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TABLEHOPPING Doc Ricketts, Bistro L'Aviateur, Le Marais Bistro and Bakery, and more whip up some juicy new food destinations 

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weekcoverPOT OLYMPICS: Weed-smoking pro athletes blow smoke at lazy pothead streotypes. Plus: Supervisor candidates tackle gun violence in the Bayview, Mezcal becomes a victim of its own popularity, and our Best of the Bay Readers Poll is here. Articles Online | Digital Edition | VOTE FOR BEST OF THE BAY

From the Blogs

The WMD lies, confirmed

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I don't even know where to begin with this story. The U.K. Guardian reports today that the Iraqi defector who convinced the U.S. that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction now says he fabricated that story:Read more »

The Clarence Thomas conflicts

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All I can say about this is that it's pretty flagrant, pretty bad -- and will probably amount to nothing, since the Supreme Court makes its own rules. But just imagine what would have happened if one of the more liberal justices had done something like this. I can hear Glenn Beck right now.

Editorial: Better options for garbage

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One of the biggest, most important municipal contracts in San Francisco is never put out to bid. It's awarded to the same company, automatically, and has been since 1932. Recology Inc. (formerly known as Sunset Scavenger, Envirocal, and Norcal Solid Waste Systems) is the only outfit licensed to pick up trash in the city. It's also the only company that has a monopoly guaranteed in the City Charter.

Its residential rates are set every five years by an agency almost nobody's ever heard of, the Refuse Collection and Disposal Rate Board, which consists of the city administrator, the controller, and the general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Commercial rates are set by Recology alone; there's no appeal or oversight.

San Francisco is the only major city in the United States that contracts out solid waste collection to a private company. And it may be the only city of any size that does it without competitive bidding. Read more »

Leno forces GOP hand

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For whatever tactical reason (or other inexplicable Jerry Brown rationale), the governor has refused to tell Californians what he would cut if he can't get his tax extensions approved. And the Republicans refuse to say what they would cut instead of letting the taxes continue.

So Sen. Mark Leno did it for them. Leno asked the Legislative Analyst to explain what $13 billion in budget cuts -- the "no-new-taxes" budget the GOP wants -- might look like.Read more »

All roads lead to tandoori: Lahore Karahi's Zulfiqar Haider speaks

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I spoke with Zulfiqar “Guddu” Haider, the man behind Lahore Karahi, late one Wednesday evening. The last customers were making their way out the door of his unassuming Tenderloin Pakistani restaurant after a busy night, the kitchen staff had begun to clean up and head home. Haider led me over to one side of his dining room, a wall lined with glowing Yelp and Zagat reviews, and newspaper features with pictures of Haider front and center, dramatically holding out a steaming sautee pan and smiling boldly.

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The Great San Francisco Valentine's Day Pillow Fight 2011

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See video

It is extremely encouraging that A: hundreds of people still show up at Justin Herman Plaza to beat the living crap out of each other on Valentine's Eve (with love!), B: We only resort to semi-violence for our kicks, and C: In the Facebook age, the "flash" in "flash mob" refers only to cameras. (Real spontaneous flash mobs RIP.) Video h/t: kevinsyoza

Hellman and Obama feel your pain

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The Bay Citizen has a detailed report on the backroom discussions taking place around pension reform, and there aren't any real surprises. The cops and firefighters seem to be leading the talks from the public-employee union perspective, although the other unions are there, and Mayor Lee has taken over the gavel from financier Warren Hellman. Sean Elsbernd is involved, but they've kept Jeff Adachi out. (And what the hell is Nathan Ballard doing in this mix?)Read more »

Dad, Millennium. Millennium, Dad

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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 »

Political activists still oppose Chiu's handbill regulation

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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 »

Hounds and haunches: an evening at the pitbull burlesque

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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.  

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"Flex" keeps marine scientists guessing

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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 »

Ficks' picks: Sundance and Slamdance '11

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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.

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SFBG Radio: Howie Klein, part II

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In today's installment, Johnny continues his interview with Howie Klein, founder of 415 records, contemporary of Harvey milk and Bill Graham. Listen after the jump. Read more »

It's a sign: MUNI passsenger angst

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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.

Obama's going to screw California

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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 »