Outdoors & Sports



SF Fog Rugby

The Fog is one of the only rugby clubs in the world that actively recruits people of color, gay men, and women — and somehow only incredibly hunky ones apply.

(415) 267-6100,


Gold’s Gym

It’s the gayest, classiest, most fresh-smelling gym in the city. Get buff. Get ripped. Get Gold.

Various locations.


Monkey Yoga Shala

Bend, breathe, burn. Go bananas. Be like the monkey at Monkey Yoga Shala, the Bay Area’s premier simian yoga studio.

3215 Lakeshore, Oakl. (510) 595-1330,



Learn how to bust moves and join the Rhythm Nation with the professional booty shakers at ODC — or just watch them in amazing performances.

351 Shotwell, SF. (415) 863-6606,


Kezar Stadium

It’s not as glamorous as it was back in the day, but Kezar is still the best place to kick balls and soak up vibes left over from the Summer of Love.

755 Stanyan, SF.


Hoop Girl

Shake off that flab, grind your pelvis, and work that ass with Christabel Zamor, the sexiest hula-hooping heroine in the world.


The Embarcadero

Embarco is the best place in the world for street skating. Just don’t tell the cops.

Pier 1, Embarcadero and Market, SF


Mission Pool

An impeccably maintained, old-school outdoor pool tucked into the heart of the Mission. The last of a dying breed.

1 Linda, SF. (415) 641-2841,


Linda Mar, Pacifica: Best Surf Spot

Linda Mar, Pacifica

The water’s cold, the waves are rough, and the weather is screwy, but our readers love a challenge.

Cabrillo Hwy. at Linda Mar Blvd., Pacifica.


Tilden Park

Trek through winding trails full of trees and wildlife at the oldest and most beautiful park in the East Bay.

Grizzly Park Blvd., Berk. (510) 562-PARK,


Baker Beach

Rock out with your cock out or jam out with your clam out at the best nude beach in the West.

Off Lincoln Blvd., Presidio, SF.


Stinson Beach

Amazing (if often fog-drenched) views, cool spontaneous sand sculptures, and tons of hidden nooks and crannies for a private feel.

1 Calle del Sierra, Stinson. (415) 868-1922,


Golden Gate Park

Accessibility is key at this beloved multifaceted venue, which offers several services specifically for the disabled.


Dolores Park

Panoramic views of the city, half-naked hotties, beer, sausage, and pot brownies. This ain’t your daddy’s picnic spot (well, maybe your sugar daddy’s)!

Dolores between 18th and 20th Sts., SF.


Fort Funston

Where else can a pup frolic in Pacific Ocean waves and then chill with his bitch on a grassy knoll when he’s done? Nowhere.

Skyline Blvd. at John Muir Dr., SF.


Angel Island

Wind-sheltered and semiprivate, the campsites at Angel Island are the perfect remedy for the Fog City blues.


Twin Peaks

You can see everything from Twin Peaks: the sky, the city, the tourists, the tweakers!

Top of Twin Peaks Blvd., SF.


Ocean Beach

The sun may rise in the eastern skies, but it settles in a fine location: just off the shore of the O.B.

Great Hwy. between Geary and Sloat Blvds., SF.


Mt. Tamalpais

Your roof might be awesome, but if your landlord catches you up there, you’ll be homeless in no time. Skip the eviction and head to Mt. Tam.

801 Panoramic Hwy., Mill Valley.

Outdoors & Sports


OK, you know when you’re doing the elliptical at the gym, flipping idly through an US Weekly between fighting with some meathead over whether you’ve really been on the machine for 30 minutes? That’s your body getting stronger while your mind’s getting weaker. Combat your brain’s slow atrophy at vibrantBrains, the only gym devoted exclusively to the oft-ignored muscle inside your skull. Instead of sweat-drenched Nautilus machines, vibrantBrains is composed of computer stations with software to challenge different parts of your mind. Happy Neuron works out your cognitive and language skills, while Lumosity’s exercises work out your memory and attention capabilities. In between “workouts,” the vibrantBrains lounge offers tea, reading material, and a community of newly intelligent peers. Classes like “Minding Your Mind” and “Neurobics” are also offered. All software is proven scientifically to improve brain function, but vibrantBrains’ owners, Lisa Schoonerman and Jan Zivic, provide a personal touch that eases your wits into fitness.

3235 Sacramento, SF. (415) 775-1138,


Banish preconceived notions about running clubs: people whose less-than-1-percent body fat is shellacked in sweat-wicking, high-tech fabrics; New Balance slaves to a stopwatch and heart monitor. Not so with the Hash House Harriers (or H3), a running club fueled more by beer and sexual innuendo than Gu and Cytomax. The Harriers’ motto is “A drinking club with a running problem.” A hash run is based on hare hunting, with the leading hasher laying out a trail that the rest follow. This entails more than improvising a route, however: the hasher must set up the keg and beer stops along the way. Punishments are doled out for not following the route, and they’re not just sore muscles. Down-downs, as they’re called, involve drinking all the alkie in your cup. Booze consumption along the way isn’t the only unorthodoxy; members choose some very interesting nicknames, which range from “Wet Nurse” to “Cum Guzzling Cockaholic.” If Bay to Breakers comes 51 times less a year than you’d like, join up now.

(415) 5-ON-HASH,


When most people hear “go,” they think of the opposite of “stop” or that middling ’90s rave movie. Well, there’s a lot more to “go” than green lights and Katie Holmes. Take, for example, Go, the 4,000-year-old Chinese board game. Go, or “Eastern Chess,” involves two players facing off over a wooden board with small black and white stones as their weapons. The game, once used in military training schools to teach strategy, is challenging, complex, and addictive. Where can you go to Go in San Francisco? You go to the San Francisco Go Club, where you can enter Go tournaments, get Go ranking verification, receive Go lessons, or simply throw down a challenge (“You wanna Go?!”). Go-ing since 1935, this organization, headquartered in an intimate little Richmond District space, is perfect for Go fanatics and first-time Go-phers alike. Even if chess, backgammon, and checkers aren’t doing it for you anymore, don’t give up on board games — Go further.

500 Eighth Ave., SF. (415) 386-9565,


Fear not, action stars. Just because you lost your stuntman (they’re first to go in a recession) doesn’t mean your movie has to suck. Head over to the Tat Wong Kickboxing Academy and learn those kung fu moves for yourself. Founded by Master Tat Wong — one of Inside Kung Fu magazine’s 100 Most Influential Martial Artists of the 20th century and host of TV’s “Kung Fu Theater” — the academy uses a combination of Chinese San Shou, American kickboxing, and Muay Thai techniques to instruct students of all ages in a huge former bank building on Clement Street. What does that all mean? It means that whether you’re an action star or an extra, you’ll be arrow-punching and tornado-kicking your way to tighter buns, mental discipline, and badass self-defense skills. And even if you’re not the next Jean-Claude Van Damme, Tat Wong’s cardio kickboxing classes may ensure you outlive him.

601 Clement, SF. (415) 752-5555,


Michael the Boxer: Best Uppercuts

If you thought You Don’t Mess with the Zohan was just another escapist summer film fantasy, think again. Ass-kicking hairstylists really do exist. Witness Michael Onello, the owner of Michael the Boxer, the only boxing gym and barbershop in the Bay Area. Michael is a third-generation barber and professional boxing trainer, highly qualified to dish out both buzz cuts and uppercuts. From the barber chair to the boxing ring, Onello’s SoMa shop is a blend of old-school service and new-school fitness. You can peruse Onello’s book, Boxing: Advanced Tactics and Strategies, during a hot lather shave and then, afterward, head into the ring to learn how to throw a haymaker. It’s boxing and barbering, all under one roof. But don’t let the Zohan comparisons give you the wrong idea. Michael’s not working — as a boxer or barber — for laughs. He’s simply the best double-threat in town. As Muhammad Ali said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”

96 Lafayette, SF. (415) 425-3814,


On a late-night talk show, five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams recently referred to herself as a “tennis nerd,” meaning that when she isn’t playing tennis, she likes to watch it. All Bay Area tennis nerds should know about the Centre Court Pro Shop at San Francisco Tennis Club. For once you won’t have to trek through a maze of equipment for other sports to get to the array of shoes, clothes, and racquets. And if you glance at the TV by the front counter, you’ll likely see a recording of a classic match. Casual onlookers who were wowed by the epic “Greatest Match Ever” between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer can show their allegiance to the players associated with the sport’s renaissance by buying some new Babolat or Wilson gear. The shop has a ton of demo racquets, so any player — from weekend hacker to daily tennis nerd — can figure out through trial and error (and fun) which stick works best for hitting winners and upping their game.

645 Fifth St., SF. (415) 777-9010


When you’re winning, it doesn’t matter where you watch. “The Catch” in ’82 could have made prison walls disappear. Super Bowl XXIX (Niners 49, Chargers 26) gave that boiler-room sublet in the Tenderloin charm. Yes, winning throws a glow on your surroundings, but when you’re losing — the 49ers have finished below .500 for the last five seasons; the Giants, for the last three — it’s a different story. You want comfort. You want character. You want beer. Thankfully, there’s Green’s Sport’s Bar on Polk. It’s got all the essentials: 17 high-definition TVs, 18 draft beers, and vintage Sports Illustrated swimsuit editions on the walls. Friendly staff, fanatical patrons, and an interior covered with flags, jerseys, pucks, pictures, and pennants — your game at Green’s is a guaranteed “W” regardless of the score, and a perfect reminder that just because your team’s losing, you don’t have to be a loser.

2239 Polk, SF. (415) 775-4287


We’re perhaps a little too, er, unbalanced to stand upright enough on a surfboard and guide it through the roiling waves, but that doesn’t mean we’re not suckers for hotties in wetsuits. Often you’ll find us curled up with a cup of joe in the dunes of Ocean Beach or Pacifica (or, hell, southern Baja — we’re enthusiasts!) appreciating fine-bodied curler-tamers from afar and merrily offering freshly laundered towels and the pitiful results of our amateur clambake to those who return from the breakers unbroken. But enough about us. This award goes to Aqua Surf Shop for not only outfitting our heroic tsunami-herders with affordable boards, suits, and accessories, but also taking the whole surfwear trend in charitable directions with glamorous fashion shows at 111 Minna that benefit the Edgewood Center for Families and Children and feature the work of several primo local stylists and music makers. With a new Haight Street location to complement its original Ocean Beach store, Aqua keeps growing and growing, proving that surfers really are the gift that keeps on giving.

2830 Sloat, SF. (415) 282-9243; 1742 Haight, SF. (415) 876-2782,


Skateboarding may be the coolest sport in the world, but its popularity has come with a price: the loss of authenticity and soul. The subculture used to be underground and dangerous, but thanks to corporate buyouts, heavy MTV coverage, and the X Games, it’s become as innocent as lacrosse. Luckily, Deluxe, a.k.a. DLX, the parent distribution company for Real Skateboards, Thunder Trucks, Spitfire Wheels, Krooked, and Antihero, keeps it real. With a focus on localized production — all boards, trucks, wheels, and clothes are actually made right here in the city — and a dedication to a distinctly San Franciscan brand of skate culture (flannels, beers, and raw street), Deluxe has managed to maintain some integrity as an alternative for the small sect of people who like to skate but hate the mall. Deluxe pros like Mark Gonzales, Dan Drehobl, and Peter Ramondetta are as far as you can get from corporate whores like Tony Hawk and Bam Margera, and the products Deluxe makes bear almost no resemblance to the shit they stock at Westfield Centre.

1111A 17th St., SF. (415) 468-7845,


The Bladium isn’t joking when it bills itself as “big club, big energy.” Situated in a former aircraft hangar on an abandoned naval base, the 120,000-square-foot sports and fitness club has stellar views of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet and San Francisco. Inside, airy dance studios, two indoor soccer fields, an in-line hockey rink, a rock climbing wall, a boxing ring, basketball and volleyball courts, and a kids center mean there are plenty of ways to get hot and sweaty. Did we mention the well-stocked bar and grill where you can offset any potential weight loss from all that working out? The club’s belief in cross-training as the best way to stay healthy translates into plenty of exercise options for one low monthly fee. But beware the darling clothing store situated inside the club. That’s where you may lose the shirt off your back, in exchange for a racy lacy sports bra — all the better to show off your nascent abs.

800 West Tower Ave., Bldg 40, Alameda. (510) 814-4999,


All the transportation experts say that when it comes to riding bicycles through big-city streets, there is safety in numbers. So if you’re among the majority of San Franciscans who still don’t pedal their way to work, there’s no better day to try it than Bike to Work Day, which occurs each May. This year, for the first time in San Francisco history, official traffic surveys that day counted more bicycles than automobiles during the morning commute on Market Street, a particularly astounding feat given that a court injunction has prevented the city from creating any new bike lanes or making improvements for the past couple of years. The day also features free coffee and other goodies from “energizer stations” (often staffed by very attractive “energizers”) around town and a Bike Home from Work afterparty, where you can flirt with the steel buns set and toast your merry mileage.


SFC Double Dutch: Best Non-Kinky Rope Skills

San Francisco has never been known for its wholesome use of rope — check for a taste of “normal” SF-style rope play — but that’s all changing now that the Double Dutchesses are back on the scene. The DD girls, four supersexy city girls with mind-boggling rope skills, made a big splash a few years ago with their quirky jump rope routines and blood-drenched performance art skits. But despite DD’s efforts, the great double dutch resurgence never quite took off, probably because choreographed jump roping is hard as hell. The girls laid low for a while, working diligently on their routines, but now they’re back. Their new jump rope instruction organization, SFC Double Dutch, is dedicated to spreading the joy of jump rope. So untie your bondage slave and sign up for classes at CELLspace or Studio Garcia before they fill up. Uptown, downtown; everybody’s gettin’ down.

214 Clara, SF. (415) 618-0992,


McKinley Park: Best Swingin’ on a Star

You might not have had the need — or the opportunity — to plan an over-the-top, no-holds-barred romantic date recently. Let’s face it: it’s hard to get a date in this city, let alone get one you’re actually excited about. But just when you’re least expecting it, someone wonderful lands in your lap, and you find yourself frantically trying to come up with something that will impress. May we suggest McKinley Park, a hidden gem atop Potrero Hill. It’s an ideal date stop: the swing set at the edge of the sleepy playground stunningly overlooks the entire city. Soaring through the night air, you feel as though you’ll launch into the stars. It’s even better to bike up to the park, despite the major hill climb required, as the rolling hills sloping down toward Third Street provide the best cycling roller coaster this city has to offer — with an ocean view.

20th Street at Vermont, SF


Even though the Presidio is gradually entering a slow hostile takeover by corporations (vanity museums, Lucasfilm) and big parking lots, it’s still San Francisco’s throwback to the past. The farther you get from the fancy park gates, the further back in time you travel. Near the coastal bluffs, time becomes completely irrelevant, making the Presidio the perfect place to reenact scenes from the greatest slacker movie of all time: The Big Lebowski. With a bowling ball, some beers, and a few other geeky friends, the Presidio Bowl becomes your personal set for faux nihilism and cutting repartée. Twelve lanes and a bangin’ snack bar (bacon-and-egg cheeseburgers, anyone?) sate you while the doobie wears off. And who can’t appreciate the value of an endless fountain of warm, imitation nacho cheese? Sadly, you’ll have to make the film’s emblematic White Russians yourself — the Bowl only serves beer, wine, and malt liquor. But there’s nothing wrong with ordering a glass of half-and-half on the rocks and doctoring it with your flask, is there?

93 Moraga, SF. (415) 561-2695.


If you don’t do a double take when you see a six-foot-four female impersonator screaming at a Muni driver on Market Street because he rear-ended her ’57 Chevy, congratulations. You’ve officially arrived as a proper San Francisco citizen. Where else is it considered commonplace to see a trolley hit a tranny? Yet even the most seasoned SF residents might turn their heads at this: grown men, dressed in skintight spandex and frilly lingerie, sprinting through Golden Gate Park with bikes hiked over their shoulders. This occasion, the Outlaw Cyclocross Race, is the unofficial annual opener for Northern California’s October–February cyclocross race season, in which dozens of hardcore, or ridiculous, cyclists cross-dress to avoid an entry fee. Zooming off in a cloud of dust, the froofy men (and a few tie-wearing women) race through a closed-circuit loop filled with steep hills and insurmountable logs. This slightly nonlegal event has kept itself well-hidden from permit-demanding eyes for almost 15 years. To find it, you’ll have to listen in the fall for strident yodels and ripping lace.


You celebrate the same birthday over and over. You’ve begun to contemplate Botox. And let’s not even talk about your waistline: Your muffin top runneth over. In our youth-centric, waif-y culture, where are the breaks for the older or plumper folks? The Double Dipsea Race is one. This 14.2-mile footrace, a round-trip between Stinson Beach and Mill Valley held in June, is age-handicapped: the oldest runners are given up to a 25-minute advantage over a scratch group of younger pups. The race has a few more swerves from convention. Women over 140 pounds and men over 200 can take special prizes. And runners who frequent those North Bay trails would do well to take note of the race’s permissible shortcuts. The race offers these corner-cutters because founder Walt Stack wanted to encourage women and older folks to participate. The course is still grueling — a 2200-foot nongradual elevation gain, uneven, rocky footing, and yes, the infamous 600-plus Mill Valley steps. Yet it offers a gorgeous and breathtaking (if you have any left to take) vista of the Pacific.


There was a time when San Francisco was ground zero for skate culture. Spots like the Justin Herman Plaza, Hubba Hideout, and Pier Seven cranked out pro after pro and bred a scene more stylish and full of big-city attitude than the world had ever seen. It was great for the city’s skaters who enjoyed fame, money, and industry-wide respect, but the corporations that owned the plazas, ledges, and staircases were unanimously pissed off. Ledges were capped, security guards were hired, and special laws were created to make sure San Francisco became as undesirable for skaters as an empty swimming pool for Olympian dog-paddlers. Most of the SF skate scene may have vanished since the attack, but it never died. The new Portero Del Sol Skatepark is proof. New pros, up-and-comers, and established vets like Max Schaff and Karma Tsocheff have been tearing that shit up since the cement dried back in April.

Utah and 25th St., SF.


If you’ve ever met someone from Pittsburgh, you’ve met a Steelers fan. Steel City natives are serious about sports. San Francisco has a surprisingly large number of Steelers bars, where transplants and trend-followers throw back brewskis at 10 a.m. on football season Sundays. But Giordano Bros. sandwich shop in North Beach makes you genuinely feel like you’re back in the ‘Burgh itself. It’s not uncommon to hear the hoots of former elementary school classmates running into each other, beer is available in buckets — and authentic Primanti Bros.–style sandwiches are served. These wonders are stacked with your choice of Italian meat (try the hot cappicola) and slathered with cheese, oil and vinegar, and french fries between thick-sliced Italian bread. (Add boiled egg for the full experience.) Four large TVs ensure everyone can see the game. When the Steelers win, Giordano’s proprietors pass around Iron City, a brew found only in Pittsburgh. Because, in Pittsburghese: “Every one of yinz Stillers fans gets a victory swig dahn ‘ere.”

303 Columbus, SF. (415) 397-2767,


The folks at Fog City Wrestling want you to watch a luchador slam a Tom Cruise impersonator into the floor. They want you to see a Samoan take-down team (combined weight: 1,100 pounds) take on the “Reno Punks” in a swirling, convoluted drama of independent pro-wrasslin’. Sweaty, in-your-face, “maybe knock you over if you’re in the front row” wrestling has come back to San Francisco after what promoters Caesar Black and Steve Armani claim has been a 30-year absence. Fog City’s shows are packed with so many acts, highlights, and subplots that things get raucously confusing. With a full-size ring and professional sound and lights, it brings a high level of showmanship with a big ol’ plate of athleticism on the side. Wrestlers like Rikishi, the Mexican Werewolf, and Mister Primetime pull big-show moves — flying back flips, body slams, and pile drivers — just like them whut you see on the tee-vee.


As a San Francisco resident, it’s your born (or inherited, or adopted) duty to be a Giants fan. It doesn’t matter that baseball is boring or that scandal rocks the team every year that they don’t completely suck. But just going to a Giants game can be as sporty as playing baseball — and you don’t even have to enter the ballpark. Grab a pony keg and some friends, don your orange fright wig, set up camp on the stone benches across from the waterway by AT&T Park, and while away the afternoon or evening watching the kayakers on the bay wait to catch fly balls. You’ll almost be able to see the big screen where the game is projected. Or, if you actually care about what’s going on inside, press your eyeballs up to the right of the bicycle-parking check-in and you’ve got the best field-side seats in the park. Why pay $6 per Bud to watch the Giants lose when you can drink your own beer, listen to the cheers and jeers, and enjoy some amateur watersports?





This mid-Market foodie haven proves that industrial-chic decor, organic ingredients, and a kick-ass oyster bar are a timeless combo.

1658 Market, SF. (415) 552-2522,


Gold Dust Lounge

World-class jazz, absurdly low happy hour prices, and a storied history have kept the Gold Dust a Union Square mainstay since 1933.

247 Powell, SF. (415) 397-1695


Community Music Center

With campuses in the Richmond and Mission districts, the Community Music Center has been making music education accessible to all since 1921.

544 Capp, SF. (415) 647-6015,


Intersection for the Arts

The Bay Area’s original alternative arts venue, Intersection for the Arts, has been going against the grain since 1965.

446 Valencia, SF. (415) 626-2787,


City Lights Bookstore: Best Classic Retail Shop

City Lights Bookstore

Responsible for legitimizing the paperback and making San Francisco the center of the literary universe, Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s North Beach shop remains fiercely independent.

261 Columbus, SF. (415) 362-8193,


Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco’s postcard perfect landmark, only northern exit, and beacon for destination suicides, this iconic suspension bridge has been rockin’ that orange vermillion hue since 1937.

Hwys. 101 and 1, SF.


Coit Tower

Coit Tower, the art deco phallic symbol on Telegraph Hill, has been proudly crowning San Francisco since 1933.

1 Telegraph Hill, SF. (415) 362-0808


San Francisco City Guides

This all-volunteer army of local history buffs doles out free walking tours that delve deep into the heart of San Francisco’s past.

100 Larkin, SF. (415) 557-4266,


Armistead Maupin

Armistead “Teddy Bear” Maupin’s iconic Tales of the City newspaper series has been published in novel form, turned into a television series, and translated into 10 languages.


Richard Diebenkorn

The driving force behind the West Coast’s flirtation with figurative painting by way of abstract impressionism, Diebenkorn found inspiration in his Berkeley surroundings.


Carlos Santana

Revered by guitar buffs, fusion enthusiasts, and stoners everywhere, Santana began his career during the peak of the ’60s rock era and produced the last No. 1 single of the 20th century (“Smooth”).


Wavy Gravy

With his tie-dyed armor, clown nose, and perpetual force field of bubbles, Wavy Gravy — living ice cream flavor, Woodstock MC, and ’60s impresario — now flies his activist freak flag over Camp Winnarainbow.


Harvey Milk

As the first openly gay man elected to public office, Milk helped usher in a new politics — smashing glass ceilings for minority candidates everywhere, igniting the local LGBT rights movement, and establishing San Francisco as a town without closet doors.


“I Left My Heart in San Francisco”

Whether it’s Tony Bennett or Frank Sinatra crooning about the fog that chills the air and the little cable cars climbing halfway to the stars, there’s nary a dry eye when this tune climaxes.



In this 1958 gumshoe thriller, Hitchcock introduced the world to San Francisco the character, complete with impossibly steep hills, panoramic views, and gorgeous architecture.

Classics — Editors Picks


Alternative theater is a precarious vocation at best, even in an alternative kind of town. Venues come and go, companies founder and fold, everyone wants to move to New York, and hardly anyone breaks even. Despite the tough climate, one stalwart survivor of the downtown downturn continues to expand — and celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The EXIT Theatre has been a haven for experimental small productions since its 1983 inaugural performance in the lobby of a nearby residential hotel, and has supported the advancing artistic endeavors of a host of Bay Area faves including mugwumpin, RIPE, Cutting Ball, Art Street Theatre, Crowded Fire, Banana Bag and Bodice, foolsFURY, stealth DIVA Sean Owens, and master illusionist Christian Cagigal. Founder and host of the annual San Francisco Fringe Festival, the EXIT attracts performers and audiences from around the world. Additional festivals such as the DIVAfest, Labor Fest, and the fondly remembered Absurdity Theatre Festival keep them coming back for more.

EXIT Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF. (415) 673-3847,


In a mega-festival concert world where a bottle of water can cost more than $5, we’re lucky to have Rock Medicine, a nonprofit emergency response service celebrating its 35th anniversary that hands out earplugs, patches up cuts and scrapes, and gets over-excited and dehydrated kids back to the show — all for free. Made up of volunteer paramedics, doctors, and other helpful, rockin’ citizens, the Rock Medicine program is run by the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic, part of the free love legacy of the 1960s. As the concerts of the famous era got bigger and more and more kids flocked to the Bay Area, concert mogul Bill Graham contacted clinic head Skip Gaye, and Rock Medicine was born. Now the organization tries to be present at every humongous musical shindig that takes place, with representatives usually located at a table bearing a giant jug of Gatorade. Rest assured, you’ll never surf the mosh pit without some helpful medical back-up.


Laughing Sal at Musée Mécanique:
Best Place to Score Crank

In the style of London’s Madame Tussauds or the Musée de la Magie of Paris, San Francisco’s own Musée Mécanique is dedicated to exhibiting the beauty of childhood esoterica. Dan Zelinsky’s private collection of hand-cranked musical instruments, antique arcade machines, and automated guignols — many that date from the turn of the century — give visitors a wondrous pre-digital toy experience. Among the many objets d’art, highlights include the automated Drinking Man, who imbibes spirits at the drop of a quarter only to have the liquid recirculate to the cup through his arm; Naughty Marietta, who is seen through the hand-cranked Cail-O-Scope in various states of undress; Laffing Sal, one of the most famous and frightening exhibits purely because of her laugh, and the Orchestrion, a mechanical orchestra that plays a hideously enchanting racket. While some may find these strange machines and life-like dolls less entertaining than disturbing, the Tim Burton weirdo in us adores them.

