another world is possible, in fact, it exists…

…and it is being created by a network of bicycle activists working in bicycle workshops across europe. the Cyclocamp set up for the duration of Rome’s 10th Interplanetary Critical Mass (Ciemmona) 2013 was a beautiful expression of mutual aid, idea sharing, and solidarity. Cyclocamp is a yearly forum of bike recycling and community workshops from across Europe.


30 may 2013, arrival in rome for the 10th Critical Mass Interplanetaria/Ciemmona

(you’ve gotta check out this video inviting people to come back to rome for the ciemmona 2013!)

after navigating my entry into rome from the airport in the early morning of 30 may, i made my way from roma termini to the tram that would take me to via prenestina where the Cyclocamp had been set up since the beginning of the week. my friend malaerba told me it would be obvious where it was, and indeed, draped in Critical Mass interplanetaria posters, a huge Critical Mass sign, and various other political graffiti messages, it was clear i had arrived at the right place, an old viscose factory in the pigneto quarter. the company had been called snia, so the social center squatted 18 years ago is known as “ex snia” or just “snia.”

snia art cyclocamp rome

snia hosts cyclocamp

former viscose factory building shell

former viscose factory building shell

here is they what and why from the organizers:

Rome is a city where mobility is exclusively designed for cars. There are few bicycles, poor public transport, and lack of perception of the streets of the common good. Public spaces in Rome are seen as and often used as car parking spaces, while everything that doesn’t move in a car represents an obstacle. This perception means the daily use of a bicycle in Rome brings along an intrinsic subversive status. Cycling fast between tons of slow and smelly scrap metal naturally leads us to imagine a more equal, just and car-free future. Seen from a bike saddle, cars in our city seem like dinosaurs. In 2002, Critical Mass was born in Rome followed by people’s Bike Kitchens. As soon as these two paths crossed, without any help from the state or municipality, the numbers cycling had exponentially multiplied and the urban biker appeared in the Roman metropolitan landscape.
After ten years of wrenches and ideas, we would like to reflect about the meaning and the evolution of today’s Bike workshops and Bike Culture, the sense of the re-appropriation of the common spaces and encourage knowledge exchange. We feel the need to think about our bike riding direction and about the meaning of our mechanical skills. Starting from these questions we decided to share these thoughts with other Bike workshops who have similar experiences and objectives.
The Ciclofficina (bikeworkshops) of Rome have decided to host a Cyclocamp and a bike kitchen forum, not only for greasing ourselves from head to feet but also for sharing thoughts, ideas, practices and knowledge. We are convinced that the coming together of Bike workshops, we will be able to bring a renewed conscience in our global thinking and local acting.

i dragged my brompton suitcase and rolling bag full of heavy books from the street into the vast space. immediately, my german friend julia, who had come over the pond to the SF CM20 celebration last september, peeked her head around the gate. she directed me around the first seemingly abandoned large building to a scene intense with activity. for others coming from the united states, i think it would be hard to contextualize, but it felt immediately similar to disaster relief base camps i had lived and participated in in haiti and peru, and also in thailand. tents dotting the vast yard, a communal kitchen, bottles of beer everywhere.  the difference here was that bicycles were a major point of focus, and were lying or being worked on just everywhere. critical mass prep was going down hard with countless custom made cycles, and small to major fixes happening all over the place. a red and yellow bike with silicone squirts emerging from the frame and handlebars scooted by, a diminutive but substantial four seater was being tested by as many grunting males as they navigated the grass, the raised beds and cactus plants, and the hundred people watching their progress. but to imply that everyone had one focus point in any given moment here would be incorrect.

ridden all the way from florence to rome for CM interplanetaria - sound system bike

ridden all the way from florence to rome for CM interplanetaria – sound system bike

sky blue sweetie cyclocamp

sky blue sweetie

tall bike represent

custom tall bikes represent!



arriving around midday, i found fiorella, who had also been in SF for CM20 and who, along with her partner malaerba, would be my host/concierge/translator/culture explainer/porter/ally for the rest of my trip in rome. she was helping prepare the communal lunch, washing dishes, and feeling right at home at this social center although she works in a ciclofficina in another squat across town once a week. i sit down with a generously mounded plate of aubergines, pasta, tomatoes, bread, and fennel salad. i lit up as i saw the ciclocuoco i knew from paris, giuso, behind the serving table. andrea, who stayed with me for CM20 after riding to SF from Mexico City, was hanging out around the ciclofficina, and marie was with her french crew. even victor veysey took a trip to see what italian DIY bike kitchens and critical mass have going on. rome is a “new” place for me, not having been here for 22 years, but already i was picking out familiar faces and smiling in awe of this community i would be with for the next few days, hearing german, french, english, italian around me…

giuso at home feeding the hundreds...

giuso at home feeding the hundreds…

abundance and...PERONI!!

abundance and…PERONI!!

julia and bernd, a german speaking constellation at cyclocamp

julia and bernd, a german speaking constellation at cyclocamp

victor veysey from SF does CM tourism

victor veysey from SF does CM tourism

the cyclocamp had been making excursions to various roman ciclofficini and this afternoon we were riding to the ex-lavanderia, an hour across town. after rolling my bags to my host’s home near fiorella’s apartment, i unpacked my bicycle, and knowing i had just arrived that morning from an overnight flight from the states, fiorella asked me if i wanted to come with them or stay and rest. i couldn’t imagine not rising to the occasion! so julia, fiorella, and i tried to catch up with the 80 folks already en route.

vatican 80 strong

vatican pillars/lines

vatican skull crossbones

approaching the vatican prepared with skull and crossbones

exlavanderia bound

80 strong past the vatican

quickly it was apparent i would be seeing all the roman sites on this one ride, not even having changed out of my airplane clothes! at one point i realized that we were riding by the vatican, emphasized by the song chosen for the bike sound system, “it’s a sin.” not the first time on the ride, i grinned incessantly.

another social center with a bike workshop (ciclofficina) in rome

ex lavanderia, another social center with a bike workshop (ciclofficina) in rome

relaxing with exlavanderia resident cat
relaxing with exlavanderia resident cat

the ex-lavanderia is a building inside an official looking compound, through the gate of which the police directed us. quickly, on this nice night, we populate the grassy hill in front of ex-lavanderia, drinking beer, chatting in our various language groups. i meet joey from adelaide, greet victor veysey from SF who buys me a beer, and fabio and giacomo and others try to start the forum at least ten times before it takes. julia and i wander in to the bar and collapse on two red covered comfy chairs, and the resident cat comes and sets up camp on my lap. i am quickly covered with white cat hair, but she is such a love that i could really care less.

the jet lag is starting to take its toll on me, and when we enter the forum room with projector and presentations from the various bike kitchens and collectives (i couldn’t get it together to speak, and fabio told me i could speak the following night) i have to take notes in order to keep awake. it doesn’t actually work, and though i perk up when a slide showing lars’s photo of me with my “one less car” sweatshirt in the noe valley parking lot appears on screen, i soon have to go outside in order to stay awake. simultaneously there is a women/trans/intersex issues discussion outside on the grass, effectively dividing those at the forum from those separately discussing the issues they have with separation… this happens so often!

i wander over to the silkscreening area, just outside the ciclofficina where there is a band playing, where the various groups have brought screens with them: cyclocamp, marseille velorution 2013, “bratapirata”, and various others. i try to figure out what i’ll screen, since i am not identified with the various “logos” quite yet. i don’t want to do marseille 2013 here, maybe it’ll jinx my trip to be presumptive. so i opt for the italian message of “ciao uomini in scatola” which is a snub at car drivers i think works best for me, and on the back of my CM20 shirt it creates a sort of continuation of the theme. luckily i don’t have to wait a super long time before there is a gathering of people heading home, and we follow giuso back to snia.

31 may 2013

this means "hello you humans in boxes (cars)" boxes can also mean tin cans

this means “hello you humans in boxes (cars)” boxes can also mean tin cans

slicing bread for the communal lunch before critical mass

slicing bread for the communal lunch before critical mass

the next day i donned my CM20 shirt – hugh d’andrade’s design looks so professional compared to the silkscreens we did the night before and which everyone is wearing. i ended up wearing it over my wool sweater so my italian message to car drivers showed as i corked and rode on the roman streets. arriving to the cyclocamp from my nearby housing i was in time to help slice some bread… i remarked to marie from paris that i have neglected to bring a costume for this ride, since so many others are in sparkly, shiny, reflective outfits. she said with a smirk, maybe it means i don’t have an ego problem… but it makes things so much more festive with the crazy outfits to match the crazy bikes and spirit floating around!

CM interplanetaria rome

this logo has graced posters for almost two decades

Critical Mass interplanetaria starts out Friday night

Critical Mass interplanetaria Rome starts out Friday night

filling the streets of rome at CM interplanetaria
filling the streets of rome at CM interplanetaria
my brompton against the CM backdrop in rome

my brompton against the CM backdrop in rome

"no oil" roma

“no oil” roma

passing the coliseum CM rome

passing the coliseum CM rome

some impressions of critical mass written down in an incredibly exhausted and jet lagged state:
– an anticipatory start by eager cyclists, a far cry from the scolding one we experience from the aggressive growling and screaming in SF that always puts me off.
– from the cyclocamp we tour through the nearby via del pigneto. it’s a diverse population on quaint streets where gentrifying artisan and hipster shops are alongside bars and shops run by africans. we get lots of encouragement from the sidewalks and i’m happy to be guided through the labyrinthian side streets, having kept mostly only to the main roads through the area.

these guys were in SF for CM20 and i ran into them as we gathered for rome's 10th anniversary CM!

these guys were in SF for CM20 and i ran into them as we gathered for rome’s 10th anniversary CM!

– we meet up with the gathering crowd at piazza vittorio emanuele. it’s a slow steady stream, and i stand outside the iron fence of the square running into yet more italians who were in SF for CM20, or putting two and two together as to the identity of folks at the cyclocamp.
– we spill out of the square with the help of a sound system bike (!) and on the ride there are lots of stops. it is sometimes unclear as to why, since i am often near the front and cannot see how widely spread out the rest of the ride has become making such regrouping stops necessary. at one stop an italian named marco in a german tricolor wool jersey talks to me about my brompton which is almost identical to his, but today his wife is riding it. he asks my name and it turns out he heard me speaking via Skype at a rome social center a few months ago. amazing, the random stranger next to me on this CM a world away has already heard my voice and remembers my name.
– as it grows dark there are more and more irritated drivers, more arguing at intersections, bicyclists’ tempers also flaring more easily. but for all the roman feistiness and passionate expression, i don’t see the kind of escalation often witnessed in SF. sure one driver gets out of his car and rushes a bike, threatens to hit another, but the bicyclists don’t react physically against him, rather they simply watch him freak out and get back in his car and almost hit several other cars as he backs up and speeds away. but mostly others throw words, lots of them press their hands together and wave them up and down, praying, pleading with the corker in front of them, to do something, anything, against/on behalf of what? the steady stream of cyclists celebrating and meandering past, with no end in sight? it is always funny to imagine the driver could think that one corker would have the power to do anything in that situation, but it is repeated again and again, each day.
– the ride ends four hours later for me and the two australians i’ve stopped with for mini pizzas and ridden with for the last hour or so. we are stopped by a samba band (the anarchists are dancing to it, which amuses me!) and firespinning. i look wistfully at the fire popping out above the crowd, but am in a deep conversation about small scale agriculture and the peasant solidarity and food sovereignty movement.

fusolab pedal power

fusolab pedal power

– the party is at fusolab, a geek/hack space which is quite sterile looking with its white institutional walls and is selling very expensive beer. it’s a contribution to the space, i know. a ukelele player goes through all the standard uke tunes downstairs, and i take advantage of the wifi to update my Facebook page with a photo of the day.


