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I saw “Maggots and Men” last week at Frameline. It was amazing. Like seriously amazing.

When I go to see art produced by people I know, and starring people I know, my expectations are low. I don’t mean that my friends aren’t talented. I mean that I’m already on their side and pre-disposed to be positive. I’ll laugh at the in-jokes. I’ll forgive hammy behavior. I’ll wince with them at hard moments, not be thinking “someone else might have done this better”.

“Maggots…” however, exceeded every expectation I had.

When I moved out of my apartment on Valencia St. 15 years ago, Cary (the Director) moved in. We had known each other through Epicenter and the punk scene. Indeed, the house I was moving out of, and that he was moving into back then in 1994, was a hub of the queer punk scene. My housemates had helped found Q-TIP (Queers Together in Punkness) and also produced shows under the name “House of Failure” (our phone number was 552-FAIL… what a happy coincidence for the “beautiful loser” generation). I’m not aware of any touring queer punk bands of that era didn’t drop by at some point, even if just to change outfits or use the bathroom before the show since we were only a half block from Epicenter.

When I saw that his movie was finally finished I knew that it was the one thing I couldn’t miss in this year’s film festival, even if it was just to see what an old friend had done over the last 5 years. “Maggots…” is the re-telling of the Kronstadt Uprising of 1921. The last hope of the real Russian Revolution, sailors at the Kronstadt naval base made 15 demands to the revolutionary Bolshevik government, which might have altered history and prevent the Soviet Union from becoming the tyrannical, farce of a revolution that it became. After a few minor victories, the sailors -- many of whom had fired on the Winter Palace during the 1917 revolution -- were killed, jailed, or forced to flee over ice to Finland. (Kronstadt, like the Spanish Revolution of 1936, has always been an anarchist talking point.)

“Maggots…” certainly owes a debt to Eisenstein’s “Battleship Potemkin”. While I don’t know if anyone has every been a better visual filmmaker than Eisenstein, “Maggots..” is a beautiful, beautiful film. And brilliantly scored.

Cary also made the incredibly smart decision to make the film narrated by a rebel sailor in Russian, with English subtitles.* In this way, the film could be made with its mostly transgender/gender queer cast of friends and not have the varying levels of acting ability affect the final product. ** I was overjoyed to see lots of people I knew on the big screen of the Castro, (including House of Failure housemates) but this film rose above the art-of-friends category and is seriously a film I would recommend to anyone. It’s gripping, assumption-challenging, and, in the end, tearfully sad. Of course, the place to see it is at a film festival because it’s only a 50 minute movie and it deserves to be seen on the big screen. Watch for it! Request it from your local festivals!

While the movie does not have much humor, the funniest part of the screening was when asked a question about the maggots filmed in the movie, Cary told how they had to grow them for the film a number of times. He said that his relationship to them really changed after all that. After all, they’re really only “going through their own transition”.

The film doesn’t over-polemicize. With its mostly trans cast, it draws out questions between revolutionary moments in history and a time when gender can be revolutionary transformed, but doesn’t try and make them direct parallels. It’s a beautiful look at the potential of revolutionary moments to be beautiful, perhaps even challenging folks to appreciate that beauty before stronger social forces can organize to take back control. It's also a love letter to rebels who have the courage to take up these fights.

*There is an agitprop retelling of the history of Kronstadt by a theater troupe in English as well
**An example of this is the Bratt Brothers’ early film “Follow Me Home”. It’s a masterpiece in some ways, painful to watch in others. The Rainbow Grocery joke was hilarious though.
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I loved Milk. I had some issues – you should know by now that I’m like that – but everything about seeing the movie was awesome: huge lines that went down 18th to Hartford, the huge banner outside the Castro Theater, the laughing and hissing that –for once—appropriate and not claustrophbic*, and a theater full of people crying together. It was a community event and while you should go see it wherever it’s playing, if you are near SF I really recommend seeing it at the Castro.

I have memories of Harvey Milk. They are memories of a kid, so they may or may not be accurate. I remember my school closing because of the assassinations. True, the worry was more over a People’s Temple hit squad than a crazy ex-cop, but it was a big deal. I remember watching a Briggs/Milk debate on TV about the proposition to ban gay teachers from schools and knew it would affect some of my favorite teachers. I recall Milk trying to argue rationally and Briggs interrupting him to point out that he had chosen pink paper to write his notes on.

The movie starts with the clip of Diane Feinstein announcing the murders of Moscone and Milk. That clip – and I’ve seen it 100 times – never fails to give me chills. I think it’s a reporter – obviously distraught – yelling “Jesus Christ!” and everyone else gasping. It is a profoundly unprofessional, non-political, and human moment for everyone involved.

Any movie that begins and ends with the hero being murdered is a tearjerker. [livejournal.com profile] smallstages and I brought a whole box of tissues. But it is not especially manipulative. It tells the story of Harvey Milk, a story more people should know. I remember, during the few years I lived outside the Bay Area in the late ‘80s, hearing “God is a Bullet” by Concrete Blonde for the first time and being amazed that someone knew of Harvey Milk outside of the Bay Area.

The movie’s biggest problem is one that everyone should assume going in: it’s a Hollywood Great Man story. It’s as if the whole concept of Gay Liberation came out of Harvey Milk’s head so he moved to SF to make it happen. One can believe that Milk was a hero and a martyr and still have room to believe that others paved the way for him. We just can’t expect to see that in a Hollywood film.

One ironic thing to note is the politics that are portrayed in the film. With the passage of Prop 8 so fresh in everyone’s minds, the scene where Milk stands up to the closeted rich gays to push a coming out strategy -- rather than a vague “civil rights” one – to defeat Briggs is rather ominous. A lesson not learned?

