Arts & Entertainment

  • Readers' Poll

    Best Local Band/Musician ing Best Radio Station KUSF-FM (90.3) Best Movie Theater Metreon Best Rep Film Theater Castro Best Movie Programming Red Vic Best Movie Theater Snacks Red Vic Best Art Museum SFMOMA Best Art Gallery No winner Best Jukebox 540 Club Best Club No winner Best New Club Sublounge Best Dance Club (Weekends) No winner Best Dance Club (Weeknights) No winner Best Latin Club Roccapulco Best Club Theme Night "Catholic School Girl Night,"… More >>
  • Best Place for an All-in-One Date

    Jezebel's Joint and Microcinema

    The eternal dating-destination dilemma -- movies? music? drinks? dancing? -- is nicely resolved at Jezebel's, which offers all of the above, all in one night. There are two floors in this Tenderloin bar: The tiny "Microcinema" screening room, where rows of hard-backed chairs face a midsize screen, sits on the ground floor adjacent to the bar itself, making for an… More >>
  • Best Place to Commune With 'Toons

    Cartoon Art Museum

    The only museum in the United States dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of cartoon art in all its forms, this little gem -- which got off the ground with a 1987 endowment from Peanuts creator and Santa Rosa native Charles Schulz -- is a show-stopper for 'toon lovers, whether kids or intellectuals. The 6,000 pieces in its permanent collection… More >>
  • Best Web Site for Live Indie Rock Tips

    Playing in Fog

    There are just too many live-music options in San Francisco. How are you supposed to separate the wheat from the chaff, the peanut butter from the jelly, the indie rock buzz from the musical never-was? Even with clubs closing faster than a Catholic squeezes out babies, there are still a shitload of shows to decide among. And in these recessed… More >>
  • Best Marching Band

    Extra Action Marching Band

    "Marching to the beat of a different drummer" doesn't come anywhere near describing the antics of the Extra Action Marching Band, which forever puts to rest the stereotypical image of the "band geek." This 30-person ensemble recasts funk and tribal rhythms in Sousaphonic surround sound, its underdressed pompom squad enticing crowds with its come-hither slither. Semi-led by a stilt-walking, megaphone-shouting… More >>
  • Best Rap Album by Horny Punk Kids

    Gravy Train!!!!'s Hello Doctor

    This is one hip hop record you're not going to hear on the radio -- and not just because it sounds like it cost as much as P. Diddy's daily Cristal bill to make. Oakland's Gravy Train!!!! is as raunchy as they come, mixing its trademark topics of sex and food with a lurid vivaciousness that's addictive. Hello Doctor, the… More >>
  • Best Dorky But Cute Hip Hop Act

    Lil' Pocketknife

    Lil' Pocketknife is one of the odder things to come out of the recent S.F. lo-fi screwball-rock revolution. The trio -- MC and namesake Kristy "LPK" Geschwandtner, "keytar" player George Patterson, and drummer Lynnae Burns -- makes a kind of party rap that's intentionally nerdy and goofball. LPK sticks to its undeniably white, suburban New Jersey roots, offering up songs… More >>
  • Best Local Recording Studio

    Abandon Studios

    Any promising local band will tell you that one of the most stressful things about making music is the sky-high cost of studio space, where every minute spent perfecting an album costs still more money. Home studios are an option, but not everyone has the cash -- let alone an apartment big enough -- to make self-recording a reality. That's… More >>
  • Best Reason Not to Kill Your TV


    There's no good reason to spend your evenings watching reality TV shows when you live in one of the country's biggest creative hubs. But if you must stare at the tube, watch Spark, a KQED-Bay Area Video Coalition documentary series showcasing local performing and fine artists. The long-awaited show -- two years in the making and funded through 2004 --… More >>
  • Best International Dance Party

    The San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival

    What began as a series of small concerts at local cultural centers has evolved into a joyful gathering of tribes. Nowhere is the Bay Area's much-touted diversity more readily apparent than here; on any given bill over three weekends, viewers are likely to find hip-switching Tahitian dancing, hardy Appalachian clogging, or the precise gestures of Indian kathak. Equal parts world… More >>
  • Best Locally Produced Magazine


