November 2009 Archives
While walking the streets of San Francisco, it is easy to come across an intricate graffiti mural painted on the side of a building. Vivid colors blend together to make obscure fonts and shapes, all done with a can of spray paint and a lot of attention to detail. Even if you can't make out what it says you still know it is art.
Perhaps more often around the city you see "a tag." A single color scribble on a storefront or the back of a MUNI bus. You probably think to yourself how ugly it is and feel bad for the person who has to wash it off. Steve Rotman, photographer and author of San Francisco Street Art and Bay Area Graffiti, says the latter is actually graffiti in the traditional sense.
"These are examples of legal graffiti murals, which is a little different than graffiti proper," Rotman said, while walking by the murals on the old RAI Care Center building on Haight Street, which were painted with permission from the property owner. "Graffiti in its purest form is an illegal form of expression. I love these, they're great, but it's not, strictly speaking, graffiti."
According to Rotman, only a couple years ago San Francisco was a top destination for seeing illegal but picturesque graffiti murals. However, eliminating graffiti has become a major priority of the SFPD and some city officials. "When I started shooting graffiti it was ubiquitous it the city, it was everywhere. You could go to any neighborhood and see not just tagging, but full color, really fantastic pieces, on the street, on rooftops and on billboards and it made the city a very exciting place to be," Rotman said. "Since then, the city has engaged in a very aggressive and successful, from their point of view, crackdown on graffiti."
In July 2008, Assembly Bill 1767 was signed into law. It created a pilot program in San Francisco that allowed the city to require graffiti offenders to clean up graffiti as part of their community service. Author of the bill, Assemblywomen Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco), claimed graffiti removal was costing the city $20 million annually.
Roman Cesario, the art director of 1:AM Gallery, says graffiti belongs in certain places. "I think graffiti shouldn't be it some places, like on someone's house or a business's window," he said. "But if it's a building that's about to get torn down or something that is already pretty sorry looking then I think any modification is going to benefit what's there."
However, the SFPD's official graffiti motto is "the greatest graffiti is NO graffiti!" SFPD Spokesperson Sgt. Wilfred Williams said a graffiti offender can be convicted of a felony if the property damage exceeds $400.
Cesario says graffiti is no more offensive than advertisements. "When you're driving down the street and that big Whopper billboard is staring at you, you may not like it but since they paid for it they're allowed to be there," he said. "It's all a violation of public space, it's just how you perceive it."
This is an article from [X]press Magazine.
Marissa Martinez felt out of place most of her life because she was born in a man's body. Her discomfort did not stem from some sexual attraction to males. Instead, she truly felt she was meant to be a woman. Growing up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, she first identified with femininity during puberty when the changes her body went through, as a boy, did not seem to fit. She had fantasies about being a woman, would wear her mom's clothes, and shaved only her upper thighs so she would not get teased during gym class.
Despite the intensity of her need to be female, Martinez never told anyone. For almost thirty years, she naively held the common opinion that "whatever genitalia a person is born with determines their sex."
The most misunderstood aspect of gender transition is the motivation, because the catalyst is not defined by want. On the contrary, the feeling, absent of casual desire, is a need to correct a mistake. "It's something you can't escape and no matter how hard you try to suppress it, it won't go away," explains Martinez, who completed her surgical transition from male to female three months ago.
Prior to transition, Martinez suppressed her femininity and assumed an "ultimate expression" of masculinity by immersing herself in the grindcore metal scene. "I loved how extreme it was. That it didn't hold back and was like the ultimate in speed and aggression and over the top lyrics." She had problems with other kids bullying her in school, until she became a "burly, death metal dude."
"I would literally walk down the middle of the halls in my black leather jacket, with long black hair in my face, looking like the proverbial, Satan worshiping, metal maniac, and crowds of people would part to get out of my way. That was a big deal to me at the time. I was dedicated to the idea that I had to be a man."
Martinez attended the Heald Institute of Technology, obtaining an Associate of Sciences in software technologies. "I went there because I really wanted to be able to provide for my girlfriend, who eventually became my wife."
"She had a lot of strong opinions about how men and women were and some of them seemed stereotypical," says John von Eichhorn, who has worked with Martinez in software development for ten years at Lucasfilm, producer of Star Wars. "We worked long hours together and were each other's confidants about work and marriage." But Martinez' never discussed her gender identity issues. "There was just a general dissatisfaction with life that she had when she was a man. And that was something that fed into her music."
Unlike Martinez, Dean Bonilla, never suppressed his male identity or assumed a generic gender role. As a child, he expected to endure male puberty, but became androgynous once he experienced feminine changes instead. "I felt really confused and didn't know what to call myself. But I knew I did not like being called a girl. I was playing football in the mud and not brushing my hair."
Bonilla could not relate to the female concern about body image or why his single mother thought she needed a man to raise him properly. Identifying with men was difficult because he could not understand the misogyny, emotional suppression or the concern over maintaining a tough persona that he saw in many of the men around him. "I always felt like I had to act tough to get any kind of respect, but eventually I decided this was dumb." Bonilla has lived as a man for over three years and is comfortable expressing his emotions. "I'm okay with whatever feminine qualities I have because I am comfortable with my masculinity," he says. "Why does there have to be some type of gender role?"
Bonilla grew up in the southern Baptist city of Jacksonville, Florida, where coming out, even as gay, was intimidating. He did not know about trans men until he met two at a queer youth center when he was sixteen. "I watched them both transition from female to male physically and it all just came together," he remembers. Three years later he asked his grandmother if he could assume his middle name, Dean, simply to see how she would react. She had no qualms, so Bonilla explained everything in a letter. "She told me she always knew I'd come out to her."
During this time, Bonilla was living with a lesbian couple. One of the women wished he could be a stronger female, but his transition had nothing to do with his sexual orientation or a dislike of women. "Just because I transitioned as male doesn't mean I'm not a feminist," he says. Bonilla's mother is still trying to accept his male identity because she was not close to him when he first came out. "It seems like she's trying to have a mother-daughter relationship that we never really had," he says.
Martinez' suppression of her true self made her road to transition much longer. For ten years she sought satisfaction in helping her wife pick out sexy outfits and attempted to incorporate her female identity into their sexual relations. But her partner was completely heterosexual and did not enjoy this approach, which Martinez would "explain away" as simply an unbridled fantasy she could forget.
"No matter how hard I tried to be like my father when I was younger, be a good husband or just a cool dude, I could never escape these feelings telling me, 'This isn't right. You should be a girl.'"
Explaining this to her wife was unnerving. "I knew this was going to put the nail in the coffin of our relationship." But to Martinez' surprise her wife wanted to maintain the relationship because she believed the core person with whom she fell in love would always remain the same. She tried to adjust to having a wife and Martinez began cross dressing, but these efforts remained futile in that they only allowed Martinez to skim the surface of who she truly needed to be. While sharing a cigarette after a game of pool one night, her wife admitted she had to leave her, because otherwise Martinez would always hold back.
Within the next year they sold their town house in Pacifica, her ex-wife found a new boyfriend, and Martinez moved to the city and began hormone replacement therapy. She would use her half of the money from the house to pay for various surgeries that would finally give her a body that matched her mentality.
Some transgender people do not need or want Gender Confirmation Surgery, explains Martinez, because they are comfortable with genitals that do not match their gender identity. Bonilla would like to have his breast tissue removed, but he does not need bottom surgery to be comfortable as a male. "I don't feel like I have any dysphoria," he says.
He has no problem with the surgery, understands the feeling of "missing something," and admits he may want it some day, but he thinks many people - gay, straight, and transgender - wrongly categorize people based solely on their genitals. Bonilla has dated women and is also attracted to gay men, but fears he will never have the opportunity to date a man "because there is so much emphasis on having a penis to be a man in the first place." He thinks surgery is pushed on trans women for the same reason and disagrees with the law requiring "bottom" GCS for a legal change of gender. "Gender and sex are totally different from each other and if you're intersex -why does that matter?"
In Jacksonville, Bonilla was concerned about conforming to a masculine role because he dealt with constant harassment from his peers. He wore his hair short and often made a point of looking angry so people would not approach him. "I know it sounds crazy, but everyday I got stared down mostly by jock guys," he says. "Seeing this female-bodied person being masculine messed with their whole world."
Bonilla immersed himself in activism to compensate for the harassment. In high school, he lead class discussions about safe sex and sexual and gender orientation issues, lobbied for anti-bullying laws, and worked at the LGBT center while studying sociology at the University of Northern Florida.
Depressed by the prevalent harassment, he realized he needed to help himself before he could continue to help others. "Out of desperation," Bonilla moved to San Francisco in January, one month after his best friend, Charles Thomy, who is also transgendered. "I just decided to pack two bags and leave everything because I knew this would be the best for me and it has been so far." He left with little money, but he saw no career opportunities in Jacksonville aside from the LGBT center. "It made me annoyed to know that was the only option and that any other place would look down on me just for being me."
After living with friends for a few months he obtained an apartment through the Castro Youth Housing Initiative, which aids low-income or unemployed youth. He is still trying to get settled financially, but hopes to return to college and work for a nonprofit.
Since he began taking testosterone four months ago, his voice has lowered and he has more facial hair, but he does not notice any significant changes in his mood, because he says he always felt masculine. Making documentaries, learning how to skateboard, and watching films are some favorite pastimes that he shares with Thomy. He always wanted to skate, but gave it up at a young age, because the pubescent boys he wanted to skate with were unwilling to play with a girl. Bonilla considers his relationship with Thomy a "'bromance' - we can be emotional with each other, but not have to be in a relationship," he says, noting that, unlike other guys, their relationship has no tension related to proving their masculinity to each other.