Pier 45, shed A, Fisherman’s Wharf, SF. (415) 346-2000,


Most rehab centers are cushy, designed for spoiled brats whose parents, managers, or partners are so sick of desperate phone calls and missing jewelry they’ll pay any price for a month of addict-free peace. But what addicts really need is a place that takes no shit and offers real results, providing a path to self-sustenance and a community dedicated to change. That’s what the Delancey Street Foundation, a privately-funded rehab center, has been supplying to San Francisco’s hard life crowd for more than three decades. Unlike many other such facilities where the failure rate is as hopeless as Britney Spears’ attempt to raise children, Delancey Street boasts a 98 percent success rate. And it’s free. All you have to do is show up and prove your dedication to self-improvement. If you pass the test, you’re given a room and an apprenticeship at one of the organization’s 12 former-addict-run enterprises. Selling Christmas trees, frothing lattes, and moving furniture may not be a catered month by the ocean, but it works.

600 Embarcadero, SF. (415) 957-9800,


Where can you see a hip-hop dance troupe, a moving human sculpture in Indian classical style, and a Scottish highland romp dedicated to the Celtic god of fire, all in the same short weekend? The San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival was founded in 1978, the first city-funded multicultural dance event in the country. Since then it’s played host to some 14,000 artists performing in more than 100 genres at various locales. This year the festival celebrated its 30th anniversary with flair, expanding its season to four weekends and adding new programming, like film screenings and dance classes. A $100,000 grant enabled festival directors to fly artists in from overseas for the first time. Sadly, Ethnic Dance Fest comes but once a year, but the auditions held in January at the Palace of Fine Arts are open to the public — audience members can expect a standing-room-only, casual atmosphere, and a different act every 10 minutes.

(415) 474-3914,


There is much to celebrate about the ever-static interior of the beloved House of Shields as it begins its second century of operation. The yellowing Charles McCabe clipping on the wall tells no lies when it proclaims, “Time Stands Still at the House of Shields.” But our favorite relic is not the ruggedly handsome Victorian back bar, the ornate wood paneling, or even the long closed tunnel connecting the old basement speakeasy to the Palace Hotel across the street. And although we enjoy the quirky music programming at this downtown live venue (everything from live blues standards to “twee pop punk”), there’s something more. Discreetly tucked away in the men’s room is the largest single-user urinal we’ve ever seen. No chance of missing the mark with this one. Laid on its back, the mammoth porcelain plumbing fixture could double as a short bathtub. They just don’t make ’em like they used to.

39 New Montgomery, SF. (415) 392-7732,


Jeff Fairclough of Mark Harrington Glass:
Best Crystal Cover-up

So you’re house-sitting at a friend’s swank Noe Valley Victorian, and you decide it couldn’t do any harm to have a few people over and crack a few beers. Before you know it, a misfired attempt to crowd-surf off the billiard table knocks a priceless Wedgwood bowl on the floor, dashing it to pieces. You may not be as screwed as you think. Mark Harrington Glass in the Mission has been repairing glass, crystal, and china by hand since 1932. Co-owner Linda Gotelli says they stay afloat because they’ve cultivated a “niche” in glasswork: they do everything by hand. This is safer for the glass and allows them to take on odd-sized objects, like a five-foot tall antique Italian olive oil jar. Gotelli says she expects her customers to be honest, but admits that the company offers “invisible repairs” capable of fooling all but the most knowledgeable antiquers.

286 Sanchez, SF. (415) 931-6809,


The Swedes get to take credit for Ikea and H&M; Legos and modern furniture go to the Danish; the Norwegian cruise around glorious fjords. Finns export Finlandia, while the Icelandic claim Björk and ram scrota soup as their own. If these many accomplishments don’t make Bay-transplanted natives of those consonant-heavy countries lucky enough, they also get a shared cabin in Tahoe (replete with ski boats), a cabin in Clear Lake, and a loft in the city that hosts fabulous parties. All this comes with membership in the Young Scandinavians Club, a 58-year-old organization that encourages pride in Nordic heritage and tons of drinking and wakeboarding with tall, tan, white-toothed, blonde people. So dig into your family genealogy and find old Swedish grandpa Gustaf, or marry Henrik, that green-card-seeking Norwegian, to join. People who have lived in a Scandinavian country for more than six months are also invited into the club. Just say ja.

(415) 346-7450,


The Hotel Utah Saloon looks like it was hastily assembled out of whatever was lying around — a giant stuffed deer thrusts its head and shoulders through the wall near the door, while the second floor gallery seems to float on the stern of a small wooden boat. You get the feeling that if you came back the next day you might find it completely rearranged, or vanished altogether. This isn’t surprising in a place as old as the Utah, which celebrates its 100th birthday this year. In the early evening, the bar fills with regulars trading anecdotes with tattooed, comely, competence-oozing barmaidens. Around 9 p.m., the music starts and a younger set drifts in. Over the years, the unpretentious Utah has hosted Robin Williams, musical outfit Cake, and countless local bands — yet the door will rarely set you back more than $8. The food runs a tad pricey, but the fried cheese sandwich (“fried cheese” sandwich or “fried” cheese sandwich? Our lips are sealed) is worth it and ample enough for two.

500 Fourth St., SF. (415) 546-6300,


A daytrip to Port Costa is not usually on anyone’s must-do list, unless you ride a Harley, in which case you’re probably already there. This Best of the Bay pick aims to change that. Tucked along the lazy meander of the Carquinez Strait, Port Costa (pop. 250) is exactly the sort of place time forgets. What isn’t forgotten in Port Costa is the art of having a good time — most evident when bellied up to the bar at the Warehouse Café. Filled to bursting with the fanciful detritus of saloon decor such as leather booths, elegantly fringed lampshades, a campy tribute altar to Marilyn Monroe, 1980s-era video games, and a 9-foot tall polar bear in a glass case, the 100+ year-old former grain warehouse also features live music and barbeque on summer Sundays and an everyday list of more than 400 international beers, which you get to pick out of an enormous walk-in cooler on your own — if you ask nicely first.

Warehouse Café, 5 Canyon Lake, Port Costa. (510) 787-1827


Forget that shady dude in the Haight: the best people to score shrooms with are the members of the Mycological Society of San Francisco, a nonprofit formed in 1950 to promote an exchange of information about gathering and eating mushrooms. (Sorry, but we’re not talking about the mushrooms that go with psychedelic felt posters.) The society welcomes any newcomers interested in moving past the white button salad staple to learn about where to gather mushrooms and how to detect poisonous specimens. Lectures and meetings held by professional mycologists are held monthly, and group gathering expeditions provide a chance to bond in the outdoors with your fellow enoki enthusiasts. An adjunct culinary society hosts potluck dinners every month, with every dish, from the chanterelle salad to the candy cap mushroom cookies (trust us, they’re delish) featuring the fungi among us. And don’t forget the biannual fungus fairs, which help the public learn more-l (groan) about mushrooming and mycology.


Skateboarding may have been born on the streets of Los Angeles, but the sport and/or lifestyle would’ve been destined to a future of irrelevance — remember Rollerbladers? — had it not been hijacked more than 25 years ago by the San Franciscan gangstas who run Thrasher Magazine. The founders of the lo-fi zine — now a globally distributed glossy — dedicated themselves to defining what it meant to be a skateboarder as opposed to a surfer bro who occasionally rode around on a piece of wood. The current editorial team, headed by local legend Jake Phelps, carries on that tradition today, infusing a distinct SF feel into modern global skate culture. Thanks to Thrasher‘s coverage of underground music, fashion, and events, skateboarding has grown into a full-fledged subculture with its own set of rules, a truly bizarre crew of nonconformist leaders, and an indisputable spot at the top of the pop culture food chain.


For 30 years the Inner Sunset’s Milano Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant has been helping folks get their piece of the pie. It’s a real-deal mom-and-pop pizza joint where an old TV flickers above the clinking of plates and glasses and the rumbling of the streetcar. The staff buzzes about while friends sit at tables eating heartily, drinking $5 pitchers of IPA, and conversing amiably. Photos line the walls — and this is what really makes Milano special: three decades’ worth of San Francisco memories. Old-time regulars hold up Milano T-shirts, athletes show off regional title trophies, and would-be actors and actresses stare with dramatic intent. There are sepia-toned shots of the owners’ family and a loving memorial to Jack and Dolores, namesakes of the Jack and Dolores Special (Canadian bacon, garlic, onions, feta, and pesto). Many autographed pics of local music acts whose members have worked at Milano are also displayed, including one of DJ Shadow, taken at Milano by Annie Leibovitz for Rolling Stone. But even if you never become quite that famous, at least there’s a hot slice waiting for you.

1390 Ninth Ave., SF. (415) 665-3773


No other Bay Area film production house possesses the charm, history, and long-term awesomeness of Francis Ford Coppola’s 39-year-old art collective turned premier cinematic dream factory, American Zoetrope. The legendary company has put out some of the world’s most acclaimed titles (the Godfather trilogy, Apocalypse Now, Lost in Translation), nurtures local up-and-coming directors and screenwriters, and represents the apex of the classy side of San Francisco’s movie industry. Coppola’s reach doesn’t stop with film, of course. His empire has grown to include an award-winning literary magazine, a distinguished winery, and a restaurant and bar called Café Zoetrope in the fabulously triangular and historic Sentinel Building, American Zoetrope’s operational home base (and also where the Kingston Trio recorded many of their hits, the Caesar salad was reportedly invented, and the Coppola family has its pied-à-terre). Coppola’s team congregates at the bar after work to drink with other esteemed locals like Lawrence Ferlinghetti or chat with legendary tale-spinning bartender Peter.


Café Du Nord turned 100 this year, but the roster of live performers that enlivens this well-appointed, intimate, literally underground music venue remains anything but musty. Forward-thinking (if history-respecting) music makers Rykarda Parasol, Nada Surf, and Raised by Robots joined spunky old-schoolers like Rickie Lee Jones, Was (Not Was), and the Lady Tigra on the schedule this year, and the sometimes raucous Porch Light storytelling series, organized by writers Beth Lisick and Arline Klatte, keeps San Francisco’s literary scene on its toes. Located beneath the Swedish American Hall, Du Nord features several holdovers from its speakeasy days, including trapdoors and an elaborate system of tunnels, and the ghosts of illicit-grog-swilling artists, working girls, and con men are said to sometimes join in the modern-day revelry. Yet updates abound: owner Guy Carson is building a daytime café and gallery adjacent to the music hall; featuring musicians’ art in exhibits that tie in with shows, it’s slated to open in mid-September.

2170 Market, SF. (415) 861-5016,


Need staples? Forget Staples — or any of those other impersonal office supply Borgs from Planet Big Box. For every kind, shape, size, and width of pencil, pen, notebook, or eraser you need, we have Patrick and Company, a 135-year-old purveyor of business necessities that’s been providing all manner of indispensable items since San Francisco was a set of tin shacks in the sand dunes (well, at least the outer reaches of it). Long before the Great Quake hit, the Patrick family was keeping lowly company clerks up to their visors in ticker tape and hand-cranked calculators. But the five Bay Area Patrick’s locations don’t limit themselves to stocking the manila-tinged totems of daily drudgery — they also feature a wide variety of colorful and collectible stickers and other yummy must-wants that add a splash of color to your beige cubicle. Plus: office furnishings! OK, we know, office supplies may not be the most exciting things in the world (to some), but at Patrick and Company they at least come with a history.

Various locations.

Nightlife and Entertainment



Red Vic

From rock docs to cult classics, this Upper Haight co-op’s schedule has kept its cozy couches filled with popcorn-munching film buffs since 1980.

1727 Haight, SF. (415) 668-3994,

Runners up: Castro, Roxie


Balboa Theater

Packing the house with film festivals, second-run faves, indie darlings, and carefully chosen new releases, this Richmond gem offers old-school charm with a cozy neighborhood vibe.

3630 Balboa, SF. (415) 221-8184,

Runners up: Castro, Kabuki Sundance


Un-Scripted Theater Company

The Un-Scripted improv troupe elevates comedy from one-liners and shtick to full-fledged theatrical productions with a talented cast and eccentric sensibilities.

533 Sutter, SF. (415) 869-5384,

Runners up: ACT, Shotgun Players


Hot Pink Feathers

Blurring the line between cabaret and Carnaval, this burlesque troupe drips with samba flavor (and feathers, of course).

Runners up: DholRhythms, Fou Fou Ha!


Creativity Explored

The cherished nonprofit provides a safe haven for artists of all ages, abilities, and skill levels while making sure that great works remain accessible to art lovers without trust funds.

3245 16th St., SF. (415) 863-2108,

Runners up: 111 Minna, Hang


De Young

Golden Gate Park’s copper jewel boasts stunning architecture, one hell of a permanent collection, and an impressive schedule of rotating exhibitions.

50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, SF. (415) 750-3600,

Runners up: Asian Art Museum, SF MOMA



From aerial circus arts to metalsmithing, fire dancing to roller-skating parties, CellSPACE has had its fingers all over San Francisco’s alternative art scene.

2050 Bryant, SF. (415) 648-7562,

Runners up: SomArts, 111 Minna


DNA Lounge

DNA scratches just about every strange dance floor itch imaginable — from ’80s new wave and glam-goth to transvestite mashups and humongous lesbian dance parties.

375 11th St., SF. (415) 626-1409,

Runners up: Temple, 1015 Folsom


Bottom of the Hill

San Francisco’s quintessential “I saw ’em here first” dive, Bottom of the Hill consistently delivers stellar booking, cheap drinks, and great sound.

1233 17th St., SF. (415) 621-4455,

Runners up: Slim’s, The Independent


Club Six

Six blurs the line between high and low, offering an upstairs lounge in which to see and be seen and a basement dance floor for those who want to show off their b-boy prowess.

60 Sixth St., SF. (415) 531-6593,

Runners up: Poleng, Milk



Nothing says “Bay Area” quite like Yoshi’s masterful combo of classic cocktails, inventive maki rolls, and world-class jazz acts.

510 Embarcadero West, Jack London Square, Oakl. (510) 238-9200; 1330 Fillmore, SF. (415) 655-5600;

Runners up: Jazz at Pearl’s, Biscuits and Blues


Cafe Cocomo

Smartly dressed regulars, smoking-hot entertainment, and plenty of classes keep the Cocomo’s floor packed with sweaty salsa enthusiasts year-round.

650 Indiana, SF. (415) 824-6910,

Runners up: El Rio, Roccapulco


Annie’s Social Club

The club maintains its cred by presciently booking on-the-rise punk and hardcore bands and adding a sprinkle of punk rock karaoke, photo-booth antics, and ’80s dance parties.

917 Folsom, SF. (415) 974-1585,

Runners up: Thee Parkside, 924 Gilman



Where the drunken masses head after last call, the aptly named Endup is probably the only club left where you can rub up against a fishnetted transvestite until the sun comes up. And after.

401 Sixth St., SF. (415) 646-0999,

Runners up: Mighty, DNA Lounge


El Rio

“Cash is queen” at this Mission haunt, but you won’t need much of it. El Rio’s infamous happy hour — which lasts five hours and begins at 4 p.m. — consists of dirt cheap drinks and yummy freebies.

3158 Mission, SF. (415) 282-3325,

Runners up: Midnight Sun, Olive


500 Club

A mean manhattan might not be the hallmark of a typical dive, but just add in ridiculously low prices, well-worn booths, and legions of scruffy hipsters.

500 Guerrero, SF. (415) 861-2500

Runners up: Broken Record, Phone Booth


Bourbon and Branch

Mirrored tables, exclusive entry, fancy specialty cocktails, and a well-appointed library root this speakeasy firmly in “upscale” territory.

501 Jones, SF. (415) 346-1735,

Runners up: Red Room, Bubble Lounge


Brain Farts at the Lookout

“Are you smarter than a drag queen?” Brain Fart hostesses BeBe Sweetbriar and Pollo del Mar ask every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at this gay hot spot. Maybe.

3600 16th St., SF. (415) 431-0306

Runners up: Castle Quiz (Edinburgh Castle), Trivia Night (Board Room)


Lucky 13

Bargain drinks, a popcorn machine, and Thin Lizzy, Hank 3, Motörhead, and Iggy on heavy rotation: Lucky 13 never disappoints.

2140 Market, SF. (415) 487-1313

Runners up: Phone Booth, Lexington Club


The Mint

It may be nigh impossible to get mic time at this mid-Market mainstay, but once you do, there are hordes of adoring (read: delightfully catty) patrons to applaud you.

942 Market, SF. (415) 626-4726,

Runners up: Encore, Annie’s Social Club


Bearracuda at Deco

Bears at the free buffet, bears on the massage table — bears, bears everywhere, but mostly on the dance floor at this big gay biweekly hair affair in the Tenderloin.

510 Larkin, SF. (415) 346-2025,

Runners up: The Cinch, The Stud


Lexington Club

With a pool table, a rotating gallery of kick-ass art, and regular rock DJ nights, this beer-and-shot Mission dive has been proving that dykes drink harder for more than a decade.

3464 19th St., SF. (415) 863-2052,

Runners up: Cockblock, Wild Side West



Say hello, wave good-bye: Heklina’s legendary trash drag mecca hangs up its bloody boa in August, but it’s still the best bang for your tranny buck right now.

Stud, 399 Ninth St., SF. (415) 252-7883,

Runners up: AsiaSF, Diva’s


Curt Yagi

Multi-instrumentalist Curt Yagi has been making the rounds at local venues, strumming with the swagger of Lenny Kravitz and the lyrical prowess of Jack Johnson.

Runners up: Jill Tracy, Kitten on the Keys


A Band Called Pain

If you didn’t get the hint from their name, the Oakland-based A Band Called Pain bring it hard and heavy and have lent their distinct brooding metal sound to the Saw II soundtrack and Austin’s SXSW.

Runners up: Thumper, Death Angel


Lazer Sword

Rooted in hip-hop but pulling influences from every genre under the sun, the laptop composers seamlessly meld grime and glitch sensibilities with ever-pervasive bass.

Runners up: Kush Arora, Gooferman


Beeda Weeda

Murder Dubs producer and rapper Beeda Weeda may make stuntin’ look easy, but he makes it sound even better: case in point, his upcoming album Da Thizzness.

Runners up: Deep Dickollective, Zion I



San Francisco outfit and Absolutely Kosher artists the Ex-Boyfriends dole out catchy power pop with a shiny Brit veneer and a dab of emo for good measure.

Runners up: Gooferman, Making Dinner



A mainstay at festivals, parties, and Slim’s cover-band nights, ZooStation storm through the U2 catalog (they take on more than 140 of the band’s tunes).

Runners up: AC/DShe, Interchords


The Fucking Ocean

Fuck Buttons, Holy Fuck, Fucked Up, Fuck, indeed: the time is ripe for band names that can’t be uttered on the airwaves, and the Fucking Ocean leads the pack. George Carlin would be so proud.

Runners up: Stung, Gooferman



Ian Chang, aka DJ Smoove, keeps late hours at the Endup, DNA Lounge, 111 Minna, Mighty, and underground parties all over, pumping out power-funk breaks.

Runners up: Jimmy Love, Maneesh the Twister


Adrian and the Mysterious D, Bootie

Five years in, the Bay’s groundbreaking original mashup party, Bootie, has expanded coast-to-coast and to three continents. This duo displays the power of tight promotion and superb party skills.

DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., SF. (415) 626-1409,

Runners up: NonStop Bhangra crew, Mike Gaines (Bohemian Carnival)


Twilight Vixen Revue

Finally, someone thinks to combine pirates, wenches, classic burlesque, and foxy lesbians. This all-queer burlesque troupe has been waving its fans (and fannies) since 2003.

Runners up: Sparkly Devil, Hot Pink Feathers


Katya Ludmilla Smirnoff-Skyy

Gorgeous costumes, a glamorous backstory, and a jam-packed social calendar are reasons enough to catch this opera diva, but it’s her flawless mezzo that keeps fans hurling roses.

Runners up: Charlie Horse, Cookie Dough


Marga Gomez

One of America’s first openly gay comics, San Francisco’s Marga Gomez is a Latina firebrand who’s equally at home performing at Yankee Stadium or Theatre Rhinoceros.

Runners up: Robert Strong, Paco Romane


Vau de Vire Society

Offering a full-on circus assault, the wildly talented and freakishly flexible troupe’s live show delivers plenty of fire performances, aerial stunts, and contortionism.

Runners up: Teatro Zinzani, Pickle Family Circus


Hotel Utah

One of the city’s strongest breeding grounds for new musical talent, Hotel Utah’s open mic series opens the floor for all genres (and abilities).

500 Fourth St., SF. (415) 546-6300,

Runners up: Queer Open Mic (3 Dollar Bill), Brain Wash


Hubba Hubba Review: Best Cabaret/Variety Show

Hubba Hubba Revue

Vaudeville comedy, tassled titties, and over-the-top burlesque teasing make the Hubba Hubba Revue the scene’s bawdiest purveyor of impropriety.

Runners up: Bohemian Carnival, Bijou (Martuni’s)


Writers with Drinks

This roving monthly literary night takes it on faith that writers like to drink. Sex workers, children’s book authors, and bar-stool prophets all mingle seamlessly, with social lubrication.

Runners up: Porchlight Reading Series, Litquake


Laura at Hotel Utah

Whether you just bombed onstage at open mic night or are bellied up to the Hotel Utah bar to drink your sorrows away, the ever-so-crushworthy Laura is there with a heavy-handed pour and a smile. She’s even nice to tourists — imagine!

500 Fourth St., SF. (415) 546-6300,

Runners up: Chupa at DNA Lounge, Vegas at Cha Cha Cha

Nightlife and Entertainment — Editors Picks


There’s just something about the inimitable Jill Tracy that makes us swoon like a passel of naive gothic horror heroines in too-tight corsets. Is it her husky midnight lover’s croon, her deceptively delicate visage, her vintage sensibilities? Who else could have written the definitive elegy on the “fine art of poisoning,” composed a hauntingly lush live score for F.W. Murnau’s classic silent film Nosferatu, joined forces with that merry band of bloodthirsty malcontents, Thrillpeddlers, and still somehow remain a shining beacon of almost beatific grace? Part tough-as-nails film fatale, part funeral parlor pianist, Tracy manages to adopt many facades yet remain ever and only herself — a precarious and delicious balancing act. Her newest CD, The Bittersweet Constrain, glides the gamut from gloom to glamour, encapsulating her haunted highness at her beguiling best.


Can’t wait for the annual Berlin and Beyond film fest to get your Teuton on? The San Francisco Goethe-Institut screens a select handful of German-language films throughout the year at its Bush Street language-school location. For a $5 suggested donation, you can treat yourself to a klassische F.W. Murnau movie or something slightly more contemporary from Margarethe von Trotta. Flicks are subtitled, so there’s no need to brush up on verb conjugations ahead of time. And the Bush Street location is within respectable stumbling distance of many Tendernob bars, not to mention the Euro-chic Café de la Presse, should your cinematic adventure turn into an unexpected Liebesabenteuer. Unlike SF filmic events offering free popcorn, free-for-all heckling, or staged reenactments of the action, Goethe-Institut screenings need no gimmickry to attract their audiences — a respectable singularity perhaps alone worth the price of admission.

530 Bush, SF. (415) 263-8760,


Despite all the countless reasons to give in to despair — the weight of the world, the headline news, those endless measured teaspoons — sometimes you just have to say fuck it and get your freak on. No party in town exemplifies this reckless surrender to the muse of moving on better than the frenetic, freewheeling proslava that is Kafana Balkan. No hideaway this for the too-cool-for-school, hands-slung-deep-in-pockets, head-bobber crowd. The brass-and-beer-fueled mayhem that generally ensues at Kafana Balkan, often held at 12 Galaxies, is a much more primitive and fundamental form of bacchanal. Clowns! Accordions! Brass bands! Romany rarities! Unfurled hankies! The unlikely combination of high-stepping grannies and high-spirited hipsters is joined together by the thread that truly binds: a raucous good time. Plus, all proceeds support the Bread and Cheese Circus’s attempts to bring succor and good cheer to orphans in Kosovo. Your attendance will help alleviate angst in more ways than one.


There’s no doubt about it — we San Franciscans love to play dress-up. From the towering Beach Blanket Babylon–esque bonnets at the annual Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Easter Sunday to the costumed free-for-all of All Hallows Eve, the more elaborate the excuse to throw on some gay apparel, the more elaborate the apparel. This makes the annual Edwardian Ball tailor-made for San Francisco’s tailored maids and madcap chaps. An eager homage to the off-kilter imaginings of Edward Gorey, whose oft-pseudonymous picture books delved into the exotic, the erotic, and the diabolic within prim and proper, vaguely British settings, the Edwardian Ball is a midwinter ode to woe. From the haunting disharmonies of Rosin Coven to the voluptuous vigor of the Vau de Vire Society’s reenactment of Gorey tales, the ball — which now encompasses an entire three-day weekend — is a veritable bastion of dark-hued revelry and unfettered fetish.


We love Stephen Elliott. The fearless writer, merciless poker opponent, and unrepentant romantic’s well-documented fall from political innocence — recounted in Looking Forward to It (Picador, 2004) and Politically Inspired (MacAdam/Cage, 2003) — has kept him plunged into the fray ever since. Like most other ongoing literary salons, Elliott’s monthly Progressive Reading Series offers a thrilling showcase of local and luminary talent, highlighting up-and-comers along with seasoned pros — shaken, stirred, and poured over ice by the unflappable bar staff at host venue the Make-Out Room. All of the proceeds from the door benefit selected progressive causes — such as, most recently, fighting the good fight against California state proposition 98. Books, booze, and ballot boxing — a good deed never went down more smoothly or with such earnest verbiage and charm.


