Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Event Review: An Intimate Evening with Dame Edna

Sometimes being a blogger does have benefits, as was demonstrated last week when Kitty and I got free seats (and good ones too, right down in front) for a performance of Dame Edna's "Live and Intimate First Last Tour" at the Post Street Theater. At first I almost passed on the offer, since drag comediennes aren't really my thing, but then I figured, hey, it's free, and once Kitty signed on to accompany me, I actually looked forward to it.

Dame Edna's schtick is that she's really a horrible person, but one who knows how to be horrible in that polite, British way. So, she can affectionately refer to the audience members as "possums" at the same time that she can say "oh, what's the word I'd use to describe that dress? I know, home made!" She was like the genteel version of drag queen Charlie Brown, who used to headline the cabaret at Backstreets in Atlanta and would come onstage with the call "I smell straaaaaaaaaight pussy," then proceed to "read" everyone in the audience. Her humor is largely built on the tension of her mannered meanness, and when the evening is "intimate" and she's directly interacting with the audience, there's a kind of dread that accompanies everything. Having read a review of the show in the Chronicle I had an idea of what to expect (and which ruined a few of the jokes for me, so I won't give away any spoilers here) and really, really hoped that other people would fill in the seats next to me so as to help protect me from the roving eye of the Dame.

Kitty and I had a great time, though we left at the intermission - two hours, plus intermission, was a bit more of Dame Edna than either of us could take, and since the seats were free, it wasn't like we were losing anything. The thing I noticed, though, was that we were among the youngest people at the show - given that prices for seats ran $58, $68, and $100 a piece I think I understand why. If you are a fan of Dame Edna I'm sure that this is a reasonable price to see such a glamorous star, but it seemed a bit steep to me. Still, if you're looking for something special to do over the holidays, Dame Edna is sure to be an experience you'll never forget.

MTA to Regulate Taxi Industry

I've long complained about the sorry state of the taxi system here in San Francisco, having spent several Friday and Saturday nights having to walk to or from my destination because there were no cabs. According to this article in the examiner, the Board of Supervisors has voted to put the taxi industry under the supervision of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, and I say it's about damned time. While the MTA doesn't have the best track record in general, it's at least a recognition that taxis are part of the public transportation infrastructure, and need to be regulated as such.

My main hope is that they will finally bring some quantitative data to the decision-making process for putting more cabs on the street. Medallion holders have long resisted this because medallions have become a commodity resource that they control, and can profit from, but they have always held that more cabs mean less money for working cabbies. However, no one really knows what the size of the market is for taxi services, and we've relied for far too long on anecdotal information from people who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. My guess is that a study of the market would show that it's much, much larger than previously described, and more cabs won't mean fewer fares for those driving them.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mix Download: Alland Byallo on Process

It's been a while since I gave a shout out to the excellent Modyifier blog from local designer and techno aficionado Rayna Di Nord. More than just another music blogger, Rayna is interested in the creative process that people bring to producing music and DJing, and each Process mix is also a reflection by the artist on that process. Through personal solicitation and referrals from other artists Rayna has amassed 107 mixes from locals like yours truly, Lord Kook (as Glowfish), C.L.A.W.S,, and Mochipet, as well as international names like popnoname, Scratch Massive, Pharrel, and more. There's hours of music here, and lots to read and think about. A highly recommended way to spend some time at work.

The most recent Process mix: Alland Byallo of Kontrol.

Event Review: Daniel Bell Underground at The Compound

Friday night the boyfriend and I fired up the Element and went adventuring into the wastelands of Bayview in search of a dirt road with a gate at the end, and beyond that gate, the promise of a very groovy night with legend Daniel Bell providing an eight-hour soundtrack. What we eventually found was not only a great night of truly deep techno with a Detroit master, but one of those legendary underground spaces that are fast disappearing from the San Francisco scene.

