Molly Freedenberg

Hummus for the Holidays


Tired of turkey? Had it with ham? Chucking the…yeah, well, you get the idea.

By Amber Peckham

If the holiday fare for the last few years has become as boring as your relatives, you might want to sign up for the free – yes, free – vegan cooking class being offered by Wellness Central on November 18. The class will be held in the Loughborough Center and will last around 90 minutes. Vegan nutritionist Patricia Allen Koot will present, and nationally syndicated host of Go Vegan Radio, Bob Lynden, also will make an appearance.

Without the Wellness Central class, this is what your meat-free meal will look like.

Postal Service > Rolling Stones > Fallout Boy


The Washington Post’s website has good news for hipsters everywhere. After all these years of crying “sell out!” everytime a band – particularly an obscure, culty, indie band – lends a song to a TV commercial, music purists can now quantify exactly how much their act of choice has strayed from the path of righteousness.

It’s all thanks to the Moby Quotient calculator, named for the electronic artist (arguably) most famous for lending his songs for commercial endeavors (and subsequently making us all sick of them, and him). This simple, yet brilliant online calculator uses an equation that measures the disconnect between the product and rock’n’roll’s principles, the sacredness of the song, the origins of the band Are they a notoriously anti-establishment punk group? Or are they a boy band created by a reality show?), the artist’s artistic reputation, how much the artist needs the money, and how long it’s been since the artist’s heydey. This is, of course, all subjective, since readers rate the bands themselves and there’s no way to determine exactly how sacred John Lennon’s “Imagine” is, or how underground Imogen Heap is considered.

Rocket scientists have nothing on these mathematical geniuses.

The ghost of the Barleycorn


Supporters of the John Barleycorn Pub lost their 10-month battle with new landlord Luisa Hanson on Oct. 27, when the nearly 40-year-old Nob Hill institution closed its doors for good (see "John Barleycorn Must Die," 10/17/07). But members of the Save the Barleycorn Coalition ( won’t let the ‘Corn’s spirit die. Owner Larry Ayre dismantled the interior and is storing its historic decor — including the cobblestone fireplace and the rafters made from an old chicken coop — in Santa Rosa in hopes a finding a new home for the beloved bar. In the meantime, some of the 4,000 people who signed a petition to keep the ‘Corn open have started a Web site,, to keep the community together. "Half the place was the location and what we affectionately called our ‘old crap,’<0x2009>" former ‘Corn bartender and coalition cofounder Tony Antico said. "But the other half was always the people."

Finfine Ethiopian Restaurant


PREVIEW There’s only one thing better than a mimosa brunch: a mimosa brunch you get to in time to eat. Which is not what happened when my friend K. and I attended a morning birthday celebration in Berkeley on a recent Sunday morning. Yes, we got there in time to see our friends in their pajamas — and one particularly fabulous pair of car-shaped slippers — although, alas, no matching Underoos. And yes, we got there in time for both mimosas and fantastic Bloody Marys. But we completely missed the breakfast train, as everyone was already full and lazy by the time we got our asses across the bridge.

So when K. and I left the daytime slumber party, we were famished. Enter Finfiné, an Ethiopian restaurant we happened to pass on our rambling path (read: we were lost) back to the freeway. To be fair, we were so hungry that an Egg McMuffin might’ve satisfied us. But Finfiné was so much better than melted cheese product on microwaved eggs. The Ye-Tsom Beyaynetu vegetarian sampler came with six different dishes, including savory collard greens, a spicy red lentil stew, a garlicky green lentil salad, and a chickpea concoction resembling hearty hummus. And the Ye-Doro Tibs proved to be perfectly cooked, high-quality cubed chicken in a spicy, but not overwhelming, sauce.

Plus, the combination platter featured enough food to provide K. and me with nearly two meals apiece. Show me a brunch that does that.

FINFINÉ ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANT Mon. and Wed.–Sat., 5–10 p.m.; Sun., noon–10 p.m. 2556 Telegraph, Berk. (510) 883-0167,

Holla at Molla


By Amber Peckham

It’s quickly approaching the most consumerist time of the year, and in my experience, even the most anti-establishment of people finds themselves responsible for at least churning out a macramé plant holder for Grandma or handwoven hemp scarf dyed with natural plant fibers for the office gift exchange. It feels good to give, and the spirit is infectious as we approach December. If you’re looking for quirky, fun gifts to appease even the most individualistic of your mob of friends and family, Molla Space might be a good place to start.

