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Three decades into his career, indie stalwart Jim Jarmusch delivers one of his best films yet

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Sundance, part one: crowd-pleasers and dino heists

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Check out Jesse's intro to his Sundance Film Festival series here.

This year, there were few films that stood out as across-the-board crowd pleasers. Gareth Evans' violent, 148-minute The Raid 2: Berandal (UK/Indonesia) — a sequel to his 2011 cult hit — is an absolute must-see, as is the latest from Wet Hot American Summer (2001) director David Wain, They Came Together (US); it's a comedy spoof that pitches Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler into a slew of rom-com tropes and clichés (delivering some huge laughs in the process).

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The future of civic engagement is here (so far it's not pretty)

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Last week, we wrote about San Francisco City Hall's foray into “civic innovation,” to foster greater governmental openness through web-based technology.

We spotlighted the OpenGov Foundation’s partnership with the city to upload the entire municipal code to a website, SanFranciscoCode.org, to make local laws readily accessible for anyone (regardless of city of residency, apparently) to comb through, offer comments, or suggest legislative tweaks.Read more »

San Francisco and its cycletracks lead the way toward safer biking statewide

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San Francisco has been blazing the trail toward safer cycling with innovative designs such as cycletracks, or bike lanes that are physically separated from cars, which have been installed on Market Street and JFK Drive. But cycletracks aren’t legal under state law, something that a San Francisco lawmaker and activist are trying to solve so that other California cities can more easily build them.Read more »

Tee time: a peek inside Urban Putt, the Mission's indoor mini-golf course

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On the back wall of the main room of the old Victorian building at 1096 S. Van Ness is a sculpture of two creepy angels. One holds the other in its arms, their wings keeping them up. These angels are part of the original construction of the building, back when it functioned as a mortuary. Perhaps due to the haunting angels, perhaps due to the thought of a dead body storage center, the building has sat empty on the corner of South Van Ness and 22nd Streets for 15 years.

Today, the angels are still there and the building’s new owner has no intention of taking them down. “We will preserve as much as we can from this old look,” says Steve Fox, the man behind San Francisco’s first indoor mini-golf course, Urban Putt, set to open in April. The “high-concept” course will feature a restaurant with “eclectic California comfort cuisine” upstairs and two bars with a “creative bar program,” according to Urban Putt’s most recent press release. 

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An ally and a union brother: Pete Seeger's legacy in the labor movement

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Pete Seeger's sweet voice was, among other things, a clear, articulate, consistently outspoken one for workers' rights. In honor of Seeger's legacy of activism, we reached out to longtime community activist and LaborFest co-founder Steve Zeltzer to hear about what he meant to the labor movement in the Bay Area and beyond. Read more »

Promo: Eric Roberson plus Algebra Blessett at Yoshi’s San Francisco

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Eric Roberson – Erro, as he is affectionately known by fans and friends alike – has achieved major milestones in his career, from being a successful songwriter and producer for notable artists like Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Dwele, Vivian Green and countless others, to releasing eight albums under his Blue Erro Soul imprint. Read more »

I Was a Teenage Sundancer

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I grew up at the Sundance Film Festival — beginning in 1990, when my father took my 14-year-old self to an archival screening of Melvin Van Peebles' X-rated Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971), and my best friend Grayson Jenson's parents introduced us to Richard Lester's A Hard Day's Night (1963). 

These two films have polar-opposite subject matter, but they do share some odd similarities; they both make aggressive statements about counterculture, and both are cut together with hyperkinetic, French New Wave-esque editing. But back then, all I knew was that my life was maniacally changed ... forever. 

This transformative experience was enhanced by accidentally sitting next to only movie critic I had ever heard of: Mr. Roger Ebert. As it happens, a documentary about the late writer's career, Steve James' Life Itself, was one of the 2014 festival's biggest hits. Friendly and engaging, Ebert explained to me (at 14) that he personally enjoyed watching the Beatles' "best film" on 16mm as opposed to 35mm. The conversation we shared ("What are your favorite films?" Me: "Hellraiser II, Aliens, Evil Dead 2, and Phantasm II") left a long and deep impression on me.

