Arts + Culture

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Cheat Sheet

Chocolates galore at Fog City News. Photo via Yelp.

Help! You’ve got a party to attend but you’ve been too busy arguing with Twitter trolls/finishing up endless hours of work so you can go to parties you’re totally unprepared for/updating your holiday look to have planned out any presents. Now it’s too late for online, and you actually have to shop, physically, locally. Never fear, I’m in the same boat, and luckily I’ve spent years writing these guide. Below are my favorite spots to fill up your sack of goodies and/or bedeck the Hanukkah bush. 

First, you’ll want to pay a quick visit to our Best of the Bay Shopping category winners: for one-stops, I’d recommend Best Store Staff winner Nancy Boy for cool home goods; Best Gift Shop (duh) Heartfelt, for cute novelties and stocking stuffers; and Best Chocolate Shop Chocolate Covered, where everything you can think if is, in fact, covered in chocolate. but every winner has something to offer. Or pop by these perennial favorites: 

GREEN APPLE BOOKS AND MUSIC I could live here all year round, but the holidays are especially glow-y, with the biggest selection of new and used books in town, records galore,  cards, cute things, and especially awesome children’ books and tons of calendars for those “hard to buy for” people. Oh, and a gift certificate covers everyone, too. Plus late hours! 506 Cement, SF. More info here
(PS Go to your local bookstore if you cannot make it out to Green Apple. It has stuff!)

FOG CITY NEWS + CHOCOLATES One of our perennial Best of the Bay winners, yes this is the best news stand in the city, with magazines galore for great (and timely!) stocking stuffers. But the real news here is the selection of dozens and dozens gourmet chocolates from all over the world. Every time I’m in there I discover a new line of incredible, innovative cocoa-something that makes for a perfectly unique gift — provided it survives that long in my possession. 455 Market, SF. More info here

MUSEUM STORES From the SF MoMA and the De Young to the Exploratorium and Asian Art Museum (not to mention the Museum of Craft and Design), there’s usually something for everyone — kids included — at museum stores. Puzzles, scarves, mugs, prints, and more all with a local angle. 

The green scene at Roots. Photo via Yelp

ROOTS  Millennials love houseplants! And so does practically everyone else! This amazing store in the Mission offers a veritable jungle of unique houseplants (including some really cool terreriums, and owner Michelle is wonderful at guiding you through it to find the perfect gifts for loved ones/co-workers/exes/roommates/the world. 425 S. Van Ness, SF. More info here

CHINATOWN You can burn through Chinatown in an afternoon grabbing inexpensive gifts — I especially do this when I’m spending the holidays out of town with family: I can get them all a series of crazy SF snow globes or cute lucky cats, and they thank me. 

PS Do you have stoner stockings to stuff? Check out our extensive Weed-Lovers’ Holiday Gift Guide!

The Doormat Division: More perfecter than you

DOORMAT DIVISION STANDINGS, WEEK 15

NFC

                                  W-L          PF        PA      DIF

NY GIANTS               2-12         228      355     -127

CHICAGO                 4-10         234      294      -60

SANTA CLARA         4-10         253      337      -84

TAMPA BAY              4-9           264      312     -48
WASHINGTON          6-8          305       359     -54

AFC

                                  W-L          PF        PA      DIF

CLEVELAND             0-14        207      362     -155
INDIANAPOLIS         3-11        225      368     -143
HOUSTON                 4-10        319      380      -61
DENVER                    5-9          254      328      -74
CINCINNATI               5-9         233      305      -72
NY JETS                    5-9         285       342     -57       

BROWNS 10, RAVENS 27

Get out your paper bags, and cut some eyeholes, Browns fans! Another professional, workmanlike effort from the 0-14 Men of Blank, clinching the AFC championship with a turnover blitz against the game, but not gamey enough, Baltimore Ravens (the ex-Browns).  Immediately getting some Ravens points up on the first defensive series (3-0), the Brownouts followed up with two punts and an interception. But the Ravens just punted right back, and then unleashed a botched defensive play that gave the Browns a 59-yard sprint down the field by Isiah Cromwell, followed by a rare end zone appearance by a Brown for a touchdown. Browns lead 7-3.  Browns fans settled in for the inevitable collapse. Patience, grasshopper.

The nerves calmed down, though, and the Browns uncorked Baltimore’s passing game, plus sprinkled in a fumble at their own 45. Next thing you know, the Poes had two touchdowns, and, despite a last-minute first half field goal by the Blanks, were safely up 17-10 at the half.  

The second half began with frenzied punting by both sides, but the Browns craftily moved back, back, back, until they were pinned at their own 4 after the Raven’s second punt.  Seizing the opportunity, Browns QB DeShone Kizer drops back into the end zone and…waits..don’t look around…and pow! — coughs up a perfect Fumble Six, kicking the Ravens a little further down the street, with no view of a loss anywhere in sight. 24-10. Game over.

Next week is the big one- the 4-10 Chicago Bears will be playing host to the Brownouts on the 24th, the biggest obstacle to a perfect season for Cleveland. It is eerily similar to last year, when the Chargers waltzed into Cleveland with a 5-9 record, on Xmas eve, and shoved a win down the Browns throats, wrecking the Perfect Season Parade plans. But, as hard as Bears coach John Fox may work at desultory losses, I think the Browns have it wired. But, that’s why they play the game…. for the tailgate. What?  

BEARS 10, LIONS 20

Getting an early start to the losing weekend, the Bears buried the Lions with an avalanche of penalties (13) at the Kat Box on Saturday. Following up their Orange Bad victory last week over the nearly-Bengals with a three-interception scorcher from QB Mitchell Trubinsky, the Bears move into second place in the Doormat NFC, holding the tie-breaker over the 49ers. Next week Trubinsky and Kizer will play the rookie turnover-challenge-game-within-the-game that decides the game.  

COLTS 13, BRONCOS 25

Our only Doormat head-to-head game this week, and it was a nail-biter until after the halftime burritos and beer huddle in the Colts locker room. To be fair, the Clots staged an arduous 12-play grind to start the 2nd half, ran out of gas, belched, kicked a field goal, and called it a day on offense.  The defense responded with 15 Broncos points, and both teams got to take the 4th quarter off. As it should be.

GIANTS 29, EAGLES 34

They almost did it again. Playing their best football of the season, the Gnats come perilously close to scoring another 3up3down upset, almost tying the game in the 3rd quarter at 31 on a two-point conversion attempt. But, they came up short, and then did what all our loss leaders do — run out of fuel in the 4th quarter, and watch it all melt away like so many fans into the chilled, gray, New Jersey afternoon, shuffling back to the last burnt weenie on the dark BBQ back in the lot. 

TEXANS 7, JAGUARS 45

Pitching in mightily for the Jaguars playoff clinching party, the Houston Toxins needed only four extra plays over the minimum for the 1st half (all 3-and-outs would be a ‘perfect game’) on offense, and just continued the Chaos Rules routine in the defensive backfield, and kablooey the Jaguars were up 31-0 at halftime. Oh, that “changing of the guard” feels good, don’t it, Jags fans? Toxins make the 10-loss club with two weeks to spare.

3 UP 3 DOWN UPSET!!  (3 games over .500 vs.  3 games under .500)

49ERS 25, TITANS 23

It’s all gone completely off the rails for the Whiners. Once 0-9, and then only taking a win against the tough-to-lose-to Giants, the Whiners have won three straight!! WHAT?? Ever since the new Italian model took over behind center, it’s just not at all the same. Doormats don’t win three straight. They’ve gone Garoppoloco. But, look at the bright side: they still only got one touchdown, during ‘Celek Time’, and still some brilliantly boneheaded penalties got sprinkled in there.

