Archive for August, 2008

New Orleans and Hurricane Gustav

The N.O. Metbloggers are covering Gustav as it hopefully misses them. Please give your support and get up to the minute reports from the ground at:

http://neworleans.metblogs.com

Where is everybody?

I just drove back to town after a week in the suburbs of Portland. Driving down from 505 to I-80 to the Bay Bridge between 7:00 and 7:30 on a Saturday night, I expected the usual congestion in Berkeley and backup at the bridge toll plaza. Nothing! The drive was smooth as butter, with exactly 1 car in line in front of me at the tolls.

Could be because of Burning Man, or all the local Democrats that went to Denver for the Democratic Convention are taking a long weekend, or maybe that whole staycashun thing is catching on. But the Bay Bridge sure was easy tonight.

Film: "No Regret" Opens at Lumiere Tonight

No Regret

This morning, an interesting-looking film came to my attention: No Regret, by director Leesong Hee-il. The trailer can be viewed here. It first screened at the Frameline Festival earlier this year, and it’s being billed as “the first breakout gay film from Korea.” In addition, it is the director’s first full-length feature film. A whole lotta firsts going on with this one. Here’s the synopsis:

Set in Seoul, South Korea, “No Regret” centers on Sumin (Lee Young-Hoon), who leaves the orphanage where he grew up and heads to the city to study art design. After losing his job at a factory due to layoffs, he finds himself working as a prostitute in a gay bar. Initially Sumin resists the advances of Jaemin (Lee Han), who comes from a rich and conservative family that doesn’t accept his sexual identity. Eventually Sumin succumbs to Jaemin’s advances, after they briefly experience happiness as passionate lovers, Sumin and Jaemin’s relationship falls into heartache and tragedy.

Jaemin’s parents go on to arrange a marriage for him; sounds like a real tear-jerker. However, in a review on SF Gate today, David Wiegand says: “Despite the surface hokum of the plot, there are only a couple of moments when you just don’t believe that Su-Min would do what he’s doing or that Jae-Min would say what he is saying.

Shows tonight at 7:15 and 9:30; screenings daily thereafter at 2:15, 4:45, 7:15, and 9:30. Tix are the usual $10.50 general.

NOTE: There has been some confusion over where the film is actually screening; I have verified that it will screen at the Lumiere and not the Embarcadero Center Cinema.

Ocean Beach & Drivebys


Last night I was walking in my t-shirt along Ocean Beach. Man, it’s like Los Angeles. So not much to post here, except that I wish the Fleishhacker Baths were back. The Beach Chalet was packed- and funny tidbit, the Japanese gentleman sitting next to me who really loved the Jack Johnson cover band, asked if it was safe to wait for the 5-Fulton at 10:30PM. “Will there be a driveby shooting?”

Film Tonight: Carson Mell’s Dispatches from Dimension X

Bobby Bird
[Image by Carson Mell via KQED.]

Tonight at Mezzanine (seemingly the only club I go to these days) is a live appearance by an animator and writer loved by Wholphin subscribers everywhere — or at least loved by this one — Carson Mell. His self-published illustrated novel Saguaro and several of his short films concern the life and adventures of washed-up country-rock legend Bobby Bird (pictured above). One of my favorite episodes in that saga is Chonto, which contains the amazing line, spoken by Bobby Bird: “Sometimes a man needs a dog. Of course, being a big shot, I decide I need a big shot dog. I need a monkey.” So he adopts one from a South American zoo; the story is surreal, hilarious, and touching all at once. Hopefully we’ll see it on the screen tonight.

As usual, doors at 7, screen at 7:30 or so; tix $12 (or $8 if reserved in advance by emailing SF360@sffs.org with your request).

Music: John Adams on Finding his Voice

If you happen to have a copy of the August 25 New Yorker, don’t miss this article by the composer John Adams, in which he discusses finding his compositional voice back in the 1970s and early 1980s. (Check out the keywords they tagged the article with: Adams, John; Composers; Memoirs; “Harmonium”; de Waart, Edo; Studebaker; San Francisco, California.) The abstract begins:

PERSONAL HISTORY about the writer’s years as an aspiring composer in San Francisco. … The writer’s plan was to live as a proletarian worker by day and an avant-garde composer at night. He worked unloading clothes from shipping containers. He wrote no music for a year and began falling into a depression. … [So he soon got a job at] the San Francisco Conservatory. The writer taught there for ten years, by fits and starts finding his voice as a composer.