Martinez understands Bonilla's viewpoint on gender confirmation surgery, but she knew she could never feel comfortable with her male genitalia or the odd looks and comments such as, "That's a dude," from insolent passersby. "I never wanted to be a Tranny. I always needed to be a girl."
After eight months of transitioning, Martinez was androgynous in her daily life and spending weekends as a woman. After one such weekend she was hanging out with a friend from work. "He said, 'It's going to be really weird not seeing you at work like this tomorrow.' And it just sorta hit me," she remembers. "I went to work the next day and saw my reflection in the glass (as a man) and said, 'Oh my god, I can't do this!'" She explained her situation to human relations and began living as a woman full time. Everyone has been completely supportive, including her coworkers, parents, and the members of her metal band, Cretin.
Martinez is currently working on the second album and says she sings the same as she did prior to her transition - in a loud, growling voice filled with angst. "You can't change the vocalist. It kills the band," she says, while eating lamb chops, using her fork and knife to gracefully remove the last slivers of meat from the bones.
Aside from these vocals, her demeanor is feminine. She taught herself how to walk, talk, and eat like a woman and even changed her handwriting. The estrogen injections softened her skin and made her more emotional, but to truly feel like a woman she needed surgery.
First, she underwent eleven hours of Facial Feminization Surgery, performed by world-renowned craniofacial surgeon Doctor Douglas Ousterhout. "For women, no matter the size of our bone structure, we still have certain curvature that indicates a female face," explains Mira Coluccio, Dr. Ousterhout's office manager who has extensive knowledge of his surgical procedures. Compared to females the male skull is much larger with deep-set eyes and bossing above the socket, a flat forehead and a square jaw. To make a face female Dr. Ousterhout removes and reshapes portions of the skull.
Prior to surgery, both Martinez' friends and people she had just met would tell her she was already beautiful and did not need the procedure. "We are not talking about beauty. It's the bone structure," says Coluccio, pointing to numerous before and after photos on her computer. "As an outsider looking in (at these pictures) you see a brother and sister." Coluccio says surgery gives people confidence, but transition involves self-exploration, which consumes many genetic women for most of their lives. "Every girl I know is still learning how to be a girl."
Before facial feminization surgery, von Eichhorn continued to slip up on Martinez' name and the proper pronouns, but the surgery removed the remnants of her formal self and he no longer saw her as a man. Martinez still had insecurities about "passing," but her female face and the breast augmentation that followed energized her self-esteem and social life. She even entertained her dream to become a latex fetish model and won a casting call for a photo shoot with Marquis Magazine after they hosted a fetish ball in July. "It's my opinion that latex is to clothing as chocolate is to food - pure decadent sex!"
"I'm way more social and outgoing than I used to be. Plus, I think differently because of the hormones," she says. "Man or woman we're all made out of the same goop, so if you swap the hormones we produce naturally then you're going to get similar results." Martinez was never attracted to men, until she began taking female hormones, which made her feel vulnerable - an emotion that she says is well served by men who innately have a protective disposition.
As a woman she is bisexual, but dating a guy requires less thought. "When I am with a woman I am very concerned about what my role is because that can either validate or invalidate my confidence in being a woman. Whereas when I am with a guy, it is very validating that I am his girl. That said I'm more attracted to women."
One month after the fetish ball, Martinez travelled to New Hope, Pennsylvania, where her genitals would be transformed from male to female, through a surgical technique known as penile inversion. When she awoke after surgery, she thought the procedure was not complete. Once the doctors assured her the operation was finished, she began feeling the area with her mind. "I started crying because I was really happy. It felt very correct." Initially, she thought her penis was still there, but then realized it was now inside her, aside from a small portion of the head used to form the clitoris.
Two months later she was still sore, but back to work, going out and having fun. Dilation is a big part of her day - every three hours she must insert a stint into her vagina and apply constant pressure for thirty minutes to increase its width and depth, and to avoid atrophy. She began this maintenance process immediately after surgery when she was still too swollen to walk. The tenderness remains three months later, but being content with her body was worth all the pain.
A noticeable weight has been lifted from her shoulders, says von Eichhorn. Martinez as a guy was "quiet and shy - in a lot of ways introspective and subdued. Now she'll just strike up a conversation with strangers and puts herself at the epicenter of attention." Prior to her transition, Martinez and von Eichhorn discussed the protective roles they assumed in their relationships with women. Now that dynamic is present between them, says von Eichhorn, who worries about Martinez walking home alone at night in attractive outfits. "I see her as my little sister at this point."
Martinez has only lived as a woman for two years and even after the surgery does not consider her transition complete. "Honestly, one part of me is like "Phew! OK! The big scary unknown is over with." But, there's still a huge amount of healing and rediscovery left to go," she says. "I think my big stuff to deal with is reconciling that I didn't have a girl's upbringing, and finding peace with the past I did live."
She overcame several uncertainties throughout her transition, including doubting she was transgendered in any sense and worrying that her friends and family would not love her if she transitioned. Now her main concerns are passing as a woman and exploring her roles in relationships. "Even now, after all of the therapy, surgery, and retraining of my movements, mannerisms, and voice, I constantly think that people are recognizing me as something other than a natural woman." She continues to tell people she is transsexual when they appear interested in dating her and, as a "realist," concludes this discussion will always be necessary due to her male upbringing.
"Despite the challenges having a vagina feels amazing. I can't really explain it, but it has really calmed some big anxieties that I've had. It just makes sense to me - to look down and not see a penis there. There's no other way to put it."
Bonilla also sees transition as an ongoing process. "There may be a point when I know I can completely pass as male, but I do not think there is going to be an end to (my transition) because I will constantly have to take testosterone in order to stay male-bodied."
He no longer worries about passing, but hopes the public will become more educated on transgender issues. "If I wasn't trans, instead of staring them down or making up my own ideas about how they are, I'd want to ask questions and make friends with them."
SF State students did a sit-in at the Administration building lobby Wednesday afternoon as a means of protesting SF State's budget cuts and fee increases.
Nearly 150 students marched through campus and various buildings before ending it in front of the administration entryway, where students shared stories of how recent cuts and fee hikes negatively affected their lives.
"I plan on staying here for as long as it takes," said junior Ricardo Guido. "I'm here because I'm equally affected--I have 14 units right now, three of which go to my major and the other 11 are just so I can get financial aid."
The rally began outside the Ethnics Studies and Psychology building shortly after noon. Students passing by noticed the growing group as phrases such as "No cuts, no fees -- education should be free," blasted from a mega-phone and reverberated off nearby walls.
"We're not just going to march around," said senior Kathryn Savvides, one of the rally's organizers. "We are going to fight back today, it's not just another day at SF State."
The Ethnic Studies and Psychology building was the first to hear the "fight" as the march moved its way to the back of the building, taking the first floor occupants by surprise, and went on to the Humanities building.
Kenneth Monteiro, the dean of the College of Ethnic Studies, followed behind the group.
"I always believe that it is important that the students should express themselves even when it is something I'm not in agreement with -- in this particular case, my personal view is that I agree with them, public education must stay accessible," Monteiro said.
One protestor said she believes the rally is important to make the university aware of the students' sentiment.
"I think it's important because it allows the university to see that the students care and are willing to do something," said Gracie Arguelles, 23. "It has a really big impact to see other universities marching together in solidarity."
Students at University of California and California State University campuses around the state are protesting as both UC's Board of Regents and CSU's Board of Trustees discuss the next cuts to the systems' budget, said Savvides.
International students congregated around tables in the main quad displaying tokens from their countries on Nov. 18 as part of SF State's 10th annual International Education Week to celebrate the diversity of SF State.
"International Education Week is an opportunity to recognize contributions of international students and visitors to our campus," said Marilyn Jackson, assistant director of the Office of International Programs.
Students from all over the world, including Pakistan, Tajikistan and Armenia, gathered at the "Culture Fest" in Malcolm X Plaza to showcase their culture with tables covered with books and decorative items from their country.
"I want students to know about our history and culture," said Nairi Kouyoumdjian, founder of the Armenian Student Association. "There's 50 Armenian students on campus and as a minority we should be represented."
Students from Afghanistan, dressed in traditional Afghanistan clothing, displayed the Afghan flag and phrases in Afghan languages. They played music and videos from the capitol city of Kabul.
"People always think there's war in Afghanistan, but we want to show students our culture," said Suhaila Nishat, who moved from Kabul to the United States in 2000.
Students from Turkey also used the event as a way to eradicate misconceptions about their country.
"There are many false beliefs about the language and culture of Turkey and I want to educate people on basic things," said Nefise Kahraman. "It's important to be with other nations on this day."
Traditional dancers from India, Iran and Armenia also performed dances and traditional musical performances.
SF State dance student Karolyn Wyneken turned the plaza into her stage as she belly danced in a traditional two-piece bellydancing outfit for a crowd of students and professors.
The dancers were brought to SF State through International House, a program of the College of Humanities that brings different cultures together to learn about the diversity of different regions in the world.
A group of students protesting the budget cuts marched through the plaza as an Iranian performance started. The two dancers waited for the protestors to march through before they began.
A dancer from Mumbai performed a Bollywood dance inspired by Indian classical and folk music.
International Education Week was started in the United States during fall 2000 as part of Bill Clinton's initiative that called for an international education policy in the country.
