Nicole Gluckstern

Strong Beer Month pours it on, is strong

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There’s not a lot to look forward to in February. Unless, of course, you happen to be into beer. (And, er, love.) Yes, we're currently in the middle of a great SF Beer Week. But the city has also embarked on an entire month of sudsy exploration. A proud tradition imported from Munich, Germany, strong beer (Starkbier) festivals have become part of the beer drinker’s winter calendar worldwide. In San Francisco, where good beer is as easy to find as a decent burrito, and not much more expensive, Strong Beer Month, co-hosted by Magnolia Pub and Brewery and 21st Amendment (both of which make their own) still stands out on the beer enthusiast radar as a special occasion. First, because it’s about beer. Second, because it’s about strong beer – as in extra-alcoholic. And mostly, because like any celebration of the craft of beer-making, it’s full of delicious and surprising nuances.

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The revolution will not be regionalized

How Trikont Music is saving the world, one compilation at a time
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a&eletters@sfbg.com

It's safe to say that Achim Bergmann of Trikont, Germany's oldest independent record label, has an affinity for the underdog. From his favorite soccer team (Munich's best-loved losers, the 1860 Löwen) to his favorite musicians, it is outsiders who attract Bergmann's attentions, personal and professional, rather than the heroes of the mainstream. Of course, outsider music comes in many variations, and somehow Trikont manages to embrace them all. Read more »

Hats off to Paul's!

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Text by Nicole Gluckstern. Read more »

Art or ARG

What is this thing they call the Jejune Institute? Does it hurt?
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ALTERNATE REALITY GAMES It starts, as most quests do, with a question. "What the hell?" A flyer advertising the Aquatic Thought Foundation, a division of the Jejune Institute devoted to Human-Dolphin interaction. And even though you're probably the type to resist even the perverse pleasure of sitting through a bullshit Scientologist e-meter reading, something about the prospect of communing with dolphins is absurdly compelling. You call the number. Read more »

Sila and the Afrofunk Experience

The best of all possible worlds in World Music terms: uptempo, polyrhythmic, socially conscious (but not pedantic), strikingly melodic, and eminently danceable.
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PREVIEW First come the horns, then the bass, an emphatic high hat and a sparkle of percussion, a trill of electric guitar, more brass, and it's on. Thanks to "Shelter," Sila and the Afrofunk Experience's second album Black President (Visila Records, 2009) has a funky kickoff. Read more »

Throbbing Gristle vs. Machine Sex

The Industrial Revolution of San Francisco
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P>Though San Francisco might be eternally hampered by the stereotyped perception of a hippie wonderland replete with flowery hair, free love, and fluffy puppies, in reality, SF has long been as much a haven for radical dystopians as it is for their wistfully upbeat foils. From robot circuses to urban exploration to electric sheep, San Franciscans have a demonstrated predilection for the bionic, the blighted, and the bizarre. Read more »

Wise blood

Wovenhand works a supernatural naturalism -- and weaves a Denver charm
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› a&eletters@sfbg.com

The only real city within a 1,000-mile radius, Denver perches a full mile above sea level, a windswept plateau superficially blanketed by strip malls, widget manufacturers, and convention centers. Bereft of both cosmopolitan peerage and any truly cohesive sense of cultural identity, the loneliness of the native Denverite is pervasive, haunted, and misunderstood, but not wholly undersung. Read more »

Liebe me, liebe me not

Love is in the air (and theater) at this year's Berlin and Beyond fest
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By Nicole Gluckstern

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

It might not be spring, but love is already in the air, thanks to a Berlin and Beyond lineup crammed full of romance — as mysterious and elusive as the first vernal crocus. Read more »

"Tantalus"

The Shotgun Players raise the bar with a staged reading of John Barton's daunting 10-play cycle
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PREVIEW Last year's audacious staged reading of the complete Tom Stoppard trilogy The Coast of Utopia saw the Shotgun Players expanding their already broad horizons to encompass a rarely performed heavyweight piece exploring the roots of Russian radicalism. Read more »

The Thousand Faces Ball

OmniCircus continues to thrill and trouble audiences
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PREVIEW Imagine the unsavory digs of the Mos Eisley Cantina of Tatooine stormed by a horde of previously barred droids and miscreants and forced to hold a variety show to stave off certain destruction — it's a scene reminiscent of those generated by San Francisco's OmniCircus, which has been simultaneously thrilling and troubling audiences for two decades. Read more »