    Published in Berkeley but distributed nationally, ReadyMade is, to borrow a line from its Web site, "a quarterly print magazine for people who like to make stuff." The colorful, crisply designed pub is most appealing for its extensive array of do-it-yourself projects: everything from recipes and costumes to wall sconces made from trash cans or blenders transformed into lamps. Each… More >>
  • Best Reason to Watch the San Francisco Government Access Channel

    SPCA Pet Adoption Programming

    On those nights you think you've exhausted all surfable channels, remember that San Francisco's government access station isn't all Board of Supervisors meetings and public events announcements. Indeed, the most compelling programming on SFGTV (Channel 26 on your cable dial) is delivered courtesy of the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This occasional slide show of… More >>
  • Best New Zine

    Kitchen Sink

    San Francisco isn't much of a magazine publishing town, but that doesn't stop intrepid writers and editors from flocking to this city and taking a crack at the biz. What do they do when they get here? They get day jobs to pay the rent and at night they churn out cheeky zines like To-Do List, Bitch, Comet, and now… More >>
  • Best Movie Snacks

    "CinemaLit Film Series" at the Mechanics' Institute Library

    Every Friday night, the Mechanics' Institute Library hosts a classic movie in an intimate salon setting complete with cinéastes and chitchat, but what's especially noteworthy is the high quality of grub served up from the little back bar. No economy-size Mountain Dews or Formica-flavored popcorn here; snack instead upon rounds of sourdough topped with cream cheese and smoked salmon or… More >>
  • Best Deco Nightspot

    Bimbo's 365 Club

    Last October, bereft and confused a mere hour or two after the Giants had lost Game 7, we made our way to Bimbo's, much as our more devout fellow fans trekked to Grace Cathedral. It wasn't long before the rattle of the cocktail shaker, the live samba of Brasil 66, the matchlessly swanky setting, and the comeliness of Dolfina the… More >>
  • Best Vertiginous Dancing

    Harry Denton's Starlight Room

    Swinging, clinging, and dipping 21 stories above the asphalt can be a truly celestial experience, especially at the Starlight Room, which offers its dancers unparalleled visual proximity to the cosmos. As you and your partner head onto the dance floor, seduced by the Motown rhythms of the Starlight Orchestra, you'll realize that your terpsichorean backdrop won't be the plywood, concrete,… More >>
  • Best Floor Show

    Peņa PachaMama

    Peņa means "a circle of people coming together" and pachamama means "Mother Earth"; put the two together and you get an idea of what makes this Bolivian restaurant/nightspot so special. In the best mi casa, su casa global tradition, Peņa PachaMama makes everyone feel like part of an especially fun-loving extended family. The venue's warmth and conviviality are exemplified in… More >>
  • Best Tropical Phantasmagoria

    Tonga Room

    The Tonga Room is one of the last remnants of that giddy era when umbrellas sprouted from every coconut, Trader Vic ruled the cosmos, and ukuleles could be heard from North Beach to the Richmond. The crucial element that separates the Tonga from its Polynesian competitors past and present is, of course, the tropical downpour. Sure, the totem poles and… More >>
  • Best Jukebox

    The Ha-Ra

    Of the many perfectly good reasons to inhabit a saloon -- clientele, atmo, billiards, booze -- the on-site jukebox is perhaps the most viable. A good jukebox can make even the simplest cocktail more sensually potent, depending upon its array of mood-enhancing selections. The Ha-Ra's box is strikingly eclectic. How about some Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, or Delbert McClintock to… More >>
  • Best Time Portal

    California Historical Society

    Taking advantage of the Historical Society's myriad exhibitions, lectures, and walking tours is like stepping into your own well-ordered time machine. Its tidy home base near Yerba Buena Gardens exhibits treasures from an extensive collection of newspapers, broadsides, maps, Native American artifacts, 35,000 books, half a million photographs, the letters and diaries of pioneers and gold-seekers, and artworks from the… More >>
  • Best Way to Save Money on a Trip to Rio

    San Francisco's Carnaval Parade and Festival

    OK, so the hookers, pickpockets, and public drunkenness are less pronounced, but otherwise, San Francisco's Carnaval lives up to the spirit of its South American cousins, with its warm confluence of Latin and African rhythms. Lavishly decorated floats and Brazilian-style escola contingents parade through the Mission on what is usually a balmy Sunday (three months after the more traditional pre-Lenten… More >>
  • Best Place to Show Off Your Fierce Face

    The Fifth Annual San Francisco Hip-Hop Dance Festival

    A talent for outsassing fellow performers is just part of a dancer's chops at the San Francisco Hip-Hop Dance Festival, which begins in November with a freestyle jam where dancers jump into the circle, show their stuff, and jump back out again; cockiness, as much as execution, is the name of the game. Performances were technically sharp at last year's… More >>
  • Best Place to Shout "Olé!"