Also, I wish the film had ended with the White Night Riots instead of the candlelight vigil. When Dan White got off with manslaughter* the city erupted. There had been reports of the SFPD applauding Dan White when he was brought in for the murders and this – combined with years of police brutality in the gay community and communities of people of color – made the centerpiece of the riots the burning of multiple cop cars near City Hall.*** Check out this video on the bottom of this entry by [livejournal.com profile] jk_fabiani for riot pron. It’s only 1 minute long.

Of course that tells a less clear story since the rich gay “Advocate” folks, who Milk “defeats” in the movie, ended up immediately raising the funds to replace the cop cars and apologize.

But seriously. go see the movie and then rent “The Times of Harvey Milk” or vice versa. It’s well worth your time.

*At Frameline one year I saw a film about the gay communist South African who, being white, acted as a cover for Nelson Mandela before he was arrested. Mandela posed as his driver so he could travel the country. During the detailing of the advent of 1950s apartheid laws people started hissing. I really felt safe in assuming that everyone at the theater was against apartheid, especially since it took place in another country. The hissing was just too.. I don’t know… self-important to me a decade after the end of apartheid.

**Mostly because the prosecution overshot. The death penalty was and is wildly unpopular in San Francisco. In order to push for it, even in the case of assassination of the Mayor and Supervisor, the prosecution had to pick very right wing San Franciscans who said they would consider it at all,. The prosecution assumed that – being conservatives -- they would be appalled at the murder of elected officials. Unfortunately right wing San Francisco sympathized with White and he got the shortest term possible, only serving 5 years in jail. “Twinkie Defense” my ass.

***The image of which graced the first Dead Kennedys album “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables”
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I went to Modern Times last night for the "Clamor Magazine" post-mortem. Jen Angel has put out a zine/pamphlet called “Becoming the Media” about what they tried and why they went under. “Clamor” published from 1999-2006. I think it’s best described as an activist/lefty general interest magazine. Political issues were covered but often from a personal standpoint. Unlike many other lefty publications though, “Clamor” also published articles on varied subjects with no obvious “political” tie-in, acknowledging that whatever our politics, it’s not all we are.

It was gracious of Jen to invite me because, while I did have an article published in “Clamor”, I was also critical of the project at times. The second issue published the meanest letter to the editor I ever wrote and when I reviewed later issues for “MRR” or “Zine World” I wasn’t always kind. I think I once said, in my typical style of faint praise, that it didn’t seem like every article was someone’s slightly revamped college assignment anymore.

I may have more to say when I read the pamphlet, but what I said last night was that I liked that Clamor thought big, and tried to make lefties less alienating to a bigger audience. Even if thinking big often ends in failure, we can be better off for it. I am so sick of movement papers (or websites) where you can read a headline and know what the entire article is going to say. Sure, “Clamor” published some flat-out bad pieces over their six years, and even if I liked to kick it around a little, I miss it now that it’s gone. Plus, they actually paid (a token amount, but still… ) and supported new writers.

A magazine that I have some similar issues with is also in trouble now. If you want, head over to Bitch Magazine and buy a subscription or make a donation. They seem to be very close to going under. Even if they drive me crazy sometimes, that would still make me sad.
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Saturday night I went to a 40th birthday for an old high school friend but first I had to use my nature skills to avoid getting skunk-sprayed. I took the 49 and cut through upper Ft. Mason to get to the Ft. Mason Center*. It was dusk and the moon was shining on the Bay. I love the combination of natural beauty and huge man-made structures. Damn this city is beautiful.

The staircase I would usually take was chained off so I had to backtrack uphill to the long staircase that is about 50 yards of straight downhill concrete. No big deal except about 10 steps down I realized that a skunk was heading uphill, right next to the stairs, in my direction.

I stopped and stomped a little. Skunky stopped and raised his/her tail. I stomped some more. Skunky walked onto the stairs, luckily still 50 ft. away, and stopped, daring me to keep coming. I shuffled my feet loudly. Skunky raised tail again and turned around. Stalemate.

I kept making noise, not willing to walk a quarter mile back to the main street and taking a roundabout route of a few blocks. However, even though I was going to a party of ex-punks I wasn’t willing to go with that strong a stench. My day-of-working-with-cheese smell was quite enough already. “Hey Skunk, I have no problem with you personally. You just go your way and I’ll go mine,” I yelled.

I stomped some more and eventually Skunky jumped back off the stairs and slowly walked perpendicular to the stairs. I started down again and every time I’d take a few steps Skunky would stop and raise his/her tail. We went on like this until I reached the bottom. I felt we had reached an understanding and appreciated Skunky letting me pass.

The party was at the Firehouse (not the old club at 16th and Albion) and it was all the good things a 40th birthday should be, especially when the birthday girl hasn’t lived in the Bay Area for over a decade. There was sushi, meat on a stick, a grown daughter of people we grew up with, and music we never would have listened to at the time.

In fact, as Elton John’s best song, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”, played I thought about how many more times we had seen Verbal Abuse play that song than we had listened to Elton singing it. Of course, when Verbal Abuse played it at the tail end of the violent side of the ‘80s punk scene, The Farm would often break out into a sea of drunk brawling.** I don’t miss those days and the violence but it sure had a lot more feeling than a punk scene of bored, gently nodding kids wearing backpacks. Oh yeah, and you kids get off my lawn!

Anyways, as always at these events there are memory flashbacks and things you can’t figure out how you ever forgot. A slide show ran constantly of Niki pictures from the last 40 years… kiddie pics from before we met, drunken 4th of July parades, pictures of dead friends, pics from the party where our friend pulled out a gun “as a joke” but where no one died, bad fashion, parties with occasions that didn’t matter, weddings of the now-divorced… you know… life.

