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How a high-minded countercultural experiment ended up on everyone's bucket list

This Week's Paper

weekcoverGrover Norquist brings the Black Rock blues as Burning Man Jumps the Shark! Pro-Palestine protesters block the boat, fed-up teachers take strike vote, and crack cocaine sentences may soon get smoked. Plus: Myron & E lay down street soul at Noise Pop, Nick Monaco belts out his Mating Call, and Aubrey Plaza slays in Life After Beth. Articles Online | Digital Edition

From the Blogs

Wiener proposes economic study on nightlife


While the basic ideological makeup of the new Board of Supervisors didn't change much, there are a few notable differences between the newbies and their predecessors. Much has been made of Sup. Jane Kim's greater willingness than Chris Daly to vote against her progressive colleagues (we have a story in tomorrow's paper about that), but another significant one is Sup. Scott Wiener's support for nightlife and concerns about what we've called the Death of Fun.Read more »

"I guess I just want other people to solve the Rubik's cube"


This much was clear. A conference room full of middle and high schoolers had been assembled and were now working out math problems. On a Sunday. To someone who wept through stats homework, it seemed like a game of Clue, who done this? At the lectern, a man shared formulas one might find useful in attempting a rapid solution of the Rubik's cube. A series of x's and y's to the nth power flashed before the hushed underage audience.

Were these kids really into what was going on, or was this some well-orchestrated parent plot to shut down a perfectly good weekend? It was Mom in the living room with the bribes and threats about not getting into college! But board game detective I was not. This became apparent when the young man in a hoody sitting on my left picked up a cube offhandedly. Without fanfare, his hands began to blur. He lined up the colors in well under a minute and set the cube back down. Welcome to last weekend's Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival, where math, it appeared, was not just a problem to be solved.

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5 things you didn't know about cable cars


Get it out of the way now: roll those eyes. The cable cars are something no native San Franciscan would ever bring up in polite (that is, local) company, let alone write about in a blog post. But fact is, there's a reason why these things are iconic. Those cars have as speckled and quirky a history as the City by the Bay. 

San Franciscans steeped in facts and figures about the tourist-movers probably know that ours is the last operating cable car system in the world and that its design hasn’t changed much since Andrew Hallidie devised it upon seeing an overloaded horse-car slip down a hill in the rain. Perhaps you’ve heard that the four remaining lines each rely on a continuous loop of cable running under your feet at a constant 9.5 miles per hour, powered by electrical motors and a system of pulleys and huge wheels. If you’ve ever visited the Cable Car Museum (c’mon folks, it’s free) you’ve seen the sheaves pulling the cable along, and you’ve learned that the cars operate by grabbing the cable with giant pliers that reach through the floor and into a slot in the street where the cable runs. 

Bored yet? Stifle that yawn, we're just getting started. Read on for five things you haven’t heard about those postcard pretties. Read more »

Brown goes nonpartisan while Obama stays the course


Gov. Jerry Brown gave a brilliant State of the State speech this evening, validating those who hoped that he would have the wisdom, courage, and candor to properly frame this difficult political moment. And it was great because he abandoned tired calls for bipartisanship and opted to go straight to the people, even citing Egypt and Tunisia as cautionary examples of the peril and potential of real democracy. Read more »

Medi-Cal and cell phones: The ugly truth


There's a chilling comment from political consultant Dan Schnur in the Los Angeles Times. In a fascinating story by Tony York, Schnur talks about the difference between image and reality in California's budget wars:

"Cut $1 billion out of Medi-Cal and most voters won't notice. Take away some cellphones and make legislators sit on a picnic bench, and they pay attention," he said.Read more »

SFBG Radio: From Cairo to here


In today's episode, Johnny points out that the protests in Egypt have been driven by young people -- and that youth unemployment in the United States is at alarmingly high levels. So why aren't young people out in the streets here? Check out the discussion after the jump. Read more »

Free Muni for kids


Sup. David Campos is talking about offering free Muni rides for some of San Francisco's youth, and he'd like free passes for all school kids next year. That's a great way for the city to work with SFUSD; the school district spends a huge amount of money on buses. In fact, transportation is the second biggest item in the district's budget (after salaries). There ought to be a way for kids (above a certain age; maybe fifth grade) who now take SFUSD buses to get on Muni instead.Read more »

Aerial revolution


Consider the rise of the extreme athlete: generations of youngsters (and increasingly, brave older folks) competing to see who could pull the sweetest stunts and survive. Ever wonder how is it that a person can make the transition from earthbound and bipedal to gravity-be-damned dare-devilry? When exactly is the moment that a skater, skier, or snowboarder just lets go and trusts their body to take them up, over, around, and (hopefully) gracefully down to the ground?

Last Tuesday, I attended a press event at House of Air – the newest member of Crissy Field’s collection of renovated airplane hangars in San Francisco’s historic Presidio – where I was treated to a glimpse of how such a transformation might become reality. Not to mention a new way that a public sports facility can play with its community. Read more »

Street Threads: Look of the Day


Today's Look: Nicole, Hill and Valencia

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Danny Glover, DCCC stand up for HANC


The Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) Recycling Center has gained some powerful allies in its ongoing fight against eviction.

A YouTube video posted over the weekend shows actor Danny Glover, a resident of the Haight, sitting in his car at the recycling center. If it were shut down, "I would be dismayed," Glover tells a staff member. He also says, "It would be a tragedy. It would be a great loss to this city." (Scroll down to watch.) Read more »

Protest in solidarity with Egypt and Tunisia uprising


As President Barack Obama insists that governments must maintain power "through consent and not coercion" organizers have announced a protest this Saturday, January 29, in San Francisco, in solidarity with people in Egypt, Tunisia, and other countries struggling against 30 years of dictatorship, poverty, unemployment and torture--and are condemning what they call Obama's "refusal to condemn the Mubarak regime."Read more »

Activists and former prisoner call for Obama to close Guantánamo


The second anniversary of President Obama’s promise to close the Guantánamo Bay detention center was recognized this week at an event about torture and human rights abuse that continue to take place there.

“There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight…as far as we can tell the [Obama] administration has no intention to close it at this point.,” Rini Chakraborty, Western Regional Director of Amnesty International USA, said at a panel discussion about Guantánamo Bay human rights abuses Wednesday at UC Berkeley.Read more »

GOP is wrong: Most Californians want taxes


The Public Policy Institute of California generally has some of the most reliable polls in the state. It's not a partisan group or part of anyone's campaign, and the questions tend to be framed in a fair manner. So I take the results of the PPIC polls as a decent indicator of where the state is going.Read more »

Can they shut off the Internet?


Proverbs for paranoids: If they can catch you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.

-- T. Pynchon

Indulge me here while I get a little paranoid and venture into a realm where it's easy to get dismissed as a nutcase. And I'll say this upfront: I really don't know how much I ought to worry about this.Read more »

More John Ross poems


Thanks to some of the many John Ross fans out there, I've begun to collect a treasure trove of his poetry, much of it either unpublished or published in limited-circulation chapbooks. Even John didn't have all of his work when he died, and there's no central collection. So I'm going to post a couple more of my favorites here -- and at somepoint, we have to figure out a way to publish the whole collection. Read more »