    "Café Flamenco"

    The next best thing to a corner table in a Madrileno tapas bar is a front-row seat at "Café Flamenco," a monthly performance series run by flamenco dancer Yaelisa, who performs with her troupe Caminos Flamencos every third Sunday of the month at 7 p.m. It's a casual but lively showcase where the dancers, and the musicians who accompany them… More >>
  • Best Local Film Programmer

    Joel Shepard

    Shepard is an aficionado of outré cinema, from the '70s sexploitation epics of no-budget queen Doris Wishman to the baroque gore of horror maestro Dario Argento, from Charles Burnett's overlooked tales of black city life to British experimentalist John Maybury's gay fantasias. Although you expect to find cult curiosities and bizarre B-movies at the Werepad or the Roxie, Shepard's venue… More >>
  • Best Local Film and Video Preserve

    San Francisco Media Archive

    Tucked away in a warehouse in the Mission District, the San Francisco Media Archive is a treasure trove of historical film and video. Part time warp, part fun park, and part movie library, the archive holds clips of various lengths and in an assortment of genres, from TV commercials to trailers, newsreels to contemporary video, educational shorts to religious pictures.… More >>
  • Best Local Actor About to Leave Town

    Emily Ackerman

    Ackerman made her local debut in 1999 with a searing performance as a scrappy miner's daughter in a little black-box show called The Glace Bay Miner's Museum. Since then, she's graduated to roles at the Aurora Theatre, the California Shakespeare Festival, and the Marin Theatre Company, and last month she appeared in her first-ever ACT production -- The Constant Wife,… More >>
  • Best Local Actor Not About to Leave Town

    Delia MacDougall

    MacDougall was already losing her voice on opening night of Denis Johnson's Soul of a Whore. She played a stripper-turned-church-lady occasionally possessed by a demon -- which, counting carefully, amounts to three roles. Whore is a hugely demanding, three-hour play written entirely in verse, yet somehow MacDougall took care of her voice and went on to give tour de force… More >>
  • Best Musical Imported From New York

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch

    Forget The Producers. The story of a gay glam-rock star from Berlin, caught rather gruesomely between genders and obsessed with an ex-boyfriend named Tommy Gnosis, may be the best musical act to arrive here via New York since Lola Montez impressed the scruffy locals with her sensational Spider Dance (in 1853).… More >>
  • Best Hair Salon-cum-Art Gallery


    In this day and age, it pays to multitask. A full-service hair salon that doubles as an art gallery, Glama-Rama is one of the best spots to kill two birds with one stone. Proprietress Deena Davenport opened shop to get away from the "stuffy atmosphere of most salons," she writes on her Web site. And based on her eclectic crew… More >>
  • Best Chess Club

    Mechanics' Institute Library

    The chess aficionados who frequent the Fifth and Market Street tables presumably don't know about the Chess Club at the Mechanics' Institute Library. Why else would they suffer the clamor, panhandlers, hecklers, and tourists to play a match in the chilly outdoors when this quiet, warm oasis is just blocks away? The oldest chess club in America, the Mechanics' was… More >>
  • Best Friday Party for Fags

    "Cheap Trick" at the Stud

    The Pilsner is too homey and "'Til Friday" is all drag. So roguish boys who thrive on the joys of noncommitment should check out "Cheap Trick," billed as an "Electro, Rock, Funk, Old-School Pop Party." "Cheap Trick" proprietors Gary Green and Jeff Chandler (who also acts as DJ) have made it their business since '97 to offer partygoers a sense… More >>
  • Best Reason to Stay Home and Rent a Movie

    Audience Hissing

    You know who you are. Yes, you. Hush. You people -- who must break the proverbial fourth wall, whose cinéaste credibility needs gratification, who must express your own indignation during the middle of a movie with a tacky, high-minded, "Sssssss!" -- need to shut it. Indigenous to the Bay Area and most commonly found at independent art-house theaters, you hissers… More >>
  • Best Writing School for Youth

