Ben Hopfer

Snap Sounds: Richie Cunning


Listening to local SF rapper Richie Cunning’s new song Pure Imagination has proven to be terribly infectious, as I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.

A quote from A Bronx Tale about talent sets the stage as Richie takes you on a journey of his dreams and doubts in the rap game. I never thought a sample from 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory could be made into a rap song, but with a breakbeat layered on top it has a nice relaxing vibe. This is definitely a track to chill out to while thinking about one’s dreams.

Download the free song here


Small Business Awards Ceremony wrap-up


The Bay Guardian’s annual Small Business Awards party packed the upper room at Public Works May 11, with the winners and assorted friends and allies (including Sup. Ross Mirkarimi) enjoying the celebration of entrepreneurship and community. The hit of the night was Virginia Ramos, the Tamale Lady, winner of the Spirit of the Streets Award, who had the room spellbound as she talked of her life and her love for San Francisco. And it was clear that the diverse group of individuals and businesses all shared a strong belief that small, locally owned businesses make San Francisco great.

Live Shots: Die Antwoord, Rickshaw Stop, 07/16/2010


Zef!? I may not understand it, but I got a crash course after sweating, watching, and surviving a Die Antwoord show. If a hot and packed house crammed with drunks is zef, the Rickshaw Stop was so fokken zef. The duo of Ninja and Yo-Landi (DJ Hi-Tek was absent?) plowed through their debut album $o$ with fury and madness. Luckily I got one of the few vantage points to take these shots surviving most of it. After the jump, a video sent to us by Big Up Magazine

Global-eyed: The street art of Chile


These pictures are a mix of Chilean street art I found in Santiago and Valparaíso (which is really similar to SF in too many ways to list). It was really cool walking though the back streets and stumbling across these beautiful and colorful pieces. I tried to focus my lens on the best murals, funniest cartoons, and the pieces that I felt were more than just “graffiti.”

Live Shots: Air Guitar Championships, Fillmore, 06/05/2010


I’ve been to plenty of concerts in my life, and I’ve seen some pretty wild shows in various states of consciousness. That being said, nothing could have prepared me for this year’s Air Guitar Regional Championships at the Fillmore.

For those who don’t know, the Air Guitar championships are where bunch of costumed Air virtuosos compete for this title of the Best Air Guitarist and a chance to compete in the National finals in New York, and a chance to represent the good ol’ US of A in the world championship in Finland. With official rules and judging criteria, serious air performers have to do more than just wave their arms around to their favorite guitar based rock.

Serious competitors require some (if not all) the following: A guitar driven song that will resonate with the crowd/judges, a name that exudes rock, a ridiculous outfit, a collection of props, costumed assistants, dance moves, and the ability to rock the crowd. That’s not to say having all of the above will lead to success, as this years judges were especially tough (and tougher the more drinks they had). A high concept presentation may make the crowd excited, but a bring a weak performance and be ready to dodge a beer bottles.

This year’s crop of competitors ranged from last years regional champion simply named “Awesome” to more surreal characters such as Singar the Goat Demon (with goat legs and horns), Crusher (a mashup of everything KISS), Captain Nowhere (a 70’s glam rock throwback complete with cape), and Snake Riffskin (complete with eyepatch and arrow in his leg) among others.

While the performances varied from rocktackular to downright painful, the overall showcase was a pretty wild experience complete with an abundance of surprises. Stage dives were performed (both intentional and not), drinks were thrown with abandon, clothes were torn off, bouncy balls rained down from the sky, and the crowd yelled louder than most “real” concerts. And after the dust settled we were given a new regional champion in Cold Steel Renegade.

That’s what I think makes this event so much fun. We’ve all been to the concert where the band doesn’t seem like they want to be there and perform accordingly. The Air Guitar Championships are the complete opposite, All the performers WANT to be on that stage. They WANT to rock you (if only for their 60 seconds). However the best part of the night was the close out song, in which all the performers and anyone who wanted to jump on stage got to perform together in an explosion of air guitar greatness. Try doing that at the next concert you attend.

Live Shots: K.Flay, Bottom of the Hill, 02/21/2010


After braving crummy weather and the odd timing of her Sunday night show, I finally got to see my new favorite female rapper K.Flay live. To be honest, K.Flay a San Franciscan by way of Illinois, is way more than just a rapper. She makes her own beats, mash-ups, and plays guitar, in addition to rocking a mic and a party.