When it comes to opportunities to see live independent music, most Bay Area venues hang kids under 21 out to dry. Outside of 924 Gilman in Berkeley and the occasional all-ages show at Bottom of the Hill, the opportunities are painfully sparse. But thanks to members of Bay Area show promotion collective Club Sandwich, the underground music scene is becoming more accessible. Committed to hosting exclusively all-ages shows featuring under-the-radar local and national touring bands, Club Sandwich has booked more than a hundred of them since 2006, ranging from better-known groups like No Age, Marnie Stern, and Lightning Bolt to more obscure acts like South Seas Queen and Sexy Prison. Club Sandwich shows tend to cross traditional genre boundary lines (noise, punk, folk, etc.), bringing together different subcultures within the Bay Area’s underground music scene that don’t usually overlap. And the collective organizes shows at wildly diverse venues: from legitimate art spaces like ATA in San Francisco and Lobot in Oakland to warehouse spaces and swimming pools.


Pabst Blue Ribbon, American Spirits, track bikes, tattoos, stretchy jeans, slip-ons, facial hair, Wayfarers. Blah, blah, blah. If you live in the Mission — and happen to be between 22 and 33 years old — you see it all, every night, at every bar in the hood. Boooring. If you’re sick of all the hipster shit, but not quite ready to abandon the scene entirely, take a baby step over to the Broken Record, a roomy dive bar in the Excelsior that serves gourmet game sausage, gives away free beer every Friday(!), rents out Scrabble boards, and isn’t afraid to drop the attitude and get down with a goofy night of beer pong or a bar-wide foosball match. The cheap swill, loud music, and street art will make you feel right at home, but the Broken Record’s decidedly Outer Mission vibe will give you a much-needed respite from the glam rockers, bike messengers, “artists,” and cokeheads you have to hang out with back in cool country.

1166 Geneva, SF. (415) 255-3100


Every June, the Brava Theater quietly morphs into the center of the known universe for queer women of color. And what a delectable center it is. Over the course of three days, the Queer Women of Color Film Festival, produced by the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project, screens more than 30 works by emerging filmmakers for a raucously supportive audience — an audience that happens to be cute as all hell. In fact, some would call the festival the cruising event of the year for queer women of color. Of course, the films are worth scoping too. Students of QWOCMAP’s no-cost Filmmaker Training Program create most of the festival’s incredible array of humorous and sensitive films, which explore topics such as romance and family ties. For festivalgoers, this heady mixture of authentic representation, massive visibility, and community pride (all screenings are copresented with social justice groups) is breathtakingly potent. It’s no wonder a few love connections are made each fest. Want just a little more icing on that cake? All screenings are free.

(415) 752-0868,


The San Francisco Film Society is best known for putting on America’s oldest film fest, the San Francisco Film Festival. But the organization also hosts a TV show, publishes an amazingly vibrant online magazine, and throws a slew of events throughout the year under its SF360 umbrella, a collection of organizations dedicated to covering film in San Francisco from all angles. There’s SF360 movie nights held in homes across the city, Live at the Apple Store film discussions, and special screenings of hard-to-see films held at theaters throughout the Bay Area. But our favorite SF360 shindig is its monthly SF360 Film+Club Night at Mezzanine, which screens underground films to a room of intoxicated cinephiles who are encouraged to hoot, holler, and at times — like during the annual R. Kelly Trapped in tha Closet Singalong — flex their vocal cords. Past Film+Club screenings have included a B-movie skate-film retrospective, prescreenings of Dave Eggers’s Wholphin compilations, and an Icelandic music documentary night, at which, we’ll admit, we dressed up like Björk.


Project Bandaloop: Best Horizontal Mambo on High

Normally when one mentions doing the horizontal mambo, nudges and winks ensue. But when Project Bandaloop gets together to actually do it, the group isn’t getting freaky, it’s getting wildly artistic — hundreds of feet up in the air. The aerial dance company creates an exhilarating blend of kinetics, sport, and environmental awareness, hanging from bungee cords perpendicular to tall building walls. The troupe is composed of climbers and dancers, who rappel, jump, pas de deux, and generally do incredibly graceful things while hoisted hundreds of feet up in the air. Founded in 1991 and currently under the artistic direction of Amelia Rudolph, Project Bandaloop’s company of dancer-athletes explores the cultural possibilities of simulated weightlessness, drawing on a complete circumferential vocabulary of movement to craft site-specific dances, including pieces for Seattle’s Space Needle and Yosemite’s El Capitan. (Once it even performed for the sheikh of Oman.) Now, if there were only a way to watch the rapturous results without getting a stiff neck.

(415) 421-5667,


From the sidewalk, Bacchus Kirk looks like so many other dimly lit San Francisco bars. Yet to walk inside is to step into a little bit of Lake Tahoe or the Haute-Savoie on the unlikely slopes of lower Nob Hill. With its raftered A-frame ceiling, warm wood-paneled walls, and inviting fireplace, the alpine Bacchus Kirk only needs a pack of bellowing snowboarders to pass as a ski lodge — albeit one that provides chocolate martinis, raspberry drops, and mellow mango cocktails rather than hot cocoa, vertiginous funicular rides, and views of alpenhorn-wielding shepherds. This San Francisco simulation of the après-ski scene is populated by a friendly, low-key crowd of art students, Euro hostelers, and diverse locals — no frosty snow bunnies here — drawn by the congenial atmosphere, the pool table, and that current nightlife rarity, a smoking room. Tasty drinks and lofty conversation flow freely: if you leave feeling light-headed, you won’t be able to blame it on the altitude.

925 Bush, SF. (415) 474-4056,


Plenty of bars around town call themselves pooch-friendly — as if a pampered shih tzu housed in a Paris Hilton wannabe’s purse, its exquisitely painted paw-nails barely deigning to rest atop the bar, represents the be-all and end-all of canine cocktail companionship. The Homestead, however, goes the extra mile to make four-legged patrons of all shapes and sizes at home with its “open dog” policy. Permanently stationed below the piano is a water dish, and the bar is stocked with an ample supply of doggie treats. At slack times, the bartenders will even come out from behind the bar to dispense said treats directly to their panting customers. Talk about service! As for the bipeds, they will undoubtedly appreciate the Homestead’s well-worn 19th-century working-class-bar decor (complete with a potbellied stove!) and relaxed modern-day atmosphere. It’s the perfect spot to catch up with old friends — either furry or slightly slurry — and make a few new ones.

2301 Folsom, SF. (415) 282-4663


Bartender Visa Victor: Best Visa to Martini Victory

When überfancy personalized cocktails started popping up all over town, it was only a matter of time before we of the plebeian class started demanding our fair share. Looking to be poured something special, but can’t afford a drink at Absinthe? Want to sample a few stupendously constructed tipples in the Bourbon and Branch vein with limited ducats? Score: Visa Victor the bartender has what you want. Once a journeyman slinger, Visa has started filling regular shifts — typically Wednesdays and Sundays — at Argus Lounge on Mission Street. What he offers: his own DJ, a well-populated e-mail list of fans, and an array of unique ingredients including rare berries, savory herbs, and meat. Yes, meat — his recent bacon martini turned out to be not just an attempt to tap into the city’s growing “meat consciousness” but damn good to boot. And hey, we didn’t have to take out a phony second mortgage to down it.


Pesky Internet jukeboxes are everywhere: any decent night out can be ruined by some freshly 21-year-old princess bumping her “birthday jam” incessantly. The old-school jukebox, on the other hand, has the oft-undervalued ability to maintain a mood, or at least ensure that you won’t be “bringing sexy back” 27 times in one evening. Aub Zam Zam in the Upper Haight maintains an exceptional jukebox chock-full of timeless blues, jazz, and R&B slices. Selections include Robert Johnson, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Taj Mahal … the list of smooth crooners and delicate instrumentalists goes on and on. This is in perfect keeping with Aub Zam Zam’s rep as a mighty fine cocktail lounge, established in the 1940s. New owner Bob Clarke has made the place a lot more welcoming than it was in the days of notoriously tyrannical founder Bruno, who proudly boasted of 86ing 80 percent of the Zam Zam’s would-be customers. But Clarke’s kept at least one thing from Bruno’s days besides mouthwatering drinks: his favorite juke jams.

1633 Haight, SF. (415) 861-2545


It’s hard to tell if the entity known as Something with Genitals is a comedy act or a cultural experiment designed to monitor human behavior under unusual circumstances. Take, for example, the night one member of this duo, sometimes trio, of dudes made his way through the crowded Hemlock Tavern on cross-country skis. When he finally maneuvered himself onto the stage, the lights went out and the show was over. Sometimes no one gets onstage at all. Instead the audience gets treated to one of the group’s ingeniously simple short films, which are way better at summing up every one-night stand you’ve had than a regular joke with a punch line. Check out their video on MySpace of a guy who strikes up a conversation with a shrub on some Mission District street, invites it to a party, offers it a beer, asks it to dance, shares some personal secrets and heartfelt dreams, then proceeds to drunkenly fuck it, and you’ll wonder if they’ve been reading your diary. Funny uh-oh, not funny ha-ha.


Even if you’re not in the market for stock footage — the chief focus of Oddball Film + Video, which maintains an archive crammed with everything from World War II clips to glamour shots of TV dinners circa 1960 to images of vintage San Francisco street scenes — you can still take advantage of this incredible resource. Director and founder Stephen Parr loves film, and he loves the unusual; lucky for us, he also loves sharing his collection with the public. RSVPs are essential to attend screenings at the small space, which in recent months has hosted such programs as “Shock! Cinema,” a collection of hygiene and safety films (Narcotics: Pit of Despair) from bygone but no less hysterical eras, and “Strange Sinema,” featuring yet-to-be-cataloged finds from Oddball’s ever-growing library (a 1950s dude ranch promo, an extended trailer for 1972 porn classic Behind the Green Door). Other past highlights have included programs on sex, monkeys, India, and avant-gardists and nights with guest curators like Los Angeles “media ecologist” Gerry Fialka.

275 Capp, SF. (415) 558-8117,


It doesn’t get much sweeter, in terms of massive multistage music gatherings soaked with mucho cerveza and plenty of sunshine: looking out over the bay at our sparkling city from the top of a Ferris wheel as Spoon gets out the jittery indie rock on the main stage below. That was the scene at last year’s inaugural two-day Treasure Island Music Festival, a smooth-sailing dream of a musical event presented by the Noise Pop crew and Another Planet Entertainment. The locale was special — how often do music fans who don’t live or work on the isle ever get out to that human-made spot, a relic from the utopian era of “We can do it!” engineering and World’s Fairs. The shuttles were plentiful and zero emission. The food was reasonably priced, varied, and at times vegetarian. About 72 percent of the waste generated by the fest was diverted to recycling and composting. Most important, the music was stellar: primo critical picks all the way. This year’s gathering, featuring Justice, Hot Chip, and the Raconteurs, looks to do even better.


Pristine walls couldn’t get much more white-hot than at Ratio 3 gallery. Chris Perez has a nose for talent — and an eye for cool — when it comes to programming the new space on Stevenson near SoMa. The curator has been on a particular roll of late with exhibitions by such varied artists as psychedelia-drenched video installationist Takeshi Murata, resurgent abstractionist Ruth Laskey, and utopian beautiful-people photog Ryan McGinley, while drawing attendees such as Mayor Gavin Newsom and sundry celebs to openings. Perez also has a worthy stable of gallery artists on hand, including local legend Barry McGee (whose works slip surprisingly well among recent abstract shows at the space), rough-and-ready sculptor Mitzi Pederson, op-art woodworker Ara Peterson, and hallucinatory dreamscape creator Jose Alvarez. Catch ’em while the ratio is in your favor.

1447 Stevenson, SF. (415) 821-3371,


When edgy director of programming Bruce Fletcher left the San Francisco Independent Film Festival (IndieFest), fans who’d relied on his horror and sci-fi picks were understandably a little worried. Fortunately, Fletcher’s Dead Channels: The San Francisco Festival of Fantastic Film proved there’s room enough in this town for multiple fests with an eye for sleazy, gory, gruesome, unsettling, and offbeat films, indie and otherwise. There’s more: this summer Dead Channels teamed up with Thrillpeddlers to host weekly screenings at the Grand Guignol theater company’s space, the Hypnodrome. “White Hot ‘N’ Warped Wednesdays” are exactly that — showcasing all manner of psychotronica, from Pakistani gore flick Hell’s Ground to culty grind house classics like She-Freak (1967). Come this October, will the Dead Channels fest be able to top its utterly warped Hump Day series? Fear not for the programming, dark-dwelling weirdos — fear only what’s on the screen.


Everyone knows when Adobe Books’ backroom art openings are in full swing: the bookstore is brightly lit and buzzing at an hour when most other literature peddlers are safely tucked in bed, the crowd is spilling onto the 16th Street sidewalk, and music might be wafting into the night. Deep within, in the microscopic backroom gallery, you might discover future art stars like Colter Jacobsen, Barbra Garber, and Matt Furie, as well as their works. Call the space and its soirees the last living relic of Mission District bohemia or dub it a San Francisco institution — just don’t try to clean it up or bring order to its stacks. Wanderers, seekers, artists, and musicians have found a home of sorts here, checking out art, bickering over the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the time line of Mission hipster connections that runs along the upper walls, sinking into the old chairs to hang, and maybe even picking up a book and paging through.

3166 16th St., SF. (415) 864-3936,


DJ Cheb i Sabbah at Bollyhood Café: Best Hello Mumbai

India produces more movies than any other place on the planet, although you’d scarcely know it from the few that make it stateside. But the American Bollywood cult is growing, and Indian pop culture is dancing its eye-popping way into San Francisco’s heart with invigorating bhangra club nights and piquant variations on traditional cuisine. Bollywood-themed Bollyhood Café, a colorful dance lounge, restaurant, and bar on 19th Street, serves beloved Indian street food–style favorites, with tweaked names like Something to Chaat About, Bhel “Hood” Puri, and Daal-Icious. The joint also delights fans of the subcontinent with nonstop Bollywood screenings and parties featuring DJs Cheb i Sabbah and Jimmy Love of NonStop Bhangra. The crowd’s cute, too: knock back a few mango changos or a lychee martini and prepare to kick up your heels with some of the warmest daals and smoothest lassis (har, har) this side of Mumbai.

3372 19th St., SF. (415) 970-0362,


Sheila Marie Ang at Bubble Lounge: Best Pop ‘N’ Chill

When people get older and perhaps wiser, they begin to feel out of place in hipstery dive bars and tend to lose the desire to rage all night in sweaty dance clubs. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to party; it just means they’d rather do it in a more sophisticated setting. Thank goddess, then, for Bubble Lounge, the Financial District’s premier purveyor of sparkling social lubricant. For a decade, this superswanky champagne parlor has dazzled with its 10 candlelit salons, each decked out with satin couches, overstuffed chairs, and mahogany tables. BL specializes in tasters, flights, and full-size flutes of light and full-bodied sparkling wines and champagnes. But if poppin’ bub ain’t your style, you can always go the martini route and order a specialty cocktail like the Rasmatini or the French tickler — whatever it takes to make you forget about the office and just chill.

714 Montgomery, SF. (415) 434-4204,


Reggae may not be the hippest or newest music in town, but there are few other genres that can inspire revolutionary political thought, erase color lines, and make you shake your ass all at the same time. Grind away your daily worries and appreciate the unity of humanity all night long on both sides of the bay — second Saturdays of the month at the Endup and fourth Saturdays at Oakland’s Karibbean City — at Reggae Gold, the Bay Area’s smoothest-packed party for irie folk and dance machines. Resident DJs Polo Moquuz, Daddy Rolo, and Mendoja spin riddim, dancehall, soca, and hip-hop mashup faves as a unified nation of dub heads rocks steady on the dance floor. Special dress-up nights include Flag Party, Army Fatigue Night, and the Black Ball, but otherwise Reggae Gold keeps things on the classy side with a strict dress policy: no sneakers, no baseball caps, no sports attire, and for Jah’s sake, no white T-shirts. This isn’t the Dirty South, you know.


Its a wonder no one thought of it before. Why not combine green business practices with a keen sense of after-hours dance floor mayhem, inject the whole enchilada with shots of mystical spirituality (giant antique Buddha statues, a holistic healing center) and social justice activism (political speaker engagements, issue awareness campaigns), attach a yummy Thai restaurant, serve some fancy drinks, and call it a groundbreaking megaclub? That’s a serviceably bare-bones description of Temple in SoMa, but this multilevel, generously laid out mecca for dance music lovers is so much more. Cynical clubgoers like ourselves, burnt out on the steroidal ultralounge excesses of the Internet boom, cast a wary eye when it was announced that Temple would set up shop in defunct-but-still-beloved club DV8’s old space, and feared a mainstream supastar DJ onslaught to cover the costs. Temple brings in the big names, all right, but it also shows much love for the local scene, giving faves like DJ David Harness and the Compression crew room to do their thing. The sound is impeccable, the staff exceedingly friendly, and even if we have to wade politely but firmly through some bridge and tunnel crowd to get to the dance floor, we can use the extra karma points.

540 Howard, SF.


Blow Up: Best Bangers and Flash

Disco, house, techno, rave, hip-hop, electroclash … all well and good for us old-timers who like to stash our pimped-out aluminum walkers in the coat check and “get wild” on the dance floor. But what about the youth? With what new genre are they to leave their neon mark upon nightlife? Which party style will mark their generation for endless send-ups and retro nights 30 years hence? The banger scene, of course, fronting a hardcore electro sound tinged with sweet silvery linings and stuttery vocals that’s captured the earbuds and bass bins of a new crop of clubbers. Nowhere are the bangers hotter (or younger) than at the sort-of weekly 18-and-over party Blow Up at the Rickshaw Stop, now entering its third year of booming rapaciousness. Blow Up, with resident DJs Jeffrey Paradise and Richie Panic and a mindblowing slew of globe-trotting guests, doesn’t just stop with killer tunes — almost all of its fabulously sweat-drenched, half-dressed attendees seem to come equipped with a digital camera and a camera-ready look, as befits the ever-online youth of today. Yet Blow Up somehow leaves hipper-than-thou attitude behind. Hangovers, however, often lie ahead.


It may not be the Saudi tradition of dueling poets, in which two men swap lines until one can’t think of any more couplets (and is severely punished), but the Literary Death Match series, put on by Opium magazine, is San Francisco’s excellent equivalent, though perhaps less civilized. Try to remember the last poetry reading you attended. Tweedy professors and be-sweatered Mary Oliver acolytes, right? Literary Death Match is not this mind-numbing affair. It’s competitive. It’s freaking edge-of-your-seat. And everyone’s drunk. Readers from four featured publications, either online or in print, do their thing for less than 10 minutes, and guest “celebrity” judges rip participants apart based on three categories: literary merit, performance, and “intangibles” (everything in between). Two finalists duke it out to the literary death until one hero is left standing, unless she or he’s been hitting up the bar between sets. Who needs reality television when we’ve got San Francisco’s version — one in which literary aspirations breed public humiliation, with the possibility of geeky bragging rights afterward?

Various locations.


Drag queens — is there nothing they can’t make a little brighter with their glittering presence? Squeeze a piece of coal hard enough between a perma-smiley tranny’s clenched cheeks and out pops cubic zirconium, dripping with sparkling bon mots. Yet not all gender illusionists go straight for ditzy comic gold or its silver-tongued twin, cattiness. Some “perform.” Others perform. And here we must pause to tip our feathery fedora to she who reps the platinum standard of awe-inspiring cross-dressing performance: Miss Juanita More. No mere Streisand-syncher, class-act Juanita dusts off overlooked musical nuggets of the past and gives them their shiny due. Despite punk-rock tribute trends and goth night explosions, Juanita’s focus stays primarily, perfectly, on that sublime subcultural slice of sonic history known formerly as “race music” and currently as R&B. Her dazzling production numbers utilize large casts of extras, several acts, and impeccable costumery that pays tribute to everything from Scott Joplin’s ragtime to Motown’s spangled sizzle, dirty underground ’70s funk to Patti LaBelle’s roof-raising histrionics. When she’s on spliff-passing point, as she so often is, her numbers open up a pulse-pounding window into other, more bootyful, worlds.


That cracked and funky dubstep sound surged through Clubland’s speakers last year, an irresistible combination of breakbeats energy, dub wooziness, sly grime, intel glitch, and ragga relaxation. Many parties took the sound into uncharted waters, infusing it with hip-hop hooks, Bollywood extravaganza, roots rock swing, or “world music” folksiness. But only one included all those variations simultaneously, while pumping local and international live acts, fierce visuals, multimedia blowouts, and an ever-smiling crowd of rainbow-flavored fans: Surya Dub, a monthly lowdown hoedown at Club Six. The Surya crew, including perennial Bay favorites DJ Maneesh the Twister and Jimmy Love, and wondrous up-and-comers like Kush Arora, Kid Kameleon, DJ Amar, Ripley, and MC Daddy Frank on the mic, describes its ass-thumping sound as “dread bass,” which moves beyond wordy genre description into a cosmic territory the rumble in your eardrums can surely attest to. Surya Dub keeps it in the community, too, helping to promote a growing network of citywide dubstep events and spreading their dread bass gospel with parties in India.


Very few things in this world are gay enough to warrant the Nor Cal Barney modifier “hella,” but for tattooed karaoke-master Porkchop’s sort-of-monthly series at Thee Parkside, Porkchop Presents, the term seems an understatement. At least three times a season, the mysterious Porkchop gathers her posse of scruffy boozehounds and butt-rockin’ hipsters to the best little dive bar in Potrero for a daylong celebration of the gayest shit on earth. Past events have included Hella Gay Karaoke, Hella Gay Jell-O Wrestling, a Hella Gay Beer Bust, and the all-encompassing nod to gaydom, Something Hella Gay, an ongoing event during which gay folks go drink-for-drink to see who’s the gayest of them all. Join Porkchop and her crew of lowbrow beer snobs at Thee Parkside for arm wrestling competitions, tattoo-offs, and hella gay sing-along battles. You probably won’t win anything because the competition is so stiff and the rules are so lax, but you can rest assured that the smell of stale cigarettes, cheap beer, and sweaty ass will stay in your clothes for at least a week after the show. And that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?

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,


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,


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,


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,


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,


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,


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,


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,


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,


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,


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.


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,


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,


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.


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,


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,


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,


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,


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,


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,


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,

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, 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,


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,


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,


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,


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,


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.


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,


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.


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

Best of the Bay 2009: Classics


Editors Picks: Classics


Hey, are you gonna eat that? If the answer is “no,” and you have a commercial kitchen of any kind, call Food Runners, the nonprofit associated with Tante Marie’s Cooking School and its matriarch at the helm, Mary Risley. The volunteer-powered organization picks up leftovers from caterers, delis, festival vendors, hotels, farmers markets, cafeterias, restaurants, and elsewhere, and delivers still-fresh edibles to about 300 soup kitchens and homeless shelters. For more than 30 years, everything from fresh and frozen foods such as produce, meat, and dairy, to uneaten boxed lunches and trays of salads and hot food, to pantry staples ordered overzealously and nearing expiration has been saved from the compost heap and delivered to those who could use a free meal or some gratis groceries. The result has yielded untold thousands of meals and a complete cycle that reduces food waste, feeds the hungry, and preserves resources all around.

(415) 929-1866,


Remember those freaky goth kids your church leaders warned you against in high school? The ones who wore black lipstick, shaved off all their eyebrows, and worshipped Darkness? Well, they grew up, moved to San Francisco, and got really effin’ hot. If you don’t believe it, head to the comfortingly named Death Guild party at DNA Lounge. Every Monday night, San Francisco’s sexiest goths (and baby goths — this party is 18+) climb out of their coffins and don their snazziest black vinyl bondage pants for this beastly bacchanal, which has decorated our nightlife with leather corsets and studded belts since 1992. And even if you dress more like Humbert Humbert than Gothic Lolita, the Guild’s resident DJs will have you industrial-grinding to Sisters of Mercy, Front 242, Bauhaus, Throbbing Gristle, and Ministry. Death Guild’s Web site advises: “Bring a dead stiff squirrel and get in free.” Free for you, maybe, but not for the squirrel.

Mondays, 9:30 p.m., $5. DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., SF. (415) 626-1409.


A completely adorable acting troupe made up of schoolteachers and schoolteacher look-alikes, the Children’s Theatre Association of San Francisco — a cooperative project of the Junior League of San Francisco, the San Francisco Board of Education, and the San Francisco Opera and Ballet companies — has been stomping the boards for 75 years. What the players may lack in Broadway-caliber showmanship, they widely make up for with enthusiasm, handcrafted costumes and sets, and heart. For decades, the troupe has entertained thousands of public school students during its seasonal run every January and February at the Florence Gould Theater in the Palace of Legion of Honor. This year’s production was a zany take on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” which included a wisecracking mirror and rousing original songs. We applaud the CTASF’s bravery for taking on some of the toughest critics in the business — those who will squirm and squawk if the show can’t hold their eye.


We’re not sure if you can get a lube job at Kahn and Keville Tire and Auto Service, located on the moderately sketchy corner of Turk and Larkin. And if you can, we can’t vouch for the overall quality, or relative price point of the procedure. But the main reason we can’t say is also why we love the place so much. Instead of sensibly using the giant Kahn and Keville marquee to advertise its sales and services, the 97-year-old business has been using it since 1959 to educate the community with an array of quotations culled from authors as varied as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Gore Vidal — plus occasional shout-outs to groups it admires, such as the Quakers during their peace vigils a block away. Originally collected by founder Hugh Keville, the quotes range in tone from the political to the inspirational and tongue-in-cheek, and the eye-catching marquee was once described by Herb Caen as the city’s “biggest fortune cookie.”

