The back story of the celebrated Boys' Night Out at John's Grill

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By Bruce B. Brugmann (Scroll down for photo id and to see Ex- Marine Pete McCloskey jump the barricade and storm Martin's Beach) 

Boys' Night Out, a creation of press agent Lee Houskeeper, was held recently at John's Grill, home of Dashiell Hammett and the Maltese Falcon.   Houskeeper turned the falcon on its side, which meant that all of the news and gossip turned up by his newsworthy guests was privileged and could not be repeated to the outside world.

Nonetheless, the timing was perfect because the next day came the welcome news that a San Mateo Superior Court judge had ruled for the public and against a  billionaire coastal landowner to open up a valuable chunk of privately held San Mateo coastline. The Surfrider case was handled by  Attorneys Joe Cotchett and Pete McCloskey, both of whom were at the dinner.

Houskeeper, who does publicity work for Cotchett,  explained the back story to me after the dinner. He said that the Surfrider forces started "the public brouhaha" two years ago when the "Blackwater type security goons were arresting surfers who dared jump his locked Martin's Beach gate fence."  Vinod Khosla, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, had acquired the 53-acre parcel near Half Moon Bay in 2008. Houskeeper asked McCloskey, a Korean War veteran,  if he would risk arrest, jump the gate, and lead the surfers a half mile to "free" the beach. Read more »

The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle on his first novel, unreliable narrators, and the joys of getting real mail

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John Darnielle’s brain seems like it runs at just a slightly higher RPM than other people’s.

One could get this impression from listening to the tightly crafted mini-universe he creates inside each track on a Mountain Goats record — take your pick, he’s penned some 14 full-length studio LPs inside the last 18 years, not counting a slew of singles and B-sides and other assorted treats — or from his Twitter feed, which zooms from his enthusiasm for black metal to witty commentary about televised wrestling to on-point, eloquent opining about Ferguson, vegetarianism, or abortion rights. Read more »

Moderate politicians push "affordable housing" definition up to higher income brackets

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San Francisco, its General Plan Housing Element, and various city codes have always had a very specific definition of what they mean by “affordable housing”: homes that are affordable to those making 120 percent of area median income (AMI) and below, the kind that generally require public subsidies to build from scratch in San Francisco. That group is defined annually by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development using the latest data, and this year in San Francisco, it is defined as individuals making $81,550 or less year, or households of four people making $116,500 or less, according the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development. Read more »

Arca underwhelms at Gray Area

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By Ryland Walker Knight

Gray Area Arts & Technology is a newish venue, admittedly a work in progress, with construction and renovation continuing when the doors are closed, but they are already booking unique electronica acts. My first visit was, as it happens, the first time Tim Hecker played a show in San Francisco (late July; great waves of processed sounds), and my second, Tuesday night (Sept. 23), was one of the five stops on Arca’s current DJ tour along the West Coast.

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Where are all the vanilla sexuality events?

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I moved to the Bay Area this year with the intention of diving head first into kinky chaos. As far as repressed small town chicks go, I guess you could say I’m a daredevil. When I expressed my desire for sexploration to the locals, they had helpful suggestions ranging from fucking a sybian to getting hung from ceilings with rope.Read more »

TIFF 2014: Three more notables, plus a lucky top 13

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Jesse Hawthorne Ficks reports from the recent 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Previous installment here!

Three films at this year's Toronto Film Film Festival achieved a consistently exhilarating cinematic aesthetic. 

The first was instant horror classic Goodnight Mommy (Austria), which had critics tripping over each other as they ran out of the theatre. I overheard one woman hailing the psychological terror film as the best movie she had seen at TIFF in five years.

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Sound sneak preview: Ai WeiWei Alcatraz exhibition

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Here’s a taste from @Large, the exhibition by internationally renowned Chinese artist Ai WeiWei, which will open to the public on Alcatraz Sat/27.

This recording is from Illumination, one of the sound installations, which makes use of the prison hospital – an Alcatraz site not normally open to daytime visitors. Read more »

New protections for abortion seekers proposed, but may face rival efforts

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After a years-long saga of trying to regulate the loudest and rudest protesters outside clinics that offer abortions, a new law may finally protect patients and employees of Planned Parenthood in San Francisco from harassment. Sup. David Campos introduced a resolution yesterday [Tues/23] that would refine his previous legislation creating a buffer zone outside reproductive healthcare centers, the latest in legal maneuverings to protect free speech while sparing medical care-seekers from harm.Read more »

Anti-war groups take to the streets of SF to protest US bombing campaign UPDATED

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With the US military now bombing targets in both Syria and Iraq, and the Islamic State that we’re targeting threatening to retaliate against US citizens, the Bay Area’s anti-war movement is taking the streets today [Wed/24] and in the coming days (although the SF Chronicle apparently di Read more »

Tough decisions ahead: The Bay Area Record Fair, the Oakland Music Festival, and more

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Ever get so overwhelmed by all the awesome events in the Bay Area on a given weekend that you give up on trying to decide between any of them and find yourself just hanging with whomever you can get to come to your house to drink with you and your cats? Or, if you're feeling really adventurous, venturing 50 yards down the street to watch baseball at the closest bar with a TV?Read more »