But, SIX field goals is going way beyond Doormat logic.  Guys, yes, you’re supposed to fail in the red zone, and kick field goals, but not SIX. You’ll win the damn game. Well, there’s nothing for it but to celebrate the rare 3up3down victory for a Doormat…who isn’t looking at all like a doormat. Enjoy the fresh air, you bums!

RAIDERS 17, COWBOYS 20

Oh, lord, we’re gonna have to let them in, aren’t we?  Next week it’s the Eagles and then the ‘who’s got the tee-times set up?’ game against the Chargers. They could lose 10. The Silver and Blacked Out are hovering out on patio. Geez, and we put all the Raider stuff out on the curb in the Free Box last January. Bother.

DOLPHINS 16, BILLS 24

The tension. Out of the playoffs for 17 seasons, the Bills ‘control the own destiny’, which is probably something Bills fans don’t want to hear. Now that the Fin Flop is over, the Bills travel to Foxboro for tea with the Pats, that super-annoying nine straight division title winning culture that you just wanna punch in the…is there any more potato salad?  

CARDS 15, WASHINGTONS 20

That’s 10 straight field goals by the Cards, so you know Blaine Gabbert is on his game. 

Hold onto your blank hats, fans, the Perfect Season Parade is coming to a Cleveland near you!!

aaaAAAAAAnd That’s the View From the Basement!!!!!!!!!!

Scenes from the Best of the Bay 2017 winners party

Best Dance Party co-winners Non Stop Bhangra

The crowd was buzzing, the vibe was warm, and the feelings were fuzzy at Best Gay Bar 2017 The Stud on Tuesday, December 5, as this year’s Bay Guardian Best of the Bay winners gathered to celebrate.

Delicious food from Best Mediterranean Restaurant winner Old Jerusalem and perennial 48 Hills favorite Casa Sanchez kept everyone happy, and Powerhouse performance by the dholrhythms dancers from Best Dance Party Non Stop Bhangra had everyone on their feet dancing along.

Everyone from Best Thai Restaurant winner Lers Ros and Best Electrician Pauric Electric to Best Website Broke-Ass Stuart and Best Film Festival Frameline showed up to party — and prove that the Bay is the still Best of all.

Best Trainer Ace Morgan
Zachary’s: Best Pizza Co-Winner
Maria Davis, owner of Best Dive Bar St. Mary’s Pub and Stud collective member.
Best Winery Gratta Wines
Best Locally Produced TV Show: Reality Check TV
48 Hills’ Marke B and DJ Sep of Best Reggae Club Dub Mission
Rare out-of-face photo! Best Drag Queen Peaches Christ (middle).

Party Radar: The best club ever?

Club 57 party artwork by Kenny Scharf as Jet.

PARTY RADAR I just flew in from New York City, and, boi, are my nasal passages tired. From a muddy-sounding multi-warehouse Brooklyn rave with The Black Madonna to a raucous cabaret evening at actor Alan Cumming’s new post-Eastern Bloc Club Cumming — with stops at Bushwick neighborhood hang Bossa Nova Civic Club (which just happens to host the world’s best techno DJs) and incredible, neon-ceilinged Bushwick spot Analog (which hosts one of my favorite gay parties, Wrecked, coming to SF next month!) … Child, I did a lot.

Photo by David Schnur

Probably the most amazing thing, however, was the stunning, nightlife-affirming “Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983” show at the MoMA. Like the sprawling show itself, which took over the MoMA’s basement, Club 57 was located in the basement of a Polish Church on St. Mark’s Place — the real underground, on zero budget — and involved every early 80’s club, art, and music icon you could think of.

Keith Haring performing na “Act of Live Art” in 1980 at Club 57. Photo by Joseph Szkodzinski

Seriously: Keith Haring was its visual art selector, Ann Magnuson was its performance curator, Susan Hannaford and Tom Scully were the film programmers, and from there you also get Kenny Scharf, Klaus Nomi, John Sex, Fab 5 Freddy, Future 2000, Kenny Scharf, Taboo!, Divine, Lisa Lyon, Africa Bambaataa, Johnny Dynell … RuPaul, Cyndi Lauper, the B-52s, The Fleshtones, and Madonna hung out there. Everybody hung out there. There were wiggy rock performances, experimental film nights, DIY fashions galore, and music that popped with early New Wave, hip-hop, Alt Country, jangly indie, and electro.  

A plastic cape worn onstage by Klaus Nomi. Photo by David Schnur
Club 57 calendar, hand-collaged by Ann Magnuson. Photo by David Schnur
A cheeky ad by Lypsinka
Painting by Kenny Scharf

It’s a club kid paradise, yes, but with some very important art and purpose. The club’s gritty, relentlessly DIY aesthetic was fueled by reaction against the stifling mores of the Reagan era. Some of the art revels in an ironic, plastic-elastic realm as sleek as the Gipper’s coif — this was the height of gender-bending, post-punk sheen, albeit held together with Scotch tape and nail glue — and the ballooning-cartooning of Haring, Scharf, and the Downtown graffiti scene. Other provocative, agit-prop bits remind you of just how affecting that form can be: I dare anyone not to weep as Wojnarowicz famously beseeches, in a hallucinatory film called Listen to This, to dump his body on the White House lawn when he dies of AIDS.

The gang at 57. Photo by Tseng Kwong Chi

You get so much in between its hard to take it all in — Joey Arias pop-and-locking out of a wheelchair, Charles Busch and Lypsinka aggressively deconstructing gay drama on stage, Magnuson’s hand-collaged club calendar’s, the art of a young SAMO (aka Jean-Michel Basquiat in his first street art phase), gorgeous pieces by photographer and gadabout Tseng Kwong Chi (who deserves a major retrospective of his own). There’s even a full-on  dazzling fluorescent “secret” backroom by Scharf called Cosmic Closet! And it turns out a lot of the club founders were kids from San Francisco, who felt they weren’t fitting into the punk scene or the gay scene, so they started something new: 

I was overwhelmed by this tribute to the power of nightlife, synthesize so many different streams of expression into one phenomenal hullaballoo. Pure inspiration, and a hot goose to nurture that spirit here at home. What we do is real, folks. 

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14

BOYS NOIZE That good ol’ hardcore electro feeling returns with this favorite of the late aughts, who now seems to be going through a more EBM than EDM phase, which is great. Dark and euphoric is just fine. Fri/14, 10pm-late, $20-$30. Halcyon, SF. More info here

KATYA: A HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR I adore Russian Drag Duchess Katya Smirnoff-Skyy. “Now in its 11th year, and sure to make your Yuletide Gay. With music director Joe Wicht and special appearences by her Elves, Katya will delight you with a fun-filled evening of belting, banter, and ball gowns to bolster your holiday spirit(s)! With songs ranging from classic holiday fair, to Popera, and disco, there is something for everyone in this heartwarming and brilliantly funny journey through Katya’s holiday misadventures.” Fri/15 and Sat/16, 8pm, $21-$50. Feinstein’s, SF. More info here.

CREATURE This multi-theme, multimedia, multi-genre party at the Stud is one of the best new parties of the year. “All we wanna do for the holidays is M/U/T/A/T/E. ya know, become our creepiest selves, queer our form, develop some evil powers.” With Casual Aztec, Troubled Youth, Brown Amy, Skin, and lots more. Fri/15, 10pm-late, $10. The Stud, SF. More info here

THE QUEEN IS DEAD An excellent all-Smiths and Smiths-adjacent night? Reel around the fountain, kiddos, it’s time for the feels. With Tu Vu and Mario Muse and special guest Sarah Star Child from Chulita Vinyl Club. Fri/15, 9pm-2am, free with RSVP here. Bar Fluxus, SF. More info here.

