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  • Readers' Poll Winners

    Best Band The Sam Chase Best Blog The Bold Italic Best Comedian Andrew Holmgren Best Dance Company ODC Best DJ Ami Lawless Best Radio Station BFF.fm Best Quiz Night Shotwell's Best Gallery 111 Minna Best Museum de Young Museum Best Music Festival Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Best MC Kingfish Best Sunday Funday Dolores Park Best Theater San Francisco Neo-Futurists Best Writer Dave Eggers Best Dance Party Fringe... More >>

  • Best Symbol Connecting S.F. With Its Whimsical Past

    The Doggie Diner Heads

    You stop, suddenly, in the middle of the sidewalk. You tell your date that you know — just know — that somewhere nearby something really interesting is about to happen. You've just spotted three 10-foot-tall fiberglass dog heads wearing chef hats. For 20 years, it's never failed. Ever since the local "Doggie Diner" chain closed, former Cacophanist John Law has been pulling these enigmatic mascots to countercultural events. Street festivals, art parties, bizarre documentaries, pranks-in-the-park: If you see the Doggie... More >>

  • Best Explanation of San Francisco's Whimsical Past

    Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society

    Too many new kids coming in and putting down four grand on a studio apartment think cultures like this one are easy to create. All you have to do is wear the right costumes to the right parties, and you're doing what those glorious clowns in the '80s and '90s did, right? SantaCon? Salmon swimming upstream at Bay to Breakers? Wrong. Generations of genius jokesters struggled to make San Francisco the city of jest it is today, and until you... More >>

  • Best Explanation of San Francisco's Whimsical Future

    The Book of the IS

    Why are we still talking about the anti-authoritarian old-timers who raised hilarious hell in the '80s and '90s? San Francisco needs new blood to step up to the plate and throw All Worlds Fairs and Emperor Norton Baptisms. Their Bible: The Book of the IS, by Chicken John Rinaldi (and SF Weekly contributor Benjamin Wachs). While it covers a lot of what made the old days great, it is primarily a step-by-step guide to living your life as art in... More >>

  • Best New Space for Literary Readings

    La Movida

    Though open less than a year, La Movida has already distinguished itself in the city's cultural scene by hosting a phalanx of San Francisco literary events, including some of the most venerable, like "Inside Storytime" and a session of Litquake. It's rapidly becoming a center of S.F.'s independent literary scene. That's not because there's anything especially literary about La Movida. It's a quality wine bar with great food, but there's no "writing" theme there and, in fact, it's got no... More >>

  • Best West Coast Lit Journal

    ZYZZYVA

    Founded and then helmed by Howard Junker for 26 years, ZYZZYVA once only published writers living on the West Coast — many of whom have since become important voices (Kay Ryan, Sherman Alexie, Wanda Coleman, Brenda Hillman, the first English translation of Haruki Murakami). Since Laura Cogan and Oscar Villalon took over in 2011, they've made some major changes: an elegant print redesign, a revamp of the website, and regular event programming (about 20 a year). They've also opened up... More >>

  • Best Year-Round Festival

    Litquake

    What started as a reasonable idea 15 years ago (let's get a bunch of our friends and all read our writing together in the park!) has become one of the nation's largest literary festivals and a paradigm for literary bar-hopping, as Litquake's signature Lit Crawl has now spread to Iowa City, Miami, Brooklyn, Manhattan, London, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Austin. In 2011, Litquake expanded beyond its annual mammoth festival in S.F. (which features more than 800 authors in nine days... More >>

  • Best Illustrated Guide to S.F.

    Meanwhile in San Francisco

    2013 sort of seemed like The Year of Wendy MacNaughton. The local illustrator was everywhere: in the pages of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bon Appetit, and Time magazine (to name a few), on NPR, as part of Pop-Up Magazine, and City Arts & Lectures. Most recently, Chronicle Books published a collection of her popular Meanwhile series, called Meanwhile in San Francisco: The City in Its Own Words, which is a stunning portrait of the ever-changing faces,... More >>

  • Best Local Author

    Alejandro Murguía

    San Francisco might be home to literary juggernauts like Amy Tan and Danielle Steel. But Alejandro Murguía has truly been an integral and revolutionary writer-poet for the Latino community, and subsequently, the people of San Francisco for approximately 40 years. Murguía, 63, came to S.F. from L.A. in the early '70s and never left. He published his first book of poetry at 19, then dropped out of college and became a Muni driver. He didn't return to higher education until... More >>

  • Best Community Newspaper

    El Tecolote

    El Tecolote (Spanish for owl) is a Spanish-English bilingual newspaper and website that covers the news, issues, and people of the Latino population in San Francisco's Mission District and surrounding areas of the Excelsior, Bernal Heights, and the East Bay. The newspaper began as a project in a 1970 La Raza Studies class at San Francisco State University created by professor Juan Gonzalez, who wanted to channel more Latinos into journalism. In the '70s, Latinos and other people of color... More >>

