Archive for September, 2008

Books: Lethem, Marcus

Tomorrow night literary great Jonathan Lethem, author of many fine tomes (most of which I can vouch for), is going to appear in conversation with Greil Marcus, author of, seemingly, seven million equally wonderful words on American culture in general, rock music in particular. (Fun fact: Marcus wrote the preface to Luc Sante’s latest, which I just finished reading yesterday.) Their “convo” will take place 8:00 PM in Kanbar Hall at the Jewish Community Center, 3200 California Street. Tix $10-$18.

Dog Mauling Daze Are Here Again

Just when you’d all but forgotten the story of the blood thirsty Presa Canarios that haunted the halls of a certain Pac Heights apartment tower, it seems the tawdry tale truly refuses to die.

This week, Marjorie Knoller, was back in court and sentenced, yet again. Knoller was the strange little woman whose giant dogs attacked and killed her neighbor, a college lacrosse instructor named Diane Whipple, back in 2001. The trial stirred up plenty of sordid details, including the pet owners’ “adoption” of an adult white supremacist convict they represented as attorneys, whose dogs they were apparently raising on his behalf.

The case was always controversial, and since a judge threw out the original jury’s second-degree murder conviction in 2002, an odd and continuing legal tug of war has existed between competing benches. In 2007, The California Supreme Court had ruled Knoller’s eventual 4 year sentence for a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter was inadequate. She would need to return to jail.

Knoller, who completed a four year stint (living in Florida and apparently estranged from her former husband who was paroled in 2003) has been brought back to California for re-sentencing that occured this morning. Little Marjorie is now expected to finish a “15 Years to Life” sentence, with eligibility for parole in 10 years when she’ll be 63 years old. The judge reportedly admonished Knoller and fined her as well, including almost $7000 in prison earnings…

Knoller’s attorney, Dennis Riordan, said they plan to file an appeal.

Bow Wow Yipee Yo Yippe Yay!

North Beach/Chinatown Political CheatSheet

North Beach from Coit Tower Yikes there’s a lot of people running for the District 3 Seat. OK I’m going to create a little cheat-sheet, and update it as I get more information (as this will take forever to write). Feel free to add in comments corrections/additions. I picked out four major issues:

  • Crime: escalating homicides, and the ongoing Broadway Corridor issues.
  • Development: everyone’s abuzz with the plywood-ing of North Beach, and general development efforts (letting in chains, not letting in chains, spot zoning, etc.).
  • Transportation: The Central Freeway is coming! And, well, the usual suckiness of the 30-Stockton crowded scene on Grant St. any given day, and oh, the rudeness of drivers… cycling hostility, I could go on.
  • Rental Protection: Whether you’re for it or against it, it’s an expensive city and people get elbowed out- like our firemen & teachers, and rising rental rates mean less interesting mom & pop stores.

The chart reflects my notes made from the candidates’ web sites and not any other journalistic writeup, observations, conversations or gossip (that’s at the end!).

M. DeNunzio W. Pang D. Chiu
Crime MD: a priority, not top WP: unknown/low DC: former DA, high priority
Rental Protection MD: Important, as he’s into senior services WP: unknown/low DC: high priority & a plan
Development MD: Very strong, pro-development, though no plan WP: Lots of ideas, very important, lots of energy. DC: focus on small business & merchant corridors
Transportation MD: into transportation spending WP: unknown/low DC: cyclist & bus rider, high priority
L. Johnson J. Alioto C. Cheng T. Gantner
Crime LJ: foot patrols, after-school plan, SAFE. Top priority. JA: foot patrols. CC: n/a, active in homelessness (as assoc. with Crime) TG: foot patrols & meet weekly with Central Station
Rental Protection LJ: pro workforce-housing, not jus subsidized JA: unknown/low priority CC: active in community benefits TG: unknown/low priority
Development LJ: a priority, end to spot zoning, work with Planning dept. JA: incentives for new merchants. CC: focused on world trade relationships TG: a priority- active in Merchant Assoc.
Transportation LJ: unknown/not a priority JA: unknown/low priority. CC: Currently very active in RENEW SF and other transit committees TG: unknown/low priority

Candidate Sites:
Lynn Jefferson (LJ)
Wilma Pang (WP)
Joe Alioto, Jr. (JA)
Claudine Cheng (CC)
David Chiu (DC)
Tony Gantner (TG)
Mike DeNunzio (MD)

More reading:
Extra! ‘Culture of fear’ stalks Grant Avenue! by Tony Long

Joe Aliot, Jr. Enters SF Sentinel

District 3 – S.F.’s hottest supervisorial race Wyatt Buchanan of SF Gate

Opinion & Hearsay
So, I know someone who knows someone in the David Chiu campaign, and he sounds neat. I met Lynn at a fundraiser, and she was nice and eager to fix things. I walk by the Alioto headquarters every day. I haven’t really noticed my favorite shops endorsing one candidate or another. I’m mostly concerned, personally, with transportation and the plywood issue. I’m impressed with Connie’s Angel Island experience, that’s a really interesting bipartisan, historical and cultural level. Wilma has some energy and interest, and I like the global perspective that the Chinatown candidates have.

