Lucy Schiller

On the Cheap Listings


On the Cheap listings are compiled by Lucy Schiller and Caitlin Donohue. Submit items for the listings at For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.


Pinball tournament Vitus, 201 Broadway, Oakl. 6:50 p.m., $5. Those adept at flipping the bird may discover an easy crossover into the dexterous world of pinball. Vitus hosts a tournament chock-full of raffle prizes.

A Negotiated Landscape discussion University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft, Berk. 6-7:30 p.m., free. Urban studies professor Jasper Rubin follows and examines the political wranglings over the San Francisco waterfront in his latest book, detailing grassroots activism against major development projects.

Stand-up comedy showcase Bazaar Cafe, 5927 California, SF. (415) 831-5620, 7 p.m., free. Bizarro winter germs got you feeling a little under-the-fog-cover? Head out to this yuckfest, featuring Danny Dechi and a passel of his funny buddies: Jill Bourque, Dhaya Lakshminarayanan, Mike Capozzola, and Rebecca Arthur, to name a few.


Inside Story Time Café Royale, 800 Post, SF. 6:30-8:30 p.m., $3-5. Local authors doing readings that match tonight’s theme, “aspirations.” Hopeful readings, at that.

Eric Shanower’s Road to Oz Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission, SF. 7-9 p.m., $5 suggested donation. Accomplished cartoonist Eric Shanower has made it his life’s work to convert L. Frank Baum’s Oz books into Marvel Comics graphic novels. He details his journey down his own yellow brick road as a struggling artist.


Fullmetal Alchemist: the Sacred Star of Milos screening Film Society Cinema, 1746 Post, SF. 2, 4:30, 7, 9:15 p.m. $9-11. The latest installment in an anime series which explores Europe’s industrial revolution, alchemy, and popular resistance comes to the SF Film Society.

SF Dump artist-in-residency art opening Environmental Learning Center Gallery, 503 Tunnel, SF. 5-9 p.m., free; Also Sat/21 1-5 p.m., free. There can be no cooler artist-in-residency program than that of Recology, which sets up its creative types to craft art from the detritus found in the dump itself. Great works have sprung from this collaboration, and this weekend Ethan Estess, Donna Anderson, and Terry Berlier will surely add to that canon.


Gina Osterloh lecture Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF. 2-4 p.m., $7. Osterloh’s latest work Anonymous Front, created in conjunction with a massage therapy school for the blind in the Philippines, explores blindness and identity with eye-deceiving photographs.

Ikebana demonstration Ortega Branch Library, 3223 Ortega, SF. 2 p.m., free. Chizuko Nakamura gently coaxes flowers into sophisticated submission in a demonstration of the traditional Japanese arranging art.

Kulinarya: A Filipino culinary showdown Carnelian by the Bay, 1 Ferry Plaza, SF. 4 p.m., free. Featuring a cornucopia of Filipino edibles and goods, this second annual event showcases the pili nut, which according to one expert is pretty much the next macadamia.


Seasonal plant sale Hayes Valley Farm, 450 Laguna, SF. Noon-5 p.m., free. Windowbox chard beats out the six-dollar variety any day. Hayes Valley Farm provides sturdy seedlings, hardy fruit trees (including pluots!), and those ever-prolific seedbombs, perfect for those whose personal green space is constrained to a crack in the sidewalk.


Ben Ehrenreich and Robert Arellano reading The Booksmith, 1644 Haight, SF. 7:30 p.m., free. Ehrenreich’s dystopian novel Ether has been likened to “Bambi directed by Quentin Tarantino,” while Arellano’s Curse the Names is the story of an apocalypse-to-be deep in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.


“The Language of Flowers” lecture San Francisco Library, 100 Larkin, SF. 6 p.m., free. Never send an ill-timed chrysanthemum again! Author Vanessa Diffenbaugh is doing a reading from her new book about the Victorian art of figuring out what severed dead blooms can say about you and the object of your affection.

On the Cheap Listings


Submit items for the listings at For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.


Humpday Happy Hour Good Vibrations, 899 Mission, SF. 6:30-7:30 p.m., free. How about this: Good Vibes will help you find your G-spot for free. But don’t cancel tonight’s date. Seasoned staff will be telling a come-one-come-all happy hour gang how to use the sex toy shop’s line of G-reat stimulators – and the first 10 attendees get a free tool, which will make any homework assigned a lot easier.


“The Story of an Oyster” discussion California Historical Society Museum, 678 Mission, SF. 5:30 p.m., free. RSVP to The salty contention over Point Reyes’ Drakes Bay Oyster Farm revolves around allegations of scientific misconduct as well as possible environmental damage. Today, the owners come to San Francisco for a mediated discussion of all things oyster.


“Four Painters California” opening party Firehouse North Gallery, 1790 Shattuck, Berk. 7-9 p.m., free. Four painters from Berkeley’s Firehouse Art Collective display their artistic takes on the Golden State at this California-spirited shindig, which will feature a kombucha bar and live music.

“You Must Not Blame Me If I Do Not Talk to Clouds” opening party Satellite66, 66 Sixth St., SF. 7-10 p.m., free. Artist Robert Long has created a rather nebulous dreamscape of an installation through which visitors can roam and explore the cumulonimbus of their imaginations.

“Tall Tales of Bad Luck” Writer’s Grotto open reading The Grotto, 490 Second St., SF. 7 p.m., free. You know how you get a writer onstage? Let them talk about how hard their life is, and provide beer. Hey, it would work for us – and will tonight, as Guardian alumni writers take the Friday the 13th stage at this venerable writer’s den. The unaffliated are welcome to read as well if they get there early enough to sign up. Refreshments provided by 21st Amendment Brewery, so no whining.


Writers with Drinks Make Out Room, 3225 22nd St., SF. 7:30-9 p.m., $5. Thomas Roche (zombie novelist — no, not undead, just likes to write about them), Mary van Note (zinester supreme) and Justin Chin (forceful poet, writer on subjects like the avian flu) get together for “an evening of uncomfortable sex talk.” Proceeds benefit the Center for Sex and Culture.

Sacred Harp singing convention Casa de Flores, 737 Walnut St., San Carlos. Also Sun/15. 9 a.m.-3 p.m., free. A sort of congenial triathalon for singers across the country, the Sacred Harp style of singing dates back before the Civil War, when church music was more egalitarian in spirit. Particularly noteworthy are the musical notes themselves, conveyed in an obsolete, polygon-based style.


Godwaffle Noise Pancakes performance The Lab, 2948 16th St., SF. 12 p.m., $5. Sonic experimenters R K Faulhaber and Hora Flora join forces over vegan pancakes for a “savage and transcendent” performance.

Masala Boom Room for Big Ideas, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF. 2 p.m., free. Derick Ion, nomadic photographer, Burning Man-Day of the Dead busy bee, and Room for Big Ideas’ resident artist, brings Kirtan and gypsy music, chai, and henna to Yerba Buena for an interactive afternoon with guests.


Free admission day Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission, SF. 11 a.m.-5 p.m., free. MoAD celebrates Martin Luther King Day with free admission and two filmmaker-led screenings. More Than a Month examines the problems inherent to condensing black history into one month; The Barber of Birmingham recounts, through the lens of the 2008 election, the discovered story of haircutting Civil Rights activist James Armstrong.


“How Money Corrupts Congress – and a Plan to Stop It” Novellus Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 700 Howard, SF. 7:30 p.m., $10. Sponsored by the Long Now Foundation, responsible for installing a 10,000 year clock in the side of a mountain, Lawrence Lessig talks congress reform.


From prison bars to classroom stars


CAREERS AND EDUCATION Wearing a neatly-pressed army uniform in his office at City College of San Francisco Charles Moore, tells a Guardian reporter that he is a warrior for education.

Moore is the recruiter and outreach developer for the college’s Extended Opportunity Program and Services (EOPS) ex-offender counseling program, Second Chance. His team struggles with the fate of underserved refugees from an expanding state prison population (at last count, comprised of 132,887 adults) and the budget cuts that have dug deep into universities and community colleges across California.

Their battle? On a minuscule budget of $150,000 program staff must find a way to help ex-offenders break the incarceration cycle and get a college degree.

And by most counts, they’re winning. Second Chance is fueled by a surprising mix of personal experience, stretched resources, and a steadfast dedication to an underserved student population. It is one of very few such endeavors in the nation.

Moore says one of the recurring problems that ex-offenders face in the school system are Rip Van Winkel moments, inevitable occurrences after years of incarceration. The most minute-seeming technological changes in the world — an automatic-flush toilet for instance, or unfamiliar crosswalk signage — have shaken advisees, sometimes enough to prompt drop-outs.

This kind of culture shock is precisely what Second Chance works to combat, in addition to more traditional academic concerns. Staff wear a number of hats, answering students’ questions about financial aid and programs of study. Peer counselors are also crucial to the program, students who have themselves matriculated with the help of Second Chance and are available to assist those with questions.

“This is a community college,” says Moore. “And we need to be in touch with our community.”

“Second Chance and EOPS really set up a model for similar programs throughout the state and the country,” says Juanita Gray, the program secretary. She has worked from its beginnings as Project Scorpio to the program’s 1981 refashioning under EOPS’ then-director Bill Chin.

Gray remembers the days when inmates would file off the Sheriff Department’s bus and into EOPS, get their handcuffs unlocked, and complete student applications. Nowadays Second Chance, which boasted 120 students last year, sees ex-offenders arrive of their own accord, having already received essential information about the program in prison.

Moore works within Bay Area neighborhoods to spread the word, but more often than not, prospective students seek him out.

“The majority of our referrals come from word of mouth, from within the state’s prison system. People move to the Bay Area for Second Chance,” he says.

Many of the program’s small staff have made it through both a prison sentence and a degree at City College. As Second Chance students they, like their current advisees, received book vouchers, Muni passes, a basic meal plan, priority registration, and advisory support on their journey towards a college degree.

Moore is one of these graduates.

“Those who work in the program are often ‘been there, done that,’ — we understand the struggle of stepping onto a college campus after 25 years in prison,” says Moore.

Like several of his colleagues, Moore passed through California’s penal system multiple times. After one stint, he remembers, “I began to take a serious look at myself. I always had to start over again with nothing once I was released. Things had not changed in my environment.”

But then he found Second Chance. Moore sees the program in stark terms: “education as an alternative to incarceration.”

The program’s staff and tutors say adjusting to a school environment is a major obstacle for ex-offender-students. Jeffrey Masko, who volunteers with eight Second Chance participants each week, tutoring them in English and math, describes the basic challenges for students who are coming from prison time.

