After listening to Brooklyn-based band Au Revoir Simone this winter I was excited to see them at The Independent this weekend, only to be pretty let down (not to mention apologetic to the three friends who came along before hearing them). The songs blended together into a mess of mediocre vocals and keyboards with childlike commentary in between. After singing a song about horses they giggled together about their show at the Treasure Island Music Festival last summer (the highlight of which seemed to be a ferris wheel ride). It felt as though they’re doing exactly what they’d anticipated at age six: “We’ll have long hair and wear short shirts and go around the world and rock!” It’s a shame too–their album “The Bird of Music” is really enjoyable and their website has a compelling collage theme. But their “Sad Song” video leaves me with the feeling that audio is about the only medium worth experiencing them in–God help me if entertaining with friends ever becomes this sleepy.
No longer limited to a few hours at the farmer’s market and a Hayes Valley alley, Blue Bottle has opened a beautiful new cafe downtown (at Mint and Jesse streets if you can find them). White walls, fantastic coffee, and small black glasses abound. While my affinity for Ritual Roasters is no secret (especially with my new–and not yet comfortable–rocker/girl mullet haircut), this may be the best indoor place to spend a calm SF afternoon.
The New York Times accurately described the new shop’s machines as looking like something out of an alchemist’s lab. But the description of the new coffeemakers’ work as “kaleidoscopic” seems a bit over the top–maybe evidence of SF smugness, which is regrettable (but not shocking enough to make you fall off of a designer chair while e-mailing Digg.com links and enjoying an expensive espresso).
A new piece on one of the San Franciscans I most admire, yoga teacher Janet Stone, is up on the teen girl athletics and motivation site Girls are Champions. The network, created by former gymnast Lisa Izze, serves as a platform for intergenerational conversation between women writers and young girls and highlights the health benefits of being active. A profile of Stone seemed right at home on the site. She’s hosting a benefit class for one of my favorite local organizations, the Art of Yoga Project, a Bay Area group that teaches yoga and writing to teen girls in incarceration, on February 9 at Yoga Tree Castro.
Dan Johnson, creator of Bay Area blog Burritophile (which promises “it’s all in your hands”) posted an interview with radio producer extraordinaire David Anderson and I on SFist today. I stand by San Francisco’s greatness but have to question why Amy Tan came to mind when I was asked about my favortie writer, especially with so many great local authors (Jack Kerouac, Eric Maisel, Armistead Maupin–where were you?).
The Sound of Young America (self-described as “a public radio show of things that are awesome”) hosted a live show at the Eurerka Theater this week that I didn’t want to ever leave. Host Jesse Thorn, who at 26 is decades younger than other public broadcasting hosts, started the show in his Santa Cruz dorm room and now interviews artists, musicians, comedians, and other people of note.
He talked about 20-somethings’ level of comfort wearing tweed suits in the Mission as a segway into a conversation with playwright Donny Hoch about gentricication in Williamsburg (his play “Taking Over” is now on at the Berkeley Rep). KQED said yesterday that they’ve received a few requests to run the show–for now the podcast is your only option in the Bay Area–and I’m all for more talk about art, music and burritos on the airways (more shamelessness).
Last night I had the chance to see rapper Lupe Fiasco and loved it (full disclosure: a friend’s friend is a backup singer for him and we spent as much time waiting for the passes outside as we did watching the concert). But it was worth the wait: his energy was great and the crowd was the most diverse I’ve seen at the Filmore. As the Merc wrote today: “Unlike many rappers, young Lupe isn’t championing bullets and bling or trying to come off like a tough guy by talking down to women.” NPR Music expanded: “He’s a practicing Muslim who doesn’t drink or smoke, and he avoids people who do, so…he talks about himself.” Well, that, but also relationships, politics, and violence in Iraq.
Commonly referred to as “Al Gore’s TV network,” Current TV is coming into its own. The two-year-old network and user-generated video content site won an Emmy this year for Best Interactive Television Service and is expanding its global reach beyond the US and UK. One of the best features on the network’s new site, Current Viewpoints, gives users a forum for uploading brief self-recorded clips with their thoughts about gay rights, immigration, and other social issues. While not all of the users are the most articulate, there’s something to be said for people from a variety of backgrounds sharing their experiences and the option to show whether or not you agree with the posted video opinion. Another Democratic presidential candidate even found his way there (see John Edwards’ response to the topic of poverty in America).