G’day sleaze!



In the late 1970s Australia suddenly looked like the new mecca for cinematic art, as movies like My Brilliant Career (1979), The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) and Breaker Morant (1980)achieved unprecedented international critical and commercial success.

Those award-bait films are pointedly mentioned just in passing, for contrast, in Not Quite Hollywood, which is about all the other movies from Down Under during that period — those the tourist boards and arts councils preferred you didn’t know about. Subtitled The Wild, Untold Story of OZploitation!, Mark Hartley’s documentary is one of the best appreciations ever made of some of the worst films ever made.

Actually, they’re not all bad, by a long shot, though it’s measure of Not Quite Hollywood‘s infectious spirit that it induces a potent desire to see a number of films that in fact turn out to be pretty excruciating when seen in anything more than five-second increments. Their likes include 1978’s Stunt Rock — the predictably lame high-concept combination of stunt performers, magic tricks, and a justifiably forgotten band called Sorcery — not to mention extended dirty jokes like 1974’s Australia After Dark, 1981’s Pacific Banana, 1975’s The Love Epidemic, and 1975’s The True Story of Eskimo Nell. (The latter, however, features the following philosophically defining line: "There’s a day comin’ when I’m gonna stick me dick in the heart of the Earth and the bang’ll be heard in Alaska!")

Indeed, it was the belated relaxation of draconian censorship standards that opened the initially very smutty floodgates for Aussie exploitation cinema. While American audiences were enjoying the brief cultural moment known as "porn chic," folks on the other side of the planet were vicariously experiencing the sexual revolution in the softcore form of local snickerfests like 1973’s Alvin Purple ("The Bloke Who Has Everything But Inhibitions!") and 1972’s The Adventures of Barry McKenzie ("Cripes! The Things These Porn Sheilas Will Do On Camera!"). As several older, wiser actors note, any thoughts at the time that showing skin was about "liberation" proved delusional.

Much of Not Quite Hollywood is in a similar mood of bemused recall, reflecting that most endearing national Australian characteristic, an allergy to pretension. Confessed Ozploitation fanatic Quentin Tarantino does most of the on-camera cheerleading here, while folks who actually worked on the films in question typically recount how daft, crass, and/or sometimes plain dangerous to work on these enterprises were.

Unlike the Peter Weir and Bruce Bereford movies that presented Australia’s high-cultural face to the world, Aussie genre films of the ’70s and ’80s were often deliberately origin-blurred, the better to appeal to a North American drive-in audience. (When the most famous of them all, 1979’s Mad Max, first got released here its dialogue was actually redubbed by American actors.)

Washed-up or third-tier international "stars" like Jenny Agutter, Steve Railsback, or Broderick Crawford were flown in for marquee value, often greeted with open hostility by local actors whose jobs they’d "stolen." If war stories recounted here are indicative, many got revenge by behaving very badly: Dennis Hopper, for instance, was so berserk on Philippe Mora’s Mad Dog Morgan (1976) that police finally escorted him to the airport, practically banning him from an entire continent.

Not everything here is craptastic. Gems ripe for rediscovery include the 1978 Long Weekend in which a horribly combative urban yuppie couple going camping attract ambiguous vengeance from a horribly pissed-off Mother Nature. Another deeply buried treasure is 1982’s Turkey Shoot, a Most Dangerous Game spin that Brian Trenchard-Smith turned into a "high camp splatter movie" when the unfortunate last-minute disappearance of half the planned budget x’d out the script’s more expensive ideas. Its zesty offensiveness still riles critic Philip Adams, a plummy-voiced snob who decries "these vulgar films" that "admitted to the wider world we were yahoos."

But what yahoos. Australian exploitation cinema has had a particular penchant for putting protagonists at the mercy of crazy-car-driving, sheila-ogling, unkempt and un-sane rural inbreds. Sometimes they’re the main peril, sometimes just an unfriendly preliminary to the central menace of giant killer hogs (Razorback, 1984), giant killer crocs (Dark Age, 1987), giant punk prisoner camps (Dead End Drive-In, 1986) or psychotic stalkers driving Mr. Whippy ice cream vans (Snapshot, 1979).

There’s a whatever-works (even when it doesn’t) spirit to these films personified by the career of Trenchard-Smith, whose boldly indiscriminate resume has thus far stretched from several Aussie kung fu movies to 1983’s BMX Bandits (with Nicole Kidman!) to 1997’s Leprechaun 4: In Space. It’s a little annoying when Tarantino brags about dedicating Kill Bill‘s Australian premiere to this prestige-resistant director just to piss off the local "snobs." But it’s gold when the man himself cheerfully admits "I am a guilty pleasure footnote." *

Time travelers


"I thought it would be funny to do a total stereo split, as if the past and the present were trying to have a conversation with each other," says Scott Ryser, describing "East West," a track on the compilation History of the Units: The Early Years, 1977-1983 (Community Library). "I like the idea that these radically different sounds can share a ‘present’ time together."

That idea is the motivation behind this article’s collection of short profiles. Recently singled out for a rave by Pitchfork, Ryser’s synth-punk group the Units is one of four innovative or fierce Bay Area musical forces currently experiencing a contemporary renaissance. Sugar Pie DeSanto’s soul, the Pyramids’ free jazz, and San Francisco Express’s fusion have also inspired reissues or archival compilations. The message is loud and clear: old is new and radical in this era of free-floating sound. (Johnny Ray Huston)

SUGAR PIE DESANTO It’s no surprise that New Yorkers called Sugar Pie DeSanto the female James Brown. Like a woman possessed, she pantomimed her petite frame across the stage almost comedically, gyrating to the doo-wop, soul, and R&B that dominated Chicago’s famed Chess record label. In fact, De Santo sang with Soul Brother No. 1 in the early 1960s, and her presence made a competitive impression upon the hardest-working man in showbiz. "James was cool with Sugar," De Santo says over the phone, her voice husky and distinctive. "He was a fanatic about his music."

Now in her 70s, the San Francisco-born Oakland resident has seen much during her 57 years in the music industry. DeSanto’s list of contemporaries includes Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson, Jackie Wilson, and Etta James. She may not perform live quite as often as she once did, but she’s as risqué now as ever. The new compilation Go Go Power: The Complete Chess Singles 1961-1966 (Ace/Kent) is a great starting point if you aren’t familiar with her work. The package includes a dynamic photo of her scissor-locking an unassuming Londoner with her thighs during a performance. Lyrically, "Use What You Got" deals with notions of natural beauty, superficiality and what it was like to grow up African American and Filipino in SF’s Fillmore District. "There was a lot of jealousy," DeSanto remembers. "I had long Filipino hair. It [being multi-racial] wasn’t as common or as easy as it is today. Girls would talk crap in the neighborhood."

With 100 original songs under her belt, DeSanto still receives residuals for compositions penned for Fontella Bass and Minnie Ripperton. A producer at Chess heard a similarity between DeSanto and James, and a few of their subsequent duets are included on Go Go Power. "We recorded in the studio together [in Chicago]," says DeSanto. "We didn’t go on the road together." Today, the Queen of the West Coast Blues likes to ride her bike. She’s looking forward to performing at Oakland’s Jack London Square on September 12th. (Andre Torrez)

THE PYRAMIDS Bad seeds can accidentally generate something good — you can thank an exploitative imposter for contributing to a new surge of interest in the free jazz of the Pyramids. According to the group’s Idris Ackamoor, "someone masquerading as a Pyramid" gave the blessing for the respected Japanese label EM to reissue the group’s 1976 album Birth Speed Merging on CD. Shortly after Ackamoor discovered this ruse, EM embarked on a more expansive — and legit — collection of his music, Music of Idris Ackamoor, 1971-2004. Now, Birth Speed Merging and two earlier Pyramids albums — 1973’s Lalibela and 1974’s King of Kings — are alive again on vinyl, thanks in part to Dawson Prater’s Ikef label.

"I’ve lost a lot of things in my life, but for all these years, I’ve managed to hold on to all of the masters of the Pyramids," says Ackamoor, who is busier than ever today due to Cultural Odyssey, his multi-faceted collaboration with Rhodessa Jones. (Before a new set of Bay Area performances next year, a trip to Russia is on the horizon.) Ackamoor was right to hold on to his barely-tapped treasure trove of Pyramids material, because the group’s music is built to last. Birth Speed Merging scorches ears with proto-noise. Accompanied by Ted Joans’ written ideas about Afro-Surrealism, King of Kings astounds (the bass runs of "Nsorama") and hypnotizes ("Queen of the Spirits"), in turn.

Such sounds will be a revelation to young listeners, even — or perhaps especially — those whose sensibilities have been shaped by the journeying spirit of the late Alice Coltrane. To paraphrase a credo, the Pyramids played music to make fire and make souls burst out from bodies. "They’ve tried to snuff out that avant-garde energy," Ackamoor notes, when discussing then and now. "This music wasn’t meant to sell drinks. When I listen to it, it even inspires me. I listen to how I sounded, and the freedom with which I played when I was so young — 19, 20, 21. The intensity is so refreshing. I didn’t realize I could play so long." (Huston)

SAN FRANCISCO EXPRESS In the 1970s, San Francisco churned out quality music like nobody’s business. But many of those recordings — despite their innovation or solidity — never saw the light of the day. And so today preservationists abound, seeking to revive the lost treasures discarded in the wake of this music renaissance. Recently, the one and only effort of jazz-funk outfit San Francisco Express, Getting It Together (Reynolds/ Family Groove, 1979), hit the shelves for a new generation. The album embodies the lush cosmic spirit of free form jazz grounded seamlessly in deep pocket funk.

Little is known about Getting It Together. Daniel Borine, Family Groove label owner and source of the reissue, says that the set was recorded circa 1975 at Dr. Patrick Gleeson’s infamous Different Fur studios in SF’s Mission District. Gleeson, who played Moog synthesizer for the arrangement, doesn’t remember the album by name. But oddly enough, Getting It Together recalls Gleeson’s monumental direction for Herbie Hancock on the visionary, electrified jazz of Crossings (Warner, 1971) and Sextant (Sony, 1972) as well as Charles Earland’s epic odyssey, Leaving This Planet (Prestige, 1973). Even though Getting It Together was recorded just after these groundbreaking works, the small independent label Reynolds postponed its release until ’79, possibly due to in-house quarrels. The original pressing provided no substantive information on the recording. And, seemingly outdated amid the burgeoning new sounds of modern soul and disco, it quickly faded into dusty record bins across the country.

Despite Getting It Together‘s unfortunate reception, few jazz-funk records of the mid-1970s sound as cohesive. The sonic landscape shifts effortlessly between conventional melodies and spacey grooves without losing a consistent magnetism. Virtuoso trumpeter Woody Shaw carries the powerhouse horn section, bursting with psychedelic warmth over heavy hitting drum breaks courtesy of Afro-inspired drummer E.W. Wainwright. Gleeson’s keys evoke a sensual intelligence and informed taste for adventure. A remarkable synthesis of the lively experimental jazz era, Getting It Together still feels as inspired and fresh as ever. (Michael Krimper)

THE UNITS Fate and a bond with the musician Bill Nelson once led them to share three squares a day with Robert Plant, but the Units were a punk or post-punk band. And like any great punk or post-punk band, they lived for confrontation. They played in JC Penney storefront windows and even performed the national anthem at a boxing match.

Still, when the Units invoked the smashing of guitars, they did so as a gesture of contempt towards that six-string signifier of readymade rebellion as much as a protest against traditional authority. Whether singing about burritos and how "the Mission is bitchin’" or adapting Gregory Corso’s poetry to song, the Units, you see, wielded keyboards as sonic weapons.

The group’s Scott Ryser has some primarily fond and often very specific memories of the keyboards in question. The Arps, the Octigans, the Roland Junos, and various Korgs and Casios. The Sequential Circuits 800 Sequencer, "without question the most promising and at the same time most belligerent" of the group’s many "unruly kids." And his "sweetheart," the Minimoog, an invention "better than the automobile and the electric dildo combined." For Ryser, "the Minimoog sounds like god and the devil singing in harmony."

God and the devil sing in harmony throughout History of the Units: The Early Years, 1977-1983 (Community Library) — that is, when they aren’t breaking down gloriously. Or colliding against the live drumming that distinguishes the Units from just about any other synth group. ("I just don’t see how a synth band can kick ass without real drums," opines Ryser.) Nervy narratives like "Bugboy" and "High Pressure Days" reflect Ryser’s background writing stories and novels, while the sprawling, gorgeous instrumental "Zombo," inspired by Walter/Wendy Carlos, sounds contemporary today. Unlike many retrospective collections, History of the Units avoids nostalgia — in fact, Ryser adds a blitz of contemporary images to the sleeve art. "To me, the best thing about our band was just the idea of it," he says. Maybe so, but the reality of the Units will trigger more fine ideas. (Huston)

Bowie Ball


PREVIEW Not much can stop Swing Goth. Not the misperception that the biweekly dance class and party is strictly swing or goth (it’s all types of partner dancing, to all types of post-punk music). Not a cross-town venue change earlier this year (from Fat City to El Rio). Nothing, it seems, except a big ass flippin’ fire. In June, Swing Goth was all set to host the Bowie Ball, its biggest event yet, when an explosion in a man hole (remember that one?) shut down the Great American Music Hall. But even fire could only delay SG founder Brian Gardner for so long. Now, the Bowie Ball is back, and promising to be even better than the planned original. Five Cent Coffee (neo-skiffle junkyard blues) and Barry Syska’s Fantasy Orchestra (what would happen if Tom Waits did swing) joins DJ Skip of New Wave City, DJ MzSamantha of Clockwork, and MC Psychokitty for a celebration of Bowie’s many faces, styles, and sounds. The event will start, of course, with lessons in swing, waltz, and blues dance and culminate in a full night of cutting a rug (OK, a gorgeous hardwood floor) to everything from Joy Division to Nirvana.

BOWIE BALL Fri/14, 8 p.m. $15–$20. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF. (415) 885-0750, www.swinggoth.com/bowieball09

“San Francisco’s Doomed”


PREVIEW Fred Schrunk sips his coffee as he mans the counter on a recent afternoon at Thrillhouse, the nonprofit punk record store he oversees on Mission Street, and discusses the genesis of this week’s San Francisco’s Doomed Fest. It’s a series of shows benefiting two causes dear to him and the local music community: the all-ages venue project for San Francisco that he and several forward-thinking locals are spearheading, as well as Maximum Rock’n’Roll, the long-running, SF-based punk monthly fanzine that, like many print publications today, is struggling to meet operation costs.

"Seeing [MRR] struggle for a little while made me really concerned," explains Schrunk, who is involved with the zine and its radio show. "It’s fucking scary seeing them in a compromising situation." The staff of MRR, likewise a nonprofit, consists of volunteer "shitworkers," and the zine’s content is reader-contributed, inspiring and informing both bands and enthusiasts worldwide since its inception in 1982.

"I think there’s a place for what we do," says MRR content coordinator Layla Gibbon over the phone from the zine’s office. "It’s just a difficult time." About four months ago, Schrunk and MRR‘s coordinators decided to put together a fundraiser for both the debt-burdened magazine and Thrillhouse’s goal of opening an all-ages venue in the city.

This venue project stems from San Francisco’s lack of a dedicated all-ages show space — a lamentable situation that leaves local youngsters with few options for seeing and performing live music. The success of the project’s small fundraising shows so far, as well as that of last year’s Thrillhouse-sanctioned Thrillfest, paved the way for this new, ramped-up effort to raise funds for opening a space. Where Thrillfest was structured around touring bands, Doomed features mostly local acts, all of whom have an obvious stake in seeing these two scene-uniting efforts succeed.

The event’s name comes from Crime, SF’s self-proclaimed "first and only rock ‘n’ roll band," which formed in 1976, cranking out early punk classics such as 1977’s "Hot Wire My Heart" and "Frustration." They’ll be headlining the festival, where the lineup ranges from the heavy, stoned sounds of Flood to the Messthetics-style post-punk of Rank/Xerox. More established local acts like good-times popsters Nodzzz and renowned Sacramento garage-rockers the Bananas are also on hand. As Gibbon exclaims, the fest not only benefits good causes, it also promises to be "a representation of what punk is … the sense of possibility!"

SAN FRANCISCO’S DOOMED Wed/12 through Sun/16, various venues. www.myspace.com/sanfranciscosdoomed, www.maximumrocknroll.com



PREVIEW A long line of lo-fi troubadours have come crawling over the horizon these past few years. Crocodiles fit right in, but also stand out in more ways than one. The San Diego duo’s got its tight, tattered jeans and Jesus and Mary Chain comparisons, its vocals that sound like they were recorded through blankets, and plenty of attitude.

Just like many of the duo’s garage-rat contemporaries, Crocodiles’ music is a tangle of all things hipper-than-thou. But there’s a menacing intrigue bubbling up from beneath the scaly synth rhythms and claustrophobic distortion — scrub away the requisite hazy feedback and you ‘ll find a pair of sardonic scowls.

The meticulously crafted set of songs on Crocodiles’ debut album Summer of Hate (Fat Possum) prove that frontman and beat programmer Brandon Welchez and guitarist Charles Rowell are junkies for juxtaposition. Diamond-cut hooks and Welchez’ defiant wails weave in and out of electronic drones, resulting in a seamless summer LP.

Both Welchez and Rowell were once part of the SoCal punk outfit The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower. After lineup metamorphoses and the death of a band member, the two found themselves writing shoegaze-punk songs tinged with glee and gloom. Ready-made for living room dance parties, "Refuse Angels" finds the Crocs slithering to a furious, acidic electro beat and sneering that they feel "just like Leon Trotsky." "Here Comes the Sky" is a lonely, sun-baked ballad with arpeggios straight out of a latter-day Beach Boys recording.

Crocodiles aren’t just riding the fuzzy, noisy wave that’s so very in vogue and au courant — they’re surfing it with attention to every pulsating beat and damaged guitar note.

CROCODILES With Pens, Graffiti Island. Wed/19, 7:30 p.m., $10–$12. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, (415) 861-2011. www.rickshawstop.com

Music listings


Music listings are compiled by Paula Connelly and Cheryl Eddy. Since club life is unpredictable, it’s a good idea to call ahead to confirm bookings and hours. Prices are listed when provided to us. Submit items for the listings at listings@sfbg.com. For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.



Barcelona, Meese, Seabird, Last Ambassadors Slim’s. 8pm, $13.

Better Than Ezra, 16 Frames Independent. 8pm, $25.

Honey Knockout. 9pm.

Illness, My Revolver, Dammit! El Rio. 8pm, $5.

Kegels, Party Fouls, Jokes For Feelings Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $8.

Lions, Black Robot, Flexx Bronco Thee Parkside. 8pm, $7.

OG Rhythm and Blues Band Rasselas Jazz. 8pm, free.

Kevin Russell Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $15.

Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players Red Devil Lounge. 8pm, $10.


Depeche Mode, Peter, Bjorn and John Shoreline Amphitheater, One Amphitheater Pkwy, Mtn View; www.livenation.com. 7:30pm, $35.50-99.


"B3 Wednesdays feat. Amendola vs. Blades" Coda. 9pm, $7.

Diana Krall Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness, SF; www.ticketmaster.com. 8pm, $79.50-125.

Ben Marcato and the Mondo Combo Top of the Mark. 7:30pm, $10.

"Marcus Shelby Jazz Jam" Revolution Café, 3248 22nd St, SF; (415) 642-0474. 8:30pm, free.

Tin Cup Serenade Le Colonial, 20 Cosmo Place, SF; (415) 931-3600. 7pm, free.


*"All-Star Tribute to the King of Bakersfield: Buck Owens Birthday Bash" Elbo Room. 8pm, $10. With members of Red Meat, 77 El Deora, B Stars plus Mississipi Mike Wolf, Doug Blumer, and more.