“[Second Chance students] sometimes only have one shot, an hour at a library computer, to do their work,” says Masko. “For a lot of these students, there is no ‘later’ — they have to do the work before they get on the bus home, or [maybe if] they have an hour before class [they can do it then].”

If the program’s longevity alone is not enough to prove its effectiveness, statistics help. In the fall 2010 semester, more than 80 percent of students in Second Chance were in good academic standing, according to a 2011 article by program director Ray Fong. Also in that year, students bent on further study transferred to San Francisco State University, University of California at Berkeley, and Mills College.

Second Chancers have gone on to work as drug counselors, social workers, and activists.

“There’s definitely a strange phenomenon [within the Second Chance student body] of giving back,” explains Masko. “Even though they may have spent 10 years in the penitentiary, they look for fields that they can make a contribution within.”

Alumnus Jason Bell heads San Francisco State’s Project Rebound, a similar program geared towards helping the ex-incarcerated towards college degrees. Rudy Corpuz Jr., another graduate, founded United Playaz in 1994 to combat youth violence.

In 2010, students earned certificates in violence intervention, emergency medicine, administration of justice, trauma prevention, and case management skills.

“I haven’t had one person in my office say they didn’t want to give back,” says Moore, “They say it each and every time. And I’m coming up on 15 years.”

Looks good off paper


CAREERS AND EDUCATION According to the Princeton Review, that bicep-straining tome of college rankings responsible for many a young adult’s breakdown, most of the perennially popular majors (psychology, economics, communications, political science) are still alive and kicking. But plenty of alternative, even radical fields of study are blossoming that meld academic inquiry with tangible work towards change. From crafting tables for an Oakland school library to restoring native California plants, many students around the Bay are getting academic credit for innovative contributions towards a sustainable future. 


Ah, to be young… kind of. The adolescent years are rarely anyone’s favorites, which makes SFSU’s Youth Work and Out of School Time concentration in its child and adolescent development bachelor’s degree all the more important. Its students learn to directly address the needs of young people in trouble. Internship-heavy and based on first-hand experience, the program trains students to work with youth in after school programs, the justice system, social services, and beyond.

San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway, SF. (415) 338-1111,


The Bay Area is not only a gourmand’s nirvana, it’s also at the forefront of food-based activism. Cal’s nutrition-oriented bachelor’s program offers three degrees (physiology and metabolism, dietetics, and molecular toxicology) in addition to courses in “pesticide chemistry and toxicology,” “nutrition in the community,” and “human food practices.” We hope the studies will enable the next generation of food scholars to make a tangibly tasty difference.

UC Berkeley, 103 Sproul Hall, Berk. (510) 624-3175,


A degree in ASL is perfect for those gunning for a career as an interpreter for the hearing-impaired, and this associate’s degree or certificate from Berkeley City College is a great place to get started. Classes provide both practical and theory-based knowledge opportunities for intrepid future signers. Courses in the history and culture of deaf people in the United States augment the study of the language itself.

Berkeley City College, 2050 Center St., Berk. (510) 981-2800,


One of the first such programs in the county, City College’s Women’s Studies department has been feminist-ing since 1971. It schools students in sexual violence prevention, HIV and STI outreach, and the complexities and politics of domestic relationships. Students can study for an associate’s degree, but the sexual health educator certificate programs also a notable thing to walk away with.

San Francisco City College, Ocean Campus, 50 Phelan, SF. (415) 239-3000,


Calling all activist-artists, California College of the Arts’ community arts program is comprised of classes that study and build upon the relationships that creative types forge with their community. Students work aggressively for social change through community interaction. Past projects have revolved around designing furniture for an Oakland school and crafting nesting modules for roosting coastal birds.

California College of the Arts, 1111 Eighth St., SF. (415) 703-9523,


Fittingly, considering that Mills College is home to less than 1,000 undergrads (all female), students in this popular bachelor’s program can rely on lots of individual attention. Students can choose to concentrate on a political, international, or economic focus, prepping themselves, for instance, for future work in public policy or crusading against the death penalty.

Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakl. (510) 430-2255,


Crikey. De Anza’s restoration-geared associate’s degree program trains future stewards in wildlife tracking, ecological management, and conservation work. Less alligator wrestling as much as bird-tagging (in Bay Area, anyway), this major arms eco-warriors with courses with names like “Blueprint for Sustainability” and “Community-Based Coalitions and Stakeholders,” and pushes students to spend quality time out in the field.

De Anza College, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino. (408) 864-5400,

Events Listings


On the Cheap listings are compiled by Lucy Schiller and Caitlin Donohue. Submit items for the listings at For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.


2012 showing Chinatown Meeting Room, Chinatown Library, 1135 Powell, SF; 2:30-5:30pm, free. Ring in the purported year of our doom with a little cinematic apocalypse: John Cusack and Danny Glover battling mega-tsunamis, an irate Yellowstone super-volcano, and the inevitable detachment of California from the continental U.S.


“Being and Ideal Grace: Love and Spirituality in Robert and Elizabeth Browning’s Letters” lecture Northbrae Community Church, 941 the Alameda, Berk; (510) 526-3805. 7:30pm, $5 donation suggested. Bay Area actor Julian Lopez-Morillas explores the written missives shot between Robert and Elizabeth Browning, two 19th century romantic poets who penned some of the steamiest pre-Victorian prose known to Fabio.


Lands End restoration Lands End, Presidio, SF; 1-4pm, free. The coastal bluffs of the Presidio are calling out for a little TLC. Help plant, water, and weed in a spot more naturally beautiful than any human-made garden.


“Get Lucky” opening reception SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan, SF; 6-9pm, free. Celebrating experimental music pioneer and artist John Cage’s hundredth birthday, SOMArts stages an indeterminacy-themed evening, featuring the creation of a living tarot deck and an involved, improvised poem.

“Taking Stock’ opening reception Z Space, 450 Florida, SF; 6:30-8:30pm, free. Venturing daily into the packaged wilderness of grocery stores in San Francisco and Denver, artists Emily Heller and Leah Rosenberg took pains documenting and replicating how food is presented to the American public.

Sharon Lockhart’s pop-up “Lunch Break” SFMOMA, 151 Third St., SF; (415) 357-4035, 11:30 a.m.-1:30pm, free. An ongoing exhibition looking at the activities Americans pursue on our lunch breaks gets free and interactive today, hosting Vietnamese pop-up cafe Rice Paper Scissors, Blue Bottle Coffee, and a Skype chat with curator Sharon Lockhart. Share your lunch break traditions at a community table that will be set up to encourage conversation among fellow laborers.

“Working Conditions” closing reception Southern Exposure, 3030 20th St., SF; 7-9pm, free. For almost two months, nine artists have worked in view of the public under the theme of labor and process, and with varying degrees of audience interaction. Jennie Ottinger’s method serves as one example; she promised a certificate of recognition to visitors willing to mix her paints and clean her brushes. Nathaniel Parsons is another; he bestowed a thoughtful woodcarving on every visitor who accompanied him on a walk-and-talk.


Vintage Paper Fair Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, SF; Through Sun/8. 10am-6 pm, free. “Ephemera” can bring to mind molding moth wings and mildew spots as much as forgotten treasures of yesteryear. But Hal Lutsky’s annual vintage paper fair promises nothing but pristinely-preserved postcards, brochures — even stereoviews.


Battle reenactment Frankenart Mart, 515 Balboa, SF; Noon-6 pm, free. A hotdog-fixated art gallery in the Inner Richmond, Frankenart Mart staged a multi-month series of battles and battle-related artwork. Today’s reenactments (participant-led, nonviolent, and accompanied by hotdogs) are less Appomattox as they are Thanksgiving Day.


“Hiram Johnson and Woman’s Suffrage Vote 1911” lecture Berkeley History Center, 1931 Center, Berk; 2pm, free. Sure, we’ve got the vote. But failing to learn about our dark(er) past will only doom us to repeat it – reason enough to head to this free lecture at the Berkeley History Center on the progressive revolution sparked by California governor Hiram Johnson. After you get your fill of the talk, all visitors are invited to tour the exhibit on our state’s voting women, which is stacked with memorabilia and facts from the last century.


Word Is Out: A Queer Film Classic book launch SF Public Library, 100 Larkin, SF; 6pm, free. In 1977, a documentary on the lives of gays and lesbians helped shift the political dialogue of the United States – or at least, so says author Greg Youmans, who recently penned a book exploring the significance of the film. At this roundtable discussion with Youmans, an original promoter of the film, and the Word Is Out‘s makers, rarely-seen footage of the video pre-interviews conducted for the documentary will be screened.

Period Piece: Palou Avenue


Guardian history writer Lucy Schiller is exploring the city street-by-street in the slow week inter-holiday weekends. Today, learn about Junipero Serra’s right-hand man who now has a Bayview street named after him. Click here for yesterday’s installment on Laguna and McAllister Streets.


Palou Avenue

Named for Fray Francisco Palou, Franciscan padre, explorer, biographer

Francisco Palou (1723-1789) was an agent of Spanish colonialism and the right-hand man of Junipero Serra, another San Francisco street namesake. At one point, Palou singlehandedly controlled the operations of all the Baja California missions. After a few years he moved northward with his teacher and mentor Serra. Palou was also responsible for baptizing the first Ohlone Indian, founding Mission Dolores, and establishing the Presidio. His recounting of the Franciscans’ travels throughout California is regarded as a crucial primary source. The street named for Palou runs from Hunter’s Point to the Western reaches of Bayview. 


Period Piece: Laguna and McAllister Streets sense


Guardian history writer Lucy Schiller is exploring the city street-by-street in the slow week inter-holiday weekends. Today, learn about the laundry pool of Laguna Street and the bravery of Matthew Hall McAllister. Click here for yesterday’s installment on Green and Gilbert Streets.


Laguna Street

Named for Washerwoman’s Lagoon

A little south of Fort Mason a big old body of water once lay where San Franciscans took their (likely filthy) laundry once and a while. Enterprising citizens soaked and scrubbed their long johns, underthings, and the like ’til they resembled clean clothing, then laid them out to dry. The whole thing sounds rather idyllic -– yet an 1879 Chronicle article refers to the place as “that horribly-smelling and disease-producing pool,” a description that likely had some basis in reality. Our modern day Laguna Street stems from the site of the old quagmire. 

