The San Francisco Street Food Festival was another success this year. Dozens of vendors with original, unheard-of creations, such as deep fried mac and cheese on a stick, black pea paste pancakes, and Korean quesadillas. Then there was the comfort foods we've grown accustomed to, like creme bruleé, shrimp rolls, and pound cake. Photographs by Mabel Jimenez.
Buried deep down in the very core of our hearts is the passion to perform. We secretly want to dress in 1960s get-up, strap on a ukulele, and do Tiny Tim covers. No? Maybe that's just us. However, we can all agree on the burning desire to perform and create art. The hard part (besides mustering up the courage to show the world our undeniable talent) is finding a comfortable, acceptable, and supportive audience. That's were Smack Dab enters the picture. A monthly open mic that's everything we just described and more. Regardless of your orientation, age, or gender, everyone gets their five minutes of fame. Along with the performers signing up beforehand is a featured artist who changes monthly. A recent featured artist was Fleigh, a ukulele duo composed of Flynn DeMarco and Leigh Crowe. Flynn + Leigh = Fleigh.More
Believing writers should be read and not viewed, John Steinbeck rarely made appearances. However, he made an exception for an unusual 20th Century Fox film anthology based on stories by another American author he admired. O. Henry's Full House (1952) paired five popular studio directors, including The Big Sleep's Howard Hawks and True Grit's Henry Hathaway, with five short scripts dealing with crime, poverty, illness, and, in a very ironic way, the spirit of holiday giving. Combine Full House with The Curse of the Cat People (1944), a peculiar winter's tale about a lonely young girl whose overactive imagination steers her toward tragedy, and you've got a perfect Noir City Xmas. Host Eddie Muller is revealing 2015's Noir City lineup, including the two movies most recently preserved for posterity by the Film Noir Foundation, and introducing a short documentary featuring the festival.More
Thousands descended onto Post Street through Japantown during the J-Pop Summit Festival from July 19-20. The celebration of Japanese Pop culture and Japanese Heritage attracted residents and visitors from all over the world. Photographs by Christopher Victorio.
At this point, MGM’s 1939 The Wizard of Oz is so inextricably tangled up with L. Frank Baum's novels that any new adaptation of his work inevitably references the visual motifs, characterizations, and music of Victor Fleming's film.
Despite its distributor's best efforts, Christian Petzold's Barbara was not nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2013 Oscars -- and even if it had made the cut, it probably wouldn't have bested Haneke's Amour.
Nerd Nite is a monthly event that celebrates the joys of intellectual discovery and booze. This November the nerds of S.F. are taking over the rock club Rickshaw Stop for three lectures: one on genomes, one on the history of vibrators, and one on brains. It's up to you to figure out how they all fit together! (Hint: The brain is the largest erogenous zone, and it's made by genes.) The talks will be presented by Ph.D. holders Moises Bernal, legendary sexpert Carol Queen, and Erica Warp, over cocktails and with musical interludes by Alpha Bravo. Despite being a drinking-friendly event, it's open to all ages.
There's snow in the forecast at Aquarium of the Bay! On two special days, our river otters will delight in a winter white treat as we add snow to our North American river otter gallery. Join us on Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 to see our otters romp and roll in the holiday snow. With over 600 pounds of snow being added, Shasta, Baxter, and Ryer will get to explore, play, dig, (and eat) in a winter wonderland as a fun treat to end the year.More
Save 20-50% on Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins at Berkeley Rep! Two-time Tony and Oscar nominee Kathleen Turner is all smarts and sass as the brassy, sharp-witted political journalist. “Wonderful, entertaining and illuminating,” raves Huffington Post. As a reader of SF Weekly, you can save 20% (50% if you’re under 30!) on all four performances from December 18-20. Just use the code SF WEEKLY online (or click here) and save!More
Roads of Arabia
Oct 24–Jan 18
Asian Art Museum
Over the last 40 years, archaeologists in Saudi Arabia have unearthed astonishing artifacts from the Arabian peninsula, radically changing our understanding of the region's ancient past. The Asian Art Museum's new exhibition Roads of Arabia features some of these remarkable discoveries, like giant human statues, stone tools, Greco-Roman bronzes, gold jewelry and pages from early Qur'ans. More than 200 artworks--many of which were recently excavated--reveal a lively commercial and cultural exchange among civilizations from antiquity through the early centuries of Islam. See what you'll dig up in Roads of Arabia. The Asian Art Museum is the final venue for this exhibition. Share your finds on social with #RoadsofArabia.More
A proposition: Finding gems of underdogs far down in the CD pile is way more fun than picking the best of anything. Look around at most Top 10 Albums lists this year, and you'll likely be bored by the (admittedly warranted) sameness. Glaze over at our Top 10 soon (there will be some surprises!) but before that here's something we're really excited about: Records that we heard, that we loved, that aren't going to top any "best" lists but don't deserve to be forgotten just yet. Some of these were praised mightily but didn't catch on; others were unfairly dismissed; still others were barely paid any pixels at all. Ten albums, all good, a few great, not the best, but nonetheless:
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The Mynabirds -- What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood (Saddle Creek)
Our status: Obsessed.
Fame profile: Politely praised, largely ignored.