Gaucho, Michael Abraham Jazz Session Amnesia. 8pm, free.

Dan Reed, Manda Mosher Café du Nord. 9:30pm, $15.

Carlos Reyes Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason, SF; 1-866-468-3399. 8pm, $30.

Unwed Fathers Plough and Stars. 9pm, free.


Booty Call Q-Bar, 456 Castro; www.bootycallwednesdays.com. 9pm. Juanita Moore hosts this dance party, featuring DJ Robot Hustle.

Fame Bar on Church. 9pm. With rotating DJs.

Fringe Madrone Lounge. 9pm, free. With DJs subOctave and Blondie K spinning indie rock and new wave music videos.

Jam Wednesday Infusion Lounge. 10pm, free. DJ Slick Dee.

Open Mic Night 330 Ritch. 9pm, $7.

Qoöl 111 Minna Gallery. 5-10pm, $5. Pan-techno lounge with DJs Spesh, Gil, Hyper D, and Jondi.

RedWine Social Dalva. 9pm-2am, free. DJ TophOne and guests spin outernational funk and get drunk.

Respect Wednesdays End Up. 10pm, $5. Rotating DJs Lonestar Sound, Young Fyah, Sake One, Serg, and more spinning reggae, dancehall, roots, lovers rock, and mash ups.

Synchronize Il Pirata, 2007 16th St.; (415) 626-2626. 10pm, free. Psychedelic dance music with DJs Helios, Gatto Matto, Psy Lotus, Intergalactoid, and guests.



Buttercream Gang, Raised By Robots, M. Bison Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $6.

Commisure, Room for a Ghost, An Isotope Annie’s Social Club. 8pm, $6.

Dramarama Red Devil Lounge. 8pm, $20.

Tinsley Ellis Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $18.

Glenn Labs, Greening, Johnny Walnut Grant and Green. 9pm, free.

Photons, X-Ray Press, Huff This!, Chasing Shapes Kimo’s. 9pm.

Skin Like Iron, Young Offenders, Never Healed, Airfix Kits, Dirty Cupcakes Knockout. 9:30pm, $5.

Slowfinger, Orchid, Nylon Heart Attack Slim’s. 9pm, $13.

Society of Rockets, Dominique Leone, Reptiel Café du Nord. 9pm, $10.

Solillaquists of Sound, 40Love, Zutra Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $10.

Trainwreck Riders, Fucking Buckaroos, Pretty Boy Thorson and Fallen Angels Thee Parkside. 9pm, $5.


Kenny Brooks Coda. 9pm, $7.

Eric Kurtzrock Trio Ana Mandara, Ghirardelli Square, 891 Beach, SF; (415) 771-6800. 7:30pm, free.

Marlina Teich Trio Brickhouse, 426 Brannan, SF; (415) 820-1595. 7-10pm, free.

"New Frequencies @ YBCA: Musicians Respond to Wallworks" Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF; www.ybca.org. 6pm, free with gallery admission ($5-7). With Lisa Mezzacappa and Nightshade/Shimomitsu.

Karen Segal Socha Café, 3235 Mission, SF; (415) 643-6848. 8:30pm, free.

Stompy Jones Top of the Mark. 7:30pm, $10.


Brazil Vox Revolution Café, 3248 22nd St, SF; (415) 642-0474. 8:30pm, free.

Jesse DeNatale, Indiana Hale, Petracovich Amnesia. 9pm, $8.

Flamenco Thursday Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; (415) 646-0018. 8pm, 9:30; $12. With Carola Zertuche and Company.

High Country Atlas Café. 8pm, free.

Gregory Isaacs, Native Elements Independent. 9pm, $28.

Shannon Céilí Band Plough and Stars. 9pm, free.

Summer in the City: Meet MoAD Museum of African Diaspora, 685 Mission, SF; (415) 358-7200. 6pm, $10. Featuring live Cuban music and dancing.


Afrolicious Elbo Room. 9:30pm, $5-6. DJs Pleasuremaker, Señor Oz, J Elrod, and B Lee spin Afrobeat, Tropicália, electro, samba, and funk.

CakeMIX SF Wish, 1539 Folsom, SF. 10pm, free. DJ Carey Kopp spinning funk, soul, and hip hop.

Caribbean Connection Little Baobab, 3388 19th St; 643-3558. 10pm, $3. DJ Stevie B and guests spin reggae, soca, zouk, reggaetón, and more.

DJ John Lynch Infusion Lounge. 9pm, free.

Drop the Pressure Underground SF. 6-10pm, free. Electro, house, and datafunk highlight this weekly happy hour.

Funky Rewind Skylark. 9pm, free. DJ Kung Fu Chris, MAKossa, and rotating guest DJs spin heavy funk breaks, early hip-hop, boogie, and classic Jamaican riddims.

Heat Icon Ultra Lounge. 10pm, free. Hip-hop, R&B, reggae, and soul.

Kick It Bar on Church. 9pm. Hip-hop with DJ Jorge Terez.

Kissing Booth Make Out Room. 9pm, free. DJs Jory, Commodore 69, and more spinning indie dance, disco, 80’s, and electro.

Koko Puffs Koko Cocktails, 1060 Geary; 885-4788. 10pm, free. Dubby roots reggae and Jamaican funk from rotating DJs.

Mestiza Bollywood Café, 3376 19th St., SF; (415) 970-0362. 10pm, free. Showcasing progressive Latin and global beats with DJ Juan Data.

Motion Sickness Vertigo, 1160 Polk; (415) 674-1278. 10pm, free. Genre-bending dance party with DJs Sneaky P, Public Frenemy, and D_Ro Cyclist.

Popscene 330 Rich. 10pm, $10. Rotating DJs spinning indie, Britpop, electro, new wave, and post-punk.

Toppa Top Thursdays Club Six. 9pm, $5. Jah Warrior, Jah Yzer, I-Vier, and Irie Dole spin the reggae jams for your maximum irie-ness.



Bad Friends, Complaints, Keeners Annie’s Social Club. 5pm, $5.

"Bowie Ball: Celebrating All Things Bowie!" Great American Music Hall. 8:30pm, $20. With Barry Syska’s Fantasy Orchestra, 5 Cent Coffee, and DJs MzSamantha and Skip.

Burnt, Simpkin Project Grant and Green. 9pm, free.

Conquest for Death, N.N., Acephalix, Ruidos Thee Parkside. 9pm, $5.

*Down, Melvins, Danava, Weedeater Regency Ballroom. 8pm, $30.

Fling, Moller, Nightgowns, Facts on File Knockout. 9pm, $7.

Gomorran Social Aid and Pleasure Club, Khi Darag!, Brian Kenney Fresno, DJ K-Tel Bottom of the Hill. 10pm, $10. With Last Night’s Fling All-Star Burlesque.

Inspired Flight Otis Lounge, 25 Maiden Lane, SF; (415) 298-4826. 9pm, free.

Larry McCray Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $20.

*New Thrill Parade, Al Qaeda, Dalmacio Von Diamond and the Enochian Keys, Droughter Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $8.

Quantic and His Combo Barbaro Slim’s. 9pm, $20.

Jonahs Reinhardt, Tussle, Windsurf Amnesia. 9pm, $7-10. With Okay-Hole on the records.


Vienna Teng TheatreWorks at Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield, Palo Alto; www.theatreworks.org. 8pm, $35.

Wendy Darling, Pinstripe Rebellion, Refunds, Loudmouth Yank Fox Theater. 7pm, $10.


Audium 9 1616 Bush, SF; (415) 771-1616. 8:30pm, $15.

Black Market Jazz Orchestra Top of the Mark. 9pm, $10.

Larry Carlton Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason, SF; www.therrazzroom.com. 8pm, $47.50.

8 Legged Monster Coda. 10pm, $10.

Eric Kurtzrock Trio Ana Mandara, Ghirardelli Square, 891 Beach, SF; 771-6800. 8pm, free.

Jack Jones Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $35.

Tin Cup Serenade Revolution Café, 3248 22nd St, SF; (415) 642-0474. 8:45pm, free.


Cuban Nights Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; (415) 646-0018. 8:30pm, $15. Latin dancing Buena Vista style with Fito Reinoso, and Eddy and Gabriel Navia.

Georges Lammam Ensemble Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; (415) 646-0018. 10:30pm, $15.

JimBo Trout and the Fishpeople, Misisipi Rider Plough and Stars. 9pm.

Sekouba Bambino Diabate Independent. 9pm, $25.

Sila and the Afro Funk Experience Fillmore Center, Fillmore at O’Farrell, SF; (415) 921-1969. 6pm, free.

Spring Creek Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez, SF; (415) 545-5238. 8pm, $15-17.

Zej Socha Café, 3235 Mission, SF; (415) 643-6848. 8:30pm, free.


Activate! Lookout, 3600 16th St; (415) 431-0306. 9pm, $3. Face your demigods and demons at this Red Bull-fueled party.

Bar on Church 9pm. Rotating DJs Zax, Zhaldee, and Nuxx.

Exhale, Fridays Project One Gallery, 251 Rhode Island; (415) 465-2129. 5pm, $5. Happy hour with art, fine food, and music with Vin Sol, King Most, DJ Centipede, and Shane King.

Fat Stack Fridays Koko Cocktails, 1060 Geary, SF; (415) 885-4788. 10pm, free. With rotating DJs Romanowski, B-Love, Tomas, Toph One, and Vinnie Esparza.

Fo’ Sho! Fridays Madrone. 10pm, $5. DJs Kung Fu Chris, Makossa, and Quickie Mart spin rare grooves, soul, funk, and hip-hop classics.

Free Funk Friday Elbo Room. 10pm, free. With DJs Vinnie Esparza, B-Cause, and guest Asti Spumanti.

Gay Asian Paradise Club Eight, 1151 Folsom, SF; www.eightsf.com. 9pm, $8. Featuring two dance floors playing dance and hip hop, smoking patio, and 2 for 1 drinks before 10pm.

Go Bang! Deco SF, 510 Larkin St; (415) 346-2025. 10pm, $5. Recreating the diversity and freedom of the 70’s/ 80’s disco nightlife with DJs Eddy Bauer, Flight, Nicky B., Sergio and more.

Look Out Weekend Bambuddha Lounge. 4pm, free. Drink specials, food menu and resident DJs White Girl Lust, Swayzee, Philie Ocean, and more.

Lovebuzz Annie’s Social Club. 9pm, $5. Rock, classic punk, and 90s with DJs Jawa and Melanie Nelson.

M4M Fridays Underground SF. 10pm-2am. Joshua J and Frankie Sharp host this man-tastic party.

Punk Rock and Shlock Karaoke Annie’s Social Club. 9pm-2am, $5. Eileen and Jody bring you songs from multiple genres to butcher: punk, new wave, alternative, classic rock, and more.

VSL Friday Vessel, 85 Campton Place, SF; (415) 433-8585. 9pm. With DJ Eve Salvail.



Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers Great American Music Hall. 9pm, $16.

Elin Jr, Minks, Claire El Rio. 4pm, $10-15.

50 Million, Shellshag, Screaming Females, Kreamy Lectric Santa, Reaction Thee Parkside. 9pm, $5.

Fighting Supaks, Paleface, Ledbetter and His Best Bet, Justin Gordon and the Wrecking Ball Café du Nord. 8:30pm, $12.

Git Some, Secret Wars, Olehole Bender’s Bar, 800 S. Van Ness, SF; www.bendersbar.com. 10pm, $5.

Havespecialpower, Midnight Strangers, Girl With the Violent Arts Li Po Lounge. 8:30pm, $7.

Iron Maidens, Oreo, Sticks and Stones Annie’s Social Club. 8pm, $15.

Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Eric Krasno and Chapter 2 Fillmore. 9pm, $25.

Leopold and His Fiction, Spyrals, Candy Apple Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $6.

N.A.S.A. Independent. 9pm, $18.

Octopus Project, Birds and Batteries, Don’ts Bottom of the Hill. 10pm, $12.

Earl Thomas Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $22.

Wild Child Slim’s. 9pm, $20.


Alphabet Soup Coda. 10pm, $10.

Audium 9 1616 Bush, SF; (415) 771-1616. 8:30pm, $15.

Larry Carlton Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason, SF; www.therrazzroom.com. 7 and 9:30pm, $47.50.

Eric Kurtzrock Trio Ana Mandara, Ghirardelli Square, 891 Beach, SF; (415) 771-6800. 8pm, free.

Jack Jones Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $35.

"New Frequencies @ YBCA: Next Wave of Global Landscape" Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF; www.ybca.org. 8pm, $25. With Tanya Tagaq/KIHNOUA.

Mary Redente Socha Café, 3235 Mission, SF; (415) 643-6848. 8:30pm, free.

Ricardo Scales Top of the Mark. 9pm, $10.


Ember Plough and Stars. 9pm.

Evening with Accordions Café Royale, 800 Post, SF; (415) 441-4099. 8pm, free. Featuring Rob Reich and Marie Abe.

Here Comes a Big Black Cloud, Fast Love Amnesia. 9pm, $7.

Lucas Revolution Amnesia. 7pm, free.

Matt Morris Revolution Café, 3248 22nd St, SF; (415) 642-0474. 8:45pm, free.

Orquesta Rumba Café The Ramp, 855 Terry Francois, SF; (415) 621-2378. 5pm, free.

Tanya Tagaq with Kihnoua Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF; (415) 978-2787. 8pm, $25.


Bar on Church 9pm. Rotating DJs Foxxee, Joseph Lee, Zhaldee, Mark Andrus, and Niuxx.

Booty Bassment Knockout. 10pm, $5. Booty-shaking hip-hop with DJs Ryan Poulsen and Dimitri Dickenson.

Cock Fight Underground SF. 9pm, $6. Locker room antics galore with electro-spinning DJ Earworm and hostess Felicia Fellatio.

Fred Everything and Olivier Desmet Vessel, 85 Campton Place, SF; (415) 433-8585. 10pm, $10.

Fire Corner Koko Cocktails, 1060 Geary; 885-4788. 9:30pm, free. Rare and outrageous ska, rocksteady, and reggae vinyl with Revival Sound System and guests.

HYP Club Eight, 1151 Folsom, SF; www.eightsf.com. 10pm, free. Gay and lesbian hip hop party, featuring DJs spinning the newest in the top 40s hip hop and hyphy.

Industry Mighty. 10pm, $25. With DJs Jamie J Sanchez, James Torres, Russ Rich, and more.

Saturday Night Live Fat City, 314 11th St; selfmade2c@yahoo.com. 10:30pm.

Saturday Night Soul Party Elbo Room. 10pm, $10. With DJs Lucky, Phengren Oswald, and Paul Paul.



Half Handed Cloud, Red Pony Clock, Boat Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $6.

Loop! Station, Jill Tracy, Nicki Jaine Café du Nord. 8pm, $10.

Love is Chemicals, Aim Low Kid, Solar Powered People Bottom of the Hill. 8pm, $8.


Larry Carlton Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason, SF; www.therrazzroom.com. 7pm, $47.50.

Lucid Lovers Harris’ Restaurant, 2100 Van Ness, SF; (415) 673-1888. 6:30pm.

Stanley Coda. 9pm, $7.


Emily Anne, Devine;s Jug Band, East River String Band Amnesia. 9pm, $7-10.

Mindia Devi Klein St. John Coltrane Church, 1286 Fillmore, SF; (415) 673-7144. 7pm, $10-25.

Marla Fibish, Erin Shrader, Richard Mandel and friends Plough and Stars. 9pm, free.

Fiesta Andina! Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; (415) 646-0018. 7pm, $12. With Eddy Navia and Sukay.

Grooming the Crow, Lariats of Fire Thee Parkside. 4pm, free.

Rolando Morales Quintet The Ramp, 855 Terry Francois, SF; (415) 621-2378. 5pm, free.

Salsa Sundays El Rio. 4:15pm, $8. With Julio Bravo.


Toby Keith, Trace Adkins Shoreline Amphitheater, One Amphitheater Pkwy, Mtn View; www.livenation.com. 7:30pm, $20-74.


August T-Dance Ruby Skye. 5pm, $25. With the Perry Twins.

DiscoFunk Mashups Cat Club. 10pm, free. House and 70’s music.

Dub Mission Elbo Room. 9pm, $6. Dub, roots, and classic dancehall with DJ Sep, Ludachris, and guest Ross Hogg.

Honey Soundsystem Paradise Lounge. 8pm-2am. "Dance floor for dancers – sound system for lovers." Got that?

Jock! Lookout, 3600 16th; 431-0306. 3pm, $2. This high-energy party raises money for LGBT sports teams.

Kick It Bar on Church. 9pm. Hip-hop with DJ Zax.

Religion Bar on Church. 3pm. With DJ Nikita.

Stag AsiaSF. 6pm, $5. Gay bachelor parties are the target demo of this weekly erotic tea dance.



Can’t Find a Villain, King Robot, Construct Existence Crew, Paulie Rhyme, Beta Central, Monica Ramos Elbo Room. 9pm, $5.

Dicky Betts and Great Southern Slim’s. 8pm, $30.

Stereo Freakout, Drunken Hu?, Serenity Now! Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $8.


Third Eye Blind Fox Theater. 8pm, $29.50.


Lavay Smith Trio Enrico’s, 504 Broadway, SF; www.enricossf.com. 7pm, free.

Yellowjackets with Mike Stern Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $20-26.


Free Bluegrass Monday Amnesia. 6:30pm, free.


Arcade Lookout SF, 2600 16th St., SF; www.lookoutsf.com. 8pm, free. With DJs Jory and Johnny B spinning alt. 80’s and new wave.

Black Gold Koko Cocktails, 1060 Geary; 885-4788. 10pm-2am, free. Senator Soul spins Detroit soul, Motown, New Orleans R&B, and more — all on 45!

Going Steady Dalva. 10pm, free. DJs Amy and Troy spinning 60’s girl groups, soul, garage, and more.

King of Beats Tunnel Top. 10pm. DJs J-Roca and Kool Karlo spinning reggae, electro, boogie, funk, 90’s hip hop, and more.

Mainroom Mondays Annie’s Social Club. 9pm, free. Live the dream: karaoke on Annie’s stage and pretend you’re Jello Biafra.

Manic Mondays Bar on Church. 9pm. Drink 80-cent cosmos with Djs Mark Andrus and Dangerous Dan.

Monster Show Underground SF. 10pm, $5. Cookie Dough and DJ MC2 make Mondays worth dancing about, with a killer drag show at 11pm.

Network Mondays Azul Lounge, One Tillman Pl; www.inhousetalent.com. 9pm, $5. Hip-hop, R&B, and spoken word open mic, plus featured performers.

Spliff Sessions Tunnel Top. 10pm, free. DJs MAKossa, Kung Fu Chris, and C. Moore spin funk, soul, reggae, hip-hop, and psychedelia on vinyl.



Antioquia, Sex With No Hands Elbo Room. 9pm, $7.

Fat Tuesday Band Biscuits and Blues. 8pm, $15.

Pissed Jeans, Mi Ami, How to Make Swords Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $12.

Scrabbel, Pregnant, Imra Hemlock Tavern. 8pm, $6.

Emiliana Torrini, Anya Marina Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $20.

Max Tundra Café du Nord. 8:30pm, $12.


Dave Parker Quintet Rasselas Jazz. 8pm.

Euliptian Quartet Socha Café, 3235 Mission, SF; (415) 643-6848. 8:30pm, free.

"Jazz Mafia Tuesdays" Coda. 9pm, $7. With Shotgun Wedding Quintet.

Ricardo Scales Top of the Mark. 6:30pm, $5.

Yellowjackets with Mike Stern Yoshi’s San Francisco. 8 and 10pm, $20-26.


