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From the Blogs

5 Things: February 23, 2011

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Each day, our editors pick five (or so) things that might interest you

>>1. LIBYA LIP Yep, someone in Egypt named their child "Facebook" in apparent appreciation of the epic timesuck/regime toppler. And over in Libya, both Shepard Fairey and Anonymous are paving revolutionary pop cultural inroads. But while we fretted over the delicate humanity of the brave protesters standing up to the threat of Gaddafi's hired mercenaries (and weird facial hair), one guy's sign really summed it all up for us:

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Live Review: Prince at the Oracle Arena

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At this point in his 35-year career, Prince is perhaps justified in expecting us humanoids to happily accept anything handed down to us from Mount Paisley Park. But at the Oracle Arena in Oakland on Mon./21 — the first of three last-minute concerts planned for the Bay (Thursday’s show was announced Monday night, after more than 30,000 tickets were sold for the first two performances in less than 72 hours), the mood was a curious mixture of intense, polished skill tinged with unexpected insecurity: Prince, in full 52-years-young prodigy mode, broke from the action in one instance with a surprising, “Are y’all having fun?” And heated anticipation and adulation gave way to a brief outbreak of boos -- the audience pressed hard to get into the show, and was loathe to give up its ground after the first encore, hollering with displeasure when the house lights came up. Read more »

Snap Sounds: Forest Swords -- and the spirit of Aaliyah

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FOREST SWORDS
Dagger Paths E.P.
(No Pain in Pop/Olde English Spelling Bee)

High on the "Ideas I Wish I Had" list is Forest Swords' cover of Aaliyah's "If Your Girl Only Knew," a different (if equally idiosyncratic) take on R&B than that of fellow Olde English Spelling Bee act Autre Ne Veut. The group's M. Barnes taps into the recessive, almost ghostly shade-throwing of the original — one reason why Aaliyah was a unique pop phenomenon — and slows it down to near-Gothic stasis, while adding another twist to the lyric's romantic intrigue by flipping the gender of the vocalist. The spirit of Aaliyah haunted dubstep and its mutant kin in 2010, thanks to Forest Swords' "If Your Girl," and also James Blake's "CMYK," which sends the vocals of her best-known hit, "Are You That Somebody?," through a series of flying-floating transformations. Check out the originals and covers/updates, as well as some more ruminations about this phenom, after the jump.

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Police Commission braces for another Taser debate

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The San Francisco Police Department, police commissioners, and community advocates are gearing up for another debate about whether or not SFPD officers should carry and use Tasers. The hearing will be held at tomorrow’s Feb. 23 police commission meeting. Read more »

Is Adachi's pension reform a Tea Party initiative?

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With all eyes on Wisconsin, local labor leaders are suggesting that Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s proposed retirement/health plan reforms are really Tea Party initiatives, even as Adachi threatens to place another Measure B-like initiative on the fall ballot if city leaders can't agree on a fix for the city's fiscal problemsRead more »

L.A. confidential: Patrick Warburton on "The Woman Chaser" — and "Dragonard"

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Patrick Warburton occupies his own special niche. He is a big (6 feet, 3 inches), hirsute, square-jawed kinda white guy — the kind who saved screaming ingénues from gorillas or Martians in 1950s B flicks — who's flourished parodying macho blowhards. Who doesn't love Warburton? People who don't know who he is, obviously.

They probably know him regardless, if not by name. First widely noted as Elaine's emotionally deaf boyfriend on Seinfield, in recent years he's starred in successful network sitcoms Rules of Engagement and Less than Perfect. They followed The Tick, a short-lived Fox superhero parody series everyone loved but the viewing public. He's voiced various characters on Family Guy (a man's gotta work), as well as loftier ’toons including The Venture Bros., Kim Possible, and Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, playing Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story spinoffs, as well as endearing villain Kronk in The Emperor's New Groove (2000).

The Emperor's New Groove reunited him with Eartha Kitt, also a costar in his screen debut: 1987's WTF Mandingo (1975) rip-off Dragonard, in which he played a race traitor Scottish hunk on an 18th century Caribbean slaving isle populated by such punishing extroverts as boozy Oliver Reed, chesty Claudia Uddy, and creaky Pink Panther boss Herbert Lom. This campsterpiece features steamy sex intercut with chicken sacrifice, a character called "Manroot," appalling homosexual caricatures, much library music, and other incitements to drinking-game joy. (Start trolling eBay for used VHS copies now.)

