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Riff Raff 

Wednesday, Feb 26 1997
Lost at Sea Early Saturday morning, Feb. 15, DJ party promoters Nomad Interactive hosted "Splish," a Valentine's Day cruise held aboard the vessel Jack London Commodore. At 2 a.m., not even an hour into the cruise, 20-year-old Tavaris Willis, a visitor from Murietta, Ga., jumped from the rear of the third deck and fell 26 feet into the 55-degree water at the mouth of the Oakland Estuary. Security guard Richard Ortega, 28, a San Francisco resident, immediately leapt into the bay without a life jacket. He was last seen swimming away from the boat toward Willis. No bodies have been recovered. Fleet Cmdr. Ward Proesher says that the crew played by the book: "There was some delay in word getting to the bridge that there were people overboard, but once aware, we whipped the vessel around immediately. When we got close, we saw a flashlight in the water that flickered out, and we never saw anything again." He says that the crew threw out a green, lighted buoy as four Coast Guard search-and-rescue boats arrived on the scene from Station S.F. at Yerba Buena Island. The search continued for well beyond the six hours that a human could possibly survive the cold temperature of the bay water. Willis and friends were in good spirits that night, and he gave no indication that he was upset in any way, says Nicole Lovell, 21, who was with Willis' group moments before he jumped. "We were all at the back edge of the boat talking when the wind started picking up, so we all headed inside to get a drink," says Lovell. "That's when we realized that Tavaris hadn't followed; he simply wasn't there." The rumors began immediately. Some said Willis was less than sober, that he was involved in an altercation with another man about "good and evil," and that Willis leapt overboard out of fright. However, according to Ryan Jacobs, another friend of Willis, "He was an outgoing, intelligent guy who had a lot of positive energy that night." The reaction of the crowd on the boat varied between concern over potential loss of life and concern over getting their money's worth from DJs Doc Martin and Jeno. Jacobs, who's no stranger to boat parties, says that every other experience has been extremely positive, passing without incident. (Indeed, Cmdr. Proesher says he's seen only one other overboard death in 25 years.) "It wasn't a good representation of the community scene normally gathered at DJ parties," says Jacobs. "It was heavy with a bridge-and-tunnel crowd who didn't understand the community vibe." (Robert Arriaga)

DV8 2B 86'd Come April, Club DV8 will be shutting its doors forever. It was nearly 12 years ago that the notorious Dr. Winkie opened his 40,000-foot dance club, which was popularized by such DJ nights as "Lift," "Spundae," and "Release" (already relocated to 1015 Folsom). Its closing marks the end of an era. "There is a lot of sadness in closing," says the 43-year-old Winkie. "DV8 was a part of San Francisco history, but you've got to keep up with the times." For Winkie, this means transforming Club DV8 into a 20,000-foot upscale supper club -- complete with two dance floors, seating for 150, a cigar room, an oyster bar, valet parking, and, as is Winkie's way, a private club upstairs. In the recent glut of supper club openings in San Francisco -- Essex, Julie Ring's Heart & Soul, Bruno's, Eleven, Infusion, Coconut Grove -- only the latter has the space to compete with Winkie's master plan, but even that does not give him reason for pause. "The Coconut Grove is large and upscale, but its prices reflect that," he says. "We will be more moderate." Dr. Winkie, who is scheduled to open a second restaurant in Los Angeles this June (Les Deux Cafe), appreciates that a good restaurant is always welcome in San Francisco. "Food will be our first priority," he emphasizes. "The dancing and entertainment will follow." Scheduled renovations should leave DV8 virtually unrecognizable. Wood paneling, velvet, polished concrete, marble, and cast aluminum will be the touches that eventually transfigure the club's dance-'til-dawn atmosphere into the classy environs of the new Stork Club (no relation to the East Bay club). The lush dining hall will supplant DV8's infamous Keith Haring Room -- the Harings, in fact, are already gone, but Winkie has commissioned award-winning SFMOMA muralist Barry McGee to fill the void -- and the pounding of dance music will be replaced by more sophisticated fare (perhaps Winkie's father-in-law, Eddie Fisher, will have some strings to pull in that regard). "We are making a complete transformation, elevating it to another level," says Winkie. "There are plenty of clubs in San Francisco to satisfy the dance scene." The Stork Club is scheduled to open in April. The dance night sponsored by Wild 107 moved to the Trocadero last Friday, but all other DV8 dance nights will continue right up until the club's closing in March. It's sure to be a party. (Silke Tudor)