That was my first memorable Sundance moment. But this year's Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals — celebrating their 30th and 20th anniversaries, respectively — were (on the occasion of my own 24th Sundance anniversary) maybe the best I've ever experienced, overall.

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'The Bachelor' (episode 4, what better time to start?) recap: APOLOGY PLZ

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Forgive the late (mid-season) arrival, some copy got lost in translation. And if you buy that, Juan Pablo's public image has a shot.

So last week, amid all the real news (Chris Christie things, GOP things, Obama-NSA things, Sochi things) and amid all the Bieber news (eggs, DUI's, Jeremy Bieber's existence, shiny shorts, smiling mugshots) there was a bad piece of Bachelor news. 

Juan Pablo, the current Bachelor, decided to share his feelings on a matter he was totally unqualified to address, he did so in a socially tone-deaf manner and is now dealing with that fallout. 

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Pure poetry

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"I didn't know I was a Chicano until I met Jose." -- actor and activist Edward James Olmos at the Jose Montoya Memorial Celebration at Sacramento's Crest Theater, Jan. 23, 2014. Photo by Fernando Andrés Torres.

Read Fernando Andrés Torres' story on NorCal's poesia en espanol revival in this week's paper.

Controversy still brewing over CCSF administrative pay raises

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A string of recent emails have led City College of San Francisco faculty members to believe that college administrators are already being paid according to the higher salary ranges that were proposed and then hastily withdrawn from an action agenda last week. Read more »

Labor protests Postal Service privatization amid deal with Staples

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Bearing blue T-shirts and banners stating “Stop Staples! The U.S. mail is not for sale!” 70-plus protesters from the United States Postal Service Union, along with members of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Union of Healthcare Workers, today [Tues/28] rallied outside the Staples store on Van Ness Avenue in opposition to USPS’s “Retail Partner Expansion Program” that began in November. Read more »

Public weighs in on dueling museum proposals at Presidio Trust hearing

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The fate of development Crissy Field is still up in the air after a townhall meeting last night [Mon/27] at the Presidio, where nearly 150 community leaders and residents spoke out on three rival museum proposals, in addition to a large group that supports no proposal at all.

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Locals Only: The American Professionals

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Locals Only is our shout-out to the musicians who call the Bay Area home — a chance to spotlight an artist/band/music-maker with an upcoming show, album release, or general good news to share.To be considered, email esilvers@sfbg.com.

With all the CDs that come across my desk, the American Professionals' latest, We Make It Our Business, caught my attention for a rather weird reason — it looked incredibly boring. At first glance, it seemed like a software or PR company had accidentally sent me some sort of business portfolio in disc form. Upon further review (i.e., actually reading the accompanying materials and listening to the music...this is why they pay me the big bucks) I realized it was anything but. Read more »

Live Shots: !!! lead a sweaty Saturday at the Chapel

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"San Francisco, San Francisco, San Francisco," chants !!!'s Nic Offer as he struts onto the Chapel's glowing red stage, facing a screaming sold-out crowd.  The practicality of Offer’s typical performance outfit — tonight he is wearing beat-up, bone-white monk strap loafers, short white shorts emblazoned with the Rolling Stones’ Some Girls cover art, and a black crewneck tee — quickly becomes apparent as he races back and forth across the stage, light brown curls flying, wrapping the mic cord around his neck.  Before the first song is over he leaps on the center monitor, thrusts his pelvis forward, and generously pulls his very short pant leg open so a fan can get his money shot.  Now that’s showmanship. 

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Google bus breakdown: a metaphor for our times?

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From Mikey B, owner of Vinyl Dreams in the Lower Haight, comes this epic pic of a sleek shuttle being towed through the rough-and-tumble streets.