Tear Shape Clock by Yamato Japan

Get Black&Blue with Five&Diamond


Five and Diamond, the new Mission mecca for all things tribal/wildwest/neuvo-burner, is celebrating its grand opening Monday night. And what better way to do it than with the Black and Blue Burlesque, the world-class dancers known for their performances with the Yard Dogs Roadshow? The event starts with a parade from the store to the Elbo Room, where wacky performances and plenty of happy schmoozing will ensue. See you there! (I’ll be the only one without bone jewelry in my stretched-out earlobes…for now).


9pm, $5
Elbo Room
647 Valencia, SF

How do I covet 5&D’s inventory, particularly items made by Wilcard? Let me count the ways…

Fashion! Fun!


It’s going to be a two-fer fashion Saturday! First there’s House of Diehl’s “Project Runway” meets “8-Mile” Style Wars at 111 Minna. And at the same time, the Black Rock Arts Foundation is hosting their first annual Fall gathering, featuring fab performers like Fou Fou Ha and Vau de Vire Society as well as fashions by Bad Unkl Sista. How ever to decide which to attend? I say try to make it to both. Find out why after the jump.

Designs created by previous Style Wars competitors. What can YOU do in 9 minutes?

Tracking the Joneses’ rent


We all know there’s a housing crisis in our city. But that’s one of those big, overarching, culture/society issues that’s hard to wrap your mind around.

How about considering your own, personal housing crisis? Ever wondered if you’re getting gouged on rent as much as your neighbor? Or if there’s actually anyone in this town who pays no more than a third of their income for a closetless room? Well, with, you can find out. All you have to do is enter your address, your monthly rent, the number of bedrooms in the unit, and the number of units in the building, and the site will calculate how you measure up to other similar buildings in your area.


Good music. Bad name.


Though undeniably accurate, “The Bridge School Benefit” is the worst name for a rock concert ever. The only sexy thing about it (besides giving publicity to the school, which deserves it), is that it sounds a lot better to skip out on helping a friend move or having dinner with your S.O.’s parents to attend a “benefit” than it does to admit you’re going to smoke doobies and listen to the devil’s music.

But for all its bad name-iness, and the fact that I hate the Shoreline Ampitheater (Am I too old to appreciate massive venues? Or have I been spoiled by intimate shows in good-music towns?), the 21st Annual Bridge School Benefit last Saturday was actually quite good.

It may seem like no surprise, given that Tom Waits was on the bill. But with great expectations comes the possibility for great disappointment, and I’m happy to report that Mr. Waits did not disappoint.

Good old Tom when he was, well, less old.

What to do on Wednesday


Still not done getting your Halloween party on? Pissed the party in the Castro is officially canceled? Not buying the
recommendation to stay home on Wednesday? Then check out the list of Halloween night events on our website , or stop by one of the fetes after the jump. At the very least, we promise you’ll have a place to potty while you party.


GCI was the Big Cheese


You can’t possibly be thinking about how much alcohol you shouldn’t have consumed at the seventeen Halloween parties you went to this weekend, or what kind of witty and ironic costume you’re going to make for the ones you’ll attend on Wednesday (because lord knows you can’t show up in the same thing you wore all weekend). No, I’m sure what you’re really wondering is: how was Oakland’s first Grilled Cheese Invitational?

The answer: badass.

Everyone knows it isn’t really a party until someone dons a horse head.

Give Cheese a chance


Is there anything better than a grilled cheese sandwich? A cure for cancer would be nice. And I wouldn’t kick World Peace out of bed for eating crackers. But melted cheese and crispy bread? It’s so good, if it ran for President, I bet it’d beat Hillary and Obama (plus, it’s both likable and has experience – at least, as at being a sandwich).

In fact, the only thing better than a grilled cheese sandwich is the Grilled Cheese Invitational, an L.A.-based event dedicated to all things grilled and cheesy. And for the first time, this year the Bay Area’s gonna get its own shot at artery-clogging glory when the good GCI folks bring the competition to Eli’s Mile High Club on October 25.

