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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Intergalactic Franciscans and Junípero Serra Protests in Interwoven

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Katie Dorame, Mission Revolt, 2014.
  • Katie Dorame, Mission Revolt, 2014.

This September, Pope Francis visited the US to canonize Junípero Serra, who is respected and reviled across California, depending on one’s definition of ethnic cleansing. This year, as every year, fourth graders across the state will choose one of the missions Serra helped establish to build out of sugar cubes and toothpicks. They may even visit their local mission, before moving on to other state educational standards.

Katie Dorame, one of 15 artists included in Interwoven: Indigenous Contemporary at the USF’s Thatcher Gallery, remembers these field trips and grade school lessons well from her childhood in the Los Angeles area. As an adult, Dorame realized that her younger self didn’t see enough alternatives to the history of the Spanish conquest of California, including her Tongva ancestors who suffered greatly following the establishment of Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in 1771.

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Popping, Locking, Grinning at the SF Hip Hop Fest

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 1:00 PM

Dancing by Academy of Villains - PHOTO BY BLAKE TUCKER
  • Photo by Blake Tucker
  • Dancing by Academy of Villains

Who among us does not love hip hop dance? If you made it to the 17th Annual San Francisco International Hip Hop Dancefest over the weekend, you were likely popping and locking a big fat grin. Friday night’s 12 acts each took a different tack — from the shadow-play storytelling of Academy of Villains to the modern-dance inflections of Loose Change to the acrobatic hijinx of The Ruggeds — but each and every dancer was saying yes. Yes, I am, and yes to life.

The audience was in on the message, calling back and cheering wildly. Cindy Claes’s solo did elicit a no, but that’s because she was performing a woman's struggle to keep her eyes on the prize rather than get hung up on a romance. Not a voice in the house was cheering for a Hollywood ending, and Claes did not disappoint. Oakland ‘tween girls group On Demand also had a great message, telling us with their bright costumes and bold moves by a range of body types not to be afraid to shine. I’d like to hear more of that, America.     

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New On Video: Down and Dirty Dylan in Don’t Look Back

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 12:00 PM


My two oldest brothers were huge Bob Dylan fans when I was growing up. (They still are.) The first song I can remember identifying at a very young age was Dylan’s "Ballad of a Thin Man," probably due to my brother Joe singing it and countless others around the house. As such, I probably saw D.A. Pennebaker’s 1967 Don’t Look Back, a documentary of Bob Dylan’s 1965 UK tour, which the Criterion Collection is releasing on Blu-ray this week, at a younger age than might have been strictly appropriate. (Also, though the official spelling of the first word of the title is Dont, not Don't. I just cant.)     

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Go See Some Comedy: Greg Behrendt, Emily Heller, and More

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 11:30 AM


It's the week of Thanksgiving. If you're a regular person, that means you're enjoying some time off work and cooking. Or protesting Black Friday. Hopefully, not trampling a Walmart employee to death.

Holiday weeks are great weeks for comedy in San Francisco, because great comedians from here come home to see their families. That's what's up this week.

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SFO Unveils Massive Mosaic As Part Of Ongoing Public Art Project

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 11:00 AM

  • John Janca

“It’s a straight line and a curved line,” says San Francisco artist Amy Ellingson. She’s pointing to a 109-foot length of wall in San Francisco International Airport’s Terminal 3, where her massive, 1,100-square foot mosaic mural, Untitled (Large Variation) ceremoniously watches over passers-by.

This is starting to feel like a trick. With our noses close to the thousands of tiny ceramic tiles in an assortment of colors, it’s hard to find a place for your eyes to rest, let alone decipher clear shapes. Ellingson is known for her smart approach to creating abstract work. It begins with extensive planning on Photoshop, before switching over to paint on canvas, or, in this case, large-scale mosaic. Whatever her medium, her preferred mode is “energetic.”

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Friday, November 20, 2015

The Golden Age of TV Movies: Death Be Not Proud (1975)

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 1:00 PM

Robby Benson, left, as Johnny Jr, with Arthur Hill as John Sr. - ABC TV
  • ABC TV
  • Robby Benson, left, as Johnny Jr, with Arthur Hill as John Sr.

Welcome to The Golden Age of TV Movies, a monthly column about those wonderful TV movies of yesteryear.

John Gunther
(1901-1970) was one of the most important and respected journalists of his day, During his lifetime Gunther traveled the world, winning great acclaim for best selling tomes such as Inside Asia, Inside Latin America, and Inside USA.

Today Gunther is best remembered for the memoir Death Be Not Proud, in which he chronicled his son's battle with a malignant brain tumor. John Gunther Jr (1929-1947) had been considered a prodigy, a scientist who corresponded with Albert Einstein about physics. He died at age 17, two weeks after graduating from high school. He had already passed his college entrance exams and had been accepted into Harvard. 

