Archive for September, 2008

Farewell, Omar Vizquel

Omar Vizquel, the magically graceful shortstop employed by the Giants for the last four seasons, has turned his last double play for the team, General Manager Brian Sabean said in an extensive interview Monday with reporters. Asked about the future of the 41-year-old eleven-time Gold Glove winner, Sabean said the chances of Vizquel returning to the team were “zero.”

Vizquel’s last at-bat in Sunday’s final game was a satisfying slap hit, raising his career total to 2,657. The rennaissance man and well-known dandy — who also dances, sings, and paints — broke the record this year for most games ever played at the shortstop position, finishing with 2,680.

The Giants are transitioning to a more youthful team, moving from 2006, when they had the oldest lineup in the league, to this year when they had 18 rookies make their major league debut with the team, including 23-year-old Emmanuel Burriss, who is slated to take over Vizquel’s position.

Vizquel will be fondly remembered by Giants fans, who gave him a long standing ovation and curtain call Sunday when he was removed from the game after taking the field in the top of the fifth inning. He is even more revered in Cleveland, where he played eleven seasons, leading the Indians to a World Series championship. When the Giants played the Indians there this year, it was Vizquel’s first return in another uniform, and he was given a highlight tribute and several long ovations.

Vizquel has said he wants to continue playing — if not in the U.S. next year, perhaps in Japan.

Books: Rally for Banned Books

Tomorrow, October 1st, there will be a free event on the Main Library steps from noon until 1:30: the Rally for Banned Books. The event features local authors reading from their favorite banned books. I guess it’s a kind of warm up for Litquake, which starts Friday.

Readers tomorrow will include Tamim Ansary, Justin Chin, Jane Ganahl, Leah Garchik, Kathi Kamen Goldmark, Jewelle Gomez, Kemble Scott, April Sinclair (April Sinclair!), Kevin Smokler, K.M. Soehnlein, and it will be moderated by Jack Hirschman. What a lineup!

It turns out that the last week of September is Banned Book Week. (Amusingly, the press release from the library refers to it once as BBW; somebody should tell them the acronym is spoken for.) Observance of Banned Book Week, which is sponsored by every national book- and library-related organization, is meant to “remind Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom [the freedom to read] for granted,” according to the press release. It goes on: “Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. Intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.”

The Big — Dare I Say, GIGANTIC — Book Sale

Big Book Sale
[Image via.]

Well, the 44th annual Big Book Sale hosted by the Friends of the Public Library started yesterday, but have no fear — the sale will continue today and tomorrow from 10 to 8, and on Sunday from 10 to 6. All books on Sunday will be priced down to $1 or less! The Friends contend that it’s the largest book sale on the West Coast, and I’d believe it. It’s being held, as usual, at lovely Fort Mason, in the Festival Pavillion. Just go to Fort Mason — you can’t miss it!

This sale is truly staggering, by the way. The picture above is of last year’s sale, and it nicely conveys the scope. (It comes from this great post on the anonymous blog, Tea & Cookies.) You could easily pick up a year’s reading for less than $50. Normally I’m such a restrained person in bookstores: because of the relatively high cost of new books, I almost never purchase one unless I’m certain I will benefit from it. Fifteen bucks per paperback adds up, never mind hardcovers! But at library book sales, all prudence goes out the window. Not only are the books cheap, but according to the Friends page, all the proceeds “fund education programs that promote literacy for children, teens and adults. Last year, over $250,000 was raised for San Francisco’s libraries.” How can you resist that? It’s a license to splurge. Last year my wife and I took public transportation specifically to limit the amount we could bring home, and we still ended up staggering up the big hill to our house with a huge bag stuffed with books. But it was worth it, I think. I’d be more certain of that if I could still remember what we bought.

Friday Night: Pick Locks Not Pockets at 826 Valencia

Earlier this afternoon I walked past 826 Valencia and saw a notice for this cool, typically whimsical event posted in the window:

Join artist Lucas Murgida as he completes a three-year traveling art project which began here in the 826 front window. This installation of The Locksmithing Institute will kick off with a reception in the Pirate Store, where refreshments and a demonstration on opening doors without keys will be enjoyed by all.

In February of 2005, The Locksmithing Institute conducted its first class at 826 Valencia. Here students were taught how to liberate themselves from their everyday shackles in a series of lock-picking courses. Since that time, the Institute has traveled all over the Western Hemisphere and has taught hundreds of students in Portland, New York, Oakland, San Francisco, Baltimore, Boston, and Uruguay a host of locksmithing skills such as how to pick locks, make keys, find keys, lose keys, and how not to pick locks. Click here for more details.

On Friday, September 26, the eleventh and final lesson of The Locksmithing Institute will begin at 826 Valencia. Incoming students will be given the opportunity to test their meddle in the Institute’s mobile locking window display classroom. Tuition is free, all ages are welcome, no experience is necessary, and keys are not required.

The event will run from 6-8 PM tomorrow night, Friday 26th. Unfortunately, I’m going to be down in Santa Cruz for most of the day, but I’m going to try really hard to be back in time for this!

[Event text taken directly from 826 Valencia; another heads-up from SF Funcheap.]

Chronicle books section loses two editors in a few months

As reported by SF Weekly, the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle’s books section, Regan McMahon, has accepted a buyout and will leave the newspaper. McMahon had been books editor only a few months. She was promoted to the post when Oscar Villalon, who had helmed the section for several years, accepted a buyout in August.