I originally stumbled across her mixtape “Mashed Potatoes,” a 12 song mash-up album in which she tweaked some classics for exciting results. Put it in your CD player while driving across the Bay Bridge and you’ll discover that a Red Hot Chili Peppers’ classic was ripe for K.Flay’s interpetation in “On the Bridge.” She also flips Eminem’s “Crack a Bottle,” as a dedication to her favorite drink, Vanilla Coke (in a bottle not a can).

The show had a pretty good turnout for a rainy Sunday night. While I showed up a little late, K.Flay already had the crowd jumping around by switching off between rapping, making live beats, and playing guitar. Despite a few technical difficulties, she moved the show along, held the crowd’s attention, and kept her cool at the same time. Go, K.Flay.

Holiday Guide 2008: Gifts for metalheads


Have a friend who’s too much metal for one man (or woman)? Get one of these gifts, sure to inspire devil horns and a big, snarling smile.


1. Black Cobra T-shirt ($12),; 2. Hammers Of Misfortune T-shirt ($13),; 3. Leather Studded Belt ($19.98), Cal Surplus, 1541 Haight, SF. (415) 861-0404; 4. Leather Cuffs ($75 each), Daljeet’s, 1773 Haight, SF. (415) 668-8500,; 5. Metalacolypse Season II: Black Fire Upon Us DVD ($29.98),; 6. Cannibal Corpse women’s underwear ($15), Shaxul Records, 1816 Haight, SF.; 7. iPod Touch 8GB ($229), Apple, 1 Stockton, SF. (415) 392-0202,; 8. Cannibal Corpse giant patch ($10), Shaxul Records, 1816 Haight, SF.; 9. Reverend Daredevil 290 guitar ($499), SF Guitarworks, 331 Potrero, SF.(415) 865-5424,; 10. Testament T-shirt ($20),

More Holiday Guide 2008.

Holiday Guide 2008: Gifts for burners


Forget faux fur coats and moon boots this year. The modern burner’s wish list is all about deconstructed leather, tribal jewelry, and Mad Max-meets-newsboy style.


1. Leather Gaitors ($12.98). Cal Surplus, 1541

Haight, SF. (415) 861-0404; 2. Rock N Socks ($15). Trunk, 544 Haight, SF. (415) 861-5310,; 3. Goggles ($15). Cal Surplus,1541 Haight, SF. (415) 861-0404; 4. Leather Utility Belt ($230). Arara, 665 San Jose, SF. (415) 756-5826,; 5. Miranda Caroligne pants ($63). Trunk, 544 Haight, SF. (415) 861-5310,; 6. Miranda Caroligne men¹s ruff shirt ($56).Trunk, 544 Haight, SF. (415) 861-5310,; 7. English Laundry fedora ($52).Therapy, 541 Valencia, SF. (415) 621-5902; 8. Bone Cascade of Curls earrings ($27). Monkey Meditates,; 9. Sand G Clothing vest ($125). Arara, 665 San Jose, SF. (415) 756-5826,; 10. Leather holster bag ($230). Arara, 665 San Jose, SF. (415) 756-5826,; 11. Black Wood hoop earrings ($24), Big Teardrop light wood earrings ($22), Sensuous Swinging Horn earrings ($27). Monkey Meditates,

More Holiday Guide 2008.

Holiday Guide 2008: Hip-hop gifts


For those whose music and style leans more Lil’ Wayne than Wayne Coyne, try some of the goodies on our homeboy (or girl) hotlist.


