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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Contemporary Jewish Museum Recalls Bill Graham and The Summer of Love

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2016 at 11:30 AM

Bill Graham and his son David, 1969 - CJM
  • CJM
  • Bill Graham and his son David, 1969

Bill Graham (1931-1991) was an impresario like no other. 

Graham was the genius behind the legendary Fillmore, the venue that still operates at the corner of Fillmore Street and Geary Boulevard. Graham's work as a concert promoter at The Fillmore was pivotal in establishing the legacies of the many musical icons who came of age during the late 1960s. Legends including Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, The Jefferson Airplane, and numerous other performers from San Francisco and beyond made musical history at The Fillmore. 

The Contemporary Jewish Museum now pays homage to Graham's breathtaking career with Bill Graham and the Rock and Roll Revolutioncurrently on display through July 5. The exhibition is a treasure trove of Graham memorabilia, a journey back to an era which changed the country. 

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Queer Photo Journalists Document Community History At SF Public Library

Posted By on Mon, Nov 2, 2015 at 12:00 PM

Local drag icon Heklina at the Castro Theater, 2005 - RICK GERHARTER
  • Rick Gerharter
  • Local drag icon Heklina at the Castro Theater, 2005

For many years, Rick Gerharter and Jane Philomen Cleland have been the photographers-in-residence at Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco's venerable LGBT weekly. They've covered scores of events: Pride Parades, street fairs, political rallies, openings at the Castro Theater, and much more. Their work now stands as an historical document of the queer community as it existed over the past several decades.

Gerharter and Cleland have now joined forces. Their new photo exhibit Daily and Transcendent: 25+ Years of Queer Photo Journalistic Portraits , is now underway in the Jewett Gallery on the lower level of the San Francisco Main Library. The show will remain on exhibition through Jan. 3, 2016.

Gerharter and Cleland spoke to SF Weekly about their work and about the exhibition.

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Kathleen Neal Cleaver Remembers Her Time with the Black Panthers

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 11:30 AM

Kathleen Neal Cleaver, Communications Secretary, Black Panther Party, Oakland, 1968. - COURTESY OF JEFFREY BLANKFORT
  • Courtesy of Jeffrey Blankfort
  • Kathleen Neal Cleaver, Communications Secretary, Black Panther Party, Oakland, 1968.

When Kathleen Neal was recruited to join the Black Panther Party in 1967, it was political and personal for the college student. On one hand she wanted to spread consciousness about black oppression and exploitation. On the other she was madly in love with party member Eldridge Cleaver, and he needed her to help save founding member Huey Newton from the death penalty. It's this humanity underneath the black berets and at the heart of the black leather trench coats that award-winning documentarian Stanley Nelson aimed to capture in The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. This comprehensive, well-balanced documentary chronicles the history of the revolutionary organization from its formation in Oakland in 1966 to its tragic implosion. SF Weekly spoke to Kathleen Neal Cleaver, today a faculty member of the Emory University School of Law, who also holds an appointment at Yale University’s African American Studies Department, about the film, which opens Oct. 2, finding love amid the turmoil, and the Panthers' legacy.

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Bohemian Grave: The Montgomery Block

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2015 at 4:15 PM


Welcome to Bohemian Grave, a semi-regular feature on the vanished countercultural history of San Francisco, from long before anyone started lamenting the impending demise of Lucky 13

When the Transamerica Pyramid was completed in 1972, the 853-foot tower was the eighth-tallest building in the world. It did not hold that record for long; in the 43 years since, it has fallen out of the top 100. Prior to its construction, the site was a parking lot, but before that, the block bounded by Montgomery, Washington, and Clay streets was home to another famous (and now-forgotten) structure, the Montgomery Block.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Vintage S.F. Ads: Piggly Wiggly and the Melancholy of Listerine

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 11:00 AM


Old newspapers are fascinating, but they’re usually only found nestled between empty beer cans and dead housecats at hoarder houses. We recently took a tour through the archives of our sister publication, the San Francisco Examiner, and found some astounding news:

The Bay Area was once awash in Piggly Wigglys!

The iconic Memphis chain — which killed the old-fashioned general store and pioneered the “get it your damn self” supermarket concept in the early 1900s — apparently spread all the way to the Pacific Ocean before retreating to the Deep South again. An ad from July 29, 1929 (just a few scant months before the Wall Street crash!) shows El Puerco Aquado dotting the Peninsula from S.F. to Menlo Park and even South San Francisco.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Tourism for Locals: Coit Tower Murals Reveal Best View of SF Life

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2015 at 8:00 AM

One of the murals depicting a slice a San Francisco life circa the 1930s—complete with a gun in hand robbery. - JUAN DE ANDA
  • Juan De Anda
  • One of the murals depicting a slice a San Francisco life circa the 1930s—complete with a gun in hand robbery.

Coit Tower
has taken on a royal blue hue in the last few days with the Golden State Warriors leading in Pacific Division championships against the Memphis Grizzlies of the 2015 NBA playoffs. Yet whether they hang on to their lead and advance and the blue lighting remains, there's still a 80-year-old masterpiece consisting of 27 pieces depicting a San Francisco of days gone by.  

If an excuse is needed to visit touristy Telegraph Hill, don't make it about the view (we've seen better) but for the Coit Tower Murals. 

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Two New Apps Redefine San Francisco Audio Tours

Posted By on Wed, Apr 8, 2015 at 8:00 AM

  • Courtesy Jake Stimpson, Flickr Creative Commons

Walking the streets of San Francisco with headphones in your ears may seem like the perfect way to shut out your surroundings – but two new audio tour apps would have you do just the opposite. Guidekick and Detour, both only a few months old, are pushing the boundaries of what it means to take a stroll through the city. The former uses audio content and 3-D maps to bring San Francisco’s historic sites to life, while the latter guides listeners through neighborhoods via elegantly produced podcasts. According to the creatives behind the two apps, an audio tour revolution is on the horizon – and San Francisco is the testing ground.

