City Lights

Laid bare

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's new memoir The End of San Francisco captures tumultuous times


LIT "I met Johanna at a party in New York in 1998 — actually I was talking to her boyfriend first, barrettes in his dyed black hair and painted nails, I was trying to figure out if he was a fag or from Olympia."Read more »

"It just gets different": Ali Liebegott on her third book 'Cha-Ching!'


When you've spent long, smelly months in a bus traveling the world sharing words with pockets of alternative community, the issue of place takes the fore. As she releases her third book Cha-Ching!, and as her decades-old Sister Spit collective embarks upon yet another tour of spoken word, queer revelry, and cramped living conditions, author Ali Liebegott is getting academic about it. Read more »

This year, Banned Books Week matters more than ever


Have you ever listened to KPFA's “Flashpoints”? A friend described it to me, as we listened to an episode featuring San Francisco's newest poet laureate – our first Latino laureate – Alejandro Murgía, as a “very pointed” radio show. The host, poet Dennis Bernstein, asked a very pointed question about Obama and Romney's reactions to the anti-Muslim video that's causing uproar in the Middle East. 

But Murgía changed the subject. What about the racism of the Tucson Unified School District, he asked? Why doesn't its removal of the Mexican American studies program, and with it books like The Tempest and Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and other books that “emphasize students’ ethnicity rather than their individuality” get talked about more? The more he talked, the more I became convinced that yes, this was a very big deal. 

Luckily, the country has an opportunity to talk about the issue of free speech repression via next week's 30th annual national celebration of Banned Books Week, Sun/30-Oct. 6. Read more »