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TABLEHOPPING A burst of openings signal the start of a warm, bright season. 

This Week's Paper

this weekSEX ISSUE: Ready or not, here comes virtual reality porn. Plus: The best blowjob beats, Polly Superstar's new kinky memoir, and Cameron Carpenter shows off his organ (the kind with pipes).  Articles Online | Digital Edition | VOTE FOR BEST OF THE BAY

From the Blogs

Work the throne: Interviews with the San Francisco Empress 2011 candidates

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Update: Saybeline has been crowned the new Empress. Congratulations to both the outstanding candidates, and warm wishes for the future.

In this week's Super Ego column in the paper, I give a grateful nod to our esteemed - if little acknowledged -- Imperial Court system, an incredible, drag-based 45-year-old institution that raises tens of thousands of dollars for charitable Bay Area causes. (Really, do yourself a historical favor and check out the recently revamped Imperial website.) Below are my full interviews with the candidates, Saybeline and Monistat.

The annual elections for Empress of San Francisco are coming fast upon us (Sat/19, free. Noon–7 p.m. at Castro Muni Station, Castro and Market, and 11 a.m.–6 p.m. at Project Open Hand, 730 Polk, SF.) The winner will devote the next year of her life to raising funds and repping SF -- after she graciously endures a daylong coronation ceremony on Sat/26, one of the city's true mind-blowing spectacles. (The winner will be announced at Coronation.)

I emailed a series of questions to both candidates in order to get a better sense of who they are and why we should vote for them. They each bring a different, welcome perspective to the competition that ultimately helps refresh this cherished local tradition.

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Rock you like a hurricane: Brontez and Brilliant Colors at BAM

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Brontez brought new energy to the "L@te: Friday Nights at BAM/PFA" series on Fri/11. The evening began with DJing by Myles Cooper, then an all-too-brief ear-scouring set by Brilliant Colors that left the audience asking for an encore. Read more »

alt.sex.column: Fine bi me

"Is it OK to tell people, or should I just shut up?"

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Dear Andrea:

I'm a woman who likes women and men. I'm been in a serious relationship with a man several years. Having recently moved back to my home town, I'm wondering about something. My close friends know about my orientation (I don't like the word 'bisexual' because of all its connotations and my general reluctance to label myself) but now I'm meeting new people, colleagues, etc., and I feel weird about not addressing this important part of my life. Is it OK to tell people, or should I just shut up?Read more »

Green Bay Packers' Desmond Bishop drops in on Lee

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So, there I was sitting in the Mayor’s Office with fellow Guardian reporter Rebecca Bowe waiting to see Mayor Ed Lee when in walks Green Bay Packers linebacker and D10 native Desmond Lamont Bishop, who helped win the Super Bowl XLV, this month.

Turns out Bishop was there to see Lee, shortly before D10 Sup. Malia Cohen honored Bishop during the Board’s Black History month commendations’ ceremony. Read more »

Mayor Ed Lee willing to disclose work calendar

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Among the many issues that rankled progressives under Mayor Gavin Newsom's administration was Newsom's unwillingness to turn over his work calendar to members of the public who formally requested it. Read more »

Live Shots: Belly Dance Show and Kardash, Red Poppy Art House, 2/10/11

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I'm all for intimate venues and performances -- and the shows at the tiny Red Poppy Art House literally happen in your lap -- but it's kinda scary when the performers are wielding huge swords and you wonder if you'll go home missing the tip of your nose.

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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 »