MNML:FUN w/ KYN and Normalien “KYN is an electronic duo that explores experimental dance music with a dark, minimal and atmospheric aesthetic. With influences from films like Blade Runner, Alien and Ex Machina to the sounds of Northern Electronics, Stephan Bodzin, Ital Tek and Andy Stott, KYN weaves an odyssey of electronic sound through live performance. Normalien utilizes modular synthesizers to create improvisational hardware-based dance, downtempo and experimental electronic music, all of which are controlled by dozens of different voltage signals flowing through wires in realtime.” That is truly some mnml fun. Fri/15, 10pm-2am, $5. Underground SF. More info here

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 16

VOLVOX This is pretty huge. Three of our biggest party crews — Lights Down Low, As You Like It, and Honey Soundsystem — are joining forces to bring you not just deep-dark-techno Volvox, one of the best up-and-coming DJs in the world, but also the wonderfully miasmic, slow-burning Dorisburg. And it’s a full-on charity party to benefit the LYRIC queer youth services org in the Castro. Don’t miss! With Lily Ackerman, Sassmouth, and Siska. Sat/16, 10pm-4am,  $15. The Stud, SF. More info here. 

MARK FARINA AND DOC MARTIN It’s been a while since we had these two rave-era legends playing together, and I can’t wait for a heaping dose of funky techno and jazzy house — plus some new tricks these seasoned but still incredibly popular dogs have learned (including Doc’s penchant for cutting edge deep grooves). Fantastische. Sat/16, 9pm-3:30am, $15-$25. Public Works, SF. More info here.  

HANUCON! Good morning to everyone who survive the horrifying ritual known as SantaCon. Now it’s time for a big queer Jew party (all are welcome!). “We’ll have latkes, vodkas and a mishmosh of folks. First 50 people in the door get their very own blue and white hat. An evening of community Hosted by the infamous faux queen Miss Shugana (reigning Grand Duchess of San Francisco) in conjunction with Keshet, the National Jewish LGBT Organization and Congregation Sha’ar Zahav.” Chag Sameach! Sat/16, 6pm-9pm, $10. Oasis SF. More info here

FRINGE Time to ring those Sleigh Bells. Dance, dance, dance to the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs and more favorites from the indie-dance apex of the aughts at this favorite get-down. Glitter make-up station, tons of giveaways, and a warm and toasty crowd. With Blondie K & subOctave and special guest Mario Muse. Sat/16, 9pm-2am, $5. Madrone, SF. More info here. 

GUY GERBER Israeli innovator of hypnotic techno (who else could pull off a collaboration with Puff Daddy?) comes to big room Great Northern for the On&On party. His “Timing” is still one of my favorite records. Sat/16, 9:30pm-3:30am, $15-$22. Great Northern, SF. More info here

BEATPIG Every month, the gay dance floor at Powerhouse goes HOG WILD, as Walter Gomez and Juanita More pork up the joint, with rib-licking tunes by John Walker. Yes, it is pig-themed. Sat/16, 10pm-2am, $5 benefits the Transgender Law Center. Powerhouse, SF. More info here

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 17

A BARRY WHITE CHRISTMAS Well, who doesn’t think of a sexy big poppa in the Yuletide? That Disco Daddy scallywag DJ Bus Station John dedicates his wildly popular monthly party to the Velvet Force that is soul legend Barry White. Get into it, and let’s wish together for a Teddy PendergrEaster. Sun/17, 7pm-2am, $5-$7. Eagle, SF. More info here.    

EXPERIMENTAL HOUSEWIFE Been meaning to see this rising SF star, appearing at the weekly Werd party. “Experimental Housewife is exactly what you’d think: an experimental DJ and producer. With an impeccable taste in house, deep house, and techno classics, ExHouse often slices through all genres with her hard techno and noise side. Also a drummer and professor, her sets are bizarre treats for the mind, replete with rhythmic force and nostalgic layers.” Sun/17, 9pm, $5-$10. Monarch, SF. More info here

DAVID HARNESS Soulful house for your spiritual season? Si si. The local legend lights up Halcyon’s formidable sound system and rings all the bells at this Mighty Real reunion party. Sun/17, 10pm-4am, $15. Halcyon, SF. Tickets and more info here 

‘The Secret Garden’ blooms with wonder and beauty

Katie Maupin as Mary Lennox in 'The Secret Garden." Photo by Ben Krantz Studio

ONSTAGE The Secret Garden has been on Broadway, in the movies (since 1949!), and performed at probably every regional theater in the country at least once. But 42nd Street Moon’s production (Through December 24) is still full of brilliant surprises –- not least of which is the dazzling performance of 12-year-old Katie Maupin in the lead role of Mary Lennox, the orphaned girl who comes from India to live with her distant uncle Archibald Craven (Brian Watson) in England and changes the life of everyone around her.

As a young actress, Maupin expertly portrays a wide range of emotions, from a sullen child who is taken 6,000 miles away from her home after her parents die of cholera, to frightened girl listening to “wuthering winds” and mysterious crying in the cold mansion “with something wrong inside it,”  to a tender companion when she discovers she has a cousin, the bedridden Colin (Tyler Groshong), whom no one has thought to mention to her.  Maupin even goes wildly over the top with great flair, as she does when her uncle’s brother Neville (Edward Hightower) tries to pack her off to boarding school. In a hilarious scene, she whirls around shouting in tongues, feigning madness to keep from being sent away “to a filthy rat hole full of brats and dirty beds.”

As is to be expected from 42nd Street Moon, a company that excels in musicals, the singing and dancing are superb all around. The play’s original book and lyrics are by Marsha Norman and the music by Lucy Simon; it was the first Tony-winning show with both music and lyrics by women. This production is also creatively led by three women: director Dyan McBride, musical director Lauren Mayer, and choreographer Robyn Tribuzi. 

Michael Mohammed, Anjali Blacker, Ryan Henry, Amanda Johnson, Terrence McLaughlin, and Corinne Rydman in 42nd Street Moon’s ‘The Secret Garden.’ Photo by Ben Krantz Studio.

Tribuzi weaves in diverse dances to accentuate the mood of the moment, including stately waltzes by British colonial army officers and their wives, a hearty Yorkshire jig, and a graceful Indian-inspired duet with Mary and Ayah, the bright, animated Anjali Blacker.  

All of the voices are terrific, some are outstanding. Maidservant Martha’s (Heather Orth) robust solo, “A Fine White Horse,”  brings down the house. Martha’s good humor, compassion and delicious disobedience help guide Mary through her loneliness. Her flawless command of the north country accent places us solidly in Yorkshire (others are not so consistent). Mary’s Aunt Lily (Sharon Rietkerk) appears both as a living young fiancée and as a ghost. In both astral planes, she is so loving and lovely, it is easy to understand why Archibald is still obsessed by her, years after she has died in childbirth. Her duets with her son Colin, “Come to My Garden,” and with her widowed husband, “How Could I Ever Know?” are heartbreaking. 

Katie Maupin as Mary Lennox and Heather Orth as Martha in ‘The Secret Garden.’ Photo by Ben Krantz Studio.

The best theater, as Aristotle taught long ago, involves transformations — and The Secret Garden has them in abundance, some predictable (though no less moving) and some metaphorical. The bed-ridden Colin, who is convinced (because he has been told by his doctor uncle) that he is about to die, rises from his bed, and then from his wheelchair to walk in his mother’s garden and into his father’s arms. His father, whose heart has been so shut down by his wife’s death that he cannot even bear to greet his niece though he knows she is the only relative she has, eventually learns to love again.   