1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

nautical november

i’m writing this to the percussive sound of raindrops on metal and glass and with images of flooded streets, subways, sites of construction (NYC) and washed out fields, foundations, and farms (haiti) in my head. it feels like we’re all gonna have to learn to sail our bicycles through the rising seawaters… a few years ago i helped organize a bike ride around the future shoreline of the City, based on other similar rides that preceded it, with the focus on action against climate change.  (graphic to the right by hugh d’andrade!) it seemed important to raise awareness of the changes we could expect if we didn’t see some worldwide collaboration on carbon emissions at the COP15 conference on climate change that year. so we traced where the waters would rise to in downtown SF. looks like new york and other eastern states had a real experience of this possibility in the last day. and no one wants this to be true.

i’m sure i’m not the only one who felt utterly hopeless as i anticipated and watched (once) hurricane, (now) tropical storm sandy trawl along the atlantic coast of the americas this week. it’s a strange space to be in as an experienced disaster relief worker. haven’t i amassed any expertise that could be of service here? from this pacific coast, staying glued to a twitter feed or news reports didn’t assuage my helplessness. and like any plumbing emergency, it really can’t be “fixed” until it’s blown through and a leak’s effects have grown to an explosive point. so, post storm, there are some places you can turn to if you would like to contribute to the relief efforts working to get life back on track. one is occupy sandy relief, an effort backed by the same folks who proved that temporary encampments in the middle of the city can function smoothly. as rebecca solnit writes, “Occupy was born to face another disaster in NYC: the fiscal crisis and fiscal corruption that begat it. But all that camping out, all that solidarity, all those medic tents and community kitchens: they are equipped for this as well, in practicalities as well as spirit.” they are working together with and to move througout the five boroughs assessing and responding to needs. that occupy can still be relevant solidifies my belief in the powerful rhizomes existing from the movement that so many would like to have disappeared. another group whose work i have appreciated over the years is architecture for humanity, and they are forming their response as i write, so check in with them for updates. they are also a group welcoming architects, designers, builders, engineers, or other related professionals living on the east coast to help with their efforts. hint hint.

please also remember haiti has been gravely impacted by the hurricane, just months after hurricane isaac swept through. i heard cholera cases treated in clinics have nearly doubled this week, and entire towns are completely cut off from relief due to road/highway washout. sometimes it’s impossible to believe anything worse could happen to this small country, and then… i’ll direct you to my note written after the earthquake in january 2010 for some ideas of where to donate, if you’re so moved to take action that way. most of the info is relevant still, and doctors without borders and partners in health have been the most vocal in the past couple days.

and in a few short days–on tuesday, 6 november–we’ll be navigating our way through the perfect storm of the presidential–and many state and local–elections. sigh. i know there are some important things on the ballot this time (30-YES it seems, 32-NO, 36-YES, 37-YES, F-NO tho it seems other dambusters i know might feel differently about hetch hetchy), but here’s a little bit of my personal philosopy:

I accept elections as one democratic tool, but I generally find people tend to put WAY too much energy and money and organizing time into the theater of it. I think that it’s a shame that many Americans (insert San Franciscans, Californians, etc. here) don’t participate in elections as this one tool to help direct the course of civic structures and policies, but I also find it a shame that much of the potential and energy is lost once the election is over, and voters (plus those in the public who aren’t) seem to think their engagement with public process and shaping their communities is over when the votes are counted. Pat on the back, sticker on the shirt, I’m a good citizen.

I am always hungering for a coalescence that never seems to materialize out of this amazing time of one-pointed focus, with no visible mass movement continuing to act even on the issues that people seem to stand behind during the campaign. In addition, I have yet to be convinced that any one person can make change from within a machine that’s mainly aimed at reproducing the established convoluted norms. This may seem cynical, but it seems pretty difficult to me to make any real inroads to radical change for even the best intentioned folks. In general, I will be using my time and any influence I have on folks to promote a longer term, slow burn of change and resistance.

i have been really enjoying reading the lapham’s quarterly issue, lines of work (spring 2011), which is a collection of writings across the centuries by and about laborers, toilers, workers of all kinds. it has a spectacular collection of artistic works, a crazy good introduction deconstructing our assumptions about work and who does it for whom, and i particularly liked the piece “time management” detailing hour by hour the work days of people like emily dickinson, gustave flaubert, charles darwin, winston churchill, pg wodehouse, and vladimir nabokov. i even considered devoting a week to each schedule to see if i could live according to their disciplined lives. maybe i’ll save it for a future residency/retreat…

but getting back to the elections, i found myself reading this passage in lines of work from plutarch – written ca. 445 BC – during the week of the (two-party) presidential candidate debates, and would like to have seen this formulated into a question receiving an honest answer. i recognize my rose-colored fantasy of a similar time in the US to what he’s describing – the time of the WPA, the CCC, and widespread respect for trades including the arts in creating as robust an economy as could be mustered then – and also quarrel a little with myself about the viability of the idea of a strong state-led solution coming from the top down. but the fact remains, in our familiar time of war, and though we are lacking a surplus, this sounds like a damn fine way to activate and create resources:

Now that [Athens] was sufficiently provided and sorted with all things necessary for the war, Pericles said they should convert the surplus of its wealth to such undertakings as would hereafter, when completed, give them eternal honor, and for the present, while in process, freely supply all the inhabitants with plenty. With their variety of workmanship and of occasions for service, which summon all arts and trades and require all hands to be employed about them, they do actually put the whole city, in a manner, into state pay–while at the same time she is both beautiful and maintained by herself. For as those who are of age and strength for war are provided for and maintained in the armaments abroad by their pay out of the public stock, so, it being his desire and design that the undisciplined mechanic multitude that stayed at home should not go without their share of public salaries–and yet should not have them given them for sitting still and doing nothing–to this end he thought fit to bring in among them, with the approbation of the people, these vast projects of buildings and designs of work that would be of some continuance before they were finished and would give employment to numerous arts, so that the part of the people that stayed at home might, no less than those that were at sea or in garrisons or on expeditions, have a fair and just occasion of receiving the benefit and having their share of the public moneys.

i’d like to imagine this is one way we could all get valued, included, and compensated for our abilities and it’s an engaging experience for us as well. and i think i won’t be holding my breath that either candidate can offer this, though the stimulus package was an indication of intent.

and now i’d like to transition into the month ahead, steering you to other events to attend and look forward to, as i do.

if you’re into historic sailing vessels, or are a history buff, or wanna support habitat restoration, or if you haven’t gotten yourself to heron’s head park and the ecocenter there, ever, drag yourself on down to the southern part of our City’s SF Bay at hunters point on thursday, 1 november. it’s the kick off for the year of the bay, a crowdsourcing history project that shaping san francisco is also participating in. a highlight for many will be the sailing of the scow schooner, the alma, back to her birthplace in the shipyards of yore. also high on the list is a natural history walk along the bayshore. heron’s head park (where cargo way and jennings meet), 10:30 AM – 6 PM (with the alma arriving at 10:30 AM and the walk at 2 PM), FREE!

on thursday, 1 november, the first annual north oakland day of the dead celebration, procession, and altar building will happen instigated by my friend k. ruby. if you live near dover or mcgregor parks, bring yourselves and your memories and share with your community. meet at dover or mcgregor park, 5 PM (until 8:30 PM), your active participation alone is needed.

here in sf, we get to continue this superbly awesome tradition of our own mission district dia de los muertos/day of the dead procession on friday, 2 november. it was one of the first things i sought out in the City when i moved here in 1995, having grown accustomed to the vibrant celebration in southern california over the previous years. many years i danced/died with a group of other improvisational performers, and some years i have more solemnly processed. in the last couple years there have also been altars including friends created at garfield park amongst the elaborate constructions. i often find myself enjoying connecting with the living as much as i am there to honor the dead. altars: garfield park (harrison and 26th sts.), 6 PM – 11 PM, bring candles in glass or mementos to leave. procession: 22nd and bryant streets, 6 PM gathering, 7 PM start, bring noisemakers, solemnity, altars to loved ones.

a couple nights of solo dancing by sara shelton mann who is somehow dancing with jorge rodolfo de hoyos, alex zendzian, and working with david szlasa can be seen on friday & saturday, 2 & 3 november. love of emptiness is the title of the work by this anchor of the san francisco contemporary dance scene and who has worked with and inspired some of my favorite dancers and performers in the world. joe goode annex, 499 alabama st. #150 (at 17th), 8 PM, $10-$25.

on saturday, 3 november, if a variety of performance is more your thing, head on down to valencia street for the vanessa verlee variety show at viracocha. a night of vaudeville is in the cards, with slapstick, juggling, and song-and-dance. 998 valencia st (at 21st), 8 PM, $10-$15 sliding scale.

you have a couple choices for your sunday, 4 november. first of all, i highly recommend my friend joel pomerantz’s thinkwalks tours. his blurb is a concise way of understanding the city: “Thinkwalks explore the overlap of urban and natural San Francisco. Life in the city, don’t forget, is life in a natural environment, albeit altered by dreams and delusions of humans.” he’ll show you a whole new look (and sound) of the wiggle on his walk the wiggle tour where you’ll learn about an ohlone village, underground water, dunes under your feet, bicycling, and the Great Flood of 1862. meet at the corner of church and duboce, 12 NOON – 2 PM, $10-$40 sliding scale.

on sunday, 4 november, you could also take my friend eleni’s self-healing of ayurveda class, learning about bringing your system into balance for yourself. integral yoga institute, 770 dolores, 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM, $20.

on monday, 5 november, joel is out there again with his mission district water walking tour. it’s worth going just to hear about the “lake that wasn’t,” better known as dolores lagoon, and to which there’s a bronze plaque, sort of officially indicating it’s one time existence. not true however (as christopher richard explained at one of our shaping san francisco talks on 28 sept, 2011), and if you go on joel’s thinkwalk, you’ll hear lots more about the underground water in the area, a topic which i find endlessly fascinating (especially if you’re considering your stand on hetch hetchy and prop F…). meet on the steps of mission dolores at 16th and dolores, 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM, $10-$40 sliding scale.

you’ll want to make sure there’s still space left in this class on tuesday, 6 november, but another friend practicing natural healing, riyana, is giving a class on herbs for cold & flu at the ohlone herbal center in the east bay. you’ll learn about preventative health care, therapies for common winter illnesses, and how to prepare your own home remedies. berkeley, sign up at, with “Herbs for Cold and Flu” in the subject line, FREE.