These days, Warburton is promoting a past project he'd rather remember: 1999's The Woman Chaser (opening Fri/25 at the Roxie), billed as both his leading-role debut (hello! Dragonard!!) It was definitely the first feature for Robinson Devor (2005's Police Beat, 2007's Zoo), one of the most stubbornly idiosyncratic and independent American directors to emerge in recent years.

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The cushy life of a public-sector worker

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You want to see how easy life is in those lucrative, unionized public-sector jobs that the governor of Wisconsin is going after? Isthmus, the alternative weekly in Madison, has a brilliant piece by a teacher who talks about what this battle is really about. Read it and tell me that this woman is overpaid and gets too many benefits. Go ahead. I can't wait.

Wisconsin, unions, and defunding the left

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Mother Jones mag this month has a GREAT story about the battle in Wisconsin, the history of unions and the Democratic Party, and the real aim of the move to bust public-sector unions. Writer Kevin Drum notes:Read more »

SFBG Radio: People power, from Libya to Wisconsin

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In today's episode, we talk about that remarkable moment when people realize that they aren't alone -- and that tends of thousands or maybe millions of their neighbors are willing to go out in the streets and do something about it. Listen after the jump. Read more »

Dick Meister: Shades of the Thirties

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Dick Meister, formerly labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor, politics and other matters for a half-century.

By now, there's can be no doubting it: What's happening in Wisconsin is one
of the most important labor developments in decades. It's of major
importance to unions and their members, of major importance to working
people generally ­ of major importance to us all.

In  many ways, it's the 1930s again. Just as then, workers and their
political allies and other  supporters are demonstrating, picketing,
marching, striking and otherwise forcefully demanding the basic civil right
of collective bargaining ­ the unfettered right for workers' representatives
to negotiate with employers on setting their wages, hours and working
conditions. Read more »

Mirkarimi running for sheriff

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Sup. Ross Mirkarimi is going to file papers today (Feb 22) to begin his campaign for sheriff.

Mirkarimi told us he wants to continue the progressive legacy of Mike Hennessey and to work to reduce recidivism. "Eventually, almost everyone who's incarcerated comes back to the community," he said, noting that more than 60 percent of people released from the county jail are re-arrested at some point. "We have to work on re-entry programs to lower that number," he said. "It's about keeping communities safe."Read more »

SFBG Radio: The message of Wisconsin

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Today Johnny talks to Johnny Venom from Chicago about the story behind what's happening in Wisconsin. Listen after the jump. Read more »

Owning it: Kyle Abraham in fast and slow motion

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Dance artist and choreographer Kyle Abraham isn’t going on vacation anytime soon and he admits his next day off will be in August. “I try to work really really hard, I never take days off, which I need, but I’d rather get work done,” says Abraham. His work is paying off. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, and now based in New York City, Abraham visits San Francisco this weekend to perform two solos in the Black Choreographers Festival at the ODC Theater. Read more »

“My girlfriend is a hacker”: Inside the EFF party

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On our way to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s 21st Birthday party, my programmer friend explained to me why, if it weren’t for the work of the good folks over at EFF, neither eBay nor WikiLeaks could do their thing. Read more »

Noise Pop Film Festival: the new new age?

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The Family Jams, a documentary by Kevin Barker (the man behind Currituck Co. and and on-again-off-again accompanist of Vetiver), captures the careers of the genre-fucks Devandra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, and Vetiver in their infancy on a 2004 summer tour. (The doc screens Thurs/24 as part of the Noise Pop Film Festival; check out a trailer here.)

Near the film’s beginning, Barker, in a voiceover, shares a memory of seeing large flying cockroaches that lived in his grandmother’s kitchen drawers in Hawaii. In the next scene — whodathunk? — a large cockroach appears during a show in Houston, Texas when his musical family (Banhart, Newsom, and Andy Cabic of Vetiver, among others) plays together at the show’s end. Could this link 'twixt families be made any more obvious?

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