Misterioso Revolution Café, 3248 22nd St, SF; (415) 642-0474. 8:30pm, free.

Slow Session with Vince Keehan and friends Plough and Stars. 9pm, free.


Drunken Monkey Annie’s Social Club. 9pm, free. With DJ Blackstone.

Eclectic Company Skylark, 9pm, free. DJs Tones and Jaybee spin old school hip hop, bass, dub, glitch, and electro.

Rock Out Karaoke! Amnesia. 7:30pm. With Glenny Kravitz.

Womanizer Bar on Church. 9pm. With DJ Nuxx.


Rocked and rolled



Musical theater separates the men from the boys, and the gritty urban musical is especially tough to pull off. Hardcore violence, seedy city underbellies, bare midriffs, and a sprinkling of angel dust might make me or you want to burst into song, but it’s still pretty jarring to witness. Nonetheless, the GUM as a subgenre is well established. Many would call Rent its quintessential expression. Others might go for Urinetown, if only to take the piss out of the Rent faction. But these are the ones that help sell the form, and they can make it look misleadingly easy.

Boxcar Theatre’s new urban rock musical, Rent Boy Ave.: A "Fairy’s" Tale, has some of the genre’s virtues and many of its faults, with a title already evoking at least two of the aforementioned Broadway precedents (though how intentionally I can’t say; thematically the play’s emphasis falls more on the subtitle, with snaking references to Pinocchio et al.). You have to hand it to Boxcar; as other companies scale back and tighten belts, it steps forward and belts out scales. It’s an ambitious capstone to the company’s current season. It’s also bursting with neighborhood spirit: Rent Boy Ave. is about sleazy back-alley prostitution and drug dealing among underage hustlers in the feral alleyways of SoMa, conveniently located right outside the door.

While there are actually relatively few people to be sighted, let alone tricks turned, in the street immediately adjacent to the theater, director Wolfgang Lancelot Wachalovsky does his best to play up any symmetry, having actors panhandle and proposition the audience as they take their seats, arrayed around chain-link and vibrant graffiti (courtesy of Lily Black and Mr. Fingers) in Don Cate’s enveloping urban jungle décor. The cheekiness simultaneously erases the distinction between theater and street and calls knowing attention to it.

But ambition and local flavor notwithstanding, the musical is rather shaky. The story begins with the arrival of fresh-meat street urchin David (a nicely bold and comically dry, if musically uneven, Bobby Bryce), exiled from his Midwestern home (yes, he’s from Kansas) for being gay. Accomplished hustler Mark (Bradly Mena), already long in the tooth at 17, takes him in hand, while insisting he’s straight despite his male clientele. David is not prepared to prostitute himself, but likes Mark, who introduces him to the Pimp (a dramatically flat but resonantly voiced Anthony Rollins-Mullens), who gets him dealing drugs in the meantime. David befriends another of the Pimp’s properties, junkie thrasher Jackie, whose opening number, "Punk Rock Slut," establishes actor Danelle Medeiros’ conviction and vocal control in the role despite some less than compelling choreography. The streets are haunted, meanwhile, by a psychopathic Dirty Old Man (a bright, enjoyably nasty Donald Currie, with some of the better lyrics) and patrolled by a foul-mouthed soup-kitchen saint, Sister Mercy (an able Michelle Ianiro).

Performances here are mixed, the staging only fitfully compelling. More crucially, book and lyrics (by artistic director Nick A. Olivero) deliver a patchy plot and characters of thin or questionable merit. There’s humor and punch in some songs, but too many lines are poetically strained to the point of hemorrhaging — especially in the generally egregious "rhyme"-busting of the Pimp: "I’ve got apples to pick /And fingers to lick /And money to kick." The rock score (by Michael Mohammed), at times effectively driving or wistful, can also be dully formulaic or ponderously proggy. Rent Boy Ave.‘s moral has an unfortunate double edge to it: among this world’s fleshy but spiritually empty transactions — "Life don’t mean a thing /Living in a prostitution ring" — it’s the soul that counts.


Through Aug. 9

Wed–Sat, 8 p.m.; Sun, 2 p.m., $18–$34

Boxcar Playhouse, 505 Natoma, SF

(415) 776-1747


YACHT rocks



SONIC REDUCER The path of true love — even the healing, heartfelt, pathologically curious, perpetually vision-seeking path of Newest Age, dance-punk, pop-mantra true love — is never smooth. Nor bruise-free, when reality — and task of where exactly to place those four feet — meets calamity.

"There were kinks to work out when Claire joined the band," says YACHT’s Jona Bechtolt on the inclusion of kindred spirit and soul mate (and writer, artist, and musician) Claire L. Evans in his once one-man project. "We didn’t know how to work in each other’s space."

"We still don’t," Evans cheerfully interjects.

"I stepped on Claire the other night!" exclaims Bechtolt, 28. But like so many other things in the curiouser-and-curiouser whirl of YACHT (Young Americans Challenging High Technology), what might seem like an issue — or grounds for a major band or couple’s squabble — is actually a point of modest, optimistic pride.

"We are incredibly paranoid," he continues. The couple first met four years ago while playing the same basement noise show in Los Angeles. "We don’t want to play the same show twice. I’ve played in countless rock bands before, so I know what it’s like to play the same memorized parts again and again. That sort of thing doesn’t work for me as a human being, though I’m not putting those bands down at all. We want to provide an alternative to rock performance, using PowerPoint, video screens …"

"We want to make it a two-way performance where the audience is a part of it," adds Evans, 24.

"We want to break the rules of honoring personal space," Bechtolt says, laughing. "We want to enter people’s personal space physically and emotionally and visually!"

To that end, YACHT wants to take its performance to the audience floor, through the crowd itself, into caves and high schools, or onto a barge boasting a sustainable geodesic dome and drifting down the Hudson River — just as they did the other night under the aegis of WFMU. Space and all the physical and psychic mysteries, conspiracy theories, and belief systems, within and without, are a preoccupation for the pair, who, over the phone from NYC, come across like wonderfully wise, fresh-headed, and all-American enthusiasts — wild-child music ‘n’ art makers in a persistent state of evangelical high energy.

Marfa, Texas’ mystery lights made their way, for sure, onto YACHT’s new album, See Mystery Lights (DFA): the otherwise-Portland, Ore.-based couple relocated to the town for an unofficial residency to study the phenomenon and expand on the seeds of the LP: eight minute-long mantras. "We gave the first version of the record to DFA and asked them for notes, and they were like, ‘Whoa, this is really weird.’ It was eight minutes long," says Bechtolt. "They were freaked out and said, ‘It’s really good, but how do we put it out?’ They gave us the challenge to turn those mantras in pop songs."

(Though never fear, those mantras aren’t lost to the ages: the pair plans to release them on 100 lathe-cut copper discs, as well as a slew of companion works including a "bible" of sorts and software that will allow followers to keep tabs on YACHT. "We’re really into objects right now," confesses Bechtolt.)

And what pop. Lights twinkles then zigzags with all the frenetic future-boogie ("Summer Song," "It’s Boring /You Can Live Anywhere You Want") and raw pop hooks ("I’m in Love with a Ripper") of a so-called DFA combo, as well as nuggets of life-and-death wisdom ("Ring the Bell," "The Afterlife"). YACHT appears to be making music that harks to less than widely referenced sources like Art of Noise, Malcolm McLaren, and other awkward yet insinuating, conceptually-minded pop experimentalists of the ’80s — and those final seconds when the pop charts seemed to skeptically embrace the musical musings of so many art school refugees.

"There’s a repetitive nature built into pop and dance music, so for these atonal mantras we were working on, it turned out to be a better way to disseminate our message," Evans explains. "We’re excited that you can hide a lot in pop music. You can appreciate it on two levels." Two true. *


Fri/7, 8:30 p.m., $15

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF




The crafty psych magicians are dormant no more. With Spindrift and Ty Segall. Fri/7, 9 p.m., $16. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF. www.gamh.com


Party with us, punkers, for la causa. With Bar Feeders and Fucking Buckeroos. Sat/8, 4 p.m., $8–$20 sliding scale donation for the SF Tenants Union. El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF. www.elriosf.com


Sunn O))) worshipers might appreciate the Portland, Ore., foursome’s black atmospherics, anarchic electronics, and love o’ the heavy. With Barn Owl, Squim, and Oaxacan. Sun/9, 9 p.m., $7. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com

Best of the Bay 2009: Sports and Outdoors




Editors Picks: Outdoors and Sports


Although it has only been a mere season and a half since Barry Bonds went loudly into a toxic sunset, the San Francisco Giants have already refocused with a formidable team of unlikely upstarts that boasts one of the best records in the National League. Built around a colorful but humble lineup of players with nicknames like the Freak, Big Unit, and Kung Fu Panda, the current Giants roster is everything that Bonds was not — egoless, team-oriented, and free of baggage. And just as the Tim Lincecum-<\d>led pitching staff was shaping up as the team’s best asset for a successful playoff bid, along comes 26-year-old left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, from a demotion in the bullpen, to throw a masterpiece of a pitching performance. The Sanchez no-hitter against the Padres on July 10 was the team’s first since 1976. It provided an up-from-the-ashes victory that invoked tremendous optimism for the future, to the point where you can already hear it, clear with conviction and confidence: "Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!"


Never underestimate the urge — especially in somber, grizzle-haired grown-ups and perfectly sensible adults — to jam shiny, decal-stickered helmets on one’s head before shrieking downhill in plastic toy vehicles, playfully jockeying with others all the way to the bottom. Having just completed its triumphant ninth annual run this past Easter, the annual Bring Your Own Big Wheel race is spastic, daredevil fun. Any form of transport is legal, as long as it’s human-powered and about a third your size. Past races have seen some imaginative entries: office chairs figured in one racer’s wobbly run, while others constructed iffy rides from wood planks, masking tape, and a few ingeniously placed nails. Outlandish costumes never hurt, either: Big Bird, bunnies, and aliens run rampant. Once held on Lombard Street, the event now careens down Potrero Hill’s twistier Vermont Street. The only thing you can’t bring is alcohol. Shucks.



Is it wrong to be kind of turned on by the Victorian-bondage-looking machines at San Francisco Gyrotonic? Even the word "Gyrotonic" makes us gyrate suggestively in our minds. (Pervs!) Intimately connected to the dance community, the Gyrotonic exercise program is an intriguing new approach to working out. The Gyrotonic Expansion System was invented in the 1950s by ballet dancer Juliu Horvath after an Achilles injury left him unable to dance. The workout uses a contraption with raised pulleys, similar to a Pilates machine, but moves your joints in a circular rather than linear motion, training the body to be more flexible. Classes are taught by former ballerinas who’ve danced in companies such as the San Francisco Ballet, New York’s School of American Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera’s American Ballet Theatre, and San Francisco’s Alonzo King’s LINES. In terms of dance workouts, nothing could be further from Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo. The studio attracts a fleet of nimble, limber dance-types, but beginners should not be intimidated, nor overexcited.

26 Seventh St. # 4, SF. (415) 863-3719, www.sfgyrotonic.com


If we’ve learned anything from the most recent technological revolution, it’s that nerds are way cooler than we thought they were. "I’m a music nerd," people will proudly say, or "I’m an art nerd." Identifying as a nerd grants substantial cultural capital — and not just in a lame hipster sense, like when people wear glasses without lenses or pretend to appreciate B-movies. Skateboarders, cyclists, and gamers are good examples of this phenomenon, but none of these subcultures has a more nonconformist, fuck-you attitude than that of the gonzo yo-yo enthusiast. It’s true that yo-yo champion David Capurro and the other members of his local club, the Spin Doctors, probably spend their weekends practicing barrel rolls and smashers instead of drinking, dancing, and posing. But, well, come on, that shit’s for nerds. Cool people have better things to do … like winning tournaments, inventing new tricks, and traveling the world to battle other crews.



Perhaps you’ve seen kiteboarders skimming across the water like wakeboarders and flittering aloft, gliding like skydivers. If you’ve yearned to partake in the strange but intriguing sport of kiteboarding, but didn’t know where to start, look no further than Boardsports School and Shop. With three locations and plenty of certified instructors, it’s the most facilitative wind and board shop on the bay. Whether it’s kitesurfing, windsurfing, kiteboarding on land, or even stand-up paddle boarding, the staff can help you find what you’re after (don’t be put off by the dude-bro locutions) and teach you how to catch some major air safely. Boardsports has exclusive teaching rights in two of the bay’s best beginner spots, Alameda’s Crown Beach and Coyote Point in San Mateo, and offers lessons for first-time kite flyers or can arrange pro instruction for experienced boarders looking to push their skills to the next level. Boardsports also offers tidy deals on kite packages and equipment to help you lift off without lifting your wallet.

(415) 385-1224, www.boardsportsschool.com


The Brits have started some internationally contagious sports, like football (soccer) and cricket. Now underwater hockey, which English divers created in the 1950s, is grabbing Americans’ attention. Locals are quickly jumping into the game with the San Francisco Underwater Hockey club. If you like swimming, dip your toes in new water and give it a shot. Sean Avent of the San Francisco Sea Lions club team explains its appeal: "Holding your breath, wearing a Speedo, and swimming after a lead puck on the bottom of a swimming pool is no more obtuse than trying to pummel a guy who is carrying a pigskin ball and armored in high-tech plastic. People, in general, are just more familiar with the latter of the two obtuse sports. And the first is just way more fun." Pay $4 at the door of one of the games to try it out, or join the club and play in the Presidio or Bayview pools at a low cost.



Million Fishes Gallery, one of our favorite artist collectives in San Francisco, isn’t just an awesome place to see great exhibits by a revolving door of local artists and to catch raging late-night shows featuring bands like Jonas Reinhardt, Erase Errata, Tussle, and Lemonade. It also provides an effective and inexpensive way to get your rejuvenating twice-weekly yoga fix. Instructor Beth Hurley teaches a 90-minute vinyasa yoga class from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the gallery’s yoga studio (yeah, this artist space comes with its own yoga studio) that draws a nice mix of artists, Mission locals, yoga enthusiasts, and those who see the benefit in working out before hitting up El Metate next door. Hurley’s sessions are $7 to $11, which firmly places them among the least expensive yoga classes in San Francisco, and safeguards you from having to deal with yuppie yogis in head-to-toe Lululemon.

2829 23rd St., SF. www.millionfishes.com


Mission restaurateur Scott Youkilis has turned out quality American fare at Maverick for a few years now, while his brother Kevin continues to play at an MVP pace for the Boston Red Sox. Scott bottles a great homemade hot sauce; Kevin hits two-out home runs in the bottom of the ninth against the New York Yankees. Could there possibly be a way to merge these exceptional fraternal talents? Voilà: Youk’s Hot Sauce, a condiment that attempts to bottle the potency of Kevin’s hitting abilities with the flavor of Scott’s Southern-tinged cuisine. Available at Maverick or online, bottles go for $10 each, or $25 with Kevin’s autograph, and portions of all proceeds go to Kevin’s charity, Youk’s Hits for Kids. It’s a hot souvenir from a future Hall of Famer for the legions of Red Sox fans that make the Bay Area their home away from Fenway.

3316 17th St., SF. (415) 863-3061, www.sfmaverick.com, www.youkshotsauce.com


When it comes to getting in shape, it’s almost a crime to have a gym membership in San Francisco. We live in the almost perpetually golden state of California, not Wisconsin in the third week of January. So get the hell outside and tackle some hills or run along the beaches. Better yet, do both with the Baker Beach Sand Ladder. Long known to local triathletes as an endurance-crushing beast, the sand ladder is 400 sheer steps of pulse-pounding "I think I’m gonna die" workout, set against the spectacular backdrop of the Pacfic Ocean flowing into the Golden Gate. Minus the cardiac arrest, it sure beats the fluorescent lighting, smelly funk, and steroidal carnival music of your local gym. The simple fact of the matter is that when you can run nonstop to the top of the sand ladder you’re officially in good shape. And best of all, it’s free.

25th Ave. and El Camino del Mar, SF. www.nps.gov


Chevron has always been one of the Bay Area’s more vile corporations, whether it’s lobbying aggressively against global warming legislation or polluting communities from Richmond to Ecuador, all the while greenwashing its image with warm and fuzzy (and highly deceptive) advertising campaigns. That’s why we love to see groups such as the rainforest-protecting Amazon Watch and its anti-Chevron allies giving a little something back. Before this year’s Chevron shareholders meeting in San Francisco, activists plastered fake Chevron ads ("I will not complain about my asthma" and "I will give my baby contaminated water") all over the city and staged creative protests outside the event. Ditto when Chevron CEO David O’Reilly spoke at the Commonwealth Club in May, sending Chevron goons into a paranoid frenzy. Amazon Watch and other groups are winning some key battles — voters recently approved steep tax increases on Chevron’s Richmond refinery, and a judge rejected plans to expand the facility. To which we can only say, "Hit ’em again!"



Ear-piercing squeals, gut-rumbling skronks, the occasional wet fart sound — these are the unfortunate hallmarks of beginning brass instrumentalists. Those living in a city as dense and sensitive as our own have it rough when they want to work out their kinks: neighbors who sleep during the day or get up early yell at them, passersby take none too kindly to the squawking on busy sidewalks, and soundproofed studio space is economically out of reach. For all who need a place to practice, there’s the blessing of the Conservatory Drive tunnel, which passes under John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park. An array of practicing jazz combos and amateur tooters take up residence at the tunnel’s entrance during the day, providing entertainment to nearby Conservatory of Flowers visitors. The tunnel actually seems to crave music pouring into and echoing through its abyss — it forms a protective acoustic cocoon around performers that amplifies mellifluous passages and somehow blurs out less felicitous ones. Spontaneous jam sessions are common, so don’t sit on the grass — pick up your brass.

Conservatory Dr. and John F. Kennedy Dr., Golden Gate Park, SF


Little-known and charmingly miniscule, the Eagle Point Labyrinth is a jumble of twisty turns perched on the lip of a cliff near an offshoot of Lands End Trail. To reach it, you must set out with a compass in hand, hope in your heart, and fingers crossed. The labyrinth, one of three outdoor mazes known to exist in San Francisco, is a mysterious wonder that has so far avoided being marked on any map (although it can be glimpsed via a Google satellite image for those too faint to blindly wander in search of it). The superlative views it affords of the Golden Gate certainly justify hiking, sometimes panicked, through yards of unpruned foliage. The stone-heaped maze is handmade, and while we speculate about its mysterious origins — a mousetrap for Minotaurs, perhaps? — we can’t help but appreciate the karmic offerings of those who have reached the center before us, leaving a small pile of baubles. Mythic etiquette mandates you scoop up one of these and leave something of your own behind.

Lands End, Sutro Heights Park, SF.


Yearning to try yoga but needing to stretch your dollar? Every Monday through Thursday from 7:45 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., YogaKula packs its San Francisco location with eager newcomers for its affordable community class, available on a sliding scale ($8 to $16). Especially lively are the Monday and Wednesday classes with quirky and entertaining instructor Skeeter Barker, who offers genuine, palatable optimism and inspiration along with some much-needed recentering. Barker is an inspirational teacher who, as her Web profile says, "welcomes you to your mat, however you find yourself there." Along with the community classes, YogaKula offers Anusara, a therapeutic style of yoga, in addition to a variety of other wellness practices. Its two locations — one at 16th Street and Mission, and one in North Berkeley — offer courses in yoga training, yoga philosophy, specialized workshops, Pilates, massage, and one-on-one yoga instruction.