On a personal note, I have a friend who tried that proletarian approach too, though without the Marxist pretensions; he lasted on the Oakland waterfront just long enough for a hernia to force him to do something else. He’s gone into a profession that is similarly friendly to composition: freelance software coding.

If you don’t have a copy of the issue, this 15-minute episode of the The New Yorker Out Loud features John Adams discussing his career, and in the process he hits all the main points in the article. Plus there’s background music. (Phrygian Gates!) Now I’m never going to be able to go past the south windmill at the western end of Golden Gate Park without thinking of John Adams, as he apparently lived about two blocks from there.

Our Local Hot Shots in Denver

The San Francisco influence at the Democratic Convention is apparently everywhere but in the party platform. While National mainstream strategists are at pains to distance themselves from left coast issues like gay marriage and Amnesty for immigrants, S.F’s silver spoon Democratic crowd is of course still making the rounds in Denver. Society Columnist Roger Friedman wrote “the 2008 DNC is like a party given for and by Nancy Pelosi”. Nancy’s super delegate daughter Alexandra is there and apparently telling people about her campaign documentary on, uh, John McCain.

Kamala Harris impressed the Washington Post with her tough talk about public safety over criminal rehabilitation. “What Democrats have to do is understand that Republicans have it right” on crime issues.

Maybe she’s right I pondered, as I was stepping over a bloodstained sidewalk two blocks from City Hall this morning in front of Kamala’s alma matter UC Hastings. Gosh, I hardly noticed how safe we have it here in the land of plea bargain hunters. Gee, with an ongoing presence of illegal immigrant crack dealers controlling the very next corner with “Amnesty”, I guess I should thank everyone involved for keeping me safe. Maybe these thugs work for Kamala, whose apparently a “Hot Shot” according to organizers of her panel that was sponsored by Time magazine.

Mayor Gavin Newsom , another Democratic “Hot Shot” also appeared at the Denver breakfast, and is the host of a rock concert Wednesday night complete with VIP area that defines which acts one can see. While the general admission area includes bands like Silversun Pickups, DJ Z-Trip and Clap Your Hands And Say Yeah, a more exclusive intimate area features Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie, and actress Zooey Descanel of She & Him. One cannot just buy their way into the Unconventional “VIP Gallery” to catch Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley, you have to be “invited”. Sponsors of the Gavster’s Denver shindig saluting “Young Democrats” include Pacific Gas and Electric, so you’d probably have to be up to date on your electric bill before you can expect to be invited.

Books: Oscar Villalon Leaving the Chron

According to this post on the National Book Critics Circle blog, Oscar Villalon is stepping down as editor of the books section as of August 29th. Here’s an interview with him from two years ago. I don’t know the exact story yet, but as newspaper book sections all around the country are shrinking or disappearing, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this turned out to be another step towards eliminating the book section altogether.

Another restaurant knocked over, despite attempts to rally residents

Despite efforts by community and business figures to rally Oakland residents to ignore a recent rash of takeover-style restaurant robberies and come out to eat, bandits last night hit another Oakland restuarant, forcing customers and staff into a back room, robbing them, then cleaning out the register.

Oakland residents, horrified that the crime wave hit upscale neighborhoods, demonstrated last night on yuppified College Ave. with candles and flashlights. The robbery took place several blocks west, on less yuppified Shattuck Ave. See a map on the Chronicle’s website of the summer crime spree.

Appeals court rules against SF jail strip searches

A federal appeals court has ruled that thousands of strip-searches of detainees at the San Francisco jail were illegal.

The decision applies to strip searches that were carried out from 2002 to 2004 under a policy that ended in January 2004 when a lower federal court declared the policy illegal.

The decision Friday by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said that “blanket strip searches” — now that’s confusing — “of (newly arrested inmates) regardless of severity of charge and without reasonable suspicion is unconstitutional.” Is a “blanket strip search” one that’s conducted under a blanket?

The ruling pertains to 28,000 incidents that took place from April 2002 to January 2004. Twenty-eight thousand! That’s a lot.

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