For Mark Paddon, Guidekick’s CEO, it all started thousands of miles from home. On a trip to Machu Picchu, the Pacifica native and his friends realized that their exploration of the ruins lacked historical accompaniment. They wanted to be “teleported back in time,” Paddon says, in order to better understand the site's history. There could be an app for that, they decided – and they could create it.

So they returned to their Bay Area base and began an experiment in teleportation. “We want to recreate how San Francisco’s historic sites were in their golden age,” says Paddon. His vision comes across most clearly in Guidekick’s tour of the Sutro Baths, where a combination of storytelling, music, and 3-D maps transforms the weathered stones and stagnant pools into the crowded 19th-century bathhouse. Paddon is working on tours of Union Square, the Ferry Building, and Fisherman’s Wharf – tourist attractions, to be sure, but he sees Guidekick as more than just fanny pack entertainment. “The most rewarding thing is when locals who have been to these places before experience it in a new and transformative way,” he says. “We have plans to expand, but we definitely want to nail it here in San Francisco.”

Ben Adair, Detour’s Head of Content, is similarly convinced of San Francisco’s auditory promise: “It’s a walking city, and it’s small enough not to be completely overwhelming,” he says. Detour also produces audio stories, but in place of 3-D maps, Detour’s visual component is the listener’s surroundings – the stories reference specific buildings and shops at the precise time a pedestrian encounters them. While Guidekick explores San Francisco’s historic sites, Detour has listeners wandering all over the city, with tours centered around themes (trash, architecture), neighborhoods (the Tenderloin), and epochs (The Beat Generation). Veteran audio-journalists from shows like This American Life and Planet Money produce Detour's content, which aims to take podcasting to another level. “Podcasts do a really good job of explaining,” Adair says. “Our storytelling adds another dimension, which is exploration. We consider this a new medium for storytelling.”

Does this mean future urban wanderers will spend their time hunched over their phones? No, says Adair. Like Guidekick's Paddon, he hopes the audio stories will provide a new way for San Franciscans to experience their city.

“The goal isn’t just entertainment," Adair says. "It’s understanding.”
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Friday, March 20, 2015

Tourism for Locals: Visiting Diego Rivera's The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 11:26 AM

A Diego Rivera masterpiece in San Francisco,  The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City. - JUAN DE ANDA
  • Juan De Anda
  • A Diego Rivera masterpiece in San Francisco, The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City.

San Francisco is home to many of the finest artists of the 20th century and the new millennium, whose works foster artistic rebellion and social critique. The City has played host to one of the greatest modernist painters of the 20th century, whose style exemplified revolutionary renegade art: Diego Rivera.

For those who don't know who he is, aside from his portrayal by the actor Alfred Molina in the 2002 Academy Award-winning film Frida starring Salma Hayek, Rivera was an enigmatic painter who fostered the muralist style of painting in Mexico at the turn of the last century.

Along with artists Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfredo Siqueiros, Rivera created allegorical and fantastical depictions of traditional indigenous cultures alongside uplifting and humane characterizations of working-class people that were welded with visions of a utopian future under socialism. The purpose of the muralist movement was to create public art that would educate those who were from low-income backgrounds, but also appeal to the aesthetic tastes of those from the higher rungs of the social ladder.

The first commissioned murals that Rivera painted outside of Mexico were in San Francisco.

Between 1930 and 1940, he painted murals in San Francisco, Detroit, and New York that focused on social and cultural progress through industry and technology. Here, he painted three murals, aiding him in getting global recognition for his technique and use of color. One of those works is titled The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City

Located inside the San Francisco Art Institute, the mural was commissioned by SFAI President William Gerstle, and was completed by Rivera in the course of one month, from May 1–May 31, 1931. Living up to its name, the fresco shows the building of a city and the making of a fresco, including the various individuals involved in the commission, such as artist assistants, architects, and general laborers.

The central figure of a helmeted worker, rendered in supernatural proportion, is the primary subject of the mural within the mural, thus driving home Rivera's belief of the importance of the industrial worker. Rivera makes an appearance in this mural, looking up to  the work, wielding palette and paintbrush, his back to the viewer. 

This is one of three Rivera murals in the city. The other two: The Allegory of California and Pan American Unity are located in The Pacific Stock Exchange and City College of San Francisco, respectively.

The gallery is open to the public from 8 a.m.until 9 p.m. daily

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Tourism for Locals: Palace of Fine Arts Celebrates its 100th Anniversary

Posted By on Fri, Feb 6, 2015 at 7:55 AM

  • Wikipedia

This week's Tourism for Locals breaks with tradition.

Since the inaugural post of this column in 2013, I vowed that we would never feature sites that were typical tourist attractions, in an effort to show a taste of the real San Francisco, a local's guide of our important and treasured sites. Along with Fisherman's Wharf and Golden Gate Bridge, The Palace of Fine Arts could be considered a part of this list, but we're making an exception because the Greco-Roman is celebrating its centennial birthday this month!

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

#SFBorn: 10 Celebrities You Didn't Know Were from San Francisco

Posted By on Wed, Feb 4, 2015 at 2:59 PM

  • All Images Courtesy of Wikipedia
  • San Francisco born.

Ever wondered who was born in San Francisco that grew up to be famous (or infamous)? Well, some won't surprise you, but we bet a few will! 

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    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.'"