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SFWEEKLY.COM LETTERS NEWS COVERSTORY THECALENDAR ARTS & CULTURE EAT MUSIC | JULY 30-AUGUST 5, 2014 3

4

JULY 30-AUGUST 5, 2014

LETTERS NEWS COVER STORY THE CALENDAR

SF

EDITORIAL

EDITOR Brandon R. Reynolds

ART DIRECTOR Audrey Fukuman

STAFF WRITERS Joe Eskenazi, Rachel Swan FOOD & DRINK EDITOR Anna Roth

MUSIC EDITOR lan S. Port

DIRECTOR OF ONLINE NEWS Erin Sherbert

ASSOCIATE ONLINE NEWS EDITOR Mollie McWilliams

CLUBS & CALENDAR EDITOR John Graham PROOFREADER Stewart Applin

EDITORIAL INTERNS Jenny Singer, Dave Mariuz, Tiffany Do

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Jonathan Kiefer, Michael Leaverton, Sam Lefebvre, Dan Mitchell, Gary Moskowitz, Tamara Palmer, Sam Prestianni, Iso Rabins, Chris Roberts,

Dan Savage, Katy St. Clair, Nick Schager,

Katie Tandy, Benjamin Wachs

ART

CONTRIBUTING ARTIST AND PHOTOGRAPHER Mike Koozmin, Fred Noland

PRODUCTION

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ARTS & CULTURE EAT MUSIC

VOL. 33 | NO. 28 JULY 30-AUG. 5, 2014

BEER BEFORELIQUOR

Bay Area distillers are saving ruined brews by making them into something stronger.

By Joe Eskenazi

BIGHEADS, SMALL(ER) EGOS

Arcade Fire's Will Butler on how the hugest band in indie rock Stays grounded.

By Ian S. Port

5 LETTERS

6 SUCKA FREE CITY

8 NEWS

CHEN TICS. os:tu-ods0nes wae eae 9 Your Humble Narrator.......... 10 Whe SNAUGN 262444 ¢edcedusenees 10

13. COVER STORY 18 THE CALENDAR

EVENT LISHINGS «..5+24¥e~ se oavex 19 24 ARTS & CULTURE

The Whore Next Door .......... 26 Film REVIEWS ....... 0... e eee eee at Pill GaSUIGS iv02+deees4u eed 28 Kill Your Television............. 30 31 EAT

PROSIVEGUS 2: 2taveceenecue sees’ 32 Recent Openings .............. 32 DISTWNGTIONS e's twa-d S84 eeu an ae ears 34 35 MUSIC

Sizzle & Fizzle... .. ee ee eee 36 CISUMOSs tive dav ee ates See ee Sen 37 Cal VSintsn ee adee canbe weeded s 38

47 CLASSIFIED

On the Cover: Photograph by Eric Lawson

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TD Letters

“In all fairness, they have to do something.”

DAN B. COMMENTING ON “DESOTO CAB MIGHT LEAVE TAX! GAME TO COMPETE WITH UBER, LYFT”

STINKY STATIONS

BART can't cover up the stench: Asan S.E native, I’ve witnessed all the upgrades and facelifts BART has un- dergone over the years, but in all that time, the issue of homeless panhan- dlers, urine odor, and crazies has never truly been addressed, as you can clearly see and smell it [“Station Sanitation,’ Joe Eskenazi, Sucka Free City, 7/23].

Hiram R.

Then they'd better beef up their supply of bleach and disinfectants, because the stairs and elevators will continue to be used as open-air toilets.

Maurice R.

BLOG COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

Changing lanes: That’d be smart if they didn’t need to get thousands of users to download a new app, which

Better buy some more bleach:

PART-TIME EDITORIAL ASSISTANT WANTED

Do you love working in a newsroom? SF Weekly seeks a part-time editorial assistant to work in our office and provide administrative support for the editorial staff. Duties include database management, assisting in calculating expenditures, drafting newsletters, updating listings, managing contest en- tries, answering phones, returning emails, and other admin-based tasks. The perfect candidate for the job will have a four-year degree from an ac- credited college or university with a background in journalism and prior of- fice experience. While this is not a writing position, there will be plenty of opportunities to pitch freelance pieces. The position is 15 hours per week.

