San Francisco

The age of the brogrammer

Solving tech's diversity problem may be a key to saving San Francisco

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"Die techie scum." Those words are sprayed ominously on sidewalks throughout San Francisco. They're plastered on stickers stamped on lampposts. They're even scrawled in the bathrooms of punk bars, the very establishments now populated by Google-Glass-wearing tech aficionados.Read more »

No poetry or magic in being a robot

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I felt yesterday like I had been scooped after reading Jennifer Maerz’s post in the Bold Italic, which asked: Is Talking About High Rents So Often Crippling Our City?

She linked to the blog of “robotics genius” Kal Spelletich, who is a friend of mine. We’ve been getting into heated discussions on this very topic for months. Kal makes fantastical interactive machines that do things like spit fire, harness random mechanical motion to produce musical notes on a piano or a violin, or engulf you in an aromatic bundle of fennel, just for an instant. His creations are robots.

I spent a bit of time in his studio, a giant waterfront warehouse in the southeastern part of the city where strange, sharp-edged contraptions hang from the ceilings. I shared stories about the articles I was writing, increasingly on evictions and the dearth of affordable housing in San Francisco. But as we dissected the problem, Kal rejected what he saw as a narrative of desperation that has been formulated in response to the city's affordable housing crisis.

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Live Shots: Wanda Jackson at the Chapel

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“Well hello, San Fran!” shouted Wanda Jackson to an almost-full Chapel on Thursday night. “You already know I love you. You should know that by now.”

Jackson, still touring at age 76, looks to be about five feet tall — if you include her carefully teased hair. She needs help getting on and off the stage. She talks openly about her “senior moments.” And she’s an absolute rock star. Her age and petite stature seem merely to add to her massive stage presence. After finishing her rollicking first song, “Riot in Cell Block Number 9,” she beamed at the crowd, asking, “Isn’t it wonderful, the energy?” Read more »

Heads Up: 7 must-see concerts this week

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The Queen of Rockabilly (who once dated Elvis), a ‘90s shoegaze icon, a legendary SF math rock crew, and a brand new haunted surf-garage quartet. This week’s must-sees stretch beyond space and time, genre and generation. Wanda Jackson, Mazzy Star, A Minor Forest, La Luz -- they’re all here now.

Plus, there are two major anniversary events: 10 years for Women’s Audio Mission; 20 years for grimy hardcore label Six Weeks Records. Read more »

Heads Up: 7 must-see concerts this week

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Ready to get weird? Naturally, as this is the week of All Hallows Eve (i.e. the best time of the year), the shows you must see are downright spooky: The Flaming Lips' Halloween Blood Bath, Maya Jane Coles at Freaky Friday, the Hellraiser’s Ball series’ Terry Malts show, Total Trash’s extended Halloween bash, and so forth.

Go out goblins and ghouls of the Bay, raise some spirits and remember the dead. And never forget: Nilbog is Goblin backwards. Read more »

No shame: Activist-rockers the Shondes celebrate Halloween in SF

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The Shondes are a dream come true for music-lovers with a political consciousness. The world can be a rough place, but doom-and-gloom is not this Brooklyn band’s style. With their bright klezmer-pop tunes and soaring, anthemic verses about love, perseverance, and messages of hope, the Shondes are out to better the world -- or at least move their audiences to dance hard and sing-along.
 
Currently touring on their fourth album, The Garden, the Shondes are embracing the power of pop. Whether you’re an activist or just enjoy a good live show, give The Garden a listen and try to get “Nights Like These” or “Running Out of Time” out of your head. Read more »

Heads Up: 7 must-see concerts this week

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Well lookie here -- seems like SF really is for lovers. We’ve got hoards of young folks intermingling on OkCupid, Grindr, and Tindr. And yes, the penultimate event: Kimye got engaged at AT&T Park last night. Kanye West rented out the whole park to propose to Kim K., which seems...lavish and kinda lonely? Although, I hear there was a 50-piece orchestra, so those people he hired were there at least.

Anyway, that sprinkly-gooey-sweet stuff (ahem, love) extends to the bands you should be checking this week: tender Nanna Øland Fabricius (otherwise known as Oh Land), boy-girl duo Kisses, balmy Warm Soda, and um, Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits. Read more »

Live Shots: Treasure Island Music Festival 2013

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Maybe people just don’t know how to party anymore, but I didn’t come across vomit once at the Treasure Island Music Festival. The crowd’s vibe was more or less well-behaved all weekend -- pretty chill considering how many people were clustered on the island for the fests’ seventh successful installment.

The organizers rely on big names, the unique setting, a variety of vendors, and plenty of distracting flash (including the nearly iconic 60-foot Ferris wheel you can ride at $5 a pop) in order to keep this thing a destination.  Read more »

Live Shots: The Dodos at Great American Music Hall

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All photos by Charles Russo

Fans of the Dodos flocked to the Great American Music Hall on Wednesday night, to catch the band’s final performance of its latest tour. It was a glorious homecoming played out before an adoring Bay Area crowd as Meric Long and company turned out a dynamic set that seamlessly alternated between quietly beautiful and downright fierce. Read more »

The procrastinator’s Treasure Island Music Festival to-do list

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From snatching that perfect pair of tolerably uncomfortable shoes to sourcing stamina-inducing party favors, pre-music festival preparations are key.

Unfortunately I’m a procrastinator to the highest degree  — a gal who thrives on the thrill of a deadline and thereby ends up highly caffeinated on Saturday morning, buzzing between projects: weaving flower crowns with foliage from the backyard, trying on all my bras in search of the one that will best cozy my flask, baking sugary snacks that minimize long line-induced irritation, taking shots, doing lunges, and yelping with excitement.

I am also a big fan of the to-do list. And since the Treasure Island Music Festival is a personal favorite fully laced with woozy, mushy memories, I’m getting a few-day head start on this year’s to-do list to make sure the fest goes swimmingly. (Treasure Island Music Festival takes place this Sat/19-Sun/20. www.treasureislandfestival.com.)

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