  • Best New Internet Radio Station

    Best Frequencies Forever.fm

    You need sounds to fill your headphones during the ever-long days. But Pandora is lame, Spotify is labyrinthine, and normal radio mostly sucks. San Francisco offers no shortage of local web-streaming stations, of course — but its newest is arguably its best. Best Frequencies Forever, aka BFF.fm, is a 6-month-old Internet radio station operating out of the Secret Alley, an informal artist space in the Mission. Most of its programming is music — glorious, diverse music, chosen by the sorts... More >>

  • Best Travel Blog Based in San Francisco

    Finding Main Street

    Finding Main Street is the collaborative project of the three San Francisco residents and recent college grads chronicling their summer 2013 sojourn across the U.S. on $500 motorcycles they purchased on Craigslist. Instead of exploring the world of post-grad employment, the trio went to explore the particulars of their generation. In 55 days, Wyatt McCall and brothers Brant and Dylan Ozanich traveled 10,500 miles through 28 states around the continental U.S. They documented the sights, sounds, and people in every... More >>

  • Best Ingenious Use of Space

    Savernack Street Gallery

    Let's face it. Rents are getting higher and the affordable spaces are getting smaller. So instead of going to IKEA to find shelving to economize cramped quarters, Savernack Street Gallery employs an innovative solution. The place is known for its voyeuristic approach, where you can view a single piece of art through a peephole in the blue-green front door. Measuring only a few cubic feet, the tiny exhibition space is all creator Carrie Sinclair Katz could afford to rent in... More >>

  • Best Hope for Public Art

    And My Room Still Rocks Like A Boat on the Sea (Caruso's Dream)

    Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn's site-specific installation of 13 pianos affixed to the side of a building proves that San Francisco doesn't have to lose its character during its latest development boom. The piece is intricate, symbolic, and weird in a way only possible in the city that invented Burning Man. It was inspired by the famed tenor Enrico Caruso's stay at the Palace Hotel during the 1906 earthquake, and unveiled in a "Dada-esque opening" with a street closure, aerialists,... More >>

  • Best Coup de Theater

    Magic Theatre

    Since its production of The Lily's Revenge in 2011, the Magic Theatre has reigned supreme as the biggest local theater company willing to tear down not just its fourth wall, but all its walls. In November, with its 24-hour Birthday Bash for Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Magic homeboy Sam Shepard, the company went biblical: blowing the walls down with trumpets. The company performed a collage of snippets from Shepard's texts, which concluded with the bacchanalian entrance of San Francisco's own... More >>

  • Best Puppetry

    Nathaniel Justiniano

    In just one of many inventive choices in his production of Ubu Roi at Cutting Ball, director Yury Urnov cast puppets as side characters. Performer Nathaniel Justiniano, who specializes in bouffon and circus, made this choice exceptional. His puppet for the character Queen Rosemonde consisted of only a cloth wrapped around a fake red crab apple, resembling a cloak wrapped around a head. But Justiniano's dexterous tremors of fingertips gave the puppet body, personality, and an entire environment to relate... More >>

  • Best Local Theater Facebook Group

    "Yeah, I Said Feminist." A Theater Salon.

    Despite the fact that women make up the majority of theater audiences, women theater artists face obstacles at every level of the game: as playwrights, directors, actors, designers, and administrators. Performer Fontana Butterfield Guzman created this private, female-only Facebook group in 2012 to combat these inequities, and since then it has grown to a 550-member force that, despite its members' loose affiliation, is shaping how the industry talks about and fights discrimination. Thanks in part to their advocacy, change is... More >>

  • Best Foray into Minimalist Theater

    Bruns Amphitheater

    Cal Shakes' productions usually benefit from lavish theatrics and a majestic setting (its amphitheater is nestled in the Orinda hills). For its all-female production of Twelfth Night, the company performed under fluorescent lighting at Intersection for the Arts, and then in a homeless shelter, a detention center, and a library as part of a community tour, all with little more than costumes, as in Shakespeare's day. But this outstanding cast needed no design aid; its rich display of comedic skill... More >>

  • Best Genre-Defying Sci-Artistic Collaborative

    Kinetech

    Kinetech, a science and art collaborative that's just recently turned a year old, explores the way movement and art can be both scientifically interesting and aesthetically pleasing. Software developers, physicists, martial artists, dancers, engineers, and choreographers work together on projects that inevitably become more than the sum of their parts. Led by physicist Weidong Yang, the team has been collaborating on tactile and kinetic works of movement, dance, and living sculpture that promote experimentation and an intuitive understanding of the... More >>