Candidates can send a short cover letter, résumé, and clips to editorialjob@sfmediaco.com.

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may not be as good as the two apps that already do what it’s trying to [“DeSoto Cab Might Leave Taxi Game to Compete with Uber, Lyft,” Rachel Swan, the Snitch, 7/21]. In all fairness, they have to do something. Dan B.

CORRECTION

In our 7/16 feature [“Don’t Hate the Player: Are College Athletes Working for a Degree or a Cartel?” Rachel Swan] we misidentified Rick Neuheisel as the Oregon State coach who was recruiting Joe Igber. Neuheisel was in fact coaching for the University of Colorado.

Photo of the week from SFWEEKLY.COM/SLIDESHOW.:

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Po ~ Gt 3 - ~~ ;

, Christopher Victorio

J-Pop Summit Festival

PART TIME MUSIC WRITER/EDITOR WANTED

This person will report and write the lead music story for the paper every week and will assign, edit, and

write posts for the paper’s music blog, All Shook Down. The ideal candidate will have professional experience covering Bay Area music, a deep knowledge and voracious interest in music of all genres, and the enthusiasm and energy to develop sources and find fresh, compelling stories. Superb writing and editing skills are a must, as is knowledge of the local music scene. The music editor should have a point of view on local music and music- related issues and trends (clubs, festivals, etc.), and be willing to share and defend it in print, on social media, and in person. He or she may be called upon to consult on larger projects as needed, and may also pitch and write freelance stories for other sections of the paper. The position will start at 20 hours a week, with hourly pay. Send cover letter, résumé, and four to six professional clips to editorialjob@sfmediaco.com.

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LETTERS NEWS COVERSTORY THECALENDAR ARTS&CULTURE EAT MUSIC | JULY 30-AUGUST5, 2014 | 5

TTD Sucka FREE CITY

Mayor McCitation

Ed Lee has atrail of vanishing parking tickets.

By Joe Eskenazi

Late last month, photos hit the internet of Mayor Ed Lee’s Chevy Volt parked in a bus zone while the mayor chowed down on the best Mexi- can food Glen Park has to offer. While this was good publicity for La Corneta Taqueria, it didn’t reflect so well on the mayor.

The cop who chauffeurs hizzoner was purportedly admonished by the department, and the mayor's spokes- woman said Lee “expected that the vehicle would have been parked in a legal parking space. ... The mayor believes this is unacceptable and steps have been taken to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

And yet, just days later, an Outer Sunset Twitter user documented the mayor's hybrid parked just about everywhere but a legal space: in the middle of the street, in the red zone, and even in a crosswalk.

Lee’s expectations that his car will always be stowed properly appear to be on the hopeful side. Municipal Transportation Agency records reveal his Volt has been ticketed six times since his ascension to mayor in 2011 (and, it’s worth mentioning, his most recent escapades were not ticketed at all). Five of these six tickets hail from street-cleaning violations; the sixth is

an $85 smacker for depositing the Volt

in a “TOWAWAY ZONE DOWNT.” A mere mortal would have shelled

out $367 for these infractions

plus God knows how much cash and

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sanity getting a car back out of hock. The mayor paid nothing. All six tick- ets were dismissed out of hand at the behest of the San Francisco Police Department.

Lt. Daryl Fong, the head of the department’s special investigations unit, confirms that the mayor's tick- ets “were obtained during the course of his duties,” and, thereby, nixed. What, exactly, constitutes the course

of Lee’s duties was a subject Fong declined to parse. He also declined to go into specifics on these six tickets, as to do so would “compromise the mayor's security.”