1. Shadow plaid jacket ($325). HUF, 812 Sutter, SF. (415) 674-3744,; 2. SF Hat ($38). True Men’s, 1415 Haight (415) 626-2882,; 3. 5-panel cap ($34). HUF, 812 Sutter, SF. (415) 674-3744,; 4. Jeepney Akira jacket ($96). True Women’s,1427 Haight, SF. (415) 626-2331,; 5. Hellzbellz shirt ($38). True Women’s,1427 Haight, SF. (415) 626-2331,; 6. Hellzbellz jeans ($98). True Women’s,1427 Haight, SF. (415) 626-2331,; 7. Onitsuka Ultimate 81 ($72). Shoe Biz 2,1553 Haight, SF. (415) 861-3933,; 8. Buddah Apparel ($32). True Men’s, 1415 Haight (415) 626-2882,; 9. Revolver necklace ($28); Starry Eyed brass knuckles ($22). Hello Drama jewelry,; 10. Supra Skytop ($130). Shoe Biz II, 1553 Haight, SF. (415) 861-3933,; 11. LRG Jeans ($74). True Men’s, 1415 Haight (415) 626-2882,; 12. Gold Coin "king coin" T-shirt ($37). D-Structure, 520 Haight, SF. (415) 252.8601,; 13. FTC Skatedeck ($36.95). FTC, 1632 Haight, SF. (415) 626-0663,

More Holiday Guide 2008.

Holiday Guide 2008: Gifts for bikesters


What do you get the fixie-riding hipster who has everything? Try these retro- and velo-inspired ideas, sure to go with their skinny jeans.


1. Velocity Deep V wheelset ($349.99). Valencia Cyclery, 1077 Valencia, SF. (415) 550-6600,; 2. D-Structure artist series Josh Mays "I DS SF" ($32). D-Structure, 520 Haight, SF. (415) 252-8601,; 3. Oakley Frogskin sunglasses ($110). Aqua Surf Shop, 1742 Haight, SF. (415) 876-2782,; 4. Penfield jacket ($92). True Mens¹s, 1415 Haight (415) 626-2882,; 5. Vigor helmet ($39.99). Valencia Cyclery, 1077 Valencia, SF. (415) 550-6600,; 6. Nicaelly shirt ($110). True Women¹s,1427 Haight, SF. (415) 626-2331,; 7. Solitary earring ($35). Arara, 665 San Jose, SF. (415) 756-5826,; 8. Nixon Tribella watch ($60). Aqua Surf Shop, 1742 Haight, SF. (415) 876-2782,; 9. Able "Azteca" print ($28). D-Structure, 520 Haight, SF. (415) 252-8601,; 10. Luxirie pants ($46). True Women’s,1427 Haight, SF. (415) 626-2331,; 11. Reebok Pump Omni ($110). Shoe Biz II, 1553 Haight, SF. (415) 861-3933,; 12. HellaTight "Whities Away" hat ($45).; 13. Messenger bag ($130). Timbuk2, 506 Hayes, SF. (415) 252-9860,; 14. Sugino Track crankset ($299.99). Valencia Cyclery, 1077 Valencia, SF. (415) 550-6600,; 15. iPod Nano orange 8GB ($149). Apple, 1 Stockton, SF. (415) 392-0202,; 16. Mixed Gauge beanie ($32). HUF, 812 Sutter, SF. (415) 674-3744,

More Holiday Guide 2008.

EXCLUSIVE: Downtown’s slate



Reports filed with the city’s campaign finance database show that six big downtown outfits — the San Francisco Apartment Association, the Building Owners and Managers Association, Plan C, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, the Committee on Jobs, and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. — are spending millions to stop progressive candidates and measures and elect a pro-downtown, pro-landlord slate for the Board of Supervisors.

These political action committees (PACs) use their huge war chests in several strategically significant ways.

They make direct monetary contributions to each other, with most paying directly into Plan C, which seems to stand for "Condo Conversion Complex" PAC. Almost $20,000 has moved between these committees in recent months.

They directly fund local candidate and ballot committees, pay for independent billboards, mailers and postage, write ballot arguments, and host fundraisers for their preferred slate. The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) has spent $130,000 to date promoting its candidates.

They use Carmen Chu’s image on $11,500 worth of the No on H mailers. They have funneled $63,000 into the into the Yes on V campaign, which is being used against progressive candidate Eric Mar.

You can follow the money yourself at

But with the next filing deadline set for Oct. 23, and some committees willing to pay late fines, much of what transpires won’t be disclosed until after Nov. 4.

The city maintains an updated list of independent expenditures and electioneering or member communications at

These show massive amounts of late money being spent to support Sue Lee, Alicia Wang, Joe Alioto, Mike Denunzio, Chu, Eva Royale, and Ahsha Safai and oppose Mar. Stay tuned. And vote early and often.