The party, produced by Kontrol, was at The Compound, a space perhaps best known among techno scenesters for its 16-speaker surround system. When you read that you probably think, “oh, yeah, big deal, sounds like a gimmick,” but once you’ve heard what music sounds like on that system, it makes you realize just how shitty every other club in this city is. It’s a small space that felt crowded with a hundred black-clad techno kids bobbing around in it, but as it filled up, the sound never seemed to get louder, even though every element, from the lowest bass to the highest treble, sounded absolutely clear and distinct. After going to clubs like Mighty, where the sonic philosophy is founded on pure brute force that leaves you feeling dazed and deafened, it was a relief to hear techno on a system that was designed for sonic subtlety and nuance. Bell was set up in the middle of the geodesic dome-like space, and one thing that I noticed almost immediately was that he didn’t have any monitors. Looking up we saw two monitors that were flown from the ceiling, and that’s all he needed, even with a crowd around him. The sound was so perfectly tailored to the space, it didn’t matter where you stood, and I had a hallucinatory moment when I thought that the music and the space were simultaneously giving shape to each other.

The same care and subtlety that went into the sound design of The Compound could also be found in Bell’s set. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a party where the DJ had enough time in their set to develop a true progression of mood. When we first arrived around 11 there weren’t that many other people in the space, and Bell was playing some fairly easy-going deep techno that was flavored with a little house, just the thing to help you unwind a bit. By the time we left around 2.30 he was eliciting whoops, but it wasn’t like he’d switched over to bangers; instead he had lifted the energy of the room subtlely, still playing minimal and deep sounds, and still making smooth mixes with little in the way of knob-twisting theatrics. It was one of the most mature, confident sets of techno I’ve heard in a long time, where the most minimal DJ intervention could have maximal effect.

Of course, one of the best things about underground parties is the crowd; it takes real connection to the scene, and often some degree of effort, to find yourself at one of these events, so there’s a pretty strong process of selection at work before anybody even shows up. The only folks the boyfriend and I knew were Monica and Tom Kat, but that didn’t stop us from having conversations with the guy who helped us park (who thought the boyfriend looked like “a wise guy” in his black hat, black sport coat, and white hoodie), one of the sound guys, and even two guys who disagreed with us over whether or not playing a snippet of the Booka Shade remix of Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman” was trite (we didn’t think it was). It was kind of a strange moment, which, literally disagreeable as it was, still meant we were among people who took the music, the DJing, and the whole vibe seriously. Given that most of my party experience in the recent past has been more about the scene than the music, it was nice to be among fellow heads for a while. It was, in fact, enough to make me wish I’d had the stamina, or at least the stimulants, to get me through the entirety of the night.

The Compound’s days are numbered; it’s in Added Area B, Parcel 1 of the Bayview Re-development plan that was passed back in June, so its likely fate is at the hands of a bulldozer driver. Losing that space will be yet another significant set-back in the development of our nascent techno scene, so let’s enjoy it, and the ideas and connections it fosters, while we can.

Drag Queen Collapses at Charlie Horse

SFist reports that drag performer Anna Warhola collapsed on the stage at Charlie Horse this past Friday at the end of the performance, was taken to the hospital, and is now in a coma. Wow. Comments seem to indicate that, at first, no one realized that it wasn't part of the routine, and then the paramedics showed up and did intensive CPR, having to revive her several times. Cause of collapse is unknown, but SFist reports that the diagnosis was "cardiac and respiratory arrest." If anyone knows how to contact Anna/Paul Brinegar's family they should get in touch with Anna Conda (charliehorsecinch[at] or The Cinch (415-776-4162).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Download: Interview with Dustin Lance Black, Screenwriter of "Milk," on Fresh Air

Dustin Lance Black, screenwriter and executive producer of "Milk," photo by Kevin Winter

