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THE WEEKNIGHTER Finding magical fulfillment at Magnolia Dogpatch and Smokestack

This Week's Paper

cover imageFall Arts preview: movies, concerts, festivals, theater, dance, nightlife, videogames, gallery shows, and more. Plus: hip-hop tricksters Souls of Mischief return, local police gifted military weapons, witness comes forward in Alex Nieto shooting. Articles Online | Digital Edition

From the Blogs

When radical protest works

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It's easy to get turned off by protests, to say that direct action, sit-ins, arrests are counterprodcutive and don't make any difference. But then you read something like this and you realize that, over time, in-your-face activism can have a very direct impact.Read more »

No more San Brunos!

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For decades, the Guardian has done story after story on PG&E's deteriorating service, terrible maintenance record, continuous stonewalling and coverups, emphasis -- not on safety -- but on jacking up executive salaries and putting tens of millions into fighting community choice aggregation in San Francisco and Marin, and on the granddaddy of monopoly moves (last year's Prop 16). The San Francisco Chronicle, to its immense credit, has come through with a series of stories laying out PG&E's virtually criminal behavior in the San Bruno pipeline explosion.

Now TURN, the consumer watchdog over utilities, is putting forth an excellent way to fight back with a  tough petition and spreading the word. TURN says, "PG&E charged its customers $5 million to fix a gas pipeline under San Bruno in 2009, but delayed the work citing other priorities. The company then spent $5 million on executive bonuses."

Take action to demand PG&E make customer safety its top priority, and pay for the costs of this tragedy with its own profits, not our pockets. Read more »

Warren Hellman: The rich are undertaxed

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I couldn't reach financier Warren Hellman before I wrote my column in this week's paper talking about the employee pension discussions. But he called me yesterday (Feb. 16) after he'd seen it, and I expected he'd give me some shit.

Wrong.

In fact, Hellman had only one problem with my analysis: "Your article is didn't go far enough." Turns out he thinks I was a bit too easy on the billionaires.Read more »

The Performant: Enter the Platypus

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French “Art” and Fringe wins at the EXIT Theatre

Of all the theatre companies in the Bay Area currently operating, the most specifically focused may well be our premiere (or rather only) amateur Francophone company Le Theatre Platypus. Though the Goethe-Institut sometimes hosts touring productions, such as Bridge Marklund’s “Faust in the Box” which will play in the Institut auditorium March 3 and The Mission Cultural Center hosts occasional Spanish-language plays such as Dolores Prida’s “Coser y Cantar” (playing March 17-19), dedicated multi-lingual local troupes are unfortunately scarce. This makes going to see a Platypus play more than just a night out, but a bona-fide cultural immersion experience.

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Lion dancer takes off his mask

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Another year and another ferocious super-natural lion symbolically rips and spits out heads of lettuce along the storefronts of Kearny Avenue. This is the lion dance, a highly visceral and visually unique performance that is a centerpiece in the city's Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year parade, a 150-year old event that draws the participation of over 100 community groups. 

Although each performance is different, one thing stays the same: the lion dancers' faces are never revealed and their identity stays behind the mask. We were lucky enough to speak with one veteran lion dancer about growing up with the parade and his time inside the lion. Read more »

Live Shots: 7th Annual Black Choreographers Festival, ODC Theater, 02/16/2011

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I believe it's almost everyone's dream to be able to fly and for some, it is a reality. I stopped by ODC Theater this week to check out a final rehearsal of a dance piece choreographed by Raissa Simpson and actually got to watch her fly across the stage. OK, she was actually attached to cables, but there was still quite a bit of airborne action going on, and to be honest, it made me a little jealous.

