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House Of Tudor 

Compulsive Numbers, retro-refracted Flaming Stars, and filmmaker Peter Sempel

Wednesday, May 1 2002
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Numbers' full-length debut opens with "I'm Shy," an essential song of exorcism for lead singer/drummer Indra Dunis, and for any girl habitually accused of being uninterested, stuck up, or dreary. "I'm shy!" she stridently declares over the atonal hum of Eric Landmark's keyboard and the sawtooth ferocity of Dave Broekema's guitar. "You think I'm bored/ Maybe sad/ A total drag," suggests Landmark; "I'm shy!" clarifies Dunis again. Not since the Stinkypuffs' 1995 anthem "I'm Gross/No You're Not" has a song brought me such childlike glee and existential relief. In burying the simplest of facts within an arachnid web of compulsive, garage-y new wave, Dunis turns stating the obvious into a radical act. She writes about minor difficulties with telephones, intercoms, commuting, and folks who are just too cool to say hi; on "We Like Having These Things," she avows, "I am consumer. ... What I want I can't ignore," amid a torrent of tiddlywinks-esque bleeps and irate outbursts of guitar. While devout fans enjoy painting fake mustaches on their faces and bouncing around like nitro-powered pogo sticks, everyone is invited to celebrate the ridiculously mundane nature of his own life at a Numbers show. Numbers perform with the Coachwhips on Wednesday, May 1, at the Peacock Lounge (552 Haight) with A Tension and the Quails opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 621-9850. Numbers and Erase Errata will be featured later that night on Burn My Eye, Virgil Porter's new local cable music show, on Channel 29 at midnight.


Led by a velvet-voiced organ player with a penchant for 1920s slang, England's Flaming Stars simmer between the overstated melodrama of the Tindersticks' Curtains and the understated savoir-faire of Mick Harvey's tribute to Serge Gainsbourg. On Ginmill Perfume, a collection of 15 songs hailing from albums released in England over the last five years, Max Decharne coos and snarls as drones from a Farfisa keyboard drip off the walls like candle wax; bossa nova bass lines and surf guitar riffs flicker in smoky climes rife with characters better suited to a dime-store paperback. The retro-refracted sound isn't wholly unique, but it is impeccably executed, and unlike other Bad Seeds aficionados, Decharne is exceptionally literate without taking himself too seriously, hence the punkabilly freakouts that make dancing almost unavoidable. The Flaming Stars perform on Thursday, May 2, at the Great American Music Hall with Iowaska and Phantom Limbs opening at 7:30 p.m. and Jello Biafra acting as MC. Tickets are $10-12; call 885-0750.


Cosmopolitan lotus-eater and fringe filmmaker Peter Sempel was born in Hamburg but raised in the Australian Outback, where he was deprived of utilities and befriended by a lazy kangaroo. The influence of his rearing can be felt as much as seen in the grainy compositions and quality of light with which Sempel builds his celluloid collages. While his subjects are most often intensely urban, larger than life, and neoteric by nature -- Einstürzende Neubauten's Blixa Bargeld, Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister, Berlin new wave diva Nina Hagen, 84-year-old mime/female impersonator Kazuo Ohno, the Gun Club's Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Australian expat Nick Cave, actor Dennis Hopper, and filmmaker Kenneth Anger, to name a few -- the images Semple creates around them are as intimate, as strange, and as beautiful as an old sun-bleached photograph found in a forgotten starlet's attic. This month's 20-year retrospective begins with 1999's Nina Hagen: Punk and Glory, which presents 15 years' worth of footage and interviews with and about the oddball cosmic siren, and ends with 1988's Dandy, a post-punk musical very loosely based on Voltaire's Candide. Jonas in the Desert, an artful biography of independent film director Jonas Mekas -- which includes interviews with Andy Warhol, Al Pacino, Yoko Ono, and Martin Scorsese, among others -- is also scheduled, as well as shorts on Allen Ginsberg, Patti Smith, Wim Wenders, Cave, and Bargeld (the last two make appearances in nearly every Sempel project). And, of course, the wonderful sound collages that accompany Sempel's work are also reflections of the company he keeps. Sempel will appear in person at the first two screenings, Tuesday, May 7, and Thursday, May 9, at 7:30 p.m. at the Goethe-Institut (530 Bush). Two more screenings take place Tuesday, May 14, and Thursday, May 16. Tickets are $5; call 263-8760.

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Silke Tudor

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Slideshows

  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

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