McAllister Street

Named for Matthew Hall McAllister, lawyer, judge

Southern lawyer Matthew Hall McAllister (1800-1865) first began practicing law at the sprightly age of 20 and ended up tackling a fearsome foe: the Hounds, a militantly nativist band of civilians bent on wreaking havoc throughout San Francisco. The Hounds peaked in 1849, robbing, murdering, and terrorizing Hispanic citizens in broad daylight. McAllister prosecuted 19 Hounds successfully, though no official sentences seem to have been enforced (several Hounds were later hung by a mob of angry miners). Fittingly, McAllister Street helps border the Civic Center; it stretches from Arguello to Market Streets. 


Period Piece: Green and Gilbert Streets sense


Guardian history writer Lucy Schiller is exploring the city street-by-street in the slow week inter-holiday weekends. Today, learn about a newspaper editor that died in a duel and a ghost from Philadelphia. Click here for yesterday’s installment on Brannan Street and Geary Boulevard.

Gilbert Street

Named for Edward Gilbert, newspaper editor, congressman

Like many a valiant man before him, Edward Gilbert died in a duel. The newspaperman exercised editorial control over The Alta California, which in 1848 was San Francisco’s only newspaper, and he made his positions on political matters clear as day. He served a single term in the U.S. Congress before returning to his post at the Alta and attacking General James Denver for mismanaging supplies meant for stranded, West-moving immigrants. Gilbert was 33 at the time of his death by Denver’s hand in a duel near Sacramento. His incongruously tiny street runs a block between Sixth and Seventh Streets in SoMa. 


Green Street

Named for Talbot Green, fraudulent businessman

Like any early pioneer to San Francisco, businessman Talbot Green left a lot behind back east. In his case, though, it was an entire identity along with a family and some pretty massive debt. No one in San Francisco knew of his checkered past and Green rose to prominence as a successful civic leader, which ultimately got him recognized by a ghost from his previous Pennsylvanian life. Green denied the serious charges – that he was operating under a fake name, that he had abandoned his family, that he embezzled large amounts of money. But he disappeared the day after accusations were made and his reputation never recovered, though he attempted to return to San Francisco years later. A major artery in North Beach, Green Street runs from the Presidio to the Embarcadero.


On the Cheap Listings


Submit items for the listings at For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.


Glen Canyon habitat restoration Elk and Chenery Sts., SF. 9 a.m.-noon, free. Glen Canyon Park has been to quite a few things over the years, from Alfred Nobel’s Giant Powder Factory to today’s multitudinous flora and fauna. Volunteers work tirelessly towards the urban oasis’s restoration and maintenance.

Chanukah Night 8: Jeremiah Lockwood concert The Tivka Store, 3191 Mission, SF. 7 p.m., free with RSVP (see website). The Idelsohn Society, dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of classic Jewish music, hosts a psych rock folk jam by Jeremiah Lockwood, Luther Dickinson (The Black Crowes, North Mississippi Allstars), and Ethan Miller (Comets on Fire, Howlin Rain).


Kwanzaa celebration Bayview Hunters Point YMCA, 1601 Lane, SF. 3-6 p.m., free. Ujima, the third day of Kwanzaa, honors communal work and responsibility; fittingly, the SFPL and YMCA team up to put on a veritable blow-out of a holiday. The celebration is part of a seven-night series celebrating the guiding principles of Kwanzaa.


I Like Ludwig concert Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, SF. 8 p.m., free with RSVP online or to (415) 692-5258. Nothing like some Beethoven to violently, excitably ring in the New Year. L.V.B.’s Second Symphony and Violin Concerto get the royal treatment by soloist Robin Sharp.


Last Vampire Tour California and Taylor Streets, SF. 8 p.m., $20. Vampiress Mina Harker has been alive for 100 years and leading Gothic tours of Nob Hill for 10. Tonight marks her last gory and guided gallivant.

All Day Punk Rock New Year’s Eli’s Mile High Club, 3629 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Oakl., 2 p.m. – 12:30 a.m., $10. Considering we’re about to embark upon another year full of economic gloom and doom, the band names from Eli’s lineup aren’t too uplifting. But at least they’re angry. World of Shit, Short Changed, Society Dog, and others perform in deliciously spirited form all day and all night.

1984 New Year’s Eve Mighty, 119 Utah, SF. 9 p.m.-2 a.m., free. Light on the Orwellian totalitarianism and heavy on ceaselessly pumping ’80s music, Mighty throws a period-themed New Year’s Eve soiree complete with champagne toast.

New Year’s fireworks show Pier 14, Embarcadero, SF. 12 a.m., free. The damp, strength-sapping chill of midnight on the Embarcadero is still worth the 15 minutes of promised pyrotechnic glory. Ring in the New Year with thousands of San Franciscans huddled together under the sky.


Opulent Temple New Year’s Day party Mission Rock, 817 Terry Francois, SF. 6 a.m.-4:20 p.m., $5 with RSVP. Dedicated to maintaining their sacred space in Black Rock City for top-notch electronic music, OT holds an all-day fundraiser commemorating its 10th year of existence. Music, food, bathrooms, and familiar faces grace Mission Rock.

Period Piece: Brannan Street sense (and Geary Boulevard, too)


Guardian history writer Lucy Schiller is exploring the city street-by-street in the slow week inter-holiday weekends. Today, learn about Samuel Brannan’s shipment of Mormons to San Francisco and John Geary side jobs (which include governor of Philadelphia). Click here for yesterday’s installment on Baker Street.

Brannan Street 

Named for Samuel Brannan, Mormon, ex-Mormon, journalist, Gold Rush instigator

Samuel Brannan (1819-1889) brought 240 Mormons to San Francisco on a ship along with a printing press, effectively tripling the tiny town’s population. And though he himself steered clear of panning for gold, Brannan was the first man to capitalize on the Gold Rush. And capitalize he did, publishing news of California’s gleaming bounty in his newspaper The California Star, while simultaneously selling mining supplies out of a well-placed general store. Brannan quickly became a millionaire, and with his notoriety, his character displayed itself. After being expelled from the church for some pretty questionable tithe diversions, Brannan became an integral member of San Francisco’s notorious citizen police force, the Vigilance Committee. Brannan Street runs in a fittingly prominent path parallel to Market.

Geary Boulevard

Named for John Geary, postmaster, mayor, governor

Just like the street named in his honor, John Geary (1819-1873) was a bustling behemoth, standing around six and a half feet tall and holding the dubious honor of more than 10 war wounds. He also managed to hold an impressive array of titles throughout his violent life, working as San Francisco’s first postmaster, last alcade (premier authority during Mexican rule), first mayor, military general, governor of Kansas, and governor of Pennsylvania. Geary levied the first taxes on San Franciscans, established the first jail (a stinking, unsanitary mess on the ship Euphemia), and ensured that both Washington Square and Union Square remain public spaces.  


Period Piece: Baker Street sense


Guardian history writer Lucy A. Schiller is examining SF’s history corner by corner this week — in this piece, the murder in Baker Street’s torrid past

It should come as no surprise that many of San Francisco’s streets are named for old white men. After all, many financially successful California pioneers were just that (occasionally minus the “old”). But the figures referenced by San Franciscan alleys, thoroughfares, boulevards, and avenues do hold some insight into the city’s past. The picture of 19th century San Francisco painted by its street names is a wildly weird one. Common themes: lawlessness, violence, sometimes ugly individualism, and the occasional progressive value.

Baker Street

Named for Edward Dickinson Baker, orator, senator, friend of Abe Lincoln

Edward D. Baker (1811-1861) holds a distinct honor in American history as the only sitting senator to have been killed in the Civil War. The British-born, Free Soil politician traveled in his youth throughout the Midwest (including a stint at a cotton mill in a failed utopian community) before moving to San Francisco and quickly making his mark as a lawyer and public speaker. A sort of Californian Abraham Lincoln (the President was a close friend and named his second son after Baker), the senator was renowned for his oratorical skills. Attorney general George Williams later called Baker “the most eloquent man I ever heard speak.” Baker was killed in Virginia at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. The silvertongued politician’s eponymous street stretches from Buena Vista Park to the Marina. 


Gifted: Double your pleasure with a matched-funds donation to the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society


Consider the cat signal illuminated — the pet protectors have stepped in to save the day. Pawesome, a formidably cute website dedicated to the wellbeing of our faithful animal companions, has announced a dollar-for-dollar campaign to help a shelter still reeling from fire damage. Still struggling to think of a gift for your cat-enthused father? You’ve found it, furry friend.

Since 1927, when it was called the “Animal Rescue Haven” and operated out of an old pool hall, the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society has worked to find shelter for more than 40,000 homeless animals. But a disastrous May 2010 fire in the building’s adoption center took a heavy toll.  More than a year and a half later, the shelter struggles to raise money to rebuild their haven for the feline and canine homeless.

Pawesome is able to contribute 500 dollars, meaning a total of $1,000 could be raised to provide the sweet beasts of the bay with an actual roof over their heads. Donations can be made online through the “Shelter Fire Relief Fund”, just remember to then forward your receipt to 


On the Cheap Listings


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Cartoonist-palooza gift sale and concert Mercury Café, 201 Octavia, SF. 6-9 p.m., free. Lloyd Dangle, a longtime deft lampooner of the one percent in his Troubletown comic strip, headlines a night of comic-oriented holiday offerings and live music. Mats!?, Jeff Roysdon, Steve Lafler, and the Dick Nixon Experience (responsible for the one-and-only “Oaxacabilly” sound) join.

Winter Solstice celebration Muir Woods Visitor Center, 1 Muir Woods Rd., Mill Valley. 3-8 p.m., free. You can spend the longest night of the year spent underneath the longest trees around. Solstice crown-making, musical performances, and luminaria-guided jaunts along Muir Woods trails light up the night.


Objectified screening Phyllis Wattis Theater, SFMOMA, 151 Third St., SF. 7 p.m., $5. From the very same folks who examined glyphs and serifs in the film Helvetica comes a film on the design of some of our most mundane objects. Potato peelers and toothbrushes will both be under discussion.

Animation Workshop Rock Paper Scissors Collective, 2278 Telegraph, Oakl. 6-8 p.m., sliding scale. Before gifs, there was the even simpler stuff: cut-out and stop-motion animation. Rock Paper Scissors holds monthly workshops on such styles of yore. Eager would-be animators are invited to come and create their own short films.


Berlin-Style Ping-Pong Project One, 251 Rhode Island, SF. 9 p.m., $5. With two whole reasons to celebrate (the first being that it’s Friday, the second that it’s Christmas Eve-Eve), there’s absolutely no excuse to pass up the latest match of “Berlin-style” ping-pong, the paddled craze sweeping the city. Join the frantic runners-round-the-table.