on wednesday, 7 november, the shaping san francisco public talks series kicks in again with an evening of art & politics featuring the Clarion Alley Mural Project crew! they’ve been going 20 years strong, just held the annual clarion alley block party, are doing other projects around the city and internationally, and they wanna tell you all about it. it should be a fabulous night, and i’m hosting! eric quezada center for culture & politics, 518 valencia st. (at 16th), 7:30 PM, FREE (donations appreciated).

on thursday, 8 november, your other local political publishing house, PM Press is launching their new book catastrophism: the apocalyptic politics of collapse and rebirth featuring pieces by sasha lilley of against the grain, and my friend eddie yuen. i’m interested in reading this in light of the recent storm, and of the tendency of pundits and media to explain away larger, more complex problems through a sort of political discourse rooted in apocalyptic notions. green arcade, 1680 market st. (at gough), 7 PM, FREE.

midday, on friday, 9 november, the cadillac hotel’s concerts at the cadillac in the tenderloin is hosting a performance by the tenderloin’s SF Recovery Theatre. we got to know these folks when we were researching for and painting mona caron’s Windows into the Tenderloin mural a few years ago. check out this troupe providing a message of support, hope, consequence and solutions through involvement with theatre arts and music. 280 eddy st. (at leavenworth), 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM, FREE.

another talented man, my friend mokai, is doing an intimate musical evening in the berkeley hills on friday, 9 november as part of the poplar playhouse series. his acoustic folk-blues fingerpicking and fingerstyle guitar playing will be a treat. RSVP for address, 7:30 PM, $10-$20 sliding scale.

debuting their new album, BUILD, on friday, 9 november, rupa and the april fishes will rock the great american music hall! so exctiting to be able to dance in this gorgeous music space to tunes described like this: “In other times and places musical traditions have met to forge a sound that is more insistence than resistance; this band, this album, belong to that long tradition of rebel music.” gamh, 859 o’farrell st (at polk), 9 PM, $17.50 (add $4 surcharge online, or swing by the box office-Mon-Fri: 10:30am-6pm).

although the current exhibition at the museum for craft and folk art was slated to finish mid-december, if you want to see fiber futures x2: japan’s textile pioneers, you will now want to make sure you do before saturday, 10 november, the date until which it will be open to the public. this work is intricate, whimsical, innovative, sculptural, a fusion of artisinal and industrial textile making with a high level of craftspersonship. 51 yerba buena lane (at mission between 3rd and 4th sts.), wed – sat 11 AM – 6 PM, $5.

we at shaping san francisco are doing a two-hour DISSENT bicycle history tour on saturday, 10 november. one of my favorite rides led by chris carlsson through the city will uncover all sorts of social movements from literary to food-based to transit-based. basic. it’s how san francisco was shaped, and it’s inspiration to continue to create our lives in a contrarian spirit! RSVP at 415.608.9035meet at 518 valencia st. (at 16th), 12 NOON – 2 PM, $10-$20 sliding scale, bring snack and water if you need it.

later that afternoon, on saturday, 10 november, there’s another bike ride, so you kinda have to choose… my friend and once co-worker andy thornley is hosting the west of the west bicycle ride. andy says it’ll be kinda like this: “it rolls down the western margin of SF, beginning at the western terminus of the Lincoln Highway in Lincoln Park and heading further west and south along the bluffs and beach, ending up just outside the southern county line at the Broderick-Terry duel site at the southern tip of Lake Merced.” i don’t really get out there much, and a ride filled with history tidbits – including a special segment on carville!! – is my kind of fun! meet at the palace of legion of honor, 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM, $5 non-SFBC members, FREE for members, bring snack and water if you need it.

we at shaping san francisco have joined together with the CIIS department of anthropology and social change and the new nothing cinema to show four films this fall a part of the incite…/insight! free film series. on thursday, 15 november, we’re showing Alcatraz is Not an Island about the native american takeover of alcatraz in 1969, and the subsequent ripple effects all the way around the country as a result of this occupation. new nothing cinema, 16 sherman alley (off folsom near 7th st.), 8 PM, FREE, bring your own snacks/drinks.

head down to the green arcade again on thursday, 15 november, for a reading from the excellent writer and friend summer brenner’s new noir fiction book, nearly nowhere. i can also recommend her noir fiction novel I-5, if you want a good, quick read about the traficking of people along major interstates… 1680 market st. (at gough), 7 PM, FREE.

a popular walking history tour we at shaping san francisco developed last year is a history of market street. on sunday, 18 november, walk through the heart of the city with us, and uncover its hidden histories. it’s part of our focus on urbanism, urban design, and urban transformation in the next year, and we aim to give you a sense of the main thoroughfare as a public space through the decades. meet at front of ferry building on the embarcadero, 1 PM – 3 PM, $5-$10 sliding scale, bring snack and water if you need it.

ongoing through 30 january, 2013 is a spectacular exhibition of laura cunningham’s paintings, before california. my friend sean says: “it totally opens up the imagination around historical ecology and painting…” her vision is great. she arrived at her imaginings through lots of research, but also LOTS of time just sitting in the landscape quietly, observing. there are other events related to the show, including one called the great animal orchestra! at the david brower center, 2150 allston way, berkeley, FREE.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

oh, october

oh, october… coming on the heels of the great yearly speed up that is september, a month when everyone either (a) goes back to school, (b) settles back into work, or (c) decides to throw every event imaginable. me included on (c).

Shift Happens!: Critical Mass at 20

39 essays from 31 cities all over the world explore where Critical Mass has taken hold and bicycling infrastructure and culture has been strengthened.

it was an epic last week of september throwing the big 8-day birthday party for 20 years of critical mass in sf. bike art, bike rides (crazy bikes and crazy bicyclists), interviews in print and on the radio and tv, more bike rides (accompanied by spontaneous brass band concerts in golden gate park), music shows, tall bikes, more bike rides (transit history tour), visitors who crisscrossed this country/coast/continent to get here for the celebrations, controversy, more bike rides (with sf’s mosquito abatement crew), a book release, movies, a symposium, a photo contest, more bike rides (down to san jose/along the east sf bay), poster/tshirt/book sales, and a final bike ride to the beach. and of course, the event no one planned, invited anyone to, or organized: the probably 10,000 cyclist strong 20th anniversary ride. as co-editor of the accompanying book, Shift Happens!: Critical Mass at 20, and as part of the welcome committee for the week, i had the distinct pleasure of getting to know so many ambassadors of rides all around the world who have connected me to the vibrancy of the bike rides that have emerged over the past two decades. it’s encouraging and exciting that a core concept developed here—of people coming together spontaneously to ride bikes through the city—is still so adaptable to the needs of urban cyclists confronting car-centric and car-congested cities everywhere. after feeling like the ride has lost a lot of its dynamism here in this city, it is also great to see all the energy generated by new generations of cyclists the world over.

now the smoke of the week has cleared, and i am delving into my own projects again, and catching up on what this city has to offer otherwise. october is just as full…

first of all, if you haven’t yet joined me for one of my lisaruth’s lovin’ from the oven breadmaking instruction evenings, consider yourself invited to bake with me. i have five evenings planned for the fall, the first of which happens THIS thursday, 11 october. up to five lucky people will have dinner at my house, learn how to bake their own delicious bread. there is another workshop on thursday, 25 october with a couple spots left still if you can’t make it this week. (two more in november and one in december in time to learn for your holiday meals, as well.) write me for location and to RSVP, 6:30 PM, FREE (contributions to the dinner welcome).

though this weekend of events surrounding indigenous peoples day has already come and gone, you still have a chance to catch up with the ohlone—the original inhabitants of this peninsula—on wednesday, 10 october at a shaping san francisco public talk that i organized as part of our fall programming. the ohlone profiles project directors and members of the tribe will talk about the truth and reconciliation process they are initiating with the city of SF and issues facing the ohlone peoples’ return. 518 valencia st. (at 16th), 7:30 PM, FREE (donations appreciated).

also on wednesday, 10 october, our friends at the green arcade bookstore are hosting the SF book release and reading for Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here: Poets and Writers Respond to the March 5, 2007 Bombing of Baghdad’s Street of Booksellers, an anthology which looks to contain pieces from most of the major women poets of the last half century, contributions from a friend of mine, and a history of this historic baghdad bookselling street known as the literary and intellectual heart of that now-ravaged city. 1680 market st. (at gough), 7 PM, FREE.

the amazingly prolific and talented rebecca solnit has just had the honor of seeing her book, a paradise built in hell, selected by the sf public library as this year’s one city one book choice. this means that there are plenty of opportunities over the next few months to have creative discussions about disasters and how they affect communities (might you just be single-handedly preparing us to deal super-gracefully with the next “big one” and its effects, rebecca?). on wednesday, 10 october there is a book discussion at the intersection for the arts, and on thursday, 11 october you can hear rebecca in conversation about disaster and democracy with the SF fire chief, also a woman, at the main library. WED: intersection for the arts, 925 mission st. #109, 7 PM, FREE. THURS: SFPL main branch, 100 larkin st., 6 PM, FREE.

also at the library are a couple great exhibitions, one in conjunction with one city one book. it’s called street food and looks at the 1906 earthquake kitchens that kept the city fed after the quake and fire here. find out about these spontaneous service centers put together by ordinary people, and the panache they added to their fare. (SFPL main library 6th floor, sf history center, through 1 november, FREE (of course)) i highly recommend catching the tail end of the exhibition, the plastic in question, ending thursday, 11 october (hurry!) involving displays of plastic combed from the point reyes seashore since 1999.  the local collectors have created super informative installations about the plastics we so readily toss away without a thought. SFPL main library floors 4 and 5, FREE.

speaking of books, and the written word, san francisco’s annual literary festival, litquake, also started this past weekend.  there are way too many events to list here, but the best concentration of events will be on saturday, 13 october at the lit crawl. it will happen in three phases, with things likely getting more interesting as the night goes on. readings will happen in bars, alleys (clarion!), restaurants, the police station(!), galleries, video stores, good vibes, and EVEN in bookstores! various locations around the mission, 6 PM, FREE (donations help).

the day before, on friday, 12 october, the museum of craft and folk art initiates the second part of a fabulous exhibition, fiber futures: japan’s textile pioneers (the museum is an institution not long for this world, i’m afraid. sadness colors these words like a flower-based dye on alum-prepared silk cloth, since the museum is closing its doors in december after 30 years. i can’t tell you the quality of the curated shows i’ve seen here over the past decade. the effect that weaving in the museum space had on me is reflected in the fact that i bought my own backstrap loom soon after. it’s impossible to say where the electric charge of inspiration i had looking at new works there will have on my own creations—from paper art, to lace work, to bojagi, to weavings, to all sorts of textile designs. and after years of admiring my favorite resist dye technique, shibori, i got to try it out last week at a workshop there.) the first part of this show was in-cred-i-ble, so i’m awaiting the next installment with excitement. 51 yerba buena lane (at mission between 3rd and 4th sts.), 5 PM – 8 PM, FREE.