"SF State is deeply committed to promoting internationalism on campus and preparing knowledgeable and competent graduates to lead the way in a diverse and changing world," Jackson said.
This is an entry from [X]press Magazine.
Aaron Seeman still smells like propane. Right now, he is reclining in a Union Square Starbucks, but thirty minutes ago, he lit his head on fire.
"It's been a while since I played on the streets," he says, strapping on his accordion in front of the cable car turnaround on Powell Street in San Francisco. At his feet is a gym bag stuffed with three Donald Duck hats, the kind with the squeaky rubber bills you can get at Disneyland. One of them is hooked up to a propane tank.
He needs a lighter to get things started, so he approaches two tough-looking city kids hanging out next to the glow of a storefront window display. "Hey, do you guys have a lighter?" he asks. They nod, and one of them digs into his pocket. He bows down a little and has them light the bulky wick protruding from the top of the hat.
"Oh SHIT!" they yelp, and scramble out of the way as the hat shoots out a vertical flame. Unfazed, Seeman stands upright, turns around, and begins wailing away on his instrument as passersby snap camera phone photos.
After years of being maligned as an ugly and undesirable instrument, the accordion is creeping back into modern music, albeit in some very weird ways. It is hard to say where and when the accordion started to gather steam after many years of languishing in Lawrence Welk's shadow. An educated guess might link it to the much-heralded, but ultimately ephemeral 'gypsy punk' movement of 2007, or to folky indie acts like The Decemberists coming up from the underground. Whatever the scene's origins, the accordion is shifting from a harbinger of celibacy to a fringe fetish.
The cult appeal of the instrument was on display at the San Francisco stop of the Monsters of Accordion tour this year. At the end of August, aficionados and intrigued locals alike packed the house at Slim's to marvel at the all-accordion lineup.
Spearheaded by Jason Webley, Seattle's patron saint of accordion madness and veritable godfather of the new scene, Monsters of Accordion is a tour that has showcased the new wave of performers for the last three years. This year, there was Eric Stern, a mustachioed gentleman from Portland, and Geoff Berner, whose most popular number has a chorus that the audience delightedly sings along to: "Oh the dead, dead children were worth it..." Seeman makes a brief appearance as his alter-ego, Duckmandu, and Stevhen Iancu dims the lights for his set, skulking around the stage in near darkness. The big finish is Webley himself, who whips his fans into a frenzy. His performance, as usual, is so intense that he loses his hat within the first few songs, and he and his audience sweat profusely. He howls his way through his set and claws at his instrument, stomping around and instructing his onlookers in complicated call-and-response rituals.
There is something vaguely punk rock about the whole thing. There is an intensity to the entire night, an element of surprise-attack, and the feeling that the accordion is a weapon; a defense. It feels safe inside Slim's, insulated from an outside world that might judge.
"I don't know any punk bands that are using accordions, but something about the energy of the music and the do it yourself approach to the whole music business was always very appealing to me," says Webley later. 'Energy' is one word for Webley's performance ethic. Berner's instrument is propped up behind him on a table in the dressing room. "I recently told him I go through about one accordion a year because I end up ripping the bellows apart. Ever since then, he's seemed genuinely nervous any time I've touched his accordion."
Much of the growing scene seems to have stemmed from the early days of punk, and if the movement can be given a name at all, it is most commonly referred to as 'punk rock accordion'. Seeman is an accordion teacher by trade, and performs under the name Duckmandu by choice. "I get more gigs these days as a bad accordion player than a trained pianist," he says with a smirk. He is most famous for translating the classic Dead Kennedys album Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables entirely into accordion music. "It's such a musically singular piece of work," he rhapsodizes at a corner table in the Union Square Starbucks, his accordion and bag of hats by his side. "I was attracted to the challenge. I wanted to do something of musical value that no one else was doing." Though he holds a master's in music and is a classically-trained pianist, his Dead Kennedys project has ended up defining him. "The response was overwhelming," he says, suppressing a sigh. "It's kind of what I'm known for now."
"I guess I'm really just capitalizing on the 'astonishing' aspect of it," he says. "It's still an exotic instrument here in America, especially on the West Coast. I think the reaction I get is unique to where we are in the world."
Locally, Skyler Fell carries the banner for the Bay Area accordion scene, as small as it is. Out of a warehouse in Bayview come the sounds of three untrained accordion players on a Saturday afternoon, driving the dogs in the building crazy.
Her repair shop and store, Accordion Apocalypse, has emerged as the hub of the new accordion culture in the Bay Area. "It's been described as an accordion oasis," she says, skipping into the showroom in her chunky boots. "I've kind of become the biggest proponent of the accordion around here. I feel it's my duty to provide accordions to people, and fix 'em when they get broken." The presence of her shop is announced only by an ornate gate, decorated by Fell herself, on the side of a slate-gray building. The surrounding neighborhood is warehouses and loading docks and old train tracks to nowhere. Other than on game days at nearby Candlestick Park, it is completely and totally deserted.
After seeing an accordion-centric punk band at famed music club 924 Gilman in her youth, she fell in with Vince Cirelli, an old-world accordion builder formerly of Colombo and Sons, one of eight accordion shops that once operated in San Francisco. Because of the mix of cultures moving in to the city in the early twentieth century, San Francisco was once the accordion epicenter of America. To this day, the accordion is San Francisco's official instrument.
"A lot of the older generations of players are very old now, and getting ill, even dying," says Fell. "A lot of the old folk songs are fading away, and unfortunately, dying with them. There's been this big push lately to get young people to pick up the instrument and start playing."
People of all kinds are picking it up again, but in ways the older generation could have never predicted. On a Saturday night, Fell is scurrying around her shop, looking for more chairs. As an unusual amount of cars pull up outside the gate and more people filter in, Seeman is preparing to teach ten accordionists of varying skill "Smells Like Teen Spirit".
It is a good cross-section of people at his "Grunge Workshop" -- about ten of them; a big commitment for a Saturday evening. "This is great," says a friend of the shop, who has dropped by for a visit with her dog. "What a huge turnout."
There are friends, studious folks, and single women seated in the showroom waiting for Seeman to get things going. There is a mother and her pre-teen son in the corner warming up with a duet they have no doubt rehearsed before. Someone taps out the famous introduction to Europe's "The Final Countdown" as a lark. A laugh rises from the crowd.
"Here, let me just play it through once," Seeman says. He acts like he has never played the song before, but he quickly drops into a trancelike state, playing it note for note, his tattooed hands flying up and down the keyboard. It does not quite sound like the version modern-rock radio is used to, but it begins to make more sense as the lyrics sync up.
For all of the silliness and the theatrics that cloud his career, Seeman is a skilled player and instructor. He is wearing one of his Donald Duck hats for the duration of the evening, but after a while it becomes the last thing you notice about him. He is approachable and articulate, and has managed to break the song down into more parts than Kurt Cobain may have ever been aware of, assigning movements to each attendee based on their proficiency.
There is little to no introduction to the final result. "One, two, three, four..." Seeman counts off, and suddenly it just sounds right. Everyone pipes up at once, and it sounds like you would expect it to. It is heavy, and whiny, and a little clumsy, but that is the sound of San Francisco ferociously taking back its official instrument, and that is what the new accordion sounds like: unapologetically weird. [X]
The CSU Board of Trustees Finance Committee adopted a new support budget request for the 2010-11 to the state of California Tuesday afternoon.
The plan is described as a "recover and reinvest" budget and asks for a total of $884 million.
The board met in Long Beach, Calif., and was broadcast live via Internet.
In a press statement, California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed called it "a very ambitious budget."
The plan also calls for a $296 million to restore funding in higher education; a ten percent fee increase is also included.
Last week, CSU officials said they had cut 4,000 students for the fall 2009, and an expected 6,000 for the spring 2010.
CSU officials will now send the budget plan to the State Department of Finance.
The board also heard a student fee report for the 2009-10 academic year, which explained that the fee average of the CSU's is $4,893, and set aside 1/3 of the state university fees for financial aid.
Even with the significant fee increases, the CSU's still remain the lowest than all but one comparable institution, according to a finance committee member.
A Muni train derailed around 7:30 a.m. between Castro and Forest Hill stations on the outbound side, causing no injuries, said San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Judson True.
The second truck, the second set of wheels, of the second car of an L train derailed in the Twin Peaks Tunnel, and passengers were then transported by a light rail vehicle, True said.
He said that the cause of the accident might be a problem with the communication cable in that part of the tunnel, according to the SFMTA report.
Inbound service was not interrupted, but outbound trains only ran from Embarcadero to Castro stations, and West Portal Station and onwards. True said over a dozen shuttles were provided from Castro Station to West Portal Station, stopping at all the usual subway stops.
"We are doing everything to get people to work this morning," True said.
True said that the outbound service should resume today.
"We don't have any estimate now," True said, "but it will take a little while."
Several students were affected by the delays caused by the accident and complained about Muni's reliability.
"I come here from Vallejo every day. It's stressful," said Jasmine Neri, an English major. "You can't rely on public transportation and it's San Francisco so you can't just drive yourself around."
Neri, 19, was trying to get to a 9 a.m. Karate class but had to get on the F car at Powell Station, then take a shuttle bus from Castro Station to West Portal Station, then the regular M train to school.
A medical student from City College of San Francisco, John Gutzat, said he was probably going to miss his first class.
"Its just bodybuilding so it's nothing serious, but I only have three absences before I'm dropped," said the 20-year-old.
"I think it's bad for all the students because some people just know a specific route, and I think Muni should provide different options in case something like this happens again," said Holly Ly, a psychology major, who was trying to get to her 9:35 a.m. law class.