The secret garden, behind a locked gate overgrown with ivy, also transforms. When first discovered by Mary with the help of Martha’s brother Dickon (Keith Pinto) it is overgrown with “loose grey branches looped around the trees like ropes or snakes and dead roots and leaves all tangled on the ground, still and cold.” Only a robin’s song offers a trill of hope. “Wick,” Dickon’s optimistic duet with Mary  — “When a thing is wick, it has a life about it …a way of knowing when it is safe to grow again” —  is another high point of the production.

Scott Hayes as Ben Weatherstaff and Katie Maupin as Mary Lennox. Photo by Ben Krantz Studio.

I suppose this often-told story (originally a 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett) has endured because, at bottom, it is about what makes a family and a home. When Archibald asks his niece what she wants, she eschews his offers of books or dolls and tells him she would like “a little bit of earth.” In the first act, he regards her request as a cruel reminder of his own despondency: “How can she chance/To love a little bit of earth/Does she not know/The earth is old/And doesn’t care if/One small girl wants things to grow.”

By the time he and the ghost of Lily reprise the song in Act II, beneath a fountain of roses and accompanied by the songs of birds, it becomes a hopeful tribute: “She wants a little bit of earth/She’ll plant some seeds/The seeds will grow/The flowers bloom/But is their bounty/What she needs?”

This musical, in the hands of this cast and production team is definitely “Wick,” brimming with life and making hearts grow.  Grab your children — and their grannies — for this beautiful show.  It will be the high point of their holiday season!

The Secret Garden
Through December 24
42nd Moon, SF.
Tickets and more info here 

Screen Grabs: California Typewriter, Lost Landscapes of San Francisco …

Tom Hanks with some of his collection of 250 typewriters, in 'California Typewriter'

It’s a big weekend for family entertainment, with not only the new Star Wars joint (The Last Jedi—one of the falsest “last” promises in the history of movies, one suspects) but also Ferdinand, a new animated film based on the same children’s book about a flower-loving bull that inspired a famous Disney cartoon short eighty years ago. Even SF Symphony gets into the act with several performances of Home Alone. Yes, the 1990 comedy with Macauley Culkin will be projected at Davies Hall while the orchestra plays John Williams’ score live. (Maybe they’ll throw in his Star Warstheme as a bonus.) Roll over, Beethoven.

Fortunately, there are plenty of local alternatives for those seeking celluloid entertainment of a more grownup nature.

Two well-reviewed documentaries are opening at Landmark Theaters: Israeli directors Alon and Shaul Schwarz’s Aida’s Secrets probes the very complicated saga of how two Jewish brothers born in a European refugee camp just after WW2 came to be raised on different continents, unaware even of each other’s existence. Bobbi Jo Hart’s Rebels on Pointe chronicles the over half-century history to date of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, an all-male “drag ballet” ensemble whose parodies of classical dance have proven enduringly popular despite some initial hostility and the ravages of the AIDS epidemic.

The Roxie offers a single screening Tue/19 of Barney’s Wall, a new doc about legendary Grove Press publisher and censorship foe Barney Rosset. Co-presented by City Lights and Litquake, the program will also feature a live panel discussion with speakers including director Sandy Gotham Meehan.

There’s also the arrival of one of the year’s most acclaimed films, Call Me By Your Name from Italian director Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love), with rich-kid teen Timothee Chalamet and visiting American Armie Hammer drifting into romance in the idyllic 1983 Tuscan countryside. It’s certainly a handsome piece of escapist-touristic fantasy, though I remain skeptical of Guadagnino, who often seems truer to his sideline as a luxury-product advertiser than he does to the narrative and psychological depth his feature films skim over. (For one thing, this movie completely avoids the specter of AIDS, which would have been very much on the minds and in the conversations of any Italians mulling a gay affair with an American in 1983. I know—I was there.) In the end, this pretty posefest feels like an upscale homophile version of a Nicholas Sparks adaptation, albeit with less conflict. I’ll stick with the grittier, heartfelt God’s Own Country as the celluloid gay love story of the year. 

Elsewhere, there’s a variety of limited runs and special events: 

ALONG FOR THE RIDE: A TRIBUTE TO DENNIS HOPPER
Dennis Hopper spent his later years as a dutiful industry staple, playing villains in blockbusters, collecting fine art and renouncing aspects of his hedonistic past as a registered Republican. But he never really shook the wild-man image of a self-proclaimed James Dean acolyte turned surprise counterculture king of New Hollywood as director of 1969’s Easy Rider, the low-budget “biker flick” whose colossal success helped kick-start an era of more adventurous and independent filmmaking. He followed it up with The Last Movie, a wildly self-indulgent 1971 flop that is nonetheless one of the most truly experimental features ever to come out of a major studio (which hated it). He stumbled along in a druggy stupor until sobering up and re-emerging as an actor in 1986 with the one-two punch of a sympathetic turn (for which he got an Oscar nomination) in Hoosiers and a terrifying one in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet

That latter film will be featured in this week-long tribute ballasted by Nick Ebling’s new documentary Along for the Ride, which views Hopper’s eventful life and career through the perspective of his longtime assistant/minder Satya de la Manitou. There will also be screenings of Tony Scott’s 1993 Tarantino-written True Romance, wherein Hopper has a memorable scene opposite Christopher Walken; the rare 1985 featurette A Hero of Our Time; several short films by Hopper’s close artist friend Bruce Conner; and Out of the Blue, the intense 1980 family psychodrama that’s probably the best thing Hopper ever directed. Opens Friday, Roxie Theater. More info here.

REMEMBERING JONATHAN DEMME
A more recently deceased American film great is Demme, who began toiling in the B-movie factory of Roger Corman, making such idiosyncratic drive-in treasures as Caged Heat and Crazy Mama before beginning to ascend towards the Oscar-winning likes of The Silence of the Lambs. Yet he never lost his taste for edgier projects, whether filming performances by Talking Heads, Neil Young and Spalding Gray, or taking on such dicey later commercial projects as the criminally underrated version of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Rachel Getting Married and the little-seen A Master Builder,playwright Wallace Shawn’s take on Ibsen. 

Center for the Arts provides a one-night tribute to the filmmaker (who passed away last April at 73) with 1993’s AIDS-themed drama Philadelphia, a somewhat overrated hit, and 1998’s Storefront Hitchcock, a concert showcase for quirky British singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock that premiered at the SF International Film Festival and has barely been seen since. Thurs/14 and Sun/17, YBCA. More info here

CALIFORNIA TYPEWRITER
Named after Herb Permillion’s Berkeley typewriter-repair store, a stubborn holdout in the digital age, Doug Nicol’s documentary celebrates the history and mystique around the humble machine whose heyday lasted about a century—from the 1880s to the advent of the personal computer. Enthusiasts interviewed include actor Tom Hanks (who owns some 250 of them), recently deceased playwright Sam Shepard, and musician John Mayer, as well as sculptor Jeremy Mayer (no relation to the last), whose artworks make use of discarded typewriter parts. Yes, typewriters (and paper) are bulky. But what physical artifacts will survive—let alone reside in museums—when future literary manuscripts and policy documents exist only as bytes? Where’s the romance in an On the Road found not on an endless roll of paper, but on iCloud? Sat/16, Fri/22, Sat/23, Thurs/28, Pacific Film Archive. More info here

MILDRED PIERCE 
Another limited run at the PFA is a newly restored print of the 1945 drama that kicked off Joan Crawford’s contract at Warner Brothers (she’d spent the two decades prior at MGM) and snagged her that elusive Oscar. She plays the waitress whose homemade pies eventually propel her up a ladder of entrepreneurial success, turning her daughter (Ann Blyth) into a society debutante—and a horribly bratty ingrate who even steals mom’s boyfriend (Zachary Scott). Based on a pulp fiction by James M. Cain (of The Postman Always Rings Twice), this domestic noir was purportedly turned down by Bette Davis before La Crawford and director Michael Curtiz recognized its possibilities. The recent TV miniseries remake with Kate Winslet, directed by Todd Haynes, hews closer to the excellent novel; but this B&W classic retains its own strengths as deluxe vintage melodrama. Fri/15, Sat/23, Wed/27, Pacific Film Archive. More info here.

