Jerry Brown and the Rose Bird factor

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Jerry Brown hadn’t even formally announced that he was running for governor when the San Francisco Chronicle brought up the name of Rose Bird.

It’s fine to talk about where Brown is vulnerable, and there’s no shortage of material. The guy has a long public record; anyone who served two terms as governor in the 1970s and early 1980s, and two terms as mayor of Oakland, and one term as chair of the state Democratic Party, and did a couple of years as a KPFA talk show host, is going to have baggage. He’s also got a wealth of experience.

But the Rose Bird stuff is a cheap shot.

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e.e.'s coming

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When I was a young reader first discovering poetry -- and still very much under the thumb of my strict Asian parents -- I blushed (for obvious reasons) whenever I encountered e. e. cummings' name. In those prudish days, were I to know that cummings penned some of the most deliciously sensual poems of the last century, I might have been frightened off literature for good. This hypothetical is redundant, as I wasn't scared off poetry and eventually outgrew those jejune ideas of virtue. This hypothetical is further redundant because his erotic poems were never published together in the same volume until now, in Erotic Poems, a new collection of cummings' amatory verses and sketches.

Readers will delight in these works, which are as naughty as they are tender, bemused as they are earnest. Consider the below, from "16":

(may i touch said he
how much said she
a lot said he)
why not said she
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Jerry Brown releases forceful announcement speech

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Jerry Brown announced his candidacy for governor by posting a three-minute speech on You Tube that was forceful and direct, making the case that California is in crisis and needs experienced, knowledgeable leadership, not an anti-government outsider who’s new to politics.

“We tried that and it doesn’t work. We found out that not knowing is not good,” Brown said in a veiled swipe at both Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and likely Republican nominee Meg Whitman, a former CEO with no political experience who has rarely even voted.Read more »

Behind every good neighborhood...

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“Like a wild garden full of it’s own offerings” says Mission Muralismo editor Annice Jacoby of the neighborhood that gave birth to Balmy Alley, Carlos Santana and countless rolls in Dolores Park’s grassy knolls. The Mission’s street art really does bear fruit, and this Friday will be an excellent chance to check out the women behind all the flowering at the de Young’s “Muralistas: the Mission and the World,” a continuation of the museum's tribute to the neighborhood's art that began last year.

In a recent KQED interview, Jacoby told the story of a mural of a motorcycle riding “chiquita” mural that was painted off of 16th Street and Mission. With her “derriere” in the air, the skimply clad painting had offended some of the neighbors that lived by the display. The artist’s solution? Merely to plump up those panties “with a few strokes of the brush.” Chiquita covered, community’s calm restored.

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Newsom’s sanctuary policy destroys MUNI worker’s family

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“They used our son as bait, just to get the mother to come in,” Washington said.

When San Francisco native and MUNI bus driver Charles Washington married Tracey, his Australian girlfriend in Reno last April, he never imagined that she and her sons would be deported after her 13-year-old bullied another kid at school for 46 cents. Read more »

Foam, creams, Commis, and me

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Oh, Commis, why couldn’t you have been holding down your current patch of Piedmont Avenue when I was spending much of my time in a teensy one-bedroom nearby? Then I could have swung by and experienced your wonderful food on a regular basis, that much sooner.

Here in this spare, elegant, moderne space, you get a three-course prix fixe, period -- but what an often fabulous fix to be in. On a recent evening, I got to sample the dishes that earned Oakland native chef James Syhabout -- a veteran of renowned molecular gastro epicenters El Bulli, the Fat Duck, and Mugaritz, as well as Coi and Manresa -- a Michelin star. It’s the only one in the East Bay apart from Chez Panisse’s -- and you can see, and taste, why the inspector was seduced. Read more »

Pressure builds to save Muni

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Widespread frustration with Muni service cuts and fare hikes – passionately expressed by the public on Friday at a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency meeting that continues tomorrow (Tuesday, March 2, starting at noon in City Hall Room 400) – has prompted a surprisingly diverse backlash.Read more »

Live Shots: Four Tet, The Independent, 2/26/10

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That beat. It was all about that beat. And everyone had filled up the Independent theater on February 26 to hear Four Tet's hypnotic beats all night long. His new album, There Is Love in You, was released last month and Four Tet joined several other electronic groups last Friday on one of the closing nights of the SF Noise Pop festival. Read more »

Noise Pop 2010: Magnetic Fields at the Fox

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Spare but touching, playful yet perched oh-so-formally on chairs with music and notes on hand, accomplished and unafraid of the occasional sour or dissonant note. Yep, that’s the Magnetic Fields.

