Lit

Clare Rojas' safe space

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As far as books go, Everything Flowers (Chronicle Books, $22.95) may just be my favorite to come out of the Bay Area this year. And not for its revelatory prose or whip-smart characters (it has neither). The small volume is filled with Clare Rojas' quietly woman-centric, garden-toned designs that – can a book do this? – make me feel supported. I found myself breathing deeply while reading it, as if I'd just shook an asymmetrically packed satchel from my shoulders.

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Urban homesteaders forge ahead, despite lack of ®

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For years, the Internet has provided a second home to a community of urban farmers diligently tilling their carrots and tapping away on their keyboards about the experience. These people lived with all the peace and prosperity attendant to backyard chickens, rooftop apiaries, and tomatoes canned in plain sight of sidewalks and skyscrapers – until some of their own went rogue.

Pastoralists the blogosphere over erupted in rage this February when the Dervaes Institute, a long-time Internet presence and self-proclaimed authority on the subject of urban farming, sent not-quite-cease-and-desist letters to sixteen other institutions and small businesses, forbidding them from using the term “urban homesteading” without including the fact that the term is the Dervaes' intellectual property. Read more »

Lit: A Slow Death: 83 Days of Radiation Sickness

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This review originally appeared in the Jan. 7-13, 2009 issue of the Bay Guardian:

John Gall's art for A Slow Death: 83 Days of Radiation Sickness (Vertical 160 pages $19.95) is unique in a gaze-snatching fashion. It combines hues of yellow and green, block patterns, and a news photo backdrop into an attractive, enigmatic, and faintly disturbing image that makes a browser wonder, "What exactly is inside this book?" Read more »

Printed matters: A specific glance at the 44th California International Book Fair

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Do you want the pristine first edition of Bram Stoker's Dracula for 45 grand, or the slightly worn copy for 25 grand? Such were the questions that presented themselves at the 44th Annual California Antiiquarian Book Fair, which took place at SF's Concourse Exhibition Center from February 11 through 13. Read more »

Speed Reading: Edie Fake's Gaylord Phoenix

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The moment I saw Edie Fake's book Gaylord Phoenix (Secret Acres, 256 pages, $17.95) on a table at a local shop was a lifesaver. Not much contemporary art or stuff actually reaches me -- and jolts me -- at the mysterious and elusive spot(s) where my imagination and spirit reside, and the drawings and stories of Fake do exactly that. I have some issues of Gaylord Phoenix from when it was in serial form, and Fake's comic Rico McTaco, but I had no idea a lavish color book of Gaylord Phoenix existed, and the discovery was about as close to finding a treasure as I've had in recent daily life. Read more »

Beating chest for APE

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I used to live in a town where the alternative-alternative (holler!) weekly had a comics page. Paging to the back of said volume each seven days I'd look for Tony Millionaire's joint, Maakies. Millionaire's rounding out a phalanx of guest speakers at this weekend's APE (Sat/16 and Sun/17), so I'm thinking back to the days when his preciously drawn little derelicts marked my Wednesdays.

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A different lit: Another kind of Castro sex store

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"It's really one of the only places in the Castro that isn't focused on drinking or shopping,” says events coordinator Oscar Raymundo of his book nook on the neighborhood's main drag, A Different Light. Ambling down Castro Street, one really doesn't see too much geared towards the intellectual pursuit – punnily-named beauty salons, cheap bars, and spendy restaurants are far more evocative of the enclave's milieu. Raymundo would be the first to admit, however, that the bookstore where he works deals in a theme that plays a central role in Castro life: sexuality, and the varying ways in which the LGBT community lives the theme.

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Will the Thrill says good-bye (kinda) to movies -- and hello to "Mermaid"

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I received an email the other day with the terribly alarming subject line "FINAL. THRILLVILLES. EVER. No fooling." Could Will "The Thrill" Viharo, a veteran host of cult movie nights around the Bay Area, be hanging up his fez and smoking jacket for good?

Well, not exactly. Fans already know he's been scaling back his "Thrillville" events since the Parkway Theater closed and the Cerrito Theater changed ownership in 2009 (both East Bay venues, operated by Speakeasy Theaters, had hosted Viharo's regularly-scheduled B-movie extravaganzas). Over the past year, Viharo's taken his show -- which includes his wife and assistant, Monica Tiki Goddess, and usually a pre-movie band or performing group -- on the road, sprinkling a bit of sleaze, gore, trash, and monster mayhem on an assortment of Bay Area theaters.

Now, he explains in his (sorta) sign-off email, "I am giving up the Thrillville road show concept and sticking exclusively to my new home base at Forbidden Island in Alameda, where I'll be hosting my mellower movie series 'Forbidden Thrills' one Monday a month, for as long as people show up. It's a stripped down version of Thrillville — (mostly) public domain cult classics, cocktail specials, prizes, no cover, [and] free popcorn." In other words, you can take the Thrill off the B-movie road, but you can't take him out of the tiki bar. Or something.

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Old reliable true confessions -- John Waters on secret idols, polar opposites, and role models

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By Ryan Lattanzio

John Waters. Forefather of filth, pundit of provocation. Not to be mistaken, of course, for 1934 Academy Award recipient John Waters, who kept coming up in my research of the other John Waters.

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A 40-year Last Gasp that's getting stronger

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By Cécile Lepage

Last Gasp, San Francisco’s landmark independent and underground publisher, is turning 40. To celebrate this feat – in four decades, Last Gasp has spawned more than 300 comics and 250 books – it is throwing a party and an art show Thurs/April 1 at 111 Minna Gallery. Read more »