    826 Valencia

    With dozens of kids killing kids in the Mission District every year, 826 Valencia provides a real community service -- lessons in writing as an alternative to gangbanging. Local author/celeb Dave Eggers jump-started the school, and dozens of writer volunteers teach classes in how to develop character, plot points, and narrative arc. Fiction, nonfiction, and screenplay writing and English as… More >>
  • Best Chronicle Section to Use as Bird Cage Lining

    Friday Section

    Why does the Chron's Friday section exist? Some weeks we wonder why the editors don't slather their own bird poop across the pages -- but wait, they do. Here's an overlong, thoroughly useless feature story on a high school robotics competition (where have we read that before? Ah, yes, in every other American newspaper's feature section. In 1988). Here's another… More >>
  • Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich Maker Who Also Plays Bass

    Johnny Safety at "the smallest show in town"

    There's not much to a grilled cheese: A couple of pieces of bread and a slice of cheese are all it takes. But making a good one -- that's another deal altogether. You don't want the cheese too thick, or not cooked enough, or too cooked, and the bread can't be burnt or overly greasy. Really, making the perfect grilled… More >>
  • Best Place to Practice Piano (or Violin, or ...)

    Community Music Center

    Inside a quaint yellow-and-blue Victorian, set on one of the grittiest of Mission streets, lives a quiet refuge for music. Well, maybe not so quiet: Stand in the hallway of the Community Music Center and you're likely to hear the low hum of a cello, the happy plink of piano keys, or the eerie wail of a violin -- or… More >>
  • Best Slam Poets

    Youth Speaks

    On the front lines of the nationwide spoken-word phenomenon is Youth Speaks, the premier program for teen poetry in the country. Founded in 1996, the organization encourages Bay Area kids to write and perform, running a variety of classroom and after-school workshops to help teenagers represent their lives as they see and experience them. Since its inception, Youth Speaks has… More >>
  • Best (and Oldest) Independent Arts Space

    Intersection for the Arts

    In its 38 years of existence, Intersection for the Arts has established itself as a local powerhouse, showcasing some of the most visionary, provocative art and performance in the city. In its cozy 70-seat theater and spacious gallery, the organization features a calendar with an eclectic mix of live music, lectures, theater, readings, and visual art, from the likes of… More >>
  • Best Ear to the Ground

    The Quiet American's "Field Effects"

    "I am opinionated and verbose," admits Aaron Ximm on his Web site, "To those who suffer for these things I offer this: What I hear when I am quiet." It's an unusual penance, but lucky for us, Ximm's commitment to amplifying downtime has resulted in one of the most electrifying event series in the city. "Field Effects," an occasional… More >>
  • Best Use of Duct Tape by a Musical Act

    Crack: We Are Rock

    While many of the city's electronic musicians have sold their souls for shiny new Titanium PowerBooks, Crack: We Are Rock knows that sleeker ain't always better. The group boasts a motley assortment of vintage keyboards, drum machines, noise boxes, and other gizmos, all seemingly held together with patch cords, paper clips, and prayers. The band's rhythms are no less unstable:… More >>
  • Best Place to See the Future of Art

    CCAC Wattis Institute

    The Wattis Institute might sound like something out of an Abbott and Costello routine, but there's nothing slapstick -- or slapdash -- about the institution, which has distinguished itself as one of the Bay Area's most important promoters of art, architecture, and design since 1998. Under Director Ralph Rugoff and curator Matthew Higgs, CCAC's Wattis Institute and its Capp Street… More >>
  • Best Gallery Parking Lot

    Ego Park Gallery

    It's been suggested that there's something of an artistic renaissance under way in the East Bay; for evidence of this, look no farther than Oakland's Ego Park Gallery. Run by Kevin Slagle, the downtown art space has shown Slagle's own sculpture, multimedia work from Aisha Burnes, video art by a host of local artists, and more. But the real action… More >>
  • Best Funky Punkers


    Or perhaps the award should be for Punky Funksters? In any case, San Francisco's Tussle wrestles with geography and time and comes out triumphantly on top. The four-piece scuffles with the mutant disco of late-'70s New York and the black-lunged post-punk of early '80s England, tying its influences into a squirming pretzel of knotted rhythms and throbbing bass. The band's… More >>
  • Best Local Spirit Caught on DVD