So we may never know what the mayor was up to when he was ticketed outside the Rexall Drugs on Irving and Ninth; between Stacks Restau- rant and Patxi’s Pizza at Hayes and Octavia; outside Glen Park Cleaners

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: Andy Cooper

If Mayor Ed Lee parks there, it must be a legal spot.

on Chenery and Diamond; outside the Museum of the African Diaspora at 685 Mission St.; and outside Bello Coffee & Tea twice right across the street from La Corneta.

Steps have been taken to make sure it doesn’t happen again. And again. And again.

vet >

Badger’s Revenge

Anew EFF tool fights even presidential spam.

Privacy experts recently discovered something peculiar while scouring the White House’s official website, WhiteHouse.gov. Evidently, it’s equipped with a po- tent tracking mechanism the “canvass fingerprinting super cookie” which assigns a unique “fingerprint” to each computer it encounters. The fingerprint helps determine which ads to display to a user as he’s browsing other sites.

Anyone who visits the White House privacy policy page gets shadowed by one of these super cookie trackers.

“It’s amazing,” says Peter Eck- ersley, technology projects direc- tor at the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation.

About a year ago, Eckersley and other EFF staff began build- ing their own shield, a browser extension for Firefox and Chrome that detects online ads and embedded widgets that trail people without their permission. Called Privacy Badger, it’s one of the few tools that allows users to read the president’s privacy poli- cy without being tracked.

Eckersley says that spam- mers are getting ever-craftier in their race to outwit privacy features, but so far the Badger hasn't found any it couldn’t beat. The EFF staff has made the software code public, so that any hacker can make it better.

Still, he says, it’s going to bea cat-and-mouse game. “Or a bad- ger-and-mouse game, if you will.” Rachel Swan

The Most Explosives Allowable by Law

Some bombs are illegaland some aren't. Intention triggers the distinction.

San Francisco political

tion and a three-day FBI “national manhunt.” He faces a 10-year prison

operative-turned-accused-bombmaker Ryan Chamberlain was the subject of a multi-jurisdictional federal investiga-

sentence on a federal explosives pos- session charge.

His purported bomb fit within a bike messenger satchel. But it turns out size isn’t everything.

Last week, a 47-year-old Pacifica man named Marc Ormando was released from jail following a March arrest; he pleaded no contest on two felony counts of possessing explosives.

The stash removed from Orman- do’s garage: 938 pounds of explosive

material, 732 “barrel bombs,” and 44

pounds of black powder. Authorities also discovered nine guns and eight rifles in the home Ormando shared

with his 10- and 7-year-old kids (but,

reassuringly, these were apparently obtained legally).

Could Ormando have reduced his entire neighborhood to rubble in a scene rivaling Beirut’s worst? Oh yes, says San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe: “He could have produced enormous damage for blocks around.”

But, here’s the rationale behind the unemployed laborer being sprung from jail after a scant few months: He just wanted to have a good time.

While hapless Beirut residents are being blown to bits by hefty, indiscriminately dropped “barrel bombs,” the so-called “barrel bombs” seized from Ormando’s domicile are something akin to an M-80 fire- cracker. Ormando, it seems, hada thing for firecrackers. “He actually

attended at least one if not more schools or seminars for pyrotech- nics at shows and music videos,” Wagstaffe says. The half-ton of explosives in Ormando’s garage was “designed for fireworks purposes, rather than going into a bomb.”

A casually tossed cigarette or home fire would have wrought a level of damage likely dwarfing any- thing Chamberlain’s alleged shrap- nel-packed backpack bomb could have done. (San Franciscans may re- call the illegal fireworks factory blast that leveled a Bayview warehouse in 1986, killing seven or eight people no one is sure quite how many). But Ormando wouldn't have meant to do what he did, and so intention loomed large in determining his punishment.