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Trumbo Director Jay Roach is Bugged by Those Who Don't Speak Out

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 11:30 AM

Jay Roach (left) directs Bryan Cranston (right) in Trumbo, which expands into additional Bay Area theaters on Nov. 20th. - CREDIT: HILARY BRONWYN GAYLE
  • Credit: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle
  • Jay Roach (left) directs Bryan Cranston (right) in Trumbo, which expands into additional Bay Area theaters on Nov. 20th.

The familiar "Silence is golden" adage applies to moviegoers, not moviemakers — a fact that was seemingly lost on the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigating communism in the "golden" age of Hollywood. But that didn't stop Academy Award-winning screenwriter (Roman HolidaySpartacus) and humanist Dalton Trumbo from speaking out, even if it meant blacklisting.

"One of the things I love about Trumbo is that in this era, when it was dangerous to speak out, he was not shy about speaking and writing about injustices," director Jay Roach told SF Weekly in a recent interview. It's this word warrior side of Trumbo that the Austin Powers trilogy, Meet the Parents, and Meet the Fockers director said he wanted to capture in his new biopic Trumbo, starring Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Argo). Roach also spoke about the challenges of mixing art and politics — then and now — and answers the question, "What would you have done?" 

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Sketchfest 2016 Brings Waiting for Guffman, Jeff Goldblum, Bob’s Burgers And More

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 7:00 AM


Once again, the holidays will truly arrive on Jan. 7 when the SF Sketchfest returns for its 15th serving of prime time laughs. Boasting over 200 shows across 19 venues and 16 days, the joint venture of David Owen, Cole Stratton, and Janet Varney is a comedy fan’s delight, bursting with talent and unique programming, and certain to have something for everyone.

Highlights include a tribute to the mockumentary Waiting for Guffman for the film’s 20th anniversary, with expected appearances from Christopher Guest, Bob Balaban, Parker Posey, and Fred Willard. Acting royalty Jeff Goldblum and Sally Field will also be feted, while the cast of Fox’s breakout animated program Bob’s Burgers will join creator Loren Bouchard for a look back at the show’s first six seasons (Last of the Mo-Jicama Burgers not included).

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Mainframe: Whose Body is it Anyway?

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 8:00 PM

  • Ben Hersh

When we met at a rehearsal for her upcoming piece Mainframe, choreographer Katharine Hawthorne brought up Plato’s allegory of the cave. Audience members at one of her previous shows, Analog, thought Hawthorne's use of shadow play was a reference to Plato's tale of our tendency to confuse an image with a thing itself. Though her intentions for Analog were different, Hawthorne found the idea very rich.

Paraphrasing Rebecca Solnit’s book River of Shadows, she talked about the way that the screen has begun to seem, for many, more real than the rest of life. She explained that Mainframe was inspired, in part, by Plato and Solnit, but also by the evolution of the computer as an object. The piece will touch on the progression from giant clacking machines to handheld devices speaking in a woman’s voice, and the dancers will lift and dance around Siri’s forebears. Hawthorne reminded me that though punch cards and dot matrix printers have gone the way of the dodo, mainframes are still working away.

“We no longer think of the mainframe as something we engage with, but when you use an ATM you are connecting through a mainframe somewhere. It’s a bit creepy.”

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The Write Stuff: Ian Brennan on the Arrogance of Believing We Are Modern

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 8:00 AM

The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen where authors give exclusive readings from their work.

  • Marilena Delli

Ian Brennan is a Grammy-winning record producer and has produced three Grammy-nominated records. At age six, while staying home sick from school, he by chance saw an old Elvis Presley exploitation film on rerun television and was inspired to pick-up the guitar. It immediately became his obsession and “life-jacket” for surviving childhood and adolescence. He recorded his first album in 1987, during the pre-Pro Tools, dark ages. 

He has worked with artists as diverse as country-great Merle Haggard, filmmaker John Waters, Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Fugazi, Green Day, Tinariwen, Kyp Malone & Tunde Adebimpe (TV on the Radio), the Blind Boys of Alabama, Nels Cline (Wilco), and the Vienna Boys Choir, and has repeatedly travelled the world in search of music. Amongst others, he has discovered and produced groups who went on to be the first international releases in the indigenous languages of their respective countries: Rwanda, South Sudan, and Malawi. During his leanest years, he supported himself by day working as a counselor in the locked emergency-psychiatric unit for Oakland, California. This led to his becoming a violence prevention “expert,” lecturing on the topic over 100 times annually since 1993 at such organizations as the Betty Ford Center, Bellevue Hospital (NYC), UC Berkeley, and the National Accademia of Science (Rome), as well as on various continents: Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North America. He was a published poet by age 19 and has written about music regularly for Zero Magazine and Guitar Player. He is the author of three other published books. The Boston Phoenix called his lyrics ”a model of economical, unpretentious, narrative songwriting,” and the Readers+Writers journal praised his novella, Sister Maple Syrup Eyes as, “A beautiful book. Achingly beautiful.” Brennan was born in Oakland and raised in the far East Bay Area. He relocated first to Paris and then to Italy as a homebase, starting in 2009.

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