An interesting interview with Dustin Lance Black, screenwriter and executive producer of "Milk," on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. I know that Harvey Milk and his story have recently served as an inspiration and a departure point for local San Francisco queer culture, particularly Leo Herrera of HomoChic, but I'm curious what effect the nationwide release of this film will have on our culture at large (I'm sure that's what Gus Van Sant had in mind in the first place). It seems that everyone is looking at the current financial melt-down, and the election of Barack Obama, as an opportunity for their own version of "the New Deal" to blossom, and I wonder what role the controversy over Prop 8, the screening of "Milk" across the country, and the the struggle within the Republican party to define itself, will play in shaping queer culture, identity, and rights over the course of the next administration.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Upcoming Event: Roam Music Underground with Mathew Jonson, Saturday November 22

Roam Music presents the second installment in their underground series, Jade, featuring Vancouver's Mathew Jonson (Sub Static, Minus, Perlon, Kompakt, Itiswhatitis, Arbutus) live, with support from John Wander, Nikola Baytala, Droog, and Lee Foss on the Funktion-One sound system.

10PM - "after hours"
Location and ticket info at

Monday, November 17, 2008

Streetlight Records in Noe Valley and Open Mind in the Castro Shutting Their Doors

Walking past Open Mind Music on Market Street recently I noticed a "shop closing" notice in the window, and now, courtesy of the All Shook Down blog on SFWeekly, comes notice that Streetlight Records is closing its flagship store in Noe Valley.

I've been chronicling the demise of record shops in San Francisco ever since I started this blog, and it seems that the trend will only continue. Having shopped in both Streetlight and Open Mind, I get the sense that what did them in was having a breadth of stock that required a large space, but that didn't, in the end, generate enough throughput to keep up the rent. I think that, for record stores to survive, they're going to have become small, niche-focused businesses that don't keep a lot of outdated stock on hand (there were several dozen square feet of Open Mind dedicated to old dance vinyl that, even at 99 cents each, nobody would really find that interesting). There will always be audiophiles who want their favorite Pink Floyd albums on high-quality vinyl, but fewer and fewer people are going to want to pick up The Wall on vinyl that's over twenty years old when you can get the same album on CD for pretty cheap (or just download it from eMule). I think that we have also entered into an era in which consumers are less interested in albums and are more likely to just buy individual tracks that they like; buying a whole album of stuff when you only really want one or two tracks seems to make about as much sense to a modern consumer as buying 8-track tapes that you can't rewind.

Upcoming Event: Motherbird Monthly at Temple, November 19 2008

Claude von Stroke and Christian Martin are teaming up to present Motherbird, a new monthly combining the talents of the Mothership and Dirtybird labels, at Temple's catacombs. It's on the 3rd Wednesday of the month, with the next one coming up this Wednesday, which means it's going to be a scene of dedicated tech heads, but it's yet another techno night we should all be happy to see. Full details on the SFScene Events calendar.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Live Mixes from Javaight

DJ Javaight, one of the impressarios behind Staple and the Killswitch happy hour, just released two new live mixes, one from the aforementioned Killswitch, and another from a set at The EnUp. In his words
Although there are a few similar tracks in both mixes, the Killswitch mix is a bit dark, trippy and groovin, while the Endup mix is definitely more "peak hour" and jackin.
"Jackin'" indeed. Check 'em out for yourself:

1. Javaight Live @ Killswitch
2. Javaight Live @ The Endup

2008 Deep End Burning Man Sets Now Available Online

For all those who were there, and those who weren't but wish they could have been, all the Deep End sets from Burning Man 2008 are now online:

(well, not all, I notice that Worthy's set, which carried me through Friday morning from a looooong Thursday into Friday, isn't up, unfortunately).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Event Review: Honey Soundsystem Presents Hard Energy at Paradise Lounge

Honey Soundsystem has taken on the rather considerable challenge of presenting a new weekly, on a Sunday, in a new space, but from what I saw this past Sunday, they're as able to meet the challenge as anyone.