The issue with this race is that the 3 major areas- North Beach, Downtown & Chinatown – require someone who doesn’t have a real core bias, and can manage the peripheral, but also important areas- North Waterfront, Russian Hill & Telegraph Hill. If you get someone really entrenched with the residential communities like Lynn or Alioto, you miss out on the other areas- same with a Chinatown vote, as well as city-wide concerns (as transit is important across the city of course). So I looked at the more well-rounded candidates, that seem to target and address the issues that I’m mostly concerned with, and ended up with… drumroll please… David Chiu. Note: subject to change.

Saturday night

Tonight and tomorrow only, mugwumpin‘s theater piece super.anti.reluctant is performed for the last times before they take it to the International Theater Festival in Cairo. Call 415-621-7978 for tickets.

The Treasure Island Music Festival is happening, with Justice headlining. But you don’t drive there; you to to the parking lot by AT&T Park and take a bus from there.

Tom Stoppard’s Rock and Roll, a play about would-be rock stars in Stoppard’s native Czecholslovakia, opened last night at American Conservatory Theater.

Tonight: Vive le Rock Indie Showcase

Vive Le Rock IV

Vive Le Rock IV

Vive le Rock continues its run tonight at Mr. Smith’s (34 7th St) starting 8:00 PM, cover charge $7. The show will consist of music from the masterminds behind the series, Oakland’s own Gosta Berling, and the guest band will be The Sleepover Disaster from Fresno, an awesome group that has achieved a certain measure of recognition lately. The music is going to accompany a bunch of presumably funny, morbid films by Waylon Bacon, a local filmmaker who has shown at the San Francisco Underground Film Festival and The Fright Night Film Festival. Or maybe his films are going to accompany the music. Both statements are true. An event page with press release describing the series and tonight’s show in more detail is here on Yelp.

Plastic Bag Ban Update: Gap

union square This is my small world: kind of oddly upset that Gap gave me clothes in a plastic bag, and that none of the retail workers knew what the f** I was talking about- SF’s plastic bag ban. Heck, even Walgreens is giving me stuff in a paper bag (when I can’t cram it in my purse). This was Gap Kids in Union Square.

"Meals" in North Beach

Lunch in north beach
So two things to read- Nevius’ article in SF Gate, on North Beach planning effort hinges on a meal” and Eater SF’s rundown, Drying of North Beach. Lively comments on both- mostly Peskin baiting (when is he out again?) and bitterness over a lot of restaurant closures. Not to be flippant, but really the graffiti on the old theater across from Washington Square Park says it all: “No more plywood.” I feel like we’re cutting off our nose despite our face. Come on people, we can figure something out, and it’s not obscure planning codes regarding “what’s a meal.”

Nancy’s a Natural @ Naturalization This Saturday

This Saturday is Nancy Pelosi’s annual free workshop for future citizens to be delivered at a location on the edge of the Civic Center neighborhood… (I wonder if any of the notorious immigrant crack dealers with “Amnesty” who work around the corner near Hyde & Golden Gate will drop by…)

Hell’s Angels Massive Hog Ride Down Market Street

Brock Keeling just got his wish for a massive hog ride through SF: Papa Guardado’s funeral must be over, because at least five hundred (and up to one thousand) big guys on big bikes just rumbled down Market Street towards the Ferry Building. Wow. I was having lunch at Azteca on Church at the time and almost everybody in the place — staff and patrons alike — abandoned the place to watch the unending stream of motorcycles go by. Even most of the kitchen staff came out for a quick look before running back in. The only exception was one jaded soul, a San Francisco old-timer who has undoubtedly seen everything already, knew what it was, and probably thought “so it’s a bunch of guys on motorcycles, so what.”

It was such an impressive sight I completely forgot to take out my cell phone and shoot video; I forgot that I had a cell phone. I went back in and finished my lunch, and when I came out, the motorcycles were still going past.

I walked up to the corner of Market and Church, outside the bank there, to get a better look; the procession was followed up by a couple of awesome, low-slung 50’s convertibles, one glossy black and the other candy-apple red — don’t ask me what make or model, I’m not a car guy — and one poor soul in a red minivan who probably didn’t really mean to get ahead of the convertible and was probably just trying to get to Highway 101 before 12:30.

Once the whole procession had passed, I looked back down Church: people were standing outside of every business, still gaping. The people on my corner, mostly bank employees, looked worried; on the corner on the other side of Church stood the manager of Crepevine. In contrast to the bank people, he was smoking a cigarette and grinning the biggest grin I’ve seen on anybody’s face for quite a while.

Well, let’s hope that whatever they do downtown, it stays peaceful. I haven’t heard sirens yet.

[I’ll post video if anybody uploads something to YouTube. Wait, did I say “if?” I meant “when.”]

Nagano to conduct for last time at Berkeley Symphony

Kent Nagano is leaving his post as Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony, but not before conducting one last concert on Thursday, Sep. 18.

The program at Zellerbach Hall on the UC Berkeley campus features Mozart’s Symphony no. 41, Bruckner’s Symphony no. 7, and a tribute fanfare commissioned by the organization to honor Nagano’s service.

Nagano, who also has posts at the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and the Bavarian State Opera, remained with the Berkeley Symphony long after he had become a world-famous conductor. His production of Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges with the Opéra National de Lyon came to San Francisco several years ago, and it remains the best single live performance I’ve seen in my life.

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