one of the city’s best kept secrets is nestled in the tenderloin once a month, when the cadillac hotel hosts free noontime concerts. this month, on friday, 12 october, they welcome Anna Maria Flechero, a multi-influenced jazz vocalist. it’s so great to spend time in the elegant lobby of this nonprofit SRO listening to great music and a grand piano. And there is always a raffle, you might win! 380 eddy st. (at leavenworth), 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM, FREE.

during the day on saturday, 13 october, i will be co-leading a food politics bicycle history tour with chris carlsson as part of shaping san francisco’s “cycles of history” tours this season. it will be a 2-hour exploration of everything from industrial to artisanal food production, who did the work to keep our city and state growing food, the people’s food system of the 1970s and 1980s, and even will include food tastings… meet at 518 valencia, 12 NOON – 2 PM, $10-$20 sliding scale.

together with the studio for urban projects (and local experts and friends like megan prelinger, ginny white, and amber hasselbring) chris carlsson will be speaking as part of a walking tour, exploring mission creek, on sunday, 14 october. meet at the mission creek park boat launch, 2 PM – 5 PM, $10-$20.

the next wednesday, 17 october, the shaping san francisco public talks series presents silvia federici at the end of her bay area speaking/book tour for revolution at point zero: housework, reproduction, and feminist struggle. the book is a collection of this woman’s radical writings from the 1970s until now, looking at the effects of the capitalist organization of work and women’s place in that. 518 valencia st. (at 16th), 7:30 PM, FREE (donations appreciated).

we at shaping san francisco team up with CIIS’s anthropology department and the new no nothing cinema to present a second documentary on SF history in our incite…/insight free film series (the first was about the uc berkeley students fight against apartheid in the 1980s). we’ll be showing the fall of the i-hotel, a document about the struggle to save the international hotel residents in manila town from eviction, and the building from destruction in the 1970s so that sliver of downtown could be redeveloped in the image of the city’s leaders. new no nothing cinema, 16 sherman alley (off Folsom near 7th st.), 8 PM, FREE (byodrinks).

some lovely friends who are part of solar flare get even lovelier when they are sparkling in the light of the fire they spin, and you can catch some of this flame on friday, 19 october in the middle of the city during 2 blocks of art, an art walk in and around 6th street. UN plaza (market and 7th sts.), 7 PM – 8 PM, FREE.

on saturday, 20 october, we are rolling out a new shaping san francisco walking tour on SOMA’s new transit corridor: 4th street to Mission Bay. 4th street is getting a facelift, and as part of a season focus on urbanism, we are looking at the historical changes over time in this area, and will include the new alterations of the streetscape as they are implemented over the next year here. meet at 4th and market sts., 1 PM – 3 PM, $5-$10.

the rest of that saturday, 20 october you can spend in clarion alley for the always epic block party, featuring music by some of my closest friends, and one of the most amazing concentrated collection of art in the city along the garages and walls of the alley. and ooh, it’s the 20th anniversary of the mural project on the alley!! clarion alley (betw. 17th and 18th and mission and valencia), 12 NOON – 8 PM ??, FREE.

or, you can go to to the potrero hill festival on saturday, 20 october. it’s a benefit for the neighborhood house, with food, music, entertainment, you know, the standard neighborhood block party. i have a soft spot for this village within the city (bernal hits me the same way), and the historians working over there are pretty great too. 20th st. betw. missouri and wisconsin, 11 AM – 4 PM, FREE.

this movie, the invisible men, showing in berkeley on thursday, 25 october sounds intriguing for its collection of overlapping cultural and national identities in the middle east, teasing out the palestinian/israeli conflict from a complete diagonal. it’s part of the east bay international jewish film festival. david brower center, 2150 allston way, berkeley, 4:30 PM, cost unknown.

ooh, what fun! on saturday, 27 october, alemany farm is hosting their (our!) 8th annual harvest festival with great food, bicycle powered hayrides and facepainting for kids, a spit-roasted pig, garlic planting, and live music! it’s such a great time to get acquainted with the farm, get your hands in the dirt, and enjoy some tasty food and friendly people. on the north side of alemany blvd near mission st., 11 AM – 5 PM, bring a side dish or dessert to share.

one fun way to explore san francisco’s past is to hit the cemeteries! shaping san francisco is offering its cemeteries bicycle history tour on sunday, 28 october in colma. find out where all the secrets are buried and explore san francisco outside the city with us on this spirited tour! meet at colma BART station, NOON – 4 PM, $15-$50 sliding scale.

this last weekend i was at the grand re-opening of the palo alto art center, where my talented and inspiring friend paz de la calzada is one of several artists with installations to mark the revamping of this beautiful space. you have plenty of time to check out the exhibition, community creates, as it runs through 14 april, 2013. if you want to take a little field trip, or are often around palo alto, please check out the indoor vertical garden paz has created, the patrick dougherty installation (move over andy goldsworthy!), and the other offerings there. palo alto art center, 1313 newell road, palo alto, 10 AM – 5 PM tues-sat (thurs until 9 PM), 1 PM – 5 PM sun, closed mon, FREE.

and of course, october is that magical month where artists across the city open their homes and studios and warehouses each weekend for open studios. it’s so fun to just open a random door in the city, walk into a garage, or tour artist studios and see what people have been creating. i used to go every year, and got a little tired of seeing the same things, but it’s been a few years and i’m excited to discover again this year. sat & sun, 13 & 14 october: haight, hayes valley, duboce, ocean beach, excelsior, fort mason, sunset, pacific heights, and more. sat & sun, 20 & 21 october: SOMA, TL, dogpatch, bayview, potrero hill. sat & sun, 27 & 28 october: mission, noe valley, bernal, castro. sat & sun, 3 & 4 november: hunters point shipyard and islais creek studios. 11 AM – 6 PM, FREE.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

mighty march

2012 has brought some substantial, and potentially unsettling, changes – new work directions, romance (blush), a brief but weird illness, a full schedule of many non-paid ventures – and most everything is pointing to welcoming risk, staying open to a sense of adventure, and fully inhabiting myself. the several months leading up to the new year have offered more than a general shake up of circumstance, though.  they’ve served to highlight the strong foundations i have built up over time, both in my skills and my resource-rich community, and remind me to trust my flexibility, my wisdom, and to continue to keep my heart open and unafraid.  in a year marked by a creature breathing fire, look for some moments where my own projects are illuminated.  i’m usually the one in (or painting!) the background, making things happen for others, and i’m quite comfortable there, but this year i’m watching as multiple invitations offer themselves for me to shine and share.  here’s to full embodiment and the brightness of being!

another evocative and beautiful poster by hugh d'andrade

while we’re on the subject of brightness, don’t let the slippage of the occupy movement from the limelight fool you.  for some insight into recent local occupy events, their controversies, and the continued commitment to act as a concerned civil society, there have been some masterful texts written in the last month.  chris carlsson, in his infinite ability to synthesize multiple messages and points of view takes on the questions of tactics, and rebecca solnit starts things out with love, as well, in her piece clarifying a whole lot of things we should already know but have somehow lost sight of in the shadow of sensationalism around occupy. coming at these same issues of hegemony and resistance is the ever-eloquent antonio roman-alcalá‘s critique of prince charles’s attempt to comment on the current industrialized food system (from HRH’s position well-rooted in worldwide capitalist domination, as antonio points out).  and the farsighted artist mona caron’s current weed project pulls up the resilient harbingers of growth on the margins and shines a whole new light on those unwelcome and invisible guests in the cracks of our urban reality.  i am constantly pushed and inspired by these people i am honored to call friends.

the place to start the month was thursday-saturday, 1-3 march at the subterranean arthouse in berkeley,where they’re celebrating their third anniversary in a three day benefest.  i attended the star-studded friday night’s variety show with professor burns and the lilac field, seth eisen, and more… check out what they have to offer during their fourth year! 2179 Bancroft Way, (support your local artspace!).

for those of you needing to gather more tools to add to your stress-reduction toolbox, how about some that jon kabat-zinn laid out and my good friend augusta hopkins is now passing on to the rest of us?  augusta’s mindfulness-based stress reduction daylongs also include some thich nhat hahn meditation and are happening on saturday, 3 march and sunday, 11 march. 9AM-4PM (3 mar), 614 alabama st. & 10AM-5PM (11 mar), 2150 allston way, berkeley, $50 each day.

i haven’t seen my banjo picking friend jordan klein play music in awhile, but he kindly just sent me an invitation to see a band he plays with, front country, at the atlas cafe on thursday, 8 march.  such a friendly venue, such friendly musicians. 3049 20th st., 8 PM, FREE!

sunday streets rolls into 2012 on sunday, 11 march along the embarcadero.  it’s always surprising to me how exhilirating it is to just be in public space along one strip of closed off road with other people who have flocked there for a (mostly) non-market based activity.  surprising that something this simple works, really.  it’s a nice confirmation of my sense that this could be true if most streets were suddenly closed to car traffic.  fisherman’s wharf to mariposa street, 11AM-4PM, car-FREE!

wednesday, 14 march is one of those days where you have to decide what to do from too many good things.  with the shaping san francisco wednesday night public talks series, i’m locked into one of the choices, but i think the others are just as worthy of your time should you choose not to come to our event:

first, on wednesday, 14 march, shaping san francisco is hosting a very exciting discussionrebooting the rainbow – on the topic of current popular movements against the historical backdrop of the black panthers, the rainbow coalition, and the book Hillbilly Nationalists.  we’ll not only see art of the rainbow coalitions, but some really inspirational folks are on the panel.  1310 mission st @ 9th, 7:30PM-9:30PM, FREE (donations appreciated).

second, keith hennessy is back (twice this month) with his super in-depth dance/art history lessons.  it’s all part of his dissertation research and boy am i glad he has chosen to “teach” it and share his process with the rest of us.  he’s consistently brilliant and assumption-blowing in his explorations of most anything, and i’m sorry to miss the first installment of IQ | ID (inquiry into dance) on wednesday, 14 march, str8 white contact. kunst-stoff arts, 1 grove st. (under the BK), 7PM-9:30PM, $5 (no-one turned away).

third, local fingerstyle folk bluesman mokai will be playing in fairfax on wednesday, 14 march.  he suggests you show up for dessert and drinks.  if you’re up that way, check out his toe-tapping tunes and story-rich lyrics or listen to them online. the sleeping lady, 23 broadway, fairfax, 9PM-midnight, get some grub.

finally, wednesday, 14 march is international day of action for rivers, and the org my friend jason rainey heads up, international rivers, is hosting an event that looks more educational in scope than direct action-y in berkeley.  there is a movie screening, poetry, and dance on the schedule.  check out the great work they are doing every day against dams, and for a healthy world of rivers.  the recent dam removals in washington state on the elwha and white salmon have been an inspiration for a lot of us river lovers.  2120 allston way, berkeley, 6PM-9PM, FREE (donations accepted!).

