Caitlin Donohue

Sushi Raw: a fine place to drink twice as much as you usually would

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Ah, Sushi Raw. Although I would ding you for continuing to post your Grand Opening sign months after first rolling out your extravagantly plated Fuji Mountain rolls, you certainly have kept that working hard to please attitude. It is difficult to be mad at a place where the entire staff drops their duties to yell something cheery in Japanese every time anyone walks through the door (“Welcome?” “You look thin?”). And all pleasantries aside, you had me at the two for one beer and sake special.

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Snap your fingers for our new poet laureate

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“The only war that matters is the war against the imagination.” Diane di Prima, San Francisco’s new poet laureate as of last year, should be an expert on imagination’s primacy. Her work in such volumes as The Revolutionary Letters (1971) helped to shine a light on the role women played in Bohemia- not always the most well-lit arena. On Fri/19, the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts holds a reception to laud the most well known female voice of the Beat movement, and celebrate her turn as our city’s bard.

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SF Indiefest drops by the Corner Store

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“We were looking for a working class hero story,” said Katherine Bruens, creator of feature film documentary Corner Store at its SF Indiefest preview this weekend. They found it. Corner Store (to be shown again on March 27) widens to include more, however- becoming a portrait of what it is to be an immigrant in this country, on missing home and personal conflict. On what it means to sleep in the back of the convenience store you work in 16 hours a day. The film joined a stellar lineup of shorts and features at the festival, a film geek's delight which continues through Thur/18 around town.

The producers followed their protagonist, Yousef Elhaj, for 14 months, during which they say he was “too polite not to have a documentary made about him." Elhaj hadn’t seen his family for the 10 years he'd spent funding a life for them at his Castro/Mission (“Mistro,” as an interview with some neighbors memorably dubs it) convenience store, where the majority of Corner Store takes place.

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Blow your mind on this lecture, man

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It was a convergence that may have been responsible for the rise of psychedelic drugs, yoga, vegetarianism, and the new age spiritual movement in the western world. And it happened at Harvard University? Don Lattin’s talk on his book The Harvard Psychedelic Club (Harper Collins) next week (Thur/18) narrates one of history’s most momentous groups of college buddies and how their scientific studies on the effects of tripping balls changed American culture in the 1960s.

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Silver screen swoons: V-Day at the movies

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A dark movie house is a great thing. Single? Slink in and bury yourself in the tumultuous happenings of others’ lives. Hot and heavy with a special someone? Gangbusters- find a nice secluded spot in the back row and try not to gross out the single people. Whatever your mood/Facebook relationship status is this Valentine’s Day weekend, the city’s movie theaters have a love-related flick for you and (if that’s where you’re at these days) yours. Grab some buttered popcorn and take a peep.

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DJ Similak Chyld dances to an unfamiliar beat

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DJ Similak Chyld doesn’t mess with inspiration. When asked how she came up with the idea for Afro Chico Electro, her dance party that hits the floor at Triple Crown on Wed/10, she’s narrowed the concept down to a single visual. It’s a purple pencil drawing by graffitist Mode 2 that shows a swath of party people intertwined, their arms thrown in the air, eyes closed, smiles open. There’s a bald girl, a blonde girl, some b-boys, a cool guy in a hat- but they’re all dancing to the same beat. Quote the pint sized Similak, “the idea is basically merging all the genres that I love, to bridge the gap between different crews, djs, artists, etcetera. I figure it makes sense to me- why not throw a party that represents who I am at the core?”

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Join the Orchid and Hound fan club

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I hate to be objectifying, but journalistic integrity be damned- Orchid and Hound are damn good looking. The queer pop duo, comprised of satyr-esque John Constantine and the coyly shaggy Lawrence Alarcon, were also charming and beautifully turned out when I met them for drinks the other night- and, of course, they are brilliant onstage. Their upcoming show at The Blue Macaw (Thur/11) promises to look a lot like what would happen if High School Musical came out of the closet, hired a better stylist and started partying. So you’re going to have to excuse me if the following article starts to sound like Tiger Beat at times. I’m a little smitten, so shoot me.

This is what you will see at an Orchid and Hound show. Lawrence Alarcon will bang out lovely up and down tunes on his piano, while John Constantine provides jazzy vocals that ease over here to a sound reminiscent of Broadway, then smooth down there to recall a smoky lounge somewhere in Vegas. They’ve dubbed it “queer pop”- a highly listenable, intimate little cabaret. "We like to think of 'queer' as 'different,' like melodrama," says Constantine of their sound.

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Roll over, Beethoven: Real Vocal String Quartet takes the classics for a ride

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“The classical composers we know so well, Beethoven and Bach and Vivaldi, they were improvisers. So really, we’re carrying on that legacy,” says Real Vocal String Quartet founder Irene Sazer. I’d love to know what the old masters would think of a RVSQ gig- would they throw down their powdered wig and get down when the women launch their cellos into “Fontana Abandonada-Passatempo,” their Afro-Brazilian jam? Get their britches in a twist over “Kothbiro,” a nyatiti song by Kenyan artist Ayub Ogada?

I reckon they’d have dug the tunes. After all, RVSQ, performing this Thursday at Freight and Salvage, attributes their freedom to perform such divergent genres to their traditional classical training. The band members- Dina Maccabee and Sazer on the violin, Alisa Rose on the violin and fiddle and cellist Jessica Ivry- were all band kids, many raised in families of classical musicians and most recipients of college degrees in their respective axes.

Some started careers in orchestras and the like. But there was always something beyond the Bach that beckoned.

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Bundle up kiddies, there's free oranges to be had

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C'mon, brave the cold to support your local farmers

Do you like fresh, local food? Do you like fresh, local, free food? Well then you're in luck, because a farmer's market near you is making it easy to support the former while recieving the latter. Lemme break down the why and wherefore of this phenomenon.

Name a business establishment that has trouble making it during the winter months (choose one):
a. Ice cream shops
b. Convertible dealers
c. Farmer's markets
d. All of the above

Yup, you got it. "Febuary is definitely the seasonal ebb. This is the time we want to see market shoppers come out, rain or shine," says Christine Farren, administrative and events manager of the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture. Apparently, the whole lap-around-the-stalls-with-your-Chico-bag isn't quite as appealing when the weather is sub fifty and giving itself over to drizzle danger. This is trouble for those of us who enjoy having healthy, hearty, locally grown veggies at our fingertips- farmer's markets need year round support to stay open year round.

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Go Crissy! Green education gets a grand re-opening

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Crissy Field's new environmental education center is looking damn fine. Photo by Green Building: Project FROG

I don’t have the exact numbers on this, but I’ll wager dollars to doughnuts that most of San Francisco is unaware that there’s a national park within city limits. We are generously parked here- a fact that the Crissy Field Center has been working to educate us on since 2001. This is big! So big that their grand re-opening this weekend isn’t just going to be a fun family celebration, but a well deserved look back at a SF institution done good.

Crissy Field has worn more hats than Elton John. Originally a fishing hangout for the Ohlones back before whitey harshed the original San Franciscans’ buzz, the field has also gone through a life as the city’s airfield. But when the planes stopped landing, a joint project between individuals, businesses and the national park service got rid of much of the concrete and chain link fence to revert the area back to its original state, planting over 100,000 native plants in the process and establishing a connection between the city and the Presidio natural area that Crissy Field edges.

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