500 Turk, SF. (415) 673-0200,


The cozy Molinari Delicatessen in North Beach has been in business since 1896, just enough time to figure out that the secret to a really kick-ass sandwich is keeping it simple — but not too simple. The little piece of heaven known as the Molinari Special starts with tasty scraps, all the odds and ends of salamis, hams, and mortadella left over from the less adventurous sandwiches ordered by the customers who came before you. The cheese of your choice comes next, topped generously with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, roasted red peppers, and even pepperoncini, if you ask nicely. As for bread: we’re partial to Dutch crunch, but rosemary, soft white, and seeded rolls are available. Ecco panino: you get a sandwich approximately as big as a baby’s head — for only $6.25. It’s never quite the same item twice, but always sublime.

Molinari Delicatessan, 373 Columbus, SF. (415) 421-2337


Most clothes turn to garbage over time — but there are a few notable exceptions, timeless garments that actually gain value after being used up, tossed aside, and then rediscovered. Leather jackets are like that, so are cowgirl dresses and butt rock T-shirts. But none of that stuff maintains its integrity, or becomes more appealing when salvaged, like a great pair of jeans. And there’s no place more in tune with this concept than the Bay Area. Why? Well, it’s easy to say that we lead the thrifting pack simply because denim apparel was born here, but the truth is that we wouldn’t be anywhere without Berkeley’s denim guru, Carla Bell, who’s been reselling Levi’s and other denim products for 30 years. What began as a side project in Bell’s garage has grown into a palace of fine thrifting: Slash Denim the first and last stop when it comes to pre-worn pants and other new and used articles of awesome.

2840 College, Berk. (510) 841-7803,


When you think about baseball and food, hot dogs inevitably come to mind, but that’s just because marketers have been pumping them at stadiums for decades. Real baseball fans can see through the bull. Sure, they might shove a wiener in their mouth every now and again out of respect for tradition. But when a true fan gets hungry, she or he wants real food, not mystery meat. Baseball-themed restaurant and bar Double Play — which sits across from the former site of Seals Stadium and is celebrating its 100th birthday this year — makes a point of thinking outside the bun. D.P.’s menu features everything from pancakes and burritos to seafood fettuccine and steak, with nary a dog in sight. Otherwise, the place is as hardcore balling as it gets. Ancient memorabilia decks the walls, television sets hang from the ceiling, and the backroom contains a huge mural depicting a Seals versus Oakland Oaks game — you can eat lunch on home plate.

2401 16th St., SF. (415) 621-9859


Most small businesses fail within the first year of operation, so you know if a spot’s been around a while it must be doing something right. For Schubert’s Bakery that something is cakes and they’ve been doing them for almost 100 years. To say they’re the best, then, is a bit of an understatement. When you purchase a cake from the sweet staff at Schubert’s, what you’re really getting is 98 years’ worth of cake-making wisdom brought to life with eggs, sugar, flour, and some good old S.F. magic. Schubert’s doesn’t stop with cakes — no way. There are cherry and apple tarts, pies, coffee cakes, Danish pastries, croissants, puff pastries, scones, muffins, and more. If it’s sinfully delicious, Schubert’s has your back. Just be careful not to peruse their menu in the aftermath of a breakup or following the loss of a job. Schubert’s may seem nice and sugary on the outside, but it gets a sick thrill out of sticking you where it hurts: your gut.

521 Clement, SF. (415) 752-1580,


If you compete in a category where you’re the only contestant, does it still matter if you win? In the case of the Xanadu Gallery building, yes, it does. The building that houses the gallery is Frank Lloyd Wright’s only work in San Francisco and provides a fascinating glimpse of him evolving into a legendary architect. The structure’s most prominent feature is the spiral ramp connecting its two floors, a surprisingly organic structure that reminds viewers of the cochlear rotunda of a seashell and presages Wright’s famous design for New York’s Guggenheim Museum. Visitors are delighted and surprised upon entering the Maiden Lane building, as a rather small and cramped walkway into the gallery expands into an airy, sun-filled dome: the effect is like walking out from a dark tunnel into a puff of light. The Xanadu Gallery itself features an extensive collection of international antiquities, which perfectly complements this ambitious yet classic gem.

140 Maiden Lane, SF. (415) 392-9999,


As the poor departed King of Pop would say, “Just beat it” — to ultimate Beat hangout Caffe Trieste in North beach, that is. And while Pepsi was the caffeinated beverage that set Michael Jackson aflame, we’re hot for Trieste’s lovingly created coffee drinks. Founded in 1956 by Giovanni “Papa Gianni” Giotta, who had recently moved here from Italy, Trieste was the first place in our then low-energy burg to offer espresso, fueling many a late night poetry session, snaps and bongos included. Still a favored haunt of artists and writers, Trieste — which claims to be the oldest coffeehouse in San Francisco — augments the strident personal dramas of its Beat ghosts with generous helpings of live opera, jazz, and Italian folk music. You may even catch a member of the lively Giotta family crooning at the mic, or pumping a flashy accordion as part of Trieste’s long-running Thursday night or Saturday afternoon concert series. Trieste just opened a satellite café in the mid-Market Street area, which could use a tasty artistic renaissance of its own.

601 Vallejo, SF. (415) 392-6739; 1667 Market, SF. (415) 551-1000,


We’re fans of the entire range of incredible dance offerings in the Bay, from new and struggling companies to the older, more established ones (which are also perpetually struggling.) But we’ve got to give tutu thumbs up to the San Francisco Ballet for making it for 76 years and still inspiring the city to get up on its toes and applaud. Those who think the SF Ballet is hopelessly encrusted in fustiness have overlooked its contemporary choreography programs as well as its outreach to the young and queer via its Nite Out! events. For those who complain about the price of tickets, check out the ballet’s free performance at Stern Grove Aug. 16. This year the company brought down the house when it performed Balanchine’s “Jewels” (a repertory mainstay) in New York. We also have to give it up for one of the most important (yet taken for granted) element of the ballet’s productions: the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, which provides the entrancing accompaniment to the oldest ballet company in America.


If the Spinsters of San Francisco have anything to say about it, spinsterhood isn’t the realm of old women who cultivate cat tribes and emit billows of dust when they sneeze. Instead it’s all about stylish young girls who throw sparkling galas, plan happy hours, organize potlucks, and do everything in their power to have a grand ol’ time in the name of charitable good. Founded alongside the Bachelors of San Francisco, the Spinsters first meeting was held in 1929. In the eight decades that followed, the Spinsters evolved into a philanthropic nonprofit that supports aid organizations and channels funds back to the community. Specifications for prospective spinsters are quite rigorous: applicants must be college-educated, unmarried, and somewhere in the prized age bracket of 21 to 35. At the end of the year, members decide by ballot vote to heap their wealth and plenty into the coffers of a single chosen charity. Past recipients include City of Dreams, the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, and the Center for the Education of the Infant Deaf.


Situated on the shore of Lake Merritt in Oakland, the Scottish Rite Center boasts hand-carved ceilings, grand staircases, and opulent furnishings — hardly the typical ambiance of your average convention center. But if the ornate woodwork isn’t enough to distract you from whatever you came to the center to learn about, its history should: following San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake, the East Bay saw a population explosion that quickly outgrew Oakland’s first Masonic temple and led to cornerstone laying ceremonies at this shoreline site in 1927. Today the center’s ballroom, catering facilities, and full-service kitchens — along with an upstairs main auditorium and one of the deepest stages in the East Bay — make it a favorite setting for weddings and seminars. It’s also the perfect place to wonder how many ghosts crawl out of the woodwork at night, and trace the carved wooden petals that decorate the hallways with the tip of a chilly finger.

1547 Lakeside Dr., Oakl. (510) 451-1903,


For more than seven decades, the name Manis has meant that a jewel of a jewelry store was in the neighborhood. Lou Manis opened Manis Jewelers in l937 at l856 Mission St. Three months after the Kennedy assassination in l963, he moved the store to 258 West Portal Ave. Manis Jewelers is still at this location, still a classic family-owned store with an excellent line of watches and jewelry, and still offers expert watch and clock repair, custom design, and reliable service. Best of all, that service is always provided by a Manis. Lou, now 89, retired six years ago, but his son Steve operates the store and provides service so friendly that people drop by regularly just to chat. Steve’s daughter, Nicole, works in the store on Saturdays, changing batteries in watches and waiting on customers. She was preceded in the store by her two older sisters, Anna and Kathleen, and Steve’s niece and nephew.

258 West Portal Ave., SF. (415) 681-6434


Since 1984, the Holocaust Memorial at the Palace of the Legion of Honor has been a contemplative and sad reminder of one of the biggest genocides in human history. The grouping of sculptures — heart-wrenching painted bronze figures trapped and collapsed behind a barbed-wire fence — sits alongside one of the city’s most breathtaking views and greatest example of European-style architecture. Yet it has never, in our opinion, fully received its due as an important art piece and historical marker. The memorial was designed by George Segal, a highly decorated artist awarded numerous honorary degrees and a National Medal of Honor in 1999. Chances are that many Legion of Honor patrons — plus the myriad brides posed in front of the palace’s pillars for their photo shoot — overlook this stark homage to the six million people exterminated by the Nazis during World War II. But it’s always there as a reminder that as we look to the future, we must remember the past.

100 34th Ave., SF.

Best of the Bay 2009: Readers Poll Winners


Readers Poll — Food and Drink


Chez Panisse

1517 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 548-5525,



542 Grand, Oakl. (510) 452-9500,


Cafe Flore

2298 Market, SF. (415) 621-8579,


King of Thai

Various locations


Taqueria Cancun

Various locations


Cha Cha Cha

1801 Haight, SF. (415) 386-7670; 2327 Mission, SF. (415) 824-1502,


Blowfish Sushi to Die For

2170 Bryant, SF. (415) 285-3848,



3621 18th St., SF. (415) 552-4055,


La Mediterranee

Various locations,



955 Valencia, SF. (415) 642-3672; 1700 Fillmore, SF. (415) 441-3672,


La Mar Cebicheria

Pier 1 ½, SF. (415) 397-8880,


Slanted Door

1 Ferry Building, Suite 5, SF. (415) 861-8032,


Little Star

846 Divisadero, SF. (415) 441-1118; 400 Valencia, SF. (415) 551-7827,


Mr. Pickles

Various locations,



500 Presidio, SF. (415) 441-5669,


San Francisco Soup Company

Various locations,



Various locations,


Big Nate’s

1665 Folsom, SF. (415) 861-4242



Building A, Fort Mason Center, SF. (415) 771-6222,



1525 Pine, SF. (415) 673-8268,



1 Mission, SF. (415) 543-6084,


Tu Lan

8 Sixth St., SF. (415) 626-0927,



200 Jackson, SF. (415) 981-0983,


Mission Pie

2901 Mission, SF. (415) 282-1500,


Gary Danko

800 North Point, SF. (415) 749-2060,



580 Geary, SF. (415) 345-3900,


Café Gratitude

Various locations,


Blue Bottle

Various locations,



1351 Church, SF. (415) 648-5895,


Broken Record

1166 Geneva, SF. (415) 963-1713,



2490 Third Street, SF. (415) 401-8984,



547 Haight, SF. (415) 863-2276,



1725 Haight, SF. (415) 666-0822,



199 Valencia, SF. (415) 255-7505



600 Guerrero, SF. (415) 487-2600,


Drewes Bros. Meats

1706 Church, SF. (415) 821-0515,



1504 Shattuck, Berkeley. (510) 549-3183,



1 Ferry Building, Suite 30, SF. (415) 834-9494,


Ferry Plaza

1 Ferry Building, SF. (415) 983-8000,


Farm Fresh to You

1 Ferry Building, Suite 9, SF. (415) 834-9981,

Readers poll — Arts and Nightlife


Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF. (415) 621-6120,


Red Vic

1727 Haight, SF. (415) 668-3994,


American Conservatory Theater

405 Geary, SF. (415) 749-2228,



351 Shotwell, SF. (415) 863-6606,


City Art Gallery

828 Valencia, SF. (415) 970-9900,


California Academy of Sciences

55 Music Concourse Dr., SF. (415) 379-8000,


Jacinta Vlach


Root Division

3175 17th St., SF. (415) 863-7668,


Stephen Elliot


Hamburger Eyes


Last Gasp

777 Florida, SF. (415) 824-6636,


Six Degrees


DNA Lounge

375 11th St., SF. (415) 626-1409,


Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF. (415) 626-4455,


Club Six

60 Sixth St., SF. (415) 863-1221,



510 Embarcadero West, Oakl. (510) 238-9200; 1330 Fillmore, SF. (415) 655-5600,


Cafe Cocomo

650 Indiana, SF. (415) 824-6910,


Thee Parkside

1600 17th St., SF. (415) 252-1330,



401 Sixth St., SF. (415) 646-0999,


El Rio

3158 Mission, SF. (415) 282-3325,


500 Club

500 Guerrero, SF. (415) 861-2500,


Bourbon and Branch

501 Jones, SF. (415) 931-7292,


Edinburgh Castle

950 Geary, SF. (415) 885-4074,


Lucky 13

2140 Market, SF. (415) 487-1313


The Mint

1942 Market, SF. (415) 626-4726,




Lexington Club

3464 19th St., SF. (415) 863-2052,



1081 Post, SF. (415) 474-3482,


Kitten on the Keys




DJ Earworm






Smash-Up Derby


Richie Panic


Twilight Vixen Revue




Marga Gomez




Mondays at Hotel Utah

500 Fourth St., SF. (415) 546-6300,


Writers with Drinks

Readers Poll — Outdoors and Sports


San Francisco Giants


B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls


Mission Cliffs

2295 Harrison, SF. (415) 550-0515,


Yoga Tree

Various locations,


Cheryl Burke

1830 17th St., SF. (415) 252-9000,


AT&T Park

24 Willie Mays Plaza, SF. (415) 972-2000


Sports Basement

500 Bryant, SF. (415) 575-3000; 610 Old Mason, SF. (415) 437-0100,



Various locations,


Valencia Cyclery

1065 and 1077 Valencia, SF. (415) 550-6600,


Christabel Zamor


Potrero del Sol

25th Street and Utah, SF


Rossi Pool

600 Arguello, SF. (415) 666-7014


Linda Mar


Land’s End


Baker Beach


Stinson Beach


Crissy Field


Dolores Park


Golden Gate Park


Fort Funston


Angel Island


Twin Peaks


Ocean Beach


Mt. Tamalpais


Bernal Hill

Readers Poll — Shopping


Green Apple Books and Music

506 Clement, SF. (415) 387-2272,


Green Apple Books and Music


Green Arcade

1680 Market, SF. (415) 431-6800,



326 Fell, SF. (415) 621-6543,


Fog City News

455 Market, SF. (415) 543–7400,



1855 Haight, SF. (415) 831-1200; 2455 Telegraph, Berk. (415) 549-1225,




Le Video

1231 Ninth Ave., SF. (415) 566-3606,



Various locations,


Sui Generis

2265 Market, SF. (415) 437-2265,



1306 Castro, SF. (415) 641-6192,


Colleen Mauer

3361 Mission, SF. (415) 637-7762,


La Rosa

1711 Haight, SF. (415) 668-3744


City Optix

2145 Chestnut, SF. (415) 921-1188; 1685 Haight, SF. (415) 626-1188,


Out of the Closet

Various locations,


Shoe Biz

Various locations,



555 Hayes, SF. (415) 701-7767,


Community Thrift

623 Valencia St. (415) 861-4910,


Alameda Flea Market

2100 Ferry Point, Suite 100, Alameda. (510) 522-7500,


Cole Hardware

Various locations,


The Ark

Various locations,


Natural Resources

1367 Valencia, SF. (415) 550-2611,


B&B Pets

4820 Geary, SF. 1-866-476-7734,


Five and Diamond

510 Valencia, SF. (415) 255-9747,


Rainbow Grocery

1745 Folsom, SF. (415) 863-0620,

Readers Poll — Sex and Romance


Chez Spencer

82 14th St., SF. (415) 864-2191,


Eros Guide


Dolores Park Café

501 Dolores, SF. (415) 621-2936,


Foreign Cinema

2534 Mission, SF. (415) 648-7600,


Hot Tubs on Van Ness

2200 Van Ness, SF. (415) 441-8827,


The Bitter End

441 Clement, SF. (415) 221-9538


Dark Garden

321 Linden, SF. (415) 431-7684,


City Hall

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, SF. (415) 554-6068,


Piedmont Springs

3939 Piedmont, Oakland. (510) 652-9191,


Church Street Flowers

212 Church, SF. (415) 553-7762,


Dossie Easton

406 16th Ave., SF. (415) 752-7455,


Dollhouse Bettie

1641 Haight, SF. (415) 252 7399,


Good Vibrations

Various locations,


Mr. S and Madame S.

385 Eighth St., SF. (415) 863-9447,,


Folsom Gulch

947 Folsom, (415) 495-6402


Lusty Lady

1033 Kearny, SF. (415) 391-3126,



2051 Market, SF. (415) 255-4921,



1347 Folsom, SF. (415) 552-8689,


Center for Sex and Culture

1519 Mission, SF. (415) 255-1155,


Violet Blue

Readers Poll — City Living


Muni Diaries


Broke Ass Stuart’s Goddamn Website


Idexa at Black and Blue

381 Guerrero, SF. (415) 626-0770,


Black Heart

177 Valencia, SF. (415) 431-2100,


Gavin Newsom

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 200, SF. (415) 554-6141,


Gavin Newsom



2500 16th St., SF. (415) 554-3000,


Dana King, CBS 5

855 Battery St., SF. (415) 362-555,


Distortion 2 Static

570 Beale St, Suite 204, SF.


Energy, 92.7 FM

400 Second St., Suite 300, SF. (415) 356-1600,


Folsom Street Fair

965 Mission, Suite 200, SF. (415) 777-3247,


Mighty Dog Walking

(415) 235-5151,


Little Ark

748 14th St., SF. (415) 626-7574


Especially Cats

1339 Taraval, SF. (415)-681-5553,


Camp Galileo

Various locations,


Melissa Chavez, DDS

2460 Mission St. Suite 201, SF. (415) 821-0101


Erika Horowitz, ND

1615 20th St., SF. (415) 643-6600,


ACE Plumbing and Rooter

945 Taraval, Suite 201, SF. (415) 824-6333,


Wells Electrical

80 Duboce, SF. (415) 255-7831


Delancey Street Movers

600 Embarcadero, SF. (415) 512-5110,


Joshua Alexander, CMT

29 Saturn, SF.


Immune Enhancement Project

3450 16th St., SF. (415) 252-8711,


Art’s Automotive

2871 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. (510) 540-7093,


Box Dog Bikes

494 14th St., SF. (415) 431-9627,


Edo Salon

601 Haight, SF. (415) 861-0131,


Blue Turtle

57 West Portal, SF., 170 Columbus, SF. (415) 699-8494,


Haight Street Shoe Repair

1614 Haight, SF. (415) 565-6710


San Francisco Tailors

109 Geary, Suite M, SF. (415) 392-6611


Rocket Dog Rescue

(415) 642-4786,


Brain Wash

1122 Folsom, SF. (415) 431-9274,

Readers Poll — Classics



1658 Market, SF. (415) 552-2522,


Specs’ Twelve Adler Museum

12 William Saroyan Pl., SF. (415) 421-4112


San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus


Intersection for the Arts

446 Valencia, SF. (415) 626-3311,


City Lights

261 Columbus, SF. (415) 362-8193,


Golden Gate Bridge


Ferry Building


California Historical Society

678 Mission, SF. (415) 357-1848,


Dashiell Hammett


Ruth Asawa


Carlos Santana


Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon


Harvey Milk


“I Left My Heart in San Francisco”



Meet Lolita… and dig on New People’s Tokyo trends


Text and photos by Caitlin Donohue

Lolita 1 0110.JPG
“Sweet lolita” Maria Elena-Diaz is cute as a button shopping at SF’s new hotspot for Japanese subculture

It is rare that you see live baby dolls perusing the racks at an American mall. Abercrombie & Fitch just isn’t cornering the bonnet and bloomer market these days.

But- not to sound redundant- the Japanese do things differently. Case in point: New People, the newest import shopping center to open up in Japantown. It’s here that a subculture from the Empire of the Sun based on dressing like Strawberry Shortcake is finding new visibility in San Francisco.

New People is a vast complex of urban Japanese culture, housing five floors of various wonders and accoutrements. One story is devoted to art, a gallery showing sleekly interesting works in a variety of mediums from stuffed animal chandeliers to leaves rendered in ceramic. One floor’s all about film, now featuring a full month of movies about music in the basement theater. They’ve got a small café offering Blue Bottle coffee and bento boxes that encourages leisurely manga perusal and a vast selection of Japanese tchotchkes- smoke machines, psychedelic origami paper and brave vegetable action figures. But it’s their floor devoted to hard-to-find Japanese clothing labels that makes New People a truly unique place.

The mall is the home of Kyoto-based Sou Sou shoes- tabi footwear in stylee patterns reminiscent of children’s bedding with unusual, toe-cleaving designs. It is also the only west coast retailer of clothing brands Black Peace Now and Baby, The Stars Shine Bright– two O.G. names in the lolita/goth scene from Tokyo.

This Week’s Picks




Rhythm & Motion 30th Anniversary Dance Bash

If you’re really going to throw down on the dance floor this New Year’s Eve, it’s time to train, and there is no better time or place than the 30th birthday celebration of Rhythm and Motion, a center for global dance and dance workout created by Consuelo Faust. The events include team-taught, all-star master classes, an evening performance by the Rhythm and Motion teachers, and a dance party finale. Everyone is invited. (Johnny Ray Huston)

10 a.m.–midnight, free

ODC Dance Commons

351 Shotwell, SF

(415) 863-9830 x100



Legendary Los Angeles punk rockers X distinguished themselves from other bands of their era by honing the same searing energy that propelled their counterparts and adding the rock solid rhythms of DJ Bonebrake, the guitar virtuosity of Billy Zoom, and the poetic lyrics and intimate vocal interplay of John Doe and Exene Cervenka. This holiday season finds the band celebrating a “Merry Xmas,” having recently released new recordings of holiday favorites “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.” Despite Cervenka’s recent multiple sclerosis diagnosis, she and the band sound stronger than ever. They’re the perfect musical friends to help welcome in a rockin’ New Year. (Sean McCourt)

With Dave Gleason and the Golden Cadillacs (Wed.) and the Heavenly States (Thurs.)

9 p.m. (also Thurs/31), $31–$71


333 11th St., SF

(415) 255-0333



Boyz IV Men

Don’t be fooled: you might think this band altered their name in parodic jest, but really, it was just an evasive maneuver to throw everyone off while they continue campaigning under their banner of complicit subjection to everything that is male. Boyz IV Men like to think of it as being in the closet — a closet inside an even bigger closet. Their sound is of equal subterfuge: two of them play children’s keyboards with pinky fingers while the third cranks out aggressive, tantrum-driven disco beats. This is all to say that I also grow my beard out for every one of their shows. Spending NYE with a bunch of sweaty, hairy-chested boys and men? Count. Me. Down. (Spencer Young)

With 1.2..3 … Knife!, DJ Summer Camp, and B4M DJ Set

9 p.m., free

Five Points Art House

72 Tehama, SF

(415) 989-1166


“Quintessential Chaplin”

Things you could do tonight at the movie theater: visit an overstuffed multiplex, and suffer through something with the word “Squeakquel” in its title. What you should do instead: head to gorgeous Grace Cathedral for three Charlie Chaplin shorts with live organ accompaniment by Dorothy Papadakos. The bill compiles three movies from 1917: The Cure, in which the Little Tramp is a drunk on the mend; The Immigrant, in which he encounters immediate money woes upon landing in America; and The Adventurer, in which he’s an escaped convict. Classic shenanigans all, with nary a chipmunk in sight. (Cheryl Eddy)

7 and 10 p.m., $10–$15

Grace Cathedral

1100 California, SF

(415) 392-4400


Disco 2010 with Glass Candy

Mirror mirror, on the wall, which is the fairest disco NYE event of all? No question: it’s Disco 2010. Aside from some Popscene DJ spots, this is a showcase for the formidable Johnny Jewel, bringing two of his musical projects together on one bill. Most people know of Glass Candy and their aerobic appeal. Not as well-known and newer on the scene is Desire, whose debut recording on Italians Do it Better brought one of 2009’s catchiest and most haunting pop songs, “Don’t Call,” a four-minute breakup anthem that tapped into the “Billie Jean” backbeat before MJ’s death, adding a mournful but propulsive string arrangement to a tale of new independence. (Huston)

9 p.m., $45

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

(415) 861-2011



Supper Club’s Breakfast in Bed

I enjoy my bed. Comfortable, familiar, a place where everybody knows my name. But after this year’s fabulous New Year’s Eve carousing, how anticlimactic will it be to sink into the same old sheets? Luckily, I don’t have to, because Supper Club is planning a party. Breakfast in Bed includes a breakfast buffet, mimosas, the chain’s trademark mattress hangouts, and house beats that are respectful of the fact that this is probably not the first party you’ve gone to in the last 12 hours. For $140, you and three of your accomplices can even reserve your own bedstead, complete with pillow-side food and drink service. If you’re not a total hedonistic degenerate, you can go to bed when the ball drops and head out here sober to live vicariously through the hangovers of others. (Caitlin Donohue)

5–11 a.m., $10–$40

Supper Club

657 Harrison, SF

(415) 348-0900



“When Lives Become Form: Contemporary Brazilian Art, From the 1960s to the Present”

Kick off the new year with a blast of Technicolor via this traveling exhibition dedicated to the formidable and ever-morphing visual art and music phenom known as tropicália. With a range that extends from the Brazilian movement’s originator, Hélio Oiticica, to newer artists such as the pre-Ryan Trecartin and pre-Paper Rad color assaults of assume vivid astro focus, “When Lives Become Form” might make it a little easier to forgive Os Mutantes for that McDonald’s commercial. (Huston)

Noon-8 p.m. (through Jan. 31), $5–$7

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-2787



You, the Living

“Be pleased then, you the living, in your delightfully warmed bed, before Lethe’s ice-cold wave will lick your escaping foot.” This Goethe quote opens Roy Andersson’s You, the Living, the sequel to his 2000 tragicomedy Songs From the Second Floor. Composed of 50 absurdist vignettes, You, the Living does not transcend existential ennui; neither does it wallow in angst. Rather, it couples pain with love, portraying a bleakly comic world where despair and happiness carry the same weight. The palette of drab blues and yellows mimic the color of pills, and one could say the film serves as an advertisement for Prozac. The dissonant noise of sousaphones, bass drums, and banjos create an artifice of comedic musicality set against a backdrop of frumpy bedrooms, bars, and office buildings, where nothing really happens. Just everyday life. (Lorian Long)

2, 4, 7:15 and 9:20 p.m. (also Mon/4, 7:15 and 9:20 p.m.)