The boyfriend and I showed up with our friend Toka just as they opened the doors at 8PM and stayed for a three-drink conversation. Kendig was first up on the decks, and though his set was way too retro disco for my taste (especially after he teased us with some very cool contemporary tech at the beginning and middle of his set), he gave the space a comfortable Sunday evening t-dance vibe. I was more into the set PeePlay laid out after him, since he mixed in more contemporary sounds and made me feel like I was out for a night of grooving and dancing rather than an episode of the gay music history channel. He came on just as the crowd began to arrive around 10PM, and I saw several dancers enthusiastically take to the floor during his set, with the promise of more to come.

Paradise Lounge just recently re-opened, and PeePlay told me that they had originally planned on using the upstairs, rather than downstairs, space. I personally couldn't see anything at all wrong with what they had on the opening night since there was a good-sized dance floor, a cozy space off the dancefloor with banquette seating where you could chill and have a conversation, and lots of little tables and stools in the bar and dance areas where you could perch or have more intimate interactions. Nonetheless, PeePlay assured me that the upstairs space would be even cooler, and I know I'll go back again to check it out. There's not been much to do on Sunday evenings for a while, at least nothing that has the kind of cool alternative flair that Honey Soundsystem brings, so I hope the boys will be able to build Hard Energy into a Sunday evening destination.

Event Review: Molekule at Julie's Supper Club

The boyfriend and I made a quick stop into Molekule at Julie's Supper Club this past Friday and found a very cool space with even cooler techno. A collaboration between various grassroots technophiles like Faktion, Thirst, and Def, among others, this has real potential to blossom into another regularly occurring, local-talent-nurturing, head-centric techno party of the sort that this city needs.

Julie's, as we saw it set up, is a three-room space with a very comfortable bar area, a main dancefloor with classic black-and-white linoleum tile, and a smaller chill room (which could be made much better use of than as a place to store tables and chairs moved from the main room). Visuals were provided by Heroic Robot, who made great use of the big bare walls to present lessons in molekular and vektor geometry. We hung out and caught a bit of Tom Kat's very viberrific chill set, and then headed into the main room to hear some tracks from Amber (Thirsty | SisterSF),who gave us lots of fun snap-and-shuffle techno from the likes of Alex Under.

The hope seems to be that Molekule will mature into a monthly event, so let's keep our fingers crossed for more Molekule in the future.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The X-Men Meet Gus Presents

Some of you may know that the X-Men have relocated to San Francisco, and, in the latest issue, they make their way around the City trying to find ways to cheer up their buddy Colossus, including, it seems, finding their way to a Gus Presents event that shares his name (thanks to Kitty for spotting this):

Saturday, November 8, 2008

On the Passing of Proposition 8

I promise that soon, soon, I'll get back to writing about music and parties and all that fun stuff, but my mind has been more occupied with the events of the past week, both uplifting and depressing, than it has been with thoughts of where I might be able to have a good time. While the election of Obama has certainly cheered me, the passing of Proposition 8 has really made me wonder about the way in which the mass can be moved by fear and thinly disguised hate to deprive other human beings of their essential humanity through legislative means.

Part of my personal reaction to this has been to think that I can never trust the African-American or Latino communities again, and to be just a tad disgusted that those communities, which should understand something about legislative discrimination, could be moved in such numbers to undertake that kind of discrimination against another group. I heard an African-American pastor who was a leader of the Yes on 8 Movement say that he thought it was absurd to compare gay civil rights wth the black civil rights movement, because "nobody was being chased down by dogs or beaten by police." And yet, it's only been recently that Mathew Shepard was left to die on a barbed wire fence, and every day gays and lesbians face harassment, both physical and mental, and some pay for their sexual orientation with their lives. The only difference was that, until now, there was no institutional, legalized discrimination against them; with the passing of Proposition 8, we now see how that process begins. This is how the Nazis also began their persecution of Jews through the Nuremberg laws that set prohibitions on their ability to marry non-Jews, and, as a Southerner, I also remember miscegenation laws that prohibited interracial marriage (and which legislators also tried to insert into the US Constitution). Slaves, of course, were not allowed to marry because that would have meant soiling a sacred sacrament. Funny, isn't it, how the once-oppressed so eagerly adopt the ideas and methods of their former oppressors.

