San Francisco is composed of many worlds: in one, men and women wear suits and whiz up high-speed elevators to the top of the Transamerica building (until recently, I held to the belief that the uppermost floor is built entirely from Lindor truffles and boasts a wine fountain). In a cross-town galaxy, "Transamerica" might be a documentary on one's downstairs neighbor.
But the great thing about the city is that its various worlds frequently overlap – in laundromats, at last call, and in the occasional rare dining experience that leaves everyone happy and full, even in the wallet. Case in point: Millennium, an artful mash-up of hippie and high class. Read more »
Progressive political activists and First Amendment advocates continue to have concerns about how Sup. David Chiu's legislation to regulate handbill distribution will affect low-budget political campaigns, despite Chiu's efforts to address the criticism.
Two weeks ago, he delayed deliberation on the measure, saying it wasn't his intention to curtail political speech. The measure returns to the Board of Supervisors tomorrow (Tues/15), but the activists are asking that it be sent back to committee for more work.Read more »
I've been to some militant burlesque shows, but Saturday night's was probably one of the most radical. Lucky 13 was packed from the bar to the retro popcorn popper, temperatures were rising as high as the wooden balconies above us and onstage a diminutive man and his hound refused to be parted in the eyes of the law. “No more breed-specific legislation!” the speaker thundered. It was the burlesque community's benefit for Pinups for Pitbulls and Chako, splendidly named the Valentine's Day Pitty Party, and tonight it was all about the pitbulls. And naked women. But mostly pitbulls.
I received a call last Friday from Nicole Catalano of Pacific Environment, an environmental nonprofit focusing on marine conservation. An endangered gray whale was headed for California, she told me, and I could follow its movements online. "We expect it to be in California either now, or any day now," Catalano said.
"Flex," as researchers have named him, is one of an estimated 120 western Pacific gray whales. The highly endangered species has fared much worse than the related eastern gray whale, which has an estimated population of around 20,000. Read more »
1. Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols, US) The creepiest film at this year's Sundance follows Curtis, a hard working father and husband who is either truly having premonitions that a terrifying storm is a-comin', or is slowly slipping into a mental breakdown. Michael Shannon's performance is not only played to an absolute perfection, but the director's script truly takes the time to let these characters earn their merit badges. And similar to previous festival experiences like Donnie Darko (2001) and Downloading Nancy (2008), the eerie tone and consistent pacing will either send you for the exit door (quite a few impatient audience members stormed out) or it will clamp around you, not letting go until the jaw-droppingly unexpected finale. The metaphor-filled Take Shelter is a genuine treasure that lingers for days after — here's hoping it gets a higher-profile post-festival life than the previous Nichols-Shannon collaboration, the impressive Shotgun Stories (2007).
2. The Off Hours (Megan Griffiths, US) Originally chosen to compete in the Dramatic Competition, this haunting ensemble piece was unexpectedly bumped into the NEXT category, which showcases innovative low-budget features.
It's raining for the first time in weeks, and you know what that means. Somewhere in San Francisco, someone is standing on an outdoor MUNI platform and wondering why those stylish, clear sloping roofs fail so miserably when it comes to keeping the rain out. And while MUNI drivers should not take the blame for this and other transit-system flaws, we cannot help but feel the pain of the passenger who vented their frustration by leaving this bombastic complaint at the T-Third 20th Street station.
The giant cuts proposed by the Obama Administration (and worse ones suggested by the GOP) will hurt the economic recovery, hurt the poor, hurt the nation's future -- and hurt California. Let's remember, as Brian Leubitz notes at Calitics, we live in a net donor state -- for every dollar Californians send to Washington, the state gets 80 cents Read more »
The revolution in Egypt was about a demand for democracy and resistance to repression -- but it was also spurred in part by legions of angry young people who have no economic opportunity. And since the dramatic inequalities in Egypt were a factor in a stunning popular uprising, it's worth noting an interesting fact:Read more »
Dick Meister, formerly labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor, politics and other matters for a half-century.
Let's pause for a moment to recognize some of our most important, yet most maligned workers. They are teachers and librarians. Police officers and firefighters. Bus drivers, doctors and nurses. Judges, lawyers, gardeners. They're laborers and other maintenance and construction workers, and many others who provide us vital services.
They are public employees. There are millions of them, who every day do the essential work that keeps our country going. Read more »
We San Franciscans are lucky to have a place like the Boothby Center for the Beverage Arts. Debuting last year at SF Cocktail Week as home base for the Barbary Coast Conservancy of the American Cocktail, this year sees the launch of Boothby classes, tastings and events on all things drink. Read more »
Thomas John’s “The Lady on the Wall,” and the Slave Robots of Carl Pisaturo
A few years ago, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I saw Dov Weinstein’s imitable Tiny Ninja Theatre enact “Macbeth” on a dollhouse-sized stage, which one viewed through cheap plastic binoculars from a distance of about ten feet. It will always remain one of my favorite versions of that particular play. Weinstein’s ability to perform as a literal cast of hundreds and run his own tech without fumbling his lines nor cues put many much larger (and taller!) companies to shame, and though the intention was quite obviously to amuse, Weinstein and his tiny plastic ninja cast still managed to convey the nuances of a more serious artistry. Thomas John’s puppet noir “The Lady on the Wall,” which played at the Garage last weekend, displayed the same perfect balance of dorky and deliberate, featuring an unlikely cast of, not ninjas, but eggs.
Do you ever watch a performer and find that they exude so much positivity and joy that you find your mouth stuck in a perpetual grin? And then you realize they're singing the blues, rambling away about whiskey woes and dead beat good-for-nothing dudes, and you're like “Why am I smiling?” This is what happened to me on Friday night for the Claudette King concert at Biscuit and Blues.
Today we continue Johnny's interview with local music legends -- he talks to Howie Klein, the co-founder of 415 Records, about his start in the music industry, Harvey Milk, Bill Graham, and more. We're keeping these things short, so this is part one; we'll post part two to the interview Feb. 14. Listen after the jump. Read more »
Hailing from San Luis Obispo, Calif. by way of Oakland, Grand Lake has become an art rock darling among the hip, not only because of its applauded 2010 LP Blood Sea Dream (Hippies Are Dead), but also for its cover of the theme song from The Adventures of Pete and Pete, originally done by Polaris. In March, the group is releasing an EP on Hippies Are Dead. In the interim, you can listen to the its take on Radiohead’s “The Tourist,” below. It was recorded in an art gallery in San Luis Obispo, and all of the reverb on the track comes from the room itself -- nothing is digital. Grand Lake is set to rock out with Yuck and with Smith Westerns on Sun./13 at Bottom of The Hill. In advance of the show, I caught up with Grand Lake bandleader (and Port O’Brien alum) Caleb Nichols by email. Read more »