Mittens and Mistletoe Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St., SF. Also Sun/25. 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., $7.50 on Directed by two bonafide clowns, Coventry and Kaluza, the winter-themed variety show re-imagines trashcans, brooms, and similarly ordinary objects with the help of slack lines, acrobatics, and the usual circus magic.


Free admission day Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission, SF. 11 a.m.-4 p.m., free. Sure, there’s Chinese food and the Cineplex. But for those Christmas Day wanderers looking for cultural enlightenment, the CJM opens its doors for a day of spinning top-making and guided tours (including one of that sweet Houdini exhibit).

“It’s a Jewish Christmas” Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St., SF. 5-11 p.m., $10. Strip dreidel, a real-deal Chanukah bush, alternating works of neurotic brilliance by Woody Allen and Larry David, and a lavish spread of chow mein make this the best un-Christmas ever.

Schlitz and free country music Bender’s, 806 South Van Ness, SF. 9 p.m., free. Two dollars for the beer that made Milwaukee famous is great enough, but add the twanging grooves of local group the Dead Westerns and you may never make it out of Bender’s.


Kwanzaa in San Francisco Through Jan. 1. Various times and places, SF. Celebrate the African holiday of faith, self-determination, unity, and other universally clutch principles with these seven days of free events. Highlights: the Mon/26 keynote speech by City College trustee Dr. Brenda Wade, Dec. 28’s one-woman play on the life of Harriet Tubman, and feasts every night of the festivities.

Holiday Animation Film Festival McBean Theater, Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon, SF. Noon, 2, and 4 p.m., free with museum admission. Even if you start watching a holiday-themed short screened as part of the holiday animation festival and it doesn’t tickle your fancy, chances are you’ve only got about a minute or two left to go before it’s over, Scrooge. Hand-painted paper scraps, stop-motion animation, and stuffed animals headline the show.

A different kind of holiday fair: POOR Magazine’s Mercado de Cambio


“Welcome to the revolution,” says Mariposa Villaluna as she staffed a table at POOR News Network’s annual holiday market and knowledge exchange on Saturday, Dec. 17. “We’ve been doing this for centuries.”

Villaluna, who has worked with POOR on many of its community art, education, and journalism initiatives geared towards low and no-income San Franciscans, described Saturday’s “Po’ Sto” as an alternative to more widespread – and more consumerism-oriented – holiday sales. 

At the Po’ Sto’, which occupied the third floor of the Mission District’s Redstone Building, she trades her handmade earrings for radical talk and fellow artists’ wares. For barter or sale: cotton onesies boldly disseminate at 62 Occupy sites. 

Villaluna said the guide is a primer of sorts to sustaining an inclusive revolution and provides Occupy encampments with oft-neglected perspectives — those of the elderly, indigenous, and undocumented. 

POOR News Network, a response to corporate control of media, includes a magazine, offers training in alternative journalism, and stages community gatherings like Saturday’s holiday market. 

Twinkling strands of lights hung behind the young men rapping at the front of the market. A huge roast chicken slowly shrank in a corner. And those who hold POOR’s mission close to their hearts –from five-year olds to 60-year olds – called out to each other across the space. 

Next up for POOR, says the magazine’s co-editor Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia, is the realization of a decades-long dream. It will be called Homefulness and it will entail a community-driven space in Oakland that will hold a garden, school, journalism training center, and yes, homes. 

“Poverty is an industry nowadays,” says Gray-Garcia. “Our purpose is to launch microbusiness economies, to collectivize our forces and our traditions.”

No more Scrooge: A list of nonprofits that still have holiday volunteer slots


Mincemeat, Christmas goose, Hannukah gelt, lush sprays of holly bedecking the proverbial halls – traditionally, the December holidays are all about richness, overeating, and expense. But — especially these days — not everyone will be blessed with bounty over the holidays. In trying economic times, the number of San Franciscans struggling to put food on the table let alone buy their loved ones presents is steadily growing. 

So volunteer. San Franciscans have a long-standing tradition of helping out come the holidays, and many of the traditional community meals and grocery hand-outs have filled up their guest lists like a Big Freedia show during Pride Week. Nevertheless, a bunch of opportunities remain for those looking to lend a last-minute hand.

San Francisco Food Bank

Given recent funding cuts to the organization, the San Francisco Food Bank is taking all the help it can get in its quest to feed an ever-growing number of hungry San Franciscans. An enviably efficient volunteer system relies on interested helpers to sign up on an online calendar before showing up for their shift of repackaging food for community distribution.

900 Pennsylvania, SF.

Glide Memorial Church

Signing up to volunteer with Glide is a bit like jockeying for the last square of fudge. But luckily the organization – a superpower of Samaritan spirit – has a few spots left for December. Chose between an early-morning grocery bag distribution gig or a toy sorting task.

330 Ellis, SF.

St. Anthony’s

Packed to the gills with volunteers for its main events, St. Anthony’s is still calling out for help with two upcoming items: managing curbside drop-offs on December 23rd and 24th and clothing collection throughout the month. Both duties require the volunteer to be at least somewhat physically fit and able to lift 25 pounds of goodies. Shifts are four to five hours long and can be signed up for via a voicemail message to the volunteer hotline (see below). 

150 Golden Gate, SF. (415) 592-2829,

Tenderloin Tessie

If you’re looking to participate in a volunteer-run, community-oriented holiday dinner, this is one of  the best bets as better-known options are already staffed out the wazoo. Tenderloin Tessie provides holiday meals to homeless, low-income, disabled, and elderly San Franciscans – and has a wide-open sign-up sheet for volunteers. December 24th shifts involve loading and unloading food from the truck while shifts on Christmas Day are dedicated to decorating the dining room, preparing and serving dinner, and cleaning up afterwards. 

First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin, SF. Call Michael Gagne at (415) 584-3252 to register,

Meals on Wheels San Francisco

The nationwide organization that delivers healthy meals to homebound seniors is peddling its Chefs of the Bay Area calendar for the next few weeks at various locations throughout the city. Individual volunteers are needed to staff the tables and promote the calendars, the proceeds from which eventually translate into someone’s hot holiday dinner.

1375 Fairfax, SF. Contact Danie Belfield at or call (415) 343-1311,

Habitat For Humanity

Habitat Greater San Francisco holds an ongoing inter-faith build on one of their largest projects to date, a 36-unit condominium at 7555 Mission.  No construction experience is necessary, and December 21 marks the start of their Winter Solstice Build, a community-driven effort to get the Daly City residence available to low-income tenants as soon as possible.

7555 Mission, Daly City. Sign up online at

Little Brothers San Francisco

Not everyone has family around for the holidays, and older San Franciscans can be especially in need of some care and affection. Little Brothers organizes several opportunities for volunteers looking to befriend community elders, from Christmas Day house visits to phone check-ins to help at the office. 

Various locations, SF. Sign up online or at (415) 771-7957,

AIDS Emergency Fund

Unlimited slots for volunteers pretty much guarantees a perfect present of a Christmas Eve dinner for San Franciscans with HIV/AIDS and their families. Last year, more than 1,000 people ate; this year (the 24th such dinner), a similar turnout is expected. Load-in of supplies begins at 10 a.m. on December 23rd and shifts run all day on Christmas Eve, starting at 8 a.m.

War Memorial Veterans Building, 401 Van Ness, SF., sign up at

Jewish Family and Children’s Services

Gather and deliver holiday treats to those who might not otherwise celebrate the holidays on December 16th and 18th at the JFCS. Individuals and groups of volunteers are both welcome; sign up by December 9.

2150 Post, SF. Call (415) 449-3832 or email to sign up. 


A sprinkling of volunteer spots remains (especially post-Christmas) at the SPCA’s annual window display at Macy’s Union Square. Staff the windows – full of then-and-there-adoptable creatures – to raise money for future SPCA programs. 

Email, use the online calendar, or call (415) 554-3008 to register, 

Hayes Valley Farm

Always open to volunteers, Hayes Valley Farm, an off-ramp-turned-urban-ag-oasis, holds special holiday hours for those looking to weed away end-of-year poundage or just engage with some of the happiest plants and gardeners in San Francisco. December 27 marks the first post-holiday gardening session and is sure to host droves of veterans and newbies alike.

450 Laguna, SF.


On the Cheap Listings


Submit items for the listings at For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.


Drag Queens on Ice Union Square Ice Rink, 333 Post, SF. 8-9:30 p.m., $10. Mutha Chucka, Anna Conda, Lil’ Hot Mess and other dazzlingly-named lovelies gleefully speed and twirl through the Union Square ice skater crowd.

Archie Green: the Making of a Working-Class Hero talk Green Arcade, 1680 Market, SF. 7 p.m., free. Historian Sean Burns captured foundational labor activist Archie Green’s story over years of interviews and conversations. Now he shares how Green became a tireless and radical advocate for the preservation of American folklore.



Winter Wunderkammer holiday art sale The Lab, 2948 16th St., SF. 6-11 p.m. Also Sat/10, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., free. For the 15th year, the Lab hosts a jewel of a holiday sale where it’s possible to spend anything from one buckaroo to 50. Up for grabs: small-format work by local artists.

OCCUPY! screening Artists’ Television Access, 992 Valencia, SF. 6:30 p.m., donation requested. ATA hosts a multimedia collage of the Occupy movement. Poetry, videos, history, aerial maps, and performance art relating to the massive protest are on the docket; all donations directly benefit Occupy San Francisco.

Luke Warm Water and Jim Barnard poetry reading Nefeli Caffe, 1854 Euclid, Berk. (510) 841-6374. 7 p.m., free. Stirring poets Luke Warm Water (a virtuoso of spoken word hailing from Rapid City, South Dakota) and Jim Barnard (cofounder of Berkeley’s Poetry Express readings) join forces for a colorful finger-snapper.



End of Semester show Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, 2868 Mission, SF. 2-5 p.m., $5. Mission Cultural Center showcases the multitudinous and fine community talents it has worked to cultivate this semester, from Afro-Peruvian dancers to Samba Jam Brazilian percussion artists.

Writers with Drinks Make Out Room, 3225 22nd St., SF. 7:30-9:30 p.m., $5-10 sliding scale. Gail Carriger, Sean Baby, Mike Jung, and Diana Salier have between them a prestigious prize for young adult lit, a balls-out comic strip, MTV appearances, and a new poetry chapbook on heartache and Wikipedia. The Center for Sex and Culture reaps the proceeds from this all-star reading.

Vagabond Indie Craft Fair Urban Bazaar, 1371 9th Ave., SF. 12:30-6 p.m., free. Independent artisans and the SF Etsy street team unite amongst Urban Bazaar’s backyard succulents for a small-scale, high-quality local craft fair.