  • Best Underground Monopoly

    SAFEhouseArts

    Amid the exodus of artists exhausted with making ends meet, SAFEhouse (Saving Art From Extinction), directed by Joe Landini, has led a crusade to resuscitate otherwise abandoned enterprises for the past 11 years, from establishing the experimental theater The Garage in 2007 to the current revival of KUNST-STOFF arts. With West Wave and Summer Performance dance festivals, residency programs for dance and queer performance, and the free monthly Central Market NOW events, SAFEhouse is the biggest racket for penniless performers... More >>

  • Best BART Hustlers

    Bay Area Street Dance

    Public transit commuters are captives to miseries large and small, from the feculent residues of other riders to the human and mechanical errors on the rails. In delightful counterpoint or irritating conjunction, depending on whether you want a quiet game of Candy Crush or a rousing interruption of freestyling and turfing, there's Bay Area Street Dance, five dancers ages 15 to 25 who turn up their boombox, contort their limbs, and use the straps, poles, and seats to their rhythmic... More >>

  • Best Silent Cultural Commentators

    Dance Brigade

    It may seem like a joke that those silenced by their conditions can resort to communicating in interpretive dance. But Dance Brigade, which has put on activist dances in the Mission for the past 30 years, is no joke and anything but silent. Raucous, saucy, and smart as hell, members dance and drum about the shifting landscape of our crazy little town and the woes of the globe it sits upon with unrepentant glee. Deeply invested in community, the Brigade's... More >>

  • Best Undead (and Better Than Ever) Movie Theater

    Embarcadero Center Cinema

    We got nervous when the Embarcadero Cinema shut down in June 2013. Owners assured us it was a temporary closure for renovations, but after losing so many theaters in recent years, it was hard not to worry that we'd never get those screens back, screens which show the best in independent and foreign fare. But return they did in November, now with intimate screening lounges as well as a shiny 4K digital projector in their new stadium-seating auditorium — and... More >>

  • Best Reimagined Future for the Old Bay Bridge

    Bay Bridge House Project

    With the dinosaur bridge slated for a scrap yard, Bay Area businessman David Grieshaber challenged architecture students to transform the 77-year-old structure into sustainable housing and multi-use spaces. The Bay Bridge House Student Design Competition wasn't just to imagine what could be, but to make it a reality. Students turned in innovative outlines — transforming the archaic bridge into modern architecture, which led to selecting the most viable blueprint for use in the Bay Area. The winning design didn't meet... More >>

  • Best Place to Travel to the Ancient Past

    Legion of Honor

    Antiques Roadshow has nothing on S.F. Completed in 1924, The Legion of Honor fine arts museum was a gift from Adolph B. Spreckels and Alma de Bretteville Spreckels to the people and city of San Francisco in order to beautify the city. Located in the sparsely populated Lincoln Park, the museum overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pacific Ocean, and the rest of our foggy metropolis. Even more impressive are the displays of the collection: 4,000 years of ancient and... More >>

  • Best Low-Key Documentary of San Francisco

    Notes on the Port of St. Francis

    This 1951 documentary by Frank Stauffacher proves that certain aspects of San Francisco life never change — traffic buzzing along busy downtown streets, pedestrians schlepping up steep hills, restaurants slinging pizza in North Beach, dried fish hanging in the windows of Chinatown stores, and Karl's continued roll into the bay. One of 25 films added to the National Film Registry in 2013, this documentary clocks in at less than 22 minutes, but manages to cover the scope of city life... More >>

  • Best S.F. History Lesson in One Minute

    Western Neighborhoods Project

    This nonprofit has been gathering stories, images, and videos of the western portion of San Francisco since 1999, and while you may not have a full afternoon to devote to uncovering parts of San Francisco's history, the one-minute videos will definitely teach you something new. The site boasts approximately 80 minute-long videos — each covering a small snippet of history that could easily be lost to time. Videos range from Playland at the Beach to America's first highway to S.F.'s... More >>

  • Best Grammy-Winning Local Band You Probably Haven't Heard Of

    Pacific Mambo Orchestra

    This year's Grammy Awards telecast didn't include the announcement of a winner for Best Tropical Latin Album, but that's no excuse to remain ignorant of the Pacific Mambo Orchestra. The San Francisco outfit specializes in Latin jazz, salsa, and mambo of the sort made famous by folks like Tito Puente and Machito. Its 19 members have played with greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, and even Puente himself, which is partly why, though Pacific Mambo Orchestra was only... More >>

  • Best Place to Feel Like a Tiny Speck in the Pop Music Universe

    The Fillmore

    You weren't there when Johnny Cash played his last S.F. show. You weren't there when Miles Davis opened for the Grateful Dead. You probably weren't there for any of Metallica's legendary anniversary concerts, and you almost certainly weren't there on July 16, 1968, when Big Brother and the Holding Company, Richie Havens, Jeff Beck, and Sly and the Family Stone all graced the stage of the Fillmore West for one holy show. That's okay. You can still walk up to... More >>