LOST LANDSCAPES OF SAN FRANCISCO 
The latest edition of this beloved annual event—so beloved that, in fact, this year it occupies two nights at the Castro—is an audiovisual archaeological dig into the past of our rapidly changing city. At least the past caught on film, from the beginning of the 20th century to the Me Decade. Favorites from prior programs will be abetted by new finds that we’re promised will include clips of vintage North Beach nightlife, as well as behind-the-scenes footage from the local shooting of Peter Bogdanovich’s 1972 screwball comedy What’s Up, Doc?, with Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal. Audience participation in terms of location identification and other insights. Proceeds benefit archivists Rick & Megan Prelinger’s SOMA “famed experimental research” facility the Prelinger Library. Tues/12-Wed/13, Castro Theatre. More info here

NEW EXPERIMENTAL WORKS
Speaking of experimentation, The Other Cinema ends its latest ATA calendar with as usual with a night of recent short film and video works in that vein. The eclectic mix will include the world premiere of Anthony Buchanan’s Oriental Flames, plus new titles by Linda Scobie, Isaac Sherman, Tommy Becker, Misha Steier, Kent Lambert, Mike Morris and more. Many of the filmmakers featured will be present, with one (Ellie Vanderlip) providing her own live banjo accompaniment. Sat/16, Artists Televison Access. More info here. 

The Doormat Division: Perfect Season Parade preserved!

SOME PERSPECTIVE 

Director John Waters once said:  “When I say action, you pick up that poodle poop and eat it.” Wait, that’s not the right quote…here:  “I used to play “school” as a kid with the little girl who lived next door, and I was always the teacher and she was always the student.  Every time we played I failed her, yet she still eagerly agreed to play every time I asked, fully knowing the results. Failing can be a relief for some. A sexual position. A way of life. A choice. Some kind of happiness the never lets you down.” 

Is this it, Doormat fans? Cleveland? Colts? Cincinnati? We gotta find some kinda something here in the Basement. We gotta be able to count on our guys. Fill the Blank Helmet chips bowl, and fish out the stale salsa from the back of the fridge. It’s our turn.

DOORMAT DIVISION STANDINGS, WEEK 14

NFC

                                  W-L          PF        PA      DIF

NY GIANTS               2-11         199       321    -122

SANTA CLARA         3-10         228      314     -86

CHICAGO                 4-9           224      274      -50

TAMPA BAY              4-9           264      312     -48

WASHBINGTON       5-8          285      344      -59

AFC

                                  W-L          PF        PA      DIF

CLEVELAND             0-13        197      335      -138

INDIANAPOLIS         3-10        212     343      -131

DENVER                    4-9          229      315      -86

HOUSTON                 4-9          312      335      -23

CINCINNATI               5-8          226      271      -45

NY JETS                    5-8          266      311      -45      

THE GAMES

GAME OF THE YEAR

BROWNS 21, PACKERS 27 (OT)

Faced with the most difficult challenge of the season, the Cleveland Browns brought home the Excedrin yesterday in Green Bay, rallying from up 14 points in the 4th quarter (in what looked like a sure victory) to force a tie and then crisply blowing it in OT (a DeShone Kizer Hail Whoever interception on the 3rd play deeeep in their own territory), nailing down loss #13 and preserving the Perfect Season Parade, which cleared their $10,000 budget mark by getting a $7,000 bump from the nice people at Excedrin, who announced that they “feel your pain.” 

They’d better be feeling it today, because that was the art of losing played like a Stradivarius in the hands of a frozen-fingered out of tune accordion busker on the corner of Lou Groza Blvd and Pearl St. outside Browns headquarters in Cleveland. May the swirling hot dog wrappers of disappointment settle upon your prostate frame, providing thin cover from the cold, as you stare up into the gray sky, wondering what you ever did to deserve this…being a Browns fan.

It was a bizarre game, all right. Brownout fans were subjected to THREE long touchdown drives, the first time all season they’ve had to survive this sort of production, with the suspense of the anticipated turnover after about five plays causing brain aneurysms all over the Cleveland area. But no– the Browns just kept scoring. But from great heights comes vertigo and the defense stepped in where the offense couldn’t, and just ran out of gas, and 20 points never looked so easy to give up. It was killer.

Hats off to the entire Browns organization on this one, and all that’s left is the Bears on Christmas Eve, the last serious challenge to the Perfect Season. The Parade? Jan. 6th, Browns sufferers, is the date to pull yourselves up off the concrete, put on every inch of brown and orange you have, and join the procession that will be the Perfect Season Parade. It’s your only hope. 

The Perfect Season Parade is real, BTW — here’s where you too can donate.

All proceeds, should the Browns win a game, will go to the Cleveland Food Bank, which is what they did last year after the Browns beat the Chargers for their only win. Kind of makes one want to root for the Brownies to win just one, no? Make a donation. 

BATTLE FOR THE ORANGE

BENGALS 7, BEARS 33

In our Orange You Bad division big game yesterday, it was no contest, as the Bungles out-oranged the Bears beyond all dimension, and blew, and I say blew the Bears off the field and into the win column. After last Monday’s brawl vs. the Steelers, the Bengals had to field the video simulation squad, dressed to look like a defense. The Bears had no chance against this, and piled up the most points they’ve had all year. Andy Dalton and the Bungle offense chipped in an early touchdown and retired to the sidelines for the remainder.

The Bengals have three games to go, and if they pull the plug on the roster and ice everybody down now, which looks like a good bet, they’ll make the 10-loss club and be back in the Basement for a long, long loooooong winter.

BLIZZARD BALL!!!!

COLTS 7, BILLS 13

When the first possession of the game ends on downs, and punting seems like a dubious thing to try, you know you are in for a helluva game. Now, if only the Buffalo Bills can dial up a foot and a half of snow for every remaining game, they’ll make the playoffs.  As long as nobody can see which way the goalposts are, and your cleats turn into snowballs if you run more than five feet, the Bills have a shot.

Locked in a invisible snowball fight with the Colts for Doormat icebox supremacy, the Nils unveiled their deep-freeze secret weapon: No, not the snow plow – Third-String QB Joe Webb!  Joe, where ya been? After QB Nathan Peterman — clearly cooled off from his blazing five-interception debut a few weeks ago — disappeared in a snow drift on the sideline, the elusive Webb entered the fray and completed two passes. But he only needed one. Rolling right, Webb uncorked a 34-yard flotation device in overtime to what may have been Deonte Thompson’s arms sticking up out of the snow, setting up the game winning 21-yard non-slip demonstration by LeSean McCoy into what appeared to be an end zone to…WIN A GAME. 

The Clots, with Denver’s win yesterday, move into sole possession of second place in the AFC Doormat. 

