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Riff Raff 

Wednesday, Sep 30 1998
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Confidential to the Lastnameless and Lowercased essence We're hurt. You know that Riff Raff cares about you and your ongoing romps through the strange confluence of music and fashion. We've reported almost every significant development of your blossoming career. We have favorably compared your fashion cunning with that of a young Madonna. We've dutifully described your delicate decolletage. Sheesh, you've probably even heard the flickering rumor that we have essence trading cards in the works. So why, essence, why? Last week we found the photo above coyly taped to a light pole outside the Paradise Lounge. We repeat: We found the above photo strapped to a common fleche on the street. What's the meaning of this? There was a time when you kept us abreast of your fashion follies; when you wouldn't think of unveiling a new look without alerting us first; when we shared the joy of a harpoon and an ocelot hat together. We're not mad, essence. No, we're not mad. We're hurt. (J.S.)

Lately, I Keep Moving After 12 years in San Francisco and almost as many albums recorded, introspective singer and songwriter Barbara Manning is leaving our fair city. "It's getting too expensive," says Manning. "I can't survive here any longer." Manning, an '80s prototype of the '90s confessional and quietly angry grrrl chick, is a former Matador recording artist and a veteran of indie luminaries S.F. Seals, World of Pooh, and 28th Day. When she lost her current Inner Sunset apartment in an owner move-in eviction, she decided that she'd try out life on the road. On Saturday, Oct. 3, she plays a farewell show at the Boomerang with Jim Greer. Manning's three-month tour and subsequent European jaunt will support her latest record, In New Zealand, a spare and solemn flexagon of songs written and recorded with the guys from Calexico, the Clean's David Kilgour, and the Tall Dwarfs' Chris Knox. Manning says she's sorry to go, but she thinks she can mine her current situation for more songs. "Change is good for you; it's good for an artist," says Manning. "I'm desperate right now and I'm in a fiery mood." (J.S.)

Anal Retentive The Invisibl Skratch Piklz finally relieved an itch to scratch for their own record label. The celebrated local DJ collective has just launched Galactic Butt Hair. Although the name of the label is nothing unusual for the kind of guys who release songs with titles like "Klamz ov Deth" and "Camel Bobsled Race," the silly moniker for the record company wasn't a unanimous decision. Q-bert argued that sweat shirts with "Galactic Butt Hair" printed across the front might not appeal to feminine sensibilities. (Riff Raff thinks he may have a point.) "Q-bert wanted the name to be something normal like 'Scratch Records,' " says Pikl and Pikl manager Richie Desvasido (aka Yogafrog). "But I figured that if we opted for a normal name now, it would be even weirder." The far less weird Galactic Butt Hair will release Q-bert's Wave Twisters this November. The project is supposedly a concept album in the spirit of The Wall or Yellow Submarine. Each of the 17 tracks accompanies a different chapter in a yet-to-be-released Skratch Piklz animated cartoon that the Piklz want to release in mid-1999. Desvasido says the label is not the exclusive spot for all future Piklz releases, but it will always remain an option for any of the five members. "We're still free to do stuff on other labels," he says. "This just gives us the freedom to do stuff on our own." (R.A.)

Roses Are Red/ Daisies Are White/ We Swear This Is the Last Piece/ On Jewel's Poetry We'll Write It was bound to happen. Sensitive ex-Alaskan folkie Jewel met reams of hatred upon publication of her first collection of poems, A Night Without Armor, earlier this year. Now that hatred has been quantified: In a recent survey sponsored by MTV, 7 percent of the 300 14- to 30-year-olds polled chose Jewel as the artist they'd want to erase from the face of the Earth. (Hanson got 26 percent of the votes.) With all that hatred and obsession rolling about, it's no surprise that somebody's thought to parody Jewel's poems. It's just that Beau Sia thought of it first. The Chinese-American, New York City-based slam poet recently released A Night Without Armor II: The Revenge, a collection of his own poems. Borrowing titles from Jewel, he claims to have pumped out the 120-page tome in four hours. "We already have some things in common," he writes in the open letter to Jewel that begins the book. "You're from Alaska and I'm from Oklahoma. Both of these states end with the letter 'a'." There are no more similarities. If Jewel is trying to forge in the smithy of her soul the uncreated conscience of her demographic, Sia's just trying to get laid. His poems read like a sex-obsessed 22-year-old who, well, wrote over 100 poems in four hours. At least they're funny. An excerpt from "Love Poem": "if we die tonight, we might as well be having the greatest sex of our lives./ with each other, of course." Sia has also released his first CD, Attack! Attack! Go!, a collection of his poems with Casio-happy accompaniment. Fair warning for the 7-percenters out there: Jewel's sophomore album, Spirit, is slated for November release. (Mark Athitakis)

Free Ink It's not often that music photographers get the recognition they deserve. Even a professional shutterbug is rarely rewarded with more than a microscopic byline clinging to the edge of her picture. Gallery space? Forget it. Fine art photographers have a hard enough time finding white walls; imagine what happens to people who spend most of their time around rock stars. That's bad news for the folks who appreciate rock pictures as well as the people who actually take them. Sympathizers can march to Aquarius Records in the Mission to see "Local Music: Past, Present, and Future," an eight-week photography exhibition showcasing every genre of music, and -- more importantly -- the photographers themselves. The walls will feature home-grown punks, hip hoppers, country bumpkins, and rockers at their best, and, of course, their ugliest. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7, at Aquarius. (J.D.P.)

Riff Raff riffraff: Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Jeff Stark (J.S.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), and Heather Wisner (H.W.). Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to jstark@sfweekly.com, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.

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