1901 Maritime Christmas Hyde Street Pier, SF. 6-9 p.m., free with reservation to (415) 447-5000. If the idea of riding the waves circa 1900 brings to mind scurvy and mishaps with icebergs, you’ve got it wrong. The National Park Service trots out costumed actors and historic ships for a warm, watery Christmas performance by lamplight.

East Bay Alternative Press Book Fair Berkeley City College, 2050 Center, Berk. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., free. Local independent writers, publishers, zinesters and craftspeople flood downtown Berkeley to showcase boundlessly-inventive bookworks.



Christine Schmidt book signing Museum Store, SFMOMA, 151 Third St., SF. 2 p.m., free. Christine Schmidt, the artist behind Yellow Owl Workshop and those ubiquitous, beautifully-printed California poppy postcard sets, demonstrates a project and signs her recent how-to printmaking book meant for, she says, those with “low budgets and high ambition.”



Occupy Phoenix Books readings Phoenix Books, 3957 24th St., SF. 6:30 p.m., free. Young ‘uns from 826 Valencia join Denise Sullivan, author of Keep on Pushing: Black Power Music from Blues to Hip Hop for a night of Occupy-oriented readings. Accompanying the shindig is local Americana act McCabe and Mrs. Miller.

Skew your perceptions: Lomography’s new gallery store opens Thursday


Almost as cryptic as some of their warped, blurred, color-drenched photos is the Lomography Society’s 10th rule: “Don’t worry about any rules.” For an artistic movement as commercially successful (the fantastically cheap cameras sell at Urban Outfitters worldwide) and historically important (the LOMO LC-A, the first lomographic camera, was mass produced in Soviet Russia for the enjoyment of the proletariat masses) as Lomography, it sure is hard to pin down.

The term at this point encompasses a photographic style, loose and experimental, centered upon the  purposely faulty cameras that produce wildly unexpected results. But Lomography is also a broad, inclusive movement that hosts a massive website on which “Lomographers” can display their work – not to mention a magazine emphasizing the “analogue lifestyle” and gallery stores the world over.

San Francisco gets its own hub of lomographic activity December 8 with the opening of a gallery store at 309 Sutter. 

Our city is already home to quite a bit of Lomogramania; any foray into the geotagged-recesses of the expansive website yields glimpses of our bridge pillars and telephone wires, delightfully skewed. 

The new gallery store will serve as as a kind of colorful, artistically-bent Apple store, chockful of products, sure, but just as much about the tactile, try-out experience. Veterans and the uninitiated alike can participate in workshops, snag items from the entire Lomography product line, and check out local work on display. 

The gallery store, the latest of more than 30 from Guangzhou to Cologne, opens Thu/8 with a party that seems fittingly eclectic, featuring barbeque, moonshine punch, bluegrass, and the soul stylings of Hard French’s DJ Carnita. The store’s regular hours will be Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-7 p.m.


Lomography San Francisco gallery store opening

Thu/8 7 p.m., free

309 Sutter

(415) 248-0083



Period Piece: A walk in the (man-made) woods


It’s easy to get a little romantic standing in a beam of filtered sunlight inside Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve. The 61-acre expanse of ivy and eucalyptus feels like a remnant of an earlier, wilder San Francisco. 

But the densely tangled forest backing UCSF’s medical campus is actually man-made. It harkens back to the heyday of good old Adolph Sutro, bathman, silver magnate, and forest enthusiast. Sutro covered the mountain on his sandy property with many of the trees standing today.

Hoofing the Historic Trail, a mild romp of an urban hike, is a little bizarre. The behemoth mass of the UCSF Medical Center glints steadily through the trees, and yet it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’re deep in a damp cloud forest.

Today’s eucalyptus trees obscure a view that Craig Dawson, founder of the Mt. Sutro Stewards, says was once one of the best around. “Imagine roaming here on horseback and seeing these vistas,” said Dawson. “You could see both Angel Island and Alcatraz.” 

A 1950s aerial view of Mt. Sutro. Photo courtesy San Francisco Public Library

Nowadays, you have to be willing to brave major poison oak and a steep off-trail grade if it’s an unfettered view you’re hankering for. 

Dawson and his crew of volunteer trailworkers accidently uncovered the trail in 2006, and Dawson’s best guess is that it served joyfully meandering equestrians in the 1880s. 

Now, the narrow footpath stretches from an unassuming Cole Valley gate to the lofty summit of Mount Sutro, where, strangely enough, the Cold War managed to make its mark. Rotary Meadow, the ending point of the Historic Trail, housed a Nike radar site – a high vantage point from which it was possible to order the launch of deadly anti-aircraft missiles a few miles away. 

To access the Historic Trail, most people start in Cole Valley, on the west side of Stanyan where it meets 17th Street. A green sign on a small gate indicates the trailhead. The hike will gradually climb up through Woodland Canyon before reaching Medical Center Way, the large thoroughfare cutting through and around Mt. Sutro. The trail continues directly across the road and is marked with with two orange flags. For maps, check out


Flipping the bird: Your best bets for last-minute Thanksgiving meals


Wandering through the smorgasbord of Thanksgiving options is no small feat.Turkey, duck, fake bird, no bird? Pie flavors, side dishes, stuffings, and guestlists present a swamp of options — assuming you’re staying home to toil in the kitchen.

But for those eager to get out for whatever reason – a volunteering spirit, a mounting desire to escape from relatives, your ex decided to bring him to your Friendsgiving – there’s a cornucopia of alternative Thanksgiving choices in the Bay. Some of these samplings are far cheaper (and maybe even better?) than an at-home meal attempt. Some entail helping out folks who might not otherwise get to eat on T-Day. Some are real-deal moveable feasts: order it up and take it to go. But all run their pudgy fingers up and down the backbone essential of Turkey Day: eating, and then eating some more.

Cafe Gratitude

Various volunteer opportunities, free meal, Noon-3 p.m.

The Mission, Berkeley, and San Rafael locations of Café Gratitude put on a veritable feast for the walking broke and volunteers alike. Some gems we sighted on the exisquite vegan menu include a butternut squash tamale and a pecan-persimmon salad. 

Various Bay Area locations. Call (415) 824-4652 to volunteer. 

Tenderloin Block Party

Volunteer needed to pass out meals, registration starts at 9 a.m.

City Impact 911’s 27th Tenderloin Block Party provides more than five thousand hot meals to Tenderloin residents – and it’s still looking for volunteers. $25 gets you registered and helps to boost the program.

240 Eddy, SF. Call (415) 292-1770 to register, 

Cruelty-free Thanksgiving potluck

Free potluck, 3:30 p.m.

Sponsored by Sonoma County’s vegan society, the free potluck holds the promise of a quinoa overload. Reviews of dinners past are breathless in their praise of creative animal-free offerings. 

1400 W. College Ave., Santa Rosa.

Tommy’s Joynt

Thanksgiving dinner, prices vary, 10 a.m.-2 a.m.

“Where turkey is king,” reads the front door of Tommy’s Joynt, an ageless wonder on Van Ness and Geary streets that has a menu ranging from meat to yep, more meat. Prices sit safely below $10 and the Joynt even has some pies its made for the special day. Just be prepared for a massive line (no reservations available)

1101 Geary, SF.

Park Chalet and Beach Chalet

Thanksgiving dinner, $43, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Thanksgiving in the land of foggy dunes, sedate Sunday brunches, and bottomless mimosas? Believe it. Long the lone outposts of tastiness where Golden Gate Park meets Ocean Beach, the Chalets host an all-day, $43 buffet of red pumpkin soup, turkey, prime rib, local cheeses, pumpkin pie tartlets, and the in-all-likelihood delicious “cold appetizer station.”

1000 Great Highway, SF. (415) 386-8439,

Cheung Hing

Turkeys, $55, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Known throughout the Sunset and beyond for the roasted duck, Cheung Hing is one of those spots with a dripping rotisserie that works partially to baste fowl and partially to mesmerize children. If you’re searching for ambiance, this might not be the spot to chow down – but in that case pick up a special turkey to-go, haul it up to nearby Grandview Park, and enjoy one of the best city views around.   

2339 Noriega, SF. (415) 665-3271

Chenery Park

Thanksgiving menu, under $30, 5:30-9:15 p.m.

With a special three-course Thanksgiving menu, one of Glen Park’s family restaurant darlings transforms into a nicer, cleaner, thoroughly festive version of home feasting. Reservations are going fast.

683 Chenery Street, SF. (415) 337-8537,

Pena Pachamama

Raw Thanksgiving dinner, $39.95-$45, 4-10 p.m.

The South American oasis of North Beach, Pena Pachamama serves up a raw meal with the same decadence as any turkey-centered one. A “tuRAWkey loaf” comes rolled with apple-cinnamon stuffing and accompanied by creamy squash soup and white truffle mashed potatoes, plus pumpkin pudding with vanilla persimmon sauce. Live bouncy music accompanies the feast. 

1630 Powell, SF. (415) 646-0018,


Thanksgiving Dinner, $28-$34 (entrees), 1-10 p.m.

Rabbit and biscuits, local foie gras, molasses-glazed turkey – the slowly-wrought, rich feast offered at the Mission eatery will open the door to leftovers aplenty. Lingering over the three-course meal seems encouraged, as dinner starts at 1 p.m.

1101 Valencia, SF. (415) 401-8959,

Luna Park

Thanksgiving dinner, $34, 5:30-10:30 p.m.

Thanksgiving sides, those taken-for-granted little dishes supporting the ballast that is the turkey, are not meant to be light. The Mission’s Luna Park knows this, offering brussel sprouts in brown butter, salads with equal parts cheese and leaf, and garlicky, milky mashed potatoes. They don’t forget the turkey either. 

694 Valencia, SF. (415)553-8584,

Moss Beach Distillery

Thanksgiving Dinner, $35.95, 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. 

They do serve the bird tonight, but the South Bay’s Moss Beach Distillery might be the spot to come for a fishier alternative. Known for their seemingly endless cocktail list and wild-caught seafood, the sea is the limit. 

140 Beach Way, Moss Beach. (650) 728-5595,


Thanksgiving brunch, various prices, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. 

It’s often prudent to just leave the house altogether on a day renowned for slow-burn family feuds. But finding a cheerful spot can be the rub – no one wants to belly up to a skunky-tasting Anchor Steam with a barful of lethargic drinkers. Enter Zazie, Cole Valley’s warm neighborhood bistro, which will offer a long, relaxed Thanksgiving brunch perfect for those looking to linger until the last possible second. No reservations accepted.