This was my favorite picture, taken in 1986 at one of those weddings. Niki is mourning that we had run out of champagne.
lysas wedding

I can’t believe we’ve known each other for 25 years. Happy Birthday Niki!

*geez, is this one of the worst homepages ever for such an amazing resource?

**A couple of the sound that I really like
Are the sounds of a switchblade and a motorbike
I'm a juvenile product of the working class
Whose best friend floats in the bottom of a glass


*** I briefly dated the woman on the far right in 1987. On our first date I gave her a Mohawk. Hott.

****The remnants of my Marin County punk scene will be coming together for Joan Jett at the Marin County Fair on July 2. There will be three of us.

*****and happy birthday [livejournal.com profile] goodbadgirl!!!
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Yes to same sex marriage!
Yes to abortion on demand!
Yes to amnesty for illegal immigrants!

Thanks [livejournal.com profile] jtemperence! (This is a real campaign ad from Missouri's 6th Congressional District, which includes parts of Kansas City.)
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What a busy May Day.

I started off the day dealing with entitlement on a bike. I don’t know what alerted me to the aggro guy on his bike but he was on my block coming out of an apartment. I don’t think I had seen him before, but he had a bike helmet and sunglasses so it was a little hard to tell. I felt him semi-staring at me as I walked down the block but, like I said, he was wearing sunglasses so I couldn’t tell 100% if he was looking at me. He was giving off that go-ahead-and-ask-me-what-I’m-staring–at vibe so, while I didn’t change my path, I didn’t try to make eye contact either. When I got within about 10 ft. away he swung his bike around and took off.

"Whatever," I thought.

Before I go on I want to mention a few things. I am sympathetic to bicyclists. I don’t think that safety on the roads is 50:50 bike /car. I think it’s more like 90% car because drivers are the ones driving the huge hunks of metal. Though I own a car, I walk (or take public transit) most of the time in the city so I know how scary reckless city drivers can be. Though many times bicycle politics can be ableist and self-congratulatory, I think overall they are for the good. Generally I feel solidarity with bicyclists. Hey my brother even has a bike blog.

Having said all that, here’s what happened. At the end of my block there’s a stop sign. A car was in front of the biker with his right blinker on. Driver stops at stop sign. Bicyclist doesn’t stop, passing him on the right. Driver starts forward turning right, sees bicyclist, jams on brakes and hits his horn (not just a toot, but he didn’t lay on it either). Bicyclist freaks out, jumps off his bike and starts yelling at the driver. I can’t hear the driver but the biker has his hands on top of the open window, leaning in, yelling things like, “How dare you honk at me!” “You almost hit me!” and “You’re lucky I’m nice, another bicyclist would have fucked up your car for honking.”

He’s getting louder and louder as I approach. They driver is being appeasing. Palms-up and everything, he’s trying to explain why he honked but the bicyclist keeps yelling at him, cutting him off. I can’t really follow his rant, something about people in cars are just button-pushers, insulated from the world. He shows no sign of slowing down. I think he may be gearing up to slug the driver.

I stand about ten feet away and say, “You have to calm down.” It is, after all, my block and I’m not going to ignore this and walk by. I say it softly and keep my hands at my sides. He ignores me, continuing his rant. But he knows I’m there. I say it again, the same way. He still doesn’t react or look at me but he finishes with a “Be more careful!” gets on his bike and rides away.

The driver pulls over, a little shaken and exploding with all the things he couldn’t say since he was defusing the situation: “I was signaling!” “He drove through a Stop on my right!” “I always yield to bikes!” I told him that the biker was an asshole and went to catch the N Judah.

Downtown, I stupidly thought the march was starting at the 1934 General Strike Memorial so I had to spend awhile finding the march (“Aha! I said to myself, ”traffic isn’t coming on this side of the street so the march must have started on the other side of Market St!”) I caught the last block and am glad I did because I got to see the ILWU Drill Team do synchronized steps and hook moves. As always, some wingnuts were there but at union rallies they are not allowed to speak. The biggest group in the worker co-op contingent were the Lusty Lady folks who kept a continual retort of “Yes, we’re in a union” to the questioning of other demonstrators.

I didn’t stay too long because I had to go drink beer in the sun and play badminton with members of my co-op at our yearly party in Stern Grove. God, my co-workers children sure have grown since last year.

I missed the Immigrant Rights rally because I ended up driving a co-worker home who nailed a pothole on the way down into the Stern Grove valley and wasn’t doing so well. In fact, she’s the “President”* and our Treasurer went down in the softball game. Of our corporate officers, only our Secretary was still standing at the end of the day.

Good thing we’re a co-op.

How was your International Workers Day/Immigrant Rights Day/May Day?

*As a California Corporation we are required to have a “President”. It is a position with no power whatsoever.
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As always, Rainbow Grocery Cooperative is closed for International Workers Day. If you are off tomorrow or are the type who likes to sick-out on May 1, here are fun things to do in San Francisco and Oakland:


The West Coast ILWU is shutting down the ports tomorrow to protest the war. Go ILWU!
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Many of you locals may recall the huge cheese we used to have hanging near the cheese section of our store. We took it down and [livejournal.com profile] dairyierre (who made it) is making a new one. "Where did the old one go," you ask? We donated it to a good cause.

Tonight it will be smashed by the Lifesize Mousetrap at the Haunted Barn (702 Earl St.). If you have not seen the Lifesize Mousetrap, tonight would be an excellent night for it. $10 is well worht the price. Plus there's bands and stuff too.

I will be there if I can get out of work early enough. ([livejournal.com profile] anarqueso, please text me if it happens before I make it there!) I really don't want to miss it!