one of my favorite authors for her singular approach to dialogue, gender-confusing characters, and brilliant storytelling, jeannette winterson, will be speaking on friday, 16 march.  the theme this time is her own story, as she’s promoting her memoir, why be happy when you could be normal?  sounds like it could be a tad bit painful to hear/read, but her ability to wordsmith through those tough life scenes will make it all worth the while.  unitarian center, 1187 franklin st @ geary, 7PM, $10 (at door or in advance).

since i didn’t post this in time for you to catch the atlas cafe show, it’s a good thing that the banjo-playing jordan klein and his band, belle monroe & her brewglass boys are bringing their rollicking tunes to cafe du nord on friday, 16 march.  i absolutely LOVE singing aloud at the top of my lungs to their collection of bluegrass music (in the comfort of my home), and it’s hella fun to dance to as well.  2174 market st., 8PM-11PM (they are on second), $12 (advance) $15 (door).

the super skillful and self-effacing max chen will see a few of his custom bicycle creations on stage with the ODC dancers this month.  the new piece transit, in their dance downtown: program 1, showing on saturday, 17 march, wednesday, 21 march – free valet bike parking this night!, friday, 23 march, and sunday, 15 march, includes the commissions.  you can see them in use at the trolley dances last year when ODC performed in front of the library in this video by the stellar videographer loren robertson!!  for those of you looking to support an sf dance institution which has built up a really fine dance environment in the city, this company is really accessible and an easy bridge into contemporary dance.  i like mine a little edgier, personally.  i’m also fully aware it takes all kinds.  ybca’s novellus theater, 700 howard st @ 3rd, 8PM, $10 (students) – $70.

another amazing shaping san francisco public talk this month comes on wednesday, 21 march when we highlight jess curtis’s body of work as part of our art & politics subseries.  he’ll be in conversation with one of my favorite local aerialists and teachers, joanna haigood.  jess has been on the cutting edge of so many dance moments in this city’s history, that after this talk you’ll wish you could travel back in time to be in the crowd watching both his onstage and in situ performances – or at least see all of his many notable hairstyles throughout the years!  1310 mission st @ 9th, 7:30PM-9:30PM, FREE (donations appreciated).

the inimitable kirk read, described by the sf weekly as “san francisco’s freak prince,” treats us to a solo show on friday/saturday 23/24 march, and the following weekend as well, friday/saturday, 30/31 marchcomputer face brings a lot of seemingly disparate topics (or are they???) all together in one unthinkable tour of words – republicans, computer addiction, satanism, risky sex, and drugs.  i think you’ll come away smiling.  the garage, 975 howard betw. 5th & 6th, 8PM, $10-$20.

again, the following wednesday, 28 march, you have to make a decision – or divide yourself into three so you can attend all of the following:

on that wednesday, 28 march, shaping san francisco’s public talk series, in conjunction with PM press, has the honor of hosting selma james and andaiye speaking about class and feminism, anti-capitalism, and selma’s new book sex, race, and class: the perspective of winning.  selma’s late husband CLR james wrote the seminal history of haiti’s revolution, the black jacobins, so you know haiti will be one of the topics covered as well.  i’m really looking forward to hearing from these two outspoken and influential women.  1310 mission st @ 9th, 7:30PM-9:30PM, FREE (donations appreciated).

of course, if you’d rather learn more about the history and lineage of dance from keith hennessy on wednesday, 28 march, you can hear about mangrove that night instead, just down the road.  kunst-stoff arts, 1 grove st. (under the BK), 7PM-9:30PM, $5 (no-one turned away).

for the sustainable building/transition/how-do-we-start-to-live-responsibly oriented folks out there (and really who isn’t in that place?), perhaps on wednesday, 28 march you’d like to check out a reading at city lights of the new book tiny homes, simple shelter which showcases over 1,000 homes of 500 square feet or less focused on self-sufficiency and downsizing of resources.  261 columbus ave @ broadway, 7PM, FREE.

it’s really impossible to not suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) in this town.  the slate is full on thursday, 29 march too:

in case kirk read’s show wasn’t extreme enough for you, philip huang kicks off the international home theater festival (which he founded) on thursday, 29 march (and it continues through saturday, 31 march) with his show, fart of gold.  no one, and i mean, no one, can get away with the kind of humor that philip can, and i love every cringe-worthy offensive moment of it with the nuggets of universality tucked in there.  2446 dana st. #2 @ dwight, berkeley, 8 PM, $6.99 (no one turned away).

if you’d rather be sounding off yourself on thursday, 29 march, there may still be spots in suzanne sterling’s sing yourself awake yoga/singing class.  as someone who hasn’t been very comfortable using my singing voice outside the thin walls of my own room, this class has really been liberating.  i also love the way that vocalising while practicing yoga really opens my body up even more as i stretch.  plus suzanne is a great teacher.  cloud 9, berkeley, 7PM-10PM, $25 (preregister to get exact location).

masterful singing is in the cards in the city as well on thursday, 29 march when mark growden returns to enchant audiences at the rebuild sudan benefit concert.  brick and mortar music hall, 1710 mission @ duboce, 8PM, $20-$50 (help build a school!).

and, on thursday, 29 march – sunday, 1 april, jess curtis showcases the intercontinental collaboration 5: jess meets angus, just between us–generation project episode 2.  there’s a bit of a mouthful of a title, but in the clip i’ve seen, it’s actually quite a minimal show, paring down movement and words to their essence in hopes of connection between the dancers.  i recently heard jess speak about the intersection of dancing and aging at a dancer’s discourse evening, and this performance promises to have a lot of the qualities that wisdom and deep knowledge bring with them.  counterPULSE, 1310 mission st @ 9th, 7:30PM-9:30PM, $15-$20.

in case you chose one of the other options on 28 march, selma james and andaiye, and several other insanely inspiring social movement activists will be speaking on friday, 30 march at radical pasts, radical futures: conversation on contemporary social movements.  these are the kind of evenings that make me want to read, read, read, and pull folks together in weekly salons to continue to discuss these concepts, and get out and be active.  oh for more time in the day/week/lifetime to fit it all in… this symposium will be an afternoon-long affair.  CIIS namaste hall, 1453 mission st. betw. 10th & 11th, 4PM-7PM, FREE (i think).

on saturday, 31 march, the circus center of san francisco is presenting their swing into spring circus show, which is an exhibition of all the students at the school from young to professional. when i arrived in sf in 1995, this was one of the first places i saw a circus performance as an adult and outside of the raggedy traveling shows that set up in my junior high gymnasium, and i’ve always been impressed with the talent coming from the center.  755 frederick st., 7PM, FREE.

the weekend of saturday, 31 march and sunday, 1 april is the yearly bay area anarchist book fair.  i’m helping recruit volunteers this year, and we could always use more hands to make things run as smoothly as possible, so please let me know if you have a few hours to spare one of those days.  there’s always a good roster of speakers (including many of the folks otherwise mentioned in this post), and if you are looking for something good to read, or inspiring to put on your wall, or good conversation, or a bit of an alternaculture haven for a few hours, you should come out.  hall of flowers, golden gate park, lincoln @ 9th, 10AM-6PM (sat), 11AM-5PM (sun), FREE.


you can pretty much be sure that a photographic exhibition named after the title of a gil scott-heron song is gonna be thoughtful, and include some political content, and in the case of jesse drew’s SF camerawork show, winter in america: 1974-1975, on from friday, 9 march – saturday, 21 april this is true.  as a young activist drifter in the mid-1970s, drew (who is a contributor to Ten Years That Shook the City) managed also to document beautifully in black and white the unemployment rallies, farm workers’ protests, and more.  it’s a little eerie to see the same slogans of today on the signs in the photos, and he points out that the issues then were very similar to the crises we face in 2012. i got a chance to see the photos at the opening, and encourage a trip to the gallery to gaze into history.  1011 market st., 2nd floor, 12NOON-6PM (tues-sat), open until 7PM (fri), FREE.

for any francophiles out there, and esp. those of you who like action films, tuesday classes de cinéma at the alliance française this month feature lots of high violence dramas in french with english subtitles.  the jean reno film (with patrick bruel!) has already been shown, but i’m looking forward to getting an earful of french on other tuesday nights.  and yes, this has everything to do with re-familiarizing myself with the sounds of the language before i head over the pond in a month or so.  1345 bush @ polk, 6:45PM, $5.

tho i know him mostly as an adept word crafter, jaime cortez is showing his charcoal works on paper and a sculptural piece through 15 april in the show DiviNation.  i’m intrigued by his exploration of art as used for nationalistic promotion, and curious about how this will come through in the works. 1201 sixth st., 2nd floor, berkeley, 1PM-4PM (sundays).

finally, sometimes after all this conceptually heavy stuff, you just gotta get your hands in the dirt.  you can do that every week at alemany farm at their work days which are the 1st and 3rd sundays (12NOON-5PM), and 2nd and 4th saturdays (12NOON-5PM), and every monday (1PM-5PM).

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

the nexus of november

when i last posted this monthly listing of events, it was the beginning of march, the ripples of the uprising in egypt were making themselves felt all the way to these shores, wisconsin was activated, and eric drooker was creating “general strike” artwork…

now here we are, more than 7 months later, with the fissures spreading through a crumbling structure, statements of solidarity with occupy wall street coming from cairo, and we are ACTUALLY gearing up for a general strike THIS WEDNESDAY, 2 NOVEMBER!! i can honestly say, that even with the events of this year, the spread of resistance, i didn’t really ever think i would experience a widespread american response to the oppression we are so good at pretending we don’t live under. i have so desperately wanted to see cracks shoot through the fragile transparent mess of corruption, scheming, impunity, and towers of wealth (and what makes that possible) that we continue to be on the beaten down end of as we also export the same jumble of wrong abroad again and again. it’s a relief to have people around me begin to acknowledge that it’s not just happening “over there” somewhere, that we too have a responsibility to rise up and demand accountability and our right to all that has been slowly sucked away from us. ever eloquent and practical, the folks at the free association in leeds take us one step past the simple excitement in saying: “a collapse of ideological faith in neoliberalism or even our narrative being proved right by history, just isn’t, on its own, enough to save us. … the task is to find the political forms that can take advantage of this ideological void by expressing the widespread discontent while at the same time overcoming the blockages to the circulation of struggle that come with our neoliberal inheritance.” i think it’s fair to say we’re working these out, city by city, each in our own “unfocused” and “unkempt” way.

since i’ve brought the word “neoliberalism” into play, i thought i’d quote a little more from the free association, from the piece Re:generation in their book published this year, moments of excess: movements, protest and everyday life. it’s an attempt to explain how we got here, and why we are suddenly taking notice. oh, and what to do about it, and since we’re IN one, a moment of excess, it’s very useful right now!

“How have we ended up in this position? In part it’s because neoliberalism has been extremely effective at decomposing society, particularly in the US and UK. One of its primary aims has been to change our common sense view of the world and remove the preconditions for collective action. Put slightly differently, neoliberal reforms of society are aimed at producing neoliberal subjectivities. Markets are imposed on on ever-wider areas of life, and participation in those markets trains people in a neoliberal world-view. …[W]hen you participate in a competitive market you are forced to act as a utility-maximising individual — you have to act in ruthless and heartless competition with others over scarce resources. The more we do this, the more we come to adopt this outlook as natural. This is what we mean by a neoliberal subjectivity, the possibilities that appear open to us are conditioned by these experiences. The difference now, however, is that those trained in this world-view are finding it increasingly hard to make sense of the world.

