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The threat to San Francisco bookstores goes beyond Amazon and ebooks to rising rents and demand for commercial space

This Week's Paper

coverWide Angle Lens: During turmultuous conflict, the SF Jewish Film Fesitval shows multiple perspectives. Plus: Central American child refugees flood SF, GRMLN, head of Sunday Streets steps down and more. Articles Online | Digital Edition

From the Blogs

Making the protests count


It was wonderful to see so many people all over the state taking to the streets to protest cuts in education and public services. The rally at San Francisco’s Civic Center wasn’t just young radical agitators, either -- most of the people there were parents with kids, families, people who are just fed up with the threats to the future of this state and don’t want to take it any more.Read more »

MUNI driver: luck, not system, saved my family


MUNI bus driver Charles Washington says it was luck that won his family a reprieve from a federal deportation order. His Australian bride Tracey, who he married in Reno last April, and her 13-year-old son were served deportation orders after the boy got into a schoolyard fight and a police officer wrote him up with three felony charges. Under the city's current policy, felony charges against undocumented youth triggers an immediate referral to ICE before the youth can prove their innocence.Read more »

Young people protest school cuts


By Brady Welch

The scene was relatively quiet around 1:45 p.m. on March 4—just another sunny afternoon in the Mission District. Fifteen minutes later, things got much louder. Hundreds of Mission High students, accompanied by faculty and staff, poured out upon Dolores Street near the intersection of 18th, banging drums, blowing whistles, chanting, and holding handmade signs reading “Stop Crippling Public Education,” and “DREAM: Act Now.” Cars halted at the intersection honked in support, and the marching students, invariably stoked to have left school almost an hour early, grew louder in response. Read more »

Elmwood emerges


By Robyn Johnson

After months of restoration, the corner space that used to be Ozzie’s Soda Fountain has finally opened this week to reveal an upscale French-style cafe. While many may lament the closure of Berkeley’s last soda shop in favor of a yet-another coffee joint, Elmwood Cafe does offer something quite unique. According to the little paper pamphlets available on the counter, the shop will donate half of its profits to charities. I’m really excited (and curious) how this business model will work out in the long run.

I was also charmed by the bright, cheery interior—the owner decided to keep as much of the original 1920s architectural details as possible, right down to the red stools that line the counter—and, of course, the food. With quite a few Cafe Fanny veterans at the helm, the conscientious menu reflects that establishment’s renown for the healthful, hearty, and organic. So be prepared for dishes like porridge, paninis, soups, salads, and stews. Read more »

SF State students march


Story and photos by Nima Maghame

San Francisco State University added pageantry to the Day of Action protest, one of the many schools from around the Bay Area from Kindergarten to Ph.D that united on the steps of San Francisco City Hall yesterday.

Students, faculty and staff painted their faces, wore colorful t-shirts and paraded 10-feet high puppets depicting a skull-faced grad, a crying queen and a fossilized dinosaur; each representing greedy politics and the killing of education.Read more »

Safe at last?


Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for a half-century. Contact him through his website,, which includes more than 250 of his recent columns.

It’s called musculoskeletal disorder or MSD, the most common of the serious injuries suffered by U.S. workers. But because corporate employers fear that greater public awareness would force them to spend more on job safety, MSD has remained one of the least understood of injuries.

The latest government figures show that more than 60 percent of the million or more on-the-job injuries reported annually are MSD-related. Some of the victims are permanently disabled, and many more have to take time off from work while their injuries heal. Read more »

Live Shots: El Perro Del Mar and Taken By Trees, Café du Nord, 3/2/10


Back in the early '90s, when MTV played video after video and I was still a kid, I remember seeing tall, hot chicks like Sarah Assbring, the sole member of El Perro Del Mar, flash across the screen, dancing to Axl Rose and Aerosmith. Taking the stage, Assbring immediately struck me as a rock video model, her bright blonde hair chopped off with a stiff asymmetrical edge, lips dark with black-red lipstick, and lids full of smoky shadow. I was immediately envious of her black silky jumper, stitched with an oversupply of fabric under the sleeves that made for the perfect raven wings whenever she lifted her arms.

