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The Year in Review: Nudity! Yachting! Marmots! And BART Sex! 

Wednesday, Dec 25 2013

This is the year of ... what? No one event is adequate to explain it. When you study all the events of 2013 with a deep enough focus, the image becomes noise. You're staring at pixels. How to pull meaning out of this goddamn absurdity? We've been doing it at this paper for a year, but really, aren't we just constructing a narrative, like the way images begin to take shape and move among the static on an unsignaled TV? (Remember when TVs had static?) Seems like the things that make the most sense are the most absurd. For that reason, we shall add to the menagerie of the Chinese zodiac one more animal: This shall be the Year of the Drunken Marmot, after the animal that hitched a ride from the Sierras to Bernal Heights to quench a terrible thirst for antifreeze. It seems as appropriate as anything else; this is, after all, a city making way for strange outsiders.

2013 could also be the Year of the Defiant Perineum, or the Year of the Overpromised Boat Race, or the Year of the Cab Which Is Not a Cab. The Year of BuzzFood and Overpowering Musical Nostalgia and Abandoned Chess Boards. On and on. Maybe it's good there isn't a single through-line for the year. Who'd want to live in that simple of a narrative? This, our Year in Review, pulls the knotted-up power cords of 2013 from behind the desk and tries to unravel them. The Year of Knots? Well, that's not quite it, but it's a start. Brandon R. Reynolds

Clothing is Not an Option
In 2012, the known world had a good laugh at a man named Wiener introducing legislation banning most forms of public nudity. In San Francisco, we had a different name for this occasion: Tuesday.

The city's "urban nudists" didn't just take unkindly to Supervisor Scott Wiener's legislation barring them from exposing their "genitals, perineum, or anal region" across the city. They made a federal case of it. On Jan. 17, 2013, in front of an audience of clothed nudists, Judge Edward Chen took in the arguments of the city and the nudists' attorney. For anyone who harbored a lifelong ambition to witness a federal judge quoting Justice David Souter's opinion regarding naked dancing — this was the place to be.

In the end, Chen roundly rejected the plaintiffs' arguments, handing the city an unambiguous victory in its battle against free-swinging genitalia. The nudists aren't taking this dressing down without a fight, but they will have to find a new lawyer; lead plaintiff Gypsy Taub told SF Weekly that attorney Christina DiEduardo dropped the case after the nudists failed to pay her.

But while she lost her case, Taub did find love. She and husband Jaymz Smith were married on the City Hall steps on Dec. 19. And, yes, they were naked.

Mazel tov! Joe Eskenazi

The Squaring of Market Street
When the owners of Kaplan's Surplus & Sport Goods announced plans to retire their business and sell the 90-foot-long building they own on Market Street, nostalgists saw the end of not just an era, but an epoch. The yellowing posters, vintage Brazilian cleats, and satin Knicks jackets in Kaplan's inventory would all go to dust; in their place, new owner G and M Hospitality would build a 100-room hotel for San Francisco's well-heeled tourists and newly minted business class.

It was just one more domino to fall in the grand restoration of mid-Market, which had transformed, over the last century, from a bustling theater district to a den of blight and squalor, until Mayor Ed Lee juked the city's tax code to lure in Twitter. With the "Twitter tax break" enhanced by a voter-approved payroll tax that favors tech over other industries, a slew of new companies joined the fray. Yammer, One Kings Lane, and ZenDesk all accompanied Twitter to a rehabbed furniture store at 1355 Market — now rechristened Market Square — while the ride-share start-up Uber and mobile payments company Square Inc. moved in down the street. A massive land-grab ensued, with Michelin star restaurants displacing the old greasy-spoon diners, and luxury housing erected to satisfy the wealthy pied-a-terre types. Highbrow institutions like the SFMOMA and American Conservatory Theater launched vast remodeling campaigns, while their smaller peers struggled to stay afloat.

This year, the narrative about mid-Market shifted. It had long been a battleground for development, but now it's become a perfect gentrification allegory — a kind of visual tableau of tech money displacing San Francisco's boot-strapped nonprofits and art houses. Supervisors David Chiu and Jane Kim have struggled to save the vestiges of a previous era, but they may face an uphill battle as commercial real estate balloons to $80 a square foot. When McDonald's made a bid for a spot occupied by and Indian-vegetarian diner at the intersection of Hayes and Ninth streets, even Lee's biggest pro-development cheerleaders balked.

Former Mayor Gavin Newsom had dreamed that mid-Market would become the Champs-Élysées of San Francisco, but detractors say it more closely resembles Wall Street. And as such, it's become a major battle line in the gentrification wars — a place where labor organizers picket the new tech tenants, while cash-strapped nonprofits beg the mayor to siphon off affordable real estate. When the city banned street chess, Occupy protesters geared up for war.

Development shows no sign of slowing in San Francisco's most-contested retail corridor, and the class wars are starting to heat up. They'll persist until every last nonprofit is priced out, and every arts organization crumbles, and even the city's homeless have to migrate to Oakland. Rachel Swan

Crash Landing: Asiana and Its Aftermath
It would be wholly accurate — albeit a slight understatement — to describe the July 6 crash of Asiana Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport as "a concatenation of horribles." New documents released by the National Transportation Safety Board this month reveal that 16-year-old passenger Ye Meng Yuan was run over by not one, but two San Francisco fire rigs as they rushed to rescue the victims. And the first vehicle to hit her was properly equipped with both a heat sensor and "spotter," contrary to previous reports.

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  • 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.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

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