Here is the cheese (in happier times) with Vampire Clo, dressed up for Halloween:

cheese and clo

Nick Lowe

Apr. 13th, 2008 05:09 pm
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I like Nick Lowe. I’ve always liked Nick Lowe. If my dear readers don’t know his music, he started out as a power pop/pub rock pioneer ala early Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, and Joe Jackson. As he’s aged he’s gotten more country singer/songwritery. He’s written a ton of songs over the last 30-odd years. Maybe it’s just in San Francisco, but Lowe appears to be playing the biggest venues of his life at nearly 60. Good for him. Seriously.

I really enjoyed seeing him at the Fillmore last night even if I was there under some false assumptions. A co-worker, who usually know about these things, kept saying that this was the 30 year anniversary of Lowe’s best album “Jesus of Cool/Pure Pop for Now People”* and that he was going to play most of those songs. With that in mind I paid the $30.

Mind you, I didn’t expect the Bay City Rollers song. I still think it’s funny but it’s clearly dated. But almost every other song on that album stands the test of time (“Marie Provost”, “So it Goes”, “Heart of the City”, “They Called it Rock” even “Nutted by Reality”). I still listen to that album. “I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass”** is still one of my favorites, much quieter than the lyrics and the time period in which it was written would imply.

Instead Lowe played a set like almost any other musician in the world, promoting his latest album. Even though that album sounds good, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. Clearly though, my co-worker is to blame for the expectations, not Nick Lowe. Lowe was just doing his thing.

At some point during the set, as a full day of work then standing at a venue started to annoy my pretty-well-healed-but-still tender-stress-fractured-foot, I realized I would rather be seeing him perform at a bar. His music isn’t danceable, but it’s fun to watch him, to see how much he means it, to catch the clever word play. Sitting down at a sticky table filled with empty beer bottles would be the perfect place to see Lowe play. Lowe writes a lot of songs worth paying attention to.

That said, there’s one Nick Lowe song that always disappoints me even if it is a crowd favorite: “What’s so Funny about Peace, Love, and Understanding?” When Elvis Costello sang it*** the contrast between Costello’s image (especially at that time. In the late ‘70s Buddy Holly glasses were scary) and the hippie lyrics created an interesting tension. Costello even sang it in a different voice than usual. Did he mean it? Was it sarcastic? Was this what he really thought? And I’m no Steve Earle expert, but I think the same thing applied there. Performing a song that seems to be at odds with one’s persona is thought-provoking.

Nick Lowe performing that song sounds like “I wish it was the ‘60s again”. No tension, just nostalgia for the never-was.

I did hear Lowe play one song off the album (“Heart of the City”) as a second encore I had to rush home before [livejournal.com profile] slantedtruth drank all my wine. The 22 didn’t let me down. Packed with Friday night revelers of every background, the 22 is a place of (sub)cultural sharing. People talked to whoever they were crammed into of music, venues, jail, tattoos, and parties.

And, in a time-honored tradition or oral history, old-timers shared knowledge with SF-newbies by yelling things like “Move to the back!”, “Back Door!”, and “Step down!”

*”Jesus of Cool” was the UK title. His label made him change it for the US release.

** l love the sound of breaking glass
Especially when I'm lonely
l need the noises of destruction
When there's nothing new
Oh nothing new, sound of breaking glass
Safe at last, sound of breaking glass

***Record geek trivia alert: Elvis’s “Armed Forces” was originally called “Emotional Fascism” and “Peace, Love…” replaced a song about English racism and the aftermath of colonialism from the UK version.

**** Confidential to [livejournal.com profile] sdn Robyn Hitchcock opened but I was on the bus from work while he was playing. I did see him do a few encores with Nick Lowe though. I would have said hello from you if I’d gotten close enough but he was on the other end of the stage.
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A co-worker who still works for MRR told me that he had to compile his favorite Bay Area punk records for the big 25 year MRR anniversary issue. When I guessed 5 records that I assumed would be in everyone’s list, and none were on his, I realized once again, that I am old.

Since I had that conversation, I’ve been compiling lists in my head. Even if I no longer work for MRR, it’s kind of a fun exercise. Now I’ve decided to bore you with it. I didn’t pick any band twice. I’m sure I left something very important off.

Full length albums:
1. (tie) Dead Kennedys – “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables”
MDC – “Millions of Dead Cops”
San Francisco punk is political punk. Though notable political bands pre-dated these releases, these albums helped set the agenda for ‘80s American anarcho-punk. And they’re awesome. I would put that MDC album right up there with, ironically enough, the Bad Brains as the best American hardcore album of all time. Listen to it again if it’s sitting over there gathering dust by your turntable.
3. Flipper – “Album”
I understand not understanding Flipper. Really, I do. But they were the first show I ever went to and this album has politics and pathos. Flipper wasn’t just “Sex Bomb” and a logo to carve on your high school desk. Ever look at a flower and hate it? Ever see a couple kiss and get sickened by it? Ever wish the human race didn’t exist… then realize you’re one too.” Awww, Flipper c'mere.... let me give you a hug.
4. Operation Ivy –“Energy”
The only ska punk band that matters.
5. Cringer – “I take my desires for Reality, Because I Believe in the Reality of my Desires”
Oh Lance, we miss you.
6. Trashwomen – “Spend the Night with the Trashwomen”
As a genre that whole garage rock thing wasn’t my favorite, but this album I love. And not just cuz I went to high school with two of ‘em. Hell, I went to high school with the Mayor but didn’t vote for him.
7. Blatz/Filth - “Shit Split”
Fights still break out about which was the better side. Just the other day in fact, [livejournal.com profile] dairryiere and I ganged up on a non-Californian worker who was pro-Filth. I love the Blatz side. “Fuck Shit Up” was the anthem for property destruction and mob violence against the state during the first Gulf War protests in the Bay Area. “Lullabye”: just awesome.