This is a story from [X]press Magazine.
The soldiers stand motionless, staring off across a grassy field. On the far side, a disconcerting mass of slimy insects line the horizon. A pair of dice drops into the center of the battle; one bounces astray and sends an armor-clad figure tumbling to the ground. He is unrattled, frozen in position, facing skyward. His rifle sights stay fixed toward blinding lights. Seconds later the fallen warrior passes into shadow as a large hand swoops down to return him among his fellow troops.
"It's more tangible," says Cameron Thurston, silhouetted high above the field. His eyes stare fixated across a table strewn with formations of a pocket-sized green and yellow army of miniature, handmade figurines; this is the table-top battle board game world of Warhammer 40,000.
On busy Divisadero St. in San Francisco, a shop called Gamescape lies tucked away from the surrounding crush of bar and restaurant-goers. The walls there are stacked with all kinds of board games, metallic figurines filling glass cases, collectible cards, and roleplaying books, with titles like Dungeon and Dragons, line the shelves. Locals flock to the shop all throughout the week to play on designated game days; Friday nights are reserved for Warhammer.
Known to most players simply as "40K", this miniaturized war game has been thriving in living rooms, garages, and the backrooms of game shops all over the world for the past 22 years. It came into being at Games Workshop, a British game company in Nottingham, England, by the hands of creator Rick Priestly, who set it in the 41st Century.
"The best way to explain it is: chess with toy soldiers," says Walter Denlinger, a Warhammer player since the game's 1987 debut. Each figure in 40K carries a point value determined by its strengths, abilities, and weaponry. Before the game starts, opposing sides agree on how big their battle will be, a small one being 500 points' worth of models, larger battles ranging past 2,000 -- which could end up with dozens of figures and vehicles being scattered across four-by-six foot tables -- with unique terrains set up by players before each game. It is very similar at its core to a chess game, with players planning and executing strategies. But the one difference is the power of dice. "You could make no bad moves, have the best units out there, but roll only ones and lose," says Denlinger, referring to how dice rolls determine countless actions in the game, from how far a soldier can move to how powerfully they attack. If players fail to roll the numbers they need, they have a good chance of getting crushed by their opponent.
Every newcomer to the 40K world selects a race, with names like Space Marines or Orks, into which they inevitably invest much time and money in order to create their own unique army.
"I play the Space Marines," says Thurston, adding, "...the genetically engineered super-soldiers -- basically humanity's finest defense, and mine are sworn to defeat our brethren corrupted by the dark forces of the world."
They are often bought as raw metal or plastic parts, having to be glued and hand painted to achieve a custom look, although pre-made figurines are available. Bill Alley, a local at the shop who started playing this past summer, is hooked. "I bought my friend's army out of this case here [at Gamescape] for $200, and started investing after that," recalls Alley. "There's always more stuff I want. I had to buy more to make the army the way I wanted it." Alley has since put around $800 into his new hobby.
The extent of 40K runs very deep; its multifaceted structure of art, strategy, storytelling, and chance pulls in gamers of different backgrounds, each drawn to different aspects. The shop has attracted a diverse and dedicated group. Thurston, 22, a native of Tennessee, is in the process of selling his car to get his electricity back on at his apartment, while his valuable Space Marine army remains intact regardless of its potential worth at online auction. Skylar Woodies, 23, has frequented the shop for the past 10 years and is now an employee of the establishment. He came to San Francisco from Connecticut, where he started messing around with 40K models in elementary school after seeing them in a comic shop. An older gentleman, a regular known as "Teacher Paul," is a calculus teacher at a private school in San Francisco. It's not uncommon to hear Teacher Paul calling out the percentages of a successful dice roll during games, before his opponents even get a chance to release a die.
"There are girls here, too," adds Kayt Ahnberg, the girlfriend of a male gamer, dispelling the common misconception of girl gamers, or lack thereof. Denlinger, 39, a married man with 3 and 5 year old daughters, even has his own studio in which he now makes and sells models to 40K enthusiasts. "My wife and kids are very supportive of my hobby and studio," says Denlinger, adding, "The fact that my commission work not only pays for my hobby, but adds some extra toward monthly expenses also helps." Smiles, handshakes, and hugs are ever-present throughout the night as the doors swing open and closed to welcome others who share a common interest.
In this wireless age, the image of a gamer has become that of a silhouetted body in the cool florescence of computer screens, closed off from the world, save an internet connection. Addictive role-playing games like World of Warcraft are known for drawing players for hours into worlds projected from circuits firing on computer processors. For the most part, artificial intelligence predetermines scripts and courses of action, but the world of Warhammer is a far different place. "I've had my computer game stint. I played the hell out of it, but I got to the point where I gave up World of Warcraft. Because at the end of the day it's all pixels -- a computer crashes and your stuff is gone," says Denlinger. "This is more of a social club, a beer-and-pretzel kind of night, hanging out with buddies."
A computer game player needs high-speed internet connections and a constant flow of capital to upgrade their gaming platforms to keep them from being dated. Denlinger's army of Orks still includes figures he painted in the late 80s. "With this," explains Denlinger, "you build it, you paint it, it's yours, and you have it."
"Unless you lose it on a bus," shouts Woodies from the front of the store, referring to when he left his Warhammer army on the seat of a bus. "Skylar, that's why you don't smoke weed anymore, right?" jokes Paul Bray, another local gamer.
Most people don't merely stumble into Warhammer; more often than not they're introduced by friends. Nate Campbell, 25, who is entering the culinary program at City College of San Francisco, got into 40K two years ago when his friend Curtis Henry, 25, who worked at a game shop at the time, let him borrow an army to play with. Now Campbell is always buying new models and thinking up new army formations. "You can go online and look up strategies, but this is pretty nerdy enough for me." But the thought of leading vast armies 40,000 years in the future isn't the first idea of a fun Friday night for many.
"It's not a game for everybody, because, 'Oh it's playing with toy soldiers, color your little toy army men then play with them.' It has a juvenile aspect, and there's definitely a suspension of disbelief," says Denlinger looking over his army. "I have Orks, that are supposedly sentient fungus beating on guys that are these genetically engineered super humans 40,000 years in the future. That takes a little bit of a leap from a logical perspective; some people are more literally minded, so you have to have an imaginative background for it to have appeal."
Gamescape has become a special place to let this imagination grow. It allows friends, most who only see each other this one night a week, to set aside the everyday stuff of normal life and meet up to have a good time. "Most everyone that comes in here is fairly normal, or somewhat normal for people who spend their Friday nights playing toy soldiers," says Denlinger.
"They have jobs, lives, kids, and mortgages. And they do have tans...some of them," adds Ahnberg.
"But there is truth behind every stereotype, like the massively overweight or underweight gamer, who's only melanin comes from the glare of a computer monitor," says Denlinger, adding, "but a buddy of mine had a great shirt with four points:
1. Yes, I do play roleplaying games.
2. No, I do not live in my parents' basement.
3. Yes, I have kissed a girl.
4. Yes, I could kick your ass."
Recently, SF State students and faculty have been battling with opposing perspectives on whether to participate or to reject recent mandates of the H1N1 vaccinations.
Minor changes in health policy, including the recent redefinition of pandemic by the World Health Organization, has individuals torn between protecting themselves and taking their chances against the H1N1 virus.
"There are people in high positions, within the medical system, who are standing forward and really solidly questioning what's really going on," said Kenn Burrows, professor and Director of the Holistic Health Learning Center. "And many people within the health care system are unaware of these issues."
He acknowledges that within the medical community, there is compliance and rejection of administering the H1N1 vaccine.
Earlier in the semester, faculty was advised to restructure their absentee policy in order to allow students to take the proper amount of time to recover from infections and to protect individuals on campus.
Swine Flu Fact Sheet
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 6,000 deaths from the H1N1 virus in over 200 countries since November 1, 2009.
- A CBS News study has shown that only 1%-2% of all reported swine flu cases in the U.S. are actually H1N1.
- As of July 15, 2009 public health offices were asked to stop reporting on outpatient cases of H1N1 and told only to report fatal or intensive care cases.
- The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has tallied swine flu cases in Ca. at 4,820 and H1N1 related deaths at 266 since October 31, 2009.
- The Public readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act defends vaccine-producing companies and government agencies against litigation concerning vaccine related injuries.
The CDPH has asked that anyone who may be experiencing influenza-like symptoms including sore throat, cough, fever, body aches or fatigue to follow these simple steps to help prevent the spread of H1N1.
-Wash your hands - Wash hands often with soap and warm water especially after being in a public place.
-Cover Your cough - Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.
-Stay At Home When You're Sick - Stay at home from school or work for at least a 24-hour period after fever.
For more information on the H1N1 virus please visit the following links and please be sure to listen to our podcast of an extended interview with SF State Holistic Health professor Kenn Burrows.
World Health Organization - http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/
Center for Disease Control and Prevention - http://www.cdc.gov/flu/swineflu/key_facts.htm
California Department of Public Health - http://www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/SwineInfluenza.aspx
CBS Special Report - http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/10/21/cbsnews_investigates/main5404829.shtml
Students in Service, an SF State AmeriCorps program, has placed first among 89 competing schools for the 2008-2009 academic year.
By enrolling 108 students, each earning up to $2,300 in scholarships, SIS made number one for the first time. The program has been in California and at SF State for eight years and is funded by the Corporation for National and Community service.
It provides students with alternative ways to receive class credit, give back to underserved communities, and earn money for their education.