    Gold Chains

    When laptop hip-hopper Gold Chains' first full-length comes out this year on PIAS, a lot of listeners are going to wonder what Topher Lafata, the man behind the golden ropes, is all about. They need look no further than Gold Chains' Live at the Beta Lounge V.1 DVD, which captures the gravel-voiced troublemaker in particularly inspired form. Recorded one spring… More >>
  • Best Hipster Nostalgia

    "After School Special"

    If you haven't noticed, kid power is all the rage these days. From the Toughskin-chic look to bike riding and make-out sessions, city hipsters seem determined to bring back the glory days of youth, when "rent" meant paying for skates at the roller rink and "pink slips" were only handed out on Valentine's Day. Reluctant grown-ups Jamie Atherton and Jeremy… More >>
  • Best Punk Rock Brass

    Erase Errata

    Skronky, angular rockers Erase Errata aren't the kind of people who do as they're told. Society still tries to get women to be quiet, prettified, accepting, and nicey nice nice, but these four gals just aren't those things. They're up-to-11 loud, have low-maintenance haircuts, and spend a lot of their time kicking up a fuss. Even within the unorthodox world… More >>
  • Best Use of Corporate Radio

    Wobbly's Wild Why

    Wobbly's Wild Why CD (out on local label Tigerbeat6, should be required listening at the FCC. An absurdist state-of-the-airwaves address, the album celebrates the creative power of theft, even as it pokes fun at the soggy condition of corporate radio. To make the disc, Wobbly -- aka Jon Leidecker -- spent three years trolling local hip hop stations for… More >>
  • Best Purveyors of Thermonuclear Turntable Dynamics

    Live Human

    The rock-band-with-DJ phenomenon seems to have subsided to the point where you no longer see some chump with headphones pantomiming bullshit scratches on MTV every 20 minutes, but fruitful underground experimentation between turntablists and traditional musicians continues unabated. Local sonic renegades Live Human have been stretching the boundaries of what people expect from improvised music since their formation in 1996.… More >>
  • Best Afternoon Opera

    "Saturday Live at Caffe Trieste"

    We're saying it now -- Saturday afternoon at Caffe Trieste should also be known as the People's Opera. As basketed Chianti passes from glass to glass in the back row, the singer puts the microphone to non-operatic use. "Hey, is the hot chocolate ready for this young man?" she asks, harassing the baristas. The kid in question squirms, embarrassed but… More >>
  • Best Literary Readings

    A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books

    All of the lit heavy-hitters read here, more than at any bookstore in the city. At one time or another, Po Bronson, Michael Chabon, Dorothy Allison, Isabel Allende, and Dave Eggers graced the podium at this charming bookstore. And unlike at City Arts and Lectures or the Commonwealth Club, the readings at A Clean Well-Lighted Place are free of charge.… More >>
  • Best Sunday Grins

    Pug Sunday

    For people who simply cannot get enough of that adorable flat snout, those lovely if bulging brown eyes, that squiggle of a tale, and that incessant symphony of grunts, snorts, and wheezes, there is Pug Sunday. The first Sunday of every month, a crowd of pug lovers convenes at the top of Alta Plaza's north hillside around 2 p.m., with… More >>
  • Best Literary Gathering

    "Live Story" at Café Niebaum-Coppola

    Held the first Tuesday of every month, "Live Story" is a delightful event that expands on the North Beach tradition of the cafe as literary forum. Sometimes local writers such as John L'heureux discuss their creative process, sometimes a one-act play is staged (we particularly enjoyed Eric Lucas' Waiting for the Slow Dance). The atmosphere is cramped but cozy, so… More >>
  • Best Gingerbread House

    Sir Francis Drake Hotel

    Every Christmas, in the grand tradition of our fathers and their fathers before them, we pull on the London Fog mackintosh, hop on the Powell Street cable car, and roll on down to Union Square. There, after feasting our eyes on the window displays and partaking of the Compass Rose high tea, we take it upon ourselves to compare and… More >>
  • Five Best San Francisco Movies

    It's a tossup which of the two San Franciscos filmmakers embrace more frequently: the lovely, hilly backdrop of What's Up Doc? and Pal Joey or the fog-shrouded demimonde of Experiment in Terror and The Lady From Shanghai. With so many examples from each genre, selecting just a few outstanding San Francisco movies is difficult indeed: Consider Point Blank, Greed, The… More >>
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