Bread of dubious nutritional quality + cheese product of dubious dairy origin = sexy

And the dreidl will rock


I have a new obsession: I found the site while researching an old obsession, NOFX’s “The Brews” (I was trying to prove to a friend that it wasn’t a cover of another song, and that, in fact, the song she thought was the original was actually Manic Hispanic’s cover of “The Brews,” called “Cruise”), and nearly fell off my chair. The only thing I love more than punning and pro-Jewish jokes is rock music. And combining all three? Holy chutzpah, I’m a happy little semi-Semite. Check out the site to find for a guide to who’s who in Jewish rock (The Challah Fame), Q&As with famous Heebs (The Four Questions), features on musical icons like David Lee Roth (“And the Dreidl will Rock”), and essays on music and Jewishness (“Heavy Shtetl”). Even more perfect? Cruise the site while listening to Oakland’s parody of racist punk band Screwdriver, called (of course) Jewdriver. Just make sure you visit before Friday at sundown, because we sure as shit don’t rock on Shomer fucking Shabbos.
Photo courtesy of Roberta Bayley.
Who knew? Joey Ramone (a.k.a. Jeffrey Hyman) is one of the Chosen. But I wish the goyim could keep Kenny G.

John Barleycorn must die



"There was three men come out o’ the west, their fortunes for to try,

And these three men made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn must die.

They plowed, they sowed, they harrowed him in, throwed clods upon his head,

And these three men made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn was dead."

From an old English folk song

It’s a dark, rainy Friday night, and Larkin Street is eerily quiet except for one beacon of light: the John Barleycorn pub. Inside this almost 40-year-old watering hole, logs crackle in a fireplace built with cobblestones from old San Francisco streets.

Neighbors, law students from a nearby university, and longtime regulars cluster together on cable car benches and onetime church pews, tippling and talking quietly beneath a ceiling made from the beams of an old Petaluma chicken coop.

Behind the bar, owner Larry Ayre, with rosy cheeks hugged by a pair of spectacles, serves drinks and good cheer the same way he has for more than three decades. Some of his customers have been coming here for just as long.

"There’s only one bar you call your home bar, and somehow, they have to take you in," Ayre said. "In here, you can be whoever you want to be."

Unfortunately for the Barleycorn, its lease is up, and it’s part of a building that was recently purchased by Louisa Hanson, a controversial local entrepreneur who owns several other properties in the area, including Louisa’s on Union Street and Delaney’s in the Marina. Hanson refuses to renew the Barleycorn’s lease, and it’s rumored she plans to turn the building into a new restaurant.

So tonight the mood is bittersweet. Ayre’s birthday is tomorrow, and neighbors are already stopping by. But no one’s forgetting that the pub’s doom is imminent, and unless a miracle happens the beloved bar will shut its doors October 26. For good.

Pub supporters nonetheless began appealing to Hanson last December when they heard of her plans not to renew the ‘Corn’s lease. They tried to make the case that the popular pub is the right size and scale for the neighborhood, that any other venture would be hard to support in such a tough retail environment, and that the bar is so well loved, Hanson would alienate potential future customers by closing it.

But the notoriously elusive Hanson — who’s obtained licenses for more than 22 businesses in the past two decades, most of which closed within two years or never opened at all — wouldn’t discuss the future of the ‘Corn, much less consider their pleas.

In an effort to save it, weekend bartender and longtime patron Tony Antico helped found the Save the John Barleycorn Coalition. Volunteers gathered more than 4,000 signatures from friends and fans in 30 countries and 20 states. They staged a demonstration outside Hanson’s Union Street restaurant. They lined up formal support from the SF Appreciation Society, the Polk Corridor Business and Middle Polk Neighborhood associations, Lower Polk Neighbors, and Sup. Aaron Peskin, who represents the district. The Board of Supervisors even passed a resolution commending the pub and recommending it be kept open.

"In America you can be a mean nut, and if you own property, the law protects you," Peskin told the Guardian.

Despite all the effort, Hanson is heavily invested in the property and appears to have little incentive to back off now. Public records show that she first bought it for $2.3 million in autumn 2005 and then took out two loans against it totaling $2.5 million.