49ERS 26, TEXANS 16

He’s Italian! If you squint real hard, his #10 looks like #16. He doesn’t look nearly dorky or unlikely enough, but 49er fans don’t care! He’s the new Joe Montana!! They’re going to the Super Bow- 

Wait a minute. The Texans — they should decide on a pass defense that follows receivers and stuff. And maybe don’t have defensive ends running 20 yards downfield in pass coverage. Probably a bad idea. The 49ers sure aren’t going to lose many more contests if they have QB Jimmy Garoppolo piling up 300-yard games. This is no way to stay with the Giants, that’s for sure. 

The Texans, at 4-9, have the Jags, Steelers and Colts left to get at least one more huge L and make the 10-Club. Says here they do it. The Whiners still have the Titans, Jags and Rams left on the to-do list, so they can still lose the next three, though the Titans are the shakiest 8-5 team in the league. But, let’s face it, Jimmy G guy may not be Joe Cool, but he’s a real QB. Doormats don’t have real QBs. A ray of happiness descends on the Red and Gold Faithful. 

GIANTS 10, COWBOYS 30

Not even a hated rival in a long, long rivalry can get the Flailing Giants into any sort of danger of winning.  But it’s not a lock, yet — the 49ers are playing playoff teams for the last three games, and the Flailers get the Eagles with no Carson Wentz, and then the Cardinals and the Skins, so…they have to be just hitting the hot tub and trying not to get injured at this point, right?  There’s nobody even at the helm. 

EAGLES 43, RAMS 35

Yeah, I know they aren’t Doormats anymore, and kind of never were, but losing Carson Wentz for the rest of the season and playoffs really hurts, man. That game yesterday was just flat out fun, and now…poof.

JETS 0,  BRONCOS 23

Riding an 8-game losing streak, the Broncos run into a buzzsaw of futility, and get spit out into the win column by the Basement-ready New York Jets. The Nyets uncorked a six-first-down masterpiece of nothing: 100 total yards and eight punts of a magic disappearing act by the offense, and the defense ran out of oxygen just running their competitive flab out onto the field from the locker room into the thin air of Denver. Wheeze.

Jets move to within a game of the Broncos, and are slouching towards the 10-club.

Sorry to see QB Josh McCown, who has had the best year of his career, get knocked out for the season with a hand injury. The Jets are close to being Parity Promising, but just zero-out every coupla games and lose like they mean it. 

RAIDERS 15, CHIEFS 26

I know this is a Parity game, but the Silver and Blacked Out looked so bad, in a game that was huuuuuge. Whoa. Raider QB Derek Carr just keeps waiting until later and later to start playing ball. Pretty soon, he’ll finally be on his game in the after-game press conference.

In fact, I think he was yesterday. Starting games like you have no idea how to get downfield is a top-down planning thing, so hat’s off to the Raider coaching staff for this bomb.

TITANS 7, CARDINALS 12

The Titans are 8-5 and in the playoff sniff, but you’d never know it watching this one.  Doormat All-Star Blaine Gabbert is steering the Cardinal van, and he’s doing a good job of keeping it out of the end zone, but four field goals still hangs a W on your scorecard when the Titans shut it down like they did yesterday. Ka-lunk!

The Run to the Moldy Carpet is a not a done deal yet, fans.  The Browns gotta cash in two more losses to lock it down, as the Giants show no sign of letting up.

aaaAAAAND That’s the View From the BASEMENT!!!!!!!!

Puff: The Weed-Lover’s Holiday Gift Guide

Photo by Dan Karkoska and Johnny Kat

PUFF Fear not frazzled holiday shopper! Here is my list of stocking stuffables and potent presents for the marijuana lover in your life. Rest assured, these do not have to be only gifts for someone else. They can always be self-gifts to help you buzz through the holiday with as little stress as possible. And many are made locally. Here they are in alphabetical order. 

Photo by Dan Karkoska and Johnny Kat

BREEZ
Medicated mints
Original Mint tin, 5 mg each, total 250mg THC, price: $20.
Cinnamon CBD Mint tin, 5 mg each THC and CBD, total 400mg, price: $40.
Royal Mint tin, 20 mg each THC, total 1000 mg, price: $50.

One of my favorite ways to medicate. These microdosing marvels will also leave your breath fresh and minty. You can go for a mild high to give you that little lift or take two 20mg and I’ll call you in the morning.

Where: Flower Power, Green Door, Urban Pharm, Flow Kana, Buzz Delivery, Waterfall Wellness.
Website: www.breezmints.com

Photo by Dan Karkoska and Johnny Kat

FUZZIES!
Infused mini pre-rolls
Three pre-roll tin, Top Shelf Bud, CO2 Wax, Kief, Terps, S. Silver Haze, Sativa, price: $22. Three pre-roll tin, Top Shelf Bud, CO2 Wax, Kief, Terps, OG Kush, Indica, price: $22.

A true find. These powerful pre-rolls will give you a great and strong high. They actually look fuzzy from all the kief. I have only located them at one location, Flower Power. Worth it!

Where: Flower Power.
Website: www.sublimeco2.com

Photo by Dan Karkoska and Johnny Kat

HENRY’S ORIGINALS
Pre-rolls
Fiu pak half gram smokes, price: $30.

New to the Bay Area from down south in LA. These have lovely packaging. I tried one, well two, with three friends, and we all enjoyed it. I was happy and stupid for hours afterwards, so thumbs up!

Where: Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana 
Website: www.henrysoriginal.com

Photo by Dan Karkoska and Johnny Kat

HIMALAYA VAPES
500mg cartridges
Top Shelf J1 (Jack Herer x Skunk), Sativa, 82.6% THC, 1.3% CBD.
Carpenteria (Private Reserve OG), Hybrid, 82.8% THC, 0.24% CBD.
Darth Vapor (Blackberry Kush x Mr. Nice), Indica Cross, 82.1% THC, 1.18% CBD.

These guys are putting out new flavors right and left. They had me at Darth Vapor, a 90% Indica. It is powerful. I’m currently enjoying their new Top Shelf label J1 (91% Sativa), and I have no complaints. Coming soon, Janis Joplin (75% Hybrid), Sweet Dreams (75% Indica), Blue Dream (82% Hybrid) and Sour Glue (84% Sativa). I love all the names.

Where: Purple Star SF, Grass Roots SF, Dutchman’s Flat, CBCB (Berkeley), Phytologie Oakland.
How much: $35.
Website: www.himalayavapor.com

Photo by Dan Karkoska and Johnny Kat

LITTLE GREEN BEE
Cannabis topicals and natural products
0.5 oz Eye & Lip Cream, 3.9 mg/mL THC, 2.1 mg/mL CBD, price: $28.
1 fl oz High CBD Healing Facial Serum, 1.4 mg/mL THC, 2.1 mg/mL CBD, price: $34.
0.34 oz Medicated Massage Oil, 88.2 mg CBD, price: $14.

Nice packaging and quality ingredients make these a must for the cannabis-healing curious. I like the roller ball dispenser on the massage oil.

Where: SAVA, Foggy Days delivery service. Order directly at [email protected] Website: www.littlegreenbee.net

Photo by Dan Karkoska and Johnny Kat

MANZANITA AND MADRONE
Natural Cannabis Sodas
Flavors: Cola, Lemon Lime, Ginger Root. 12 fl oz, 50mg THC, price: $12-$15
12 fl oz, 5mg THC, low dose, price: $5
Fire Cider Tonic, 160 mg cannabis, $22-$24

The flavors are great. They pack a punch at 50mg per bottle. I love the label. It is great over ice or mixed with your favorite booze. A great way to get high and enjoy a tasty beverage. They have low dose 5mg and non-medicated sodas as well.