So did the old real estate adage: lo- cation, location, location. Ormando’s case was handled in San Mateo Coun- ty. But fellow alleged firecracker nut Sean Gunther, who was arrested in San Francisco along with Ormando, is being tried here. He faces significant prison time on charges of possession, transportation, and sale of destruc- tive devices (and possession of meth- amphetamine).

Chamberlain, whom federal prosecutors accuse of crafting an “aggressive weapon” which would provide “a messy, very painful way to die,” remains locked up here without bail.

His federal public defender has not yet attempted to play the “it was only fireworks” card. JE

6 | JULY 30-AUGUST5, 2014 |

LETTERS NEWS COVERSTORY THECALENDAR ARTS &CULTURE EAT MUSIC

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SFWEEKLY.COM LETTERS NEWS COVERSTORY THECALENDAR ARTS &CULTURE EAT MUSIC | JULY 30-AUGUST5,2014 | 7

‘NEWS J SOME UNDERDOGS ARE FARTHER DOWN THAN OTHERS.

Taken for a Ride

DeSoto Is the first cab company to go rogue and the deepest in debt.

By Rachel Swan

Hansu Kim, the embattled co-owner of DeSoto Cab Company, made headlines last week when he an- nounced plans to defect from the taxi industry. Rather than continue operat- ing under the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Kim would en- ter the gray market generated by Uber, Lyft, and other app-based transporta- tion services. He'd turn in all his medal- lions (aka permits), remove the meter and taxi light from each of his cars, and obtain charter transportation (TCP) li- censes for all of them. He'd recast him- self as a limousine sedan service.

The benefits would be astronomical. Kim currently leases 204 medallions. The city charges him $1,000 a month for 32 of them (down from $2,000 last year); the rest come from private drivers who extract a going rate of $2,100 a month. By trading them for TCP permits (which cost $100 every 3 years, plus a one-time fee of $1,000 per vehicle), he’d save almost $5 million annually. He'd be overseen by the state, rather than the city, which would allow his drivers to pick up fares in neighbor- ing areas like Oakland or San Mateo with impunity. And he'd have to solicit pre-arranged rides, rather than street hails, which would make DeSoto look more like a tech startup than a cab business.

“The point I’ve made to the city is, “You leave me no choice,” Kim says, explaining that he’s found himself in an untenable position squeezed, on one side, by the strict set of fees and regulations for taxi drivers, and on the other, by a new crop of competitors who aren't playing by the same rules. Uber and its ilk have reinterpreted the state’s definition of a “chartered” vehicle to include any hired gun with a Prius.

Meanwhile, the labor pool for cab companies is shrinking, and many of them are hemorrhaging thousands of dollars a month.

Kim has framed his new business model as a form of civil disobedience. He says he'll maintain commercial insurance and worker's compensation for drivers, even while emulating the tech companies he’s long reviled. He'll keep DeSoto’s brand name and signa- ture blue color scheme. He'll operate a limo-for-hire outfit that has the look and feel of a taxi fleet. Kim admits to being “a big hypocrite,” but also char- acterizes himself as a martyr, of sorts.

In reality, he’s been flouting the rules for months.

8 | JULY 30-AUGUST5, 2014 |

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Financial records at the SFMTA reveal that DeSoto fell behind on its payments in the fall of 2013, and that it owes $415,406 for outstanding fees. The agency essentially let DeSoto’s debts languish while competitors paid their dues on time.

Kim disputes the figure, but admits he does owe money. “The cost of run- ning a good quality taxi company with real dispatch services is extremely ex- pensive,’ he explains, adding that he was waiting for fees to go down before he paid up.

Former SFMTA taxi boss Chris- tiane Hayashi, who oversaw cab com- panies until her retirement in June, declined to comment on the matter. Her successor, Kate Toran, suspects that sympathy for a partly eviscerated industry may have induced the SFM- TA to let the debt slide.