The ensemble had the sold-out mob in their precious paws on Feb. 27 at Fox Theater -- from opener “Lindy-Lou,” off the 6th’s Hyacinths and Thistles to “Falling in Love with the Wolfboy” to a haunting version of “Acoustic Guitar.” “Yes,” yowled one fan when the group announced “I Don’t Want to Get Over You.” Even the group's "B" set (the "A" set list will be performed at the March 1 Herbst show) was, as Claudia Gonson put it, teeming with "awesomeness."

The combo could do no wrong -- magnetism worked in its favor, though you got the impression that the band was still working out the kinks, still psychically at the start of their tour. They were a bit casual, a bit messy -- Stephin Merritt sticking to ukulele and Gonson pointing up helpfully when she’d try and miss that exact right high note. Read more »

Noise Pop 2010: Scout Niblett, Sonny and the Sunsets at Cafe du Nord

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More impressions of Noise Pop, comin’ right up.

Blame it on a lingering head cold but I was bummed that I had to skulk off before Citay took the stage on Feb. 25 at Cafe du Nord. I got there just in time for Niblett, however: the Portland, Ore., performer was a solo powerhouse, conjuring estrogen-fueled might with a plaintive wail and some blissfully crunchy riffs for a packed house. At the risk of waxing rockist, I only wished it were even louder and harder. Read more »

Noise Pop 2010: Yoko Ono and Deerhoof at the Fox

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Noise Pop -- the quality sounds and sonic surprises always amaze, no matter how few or many shows you catch.

I didn’t get to gawk at as much as I’d like, considering I was suffering from a bad case of the sniffles. Still, Yoko Ono, live with the Plastic Ono Band on Feb. 23 at Fox Theater, was nothing to sniff at.

Deerhoof opened with a softer, more subdued set than usual. The Bay Area faves seemed a mite overwhelmed by the big room and opulent surroundings: drummer-founder Greg Saunier said as much as he pondered how “pretty” the venue is. Nevertheless the combo quickly gained steam and confidence, as Satomi Matsuzaki twirled, danced, and gestured on the side of the stage and the entire group switched instruments and uncharacteristically tackled a few covers (the Ramones’ “Pinhead” and Canned Heat’s “Going Up the Country,” the latter dovetailing perfectly with Saunier’s ethereal falsetto). I like my Deerhoof louder, in a more intimate venue, but the band was the perfect choice to prep the audience for Ono. Read more »

Live Shots: Zee Avi, Rickshaw Stop, 2/25/10

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For the 3rd night of the SF Noise Pop festival, three bands shared the stage with Zee Avi at Rickshaw Stop. Noise Pop is such a marathon of music, with each band rushing on stage, setting up their equipment, rocking out for about eight songs and moving aside to make room for the subsequent performers. Luckily through all this movement and music, each group really held their own and the audience kept begging for encores that were never possible. Read more »

Bill Bennett, the only public official in California to take on PG&E

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William Morgan Bennett, 1918-2010

On the front page of the Guardian of Oct. 19, 1988, we ran a big picture of Bill Bennett with a caption that read: "Bill Bennett, the only public official in California to take on PG&E."

The reason we featured Bennett was because the California Public Utilities Commission was poised to make yet another multi-billion giveaway to the Pacific Gas & Electric Company.

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Chatting with "The Yellow Handkerchief" star Eddie Redmayne

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English actor and model Eddie Redmayne isn’t yet a household name, but he’s achieved rising star status with a string of much lauded roles in indie and mainstream films. After playing Edward Wilson, Jr. in The Good Shepherd (2006) and murderous son Tony in Savage Grace (2007), he returns to American film as colorful outcast Gordy in The Yellow Handkerchief. I spoke to Redmayne about getting a handle on his strange character, which meant doing road trip research and adopting a Southern drawl.

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It's so easy to go after public employees

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The always-insightful Robert Cruickshank has a fascinating piece on Calitics today talking about the investigative reports showing that some state employees save up all their vacation time and get big payouts when they retire. It's true that some state workers walk away with upwards of $100,000, and it's true that it pisses people off, and it's true that there probably ought to be some reforms that limit the amount of vacation time you can save and cash in.Read more »