  • Best Way to Hear Local Musicians Put Their Stamp on Classic Albums

    UnderCover Presents

    Yeah, it would be pretty sweet to hear Radiohead perform all of OK Computer live. But since that is almost certainly not going to happen, a group of Bay Area music obsessives has come up with quite possibly the next best thing. First, the folks behind Undercover Presents pick a classic album — maybe something recent, like OK Computer, or something older, like Sly and the Family Stone's 1969 tour de force Stand! Then they find a bunch of Bay... More >>

  • Best Musical Reminder of What a Freaky Place S.F. Used to Be

    The Space Lady

    We all have Timothy Leary to thank. In 1967, the LSD guru spoke to students at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Among them was one Susan Schneider, a brave listener who took Leary's "tune in, turn on, drop out" motto to heart — and promptly moved to San Francisco. Eventually, Schneider became known on city streets as the Space Lady, a beloved fount of local weirdness who would set up a keyboard and a microphone at 18th and Castro, and... More >>

  • Best Daytime Drag Show

    Harry Denton's Starlight Room

    This drag show is an extravaganza of extremes. The famed Donna Sachet and Michael Pagan of the Starlight Room produce and present two spectacular, cabaret-style shows every Sunday that pull out all the stops: The sequins flash, pop blends with art, and the ladies shimmy and shine as guests watch a display of frolic that makes Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge! appear dull and antiquated in comparison. With an all-you-can-eat buffet that includes custom-made omelets and an... More >>

  • Best Deconsecrated Roller Skating

    Church of 8 Wheels

    For a moral and exhilarating experience — not to mention a frequently funky one — make your way to the heavenly gates of the Church of 8 Wheels, San Francisco's first church-turned-roller-rink. Operating four nights a week, you can skate to your hearts' content to some of the best disco and funk spun by DJ D. Miles or guests, with skate rentals available for a modest fee. Saturday night is Black Rock Roller Disco, for those in a state of... More >>

  • Best Flipper-Based Mechanical Amusements

    Free Gold Watch

    Free Gold Watch is an indie print shop ready to serve all your shirt-printing needs, but it's also home to the city's biggest pinball arcade. Appropriately enough, it's the primary haunt of the San Francisco Pinball Department, the city's only pinball league, but you don't have to be a member to make the digit counters fall. There are also some old-school video games such as Frogger and Street Fighter II, but the pinball is where it's at, including Captain Fantastic... More >>

  • Best Art in Downtown Lobbies

    By Jonathan Curiel The buildings in downtown San Francisco are as dense as any in the world, and they're easy to walk past without finding a compelling reason to go inside. Here's a reason: art in the lobby. The best lobbies in downtown San Francisco feature artwork that rivals anything in the de Young or SFMOMA. Here are five lobbies worth visiting: 101 Second Street It's a gigantic lobby with tables and chairs and glass walls that let light flood... More >>

  • Best Literary Series

    By Evan Karp From the academies to the street readings, literary series come in all varieties here. No matter what you're looking for, you'll find the following to be consistently impressive. Best Experimental Poetry In its 40th year, the nonprofit Small Press Traffic (smallpresstraffic.org) presents some of the best experimental writers and writing thinkers from around the country. Its events are often mind-bending demonstrations of the relationship between language and identity. Best Chance to Meet a Legend UC Berkeley's Holloway... More >>

  • Best Free Public Sculpture in San Francisco

    By Jonathan Curiel These works could easily be in a museum collection that required paid admission. Instead, they're free to enjoy, in a mix of outdoor and indoor settings that are de facto public galleries of the highest order. Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field They bend and point and contort — steel beams with a red patina that resembles the color of the Golden Gate Bridge. There's a reason for that: Sculptor Mark di Suvero has long been inspired... More >>

  • Best Writers Without a Book

    By Evan Karp Chances are you could make a list of more than 10 people you know right now who deserve to be on this list. In a highly unscientific Facebook poll, 124 participants answered my question: Who is your favorite Bay Area writer without a book? A total of 190 writers were nominated; unsurprisingly, "me" was the most common answer, at 14 votes. To honor that, here are 14 of our must-reads (in no particular order): Siamak Vossoughi Writes... More >>

  • Then and Now: The Real World of San Francisco

    By Alyssa Jaffer If the phrase "the reality could not be further from the truth" is not exclusively referring to reality television, it should be. Twenty years ago, San Francisco was featured in the third season of MTV's The Real World reality TV series. The original series aired in 1994, featuring eight cast members living together at a house on Lombard Street for five months. Beyond the tell-tale signs of S.F. in the '90s, like corset crop-tops and high-water jeans,... More >>

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