In Edgar Allan Poe’s grisly tale The Masque of the Red Death, a group of wealthy nobles hole up in a fortified abbey to avoid the ravages of a mysterious ailment sweeping the countryside, which causes its victims to sweat blood and keel over dead in the streets. Read more »
Harley-Davidson. Twinkies. Michael Jackson. Some things are so uniquely American they practically ooze stars and stripes, no matter how far across the borders they stray.
Another all-American tradition – right up there with Miller-in-a-can and Wheel of Fortune – has got to be Bad Movie Night: the deliberate screening of movies so awful they make the viewer scream tears of laughter, or sit in horrified silence, too traumatized by dubious production values or script incoherence to muster the strength to tear their eyes away. Read more »
LIT From the first page, an anonymous manifesto denouncing the pharmaceutical industry, to a bronze sculpture of a suppressed anti-Nazi headline from the Lippische Tages-Zeitung weighted down by a giant hammer and nails on the last, David Lester's graphic novel The Listener (Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 304 pages, $19.95) explores how words often fail their intended purpose, precipitating actions with unforeseen consequences.Read more »
It’s not really a subtle couplet, “Weighted down with silent dead/ I fear our blood won’t rise again,” but with it the title track for PJ Harvey’s newest offering Let England Shake sets the stage for the songs to come. A surprisingly melodic exploration of the still reverberating effects of World War I on England’s shores and English mores, Let England Shake is both a call to arms and a plea to lay them down again. And despite its deliberate focus on atrocities past, the album can’t help but to implicate all current and future wars within its narrow rifle scope. Read more »
Electric Party Songs and The Darker Side of Broadway
However you feel (or don’t) about the Beat Generation, you have to give Allen Ginsberg credit for his ability to transcend the limitations of that motley crew, always pushing forward and outward in his beatific search for the sublime. Perhaps no other modern poet has better exemplified the endless fluctuations of the underground, and how to eternally roll along with them. Our own Holy Fool: queer Buddhist Jew, vagabond truth-seeker, and the King of May. In all the ways that count, Allen Ginsberg was, and will always be, America. Read more »
MUSIC Last November, with little fanfare, homegrown roots music empire Arhoolie Records turned 50, an almost unbelievable milestone for a niche music label dedicated to the lasting preservation of regional music in an increasingly disposable MP3 world.Read more »
Joining the saltwater chorus at the monthly Chantey Sing at Fisherman's Wharf
Landlubbers arise. San Franciscans of the not long-distant past were a sea-faring folk, and you don’t have to scratch the surface very far to dig up old salt. Sailboats, houseboats, fishing boats, and ferries all still have their place in the bay, churning in the wake of container ships and visiting cruise lines, and the waterfront pubs are still prime locations to be regaled by gusty tall (ship) tales by grizzled old-school longshoremen and maritime amateurs alike.
One of the most unexpected legacies of our boating heritage is the monthly Chantey Sing aboard The Balclutha, a historic square rig docked at the end of the Hyde Street Pier. Six months shy of its 30-year anniversary, the Chantey Sing is one of those wonderfully hidden-in-plain-view pockets of locals-only camaraderie that you could spend years of urban assimilation hoping to stumble upon. Read more »
For anyone who could count that high, Friday’s St. Stupid’s Day parade marked its 33rd anniversary -- a year that was also auspicious, it should be noted, for that famous first martyr, Jesus Christ Superstar. Will St. Stupid, revered patron of the First Church of the Last Laugh, succumb to a similar fate as JC?
Methinks not. The Romans have yet to suss out the threat St. Stupid’s low-maintenance doctrine poses to their empire building, and the Stupids are not about to let them in on that little secret. After all, on the surface it seems pretty benign, a bit of only-in-San-Francisco color for the die-hards to cherish and the tourists to gawk at. But beneath the greasepaint, dirty balloon animals, and silly sloganeering (“Dum is Sexy,” “I Can’t Afford an Actual Sign,” “Serfs Up!”), there’s still a feverish drop of pure dada shivering in the mix. Read more »