"The SSI program is a blessing to me, because although I have six internships and one job, I know that all the experiences are going to benefit me later down the line, when I go for a job in my profession," nursing student Jennifer Darden, 26, said.
The SF State senior said the program is doubly helpful because it offers a program where students like herself can complete required service hours and get rewarded.
"I was going to volunteer my services regardless, but to know that I can get reimbursed in a way for it is wonderful," she said.
"I did a lot of classroom presentations, looked at class schedules, and looked at what departments I wanted to cover," said Adam Calmenson, program coordinator at the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, which oversees the program.
"The SIS program's objective is to integrate the resources of SF State to help various underserved communities," Calmenson said.
The program coordinator for three years, Calmenson said his approach this year was to do more outreach to as many classes as possible, especially those that require students to meet a large amount of volunteer hours.
Although he focused on such classes, Calmenson said the program is open to all majors, and students can volunteer even if it is not required for class credit.
Students in the program enroll in 300 to 900 volunteer hours, to be completed within two years. At the completion of their hours, they receive scholarship awards up to $2,300 based on how many hours they chose to complete.
Once enrolled, students are allowed to volunteer their services any place they choose, such as schools, counseling centers, hospitals and after-school programs.
According to Calmenson, students may only use the scholarship award on tuition, student loans or school supplies.
Mariya Taher, 26, a graduate student studying social work, has been in SIS for two years. She is completing her required internships through the program and said it's a wonderful experience because it teaches people values and compassion.
Last year, she enrolled in 300 service hours through the program. She served in Mentoring for Success, an after-school program at middle schools for at-risk youth.
"We met outside of the school and did a collage about things that we liked, which I felt gave us a better bonding," Taher said.
Taher's assurance of the positive impact she made on the sixth-grader came at the end of her volunteering, when the girl's mother called and informed her on how much of a difference Taher made in her daughter's life.
This year Taher is focusing on serving women suffering from domestic violence, immigrant women who need help adjusting and refugees.
On the other hand, Darden is currently volunteering at the OMI Family Resource Center, where she provides the community with information on asthma and how to control it.
Darden said the program has helped her with school tremendously. She recommends the program to her friends in the nursing departments of various schools.
"They get excited every time I tell them about the program," she said.
To learn more about the program, visit http://www.sfsu.edu/~cacc/programs/sis.
The Coalition Against the Recreation Center, a student group, has gathered 1,730 signatures in a counter-petition that seeks to keep plans for the proposed recreation center from moving forward.
Signature-gathering for the counter-petition began Oct. 19, one week after the Associated Students, Inc. began circulating a petition in support of the center. CARC turned in their petition on Nov. 6, ASI's deadline.
Both petitions are currently undergoing a verification process through the registrar to ensure that the names and identification numbers are accurate. CARC members oppose the current petition process and want to require more student input on an issue that affects students.
Hard copies of the petitions and an attached letter of complaint were sent to SF State President Robert Corrigan, Vice President of Student Affairs Penny Saffold, and ASI Business Office Executive Director Peter Koo. Electronic copies were sent to the California State University board of trustees, members of the Student Fee Advisory Committee and other entities on campus.
"Everyone who really stepped up to canvass really pulled through," said 24-year-old anthropology senior Krystale Triggs, who helped collect signatures.
CARC members collectively drafted their petition, which stated an opposition to the proposed Recreation and Wellness Center, discussed the cost and estimated completion date and stated that the signer says no to the current recreation center proposal and to unnecessary fee hikes.
According to Triggs, roughly eight to 10 people went around campus gathering signatures for the counter-petition throughout the course of the petition process. Pocket funds gathered in a hat at one of CARC's weekly meetings were used to pay for copying, scanning and binding the petitions.
"It was really, really hard and demoralizing at first," Triggs said. "So many people didn't want to sign it because their jobs are at stake, because they work within the student center. But one day, after I spent three hours petitioning, I felt empowered -- who else is out here telling people what's happening?"
Some CARC members were disappointed that ASI allocated roughly $2,000 worth in prizes. The prizes, including a PlayStation, camera, and movie tickets, were used as incentives for volunteers to gather the highest number of signatures.
Triggs said that it doesn't make sense for ASI to be spending $2,000 on prizes and making plans for a $93 million recreation and wellness center when there are other student resources with tight budgets that could be using the money.
But Raul Amaya, ASI's vice president of university affairs, said ASI funding should be a secondary source, and that organizations seeking monetary support should be self-sufficient.
Amaya, also chair of the student center governing board and a psychology senior, added that the $2,000 came out of ASI's board allowance, not out of organizational funding. He said he Board of Directors could spend that money however they want.
Communication studies sophomore Amrit Dhaliwal, 19, said that she was able to get signatures on the counter-petition by showing students the informational recreation center cards distributed by ASI, which had the proposed fee increases and the estimated opening date on.
"I'm going to be giving about a grand by the time it's built," Dhaliwal said.
"I don't want to be paying for something that I more than likely won't be able to take a part in," said 18-year-old broadcast and electronic communication arts freshman Michael Payton, who contributed to CARC by petitioning and using his skills in amateur filmmaking to put together a video for CARC's Web site.
"They're going to propose a $30 fee increase, that's as significant as groceries," Payton said.
According to Nan Broadbent from University communications, the verification process, to be conducted by the registrar, is going to be long. The large number of signatures collected, and the fact that complete identification numbers were not used in the counter-petition will delay results.
Broadbent said there is no set date for when the results will be made available. ASI would not disclose the number of signatures they collected because they have not been verified.
From the outside, the HazMat house in Oakland (which serves as a place for punks to live and play music) looks like any other warehouse.
But once a week you can find piles of hula hoops, bowling pins and tennis balls in a corner of the house's large central room. As music pumps from a stereo, Slim Chance the clown and his girlfriend Wunder Sqrrrl can be seen stretching, juggling and riding unicycles.
It's all part of what Slim dubs a "circus skillshare," where anyone can come learn to perform acrobatic feats, or just juggle a few balls.
The skillshare is part of the East Bay Free Skool, which helps coordinate several free classes like the one Slim Chance and Wunder sqrrrl help run. Students in the Free Skool can choose from courses like gardening, beer-brewing and radical parenting.
The classes, according to the East Bay Free Skool's website, provide a way for people to "share knowledge in a non-commercial setting to strengthen community."
Bryce Bugby, an Oakland resident and one of the attendees at the circus skillshare, said it was helpful for anyone looking to bolster their acrobatic or circus skills, in addition to being a nice place to socialize.
"Any kind of routine people can rely on for intimacy in a way that's positive, something that helps them learn things is good," said Bugby. "It's good to have friends that I go do nerdy things with."
Slim Chance said there was no one type of person who came to the skillshare, with people between the ages of 4 and 70 taking part.
"I've seen little kids come here and learn things that just blew their parents away," he said. "We love to see that. People just beaming with pride at their children, which every child should feel."
"And adult," he added, smiling.
To find out more information about the circus skillshare class and where it meets, send Slim Chance an e-mail at email@example.com.
To learn more about the East Bay Free Skool, visit their website at http://eastbayfreeskool.wikia.com.
After a four-year struggle, the Student Kouncil of Intertribal Nations is in its last phase of putting together a mural that will not only represent their club, but American Indians throughout the Bay Area and SF State community.
Now, after the prolonged process of piecing together the artistic idea, President Robert Corrigan gave formal approval Nov. 3 to have SKIN's mural, "We Are Still Here," be the last permanent mural placed in the Cesar Chavez Student Center, according to Dianna Baldwin, president and co-chair of SKINS, the American Indian student organization on campus.
The unveiling for the mural is set for Nov. 20 in the student center's West Plaza from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The celebration will continue in Jack Adams Hall from 3 - 9 p.m. that day.
On Nov. 17, SKIN will have a live performance from indigenous-focused band, Audio Pharmacy, in Malcolm X plaza from 12 to 1 p.m., to get student involvement for the unveiling ceremony.
Baldwin, a 23-year-old senior, mentioned that after three years on the mural committee, she was finally happy to see the project succeed, in spite of some pitfalls in the organizational process.
Baldwin said the high turnover of committee chairs made meetings practically impossible.
"I don't think they were prepared to actually handle all the work that was needed to get the mural put into place," she said.
Samuel Brown, 21, chair of the finance committee for the student center governing board, agreed that a lack of organization or completely solid idea for the mural led to the project's postponement.
Over time, the committee slowly put together bits and pieces of their ideas on the mural, but never had the chance to fully execute them in an academic year.
This time, Brown said the plan was well mapped out and happened remarkably quickly because the group got together with Jackie Mendez, a graduate student in the College of Ethnic Studies and chair of the mural committee.
Mendez, 27, solidified the thoughts and ideas of past members of the mural committee to get the project complete.
Mendez said one thing that helped get the process moving smoothly was the energy that the mural committee put into it. She described it as "amazing."
"The student center governing board saw a couple of the murals in the past, but once we saw it in its most recent form, everyone fell in love with it and we all unanimously voted to approve it," Brown said.
In order to find the right artist, the mural committee distributed publicity packets titled, "A Call for Proposal."
In the packets, potential mural artists were asked for their biographies, professional experiences, and examples of work.
The committee eventually narrowed it down to two artists -- Marc Nicely and Larry Sillaway.
The artists were picked because, according to Baldwin, Nicely already had an idea of how he wanted to do the mural, and Sillaway, who is from the Yurok tribe of Northern California, had good weaving designs that were put into the mural.
The mural will try to represent the continued presence of American Indian people in the Bay Area and SF State, along with their continued struggles.