Still there is room to debate. You decide…
[Poll #1156189]

8. Tragic Mulatto – “Judo for the Blind”
Some songs on later records are my favorites of theirs, but I love everything on this release. “I wish I was a cop on a Japanese Bike” still becomes an earworm every time I see an SFPD motorcycle cop.
9. Social Unrest – “Rat in a Maze”
Blistering political hardcore with a guitar that sounds like a broken electric razor. Scary on record, sweet in person.
10. Jawbreaker – “Unfun”
I don’t know. Maybe you had to be there. I can’t really justify this one I just know I love it.

Honorable Mention: Crucifix – “Dehumanization”, Code of Honor/Sick Pleasure Split, Afflicted – “Good News About Mental Health”, Whipping Boy – “Sound of No Hands Clapping”, Green Day – “American Idiot”, X-Tal – “6/7 of Treason is Reason”, Frightwig –“Faster Frightwig, Kill Kill”, Crimpshrine – “Duct Tape Soup”

7” and 12” EPs
1. Avengers – “American in Me” EP
Until I found this for $2 at a record store in Upstate NY, I didn’t understand the popularity of this band, not having been old enough to see them live and only hearing the terribly mixed posthumous release of their songs. This recording was direct, clean, fast, and political. If you ever find this, get it.
2. Mutants – “New Drug/Insect Lounge/New Dark Ages”
The craziness and fun of seeing weight art punks crammed onto a “stage” has been written in this space previously. This record has three of my favorite songs on it.
3. V/A -The Mission District Comp
Bedlam Rovers, J Church, Jawbreaker, Steel Pole Bathtub, Strawman, and Timco at the height of everyone’s musical abilities. So time and place… Who knew that the rents would go so crazy and our homes were already in such peril. This record is awesome. This record makes me sad.
4. The Dils – “198 seconds of the Dils”
Not only do I not own this record, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this record. The songs “Class War”/ “Mr Big” were released later on comps. If anyone has this lying around their house, let me know.
5. B-Team – “Buy American”
Obscure Gang of Four-like (but snottier) political post-punk band. I wish they had stuck around.
6. V/A –SF Underground
The cover is a picture of the Deaf Club which I lived next door to in the last year of its life. Songs by No Alternative, Flipper, The Tools and VKTMS.
7. Sta Prest – “Let’s Be Friendly with our Friends”
If they could have made a whole album like this, they would be a (punk) household name
8. Spitboy –s/t 7”
This band could be truly annoying live, but this 7” is loud and vicious.
9. Tribe 8 – “Pig Bitch”
Queer punk would never go away after this 7” came out. I just put it on for the first time in years. It’s even better than I remember.
10. v/a – “Turn it Around”
Hmmm, this has more songs than most of the 12” records. This is the compilation that made a highway exit famous. OPIV, Crimpshrine, Yeastie Girlz, etc. There are some awful songs on here to be sure. But the good ones… made the East Bay a punk destination. For good or ill.

Honorable Mention: Residents – “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s, Man’s, Man’s, Man’s, World”, Offs – “624803/Johnny Too Bad”, Negative Trend – “We Don’t Play We Riot”, Angst s/t, Cinamon Imperials – “I Hope No One Finds Out”, The Donnas – “Let’s Go Mano”, The Mondellos “Let’s Join the White Night Riot”, Pop O Pies – “Truckin”, Inflatable Boy Clams – s/t, The Cooperative – “Most Dangerous Band in the World”*

I’m sure only like five of you care about this. After all, my market research shows that my music posts are least favored by my readers. But if you do care, please share your additions and critiques.

Or post your hometowns best albums, whatever genre you like.

*BTW, I have a bunch of these in a box under my bed. Send me $3 and your address and you can have one.**
**BTW, I was lying when I said this was worthy of mention as one of the Bay Area’s best punk records, just so you know.
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I never really understood Lance's songwriting until I listened to radio in Hawai'i. Island reggae, Hawai'ian pop, and other Hawai'ian songs have a sense of history. There are lots of elements that, out-of-context, I might find sappy or overly nostalgic. But they not only work with those songs, they are crucial elements to the genre.

Lance's songs, especially the Cringer and early J Church ones, had that same element. I'm nostalgic and sappy by nature, mind you, so they always appealed to me. But there was no real punk genre for it. His bands mirrored his personality more than most songwriters I know. Both Cringer and J Church were intellectual but friendly, political but approachable, fun but taking themselves seriously. Unlike many of the bands Lance (and I) admired, his lyrics were never preachy. He always sang as one of us, not to us.

"Sometimes I wanna go back
Sometimes to the beginning
Sometimes I wouldn't change a thing.
Sometimes the things I've done, It seems like martyrdom
Sometimes it doesn't mean a thing
Don't wanna,
Won't be sad
Like the sailors
Of Petrograd

Lance was a sweetheart. Everyone who's written about his death so far has called him "one of the good ones". He could get away with writing lyrics like those, which could easily be read as pretentious on paper, because his personality came through in his singing. He wasn't comparing himself to the theory of the Great Revolutionary, he was connecting through history to the emotions of the people he admired and wanted to relate to. Ones who died anonymously in service to their beliefs but who were just ordinary working folks doing what they felt was right..

He'd also just probably read an Alexander Berkman book and wanted to write a song about it. He was always reading.

Lance was an auto-didact, a student of history, especially anarchist history. I mean geez, he even put Leon Czolgosz, unlabeled, on a J Church shirt. He was also sweet, kind, thoughtful, and quietly funny. He knew how to make people feel good but more than that, he cared about making people feel good. He carried a million details in his brain, surprising you with something you said offhand at some show or some party months before. He was a special, special man.