Regarding: Laura Burhenn (formerly of D.C. outfit Georgie James) aimed to start a band that sounded like Neil Young playing Motown; she did so, and appropriately named it after a project the famous Canuck had back in the '60s with a then-unheard-of dude by the name of Rick James. The resulting piano-driven soul grooves are as snappy as you'd hope. Burhenn's whiskey-thickened purrs lend her songs a timeless hue, and her plain-as-day lyrics ("You know that the numbers don't lie/ Two wrongs do not make a right") convey every cliched grain of Real Feeling. The only thing better than Richard Swift's spacious, velvety production on What We Lose is the edge Burhenn and crew give these songs on stage.
Fame profile: Uh, slippery tires and a very low drag coefficient.
Owners' manual: Car-obsessed electronic beat music from a French duo, but bearing the obvious similarities, Bot'ox doesn't much recall Justice or Daft Punk. This minimalist tour-de-force is more like enchanted Teutonic disco -- like if, instead of two animatronic Deutschmen, Kraftwerk was instead populated by silly, svelte Italians wearing pink polo shirts and white driving gloves. They love their machines, sure, but there's a human spirit -- and some real vocals! -- under all those candy-apple red hoods and prancing equines and filter sweeps and synth lines. We'd rather drive at triple-digit speeds down midnight avenues while listening to this than any other record that came out this year.
Bottom line: Reminds us that electronic music can be quirky, dark, fun, and unpredictable.
Latest chart: Raised in Orange County, educated at USC, fired by a large accounting firm, converted from rapper-producer to soul crooner, Aloe Blacc is on a roll. Here's why: His voice could melt butter, hearts, and probably gold; his lyrics, particularly "I Need A Dollar," below, describe the basic struggle of 2K10. Blacc may be copping hugely from Curis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye and others -- both for the creamy vocal sound and this album's basic '70s soul getup -- but that ain't gonna matter once you give Good Things a few spins. There's token reggae, funk, and even a Velvet Underground cover ("Femme Fatale") for variety, but it's really Blacc's warm larynx and wise words that earn Good Things a spot on this list.
Final diagnosis: "I Need A Dollar" is this year's theme song.
We say: Amazing Latin jazz-funk-psych-rock, and you should care.
They say: Amazing Latin jazz-funk-psych-rock.
Also: Pretty much legends of live music in the difficult-to-please town of Austin, there really isn't much dispute that Grupo Fantasma is a remarkable set of musicians. But El Existential blows our hair back with its border-crossing bravery: bolstering proggy jazz-rock with Force-10 Latin rhythm suave, exploding into clouds of fuzzy psych-guitar, falling back into grin-inducing funk, and throwing in (why not?) a muted trumpet solo. This is the sound of great musicians playing by no rules except their own. Behold.
Allo Darlin' -- Allo Darlin (Fortuna Pop!) For us: On repeat. For them: The best new band to earn the descriptor "twee" in a long time, but still mostly unheard-of. The argyle report: We're glad Belle and Sebastian put out a new album this year, but even if they hadn't, we'd have gotten our fill of heart-meltingly cute twee-pop from these Londoners. Precious and quirky male-female vocals, rainstorms of reverby guitar, and plenty of cool and/or obscure references in the lyrics (see "Woody Allen") check off almost every box on the list. Sure they're not from Glasglow, but after a few listens, you'll forget that -- Allo Darlin' has idiosyncrasies all its own. And if Elizabeth Morris' voice doesn't make you smile, well, no music is going to help whatever's wrong with you. Verdict: They quote, adorably, from Weezer's "El Scorcho" in one song. So, yeah.
Wolf People -- Steeple (Jagjaguwar) Our take: Terrible band name, rad music. Larger view: Who? Explanation: Quirky British psych-folk with flutes, crackling guitar solos, and some seriously celtic vocal melodies. Similar to Aussie wizards Tame Impala, but a bit more buttoned down and forthcoming. We really don't know why we didn't hear more about this record -- it's among the most proficient psych-rock expeditions we found all year. Declaration: Generations of WASP blood in our veins leaves us no choice but to enjoy.
Middle Class Rut -- No Name No Color (Bright Antenna) Another terrible name: Yes, but again, ignore that for now. Has anyone noticed?: Neither the name nor the music, as far as we can tell. Yes, really: Middle Class Rut is two dudes from Sacramento who figured out that the other people in their bands were just mucking things up. And while their melodramatic, titanic sound lands dangerously close to the bratty-teen emo-metal we love to hate, we find an irresistible magnetism in the racket of Zack Lopez and Sean Stockham. Maybe it's the Rage Against the Machine quality of Lopez's nearly percussive guitar playing, maybe it's the hysterical angst in his throat-grating vocals, maybe it's the seemingly arena-tuned climaxes these furious songs reach -- frankly, we're kind mystified. But we really dig it, whatever it is. Report card: Put this on and start a moshpit. And invite us. "New Low," below:
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The Jim Jones Revue -- The Jim Jones Revue (Punk Rock Blues) We say: The purest incarnation of rock 'n' roll we've heard in a long time. Others say: Well, Mojo's editor called this "the best damn rock 'n' roll band on the planet." Hype check: If Jerry Lee Lewis joined the John Spencer Blues Explosion, they'd probably sound something like the Jim Jones Revue. This is take-no-prisoners barroom rock 'n' roll, led by palm-pounding piano and recorded with so much noise and grit that it sounds pretty much like the joyous explosion at the end of the world. Conclusion: The hype is deserved.