3030A 16th St., SF. (415) 934-0000; 1700 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 486-0264, www.yogakula.com


To be precise, the best place to hide a jet is behind Door 14 on the Alameda Naval Air Station. While many of the buildings on the former military base have been converted to civilian uses, such as sports clubs and distilleries, some continue to serve military functions, like storing the jet that used to be on display at the base’s portside entrance (until high winds blew it off its pedestal two winters ago). The naval station is also the perfect place to hide domesticated bunnies. A herd of them live in and around a tumbledown shed opposite the Port of Oakland. Then there are the jackrabbits, which flash across the base’s open spaces at night, hind legs glinting in the moonlight. It’s easy to miss the flock of black-crowned night herons, which pose one-legged every winter on the lawns of "The Great Whites"-<\d>houses where the naval officers once lived. But who could forget the hawk that roosts atop the Hangar One distillery and periodically swoops to grab a tasty, unsuspecting victim off the otherwise empty runways where The Matrix Reloaded was shot?

1190 W. Tower, Alameda


Since 1998, Cyclecide has been enchanting — and sometimes scaring — audiences with its punk rock-<\d>inspired, pedal-powered mayhem. But after 11 years of taking its bicycle-themed carnival rides, rodeo games, and live band to places like Coachella, Tour de Fat, and Multnomah County Bike Fair, the bicycle club is putting down roots, or rather, fake grass. This year the crew famous for tall bikes, bicycle jousting, and denim jackets with a cackling clown on the back is building Funland, an 18-hole mini golf course in the Bayview. Though sure to be fun for the whole family, rest assured that Funland will retain all of Cyclecide’s boundary-pushing humor and lo-fi sensibility. Yes, there will be a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge built by master welder Jay Broemmel, but you can also putt through Closeupofmyass, a landscape of rubber tubes springing from brown Astroturf. What else would you expect from a crew whose interests are "bikes, beer, and building stuff"?



It’s nice for big companies to notice that women buy things other than cleaning supplies and facial cream. But do they have to make everything targeted toward the female demographic so freakin’ floral and pink and cloyingly girlie? Adventure Medical Kits — the Oakland-based company famous in sports circles for outfitting everyone from backcountry skiers to weekend car-campers with durable, complete first-aid packages — says a resounding no. Its women’s edition outdoor medical kit comes jam-packed with all the fixings adventurous boys get — wound care materials, mini tweezers, insect-bite salve, a variety of medications, and a first-aid booklet — plus a couple things only ladies need, like tampons, leak-safe tampon bags, menstrual relief meds, and compact expands-in-water disposable towels. And it’s all packaged in a sporty blue nylon bag that weighs less than a pound. No lipstick? No diet pills? No frilly, lacy case made to look like a purse or a bra or a tiny dog? We’re buying it.



When one thinks of skate shops these days, one’s thoughts travel naturally to wicked Bloodwizard decks, Heartless Creeper wheels, and Venture trucks — everything you’d need to trick out your board before you cruise to Potrero de Sol. All those goodies are available at Cruz Skate Shop, as well as Lowcard tees, recycled skateboard earrings, Protec helmets, and much more. But boarding is boring. You’ve done it since you were 13. Isn’t it time to ditch that deck and take up a real sport like, say, roller skating? Hell, yes. And Cruz has everything you need to get started down that sparkly, disco-bumpy Yellow Brick Road to eight-wheelin’ Oz. From the fiercest derby-ready model to mudflap girl bootie shorts, this store will kit you up in the best way for your Sunday afternoon Golden Gate Park debut. We’re partial to the Sure-Grip Rock Flame set of wheels with, you guessed it, pink flames streaming up the toes. But an enticing array of more professional-looking speed skates is available, as is a knowledgeable staff to get you rollin’.

3165 Mission, SF. (415) 285-8833, www.cruzskateshop.com


If you’re looking to get on the water without getting wet, Ruby Sailing is an affordable option for you and your friends to get a taste of adventure. The Ruby sailboat has been taking guests around the bay for 25 years. For just $40 per person, owner and operator Captain Josh Pryor will lead you on a two and a half hour tour of the bay, passing Alcatraz and looping around Sausalito. Snacks are provided, and the skipper sells wine and beer by the glass for cheap. The Ruby is also available for fishing expeditions, including poles, bait, and tackle; for private parties up to 30 guests; for weddings; and even for funerals at sea. And since the boat boards at the Ramp restaurant on the Dogpatch waterfront, you’re covered for pre- and post-splash food and drink, if you have the stomach. No prior sailing experience is required, but, in the words of the skipper, "no two trips are the same," so be ready to hang on.

855 Terry Francois, SF. (415) 272-0631, www.rubysailing.com



Best of the Bay 2009: Shopping






Sure, you can buy anything you want on the Internet, but there’s still a certain charm in entering a store whose items have been carefully chosen to delight the eye in three dimensions. That’s the idea behind Perch, Zoel Fages’s homage to all things charming and cheeky, from gifts to home décor. Do you need a set of bird feet salt-and-pepper shakers? A rhinoceros-head shot glass? A ceramic skull-shaped candleholder that grows "hair" as the wax drips? Of course not. But do you want them? The minute you enter the sunny, sweet Glen Park shop, the obvious answer will be yes. And for those gifty items you do need — scented candles and soaps, letterpress greeting cards, handprinted wrapping paper — Perch is perfect too. We’d recommend you stop by just to window-shop, but who are we kidding? You can’t visit here without taking something home.

654 Chenery, SF. (415) 586-9000, www.perchsf.com


How many environmentalists does it take to change a light bulb? None: LED light bulbs last longer than environmentalists. If you think that joke’s funny — or at least get why it’s supposed to be — you might just be the target market for Green Zebra. Based on the idea that environmentally aware consumers like to save money as much as their Costco-loving neighbors, this book melds the concept of a coupon book with the creed of environmental responsibility. It’s a virtual directory of deals at local businesses trying to work outside the world of pesticidal veggies and gas-guzzling SUVs. Anne Vollen and Sheryl Cohen’s vision now comes in two volumes — one for San Francisco, and one for the Peninsula and Silicon Valley — featuring more than 275 exclusive offers from indie bookstores, art museums, coffee houses, organic restaurants, pet food stores, and just about anywhere else you probably already spend your money (and wouldn’t mind spending less).

(415) 346-2361, www.thegreenzebra.org


So you need a salad spinner, some kitty litter, a birthday card for your sister, and a skein of yarn, but you don’t feel like going to four different stores to check everything off the list? Face it, you’re lazy. But, you’re also in luck. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Standard 5 and 10, a one-stop wonderland in Laurel Village that caters to just about every imaginable whim, need, and desire of serious shoppers and procrastinators alike. Don’t be fooled by the large red Ace sign on the storefront — this is not merely a hardware store (although it can fulfill your hardware needs, of course). It’s an everything store. Walking the aisles here is a journey through consumerism at its most diverse. Greeting cards and tabletop tchotchkes fade into rice cookers then shower curtains, iron-on patches, Webkinz, motor oil…. It’s a dizzying array of stuff you need and stuff you simply want.

3545 California, SF. (415) 751-5767, www.standard5n10.com


Maybe we don’t have flying cars yet, but with video chatting, iPhones, and automated vacuum cleaners, we’re pretty close to living in the imaginary future The Jetsons made magical. Is it any wonder that, while loving our new technologies (hello, Kindle), we’ve also developed a culturewide nostalgia for simpler times? A perfect example is the emergence of steampunk — perhaps familiar to the mainstream as jewelry made of watch parts and cars crafted to look like locomotives. There also seems to be a less expensive, less industrial trend for the pastimes of yore: Croquet. Talk radio. And board games. The last of which is the basis of Just Awesome, the Diamond Heights shop opened by Portland escapee Erik Macsh as a temple to old-fashioned charms. Here you can pick up a myriad of boxes full of dice, cards, and plastic pieces. Head home with Clue, one of the Monopoly iterations (was Chocolate-opoly really necessary?), or a new game that came out while you were distracted by Nintendo Wii. You can even open the box and try a round or two in the shop. How’s that for old-world service?

816 Diamond, SF. (415) 970-1484, www.justawesomegames.com


The nice thing about having a sister, a roommate, or a tolerable neighbor who’s exactly your size is that there’s always someone else’s closet to raid when your own is looking dismal. But what to do when you live alone, your neighbor’s not answering your calls, and you desperately need an attention-getting outfit right now? Make a new best friend: Shaye McKenney of La Library. The friendly fashionista will let you borrow a pair of leather hot pants for a Beauty Bar boogie or a German knit couture gown for that gold-digging date to the opera, all for a small pay-by-the-day price. You can even bring your makeup and get ready for the evening in front of the antique mirrors in her socialist street shop. It’s all the fun of sharing, without having to lend out any of your stuff.

380 Guerrero, SF. (415) 558-9481, www.la-library.com


Need clothes a rockstar would wear but a starving musician can afford? Look no further than Shotwell, whose blend of designer duds and vintage finds are worthy of the limelight and (relatively) easy on your budget. Think jeans with pockets the size of guitar picks, sculptural black dresses, handpicked grandpa sweaters, and reconstructed ’80s rompers that can be paired with lizard skin belts or dollar sign boots, all for less than the cutting-edge designer labels would suggest they should cost. And it’s not just for the ladies. Michael and Holly Weaver stock their adorable boutique with clothing and accessories for all chromosomal combinations. The concept’s become such a success that Shotwell’s moving from its old locale to a bigger, better space. All we can say is, rock on.
320 Grant, SF. (415) 399-9898, www.shotwellsf.com


The best stores are like mini-museums, displaying interesting wares in such a way that they’re almost as fun to peruse as they are to take home. Park Life takes this concept one step further by being a store (wares in the front are for sale) and a gallery (featuring a rotating selection of local contemporary artists’ work). No need to feel guilty for window-shopping: you’re simply checking out the Rubik’s Cube alarm clock, USB flash drive shaped like a fist, and set of "heroin" and "cocaine" salt-and-pepper shakers on your way to appreciating the paintings in the back, right? And if you happen to leave with an arty coffee-table book, an ironic silk-screen T-shirt, or a Gangsta Rap Coloring Book, that’s just a bonus.

220 Clement, SF. (415) 386-7275, www.parklifestore.com


In a world replete with crates, barrels, Williams, and Sonomas, it’s easy to forget there’s such a thing as an independent cooking store. But Cooks Boulevard is just that: an adorable, one-stop shop for reasonably priced cooking paraphernalia, from a pastry scale or Le Creuset to a candy mold or stash of wooden spoons. And if the shop doesn’t have what you need, the friendly staff will order it for you. In fact, this Noe Valley gem has everything the big stores have, including online ordering, nationwide shipping, and a well-kept blog of missives about the foodie universe. It even offers cooking classes, on-site knife sharpening, community events such as food drives and book clubs, and CSA boxes of local organic produce delivered to neighborhood clientele. With knowledgeable service and well-stocked shelves, the Boulevard makes it easy for home cooks and professional chefs to shop local.

1309 Castro, SF. (415) 647-2665, www.cooksboulevard.com


No sleep ’til Brooklyn? Fine. But no style ’til you reach the Big Apple? We just can’t give you license for that kind of ill, especially since the Brooklyn Circus came to town last July. With its East Coast–style awning, living room vibe, and indie hip-hop style, this boutique might just be the thing to keep those homesick for NYC from buying that JetBlue ticket for one … more … week. Want to save your cash just in case? You’re welcome to chill out on the leather sofas and listen to Mos Def mixtapes. At the store you can soak in the charm of the Fillmore’s colorful energy and history, while checking out the trends that blend Frank Sinatra and Kanye West almost seamlessly. Sure, you could visit the Chicago outpost before going to the original in the store’s namesake city, but why bother? Next year’s selection will include an expanded line of locally produced goodies — all available without having to brave a sweltering Big City summer.

1525 Fillmore, SF. (415) 359-1999, www.thebkcircus.com


I know. It’s July. The last thing you want to do is think about that stupid holiday shopping season that’ll dominate the entire universe in about three months. But the gift baskets at La Cocina are worth talking about year-round, not only because purchasing one supports a fantastic organization (dedicated to helping low-income entrepreneurs develop, grow, and establish their businesses) but because the delightful packages really are great gifts for any occasion. Whether it’s your boss’s birthday, your friend’s dinner party, or simply time to remind your grandmother in the nursing home that you’re thinking of her, these baskets full of San Francisco goodness are a thoughtful alternative to flower bouquets and fruit collections ordered through corporations. Orders might include dark chocolate-<\d>covered graham crackers from Kika’s Treats, spicy yucca sticks, toffee cookies from Sinful Sweets, roasted pumpkin seeds, or shortbread from Clairesquare, starting at $23. Everything will come with a handwritten note and a whole lot of love.



Aqua Forest Aquarium has reinvented the concept of fish in a bowl. The only store in the nation dedicated to a style of decorating aquariums like natural environments, Aqua Forest boasts an amazing display of live aquatic landscapes that seem directly transplanted from more idyllic waters. With good prices, knowledgeable staff, a focus on freshwater life, and a unique selection of tropical fish, the shop is not only proof that aquarium stores need not be weird and dingy, but that your home fish tank can be a thriving ecosystem rather than a plastic environment with a bubbling castle (OK, a thriving ecosystem with a bubbling castle). Part pet store, part live art gallery, Aqua Forest is worth a visit even if you’re not in the market for a sailfin leopard pleco.

1718 Fillmore, SF. (415) 929-8883, www.adana-usa.com


Remember when we all joked that Whole Foods should be called Whole Paycheck? Little did we realize the joke would be on us when the only paper in our purses would be a Whole Pink Slip. In the new economy, some of us can’t afford the luxury of deciding between organic bananas or regular ones — we’re trying to figure out which flavor of ramen keeps us full the longest. Luckily, Duc Loi Supermarket opened in the Mission just in time. This neighborhood shop is big, bright, clean, well stocked, cheap, and diverse, with a focus on Asian and Latino foods. Here you can get your pork chops and pig snouts, salmon and daikon, tofu and tortilla chips — and still have bus fare for the ride home. In fact, young coconut milk is only 99 cents a can, a whole dollar less than at Whole Foods.

2200 Mission, SF. (415) 551-1772


Some people go their entire lives buying replacement 20-packs of tube socks from Costco, socks whose suspicious blend of elastic, petroleum products, and God-knows-what signals to wearers and viewers alike: Warm, shwarm! Fit, shmit! Style, shmyle! Other people, even if they keep their socks encased in boots or shoes, want to know that their foot coverings are just one more indicator of their fashion — and common — sense. Those people go to Rabat in Noe Valley, where the sock racks look like a conjuring of the chorus of "Hair": "curly, fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty, oily, greasy, fleecy, shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen, knotted, polka-dotted, twisted, beaded, braided, powdered, flowered, and confettied; bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied." Furthermore, the socks are mostly made from recognizable materials like wool, cotton, or fleece. As for you sensible-shoe and wingtip types, not to worry. Rabat also stocks black and white anklets and nude-colored peds.

4001 24th St., SF (415) 282-7861. www.rabatshoes.com


Don’t let the small storefront at Alexander Book Company deter you — this three-story, independent bookstore is packed with stuff that you won’t find at Wal-Mart or the book malls. We’re particularly impressed with the children’s collection — and with the friendly, knowledgeable staff. If you’re looking for a birthday present for your kid’s classmate, or one for an out-of-town niece or nephew — or you just generally want to know what 10-year-old boys who like science fiction are reading these days — ask for Bonnie. She’s the children’s books buyer, and not only does she have an uncanny knack for figuring out what makes an appropriate gift, chances are whatever the book is, she’s already read it.

50 Second St., SF. (415) 495-2992, www.alexanderbook.com


If you think Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads are the only places to trade your Diors for dollars, you’re missing out. Urbanity, Angela Cadogan’s North Berkeley boutique, is hands down the best place to consign in the Bay. The spot is classy but not uppity, your commission is 30 percent of what your item pulls in, and, best of all, you’d actually want to shop there. Cadogan has a careful eye for fashion, choosing pieces that deserve a spot in your closet for prices that won’t burn a hole in your wallet. Want an even better deal on those Miu Miu pumps or that YSL dress? Return every 30 days, when items that haven’t sold yet are reduced by 40 percent. But good luck playing the waiting game against Urbanity’s savvy regulars — they’ve been eyeing those Pradas longer than you have.

1887 Solano, Berk. (510) 524-7467, www.shopurbanity.com


Ever wish you could be a character in a period piece, writing love letters on a typewriter to your distant paramour while perched upon a baroque upholstered chair? We can’t get you a role in a movie, but we can send you to the Perish Trust, where you’ll find everything you need to create a funky antique film set of your very own. Proprietor-curator team Rod Hipskind and Kelly Ishikawa have dedicated themselves to making their wares as fun to browse through as to buy, carefully selecting original artwork, vintage folding rulers, taxidermied fowl, out-of-print books, and myriad other antique odds-and-ends from across the nation. As if that weren’t enough, this Divisadero shop also carries Hooker’s Sweet Treats old world-<\d>style gourmet chocolate caramels — and that’s definitely something to write home about.

728 Divisadero, SF. www.theperishtrust.com


If Hayes Valley’s indie-retailer RAG (Residents Apparel Gallery) bedded the Lower Haight’s design co-op Trunk, their love child might look (and act) a lot like Mission Statement. With a focus on local designers and a philosophy of getting artists involved with the store, the 18th Street shop has all the eclectic style of RAG and all the collaborative spirit of Trunk — all with a distinctly Mission District vibe. Much like its namesake neighborhood, this shop has a little of everything: mineral makeup, fedoras adorned with spray-painted designs, multiwrap dresses, graphic tees, and more. Between the wares of the eight designers who work and play at the co-op, you might find everything you need for a head-to-toe makeover — including accessorizing advice, custom designing, and tailoring by co-owner Estrella Tadeo. You may never need to leave the Valencia corridor again.

3458-A 18th St., SF. (415) 255-7457, www.missionstatementsf.com


Beer-shopping at Healthy Spirits might ruin you. Never again will you be able to stroll into a regular suds shop, eye the refrigerated walk-in, and feign glee: "Oh, wow, they have Wolaver’s and Fat Tire." The selection at Healthy Spirits makes the inventory at almost all other beer shops in San Francisco — nay, the fermented universe — look pedestrian. First-time customers sometimes experience sticker shock, but most quickly understand that while hops and yeast and grain are cheap, hops and yeast and grain and genius are not. Should you require assistance in navigating the intriguing and eclectic wall of beer, owner Rami Barqawi and his staff will guide you and your palate to the perfect brew. Once you’ve got the right tipple, you can choose from the standard corner-store sundries, including coffee, wine, ice cream, and snacks. Chief among them is the housemade hummus (strong on the lemon juice, just the way we like it). Being ruined never tasted so good.

2299 15th St., SF. (415) 255-0610, healthy-spirits.blogspot.com


When is a junkyard not just a junkyard? When you wander through its labyrinth of plywood, bicycle tires, and window panes only to stumble upon an intricately carved and perfectly preserved fireplace mantle which, according to a handwritten note taped to it, is "circa 1900." This is the kind of thing that happens at Building Resources, an open air, DIY-er’s dream on the outskirts of Dogpatch, which just happens to be the city’s only source for recycled building and landscape materials. Maybe you’ll come here looking for something simple: a light fixture, a doorknob, a few pieces of tile. You’ll find all that. You’ll also find things you never knew you coveted, like a beautiful (and dirt cheap) claw-foot bathtub that makes you long to redo your own bathroom, even though you don’t own tools and know nothing about plumbing. No worries. That’s what HGTV is for.