“I think there was an understand- ing that there were some problems in the industry, and that they needed time to get their fiscal house in order,’ Toran says. She adds that DeSoto is currently on a payment plan, and that she hopes the company will make good on its obligations before it shifts to a different business model lest the city fall $400,000 in the hole for its misguided generosity.

It’s long been the conventional wis- dom that San Francisco cabs were all but decimated by new app-based car- hire services, which poached not only their clientele, but also their driver force. By May, Luxor and Yellow Cab had each returned 20 of their medal- lions to the SFMTA for lack of drivers. Metro Cab owner Richard Hybels says he now earns $12,000-$15,000 less

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per month than his peak revenue.

It’s also well known that Hayashi was a vociferous booster of cab com- panies throughout her tenure at the SFMTA. Just six months before her departure, she was busy building an elaborate website to recruit new drivers. It included maps to public restrooms, live-streams of taxi town hall meetings, and curated playlists of songs for drivers. Hayashi saw it as a potential salve for old-school, regu- lated businesses that were constantly being upstaged by their new, high- tech competition. She saw herself as a protector of the underdog.

Hybels says she went too far in that role. And in the process, she wound up favoring DeSoto, one of the biggest, most well-resourced dogs in the pack.

In fact, the SFMTA has a history of showing deference to big cab com- panies. “There is a long-standing fee structure by which the larger compa- nies are given a tremendous relative advantage,” Green Cab founder Mark Gruberg says, noting that on a per- cab basis, small outfits pay far more than their larger counterparts for col- or-scheme permit renewal i.e., the right to operate under a certain trade dress. (Yellow Cab, for instance, tradi- tionally paid about twice as much as Metro Cab to renew its color scheme, even though Yellow’s fleet was about 27 times bigger than Metro’s.)

When Gruberg complained about that imbalance, he managed to get the fees waived this year. But Hybels says that doesn’t address the fundamental problem. Under Hayashi’s leadership, he says, the SFMTA bestowed special discounted medallions to companies

LETTERS NEWS COVERSTORY THECALENDAR ARTS &CULTURE EAT MUSIC

Anna Latino

Former SFMTA taxi boss Christiane Hayashi was an outspoken industry booster.

that it deemed worthy of “economic support.” In most cases, he adds, these were companies with digital dis- patch systems, which better equipped them to stand up to Uber. Small, scrappy companies saw the system triply rigged against them: They had to compete with wealthy peers and barely-regulated tech startups, while facing a municipal transit agency that coddled the bigger players.

Granted, no amount of economic support quite compares to the allow- ances given to DeSoto, which owes more than any other cab company but which has also proclaimed itself the first to go rogue. Toran, thus far, has given Kim the benefit of the doubt.

“Hansu [Kim] has indicated to me that he has made some hard decisions,” she says, “and those are what he'll have to grapple with.” She’s confident that if he does, indeed, change DeSoto’s business model, his medallions will quickly be snatched up by other companies. “We feel there’s strong demand for medallions,’ she continues, “and the industry has been adapting to external changes in a pos- itive direction.”

That said, she’s not sure what course the SFMTA will take if DeSoto defaults on its debt. Asked whether it would pursue a lawsuit, or simply suck up the loss, Toran waffles. “We'll just have to cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Rachel.Swan@SFWeekly.com

Thin Green Line

The bell finally tolls on San Francisco's double-dipping cops program.

Irony is a much-mis- used term these days. So, at our own risk, let’s posit the fol- lowing as ironic: San Francisco voters opted to beef up cops’ pensions to 90 percent of sal- ary at age 55 (up from 75 per- cent) but then, only a few years later, voted to initiate a De- ferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP), paying cops who worked past retirement age si- multaneous salaries and pen- sions thereby incentivizing cops to retire early as well as work past retirement.

Whether or not it’s ironic, it’s surely expensive. ‘The city pulled the plug on its DROP in 2011, but it was only at the beginning of this month that all but a handful of its participants aged out.