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Mad science

Mophono and Salva are searching for the future beat

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Is the Bay Area's experimental beat scene finally coming together? After a few years of lagging behind the explosion of beat conductor talent in Los Angeles, and suffering a steady exodus of potential down south, the Bay Area's time for creating a forward leaning psychedelia — composed from the bass-infused backbone of instrumental hip-hop — might have arrived.Read more »

Appetite: Lovely visit, with vino

Exploring the farm and winery at Long Meadow Ranch, St. Helena

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Long Meadow Ranch Winery does it all in Wine Country: grass-fed beef, heirloom fruits and vegetables, eggs from their chickens, lush olive oils, and, of course, wines. Seeking to grow everything used in their restaurant and winery, they continue to push boundaries, currently exploring a dairy and cheese-making.

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Adachi and Ballard's pension reform gloves come off

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Yesterday, I talked to Public Defender Jeff Adachi about the latest efforts to address pension reform in San Francisco. Readers may remember that Adachi roused the ire of the labor unions last year, with the ultimately unsuccessful Proposition B. At the time, most folks felt Adachi’s measure didn’t have a snowball’s chance because it asked public employees to bear the brunt of the city’s ballooning retirement and health plan costs. Yet, they all praised Adachi as a great city leader who has been on the right side of many other battles in this city’s rich political history. Read more »

Muni looks for money -- but not downtown

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The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is looking for new ways to bring in money, which is a fine thing. I think taxes for transportation make perfect sense. And while not everything in government gets better when you throw money at it, Muni generally does. Some of the ideas are pretty sound and take a progressive approach; it's hard to argue against a vehicle impact fee, since private cars on the road increase traffic and slow down the buses. Read more »

Eye dance: Eonnagata and the heroics of being seen

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Consider the need to be seen. The dance world is consumed by this challenge. Dancers repeatedly put ourselves in situations where we have optimal visibility via auditions, performances, and even day-to-day classes. Choreographers market themselves to be presented through grants and venues. But is this need, this desire to interest and engage and ultimately compel people to watch us, heroic, or simply pathetic? Suppose for a second not the plight of a common dancer trying to be seen, but of a very high profile dancer or choreographer, who for better or worse is seen, has been seen, and who people clamor to see. Would the work err more toward heroic because it is practically their duty to be seen? Read more »

Rediscovery: Peanut Butter Wolf puts Tony Cook's and Dâm Funk's '80s jams in the spotlight

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In conjunction with this week's Noise Pop cover story on Peanut Butter Wolf (a.k.a. Chris Manak) and Dâm-Funk (a.k.a. Damon Riddick), over the next two days I'll be sharing some quotes from the two, as well as music and video from a couple of recently-issued mid-1980s recordings that the pair love. First up is Tony Cook's Back to Reality, which has just been released, with equally terrific orginal cover art, by Manak's label, Stones Throw. Read more »

Ammiano goes after tax cheats

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Assemblymember Tom Ammiano is moving to close a huge tax loophole that costs state and local government millons -- and while his last attempt failed, this year he has a much better shot. The measure will probably make it out of the Legislature (hard to argue against something that doesn't raise taxes at all but just makes sure nobody cheats) and I can't imagine Jerry Brown deciding to veto it.Read more »

SFBG Radio: Chris Daly on Twitter

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Former Sup. Chris Daly has an opinion piece in today's Guardian on the Twitter controversy; today, Johnny interviews him and gets more details on his argument that giving Twitter a tax break is a bad idea (among other things, he raises the question: what happens if Google buys Twitter and moves most of its operations down the Peninsula anyway?) Listen after the jump.

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Snap Sounds: Prefab Sprout

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PREFAB SPROUT
Let's Change the World With Music
(Tompkins Square)

Strange world we live in, where the likes of Björk and Stephin Merritt have written musicals, but we don't have one by Paddy McAloon, whose songs far outdo contemporary Broadway's best in terms of melody, emotional poignance, and poetic wordplay. It's a tragedy that a composer and vocalist of such unashamed purity has been stricken with Ménière's disease, which effects hearing. But it's a blissful pleasure to hear previously-unreleased music by one of the late-20th century's greatest pop songwriters. Read more »