Red Vic Movie House

1727 Haight, SF

(415) 668-3994


Yoga and Ayurveda for Real Life

Here, tallied and totaled, is the approximate intake of the average festive individual over the last week: a cheese plate, a bite of questionable ham, three scoops of black-eyed peas, two pounds of turkey, 15 latkes with applesauce, 110 frosted cookies, a barely edible door off of some poor child’s gingerbread house, a carafe of mulled cider, six cups of eggnog, eight flutes of champagne, a half bottle of Jack Daniels, three trips to the mall after you said you weren’t going to go this year, and the guilt of getting a camera tripod from Aunt Sara when you sent her a very nice bar of soap. A few days late. Yes, your body hates you. Get back in its good graces with a class from one of the most affordable, least judging yoga/massage studios in the city. The Mindful Body’s Kate Lumsden is offering a tutorial on integrating yoga — back? — into your life for the new year, the perfect chance to feel centered again before Monday. (Donohue)

1–4 p.m., $35

The Mindful Body

2876 California, SF

(415) 931-2639


Hunx and His Punx, Brilliant Colors

The world was in need of a true gay Teen Beat pin-up, not a closeted one. Luckily, the fun and sexy Hunx came to the rescue, posing in a jockstrap splayed out on a bed filled with pop culture treasures. He’s made some great clips with music video wunderkind Justin Kelly, and his new LP Gay Singles (True Panther/Matador) is great front and back — as evidenced by its cover, which presents crotch-and-ass close-ups of zebra bikini briefs. Do your makeup, and then do someone at this show, which doubles the pop appeal with Slumberland girls Brilliant Colors. (Huston)

With Gun Outfit

9 p.m., $6

Hemlock Tavern

1131 Polk, SF

(415) 923-0923



Pirate Cat Radio Benefit Show

After 13 years of putting the “arr!” in radio (sorry, couldn’t resist), Pirate Cat Radio has officially been fucked by the FCC. The corporate whores slapped the unlicensed broadcast radio station with a $10,000 fine back in August, and gave founder Daniel K. Roberts (“Monkey”) 30 days to either pay up or challenge the fine. As Roberts fights to put Pirate back on the air, several benefit shows are being held to help save SF’s favorite renegade station. One such show will be at Bottom of the Hill, where local music cuties Hey Young Believer and Blood and Sunshine will play electropop alongside UK electronic artist Con Brio. (Long)

8:30 p.m., $9

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

(415) 621-4455



SFMOMA’s “Museum Highs, Museum Lows” film series continues the binary theme of last year’s film series “Vegas Highs, Vegas Lows,” but shifts locales. The Italian stallion, Mr. Balboa, starts things off, not just because he’s everyone’s favorite underdog — and thus the perfect archetype for overcoming the terrible economy — but because he’s enshrined in bronze at the top of the Philadelphia MoMA’s steps. The thought behind this whole “High/Low” dichotomy is in line with camp — so bad it’s good — so perhaps SFMOMA’s is out to reverse Philly MoMA’s embarrassment about the statue. But who cares about that damned thing? It’s Rocky’s will to survive that we want to see. (Young)

Noon, free

Phyllis Wattis Theater

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

151 Third St., SF

(415) 357-4400

New Year’s relief


SONIC REDUCER Ah, if only one could give the gift of foresight, how many of us would just throw in the towel, ditch the bitching squeeze, and descend into a netherworld of never-again when faced with the prospect of a dubious New Year’s Eve celebration? Oh, the effing pressure to perform, to live it up and to have a ball, especially when booting out a good-riddance-already year like ’09.

Yet who wants to send it out with a whine rather than on a note of sublime? Who wants to crash to the curb rather than kicking it with joyful liberation and libation? Not I, La Reducer. So let me take the effort out of the forced merriment, remove the angst from the party ranks: here’s the best New Year’s Eve plan for everyone — no matter how magnificent or misguided, buttoned-up or taste-challenged they may be. Pick your NYE poison — then take two Advil and drink a big glass of water before you pass out during the warmed-over breakfast buffet the following morning, at the start of a new decade.

For my keeping-it-casual soul music maestro with a taste for the live jammies The Roots keep their distance from that adorable but far-too-desperate-to-please Jimmy Fallon for NYE and break out the deep originals, assisted by the sprawling SoCal Orgone, at this “sneakers required” beatdown. 9 p.m., $72–$95. Warfield, 982 Market, SF.

For our favorite mulleted hesherette, forever in acid-washed blue jeans Jump on your bad motor scooter — Montrose is totally bringing some rock candy to Avalon, the same Silly-con nightspot that came through with Y&T last year. With Voyeur and Terry Lauderdale. 8 p.m. doors, $35 advance. 777 Lawrence Expressway, Santa Clara.

For your too-cool coworker with the asymmetrical crop and the skinniest jeggings on the block Too hep to 12 step? Glass Candy’s nouveau disco darlings Ida No and Johnny Jewel make you wanna strive for the next level in awesome. With Desire. 9 p.m., $45. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF.

For that shy, retiring indie-rock cutie-pie with a sweetly sunken chest and a song in his heart His fave local indie rockers Morning Benders just signed onto Rough Trade for their next long-player, Big Echo. Time is now to trip on the new songs. With Miniature Tigers and A B and the Sea. 10 p.m., $20. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF.

For my vintage Bettie Page still mourning the passing of the lindy-hop revival Lee Presson and the Nails keep the antics on edge, alongside veteran Southland stompers Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys. And we’ll all wanna get a gander of the infamous Girl in the Fishbowl. With Project: Pimento and the Cottontails. 8 p.m. doors, $60. Bimbo’s 365 Club, 1025 Columbus, SF.

For our indie hip-hop homes with a penchant for a smoking party Devin the Dude wants to put you at ease and bring you home in one piece — blunts and brews intact. 9 p.m., $20. Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck, Berk.

For that indie kid with a wild streak and a secret love of FM radio Local up-and-comers Audrye Sessions might be just the ticket to check out, while Hottub bid y’all to jump in and test its waters. With Soft White Sixties and Manatee. 9 p.m., $12–$15. Uptown, 1928 Telegraph, Oakl.

For your art-jam darling with a proggish spirit Chop-chop to the multitalented NorCal player Les Claypool. 9 p.m., $59.50. Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF.

For my Southern crust-vamp with a pointy-toed bootie in both the burner and retro-gypsy camps Squirrel Nut Zippers skirt the definable before sinking teensy-tiny incisors into a kind of bluesy cabaret. With Steve Soto and the Twisted Hearts. 9:30 p.m., $65. Café du Nord, 2170 Market, SF.

For that up-for-anything music fan in the mood to shake his milky bottom line You’re down with anything, as long as it’s got a groove or a bit of blue-eyed soul — so get thee to Bay-bred Brett Dennen, A.L.O., and SambaDA, all determined to get the party ‘tarded. 8 p.m., $40–$50. Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph, Oakl.

FAIR: The 2009 P.U.-Litzer Awards


FAIR, the national media watch group, has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986.

The 2009 P.U.-Litzer Awards

For 17 years our colleagues Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon have worked with FAIR to present the P.U.-Litzers, a year-end review of some of the stinkiest examples of corporate media malfeasance, spin and just plain outrageousness.

Starting this year, FAIR has the somewhat dubious honor of reviewing the nominees and selecting the winners. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. So, without further ado, we present the 2009 P.U.-Litzers.

–The Remembering Reagan Award
WINNER: Joe Klein, Time

Time columnist Joe Klein (12/3/09), not altogether impressed by Obama’s announcement of a troop escalation in Afghanistan, wrote that a president “must lead the charge–passionately and, yes, with a touch of anger.”

He described the better way to do this:

Ronald Reagan would have done it differently. He would have told a story. It might not have been a true story, but it would have had resonance. He might have found, or created, a grieving spouse–a young investment banker whose wife had died in the World Trade Center–who enlisted immediately after the attacks…and then gave his life, heroically, defending a school for girls in Kandahar. Reagan would have inspired tears, outrage, passion, a rush to recruiting centers across the nation.

Ah, Reagan–now there was a president who could inspire people to fight and die based on lies.

–The Cheney 2012 Award
WINNER: Jon Meacham, Newsweek

Newsweek editor Jon Meacham declared (12/7/09) that Dick Cheney running for president in 2012 would be “good for the Republicans and good for the country.” He explained that “Cheney is a man of conviction, has a record on which he can be judged, and whatever the result, there could be no ambiguity about the will of the people…. A campaign would also give us an occasion that history denied us in 2008: an opportunity to adjudicate the George W. Bush years in a direct way.”

While the 2008 election might have seemed a sufficient judgment of the Bush years, it’s worth pointing out that at beginning of the year (1/19/09), Meacham was adamantly opposed to re-hashing Cheney’s record, calling it “the rough equivalent of pornography–briefly engaging, perhaps, but utterly predictable and finally repetitive.” The difference? That was in response to the idea that Cheney should be held accountable for lawbreaking. Apparently a few months later, the same record is grounds for a White House run.

–The Them Not Us Award
WINNER: Martin Fackler, New York Times

The New York Times (11/21/09) describes the severe problems with Japan’s elite media–a horror show where “reporters from major news media outlets are stationed inside government offices and enjoy close, constant access to officials. The system has long been criticized as antidemocratic by both foreign and Japanese analysts, who charge that it has produced a relatively spineless press that feels more accountable to its official sources than to the public. In their apparent reluctance to criticize the government, the critics say, the news media fail to serve as an effective check on authority.”

The mind reels.

–The Thin-Skinned Pundits Award
WINNER: Dana Milbank, Washington Post

Washington Post reporters Dana Milbank and Chris Cilizza got into trouble when, in an episode of their “Mouthpiece Theater” web video series, they suggested brands of beer that would be appropriate for various politicians. What would Hillary Clinton drink? Apparently something called “Mad Bitch.” The video, unsurprisingly, was roundly criticized, and was pulled from the Post site. So what lesson was learned? Milbank complained (8/6/09) that “it’s a brutal world out there in the blogosphere…. I’m often surprised by the ferocity out there, but I probably shouldn’t be.”

Yes, the problem with calling someone a “bitch” is the “ferocity” of your critics.

–The Sheer O’Reillyness Award
WINNER: Bill O’Reilly, Fox News Channel–TWICE!

1) Asked by a Canadian viewer, “Has anyone noticed that life expectancy in Canada under our health system is higher than the USA?,” Fox’s O’Reilly (7/27/09) responded: “Well, that’s to be expected, Peter, because we have 10 times as many people as you do. That translates to 10 times as many accidents, crimes, down the line.”

2) Drumming up fear of Democrats’ tax plans: “Nancy Pelosi and her far-left crew want to raise the top federal tax rate to 45 percent. That’s not capitalism. That’s Fidel Castro stuff, confiscating wages that people honestly earn.”

Perhaps Castro was president of the United States in 1982-86, when the top rate was 50 percent. Or maybe all of the 1970s, when it was 70 percent. Or from 1950-63, when it was 91 percent.

–The Less Talk, More Bombs Award
WINNER: David Broder, Washington Post

Post columnist Broder expressed the conventional wisdom on Barack Obama’s deliberations on the Afghanistan War, writing under the headline “Enough Afghan Debate” (11/15/09):

It is evident from the length of this deliberative process and from the flood of leaks that have emerged from Kabul and Washington that the perfect course of action does not exist. Given that reality, the urgent necessity is to make a decision–whether or not it is right.

–The Racism Is Dead Award
WINNER: Richard Cohen, Washington Post

Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote (5/5/09): “The justification for affirmative action gets weaker and weaker. Maybe once it was possible to argue that some innocent people had to suffer in the name of progress, but a glance at the White House strongly suggests that things have changed. For most Americans, race has become supremely irrelevant. Everyone knows this. Every poll shows this.”

For the record, “every poll” does not actually show this; the vast majority of Americans continues to recognize that racism is still a problem. Cohen went on to write months later–still presumably living in his racism-free world–that he did not believe Iran’s claims about its nuclear program, because “these Persians lie like a rug.”

–The When in Doubt, Talk to the Boss Award
WINNER: Matt Lauer, NBC News

Today show host Lauer announced a special guest on April 15: “If you really want to know how the economy is affecting the average American, he’s the guy to talk to.” Who was Lauer talking about? Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke. The ensuing interview touched on the Employee Free Choice Act, which Lauer noted was supported by many unions but opposed by some large corporations–leading him to ask Duke, “What’s the truth?” Yes, look for “the truth” about a proposed pro-labor bill from the new CEO of an adamantly anti-labor corporation.

–The Socialist Menace Award
WINNER: Michael Freedman, Newsweek

Newsweek’s “We Are All Socialists Now” cover (2/16/09) certainly turned heads, but one of the stories inside explained in more detail the real threat. As senior editor Michael Freedman asked: “Have you noticed that Barack Obama sounds more like the president of France every day?”

The real problem, though, is what that’s going to do to us Americans, says Freedman: “If job numbers continue to look dismal, or get even worse, an ever-greater number of people will start looking to the government for support…. It’s very easy to imagine a chorus of former American individualists demanding cushy French-style pensions and free British-style healthcare if their private stock funds fail to recover and unemployment inches upward toward 10 percent and remains there.”

Pensions and healthcare for all–this is worse than we thought!

–The Iraq All Over Again Award
WINNER: Too Many to Name

After the invasion of Iraq, countless journalists who had treated allegations about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction as facts were embarrassed when there were no such weapons to be found. So you’d think they’d be more careful about thinly sourced claims that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. But in 2009, many journalists are still willing to treat such allegations as facts.

-NBC’s Chris Matthews (10/4/09): “As if Afghanistan were not enough, now there’s Iran’s move to get nuclear weapons.”

-NBC’s David Gregory (10/4/09). “Iran–will talks push that country to give up its nuclear weapons program?”

-Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly (9/25/09): “All hell breaking loose as a new nuclear weapons facility is discovered in Iran, proving the mullahs have been lying for years…. Iran’s nuclear weapons program has now reached critical mass. And worldwide conflict is very possible. Friday, President Obama, British Prime Minister Brown and French President Sarkozy revealed a secret nuclear weapons facility located inside Iran.”

Some even went further, turning allegations of a nuclear weapons program into the discovery of actual nuclear weapons:

-ABC’s Good Morning America host Bill Weir (9/26/09): “President Obama and a united front of world leaders charge Iran with secretly building nuclear weapons.”

–The Talking Like a Terrorist Award
WINNER: Thomas Friedman, New York Times

In a January 14 column, New York Times superstar pundit Tom Friedman explained Israel’s war on Lebanon as an attempt to “educate” the enemy by killing civilians: The Israeli strategy was to “inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical.” Friedman added, “The only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians–the families and employers of the militants–to restrain Hezbollah in the future.” That strategy of targeting civilians to advance a political agenda is usually known as terrorism; Osama bin Laden couldn’t have explained it much better.

–The It Only Bothers Us Now Award
WINNER: Wall Street Journal editorial page

When Barack Obama only called on journalists from a list during a press conference, the Wall Street Journal did not like the new protocol (2/12/09):”We doubt that President Bush, who was notorious for being parsimonious with follow-ups, would have gotten away with prescreening his interlocutors.”

Actually, Bush was famous for calling only on reporters on an approved list; as he joked at a press conference on the eve of the Iraq War (3/6/03), “This is scripted.”

–The No Comment Award
WINNERS: MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski and Rush Limbaugh

When asked by Politico (10/16/09) to name her favorite guest, MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski named arch-conservative Pat Buchanan “because he says what we are all thinking.”

Rush Limbaugh on Obama (Fox News Channel, 1/21/09): “We are being told that we have to hope he succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles…because his father was black.”

Getting Xmas Twisted


SONIC REDUCER “I saw mommy fellating Santa Claus /Under balls so snowy white last night.”

Rude and crude — yes. But outrageous and sacrilegious — and worth stumbling out of the Las Vegas Hilton as fast as your aged legs can take you? Maybe. Though Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider gave us plenty of goofy warning that he was going there, giving us “the real story” — meaning his bawdy, rowdy rock ‘n’ roll story — behind the voyeuristic kicks of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” our last illusions were shattered, sorta, in the spirit of the gently taboo-busting song.

Ah, and so this is Vegas — just the place to use, abuse, and hock that illusion. The land of The Hangover, neon flash, and an expected and cheesy yet palpable air of convivial good cheer in the buffet line and beneath omnipresent the casino cameras, lurking amid the underutilized Millionaire’s Club slot machines.

“Mommy” was definitely one of the many highlights at Twisted Sister’s three-night stand “Twisted Christmas,” a mix of holiday classics with a goofy rock ‘n’ roll twist and yesteryear hits — the live successor to the group’s 2006 yuletide album of the same name. I had to tear myself away from the Kitty Glitter penny-slot amid the dated beige glam of the Hilton Elvis built, lured by post-show free margaritas and the reverently irreverent metal ‘tude promised by the band that hit it big at the Headbanger’s Ball with “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

We took in Dee Snider in full clown makeup (“Sarah Jessica Parker dipped in acid!” proclaimed guitarist-manager Jay Jay French, quoting the British press) and a black-and-hot-pink body suit entering in a sleigh drawn by dancers and vixens in skimpy Suicide Girl-wear, Twisted rewrites of holiday classics like the tweaked new last line of “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” (“Christ wa-ah-s a Jew!”), and predictable yuks like the mohawked and pantless Santa Satan who joked about adjusting his sack, or a “12 Heavy Metal Days of Christmas” that naturally included “eight pentagrams” and “five skull earrings.” That’s as satanic as matters got, and though the playing was at times a bit less than tight, the band’s original members were in impassioned form, getting in as many jokes at Ozzy’s expense as Santa’s.

As we watched dozens of likely comped retirees piling into their seats, my companion, Prof. Fluffenheimer, muttered to himself, “I wonder how many of these people will be leaving in the first 15 minutes.”

Lo, our entire row had pretty much cleared halfway into the hour-and-a-half concert — too bad, ’cause they missed the malevolent and very unmerry “Burn in Hell” and a fist-punching sing-along “I Wanna Rock,” which had the remaining metal heads and rockers, 40-something dad-ish fans in polo shirts, wrestling team sprats, Sarah Palin look-alikes, table tennis conventioneers, and sundry other Vegas casino crawlers all hollering “Rock!” in unison. Let’s say it wasn’t the total madhouse the Ramones inspired at the Stone back in the late ’80s. But it brought back those chestnut-toasty, black-leather memories when French and guitarist Eddie Ojeda, now seemingly recovered from his recent back surgery thanks to “massive hallucinogens,” riffed off the Brudders by working “Ho! Ho! Let’s go” into “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

All of which inspired me to fantasize about other Christmas musical extravaganzas that oughta be on every music fan’s list. I’m not talking about Andy Williams and Wynonna, who filled the Hilton theater after Twisted Sister had moved their raucous NYC rawker selves along. And American Idol grads don’t count, being programmed to perform the cheesiest song on hand, on command. How about a little Christmas cheer from these pop types?

Beyonce “Baby Boy” is readymade for a rejiggered “Santa Baby,” or at least a nativity scene featuring “Ave Maria” and “Halo.”

Lady Gaga Her platinum tresses make her a natural Christmas angel. “Boys Boys Boys” must be reappropriated as “Toys Toys Toys.”

Justin Timberlake Picture the Timberlad poking around for a yule log in his “SexySack”.

Kanye West Embracing the chill of West’s last album with songs like “Coldest Winter,” this holiday should look ahead to the New Year by ringing it in KaNYE style. After the graduate gets in a scuffle with Santa, the show ends with a contrite, winged West delivering a bushel of MTV Video Music Awards to a virginal Taylor Swift.

Bridges abides


FILM “Oh, I love Jeff Bridges!” is the usual response when his name comes up every few years for Best Actor consideration, usually via some underdog movie no one saw, and the realization occurs that he’s never won an Oscar. (Unlike, say, Roberto Benigni.) It is often said with a guilty-sigh undertone otherwise reserved for neglected relatives or loyal but inconvenient friends — people you know you shouldn’t keep forgetting about.

The oversight is painful because it could be argued that no leading American actor has been more versatile, consistently good, and true to that elusive concept “artistic integrity” than Bridges over the last 40 years. When you think about more conspicuous “great” screen actors of his generation — DeNiro, Nicholson, Pacino, Hoffman — it’s hard to deny that they’ve long since fallen into shtick, caricature, and somnambulism in mostly unworthy vehicles, occasionally showing a flash of prime alertness.

Whereas Bridges never rested on his laurels, or lack thereof. Of course he had a great ’70s — who didn’t? — in movies widely acclaimed (1972’s Fat City, 1971’s The Last Picture Show), fascinatingly quirky (1976’s Stay Hungry, 1975’s Rancho Deluxe and Hearts of the West, 1974’s Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, 1979’s Winter Kills), or just lucky to have him (the ’76 King Kong, 1978 Farrah Fawcett vehicle Somebody Killed Her Husband).

But while other stars caved to the more formulaic commerciality of the 1980s and onward, Jeff Bridges managed his career as before, mixing rare commercial hits (1985’s Jagged Edge, 1991’s The Fisher King, and 1984’s Starman — in which he’s an alien sweeter and surely sexier than E.T.) with mainstream bunts (1996’s The Mirror Has Two Faces, 1996’s White Squall, 1982’s beloved TRON). Not to mention the many, variably unpopular, cult-accruing smaller films he’s spectacular in: Cutter’s Way (1981), American Heart (1992), Fearless (1993), The Big Lebowski (1998), Simpatico (1999), and The Door in the Floor (2004). All Oscar-worthy performances, but Oscar seldom embraces flops, sleepers, and critics’ case-pleadings — the latest of which would be Crazy Heart.

It’s rumored this movie was slotted for cable or DVD premiere, then thrust into late-year theater release in hopes of attracting Best Actor momentum within a crowded field. (It’s a much more paltry year for actresses, as usual). Lucky for us, this performance shouldn’t be overlooked. Bridges plays “Bad” Blake, a veteran country star reduced to playing bars with local pickup bands. His slide from grace hasn’t been helped by lingering tastes for smoke and drink, let alone five defunct marriages.

In Houston he meets Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal), freelance journalist, fan, and single mother. They spark; though burnt by prior relationships, she’s reluctant to take seriously a famous drunk twice her age — even if he charms both mom and four-year-old tyke (the improbably named Jack Nation). Can Bad handle even this much responsibility?

Meanwhile, he gets his “comeback” break in the semi-humiliating form of opening for Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell) — a ponytailed, stadium-playing contemporary country superstar who was once Bad’s backup boy. Tommy offers a belated shot at commercial redemption; Jean offers redemption of the strictly personal kind.

Bridges and Farrell can both really sing. (The former has long been a singer-songwriter-guitarist, though a pretty dull one.) Robert Duvall can’t, but then as producer and excellent support player (Bad’s old barkeep friend), he’s allowed some self-indulgence.

There’s nothing too surprising about the ways in which Crazy Heart both follows and finesses formula. You’ve seen this preordained road from wreckage to redemption before. But actor turned first-time director Scott Cooper’s screenplay honors the flies in the windshield inherited from Thomas Cobb’s novel.

As does Bridges, needless to say. Here he’s fleshy, hairy, wheezy — well-intentioned, but charming and untrustworthy at once. He rules an otherwise ordinary film like Mickey Rourke did 2008’s The Wrestler. But here’s guessing the relative lack of flamboyance (or salvation from the skids) won’t do Jeff Bridges similar favors. Again.

CRAZY HEART opens Fri/25 in San Francisco.

Swans, symmetry, and sensations


DANCE Looking back over a year’s dance performances feels like reading a horoscope backward. Were there surprises, disappointments, new loves, emerging trends, familiar encounters, and reasons for hope and despair? Of course. Perhaps the best part of this yearly exercise is that it allows works to bubble up that for one reason or another — quality, daring, perspective, innovation — stuck in the mind. You want to see them again. Some, you actually will. As for the not-that-again, forget-it, or please-don’t pieces, they already have sunk into the grand pool of oblivion. The following is a baker’s dozen of top picks, chosen roughly in the order in which they were seen.

Sean Dorsey’s dance-theater piece Lou, based on the writings of transgender pioneer Lou Sullivan and danced by Dorsey, Brian Fisher, Juan de la Rosa, and Nol Simonse, was a penetrating portrait of one man’s courage and lust for life. It also highlighted Dorsey’s increasingly fluid skill in fusing language and dance.