941 Cole, SF. (415) 564-5332,


On the Cheap Listings


Submit items for the listings at For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.


Broken Circles reading and benefit Sacred Grounds Coffee House, 2095 Hayes, SF. 7:30 p.m., free. On the eve of the largest feast of the year, it may be prudent to remember that not everyone can celebrate Thanksgiving over heaping piles of food. Inspiring sister readings around the country, Broken Circles: A Gathering of Poems for Hunger has compiled the work of numerous poets writing on the ever-pressing subject of hunger. Canned food and monetary donations assist the San Francisco Food Bank.


Thanksgiving Dinner Café Gratitude, 2400 Harrison, SF; 1730 Shattuck, Berk.; 2200 Fourth St., San Rafael. Noon – 3 p.m., free. Meaty drumsticks may not be for everyone, but decadent mid-afternoon feasts sure are. Café Gratitude serves a free vegan version of the traditional smorgasbord, offering a butternut squash tamale, pecan and persimmon salad, cranberry salsa, and chocolate macaroons. Volunteers are needed to help officiate, see website to sign up.


Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland 4th and A St., San Rafael. 12 – 8 p.m.. Also Sat/26, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., free. If it’s possible to one-up any of the admittedly great holiday fairs from the past few months, San Rafael’s winter-themed version does it this year with forty tons of snow dumped onto a downtown street for kids’ sledding. Got a little cousin you’ve been meaning to spend QT with? Ask Jimmy’s mom for a playdate with the little man.

Ways and Means Committee concert Yoshi’s, 1330 Fillmore, SF. 6 – 9 p.m., free. Yoshi’s tried-and-true sushi and jazz combo comes to the everyperson with a new (free) series spotlighting local musicians. This week: the six-member Ways and Means Committee.


Christmas in San Francisco Crystal Fair Building A, Fort Mason Center, 99 Marina, SF. Also Sun/27. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., $6. Whether you’re here because of an off-kilter aura, bad back, or for want of a nice necklace, thousands of gleaming rocks await at Fort Mason.

Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studio Various locations, Berk. Also Sun/27 and December weekends. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., free. Hadley Williams, who creates exquisite pieces from (among other things) pasta and masking tape, and Lewis Suzuki, a 91-year-old landscape painter, are among the Berkeley artists opening their studios on weekends for the next month.


Golden Gate Park Cyclocross Metson Lake, Middle Drive West, Golden Gate Park, SF. a.m. – 3 p.m., free. After years of slight tweaking, the course for today’s race is projected to provide serious challenges to even the most quadricep-blessed of riders. Running behind Metson Lake and through the trees of Golden Gate Park, the Cyclocross is open to last-minute entries as well as those ready to stand for hours watching the athletically gifted.


A Night with Peter Stamm, Chronicle Books, 680 2nd St., SF. 6:00 p.m., free. Swiss author Peter Stamm must pen good drinking prose: a discussion of his well-received novels comes accompanied by an open bar funded by the Swiss Consulate.


The Problem of the Color(blind) discussion University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft, Berk. 5:30 – 7:00 p.m., free. Brandi Catanese teaches in the theater and African American studies departments at Cal. The two disciplines inform her latest book on race neutrality within American popular culture. In it, she covers topics ranging from Ice Cube’s family movie star status to playwright August Wilson.

“History of Noe Valley” talk St. Philip’s Catholic Church, 725 Diamond, SF. 7:30 – 9 p.m., $5. Bill Yenne has illustrated for Rolling Stone. He’s written six books on the subject of beer. He’s authored works on Sitting Bull and Alexander the Great. He’s also an expert on a subject closer to home: Noe Valley, where he’s lived for thirty-seven years.

Journalism, Academia and Censorship talk Koret Auditorium, Main Library, 100 Larkin, SF. 6 p.m., free. David Barsamian, founder of Alternative Radio and repeated interviewer of Noam Chomsky talks censorship. It’s a subject he knows well: Barsamian was deported on account of his opinions from India this past September.


Holiday gift guide


HOLIDAY GUIDE 2011 We know. Between the blasts of pepper gas you sustained at the last Cal protest and all those “support needed” texts you’ve been receiving from Occupy Everything, Everywhere, All the Time you’ve barely had a spare moment to think about your holiday shopping list. Easy now, no need to get your bandanna in a twist. We’ve been trekking around the city (and that hella occupied burg on the other end of the Bay Bridge) for the very best in affordable presents this holiday season — and we found them all at locally-owned businesses. So don’t break the bank — occupy its lobby instead, conquered shopping list in hand. 




There is perhaps nothing more happy than a man with soul in his heart, as anyone who watches the YouTube video entitled “Dick Vivian cuttin’ the rug at Rooky’s!” can attest. Vivian is the owner and spiritual embodiment of the venerable Lower Haight record store, which he stocks with real-cheap 45s, vintage camera equipment, and a passel of witty lapel pins and magnets.

For real holiday majick, however, one must turn to Vivian’s lovingly-crafted mix CDs. There they sit, 10 bucks a pop with witty, retro-recreation packaging, a wonderland of ’60s soul, girl bands, and more. Many of the tracks, Vivian will attest, have never been captured in CD form before. Do you have a dad who still digs on the funky sounds of his youth? A buddy who is never more happy than when she’s doing the twist? You friend, have struck shopping list gold.

448 Haight, SF. (415) 864-7526,




Half the battle of holiday shopping is remaining positive. You will find the perfect token of your affection for each and every coworker, friend, family member, and postal worker. The secret to undying enthusiasm this season is patronizing shops where retailing can make you happy — which is why a visit to Clothes Contact is essential. The Mission vintage shop is a carnival of colors and patterns, and sells most of its items by the pound ($10 per!)

Some of the shop’s most attractive items are the individually-priced accessories like its bowties and fedoras, which combine for a package that’ll make even the most sartorially uninspired chappie stoked for the office holiday party. The real steal, however, is in the shoe section, where you will find women’s kicks for a pittance. $8 gets you this pair of jewel-toned slippers, whose sexy-comfy flat heels have the power to traipse with you through much more than eight crazy nights.

473 Valencia, SF. (415) 621-3212




The average behind-the-bar adventurer knows bitters to be highly concentrated blends of herbs, spices, rinds, and roots sure to add zing to a standard cocktail. This non-alcoholic blood orange bottle lends a deep, pumpkin-y hue to your drinks — as well as a slightly sweet taste.

5620 Geary, SF. (415) 386-9463,




Mission Loc@l’s guidebook lives up to the neighborhood news site’s name: their pocket-sized collection of various Missionites’ (from grade-schoolers to aging boho poets) favorite places in the ‘hood could open the eyes of the most seasoned South Van Ness dweller to hidden gems amidst the murals and taco shops.

Available in various SF locations. Order online at (search term: guidebook)




Paul’s Hat Shop has been around since 1918 — and the same goes for many of its hat styles. Check out the silky old bowties that sit seductively on a countertop. They come in patterns that haven’t seen the light of day for decades, guaranteeing that vintage fans recipients will wear them with care.

6128 Geary, SF. (415) 221-5332,




Open the door to the best kind of trouble with these dangling pasties, made from the same chalky rainbow sweets as traditional candy necklaces. Swing by Good Vibe’s newest store at 899 Mission to check out the sex toy vanguard’s downtown flavor.

Various Bay Area locations.




Unless your recipient’s feet fall outside the size four to thirteen range, they can rest easy in the soft silken threads of Sakura’s house slippers. A jam-packed and family-run Japanese discount store, this spot stocks hundreds of the kicks, which are perfect for padding around the house or slipping on for a last-minute car-moving operation since yes, street sweeping is this morning.

936 Irving Street, SF. (415) 665-5064,




A sweet present for a secretive soul: choose a book from your shelves that you’re done with (hardcover tends to work best), glue the pages together with super glue or epoxy leaving one cover free, and use an Exacto knife to cut out a square in the middle of the pages, creating a nook worthy of a Sherlock Holmes novel. Stick in a note that declares your end-of-2011 love and give to the super sleuth you fancy the most.

For more DIY present ideas, check out




Slow Food adherent Laura Forst makes the perfect housewarming present for nutters: candied floral cashews that steer clear of holiday-heavy saccharine.




An online Etsy toybox of vintage toys and kitschy coffee cups, SF Mission Finds clearly subscribes to that old Playskool truism: “Mr. Potato Head’s other parts might get mixed up, but his heart is always in the right place.” Cop the shop’s 1985 Mr. Potato Head for the beloved misfit toy on your list.




Could Time-Life Books have imagined that their series on the paranormal — which was published between 1987 and 1991 and broke sales records for the publishing house — would find new popularity on the shelves of a Mission District vintage clothing store? Surely not, but the occult fan in your life will certainly appreciate the resurrection of such titles as Cosmic Duality and Spirit Summonings.

1360 Valencia, SF. (415) 401-7027,




For the holidays, this cozy little shop in Potrero Hill is selling felted ornaments made by two women who live right in the neighborhood. No need to truck out to the Christmas superstore this year (sorry, Target)!

1331 18th St., Potrero Hill, SF. (415) 624-3736




Of course, you can always give them something that will, without fail, ensure that sharp intake of breath that marks the happy receipt of a caloric holiday gift-bomb. This holiday sweet from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Pie in the Sky (DaCapo Press, 233pp, $17) should do just the trick — and will win the heart of gentle vegans and fierce omnivores alike.

Makes one nine-inch pie or one 11-inch pie


1 nine-inch pie crust


½ cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup pure maple sugar

¼ cup nonhydrogenated margarine

6 ounces extra-firm silken tofu

¼ cup cold unsweetened plain nondairy milk

2 tablespoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups pecan halves

First, we’re going to make a caramel. In a two quart saucepan, mix together the sugars and the maple syrup. Heat over medium heat, stirring often with a whisk. Once small bubbles start rapidly forming, stir pretty constantly for about 10 minutes. The mixture should become thick and syrupy. It shouldn’t be boiling too fiercely; if big bubbles start climbing the walls of the pan then lower the heat a bit.

Add the margarine and stir to melt. Turn the heat off, transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl, and let it cool for a bit. In the meantime, prepare the rest of the filling.

Crumble the tofu into a blender or food processor, along with the milk, cornstarch, and salt. Puree until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender to make sure you get everything.

Transfer the filling to the prepared pie crust and bake for 40 minutes. When done, the pie is going to be somewhat jiggly, but it should appear to be set. Let cool, slice, and serve! No cheating and pulling pecans off the pie.

Variation: Sprinkle ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt over the cooled pie.

