Why I love snowboarder girls

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II mean, they're really hot, of course, almost by definition.

But that's not why I love the snowboarder girls. Here's the thing (and it goes for the men, too; I just happened to be watching the women last night):

Every Olympics, every major competition, the boarders push the limits, try to do something they might not be able to pull off, and half of them fall, crash and burn, wipe out -- and when they take off their helmet and goggles, they're smiling.Read more »

Boogie Bird will save us all

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Health care bickering amongst our elected leaders, new wars on the horizon, the rising prominence of American Apparel -- it’s no secret, San Fran: we need a hero. Enter Boogie Bird, a “curious creature” brought to us by spray paint artist Chor Boogie, who is displaying his tiny winged friends as part of his first post-stabbing gallery show.

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Action alert: Stop the banks!

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Let's have a show of hands.

To those of you in small business: have you noticed the banks getting tough with you on credit?  To customers of banks: have you noticed all the funny business with higher fees and shorter grace periods with credit cards? Does it annoy you that the big banks and Wall street get bailed out with little oversight or accountability,  and the rest of us on Main Street and the neighborhoods of San Francisco and beyond suffer with no relief in sight?Read more »

Tuareg rebel rock, the Tinariwen way

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The awesome group of hypnotic rockers known as Tinariwen -- from "Kel Tinariwen," or "desert boys" -- dress in traditional costume for performances, have one of the most amazing political and social backstories of any band, and write songs that seek to convey the sorrows, longing, and occasional joys of living in exile. (They'll be performing Sun/21 at the Palace of Fine Arts as part of the SF Jazz Festival.) That backstory story begins:

In 1963, an uprising of the nomadic Tuareg people began in the Adrar des Iforas desert region against the new independent government of Mali. During the revolt, a mason and trader by the name of Alhabib Ag Sidi was executed for aiding the rebels. The army then destroyed his herd of camels, cattle, and goats while his four-year old son Ibrahim watched. Ibrahim and his family travelled into exile in Algeria with his family and their one remaining cow.

It goes on to incorporate a number of rebellions, several diasoporas, Muammar Gaddafi, and founding member Ibrahim Ag Alhabib's love for American blues. 

But there's something even more compelling going on about Tinariwen than any gonzo global-folk narrative, however remarkable, suggests.

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And speaking of pot...

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Just minutes after my last post on medical marijuana, Assembly member Tom Ammiano announced that he has reintroduced state legislation that would legalize and tax marijuana. Assembly Bill 2254 follows an earlier bill by Ammiano, AB 390, which made history in January by clearing the Assembly Public Safety Committee, only to die from failing to clear a second committee before the legislative deadline.Read more »

Marijuana really is medicine

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Just in time for Medical Marijuana Week comes word that the first U.S. clinical trials on marijuana in more than 20 years has found that it is effective in relieving pain and treating multiple sclerosis and other ailments, potentially opening the way for the federal government to revisit its longstanding claim that pot has no medicinal value.Read more »

California healthcare workers spar over medical facility rallies

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By Rebecca Bowe

Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is holding a series of rallies today at eight different Bay Area medical facilities to “mark the approval of their new contract and organize to enforce it; and throw out an outside organization that is trying to undermine their progress,” according to a press release.

The “outside organization” refers to the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), a young union formed early last year in the wake of a deep rift created when SEIU brought UHW workers under its representation through a trusteeship. NUHW later decried the move as a “hostile takeover.”

Workers at the hospitals, which include five medical centers in the Daughters of Charity Health System, are expected to vote soon on whether they would rather remain under the SEIU-UHW umbrella or break away to join NUHW. The eight medical centers employ roughly 3,500 SEIU-UHW members. SEIU-UHW also plans to deliver an open letter to NUHW tomorrow, Feb. 19, at NUHW's offices in Emeryville. Read more »

Rambling Jerry Brown speech raises fear among Dems

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If Jerry Brown’s keynote speech last night to a gala environmentalist dinner is any indication, the Democratic Party faces an uphill battle to win this year’s governor’s race. The rambling, alternately vague and academic, and often pointless address did little to inspire or excite a large, sympathetic crowd that was loaded with top Democrats. In fact, some party luminaries were openly aghast at the poor performance, with one making this succinct (if off-the-record) assessment: “We’re fucked.”Read more »

Loose in Obamalandia: Dead man walking through CA

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I am on a low-rent book tour with my new cult classic El Monstruo - Dread & Redemption In Mexico City.  For the next three months, I will stumble across this land from sea to stinking sea probing the underbelly of Obama's America.  The findings will be posted on these pages.

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First stop was the near north woods, Humboldt County USA, to wheedle the medicos into granting me a clean bill of health before I hit the road.  A year ago this February, my doctor who has poked and probed my old broken cadaver for nearly 20 years, pronounced me dead. "Liver Cancer" he parsed gravely -- but I am still alive and kicking. The class enemy be warned: I am not dead yet.

Humboldt had just been wracked by a 6.5 earthquake that cut a swath through Oldtown Eureka's antique shops but was not quite Haiti.  Nonetheless, the shake-up worked its usual bad mojo and implanted the seeds of fear and loathing in every soul.  On January 22nd, three separate police agencies shut down the north end of Arcata and evacuated hundreds of residents after a scruffy hippie-type tried to fed ex a suspicious package to Berkeley that leaked, according to the clerk at Kinko's, "a chemical odor." The offending package was blown up in a back alley. Read more »

Taser trouble

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You can say this for Police Chief George Gascon: He's not shy. He's pushing so many things, on so many fronts, that it's hard to keep track, and some of them are real problems. One example: The Feb. 17th Police Commission meeting, where Gascon paraded a bunch of experts to talk about how great it would be if the SF cops had tasers.Read more »

Bay Area faith leaders gather to call for immigration reform

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By Rebecca Bowe

An event will be held this evening (2/18) at the Mission Dolores Basilica to urge Sens. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein to push for nationwide immigration reform. The gathering of people from the immigrant community and faith-based organizations, which is being put together by the San Francisco Organizing Project, will be held in conjunction with the national Reform Immigration for America campaign.

Pat Bregant of SFOP told the Guardian that a turnout of around 1,000 is expected. Several families whose lives have been turned upside down by deportations will share their stories.

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Sushi Raw: a fine place to drink twice as much as you usually would

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Ah, Sushi Raw. Although I would ding you for continuing to post your Grand Opening sign months after first rolling out your extravagantly plated Fuji Mountain rolls, you certainly have kept that working hard to please attitude. It is difficult to be mad at a place where the entire staff drops their duties to yell something cheery in Japanese every time anyone walks through the door (“Welcome?” “You look thin?”). And all pleasantries aside, you had me at the two for one beer and sake special.

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Appetite: Forecast -- a downpour of delicious varietals and gourmet bites

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It's been a stunning week of sunny weather... We may get a little rain on Saturday, but no problem if we can spend the afternoon indoors sipping delicious wine, right? On Sat/20, the largest competition of American wines in the world takes place in Fort Mason's Festival Pavilion.

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Playtime

Celebrating Sid Laverents and amateur cinema clubs

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"It's like he was waiting for someone to find him. It was overwhelming at first because I was just this little person trying to write a dissertation, and here was someone I thought needed to be recognized by history."Read more »

Transamerica condos: the mystery continues

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I’m not going to actually suggest that anyone watch all four hours-plus of the Planning Commission hearing last week on the highrise condo tower at 555 Washington. But if you’ve got the time, it’s a fascinating video.Read more »