So we can, in essence, close the book on DROP. Some 326 cops, already earning six-digit salaries and awaiting 90-percent pensions, also bagged lump- sum payments totaling $76.4 million.

That’s a lot of money for a program the police union pledged would be “cost-neu- tral” when it pushed DROP onto the 2008 ballot. And while DROP was flogged as a means to keep older cops on the job, a 2011 analysis by the city controller found that, following its inception, near- ly three times the percentage of veteran cops retired.

So, in summation, San Francisco voters greenlit in- centives for cops to stay and go and reward them for both and a program en- acted to keep cops on the job longer may actually have led to them leaving earlier.

One final bit of potential irony: Police union high- er-ups in 2011 argued that nixing DROP would be a catastrophe, as cops would flood the program when it became clear it would be curtailed.

A hell of an argument: The program must be retained, lest it be used.

And now, nearly $80 mil- lion later, it’s almost used up. Joe Eskenazi

SFWEEKLY.COM

‘NEWS J CHEM TALES: JERRY BROWN IS THE DECIDER ON CALIFORNIA'S MEDICAL MARIJUANA INDUSTRY. PROBLEM IS, NOBODY'S SURE WHAT HE WILL DO.

Waiting for the Man

Jerry Brown is dominating. In the third act of his life, what the right-wingers dismissed just a few years ago as feeble effort for a curtain call is turning out to be more like a victory lap. He’s cruising, barely contested, toward a second term in his second coming as Cal- ifornia governor. He has taken advantage of an economic upswing to do what was once deemed impossible: get the state’s finances in order while allowing business to grow without cutting services, an achievement feted by The New York Times as the “California comeback.”

Barring disaster, Brown will serve in office until his 80s. And he appears hell-bent on making his last years memorable. “I’m going to build great things, I’m going to do big things,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle’s edito- rial board earlier this year.

And here’s how: build a high-speed bullet train that connects San Francis- co to Los Angeles in a few hours; bore giant $25 billion tunnels through the soil linking the Delta with parched farms farther south; and, finally, lay the groundwork for a multibillion dol- lar legal cannabis market.

That last one, while never on

Brown's lips, is well within his power as

the haggling over regulating the state's medical marijuana industry enters the 11th hour. But nobody is quite sure what Brown intends to do.

2014 has already been a remarkable year of “firsts” for the California pot industry. For the first time, the state’s law en- forcement lobby has agreed that marijuana is a business worth regulating as opposed toa scourge deserving extermination. And meeting police chiefs and the powerful League of California Cities at the negotiating table is a more-or-less united cannabis industry. That cohesive front is also a worthy achievement, when you consider the bizarre, feud-like infighting within the pro-cannabis community that occurred in the days leading up to the defeat of the state’s marijuana legalization measure (Prop. 19) in 2010. (One memorable flier, circulated that fall by a youthful backwoods pot grower, swore that evil agro-industrial giant Monsanto was behind the effort to let adults smoke weed in peace.) As of this writing, a plan to put the state’s medical marijuana industry

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under the control of the California Department of Consumer Affairs which would issue licenses for a fee and conduct inspections while letting cities and counties deal with issues like zoning (and allow them to decide if they even want pot shops) is inching towards completion.

If the bill, SB 1262, co-authored by Southern California Sen. Lou Correa

ROGUE WAVE + CAYUCAS

and San Francisco Assem-

blyman Tom Ammiano,

clears a few more hurdles in

the Legislature, it could reach

Brown’s desk by the end of the summer.

Except, the last few hurdles are big ones. As written, the bill puts mom-and-pop growers out of

business if they can’t afford a pricey license. What’s worse is that nobody ‘is sure how much a state-level

bureaucracy for cannabis would

cost. That could come out next

month. But then there’s the fact that nobody knows whether or not

Consumer Affairs has the interest

or ability to do the job. An earlier version of the pot

regulation bill put the state De- partment of Alcoholic Beverage Control in charge of cannabis. Some potheads hate that model because it lumps marijuana in with Jack Daniel's and Budweiser. But at least ABC said it was interested and could do it. Con- trast that to DCA, which hasn’t even responded to elected officials’ phone calls to attend a meeting, one Capitol staffer told me.