What bothers me the most about this, however, is that people who have no relation to me, my life, or the lives of my friends, seem to feel that its their place to dictate how I should live, and what I should or should not be allowed to do, based on religious beliefs that I don't share. Do we really want to live in a world where religious belief and practice is dictated by majority rule?

As CW Nevius writes in today's Chronicle
, the supporters of Proposition 8 seem surprised by the anger directed toward them. As I commented on that article, "As ye sow, so shall ye reap." If your actions are motivated by loathing of other people, don't be surprised if that loathing is returned. For now, I hope that the legal challenges to Proposition 8 will move forward, because it is a dangerous thing to enshrine in law the denial of rights to other human beings based on religious belief. That is the path that leads to the ovens.

From Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court Decision that overturned anti-miscegenation laws throughout the US:
Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not to marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Long Knives are Being Sharpened . . .

First on the butcher block, Sarah Palin. The coming weeks are going to be interesting, folks, better start keeping score now, even Fox News is in the process of re-aligning itself.

New Stuff on the SFScene Events Calendar!

A big update today kids, here are the highlights with all the details on the calendar itself:

Friday November 7, 2008:

Molekule at Julie's Supper Club - a new weekly techno party from several local underground collectives, hooray!

Donutheat Presents Daniel Wang at The Elbo Room - with Robot Hustle of Honey Soundsystem and more!

Sunday November 9, 2008:

Honey Soundsystem Premieres Hard Energy at Paradise Lounge - a lovely way to spend a Sunday evening, especially if you have Monday off!

Friday November 14, 2008:

Opulent Temple and The Deep End Present Music is Art at Kelly's Mission Rock - All night Burnerrific fun!

Saturday November 15, 2008:

Strictly for the Love Underground - strictly for the love of house music UG with David Harness headlining and an early BBQ (I bet I know where this is, and I bet it's across the bridge)!

Upcoming Event: Molekule at Julie's Supper Club

Another Friday night techno party kicks off this Friday at Julie's Supper Club!
With DJs:
Main Room:
FARZANA: Classy Concepts|3 Merry Men Be We
AMBER: Thirsty|SisterSF
KENNETH SCOTT: Auralism|Nightlight|Binary

Chill Area:
STML 10-11.30
TOMKAT (special dub techno and tracked out house set) 11.30-1

$5 after 10PM
9PM - 2AM
Julies's Supper Club,
1123 Folsom Street

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Best Part About President-Elect Obama . . .

is that his middle name is Hussein. Awesome.

Changes Afoot at The Transfer

All you scenesters have probably noticed that changes are afoot at The Transfer - Frisco Disco got booted, Sno-Drift has moved to UndergroundSF, and Joshua J ended Big Top there when he started M4M at UndergroundSF. In addition, I've heard that general manager Yasser was fired a few weeks ago. So, you might be wondering what's up over at that grubby little dive of a club?

According to a source within the industry familiar with The Transfer and owner Greg Bronstein, the closing of Jet to expand it into the next door space on Market has caused Bronstein to turn his attention to his other properties (he also owns The Bar on Castro and Lime), and he wasn't too happy with what he saw at The Transfer. Apparently his intention is to make it "more gay," and to try and bring its cash flow up to the same level as The Bar on Castro (which reportedly brings in multiple thousands of dollars a day gross). Given that The Transfer has a crappy sound system, and is a tiny, uncomfortable dive bar in a bad location, I wonder how it will ever meet the same standards as The Bar, but then it's not my business, either.

