Dateline: San Francisco. Distressing news, via Facebook, on the "all the cool shit is in danger" front, with a post late Fri/20 by Valencia Street stalwart Lost Weekend Video:
"Times are tough at Lost Weekend Video! We’ve seen business suddenly drop by 30 percent just in the last few months, on top of the 60 percent hit we’ve already taken over the last few years. This has thrown us into pretty immediate crisis. We’d been working with an architect and the City to open a larger version of the Cinecave [Lost Weekend's basement screening room/performance venue] in the back half of the main space upstairs, but have found that it’s impossible due to a combination of the layout of the building and Valencia Street business restrictions. That has left us pretty much out of options."
"Paris Chic, Cali Cool.” That’s the tagline behind the eco-friendly clothing brand Amour Vert. Usually, the people who refer to California as “Cali" are non-natives. The term implies a certain unfamiliarity with the golden state and a desire to be more ~CaLiFoRnIaN~. Yet, the slogan is fitting. Founded out of a need for clothing that doesn't sacrifice style for sustainability, Amour Vert’s garments are created by a French designer and made within a 20 mile radius.
Until now, the Palo Alto-based brand was only available in department stores and small boutiques but Amour Vert opens its first retail store today. Nestled in the heart of Hayes Valley, at 437 Hayes, the boutique neighbors the french confectioner Chantal Guillon Macarons and clothing store Steven Alan.
Frameline 38, the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, kicked off last night and runs through June 29; check out our big list o' blurbs right here. Elsewhere, Clint Eastwood directs a musical, Guy Pearce prowls the outback, a very good suburban noir emerges from the Netherlands, a documentary takes on the cost of higher education, and more! Read on for the goods (and bads).
A new attraction is coming to Fisherman’s Wharf June 26, and it’s pretty surreal. The San Francisco Dungeon, the eighth in a series by Merlin Entertainments and the first stateside (most of the other dungeons focus on medieval history and are scattered throughout Western Europe), is a subterranean labyrinth where actors lead patrons on a hodgepodge tour of creepy SF-inspired historical haunts.
There’s obviously a lot to be skeptical of here. For one, Merlin, which is centered in the UK, is a gargantuan enterprise second only to Disney in the themed tourist trap world — other assets include Madame Tussauds, Legoland, and a bevy of contrived wildlife safaris. San Franciscans already talk a ton of smack about the half-assed efforts by huge corporate attractions on Jefferson St. to appear “local” — the one or two scattered Californian sports figures or cultural icons in Tussauds, for example, don’t conceal the sterility of the whole operation.
My visit to the Dungeon didn’t run entirely contrary to these concerns.
The backstage musical that turned the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons — known for 1960s doo-wop ditties like "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like a Man," and a zillion more; you will recognize all of them — into Broadway gold ascends to the big screen Fri/20 thanks to director Clint Eastwood, a seemingly odd choice until you consider Eastwood's own well-documented love of music.
Jersey Boys weaves a predictable tale of show biz dreams realized and then nearly dashed, with a gangster element that allows for some Goodfellas-lite action (a pre-fame Joe Pesci is a character here; he was actually from the same 'hood, and was instrumental in the group's formation). With songs recorded live on-set, à la 2012's Les Misérables, there's some spark to the musical numbers, but Eastwood's direction is more solid than spontaneous, with zero surprises (even the big finale, clearly an attempt at a fizzy, feel-good farewell, seems familiar).
Still, the cast — including 2006 Tony winner John Lloyd Young as Valli, and Christopher Walken as a sympathetic mobster — is likable, with Young in particular turning in a textured performance that speaks to his years of experience with the role. I spoke with Young, Michael Lomenda (who plays original Four Season Nick Massi), and Erich Bergen (as Bob Gaudio, the member who wrote most of the group's hits) when the trio made a recent visit to San Francisco to promote the movie.
Smith Henderson is all smiles. His debut novel, Fourth of July Creek, has been receiving rave reviews since its release two weeks ago, has a 100,000 copy pressing from HarperCollins, and was recently called "the best book I’ve read so far this year" by Washington Post critic Ron Charles.
"I was not expecting the Ron Charles thing ... that was amazing," Henderson says, sipping his beer on the outdoor patio of Farley’s East in Oakland. (He'll be reading from the book Tue/17 at San Francisco's Book Passage.) While the degree of success that the book is receiving tickles Henderson, he doesn’t pretend to be shocked that people are enjoying his work. "When people tell me 'I love your book,' I’m happy, but not chagrined. I wrote the book toward my interests, so of course I like my book." Henderson smokes a cigarette as he chuckles.
The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo is like Valhalla for male video game nerds, and though many gamer blogs are covering the newest thumb-twiddling doodads, only some are now bringing healthy dose of feminism too.
San Francisco-based media critic Anita Sarkeesian is covering E3 via the Twitter machine with scathing feminist critiques of all the newest game announcements, and a new hashtag is rising up to call out a major videogame developer for not coding women into its games. Read more »