Lance lived above me on Valencia St, half a block from Epicenter Zone. Lance's apartment was referred to as jokingly "The Crash Pad" after an SF Weekly reporter dubbed it that in an article.* Our apartment was already name "House of Failure" because our phone number was 552-FAIL. Oh, those early '90s…

Here's Lance on our back stairs watching some illegal punk show we put on in our backyard when the 1st floor tenants went out of business. 1993
failure stairs071

It seems symbolic that many of his songs remind me of our shared neighborhood. Early J Church is so time and place for me: all songs about the Mission in the early '90s., While traveling out of the Bay Area for an extended period, and leaving from my apartment on Mission St , "November" made me cry while riding a train through Eastern Europe. I had made a Mission District bands cassette and as soon as he mentioned rain on Mission St, I started bawling.

"As the rain falls hard, it fills the cracks on Mission St…"
"No matter who you are, you feel the same when you're wet, cold and alone…"
"We only dream to float downstream, reminded by the rain,
Tied to a tree, cannot break free, reminded by the rain"

It's a sad song about rain making people feel alone, but it does the typical Lance thing. He empathizes with strangers and tries to find a human truth. This un-self-conscious sappiness is a unifying force in Lance's songs. Even the punks have to admit their fuzzy feelings sometimes. It kept his lyrics, no matter how political, from being as dogmatic and alienating as a lot of the other anarcho-punks.

I think my favorite thing about Lance was just running into him in the street. I can think of hours spent on Market/14th, at 16th/Valencia, in front of Lost Weekend, just gossiping, talking about bands, demonstrations and friends. He made this city a better place by just being around, having time to hang out. He also rarely missed a demonstration. He had good priorities even if rather than being in front with a bullhorn he's be bringing up the rear, poking fun at the sectarians and trying-too-hard anarchist kids. I think he'd appreciate that my favorite picture of him was from the San Francisco Rodney King riots. Hip-hoppers and punks were unified in their desire to liberate electronics to facilitate their communication with a hostile world. Somewhere, maybe his room, I saw a picture of Lance coming out of an electronics store with his hands full and his eyes blacked out, like any punk wouldn't recognize his long hair, his slouch and his band t-shirt. Or maybe I just made up that picture in my head.

Lance still seems like a San Francisco icon 7 years after moving to Texas.

My oddest Lance moment was probably seeing him play guitar for Beck at Slim's. It was near the height of Beck's post-"Loser" glory. If I remember correctly, he knew Beck from playing at some German squat show together back in the day, but I could have jumbled up that memory. Anyways, he put me on the guest list, possibly because no one else we knew wanted to see Beck cuz he was like, all popular and stuff. It was so odd seeing Lance play and not be the central feature of the band. The first thing it made me realize that Lance could actually really play guitar. The second was that in another scene Lance's non-traditional singing voice might have forced him into a lesser role if he wanted to be in a band. What a loss that would have been.

The third thing was seeing him walk across the club without kids coming up to talk to him. He was probably the most approachable band guy I've ever met, constantly talking to kids who came to SF hoping to see him working his shift at Epicenter or at some of the bars, taquerias, and cafes he mentioning in his songs, if not his shows. Occasionally he'd have to hide from a creepy one, but that was rare. Usually he'd hang out, talk about their hometown (which he probably had played), and generally treat them as a new friend. There were times he really represented all that the punk scene should have been.

I hadn't seen Lance in awhile when I got the word he went into a coma.. My heart goes out to his partner and his friends there. To many of us in San Francisco, or maybe just to me, his bad health was a little hard to fathom. My memory of Lance is full of mellow energy, happy to see you, happy to chat, always looking for new bands and new fun. I imagine that the last couple of years, being on dialysis, not being able to go to every show, was incredibly hard for him. But I always thought I'd just run into him in the Mission or at a show one day. That he would have beaten his bad organs, that he'd be the same old Lance.

Old Epicenter workers crashing the Epicenter closing party 1999. I believe this was right after Lance's first brush with hospitalization. (Thanks Jeff Heermann!)
goodbye epicenter

In one of his best known songs, Lance wrote:
So where's my sense of humor?
My life is a disaster,
No one has a future,
So let's all get there faster

But it was a cautionary tale. He wasn't a No Future Drunk Punk.. He was writing about going to the local bar and looking at what he might become if he let himself. He didn't want to get ground down like other working class people around him there: unhappy, overworked, underpaid. The narrator in the song reacts to those thoughts by deciding to blow off work the next day and take time doing something important for himself.

Lance organized his life to be a writer and artist. He recorded what… 300 songs? His bands put out albums faster than the Minutemen in their prime. He wrote for MRR and was trying to document the obscure bands of the '80s Peace Punk scene. Bands that meant a lot to people like us even if almost no one has ever heard of them. He was one of the people who make all these alternative scenes and obscure political movements possible. People in every city with a punk scene, or that once had a punk scene, are mourning him

He worked his whole life for it, never getting famous or rich, but doing it anyway. It's something a lot of people promised when they were 18 but few actually did. He meant it, ya know? All of it.

Bye Lance. You are missed already.

* So funny I had to link. Filling a booth near the Photo Area, Edgar, Wells, and Hahn share a laugh over the crash pad half a block from Epicenter This was also the apartment referred to as "My home, my tomb" in "My Favorite Place".