She seems so eager to develop the property, in fact, that in June city building inspectors found ongoing construction work being conducted at Barleycorn’s neighbor, the former Front Room, without a permit, including taking out a wall and removing fixtures.

But Hanson is no stranger to conflict. Superior Court records show that she’s been the target of a fairly steady stream of litigation since the 1980s, ranging from allegations that she refused to pay contractors or employees to charges that she disregarded contractual agreements with business partners.

One case, brought against Hanson in 2003 by the former owners of her Marina restaurant, alleged that she agreed to a purchase but then withheld payments in hopes of forcing a better deal when the sellers grew desperate. According to the suit, the "alleged secret intent" of Hanson "constitutes an intentional misrepresentation, deceit, or concealment of a material fact that has caused injury" to the former owners. A judge ruled against Hanson and demanded that she pay the plaintiffs $183,674.

That case didn’t surprise Vickie Hall, who had a similar experience when she tried to sell her coffee shop in Amador County to Hanson earlier this year. After agreeing to pay full price for Hall’s homegrown business, Hanson allegedly held the deal in escrow, and therefore off the market for sale to someone else, until Hall would agree to a lower purchase price.

Hall claims that when she begrudgingly agreed but asked for a higher deposit, Hanson simply never responded to the counteroffer. Hall says Hanson couldn’t be reached for six weeks to sign over the original deposit money.

"It was a bad situation with a woman who I think is ruthless and could give a hoot about how her business practices are handled," said Hall, now living in Arkansas, who only sold the business because she and her partner are now on disability.

Look Hanson up on and you’ll find a litany of complaints from former employees, neighbors, business partners, and customers. There’s even a blog dedicated to the "eccentricities and out-and-out weirdness of San Francisco’s worst entrepreneur," located at

In fact, Barleycorn supporter John Clark, who has lived in the city 25 years and worked in local restaurants for eight years, was warned by peers not to pursue a job in any of her restaurants, so he avoided them.

"She’s a bad businesswoman and unscrupulous," Clark said. And the Barleycorn "is a great little English pub. I’m tired of the character that makes this city what it is getting sucked out of it. This is just another long-standing neighborhood institution being closed because of greed."

So far, Hanson has refused to discuss the Barleycorn, not returning calls from Ayre, Peskin, or the Guardian for this story. Her response to the demonstration outside her Union Street business was to give pub supporters the Italian version of the bird (video posted at

In fact, the only thing anyone, including government officials, can do now is make it hard for her to open a new business in the building by changing zoning laws or refusing permits — actions that may hurt Hanson in the long run but won’t change the Barleycorn’s fate.

For now, the ‘Corn’s supporters are trying to maintain their optimism while being realistic. At Ayre’s birthday party Oct. 13, patrons continued to add their names to the petition at the end of the bar while Ayre’s wife explained where in their house the couple would put the historic wooden countertop once the bar closes. But no one will be done enjoying the establishment, or fighting to keep it open, until the last minute of its last day.

"I always believe that little miracles can happen," Peskin said. "I’m waiting for one."

Gimme less


The Internet’s all abuzz (OK, the part of the Internet flooded by celebrity-obsessed housewives and former jazz dancers) about Britney Spears’ just-released music video for her single “Gimme More.” So what are you missing by watching mayoral debates or clipping your cuticles instead of cruising YouTube for mentally challenged bubblegum pop stars?


Or I can just summarize it for you: Britney dances around a pole. Britney dances around a pole. Some other girls dance with Britney around a pole. Britney dances around a pole. Girls smile. The end. (Did I mention Britney dances around a pole?)

Though the video isn’t as dismal as her performance of the song at the VMAs – she actually looks awake in the video – it’s still pretty uninspired and uninspiring, especially for an artist who’s as much about performance as she is about actual music. Take away the seizure-worthy camera angle changes and it’s just, well, boring.

What’s less so? The Sex Pistols. So to add a bit of punk to your pop diet, read about Johnny Rotten calling Green Day “old gorgonzola cheese in old boots” and Britney’s VMA performance “like a school play by 11-year-olds” during an interview about the Sex Pistols reunion tour.

What’s a singer/songwriter got to do with me?


Is singer/songwriter a genre of music? Is it merely a description? Is it shorthand for “folkie with guitar” or “soloist who’s still looking for a drummer”? Does calling someone a singer/songwriter really tell you anything at all?