For more vegan recipes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz, check out





There’s just something that works about Italian feasts over the holidays. Maybe it’s the decadence of the cuisine, or perhaps the vivid hues of marinara, eggplant, and basil — wherever the allure lies, you can get your buddy rolling on a meal to remember with this cheap but classy gift: a pound or two of Lucca Foods’ housemade spinach pasta.

1100 Valencia, SF. (415) 647-5581,




Few might initially elect to smell like Union Square, but Roman Ruby’s handmade soaps ($10) and bath salts are redolent in the postcard-pleasure of San Francisco’s most beloved areas. Ocean Beach (coconut and sea salt), Golden Gate Park (grass and rose), Potrero Hill (goat milk and lemon verbena), and Bernal Heights (fig and brown sugar) are all represented.

1371 Ninth Ave., SF. (415) 664-4422,




This sweet Etsy page is run by a self-proclaimed misanthrope right here in the city, and stocks a passel of darling, uber-affordable earrings. Made of polymer clay, ice cream cone earrings can be ordered in a variety of “flavors” — the mint is a lovely light green and bubblegum is a pretty pink dotted with green and blue sprinkles.




We all know the adage about quantity and quality, but what about when you can get a lot of something that also happens to be really good? Buddhism Feng Shui Supply’s incense is high quality (meant for use in shrines) and comes in a wide variety of scents. Unless your giftee is a real burner, it’s pretty much bound to last a lifetime.

907 Clement, SF. (415) 831-1987




How very adorable will it be when you take your baby to this well-loved local video store for one of its cheap-as-heck movie nights? Like, very very. Grab two of the seats near the front of the store and bring their fave candy for maximum points. Film buffs rejoice: Lost Weekend’s projection screen productions tend to involve flicks not available on Netflix (in fact, in September it hosted a film festival called just that).

1034 Valencia, SF. (415) 643-3375,




One touch and you’ll be touching: this handy little number from Oak-Town’s hottest new feminist-queer sex shop promises that it “puts the lube between your cheeks, not on the sheets.” That means the only unwanted friction between you and your lover over the holidays will be about whose family is more bizarre.

1703 Telegraph, Oakl. (510) 891-0199,




Along one wall of this super-fly supplier of 1990s and aught-era Starter jackets, ball caps, and occasional fanny packs is the $6 t-shirt rack. Browse its hangers for tees from your giftee’s alma mater, fave sports team, or artistic nemesis: a recent trip to the store uncovered a Takashi-Murakami-designed number from Kanye West’s “Glow in the Dark” tour.

299 Guerrero, SF. (415) 624-3751,




Snag a treat from the city’s most educational chocolate factory for your holiday honey — if they’re really into the fine chocolate bathing these succulent pieces of fruit you can bring them back for one of TCHO’s Wonka-fied tours of its factory floor.

Pier 17, SF. (415) 981-0189,




In our experience, all it takes to restore confidence in a would-be gardener with a track record of failed ferns is a salad green seedling. Rainbow’s got the goods in this department: stock up on a sixer of Asian mizuna greens, lemongrass, chives, and more for your budding grower.

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




What started out as an interior design studio has since evolved into a great resource for handpicked vintage goods, but hints of Room 4’s roots are visible in its selection of playing cards, which features a deck printed with the Prairie School architectural school progenitor’s greatest hits. Your giftee’s Solitaire game has never been this well-constructed.

904 Valencia, SF (415) 647-2764,




Candlemaking is a craft pretty much anyone can conquer — and a fragrant one at that. Hobby Co.’s beeswax comes in a variety of colors, including the standard yellow. With wicks retailing for less than fifty cents a yard, expect your giftee’s electric bill to significantly drop.

5150 Geary, SF. (415) 386-2802,




One of the three owners of this well-turned-out Mission boutique crafts these “air plants” in bulbous aquarium bowls. Rocks, sand, moss, and greenery coexist peacefully within the bowels of the terrariums – the perfect window sill companion for your buddy who longs for more nature in their life.

3458 18th St., SF (415) 244-7457,


Dickens and drag queens and dreidels (oh my!)


HOLIDAY GUIDE 2011 You know what would be a good present to yourself this holiday season? Some ankle weights. Imagine all the almond cake and vegan eggnog you’ll have shoved into your belly by this time next month, you soon-to-be-less-svelte snowy sexpot. Not into approximating a house arrest prisoner? How about pledging to run about to as many as the Bay’s holiday hotspots as possible this year — you’ll be a Kwanzaa cutie in no time a’tall. And with such jingling gems — from costume fairs to drag queens in Union Square and free chamber orchestra performances — you’ll come out on the other side (2012) cut and cultured. 


Union Square iceskating rink Good news for nervous wall-grabbers and double axel spinners alike: the holiday ice rink is back at Union Square. Cue icicle lights, grand romantic gestures, and seizing onto strangers for suddenly-needed support.

Through Jan. 16. 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m. except for when closed for private parties, $10 for 90-minute session. Union Square, SF.


Great Dickens Fair Before Harry Potter and Kate Middleton transformed young Americans into full-blown Anglophiles, a whole different conception of Britain flourished stateside: the Dickensian version, replete with scones and hot toddies. Walk off your burgeoning middle with a jaunt through the Cow Palace’s temporary lamp-lit alleys.

Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 18, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., $25. Cow Palace, 2600 Geneva, SF.


“The Best Time of Year” SF Symphony Christmas special concert The San Francisco Symphony and Chorus exhale classical Christmas picks and carols to a fully-bedecked Davies Symphony Hall.

Nov.30-Dec.1, 8 p.m., $25–$68. Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness, SF. (451) 864-6000,


Working Solutions holiday gift fair Showcasing San Francisco businesses assisted by Working Solutions’ micro loan programs, this fair lets shoppers pick up everything from Bernal Heights-wrought knives to chunks of Mission-crafted chocolate.

Dec. 1, 5-8 p.m., free. 101 Second St., SF. (415) 655-5433,


The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes Trannyshack takes on the blue-haired wonder that was The Golden Girls in a glitzy, raucous yearly San Francisco tradition.

Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays Dec. 1-23, 8 p.m., $25–$30. Victoria Theater, 2961 16th St., SF.


A Christmas Carol There’s no better way to get in the mistletoe mood than to watch old Ebenezer slowly thaw out his icy, pinched heart in the Deco glory of the ACT Theatre.

Dec. 1-24, 7 p.m., $20–$75. American Conservatory Theatre, 415 Geary, SF. (415) 749-2228,


Holiday tree-lighting ceremony Jack London Square becomes a Bay-side holiday crèche two hours with live reindeer, snow, wintry tunes, and a tree-lighting to launch the flurry of the holidays.

Dec. 2, 5-7 p.m., free. Jack London Square, Oakl.

Oakland-Alameda Estuary lighted yacht parade How can yachts parade, you ask? With style, we answer — East Bay boat owners trick out their vessels with festive lights visible from the shore.

Dec. 3, 5:30 p.m., free. Visible from Jack London Square, Oakl.


Fantasy of Lights celebration ‘Tis the season for brilliant night-time lights, and Union Street will not be an exception. Stately Victorians provide the glowing background for a holiday gathering featuring everything from a monkey to Santa and his elves.

Dec. 3, 3-7 p.m., free. Union between Van Ness and Steiner, Fillmore between Union and Lombard, SF.


San Francisco Forest Choir Imagine yourself in a snowy Narnia glen, the Forbidden Forest, or roaming through the woods with Hansel and Gretel to the music of the San Francisco Forest Choir, an all-female group who sing in Japanese and English at the Western Addition library.

Dec. 3, 3-4 p.m., free. Western Addition branch library, 1550 Scott, SF. (415) 355-5727,


Sharon Art Studio winter pottery and craft sale Thousands of gleaming pieces are up for sale by this staple of the Bay Area craft scene; lug your loot home and get your bicep curls out of the way for a week.

Dec. 4, 11 a.m., free. Sharon Art Studio, Children’s Playground, Golden Gate Park, SF. (415) 753-7005,


SF Chamber Orchestra holiday family concert Circus Bella and the SF Chamber Orchestra team up for a strangely compelling holiday pairing: clownish acrobatics set to the strains of classical music.

Dec. 4, 3-4 p.m., free with RSVP. Bayview Opera House, 4705 Third St., SF. (415) 824-0386,


Gourmet Ghetto’s snow day For those Bay citizens unfamiliar with the bliss of a true snow day, the Gourmet Ghetto’s version provides a superior version to the rest of the country’s admittedly frigid ones: real snow, yes, but also crafting, hot cocoa and cookies, a Snow Queen, and the warmth of community.

Dec. 5 10 a.m.-3 p.m., free. Andronico’s parking lot, 1550 Shattuck, Berk.; 1-4 p.m., free. M. Lowe and Co., 1519 Shattuck, Berk.; Noon-4 p.m., free. Twig and Fig, 2110 Vine, Berk.


“Winter in the Wineries” Sixteen wineries will stamp your passport for a two-month period starting December 2, enabling you to enjoy unlimited tastings, tours, and meet-and-greets throughout Napa Valley.

Various locations and times, Calistoga. $50 for one passport ticket


Palestinian Craft Fair Straight from the hands of Palestinian artists and craftspeople: olive oil-based soap, embroidery, glassware, ceramics, books, honey, and Dead Sea products sold to benefit their makers an ocean away.

Dec. 4, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., free. Live Oak Park, 1301 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 548-0542,


“Songs and Harps to Celebrate the Holiday Season” Harpists of the Bay, unite! The young pluckers of the Bay Area Youth Harp Ensemble join the Triskela Celtic Harp Trio to perform holiday pieces from around the world. Singing along is not only encouraged but expected.

Dec. 6, 6 p.m., free. Main Library, 100 Larkin, SF. (415) 557-4400,


“Drag Queens on Ice” Break out your very best glitz for a night spent skating next to legions of SF’s drag personalities. A 9:30 p.m. performance by the queens in question ends the evening.

Dec. 8, 8 p.m., $10 for 90-minute session. Union Square, SF.


“A Very Shut-Ins Xmas” The vanguard leaders of the “hulabilly” sound, the Shut-Ins return with a Christmas show to benefit San Francisco’s Legal Assistance to the Elderly.

Dec. 8, 5:30-8 p.m., $20. 50 Mason Social House, 50 Mason, SF. (415) 538-3333,


Golden Gate Park tree lighting Golden Gate Park’s hundred-foot Monterey cypress (shouldn’t it have a name by now?) transforms into a light-bedecked behemoth for the 82 year.

Dec. 8, 5 p.m., free. McLaren Lodge, 501 Stanyan, SF.


