th. Fortunately for you, you’re still in the 7-day-advance safety zone, with enough time to perfect your game plan. To help you avoid an embarrassing fumble, we’ve scoured SF’s best gift and novelty stores for some guaranteed-to-please gift ideas. So read carefully and choose wisely, and when the big day comes, you could be well on your way to scoring.

The Classics

Church Street Flowers
This floral boutique is no stranger to the Guardian’s Best of the Bay Issue, as it has taken the title five out of the past six years. You can’t go wrong with the old red rose standby, with its universal message of true love. But if you want to get a bit more creative and/or specific, ask the staff for their recommendations. (For example, try red-tipped yellow roses, which mean the giver is falling in love, or a red and white bouquet, which is a symbol of unity.) The shop does deliver, so there’s no excuse for allowing your paramour to leave work envious or empty-handed.
212 Church St, SF. (415) 553-7762,

Bittersweet, the Chocolate Café
Buying your Valentine’s gifts at Bittersweet doesn’t only benefit your V-Day date; it gives you a chance to indulge in some of the shop’s sinful creations while you’re there. Check out the vast array of Belgian, Swiss, Dutch, or Italian chocolates, bound to appeal to the international lover – er, chocolate lover — in your life. (And for folks who are solo and sad about it this Valentine’s Day, try one of Bittersweet’s rich hot chocolates to fill the void.)
2123 Fillmore St, SF. (415) 346-8715,

Think buying jewelry has to mean DeBeers and dollar signs? Think again. This little Noe Valley treasure is the perfect alternative for buying unusual (and affordable) amorous adornments. Here, you’ll undoubtedly find the owner, Guatemalan-born Gilbertina Guarini, painstakingly stringing together her latest one-of-a-kind design while perched behind the counter-cum-workspace. And since Guarini’s nature-themed pieces that are not only beautiful themselves, but are beautifully showcased by color and gemstone, visiting this Valentine haven is as easy on the eyes as it is on your wallet.
3961 24th St, SF. (415) 206-0704

Carol Doda’s Champagne and Lace Lingerie Boutique
San Francisco icon, the Condor’s own Carol Doda, has the perfect the recipe for a steamy Valentine’s date: a bottle of bubbly and a little lace number from her Union street boutique. You might have to go elsewhere for the champagne, but this is your one-stop-shop for intimate wear – for him and for her. And don’t worry if your date isn’t on the Don’t-Eat-Diet: the pinup queen’s specialty is still those bodacious plus sizes.
1850 Union St, SF. (415) 776-6900

Distinctive and Deviant

Does your honey already own a gemstone in every color of the gay pride rainbow? Or does your lover only wear jewelry that could double as sailing rope? Either way, if it’s jewelry you want, but convention you don’t, try making some yourself at Beadissimo, the holy grail of bead stores. The beads and stringing options come in every shape, size and color. The workstation in the back boasts every beading tool the savvy professional could want. And if you’re a clumsy novice, there’s a dexterous, young staff just waiting to help you figure out what to do with all this bounty. (Workshops also are offered year round.)
1051 Valencia St, SF. (415) 282-2323,

If off-the-shelf art supplies simply won’t cut it for your creative-type cuddle partner, try shopping at Flax. The place is so comprehensive, assistants are only familiar with the supplies in their specific section. But this 69-year-old establishment is a serious art store, so if all you need is some construction paper and doilies, don’t bother. If you want artsy options and creative ideas about how to use them, though, check out the store and then visit their detailed Website.
1699 Market St, SF. (800) 343-3529,

Lo-Fi Customs
For Valentines who like it when you to turn up the heat, panties screen-printed with “Property of (your name here)” and embossed with a ghost flame logo may be the perfect gift – and this shop, co-founded by a motorcycle-messenger-turned-artist, is the perfect place to get them. Feel free to be as raunchy, risqué, or ridiculous as you want – there’s nothing the Lo-Fi staff won’t write on a T-shirt. Too busy getting last-minute dinner reservations to stop by the store? You can place an order by phone or online, too.
69A Duboce Ave, SF. (415) 861-0500,

Good Vibrations
This isn’t the retail version of the innocent Beach Boys’ classic. Think of it more as the adult version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, where pleasure comes not from candy but, well, from coming. This is a world of pure, uncensored imagination, where there’s a fix for every adult Candyman’s fetish. (The edible cherry pasties chocolate body pens and peppermint nipples are scrumdiddlyumptious.) A gift from here may well be your golden ticket.
603 Valencia St, SF. (415) 522-5460; 1620 Polk Street, SF. (415) 345-0400,

Ferry Plaza
If you think dining out on Valentine’s Day is just such a cliché, or you simply forgot to make reservations, consider the delights of a gourmet, home-cooked dinner. Even if you’re no Wolfgang Puck, Ferry Plaza and the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Markets will provide the ingredients and the inspiration for a still-better-than-Shake-n-Bake meal. And if the specialty groceries here can’t make a chef out of you, fall back on the staples — great seafood, cheese, breads, wine, berries, and chocolate — where all you need to do is provide serving plates. (The Fish Company’s prawns are right from the boat and the farm fresh produce is trucked in daily. Yum!)
One Ferry Building at Embarcadero at Market, SF. (415) 693-0996,

About Face and Body Day Spa
With the drudgery of tax season just around the corner, you can kill two birds with one stone (express V-Day love and prevent T-Day meltdowns) by pampering your lover with a gift certificate from the East Bay’s favorite day spa. With customizable massages and aromatherapy add-ons, this gift guarantees a major return on your investment. (Special service packages and discounts on walk-in waxing also are available.)
3190 College Ave, Berk. (510) 428-2600