Luck of the Draw Interesting sight at the Castro Tower Video last Sunday morning as U2 tix went on sale: A guy in a blazer, first in line, squats on a tiny portable stool. Around 9:30 a.m., the Tower security person distributes little red carnival tickets to randomize the line. (Say you have tickets numbered 1 to 100. A number is drawn. Say it's 43. The rest of the tickets are randomly distributed. Whoever drew 44 goes to the front of the line, 45 second, then 46, and so forth. The process makes it pointless to camp out overnight to be first in line.) Anyway, the guy in the blazer draws an unhelpful number -- but within minutes, he's joined by someone he describes as his wife, who drew the ticket that put her first in line. And just a few minutes later, another fellow -- who from his low-voiced conversations with the blazer guy seems to be a friend or associate -- turns up with the ticket that puts him second in line. The woman turns her ticket over to the guy in the blazer, and he and his friend purchase the first 20 tickets on sale at that outlet that morning, at $52.50 to $37.50 per. Coincidence? Perhaps. As the myriad ads for high-priced seats for big shows attest, the scalpers are getting their tickets somewhere -- a process that systematically turns the front rows of major rock concerts into havens for the wealthy. Riff Raff thinks that you shouldn't be allowed to buy 10 tickets at a throw: Most people who need that many are either scalpers or polygamous families. Second, BASS and promoters like Bill Graham Presents should consider randomizing ticket assignments. For shows that seem likely to sell out, you should pay your money and get a randomly assigned group of seats. Some shows you'll luck out for; others you won't. It would make the process more fair for everyone -- and make it tougher for the scalpers. (Bill Wyman)

Rescene "Popscene," the Britpop night hosted by DJs Eric Shea and Omar, moves from Cat's Grill & Alley Club to 330 Ritch Street, starting Thursday, Feb. 27, at 10 p.m., with a $5 cover. (Johnny DiPaola)

Tiny Bubbles A weekly Monday night show hosted by songwriter Ian Brennan has been drawing local musicians to an unlikely spot -- Brain Wash, a strange little SOMA laundro-club that offers a full menu and live entertainment while your clothes tumble. "[Brennan] seems to know just about everybody in the business," says Brain Wash booker Justin Phelps, "so the variety show has been working out very well." Each week Brennan opens the evening accompanied by an impromptu mini-orchestra including strings, horns, and the occasional didgeridoo. After his set, the featured band -- often friends of Brennan -- plays a bit, then the whole crew sits down for a hootenanny of sorts. Brennan, who has recorded seven solo albums on his label Toy Gun Murder Records, finds the mix of musicians invigorating. "We challenge each other," he says. "It keeps things interesting and fresh." Interesting enough, in fact, that Brennan has decided to put his money where his mouth is. In June his label will release a compilation titled Sorting Socks (S.F. Songwriters Come Clean), featuring 20 bands who have graced the Brain Wash floor, including the Naked Barbies, the Eric McFadden Experience, Portashrine, and Helen Keller Plaid, among others. "At the moment, I'm footing the bill," says Brennan. "Hopefully, we'll make the money back at the other end. If each band sells a couple copies it should be fine because the album is going to be a good one. We're trying to build a community on Monday nights. If the first volume is successful, other volumes will follow." Bands interested in being involved should send demos to PO Box 410025, San Francisco, CA 94141-0025. (S.T.)

Selvin Watch That was a pretty weird book review Chron pop music critic Joel Selvin wrote Monday. It was about The Mansion on the Hill (see Curtis Bonney's take on it in this issue, Page 31), which Selvin describes as being about "the careers of three [music] industry magnates -- Albert Goldman, David Geffen, and Jon Landau." "That's odd," we thought -- Albert Goldman wasn't a magnate. Wasn't he the guy who wrote those muckraking biographies of Elvis Presley and John Lennon? Selvin says that Goldman looked like Ben Franklin and lived in Woodstock, N.Y., and doesn't mention any books. Then we figured it out -- Selvin was talking about Albert Grossman, Bob Dylan's manager! Oops! And Joel: The quote Jon Landau wrote about Bruce Springsteen was not "I have seen the future of rock 'n' roll." It was, bumps and all: "I saw rock and roll future last night, and its name is Bruce Springsteen." As myriad Springsteen biographers have pointed out, it's the most misquoted line in the history of rock. (B.W.)

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