San Francisco Ballet’s most recent Swan Lake (to be reprised in January 2010) is an odd mix of traditional (the choreography) and edgy (the production). By using the bold design of a ballet neophyte, Broadway-credited Jonathan Fensom, Helgi Tomasson took a huge risk in offending traditionalists who like their swans pure. Danced fabulously well, this is a Swan Lake for our own time.

Pichet Klunchun and Myself was just a one-night stand, but what a night it was. To watch French super-theorist Jérôme Bel and classical Thai dancer Klunchun play their intellectual ping pong game about life, dance, culture, and everything in between was to watch two master performers at work.

The big deal about Jess Curtis/Gravity’s brainy and sensuous The Symmetry Project was not that Curtis and Maria Francesca Scaroni performed nude, but that they embodied the idea of relationships — physical, intellectual, emotional, erotic — as being constantly in play.

Presented by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in conjunction with their exhibit on William Kentridge, The Return of Ulysses was Kentridge’s translation of Monteverdi’s jewel into puppet theater. The multiple perspectives on time and place and the exquisite cooperation between puppets and singers were awe-inspiring.

ODC/Dance — just because of who they are. Sometimes we tend to take established hometown companies for granted. Yet these dancers have never looked better. Additionally, both Brenda Way’s In the Memory of the Forest and KT Nelson’s Grassland overflowed with commanding and beautifully shaped ideas.

We know Heidi Schweiker best as an interpreter of other people’s choreography. That’s why it was so gratifying to see her first full evening of work. Dreams of Speaking showed a choreographer of intelligence, imagination, and a fine sense of craft.

Ramón Ramos Alayo’s fifth annual Cuba Caribe Festival packed them in. It’s SoMa’s own ethnic dance festival sporting a highly partisan and knowledgeable audience and performers who compete — in a friendly way. High points were the sassy female Las Que Son Son and Alayo dancing up a storm with Silfredo La O Vigo.

Seen in a drizzly rain on a preview performance, Spirit of Place (to be reprised this spring), Anna Halprin’s tribute to husband Lawrence Halprin’s reimagined Stern Grove Theater, was a gorgeous response to a space where nature and art collaborate. The dancers looked like spirits emanating from this magisterial grass and granite environment.

Togetherness suits artistic and life partners Janice Garrett and Charles Moulton. For their second collaboration, The Illustrated Book of Invisible Stories (which returns in January 2010), they worked with two groups of completely different dancers. The result was mysterious, mesmerizing, and surprisingly fresh.

The big surprise at the San Francisco International Arts Festival was the extraordinarily skilled and theatrically vibrant The Angel and the Woodcutter, South Korea’s Cho-In Theatre’s eloquent retelling in movement of a popular Korean fairy tale. It deserved a larger audience.

Suzanne Farrell Ballet’s lecture-demonstration, The Balanchine Couple, served as a vivid reminder that Balanchine never ran out of ideas for pas de deux. The nine on this program could not have been more different — all of them first-rate. The program also brought home the painful truth that such finely detailed and musically phrased Balanchine interpretations are a rarity.

Sometimes it helps to look beyond the hook. The big deal about South African dancer Gregory Maqoma’s Beautiful Me was that he used material from three other (cooperating) artists for his own choreography. Fair enough, but what left this audience member speechless was the grace, virility, and technical and emotional virtuosity with which Maqoma realized this portrayal of self.

Finally, the Performing Diaspora Festival was an ambitious project “featuring traditional forms as a basis for experimentation and innovation.” It boasted an elaborate support structure of studio time, blogs, workshops, and symposia. In the two programs I saw, the work ranged from first rate to mediocre. Fortunately, this is a two-year project — so let’s toast to 2010.

Curtain calls


THEATER Up to around 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 12, Thrillpeddlers were having a very good year. One of 2009’s Goldie recipients, the city’s connoisseurs of Grand Guignol–style fresh flesh were riding a remarkable wave of success with their inspired revival of Pearls over Shanghai, by San Francisco’s storied Cockettes, when an altogether different current overtook them.

No doubt the vicious cold snap of those days had something to do with it, but sources report that a 100-year-old water main located just outside the front door of the Hypnodrome — Thrillpeddlers’ rumored-to-be-haunted haunt at 10th and Division streets — let loose some 2 million gallons of water, the bulk of which burst into the packed theater in a two-foot high crest that inundated the stage smack in the middle of actor and artistic director Russell Blackwood’s exquisite tap number, “Cruising.” Cast and audience members alike scurried through one of those evacuations they’re always vaguely referring to by law just prior to curtain or takeoff. In this case, escape was made through the back dressing room, where SF firemen heroically carried audience members and heavily tarted-up actors to safety as the power was cut, owing to the very real danger of electric shock. I’m happy to report that the piano was saved, thanks to quick coordination of hands from both sides of the footlights, but clearly there’s a very soggy theater to deal with, so more than ever your prayers, and much better yet your patronage, should be directed toward the intrepid Thrillpeddlers. (Shows resume Jan. 1.)

Now this just goes to show that, one, I’m never there on the best night. And, two, the year ain’t over until it’s over. So let’s say this year-end wrap up, while it tries to take in all sides, is necessarily partial and provisional.

On the bright side:

Skylight at Ashby Stage. David Hare’s play dexterously puts the nuts and bolts of modern politics into modern romance like no other, but it came to life in director Patrick Dooley’s production for Shotgun Players better than I could have hoped were I coughing up three figures for a Broadway ticket. Leads Emily Jordan and John Mercer were startlingly good.

Killing My Lobster’s Pure Shock Value at the Exit. Odds were against them in producing their second full-length play, if only because the first, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s Hunter Gatherers, was so strong. But KML pulled it off.

Jericho Road Improvement Association at Phoenix Theatre. Hella Fresh Theater’s strong debut was a solid production of writer-director John Rosenberg’s West Oakland tale, a neighborhood story that navigated the complexities of history, race, and social roles with intelligence and real dramatic force. Sadly for us, Hella Fresh has freshly relocated east to Philly, but they contributed to a memorable year.

On the dark side:

Thom Pain (based on nothing) at Exit on Taylor. Cutting Ball’s strong local premiere of Will Eno’s broodingly sardonic off-Broadway hit featured an exceptionally fearless and intimidating solo turn by actor Jonathan Bock.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore at Berkeley Rep. Maybe this belongs on the light side. It depends how you take to a stage strewn with sawed off limbs and cat brains, all awash in veritable barrels of blood. I found it amusing.

The Creature at Thick House. Trevor Allen’s appealingly shrewd adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein began as a podcast but, under director Rob Melrose and a great design team, blossomed into a supple, protean piece of live theater. The three-person cast was very strong, but James Carpenter’s beautifully wrought performance in the title role managed to surprise even those who know he’s one of the top actors on Bay Area stages.

The Walworth Farce at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach. Leading Irish playwright Enda Walsh’s darkly hilarious, structurally ingenious, and all-around exhilarating play was more like farcical tragedy, or tragical farcity, which is to say something very fresh and gripping. Druid Ireland matched it perfectly in their incredibly deft and intelligent production.

On the right side:

SF Mime Troupe’s Too Big to Fail. “Right” isn’t the best adjective to stick in front of the Mime Troupe, but as free-theater-in-the-park hell-raisers for 50 years and counting you know whose side they’re on. Anniversary events continue through the New Year (

On the tight side:

Fat Pig at Aurora Theatre. Aurora’s production of Neil LaBute’s play had a very strong ensemble going for it. There were others too this year, some of the most memorable including casts of Jack Goes Boating (also at Aurora), In the Next Room, or the vibrator play (Berkeley Rep), The Model Apartment (Traveling Jewish Theater), This World in a Woman’s Hands (Shotgun Players); Old Times (TheatreFIRST), and two exceptional ensembles courtesy of Off-Broadway West in The Homecoming and A View from the Bridge, respectively.

On the hype side:

American Idiot at Berkeley Rep. Actual satisfaction with Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening) and Green Day’s Broadway-bound behemoth proved inversely proportional to the hype. (Among new musicals about American 20-somethings, the real McCoy was up the hill at UC Berkeley in the premiere of Joe Goode’s Dead Boys.)

Also, Spamalot. Rhymed with everything but laughed-a-lot.

On the south side:

Ghosts of the River at Brava. The second collaboration between playwright Octavio Solis and director Larry Reed’s Shadowlight Productions, a set of immigrant ghost tales set along the Rio Grande, was as aesthetically unique and engaging as it was humane and thought provoking.

Also from the Mission District: Theatre Rhinoceros vacated its space on 16th Street after god knows how long to wander itinerant for a while. They are still very much around and active, though (

And from Intersection for the Arts came word of the tragic loss of a large and unique talent: actor and Campo Santo cofounder Luis Saguar, gone at 52. Saguar was an integral and always fascinating part of some exceptional theater history, and you never saw another actor quite like him. To help the family he leaves behind, donations are being accepted through Intersection for the Arts (

You ought-sa know



Christina Aguilera defeats Britney Spears in the Battle of the Midriff-Baring Blondes (i.e., wins the Best New Artist Grammy). The first words of her acceptance speech are "Oh my god, you guys!"

APRIL 2000

Pop goes the world: ‘N SYNC sells 2.4 million copies of No Strings Attached (Jive) in its first week of release, a sales record which still stands. To date it has sold over 15 million copies.

Metallica files suit against Napster, accusing internet pirates of stealing their booty — er, royalties.

Pop goes the world, part two: Britney Spears releases Oops! … I Did It Again (Jive). Album title will take on extra meaning in 2004, when Spears takes the vows twice in a single year (her first marriage is annulled after 55 hours; her second produces a pair of sons in quick succession).

MAY 2000

Eminem releases The Marshall Mathers LP (Aftermath). Two years later, he picks up a Best Song Oscar for "Lose Yourself," the theme from his critically-acclaimed 8 Mile. Eminem’s cinematic success was not to be repeated by his otherwise successful protégé, 50 Cent (see: 2005’s dismal Get Rich or Die Tryin’).


Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water (Interscope) drops; it’s an early contender for worst album title of the decade. Related: "Limp Bizkit" is probably the worst band name of all time.


Jennifer Lopez has the number one album (Epic’s J.Lo) and movie (The Wedding Planner) in the country. Media frenzy peaked with Bennifer fever (2002) and national-punchline Gigli (2003).

JULY 2001

Mariah Carey’s downward spiral begins, including a bizarre appearance on MTV’s Total Request Live and the ill-timed release of Glitter, soon after the September 11 attacks. Carey later reclaimed her pop-diva throne with 2005’s The Emancipation of Mimi (Island).


Aaliyah dies in a Bahamas plane crash.


America: A Tribute to Heroes airs on all major networks. It’s the first in a series of concerts featuring big-name performers that would crop up after every major disaster throughout the decade, including the Indonesian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the death of Michael Jackson.

APRIL 2002

Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes dies in a car crash in Honduras.

JUNE 2002

R. Kelly is charged with having sex with a minor after a certain videotape goes viral. "Trapped in the Closet," his 22-part 2005 "hip-hopera," proves even more fascinating.


Kelly Clarkson wins the first season of the hugely popular talent contest American Idol. In Clarkson’s wake: pop stardom, fellow success stories like Carrie Underwood (and failures — anyone seen Taylor Hicks lately?), a zillion rip-off competition shows, a thousand moments of zen with Paula Abdul, and the baffling "Claymate" phenomenon.


Michael Jackson. Blanket. Balcony.


Whitney Houston informs Diane Sawyer that "crack is wack."


Famed producer and legendary oddball Phil Spector arrested after a woman he’d just met, actress Lana Clarkson, is shot to death in his mansion. In 2009, after two trials (the first ended in a mistrial), he’s found guilty of second-degree murder.

At a Rhode Island nightclub, 100 people are killed when a fire breaks out during a Great White concert.

MARCH 2003

On the eve of the Iraq War, Dixie Chick, Texan, and American hero Natalie Maines informs a British crowd: "We’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas." Backlash, and a feud with uber-patriotic fellow country star Toby Keith — who had a 2002 hit with "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)" — ensues.


Madonna smooches Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards. Oh my god, you guys!


Johnny Cash goes to meet the Ghost Riders in the Sky. Two years after his death, Walk the Line gives him Hollywood biopic treatment; Reese Witherspoon picks up an Oscar for portraying June Carter, who died just months before her husband.


Michael Jackson is arrested for child molestation, not long after the broadcast of Martin Bashir’s fairly skeevy Living with Michael Jackson interviews.

Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica debuts. (Spoiler: they get divorced in 2006!)


Janet Jackson. Superbowl. Boob.

JUNE 2004

Dave Chappelle’s Lil John imitation became the imitation you loved to imitate. Whuuut?


Look out, brah! A bus belonging to the Dave Matthews Band dumps 800 pounds of shit off a Chicago bridge and onto a tour boat.


Ashlee Simpson pulls a Milli Vanilli on Saturday Night Live.


Heavy metal guitarist Dimebag Darrell shot to death while performing in Columbus, Ohio.


YouTube is born.

JUNE 2005

Michael Jackson found not guilty. Dove Lady celebrates.


"George Bush doesn’t care about black people." — Kanye West, during NBC’s live "Concert for Hurricane Relief."


High School Musical airs. Sequels, worldwide fame for even lesser cast members, and nude photo scandals await.

MARCH 2006

Three 6 Mafia win an Oscar for Hustle and Flow jam "It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp," which they perform live at the ceremony as fossilized Academy members gape in confusion.

JUNE 2006

Over a quarter of a million people download "Hips Don’t Lie" in its first week online, despite the fact that the Shakira track is so utterly inescapable it’s incredible anyone would choose to listen to it during any spare moments when it wasn’t playing already.


Amy Winehouse releases Back to Black (Island Records); the would-be retro pop queen’s career screeches to a halt after various addictions take hold. For the next few years, Winehouse’s downfall is gleefully chronicled and circulated by paparazzi worldwide.


American Idol also-ran Jennifer Hudson wins an Oscar for her supporting performance in Dreamgirls. The gracious Hudson somehow keeps the phrase "In your face, Simon!" out of her acceptance speech.

Britney Spears. Clippers. Hair. (Chris. Crocker.)

JUNE 2007

The Sopranos airs its last episode. Journey’s "Don’t Stop Believin" becomes a new-old sensation.


Radiohead self-release In Rainbows, allowing customers to determine their own price for the album’s download.


Jamie Lynn Spears, 16-year-old sister of Britney, announces she’s knocked up. Oh my god, you guys!

APRIL 2008

Miley Cyrus lets Annie Leibovitz take a vaguely smutty photo of her for Vanity Fair.


Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, a.k.a. Lady Gaga, releases The Fame (Interscope). Pop domination imminent.


Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker and Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein are the sole survivors of a small plane crash in South Carolina. Goldstein is found dead in August 2009, leading to more than one tasteless Final Destination joke.


Long-gestating, near-mythical Guns N’ Roses album Chinese Democracy (Geffen) finally drops. World shrugs, admits they’ll always prefer Appetite for Destruction (Geffen) no matter what Axl does from here on out.


Christian Bale’s angry rant at a crew member on the set of Terminator: Salvation becomes an Internet sensation. A dance remix follows almost instantaneously. "What don’t you fucking understand?"

Chris Brown beats up then-girlfriend Rihanna. He pleads guilty in August; as part of his sentence, he must stay 100 yards away from Rihanna (10 yards at public events) for five years.

JUNE 2009

Michael Jackson dies.


Berkeley Repertory Theater premieres American Idiot, a musical based on the 2004 Green Day album.

"Taylor, I’m really happy for you, and I’m gonna let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time." — Kanye West, MTV Video Music Awards. This is the only interesting thing that has ever happened to Taylor Swift.

Our weekly picks




Free Form Film Series: "Awesome and Painful"

The folks from Lost Media Archive and the FFFF (Free Form Film Festival) have a Christmas treat for y’all: a screening of the "universally loathed" Star Wars Holiday Special. Before that, six dudes from various parts of the U.S. will treat viewers to experimental videos. With titles like Hulk Smash, Cakestain! and Polygon Sun, it’s likely — well, very likely (I did some interweb research) — that these videos are of the laffy taffy, low-tech, seizure-inducing variety. While this might suggest everything jejune and sarcastic, I would also qualify that suggest with smartly so. (Spencer Young)

8 p.m., $6

Artists’ Television Access

992 Valencia, SF

(415) 824-3890



Kenneth Anger: Restored Prints

Not one to dabble so much as drench himself in the occult, Kenneth Anger has been dubbed a weirdo. Committed to the underground, his short films are weird, too, but in an interesting and entertaining kind of way as opposed to creepy and cloying. Two of the Anger movies showing tonight — Scorpio Rising (1960) and Kustom Kar Kommandos (1964) — worship handsome James Dean-type men and their equally handsome machines through serene, phantasmagoric pans across shiny engines, belt buckles, and bulging biceps, all queerly contrasted with 1960s pop. The other two films on the program, Fireworks (1947) and Rabbit’s Moon (1950/1971) are equally hunky-dory. Also, the 82-year-old weirdo might be in attendance. (Young)

7 p.m., $7–$10

Phyllis Wattis Theater

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

151 Third St., SF

(415) 357-4000


Popscene Holiday Gala with Mike Relm

‘Tis the season for video mashups. The holidays always make me want to break out the TV Carnage DVDs — nothing says gift quite like John Ritter making horrified faces to Rosie O’Donnell’s performance in Riding the Bus With My Sister (2005). Mike Relm is one of SF’s chief video turntablists, with a resume that includes Mike Patton’s Peeping Tom project. He won my heart by naming his debut DVD Clown Alley, after the defunct semi-North Beach burger dive known to inspire the Guardian’s own Marke B. to break into song. He makes the scene at Popscene’s festive gala. (Johnny Ray Huston)

With DJ Sharp

10 p.m.–2 a.m., $5–$10

330 Ritch

330 Ritch, SF

(415) 541-9574



Hubba Hubba Revue’s Chrismanukkah

Hubba Hubba Revue is big in England. Word of the SF burlesque troupe’s shenanigans had reached my burlesexual friend Lou Lou, who knows about tassel-twirling because, back in Blighty, she’s a "maid" who flounces about the stage between acts cleaning up the dancers’ tossed underthings. Lou Lou was convinced "the maid" was a universal feature of burlesque shows, and was surprised to learn that in the Hubba Hubba Revue, her role is played by a man-monkey named Zip the What-Is-It, bald but for a tuft of hair on his crown. Things are different here. But they do have lovely ladies stripping all retro-like and enough shiny bells and whistles to keep even the burlesque-shy (does such a person exist?) jaw-dropped and fancy free. The troupe’s holiday celebration promises peace and goodwill to (wo)man, and performances by Bunny Pistol, Professor Shimmy, and Meshugga Beach Party, a Jewish folk surf jam experience. (Caitlin Donohue)

9 p.m., $12–$15

DNA Lounge

375 11th St., SF

(415) 626-1409


Glam Gender Release Party

You can never have too much drag for the holidays. Or can you? No, no you can’t — especially if your stocking is not only filled with enough bird seed to size you up to a triple-D cup, but also with the ravishing new book Glam Gender, a glossy to-die-for tome self-published by photographer Marianne Larochelle and art director-stylist-drag legend Jose Guzman Colon, a.k.a. Putanesca. Contained within is an encyclopedia of the most well-known local drag queens of the past decade, including many no longer with us. The project, with punchy bios written by paparazzi punk Bill Picture, was "such a beautiful thing to work on," Putanesca told me. "It’s a real community celebration, and also a bit insane." Freshly released, the book will be available — along with glorious prints and most of the queens themselves — at zany Victorian wonderland Finn’s Funhouse. Watch your dress. (Marke B.)

6–10 p.m., free

Finn’s Funhouse

814 Grove, SF


Super Adventure Club

Up-sides to cold weather: the dependable absence of mosquitoes, eggnog, layers of $4 Goodwill sweaters that nicely camouflage Christmas cookie bulge, and socially acceptable hibernation. Wait, scratch that last one — you’re going out. You’ll wanna brave those arctic winds for multitasking duo Jake Woods and Michael Winger, who combine their strange genius to form Super Adventure Club, a band you could like for the name alone, but don’t have to because their punchy riffs on everything from German "üntz" music to French love songs deliver a restorative kick to the circulation system. I straight up challenge you to get through their set — or that of headliners Diego’s Umbrella — without jumping about like a crazy person. You’ve got a tough first step past the front welcome mat, but know — just know — that your winter woes are about to melt like a square snowflake in funky town. (Donohue)

With Diego’s Umbrella and How To Win at Life

9 p.m., $8

Elbo Room

(415) 552-7788

647 Valencia, SF



Renegade Craft Fair

December mall jaunts tend to induce claustrophobia, Santa terrors, and unpredictable, Manchurian Candidate-style reactions to all those cheery Christmas carols. Avoid the commercial hustle at the Renegade Craft Fair, founded in 2003 in Chicago — where a Renegade Handmade store remains open year-round — and now a multicity phenomenon. SF’s version opens shop just in time for the last-minute gift scramble, with more than 150 local DIY denizens (who had to apply to participate, so you won’t have to sift though sub-par crap) offering up all manner of bow-worthy ideas: fabric goods, silkscreened art, jewelry, accoutrements for babies, housewares, toys, stationary, and more. (Cheryl Eddy)

Through Sun/20

11 a.m.–7 p.m., free

Herbst Pavilion, Fort Mason Center

Marina at Laguna, SF


Trannyshack Star Search

The queen, apparently, is not dead. Beloved and be-loathed trash-drag emporium Trannyshack glitter-axed its weekly operations at the Stud last year. But like the chunky-jewelried zombie ass-slave Mrs. Roper hostess that she is, Heklina rises from the ash heap of Manhunt addiction to bring back the Trannyshack Star Search competition, thirsty for new blood to fill her ghoulish needs. She’ll be joined onstage by the wonderfully horrific Peaches Christ to oversee performances by "special" guest judges Sherry Vine and Kembra Pfahler of the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. Hoku Mama, Putanesca, Princess Kennedy, and Anjie Myma also judge the 10 hopefuls, and DJ Omar glam-sluts up the crowd, if that’s even more possible. (Marke B.)

10 p.m.–3 a.m., $15–$20

DNA Lounge

(415) 626-1409

375 11th St., SF


Circus Ignite!

Does it seem like circus is everywhere? It’s true. And that’s not just in local venues, mainstream media, and fashion. Circus groups are taking their clowning, juggling, stilting, and acrobatics out of American cities and into under-served communities across the world. They’re entertaining, educating, inspiring self-esteem, and fostering cross-cultural communication in communities affected by natural disaster, dislocations, and military conflicts. One such group is Dreamtime Circus, a fantastic organization that launched with a trip to India last year and plans to spend next spring in Peru. Help support the cause by attending this weekend’s fundraiser, featuring DJs, a silent auction, and performances. (Molly Freedenberg)

9 p.m.–4 a.m., $12–$20


314 11th St, SF

(415) 552-2100


Carols in the Caves

Candlelight. Cave acoustics. Ancient instruments playing age-old carols. And you as part of the angel choir. Could there be anything more classically festive than Carols in the Caves? The brainchild of percussionist/musician the Improvisator (a.k.a. David Auerbach), this tradition has been delighting audiences for 24 years in a variety of caves and wine cellars around the Bay Area. This time Auerbach brings his dulcimers, flutists, drums, and bells to Hans Fahden Vineyards, a gorgeous property on a ridge above Calistoga that features panoramic views of Mount Saint Helena. Buy your tickets, save some extra cash to purchase wine, and get ready to settle in to a sound spa for the mind. (Freedenberg)

2 p.m. (also Sun/20), $45

Hans Fahden Vineyards

4855 Petrified Forest, Calistoga

(707) 224-4222


The Birds

So … 500,000 European starlings did an air show in Bodega Bay, I mean Sacramento, this past week. Video evidence is flying across the Internet. It’s official, a real-life version of The Birds (1963) can’t be far off. Of all of Hitchcock’s classics, this is the one best served by the big screen. If you’ve only seen it on TV, you don’t know it. Out of your gilded cages, Melanie Daniels fans, and into the Castro to fend off angry beaks with your impeccably manicured hands. (Huston)

2:30 and 7 p.m. (double feature with Notorious), $7.50–$10

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6120



Brian Setzer Orchestra

Brian Setzer has made a long-lasting career of resurrecting musical styles from the past with his formidable talents. He first came to fame as leader of the Stray Cats, energizing traditional rockabilly with his scorching guitar skills. He then went on to revamp swing and the classic big band sound of the 1930s and ’40s with the Brian Setzer Orchestra, whose hits included a cover of Louis Prima’s "Jump Jive An’ Wail." Tonight’s stop here in SF is part of Setzer’s seventh annual "Christmas Rocks!" tour, featuring revved-up versions of timeless holiday songs like "Jingle Bells" and "White Christmas," as well as selections from his own hit discography.(Sean McCourt)

8 p.m., $55–$69.50

The Warfield

982 Market, SF

(415) 775-7722



Taravat Talepasand: "Situation Critical"

Bay Area artist Taravat Talepasand’s explorations of cultural mores in Iran and America manifest as everything from motorcycles to graphite drawings. Her second show at Marx and Zavaterro casts a sharp eye at xenophobia and assorted manias circa-1979, among other things. "Situation Critical" should be worth a visit simply to see the nightmarish Disney-esque painting Ayatollah Land. (Huston)

10:30 a.m.–5 p.m., free

Marx and Zavattero

77 Geary, second floor, SF

(415) 627-9111

Rep Clock


Schedules are for Wed/16–Tues/22 except where noted. Director and year are given when available. Double features are marked with a •. All times are p.m. unless otherwise specified.