Who’s making the call on that one? Jerry Brown. No Sacramento bureaucracy does anything without Jerry’s approval, sources working the

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bill say. So if DCA isn’t showing up, it’s because they don’t have JB’s say-so.

“ABC is allowed to show up to meetings, and no one else that’s one of the weird ‘non-signal’ signals Jerry sends,” a Sacramento-level staffer said last week of working with Brown, whom he likened to an all-knowing and all-powerful but ulti- mately intangible wizard.

This means the whole future of California’s pot industry is in Brown’s hands.

“Tt’s the weirdness of the wizard,” the staffer said. “And he works in mys- terious ways.”

Brown is in Mexico this week for a series of high-profile meetings with labor and political leaders. In a one-line email, a Brown spokesman said the governor doesn’t comment on pending legislation even legislation of which he appears to be the ultimate master.

That leaves everyone waiting to hear from the governor. Once Brown does make his exit from public life, it could be a California with a Tesla fac- tory, well-watered fields, and a bullet train connecting it all. It could also be one with a booming pot trade.

Only Brown can tell and so far, he’s choosing not to.

CRoberts@SFWeekly.com

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ETS) JOE ESKENAZI, YOUR HUMBLE NARRATOR

Creative Destruction

Spoiler alert: San Francisco dies in the end.

Old war movies were as pre- dictable as war is unpredictable. If one of the soldiers in the platoon was an Italian kid from Brooklyn who just couldn't wait to get back to Benson- hurst to eat his nonna’s ravioli he was gonna die, and right soon. But not as soon as the black guy.

These tropes die hard. It warrants mentioning that the first soldier killed in Saving Private Ryan was played by Vin Diesel who is both Italian-American and black. It’s a miracle he made it out of the credits.

Of late, however, a new character has surged to the head of the mortal- ity column: San Francisco.

Cinematic iterations of our city have been razed since a few scant decades after the Great Quake of 06 provided the genuine article for even non-ticket holders. In much the same way that the earliest music vid- eos were, essentially, rudimentary depictions of the band in question playing the song in question, the first San Francisco disaster movies recounted this city’s destruction in the one manner everyone knew San Francisco could be destroyed.

In the closing scene of San Francisco (1936), our rattled denizens emerge from the charred rubble, a strangely enthusiastic quake survivor bellows “We'll build a new San Francisco!” and the fade from the smoldering wreckage to the city’s 1930s heyday reveals they did just that.

Good thing, too. A new genera- tion of far more creative filmmakers were waiting to wreck this city anew.

In the old days, you needed permis- sion to destroy San Francisco. Perhaps because he didn't hire Willie Brown as a “consultant,” Ray Harryhausen was in 1955 denied permission.

In an amazing tale recounted in this paper earlier this year, the stop-motion special effects maven was informed by city fathers that his plan to depict an oversize octopus disassembling the Golden Gate Bridge would strike fear into the hearts of commuters, and was not to be al- lowed. Harryhausen promptly rented a bakery truck, amassed a trove of clandestine footage, and proceeded to depict a gargantuan cephalopod giv- ing this city the business in It Came From Beneath the Sea.

A litany of citywide screen deaths followed The Towering Inferno, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, X-Men: The Last Stand. We appear to have eluded the recent trend of shambling

10 | JULY 30-AUGUST5, 2014 |

zombie movies, but San Francisco dies on film more often than Sean Bean. And, like that decapitated head of the Stark clan, our city has kicked its dying into overdrive. It seems every other film in San Francisco theaters these days depicts the immo- lation of the land upon which those theaters stand. In the last year alone, San Francisco has been rampaged over by giant monsters and giant robots; trodden upon by Godzilla; ter- rorized by Khan Noonien Singh; and overrun by damn, dirty apes in an en- core performance of apes overruning the city in only 2011 which was, to be honest, more apes overruning San Francisco than your humble narrator cared to see in the first place.