701 Amador, SF. (415) 285-7814, www.buildingresources.org


It’s impossible not to be impressed with the selection at Collage, the tiny jewel-box of a shop perched atop Potrero Hill. The home décor store and gallery specializes in typography and signage, refurbished clocks and cameras, clothing, unique furniture, and all kinds of objects reinvented and repurposed to fit in a hip, happy home. But what we like best is owner Delisa Sage’s commitment to supporting the local community and economy. Not only does she host workshops on the art of fine-art collage, she carries a gorgeous selection of jewelry made exclusively by local woman artists. Whether you’re looking for knit necklaces, Scrabble pieces, typewriter keys, or an antiqued kitchen island, you’ll find ’em here. And every dollar you spend supports San Francisco, going toward a sandwich at Hazel’s, or a cup of joe at Farley’s, or an artist’s SoMa warehouse rent. Maybe capitalism can work.

1345 18th St., SF. (415) 282-4401, www.collage-gallery.com


There’s something grandmothers seem to understand that the Forever 21, H&M, Gap generation (not to mention the hippies in between) often miss: the value of elegant, tailored, designer classics that last a lifetime. Plus, thanks to living through the Great Depression, they know a good bargain. Luckily, White Rose got grandma’s memo. This tiny, jam-packed West Portal shop is dedicated to classy, timeless, well-made style, from boiled wool-<\d>embroidered black coats to Dolce handbags. Though the shelves (stacked with sweaters) and racks (overhung with black pants) may resemble those in a consignment or thrift store, White Rose is stocked full of new fashions collected from international travels, catalog sales, or American fabricators. In fact, it’s all part of the plan of the owner — who is reputed to have been a fashion model in the ’50s — to bring elegant chemises, tailored blouses, and dresses for all sizes and ages to the masses. The real price? You must have the patience to sort through the remarkable inventory.

242 W. Portal, SF. (415) 681-5411


It seems you can get yoga pants or Lycra leotards just about anywhere these days (hello, American Apparel). But elastic waists and spaghetti straps alone do not make for good sportswear. SF Dancewear knows that having clothes and footwear designed specifically for your craft — whether ballroom dance, gymnastics, theater, contact improv, or one of the good old standards like tap, jazz, or ballet — makes all the difference. This is why they’ve been selling everything from Capezio tap shoes to performance bras since 1975. The shop is lovely. There are clear boxes of pointe shoes nestled together like clean, shiny baby pigs; glittering displays of ballroom dance pumps; racks of colorful tulle, ruched nylon, patterned Lycra; and a rope draped with the cutest, tiniest tutus you ever did see. The store is staffed by professional dancers who’re not only trained to find the perfect fit but have tested most products on a major stage. And though your salesclerk may dance with Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet or have a regular gig at the S.F. Opera, they won’t scoff at middle-aged novice salsa dancers or plus-size burlesqueteers looking for fishnets and character shoes. Unlike the competitive world of dance studios, this retail shop is friendly and open to anyone who likes to move.

659 Mission, SF. (415) 882-7087; 5900 College, Oakl. (510) 655-3608,



We weren’t sure it could get any better — or weirder — than Paxton Gate, that Mission District palace of science, nature, and dead things. But then the owner, whose first trade was landscape architecture, opened up Paxton Gate Curiosities for Kids down the street, and lo and behold, ever more awesomeness was achieved. Keeping the original store’s naturalist vibe but leaving behind some of its adults-only potential creepiness, this shop focuses on educational toys, vintage games, art supplies, and an eclectic selection of books sure to delight the twisted child in all of us. From handblown marbles to wooden puzzles, agate keychains to stop-motion booklets, and Lucite insects to Charlie Chaplin paper doll kits, everything here seems to be made for shorties from another time — an arguably better one, when kids rooted around in the dirt and made up rules for imaginary games and didn’t wear G-string underwear.

766 Valencia, SF. (415) 252-9990, www.paxtongate.com


San Francisco sure does love its trunk shows: all those funky people hawking their one-of-a-kind wares at one-of-a-kind prices. The only problem? Shows happen intermittently (though with increasing frequency in the pre-<\d>Burning Man frenzy). Lucky for us, Miranda Caroligne — the goddess who makes magic with fabric scraps and a surger — co-founded Trunk, an eclectic indie designer showcase with a permanent address. The Lower Haight shop not only features creative dresses, hoodies, jewelry, and menswear by a number of artists, but also functions as an official California Cooperative Corporation, managed and run by all its 23 members. That means when you purchase your Kayo Anime one-piece, Ghetto Goldilocks vest, or Lucid Dawn corset, you’re supporting an independent business and the independent local artists who call it home.

544 Haight, SF. (415) 861-5310, www.trunksf.com


Skate culture has come a long way since its early surfer punk days. Now what used to be its own subculture encompasses a whole spectrum of subs, including dreadheaded, jah-lovin’, reggae pumpin’ riders. And Culture Skate is just the store for those who lean more toward Bob Marley than Jello Biafra. The Rasta-colored Mission shop features bamboo skate boards, hemp clothing, glass pipes, a whole slew of products by companies such as Creation and Satori, and vinyl records spanning genres like ska, reggaeton, dub, and, of course, good old reggae. Stop by to catch a glimpse of local pros — such as Ron Allen, Matt Pailes, and Karl Watson. But don’t think you have to be a skater to shop here: plenty of people stop by simply for the environmentally-friendly duds made with irie style.

214 Valencia, SF. (415) 437-4758, www.cultureskate.com



Best of the Bay 2009: Arts and Nightlife




Editors Picks: Arts and Nightlife


A gut-spewing zombie drag queen roller derby in honor of Evil Dead 2. An interview with The Exorcist‘s Linda Blair preceded by a rap number that includes the line, "I don’t care if they suck their mother’s cock, as long as they line up around the block!" A virtual wig-pulling catfight with Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. All this and more have graced the proscenium of the Bridge Theater as part of the jaw-dropping (literally) Midnight Mass summertime B-movie fun series, brought to us by the always perfectly horrific Peaches Christ. Her wigs alone are usually enough to scare the jellybean-bejeezus out of us, but Peaches combines live craziness with wince-worthy flicks to take everything over the top. After this, her 12th season of disembowelled joy, Peaches is moving on from Midnight Mass to become a director in her own right — she just wrapped up filming All About Evil with Natasha Lyonne and a cast of local fleshbots. Look for it in your googleplex soon, and know that Peaches still stumbles among us.



Kids, really, don’t try this at home. Don’t hook up your two-player Dance Dance Revolution game to a row of flamethrowers. Don’t rig said game to blast your dance competitior with a faceful of fire in front of an adoring crowd if they miss a step. Don’t invest in enough propane to fuel a small jet, a flaming movie screen for projecting all those awkward dance moves onto, and a booming sound system to play all the Japanese bubblegum techno you could ever hope to hear. Leave the setup to Interpretive Arson, whose Dance Dance Immolation game has wowed participants and spectators alike from Black Rock City to Oaktown — and will scorch Denmark’s footsies this fall. Do, however, seek out these intrepid firestarters, and don a giant silver fireproof suit with a Robby the Robot hood. Do the hippie shake to the mellifluous tones of Fatboy Slim and Smile.dk, and prepare yourself to get flamed, both figuratively and literally.



Penguins are damn funny when you’re drunk. They’re pretty entertaining animals to begin with, but after a couple martinis those little bastards bring better slapstick than Will Ferrell or Jack Black. But tipsily peeping innocent flightless birds — plus bats, butterflies, sea turtles, and manta rays — is just one of many reasons to attend Nightlife, the stunningly rebuilt California Academy of Sciences’ weekly Thursday evening affair. This outrageously popular (get there early) and ingenious party pairs gonzo lineups of internationally renowned DJs and live bands with intellectual talks by some of the world’s best-known natural scientists. Cocktails are served, the floor is packed, intellects are high — and where else can you order cosmos before visiting the planetarium? Another perk: the cost of admission, which includes most of the academy’s exhibits, is less than half the regular price, although you must be 21 or older to attend. Come for the inebriated entertainment, stay for the personal enrichment.

Thursdays, 6 p.m., $8-<\d>$10. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Dr., Golden Gate Park, SF. (415) 379-8000, www.calacademy.org/events/nightlife


Retain a fond nostalgia for the 1990s swing revival scene? Swing Goth is the event you’ve been waiting for. Not quite swing and not even remotely goth, Swing Goth gives swing enthusiasts the go-ahead to boogie-woogie to modern tunes at El Rio. This isn’t your grandmother’s fox trot: rock, rap, ’80s, alternative, Madchester, Gypsy punk, and almost anything else gets swung. Held on the first and third Tuesday of each month and tailored for beginners, this event draws an eclectic crowd that includes dudes who call themselves "hep cats," Mission hipsters, and folks who rock unironic mom jeans and Reebok trainers. If you’re new to swing, arrive at 7:30 and take a one-hour group lesson with ringleader Brian Gardner, who orchestrates the event, to get a quick introduction to swing basics before the free dance. Lessons are $5, but no extra charge for ogling the cute dykes who call El Rio their local watering hole. Swing? Schwing!

First and third Tuesdays, 7 p.m., free. El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF. (415) 282-3325, www.swinggoth.com


Who can take a sunburst of boomer rock inspirations — like The Notorious Byrd Brothers–<\d>era Byrds and Meddle-some Pink Floyd — sprinkle it with dew, and cover it with chocolaty nouveau-hippie-hipster blues-rock and a miracle or two? The fresh-eyed, positive-minded folks of Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound can, ’cause they mix it with love and make a world many believed had grown hack and stale taste good. Riding a wave of local ensembles with a hankering for classic rock, hard-edged Cali psych, Japanese noise, and wild-eyed film scores, the San Francisco band is the latest to make the city safe once more for musical adventurers with open minds and big ears. What’s more, the Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound’s inspired new third album, When Sweet Sleep Returned (Tee Pee) — recorded with help from Tim Green at Louder Studios — has fielded much press praise for space-traveling fuzzbox boogie blowouts like "Drunken Leaves" and blissed-out, sitar-touched jangle rambles such as "Kolob Canyon." Consider your mind burst.



You can’t miss him. He has legs like tree trunks and arm muscles that ripple like lava. When he leaps you think he’ll never come down, and his turns suggest the power of a hurricane. He is dancer Ramón Ramos Alayo, Six years ago he founded the CubaCaribe Festival that now packs in dance aficionados of all stripes, and he’s one of the shaping forces behind the wild San Francisco Carnaval celebration. He runs Alayo Dance Company, for which he choreographs contemporary works with Afro-Cuban roots, and he teaches all over the Bay Area — as many as 60 people show up for his Friday salsa classes at Dance Mission Theater. But Ramos is most strikingly unique as a performer. Ramos is as comfortable embodying Oshoshi, the forest hunter in the Yoruba mythology, as he is taking on "Grace Notes," a jazz improvisation with bassist Jeff Chambers. No wonder Bay Area choreographers as radically different as Joanna Haigood, Sara Shelton Mann, and Robert Moses have wanted to work with him.



Toshio Hirano packs a mean sucker punch. At first glance he’s a wonderfully eccentric Bay Area novelty, a yodeling Japanese cowboy playing native songs of the American heartland. Yet upon further inspection, it becomes as clear as the skies of Kentucky that Toshio is the real deal when it comes to getting deep into the Mississippi muck of Jimmie Rodgers-<\d>style bluegrass. Enchanted by the sound of American folk music as a Japanese college student, Toshio soon ventured stateside to spend years traveling and playing from Georgia to Nashville to Austin before finally settling in the Bay Area. Today, Toshio plays once a month at Amnesia’s free Bluegrass Mondays to standing-room-only crowds. Stay awhile to hear him play Hank Williams’s "Ramblin’ Man" or Rodgers’s "Blue Yodel No. 1(T for Texas)." It’ll clear that Toshio’s novelty is merely a hook — his true appeal lies in his ability to show that there’s a cowboy lurking inside all of us.



A collective howl went up in 1995 when it was announced that the annual festival Black Choreographers: Moving into the 21st Century at Theater Artaud was ending due in part to lack of funding. But two East Bay dancers, Laura Elaine Ellis and Kendra Kimbrough Barnes, actually did something about it, working to ensure that African-American dancers and dance-makers received attention for the range and spirit of their work. It took 10 years, but in 2005, Ellis and Kimbrough Barnes helped launch Black Choreographers Festival: Here and Now, which takes place every February in San Francisco and Oakland. The three-week event is a fabulous way for a community to celebrate itself and to invite everyone to the party. While the choreographers’ range of talent and imagination has been impressive — and getting better every year — the performances are merely the icing on the cake. Master classes, mentoring opportunites for emerging artists, and a technical theater-training program for local high school and college students are building a dance infrastructure the next generation can plug into.



San Francisco can always use another all-female band — and Grass Widow satisfies that need beautifully, cackling with brisk, madcap rhythms and rolling out a happy, crazy quilt of dissonant wails. Drummer-vocalist Lillian Maring, guitarist-vocalist Raven Mahon, and bassist-vocalist Hannah Lew are punk as fuck, of course — in the classic, pre-pre-packaged noncodified mode — though many will instead compare the trio’s inspired, decentered pop to dyed-in-the-bluestockings lo-fi riot grrrl. Still, there’s a highly conscious intensity to Grass Widow’s questioning of the digital givens that dominate life in the late ’00s, as they sing wistfully then rage raggedly amid accelerating rhythms and a roughly tumbling guitar line on "Green Screen," from their self-titled debut on Make a Mess: "Flying low into trees. We exist on the screen. Computer can you hear me? Understand more than 1s and 0s?" Grass Widow may sweetly entreat the listener, "Don’t make a scene," but if we’re lucky, these ladies will kick off a new generation of estrogen-enhanced music-making.



Karaoke is one of those silly-but-fun nightlife activities that always has the potential to be awesome but usually isn’t. The song lists at most karaoke bars suck, the sound systems are underwhelming, and no matter where you go there’s always some asshole bumming everyone out with painful renditions of Neil Diamond tearjerkers. Well, not anymore! Steve Hays, a.k.a. DJ Purple, is a karaoke DJ — or KJ — who has single-handedly turned the Bay Area’s once tired sing-along scene into a mother funkin’ party y’all. DJ Purple’s Karaoke Dance Party happens every Thursday night at Jack’s Club. Forget the sloppy drunks half-assing their way through Aerosmith and Beyoncé songs. DJ Purple’s Karaoke Dance Party is all about Iron Maiden, Snoop Dogg, Led Zeppelin, and Riskay. No slow songs allowed. An actual experienced DJ, Hays keeps the beats running smooth, fading and blending as each person stumbles onstage, and even stepping in for saxophone solos and backup vocals when a song calls for it. And sometimes even when it doesn’t.

Thursdays, 9 p.m., free. Jack’s Club, 2545 24th St., SF. (415) 641-5371, www.djpurple.com


In this age of continual retro, it comes as a surprise that listening to mainstream ’90s alternative rock can give you, under the right inebriated circumstances, the kind of pleasure not experienced since heroin went out of vogue. Debaser at the Knockout has become one of the best monthly parties in San Francisco, largely because it gives ’80s babies, who were stuck playing Oregon Trail in computer class while Courtney Love and Kat Bjelland were rocking it out in Portland, the chance to live out their Nirvana-era dreams. Debaser promoter Jamie Jams is the only DJ in San Francisco who will spin the Cranberries after a Pavement song, and his inspired mixology is empirically proven to induce moshing en masse until last call, an enticingly dangerous sport now that lead-footed Doc Martens are back in style. Sporting flannel gets you comped, so for those still hung up over Jordan Catalano and the way he leans, Debaser is rife with contemporary, albeit less angsty, equivalents.

First Saturdays, 9 p.m., Knockout, 3223 Mission, SF. (415) 550-6994, www.myspace.com/debaser90s


The shaky economy’s probably put your $60 concert plans on hold and relegated those high-rolling VIP nights to the back burner. So it’s a great time to return to the simpler forms of social interaction, such as shaking some dice and screaming, "Yahtzee, bitches!" or guffawing maniacally every time some poor fool attempts to pass your two hotels on Boardwalk. Fortunately, game night at On the Corner café on Divisadero fills your staid Wednesday evenings with enough card-shuffling, Pop-o-matic popping, I-want-to-be-the-thimble classics to sink your battleship blues. Plus, there’s coffee and beer. Working in collusion with the colossal collection of neighboring Gamescape, On the Corner provides a plethora of gaming options to fit its large tables and vibrant atmosphere. Stratego, Scattergories, and other trivial pursuits are all available, and the 7 p.m.-<\d>to-<\d>closing happy hour includes $2.50 draft beers and sangria specials. The tables fill up quickly, though — arrive early so you won’t be sorry.

Wednesdays, 7–10 p.m., free. 359 Divisadero, SF. (415) 522-1101, www.sfcorner.com


Perfect moments are never the ones you work hard to create. Too much effort kills the magic. Instead, the moments we treasure are those that steal up on us, slipping past our defenses to reveal, for just an instant, the sublime wonder of the universe. This is precisely what happens during one’s first encounter with the Lexington Street disco ball, innocuously spinning its multifaceted heart out on a quiet neighborly block in the heart of the Mission District. One moment you’re just walking down the street minding your own business — perhaps rehashing the "should have saids" or the "could have beens" in the muddled disquiet of your mind — when suddenly you spot it, the incongruously located disco ball suspended from a low-hanging branch, throwing a carpet of stars across the sidewalk for anyone to enjoy. All is still, but the music in your heart will lead you. Hold your hands in the air, walk into the light, and dance.

Lexington between 20th and 21st streets, SF


Amandeep Jawa’s bright blue, sound-rigged party-cycle — Trikeasaurus — is our bestest Critical Mass compadre and bike lane buddy, and an essential component of his impromptu FlashDance parties. This three-wheelin’, free-wheelin’, pedal-and-battery-powered funk machine has been bringing the party to the people — and leading spontaneous Michael Jackson tributes — from the Embarcadero to the Broadway tunnel for the past two years. Even if you’re just out for a stroll or a bit of that ephemeral San Francisco "sun"-bathing, when Trikeasaurus comes rolling along you just have to boogie on down the road, bust a move, get your groove thing on, let your freak flag fly, and insert ecstatic cliché here. We can pretend all we want in the privacy of our own hip sancta sanctorum that Destiny’s Child or OutKast will never move us, but somehow when Trikeasaurus comes bumping by, we just can’t help but bump right back. Don’t fight the feeling! Join the 500-watt, 150-decibel velolution today.



If you’ve done ketamine, you know what it’s like to get lost in the cosmic K-hole. To those who have entered the mystical D-hole, however, your ketamine story is child’s play. The Donuts dance party, thrown at various times and locations throughout the year by DJ Pickpocket and visual artist AC, provides adventurous club-goers with that most delicious of drugs: donuts, given away free. First timers, be careful: these potent little sugar bombs are highly addictive and can often lead to an all-night binge of ecstatic power-boogie, which can result in terrible withdrawal symptoms. Like many other popular club drugs, donuts are offered in powdered form, though they can also be glazed, which leaves no tell-tale residue around the mouth. But as long as you indulge responsibly, entering the Hole of the Donut is perfectly safe. Amp up your experience to fever-pitch perfection with Donuts’ pulse-pumping Krautrock, new wave, retro disco, and dance punk live acts and beats.



If there’s one thing all Slovenians have in common, it’s that they know how to deck a muthafunkin’ hall, y’all. It stands to reason then that Slovenians run one of the biggest and best halls in town. The Slovenian Hall in Potrero Hill is available for all your partying needs — birthdays, anniversary bashes, coming-out fests, etc. The rooms inside the hall are spacious and clean, the kitchen and bar spaces are outfitted to serve an entire army, and there are plenty of tables and chairs. But it’s the decor that makes this place unique: Soviet-era and vintage tourism advertisements are sprinkled throughout the place and banners promoting Slovenian pride hang from the ceiling. The hall also hosts live music events — recently an Argentine tango troupe took up residence there, making things border-fuzzingly interesting, to say the least.