ARTISTS’ TELEVISION ACCESS 992 Valencia, SF; $7. "Free Form Film Festival:" Star Wars Holiday Special (Binder, 1978), plus experimental videos, Wed, 8. Other Cinema:" "New Experimental Works," Sat, 8:30.

CAFÉ OF THE DEAD 3208 Grand, Oakl; (510) 931-7945. Free. "Independent Filmmakers Screening Nite," Wed, 6:30.

CASTRO 429 Castro, SF; (415) 621-6120, $7.50-10. "Hitch for the Holidays:" •Rear Window (Hitchcock, 1954), Wed, 2:30, 7, and Shadow of a Doubt (Hitchcock, 1943), Wed, 4:45, 9:10; •Rebecca (Hitchcock, 1940), Thurs, 2, 7, and Marnie (Hitchcock, 1964), Thurs, 4:30, 9:30; Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958), Fri, 2, 4:30, 7, 9:30; •The Birds (Hitchcock, 1963), Sat, 2:30, 7, and Notorious (Hitchcock, 1946), Sat, 4:55, 9:20; •The 39 Steps (Hitchcock, 1935), Sun, 1:30, 6, and North by Northwest (Hitchcock, 1959), Sun, 3:30, 8; •Strangers on a Train (Hitchcock, 1951), Tues, 2:30, 7, and The Man Who Knew Too Much (Hitchcock, 1956), Tues, 4:35, 9. Theater closed Mon.

CHRISTOPHER B. SMITH RAFAEL FILM CENTER 1118 Fourth St, San Rafael; (415) 454-1222, $6.50-10. The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (Miller, 2009), call for dates and times. "Short Films from the 2009 Sundance Film Festival," Wed-Thurs, call for times.

EXPLORATORIUM 3601 Lyon, SF; Free with museum admission ($9-14). A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Sat, 2.

GRACE NORTH CHURCH 2138 Cedar, Berk; (510) 464-4640, $6-10. The Greater Circulation (Alli, 2005), Fri, 8.

JOYCE GORDON GALLERY 406 14th St, Oakl; (510) 465-8928, Free. One Time (Doukas, 1969-71), Thurs, 8.

PACIFIC FILM ARCHIVE 2575 Bancroft, Berk; (510) 642-5249, $5.50-9.50. "An Evening with Mark Morris:" Cello Suite #3: Falling Down Stairs (Sweete, 1995), Wed, 7; Cabin in the Sky (Minnelli, 1943), Wed, 9. "A Woman’s Face: Ingrid Bergman in Europe:" Autumn Sonata (Bergman, 1978), Thurs, 7. "Otto Preminger: Anatomy of a Movie:" Carmen Jones (1955), Fri, 6:30; Bonjour Tristesse (1958), Sat, 6:30 and Sun, 5; Skidoo (1968), Sat, 8:30; Bunny Lake is Missing (1965), Sun, 7. "Four by Hungarian Master Miklós Janksó:" Silence and Cry (1967), Fri, 8:40.

PARAMOUNT THEATRE 2025 Broadway, Oakl; 1-800-745-3000, $5. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Stuart, 1971), Fri, 8.

RED VIC 1727 Haight, SF; (415) 668-3994. $6-10. It Might Get Loud (Guggenheim, 2009), Wed-Thurs, 7:15, 9:20 (also Wed, 2). Not Quite Hollywood (Hartley, 2009), Fri-Sat, 7:15, 9:25 (also Sat, 2, 4:15). The City of Lost Children (Jeunet and Caro, 1995), Sun-Mon, 7, 9:25 (also Sun, 2, 4:20). Scrooged (Donner, 1988), Tues, 7:15, 9:25.

ROXIE 3117 and 3125 16th St, SF; (415) 863-1087, $5-9.75. Call for shows and times.

SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART 151 Third St, SF; $10. "Kenneth Anger: Restored Prints," Thurs, 7. With Kenneth Anger in person.

SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin, SF; Free. "Back in the GDR: The Berlin Wall and the Former East Germany on Film:" Night Crossing (Mann, 1981), Thurs, noon. Large-screen video presentation.

YERBA BUENA CENTER FOR THE ARTS 701 Mission, SF; (415) 978-2787, $6-8. "The Joy of Life:" "Short Films by Curt McDowell," Thurs, 7:30; "Holiday Free Surprise Screening!", Sat, 7:30; Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas (Henson, 1977), Sun, 2.<\!s>

Stage listings


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



Black Nativity Marines’ Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter; 474-8800, $30-$40. Previews Wed/16-Thurs/17. Opens Fri/18. Runs Wed-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 2 and 8pm; Sun, 4pm. Through Dec 27. Lorraine Hansberry Theatre presents its award-winning holiday gospel musical.

A Merry FORKING! Christmas Off-Market Theaters, 965 Mission; (800) 838-3006, $20. Opens Thurs/17. Various days and times. Through Jan 2. Playwright Daniel Heath and PianoFight team up again for a fully scripted play in which the audience votes on how the plot will proceed.

Mr. YooWho’s Holiday NOHspace, 2840 Mariposa; 621-7978, $10-$15. Opens Fri/18. Runs Fri, 8pm; Sat, 3pm; Sun, 3pm; through Jan 3. Moshe Cohen and NOHspace co-present this one-man holiday show that takes the audience on a ride full of wonder and laughter that transcends generational barriers.

Yes Sweet Can Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St; 273-4633, $15-$20. Opens Fri/18. Days and times vary. Through Jan 3. Sweet Can Productions presents this astonishing 60-minute show featuring acrobatics, aerial work, hula hoops and other combinations of traditional circus and physical theater.


The 39 Steps Curran Theater, 1192 Market; 551-2020, $35-$80. Tues, 8pm; Wed, 2 and 8pm; Thurs, 8pm; Fri-Sat, 2 and 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Jan 3. The SHN Best of Broadway series kicks off with Alfred Hitchcock’s Tony Award-winning whodunit comedy.

Beautiful Thing New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972. $22-40. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Jan 3. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs Jonathan Harvey’s story of romance between two London teens.

*Better Homes and Ammo (a post apocalyptic suburban tale) EXIT Stage Left, 156 Eddy; $15-$19. Thurs/17-Sat/19, 8pm. Toting bible and AK-47, a shlubby but seemingly affable right-wing libertarian (B. Warden Lawlor) has led his nuclear family down into the survival pit beneath his ammo store just in time to escape the nuclear disaster above ground. Months into this millennial camping trip, mom (Molly Benson) dreams of starring in her own vaguely militant cooking show, while restive older brother (James Tinsley) and dippy but nubile little sister (Cassie Powell) turn their own hormonally charged dreams into a budding daytime romance (well, one of them’s adopted anyway). Can the center hold, with mere anarchy loosed above? "Since when," asks mom of her spouse, "have you resorted to lies and manipulation to maintain your authority?" Good question. He’d balk at the comparison—and the French—but basically, L’estat? C’est pah. The loathsome Bush years inspired this first full-length comedy from writer-director Wiley Herman, but its themes of fear mongering as social control, authoritarian excess, apocalyptic doom, and brother-sister whoopee are evergreens. The pacing can flag, the dramatic conventions can feel too familiar, but the writing has merit and a fair amount of laughs, while the cast warm to their parts with conviction and charm. All in all a promising debut from Herman, and if the world doesn’t end first we can expect better ammo down the line. (Avila)

The Bright River Climate Theater, 285 9th St; (800) 838-3006, $15-$25. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Dec 27. Climate presents this mesmerizing hip-hop retelling of Dante’s Inferno by Tim Brarsky.

A Christmas Carol American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary; 749-2228, $14-$102. Days and times vary. Through Dec 27. A.C.T. presents the sparkling, music-infused celebration of goodwill by Charles Dickens.

Cinderella African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton; (800) 8383-3006, $20-$30. Days and times vary. Through Dec 27. The African-American Shakespeare Company presents an enchanting production of the classic fairytale, re-set on the bayous of Louisiana.

Cotton Patch Gospel Next Stage, 1620 Gough; (800) 838-3006, $10-$28. Thurs/17-Sat/19, 8pm. Custom Made presents Harry Chapin’s progressive and musically joyous look at the Jesus story through a modern lens.

Dames at Sea New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972, $22-$40. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Jan 17. NCTC presents the Off-Broadway musical hit.

*East 14th Marsh, 1062 Valencia; 1-800-838-3006, $20-35. Fri/18, 9pm; Sat/19, 8:30pm. Don Reed’s solo play, making its local premiere at the Marsh after an acclaimed New York run, is truly a welcome homecoming twice over. It returns the Bay Area native to the place of his vibrant, physically dynamic, consistently hilarious coming-of-age story, set in 1970s Oakland between two poles of East 14th Street’s African American neighborhood: one defined by his mother’s strict ass-whooping home, dominated by his uptight Jehovah’s Witness stepfather; the other by his biological father’s madcap but utterly non-judgmental party house. The latter—shared by two stepbrothers, one a player and the other flamboyantly gay, under a pimped-out, bighearted patriarch whose only rule is "be yourself"—becomes the teenage Reed’s refuge from a boyhood bereft of Christmas and filled with weekend door-to-door proselytizing. Still, much about the facts of life in the ghetto initially eludes the hormonal and naïve young Reed, including his own flamboyant, ever-flush father’s occupation: "I just thought he was really into hats." But dad—along with each of the characters Reed deftly incarnates in this very engaging, loving but never hokey tribute—has something to teach the talented kid whose excellence in speech and writing at school marked him out, correctly, as a future "somebody." (Avila)

Eccentrics of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast: A Magical Escapade San Francisco Magic Parlor, Chancellor Hotel Union Square, 433 Powell; 1-800-838-3006. $30. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Ongoing. This show celebrates real-life characters from San Francisco’s colorful and notorious past.

Fun-derful Holidaze The Marsh, 1062 Valencia; (800) 838-3006, $7-$12. Sat-Sun, 2pm. Through Jan 3. The Marsh presents Unique Derique in a fun-filled feast of frivolity for all ages.

I SF South of Market home stage, 505 Natoma; (800) 838-3006, Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 19. Boxcar Theatre presents an improvised unabashed stage poem to all things San Francisco.

Katya’s Holiday Spectacular New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972, $22-$32. Days vary, 8pm, through Jan 2. NCTC presents a special winter cabaret starring Katya Smirnoff-Skyy.

Let It Snow! SF Playhouse Stage 2, 533 Sutter; 677-9596, $8-$20. Thurs/17-Fri/18, 8pm; Sat/19, 3 and 8pm. The Un-scripted Theater Company lovingly presents an entirely new musical every night based on audience participation.

The Life of Brian Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission; 401-7987, $20. Fri/18-Sat/19, 8pm. The Dark Room Theater presents a movie parody turned into a theatrical parody.

Ovo Grand Chapiteau, AT&T Park; (800) 450-1480, $45.50-$135. Tues-Thurs, 8pm; Fri-Sat, 4 and 8pm; Sun, 1 and 5pm. Through Jan 24. The U.S. premiere of Cirque du Soleil’s latest extravaganza, written and directed by Deborah Colker, dependably sports several fine acts enmeshed in a visually buzzing insect theme. Highlights include a delighting set of juggling ants, twirling huge wedges of kiwi with their synchronized tootsies, very adorable and almost unbelievably deft; a mesmerizing and freely romantic airborne "Spanish Web" duet; and a spider traversing a "slackwire" web with jaw-dropping strength, balance and agility. The whisper-thin plot, thin even by Cirque standards, is nearly summed up in the title (Portuguese for "egg"). A very large "ovo" takes up most of the stage as the audience enters the tent. This is miraculously replaced in a flash by a smaller, though still ample one lugged around by one of three clowns (by the standards of past years, not a very inspired or absorbing bunch these three), and then snatched away amid a throng of insect types. An endoplasmic reticulum, or something, hovers a floor or two high toward the back of the stage, where the live band churns the familiar trans-inducing Euro-beats. The baseline entertainment value is solid, though the usual high jinx and overall charm are at somewhat lower ebb compared with recent years. (Avila)

Pearls Over Shanghai Hypnodrome, 575 Tenth St.; 1-800-838-3006, $30-69. Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Jan 23. Thrillpeddlers presents this revival of the legendary Cockettes’ 1970 musical extravaganza.

Santaland Diaries Off Market Theater, 965 Mission; (800) 838-3006, $25. Mon-Sun, 8 and 10pm. Through Dec 30. Combined Artform and Beck-n-Call present the annual production of David Sedaris’ story, starring John Michael Beck and David Sinaiko.

Shanghai San Francisco One Telegraph Hill; 1-877-384-7843, $40. Sat, 1pm. Ongoing. To be Shanghaied: "to be kidnapped for compulsory service aboard a ship&ldots;to be induced or compelled to do something, especially by fraud or force". Once the scene of many an "involuntary" job interview, San Francisco’s Barbary Coast is now the staging ground for Shanghai San Francisco, a performance piece slash improv slash scavenger hunt through the still-beating hearts of North Beach and Chinatown, to the edge of the Tendernob. Beginning at the base of Coit Tower, participants meet the first of several characters who set up the action and dispense clues, before sending the audience off on a self-paced jaunt through the aforementioned neighborhoods, induced and compelled (though not by force) to search for a kidnapped member of the revived San Francisco Committee of Vigilance. It’s a fine notion and a fun stroll on a sunny afternoon, but ultimately succeeds far better as a walking tour than as theatre. Because the actors are spread rather thinly on the ground, they’re unable to take better advantage of their superior vantage by stalking groups a little more closely, staging distractions along the way, and generally engaging the audience as such a little more frequently. But since Shanghai San Francisco is a constantly evolving project, maybe next time they’ll do just that. (Gluckstern)

She Stoops to Comedy SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter; 677-9596, $30-$40. Tues, 7pm; Wed-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 3 and 8pm. Through Jan 9. SF Playhouse continues their seventh season with the Bay Area premiere of David Greenspan’s gender-bending romp.

Under the Gypsy Moon Teatro ZinZanni, Pier 29; 438-2668, $117-$145. Wed-Sat, 6pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Jan 1. Teatro ZinZanni presents a bewitching evening of European cabaret, cirque, theatrical spectacle, and original live music, blended with a five-course gourmet dinner.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Actors Theatre of SF, 855 Bush; 345-1287, $26-$40. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Jan 23. Before throwing around terms like "dysfunctional, bi-polar, codependent," to describe the human condition became fodder for every talk show host and reality TV star, people with problems were expected to keep them tight to the chest, like war medals, to be brought out in the privacy of the homestead for the occasional airing. For George and Martha, the sort of middle-aged, academically-entrenched couple you might see on any small University campus, personal trauma is much more than a memory—it’s a lifestyle, and their commitment to receiving and inflicting said trauma is unparalleled. The claws-out audacity of mercurial Martha (Rachel Klyce) is superbly balanced by a calmly furious George (Christian Phillips), and their almost vaudevillian energy easily bowls over boy genius Biologist, Nick (Alessandro Garcia) and his gormless, "slim-hipped" wife Honey (Jessica Coghill), who at times exhibit such preternatural stillness they seem very much like the toys their game-playing hosts are using them as to wage their private war of attrition; their nervous reactions, though well-timed, coming off as mechanical in comparison to the practiced ease with which Klyce and Phillips relentlessly tear down the walls of illusion. But thanks to George and Martha’s menacing intensity, and self-immoutf8g love, this Virginia Woolf does not fail to hold the attentions of its audience captive, despite being a grueling (though never tedious) three-and-a-half hours long. (Gluckstern)

Wicked Orpheum Theatre, 1182 Market; 512-7770, $30-$99. Tues, 8pm; Wed, 2pm; Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 2 and 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Ongoing. Assuming you don’t mind the music, which is too TV-theme–sounding in general for me, or the rather gaudy décor, spectacle rules the stage as ever, supported by sharp performances from a winning cast. (Avila)


Aurelia’s Oratorio Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, $33-$71. Tues, Thurs, Fri, and Sat, 8pm; Wed, 7pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Jan 24. It’s such a relief during the Nutcracker-Christmas Memory-Carol-In Wales season to catch a show that creates a wonderland without the winter. Not a beat is lost as Aurélia morphs from bored vamp trapped in a chest of drawers to tempest-tossed refugee on the high seas (and higher rafters) to befuddled homemaker with a penchant for the topsy-turvy, sometimes pursued by the excellent Jaime Martinez, whose knockout, drag-down street brawls with his recalcitrant overcoat are just one example of the physical wit that permeates the piece. Aurélia’s housekeeping skills are another—she happily arranges her flowers upside-down and sprinkles her laundry hung on the line with a big watering can, while outside her window, an upside-down taxi cab awaits her fare. Each minute vignette shines on its own merits—a woman dissolving into sand, a poignant Indonesian-style shadow-puppet encounter behind a curtain of lacy "snow" (ok, they snuck in the winter after all), a musical interlude in a clock shop—tied loosely together by a design heavy on lush red velvet and modestly versatile black-and-white. Aurélia’s Oratorio combines the best of mime, acrobatics, dance, and design, to create a circuitous, circus revel guaranteed to transport and to charm. (Gluckstern)

The Coverlettes Cover Christmas Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, $25-$28. Mon-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Dec 27. Aurora Theatre Company rocks the holiday season in the style of 1960’s girl groups.

The Stone Wife Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk; 730-2901. $15-$20. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 6pm. Through Dec 20. The Berkeley City Club presents this award-winning play written and directed by Helen Pau.

*The Threepenny Opera Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; $18-$30. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Jan 17. Wednesday performances begin Jan 6. Shotgun Players present Bertolt Brecht’s beggar’s opera.


"The Christmas Ballet" Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 700 Howard; 978-2787, Wed-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 2 and 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Dec 27. $18-$56. Michael Smuin presents an unexpected holiday show featuring dancers in ’50s poodle skirts, feather boas, wide-brimmed hats, and panama suits and music from Mozart to Elvis Presley.

"DANCEfirst!" The Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission; 358-7200, Thurs, 6pm. $5-$10. Three local choreographers enlist their favorite house DJs to offer wildly unique perspectives on this rhythmic phenomenon.

"A Queer 20th Anniversary" Locations vary. Various days and times, Dec. 9 – Jan. 31. Zero Performance presents a retrospective of two seminal pieces performed by Keith Hennessy and company, including a restaging of Saliva at the original site under a freeway South of Market.

Mark Foehringer Dance Project/SF Zeum Theater, 221 Fourth St; 433-1235, Sat-Sun, 11am and 2pm. $25. The dance project presents a unique rendition of The Nutcracker at Zeum, featuring the Magik*Magik Orchestra performing live.

"The Nutcracker" Mercy High School Theater, 3250 19th Ave; 731-2237, Sat, 2 and 7pm; Sun, 2pm. $22-$24. San Francisco Youth Ballet Theatre presents its 9th annual production of the holiday classic.

Yaelisa’s Caminos Flamencos Cowell Theatre, Fort Mason; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Check Web for price. This show features Yaelisa’s husband and artistic partner, 10-year-old Roberto Granados, Paco Borrego, Jesus Montoya, and Felix de Lola.


"The Hard Nut" Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, Berk; Days and times vary, through Sun. $36-$62. Mark Morris Dance Group and Berkeley Symphony Orchestra present this retelling of The Nutcracker.


"Amahl and the Night Visitors" Randall Museum, 199 Museum Way; 826-8670. Sun, 3pm. Free. The Ina Chalis Opera Ensemble presents this one-hour Christmas opera by Gian-Carlo Menotti.

"Bijou" Martuni’s, Four Valencia; 241-0205, Sun, 7pm. $5. An eclectic weekly cabaret.

On Broadway Dinner Theater 435 Broadway; 291-0333, Thurs-Sat, 7pm. Ongoing. SF’s most talented singers, artists, and performers combine interactive shows with dining and dessert.

"A Cathedral Christmas" Grace Cathedral, 1100 California; 392-4400, Sat-Sun, 3pm; Mon, 7pm. $15-$50. Celebrate the season with the Choir of Men and boys with orchestra, featuring their signature performances of favorite carols, along with sacred masterpieces and yuletide classics.

"A Chanticleer Christmas" St. Ignatius Church, 650 Parker; 392-4400, Sat, 8pm. Check Web for ticket prices. The internationally renowned 12-man a cappella singing ensemble returns home with its critically acclaimed holiday concert.

"Electrofunkadelica & the BB Kink Show" Space Gallery, 1141 Polk; Thurs, 8pm. Shaunna Hall presents this live show and art exhibit.

Fauxgirls! Kimo’s Penthouse Lounge, 1351 Polk; 695-1239, Sat, 10pm. Free. This revue features San Francisco’s finest female impersonators.

Full Spectrum Improvisation The Marsh, 1062 Valencia; 564-4115, Tues, 7:30pm. $10-$15. Lucky Dog Theatre performs in its ongoing series of spontaneous theatre shows.

"The Greatest Bubble Show on Earth" The Marsh, 1062 Valencia; (800) 838-3006, $7-$10. Sun, 11am. Through Dec 27. The Marsh Presents Louis Pearl, the Amazing Bubble Man, in this fun show suitable for all ages.

"Handel’s Messiah with American Bach Soloists" Grace Cathedral, 1100 California; 392-4400, Thurs-Fri, 7:30pm. Check Web for ticket prices. ABS conductor Jeffrey Thomas leads America’s best specialists in early music in this special concert.

"Home for the Holidays" First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin. 865-ARTS, Check Website for ticket info. Wed-Thurs, 7:30pm. Also special show at Castro Theatre on Dec 24. San Franciso Gay Men’s Chorus presents the 20th anniversary of a classic SF tradition.

"A Judy Garland Christmas" Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason; (866) 468-3399, Tues, 8pm. $30. Connie Champagne brings her remarkable portryal of Judy Garland to the Rrazz Room.

"Monday Night ForePlays" Studio250, Off-Market, 965 Mission; Mon, 8pm. $20. PinaoFight’s female-driven variety show extends into December with new sketches, dance numbers, and musical performances.

"Nocturnal Butterflies" Z Space at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida; (434) 535-2896, Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Check Web for price. Erika Tsimbrovsky/Avy K Productions presents this multimedia dance performance dedicated to Vaslav Nijinsky.

"Old English Christmas Feast" Mark Hopkins Hotel, 999 California; (510) 887-4311, Sun, 4pm. $135. The Golden Gate Boys Choir present their annual fundraiser. (The choir also will perform for free in the hotel lobby on Monday, 11:30am.)

Porchlight Reading Series Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa. Mon, 8pm. $12. The theme for this month’s installment is "toys," featuring stories by people who’ve played with them, dated them, and been disappointed by them.

"San Francisco Girls Chorus Annual Davies Hall Holiday Concert" Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness; Tues, 7:30pm. $22-$58. San Francisco Girls Chorus presents the 27th annual, 300-voice holiday musical extravaganza.

Shadow Circus Creature Theatre Climate Theater, 285 9th St; Wed, 8pm. $10-$13. San Francisco’s most belligerent puppetry troupe returns with a cornucopia of holiday mayhem.

"Trannyshack Star Search Competition" DNA Lounge, 375 11th St; Sat, 10pm. $15-$20. Heklina and Peaches Christ present the 11th annual competition where virgin drag queens compete for a title.

"Veils and Apparitions" The Garage, 975 Howard; Fri-Sat, 8 and 10pm. $10-$15. Enter a poetic landscape, where boundaries bend between the folds of the human psyche in this evening of new works by a collective of artists.

"Wake the F@#k Up America: Holiday Edition" Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness; 392-4400, Fri, 8pm. Call for ticket price. The Kinsey Sicks, America’s favorite dragapella beautyshop quartet, bring their new holiday musical comedy to the Herbst Theatre.


"The Christmas Revels" Scottis Rite Theater, 1547 Lakeside, Oakl; (510) 452-8800, Fri, 7:30pm; Sat-Sun, 1 and 5pm. $12-$50. Experience the music, dance, and folklore of 19th century Bavaria with this beloved Bay Area holiday tradition.

"Garage Door Nativity" First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way, Berk; (510) 848-3696, Fri-Sun, 7:30pm. $5-$10. The church presents a poignant, humorous, and unique take on the Christmas narrative told without spoken words.

"Hubba Hubba Revue" Uptown, 1928 Telegraph, Oakl; Mon, 10pm. Ongoing. $5. Scantily clad ladies shake their stuff at this weekly burlesque showcase.

"It’s a Wonderful Life" Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave, Berk; Tues, 6:30pm. $10-$25. Berkeley Playhouse presents a staged version of the 1946 classic radio play, complete with live sound effects, microphones, and commercial jingles.

"Reality Playings" Temescal Arts Center, 511 48th St, Oakl; (510) 526-7858, Fri, 8pm. Free. Frank Moore will conduct improvised passions of musicians, actors, dancers, and audience members in a laboratory setting.

"Winter Solstice" Studio 12, 2525 Eights St, Berk; Mon, 7pm. $20-$25. Studio 12 presents musical performance, dance performance, and a winter solstice altar for this celebration of the longest night of the year.


Annie’s Social Club 917 Folsom, SF; Tues, 6:30pm, ongoing. Free. Comedy Speakeasy is a weekly stand-up comedy show with Jeff Cleary and Chad Lehrman.

"Big City Improv" Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter; (510) 595-5597, Fri, 10pm, ongoing. $15-$20. Big City Improv performs comedy in the style of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"

Brainwash 1122 Folsom; 861-3663. Thurs, 7pm, ongoing. Free. Tony Sparks hosts San Francisco’s longest running comedy open mike.

Club Deluxe 1511 Haight; 552-6949, Mon, 9pm, ongoing. Free. Various local favorites perform at this weekly show.

Clubhouse 414 Mason; Prices vary. Scantily Clad Comedy Fri, 9pm. Stand-up Project’s Pro Workout Sat, 7pm. Naked Comedy Sat, 9pm. Frisco Improv Show and Jam Sun, 7pm. Ongoing.

