Despite the supposed onset of winter, it’s another sunny day as I pedal up to the San Francisco Columbarium, a stately domed edifice perched at the end of a discreet cul de sac off Geary and Arguello. Currently operated by the secular Neptune Society, the Columbarium is one of the last remaining repositories for the dead within San Francisco city limits, the majority of San Francisco’s deceased having been relocated to Colma from the turn of the 20th century on. A group of about 30 curiosity seekers have gathered at the gates. We’ve all come for an Obscura Society “field trip,” in this instance a tour of the iconic structure, led by the man who has been credited with almost single-handedly presiding over the Columbarium’s resurrection from decades of neglect, Emmitt Watson.
The Obscura Society is an offshoot of four year-old online encyclopedia of wonder, Atlas Obscura, and other local excursions have included ones to Suisun Bay, the Albany Bulb, the San Francisco Motorcycle Club clubhouse, an abandoned train station in Oakland, the Zymoglyphic Museum of San Mateo, and an after-dark tour of the Woodlawn cemetery in Colma. Like a darker, more relentless version of Nerd Nite with stronger drinks and more historians, its Tuesday night salons at the DNA Lounge are equally expansive, covering a whole gamut of hidden histories on topics such as vigilantes, rum-runners, the Donner Party, rail transportation, and absinthe.
Despite recent financial troubles, which Comic Outpost has managed to bounce back from thanks to big sales and community support, the comic shop hosted the screening party that had been promised way back when the 50th anniversary special had been announced.
This week, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire stands poised to crush all who dare step to it, but there are some alternatives out there. There's the San Francsico Film Society's weekend-long Cinema By the Bay festival (my overview here), as well as the latest from acclaimed director Alexander Payne, the small-scale but still very moving Nebraska (Dennis Harvey's review here.)
Plus: a festival favorite from Belgium, and Vince Vaughn's sperm-bank comedy. Reviews for both (plus guaranteed big kahuna Catching Fire) below.
Fascinated with the possibility of future disasters, Newitz set out to learn all there is to learn about the history of mass extinctions on Earth. From megavolcanoes to meteor strikes, the common thread of disaster on this planet is that something has always survived. An impressive amount of work is being done to make it possible for us to continue this streak of survival, and we all possess some tools of survival already. Read more »
The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook(Clarkson Potter, 352 pp., $50) takes you on a restaurant tour, beginning with Danny Meyer’s initial conception of opening this New York establishment, continuing past the chief steward and his wheelbarrow of fresh spring produce from the Greenmarket, around the harvest table where the floral designer pairs yellow sprays of sunflowers with splayed summer squash, into the kitchen during the staff’s family meal, past the pastry station where Nancy Olson creates her autumn peanut butter semifreddo, and ending at the dining table with a winter dish of guinea hen prepared by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Anthony.
By the time you’ve read through this serious and seriously exquisite cookbook, ogled the colorful photos, and closed the enormous, masculine-elegant back cover, you’ve spent a whole year eating inside the Tavern. Your appreciation for the minute mechanics that run a restaurant will have widened, and your list of must-try recipes? Exploded. (I’ve already checked off the curious “Cauliflower with Quinoa, Prunes, and Peanuts” with happy results). Chef Anthony, making his first trip to San Francisco in December, spoke to me about his vision behind the book.
When we talk about feminist and queer exclusion, we aren’t just dealing with gendered pay gaps and marriage rights. In her new book Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive, Oakland-based author and activist Julia Serano delves into the types of exclusion that she and many others have faced within the very spaces that are supposed to make us feel safe and supported.
Days later Batkid is still warming our hearts, and taking a look at the interwebs shows that Miles Scott, aka Batkid, warmed the hearts of many worldwide. Make-a-Wish turned parts of San Francisco into Gotham City for the day Friday, Nov. 15 and the Guardian was on hand for photos. Below we've also compiled some of our favorite Batkid photos and memes from the weekend. Guardian photos by Amanda Rhoades.
When a friend of a friend held his 33 1/3rd birthday party, he filled the rooms of his apartment with turntables and stacks of LPs for his guests to play themselves. It was basically the best party ever, and a good argument for propagating the tradition of celebrating that particular milestone. And of course what better milestone to celebrate if you’re in the music business, like long-time independent label Alternative Tentacles? Particularly in a business climate unkind to independent anything, to be able to celebrate three-plus decades of sticking it to the establishment at all is some cause for jubilee.
This week, doc lovers are in luck: not only is Chris Marker's seminal 1962 Le Joli Mai making a return to theaters (Sam Stander's take here), but Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney delves into cycling's greatest scandal in The Armstrong Lie (my review here).
The Stillwell Student Exhibition is San Francisco State University's annual showcase of undergraduate and second-year MFA artwork celebrated in the name of Leo D. Stillwell, an amateur artist who died at the young age of 22 in 1947.
But a Google search doesn’t even yield that small bit of information about Stillwell. So who was he, and why has SF State honored him for 26 years?
Mark Johnson, director of the Fine Arts Gallery at SF State, explained that the generosity of Stillwell’s mother, Josephine, created opportunities for student artists all in loving memory of her son.