2101 Mariposa, SF. (415) 864-9629


Odds are you’ve not yet heard of East Bay teen hip-hop talent Yung Nittlz — but one day soon you will. The ambitious, gifted Berkeley High student has already amassed five albums worth of smooth and funky material that he wrote, produced, and rapped and sang on. In August 2007, when he was just 13, the rapper born Nyles Roberson scored media attention when Showtime at the Apollo auditions came to town and he was spotted very first in line, having camped out the night before. And while Yung Nittlz wasn’t among the lucky final few to be picked, he did make a lasting impression on the judges with his strong performance of the song "Money in the Air" and choreography that included him strategically tossing custom-made promo dollars that he designed and made. The gifted artist also designed the professional-looking cover for his latest demo CD, which suggests fans should request the hit-sounding "Feelin’ U" on KMEL 106 FM. Stay tuned. You’ll likely be hearing it soon.



The crappy economy has ruined many things. It’s the reason both the Parkway and the Cerrito Speakeasy theaters — where you could openly drink a beer you’d actually purchased at the concession stand, not smuggled in under your sweatshirt — closed their doors this year. But even a bummer cash crunch can’t dampen a true cult movie fan’s love of all things B. Deprived of a permanent venue for his long-running "Thrillville," programmer and host Will "The Thrill" Viharo adjusted his fez, brushed off his velvet lapels, and started booking his popular film ‘n’ cabaret extravaganzas at other Bay Area movie houses, including the 4-Star and the Balboa in San Francisco, and San Jose’s Camera 3. Fear not, devotees of film noir, tiki culture, the swingin’ ’60s, big-haired babes, Aztec mummies, William Shatner, the Rat Pack, Elvis, creature features, Japanese monsters, and zombies — the Thrill ain’t never gonna be gone.



Much like travel agents, beepers, and modesty, pinball machines are slowly becoming relics of the past. But it’s difficult to understand why these quarter-fed games would fall by the wayside, since they’re especially fun in a bar atmosphere. What else is there to do besides stare at your drink, hopelessly chat up the bartender, constantly check your phone, and try to catch that one cute patron’s eye. At the Castro’s Moby Dick, pinball saves you from such doldrums. Sure, the place has the requisite video screens blaring Snap! and Cathy Dennis chestnuts, and plenty of hunky drunkies to serve as distractions. But its quarter-action collection — unfortunately whittled down to three machines, ever since Theater of Magic was retired due to the difficulty of finding replacement parts — is a delightful retro rarity in this gay day and age. So tilt not, World Cup Soccer, Addams Family, and Attack from Mars fans. There’s still a queer home for your lightning-quick flipping.

4049 18th St., SF. www.mobydicksf.com


Founded in 2002, the many-membered Brass Liberation Orchestra has been blowing their horns for social justice all over the Bay Area — from the San Francisco May Day March and Oakland rallies for Oscar Grant, to protests against city budget cuts and jam sessions at the 16th Street BART station. Trombones out and bass drums at the ready, this tight-knit organization of funky folk recently returned from New Orleans, where they played to support community rebuilding projects in the Lower Ninth Ward. With a membership as diverse as they come, the BLO toots their horns specifically to "support political causes with particular emphasis on peace, and racial and social justice" — especially concerning immigrants’ rights and anti-gentrification issues. But the most joyful part of their practice is the spontaneous street parties they engender wherever they pop up, and their seemingly impromptu romps through neighborhoods and street festivals. Viva la tuba-lution!



Is your idea of hell being trapped in a room with a white, collegiate, spoken-word "artist" — or worse yet, being forced to wear an Ed Hardy t-shirt? Are you a veteran of the 30 Stockton and the 38 Geary, with the wounds and the stories to prove it? Can you just not help but stare at someone who somehow can’t resist an act of street corner masturbation? Then you’re ready to lend an ear to Ali Wong, the funniest comedian to stomp onto a San Francisco stage in a long time. Some people get offended by Wong, which is one reason she’s funny — comedy isn’t about making friends, and she’s not sentimental. She draws on her family history and writing and performing experience in implicit rather than overt ways while remaining as blunt as your funniest friend on a bender.



Take a picture, it’ll last longer. Especially if you take it to — or even at — RayKo Photo Center, a large SoMA space that boasts a studio, a shop stocked with new and used cameras, a variety of black-and-white and color darkrooms, a digital imaging lab (with discount last-Friday-of-the-month nighttime hours), and classes where one can learn the latest digital skills as well as older and arcane processes such as Ambrotype (glass plate) and Tintype (metal plate) image-making. Devoted in part to local photographers, RayKo’s gallery has showcased Bill Daniel’s panoramic yet raw shots of a post-Katrina Louisiana and has likely influenced a new generation of shutterbugs affiliated with groups and sites like Cutter Photozine and Photo Epicenter. One of its coolest and truly one-of-a-kind features is the Art*O*Mat Vending Machine, an old ciggie vendor converted into a $5-a-piece art dispenser. And of course RayKo has an old photo booth, so you can take some quick candid snapshots with or without a honey.

428 Third St., SF. (415) 495-3773, www.raykophoto.com


The great myth about cab drivers is that they’re a bunch of underappreciated geniuses who write poetry and paint masterpieces when they’re not busy shuttling drunks around. Most cabbies, however, aren’t Picassos with pine-scent air fresheners. They clock in and out just like we all do, and then they go home and watch reality TV. There are, however, a few exceptions to the rule: true artists who have deliberately chosen the cabbie lifestyle because it allows them the freedom to pursue their passions on the side. MC Mars is such a cabbie. A 20-year veteran on the taxi scene, Mars is also a hip-hop performer, a published author, and an HIV activist. You can check his flow every Wednesday night at the Royale’s open-mic sessions. Or, if you’re lucky enough to hail his DeSoto, you can get a free backseat show on weekends. And don’t forget to pick up his latest CD, "Letz Cabalaborate," available on Mars’ Web site.



The Bay Area knows poetry. And people in the Bay Area who know poetry today realize that the San Francisco Renaissance, the Beats, the Language poets, and even the New Brutalists might inspire contemporary writers, but they don’t own them. You can encounter proof in places like Books and Bookshelves, and read it in publications like Try. As the Bay Area Poetics anthology edited by Stephanie Young made clear in 2006, Bay Area verse is enormous and ever-changing. One year earlier, David Larsen established a space for it in Oakland with his New Yipes Reading Series, which frequently paired poets with filmmakers. He’s since moved to the East Coast, but Ali Warren and Brandon Brown re-energized the concept, simplifying its name to The New Reading Series and refining its content to readings with musical interludes. It’s the best place around to hear Tan Lin and Ariana Reines and confront notions of the self through Heath Ledger. It’s also hosted a kissing booth, for all you wordsmiths who aren’t above romantic trappings.

416 25th St., Oakl. www.newyipes.blogspot.com


For 15 years, the much-loved and lovable warm weather Sunset parties have shaken various hills, isles, parks, patios, and boats with funky, techy house sounds. Launched by underground hero DJ Galen in 1994, the outdoor Sunset gigs have amassed a huge following of excited party newbies and familiar old-school ravers — and now even their kids. Early on in the game, Galen was soon joined by fellow Bay favorite DJs Solar and J-Bird, and the three — collectively known as Pacific Sound — have kept the vibe strong ever since. This year saw a remarkable expansion on the Sunset fan base: attendance at the season opener at Stafford Lake reached almost 4,000, and Pacific Sound just launched an annual — and truly moving — party on Treasure Island that had multiple generations putting their hands in the air. The recent Sunset Campout in Belden drew hundreds for an all-weekend romp with some of the biggest names in electronic music — true fresh air freshness.


According to murky local legend, sometime in the early ’90s a Finnish archaeologist named Mr. Floppy passed through Oakland on a quest to find an inverted pyramid rumored to hold the secret to eternal life. He didn’t find anything like that, of course, but he did discover a really cool apartment complex run by an obsessive builder named George Rowan. The sprawling place, which housed multiple dwelling units as well as an outdoor dance area and an out-of-use bordello and saloon famously frequented by Jack London in the 1800s, was an interconnected maze of rooms decorated with found objects and outsider art. It was a perfect spot to throw underground raves, which is exactly what Floppy and Rowan did until the day they got slapped with a fire-hazard citation. Nobody really knows what happened to the psychedelic archaeologist after that, although his spirit lives on: Mr. Floppy’s Flophouse has recently re-opened as a venue for noise shows, freaky circuses, and all-night moonlit orgies.
1247 E. 12th St., Oakl



Live Review: Wolves in the Throne Room howl at Slim’s


By Tony Papanikolas


The world of rock music is full of “wolf bands”, but few live up to their feral moniker. Steppenwolf’s John Kay, for example, claims that he was born to be wild –a promising start– but writes lyrics about magic carpets. Not very wolf-like. Likewise, Wolf Parade betrays a dangerous ignorance of its namesake (wolves are easily spooked; incorporating them into a parade would be disastrous.) And then there’s Wolves in the Throne Room, the enigmatic Olympia, WA outfit responsible for some of the most cosmic black metal ever produced outside of Scandinavia.

If the crowd at Slim’s was any indication, Wolves’ fan base has extended beyond the immediate metal set. Metal fans made up a good percentage of the audience but there was also a sizeable punk contingent, as well as the requisite handful of hipster-types (also, a headbanging dude in an incongruous business suite, my personal favorite.) The crowd was still relatively thin when opening act Ninth Moon Black began playing, but receptive nonetheless. I’m a sucker for visual aids at shows, and the psychedelic black and white swirls projected behind Ninth Moon Black provided a neat visual counterpoint to the group’s ambient instrumentals.

Citric acid rock



MISSION CREEK There he was, all cherubic, eating a "beej" — the nickname I’ve affectionately given the burgers at BJ, a.k.a. Burger Joint. Moments before show time, I spotted Ty Segall in the greasy eatery’s Mission District location. He was about to take to the stage at Amnesia, on the eve of an ambitious second solo tour that ventures through the East Coast and the South, even invading Canadian territory for a night in Toronto.

After my own greasy foray into a Popeye’s a few blocks away, I was ready to see the wunderkind, who is freshly graduated from the University of San Francisco. Once upon a time, Segall was a one man band, but he’s expanded his outfit to a three-piece. Clearly the night’s headliner at Amnesia, he packed the joint. After sets by openers Snakeflower 2 and the Rantouls, he mostly played familiar songs from his 2008 self-titled release on CastleFace Records. However, he also delivered a few examples of his self-described "sludgier" work on the brand new Lemons (Goner Records).

Sludge or no sludge, Segall’s solid work ethic is evident. He’s constantly playing gigs at bars like the Knockout, the Hemlock, and the Eagle Tavern — basically anywhere flannel is the prevailing fashion, alongside those straw fedora hats favored by the fixed-gear crowd. Despite his omnipresence on SF’s dive bar scene, he’s pretty modest about his dedication to his music. "There are a lot of ways that I am a slacker," he explains over the phone a month after the fateful Amnesia show as he and his band drive to New Orleans. "But if I’m not doing music, I feel like I’m wasting my time."

Segall’s music is part of a current collective lo-fi/neo-psych/garage rock movement. (I hate to label, but if you’re gonna do it, you might as well go all-or-nothing). At times it’s hard to decipher which bands from this rubric are legit and which are simply riding the wave of a trend. Segall’s contemporaries include his current tour mates Charlie and the Moonhearts, Strange Boys, Gris Gris, Thee Oh Sees, and Memphis’ Magic Kids. Some of these groups lean more toward pop, while others favor punk. But they all seem to draw on the past (particularly sun-dazed stretches of the 1960s) for inspiration and direction.

One highlight of Lemons is the wisely-handpicked Captain Beefheart cover "Dropout Boogie," a countercultural should-have-been anthem from the group’s 1967 release, Safe As Milk (Buddah). Recorded in a mere 20 minutes, Segall’s version of the freakout favorite — and especially its pounding bass line — has a rallying call effect, taking its cue from Timothy Leary’s infamous phrase, "Turn on, tune in, drop out." When I ask Segall why he chose to cover this particular song, especially since he just earned a degree in media studies, his answer is simple: "Beefheart rules." He can’t give the psych-blues band enough praise, citing them along with the Pretty Things and Piper at the Gates of Dawn-era Pink Floyd as major influences on his current reverb-rich sound.

Compared to Segall’s debut album, Lemons has a looser, more experimental sound. Less reliant on melody and catchy hooks, it delves deeper into psych and garage, slowing down Segall’s riff-happy original style. The distortion is still there, but you can tell how different effects and levels were employed on a track-to-track basis. One new song, "Like You," is brilliantly melancholy in tone and lumbering in pace. Basically, it’s a beautiful downer. The varying volume levels can probably be attributed to the use of vintage reel-to-reel equipment and Tascam quarter-inch tapes. "It gives it that blown-out sound," Segall explains. "But in a clean way."

As if to incite hip-hop beef, Spin‘s enthusiastic review of Lemons warns Jay Reatard to look out, calling Segall’s garage rock "scuzzier." Just for kicks, I jump on the beef-wagon and ask Segall who would win if he and Reatard had a fist fight. "I’m a total wuss. I’d probably just sit there and let him punch me," he says, adding, "I actually met him at a party. He was pretty cool." So much for placing your bets. It appears Segall’s a peaceful soul, and that a single encounter at a keg quelled any potential garage rocker-on-garage rocker crime.


with Thee Oh Sees, Meth Teeth, Buzzer, Fresh and Onlys

Thurs/16, 9 p.m., $7

The Eagle Tavern

398 12th St., SF



Squeeze me



SUPEREGO Obama’s been in office for a whole 200,000 blog centuries, but times are still so tight I have to make my own mascara out of Marlboro butts and melted-down pantyhose. Why won’t he magically fix everything immediately! Flasks are making a flashy comeback on the club scene, spontaneous street parties are all the rage, and 2 p.m. at Dolores Park is the latest rave time for the hip, half-naked underemployed. (The free San Francisco Symphony performance then and there on Sun/19 will be an awesome culture clash.) It’s a freakonomical conundrum that just as delicious-sounding specialty cocktails are taking off and a new crop of fascinating DJs are touring, no one really has the ducats to taste or hear them.

But the worst thing you can do is stay home. Fortunately, some of the best parties in the city are free — and many more, don’t forget, are gratis if you arrive early enough (bring a crossword or something) or pimp inventive drink specials to help you fight the squeeze. Look Out Weekend (Fridays, 4–9 p.m., free. Vessel, 85 Campton Place, SF. www.lowsf.com) is a bumpin’ electroish happy hour that boasts two-for-one well drinks and an überstylish crowd. The weekly hip-hop-laced glass of adventure that is Red Wine Social (Wednesdays, 8 p.m., free. Dalva, 3121 16th St., SF. www.myspace.com/dalva_cocktails) has been getting scruffsters loopy for the better part of a decade, while hip-hop upstart West Addy (Wednesday, UndergroundSF, 424 Haight, SF. www.myspace.com/westaddy) gooses the neon youth. The eclectic Drunken Monkey (Tuesdays, 9 p.m., free. Annie’s Social Club, 917 Folsom, SF. www.anniessocialclub.com) brings together goth and hip-hop — goth hop? Gnip gnop? — while the occasional, usually free Alcoholocaust parties (various dates, Argus Lounge, 3187 Mission, SF. www.arguslounge.com) get your rock rocks off.

The gays love it the free: Honey Sundays (Sundays, 9 p.m., free. Paradise Lounge, 1501 Folsom, SF. www.honeysoundsystem.com) brings the best underground queer sounds in town to a lovely cross-section of post-weekend freaks — and is celebrating its second anniversary Sun/19 — while Charlie Horse (Fridays, 9 p.m., free. The Cinch, 1723 Polk, SF. www.myspace.com/charliehorsecinch) is an actual delicious freakshow, with Anna Conda and her merry band of blackouts dishing out punk rock drag for a packed house. Tiara Sensation (Mondays, 9 p.m., free. The Stud, 399 Ninth St., SF. www.myspace.com/tiarasensation) is a mad mix of outré drag themes — Bea Arthur never died here — and DIY outfits, many of them constructed onscene. Freesational!


Breakbeat revival in full effect? Maybe, but how about "world ‘n bass." French-Algerian phenom Watcha-Clan puts a refreshing, live global spin on the fractured obsession of yesteryear, in keeping with our borderless times. The Afrolicious boys crack it all open.

Wed/15, 8 p.m., $10. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF. www.rickshawstop.com


My fave ‘Loin-hearted electro band, the Tenderlions, will be rocking it with super-naff Ferrari Party kids Jason D. and Primo and glam-slam DJs Sarah Delush, Mario Muse, Pony P. and other razor-sharp untouchables.

Fri/17, 10 p.m.– 3 a.m., $5. 103 Harriet, SF. www.1015.com


Could I go at least a week without writing about Detroit? Sheesh, y’all go back home! But not before Smack, a D-lovely affair, that pairs scene queen Juanita More with the Motor City’s Sass and Family crews, with quite-right techno-reppin’ DJ Chuck Hampton, aka Gay Marvine, on the decks.

Fri/17, 10 p.m., $5. UndergroundSF, 424 Haight, SF.


More North African dancefloor diaspora, as the man from Oran-El-Bahia rips out some seriously silky smooth house and, well, dubfunk at Temple. Although he became well-known for his sets in South Beach, Miami, Pheeko’s no mere sparkly sunglass-wearing slickster, keeping the tunes deep and intelligently constructed.

Sat/18, 10 p.m., $5 before 11 p.m., $20 after. Temple, 540 Howard, SF. www.templesf.com

The Bush era




By Marke B.

Kate Bush was gifted with a fierce female originality at a time when the rock world was starved of it: her golden run of eccentric achievement in the late 1970s and early 1980s placed her next to Joni Mitchell in terms of adventurous — if not always intellectual — influence in the minds of aspiring young women singer-songwriters. (And there’s some extremely perverse pleasure to be taken in the little factoid that her stunning 1985 EMI comeback album Hounds of Love snatched the top U.K. album slot from Madonna’s Like A Virgin.)

But that gift was also a curse: Bush was so original in so many ways that it’s easy to forget the myriad musical pathways she forged. This “artist in a female body” — as she famously protested when her panicked record company started pimping her rack on sleeves to shift units — has mostly been boiled down to spiritual oracle, swooping-voiced Sybil, and, ever since concept albums by women were banished to exile in Guyville, keeper of the idiosyncratic prog-rock flame. In other words, Stevie Nicks with a Fairlight synthesizer and a degree in Celtic mythology. Or else just plain weird.

Fortunately, musical weirdness is so much with us today that other Bush qualities are starting to be glimpsed through the babushka, including her production abilities, precocity, sincerity, humor, and unabashed gender-fucking. For the past three decades, it’s never been rare for artists to be compared to Bush — mostly for childlike vocalizations or way with a silver space suit and Circe metaphor. But in our post-neo-neo-soul moment (sorry Wino), a new crop of female British singers has arisen that takes its cues, mostly acknowledged, from Bush’s kaleidoscopic talent.


Without Kate Bush, flouncy freak-folker Florence Welch and her ever-changing backup band could be heard as a product of the unholy union of Devendra Banhart and Tori Amos — except those two probably wouldn’t exist without Bush either. Florence grounds her lyrics in the sexually frantic Bush. “I must be the lion-hearted girl,” she sings in the vid for “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” just before her wedding banquet table folds up into her coffin.



Marina and the Diamonds, a.k.a. the singular singer Marina Diamandis has been gaining huge traction with her excellent “I Am Not A Robot” track, calling up the more vulnerably affirmative, “Don’t Give Up” Bush. But it’s her screwy, cuckooing “Mowgli’s Road” that effectively conjures up woozy Kate at a post-rave bonfire.