We can gain another angle on this by thinking about antagonism. You’d expect that the relentless transfer of social wealth into the hands of the very, very rich would provoke resistance from those whose wealth is being taken away. Neoliberalism deals with this problem by obscuring these antagonisms — partly by inculcating a world-view that can’t recognise them, but also through mechanisms that displace or defer them. Real wages in the West have stagnated or declined since the late 1970s. Yet access to cheap credit, coupled with rising property prices benefiting many, helped to maintain living standards in the present and so defer the consequences of neoliberalism. Antagonism over social resources was thus displaced into the future — a future that has now arrived.”

and what an opportunity in this “future” we have now, the future that has been “blown wide open,” with unprecedented coalition-building, the sharing of common stories in plazas and occupations everywhere, a general strike in oakland, to begin to stitch back a decomposed society, by working together against those forces of neoliberalism and capitalism that want to pit us against each other, and systematically manufacture ways for us to scramble for resources and work against our own interests. the show of defiance the oakland librarians demonstrated on tuesday, to not close the main library when asked to do so by the city of oakland because we would be gathering there; the unanimous endorsement by the oakland teachers union of wednesday’s strike; and the conversations of people wanting to plug in i hear in previously unpoliticized circles are examples which say to me: this is one of the moments we have been working and waiting for!

and of course, many of us have been not waiting, rather tirelessly working on our various talents whether creative or political or both, which challenge, or at least provide commentary on, the “way things are.” to find ways to participate or reflect every day, below is a listing of events that jump out at me for the month ahead.

see you in the streets!

i look forward to 2 november every year. this year it’s twice as electrifying, with oakland’s general strike and the mission district’s día de los muertos/day of the dead procession both planned for this day. before i dress in black/white/red and allow my inner skeleton to shine through for the evening, i will be heading over to occupy oakland in solidarity with the strike. (i will also be taking the day “off”). largely self-employed i find i have a complicated relationship to the idea of striking, and relate to the question rebecca solnit asks: “For those of us who work for ourselves at home, what is a general strike?” it definitely doesn’t have the implications for me that it does for folks who are obligated to be in their workplace. in envisioning what it will be like, i think back to the SF 1934 general strike which looms large as an influential piece of social relations here in the city. how will we make history this week? i plan to go to occupy oakland in the morning as it’s all beginning. meet ups at 9 AM, 12 NOON, 5 PM, 14th and broadway, oakland.

come wander the mission with all souls on wednesday, 2 november

the day of the dead acts as a day of renewal and it is my favorite gathering – joining with thousands of bay area folks at the dia de los muertos procession also on wednesday, 2 november in the mission to solemnly and ceremoniously and celebratorily walk together, drum together, and honor our paths and the paths of those who have gone before us. the altars created in garfield park are also extraordinary and worth spending some contemplative time at. 7 PM, 22nd and bryant st.

on thursday, 3 november i will be celebrating my friend mokai’s cd release for an album he’s been creating for and envisioning for a long time, “any distraction’ll do.” also my talented friend sean burns will also be performing, along with some others. it is in an intimate and inviting berkeley storefront space that i love and which is run by a couple dynamic women friends of mine, claire and nicole. should be a beautiful evening with great people. 7:30 PM, subterranean arthouse, 2179 bancroft way, berkeley, $10-$20 (or more if you wanna buy the cd too!).

i’ve been told by some cutting-edge and always in-the-know bay area dance and performance artists to not miss the robert steijn solo show on thursday, 3 november, “I am reborn a smoker / Allowing myself to get high in the clouds of imagination.” it is a performance in the form of a lecture/demonstration, where steijn, who works between amsterdam and vienna, mixes story telling, dancing, stand up comedy, and serious investigation to get obsessed with invisible energies and presences. i’m sorry to miss it… 8 PM, joe goode performance annex, 499 alabama at 17th, SF, $10-$20.

a fantastic artist and friend of mine you should become acquainted with soon, paz de la calzada (you may have seen her “hairscape” mural on market at street level of the strand theater), is presenting her work together with colombian artist claudia salamanca on thursday, 3 november as part of the mexican consulate’s current show, Numina Femenina, Latin Women in the Arts (through 13 december).  6:30 PM, consulate general of mexico, 532 folsom st. @ 2nd, FREE.

speaking of imagination, how about continuing to reimagine this urban landscape? the filmmaker who did helvetica, gary hustwit, has a new film out: urbanized, which is showing from friday, 4 november – thursday, 10 november. this piece is meant to approach the topic of the future of cities, but i think it will be just as much an exploration of how our present realities have been shaped through the not entirely powerless influences of architects, urban planners, builders, and policymakers. (there are also showings of helvetica and objectified on 9 and 10 november respectively…) 4 PM, 6 PM, 8 PM (also 2 PM on 5 & 6 nov.), yerba buena center for the arts screening room, $10.

looking to the shores of this urban peninsula, the rip curl pro tour at ocean beach begins this week, if pro surfing close to home rocks your world. scheduled for 4 – 11 november, it looks like it’s kicking off tuesday, 1 november already with surf and weather looking good. 8 AM, north end of ocean beach.

the first weekend of november is looking pretty full. at least the local credit unions are going to know what full feels like when people rush in droves to transfer their money out of commercial banks by saturday, 5 november. i highly recommend the sf fire credit union, but any other credit union, or local community bank will be good places to keep your money safe from bailouts and sketchy investment practices, not to mention horribly high fees.

a fun urban agriculture project, how to homestead, is hosting their tenth stop on the citywide “11 in 11 tour” on saturday, 5 november, crisscrossing each and every district of SF with how-to homestead movies and workshops at every stop, breathing life into the often overlooked and underutilized recreation centers in our neighborhoods. for this stop they will be in district 7, on the south slope of bernal hill, with an islais creek watershed walk, potluck, bbq, seed exchange, and live music. 11 AM – 3 PM, st. mary’s recreation center, 95 justin drive, SF, $5 suggested donation.

if you’re not finished with your day of alternatives, later on saturday, 5 november, critical resistance, an organization dedicated to abolishing the prison industrial complex, is putting on a fundraiser, envisioning abolition with angela davis, music from rupa and the april fishes, and many more, including tunes spun by the inspiringly named DJ, CLR Jamz! i hope you can support this organization which is taking a firm stand against the increasingly powerful and insidious industry. show at 8 PM, uptown body and fender, 401 26th street, oakland, $25-$75.

on sunday, 6 november, don’t forget we “fall back” an hour with our clocks, as daylight savings time ends…

you can go back in time with chris carlsson on sunday, 6 november on our shaping san francisco labor bicycle history tour. learn more about the 1934 general strike and various other ways workers have organized and asserted their rights over the course of the City’s development. it’s a four-hour tour revisiting the 8-hour day movement, and all the way back to the pre-urban history of indian slavery on this land. if you’ve been part of making strike history on the 2nd, this may be especially interesting to you to explore more deeply the stories that precede us. meet at 12 NOON, counterpulse, 1310 mission street at 9th, $15-$50.

for those of you with little ones, or maybe even for some of you older ones, you might be interested in checking out the bay area science discovery day at the giants ballpark on sunday, 6 november. think of it as a big science festival, in a baseball park! i find out about these things cuz we park bicycles at so many disparate events, and it’s a little worrying that chevron sponsors such things for impressionable and smart young folks… but science can be oh so useful, and fun. 11 AM – 4 PM, giants ballpark, FREE.

one of the many ways we can assert ourselves as citizens in this democratic society is to vote in elections. on tuesday, 8 november we in SF will be voting for our mayor and sheriff, and other city and county government positions. while i don’t think this should be the total sum of your efforts to exercise your democratic voice, and the jury’s still out on the ranked-choice voting we have recently adopted, i do encourage you to do this TOO. it IS also the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote, and i’m thinking a lot about what it means to be accepted as a political actor by society because i’m going to be talking about suffrage and the long struggle to get there on wednesday, 14 december as part of our shaping san francisco public talks series (save the date!), and i have never thought we should take this right for granted.

speaking of shaping san francisco public talks, on wednesday, 9 november, come out for an animated tour of san francisco before urbanization through the 3D computer rendering of old SF maps with glenn lym. ever wondered what those sand dunes must have looked like, towering over the landscape? this will be fun, especially if you like maps. 7:30 PM, counterpulse, 1310 mission street at 9th, FREE (donations appreciated).

if you’re looking to outfit your bicycle for the winter, or haven’t seen any good BMX bike stunts lately, or just haven’t been out to the cow palace in awhile, on saturday and sunday, 12 and 13 november the sf bike expo will be holding court at the southern reaches of SF. you can ride out there, or bike/bart, and park your two wheels with the bicycle coalition and yours truly (at least on saturday morning). it’s pretty entertaining, and there are some good deals to be had on bikes, components, and apparel before the rainy season begins. 10 AM – 5 PM, cow palace, 2600 geneva ave, $12 presale, $15 at the door (one day), $20 for a two-day pass. [one other thing of note for you bicyclists is the new raza bicycle collective i learned about at sunday streets last month. it’s a new organization supporting latinos on bikes in SF with repairs and advice. get more information at]

though i’ll be otherwise engaged brainstorming how to make my breadmaking instruction endeavor mobile, on tuesday, 15 november you might want to get another dose of visuals analyzing how we use our urban environment, the social life of small urban spaces.  this film is a study in NYC’s plazas, streets, and sidewalks and is presented as part of the studio’s “reclaim market street” exhibit and series of interventions (all in october, a few of which i also had the pleasure of helping plot and participating in).  SPUR, 654 market st. at 3rd, 6 PM, FREE. [this one has sold out.  but maybe you can find the film elsewhere…]

coming back around again on wednesday, 16 november, we at shaping san francisco bring you our public talks series. this particular wednesday will focus on the good, bad, & alternatives to mass education. a few fine, innovative, and critical local and international educator friends are presenting and moderating, and it will be a conversation for any aged person. 7:30 PM, counterpulse, 1310 mission street at 9th, FREE (donations appreciated).

thursday, 17 november there are two competing celebrations of local women that might be hard to choose from, since both are so worthy of support. first there’s the lyon-martin big bash celebrating phyllis lyon’s 87th birthday as well as the amazing fundraising campaign this inclusive clinic took on earlier this year as it faced closing its doors. it’s a bit pricey, but this clinic, begun specifically for lesbians 30 years ago, really needs your support to continue serving underserved women, queer, and trans folks. 6 PM, LGBT community center, 1800 market st., upwards of $87. the other event is also put on by a powerful grassroots organization. every year, flyaway productions (known for their breathtaking dance on the side of buildings, cranes, you name it) honors local urban activists who effect change through civic engagement, and through the arts in their 10 women campaign, this year entitled, “who is tending the city?” you should meet them! 7:30 PM, ODC Theater, 3153 17th street, $20 advance, $25 at the door.