"They are not only alive in the community, their culture is still strong," Brown said.
Although this is a really important project for SKIN and the Associated Students, Inc., Baldwin said it has great importance to her as well.
"I've been working on this for the last three years, so for me to see this happen the last semester which I graduate is exciting; in some ways it's even better than receiving my diploma, because I feel like I am leaving a piece of me behind," she said.
Whirlwind Wheelchairs, a nonprofit organization at SF State that's building devices for disabled people in developing countries, received a $4.8 million grant late in October, the largest in the charity's history.
The founder and chief engineer, Ralf Hotchkiss, has worked for 30 years to establish small local manufacturing shops in places like Africa, Nicaragua and Asia, for people with disabilities who need assistance.
"Because of our extensive work in the developing world, we have a wide network of relationships with various disabled persons organizations," said Keoke King, who wrote his master's thesis on Whirlwind and who works closely with Hotchkiss, helping to market the organization.
Whirlwind has set up small shops in dozens of countries, often employing wheelchair users in producing the wheelchairs. This grant will help them build on previous work over the last 20 years with a goal of helping people achieve maximum independence in their societies.
According to the World Health Organization, 20 million people in the world live with disabilities and without devices to assist them. Of the 20 million, 70 percent of them live in rural environments.
"We know people in all of these places that will help us understand the best ways to get the devices people need out to them in the most effective way," King said.
"There is a lot of room for students to get involved," said Mickey Kay, a student taking Engineering 620 through the College of Extended Learning to learn how to maintain his own wheelchair. "It's a nonprofit and they always need marketing and outreach."
The first phase of the research project is to extensively review the distribution methods for assistive technology, including wheelchairs, hearing aids, canes and prosthetics, in other countries. In later phases Whirlwind will conduct demonstration projects which will implement and test their model.
"We are actually carrying out SF State's social values and applying them to real life," King said.
Whirlwind's RoughRider wheelchair design has been recognized in the book, "Design Revolution: 100 Products that Empower People" and has been built to survive the toughest of terrains, according to Hotchkiss.
The class meets on Tuesday evenings in the Science building to weld parts and draft blueprints for designs. Using technology like treadmills with built-in bumps, the students test wheelchairs built in the lab and chairs sent in from other locations.
Laura Hunt, 23, a senior in cultural anthropology studies, is taking the class as part of her interest in humanities. "We are a diverse group of people moving toward the same goal," Hunt said. "And I think that mobility is a human right."
To learn more visit http://www.whirlwindwheelchair.org.
As SF State alumnus 1st Lt. Willis Su left Iraq, he felt relaxed and relieved. And when his plane landed in Topeka, Kan. on Oct. 4, he felt like he was walking taller.
Su is currently one of thousands of soldiers who has spent some time fighting in Iraq and has now returned home, for good. Through a series of phone and e-mail interviews, Su was able to talk with [X]press about his experiences in Iraq.
Known as "Lt-izzle" by the young soldiers in his brigade, Su spent the last year in western Baghdad, where he led and conducted combat patrols with two to three missions a day during the first six months and working to improve Iraq's civil infrastructure during the last six months.
Su, 32, immigrated to San Francisco from Taiwan with his parents and older sister in 1987. He attended Abraham Lincoln High School and was part of the Outdoor Club, which brought students together to enjoy outdoor activities. Former club adviser and current SF State biology professor Holly Harris remembered him as a good student who got along with everyone and once brought home a reptile from a group camping trip.
Su attended SF State and graduated in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in biology with a concentration in microbiology. Su worked in a laboratory at Genentech, Inc. in South San Francisco as a research associate before joining the Army in 2006.
Su never imagined himself joining the Army before Sept. 11, but he became attached to the news of what was going on in the Middle East and wanted to be involved in national affairs.
He is currently in Fort Riley, Kansas, where his army unit, the 2nd Brigade of 1st Infantry Division, is stationed. In November, he will return to San Francisco to see his family for the first time in over a year. Su plans to leave the Army in January 2010.
[X]press: What did you learn at SF State and how did that help you while you were in the Army?
Willis Su: It was the most fun I had in school, as I had a chance to work with a very cohesive and tight-knit group of people within my major. Working in a small study group within my major helped me the most in terms of adapting to the Army life, since being a soldier and an Army leader is about working with and motivating people to achieve a certain goal.
[X]: How has the war changed your perspective on issues you have faced as a student?
WS: I've come to appreciate the stability that we have in the States and all the institutions that are in place for students to succeed in school, and it is stuff I believe most people take for granted.
[X]: How can students help, other than by just caring about what is going on in the news?
WS: People read a lot about what's going on in the news, but they don't give it a second thought. Students that are genuinely interested in taking action to help can either contact non-governmental organizations to donate aid packages to soldiers, or better yet, they can donate aid packages for our government to donate to the needy in the areas where the soldiers are fighting.
[X]: What did you say to your family when you called them from Iraq?
WS: I'd call my family about every week and I usually ask how everything is at home, and I let them know of any significant events that had occurred to me in the past few days. I felt that it was important for me to be honest with them about my experiences, so that they don't have any false expectations of what I am going through. My parents were worried about my safety, but they understood why I was doing it and they know I have my own goals.
[X]: Were you scared knowing you could die any moment?
WS: I had a few moments when I was scared, a little less scared then most people. I guess it's the kind of thing that we all find out about ourselves when we are actually in that situation. Also, being near a group of capable soldiers that will help each other through anything helps.
[X]: What has been the most rewarding for you as a solider?
WS: The rewards are genuinely too numerous to mention, but first and foremost is to be in the exclusive company of the less than one percent of our country that sacrifices their time and emotions -- and sometimes lives -- for something other than money.
[X]: Is there any memory you have that has been with you since you were in Iraq? Why?
WS: I remember the first attack my section came under. We had suffered some wounded, but I am tremendously glad everyone came home alive. I think about that moment often, and in some ways am still in shock of what happened, and probably always will be. It was the first time I experienced something like that. In the five attacks that happened in my section, I was involved with three of the attacks.
[X]: Do you think U.S. soldiers will ever leave Iraq?
WS: I believe there will always be soldiers in Iraq to defend our diplomatic efforts that are working with the Iraqis. However, I observe that we are withdrawing responsibly at a pace set forth by the Commander in Chief.
[X]: What will you do after you leave the Army?
WS: I may or may not go back to school. But I plan on switching to a career in law enforcement or other similar public services, like being a police officer. And not only to use some of the skills I have gained from the military, but also to continue serving the community in a way that is meaningful to me.
Around this time last year, California State University students and administrators were just beginning to realize how deeply budget cuts were going to affect education.
Now after a semester that introduced furloughs and fee increases, the CSU system is continuing to struggle.
"Since then, things have gone from bad to worse," said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed in a teleconference call with student media Nov. 10. "We ended up having to cut $564 million, a 17 percent cut. That's unheard of."
CSU officials are submitting a budget request for the 2010-11 year to the board of trustees for approval next week.
Erik Fallis, CSU Media Relations Specialist for the Office of the Chancellor, called the request a "critical recovery" and a "reinvestment in the CSU budget for next year."
In the fall 2009, enrollment will be reduced by about 4,000; in spring 2010, it will be reduced by 6,000. These reductions come coupled with the greatest surge in applicants that Reed has ever seen, especially from students looking to transfer to a CSU school from a community college.
For the fall 2010, CSU received more than 266,000 applications. There was a 127 percent rise in community college students applying to CSU schools and a 32 percent rise in undergraduate applications, according to Reed.
"Denying students admission and entry into the CSU system is one of the worst things that can be done, especially during a recession," Reed said.
But the reductions were necessary to keep the quality of education, Reed added.
CSU colleges are going to accept all high school students from the local community. Reed gave the example of Cal State Long Beach accepting students from Long Beach high schools, but not accepting as many students from Sacramento.
"We will be asking for $300 million just in state general funds increase, and an additional $283 million to help us keep our faculty and staff together," Reed said. "Will we get that? No. But I believe we need to ask for it. (We need to ask) the governor and the legislature to make higher education a higher priority."
Hundreds of Twilight saga fans came for a promotional "New Moon" cast signing, which was hosted by Hot Topic at Stonestown Galleria Monday evening.
Actors Kellan Lutz and Ashley Greene, who play Emmett and Alice Cullen respectively in the new film "New Moon," were the main stars of the event.
The film comes out Nov. 20.
Fans were required to have a special wrist bracelet to meet the actors and receive an autographed poster.
Hot Topic employees, Aminta Vasquez and Kaela Perlee, were both excited about the event.
Vasquez explains that extra precautions were being taken in order to maintain a safe environment for the public.
"We are expecting 3,000 people total to come out for the signing, and Q&A session," Vasquez said before the event started.
Stonestown mall security officers were also aiding in to making sure the event ran smoothly.
"I hope that we actually get a chance to meet them before everyone else, it will just be fun to do the event though," Perlee said before the two stars arrived.
For fans who were not able to obtain a wristband, there was the option of going to a public question and answer forum behind the mall's large parking lot. Fans from all ages came out for the event, some there as early as 7:30 a.m.
The Twilight film series phenomenon has blossomed off based on the bestselling book series from Stephanie Meyer.
Many of the fans who came out for the event admitted to have reading each of the four books in the series multiple times.
"We talk about how we wish it was real, " said Autumn Mayberry of her and her fellow Twilight loving friends.
Mayberry admits that she was unable to obtain a wristband for the signing, but is eager to at least see Lutz and Greene during the question and answer forum.