La Cocina gift fair Its cryptic but tasty-sounding “tamale alley” should provide enough of a draw, but La Cocina’s gift fair also promises local vendors selling organic olive oils, handmade pasta, and mushrooms nourished by recycled coffee grounds. Pretty easy to stomach.

Dec. 9, 5-9 p.m., free. Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, 2868 Mission, SF.


Winter Wunderkammer holiday art sale The most you can spend here on one item is 50 bucks, the least a dollar. Accompanied by spiced wine and tunes, small-format works from local artists are on sale. Proceeds from this walk-in curio cabinet benefit The Lab and participating artists.

Opening party Dec. 9, 6-11 p.m., free. Also Dec. 10, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., free. The Lab, 2948 16th St., SF. (415) 864-885,


California Revels Ah, the revels. This year, the interactive period presentation will sit you smack down at the Round Table. Dance and sing, young knight — no one’s mocking you at this costume-heavy conclave.

Dec. 9-11, 16-18; Fri. 8 p.m., Sat. and Sun. 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., $19-52. Scottish Rite Theater, 2850 19th Ave., SF. (510) 452-8800,


SF Ballet’s Nutcracker Even with its lampoonable name, the Nutcracker remains a incomparable date choice for its lush costumes, fantastical storyline, and ability to trigger childhood flashbacks.

Dec. 9-25, various times, $25–$285. War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness, SF. (415) 865-2000,


Misfit Toy Factory For one evening, artists cobble together sculptures, toys, and gifts under one roof to the beat of DJ Yukon Cornelius. Items are sold at the end of the evening for a fixed price of forty dollars.

Dec. 10, 7-10 p.m., free. Root Division, 3175 17th St., SF. (415) 863-7668,


The Revolutionary Nutcracker Sweetie A radical alternative to the holiday classic, Dance Brigade’s version features Clara, an undocumented worker, a homeless Sugar Plum Fairy, and an angel of resistance.

Dec. 10, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Dec. 11, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., $15–$17. Brava Theater, 2781 24th St., SF.


Hanukah festival of light Geared towards the younger set and their handlers, the JCC East Bay’s festival of light features storytelling, menorah making, dreidel games, and a concert by Isaac Zones, a mainstay in the Bay’s Jewish music scene.

Dec. 11, 10 a.m-2 p.m., $5. JCC East Bay, 1414 Walnut, Berk.


“Holidays: Christmas, Chanukah, and Other Festive Celebrations” lecture Library docents present an examination of paintings from around the world dealing with everyone’s favorite subject: the giving, feasting, and receiving endemic to the holiday season.

Dec. 14, 6:30-7:30 p.m., free. Glen Park branch library, 2825 Diamond, SF. (415) 355-2858,


Mechanics’ Institute holiday gift and poster sale The staggeringly lovely Mechanics’ Institute hosts a large sale of hard-cover and paperback books, gifts, and posters straight from its library.

Dec. 15, 4:30-6:30 p.m., free. Mechanics’ Institute, 57 Post, SF. (415) 393-0100,


Holiday youth mariachi concert Three zestful youth mariachi bands perform traditional Mexican holiday music, providing an energizing segue into a sometimes exhausting season.

Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m., $10. Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, 2868 Mission, SF. (415) 643-2785,


Holiday Memories double feature Head back to the times of toboggans and candle-lit windows with two short films recounting rural winters of yesteryear. A Child’s Christmas in Wales visualizes Dylan Thomas’ Welsh childhood; The Sweater animatedly recounts Roch Carrier’s Quebecois, hockey-centered upbringing.

Dec. 17, 2 p.m., free with $15 museum admission. The Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon, SF. (415) 561-0360,


Renegade Craft Fair holiday market For the third year and showcasing more than 250 makers and craftspeople, the Renegade Craft Fair’s holiday happening can be a bit overwhelming. But it’s an undeniably great answer to gifting woes: pick up jewelry, body products, paper goods, clothing, and way, way more, all DIY enough to satisfy your most loca-ttired friend.

Dec. 17-18, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., free. Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 Eighth St., SF.


Reclaiming Yule ritual It may be chilly outside, but Sebastapol’s midwinter celebration (led by Starhawk, a leader in Bay Area earth-based spirituality) is indoors and full of warmth-inducing activities, namely dancing in honor of the Earth and Sun.

Dec. 18, 6:30 p.m., $7. Sebastopol Community Center, 390 Morris, Sebastapol.


Solstice Eve celebration With a bonfire and roles doled out to participants (rocks, trees and mists), celebrating the longest night of the year on Ocean Beach is actually rather toasty. Bring items to release into the transformative fire — love letters are just the starting point.

Dec. 20, 3:30 p.m., free. Ocean Beach at Taraval, SF.


Bill Graham menorah lighting The lighting itself takes place at 5 p.m., but the hours-long run-up is by no means lacking: traditional Jewish music, arts and crafts, and menorahs for every child fill Union Square starting at 3 p.m.

Dec. 20, 5 p.m., free. Union Square, SF.


Kujichagulia celebration Kwanzaa’s day of personal definition and expression comes to City Hall, followed by a candle-lighting ceremony and dinner at Gussie’s, known for its fried tasties, red velvet cake, and Southern sweet tea.

Dec. 27, noon, City Hall, SF., 6 p.m., Gussies Chicken and Waffles, 1521 Eddy, SF.


Ujima celebration On Ujima, the third day of the week-long Kwanzaa holiday, community members gather to celebrate a collective spirit of responsibility and work.

Dec. 28, 3-6 p.m., free. Bayview Hunters Point YMCA, 1601 Lane, SF.


Keeping Score: Ives Holiday Symphony screening Unrecognized at the time of his death, experimentalist composer Charles Ives labored over his Holiday Symphony, which now gets fitting recognition by the San Francisco Symphony in a library concert that follows an hour-long documentary on the man.

Dec. 29, noon, free. Main Library, 100 Larkin, SF. (415) 557-4400,


Kuumba celebration Fittingly, the main San Francisco celebration of Kwanzaa’s Kuumba (day of creativity) occurs in the Jazz Heritage Center, a space shared by musical hotspot Yoshi’s. Celebrate the Fillmore’s manifold musical virtuosos on the last day of the year.

Dec. 31, 1-5 p.m., free. Jazz Heritage Center, 1330 Fillmore, SF.

Period Piece: The saga of the California turkey


“The wild turkey…is a finer representative of America than the eagle,” boldly stated the Chronicle in a 1909 five-paragraph ode to the noble fowl. Maybe for the rest of the country, but not for California, where wild turkeys were introduced from – get this – Mexico in 1877. 

So is it really our bird if it’s not native to the state? An ex-judge in Illinois had a lot to say on the matter.

John Dean Caton, who penned such classics as The Origin of a Small Race of Turkeys actually sent live young turkeys to California, turkeys he had raised himself from eggs found in his rural Illinois backyard.

It was an enterprise that now seems part scientific, part recreational, and part gastronomical. These were not truly wild turkeys. They, and the turkeys from Mexico, were carefully cared for and bred before being released into the wilds of California, all with one purpose in mind: to be hunted by lovers of white and dark meat.

Caton was a character. He described turkey farmers as “not writing men, though frequently good observers.” He compulsively checked in on the state of his Illinoisan turkey brood, sequestered on Santa Clara Island under the care of a similarly-obsessed acquaintance. Reports came back: they were inbred, severely underdeveloped, and kept dying. Not exactly the best hunting challenge, or the finest looking trophies after the fact.

Rio Grande wild turkeys, a hardier variety than those originally imported to California, are now everywhere. Map via National Wild Turkey Federation

The Department of Fish and Game got on board the turkey train in 1908, transplanting more Mexican specimens throughout California and keeping a breeding pool big enough to produce a thousand birds in a five-year period.

But the fowl just wouldn’t take flight here in the Golden State. The California hybrid turkey – a mix of Mexican and Eastern U.S. stock – wasn’t wild enough. Placed anywhere outside of the farm that it was raised on, it couldn’t survive, however feral its genes. 

So where were all the tough turkeys? The rough-and-tumble birds used to evading gun-toting hunters? Perhaps a little obviously, they were in Texas. Most of California’s wild turkeys today descend from a Rio Grande variety first imported in 1959. 

Chances are the turkey you feast upon on Thursday won’t be a wild one (or even free of a chicken-stuffed duck in its gullet). But on a day where gorging is de rigueur, remember that the sacred Butterball has a wild cousin lurking out there, one that deserves at least a toast for keeping it real. 


Period Piece: A fight we won


As steadfast Occupiers confront growing police and official opposition comparisons to historical protest movements are cropping up. 

San Francisco, of course, has been home to more than a few spirited speeches, many of which have resulted in real protest-driven change. Local protests here have long been loci of larger nationwide movements. One cool example: the freeway revolt movement, a national pushback against the autofication of cities in the 1960s and ’70s which reached its peak in San Francisco in the fight against the Western Freeway.

Many of the 1955 organizers who battled the freeway that would have connected 101’s march up Octavia Boulevard all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge hadn’t protested anything before. They included pastors and churchgoers, housewives, concerned parents, World War II veterans, middle-class San Franciscans working and living in the path of a projected freeway.

The proposed Western Freeway would have included a major interchange around 7th and Irving Streets before heading into Golden Gate Park. Image courtesy San Francisco Public Library

The last addition to a city-wide highway plan, the double-decker Western Freeway would have snaked through West Portal, the Sunset District, and the Richmond (with, of course, a little jog through Golden Gate Park, devouring the Rose Garden and the Hall of Flowers). Three huge arteries would have tangled and clogged where Irving and Seventh Streets now intersect in a tree-lined corner. 

Obviously, the protesters who assembled to challenge the Board of Supervisors at Lincoln High School in December of 1955 weren’t just speaking out against the views and noise that were to accompany the proposed concrete ribbon. They were challenging the disruption of a settled post-war life, the bisection of their parishes by eight lanes of concrete, the impossibility of getting their kids to previously accessible neighborhood schools. Thousands of homes were to be demolished, and businesses to be relocated. 

“The turnout was enormous, and the angry crowd unanimous in opposing the freeway plan. The politicians were stunned,” writes Frank Dunnigan in a recollection of the 1955 meeting.

The struggle against the freeway lasted four years and was replicated, again and again, and with growing momentum by neighborhood groups across the entire city. Resolution 45-59, which passed in 1959, squashed plans for the Western Highway as well similar nasty proposals. It was the direct result of efforts by ordinary people with full-time jobs, families, and livelihoods that threatened by the powers that were. And they won.