if we’re on the subject of women, a captivating group of them will be performing in a 35-year retrospective celebration from wallflower order to dance brigade friday – sunday, 18 – 20 november. sword wielding, broom handling, tibetan book of the dead exploring, and taiko drumming are sure to be on hand. powerful, memorable, not to be missed! 8 PM (fri. and sat.) 2 PM (sun), novellus theater at yerba buena center for the arts, 700 howard at third st., FREE.

rolling through the streets again on saturday, 19 november, in the cycles of history bicycle tour on dissent chris carlsson will show you sites of everything from literary dissent to urban riots and protests. another four-hour tour to transform the way you see the City and the use of public space. meet at 12 NOON, counterpulse, 1310 mission street at 9th, $15-$50.

on saturday, 19 november, the luggage store gallery and my friend eliza barrios present a moving (by bicycle!) sound and projection project in conjunction with the 3 november – 3 december show “lost cities,” a psycho-geographical, mixed-media narrative that explores pre and post apocalyptic urban landscapes and architectural backdrops through imaginary characters named “the sub-colonials” who move, dance, and tread through these past, futurist, and surreal environments. with old and new TL imagery and sound, 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM, 6th and market, FREE.

how to homestead is finishing up their “11 in 11 tour” in the tenderloin, district 6, on saturday, 19 november, with a kids-only event (adults are allowed when accompanied by their child/ren) where they will make seed creatures, learn to screen print and sew with a hand crank sewing machine. TBD, tenderloin recreation center, 570 ellis street at hyde, $5 suggested donation.

another homesteading instruction locus, the institute of urban homesteading, a project of my friend ruby, is offering a class on how best to infuse vinegar, liqueur, and honey on sunday, 20 november. might be a fun way to impress the family around the holidaze!! 2 PM – 5 PM, north oakland, $40 – $65 plus some supplies, register online.

finally, at least for now, if we haven’t imagined the future enough, the shaping san francisco public talks series presents the history of the future, an opportunity to ponder utopias and dystopias, imagination and revolution, and the power of social movements and propaganda to shape different futures on wednesday, 30 november. with chris carlsson, starhawk, and megan prelinger. 7:30 PM, counterpulse, 1310 mission street at 9th, FREE (donations appreciated).

** i really want to get back to the kurt schwitters collage show BEFORE sunday, 27 november. i have only seen one or two of his pieces at a time on display, and getting to see so many side by side, AS WELL AS the merzbau is sooooo exciting, inspiring, awe-inducing. (can you tell collage is my main medium?) one might think schwitters has something to say to us in this time of creating new systems if you consider his words, “In the war, things were in terrible turmoil. What I had learned at the academy was of no use to me and the useful new ideas were still unready. . . . Everything had broken down and new things had to be made out of the fragments; and this is Merz.” come with me, let’s make a plan. 11 AM – 5 PM weds. – sun., berkeley art museum (BAM), $10.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

the making of a march

i’ve just spent a series of days in the company of good and inspiring people, and have been reminded of the courageous, beautiful, attitude-shifting, and deeply thoughtful work that many of the rest of you have been doing out in the world through (not because of) facebook posts, phone conversations, and event notices. i’ve been watching the unfolding events in egypt, libya, wisconsin, and beyond with a metaphorical raised right fist, remembering being on the picket lines with my mother – a lifelong teacher who was engaging in collective outrage against layoffs – when i was still in a stroller and what lingered was the understanding that there are things you have no choice but to fight for. it’s worth saying that the basis for my existence is thanks to her teacher’s salary, benefits, and pension.

eric drooker's bold lines and color calling all of us in

i’ve been following the unified bristles of paintbrushes translating the courage, outrage, and ongoing stand for justice of the workers of immokalee into brilliant banners and puppets since mona caron and david solnit are now on their team! i’ve been brainstorming with bicycle activists about how to best show our solidarity with the dozen bicyclists in porto alegre, brazil who were taken by surprise and severely injured when a car plowed into a celebratory critical mass ride from behind last month. i’ve been connecting multiple dots for and between people to further creative projects, fulfill desires to be of service, and help visitors in a new city navigate unknown geographies.* i’ve been thankful to find myself in the midst of engaging community, tribes of people who are taking action in creating the lives they want to have, which they want others to benefit from too.

that was the initial reason to begin sending these event listings out, to invite folks i enjoy spending time with to experience some of the endless array of compelling events happening in this City with me. to say, “hey, here’s where i’ll be, come join me!” of course, i’ve realized the more successful way to get people to hang out with you is to invite folks personally, and so this email method of getting people together has not really worked out toward that end. but the listing has taken on a life of its own in the couple years i’ve been compiling it, and it seems it is missed when i don’t make it happen. now i see it more as a showcase of what a lot of people i know and respect are doing, or subjects and happenings i am intrigued by. i no longer can be found at ALL of what i list, and also it can never be exhaustive when there are so many amazing things taking place concurrently. in fact, there’s a ton of space to get out into the unknown of our city/bay area, as rupa urged at the end of her high energy set on friday night: to go and hang out into spaces and with people we wouldn’t ordinarily, cuz we’re gonna have to reach outside our comfortable communities if we’re ever gonna make a change!

*there’s been not nearly enough dancing in these revolutionary activities. help me change this!
what’s on this month:
a project i was working on from mid-2008-early 2010 with mona caron will be showcased in the short film, A Brush With the Tenderloin, which is screening tuesday, 8 march at the hobart building downtown. it’s showing with other short films about women in celebration of international women’s day. variety club screening room, 582 market st (at 2nd), 7:30 PM, $12 at the door. [this event sold out, but the community benefit district in the TL is planning a special screening of this 22 min. film. it was fun to see myself and mona at all the stages, listen to the eloquence of mona describing various elements, and remember what a fun and epic project this mural painted in the tenderloin was!]

i didn’t get this listing out in time to tell you about the benefit festival at the subterranean arthouse celebrating their 2nd anniversary this past weekend, but it’s a place i highly recommend checking out because it’s an intimate place to see music, hold events like screenings or gallery shows, and in general absorb the vibe of what a small community art space puts out. the bene-fest was a rollicking affair – during the rare moments i stopped dancing on saturday night i could feel the floor bouncing! one of the bands that put folks in a frenzy, zoyres eastern european wild ferment, self-described as eastern european folk music/free improvisation/jazz/rock/d-n-b group will be mixing the essential ingredients for deliciousness at another beloved art space on friday, 11 march. get there early to get tickets before it sells out! red poppy art house, folsom and 23rd sts, 8 PM, $10-$20 sliding scale.

another place i’ve been already, but want to HIGHLY recommend, is UC davis’s theatre and dance department production, come hell & high water, which is the most creative piece of theater i’ve seen in ages. it’s an epic on the US as seen through the eyes of a prisoner – as a teenager when he’s newly in jail, and as a 100 year old man and against the backdrops of a flood and hurricane katrina. what they do with water is brilliant, it’s directed by tony-award winning french director-in-residence dominique serrand, and worth a trip to davis for during its last weekend, friday – sunday, 11 – 13 march. one shields ave., fri/sat 8 PM, sun 2 PM, $13/$17 (students/general).

fusing together paintings and shadow imagery to showcase balinese mythology, the asian art museum is hosting two full length performances featuring a 70 member company of musicians and dancers and shadow puppeteers on friday, 11 march and saturday, 12 march. this is just one of the ways to experience the latest exhibit on bali at the museum. i now have a membership, so please invite yourself along as my guest sometime! 200 larkin st., friday performance 7 PM, saturday performance 2 PM, $10 (museum members) $27 (nonmembers). [sold out!]

one exhibit i’d like to recommend (from this month’s oakland art murmur) celebrates women’s history month through a judy chicago-inspired installation. like judy chicago’s dinner party, a project intended to teach women’s herstory through art, which consisted of plates and table runners created as a tribute to the feminine and influential women throughout time, the box at warehouse 416 is a collection of vagina portrait place settings inspired by the contributions of women. opening night is saturday, 12 march. 416 26th st. (betw. broadway and telegraph), 6 – 9 PM, FREE (you could bid on a bowl or textile setting).

also on saturday, 12 march the burmese american democratic alliance is putting on their annual burma human rights day benefit featuring a burmese dinner, a documentary, and two exiled burmese speakers. presentations will focus on the ongoing fight for freedom, human rights, and what life is like after the 2010 election. berkeley UU hall, 1924 cedar (at bonita), 6 PM, $15 suggested donation (to benefit HIV/AIDS shelters in burma).

on the film festival circuit, the sf asian american film festival is here. being in its 29th year puts its beginnings in 1982, in the wake of all the exciting social movements about identity politics that were emergent in the 1970s (which is interesting to me since i’ve been working a lot on the history of those movements lately). i have a looong list of films that look good to me. it may be possible for me to fit one or two of the following list in my schedule, and any interest from other folks will shoot specific films to the top of the list:
saturday, 12 march, The Taqwacores (US). clay, 5:30 PM, or Dog Sweat (Iran/US). kabuki, 6 PM, or I Wish I Knew (China/Netherlands). clay, 8 PM.
monday, 14 march, Saigon Electric (vietnam). kabuki, 8:30 PM.
tuesday, 15 march, Tales of the Waria (indonesia). kabuki, 4:45 PM, or The Imperialists are Still Alive!(US), viz cinema, 6:30 PM. all films $12 each (six-pack $60).

thinkwalks AKA joel pomerantz, is offering a walk on the watersheds of laguna honda on sunday, 13 march. if you’re curious about SF water history, how the landscape of SF has changed, or want to traverse some topography west of twin peaks, you can’t go wrong with a thinkwalks tour! start at garden for the environment, 7th ave. (at lawton), 1 PM, $10 – $40 suggested donation.

on wednesday, 16 march, another local history scholar and mapper, johnny of the popular bernal/mission/la lengua blog burrito justice, is doing a slideshow and talk for the bernal history project. community history is getting to be the latest coolest thing, so jump on the bandwagon and learn about where you live! bernal heights branch library, 500 cortland ave (at andover), 7 PM, FREE.

i’ve got a soft spot for the monthly concerts at the cadillac hotel. there aren’t that many places you can see live music for free, or at midday on a friday, and that’s definitely true if you’re a cadillac or tenderloin resident. this month, on friday, 18 march they’re featuring the unidentified flying quartet, who i’ve seen perform there before and they’re fabulous! cadillac hotel, 380 eddy st (at leavenworth), 12:30 PM, FREE.