** If anyone's interested, my favorite Lance albums are Cringer "I Take My Desires for Reality… Because I Believe in the Reality of My Desires." And the J Church early singles collection " Camels, Spilled Corona and the Sound of Mariachi Bands". The "Nostalgic for Nothing" comp is pretty good too. If you want to find one song to download, I'd say "My Favorite Place", "Nostalgic for Nothing" or "Bomb" (J Church) or "Petrograd" "Despair Ends" or "(If I had your) Pen" (Cringer)

*** Other Lance stories from at the same time, Commander cranky, and at a blog set up for Lance stories here. Someone also set up a Flickr Photo pool (which I also LJ syndicated)


Aug. 18th, 2007 08:18 am
gordonzola: (Default)
Hey Bay Area folks, I'm going to get a new tattoo. My old tattoo artist has retired so I'm looking for a new one.

If you've got tattoos, who is your favorite local artist and why?
gordonzola: (Default)
Ok, I know it's early. Other candidates may emerge. But clearly Chicken John* is the only choice for Mayor so far.

Gavin Newsom (Class of '85 ROCKS!) became unbeatable forever in San Francisco the day that he declared gay marriage legal (and according to Democratic apologists, lost the election for Kerry).** No one wants to run against him. Even chief rival and anti-cocaine crusader Chris Daly managed to get his wife pregnant with perfect timing to bow out of the race. Sure, ex-Supervisor Tony Hall is running and he'll get the conservative 20% of the vote, but the anti-Newsom forces were so desperate they were actually talking about ex-Mayor Art Agnos as a possibility. I know there's not a long memory here because of all the short-timers, but he was so unpopular he lost to Frank Jordan. 'nuff said. Might as well throw Ed Jew up there, he'll be out of office by then surely.***

And where is Angela "Heart of San Francisco" Alioto anyways?

Sure, I'm probably down with Josh Wolf's politics more than Chicken John's. But since neither will beat Newsom, we might as well vote for one who will wage the fun campaign. Wolf will wear a webcam while conducting all city business? I can't wait to see the Mayoral bathroom! (Hey Josh, if you track back links, and I'm betting you do, it's Dolores Park, not "Delores Park".)

I thank Chicken John for trying to liven up what could be the most boring SF Mayoral race in my lifetime.

*He has to use his real name thanks to "serious" San Francisco politicians who were horrified at "Sister Mary Boom-Boom and Jello Biafra waging avant-garde populist campaigns in the '70s. Especially when Biafra finished fourth. Jello rightly pointed out at the time that the conservative candidate (who if memory serves finished 2nd to Feinstein) had the absurd (given at birth) name of Quentin Kopp. Vote John Rinaldi!

**I mean sheesh, the guy has an affair with his close friend and campaign organizer's wife, the wife then loses her job in city government, and Newsom admits to an alchohol problem and he's still unbeatable!

***Did you see that headline in whatever free-paper-that-no-one-really-reads? "Supervisor Plays the Race Card". They just couldn't bring themselves to write "Jew Plays the Race Card" could they?
gordonzola: (Default)
This post could out me as kind of a jaded jerk. It's just that, I don't know how to feel about the giant pink triangle erected every year on Twin Peaks for Pride.

pink triangle

twin peaks pink triangle

Please tell me how I should feel:

[Poll #1011747]
gordonzola: (Default)
The High Holy Days of Queer are exhausting. I've only done about 1/3 of what I'd planned to do and I still feel like I had plans for every moment I wasn't working.

Yesterday I was in a foul mood. I had some insomnia the night before and didn't get to sleep until about 2 AM. That wouldn't have been so bad if I didn't have to get up at 6 AM to receive cheese. Even worse it was a total clusterfuck of a work day, one co-worker calling in sick, another going home sick, a double order from one company because they are closed next week to move warehouses, an order which somehow didn't get placed by the company (luckily the person I gave it to on Wednesday answered the phone, knew he had taken it and delivered it in his car within an hour), and a huge promotional special order of Dutch sheep gouda.

Let's see:

Order #1 -- 50 lbs.
Order #2 -- 250lbs.
Order #3 – 50 lbs.
Order #4 – 300 lbs.
Order #5 -- 700 lbs.
Order #6 – 900 lbs.

= exactly 1 shitload of cheese.*

Plus the driver for #6 pisses me off because he just won't come to our loading dock and pull it off on a pallet, he insists on delivering from the street with handtrucks. Not only is a pallet easier for me to deal with for that quantity of cheese, but I told him he's going to mess up his knees jumping up and down from the truck onto the concrete. He said, "Don't worry, I already had knee surgery." Sigh. Working Class, sometimes you are your own worst enemy.

Anyways, I was tired and cranky and that was before I lifted the box with the broken container of fresh mozzarella over my head, giving myself a milky, brine shower. I had to rush home, shower and change before going out to meet [livejournal.com profile] cindymonkey for the "Gay Noir" shorts at the Castro. I could tell I was stressed and annoyed because walking up Market I kept seeing people and thinking things like, "Yeah, you're all soft-butch and queer and shit, and this is June, but dressing like a preppy fuck still makes you an asshole." I tried to silently meditate while I walked but obviously it wasn't working.

I arrived right before the movie started and you know what? Unbelievably they were all watchable, some were even good! Almost unprecedented in the history of short film exhibitions! My faith in humanity was beginning to be restored.

What really restored it, however, was going to Harvey's afterwards and getting free drink tickets from the Frameline hook-up. I don't think it's a good solution if done often, but pounding a couple of cocktails ("Pink Man-Bears(?), some pink vodka drink that came with gummi bears) was just what I needed. We soon headed to the Trans March which was not yet a march, but a sit-in-Dolores-Park-drink-beer-out-of-bags-and-say-hi-to-friends gathering. Oh man, just what I needed. Booze and friends…

I was supposed to go see a screening of the classic film "Born in Flames" at 10:30 but realized I just wasn't going to make it. I handed off my pass to a co-worker in the park so they could take their new "friend". Good deeds are nice for the soul. Still, I'd like to see it again. We should have a little movie party soon.**

I walked with Cindy to the Queer Open Mic where the amazing Ryka Aoki de la Cruz was featuring. There was food there and more people to greet. Eventually we went to Zeitgeist which was not very homo but has beer available for purchase.