American Conservatory Theater
Keep the drama on stage this Valentine’s with tickets to opening night of A.C.T.’s newest show, Hedda Gabler, directed by Richard E.T. White. Called the “female Hamlet,” Hedda Gabler is a woman whose married life (unlike yours, of course) is rife with controversy. She is either a murderous infidel or idealistic heroine, and the implications of her actions have struck a chord with audiences for over a century. Get tickets online, by phone, or at the box office, and remind your sweetie how good you two really do have it.
405 Geary St, SF. (415) 749-2228,

2007: a disco odyssey



What is space disco? Well, it’s a term some people have thrown around when the music of Hans-Peter Lindstrøm is written about or discussed. What does the man from Oslo, Norway, think of the two-word catchphrase? "I guess the good thing is that some people are telling me, ‘Hey, man, you invented a genre,’ " he says, speaking from Oslo and capping the remark with a characteristic quiet, slightly jittery laugh. "If people think about it that way, it’s fine for me, because I get mentioned. But I think it’s limiting in terms of my music. In my opinion, disco with space elements, lots of laser beams — " he laughs again " — is not a wide genre."

Space disco might not be a wide genre, but Lindstrøm, who’s released 12-inch singles under his last name since 2003 for his own Feedelity label, has provided many of its highlights, recently collected on the compilation It’s a Feedelity Affair. One example is "I Feel Space," a sonic floating shuttle with a title that seemingly plays off the epically orgasmic Giorgio Moroder–produced Donna Summer classic from 1977, "I Feel Love." Another is "Gentle as a Giant," a rhythmic percolator that goes so far as to incorporate the same signature opening trinitarian chords of Richard Strauss’s Thus Spake Zarathustra that Stanley Kubrick utilized in the score of his 1968 cinematic astro classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey. As to whether the latter is a joking response to the space disco tag, Lindstrøm pleads innocence. "I just really like [Strauss’s] theme," he says.

Space disco might not even be a genre. But assuming it exists, Lindstrøm has also stepped far outside it, as on a 2005 collaboration with a fellow Oslo musician, Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas (Eskimo Recordings). That album’s expansive leanings are pastoral rather than interstellar. Beginning with a seemingly endless hit from a bong, "Don O Van Budd" sends autumnal wordless harmonies across acoustic plains with an easygoing charm Yo La Tengo might envy.

Asked about music that has emerged from Norway in recent years, Lindstrøm divides it according to city, saying he’s met the Bergen-based Annie and her roommate Skatebard and regularly communicates with fellow Oslo residents such as Thomas and the much sought-after remixer Todd Terje. "He’s one of my biggest inspirations when it comes to contemporary music," Lindstrøm says of the latter. But it’s a mistake to view Lindstrøm’s music in strictly contemporary terms. He was raised on country and western. He shares a multi-instrumental, unconventional approach to disco with the late Arthur Russell, whose Dinosaur recordings he especially enjoys. Many tracks on It’s a Feedelity Affair lock into rock-ready and steady live drum beats and bass lines that wouldn’t be out of place on a record by Neu! or Can.

On Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas‘s "Turkish Delight," Lindstrøm unwinds a Holger Czukay–like lengthy guitar solo — one ingredient, safe to say, that qualifies as a rarity on club tracks. Around the time of the Thomas collaboration’s release, Lindstrøm wasn’t averse to name-checking folks such as Yngwie Malmsteen in an interview and was full of praise for the fuzzed-out solo in the Carpenters’ "Goodbye to Love." But he’s since entered a minimal phase. "I’ve been touring and traveling, playing my music for other people at clubs, and for many people some of the early stuff is too inaccessible," he says. "I’ve been trying to make my music more simple, hopefully without losing what’s important."

It’s around this time that I hear a child crying in the background on Lindstrøm’s end of the line. As he continues to describe his musical approach — "I really like the combination of organic sounds, such as guitar, with digital programming" — the cries grow louder and contort into shrieks.

"Just a minute — can I call you back?" he asks.

Half an hour and one call later, peace has been restored. "My son really wanted to talk to me," Lindstrøm explains, a bit of embarrassment and pride mixed up in the words. Our conversation soon wanders to the subject of his studio. "It’s not like a professional studio. I’ve just installed all my equipment — and I don’t have that much — in a room," he says. "As you know, since we had to interrupt our conversation because of my kid, sometimes I have to go somewhere else."

Like a personal space? Certainly, space is important — Lindstrøm knows this more than most musicians working today. Space disco may not be a wide genre, and it may not exist, but Lindstrøm’s best recordings engage with notions of space in a way that multiplies the word’s meanings. As he jokes, the term can conjure literal images of melodies played on laser beams, and indeed, some of his songs do exactly that. But if that’s what space disco is or can be, the form was probably invented by Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes in the Mos Eisley Cantina. Charting realms far from Star Wars kitsch, Lindstrøm uses a much more contemporary disco sound to manipulate notions of space. With — and even without — dub techniques, he expands the dimensions of a song’s sound so the melodies seem to travel into a neon and pitch-black eternity.

This approach is cinematic, really, as that 2001: A Space Odyssey link within "Gentle as a Giant" might suggest. "Hey, wait a minute," I think to myself as I hang up the phone. "Don’t the liner notes of A Feedelity Affair imagine Lindstrøm giving a track-by-track movie pitch to 2046 director Wong Kar Wai?"

It’s a link worth exploring. I’d call Lindstrøm back and ask him about it, but I don’t want to come between him and his son. *


With Carl Craig, Gamall, and ML Tronik and TK Disco

Fri/9, 10 p.m.–4 a.m., $12 advance


444 Jessie, SF