i’m tempted to go see the new 35 mm restored battleship potemkin on the big big screen on friday, 18 march or saturday, 19 march… i don’t think i’ve seen it since a very hazy adolescent moment in a classroom in suburbia. i’m sure it will have more meaning for me, or at least i’ll have some perspective, now! the castro theatre, 429 castro st., fri & sat: 7:30 PM, 9:30 PM, sat: 2 PM, 4 PM, 5:45 PM, $10. [this was very fun to see with a group of smart people who dissected it with me afterwards. we discussed at the use of cinema in such a didactic way, marvelled at the succession of homoerotic imagery, had different opinions on the location of the schism or the point on which everything hung, wondered about the anti-semitic comment by a figure in the film who got caught up in the revolutionary moment then got pummelled by the crowd, noticed both the traditional role of women as wailers as well as women starting to get a space on the platform, and that tense moment when the potemkin appealed to the squadron not to shoot… this viewing was much more enjoyable than i remember it to be in the ’80s.]

ok, dancing on the agenda! non stop bhangra is back on saturday, 19 march. i’ve taken one of vicky virk’s dance classes, but have never been to this sweaty mess of an event which appears to create an insane endorphin rush, if the feedback i’ve gotten on this event is to be believed. shall we join the throngs? it’s st. patrick’s day weekend, so wearing a green sari might be in order. rickshaw stop, 155 fell (betw. van ness and franklin, 9 PM – 2 AM (bhangra lesson at 9:30 PM, live music 10:30 PM, djs at 11 PM), $10/$20 (pre-sale/at door).

kicking off another year of sanctioned street takeovers, catch sunday streets on the embarcadero on sunday, 20 march. explore the bayfront, and come say hi at pier 39 where i’ll be parking bicycles all day! from fisherman’s wharf to mariposa street all the way down in dogpatch/potrero hill, 11 AM – 4 PM, just requires your human power to get there! [rain kept most of the hoardes away, but the joke was that most of the day was actually quite sunny and beautiful along the waterfront. we valets were mesmerized by an acrobatic troupe which performed the same show to the letter four times in a row. it had nothing to do with the six pack and accent that the main young guy sported…i swear.]

on sunday, 20 march, join the haiti action committee for a talk on haiti and honduras: the fight for democracy in the americas. with pierre labossiere, HAC and porfirio quintano, hondureños en resistencia del norte de california. sf friends meeting house, 65 ninth st, 5 PM – 7 PM, donation. [it’s fair to assume that pierre labossiere was probably not at this event, since i heard reports that he accompanied jean bertrand aristide back to haiti!! this didn’t seem to affect the elections, but the coming months and years will be really interesting to watch!]

join rebecca solnit, her infinite city authors, and green apple books for a fancy dress atlas cocktail party on thursday, 24 march. this evening of local writing, art, and lore will be a fun chance to place yourself and rub elbows with the fantastic group of folks who rebecca brought together to map this amazing city of ours. tosca cafe, 242 columbus ave, 7 PM, FREE.

i mentioned the horrible critical mass in porto alegre, brazil where a car driver knowingly sped through a crowd of cyclists, sending dozens flying. he has now been indicted of attempted murder, which is hopeful, since for many days it was only being called an “accident.” a video i watched showed people young and old on a leisurely ride, enjoying the time together, bringing along pets in their baskets, only to be horrified and surprised by a speeding car that came from behind. this month, on friday, 25 march, the sf critical mass is dedicating our ride to the victims of the senseless violence and to advocate for conviction of attempted murder. meet at justin herman plaza, ride starts 6 PM ish, FREE!

one of san francisco’s most cogent performance artists and thinkers, keith hennessy, is part of the cast of an improvisation with dancer/choreographer meg stuart on friday and saturday, 25 and 26 march called auf den tisch!/at the table! i’d translate it as “throw it out there! what you got?!”, and that’s the spirit in which they’ll be performing, yes, ON a giant table which the audience will sit at and contribute in a collaborative way, encouraged to work with the performers. sounds terrifying, and that’s why i should probably go! yerba buena center for the arts forum, 8 PM, $20/$25 (ybca members/nonmembers). [just back from the intimate sneak preview dress rehearsal on thursday, and this show is smart, funny, engaging, full of ironic costumes – and many costume changes – and everything you’d want in a date, if not an improvisational dance performance. worth it. go.]

homesteading, urban farming, and permaculture are on everyone’s tongues of late, and if you’re feeling a little skill-deficient, there’s a USF/SF Arts Commission collaboration which has an online repository of short how-to films just for you. how-to homestead is also “on tour” in SF this year, spreading good ideas and unearthing underutilized community spaces in every district of the 7×7 place we call home. on saturday, 26 march they’ll be in district 3 with a solar oven workshop, potluck, and contra dancing. telegraph hill neighborhood center, 3 PM – 10 PM (check for schedule), FREE (bring a potluck dish to share).

on saturday, 26 march, adriana camarena, jaime cortez, and rebecca solnit will focus on the mission facets of the atlas that is infinite city. galeria de la raza is hosting, and you bet it will be an epic ride through the neighborhood, if jaime and adriana’s previous readings are any indication! 2857 24th st. (at bryant), 4 PM, FREE.

for more local SF history, and if you missed the chance to hear about the book last month at our shaping san francisco talk, head on down to the green arcade on saturday, 26 march for a presentation on vanished waters: a history of san francisco’s mission bay. chris carlsson has been working on this book with the mission creek conservancy and will present with the stalwart duo, and mission creek houseboat dwellers, bob isaacson and ginny stearns. they’ll cover the indigenous presence in this bay area, the flora and fauna of times past and the regrowth of the area, and chris will talk about the transformation of this area of town – mission bay – we no longer know as a body of water. it’s a spectacular book, and you can pick one up at this and upcoming events in april. green arcade, 1680 market (at gough), 7 PM, FREE (book sells for $25/$35 (paperback/hardcover).

the international home theater festival hits 24th and folsom (right after the storm hit one of the humongous street trees and sent it crashing across the road) on tuesday, 29 march. sweat lodge, south american slide show and curiosities, and something special on love by keith hennessy are the performance installations to witness and influence with your presence. inside the artists’ homes… pigeon palace, 2842 folsom betw. 24th and 25th, 7 PM – 10 PM arrive anytime, $5.

my favorite SF bass clarinetist, aaron novik, was almost giddy about the thought of a new band when i ran into him on the street the other night. his innovative, accessible, yet virtuosic style and ability to bring together highly skilled musicians who want to get down is inimitable. check out dante counterstamp on wednesday, 30 march. viracocha, 998 valencia st. at 21st, 8 PM, $5-$10.

one option for thursday, 31 march is to discuss street designs that prioritize space for pedestrians and bicyclists. i’m gonna be tooling around town in a bus that night, but the transit nerd in me would sure like to be at studio for urban projects listening to streetsblog, REBAR, and great streets folks throwing down the wisdom and telling us what to look for in terms of changes to come in making the city more livable. 3579 17th st. at dolores, 7 PM, $5 – $15 suggested donation. *RSVP to*

as part of the 2011 human rights watch film festival, a film about the angola 3, in the land of the free…, will be shown on thursday, 31 march. these three prisoners have been targeted for organizing as black panthers in prison in the 1970s, fighting against segregation and terrible prison conditions. come learn more about these men who have spent almost as long as i’ve been alive in solitary confinement, convicted of a murder they are adamant they didn’t commit. yerba buena center for the arts screening room, 7:30 PM, $6/$8 (ybca members/nonmembers). [i’m gonna miss this, so if you go see it, please let me know what you think.]

and, in case i don’t get to the next month’s listing before april begins, rupa and the april fishes are playing their annual april 1st show on, no joke, friday, 1 april! this year it’s an international roma celebration with roma artists and is a benefit for the voice of roma. get your tickets now, it’ll sell out! the independent, 628 divisadero (at grove), 8 PM, $20 (buy at box office for no service charge!).

also, 1 april is the deadline to nominate women for flyaway productions’ (an aerial/apparatus-based dance company) 10 women campaign, of which rupa was one in 2009! they are looking for women tending the city: urban activists in Bay Area cities, who are working to promote justice in housing, education, law, financial reform, juvenile justice, healthcare, and the many other fields in need of urban social change. they are seeking women of all ages, sexual orientations and ethnicities. you must know at LEAST a handful of women who fit these criteria! send the following to
HER NAME/ HER EMAIL/ HER PHONE plus THE WORK she is doing and why you are nominating her.

multiple offerings:
we at shaping san francisco are hosting a bevy of authors from PM Press for our Public TALKS! series on wednesdays in march. on 9 march The Struggles of the Balkans and Romani in Fact and Fiction will be on the table, on 16 march we’ll discuss the creation of new movements and the idea of political generations as well as the book moments of excess, and on 23 march you too can come envision radical futures of the book (is there life after ebooks?). i’ll be hosting all of these with our co-presenter ramsey kanaan from PM press. and to finish up the month, on 30 march we’ll see what’s happening in the world of watersheds as related to culture and reciprocal bioregionalism. all events at counterPULSE, 1310 mission st. (at 9th), 7:30 PM, FREE (donations appreciated).

garden for the environment continues to offer fun and practical classes just in time for spring planting and gleaning. saturday, 12 march they are offering instruction on perennial vegetables for SF (10 AM – 12 NOON) and discovering wild edibles (1 PM – 3 PM). saturday, 19 march the have an intro to organic veggie gardening (10 AM – 12 NOON). check them out on saturday, 26 march to learn to grow salads from seed to harvest (10 AM – 12 NOON) or an introduction to urban beekeeping (first in a series of four, 1 PM – 3 PM). all classes at 7th ave (at lawton), and are $15 each.

vocalist lily taylor, described by one reviewer as “a smoky, noir heroine, straight out of a back room jazz hall with dirty floors and a secret password to get in” will be performing at several locations in march: on saturday, 12 march as part of fact sf/counterfeit (554 capp st., 7:30 PM, $15), sunday, 13 march with karina denike at the rite spot (folsom at 17th, 8:30 PM, FREE), and at the stud on friday, 25 march (399 9th st, 11 PM, $5).

i’ve been helping a friend of mine, pam deluco, on a fun project she conceived of for, and produced with, the band cake to create a handmade book for a single off their latest album. not only was the band fun to meet and work with, but the various stages of bookmaking – from papermaking, to colormatching, to binding, to offering the finished product have been super fun. the book will be for sale on cake’s website soon!

somewhere you might run across me is at alemany farm on our weekend work days. i finished my year-long ecological horticulture apprenticeship last weekend with a great lesson in fruit tree pruning, grafting, and care. we also planted this year’s crop of onions, composted fava bean cover crops, and left with a bountiful harvest. if you want to come out for a work day, just show up! 1st and 3rd sundays, 2nd and 4th (& 5th) saturdays, 12 NOON – 5 PM, mondays 1 PM – 5 PM, just your sweat and strength needed.

so, there you have it, all the ingredients you need for making a march – inspiring artwork, issues to organize around, directions to get there, and community if you choose! go to it!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


since this is the beginning, i thought a nice place holder offering anticipation of what is to come might be this quote i like from monique truong’s the book of salt:

“intriguing, always calls for a second look, an irresistible glance back, a heightened desire to know and to have. intrigue cannot be added at the end. a sprinkling of sequins, a glazing of glass beads, a handful of store bought fringes, all suggest a lack of forethought, like salting a roast after it has cooked as opposed to before… intrigue, like salt, is best if it is there from the beginning.”

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized