Archive for the ‘Mission’ Category

Good Friday: procession through the Mission District


Earlier today I posted about this event in advance; here’s a picture from the actual religious procession through the Mission District. They stopped at several places, including BART stations, the Women’s Building, non-profit organizations and the sites of drive-by shootings, and this closed-down gas station at 23rd and Valencia.

Cracking down on Shotwell Street

I posted before about the Shotwell Street Neighborhood Watch program in the Mission. Recently I was forwarded an email from Captain Tacchini of the Mission Police Station. I was very pleased to find out how much effort and resulting success they have had literally outside my door.

Greetings ,

I am sorry for the delay in my response to you, but I just returned from a
few days away. There is lots going on in your neighborhood from a police
perspective, all of it positive. We are concentrating on the prostitution,
traffic, drug, and gang issues with as many resources as we can muster.
Officers have made several good arrests in the surrounding area for street
robberies, narcotics, violent crimes and other offenses. In addition to
the many prostitution cases, we did a decoy operation yesterday in the area
where we utilize an undercover female officer. It worked very well and
resulted in several arrests. Over the past couple of days, arrests of
suspects for pimping and in possession of illegal weapons were made in the
area of 18th & Shotwell. There is more to discuss, but I prefer to do so
next week, so please bear with me.

Best Regards,

Captain Stephen Tacchini
Mission Police Station

Have horse?

OK CorralThe obscurity never really dawned on me until now, but you can buy a saddle for a horse at OK Corral Western & Work Wear right smack in the middle of the Mission. Is there a stable nearby that I don’t know about?

Don’t get me wrong, I like fun surprises like this. I am genuinely curious as to how many saddles they sell, who buys them, and where the horses are that wear them.

Ashes to ashes

It’s a few days late, but if you were around 24th and Mission on Wednesday evening, you might have wondered just what was going on. I snagged this write-up from a church listserv and got the permission of the author, journalist Deb Tullmann, to repost it.

“Hey, did you know today is Ash Wednesday?” a hipster spoke into his phone as 15 black cassocks passed him on 24th Street a block from the Bart station. We joined three Brazilian drummers, censed a makeshift altar, and read and prayed. People poured out of the station. Some stopped to take pictures and videos from their phones, some tried to redirect the crowd’s attention, and then gradually (who did it first?) the moment of realization, or curiosity or something… Then people began to come forward. How many? It’s hard to say. People stopped, stood on the fringes of the service, a circle formed. The kids couldn’t keep their eyes off the thuribles’ arc.

Sara Miles came over. “Want to come with me to Mission Pie and Dianda’s?” We walked through litter and chaos and people knew what we were up to. Words seemed unnecessary in this moment of intense presence, when the fingers touch the temple and time stops over and over and over. A man ran up to Sara and said something in Spanish as she smiled and gave him his ashes. He bolted back to his car (temporarily abandoned in the right lane, horns around him blaring), hopped back in and drove away. Dianda’s bakery wanted ashes too; I half laughed and half cried as Sara reached around the huge cake in one woman’s arms as she stretched her head closer and closer. Babies, thugs, teenagers, businessmen, it went on and on. I’ve been thinking. About what it felt like to swing a thurible in front of trash cans and storefronts. About secular and sacred practices of Lent and how the two bleed into each other. About something Sara said on our way back to the station: “I think people might want a lot more church than we give them.”

"Just say No!" to rude Bouncers

Scene with the Doorman from "Knocked Up"I really think that the days of douchenozzle bouncers is over. Or should be. Last night I was out in the Mission with some friends and patronized a few bars. The door guys at 500 Club, Doc’s and Bender’s were all their laid back, cool Mission hipster selves but the guy at Laszlo’s was totally out of place.

A friend told us to meet him at Laszlo’s but to go in through the Foreign Cinema door, so we did. As we were walking down the hall the bouncer came running after us (in his dress pants and white running shoes no less) and started yelling at us about going the wrong way. We complied and went back the way we came in and then proceeded to go in the Laszlo door. He stopped us and said we had to pay a $5 cover. It was 1:30AM and we were flabbergasted. All we wanted to do was say hi to someone and leave and we explained this to him. He was really rude and pretty much turned his back on us. There was no way after that we were going to patronize a business that wants to be represented by someone with a bad attitude.

Why is it that some bouncers think it’s necessary to act like a complete ass to people that aren’t causing any trouble? I thought they were there to keep out the riffraff and to manage any issues that arise with unsavory types. I’m not saying that he should have waived the cover charge, I’m just saying that we were not purposefully causing any trouble, and there was no need for him to be a jerk. Due to that experience at least 4 people will never return to Laszlo’s again and maybe others that read Yelp reviews like my buddy Andrei’s and will choose to not go there.

Your experience at a bar starts with the doorman and if they are total jerks then why bother going if there are a lot of other choices, especially in the Mission.

A plastic bag will do in a pinch


I saw this woman zipping up Mission St. this afternoon during a steady rain, plastic bags protecting both her laundry and her head.

IndieFest: "Abraham Obama" at the Roxie (Quick Notice)

Today at 12:30, San Francisco IndieFest presents the world premiere of Abraham Obama. It’s a film about Ron English, who created the image of the same name, and the nationwide tour he and a bunch of other artists took in the run up to the Denver convention and beyond, to lend their support to the Obama campaign. Jet Set Graffiti went along on the tour to capture all the shenanigans, and this hour-long film is the resulting product. If you’re interested, you can check out my interview with Ron English over here at Juxtapoz Magazine.

For further reading, check out Jet Set Graffiti and see all the other cool stuff the filmmakers have been up to.

