When the ancient Polynesians invented surfing, they often used a paddle to help them navigate. Fast-forward a few millennia, and Stand-Up Paddleboarding, or SUP, finds itself trendy again. Part of its increasing popularity is that standing upright allows surfers to spot waves more easily and thus catch more of them, multiplying the fun factor. Paddling back to the wave becomes less of a strain as well. The ability to cruise along on flat inland water, surveying the sights, is another advantage. Finally, its a good core workout. If youre sold on the idea, schedule an intro SUP lesson, free with board and paddle rental, and you may find yourself riding the waves like a Polynesian king.More
In the past 30 years, light artists have reimagined an art form that has always had the ability to turn the night sky, or a simple window, into luminescence. Last fall, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts turned its southern glass wall into a parade of sound-sensing lights, Lightswarm, that changes with the movements of nearby people and things. Future Cities Lab, the San Francisco design company behind Lightswarm, has originated another notable light sculpture. Located by the YBCA's steps at 701 Mission, Murmur Wall will light up in arresting ways as it incorporates local trending search engine results and social media postings. Onlookers can offer their own contributions, which will feed into the Murmur Wall's data stream and light up the sculpture. What's trending in San Francisco? If you're walking by the YBCA, you can see firsthand — at least through light patterns that reflect the city's volatile internet habits.
Murmur Wall debuts Thursday at 6 p.m. and continues through May 31, 2017, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., S.F. Free; 415-978-2700 or ybca.org. More
Pickup basketball is a weird social phenomenon where a bunch of strangers meet at a designated spot during a designated time to engage in an athletic competition governed by de facto rules established in some mythic rulebook.
Naima Shalhoub, a singer and advocate for incarcerated women, took her cue from Johnny Cash and B.B. King Tuesday, performing and recording her debut album, Borderlands, in front of about 75 people in County Jail #2. In honor of Mother's Day, half the proceeds from the album will be donated to re-entry programs designed to lower recidivism rates.
Shalhoub started singing when she was in elementary school, staying in choir through middle and high school before taking a 10-year break from music. While in grad school in 2010, Shalhoub became involved in community activism, took a step back, and asked herself, "What am I really passionate about?"
"I had bought a one-way ticket to Lebanon, where my family is from," Shalhoub says. "I did some soul-searching and I realized I'm going to come back to the bay and pursue music. I don't know where it's going to lead me or how but I know I just have to go for it."
Fast-forward five years, to 2015, and Shalhoub has been volunteering her time to perform at County Jail #2 every week for a year. Music and community activism remain intrinsically linked together in Shalhoub's story.
We caught up with the singer yesterday after her performance.
When and why did you start doing these musical performances at the County Jail?
It started a year ago today, on Mother's Day week, and was inspired by me wanting to A) learn more about the prison industrial complex and wanting to be more involved in changing the system, and realizing how the present-day criminal justice system is broken. And B) just asking myself, as an artist, "What can I do?"
I'm learning from people who taught yoga classes at San Quentin. So really I was inspired by other people's work. I started asking around in my community if anyone had any connections to folks in women's jails or prisons and got connected to the San Francisco County Jail and a woman on staff there named Angela Wilson. I pitched my idea of doing music sessions there and was invited to give it a try for a couple weeks. But before I even started, I was invited for a Mother's Day event to share a few songs. That was my first time going in there and sharing my music. It was a powerful experience.
Do you have anyone close to you personally that's been incarcerated?
I don't, no.
What do you think it was that sparked your passion for talking about, exposing, and educating people about the prison industrial complex?
I have a background in community organizing and activism. I got my masters in post-colonial and cultural anthropology, really understanding the way systematic violences play out in our communities. I read The New Jim Crow, you know, one thing led to another to kind of understanding how racism, sexism, classism function in the criminal justice system.
If you're not directly impacted it can start to seem like a distant population of folks. But the more I really started to learn and understand about how this system functions, the more I felt directly involved in these people's lives. It's this idea "Injustice somewhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
So I really just felt compelled to learn about it and work closely with those who are incarcerated, and hear from them personally about what their experiences are like.
Yeah, Marcus has come in with me two times. And Aaron Kierbel has come a few times. I've invited a few artists to come with me and collaborate. I also went with Marcus Shelby to play at the juvenile justice center in San Francisco once.
There's a history behind musicians playing in jails and prisons, the most famous of which is Johnny Cash at San Quentin and Folsom, but there's also Steve Earle, Wayne Kramer of the MC5, and many others. Were you inspired by any of these past examples of musicians playing in prisons?
Definitely Johnny Cash. B.B. King as well, and other artists. At a younger age it struck me but I didn't connect the dots until very recently. Like I said, just drawing the connection between the power of arts and the power of music to what's relevant to the world right now — one of those things being this new exposure to information about mass incarceration with more and more people speaking out about it. The dots just connected.
Your performance today was recorded live and will come out as your debut album Borderlands. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Yea, It's coming out as a live album. We had a five piece band. Isaac Ho on keys, Tarik Kazaleh on guitar, Aaron Kierbel on drums, and Marcus Shelby on bass. So yeah, we had a whole amazing setup today, and it was incredibly powerful. Not just being able to perform but Rhodessa Jones, founder of the Medea Project, she honored us by giving an opening ritual before we started. And she's just a legend in herself so it was an honor to have her. We closed with an open mic for the women. So actually several women came up to the mic and shared their own poetry — that was extremely powerful.
Just honoring Mother's Day, and incarcerated mothers. At one point Rhodessa asked everyone, "Who in this room is a mother?" and it seemed like 80 percent of the women raised their hands — it was just staggering. [Shalhoub voice quivers, you can hear the emotion in her tone] It was a powerful day today.
So you've been doing this every week?
Yeah, I've missed a couple weeks here and there but I've been doing this weekly.
What's the support from the staff like there?
Oh, they've been incredibly supportive. It actually blew me away. [Laughs.] I'm not the type of person to be supportive of a Sheriff's department. But this one in particular is really supportive of me being there. I mean, Angela Wilson, a staff person there, is just an angel. She has not only advocated for me but day in and day out she is doing god's work, just being there for these women. None of this would have happened without her support, and the support of the rest of the office.
The press release had a quote from the sheriff where he said some of these people are "unjustly locked up." That was pretty surprising to hear from a sheriff.
Wow, I didn't see that. I 100 percent agree with that. These women share with me their stories, and a lot of them are in there for completely unjust reasons. I don't agree with the way the drug policies are. I don't agree with this idea that imprisonment does anything for society.
Yes, there are those cases where women are in there for violent charges, but when you start to actually unravel what and why they did these things, it's because of more systemic reasons — poverty, abuse — the types of things you'll find in any textbook around the prison industrial complex. It's all true. That's what's moved me.
One thing I have learned is, I asked them in one of my classes where they would want this money to go and overwhelming it was like, "Naima, we don't have support when we get out, that's why there are high recidivism rates."
So what does the Bay Area need to do? Why are food stamps difficult to distribute to incarcerated people? Why is it hard to find jobs? Why is it hard to find houses? These are basic things that when you don't have them you have to resort to other forms of earning a living or earning your keep.
I just kind of dream of a city, Bay Area, and society where there is just more support for people in general. A lot of the reasons why people are being locked up could be alleviated if we just change our polices, laws, and the way we deal with restoration and transformation.
Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'.
Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"