This question came up last night, when some friends and I went to Amnesia to see New York-based artist Ana Egge (who sings, yes, and writes songs, yes) and special guest AJ Roach. At the door, we overheard someone ask the bouncer what was going on inside. “Singer songwriters,” he said.

Photo by B. Gootkind
“Singer songwriter” — aka badass musician — Ana Egge.

Fashion: Eat me


I once tried to make a bikini out of Fruit Loops – a disastrous project that resulted in melted clear plastic, hundreds of broken colored “o”s, and several hot-glue burns. So when I hear about designers making “edible fashions,” I’m duly impressed and skeptical. But what the designer/chef teams managed to pull off for last night’s Toast of the Town event was nothing less than awesome (in the literal, not California slang, meaning of the word).

I’m not exactly sure how they managed it, but nearly every team concocted an outfit that was not only inventive in its use of materials, but was actually attractive too – as in, if it wouldn’t wilt and smell in four hours, people might consider wearing it in real life (Of course, I didn’t manage to get photos of most of them). My favorite was a piece co-created by Ashley Miller of Tres Agaves: a classy, sassy strapless number made from tequila labels and the curled peels of 250 limes. Of course, there were also the outliers: Sean O’Brien from Myth concocted a halter top with octopus tentacles as fringe (ew!), and the “anarchy confectionary” wedding dresses decorated with candy co-created by Elizabeth Faulkner of Citizen Cake were fun, but too obviously, well, decorated with candy.

Some designers go for “pretty” or “interesting.” But chef Sean O’Brien was going more for shock value than anything else with this octopus number. Of skinning the octopus to make the bodice, he said, “think about Silence of the Lambs.” Um, OK.

All in all, though, the fashion show far exceeded my expectations, in both form and function. It’s a good thing none of the dresses were for sale, as I might’ve had to buy ‘em all (with my imaginary trust fund, of course), and then a dress-sized icebox to go next to my armoire. I guess it’s back to ill-advised home projects for me.

Olympic medallist Allison Wagner modeled a (what else?) aquatic-themed bikini co-created by event host Marisa Churchill (of Top Chef fame), featuring sugar “sand,” gum paste “turquoise beads,” and fish bone accents.

More photos, including those of food, celebrity attendees, and the dancing bow-tie guy, in this San Francisco Sentinel post.

Note: If you know which of the guest designers – Amy Kuschel, Jessica Summers, Joui Turandot, Stephanie Verrieres, and Kimie Sako – collaborated on which fashions, please let us know in the comments. We’d also love a photo of the Tres Agaves dress. I was too busy imagining myself in it to snap a picture of it. You can email a jpeg to

Toast for two


Last night I had the classic single journalist’s dilemma: who to take to a work event? In particular, this was Taste of the Town, a swanky food-and-fashion gala thrown annually by the politically evil but socially entertaining Golden Gate Restaurant Association (don’t worry – since I had press passes, I wasn’t supporting their anti-labor lobbying efforts, towards which proceeds of everyone else’s $150 tickets went).

The debate always goes something like this: I have an extra pass to a potentially cool event that I (and my potential date) might not otherwise get to attend. But I have to go there to actually work. If I bring a date I’m interested in, I’ll either ignore my date or ignore my work. So I decide to bring a platonic friend. But then I have to choose the right friend, someone fun, independent, and capable of using restraint at an open bar. Not always easy, and the right Plus One for one event may not be right for another.

I want candy. Models show off confection-themed wedding dresses co-created by Elizabeth Falkner of Citizen Cake. Of particular interest were cotton-candy hair pieces and chocolate “tattoos.”

My hippie LoveFest post


As much as I like to rag on electronic music, I happen to like a lot of it. And even more importantly, I think it deserves more respect, attention, and mainstream support than it gets. Being a great DJ is no less a hard-earned skill (often, on top of natural talent) than being a great guitarist or, I don’t know, accordionist. And for all its annoyances (fluorescent clothing, adults dressed as children, and the proliferation of bad DJs, among them), the electronic music culture is a remarkably positive one: it’s about joy and love and consciousness (don’t laugh, it’s true), about trying to reach that transcendent, collective moment in which you feel alive and empowered.