The event lasted nearly two and half-hours. Both Lutz and Greene answered questions submitted from the audience and they also took time to shake hands and physically greet many of the fans.
August Coppola, the former dean of the College of Creative Arts died Oct.27 of a heart attack in Los Angeles at age 75.
He was the father of actor Nicolas Cage and the older brother of film director Francis Ford Coppola. His parents were composer Carmine and lyricist Italia Coppola.
Coppola was also a literary scholar, film executive and advocate for the arts. He served as the dean at SF State from 1984 to 1992. During his duration at SF State, Coppola pushed for the existence of the Fine Arts building which resulted in the creation of studios and offices for Arts, Cinema, Dance and Design and Industry.
The August Coppola Theater in the Fine Arts building was named after him in September 1997 for his work on the building.
"I remember at the dedication naming ceremony, we played a film created by us called August in September, which consisted of excerpts of films August had done," said Jim Goldner, cinema professor.
In a press statement, SF State President Robert Corrigan called him "a singularly creative leader" and "true friend of the university."
"He reminded us all of why the arts matter," Corrigan said. "And to be fully human, we must risk following our imaginations to their very limits."
Goldner, who has been a professor in the cinema department since 1963, said that Coppola help recreate the cinema department.
"When I first came into the department we were just the Film department, but then it changed when August suggested that we become the Cinema department because the title was broader," Goldner said.
Goldner mentioned that although he and Coppola's brother Francis were classmates at UC Los Angeles in 1961, he did not know Coppola until he became the dean.
"We found out that we lived in the same neighborhood, and I remember running into him and Nicolas at a Japanese restaurant in Noe Valley," Goldner said.
Although he did not know Coppola personally, Joseph McBride, associate professor of the cinema department, said that he has done a lot of research on Coppola as he had always been interested in his life.
"Francis always said that August was smarter, and that his creative drive was to rival him," McBride said.
Coppola is also survived by his sons Christopher and Marc and six grandchildren.
Nineteen students were awarded the SF State Alumni Association Scholarship during a dinner event at the Seven Hills Conference Center on the evening of Nov. 5.
The scholarships were part of the association scholarship and the students were chosen out of 115 applicants, based on their GPA and written essay.
"It's hard to pick because there are so many good ones," said Rita Harrington, a member of the Scholarship Association Committee.
Around 60 people attended the event and amongst friends and family members the students were praised for their efforts as community givers.
"If somebody gives you money to do something you must respond doing something good for the community," said Julio Martinez, who received the Graduate Scholarship and wants to become a public defender.
Jaylene Shelby, a senior and a Spanish and international relations student was grateful for receiving the Senior Scholarship.
"The money helps because I pay for school myself," said Shelby who plans on taking a bilingual teaching credential and wants to inspire kids to empower their aspirations.
Theater art student Allison Combs, was awarded the Alum of the Year scholarship award, worth $2,500.
Karen Johnson-Brennan, a member of the Alumni Association and a nursing professor for 31 years, said that the student body at SF State is exceptional and "these kids are doing great things."
Maya Fallaha, an international relations graduate was accompanied by her husband, also received the Graduate Scholarship award, worth $1,000.
"I'm grateful and honored and I appreciate the recognition," said Fallaha to the crowd.
Alternates-Awarded Certificate of Achievement was also given to 16 other students.
The alumni association was formally organized in 1936. Its main mission was to recruit members and to organize class reunions. Alumni donations and fundraisers provided the funds for the scholarships and is overseen by the University Development office.
More than a hundred people gathered in Knuth Hall Thursday evening to listen to suggestions on how to make California better.
"Something is broken and needs fixing," said Gerald Eisman, director of the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement.
The town hall meeting in the College of Creative Arts building included five speakers and each one gave their advice on what Californians can do to improve the state.
SF State senior Honora Keller provided a student's perspective for the budget cuts as well as supporting an idea for creating more money for higher education in California.
One suggestion Keller made was a bill called AB 656, which supports oil extraction. Currently California is the third largest oil production in the country but has no tax for oil.
Fred Silva, a senior fiscal policy advisor, explained that the state needed to turn its current annual budget into a multi-year budget.
"We need budgeting on more than a one year basis," said political science major Will Carlisle, who agrees with Silva. "On a year budget were not looking toward the future, a five year budget would be great."
Jim Wunderman, president and chief executive officer of the Bay Area Council, blames the people running things in Sacramento.
"Sacramento is not running with the interest of you and our businesses," Wunderman said.
Rebecca Gonzales from the California Budget Project explains that the budget itself needs to be fixed, such as the Three-Strike Law. It requires that a criminal who is convicted of three serious crimes on separate occasions be given a mandatory extended incarceration. According to the California's Legislative Analyst's Office Web site, the average cost of an inmate per year is $47,000.
Gonzales also explains that the state has shifted from relying on taxed goods to relying on untaxed services.
"It is important for our university community to become aware, people don't understand that disinvesting of higher education has been happening since the 1980's," said Amy Conley, SF State child and adolescent development professor.
Music group Hanson performed in front of Malcolm X Plaza the afternoon of Nov. 5 to bring attention to issues around the world.
The American rock 'n' roll band, made up of brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson, started in The Village at Centennial Square by having the crowd to take off their shoes and walk barefoot with them to the plaza.
Since 2007, Hanson has partnered with shoe company TOMS doing "The Walk," where they walk for one mile before giving a concert in an attempt to fight AIDS and poverty in Africa as well a number of other causes. For every person who participates, Hanson will donate $1 to these efforts.
"We're raising money to aid those that are less fortunate," Taylor Hanson said. "This is not an awareness walk, this is an action walk."
Hundreds of SF State students screamed and hollered as they walked with the band one mile from The Village to the plaza.
"It's a great opportunity to speak to people and do something together," Taylor Hanson said as he set out on the walk. "Even though there's a million causes, a student can have an active role in creating change."
Youngest brother Zac Hanson echoed his older brother's message of hope to change the unfortunate conditions in particular parts of the world.
"We don't need a government or nonprofit to reach out," Zac Hanson said. "We got all the tools we need. Walks are just a way to provide people with a way to start."
Not only did SF State students decided to join in on the march for a good cause, fans from all over also joined in.
"This is our second walk," said Lauren Connelly, 19, who attends City College of San Francisco. "We did the Petaluma walk last year. It's a great cause."
When Hanson took the stage on the plaza, they performed three songs and they closed it with the crowd favorite "Where's the Love." Fans, however, were disappointed when the group did not perform their hit song "MmmBop."
But Allie Berger, 20, was able to get Zac Hanson's signature on her sweatshirt and said it was "The biggest day in my entire life."
Hanson's next stop will be at UC Los Angeles on Nov. 7, followed by the University of San Diego on Nov. 8.
Peter Schumann, now a world leader in puppetry, returned to SF State on Oct. 30 after 41 years to celebrate his work in radical theater and to speak to theater students about politics and theater.
More than 30 people gathered in the Little Theater inside the Creative Arts building to listen to Schumann give a song/lecture, "The Paper Mache Religion," about his art, using his fiddle. Schumann stood alone on the small stage, strumming his fiddle back and forth and loudly projecting words of his idea of religion.
Back in 1968, SF State hosted the Radical Theater Festival, featuring artists specializing in traditional forms of theater including puppetry, mime and storytelling.
"For the festival, we brought together companies that had similar ideas about outdoor, non-commercial, politically committed theatrical productions," said Ron Davis, founder of the San Francisco Mime Troupe and participant in the 1968 festival.
Schumann started his company, Bread & Puppet Theater, almost 38 years ago as a way to speak up against capitalism and bring awareness to political and religious conflicts around the world. Past performances include puppets representing the Buddhist monks' self-immolation protests to the Vietnam War and Palestinian families suffering in the Gaza Strip.
"I heard about him from some of my friends and we thought it would be interesting to come and see his form of theater," said Jessica Lafever, 17, a freshman majoring in theatre arts. "It's different than most theater pieces, the way he speaks through movement."
Schumann has been interested in puppets since he was a boy putting on puppet shows for soldiers in the refugee camp in war-torn Germany, where he lived with his family for many years. When he moved to a farm in Glover, Vermont, he started making bread in brick ovens and began building a barn full of puppets, leading to the idea for the Bread and Puppet Theater.
"I decided a long time ago that I wanted to make theater from the things that we make," Schumann said. "Meaning we live off of what we make, from clay in the river to make puppets, to bread and vegetables from the farm."
When asked about his use of masks and puppets to tell stories of political issues in countries around the world, Schumann described his love for art and distaste for media like cinema that make him embarrassed for the voyeurism that is used to display emotion in films.
"For me, sculpture is a big vein into people's insides, much more than using facial acrobatics," Schumann said.
To learn more, watch Schumann perform "The Paper Mache Religion" on YouTube.
For its focus on social and environmental responsibility education, SF State's master of business administration program has been ranked 23rd in the United States and 29th in the world by the Aspen Institute's Center for Business Education.
The 60-year-old Aspen Institute provides business educators with classroom resources to include the ideas of corporate profitability and social value into their teaching.
Beyond Grey Pinstripes is a biennial ranking of business schools based on their commitment to integrating social and environmental ethics into the curriculum.
"This focus on ethics and sustainability also supports the social justice goals of SF State as a whole," College of Business Dean Nancy Hayes said.
The Sustainable SF State Web site says the University's mission is to "educate students, faculty and staff to embrace the values and principles of sustainability ... integrating them into the University's planning and policies, academics, operations, student activities and community engagement." Sustainable SF State is part of the facilities department, and oversees the universities sustainability initiatives.