According to the report, McMahon was assured by Chronicle managers that the paper would continue the 8-page tabloid section, which is now a pullout from the slightly longer Insight section of the Sunday paper. The moves come as newspapers across the country continue to hemorrhage money, with arts coverage being particularly vulnerable.

J.T. Snow re-signed for one day so he can retire as a Giant

Former Giants All Star first baseman J.T. Snow — seen at left during 2005, his last season with the Giants — has signed a one-day contract with the team so he can retire as a Giant.

Most recently, Snow has been a part-time broadcaster, part-time coach for the Giants, for whom he played from 1997 to 2005. A free agent in 2006, he signed with the Boston Red Sox but played little and announced his retirement during the 2006 winter meetings.

Rumors that the Giants’ “major announcement regarding J.T. Snow” meant him being named as team manager, or anything else, proved false.

Election 1935: Vote Yes on the Subway

Greg Dewar over at The N-Judah Chronicles has written a post that just can’t be improved, so I’m going to quote it in full:

Blast from the Past: The ORIGINAL Plan to Build a Market St. Tunnel – in 1935!

I have an RSS reader full of wonderful news and blogs, and one that never fails to provide the transit pr0n is The Overhead Wire, which reports on transity goodness from around the country.

Thanks to the good people at TOW, I caught this YouTube video of the first proposal to build a Market Street subway system. It is interesting to watch and see SF as the “City That Knows How,” a city that built things and made things happen (as opposed to now, where it’s the City That Knows How To Bitch).

It’s also interesting to see the argument for bus service (also called “trackless trolleys”) which were touted as a way to speed things up. If you’ve ever been stuck on a herky-jerky janky bus, you know that didn’t quite work out as planned.

Anyway, check out the video, and hat tip to The Overhead Wire!

The newsreel, in all its historically-rich awesomeness, can be viewed on The N-Judah Chronicles or here on YouTube. Of course, the proposition failed, as would others. BART construction under Market Street eventually began in 1970, and the Muni subway opened in 1978. Thanks, Greg!

Minutemen headed to SF on Thursday

A cadre of patriotic local Minutemen are supposedly headed to SF’s City Hall steps on Thursday afternoon. They plan a rally in front of the gilded dome where our broke city gov’t spares no expense in it’s quest to ignore Federal statutes regarding immigration law and deportation. Among the speakers will be SF native son Frank Kennedy, the brother in law of the late Anthony Bologna, 48, who was tragically murdered by AK-47 alongside his two sons, Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16 in June of this year. The suspect is a known thug, here illegally, who obviously was a solid candidate for prior deportation.

Scene Outside City Hall during last Minutemen protest on 7/31/08 ( pic by Bill Hackwell of )

I imagine an afternoon filled with local news camera crews capturing loud & pointless shouting matches between the Minutemen and left wing activists and Mission District “community organizers” ( insert hearty Giuliani-esque guffaw here). Could be fun for people watchers & those with an interest in colorful signs, chanting & loud bullhorns.

The last time the Minutemen assembled here in July, there were far more counter demonstrators than the dozen-ish flag waving border sealing patriots. To see photos of the mob from, click here.

I’m sure Mayor Newsom will make a point of not being there…
but for everyone else, the fun starts circa 11 am for the amusement of bureaucrats on break and those forced to come to City Hall to plead for a permit or tithe more taxes to the city.

The theme of the two hour Minutemen photo op is

“Protesting innocent American Victims of Illegal Aliens in Illegal Sanctuary Cities!”

Huh? Why are they protesting the innocent victims? What did they do?

Film in the Fog: An American in Paris

An American In Paris

An American In Paris

This Saturday the 27th, the San Francisco Film Society and the Presidio Trust are co-presenting the seventh annual Film in the Fog. This year they’re screening Vincente Minnelli’s 1951 film, An American in Paris, starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. It’s a free outdoor screening on the lawn at the Main Post Theater in the Presidio (99 Moraga Ave), right near where they did Shakespeare in the Park weekend before last. The screening will be preceded at 5:30 by live entertainment from Pi Clowns: The Physical Comedy Troupe, and the screening itself will start at 7:00 with a vintage cartoon and newsreel before the feature. Quoth the Presidio Trust: “Bring a blanket, low lawn chairs and picnic under the stars! Food and drink from the Presidio’s Dish Cafe and Acre Cafe will be available for purchase.” Quoth the Film Society: “As always, it gets a little chilly in the Presidio this time of year, so bring warm clothes and blankets to sit on.” Quoth me: “Brrr!” And anyway, how can you picnic under the stars when the fog is obscuring them? Well, maybe we can give them that one. After all, it might be clear out.

SF writer, reading series host Kirk Read wins nat’l publishing award

Kirk Read, host of the San Francisco reading series Smack Dab and K’vetsh, has won the first award by the Open Door Project, an effort by publishing figure Don Weise to create more opportunities for gay male writers. (Publishing folks know Weise as a former editor at the Avalon Publishing Group, but before that he worked at San Francisco’s Cleis Press.) (Disclosure: Cleis Press has published two of my books.)

Read is a performance artist and HIV activist in San Francisco in addition to his author/impresario roles.

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