Pixel Vision

Labors of love

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Los Angeles's Teatro Jornalero Sin Fronteras makes common cause with Santa Rosa's the Imaginists

(Note: what follows is an extended version of a story and interview that appears in this week's Guardian.)

A white passenger van pulls to the curb in a largely residential Spanish-speaking neighborhood in Santa Rosa, discharging a group of Latino men and women at the door of a converted warehouse. The visitors vary by age, class, and education. All hail from Mexico or Central America, but more recently Los Angeles, where they're among the cities thousands of jornaleros, or day laborers, making their way job by job, often without secure documentation, or much security of any kind.
Standing beside the warehouse on this quiet street, they could be mistaken for an ad hoc work crew. But the warehouse is a theater, and this sunny afternoon in June is the culmination of a precious week off. Not that these men and women aren't here in Santa Rosa to work — just this time it's on a play.

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'Fruitvale Station' opens! Plus, giant monsters, giant robots, and more new movies!

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This week marks the opening of Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station, a moving look at Oscar Grant's final hours; it's an especially important film for Bay Area residents, but will likely have nationwide impact. Check out my interview with rookie writer-director Ryan Coogler here.

And, as always, there's more. SO MUCH MORE. Emily Savage writes about Peaches Christ's campy, vampy, celeb-filled tribute (Sat/13 at the Castro!) to 1996 cult classic The Craft here.

PLUS! Pacific Rim's giant robot vs. giant monster smackdown, a 3D surfing doc, and all the rest, after the jump.

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Nothing could be more super duper than 'So Super Duper'

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On Saturday evening in the Castro at 7pm, quite possibly one of the gayest things ever will occur, as queer comics artist Brian Andersen debuts his colorful new teen-friendly, straight-friendly, unabashedly queer So Super Duper volume, which stars "a little gay empathic hero (he can read emotions) named Psyche who doesn't quite know he's gay yet – even though it's painfully obvious to everyone around him."

It is so cute. And gloriously upping the pink quotient at the book launch, nationally televised diva Jason Brock will be hitting some high notes (he basically ruled the Bike Music Festival a few weeks back). Comics, superheroes, man-divas: It's a gaysplosion.

I asked the infectiously smiley Brian to talk a little about the So Super Duper's inspiration, and he had some very interesting things to say about being a proud femme-y gay guy in a world of macho stereotypes. 

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I see pugs, I see France...

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Vive Le Pug! isn't your average dog park get-together — it's a French revolution-themed party for pug lovers and their pups, with food, wine, and activities for both four- and two-legged friends. The festivities benefit Central Coast Pug Rescue, which is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming of unwanted, abused, displaced, and neglected pugs, regardless of their age or condition.

The event is on Bastille Day — Sun/14, naturellement — and although the event focuses on raising money for pugs, it's open to all breeds, so bring out your Air Buds and Scooby Doos, too. "We're a very open society," Layne Gray, one of the event coordinators, said. "The event is for pugs, but we're lovers of all dogs."

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Independence/Movement: extended interview with Oakland's SALTA dance collective

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Note: this is an extended version of an article in this week's Guardian.

The crowd outside the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library in Oakland was hopping. Fidgeting, really. Almost imperceptibly at first, while above it a bulging moon hung in the temperate June sky, just itching to go super as it would the following night. But soon enough bodies were bouncing and flailing, until finally the scrum of dancers packed shoulder-to-front-to-back on the sidewalk morphed their collective way through the front door.

We followed the dancers (choreographed by Abby Crain) inside, swept along by their momentum, and were deposited around the perimeter of the main reading room like dust mice by a strong breeze. On that same floor, a few hours later, choreographer Ronja Ver would be sending her supine audience into dreamland with a couple of Finnish lullabies. Before that, a bowl of liquid nitrogen would send a delicate fog creeping over its wooden surface as the spectators (temporarily wrapped in reflective emergency blankets) braced themselves for a performance by Daniel Stadulis that was part science experiment, part detailed meditation on the fragility of the body.

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The Performant: The Real Patriot Act

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Celebrating Freedom of Expression with Tourettes Without Regrets

I’m as susceptible as the next ‘Murican to the social imperative of observing certain time-honored holiday traditions, particularly the ones that involve drinking and blowing shit up, but still I appreciate the opportunity to mix things up in that milieu. Which is why this Fourth of July, heading over to the Oakland Metro for Tourettes Without Regrets was the perfect way to celebrate my inalienable right to get freaky.

Probably the least predictable and therefore most electric variety show in the Bay Area, TWR has been throwing down the gauntlet of weird since 1999, a mad mashup of foul-mouthed comedians and spoken word performers, battle rappers, burlesque beauties, and sheer, unbridled chaos. Can YOU guess what’s in host Jamie DeWolf’s pants? Would you fuck a pie onstage? Compete for the prized “golden dildo”? Participate in a bout of pants-off musical chairs? Be forewarned,
there are no true bystanders at TWR and nobody is innocent.

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In the moment: At City Hall for the Supreme Court's same-sex wedding decisions

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Still beaming from the Supreme Court's DOMA and Prop 8 decisions? If you've come down with the Monday blues, here are some great photos from Amanda Rhoades of that historic moment in City Hall on June 26.

Depp stinks but Death rules: new movies!

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By now you've heard how much The Lone Ranger sucks (for more on that, my review here), so what else should you be spending your weekly movie-theater budget on? Well, the Roxie just opened a doc about Detroit band Death (Dennis Harvey breaks it down here), plus there's a new Pedro Almodóvar joint, a coming-of-age summer flick starring Sam Rockwell and Steve Carell as cool and not-so-cool father figures, and (since one Carell movie ain't enough) Despicable Me 2  — just the thing for the kidz who've already seen Monsters University.

Read on for our takes on these films, and more! Read more »

The Performant: People are Strange

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Ape faces and hocus-pocuses

She was a medical marvel in an age where such marvels were not entirely uncommon. Forced into sideshows or the superficially more genteel lecture circuit, these Victorian-era human wonders were often exploited by their handlers and employers, but in an age where there were already limited possibilities for earning one’s keep, the ability to transform a physical disability into a money-making attribute was at least a more attractive proposition than starving.

For Julia Pastrana, the so-called “Nondescript,” her unusual condition — a form of hypertrichosis which covered her body in thick black hair and deformed her face — touring the world was better than staying in her home state of Sinaloa, Mexico, where she was a marginalized house servant. By all accounts, many of which are recited verbatim onstage in May van Oskan’s The Ape Woman, which played at the EXIT Theatre last weekend, she was an intellectually curious woman who spoke three languages, had a beautiful singing voice and a gracious manner, and even believed in romantic love, even though to outsiders her own marriage had the appearance of an exploitative measure on the part of her husband, Theodore Lent, who also happened to be her “manager”.

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Buddy cops, a one-man army, a boozy doc, and more: new movies!

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This week: two music docs, a buddy-cop movie starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, and America's Sweetmeat Channing Tatum saves the White House and, ergo, the world. Plus, more! Read on for takes from our critics.

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