One of the more interesting manifestations of Bronstein's attempts to remake The Transfer can be seen in a recent ad for the bar in Gloss, which goes like this:

Being Laid Off Doesn't Mean You Can't Get Laid At The Transfer
"I didn't know you could check out cute bartenders, dance to hip hop, and drink $1 drinks all at the same bar," says Bon Qui Qui

So, in an attempt to revitalize The Transfer as a gay bar, Bronstein is reaching out to cheap, unemployed fags who are into hip-hop, and has chosen someone whose name translates to something like "good who who" as a spokesperson? Yep, works for me.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Adventures in DJing: Bloodpact at SoMarts

Of the many things you think might go wrong with a gig - bad CDs, forgetting your headphones, generally stinking up the place - probably the last thing on the list, if it appeared at all, would be having your knee pop out in the middle of your set, having to put it back in place yourself, and then finishing your gig. And yet, as improbable as it may sound, that's exactly what happened to Lord Kook during his set at Bloodpact, winning him the SuperTrooper award for his ability to solider on under circumstances of extreme physical distress.

The first indication I had that something was wrong came when I heard that horrible whipwhipwhip sound of a CD being put on pause. I turned around and someone, who was definitely not Lord Kook, was up at the mixer, and I couldn't see him anywhere. I ran up to the DJ stand and saw LK on the floor, holding his knee and sorta rolling in pain. "What happened?" I asked, and he said "My knee popped out!" There were several frantic seconds of trying to figure out what to do, a medic arrived but said he couldn't put the knee back in place, that we'd have to call an ambulance, meanwhile the kid who had leaped into the lurch when LK went down was trying to figure out what was going on with the CD players. "It's back in, it's back in!" LK shouted at me, and a second later he was back on the decks, completely drenched with shock sweat, to one of the biggest rounds of applause I've heard for a DJ in a while. A chair was found for him, he finished out his set, the medic came back with an ice pack and some analgesics, and then it was all sitting on the patio, having a cigarette and a drink and looking very much like a dashing wounded war hero (it probably helped that he was wearing a pirate costume).

The worst part of the whole incident, aside from the pain of course, was that Lord Kook was right in the middle of one of his most amazing sets ever. He'd been working on a plan all week and went off to Bloodpact with a sheet of notes, and in the execution his mixing was absolutely flawless. The duo of Digital Paradigm whipped up the kids with some serious bloggo bangin' before LK went on, but he brought the funky groove, with lots of bodies writhing up against each other on the dance risers. I knew the second that he got his knee to track back into place that he would want to finish, because he had too much invested in putting this set together, and was getting too much out of playing it, to let something as trivial as a dislocated knee get in the way.

We didn't really get to experience much of the rest of the party; after the requisite post-set drink, smoke, and basking in the glory of having just scored serious cred, we headed back to the apartment where LK could put up his leg. It was early, only about 1.45, and the party looked like it was gaining some substantial momentum to carry though until 5 AM, but, what the hell, we'd already had our major experience to remember this Halloween, the one where Lord Kook went up a level.

Decemberween Electrohouse 2008 (01:31:24) <--------------- cliiiiiiiick

01. Headman - Moisture (Headman Club Mix)
02. Funky Transport and Jonee Q - Mixed Up (Style of Eye Remix)
03. Young Rebels and Francisco Diaz - Human Animal (John Dahlback Remix)
04. DJ Fist - Lemme See You Work (Milton Channels Remix)
05. Simon S. - Music Machine (Rhythm Code Remix)
06. Wolfgang Carter - Sour Candy (Original Mix)
07. Chocolate Puma and Bingo Players - Touch Me (Bart B More Remix)
08. Wax Poetic - Swing Swing (Tyrell Remix)
09. NuBreed - NuFunk (Deadmau5 Remix)
10. Office Gossip - Time Against Me (Original Mix)
11. Camille Jones - Difficult Guys (Extended)
12. Chris Lake - Shake (Original Mix)
13. Hatiras & MC Flipside - Autograph (Original Dirty Mix)
14. Switch - A Bit Patchy (Eric Prydz Remix)
15. Matthew Dear - Neighborhoods (Original Mix)
16. Mason - The Ride (Oliver Klein and Peter Juergen Mix)
17. Copyright - In Da Club (Shake Shit Up) (Original Mix)
18. Roby C - Disco Robot (Riva Starr Remix)
19. Prax Paris - Running Up That Hill (Maria Ochoa Remix)