Half-Pakistani lovely Natasha Khan works the gleaming edge of Bush’s dark underworld glamour, and grounds her post-goth balladry and soft electro sparks in the sensual world. Her single “Daniel” de-Eltons the title character and places him among Bush’s slightly menacing, jig-footed cosmic effigies.



Mika Levi calls herself Micachu and spits out shiv-sharp blasts of dissonant micro-punk — seemingly the opposite of Bush’s epic dramas. But Levi echoes Bush both in the sheer Englishness of her lyrics, the knockout oddity of her instrumentation and starry-eyed gender-bending. Micachu’s rambunctious, exhilarating new album Jewelry (Rough Trade) could easily have been shaken out of Bush’s backing track outtake archives.



With tune-yards, Tempo No Tempo

July 22, 8 pm., $10

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

(415) 861-2011

www.rickshawstop.com ————


By Irwin Swirnoff

It’s always exciting when you sense universal consciousness in motion. Like so many around me lately, I can’t stop listening to Kate Bush. I play Hounds Of Love (EMI, 1985) from start to finish again and again, allowing a different song from the album to become my theme or guiding light for weeks at a time. I play The Dreaming (EMI, 1982) and let it spin in and out of my head. These songs are as dramatic as they are sincere. They conjure magic while maintaining an emotional core. Bush’s undeniable integrity travels through her songs like a force of nature, from soft-lit soap opera to primal realms.

Many great records by other artists in the last few years have been stamped with undeniable Kate Bush moments. A new generation of musicians is learning that avant and pop sensibilities can coexist in exciting ways and that it is possible to blend the organic and the mechanical to create songs that soar with a mission. Here are some of today’s cloudbusters.


“House Jams” (from Saint Dymphna)

(from Saint Dymphna, Social Registry, 2008)

On its latest album, Gang Gang Dance not only embraces its love of the dance floor — it invites the spirit of Kate Bush to a psychedelic midnight rave.


“Skin Of The Night”

(from Saturdays =Youth, Mute, 2008)

No strangers to teenage mellow drama and melodrama, M83 makes music with a cinematic quality, much in the same way that Kate Bush’s records sound like movies unto themselves.



(from Laulu Laakson Kukista, Fonal, 2008)

This Finnish group roams through a landscape that varies from dusty fairytale to psychedelic future. This track is by far the most dancepop — and Bush-like — moment on a record that also channels Kurt Weill, Edith Piaf, and Robert Wyatt.



(Drag City, 2006)

Many eccentric female artists are compared to either Kate Bush or Björk by lazy critics, but few actually reach that kind of ecstatic individuality. Joanna Newsom is one. Her complete belief in her vision is apparent in these commanding, flawlessly executed songs.



(from Dance Mother, IAMSOUND)

Much like their New York City neighbors Gang Gang Dance, Telepathe calls Bush to mind when it branches out from its experimental roots into a slow burning state that’s ready for the dancefloor.


“Running Up That Hill”

(from Night Drive, Italians Do it Better, 2007))

It takes major guts to cover this Bush composition, a contender for one of the most poignant songs of the last quarter century. The air of magic and mystery here is very Kate.


Fever Ray


The debut solo record from Karin Dreijer Andersson of the Knife is more internal and intense than the dance floor stylings of her well-known group. Andersson plays with different voices and personas while creating sounds that are creepy and comforting. The result feels like a perfect contemporary response to Bush’s explorations of 20 years ago.

Live Shots: Fast Love at Sub-Mission, 7/10/09


Text and photos by Ariel Soto



Fast Love, a punk/pop trio, may be new to the San Francisco music scene but they’re destined to be fast favorites. When they’re on stage they’re into every note, not only for the sake of the music but also because they’re having so much fun. This being my first time seeing them, I decided to chat with their drummer Kimberly and lead vocalist Melinda to learn more about the true punk band experience.



SFBG: What’s the best part of being in a punk band?
Kimberly and Melinda: The free beer!


SFBG: Who are your punk idols?
K: Dee Dee Ramone.
M: Fuzzy rocks the hot hairstyle.



SFBG: What are your goals as a band?
M: To party and have a good time.
K: It’s all about the good times and beer!

Out of the blue



ESSAY This is the briar patch, the place from which all funky thangs flow. On the anniversary of the death of my Afro-Algonquin Southern (re)belle mother, my bare feet are planted in the dirt. Since it’s also the last days of Black Music Month, I am out of my head, thoughts swirling across the amber waves pondering the intersections of family, flesh, and funk, questing after new sounds and cultural concepts even as I journey into my sonic past. The last time it seems I was so enmeshed and empowered by cultural renaissance was just over 21 years ago, when Neil Young first heralded his now released Archives project, and I embraced the notion that Neil Young’s work is black music.

My late mother was a restless adventurer born in Virginia — and I perceive Neil Young as the same via osmosis from his maternal grandfather, Bill Ragland, a Virginian émigré to the Great North and scion of the Southern planter class from Petersburg. The Neil Young I love most is the direct heir of aspects of Daddy Ragland’s personal lore: he had the first radio and gramophone in Winnipeg, Canada; he fiercely retained his American citizenship while big pimpin’ in Manitoba (foreshadowing his grandson’s famous Canadian retentions despite residing in California).

Daddy Ragland boasted that his grandfather had freed the enslaved Africans on the family plantation. But he was also descended from the original British invaders who established Virginia Colony, destroying my people’s lifeways and ecology in process, setting precedents for America’s current crises around violence, resources, and the environment. The glories and tensions in Young’s family fables would appear to be the benefactor of much of his catalog’s leading lights: "Southern Man," "Cortez the Killer," "After the Gold Rush," "Country Girl," "Pocahontas," "Here We Are In the Years," "Alabama," "Broken Arrow," "Powderfinger," and "Down By the River."

Young’s internal narrative of ur-Americana (literally carried on the blood) is enacted again and again and refashioned throughout Reprise’s 10-disc Neil Young Archives — Vol. 1 (1963-1972), a collection that traces his odyssey from Ventures acolyte and early earnest folkie to embryonic trickster of eco-metal. The epic nature of Young’s work, akin to a late modern, machine age substitute for Greek myth — at least for the hippie, Coastopian jet-set — was once lost on me. The voice beaming over the radio waves in "Helpless" and "Sugar Mountain" was repellent to these ears, raised in the 1970s when Mother Nature was on the run and the last universally-recognized golden era of black music abounded with diverse male songbirds (Ronnie Dyson, Carl Anderson) and badass lovemen (Teddy Pendergrass, Eddie Levert). But one day, after yet another wearisome visit to a coffeehouse festooned with Harry Chapin songs and some showoff girl’s fey rendition of "Helpless," I encountered three Neil Young masterpieces that forever altered my hearing: "Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing," "Broken Arrow," and "Cinnamon Girl." I became a Buffalo Springfield devotee for life.

What also went down? Somehow, pre-Web and locked away in the wilds with limited resources, I discovered my favorite bit of rock trivia: Neil Young was in a band with Rick James signed to Motown for a seven-year deal, the Mynah Birds. Young’s engagements with psych, punk, and grunge are well-documented — even if most shirk the challenge of unpacking his electro output — but the lurking presence of the funk in his aesthetic is often ignored. Now, I ain’t saying ole Neil could come down to my former hood and swing with a Chocolate City go-go outfit (maybe he could trouble the funk?), but on "Go Ahead and Cry," the ringing of his unleashed 1970s guitar sound is already evident. The sublime meeting of Young’s thang with "The Sound of Young America" makes one lament how differently (black) rock history might have looked had the Mynah Birds triumphed at Hitsville.

My view is that Young couldn’t have written some of his best songs, like "Cinnamon Girl" and "Mr. Soul," plus freakery I dig such as "Sea of Madness," without that brief spell at Motown. (It’s interesting to imagine former auto-line worker Berry Gordy and car enthusiast Young rapping by chance). In a weird way, the shades of Young that appeared on the pop stage and relentlessly morphed between "Clancy" and "When You Dance I Can Really Love" seem to coexist with turn-of-the-’70s Motown mavericks who also flirted with polemics, space rock, and soul yodeling: Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Eddie Kendricks.

The Mynah Birds are sadly absent from volume one of Archives, despite a fleeting citation in its chronological timeline. But a few months before the box set dropped I acquired my grail of Mynah Birds tracks, and the picture of Young as a potential R&B artist who brought some of the Motown sensibility to bear upon the aesthetics of his next band, the Buffalo Springfield, emerged tantalizingly. Alongside it was the turbulent back story of the striving front man Ricky James Matthews (a Mick Jagger acolyte who later renamed himself), who failed to gain support for his hybrid vision of black rock even as his old bandmate soared from the ashes of Woodstock Nation.

Aside from the future Super Freak, Young’s key ace boons on the funk express were Bruce Palmer (1946-2004) and Danny Whitten (1943-72) — besides Stephen Stills, the stars of this first set. Palmer, a native of Toronto who shared a deep spiritual bond with Young, had been in an all-black Canadian band led by Billy Clarkson even prior to his membership in the Mynah Birds. He subsequently brought his low-end theories to the Springfield; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (before being replaced by young Motown bassist Greg Reeves); and Young’s thwarted revolutionary electronic project Trans (Geffen, 1982). Palmer also reunited with Rick James after the Springfield’s implosion, producing the beautiful psych-jazz classic The Cycle Is Complete (Verve, 1971), a rival to Skip Spence’s Oar (Columbia, 1969).

Columbus, Ga.,-bred Whitten might still be Young’s most fabled collaborator. His premature death by heroin overdose inspired "The Needle and the Damage Done" (included amongst other Harvest tracks on disc eight of Vol. 1) and the dark and stark standout of the "Ditch Trilogy," Tonight’s the Night (Reprise, 1975), which will feature in the next Archives installment. Even before starting the Laurel Canyon-based Rockets (which became Crazy Horse), Whitten had been a live R&B dancer and seems to have restored some genuine Southern rock ‘n’ soul flava to the mix of his boy twice-removed from Dixie. Every time I hear the vainglorious funk bomb that is "Cinnamon Girl," I recognize that element is there and regret Whitten’s passing even more.

I first and foremost swear fealty to Buffalo Springfield. But for all his seemingly mercurial guises, the plaid-and-denim-clad Young who conjured Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (Reprise, 1969) and the songs from the Ditch in company with Crazy Horse and other canyon pickers appears to be the most enduring direct influence on later generations. To try to make sense of Young’s legend, I consulted an amen corner: Harry Weinger, VP of A&R at Universal Motown; famed Harvest producer Elliot Mazer; and young J. Tillman.

I also saw my Alabama-bred friend Patterson Hood at the Bowery Ballroom, bringing an element of Stills and Young’s guitar duels and Young’s volume to the stage, backed by the Screwtopians. Brother Hood’s chief band, Drive-By Truckers, came to most folks’ attention with 2001’s Sept. 12 Soul Dump release Southern Rock Opera, a sprawling masterwork in two acts that dealt with — among other Southern myths — the complex relationship between Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd icon Ronnie Van Zant (see "Ronnie and Neil"). When we discussed the Archives before the gig, Patterson professed to be waiting on tenterhooks for the next volume, due to the Ditch releases: TTN, Time Fades Away (Reprise, 1973), and my favorite, On the Beach (Reprise, 1974).

Tillman — Pacific Northwest-dwelling solo artist and multi-instrumentalist member of Fleet Foxes — was illuminating on the subject of Young as artistic forebear. This year, the Foxes were summoned by Young to tour with him and perform at his annual Bridge School benefit, even as Tillman promoted Vacilando Territory Blues (Bella Union) and began to develop his next solo recording Year In the Kingdom. Kindly, he paused amid all this flurry to speak on Young’s influence when we crossed paths earlier this year:

"Neil is a figure to follow and not follow. Following him is kind of antithetical to the spirit of his music, but it’s hard to resist the mythology …

"Neil’s understanding of the technical side of the recording process, and his obsession with gear and tone, stands in total contrast to his completely intuitive approach to making records." he continued. "Each of his records has an environment that is as big a part of the record as the songs. Recording in a barn, an SIR storage space, doing honey-slides with Rusty Kershaw — he always positions himself for moments of magic."

Despite Young’s great capacity for harnessing magic, what Archives demonstrates beyond the master’s curatorial intent is the vast gulf between the violent-but-halcyon time that begat his earliest works and now, when ever more plastic reigns in our common culture. When I cited surprise at a sudden small surge in younger folk and country-rockin’ artists who profess overt adoration of and respect for Buffalo Springfield and Stills’ Manassas, Tillman voiced skepticism:

"Our generation has been told that we can buy authenticity. Advertising is so enmeshed in our thought life we’ve developed Stockholm syndrome. People buy the idea of the ’60s and ’70s like a product, like it’s something you can own by buying things, or conversely, by becoming a product fashioned in the style of the ’70s. There are plenty of people dying to make a buck off that. It’s sad how commodified music has become, how people just do it to be it, instead of doing it because they are it. Neil refused to be bought or sold or owned in his own time, like any of the greats."

As for Young followers on the blackhand side, they may not be legion but today — more than four decades after he was meant to produce Love’s masterpiece Forever Changes (Elektra, 1967) and long after his road dawgin’ with former Malibu neighbor Booker T. Jones — there are more than you might think. Richie Havens still cut what might rate as the best-ever Young cover: his desperate, electric, heavy metal "The Loner" on Mixed Bag II (Stormy Forest, 1974). The other week I attended a taping of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and after the show, when Roots’ guitarist Kirk Douglas spotted the behemoth Archives box I was toting, he ripped a few blazing riffs from "Cinnamon Girl."

Outlaws don’t always go out in a blaze of glory. Some, like Young, abide, too ornery for entropy to overtake them. I expect him to continue restlessly exploring where he and Sudanese bluenote sound intersect in the eye of the volt. As for the native rights supporter who came off like the inscrutable brave in Buffalo Springfield’s dynamic cowboy movie — but who totes a cigar store Indian onstage? The rebel in me that thrills to Young’s peculiarly suhthuhn quixotic qualities and access to American African’s obsession with freedom wants him to account for these lyrics about my ancestral sovereign Wahunsunacock’s martyred daughter, Matoaka:

I wish I was a trapper

I would give a thousand pelts

To sleep with Pocahontas

And find out how she felt

In the mornin’ on the fields of green

In the homeland we’ve never seen.

Hey now hey … my my my. Aren’t we both, the contested bodies, still looking for America?

Daydream city



In the Bay Area’s labyrinth of low-lit warehouses, cramped house parties, and grimed-out dive bars, it’s a cacophonous tug-of-war for the three-chord crown.

This latter-day resurrection of traits from the late 1960s — the Sears Roebuck guitars; the off-key, offbeat attack; the onstage fearlessness — has brought many unpretentious all-for-one-and-one-for-all shows to the scene. Poised to snag a bit of the shiny rock ‘n’ roll royal headdress is Oakland’s Snakeflower 2, a trio whose blistering, bare-bones repertoire seems to spring newly alive from a dusty, attic-dwelling bin of decades-old abandoned vinyl.

Vocalist and bassist Matthew Melton’s lo-fi roots stretch — like the world’s longest amp cord — all the way back to his hometown in Memphis. There, he grew up playing in garage bands and jamming with prolific punk hero Jay Reatard.

Discontented with the Memphis scene’s lack of fire, Melton eventually put together a ramshackle, road-ready outfit that became Snakeflower’s first incarnation. The group played what Melton, a lover of subgenres, describes as "art punk non-songs." Moving his musical dreams and new band to California instigated a gift-and-curse scenario. "We decided almost overnight to go on tour," he says. "It was really ill-conceived. We did a full U.S. tour literally calling venues from the road, jumping on these bills and having pretty crazy shows along the way."

Snakeflower mark one had wilted by the time the group made it to San Francisco, and Melton’s bandmates stranded him in the city and left for Los Angeles. Nonetheless, he decided to stick things out and reform the band with two new members, drummer Billy Badlands and guitarist Tim Tinderholt.

"Where I grew up in Memphis, you can be guaranteed that no one’s gonna pay any attention to you," Melton says. "Here, there’s much more energy in the scene. Plus, being surrounded by so many great bands is a motivation to keep making great music."

It’s easy to hear what the California scene has done for Snakeflower 2’s live shows and recordings — the group’s aggression is undeniable. The late 2008 release Renegade Daydream (Tic Tac Totally) is steeped in the dire urgency of a fragile heart under pressure. It grooves hard, thanks to dagger-sharp hooks and vicious chord progressions, all registering at shit-hot speed to keep up with Melton’s nervy vocal swagger. "Memory Castle," the album’s single, pairs psychedelic tunnel-vision reverb with a rumination on lost dreams and the courage it takes to get them back.

Melton’s already looking in a new direction for the group’s next album. When his other brainchild, the smooth-punk outfit Bare Wires, gained popularity, Snakeflower 2’s gigs took a hiatus. But during that time, he devoted himself to writing fresh, epic material.

"I’ve actually been working in secret to write and record a 14-minute long cantata called ‘Forbidden Melody,’" he explains. "I had to set time aside to isolate myself [and] work with really pure ideas. [The new music] is something totally different, almost like a rock opera. I’m trying to go a little bit further, really trying to come up with something new."

While much of the local garage scene sticks to the ordinary and familiar. leave it to Melton and his mates to shoot the moon and score an album in the process.


With the Vows, In the Dust

July 13, 9 p.m., $5 (day of show only)

Elbo Room

642 Valencia, SF

(415) 552-7788


Zine it like you mean it



INTERVIEW Nestled in the corner of the old New College building, true seekers will find Goteblüd. Matt Wobensmith’s zine emporium keeps the building’s dedication to countercultural self-publishing alive. As characterful as it is small, Goteblüd places shelves of photocopied DIY writings amid a brown shag paneling motif that wittily references the cat-scratch antics found within Ed Luce’s comic Wuvable Oaf, the store’s main link to contemporary publications. Currently the space also hosts "Yes I Am, But Who Am I Really?," a showcase of queer zine and queer punk memorabilia: zines, photos, and letters (including a pissy postcard from Henry Rollins) create a terrific one-of-a-kind wallpaper, while t-shirts for bands hang from the ceiling, as if asking to be filled by new rebellious bodies. After scoping out the show, I recently asked Wobensmith about Goteblüd’s origins, its contents, and its future plans.

SFBG How did Goteblüd come about?

MATT WOBENSMITH I’ve been collecting zines since I was a teen. In the past few years, I’ve heard people say things like "I just threw out four boxes of zines," and I say to myself: That is wrong! Why do people think old zines are worthless? They’re priceless. So I began to take zines off peoples’ hands, and started putting them in storage boxes. After a while, this pastime became more of an obsession as I tried to fill gaps in the collections by actively buying from people. When I found the space, I knew it was time to launch a vintage zine store.

SFBG A book titled Queer Zines (Printed Matter, 180 pages, $25) was recently published. As someone who played a major role in an important period of the queer zine and queer punk movements, what did you think of it?

MW I was active in the queer punk and then homohop music scenes for a while, but that’s kind of history. It’s through this weird zine collecting thing that I find myself faced with my past again.

I saw the Queer Zines book that accompanied the show Printed Matter did in New York City last year. It was inspiring and also satisfying that this era of self-publishing was finally getting more exposure. I don’t know who I’d be without some of those zines!

At the same time, I felt that the queercore phenomenon was different from the larger queer zine genre. It’s focused around music and music culture, had lots of young people, and was connected to a radical subculture loosely based on punk rock. The name of the show is paraphrased from a Team Dresch song: "Yes I Am, But Who Am I Really?" It’s a slight dig at Melissa Etheridge, but ultimately sums up the struggle for identity and purpose and survival.