SF State is up nine spaces from its 2007 global ranking and is one of only two state schools in the top 50.
Professor of management Murray Silverman said SF State is able to compete with the other top-ranked schools, which benefit from bigger budgets, by "bootstrapping it," stretching the department's funds as far as possible.
"We'd even be higher if we had the dollars to support the research and the curriculum development that other schools do," Silverman said.
Even working with a state university budget ,whose purse strings are even tighter thanks to state budget cuts, the College of Business has been able to take its focus on social and environmental responsibility from a single required class on business and society, introduced 25 years ago, to an MBA emphasis in sustainable business.
"In terms of what we offer our students we're really doing great," Silverman said. "Now we need to reach out and provide more access to the business community and get more involved."
Just in time for this year's ranking announcement, the College of Business kicked off its fourth annual business ethics week.
Along with guest speakers and special presentations, all of the business courses focus on issues of ethics and sustainability during the week.
"Within the classrooms of all College of Business classes, there should be some introduction, by faculty, of ethical or sustainable issues related to their discipline," said Assistant Professor Denise Kleinrichert.
The College of Business also sponsored two events open to all students and faculty. One was a panel discussion with a representative from Bay Area company Genentech, where eight college of business student organizations prepared questions relevant to their area of study.
And Tim Smith, founder of All About the Future which provides sustainable business services to companies, spoke at SF State's downtown campus about sustainable strategic initiatives.
Students have been collecting signatures on a petition supporting the proposed Recreation and Wellness Center since Oct. 12, but uninformed students are a constant concern on both sides of the issue.
The Student Fee Advisory Committee decided early this semester that a petition process would be the method used to consult California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed and SF State President Robert A. Corrigan on whether or not to go through with plans for the recreation center.
"It's hard to get people out to vote," said liberal studies junior and ASI Representative Vanessa Amaya, 21. "Some people are apathetic to it. They don't want to take the time to inform themselves."
Amaya said that they are trying to collect 6,000 signatures in total. She said that through this petition process, they have additional time to further explain the proposed recreation center by holding events, going around campus and speaking to individuals on the matter.
Petitioning will continue through Nov. 6.
Once the signatures are collected, the Student Fee Advisory Committee will have to verify the names and identification numbers on the petition and make sure it passes the criteria for being a campus-wide initiative.
If it passes, the petition will go to Corrigan, who will advise CSU Chancellor Reed, who has the final say on whether the recreation center will be constructed.
Amaya said that the various events that have been put on by ASI, such as the Oct. 29 drive-in movie, were used to create a platform to speak to students on the proposed recreation center.
"This is a bad time in general to ask students for money," said Mike Wong, faculty advisor for SF State's Club Taekwondo. "I'd like to have assurances that they've looked at all their options for funding."
Club Taekwondo Coach Master William Dewart is concerned over the uncertainty of guaranteeing alumni full access to the recreation center.
"If you're a student now, you will have to start paying for this facility immediately and you will have graduated by the time the facility will have come into existence," Dewart said. "I don't think it's enough to tell students today that they're thinking about giving them access to these new facilities."
ASI vice president of University affairs and chairman of the Student Center Governing Board Raul Amaya, a psychology senior, mentioned the Cesar Chavez Student Center, which was paid for by students who had graduated by the time it was built. He would like to see alumni have access to the recreation center if it is built but cannot guarantee anything.
"Nothing is set in stone," Raul Amaya, Vanessa Amaya's brother, said. "If you paid into the process you can get a certain membership. We would appreciate what they've done for SF State."
Raul Amaya said they can't go over details like alumni access until it has already been decided to follow through with building the recreation center. Ultimately, he said it would be up to future ASI members.
"We've made it very clear that alumni would benefit from it," said Raul Amaya, 25. "It would give more notoriety to the school and increase the value of the school."
Margo Sara Krindel, 21, an accounting senior, doesn't want to sign the petition because she will have graduated before the fees will go into effect.
"I'd be pledging somebody else's money if I signed it," Krindel said. "And I don't think that's fair."
Some students are conflicted over spending more money while the school is suffering from budget cuts and pushing back graduation dates due to the economy.
"Building a recreation center seems like the farthest thing from a logical decision concerning how to spend the school's money," said 21-year-old English sophomore Heather Watrous.
Raul Amaya discussed concerns some students have about SF State catering more to wealthy kids through the recreation center and raising student fees, but disagreed with this argument.
"I'm from the Bay Area and right now I'm renting a room that's in a living room and I sleep on a couch - that's my bed," said Raul Amaya.
"It's not just for rich kids, it's for the benefit of all students, rich or poor, who truly don't have the extra money to waste and go out. It's an investment because they'll have somewhere safe to go if they don't want to be at home or go spend money."
The fog had just started to break when Emma Bautista and Ray Victoria, two SF State janitors, were finishing their morning shift cleaning restrooms and straightening classrooms.
As students were arriving to a clean and tidy campus no one seemed to take notice of the people in charge of keeping it that way.
"We are the people that serve you in your restrooms and classrooms but we are not the people getting increases," Bautista said. "Now with the budget being a problem we were just cut 10 percent."
The California State University Employees Union is comprised of five different units on campus that include health care workers, groundskeepers, administration staff, custodians and other campus laborers outside of faculty.
"Among all of the bargaining units, Unit 5 (custodians) is the one that never gets any decent increase," said Bautista, a Unit 5 member.
Bautista started working at SF State in 1995, recalling that the pay increase has always been around two percent for Unit 5 workers while other units receive upward of 10 percent increases.
"With the constant salary mismanagement and the ten percent budget cut it's like taking away everything I have saved since I have been here," Bautista said.
The process of dispersing CSU funding begins after the proposals for units are submitted but what is given back to the bargaining table every year is much less than was asked for.
At that point it is a matter of how the money is going to be used and what salaries are given.
"When there is an increase, we are at the lowest scale but when there is a decrease we are cut across the board," Victoria said.
Unit 5 was also asked to vote on furlough days under the impression that it would prevent people from losing their jobs. When the vote in favor of furloughs passed, of the 67 people in Unit 5, 11 people were laid-off.
"I am a person that likes to keep my cars tuned up and grocery shop at the start of each week and now I can't," Bautista said sadly. "If another furlough comes we will not survive."
The CSUEU has joined in coalition with other campus organizations, like the California Faculty Association, to call for a stop to further cuts. They have been one of the quietest groups this year in terms of protesting.
"A lot of the Unit 5 people and even some of Unit 7, the lower-paid people, work second jobs so you can't expect them to be out here at rallies," said Russell Kilday-Hicks, the former VP of the CSUEU San Francisco branch.
The imbalance in increases has been tolerated with little public protest from the unit until recently.
The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge reopened Monday morning after almost a week of being closed.
Caltrans Spokesman Bart Ney said in a press conference Monday morning that the bridge repairs passed the final testing, which included vibration and truck tests.
"All tests went fine," Ney said. "We passed all tests with flying colors."
The bridge was closed on Oct. 27 evening after a cable fell apart on the upper deck of the bridge. The parts that fell were part of the emergency repair that delayed the bridge from opening during the Labor Day weekend.
RiPpLe, a new campus group sponsored by SF State's Housing and Residential Services but run by students, kicked off its first event Sunday, giving students who live on campus a place to come together and create their own fun.
A small group of students, with plastic cups and white t-shirts in hand, gathered in the Cantina at Mary Ward Hall for a night of tie-dying and free smoothies.
Senior Keir Johnson, who came up with the idea, hopes the event will evolve into a real collaboration among students in "creating good vibing events."
"It's creating a canister for different parties to come and interact and collaborate in a different way," Johnson said. "It can be pretty much anything we want it to be. The whole idea is to play."
Johnson's partner in setting up Sunday's event, Rick De La Torre, the Associated Students, Inc Creative Arts representative, thinks RiPpLe has the potential to bring a missing element back to SF State.
"The college of creative arts got interested in this because one of our goals is to build a sense of community," De La Torre said. "We need to bring the community feeling back to SF State."
Johnson and De La Torre kept the evening relaxed and simple, and the free smoothies seemed to be a success with students.
Jennifer Hansen, 19, who lives in The Towers at Centennial Square, likes the idea of having something new to do on Sunday nights.
"Sundays are a good night to have it, gives us a nice break from homework," Hansen said.
Although the turnout was small, De La Torre was happy with how the night went.
"I was pleased with the turnout and that they were actually excited about what we are doing and they participated and contributed," De La Torre said.
At the end of the evening, students filled out surveys, provided by Johnson, asking for their opinion on how to spread the word and things they'd like to see included in future events.
There are three more RiPpLe events scheduled this semester. The next one will be on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m., which will feature SF State's Improv Nation, a unity art project and a disc jockey.
For more information visit RiPpLe Insite on Facebook or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom dropped out of the race to be California's next governor Friday according to his main Web site.
In his statement, Newsom said that he found it impossible to commit the time required for this race with a young family and the responsibilities at City Hall.
"I will continue to fight for change and the causes and issues for which I care deeply -- universal health care, a cleaner environment, and a green economy for our families, better education for our children, and, of course, equal rights under the law for all citizens," Newsom said.
With Newsom out of the race, Attorney General Jerry Brown is the only Democrat left. Republicans Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay; Steve Poizner, California's insurance commissioner; and Tom Campbell, former congressman, are also still in the race.
The 2010 California gubernatorial election will be held on Nov. 2 of that year.