Cobbs 915 Columbus; 928-4320.

"Comedy Master Series" Blue Macaw, 2565 Mission; Mon, 6pm. Ongoing. $20. The new improv comedy workshop includes training by Debi Durst, Michael Bossier, and John Elk.

"Comedy on the Square" SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter; 646-0776, Sun, 8:30pm, through Dec. Tony Sparks and Frisco Fred host this weekly stand-up comedy showcase.

"Comedy Returns" El Rio, 3158 Mission; Mon, 8pm. $7-$20. Comedian/comedy producer Lisa Geduldig presents this weekly multicultural, multi-everything comedy show.

Danny Dechi & Friends Rockit Room, 406 Clement; 387-6343. Tues, 8pm. Ongoing. Free.

"Improv Society" Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter; Sat, 10pm, ongoing, $15. Improv Society presents comic and musical theater.

Punch Line San Francisco 444 Battery; Check Website for times and prices.
Purple Onion 140 Columbus; 1-800-838-3006, Call for days and times.
Rrazz Room Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason; (866) 468-3399,
"Raw Stand-up Project" SFCC, 414 Mason, Fifth Flr; Sat, 7pm, ongoing.
"Comedy Off Broadway Oakland" Washington Inn, 495 10th St, Oakl; (510) 452-1776, Fri, 9pm. Ongoing. $8-$10. Comedians featured on Comedy Central, HBO, BET, and more perform every week.

Jiz Lee: “An exciting time for queer porn”


By Juliette Tang

Photo of Jiz Lee by Nikola Tamindzic for Fleshbot

Jiz Lee exudes three things not frequently associated in tandem — sex appeal, brains, and sweetness — and copiously at that. High of cheekbone and strong of jaw, with a slinky frame and a startling, beautiful ethnic ambiguity, Jiz Lee has a face and name you don’t forget upon encountering. She walks the line between coquettish charm and full-on bravado, and in this she succeeds, exhibited tellingly by the opening line of the biography portion of her personal website: “With an ejaculation scene that knocked the concept of the facial cumshot on its ass, Jiz Lee unloaded into the revolutionary world of queer porn cinema.”

With degrees in dance and theater arts, Jiz Lee’s performance career began well before she started removing her garments on camera. Happily for her fans, she began to perform in queer porn while still remaining active in the local dance community, and she’s capably straddled both worlds ever since. I ran into Jiz in excess of five times before gathering my wits about to coherently request an interview, but I finally managed it. We emailed back and forth a few weeks ago and discussed her work as an adult performer, an artist, and a sex-positive activist.

SFBG: So, Jiz, what’s your back-story? What brought you to San Francisco and what led you to start performing in queer porn?

JL: I moved to the SF Bay Area from Hawai`i in 1999 to attend Mills College. My interests for a major were between experimental music (I was 1st chair French Horn throughout school and was part of the Select Band which toured the state. Band Geek!), in high school I had also performed in dramatic plays, and I was also in the Ensemble, the top level of dance which gave concerts regularly and through which I was able to take masterclass with well-known choreographers. (My background in dance began with Hula Auana and some Hula Kahiko and Tahitian which I performed with a Hula Halau and then in high school studied Limón modern dance technique and musical theater. I ended up finishing college with a B.A. in Dance and a minor in Theater Arts, along with a well-rounded liberal arts education that included Women/Gender Studies, and Queer Studies.

After graduation and working with several dance companies and non-profits, I began to feel the burn out. One of the festivals I produced lead me to meet Shawn, who now goes by Syd Blakovich. Syd told me about Shine Louise Houston’s new queer porn company Pink & White Productions, and asked if I were interested in shooting. I had become very comfortable with my naked body, particularly after touring with a modern dance troupe in a naked performance. I was also comfortable with my sexuality. I had seen “Please Dont Stop” “Hard Love & How to Fuck in High Heels” and Sex, Flesh in Blood”, however at the time there weren’t any porn opportunities available to me that I knew about until I met Shine, who’s first film was “The Crash Pad” and it’s all history from there.

I’ve since appeared in all of Shine’s feature films as well as her website, each of which has been awarded a Feminist Porn Award (in Toronto), the most recent being Champion which won Movie of the Year. I have also performed for Madison Young, and for Courtney Trouble who has run her queer company No Fauxxx for several years. Most recently I had the chance to work with Belladonna, a performer who was an inspiration to me when I first saw her work — she was the only pornstar I had seen with a shaved head. She’s athletic and a great performer and she’s very queer to me. “Strapped Dykes” releases soon and I was both honored to be a part of it, and thrilled about the rise of butch/genderqueer visibility in porn with casting of performers like myself.

Jiz Lee and Gay Pornstar Arpad Miklos, photo by Nikola Tamindzic

SFBG: Not only are you a performer, but you’re an activist as well. You’ve said on your blog that “performing is a feat of radical activism in itself”. How would you describe the particular kind of activism that reveals itself in your work as an adult performer? In what sense does it transcend the realm from pure entertainment into that of political, social, or cultural activism?

JL: I could write books and books on my thoughts on sex as a medium for social change and where this now fits within what could be defined as a renaissance of queer porn. This is not so much about the work “I’m” doing, but of the movement that is happening right now in a broader way. Work that new pornographers are doing, the talent who’s doing it with them, the sex toy retailers funding a lot of the work, and the growing audience of what used to be “niche” however is at this very moment entering mainstream adult industry consciousness — meaning that the money is there. There’s a major consumer shift happening, and if Oprah says women watch porn, you can bet the change is here. I think explicit queer sexuality on film will permeate the adult industry by opening dialogues about gender, sexuality, and sexual acts — queer porn can bring the seldom seen female-bodied authentic sexual response and pleasure to the screen, even going beyond basic female orgasm; the lack of which has given ‘porn’ a bad rap. Queer porn has the potential to affect the industry with celebrated natural sex acts including fisting, female ejaculation, sex while menstruating, and also safer sex practices.



THEATER It’s hardly news, but holiday shows can be fairly dreary treats. Given such periods of seasonal affective disorder as the theater may present, it’s a genuine surprise and pleasure to discover the wit and wile strutting the boards at SF Playhouse — tucked into a far corner of Union Square somewhere just north-by-northwest of that big Christmas tree — where the season offering is a sparkling production of David Greenspan’s She Stoops to Comedy.

Mercifully, the plot has nothing to do with yuletide or smiling through a bad case of rickets. Instead, it concerns a lesbian stage actress named Alexandra Page (male actor Liam Vincent) who decides to disguise herself as a man and try out for Orlando in a summer stock production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, in order to play opposite her estranged lover, Alison (Sally Clawson), in the part of Rosalind — another cross-dresser twice over since Shakespeare’s character is a woman disguised as a man in a part played, historically, by a boy. Playing opposite, in short, is just what Alexandra does, convincing everyone she is a man — including a besotted middle-aged gay actor named Simon Lanquish (Scott Capurro) — while spying on and ultimately seducing, in seemingly old heterosexual fashion, her charmed lover and costar.

Meanwhile, other romances abound in ways at least as complicated: Alexandra’s ambitious young director Hal (Cole Alexander Smith) and creatively frustrated assistant-and-girlfriend Eve Addaman (Carly Cioffi) balance careers and romance in precarious turn. And a highly affected actress named Jayne Summerhouse (Amy Resnick) seeks to rekindle an old flame with her seeming-opposite of the same sex: the literally down-to-earth archeologist Kay Fein (Amy Resnick) — an encounter that promises sparks, not least because it features only one actor.

But gender, identity, and blocking aren’t the only challenges put forth by Greenspan’s play. In She Stoops to Comedy, even the script is up for grabs, rewriting itself as it goes along through the caprice of characters who are liable to speak to, as much as from, their respective roles. (Kay, for instance, changes decades and job titles with relative ease.) Cunningly employing Shakespeare and other literary touchstones — in particular a 1910 play by Ferenc Molnár called The GuardsmanShe Stoops traipses over aesthetic and even philosophical ground after its carefree but astute fashion. It’s a self-consciously theatrical enterprise that gleefully eschews expectations, squirming pleasantly under the usual theatrical artifice as if looking to satisfy a really good itch.

A dazzling bit of low-key stagecraft, She Stoops is a tall order for any company. In director Mark Rucker’s staging, the action comes off as a pitch-perfect balance of wit and wonder, a loving riff on acting, connecting, and the role of the imagination in art and life. Heady and hilarious at once, it’s metatheater with a pulse, sporting plenty of fine opportunities for an exceptional cast — beginning with Liam Vincent, whose poise and subtlety in the lead are perfection — and including a couple of memorable scenes of actorly pyrotechnics exquisitely realized by Capurro and Resnick, respectively.


Through Jan. 9

Tues., 7 p.m.; Wed.–Sat., 8 p.m. (also Sat, 3 p.m.), $40

SF Playhouse

533 Sutter, SF

(415) 677-9596

Monster mash note



SONIC REDUCER "I’m from the underground. And I’m making pop music and I’m not a bit ashamed about it."

So sayeth Lady Gaga on the cellie last year on the way to a radio show at a Raging Waters in San Demos where she was dying to get wet. Alas, she forgot her Jellies at home and didn’t want to get her towering D Square pumps splashed ("I’ll find a private part of the park and just go in my birthday suit"). Yet I’m sure Christian Siriano could relate to this pop fashionista dilemma — regardless of whether he’d sniff at her taste-defying getups or not. After all Lady Gaga is the pantless, prep-school-bred amalgam of Carole King and Madonna reimagined as a hot tranny mess, a Gossip Girl turned Fame Monster.

OK, Gaga is no tranny, strictly speaking, though at the time she told me she was thrilled about appearing at SF’s Pride Fest ("I grew up in the dance and theater community — I’ve been surrounded by gay men and women and transgendered my whole life!"). Still, this bio queen’s obviously snatched more than a scrap of inspiration from clubland’s OTT drama kids, and she’s rough enough around the edges to make any sex bomb efforts an exercise in wise-ass deconstruction. From the gag of her "Radio Ga Ga" handle to her go-there way with the attraction-repulsion factor, Gaga is enough of a fabulous freak to embrace a gag-able frisson — I’ll be looking for that vomiting video vixen on the megascreen at her upcoming show at the newly reopened Bill Graham Dec. 14.

There’s more than a smudge of Her Dancefloor Madge-sty in the diva’s diamond-hard pop persona, wardrobe switch-ups, and workaholic drive. Lady Gaga impressed me at the time with a disarming sincerity and brusque sweetness: she was eager to be understood by serious music fans who might dismiss her as a throwaway popster. "The level of commitment and dedication it takes to put on a perfect pop show is very difficult," she exclaimed. "And I think some of the underground snobbery is fear and not understanding that discipline.

"Listen, I come from a party background and I used to party like crazy! That was a lot of my source of creativity," she continued. "But my life has changed a lot now, and I can’t do that shit. I got to go to bed, and I gotta wake up, I gotta work out, I gotta go to rehearsal. I got to pound, pound, pound, work, work, work hard so that every time I hit the stage it’s flawless. And if it isn’t flawless, I gotta work myself up to where it is — otherwise I’m just another pop chick with blonde hair."

But unlike Madonna, Gaga, like King, initially came from the flip side of the pop factory: as a songwriter, ghosting, she said, for Britney Spears and Pussycat Dolls. "I started to write pop songs mostly because I’m a classically trained pianist," she explained. "Beethoven and Bach and the structure of those classical pieces are really just rudimentary pop chord progressions. So it was something I understood." A vocal coach pointed out to her how easy it was to play a Mariah Carey tune by ear — "’It’s because you’ve been playing Bach inventions since you’ve been four, and it’s the same kind of idea’<0x2009>" — and she says, "That’s how I found out I had a knack for it, and I’ve been writing, writing, writing, since I was 13 years old."

Those skills came in handy when she started playing piano to beats in her undies at clubs in New York City’s Lower East Side, and had to come back to, for instance, a heckler who yelled, "Why don’t you play something serious?" Her response should be familiar to fans of "Beautiful, Dirty Rich"’s and "Poker Face"’s provocation: "I put my leg up onto the piano with my crotch pretty wide open to the audience, and then I did a very old school George Gershwin ragtime improv on the piano — pretty complicated. The whole idea was ‘Fuck you, I’m going to be sexy, sing about sex in my underwear, and then I’m going to do this really, really difficult piano virtuoso moment and show you it really doesn’t matter.’ People associate glamour and being female and being nude and being provocative with stupidity — there’s a great deal of intelligence and conceptualizing behind my work."


Sun/13–Mon/14, 7:30 p.m., $48

Bill Graham Civic Auditorium

99 Grove, SF

Our weekly picks




Keith Hennessy: Saliva: The Making of and Saliva

Saliva is probably Keith Hennessy’s best known and least seen work of the last 20 years. When it premiered on a cold December night in 1988 under a San Francisco freeway overpass — and when it was performed again in March 1989 — it had not been advertised, word got around in the underground arts community. Saliva was a ritualistic solo in which Hennessy forcefully, poetically, and hopefully spoke for his own manhood and for a community caught in the anguish of AIDS. To use spit — an "uncouth" bodily fluid — as healing balm was a revolutionary act in both humanistic and theatrical terms. It may be difficult in 2009 to recreate the sense of pain, helplessness, and fury that generated the work. But isn’t that what memorials are for? Lest we forget, these events are the opening act of a celebration of Hennessy’s work and contribution to the Bay Area that continues in January. (Rita Felciano)

Saliva: The Making of discussion and screening: 7:30 p.m., free


1310 Mission, SF

Saliva performance: Sun/13, 8 p.m.; $15–$25 (no one turned away)

check for location, SF




Don’t expect fairy folk and mythical critters to prance through the new Espers album, III (Drag City) — regardless of song titles like "Trollslända." That’s Swedish for dragonfly, band member Meg Baird assures me. Despite appearances and a name that evokes paranormal-minded cultists, it’s clear the group of mostly Philadelphians is more earthy and no-nonsense, as Baird reels off the various scratch song names and ideas Espers toyed with as they were making III — a witchy, intoxicating blend of psychedelia, prog, and English folk revival. For Baird’s interview, see this week’s Noise blog. (Kimberly Chun)

With Wooden Shjips and Colossal Yes

8 p.m., $13–$15

The Independent

628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421


Historic Libations

San Franciscans have long enjoyed a romance with alcohol — from the debauchery of the Barbary Coast era to the modern renaissance of the artisan cocktail, the City by the Bay knows how to knock ’em back. You can celebrate this high-proof history at Historic Libations, a party inspired by Cocktail Boothby‘s American Bartender (Anchor Distilling, 152 pages, $14.95), an expanded reprint of a classic 1891 book by one of the city’s earliest and most influential mixologists. Revelers can sample a variety of uniquely San Francisco cocktails, including the pisco sour and the Martinez. At the end of the festivities, they’ll be given their own copy of the book to take home and consult to perfect historic and potent concoctions. (Sean McCourt)

6 p.m., $40–$50

California Historical Society

678 Mission, SF.

(415) 357-1848, ext. 229


SF Mime Troupe 50th Anniversary Exhibition Birthday Bash

Even if 50 is the new 40, it’s rare for many 50-year-olds to be as robust as the SF Mime Troupe. Challenging entrenched racism, endemic poverty, and politics-as-usual regionally and nationally since 1959, the Mime Troupe has earned theatre’s greatest awards — three Obies, a Tony, and an obscenity trial. Celebrate a half-century of provocative street performance — and toast the next 50 with one of San Francisco’s most venerable, anti-institutional institutions— at this birthday party, which includes a special staging of its 1981 Christmas Carol remix Ghosts, an ode to those displaced by the building of the nearby Moscone Center. Stop back on Saturday for a four-hour interactive workshop with Mime Troupe collective members Ed Holmes and Keiko Shimosanto in which participants will be called upon to create their own "anticonsumption" pageant and parade it through downtown SF. (Nicole Gluckstern)

Performance: 7:30 p.m., free

Workshop: Sat/12, 12:30 p.m., $15

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-2787



Artists’ Television Access 25th Anniversary

The year 1984 contained delights and horrors, some more Orwellian than others: Ronald Reagan, Apple computers, Cabbage Patch Kids, Mary Lou Retton, Gremlins, Dynasty, New York’s "subway vigilante," American punk rock, etc. Amid that churning, neon-wearing, Cold War-tensed milieu, Artists’ Television Access was formed, and the activism-through-art hub has been keeping tabs on news and culture ever since. Toast 25 years of independent, radical, community-oriented programming at ATA’s Valencia Street gallery, the site of both a decades-spanning screening of works by staff and associates (Lise Swenson, Craig Baldwin, Rigo 23, Konrad Steiner) and a day-long musical get-down (with Ash Reiter, Eats Tapes, a raffle, and much more). (Cheryl Eddy)

"ATA 25: Quarter Century of Alternative Work": 7:30 p.m., free

"Underground — Experimental — Unstoppable": Sun/13, 11 a.m.–10 p.m., $10

Artists’ Television Access

992 Valencia, SF

(415) 824-3890



Hell yeah, y’all: New Orleans’ legendary Eyehategod is coming to town, seeping into your eardrums on a slow-moving sludge tide of doom, noise, reefer smoke, and fuck-the-system politics. Singer Mike Williams famously overcame his heroin addiction during a post-Katrina jail stint, and the band — semi-dispersed since the early aughts, with most members engaged in other projects (Down, Mystick Krewe of Clearlight, Soilent Green, etc.) — is at last back on the road. Everyone who’s been fiending since 1993’s Take as Needed for Pain (Century Media) can finally feast on what Decibel magazine called "a series of buzzing, lurching dirges steeped in feedback and contempt." (Eddy)

With Stormcrow, Brainoil, Acephalix

8 p.m., $20

DNA Lounge

375 11th St, SF

(415) 626-1409


Mark Morris Dance Company: The Hard Nut

If you have never seen The Hard Nut, Mark Morris’ extraordinarily musical and equally touching and hilarious version of the holiday classic, go now. The times are a-changing in Berkeley as well, and it may be quite some time until this glittering jewel comes back. The company is not scheduled to perform it here again in the near future. Morris set the piece in a cartoon version of the ’60s, removed some of the sugar but not much of the sweetness, kept the family spirit (though somewhat reinterpreted) alive, and heard things in the music as only he can. You will never see a dance of the Snowflakes — brilliant — like that and the grand pas de deux becomes a glorious grand pas de tutti. The score — Morris used every single note — will be performed live by the Berkeley Symphony conducted by Robert Cole. (Rita Felciano)

7 p.m., (through Dec. 20), $36–$62

Zellerbach Hall

UC Berkeley Campus, Berk.

(510) 642-9988



Tetris Tournament

Hey Tetris Master, here’s your chance to finally go out on Saturday night, do something semi-social at an art gallery, and win a prize — all while playing your favorite game of Tuck-Every-Tile-Rack-In-Snugly. But don’t get carried away: although you’ll have a chance to impress everyone with your phenomenal organizational skills, you won’t be taking anyone home. One other thing: you’re not going to have those cute little Tetris ditties to keep you in rhythm. Instead, there will be live bands (Microfiche, White Cloud, and Middle D). They might remind of those well-worn synth loops, but they’re more dynamic, more human. This is the night you’ve been waiting for; don’t let that sheep baaaaaah. (Spencer Young)

8 p.m., $5–$15 (free with membership)

The Lab

2948 16th St., SF

(415) 864 8855


San Francisco Silent Film Festival Winter Event

Perfectly timed as an antidote for all the year-end noise at first-run theaters, the SF Silent Film Festival Winter Event dips into cinema history, unspooling films made long before Peter Jackson got his mitts on CG technology or Guy Ritchie decided Sherlock Holmes should learn kung fu. The four selections include a 1927 Thailand-shot adventure from the future minds behind the original King Kong (1933), Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness; a U.S. premiere (90 years after the fact!) in Abel Gance’s 1919 World War I epic J’accuse; the Tod Browning-Lon Chaney collabo West of Zanzibar (1928); and a pair for Buster Keaton fans: the 1921 short The Goat, and delightful 1924 featurette Sherlock Jr. (Eddy)

11:30 a.m., $14–$17 per film (all-day pass, $52)

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

1 (800) 838-3006


Bazaar Bizarre

Handmade letterpress stationery, Scottish shortbread, dolls dressed up in home-knitted pinafores, wind chimes made from rusted dining utensils — love those old fairs and festivals. This local incarnation of the nationwide Bazaar Bizarre includes a one-woman metal studio, ceramic wares, boutique cupcakes, children’s clothes, hand-bound books, silk-screened apparel — and birds as finger jewelry. There will also be music by Slide and Spin Studios, crafty workshops, and giveaways. Get ready to overdose on cuteness and creativity. (Jana Hsu)

Noon–-6 p.m. (also Sun/13, noon–6 p.m.), $2 (children free)

San Francisco County Fair Building

Golden Gate Park

Ninth Ave and Lincoln, SF

(415) 831-5500



Jenny Scheinman

As any music aficionado knows, describing an act that avoids prescribed categories can result in verbal apoplexy of a most unfortunate kind. How then to best convey the many talents of one Humboldt County-born Jenny Scheinman, whose collaborative projects and studio sessions have ranged over the years from avant-garde jazz to moody blues, and whose formidably-wielded violin is the perfect foil for her straight-shooting, honky-tonk-inflected voice? From John Zorn’s Tzadik label to Lucinda Williams’ recording sessions, Sheinman’s been making a widening splash since leaving the Bay Area in 1999. Skillfully combining a wiser-than-her-years strain of down-home melancholia with sturdy yet evocative multilayered orchestral composition, her appeal lies not in a narrowness of focus, but an expansive, expressive musical palette. She’s showcasing her range in three separate sets — an instrumental duet with pianist Myra Melford, a vocal set with guitarist Robby Giersoe, and a final act with singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn. (Nicole Gluckstern)

8 p.m., $18.50–$19.50

Freight and Salvage

2020 Addison, Berkeley

(510) 644-2020



Kid Cudi

More Urban Outfitters than the rooftops of Brooklyn, Kid Cudi has successfully capitalized off of Kanye West’s hipster niche. For the MTV crowd in search of someone less embarrassing than West, Kid Cudi is their go-to neon hoodie. He makes intergalactic pop-hop mixed with lazy lyrics like "The lonely stoner needs to free his mind at night" and "I’ve got some issues that nobody can see<0x2009>/And all of these emotions are pouring out of me." A poet he ain’t. It’s more spectacle than speculation. The songs "Heart of Lion" and "Up Up & Away" are infectious with youthful ambition, and we’re reminded this is a kid from Cleveland who now wears his Air Yeezys on the streets of Brooklyn. Is this the future of hip-hop? I don’t know. I just came here to get high and dance in my skinny jeans. (Lorian Long)

8 p.m., $29.75–$33.00

Regency Ballroom

1290 Sutter, SF


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Berkeley Critical Mass
Help to promote different modes of transportation during this critical time of Global Warming and Oil wars at this community bicycle protest and celebration that takes over the streets of Berkeley.
6 p.m., free
Meet at Downtown Berkeley BART station
Shattuck between Allston and Addison, Berk.

Terra Madre Day
Celebrate Slow Food’s 20th anniversary by taking part in a worldwide “eat local” effort that aims to link chefs, artisans, and regular people. Coordinate your own event, join in with other people in your community, or just eat local in solidarity.
All day, free
San Francisco Bay Area and countries around the globe


Health Forum
Learn more about single-payer health care at this screening of two short videos on the national single-payer plan, HR 676, which is being supported by many progressive leaders, and California’s SB810, which passed the state Legislature twice, only to be vetoed by the governor.
2 p.m., free
Community Room
1501 Blake, Berk.

Velo Vigil
Rally to support cycling on the eve of the U.S.’s participation in the U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen this month. Cyclists will circle the Oakland Federal Building to create a swarm of LED lights, while pedestrians congregate in front of the building. Bring as many LED lights as possible.
6 p.m., free
Oakland Federal Building
1301 Clay, Oak.


“Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Consumption Christmas”
Take part in this theater workshop and performance with the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Class begins by collecting impressions and images among holiday shoppers, then returns to the YBCA to create characters, costumes, speeches, and actions for a procession that takes the show back to the streets of downtown for holiday shoppers to enjoy.
12:30 p.m., $15
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
YAAW Lounge
701 Mission, SF
(415) 978-2787

Art as Propaganda
Discuss tactics for making effective banners for demonstrations and community spaces with artist Hannah Blair. Blair will teach sketching designs with gouache paint and coming up with powerful messages and images. More work sessions will be available to gear up for the Bay Area Coalition for Our Reproductive Rights day of action Jan. 23, 2010.
2 p.m., free
Radical Women
625 Larkin, Suite 202, SF
(415) 864-0778

Rainwater Harvesting
Learn more about rainwater harvesting options in an urban area and hands-on skills for working with rain barrels just in time for our winter rains. Harvesting can be as simple as placing a barrel under your drain spout or using tanks and pumps to route water inside for toilet flushing.
10 a.m., $15
Garden for the Environment
Seventh Ave., SF
(415) 731-5627

“That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals”
Attend this vegan book-signing and ice cream social with children’s author and illustrator Ruby Roth. The event is designed to encourage children to think about the emotional lives of animals, factory farming, the environment, and endangered species in relation to the food we eat.
1 p.m., free
Café Gratitude
1730 Shattuck, Berk.
(510) 725-4418


Protest AIPAC
Challenge and confront the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which supports Israel’s hawkish policies toward Palestine, at their annual dinner.
5 p.m., free
Hilton Hotel
333 O’Farrell, SF

Mail items for Alerts to the Guardian Building, 135 Mississippi St., SF, CA 94107; fax to (415) 255-8762; or e-mail Please include a contact telephone number. Items must be received at least one week prior to the publication date.