The wellness tonic has co2 cannabis oil, apple cider vinegar, wildflower honey, ginger, tumeric, orange and lemon juice and peel, garlic, horseradish, habanero pepper, quillaja bark and citric acid. Sounds like it is ready to kick some ass! The perfect thing to have around during the cold and flu season.

Where: Harvest, Sparc, Urban Pharm, BASA, Purple Heart, 7 Stars, and Blum in the East Bay.
Website: www.manzamadrone.com

Photo by Dan Karkoska and Johnny Kat

MEDI-CONE
Flower-infused pre-rolls
Emerald Triangle Blend Tin, 2 Indica pre-rolls, 2 Sativa pre-rolls, Infused with hash oil, price: $36.
Cone-oisseur, 8 mini 1⁄3 gram pre-rolls, Top Shelf Sativa and Indica fortified with hash oil, price: $50.
Pre-rolls fortified with hash oil: Sour Diesel, Sativa, price: $11.
Honey Banana, Hybrid, price: $11. Zkittlez, Indica, price: $11.
High CBD, price: $12.

Lovely, quality pre-rolls full of fresh flower and mighty hash oil. The Emerald Triangle four-pak tin is perfect for a stocking stuffer.

Where: Barbary Coast SF, Grass Roots SF.
Website: www.medi-cone.com

Photo by Dan Karkoska and Johnny Kat

MOONMAN’S MISTRESS
Medicated edibles
Solar Flare Chocolate Chip Cookies, 10mg CBD per serving, 50 mg CBD per box, price: $20.
Super Nova Cookies Trail Mix, 10mg THC per serving, 50 mg THC per box, price: $22.

As I write this I have moved the remaining cookies away from my reach because I could eat the whole package, and I don’t want to get too stoned. If you like a nutty, seedy edibles, these are great. Moonman also has all kinds of cookie choices on their website from vegan to ones without nuts and seeds. You can order from their website, like some mail-order stoner Girls Scout Cookie kinda thing! A delicious and healthy way to microdose.

Where: You can purchase items and find locations on their website.
Website: www.moonmansmistress.com 

Photo by Dan Karkoska and Johnny Kat

PACIFIC REMEDY
Hand-rolled shatter joint with a fusilli pasta crutch
Strawberry Banana Flower with Blueberry Jack BHO Snake shatter, Sativa, price: $20. Zkittlez Flower with Royal Sour BHO Snake shatter, Indica, price: $20.

It could just be about the great packaging and quality flower and shatter, but then there is the twirled (fusilli) pasta crutch at the end. That is the piece de resistance. It is a gluten free pasta so it will not absorb moisture from the mouth, it cools the smoke and helps the joint to burn smoothly. Plus it is a great gimmick. Try one. You will like it. It makes a great gift too.

Where: Flower Power, Dutchman’s Flat, Harvest, Bloom Room SF, Harborside Oakland, Green Remedy (Richmond), 7 Stars (Richmond), Northstar (Sacramento), Redwood Herbal Alliance (Santa Rosa).
Website: www.pacificremedy.com

Photo by Dan Karkoska and Johnny Kat

SF ROOTS SOFT GELS
RCG CBD soft gels, 25 mg CBD each.
2 tablet pak, price: $5.
15 tablet container, price: $38
30 tablet container, price: $70
60 tablet container, price: $120

These CBD gel caps have really helped me with body pain. I suggest you try them out.

Where: Most smoke shops and dispensaries in the Bay Area.

Photo by Dan Karkoska and Johnny Kat

G-MONEY’S TREE SAP CIGAR GLUE
5 ml, price: $5
30 ml, price: $15

That perfect little something for the blunt and cigar smoker in your life. The glue itself will not get you high.

Where: Most smoke shops and dispensaries in the Bay Area.
Website: www.sfrootsca.com 

Photo by Dan Karkoska and Johnny Kat

SOMATIK
Cannabis-infused coffee
4 fl oz, 10mg THC, price: $8.
8 fl oz, 15 mg THC, price $12.
8 fl oz, 30mg THC, price: $15.

Microdosing with your morning coffee. Teaming with Ritual Coffee, the team at Somatik has put together a lovely concoction to give you that lift any time of the day.

Where: All Apothecarium locations, Sava, All Harvest locations and Barbary Coast . Website: www.somatik.us

Photo by Dan Karkoska and Johnny Kat

SPARKS
Cannabis-infused coffee beans made with Ritual coffee
1 ban, 3mg THC , price $19.
1 box, 99mg THC, price: $19.

These yummy chocolate covered Ritual Coffee beans are a fun way to get a little 3mg cannabis kick in your day.

Where: Sava (www.getsava.com) and M Club.

There you have it. A list of cannabis treats for the holidays and beyond. Remember, if you find a product you especially like, take the time to write a note to the company on their website or Facebook page. They will appreciate it and can use your testimonial to better promote their product!

Now it’s time to light up!

A philosopher and a drag queen meet on a dance floor …

Judith Butler and Fauxnique on stage at CounterPulse. Photo by John Hill.

ONSTAGE “Why is Fauxnique making Judith Butler dance?”

Trying to head off any audience confusion, Fauxnique (Monique Jenkinson) has posed the question herself.

“Because we intend the conversation to be embodied,” she clarifies.

“I guess we’re queering the conversation?” asks Butler politely.

“I guess so,” affirms Fauxnique.

Thus a philosopher and a drag queen met on a dance floor recently and, without further ado, and while busting perfectly respectable moves amid the whirling dappled light from a disco ball, started to talk.

That scene opened two weekends’ worth of new work and conversation, and it can serve as a lightly comic yet enthralling distillation of the aim behind Hope Mohr’s Bridge Project: the Bay Area choreographer’s annual series of multidisciplinary performance, master classes and residencies that, as the mission statement has it, “approaches curating as a form of community organizing to facilitate cultural conversations that cross discipline, geography, and perspective.”

By sparking encounters like this one between the acclaimed San Francisco–based dancer, faux queen and performance maker and the world-renowned philosopher, activist and gender theory trailblazer—or, to take an example from the 2015 series, between Bay Area dancemakers and visiting luminaries like Deborah Hay or Jeanine Durning—the series has been a boon to the local arts scene for four years now.

boychild in the Bridge Project. Photo by John Hill

Bridge Project 2017, “Radical Movements: Gender and Politics in Performance,” which ran November 3 through 12 and was co-produced by Counterpulse, offered a roster of premieres, including a duet between boychild and Jack Halberstam; Peacock Rebellion’s first full-length show, You Really Should Sit Like a Lady (or how I got to Femme); a solo piece by Maryam Rostami; and a collaborative performance installation by Julie Tolentino at the Joe Goode Annex. An audience salon and a reception with Tolentino and company were also on the program. In all, an often heady but inviting menu. (Indeed, this year’s series came complete with an audience reader, which provided some stimulating context, but there was no penalty for blowing it off.)

Opening night’s program at Counterpulse was a case in point. Turning to practices of the radical body, the conversation took its casually embodied course from the disco icebreaker through a specific set of physical exercises (likely familiar to the performance and yoga practitioners in the audience). It’s probably fair to say there’s been nothing in theaters recently to quite match Judith Butler talking about the politics of precarity and vulnerability while she’s prone on the stage with her head cradled in her interlocutor’s hands.

Lisa Evans in the Bridge Project. Photo by Jacob Marks

(That said, let’s acknowledge here Dancers’ Group and Counterpulse for first luring Butler onto the stage and into direct conversation with local queer performance-makers back in 2013 as part of Dancers’ Group’s long-running Dance Discourse Project.)