Also, it’s a scene where women played an enormous role in shaping the dialog and aesthetics. The influence of the riot grrrl movement was not insignificant, either. Some people attribute queer zines to things like Straight to Hell or [William S.] Burroughs, but these zines are far more likely to have been inspired by radical music figures: Black Flag, Throbbing Gristle, the Shaggs, Yoko Ono, female rockers, as well as good old 1980s hardcore. In many ways, queercore was an alternative to an alternative. And it had a soundtrack.

SFBG Looking back at the materials in the current show, what surprises you — what do you see anew now, years later, or wish was more present in current society or social currents?

MW What I really value in old zines is this incredible sense of urgency. There’s some insane, obsessive person trying to reach out and find like-minded people, so they make a zine. It’s a search for kindred souls, and an almost desperate bid for creative and intellectual validation. It can be fun, but is ultimately quite serious. It has a lot of integrity. I love that spirit and dedication.

That same feeling is totally lacking in today’s culture. The Internet has released much of the pent-up need to connect, to find information, to really put effort into communication. Today’s pop culture is also highly self-aware and navel-gazing, and people seem more obsessed with mundane actions of others — via tweets, social networking, whatever — than creating original ideas and taking risks. Old zines have original ideas and risks in spades.

SFBG What kinds of zines will people find in Goteblüd?

MW We try to carry a wide assortment of popular and unknown zines; the more DIY, the better. Though we do have some indie glossies, we carry tons of underground music, pop culture, art, skateboarding, graffiti, lowrider, comic, and experimental zines from the past four decades. We try to focus on older stuff because it’s harder to find and it gets people excited. We are always buying and trading too. I love when people challenge me to find a certain zine for them, and I have it!

SFBG One section of Goteblüd is devoted to Ed Luce’s Wuvable Oaf comics and paraphernalia. What do you like about Wuvable Oaf, and what plans do you have in connection with the comic?

MW Ed’s work, in one word, is fun. It’s also really smart and has no small amount of sharp observations on human behaviors and interactions. It’s a "post-bear" comic, but we hate the b-word. It’s set in a city that looks suspiciously like San Francisco and we all write the stories together. We try to juxtapose big and small, human and animal, and we love to show people in awkward situations. It’s not ironic; it’s loving and earnest.

The comic fits into the store — oddly — as it is an encapsulation of so many different sensibilities. Ed’s constantly referencing his icons of fashion, bad horror movies, and music — particularly Morrissey. I think it’s like a gayer Love and Rockets but that doesn’t begin to do it justice. Our next issue will spotlight our house cartoon band, Ejaculoid, and we’ll be releasing a limited edition record of their music — which is "disco grindcore."

GOTEBLÜD is at 766 Valencia in SF and is open weekends only from noon–5 p.m.

Paging all freaks



QUEER ISSUE As May gave way to June, news arrived that a veteran gang of gay magazines — Honcho, Inches, Mandate, Playguy, and Torso — were printing their last glossy naked pages, no thanks to the unending onslaught of Internet porn and hookup sites. For print fetishists of the queer variety, this would seem like a sign of the gloomy end times. But signs can be wrong. In fact, a teeming variety of small publishers are bringing a mix of sex and sensibility to those underground seekers who revel and rebel outside the eye of the computer monitor. Here’s a brief, far from complete, guide to the action.


In a recent interview on the Guardian‘s Pixel Vision blog, the artist Matt Keegan talks about the subversive social potential of gay calendars and magazines during past eras. You could say Baitline revives this potential. It’s the anti-Craigslist. Hallelujah! Hand-drawn and stapled, this local community resource can help you find your next pervy playmate or like-minded roommate, or assist you in stoking an artistic project and finding a job.

70 Richland Ave, San Francisco, CA, 94110. sywagon@gmail.com


Not-so-straight from the Netherlands comes the gay version of Playboy for the 21st century to tease your nether lands even though you buy it to read the interviews. BUTT’s been around long enough to be anthologized as a book. The latest issue is SF-centric, with appearances by Hunx from Hunx and his Punx, and Hunx’s sometime partner in crime, Brontez.

Klein-Gartmanplantsoen 21-I, 1017 RP Amsterdam, The Netherlands. www.buttmagazine.com


Artist Nathaniel Fink is interested in documenting male body types. This simple and cute little zine finds a shirtless and slim subject flexing against a big blue sky.

nathanieljfink@gmail.com; www.morephotosaboutbuildingsandfood.blogspot.com


Your teacher at Fag School is the one and only Brontez of Younger Lovers and Gravy Train!!! fame. Brontez knows how to turn funny anecdotes and sexy pics into an old-school queer zine for our ADD moment. Not as simple as it sounds. He’s also good at making straight guys takes off their clothes and model.



The most recent example of Regis Trigano’s photo zine presents a man alone in bed having some fun. Well shot.



This isn’t a zine, but instead a zine store run by Matt Wobensmith, the queer punk stalwart behind Outpunk Records and the zine of the same name in the 1990s. Opening night last month revealed a small emporium of countercultural wonders — queer stuff is just one facet. Just try to resist the Wuvable Oaf memorabilia.

Sat–Sun, noon–5 p.m. 766 Valencia, SF. www.goteblud.livejournal.com


Men, oft-scruffy, sometimes tattooed, taking care of themselves — based in San Francisco, this publication reaches all over the country to create images that owe a debt to old amateur raunch hands such as Old Reliable.

handbooksf@yahoo.com; www.hanbookmen.com


Christopher Schulz’s three-times-a-year publication featuring one or two models is bearish and cuddly, whether depicting a light wrestling bout or a sandy frolic with a beach ball.

contact@pinupsmag.com; www.pinupsmag.com; www.myspace.com/pinupsmag


This book lists and shares samples from the ever-expansive realm of queer zines. As a zinester from the early days who attended the Chicago SPEW conference decades ago, I can say it isn’t definitive — but it is wonderfully, revealingly comprehensive.

Printed Matter, 195 10th Ave., New York, NY, 10011. aabronson@printedmatter.org. www.printedmatter.org


I’d call this the My Comrade of today, replacing that primarily 20th century zine’s drag comedy with boyishness. In other words, here’s a rag for partying NYC art fags.



Still raunchy at 66 issues old, this is a classic, the daddy of them all, the one that exposes Penthouse Forum as boredom. Images by the late, great photographer Al Baltrop appear in the latest edition along with stories bearing titles like "Jockey Rides Teen’s Face — Wins Race" and "Appaloosa Stud with ‘Epic Torso’ Overwhelms Startled Shutterbug."

S.T.H., Box 20424, NYC, 10023. sth@straight-to-hell.net; www-straight-to-hell.net

Detroit rock city


Last year, Motor City troubadour Rodriguez’s 1970 recording Cold Fact (Light in the Attic) rightfully topped many critics’ lists as the best reissue of 2008. This year, another Detroit act, Death, is experiencing a similarly vital revival, through its jaw-dropping proto-punk onslaught For the World to See (Drag City). As Rodriguez hits SF in conjunction with the reissue of 1971’s Coming From Reality, I caught up with him by phone as he visited the office of his new label. I corresponded with Death’s Bobby Hackney by e-mail, with some help from Drag City’s Nicole Yalaz. (Johnny Ray Huston)

SFBG What were some of your favorite haunts and places in Detroit?

BOBBY HACKNEY (OF DEATH) Of course the Grand Ballroom, and later on, the Michigan Palace. Most of the shows we would see would be either at the Cobo Arena or Olympic Stadium.

SFBG Rodriguez, have you spent time with John Sinclair?

RODRIGUEZ Only as of late. We did a show together that involved music and poetry on a [street] corner. He’s quite a hero. We burned one.

SFBG Rodriguez, how important was Detroit and your experience of it to the lyrics on Cold Fact and Coming From Reality?

R I consider myself urban as opposed to rural or suburban. Any city has its heart, and my background is in the social realism of the urban setting.

SFBG Bobby, will the reformed version of Death be touring soon?

BH What a timely question. We have just finished a four-month process of production and rehearsals and this past Friday announced our first show at the Majestic Theatre in Detroit on Sept. 25.


With Fool’s Gold, Sam Flax and Higher Color

Fri/26, 9 p.m., $17–$19


333 11th St, SF

(415) 255-0333


Sonic Reducer Overage II: Elvis Costello, Starfucker, Nihlotep


By Kimberly Chun

Get out and lend an ear – it’ll be returned, perhaps changed. Here are more intriguing shows that didn’t make it to print.

Elvis Costello
Certified rock genius – up in the house! No secrets here: in true diehard music lover form, Declan MacManus gives back to music emporiums with his one-day “Amoeba Music Tour” performances here in the Haight and then at Amoeba Hollywood. Expect him to play acoustic versions of tunes from his new Secret, Profane and Sugarcane (Hear Music) alongside Jim Lauderdale, and to sign copies of the CD (copies purchased at Amoeba come with a poster silkscreened for the event). Mon/22, noon, free. Amoeba Music, 1855 Haight, SF. (415) 831-1200.

Nihlotep performing Mosaic and studio clip

Drink in the unearthly screeches and high-drama doom metal sturm und drang from the San Jose group. With Vesterian and Condemned to Live. Tues/23, 9 p.m., $6. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. (415) 923-0923.

The Portland, Ore., combo with the oh-so-naughty moniker has somewhat innocuous origins: Josh Hodges started out with just a borrowed drum set, loop pedal, and a mic – one-off, one-man entertainment for a house party. Now, with the addition of three bandmates, Starfucker is busy reproducing the 8-bit electro pop-dance punk off its mini-album, Jupiter (Badman).
With Atole and White Cloud. Tues/23, 9 p.m., $10. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., S.F. (415) 621-4455.




The Lollipop Generation (G.B. Jones, Canada, 2008) To truly appreciate G.B. Jones’ decades-in-the-making solo follow-up to her 1991 queer punk classic collaboration with Bruce LaBruce No Skin Off My Ass, you probably have to be a fan of Doris Wishman. Jones is on record as a major admirer of the woman behind Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965) and the Chesty Morgan vehicle Double Agent 73 (1974), whose singular directorial style had no need for dramatic momentum, synced-up dialogue, or sensible camera angles. (In a scene with dialogue, Wishman was more likely to lavish close-ups on nearby furniture than on the humans involved.) Lollipop Generation skewers the lust for youth at the rotten core of pop culture through its look at a loose gang of candy-licking teen and preteen trick-turners and the suckers who would like to prey on them. The cast includes writer Mark Ewert and Calvin Johnson, but Vaginal Davis steals a sizeable portion of the movie by throwing her all into a molester role in a sequence that shifts back and forth between Super 8 and video. My favorite aspect of Lollipop Generation is Jones’ eye for funny or dirty signs or landmarks, from giant smiling balls on the sides of freeways to sites with double entendres for names. By placing what story there is within this framework, she creates her own world with no need for special effects. (Johnny Ray Huston) 10:45 p.m., Roxie.

Making the Boys (Crayton Robey, USA, 2008) Whether you adore it as a nostalgic, pre-HIV throwback or despise it for its self-loathing and slew of gay stereotypes, The Boys in the Band was revolutionary for its time as the first play to revolve around a homosexual circle of friends and to present an honest examination of the gay community. In director Crayton Robey’s compelling and insightful new documentary, Mart Crowley, the playwright of Boys, recounts his days rubbing shoulders with the Hollywood elite as a burgeoning screenwriter only to be cast aside after a failed Bette Davis pilot and a film deal fell through. New York theater proved to be his salvation as he struggled with perceived personal and professional failure as well as alcoholism. With nothing to lose, he bravely penned Boys, secured the producer from Edward Albee’s equally controversial Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and released it off-Broadway on April 14, 1968 to commercial acclaim. Robey interviews both Broadway and Hollywood mainstays such as Albee, Terrence McNally, Robert Wagner, and Dominick Dunne, who reflect on the impact of Boys, for better and for worse, and its role in challenging mainstream opinions of homosexuality as a mental illness and in jumpstarting the gay rights movement. In the middle of the film, I started wishing Robey had interviewed more of the cast of Boys. After all, they were the ones who experienced the highs of being in an exciting and subversive new play as well as the lows of later being essentially blacklisted from Hollywood. Then it dawned on me that five of the nine original cast members of Boys have since died from AIDS. Ultimately though, their cause to validate the gay community’s presence in society is forever immortalized with the legacy of Boys, the play that Vincent Canby hailed "a landslide of truths." (Laura Swanbeck) 7 p.m., Victoria. Also Mon/22, 1 p.m., Castro.


Greek Pete (Andrew Haigh, U.K., 2009) A deadpan serving of real-life drama, this night-and-day portrait is a 21st-century update of Andy Warhol’s Flesh, the 1968 movie that made Joe Dallesandro a star. In Flesh, Dallesandro is a hustler named Joe in New York. Here, Peter Pittaros is an escort named Pete in London. In Flesh, we see Joe school comparatively naïve and weak street corner boys on the tricks of rough trade. Here, Pete is a responsible breadwinner in comparison to his drug-spun chicken boyfriend. Both Flesh‘s Joe and the title character of Greek Pete hang with trannies, though Candy Darling and Jackie Curtis are more camera-ready than Pete’s goth gal pals. But whereas a strange optimism radiates from Flesh, which is understandably too smitten with its charismatic star to knock the hustle, Greek Pete has a strong undertow of melancholy. Its sadness doesn’t stem from a moral tut-tut stance about whoring but from a sense of modern emptiness that haunts Pete whether he’s with friends, alone in his apartment, or watching footage of himself winning a competition that’s the male escort equivalent of Miss America. Well-shot and anchored by a performance that’s just deep and ordinary enough to remain compelling, Greek Pete isn’t just easy meat. (Huston) 10 p.m., Victoria. Also Tues/23, 2:30 p.m., Castro.


Training Rules (Dee Mosbacher and Fawn Yacker, USA, 2009) Homophobia in sports is, depressingly, still an enormous issue. But compared to the macho world of the NBA, you’d think that women’s college basketball would be a comparatively safe realm for queer players. In the case of Penn State, you’d be dead wrong. For 27 years, coach Rene Portland intimidated and harassed players who were lesbians — and those she thought might be lesbians, or who had lesbian friends. As players from past teams recall (often through tears), Portland was an outspoken homophobe who revoked scholarships as she pleased and made basketball a joyless pursuit for those she targeted. In 2006, former player Jennifer Harris, a star athlete and standout student, sued the school for discrimination. Though Harris can’t speak at length due to the terms of her settlement (and of course Portland, who resigned in 2007, did not agree to an interview), Training Rules is an eye-opening document, exposing not just the ugly truth about one coach, but a systemwide crisis that those in power (athletic directors, the NCAA) have been painfully slow to address. (Cheryl Eddy) 3:30 p.m., Castro


City of Borders (Yun Suh, USA, 2009) Forty-five minutes away from Middle Eastern "gay mecca" Tel Aviv lies Jerusalem, ancient religious center and, unfortunately, bastion of equally time-tested attitudes toward homosexuality. Many Tel Aviv gays don’t even see the point of living, let alone fighting for rights, in Jerusalem. Yet Jerusalem’s sole gay bar, Shushan, was one place where Jews and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians, mingled as equals. Yun Suh’s documentary focuses on a few diverse patrons, plus Shushan’s owner Sa’ar Netanel, who became Jerusalem’s first openly gay elected official (as a city councilman) on the same day it elected its first ultraright Orthodox mayor. He endures routine death threats, Gay Pride parades attract violent protest, and the other principals here have their problems and flaws too: lesbian couple Samira and Ravit try to stay together despite major cultural differences; Palestinian youth Boddy fears he’ll eventually have to leave for his own safety; Adam, an Israeli activist since being queer-bashed, doesn’t see any ethnical conflict in building a house on occupied territory with his boyfriend. Borders is a vivid snapshot of a gay rights struggle that is still very much an uphill slog. (Dennis Harvey) 7 p.m., Roxie

Patrick, Age 1.5 (Ella Lemhagen, Sweden, 2008) Freshly settled in suburbia, gay couple Goran (Gustaf Skarsgard) and Sven (Torkel Petersson) are eager to adopt a child — or at least Goran is, with Sven reluctantly caving in. But when against the odds they’re informed a native-born boy is available, a misplaced bit of bureaucratic punctuation means they get not the 18-month-old toddler expected but 15-year-old Patrik (Tom Ljungman). He’s a foul-tempered foster home veteran who makes it clear he’s no happier cohabiting with two "homos" than they are with him. Nevertheless, they’re stuck with each other at least through the weekend, allowing a predictable mutual warming trend to course through Ella Lemhagen’s agreeable seriocomedy. While formulaic in concept, the film’s low-key charm and conviction earn emotions that might easily have felt sitcomishly pre-programmed. (Harvey) 7 p.m., Castro


Prodigal Sons (Kimberly Reed, USA, 2008) When Kimberly Reed (who studied film at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University) set out to make Prodigal Sons, she was probably pretty certain the doc would be deliberately self-focused. The film’s first act takes place in Helena, Mont., at Reed’s 20-year high school reunion — amid former classmates who remember Kimberly Reed as Paul McKerrow, a football star who was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" (and, indeed, a success she has been; though she alludes to a difficult period during her transition, she’s clearly arrived at a happy and confident place in life). But Prodigal Sons is plural for a reason, and not because of brother Todd (who happens to be gay). Instead, it’s adopted brother Marc — who is given to terrifying rages as a result of a personality-altering brain injury; remains eternally resentful of Kimberly’s high school-era smarts and popularity; and (as is shockingly discovered) the grandchild of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth — who becomes Prodigal Sons’ focus. He is the most heartbreaking figure in an intimately personal (sometimes uncomfortably so) film that’s ultimately about identities lost and found. (Eddy) 7:30 p.m., Castro


Off and Running (Nicole Opper, USA, 2009) Teenager Avery, an African American, was adopted as an infant by a single white mom, who soon afterward meets another single white mom who had recently adopted an African American baby boy. Before long, a family (nicknamed "the United Nations," especially after a Korean child joins the mix) was formed. A track star who dreams of running in college, Avery loves her moms, but she’s curious about her biological parents. She knows she’s from Texas and was originally called Mycole Antwonisha, facts that hint at a cultural experience far removed from her upbringing as a Brooklyn Jew. After a few letters are exchanged with her birth mother, Avery is crushed when the woman mysteriously ends communication. A profound identity crisis ensues. "It’s like something really traumatic happened to her, and nothing did," Avery’s caring if clueless adoptive mother says. But Off and Running suggests otherwise. The doc may not speak for every adopted child’s experience, but it’s eye-opening nonetheless, and is blessed with a subject who is sensitive and articulate even in her darkest moments. (Eddy) 2:15 p.m., Roxie

Pop Star on Ice (David Barba and James Pellerito, USA, 2009) Yay, Johnny Weir! If you don’t share my sentiments about the sassy, sparkly, outspoken (but not on-the-record out) figure skater, then you might want to skip this documentary, which was filmed over a two-year period and offers an up-close-and-personal (like, you see him in a tanning bed) look at the three-time national champ. Or maybe not, actually — haters might come around after realizing how hard he’s worked to achieve his ice-rink dreams, born after watching Oksana Baiul win Olympic gold on TV and learning to skate (at the ancient age of 12) on the frozen-over cornfield in his Pennsylvania backyard. Competition footage backs up claims by longtime coach Priscilla Hill (with whom he breaks up over the course of the film) and others of Weir’s extraordinary talents; backstage clips and off-the-cuff interviews establish the fact that he’s one of the sport’s most fun personalities, probably ever. Weir pouts, jokes, struts in a fashion show, speaks in a Russian accent, discusses his collection of furs, and lands quadruple jumps with ease. Gay or (ahem) nay, he’s clearly 100 percent comfortable with who he is. (Eddy) 11 a.m., Castro