Photo by MV Galleries
LoveFest 2006

PARKed in our hearts


So PARKing day is over and the city’s metered spots all belong to cars (and cigarette butts, and urine, and unidentifiable slimy objects) once again. But thanks to the good folks over at Rebar, we can all bask in the memories of last Friday’s adventure in creating our own urban spaces: the arts collective has updated the website, with photos from PARKing Days across the world, an interactive map of SF’s version, and a trailer for their just-finished documentary on this fabulous new phenomenon.

Though much of the PARKing Day activity was centered around downtown, my friends and I strolled past nearly five parks in the Mission just on Valencia between 16th and 22nd streets. The best, by far, was outside Ritual. The strangest interpretation of the day’s purpose? An outdoor massage and chiropractic demonstration.

And in case you were wondering why we’re still talking about PARKing Day, it’s because we love every single thing about it: engaging in guerrilla art; inspiring people to manifest their own realities; drawing attention to the need for more green space; questioning our reliance on cars (and where to put them when we’re not driving them); finding solutions to problems with legal irreverence; and just being goddamned cool.

Your prose is going down


By Chris DeMento

Opium Magazine out of New York City hosted its third Literary Death Match here in SF last Wednesday night, and barring some ridiculously bad jokes on the part of the MC [an Opium bloke whose name escapes me], it was a pretty good time — and well worth the five-dollar admission.

Regina Louise opened the event with a half-sung, half-spoken childhood reminiscence about growing up in a foster home, giving it entirely from memory. Kelly Beardsley also worked without a text, relaying a funny but over-long oral account of picking up the Rolling Stones from the airport in a bus when she worked as an on-call driver for a pick-up service. Carol Queen read a tale she’d concocted about a babysitter who likes to hump her male employer; Her piece was impressive — brave, even — on account of its anti-pathology, vanquishing any trace of teenage guilt and inviting the audience to explore, as she put it, the “friendship naked” between the adolescent [retrospect] narrator and her adult lover.

Winner! Lovin’ the Big & Tall wordcraft of one Bucky Sinister.

Grr. Argh. Addict.


It’s official. I have a “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” problem.

Sure, I’ve been obsessed with the Joss Whedon television show for years. I’ve been watching it every single night before I go to sleep (bedtime stories?) since I moved to San Francisco in February. I even once admitted during an Eating Disorder recovery meeting that I thought I was replacing my addiction to dieting with an addiction to watching the slayer kick demon ass.

But last weekend I took my Buffylove to a new level. I paid a ridiculous amount of money for two tickets to the live action, Rocky Horror-style screening and singalong of “Once More With Feeling,” the musical-themed (and pretty much everyone’s favorite) episode from Season 6. Not that the tickets themselves were expensive – oh no. At face value, they were $12 each. Perfectly reasonable. Me? I paid $90. Per ticket. Without flinching. Of course, I was too embarrassed to admit it to my partner in crime, Camille, so I paid for her ticket too. Which means I spent $180 to see a movie.


A day in the park


Who said the only thing you can park at a meter is a car? How about an actual park? That’s the idea behind PARK(ing) Day, a one-day global event centered (and founded) in San Francisco, during which individuals and groups construct temporary parks in metered parking spaces all over their cities. The idea? To challenge the way we think about streets and how they’re used, as well as to advocate for more urban open space. This year’s event, which will be held tomorrow, promises to be bigger and better than ever, featuring more than 40 parks as well as Rebar’s PARKcycle, a human-powered mobile park.

Check out the Parking Day website for maps and more information.


Kickstart my heart


I love hair metal. I love it more now than I did when it was actually popular and not just popular in this ironic, 80s retro, leggings-are-back sort of way. I’m not sure who to blame for this: My sister’s band, whose show opening for Bon Jovi last year led directly to my obsession with finding “Dead or Alive” and “It’s My Life” on Limewire? My ex-boyfriend Kyle, who wooed me with a metal-heavy mp3 mix? Or maybe the indie-rock hipsters who’ve bored me so much with their anemic (but pretty, I admit) shoe-gazing songs that I’ve had to turn to Journey for a good hook? Whatever it is, I suddenly have the musical taste of a 16-year-old boy – in 1983.