On one level, the evening served up an accessible and stimulating blend of sophisticated queer theory and radical politics alongside personal anecdote and a modest but sincere lovefest across the disciplinary divide—one which the audience was eventually invited to physically join as the conversation ended, the disco ball twirled once more and the dance floor opened to all. 
 

On another, the finessing and even flagrant shrugging off of the usual disciplinary borders put the whole thing on an unsettled footing—not a bad thing at all. In the air were more than ideas, fanzine bio-bits, or the strains of Chic and The Supremes. There was an unspoken but palpable sense of disorientation, along with the slightly giddy wonder at what might happen, when two mutually admiring representatives of two mutually exclusive worlds (art and academe, for short) let their respective guards down. Queering the conversation, for sure.

Party Radar: Wild nights — wild nights!

Chulita Vinyl Club celebrates three years of insanely good Latin grooves, Fri/8.

PARTY RADAR This has been a huge and heavy week for Bay Area nightlife: So much love going out all who didn’t let Ghost Ship anniversary grief stop them from communing on the dance floors, and props to all the parties that took part in the moment of silence for the victims last Saturday. Now we’re on to the criminal case preliminary hearings, and it will be a long while, probably, to see some justice.

In the meantime, the dance music community continues to come together to raise money for legal fees and family — and to release some incredible tracks from these talented souls. Three new releases take center stage. The first is based on weekly Monday party Run the Length of Your Wildness, via a stellar EP bearing the name on LA label Hobo Camp, featuring music from Cherushii, who ran the party, and Nackt aka Johnny Igaa, both lost to the fire. There’ll be a release celebration, at the party, Mon/18.

Nackt also has a new four-track EP on local label Left Hand Path, finalized just before he passed, entitled, perfectly, “Private Property Created Crime.” You can score a copy here

And then there’s the monumental Silk to Dry the Tears, an album featuring 31 artists associated with the label 100% Silk, which was originally named in the civil suit, has been released from the list, but now owes huge amounts of legal bills. Proceeds from the sale go to help that out — and you’ll be helped out, too, with some incredible tracks, like one of Octo Octa’s lovely, kicky peregrinations through house history, “Not Sure What To Do (Variation Zoning 4):

But beyond all this, how incredibly comforting it is to know we haven’t let this tragedy extinguish our wild nights together. See you out there! 

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8

CHULITA VINYL CLUB 3-YEAR ANNIVERSARY Insanely talented collective of vinyl lovers — now with franchises all over the country! — comes together to celebrate three years of kicking ass on the decks, and bringing some gorgeous cambia to the dance floors. Fri/8, 9pm-1:30am, free. Legionnaire Saloon, Oakland. More info here

DEEPCHORD + FLUXION An audiovisual world premiere at Gray Area (the perfect place for such a thing) called “Transformations”  from these two lauded dub techno players. Openers bvdub and Chris Zaldua will set the gritty electronic vibes. Fri/8, 9pm-2am, $20-$25. Gray Area, SF. More info here.  

UNIIQU3 Neon-colorful and so-so-styish queer hip-hop party Swagger Like Us brings in this Newark rapper for some tight vibes (and an untouchable crowd). Fri/8, 10pm-2am, $10. Elbo Room, SF. More info here

ION LUDWIG I am loving typing out all these names after a glass of wine — I feel like Friday’s got a total back-in-the-rave-day lineup, at least when it comes to flamboyant monikers. Ion Ludwig’s heady, trippy Dutch techno certainly fits the bill, presented tonight by Housepitality and the Diacritic Collective, which I must write about soon. Fri/8, 10pm-late, $15-$20. F8, SF. More info here.    

NEON BLACK: DIE HARD Synth-happy party Neon Black (think the soundtracks to Drive and Stranger Things but with a tad more Italo disco) is hosting a tribute to Christmas action movies, including Die Hard, which is wonderfully weird and totally in-step with Neon Black honchos DJ Danny Delorean and Fact50’s vibes. There are also video games because of course. Fri/8, 9:30pm-3am, $5-$8. Cat Club, SF. More info here

LAST NITE The 2000s are back, ahem. This long-running party keeps getting more and more popular, which may be a comment on the growing nostalgia of aging millennials — but probably just because the DJs Jamie Jams and Rocky have all the right Strokes. Fri/8, 10pm-2am, $5-$10. Make-out Room, SF. More info here.  

VIVVY’S GRAND OPENING Ugh I love this party so much! Every month, Vivvy comes up with something drag-spectacular, be it two drag shows happening simultaneously, a 45-minute journey through a dystopian space colony, a very weird Cats, or a dozen drag queens interpreting the same song. Plus, all-night dancing. Fri/8, 10pm-4am, $10. the Stud, SF. More info here

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9

DAVID HARNESS The legendary local soulful house DJ and producer has a new album about to drop (ran into him at the cheese store today and he was ready to let us have it). He’ll be making his debut at the Stud, with Berlin’s Alison Swing from the Dig Deeper party, at the Mixed Forms party, which is one of those magical “every different type of person is here” type deals. Don’t sleep. Sat/9, 10pm-4am, $20. Proceeds go to Trans Assistance Project (TAP) and Community United Against Violence (CUAV). The Stud, SF. More info here

WONDER-FULL This is such a positive and affirming event, exactly what we need right now. Every year, brilliant NYC DJ Spinna comes in to pay tribute to Stevie Wonder all night long, with favorites, rare cuts, and surprising edits. Ready for some songs in the Key of Life. Sat/9, 9pm-4am, $25. Mezzanine, SF. More info here

CLARK PRICE I love this Pittsburgh techno-ist so much. (He’s also staying at my house so I better say nice things! Ha.) His Honcho crew has transformed underground gay dancing over on that side of the country, and now he’s coming to play at Pound Puppy, our woofy monthly pawty at he Eagle. Sat/9 10pm-2am, $10. Eagle, SF. More info here. 

ORIGINS BALL We’re havin’ ourselves a Vogue Ball, y’all! “In celebration of the House of Energi’s 15 year anniversary, Founder Ultraa Energi and Father Ryan Energi are proud to present the Origins Ball in San Francisco! With Origins, we honor the traditions and memories of those who paved the way for Ballroom. We look inward towards the source of our own creativity to unleash on the runway.” Categories include: FACE – FLAWLESS, FOOT AND EYEWEAR – BODAK YELLOW, BIZARRE – STRANGER THINGS, and BLUE COLLAR DOLLARS. Sat/9, 9pm-6am, $20. Danzhaus, SF. More info here.    

LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH  A killer night of live electronics from local favorites Stress Therapy, Identity Theft, and Bellona, with intermission tunes from DJ Zlaya and Bit. Hosted by Body Rapture. Sat/9, 9pm-1am, $8. Eli’s Mile High Club, Oakland. More info here

NINE “Nine is a musical moniker of Nihar Bhatt, member of the post-techno Surface Tension DJ collective and co-head, (with Chris Zaldua), of the Left Hand Path record label. While deeply rooted in the architecture of ’90s acid and rave, Nine’s live hardware sets are constantly searching the landscape of the modern dystopia for ideas to bring to life.” I adore Nihar! This great-looking In Too Deep party also features Kyn, Greg Kappes (visuals), and Jesse Austin. Sat/9, 9:30pm-11:30pm, $7-$15 sliding scale. Studio Grand, Oakland. More info here.   

STUDIO 5’4 There is a party for short gay men and their admirers, and it is wonderful. This month’s theme? “All that’s little is gold!” Sat/9. 9pm-2am, $5. Lone Star, SF. More info here