The sounds of El Perro Del Mar are always sweet and shy, much like the musician herself. She said very little and smiled even less, and yet had me wrapped around her every breath. When she sang, her eyes focused intently on an unknown object in the back of the room, with her eyebrows at a constant downward angle. Often she would raise her hands into the air or send them straight out in front of the mic, nearly reaching the fans in front. She was intense. Read more »

Stiglitz: The Dangers of Deficit Reduction


By Joseph E. Stiglitz

Here is our monthly installment of Joseph E. Stiglitz's Unconventional Economic Wisdom column from the Project Syndicate news series. Stiglitz is University Professor at Columbia University and the winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in economics. His forthcoming book Freefall will be published this winter. Read more »

Protests demand more money for education


Images from yesterday's protests by Charles Russo

Yesterday’s Day of Action to protest deep cuts in public education and other vital services was far larger – and occasionally more militant – than many had expected, sending a strong message to Sacramento that it’s time to pursue new revenue options instead of simply cutting the public sector to the bone.Read more »

Tying one on with Dave Attell


Dave Attell had my dream job. In the Comedy Central series, Insomniac, from 2001-2004, Attell took the typical travel show concept and gave it a degenerate edge, showcasing the people and places that come alive in towns across the country after midnight. The show was a smash hit in its own right... but I think he's tired of talking about it now. So more importantly, he's a super sharp stand up comedian with a rather dead pan manner and a knack for making hecklers feel like fools. He rocks the USO circuit on the regular, but he's doing a civilian show on a stage near you shortly (Fri/12 & Sat/13, Cobb's Comedy Club). He asked me to let y'all know that he'll be performing new materials- so all the real comedy fans, come out and play.

San Francisco Bay Guardian: So we’re all really stoked you’re coming to San Francisco…

Dave Attell: I love SF. That’s where I started headlining. That’s probably where I’m going to end headlining, too. I have nothing but good thoughts about SF- even though now that it’s all fancy and PC it’s not as fun anymore, everyone knows that.

SFBG: How long have you been doing standup?

DA: Twenty years.

SFBG: Oh yeah, some change has gone down then. The thing I keep reading about you is that you’re a comedian’s comedian. What does that even mean?

DA: It means you can’t act. I can’t. I’m a horrible actor. I like jokes, I like writing jokes. But yeah, I don’t really know what that means. It’s a compliment, I hope.

SFBG: Has your comedy matured/grown over time? New themes?

DA: That’s a great question and the answer is no. Being in your mid forties and still talking about drinking and porn, I’d say the answer is no. I’m a good comic, not a great comic.

Read more »

"Cruising" -- Hunx and His Punx

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It's hard to keep up with Justin Kelly's video endeavors -- he's got new clips for Harlem ("Gay Human Bones"), Alexis Penney (the sublime "Lonely Sea"), and a few from Hunx on the way. Read more »

Uproot: Little City Gardens gots to get paid


By Robyn Johnson

In a manifesto of sorts released by Civil Eats, Brooke Budner of Little City Gardens, co-owned by Caitlyn Galloway, lays out the farm’s intention to create San Francisco’s first for-profit urban micro-farm in that generates a viable income for farmers, thus paving the way for more potential urban farmers follow suit:
"Our approach to growing the urban agriculture movement is based upon the premise that urban food production will not reach its full potential unless there are avenues in the local market economy for growers to make a living through the sales of their produce. Currently, San Francisco’s urban agriculture is largely anchored in the realms of education and non-profit work. While a substantial amount of food can be grown […] the quantity pales in comparison to what could be grown if farmers could earn a living wage through the cultivation and sales of food in the city." Read more »

Trash Lit: Grafton's craft in 'U is for Undertow'


U is for Undertow
Sue Grafton
Putnam. 403 pages, $27.95

I love the Sue Grafton books. I bought A is for Alibi in 1983, when it came out, and I’ve read every one of them since. Unlike, say, Patricia Cornwell, whose characters age (and get crabbier) as time passes, Kinsey Milhone is eternal, always young, always living in a town called Santa Teresa that’s a lot like Santa Barbara, always living with her old (but never dying) landlord, Henry, always eating at the foul Hungarian restaurant down the street. Read more »

Noise Pop 2010: Loquat at BOTH; Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at Bimbo's


Loquat at Bottom of the Hill

The San Francisco band started their set with a request for more blue lighting at the Bottom of the Hill Friday Feb. 27, half-joking and half-hoping to make things look “cooler” and more “ocean-like.” Loquat has been playing their brand of electro-pop in the Bay Area for almost a decade and therefore I was expecting some really sweet synth action as a precursor to headlining band, Memory Tapes. Instead, racing guitars and strong bass muddled all of my most favorite parts of Loquat’s soun: the subtle waving melodies and vocalist Kylee Swenson’s floating lyrics. Their newfound heavier sound translated into a rock version of L.A.'s Bitter:Sweet, with tons of energy that twinkled over the crowd like the venue’s vintage Christmas lights. Read more »

Police Commission shoots down Tasers


The San Francisco Police Commission came to its senses last night, and -- after an immense amount of work by community activists and Commissioner Petra DeJesus -- voted 4-3 not to move forward with a plan for giving the cops Tasers.

A lot of the discussion revolved around the safety of the stun guns; zapping someone with 50,000 volts can cause injury and sometimes death. But there’s another issue here, and the pres coverage only touched on it.Read more »