Charmingly disheveled Adobe Books, strung as it is on the alcoholic's crucifix known as the cross-section of 16th and Valencia, has become a beloved sanctuary for readers, drunkards, and occasionally homeless individuals alike. I always look forward to Adobe Books' events because you can never predict who among the circus just outside will enter and join the fun. Not many bookstores on this dry earth permit customers to imbibe openly from brown bags of Colt 45 during poetry readings. Adobe Books' Dickensian squalor places it fondly in my heart even as its floorboards sink beneath the weight of dusty overladen bookshelves -- and when the smell of stale beer and, somehow, cats, forces me to breathe through my mouth while I peruse.
On Monday, March 1, Adobe Books will host the San Francisco launch party of three new books from Sand Paper Press. It'll be worth holding my nose to dive in.
Dolores Park is a prime spot for many activities: basking in the sunshine, finding dates, judging people, smoking and drinking in public, hitting nappers in the head with Frisbees, fraternizing with the locals, feeling claustrophobic, and becoming more attractive (see below). First and foremost is sunshine, of which the rainy months and desk jobs have robbed many SF residents. The exodus to Dolo Park usually begins when the first rays of sun break through the fog, but the true swarm takes place on the first days of summer. Certain contingents (we could call them “the gentrifiers”) arrive looking like the undead: wan, anemic, and skeletal. But by August, Dolores Park has worked its magic: tank top tans have transformed them from “almost-see-through” to a sallow shade of “slightly-less-pale” and little beer bellies round out their skinny frames.
A couple weeks ago, however, it seemed that all this Dolo magic might be coming to a temporary halt.
If 2010 wasn’t enough new year for you, fret not -- for Chinese New Year is upon us in all its glory. The holiday season (which actually started on Valentine’s Day) culminates this weekend with a firecracker explosion of Asian culture and showmanship. San Francisco does the new year big, bigger than any city outside of Asia, in fact. We suggest you get out your red clothes, mandarin oranges, and yusheng raw fish salad (all believed to bring good fortune for your next 365 days) and hit up some of the following events. This is one of those weekends that make our city great.
In new documentary The Examined Life, eight of the most famous minds in contemporary philosophy -- Cornel West, Avital Ronell, Peter Singer, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Martha Nussbaum, Michael Hardt, Judith Butler, and Slavoj Zizek -- seem almost unintimidating. Detached from the props of intellectual life and presented in public setting away from rapt crowds, miked podiums, and the protective custody of academia, these philosophers appear comfortingly average, for entire milliseconds. For instance, on a sunny afternoon, post-structuralist scholar Judith Butler could almost be any other leather-jacketed San Francisco Missionite with a cool haircut ambling down Clarion Alley, perhaps en route to Thrift Town for some more leather jackets. That is, until she begins to discuss, in a slow and deliberate manner with eyes fixed intently into the middle distance, the body's morphologies as experienced by the subject. Cover blown.
Examined Life director Astra Taylor will be appearing -- along with philosopher Judith Butler and activist-artist Sunaura Taylor (who appears with Butler during the segment filmed in Clarion Alley) -- at a screening of her film at the Herbst Theater on Thu/25, at 7:30 PM. The three women will participate in a discussion and Q&A session following the screening.
A carne asada here, a lengua there... some days, you can't throw a stick without hitting a purveyor of fine tacos here in the city. But although we pick them up on our neighborhood streets, rarely do we think about the road that the ingredients in each little tortilla nugget had to journey to hit our belly. Luckily, we have experts to do it for us. And they'll be sharing their findings on taco sourcing -- sustainable and not so much -- this week (Thur/25) at "Tacoshed," an evening sponsored by Rebar and landscape architect David Fletcher.
Heads up, fans of informative playfulness: Babeland co-founder Rachel Venning will be at Diesel Books in Oakland on Tues/16 to read from and sign copies of her latest book Moregasm, a guide to getting more from our sexual forays.
The majority of mainstream sex guides currently available follow a formula I've never understood, which is to feature real people in the cover photo and then nowhere else in the book. These ludicrous covers, mostly featuring underwear-clad models in suggestively prone positions, are a source of embarrassment at the cash register, but a worse offense is found inside. Upon opening the book the reader discovers, rather than any useful or instructional photos, a slew of black and white diagrams in stick-figure detail accompanied by text that is generally inscrutable. The sexual acts are described in ways that are alternately clinical and deliberately vague, peppered with medical terms like "vasocongestive arousal" along with meaningless Cosmopolitan-isms about revving engines or raising temperatures or similar banalities with which we are all familiar.
Taking this convention into consideration, Moregasm happily does the opposite.
“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.
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.