Could he be -- the worst pope ever?

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In The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbons reports on the trial of Pope John XXIII in 1415, during which "the most scandalous charges were suppressed: The Vicar of Christ was accused only of piracy, murder, rape, sodomy and incest."Read more »

Lawsuit could expose SFPD-ABC collaboration

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Imminent legal actions against San Francisco, its Police Department, and the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control could reveal whether a pair of undercover agents went rogue in harassing nightclubs and aggressively busting parties or whether they were acting at the direction of top officials.

Attorney Mark Webb – whose work on a racketeering lawsuit against the policing agencies was the subject of cover stories in the Guardian and the SF Weekly – told us that on Monday, he plans to file that racketeering claim against the city (which will then become a lawsuit if the city rejects it, as it routinely does) and a related lawsuit in Superior Court involving the rough, unnecessary arrest of bartender Javier Magallon and harassment of Mike Quan, owner of The Room, Playbar, and Mist. Narrated surveillance video associated with the case was posted on YouTube yesterday. Read more »

The cheeseman can

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The subtitle of Rainbow Grocery cheesemonger Gordon “Zola” Edgar’s new memoir (supertitled Cheesemonger, appropriately enough) would be enough for me to count the book a success; “Life on the wedge.” Ha! See, right there, he had me ready to head out to his Omnivore Books reading (Sat/3) fangirl style, washed rind Taleggio in hand, hounding for an autograph. Luckily, the rest of his book is pretty good too. Read more »

Workers rally against Newsom's layoff scheme

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By Jobert Poblete

Dozens of workers at San Francisco General Hospital rallied March 25 to protest layoffs there and throughout the city as ordered by Mayor Gavin Newsom. More than 17,000 city workers received layoff notices in the last few weeks, including hundreds at the hospital. The protest was organized by SEIU Local 1021, which represents around 12,000 city employees, 9,000 of whom have received pink slips. 

Many of these workers are expected to be re-hired as part-time employees, working 37.5 hours a week or less. The move is expected to shave $50 million from a more than $500 million budget deficit. The Mayor’s Office is calling this a “reorganization” that will minimize the impact on services and maintain employment. But the plan, which was proposed by Newsom last month without first consulting with the city’s unions, has met fierce resistance from employees and their labor representatives and is now the subject of negotiations between the mayor and 41 city employee unions. Read more »

Judicial candidate interviews: Michael Nava

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There are two contested races for judge in San Francisco -- one open seat, and one incumbent who's facing a direct challenge. We'll be interviewing the candidates over the next few weeks, and posting the interview tapes so you can listen in. The first interview: Michael Nava, who's running for Seat 15, challenging incumbent Judge Richard Ulmer. Daniel Dean is also in that race. Read more »

Video game review: "Yakuza 3"

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By Peter Galvin

Yakuza 3
(CS1 Team, Sega)
PS3

Yakuza 3 is a Japanese import title that recalls a time when our game consoles were dominated by similarly wacky culture-clash experiences instead of the American-made games that dominate the charts today. In the late 90s, it seemed every other game released was from Japan, and the bumping and grinding of East meets West was a large part of the enjoyment of these games. A game from this era that springs to mind is 1999's Shenmue, the story of a Japanese boy setting out to avenge his father’s death. It was largely story-centric, free-roaming and often criticized for encouraging players to bask in the mundanities of modern Japanese life.

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A great sit-lie debate

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KPFA's morning show had a great debate this morning around the sit-lie law, featuring Gabriel Haaland, a longtime Haight resident, and Ted Lowenberg, president of the Haight Ashbury Improvement Association. You can listen to it here.Read more »

For Jim: Jim Marshall, 1936-2010

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Legendary Bay-based rock photographer Jim Marshall, who was featured in a Guardian cover story on March 3, 2010, passed away in his sleep Tuesday night in New York at the age of 74. The people who worked with him on the cover story, Johnny Ray Huston and Mirissa Neff, remember him.

Johnny Ray Huston, writer: When someone dies it's impossible not to think of the last time you saw them. With Jim Marshall, I wish that last time had been different. Jim had called me in the morning to see if I wanted to meet him at his favorite dinner spot. That night, I arrived about 15 minutes late, finding him alone at a table in the center of the place with a glass of wine. It was noisy, and I had to shout more than usual for Jim to hear what I said. I showed him some crummy digital shots I'd taken of a few Bay Area musicians I'd daydreamed about him really photographing, but he seemed distracted, quieter than usual. When we said goodbye later on the corner by his apartment, I assumed his mind was on the future. He was about to leave on a trip, first going to Texas for the monster that is South by Southwest, and then to New York, for a gallery show of his photography and the release of Match Prints, his latest book, a collaboration with Timothy White. Read more »

Obama nominates Melinda Haag

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President Obama has nominated veteran attorney Melinda Haag to serve as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, which stretches from the Monterey Coast to California's northern border with Oregon and from the Pacific Ocean nearly to Sacramento, an area that more than 7.3 million people call home. Obama also nominated Jerry E. Martin as U.S Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, and James A. Lewis as U.S. Read more »

Japanese avant-garde, Tropicalismo, and North Korean ideology -- onscreen at SxSW

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Just as Downtown 81 is worth watching for its live DNA footage, the Japanese avant-garde music documentary We don't care about music anyway... is worth a look for the five minutes of two-piece noise rock band Umi No Yeah!. Read more »

Think About Life and dance real hard

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A quality, happy-wild dance band like Think About Life—playing Fri/26 at Bottom of the Hill— is a gem to be treasured, or as the band themselves might say, “a pearl in my heart” or “the golden seashell in my dreams.” No matter how you quantify your sacred jewels, you had better put them deep in your fifth-pocket or that shit’s gonna fly out when the beat starts-- arms and legs automatically doing half-cartwheels on the dance floor. 

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Haushcka that's good for the ear, not skin

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Classical music fans might see the instrumental piano pieces by Germany's Hauschka and the American Dustin O'Halloran -- both performing Thurs/25 at Swedish American Hall -- as simplistic. Most of the notes they play are consonant, even if partly obscured by the objects wedged between the strings and hammers of Hauschka's prepared piano. Read more »

Sit, lie, stand and fight

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A version of the following op-ed by Ben Rosenfeld ran in this week's Guardian, edited for space reasons, and it's generating quite a lively discussion here. He has asked us to post this extended dance mix of his piece, which offers more political context and gets into some of the issues raised in this weeks' cover story, which is also generating heated debate. So here it is:Read more »

Pentamiligrams: Pentagram deliver the wrong dosage of rock

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Between the pre-salers and the at-the-door buyers, Pentagram fans shelled out around $20 each for the DNA Lounge show Wed/24. Though the complications of the band's discography could fill the pages of a sizable book, suffice to say that they are not promoting a new album -- the concert-goers in attendance were universally excited for a healthy portion of Pentagram classics (especially those diehards who saw July 2009's command performance, also at the DNA).

The set that followed was a sham. It started auspiciously with “Forever My Queen” and “Review Your Choices” -- two of the favorites that everyone expected. Then singer Bobby Liebling, 56-year-old butt poured into turquoise skinny jeans, reached for his harmonica.

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Hammers of fortune!

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Big news on the local metal scene: San Francisco prog-shredders Hammers of Misfortune have just signed to Metal Blade Records. Hot off the Metal Blade press-release telegraph:

"Metal Blade Records is pleased to announce the signing of San Francisco's progressive metal outfit HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE. Metal Blade Records will release four of the band's previous releases in late summer 2010 with a new studio album expected in 2011."

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