IndieFest: "Circus Rosaire" at the Roxie, Sun 2/15 at 2:45


[Image courtesy Progressive Productions.]

For nine generations, the Rosaire family has been training animals to perform in the circus. At the height of their fame they were a headline act, performing before royalty and at the White House. But times have changed for the circus, and the Rosaires have had to change with it. It’s no longer a glamorous profession, and attendance is down so much that the three-ring circus is largely a thing of the past. And animal acts in particular are less popular than they used to be, largely because of charges of cruelty levelled against trainers as a whole.

However, such charges could never stick to the Rosaires, who treat their animals with enormous respect and love, and who have made a large collective commitment to their animals: they keep them for life, often for decades beyond their performing years, on the family’s extensive property in Sarasota, Florida. And they even take in animals that other trainers can no longer support.

As a result, the Rosaires are getting squeezed financially, between running a sanctuary for exotic animals on the one hand, and the increasing difficulty of booking shows on the other. Circus Rosaire chronicles five years in the family’s life from an intimate perspective. That’s because the director, Robyn Bliley, and her mother, Sheila Segerson (who served as producer), have been friends of the family for decades, and the Rosaires granted the filmmakers unprecedented access to their lives.

It was a labor of love for Bliley and her husband (and DP) Chad Wilson, whose production company, Progressive Productions, is best known for broadband music videos. “Whenever we had some extra nickels and dimes, we’d go shoot,” Bliley said in an interview this morning, held jointly with Wilson and Segerson. Wilson added: “It was a small budget, but we raised it ourselves, through hard work.” This approach required them to shoot the film in sporadic intervals of several days at a time. In this way, from September 2002 through late 2007, Bliley and Wilson accumulated 350 hours of footage.

During all that time, the Rosaires allowed Bliley and Wilson to chronicle their struggles, something of their private lives, and even some moments of raw grief. They even captured what turned out to be the family patriarch’s last performance after a lifetime in show business. It’s really a remarkable glimpse into a world you’d probably never otherwise see.

And I guarantee that you’ve never before seen a chimpanzee barbecuing vegetarian shish-kabobs and steak — the former for himself, the latter for his human family. “Newton would cook for me,” Segerson said, referring to the same chimp. “He’d make tea, he’d make sandwiches,” on the mere suggestion of his human mother, Pam. “She’d say, ‘Newton, why don’t you make her a sandwich?’ And he’d go to the fridge, get the bread, cheese and ham, put it all together, and bring it to me!” Segerson beamed. “It was the coolest thing.”

Circus Rosaire ends with the family performing together on their property for the first time in fifty years, leaving the viewer wondering how things are going for them now. As it turns out, they have performed together every year since that show, and they are slowly making a transition away from travelling performances to giving educational shows right there on their sanctuary. Because in the end it’s not really about the performances for the Rosaires — it’s really about the well-being of the animals in their care. “They are not regular circus-animal trainers,” Bliley emphasized. “They live, breathe, and even drink their animals — they are family to them, even kids.”

Circus Rosaire plays at the Roxie tomorrow, February 15th, at 2:45 PM. Trailer here.

IndieFest: "Let Them Know" and "Skills Like This" at the Roxie, 7:15 and 9:30

IndieFest is showing two films at the Roxie tonight that I want to tell you about: Let Them Know and Skills Like This.

Let Them Know, at 7:15, is the story of Youth Brigade and the record label they founded, BYO Records (that’s for Better Youth Organization, not Bring Your Own). The film interviews and name-checks just about everyone involved in the LA punk scene from the early 1980s on. If you liked Attitude, you’ll definitely like this closer look at one particular scene, as seen through the eyes of an important label. (Trailer here.)

Skills Like This, screening at 9:30, is a completely different animal. It’s a comedy about a failed writer, Max Solomon (Spencer Berger) who discovers his real talent: grand larceny. Berger makes me think simultaneously of Dan Akroyd and Bill Murray, and the capsule review describes the film as “a fast and furious comic ride about the lengths to which the disaffected will go to achieve their dreams.” The film won the Audience Award for Narrative Film at South by Southwest in 2007. (Trailer here.)

IndieFest: "Harrison Montgomery" at the Roxie, 7:15 tonight

Harrison Montgomery

One of the IndieFest films I got a chance to preview this week was Harrison Montgomery, which plays tonight at the Roxie and on the 20th at the Shattuck. It’s a strong ensemble film about a petty drug dealer and aspiring artist who, in the aftermath of a deal gone extremely bad, gets wrapped up in the lives of his neighbors. It stars Martin Landau as the title character, Octavio Gomez Berrios (Guerrilla) as the drug dealer, and Melora Walters (Magnolia, Boogie Nights) as the fetching older woman — luckily enough, also an aspiring artist — who lives across the hall with her daughter and jerk boyfriend. Look out! The film is very engaging, with several unexpected formal elements and a strong component of magical realism. It also builds up to an ending I guarantee you won’t predict, and you’ll be swept away by it.

It’s a San Francisco film all the way through. Not only were director Daniel Davila and producer Karim Ahmad both based here, but the film was shot entirely in the Tenderloin, on the block or two around Hotel Boyd, where the exteriors and some interiors were shot, and in a housing compound in the Presidio, where the rest of the interiors were done.

This is the very end of the film’s festival run; Davila and Ahmad told me, in an interview yesterday, that they view these screenings as a sort of homecoming for the film. Ahmad said that they were in negotiations for a commercial US release, so tonight (and the 20th in Berkeley) is your last chance to see it before everyone else does.

Trailer here.

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