This month, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been rolling about town filming an earthquake flick. How cyclical. And how apropos Johnson’s nickname for a film about a geological phenomena.

As much as it pains a San Franciscan to say it, maybe we're not that damn special. Ours is a stand-in for any recognizable, destroyable city: Like Paris or London, we have signature bridges and landmarks that look dif- ferent in one piece and standing than in several pieces and on the ground.

A nuclear bomb was dropped on Houston in Independence Day. But, you know, it was hard to tell.

It’s difficult, however, not to feel like the trendy battering of our city means a bit more. When Martians vaporized Los Angeles City Hall in the 1953 version of War of the Worlds, it was hard not to infer deep- er meanings behind the destruction of one of the nation’s most tangible symbols of order and authority by an invasion force dead-set on wiping out the American way of life. It’s similarly difficult not to see both externally directed rage and self-flag- ellation in the ritualistic postwar cinematic destruction of Japan by atomic-spawned behemoths.

Hollywood's preferred choice of sacrificial city seems to change with the times New York, Los Angeles, and now us. Perhaps, reiterating the punchline of the filthy old joke, it’s merely our turn in the barrel. But this would hardly seem to bea random barrel: New York and L.A. were apt stand-ins for dystopian visions of a prior era. L.A., especially, encapsulates our best and worst:

a repository of the nation’s most beautiful-looking, ugly-behaving inhabitants.

San Francisco, however, man- ages to be all things to all people when it comes to annoying all people. Right-wing troglodytes both in the real world and the Chronicle comments section have a visceral reaction to anything San Francisco

LETTERS NEWS COVERSTORY THECALENDAR ARTS &CULTURE EAT MUSIC

Rezoning is always more fun in the movies.

does; if this city endorsed water, they'd cease bathing. But this city’s unabashed solipsism can sour even sensible types, as can the orgiastic displays of conspicuous consump- tion and kowtowing to wealthy spe- cial interests revealed via a level of national media coverage bordering on obsessive.

San Francisco has been poked and prodded and analyzed and, now, vivisected.

There is one more group of peo- ple who may harbor a surreptitious desire for this city to suffer San Franciscans. Your humble narrator recalls a gray day in 1998, motoring down Geary Boulevard with a fellow area native. The dot.com boom had gone bust, there would never be a better time to buy a secondhand foosball table, and a “For Rent” sign was affixed to every last apartment building. Our foosball-playing, rent-hiking, tech-enabled interlopers had decamped to whence they came.

“Good! Good! That was bullshit!” barked my passenger in a vehement tone that still rings in my ears. “That was no way to bea millionaire.”

He certainly didn’t bellow “We'll build a new San Francisco!” And, you know, we didn’t.

But that’s happening. It has been left to someone else.

Joe.Eskenazi@SFWeekly.com

The Snatch

We don't spy on you in the bathroom. Unless you want us fo.

ACT 40, LOOK 25

If you're feeling youthful today, it’s not because you are young. It’s because you are good at load- ing up on age-defying products that make you look younger than you are. And the built-in exercise you get from walking steep local hills doesn’t hurt. Not surpris- ingly, San Francisco a city that prides itself on being lean, fit, and balking at tanning beds was ranked the No. 1 city in the nation where residents are most successful at defying their real age. (Los Angeles didn’t even make the Top 10.) According to Realself, a health consumer infor- mation site, San Francisco earned high scores for having residents who eat healthfully, stay physi- cally fit, and remain hyper-con- cerned with the way their skin looks and feels. Major U.S. cities with more than 300,000 people were