We Vote for Street Dog Last week, the San Francisco Newspaper Agency -- the company that sells advertising for and distributes the Chronicle and the Examiner -- invited club, bar, theater, and restaurant owners to sit in front of a two-way mirror downtown and discuss the appeal, or lack thereof, of a proposed new insert in the Chron. Happily, the focus group was not required to sign a confidentiality statement; Riff Raff's friends in the club world were quick to soothe our burning curiosity with the particulars. The proposed insert will be a tabloid-style paper (much like the local weeklies) that will do in-depth coverage of music, art, theater, food, and film (much like the local weeklies) for an audience that finds the Datebook's weekly choices to be about as zesty as day-old bath water (much like the local weeklies). The insert would be distributed midweek (much like the local weeklies) inside the paper, and with possible additional distribution, either via drops at nightclubs, coffeehouses, record stores, and select retail outlets (much like the local weeklies) or doorstep delivery to a select demographic (i.e., twenty- to thirtysomething hipsters) in a target geographic location (i.e., Mission, SOMA, Haight). The graphics would be colorful and "youth-oriented," to accompany equally colorful and "youth-oriented" columns on club fashion, DJ culture, and gay nightlife with the possibility of an "edgy horoscope" or "sassy sex columnists" (much like the local weeklies). Just to shake things up a bit, there is the promise of a two-page calendar spread, complete with superkeen highlights and eye-catching photos (much like the local weeklies). Apparently, the new tabloid would be designed to compete directly with the weeklies (much like the local weeklies). Our focus-group moles report a mock-up sporting a goateed turntablist cover boy accompanying a lead story written by Chronicle contributor Billy Jam, who's also written for both SF Weekly and the Bay Guardian, and a newsy scene column by the Chron's brightest and youngest new addition, ex-SF Weekly contributor James Sullivan. Sounds great to us! What could be better? How 'bout a really cool name, like the options given to our focus group: SF Date, SF Weekend, Hot Pink, The Purple, Street Dog, or Lick? Votes are still out. (S.T.)
It's a Benefit! Despite a rich history -- as a lesbian hangout in the '30s, as a taxi dance-hall in the '40s, and as a folk and comedy club that presented the likes of the Smothers Brothers and Woody Allen through the '60s -- the Purple Onion of late has been idiosyncratic. Over the past couple of years, Tom Guido -- the club's wild-haired, skateboarding proprietor -- has paid bands and bills erratically and advertised shows according to some impish whim. Still, the Onion is one of the last clubs where a person can see a good garage band for $5, and that counts for something. So say local faves the Hi-Fives, Saturn V, and the Dukes of Hamburg. Word has it that the Onion is in financial need and, as San Francisco is losing clubs faster than a speed addict loses teeth, the groups have agreed to play for free on Saturday, April 18, to benefit the basement emporium. It's not the first time and it won't be the last. "Hey, every time we play the Purple Onion, we regret it," says Johnny Bartlett, guitarist for Saturn V and the Sugar King Boys. "But we like to know it's there." (S.T.)
This Is Not an Obituary After a three-year bout with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Tim Yohannan, the fiftysomething punk rocker and tireless activist, died Friday, April 3, at home under hospice care with friends nearby. Yohannan had a hand in just about every punk institution that mattered in the Bay Area. He was instrumental in helping create the Gilman Street club in Berkeley, the Epicenter Zone record store and community space in San Francisco, and Maximum RocknRoll, whose influence was worldwide. In his will, Yohannan asked his friends and successors at the magazine to withhold any obituaries. In keeping with his wishes, several of his closest friends declined to talk with us. (J.S.)
Wait, Didn't We Melt in the Original Blast? This week's most unlikely metaphor comes from the pages of the Boston Phoenix. (J.S.)
As the atomic bomb changed the world, so the explosive emergence of a new concert-business conglomerate threatens to transform the $1.3 billion live-music industry. A half-billion-dollar spending spree has made SFX Entertainment a superpower -- the first nationwide concert promoter. And when the mushroom cloud of its birth clears and the giant begins flexing its muscle, the shock waves may affect everyone from booking agents to artists to competing promoters and -- most important -- you.
It's (Another) Benefit! Late last year, Home Away From Homelessness -- a charitable organization that provides a safe environment in the Marin Headlands for street kids and their families -- suffered a serious hardship when its drop-in center at Fort Mason caught fire. In order to help HAFH rebuild, "New Wave City" will donate 100 percent of its proceeds on Friday, April 17, at Club Townsend while spinning party faves like Duran Duran, Madness, and Siouxsie Sioux. Call 675-5683. (J.D.P.)
"For the record, we never broke up. We just took a 14-year vacation.": Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Karl D. Esturbense (K.D.E.), Jeff Stark (J.S.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), Heather Wisner (H.W.), and Bill Wyman (B.W.). Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.