So many people and so much to do. When I got off work I was so cranky that I probably would have stayed home and sulked if I hadn't had such concrete plans, but afterwards I felt revitalized. I can only imagine how much fun it would be if I was really queer.

*for the record (and for the cheese professionals reading) while it's the biggest single delivery day of the week, we get some deliveries every day and this is certainly only a percentage of our weekly cheese orders.

** I can't namecheck everyone but it was really nice to run into [livejournal.com profile] amarama and find that we had the same favorite moments in the film. "Isn't it great when the middle class socialist women finally come over to the revolution? Hahaha."

*** by the way, I loved that only one person commented on my last entry. That'll teach me to be arty. Or melancholy. Or something.


May. 3rd, 2007 10:50 pm
gordonzola: (Default)
I just watched the Warriors destroy the Mavericks in a sports bar filled with cops (specifically, the SFPD Anti-Gang Task Force) in the biggest NBA play-off upset ever AND IT WAS AWESOME!

Though I don't know if I could have survived if [livejournal.com profile] messtiza and Joe Bunny weren't there. [livejournal.com profile] ctrhotpink called to scream into my voicemail so it was just like she was there too. Whoo-hoo!
gordonzola: (Default)
Here's my letter draft. see the link below for details. Please send your own.

President Dwight Alexander
San Francisco Planning Department
1660 Mission St. 5th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

Mr. Alexander,

I am writing because I am concerned about the possible closure of The Hole in the Wall and The Eagle. I am a 18 year resident of San Francisco and a lifelong resident of the Bay Area. Because of this I feel I have some right to say that without these bars, San Francisco would be a less vibrant and friendly city.

Others can, and I'm sure will, give a much better history of SOMA than I. But both these bars continue that neighborhood's tradition of providing entertainment and a gathering place that people cannot find elsewhere. Because of the increase in the cost of living in SF, SOMA now has become a place where some people seem to be want to increase their property values at the expense of the community at large. We can't let this happen. The bars and entertainment were there first and every city needs areas for residents to socialize.

I am a worker-owner at Rainbow Grocery Cooperative, located a block and a half from The Eagle. It is hard to image a more community-friendly bar. The outside is always clean and swept, even in the early morning., unlike other bars in the Haight and Mission that I pass by on my way to work. But the inside is what is truly important. The Eagle holds community benefits every week. How many bars in this city hold even one or two benefits a year?

Lastly, of personal importance to me, when a friend of mine was gay-bashed nearby, it was folks at The Eagle, not pedestrians or people at other bars, who held the attacker so that he could be arrested by police and charged with a hate crime. The city should be proud of the clientele of The Eagle , not discuss its closure. How many gay bashings go unsolved because no one will intervene?

Both of these bars are community resources that San Francisco cannot do without. Thank you for your time.


Passing this letter on from the owners of the popular gay gathering places Eagle Tavern and Hole in the Wall. These two places have been a community institution for over two decades, and I hate to see something like this happen to them because of someone who cannot accept the culture of their own neighborhood.

thanks [livejournal.com profile] defenestr8r for the heads up.
gordonzola: (Default)
I pretty much make 2-5 sports-based posts a year. Today is one of those unlucky days for most of you. Baseball season starts tommorrow* and I've thought way too much about something and come to a decision.

I can't wait until Barry Bonds hits 756 and breaks the homerun record. Why? Don't the steroid allegations bother me? Won't it tarnish baseball?

I actually have answers for all those questions. But really, it comes down to this: I don't buy the baseball as metaphor crap. In this free-agency era, where it's hard to feel loyalty to the local team, Bonds, and thus the Giants, will inspire hate by their very presence. This will only increase as Bonds closes in on the record. There will be death threats and hand-wringing. Bottles thrown from the stands and racial slurs. People chanting "ster-oids" and Congress being urged to "do something". All the haters have left me no choice.

Go Giants! Go Bonds!

I just hope 755 and 756 are at home against the Dodgers.

* Some might say different. But as far as I'm concerned, the season doesn't begin until the Giants play. Then again, the Dodgers already lost so that might count.
**like most of you never used illegal drugs! ha!
gordonzola: (Default)
I've never been to Burning Man. I am not a "supporter" in any real sense. I have no plans to ever go for a variety of reasons. But man, people love to hate on the big BM beyond the level it merits. BM fights break out on my friendslist with some regularity.

Sure there are aspects of Spring Break for rich yuppies there. There is privilege on display (as if one couldn't find privilege on display in every city in the country every day). Yes, in some soulless perfect world people would never vacation, but spend all their free time doing Good Works for the poor/organizing for revolution. The contrast that Burning Man happened during Hurricane Katrina one year made it a good target for rage and despair that needed to find a home.

I know this can easily be seen as insignificant to those of you who didn't grow up with the beach as part of your culture, (and certainly as compared with the tragedy of New Orleans which is a false comparison anyway )but some BM folks played a crucial role in not letting fires be banned at Ocean Beach. There's some history and self-interest there to be sure: Ocean Beach is where the first BMs were held, it ensures beach parties in the future, not something like access to free health care. But losing fires at the beach would be another nail in San Francisco's coffin. Helping them continue is tangible community support. The beach is free and the beach is for everyone.

As it is, I think the compromise is sad, limiting fires to only 12 spots. But, like at Cronkite Beach the other option seems to be a complete banning. So I just want to say thanks to the Surfrider Foundation and Burners Without Borders. They came through for the entire city.


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